Musings over the "Christian year" and "Lyra innocentium"
by Charlotte Mary Yonge
Oxford: Printed by James Parker; New York: Pott and Amery 1871
King Charles the Martyr
DURING all Mr. Keble?s earlier years at Hursley he regularly kept the day of King Charles?s martyrdom, and very reverential as well as tender was the spirit in which he always regarded ?our own, our royal saint.?
To hold Charles blameless through all the perplexities of a period which could hardly have helped being one of conflict and revolution, was not possible; but that young generation?who have been bred on writers starting from the Liberal side?can have no conception of the feeling compounded of reverence and tenderness that was bequeathed by the Cavaliers to their children, and which has not yet entirely died out, for the ?White King.? He might not indeed be sufficient in ability to cope with troubles that had been brewing for a century?not firm or resolute in nature?and not original enough in mind to perceive that the ?king-craft? practised and recommended by generations of monarchs and statesmen was no better than falsehood. He was not many things that he might and ought to have been; but if he wavered and contradicted himself, if he even sacrificed his friend, there was one point on which he was firm?concerning his God. For the Church and her rights, he resisted as he resisted nowhere else, and with the constancy of a man who had been her devout son throughout his reign. All along, his errors were those of infirmity and perplexity; but the heart was faithful to his God, and full of pardon and patience; and thus it was that he was full of that calm dignity and sweetness that so deeply impressed and filled the hearts of his supporters, and thrills in many a breast even to the present day.
So it is that the spots where traces of Charles are found are dear to us, and make our hearts beat faster, and we feel him doubly our own, as having lived on, and died for, our own identical Prayer-book; ?the self-same devotions as our own,? refusing to interrupt our own daily service even under the shock of the intelligence of his friend?s death; and gathering comfort at the last from finding that the Lesson for the day of his death was that which he would have chosen as most precious to him?the twenty-seventh of St. Matthew.
And though our country has ceased to call the Church to offer ?her maternal tears? for him, yet still the Lesson continues to tell of the Cross, and?
?Calls us, like thee, to His dear feet to cling,
And bury in His wounds our earthly fears.?