« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
CHAP." been in the fame place, which I now occupy, have not freely given warrants for commitment; and yet no "doubt been entertained, nor any complaint been made "by the fubject N."
UPON this speech there arose a great debate in the house. Many reasons were a-new urged on both fides: But, Sir Thomas Wentworth clofed the debate, by faying, "That never house of parliament, fo far as re
garded themselves, trusted more than the present to "the goodness of their king: But we are ambitious,” faid he that his majesty's goodness may remain to poste"rity, and we are accountable for a public trust. There "hath been a public violation of the laws by the king's "ministers; and nothing can fatisfy the nation but a public reparation. Our defire to vindicate the fubjects' right by bill, will carry us no farther than what 66 is contained in former laws, with fome modest pro"vifion for inftruction, performance, and execution " This contained fo much the fentiments of the house, that it was immediately acquiefced in.
THE king, however, was not difcouraged. By another meffage, he attempted to divert the commons from their purpose. He there acknowledged paft errors, and promised, that, hereafter, there fhould be no juft caufe of complaint. And he added, "That the affairs of "the kingdom prefs him fo, that he could not conti66 nue the feffion above a week or two longer: And if "the house be not ready, by that time, to do what is "fit for themselves, it shall be their own fault P." On a fubfequent occafion, he asked them, "Why demand "explanations, if you doubt not the performance of "the ftatutes, according to their true meaning. Ex
planations will hazard an encroachment upon the prerogative. And it may well be faid, What need a a new law to confirm an old, if you repofe confidence "in the declarations, which his majesty made to both "houfes ?" The truth is, the great charter and the old ftatutes were fufficiently clear in favour of liberty: But as all kings of England had ever, in cafes of neceffity or expediency, been accustomed, at intervals, to elude them;
N State Trials, vol. vii. p. 189, 190. Rush. vol. i. P. 553.
them; and as Charles, in a complication of inftances, C H A P, had lately violated them, the commons judged it requifite to enact a new law, which might not be eluded or violated, by any interpretation, conftruction, or contrary expedient. Nor was it fufficient, they thought, that the king promised to return into the way of his predeceffors. His predeceffors, in all times, had enjoyed too much difcretionary power; and by this recent abuse of it, the world had reafon to fee the neceffity of entirely retrenching it.
SIR EDWARD COKE urged on this occafion, with the approbation of the house, "Was it ever known, "that general words were a fufficient fatisfaction for "particular grievances? Was ever a verbal declara"tion of the king the word of the fovereign? When grievances are complained of, the parliament is to "redress them. Did ever the parliament rely on mef"fages? They have ever put up petitions of their grievances, and the king has ever anfwered them. "The king's meffage is very gracious; but, what is "the law of the realm? that is the question. I have no diffidence of his majefty; but the king must speak by record, and in particulars. Did you ever "know the king's meffage come into a bill of fubfidies? All fucceeding kings will fay, Ye must trust me as you "did my predeceffor, and you must have the fame confidence "in my meffages. But meffages of love never come into a parliament. Let us put up a petition of right: "Not that I diftruft the king; but that I cannot give "trust except in a parliamentary way
THE king ftill perfevered in his endeavours to elude the petition. He sent a letter to the house of lords, in which he went fo far as to make a particular declaration, "That neither he nor his privy-council fhall or will, at "any time hereafter, commit or command to prison, or "otherwise restrain, any man for not lending money, or "for any other caufe, which, in his confcience, he "thought not to concern the public good, and the safety "of king and people." And he farther declared, "That he never would be guilty of so base an action as to pretend any cause, of whofe truth he was not fully VOL. VI. "fatisfied."
R State Trials, vol. vii. p. 197. Ruh vol. i. p. 558.
CHA P." fatisfied s." But this promise, though enforced to the commons by the recommendation of the upper house, made no more impreffion than all the former meffages.
AMONG the other evafions of the king, we may reckon the proposal of the house of peers, to fubjoin, to the intended petition of right, the following clause: "We humbly prefent this petition to your majesty, not only with a care of preferving our own liberties, "but with due regard to leave entire that sovereign pow"er, with which your majefty is entrusted for the pro"tection, fafety, and happiness of your people "." Lefs penetration, than what was poffeffed by the leaders of the house of commons, could easily discover how captious this claufe was, and how much it was calculated to elude the whole force of the petition.
THESE obftacles, therefore, being furmounted, the petition of right paffed the commons, and was fent to the upper house. The peers, who were probably well pleafed in fecret, that all their folicitation had been eluded by the commons, quickly paffed the petition without any material alteration; and nothing but the royal affent was wanting to give it the force of a law. The king accordingly came to the house of peers; fent for the commons; and, being feated in his chair of state, the petition was read to him. Great was now the aftonishment of all men, when, instead of the usual concise, and clear form, by which a bill is either confirmed or rejected, Charles faid, in answer to the petition, "The "king willeth, that right be done according to the laws "and customs of the realm, and that the ftatutes be "66 put into execution; that his fubjects may have no "cause to complain of any wrong or oppreffion, contrary to their just rights and liberties, to the preferva"tion whereof he holds himfelf in confcience as much "obliged as of his own prerogative U."
IT is furprizing, that Charles, who had feen fo many inftances of the jealoufy of the commons, who had himself so much rouzed that jealousy by his frequent evasive meflages
s State Trials, vol. vii. p. 198.
Rufh. vol. i. p. 560.
T State Trials, vol. vii. p. Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 116. note at the end of the volume. Rush. vol. i. p. 590.
meffages during this feffion, could imagine, that they CHAP. would reft fatisfied with an anfwer fo vague and undetermined. It was evident, that the unufual form alone of the answer must excite their attention; that the disappointment must inflame their anger, and that therefore it was neceffary, as the petition feemed to bear hard on royal prerogative, to come early to fome fixed refolution, either gracefully to comply with it, or courageously to reject it.
IT happened, as might have been forefeen. The commons returned in very ill humour. Ufually, when in that difpofition, their zeal and jealoufy for religion, and their enmity against the unfortunate catholics, ran extremely high. But they had already, in the beginning of the feffion, presented to the king their petition of religion, and had received a fatisfactory anfwer; though they expected, that the execution of the laws against papifts would, for the future, be no more exact and rigid, than they had hitherto found it. To give vent to their present indignation, they fell, with their utmost force, on Dr. Manwaring.
THERE is nothing, which tends more to excufe, if not to juftify, the extreme rigour of the commons towards Charles, than his open encouragement and avowal of fuch general principles, as were altogether incompatible with a limited government. Manwaring had preached a fermon, which the commons found, upon inquiry, to be printed by special command of the king W; and, when this fermon was looked into, it contained doctrines fubverfive of all civil liberty. It taught, That, though property was commonly lodged in the fubject, yet, when ever any exigency required fupply, all property was tranfferred to the fovereign; that the confent of parliament was not neceffary for the impofition of taxes; and that the divine laws required compliance with every demand, however irregular, which the prince fhould make upon his fubjects. For thefe doctrines, the commons impeached Manwaring. The fentence pronounced upon him by the peers was, That he fhould be imprisoned during the pleasure of the houfe, be fined a thousand P 2 pounds
w Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 206.
X Rushworth, vel i. p.
585, 594. Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 168, 169, 170, &c., Welwood, p. 44.
CHA P. pounds to the king, make submission and acknowledgment for his offence, be fufpended during three years, be incapable of holding any ecclefiaftical dignity or fecular office, and that his book be called in and burnt Y.
IT may be worth notice, that, no fooner was the feffion ended, than this man, so justly obnoxious to both houses, received a pardon, and was promoted to a living of confiderable value 2. Some years after, he was raised to the fee of St. Afaph. If the republican spirit of the commons encreased, beyond all reasonable bounds, the monarchical spirit of the court; this latter, carried to fo high a pitch, tended still farther to augment the former. And thus extremes were every where affected, and the just medium was gradually deserted by all men.
FROM Manwaring, the house of commons proceeded to cenfure the conduct of Buckingham, whose name, hitherto, they had cautiously forborne to mention A. In vain did the king send them a message, in which he told them, that the feffion was drawing near a conclusion; and defired, that they would not enter upon new business, nor caft any afperfions on his government and ministry B. Though the court endeavoured to explain and foften this meffage by a fubfequent message ; as Charles was apt haftily to correct any hafty step, which he had taken; it ferved rather to inflame than appease the commons: As if the method of their proceeding had here been prefcribed to them. It was foreseen, that a great tempeft was ready to burst on the duke; and in order to divert it, the king thought proper, upon a joint application of the lords and commons D, to endeavour giving them fatisfaction, with regard to the petition of right. He came, therefore, to the house of peers, and pronouncing the ufual form of words, Let it be law as is defired, gave full fan&tion and authority to the petition. The acclamations, with which the house refounded, and the univerfal joy diffused over the nation, fhewed how much this petition had been the object of all mens' vows and expectations E.
Rush. vol. i. p. 65. Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 212.
C Rushworth, vol. i.
610. Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 197. D Rushworth, vol. i. p. 613. Journ. 7 June, 1628. Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 201. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 613..