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TRIAL OF CHARLES I.
House of Commons, and this miserable remnant of a parliament was called, in derision, The Rump. Almost all the members of the House of Lords had long since ceased to attend; most of them had armed for the king, and several had fallen in his service.
REIGN OF CHARLES I.-(continued).
TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF KING CHARLES.
THERE was no law in England by which it could be even pretended that the king had deserved death. But the Rump dared not disobey the will of their masters, so they first made a new law-that it was treason for a king to go to war with his subjects—and then they set up a new kind of tribunal, which they called The High Court of Justice, to try Charles for this pretended crime. The people of England looked on in fear and sorrow they were powerless beneath the yoke of the army, but even the lowest of the populace had come to their senses at last, and when they saw their king led up, day by day, like a criminal to Westminster Hall, they greeted him with tears and blessings.
Before his judges, Charles behaved with the utmost dignity, meekness, and courage. He told them that he would not even make answer to their false accusations, lest he should seem to acknowledge that they had a right to try him; he would rather die in defence of the laws and rights of Englishmen, which they were now trampling under foot. He told them that even if it were not contrary to English law to try
the king, they could have no right to try any one, for they had set themselves up as a court of justice without the consent of the people, or of the House of Lords, or even of their own House of Commons, having turned most of their companions out of doors because they would not consent to these unlawful proceedings. Even of the judges who were appointed, one half refused to appear in the Court. But Cromwell, his son-in-law Ireton, and Bradshaw, were among the foremost there.
The soldiers who guarded the king to and from the Hall, were encouraged by their officers to insult him. One poor fellow who dared to say, "God bless you, sir," was instantly knocked down, while those who spat in the king's face were commended. But no insult could disturb the patient fortitude of Charles. He listened calmly to the sentence of death pronounced upon him; only, when his murderers called him a traitor, "Ha!" cried he, in a voice which echoed through the Hall.
The two days of life which yet remained to him, he spent in devotion, and in a last interview with his children, Elizabeth and Henry. The Princess Elizabeth was thirteen years old, and wrote an account of this sad meeting. Her father gave her his last counsels, directed her what books to study, and seeing her agony of grief, bade her not sorrow over-much for his death, since he died in a good cause, defending the rights and laws and religion of England. Taking the little Henry, who was eight years old, on his knee, he said to him, "Mark, my child, what I say. Thou must not be made a king while thy brothers are alive. Now will they cut off thy father's head, and they will
EXECUTION OF KING CHARLES.
cut off thy brothers' heads when they can catch them, and cut off thy head too at last; therefore, I charge thee, do not be made a king by them." "I will be torn in pieces first," said the little boy. Well pleased with his earnestness, the king embraced him and his sister, commended them fervently to God, and gave them his last blessing. He watched them sadly as they retired, and when they reached the door, ran to them and folded them once more in his arms; then turning away as one who had done with earthly cares, he betook himself to prayer.
Early on the morning of the 30th January, 1649, Charles rose with a cheerful countenance, and dressed himself with unusual care as for a festival; "To-day," said he, "I hope to go from earth to heaven." His faithful chaplain, Bishop Juxon, came to him and read the 27th chapter of St. Matthew, which was the Lesson for the day, and then the king walked to the scaffold which was erected at Whitehall. Thousands of people filled all the space around, and crowded every roof within sight. The king looked round him and began to speak, but the soldiers who guarded the scaffold made so much noise that none could hear but those who stood near. He declared himself innocent of the crimes laid to his charge, but added that he looked on himself as guilty in the sight of God of the murder of Strafford, and that he took his own beheading as a righteous retribution for that great sin. He forgave his enemies, and prayed that his death might not be laid to their charge. Then he took off the jewel of the Garter, and gave it to Bishop Juxon, with the word "Remember." Kneeling down by the block, he spent a few moments in prayer, then gave
the signal by stretching out his arms, and at one blow his head was struck off. The executioner, whose face was hidden by a mask, held it up in sight of the people, saying, "This is the head of a traitor." But from all that vast multitude there rose one deep groan of sorrow.
Charles the First was 48 years old at the time of his death. He left six children: Charles, who now took the title of King; James, Duke of York; Mary, who had been married at the beginning of her father's troubles to the Prince of Orange; Henrietta, Elizabeth, and Henry. After their father's death it was ordered that Elizabeth and Henry should no more be called Prince and Princess, but plain Elizabeth and Henry Stuart; and it was proposed to apprentice them to a trade, or to marry Elizabeth to the son of one of her father's murderers. A happier fate was in store for the gentle affectionate girl, who had never recovered from the grief of her father's loss. Shut up in Carisbrooke Castle, with no earthly friend near her but her little brother, she slowly pined away, and in her 15th year was one day found dead, with her face resting on her open Bible. Henry was permitted when thirteen years old to join his mother in France, but she treated him very unkindly, because he would not become a Roman Catholic. King Charles had made his wife promise not to try to make his children Roman Catholics, but she did not regard this promise after his death.
CRUELTY OF CROMWELL.
THE COMMONWEALTH.-CROMWELL SUBDUES IRELAND.-CHARLES II. PROCLAIMED KING IN SCOTLAND, 1649.-THE SCOTS OVERTHROWN AT DUNBAR, 1650; AND AT WORCESTER, 1651.-NARROW ESCAPE OF CHARLES.-COMPLETE SUBJECTION OF SCOTLAND.-CROMWELL ENTHRONED AS PROTECTOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH, 1653.
(From 1649 to 1654.)
AFTER the death of Charles the First, England was no longer called a Kingdom, but a Commonwealth, and a "Council of State" of thirty-seven persons was appointed to govern it. But the power was almost entirely in the hands of Cromwell, and some of the people called him "King Cromwell." His first care was to reduce Ireland and Scotland to submission. Ireland had never been very loyal to the king, and was still less disposed to obey the men who had usurped his power; but the vigorous Cromwell soon subdued all resistance. with Drogheda, took it by assault, and no sooner found himself master of the town, than he gave orders for putting the whole garrison to the sword. This hideous execution was continued for five days; thirty persons only remained unslaughtered, and these were instantly transported as slaves to Barbadoes. Wexford met a like fate, and most of the other towns were so intimidated that they surrendered at once.
cruelty of He began
In the meantime the Scottish Covenanters had refused to acknowledge the authority of the Council of State, and had taken up arms in the name of King Charles the Second. They invited him over from France, but he no sooner set his foot in Scotland than he found himself a prisoner. The Covenanters