« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
CHA P. ment, had left the chair, and refused to put the question, when ordered by the house. The extrajudicial opinion of the judges, in the case of ship-money, had been procured by his intrigues, perfuafions, and even menaces. In all unpopular and illegal measures, he was ever most active; and he was even believed to have declared publicly, that, while he was keeper, an order of the council fhould always with him be equivalent to a law. To appease the rifing displeasure of the commons, he defired to be heard at their bar. He proftrated himself with all humility before them; but this fubmiffion availed him nothing. An impeachment was refolved on; and in order to escape their fury, he thought proper fecretly to withdraw, and Lord keeper to retire into Holland. As he was not efteemed equal Finch flies. to Strafford, or even to Laud, either in capacity or infidelity to his master, it was generally believed, that his escape had been connived at by the popular leaders G. His impeachment, however, in his abfence, was carried up to the house of peers.
SIR Francis Windebank, the fecretary, was a creature of Laud's; and that was fufficient reafon for his being extremely obnoxious to the commons. He was fecretly fufpected too of the crime of popery; and it was known, that, from complaifance to the queen, and indeed in compliance with the king's maxims of government, he had granted many indulgences to catholics, and had figned warrants for the pardon of priests, and their delivery from confinement. Grimstone, a popular member, called him, in the house, the very pander and broSecretary ker to the whore of Babylon H. Finding that the fcruWindetiny of the commons was pointing towards him, and being fenfible that England was no longer a place of fafety for men of his character, he fuddenly made his escape into France 1.
THUS, in a few weeks, this house of commons, not oppofed or rather feconded by the peers, had produced fuch a revolution in the government, that the two most powerful and most favoured ministers of the king were thrown into the Tower, and daily expected to be tried for their life: Two other ministers had, by flight alone, faved
G Clarendon, vol. i. p. 177.
Whitlocke, p. 38. RushH Rushworth, vol. v. p. 122. Whitlocke, p. 37.
faved themfelves from a like fate: All the king's fervants CHA P. faw evidently, that no protection could be given them by their master: A new jurisdiction was erected in the nation; and before that tribunal all those trembled, who had before exulted moft in their credit and authority.
WHAT rendered the power of the commons more formidable, was, the extreme prudence with which it was conducted. Not contented with the authority, which they had acquired by attacking these great minifters, they were refolved to render the most confiderable bodies of the nation obnoxious to them: Though the Great auidol of the people, they determined to fortify themselves thority of likewife with terrors, and to overawe those who might the comstill be inclined to support the falling ruins of monarchy. mons. DURING the late military operations, feveral powers had been exerted by the lieutenants and deputy-lieutenants of counties: And thefe powers, though neceffary for the defence of the nation, and even warranted by all former precedent, yet not being authorized by ftatute, were now voted to be illegal; and the perfons who had affumed them, declared delinquents. This term was newly come into vogue, and expreffed a degree and fpecies of guilt not exactly known nor ascertained. In confequence of that determination, many of the nobility and prime. gentry of the nation, while only exerting, as they juftly thought, the legal powers of magiftracy, unexpectedly found themselves involved in the crime of delinquency. And the commons reaped this multiplied advantage by their vote: They difarmed the crown; they established the maxims of rigid law and liberty; and they spread the terror of their own authority K.
THE writs for fhip-money had been directed to the fheriffs, who were required, and even obliged, under severe penalties, to affefs the fums upon individuals, and to levy them by their authority: Yet were all the fheriffs, and all those employed in that illegal service, voted, by a very rigorous fentence, to be delinquents. The king, by the maxim of law, could do no wrong: His minifters and fervants, of whatever degree, in cafe of any violation of the conftitution, were alone culpable L.
* Clarendon, vol. i. p. 176. L Idem ibid.
ALL the farmers and officers of the customs, who had been employed, during fo many years, in levying tonnage and poundage and the new impofitions, were likewife declared criminal, and were afterwards glad to compound for a pardon, by paying a fine of 150,000 pounds.
EVERY difcretionary or arbitrary sentence of the starchamber and high commiffion; courts, which, from their very conftitution, were arbitrary, underwent a fevere fcrutiny: And all thofe, who had concurred in such fentences, were voted to be liable to the penalties of law M. No minister of the king, no member of the council, but what found himself expofed by this determination.
THE judges, who had given their vote against Hambden in the trial of fhip money, were accufed before the peers, and obliged to find fecurity for their appearance. Berkeley, a judge of the King's Bench, was feized by order of the house, even when fitting in his tribunal; and all men faw, with aftonishment, the irresistible authority of their jurisdiction N.
THE fanction of the lords and commons, as well as that of the king, was declared neceffary for the confirmation of ecclefiaftical canons. And this judgment, it must be confeffed, however reasonable, at least useful, it would have been difficult to justify by any precedent *. But the present was no time for queftion or difpute. That decifion, which abolished all legislative power except that of parliament, was requifite for compleating the new plan of liberty, and rendering it quite uniform and fyftematical. Almost all the bench of bishops, and the most confiderable of the inferior clergy, who had voted in the late convocation, found themselves exposed, by these new principles, to the imputation of delinquency P
M Clarendon, vol. i. p. 177.
N Whitlocke, p. 39.
* An act of parliament, 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 19, allowed the convocation, with the king's confent, to make canons. By the famous act of fubmiffion to that prince, the clergy bound themselves to enact no canons without the king's confent. The parliament was never mentioned nor thought of Such pretenfions as the commons advanced at present, would, in any former age, have been deemed ftrange ufurpations. P Clarendon, vol. i. p. 206. Whitlocke, p. 37. vo!, v. p. 235, 359. Nalfon. vol. i. p. 807.
THE most unpopular of all Charles's measures, the CHA P. most impolitic, the moft oppreffive, and even, excepting fhip-money, the most illegal, was the revival of monopolies, fo folemnly abolished, after reiterated endeavours, by a recent act of parliament. Senfible of this unhappy measure, the king had, of himself, recalled, during the time of his first expedition against Scotland, many of these destructive patents; and the reft were now annulled by authority of parliament, and every one concerned in them declared delinquents. The commons carried fo far their deteftation of this odious measure, that they affumed a power which had formerly been seldom practifed*, and they expelled all their members who were monopolifts or projectors: An artifice, by which, befides encreafing their own privileges, they weakened still farther the very small party, which the king fecretly retained in the houfe; Mildmay, a notorious monopolift, having affociated himself with the ruling party, was ftill allowed to keep his feat. In all questions indeed of elections, no fteady rule of decifion was observed; and nothing farther was regarded than the affections and attachment of the parties Mens' paffions were too much heated to be shocked with any instance of injustice, which served ends fo popular as those pursued by this house of commons.
THE whole fovereign power being thus in a manner transferred to the commons, and the government, without any seeming violence or diforder, being changed, in a moment, from a monarchy almost abfolute, to a pure democracy; the popular leaders seemed willing, for fome time, to fufpend their active vigour, and to confolidate their authority, ere they proceeded to any violent exercife of it. Every day produced fome new harangue on paft grievances. The deteftation of former ufurpations, was farther enlivened: The jealousy of liberty rouzed: And, agreeable to the true spirit of free government, an equal indignation was excited, by the view of a violated conftitution, as by the ravages of the most enormous tyranny.
* Lord Clarendon fays it was entirely new; but there are fome inftances of it in the reign of Elizabeth. D'Ewes, Clarendon, vol. i. p. 176.
p. 296, 352.
THIS was the time, when genius and capacity of all LV. kinds, freed from the restraint of authority, and nou
rished by unbounded hopes and projects, began to exert 1640. themselves, and be distinguished by the public. Then was celebrated the fagacity of Pym, more fitted for use than ornament, matured, not chilled, by his advanced age and long experience: Then was difplayed the mighty ambition of Hambden, taught disguise, not moderation, from former constraint; fupported by courage, condu&ed by prudence, embellished by modefty; but whether founded in a love of power or zeal for liberty, is still, from his untimely end, left doubtful and uncertain: Then too were known the dark, ardent, and dangerous character of St. John, the impetuous fpirit of Hollis, violent and fincere, open and entire in his enmities and in his friendships; the enthufiaftic genius of young Vane, extravagant in the ends which he purfued, fagacious and profound in the means which he employed; incited by the appearances of religion, negligent of the duties of morality.
So little apology would be received for past measures, fo contagious the general spirit of difcontent, that even men of the most moderate tempers, and the most attached to the church and monarchy, exerted themselves with the utmost vigour in the redress of grievances, and in profecuting the authors of them. The lively and animated Digby displayed his eloquence on this occafion the firm and undaunted Capel, the modeft and candid Palmer. In this lift too of patriot royalifts are found the virtuous names of Hyde and Falkland. Though in their ultimate views and intentions, thefe men differed widely from the former; in their present actions and difcourfes, an entire concurrence and unanimity was obferved.
By the daily harangues and invectives against illegal ufurpations, not only the house of commons inflamed themselves with the highest animofity towards the court; The nation caught new fire from the popular leaders, and seemed now to have made the first discovery of the many diforders of the government. While the law, in many inftances, feemed to be violated, they went no farther than fome fecret and calm murmurs; but mounted up into rage and fury, as foon as the conftitution was thought to be restored to its former integrity and vigour.