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Continent *: While the rights of property had been so violated, that it was well observed in parliament that the people had become tenants at will. Nor was it a small aggravation, that the money despotically wrung from the community, instead of being conveyed into the treasury, went to enrich individual favourites. Illegal, unheard-of cruel imprisonments, and inhuman corporal punishments, as flogging, cropping the ears, slitting the nose, and branding the face, had been brought to the assistance of arbitrary courts against men of rank and learning. The established religion had been nearly subverted for the pageantry of the Romish superstition, while the impugners of audacious novelties had been exposed to the tyrannical vengeance of arbitrary courts, which set no limits to their punishments. Nay, even those who preferred to seek a habitation in the then dreary and savage climes beyond the Atlantic, to living under a state of civil and religious slavery at home, were interdicted from this last resort, while measures were prepared to bring the American settlements under the same yoke with the mother country. The clergy had, under the royal countenance, assumed, in convocation, legislative powers, and even imposed on the general body, taxes which were exigible under severe penalties. They had affected to be independent of the civil power, and even endeavoured to have themselves exempted from ordinary jurisdiction; while, by their ille
* Cobbet's Pari. Hist. vol. ii. p. 643. 655. Old ditto, vol. ix. p. 67.
gal courts, they had spread general dismay: Laud had almost assumed the style as well as the powers of the Pope.
Such was the state of affairs in England; but had all these grievances been insufficient to rouse that people into a proper sense of their condition, and of the incalculable misery which would necessarily flow from the present unconstitutional system, the measures lately pursued against the Scots, and the policy of Strafforde in Ireland, must have satisfied them, that if they did not embrace the present opportunity for redressing their wrongs, all that they valued in their religious or civil institutions, would probably be lost for ever. In Scotland, Charles had openly tried to overturn every thing civil and religious which the people most venerated, and had branded resistance to such unhallowed measures as the most unnatural rebellion,—a rebellion which he delegated powers to crush with fire and sword, declaring, in the stubbornness of pride, that he would rather die than submit to the demands of his subjects,—demands which merely imported a recalment of innovations upon the established worship and laws. Nor had he a colour for the apology usually resorted to, and which he availed himself of on other occasions, that he consulted the general wish against the factious inclinations of the few, who raised a clamour under that pretext, to embroil civil affairs; for he did not hesitate privately to express his conviction, that his measures were fraught with the ruin of his people. In Ireland, the administration of Strafforde had kindled an hostility to the government, and a personal abhorrence of himself, almost unparalleled in history.
While such was the posture of affairs, one could scarcely have anticipated the following language, even from Mr. Hume: "The grievances which tended chiefly to inflame the parliament and nation, especially the latter, were the surplice, the rails placed about the altar, the bows exacted on approaching it, the liturgy, the breach of the Sabbath, embroidered copes, lawn sleeves, the use of the ring in marriage, and of the cross in baptism. On account of these," continues he, "were the popular leaders content to throw the government into convulsions; and, to the disgrace of that age and of this island, it must be acknowledged, that the disorders in Scotland entirely, and those in England mostly, proceeded from so mean and contemptible an origin." How far this view of facts is correct, the reader must by this time be prepared to determine; but the passage, and it is only a specimen of this author's manner, is surely as remote from philosophical liberality as from truth. Aware that the attempt to justify the monarch for endeavouring to impose popery upon the nation, would never be listened to with patience, the historian generally ridicules the imputed purpose as a senseless clamour, and probably means to convey, in this passage, that the innovations introduced were altogether unimportant. But he forgets that if it were disgraceful in the nation to be so appalled with such mean and contemptible innovations, it betrayed, even ina religious view, a much greater want of good sense in Charles and his advisers, whose cause he advocates, to attach such consequence to them as not only to impose them under severities revolting to humanity, but at the hazard of a convulsion; for there is a mighty difference between the case of a people who merely adhere to the established worship, against the wish of their monarch, who has no right to dictate to them, and that of a king, who, in despite of the laws, abuses the power entrusted to him, in order to force his subjects into the adoption of his peculiar tenets. If, on the other hand, it be alleged, that Charles was endowed with too much good sense to be the slave of such contemptible superstition, then the historian entirely overlooks, that the conduct of the prince assumes, in that case, the character of the blackest depravity, in wantonly inflicting the most hideous punishments for disobedience to his capricious commands, and exposing the kingdom to all the horrors of a convulsion, for an object which he considered intrinsically unimportant. But it cannot be denied that the people, even though they had regarded the innovations as abstractly trivial, would have shewn themselves utterly unworthy of their political privileges, had they not resisted changes thus tyrannically obtruded ; since the introduction of them, with such penalties, imported powers in the throne inconsistent with every idea of civil and religious liberty. The most despotical monarchs have commonly the good sense to know that the attempt to interfere with the established religion, against the wishes of the people, would shake their thrones. It was vain for Mr. Hume, however, to
represent the innovations as so unimportant: even those which he enumerates were abhorred by the people, not as merely ceremonial, but as indicative both of greater changes, and of substantial alterations in faith; and this was questionless the object with which they were introduced. The historian himself elsewhere takes nearly the same view, informing us, that " not only the discontented puritans believed the church of England to be relapsing fast into the Romish superstition, but that the Court of Rome itself entertained hopes of regaining its authority in this island." "And," says he, "it must be confessed, that though Laud deserved not the appellation of a Papist, the genius of his religion was, though in a less degree, the same with that of the Romish: The same profound respect was exacted to the sacerdotal character, the same submission required to the creeds and decrees of synods and councils, the same pomp and ceremony were affected in worship, and the same superstitious regard to days, postures, meats, and vestments." It was not the name of Popery that the people disliked, but the thing; and with regard to Laud, it was well remarked in parliament, that a pope at Rome was less intolerable than one at Lambeth. It would have afforded some, though a very inadequate, apology for this prince, that he was actuated by mistaken notions of religious duty; but it is, unfortunately, demonstrable, from his own correspondence, that his object was merely to assimilate the faith and worship to those of despotical countries, that they might operate in preparing the public mind for the same civil subjection. With