Page images
PDF
EPUB

M by any person shall be killed, destroyed, wasted, con

'•' sumed, pined or lamed in his or her body, or any

"part thereof; that then every such offender or of

M renders, their aiders, abettors, and counsellors, being

*' of any the faid offences duly and lawsully convicted

"and attainted, shall suffer pains of death as a selon or

'' selons; and shall lose the privilege and benefit of

f* clergy and fanctuary." (h) Upon this statute great ^ stat. »n

numbers have been condemned and executed, to the no primo la

reproach of common sense and humanity. And even cobls"E'V-

great and good men have been the instruments hereby

of condemning miserable innocent creatures.

A caution to law-makers this, not (in order to please a prince) to enact statutes, especially on the penalty of death, unless upon the most solid, weighty reasons.— For though the general opinion then was, that there were witches, and that they did much hurt and da-' mage, yet ought the parliament to have weighed well the foundation on which it was built, and the consequences of it. Whereas they took the opinion on trust, and enacted a most dreadsul punishment for an imaginary crime. James tells us, " that witches ought

*' to be put to death, according to the municipal law "of all christian nations." He spoke as he knew j but had his learning been as univerfal as it was proclaimed, he could not with truth have faid so. For Dr. Hufchinson assures us, that Vis so far from being true, that all nations have always had such laws as ours, that he had some reason to doubt, whether any nation in the world hath, unless it be Scotland (i). And with great ,.,„.- . ,

1 /. T p » 1 1 ., 'vi • 7-. 1 • • (1) Historical

pleasure 1 hnd that there " was a law in htbtopta, discourse of "which prohibited the people to believe that there is witchcraft, "any such thing as witches; the belief whereof, they p" l58, *' fay, is founded upon the error of the Manichees, "that there are two independent gods, a good one, "and a bad one." (k) But I will leave this subject, (k) Geddea after having observed that we have reason to be thank- church hisful to almighty God, and to acknowledge the wisdom'"7°'E_,hl" and g-oodnessof d*ur government, for repealing the sta- jvo.'Lond.* fute aforefaid, and " enacting, that no prosecution, ^96J' suit, or proceeding (hall be commenced, or carried

"on

narchy (s) ; but especially his piece so highly extolled, entitled BALIAIKON AX1PON (t),

for

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

"on against any person or persons for witchcraft, sor"eery, inchantment, or conjuration, in any court "whatsoever in Great Britain." (/) This is a statute as much in honour to our legislators as any ever enacted, and will transmit their fame down to posterity; it being founded on reason and justice, and productive of the fasety of the people, whose welfare is the end of all government. I have faid above, that I supposed James did believe the doctrine of witches. But, in justice to his character, I must here add, that after his being in. England, having met with a number of forgeries and cheats, they wrought such an alteration upon his judgment, that at first he grew diffident of, and then flatly denied the workings of witches and devils («).

(5) His trew law of free monarchy.] This was printed in September 1598, without his name. "The "bent of it, fays Calderwood, was directed against the cc course of God's work, in the reformation of our "kirk, and elsewhere, as rebellious to kings." {a) And it must be consessed, if the doctrine contained in this treatise is true, the Scotch and many other of the reformers, will with difficulty be cleared from rebellion. For he assert- the regal power strongly; allows resistance or disobedience to it upon no account whatsoever j and reflects on the " seditious preachers of whatsoever *' religion, either in Scotland or in France, that had "busied themselves most to stir up rebellion under cloke "of religion " (b) In short, he plainly fays, " the "king is above the law, and that he is not bound "thereto, but of his good will, and for good example"giving to his subjects." (c) This is the doctrine contained in the law of free monarchy, than which nothing can be more vile and abominable.

(t) BAS1AIKON AfiPON.] This book is dedicated to his dearest son and natural successor, prince lienry.

'Tis.

for the use of his son prince Henry; which being published (though censured by the synod of St. Andrews) was well accepted in

England,

'Tis divided into three parts. "The first teacheth your "duty towards God as a christian; the next your duty "in your office as a king; and the third informeth you "how to behave yourself in indifferent things, fays he "to the prince (a). It was wrote for an exercise of his M Worts, "own ingenie and instruction of him, who, he hoped, "was appointed of God to sit on his throne after him." ——" Seven copies only were permitted to be printed, "the printer being first sworn to secresie; but, cons' trary to his intention and expectation, the book was "vented, and set forth to public view." (b) This (l>)u. p. was in the year 1599. This book contains some tole- 1*irable things, but intermixed with strange passages: those relating to the clergy, whom he opprobrioufly terms puritans, I have had occasion before to mention (c): what follows, I think, is not less remarkable. M se e note "Suffer not your princes and your parents to be disho-(' *' noured by any: the infaming and making odious of "the parent, is the readiest way to bring the son into

"contempt. I never yet found a constant biding

"by me in all my streights, by anv that were of perfit "age in my parents days, but only by such as conftnnt*' ly bode by them; I mean, specially by them that "served the queen my mother." (d) So that princes, W Works, even after their death, are not to have much truthp' spoken concerning them, if they have children to reign after them; and all their tyrannies, oppressions, and vices are to be buried in oblivion, or concealed at least from the eyes of the vulgar. What monstrous doctrine is this! how does it take off all awe and restraint from princes, and give them hope of reputation after death, how ill soever they may behave! How much more sensible and judicious were the sentiments of the virtuous and amiable u Queen Mary, who when f? reflections were once made before her, of the sharp

"ness

England, and raised an admiration in all men's hearts, fays Spotswood, of his piety and wisdom. Certain 'tis, adds the fame writer, that all the discourses that came forth at that time for maintaining his right to the

crown

** ness of some historians, who had left heavy imputar „ ?* tions on the memory of some princes; answered, that

"if those princes were truly such, as the historians re-r "presented them, they had well deserved that treats' ment; and others who tread their steps might look "for the fame ; for truth would be told at last, and f that with the more acrimony of style, for being so .*? long restrained it was a gentle suffering (added she) , '' to be exposed to the world in their true colours, *' much below what others had suffered at their hands. "She thought also that all sovereigns ought to read such ?' histories as Procopius; for how much soever he may "have aggravated matters, and how unbecomingly "soever he may haye writ, yet by such books they "might see what would be probably faid of themselves, f* when all terrors and restraints should fall off with (r) Bornet's " their lives." (<?) These reflections are solid and just, essay on the ancl coul(l proceed only from a mind conscious of its

memory of r , .' , , , . -. ,

sneenMary, own Jnnocency and integrity; whereas the advice of f. 113. James has the appearance of a sense of guilt, and dread ic^60'Und' °f ^ame- But the praise of his mother's servants, and the acknowledgment of their singular fidelity to him is most amazing: for who were they but most bigotted papists, and enemies to the reformation? who but they who justified her and desended her, even in the most iniquitous and shamesul actions? who were they but men enemies to the constitution of Scotland, and foes to law and liberty? 'Tis no wonder therefore, that the synod of St. Andrews took fire at a book containing these and like passages, and asked " what censure should *' be inflicted upon him that had given such instructions V to the prince, and if he could be thought well

"affected

crown of England, prevailed nothing so much as did this treatise.

However, "James was not so much taken up with these matters, as to neglect making

z interest

"affected to religion, that delivered such precepts "of government I" (/) . These things be- (/) Spott

ing considered, I fancy the judicious reader will riot wood,Pi*S6think the judgment of the learned Gataker of this book much amiss; which being contained in a piece very difficult to be got, I will transcribe at large, and with' it conclude the note. "King James, a prince of more , "policy than puissance, while he was yet king of Scot"land, penned, or owned (g) at least, a book entituled iz) Dr. BJ** Awpov rW,A*xoi>, which whoso shall advisedly read, "^("ho

i ''„ r J, was at the

"though of no very sharp eye-sight or deep reach, yet synod 0f *' may easily descry a design carried all along in it to Doit> *"i "ingratiate himself with the popijh side, by commend- deaTofRo"ing t-he sidelity of hie mother's servants, as to her, so to Chester) it "himself, with the prelatical party, by giving them seid to haye "hope of continuing that government that he should lo"ns "sind here established; with the common people, by al- write his ** lowing them their may-games, and the like sports; Basilicoa *' only he had bitterly expressed himself in high terms jc°ur°ne"y ** against the poor puritans, whom he least feared, and through "deemed generally difaffected by those other three par- Scotland, p. ** ties. Howbeit, when the time drew near of queen 7°* "Elizabeth's departure, that his quiet coming in might "not meet with any disturbance from that party, he "presixed a preface to his book then reprinted, where"in on his honour he protesteth, that by the'name of "puritans he meant not all preachers in general, or "others, that mistiked the ceremonies as badges of po"pery, and the episcopacie as smelling of a papal su*' premacie, but did equally love the learned and grave "on either side; intended only such brainsick and "heady prtachers, that leaned too much to their own "dreams, ccnttmned sll authority, counted all pro

*' fane

« PreviousContinue »