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obolum Belisario, with your favour, than be ever so high with your displeasure." He concluded thus: "If I may not live to serve you, I desire I may die in your good opinion and favour *." This was the language of the man who had attempted to cut up Parliaments by the roots; and in all things substitute the will of the prince for law: Yet we are told by Whitelocke that " many were exceedingly taken by his eloquence and carriage, and that it was a sad sight to see a person of greatness, parts, and favour, appear in such a posture, before such an assembly, to plead for his life and fortunes." The articles against him were to this effect: That he had traitorously endeavoured to subvert the fundamental laws and the established constitution of England, and to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical government: That, in the accomplishment of his traitorous purposes, he had, as speaker of the House of Commons, in the third and fourth of his Majesty's reign, prevented the reading of a remonstrance relative to the safety of the king and state, and the preservation of religion, declaring that, if any offered to speak, he would immediately leave the house, which he accordingly did, —a proceeding that tended to subvert the ancient and undoubted right of parliaments: That, as one of his Majesty's council, he had endeavoured to enlarge the forests, particularly in Essex, beyond due bounds: That, when Chief Justice in 1685, he drew the questions propounded to the judges
* Cobbet's Pari. Hist. vol. ii. p. 685, et seq. Rush. vol. iv. p. 129, et seq. Whitelocke, p. 89.
regarding ship-money, and had, by undue means, obtained their signatures to an opinion previously prepared by him: That he had given his opinion against Mr. Hampden in the exchequer-chamber, and had threatened the other judges to prevail on them to concur with him: That he published, in his circuit, that the king's right to ship-money was so inherent in the Crown, that no act of the Legislature could take it away, and had threatened all who resisted the assessment: That, in his character of Chief-Justice of the common pleas, he had transacted the greater part of the business in his own chamber, and had, in his judicial capacity, committed various acts of gross corruption, of which a list was given; and that he had tried to incense the king against parliaments, and advised the declaration which was published after the dissolution of the last.—Well aware that everyone of these articles could be distinctly proved against him, Finch prudently fled; and the Commons, who deemed one or two sacrifices to justice sufficient, and properly selected the most dangerous characters, as well as the most wicked, are, with the appearance of truth, accused of having connived at his escape *. The Commons still, however, gave in their charge to the Lords, and the duty of presenting it was devolved upon Lord Falkland, who is reputed by Clarendon to have
* Clar. vol. i. p. 177. This author admits, that if an attempt to undermine the established laws were treason, Finch was notoriously guilty. 4
been one of the brightest characters in history, and who died fighting under the royal banners. He observed that the charge required no assistance from the bringer, " leaving," says he, "not so much as a colour for any defence, and including all possible evidence and all possible aggravation, that addition alone excepted, which he alone could have made, and has made, I mean his confession included in his flight. There are many mighty crimes—crimes of supererogation, so that high treason is but a part of his charge, pursuing him fervently in every several condition; being a silent speaker, an unjust judge, and an unconscionable keeper. His life appears a perpetual warfare, by mines and batteries, against our fundamental laws, which, by his own confession, several conquests had left untouched,—against the excellent constitution of this kingdom, which hath made it appear to strangers rather an idea than a real commonwealth, and produced the honour and happiness of this, as the wonder of every other nation. He practised the annihilating of ancient and notorious perambulations of the whole kingdom—the meers and boundaries between the liberties of the subject and sovereign power. He endeavoured to have all tenures durante bene placito, to bring all law from his Majesty's courts into his Majesty's breast *." This extract is illustrative of the temper of the Commons, and throws light upon the character of Falkland, who died fighting for the
• Old Pari. Hist. vol. ix. p. 139. Cobbct's Ditto, vol. ii. p. 695.
king, while it completely disproves the notion that the English were not sensible of the superior nature of their government, and that they were now merely inflamed with bigotted rage against a few unmeaning ceremonies introduced into the public worship,—a notion altogether irreconcileable, not only with the temper of this assembly, but of every parliament which had been summoned during the dynasty of the Stuarts.
Sir George Ratcliffe, the former fellow-sufferer Sir Gcorgt with Strafforde for refusing the loan, but since Emitted. his instrument and coadjutor in all arbitrary ways, was likewise charged with high treason *.
As ship-money was voted to be illegal, so gen- Proceeding! eral resolutions were passed, that the judges who judges', &t had acted in that business, together with the lieutenants, &c. of counties, should be prosecuted for their presumption, and be liable in damages to the parties injured. Against some of the judges regular impeachments were brought, both on this and other accounts; Berkley was charged with high treason and arrested on the bench: The lieutenants had only to complain that the threat of prosecution impended over them; and the proceeding has been unqualifiedly condemned—because the duty had been imposed upon them: But some of them were themselves privy counsellors, and consequently to a certain extent primarily accessory to the unlawful tax, while they ought to have resigned their places rather than comply with an
• Old Pari. Hist. vol. ix. p. 51, 153, et seq. Cobbct's do.vol. ii. •98, et seq.
VOL. III. D
unjust command against the community*. The king himself is protected bylaw as incapable of doing wrong, and unless the servant were responsible, there could be no check upon the executive, while it is evident that, without unjust ministers, the monarch's acts could scarcely be injurious. On the same principles, the farmers of the customs were ordered to be prosecuted; and they compounded for their extortions, by paying ££150,000. The various tyrannical sentences of the Star-Chamber and High-Commission courts, were resolved by the commons to be illegal; and it having been farther resolved, that reparation should be made to the sufferers out of the delinquent's estates, the cases were transmitted to the Lords, by whom the sentences were reversed f. It was likewise resolved by both houses that, the convocation has no power to make canons, or impose taxes without the intervention of the legislature, that both on that account, and from their abstract tendency, the late proceedings were against the fundamental laws of the realm; and that the members of the convocation were liable to punishment. A bill to that effect was ordered, and immediately brought into the lower house t.
• Whitelocke, p. 40. Journ. 12th February, 1641.
t Clarendon, vol. i. p. 181. Journ. of 8th and 22d December, 1640. 20th April, 1641. 20th May. Clarendon, who does justice to Bastwick's Latin style, says, that he was unknown to either university or the college of physicians; but there is an express order of the commons, 11th June, to restore him to the college of physicians. Cob. Pari. Hist. vol. ii. p. 671—700. Bush. vol. ii. p. 469.
J Joum. 16th December.