« PreviousContinue »
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 duties of tonnage and poundage f, though Charles laboured hard to obtain them; and it borrowed L.100,000 out of L.400,000, which had been voted for the relief of Ireland %. 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. Cohbett'a, vol. ii. p. 1324, ff Msj. Old Pari. Hist. vol. ix. p. 116, et seq. Journals of the Commons. May, lib. ii. p. 74, et seq. Ludlow, vol. i. p. 31, et try.
t Cobbett's Pari. Hist . vol. ii p. 1479. Husbands Col.
X Cobbett's Pari. Hist. vol. ii. p. 1443, et seq.
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 parliament: whereas both could not justly be regarded 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 surely 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 defend, 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 Pari. Hist. vol. ii. p. 1453. May, lib- "i. 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?
Commencement of the Civil War.—Slate of parties.—Battle of Edge Hill.—King's attempt on Brentford.—Negotiation at Oxford.—Landing of the Queen.—Policy of Charles in regard to Ireland and Scotland.—Actions in various Quarters.—Fall of Reading—Death of Hampden.—Battle of Stratton.—Of Lansdown—Of Roundwaydown.—Bristol taken.—Siege of Glossier.—Battle of
Newbury State of Affairs.—The Solemn League and Covenant, and arming of the Scots—Cessation with Ireland.—Death of Pym.
It may not be improper, at the commencement of state of hostilities, to take a concise view of the state ofpames" parties. Of the nobility, too many had been originally attached to the court, as the fountain of their own power, and still wished to promote its schemes: others, having been lately struck with apprehensions that the spirit which animated the Commons and the great mass of the people, was hostile to their exclusive privileges; and expecting preferment from, while they dreaded the vengeance of, the court, which they imagined would be ultimately successful, and would doubtless mark out those in highest place for the first sacrifices, had, after temporizing for a time, joined Vol. Hi. 2 A
the king. Many in the lower house, actuated by similar motives, had also deserted their duty in Parliament, and fled to the royal standard: but we have already shewn the vanity of that idea which presupposes that they wished complete success to the monarch, or were actuated by generous motives of loyalty. They still hoped for accommodation as the only resource against tyranny in the king and encroachment in the people; and the scrambling for office, and honours, &c. the heart-burnings and jealousies, together with the desertion of their royal master in his utmost need, all detailed by Clarendon*,—strip their characters of that air of romance with which certain historians have so sedulously clothed them. There were even some prudent members of the peerage, who, wisely calculating chances, arrayed one part of their sons on one side and another on the other,—the plan so generally pursued afterwards in Scotland,—that the titles and estates might be preserved in the family. But the great aristocracy, on whom the king so much relied, though they could bring their immediate dependents into the field, were in other respects rather calculated to grace the court, and by their influence in society, support it in an hour of peace, than prevail in the present conflict. The rank and title on which their claim to public respect was founded in ordinary times, naturally disposed them to confide in these advantages, instead of cultivat
* See particularly vol. iii p. 361-3. j iv. p. 554, et scq.