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LII.

1628.

IT may be affirmed, without any exaggeration, that CHA P. the king's affent to the petition of right produced such a change in the government, as was almoft equivalent to a revolution; and by circumfcribing, in fo many articles, the royal prerogative, gave additional fecurity to the liberties of the fubject. Yet were the commons far from being satisfied with this important conceffion. Their ill humour had been fo much irritated by the king's frequent evasions and delays, that it could not be presently appeased by an affent, which he allowed to be fo ungracefully extorted from him. Perhaps too, the popular leaders, implacable and artful, faw the opportunity favourable; and turning against the king thofe very weapons, with which he had furnished them, refolved to purfue the victory. The bill, however, for five fubfidies, which had been formerly voted, immediately paffed the house; because the granting of that fupply was, in a manner, tacitly contracted for, upon the royal affent to the petition; and had faith been here violated, no farther confidence could have fubfifted between king and parliament. Having made this conceffion, the commons continued to carry their scrutiny into every part of government. In fome particulars, their industry was laudable; in fome, it may be liable to cenfure.

A LITTLE after writs were issued for fummoning this parliament, a commiffion had been granted to Sir Thomas Coventry, lord keeper, the Earl of Marlborough, high treasurer, the earl of Manchester, privy feal, the duke of Buckingham, high admiral, and all the confiderable officers of the crown, in the whole thirty-three. By this commiffion, which, from the number of persons named in it, could be no fecret, the commiffioners were empowered to meet, and to concert among themselves the methods of levying money by impofitions, or otherwise; Where form and circumftance, as expreffed in the commiffion, must be difpenfed with, rather than the fubftance be loft or hazarded. In other words, this was a scheme for finding expedients, which might raise the prerogative to the greatest height, and render parliaments entirely useless. The commons applied for cancelling the commiffion ; and were, no doubt, defirous that all the world

G

F Rushworth, vol. i. p. 614. Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 214. G Journ. 13 June, 1628.

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CHAP. world fhould conclude the king's principles to be extremeLII. ly arbitrary, and fhould obferve what little regard he was difpofed to pay to the liberties and privileges of his 1.628. people.

A COMMISSION had likewife been granted, and fome money remitted, in order to raife a thousand German horfe, and transport them into England. These were fuppofed to be levied, in order to fupport the projected impofitions or excifes; tho' the number feems infufficient for fuch a purpofe *. The houfe took notice of this defign in fevere terms: And no measure, furely, could be projected more generally odious to the whole nation. It must, however, be confeffed, that the king was fo far right, that he had, now at last, fallen on the only effectual method of fupporting his prerogative. But at the fame time, he fhould have been fenfible, that, till provided of a fufficient military force, all his attempts, in oppofition to the rifing spirit of the nation, must, in the end, prove wholly fruitless; and that the higher he fcrewed up the fprings of government, while he had fo little real power to retain them in that forced fituation, with more fatal violence muft they fly out, when any accident occurred to restore them to their natural action.

THE Commons next refumed their cenfure of Buckingham's conduct and behaviour, against whom they were implacable. They agreed to present a remonftrance to the king, in which they recapitulated all national grievances and misfortunes, and omitted no circumftance, which could render the whole administration despicable and odious. The compofitions with catholics, they faid, amounted to no less than a toleration, hateful to God, full of dishonour and difprofit to his majefty, and of extreme fcandal and grief to his good people: They took notice of the violations of liberty above-mentioned, against which the petition of right feems to have provided a fufficient remedy: They mentioned the decay of trade, the unfuccessful expeditions to Cadiz and the isle of Rhé, the encouragement given to Arminians, the commiffion for tranfporting German horfe, that for levying new impofitions; and all these grievances they afcribed folely to the ill condu&t of the duke of Buckingham,

Rushworth, vol. i. p. 612.

LII.

ham". This remonftrance was, perhaps, not the lefs CHAP. provoking to Charles, becaufe, joined to the extreme acrimony of the fubject, there were preserved in it, as in most of the protestations and remonftrances of that age, an affected civility and fubmiflion in the language.

1628.

IT was not without good grounds, that the commons were so fierce and affuming. Though they had already granted the king the supply of five fubfidies, they still retained a pledge in their hands, which, they thought, enfured them fuccefs in all their applications. Tonnage and poundage had not yet been granted by parliament; and the commons had artfully, this feffion, concealed their intention of invading that branch of revenue, till the royal affent had been obtained to the petition of right, which they justly esteemed of fuch importance. They then openly afferted, that the levying of tonnage and poundage, without confent of parliament, was a palpable violation of the antient liberties of the people, and an open infringement of the petition of right, fo lately granted. The king, in order to prevent the finishing Prorogaand prefenting of this remonstrance, came fuddenly to tion. the parliament, and ended this feffion by a proroga26th June. tion K.

BEING freed, for fome time, from the embarrassment of this affembly, Charles began to look towards foreign wars, where all his efforts were equally unfuccefsful, as in his domeftic government. The earl of Denbigh, brother-in-law to Buckingham, was dispatched to the relief of Rochelle, now clofely befieged by land, and threatened with a blockade by fea: But he returned without effecting any thing; and having declined to attack the enemy's fleet, he brought on the English arms the imputation, either of cowardice, or ill conduct. In order to repair this difhonour, the duke went to Portfmouth, where he had prepared a confiderable fleet and army, on which all the fubfidies, given by parliament, had been expended. This fupply had very much difappointed the king's expectations. The fame mutinous fpirit, which prevailed in the house of commons, had diffused itself over the nation; and the commiffioners, appointed

H Rufh. vol. i. p. 619. Parl. Hift. vol. viii. p. 219, 220, &c. I Rushworth, vol. i. p. 628. Journ. 18, 20 June, 1628. Journ. 26 June, 1628.

LII.

CHA P. appointed for making the affeffments, had connived at all frauds, which might diminish the supply, and reduce the crown to still greater neceffities. This national difcontent, communicated to a defperate enthufiaft, foon. broke out in an event, which may be confidered as very remarkable.

1628.

23d Aug.

THERE was one Felton, of a good family, but of an ardent melancholy temper, who had ferved under the duke, in the station of lieutenant. His captain being killed in the retreat from the ifle of Rhé, Felton had applied for the company; and when disappointed, he threw up his commiffion, and retired in difcontent from the army. While private refentment was boiling in his fullen, unfociable mind, he heard the nation refound with complaints against the duke; and he met with the remonftrance of the commons, in which his enemy was represented as the cause of every national grievance, and as the great enemy of the public. Religious fanaticism farther inflamed these vindictive reflections; and he fancied; that he should do heaven acceptable fervice, if, at one blow, he dispatched this dangerous foe to religion and to his country L. Full of thefe dark views, he fecretly arrived at Portsmouth, at the fame time with the duke, and watched for an opportunity of affecting his bloody purpose.

BUCKINGHAM had been engaged in converfation with Soubize and other French gentlemen; and a difference of fentiments having arifen, the difpute, though conducted with temper and decency, had produced fome of those vehement gefticulations and lively exertions of voice, in which that nation, more than the English, are apt to indulge themselves. The converfation being finished, the duke drew towards the door; and in that paffage, turning himself to speak to Sir Thomas Friar, a colonel in the army, he was on the fudden, over Sir Thomas's shoulder, ftruck upon the breaft with a knife. Death of Without uttering other words than, The villian has Bucking- killed me; in the fame moment, pulling out the knife, 'bam. he breathed his laft.

No man had feen the blow, nor the person who gave it; but in the confufion, every one made his own conjecture; and all agreed, that the murder had been com

L May's Hift. of the Parliament, p. 10.

mitted

LII.

1628.

mitted by the French gentlemen, whofe angry tone of CHA P. voice had been heard, while their words had not been understood, by the by-ftanders. In the hurry of revenge, they had inftantly been put to death, had they not been faved by fome of more temper and judgment, who, though they had the fame opinion of their guilt, thought proper to referve them for a judicial trial and examination.

NEAR the door, there was found a hat, in the infide of which was fewed a paper, containing four or five lines of that remonstrance of the commons, which declared Buckingham an enemy to the kingdom; and under these lines were a fhort ejaculation, or attempt towards a prayer. It was easily concluded that this hat belonged to the assasfin: But the difficulty ftill remained, Who that perfon fbould be? For the writing difcovered not the name; and whoever he was, it was natural to believe, that he had already fled far enough, not to be found without a hat.

In this hurry, a man without a hat was feen walking very composedly before the door. One crying out, Here is the fellow, who killed the duke; every body ran to ask, Which is he? The man very fedately answered, I am he. The more furious immediately rushed upon him with drawn fwords: Others, more deliberate, defended and protected him: He himself, with open arms, very calmly and chearfully exposed his breaft to the fwords of the most enraged; being willing to fall a fudden facrifice to their anger, rather than be reserved for that public juftice, which, he knew, must be executed upon him.

He was now known to be that Felton, who had served in the army. Being carried into a private room, it was thought proper fo far to diffemble as to tell him, that Buckingham was only grievously wounded, but not without hopes of recovery. Felton fmiled, and told them, that the duke, he knew full well, had received a blow, which had terminated all their hopes. When asked, at whose instigation he had performed that horrid deed? He answered, that they needed not to trouble themselves in that enquiry; that no man living had credit enough with him to have difpofed him to such an action; that he had not even entrusted his purpose to any one; that the refolution proceeded only from himself, and the impulfe of his own confcience; and that his motives would

appear,

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