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business, declared it sufficiently proved, that the coming of those soldiers, papists and others, with the king, was to take away some of their members; and in case of opposition or denial, to have fallen upon the house in a hostile manner.
This the king here denies; adding a fearful imprecation against his own life,“ if he purposed any violence or oppression against the innocent, then,” saith he, “let the enemy prosecute my soul, and tread my life to the ground, and lay ) mine honour in the dust." What need then more disputing? He appealed to God's tribunal, and behold! God hath judged and done to him in the sight of all men according to the verdict of his own mouth: to be a warning to all kings hereafter how they use presumptuously the words and protestations of David, without the spirit and conscience of David. And the king's admirers may here see their madness, to mistake this book for a monument of his worth and wisdom, whenas indeed it is his doomsday book; not like that of William the Norman, his predecessor, but the record and memorial of his condemnation; and discovers whatever hath befallen him to have been hastened on from divine justice by the rash and inconsiderate appeal of his own lips. But what evasions, what pretences, though never so unjust and empty, wili he refuse in matters more unknown, and more involved in the mists and intricacies of state, who, rather than not justify himself in a thing so generally odious, can flatter his integrity with such frivolous excuses against the manifest dissent of all men, whether enemies, neuters, or friends ? But God and his judgments have not been mocked; and good men may well perceive what a distance there was ever like to be between him and his parliament, and perhaps between him and all amendment, who for one good deed, though but consented to, asks God forgiveness; and from his worst deeds done, takes occasion to insist upon his righteousness !
CHAPTER IV. Upon the Insolency of the Tumults. We have here, I must confess, a neat and well-couched in rective against tumults, expressing a true fear of them in the author; but yet so handsomely composed, and withal so
feelingly, that, to make a royal comparison, I believe Reho boam the son of Soloinon could not have composed it bette: Yet Rehoboam had more cause to inveigh against them; for they had stoned his tribute-gatherer, and perhaps had as little spared his own person, had he not with all speed betaken him to his chariot. But this king hath stood the worst of them in his own house without danger, when his coach and horses, in a panic fear, have been to seek: which argues, that the tumults at Whitehall were nothing so dangerous as those at Sechem. ·
But the matter here considerable,* is not whether the king or his household rhetorician have made a pithy declamation against tumults; but first, whether these were tumults or not; next, if they were, whether the king himself did not cause them. Let us examine therefore how things at that time stood. The king, as before hath been proved, having both called this parliament unwillingly, and as unwillingly from time to time condescended to their several acts, carrying on a disjoint and private interest of his own, and not enduring to be so crossed and overswayed, especially in the executing of his chief and boldest instrument, the deputy of Ireland, first tempts the English army, with no less reward than the spoil of London, to come up and destroy the parliament. That being discovered by some of the officers, who, though bad enough, yet abhorred so foul a deed; the king, hardened in his purpose, tempts them the second time at Burrowbridge, promises to pawn his jewels for them, and that they should be met and assisted (would they but march on) with a gross body of horse under the Earl of Newcastle. He tempts them yet the third time, though after discovery, and his own abjuration to have ever tempted them, as is affirmed in the declaration of “No more addresses.” Neither this succeeding, he turns him next to the Scotch army, and by bis own credential letters given to O'Neal and Sir John Henderson, baits his temptation with a richer reward; not only to have the sacking of London, but four northern counties to be made Scottish, with jewels of great value to be given in pawn the while.
But neither would the Scots, for any promise of reward, be brought to such an execrable and odious treachery: but with much honesty gave notice of the king's design both to the par.
* This is, “ to be considered.” -ED.
liament and city of London. The parliament moreover had intelligence, and the people could not but discern, that there was a bitter and malignant party grown up now to such a boldness, as to give out insolent and threatening speeches against the parliament itself Besides this, the rebellion in Ireland was now broke out; and a conspiracy in Scotland had been made, while the king was there, against some chief members of that parliament; great numbers here of unknown and suspicious persons resorted to the city.
The king, being returned from Scotland, presently dismisses that guard, which the parliament thought necessary in the midst of so many dangers to have about them, and puts another guard in their place, contrary to the privilege of that high court, and by such a one commanded as made them no less doubtful of the guard itself. Which they therefore, upon some ill effects thereof first found, discharge; deeming it more safe to sit free, though without guard, in open danger, than enclosed with a suspected safety. The people, therefore, lest their worthiest and most faithful patriots, who had exposed themselves for the public, and whom they saw now left naked, should want aid, or be deserted in the midst of these dangers, came in multitudes, though unarmed, to witness their fidelity and readiness in case of any violence offered to the parliament. The king, both envying to see the people's love thus devolved on another object, and doubting lest it might utterly disable him to do with parliaments as he was wont, sent a message into the city forbidding such resorts.
The parliament also, both by what was discovered to them, and what they saw in a malignant party, (some of which had already drawn blood in a fray or two at the court-gate, and even at their own gate in Westminster-hall,) conceiving themselves to be still in danger where they sate, sent a most reasonable and just petition to the king, that a guard might be allowed them out of the city, whereof the king's own chamberlain, the Earl of Essex, might have command; it being the right of inferior courts to make choice of their own guard. This the king refused to do; and why he refused the very next day made manifest: for on that day it was that he sallied out from Whitehall, with those trusty myrmidons, to block up or give assault to the house of cum
He had, besides all this, begun to fortify his court.
and entertained armed men not a few; who, standing at his palace gate, reviled, and with drawn swords wounded many of the people, as they went by unarmed, and in a peaceable manner, whereof some died. *
The passing by of a multitude, though neither to St. George's feast, nor to a tilting, certainly of itself was no tumult; the expression of their loyalty and steadfastness to the parliament, whose lives and safeties by more than slight rumours they doubted to be in danger, was no tumult. If it grew to be So,
the cause was in the king himself and his injurious retinue, who, both by hostile preparations in the court, and by actual assailing of the people, gave them just cause to defend themselves.
Surely those unarmed and petitioning people needed not have been so formidable to any, but to such whose consciences misgave them how ill they had deserved of the people; and first began to injure them, because they justly feared it from them, and then ascribe that to popular tumult, which was occasioned by their own provoking. And that the king was so emphatical and elaborate on this theme against tumults, and expressed with such a vehemence his hatred of them, will redound less perhaps than he was aware to the commendation of his government. For, besides that
* Upon the subject of these “tumults” we find, in the “ Vindiciæ Carolinæ," a very ludicrous passage, with which the reader will be amused. “And now from the whole let any indifferent man say for me, first, whether these disorderly proceedings were not tumults ; and next, if they grew to be so, how the king can be said to be the cause of them himself. For though those hostile preparations, and actual assailing the people, which our an. swerer says, gave them just cause to defend themselves, might, perhaps, have been somewhat in the case if those people had not been the aggressors ; yet, when, as himself confesses, the king had sent a message into the city forbidding such resorts, what made they there? Nor can these hostile preparations, and actual assailing the people, be other than what the Lord Mayor, &c., in their petition to the king, represent, viz. this fortifying Whitehall, and the wounding some citizens : which his majesty thus answers, that, as to the former, his person was in danger by such a disorderly conflux of people; and withal urges their seditious language, even at his palace-gates : and for the other, that if any one were wounded, it was through their evil misdemeanors. And therefore, to make it no more than the case of a common person ; every man's house is his castle ; and if a confused club-rabble gather about it, cum kickis et friskis et horribili sonitu, the gentleman of the house commands his servants to beat them off, and in doing it some of the assailants are wounded; nay, put it further, killed. And what can the law make of it ? ” (p. 48, 49.)-ED.
in good governments they happen seldomest,* and rise not without cause, if they prove extreme and pernicious, they were never counted so to monarchy,t but to monarchical ty ranny; and extremes one with another are at most antipathy. If then the king so extremely stood in fear of tumults, the inference will endanger him to be the other extreme. Thus far the occasion of this discourse against tumults : now to the discourse itself, voluble enough, and full of sentence, but that, for the most part, either specious rather than solid, or to his cause nothing pertinent.
“He never thought anything more to presage the mischiefs that ensued, than those tumults.” Then was his foresight but short, and much mistaken. Those tumults were but the mild effects of an evil and injurious reign; not signs of mischiefs to come, but seeking relief for mischiefs past: those signs were to be read more apparent in his rage
and purposed revenge of those free expostulations and clamours of the people against his lawless government. “Not anything,” saith he,“ portends more God's displeasure against a nation, than when he suffers the clamours of the vulgar to pass all bounds of law and reverence to authority.” It portends rather his displeasure against a tyrannous king, whose proud throne he intends to overturn. by that contemptible vulgar; the sad cries and oppressions of whom his loyalty regarded not. As for that supplicating people, they did no hurt either to law or authority, but stood for it rather in the parliament against whom they feared would violate it.
“That they invaded the honour and freedom of the two houses,” is his own officious accusation, not seconded by the parliament, who, had they seen cause, were themselves best able to complain. And if they “shook and menaced” any, they
Socrates used to say that a groom who, being intrusted with a stud of gentle manageable horses, should, by his ignorance and want of skill, render them vicious and unruly, would well deserve all the kicks he might happen to get from them. So among mankind, people seldom rebel against those who promote their happiness ; nor are there any persons so ignorant as not to know when they are well and happily governed. -ED.
+ Here, as everywhere else, Milton distinguishes constitutional from absolute monarchy. Towards the former, though openly preferring a com. monwealth, he expresses no hostility, regarding it as one of those forms of just and lawful government under which, if well administered, a nation may be fourishing and happy.- ED.