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HISTORY

OF THE

BRITISH EMPIRE.

BOOK VI.

FROM THE MEETING OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT TILL

ITS FIRST ADJOURNMENT.

State of the Nation, &c.—Grievances detailed in the Lower

House-Remonstrance of the Irish ParliamentImpeachment of Strafforde, Laud, Finch, 8c.-Flight of Windebanke and Finch-Attack upon the Hierarchy Triennial Bill-Trial of Strafforde-Plot to bring up the Army against the Parliament-Bil of Attainder against Strafforde, with his Execution-Act for continuing the Parliament-High Commission and Court of Star-Chamber, &c. abolished_Tonnage and Poundage -King's journey to Scotland, &c.

The calling of the last parliament, which was so State of the

nation at the prematurely terminated, had diffused general satis- meeting of faction, as the precursor of a better system ; but Parliament. wise men perceived that matters had not yet arrived at the crisis when the authority of the legislature could be effectually exerted against that horrid train of evils which the kingdom had so long

VOL. III.

groaned under ; and the people at large, though they hoped much from a constitutional assembly, had been too greatly dispirited by oppression to feel confident of its power. The influence of the crown, therefore, together with that of the great families attached to arbitrary principles, operated considerably in elections; while, of those returned as members on more independent grounds, and who had not yet enlisted under the banners of administration, there were many who were politicly inclined not to forfeit their chance of preferment from a system which they deemed it impossible to controul. On the other hand, prudence dictated to the most public-spirited the propriety of preserving a tone of moderation, in order, if possible, to reclaim the monarch, and, at all events, to avoid affording him a pretext with any considerable portion of his subjects, for hurrying matters to an extremity which, however it might end, must, in the interim, be productive of national calamities. The course of elections even then, however, so disappointed Charles and his ministers, that the Earl of Northumberland, previous to the meeting of that parliament, predicted, in a private letter to the Earl of Leicester, that it would be short-lived, as unfit for the purposes of the executive *. But all saw

* Sidney, State Papers, vol. ii. p. 641. He writes, 19th March, 1639-40. “ The elections that are generally made of knights and burgesses in this kingdome, giues us cause to feare that the parliament will not sitt long; for such as haue dependance upon the court, are in diuers places refused ; and the most refrectorie persons chosen.” Does not this prove that Sir H. Vane and Herbert were not singular in their opinion of that parliament ?

now, that, from the necessities of the prince, this parliament could not be ignominiously dissolved like the four preceding ; and proportionally strong was their confidence in having at length found a remedy for all their grievances. The influence of the executive in elections was therefore vastly diminished *. The selfishly cautious laid aside their interested prudence with the change of times; and the patriotic struck up upon a bolder key :

There was even another class who, though they had formerly truckled to power, now manfully declaimed against the infringements of public rights. Of the last, the most conspicuous was Mr. Hyde, afterwards the famous Lord Clarendon, who does not scruple to inform us, in his history of his own life, that during the discontinuance of parliaments, he had so gained the patronage of Laud and other ministers, that their countenance procured him high respect from the judges in the courts at Westminster-a circumstance which, having been gen. erally remarked, brought him great professional practice f. This noble historian endeavours, in the course of his work, to depreciate certain lawyers who rose to eminence during the ensuing civil broils, by alleging that they had been previously little heard of in the profession; but the manner in which he accounts for his own success, defeats the effects of his remarks upon others in the same

* Hardwieke's State Papers, vol. i. p. 190. Clarendon's State Papers, vol. ii. p. 131. as to the interference of government. The course of the elections is complained of in the Eikon. Whitelocke, p. 37.

+ Clarendon's Life, vol. i. p. 31. 60-1.

BRITISH

groaned under ; and the people at large, though they hoped much from a constitutional assembly, had been too greatly dispirited by oppression to feel confident of its power. The influence of the crown, therefore, together with that of the great families attached to arbitrary principles, operated considerably in elections; while, of those returned as members on more independent grounds, and who had not yet enlisted under the banners of administration, there were many who were politicly inclined not to forfeit their chance of preferment from a system which they deemed it impossible to controul. On the other hand, prudence dictated to the most public-spirited the propriety of preserving a tone of moderation, in order, if possible, to reclaim the monarch, and, at all events, to avoid affording him a pretext with any considerable portion of his subjects, for hurrying matters to an extremity which, however it might end, must, in the intérim, be productive of national calamities. The course of elections even then, however, so disappointed Charles and his ministers, that the Earl of Northumberland, previous to the meeting of that parliament, predicted, in a private letter to the Earl of Leicester, that it would be short-lived, as unfit for the purposes of the executive *. But all saw

* Sidney, State Papers, vol. ii. p. 641. He writes, 19th March, 1639-40. “ The elections that are generally made of knights and burgesses in this kingdome, giues us cause to feare that the parliament will not sitt long; for such as haue dependance upon the court, are in diuers places refused ; and the most refrectorie persons chosen.” Does not this prove that Sir H. Vane and Herbert were not singular in their opinion of that parliament ?

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