Imágenes de páginas

on its way to the public; that it was already assented to by the Royal Family themselves, and was likely at last to appear with the support of the most formidable authorities. What could he now conclude but that, if undetected and unrefuted, or, still more, if uncontradicted in a history destined to vindicate the King, the claim would be considered by posterity as established by his silence ? Clarendon's language on this occasion also strengthens very much another part of the evidence; for it proves beyond all doubt, that the authorship of the Icon had been discussed by the King with the Duke of Somerset before that nobleman's death in October 1660; a fact nearly conclusive of the whole question :—for had he assured the King that his father was the author, what a conclusive answer was ready to Gauden, who asserted that noble person to have been the bearer of the manuscript of the Icon from Gauden to Charles I.!-As there had been such a communication between the King and the Duke of Somerset, it is altogether incredible that Clarendon should not have recurred to the same pure source of information. The only admissible meaning of Clarendon's words is, that ' Lord Hertford (afterwards Duke of Somerset) had satisfied the King of the impropriety of speaking on the subject. * We must otherwise suppose that the King and Clarendon had been 6 satisfied,' or perfectly convinced that Charles was the writer of the Icon; a supposition which would convert the silence of the Chancellor and the levity of the Monarch into heinous offences. Morley and Clarendon sent a message and answer in a cipher; of course unintelligible to Lord Cornbury, because they covered a secret which they were both bound to conceal from all men. The comparison of these messages with Gauden's letters, is alone sufficient to decide this controversy. The message of Morley to Clarendon demonstrates that they had previous conversation on the subject. The answer of Clarendon shows that both parties knew of information respecting it having been given by Somerset to the King, before Gauden's nomination to Exeter. But Gauden had at that time appealed, in his letters, both to Morley and Somerset as his witnesses. That Clarendon therefore knew all that Morley and Somerset could tell, is no longer matter of inference, but is established by the positive testimony of the two survivors in 1674. Wagstaffe did not perceive the consequences of the Letter which he published, because he had not seen

* Dr W. says, that no man living whose judgment is worth a straw will adopt the above construction. He does not seem to perceive how near this assertion is to an assumption of the whole matter in


the whole correspondence of Gauden. But it is much less easy to understand, how those who have compared the letters of Gauden with the messages between Clarendon and Morley, should not have discovered the irresistible inference which arises from the comparison.

The silence of Lord Clarendon, as an historian, is the strongest moral evidence that he believed the pretensions of Bishop Gauden: And his opinion on the question must be held to include the testimony in point of fact, and the judgment in point of opinion, of all those whom he had easy opportunities and strong inducements to consult. It may be added, that, however Henry Earl of Clarendon chose to express himself, (his language is not free from an air of mental reservation), neither he nor his brother Lord Rochester, when they published their father's history in 1702, thought fit, in their preface, to attempt any explanation of his silence respecting the Icon, though their attention must have been called to that subject by the controversy respecting it which had been carried on a few years before with great zeal and activity. Their silence becomes the more remarkable, from the strong interest taken by Lord Clarendon in the controversy. He wrote two letters on it to Wagstaffe, in 1694 and 1699. He was one of the few persons present at the select consecration of Wagstaffe as a nonjuring bishop, in 1693. Yet there is no allusion to the Icon in the preface to his father's history, published in 1702.

It cannot be pretended that the final silence of Clarendon is agreeable to the rigorous rules of historical morality. It is no doubt an infirmity which impairs his credit as an historian. But it is a light and venial fault compared with that which must be laid to his charge, if we suppose, that, with a conviction of the genuineness of the Icon, and with such testimony in support of it as the evidence of Somerset and Morley, * (to say nothing of others), he should not have made a single effort, in a work destined for posterity, to guard from the hands of the impostor the most sacred property of his unfortunate master. The partiality of Clarendon to Charles I. has never been severely blamed ; his silence in his history, if he believed Gauden, would only be a new instance of that partiality; but the same silence, if he believed the King to be the author, would be fatal to his character as an historian and a man.

The knowledge of Gauden's secret was obtained by Clarendon as a minister; and he might deem his duty with respect to se

* Which Dr W.'s construction of his words to his son necessarily implies that he possessed before his death.

crets of state still to be so far in force, as at least to excuse him for not disturbing one of the favourite opinions of his party, and for not disclosing what he thought could gratify none but regicides and agitators. Even this excuse, on the opposite supposition, he wanted. That Charles was the author of the Icon (if true) was no state secret, but the prevalent and public opinion. He might have collected full proofs of its truth, in private conversation with his friends. He had only to state such proof, and to lament the necessity which made him once act as if the truth were otherwise, rather than excite a controversy with an unprincipled enemy, dangerous to a new government, and injurious to the interests of monarchy. His mere testimony would have done infinitely more for the King's authorship, than all the volumes which have been written to maintain it. EVEN THAT TESTIMONY IS WITHHELD.

It is generally believed, that since the appearance of Dr Wordsworth's Documentary Supplement, some of those eminent persons of this age who are most favourably disposed to Charles I., have declared, that the tacit acknowledgment of Clarendon is decisive of the whole question. It must always be remembered, that it is impossible, on any supposition, abso. lutely to justify the historian's silence. But it is at least intelligible on one supposition, while it is utterly unaccountable on the other. If the Icon be Gauden's, the silence of Clarendon is a vice to which he had strong temptations. If it be the King's, it is a crime without a motive. Those who are willing to ascribe the lesser fault to the historian, must determine against the authenticity of the Icon.

That good men, of whom Lord Clarendon was one, were, at the period of the Restoration, ready to use expedients of very dubious morality to conceal secrets dangerous to the Royal cause, will appear from a fact, which seems to have escaped the notice of the general historians of England. It is uncertain, and not worth inquiring, when Charles II, threw over his doubts and vices that slight and thin vesture of Catholicism, which he drew a little closer round him at the sight of death : * But we know with certainty, that, in the beginning of the year 1659, the Duke of Ormond accidentally discovered the conversion, by finding him on his knees at mass in a church at Brussells. It was soon more satisfactorily proved to him,

· * His formal reconciliation probably took place at Cologne in 1658, under the direction of Dr Peter Talbot, Catholic archbishop of Armagh,

by communication with Henry Bennett and Lord Bristol, * He first imparted the secret in England to Clarendon and Southampton, who agreed with him in the necessity of preventing the enemies of monarchy, or the friends of Popery, from promulgating this fatal secret. Accordingly, the Act for the better security of his Majesty's person and government't provided, that to affirm the King to be a Papist, should be punishable by • disability to hold any office or promotion, civil,

military, or ecclesiastical, besides being liable to such other pu

nishments as by common or statute law might be inflicted. 'I No sooner was the truth ascertained, than the utterance of it was subjected to severe penalties. The virtuous men (for such they were) who passed this Act, were, it must be owned, on this occasion, guilty of the most solemn and deliberate falsehood. They declared, by their actions, that to be a malicious calumny which they knew to be true. Nay, more, they forbade it as a calumny, solely because they knew it to be the truth. If any opposition had been made to it, they must have supported it by false asseverations, which could not, however, be a deeper offence against morality than the falsehood implied in their acts. Such is the unhappy condition of statesmen, that they may think themselves obliged to assert the falsehood of a statement most strongly, when they are most firmly convinced of its truth.

As soon as we take our stand on the ground, that the acquiescence of all the Royalists in the council and court of Charles II., and the final silence of Clarendon in his history on a matter so much within his province, and so interesting to his feelings, are irreconcileable with the supposition, that they believed the Icon to be the work of the King, all the other circumstances on both sides not only dwindle into insignificance, but assume a different colour. Thus, the general credit of the book among Royalists before the Restoration serves to show, that the evidence which changed the opinion of Clarendon and his friends must have been very strong probably far stronger than what we now possess; and the firmer we suppose the previous conviction to have been, the more probable it becomes, that the proofs then discovered were of a more direct nature than those which remain. Let it be very especially observed, that those who decided the question practically in 1660, were within twelve years of the fact; while fifty years had passed before the greater part of the traditional and hearsay stories, ranged on ihe opposite -side, were brought together by Wagstaffe.

* 2 Carte's Ormond, 254–256. + 13 C. 2. st. 1. 1661.

A legislative declaration that such disabilities are punishments.

oster declare had seen it in welthat he had

been on its exis to allomark disber of could hav

Let us consider, for example, the effect of the proceedings of 1660, upon the evidence of the witnesses who speak of the Icon -as having been actually taken from the King at Naseby, and afterwards restored to him by the conquerors. Two of the best known, are the Earl of Manchester and Mr Prynne. Eales, a physician in Hertfordshire, certifies, in 1699, that some years before the Restoration, (i. C. about 1656), he heard Lord Manchester declare, that the MS. of the Icon was taken at Naseby, and that he had seen it in the King's own hand. * Jones, at the distance of fifty years, says that he had heard from Colonel Stroud that Stroud had heard from Prynne in 1649, that he, by order of Parliament, had read the MS. of the Icon taken at Naseby. + Now it is certain that Manchester was taken into favour, and Prynne was patronized at the Restoration. If this were so, how came matters, of which they spoke so publicly, to remain unknown to Clarendon and Southampton ? Had the MS. Icon been intrusted to Prynne by Parliament, or even by a Committee, its existence must have been known to so large a body, too large to allow the supposition of secrecy. The application of the same remark disposes of the mob of second-hand witnesses. The very number of the witnesses increases the incredibility that their testimony could have escaped notice in 1660. Huntingdon, a Major in Cromwell's regiment, who abandoned the Parliamentary cause, is a more direct witness. In the year 1679, he informed Dugdale that he had procured the MS. Icon taken at Naseby to be restored to the King at Hampton ; that it was written by Sir E. Walker, but interlined by the King, who wrote all the Devotions. In 1681, Dugdale published " The Short View,' &c., in which is the same story, with the variation, that it was written with the King's own hand'-a statement which, in the summary language of a general narrative, can hardly be said to vary materially from the former. Now, Major Huntingdon had particularly attracted the notice of Clarendon. He is mentioned in the History with commendation. I He tendered his services to the King before the Restoration; and, what is most important of all to our present purpose, his testimony regarding the conduct of Bukeley and Ashburnham, in the journey from Hampton Court, is expressly mentioned by the Noble historian as being, in 1660, thought worthy of being weighed even against that of Somerset and Southampton. || When we thus trace a di

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »