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HISTORICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS
DOCUMENTS AND REFLECTIONS.
CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS ON TUE
ΕΙΚΩΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΗ. .
Respecting the different opinions lately published on the Eixw Baginuxn, by my friend Mr. Todd, and the Master of Trinity, I might indeed say —
NON NOSTRUM TANTAS COMPONERE LITES. but I have given some reasons which I think would incline us to believe that, after all, in this case, as in general, the truth lies between two extremes.
The Master of Trinity is convinced that King Charles wrote the whole of Icon; Mr. Todd, that he wrote not a word of it: my conviction is neither wholly with one nor the other. I have noticed a most material fact, spoken of by Kennet. This slight allusion led instantly to the idea of a connection between the person mentioned and the King's most faithful and confidential friend; and this circumstance, on inquiry, accidentally receives the fullest corroboration. There was, at the time, a Mr. Symons, Minister of Rayne. The parish is in the gift of the family of Capel, as patrons. This Mr. Symons is presented to the living, not by Lord Capel's father, as I first conceived, but by Lord Capel himself. Bocking is the next parish, of which Gauden was Rector. That some papers of King Charles were, through the Capels, intrusted to their friend, the Pastor of their parish, seems to me evident; and that, also, they were intrusted by Symons to Gauden, the Rector of the nearest parish. Symonds died soon after. In the year 1660 died also the desolate Lady Capel. These were the only persons who could have told the truth, when the claim was made. This evidence is external. I shall now say a word of the internal evidence. The Master of Trinity, with the warmth which every one naturally feels before he has paid greater attention to all the circumstances - and which warmth does credit to his heart — instantly, from these generous feelings, decides that Charles wrote the whole.
Mr. Todd has brought Gaudenisms from Gauden's writings, which induce him to decide that the whole tissue is Gauden’s elaborate and tawdry manufacture.
Now I will take only the first chapter. I would say to the Master of Trinity, you recollect the words of Horace
Si vis me flere, dolendum est and another passage
Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba. I would ask the Master--can you, after the most attentive critical reflection, believe that any man, under real sorrow, would or could write as follows:
Although I was not forgetful of those sparks which some men's distempers formerly studied to kindle in Parliament (which by forbearing to convene for some years I hoped to have extinguished), resolving," &c.*
Here is an almost interminable sentence, in which sparks” are “ kindled” by “distempers (in the true style of cockney eloquence!) which the writer “
“hoped to have extinguished;" and, before this flaring metaphor is “extinguished,” before the sentence is finished, he tells
* See Eckwv Baordern, chap. i.
us that he doubted not the "weight of reason” would counterprise the over-balancing” of any factions !
Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi the whole composition, with the exception of two chapters, is thus “sicklied o'er” with tawdry affectations and cold metaphysical ornaments, as repugnant to taste as to feeling; and yet who has read this work, even with these grotesque additions, without an impression in favour of the King ? Why is this? Because there are some passages which, through all the glittering envelopement, steal out and interest us, as dignified and affecting; and our heart, thus impressed, involuntarily, and before critical discrimination, is disposed to pronounce as our natural sympathies incline us.
If I am not mistaken, I could with little pains unravel the whole tawdry texture. The first chapter will not be so fit for our purpose; but I take the first chapter as it comes, and set before the reader a small part of it, as, according to my ideas, it might have been originally written. Omit the first seventeen lines, and begin at this sentence :
“No man was better pleased with the convening of this Parliament than myself, who, knowing best my own heart towards my people's contentment, pleased myself with the hope of that understanding which would have grown between us.
“My own and my children's interests gave me many obligations to seek the love of my subjects, the greatest honour and safety of just monarcbs, next to God's protection."
This will be sufficient to show my meaning. I think the whole texture might be thus unravelled.
In the last sentence of this first chapter, poor Charles, the dignified but afflicted King, is no longer visible ; the Rector of Bocking stares out
Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry. Thus—“Our sins being ripe, there was no preventing God's justice from reaping that glory, in our calamities, which we robbed him of in our prosperity !” Here is metaphor and antithesis, such as betray an artificial and heartless writer - without comparing passages of the kind in Gauden's own writings.
The same tawdriness, and cold affectation of metaphysical antithesis, the refuge of unfeeling minds, are more visible in the Meditations subjoined to this chapter.
“Oh! thou Sovereign Goodness and Wisdom, who overrulest our counsels, overrule also our hearts, that, the worse we suffer by justice, the better we may be for thy MERCY.” Here is “ overruled counsels opposed to overruled hearts," " worse” things opposed to “better," and "justice” to “mercy,” in one sentence! but mark what follows: As the sins of our peace disposed us to this unhappy war, so let this was prepare us for blessed PEACE. " As our sins have turned our antidotes to poison, so let thy grace turn our poison to antidotes !” And yet how simple and dignified is the following passage:
“I do not repent of calling this last Parliament, because, O Lord! I did it with an upright intention! Oh! Lord, though thou hast deprived me of many former comforts, still give us that patience which becomes thy children."
There are more of these chaster and affecting passages in other chapters than the first, which is alınost entirely enveloped; but I am inclined to think we have Charles alone, or for the greatest part, in the Prayer on the Liturgy, or on being deprived of his Chaplains ; though Gaudenisms may be detected in these.
The importance of this subject, and the inquiry by two scholars, both deserving so well of Literature, will plead my excuse for entering so far into this detail. My own opinion is completely, and on the most attentive investigation, settled ; and I feel confident, if any one pursues the same plan, with the same care, putting together the erternal evidence, from the small circumstance incidentally mentioned by Kennet, (the fact of a Diary, and some Prayers, composed by the King, in bis desolation,) and the internal evidence, by such an examination as I have proposed, he will come to nearly the same conclusion:
We must remember, at the same time, whilst we endeavour to show the portions which Charles might have written of the Icon, what a writer of Gauden's taste would have left out. I have no doubt, if King Lear had been intrusted to him in the original for revisal, he would have omitted all those passages which most deeply affect us.
The explanation I have submitted is so plain, so clear, so probable, so consistent in all'its parts, so minutely and circumstantially corroborated, that the wonder is, it has not been brought more particularly forward among the arguments wbich this subject has furnished.
Let me add, that Gauden seems, from his prior character, to have been the last man in the world who, of his own accord, we should imagine, would have originated the idea of the sad “portraicture of his Majesty” in his troubles, and that therefore some peculiar circumstances must have excited bis attention to the subject, We may well conceive the papers of which he got possession excited the idea, and formed the basis of the execution.