Page images
PDF
EPUB

turally loved. Nor did he in his outward behaviour take any pains to oblige any persons whatsoever. So far froin that, he had, such an ungracious way of shewing favour, that the manner of bestowing it was almost as mortifying as the favour was obliging."— Burnet's Hist. Vol. 1. p. 18.

“ Charles I. was naturally, says Rapin, of an inflexible temper, and this quality, added to his maxims of government, was the cause that he could hardly bear to see whatever tended to put a constraint upon his will.”—Rapin, Vol. XI. p. 90. “ His courtiers, says the famous Sir Edward Coke, would often say, they prayed to God, that the prince might be in the right way where he set, for if he were in the wrong, he would prove the most wilful of any king that ever reigned.Coke Det. p. 5.—“ He was too easily inclined to sudden enterprizes,” Lord Clarendon ackuowledges, "and as easily startled when they were entered upon.”--Clarend. Vol. II. p. 344.

He was, however, “chaste and temperate beyond exception ; clear from all known and per-, sodal vices of the sensual kind, and uninfected with those licentious excesses, which are not only incident to that age and fortune, but in such cases almost thought excusable."— Ech. p. 417.

He was educated in very high and extravagant notions of the divinity and extent of the regal power :-" That monarchy and lineal succession are of divine institution, and consequently sacred and inviolable. That the persons as well as the authority of kings are ordained by God. That the king is the sole fountain of power. That all the liberties and privileges of the people are but so many concessions or extortions from the crown. That the king is not bound to his people by his coronation oath, but only before God, to whom alone he is accountable. That the king's viola

tions of the law are not to be restrained by force : but subjects ought either actively to obey his commands, or passively submit to his will; and have no other refuge left under the most cruel tyranny but prayers and tears.".. Tindal's Cont. Introd. p. 1.

With these principles he came to the throne in the 25th year of his age. At the very time when he was attending the solemnities of his father's funeral at Westminster, those of his own marriage were celebrating at Paris, to Henrietta Maria, sister to Lewis XIII. of France.

“ The queen was an agreeable and beautiful lady, and by degrees (says Lord Clarendon) obtained a plenitude of power over the king. His majesty had her in perfect adoration, and would do nothing without her; but was inexorable to every thing he promised her."--Neal, Vol. 11. p. 154. “ Her power over him was absolute.

She was queen, not so much of the nation, as of the king himself; and had the sole, rather than the chief ascendant, in the government."*--Clarend. Hist. Vol. 1. p. 167. Vol. III. p. 328.

“She loved all her life long to be in intrigues of all sorts, but was not so secret in them as such times and such affairs required. She was a woman of great vivaeity in conversation, but of no manner of judgment; was bad at contrivance, but much worse in the execution. By the liveliness of her discourse she made always a great impression on the king: and to her little practices, as well as to the king's own temper, the sequel of all his misfortunes was owing."-Nuncio's Mem, p. 854.

-Burnet's Hist. Tim. Vol. 1. p. 31.

* Regi adeo fuit cara Regina, ut non tam regni, quam ipsius Regis, Reginam ageret ; et in regimine plus sola, quam potior, esse videretur

“ The king was so devoted to her (his zealous apologist acknowledges) that he would do nothing without communicating it to her-he assures her in a letter, that he would not make a peace with the rebels (the parliament) without her approbation.”- .Coke Det. p. 171, 182.

The first compliment with which his majesty received her at Dover seeins to have been prophetic, viz. That he could be no longer MASTER of himself, than while he was a SERVANT to her. This was very sadly verified in the event. For the king ruled not his three kingdoms in a more absolute and despotic manner than himself was ruled by the queen. His history affords abundant proof of this : let it suffice here only to observe, that to that desperate and rash act, his going with an armed force to seize and haul the five members from the house of commons, he was entirely hurried on by the haughty spirit of the queen; for when his Majesty would have declined it," and retired with her into her closet, urging many reasons against it, she broke out into a passion- Allez poltron,-Go, COWARD, and pull those rogues out by the ears, or never see my face any more.Echard, p. 419, 520.- The obsequious monarch went; burst into the house at the head of his little army, and pulled down upon his own ears the fabric of our constitution, which at last buried him in its ruins.

Bishop Kennet therefore well observes, That the king's match with this lady was a greater judgment to the nation than the plague, which then raged in the land; for considering the malignity of the popish religion, the imperiousness of the French government; the influence of a stately queen over an affectionate husband; the share she must needs have in the education of her children (till thirteen years old,) it was then easy

[ocr errors]

to foresee it might prove very fatal to our English prince and people, and lay in a vengeance to future generations.

“ Father Orleans, who was a confident of king James II. and whose history archdeacon Echard recommends, says, I must, in justice to the queen, declare, that she, being a daughter of France, was full of that spirit which warms the blood of absolute monarchs, and as such looked on a limited authority as no better than serditude : and therefore made the utmost efforts to rescue the king her husband from all restrictions of laws, oaths, &c."Hist. Stu. p. 107.

“She was a great bigot to her religion. Her conscience was directed by her confessor, assisted by the pope's nuncio, and a secret cabal of priests and jesuits. These directed the queen, and she the king : so that in effect the nation was governed by popish councils, till the long parliament." -Neal, Vol. 1. p. 155.

Having thus seen an unhappy foundation laid, let us go on to view the structure which was afterwards built upon it.

CHAP. II.

The King helps his Brother, LEWIS XIII. to

root out and destroy the brave Protestants of France.

IN the beginning of his reign, when the French Protestants were struggling to maintain their liberties and religion against a most perfidious and cruel oppression, king Charles lent the French monarch a squadron of eight ships to help to crush and overwhelm them. But the British soldiers and sailors, when they came upon the coast of France, and knew how they were to be employed, were filled with deep indignation," flew into a fury, got up their anchors, and set sail for England, declaring, they had rather be hanged at home than be slaves to the French, and fight against the PROTESTANT religion.Echard, p. 429. “ The admiral Pennington and the French officer used all their rhetorick to persuade them, (offering chains of gold, and other rewards to all those captains, masters and owners who should go on this service) but they were all inflexible."Coke, Det. p. 8. “ The admiral acquainted the king; who sent him an order, to consign his own ship immediately into the hands of ihe French admiral, with all her equipage, artillery, &c. and require the other SEVEN to put themselves into the service of our dear brother the French king; and in case of backwardness or refusal, we command you to use all forcible means, even to sinking.- Echard, ibid. “In pursuance of this order the ships were delivered into the hands of the French; but all the English sailors and officers (to their immortal honour be it remembered) abandoned them, except two. The French having got the ships and artillery, quickly manned them with sailors of their own religion ; blocked up the (poor oppressed) Rochellers; cut off their communication with their protestant friends; reduced them to all the hardships of a most dreadful famine and siege, and forced them to surrender this chief bulwark of the protestant interest in France into the hands of the papists.”— Neal, Vol. 11. p. 165. “ Above 15,000 perished for want of sustenance, and the remainder were so thin and pale, that they rather resembled skeletons than living persons."--Echard, p. 440.

« PreviousContinue »