Alfred John Church.

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against this monstrous deed.

Of that which I shall now write down, part I heard from the lips of
Sir Thomas Herbert, who was gentleman of the body to the King, and
indeed had been so from his first surrender by the Scots, and partly
from a certain Doctor Farrer, a physician who stood very near to the

This is the narration of Sir Thomas Herbert:

"For awhile after the King came to London he dined publicly in the
Presence Chamber, and was served after the usual state - the carver,
server, cup-bearer, and gentleman-usher attending and doing their
offices - being given on the bended knee. But this was changed by
command of the generals, and thereafter the dishes were brought up by
soldiers; the cup was no longer given upon the knee. At first His
Majesty was much discomposed, saying that no king had ever wanted such
observance, and asking, 'Is there anything more contemptible than a
despised prince?' But his remedy was to restrict his diet to as few
dishes as possible, and to eat in private.

"Of the trial, if that mockery of justice may be so called, there is
no need for me to speak. You yourselves saw it. You would hear of His
Majesty's behaviour in private. On the day when sentence was
pronounced, in the evening, the King gave me a ring from his finger
('twas an emerald set between two diamonds), and bade me go with it to
a lady living in King Street, in Westminster (that I knew afterwards
to be the King's laundress), and give it to her without saying
anything. Being arrived at the lady's house I delivered her the ring.
She took me into a parlour and there left me, and in a short while
returned with a little cabinet that was closed with three seals. The
next day, after prayers, which the Bishop had daily with the King, His
Majesty broke the seals open and showed us what was contained in it;
there were diamonds and jewels, for the most part broken Georges and
Garters. 'You see,' said he, 'all the wealth now in my power to give
to my two children.'

"The next day, being the twenty-ninth day of January, came the
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Gloucester her brother, to take
farewell of the King their father, and to ask his blessing. The
Princess, being the elder, was most sensible of her father's
condition, as appeared by her sorrowful look and excessive weeping;
and her little brother, seeing his sister weep, took the like
impression. The King took them both upon his knees, and gave them his
blessing, and admonished them of their duty to the Prince his
successor and to their other relations. Then he gave them all the
jewels, save the George that he wore, which was cut in an onyx with
great curiosity, and was set about with twenty fair diamonds, and the
like number on the reverse.

"That same day the Bishop of London preached before the King, taking
for his text, Romans ii. 16: '_Of that day when God shall judge the
secrets of men by Jesus Christ_;' and, after the sermon, continued
with the King till it was some hours past dark.

"After the Bishop was gone to his lodging, the King continued two
hours more in meditation and prayer. He then bade me sleep on a pallet
by his bedside. I took small rest, but the King slept four hours, and
awaking two hours before dawn opened his curtain to call me. And
perceiving that I was disturbed in my sleep, for there was a light
that burned all night, being a cake of wax set in a silver basin, he
called me and bade me rise. 'For,' said he, 'I will get up, having a
great work to do this day.' In a little while he said, 'This is my
second marriage day; I would be as trim to-day as may be, for before
night I hope to be espoused to my Lord.' He then appointed what
clothes he would wear, and said, 'Let me have a shirt on more than
ordinary, by reason that the season is so sharp as may probably make
me quake. I would not have men think it fear. I fear not death. I
bless God I am prepared.'

"Then I besought the King's pardon if I had been negligent in my
service. After this the King delivered me his Bible, in the margin of
which he had written annotations, and charged me to give it to the
Prince. He also commanded me to give to the Duke of York his large
ring sundial of silver, a jewel which he had much prized; and he gave
commandment about sundry books to be given to diverse persons.

"After this I withdrew, and the King was for about an hour in private
with the Bishop. The Bishop read to him, after prayers, the
twenty-seventh chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, which relates the
passion of our Saviour. The King asked the Bishop if he had made
choice of that chapter as being applicable to his present condition.
The Bishop answered, 'May it please your gracious Majesty, it is the
proper lesson for the day;' whereupon the King was much affected.

"After this Colonel Hacker knocked at the door, and, coming in, said
in a trembling manner, ''Tis time to go to Whitehall, when your
Majesty may have some further time to rest.' For a short while the
King was private, afterwards he took the Bishop by the hand and said,
'Let us go;' and when he had passed through the garden into the park,
he took from my hand a little silver clock, which he had bidden me
carry, and gave it to me to keep in memory of him.

"There were several companies of horse and foot in the park, making a
guard on either side as the King passed; and there was also a guard of
halberdiers, some going before, and some following after; and the
drums beat, making such a noise that one could hardly hear what
another spoke.

"Being come to Whitehall the King passed into his bedchamber; and
after prayer he bade me bring him some bread and wine, which being
brought, the King broke the manchet and ate a mouthful of it, and
drank a glassful of claret wine. After that I saw the King no more,
for I could not bear to look upon the violence they would offer him
upon the scaffold."

Here follows what I heard from Master Farrer: -

"The King seeing that his voice could not reach the people, spake what
was in his mind to the gentlemen upon the scaffold, justifying himself
for all that he had done, save for consenting to the death of my Lord
Strafford, and forgiving his enemies. While he was speaking one of the
gentlemen touched the edge of the axe, thereupon the King said, 'Hurt
not the axe; that may hurt me.'

"The Bishop asked him that, for the world's satisfaction, he would say
something of his affection for religion. The King said, 'I die a
Christian according to the profession of the Church of England, as I
found it left me by my father.' Then, turning to Colonel Hacker, he
said, 'Take care that they do not put me to pain.' Also to a gentleman
that came near the axe he said twice, with much earnestness, 'Touch
not the axe.' Then, speaking to the executioner, he said, 'I shall say
but very short prayers, and after that thrust out my hands.'

"The Bishop said, 'There is but one stage more. This stage is
turbulent and troublesome, but you may consider it will carry you a
very great way; it will carry you from earth to Heaven.'

"Then the King said, 'I go from a corruptible crown to an
incorruptible, where no disturbance can be.'

"Then he took off his cloak and his George, giving his George to the
Bishop, and said at the same time, 'Remember!' and this done, laid his
head upon the block; and I noted that his eye was as quick and lively
as ever I have seen it."

[Illustration: _Execution of King Charles I._]

But what I myself saw and heard may be told in few words. The scaffold
had been made against the wall of the Palace of Whitehall, by the
banqueting chamber, and the King, coming through one of the windows of
this same chamber, stepped upon it. It was hung about with black, and
in the midst was a block and an axe, and by the block stood two men
that had their faces covered with masks. A great number of soldiers
stood about the scaffold, so that the people could not come near it;
but the street and the tops of the houses and the windows were filled
with such a multitude of people as I should think had scarcely before
been gathered together. I could see the King speaking to them that
were on the scaffold, and to the man that had the axe, and to the
Bishop that stood by his side. After that I could see that he put his
hair under his cap, for he had put a night-cap on his head, the
headsman and the Bishop helping him. Then he knelt down, and laid his
head upon the block. This done, there was silence for the space of
about a minute, and the King stretched out his hands. Thereupon the
headsman let fall the axe, which with one blow divided the head from
the body. Then the other man that was masked took up the head by the
hair, and cried out in a loud voice, "This is the head of a traitor!"
to which all the people answered with such a dismal groan as was never
heard before.



How we felt, seeing the axe fall upon that sacred head, I shall not
seek to write. We stood, as it were, astonished, looking, it may be,
for vengeance to fall from Heaven on the city that had suffered such
things to be done in its midst. After a while, when the people were
now all dispersed, and the soldiers began to look as if they would
question them that still tarried, we went very sadly to our lodging,
and there debated between ourselves what it were best to do. Our
errand in London was now at an end; nor had we the desire to tarry
there any longer; and, indeed, so to do had imperilled our lives, or,
at the least, our liberty. For it was manifest that they who had slain
the King were determined to make an end of the business; and whom,
indeed, having done such a deed, were they like to spare? I say not
that they used their power with cruelty. 'Tis not so; rather they
showed more mercy than could have been reasonably looked for. Yet this
was afterwards to be proved; the danger for the present seemed

On the fourth day of February, therefore, John Ellgood and I departed
from London, habited in Roundhead fashion for greater security of
travelling. But there was no watch kept on them that would leave
London, so we met with none to question us on our road. We travelled
on foot, a mode that suited the slenderness of our purses, and also
lent itself more readily to secrecy, for a man can hide himself when
he cannot hide his horse; and on the third day came to our journey's

We found Dorothy and her husband in no little trouble; not yet,
indeed, dispossessed but almost daily expecting so to be. At supper,
Master Blagrove set forth to us how his affairs stood.

"I doubt," said he, "but that the end is well nigh come; and, indeed,
I marvel, not without thankfulness, that it has been delayed so long:

'_Quem sors dierum cunque dabit lucro Appone_,'[11]

as the poet Horace has it. And, indeed, I have had many days that have
been denied to my neighbours. But for more I can, scarce hope. The
good knight, my patron, is in disgrace with the powers that be, and
can scarce keep himself out of prison, much less help his friends.
Therefore, I am looking every day for a summons, and can but pray for
God's grace to help me play valiantly a confessor's part."

[11] "Reckon for gain whatever days Fate shall give thee."

And even while he was speaking his expectation was fulfilled, for
there came a loud knocking at the door, and soon after a message
brought into the parlour, which the little countrymaid could scarce
deliver for fear, that a constable would speak with the parson.

"Let him come in hither," quoth my brother, whereupon the constable
comes into the parlour. He was a rough fellow and given to some
insolence of speech, but now he was civil enough, partly, may be,
seeing he had to do with them that could presently chastise any
liberty of speech; and partly, I do believe, because he was ashamed to
show rudeness to so gracious a woman as was my sister Dorothy, and to
Master Blagrove that was honoured both for courtesy and learning
through the whole country side. He now delivered a brief to my
brother, excusing his coming as a matter of necessity, and so, having
first drunk a cup of ale to our health, which he did though 'twas
against his principles, presently departed.

The brief summoned my brother to appear the day following at ten of
the clock in the forenoon, at a tavern in Enstone, before certain
Commissioners therein named, there to answer sundry charges made
against his doctrine and manner of life. We had much talk about the
matter, sitting up together till near upon midnight, but there was
small comfort to be got concerning it, and I could see that my brother
had no hope of a good ending.

The next day when he came back from the sitting of the Court (which
was not till about three of the clock in the afternoon), he seemed
somewhat more cheerful of aspect; but Dorothy crying to him, "Things,
then, are better than you looked for," he said, "Nay, sweet love, 'tis
only that I am easier in my mind, as a man will be, after long
battling for life, when sentence has been pronounced, even though it
be sentence of death. But hear my tale. As for the goodly list of
Commissioners, 'twas, as I expected, all moonshine. There was not
present one gentleman of birth and education. Timothy Fenn, the
miller, whom they had chosen for their president, was as good a man as
any; and Timothy, as you know, though passably honest, is not a
shining light either for wit or knowledge. Others were rude fellows
that could scarce put their names to a paper, and one or two had been
to my knowledge in time past men of evil life; what they are I know
not, but they were, I noted, especially bitter against me. But now for
their doings. First, they examined me concerning doctrine. Were I to
tell you what they said, what questions they asked, and in what way
they received my answers, 'twould sound as a foolish jest. Let it
suffice to say that there was not one that knew a word of Greek or
even of Latin. When I quoted a few words of this last they took it as
an affront, though it was but a common saw that every lawyer, and many
a one that is no lawyer, has on the tip of his tongue. When I offered
to prove that I had taught nothing but what was agreeable to Holy
Scripture and the Fathers, they stopped me peremptorily. 'As for the
Fathers, we desire to hear nothing of such papistical writers; but as
for Scripture it is not you, but we that must be judges of what agrees
thereto.' But these questions kept them but a little while; and,
indeed, they were not at their ease in them.

"After this they proceeded to examine me about certain things in my
life and conversation. I marvelled what charges would be brought
against me, for, though I am not blameless, God knows, yet I have
always walked soberly and discreetly, even denying myself in what I
judged to be lawful recreations that I might not give offence to any;
for I know that in these times any stick is good enough to beat a dog
withal, especially if the dog be a poor parson.

"'We are credibly informed,' says Master President, 'that you have
been seen coursing hares on the Sabbath day. What say you to this?'

"For a while I could say nothing, having no remembrance of anything
that could be made to bear such a colour; but at the last I remembered
something that might by great malice and ingenuity be so interpreted.
My brother going abroad after Naseby fight, gave me a greyhound to
keep, and though I cared not much for the beast, this kind of dog
having but little in him of wit or of affection, I received him for
his master's sake. Well, walking abroad one Sunday evening, for the
poor creature had been kept at home for some days by ill-weather, a
hare chanced to cross my path, which the dog, almost before I could
speak his name, had caught and killed. I thought that none had been
offended in the matter, save, may be, my patron, and his pardon I had,
when I confessed my offence to him. Master President looked mighty
grave when I told my story, and said that the Court would consider it.

"After this breaks in another Commissioner with, 'We have been
informed, Master Parson, that you were seen to stand by a bonfire some
three years since.'

"''Tis true,' said I, 'I do remember hearing a great shouting in the
village; I went forth and found three parts, as I should guess, of my
parishioners assembled about a bonfire, but I had no other concern
with it.'

"'Know you not,' said the Commissioner, 'that there is something
superstitious and papistical about bonfires?'

"'This, at the least,' said I, 'was not papistical, for 'twas lighted
on the fifth of November, and the people had burned - for so I heard,
being myself too late to see it - the effigies of the Pope of Rome.'

"Then another Commissioner had his turn at me. 'We have heard that you
suffer your children to play at cards for pins. Is this so?'

"'Am I bound,' said I, 'to answer any question to my own damage?' (For
I was minded to have a little sport with them.)

"'We shall know how to interpret your silence,' says Master President.

"'Nay, then,' said I, 'if I must answer, I will. Children I have not,
but one child only, a babe of six months only, who, I warrant you, so
careful a mother has he - has never so much as had a pin in his
fingers. And as for cards, he knows no more of such things than you
yourself, Master Commissioner,' at which speech he reddened, having
been not so long since, till he found his account in other ways, a
noted card player and gamester. To make a long matter short, they made
out no case against me, for all that they brought every
good-for-nothing fellow in the whole country side to give testimony
against me. But I build not on this; I know right well that sentence
was passed on me before ever I came into court."

And so indeed it turned out. Two days after my brother was summoned by
the Commissioners to appear before them, and received sentence of
deprivation, but to have as a _solatium_ one fifth part of the
proceeds of the living. This fifth part, I should here say, he never
received, for the intruding minister alleged that he had some temporal
means of his own, and that he had but one child (which was true, but
scarce relevant, seeing that one child must eat as well as two), and
that he himself could scarce get anything of tithes; which also I
believe, for the farmers, who love not paying tithes at any time, were
more especially set against them when they were to be received by the
intruding minister.

My brother had angered some of the Commissioners by the freedom of his
answering, and receiving warning that he had best be absent when the
sentence was executed, went into hiding in a neighbour's house. The
next day comes the constable, with some soldiers at his back, with a
warrant to apprehend his person, and was greatly enraged when he found
that the bird was flown. He and his fellows had at the best but little
civility in them, and this they had done their best to banish by too
plentiful cups, and indeed they behaved themselves more like savages
than Christian men. They searched the house through for my brother,
the constable running his sword two or three times through the bed
from which my sister was but newly risen (for they came before seven
o'clock in the forenoon), pretending that he might be there hidden.
All the stores in the house they wasted most cruelly, spoiling that
which they could not carry away. Indeed, they were bent on insult
rather than plunder. Thus the troopers pulled the bridles off their
horses, and whipped them round the garden to tread all under foot.
After that they brake open the barn door and turned them into the
sacks of corn to fill their bellies. Indeed, they would have burned
the barn and all the hay and corn, but that the neighbours hindered
them, fearing the fire for their own stack-yards. Nor would these
suffer them to profane the church, which they would have done under
cover of destroying papistical ornaments. Verily, I know not what
these savages would have left undone but for the singular affection
which the people had for my brother, who, indeed, had well discharged
his priest's office among them since his coming into the parish,
ministering without wearying both to their souls and bodies. Many of
his brethren suffered worse things than he, especially in the
cruelties that were wrought upon their wives and children, for these
poor creatures were ofttimes driven out of their homes in the very
depth and severity of winter, and forced to find such shelter as they
could in barns and stables, and to live upon any broken victuals which
they could beg or pick up, robbing the very swine. I know that the
clergy which suffered such things were not blameless. Some had borne
themselves haughtily and wantonly in the day of their prosperity, as
lords of God's heritage rather than as shepherds of the flock; and
some had been careless livers, or worse, tippling at ale-houses, or
wandering about the country to bull-baiting, and village feasts, and
church ales, where they brought the name of the Church into great
disrepute. That these were rightly dispossessed I deny not. Such men
are not worthy to labour in the garden of the Lord. But many pious men
also suffered for nought else than that they kept that which they had
vowed and promised. And when they who are now trodden under foot shall
get the upper hand, as I doubt not they will - before we that are now
young are come to middle-age - they, I fear me, will use the same
cruelty. So does wrong beget wrong, and hatreds are stored up for the
time to come that many generations shall not exhaust. I pray God that
He may give my countrymen a better mind.



It was but some three weeks after these things that my dear mother
died. I would not lay her death to the door even of these cruel men,
for 'tis certain that she had declined from the very beginning of her
widowhood; but I cannot doubt that her end was hastened by grief and
trouble. Notwithstanding, she passed away in great peace and comfort,
having as lively a faith in the world to come - and in her meeting
again with those whom in this world she had lost - as was ever seen in
Christian woman. After her death, which took place in the house of the
worthy neighbour who had given shelter to my brother's family at the
first, my sister and her child took up their dwelling with John
Vickers, which worthy man, whose kindness and truth I cannot
sufficiently praise, most hospitably entertained her. Notwithstanding,
she judged it best for her greater safety from molestation to lay
aside her estate as a gentlewoman and to labour with her hands in the
house and dairy. She told me afterwards that the good John was much
troubled and distressed at her so humbling herself, and would doff his
cap and show other courtesy to her which did contrast very strangely
with her lowly dress, till by slow degrees and with much unwillingness
he learnt to behave himself in a more suitable fashion.

Meanwhile, John Ellgood, having departed for his home, where his
father much needed his presence, Master Blagrove and I set out for
London, desiring there to settle some urgent affairs. He had some
small property, for which he was desirous to make composition, and I
was minded to do the same for my father's estate, if this could by any
means be contrived. And here we met with an adventure which shall now
be told.

We went on a certain afternoon to the Strand, purposing to visit my
cousin Master Rushworth, of whom I have spoken before. We found him
but half recovered of a sickness, but hearty in spirit, and as kind as
ever he was. Indeed, I marvelled a little at the praises which he and
his wife heaped upon me. If they were to be believed, there had never
been so well-behaved and admirable a boy. I did not remember myself to
have possessed so many virtues, and, indeed, could bring to mind not a
few reproofs which these good people had administered to me for sundry
misdoings, ay, and prophecies that, unless I amended my ways, I should
bring shame on all my kindred. Now this was all forgotten, and the
good only remembered, a fault of memory, doubtless, but one which may
easily be pardoned.

We stayed somewhat late with Master Rushworth over a flask of canary,
which he would have replenished again and again had we suffered it.
'Twas ten of the clock, or thereabouts, when we set out for our
lodging, which was in Westminster, and the street was almost deserted.
We had scarce walked a hundred yards westward when there ran out upon
us a company of fellows attired as sailors. I was unarmed save for a

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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchWith the King at Oxford → online text (page 12 of 14)