Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Clarendons Letter to the King
By Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon (16091674)
From the Life
MAY it please your Majesty, I am so broken under the daily insupportable instances of your Majestys terrible displeasure, that I know not what to do, hardly what to wish. The crimes which are objected against me, how passionately soever pursued, and with circumstances very unusual, do not in the least degree fright me. God knows I am innocent in every particular as I ought to be; and I hope your Majesty knows enough of me to believe that I had never a violent appetite for money, that could corrupt me. But, alas! your Majestys declared anger and indignation deprives me of the comfort and support even of my own innocence, and exposes me to the rage and fury of those who have some excuse for being my enemies; whom I have sometimes displeased, when (and only then) your Majesty believed them not to be your friends. I hope they may be changed; I am sure I am not, but have the same duty, passion, and affection for you that I had when you thought it most unquestionable, and which was and is as great as ever man had for any mortal creature. I should die in peace (and truly I do heartily wish that God Almighty would free you from further trouble by taking me to Himself) if I could know or guess at the ground of your displeasure, which I am sure must proceed from your believing, that I have said or done somewhat I have neither said nor done. If it be for any thing my Lord Berkeley hath reported, which I know he hath said to many, though being charged with it by me he did as positively disclaim it; I am as innocent in that whole affair, and gave no more advice or counsel or countenance in it, than the child that is not born; which your Majesty seemed once to believe, when I took notice to you of the report, and when you considered how totally I was a stranger to the persons mentioned, to either of whom I never spake word, or received message from either in my life. And this I protest to your Majesty is true, as I have hope in heaven; and that I have never wilfully offended your Majesty in my life, and do upon my knees beg your pardon for any over-bold or saucy expressions I have ever used to you; which, being a natural disease in old servants who have received too much countenance, I am sure hath always proceeded from the zeal and warmth of the most sincere affection and duty.
I hope your Majesty believes, that the sharp chastisement I have received from the best-natured and most bountiful master in the world, and whose kindness alone made my condition these many years supportable, hath enough mortified me as to this world; and that I have not the presumption or the madness to imagine or desire ever to be admitted to any employment or trust again. But I do most humbly beseech your Majesty, by the memory of your father, who recommended me to you with some testimony, and by your own gracious reflection upon some one service I may have performed in my life, that hath been acceptable to you; that you will by your royal power and interposition put a stop to this severe prosecution against me, and that my concernment may give no longer interruption to the great affairs of the kingdom; but that I may spend the small remainder of my life, which cannot hold long, in some parts beyond the seas, never to return; where I will pray for your Majesty, and never suffer the least diminution in the duty and obedience of,
May it please your Majesty, Your Majestys Most humble and most Obedient subject and servant,