« ZurückWeiter »
and public enemy, shall be put to death by severing his head from his body." Then Bradshaw again rose and said, “The sentence now read and published is the act, sentence, judgment, and resolution of the whole court; upon which, all the commissioners stood up by way of declaring their assent. The unhappy King now solicited permission to speak, but was refused. The words which passed between him and Bradshaw are worthy of record, a most pathetic consummation of the melancholy
The fortitude and dignity which had sustained Charles throughout, appears at last to have somewhat given way; but in its place we recognise a human suffering and agony of heart to the last degree affecting. you hear me a word, sir?” he asked. “Sir," replied Bradshaw, "you are not to be heard after the sentence.” “No, sir ?” exclaimed the King. “No, sir, by your favour,” retorted the president. “Guards, withdraw your prisoner.” Charles then exclaimed, with a touching struggle of deep emotion, “I may speak after the sentence ! By your favour, sir !—I may speak after the sentence !EVER !-By your favour- A stern monosyllable from Bradshaw interrupted him,-“ Hold !” and signs were given to the guards. With passionate entreaty the King again interfered. “ The sentence, sir! I say, sir, I do-_” Again Bradshaw said, “ Hold !" and the King was taken out of court as these words broke from him "I am not suffered to speak. Expect what justice other people will have !"
EXECUTION OF CHARLES THE FIRST,
Great efforts were made to save the King, but the Commons
refused to spare his life, and on Tuesday, the thirtieth of January, 1649, he was beheaded at Whitehall.]
It was about ten o'clock in the morning when the procession was formed, from St. James's, through the Park, to Whitehall. With Bishop Juxon 1 on his right hand, Colonel Tomlinson on his left, Herbert 2 following close, and a guard of halberdiers in front and behind, the King walked, at his usual very fast pace, through the Park, soldiers lining the whole way, with colours flying and drums beating, and such a noise rising from the gathered crowd that it was hardly possible for any two in the procession to hear each other speak. Herbert had been told to bring with him the silver clock or watch that hung usually by the King's bedside, and on their way through the Park the King asked what o'clock it was and gave Herbert the watch to keep. A rude fellow from the mob kept abreast with the King for some time, staring at his face as if in wonder, till the Bishop had him turned away. There is a tradition that, when the procession came to the end of the Park, near the present passage from Spring Gardens, the King pointed to a tree, and said that tree had been planted by his brother Henry.
Arrived at last at the stairs leading into Whitehall, he was taken, through the galleries of the Palace, to the bed
1 The Bishop of London. 2 Charles's personal attendant.
chamber he had usually occupied while residing there and here he had some farther time allowed him for rest and devotion with Juxon alone. Having sent Herbert for some bread and wine, he ate a mouthful of the bread and drank a small glass of claret. Here Herbert broke down so completely that he felt he could not accompany the King to the scaffold, and Juxon had to take from him the white satin cap he had brought by the King's orders, to be put on at the fatal moment. At last, a little after twelve o'clock, Hacker's 8 signal was heard outside, and Juxon and Herbert went on their knees, affectionately kissing the King's hands. Juxon being old and feeble, the King helped him to rise, and then, commanding the door to be opened, followed Hacker. With soldiers for his guard, he was conveyed along some of the galleries of the old Palace, now no longer extant, to the New Banqueting Hall, which Inigo Jones had built, and which still exists. Besides the soldiers, many men and women had crowded into the Hall, from whom, as his Majesty passed on, there was heard a general murmur of commiseration and prayer, the soldiers themselves not objecting, but appearing grave and respectful.
Through a passage broken in the wall of the Banqueting Hall, or more probably through one of the windows, dismantled for the purpose, Charles emerged on the scaffold, in the open street, fronting the site of the present Horse Guards. The scaffold was hung with black, and carpeted with black, the block and the axe in the middle ; a number of persons already stood upon it, among whom were several men with black masks concealing their faces; in the street in front all round the scaffold, were companies of foot and horse; and beyond these, as far as the eye could reach,
, 3 Colonel Hacker commanded the soldiers set apart for the guard over the execution.
towards Charing Cross on the one side and Westminster Abbey on the other, was a closely packed multitude of spectators. The King, walking on the scaffold, looked earnestly at the block, and said something to Hacker as if he thought it were too low; after which, taking out a small piece of paper, on which he had jotted some notes, he proceeded to address those standing near him.
What he said may have taken about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour to deliver, and appears, from the shorthand report of it which has been preserved, to have been rather incoherent. “Now, Sirs,” he said at one point, “I must show you both how you are out of the way, and I will put you in the way. First, you are out of the way; for certainly all the way you ever have had yet, as I could find by anything, is in the way of conquest. Certainly this is an ill way; for conquest, Sirs, in my opinion, is never just, except there be a good just cause, either for matter of wrong, or just title ; and then, if you go beyond it, the first quarrel that you have to it, that makes it unjust at the end that was just at first.” A little farther on, when he had begun a sentence, “For the King indeed I will not,” a gentleman chanced to touch the axe. “ Hurt not the axe,” he interrupted ; “ that may hurt me,” and then resumed. “ As for the King, the Laws of the Land will clearly instruct you for that : therefore, because it concerns my own particular, I only give you a touch of it. For the People: and truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whomsoever; but I must tell you that their liberty and freedom consists of having of Government those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not having share in Government, Sirs; that is nothing pertaining to them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things; and therefore, until they do that-I mean, that you put the People in that liberty, as I sayớcertainly they will never enjoy themselves.” In conclusion he said he would have liked to have a little more time, so as to have put what he meant to say “in a little more order, and a little better digested," and gave the paper containing the heads of his speech to Juxon.
As he had said nothing specially about Religion, Juxon reminded him of the omission. “I thank you very heartily, my Lord,” said Charles, “for that I had almost forgotten it. In troth, Sirs, my conscience in Religion, I think it very well known to the world; and therefore I declare before you all that I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of England as I found it left me by my father; and this honest man (the Bishop) I think will witness it." There were some more words addressed particularly to Hacker, and the other officers; and once more, seeing a gentleman go too near the axe, he called out, “Take heed of the axe; pray take heed of the axe." Then, taking the white satin cap from Juxon, he put it on, and, with the assistance of Juxon and the chief executioner, pushed his hair all within it. Some final sentences of pious import then passed between the King and Juxon, and the King, having taken off his cloak and George, and given the latter to Juxon, with the word "Remember," knelt down and put his neck on the block. After a second or two he stretched out his hands, and the axe descended, severing the head from the body at one blow. There was a vast shudder through the mob, and then a universal groan.