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KING CHARLES I.
WRITTEN BY A FRIEND.
În former times, when wit was no offence, Heroes and patriots, hypocrites and saints;
in each pathetic scene, Here oft the villain's conscious blush would rise, Our muse, to-night, asserts an honest mean; And fools become, by viewing folly, wise. Shows you a prince triumphant o'er his fate, Our bard, as then, despises song and dance, Glorious in death, as in misfortunes great ; The notes of Italy, and jigs of France:
By nature virtuous, though misled by slaves, With home di stress he nobly hopes to move, By tools of power, by sycophants and knaves, And fire each bosom with its country's love- When Charles submits to faction's deadly blow, So much a Briton-that he scorns to roam What loyal heart but shares the monarch's woe? To foreign cli mes, to fetch his hero home- Nor less Maria's grief, ye gentle fair, Conscious that in these scenes is clearly shewn Claims the sad tribute of a tender tear. Britain can boast true heroes of her own. From British scenes to-night we hope applause, Murder avowed by law he boldly paints,
And Britons sure will aid a British cause.
Of Alpine hill, clad with slow-wasting snow ; SCENE I.
His execution rapid as the force
Of falling waters thund’ring down its base. Enter Bishop Juxon and Duke of RICHMOND. Let us avoid him ; for my conscious soul Jur. Good day, my lord, if, in a time like Fears him in wonder, and in praise condemns him. this,
(Ereunt. Aught that is fortunate or good can happen;
with Crom. Now through the maze of gloomy policy ruin:
Has fire-eyed faction worked her way to light, Plenty is fled with justice ; rage and rapine And deck'd ambition in the robe of power. Have robb’d the widow'd matron, England, quite, Our fears in Charles's safety are remov'd, And left her now no dowry-but her tears. And but one blow remains to fix our state
Rich. Is it then certain that the lawless com- The lopping off his head. No more the royal Have formed a court of justice (so they call it) Shall, from legitimacy's root, presume To bring the king to trial ?
To sprout forth tyrant branches. CommonJur. 'Tis most true;
Down with nobility—the commons rule!
doubts, Was thy ill-fated field to royalty!
Which, in the uncertainty of these strange times, On thy success depended monarchy;
Call for the ray of clearness, make me press The fate of rebels and the fate of kings
(Perhaps unseasonably) to your ear. Hung on thy battle: but thou, faithless too, You will forgive the impatience of a man Conspir'd with faction to o'erthrow us all, Who labours to be right-by your example. And bring to sight these more than bloody times. Crom. Good Fairfax, spare me; I am ill at Jur. To-morrow does the black tribunal sit
words, When majesty is cited to appear
And utter badly where I mean respect : Before his tyrant subjects. Oh, preposterous ! Uncouth my answers are to truth and plainness; Is't not as bad as if these rebel hands
But to a compliment I ne'er could speak: Should from their seats tear forth their ruling Yet could you look into my secret mind, eyes,
my soul speaks to Fairfax as to one Whose watch directs the body's use and safety ? Book'd in the fairest page of my esteem,
Rich. It cannot be! 'Tis not in cruelty And written on my heart-But to your doubts.' To think of spilling royal blood. Mercy, sure, Fair. You may remember, sir, when first my And the pretended justice of their cause,
sword, Will save them from the weight of so much guilt. My fortune, life, and still, yet more my honour, Jur. What added guilt can that black bosom Were all engag'd to fight the cause of justice; feel,
You thought, with me, the wrongs to be redress'd That has shook off allegiance to its king? Were the attempts upon the subjects' right, Whole seas of common and of noble blood The unregarded laws, and bold design Will not suffice; the banquet must be crown'd, To stretch prerogative to boundless rule. And the brain heated with the blood of kings. Design full fair and noble! and th'event But see where Cromwell comes ! upon his brow Has crown'd our utmost wishes. England owns Dissimulation stamp'd. If I can judge
No arbitrary sway; the king's adherents
And blend discretion with success.
When they determin'd to abolish kings, And what the world may yet expect of Pairfax.
And should be seiz'd on by the bold and worthy. Crowns, as the gift of men, men may resume ;
Fair. You talk in clouds above my purpose But life, the gift of Heaven, let Heaven dispose of. quite; Crom. Well have you weigh'd each growing Which was but to enforce the cause of mercy, circumstance,
And show how much is gain’d by stopping here; And held discretion in the nicest scale.
To tell you what my conscience makes opinion, Our fears remov'd, the subjects' rights restor'd, And strengthen that opinion by your voice. What have we more to do, than to sit down, Crom. 'Tis true indeed—I had forgot myself; And each enjoy the vineyard of his toil? But whither was I hurried in my zeal? 'Tis true—but yet some clamours are abroad; E'en I can descant on a pleasing theme : Petitions daily crowd the parliament,
Can you forgive me? though 'tis hard indeed : That loudly call for justice on the king,
Exalted virtue can with ease forgive Imputing to his charge the guilt of murders, A calumny, but not a praise.--No more. The desolation that has bared the land,
Heav'n can witness for me, with what true accord And swept the crops of plenty from our fields. My thoughts meet yours ! how willing I would Fair. What, shall the rabble judge—those ser- stop
The arm of violence, and make the law, Who, as they eat in plenty, snarl sedition ? Stern as she is, assume a face of smiles. Are these to be regarded?
The death of Charles is far from my designCrom. You mistake me.
And yet the general outcry is for justice: 'Tis not their outcries only; but, indeed, He has been much to blame, you know he has ; Those who see farther, and with better judgment, And (but I soften those unruly thoughts) Fear, while he lives, his friends will never die ; Were I to speak the dictates of my heart, But, by some foreign force or home design, I could not find a punishment too great, May some time shake the safety of the state. To fall upon the man, who should, like Charles, Besides, they speak of an approv'd good maxim, Forget all right, and waste with lavish hand Remove the cause, and the effect will cease. The rich revenue of his people's love. Oh, worthy Fairfax, thou art wise and valiant ! Fair. Dearly he suffers for misguided steps, I have seen thee watch occasion, till advantage And knows that misery he meant to give; Came smiling to thy arms, and crown'd thy pa- He feels the bondage he design’d for us, tience :
And by the want of freedom counts its value. And then, in fight, I have beheld thy sword Crom. I pity him; and would the commons Outfly the pace of pestilential air,
think with me, And kill in multitudes.
He were as safe as Cromwell ; and, brave Fair. Fair. Good sir, forbear.
fax, Crom. Blush not to hear a truth, when Crom. We will endeavour it; and may that power, well speaks it :
Whose arm has fought the battle of our cause, My uncouth manner, ill at varnishing,
Incline them all to think like you-or me! (Aside. Beggars my will, and dresses praise uncomely. I will about it. Yet remember, Fairfax, Methinks I see thee in the rage of battle, The posture of these times: consider too, When Naseby's field confess'd thy victor arm, How great your expectations ought to be: and thy decision was the fate of kings.
Would Fairfax listen to the voice of Cromwell, Methinks I view thee in the bustling ranks, He should have nearer hopes than Charles's life: Where danger was the nearest for you brought Somewhat as great as your desert should crowoit)
you, Unhelm'd, encounter armies, and despise
And make you partner of the highest honours. The safety that the meanest soldier wore ;
(Erit. And when a private man, with bold assertion, Fair. The highest honours ! what can CromChalleng’d a conquest which your arm had gain'd,
well mean? And was reprov'd; methinks, I hear you say, Acquit me, Heav'n! I fought not but for justice; I have enough of glory, let him own it.
Rage fir'd me not, nor did ambition blind; Fair. Whither does all this tend? I pray for. No party led me, and no interest bound;
My tie was conscience, and my cause was free I never fought in hopes to have it told :
dom. The man whose actions speak, expects no answer.
When Fairfax listens to another call,
And since expell’d the house. Independency Enter IRETON.
Roots itself fast; while presbytery force Ire. Fairfax, Icome, commission’d by the army, Withers unseen. Would Fairfax had been ours! To know your pleasure, if you think it meet Ire. I cannot see that his adherence to us That they should march and quarter nearer Lou- Could prosper much our cause, or his defection don :
Make us decline one moment from our purpose. The public safety makes it requisite,
Crom. You mistake, Ireton: Fairfax stands the But they attend your orders ere they move.
first Fair. The public safety! Say what new alarm, In interest with the very men I hate : What danger so awakes security,
Therefore his joint endeavour would be found That in her fright she thus lays hold of caution? The easiest means to bring my point to bear;
Ire. The safety of the cornmons, of yourself, Besides, he stands the fairest in the love Of the high court of justice; who to-morrow Of our whole party. Were we link'd together, Against a tyrant proves the people's power, The army too were ours; and their keen swords And brings offending majesty to justice : Are powerful arguments. We shall thrive, howThis may excite his yet remaining friends, Arm’d with despair, to some attempt of danger. I have it He shall hence, and on an expedition Who can be too secure? The man whose pillow Not the most just; I know his squeamish honour, Prevention guards, may sleep in ease and safety. If it surmise an action the least tainted,
Fair. To bring offending majesty to justice? Will throw up this employment: then 'tis mine : Ire. To the scaffold.
And while I have dame fortune, she shall please Fair. Ha ! Ire. Why do you start?
Ire. But the main turn of all your enterprise Fair. Your zeal too much transports you. Hangs on to-morrow, on the death of Charles : Ireton, farewell—and let me gain belief, 'Tis from his scaffold only you must mount When I affirm this moral to thy ear :
To what your wishes aim at.
I know to work-- Those who love piety,
I with the vehemence of prayer encounter,
There is another sort-but they are easy; Hear my design (for still my heart is thine). Your honest men, who never wear distrust; The commons most are ours: the weeder's care For honesty's the jaundice of the mind, Has, from the garden of our enterprize, That makes us think our neighbours like ourThrown out the rubbish that disgrac'd the soil,
selves : And now our growth looks timely. This you saw, Let us together. Ireton, here it lies; When by my means a hundred doubted members When focis believe, wise men are sure to rise. Were by the army seiz'd upon their entrance,
Ere I would press upon your privacy ;
If love has conquer'd, love may be forgiven. Enter FAIRFAX.
The faults of tenderness (if faults they are) : Fair. Oh, glory! how deceitful is thy view! E’en in offending wear the seal of pardon. Such are thy charms, that o'er th' uncertain way Why are you thus alone ; and why thus chang'd? Of vice or faction, thou, to hide the danger, Fair. My gentle lady, thoughts of deep conDost to the outward eye show fair appearance ;
cern, Which, when the follower steps on, down he That to the last recesses of my soul sinks,
Travel, with pain and penitence their guides, And then too late looks backward on the path At length have found the company they like; Of long neglected virtue.
Busy reflection, and moping melancholy,
And silence, the sure guard that keeps the door. Enter Lady FAIRFAX.
Lady Fuir. I cannot blame your griefs, but Lady Fair. My dearest Fairfax, call not this come to share them. intrusion;
Indeed the cause is just : but, good my lord, Long has obedience combated with love, Let not despair take hold of that brave heart,
And boast a conquest which your foes ne'er | And be their threats the safety of the king. could.
Fair. Betray my trust! Thou canst not mean If (as I long have thought) the king be wrong'd,
such baseness. Seek to redress, and not lament his fortunes. Should I (which much I doubt, for Cromwell's I am a woman, not design'd for war;
faction Yet could this hand (weak as you think its grasp,) Equals my power, and more, among the soldiers) Nervd by my heart's companion, resolution, Make them revolt, what would my conscience Display the royal banner in the field, And shame the strength of manhood in this 'Twould be a mountain crime, a molehill good. cause.
The whiteness of my fair design to Charles, Forgive this warmth: I ne'er till now, my lord, Spread o'er the visage of the means that gave it, Gave you unask'd my thoughts ; but I perceive Like thinnest lawn upon an Æthiop face, Your heart is wounded, and I came to heal it; Would cover, not conceal, the blackness. No, To offer you the balm of wholesome counsel, And temper my persuasion with my love. Virtue and baseness never meet together. Fair. Thou hast been more than I could hope Enter Bishop Juxon and Duke of RICHMOND.
in woman; Thy beauty thy least excellence. Thou appearest Jur. A mournful errand, good my lord of Like a fair tree, the glory of the plain,
Fairfax, The root thy honour, and the trunk thy friend. Makes us thus rude.—My gentle lady, stay; ship,
Your voice will help the music of our plaint, (That stands the rudest blast of cold adversity), And swell the notes to moving melody: From whence branch out a thousand different IIl-fated Charles, deserted as he is, boughs;
Lives in your fair report (or fame has err'd); Candour, humility, and angel truth,
Join in our concert, as you are next his heart, And every leaf a virtue. True, my love, You know to touch the string that sounds to While I conceived our liberties in danger,
pity. I fought in their defence; but cannot bear Fair. My lords, I guess your purpose, and asThis bold design upon the life of Charles.
sure you, We took up arms to keep the law entire, If my persuasion or my wish avail, Not to defend its open violation.
Charles feels no stroke till nature gives the blow. Lady Fair. I know thy honest heart, it hates Long may the fruit of health adorn the tree, a wrong:
And ripen with his years in warmer times ! 'Twas principle, not party, urged thee on
Rich. 'Tis truly spoke, my lord, and worthy To fight their cause: but Cromwell's specious
Whom I have still considered in this light; Pervert the justice of thy fair designs,
As nobly just, and but at worst misled. And make thy virtue pander to bis will
Jur. How would this man adorn the royal Fair. Cromwell has art but still I think
cause, him honest:
Who makes rebellion wear the face of virtue! Yet in our late discourse his speech, methought,
(Aside to RICHMOND. Appear'd disjointed; and he wav'd the theme How I am pleas'd to hear you I spoke about the safety of the king.
And strive for its prevention-let these speakAt parting too, his words betray'd a purpose
(Weeps. Beyond the limits of a commonwealth;
These eyes must else have known the dismal ofAnd talk'd of highest honours—but I hope
fice That my suspicions wrong, him.
To see the widow's and the orphan's sorrows; Lady Fair. No, my lord;
Complaint had been my language, care my bed,
You will behold it of so vast a value,
It will outweigh th' offences of your life.
I had done all within my feeble power;
Yet think what outeries din the parliament, Fair. Wait upon them hither ;
How many zealots call aloud for justice! I guess at their desires, and would to Heaven Then think what you may hope, and what not My power could grant them what my wish con
Lady Fair. No matter, Fairfax, 'tis a virtuous Ludy Fair. And wherefore not, my lord? The
cause, army yours,
And heaven will bless the purpose with success. Who can dispute your will? Command them Jur. There Mercy spoke, and in her solleet hither,
feel his woe,
bishop Desire to see you.