realized fully--as the passage just quoted shows--that he was a beaten man, and as such in no case to refuse anything fit to be granted, but--beaten or not--there were certain things that it would be better to die than to grant, things which, in his own words, "reason and religion bids me deny."
That was his position, clearly defined and maintained with undeviating consistency throughout his successive captivities and at his trial; it was the position that he re-affirmed on the scaffold. Almost up to the end it would have been open to him to have obtained terms that would have enabled him to return to Whitehall with at least the outward trappings of kingship; the pomp and luxury surrounding even a crowned puppet might have been judged preferable to the rigours and humiliations of confinement, with a bloody death more and more plainly in prospect at the end of it. Charles judged otherwise, and paid the price.
Such a choice is open to criticism from those who are inspired by a different philosophy. The case of his accusers against Socrates, that of the world at all times against the martyr, is as old as civilization. It is a genuine case. The martyr is, from the world's standpoint, impossible. But to talk of his attitude as one of weakness or duplicity is not to state a rational case at all. It does not even make sense.
TYRANNY OF CORRUPTION
WHEN the King had come to Newcastle the city had gone mad with joy; there had been firing of guns and clashing of bells, the streets had been lined with cheering crowds. But it was little that they could see of him; for round him was a packed phalanx of three hundred Scottish horse, those next him with their heads decently uncovered, but for all that a steel-clad barrier between him and his people. It had been like that all the way from Newark. Orders had gone out to intercept loyal addresses and to isolate him from any demonstration of popular affection. The King would not have been human had he failed to take note of this, the first of many cumulative evidences that he had the heart of the common people on his side in his captivity as he had never had it in the days of his splendour.