« PreviousContinue »
the whole nation, then surely we may look on them who, notwithstanding, shall persist to give to bare words more credit than to open deeds, as men whose judgment was not rationally evinced and persuaded, but fatally stupified and bewitched into such a blind and obstinate belief: for whose cure it may be doubted, not whether any charm, though never so wisely murmured, but whether any prayer can be available.
This however would be remembered and well noted, that while the king, instead of that repentance which was in reason and in conscience to be cxpected from him, without which we could not lawfully readmit him, persists here to maintain and justify the most apparent of his evil doings, and washes over with a court-fucus the worst and foulest of his actions, disables and uncreates the parliament itself, with all our laws and native liberties that ask not his leave, dishonours and attaints all protestant churches not prelatical* and what they piously reformed, with the slander of rebellion, sacrilege, and hypocrisy; they, who seemed of late to stand up hottest for the covenant, can now sit mute and much pleased to hear all these opprobrious things uttered against their faith, their freedon, and themselves in their own doings made traitors to boot. The divines, also, their wizards, can be so brazen as to cry Hosanna to this his book, which cries louder against them for no disciples of Christ, but of Iscariot; and to seem now convinced with these withered arguments and reasons here, the same which in some other writings of that party, and in his own former declarations and expresses, they have so often heretofore endeavoured to confute and to explode; none appearing all this while to vindicate church or state from these calumnies and reproaches but a small handful of men, whom they defame and spit at with all the odious names of schism and sectarism. I never knew that time in England, when men of truest religion were not counted sectaries :ť but wisdom now, valour, justice, constancy, prudence united and embodied
* Warburton, himself a bishop, speaks with contempt of Charles I.'s superstitious reverence for episcopacy, which Hooker, as he observes, had forty years before proved to be of human origin, and which Charles I. ought to have abandoned, in compliance with the wishes of the people.—ED.
† Wickliffe was a sectarian; the Reformers, when they appeared, were all sectarians ; Milton, Newton, Locke, were the same ; so were Owen, Baxter, Leighton, &c., and some of the noblest ornaments of Christianity, in all ages, have been insulted with this name.-ED.
to defend religion and our liberties, both by word and deed, against tyranny, is counted schism and faction.
Thus in a graceless age things of highest praise and imitation under a right name, to make them infamous and hateful to the people, are miscalled. Certainly, if ignorance and perverseness will needs be national and universal, then they who adhere to wisdom and to truth, are not therefore to be blamed, for being so few as to seem a sect or faction. But in my opinion it goes not ill with that people where these virtues grow so numerous and well joined together, as to resist and make head against the rage and torrent of that boisterous folly and superstition, that possesses and hurries on the vulgar sort. This therefore we may conclude to be a high honour done us from God, and a special mark of his favour, whom he hath selected as the sole remainder, after all these changes and commotions, to stand upright and steadfast in his cause; dignified with the defence of truth and public liberty; while others, who aspired to be the top of zealots, and had almost brought religion to a kind of trading monopoly, have not only by their late silence and neutrality belied their profession, but foundered themselves and their consciences, to comply with enemies in that wicked cause and interest, which they have too often cursed in others, to prosper now in the same themselves.
CHAPTER I. Upon the King's calling this last Parliament. That which the king lays down here as his first foundation, and as it were the head-stone of his whole structure, that “he called this parliament, not more by others' advice, and the necessity of his affairs, than by his own choice and inclination," is to all knowing men so apparently not true,* that a more unlucky and inauspicious sentence, and more betokening the downfall of his whole fabric, hardly could have come into his mind. For who knows not, that the inclination of a prince is best known either by those next about him, and most in favour with him, or by the current of his own actions ? Those
* The falsehood and hypocrisy of this assertion is made abundantly apparent by Clarendon.-See note p. 311.-Ed.
nearest to this king, and most his favourites, were courtiers and prelates ; men whose chief study was to find out which way the king inclined, and to imitate him exactly : how these
! men stood affected to parliaments cannot be forgotten. No man but may remember, it was their continual exercise to dispute and preach against them; and in their common discourse nothing was more frequent, than that “they hoped the king should now have no need of parliaments any more.” And this was but the copy which his parasites had industriously taken from his own words and actions, who never called a parliament but to supply his necessities; and having supplied those, as suddenly and ignominiously dissolved it, without redressing any one grievance of the people: * sometimes choosing rather to miss of his subsidies, or to raise them by illegal courses, than that the people should not still miss of their hopes to be relieved by parliaments.
The first he broke off at his coming to the crown, for no other cause than to protect the Duke of Buckingham + against them who had accused him, besides other heinous crimes, of no less than poisoning the deceased king, his father; concerning which declaration of “ No more addresses” hath
* The house of commons, even so early as 1625, resolved, after voting some slignt supplies, that they would grant no more, until certain grievances should have been redressed ; upon which Charles, August 12th, haughtily dissolved it. Money being still wanting, it was determined to raise it by forced loans; and orders were immediately issued for the purpose, with further directions that the names of all who were backward, or who refused to lend, should be transmitted to the court. In six months another parliament was assembled, (Feb. 6th, 1626,) which commenced operations with the impeachment of the Duke of Buckingham, whom Warburton describes as “ the most debauched, the most unable, and the most tyrannical (minister) that ever was.” (Clarendon's History, t. vii. p. 513.) This parliament was again dissolved; (June 15th, 1626 ;) and another (17th of March, 1628) assembled, to which, at its opening, the king addressed a most haughty and menacing speech. It was prorogued ; (June 26th, 1628 ;) and it again assembled, (January 20th, 1629,) when Oliver Cromwell made his maiden speech, which is very ludicrously described by Guizot, (Histoire, &c. i. 55.) After a violent struggle between the house of commons and the court, this parliament also was dissolved. (March 10th, 1629.) Such was the fickleness of Charles I., who knew not how to govern the country with or without parliaments.—ED.
+ Clarendon was too much a courtier to speak boldly or honestly of Buckingham. His laboured character, (vol. i. p. 55–79,) however, contains admissions sufficient to enable a judicious reader to see further than the historian, perhaps, intended into his temper and principles.-ED.
sufficiently informed us. And still the latter breaking was
with more affront and indignity put upon the house and her I worthiest members, than the former. Insomuch that in the fifth
year of his reign, in a proclamation, he seems offended at the very rumour of a parliament divulged among the people; as if he had taken it for a kind of slander, that men should think him that way exorable, much less inclined: and forbids it as a presumption, to prescribe him any time for parliaments; that is to say, either by persuasion or petition, or so much as the reporting of such a rumour: for other manner of prescribing was at that time not suspected. By which fierce edict, the people, forbidden to complain, as well as forced to
suffer, began from thenceforth to despair of parliaments. 1 Whereupon such illegal actions, and especially to get vast sums of
money, were put in practice by the king and his new officers, as monopolies, compulsive knighthoods, coat, conduct, and ship-money,* the seizing not of one Naboth's vineyard, but of whole inheritances, under the pretence of forest or
crown-lands; corruption and bribery compounded for, with I
impunities granted for the future, as gave evident proof, that the king never meant, nor could it stand with the reason of his affairs, ever to recal parliaments : having brought by these irregular courses the people's interest and his own to so direct an opposition, that he might foresee plainly, if nothing but a parliament could save the people, it must necessarily be his undoing
Till eight or nine years after, proceeding with a high hand * Even Clarendon, whose work is rather an apology for Charles I. than a history, relates with disapprobation these flagrant invasions of the people's rights. “ Supplemental acts of state,” as he curiously phrases it, made to supply defect of laws; and so tonnage, and poundage, and other duties upon merchandises, were collected by order of the board, which had been positively refused to be settled by act of parliament, and new and greater impositions laid upon trade ; obsolete laws were revived, and rigorously executed, wherein the subject might be taught how unthrifty a thing it was, by a toa strict detaining of what was his, to put the king as strictly to inquire what was his own. By this ill husbandry, the king received a vast sum of money from all persons of quality, or indeed of any reasonable condition, throughout the kingdom, upon the law of knighthood; which, though it had a foundation in right, yet, in the circumstances of proceeding, was very grievous. And no less unjust projects of all kinds, many ridiculous, many scandalous, all very grievous, were set on foot; the envy and reproach of which came to the king, the profit to other men.” (History, &c. i. 119, 120.)ED.
in these enormitics, and having the second time levied an injurious war against his native country, Scotland; and finding all those other shifts of raising money, which bore out his first expedition, now to fail him, not " of his own choice and inclination," as any child may see, but urged by strong necessities, and the very pangs of state, which his own violent
proceedings had brought him to, he calls a parliament; first in Ireland, which only was to give him four subsidies, and so to expire; then in England, where his first demand was but twelve subsidies, to maintain a Scots war, condemned and abominated by the whole kingdom :* promising their grievances should be considered afterwards. Which when the parliament, who judged that war itself one of their main grievances, made no haste to grant, not enduring the delay of his impatient will, or else fearing the conditions of their grant, he breaks off the whole session, and dismisses them and their grievances with scorn and frustration.
Much less therefore did he call this last parliament by his own choice and inclination ; but having first tried in vain all undųe ways to procure money, his army of their own accord being beaten in the north, the lords petitioning, and the general voice of the people almost hissing him and his ill-acted regality off the stage, compelled at length both by his wants and by his fears, upon mere extremity he summoned this last parliament. And how is it possible, that he should willingly incline to parliaments, who never was perceived to call them but for the greedy hope of a whole national bribe, his subsidies; and never loved, never fulfilled, never promoted the true end of parliaments, the redress of grievances; but still put them off, and prolonged them, whether gratified or not gratified; and was indeed the author of all those grievances ? To say, therefore, that he called this parliament of his own choice and inclination, argues how little truth we can expect
* Warburton, in his shrewd and interesting notes on Clarendon, (vol. vii. p. 523,) observes, on the following words of the historian,—“ there was alinost a general dislike to the wars, both by the lords of the court and of the country.” &c.—" that is, almost all the nobility of England, (Laud and Strafford, and their creatures, being absent,) had a dislike of this war. What possibly could occasion so general a dislike, when the Scottish nation was as generally hated, but their belief that the king intended to govern arbitrarily; and nothing could so facilitate that project as his conquest of Scoiland. Hence their dislike of this expedition.”-ED.