Or, The King's Book
Edited by Edward Almack
London: A. Moring, Limited, At the De la More Press, 1904.
text from an "advance copy" of the first edition, 1649.
21. Upon His Majesties Letters taken and divulged.
THE taking of My Letters was an opportunity, which, as the malice of Mine enemies could hardly have expected; so they know not how with honour and civility to use it: Nor doe I think with sober and worthy minds any thing in them, could tend so much to My reproach, as the odious divulging of them did to the infamy of the Divulgers: The greatest experiments of vertue and Noblenesse being discovered in the greatest advantages against an enemy, and the greatest obligations being those, which are put upon us by them, from whom, we could least have expected them.
And such I should have esteemed the concealing of My Papers; The freedome and secresie of which, commands a civility from all men, not wholly barbarous; nor is there any thing more inhumane than to expose them to publique view.
Yet since providence will have it so, I am content so much of My heart (which I study to approve to Gods omniscience) should be discovered to the world, without any of those dresses, or popular captations, which some men use in their Speeches, and Expresses; I wish My Subjects had yet a clearer sight into My most retired thoughts:
Where they might discover, how they are divided between the love and care I have, not more to preserve My owne Rights, than to procure their peace and happinesse, and that extreame grief to see them both deceived and destroyed.
Nor can any mens malice be gratified further by My Letters, than to see My constancy to My Wife, the Lawes, and Religion. Bees will gather Honey where the Spider sucks Poison.
That I endeavour to avoid the pressures of my Enemies, by all fair and just correspondencies; no man can blame, who loves me, or the Common-wealth, since my Subjects can hardly be happy if I be miserable, or enjoy their peace and liberties while I am oppressed.
The world may see how soon mens design, like Absoloms, is by enormous actions to widen differences, and exasperate all sides to such distances, as may make all reconciliation desperate.
Yet I thank God I can not only with patience bear this, as other indignities, but with Charity forgive them.
The integrity of My intentions is not jealous of any injury, My expressions can do them, for although the confidence of privacy may admit greater freedom in writing such Letters, which may be liable to envious exceptions; yet the Innocency of My chief purposes cannot be so obtained, or misinterpreted by them, as not to let all men see, that I wish nothing more then an happy composure of differences with Justice and Honour, not more to My own, then My peoples content, who have any sparks of Love or Loyalty left in them: who, by those My Letters may be convinced, that I can both mind and act My own, and My Kingdomes Affaires, so as becomes a Prince; which Mine Enemies have alwayes been very loath should be beleved of me, as if I were wholly confined to the Dictates and Directions of others; whom they please to brand with the names of Evill Counsellours.
Its probable some men will now look upon me as my own Counsellour, and having none else to quarrell with under that notion, they will hereafter confine their anger to my self: Although I know they are very unwilling I should enjoy the liberty of my own Thoughts, or follow the light of my own Conscience, which they labour to bring into an absolute captivity to themselves; not allowing me to think their Counsels to be other then good for me, which have so long maintained a War against Me.
The Victory they obtained that day, when my Letters became their prize, had been enough to have satiated the most ambitious thirst of popular glory among the Vulgar; with whom prosperity gaines the greatest esteem and applause; as adversity exposeth to their greatest slighting and dis-respect: As if good fortune were alwayes the shadow of Vertue and Justice, and did not oftner attend vitious and injurious actions, as to this world.
But I see no secular advantages seeme sufficient to that cause, which began with Tumults, and depends chiefly upon the reputation with the vulgar.
They think no Victories so effectuall to their de-signes as those, that most rout and waste my Credit with my People; in whose hearts they seek by all meanes to smother and extinguish all sparks of Love, Respect, and Loyalty to Me, that they may never kindle again, so as to recover Mine, the Lawes, and the Kingdomes Liberties, which some men seek to overthrow: The taking away of my Credit is but a necessary preparation to the taking away of my Life, and my Kingdomes; First I must seem neither fit to Live, nor worthy to Reign; By exquisite methods of cunning and cruelty, I must be compelled, first to follow the Funeralls of my Honour, and then be destroyed: But I know Gods un-erring and impartiall Justice can, and will overrule the most perverse wills and designes of men; He is able, and (I hope) will turn even the worst of mine Enemies thoughts and actions to my good.
Nor doe I think, that by the surprize of my Letters, I have lost any more then so many papers: How much they have lost of that reputation, for Civility and Humanity (which ought to be pay'd to all men, and most becomes such as pretend to Religion) besides that of respect and Honour, which they owe to their KING, present, and after-times will judge.
And I cannot think that their owne consciences are so stupid, as not to inflict upon them some secret impressions of that shame and dishonour, which attends all unworthy actions, have they never so much of publique flattery, and popular countenance.
I am sure they can never expect the divine approbation of such indecent actions, if they doe but remember how God blest the modest respect and filiall tendernesse, which Noah's Sonnes bare to their Father; nor did his open infirmity justifie Chants impudency, or exempt him from that curse of being Servant of Servants; which curse must needs be on them who seek by dishonourable actions to please the Vulgar, and confirme by ignoble acts, their dependance upon the People.
Nor can their malitious intentions be ever either excusable, or prosperous; who thought by this means to expose Me, to the highest reproach and contempt of My People; forgetting that duty of modest concealment, which they owed to the Father of their Country, in case they had discovered any reall un-comelinesse; which, I thank God they did not; who can, and I believe hath made Me more respected in the hearts of many (as he did David} to whom they thought, by publishing My private Letters, to have rendred Me as a Vile Person, not fit to be trusted or considered, under any Notion of Majesty.
But thou, O Lord, whose wise and all-disposing providence, ordereth the greatest contingences of humane affaires; make me to see the constancy of thy mercies to me, in the greatest advantages thou seemest to give the malice of my Enemies against me.
As thou didst blast the counsel of Achitophel, turning it to Davids good, and his owne ruine: so canst thou defeat their designe, who intended by publishing my private Letters, nothing else, but to render me more odious and contemptible to My People.
I must first appeale to thy Omniscience, who canst witnesse with my integrity, how unjust and false those scandalous misconstructions are, which my enemies endeavour by those Papers of mine to represent to the world.
Make the evill they imagined, and displeasure they intended thereby against me, so to returne on their owne heads, that they may be ashamed, and covered with their owne confusion; as with a Cloake.
Thou seest how mine Enemies use all meanes to cloud mine Honour, to pervert my purposes, and to slander the footsteps of thine Anoynted.
But give me an heart content to be dishonoured for thy sake, and thy Churches good.
Fix in me a purpose to honour thee, and then I know thou wilt honour me, either by restoring to me the enjoyment of that Power and Majesty, which thou hast suffered some men to seek to deprive me of; or by bestowing on me that crowne of Christian patience, which knows how to serve thee in honour, or dishonour, in good report or evill.
Thou, O Lord, art the fountaine of goodnesse, and honour; thou art clothed with excellent Majesty; make me to partake of thy excellency for wisdome, justice, and mercy, and I shall not want that degree of Honour, and Majesty, which becomes the Place in which thou hast set Me; who art the lifter up of My head, and My salvation.
Lord, by thy Grace, lead Me to thy Glory, which is both true and eternall.