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THE EARL OF STRAFFORD
IN A LETTER SENT TO A FRIEND IN THE COUNTRY.
Printed in 1641. Octavo, containing eight pages.
I AM inforced to complain of your impetuous commands, and the
tax you impose upon me, above all the rest of your vassals, but especially of this of my Lord of Strafford's; as though I alone were inspired with an illumination, beyond the wisdom of the parliament, which on so long consultation bath not yet determined the articulate point of your question ; yet thus much I shall positively deliver as a part of my belief: That, howsoever my Lord of Strafford be cried up for a most incomparable and accomplished instrument of state, yet he is human, and subject to such infirmities as were incident to our first progenitors; and this is a particular of my faith, not of my opinion.
But, if it may satisfy your curiosity to be informed of the general conceptions, I shall then present you with as various a collection of votes and censures, as there are fancies in the several factions daily raised by the work of art and time, which qualifieth poison, mollifieth flints, and changeth the face of all things from their first beings and appearances, which bave much befriended my Lord of Strafford.
But, whether his lordship be guilty of high treason, I cannot deter: mine.
Sure it is, many foul things stick upon him by manifest proofs, which neither his fineness of wit, nor all the fig-leaves in paradise can cover.
True it is, the house of commons stand stiff to make good their first charges, which are now inforced and prosecuted to the last article, this very day, which, should it not prove treason, on joint rehearsal of the house, and so adjudged by the lords, it would then seem to me to be a strain of popular fury, rather than the legitimate issue of a court of parliament.
True it is, that before the quarter-part of the accusations were charged upon him, he was by way of prejudication acquitted by many of both sexes, and favoured not of a few of both houses, and some of his Majesty's council, and the papistical party, his friends, and followers, and generally by ladies.
The first reasons are best known unto themselves.
By the second, for respects due to their patron.
By the fourth, if well considered, for many feminine and affected considerations. As the natural pity and consideration of women sympathising with his afflictions, with the sadness of his aspect, their facility with his complacences, their lenity with his pathetical oratory.
On the other side, there is a rigid, strong, and inflexible party, that say, if he be not found a traytor, the parliament must make him so for the interest of the publick.
And so I shall present you with the inclinations of another party, and of no despicable number of account, which pretend to have more solidity of judgment than to be carried away with private interest, partial respects, which seem to be touched with the King's, and the commons safety, and to be sensible of the commons sufferance.
And these commonly rip up his life and conversation together, with the progress of his estate and fortunes, and all concluding for his descent and family to be of the noblest and hig rank of gentry, under the degree of baronage; his patrimony so plentiful, as that it equalises most of the barons of the land; his education noble, and te these of his own acquisition of strong and able natural parts.
And, if the adage be true, that, Multa ex vultu dignoscuntur; and though they mark him for a wise and promising face, yet they unhappily observe in him a dark and promiscuous countenance, clouded, unlovely, and presaging an envious and cruel disposition. And this general query is made of him:
What was that, which he would have had, who, suspicion excepted, might have been a king at home, had not restless ambition, habituated in his nature, interrupted the course of his repose, and disordered the many helps he had to have lived in plenty, and died in felicity ?
But disquieted, as all ambition is turbulent, in his cogitations, and in his first exposition, agitated by the blasts of his own aspirings, it is said of him that in his own country he was transported by the violence of his will to carry all before him, and, come what would of it, to overthrow all that withstood him.
Of such predominant a pitch he was in his own constellation, and propension, which could not rest there, but must break out into a wider extent, for his thoughts soared so high, as men who knew him well affirmed, that he held himself injured by the state, that he came no sooner to the helm.
Whither to come, he journied through a wilderness of popular acclamations, and affected the dangerous name of fame, of being sovereign protector of the commonwealth.
For which he so much pretended, that in all parliaments he became another Jacques de Ortinel. And they aver it for truth, that, in those times, his intimate friends and associates thought it wisdom to shun his conversation, so forward he was in taxing the motions of the King and state.
And, as it is said, not without a malignant humour, and a repugnant spirit, always withstood the King's profit, and stinted the parliamentary contributions, at his own will and pleasure, crossing the designs of state, and infusing, by his stubborn example, a spirit of contradiction in the assemblies of these times; which how fatal they have been to ours, 1 leave to your judgment, and which hath ever since bred an aversion in his Majesty towards his people and his parliaments.
An office wherein they say he did far more misshief, than in this for which he stands now arraigned for his life,
And this is the description or abstract of the first part of his life, as he was the minion of the people, which, they say, he esteems as the folly of his youth. . May you now be pleased to receive something of his second act, as he was a minister of the King's, into whose service, as they say, and I think not untruly, he was purchased and bought from the affections of the people, at a higher price than all the privadoes of Edward the Second, and Richard the Second. For that this only man hath cost, and lost the King, and kingdom, more treasure and loyalty than Pierce, Gaveston, and the two Spencers, and the Marquis of Dublin, did ever cost, their being all put together.
And sure I am, it is the common opinion of the kingdoms, that should be be taken out of the hands of justice, and the revenge of the publick made frustrate, and the expectations of the three kingdoms disappointed, who hath invaded the whole, by the power of his counsels, and the parties, by the grievous oppressions of his Majesty's good people, wheresoever he had to do, they say, that his Majesty's dominions stand in greater danger and hazard, than ever; and, as it may fall out, to be of a more lamentable consequence than is fit to be expressed.
How fatal may one inan's ambition be, and his exorbitant humour, work towards the distraction of a state, which they do thus demonstrate by way of suspicion:
First, admitting the King's affections may be disposed, together with the great party, which he hath in the upper house, to acquit him and others.
And that, thereby the house of commons should hold themselves bound by the interest committed unto them by their countries, to make protestations against the lords.
What then may become of a divided body? Secondly, it is questioned, Whether any future subsidies will be granted, customs and impositions be paid the king, without any insurrection?
Thirdly, Whether the Scots will depart the kingdom; and, if they should, whether on good cause, they may not return, when they shall see a division tend to a fatal confusion, both in the heart of the state, and in the body of the kingdom, rather than they will give opportunity to the papists and libertines to come in for a share ?
Wherefore, it is generally concluded by the best and most impartial judgments, That there is no proportion between the riddance of a few monstrous and exorbitant members, and the general safety of the King and his kingdoms.
That there is a necessitated policy, that my Lord of Strafford, the bishop, and some others, should be given up as a just sacrifice, to ap
pease the people, and to make a compensation for the injury done to them and the publick,
And thus have you the second act of the great vice-roy's progress, with the opinion of all and the best judgments here about the town, which I find to be suitable to yours in the country.
In what State the three Kingdoms are in at this present.
Printed in the Year 1641. Quarto, containing eight pages.
S the faces of all Britain shew their hearts and inclinations, so if
their hearts were glazed with a chrystal, they would appear fearful of the future; were not the representive body of the state careful to cure the present malady, purge the distempered humours, and save the much gangrened body, by cutting some rotten and putrified members off, which infect, infest, and invade the republick; this makes me chearful to discover the conceptions of the wise, and not as an orator, but relate their opinion as their auditor: I hope it will take away from me ostentation, and trouble from the reader, even to give ease of discourse.
Their profound sighs, and earnest prayers, might quicken my ingeny, better than the sound of excellent instruments can revive the spirit; to present this with all obedience to my sovereign, and faith to the country, and declare what is convenient to be done at this time, submitting myself modestly to head and body.
Now if those streams of tears, and sweet perfumes, make not my pen fruitful and odoferous, pardon my rudeness, and consider the state we are now in.
When our miserable condition perceived, before the access of the universal body, by the wrinkles put on the brow of ruined affairs, counsel weakened, and reputation of state blasted, that the people cry out against such instruments; What miserable condition are we brought to ? Oh God! suffer not ill counsellors to be as a bad spleen, to swell so big as to make lean the commonwealth, that our empty purses be not filled with blood, though with tears; wherefore, I humbly beseech the head to produce such effect, the sun on moist and cold grounds; to reduce the general capacity, to such an influence of justice, peace, religion, and liberty; and that, in lieu thereof, the people may make a rich and potent king.
As all rivers return to the ocean, so shall the laybrinth, we are in, be by the help of wise Ariadne's escaped, and the golden fleece, continuance of gospel, justice, peace, and downy tranquillity, with the help of those godly Medea's, be preserved and procured : Therefore, not as a lawyer, give me leave as a well-wisher to the state, to put the case by way of supposition.
If the fundamental laws be quite overthrown, religion altered, the mobility taken away by councils of war, as the Lord Mount-Norris should have been; the meaner sort used as Prynne, Burton, and Bastwick; the propriety of goods taken away from the subject ; an army force an arbitrary way of government, and justice, bought and sold; what misery will follow, when the judges shall affirm it legal, the clergy wrongfully in their pulpits teach it, and the cabinet-council authorise the conveniency, for matter of state ? Therefore, to have our laws established, religion maintained, the pride of prelates abased, justice administered, liberty settled, and peace continued for after times : It is necessary, the King, lords, and commons join in a most severe punishment, that none, in the Postea, dare to enterprise, the surprise and ruin of the common good; for it is an infallible maxim, The King is richer in the hearts, than in the treasures of his subjects.
Surely there was never a fitter time, nor a more convenient occasion then now, when three kingdoms unite for their own safety; when the Scot hath an army on foot for this purpose, and the King hath promised they shall not be interrupted in their counsels, and God requires it for his glory.
Especially when ministers of state have begun to act this fatal tragedy, the guiltiness by so many lively testimonies proved, and the treason by precedents and weighty authority assured, by law maintained, and by all the commons-house adjudged: who have power by the 25th of Edward the Third; and when it is brought to so good a pass by the lords, who both have legislative power; why should not lords and commons bring it to perfection, that the King sign, that who shall dare to alter religion, innovate law, or take away liberty of the subject, be condignly punished, and, for the future, cause an express law to be made on purpose, to attaint blood, forfeit life, lands, and goods, if any shall essay such crying exorbitances ?
If by the law it be high treason to kill a commissioner of Oyer and Terminer, in time of justice; à majori, to confound the whole body, when a commissioner, is but one poor member of the body politick.
2. To make a law, that none be capable of any place of government, that hath, or shall give such counsel, and leave the rest to the triennial parliament, and not grasp too much, lest all the harpies fly away.
Likewise, it is necessary to make a remonstrance of the necessity of giving 300,000 pounds, to the Scots, to give satisfaction to future ages, that it was no pusillanimity, but upom mature deliberation; because the evident necessity, and inevitable dangers cast upon us by ill counsel, justly caused it.
To the purpose, the house of commons hath done wisely, to endeavour to clip the wings of the clergy, that they may fly into no temporal