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No sooner had Charles reached London, than “Mark, child, what I say," he added. the Parliament preferred charges against him. “They will cut off my head, and perhaps The trial of the king took place at Westmin- make thee a king. But mark what I say, ster Hall. The court consisted of one hun-thou must not be a king, as long as thy brothdred and thirty-three members, among whom ers Charles and James are alive. They will were Cromwell, Ireton, and Harrison.
cut off thy brothers' heads when they can The charges were read, and the king was catch them; and thy head too they will cut called upon to defend himself. He did so with off at last. And therefore, I charge thee, do dignity and moderation, but without acknowl- not be made a king by them.” edging the competence of the court. Above “I will be torn in pieces first,” replied the all things, he appealed to his inviolability as boy. So determined an answer, from: one of king, who, according to the English constitu- such tender years, filled the king's eyes with tion, could do no wrong, and therefore could tears of joy and admiration. not be punished. His appeals, however, were On the morning of his execution, Charles unsuccessful. The court was determined to rose early, and prayed in the presence of Herconvict him, and sentence of death was passed bert, his faithful servant, and Bishop Juxon,
whom the Parliament bad allowed to assist Three days were allowed the king between him in his devotions. The king then walked his sentence and his execution. All the steps to the scaffold, where he uttered only a few taken by his friends and relatives in his behalf words, justifying his conduct, and forgiving his proved utterly fruitless. The people were in- enemies. When he was preparing himself for different, and manifested neither love nor ha- the block, Bishop Juxón called to him : tred of him; they were intimidated, perhaps, “There is, sire, but one stage more, which, by the presence of numerous troops in Lon- though turbulent and troublesome, is yet a don. Charles passed this interval with great very short one. Consider, it will soon carry tranquillity, chiefly in reading and devotion. you a great way; it will carry you from earth All his family that remained in England were to heaven; and there you shall find, to your allowed access to him. They consisted only great joy, the prize to which you hasten, a of the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of crown of glory.” Gloucester; all the others had made their es “I go," replied the king, calmly, “ from a cape. Charles comforted and exhorted them, corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where and tenderly embraced his weeping daughter. no disturbance can have place.”
“Tell your mother,” exclaimed the unfortu He himself gave the signal of death by movnate king, “that during the whole course of ing his hand. my life I have never once, even in thought, A man in a black visor performed the office failed in my fidelity toward her, and that my of executioner. At one blow was the king's conjugalstenderness and my life shall have an head severed from his body. At the same equal duration.”
moment the assembled spectators burst into To the young duke, whom he held on his deafening shouts, which indicated perhaps knee, he said: “Now they will cut off thy more compassion than approval. father's head.”
The executioner held up to the spectators At these words, the child looked very stead- the head streaming with blood, and cried fastly upon him.
aloud, “This is the head of a traitor ! "
A gloomy silence had succeeded the intense CHAPTER I.
excitement of the nation, which now stood MILTON AND DAVENANT-LADY ALICE'S DIARY. aghast at its own power and boldness. No one
Milton had hitherto taken little or no direct ventured to raise his voice and defend the exepart in public affairs; he lived mostly in quiet cution of King Charles. So great was the awe retirement, engrossed with the education of inspired even by dead majesty, that the men his pupils. It was not until the king had been who were now at the helm of government enexecuted that he was aroused from his tran- joyed the fruits and divided the spoils of their quillity. He had joined the Independents al victory in silence. most against his will, as bis former political
Milton entered, without hatred of the king friends seemed to profit by their victory only or of the monarchical system, upon an examito menace anew that liberty to which he was nation of the great problem of popular soverso ardently devoted. Once a member of the eignty, which he tried to solve with the disextreme party, he did not shrink from any passionate calmness of a philosopher. It was of the consequences of its principles. The not till his adversaries, among whom the celebloody deed had been perpetrated; the people brated Leyden professor Salmasius played the had availed themselves of their power, and most prominent part, overwhelmed him with killed Charles. But, as usual, death proved a the vilest invectives, that Milton retorted with great conciliator; the melancholy end of the a warmth wbich embittered all his later years. unfortunate monarch caused the public to for- The success of his political pamphlets was as get his faults, and the fickle multitude pitied great as it was unexpected. The attention of him almost as much as it had formerly hated the council of state, which was intrusted with him. It was all-important now to enlighten the administration of the country, was called public opinion and give it a definite direction, to the learned and enthusiastic lover of liberty, fix the vacillating sentiments and feelings, and and it appointed Milton foreign or Latiu secpass á calm judgment amid the storm of pas- retary. In this capacity he wrote the corresions. Milton took upon himself this arduous spondence of the new republic in Latin, which, task, which might involve him in the greatest since the peace of Westphalia, had become the perils, without hesitation, without prospect of language of the courts. In this manner he berewards or thanks, solely guided by his love came acquainted with the leading men of the of liberty.
country, and Cromwell, who was already at the
head of the administration, was on intimate it will comfort me much better than your chapa terms with Milton.
lain.” A short time after Milton had been appointed Cromwell turned angrily from the incor. to his new office, the witty poet Davenant was rigible jester, and ordered the guard to take threatened with death. He had accompanied him away. On entering the anteroom, the his patroness, Queen Henrietta, during her doomed poet met Milton, with whom he had flight to France. At her request he had now been slightly acquainted in former times. returned to England to establish connections “ Davenant !” exclaimed Milton, in surprise. in favor of the exiled hereditary prince with “ Where are you going?” the discontented royalists. His intentions “Where all go sooner or later to death." were betrayed to Cromwell, who had him ar “You are under sentence of death ? And rested, and examined him personally concern- why?” ing the plans of his adversaries, The general “On account of my devotion to the queen. approached the prisoner with a quick step, I have shared the days of her prosperity; and and threatened to pierce him with his keen therefore could not forsake her in the days of eyes. Notwithstanding his dangerous predica- her adversity; she fed me with her bread, and ment, the light-hearted poet had not lost his therefore I will give up my life for her. It is old humor.
true, I have never paid my debts, but I am at “ You are a self-convicted traitor," said least going to discharge this one." Cromwell, in a stern voice, "and shall not "You must not, shall not die.” escape your fate. I shall have you hung to “Do not take any trouble to save me; I morrow."
know that all will be in vain. Cromwell has “You need not be in a hurry about it; 1 pronounced my doom, and I look upon myself am free to confess that I should like to wait a already as a dying man. Shake hands with few years yet.”
me once more; perhaps we may meet again “Leave your jests, and prepare rather to die in a better life, where there are no Puritans like a Christian.”
and cavaliers, no soldiers and priests. To tell “I have always been a good Christian, and you the truth, I am not afraid of death; but I am not afraid of death."
am sorry to leave the farce of human life at so “A good Christian! Do you suppose, then, early a stage. I should not have expected this that I do not know you? Did you not write tragic dénouement." all the lascivious farces and masks that were " I shall do all I can to save you." performed at the court of Charles Stuart with “ Accept my thanks for your kindness, such extravagant pomp and splendor ? You which I appreciate very highly. Give me your deserve the halter for the life which you have hand, dear Milton! I always considered you led up to this time."
a good-hearted, generous man. You are only “If every one in this world were to be pun- somewhat too pious, and too zealous a lover ished according to his deserts, all the halters of liberty. Believe me, it will result in nothin England would be insufficient.”
ing. The people expel one tyrant to exchange Enough said !” cried Cromwell, sternly. him for another who is a great deal worse; “I will send you my chaplain.”
and the same thing is the case with religion. “For God's sake, don't! I hate nothing Sensible men, like you and me, should not more intensely than water and priests. If you meddle with such trifles at all. Do not be will do me a favor, send me a bottle of wine; I angry at this ; I lack taste for such things, but
I really do not see why two sensible men “I may hope the more, then, that you will should hate and persecute each other because not reject my prayer to-day.” they differ on certain points.”
“ Tell me frankly what you want of me.” Milton shook hands with the poet, and “I ask of you the life of a man whom you promised to obtain a pardon for him from the have just sent back to his prison." general. He found Cromwell in a glooray “ What !” said Cromwell, wonderingly, frame of mind. The young republic was at "you ask me to pardon Davenant, that inthis juncture threatened from all quarters; famous sinner? Do you know what he is foreign and domestic enemies united to over-charged with ?” throw it. Civil war was still raging in Ire “ He has remained faithful to his queen, and land, and Cromwell's presence there was ur to the cause he espoused. I esteem him more gently demanded. The Scots had called the highly for this than many an apostate who has son of Charles I., Charles II., and conferred suddenly turned republican, whether from fear the crown of his father upon him, though on or self-interest." very rigorous conditions. The Levellers had “Bah! We must not judge our political been intimidated, but not crushed; they were friends too scrupulously. I know there are a again in open rebellion, and threatened to sub- great many rogues and hypocrites among us ; vert law, order, and society. Add to all this but they do far less harm than the wrong. the intrigues of the partisans of the late king, headed, stubborn, honest men. If I am not who were incessantly entering into new plots. mistaken, your friend Overton is one of the The general sat frowning in front of a map, latter. He and John Lilburn give me more devising the plan of a new campaign, by which trouble than the royalists. Give your friend he intended to annihilate all his enemies. At Overton a hint to beware of me. I know that Milton's entrance he gave a start, and looked he sympathizes with the Levellers and rebels around distrustfully. On recognizing him, in the army." however, he kindly held out his hand to him. “You assuredly do him injustice. It is
“It is you, Mr. Secretary,” he said, with a true, he is an ardent enthusiast, but I do not winning smile.
believe that he shares the views of the Level“I bring you the letters to the Dutch Re- lers and, like them, is bent on subverting law, public, and to Cardinal Mazarin.”
order, and society. He loves liberty and the “Put them on the table, and be seated. I republic. This is certainly no crime after the wish to speak to you. You are an honest and royal government has been abolished.” pious man, in whom I may confide. Many “Of course not,” said Cromwell, mildly. “A others are not at all like
you. The Lord has republican government is certainly a nice laid a heavy burden upon me."
thing, provided it be understood correctly. “He knows wbat He does. To the strongest Fools deem it a field where they may gratify shoulders He intrusts the heaviest burdens. their licentiousness; but wise men consider it You are the only man capable of saving the a form of government like any other. But if country.”
I am not mistaken, we were speaking of Dav“I thank you for your good opinion, and enant.” would like to do something for you. Since I " And I repeat my former request.” have acquired some influence, every one over “He does not deserve to be pardoned. He whelms me with requests and demands; you is a miserable playwright, an immoral scapealone have not yet opened your mouth.” grace.”
“For that reason he is the more harmless ; , pleasant feeling, and I shall always be grateful he is talented, and I should greatly regret to to you for it. There may soon be an opportusee bim lose his head.”
nity for me to prove my gratitude, for, to tell “As you intercede so warmly in his behalf, you the truth, I have very little confidence in let him keep it, although I cannot comprehend this republic of the saints. The people feel at how so virtuous a man can ask me to pardon ease only when they have a master ruling over such a sinner."
them. If his name is not Charles, it will be “He is a poet for all that, and as such at Cromwell. The general looks very much like least he is entitled to my sympathy. I esteem a man who would not pass a crown if he divine poesy wherever I find it, and for the should find it in his path." sake of the precious contents I would like to “ You misjudge Cromwell; his whole enpreserve the vessel, even though it should con deavor is to put an end to the civil war, and sist partly of base metal and be disfigured by render England great and happy." many rents and holes."
“I have no doubt of it; he will fatten the “Well, I believe you are right,” said Crom- goose before killing it. But I do not want to well, with a sudden burst of mirth. “Dav- exasperate you. You are an innocent, honest enant is a broken jar with many rents and man, a genuine poet filled with illusions, and holes. He has one hole which is very large, always seeking for some object of your enthuand his nose is gone.”
siastic admiration. I am precisely like you in The general then resumed his former dig- this respect. We shall always be the fools of nified tone, and drew up the pardon for which our enthusiasm, and fool others thereby. FareMilton had applied.
well, my excellent friend in need." “Go,” he said, kindly, “and inform him “Where are you going now?” personally that I consent to release him ; but “To my old mother, who is still keeping if he should enter again into a political con tavern and entertaining drinkers of all confesspiracy, nothing would save his head. I do sions. I shall await there quietly the end of not care if he writes farces and masks, but your republike, write farces, and soon compose tell him to beware of meddling with politics. a coronation hymn for Charles II.” That is a dangerous, very dangerous game for Davenant drank another glass of wine, and such inexperienced hands."
left his prison with that cynical indifference So saying, the general dismissed Milton. which had become habitual to him. Milton He repaired immediately to the prison of accompanied him a short distance, and then Davenant, whom he found engrossed with a returned to his house. He found there his bottle of wine.
friend Overton, who had been expecting him “I bring you your pardon,” he said. for some time. The major was about to start Do
you, indeed ? Well, God bless you for for the army in Scotland. what you have done for me! You see that I “Before departing for the army,” he said, was already preparing for death. Wine is the after greeting Milton cordially, “I wished to. best confessor and most efficient comforter. see you once more.” Nevertheless, I was unable to get rid of a "Where have you been so long ? " asked somewhat unpleasant feeling. I must confess Milton, kindly. that I am a little ticklish, and when imagining “Now here, now there, wherever the events a halter round my neck, I feel a very peculiar of the war led me; to-day in the south, toitching. You have relieved me of this un morrow in the north. A soldier is always on