The Speech of King Charls upon the Scaffold at the gate of White Hall; immediately before the execution. January 30.
ABout ten in the morning, the King was brought from Saint Jameses Court, he did walk on foot through the Park, with a Regiment of Foot, one half before him, and the other behind him, their Colours flying, and their Drums beating, his private guard of Partisan with some of his Gentlemen did go immediately bare headed before him, and some part of them behind him; but those who were next of all unto him behinde, were Dr. Juxon and Colonel Thomlinson, to the last of whom the care and charge of his Person was committed, these two being barehead did talk with him all along the Park, and as you go Page 112 up the stairs into the Gallery, and so into the Cabanet chamber, where he used to lye, in which place, he continued at his Devo∣tion and refused to dine, because he that morning had taken the Sacrament, onely about one hour before he came forth he drank a Glasse of Claret wine, and did eat a crust of bread about twelve of the clock at Noon.
From thence he was accompa∣nied by Doctor Juxon, Col. Thom∣linson, and other Officers former∣ly appointed to be his Guard, and with the private Guard of Parti∣zans, with musquetiers on either side, through the banquetting house, at the farther end, on the outside whereof the Scaffold was erected, near unto the Gate of White Hall. The Scaffold was hung round with black, and the floore was covered with black, & the ax Page 113 and the Block laid on the middle of the Scaffold. There were se∣verall Companies of Foot, and Troops of Horse placed on the one side of the Scaffold, and the other, and multitudes of people that thronged to see so rare a spe∣ctacle were very great.
The King was no sooner come upon the Scaffold, but he looked very earnestly on the Block, and asked Col. Hacker, if there were no higher, and then spake thus, di∣recting his speech chiefly to Co∣lonel Thomlinson.
I Shall be very little heard by any of the people, I shall therefore speak a word or two to you who are here. Indeed I could hold my peace very well, if I did not think that my silence would make some men think, that I did submit to the guilt, as well as to the punishment; but I conceive it is my duty, First unto Page 114 God, and afterwards to my Coun∣trey, to vindicate my self, as an ho∣nest man, a good King, and a good Christian.
I shall begin first with my Inno∣cency; Introth I think it not very needfull for me to insist long upon this, for all the world knows that I never did begin Warre with the two Houses of Parliament, and I call God to witnesse, to whom I must shortly make my account, that I never did intend to incroach upon their privi∣ledges: they began with me, It was the Militia they began upon, they confessed that the Militia was mine, but they thought it fit to have it from me, and to be short if any man will look to the Dates of Commissi∣ons, of their Commissions ormine; and likewise to the Declarati∣ons, will finde clearly, that they be∣gan those unhappy troubles, not I; so that as for the guilt of these enor∣mous Page 115 crimes, which are laid upon me, I hope in God, that God will clear me of them.
I am in charity, I will not, and God forbid that I should lay it upon the two-Houses of Parliament, there is no necessity of either; I hope they are free from the Guilt, for I do be∣lieve that evill instruments between them and me have been the chief cause of all this bloodshed, so that by way of speaking, as I find my self clear of this, I hope, and I pray God, that they may too; yet for all this, God forbid, that I should be so ill a Christian, as not to say that Gods judgements are just upon me. Many times he does inflict Justice by an unjust Sentence; this is ordina∣ry; I will onely say, that an unjust Sentence, * That I suffered to take effect, is punished now by an unjust Sentence upon my self. This is to shew you, (as I have said) how far I Page 116 am an innocent man.
Now for to show you, that I am a good Christian, I hope there is a good man*, who will bear witnesse with me, that I have forgiven all the world, and even those in parti∣cular, who have been the chief cau∣sers of my Death; who they are, God knows. I do not desire to know, I pray God forgive them: But this is not all, my Charity must go further, I wish that they may repent; for in∣deed, they have committed a great sin in that particular; I pray God with Saint Stephen that this be not laid to their charge; nay, not onely so, but that they may take the right way to the peace of the Kingdome; for my charity commands me, not onely to forgive particular men, but my charity commands me to inde∣vour to the last gasp the peace of the Kingdome. This Sirs, I do wish with all my Soul, and I do hope, Page 117 (there are some * who will carry it further) that they may indeavour the peace of the Kingdome.
Now Sirs, I must show you both how you are out of the way, and I will put you into a way: First, you are out of the way; for certainly, all the way in which as yet you have gone, as I could ever find out by any thing, is in the way of conquest; cer∣tainly this is an ill way, for conquest Sirs, in my opinion, is never just, except there be a good, just cause, ei∣ther for matter of wrong, or to de∣fend a just Title, and if in the pro∣secution of the quarrell, you shall go beyond this, it will make that un∣just at the end, which was just at the beginning. But if it be onely matter of conquest, therein it is a great robbery, as a pirate said to Alexander, that he was a great rob∣ber, and that he himself was but a petty robber: and thus Sirs, I do Page 118 think, that the way you are in, is much out of the way; Now Sirs, for to put you in the way, believe it, you will never do right, nor will God ever prosper you, untill you give God his due, and the King his due, that is, in their course of time, my Suc∣cessors, and untill you give the peo∣ple their due; I am as much for them as any of you are. You must give God his due, by regulating a∣right his Church according to his Scripture; your church is now out of order, for to set you particularly in a way now, I cannot, but onely by a Synod of the whole Nation, who being freely called, and freely deba∣ting amongst themselves, may by Gods blessing settle the Ghurch, when every opinion is freely and clearly discussed.
For the King indeed, I will not much insist—Then turning to a Gentleman whose cloak he obser∣ved Page 119 to touch the edge of the Ax, he said unto him, Hurt not the Ax, meaning by blunting the the edge thereof, for that he said might hurt him. Having made this short digression, he procee∣ded; For the King, the laws of the land will clearly instruct you, what you have to do; but because it con∣cerns my own particular, I onely do give you but a touch of it.
As for the People, truly I desire their liberty and freedome, as much as any whosoever; but I must tell you, that their liberty and freedome consists in having of government by those laws, by which their lives, and their goods may be most their own. It is not for them to have a share in Government, that is nothing Sirs, appertaining unto them. A Sub∣ject and a Sovereign are clean diffe∣rent things; and therefore untill that be done, I mean, untill the peo∣ple Page 120 be put into that liberty, which I speak of; certainly they will never enjoy themselves.
Sirs, It was for this that now I am come here; If I would have given way to an arbitrary power to have all laws changed according to the power of the sword; I needed not to have come hither, and therefore I tell you, and I pray God that it be not laid to your charge, that I am the mar∣tyr of the people.
In troth Sirs, I shall not hold you much longer, I shal onely say this un∣to you, that in truth, I could have desired some little longer time, be∣cause I had a desire to put this, that I have said into a little more order, and to have a little better digested it than I have now done; and there∣fore, I hope you will excuse me.
I have delivered my conscience, I pray God that you do take those courses, that are most for the good of Page 121 the Kingdome, and your own salva∣tions.
Will your Majesty although the affection of your Majesty to Religion is very well known; yet to satisfie expecta∣tion, be pleased to speak some∣thing for the satisfaction of the world.
I thank you very heartily (my Lord) because I had almost for∣gotten it. In troth Sirs, my Consci∣ence in Religion, I think is already very well known to all the world; and therefore I declare before you all, that I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of Eng∣land, as I found it left by my Father; and this honest man*I think will witnesse it. Then turning to the Offi∣cers he said; Sirs, excuse me for this same, I have a good cause, and I have a gratious God, I will say no more. Then turning to Colonel Page 122Hacker he said. Take care they do not put me to pain, and Sir this if it please you; but then a Gen∣tleman, one Mr. Clerk, comming neer the Ax, the King said, take heed of the Ax, pray take heed of the Ax: Then the King turning to the Executioner, said, I shall say but very short prayers, and when I stretch forth my hands — Then the King called to Doctor Juxon for his Night-cap, and ha∣ving put it on, he said to the Exe∣cutioner: Will my hair trouble you? who desired him to put it all under his Cap, which the King did accordingly by the assistance of the Executioner and the Bi∣shop; the King then turning to Doctor Juxon said, I have a good Cause and a gracious God on my side.
There is but one stage more, This stage is turbulent Page 123 indeed and troublesome, but ve∣ry short, and which in an instant will lead you a most long way from earth to Heaven, where you shall find great Joy and Solace.
I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where can be no trouble, none at all.
You shall ex∣change a temporall Crown for an eternall one, it is a good change.
The King then said unto the Executioner, Is my hair as it should be? He then did put off his cloak, and his George, which he gave to Doctour Juxon, saying, Re∣member*. He immediately after∣wards, did put off his Doublet, and did put on his cloak again, and looking on the Block, he said unto the Exkcutioner, you should make it to be steddie.
It is so.
It might have been some∣thing higher.
It cannot be made higher now.
When I shall stretch forth my hands in this manner, then—
After that, when standing, he had spoke two or three words unto himself, with his hands, and eyes lifted up towards Heaven, immediately stooping down, he laid his neck upon the Block, and when the Executioner had again put all his hair under his cap. The King said, Stay till I give the Sign.
So I do, if it please your Majesty; and after a very little respite, the King did stretch forth his hands, and immediate∣ly the Executioner at one blow did sever his head from his Body.