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SECOND AGE. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 8 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 8.
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It was not Sunday morning, yet the bells of every steeple in London had been tolling since sunrise; the shops were all shut; and there was such an entire absence of singers and jugglers, of dancing bears and frolicking monkeys in the streets, that it might seem as if the late Protector had risen from his grave, and stalked abroad to frown over the kingdom once more. Nothing this morning betokened the reign of a merry monarch. No savour of meats issued from any house; no echo of music was heard; the streets were as yet empty, the hour of meeting for worship not having arrived, and there being no other cause for coming abroad. There was more than a sabbath purity in the summer sky, unstained by smoke as it could never be but on the day of a general fast in summer. The few boats on the river which brought worshippers from a distance to observe the solemn ordinance in the city, glided along without noise or display. There was no exhibition of flags; no shouting to rival barks; no matching against time. The shipping itself seemed to have a mournful and penitential air, crowded together in silence and stillness. The present had been an untoward season, as regarded the nation's prosperity, in many respects; and when the court and the people were heartily tired of the festivities which had followed the King's marriage, they bethought themselves of taking the advice of many of their divines, and deprecating the wrath of Heaven in a solemn day of entreaty for rain, and for vengeance on their enemies.
The deepest gloom was not where, perhaps, it would have been looked for by the light-minded who regarded such observances as very whole-some for the common people, but extremely tire-some for themselves. Dr. Reede, a young Presbyterian clergyman, the beloved pastor of a large congregation hi London, came forth from his study an hour before the time of service, with a countenance anything but gloomy, though its mild seriousness befitted the occasion. Having fully prepared himself for the pulpit, he sought his wife. He found her with her two little children, the elder of whom was standing at a chair, turning over the gilt leaves of a new book; while the younger, a tender infant, nestled on its mother's bosom as she walked, in a rather hurried manner, from end to end of the apartment.
“What hath fallen out, Esther? Is the babe ill-disposed?” asked the husband, stooping to look into the tiny face that peeped over Esther's shoulder.
“The child is well, my love; and the greater is my sin in being disturbed. I will be so no more,” she continued, returning to the seat where the child was playing with the book; “I will fret myself no more on account of evildoers, as the word of God gives commandment.”
“Is it this which hath troubled you?” asked her husband, taking up the volume,—the new Book of Common Prayer,—of which every clergyman must shortly swear that he believed the whole, or lose his living. “We knew, Esther, what must be in this book. We knew that it must contain that which would make it to us as the false gospel of the infidels; and, thus knowing, there is no danger in the book.”
And he took it up, and turned over its pages, presently observing, with a smile,—
“Truly, it is a small instrument wherewith to be turned out of so large a living. I could lay my finger over the parts which make a gulf between my church and me which I may not pass. The leaven is but little; but since there it must lie, it leavens the whole lump.”
“Do you think?” inquired Esther, hesitatingly; “is it supposed that many will——that your brethren regard the matter as you do?”
“It will be seen in God's own time how many make a conscience of the oaths they take in his presence. For me it is enough that I believe not all that is in this book. If it had been a question whether the King would or would not compel the oath, I could have humbled myself under his feet to beseech him to spare the consciences which no King can bind; but as it is now too late for this, we must cheerfully descend to a low estate among men, that we may look up before God.”
“Without doubt; I mean nought else; but when, and where shall we go?”
“In a few days, unless it should please God to touch the hearts that he hath hardened,—in a few days we must gird ourselves to go forth.”
“With these little ones! And where?”
“Where there may be some unseen to bid us God speed! Whether the path shall open to the right hand or to the left, what matters it?”
“True: if a path be indeed opened. But these little ones——”
“God hath sent food into the heart of wildernesses whence there was no path; and the Scripture hath a word of the young ravens which cry.”
“It hath. I will never again, by God's grace, look back to the estate which my father lost for this very King. But, without reckoning up that score with him, it moves the irreligious themselves to see how he guides himself in these awful times,—toying in his palace-walks this very morning, while he himself puts sackcloth on the whole nation. Edmund is just come in from seeing the King standing on the green walk in the palace-garden, and jesting with the Jezebel who ever contrives to be at that high, back window as he passes by. I would the people knew of it, that they might avoid the scandal of interceding for a jester whom they suppose to be worshipping with them, while he is thinking of nothing so little all the time as worshipping any but his own wantons.”
“If Edmund can thus testify, it is time that I were enlarging my prayer for the King. If for the godly we intercede seven times, should it not for the ungodly be seventy-times seven?”
Mrs. Reede's brother Edmund could confirm the account. In virtue of an office which he held, he had liberty to pass through the palace-garden. The sound of mirth, contrasting strangely with the distant toll of bells, had drawn him into the shade; and he had seen Charles throwing pebbles up to a window above, where a lady was leaning out, and pelting him with sweetmeats in return. It was hoped that the queen, newly married, and a stranger in the country, was in some far-distant corner of the palace, and that she did not yet understand the tongue in which Charles's excesses were wont to be openly spoken of. The Corporations of London had not yet done feasting and congratulating this most unhappy lady; but all supposed matter of congratulation was already over. The clergy of the kingdom prayed for her as much from compassion as duty; and her fate served them as an unspoken text for their discourses on the vanity of worldly greatness. The mothers of England dropped tears at the thought of the lonely and insulted stranger; and their daughters sighed their pity for the neglected bride.
Edmund now came into the room, and his appearance cost Dr. Reede more sighs than his own impending anxieties. Though Edmund held a place of honour and trust at the Admiralty, he had been in possession of it too short a time to justify such a display as he had of late appeared disposed to make. On this day of solemn fast, he seemed to have no thought of sackcloth, but showed himself in a summer black bombazin suit, trimmed very nobly with scarlet ribbon; a camlet cloak, lined with scarlet; a prodigious periwig, and a new beaver.
“What news do you bring from the navy-yards?” inquired Dr. Reede. “Is there hope of the ill spirit being allayed, and the defence of the country cared for?”
“In truth, but little,” replied Edmund, “unless it become the custom to pay people their dues. What with the quickness of the enemy, and the slowness of the people to work without their wages, and the chief men running after the shows and pastimes of the court, and others keeping their hands by their sides through want of the most necessary materials, and the waste that comes of wanton idleness,—it is said by certain wise persons that it will be no wonder if our enemies come to our very shores to defy us, and burn our shipping in our own river.”
“How is it that you obtain your dues, Edmund? This neat suit would be hardly paid for out of your private fortune.”
“It is time for me to go like myself,” said Edmund, conceitedly, “liable as I am to stand before the King or the Duke. I might complain, like the rest, that but little money is to be seen; but, with such as I have, I must do honour to the King's Majesty, whom I am like to see today.”
Mrs. Reede had so strong an apprehension that Edmund would soon be compelled, like others, to forego his salary, that she saw little that was safe and honourable in spending his money on dress as fast as it came in. But that the servants of government were infected with the vanities of the government, they would prepare for the evil days which were evidently coming on, instead of letting their luxury and their poverty grow together.
“So is it ever, whether the vices of government be austere or pleasant,” observed Dr. Reede. “The people must needs look and speak sourly when Oliver grew grave; and now, they have suddenly turned, as it were, into a vast troop of masqueraders, because the court is merry. But there is a difference in the two examples which it behoves discerning men to perceive. In respect of religious gravity, all men stand on the same ground; it is a matter between themselves and their God. But the government has another responsibility, in regard to its extravagance : it is answerable to men; for government does not earn the wealth it spends; and each act of waste is an injury to those who have furnished the means, and an insult to every man who toils hard for scanty bread.”
Government could not be expected to look too closely into these matters, Edmund thought. All governments were more or less extravagant; and he supposed they always would be.
“Because they live by the toil of others? If so, there is a remedy in making the government itself toil.”
“I would fain see it,” cried Mrs. Reede. “I would fain see the King unravelling his perplexed accounts; and the Duke bestirring himself among the ships and in the army, instead of taking the credit of what better men do; and the court ladies ordering their houses discreetly, while their husbands made ready to show what service they had done the nation. Then, my dear, you would preach to a modest, and sober, and thankful people, who, with one heart, would be ready, to listen.”
“It is but too far otherwise now,” replied Dr. Reede. “Of my hearers, some harden their hearts in unchristian contempt of all that is not as sad as their own spirits; and others look to see that the cloak hangs from the shoulder in a comely fashion as they stand. At the same time, there is more need of the word the more men's minds are divided. This is the age when virtue is oppressed, and the selfish make mirth. Of those that pray for the King's Majesty, how many have given him their children's bread, and mourn and pine, while the gay whom they feed have no thought for their misery! Edmund himself allows that the shipwrights go home without their wages, while he who works scarce at all disports himself with his bombazin suit and scarlet ribbons. Can I preach to them as effectually as if they were content, and he——”
“What?” inquired Edmund.
“In truth, Edmund, I could less find in my heart to admonish these defrauded men for stealing bread from the navy-stores for their hungry children, than you for drawing their envious eyes upon you. The large money that pays your small service, whose is it but theirs,—earned hardly, paid willingly to the King, to be spent in periwigs and silk hose? Shall men who thus injure and feel injury in their worldly labour, listen with one heart and mind to the Sabbath word? Too well I know that, from end to end of this kingdom, there is one tumult of bad passions which set the Scriptures at nought. The lion devours the lamb; the innocent know too well the sting of the asp; and as often as a fleece appears, men spy for the wolf beneath it. What chance hath the word when it falls upon ground so encumbered?”
Edmund pleaded that, though he had done little yet to merit his public salary, he meant to do a great deal. This very day, the King had appointed some confidential person to confer with him on an affair in which his exertions would be required. Things had come to such a pass now in the management of the army and navy, that something must be done to satisfy the people; and Edmund hoped, that if he put on the appearance of a rising young man, he might soon prove to be so, and gain honour in proportion to the profit he was already taking by anticipation.
It must be something very pressing that was wanted of Edmund, if no day would serve but that of this solemn fast. It did not occur to the Reedes that it must be a day of ennui to Charles and his court, at any rate, and that there would be an economy of mirth in transacting at such a time business which must be done.
There was a something in Edmund's countenance and gait as he went to worship this morning which made his sister fear that, during the service, he must be thinking more of the expected interview at the palace than of her husband's eloquent exposition of how the sins of the government were the sins of the nation, and how both merited the chastisement which it was the object of this day's penitence to avert. The sermon was a bold one; but the nation was growing bold under a sense of injury, and of the inconsistency of the government. The time was past when plain speakers could be sent off to the wars, for the purpose of being impoverished, made captive, or slain. Dr. Reede knew, and bore in mind, the fate of a certain ancestor of his, and returned thanks in his heart for such an advance in the recognition of social rights as allowed him to be as honest as his forefathers, with greater impunity. He resolved now to do a bolder thing than he had ever yet meditated,—to take advantage of Edmund's going to the palace to endeavour to obtain an interview with the King, and intercede for the Presbyterian clergy, who must, in a few days, vacate their livings, or violate their con-sciences, unless Charles should be pleased to remember, before it was too late, that he had passed his royal word in their favour. Charles was not difficult of access, particularly on a fast-day; the experiment was worth trying.
The streets were dull and empty as the brothers proceeded to the river-side to take boat for the palace. There was a little more bustle by the stairs whence they meant to embark, the watermen having had abundance of time this day to drink and quarrel. The contention for the present God-send of passengers would have run high, if Edmund had not known how to put on the manner of a personage of great importance; a manner which be sincerely thought himself entitled to assume, it being a mighty pleasure, as he declared to his companion, to feel himself a greater man in the world than he could once have expected for himself, or any of his friends for him. He felt as if he was lord of the Thames, while, with his arms folded in his cloak, and his beaver nicely poised, he looked abroad, and saw not another vessel in motion on the surface of the broad river.
This solitude did not last very long. Dr. Reede had not finished contemplating the distant church of St. Paul's, which Wren, the artist, had been engaged to repair. He was speculating on the probable effect of a cupola (a strange form described, but not yet witnessed, in England); he was wondering what induced Oliver to take the choir for horse-barracks, when so many other buildings in the neighbourhood might have served the purpose better; he was inwardly congratulating his accomplished young friend on his noble task of restoring,—not only to beauty, that which was dilapidated,—but to sanctity that which was desecrated. Dr. Reede was thinking of these things, rather than listening to the watermen's account of a singular new vessel, called a yacht, which the Dutch East India Company had presented to the King, when a barge was perceived to be coming up the river with so much haste as to excite Edmund's attention and stop the boatman's description.
“It is Palmer, bringing news, I am sure,— what mighty haste!” observed Edmund, turning to order the boatmen to make for the barge. “News from sea,—mighty good or bad, I am certain. We will catch them on their way.”
“Palmer, the King's messenger! He will not tell his news to us, Edmund.”
“He will, knowing me, and finding where I am going.”
Palmer did tell his news. His Majesty had sustained a signal defeat abroad. The doubt was where to find the King or the Duke, there being a rumour that they were somewhere on the river. Palmer had witnessed a sailing-match between two royal boats, some way below Greenwich, but he could not make out that any royal personages were on board.
“Here they are, if they be on the river!” exclaimed Edmund, inquiring of the watermen if the extraordinary vessel just coming in sight was not the yacht they had described. It was, and the King must be on board, as no one else would dream of taking pleasure on the river this day.
Edmund managed so well to put himself in the way of being observed while Palmer made his inquiries, that both were summoned on board the yacht. The clergyman looked so unlike anybody that the lords and gentlemen within had commonly to do with, that he was not allowed to remain behind. They seemed to have some curiosity to see whether a presbyterian parson could eat like other men, for they pressed him to sit down to table with them,—a table steaming with the good meats which had been furnished from the kitchen-boat which always followed in the rear of the yacht. Dr. Reede simply observed that it was a fast day; and could not be made to perceive that being on the water and in high company absolved him from the observances of the day. Every body else seemed of a different opinion; for, not content with the usual regale of fine music which attended the royal excursions, the lords and gentlemen present had made the fiddlers drunk, and set them in that state to sing all the foul songs with which their professional memories could furnish them. Abundance of punch was preparing, and there was some Canary of incomparable goodness which had been carried to and from the Indies. Two of the company were too deeply interested in what they were about to care for either music or Canary at the moment. Charles and the Duke of Ormond were rattling the dice-box, having staked 1000/. on the cast. It as of some consequence to the King to win it, was he had, since morning, lost 23,000/. in bets with the Duke of York and others about the sailing match which they had carried on while the rest of the nation were at church, deprecating God's judgments.
Having lost his 1000l., he turned gaily to the strangers, as if expecting some new amusement from them. He made a sign to Edmund (whom he knew in virtue of his office), that he would hold discourse with him presently in private, and then asked Dr. Reede what the clergy had discovered of the reasons for the heavy judgment with which the kingdom was afflicted.
Dr. Reede believed the clergy were more anxious to obtain God's mercy than to account for his judgments.
“You are deceived, friend. Our reverend dean of Windsor has been preaching that it is our supineness in leaving the heads of the regicides on their shoulders that has brought these visitations on our people. He discoursed largely of the matter of the Gibeonites, and exhorted us to quick vengeance.”
Dr. Reede could not remember any text which taught that wreaking vengeance on man was the way to propitiate God. He could not suppose that this disastrous defeat abroad would have been averted by butchering the regicides in celebration of the King's marriage, as had been proposed.
The King had not yet had time to comprehend the news of this defeat. On hearing of it, he seemed in a transient state of consternation; marvelled, as his subjects were wont to do, what was to become of the kingdom at this rate; and signified his wish to be left with the messenger, the Duke of York alone remaining to help him to collect all the particulars. The company accordingly withdrew to curse the enemy, wonder who was killed and who wounded, and straightway amuse themselves, the ladies with the dice-box, the gentlemen with betting on their play, and all with the feats of a juggler of rare accomplishments, who was at present under the patronage of one of the King's favourites.
When Palmer had told his story and was dismissed, Edmund was called in, and at his own request, was attended by his brother-in-law,—the discreet gentleman of excellent learning, who might aid the project to be now discoursed of. The King did, at length, look grave. He supposed Edmund knew the purpose for which his presence was required.
“To receive his Highness the Duke's pleasure respecting the navy accounts that are to be laid before Parliament.”
“That is my brother's affair,” replied the King. “I desire from you,—your parts having been well commended to me,—some discreet composure which shall bring our government into less disfavour with our people than it hath been of late.”
Edmund did not doubt that this could easily be done.
“It must be done; for in our present straits we cannot altogether so do without the people as for our ease we could desire. But as for the ease,—there is but little of it where the people are so changeable. They have forgot the flatteries with which they hailed us, some short while since, aud give us only murmurs instead. It is much to be wished that they should be satisfied in respect of their duty to us, without which we cannot satisfy them in the carrying on of the war.”
The Duke of York thought that his Majesty troubled himself needlessly about the way in which supplies were to be obtained from the people. Money must be had, and speedily, or defeat would follow defeat; for never were the army and navy in a more wretched condition than now. But if his Majesty would only exert his prerogative, and levy supplies for his occasions as his ancestors had done, all might yet be retrieved without the trouble of propitiating the nation. The King persisted however in his design of making his government popular by means of a pamphlet which should flatter the people with the notion that they kept their affairs in their own hands. It was the shortest way to begin by satisfying the people's minds.
And how was this to be done? Dr. Reede presumed to inquire. Charles, thoroughly discomposed by the news he had just heard, in addition to a variety of private perplexities, declared that nothing could be easier than to set forth a true account of the royal poverty. No poor gentleman of all the train to whom he was in debt could be more completely at his wit's end for money than he. His wardrobeman had this morning lamented that the King had no handkerchiefs, and only three bands to his neck; and how to take up a yard of linen for his Majety's service was more than any one knew.
Edmund glanced at his own periwig in the opposite mirror, and observed that it would be very easy to urge this plea, if such was his Majesty's pleasure.
“Od's fish! man, you would not tell this beggarly tale in all its particulars! You would not set the loyal housewives in London to offer me their patronage of shirts and neckbands!”
“Besides,” said the Duke, “though it might be very easy to tell the tale of our poverty, it might not be so easy to make men believe it.”
Dr. Reede here giving an involuntary sign of assent, the King would know what was in his mind. Dr. Reede, as usual, spoke his thoughts. The people, being aware what sums had within a few months fallen into the royal treasury, would be slow to suppose that their king was in want of necessary clothing.
“What! the present to the Queen from the Lord Mayor and Aldermen? That was but a paltry thousand pounds.”
Dr. Reede could not let it be supposed that any one expected the King to benefit by gifts to his Queen.
Charles looked up hastily to see if this was intended as a reproach, for he had indeed appropriated every thing that he could lay his hands on of what his dutiful subjects had offered to his Queen, as a compliment on her marriage. The clergyman looked innocent, and the King went on,—
“And as for her portion,—twenty such portions would not furnish forth one war, as the people ought to know. And there is my sister's portion to the Prince of Orleans soon to be paid. If the people did but take the view we would have them take of our affairs at home and abroad, we should not have to borrow of France, and want courage to tell our faithful subjects that we had done so.”
Edmund would do his best to give them the desired opinions. Dr. Reede thought it a pity they could not be by the King's side,—aye, now on board this very boat, to understand and share the King's views, and thus justify the government. As a burst of admiration at some of the juggler's tricks made itself heard in the cabin at the very moment this was said, the King again looked up to see whether satire was intended.
Edmund supposed that one object of his projected pamphlet was to communicate gently the fact of a secret loan of 200,000 crowns from France, designed for the support of the war in Portugal, but so immediately swallowed up at home that it appeared to have answered no more purpose than a loan of so many pebbles, while it had subjected the nation to a degradation which the people would not have voluntarily incurred. This communication was indeed to be a part of Edmund's task; but there was a more important one still to be made. It could not now long remain a secret that Dunkirk was in the hands of the French——
“Dunkirk taken by the French!” exclaimed Dr. Reede, not crediting what he heard. “We are lost indeed, if the French make aggressions like this.”
“Patience, brother!” whispered Edmund. “There is no aggression in the case. The matter is arranged by mutual agreement.”
Dr. Reede looked perplexed, till the Duke carelessly told him that Dunkirk had been sold to the French King. It was a pity the nation must know the fact. They would not like it.
“Like it! Dunkirk sold! Whose property was Dunkirk?” asked Dr. Reede, reverting to the time when Oliver's acquisition of Dunkirk was celebrated as a national triumph.
“We must conduct the bargains of the nation, you know,” replied the Duke. “In old times, the people desired no better managers of their affairs than their kings.”
“'Tis a marvel then that they troubled themselves to have Parliaments. Pray God the people may be content with what they shall receive for a conquest which they prized! Some other goodly town, I trust, is secured us; or some profitable fishing coast; or some fastness which shall give us advantage over the enemy, and spare the blood of our soldiers.”
“It were as well to have retained Dunkirk as taken any of these in exchange,” said the King;— a proposition which Dr. Reede was far from disputing. “Our necessities required another fashion of payment.”
“In money!—and then the taxes will be somewhat lightened. This will be a welcome relief to the people, although their leave was not asked. There is at least the good of a lifting up of a little portion of their burdens.”
“Not so. We cannot at present spare our subjects. This 400,000l. come from Dunkirk is all too little for the occasions of our dignity. Our house at Hampton Court is not yet suitably arranged. The tapestries are such that the world can show nothing nobler, yet the ceilings, however finely fretted, art not yet gilt, The canal is not perfected, and the Banqueting House in the Paradise is yet hart.”
“The extraordinary wild fowl in St. James's Park did not fly over without cost,” observed the Duke.
“Some did. The melancholy water-fowl from Astracan was bestowed by the Russian Ambassador; and certain merchants who came for justice brought us the cranes and the milk-white raven. But the animals that it was needful to put in to make the place answerable to its design, —the antelopes, and the Guinea goats, and the Arabian sheep, and others,—cost nearly their weight of gold. Kings cannot make fair bargains.”
“For aught but necessaries,” interposed the divine.
“Or for necessaries. Windsor is exceedingly ragged and ruinous. It will occupy the cost of Dunkirk to restore it——”
“According to the taste of the ladies of the court,” interrupted the Duke. “They will have the gallery of horns furnished with beams of the rarest elks and antelopes that there be in the world. Then the hall and stairs must be bright with furniture of arms, in festoons, trophy-like : while the chambers have curious and effeminate pictures, giving a contrast of softness to that which presented only war and horror.”
“Then there is the demolishing of the palace at Greenwich, in order to building a new one. Besides the coast of rearing, we are advised so to make a cut as to let in the Thames like a square bay, which will be chargeable.”
“And this is to be ordered by Parliament? or are the people to be told that a foreign possession of theirs is gone to pay for water-fowl and effeminate pictures?”
“Then there is the army,” continued the King. “I have daily news of a lack of hospitals, so that our maimed soldiers die of the injuries of the air. And this very defeat, with which the city will presently be ringing, was caused by the failure of ammunition. And not unknowingly, for this young clerk had the audacity to forewarn us.”
“Better have sold the troops and their general alive into the hands of the enemy, than send them into the field without a sufficiency of defence,” cried Dr. Reede.
“So his Majesty thinks,” observed the Duke; “and has therefore done wisely in taking a goodly sum from the Dutch to delay the sailing of the fleet for the east till the season is too far gone for action. Nay! is it not a benefit for the King to have the money he so much needs, and for the lives to be saved which must be otherwise lost for want of the due ammunition?”
Dr. Reede was too much affected at this gross bartering away of the national honour to trust himself to speak; Edmund observed that he should insist, in his pamphlet, on the exceeding expensiveness of war in these days, in comparison of the times when men went out, each with his bow and arrow, or his battle-axe, and his provision of food furnished at his own charge. Since gunpowder had been used, and engines of curious workmanship,—since war had become a science, it had grown mightily expensive, and the people must pay accordingly, as he should speedily set forth.
“Setting forth also how the people should therefore be the more consulted, before a strife is entered upon,” said the clergyman.
“Nay,” said the Duke, “I am for making the matter short and easy. An expensive army we must have; and a troublesome Parliament to boot is too much. I am for getting up the army into an honourable condition, and letting down the Parliament, His Majesty will be persuaded thereto in time, when he has had another taste of the discontents of his changeable people.”
Dr. Reede imagined that such an innovation might not be the last change, if the nation should have more liking to be represented by a Parliament than ruled by an army. But the Duke did not conceal his contempt for the new fashion of regarding the people and their representatives. There was no telling what pass things might come to when monarchs were reduced to shifts to get money, and the people fancied that they had a right to sit in judgment on the use that was made of it. He seemed to forget that he had had a father, and what had become of him, while he set up as an example worthy of all imitation the spirited old king, bluff Harry, that put out his hand and took what he pleased, and amused himself with sending grumblers to seek adventures north, south, east, or west. If the King would take his advice, he would show the nation an example of the first duty of a king,— to protect his people from violence,—in such a fashion as should leave the Parliament little to say, even if allowed to meet. Let his Majesty bestow all his paternal care on cherishing his army.
“It is true,” said Dr. Reede, “that a ruler's first duty is to give security to his people; and in the lowest state in which men herd together, the danger is looked for from without; and the people who at home gather food, each for himself, go out to war, each with his own weapon. Their ruler does no more than call them out, and point the way, and lead them home. Afterwards, when men are settled on lands, and made the property of the rich and strong, they go out to war at the charge of their lords, and the King has still nothing to do but to command them. Every man is or may be a warrior; and it is for those who furnish forth his blood and sinews, his weapons and his food, to decide about the conduct of the war. But, at a later time, when men intermingle and divide their labour at will, and the time of slavery is over, every man is no longer a warrior, but some fight for hire, while those who hire them stay at their business at home.”
“Or at their pleasures,” observed the Duke, glancing at his brother.
“Under favour, no,” replied Dr. Reede. “It is not. I conceive, the King that hires the army to do his pleasure, but the people who hire it for their defence, the King having the conduct of the enterprises. If the will of the nation be not taken as to their defence,—if they should perchance think they need no armed defence, and lose their passion for conquest, whence must come the hire of their servants,—the soldiery?”
“They must help themselves with it,” replied the Duke. carelessly.
“And if they find a giant at every man's door, —a lion in the path to every one's field?” said the divine.
“Thy learning hath perplexed thee, man. These are not the days of enchantment, of wild beasts, and overtopping men.”
“Pardon me; there are no days when men may not be metamorphosed, if the evil influence be but strong enough. There are no days when a man's household gods will not make a giant of him for the defence of their shrine. There are no days when there are not such roarings in the path of violence as to sink the heart of the spoiler within him.”
“Let but the art of war improve like other arts,” said the Duke, “and our cannon will easily out-roar all your lions, and beat down the giants you speak of.”
“Rather the reverse, I conceive,” said the plain-spoken clergyman. “The expense of improved war is aggravated, not only in the outfit, but in the destruction occasioned. The soldier is a destructive labourer, and, as such, will not be overlong tolerated by an impoverished nation, whose consent to strife is the more necessary the more chargeable such strife becomes to them. Furthermore, men even now look upon blood as something more precious than water, and upon human souls as somewhat of a higher nature than the fiery bubbles that our newly-wise chemists send up into the ether, to wander whither no eye can follow them. Our cannon now knock down a file where before a battle-axe could cleave but a single skull. Men begin already to tremble over their child's play of human life; and if the day comes when some mighty engine shall be prepared to blow to atoms half an army, there may be found a multitude of stout hearts to face it; but where is he who will be brave enough to fire the touch-hole, even for the sure glory of being God's arch enemy?”
“Is this brother of thine seeking a patent for some new device of war-engines?” inquired Charles of the divine. “Methinks your discourse seems like a preface to such a proposal. Would it were so! for patents aid the exchequer.”
“Would it were so!” said the Duke, “for a king might follow his own will with such an engine in his hand.”
“Would it were so!” said Dr. Reede, “for then would the last days of war be come, and Satan would find much of his occupation gone. Edmund, if thou wilt invent such an engine as may mow down a host at a blow, I will promise thee a triumph on that battle-field, and the intercession of every church in Christendom. Such a deed shall one day be done. War shall one day be ended; but not by you, Edmund. Men must enact the wild beast yet a few centuries longer, to furnish forth a barbarous show to their rulers, till men shall call instead for a long age of fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.”
“Meantime,” said Edmund, “they call impertinently for certain accounts of the charges of our wars which his Majesty is over gracious in permitting them to demand.”
“Do they think so?”
“They cannot but see,” said the Duke. “by the way his Majesty gave his speech to the Parliament, that he desires no meddling from them.”
“And how did I speak?” asked the King. “Did I not assure the Commons that I would not have asked for their subsidies if I had not had need: and that through no extravagance of my own, but the disorder of the times! And is not that much to say when I am daily told by my gentlemen of the palace, and others who know better still, that my will is above all privilege of Parliament or city, and that I have no need to account to any at all? How did I speak?”
“Only as if your wits were with your queen, or some other lady, while the words of your speech lay under your eye. Some words your Commons must needs remember, from the many times they were said over; but further—”
“Pshaw!” cried the King, vexed at the description he had himself asked for. “This learned divine knows not what our Parliament is made of. There are but two seamen and about twenty merchants, and the rest have no scruple in coming drunk to the house, and making a mockery of the country people when they are sober. How matters it how I give my speech to them?”
“They are indeed not the people,” observed Reede; “and I forewarn your Majesty that their consent is not the consent of the people; and that however they may clap the hands at your Majesty's enterprises and private sales, the people will not be the less employed in looking back upon Oliver——”
“And forward to me?” inquired the Duke, laughing.
“And forward to the time when the proud father shall not be liable to see his only son return barefoot and tattered from a war where he has spilled his blood; or a daughter made the victim, first of violence, and then of mockery, through the example of the King's court; and no justice to be had but by him who brings the heaviest bribe:—forward to the time when drunken cavaliers shall be thought unfitting representatives of a hungering people; and when the money which is raised by the toils of the nation shall be spent for the benefit of the nation; when men shall inquire how Rome fell, and why France is falling; and shall find that decay ensues when that which is a trust is still pertinaciously used as prerogative, and when the profusion in high places is answerable to the destitution below!”
“Nay; I am sure there is destitution in high places,” cried the King, “and luxury in the lower. I see not a few ladies outshining my Queen in gallantry of jewels; and if you like to look in at certain low houses that I could tell you of, you will see what vast heaps of gold are squandered in deep and most prodigious gaming.”
“True; and therein is found the excuse of the court; that whenever the nation is over-given to luxury, the court is prodigious in its extravagance.”
“Hold, man!” cried the King. “Wouldst thou be pilloried for a libel?”
“Such is too common a sight to draw due regard,” coolly replied the divine. “Libels are in some sort the primers of the ignorant multitude, scornfully despised for their ignorance. There are not means wherewith to give the people letters in an orderly way; so that they gape after libels first, and then they gape to see them burned by the hangman; and learn one sort of hardness by flinging stones at a pilloried wretch, and another sort of hardness by watching the faces of traitors who pray confidently on the scaffold, and look cheerfully about them on the hangman's hellish instruments; and all this hardness, which may chance to peril your Majesty, is not always mollified by such soft things as they may witness at the theatres which profanely give and take from the licentious times. If the people would become wise, such is the instruction that awaits them.”
“Methinks you will provoke us to let the people see how cheerfully you would look on certain things that honest gazers round a scaffold shrink from beholding. It were better for you to pray for me from your pulpit, like a true subject of Christ and your King.”
“Hitherto I have done so; but it pleases your Majesty that from my pulpit I should pray no longer. Alas!” cried he, casting a glance through the window as he perceived that the vessel drew to land, “alas! what a raging fire! And another! And a third!”
“The bonfires for the victory,” quietly observed Edmund.
Dr. Reede was forbidden to throw any doubts abroad on the English having gained a splendid victory. The King had ordered these bonfires at the close of the fast day. They were righted, it appeared, somewhat prematurely, as the sun yet glittered along the Thames; but this only showed the impatient joy of the people. The church bells were evidently preparing to ring merry peals as soon as the last hour of humiliation should have expired. The King's word had gone forth. It suited his purposes to gain a victory just now; and a victory he was determined it should be, to the last moment. When the people should discover the cheat, the favours occasioned by it would be past recall. They could only do that they had done before,—go home and be angry.
This was all that now remained for Dr. Reede, the King's landing being waited for by a throng of persons whose converse had little affinity with wise counsel. Certain courtiers, deplorably ennuyés by the king's absence, sauntered about the gardens, and looked abroad upon the river, in hopes of his approach. An importation of French coxcombs from Dunkirk, in fantastical habits, was already here to offend the eyes of the insulted English people. It was not till Edmund (who was not dismissed with Dr. Reede) began to exhibit at home the confidence with which he had been treated, that Dr. Reede and his lady became aware how much these accomplished cadets could teach Charles on the part of their own extravagant master. Louis the Fourteenth knew of more ways of raising money than even Charles. He had taken to creating offices for sale, for which the court ladies amused themselves in making names. The pastime of divining their object and utility was left to the people who paid for them. They read, or were told,—and it made a very funny riddle,—that the inspector of fresh-butter had kissed bands on his appointment; that the ordainer of faggots had had the honour of dining with his Majesty; and that some mighty and wealthy personage had been honoured with the office of licenser of barber-wig-makers.
The example of Louis in this and other matters was too good not to be followed by one in circumstances of equal necessity. Edmund was not by any means to delay the “discreet composure” by which the minds of the people were to be propitiated and satisfied. He was to laud to the utmost the Duke's conduct of naval affairs, —(whose credit rested on the ability of his complaisant Clerk of the Acts.) He was to falsify the navy accounts as much as could be ventured, exaggerating the expenses and extenuating the receipts, while he made the very best of the results. He was to take for granted the willingness of a grateful people to support the dignity of the sovereign, while he insinuated threats of the establishment of a civil list,—(a thing at that time unknown.) All this was to be done not the less for room being required for eloquence about the sale of Dunkirk, and the loan from France, and the bribe from Holland; —monuments of kingly wisdom all, and of paternal solicitude to spare the pockets of the people. All this was to be done not the less for the bright idea which had occurred to some courtier's mind that the making of a few new ambassadors might bring money to his Majesty's hands. There was more than one man about the court who was very willing to accept of the dignity of such an office, and to pay to the power that appointed him a certain fair proportion of the salary which the people must provide. One gentleman was accordingly sent to Spain, to amuse himself in reading Calderon, and another to some eastern place where he might sit on cushions, and smoke at the expense of the people of England, and to the private profit of their monarch. Amidst all these clever arrangements, nothing was done for the security or the advancement of the community. No new measures of defence; no better administration of justice; no advantageous public work, no apparatus of education, were originated; and, as for the dignity of the sovereign, that was a matter past hope. But by means of the treacherous sale of the nation's property and of public offices, by bribes, by falsification of the public accounts, breaches of royal credit were for the present stopped, and the day of reckoning deferred. If the Duke of York could have foreseen from whom and at what time this reckoning would be demanded, he might have been less acute in his suggestions, and less bold in his advice; and both he and the King might have employed to less infamous purpose this day of solemn fast and deprecation of God's judgments. But, however true might be Dr. Reede's doctrine that the sins of government are the sins of the nation, it happened in this case, as in a multitude of others, that the accessaries to the crime offered the atonement, while the principals made sport of both crime and atonement.
The false report about the late engagement had gained ground sufficiently to answer the temporary purposes of those who spread it. As Dr. Reede took his way homewards, bonfires gleamed reflected in the waters of the river, and exhibited to advantage the picturesque fronts of the wooden houses in the narrow streets, and sent trains of sparks up into the darkening sky, and illuminated the steeples that in a few more seasons were to fall into the surging mass of a more awful conflagration. On reaching the comfortable dwelling which he expected to be soon compelled to quit, he gave himself up, first to humiliation on account of the guilt against which he had in vain remonstrated, and then to addressing to the King a strong written appeal on behalf of the conscientious presbyterian clergy, who had, on the faith of the royal word, believed themselves safe from such temptations to violate their consciences as they were now suffering under.
On a certain Saturday of the same month might be seen the most magnificent triumph that ever floated on the Thames. It far exceeded the Venetian pageantry on occasion of espousing the Adriatic. The city of London was entertaining the King and Queen: and the King was not at all sorry that the people were at the same time entertained, while he was making up his mind whether, on dissolving the Parliament, he should call another which would obligingly give him the dean and chapter lands, or whether he should let it be seen, according to the opinion of his brother, that there was no need of any more parliaments. As he sat beside his Queen, in an antique-shaped vessel, under a canopy of cloth of gold, supported by Corinthian pillars, wreathed with flowers, festoons, and garlands, he meditated on the comfort that would accrue, on the one hand, from all his debts being paid out of these church lands, and, on the other, from such an entire freedom from responsibility as he should enjoy when there should be no more speeches to make to his Commons, and no more remonstrances to hear from them, grounded on dismal tales of the distresses of his people which be had rather not bear. The thrones and triumphal arches might do for the corporation of London to amuse itself with, and for the little boys and girls on either side of the river to stare at and admire: but it was in somewhat too infantine a taste to please the majority of the gazers otherwise than as a revival of antique amusements. The most idly luxurious about the court preferred entertainments which had a little more meaning in them, —dramatic spectacles, pictures, music, and fine buildings and gardens. War is also a favourite excitement in the middle age of refinement; and the best part of this day's entertainments, next to the music, was the peals of ordnance both from the vessels and the shore, which might prettily remind the gallants, amidst their mirth and their soft flirtations, of the cannonading that was going on over the sea. Within a small section of the city of London, many degrees of mirth might be found this day.
In the royal barge, the Queen east her “languishing and excellent eyes” over the pageant before her, and returned the salutations of the citizens who made obeisances in passing, and now and then exchanged a few words with her Portuguese maids of honour, the King being too thoughtful to attend to her;—altogether not very merry.
In the barge immediately following, certain of the King's favourites made sport of the Queen's foretop,—turned aside very strangely,—of the monstrous fardingales and olivada complexions and unagreeable voices of her Portuguese ladies, —and of the old knight, her friend, whose bald pate was covered by a huge lock of hair, bound on by a thread, very oddly. The King's gravity also made a good joke: and there was an amusing incident of a boat being upset, which furnished laughter for a full half hour. A family of Presbyterians, turned out of a living because the King had broken his word, were removing their chattels to some poor place on the other side of the river, and had unawares got their boat entangled in the procession, and were run down by a royal barge. It was truly laughable to see first the divine, and then his pretty daughters, with their dripping long hair, picked up from the water, while all their little wealth went to the bottom: and yet more so to witness how, when the King, of his bounty, threw gold to the sufferers, the clergyman tossed it back so vehemently that it would have struck the Duke of York on the temple, if he had not dexterously contrived to receive it on the crown of his periwig. It was a charming adventure to the King's favourites;—very merry.
In the mansions by the river side, certain gentlemen from the country were settling themselves, in preparation for taking office under the government. They and their fathers had been out of habits of business for fourscore years, and were wholly incapable of it, and knew themselves to be so; the best having given themselves to rural employments, and others to debauchery; but, as all men were now declared incapable of employment who had served against the King, and as these cavaliers knew that their chief business was to humour his Majesty, they made themselves easy about their responsibilities, looked after their tapestries, plate, and pictures, talked of the toils and cares of office, and were—very merry.
In the narrow streets in their neighbourhood might be hourly seen certain of the King's soldiers, belted and armed, cursing, swearing, and stealing; running into public-houses to drink, and into private ones to carry off whatever they had a mind to; leaving the injured proprietors disposed to reflect upon Oliver, and to commend him,—what brave things he did, and how safe a place a man's own house was in his time, and how he made the neighbour princes fear him; while now, a prince that came in with all the love, and prayers, and good-liking of his people, who had given greater signs of loyalty and willingness to serve him with their estates than ever was done by any people, could get nothing but contempt abroad, and discontent at home; and had indeed lost all so soon, that it was a miracle how any one could devise to lose so much in so little time. These housekeepers, made sage by circumstance, looked and spoke with something very little like mirth. Those who had given occasion to such thoughts were, meantime,—very merry.
It was not to these merry men, wise people thought, that the King must look for help in the day of war, but to the soldiers of the republican army, who had been declared by act of parliament for evermore incapable of serving the kingdom. But where were these men to be found, if wanted? Not one could be met with begging in the streets to tell how his comrades might be reached. One captain in the old parliament army was turned shoemaker, and another a baker. This lieutenant was now a haberdasher; that a brewer. Of the common soldiers, some were porters, and others mechanics in their aprons, and husbandmen in their frocks, and all as quiet and laborious as if war had never been their occupation. The spirits of these men bad been trained in contentment with God's providences; and though, as they sat at the loom and the last, they had many discontented thoughts of man's providences, it was clear to observers among the King's own servants that he was a thousand times safer from any evil meant by them than from his own unsatisfied and insatiable cavaliers. While the staid artizans who had served under Cromwell looked out upon the river as the procession passed, they dropped a few words in their families about the snares of the Evil One, and were—not very merry.
Within hearing of the ordnance in which the young gallants of the court delighted was an hospital, meagrely supplied with the comforts which its inmates required, where languished, in a crowded space, many of the soldiers and sailors who had been set up to be fired at while it was known in high quarters that there was such a deficiency of ammunition as must deprive the poor fellows of the power of effectual self-defence. This fact had become known, and it had sunk deep into the souls of the brave fellows who, maimed, feverish, and heart-sore,—in pain for want of the proper means of cure, and half suffocated from the number of their fellow-sufferers, listened with many a low-breathed curse to the peals of ordnance that shook their crazy place of refuge, and forswore mirta and allegiance together.
Within hearing of the shouts aud ot a faint occasional breath of music from the- royal band, were certain of the two thousand clergy, who were to resign their livings the next morning, and whose families. were taking advantage of the neighbourhood being deserted for the day to remove their furniture, and betake themselves to whatever place they might have found wherein the righteous could lay his head. Dr Reede was one of these. He had been toiling all day with his wife, demolishing the tout ensemble of comfort which had been formed under her management. He was now. while she was engaged with her infants, sitting alone in his study lot the last time. He was doing nothing; for his business in this place was closed. He let his eye be amused by the quick flickering in the breeze of the short, shining grass of his little court, which stretched up to his window. The dark formal shrubs, planted within the paling by his own hand, seemed to nod to him as the wind passed over their heads. The summer flowers in the. lozenge-.shaped parterres which answered to each other, danced and kissed unblamed beneath the Rev. Doctor's gaze. All looked as it Nature's heart were merry however sad might be those of her thoughtful children. The Doctor stepped out upon the grass There was yet more for him to do there. He had, with his own hands, mowed the plat, and clipped the borders and the little hands of the elder of his two children had helped to pluck out the very few weeds that had sprung up. But the weather had been warm and dry, and, in order to leave the place. in the beauty desired by its departing tenant, it was necessary to water the flower-court, It was not a very inspiriting thing to glance at doors and windows standing wide, displaying the nakedness of an empty dwelling within: so the Doctor hastened to the well to fill his bucket. Mrs. Reede heard the jingle of the chain, and showed herself at an upper window, while the child that could walk made her way down stairs with all speed to help papa, and wonder at her own round little face in the full bucket. Mrs. Reede was glad that her husband had turned out of his study, though she could not bring herself to sympathize in his anxiety to leave all in a state of the greatest practicable beauty. If a gale had torn up the shrubs, or the hot sun of this summer day had parched the grass and withered the flowers, she did not think she could have been sorry. But it was very well that her husband had left his study open for the further operations necessary there. This room had remained the very last in its entireness. The time was now come when she must have asked her husband to quit his chair and desk, and let his books be dislodged. She would make haste to complete the work of spoliation, and she hoped he would make a long task of watering the flower-court.
He was not likely to do that when he had once perceived that she and one of her damsels were lifting heavy loads of books, while another was taking care of the baby. He hastened to give their final draught to his favourite carnations, placed a chair for Esther on the grass just outside the window, where she might sit with the infant, and, while resting herself, talk to him as he finished her laborious task.
Mrs. Reede did not remember to have ever started so incessantly at the sound of guns; and the air-music of the window-harp that she had seen in the pavilions of great men's gardens had never come sou mournfully over her spirit as the snatches of harmony that the wind now brought from the river to make her infant hold up his tiny finger while his sister said “hark!” She was, for once, nervous. It might be seen in her flushed face and her startled movements; and the poor baby felt it in the absence of the usual ease with which he was held and played with. A sharp sudden cry from him called the attention of the doctor from his talk. In a moment, mamma's grief was more tumultuous than the infant's.
“O, my child! my child! I have hurt my child! my own little baby!” cried she, weeping bitterly, and of course redoubling the panic of the little one.
“My dear love,” said her husband, trying to prove to her that the baby had only been frightened by a jerk; “my dear love, you alarm yourself much more than the child. See!” and he held up in the evening sunlight the brass plate on which his study lamp stood. Its glittering at once arrested the infant's terrors: but not so soon could the tears of the mother be stopped.
“My love, there must be some deeper cause than this trifling accident,” said he, sitting down on the low window sill beside her chair, “Is it that you have pent up your grief all day, and that it will have way?”
Mrs. Reede had a long train of sad thoughts to disclose, in the intervals of her efforts to compose herself. The children, she said, amused themselves as if nothing was the matter; while who could tell what they might think hereafter of being thus removed from a fair and honourable home, and carried where— O, there was no telling what lot might await them! If everybody had thought the sacrifice a right one, she could have gone through it without any regret: but some of her husband's oldest friends thought him wrong——
“Towards God, or towards you, my love?”
“O, towards these children, I suppose. They dare not think that you would do anything wrong towards me. I am sure I only think of you first, and then of the children. How you have preached here, with the souls of your people in your hand, to mould them as you would! and now, you must go where your gift and your office will be nothing; and you will be only like any other man. And, as for the children, we do not know——”
“When the bird leads forth her brood from their warm nest, because springes are set round about them, does she know what shall befall them? There may be hawks abroad, or a sharp wind that may be too strong for their scarce-plumed wings. Or they may gather boldness from their early flight, and wave in the sunshine on a high bough, and pour out there a grateful morn and even song from season to season. The parent bird knows not but she must needs take them from among the springes, however soft may be the nest, and cool the mossy tree. We know more than this parent bird; even that no sparrow falleth unheeded to the ground.”
Mrs. Reede's tears began to flow again as another faint breath of music reached her.
“Is it that you will be more composed when the sounds of mirth, to us unseasonable, have passed away?” asked Dr. Reede, smiling.
“It does seem hard that our spoilers should be making merry while we are going forth we know not whither,” said the wife.
“How would it advantage the mother bird that the fowlers should he close while she plumes her pinions to be gone? Will she stoop in her flight for all their mirth? As for us, music may be to us a rare treat henceforth. Let our ears be pleased with it, whencesoever it may come.”
And he made the children hearken, till they clapped their little hands, and their mother once more smiled. Her husband then said to her,
“If this mirth be ungodly, there is no reason why we should be more scandalized at it than on any other day, only because we ourselves are not merry. If it be innocent, we should thank God that others are happier than ourselves. Yet I am not otherwise than happy in the inward spirit. I shall never repent this day.”
“They say you will, when——But it is not as if we stood alone. It is said that there will be a large number of the separated.”
“Thank God! not for the companionship to ourselves, so much as for the profit to his righteousness. It will be much to meet here and there eves that tell back one's own story, and to clasp hands that are undefiled by the world's lucre. But it is more to know that God's truth is so hymned by some thousand tongues this night, that the echo shall last till weak voices like ours shall be wanted no more.”
“Let us go,” cried Mrs. Reede, dispersing her last tears, and lifting up one child while the other remained in her husband's arms. He took advantage of her season of strength, and resolved to convey her at once to the humble lodging which was to be their present abode, and to return himself to see that, all was done. He detained her only to join him in a brief thanksgiving for the happiness they had enjoyed there since their marriage day, and to beseech a blessing on him who was to succeed to the dwelling and to the pastoral office, Courageous as was Mrs. Reede's present mood, she was still at the mercy of trifles. The little girl's kitten would not bear them company. It had been removed twice, and had returned, and now was not to be found. It had hidden itself in some corner whence it would come out when they were gone; and the child departed in a very unchristian state of distress. Her mamma found that both she and her child had yet to learn Dr. Reede's method of not fretting because of evil-doers.
Though he could not trouble himself with personal resentments, no mall could more strenuously rebuke and expose guilt,—especially guilt in high places, which is so much worse than other guilt, in as far as it desolates a wider region of human happiness. In his farewell discourse, the next day, he urged some considerations on behalf of society far more eagerly than he ever asked anything for himself.
“It is no new thing,” said he, “for men to be required to set their hand to that which they believe not, or to affirm that they believe that which they understand no more in the expression them in the essence. It is no new thing for a mistake to be made as to such protestation, so that if a man say he believes that a sown field will bear corn, though he knows not the manner of its sprouting nor the order of its ripening, he shall be also required to believe a proposition in an unknown tongue, whereof he knows not even what it is that should be proposed. It is no new thing that men should start at such a requisition, as a sound-witted man would start from the shows and babble of the magician; or as a modest wise man would shrink from appointing the way to a wandering comet, lest he should unawares bring the orderly heavens to a mighty wreek. It is no new thing for the searchers of God's ways to respect his everlasting laws more than man's presumptuous bidding: or for Him whom they serve so to change the face of things to them as to make his extremest yoke easy, and his heaviest burden light:—to cast a shade over what must be foregone,—whether it be life itself, or only the goodly things in which maybe too much of our life hath been found,—or to beam a light from his own highest heaven on the wilderness-path, which may seem horrid to those who are not to tread it, but passable enough to such as must needs take this way to their everlasting home. These things being not new, are a sign to us recusants of this day not to be in anywise astonished or dismayed, and also not to allow a dwelling upon the part we have taken, as if it were any mighty mcrit to trust to God's providence, which waits only to be trusted, or required any marvellous faith to commit ourselves to Christ's word, which, if it be Christ's, must stand when the heavens themselves shall be dissolved. It behoves us rather to took to things less clear than these, and more important than the putting forth of a few of Christ's meanest shepherds from their folds;—for whom the chief Shepherd may perhaps find other occasions; and, if not, they may be well content to lie down among the sheep, remembering that he once had not where to lay his head. The true occasion of this day is not to break one another's hearts with griefs and tears, (which may but puff out or quench the acceptable fire of the altar;) but so to fan the new-kindled flame as that it may seize and consume whatsoever of foul and desecrating shows most hideous in its light. Is it not plain that powers whose use is ushered in with prayers, and allernated with the response of God's most holy name,—the powers of government,—are used to ensnare those who open their doors to whatsoever cometh in that name? It is well that governments should be thus sanctified to the cars and eyes of the governed; for, if there be a commission more certamly given straight from the hand of God than another it is that of a ruler of men. Who but he opens the eyes of the blind, and unstops the ears of the deaf, and sets the lame on his feet, and strengthens together the drooping heart and the feeble knees,—by setting before the one the radiant frame of society in all its fitness, and waking up for another the voices of human companionship, and compacting the powers of the weak with those of the strong, and cheering all by warding off injury from without, and making restraint easy where perchance it may gall any of those who are within? Sacred is the power of the ruler as a trust; but if it be used as a property, where is its sanctity? If the steward puts out the eyes that follow him too closely, and ties the tongue that importunes, and breaks the hmbs of the strong man in sport, so as to leave him an impotent beggar in the porch of the mansion,—do we not know from the Scripture what shall be the fate of that steward? As it is with a single ruler, so shall it be with a company of rulers,— with a government which regards the people only as the something on which itself must stand; which takes bread from the children to give it to dogs; which sells God's gifts to them that are without, at the risk of such utter blindness that they shall weary themselves to find the door out of their perplexities and terrors. What governments there be that commit the double sin of lording it over consciences, (which are God's heritage,) and of ruling for their own low pleasures instead of the right living and moving of the people, judge ye. If there be any which mismanage its defence, and deny or pervert justice, and refuse public works, and make the church a scandal, and the court a spectacle for angels to weep over and devils to resort to, and, instead of speeding the people's freedom with the wings of know-ledge, shut them into the little cells of ancient men's wits, it is time that such should know why God hath made them stewards, and should be alarmed for the coming of their Master. It is not for the men and maid-servants to wrest his staff from his hands, or to refuse his reasonable bidding, or to forsake, the one his plough, and the other his mill, and the maidens to spread the table: but it is for any one to give loud warning that the Master of the house will surely demand an account of the welfare of his servants. Such a warning do I give; and such is the warning spoken by the many mourners of this day, who, because they honour the kingly office as the holiest place of the fair temple of society, and kingly agents as the appointed priesthood, can the less bear to see the nation outraged as if there were no avenging angel of Jehovah flying abroad; and comfortless in their miseries, as if Jehovah himself were not in the midst of them.”
It was well that Dr. Reede felt that he could bear the pillory. He was pilloried.