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They understood also how to act upon
the moral weakness of those who were not likely to be deceived. They called the physical force of the city to their aid ; and under fear of the mob, senators shrunk from their duty, when they ought rather to have laid down their lives in discharging it. The bishops were wanting to themselves and their order and their king, when, under the influence of fear, they abandoned their right of voting upon the attainder of Strafford : and the lords, when a mob was at the door, and Mr. Hollis (who afterward sat in judgment upon some of his colleagues) desired, in compliance with the demand of that mob, to know the names of those who were opposed to the wishes of the commons, passed, under that intimidation, a bill which they had twice before rejected. The moderate part of the members in that assembly might have outvoted the promoters of rebellion, four to one ; but, in fear of their lives, they either left the house or acquiesced in motions which they abhorred. The condition of the house of commons was worse ; because there the men of worst intentions, were also the men of greatest ability," and the number of the weak and wilful,” says Clarendon, “who naturally were to be guided by them, always made up a major part : so that from the beginning they were always able to carry. whatsoever they set their hearts visibly upon ; at least to discredit or disgrace any particular man,
against whom they thought necessary to proceed, albeit of the most unblemished reputation, and upon the most frivolous suggestions.” They waged war in parliament, as Cromwell did afterward in Ireland, upon the principle of destroying all who opposed them, and the success was the same. At the most important debates there was seldom a fifth part of the members present, and often not more than twelve or thirteen in the house of lords.
It is especially worthy of notice that the very faults for which the king's government was most severely reproached, were committed by the parliament in a far greater degree, and with every possible aggravation. One of the accusations against Charles was that he suffered himself to be guided by clerical counsellors; and the argument upon which they chiefly insisted in support of the bill for taking away the bishops' votes in parliament was that “their intermeddling with temporal affairs was inconsistent with, and destructive to, the exercise of their spiritual function;" “ while their reformation," it has been truly observed, s both in Scotland and this kingdom, was driven on by no men so much as those of their clergy, who were their instruments; as without doubt the archbishop of Canterbury had never so great an influence
the councils at court as Dr. Burgess and Mr. Marshal had upon the houses : neither did all the bishops of Scotland together meddle so much in temporal affairs as Mr. Henderson had done.” The breaches of privilege which Charles had committed were represented by them as destructive to the freedom of parliament; and yet their conduct, both to the king and to the house of peers, was an absolute rooting up of all privileges. One of the most unpopular acts of the king had been the levying of ship-money without the consent of the parliament; an impost then only of doubtful legality, yet equally levied, excellently applied, and so light in itself that the payment which Hampden honorably disputed was only twenty shillings upon an estate of 5001. a year. The parliament did not scruple, without consent of the king, to demand the twentieth part every man's property in London, or so much as their seditious mayor and three other persons as seditious as himself might please to call a twentieth, to be levied by distress if the parties refused payment; and if the distress did not cover the assessment, then the defaulter was to be imprisoned where and as long as a committee of the house of commons should think proper, and his family was no longer to remain in London, or the suburbs, or the abjoining counties. With an impudence of slander which would be incredible, if anything were too bad to be believed of thoroughly factious men which will serve their purposes, they accused
the king of exciting the massacre in Ireland, and fomenting the rebellion there ; and they themselves employed the money and the means which were prepared for quelling that rebellion, in carrying on a war against the king at home.
The king more than once in his declarations reminded them of a speech of Pym's, which they had heard deservedly applauded when it was directed against his measures ; but which now bore against their own with greater force. “The law," said that powerful speaker, “is that which puts a difference between good and evil, just and unjust ; if you take away the law, all things will be in a confusion ; every man will become a law unto himself, which, in the depraved condition of human nature, must needs produce many great enormities. Lust will become a law, and envy will become a law, covetousness and ambition will become laws, and what dictates, what decisions such laws will produce, may easily be discerned :-it may indeed by sad instances over the whole kingdom.” And then the king set before them a picture of their own conduct, so ably and so truly drawn, that, if men were governed by their reason and not by their passions, that excellent paper alone would have given the victory over all his enemies. In another declaration the king said “whosoever harbored the least thought in his breast of ruining or violating the public liberty, or religion of the kingdom, let him be accursed; and he should be no counsellor of his that would not say Amen.” That which he charged the leaders of parliament with, “ was invading the public liberty; and his presumption might be very strong and vehement, that though they had no mind to be slaves, they were not unwilling to be tyrants. What is tyranny," said he, “but to admit no rules to govern by, but their own wills ? And they knew the misery of Athens was at the highest, when it suffered under the thirty tyrants.” Hobbes, whose resolute way of thinking was more in accord with the temper of Cromwell's government than of the king's, speaks with contempt of these declarations ; but if Charles had been served, or known how to serve himself, as ably with the sword as with the pen, the struggle would soon have been decided in his favor. What has been said of the son,* that he never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one, might more truly be said of the father : in him, however, it proceeded from what, in other times and other circumstances, would have been a virtue. In speaking, he expressed his own judgment; in acting, he yielded to that of others, and was ruined by want of confidence in himself, and by the fear of doing wrong.