King Charles the Martyr, 1643-1649

By Esmé Wingfield-Stratford | Go to book overview

not slow to follow the example of its bosses, who had voted themselves comfortable fortunes out of the general pool of loot; it was only too easy to assess each other's sufferings for the cause, and consequent claim to compensation, on a mutually accommodating basis, or for those who served on the committees to temper the wind to the shorn lamb in consideration of a few clippings with private shears. "There is no hope," as one of the victims, Lady Verney, wrote, "of doing anything in the House of Commons except by bribery."

It is not surprising that Parliament should have carefully neglected to publish accounts of these transactions, since from Speaker Lenthall* downwards there can have been few of its sitting Members who had not excellent reasons for preferring darkness rather than light, on financial transactions for which the methods pursued by the Patriot Fathers of the Providence Island Company afforded so imitable a precedent.

But now there was no Pym. and no Hampden to impart the Machiavellian flair to the inner counsels of what was no longer the Providence Island directorate. The Parliamentary chiefs had reached that borderline state of infatuation in which a man identifies reality with his own wish dream. They imagined that they could simultaneously proceed to all lengths of outrage against their own army, bilk their allies, tyrannize over the populace, treat their Sovereign like dirt, and continue to harvest and enjoy the fruits of their usurped sovereignty till the next Greek Calends, though they had no effective power to back them except the prestige attaching to the more and more palpable misnomer of Parliament.

Those whom God wishes to destroy. ...


4
"BARBAROUSLY BAITED"

THE King's state of mind was governed by a determination in no case to betray the fundamental loyalties on which he had taken his stand, coupled with a willingness to make every possible

____________________
*
Lenthall was a notorious chaser after lucre, and was mixed up in one or two very fishy transactions, even if no specific instance of direct bribery can be proved against him.

-162-

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