Billeder på siden

An anecdote respecting him, in Lilly the astrologer's Life, will elucidate his self-importance in a tragedy, where he was not allowed to act any part beyond that of a horn-blower.

"Just before the King's Tryal," Lilly says, "in Christmas holy-day, the Lord Grey (of Groby and HUGH PETERS sent for me to Somerset-house, with directions to bring them two of my Almanacks. I did so. Peters and he read January's observations.

"If we are not fools and knaves, said he, we shall DO JUSTICE! Then they whispered: I understood not their meaning till his Majesty WAS BEHEADED ! *

"They applied what I wrote of JUSTICE to be understood of his Majesty, which was contrary to my wishes; for JUPITER, the first day of January, became direct, and LIBRA is a sign signifying justice!

"I had not then heard the least intimation of bringing the King unto his tryal, and yet the first day thereof I was casually there, it being upon a Saturday; for, going to Westminster every Saturday upon the afternoon, in these times, I CASUALLY met Peters. Come, LILLY; wilt thou go hear the King try'd?' 'When?' said I. Now, just now; go with me!'"+

Lilly must have been intent indeed upon the stars, all the week, never to have heard a word about this trial, with which "All England rung from side to side,"

till, "casually," (for the stars unaccountably gave him no notice,) on the very day, and at the very hour, he met Peters!

I have observed elsewhere, that ASTROLOGY seems a natural part of Predestinarianism- being both derived from Chaldea, and part of the Oriental system, of two principles, of Good and EVIL, contending like the good and evil genii of Oriental tales. Cicero exactly describes the astrology of the times of Lilly, in

*This whispering of the two conspirators is marvellously like the whispers of the two conspirators in the Rehearsal. + Lilly's Life.

his book De Divinatione, chap. i. And Horace, speaking of the same astrology applied to DESTINY, says, Nec BABYLONIOS

Tentaris numeros,

meaning, by "numeros," not numbers, but figures of astrology. The battle of Dunbar was determined by Lilly's prophecies; for, at the onset, when each party had "sought the Lord," and the Lord had answered each, that he would surely deliver their enemies into their hand! a soldier was posted, with Lilly's Almanack in his hand, as the troops marched on, and cried, "Hear what Lilly says! hear what Lilly says!"

JOICE, EXECUTIONER OF CHARLES THE FIRST. There is a very curious account respecting the Executioner of the King, on the 30th of January, in Lilly's Life. Lilly could have had no motive for saying what he did, but he seems to have related faithfully what he heard and believed; and Cornet JOICE, among those great actors of the bloody drama, receiving his MASTER OF ARTS DEGREE AT Oxford, under the Saints, seems to me an extraordinary corroboration of the truth of Lilly's account, which is as follows:

"In June of that year (1660) a new Parliament was called, whereunto I was unwillingly invited by two messengers of the Serjeant at Arms. The matter whereupon I was taken into custody was, to examine me concerning the person who cut off the King's head, viz. the late King's, &c. At last, I desired to be fully heard, &c. and liberty being given me to speak, I related what follows:

"That, the next Sunday but one after Charles the First was beheaded, Robert Spavin, Secretary to Lieutenant-Colonel Cromwell at the time, invited himself to dine with me, and brought Antony Peirson, and several others, along with him to dinner: That their principal discourse all dinner-time was only who it was that beheaded the King; one said it was the common hangman, another HUGH PETERS, &c. Robert Spavin, as

[ocr errors]

soon as dinner was done, took me by the hand, and carried me to the South window- These are all mistaken; they have not named the man that did the fact it was Lieutenant-Colonel JOICE! I was in the room when he fitted himself for the work; STOOD BEHIND him when he did it; when done, went in again with him. There's no man knows this but my master, Crom well, Commissioner Ireton, and myself. Doth not Mr. Rushworth know it?' said I. No, he doth not know it,' said Spavin. The same thing Spavin since hath often related to me, when alone."*

[ocr errors]

It is a curious circumstance that high words passed between Joice and Cromwell, LORD PROTECTOR! Joice spoke of his "services," when Cromwell bid him "BE GONE!"


I have thrown out an idea that Milton was the first to suggest the trial of the King. The idea of an august national exhibition, in which a King should hold up his hand and plead guilty or not guilty, to his subjects whom he had sworn to govern according to Law, I cannot conceive at first entered into the ideas of those who, in possessing the person of the King, sought only to gain additional strength against the Parliament. The bloody Harrison offered to assassinate him, after he had sought the Lord! From the time when his chaplains and children were permitted to see him, there seems to have arisen an after-thought in the Leaders of the army. Their language, on a sudden, was changed; some awful event seemed to take possession of their minds; and from this time no concession had any weight with them. Such an idea as a public trial for offences against the Laws of a King, responsible to that great Nation, never could have occurred, except to the

* Lilly's Life, page 90; London, printed for J. Roberts, Warwick-lane, 1715.

thought of him who could thus powerfully, in his own words, describe the spectacle. I adjoin the translation from "Defensio Populi Anglicani : "

"I am about to discourse of matters neither inconsiderable nor common, but how a MOST POTENT KING, after he had TRAMPLED UPON THE LAWS OF THE NATION, AND GIVEN A SHOCK TO ITS RELIGION, AND BEGUN TO RULE AT HIS OWN WILL AND PLEASURE, was at last subdued in the field by his own subjects, who had undergone a long slavery under him; how afterwards he was cast into prison, and when he gave no ground, either by words or actions, to hope better things of him, he was finally by the SUPREME COUNCIL OF

THE KINGDOM CONDEMNED TO DIE, AND BEHEADED BEFore THE VERY GATES OF THE ROYAL PALACE! I shall likewise relate (which will much conduce to the easing men's minds of a great superstition) by WHAT RIGHT, especially according to OUR LAW, this JUDGMENT WAS GIVEN, and all these matters transacted; and shall easily defend my valiant and worthy countrymen, (who have extremely well deserved of all subjects and nations in the world,) from the most wicked calumnies both of domestic and foreign railers, and especially from the reproaches of this most vain and empty sophister,* who sets up for a captain and ringleader to all the rest. For what king's majesty, sitting upon an exalted throne, ever shone so brightly as that of the people of England then did, when, shaking off that old superstition, which had prevailed a long time, they gave judgment upon the king himself, or rather upon an enemy who had been their king, caught as it were in a net by his own laws, (who alone of all mortals challenged to himself impunity by a divine right,) and scrupled not to inflict the same punishment upon him, being guilty, which he would have inflicted upon any other? But why do I mention these things as performed by the people, which almost open their voice themselves, and testify the presence of God throughout? who, as often as it seems good to his infinite wisdom, uses to throw

* Salmasius.

down proud and unruly kings, exalting themselves above the condition of human nature, and utterly to extirpate them and all their family. By his manifest impulse being set on work to recover our almost lost liberty, following him as our guide, and adoring the impresses of his divine power manifested upon all occasions, we went on in no obscure but an illustrious passage, pointed out and made plain to us by God himself. Which things, if I should so much as hope, by any diligence or ability of mine, such as it is, to discourse of as I ought to do, and to commit them so to writing as that perhaps all nations and all ages may read them, it would be a very vain thing in me. For what style can be august and magnificent enough, what man has parts sufficient TO UNDERTAKE SO GREAT A TASK?”*

Be it always remembered that Milton was appointed Latin Secretary before, not after he wrote the "Defensio," with the salary of two hundred pounds a-year.

At the close of the war, Milton, who had lent his money, according to Dr. Johnson, to the triumphant party, was utterly neglected by Presbyterians and Independants; but we know he was suddenly called into a high official station by Cromwell.

It is extraordinary that Johnson, in Milton's Life, should have passed over the circumstance that his Tutor was one of the writers of "Smectymnuus."


The account of Cheynell insulting the remains of the great Chillingworth, would not be believed had not that account been written and published by himself. From the Life in Wood I shall extract this description :

"It must be now known, that, in the beginning of the civil dissensions, our author CHILLINGWORTH suffered much for the KING'S CAUSE, and being forced to go from place to place for succour, as opportunity served, went at length to

* Defensio.

« ForrigeFortsæt »