The Autobiography of Anne Halkett

[Meditations, pp. 109 - 16]


[p. 109] Upon the Fast which by Proclamation was kept Jan, 30, 1660-1.

This is a day on which the greatest murder was committed that ever story mentioned, except the Crucifying of our Saviour.

Had nott his Majesty1 come under all those tryalls and sufferings, how should the world and his owne subjects have knowne his piety, patience, his meekenese and his charity, his constancy in suffering, and the heavenly ejaculations which upon all occations hee offred up to God in his solitudes? Which like monuments are left to future generations to teach them how to follow what was eminent in him.


The Scotts are blamed, and surely they deserve itt, if itt were butt for being too credulous; butt lett them that are withoutt this sin of being guilty of the King's murder in the Three Nations cast the first stone att the other, for either simply, willfully, or passively all are guilty, and therfore all had need to bee humbled greatly for so hainous a transgression.


Upon the death of my deare Son Henry, being the 12 of May, 1661.

What a sad journy hath this beene hether to mee into England where I expected greatest sattisfaction: 1st. in seeing the King and Royall family restored, and then in seeing my relations and friends; and to mitigate these joys the Lord is pleased dayly to send mee new afflictions, [p. 110] and to take away allmost the cheefe comforts of my life, which is my deare children, the first as being best beloved, and this as next succeeding, and all to teach mee nott to love the world or anything that is in itt. I was nott a wittnesse of my deare Hary's suffering as I was of his sister's, butt by relation itt was a long lingring sicknese, every day threatning death, and att last it came, to putt an end to his mortality just in the night of that day of the weeke (beeing Sunday2) that hee first receaved breath; and had hee lived one month longer hee had beene just three yeare seeing the world and feeling the bitternese of itt, for seldome had hee health to make him sencible of those joys which accompany every age, for every one hath something suitable to itt where the blesing of health is to make them sencible of them.


Upon making vows.

I never was in any affliction or distresse butt I was apt to make vows, and I noe sooner was delivered butt I forgott them. Even lately I have had experience of my selfe; for, having long since vowed that if I could live to see that day on which the crowne should be sett upon the King's head, I would, during my life, make that a day of particular devotion for blesings upon him, and yett for all there hath beene butt feu Tuesdays past by mee, yet halfe of them I have nott remembred till they were past, which makes mee now resolve never to vow anything againe butt to bee humbled, that I cannott performe them as I would, and as the benefitts require.


Upon the disbanding of the Army, and the disorder that followed.

Who is now living that did ever expect to see this day ? That so great and so successful an army, who gave laws to Three Kingdomes and cutt off there lawfull King, that set up and pulled downe who they pleased, that this army should be disbanded withoutt any resistance only by the vote of King and Parliament.

[p. 111] Sure itt would apeare these people's inclinations were to bee obedient if they had had such officers and rulers as would have shewed them good example, butt mostt generally the multitude is like an impetuous inundation, which runs most violently any way itt takes. Therfore they are wise who can sett them forward towards what is good and allowable, and then unquestionably they will run like a well biased bowle that way itt is derected by the thrower. Men may imagine reasons to themselves for these late unheard of changes, from good to ill, and from ill to good againe; butt certainly the hand of God is visible in all these alterations. Els how could itt have beene posible for a good and a greatly beloved King to have beene murdered publickly before his owne gates by a handfull of people (in comparison of the rest), and none made resistance butt with sighes and teares? How could this have beene done had nott the Lord for a just punishment of our sins taken from us power, strength, and wisdome?

How could the vilest of the people beene submitted to by so many better then themselves, who complied with them, had nott God taken from them there reason and there honor?

How could so many men have lost there lives both in England and Scotland for intending to restore the King and owning of his interest, and then to have him brought home in peace by the unanimous desire of the generality of the people? how could this have beene done butt by that God who only doth determine of life and death and times and seasons?

There is a time for all things, says the wise man (Eccles. iii. 1); there was a time for the King to suffer exile, and all his subjects to bee enslaved, and a time for him to bee restored; butt till this time came that God had apointed for itt all industry was fruitlese.

Now itt seemes this was the time and by this meanes that this army was to bee disbanded, and from this many expected peace and quiett, which they thought could nott bee as long as such men were in armes that had done so much against the royall power.

"Scatter the people that delight in warre," was a prayer made long since by the Psalmist (Psalm Ixviii. 30); and now wee see that prayer made good so many ages after to lett us see there never was a prayer putt up in faith, either from a person or people, butt had a returne att [p. 112] some time or other. Butt to lett us see the rules we prescribe our selves, as meanes to attaine our ends, proves most times the contrary (yett ought none from this forbeare to doe what's most agreeable to reason, and leave the success to Him who makes all things worke together for good to them that feare Him). The disbanding of this army was looked upon as a thing impossible without great mutiny; and the keeping it together seemed very dangerous; and yett how willingly every man went to his owne home att these severall days of dicipation, with the apearance of joy and acclamation, and praying for the King, who liberally rewarded there last actions though there former had beene so rebellious.

From this, which some made a ground to expect peace, others take occation to raise disturbance, and are nott afraid to intitle God to bee the owner of there quarrell and rebellion; but Hee who sitts in Heaven will laugh at there folly, and make them a derision unto all that hate them, because they have blaspheamed the name of the Most High and rebelled against the Lord and His anoynted.

1660-1, January 6, 7, 9. What disturbance hath those men made these three nights in one of the most populous and best governed cittys in the world! and yett they are butt a handfull in comparison of the multitude that were against them; butt a gangrene in the least degree begun hazords the lose of the whole body if not cutt off in time, and, since the multiplied mercys of a gracious and indulgent King cannot reclaime them, his severity must be made use of, and by letting bloud to purge outt that coruption which els might be infectious.


Upon the meeting that was to determine of Church government, being upon Tuesday, 3d of November, 1661.

This day the Parliament hath apointed to debate or determine of the goverment of the Church, or more properly, I may say, to determine of those ministers who will nott bee conforme to the goverment allready intended to bee established, for I cannot say it is firmely established when in most parts of the kingdome itt meets with oposition. Questionlese [p. 133] the generallity of the kingdome is inclined to Episcopisy as being the ancient goverment of this Church, and what many of the laws are built upon; yett that will nott persuade others to bee of there judgement, because they are posesed with a prejudice against it. There may bee ill Bishops, butt that should be looked upon as they are men, and nott bring a disrespect upon there function, for what man living is withoutt sin?


In fundimentalls both agree, Episcopall and Presbiterian, and yett none more violent then they one against another for the shadow; for such is the name of Bishop or ceremonys in comparison of that truth which is the substance. Did both sides seeke sincearly the glory of God, and the salvation of the soules committed to there charge, they would imploy themselves better then to make disturbances to the distruction of many soules as well as bodys. Were there a holy emulation which should come neerest to there head and master the Lord Christ, who said, "Learne of mee, for I am meeke and lowly in hart," (Matthew xi. 29,) then undoubtedly they should obtaine what follows, -- they should have rest unto there soules, and should nott only have peace, butt many blessings that attend itt.


To conclude these meditations concerning the King, I am fully perswaded the Lord hath designed him to bee an heire of glory and an instrument of much praise to himselfe by being a reformer both by his lawes and his practise, and till the time come I will dayly pray for the hastening of itt: and as his Majesty shewed great magnanimity and courage in his undaunted resolution of being crowned the apointed day, though the phanatickes, both in words and papers flung into the King's court att Whitehall, had with much boldness affirmed as from some inspiration that the crowne should never be sett upon his head, and that from these threats and more deliberate thoughts some faithfull to his Majesties interests did endeavour to diswade from keeping the intended day for coronation, because itt fell to bee a day on which there was an eclipse of the sun, and that might confirme some in there thoughts of his Majesties unhappy reigne; butt to this the King would nott condescend, butt with a Christian fortitude replied bee feared neither the threats nor the omen, [p. 114] because hee knew the Lord overuled all such events, and therefore hee would keep his first resolution and rely upon God for his blesing and preservation.

And that the God of power and glory may be praised I must record what I was witness of my selfe when his Majestie ridd from the Tower to Whitehall the day before the coronation, which was one of the greatest solemnitys that I believe ever Brittaine saw. Though the King had great and royall attendance and faithfull sarvantts, yett such was the multitude of beholders that crouded in aboutt the King that his sarvants were nott able to keepe aboutt the horse on which his Majestie did ride, and I saw very many meane ordinary persons laying there hands upon the horse and the rich trapings, which putt mee into that terrour for feare of some attempt upon his Majesties person that itt tooke away the satisfaction that els I should have had in so glorious a sight; butt I turned my feares into prayers, and was heard in that I feared, and the Lord granted my requests, and none had power to hurt him, praised be the Lord of mercy for it! Butt while I was thus connecting with my feares the King rode on with a serene undisturbed composure, free either from feare or vanity, and seemed to be pleased with the liberty the rude multitude tooke to aproach him, who certainly was restrained from there ill designes by the same spiritt that said, Toutch nott my Anointed.

The next day, being Tuesday, his Majestie was crowned, nottwithstanding all the oposition threatned by the phanatikes; and some time affter coronation there was the most terrible tempest of thunder, lightening, and raine that ever I saw, so that I feared some danger to his Majestie in his returne from Westminster coming by watter to Whitehall, where I waited, and had the honor to have the first kiss of his Majesties hand affter coming into the Howse; and on my knees, with an uplifted hart and soule, I beged that God would crowne his Majestie with all the blessings both of heaven and earth, for I was transported to see the King come sodainely into the room where I was alone waiting and praying for his Majesties safe arrivall, for the storme was such as if his enemys had conspired with the Prince of the power of the aire; butt for that day's mercy to the King I did resolve (and have hitherto kept itt) upon every Tuesday to make a solemne acknowledgement of the mercy in giving God thankes for setting the crowne that day upon his Majesties head, [p. 115] and in most humble fervent intercessions and suplications for his Majesties long, holy, and prosperous raigne.

One remarke I must nott omitt, which was, after the crowne had beene sometime upon the King's head, the weight of itt made his Majesties head to acke, for which he tooke itt off and held itt in his hand; and some from that made presages of the short continance of his Majesties raigne; butt, oh! how unreasonable and irreligious is all such observations! Had I beene wittness of that (which my being great with child made mee nott venture into such a crowd) I had interpreted rather that his Majestie tooke off his crowne with reverence to adore the King of Kings, who had sett itt on his head, in imitation of the fowre and twenty Elders who cast there crownes before the throne, saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receave glory and honor and power, for Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created;" and noe doubt butt as the weight of itt upon his Royall head putt him in mind of the great and weighing cares that attend a crowne, so the taking itt off was with an offering itt up and himselfe to the Lord and seeking a blessing upon his people and himselfe, and that that crowne might bee a pledge to him of that etternall crowne that fadeth nott butt continueth for ever. These and such like I believe were his Majesties thoughts during that solemnity.


Meditations and Resolutions upon Luke ii. 36, 37, and 38 verses.

(P. 51.) For though I did not talke away sermons as too too many did (which the Lord pardon), yett that is an agravation of my guilt, that I saw that sin in them, and did nott amend it in myselfe the secrett wandrings of my heart, which tooke mee up as much from hearing as there discourses did them.

(P. 64.) When I was young, I fasted weekely every Wednesday from the example of a lady, whom I believe did itt outt of a pious consideration, butt I had then noe other reason butt only to shew I could forbeare all kind of sustenance twenty-four hours; butt as I grew older and more acquainted with my duty I found fasting a great helpe to prayer and humiliation, [p. 116] and in the yeare 1644 I did then wholy sett apart that day for seeking mercy to reconcile the sad differences that was betwixt the King and his people and to mourne for the sins that occationed itt. Sometime when seriously I wentt aboutt that dutty I have felt the peace which paseth all natturall understanding, and so for a long time I continued itt; butt when I att any time made a mocke of itt by only forbearing to eate, butt nott forbearing to sin, then was itt truly made a day for mee to mourne for while I have life.

Since I grew old I found fasting prejudiciall to my health, and therfore I laid itt aside, as believing our Lord would pardon the omitting what I was nott well able to performe, and since though I do nott fast every Wednesday, yett I make that still a day of confession of the sins I was guilty of when I did fast, and since I did forbeare. And every Satturday now, since that day the Lord made mee a widow, I have endeavord to spend itt in holy abstenance and retirement. And how to improve itt more shall bee now my care and to try all ways how to serve the Lord with fasting and prayers night and day.


Kneeling in Prayer.

Though in this Church that cousttem is outt of use of kneeling in the time of prayer, and that for the most part all the congregation sitts rather like judges or auditors then those that were making suplication, as if they had so farre committed there cause to the minister's prayer that they need neither joyne with him themselves nor add anything for there owne nesesitous condittion, Lord convince them of the evil of this way that are guilty off itt.

1 Charles the First (Nichols's note).

2 Sunday, the 13th of June, 1658, as in p. 57 of the same volume (Nichols's note)

Marie Mancini (1639-1715) one of the first women to put her memoirs in print in France

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