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1641.]

THE ARMY PLOT.

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Orders were then given that this protestation should in like manner be sworn to throughout England.

The important matter which Pym now communicated to the house was what is called the Army Plot. It is said that he had possessed a knowledge of it for some time, and had dropped hints of it, in order to produce the effects he desired in the city. The matter is involved in great obscurity, but the following is what appears to be the most probable account.

The parliament had been very regular in their payments of the money promised to their“ dear brethren,” as they termed the Scots. On one occasion the latter wrote up, pretending an instant need of £25,000, and the commons, having only £15,000 in hand, took, to make up the amount, £10,000 from a sum of £50,000 which was to have gone to the English army. Some of the field-officers of this army, namely, Lord Percy, brother of the Earl of Northumberland, Wilmot, son of Lord Wilmot, and colonels Ashburnham, Pollard, and others, were members of the house of commons; and Wilmot rose and said, “that, if such papers of the Scots could procure moneys, he doubted not but the officers of the English would soon do the like.” Petitioning being now so much in vogue, these officers formed themselves into a juncto, as it was called, and prepared a petition to the king and parliament, to be presented from the army, of which the prayer was, the preserving of the bishops' functions and votes, the non-disbanding of the Irish army until that of the Scots should also be disbanded, and the settlement of the royal revenue. This was communicated by Percy to the king. Meanwhile, there was a plot on foot between Henry Jermyn, master of the horse to the queen, Sir John Suckling, George Goring, son of Lord Goring, and others, the object of which was deeper: it being no less than to bring up the army and overawe the parliament. It would appear that not only the queen, but the king even, was acquainted with this design, for he commanded Percy and his friends to communicate with Jermyn and Goring. They had three meetings; and Goring, find

ing that the more violent courses which he urged were not relished, and seeing also that the command of the army, the object of his ambition, would not be bestowed on him, went and made a discovery of the whole scheme to Lord Newport, and then to the parliamentary leaders. Percy, Jermyn, and Suckling, finding the affair divulged, fled to France : the others stood their ground. Percy afterward, on the 14th of June, wrote a letter to his brother, giving an account (apparently a true one) of the whole affair; and then Wilmot, Ashburnham, and Pollard were committed to custody. Lord Digby, for asserting that Goring was a perjured man, was expelled the house, and Goring was voted to have done nothing contrary to justice and honour.

The king, in his extreme anxiety to save Strafford, may have lent a willing ear to the wild project of Goring : he also assented to another, for introducing one Captain Billingsley, with two hundred men, into the Tower with that design, and gave his warrant for it. But Balfour, the lieutenant, a Scotsman, suspecting their object, refused to admit them. It is also said that Balfour was tempted with a sum of money to suffer the earl to escape ; and, on his examination, he swore that Strafford had offered him a bribe of £20,000, besides promising him “a good marriage for his son," to the same end. *

On the 5th a bill was introduced into the commons which virtually dissolved the monarchy. There being a difficulty in raising funds for the pay of the army, a Lancashire knight engaged to obtain £650,000 if the king would pass a bill “not to prorogue, adjourn, or dissolve this parliament without consent of both houses, to endure till the grievances were redressed, and to give the parliament credit to take up moneys.” The next day a bill founded on this proposal was hurried through all its stages, and sent, 1641.]

* As this was sworn (June 2d) after Strafford's death, we have only Balfour's word for its truth. May (p. 65) says the match proposed was the earl's own daughter.

PERPLEXITIES OF CHARLES,

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with that of the attainder, up to the other house. The lords wished to limit it to two years, but the commons would not consent, and on the 8th it was passed. The lords at the same time passed the bill of attainder, the judges having previously declared that on two of the articles the earl was guilty of treason. This opinion would have been of more weight if the judges had not so recently experienced the power of the commons. Various causes concurring to induce several of the peers to absent themselves, there were but forty-five present when the bill was passed, and of these nineteen voted against it.

The two bills were now sent to the king. In his distress of mind he summoned some of the prelates and privy counsellors to his aid. Some urged the authority of the judges; and Bishop Williams is said to have drawn a pernicious distinction between a king's private and public conscience, by which, in his public capacity, he might do that which he secretly believed to be wrong. Bishop Juxon alone, we are told, honestly advised him to act according to his convictions. A letter also came from the earl himself, urging him to assent to the bill. “Sir,” said he in it,“ my consent shall more acquit you herein to God than all the world can do besides. To a willing man there is no injury done.” A truly noble mind would have perished sooner than sacrifice such a willing victim : but Charles, to his ultimate ruin and indelible disgrace, signed a commission to three lords authorizing them to pass both the bills. *

It is probable that Strafford did not look for this result : for, when Secretary Carleton came from the king to inform him of what he had done, and his motives for it, he could not at first believe it. When satisfied In a

* The commons, on a similar occasion, showed themselves more generous. When, with a view to embarrassing the king, they petitioned for the execution of one Goodman and other popish priests, Goodman petitioned the house, praying that he might be executed rather than be the occasion of difference between them and the king. Charles left the matter to the house, and none were executed.

of the truth, he stood up, lifted his eyes to heaven, and, laying his hand on his heart, said, “ Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, for in them there is no salvation."*

Denzil Hollis, who was Strafford's brother-in-law, told Burnet that the king sent for 'him, and asked if he knew of any course to save his life. Hollis hinted at a reprieve, which would give himself time to use his influence with his friends in the commons. The king would appear to have assented to this course; but, with his usual inconstancy, he adopted another. The day after his assent to the bill, the 11th, he sent a letter by the young Prince of Wales, written by himself, to the lords, urging them to join him in prevailing with the commons to consent to his imprisonment for life : “but,” he subjoined, “if no less than his life can satisfy my people, I must say Fiat justitia." postscript, he adds, “If he must die, it were charity to reprieve him till Saturday.” This postscript is said to have sealed the earl's doom.t

The following morning, the 12th, was appointed for the execution. The scaffold was erected on Tower

when ready, the earl left his chamber; Laud, as he had requested, was at his window, to give him his

* Strafford might well have been surprised at the king's conduct, after having received a letter from him only a few days be. fore containing these words : “I cannot satisfy honour or conscience without assuring you, now in the midst of all your troubles, that, upon the word of a king, you shall not suffer in life, honour, or fortune.' And upon this promise the earl, a few days only before his condemnation, wrote to his wife thus: “I know at the worst his majesty will pardon without hurting my fortune, and then I shall be happy. Therefore comfort yourself, for I trust these clouds will pass away, and that we shall have fair weather afterward.” It is but fair, however, to consider the condition in which Charles was placed. The commons and people were clamorous for the execution of his favourite; he was threatened with insurrection and civil war ; reports of domestic conspiracy and foreign invasion were industriously circulated; and the terrified queen besought her husband with tears to consult the safety of his family. When he finally signed the death-warrant, he is reported to have said, “My Lord of Strafford's condition is more enviable than mine."- Am. Ed.

+ Burnet, Own Times, i., 56, where see the editor's note.

Hill;

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1641.] EXECUTION OF STRAFFORD. 253 blessing as he passed; the feeble old man raised his hands, but was unable to speak, and fell back into the arms of his attendants. The earl moved on; and the lieutenant desired him to take a coach at the gate, lest the mob should tear him in pieces: to which he replied, that it was indifferent to him whether he died by the axe or by their fury. The multitude extended far as the eye could reach; the earl took off his hat several times and saluted them; not a word of insult was heard; "his step and air," says Rushworth, who was present, were those of a general marching at. the head of an army to breathe victory, rather than those of a condemned man to undergo the sentence of death." From the scaffold he addressed the people, assuring them that he had always had the welfare of his country at heart: it augured ill for their happiness, he told them, to write the commencement of a reformation in letters of blood; and he declared that he had never been against parliaments, regarding them

“the best means, under God, to make the king and his people happy.” He turned to take leave of his friends; and, seeing his brother weeping, he gently reproved him. “ Think,” said he, “ that you are now accompanying me the fourth time to my marriagebed. That block shall be my pillow, and here I shall rest from all my labours.” He then began to undress, saying, “I do as cheerfully put off my doublet at this time as ever I did when I went to bed.” He knelt and prayed, Archbishop Usher and another clergyman kneeling with him. He laid down his head to try the block: then telling the executioner that he would stretch forth his hands as a sign when he was to strike, he laid it finally down, and, giving the signal, it was severed at a single blow; and thus, in the forty-ninth year of his age, perished Thomas earl of Strafford," " who, for natural parts and abilities," says Whitelock, "and for improvement of knowledge, by experience in the greatest affairs, for wisdom, faithfulness, and gallantry of mind, hath left few behind him that may be ranked equal with him."* * “ He died justly before God and man,” says Hallam, " though VOL. III. — Y

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