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great freedom, spirit, and bravery. Among other things, he said, “ If he should be now called in ques. tion 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 impeached 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 questions were determined by crown law; and that the prisoner, notwithstanding all he could say, was found guilty of high treason. On this, his majesty, was de- . termined, notwithstanding his promise, to avail himself of the verdict: as appears by the following copy of an original letter, written from “ Hamton Court, Saturday, two in the afternoone.
“The relation that hath been made to me of Sir H. Vane's carriage yesterday, in the Hall, is the occasion of this letter; which, if I am rightly informed, was so insolent as to justify all he had done, acknowledging no supreame power in England but a parl. and many things to that purpose. You have had a true account of all; and if he has given new occasion to be hanged, certaynly he is too dangerous a man to lett live, if we can honestly put him out of the way. Thinke of this, and give me some accounte of it tomorrow : till when I have no more to say to you a."
“ To the chancellour.” This letter, it is apparent, was written June 7, 1662; and that day se'nnight Sir Henry Vane was beheaded on Tower-hill : where he behaved in a manner worthy of himself, and the cause of liberty in which he had embarked. The king's letter needs no comment.Lord Clarendon has not taken notice of any part of this affair.--Lambert, at the same time, was condemned; but reprieved and afterwards banished for life. And, it is very probable, Hasilrig would have paid dearly for his past transactions, had not death seized on him in the Tower : for, after his death, his transactions were reported to the house of commons; and it was resolved, nem. con. that Sir A. Hasilrig was guilty of high treason; and that all his estate, real and
* In the possession of James West, of Covent Garden, Esq.
personal, be confiscate and forfeited for the said treason: though an address was, at the same time, resolved to be made to his majesty, by petition, to restore his estate, in pursuance of the duke of Albemarle's [Moncke's] engagement."
The imprisonment of these three men, even before it was certainly known what their fate would be, made Algernon Sidney determine to tarry abroad, contrary to the first advice of his friends. “I have ever had in my mind,” says that upright and virtuous man, “ that when God shall cast me in such a condition, as that I cannot save my life but by doing an indecent thing; he shews me the time is come wherein I should resign it. And when I cannot live in my own country, but by such means as are worse than dying in it: I think he shews me, I ought to keep myself out of it. Let them please themselves with making the king glorious, who think a whole people may justly be sacrificed, for the interest and pleasure of one man and a few of his followers : let them rejoice in their subtilty, who, by betraying the former powers, have gain’d the favour of this, not only preserv’d, but advanc'd themselves in these dangerous changes. Nevertheless (perhaps) they may find the kings glory is their shame; his plenty, the people's misery: and that the gaining of an office, or a little money, is a poor reward for destroying a nation! (which if it were preserved in liberty and virtue, would truly be the most glorious in the world) and that others may find they have, with much pains, purchased their own shame and misery; a dear price paid for that which is not worth keeping, nor the life that is accompanied with it. The honour of English parliaments has ever been in making the nation glorious and
happy; not in selling and destroying the interest of it, to satisfy the lusts of one man. Miserable nation! that, from so great á height of glory, is fallen into the most despicable condition in the world, of having all its good depending upon the breath and will of the vilest persons in it! cheated and sold by them they trusted !--Infamous traffick ! equal almost in guilt to that of Judas ! In all preceding ages, parliaments have been the pillars of our liberty, the sure defenders of the oppressed. They, who formerly could bridle kings, and keep the ballance equal between them and the people, are now become the instruments of all our oppressions, and a sword in his hand to destroy us. They themselves led by a few interested persons, who are willing to buy offices by themselves, by the misery of the whole nation, and the blood of the most worthy and eminent persons in it. Detestable bribes! worse than the oaths now in fashion in this mercenary court! I mean to owe neither my life nor liberty to any such means: when the innocence of my actions will not protect me, I will stay away till the storm be overpassed. In short, where Vane, Lambert, and Hasilrigg, cannot live in safety; I cannot live at all. If I had been in England, I should have expected a lodging with them : or, tho' they may be the first, as being more eminent than I, I must expect to follow their example in suffering, as I have been their companion in acting. I am most in amaze at the mistaken informations that were sent me by my friends, full of expectations of favours, and employments. Who can think that they, who imprison them, would employ me; or suffer me to live, when they are put to death? If I might live, and be employed; can it be expected, that I should serve a government that seeks such detestable ways of establishing itself? Ah! no: I have not learnt to make
his morals, he was one of the most perfect
my own peace, by persecuting and betraying my brethren, more innocent and worthy than myself. I must live by just means, and serve to just ends, or not at all, after such a manifestation of the ways by which it is intended the king shall govern. I should have renounced any place of favour, into which the kindness and industry of my friends might have advanced me, when I found those that were better than I were only fit to be destroyed. I had formerly some jealousies : the fraudulent proclamation for indemnity increased them; the imprisonment of those three men, and turning out all the officers of the army, contrary to promise, confirmed me in my resolutions not to return a."
What noble sentiments are here! All antiquity cannot produce a finer than the letter in which they are contained : nor do the names of Brutus, or Timoleon, do more honour to ancient Greece and Rome, than Algernon Sidney's to England. We shall, hereafter, see him act with equal dignity in the last scene of life; when the injustice of the prince towards him, which is here feared, was made conspicuous to all 6.
“ Hail those old patriots ; on whose tongue
See note 32,
* Brown's Letters, vol. I. p. 62. 8vo. Lond. 1705.