Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
 
The Trial of the King
By Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605–1675)
 
From Memorials

THE HIGH COURT of Justice sat in Westminster Hall, the President in his scarlet robe, and many of the commissioners in their best habit.
  1
  After the calling the court, the king came in, in his wonted posture with his hat on; as he passed by in the Hall a cry was made, Justice, Justice, Execution, Execution. This was by some soldiers and others of the rabble.  2
  The king desired to be heard, the president answered, that he must hear the court; and sets forth the intentions of the court to proceed against the prisoner, and withal offered that the king might speak, so it were not matter of debate.  3
  The king desired, that in regard he had something to say, for the peace of the kingdom and liberty of the subject, before sentence were given, he might be heard before the Lords and Commons in the Painted Chamber.  4
  Upon this the court withdrew into the court of wards, and the king to Sir Robert Cotton’s House; and after about an hour’s debate, they returned again into Westminster Hall.  5
  The court resolved, that what the king had tendered, tended to delay; yet if he would speak anything for himself in court, before sentence, he might be heard.  6
  Many of the commissioners in the debate of it in the court of wards, were against this resolution, and pressed to satisfy the king’s desire, and themselves, to hear what the king would say to them in the Painted Chamber, before sentence; but it was voted by the major part in the negative. Upon which Colonel Harvey, and some others of the commissioners went away in discontent, and never sat with them afterwards; this proposal of the king’s being denied by the commissioners, the king thereupon declared himself, that he had nothing more to say.  7
  Then the president made a large speech of the king’s misgovernment, and that by law, kings were accountable to their people, and to the law, which was their superior, and he instanced in several kings, who had been deposed, and imprisoned, by their subjects, especially in the king’s native country, where, of one hundred and nine kings, most were deposed, imprisoned, or proceeded against for mis-government, and his own grandmother removed, and his father an infant crowned.  8
  After this the clerk was commanded to read the sentence, which recited the charge, and the several crimes of which he had been found guilty.  9
  For all which treasons and crimes, the court did adjudge that he, the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and public enemy, shall be put to death by the severing of his head from his body.  10
  The king then desired to be heard, but it would not be permitted, being after sentence, and as he returned through the hall, there was another cry for Justice and Execution.  11
  Here we may take notice of the abject baseness of some vulgar spirits, who seeing their king in that condition, endeavoured in their small capacity, further to promote his misery, that they might a little curry favour with the present powers and pick thanks of their then superiors.  12
  Some of the very same persons were afterwards as clamorous for justice against those that were the king’s judges.  13
  A prince is not exempt from the venom of these mad dogs.  14
 
 
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