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cèpts and instructions, as would apply to every species of example, which a prince should be taught either to imitate or avoid; and these lessons would carry the greater force and recommendation with them, and have an advantage over all fabulous morals, by being incorporated with a real history of the most interesting sort.
HOWEVER disposed we may be to execrate the bloody act of the regicides, yet we must admit the errors and misconduct of Charles's unhappy reign to be such as cannot be palliated; in our pity for his fate we must not forget the history of his failings, nor, whilst we are sympathising in the pathos of of the tragedy, overlook its moral.
Four successive parliaments, improvidently dissolved, were sufficient warnings for the fifth to fall upon expedients for securing to themselves a more permanent duration, by laying some restraints upon a prerogative so wantonly exerted.
Let us call to mind the inauspicious commencement of this monarch's reign; before the ceremony of his coronation had taken place, he espoused a sister of France, and set a catholic princess on the throne of a protestant kingdom, scarce cool from the ferment of religious jealousies, recently emancipated from the yoke of Rome, and of course intolerant through terror, if not by principle: The most obnoxious man in the kingdom was Montague, author of the proscribed tract, intitled Apello Casarem, and him Charles enrolled in his list of royal chaplains: By throwing himself incontinently into the hands of Buckingham, he shewed his people
they were to expect a reign of favouritism, and the choice of the minister marked the character of the monarch: He levied musters for the Palatinate of twelve thousand men, exacted contributions for coat and conduct-money, declared martial law in the kingdom, and furnished his brother of France with a squadron of ships for the unpopular reduction of Rochelle, and the mariners refused the service: These measures stirred the parliament then sitting to move for a redress of grievances, before they provided for his debts, and their remonstrances provok ed him upon the instant to dissolve them.
Every one of these proceedings took place before his coronation, and form the melancholy prelude to his misguided government.
A second parliament was called together, and to intimidate them from resuming their redress of grievances, and divert their attempts from the person of his favourite, he haughtily informs them, that he cannot suffer an enquiry even on the meanest of his servants. What was to be expected from such a menacing declaration? They, disdaining illam ofculari, quá sunt oppressi, manum, proceed to impeach Buckingham; the king commits the managers of that process to the Tower, and resorting to his prerogative, dissolves his second parliament as suddenly, and more angrily, than his first.
A third parliament meets, and in the interim new grievances of a more awakening sort had supplied them with an ample field for complaint and remonstrance; in the intermission of their fittings, he had exacted a loan, which they interpreted a tax without parliament, and of course a flagrant violation of the constitution; this he enforced with so high a hand, that several gentleman of name in their counties had been committed to close imprisonment for refusing payment; ship-money also at this time began to be
questioned as an intolerable grievance, and being one of the resources for enabling the crown to govern without a parliament, it was considered by many as a violation of their rights, an inequitable and oppressive tax, which ought to be resisted, and accordingly it was resisted: This parliament therefore, after a short and inefficient sitting, shared the sudden fate of its predecessors.
The same precipitancy, greater blindness, a more confirmed habit of obstinacy, and a heightened degree of aggravation marked this period of intermission from parliaments, for now the leading members of the late house were sent to close imprisonment in the Tower, and informations were lodged against them in the Star-Chamber.
The troubles in Scotland made it necessary for the king once more to have resort to a parliament; they met for the fourth time on the thirteenth of April 1640, and the fifth day of the following month sent them back to their constituents to tell those grievances in the ears of the people, which their sovereign disdained to listen to.- -Ill counselled sovereign! but will that word apologize for conduct so intemperate? It cannot: A mind, so flexible towards evil counsel, can possess no requisites for government: What hope now remained for moderate measures, when the people's representatives should again assemble? In this fatal moment the fuel was prepared and the match lighted, to give life to the flames of civil war; already Scotland had set those sparks into a blaze; the king, unable to extinguish the conflagration by his own power and resources, for the fifth and last time convenes his parliament; but it was now too late for any confidence or mutual harmony to subsist between the crown and commons; on the third of November following their last dissolution, the new-elected
members take possession of their seats, and the house soon resounds with resolutions for the impeachment of the minister Strafford and the primate Laud: The humble monarch confirms the fatal bill of attainder, and sends Strafford to the scaffold; he ratifies the act for securing parliament against future dissolution, and subscribes to his own death-warrant with the same pen.
The proceedings of this famous parliament are of a mixt nature; in many we discern the true spirit of patriotism, and not a few seem dictated by revenge and violence: The Courts of High Commission and Star-Chamber are abolished, and posterity applauds their deliverers; the city-crosses are pulled down, the bishops sent to the Tower, and their whole order menaced with expulsion from parliament, and here we discover the first dawnings of fanatic phrensy: An incurable breach is made in the constitution; its branches are dissevered, and the axe of rebellion is laid to the root of the tree : The royal standard is set up; the father of his people becomes the general of a party, and the land is floated with the blood of its late peaceable inhabitants Great characters start forth in the concussion, great virtues and great vices: Equal courage and superior conduct at length prevail for the leaders of the people; a fanatic champion carries all before him; the sovereign surrenders himself weakly, capitulates feebly, negociates deceitfully, and dies heroically.
And this is the reign, this is the exit of a king! Let kings ponder it, for it is a lesson, humbling perhaps to their pride of station, but pointedly address
ed to their instruction.
If there is a trust in life, which calls upon the conscience of the man who undertakes it more strongly than any other, it is that of the education of an heir
apparent to a crown: The training such a pupil is a task indeed; how to open his mind to a proper knowledge of mankind, without letting in that knowledge which inclines to evil; how to hold off flattery and yet admit familiarity; how to give the lights of information, and shut out the false colours of seduction, demands a judgment for distinguishing and an authority for controuling, which few governors in that delicate situation ever possess, or can long retain: To educate a prince, born to reign over an enlightened people, upon the narrow scale of secret and sequestered tuition, would be an abuse of common sense; to let him loose upon the world is no less hazardous in the other extreme, and each would probably devote him to an inglorious destiny: That he should know the leading characters in the country he is to govern, be familiar with its history, its constitution, manners, laws and liberties, and correctly comprehend the duties and distinctions of his own hereditary office, are points that no one will dispute: That he should travel through his kingdom I can hardly doubt, but whether those excursions should reach into other states, politically connected with, or opposed to, his own, is more than I will presume to lay down as a general rule, being aware that it must depend upon personal circumstances: splendor he may be indulged in, but excess in that, as in every thing else, must be avoided, for the mischiefs cannot be numbered, which it will entail upon him; excess in expence will subject him to obligations of a degrading sort; excess in courtesy will lay him open to the forward and assuming, raise mountains of expectation about him, and all of them undermined by disappointment, ready charged for explosion, when the hand of presumption shall set fire to the train: Excess in pleasure will lower him in character, destroy