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LII.

1628.

CHAP." moft gracious difpofition, and to the defire and weal of "his people. If this be deferred, neceffity and the fword "of the enemy make way for others. Remember his ma"jefty's admonition, I fay, remember it D." From thefe avowed maxims, the commons forefaw, that, if the least handle was afforded, the king would immediately diffolve them, and would thenceforward deem himself juftified for violating, in a manner ftill more open, all the antient forms of the conftitution. No remedy could be looked for, but from infurrections and civil war, of which the iffue would be extremely uncertain, and which must, in all events, prove calamitous to the whole nation. To correct the late disorders in the administration required fome new laws, which would, no doubt, appear harsh

prince, fo enamoured of his prerogative; and it was requifite to temper, by the decency and moderation of their debates, the rigour, which must neceffarily attend their determinations. Nothing can give us a higher idea of the capacity of those men, who now guided the commons, and of the great authority, which they had acquired, than the forming and executing so judicious and fo difficult a plan of operations.

THE decency, however, which the popular leaders had prescribed to themselves, and recommended to others, hindered them not from making the loudest and most vigorous complaints against the grievances, under which the nation had lately laboured. Sir Francis Seymour said, "This is the great council of the kingdom, and here "with certainty, if not here only, his majesty may see,

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as in a true glass, the state of the kingdom. We are "called hither by his writs, in order to give him faith"ful counfel; fuch as may ftand with his honour: And

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this we must do without flattery. We are alfo fent "hither by the people in order to deliver their juft grievances: And this we must do without fear. Let ઃઃ us not act like Cambyfes's judges, who, when their approbation was demanded by the prince to fome illegal measure, faid, that, Though there was a writ"ten law, the Perfian kings might follow their own will " and pleasure. This was bafe flattery, fitter for our reproof than our imitation; and as fear, fo flattery "taketh away the judgment. For my part, I shall shun

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"both;

P Rushworth, vol. i. p. 479. Franklyn, p. 234.

LII.

"both; and speak my mind with as much duty, as CHA P. any man, to his majefty, without neglecting the public.

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BUT how can we exprefs our affections, while we "retain our fears; or fpeak of giving, till we know "whether we have any thing to give. For, if his ma"jefty may be perfuaded to take what he will, what "need we give?

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"THAT this hath been done, appeareth by the billetting of foldiers, a thing no wife advantageous to "the king's fervice, and a burthen to the commonwealth: "By the imprisonment of gentlemen for refufing the "loan, who, if they had done the contrary for fear, "had been as blameable as the projectors of that op“preffive measure. To countenance these proceedings, "hath it not been preached in the pulpit, or rather "prated, that All we have is the king's by divine right? "But when preachers forfake their own calling, and "turn ignorant statesmen; we see how willing they are "to exchange a good confcience for a bishopric.

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"HE, I must confefs, is no good fubject, who would not, willingly and chearfully, lay down his life, when "that facrifice may promote the interests of his fove"reign, and the good of the commonwealth. But he

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is not a good fubject, he is a flave, who will allow "his goods to be taken from him against his will, and his "liberty against the laws of the kingdom. By oppofing "these practices, we shall but tread in the steps of our "forefathers, who still preferred the public before their "private intereft, nay, before their very lives. It will in us be a wrong done to ourselves, to our pofterities, to our confciences, if we forego this claim and pre"tenfion É"

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"I READ of a custom," faid Sir Robert Philips, among the old Romans, that, once every year, they "held a folemn feftival, in which their flaves had liberty, without exception, to speak what they pleased, in "order to eafe their afflicted minds; and, on the con"clufion of the feftival, the flaves feverally returned to their former fervitudes.

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"THIS inftitution may, with fome diftinction, well "fet forth our prefent ftate and condition. After the "revolution

Franklyn, p. 243. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 499.

1628.

LII.

1628.

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CHA P." revolution of fome time, and the grievous fufferance "of many violent oppreffions, we have now, at last, as thofe flaves, obtained, for a day, fome liberty "of speech: But shall not, I trust, be hereafter flaves: "For we are born free. Yet, what new illegal bur"thens our eftates and perfons have groaned under, my heart yearns to think of, my tongue falters to

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utter.

"THE grievances, by which we are oppreffed, I "draw under two heads; acts of power against law, "and the judgment of lawyers against our liberty."

HAVING mentioned three illegal judgments, paffed within his memory; that by which the Scots, born after James's acceffion, were admitted to all the privileges of English fubjects; that by which the new impofitions. had been warranted; and the last, by which arbitrary imprisonments were authorised; he thus proceeded:

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"I can live, though another, who has no right, be put to live along with me; nay, I can live, though "burthened with impofitions, beyond what at present I "labour under: But to have my liberty, which is the "foul of my life, ravished from me; to have my per"fon pent up in a jail, without relief by law, and to be "fo adjudged,O, improvident ancestors! O un"wife forefathers! to be fo curious in providing for the

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quiet poffeffion of our lands, and the liberties of par"liament; and at the fame time, to neglect our per"fonal liberty, and let us lie in prifon, and that during "pleasure, without redress or remedy! If this be law, "why do we talk of liberties? Why trouble ourselves "with difputes about a constitution, franchises, property "of goods, and the like? What may any man call his own, if not the liberty of his perfon?

"I AM weary of treading these ways; and therefore "conclude to have a felect committee, in order to frame

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a petition to his majesty for redress of these oppreffions. And this petition being. read, examined, and "approved, may be delivered to the king; of whose 66 gracious answer we have no cause to doubt, our de"fires being fo reasonable, our intentions fo loyal, and "the manner fo dutiful. Neither need we fear, that "this is the critical parliament, as has been infinuated;

or that this is the way to distraction: But affure our"felves of a happy iffue, Then shall the king, as he

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❝calls us his great council, find us his true council, and CHA P. own us his good council F."

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THE fame topics were enforced by Sir Thomas Wentworth. After mentioning projectors and ill ministers of ftate," Thefe," faid he," have introduced a privy ❝council, ravishing, at once, the spheres of all ancient

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government: destroying all liberty; imprifoning us " without bail or bond. They have taken from us "What shall I fay? Indeed, what have they left us? "By tearing up the roots of all property, they have "taken from us every means of supplying the king, and "of ingratiating ourselves by voluntary proofs of our duty and attachment towards him.

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"To the making whole all these breaches, I shall "apply myself; and, to all these diseases, fhall pro86 pound a remedy. By one and the fame thing, have "the king and the people been hurt, and by the same "must they be cured. We must vindicate: What? "New things? No: Our antient, legal, and vital li"berties; by re-inforcing the laws, enacted by our "ancestors; by fetting fuch a stamp upon them, that no licentious fpirit fhall dare henceforth to invade "them. And fhall we think this a way to break a par"liament? No: Our defires are modeft and just. I fpeak both for the interest of king and people. If we enjoy not these rights, it will be impoffible for us to "relieve him. Let us never, therefore, doubt of a "favourable reception from his goodness G."

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THESE fentiments were unanimously embraced by the whole house. Even the court party pretended not, to plead, in defence of their late measures, any thing but the neceffity, to which the king had been reduced, by the obftinacy of the two former parliaments. A vote, therefore, was paffed without oppofition, against arbitrary imprisonments and forced loans H. And the spirit of liberty having obtained fome fatisfaction by this exertion of itself, the reiterated meffages of the king, who preffed fór fupply, were attended to with more temper. Five fubfidies were voted him; with which, though much inferior to his wants, he declared himself well

F Franklyn, p. 245. Parliament Hift. vol. vii. p. 363. Rufhworth, vol. i. p. 502. G Franklyn, p. 243. Rufhworth, vol. i. p. 500. H Franklyn, p. 251. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 513. Whitlocke, p. 9.

LII.

1628.

1628.

CHAP. well fatisfied; and even tears of affection started in his LII. eye, when he was informed of this conceffion. The duke's approbation too was mentioned by secretary Coke, but the conjunction of a fubject with the fovereign was ill received by the houfe. Though difgufted with the king, the jealoufy, which they had felt for his honour, was more fenfible than that, which his unbounded confidence in the duke would allow even himself to entertain.

THE fupply, though voted, was not, as yet, paffed into a law; and the commons refolved to employ the interval, in providing fome barriers to their rights and liberties, fo lately violated. They knew, that their own vote, declaring the illegality of the former measures, had not, of itself, fufficient authority, to fecure the conftitution against future invafion. Some act to that purpose muft receive the fanction of the whole legiflature; and they appointed a committee to prepare the model of fo important a law. By collecting into one effort all the dangerous and oppreffive claims of his prerogative, Charles had expofed them to the hazard of one affault; and had farther, by presenting a nearer view of the consequences attending them, rouzed the independent genius of the commons. Forced loans, benevolences, taxes without confent of parliament, arbitrary imprisonments, billeting foldiers, martial law; these were the grievances complained of, and against these an eternal remedy was to be provided. The commons pretended not, as they affirmed, to any unusual powers or privileges: They aimed only at fecuring those transmitted them from their ancestors: And their law, they refolved to call a PETIPetition of TION OF RIGHT: as implying that it contained a corright. roboration or explanation of the antient conftitution, not any infringement of royal prerogative, or acquifition of new liberties.

WHILE the committee was employed in framing the petition of right, the favourers of each party, both in parliament and throughout the nation, were engaged in difputes about this bill, which, in all likelihood, was to form a memorable era in the English government.

THAT the ftatutes, faid the partizans of the commons, which fecure English liberty, are not become obfolete, appears hence, that the English have ever been free, and have

I Rushworth, vol. i. p. 526. Whitlocke, p. 9.

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