Dorothy Waugh – “A Relation Concerning Dorothy Waugh’s Cruel Usage by the Mayor of Carlisle”

This very short text (really, the title makes it significantly longer) is one of the “martyrdom narratives” that early Quakers produced in order to publicize their persecutions. Their enemies accused them of seeking these opportunities for martyrdom on purpose, to excite sympathy and put themselves in victims’ roles, although Quakers probably felt about these texts more like the testimony that they are a handful of saints surrounded by the sinful world. The text can’t really be labelled “literature”, but it’s a very affecting document. Waugh, then probably about twenty, recounts how she felt moved by the Holy Spirit to go and preach at the crossroads in Carlisle (Quakers believed in this kind of direct divine inspiration which could move anybody to preach), from where she is immediately dragged off and thrown into prison. The mayor comes to interrogate her and her answer to his first question about where she came from is “Out of Egypt, where thou lodgest”. The answer implies that the mayor is a sinner, while Waugh has already left the state of sin behind, like the Israelites led by Moses. The mayor becomes very angry and orders a barbaric punishment of putting a bridle in her mouth, the penalty usually meted out to women who scolded their husbands or neighbours in public. The whole thing is made of iron, weighs about a stone (including a steel cap it is attached to) and Waugh is ordered to wear it for three hours, with her hands bound behind her back. People who come to see her are moved to tears by this view, but the mayor scolds them, saying “For foolish pity, one may spoil a whole city”. This is somewhat in contrast with the next sentence, in which Waugh informs us that the doorkeeper charged the visitors two pence, but on second thoughts, people who came just because of idle curiosity, could really be moved by seeing her suffer. Then Waugh is kept at prison “for a little season”, but she cannot be really charged with anything, so the mayor comes again, swears at her, orders to put the bridle back on and to whip her out of town.

Lady Anne Halkett – “Memoirs” (the end)

James makes it a habit to play every evening after supper hide-and-seek with his servants, and he is so good at hiding sometimes they can’t find him for half an hour. He also asks the gardener for the key to the garden, saying that he forgot his. He and the gardener are the only people who have these keys and I’m not sure what the point of the whole plan is, unless it is to lock the gate behind him and thus hinder the chase. Anyway, on the night of the planned escape James again plays hide-and-seek, and then sneaks out, locking all the doors behind him. On the street Colonel Bamfield is waiting for him and they cross in a boat to the house where Anne and her servant are waiting for them. Anne was very nervous because they were late, and Bamfield himself told her not to wait for them past ten o’clock, because if they are not there by that time, it means they are caught and she mustn’t compromise herself. But she decides to hang on and when she hears the noise on the stairs, she is sure it’s soldiers coming for her. But fortunately it is the young duke and Colonel Bamfield, and relieved Anne embraces the Duke, thanking God for his escape.

After that the Duke is dressed in girl’s clothes, and Halkett says he looked very pretty in them. He has dinner, which she prepared waiting for him, and takes some Wood Street cake, which Anne ordered because she knew he loved it, into the barge with him. I wonder what Wood Street cake was like? The barge carries them to the ship waiting for them, not without some problems with the wind and such, but Halkett believes God’s providence saved them. In the meantime, Anne and her maidservant Miriam drive as fast as they can to the house of Anne’s brothers. The escape remains undetected for some time, because the servants believe the Duke is still playing hide-and-seek with them.  But when he doesn’t appear, Earl of Northumberland, in whose care the Duke was, orders a thorough search of the house, and then informs the Speaker about the Duke’s escape. The Speaker orders immediately to block all the ports from which ships leave for the continent, but, as Halkett’s source close to the Speaker at that time claims, the scribes were so confused they prepared ten or twelve versions before they came up with an acceptable document, by which time the Duke was already safe at sea.

Edward Hyde Earl of Clarendon – “The History of the Rebellion” (the end)

When Cromwell imposes a new, particularly high tax on the City, one former follower of his, George Cony, opposes the tax, and when Cromwell tries to argue with him, recalling their former friendship, Cony reminds him about his own earlier words, when Cromwell claimed that one not only has a right to protest against unjust taxes, but should actively oppose them by not paying them. Cony is imprisoned and his lawyer argues that the imprisonment is illegal because the taxes he refused to pay were illegal in the first place. The trial is adjourned till the next day, and in the meantime Cromwell imprisons Cony’s lawyer and gives a good talking-to to the judges – when they try to invoke the Magna Carta and such, he tells them the Magna Carta is irrelevant when he works for the greater good of the Commonwealth; moreover, the judges should remember who they have their power from and what can become of them if Cromwell is not around anymore. In a nutshell, Cromwell tells them it’s in their best interest to uphold his power, regardless of the law. So he managed to control the judiciary branch, although unfortunately Hyde does not choose to tell us what eventually became of poor Coney. He also mentions that in matters which did not touch his jurisdiction, Cromwell had great respect for the law, although it’s a little bit like saying that as long as you didn’t stand in his way, Tony Soprano was a really nice guy. Hyde repeats that despite his rather humble origin, and despite not being a particular favourite either with the people or with the army, Cromwell managed to win an unprecedented control over Britain and to sum up, he calls him “a brave, bad man”.

Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon – “The History of the Rebellion” (excerpt)

Clarendon was a supporter of the Stuarts all through the Civil War and after, so it’s small wonder he called the War “the Rebellion”. The excerpted fragment is about the character of Oliver Cromwell, which Clarendon describes following the ancient historians, starting with his death. Cromwell fell ill with the tertiary ague, and until the very last moment he didn’t believe he was going to die because all his preachers assured him God still needs him here on this earth. But he died on September 3, the date which he considered lucky because won two major military victories on that day. On the day of his death a huge storm ravaged both the coasts of England and France. Much as Clarendon dislikes Cromwell, he admits, quoting a Latin saying, that even his enemies could not curse him without praising him and he does give credit to Cromwell’s extraordinary talents, which enabled him to rise to the position of Lord Protector from rather humble (if respectable) beginnings and without any apparent charm or charisma. After he was made Lord Protector, he never asked anybody’s advice and never revealed his plans to anybody but people who executed them and only at the time when it was necessary. Then Clarendon starts telling a long anecdote about how Cromwell dealt with one political enemy of his, but in order not to break it off in the middle, I’ll save it for another post.

Lucy Hutchinson – “Memoirs of the Life of Colonel John Hutchinson”

Lucy Hutchinson was an exceptionally well-educated woman, the wife of a high-ranking Commonwealth official and a Puritan. Consequently, the excerpt from her memoirs about Charles I and his wife is not very complimentary to them. She can give credit where credit is due and write that the moral tone at the court of Charles I was much higher than that at the court of his father: catamites, bawds and mimics are gone, and even debauched courtiers at least have the decency to practice their debauchery in private. The king himself is a great connoisseur of art. But unfortunately, as in ancient Rome the best emperors were often the bitterest persecutors of Christians, so the king is the enemy of all liberty. Puritans are persecuted and many of them choose emigration to America. At the same time, papists are favoured at the court and many people convert to Catholicism for that reason. The king wants to be an absolute monarch, following the example of the French king, and he supports bishops because they suport him in this notion. His worst instigator is the queen, about whom everything is described by Hutchinson as ominous: her Frenchness (“a French queen never brough any happiness to England” – really? what did Eleanor of Aquitaine or Margaret of France do that was so terrible?), her name Marie, which allegedly her husband prefer to call her by rather than Henrietta, and which reminds Hutchinson of Bloody Mary, and of course her femininity, because women are not fit to rule, and Elizabeth I was a good queen only because she submitted to her male counsellors (yeah, right).  The queen starts to plot with the bishops to root out the godly (i.e. Puritans) out of the land, but God in his mercy intervened.

“The Execution of Charles I ” (the end)

The king continues his speech. Using a bit more puns than I expected of a man facing his death, he tells the people accompanying him “you are out of the way and [I] will put you in  a way” (i.e. I’ll correct you). Clearly he not only prayed but also rehearsed his speech. The Parlamentarians victory is by definition “in the way of conquest”, and any war began just for conquest is a bad thing, because wars are justifiable only to correct a wrong (which is exactly what the Roundheads believed themselves to be doing). The only just way of government is to give their due to God, the king and the people. The matters of God can be regulated only by a general synod with the right of free debate. He does not want to dwell too much on the king’s due, because they may think him biased, but only indicates they should follow the laws of the land. As for the people, “their liberty and their freedom consist in having of government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having share in government, sir, that is nothing pertaining to them.”. Clearly not a democrat, this Stuart. Dr Juxon, the bishop accompanying him on the scaffold, reminds him to say something about religion, and Charles, thanking him for this reminder, declares himself to be an Anglican. After that the scene follows the ghastly protocol of all executions: Charles tips the officer supervising his execution (who bears a rather ghastly aptronym of Colonel Hacker), asking him not to give him any unnecessary pain. He and Dr Juxon exchange some uplifiting sentiments about how he goes to the better world. Charles puts on his nightcap, tucks his hair under the cap, stoops down to lay his head on the block and after a short prayer thrusts out his hands to signal he’s ready. His head is cleanly taken off and after that his body and the head are put in a coffin covered with black velvet and carried to Whitehall.

I’ve come across a fascinating hypothesis that Hugh Peters, who preached the most bloodthirsty sermon during Charles’s trial, was also his executioner. That was supposedly the reason why the customary words “Behold the head of a traitor” were not uttered because Peters, being a well-known preacher, didn’t want his voice to be recognized (the executioners were masked).  However, would he be capable of performing so well, with no previous experience in the grim business of beheading? The theory sounds too far-fetched to me. Peters lost his life after the Restoration anyway, in a notably much more painful way than Charles.

“The Execution of Charles I”

This is the account from another ‘newsbook’, A Perfect Diurnal of Some Passages in Parliament. On the day of his execution Charles I is led from St James Palace to Whitehall with full military escort. In Whitehall he prays, but refuses to eat – the author adds in parentheses “having before taken the sacrament”, which could imply that was the reason, but I don’t think that was the case. After all, even the Roman Catholic Church ordered to fast before the communion, not after it, and Charles I was an Anglican anyway. I think he just very reasonably didn’t want to risk throwing up on the scaffold and so limited himself to some bread and a glass of wine. Later he is led to the scaffold erected in front of Whitehall, where he starts to build the legend of King Charles the Martyr by making a speech. (He also is dismayed that the block is so low, probably because he does not want to appear undignified when stooping.) He starts by saying there is no point in addressing the crowd, because he won’t be heard, so he is going to address those next to him on the scaffold. He says he does not consider himself guilty regarding the start of the war and then gets into really complicated explanations that even though this implies the Parliament is totally guilty, he prays to God He would not consider the MPs guilty, and lays the blame at the door of some unidentified “ill instruments between them and me”. But he considers himself guilty of another unjust death, and though he doesn’t name names, everybody knows he means the execution of the earl of Strafford, and so this verdict is the appropriate punishment for him, even though its official justification is wrong. He also forgives all the people involved in his execution, like St Stephen, and he prays they may bring peace to his kingdom. It’s a pity his son was not that forgiving after the Restoration.