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of Charles, served only to render it more impracticable. Unfortunately, too, the influence which Laud obtained over his royal master was not exerted at the council-board only; but he seems to have possessed a power much more extensive, filling, like the Earl of Bute at the commencement of the late reign, the invidious situation of confidential guide to the monarch in all affairs—public and private, ecclesiastical and temporal.
That Laud assumed the government at a season of peculiar difficulty is unquestionably true; and it may be fairly doubted whether that circumstance does or does not render his conduct susceptible of excuse. Had he been forced into the situation of first minister after the death of Buckingham, it would have been incumbent on us to make due allowances for the difficulties of his situation ; on the contrary, if it should be true (and we fear impartial history will affirm it) that the dizzy height to which he attained was sought by himself, the guilt of his impotent ambition is greatly aggravated. But whatever judgement we may form as to Laud's conduct in assuming the reins at such a time, it is quite impossible to deny that the difficulties of his station might have foiled the talents even of a Ximenes or a Richlieu. For upwards of twenty years, the discontents of the nation had been advancing with slow, but steady pace; while the current of free opinion, so long frozen up under the chilling rule of the Tudors, had burst its icy fetters, and now rolled on through the whole reign of James, becoming, in each succeeding year, a wider, and a deeper, and a more resistless stream. Wonderful, too, as were the strides by which, at that very time, philosophy was advancing under the auspices of Bacon, we can hardly regard as less extraordinary the rapid increase of sound political knowledge, and correct political feeling. Men began to perceive, that the absurdities which prerogative had been talking and acting for so many years were both ridiculous and oppressive; that the British constitution, which had been so long perverted to serve only the purposes of royalty, contained many latent virtues, which, if resolutely elicited, might elevate and ennoble the degraded commons of the land; that liberty was the true nurse of the virtues and the sciences, while despotism lived by the suppression of both.
Hume has observed, that“ although the British crown, on the accession of the Stuarts, was possessed of a very extensive authority, that authority was founded merely on the opinion of the people influenced by ancient precedent and example: it was not supported either by money or by force of arms; and for this reason we need not wonder that the princes of that line were so extremely jealous of their prerogative,-being sensible that when those claims were ravished from them, they pos
sessed no influence by which they could maintain their dignity, or support the laws."* In this observation we think there is much truth ; and it is an observation which deserves to be attended to, as accounting for that singular combination of violence and impotency, which signalized the prerogative measures of the first Stuarts. Luckily, however, public opinion, hitherto the siaunch friend of court-ascendancy, now took a decided turn; luckily, we say, because the court-system, which had been gaining strength rapidly under the vigorous and prudent reign of Elizabeth, might have attained, even under a James or a Charles, such a degree of real power, as would have proved fatal to popular rights. The contest, henceforth, was indeed unequal; against the violence and imbecility of an ill-defined prerogative were matched the temperance, the wisdom, and the vigour of a prudent nation, awakened to a sense of its rights; against the mean intellect and narrow views of a Buckingham were ranged the mighty and energetic minds of a Hambden, a Pym, a Hollis, a Hyde, and a Falkland.
We have no space to recapitulate all the distresses into which Buckingham's rashness and folly precipitated his royal master. Our readers, no doubt, have present to their minds, his mad wars and ignominious treaties; his profligate extravagance, and his contemptible and illegal shifts ; his tyrannical prosecutions of individuals, and his undisguised attacks upon the national laws. It is sufficient for our purpose to observe, that after he had exasperated popular indignation to the uttermost, after he had ruined his royal master in the opinions of his subjects, and after he had sown in folly the seeds of those misfortunes which his successors reaped in a bitter harvest, he fell by the hand of the assassin,-bequeathing his principles and his station to Laud.
It was under these circumstances, then, that the author of the work before us began his ill-starred administration; and how utterly unqualified he was to cope with such difficulties, may be learned, partly from the evidence of 'history, and in no small degree from the volume now under review. We shall lay before our readers some specimens of the political and
ecclesiastical views of the archbishop as given by himself, that - they may form some judgement of his qualifications for that
post into which his own misfortune or his own temerity introduced him.
The following is the philosophical view taken of the public discontents by the king's chief adviser :
“ The synod thus ended, and the canons having this success;
* Hist. of Eng. Appendix to the reign of James I.
but especially the parliament ending so unhappily; the King was very hardly put to it, and sought all other means, as well as he could, to get supply against the Scots. But all that he could get, proved too little, or came too late for that service. For the averse party in the late parliament, or by and by after, before they parted, ordered things so, and filled mens' minds with such strange jealousies; that the King's good people were almost generally possest, that his Majesty had a purpose to alter the ancient laws and liberties of the kingdom, and to bring in slavery upon his people: a thing (which for ought I know) his Majesty never intended. But the parliament-men, which would not relieve the King, by their meeting in that assembly, came to understand and inform one another; and at their return, were able to possess their several counties with the apprehensions themselves had; and so they did. Upon this, some lords and others, who had by this time made an underhand solemn confederacy with a strong faction of the Scots, brought an army of them into the kingdom.” p. 83.
The arbitrary proceedings of the court, and the reasonings by which they were supported, are not ill depicted in the following passages. We have no doubt, that Laud was prepared to vindicate all his tyrannical proceedings in the star-chamber and high-commission court, by pretexts equally specious. To appreciate the gross folly of his conduct, it should be remembered, that at the very time when the occurrences to which the following extracts refer took place, there existed in the nation a general belief, that the laws were administered in an arbitrary manner. Surely a wise minister would have been careful not to exasperate, at such a time, the already irritated jealousy of the nation; nor would he have thought that pretexts like those by which Laud vindicated his conduct, could possibly satisfy a sharp-sighted people, who must have seen that by reasonings precisely similar, any proceeding, however vindictive, might be justified.
« December 21.-Monday, I was fined £500. in the parliament house, and Sir John Lambe and Sir Henry Martin, £250 a piece, for keeping Sir Robert Howard close prisoner in the case of the escape of the Lady Viscountess Purbeck out of the Gate-house ; which Lady he kept avowedly, and had children by her. In such a case, say the imprisonment were more than the law allow ; what may be done for honour and religion sake? This was not a fine to the King, but damage to the party.” p. 60.
This story of Sir Robert Howard is told at greater length in the History: the Archbishop's defence of himself is also more elaborate; and we shall extract the passage, with a view of giving a fuller specimen of the court reasonings.
“Now, the case of Sir Robert Howard was this. He fell in league with the Lady Viscountess Purbeck. The Lord Viscount Purbeck being in some weakness and distemper, the lady used him at her pleasure, and betook herself, in a manner, wholly to Sir Robert Howard, and had a son by him. She was delivered of this child in a clandestine way, under the name of Mistress Wright. These things came to be known, and she was brought into the high-commission; and there, after a legal proceeding, was found guilty of adultery, and sentenced to do penance ; many of the great lords of the kingdom being present in court, and agreeing in the sentence. Upon this sentence she withdrew herself, to avoid the penance. This sentence passed at London house, in Bishop Mountain's time, November 19, A. D. 1627. I was then present, as Bishop of Bath and Wells. After this, when the storm was somewhat over, Sir Robert Howard conveyed her to his house at ...... in Shropshire, where she lived avowedly with him some years, and had by him ... children. At last, they grew to that open boldness, that he brought her up to London, and lodged her in Westminster. This was so near the court, and in so open view, that the king and the lords took notice of it, as a thing full of impudence, that they should so publicly adventure to outface the justice of the realm, in so foul a business. And one day, as I came of course to wait on his majesty, he took me aside and told me of it, being then Archbishop of Canterbury; and added, that it was a great reproach to the church and nation; and that I neglected my duty, in case I did not take order for it. I made answer, she was the wife of a peer of the realm ; and that, without his leave I could not attach her; but that now I knew his majesty's pleasure, I would do my best to have her taken, and brought to penance, according to the sentence against her. The next day I had the good hap to apprehend both her and Sir Robert; and by order of the high-commission court, imprisoned her in the Gate-house, and him in the Fleet. : “ This was (as far as I remember) upon a Wednesday; and the Sunday sevennight after, was thought upon to bring her to penance. She was much troubled at it, and so was he. And therefore in the middle of the week following, Sir Robert dealt with some of his friends, and amongst the rest, with one Sir ..:... of Hampshire ; who with money, corrupted the turnkey of the prison (so they call him) and conveyed the lady forth, and after that into France, in man's apparel, (as that knight himself hath since made his boast.) This was told me the morning after the escape; and you must think the good fellowship of the town was glad of it. In the mean time, I could not but know, though not perhaps prove as then, that Sir Robert Howard laboured and contrived this conveyance. And thereupon, in the next sitting of the high-commission, ordered him to be close prisoner, till he brought the lady forth. So he continued close prisoner about some two or three months. For this, the fine abovementioned, was imposed upon me, as being a most unjust and illegal imprisonment. Whereas the parliament (to the great honour of their justice be it spoken) have kept me in prison now, full thirteen months, and upward, and have not so much as brought up a particular charge against me; and how much longer they will keep me, God knows. Now, say that all forms of law were not observed by me; yet somewhat was to be indulged, in regard I did it to vindicate such a crying impiety.
But yet, I do here solemnly protest, I observed the order of the court in which I sat, and that court settled by an act of parliament, 1 Elizabeth. And I did not knowingly err in any particular. More I could say in these my sufferings, but I will blast no family of honour for one man's fault.” p. 146—7.
Great, however, as we may think the folly of Laud's political measures, his absurdities upon the subject of church government appear to have been not one whit less gross and mischievous. It is well known that, during his whole administration, he was constantly at war with the religious notions of most Englishmen and all Scotchmen. His headstrong and impolitic opposition to the prejudices of the English puritans is deserving of censure ; but it is quite impossible for language to express the gross folly and the rank injustice of (what he called) his reforms in the Scottish church. In spite of the indignant remonstrances of all Scotland—and never did a nation utter remonstrances so unanimous and unequivocal; in spite of all the difficulties with which the English government was encompassed at home, and which were fully commensurate with all its capacities; in spite of all the solemn warnings which history and observation afforded; it seemed to Laud, not unwise to attempt a thorough reformation of the Scottish faith. At the very time when the English throne was rocking nearly to its fall, the prime-minister engaged his master and himself in a crusade against kirk-worship; the task of conciliating an English parliament was laid aside for the purpose of squabbling with Scotch divines; and it became the grand object of government to fasten the abominated surplice upon refractory presbyterian shoulders. . We are pretty sure, that no reasonings, however strong, would have carried through the Archbishop's projects; but, we really must say, in vindication of the Scottish people, that more contemptible reasonings than those by which he attempted to subdue their prejudices, were never employed for any purpose whatever. Even afterwards, when he came, during his imprisonment in the Tower, to review his own conduct, and to devise the best answers he could to the charges preferred against him in parliament, his arguments were framed a good deal after the following fashion.
“As for the custom in Scotland, of fasting on the Lord's day; it is not only sometimes, as is here expressed, but continually, when they have any solemn fast, the Lord's day is the day for it. And if I did write, that that was opposite to Christianity itself; I doubt it is too true. For it is against the practice of the whole church of Christ, and that which is so, must oppose Christianity itself. And this I find; that as apostolical universal tradition settled the Lord's day for holy and public worship; so from the very Apostles' times, the same general