« PreviousContinue »
the king were irreconcileable, and they zealously co-operated with the parliament *
Before actually resorting to arms, the parliament, as a last effort to accommodate matters without the effusion of human blood in an unnatural quarrel, sent nineteen propositions to the king, which were of the same nature with what had been resolved upon while Charles was in Scotland, if not even prior to that period, and which were si. milar to the regulations in the sister kingdom.
They were to this purpose: That the privy council. lors, and the great officers of state, should only be appointed with the approbation of both houses, and that the councillors, and also the judges, should take an oath, (such as should be devised by both houses,) for the due execution of their offices, and be responsible to parliament: That the privy coun. cil should not exceed twenty-five, nor be under fifteen, and that every act passed by them should be agreed to by the majority: That if any places in the council should become vacant during the intervals of parliament, they should be supplied by the approbation of the majority of that body, and the choice afterwards be submitted to the parliament: That all matters proper for the cognizance of both houses should be debated there only : That the high offices of constable, treasurer, privy seal, marshall, admiral, warden of the cinque ports,
Even some popish lords were alarmed for the general franchises, and only supported Charles upon a solemn assurance that he would not violate them. Clar. Papers, vol. ii. p. 147.
* This abundantly appears from various authorities.
chief governor of Ireland, chancellor of the exchequer, master of the wards, the secretaries of state, the two chief justices, and the chief-baron, should always be chosen with the approbation of both houses, or, in the interval of parliament, by the council, in the same manner as privy council. lors, and that the patents to the judges should be quamdiu se bene gesserint: That no marriage should be contracted by any of the royal family without the consent of parliament, and that their governors should be appointed with the approbation of both houses : That such a reformation of the ecclesiastical government as both houses recommend. ed should be adopted: That the forts and the mic litia should be under the command and custody of persons approved of by both houses : That the peers who should be created afterwards should not be admitted to vote in parliament without the approbation of both houses : That a bill should be passed to clear Lord Kimbolton and the others : That delinquents should be given up to justice, &c.
“ Should I grant these demands," said the king, “ I may be waited on bareheaded ; I may have my hand kissed; the title of majesty may be continued to me; and the king's authority signified by both houses, may still be the style of your commands; I may have swords and maces carried before me, and please myself with the sight of a crown and a sceptre, (though even these would not long flourish where the stock upon which they grew was dead.) But as to true and real power, I should remain but the outside, but the picture,
but the sign of a king.” Yet he for long after professed his abhorrence of reducing his people by force *
The parliament, to raise money, issued orders for loans, by contributing plate, &c. ; and the citizens of London, and the females, exemplified their zeal by bringing even their trinkets into the common stock. Charles was also liberally supplied by his adherents; and he afforded an invincible proof of his feelings in regard to Ireland, and of the wisdom of parliament in not trusting him, by seizing for his own use, against the people of England, the military stores, &c. provided for that devoted country. The parliament also, by ordinance, appropriated the du. ties of tonnage and poundage t, though Charles laboured hard to obtain them; and it borrowed L.100,000 out of L.400,000, which had been vot. ed for the relief of Ireland F. The last provoked the bitterest invectives from the royalist party, as if the parliament, in the prosecution of its own ambitious schemes, acted not only with indifference, but with the grossest injustice, nay even perfidy, towards that unhappy island ; and certain historians have likewise condemned it as at least equally indefensible with the conduct of the king in seizing upon the horses, waggons, &c. which
* Rush. vol. iv. p. 722, et seq. Cobbett's, vol. 7. p. 1324, et seg. Old Parl. Hist. vol. ix. p. 116, et seq. Journals of the Commons. May, lib. ii. p. 74, et seq. Ludlow, vol. i. p. 31, et seq. of Cobbett's Parl. Hist. vol. ii, p. 1479. Husband's Col.
Cobbett's Parl. Hist. vol. ii. p. 1443, et seg. .
had been provided for that country. But the idea proceeds upon the erroneous assumption that this was merely a struggle for power between Charles Stuart and a set of men called the par: liament: whereas both could not justly be regard. ed in any other light than as trustees for the public. If the parliament betrayed its trust, the king was certainly called upon as a joint trustee to interpose for the public good; and if this could be established to have been the part he performed, his seizure of the horses, &c. provided for Ireland, must be pronounced laudable, since sure. ly the people of England could never intend to serve the sister isle at the expense of their own ruin. . But if, on the other hand, the parliament, in this struggle, discharged its duty to its constituents, in defeating the designs of the sovereign to overturn their laws and liberties, then it cannot be considered as distinct from the community which it represented; and as the nation's first object must have been the preservation of the general rights and safety against a prince who availed himself of the limited authority entrusted to him, to subvert all that he was appointed to de. fend, parliament was imperiously called upon as trustee for the public, to employ the people's own money in the people's own defence *.
* Rush. vol. iv. p. 743.; v, p. 13, 14. Whitelocke, p. 61. May, lib. ii. p. 65, 66. Parliamentary Histories. Oliver Cromwell performed a notable service, by preventing the university of Oxford from sending their plate to the king. Cobbett's Parl. Hist. vol. ii. p. 1453. May, lib. iii. p. 74. I persuade myself that no man
will now seriously dispute that Charles drove the people into a war by invading their liberties, and determining on hostilities or force upon both houses, and therefore that all Mr. Hume's statements, in which he ascribes the whole to fanaticism, are utterly absurd. I am sorry to add, that they are altogether uncandid ; and as to what he says about “ the danger not being of that kind, great, urgent, inevitable, which dissolves all law, and levels all limitations,” &c. I do not understand it. The question was, whether the English people were for ever to renounce their civil and religious liberty, and sink into the same deplorable condition with the other great European monarchies? and though Mr. Hume might see in that nothing worth a struggle, I trust there are not many of his opinion. It is strange too to argue that the king's power was so much diminished as to be no longer a cause of fear, when Charles had actually resolved on war. This is much of the same species of argument with that in favour of James, when he says that that monarch must have succeeded to the same plenitude of power which he assumed, because he arrogated it ; and also of Charles in regard to the German horse, while he is forced to acknowledge that that prince did then usurp arbitrary power without its assistance. But would not the argument apply with greater force to the sons of that king ?