« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
announced that it was time to proceed to Whitehall. He obeyed, was conducted on foot between two detachments of military across the park (from St. James's Palace), and received permission to repose himself in his former bedchamber. Dinner had been prepared for him, but he refused to eat, though afterwards, at the solicitation of the bishop, he took half a manchet and a glass of wine. Here he remained almost two hours, in constant expectation of the last summons, spending his time partly in prayer, and partly in discourse with Dr. Juxon. There might have been nothing mysterious in the delay, if there was it might perhaps be explained from the following circumstance :-Four days had now elapsed since the arrival of ambassadors from the Hague to intercede in his favour; it was only on the preceding evening that they had obtained audience of the two houses, and hitherto no answer had been returned. In their company came Seymour, the bearer of two letters from the Prince of Wales, one addressed to the king, the other to the Lord Fairfax. He had already delivered the letter, and with it a sheet of blank paper, subscribed with the name, and sealed with the arms of the prince. It was the price which he offered to the grandees of the army for the life of his father. Let them fill it up with the conditions, whatever they might be, they were already granted ; his seal and signature were affixed. * It is not improbable that this offer may have induced the leaders to pause. That Fairfax laboured to postpone the execution was always asserted by his friends; and we have evidence to prove that, though he was at Whitehall, he knew not, or at least pretended not to know, what was passing:
In the mean time Charles enjoyed the consolation of learning that his son had not forgotten him in his distress. By the indulgence of Colonel Tomlinson, Seymour was admitted, delivered the letter, and received the royal instructions for the prince. He was hardly gone, when Hacker arrived with the fatal summons. About two o'clock the king proceeded through the long gallery, lined on each side with soldiers, who far from insulting the fallen monarch appeared by their sorrowful looks to sympathise with his fate. At the end an aperture had been made in the wall, through which he stepped at once upon the scaffold. It was hung with black; at the further end were seen the two executioners (masked and wearing large beards), the block and the axe; below appeared in arms several regiments of foot, and beyond, as far as the eye was permitted to reach, waved a dense and countless crowd of spectators. The king stood collected and undismayed amidst the apparatus of death. There was in his countenance that cheerful intrepidity, in his demeanour that dignified calmness, which has characterised, in the Hall of Fotheringay, his royal grandmother, Mary Stuart. It was his wish to address the people, but they were kept beyond 'the reach of his voice by the swords of the military; and therefore,
* Charles destroyed the carte blanche, but a duplicate which the prince sent to the generals of army is now preserved in the British Museum.
confining his discourse to the few persons standing with him on the scaffold, he took, he said, the opportunity of denying, in the presence of his God, the crimes of which he had been accused; it was not to him, but to the houses of parliament, the war and all its evils should be charged. The parliament had first invaded the rights of the crown by claiming the command of the army; and had provoked hostilities by issuing commissions for the levy of forces before he had raised a single man. But he had forgiven all, even those whoever they were (for he did not desire to know their names) who had brought him to his death. He did more than forgive them, he prayed that they might repent. But for that purpose they must do three things; they must render to God his due, by settling the church according to the scripture; they must restore to the crown those rights which belonged to it by law; and they must teach the people this distinction between the sovereign and the subject; those persons could not be governors who were to be governed, they could not rule, whose duty it was to obey. Then, in allusion to the offers formerly made to him by the army, he concluded with these words: “Sirs, it was for the liberties of the people that I am come here; if I would have assented to an arbitrary sway, to have all things changed according to the power of the sword, I needed not to have come hither; and therefore I tell you (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) that I am the martyr of the people ;" having added, at the suggestion of Dr. Juxon, “I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my father.” He said, addressing himself to the prelate, “I have on my side a good cause and a gracious God.” “There is but one stage more,' said the bishop, “it is turbulent and troublesome, but a short one; it will carry you from earth to heaven, and there you will find joy and
“I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown,". continued the king, "you exchange an earthly for an eternal crown.' “A good exchange," responded the bishop. Being ready, the king bent his neck on the block, and after a short pause stretched out his hands as a signal; at that instant the axe descended, the head rolled from the body, and a deep groan burst from the multitude of the spectators. But they had no leisure to testify their feelings, two troops of horse dispersed them in different directions. Such was the end of the unfortunate Charles Stuart; an awful lesson to the possessors of royalty to watch the growth of public opinion, and to moderate their pretentions in conformity with the reasonable desires of their people. *
Lingard, vol. t., p. 203.
* The warrant for Charles's execution, called the “ Bloody Warrant," was signed by fifty-nine commissioners. It was addressed 10 Colonels Hacker, Huncks, and Phray, and ordered execution of the king's sentence at Whitehall, on the 30th January, being the following day. The warrant was as follows:
“Whereas, Charles Stuart, King of England, is and standeth convicted, attainted, and condemned of high treason and other crimes; and sentence upon Saturday last was pronounced against him by this court to be put to death by severing his head from his body, of which sentence execution yet remains to be done. These are,
PERSON AND CHARACTER. He was of middle stature, robust, and well proportioned, his fea. tures were regular, his face handsome, but his countenance was naturally of a melancholy cast, yet expressive of a benevolent mind. His intellectual powers were naturally good, and so improved by continual exercise, that though in the beginning of his reign he spoke with hesitation, towards the close of his life he discovered in his discourse elocution and quickness of conception. He was undeniably possessed, not only of good natural talents, but also of many excellent qualities, such as temperence, fortitude, and personal bravery ; but his dissimulation or want of integrity is manifested in every trait of his conduct; and thus losing him the fairest opportunities of reinstating him on the throne, appears to have been the principal vice for which he paid the tribute of his life.
therefore, to will and require you to see the said sentence executed in the open street before Whitehall, upon the morrow, between the hours of ten in the morning and five in the afternoon of the same day, with full effect ; and for so doing this shall be your sufficent warrant. And these are to require all officers, soldiers, and others, the good people of this nation of England, to be assisting you in this service.
"To COLONEL FRANCIS HACKER,
Given under our hands and seals."
It is mentioned in Spencer's anecdotes, that a few nights after the execution of the king, a man covered with a cloak, and with his face muffled, supposed to have been Cromwell, marched slowly round the coffin covered with pall, which contained the body of Charles, and exclaimed, “ Dreadful necessity !”. Having done this two or three times, he merched out of the room, in the same slow and solemn manner in which he came into it. Cromwell and Ireton saw the execution of Charles from a small window of the banquetting house at Whitehall. Hugh Peters, who was truly and really Charles's jailor, bore a colonel's commission in the civil war, and was strongly suspected of being one of the masked executioners; one Hulet, the other.
Note to Raymond's Metricul History, p. 135. After the king's head was struck off, his body was put in a coffin covered with black velvet, and removed to the lodging-room in Whitehall. Being embalmed, it was delivered to four of his servants, who conveyed it to Windsor, where it was silently interred without the burial service, on the 7th of February. The place of Interment is in a vault about the middle of the choir, over against the eleventh stall, near Henry VIII. and Jane Seymour, with this in capitals on a fillet of lead, KING CHARLES, 1648. The whole funeral charges came but to 2291. 58.
The coffin was opened in 1813, in the presence of the Prince Regent, and the remains examined by Sir Henry Halford, who states that the Vandyke portraits greatly resemble the unfortunate monarch; his hair was dark brown (it is generally supposed to have been quite grey), about two inches long in the neck, being probably so cut by the executioner, or by his friends who wished for a remembrance; the beard was perfect, pointed, as in the portraits, of a redder brown than the hair. The back of the head, and the place where it had rested in the coffin, was wet, with what Sir Henry, from the tests he applied, supposed to be blood.
A few days after the king's execution a work appeared in the king's name, called the Icon Basilike. Much controversy has prevailed whether it was the production of the king, or of some other individual. Hume seems to think, from the internal evidence of these meditations, the elegance, purity, neatness, and simplicity of the style, and the general resemblance it bore to some of those performances which were known to have proceeded from Charles, that it was the king's composition : appearing at such a critical juncture, and being full of tenderness, meekness, and humanity, it caused a great re-action in public feeling. Some have even ascribed to this book the subsequent restoration of the royal family. The Icon passed throngh fifty editions in a twelvemonth ; and Milton compares its effects to those wrought on the tumultuous Romans by Anthony reading to them the will of Cæsar.
Spencer, p. 465. CHRONICLE. 1625, May 1. Charles's marriage with the Princess Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of Henry IV., of France, was solemnised on a platform before the great door of the cathedral of Paris, the Duke of Chevereux acting as the king's proxy: June 13. The queen landed at Dover, when she was met by the king, and conducted the same day to Canterbury. They next proceeded to Hampton Court, their public entry into London being prevented by the plague, which swept off 35,417 persons. 1626. sons of forty pounds a year, or more, were ordered to receive the order of knighthood. 1626. Charles crowned at Westminster ; he chose to be clad in white rather than purple, as his predecessors usually wore at a coronation ; and the unction, that it might not be seen, was performed behind a traverse by Archbishop Abbot. To prevent the increase of the plague, he omitted riding in state from the Tower to Whitehall. 1628. The Duke of Buckingham assassinated by Felton, at Portsmouth. Charles caused the thirtynine articles of the Church of England to be published. Nov 19. Felton executed at Tyburn, and hanged in chains, for the mur. der of Buckingham. It was suggested by Charles that Felton might be put to the rack, in order to make him discover his accomplices; But the judges unanimously declared that the law of England did not allow the use of torture. It was the first adjudication on the illegality of this mode of extorting confession.*
* Notwithstanding the formal opinion of the judges in the case of Felton, there is no doubt that the practice continued during the whole reign of Charles I., as a warrant for applying the torture to one Archer, in 1640, is to be seen at the state paper office. This, however, appears to have been the last occasion on which this odious practice was resorted to. There is no trace of it during the Commonwealth: and in the reign of Charles II., where we might have expected to find it, there is not a single well-authenticated instance of the application of the torture. The following is an account of the kinds of torture chiefly employed in the Tower :-The rack was a large open frame of oak, raised three feet from the ground. The prisoner was laid under it on his back on the floor; his wrists and ancles were attached by cords to two collars at the ends of the frame; these were moved by levers in opposite directions, till the body rose to a level with the frame, questions were then put, and if the answers did not prove satisfactory the sufferer was stretched more and more, till the bones started from their sockets. The scavenger's daughter was a broad hoop of iron, so called, consisting of two parts, fastened to each other by a hinge. The prisoner was made to kneel on the pavement, and to contract himself into as small a compass as he could. Then the executioner, kneeling on his shoulders, and having introduced the hcop under his legs, compressed the victim close together, till he was able to fasten the extremities over the small of the back. The time allotted to this kind of torture was an hour and a half, during which time It commonly happened that from excess of compression the blood started from the nostrils ; sometimes, it was believed, from the extremities of the hands and feet. Iron gauntlets, which could be contracted by the aid of a screw; these were also called manacles. They served to compress the wrists, and to suspend the prisoner in the air, from two distant points of a beam. He was placed on three pieces of wood piled one on the other, which, when his hands had been made fast, were successively withdrawn from under his feet. “I felt," said F. Gerard, one of the sufferers for the gupowder plot," the chief pain in my breast, belly, arms, and hands. I thought that all the blood in my body had run into my arms, and began to burst out at my finger's ends. This was a mistake ; but the arms swelled till the gauntlets were buried within the flesh. After being thus suspended an hour I fainted, and when I came to myself I found the executioners supporting me m their arms; they replaced the pieces of wood under my feet, but as soon as I was recovered they removed them again. Thus I continued hanging for the space of five hours, during which I fainted eight or nine times.” A fourth kind of torture was a cell called "little ease." It was of so small dimensions, and so cons ructed, that the prisoner could neither stand, walk, sit, nor lie in it at full length; he was compelled to draw himself up in a squatting posture, and so remain during several days.
1630, May 29. Prince Charles, afterwards Charles II., King of England born. A bright star, is recorded by Carte, shone in the east at noon-day. 1632, Nov. 6th. Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, killed at the battle of Lutzen. 1634. Mr. Prynne, a lawyer of uncommon erudition, and a zealous Puritan, prosecuted in the star-chamber, for publishing his book called “Histriomastix,” being an attack on the adminstration for countenancing plays, masquerades, &c.; he was adjudged to stand twice in the pillory, to be branded in the forehead, to lose both his ears, to pay a fine of £5,000, and to suffer perpetual imprisonment: he employed the leisure of gaol in writing a fresh libel against hierarchy. Prynne lost the remainder of his ears in the pillory. When thus brought up again before the star-chamber, some of the lords turned up his hair, and expressed their great in dignation that his ears had not been better cropped. 1635. Old Parr was presented to the king, being 152 years of age, and in perfect health; he died in London on the 15th November. He was born in the reign of King Edward IV., had lived in the reigns of eight kings and queens of England. His age was exceeded seventeen years by Henry Jenkins, a native of Bolton-upon-Swale, who died in 1670. Born when the Catholic religion was established, Jenkins saw the supremacy of the pope overturned, the dissolution of the monasteries, Popery re-established, and at last the Protestant religion securely fixed on a rock of adamant. In his time the invincible armada was destroyed, the Republic of Holland was formed, three queens were beheaded, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Mary Queen of Scots ; a King of Spain was seated on the throne of England (Phılıp,
husband of Queen Mary), a King of Scotland was crowned King of England at Westminster, and his son and successor was beheaded before his
Lingard : Nole to vol. vii. It would lead us into too wide a field to point out the various considerations which suggest theinselves upon a review of this subject. The facts above collected are, however, well worthy the attention of the student of our constitutional history; for the long continuance, under the authority of the royal prerogative alone, of a practice directly opposed to the fundamental principles of reason, justice, and law, condemn d and denounced by the opinions of the wisest lawyers and statesmen, at the very time they were compelled to act upon it, furnishes a very remarkable instance of the existence in former times of a power above the law controlling and subverting the law, and rendering its practical application altogether inconsistent with its theoretical excellence, Criminal Trials: Penny Magazine, p. 55,