Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

THE PORTRAITURE OF HIS SACRED MAJESTY IN IIS SOLITUDES

AND HIS SUFFERINGS.

XI. Upon the Nineteen Propositions, &c.

N F the nineteen propositions he names none in par

ticular, neither shall the answer : But he insists upon the old plea of “his conscience, honour and reason;" using the plausibility of large and indefinite words, to defend himself at such a difiance as may hinder the eye of common judgment from all distinct view and examination of his reasoning. “Ile would buy the peace of his people at any rate, fave only the parting with his conscience and honour.” Yet shows not how it can happen that the peace of a people, if otherwise to be bought at any rate, should be inconsistent or at variance with the conscience and honour of a king. Till then, we may receive it for a better sentence, that nothing should be more agreeable to the conscience and honour of a king, than to prelerve his fubjects in peace; elpecially from civil war.

And which of the propositions were “ obtruded on him with the point of the sword,” till he first with the point of the fword thrust from him both the propofitions and the propounders ? He never reckons those violent and merciless obtrusions, which for almost twenty years he had been forcing upon tender consciences by all forts of persecution, till through the multitude of them VOL. III.

that that were to suffer, it could no more be called a perfe cution, but a plain war. From which when first the Scots, then the English, were constrained to defend themselves, this their juft defence is that which he calls here, “ their making war upon his foul.”

He grudges that “ so many things are required of him, and nothing offered him in requital of those favours which he had granted.” What could satiate the desires of this man, who being king of England, and master of almost two millions yearly what by hook or crook, was still in want; and those acts of justice which he was to do in duty, counts done as favours; and such favours as were not done without the avaricious hope of other rewards besides supreme honour, and the constant revenue of his place?

“ This honour,” he saith, “ they did him, to put him on the giving part.” And spake truer than he intended, it being merely for honour's fake that they did fo; not that it belonged to him of right: for what can he give to a parliament, who receives all he hath from the people, and for the people's good ? Yet now he brings his own conditional rights to contest and be preferred before the people's good; and yet unless it be in order to their good, be hath no rights at all; reigning by the laws of the land, not by his own; which laws are in the hands of parliament to change or abrogate as they shall see best for the commonwealth, even to the taking away of kingship itself, when it grows too masterful and burdenfome. For every commonwealth is in general defined, a fociety fufficient of ittelf, in all things conducible to well-being and commodious life. Any of which requifite things, if it cannot have without the gift and favour of a single perfon, or without leave of his private reason or his conscience, it cannot be thought sufficient of itself, and by confequence no commonwealth, nor free; but a multitude of vaffals in the poffeffion and domain of one absolute lord, and wholly obnoxious to his will. If the king have power to give or deny any thing to his parliament, he must do it either as a person several from them, or as one greater; neither of which will be allowed him : not to be considered leverally from them; for as the king of England can do no wrong, fo neither can he do right but in his courts and by his courts; and what is legally done in them,. shall be deemed the king's assent, though he as a several person shall judge or endeavour the contrary; so that indeed without his courts, or against them, he is no king. If therefore he obtrude upon us any public mischief, or withhold from us any general good, which is wrong in the highest degree, he must do it as a tyrant, not as a king of England, by the known maxims of our law. Neither can he, as one greater, give aught to the parliament which is not in their own power, but he must be greater also than the kingdom which they represent: so that to honour him with the giving part was a mere civility, and may be well termed the courtesy of England, not the king's due.

But the “ incommunicable jewel of his conscience” he will not give, “but reserve to himself.” It seems that his conscience was none of the crown-jewels; for those we know were in Holland, not incommunicable, to buy arms against his subjects. Being therefore but a private jewel, he could not have done a greater pleasure to the kingdom, than by reserving it to himself. But he, contrary to what is here professed, would have his conscience not an incommunicable, but a universal conscience, the whole kingdom's conscience. Thus what he seems to fear lest we should ravith from him, is our chief complaint that he obtruded upon us; we never forced him to part with his conscience, but it was he that would have forced us to part with ours.

Some things he taxes them to have offered him, “ which, while he had the mastery of his reason, he would never consent to.” Very likely; but had his reason mastered him as it ought, and not been mastered long ago by his sense and humour (as the breeding of moft kings hath been ever sensual and most humoured), perhaps he would have made no difficulty. Meanwhile at what a fine pass is the kingdom, that must depend in greatest exigencies upon the fantasy of a king's reason, be he wile or fool, who arrogantly shall answer all the wisdom of the land, that what they offer seems to him unreasonable?

He prefers his “ love of truth” before his love of the people. His love of truth would have led him tu the search of truth, and have taught him not to lean so much upon his own understanding. He met at first with doctrines of unaccountable prerogative; in them he retted, because they pleased him; they therefore pleased him because they gave him all; and this he calls his love of truth, and prefers it before the love of his people's peace.

Some things they proposed, " which would have wounded the inward peace of his conscience.” The more our evil hap, that three kingdoms should be thus peftered with one conscience; who chiefly fcrupled to grant us that, which the parliament advised him to, as the chief means of our public welfare and reformation. These scruples to many perhaps will seem pretended; to others, upon as good grounds, may seem real; and that it was the just judgment of God, that he who was so cruel and fo remorseless to other men's coníciences, should have a conscience within him as cruel to himfelf; constraining him, as he constrained others, and ensaring him in such ways and counsels as were certain to be his destruction.

“ Other things though he could approve, yet in honour and policy he thought fit to deny, left he should feem to dare deny nothing." By this means he will be fure, what with reason, honour, policy, or punctilios, to be found never unfurnished of a denial; whether it were his envy not to be overbounteous, or that the fubmifiness of our atking stirred up in him a certain pleasure of denying. Good princes have thought it their chief happiness to be always granting; if good things, for the things fake; if things indifferent, for the pcople's take'; while this man tits calculating variety of excules how he may grant leaft; as if his whole ftrength and royalty were placed in a mere negative.

Of one propofition especially he laments him much, that they would bind him “ to a general and implicit content for whatever they desired.” Which though I find not among the nineteen, yet undoubtedly the oath' of his coronation binds him to no leis; neither is he at all by his office to interpose againit a parliament in the

« VorigeDoorgaan »