Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens

Part 7 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

audaciously wanted to control him. When he called his first
Parliament after he had been king a year, he accordingly thought he
would take pretty high ground with them, and told them that he
commanded them 'as an absolute king.' The Parliament thought those
strong words, and saw the necessity of upholding their authority.
His Sowship had three children: Prince Henry, Prince Charles, and
the Princess Elizabeth. It would have been well for one of these,
and we shall too soon see which, if he had learnt a little wisdom
concerning Parliaments from his father's obstinacy.

Now, the people still labouring under their old dread of the
Catholic religion, this Parliament revived and strengthened the
severe laws against it. And this so angered ROBERT CATESBY, a
restless Catholic gentleman of an old family, that he formed one of
the most desperate and terrible designs ever conceived in the mind
of man; no less a scheme than the Gunpowder Plot.

His object was, when the King, lords, and commons, should be
assembled at the next opening of Parliament, to blow them up, one
and all, with a great mine of gunpowder. The first person to whom
he confided this horrible idea was THOMAS WINTER, a Worcestershire
gentleman who had served in the army abroad, and had been secretly
employed in Catholic projects. While Winter was yet undecided, and
when he had gone over to the Netherlands, to learn from the Spanish
Ambassador there whether there was any hope of Catholics being
relieved through the intercession of the King of Spain with his
Sowship, he found at Ostend a tall, dark, daring man, whom he had
known when they were both soldiers abroad, and whose name was GUIDO
- or GUY - FAWKES. Resolved to join the plot, he proposed it to
this man, knowing him to be the man for any desperate deed, and
they two came back to England together. Here, they admitted two
other conspirators; THOMAS PERCY, related to the Earl of
Northumberland, and JOHN WRIGHT, his brother-in-law. All these met
together in a solitary house in the open fields which were then
near Clement's Inn, now a closely blocked-up part of London; and
when they had all taken a great oath of secrecy, Catesby told the
rest what his plan was. They then went up-stairs into a garret,
and received the Sacrament from FATHER GERARD, a Jesuit, who is
said not to have known actually of the Gunpowder Plot, but who, I
think, must have had his suspicions that there was something
desperate afoot.

Percy was a Gentleman Pensioner, and as he had occasional duties to
perform about the Court, then kept at Whitehall, there would be
nothing suspicious in his living at Westminster. So, having looked
well about him, and having found a house to let, the back of which
joined the Parliament House, he hired it of a person named FERRIS,
for the purpose of undermining the wall. Having got possession of
this house, the conspirators hired another on the Lambeth side of
the Thames, which they used as a storehouse for wood, gunpowder,
and other combustible matters. These were to be removed at night
(and afterwards were removed), bit by bit, to the house at
Westminster; and, that there might be some trusty person to keep
watch over the Lambeth stores, they admitted another conspirator,
by name ROBERT KAY, a very poor Catholic gentleman.

All these arrangements had been made some months, and it was a
dark, wintry, December night, when the conspirators, who had been
in the meantime dispersed to avoid observation, met in the house at
Westminster, and began to dig. They had laid in a good stock of
eatables, to avoid going in and out, and they dug and dug with
great ardour. But, the wall being tremendously thick, and the work
very severe, they took into their plot CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT, a
younger brother of John Wright, that they might have a new pair of
hands to help. And Christopher Wright fell to like a fresh man,
and they dug and dug by night and by day, and Fawkes stood sentinel
all the time. And if any man's heart seemed to fail him at all,
Fawkes said, 'Gentlemen, we have abundance of powder and shot here,
and there is no fear of our being taken alive, even if discovered.'
The same Fawkes, who, in the capacity of sentinel, was always
prowling about, soon picked up the intelligence that the King had
prorogued the Parliament again, from the seventh of February, the
day first fixed upon, until the third of October. When the
conspirators knew this, they agreed to separate until after the
Christmas holidays, and to take no notice of each other in the
meanwhile, and never to write letters to one another on any
account. So, the house in Westminster was shut up again, and I
suppose the neighbours thought that those strange-looking men who
lived there so gloomily, and went out so seldom, were gone away to
have a merry Christmas somewhere.

It was the beginning of February, sixteen hundred and five, when
Catesby met his fellow-conspirators again at this Westminster
house. He had now admitted three more; JOHN GRANT, a Warwickshire
gentleman of a melancholy temper, who lived in a doleful house near
Stratford-upon-Avon, with a frowning wall all round it, and a deep
moat; ROBERT WINTER, eldest brother of Thomas; and Catesby's own
servant, THOMAS BATES, who, Catesby thought, had had some suspicion
of what his master was about. These three had all suffered more or
less for their religion in Elizabeth's time. And now, they all
began to dig again, and they dug and dug by night and by day.

They found it dismal work alone there, underground, with such a
fearful secret on their minds, and so many murders before them.
They were filled with wild fancies. Sometimes, they thought they
heard a great bell tolling, deep down in the earth under the
Parliament House; sometimes, they thought they heard low voices
muttering about the Gunpowder Plot; once in the morning, they
really did hear a great rumbling noise over their heads, as they
dug and sweated in their mine. Every man stopped and looked aghast
at his neighbour, wondering what had happened, when that bold
prowler, Fawkes, who had been out to look, came in and told them
that it was only a dealer in coals who had occupied a cellar under
the Parliament House, removing his stock in trade to some other
place. Upon this, the conspirators, who with all their digging and
digging had not yet dug through the tremendously thick wall,
changed their plan; hired that cellar, which was directly under the
House of Lords; put six-and-thirty barrels of gunpowder in it, and
covered them over with fagots and coals. Then they all dispersed
again till September, when the following new conspirators were
admitted; SIR EDWARD BAYNHAM, of Gloucestershire; SIR EVERARD
DIGBY, of Rutlandshire; AMBROSE ROOKWOOD, of Suffolk; FRANCIS
TRESHAM, of Northamptonshire. Most of these were rich, and were to
assist the plot, some with money and some with horses on which the
conspirators were to ride through the country and rouse the
Catholics after the Parliament should be blown into air.

Parliament being again prorogued from the third of October to the
fifth of November, and the conspirators being uneasy lest their
design should have been found out, Thomas Winter said he would go
up into the House of Lords on the day of the prorogation, and see
how matters looked. Nothing could be better. The unconscious
Commissioners were walking about and talking to one another, just
over the six-and-thirty barrels of gunpowder. He came back and
told the rest so, and they went on with their preparations. They
hired a ship, and kept it ready in the Thames, in which Fawkes was
to sail for Flanders after firing with a slow match the train that
was to explode the powder. A number of Catholic gentlemen not in
the secret, were invited, on pretence of a hunting party, to meet
Sir Everard Digby at Dunchurch on the fatal day, that they might be
ready to act together. And now all was ready.

But, now, the great wickedness and danger which had been all along
at the bottom of this wicked plot, began to show itself. As the
fifth of November drew near, most of the conspirators, remembering
that they had friends and relations who would be in the House of
Lords that day, felt some natural relenting, and a wish to warn
them to keep away. They were not much comforted by Catesby's
declaring that in such a cause he would blow up his own son. LORD
MOUNTEAGLE, Tresham's brother-in-law, was certain to be in the
house; and when Tresham found that he could not prevail upon the
rest to devise any means of sparing their friends, he wrote a
mysterious letter to this lord and left it at his lodging in the
dusk, urging him to keep away from the opening of Parliament,
'since God and man had concurred to punish the wickedness of the
times.' It contained the words 'that the Parliament should receive
a terrible blow, and yet should not see who hurt them.' And it
added, 'the danger is past, as soon as you have burnt the letter.'

The ministers and courtiers made out that his Sowship, by a direct
miracle from Heaven, found out what this letter meant. The truth
is, that they were not long (as few men would be) in finding out
for themselves; and it was decided to let the conspirators alone,
until the very day before the opening of Parliament. That the
conspirators had their fears, is certain; for, Tresham himself said
before them all, that they were every one dead men; and, although
even he did not take flight, there is reason to suppose that he had
warned other persons besides Lord Mounteagle. However, they were
all firm; and Fawkes, who was a man of iron, went down every day
and night to keep watch in the cellar as usual. He was there about
two in the afternoon of the fourth, when the Lord Chamberlain and
Lord Mounteagle threw open the door and looked in. 'Who are you,
friend?' said they. 'Why,' said Fawkes, 'I am Mr. Percy's servant,
and am looking after his store of fuel here.' 'Your master has
laid in a pretty good store,' they returned, and shut the door, and
went away. Fawkes, upon this, posted off to the other conspirators
to tell them all was quiet, and went back and shut himself up in
the dark, black cellar again, where he heard the bell go twelve
o'clock and usher in the fifth of November. About two hours
afterwards, he slowly opened the door, and came out to look about
him, in his old prowling way. He was instantly seized and bound,
by a party of soldiers under SIR THOMAS KNEVETT. He had a watch
upon him, some touchwood, some tinder, some slow matches; and there
was a dark lantern with a candle in it, lighted, behind the door.
He had his boots and spurs on - to ride to the ship, I suppose -
and it was well for the soldiers that they took him so suddenly.
If they had left him but a moment's time to light a match, he
certainly would have tossed it in among the powder, and blown up
himself and them.

They took him to the King's bed-chamber first of all, and there the
King (causing him to be held very tight, and keeping a good way
off), asked him how he could have the heart to intend to destroy so
many innocent people? 'Because,' said Guy Fawkes, 'desperate
diseases need desperate remedies.' To a little Scotch favourite,
with a face like a terrier, who asked him (with no particular
wisdom) why he had collected so much gunpowder, he replied, because
he had meant to blow Scotchmen back to Scotland, and it would take
a deal of powder to do that. Next day he was carried to the Tower,
but would make no confession. Even after being horribly tortured,
he confessed nothing that the Government did not already know;
though he must have been in a fearful state - as his signature,
still preserved, in contrast with his natural hand-writing before
he was put upon the dreadful rack, most frightfully shows. Bates,
a very different man, soon said the Jesuits had had to do with the
plot, and probably, under the torture, would as readily have said
anything. Tresham, taken and put in the Tower too, made
confessions and unmade them, and died of an illness that was heavy
upon him. Rookwood, who had stationed relays of his own horses all
the way to Dunchurch, did not mount to escape until the middle of
the day, when the news of the plot was all over London. On the
road, he came up with the two Wrights, Catesby, and Percy; and they
all galloped together into Northamptonshire. Thence to Dunchurch,
where they found the proposed party assembled. Finding, however,
that there had been a plot, and that it had been discovered, the
party disappeared in the course of the night, and left them alone
with Sir Everard Digby. Away they all rode again, through
Warwickshire and Worcestershire, to a house called Holbeach, on the
borders of Staffordshire. They tried to raise the Catholics on
their way, but were indignantly driven off by them. All this time
they were hotly pursued by the sheriff of Worcester, and a fast
increasing concourse of riders. At last, resolving to defend
themselves at Holbeach, they shut themselves up in the house, and
put some wet powder before the fire to dry. But it blew up, and
Catesby was singed and blackened, and almost killed, and some of
the others were sadly hurt. Still, knowing that they must die,
they resolved to die there, and with only their swords in their
hands appeared at the windows to be shot at by the sheriff and his
assistants. Catesby said to Thomas Winter, after Thomas had been
hit in the right arm which dropped powerless by his side, 'Stand by
me, Tom, and we will die together!' - which they did, being shot
through the body by two bullets from one gun. John Wright, and
Christopher Wright, and Percy, were also shot. Rookwood and Digby
were taken: the former with a broken arm and a wound in his body
too.

It was the fifteenth of January, before the trial of Guy Fawkes,
and such of the other conspirators as were left alive, came on.
They were all found guilty, all hanged, drawn, and quartered:
some, in St. Paul's Churchyard, on the top of Ludgate-hill; some,
before the Parliament House. A Jesuit priest, named HENRY GARNET,
to whom the dreadful design was said to have been communicated, was
taken and tried; and two of his servants, as well as a poor priest
who was taken with him, were tortured without mercy. He himself
was not tortured, but was surrounded in the Tower by tamperers and
traitors, and so was made unfairly to convict himself out of his
own mouth. He said, upon his trial, that he had done all he could
to prevent the deed, and that he could not make public what had
been told him in confession - though I am afraid he knew of the
plot in other ways. He was found guilty and executed, after a
manful defence, and the Catholic Church made a saint of him; some
rich and powerful persons, who had had nothing to do with the
project, were fined and imprisoned for it by the Star Chamber; the
Catholics, in general, who had recoiled with horror from the idea
of the infernal contrivance, were unjustly put under more severe
laws than before; and this was the end of the Gunpowder Plot.

SECOND PART

His Sowship would pretty willingly, I think, have blown the House
of Commons into the air himself; for, his dread and jealousy of it
knew no bounds all through his reign. When he was hard pressed for
money he was obliged to order it to meet, as he could get no money
without it; and when it asked him first to abolish some of the
monopolies in necessaries of life which were a great grievance to
the people, and to redress other public wrongs, he flew into a rage
and got rid of it again. At one time he wanted it to consent to
the Union of England with Scotland, and quarrelled about that. At
another time it wanted him to put down a most infamous Church
abuse, called the High Commission Court, and he quarrelled with it
about that. At another time it entreated him not to be quite so
fond of his archbishops and bishops who made speeches in his praise
too awful to be related, but to have some little consideration for
the poor Puritan clergy who were persecuted for preaching in their
own way, and not according to the archbishops and bishops; and they
quarrelled about that. In short, what with hating the House of
Commons, and pretending not to hate it; and what with now sending
some of its members who opposed him, to Newgate or to the Tower,
and now telling the rest that they must not presume to make
speeches about the public affairs which could not possibly concern
them; and what with cajoling, and bullying, and fighting, and being
frightened; the House of Commons was the plague of his Sowship's
existence. It was pretty firm, however, in maintaining its rights,
and insisting that the Parliament should make the laws, and not the
King by his own single proclamations (which he tried hard to do);
and his Sowship was so often distressed for money, in consequence,
that he sold every sort of title and public office as if they were
merchandise, and even invented a new dignity called a Baronetcy,
which anybody could buy for a thousand pounds.

These disputes with his Parliaments, and his hunting, and his
drinking, and his lying in bed - for he was a great sluggard -
occupied his Sowship pretty well. The rest of his time he chiefly
passed in hugging and slobbering his favourites. The first of
these was SIR PHILIP HERBERT, who had no knowledge whatever, except
of dogs, and horses, and hunting, but whom he soon made EARL OF
MONTGOMERY. The next, and a much more famous one, was ROBERT CARR,
or KER (for it is not certain which was his right name), who came
from the Border country, and whom he soon made VISCOUNT ROCHESTER,
and afterwards, EARL OF SOMERSET. The way in which his Sowship
doted on this handsome young man, is even more odious to think of,
than the way in which the really great men of England condescended
to bow down before him. The favourite's great friend was a certain
SIR THOMAS OVERBURY, who wrote his love-letters for him, and
assisted him in the duties of his many high places, which his own
ignorance prevented him from discharging. But this same Sir Thomas
having just manhood enough to dissuade the favourite from a wicked
marriage with the beautiful Countess of Essex, who was to get a
divorce from her husband for the purpose, the said Countess, in her
rage, got Sir Thomas put into the Tower, and there poisoned him.
Then the favourite and this bad woman were publicly married by the
King's pet bishop, with as much to-do and rejoicing, as if he had
been the best man, and she the best woman, upon the face of the
earth.

But, after a longer sunshine than might have been expected - of
seven years or so, that is to say - another handsome young man
started up and eclipsed the EARL OF SOMERSET. This was GEORGE
VILLIERS, the youngest son of a Leicestershire gentleman: who came
to Court with all the Paris fashions on him, and could dance as
well as the best mountebank that ever was seen. He soon danced
himself into the good graces of his Sowship, and danced the other
favourite out of favour. Then, it was all at once discovered that
the Earl and Countess of Somerset had not deserved all those great
promotions and mighty rejoicings, and they were separately tried
for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, and for other crimes. But,
the King was so afraid of his late favourite's publicly telling
some disgraceful things he knew of him - which he darkly threatened
to do - that he was even examined with two men standing, one on
either side of him, each with a cloak in his hand, ready to throw
it over his head and stop his mouth if he should break out with
what he had it in his power to tell. So, a very lame affair was
purposely made of the trial, and his punishment was an allowance of
four thousand pounds a year in retirement, while the Countess was
pardoned, and allowed to pass into retirement too. They hated one
another by this time, and lived to revile and torment each other
some years.

While these events were in progress, and while his Sowship was
making such an exhibition of himself, from day to day and from year
to year, as is not often seen in any sty, three remarkable deaths
took place in England. The first was that of the Minister, Robert
Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, who was past sixty, and had never been
strong, being deformed from his birth. He said at last that he had
no wish to live; and no Minister need have had, with his experience
of the meanness and wickedness of those disgraceful times. The
second was that of the Lady Arabella Stuart, who alarmed his
Sowship mightily, by privately marrying WILLIAM SEYMOUR, son of
LORD BEAUCHAMP, who was a descendant of King Henry the Seventh, and
who, his Sowship thought, might consequently increase and
strengthen any claim she might one day set up to the throne. She
was separated from her husband (who was put in the Tower) and
thrust into a boat to be confined at Durham. She escaped in a
man's dress to get away in a French ship from Gravesend to France,
but unhappily missed her husband, who had escaped too, and was soon
taken. She went raving mad in the miserable Tower, and died there
after four years. The last, and the most important of these three
deaths, was that of Prince Henry, the heir to the throne, in the
nineteenth year of his age. He was a promising young prince, and
greatly liked; a quiet, well-conducted youth, of whom two very good
things are known: first, that his father was jealous of him;
secondly, that he was the friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, languishing
through all those years in the Tower, and often said that no man
but his father would keep such a bird in such a cage. On the
occasion of the preparations for the marriage of his sister the
Princess Elizabeth with a foreign prince (and an unhappy marriage
it turned out), he came from Richmond, where he had been very ill,
to greet his new brother-in-law, at the palace at Whitehall. There
he played a great game at tennis, in his shirt, though it was very
cold weather, and was seized with an alarming illness, and died
within a fortnight of a putrid fever. For this young prince Sir
Walter Raleigh wrote, in his prison in the Tower, the beginning of
a History of the World: a wonderful instance how little his
Sowship could do to confine a great man's mind, however long he
might imprison his body.

And this mention of Sir Walter Raleigh, who had many faults, but
who never showed so many merits as in trouble and adversity, may
bring me at once to the end of his sad story. After an
imprisonment in the Tower of twelve long years, he proposed to
resume those old sea voyages of his, and to go to South America in
search of gold. His Sowship, divided between his wish to be on
good terms with the Spaniards through whose territory Sir Walter
must pass (he had long had an idea of marrying Prince Henry to a
Spanish Princess), and his avaricious eagerness to get hold of the
gold, did not know what to do. But, in the end, he set Sir Walter
free, taking securities for his return; and Sir Walter fitted out
an expedition at his own coast and, on the twenty-eighth of March,
one thousand six hundred and seventeen, sailed away in command of
one of its ships, which he ominously called the Destiny. The
expedition failed; the common men, not finding the gold they had
expected, mutinied; a quarrel broke out between Sir Walter and the
Spaniards, who hated him for old successes of his against them; and
he took and burnt a little town called SAINT THOMAS. For this he
was denounced to his Sowship by the Spanish Ambassador as a pirate;
and returning almost broken-hearted, with his hopes and fortunes
shattered, his company of friends dispersed, and his brave son (who
had been one of them) killed, he was taken - through the treachery
of SIR LEWIS STUKELY, his near relation, a scoundrel and a Vice-
Admiral - and was once again immured in his prison-home of so many
years.

His Sowship being mightily disappointed in not getting any gold,
Sir Walter Raleigh was tried as unfairly, and with as many lies and
evasions as the judges and law officers and every other authority
in Church and State habitually practised under such a King. After
a great deal of prevarication on all parts but his own, it was
declared that he must die under his former sentence, now fifteen
years old. So, on the twenty-eighth of October, one thousand six
hundred and eighteen, he was shut up in the Gate House at
Westminster to pass his late night on earth, and there he took
leave of his good and faithful lady who was worthy to have lived in
better days. At eight o'clock next morning, after a cheerful
breakfast, and a pipe, and a cup of good wine, he was taken to Old
Palace Yard in Westminster, where the scaffold was set up, and
where so many people of high degree were assembled to see him die,
that it was a matter of some difficulty to get him through the
crowd. He behaved most nobly, but if anything lay heavy on his
mind, it was that Earl of Essex, whose head he had seen roll off;
and he solemnly said that he had had no hand in bringing him to the
block, and that he had shed tears for him when he died. As the
morning was very cold, the Sheriff said, would he come down to a
fire for a little space, and warm himself? But Sir Walter thanked
him, and said no, he would rather it were done at once, for he was
ill of fever and ague, and in another quarter of an hour his
shaking fit would come upon him if he were still alive, and his
enemies might then suppose that he trembled for fear. With that,
he kneeled and made a very beautiful and Christian prayer. Before
he laid his head upon the block he felt the edge of the axe, and
said, with a smile upon his face, that it was a sharp medicine, but
would cure the worst disease. When he was bent down ready for
death, he said to the executioner, finding that he hesitated, 'What
dost thou fear? Strike, man!' So, the axe came down and struck
his head off, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

The new favourite got on fast. He was made a viscount, he was made
Duke of Buckingham, he was made a marquis, he was made Master of
the Horse, he was made Lord High Admiral - and the Chief Commander
of the gallant English forces that had dispersed the Spanish
Armada, was displaced to make room for him. He had the whole
kingdom at his disposal, and his mother sold all the profits and
honours of the State, as if she had kept a shop. He blazed all
over with diamonds and other precious stones, from his hatband and
his earrings to his shoes. Yet he was an ignorant presumptuous,
swaggering compound of knave and fool, with nothing but his beauty
and his dancing to recommend him. This is the gentleman who called
himself his Majesty's dog and slave, and called his Majesty Your
Sowship. His Sowship called him STEENIE; it is supposed, because
that was a nickname for Stephen, and because St. Stephen was
generally represented in pictures as a handsome saint.

His Sowship was driven sometimes to his wits'-end by his trimming
between the general dislike of the Catholic religion at home, and
his desire to wheedle and flatter it abroad, as his only means of
getting a rich princess for his son's wife: a part of whose
fortune he might cram into his greasy pockets. Prince Charles - or
as his Sowship called him, Baby Charles - being now PRINCE OF
WALES, the old project of a marriage with the Spanish King's
daughter had been revived for him; and as she could not marry a
Protestant without leave from the Pope, his Sowship himself
secretly and meanly wrote to his Infallibility, asking for it. The
negotiation for this Spanish marriage takes up a larger space in
great books, than you can imagine, but the upshot of it all is,
that when it had been held off by the Spanish Court for a long
time, Baby Charles and Steenie set off in disguise as Mr. Thomas
Smith and Mr. John Smith, to see the Spanish Princess; that Baby
Charles pretended to be desperately in love with her, and jumped
off walls to look at her, and made a considerable fool of himself
in a good many ways; that she was called Princess of Wales and that
the whole Spanish Court believed Baby Charles to be all but dying
for her sake, as he expressly told them he was; that Baby Charles
and Steenie came back to England, and were received with as much
rapture as if they had been a blessing to it; that Baby Charles had
actually fallen in love with HENRIETTA MARIA, the French King's
sister, whom he had seen in Paris; that he thought it a wonderfully
fine and princely thing to have deceived the Spaniards, all
through; and that he openly said, with a chuckle, as soon as he was
safe and sound at home again, that the Spaniards were great fools
to have believed him.

Like most dishonest men, the Prince and the favourite complained
that the people whom they had deluded were dishonest. They made
such misrepresentations of the treachery of the Spaniards in this
business of the Spanish match, that the English nation became eager
for a war with them. Although the gravest Spaniards laughed at the
idea of his Sowship in a warlike attitude, the Parliament granted
money for the beginning of hostilities, and the treaties with Spain
were publicly declared to be at an end. The Spanish ambassador in
London - probably with the help of the fallen favourite, the Earl
of Somerset - being unable to obtain speech with his Sowship,
slipped a paper into his hand, declaring that he was a prisoner in
his own house, and was entirely governed by Buckingham and his
creatures. The first effect of this letter was that his Sowship
began to cry and whine, and took Baby Charles away from Steenie,
and went down to Windsor, gabbling all sorts of nonsense. The end
of it was that his Sowship hugged his dog and slave, and said he
was quite satisfied.

He had given the Prince and the favourite almost unlimited power to
settle anything with the Pope as to the Spanish marriage; and he
now, with a view to the French one, signed a treaty that all Roman
Catholics in England should exercise their religion freely, and
should never be required to take any oath contrary thereto. In
return for this, and for other concessions much less to be
defended, Henrietta Maria was to become the Prince's wife, and was
to bring him a fortune of eight hundred thousand crowns.

His Sowship's eyes were getting red with eagerly looking for the
money, when the end of a gluttonous life came upon him; and, after
a fortnight's illness, on Sunday the twenty-seventh of March, one
thousand six hundred and twenty-five, he died. He had reigned
twenty-two years, and was fifty-nine years old. I know of nothing
more abominable in history than the adulation that was lavished on
this King, and the vice and corruption that such a barefaced habit
of lying produced in his court. It is much to be doubted whether
one man of honour, and not utterly self-disgraced, kept his place
near James the First. Lord Bacon, that able and wise philosopher,
as the First Judge in the Kingdom in this reign, became a public
spectacle of dishonesty and corruption; and in his base flattery of
his Sowship, and in his crawling servility to his dog and slave,
disgraced himself even more. But, a creature like his Sowship set
upon a throne is like the Plague, and everybody receives infection
from him.

CHAPTER XXXIII - ENGLAND UNDER CHARLES THE FIRST

BABY CHARLES became KING CHARLES THE FIRST, in the twenty-fifth
year of his age. Unlike his father, he was usually amiable in his
private character, and grave and dignified in his bearing; but,
like his father, he had monstrously exaggerated notions of the
rights of a king, and was evasive, and not to be trusted. If his
word could have been relied upon, his history might have had a
different end.

His first care was to send over that insolent upstart, Buckingham,
to bring Henrietta Maria from Paris to be his Queen; upon which
occasion Buckingham - with his usual audacity - made love to the
young Queen of Austria, and was very indignant indeed with CARDINAL
RICHELIEU, the French Minister, for thwarting his intentions. The
English people were very well disposed to like their new Queen, and
to receive her with great favour when she came among them as a
stranger. But, she held the Protestant religion in great dislike,
and brought over a crowd of unpleasant priests, who made her do
some very ridiculous things, and forced themselves upon the public
notice in many disagreeable ways. Hence, the people soon came to
dislike her, and she soon came to dislike them; and she did so much
all through this reign in setting the King (who was dotingly fond
of her) against his subjects, that it would have been better for
him if she had never been born.

Now, you are to understand that King Charles the First - of his own
determination to be a high and mighty King not to be called to
account by anybody, and urged on by his Queen besides -
deliberately set himself to put his Parliament down and to put
himself up. You are also to understand, that even in pursuit of
this wrong idea (enough in itself to have ruined any king) he never
took a straight course, but always took a crooked one.

He was bent upon war with Spain, though neither the House of
Commons nor the people were quite clear as to the justice of that
war, now that they began to think a little more about the story of
the Spanish match. But the King rushed into it hotly, raised money
by illegal means to meet its expenses, and encountered a miserable
failure at Cadiz, in the very first year of his reign. An
expedition to Cadiz had been made in the hope of plunder, but as it
was not successful, it was necessary to get a grant of money from
the Parliament; and when they met, in no very complying humour,
the, King told them, 'to make haste to let him have it, or it would
be the worse for themselves.' Not put in a more complying humour
by this, they impeached the King's favourite, the Duke of
Buckingham, as the cause (which he undoubtedly was) of many great
public grievances and wrongs. The King, to save him, dissolved the
Parliament without getting the money he wanted; and when the Lords
implored him to consider and grant a little delay, he replied, 'No,
not one minute.' He then began to raise money for himself by the
following means among others.

He levied certain duties called tonnage and poundage which had not
been granted by the Parliament, and could lawfully be levied by no
other power; he called upon the seaport towns to furnish, and to
pay all the cost for three months of, a fleet of armed ships; and
he required the people to unite in lending him large sums of money,
the repayment of which was very doubtful. If the poor people
refused, they were pressed as soldiers or sailors; if the gentry
refused, they were sent to prison. Five gentlemen, named SIR
THOMAS DARNEL, JOHN CORBET, WALTER EARL, JOHN HEVENINGHAM, and
EVERARD HAMPDEN, for refusing were taken up by a warrant of the
King's privy council, and were sent to prison without any cause but
the King's pleasure being stated for their imprisonment. Then the
question came to be solemnly tried, whether this was not a
violation of Magna Charta, and an encroachment by the King on the
highest rights of the English people. His lawyers contended No,
because to encroach upon the rights of the English people would be
to do wrong, and the King could do no wrong. The accommodating
judges decided in favour of this wicked nonsense; and here was a
fatal division between the King and the people.

For all this, it became necessary to call another Parliament. The
people, sensible of the danger in which their liberties were, chose
for it those who were best known for their determined opposition to
the King; but still the King, quite blinded by his determination to
carry everything before him, addressed them when they met, in a
contemptuous manner, and just told them in so many words that he
had only called them together because he wanted money. The
Parliament, strong enough and resolute enough to know that they
would lower his tone, cared little for what he said, and laid
before him one of the great documents of history, which is called
the PETITION OF RIGHT, requiring that the free men of England
should no longer be called upon to lend the King money, and should
no longer be pressed or imprisoned for refusing to do so; further,
that the free men of England should no longer be seized by the
King's special mandate or warrant, it being contrary to their
rights and liberties and the laws of their country. At first the
King returned an answer to this petition, in which he tried to
shirk it altogether; but, the House of Commons then showing their
determination to go on with the impeachment of Buckingham, the King
in alarm returned an answer, giving his consent to all that was
required of him. He not only afterwards departed from his word and
honour on these points, over and over again, but, at this very
time, he did the mean and dissembling act of publishing his first
answer and not his second - merely that the people might suppose
that the Parliament had not got the better of him.

That pestilent Buckingham, to gratify his own wounded vanity, had
by this time involved the country in war with France, as well as
with Spain. For such miserable causes and such miserable creatures
are wars sometimes made! But he was destined to do little more
mischief in this world. One morning, as he was going out of his
house to his carriage, he turned to speak to a certain Colonel
FRYER who was with him; and he was violently stabbed with a knife,
which the murderer left sticking in his heart. This happened in
his hall. He had had angry words up-stairs, just before, with some
French gentlemen, who were immediately suspected by his servants,
and had a close escape from being set upon and killed. In the
midst of the noise, the real murderer, who had gone to the kitchen
and might easily have got away, drew his sword and cried out, 'I am
the man!' His name was JOHN FELTON, a Protestant and a retired
officer in the army. He said he had had no personal ill-will to
the Duke, but had killed him as a curse to the country. He had
aimed his blow well, for Buckingham had only had time to cry out,
'Villain!' and then he drew out the knife, fell against a table,
and died.

The council made a mighty business of examining John Felton about
this murder, though it was a plain case enough, one would think.
He had come seventy miles to do it, he told them, and he did it for
the reason he had declared; if they put him upon the rack, as that
noble MARQUIS OF DORSET whom he saw before him, had the goodness to
threaten, he gave that marquis warning, that he would accuse HIM as
his accomplice! The King was unpleasantly anxious to have him
racked, nevertheless; but as the judges now found out that torture
was contrary to the law of England - it is a pity they did not make
the discovery a little sooner - John Felton was simply executed for
the murder he had done. A murder it undoubtedly was, and not in
the least to be defended: though he had freed England from one of
the most profligate, contemptible, and base court favourites to
whom it has ever yielded.

A very different man now arose. This was SIR THOMAS WENTWORTH, a
Yorkshire gentleman, who had sat in Parliament for a long time, and
who had favoured arbitrary and haughty principles, but who had gone
over to the people's side on receiving offence from Buckingham.
The King, much wanting such a man - for, besides being naturally
favourable to the King's cause, he had great abilities - made him
first a Baron, and then a Viscount, and gave him high employment,
and won him most completely.

A Parliament, however, was still in existence, and was NOT to be
won. On the twentieth of January, one thousand six hundred and
twenty-nine, SIR JOHN ELIOT, a great man who had been active in the
Petition of Right, brought forward other strong resolutions against
the King's chief instruments, and called upon the Speaker to put
them to the vote. To this the Speaker answered, 'he was commanded
otherwise by the King,' and got up to leave the chair - which,
according to the rules of the House of Commons would have obliged
it to adjourn without doing anything more - when two members, named
Mr. HOLLIS and Mr. VALENTINE, held him down. A scene of great
confusion arose among the members; and while many swords were drawn
and flashing about, the King, who was kept informed of all that was
going on, told the captain of his guard to go down to the House and
force the doors. The resolutions were by that time, however,
voted, and the House adjourned. Sir John Eliot and those two
members who had held the Speaker down, were quickly summoned before
the council. As they claimed it to be their privilege not to
answer out of Parliament for anything they had said in it, they
were committed to the Tower. The King then went down and dissolved
the Parliament, in a speech wherein he made mention of these
gentlemen as 'Vipers' - which did not do him much good that ever I
have heard of.

As they refused to gain their liberty by saying they were sorry for
what they had done, the King, always remarkably unforgiving, never
overlooked their offence. When they demanded to be brought up
before the court of King's Bench, he even resorted to the meanness
of having them moved about from prison to prison, so that the writs
issued for that purpose should not legally find them. At last they
came before the court and were sentenced to heavy fines, and to be
imprisoned during the King's pleasure. When Sir John Eliot's
health had quite given way, and he so longed for change of air and
scene as to petition for his release, the King sent back the answer
(worthy of his Sowship himself) that the petition was not humble
enough. When he sent another petition by his young son, in which
he pathetically offered to go back to prison when his health was
restored, if he might be released for its recovery, the King still
disregarded it. When he died in the Tower, and his children
petitioned to be allowed to take his body down to Cornwall, there
to lay it among the ashes of his forefathers, the King returned for
answer, 'Let Sir John Eliot's body be buried in the church of that
parish where he died.' All this was like a very little King
indeed, I think.

And now, for twelve long years, steadily pursuing his design of
setting himself up and putting the people down, the King called no
Parliament; but ruled without one. If twelve thousand volumes were
written in his praise (as a good many have been) it would still
remain a fact, impossible to be denied, that for twelve years King
Charles the First reigned in England unlawfully and despotically,
seized upon his subjects' goods and money at his pleasure, and
punished according to his unbridled will all who ventured to oppose
him. It is a fashion with some people to think that this King's
career was cut short; but I must say myself that I think he ran a
pretty long one.

WILLIAM LAUD, Archbishop of Canterbury, was the King's right-hand
man in the religious part of the putting down of the people's
liberties. Laud, who was a sincere man, of large learning but
small sense - for the two things sometimes go together in very
different quantities - though a Protestant, held opinions so near
those of the Catholics, that the Pope wanted to make a Cardinal of
him, if he would have accepted that favour. He looked upon vows,
robes, lighted candles, images, and so forth, as amazingly
important in religious ceremonies; and he brought in an immensity
of bowing and candle-snuffing. He also regarded archbishops and
bishops as a sort of miraculous persons, and was inveterate in the
last degree against any who thought otherwise. Accordingly, he
offered up thanks to Heaven, and was in a state of much pious
pleasure, when a Scotch clergyman, named LEIGHTON, was pilloried,
whipped, branded in the cheek, and had one of his ears cut off and
one of his nostrils slit, for calling bishops trumpery and the
inventions of men. He originated on a Sunday morning the
prosecution of WILLIAM PRYNNE, a barrister who was of similar
opinions, and who was fined a thousand pounds; who was pilloried;
who had his ears cut off on two occasions - one ear at a time - and
who was imprisoned for life. He highly approved of the punishment
of DOCTOR BASTWICK, a physician; who was also fined a thousand
pounds; and who afterwards had HIS ears cut off, and was imprisoned
for life. These were gentle methods of persuasion, some will tell
you: I think, they were rather calculated to be alarming to the
people.

In the money part of the putting down of the people's liberties,
the King was equally gentle, as some will tell you: as I think,
equally alarming. He levied those duties of tonnage and poundage,
and increased them as he thought fit. He granted monopolies to
companies of merchants on their paying him for them,
notwithstanding the great complaints that had, for years and years,
been made on the subject of monopolies. He fined the people for
disobeying proclamations issued by his Sowship in direct violation
of law. He revived the detested Forest laws, and took private
property to himself as his forest right. Above all, he determined
to have what was called Ship Money; that is to say, money for the
support of the fleet - not only from the seaports, but from all the
counties of England: having found out that, in some ancient time
or other, all the counties paid it. The grievance of this ship
money being somewhat too strong, JOHN CHAMBERS, a citizen of
London, refused to pay his part of it. For this the Lord Mayor
ordered John Chambers to prison, and for that John Chambers brought
a suit against the Lord Mayor. LORD SAY, also, behaved like a real
nobleman, and declared he would not pay. But, the sturdiest and
best opponent of the ship money was JOHN HAMPDEN, a gentleman of
Buckinghamshire, who had sat among the 'vipers' in the House of
Commons when there was such a thing, and who had been the bosom
friend of Sir John Eliot. This case was tried before the twelve
judges in the Court of Exchequer, and again the King's lawyers said
it was impossible that ship money could be wrong, because the King
could do no wrong, however hard he tried - and he really did try
very hard during these twelve years. Seven of the judges said that
was quite true, and Mr. Hampden was bound to pay: five of the
judges said that was quite false, and Mr. Hampden was not bound to
pay. So, the King triumphed (as he thought), by making Hampden the
most popular man in England; where matters were getting to that
height now, that many honest Englishmen could not endure their
country, and sailed away across the seas to found a colony in
Massachusetts Bay in America. It is said that Hampden himself and
his relation OLIVER CROMWELL were going with a company of such
voyagers, and were actually on board ship, when they were stopped
by a proclamation, prohibiting sea captains to carry out such
passengers without the royal license. But O! it would have been
well for the King if he had let them go! This was the state of
England. If Laud had been a madman just broke loose, he could not
have done more mischief than he did in Scotland. In his endeavours
(in which he was seconded by the King, then in person in that part
of his dominions) to force his own ideas of bishops, and his own
religious forms and ceremonies upon the Scotch, he roused that
nation to a perfect frenzy. They formed a solemn league, which
they called The Covenant, for the preservation of their own
religious forms; they rose in arms throughout the whole country;
they summoned all their men to prayers and sermons twice a day by
beat of drum; they sang psalms, in which they compared their
enemies to all the evil spirits that ever were heard of; and they
solemnly vowed to smite them with the sword. At first the King
tried force, then treaty, then a Scottish Parliament which did not
answer at all. Then he tried the EARL OF STRAFFORD, formerly Sir
Thomas Wentworth; who, as LORD WENTWORTH, had been governing
Ireland. He, too, had carried it with a very high hand there,
though to the benefit and prosperity of that country.

Strafford and Laud were for conquering the Scottish people by force
of arms. Other lords who were taken into council, recommended that
a Parliament should at last be called; to which the King
unwillingly consented. So, on the thirteenth of April, one
thousand six hundred and forty, that then strange sight, a
Parliament, was seen at Westminster. It is called the Short
Parliament, for it lasted a very little while. While the members
were all looking at one another, doubtful who would dare to speak,
MR. PYM arose and set forth all that the King had done unlawfully
during the past twelve years, and what was the position to which
England was reduced. This great example set, other members took
courage and spoke the truth freely, though with great patience and
moderation. The King, a little frightened, sent to say that if
they would grant him a certain sum on certain terms, no more ship
money should be raised. They debated the matter for two days; and
then, as they would not give him all he asked without promise or
inquiry, he dissolved them.

But they knew very well that he must have a Parliament now; and he
began to make that discovery too, though rather late in the day.
Wherefore, on the twenty-fourth of September, being then at York
with an army collected against the Scottish people, but his own men
sullen and discontented like the rest of the nation, the King told
the great council of the Lords, whom he had called to meet him
there, that he would summon another Parliament to assemble on the
third of November. The soldiers of the Covenant had now forced
their way into England and had taken possession of the northern
counties, where the coals are got. As it would never do to be
without coals, and as the King's troops could make no head against
the Covenanters so full of gloomy zeal, a truce was made, and a
treaty with Scotland was taken into consideration. Meanwhile the
northern counties paid the Covenanters to leave the coals alone,
and keep quiet.

We have now disposed of the Short Parliament. We have next to see
what memorable things were done by the Long one.

SECOND PART

THE Long Parliament assembled on the third of November, one
thousand six hundred and forty-one. That day week the Earl of
Strafford arrived from York, very sensible that the spirited and
determined men who formed that Parliament were no friends towards
him, who had not only deserted the cause of the people, but who had
on all occasions opposed himself to their liberties. The King told
him, for his comfort, that the Parliament 'should not hurt one hair
of his head.' But, on the very next day Mr. Pym, in the House of
Commons, and with great solemnity, impeached the Earl of Strafford
as a traitor. He was immediately taken into custody and fell from
his proud height.

It was the twenty-second of March before he was brought to trial in
Westminster Hall; where, although he was very ill and suffered
great pain, he defended himself with such ability and majesty, that
it was doubtful whether he would not get the best of it. But on
the thirteenth day of the trial, Pym produced in the House of
Commons a copy of some notes of a council, found by young SIR HARRY
VANE in a red velvet cabinet belonging to his father (Secretary
Vane, who sat at the council-table with the Earl), in which
Strafford had distinctly told the King that he was free from all
rules and obligations of government, and might do with his people
whatever he liked; and in which he had added - 'You have an army in
Ireland that you may employ to reduce this kingdom to obedience.'
It was not clear whether by the words 'this kingdom,' he had really
meant England or Scotland; but the Parliament contended that he
meant England, and this was treason. At the same sitting of the
House of Commons it was resolved to bring in a bill of attainder
declaring the treason to have been committed: in preference to
proceeding with the trial by impeachment, which would have required
the treason to be proved.

So, a bill was brought in at once, was carried through the House of
Commons by a large majority, and was sent up to the House of Lords.
While it was still uncertain whether the House of Lords would pass
it and the King consent to it, Pym disclosed to the House of
Commons that the King and Queen had both been plotting with the
officers of the army to bring up the soldiers and control the
Parliament, and also to introduce two hundred soldiers into the
Tower of London to effect the Earl's escape. The plotting with the
army was revealed by one GEORGE GORING, the son of a lord of that
name: a bad fellow who was one of the original plotters, and
turned traitor. The King had actually given his warrant for the
admission of the two hundred men into the Tower, and they would
have got in too, but for the refusal of the governor - a sturdy
Scotchman of the name of BALFOUR - to admit them. These matters
being made public, great numbers of people began to riot outside
the Houses of Parliament, and to cry out for the execution of the
Earl of Strafford, as one of the King's chief instruments against
them. The bill passed the House of Lords while the people were in
this state of agitation, and was laid before the King for his
assent, together with another bill declaring that the Parliament
then assembled should not be dissolved or adjourned without their
own consent. The King - not unwilling to save a faithful servant,
though he had no great attachment for him - was in some doubt what
to do; but he gave his consent to both bills, although he in his
heart believed that the bill against the Earl of Strafford was
unlawful and unjust. The Earl had written to him, telling him that
he was willing to die for his sake. But he had not expected that
his royal master would take him at his word quite so readily; for,
when he heard his doom, he laid his hand upon his heart, and said,
'Put not your trust in Princes!'

The King, who never could be straightforward and plain, through one
single day or through one single sheet of paper, wrote a letter to
the Lords, and sent it by the young Prince of Wales, entreating
them to prevail with the Commons that 'that unfortunate man should
fulfil the natural course of his life in a close imprisonment.' In
a postscript to the very same letter, he added, 'If he must die, it
were charity to reprieve him till Saturday.' If there had been any
doubt of his fate, this weakness and meanness would have settled
it. The very next day, which was the twelfth of May, he was
brought out to be beheaded on Tower Hill.

Archbishop Laud, who had been so fond of having people's ears
cropped off and their noses slit, was now confined in the Tower
too; and when the Earl went by his window to his death, he was
there, at his request, to give him his blessing. They had been
great friends in the King's cause, and the Earl had written to him
in the days of their power that he thought it would be an admirable
thing to have Mr. Hampden publicly whipped for refusing to pay the
ship money. However, those high and mighty doings were over now,
and the Earl went his way to death with dignity and heroism. The
governor wished him to get into a coach at the Tower gate, for fear
the people should tear him to pieces; but he said it was all one to
him whether he died by the axe or by the people's hands. So, he
walked, with a firm tread and a stately look, and sometimes pulled
off his hat to them as he passed along. They were profoundly
quiet. He made a speech on the scaffold from some notes he had
prepared (the paper was found lying there after his head was struck
off), and one blow of the axe killed him, in the forty-ninth year
of his age.

This bold and daring act, the Parliament accompanied by other
famous measures, all originating (as even this did) in the King's
having so grossly and so long abused his power. The name of
DELINQUENTS was applied to all sheriffs and other officers who had
been concerned in raising the ship money, or any other money, from
the people, in an unlawful manner; the Hampden judgment was
reversed; the judges who had decided against Hampden were called
upon to give large securities that they would take such
consequences as Parliament might impose upon them; and one was
arrested as he sat in High Court, and carried off to prison. Laud
was impeached; the unfortunate victims whose ears had been cropped
and whose noses had been slit, were brought out of prison in
triumph; and a bill was passed declaring that a Parliament should
be called every third year, and that if the King and the King's
officers did not call it, the people should assemble of themselves
and summon it, as of their own right and power. Great
illuminations and rejoicings took place over all these things, and
the country was wildly excited. That the Parliament took advantage
of this excitement and stirred them up by every means, there is no
doubt; but you are always to remember those twelve long years,
during which the King had tried so hard whether he really could do
any wrong or not.

All this time there was a great religious outcry against the right
of the Bishops to sit in Parliament; to which the Scottish people
particularly objected. The English were divided on this subject,
and, partly on this account and partly because they had had foolish
expectations that the Parliament would be able to take off nearly
all the taxes, numbers of them sometimes wavered and inclined
towards the King.

I believe myself, that if, at this or almost any other period of
his life, the King could have been trusted by any man not out of
his senses, he might have saved himself and kept his throne. But,
on the English army being disbanded, he plotted with the officers
again, as he had done before, and established the fact beyond all
doubt by putting his signature of approval to a petition against
the Parliamentary leaders, which was drawn up by certain officers.
When the Scottish army was disbanded, he went to Edinburgh in four
days - which was going very fast at that time - to plot again, and
so darkly too, that it is difficult to decide what his whole object
was. Some suppose that he wanted to gain over the Scottish
Parliament, as he did in fact gain over, by presents and favours,
many Scottish lords and men of power. Some think that he went to
get proofs against the Parliamentary leaders in England of their
having treasonably invited the Scottish people to come and help
them. With whatever object he went to Scotland, he did little good
by going. At the instigation of the EARL OF MONTROSE, a desperate
man who was then in prison for plotting, he tried to kidnap three
Scottish lords who escaped. A committee of the Parliament at home,
who had followed to watch him, writing an account of this INCIDENT,
as it was called, to the Parliament, the Parliament made a fresh
stir about it; were, or feigned to be, much alarmed for themselves;
and wrote to the EARL OF ESSEX, the commander-in-chief, for a guard
to protect them.

It is not absolutely proved that the King plotted in Ireland
besides, but it is very probable that he did, and that the Queen
did, and that he had some wild hope of gaining the Irish people
over to his side by favouring a rise among them. Whether or no,
they did rise in a most brutal and savage rebellion; in which,
encouraged by their priests, they committed such atrocities upon
numbers of the English, of both sexes and of all ages, as nobody
could believe, but for their being related on oath by eye-
witnesses. Whether one hundred thousand or two hundred thousand
Protestants were murdered in this outbreak, is uncertain; but, that
it was as ruthless and barbarous an outbreak as ever was known
among any savage people, is certain.

The King came home from Scotland, determined to make a great
struggle for his lost power. He believed that, through his
presents and favours, Scotland would take no part against him; and
the Lord Mayor of London received him with such a magnificent
dinner that he thought he must have become popular again in
England. It would take a good many Lord Mayors, however, to make a
people, and the King soon found himself mistaken.

Not so soon, though, but that there was a great opposition in the
Parliament to a celebrated paper put forth by Pym and Hampden and
the rest, called 'THE REMONSTRANCE,' which set forth all the
illegal acts that the King had ever done, but politely laid the
blame of them on his bad advisers. Even when it was passed and
presented to him, the King still thought himself strong enough to
discharge Balfour from his command in the Tower, and to put in his
place a man of bad character; to whom the Commons instantly
objected, and whom he was obliged to abandon. At this time, the
old outcry about the Bishops became louder than ever, and the old
Archbishop of York was so near being murdered as he went down to
the House of Lords - being laid hold of by the mob and violently
knocked about, in return for very foolishly scolding a shrill boy
who was yelping out 'No Bishops!' - that he sent for all the
Bishops who were in town, and proposed to them to sign a
declaration that, as they could no longer without danger to their
lives attend their duty in Parliament, they protested against the
lawfulness of everything done in their absence. This they asked
the King to send to the House of Lords, which he did. Then the
House of Commons impeached the whole party of Bishops and sent them
off to the Tower:

Taking no warning from this; but encouraged by there being a
moderate party in the Parliament who objected to these strong
measures, the King, on the third of January, one thousand six
hundred and forty-two, took the rashest step that ever was taken by
mortal man.

Of his own accord and without advice, he sent the Attorney-General
to the House of Lords, to accuse of treason certain members of
Parliament who as popular leaders were the most obnoxious to him;
LORD KIMBOLTON, SIR ARTHUR HASELRIG, DENZIL HOLLIS, JOHN PYM (they
used to call him King Pym, he possessed such power and looked so
big), JOHN HAMPDEN, and WILLIAM STRODE. The houses of those
members he caused to be entered, and their papers to be sealed up.
At the same time, he sent a messenger to the House of Commons
demanding to have the five gentlemen who were members of that House
immediately produced. To this the House replied that they should
appear as soon as there was any legal charge against them, and
immediately adjourned.

Next day, the House of Commons send into the City to let the Lord
Mayor know that their privileges are invaded by the King, and that
there is no safety for anybody or anything. Then, when the five
members are gone out of the way, down comes the King himself, with
all his guard and from two to three hundred gentlemen and soldiers,
of whom the greater part were armed. These he leaves in the hall;
and then, with his nephew at his side, goes into the House, takes
off his hat, and walks up to the Speaker's chair. The Speaker
leaves it, the King stands in front of it, looks about him steadily
for a little while, and says he has come for those five members.
No one speaks, and then he calls John Pym by name. No one speaks,
and then he calls Denzil Hollis by name. No one speaks, and then
he asks the Speaker of the House where those five members are? The
Speaker, answering on his knee, nobly replies that he is the
servant of that House, and that he has neither eyes to see, nor
tongue to speak, anything but what the House commands him. Upon
this, the King, beaten from that time evermore, replies that he
will seek them himself, for they have committed treason; and goes
out, with his hat in his hand, amid some audible murmurs from the
members.

No words can describe the hurry that arose out of doors when all
this was known. The five members had gone for safety to a house in
Coleman-street, in the City, where they were guarded all night; and
indeed the whole city watched in arms like an army. At ten o'clock
in the morning, the King, already frightened at what he had done,
came to the Guildhall, with only half a dozen lords, and made a
speech to the people, hoping they would not shelter those whom he
accused of treason. Next day, he issued a proclamation for the
apprehension of the five members; but the Parliament minded it so
little that they made great arrangements for having them brought
down to Westminster in great state, five days afterwards. The King
was so alarmed now at his own imprudence, if not for his own
safety, that he left his palace at Whitehall, and went away with
his Queen and children to Hampton Court.

It was the eleventh of May, when the five members were carried in
state and triumph to Westminster. They were taken by water. The
river could not be seen for the boats on it; and the five members
were hemmed in by barges full of men and great guns, ready to
protect them, at any cost. Along the Strand a large body of the
train-bands of London, under their commander, SKIPPON, marched to
be ready to assist the little fleet. Beyond them, came a crowd who
choked the streets, roaring incessantly about the Bishops and the
Papists, and crying out contemptuously as they passed Whitehall,
'What has become of the King?' With this great noise outside the
House of Commons, and with great silence within, Mr. Pym rose and
informed the House of the great kindness with which they had been
received in the City. Upon that, the House called the sheriffs in
and thanked them, and requested the train-bands, under their
commander Skippon, to guard the House of Commons every day. Then,
came four thousand men on horseback out of Buckinghamshire,
offering their services as a guard too, and bearing a petition to
the King, complaining of the injury that had been done to Mr.
Hampden, who was their county man and much beloved and honoured.

When the King set off for Hampton Court, the gentlemen and soldiers
who had been with him followed him out of town as far as Kingston-
upon-Thames; next day, Lord Digby came to them from the King at
Hampton Court, in his coach and six, to inform them that the King
accepted their protection. This, the Parliament said, was making
war against the kingdom, and Lord Digby fled abroad. The
Parliament then immediately applied themselves to getting hold of
the military power of the country, well knowing that the King was
already trying hard to use it against them, and that he had
secretly sent the Earl of Newcastle to Hull, to secure a valuable
magazine of arms and gunpowder that was there. In those times,
every county had its own magazines of arms and powder, for its own
train-bands or militia; so, the Parliament brought in a bill
claiming the right (which up to this time had belonged to the King)
of appointing the Lord Lieutenants of counties, who commanded these
train-bands; also, of having all the forts, castles, and garrisons
in the kingdom, put into the hands of such governors as they, the
Parliament, could confide in. It also passed a law depriving the
Bishops of their votes. The King gave his assent to that bill, but
would not abandon the right of appointing the Lord Lieutenants,
though he said he was willing to appoint such as might be suggested
to him by the Parliament. When the Earl of Pembroke asked him
whether he would not give way on that question for a time, he said,
'By God! not for one hour!' and upon this he and the Parliament
went to war.

His young daughter was betrothed to the Prince of Orange. On
pretence of taking her to the country of her future husband, the
Queen was already got safely away to Holland, there to pawn the
Crown jewels for money to raise an army on the King's side. The
Lord Admiral being sick, the House of Commons now named the Earl of
Warwick to hold his place for a year. The King named another
gentleman; the House of Commons took its own way, and the Earl of
Warwick became Lord Admiral without the King's consent. The
Parliament sent orders down to Hull to have that magazine removed
to London; the King went down to Hull to take it himself. The
citizens would not admit him into the town, and the governor would
not admit him into the castle. The Parliament resolved that
whatever the two Houses passed, and the King would not consent to,
should be called an ORDINANCE, and should be as much a law as if he
did consent to it. The King protested against this, and gave
notice that these ordinances were not to be obeyed. The King,
attended by the majority of the House of Peers, and by many members
of the House of Commons, established himself at York. The
Chancellor went to him with the Great Seal, and the Parliament made
a new Great Seal. The Queen sent over a ship full of arms and
ammunition, and the King issued letters to borrow money at high
interest. The Parliament raised twenty regiments of foot and
seventy-five troops of horse; and the people willingly aided them
with their money, plate, jewellery, and trinkets - the married
women even with their wedding-rings. Every member of Parliament
who could raise a troop or a regiment in his own part of the
country, dressed it according to his taste and in his own colours,
and commanded it. Foremost among them all, OLIVER CROMWELL raised
a troop of horse - thoroughly in earnest and thoroughly well armed
- who were, perhaps, the best soldiers that ever were seen.

In some of their proceedings, this famous Parliament passed the
bounds of previous law and custom, yielded to and favoured riotous
assemblages of the people, and acted tyrannically in imprisoning
some who differed from the popular leaders. But again, you are
always to remember that the twelve years during which the King had
had his own wilful way, had gone before; and that nothing could
make the times what they might, could, would, or should have been,
if those twelve years had never rolled away.

THIRD PART

I SHALL not try to relate the particulars of the great civil war
between King Charles the First and the Long Parliament, which
lasted nearly four years, and a full account of which would fill
many large books. It was a sad thing that Englishmen should once
more be fighting against Englishmen on English ground; but, it is
some consolation to know that on both sides there was great
humanity, forbearance, and honour. The soldiers of the Parliament
were far more remarkable for these good qualities than the soldiers
of the King (many of whom fought for mere pay without much caring
for the cause); but those of the nobility and gentry who were on
the King's side were so brave, and so faithful to him, that their
conduct cannot but command our highest admiration. Among them were
great numbers of Catholics, who took the royal side because the
Queen was so strongly of their persuasion.

The King might have distinguished some of these gallant spirits, if
he had been as generous a spirit himself, by giving them the
command of his army. Instead of that, however, true to his old
high notions of royalty, he entrusted it to his two nephews, PRINCE
RUPERT and PRINCE MAURICE, who were of royal blood and came over
from abroad to help him. It might have been better for him if they
had stayed away; since Prince Rupert was an impetuous, hot-headed
fellow, whose only idea was to dash into battle at all times and
seasons, and lay about him.

The general-in-chief of the Parliamentary army was the Earl of
Essex, a gentleman of honour and an excellent soldier. A little
while before the war broke out, there had been some rioting at
Westminster between certain officious law students and noisy
soldiers, and the shopkeepers and their apprentices, and the
general people in the streets. At that time the King's friends
called the crowd, Roundheads, because the apprentices wore short
hair; the crowd, in return, called their opponents Cavaliers,
meaning that they were a blustering set, who pretended to be very
military. These two words now began to be used to distinguish the
two sides in the civil war. The Royalists also called the
Parliamentary men Rebels and Rogues, while the Parliamentary men
called THEM Malignants, and spoke of themselves as the Godly, the
Honest, and so forth.

The war broke out at Portsmouth, where that double traitor Goring
had again gone over to the King and was besieged by the
Parliamentary troops. Upon this, the King proclaimed the Earl of
Essex and the officers serving under him, traitors, and called upon
his loyal subjects to meet him in arms at Nottingham on the twenty-
fifth of August. But his loyal subjects came about him in scanty
numbers, and it was a windy, gloomy day, and the Royal Standard got
blown down, and the whole affair was very melancholy. The chief
engagements after this, took place in the vale of the Red Horse
near Banbury, at Brentford, at Devizes, at Chalgrave Field (where
Mr. Hampden was so sorely wounded while fighting at the head of his
men, that he died within a week), at Newbury (in which battle LORD
FALKLAND, one of the best noblemen on the King's side, was killed),
at Leicester, at Naseby, at Winchester, at Marston Moor near York,
at Newcastle, and in many other parts of England and Scotland.
These battles were attended with various successes. At one time,
the King was victorious; at another time, the Parliament. But
almost all the great and busy towns were against the King; and when
it was considered necessary to fortify London, all ranks of people,
from labouring men and women, up to lords and ladies, worked hard
together with heartiness and good will. The most distinguished
leaders on the Parliamentary side were HAMPDEN, SIR THOMAS FAIRFAX,
and, above all, OLIVER CROMWELL, and his son-in-law IRETON.

During the whole of this war, the people, to whom it was very
expensive and irksome, and to whom it was made the more distressing
by almost every family being divided - some of its members
attaching themselves to one side and some to the other - were over
and over again most anxious for peace. So were some of the best
men in each cause. Accordingly, treaties of peace were discussed
between commissioners from the Parliament and the King; at York, at
Oxford (where the King held a little Parliament of his own), and at
Uxbridge. But they came to nothing. In all these negotiations,
and in all his difficulties, the King showed himself at his best.
He was courageous, cool, self-possessed, and clever; but, the old
taint of his character was always in him, and he was never for one
single moment to be trusted. Lord Clarendon, the historian, one of
his highest admirers, supposes that he had unhappily promised the
Queen never to make peace without her consent, and that this must
often be taken as his excuse. He never kept his word from night to
morning. He signed a cessation of hostilities with the blood-
stained Irish rebels for a sum of money, and invited the Irish
regiments over, to help him against the Parliament. In the battle
of Naseby, his cabinet was seized and was found to contain a
correspondence with the Queen, in which he expressly told her that
he had deceived the Parliament - a mongrel Parliament, he called it
now, as an improvement on his old term of vipers - in pretending to
recognise it and to treat with it; and from which it further
appeared that he had long been in secret treaty with the Duke of
Lorraine for a foreign army of ten thousand men. Disappointed in
this, he sent a most devoted friend of his, the EARL OF GLAMORGAN,
to Ireland, to conclude a secret treaty with the Catholic powers,
to send him an Irish army of ten thousand men; in return for which
he was to bestow great favours on the Catholic religion. And, when
this treaty was discovered in the carriage of a fighting Irish
Archbishop who was killed in one of the many skirmishes of those
days, he basely denied and deserted his attached friend, the Earl,
on his being charged with high treason; and - even worse than this
- had left blanks in the secret instructions he gave him with his
own kingly hand, expressly that he might thus save himself.

At last, on the twenty-seventh day of April, one thousand six
hundred and forty-six, the King found himself in the city of
Oxford, so surrounded by the Parliamentary army who were closing in
upon him on all sides that he felt that if he would escape he must
delay no longer. So, that night, having altered the cut of his
hair and beard, he was dressed up as a servant and put upon a horse
with a cloak strapped behind him, and rode out of the town behind
one of his own faithful followers, with a clergyman of that country
who knew the road well, for a guide. He rode towards London as far
as Harrow, and then altered his plans and resolved, it would seem,
to go to the Scottish camp. The Scottish men had been invited over
to help the Parliamentary army, and had a large force then in
England. The King was so desperately intriguing in everything he
did, that it is doubtful what he exactly meant by this step. He
took it, anyhow, and delivered himself up to the EARL OF LEVEN, the
Scottish general-in-chief, who treated him as an honourable
prisoner. Negotiations between the Parliament on the one hand and
the Scottish authorities on the other, as to what should be done
with him, lasted until the following February. Then, when the King
had refused to the Parliament the concession of that old militia
point for twenty years, and had refused to Scotland the recognition
of its Solemn League and Covenant, Scotland got a handsome sum for
its army and its help, and the King into the bargain. He was
taken, by certain Parliamentary commissioners appointed to receive
him, to one of his own houses, called Holmby House, near Althorpe,
in Northamptonshire.

While the Civil War was still in progress, John Pym died, and was
buried with great honour in Westminster Abbey - not with greater
honour than he deserved, for the liberties of Englishmen owe a
mighty debt to Pym and Hampden. The war was but newly over when
the Earl of Essex died, of an illness brought on by his having
overheated himself in a stag hunt in Windsor Forest. He, too, was
buried in Westminster Abbey, with great state. I wish it were not
necessary to add that Archbishop Laud died upon the scaffold when
the war was not yet done. His trial lasted in all nearly a year,
and, it being doubtful even then whether the charges brought
against him amounted to treason, the odious old contrivance of the
worst kings was resorted to, and a bill of attainder was brought in
against him. He was a violently prejudiced and mischievous person;
had had strong ear-cropping and nose-splitting propensities, as you
know; and had done a world of harm. But he died peaceably, and
like a brave old man.

FOURTH PART

WHEN the Parliament had got the King into their hands, they became
very anxious to get rid of their army, in which Oliver Cromwell had
begun to acquire great power; not only because of his courage and
high abilities, but because he professed to be very sincere in the
Scottish sort of Puritan religion that was then exceedingly popular
among the soldiers. They were as much opposed to the Bishops as to
the Pope himself; and the very privates, drummers, and trumpeters,
had such an inconvenient habit of starting up and preaching long-
winded discourses, that I would not have belonged to that army on
any account.

So, the Parliament, being far from sure but that the army might
begin to preach and fight against them now it had nothing else to
do, proposed to disband the greater part of it, to send another
part to serve in Ireland against the rebels, and to keep only a
small force in England. But, the army would not consent to be
broken up, except upon its own conditions; and, when the Parliament
showed an intention of compelling it, it acted for itself in an
unexpected manner. A certain cornet, of the name of JOICE, arrived
at Holmby House one night, attended by four hundred horsemen, went
into the King's room with his hat in one hand and a pistol in the
other, and told the King that he had come to take him away. The
King was willing enough to go, and only stipulated that he should
be publicly required to do so next morning. Next morning,
accordingly, he appeared on the top of the steps of the house, and
asked Comet Joice before his men and the guard set there by the
Parliament, what authority he had for taking him away? To this
Cornet Joice replied, 'The authority of the army.' 'Have you a
written commission?' said the King. Joice, pointing to his four
hundred men on horseback, replied, 'That is my commission.'
'Well,' said the King, smiling, as if he were pleased, 'I never
before read such a commission; but it is written in fair and
legible characters. This is a company of as handsome proper
gentlemen as I have seen a long while.' He was asked where he
would like to live, and he said at Newmarket. So, to Newmarket he
and Cornet Joice and the four hundred horsemen rode; the King
remarking, in the same smiling way, that he could ride as far at a
spell as Cornet Joice, or any man there.

The King quite believed, I think, that the army were his friends.
He said as much to Fairfax when that general, Oliver Cromwell, and
Ireton, went to persuade him to return to the custody of the
Parliament. He preferred to remain as he was, and resolved to
remain as he was. And when the army moved nearer and nearer London
to frighten the Parliament into yielding to their demands, they
took the King with them. It was a deplorable thing that England
should be at the mercy of a great body of soldiers with arms in
their hands; but the King certainly favoured them at this important
time of his life, as compared with the more lawful power that tried
to control him. It must be added, however, that they treated him,
as yet, more respectfully and kindly than the Parliament had done.
They allowed him to be attended by his own servants, to be
splendidly entertained at various houses, and to see his children -
at Cavesham House, near Reading - for two days. Whereas, the
Parliament had been rather hard with him, and had only allowed him
to ride out and play at bowls.

It is much to be believed that if the King could have been trusted,
even at this time, he might have been saved. Even Oliver Cromwell
expressly said that he did believe that no man could enjoy his
possessions in peace, unless the King had his rights. He was not
unfriendly towards the King; he had been present when he received
his children, and had been much affected by the pitiable nature of
the scene; he saw the King often; he frequently walked and talked
with him in the long galleries and pleasant gardens of the Palace
at Hampton Court, whither he was now removed; and in all this
risked something of his influence with the army. But, the King was
in secret hopes of help from the Scottish people; and the moment he
was encouraged to join them he began to be cool to his new friends,
the army, and to tell the officers that they could not possibly do
without him. At the very time, too, when he was promising to make
Cromwell and Ireton noblemen, if they would help him up to his old
height, he was writing to the Queen that he meant to hang them.
They both afterwards declared that they had been privately informed
that such a letter would be found, on a certain evening, sewed up
in a saddle which would be taken to the Blue Boar in Holborn to be
sent to Dover; and that they went there, disguised as common
soldiers, and sat drinking in the inn-yard until a man came with
the saddle, which they ripped up with their knives, and therein
found the letter. I see little reason to doubt the story. It is
certain that Oliver Cromwell told one of the King's most faithful
followers that the King could not be trusted, and that he would not
be answerable if anything amiss were to happen to him. Still, even
after that, he kept a promise he had made to the King, by letting
him know that there was a plot with a certain portion of the army
to seize him. I believe that, in fact, he sincerely wanted the
King to escape abroad, and so to be got rid of without more trouble
or danger. That Oliver himself had work enough with the army is
pretty plain; for some of the troops were so mutinous against him,
and against those who acted with him at this time, that he found it
necessary to have one man shot at the head of his regiment to
overawe the rest.

The King, when he received Oliver's warning, made his escape from
Hampton Court; after some indecision and uncertainty, he went to
Carisbrooke Castle in the Isle of Wight. At first, he was pretty
free there; but, even there, he carried on a pretended treaty with
the Parliament, while he was really treating with commissioners
from Scotland to send an army into England to take his part. When
he broke off this treaty with the Parliament (having settled with
Scotland) and was treated as a prisoner, his treatment was not
changed too soon, for he had plotted to escape that very night to a
ship sent by the Queen, which was lying off the island.

He was doomed to be disappointed in his hopes from Scotland. The
agreement he had made with the Scottish Commissioners was not
favourable enough to the religion of that country to please the
Scottish clergy; and they preached against it. The consequence
was, that the army raised in Scotland and sent over, was too small
to do much; and that, although it was helped by a rising of the
Royalists in England and by good soldiers from Ireland, it could
make no head against the Parliamentary army under such men as
Cromwell and Fairfax. The King's eldest son, the Prince of Wales,
came over from Holland with nineteen ships (a part of the English
fleet having gone over to him) to help his father; but nothing came
of his voyage, and he was fain to return. The most remarkable
event of this second civil war was the cruel execution by the
Parliamentary General, of SIR CHARLES LUCAS and SIR GEORGE LISLE,
two grand Royalist generals, who had bravely defended Colchester
under every disadvantage of famine and distress for nearly three
months. When Sir Charles Lucas was shot, Sir George Lisle kissed
his body, and said to the soldiers who were to shoot him, 'Come
nearer, and make sure of me.' 'I warrant you, Sir George,' said
one of the soldiers, 'we shall hit you.' 'AY?' he returned with a
smile, 'but I have been nearer to you, my friends, many a time, and
you have missed me.'

The Parliament, after being fearfully bullied by the army - who
demanded to have seven members whom they disliked given up to them
- had voted that they would have nothing more to do with the King.
On the conclusion, however, of this second civil war (which did not
last more than six months), they appointed commissioners to treat
with him. The King, then so far released again as to be allowed to
live in a private house at Newport in the Isle of Wight, managed
his own part of the negotiation with a sense that was admired by
all who saw him, and gave up, in the end, all that was asked of him
- even yielding (which he had steadily refused, so far) to the
temporary abolition of the bishops, and the transfer of their
church land to the Crown. Still, with his old fatal vice upon him,
when his best friends joined the commissioners in beseeching him to
yield all those points as the only means of saving himself from the
army, he was plotting to escape from the island; he was holding
correspondence with his friends and the Catholics in Ireland,
though declaring that he was not; and he was writing, with his own
hand, that in what he yielded he meant nothing but to get time to
escape.

Matters were at this pass when the army, resolved to defy the
Parliament, marched up to London. The Parliament, not afraid of
them now, and boldly led by Hollis, voted that the King's
concessions were sufficient ground for settling the peace of the
kingdom. Upon that, COLONEL RICH and COLONEL PRIDE went down to
the House of Commons with a regiment of horse soldiers and a
regiment of foot; and Colonel Pride, standing in the lobby with a
list of the members who were obnoxious to the army in his hand, had
them pointed out to him as they came through, and took them all
into custody. This proceeding was afterwards called by the people,
for a joke, PRIDE'S PURGE. Cromwell was in the North, at the head
of his men, at the time, but when he came home, approved of what
had been done.

What with imprisoning some members and causing others to stay away,
the army had now reduced the House of Commons to some fifty or so.
These soon voted that it was treason in a king to make war against
his parliament and his people, and sent an ordinance up to the
House of Lords for the King's being tried as a traitor. The House
of Lords, then sixteen in number, to a man rejected it. Thereupon,
the Commons made an ordinance of their own, that they were the
supreme government of the country, and would bring the King to
trial.

The King had been taken for security to a place called Hurst
Castle: a lonely house on a rock in the sea, connected with the
coast of Hampshire by a rough road two miles long at low water.
Thence, he was ordered to be removed to Windsor; thence, after
being but rudely used there, and having none but soldiers to wait
upon him at table, he was brought up to St. James's Palace in
London, and told that his trial was appointed for next day.

On Saturday, the twentieth of January, one thousand six hundred and
forty-nine, this memorable trial began. The House of Commons had
settled that one hundred and thirty-five persons should form the
Court, and these were taken from the House itself, from among the
officers of the army, and from among the lawyers and citizens.
JOHN BRADSHAW, serjeant-at-law, was appointed president. The place
was Westminster Hall. At the upper end, in a red velvet chair, sat
the president, with his hat (lined with plates of iron for his
protection) on his head. The rest of the Court sat on side
benches, also wearing their hats. The King's seat was covered with
velvet, like that of the president, and was opposite to it. He was
brought from St. James's to Whitehall, and from Whitehall he came
by water to his trial.

When he came in, he looked round very steadily on the Court, and on
the great number of spectators, and then sat down: presently he
got up and looked round again. On the indictment 'against Charles
Stuart, for high treason,' being read, he smiled several times, and
he denied the authority of the Court, saying that there could be no
parliament without a House of Lords, and that he saw no House of
Lords there. Also, that the King ought to be there, and that he
saw no King in the King's right place. Bradshaw replied, that the
Court was satisfied with its authority, and that its authority was
God's authority and the kingdom's. He then adjourned the Court to
the following Monday. On that day, the trial was resumed, and went
on all the week. When the Saturday came, as the King passed
forward to his place in the Hall, some soldiers and others cried
for 'justice!' and execution on him. That day, too, Bradshaw, like
an angry Sultan, wore a red robe, instead of the black robe he had
worn before. The King was sentenced to death that day. As he went
out, one solitary soldier said, 'God bless you, Sir!' For this,
his officer struck him. The King said he thought the punishment
exceeded the offence. The silver head of his walking-stick had
fallen off while he leaned upon it, at one time of the trial. The
accident seemed to disturb him, as if he thought it ominous of the
falling of his own head; and he admitted as much, now it was all
over.

Being taken back to Whitehall, he sent to the House of Commons,
saying that as the time of his execution might be nigh, he wished
he might be allowed to see his darling children. It was granted.
On the Monday he was taken back to St. James's; and his two
children then in England, the PRINCESS ELIZABETH thirteen years
old, and the DUKE OF GLOUCESTER nine years old, were brought to
take leave of him, from Sion House, near Brentford. It was a sad
and touching scene, when he kissed and fondled those poor children,
and made a little present of two diamond seals to the Princess, and
gave them tender messages to their mother (who little deserved
them, for she had a lover of her own whom she married soon
afterwards), and told them that he died 'for the laws and liberties
of the land.' I am bound to say that I don't think he did, but I
dare say he believed so.

There were ambassadors from Holland that day, to intercede for the
unhappy King, whom you and I both wish the Parliament had spared;
but they got no answer. The Scottish Commissioners interceded too;
so did the Prince of Wales, by a letter in which he offered as the
next heir to the throne, to accept any conditions from the
Parliament; so did the Queen, by letter likewise.

Notwithstanding all, the warrant for the execution was this day
signed. There is a story that as Oliver Cromwell went to the table
with the pen in his hand to put his signature to it, he drew his
pen across the face of one of the commissioners, who was standing
near, and marked it with ink. That commissioner had not signed his
own name yet, and the story adds that when he came to do it he
marked Cromwell's face with ink in the same way.

The King slept well, untroubled by the knowledge that it was his
last night on earth, and rose on the thirtieth of January, two
hours before day, and dressed himself carefully. He put on two
shirts lest he should tremble with the cold, and had his hair very
carefully combed. The warrant had been directed to three officers
of the army, COLONEL HACKER, COLONEL HUNKS, and COLONEL PHAYER. At
ten o'clock, the first of these came to the door and said it was
time to go to Whitehall. The King, who had always been a quick
walker, walked at his usual speed through the Park, and called out
to the guard, with his accustomed voice of command, 'March on
apace!' When he came to Whitehall, he was taken to his own
bedroom, where a breakfast was set forth. As he had taken the
Sacrament, he would eat nothing more; but, at about the time when
the church bells struck twelve at noon (for he had to wait, through
the scaffold not being ready), he took the advice of the good
BISHOP JUXON who was with him, and ate a little bread and drank a
glass of claret. Soon after he had taken this refreshment, Colonel
Hacker came to the chamber with the warrant in his hand, and called
for Charles Stuart.

And then, through the long gallery of Whitehall Palace, which he
had often seen light and gay and merry and crowded, in very
different times, the fallen King passed along, until he came to the
centre window of the Banqueting House, through which he emerged
upon the scaffold, which was hung with black. He looked at the two
executioners, who were dressed in black and masked; he looked at
the troops of soldiers on horseback and on foot, and all looked up
at him in silence; he looked at the vast array of spectators,
filling up the view beyond, and turning all their faces upon him;
he looked at his old Palace of St. James's; and he looked at the
block. He seemed a little troubled to find that it was so low, and
asked, 'if there were no place higher?' Then, to those upon the
scaffold, he said, 'that it was the Parliament who had begun the
war, and not he; but he hoped they might be guiltless too, as ill
instruments had gone between them. In one respect,' he said, 'he
suffered justly; and that was because he had permitted an unjust
sentence to be executed on another.' In this he referred to the
Earl of Strafford.

He was not at all afraid to die; but he was anxious to die easily.
When some one touched the axe while he was speaking, he broke off
and called out, 'Take heed of the axe! take heed of the axe!' He
also said to Colonel Hacker, 'Take care that they do not put me to
pain.' He told the executioner, 'I shall say but very short
prayers, and then thrust out my hands' - as the sign to strike.

He put his hair up, under a white satin cap which the bishop had
carried, and said, 'I have a good cause and a gracious God on my
side.' The bishop told him that he had but one stage more to
travel in this weary world, and that, though it was a turbulent and
troublesome stage, it was a short one, and would carry him a great
way - all the way from earth to Heaven. The King's last word, as
he gave his cloak and the George - the decoration from his breast -
to the bishop, was, 'Remember!' He then kneeled down, laid his
head on the block, spread out his hands, and was instantly killed.
One universal groan broke from the crowd; and the soldiers, who had
sat on their horses and stood in their ranks immovable as statues,
were of a sudden all in motion, clearing the streets.

Thus, in the forty-ninth year of his age, falling at the same time
of his career as Strafford had fallen in his, perished Charles the
First. With all my sorrow for him, I cannot agree with him that he
died 'the martyr of the people;' for the people had been martyrs to
him, and to his ideas of a King's rights, long before. Indeed, I
am afraid that he was but a bad judge of martyrs; for he had called
that infamous Duke of Buckingham 'the Martyr of his Sovereign.'

CHAPTER XXXIV - ENGLAND UNDER OLIVER CROMWELL

BEFORE sunset on the memorable day on which King Charles the First
was executed, the House of Commons passed an act declaring it
treason in any one to proclaim the Prince of Wales - or anybody
else - King of England. Soon afterwards, it declared that the
House of Lords was useless and dangerous, and ought to be
abolished; and directed that the late King's statue should be taken
down from the Royal Exchange in the City and other public places.
Having laid hold of some famous Royalists who had escaped from
prison, and having beheaded the DUKE OF HAMILTON, LORD HOLLAND, and
LORD CAPEL, in Palace Yard (all of whom died very courageously),
they then appointed a Council of State to govern the country. It
consisted of forty-one members, of whom five were peers. Bradshaw
was made president. The House of Commons also re-admitted members
who had opposed the King's death, and made up its numbers to about
a hundred and fifty.

But, it still had an army of more than forty thousand men to deal
with, and a very hard task it was to manage them. Before the
King's execution, the army had appointed some of its officers to
remonstrate between them and the Parliament; and now the common
soldiers began to take that office upon themselves. The regiments
under orders for Ireland mutinied; one troop of horse in the city
of London seized their own flag, and refused to obey orders. For
this, the ringleader was shot: which did not mend the matter, for,
both his comrades and the people made a public funeral for him, and
accompanied the body to the grave with sound of trumpets and with a
gloomy procession of persons carrying bundles of rosemary steeped
in blood. Oliver was the only man to deal with such difficulties
as these, and he soon cut them short by bursting at midnight into
the town of Burford, near Salisbury, where the mutineers were
sheltered, taking four hundred of them prisoners, and shooting a
number of them by sentence of court-martial. The soldiers soon
found, as all men did, that Oliver was not a man to be trifled
with. And there was an end of the mutiny.

The Scottish Parliament did not know Oliver yet; so, on hearing of
the King's execution, it proclaimed the Prince of Wales King
Charles the Second, on condition of his respecting the Solemn
League and Covenant. Charles was abroad at that time, and so was
Montrose, from whose help he had hopes enough to keep him holding
on and off with commissioners from Scotland, just as his father
might have done. These hopes were soon at an end; for, Montrose,
having raised a few hundred exiles in Germany, and landed with them
in Scotland, found that the people there, instead of joining him,
deserted the country at his approach. He was soon taken prisoner
and carried to Edinburgh. There he was received with every
possible insult, and carried to prison in a cart, his officers
going two and two before him. He was sentenced by the Parliament
to be hanged on a gallows thirty feet high, to have his head set on
a spike in Edinburgh, and his limbs distributed in other places,
according to the old barbarous manner. He said he had always acted
under the Royal orders, and only wished he had limbs enough to be
distributed through Christendom, that it might be the more widely
known how loyal he had been. He went to the scaffold in a bright
and brilliant dress, and made a bold end at thirty-eight years of
age. The breath was scarcely out of his body when Charles
abandoned his memory, and denied that he had ever given him orders
to rise in his behalf. O the family failing was strong in that
Charles then!

Oliver had been appointed by the Parliament to command the army in
Ireland, where he took a terrible vengeance for the sanguinary
rebellion, and made tremendous havoc, particularly in the siege of
Drogheda, where no quarter was given, and where he found at least a
thousand of the inhabitants shut up together in the great church:
every one of whom was killed by his soldiers, usually known as
OLIVER'S IRONSIDES. There were numbers of friars and priests among
them, and Oliver gruffly wrote home in his despatch that these were
'knocked on the head' like the rest.

But, Charles having got over to Scotland where the men of the
Solemn League and Covenant led him a prodigiously dull life and
made him very weary with long sermons and grim Sundays, the
Parliament called the redoubtable Oliver home to knock the Scottish
men on the head for setting up that Prince. Oliver left his son-
in-law, Ireton, as general in Ireland in his stead (he died there
afterwards), and he imitated the example of his father-in-law with
such good will that he brought the country to subjection, and laid
it at the feet of the Parliament. In the end, they passed an act
for the settlement of Ireland, generally pardoning all the common
people, but exempting from this grace such of the wealthier sort as
had been concerned in the rebellion, or in any killing of
Protestants, or who refused to lay down their arms. Great numbers
of Irish were got out of the country to serve under Catholic powers
abroad, and a quantity of land was declared to have been forfeited
by past offences, and was given to people who had lent money to the
Parliament early in the war. These were sweeping measures; but, if
Oliver Cromwell had had his own way fully, and had stayed in
Ireland, he would have done more yet.

However, as I have said, the Parliament wanted Oliver for Scotland;
so, home Oliver came, and was made Commander of all the Forces of
the Commonwealth of England, and in three days away he went with
sixteen thousand soldiers to fight the Scottish men. Now, the
Scottish men, being then - as you will generally find them now -
mighty cautious, reflected that the troops they had were not used
to war like the Ironsides, and would be beaten in an open fight.
Therefore they said, 'If we live quiet in our trenches in Edinburgh
here, and if all the farmers come into the town and desert the
country, the Ironsides will be driven out by iron hunger and be
forced to go away.' This was, no doubt, the wisest plan; but as
the Scottish clergy WOULD interfere with what they knew nothing
about, and would perpetually preach long sermons exhorting the
soldiers to come out and fight, the soldiers got it in their heads
that they absolutely must come out and fight. Accordingly, in an
evil hour for themselves, they came out of their safe position.
Oliver fell upon them instantly, and killed three thousand, and
took ten thousand prisoners.

To gratify the Scottish Parliament, and preserve their favour,
Charles had signed a declaration they laid before him, reproaching
the memory of his father and mother, and representing himself as a
most religious Prince, to whom the Solemn League and Covenant was
as dear as life. He meant no sort of truth in this, and soon
afterwards galloped away on horseback to join some tiresome
Highland friends, who were always flourishing dirks and
broadswords. He was overtaken and induced to return; but this
attempt, which was called 'The Start,' did him just so much
service, that they did not preach quite such long sermons at him
afterwards as they had done before.

On the first of January, one thousand six hundred and fifty-one,
the Scottish people crowned him at Scone. He immediately took the
chief command of an army of twenty thousand men, and marched to
Stirling. His hopes were heightened, I dare say, by the
redoubtable Oliver being ill of an ague; but Oliver scrambled out
of bed in no time, and went to work with such energy that he got
behind the Royalist army and cut it off from all communication with
Scotland. There was nothing for it then, but to go on to England;
so it went on as far as Worcester, where the mayor and some of the
gentry proclaimed King Charles the Second straightway. His
proclamation, however, was of little use to him, for very few
Royalists appeared; and, on the very same day, two people were
publicly beheaded on Tower Hill for espousing his cause. Up came
Oliver to Worcester too, at double quick speed, and he and his
Ironsides so laid about them in the great battle which was fought
there, that they completely beat the Scottish men, and destroyed
the Royalist army; though the Scottish men fought so gallantly that
it took five hours to do.

The escape of Charles after this battle of Worcester did him good
service long afterwards, for it induced many of the generous
English people to take a romantic interest in him, and to think
much better of him than he ever deserved. He fled in the night,
with not more than sixty followers, to the house of a Catholic lady
in Staffordshire. There, for his greater safety, the whole sixty
left him. He cropped his hair, stained his face and hands brown as
if they were sunburnt, put on the clothes of a labouring
countryman, and went out in the morning with his axe in his hand,
accompanied by four wood-cutters who were brothers, and another man
who was their brother-in-law. These good fellows made a bed for
him under a tree, as the weather was very bad; and the wife of one
of them brought him food to eat; and the old mother of the four
brothers came and fell down on her knees before him in the wood,
and thanked God that her sons were engaged in saving his life. At
night, he came out of the forest and went on to another house which
was near the river Severn, with the intention of passing into
Wales; but the place swarmed with soldiers, and the bridges were
guarded, and all the boats were made fast. So, after lying in a
hayloft covered over with hay, for some time, he came out of his
place, attended by COLONEL CARELESS, a Catholic gentleman who had
met him there, and with whom he lay hid, all next day, up in the
shady branches of a fine old oak. It was lucky for the King that
it was September-time, and that the leaves had not begun to fall,
since he and the Colonel, perched up in this tree, could catch
glimpses of the soldiers riding about below, and could hear the
crash in the wood as they went about beating the boughs.

After this, he walked and walked until his feet were all blistered;
and, having been concealed all one day in a house which was
searched by the troopers while he was there, went with LORD WILMOT,
another of his good friends, to a place called Bentley, where one
MISS LANE, a Protestant lady, had obtained a pass to be allowed to
ride through the guards to see a relation of hers near Bristol.
Disguised as a servant, he rode in the saddle before this young
lady to the house of SIR JOHN WINTER, while Lord Wilmot rode there
boldly, like a plain country gentleman, with dogs at his heels. It
happened that Sir John Winter's butler had been servant in Richmond
Palace, and knew Charles the moment he set eyes upon him; but, the
butler was faithful and kept the secret. As no ship could be found
to carry him abroad, it was planned that he should go - still
travelling with Miss Lane as her servant - to another house, at
Trent near Sherborne in Dorsetshire; and then Miss Lane and her
cousin, MR. LASCELLES, who had gone on horseback beside her all the
way, went home. I hope Miss Lane was going to marry that cousin,
for I am sure she must have been a brave, kind girl. If I had been
that cousin, I should certainly have loved Miss Lane.

When Charles, lonely for the loss of Miss Lane, was safe at Trent,
a ship was hired at Lyme, the master of which engaged to take two
gentlemen to France. In the evening of the same day, the King -
now riding as servant before another young lady - set off for a
public-house at a place called Charmouth, where the captain of the
vessel was to take him on board. But, the captain's wife, being
afraid of her husband getting into trouble, locked him up and would
not let him sail. Then they went away to Bridport; and, coming to
the inn there, found the stable-yard full of soldiers who were on
the look-out for Charles, and who talked about him while they
drank. He had such presence of mind, that he led the horses of his
party through the yard as any other servant might have done, and
said, 'Come out of the way, you soldiers; let us have room to pass
here!' As he went along, he met a half-tipsy ostler, who rubbed
his eyes and said to him, 'Why, I was formerly servant to Mr.
Potter at Exeter, and surely I have sometimes seen you there, young
man?' He certainly had, for Charles had lodged there. His ready
answer was, 'Ah, I did live with him once; but I have no time to
talk now. We'll have a pot of beer together when I come back.'

From this dangerous place he returned to Trent, and lay there
concealed several days. Then he escaped to Heale, near Salisbury;
where, in the house of a widow lady, he was hidden five days, until
the master of a collier lying off Shoreham in Sussex, undertook to
convey a 'gentleman' to France. On the night of the fifteenth of
October, accompanied by two colonels and a merchant, the King rode
to Brighton, then a little fishing village, to give the captain of
the ship a supper before going on board; but, so many people knew
him, that this captain knew him too, and not only he, but the
landlord and landlady also. Before he went away, the landlord came
behind his chair, kissed his hand, and said he hoped to live to be
a lord and to see his wife a lady; at which Charles laughed. They
had had a good supper by this time, and plenty of smoking and
drinking, at which the King was a first-rate hand; so, the captain
assured him that he would stand by him, and he did. It was agreed
that the captain should pretend to sail to Deal, and that Charles
should address the sailors and say he was a gentleman in debt who
was running away from his creditors, and that he hoped they would
join him in persuading the captain to put him ashore in France. As
the King acted his part very well indeed, and gave the sailors
twenty shillings to drink, they begged the captain to do what such
a worthy gentleman asked. He pretended to yield to their
entreaties, and the King got safe to Normandy.

Ireland being now subdued, and Scotland kept quiet by plenty of
forts and soldiers put there by Oliver, the Parliament would have
gone on quietly enough, as far as fighting with any foreign enemy
went, but for getting into trouble with the Dutch, who in the
spring of the year one thousand six hundred and fifty-one sent a
fleet into the Downs under their ADMIRAL VAN TROMP, to call upon
the bold English ADMIRAL BLAKE (who was there with half as many
ships as the Dutch) to strike his flag. Blake fired a raging
broadside instead, and beat off Van Tromp; who, in the autumn, came
back again with seventy ships, and challenged the bold Blake - who
still was only half as strong - to fight him. Blake fought him all
day; but, finding that the Dutch were too many for him, got quietly
off at night. What does Van Tromp upon this, but goes cruising and
boasting about the Channel, between the North Foreland and the Isle
of Wight, with a great Dutch broom tied to his masthead, as a sign
that he could and would sweep the English of the sea! Within three
months, Blake lowered his tone though, and his broom too; for, he
and two other bold commanders, DEAN and MONK, fought him three
whole days, took twenty-three of his ships, shivered his broom to
pieces, and settled his business.

Things were no sooner quiet again, than the army began to complain
to the Parliament that they were not governing the nation properly,
and to hint that they thought they could do it better themselves.
Oliver, who had now made up his mind to be the head of the state,
or nothing at all, supported them in this, and called a meeting of
officers and his own Parliamentary friends, at his lodgings in
Whitehall, to consider the best way of getting rid of the
Parliament. It had now lasted just as many years as the King's
unbridled power had lasted, before it came into existence. The end
of the deliberation was, that Oliver went down to the House in his
usual plain black dress, with his usual grey worsted stockings, but
with an unusual party of soldiers behind him. These last he left
in the lobby, and then went in and sat down. Presently he got up,
made the Parliament a speech, told them that the Lord had done with
them, stamped his foot and said, 'You are no Parliament. Bring
them in! Bring them in!' At this signal the door flew open, and
the soldiers appeared. 'This is not honest,' said Sir Harry Vane,
one of the members. 'Sir Harry Vane!' cried Cromwell; 'O, Sir
Harry Vane! The Lord deliver me from Sir Harry Vane!' Then he
pointed out members one by one, and said this man was a drunkard,
and that man a dissipated fellow, and that man a liar, and so on.
Then he caused the Speaker to be walked out of his chair, told the
guard to clear the House, called the mace upon the table - which is
a sign that the House is sitting - 'a fool's bauble,' and said,
'here, carry it away!' Being obeyed in all these orders, he
quietly locked the door, put the key in his pocket, walked back to
Whitehall again, and told his friends, who were still assembled
there, what he had done.

They formed a new Council of State after this extraordinary
proceeding, and got a new Parliament together in their own way:
which Oliver himself opened in a sort of sermon, and which he said
was the beginning of a perfect heaven upon earth. In this
Parliament there sat a well-known leather-seller, who had taken the
singular name of Praise God Barebones, and from whom it was called,
for a joke, Barebones's Parliament, though its general name was the
Little Parliament. As it soon appeared that it was not going to
put Oliver in the first place, it turned out to be not at all like
the beginning of heaven upon earth, and Oliver said it really was
not to be borne with. So he cleared off that Parliament in much
the same way as he had disposed of the other; and then the council
of officers decided that he must be made the supreme authority of
the kingdom, under the title of the Lord Protector of the
Commonwealth.

So, on the sixteenth of December, one thousand six hundred and
fifty-three, a great procession was formed at Oliver's door, and he
came out in a black velvet suit and a big pair of boots, and got
into his coach and went down to Westminster, attended by the
judges, and the lord mayor, and the aldermen, and all the other
great and wonderful personages of the country. There, in the Court
of Chancery, he publicly accepted the office of Lord Protector.
Then he was sworn, and the City sword was handed to him, and the
seal was handed to him, and all the other things were handed to him
which are usually handed to Kings and Queens on state occasions.
When Oliver had handed them all back, he was quite made and
completely finished off as Lord Protector; and several of the
Ironsides preached about it at great length, all the evening.

SECOND PART

OLIVER CROMWELL - whom the people long called OLD NOLL - in
accepting the office of Protector, had bound himself by a certain
paper which was handed to him, called 'the Instrument,' to summon a
Parliament, consisting of between four and five hundred members, in
the election of which neither the Royalists nor the Catholics were
to have any share. He had also pledged himself that this
Parliament should not be dissolved without its own consent until it
had sat five months.

When this Parliament met, Oliver made a speech to them of three
hours long, very wisely advising them what to do for the credit and
happiness of the country. To keep down the more violent members,
he required them to sign a recognition of what they were forbidden
by 'the Instrument' to do; which was, chiefly, to take the power
from one single person at the head of the state or to command the
army. Then he dismissed them to go to work. With his usual vigour
and resolution he went to work himself with some frantic preachers
- who were rather overdoing their sermons in calling him a villain
and a tyrant - by shutting up their chapels, and sending a few of
them off to prison.

There was not at that time, in England or anywhere else, a man so
able to govern the country as Oliver Cromwell. Although he ruled
with a strong hand, and levied a very heavy tax on the Royalists
(but not until they had plotted against his life), he ruled wisely,
and as the times required. He caused England to be so respected
abroad, that I wish some lords and gentlemen who have governed it
under kings and queens in later days would have taken a leaf out of
Oliver Cromwell's book. He sent bold Admiral Blake to the
Mediterranean Sea, to make the Duke of Tuscany pay sixty thousand
pounds for injuries he had done to British subjects, and spoliation
he had committed on English merchants. He further despatched him
and his fleet to Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, to have every English
ship and every English man delivered up to him that had been taken

Book of the day: