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nation, they were inflamed, as is ufual among innova- C H A P. tors, with extreme zeal for their opinions. Their unfurmountable paffion,, difguifed to themselves, as well as to others, under the appearance of holy fervours, was well 1640. qualified to make profelytes, and to feize the mind of the ignorant multitude. And one furious enthusiast was able, by his active industry, to furmount the indolent efforts of many fober and reasonable antagonists.
WHEN the nation, therefore, was fo generally dif contented, and little fufpicion was entertained of any defign to fubvert the church and monarchy, no wonder, that almost all elections ran in favour of those, who, by their high pretenfions to piety and patriotism, had encouraged the national prejudices. It is an ufual compliment to regard the king's inclination in the choice of a speaker; and Charles had intended to advance Gardiner, recorder of London, to that important truft: But fo little intereft, did the crown, at that time, poffefs in the nation, that Gardiner was disappointed of his election, not only in London, but in every other place where it was attempted: And the king was obliged to make the choice of fpeaker fall on Lenthal, a lawyer of some character, but not fufficiently qualified for fo high and difficult an office A.
THE eager expectations of men with regard to a par- Meeting liament, fummoned at so critical a juncture, and during of the fuch general difcontents; a parliament, which, from the long parfituation of public affairs, could not be abruptly diffolved, and which was to execute every thing left unfinished by 3d Nov. former parliaments; these views, fo important and interefting, engaged the attendance of all the members; and the house of commons was never obferved to be, from the beginning, fo numerous and frequent. Without any interval, therefore, they entered upon business, and by unanimous confent, they immediately ftruck a blow, which may, in a manner, be regarded as decifive.
THE earl of Strafford was confidered as chief minifter, both on account of the credit which he poffeffed with his mafter, and of his own great and uncommon vigour and capacity. By a concurrence of accidents, this man laboured under the fevere hatred of all the three nations, which composed the British monarchy. The Scots,
A Clarendon, vol. i. p. 169.
CHA P. whofe authority now ran extremely high, looked on him as the capital enemy of their country, and one whofe counfels and influence they had moft reafon to apprehend. He had engaged the parliament of Ireland to advance large fubfidies, in order to fupport a war against them: He had levied an army of 9000 men, with which he had menaced all their weftern coaft: He had obliged the Scots, who lived under his government, to renounce the covenant, their national idol: He had in Ireland proclaimed the Scottish covenanters rebels and traitors, even before the king had iffued any fuch declaration against them in England: And he had ever diffuaded his master against the late treaty and fufpenfion of arms, which he regarded as dangerous and difhonourable. So avowed and violent were the Scots in their refentment of all thefe measures, that they had refufed to fend commiffioners to treat at York, as was at firft proposed; becaufe, they faid, the lieutenant of Ireland, their capital enemy, being general of the king's forces, had there the chief command and authority.
STRAFFORD, first as deputy, then as lord lieutenant, had governed Ireland during eight years with great vigilance, activity, and prudence, but with very little popularity. In a nation fo averfe to the English government and religion, these very virtues were fufficient to draw on him the public hatred. The manners too and character of this great man, though to all full of courtefy, and to his friends full of affection, were, at bottom, haughty, rigid, and fevere. His authority and influence, during the time of his government, had been unlimited; but no fooner did adverfity feize him, than the concealed averfion of the nation blazed up at once, and the Irish parliament ufed every expedient to aggravate the charge against him.
THE univerfal difcontent, which prevailed in England against the court, was all pointed towards the earl of Strafford; though without any particular reafon, but because he was the minifter of state, whom the king moft favoured and most trusted. His extraction was honourable, his paternal fortune confiderable: Yet envy attended his fudden and great elevation. And his former affociates in popular counfels, finding that he owed his advancement to the defertion of their cause, reprefented him as the great apoftate of the commonwealth,
whom it behoved them to facrifice, as a victim to pub- CHAP, lic juftice.
STRAFFORD, fenfible of the load of popular prejudices under which he laboured, would gladly have de- 1640. clined attendance in parliament: and he begged the king's permiffion to withdraw himself to his government of Ireland, or at least to remain at the head of the army in Yorkshire, where many opportunities, he hoped, would offer, by reason of his distance, to elude the attacks of his enemies. But Charles, who had entire confidence in the earl's capacity, thought that his counfels would be extremely useful during the critical feffion which ap proached. And when Strafford still infifted on the danger of his appearing amidst so many enraged enemies, the king, little apprehenfive that his own authority was fo fuddenly to expire, promised him protection, and affured him, that not a hair of his head should be touched by the parliament 3.
No fooner was Strafford's arrival known, than a concerted attack was made upon him in the house of commons. Pym, in a long, ftudied difcourfe, divided into many heads after his manner, enumerated all the grievances, under which the nation laboured; and, from a complication of fuch oppreffions, inferred, that a deliberate plan had been formed of changing entirely the frame of government, and fubverting the antient laws and liberties of the kingdom C. Could any thing, he faid, encrease Strafford our indignation against fo enormous and criminal a pro- impeached. ject, it would be to find, that, during the reign of the best of princes, the conftitution had been endangered by the worst of ministers, and that the virtues of the king had been feduced by wicked and pernicious counfel. We muft enquire, added he, from what fountain these waters. of bitterness flow; and tho', doubtlefs, many evil counsellors will be found to have contributed their endeavours, yet is there one who challenges the infamous pre-eminence, and who, by his courage, enterprize, and capacity, is intitled to the first place among these betrayers of their country. He is the earl of Strafford, lieutenant of Ireland, and prefident of the council of York, who, in both places, and in all other provinces, where he has been entrusted with authority, has raised ample monuVOL. VI.
CHAP. ments of tyranny, and will appear, from a survey of his actions, to be the chief promoter of every arbitrary counsel. Some inftances of imperious expreffions, as well as actions, were given by Pym, who afterwards entered into a more perfonal attack of that minifter, and endeavoured to expofe his whole character and manners. The auftere genius of Strafford, occupied in the purfuits of ambition, had not rendered his breaft altogether inacceffible to the tender paffions, or fecured him from the dominion of the fair; and in that fullen age, when the irregularities of pleasure were more reproachful than the most odious crimes, thefe weaknesses were thought worthy of being mentioned, together with his treasons, before fo great an affembly. And upon the whole, the orator concluded, that it belonged to the house to provide a remedy proportionable to the difeafe, and to prevent the farther mifchiefs justly to be apprehended from the influence, which this man had acquired over the measures and counfels of their fovereign D.
SIR John Clotworthy, an Irish gentleman, Sir John Hotham of Yorkshire, and many others, entered into the fame topics: And after several hours spent in bitter invective, when the doors were locked, in order to prevent all discovery of their purpofe; it was moved, in confequence of the refolution fecretly taken, that Strafford fhould immediately be impeached of high treason. This motion was received with univerfal approbation; nor was there, in all the debate, one person who offered to stop the torrent by any teftimony in favour of the earl's conduct. Lord Faulkland alone, though known to be his enemy, modeftly defired the house to confider, whether it would not better fuit the gravity of their proceedings, first to digeft, by a committee, many of those particulars, which had been mentioned, before they fent up an accufation against him. It was ingenuoufly anfwered by Pym, That fuch a delay might probably blaft all their hopes, and put it out of their power to proceed any farther in the profecution: That when Strafford fhould learn, that fo many of his enormities were discovered, his confcience would dictate his condemnation; and fo great was his power and credit, he would immediately procure the diffolution of the parliament, or attempt
D Clarendon, vol. i. p. 172.
fome other desperate measure for his own prefervation: CHA P. That the commons were only accufers, not judges; and
LV. it was the province of the peers to determine, whether 1640. fuch a complication of enormous crimes, in one perfon, did not amount to the highest crime known by the law E. Without farther debate, the impeachment was voted: Pym was chosen to carry it up to the lords: Most of the house accompanied him on fo agreeable an errand: And Strafford, who had just entered the house of peers, and who little expected so speedy a profecution, was immediately, upon this general charge, ordered into cuftody, with feveral fymptoms of violent prejudice in his judges, as well as in his profecutors.
IN the enquiry concerning grievances, and in the cen- Laud imfure of past measures, Laud could not long escape the peached. fevere fcrutiny of the commons, who were led too, in their accufation of that prelate, as well by their prejudices against his whole order, as by the extreme antipathy, which his intemperate zeal had drawn upon him. After a deliberation, which scarcely lafted half an hour, an impeachment of high treason was refolved on against this fubject, the first, both in rank and in favour, throughout the kingdom. Though this incident, confidering the example of Strafford's impeachment and the present dispofition of the nation and parliament, needed be no furprize to him, yet was he betrayed into fome paffion, when the accufation was prefented. The commons themselves, he faid, though his accufers, did not believe him guilty of the crimes with which they charged him: An indifcretion, which, next day, upon more mature deliberation, he defired leave to retract; but fo little favourable were the peers, that they refused him this advantage or indulgence. Laud was immediately, upon this general charge, fequeftered from parliament, and committed to cuftody ".
THE capital article, infisted on against these two great men, was the defign which the commons fuppofed to have been formed of fubverting the laws and conftitution of England, and introducing arbitrary and unlimited authority into the kingdom Of all the king's ministers, no one was fo obnoxious in this refpect as the lord keeper, Finch. He it was, who, being speaker in the king's third parlia
E Clarendon, vol. i. p. 174. F Clarendon, vol. i. 177. Whitlocke, p. 38. Rushworth, vol. iii. p. 1365.