Project Canterbury

The Royal Martyr, K. Charles I. An Opera.

By Alexander Fyfe

[No place:] Printed in the year, 1705.



A Room hung with Lamps.

Enter Hugh Peters Canting.


Now the Lords, and the Levites, and the Lawyers go down,
The Liturgy, Crosier, Scepter, and Crown.
The Lightning will glance e're the Thunder annoy;
Let the Saints shout for joy, let the Saints shout for joy


When Heaven in its hottest displeasure did rebuke,
The Dust that was guilded, did tremble at a Look.
Proud Nobles its Fury in Fetters did find;
Yea Kings of the Earth in sheckles did bind,
And never to be loos'd in sheckles did bind

Crom.] Now Gentlemen, I hope you all have heard
The Course our Parliament had lately steer'd;
Lo now, they'll Charles re-admit to Reign,
That unexpected Vote my Soul did sting.
Deall they with us as Souldiers or Fools?
Or Pedant Masters with their Boyes at Schools,
Who towring on their Rules, their Schollars dash,
For the least Fault, do threaten with a lash:
By Trophies, Blood, and Wounds, what have you got,
If Racks and Halters, Gibbets be your lot?

Ireton] With him whom you defeat, they'd now combine,
And so unite, us ruine and disjoine.
Yea which an English Heroe should Dismay,
Yet unassur'd of Fortunes, Lives, or Pay.

H. Peters] I'm vex'd in Soul, for yet the Cause of GOD
Is not advanc'd, but underfoot is trode;
And therefore I your humble servant move,
You'll to remeed such Ills, this time improve.

Harr.] Justling Ideas of this Juncture vex,
That hard Dilemma doth my Wits perplex;
I fear we must Divide or then Disband,
Or disobey the Parliament's Command.
Once but disarm, they'll catch the naked Prey;
I'm Traitor deem'd if I but disobey.

Crom.] Yes Harrison, he's truly hit the Point,
Our danger and our safety now are Joint.
Since all that can be dear's at the last stake,
Resolve to yield, or then this Treaty break.

Fair.] I armed for their Quarrel and Command,
By that same Order should I not disband;
Should their just Right unto the Sword give way,
Power must not climb, where Dutie bids it stay.

Crom.] If we be Mercenaries and no more,
We should the Sword to them who gav't, restore.
Why? to themselves of all ingross the swey,
Are we not Free-born Englishmen as they.
And Gentlemen, I plainlie do aver,
As privat Men, so Parliaments may err.

Ireton] There, Votes themselves in number onlie pride,
To right by Reason's Compass do not guide.

Crom.] No longer my displeasure I'll conceal,
I'll from this mungrel Parliament appeal;
And for the Peace of these distracted Lands,
Pursue these Measures GOD puts in my hands.

Ireton] If ought the Body collective do ply,
Dare they who represent the Suit deny,
Then such a breach of Trust will loose the ty.
Why, on this lawful Remedy demur?
Now Power, to its first Fountain does recur:
The more, by Treaties they the King apply,
More nearly, in our Safety, you should pry.
I find, they but cajol, that we'll partake
Of such Provisions for themselves, they make.

Fair.] But on such Terms, they with the King do close:
May we not that important Trust repose?

Crom.] Ah No! Ah No! Project you what you will;
Without a Pow'r to force, they'll not fulfil.
A Monarch once defeat, and then confin'd,
Seals up Revenge within his haughty Mind.
Nought can a King to his own Subjects bind:

H. Peters] Tho' Plies, by Hundreds should such Fetters make,
As Samson did his Cords, he such can break.
How can you, by these fatal sluggish Fears,
Thus Tempt that God who for our Cause appears?

[Exit Hugh Peters.

Fair.] The Senate, to our Swords their Being owe;
Should they not, Measures for our Safety show?

Crom.] Let them, with their dead Letter of the Law,
The silly-blinded People over-awe:
And if with us, they'll need dispute the Cause,
Whilst I have Arms, I do not fear their Laws.

Har.] What? have I overcome! and do not know,
What Conquered, to Conquerours do owe?
And you, who in the Brunt like Ramparts stood,
From Conquest's Spoils, like Fools your selves exclude?
Brave Victory! and yet no Safety know,
But in the Shelter of the conquer'd Foe.

Fair.] If what we've done, you could Rebellion call,
We and the Senate both, as Traitors fall:
But since th'Expedient for true Concord's found,
Duty and Safety both Desires should bound.
Be not afraid of Change or Chance of Time,
When Powers conjoin'd, indemnify the Crime.

Har.] Cromwel, led forth by you All-conquering Hand!
What could the Success of my Arms withstand?
I, to your Conduct all the Glories owe,
Which, for my Spoils and Trophies current go.
Did not this bloody Sword, where e're I drew,
Even to the Chase, the Cavaliers pursue!
And in the Flight, by Heaps, and Thousands slew?
Even as for such Heroick Deeds design'd,
Will scarce Belief, but Admiration find.
I'll still your Soulider be; O, tell me now!
What Course, I in the Juncture shall pursue?
I know no other Law, but follow you.

Crom.] Against no armed Enemies, I fight;
Advise, what Measures should maintain our Right.
They, by the King us strangely over-awe;
By 's being in their Hands, Advantage draw.
And he, now toss'd like Fortune's Tinnice-Ball,
Just as the Racket moves, does rise and fall:
On any Terms would gladly be a King;
And tho' coopd up, he's still upon the Wing.
The Parliament, to magnify their Power,
This Titulary King, aim to secure:
All Wits at Work, the Armie to defeat,
And like an intermitting Pulse, they beat.

Har.] Why they, in Massy Chains their King constrain,
That they, of him may their Conditions gain.
He call'd them for a Council by his write;
And 's forc'd as their Capricious Wills indite:
If that to them such Advantage bring,
'Tis lawful too for us to seize the King:
And we'll with him, their Thunder-Bolts defy;
Perhaps he'll grant to us what they deny.

Iret.] And still, a King can never be so mean,
But that his Name, a Party can maintain.

Fair.] In such Attempts, I certain Danger see;
Therefore deliberate e'er you decree
'Tis brave but execute against a Law,
May stir up Quarrels, many Hazards draw.

Iret.] Once Order give; let's see, who dare controul?
Power strugling, not the Law, is now the Rule.

Crom.] By this first Step, we'll future Success scan,
Who'll give Command, and who shall be the Man?

Fair.] For Order's sake, the Warrant may be mine;
And I the same for Harrison design.

Har.] Now, now, to Execution I'll proceed:
Sir, your Command does justify the Deed.

[Exit Harrison.

Iret.] I know he's godly, valiant, and brave;
Quickly he goes when you the Signal gave.

Crom.] The General is cautious and just,
To such a Man, committed such a Trust.

[Exit General Fairfax.

Re-enter Hugh Peters.

H. Peters] I saw huge Armies driving on the Plain,
Swift March, retarded by their heavy Train.
Earth groans beneath their Feet, the Hills around,
Flatt'ring the Noise, restore the dreadful Sound.
When all run here and there, the furious Horse
Beats o'er the trembling Fields, with nimble Force:
Straight dreadful Sparklings, from their Arms appear,
Fill with unusual Light, the wondering Air:
For whilst long-battl'd Lines were in Array,
The frighted Hinds and Citizens gave way.

[Whispering to Cromwel.

Duke Hamilton and Landgale are join'd.

Crom.] 'Gainst me deare tehse Malignant yet rebel?
That Royal Rout, with brandish'd Sword I'll quell,
And send them bellow straight Post to Hell:

[Enter Duke of Hamilton at the other end of the Stage; Cromwel starts up, and meets him.

D. Ham.] Nor Fear, from Danger, nor from Baseness, Shame,
Nor Reason, you from Fury does reclaim:
For some portentous Crime, I'm sure you're born,
By Fortune sav'd, to perpetrate are sworn,
Why you, my Master in strict Bonds detain
Now when the Senate had knock'd off the Chain.

Crom.] O'er Heaps of Carcasses, I rode in State;
With such, my trackless path of Glory beat;
And, of my faithful Service, I repent;
Nor King, nor Senate, gave me yet Content.

D. Ham.] O curs'd Ambition, raging Lust of Pow'r!
Can Sacred Rights or Civil be secure,
When Wrong and Cruelty 're improv'd by Art,
And Rage is furnish'd with a lawless Dart?

Crom.] Yet from Confusion, Order shall appear;
I'll with this Hand, a nobler System rear;
These, by themselves perpetuat the Sway:
Justly their Being I disown: For why,
How can I, Measures with such Men adjust:
Who'll judge, if they have kept or broke their Trust?
And to support the Frame 's their anxious Care:
The Common-wealth is wrackt, I'll have my share;
And first, the Hydra-State I'll fairly kill.

D. Ham.] A strong Temptation to do bravely ill.
So your indulgent Mother you betray,
And thro' her Bowels, Spider-like make way;
Still basely choose, such Quarrels to pursue
For which no Triumph could be justly due.
Once set my Master free; will nought perswade?

Crom.] You seem to speak as if you would Bravade.
Here if your Grace would Pow'r or Valour try,
I, on the Justice of my Cause rely:
When this Endeavour fails more still contrive;
Curs'd by your Kirk at Home, you cannot thrive!

D. Ham.] All Symptoms of a base ungrateful Mind,
So foul, that which is worse is hard to find.
Triumphant Treason, yet no Thunder flies;
Faithless is Man, and faithless are the Skies:
May on their Head, their groundless Curses fall:
Can I resist Duty and Honour's Call?
I'll with my Sword, that Insolence chastise:

Crom.] Let that decide the Quarrel when you please.

[They both draw, and fight.

Crom.] O trust Weapon, which did never fail,
'Gainst this Gigantick Son of Earth, prevail!

D. Ham.] O Kill, O kill, the monstrous Traitor kill!
Were but my Strength unbounded as my Will!

Crom.] I think you fight as if you would recoil:

D. Ham.] No, my enraged Blood does over-boil.

Crom.] Render your Sword; one Thrust will vanquish now.

D. Ham.] Until my Heart-strings break, I will pursue.

Crom.] In vain, in vain you struggle with your Fate;
You're Prisoner of War, my Guards do wait.

D. Ham.] Here run me thro', no longer let me live!
For why should I, my Misery survive?

Crom.] No, yield, no yield; the safer Part you'll chuse:
I bravely conquer'd, I'll as bravely use.
Here Guards, Go, take your Prisoner away!

D. Ham.] restraint, my Royal Cause shall not betray.

Crom.] Guards, hold him fast, double the massy Chain!

D. Ham.] Yet at my Fate, I am not to repine.

Crom.] But for your Crimes, you're subject to the Laws.

D. Ham.] There is no Law that can decide my Cause:
I'm Prisoner of War, so would be treat
Honour and Law of Arms can never cheat:
Therefore respect my Quality and State.

Crom.] Should vanquish'd Prisoners Conditions make?
What Pity yields, Emergencies may break.
In vain, by State or Quality you plead:
Yes, for your Treason, you shall pay your Head.

D. Ham.] Treason for Duty, O unhappy time,
Can Success justifie the foulest Crime?
I'm sav'd to be capricious Fortunes scorn,
The Royal Cause by suffering to adorn;
And tho' I quite the Stage without applause,
Am posting to destruction's very jaws,
No tribulation shall betray the Cause.
Wrapt up in my untainted Innocence, [Aside
'Gainst all misfortunes stroaks most sure defence:
Racks, Torments, Death it self, I can endure,
Thus fearless pass away the fleeting hour.

[He is carried off Prisoner.

Re-enter Thomas Harrison.

Crom.] Pray Sir, how did your Prisoner behave?

Harr.] His Countenance was somewhat stern and grave,
Tho under your Command this Sword I wear,
He'd for my warrant like a fool enquire,
And further said, are ye to murder me?
No Sir, said I, reserved you shall be,
Till time wind up the mysterie of Fate.

Crom.] The very aspect of a King in some
Had struck an aw, their courage overcome:
And was you not affraid?

Harr.] I forward on this Grand Atchievement went,
My fancy did not Bugbears represent:
I'm sure no cause of fear was to be seen,
Unless that such had in Idea been.
And well may I, a Prince's frown endure,
When stript of all his Royal Pomp and Power.

Crom.] Did in the People Discontent arise,
When you so briskly brought away the Prize?
Could you no grudge or grumbling perceive?

Harr.] When I in Triumph led my Royal Slave,
The manner by my Prudence was devis'd,
The Mobb with such a sight would be surpris'd:
Whilst Drums and Trumpets did the noise resound,
I with my Squadrons did his Coach surround;
So whilst the Idol King himself would shew,
They'd in that Glorious Servitude him view,
Nor Grandeur from Captivity they knew.
At full Career we marcht along the Plain,
And in this Pomp he drag'd about his chain.

Crom.] You've bravely done! but how is he secur'd
Since to that end you likewise were impowr'd?

Ireton] If he escape, how will you be content?
That surely greater broils might yet foment.

Harr.] In's Palace, now his Prison, up he's lockt,
From all diverting Intercourse is blockt;
Yet at such times, and such as I think fit,
To visit him I freely do admit;
I do't, to add to all his Discontent;
Instead of comfort, anguish will torment.
Let those who've seen him seated on a Throne,
Behold him under all these fetters groan.

H. Pet.] He may recal his errors to his mind,
A meditation fit for one confin'd;
But that he will not do -------

Crom.] ------- But rather chuse
Himself with thoughts of Liberty to rouze.

Ireton] Whilst with strong conflicts safety we pursue,
Some Insurrection may the work undo.

H. Pet.] Because no calm this Season can afford,
Throw the unskillful Pilot over board.
By Reason and Religion I could prove,
You wicked Kings should from the World remove.

Ireton] Our Primaeve Pow'r now let us re-assume;

H. Pet.] And of that chained Idol make the doom:
Whoe'er oppose this work, yet I'll be plain;
Without his Blood, you'll swim in Blood again.

[Enter John Bradshaw

Crom.] Welcome you Oracle of Law and Truth.---

H. Peters] And in this Glorious Sanhedrim preside.

Ireton] This Court of your Abilities has need.

Brad.] The meanest Member for a Preses chuse;
My well known Zeal my weakness should excuse:
To visit Earth Astrea once intends,
And in her Chariot from the Clouds descens.
Here, here, and only here, a Seat can find,
The Goddess knows the way, tho' she be blind.
Me to assist I see her ready stand,
Holding the well-pois'd Balance in her hand.

Crom.] Me Agonies of Soul, and pangs, and throws
Deeply affect, disquiet my Repose;
With tears, believe me, trickling down my Eyes,
I Heav'n implor'd, and Heav'n does me advise.
After much wrestling in Prayer with GOD,
My troubled Spirit must shake of the Load;
Yea, Heav'n its Will from me did nowise hide,
Thro' Seas of Blood the shattered Vessel guide;
Or then this Tyrant must be laid aside:
Pity and Justice now divide the strife;
You cannot save your selves, without his Life.

Ireton] But how that shall be done let's first debate.

Harr.] Shall Pistol, Poison, Dager, make his Fate?
For by Precedents I can make't appear,
Why should we bogle, when the matter's clear?

Crom.] Things just, when execute against a Law,
May many Clamours, many hazards draw.
Such of us as are Members of the House,
Justice it self to Duty will include:
I must with such as are not on my side
Threaten, Allure, by Policy divide,
And that the People may be kept in aw,
Be sure it have the colour of a Law.

Brad.] Justice, that moral universal tye
Aloud the people for the same do cry,
Some few, perhaps, misled by fond esteem
Wou'd Kings from Law and Punishment exeem;
Who in his pride had trampled on the Laws,
Without Atturneys here shall plead his Cause.

H. Pet.] We're happy, that within these Walls you lodge
At the Last Day the Saints the World shall judge

Crom.] That strong Malignant Partie in the House
Did these the King restoring Votes produce.
And of their Priviledge it is no breach
Of Misdemeanours, such I can impeach.

Iret.] Justice will be deny'd-----

Crom.] ---- I'll be reveng'd

Iret.] The Tyrant, not the Tyrany, is chang'd.
Themselves the supream Power they falsely call;
O then! We have no Remedy at all.

Har.] Here's Remedy, appeal unto our Power,
From their incroaching Laws, our Right secure.
My Souldiers most readily obey,
And fearless, to the boldest On-sets fly.
That advantageous to our Cause may prove:
We like an undivided Body move.
Once shuffle then,

Crom.] Then I shall play the Game.
First such discard by Force, as I shall Name.

Har.] I'll do't; they's once be garbled to your mind;
The wretched remnant to your pleasure bind.

Iret.] But of the People take this special care;
Their minds for this surprising Change prepare.

Crom.] If my Advice be safe, I giv't in charge,
Former Remonstrances ye do inlarge.
Crave Pay, Areas, Security, and next,
At Justice Bar Delinquents may be fixt.
The King among the rest, declaim 't aloud,
Should expiate his Treason by his Blood.
Your Souldiers the People should excite,
And to such joynt Petitions them invite.
From Him, the only Source, all mischiefs flow,
And in a word, order the matter so:
This for the Peoples joynt desire may current go.

H. Peters] So Mortals, when they act as Heav'n desires,
God with successful means and ways inspires.
Hail mighty General, come lead on the Van,
They'll God-like Honours pay you man by man;
And whilst the prosperous Gale doth fill your Sail,
Let not your Piety your Courage vail.
But since of both the Cause does stand in need,
You're call'd to this great work, O then proceed!
God's Cause, a Glorious Name, unshaken Power
Courage may rouze, the Victory secure.

Crom.] Such Bladders bear me up in storm and stream;
I unconcern'd through reeking Gore can swim.

Iret.] O Bradshaw, Great's the trust repos'd in you!

Brad.] I'll to th'intended purpose manage't too.

Crom.] Pray do: The garbled House will think it fit,
The Tryal of the Cause to you commit:
Homage, to Reverend Judges due, acclaim;
Of JUSTICE-HIGH COURT it shall bear the name;
And Sir, where you'll PRESIDE, let none your Conduct blame.

Brad.] The form's prescrib'd, if I observ't, I'm sure
I act but by a delegated Power. --------

Iret.] Our former struglings should not be forgot;
For still I fear miscarriage of the Plot.
You to the People that by Draught lay down:
A Power in no Estate themselves did own,
And grant they had, it does not warrant you,
Till by express consent they do't allow.

Crom.] Tho some dissent, yet we are still secure,
The Commons are th'original of Power.
What these enact for Law, must be obey'd,
And to the work both Right and Force apply'd.

[Enter John Cook holding a Paper.

Brad.] Have ye drawn up that Charge against the KING?

Cook] Yes, hereto be perus'd, I't read bring.

Brad.] Since that must be the Rule by which you plead,
And we're to Judge, I order't to be read.

Cook] I CHARLES STUART in the Commons name accuse;
Why He an Arbitrary Power did use,
And not the Lawful Limited would chuse:
A King! who should their Liberties defend,
Had Tribute pay'd him for that very end,
To Levy force, proud Banners to display;
Yea, Subjects! Subjects! cause by thousands slay:
Spoils, Rapines, Devastation we have felt;
And all the English Blood that has been spilt:
This CHARLES STUART I charge him with the Guilt.
Therefore, &c. And shall I read it out at large?

Harr.] No: blacken him, but compendize the Charge.

Cook] And next, the Charge by Witnesses I'll prove;
That being done, the Court for Judgment move:
I'll prove, he Armies led with Sword in hand,
Did Men to fight, and burn, and slay command
At Naseby Fields, &c. and many Places more,
Where the poor English waltered in their gore.

Iret.] What if the Jurisdiction he deny?

Crom.] Doubtless he will. --------

Cook] ------ But I to that reply,
By Law he must plead guilty, yea, or not,
Then that demurer's over-rul'd by vote.

Brad.] Ha, ha, the fundamental he'd subvert,
The Court its Jurisdiction will assert.

Iret.] May not the Soveraign Prince that name of dread,
Immunity from all Tribunals plead.

Brad.] I Famous Greece and Rome's Records perus'd;
The People the Chief Magistrate accus'd:
And if from Scotland you'd Examples draw,
Avowedly they punisht Kings by Law.

H. Pet.] When Tyrants in their Pride with Heaven do clash,
God does most justly such in pieces dash.

Bowing to the Caball.

All haill, all haill, by divine Wisdom blest;
Did your Ancestor's Tyrrany resist?
That Noble Blood yet sparkles in your Veins,
And this most grievous Yoke of Kings disdains:
Your Native Liberties secure.
O exercise your Justice and your Power;
I you by their immortal, free-born Souls adjure

Brad.] Religion does this bleeding State divide
Shall Presbyter, or Independent Pride
Which of the two, to this our Conscience guide?

H. Pet.] Both Parties on the Plot did first agree:
Glorie! the Execution you'll decree,
And tho the one sprang from the others Womb,
Yet of the Parent let's erect the Tomb.
Ere my Designs hall not effected be, [Cromwel aside.
The British World shall tremble under me
I see it work: O! it goes gravely on,
And Charles's Blood shall for his Crimes attone
Yes, yes, I will that Parliament chastise:
They bound the Victim: I will sacrifice.
For by this Sword that's hanging by my side;
I'll steer the Helm, I'll once the Spoil divide.
By Heavens, and all that Mortals sacred call
I'll write his Mene Tekel on the Wall.

Har.] Why shou'd vain Disputs still perplex your head,

Brad.] The well digested Plot shall now succeed
Cled in my Scarlet Robe, I'll proudly try,
All Fears and Threats, and Arguments defy.
Be sure that mock of Majesty shall die.

H. Pet.] Rejoice, rejoice; hasten the glorious Day
For which so many thousand Saints do pray.

[Exeunt omnes


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