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despite of experience, the king continued obstinately blind in regard to the posture of affairs, his minister had discernment to perceive that the royal power which had raised him, and countenanced him in injustice, was unable to protect him in the hour of retribution.
The king, who depended much upon the dexte- Parliament rity of the speaker of the lower house for managing ^"nov. the Commons, had predetermined to have Sir Tho- Y£?thtu mas Gardner, recorder of London, appointed to chosen that situation; but, notwithstanding all the efforts thTcom°f of government, the people, who knew the character mons' of the man, (he was afterwards impeached for recommending ship-money,) declined to return him as one of their representatives *; and Mr. Lentget it adjourned for two or three days, because that the third of November was an ominous day; the Parliament called on that day, 20 H. VIII. beginning with the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, and ending in the dissolution of Abbeys; but the archbishop took little heed of any such things." But Laud does not allude to the caution in his diary, while he faithfully records other omens which alarmed him. On January 24th, 1640, his father appeared in a dream, and asked, What he did there? Laud, after some speech, inquired, how long he would stay. "He answered," (we give Laud's own words) " he would stay till he had me away with him. I am not moved with dreams; yet I thought fit to remember this." On October 27th, he found, on entering his study, that his picture, which was hung there, had fallen upon its face, on the floor. "I am almost every day threatened with my ruin in Parliament," says he, "God grant this be no omen."
* Clarendon's Hist. vol. i. p. 170. Of course, this writer attributes his non-election to the strength of the faction; yet himself joined the faction at the outset. No character has been more misconceived than Clarendon's. Burnet, who liked him for his bigoted attachment to episcopacy, says, that when, on the restoration, the tide of loyalty would have made the monarch independent of parliamentary supplies, Clarendon would not avail himself of it, and thus laid the foundation of his own ruin. But whatever apology Burnet might have for this hall, a bencher of Lincoln's Inn, and a lawyer of great practice, was nominated by the commons at the desire of the crown. It was not without difficulty that he accepted of the office. Grievances The commons assembled in great numbers, and P»m and the court-party soon discovered that, as the naothera' tional grievances had been aggravated by the dissolution of the late parliament and the subsequent proceedings, so the popular spirit assumed a far more decided tone. Committees for grievances were nominated, and the deplorable state of the kingdom was depicted by Pym, followed by many others, in a style as just as pathetic; and, since we have just adverted to Mr. Hume's statements, we may here remark, that it'is inconceivable how, with these speeches before him, in which the various forms assumed by arbitrary power against all law and the rights of person and property, are detailed in language, which, while it does credit to the speakers, appals the reader, he should have ascribed the fervour which pervaded all classes against such multiform abuses, solely to disgust at a few trifling ceremonies. The court faction, who could not deny the extent of the evil, did not even attempt to oppose the general complaint; and Charles, after having dissolved the last parliament like the three preceding, because it preferred the consideration of grievances to his demand for im
statement in the reports of the times, (and he candidly tells us that he had no other authority,) subsequent historians have none. For the publication of Clarendon's life, written by himself, completely disproves it.
mediate supply, discovered now the truth which had been predicted; that the next would take up the ground of its predecessor, and with a bolder spirit. Such, indeed, was the unanimity of the house, that as every abuse was proposed for censure, it was immediately voted to be a grievance, without a dissenting voice *.
Amongst the first acts of the commons, was one An order of
_ .- . . , .... . „ the com
ot strict justice—that ot issuing an order tor themonsfor appearance of Prynn, Bastwick, and Burton, who ^"o?*"" after losing their ears, and suffering other detest- l^twick able punishments, were sent to languish out their«nd Burtonexistence in solitary confinement, each transported to a separate island; while the access of friends and kindred was strictly interdicted, and themselves denied the use of books, pen, ink, and paper. Laud, with his coadjutors, had thence fondly flattered himself, that the voice of these wretched victims of oppression would never molest him more; and that, at all events, his own elevation was too strongly fenced with power ever to dread that retributive justice which ought to have alarmed his conscience. But he was miserably mistaken; Prynn survived to pursue him to the scaffold.—By thus sending for those individuals, the commons did not reverse their sentences. These did not warrant their being sent out of England; and therefore the lower house merely took under its protection men whose inhuman
* Whitelocke, p. 38. Clar. p. 171. Cobbet's Pari. Hist. vol. ii. p. 630, etseq. Old Do. vol. ix. p. 17, et seq. Rush. vol. iii. p. 1364. See p. 1336, et seq. vol. iii. p. 1, et seq.
VOL. III. C
punishment there was not even the pretext of a judgment to authorize. It was so contrived that Prynn and Burton landed at one point at the same time; and they were conducted to the metropolis by an immense crowd in military triumph *. Aresoiu- As monopolists so grossly infringed the law, moDo^-^'they were, as unworthy of legislating for a people whose rights they had violated, banished the house, to which they had been elected by court-influence; and new writs were issued for fresh elections f.
Great occasions, as we have frequently remarked, call forth talent to meet them; and when the cause of liberty flourishes, it never wants advocates. Virtuous men may deplore the evil of the times; but they would cease to deserve the character of virtuous, did they encourage resistance to arbitrary power without a prospect of success. When a favourable juncture occurs, however, then they nobly exert themselves in the public cause: Then the wavering are confirmed, and even the former tools of injustice unblushingly pretend to patriotism. The present crisis was one which demanded the exertion of all the human powers; the house of commons afforded a field for the successful development of profound knowledge and solid judgment, conveyed in a stream of masculine eloquence; and the characters unfolded would not suffer by a comparison with the worthies of any
* Old Par. Hist . vol. ix. p. 34. Clar. vol. i. p. 199. Whitelocke, p. 39. Baillie, vol. i. p. 222. There were upwards of 100 coaches The prelates were exceedingly galled by this triumph, lb. Mr. Hume does not do himself justice in his remarks upon this case.
t Cobbet's Parliament. History, vol, ii. p. 651. Whitelocke, p. 38. age or nation. The individual to whom all menCharactcr
. of Hamp
looked as the prime leader in the present perilous den.
* There is great ability, and, considering that the author was not only a keen partisan, but undertook his history for the king's vindication, even impartiality, in Clarendon's character of Hampden, vol. i. p. 185. vol. ii. p. 265. As might be expected, the author imputes bad motives, but he does full justice to his many great and estimable qualities; and it would have been well had Mr. Hume studied it..