« PreviousContinue »
from the idea he entertained of a destructive dissension in the parliament, that would restore him fully to his former power. As, therefore, there was a third important point, the breaking off of the Irish cessation, and continuing the war, he strained every nerve to conclude a peace with the insurgents, on condition of their engaging to send him large supplies of men to subdue the people of England. He therefore, in his letters, urges the Marquis of Ormonde to make use of the negociation as an argument to induce the Irish to agree to his terms, which were fully as liberal as he durst grant at present—a rescinding of Poining's act, by which the dependency of that kingdom upon the parliament was secured— the full toleration of their religion, &c.—to which he added a promise of recalling all the penal statutes when his affairs in England were settled. But, knowing well that Ormonde was not disposed to go the lengths he desired, he granted a commission to Lord Herbert, afterwards Earl of Glamorgan, to go much farther, and, in short, purchase the assistance of that people at almost any price. The success of Montrose inspired him with great hopes from that quarter; and the queen, who had a second time gone abroad to obtain supplies, and was dreadfully alarmed at the treaty, lest her husband should recede from his former grounds, particularly in regard to the militia, declaring that she would not live in England were it renounced, and alleging that she absolutely requir
ed a guard for her own safety,—assured him of a promise from the Duke of Lorrain, to transport ten thousand men into England. Charles, in his answers, comforts her with professions of steadiness, and urges, that as he saw no prospect of peace, she should hasten the transporting of Lorrain's troops by Dutch shipping. With such hopes from Ireland, Scotland, and the Continent, accompanied with a perfect conviction, that whatever happened, his person and regal dignity would be safe, it could not be expected that he would make any concession which could afford a rational prospect of security*.
The first point seriously debated, regarded the militia; and on this it was very improbable that any agreement should ever be made. The parliament proceeded on the principle that by conceding that point, it had no longer security for the salutary laws which had been provided during this parliament, or even for the personal safety of the members; andWhitelocke even combated Hyde upon the constitutional principle, that the sword was by law vested in the monarch, maintaining that the law had not determined where it was lodged; but that it depended equally on both king and parliament. Matters, it must be confessed, had, independently of the present struggle, which superseded ordinary rules, arrived at a new era.
* Rush. vol. v. p. 978, et seq. Carte's Letters, vol. i. p. 80, 81. Append. to his Life of Ormonde, p. 5, et seq. 3d vol. p. 372. 387. Clar. State Papers, vol. ii. p. 186. Birch's Enquiry.
In former times, a standing army was unknown: The soldiers were the people that were bound to military service; and as it was unlikely that these should turn their swords against their own bosoms, the nomination of officers was safely entrusted to the prince, who acted as their leader. But now that he might embody dissolute troops, which depended on their pay for subsistence, and appoint officers fit for any wickedness, the consequences might be deplorable. This, however, Charles had not left as a speculative danger: His government had brought it home to the breasts of his subjects in characters of blood; and, after such a terrible lesson, the restoring of that power would have implied the most monstrous disregard of all sound policy. It was vain to argue about the legal right. The regal power is entrusted for the general good; and when a monarch violates the fundamental principles of that constitution which he is appointed and sworn to maintain, he necessarily incurs a forfeiture of his right, since he has himself destroyed the very ground on which it was founded.
On the king's side an apparent compromise, that the power of the militia should be vested for three years, in twenty commissioners, one half of his nomination, the other of the parliament's, and, after that, return to him, was proposed; but it was evidently meant as a deception, such as could not escape the discernment of any ordinary judgment. The commissioners which must have been nominated under this arrangement by the king, would naturally labour to appoint officers agreeable to him; and as the power of the sword returned in three years to the king, every commander who expected promotion, or wished to continue in a military capacity, would despise the parliamentary commissioners, and sedulously promote his majesty's service. But the ten parliamentary commissioners might also be seduced, particularly as the royal vengeance might soon overtake an inflexible adherence to principle; while, should their integrity be unshaken, and a difference arise between them and those for the king, who was to be umpire between them? If the parliament were dissolved, and in his letters to the queen during the treaty, he declares that he would not forget to put a short period to it, the question is easily answered. If it continued, here was a field for fresh contention, and the king, in all probability, would by secret practices accomplish his object. The army would thus be at his devotion; the policy from which he had been partly obliged to recede would be resumed; the bulwarks of liberty, according even to the designs imputed to him by Clarendon, would be overthrown *; and
• If Charles, as Clarendon admits, passed acts before the commencement of the war, merely because he thought that he had, in the alleged want of freedom in the houses, a pretext for holding them as having been null and void from the beginning, tnulto magis had he such a plea, when calling the two houses a parliament, was not acknowledging them. If they were not a parliament they had no power to treat; ergo, an agreement with them being a transaction with usurpers, who had no authority to act, was null. Such, we may safely infer from the one case, would have been his logic in the other.
then the popular leaders would be exposed defenceless victims of arbitrary power. In his past conduct men had an earnest of the future. On the other hand, the parliament proposed that the militia should be conceded to it, and vested in commissioners either for three years after the firm establishment of peace, or for seven years certain from the date of the agreement, and then be settled by bill. This was, of course, refused by the king.
In regard to religion, the parliament insisted that the Solemn League and Covenant should be taken throughout the kingdom, and even by Charles himself; that the bill for the utter abolition of episcopacy, deans, and chapters, should be passed by him, and the lands sequestrated for other uses; that the directory of worship which had been recommended by the assembly of divines, and approved of by both houses, should be ratified; and that the presbyterian church government, as it should be afterwards fully modified by parliament, with the assistance of the assembly, should be established. Neither Charles nor his advisers, unless perhaps we should except Hyde, regarded the form of church government in any other light than as a civil engine ; and, as this was fully perceived by the opposite party*, his propo
• The king's principles have already been sufficiently established, but see in addition, MSS. Brit. Mus. Ayscough, 4161, a letter from Charles to the queen, 17th October, 1646, in which he justifies himself for refusing his consent to the presbyterian government entirely on the principle of policy; for that religion was not the