Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

his age.

whom he exhorted to bear a tender affection for his wife, but to preserve a consistency in religion, and to protect the Church of England ; with decency and courage he prepared himself for his end, and he expired on the 27th March, 1625, in the 59th year of

Hume, vol. v., p. 152. PERSON AND CHARACTER. He was of middle stature, more corpulent through his clothes than in his body, yet fat enough, his clothes ever being made large and easy, the doublets quilted for stiletto proof, his breeches in great plaits and full stuffed; he was naturally of a timorous disposition, so much so, that when he knighted any person he was so afraid of his sword, that he always turned his head away, and his hand was obliged to be guided ; his eyes large, and ever rolling after any stranger that came into his presence, insomuch that many for shame have left the room, as being out of countenance; his beard was very thin ; his tongue too large for his mouth, which made him drink very uncomely, as if eating his drink, which came out of the cup of each side of his mouth ; his skin was as soft as taffeta sarsnet, which felt so because he never washed his hands, only rubbed his fingers' ends slightly with the wet end of a napkin ; his legs were very weak, having had (as some thought) foul play in his youth, or rather before he was born, that he was not able to stand at seven years of age ; that weakness made him for ever leaning on other men's shoulders ; his walk was circular.

Sir Anthony Weldon. James, though an able man, was a weak monarch ; his quickness of apprehension and soundness of judgment were marred by his credulity in partialities, his childish fears and habit of vacillation. Eminently qualified to advise as a councillor, he wanted the spirit and resolution to act as a sovereign. His discourse teemed with maxims of political wisdom; his conduct frequently bore the impress of political imbecility. If, in the language of his flatterers, he was the British Solomon, in the opinion of less interested observers he merited the appellation given him by the Duke of Sully, that of the wisest fool in Europe.

Lingard, vol. ix., p. 232.

CHRONICLE. 1603, July 25. James crowned at Westminster; in this year the plague carried off 30,444 in London. November 4. Lord Cobham, Lord Grey, and Sir Walter Raleigh, after an irregular trial at Winchester for high treason, condemned on the 19th, but reprieved, the two former confessing their guilt on the scaffold. Lord Grey died in the Tower after eleven years' imprisonment. Cobham being discharged, died in poverty in 1619, and Sir Walter Raleigh remained fifteen years a prisoner. 1604, January 14. A new translation of the Bible was ordered, being the same which is in present use. July 7. James was this year first styled King of Great Britain. 1606. An act passed empowering the lord mayor and aldermen of London

to cut the channel of the New River. 68,596 persons died in London of the plague the two preceding years. 1609. James renews the charter of incorporation of the East India Company, Mulberry trees first planted in England. A frost for four months, the Thames so frozen that heavy carriages passed over it. The first legal copper coin introduced, which put an end to the private leaden tokens universally used throughout the kingdom, especially in London. Hugh Middleton began the New River Canal from Amwell in Hertfordshire. 1610. Hudson's Bay discovered. Thermometers invented by a Dutchman about this time. 1611. The Charter House founded by Thomas Sutton, a rich bachelor, who died December 12. May 11. The order of Baronets first instituted by the king, which dignity he bestowed on seventy-five families. 1612. The corpse of Mary, late Queen of Scots, removed in great state from Peterborough to the Chapel Royal at Westminster. 1613. Dorchester destroyed by a fire. The king made ninety knights baronets; to purchase this honour every knight was to pay £1,095, to maintain thirty foot soldiers in Ireland for three years at 8d. per day each.

Every rank of nobility had its price affixed to it; privy seals were issued to the amount of £200,000, and some monopolies were established. Titles of all kinds became so common that they almost ceased to be marks of distinction, and many of the persons on whom they were conferred totally unknown. To ridicule this new fledged nobility a pasquinade was affixed on St. Paul's, in which an art was promised to be taught, very necessary to assist frail memories in retaining the names of the new nobility. 1614, September 17. Sir Thomas Overbury poisoned in the Tower. The New River brought to London from Amwell. Moorfields was levelled, the ditches cleaned, walks made, and trees planted. Smithfield was paved for the first time, at an expense of £1,600. Stratford-uponAvon was burnt. 1615. The citizens made the first attempt to accommodate foot-passengers, by paving the sides of the principal streets before their doors with broad free-stones. The Earl of Somerset and his Countess are condemned for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE DIED 23RD APRIL, 1616, IN HIS HOUSE, AT STRATFORD-UPON-Avon, AGED 52. 1618. A' patent granted for the steam engine, then called the fire engine, for taking ballast out of rivers and raising large quantities of water : this is the earliest notice of steam power in England. 1619, July. One Bernard Calvert set out from Southwark at three o'clock in the morning, embarked at Dover at eight, went to Calais, and returned to Southwark the same day, a most wonderful feat, considering that with all our present advantages of rail and steamboat, the same journey cannot now be accomplished in less than eight hours. Dulwich College founded by Edward Alleyn, a comedian. 1621. Licenses first granted for public houses. The broad silk manufactory for raw silk introduced into England. 1623. Prince Charles and Buckingham start from Newhall in Essex, on their romantic excursion to Spain, to conclude the match

with the Infanta; they travelled under the names of John' and Thomas Smith, and took Paris in their way, where Charles say the Princess Henrietta, daughter of Henry IV. of France. 1624 Barbadoes planted this year. At this time London was almost entirely built of wood, the Earl of Arundel first introduced the general practice of brick buildings. All the shops in Cheaps ide, except four from Bucklersbury to Old Change, were occupied by goldsmiths. The first sedan chair seen in England, was used in this reign by the Duke of Buckingham, to the great indignation of the people, who exclaimed that he was employing his fellow creatures to do the work of beasts. Greenland was thought to be discovered about this period.

REIGN OF CHARLES I.
FROM 1625 to 1648—22 YEARS, 9 MONTHS, 19 DAYS.

CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR. All the evils of the civil wars may be ascribed to the tyrannical, and it may be said infatuated measures of the king. During eleven years no parliament was assembled, and taxes were levied by the royal authority alone; but what gave more disgust than the illegal levy of taxes, was the horrible punishments inflicted by the star chamber, a political inquisition which, on the slightest accusations, fined, imprisoned, and mutilated all who were brought before it. At length, exasperated by numerous oppressions, the Commons flew to arms. Oliver Cromwell, Sir Henry Vane, Nathaniel Frenner, Oliver St. John, were regarded as leaders of the independents, by their zeal and that of their followers; the king was subdued, and brought to the block, After the fatal battle of Naseby, and the entire ruin of his party, Charles surrendered himself into the hands of the Scots, who sold him to the Parliament. He was first confined at Holdenby; thence he was removed by Joyce, a Methodist Colonel of the Parliamentary army, and, finally to the Isle of Wight. Kings of England, p. 126.

IMPEACHMENT AND TRIAL OF THE KING. The commons having satisfied themselves of their competency to try the king, appointed a committee to bring in a charge against him. On their report a vote passed declaring it high treason for the king to levy war against his parliament, and appointing a High Court of Justice to try him for this new offence. The tribunal consisted of 133 persons, named by the Commons, but there scarcely ever sat above 70. Cromwell, Ireton, Harrison, and the chief officers of the army were members, together with some of the lower house, and some of the citizens of London. Bradshaw, a lawyer, was chosen president. Coke was appointed solicitor for the people of England. The court sat in Westminster Hal..

The solicitor, in the name of the commons, represented that Charles Stuart, being admitted King of England, and entrusted with a limited power, yet, nevertheless, from a wicked design to erect an unlimited and tyrannical government, had traitorously and maliciously levied war against the present parliament and the people, whom they represented, and was therefore impeached as a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and a public and implacable enemy to the commonwealth.

Charles was produced three times before the court, and as often denied their jurisdiction. On the fourth time the judges having examined some witnesses, by whom it was proved that the king had appeared in arms against the forces commissioned by parliament, they pronounced sentence against him.*

The abolition of the aristocracy and entire dissolution of the monarchy immediately followed the death of the king. When the peers met on the day appointed in their adjournment, they entered upon some business, and sent down some votes to the commons, of which the latter deigned not to take the least notice. In a few days the commons passed a vote that they would make no more addresses to the peers, nor receive any from them; and that that house was useless and dangerous, and was therefore to be abolished. A like vote passed with regard to the monarchy; one Martin, a zealous republican, observing in the debate on this question, that if they desired a king the last was as proper as any gentleman in England. The commons ordered a new great seal to be engraved, on which that assembly was represented, with this legend, ON THE FIRST YEAR OF FREEDOM BY God's BLESSING: RESTORED, 1648. The form of all public business was changed from the king's name to that of the Keepers of the Liberties of England. It was declared high treason to proclaim, or otherwise acknowledge, Charles Stuart, commonly called Prince of Wales.

* On Coke, the solicitor-general, beginning to read the indictment, the king tapped him on the shoulder with his cane, saying, “Hold !” At that instant the gold head of the cane fell off, and rolled upon the ground; this incident is said to have caused great consternation to Charles, who considered it an ill omen. It is remarkable, on calling over the court, when the crier pronounced the name of Fairfax, which had been inserted in the number, a voice from one of the spectators exclaimed, “HE. HAS MORE WIT THAN TO BE HERE.” When the charge was read against the king “IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND," the same voice cried, “Not a tenth part of them.” Axtel, the officer who guarded the court, giving orders to fire into the box whence these insolent speeches came, it was discovered that Lady Fairfax was there, and that it was she who had the courage to utter them. The husband of this noble lady, who had distinguished himself greatly in the command of the parliamentary armies, was averse to the extreme measure of putting the king to death, and had formed the resolution to rescue Charles on the day of execution, at the head of his own regiment. Cromwell and Ireton, informed of this intention, endeavoured to convince him that the Lord had rejected the king; and they exhorted him to seek in prayer some direction from Heaven. But they concealed from Fairfax that they had already signed the warrant for the execution. Colonel Harrison, a fighting Methodist, was appointed to join in prayer with the general; by agreement he prolonged his discourse till the fatal blow was struck. He then rose from his knees, and insisted with Fairfax that this event was a miraculous and providential one, which Heaven had sent to their devout supplications.

The Court of King's Bench was called the Court of Public Bench; and in the Lord's prayer, instead of thy kingdom come, they always maid, thy commonwealth come.

The king's statue in the exchange was thrown down; and on the pedestal these words were inscribed : Exit TYRANNUS, REGUM, ULTIMUS; The tyrant is gone, the last of the hings.

Kings of England, p. 128. CHARLES'S PARTING WITH HIS CHILDREN. Three days only were allowed the king between his sentence and his execution; this interval he passed with great tranquillity, chiefly in reading and devotion. All his family that remained in England were allowed access to him : it consisted only of the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Gloucester, for the Duke of York had made his escape. Gloucester was little more than an infant. The princess notwithstanding her tender years (she was but twelve), shewed an advanced judgment; and the calamities of her family had made a deep impression upon her. After many pious consolations and advices, the king charged her with a message to his queen full of conjugal affection and tenderness. Holding the little duke on his knee, he said, “Now they will cut off thy father's head;" at these words the child looked very stedfastly upon him. “Mark, child, what I say; they will cut off my head; and perhaps make thee a king : but mark what I say: thou must not be a king as long as thy brothers Charles and James are alive; they will cut off thy brothers' heads when they can catch them; and thy head, too, they will cut off at last; therefore I charge thee do not be made a king by them.” The duke sighing, replied, “I will be torn to pieces first.” So determined an answer for one of such tender years filled the king's eyes with joy and admiration.*

Hume, vol, vii., p. 142. EXECUTION OF CHARLES I. On the last night of his life he slept soundly about four hours, and early on the morning awakened Herbert, who lay on a pallet by his bed side. “This,” he said, “is my second marriage day: I would be as trim as may be, for before night I hope to be espoused to my blessed Jesus." He then pointed out the clothes which he meant to wear, and ordered two shirts, on account of the severity of the weather ; “for," he observed, “were I to shake through cold, my enemies would attribute it to fear. I would have no such imputation. I fear not death-death is not terrible to me; I bless God I am prepared.”.

The king spent an hour in privacy with the bishop; Herbert was afterwards admitted ; and about ten o'clock Colonel Hacker

* The commons, it is said, intended to bind the Princess Elizabeth apprentice to a button-maker; the Duke of Gloucester was to be taught some other mechanical employment. But the former soon died of grief, as is supposed, for the tragical death of her father. The latter was by Cromwell sent beyond the sea.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »