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No Quarter!   By: (1818-1883)

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No Quarter! By Captain Mayne Reid Published by Hurst and Company, New York. This edition dated 1890.

No Quarter! by Captain Mayne Reid.



There is no page in England's history so bright, nor of which Englishmen have such reason to be proud, as that covering the period between 1640 and 1650. This glorious decade was ushered in by the election of the "Long Parliament," and I challenge the annals of all nations, ancient or modern, to show an assembly in which sat a greater number of statesmen and patriots. Brave as pure, fearless in the discharge of their difficult and dangerous duties, they faltered not in the performance of them shrank not from impeaching a traitor to his country, and bringing his head to the block, even when it carried a crown. True to their consciences, as to their constituencies, they left England a heritage of honour that for long haloed her escutcheon, and even to this hour throws its covering screen over many a deed of shame.

"Be a King?"

"Am I not one?"

"In name nothing more. Ah! were I a man and in your place?"

"What would you do?"

"Give your island churls a taste of kingship, as we know it in France. My brother wouldn't let his subjects so beard him. Oh, it's abominable!"

"Ah, chere ; for subjects your brother has a very different sort of people to deal with. In France they're not yet come to clamouring for what they call their rights and liberties. Here in England they've got Magna Charta into their heads to a craze."

"I'd have it out of their heads, or have their heads off. Ciel ! I'd reign King as King should, or resign. No! not resign. Sooner than that I'd waste the country with fire and sword make it a wilderness."

It was Henrietta, wife of Charles the First, who thus expressed herself to her husband. They were alone in the gardens of Whitehall Palace, sauntering side by side on a terrace overlooking the Thames, the afternoon being an unusually fine one. As they made a turn which brought Westminster Hall before their eyes, the angry fire in those of the Queen flashed up again, and she added

"Anything but be dictated to by that canaille of a Parliament! Anything but let them go on as now?"

"How am I to hinder it, Henriette?" the King timidly interrogated.

"Dismiss send them packing back to their constituencies, and let them prate away there as much as they please. Dissolve and do without them, as you've done before."

"That would be to do without the money we so much need. My subjects are determined to resist every tax levied under Privy Seal or otherwise. I can no longer raise loan or sell monopoly. Your own secretary, Sir John Wintour, has just been telling me how the people of Dean Forest have been harassing him about the grant we gave him of its timber and mines. Impossible now to obtain the most insignificant supplies without their being sanctioned by this cabal called Parliament."

"Then make the cabal sanction them."

"But how, chere ?"

"Have a score or two of them arrested lodged in the Tower; and let Monsieur Tom Lunsford take care of them. He'll soon cure them of their seditious inclinings."

"To do that were as much as my crown's worth."

"If't be worth no more, you may as well cease wearing it. Fling it into the Thames, or melt it down and sell it to the Ludgate Street goldsmiths for old metal. Shame of you, Charles! You talk of kingly rights, yet fail to exercise them fear it?"

"My subjects talk of rights, too."

"Yes, and you encourage them by your timidity. Ever on your knees begging this and begging that, when a true king would command. Subjects, indeed! more like our masters. But I'd teach them obedience. What would they be without a king? What were they born for but to administer to our wants and our pleasures?"

Words worthy of a Medici; the sentiments of a queen two centuries and a half ago... Continue reading book >>

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