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Rochelle was at this time hard pressed by the royal forces, commanded by Richelieu
in person, and a fleet and army had been collected at Portsmouth, of which Buckingham was again to take the command. But this time he was to negotiate, not to fight : since both Charles and Louis were satisfied that, by their hostility, they were only strengthening the house of Austria. One morning (the 23d of August) the duke had some high words in his chamber with Soubise and other French gentlemen : proceeding shortly after to his carriage, he turned, in crossing the hall, to listen to a whisper from Colonel Friar, when an unknown hand plunged a knife into his heart, and left it sticking there. He cried “ Villain !" plucked it out, staggered against a table, and immediately died. The French gentlemen were at first suspected of the deed, and narrowly escaped instant death; while the real assassin had in the mean time reached the kitchen, and might have escaped : but, on a sudden alarm, he drew his sword, and exclaimed, “I am the man. He was immediately seized. His name, he said, was John Felton, a Protestant, and a lieutenant in the army, from which he had retired, as junior officers had been placed over his head, and his arrears of pay had been withheld. The remonstrance of the commons had convinced him that the duke was the cause of the national calamities, and that, by killing him, he should serve God, his king, and his country. He had no accomplices, had travelled seventy miles to do the deed, and had so little personal enmity, that, as he struck the blow, he prayed, “ May God have mercy on thy soul!" Felton was forthwith transmitted to London, and underwent several examinations, but persisted in the same story. The Marquis of Dorset threatened him with the torture. “I am ready,” he said ;
yet I must tell you, by-the-way, that I will then accuse you, my Lord of Dorset, and no one but yourself.” The king wished to have him put to the rack: but the judges declared that torture was contrary to the laws of England. On the 27th of November Felton pleaded guilty, owning the enormity of his offence, and
1628.] SIR THOMAS WENTWORTH.
205 praying that the hand which had done the criminal deed might be struck off before he died. He was executed as a murderer.
The king was at his prayers in a private house near Portsmouth, when the news of the duke's murder was brought to him. He testified no great emotion at the time, but nevertheless he felt it deeply. He took the family of his favourite under his rotection, paid his debts, to the amount of £61,000, caused him to be buried in Westminster Abbey, and styled him “the martyr of his sovereign”-such was his infatuation! Buckingham was only thirty-six years of age, and his death was perhaps fortunate for himself, since, as Lingard justly observes, “if he had escaped the knife of the assassin, he would probably have fallen by the axe of the executioner.” A more worthless minion, one more completely destitute of every good and great quality, it would be difficult to find; and one blushes to think of England being governed, as in effect it was, for so many years, by such an ignorant, insolent, and profligate upstart.
The expedition to Rochelle sailed under the Ear] of Lindsey, but its efforts were of no avail. The town surrendered at discretion, and the Huguenot power was completely broken.
About this time the king gained to his side a man in all respects incomparably the superior of Buckingham. Sir Thomas Wentworth, a man of large fortune and great influence in Yorkshire, had sat in every parliament since 1614. He had followed a neutral line of conduct, but his natural temper inclined him to the side of arbitrary power. In the present parliament, however, he had shown himself one of the most prominent champions of freedom for Buckingham, out of jealousy, had deprived him of the office of Custos Rotulorum of his county; and, while that wound was yet raw, a privy-seal had been sent him, at the suggestion of his rival, Sir John Savile. He refused compliance, was brought before the council, and committed to prison. In the ensuing parliament he took his place among the patriots, and displayed such abil
ity and energy that the court saw their error, and resolved to gain him if possible. This was easily effected. He was made a baron, and then a viscount and lord-president of the council of the north ; and he never after wavered in his devotion to despotism.
The king at this time also gave great offence to the parliament by promoting certain divines whom they had censured. Montague was made Bishop of Chichester, and Mainwaring, Sibthorpe, Cousins, and others, obtained good livings. In contempt, likewise, of the parliament, the duties of tonnage and poundage were still levied; and the goods of Rolles, a member of the commons, Chambers, and other merchants who refused to pay them, were seized.
On the 20th of January, 1629, parliament reassembled. The fraud of the king in the printing of the Petition of Right was made known, the case of Rolles was brought before the house, and the sheriff of London and the officers of the customs had to appear at the bar. The king then summoned both houses to meet him at Whitehall, and there urged them to put an end to all disputes by passing the bill for tonnage and poundage : assuring them that he did not take these duties as a part of his prerogative, but by the gift of his people; and that, if he had levied them hitherto, he did it out of necessity, and not “by any right which he assumed.” The commons, however, took no heed of this ‘and other attempts to obtain money without conditions. It was their fixed and just principle, that inquiry into and redress of grievances should precede the granting of supplies ; and this they immediately set about, directing their attention first of all to the important subject of religion. On the 27th, Sir John Eliot addressed the house in an able speech in reference to the religious innovations lately made, and the result was a “vow," entered on their journals, to admit no new sense of the articles of religion.* After a few days the house ad
Charles's indignation was more particularly excited on this occasion by the attempt to limit his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It
1629.] RESOLUTIONS OF THE COMMONS.
journed to the 25th of February, on which day it was agreed to present charges to the king against Laud, bishop of London. The king then ordered both houses to adjourn to the 2d of March.
On this memorable day Eliot entered the house with a protestation which he had prepared, for the purpose of submitting it to the members. It contained the following articles : 1. Whoever shall innovate in religion, by introducing popery, Arminianism, etc., is an enemy to the kingdom and commonwealth. 2. Whoever shall counsel to take, or shall assist in taking tonnage and poundage not granted by parliament, is an enemy, etc. 3. Whoever shall pay the same is an enemy, etc. After having introduced these resolutions by a speech directed chiefly against the Lordtreasurer Weston, he desired Sir John Finch, the speaker, to read them : but he refused. The clerk did the same. Eliot now read them himself, and required the speaker to put them to vote. He replied, that “ he was commanded otherwise by the king,” and rose to quit the chair: but two members, Hollis and Valentine, held him down. A tumult arose; swords were near being drawn : Eliot now gave the protestation to Hollis to put it to the house, and it was received with acclamations. The king thereupon sent the sergeant to take away the mace ;* but he was detained, and the doors were locked. The usher of the black rod then came, but he could not gain admission; and, in a rage, the king ordered the captain of the guard to go and force the doors : but the members, having passed the protestation and adjourned to the will be recollected that, after the abrogation of the papal authority in the reign of Henry VIII., the king was declared to be supreme head of the church. By virtue of this high office, the English sovereigns were invested with almost unlimited power in all matters relating not only to church government, but to the exercise of religious freedom as to modes of faith and worship by the subject. Now, as this was almost the only formidable prerogative of the crown which had been left unassailed by the Petition of Rights, the king was particularly anxious to guard it from all encroach. ment.-Am. Éd.
* The ensign of the speaker's office.
10th, now issued forth in a body. Eliot, Hollis, Valentine, and others, were forthwith summoned before the council, and, on their refusing to answer out of parliament for things said and done in it, they were committed to the Tower. On the 10th the king went down to the house of lords and dissolved the parliament, on account, he said, of “the seditious carriage of some vipers, members of the lower house.”
The imprisoned members applied for their habeas corpus: but the king, by removing them from the custody of the officers to whom the writs were directed, frustrated their efforts. They were offered their liberty if they would petition the king, and express contrition for having offended him. This course they at once rejected, as it would be an acknowledgment of the legality of the arbitrary acts which they had opposed. Eliot, Harris, and Valentine were finally proceeded against in the King's Bench, and sentenced to be imprisoned during pleasure ; and Eliot was fined £1000, Hollis 1000 marks, and Valentine £500. The others were released after a confinement of eighteen months. Eliot ended his days in the Tower. When the decline of his health finally induced him to yield to the entreaties of his friends, and petition for his liberty, the answer given was, “ It is not humble enough. He sent a second petition by his young son, offering to return to his prison when he should recover his health. This, also, was ineffectual. After his death, his children petitioned to be allowed to take his body to Cornwall, to be deposited in the tomb of his ancestors. “Let Sir John Eliot's body be buried in the church of that parish where he died,” was the unfeeling reply of the monarch.
Thus terminated Charles's third parliament. As we shall now find him for some years altogether dispensing with these assemblies, taking his subjects' money at his own arbitrary will, and running the full career of despotism, we will transcribe the following passage from his panegyrist, Lord Clarendon. “It is not to be denied,” he says, “ that there were in all those parliaments, especially in that of the fourth