Page images
PDF
EPUB

which he learned to consider it a duty to his party to discredit everything that came from the advocate of the people. We shall now say a word or two on the remarks themselves, which, as we have already noticed, will be found to be infinitely fewer and more insignificant than anyone, looking merely to the bulk of the volume, could possibly have conjectured.

The first of any sort of importance is made on those passages in which Mr. Fox calls the execution of the King “a far less violent measure than that of Lord Strafford,” and says " that there was some. thing in the splendour and magnanimity of the act which has served to raise the character of the nation in the opinion of Europe in general.” Mr. Rose takes great offence at both these remarks, and says that the constitution itself was violated by the execution of the King, while the case of Lord Strafford was but a private injury. We are afraid Mr. Rose does not perfectly understand Mr. Fox, otherwise it would be difficult not to agree with him. The grossness of Lord Strafford's case consisted in this, that a bill of attainder was brought in after a regular proceeding by impeachment had been tried against him. He was substantially acquitted by the most unexceptionable process known in our law before the bill of attainder came to declare him guilty and to punish him. There was here, therefore, a most flagrant violation of all law and justice, and a precedent for endless abuses and oppressions. In the case of the King, on the other hand, there could be no violation of settled rules or practice; because the case itself was necessarily out of the purview of every rule, and could be drawn into no precedent. The constitution, no doubt, was necessarily destroyed or suspended by the trial ; but Mr. Rose appears to forget that it had been destroyed or suspended before, by the war, or by the acts of the King which brought on the war. If it were lawful to fight against the King it must have been lawful to take him prisoner : after he was a prisoner it was both lawful and necessary to consider what should be done with him, and every deliberation of this sort had all the assumption and none of the fairness of a trial. Yet Mr. Rose has himself told us that "there are cases in which resistance becomes a paramount duty;" and probably is not prepared to say that it was more violent and criminal to drive King James from the throne in 1688 than to wrest all law and justice to take the life of Lord Strafford in 1641. Yet the constitution was as much violated by the forfeiture of the one Sovereign as by the trial and execution of the other. It was impossible that the trial of King Charles might have terminated in a sentence of mere deprivation; and if James had fought against his people and been conquered, he might have been tried and executed. The constitution was gone for the time in both cases as soon as force was mutually appealed to, and the violence that followed thereafter to the person of the Monarch can receive no aggravation from any view of that nature.

With regard again to the loyal horror which Mr. Rose expresses when Mr. Fox speaks of the splendour and magnanimity of the proceedings against the King, it is probable that this zealous observer was

[ocr errors]

not aware that his favourite "prerogative writer,” Mr. Hume, had used the same, or still loftier expressions, in relation to the same event. Some of the words of that loyal and unsuspected historian are as follow :-“The pomp, the dignity, the ceremony of this transaction, correspond to the greatest conceptions that are suggested in the annals of humankind ;-the delegates of a great people sitting in judgment upon their supreme magistrate, and trying him for his mismanagement and breach of trust."* Cordially as we agree with Mr. Fox in the unprofitable severity of this example, it is impossible, we conceive, for anyone to consider the great, grave, and solemn movement of the nation that led to it, or the stern and dispassionate temper in which it was conducted, without feeling that proud contrast between this execution and that of all other deposed Sovereigns in history, which led Mr. Fox, in common with Mr. Hume, and every other writer on the subject, to make use of the expressions which have been alluded to.

When Mr. Rose, in the close of his remarks upon this subject, permits himself to insinuate that if Mr. Fox thought such high praise due to the publicity, &c., of King Charles's trial, he must have felt unbounded admiration at that of Louis XVI., he has laid himself open to a charge of such vulgar and uncandid unfairness as was not to have been at all expected from a person of his rank and description. If Louis XVI. had been openly in arms against his people—if the Convention had required no other victim, and had settled into a regular government as soon as he was removed, there might have been more room for a parallel, to which, as the fact actually stands, every Briton must listen with indignation. Louis XVI. was wantonly sacrificed to the rage of an insane and blood-thirsty faction, and tossed to the executioner among the common supplies for the guillotine. The publicity and parade of his trial were assumed from no love of justice or sense of dignity, but from a low principle of profligate and clamorous defiance to everything that had become displeasing; and ridiculous and incredible as it would appear of any other nation, we have not the least doubt that a certain childish emulation of the avenging liberty of the English had its share in producing this paltry copy of our grand and original daring. The insane coxcombs who blew out their brains, after a piece of tawdry declamation, in some of the provincial assemblies, were about as like Cato or Hannibal as the trial and execution of Louis was like the condemnation of King Charles. Our regicides were serious and original at least, in the bold, bad deeds which they committed. The regicides of France were poor theatrical imitators-intoxicated with blood and with power, and incapable even of forming a scber estimate of the guilt or the consequences of their actions. Before leaving this subject we must remind our readers that Mr. Fox unequivocally condemns the execution of the King, and spends some time in showing that it was excusable neither on the ground of present expediency nor future warning. It is after he had finished that statement, he proceeds to say, that notwithstanding what the more reasonable part of mankind

* Hume's History, vol. vii. p. 141.

» *

апу опе.

may think, it is to be doubted, whether that proceeding has not served to raise the national character in the eyes of foreigners, &c., and then goes on to refer to the conversations he had himself witnessed on that subject abroad. A man must be a very zealous royalist indeed to disbelieve or be offended with this.

Mr. Rose's next observation is in favour of General Monk, upon whom he is of opinion that Mr. Fox has been by far too severe-at the same time that he fails utterly in obviating any of the grounds upon which that severity is justified. Monk was not responsible alone indeed for restoring the King without taking any security for the people; but, as wielding the whole power of the army by which that restoration was effected, he is certainly chiefly responsible for that most criminal omission. As to his indifference to the fate of his companions in arms, Mr. Rose does indeed quote the testimony of his chaplain, who wrote a complimentary life of his patron, to prove that, on the trial of the regicides, he behaved with great moderation. We certainly do not rate this testimony very high, and do think it far more than compensated by that of Mrs. Hutchinson, who, in the life of her husband, says, that on the first proceedings against the regicides in the House of Commons, “ Monk sate still, and had not one word to interpose for any man, but was as forward to set vengeance on foot as

And a little afterwards she adds, apparently from her own personal knowledge and observation, that "before the prisoners were brought to the Tower, Monk and his wife came one evening to the garden, and caused them to be brought down, only to stare at them, which was such a behaviour for that man who had betrayed so many of those that had honoured and trusted him, &c., as no story can parallel the inhumanity of.”+

With regard again to Mr. Fox's charge of Monk's tamely acquiescing in the insults so meanly put on the illustrious corpse of his old commander Blake, it is perfectly evident, even from the authorities referred to by Mr. Rose, that Blake's body was dug up by the King's order, among others, and removed out of the hallowed precints of Westminster, to be reinterred with twenty more in one pit at St. Margaret's.

But the chief charge is that on the trial of Argyle, Monk spontaneously sent down some confidential letters, which turned the scale of evidence against that unfortunate nobleman. This statement, to which Mr. Fox is most absurdly blamed for giving credit, is made on the authority of the three historians who lived nearest to the date of the transaction, and who all report it as quite certain and notorious. These historians are Burnet, Baillie, and Cunningham ; nor are they contradicted by any one writer on the subject, except Dr. Campbell, who, at a period comparatively recent, and without pretending to have discovered any new document on the subject, is pleased to disbelieve them upon certain hypothetical and argumentative reasons of his own. These reasons Mr. Laing has examined and most satisfactorily obviated in his history, and Mr. Rose has exerted incredible industry to defend.

* Life of Colonel Hutchinson, p. 372.

Ibid., p. 378.

The Scottish records for that period have perished : and for this reason, and because a collection of pamphlets and newspapers of that age in Mr. Rose's possession make no mention of the circumstance, he thinks fit to discredit it altogether. If this kind of scepticism were to be indulged, there would be an end of all reliance on history. In this particular case, both Burnet and Baillie speak quite positively, from the information of contemporaries, and state a circumstance that would very well account for the silence of the formal accounts of the trial, if any such had been preserved, viz. that Monk's letters were not produced till after the evidence was finished on both sides, and the debate begun on the result ; an irregularity, by the way, by much too gross to have been charged against a public proceeding without any foundation.

Mr. Rose's next observation is directed rather against Judge Blackstone than against Mr. Fox, and is meant to show that this learned person was guilty of great inaccuracy in representing the year 1679 as the era of good laws and bad government. It is quite impossible to follow him through the dull details and feeble disputations by which he labours to make it appear that our laws were not very good in 1679, and that they, as well as the administration of them, were much mended after the Revolution. Mr. Fox's or rather Blackstone's remark is too obviously and strikingly true in substance to admit of any argument or illustration.*

The next charge against Mr. Fox is for saying, that if Charles II.'s ministers betrayed him, he betrayed them in return-keeping, from some of them at least, the secret of what he was pleased to call his religion, and the state of his connections with France. After the furious attack which Mr. Rose has made in another place upon this Prince and his French connections, it is rather surprising to see with what zeal he undertakes his defence against this very venial sort of treachery, of concealing his shame from some of his more respectable ministers. The attempt, however, is at least as unsuccessful as it is

* Mr. Rose talks a great deal, and justly, about the advantage of the judges not being removable at pleasure ; and, with a great air of erudition, informs us that after 6 Charles all the commissions were made quamdiu nobis placuerit. Mr. Rose's researches, we fear, do not often go beyond the records in his custody. If he had looked into Rushworth's Collection he would have found that in 1641 King Charles agreed to make the commissions quamdiu se bene gesserint, and that some of those illegally removed in the following reign, though not officiating in court, still retained certain functions in consequence of that appointment. The following is the passage, at p. 1265, vol. iii. of Rushworth : After the passing of these votes (16th December, 1640,) against the judges, and transmitting them to the House of Peers, and their concurring with the House of Commons therein, an address was made unto the King shortly after that his Majesty for the future would not make any judge by patent during pleasure, but that they may hold their places hereafter quamdiu se bene gesserint, and his Majesty did really grant the same. And in his speech to both House: of Parliament, at the time of giving his Royal assent to two bills--one to take away the High Commission Court, and the other the Court of Star-Chamber, and regulating the power of the Council Table, he hath this passage : '11 unaccountable. Mr. Fox says only, that some of the ministers were not trusted with the secret, and both Dalrymple and Macpherson say that none but the Catholic counsellors were admitted to this confidence. Mr. Rose mutters that there is no evidence of this, and himself produces an abstract of the secret treaty between Lewis and Charles, of May, 1670, to which the subscriptions of four Catholic ministers of the latter are affixed !

Mr. Fox is next taxed with great negligence for saying that he does not know what proof there is of Clarendon's being privy to Charles receiving money from France; and very long quotations are inserted from the correspondence printed by Dalrymple and Macpherson, which do not prove Clarendon's knowledge of any money being received, though they do seem to establish that he must have known of its being stipulated for.

After this comes Mr. 'Rose's grand attack, in which he charges the historian with his whole heavy artillery of argument and quotation, and makes a vigorous effort to drive him from the position that the early and primary object of James's reign was not to establish Popery in this country, but in the first place to render himself absolute, and, that for a considerable time he does not appear to have aimed at anything inore than a complete toleration for his own religion. The grounds upon which this opinion is maintained by Mr. Fox are certainly very probable. There is, in the first place, his zeal for the Church of England during his brother's life, and the violent oppressions by which he enforced a Protestant test in Scotland ; secondly, the fact of his carrying on the government and the persecution of nonconformists by Protestant ministers ; and, thirdly, his addresses to his Parliament, and the tenor of much of his correspondence with Louis. sition to this, Mr. Rose quotes an infinite variety of passages from Barillon's correspondence to show in general the unfeigned zeal of this unfortunate prince for his religion, and his constant desire to glorify and advance it. Now it is perfectly obvious, in the first place, that Mr. Fox never intended to dispute James's zeal for Popery; and, in the second place, it is very remarkable that in the first seven passages quoted by Mr. Rose nothing more is said to be in the King's contemplation than the complete toleration of that religion. “The free

In oppo

you consider what I have done this parliament, discontents will not sit in your hearts, for I hope you remember that I have granted that the judges hereafter shall hold their places quamdiu se bene gesserint.' And likewise his gracious Majesty King Charles the Second observed the same rule and method in granting patents to judges quamdiu se bene gesserint, as appears upon record in the rolls-viz., to Serjeant Slide to be Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, Sir Orlando Bridgman to be Lord Chief Baron, and afterwards to be Lord Chief Jnstice of Common Pleas; to Sir Robert Foster, and others. Mr. Serjeant Archer, now living, notwithstanding his removal, still enjoys his patent being quamdiu se bene gesserint, and receives a share in the profits of the court as to fees and other proceedings by virtue of his said patent, and his name is used in those fines, &c., as a judge of that court.”

« PreviousContinue »