Project Canterbury

Eikon Basilike,
Or, The King's Book

Edited by Edward Almack

London: A. Moring, Limited, At the De la More Press, 1904.
text from an "advance copy" of the first edition, 1649.


8. Upon His Majesties repulse at Hull, and the fates of the Hothams.

MY repulse at Hull seemed at the first view an act of so rude disloyalty, that My greatest enemies had scarce confidence enough to abett, or owne it: It was the first overt Essay to be made, how patiently I could beare the Losse of My Kingdomes.

God knows, it affected me more with shame and sorrow for others, then with anger for My selfe; nor did the affront done to Me trouble Me so much as their sinne, which admitted no colour or excuse.

I was resolved how to beare this, and much more, with patience: But I foresaw they could hardly conteine themselves within the compasse of this one unworthy act, who had effrontery enough to commit, or countenance it. This was but the hand of that cloud, which was soone after to overspread the whole Kingdome, and cast all into disorder and darknesse.

For tis among the wicked Maximes of bold and disloyall undertakers: That bad actions must alwayes be seconded with worse, and rather not be begun then not carried on, for they think the retreat more dangerous then the assault, and hate repentance more then perseverance in a Fault.

This gave Me to see clearly through all the pious disguises, and soft palliations of some men; whose words were sometime smoother then oyle, but now I saw they would prove very Swords.

Against which I having (as yet) no defence, but that of a good Conscience, thought it My best policy (with patience) to bear what I could not remedy: And in this (I thank God) I had the better of Hotham, that no disdain, or emotion of passion transported Me, by the indignity of his carriage, to doe or say any thing, unbeseeming My self, or unsutable to that temper, which, in greatest injuries, I think, best becomes a Christian, as comming nearest to the great example of Christ.

And indeed, I desire alwaies more to remember I am a Christian, then a King; for what the Majesty of one might justly abhor, the Charity of the other is willing to bear; what the height of a King tempteth to revenge, the humility of a Christian teacheth to forgive. Keeping in compasse all those impotent passions, whose excess injures a man, more then his greatest enemies can; for these give their malice a full impression on our souls, which otherwaies cannot reach very far, nor doe us much hurt.

I cannot but observe how God not long after so pleaded, and avenged My cause, in the eye of the world, that the most wilfully blind cannot avoid the displeasure to see it, & with some remorse and fear to own it as a notable stroke, and prediction of divine vengeance.

For, Sir John Hotham unreproached, unthreatned, uncursed by any language or secret imprecation of Mine, onely blasted with the conscience of his owne wickednesse, and falling from one inconstancy to another, not long after paies his owne and his eldest Sons heads, as forfeitures of their disloyalty, to those men, from whom surely he might have expected another reward then thus to divide their heads from their bodies, whose hearts with them were divided from their KING.

Nor is it strange that they who imployed them at first in so high a service, and so successfull to them, should not find mercy enough to forgive Him, who had so much premerited of them: For, Apostacy unto Loyalty some men account the most unpardonable sinne.

Nor did a solitary vengeance serve the turne, the cutting off one head in a Family is not enough to expiate the affront done to the head of the Common-weale. The eldest Son must be involved in the punishment, as he was infected with the sinne of the Father, against the Father of his Country: Root and branch God cuts off in one day.

These observations are obvious to every fancy: God knows, I was so farre from rejoycing in the Hotham's ruine, (though it were such as was able to give the greatest thirst for revenge a full drought, being executed by them who first employed him against Me) that I so farre pitied him; as I thought he at first acted more against the light of his Conscience, then I hope many other men doe in the same Cause.

For, he was never thought to be of that superstitious sowrenesse, which some men pretend to, in matters of Religion; which so darkens their judgment that they cannot see anything of Sinne and Rebellion in those meanes, they use, with intents to reforme to their Models, of what they call Religion, who think all is gold of piety, which doth but glister with a shew of Zeale and fervency.

Sir John Hotham was (I think) a man of another temper, and so most liable to those downright temptations of ambition, which have no cloake or cheat of Religion to impose upon themselves or others.

That which makes me more pity him is, that after he began to have some inclinations towards a repentance for his sinne, and reparation of his duty to Me, He should be so unhappy as to fall into the hands of their Justice, and not My Mercy, who could as willingly have forgiven him, as he could have asked that favour of Me.

For I think clemency a debt, which we ought to pay to those that crave it, when we have cause to believe they would not after abuse it, since God himself suffer us not to pay any thing for his mercy but onely prayers and praises.

Poor Gentlemen, he is now become a noteable monument of unprosperous disloyalty, teaching the world by so sad and unfortunate a spectacle, that the rude carriage of a Subject towards his Soveraigne carries alwaies its own vengeance, as an unseperable shadow with it, and those oft prove the most fatal, and implacable Executioners of it, who were the first Imployers in the service.

After-times will dispute it, whether Hotham were more infamous at Hull, or at Tozcer-hill; though 'tis certain that no punishment so stains a mans Honour, as wilfull preparations of unworthy actions; which besides the conscience of the sinne, brands with most indelible characters of infamy, the name and memory to posterity, who not engaged in the Factions of the times, have the most impartial! reflections on the actions.

But thou, O Lord, who hast in so remarkable a way avenged thy Servant, suffer me not to take any secret pleasure in it, for his death hath satisfied the injury he did to me, so let me not by it gratifie any passion in me, lest I make thy vengeance to be mine, and consider the affront against me, more than the sin against thee.

Thou indeed, without any desire or endeavour of mine, hast made his mischief to returne on his owne head, and his violent dealing to come down on his owne pate.

Thou hast pleaded my cause, even before the sonnes of men, and taken the matter into thine owne hands; that men may know it was thy work, and see that thou, Lord, hast done it.

I do not, I dare not say, so let mine enemies perish O Lord! yea Lord, rather give them repentance, pardon, and impunity, if it be thy blessed will.

Let not thy justice prevent the objects and opportunities of my mercy; yea, let them live and amend who have most offended me in so high a nature; that I may have those to forgive, who beare most proportion in their offences to those trespasses against thy majesty, which I hope thy mercy hath forgiven me.

Lord lay not their sins (who yet live) to their charge for condemnation, but to their consciences for amendment: Let the lighting of this thunderbolt, which hath been so severe a punishment to one, be a terrour to all.

Discover to them their sinne, who know not they have donne amisse, and scare them from their sinne, that sinne of malicious wickednesse.

That preventing thy judgments by their true repentance, they may escape the strokes of thine eternall vengeance.

And doe thou, O Lord, establish the Throne of thy servant in mercy, and truth meeting together; let my Crowne ever flourish in righteousnesse, and peace, kissing each other.

Heare my prayer, O Lord, who hast taught us to pray for, to doe good to, and to love our enemies, for thy sake; who hast prevented us with offertures of thy love, even when we were thine enemies, and hast sent thy Sonne Jesus Christ to die for us, when we were disposed to crucifie him.