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he had.

He being returned after supper, Cicely also being present, John
Ellgood set forth to him what I have written down above, and this
also, that there were many of the same way of thinking with himself,
and that they purposed to assemble in London so that they might be in
readiness against whatever might happen, watching above all things for
some occasion to save the King out of the hands of his enemies. When
he had ended Master Ellgood the elder said:

"I had hoped that you had done with strife. Yet I would not say a word
to keep you back. I hold not, indeed, with them who say that a king
can do no wrong, and that we be bound to yield him obedience in all
things without question. That we may lawfully restrain him by force
from breaking down our liberties I do heartily believe, but I am
persuaded that we cannot rightfully bring him to judgment; for,
indeed, what authority is there that is competent for such things?
And, again, shall there be no end to the shedding of blood? If this,
indeed, be done 'twill do more damage to true liberty than the King's
victory had done. Therefore, John, I bid you God's speed on your
errand; and you, too, Philip, if you are minded to go with him."

Thereat I, sitting, as was my wont, by Cicely, and holding her hand in
mine, felt it tighten upon mine; and looking at her, I saw her flush
and grow pale, as was her wont when she was much moved.

"Nor would I stay you," she whispered, "though I, too, had hoped that
all these things were finished and done with."

It was concluded, therefore, that night that we should go; but that
there was no present need to depart. But it was needful that I should
go for awhile to my brother at Enstone, and this without delay, and
returned to Master Ellgood's home about the twentieth of November.
Then again eight days after we set out for London and came thither on
the second day of December, and found a lodging with my kinsman
Rushworth, of whom I have written in the relation of my school days.
The next day, being Sunday, we worshipped at the chapel of the Savoy,
where Dr. Thomas Fuller preached the sermon; a most learned, witty,
and eloquent discourse, and marvellously bold - the condition of the
kingdom, wherein the King's enemies were supreme, being considered.
His text was 1 Samuel xv. 22. "_For rebellion is as the sin of
witchcraft_;" which he enforced with much plainness of speech, so
that I marvelled that he was neither presently hindered from speaking
nor afterwards visited. But the good Doctor is no respecter of
persons, for did he not, being appointed preacher by the Parliament,
discourse before them on these words (spoken by Mephibosheth to David
concerning Ziba): "_Yea let him take all, so that my lord the King
come again in peace_," to their no small discontent?

The day following we went to the House of Commons, being bestowed by
favour of one of the ushers under one of the galleries. 'Tis a noble
chamber, and the circumstances of the assembly, the Speaker, for
example, with his mace, majestic; but itself, methinks, scarce a match
in dignity for its surroundings, the members sitting for the most part
as if they cared nought for that which was being done, so loudly did
they talk with each other and laugh; but if one of greater note rose
to speak there was straightway silence. As for us, we listened with
all our ears, and that for many hours, for the House, meeting at ten
of the clock in the fore-noon, prolonged its sitting till nine of the
clock in the morning of the day following, nor did we, save for
refreshment's sake for a few minutes, leave our place. It was a
marvellous strange scene, for sometimes it would seem as if all the
House were asleep, some one speaking of whom none took any heed; then
again there would be almost a tumult, angry crying out and stamping
with the feet, so that one had almost thought the members ready to fly
at each other's throats. And above the great torches flared, making a
mighty smoke and heat, so that though the air outside was cold and
frosty, within the heat was like to suffocate. At the last, all being
wearied out (and some of the older sort had been long asleep), the
House came to a division, the question being one that touched the late
conferences with the King, and the resolution to be determined being
this: "That the King's concessions to the Parliament are sufficient
grounds for settling the peace of the kingdom." And this resolution
was carried by the majority of voices, the Ayes being one hundred and
twenty, and the Noes fifty.

Thereupon we went to our lodging with great joy, and found Master
Rushworth waiting for us, who somewhat dashed our spirits.

"Ah!" said he, "'twould be well if the Parliament were our masters;
but 'tis not so. The power is not in Mr. Speaker's mace, but in the
Lord General's sword, or, rather, for 'tis said that the Lord
General's day is past, with Master Cromwell and his colonels. I little
thought that I should ever desire more power for the Parliament; yet
so I do, for verily the Army will be a worse master."

The next day we were again early at the House, and Master Usher, who
seemed to have some knowledge beforehand of what should happen, put us
in a place in the lobby. We noted coming in that the guards of the
Houses had been changed; for, whereas on the day before there had
stood about the doors and passages the City Trainbands, very gaily
accoutred, with their clothes and arms bearing no stain of war, there
were now in their place two regiments of soldiers, that were
manifestly veterans of many campaigns.

And now we, standing behind in the shadow, for we did not desire to be
espied, see some soldiers by the place of entering into the House of
Commons, one of them, who seemed to be in command, having a paper in
his hand.

"Mark you that man," whispered the Usher in my ear; "'tis Colonel
Pride. Be sure that he has not come for nought."

And indeed it was so, for so soon as a member came to the door the
said Colonel would turn round; now to a gentleman that stood by his
side (whom I understood to be my Lord Grey of Groby), and now to one
of the doorkeepers, and would ask his name, and if he were on the
list, then he seized upon him and delivered him to one of the
soldiers, who led him off. All save one departed quietly; and he, whom
I knew to be Master William Prynne, one of the visitors that had come
from the Parliament to Oxford, made as if he would have drawn his
sword; thereupon the Colonel called for a guard of soldiers (and
indeed both the Court of Requests and the stairs, and the lobby were
filled with them), at the sight of whom Master Prynne yielded himself
quietly. We saw thus seized by Colonel Pride and his soldiers forty
and one members. Thus we were persuaded that nothing was to be hoped
in the King's favour from the Parliament, were their will ever so
good. Thereafter, indeed, all that had been zealous for a
reconciliation being, as the extreme men were pleased to say, purged
from the House, it voted nothing but what was agreeable to the will of
the Army.

I shall not here set down in particular how we employed ourselves
during the month that now followed, not knowing but what this writing
may fall into unfriendly hands, for though I am not careful to conceal
my own opinions and actions, I should be loath to entangle others in
my dangers. Let it suffice then to say that we busied ourselves in
devising means by which we might deliver the King out of the hands of
his enemies, and that in so doing we both found help where we looked
not for it, and found it not where we had most expected it. For some
that were imagined to be the King's enemies were now earnest on his
behalf, and some that professed themselves to be his friends were
lukewarm, ay, and worse. Meanwhile we were diligent in attending at
the debates of the Commons' House, though, indeed, there was but
little debating when a man might lose his liberty for any freedom of
speech; and so watched without ceasing for what turn matters should



On the twenty-eighth day of December, we, being according to our wont
in the Commons' House, heard read the report of a Committee to which
had been committed the matter of the King's trial. It ran thus, to put
it in a few words, that "Charles Stuart" (for so they entitled his
gracious Majesty) "had acted contrary to his trust in setting up his
standard and making war against the Parliament;" and this report was
debated on the day following, and it was resolved that he should be
tried on this same charge, and to the same Committee was given the
business of choosing who should be his judges.

This same day there happened a thing which showed of how resolute and
fierce a temper were they who had the chief power at this time. We had
had some converse with one Pitcher, that had been a major in the
King's army and was then lying hid in London, being intent indeed on
the same business with which we were occupied. We counselled him to
depart, for indeed his life was already forfeit. He had been in the
King's garrison at Worcester, and had engaged not to bear arms any
more against the Parliament. Nevertheless, he had been found in arms
in the late fighting at Pembroke. And having been yet again spared on
condition that he should depart from this realm, nor return thither
for the space of two years without leave first had, he still delayed
in London. I told him that it was a desperate matter, and that he had
best depart; but he was obstinate to remain. "Nay," said he, "who can
say what will happen in the space of two years, even to the doing of
his gracious Majesty to death? There I can avail nothing; here,
perchance, I may do some good. Though it may be but the thousandth
part of a chance, I will even risk my life upon it." And this he did,
even to the losing of it. How it fell out I know not, whether one that
saw him at Worcester or Pembroke knew him again, or whether he
betrayed himself - for he was ever bold, even to rashness, in his
speech - but 'tis certain he was taken at a tavern in Westminster, and
the next day shot in St. Paul's Churchyard. I cannot name them that
did it; but it was proof, if indeed proof were needed, that they who
sought to help the King carried their lives in their hands.

On the first day of January the Commons' House voted that the King had
been guilty of high treason in levying war against the Parliament.

The same night John Ellgood and I, walking near to Charing Cross, saw
a mighty strange sight which was as a comedy in the midst of a
tragedy. There met us a company of soldiers, and with them a whole
_posse_ of players, habited in their robes, as kings, and judges,
and queens, and as the other characters that are wont to be seen upon
the stage. We heard that the Lord General had commanded this to be
done, and that the players still performing their plays against the
ordinance of Parliament, the soldiers had taken them as they were from
Drury Lane and Salisbury Court.

On the fourth day of January, the Lords having rejected the ordinance
concerning the trial of the King, the Commons declared that whatsoever
was passed by them had the force of law, and this they did without any
man saying "Nay!"

On the ninth day of the same month we, being in Westminster Hall (for
we were always intent to see and hear what might happen), saw the
Serjeant-at-Arms, bearing the mace upon his shoulder, having certain
officers with him and six trumpeters, and a guard of horse and foot,
ride into Westminster Hall and there proclaim, "If any man has aught
against Charles Stuart, King of England, let him come before the
Commissioners appointed for the trial of the said Charles Stuart at
this time to-morrow and make it known."

At length, on the nineteenth day of January, the trial was indeed
begun, taking place in Westminster Hall, at the upper end, where the
Courts of Chancery and King's Bench were wont to be held, the two
courts being thrown into one for the greater convenience of the
numbers that were likely to be assembled. And on this same day of the
month they brought His Majesty from Windsor to the Palace of St.
James, guarding him with no small care against a rescue, which,
indeed, they had no small reason to fear.

It was permitted to all to enter the place of sitting, but the Hall
and all the approaches thereto were very strongly kept with soldiers.
John Ellgood and I attended this day and daily afterwards, having
short swords and pistols under our cloaks, that we might be ready for
any occasion that might arise; but our hopes were daily diminished,
for though there were many that misliked the whole business, the dread
of the army was upon them, and they dared not so much as stir a
finger. Nevertheless, when men were content to sit in silence, yet
there was a woman that had courage to speak out her mind, for when the
list of Commissioners was read aloud, and the Crier gave forth the
name of Thomas Lord Fairfax, being next after the name of the
President of the Court, there was heard a voice, "He has more wit than
to be here;" and, afterwards, when (the impeachment being read aloud)
the reader pronounced the words - "by the authority of Parliament and
of all the good people of England," the same voice spake again, "No,
nor the hundredth part of them." Thereupon there was no small
confusion; and it has been said by some that the officer of the guard
commanded his men that they should fire upon the place from which this
voice proceeded. But I heard no such order given, nor do I believe it;
for who would dare thus to imperil the innocent along with the guilty?
It was the Lady Fairfax, wife to the Lord General, that thus cried
out. She was of the lineage of the Veres, an ancient house to whose
honour her behaviour was conformable.

The next day the King was brought before the Court, and I, who had not
seen him for nigh upon three years, noted that his aspect was somewhat
changed, as, indeed, it might well be with his troubles. There was set
for him a chair of crimson velvet, behind which there stood some
thirty men, carrying halberds. The judges, of whom there were present
some sixty (which was not the half of them that had been first named),
sat in hat and cloak, the President wearing black. The King came in
very stately, not moving his hat to the judges, but looking on them
and on the spectators with a stern regard. Then, the crier having
proclaimed silence, the President said:

"Charles Stuart, King of England, the Commons of England, being deeply
sensible of the calamities that have been brought upon this nation,
which are fixed upon you as the principal author of them, have
resolved to make inquisition for blood;" and more to the same effect.

When the President had made an end, Master Coke, that was Solicitor
for the Commonwealth, standing with two others upon the King's right
hand, offered to speak. But the King, having a staff in his hand, laid
it lightly upon his shoulder, as if he would bid him stay. This he did
twice, and the second time the gold head of the staff dropped off, at
which it was noted by some that were in the Court that the King
manifestly changed colour.

Then the President ordered Master Solicitor to proceed, who said: "My
Lord, I am come to charge Charles Stuart, King of England, in the name
of the Commonwealth, and desire that the charge may be read," and so
gave it to the Clerk. Thereat the King cried, "Hold;" nevertheless,
the Clerk continuing to read, he sat down and so remained silent, till
about the end, when he smiled, but looking very stern and severe. When
the hearing was ended, the President said:

"Sir, the Court expects that you will make an answer to this charge."

Thereat the King answered: "I would know by what authority I am
brought hither?"

PRESIDENT: "By authority of the people of England, whose elected King
you are."

THE KING: "The kingdom of England has never been elective, but
hereditary for near these two thousand years. I stand here more for
the liberty of my people than do my pretended judges."

PRESIDENT: "'Tis well known how you have misused this trust. The Court
must proceed."

THE KING: "I do not come as submitting to this Court. I was brought
here by force. I see no House of Lords here; nor can there be a
Parliament without a King."

Many times did the President command him to answer, and he refused,
saying that he should betray his trust in so doing. Thereupon he was
remanded to St. James' Palace. As he went he pointed to the sword,
which, with the mace, lay upon the table, and said, "I fear not that."
There was a great shout as he walked down the Hall: "God save the
King," and another, but not so loud, of "Justice, justice!" It is
tedious to tell all that passed between the President and the King on
the days following. Indeed, it was ever the same, the President
desiring that the King should plead, and affirming that no prisoner
could be suffered to deny the authority of the Court by which he was
tried, and the King, on the other hand, being resolute to deny that he
could be lawfully judged by them that pretended to do so. And this
contention endured throughout three days. All that were present noted
that the King, who commonly had a certain hesitancy in his speech, now
spake with as much freedom as could be desired. At the last the
President said:

"Sir, this is the third time that you have publicly disowned this
Court, and put an affront upon it; how far you have preserved the
privileges of the people, your actions have spoken it; and truly, Sir,
men's intentions ought to be known by their actions; you have written
your meaning in bloody characters throughout the whole kingdom. But,
Sir, you understand the pleasure of the Court. Clerk, record the
default; and, gentlemen, you that took charge of the prisoner, take
him back again."

THE KING: "I will say this one word more to you; if it were my own
particular, I would not say any more, nor interrupt you."

PRESIDENT: "Sir, you have heard the pleasure of the Court, and you are
(notwithstanding you will not understand it) to find that you are
before a court of justice."

On the fifth day of the trial, so called, and on the day following,
the Court sat not in Westminster Hall, as before, but in the Painted
Chamber, where they heard witnesses. John Ellgood and I were not
present, access to the chamber not being so ready as to the Hall, but
we heard that witnesses, two score and more in number, of all ranks
and conditions, were examined, and testified to certain acts of war on
the part of the King, beginning with the setting up of his standard at
Nottingham, and proceeding through all parts of the late war. All
this, methinks, was matter of common notoriety, and might conveniently
have been spared.

On the seventh day of the trial, being the twenty-seventh of January,
we were betimes in the Hall, which was crowded beyond all that had
been before, all being now convinced that this great tragedy was
drawing to an end. The President was in scarlet, having before been
habited in black. His Majesty came in, covered as before, whereat some
of the soldiers that were set on guard cried, "Justice! Execution!" He

"I desire a word to be heard, and I hope I shall give no occasion of

PRESIDENT: "You may answer in your time. Hear the Court first."

THE KING: "I desire to be heard, and 'tis only a word. A hasty
judgment is not so soon recalled."

PRESIDENT: "You shall be heard before judgment is given."

[Illustration: _Trial of the King._]

The President then declared that the Court, having considered the
crimes laid to the charge of the prisoner, and found them to be
proved, were agreed upon a sentence to be pronounced against him. But
in respect that he doth desire to be heard before sentence be read and
pronounced, the Court had resolved that they will hear him. Then,
turning to the King, he said, "If that which you say be to question
the Court's jurisdiction, you shall not be heard in it. But if you
have anything to say in defence of the thing charged, the Court has
given me a command to let you know they will hear you."

THE KING: "This many a day all things have been taken away from me,
but that which is dearer to me than my life, which is my conscience
and my honour. If I had respect to my life more than the peace of the
kingdom, and the liberty of the subject, certainly I should have made
a particular defence for myself."

After this he went on to ask that he might be permitted to say
something to the Lords and Commons assembled in the Painted Chamber,
to whom, he said, he had somewhat of no small import to say.

The Court withdrew to consider this, but returning in half-an-hour's
time, the President said, "'Tis an excellent maxim in law 'Nulli
negabimus, nulli vendemus, nulli deferemus justitiam.' There must be
no more delay with you, Sir. We are now to proceed to sentence and

After more disputing of the same sort the President commanded silence.
Which done, the Clerk read the sentence, which was: "Whereas the
Commons of England have appointed a Court for the trial of Charles
Stuart, King of England, and whereas a charge of high treason and
other crimes was read, the Court doth adjudge that the said Charles
Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and a public enemy, shall be
put to death by the severing of his head from his body."

All the Court stood up to signify their assent.

THE KING: "Will you hear me a word, Sir?"

PRESIDENT: "Sir, you are not to be heard after sentence."

KING: "No, Sir?"

PRESIDENT: "No, Sir; by your favour, Sir. Guard, withdraw your

KING: "By your favour, Sir, hold the sentence."

But when nothing availed he said: "I am not suffered to speak. Expect
what justice other people will have."

While His Majesty was being taken away by the guards, as he passed
down the stairs, the soldiers scoffed at him, casting the smoke of
their tobacco, which was very distasteful unto him, and blowing their
pipes in his way; and as he passed there were some who cried,
"Justice, justice!" to whom he said, "Poor soldiers, for a piece of
money they would do so for their commanders." But all the soldiers,
though they had the Parliament's pay, were not so minded; for one of
them cried - but whether this day or another I know not - "God bless the
King," and when his officer struck him with a cane, the King said,
"Methinks the punishment is greater than the offence."



The sentence of death on the King I had looked for, but that it would
indeed be executed I could not believe. But when I said so much to
John Ellgood I found that he thought otherwise.

"Philip," said he, "I have seen more of these men than you. Of those
who stood in arms against the King many desire nothing more than to
protect the liberties of this realm against him, or, if you would
rather have it so, against his ill-counsellors. These at the first
prevailed; but 'tis otherwise now. In civil troubles the more violent
ever gain the upper hand. What befell the more moderate sort we saw
with our own eyes when Colonel Pride and his men laid violent hands
upon some fifty members of the House of Commons. They that now bear
rule, of whom the Lieutenant-General Cromwell is the chief, are
resolved to have no truce with kingship. Whether they seek the good of
their country or their own aggrandisement I know not, but so it is.
And they know full well that after the King's death, of truce or peace
there can be no more talk. On this, therefore, they are steadfastly

"But the kings," I said, "the kings of France and Spain, will they
suffer it?"

"I doubt," answered he, "whether they would so much as stir a finger
to hinder it. But whether they would or no, there will be no time or
space of action. Be sure that execution will follow sentence right

And so indeed it was. Before three days had passed since the
pronouncing of the sentence, 'twas all finished. Of the kings, too,
John Ellgood spake but too truly. Their ambassadors said not a word to
hinder the King's death. Indeed, the only word of remonstrance came,
not from a king, but from a republic, the States of the Dutch being,
by their envoy, very earnest with the Parliament that they should not
take the King's life.

As for our hopes of delivering His Majesty by force of arms or
stratagem, they were at an end, so closely and strongly was the King
guarded. Yet were we loath to depart, hoping even against hope to the
very end that the people, ay, and the very soldiers, might rise

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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchWith the King at Oxford → online text (page 11 of 14)