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THE DUKE OF GUISE. 195is it so unlawful for me to argue for the succession in the right line upon the stage; and is it so very lawful for Mr Hunt, and the scribblers of your party, to oppose it in their libels off the stage? Is it so sacred, that a parliament only is suffered to debate it, and dare you run it down both in your discourses and pamphlets out of parliament? In conscience, what can you urge against me, which I cannot return an hundred times heavier on you? And by the way, you tell me, that to affirm the contrary to this, is a prcemunire against the statute of the 13th of Elizabeth. If such a pramunire be, pray, answer me, who has most incurred it? In the mean time, do me the favour to look into the statute-book, and see if you can find the statute; you know yourselves, or you have been told it, that this statute is virtually repealed, by that of the 1st of king James, acknowledging his immediate lawful and undoubted right to this imperial crown, as the next lineal heir; those last words are an implicit anti-declaration to the statute in queen Elizabeth, which, for that reason, is now omitted in our books. The lawful authority of an House of Commons I acknowledge; but without fear and trembling, as my Reflectors would have it. For why should I fear my representatives? they are summoned to consult about the public good, and not to frighten those who chose them. It is for you to tremble, who libel the supreme authority of the nation. But we knavish coxcombs and villains are to know, say my authors, that " a vote is the opinion of that House." Lord help our understandings, that know not this without their telling! What Englishman, do you think, does not honour his representatives, and wish a parliament void of heat and animosities, to secure the quiet of the nation? You cite his majesty's declaration against those that dare trifle with pailiaments; a declaration, by the way, which you endeavoured not to have read publicly in churches, with a threatening to those that did it. "But we still declare (says his majesty) that no irregularities of parliament shall make us out of love with them." Are not you unfortunate quoters? why now should you rub up the remembrance of those irregularities mentioned in that declaration, which caused, as the king informs us, its dissolution?
The next paragraph is already answered; it is only a clumsy commendation of the Duke of Monmouth, copied after Mr Hunt, and a proof that he is unlike the Duke of Guise. After having done my drudgery for me, and having most officiously proved, that the English duke is no parallel for the French, which I am sure he is not, they are next to do their own business, which is, that I meant a parallel betwixt Henry III. and our most gracious sovereign. But, as fallacies are always couched in general propositions, they plead the whole course of the drama, which, they say, seems to insinuate my intentions. One may see to what a miserable shift they are driven, when, for want of any one instance, to which I challenge them, they have only to allege, that the play Seems to insinuate it. I answer, it does not seem; which is a bare negative to a bare affirmative; and then we are just where we were before. Fat Falstaff was never set harder by the Prince for a reason, when he answered, "that, if reasons grew as thick as blackberries, he would not give one." Well, after long pumping, lest the lie should appear quite barefaced, they have found I said, that, at king Henry's birth, there shone a regal star; so there did at king Charles the Second's; therefore I have made a parallel betwixt Henry III. and Charles II. A
very concluding syllogism, if I should answer it no farther.
Now, let us look upon the play; the words are in the fourth act. The conjurer there is asking his devil, "what fortune attended his master, the Guise, and what the king?" The familiar answers concerning the king,—" He cannot be deposed, he may be killed; a violent fate attends him; but, at his birth, there shone a regal star."—Cory. "My master had a stronger.''—Devil. "No, not a stronger, but more popular." Let the whole scene, (which is one of the best in the tragedy, though murdered in the acting) be read together, and it will be as clear as day light, that the Devil gave an astrological account of the French king's horoscope; that the regal star, then culminating, was the sun in the tenth house, or mid-heaven; which, ceterisparibus, is a regal nativity in that art. The rest of the scene confirms what I have said; for the Devil has taken the position of the heavens, or scheme of the world, at the point of the sun's entrance into Aries. I dispute not here the truth or lawfulness of that art; but it is usual with poets, especially the Italians, to mix astrology in their poems. Chaucer, amongst us, is frequent in it: but this revolution particularly I have taken out of Luigi Pulci; and there is one almost the same in Boiardo's "Orlando Inamorato.'" Now, if these poets knew, that a star were to appear at our king's birth, they were better prophets than Nostradamus, who has told us nothing of it. Yet this they say "is treason with a witness," and one of the crimes for which they condemned me to be hanged, drawn and quartered. I find they do not believe me to be one of their party at the bottom, by their charitable wishes to me; and am proud enough to think, I have done them some little mischief, because they are so desirous to be rid of me. But if Jack Ketch must needs have the handling of us poets, let him begin first where he may take the deepest say *; let me be hanged, but in my turn; for I am sure I am neither the fattest scribbler, nor the worst; I'll be judged by their own party. But, for all our comforts, the days of hanging are a little out of date; and I hope there will be no more treason with a witness or witnesses; for now there is no more to be got by swearing, and the market is overstocked besides.
But are you in earnest when you say, I have made Henry III. "fearful, weak, bloody, perfidious, hypocritical, and fawning, in the play?" I am sure an unbiassed reader will find a more favourable image of him in the tragedy, whatever he was out of it. You would not have told a lie so shameless, but that you were resolved to second it with a worse— that I made a parallel of that prince. And now it comes to my turn, pray let me ask you,—why you spend three pages and a half in heaping up all the villainies, true or false, which you can rake together, to blast his memory? Why is all this pains taken to expose the person of king Henry III.? Are you leaguers, or covenanters, or associators? What has the poor dead man done to nettle you? Were his rebels your friends or your relations? Were your Norman ancestors of any of those families, which were conspirators in the play? I smell a rat
* The say, or assay, is the first cut made on the stag when he is killed. The hunter begins at the brisket, and draws the knife downwards. The purpose is, to ascertain how fat he is:
"At the assay kitle him, that Lends may se
The allusion in the text is to the cruel punishment of high treason by quartering.
in this business; Henry III. is not taken thus to task for nothing. Let me tell you, this is little better than an implicit confession of the parallel I intended. This gentleman of Valois sticks in your stomachs; and, though I do not defend his proceedings in the States, any otherwise than by the inevitable necessity which caused them, yet acknowledging his crime does not extenuate their guilt that forced him to it. It was bad on both sides, but the revenge was not so wicked as the treason; for it was a voluntary act of theirs, and a compelled one of his. The short on't is» he took a violent course to cut up the Covenant by the roots; and there is your quarrel to him. Now for a long-winded panegyric of the king of Navarre; and here I am sure they are in earnest, when they take such overpains to prove there is no likeness where they say I intended it. The hero, at whom their malice is levelled, does but laugh at it, I believe; and, amongst the other virtues of that predecessor, wants neither his justice nor his clemency, to forgive all the heads of the League, as fast as they submit. As for obliging them, (which our author would fain hook in for an ingredient) let them be satisfied, that no more enemies are to be bought off with places and preferments; the trial which has been made in two kings' reigns, will warn the family from so fruitless and dangerous an expedient. The rest is already answered, in what I have said to Mr Hunt; but I thank them, by the way, for their instance of the fellow whom the king of Navarre had pardoned and done good to, "yet he would not love him;" for that story reaches home somewhere.
I must make haste to get out of hearing from this Billingsgate oratory; and, indeed, to make an end with these authors, except I could call rogue