« PreviousContinue »
king of England can do no wrong, fo neither can he do right but in his courts and by his courts; and what is legally done in them, shall be deemed the king's affent, though he as a several person shall judge or endeavour the contrary; so that indeed without his courts, or against them, he is no king. If therefore he obtrude upon us any public mischief, or withhold from us any general good, which is wrong in the highest degree, he must do it as a tyrant, not as a king of England, by the known maxims of our law. Neither can he, as one greater, give aught to the parliament which is not in their own power, but he must be greater also than the kingdom which they represent: fo that to honour him with the giving part was a mere civility, and may be well termed the courtesy of England, not the king's due.
But the “ incommunicable jewel of his conscience” he will not give, “but reserve to himself.” It seems that his conscience was none of the crown-jewels; for those we know were in Holland, not incommunicable, to buy arins againit his subjects. Being therefore but a private jewel, he could not have done a greater pleafure to the kingdom, than by relerving it to himself. But he, contrary to what is here profefied, would have his conscience not an incommunicable, but a universal conscience, the whole kingdom's contcience. Thus what he seems to fear left we mhould ravish from him, is our chief complaint that he obtruded upon us; we never forced him to part with his contcience, but it was he that would have forced us to part with ours.
Some things he taxes them to have offered him, “ which, while he had the mastery of his reason, he would never consent to.” Very likely; but had his reason mastered him as it ought, and not been mastered long ago by his sense and humour (as the breeding of molt kings hath been ever sensual and most humoured), perhaps he would have made no difficulty. Meanwhile at what a fine pass is the kingdom, that must depend in greatest exigencies upon the fantasy of a king's realon, be he wile or fool, who arrogantly shall answer all the wildom of the land, that what they offer seems to him unreasonable?
He prefers his “ love of truth” before his love of the people. This love of truth would have led him to the search of truth, and have taught him not to lean so much upon his own understanding. He met at first with doctrines of unaccountable prerogative; in them he rested, because they pleased him; they therefore pleased him because they gave him all; and this he calls his love of truth, and prefers it before the love of his people's peace.
Some things they proposed, “ which would have wounded the inward peace of his conscience.” The more our evil hap, that three kingdoms should be thus pestered with one conscience; who chiefly fcrupled to grant us that, which the parliament advised him to, as the chief means of our public welfare and reformation. These scruples to many perhaps will seem pretended; to others, upon as good grounds, may seem real; and that it was the juft judgment of God, that he who was so cruel and so remorseless to other men's consciences, should have a conscience within him as cruel to himself; conftraining him, as he constrained others, and ensvaring him in such ways and counsels as were certain to be his destruction.
“ Other things though he could approve, yet in honour and policy he thought fit to deny, left he should seem to dare deny nothing." By this means he will be sure, what with reason, honour, policy, or punctilios, to be found never unfurnished of a denial; whether it were his envy not to be overbounteous, or that the fubmifincss of our asking stirred up in him a certain pleasure of denying. Good princes have thought it their chief happiness to be always granting; if good things, for the things fake; if things indifferent, for the people's fake; while this man sits calculating variety of excuses how he may grant leaft; as if his whole strength and royalty were placed in a mere negative,
Of one propofition especially he laments him much, that they would bind him" to a general and iinplicit consent for whatever they defired. Which though I find not among the nineteen, yet undoubtedly the oathi of his coronation binds him to no lets; neither is he at all by his office to interpose against a parliament in the making or not making of any law; but to take that for jult and good legally, which is there decreed, and to see it executed accordingly. Nor was he fet over us to vie wisdom with his parliament, but to be guided by them; any of whom possibly may as far excel him in the gift of wisdom, as he them in place and dignity. But inuch nearer is it to impossibility, that any king alone should be wiser than all his council ; sure enough it was not he, though no king ever before him so much contended to have it thought so. And if the parliament to thought not, but defired him to follow their advice and deliberation in things of public concernment, he accounts it the same propofition, as if Sampson had been moved “ to the putting out his eyes, that the Philistines might abuse him.” And thus out of an unwife or pretended fear, left others thould make a scorn of him for yielding to his parliament, he regards not to give cause of worle futpicion, that he made a scorn of his regal oath.
But “to exclude him from all power of denial seems an arrogance;" in the parliament he means : what in him then to deny against the parliament? None at all, by what he argues: for “ by petitioning, they confess their inferiority, and that obliges them to reft, if not satisfied, yet quieted with such an antiver as the will and reason of their fuperior thinks fit to give.” First, petitioning, in better English, is no more than requesting or requiring; and men require not favours only, but their due; and that not only from fuperiors, but from equals, and inferiors also. The noblest Romans, when they stood for that which was a kind of regal honour, the contulihip, were wont in a fubinislive manner to go about, and beg that highest dignity of the meanest plebeians, naming them man by man; which in their tongue was called petitio consulatus. And the parliament of England petitioned the king, not because all of them were inferior to him, but because he was inferior to any one of them, which they did of civil cuftom, and for fathion's fake, more than of duty; for by plain law cited before, the parliament is his fuperior.
But what law in any trial or dispute enjoins a freeman to relt quieted, though not satisfied with the will and
reason of his superior? It were a mad law that would fubject reason to fuperiority of place. And if our highest consultations and purpoted laws must be terminated by the king's will, then is the will of one man our law, and no subtlety of dispute can redeem the parliament and nation from being Naves : neither can any tyrant require more than that his will or reason, though not satisfying, Mould yet be refted in, and determine all things. We may conclude therefore, that when the parliament petitioned the king, it was but merely form, let it be as “ foolith and abfurd” as he pleales. It cannot certainly be so absurd as what he requires, that the parliament should confine their own and all the kingdom's reason to the will of one man, because it was his hap to fucceed his father. For neither God nor the laws have subjected us to his will, nor fet his reason to be our sovereign above law (which mufi needs be, if he can ftrangle it in the birth) b:it let his person over us in the fovereign execution of such laws as the parliament establish. The parliament therefore, without any usurpation, hath had it always in their power to limit and confine the exorbitancy of kings, whether they call it their will, their reason, or their conscience.
But this above all was never expected, nor is to be endured, that a king, who is bound by law and oath to follow the advice of his parliament, should be permitted to except againft them as “ young statesmen," and proudly to fufpend his following their advice,
until his seven years experience had thown hiin how well they could govern themselves.” Doubtless the law never fupposed to great an arrogance could be in ono man; that he whole seventeen years unexperience had almoft ruined all, thould fit another seven years schoolmaster to tutor those who were sent by the whole realm to be his counsellors and teachers. And with what modesty can he pretend to be a statesman himself, who with his father's king-craft and his own, did never that of his own accord, which was not directly opposite to his professed interest both at home and abroad; discontenting and alienating his fubjeéts at home, weakening and deterting his confederates abroad, and with them the common cause of religion; so that the whole course of his reign, by an example of his own furnishing, hath resembled Phaeton more than Phæbus, and forced the parliament to drive like Jehu ; which omen taken from his own mouth, God hath not diverted?
And he on the other side might have remembered, that the parliament fit in that body, not as his subjects, but as his superiors, called, not by him, but by the law; not only twice every year, but as oft as great affairs require, to be his countéllors and diétators, though he stomach it; nor to be diffolved at his pleasure, but when all grievances be firít removed, all petitions heard and answered. This is not only reason, but the known law of the land.
“ When he heard that propositions would be sent him,” he fat conjecturing what they would propound; and because they propounded what he expected not, he takes that to be a warrant for his denying them. But wliat did he expect? He expected that the parliament would reinforce “ some old laws." But if those laws were not a sufficient remedy to all grievances, nay were found to be grievances themselves, when did we lose that other part of our freedom to establish new.? He thought " tome injuries done by himself and others to the commonwealth were to be repaired.” But how could that be, while he the chief oftender took upon him to be sole judge both of the injury and the reparation ? " He staid till the advantages of his crown considered, might induce him to condetcend to the people's good.” When as the crown itself with all those advantages were therefore given him, that the people's good thould be first considered; not bargained for, and bought by inches with the bribe of more offertures and advantages to his crown. He looked “ for moderate defires of due reformation ;". as if any such desires could be immoderate. He looked for such a reformation “ both in church and state, as might preferve” the roots of every grievance and abuse in both ftill growing (which he calls “ the foundation and effentials”) and would have only the excrefcences of evil pruned away for the present, as was plotted before, that they might grow fast enough between triennial parliaments, to hinder them by work enough besides from