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FRENCH HOLY LEAGUE,
ENGLISH LEAGUE AND COVENANT,
TURNED INTO A SEDITIOUS LIBEL AGAINST THE KING AND HIS BOYAL HIGHNESS,
AND THE AUTHORS OF THE REFLECTIONS UPON THE PRETENDED PARALLEL IN THE PLAY CALLED
THE DUKE OF GUISE.
Turno tempus erit magna cum optaterit emptum
VINDICATION OF THE DUKE OF GUISE.
It was easy to foresee, that a play, which professed to be a broadside discharged at the whole popular party, would not long remain uncensured. The satire being derived from a historical parallel of some delicacy, offered certain facilities of attack to the critics. It was only stretching the resemblance beyond the bounds to which Dryden had limited it, and the comparison became odious, if not dangerous. The whig writers did not neglect this obvious mode of attack, now rendered more popular by the encroachment lately attempted by the court upon the freedom of the city, whose magistrates had been exposed to ridicule in the play.
Our readers cannot but remember, that, in order to break the spirit of the city of London, a writ of quo warranto was issued against the incorporation, by which was instituted a vexatious and captious inquiry into the validity of the charter of London. The purpose of this process was to compel the city to resign their freedom and immunities into the king's hands, and to receive a new grant of them, so limited, as might be consistent with the views of the crown, or otherwise to declare them forfeited. One Thomas Hunt, a lawyer of some eminence, who had been solicitor for the Viscount Stafford when that unfortunate nobleman was tried for high treason, and had written upon the side of the tories, but had now altered his principles, stepped forward upon this occasion as the champion of the immunities of the city of London f.
t "A Defence of the Charter and Municipal Rights of the City of London, and the Rights of other Municipal Cities and Towns of England. Directed to the Citizens of London, by Thomas Hunt.
Si populus vult decipi, decipiatur.
London, printed, and to be sold, by Richard Baldwin." 4to, pages 46.
Wood informs us, that Thomas Hunt, the author, was educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, and was esteemed a person of quick parts, and of a ready fluence in discourse, but withal too pert and forward. He was called to the bar, and esteemed a good lawyer. In 1659 he became clerk of the assizes at Oxford circuit, but was ejected from the office at the Restoration, to his great The ludicrous light in which the sheriffs are placed, during the scene with Grillon in the third act, gave great offence to this active partisan; and he gives vent to his displeasure in the following attack upon the author, and the performance.
"They have already condemned the charter and city, and have executed the magistrates in effigy upon the stage, in a play called "The Duke of Guise," frequently acted and applauded; intended, most certainly, to provoke the rabble into tumults and disorder. The Roman priest had no success, (God be thanked,) when he animated the people not to suffer the same sheriffs to be carried through the city to the Tower, prisoners. Now the poet hath undertaken, for their being kicked three or four times a-week about the stage to the gallows, infamously rogued and rascalled, to try what he can do towards making the charter forfeitable, by some extravagancy and disorder of the people, which the authority of the best governed cities have not been able to prevent, sometimes under far less provocations.
"But this ought not to move the citizens, when he hath so maliciously and mischievously represented the king, and the king's son, nay, and his favourite the duke too, to whom he gives the worst strokes of his unlucky fancy.
"He puts the king under the person of Henry III. of France, who appeared in the head of the Parisian massacre; the king's son under the person of the Duke of Guise, who concerted it with the Queen-mother of France, and was slain in that very place, by the righteous judgment of God, where he and his mother had first contrived it.
"The Duke of Guise ought to have represented a great prince, that had inserved to some most detestable villany, to please the rage, or lust, of a tyrant.
"Such great courtiers have been often sacrificed, to appease the furies of the tyrant's guilty conscience, to expiate for his sin, and to atone the people.
lots, to make room for the true owner. He wrote, "An Argument for the Bishops' right of judging in capital Cases in Parliament, &c.;" for which he expected (says Anthony) no less than to be made lord chief baron of the exchequer in Ireland. But falling short of that honourable office, which he too ambitiously catched at, and considering the loss of another place, which he unjustly possessed, he soon after appeared one of the worst and most inveterate enemies to church and state that was in his time, and the most malicious, and withal the most ignorant, scribbler of the whole herd; and was thcreup.. on stiled, by a noted author, (Jirydeii, in the following Vindication,) Mugni nominis umbru. Hunt also published, "Great and weighty Considerations on the Duke of York, Stc." in favour of the exclusion. He had also the boldness to republish his high church tract in favour of the bishops' jurisdiction, with a whig postscript tending to destroy his own arguments.—Ath. Oar. 11, p. TU9.
*' Besides, that a tyrant naturally stands in fear of ministers of mighty wickedness; he is always obnoxious to them, he is a slave to them, as long as they live they remember him of his guilt, and awe him. These wicked slaves become most imperious masters: they drag him to greater evils for their own impunity, than they first perpetrated for his pleasure, and their own ambition.
"But such are best given up to public justice, but by no means to be assassinated. Until this age, never before was an assassination invited, commended, and encouraged upon a public theatre.
"It is no wonder that Trimmers (so they call men of some moderation of that party) displease them; for they seem to have designs for which it behoves them to know their men; they must be perfectly wicked, or perfectly deceived; of the Catiline make; bold, and without understanding; that can adhere to men that publicly profess murders, and applaud the design.
"Cuius Caesar (to give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's) was in the Catiline conspiracy; and then the word was, he that is not for us is against us; for the instruments of wickedness must be men that are resolute and forward, and without consideration; or they will deceive the design, and relent when they enterprize.
"But when he was made dictator, and had some pretences, and a probability by means less wicked and mischievous to arrive at the government, his words were, he that is not against us is with us. But to Pompcy only it belonged, and to his cause, or the like cause, to the defenders of ancient established governments, of the English monarchy and liberties, to say, they that are not with us are against us. In internecino bello, in attacks upon government, medii pro hostibus habentur, neutral men are traitors, and assist, by their indifterency, to the destruction of the government. As many as applaud this play, ought to be put under sureties of the peace; and yet not one warrant, that we hear of yet, granted by the Lord Chief Justice.
"But it is not a Duke of Guise to be assassinated, a turbulent, wicked, and haughty courtier; but an innocent and gentle prince, as well as brave, and renowned for noble achievements: a prince, that hath no fault, but that he is the king's son; and the best too of all his sons; such a son, as would have made the best of emperors happy.
"Except it be, that the people honour him and love him, and every where publicly and loudly show it: But this they do, for that the best people of England have no other way left to show their loyalty to the king, and love to their religion and government, in long intervals of Parliament, than by prosecuting his son, for the sake of the king and his own merit, with all the demonstrations of the highest esteem. VOL. VII. I