« PoprzedniaDalej »
HERE is no part of the English History, probably, which hath been so greatly misrepresented, or which is generally at present so litile understood, as the reign of the unhappy prince of which the following papers treat.
shall not here inquire into the cause of this ignorance, nor observe the hurtful effect it has bad upon society : how much it hath been abused to corrupt the principles of the people ; to inflame and pervert their passions, and to perpetuate animosities which every good Briton wishes to see eternally extinguished and forgot. Nor shall I make any apology for publishing this collection, though it may seem in some places to bear hard upon a royal character to which much incense has been offered up. Whatever sacredness there may may be in such exalted characters, the truth of history is more sacred : 'a reverence for this only, hath produced the following Essay; which is undertaken with a sincere desire of informing my fellow subjects as to the transactions of a reign which hath generally, not in private only, but in the most public and sacred places, been represented to the people in extremely fallacious colours. Too great complaisance to the errors of the past age, may be cruelty to the present; one principal use of history is to point out the misconducts and follies of former times, to serve as warnings and instructions to those who come after.
It was a saying worthy that glory of the Stuart family, and indeed of the British nation, Queen Mary II. When reflections were made in her presence upon the sharpness of some historians, who had left heavy impu
the memory of some princes, her majesty replied—“ If those princes were truly such as the bis
torians represented them, they had well deserved that treatment; and others who tread their steps must look for the same : for Truth would be told at last, and that with the more acrimony of style, for being so long restrained. It was a gentle suffering to be exposed to the world in their true colours, much below what others had suffered at their hands."
The method here taken will be thought, it is presumed, the most likely to come at the knowledge of the truth ; which is to call, as it were, a council of the most celebrated historians and writers of those times, and to give the reader the satisfaction of hearing them sland forth, and each in his own words pronouncing upon the case. That he may be able to judge of the weight of their several testimonies, and what credit they deserve, I shall give a succinct account of some of the cbief.
LORD CLARENDON was king Charles I.'s most intimate counsellor, favourite, and friend; who himself says, " that he first undertook the writing his history with the king's approbation, and by his encouragement, and FOR HIS VINDICATION :- That the king thanked him for it ; sent him his own memorials, or those which by his command had been kept, and were perused and corrected by himself; out of which memorials a consider. able part of his slordship’s] accounts are collected.”—Hist. Reb. Vol. iv.p. 627.-Vol. v. p. 70.—This then being the professed design, and these tbe sources of bis history, his lordship, to be sure, sets the actions of the king and the errors of his government in the most favourable light, and puts the softest constructions they could reasonably bear. When we are reading Clarendon's accounts ihen, we are to remember they are the accounts of a zealous advocate for the royal cause ; and yet from these we see enough to consider the reign of this unhappy prince as a most grievous tyranny and oppression.*
Waitelock was a person of great figure in those days, son of judge Whitelock; a commissioner of the
In the preface to the former editions of this work, Mr. Towgood, on some authorities quoted by Oldmixon, intiinated that Lord Clarendon's history lay under the suspicion of being softened and garbled in favour of the royal cause. This charge was believed by many persons to be well founded at the time this Essay was first published;
great seal, ambassador to the court of Sweden, a member of the long parliament, one of the commissioners both at the Oxford and Uxbridge treaties, a man of great knowledge as well as temper and moderation, and of chief influence in some of the principal transactions of those times. Lord Clarendon says of him, “That he had no inclination to the persons or principles of the chief actors against the king, and professed his detesta. tion of all the proceedings of that party; though he could not be persuaded to separate himself
from them, because all his estate lay in their quarters, and he had a nature that could not bear to submit to be undone.”—Hist. Reb. Vol. iv. p. 598.—He wrote a memorial, a kind of journal of the particular occurrences of this reign ; which is deservedly esteemed by all one of the most authentic and faithful accounts. And having no inclination either to the persons or principles of those whu opposed the KING, we may depend upon his accounts as not partial towards them.
Coke was an active partizan and apologist for the king; whose father (Sir Edward Coke) bore a great share in the transactions of this reign, was a member of the long parliament, was sequestered and imprisoned by them for not owning their power and paying their taxes; and who himself was an hearty favourer of the royal cause and a sufferer for it. He wrote a Detection of the Court and State of ENGLAND, &c.
Bishop BURNET was a inost faithful friend and brighi ornament of the established church, who con. tributed as much, perhaps, as any subject ever did to its preservation and support; whose name therefore will be ever precious to every genuine son of it. He was admitted into great intimacy, for a long course of years, with many of the prine managers of those times; and had singular opportunities of penetrating far into ibeir seciet counsels and designs. He wrote an History of his own time : and, with an appeal to the God of truth, professes to tell the truth as fully and freely as he was able to find it out.
but Dr. Johnson and others have since proved to the satisfaction of the world in general, as well as Mr. Towgood himself, that it was entirely groundless.- Manning's Sketch of low govd's Life and Wri lings, p. 41,--Johnson's Life of Smith.-Works, Vol. x. p. 23.
ARCHDEACON ECHARD, another historian often quoted in the ensuing tract, is a florid and prolix writer, not celebrated for his impartiality; a dignitary of the church, very warmly attached to it; a passionate ad. mirer and most zealous advocate of the king.
RAPIN was a foreign gentleman, a protestant of France, who having no immediate connection with any of our parties, was the better qualified to sustain the character of an impartial umpire betwixt them. After long study and application he wrote an History of EnGLAND, justly held in high esteem both by natives and foreigners. He professes a profound respect for the church of England, and communicated with it when resident here." . TINDALL, his Continuator, is a worthy clergyman, who al present does honour to the church, his history is wrote with a good degree of judgment, perspicuity, and impartiality, and will transmit his name with praise to distant posterity.
The History of England under the royal house of STUART I consider as a good collection of facis; and of great use to correct the errors and supply the defects of other historians, particularly Clarendon's and Echard's: though the author's zeal for the CONSTITUTION and against the invaders of it, may seem, perhaps, to break forth into too frequent and warm sallies. He was a member of the established church, and an hearty well-wisher to it. As was Wellwood also, a very learned and ingenious physician whose memoirs are here quoted.
Neal, Bennet, and Perce were divines of the separation, men of acknowledged merit, and of good learning and reputation. It is only the first of these, that any considerable use is made in the ensuing papers, whose History of the Puritans has been received with great esteem by the curious and ingenious of all denominations.
Having given this short account of the historians here summoned to assist our inquiries after a true idea of the character and reign of king CHARLES I. the seader is now left impartially to consider the evidence they give, and then to judge, as his own discernment shall direct, upon the point.
His Birth, natural Temper, Principles in which educated, Marriage, and Character of
TG CHARLES I. was born at Dumferling in Scotland, Anno 1600, and baptized by a Presbyterian minister of that country. In his youth he was of a weakly constitution and stammering speech, his legs somewhat crooked.”— Neal, Vol. 11. page 153.-" He was subject, says Archdeacon Echard, to several infirmities, accompanied with an apparent obstinacy in his temper, and was suspected to be somewhat perverse in his nature. The nurses and gentlemen who attended him could very rarely devise how to please him; of which his mother Queen Anne would often complain, calling him her perverse and obstinate son."--Echard, p. 417. Hist Stu. p. 15.
“ His temper was sullen, says Bishop Burnet even to a moroseness. This led him to a grave and reserved deportment, in which he forgot the civilities and the affability which the nation na