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He minded little things too much, and was more concerned in the drawing of a paper, than in fighting a battle. He had a firm aversion to popery: but was much inclined to a middle way, between protestants and papists, by which he lost the one without gaining the other. At his death, he shewed a calm and composed firmness, which amazed all people; and that so much the more, because it was not natural to him. It was attributed to a very extraordinary measure of supernatural assistance. He went through his many indignities with true greatness; without disorder or any sort of affectation. Thus he died greater than he had lived.”—Burnet's Hist. Tim. Vol. 1. p. 30. -Ibid. p. 50.
But Whitelock's account (the most authentic, to be sure, extant) gives no great idea of the king's firmness and composure : from the minute history he hath left of his discourse and behaviour on the scaffold, his thoughts seem to have been pretty much unsettled and discomposed.-Whitelock's Mem. p. 369.
The Principles on which the REVOLUTION was
effected, and upon which alone our excellent Constitution of a limited monarchy stands.
LET us hear the judgment of one of the most illustrious conventions of our states : and what the reasonings and grounds were, upon which our great senators and lawyers proceeded at the ever memorable REVOLUTION. In that famous conference betwixt both houses 1689, it was affirmed
by some of the wisest statesmen and patriots of the age-" That King James II. by going about to subvert the constitution, had thereby renounced to be a king according to the constitution, by avowing to govern by a despotic power, unknown to the constitution and inconsistent with it. That he had renounced to be a king according to law; such a king as he swore to be at his coronation; such a king to whom the allegiance of an Englishman is due; and had set up another kind of dominion, which was to all intents abdication or abandoning his legal title, as fully as if it had been done by express words. So Lord President Somers.” Echard, p. 1144.
To the same purpose the Lord Chief Justice Holt. “The government and magistracy is under a trust; and any act contrary to that trust, is renouncing of the trust, though it be not a renouncing by a formal deed. For it is a plain declaration by act and deed, though not in writing, that he who has the trust acting contrary is a disclaimer of the trust; especially if his actings be such as are inconsistent with and subversive of this trust.
“ For a king to say he will not govern according to law, said the earl of Nottingham, and for a king to act wholly contrary to law, and to do that which would subvert the constitution, is I think the same thing.
“ Now had king James II. as was farther urged by another honourable person, Sir George Treby, come hither into the assembly of lords and commous, and expressed himself in writing or words to this purpose.--I was born heir to the crown of England, which is a government limited by laws made in full parliament by king, nobles and commonalty; and upon the death of my last predecessor I am in possession of the throne; and now I find I cannot make laws without the consent of
lords and commons in parliament; I cannot sus. pend laws that have been so made, without the consent of my people. This indeed is the title of king-ship Į hold by original contract and the fundamental constitution of the government, and my succession to and possession of the crown, on these terms, is part of that contract; this part of the contract I am weary of ; I do renounce it; I will not be obliged to observe it ; nay, I will not execute the laws that have been made, nor suffer others to be made, as my people shall desire, for their security in religion, liberty and property, which are the two main points of the kingly office in this nation.—1 say suppose he had thus expressed himself, doubtless this had been a plain renouncing that legal, regular title which came to him by descent. If then by any particular acts he has declared as much or more than these words can amount to, then he hath thereby declared his will to renounce the government."--Echard, 1144, 1145.
These were the reasonings, the principles, and maxims on which the wise and great patriots, the representatives of the nation, proceeded in settling the government at the late happy revolution: upon those they declared that king James II. had violated the fundamental laws of this king dom, and broken the original compuct; and had thereby forfeited his own personal right, and that therefore the throne was become vacant. That is, he ceased to be their king, and they might lawfully levy war against him, as an enemy to the constitution.
That our wise ancestors in ancient times had the same judgment of this matter is seen in the answer of the lords to king Richard II. have an ancient CONSTITUTION," say they, “and not very long since put in execution ; that if the
king, through evil council, obstinacy, contempt of his subjects, or by any other irregular courses should alienate himself from his people, and refuse to govern by the laws and statutes of the realm; and abandon himself to his arbitrary will ; that from that time it should be lawful for his people by their full and free consent, to depose that king from his throne, and set upon it another of the royal family."- Echard, p. 165.
Let these things be now applied to the reign of Charles I. and they will put beyond all doubt the lawfulness, the honour, and the necessity of the war which bis numberless tyrannical and illegal proceedings compelled his parliament to levy against him. Upon a just and fair comparison the illegal acts of king James II. and his violations of the fundamental rights and constitution of this realm will not be found, perhaps, by far, either so many or so flagrant, as those of his royal father. The same principles, therefore, which justify the deposing by force of arms and setting aside the one, will justify the endeavour to do the same by the other.
As for the taking away the king's life, this was done by an illegal court
, and in a violent and unjust manner, and is therefore to be condemned. But that the king was a very great DELINQUENT, is a thing not to be disputed by any reasonable person: and that there is a right in all governments to punish delinquents, of what rank soever, is equally clear. Had it therefore been left to the two houses of parliament to judge of the king's delinquency, and to proceed against him as they thought his misconduct deserved, all had been right; for the two houses are as essential and fundamental a part of the legislature of these realms, as the sovereign himself.
What title or character this unhappy prince deserved, and which posterity will doubtless give him, we may learn from a late learned and ingenjous author in his Essay on Assassinations : “ By a tyrant,” he observes, “ the ancients understood one that broke in upon the fundamental constitution of a state, and who went about to change a free goverment into an absolute monarchy. The tyrants they thought it lawful to kill, were those who went about to change a state of liberty and obedience to laws, into a state of sla• very and obedience to men : into a state, in which, as Brutus and Machiavell express it, men have more power than the LAWS. This was the case of Cæsar, of Phalaris, Clearchus, and all the petty tyrants of Sicily and Greece.”—Dr. Lombard, p. 172. And that this was too apparently the case of Charles I. it is presumed there is no impartial seader that is not fully convinced.
Now then to conclude. Having from a series of most clear and incontestable facts, and from the suffrage of the most authentic historians of those times, attempted an Idea of the Character and Reign of King Charles I.; I only add-Will it not extremely astonish posterity to find the memory of this prince still celebrated in the English nation with the highest honours and applause ! To see a tribute of yearly incense offered up to his name in the most holy places of the kingdom; to hear him almost adored as a royal and blessed MARTYR; extolled far above all the princes that ever filled the British throne ; pronounced not the best of kings only, but the most excellent and best of men; and a parallel often run betwixt his sufferings and the Son of God's; yea, his treatment represented as in some respects more. barbarous, iniquitous, and vile, than that of our blessed LORD!