Page images


[ocr errors]

by parliament, is not here the question. -I will add but one instance more of the ingratitude of Charles; but that is such a one as will serve to illus, trate his character very remarkably.It is well known thật Charles I. was talked of as a martyr, both before and after his son's restoration: as a martyr, therefore, it was naturally to be supposed he would be honoured. This, of course, would produce a solemn interment; and a superb monument, suitable to the great merits and dignity of the person. And, if lord Clarendon may be believed, “ his majesty had reşolved to do it before his coming into England.” Why it was not done, his lordship has told us a long-winded story; the substance of which is, that the body of the king's father could not be found at Windsor, where it had been interred, because the lords Southampton and Lindsey, who had attended on that occasion, “could not recollect their memories, nor find any one mark by which they could make any judgment near what place the kings body laya.”—This was the excuse to save appearances; and cover over disregard and neglect of a parent, who, in his eye, had nothing of the tyrant or foe to mankind. For, in fact, it was nothing but an excuse; and founded in falsehood too. It has been made a question, and a wonder, by many, why a particular monument was not erected for Charles I." says Echard," after the restoration of his son; especially when the parliament was well inclined to have given a good sum for that grateful purpose. This has caused several conjectures, and reflections: and intimations have been given, as if the royal body bad never been deposited there (Windsor); or, else, had afterwards

a Clarendon's Continuation, vol. II. p. 192. and History of the Repellion, vol. V. p. 461.

been removed by the regicides ; and the lord Clarendon himself speaks softly and suspiciously of this matter, as if he believed that the body could not be found. But to remove all imaginations, we shall insert a memorandum, or certificate, sent by Mr. John Sewell, a register at Windsor Castle : Anno 1696, September twenty-first, the same vault in which king Charles the First was buried, was opened, to lay in a still-born child of the then princess of Denmark, now our gracious queen. On the king's coffin, the velvet pall was strong and sound; and there was about the coffin a leaden band, with this inscription cut through it, KING CHARLES, MDCXLVIII. Queen Jane's coffin was whole, and entire : but that of king Henry the Eighth was sunk in upon the breast part; and the lead and wood consumed with the heat of the gums he was embalmed with: and when I laid


hand on it, it was run together, and hard, and had no noisome smell.' As a farther memorandum, relating to king Charles's interment,' he says, ! that when the body of king Charles the First lay in state, in the dean's hall, the duke of Richmond had the coffin opened, and was satisfy'd that it was the king's body. This several people have declared they knew to be true, who were alive, and then present; as, Mr. Randolph of New Windsor, and others : so that he thinks the lord Clarendon was misled in that matter; and that king Charles the Second never sent to enquire after the body, since it was well known, both to the inhabitants of the castle and town, that it was in that vaulla.” That lord Clarendon's tale is mere fiction, may be, I think, concluded from the house of commons voting, Jan. 30, 1677, sixty-eight thousand pounds for the

History of England, vol. II. p. 649.

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

Such was

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 resolution ;--not a word, from any one, that it was difficult to find the body a.---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. 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 hatred and contempt of mankind. Omnes immemorem beneficii oderunt: eámque injuriam in deterrenda liberalitate sibi etiam fieri; eúmque, qui faciat, communem hostem tenuiorum putant b.”

s He was unjust to such as were not in his favour; &c.] Sheffield says, “ He was surely inclined to justice; 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 bumour 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“.!!



: Journal; and Grey's Debates, vol. V. p. 32. field'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: yet 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 upon maxim's of state than inclinations of inercya.”—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, determine. Harrington, the celebrated writer of the Oceana, had been a companion of Charles I. in the midst of his disfresses; 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 no 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 excessive bail :-Nevill, the author of Plato Redivivus,

· Burnet, vol. I. p. 612.

• See Toland's Life of Harrington, Wood's Athenæ, 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 com


e See Journals of the House of Commons, Sept. 5, 1660. rol. Vit, p. 914.

« PreviousContinue »