« ZurückWeiter »
1629.) DESPOTIC RULE OF THE KING. 209 year, several passages and distempered speeches of particular persons not fit for the dignity and honour of those places, and unsuitable to the reverence due to his majesty and his councils. But I do not know any formal act of either house (for neither the remonstrance nor votes of the last day were such) that was not agreeable to the wisdom and justice of great courts on those extraordinary occasions. And whoever considers the acts of power and injustice in the intervals of parliament, will not be much scandalized at the warmth and vivacity of those meetings.”
The Cabinet.-Laud and the Church.-Persecution of Leighton,
Prynne, and others.-Mode of Raising a Revenue.-Ship-money.-- John Hampden.-Settlement of New-England.—A fairs of Scotland. -Attempt to introduce a Liturgy.-The Covenant.-The Episcopal War.—The Short Parliament.--Scots enter England. -Despotism of Charles.
For a period of twelve years we are now to witness the exercise of despotic power in England: the king, like his royal brethren of France and Spain, taking his subjects' money at will, giving no account of its expenditure, and arbitrarily punishing all who dared to murmur or oppose the civil and religious despotism he had established.
External tranquillity being necessary for his designs, Charles made peace with the courts of France and Spain. When the illustrious Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden put himself at the head of the Protestant cause in Germany, six thousand men were raised, at the expense of the king, for his aid, in the name of the Marquis of Hamilton, who commanded them. This was the only money employed for foreign purposes : · the produce of the taxes, and of the impositions generally, went to the support of the government, and to the maintenance of a most brilliant and expensive court.
After the death of Buckingham (the only man he seems ever to have loved) Charles had no favourite, and became his own minister. The queen, a vain, selfish, obstinate woman, possessed a pernicious influence over his mind. He had drawn from the popular side not only Wentworth and Savile, but Sir Dudley Digges, whom he made master of the rolls; and the two lawyers Noy and Littleton, the former of whom he appointed to the office of attorney and the latter to that of solicitor general. Sir Richard Weston, the lord-treasurer, a suspected Catholic, was one of the most unscrupulous instruments of the royal despotism.
In his project for abolishing the liberties of the people, Charles was aided also by the hierarchy of the church, headed by William Laud, whom the favour of Buckingham had raised rapidly through various gradations to the see of London; and whom, on the death of Abbot in 1632, the king had advanced to the primacy. Laud was a man of narrow mind, but of much reading: matters, therefore, of little importance to enlarged intellects, appeared of great moment to him. Thus he had conceived a ridiculously exalted notion of the value of particular ceremonies in sustaining religion, and a most extravagant opinion of the sublimity of the episcopal office. He also held to the Arminian tenets. In all these matters his sincerity, perhaps, is not to be questioned; but then he was actuated by a cruel, persecuting spirit, and would allow no one to maintain any sentiment contrary to his own.
The following are some of the religious changes which he had caused to be made at this time. New ceremonies were employed in the consecration of churches; the habiliments of the officiating ministers became more gaudy; the use of pictures, images, cru. cifixes, and lights in the churches was contended for; 1629-1635.) ASCENDANCY OF THE CATHOLICS. 211
and prayers for the dead, confession, and absolution were inculcated. The doctrine of the real presence, or something very nearly resembling it, seems to have been held by Laud and others. *
The Catholics were full of hopes at witnessing these favourable symptoms in the Church of England, and the court of Rome was induced to send an envoy, named Panzani, to London. A negotiation for the union of the churches was commenced with him by Lord Cottington, Secretary Windebank, and Bishop Montague, though entirely unknown to Laud and the clergy in general. Like all projects of the kind, it proved entirely abortive: for Rome never recedes from any one of her pretensions. The king, in return for the courtesies which the court of Rome lavished on him, stopped the prosecution of the recusants : it was agreed, also, that diplomatic relations should be established between the two courts in the name of the queen, and Panzani was succeeded in his post at London by a Scotsman named Conn, whose place was afterward taken by an agent of higher rank, the Count Rosetti. The Catholics, says Clarendon,“ attempted, and sometimes obtained, proselytes of weak, uninformed ladies, with such circumstances as provoked the rage and destroyed the charity of great and powerful families,” and they urged on the court in all its ruinous and oppressive measures. “ To conclude," he adds, “they carried themselves so as if they had been suborned by the Scots to root out their own religion.”
The punishments inflicted on those who impugned the innovations in the church were very severe; and the licensing of the press being in the hands of the dominant party, no works in opposition to them could be printed. It was not even permitted to publish any. thing against the Church of Rome; and it will scarcely be believed, that Fox's Book of Martyrs, Jewell's works, and the celebrated Practice of Piety, failed at this time to obtain a license to be printed. The treatment of the father of the excellent Arch
* See Appendix (A.)
bishop Leighton will serve to give an idea of the punishments inflicted on those who drew on themselves the vengeance of the implacable Laud. Leighton, a Scots divine, had printed in Holland a book entitled “ Zion's Plea against Prelacy,” addressed to the members of the late parliament. In this he no doubt treated the bishops with great rudeness and violence, terming them men of blood,” and prelacy“ antichristian," declaring “the fearful sin of their pestering God's worship, and overlaying people's consciences with the inventions of men, yea, with the trumpery of Antichrist," and calling on the parliament utterly to root out the hierarchy. Speaking of the queen, he styled her a daughter of Heth, that is, simply a papist in the language of the time. For this, in 1630, he was sentenced by the court of Star Chamber to be committed to the Fleet for life; to be fined £10,000; to be degraded from his ministry; to be pilloried and whipped, to have an ear cut off, a nostril slit, and his cheek branded with SS (i. e., Sower of Sedition) at Westminster, and to have the latter repeated some days after at Cheapside. When this cruel sentence was pronounced, Laud pulled off his cap and gave thanks to God for it; and in his Diary he records minutely, and without the slightest pity or remorse, how it was carried into execution. Leighton lay in his dungeon till the year 1641, when he was released by the parliament.
William Prynne, a barrister, published at this time a ponderous quarto voluine, called “ Histriomastyx,” full of zeal and learning against plays and players. Prynne had already incurred the enmity of Laud and his party by some works against Arminianism and prelatic jurisdiction, and they were on the watch for him. It happened, about six weeks after Prynne's publication, that the queen performed a part in a pastoral at Somerset House; and as in his book it was said that women-actors among the Greeks and Romans were all notoriously bad characters, Laud showed the passage to the king, affirming that it was meant for the queen; but the royal pair took no notice of it. Laud resolved, however, not to be balked, and
set his trusty chaplain, Peter Heylin, to examine all Prynne's works, and collect the scandalous points out of them. These Laud carried himself to Noy on a Sunday morning, desiring him to prosecute Prynne in the Star Chamber. Noy complied, and Prynne was sentenced to pay a fine of £1000; to be expelled from Oxford and Lincoln's Inn ; to be degraded from his profession in the law; to stand twice in the pillory, losing an ear each time; to have his books burned before his face by the hangman, and to be imprisoned for life. This sentence also was carried into effect.
About this time, too, Dr. Bastwick, a learned physician, having published a book called “ Elenchus Papismi et Flagellum Episcoporum
Latialium” (Confutation of Popery, and a Rod for the Italian Bishops), in answer to one Short, a Romanist, was brought before the High Commission court for it. He too was sentenced to be fined £1000, excommunicated, forbidden to practice physic, and imprisoned till he should recant. At the same time, one Chowney wrote a book in defence of the Church of Rome, to prove it a true church, and Laud sanctioned the book and accepted the dedication of it. Whitelock says he was told that the bishops, in their censure of Bastwick, denied that they held their jurisdiction as bishops from the king, affirming that they received it from God alone.
Another sufferer in these days was John Lilburne, afterward so famous. He was then a mere youth; but, being convicted of distributing pamphlets against the bishops, he was whipped from the Fleet to Westminster, set in the pillory, and treated with great cru-, elty.
The modes in which Charles raised a revenue at this time were as follows: 1. He levied tonnage and poundage, increasing the duties in many cases. 2. For a certain fine he pardoned frauds in the sale of former crown-lands, and allowed defective titles to be remedied. 3. He obliged all who had not come to receive knighthood at his coronation to compound for their neglect. 4. He revived monopolies, giving them to companies of merchants, who were to pay a large