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1. TO THE KING, THE KIRK’S APOLOGY FOR THE MINISTERS
Born in my embrace, and fed on nectar, now an adult, oh James, my highest hope, my deepest wish, so long yearned for, and so greatly, both a trusted terror to the foe, and a fortress to guard me, a place of certain safety for me: you for whom I burden heaven with prayers, and for whom, on my knees, I weary the great God with tireless insistence, I bear witness by the great Godhead and His inviolable Name, there is scarcely any other place where there is hope for me on earth. Shall I believe that any nursling of mine would have transgressed against you? Ah, that child would be trangressing beyond measure against his own life — whoever thinks such a thing, should likewise think that I would be capable of thrusting a sword into my bowels, and cutting my own lifeblood’s veins.
For your sake, and for the sake of Him Who gave you to me, and gave you the sceptre; for the sake of the other skies and other sceptres promised to you; for the sake of our common prayers and hopes, For the sake of the honour of our common Father, which is an honour more precious than our own, I beseech you, spare your own. For why should your ill-persuaded anger conquer you, or suspicion carry you away amid uncertainty? Why let our enemy mock us, in confusion among ourselves? He guffaws, and whistles at you behind your back. Unless they are offending, why should you weary yourself, and your people, and the fathers, and do what would afflict your own and that the enemy would applaud? If they are offenders, it is love that has offended: forgive them, and take to yourself the opportunity given, whereby you can conquer.Conquer those enemies, and your anger — that will win praise worthy of triumphs; honour with no stain of crime will be yours thereby.
What are you seeking? Either something you do not wish to uncover, or something that once it is uncovered, your love (or I am deceiving myself) would forgive. But seek: perhaps you will find love instead of criminal behaviour, and thus your love of the love discovered will grow.
4. THE SHEPHERDS’ FLIGHT
Why flee the shepherd of the people? Why flee your father? Your brother? And your pious king, you object of royal concern? But you should flee. A prudent son avoids his angry father. But while he is running, if he is wise, his anger flees him.
5. A PERSONIFICATION SPEAKS
When discord has thrown hotheaded anger into confusion, and has crept into loving bedchambers with its suspicions, men hunt for the bane here and there. Then unrestrained squabbles make a commotion in individual households with their recriminations, and savage quarrels make their din throughout the market-place. The furious Erynnis bursts in among them, and dire Megaera brandishes her blazing torches. Whatever vague suspicion has invented or sinister rumor has suggested, or whatever hot bile adores, is in part believed, in part distrusted, indiscriminately, while anger takes up whatever weapon can wound. Men twist accusations so as to apply to each other, heedless that they are ruining their own reputations. Meanwhile the crowd laughs and the bystanders cheer, egging them on and provoking savage battles. Spare us. You, superior for being the husband, in that you are more prudent and powerful, and you, his wife, set aside those unfriendly dispositions. Enough and more has been granted to anger and pain, enough and more has been given to tears. Let love join those joined by Hymen. You should leave battles to Mars, and savage quarrels to the mad market-place.
AGAINST THE MOST WICKED AND HORRIFIC CONSPIRACY TO BLOW UP THE ENGLISH PARLIAMENT HOUSE, TOGETHER WITH THE MOST SERENE KING AND QUEEN OF BRITAIN, AND THE ESTATES OF ALL ENGLAND, SCHEDULED FOR 5 NOVEMBER, AND DISCOVERED THE PRECEDING DAY
6. THE EXECRATION
Therefore superstition, mingled with madness, conceived, and in darkness gave birth to an unspeakable and savage crime, such that it rages more than the tigers of Hyrcania nor the lions of Liyba or a bereaved she-bear plunged into madness; a crime, such that neither the dread Scythians nor gloomy Gelons, or the yet more loathsome Moor, perhaps, would devise: a thing at which Erynnis herself in the Stygian ditches would tremble, and at which Father Styx trembles himself in the Stygian waters; he is amazed to be defeated by his own arts, and rejoices that he has taught his disciples so well. Applaud, generous offspring whether of the Tiber or of Hell, that by this crime it is your achievement to be able to conquer father Styx. Weep, unfertile nation of the Tiber or of Hell, you bear nothing, or you yourself bear your own destruction.
7. THE EXPIATION
O ocean, and Nereus resounding through the wide world, what water of yours, what wave will wash away this crime? And you, Acheron and Phlegethon, rivers bristling with dark flames, who will boil away by fire this crime? Or what earth will conceal it, 0r what thousand sacrifices will expiate it? What power or strength of high heaven? Here, neither ocean, Styx, earth, nor any sacrifice nor any force of high heaven can have an effect. Therefore, since you, the nature of things, are propitiated in vain, utter a curse: by that, these sacrifices remain one single crime. Let earth deny it refuge, let the waves not wash it away; let the flames not nurture it, nor heaven favour it. And you also, because you have thus far with spurious labour brought forth harmless things, shudder at yourself, flee the British land. Let the world, and the thinking generations of the immense globe, say they hate the fact you have spawned no less than they hate your offspring.
8. ROMAN FAITH
O piety, o ancient faith, o religion conscious of what is righteous, pledge and love of heaven in its purity: Worthy of God, truthful and candid, mild and devoid of savagery, gentle friendly and upright to all: should lying superstition clothe you in various images, and impertinently hide your face! Grim, it breathes murder and conflagration, prepares deceits, and is constantly drenched with blood; monstrous, it butchers kings and whole peoples. It swears falsely, and black, it spews from its loathsome depths thousands of crimes that savage hell would on no occasion would spit forth. O know, and discern the filthy counsels and eternal arts of the Tuscan she-wolf, whereby she spreads the dark rule of her empire throughout the world.
9. THE CONSOLATION
Go, you crafty ones, under the dark bowels of the hollow earth, either go right into the midst of the Styx, or conceal and hide in the depths of the abyss, by any art or part, your hellish devices, with veins of powder, spread abroad your tight-packed fireballs, which shatter foundations, and then blow and carry them shattered away, and strong towers, and massive walls, and whole towns, and kingdoms ripped from their places, and swear the crime with an oath, consecrate yourselves to silence, in the presence of your witness, the God of wheat and bran. Fools! If this is God, he hates wickedness, and if not a God, what use can Ge be, or what does it profit you to hide the true God? Come then, before the trumpets sound, merrily celebrate your triumph, or savour your joys safely within your silent hearts. It will be in vain, He is able to wreck happy triumphs and rip vain rejoicing from the depths of the heart. He can shed daylight even in night and in Hell, and lay all things bare, and turn cunning men’s cunning upon themselves, and with the strength of Gis powerful hand He will search out and overthrow secret plans, even when on the verge of fulfillment. O learn not in any way to trust yourselves to Him — but neither is it right that we should tremble, without God's consent.
10. THE THANKSGIVING
You, o king, recently snatched from from such peril, and you, son and highest hope of so great a father, both of you the great hope of the great and British world, and the great terror, both of you, of the Roman she-wolf, you the anxious waters of the inconstant Don river fear, end trembling Satan fears for his own kingdom, ss great as the effort to circumvent them, are the great delights nestowed by great heaven and its high care, ho safely, the both of you, through the void of space, through the lofty cosmos, through the howling of Hell and the threats of the Underworld, for so indeed God Himself in heaven dedicates, destines, chooses and sets in order His mighty workmanship. Let the ghastly power of Hell gnash its teeth, and reach out from its hideous cavern, and roar as it sets its enormity in motion. Let this poison deck itself in all its tricks, and craftily redouble them, and steal its way into men. The care of heaven itself watches over you both, restraining the madman, and wrests their strength from men. The Lion of Judah himself fights for you, and goes before you in His might, and favours you, and tawny-gold, supports you on either side. O blessed are you, and likewise, blessed is he who sounds those things, worthy of that worthy Supporter and His undertakings, with his trumpet.
11. TO THE SAME JAMES, DECEASED
Is this how you return, stolen from your nation by the Fates? And is this what has happened to my hope of beholding your countenance, King James? Do the Fates now bid me, who sang of you when a child, when ruling, when departing, when returning, to sing of you in death? So receive a few slight words, but monuments of my love, which was not slight. It will not die, but neither will you. You remain alive in your children, and my love lives on in them.
12. THE SAME
I am the one whom the ancients with their great voice once predicted would enter into my proud government, celebrated before my birth, an object of wonder to the world before my entry into the world, and likewise anticipated and greatly hymned by the world. And at my birth I was no less distinguished by the signs I gave, being in the cradle and in my earliest years the great hope of good men and the terror of bad ones and the Roman wolf. I was the first king that Great Britain beheld, to its amazement, and by my crown I joined the Scots, the English, and the Hibernians (to call them by their ancient name), there where Caledonia displays its forests, where Wales shows its lofty mountains, where England broadly reaches out towards the French shores, and where Ierna offers its wide-ranging hills to the men of the west. Everything is now still, pacified by me. A great king, I have ruled for the same number of years as I have beheld the light of day, I have completed a single year less than twelve lustra. Where I have held sway, there golden peace has inhabited the land and, being a lover of peace. I have fostered peace throughout the world, while the stars were setting in motion either peace or crimes. But now, when everything is a-roar with warfare by land and by sea, and treacherous ambition cannot tolerate peace, I leave you behind, my son, since you are equal to all those realms and affairs, and to you, my son, I leave behind realms well–equipped and well-prepared for triumphs, a great topic for your virtue, whether this virtue most mildly bids you wield the reins of the laws over your people with a gentle hand, or put down impious arms with the arms of justice.
Go blessedly where the Fates take you. He Who indulged me with the delights of peace because I constantly followed Him, will provide you with guaranteed trophies, since He is thus summoning you to wars. This remains as the single concern worthy of you and these spirits of yours. Let your scepter be free of innocent blood, yet be unsparing in pursuing with pure and pious warfare the enemies of the Lord and yourself, the enemies of the pious and the good. Devote yourself to these concerns, by these concerns transcend the world and its lands, and raise yourself to heaven.
13. THE ENTRY, OR THE RULER, 1619
Father, great Father of heaven, pray indulge me this effort too, undertaken after many years, You for Whom my song and my Muse (however slight she may be) make their strident noise, You Whom my heart pants after as You brood on Your celestial concerns, worthy of Your godhead, see how that man made king by Your auspices, chosen by You, and likewise the warden of Your chosen flock, the only one among the roster of kings whom You decorate with so great an honor, granting him to see the light of truth and to be its champion, growing in titles and lofty honors thanks to his defense of it, lo, he has returned from the faraway Thames and come back to his homeland. A few things must be said to him, things which it is right for me to say and for him to do: things thanks to which he may trample the earth underfoot and mount up to the precincts of heaven, as loftier than any scepter as scepters are greater than hoes, things thanks to which he may course about on golden pinons (this is true glory) and join his brilliant self to God Almighty, Who governs the high stars. Just listen, great man, be friendly in taking advice, grow accustomed to it, and store up these true sayings in your heart. And you too, whoever is present, be favorable with your tongue and your mind, and, being a good man, you may reduce all things to their proper meanings. I sing great things: of the scepter arisen from the first origin of our race, a firm scepter, which God has conveyed to you by means of all those generations of your great forefathers, all those pedigrees of kings and heroes of whom either Caledonia or ancient Britain, set beside the vast sea, sings, so that Scotland might boast of the dynasty of Fergus (the substance and the foundation of both their realms, being its originator), or Bruce, or his Stuart ancestors, descendants of Banquo, our royal family, whom three centuries have witnessed as all-governing with ten of its scions. These centuries have witnessed the Plantagenets, the Henries and Edwards, the Tudors, and Arthur himself, distinguished above all other names for his campaigning and all his great deeds. But you, having them as your forefathers, when you mount up to the summit of so great a throne, are modest in your possession of such a mass of scepters, being just and great in the moderation of your upright mind. You are particularly schooled in ruling when you conduct your royal business, setting an example of a sovereign moderate in all respects, as you are friendly and good in your manners and your expression, and calm and gentle in your kindly actions, never putting on airs out of pride in your majesty, or ever affecting vain foolishness. Come, blessed man, take up the reins of government, that ancient glory, here, were Roman virtue dwells and our victory has submitted to limits, content to protect its citizens with moated ramparts. Here it is assured that the ancient Britons trembled at your nation’s arms, humbly but in vain asking for Roman aid with a groan which could move stones (but here the Romans could neither remain, nor assist the overthrown Britons). Here the Danish camp and the strength of their men with their gigantic frames was laid low by Scottish arms, and we are able to sing of fields turned white by their huge bones. This is the particular glory of your Scottish subjects, to conquer nations which had conquered everything in the world.
Who will speak to me of Bruce’s descendants, of the might of Wallace, of the Douglasses, second to no heroes (though Greece or famous Rome may boast of theirs) when it came to virtue, or the other great sons of great Mars whom Scotland has produced?
And yet Scotland’s nobles were not only devoted to arms: they have also been foremost in having hearts attuned to the Muses and to the arts of peace. To their Muses were indebted the nations watered by the Seine and the Rhone, the Maas, the Rhine and the Elbe. From this source the rays of religion broadcast throughout the world shone bright, thanks to Master Clement and pious Albinus, when the Emperor Charlemagne held a tight rein. Nor is it yet exhausted. Recently a very rare example of piety came forth in this world, worthy to be praised by all nations, as many as have submitted their necks to the Catholic yoke, which Belgium admired and likewise the French land revered.
And recently the Scottish region has been praised for its Roman eloquence, and, alone out of so many nations which Rome has nourished, has won the palm and also the laurel of Phoebus’ band, as Italy bore witness, even in the judgment of Verona herself (and she is the glory of Italy and the Latin Muse).
The people comes here with you their king, their most well-deserved care was the high glory of your forebears. Here, if it has chanced to slip out of heedlessness, with the true virtue of olden times abandoned, this offending people is to be restored and recalled to the right by you, by your mild nature and just government.
Why should I complain about particulars and matters public knowledge in every age of the world: the solemn concerns of the court and their grand desires, that wealth and honor should come their way? Kings themselves may be enmeshed by these arts, so that a few of the men surrounding them may join in leagues. Such kings are not able to gain information by any other men’s eyes or ears, nor discover what is being managed well or badly. Hence they are often misled by their servants, and allow the highest matters of state to be handled according to the whim of the ministers to whom they are in thralldom. Thus one of these fellows obtains proud titles, another snatches supreme honors, and a third wealth: then his insatiable greed grows along with his fortune until he has amassed huge heaps of gold, joining one broad estate to another as his own second custom, and, creeping along, has devoured another creeper: he winds up being made a dragon, a whale enlarged by having swallowed an orca.
Why should I catalogue the savage ways in which tyrants (unhappy to mention!) mutilate and gobble up realms entrusted to themselves contrary to all law and right, their monstrous doings, how they decorate themselves with pretty titles. They are well-schooled in manufacturing pretexts of the public good, although they consecrate everything to their personal desires, as their hopes and their desire dictates. They believe entire generations of men have been born for their benefit, that right exists for to suit their purpose, and that men’s property and souls as well as everything else exists at their whim. With the bonds of nature, justice and piety broken, they imagine that this is the sole point of governing, that everything is required for this end, that this is the sole glory to seek. For their blind minds, this is sound prudence.
Go far away, both kinds of evil fellow. The weight of this world has kept your ignorant hearts and low-down minds earthbound and cheats you as you are plunged in the darkness of depravities, a deceiving shadow cast by the illusion of an ignoble Charlemagne. But you, truly a King Charles, be present for me, and duly ponder proper cares in your heart (oh great for your realms, and greater for your lofty nature), not bound in thralldom to your underlings or to any vices, aspiring to nothing because of a character of that sort, nor aspiring to anything unworthy of God. How great you are, transacting nothing in the name of that illusion, nor thus wielding the reins of your scepter!
And so, when you have passed beyond your nation’s Tweedmouth and have reached the boundaries of the realm that once nourished you, let that vision of our ancient piety come to mind, and ponder my true statements in your silent heart. Here the air was first assaulted by your infant cries, here the mother earth gave you birth and now receives you back into her willing bosom, entirely pouring forth to greet you, vowing her all to your service. Here the lords, the commons, and the knights revere and worhip you alone, being descended from the first beginnings of our ancient nation.
So come, you in your turn embrace them with love, increase their affection, use your willing peoples, console the downcast, mollify the angry, and soothe them with your sweet government, should any mischance lead your unhappy subjects astray. And, although you could compel them or drag them in a different direction, be a prudent father and prince, and indulge their wishes when they are not exceedingly foul, nor let any single consideration dissuade you or embroil you in contentions. For you, no more wholesome principle of rule can ever exist. It is not enough that men do not take up arms and rebel against their government, or that they grudgingly give their obedience. Their minds must be fired, they need to be inspired by much goodness to hasten to do your bidding with a will, to expose themselves, their goods, and all they possess to risks on your behalf, and frely subject them to their sovereign. This is particularly so of those who are foremost, whose forefather’s ancient virtues or their own fresh merit have placed on ancestral thrones and made blood-relations of kings, having never having followed bad courses.
These are the men, raised up to heaven by you like eagles on their lofty pinions, with whose help you may be able to equal or surpass the heroes of old. Do you want to drive out hostile armies from the lands alongside the deep currents of the Rhine, and return Frederick to his ancestral soil? Or do you wish to penetrate to the Elbe itself and restore his sister’s realms, wrenching that trophy out of the enemy’s hand, or make the Indus, the Tiber, or the Tajo tremble with your armaments, and compel that river, which has overflowed all its banks for all these years, to return to its old course? With cannot be done by this soldiery? What cannot be accomplished with you their commander? What cannot be achieved by a Britain bound to itself? Come, join them, for this people and their minds have already cried out to be bound together, both to you and to itself. In a thousand ways, adamant bonds need to be woven: do not believe this can be done sufficiently by a king or a treaty, let there be one kingdom, one nation. Let no Tweed, nor any Cheviot or Solvay distinguish them, no tract of land, no mountain. Let no man take pride in belonging to a distinct race: confound all that by intermarriages, nor let one man dare call himself a Scotsman and another man an Englishman, making regional distinctions. From north to south, let each man say that he is British-born. Now give them shared concerns and common tasks belonging a common realm. Let there be one law, and one religion. They must join arms, and with these arms piety, now lying prostrate in sadness. is to be defended throughout the world. Our minds, our hands, our very lives must be consecrated to heaven. Think these are great items for your agenda, think that this is what it is to rule. Thus you may make your way as an object of fear and astonishment for our cruel foe, a king on whose behalf heaven fights, and who wholly fights on behalf of heaven. And let not those things you ask for from heaven be unworthy, cowardly, and ill-suiting your nation, that you add a thousand realms to your own and gain mastery over all the world.
Have no less care for your nation. Shape it with laws and ordinances, but not those which Bartolus and Baldus spun out into countless volumes, and which a word-monger may twist into any meaning he wants, catching after gold and silver — I mean a venal chatterbox, daring to cloak the truth in his footless fooleries and rupture the judges’ eardrums, if only to draw out the time by stalling and frittering, multiplying the documents and the days a hundredfold until he has drained dry his client’s ancestral gold by piling suit upon suit. Thus he shall have gained a Golden Age, when he has accumulated gold coins in heaps such as an entire province could scarcely provide. Although a wealthy man, let him assault estates and castles, and a malicious mocker might give him the gratuitous advice to carry them off on his back. You must suppress these great monstrosities, these Hydras come back from the dead, repress the wild strife of the noisy courtroom, and restore forms of behavior derived from Nature’s sources and devoid of deceit, forms such as no man would dare obfuscate with misrepresentation. Cleave to simple definitions of the true, the good, and the right, thanks to which your unhappy subject may suffer no loss of life or money.
You can add to these iniquitous abuses that spreading plague, oppressive interest. Because of these, all your Scotland is groaning, being entirely overwhelmed and grieving that it is falling apart under this unjust burden. She is in a state of turmoil regarding her socil orders: everything is turned topsy-turvy and thrown into confusion. The man who just lately was noble, wealthy, and held in high honor, sits second to a tinker. Bidden repay a pound, a high-born man, being poor, helpless, and held in low esteem, has nothing to give. And, as matters stand, the nation likewise sighs after its money, having now been drained dry by merchants. And if a man has not given that which he does not possess, he will become a rebel against his king, no matter how little he desires to be such, and will grieve when enchained in his cell. Estates go for a song, and palaces, gardens, orchards, ponds, groves, and woodland now lack any value at all. The fields where the rabbit digs its burrows, the houses they have built for timid doves, the fish of the fruitful sea and ponds, the coals to feed the fireplace in wintertimes, these are valued at nought by the tax-assessor. This rascal brutally says, “None of these things will be benefit me. Given today’s prices, I would not give a single groat for things that once cost twenty thousand pounds. Let them be written off as sacrifices and as superfluous extras attached to estates cost-free.” Then there’s the one who says “your tithes are in arrears,” when he’s actually grasping at somebody else’s tax-money, calling it his own by the fine argument that today is his personal Nones and he refuses to do something sanctified by ancient law, Then he demands a fresh tithe, swearing that that is just. But the other fellow complains that the law is being perverted, while he is snatching for the reins of the law (either by himself, or perhaps he senses that the judge is sufficiently well-disposed). And we have heard the one party and the other both claiming that they are serving the royal interest. But you are not gullible in believing any man until you have weighed everything in your just scale, discovering what is well-founded and what is somehow ill-founded.
In addition to taxes, there are laws, ordinances, armament, and schools, and likewise trade, the arts, currency, tribute, interest, outlay for alms, and whatnot. And directly from God you are given the right of governing God’s worship and the decorum of His rites. Yyou have to deal with two councils, that which they call the royal Privy Council and the public Parliament of the realm. Be sagacious in examining, and diligent in searching your own mind. All things somehow slip and require improvement, being helpless. But what you might wish to change, what is better to tolerate, by what plan you should perform your surgery, what is good, what you think could be made better — so that you might correct everthing in detail, it is your work, your responsibility, and your task to diagnose these things.
Falsehood often lurks beneath the appearance of truth, and the truth often suffers, disguised by falsehood’s image, unless much virtue and clear understanding sustain your intelligence. Examining everything with watchful industry and giving an ear to everything deserving a hearing, weigh with fair scales. As when a hare, started up by dogs’ savage barking, flees into the brush and, making its way by obscure paths through trackless wastes, hiding itself and cheating the eyesight, deceives its pursueres until the great keenness of the hunters and their hunters track its path and carefully detect its hiding-place, so the truth, hidden within the maze of a Daedalus-labyrinth, is not easily detected by the sluggish, but is unearthed by a keen intellect. But it is not safe enough to entrust this to a single man, nor does this business demand that laws or manners, and the public good of the realm be reformed by a few. Everything must be considered in public, this pertains to every man whom the nation dignifies with the title of citizen. You must employ their eyes and ears, disdaining no man, dealing with common affairs in a common council. Nor should you be hasty. Or else, should something chance to be done rashly, you would be embarrassed to retract it and change your course for the better after having refashioned all things on your anvil.
Meanwhile, thousands of your men rendered sluggish by protracted peace need to be rearmed, and your regiments, grown unaccustomed to triumphs, are to be readied. Their minds must be fired for their old warfare with a better, holy, anger directed against those rebels against heaven, robbers of this earth, and servants of the wolf. This can be deservedly called a loyal protection for the king and a safe security for the nation, if somehow a great enemy impends, or whether you choose to inflict perils or to ward them off.
What’s more, if any of your subjects gives offense, be slow to anger and to punish. If the law prevents you from omitting punishment altogether, let mercy enter into your mild mind and soften them, and remit whatever part of the penalty you may. Let you take no delight in any of Busiris’ altars, nor the bronze of that wretch-roasting fellow, nor the harshness of Tullus, ripping apart that Alban with his horses. Such punishment is foul, horrible, and not sufficiently heedful of Man’s nature, nor do they abolish crime who punish to slake their spirit of cruelty. But you, being godlike, take no delight in punishing the guilty. You are delighted by the good. If anybody’s merits are recommended by his shining virtue, his rare genius, his learning or art, and when, perhaps, he has fallen on hard times or is in need of help, or if he is to be encouraged to do greater things, or requires recognition for his personal honor, then make haste to support him, being openhanded, ready, .and cheerful, and take the lead in doing so, before he has a chance to submit his entreaties and petition.
These are the reasons why you should want to rule, not to wear soft silk on your shoulders, to be respendent with gems of Tyrian purple, shine with tawny gold, to be accompanied by a retinue, or to sit aloft on a high throne, your fair brow encircled with a crown, proud with your scepter and fearsome with your sword as you offer your hand for the kissing, bent on being revered. Not to lead fleets on the high seas or legions on land, slaughtering camps full of men and leaving cities in ruins. Not to do whatever you wish. These are not the fruits of government, the other things are. Go in happiness, enjoy yourself, live long for God and your nation, and genuinely govern for ages.