Percy's Reliques - Verses by King Charles I.

Verses by King Charles I.

            "This prince, like his father, did not confine himself to prose. Bishop Burnet has given us a pathetic elegy, said to be written by Charles in Carisbrook castle [in 1648]. The poetry is most uncouth and unharmonious, but there are strong thoughts in it, some good sense, and a strain of majestic piety."--- Mr. Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, vol. i.

            It is in his Memoirs of the Duke of Hamilton, p. 379, that Burnet hath preserved this elegy, which he tells us he had from a gentleman, who waited on the king at the time when it was written, and copied it out from the original. It is there intitled, MAJESTY IN MISERY: OR AN IMPLORATION TO THE KING OF KINGS,"

            Hume hath remarked of these stanzas, "that the truth of the sentiment, rather than the elegance of the expression, renders them very pathetic." (See his History, 1763, 4to. vol. V. pp. 437. 442. which is no bad comment upon them.) These are almost the only verses known of Charles's composition. Indeed a little poem On a quiet Conscience, printed in the "Poetical Calendar," 1763, vol. viii. is attributed to King Charles I.; being reprinted from a thin 8vo, published by Nahum Tate, called "Miscellanea Sacra, or Poems on Divine and Moral Subjects."

GREAT monarch of the world, from whose power springs
The potency and power of kings,
Record the royal woe my suffering sings;

And teach my tongue, that ever did confine
Its faculties in truth's seraphick line,
To track the treasons of thy foes and mine.

Nature and law, by thy divine decree,
(The only root of righteous royaltie)
With this dim diadem invested me:

With it, the sacred scepter, purple robe,
The holy unction, and the royal globe:
Yet am I levell'd with the life of Job.

The fiercest furies, that do daily tread
Upon my grief, my grey discrowned head,
Are those that owe my bounty for their bread.

They raise a war, and christen it THE CAUSE,
While sacrilegious hands have best applause,
Plunder and murder are the kingdom's laws;

Tyranny bears the title of taxation,
Revenge and robbery are reformation,
Oppression gains the name of sequestration.

My loyal subjects, who in this bad season
Attend me (by the law of God and reason),
They dare impeach, and punish for high treason.

Next at the clergy do their furies frown,
Pious episcopacy must go down,
They will destroy the crosier and the crown.

Churchmen are chain'd, and schismaticks are freed,
Mechanicks preach, and holy fathers bleed,
The crown is crucified with the creed.

The church of England doth all factions foster,
The pulpit is usurpt by each impostor,
Extempore excludes the Paternoster.

The Presbyter, and Independent seed
Springs with broad blades. To make religion bleed
Herod and Pontius Pilate are agreed.

The corner stone's misplac'd by every pavier:
With such a bloody method and behaviour
Their ancestors did crucifie our Saviour.

My royal consort, from whose fruitful womb
So many princes legally have come,
Is forc'd in pilgrimage to seek a tomb.

Great Britain's heir is forced into France,
Whilst on his father's head his foes advance:
Poor child! he weeps out his inheritance.

With my own power my majesty they wound,
In the king's name the king himself's uncrown'd;
So doth the dust destroy the diamond.

With propositions daily they enchant
My people's ears, such as do reason daunt,
And the Almighty will not let me grant.

They promise to erect my royal stem,
To make me great, t'advance my diadem,
If I will first fall down, and worship them.

But for refusal they devour my thrones,
Distress my children, and destroy my bones;
I fear they'll force me to make bread of stones.

My life they prize at such a slender rate,
That in my absence they drew bills of hate,
To prove the king a traytor to the state.

Felons obtain more privilege than I,
They are allow'd to answer ere they die;
'Tis death for me to ask the reason, why.

But, sacred Saviour, with thy words I woo
Thee to forgive, and not be bitter to
Such, as thou know'st do not know what they do.

For since they from their lord are so disjointed,
As to contemn those edicts he appointed,
How can they prize the power of his anointed?

Augment my patience, nullifie my hate,
Preserve my issue, and inspire my mate;
Yet, though we perish, BLESS THIS CHURCH and STATE.

 

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