Obrazy na stronie

as he had done. The committee do not pretend any forgery in these letters, but seem perfectly satisfied that they were genuine and authentic: they declare themselves "sorry that he was able to produce SUCH WARRANTS; but yet they did not think ANY WARRANT from the king or queen could justify so much blood-shed in so many black instances." A plain proof that they thought he really had such warrant for the blood-shed he committed. And then to perfect the evidence, and put the matter out of all doubt, behold! the son of this unhappy father, Charles II. stands forth, and declares in a letter to the duke of Ormond-"That besides several letters and orders under his royal father's owN HAND, there was sufficient evidence and testimony of several messages and directions sent from his ROYAL FATHER, by which it appears that wHATEVER CORRESPONDENCE or ACTINGS Antrim had with the confederate Irish catholics, they were directed and allowed by the said letters and instructions, and that the KING himself was well pleased with what he (Antrim) had done, and approved the same." Who now, after such evidence, can think the character of this unhappy prince free from deep stain as to this Irish rebellion? Many horrid and black instances of blood-shed and cruelty have been proved upon Antrim; but he undeniably shewed that he had acted by the king's warrant in what he had done; and king Charles II. affirms, and gives it under his hand, that all his actings with the bloody Irish were authorised, directed, and approved by his royal father. Accordingly Antrim was acquitted, and his forfeited estate restored; the guilt therefore of his acting must lie at ANOTHER's door.


Who began the War; the KING or the PARLIAMENT? And whether it can, without the greatest Impropriety and Injustice, be styled a Rebellion?

"IT has been warmly disputed, on which side the war first began. Whether the king or the parliament were the aggressor? He that believes the king's concessions were a sufficient guard against any invasions of the national liberties, and that his majesty really intended in future to govern by law, must condemn the parliament for requiring a further security, and deem the two houses the authors of the war. On the other hand, he that thinks the king had unwillingly consented to the acts limiting his prerogative, and would have revoked them whenever it had been in his power, (which Lord Clarendon himself insinuates to have been his majesty's intention) must throw the blame of the war upon the king, for not agreeing to a farther limitation of his prerogative, at least for a time."-Tindal's Cont. p. 9.

[ocr errors]

King Charles endeavours to establish principles which tended to subvert the constitution of the government; as, that parliaments owed their being to the concession of kings; and that this concession might be revoked, and the king might govern and tax his people without parliamentThat the king was above the laws-That the parliament had no right to meddle in affairs about which the king did not ask their advice-That to complain of the administration was want of respect to the king-That the parliament at most had but a right to represent the grievances to the king, which done, the redress of them was to be patiently waited for at the king's hands.—All these

principles it was easy to perceive, tended to establish a despotic power. The king endeavoured upon all occasions to instill these principles into the minds of his subjects; and to establish them upon instances, taken here and there, of the conduct of his predecessors. He was seen, by his actions, to draw from them the most extensive consequences; to fill the kingdom with monopolies; to compel his subjects to lend or give him money; to dissolve parliaments for not allowing his principles; to imprison such members as ventured to speak freely; and even to declare publicly that he would call no more parliaments. There was then NO MIDDLE WAY: his pretensions were either to be yielded, or opposed with open force."

-Rap. Vol. x. p. 7, 8. That is, there was no choice left, but for the nation to sit still, and to have the chain of despotic government riveted upon its neck; or else, to take arms, and stand up in defence of its constitution, its liberties and rights. To the glorious STAND which was then made, we owe it, under GOD, that our freedom is preserved; and that we are not now a nation of abject and helpless slaves, groaning under the yoke of arbitrary rule.

[ocr errors]

That subjects greatly oppressed have a right to take arms and to stand upon their defence, king Charles himself before all the world expressly avowed, “For he not only assisted the Rochellers, taking arms agains their sovereign, after the war was actually begun; but we have reason to believe he encouraged them to it at first. He sent a gentleman to the duke of Rohan, soliciting him to the war. Buckingham, by his secretary, made many speeches and sent many messages to the people of Rochell to excite them to arms. The king with his own hand sent them two letters to encourage and confirm them in the war they had un

dertaken; promising to exert the whole power of his kingdom for their deliverance; and enters into a league with them, in which is this expressfor That the ROCHELLERS may be delivered from the oppressions they groan under."-Welwood, p. 72, 73. Hence then it most clearly and undeniably follows from the king's own principles and conduct, that the groaning under great oppressions, will justify subjects in taking arms for deliverance!

To call this war, therefore, a rebellion, is to call light, darkness; and is to load with infamy those characters which merit immortal honour; and which ought ever, and will ever, be remembered by posterity with veneration and esteem, The sense of the nation, particularly of the very house of commons which restored king Charles II. with relation to this matter, appears in their treatment of Lenthal, a member of that house: who, having rashly said, "He that first drew the sword against the late king, committed as great an offence as he that cut off his head," was brought upon his knees at the bar of the house, and there severely reprimanded by the Speaker; who declared it as the sense of the house, "That those who drew the sword, did it to bring delinquents to punishment, and to vindicate their just liberties and that Mr. Lenthal's words are an high reflection on the justice and proceedings of the lords and commons in their actings before 1648." -Chillingworth's Life, p. 341.

Clarendou's, Nalson's, and other histories, which call this war a rebellion, as also the form of prayer for the 29th of May, it is carefully to be remembered, were composed in the reign of Charles II. when the regal authority was carried to its utmost height; and the doctrines of passive-obedience and non-resistance were preached violently throughout the nation, when all in holy orders

were obliged to subscribe and declare, That it was not lawful upon ANY PRETENCE WHATSOEVER 6g use arms against the king: and when the two universities, the fountains of literature, had with the utmost solemnity affirmed and decreed, That kings derived not their power from the people, but from GOD, and that to him ALONE they are accountable: that it belongs not to subjects to create or to censure, but to honour and obey their SOVEREIGN; who comes to be so, by a fundamental hereditary right of succession, which no RELIGION, no LAW, no FAULT, NO FORFEITURE can alter or diminish: and that to assert it lawful to resist kings, is impious, seditious, scandalous, damnable, heretical, blasphemous, and infamous to the christian religion.-Address from Cambridge, 1681.-Oxford Decree, 1683.- If these principles indeed were true, the war waged by the parliament was undoubtedly a rebellion. But the wisdom of Providence quickly brought the nation to an acknowledgment that they were not true; and to an open, most solemn rejection and disavowal of them. A great part of the nobility, bishops, and gentry of the land invite a foreign prince, WILLIAM prince of Orange, to rescue it by force of arms from the tyranny of king James, and promise to assist him. Oxford now thinks that lawful and meritorious, yea, does the very thing, which five years before it had solemnly decreed impious, blasphemous, damnable, and heretical it invites the prince thither; assures him it would declare for him, and offers him their plate and the representatives of the whole kingdom, both nobles and commons, in an illustrious convention approve the taking arms against their sovereign when he became tyrannical; and declare, that by his refusing to rule according to the constitution, and going about to overthrow

« PoprzedniaDalej »