The Worlds Famous Orations. Great Britain: I. (7101777). 1906.
Speech on the Scaffold
Richard Rumbold (16221685)
Born about 1622, died in 1685; served under Cromwell at Dunbar and Worcester; one of the guard about the scaffold of Charles I.; member of the Rye House Conspiracy in 1682; indicted for treason but escaped; served in Scotland under the Earl of Argyle in 1685; there captured, tried, condemned, and executed.
IT1 is for all men that come into the world once to die; and after death the judgment! And since death is a debt that all of us must pay, it is but a matter of small moment what way it be done. Seeing the Lord is pleased in this manner to take me to Himself, I confess, something hard to flesh and blood, yet blessed be His name, who hath made me not only willing, but thankful for His honoring me to lay down the life He gave, for His name; in which, were every hair in this head and beard of mine a life, I should joyfully sacrifice them for it, as I do this. Providence having brought me hither, I think it most necessary to clear myself of some aspersions laid upon my name; and, first, that I should have had so horrid an intention of destroying the king and his brother.
It was also laid to my charge that I was antimonarchical. It was ever my thoughts that kingly government was the best of all where justly executed; I mean, such as it was by our ancient lawsthat is, a king, and a legal, free-chosen Parliamentthe king having, as I conceive, power enough to make him great; the people also as much property as to make them happy; they being, as it were, contracted to one another! And who will deny me that this was not the justly constituted government of our nation? How absurd is it, then, for men of sense to maintain that tho the one party of his contract break all conditions, the other should be obliged to perform their part? No; this error is contrary to the law of God, the law of nations, and the law of reason.
But as pride hath been the bait the devil hath caught most by ever since the creation, so it continues to this day with us. Pride caused our first parents to fall from the blessed state wherein they were createdthey aiming to be higher and wiser than God allowed, which brought an everlasting curse on them and their posterity. It was pride caused God to drown the old world. And it was Nimrods pride in building Babel that caused that heavy curse of division of tongues to be spread among us, as it is at this day, one of the greatest afflictions the Church of God groaneth under, that there should be so many divisions during their pilgrimage here; but this is their comfort that the day draweth near where, as there is but one shepherd, there shall be but one sheepfold. It was, therefore, in the defense of this party, in their just rights and liberties, against popery and slavery!2 I die this day in defense of the ancient laws and liberties of these nations; and tho God, for reasons best known to Himself, hath not seen it fit to honor us, as to make us the instruments for the deliverance of His people, yet as I have lived, so I die in the faith that He will speedily arise for the deliverance of His Church and people. And I desire of all you to prepare for this with speed. I may say this is a deluded generation, veiled with ignorance, that tho popery and slavery be riding in upon them, do not perceive it; tho I am sure there was no man born marked of God above another, for none comes into the world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him. Not but that I am well satisfied that God hath wisely ordered different stations for men in the world, as I have already said; kings having as much power as to make them great and the people as much property as to make them happy. And to conclude, I shall only add my wishes for the salvation of all men who were created for that end.
Note 1. Delivered in Edinburgh. Rumbold was captured after having been wounded and then separated from his companions in arms. An immediate trial had been ordered that he might be condemned before he died of his wounds. He was found guilty on June 26, 1685, sentenced to be executed the same afternoon, and was drawn and quartered, the quarters being exposed on the gates of English towns. [back]
Note 2. At this point Rumbold was interrupted by drum beating. He said he would say no more on that subject, since they were so disingenuous as to interrupt a dying man. [back]