Imatges de pÓgina

during his trial; and they have been unavailingly urged as proofs of capacity, which the whole tenor of his conduct demonftrates that he did not poffefs. Good-nature bordering upon weakness; humanity allied to indolence; piety tinctured with fuperftition; and a defire feeble and inefficient to diffufe happinefs, were the virtues which muft be oppofed to his moral and mental defects; and had not the unexampled malignity of his deftiny forbidden, they would have unquestionably fufficed to have carried him through life with the reputation of a beneficent and virtuous monarch. His laft moments

were ennobled by the calmness of refignation, and an unaffected dif play of firmnefs and fortitude. We are told of him, that he was highly offended at the freedom with which the famous work of the abbé Raynai was written. The republic of Geneva was folicited to prohibit the publication; the parliament of Paris received an injunction to fulminate their judicial, and the Sorbonne their theological cenfures against it. Rayna's work, neverthelefs, ftill exifts to inform and enlighten the world; but the Genevan republic, the parliament, the Sorbonne, and Louis XVI. are no more!"


[From the First Volume of the HISTORY of SCOTLAND, from the UNION of the CROWNS, on the ACCESSION of JAMES VI. to the Throne of England, to the Union of the Kingdoms in the Reign of QUEEN ANNE. By MALCOLM LAING, Efq.]


IS preparations for death were affifted by Juxon; but the confolations of religion, or of philofophy, are of little avail without native fortitude and energy of mind. Confcious worth can fupport the virtuous, an exalted rank or confpicuous ftation has infpired the most diffolute with contempt of death. But the fortitude of Charles

was derived from no external, adventitious circumstances. That cold referve and inflexible obfti nacy which diftinguished his cha racter, affumed a fublimer afpect of chaftened and tranquil magnanimity in the last eventful period of his reign and life. He was lodged at St. James'*; and the front of Whitehall was felected for his ex

"That his flumbers were disturbed each night by the noife of erecting his fcaffold, is an injudicious fiction, first is vented by Clement Walker to aggravate the deed. Her bert attended the king's perfon, and flept in his chamber, from the beginning of his trial to the last hour of his life. But that Hume should affert, on fuch authority as Clement Walker, (Hift. of Independency,) a fact contradicted by every other hiftorian, is the lefs furprising, as Herbert's Memoirs lay open before him, and from the copy in the Advocates' Library, now in my hands, appear to be marked with his pencil at the very paffage (p. 117.) which men ions that the king was removed, two hours after his trial, from Whitehall to St. James'. But on this occafion Hume write too much for dramatic effect."


public view, and exclaiming, This is the head of a traitor, the acclamations of the foldiers were intermixed with the convulfive fobs and lamentations of the fpectators, who rushed forward to receive and preferve the blood of their martyred king.

ecution, that the scene of his paft magnificence might become a monument of popular justice to record his fate. On the morning of his execution, he arofe at an early hour, after a quiet, undisturbed repofe, and bestowed on his dress an attention which his forrows had lang neglected. His devotions were concluded with the eucharift: and when the hour approached, he was conducted on foot through the Park, which was lined with guards, to Whitehall, where an apartment was prepared for his reception. After a fhort and flight refreshment, he afcended the fcaffold, and without emotion furveyed the awful preparations for death, the cushion, the block, the axe, together with two executioners difguifed in vizors. The fcaffold was furrounded with troops beneath. Defpairing of being heard by the remote fpectators, he addreffed his difcourfe to the officers and attendants; protested that the war on his part was ftrictly defenfive; without accufing parliament, blamed the unhappy intervention of wicked inftruments; confeffed that he fuffered a merited retribution for his affent to an unjuft fentence against. his friend; and, in pronouncing the last, most difficult leflon of Chriftian forgivenefs, admonished the people to return to the paths of fubmiffive loyalty, and acknowledge his fon for their lawful fovereign. At the fuggeftion of Juxon, he attefted his dying, unfeigned attachnent to the English church. Then, when his neck was adjusted to the block, he stretched forth his hands, after a fhort prayer, as the appointed fignal for the axe to defcend. His head was diffevered from his body, at a single stroke, by the man in the maik. The other executioner expofed the bleeding head to

"Such was the tragical fate of the fecond fovereign of the house of Stewart, who perihed, within fixty-two years, on the fcaffold in England. He foffered in the fortyninth year of his age, and the twenty-fourth of his reign. From a fickly and froward infancy, he had acquired a robust conftitution in manhood, capable of enduring hardships and fatigue, and well. adapted to the violent exercifes in which he excelled. His perfon was neither tall nor corpulent, but vigorous, compact, and exactly proportioned. His features were regular; his eye quick and penetrating; his afpeét pale and melancholy; not unpleafing to his friends, but to. ftrangers expreffive of a forbidding referve. The undecayed and healthful appearance of the vitals, when his body was opened, indicated a found and well organised frame, naturally deftined for an extreme old age. His body was privately interred at Windfor; but after a flight, ineffectual fearch, on the restoration of his fon, his remains were defrauded of a royal funeral. That men expired of grief at his execution, or funk for life into a lethargic melancholy; that women parted with the untimely fruit of their womb, must be claffed among the marvellous exaggerations of a great event. But his death was productive of confequences very different from thofe which his enemies expected. Inftead of diffufing an abhorrence of monarchy, the execution, of their native,


native, hereditary fovereign awak-. ened in the people all the latent emotions of the human foul. Sympathy, the offspring of the imagination and the heart, is moft powerfully moved by the examples of illuftrious woe. Not all the innocent blood, fo profufely fhed during the courfe of the civil wars, excited fuch univerfal commiferation and fympathy as the execution of Charles. Had he been permitted to remain a prifoner, or to wander an exile among foreigners, from court to court, his character might have funk infenfibly with his miffortunes, from the lawful prince, to the pretender whofe abfolete claims are regarded as hoftile to the interefts of the ftate. But the people forgot his errors, and their own fufferings, in the contemplation of his fate; and there was no caufe that contributed more than his untimely and violent death, to the tranfient restoration and reign of his fans.

His character is more difficult to eftimate, as it has been loaded with unmerited crimes by his enemies, and overcharged with virtues by the partiality of his friends. Temperate, chafte, and exemplary in his conduct, grave and dignified in his deportment, in his converfation ftrictly obfervant of decorum, he was diligent in the performance of every act of devotion, exact in the difcharge of every moral duty incumbent on a father, a husband, or a friend. If infenfible to the feelings of refined humanity, his heart was not infufceptible of a tender affection and permanent friendfhip. His mind was naturally acute and folid; cool and intrepid in danger, on great occafions magnanimous and equal; endued with a cultivated and maguificent tafte, nor defective in thofe meaner, ornamental quali

ties which adorn a throne. The virtues of private life were undoubtedly his; but when we reverfe the portrait, fuch were the oppofite imperfections of his character, that thofe virtues were unprofitable to the public, and not unfrequently pernicious to himfelf. His religion was fuperftitious, intolerant, and replete with bigotry: his dignity, fpercilious and feldom affable, betrayed an harth and repulfive pride. His ear was open to fufpicion, nor inacceffible to flattery: his conjugal affection was uxorious in the extreme: his manners, although he was feldoin generous, were equally ungracious, whether he granted or refufed a request. Tenacious of his purpose, inflexible and obftinate in the profecution of his objects, but inconfiderate, rafh, and easily perfuaded to the choice or alteration of the means, his mind was unduly elevated by profperity, though never equally overwhelmed by adverse fortune. His humanity is impeached by thofe barbarous punishments inflicted by the Starchamber; for the monarch who tolerates the cruelties of his judges, which are never inflicted unless when acceptable, becomes refponfible for their crimes. But the ruling paffion, or rather the uniform principle of his whole life, was the defire of an inordinate power, which he refufed to fhare unless with the prelates, and which he could neither enjoy with moderation nor confent to refign.

"Sincerity was certainly no part of his character; but his infincerity was rather that of a priest who provides fome previous refervation to evade, than of a prince who perfidiously violates, the obligation which he contemus. A fubtle and profeffed cafuift, he was enabled to reconcile the most disingenuouspre

the neceffity of felf-defence, while the English were gradually familiarized and habituated to the ideas of resistance. His fubfequent conduct contains an internal proof, that his conceffions to the latter were meant to be refumed, and their parliament to be reduced by force of arms; and from the fame motive, every accommodation was declined or disappointed during the flattering profpect of a fuccefsful war. But the immediate cause of his deftruction, and undoubtedly one of the most exceptionable parts of his conduct, was his engagement with the Scots for the renewal of the civil wars, during a treaty with parliament; and when we confider how fhort is the distance between the prifon and the grave of kings, that their enemies are ever prone to retaliate thofe fevere conditions under which they fought themfelves, it must appear far lefs furprifing that he perifhed on a fcaffeld, than that he furvived fo long. The right of punishment feems to be implied in refiftance; for it is difficult to conceive by what argument refiftance can be justified, if it is forbidden to chaftife, or prevent the refumption of an arbitrary power. But obedience to government is the general rule; refistance is an exception which rarely occurs; and for what purpose inculcate the exception, to which mankind are fufficiently addicted, in preference to the rule on which our fecurity depends? To relift the encroachments, to correct the mifconduct, to revoke the delegated powers of their magiftrates, are doctrines not lefs dangerous perhaps for a government to tolerate, than for the people to forget. If never inculcated, the exception is foon forgotten, and fociety finks at laft into a state of tame fervility from B 4 which

proteftations to his own confcience, and, without an abfolute breach of veracity, ftudied by verbal evafions to deceive his enemies, and by mental equivocation to deceive himfelf. It is not fufficient to affirm, that the difficulties of his fituation, his own imprudence, or even the utmost malignity of fortune, occafioned the great and almoft unexampled calamities of his reign. We must add, that the early and repeated inftances of his infincerity, which we have occafionally defcribed, had created fuch a firm belief of his diffimulation, that the popular leaders, from a well-founded diftruft of his ambiguous declarations, were ever afraid to treat, unlefs on their own terms, to which he was unwilling or unable to accede. The evidence refulting from his confidential letters, where the proofs of a difingenuous mind can alone be found, is induftriously fuppreffed by thofe partial hiftorians, who afferting the unblemished integrity of his character, take no note of the principal caufe of his misfortunes and death. That his condemnation was unjust, that he fuffered from a violent and ufurped authority, has never been difputed, unless by zealots; but when examined in a moral or political view, bis conduct is not fufceptible of an eafy vindication. Whether his exalted ideas of the prerogative in England were derived from eftablifhed, or irregular precedents of an unfettled conftitution, is an inquiry foreign to the defign of this hiftory: but his religious innovations, the fole object of his reign in Scotland, were introduced by a confcious violation of the laws, and a direct invafion of the legislative power. The facility with which he commenced hoftilities against his fubjects, reduced the Scots to


which there is no regeneration. The arbitrary reign of Charles would have been prolonged by his fons, and the two kingdoms, oppreffed and converted by a popifh fucceffor, might have inquired at prefent, as a fubject of curious but filent fpeculation, what were the religion or liberties which their ancestors enjoyed.

"But whatever were the faults or imperfections of Charles, his misfortunes were great and unparalleled till of late, except in the eventful destiny of the houfe of Stewart. Hiftorians have truly obferved, that of ten generations of kings, his father, and the first prince of his race, were the only two who efcaped a violent or untimely death. Robert II. the first of the Stewarts, expired of old age; Robert III. of a broken heart at the murder of one fon, and the captivity of another. James I. returned from a long captivity, to perifh in a few years by the hands of affaffins. His fon was killed at the fiege of Roxburgh, his grandfon by his rebellious fubjects. James IV.

expiated his father's death at the battle of Flodden, and James V. died of indignation and grief. The misfortunes or crimes of his daughter, the beautiful and accomplished Mary, have furnished almost every art with a theme of hiftorical or romantic diftrefs; and when she fuffered on the scaffold, her vindictive rival fuggefted unconfcioutly the fatal precedent for the trial of her grandson, and the execution of a king. James VI. experienced a natural death, but the calamities of the family feemed to be accumulated on Charles. His fifter's children were expelled from their paternal dominions. His nephew, the elec tor palatine, fubfifted on the bounty of parliament; and by a final reverfe of fortune, his pofterity, after a fhort reftoration, has fuffered a fecond exile; the laft prince of hisce has obtained a precarious retreat in the Romish church, while the defcendants of his fifter, by a female branch, have been raifed to the fecure poffeffion of the throne from which his fon was expelled."


[From the fame Work.]


HILE the arms of Crom- length difcovered, that guilty ambiwell were triumphant tion, even when moft fuccessful, is abroad, while his name was dread- never inacceffible to remorse and ed, and his friendship folicited by fear. His mind was oppreffed with the greatest potentates, his govern- the dangers and cares of state. The ment was distracted by the confpi- appearance of a stranger filled him racies of every party at home. His with alarm, and he fcrutinized his perfon was expofed to affaffination looks with an inquifitive and from his own foldiers. His con- apprehenfive eye. Arms and confcience was awakened by the death, cealed armour, which he daily or the dying reproaches, of his fa- wore, were infufficient for his prevourite daughter: and the tyrant at fervation, and he never stirred abroad

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