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- The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 128/128 -


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 short-hand 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 in 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 say--certainly 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 truth, 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. [Footnote: Herbert's Memoirs, 183--194; Wood's Ath. (repeating Herbert), IV. 32--36; Rushworth, VJI 1428-1431; Fuller's Church Hist. (ed. 1842) TTI. 500, 501; Disraeli's Charts J. (ed. 1831) V. 449-50; Cunningham's London, _Whitehall_. Herbert only mentions the fact of his dream in the body of his Memoir; but the detailed account of it in his own words, written in 1680, is given in the Appendix, 217-222, and in a note in Wood's Ath. as above.--The coherance of Charles's last speech seems to have struck Fuller, who says that, "though taken in shorthand by one eminent therein," it is done defectively. I rather think it is punctually literal. I find in the Stationers' Registers this entry, under date Jan. 31, 1648-9: "Peter Cole entered for his copy, under the hand of Mr. Mabbott, King Charles his Speech upon the Scaffold, with the manner of his Suffering, on Jan. 30, 1648." I suppose this is the Report afterwards repeated by Rushworth, though objected to by Fuller. Was Rush worth the reporter?]

Immediately after the execution Juxon and the sorrowing Herbert were allowed to take charge of the corpse. Embalmed, coffined in wood and lead, and covered with a velvet pall, it lay for some days in St. James's Palace, where crowds came to see it. There was some difficulty about the place of burial. Charles himself having left no directions on the subject, Juxon and Herbert thought that the fittest place would be King Henry the Seventh's Chapel, in Westminster Abbey, containing as it did the tombs of his four immediate predecessors, and those of his grandmother Mary, Queen of Scots, and his brother Prince Henry. The authorities, however, considering that this place was too public and would attract inconvenient crowds, Juxon and Herbert next proposed the Royal Chapel in Windsor, where some of his earlier predecessors had been buried, and among them Henry VIII. To this no objection was made, and on the 7th of February the body was conveyed from St. James's to Windsor in a hearse drawn by six horses, and followed by four mourning coaches. Colonel Whichcot, the Governor of the Castle, having been shown the order, allowed Herbert and those with him to select whatever spot they chose. They thought first of what was called "the tomb-house," built by Cardinal Wolsey, and intended by him as a splendid sepulchre for his master, Henry VIII.; but they decided against it, partly because it was not within the Royal Chapel, but only adjoining it, and partly because they were uncertain whether Henry VIII. (of whose exact place of burial the tradition had been lost) might not actually have been buried in the "tomb-house," and they recollected that this particular predecessor of Charles was not one of his favourites. He had been heard, in occasional discourses, to express dislike of Henry's conduct in appropriating Church revenues and demolishing religious edifices. They therefore fixed on the vault where Edward IV. was interred, on the north side of the choir, near the altar. The vault was opened for the purpose, and preparations for the interment there were going on, when (Feb. 8) the Duke of Richmond, the Marquis of Hertford, and the Earls of Southampton and Lindsey, with Dr. Juxon, arrived from London, specially authorized by the House of Commons to attend the funeral, and the Duke empowered to arrange all wholly as he thought fit. Herbert and those with him having then resigned the duty into the hands of these great persons, there was a new inquiry as to the best spot for the grave. The "tomb-house" was again looked at, and the choir of the Chapel diligently re-investigated. At length, a spot in the choir having been detected where the pavement sounded hollow when struck- -"being about the middle of the choir, over against the eleventh seat on the Sovereign's side"--the stones and earth were removed, and a vault was disclosed; in which there were two leaden coffins close together, one very large and the other small. From the velvet palls covering them, some portions in their original purple colour, and others turned into fox- tawny or coal-black by the damp, there was no doubt that they were the coffins of Henry VIII. and his third wife, Lady Jane Seymour. As there was just room for one coffin more in the vault, it was determined that the fact of its being the vault of Henry VIII, now accidentally discovered after so long a time, should be no bar to the burial of Charles in the otherwise suitable vacancy. Accordingly, on Friday the 9th of February, the body was brought from the royal bed-chamber, where it had been meanwhile lying, to St. George's Hall, and thence, with slow and solemn pace, to the Chapel. It was borne on the shoulders of some gentlemen in mourning; the noblemen in mourning held up the pall; and Colonel Whichcot, with several gentlemen, officers, and attendants, followed. As they were moving from the Hall to the Chapel, the sky, which had been previously clear, darkened with snow, which fell so fast that, before they reached the Chapel, the black velvet pall was white with the flakes. The coffin having been set down near the vault, ex-Bishop Juxon would have read the burial-service over it according to the form of the Book of Common Prayer; but, though permission to do so seemed to be implied in the wording of the order granted to the Duke of Richmond by the House of Commons, and though the noblemen present were desirous that it should be done, Colonel Whichcot did not think himself entitled to allow any service except that of the new Presbyterian Directory. Without any service at all, therefore, save what may have been rendered by the tears and muttered words of those who stood by, the coffin was deposited, about three o'clock in the afternoon, in the vacant space in the vault. A kind of scarf or scroll of lead, about five inches broad, had been soldered to it, bearing this inscription in capital letters: "KING CHARLES, 1648." At the time of his death, King Charles was forty-eight years, two months, and eleven days old, and he had reigned twenty-three years and ten months. [Footnote: Herbert's Memoirs, 194-216; Commons Journals, Feb. 8; Fuller's, Church Hist,. III. 501-4.--In March 1813 some workmen, employed in making a passage from under the choir of the Royal Chapel at Windsor to a mausoleum erected by George III. in the "tomb- house" described in the text, accidentally broke into the vault containing the bodies of Charles I., Henry VIII., and Queen Jane Seymour. The fact having been reported to the Prince Regent, a careful examination was ordered. It was made April 1, 1813, in the presence of the Prince Regent himself, the Duke of Cumberland, Count Munster, the Dean of Windsor, Sir Henry Halford (Physician to the King and the Prince Regent), and Mr. B. C. Stevenson. The coffin of Charles I. was examined with great minuteness, and corresponded in every particular with the account given by Herbert. When the black velvet pall had been removed, the coffin was found to be of plain lead, with the leaden scroll encircling it, bearing the inscription "KING CHARLES, 1648," in large legible characters. A square opening was then cut in the upper lid, so that the contents might be clearly seen. An internal wooden coffin was found to be very much decayed, and the body was found to be carefully wrapped up in cerecloth, into the folds of which there had been poured abundantly some unctuous substance mixed with resin. With considerable difficulty the cerecloth was removed from the face, and then, despite the discolouring and the decay of some parts, the features of Charles I., as represented in coins and busts, and especially in Vandyke's portraits of him, could be distinctly recognised. There was the oval face, with the peaked beard. When, by farther removal of the cerecloth, they had disengaged the entire head, they found it to be loose from the body. On taking it out, they saw that "the muscles of the neck had evidently retracted themselves considerably, and the fourth cervical vertebra was found to be cut through its substance transversely, leaving the surfaces of the divided portions perfectly smooth and even--an appearance which could have been produced only by a heavy blow indicted by a very sharp instrument." The hair, which was thick at the back, looked nearly black; but, when a portion of it was afterwards cleaned and dried, the colour was found to be a beautiful dark brown,--that of the beard a redder brown. The body was not examined below the neck; and, the head having been replaced, the coffin was soldered up again and the vault closed. (See account by Sir Henry Halford, quoted by Bliss in his edition of Wood's Ath. IV. 39-42.)]


The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 128/128

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