Obrazy na stronie

and such members as had given offence are imprisoned and fined. After this the king governed twelve years without a parliament: in which interval the bulwark of the national liberties, the power of raising money, is not only assumed and vigorously exercised by the crown, but methods used to that end are pronounced legal by the judges, and preached as obligatory to the subjects conscience by some of the clergy. During these incroachments upon the rights of the people, and the king's tacit renunciation of the constitution by the disuse of parliaments, jealousy and discontent spread themselves in the nation, and all true lovers of their country earnestly longed for an opportunity to rescue the constitution from entire destruction."-Tindal's Cont. Int. p. 3, 4.

"From the manner in which the king governed for fifteen years, one cannot but be convinced that he intended to alter the government, and procure for himself and successors a power much more extensive than what was allowed him by the laws, and to which none of his predecessors, except Richard II. had ever pretended. I except not even Henry VIII. the most absolute of all the kings of England since William the Conquerer. But there was this difference betwixt Henry VIII. and Charles I. Henry did whatever he pleased by way of parliament; whereas Charles pretended to rule without parliaments, looking on them as little necessary to the constitution of the government."-Rap. Vol. xI. p. 112.

His privy-council set up by degress for an absolute court, which did not look upon itself as obliged to be subject to the laws. The star-chamber was another court, the most rigorous that ever was, the severity whereof fell chiefly upon those who pretended to dispute the prerogative-royal. The high-commission was perfectly of a piece with

the other two; and under a colour of putting a stop to schism, oppressed, as puritans, those who refused to submit to a despotic power."-Rap. Vol. x. p. 247.

And here one cannot but observe with Lord Clarendon, "that a man shall not unprofitably spend his contemplation who considers, on this occasion, the method of God's justice; a method terribly remarkable in many passages, that the same principles and the same application of those principles, should be used to the wresting all sovereign power from the crown, which the crown had a little before made use of for the extending its authority and power beyond its bounds, to the prejudice of the just rights of the subject."Clarend. Vol. 11. p. 542.


The Confusion and Civil War proceeded not from any Religious Sect or Party amongst the People; but solely from the Oppressions and Tyranny of the Court.

"NO man, says Lord Clarendon, can shew me a source from whence these waters of bitterness more probably flowed, than from the unreasonable, unskilful, and precipitate dissolution of parliaments, especially as the king had publicly declared, That he would account it presumption for any man to prescribe any time to his majesty for parliaments-which words were generally interpreted as if no more assemblies of that nature were

to be expected; and that all men were prohibited, upon penalty of censure, so much as to speak of a parliament. The king had always the disadvantage (the great weakness) to harbour persons about him, who with their utmost industry, false information, and malice, improved the faults and infirmities of the court people; and again, as much as in them lay, rendered the people suspected, if not odious to the king."-Clarend. V. 1. p. 4. Welwood, speaking of the king's ministers, says, Some of them drove so fast, that it was no wonder the wheels and chariot broke, and it was in great part to the indiscreet zeal of a mitred head (Bishop Laud) that had got an ascendant over his master's conscience and councils, that both the monarchy and hierarchy owed afterwards their fall."-Welw. Mem. p. 35.

"All those who were not submissive enough to the king were looked upon as puritans, and frequently oppressed as such. So by a fatal policy, men well affected to the church of England, but enemies to arbitrary power, were driven, in spite of themselves, to side with the puritans, in order to strengthen their party, and enable them to oppose the designs of the court."-Rapin, Vol. x. P. 258.

The parliament which opposed and levied war against the king, consisted chiefly, almost entirely, of persons who were members of the church of England, and well affected to it. "They were men attached to the constitution, as well in church as state, and enemies only to the abuse of power in both.-The subversion therefore of the civil and ecclesiastical constitution which afterwards happened, was not owing to any settled design at first, but to certain accidents and conjunctures not to be foreseen by the most acute understanding."-Tindal's Cont. p. 5.

"In the house of commons, says Lord Clarendon, were many persons of wisdom and gravity, who being possessed of great and plentiful fortunes, though they were undevoted enough to the court, had all imaginable duty to the king, and affection to the government established by law; and without doubt the MAJOR PART of that body consisted of men who had no mind to break the peace of the kingdom, or to make any considerable alteration in the government of church or state." -Clarend. Vol. 1. p. 184.

Yea, his lordship acknowledges," that as to the church the major part even of those persons (i. e. of the anti-courtiers and leaders of the house of commons, viz. Bedford, Say, Pym, Hollis, St. John &c.) would have been willing to have satisfied the king: the rather because they had no reason to think the two houses, or indeed either of them, would have been induced to have pursued the contrary."-Ibid. p. 212.-" In the house of commons, though of the chief leaders, Nath. Fiennes and young Sir Harry Vane, and shortly after Mr. Hampden, (who had not before owned it) were believed to be for root and branch : yet Mr. Pym was not of that mind, nor Mr. Hollis, nor any of the northern men, or those lawyers who drove on most furiously with them; all who were pleased with the government itself of the church."-Ibid. p. 233. So then, the most FURIOUS DRIVERS in the parliament were men well attached to the church.

Yea, "The committee sent to the parliament with their answer to the king at York, concerning Sir John Hotham's refusing him entrance into Hull, and who were ordered to attend his majesty there (as a kind of spies upon him) viz. Lord Howard of Escrigg, Lord Fairfax, Sir Hugh Cholmly, Sir Philip Stapleton, and Sir Harry

Cholmly, were all reputed moderate men, and had not been thought disaffected to the government in church or state."-Clarend. Vol. II. p. 515, 518.-His lordship further assures us, "There was throughout the whole kingdom a love of the established government in church and state, especially of that part of the church which concerned the liturgy or Book of Common Prayer, which was a most general object of veneration with the people."-Clarend. Vol. 111. p. 128.

"Accordingly, the commons seventeen days after their first meeting made an ORDER, That none should sit in their house, but such as would receive the communion according to the usage of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND."--Tind. Cont. Int. p. 5.— As for the peers, Lord Clarendon observes, "that when the bill for taking away the votes of the bishops in parliament was brought into the house, there were only two lords (Say and Brook) that appeared as enemies to the whole fabrick of the church, or to desire a dissolution of the episcopal government. He also describes the principal members of the house of commons to be well affected, or at least not averse, to the government of the church, as Pym, Hollis, Whitelock, Selden, &c. It seems therefore unjust to charge in general the members of this parliament with having, from the beginning, designs of subverting the constitution, or to blame their opposition to the proceedings of the court, since frequency of parliaments, redress of grievances, and calling the king's arbitrary ministers to acount, were the ends proposed by the major part of both houses, without the least thought of destroying the civil or ecclesiastical government."-Clarend. Vol. 1. p. 233.

The Duke of Newcastle, the king's general in the north, in his declaration, affirms, "That the

« PoprzedniaDalej »