Skip to main content

Eikon Basilike: Ch. 4

Upon the Insolency of the Tumults.

I NEVER thought anything (except our sins) more ominously presaging all these mischeifes, which have followed, then those Tumults in London and Westminster, soone after the Convening of this Parliament; which were not like a storm at Sea, (which yet wants not its terror) but like an Earth-quake, shaking the very foundations of all; then which nothing in the world hath more of horrour.

As it is one of the most convincing Arguments that there is a God, while his power sets bounds to the raging of the Sea: so tis no lesse, that he restraines the madnesse of the people. Nor doth any thing portend more Gods displeasure against a Nation, then when he suffers the confluence and clamours of the vulgar, to passe all boundaries of Lawes, and reverence to Authority.

Which those Tumults did to so high degrees of Insolence, that they spared not to invade the Honour and Freedome of the two Houses, menacing, reproaching, shaking, yea, & assaulting some Members of both Houses, as they fancyed, or disliked them: Nor did they forbear most rude and unseemly deportments both in contemptuous words and actions, to My selfe and My Court.

Nor was this a short fit or two of shaking, as an ague, but a quotidian feaver, alwaies encreasing to higher inflammations, impatient of any mitigation, restraint, or remission.

First, they must be a guard against those feares, which some men scared themselves and others withall; when indeed nothing was more to be feared and lesse to be used by wise men, then those tumultuary confluxes of meane and rude people, who are taught first to petition, then to protect, then to dictate, at last to command and overawe the Parliament.

All obstructions in Parliament (that is, all free-dome of differing in Votes, and debating matters with reason and candour) must be taken away with these Tumults: by these must the Houses be purged, and all rotten Members (as they pleased to count them) cast out: by these the obstinacy of men resolved to discharge their Consciences must be subdued, by these all factious, seditious, and schismaticall proposalls against Government Ecclesiasticall or Civil, must be backed and abetted, till they prevailed.

Generally, who ever had most mind to bring forth confusion and ruine upon Church and State, used the midwifery of those Tumults: whose riot and impatience was such, that they would not stay the ripening and season of Counsels, or fair production of Acts, in the order, gravity, and deliberatenesse befitting a Parliament; but ripped up with barbarous cruelty, and forcibly cut out abortive Votes, such as their Inviters and Incouragers most fancyed.

Yea, so enormous and detestable were their outrages, that no sober man could be without an infinite shame and sorrow to see them so tolerated, and connived at by some, countenanced, incouraged and applauded by others.

What good man had not rather want anything he most desired, for the Publique good, then obtaine it by such unlawfull and irreligious meanes? But mens passions and Gods directions seldome agree; violent designes and motions must have sutable engines, such as too much attend their owne ends, seldome confine themselves to Gods meanes. Force must crowd in what Reason will not lead.

Who were the chief Demagogues and Patrones of Tumults, to send for them, to flatter and embolden them, to direct' and tune their clamorous importunities, some men yet living are too conscious to pretend ignorance: God in his due time will let these see, that those were no fit meanes to be used for attaining his ends.

But, as it is no strange thing for the Sea to rage, when strong winds blow upon it; so neither for Multitudes to become insolent, when they have Men of some reputation for parts and piety to set them on.

That which made their rudenesse most formidable, was, that many Complaints being made, and Messages sent by My selfe and some of both Houses; yet no order for redresse could be obtained with any vigour and efficacy, proportionable to the malignity of that now far-spread disease, and predominant mischiefe.

Such was some mens stupidity, that they feared no inconvenience; Others petulancy, that they joyed to see their betters shamefully outraged, and abused, while they knew their only security consisted in vulgar flattery: so insensible were they of Mine, or the two Houses common safety and Honours.

Nor could ever any order be obtained, impartially to examine, censure, and punish the knowne Bou-tefeus, and impudent Incendiaries, who boasted of the influence they had, and used to convoke those Tumults as their advantages served.

Yea, some (who should have been wiser Statesmen) owned them as friends, commending their Courage, Zeale, & Industry; which to sober men could seem no better then that of the Devil, who goes about seeking whom he may deceive, and devoure.

I confesse, when I found such a deafnesse, that no Declaration from the Bishops, who were first fouly insolenced and assaulted; nor yet from other Lords and Gentlemen of Honour; nor yet from My self could take place for the due repression of these Tumults; and securing not onely Our freedome in Parliament, but Our very Persons in the streets; I thought My selfe not bound by My presence, to provoke them to higher boldnesse and contempts; I hoped by My withdrawing to give time, both for the ebbing of their tumultuous fury, and others regaining some degrees of modesty and sober sense.

Some may interpret it as an effect of Pusillanimity for any man for popular terrours to desert his publique station. But I think it a hardinesse, beyond true valourShowing great courage in the face of danger., for a wise man to set him self against the breaking in of a Sea; which to resist, at present, threatens imminent danger; but to withdraw, gives it space to spend its fury, and gaines a fitter time to repaire the breach. Certainly a Gallant man had rather fight to great disadvantages for number and place in the field, in an orderly way, then skuffle with an undisciplined rabble.

Some suspected and affirmed that I meditated a Warre, (when I went from Whitehall onely to redeem My Person, and Conscience from violence) God knowes I did not then think of a Warre. Nor will any prudent man conceive that I would by so many former, and some after Acts, have so much weakned My selfe, if I had purposed to engage in a Warre, which to decline by all meanes, I denyed My self in so many particulars: 'Tis evident I had then no Army to flie unto, for protection, or vindication.

Who can blame Me, or any other, for a withdrawing our selves from the daily baitings of the Tumults, not knowing whether their fury and discontent might not flie so high, as to worry and teare those in pieces, whom as yet they but played with in their pawes of God, who is My sole Judge, is My Witnesse in Heaven, that I never had any thoughts of going from My House at Whitehall, if I could have had but any reasonable faire Quarter; I was resolved to beare much, and did so, but I did not think My self bound to prostitute the Majesty of my Place and Person, the safety of My Wife and Children, to those, who are prone to insult most, when they have objects and opportunity most capable of their rudenesse and petulancy. But this businesse of the Tumults (whereof some have given already an account to God, others yet living know themselves desperately guilty) Time and the guilt of many hath so smothered up, and buried, that I think it best to leave it, as it is; Onely I believe the just Avenger of all disorders, will in time make those men, and that City, see their sinne in the glasse of their punishment. 'Tis more then an even-lay that they may one day see themselves punished by that way they offended.

Had this Parliament, as it was in its first Election and ConstitutionA body of fundamental principles and established precedents by which a state governs itself; or the composition of something., sate full and free, the Members of both Houses being left to their freedome of Voting, as in all reason, honour, and Religion, they should have been; I doubt not but things would have been so carried, as would have given no lesse content to all good men, then they wished or expected.

For, I was resolved to heare reason in all things, and to consent to it so farre as I could comprehend it: but as Swine are to Gardens and orderly Plantations, so are Tumults to Parliaments, and Plebeian concourses to publique Councels, turning all into disorders and sordid confusions.

I am prone sometimes to think, That had I called this Parliament to any other place in England (as I might opportunely enough have done) the sad consequences in all likelyhood, with Gods blessing, might have been prevented. A Parliament would have been welcome in any place; no place afforded such confluence of various and vitious humours, as that where it was unhappily convened. But we must leave all to God, who orders our disorders, and magnifies his wisdome most, when our follies and miseries are most discovered.

But thou O Lord art My refuge and defence, to thee I may safely flie, who rulest the raging of the Sea, and the madnesse of the People.

The flouds, O Lord, the flouds are come in upon me, and are ready to overwhelme me.

I looke upon My sinnes, and the sinnes of My people, (which are the tumults of our soules against thee O Lord) as the just cause of these popular inundations which thou permittest to overbeare all the banks of loyalty, modesty, Lawes, Justice, and Religion.

But thou that gatheredst the waters into one place, and madest the dry land to appeare, and after did'st asswage the floud which drowned the world, by the word of thy power; Rebuke those beasts of the people, and deliver Me from the rudenesse and strivings of the multitude.

Restore, we beseech thee, unto us, the freedomes of our Councels and Parliaments, make us unpassionately to see the light of Reason, and Religion, and with all order, and gravity to follow it, as it becomes Men and Christians; so shall we praise thy name, who art the God of order and counsell.

What man cannot, or will not represse, thy omnipotent Justice can and will.

O Lord, give them that are yet living, a timely sense and sorrow for their great sinne, whom thou knowest guilty of raising or not suppressing those disorders: Let shame here, and not suffering hereafter be their punishment.

Set bounds to our passions by Reason, to our errours by Truth, to our seditions by Lawes duely executed, and to our schismes by Charity, that we may be, as thy Jerusalem, a City at unity in it selfe.

This grant, O My God, in thy good time for Jesus Christs sake, Amen.