Page images
PDF
EPUB

God, nor of the chearful concurrence of all good people, and of the undeceived part of the army, whose arrears and future advancement they would procure, suffering no imposition or force on any man's conscience.”

If I am charged with inconsistency in deprecating the acts of the effective government of the nation, during this tyrannical usurpation of twenty years, after having established the principle, that the aits of the majority are conclusive upon the whole, I first oppose to it that unexceptionable maxim, that there can be no real government, which is not admitted by the free consent of the majority of the people. Now to prove, that the not the free net

The rebellion 'scenes of bloodshed, cruelty, and tyranny from of the majority the year 1641 to the year 1660, were not by the free afsent of the majority of the nation, I shall beg leave to adduce the following authorities in evidence. *« The number of the commons, that passed their act for the king's trial were but forty-six, not the tenth part of a house of commons duly constituted; and if the people had been alked one by one, not one in a hundred would have consented to the king's murder, or chosen such representatives (if they might have had a free choice),

of the nation.

* D. Brady's Hift. of the Succession, p. 357..

Rr

as

as would have consented to it; and yet this charge is drawn up and urged against the king, as the act of the commons and all the people of England; or lastly, who can deny, that they published for law and right whatsoever they did or said, though it were never so treasonable, vile, or wicked.” In the answer of the house of commons to King Charles the Second's letter, or declaration from Breda, we shall hear some more authentic accounts of the fewness of the actors and abettors in these scenes of horror and tyranny. *“ And we beseech your majesty, we may add this far. ther for the vindication of parliaments, and even of the last parliament convened under your royal father of happy memory, when as your majesty well observes, through mistakes and misunderstandings, many inconveniences were produced, which were not intended; that those very inconveniences could not have been brought upon us by those persons, who had designed them, without violating the parliament itself; for they well knew it was not poffible to do a violence to that facred person, whilst the parliament, which had vowed and covenanted for the defence and safety of that person remained entire, Surely Sir, as the

* Vid. Clar. Hift. of the Civil Wars, b. xvi. Vol. ü. p. 592.

perfons persons of our kings have ever been dear unto parliaments, so we cannot think of that horrid act committed against the precious life of our late sovereign, but with such a deteftation and abhorrency, as we want words to express it; and next to wishing it had never been, we wish it may never be remembered by your majesty, to be unto you an occasion of sorrow, as it will never be remembered by us, but with that grief and trouble of mind, which it deserves; being the greatest reproach, that ever was incurred by any of the English nation, an offence to all the procestant churches abroad, and a scandal to the profession of the truth of religion here at home; though both profession and true pro- The whole nafessors, and the nation itself, as well as the

h tion not guilty, parliament, were most innocent of it, it have ing been only the contrivance and act of some few ambitious and bloody persons, and such others, as by their influence were mised. And as we hope and pray, that God will not impute the guilt of it, nor of all the evil consequences thereof, unto the land, whose divine justice never involves the guiltless with the guilty.”

Though Dr. Priestley finds occasion of The murderers exultation and triumph in the annual comme- a faction, and moration of the 30th of January, yet in ano- tives of the naRr2

ther

of King Charles

not representa

tion.

ther part of his works he owns, that from the nature of things it was necessary, that the opposition to King Charles's government should begin from a few, who might therefore be called a fačtion, for whom there was no fafety short of his death. *“ For,” says he, “ it is to be regretted, that the situation of things was such, that the sentence could not be passed by the whole nation, or their representatives folemnly

alembled

* Priestley upon Government, p. 39.

+ Lord Clarendon relates the following anecdote, not irrelevant to the present subject, which happened on the first day of King Charles's trial. Hift. of the Civil Wars, vol.iii.. b. xi. p. 196. “When all those, who were commissioners had taken their places, and the king was brought in, the first ceremony was, to read their commission, which was the ordinance of parliament for the trial; and when the judges were all called, every man answering to his name, as he was called, and the president being first called and making answer, the next who was called being the general, Lord Fairfax, and no answer being made, the officer called him the second time, when there was a voice heard that said," he had more wit than to be there;' which put the court into some disorder; and somebody asking who it was, there was no answer, but a little murmuring; but presently, when the impeachment was read, and that expression used, of all the good people of England,' the same voice in a louder tone answered, “No, nor the hundredth part of them ;' upon which one of the officers bid the foldiers give fire into that box, whence those presumptuous words were uttered; but it was quickly discerned, that it was the general's wife the lady Fairfax, who had uttered both those sharpe sayings, who was presently persuaded or forced to leave the place, to prevent any new disorder.

She

assembled for that purpose. I am sensible indeed that the generality of the nation at that time would not have voted for the death of their love, reign.

From what I have already said, may we collect a specimen of the deadly fruit, which this faction would produce, if the growth of the plant were in any manner encouraged in this country. Some of the most noxious herbs, under the disguise of improper names, find their way into the fairest gardens ; but one fatal instance of their deadly poison, induces the melancholy but requisite caution to prevent their future progress to maturity. Thus confident am I, that the abusive appli- Seditious pocation of the term religious to these seditious ries masked unand rebellious political sectaries, has alone appellation. procured the admission, adoption, or toleration of them in our constitution. We have

litical secta

She was of a very noble extraction, one of the daughters
and heirs of Horace Lord Vere of Tilbury, who having
been bred in Holland, had not that reverence for the
church of England, as she ought to have had, and so had
unhappily concurred in her husband's entering into rebel-
lion, never imagining what misery it would bring upon
the kingdom, and now abhorred the work in hand as
much, as any body could do, and did all she could to
hinder her husband from acting any part in it. Nor did
he ever sit in that bloody court, though he was throughout
overwitted by Cromwell, and made a property to bring
that to pass, which could very hardly have been otherwise
effected."
Rr3

been

« PreviousContinue »