Page images
PDF
EPUB

that beare it: for myselfe, I never was so much inticed with the glorious name of a king, or the royall authoritie of a queene, as delighted that God hath made me his instrument to maintaine his truth and glorie, and to defend this kingdome from dishonour, dammage, tyrannie, and oppression. But should I ascribe any of these things unto my selfe, or my sexly * weakenesse, I were not worthy to live, and of all most unworthy of the mercies I have received at God's hands; but to God onely and wholly all is given and ascribed. “The cares and trouble of a crowne I cannot more fitly resemble then to the drugges of a learned physitian, perfumed with some aromaticall savour, or to bitter pils guilded over, by which they are made more exceptable or lesse offensive, which, indeed, are bitter and unpleasant to take; and for my owne part, were it not for conscience sake to discharge the dutie that God hath layd upon me, and to maintaine his glorie and keepe you in safetie, in mine owne disposition I should be willing to resigne the place I hold to any other, and glad to be freed of the glory with the labors, for it is not my desire to live nor to reign longer then my life and reigne shall bee for your good. And though you have had and may have many mightier and wiser princes sitting in this seat, yet you never had nor shall have any that will love you better. “Thus, Mr. Speaker, I commend mee to your loyall loves, and yours to my best care and your further councels; and I pray you Mr. Controullor, and Mr. Secretary,

* A good word, which we do not recollect ever to have met with elsewhere.

and you of my councell, that before these gentlemen depart into their countreys you bring them all to kisse my hand.”

[Brit. Mus. King's Pamphlets, vol. iv. small quarto, intitled Parliamentary Speeches, A*. 1641-2. Jan. Sept. Article 15.]

The whole of this speech, both in the sentiments and the turn of expression, bespeaks a superior mind. It breathes a spirit almost worthy of a Trajan, a Marcus Aurelius, or a Turgot.

The work of King James, to which we referred above, is, “The Trew Law of Free Monarchies, or The Reciprock and Mutuall Duetie betwixt a Free King and his naturall Subjects;” from which we shall take the liberty to lay before our readers a few choice morsels, as a sort of foretaste to the main argument of our discourse. And first, we desire to call attention to the words in the title, “Free Monarchies,” which denote a very different thing from free people, or even free constitutions; meaning that the King is free to do what he pleases, in other words, is the sovereign, and the government a pure monarchy.

His Majesty thus commences: “As there is not a thing so necessarie to be knowne by the people of any land, next the knowledge of their God, as the right knowledge of their alleageance, according to the form of gov" established among them, especially in a monarchie, (which forme of gov" as resembling the Divinitie, approacheth nearest to perfection, as all the learned and wise men from the beginning have agreed upon; unitie being the perfection of all things,) so hath the ignorance,

* King James's Works, p. 191. folio, 1616.

and (which is worse) the seduced opinion of the multitude blinded by them who think themselves able to teach and instruct the ignorants, procured the wracke and overthrow of sundry flourishing commonwealths, and heaped heavy calamities, threatning utter destruction, upon others. “Kings are called gods by the propheticall King David, because they sat upon God his throne in the earth, and have the count of their administration to give unto him.” Again; “By the law of nature the King becomes naturall father to all his lieges at his coronation.” Having briefly expounded what he conceives to be the relation which the King bears to his “ lieges,” the kingly penman proceeds to the other branch of this “mutuall and reciprock band;” “ the ground whereof.” he says, “I take out of the words of Samuel, dited by God's spirit, when God had given him commandment to hear the people's voice in choosing and anointing them a king. And because that piece of Scripture, being cell wnderstood (!) is so pertinent for our purpose, I have insert here in the very words of the text. “‘ 9. Now therefore hearken to their voice: howbeit yet testifie unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. “‘ 10. So Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked a king of him. “‘ 11. And he said, This shall be the manner of the king that shall reign over you : he will take y' sons, and appoint them to his charets, , and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his charet. “‘12. Also, he will make them his captains over thousands, and captains over fifties, and to eare his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make instruments of war, and the things that serve for his charets: “‘ 13. He will also take y' daughters, and make them apothecaries, and cooks, and bakers, “‘ 14. And he will take y' fields, and y vineyards, and y' best olive trees, and give them to his servants. “‘ 15. And he will take the tenth of yo seed, and of y" vineyards, and give it to his eunuchs, and to his Servants. “‘ 16. And he will take y' menservants, and yo maidservants, and the chief of y' young men, and y' asses, and put them to his work. “‘ 17. He will take the tenth of y" sheep, and ye shall be his servants. “‘18. And ye shall cry out at that day because of y" king, whom ye have chosen you; and the Lord God will not hear you at that day. “‘ 19. But the people wo not hear the voice of Samuel, but did say: Nay, but there shall be a king over us. “‘ 20. And we also will be like all other nations, and our king shall judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”” King James infers from the above that kings have a Divine right to do unto their subjects all that is there enumerated; and further, that since the godly kings of the Jews did all that, and more also, without any rebellion being encouraged by the prophets against them, they are accountable to no human power for their actions.

* King James's Works, p. 191, folio, 1616.

“Now then, since the erection of this kingdom and monarchie among the Jewes, and the law thereof, may and ought to bee a paterne to all Christian and wellfounded monarchies, as being founded by God himselfe, who by his oracle, and out of his own mouth, gave the law thereof: what liberty can broiling spirits and rebellious minds claim justly to ago any Christian monarchie; since they can claim to no greater libertie on their part, nor [than] the people of God mo have done, and no great' tyranny was ever executed by any prince or tyrant, whom they can object, nor [than] was here forewarned to the people of God; (and yet all rebellion countermanded unto them;) if tyrannizing over men's persons, sonnes, daughters, and servants; redacting noble houses, and men and women of noble blood, to slavish and servile offices; and extortion and spoile of their lands and goods to the prince's own private use and commoditie, and of his courtiers and servants, may be called a tyrannie.

“And that this proposition, grounded upon the Scripture, may the more clearly appear to be trew by the practise oft prooved in the same booke, we never reade that ever the prophets persuaded the people to rebell ago the prince, how wicked so ever he was.”

Let us see, then, how much this argument in favour of the Divine right of kings, drawn from the expressed will of the Divinity, is worth. The Jews had previously lived under a comparatively good government; but in their ignorance and stiffneckedness they sought to have a king, to be in the fashion of the nations around them.

* King James’s Works, p. 199.

« PreviousContinue »