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Charles II page 2

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The commons voted the king seventy thousand pounds a month for present necessities, and then proceeded to pass not only the indemnity bill, but to vote the king a liberal and permanent revenue. In striking contrast to the early parliaments of his father, they at once gave him the tonnage and poundage for life. This was one of the chief causes of the quarrel betwixt Charles I. and his parliament, one of the main causes of the war and of his decapitation, which this complying parliament now yielded at once. They, moreover, ordered the disbanding of the army, of which Charles was afraid, and that the 29th of May should be kept as a day of perpetual thanksgiving to Providence, for having restored his sacred majesty to a grateful nation. All these favours to Charles they offered with the humility of men who were seeking favours for themselves, and being urged by Charles to settle the amount of his revenue altogether, they appointed a committee of inquiry on the subject, which decided that, as the income of his father had been about one million one hundred thousand pounds, his income should, considering the different value of money, be fixed at the unexampled sum of one million two hundred thousand pounds per annum. This income was to be settled by a bill in the next session.

The question of religion, and the question of forfeited property, whether belonging to the crown, the church, or individuals, was next brought on, and led to most stormy discussions. The result was, that two bills were passed, called the Bill of Sales and the Ministers' Bill. By the Bill of Sales all the crown lands were ordered to be restored forthwith; but the church lands were left in abeyance for the present; the lands of individuals were also deferred to a future session. The Ministers' Bill was intended to expel from the pulpits of the church all such ministers as had been installed there since the parliament came into power. It did not, however, give satisfaction to the church, for it admitted all such as entered on legally vacant livings at the time to retain them. A considerable number of presbyterian clergymen thus remained in possession, but the independents were thoroughly excited by a clause which provided that all ministers who had not been ordained by an ecclesiastic, who had interfered in the matter of infant baptism, or had been concerned in the trial of the king, or in its justification from press or pulpit, were excluded. Thus the royalists were incensed at the Bill of Sales, which they called an indemnity bill for the king's enemies, and of oblivion for his friends, and the clergy of the church were equally enraged to see a great number of livings still left to the presbyterians.

On the 13th of September Charles prorogued the parliament till the 6th of November, and promised during the recess to have what was called the "healing question of religion," that is the settlement of the church, discussed by competent parties, and to publish a declaration on the subject. Accordingly the presbyterians were very soon promised a meeting with some of the episcopalian clergy, and they were very willing, seeing that they could no longer have matters their own way in the church, to accept a platform of compromise laid down by archbishop Usher before his death, in which scheme the church was to be governed by a union of suffragan bishops and synods or presbyteries, so as to unite the two great sects. But the foremost prelates and clergy of the episcopalian church, who were resolved to have the whole state church to themselves, would listen to nothing so liberal or unorthodox. They refused to meet the presbyterian clergy, and therefore Charles summoned the leaders of that sect to meet some of his chief privy councillors and ministers, as well as various bishops, at Whitehall, where Baxter and Calamy again proposed Usher's scheme, which was as zealously rejected by the episcopalians. The presbyterians quoted the Eikon Basilike, to show that Charles I. was favourable to Usher's plan, but there Charles, who knew very well that the book was Dr. Gauder's, and not his father's, dryly remarked that all in that work was not gospel. But what proved a complete damper to all parties, was a proposal read by Clarendon as having the king's approbation, namely, that others, besides the two parties in question, should have full liberty for religious worship, and should not be disturbed by magistrate or peace officer, provided they themselves did not disturb the peace. This was at once felt to mean toleration to the catholics as well as the nonconformists, and was received with silent repugnance.

On the 25th of October was issued the promised declaration for healing the strife. It went to unite the presbyterian form of government with the episcopal. There were to be presbyteries and synods and no bishop was to ordain ministers or exercise the censures of the church without the advice and assistance of the presbyteries. Presbyters were to be elected deans and canons; a number of divines of each sect was to be chosen by the king to revise the liturgy, and all points of difference should be left unsettled till this revision was made; and no person should be molested on account of taking the sacrament standing or kneeling, for making the sign of the cross in baptism or not making, for bowing or not bowing at the name of Jesus, for wearing or not wearing the surplice. The presbyterians were delighted at the prospect thus afforded of free admission to good livings and dignities; but the episcopalians intended nothing less than that any such thing should ever come to pass.

With more earnest intention the government proceeded to judge the regicides, and soon stepped up to the knees in blood. On the 9th of October the trials commenced at the Old Bailey, before thirty-four commissioners appointed for the purpose. These were Sir Thomas Alleyn, lord mayor elect, lord chancellor Clarendon, the earl of Southampton, the duke of Somerset, the duke of Albemarle, the marquis of Ormond, the earls of Lindsay, Manchester, Dorset, Berkshire, Sandwich, late admiral Montague, the lords Saye and Sele, Roberts, and Finch, Sir Frederick Cornwallis, Sir Charles Berkeley, Denzell Hollis, Mr. Secretary Nicholas, Mr. Secretary Morrice, Sir Anthony Ashley Cooped, Arthur Aunesley, Esq., Mr. Justice Foster, Mr. Justice Mallet, Mr. Justice Hyde, Mr. Baron Atkins, Mr Justice Twisden, Mr Justice Tyrrel, Mr. Baron Turner, Sir Harbottle. Grimstone, Sir William Wild, recorder of London, Mr. Serjeant Brown, Mr. Serjeant Hale, and Mr. John Howel The counsel for the crown were Sir Geoffrey Palmer, attorney-general; Sir Heneage Finch, solicitor-general, Sir Edward Turner, attorney to the duke of York, serjeant Keeling, and Mr Wadham Windham.

Perhaps it would be impossible, in all the long history of oppressions, to point out a set of more objectionable judges. They consisted of the present king s ministers, the ordinary judges yet depending on the crown, and therefore not free from suspicion of bias, royalists, and of presbyterians who had been mortally opposed to the republican regicides, and who had all been grievously beaten and humiliated by them. Every evil passion was, therefore, let loose from the bench on the devoted prisoners, and the known expectation of the court was not, therefore, likely to be disappointed. That such men as Monk, who had continued Cromwell's right hand man to the last, Denzell Hollis, the earl of Manchester, Finch, Annesley, and Bridgman, Ashley Cooper, Saye and Sele, who had all been engaged in the war against Charles I., should be suffered to sit in judgment on their fellow revolutionists, was monstrous. True bills were found against nineteen of the prisoners, namely - Sir Hardress Waller, Harrison, Carew, Cook, Hugh Peters, Scott, Clement, Scrope, Jones, Hacker, Axtell, Heveningham, Marten, Millington, Tichbourn, Row, Kilburn, Harvey, Pennington, Smith, Downes, Potter, Garland, Fleetwood, Meyn, J. Temple, P. Temple, Hewlet, and Waite.

The first man tried was Waller, who pleaded guilty, and had his life spared; the second was Harrison, the late major- general. Harrison was a sincere and honest fifth-monarchy man. He conscientiously believed that Christianity required all governments to be carried on in the name and under the authority of the Saviour. He was not wrong in his doctrine, which all true Christians hold, but in his imagination that the world was a world capable of such a government for ages to come. He was an enthusiast, but no fool. On the contrary, he had on all occasions shown the perfect command which Christian principles had over his mind; and well would it have been for the world could it have adopted his faith. He had borne his decided testimony against Cromwell for his usurpation of the supreme authority, and had been imprisoned by him v for it. He now stood before the court with the simple and heroic dignity of a man who felt assured that his views were sound, and that his heart was upright before God. Hume, in describing this scene, says, "Can any one without concern for human blindness and ignorance, consider the demeanour of general Harrison when brought to his trial? With great courage and elevation of sentiment, he told the court that the pretended crime of which he stood accused, was not a deed done in a corner. The sound of it had gone forth to most nations; and in the singular and marvellous conduct of it, had chiefly appeared the sovereign power of heaven. That he himself, agitated by doubts, had often, with passionate tears, offered up his addresses to the Divine Majesty, and earnestly sought for light and conviction. He had still received the assurance of heavenly sanction, and returned from these devout supplications with more serious tranquillity and satisfaction. That all the nations of the earth were, in the eyes of their Creator, less than a drop in the bucket, nor were their erroneous judgments aught but' darkness compared with divine illuminations. That these frequent illapses of the Divine Spirit he could not suspect to be interested illusions, since he was conscious that for no temporal advantage would he offer injury to the poorest man or woman that trod the earth. That all the allurements of ambition, all the terrors of imprisonment, had not been able, during the usurpation of Cromwell, to shake his steady resolution, or bind him to a compliance with that deceitful tyrant. That when invited by him to sit on the right hand of the throne, when offered riches and' splendour and dominion, he had disdainfully rejected all temptations; and, neglecting the tears of his friends and family, had still, through every danger, held fast his principles and his integrity."

The blindness and ignorance our times will apply to the historian rather than to the prisoner. Harrison stood there the undaunted patriot, who had acted conscientiously, the result of sincere prayer and application to God. He had not done in a fit of enthusiasm what cooler moments had led him to repent. He retained the same conviction of his having done what was right, a conviction that we believe will be shared by a large majority who weigh that great action, its motives, its necessity, and its consequences. No accused patriot ever stood in a more noble and assured attitude than general Harrison, whose life had stamped the reality of Iiis arguments. He added, moreover, unanswerable reasons from the law of the case. He said, "I humbly conceive that what was done, was done in the name of the parliament of England; that what was done, was done by their power and authority; and I do humbly conceive it is my duty to offer unto you in the beginning, that this court, or any court below the High Court of Parliament, hath no jurisdiction of their actions."

But all argument was useless addressed to such ears. Sir Orlando Bridgman, chief baron of the exchequer, who had the chief management of the trials, told the grand jury in his charge that no authority whatever, either of a single person or of parliament, had any coercive power over the king. This man had received very different treatment under the protectorate. He had submitted to Cromwell, who had not only accepted his submission, but had allowed him privately to practice the law, and in this capacity he had acted as spy and agent for Cromwell. He continually interrupted Scott, Carew, and others, when they justified their conduct on the same ground of parliamentary sanction. The people, notwithstanding their late acclamations, could not help raising loud murmurs at these arbitrary interruptions. The prisoners defended themselves with calm intrepidity, and when Bridgman retorted on Carew that the parliament that, he talked of was the commons alone, a thing without precedent, Carew replied, "there never was such a war, or such a precedent;" and he boldly upbraided Bridgman with giving evidence as a witness whilst sitting as a judge. All these were condemned to death.

The clever and facetious Harry Marten made a most ingenious and persevering defence, and extremely puzzled the commissioners. He took exception to the indictment, declaring that he was not even mentioned in it. When he was shown the name Henry Marten, he objected that that was not his name, which was Harry Marten. This was overruled, but he went on to plead that the statute of Henry VIII. exempted from high treason any one acting under a king de facto, though he should not be king de jure; that the parliament at that time was the supreme power, including the functions of both king and parliament; that it was, in fact, the only authority there was in the country; and that it had from age to age been contended and admitted that God indicated the rightful power by giving it victory. Such was the authority that God at the time had set over them, and under that they had acted. His arguments were thrown away, and it was on this occasion that the story was first given in evidence by a soldier, of he and Cromwell, on the signing of the death warrant of the king, wiping their pens on each other's faces.

After a trial iö which every ingenious and valid plea was advanced by the prisoners to deaf ears, all were condemned to death, but ten only were at present executed - Harrison, Scott, Carew, Jones, Clement, Sorope, Coke, Axtell, Hacker, and Hugh Peters, Cromwell's chaplain. Peters, by his enthusiasm and wild eloquence, had undoubtedly roused the spirit of the parliamentarians, and especially of the army, but he had had no particular concern in the king's death, and had often exerted himself to obtain mercy and kind treatment not only for the king, but for suffering royalists. He declared on the trial that he had never been influenced by interest or malice in all that he had done. That he never received a farthing from Cromwell for his services, and that he had no hand in exciting the war, for he was abroad fourteen years, and found the war in full action on his return. Peters, whose character has been greatly maligned by the cavaliers and their historians, appears really to have been a sincere and upright patriot; but his pleas were as useless as those of all the others.

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