King Charles the Martyr on Arbitrary Power

kcm172018The words of Charles I, King and Martyr:

“Yet so tender I see some men are of their being subject to Arbitrary Government, (that is, the Law of anothers will, to which themselves give no consent) that they care not with how much dishonour and absurdity they make their King the onely man, that must be subject to the will of others, without having power left Him, to use His own Reason, either in Person, or by any Representation.

And if My dissentings at any time were (as some have suspected, and uncharitably avowed out of error, opinion, activenesse, weaknesse, or wilfulnesse, and what they call Obstinacy in Me (which not true Judgement of things, but some vehement prejudice or passion hath fixed on My mind;) yet can no man think it other then the Badge and Method of Slavery, by savage rudenesse, and importunate detrusions of violence, to have the mist of His Errour and Passion dispelled, which is a shadow of Reason, and must serve those that are destitute of the substance. Sure that man cannot be blameable to God or Man, who seriously endeavours to see the best reason of things, and faithfully followes what he takes for Reason: The uprightnesse of his intentions will excuse the possible failings of his understandings; If a Pilot at Sea cannot see the Pole-star, it can be no fault in him to steere his course by such stars as do best appear to him. It argues rather those men to be conscious of their defects of Reason, and convincing Arguments, who call in the assistance of meer force to carry on the weaknesse of their Councells, and Proposalls. I may, in the Truth and uprightnesse of My heart, protest before God and Men; that I never wilfully opposed, or denied any thing, that was in a fair way, after full and free debates propounded to Me, by the two Houses, Further then I thought in good reason I might, and was bound to do.

Nor did any thing ever please Me more, then when My Judgment so concurred with theirs, that I might with good Conscience consent to them: yea, in many things where not absolute and morall necessity of Reason, but temporary convenience on point of Honour was to be considered. I chose rather to deny My self, then them; as preferring that which they thought necessary for My Peoples good, before what I saw but convenient for My self.

For I can be content to recede much from My own Interests, and Personall Rights, of which I conceive My self to be Master; but in what concernes Truth, Justice, the Rights of the Church, and My Crown, together with the generall good of My Kingdomes; (all which I am bound to preserve as much as morally lies in Me;) here I am, and ever shall be fixt and resolute, nor shall any man gain My consent to that, wherein My Heart gives My tongue or hand the Lie; nor will I be brought to affirme that to Men, which in My Conscience I denied before God. I will rather chuse to wear a Crown of Thornes with My Saviour, then to exchange that of Gold (which is due to Me) for one of lead, whose embased flexiblenesse shall be forced to bend, and comply to the various, and oft contrary dictates of any Factions; when instead of Reason, and Publick concernments, they obtrude nothing but what makes for the interest of parties, and flowes from the partialities of private wills and passions.

I know no resolutions more worthy a Christian King, then to prefer His Conscience before His Kingdomes.”

Extracted from the Eikon Basilike published in 1649.