Page images
PDF
EPUB

wonder to find him unjust to such as were not in his favours; or even cruel to those

interment of Charles I. and for erecting him a monument.---In Grey's Parliamentary Debates, there are several speeches of the courtiers in favour of the resoluțion ;-not a word, from any one, that it was difficult to find the body.--A bill was brought in, and ordered to be read a second time; whether it was passed into a law, or not, I cannot certainly say.--If not, his majesty must be blamed; for the house expressed a high veneration for the martyr.

Such was the gratitude of Charles to his father! Such the reverence and regard to his memory! The obligations to parents are of the highest nature; and to be ungrateful to them, is to expose one's self to the haired and contempt of mankind. “ Omnes immemorem beneficii oderunt: eámque injuriam in deterrenda liberalitate sibi etiam fieri; eúmque, qui faciat, communem hostem tenuiorum putant b.”

* He was unjust to such as were not in his favour; &c.] Sheffield says, “ He was surely inclined to jus- , tice; for nothing else would have retained him so fast to the succession of a brother, against a son he was so fond of, and the humour of a party he so much feared. I am willing also to impute to his justice, whatever seems in some measure to contradict the general opinion of his clemency; as his suffering always the rigour of the law to proceed not only against all highwaymen, but also several others, in whose cases the lawyers (according to their wonted custom) had used sometimes a great deal of hardship and severity.!!

Cicero.

Shef,

Journal; and Grey's Debates, vol. V. p. 32. Meld's Works, vol. II. p. 58,

who, by their actions, or writings, had procured his displeasure.--In respect to

Burnet however declares, “ that he seemed to have no bowels or tenderness in his nature: and in the end of his life he became cruel. He was apt to forgive," continues this writer, "all crimes; even blood itself: ġet he never forgave any thing that was done against himself, after his first and general act of indemnity, which was to be reckoned as done rather

maxims of state than inclinations of mercy".”—This seems very severe; but may, notwithstanding, be much more true than the character given by the duke of Buckingham, just above recited. Let facts, however, determiné. Harrington, the celebrated writer of the Oceana, had been a companion of Charles I. in the midst of his distresses; by whom he was esteemed, and regarded. He was, however, a republican; and writ many noble pieces in that cause, which have conveyed his name down with honour to posterity. This man, in December, 1661, was seized, and committed to the Tower, for treasonable designs and practices: and though nó proof at all was made of it, he lay in close confinement there five months, and afterwards, unknown to his friends, was suddenly hurried on shipboard, and confined in St. Nicholas Island, near Plymouth. This impaired his health, and brought on disorders, which rendered the remaining part of his life very unhappy. This, surely, was injustice: injustice in the king, to whom his case had been represented, and from whom even an exchange of prison could not be obtained but on.exe cessive bail-Nevill, the author of Plato Redivivus,

upon

* Barnet, vol. I. p. 612.

o See Toland's Life of Harrington, Wood's Athence, and Biographia Britannica,

a man of rank and learning, suffered also imprisonment; as did Wildman, and many others of the party, for feigned crimes: it being the mode of the court, at this time, to invent tales, in order to cover over their malice to such as had been their opponents. Particulars will easily be recollected by such as are conversant in our histories.---But the case of Sir Henry Vane is so very remarkable, and the king himself was so deep in the design against his life, which was most unjustly taken from him, that I cannot do justice to my subject without enlarging on it. It is well known that this gentleman had a principal hand in bringing lord Strafford to justice; in resisting the tyranny of Charles I. and reducing him to a condition in which he was glad to sue for peace; and that he even advised against closing with him in the Isle of Wight. He, however, never sat in judgment on the king: he never closed with Cromwell, but suffered imprisonment from him; and adhered steadily to the cause of the parliament, which from the beginning he had embraced. On these accounts, though he was excepted in the Bill of Indemnity, the lords and commons joined in a petition to the king, that if he were attainted, yet execution as to his life might be remitted, as he was not one of the immediate murderers of his father; against whom alone his majesty had declared his pleasure to proceed . On the petition's being presented, by the lord chancellor, it was promised to be complied with by the king. His life was now deemed safe. But on a new parliament being called, which was wholly devoted to the court, it was determined that he should feel the effects of its resentment. Accordingly the house of commons ordered, “ that Sir Henry Vane, and col. Lambert, that are wholly excepted and foreprized out of the Act of Indemnity, be left to be proceeded against according to law: and it is recommended to Mr. Attorney General, to take care of the proceedings against thema.” The order was once or twice more renewed : and Sir Henry, in consequence thereof, was brought to a trial at the King's Bench, June 2 and 6, 1662. The indictment was for high treason, evidenced "by consulting, with others, to bring the king to destruction, and to hold him out from the exercise of his regal authority; and then, usurping the government, and appointing officers of the army raised against the king; as also assembling in a warlike manner.” This indictment, it is evident, was fitted for alınost every person concerned in the government from the death of the late king, whose death is not laid to Sir Henry's charge, though it was the alone crime which his present majesty, as we have seen, declared that he desired should be capitally punished. Vane made seve, ral exceptions to the indictinent; and, among other things, said, “ Here is a long time of action for which I am charged; and I may be concerned for what I acted as a member in that sovereign court of parliament; and if any thing concerns the jurisdiction of that court, I ought not to be judged here b.” The court and council at this took great offence. However, upon his pleading Not guilty, four days were allowed him to prepare himself for his trial.

Thurloe,

a See Journals of the House of Commons, Sept. 5, 1660. vol. VII. p. 914.

On the day appointed, the prisoner was brought to the bar; where the attorney general opened the charge, and witnesses were called in support of it. Sir Henry then was required to make his defence: which he did

[ocr errors]

Journal, July 1, 1661.

State Trials, vol. 11. p. 4.4. fol. Lond,

with great freedom, spirit, and bravery. Among other things, he said, " If he should be now called in question for those things which were transacted in that parliament, of which he was a member ; he should have the comfort and peace of those actions to support him in his greatest sufferings.”

He added, “ That if he were excepted [from pardon], then must he be judged for the crime of the whole nation : and that crime must be ravelled into through him: that the case is such as never yet fell out; to wit, that the government being entrusted to three estates, they should so fall out among themselves, as the people cannot tell which to obey : that where these great changes fall out, it is not possible for any man to proceed according to all formalities of law: that there was a political power, by the act of 17 Caroli, co-ordinate with the king; and where these powers are not in conjunction, but in enmity to each other, no court, inferior to the parliament, by whose authority these things were acted, ought to be judges of this case, which certainly never happened before. —He, moreover, offered these points to be considered, and pray'd earnestly to have council assigned him to speak to them.

“1. Whether the collective body of the parliament can be iin peached of high treason?

“ 2. Whether any person, acting by authority of parliament, can (so long as he acted by that authority) commit treason?

“ 3. Whether matters, acted by that authority, can be called in question in an inferior court?

« 4. Whether a king de jure, and out of possession, can have treason committed against him, he not being king de facto, and in actual possession ?

It may very easily be supposed, that all these ques

« PreviousContinue »