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days to prepare for the execution of the sentence. All that remained of his family now in England were the princess Elizabeth, and the duke of Gloucester, a child of eight years of age. After many seasonable and sensible exhortations to his daughter, he took his little son in his arms, and, embracing him, “My child,” said he, “they will cut off thy father's head; yes, they will cut off my head, and make thee a king. But mark what I say; thou must not be a king as long as thy brothers Charles and James are alive. They will cut off their heads when they can take them, and thy head too they will cut off at last, and therefore I charge thee do not be made a king by them.” The child, bursting into tears, replied, “I will be torn in pieces first.” Every night, during the interval between his sentence and execution, the king slept soundly as usual, though the noise of the workmen, employed in framing the scaffold, continually resounded in his ears. The fatal morning being at last arrived, he rose early, and calling one of his attendants, he bade him employ more than usual care in dressing him, and preparing him for so great and joyful a solemnity. The street before Whitehall was the place destined for his execution; for it was intended that this should increase the severity of his punishment. He was led through the Banqueting-house to the scaffold adjoining to that edifice, attended by his friend and servant bishop Juxon, a man endowed with the mild and steady virtues of his master. The scaffold, which was covered with black, was guarded by a regiment of soldiers under the command of colonel Tomlinson; and on it were to be seen the block, the axe, and two executioners in masques. The people in great crowds stood at a greater distance, in dreadful expectation of the event. The king surveyed all these solemn preparations with calm composure; and as he could not expect to be heard by the people at a distance, he addressed himself to the few persons who stood round him. He there justified his own innocence in the late fatal wars; and observed, that he had not taken arms till after the parliament had shown him the example; that he had no other object in his warlike preparations than to preserve that authority entire which had been transmitted to him by his ancestors; but, though innocent towards his people, he acknowledged the equity of his execution in the eyes of his Maker. He owned that he was justly punished for having consented to the execution of an unjust sentence upon the earl of Strafford. He forgave all his enemies, exhorted the people to return to their obedience, and acknowledged his son as his successor; and signified his attachment to the protestant religion as professed in the church of England. So strong was the impression his dying words made upon the few who could hear him, that colonel Tomlinson himself, to whose care he had been committed, acknowledged himself a convert. While he was preparing himself for the block, bishop Juxon called out to him: “There is, sir, but one stage more, which, though turbulent and troublesome, is yet a very short one. It will soon carry you a great way: it will carry you from earth to heaven; and there you will find, to your great joy, the prize to which you hasten—a crown of glory.” “I go,” replied the king, * from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can have place.” “You exchange,” replied the bishop, “a temporal for an eternal crown— a good exchange.” Charles, having taken off his cloak, delivered his George to the prelate, pronouncing the word, “Remember.” Then he laid his neck on the block; and, when he had stretched out his hands as a signal, one of the executioners severed his head from WOL. II, T
his body at a blow, while the other, holding it up, exclaimed, “This is the head of a traitor!”. The spectators testified their horror at the sad spectacle in sighs, tears, and lamentations; the tide of their duty and affection began to return, and each blamed himself either for active disloyalty to his king, or a passive compliance with his destroyers. The very pulpits, that used to resound with insolence and sedition, were now bedeved with tears of unfeigned repentance; and all united in their detestation of those dark hypocrites, who, to satisfy their own enmity, involved a whole nation in the guilt of treason. Jan. 30, Charles was executed in the forty-ninth year 1649. of his age, and the twenty-fourth of his reign. He was of a middling stature, robust, and well proportioned. His visage was pleasing, but melancholy; and it is probable that the continual troubles in which he was involved might have made that impression on his countenance. As for his character, the reader will deduce it with more precision and satisfaction to himself from the detail of his conduct, than from any summary given of it by the historian. It will suffice to say, that all his faults seem to have arisen from the error of his education; while all his virtues (and he possessed many) were the genuine offspring of his heart. He lived at a time when the established exercise of the prerogative was at variance with the genius of the people; and, governing by old rules and precedents, instead of accommodating himself to the changes of the times, he fell, and drew down, as he sunk, the constitution in ruins round him. Many kings before him expired by treason or assassination; but never, since the times of Agis the Lacedaemonian, was there any other sacrificed by his subjects with all the formalities of justice. Many were the miseries sustained by the nation in bringing this monarch to the block; and more were yet to be endured previous to the settlement of the constitution: yet these struggles were ultimately productive of domestic happiness and security; the laws became more precise, the monarch's privileges better ascertained, and the subject's duty better delineated; all became more peaceable, as if a previous fermentation in the constitution was necessary for its subsequent refineIment.
CRomwell, who had secretly solicited and contrived the king's death, now began to feel wishes to which he had been hitherto a stranger, His prospects widening as he rose, his first principles of liberty were all lost in the unbounded stretch of power that lay before him. When the peers met on the day appointed in their adjournment, they entered upon business, and sent down some votes to the commons, of which the latter deigned not to take the least notice. In a few days after, the commons voted that the house of lords, being useless and dangerous, should be abolished. They voted it high-treason to acknowledge Charles Stuart, son of the late king, as successor to the throne. A great seal was made, on one side of which were engraven the arms of England and Ireland, with this inscription: “The great seal of England.” On the reverse was represented the house of commons sitting, with this motto: “In the first year of freedom, by God's blessing restored, 1648.” The forms of all public business were changed from the king's name to that of the keepers of the liberties of England. The triumphant party now proceeded to try those gallant men, whose attachment to their late sovereign had been the most remarkable. The duke of Hamilton and lord Capel were condemned and executed; the earl of Holland lost his life by a like sentence; the earl of Norwich and sir John Owen were condemned, but afterwards pardoned by the commons. The Scots, who had in the beginning shown themselves so averse to the royal family, having by a long train of success totally suppressed all insurrections in its favour, now began to relent from their various persecutions. Their loyalty began to return; and the insolence of the independents, with their victories, served to inflame them still more. The execution of their favourite duke Hamilton also, who was put to death not only in defiance of the laws of war, but of nations, was no small vexation; they therefore determined to acknowledge prince Charles for their king. But their love of liberty was still predominant, and seemed to combat with their manifold resentments. At the same time that they resolved upon raising him to the throne, they abridged his power with every limitation which they had attempted to impose on their late sovereign. Charles, after the death of his father, having passed some time at Paris, and finding no prospect of assistance from that quarter, was glad to accept of any conditions. He possessed neither the virtues nor the constancy of his father; and, being attached to no religion as yet, he agreed to all their proposals, being satisfied with even the formalities of royalty. It is remarkable, that, while the Scots were thus inviting their king over, they were, nevertheless, cruelly punishing those who had adhered to his cause, Among others, the marquis