Abbildungen der Seite

man, has some remarks


the conduct of the parliament, drawn up with his characteristic candor. “ A man shall not unprofitably spend his contemplation, that, upon this occasion, considers the method of God's justice (a method terribly remarkable in many passages, and upon many persons, which we shall be compelled to remember in this discourse), that the same principles, and the same application of those principles, should be used to the wresting all sovereign power from the crown,

which the crown had a little before made use of for the extending its authority and power beyond its bounds, to the prejudice of the just rights of the subject. A supposed necessity was then thought ground enough to create a power, and a bare averment of that necessity, to beget a practice to impose what tax they thought convenient upon the subject, by writs of ship-money never before known; and a supposed necessity now, and a bare averment of that necessity, is as confidently, and more fatally, concluded a good ground, to exclude the crown from the use of any power, by an ordinance never before heard of; and the same maxim of salus populi suprema lex, which had been used to the infringing the liberty of the one, made use of for the destroying the rights of the other.” Reflections of this kind must often have arisen in the mind of Charles himself. When, in his father's lifetime, taking part in Buckingham's animosities,

he promoted the impeachment of the earls of Bristol and Middlesex, James said to him, with a foresight which has almost a prophetic character, that he would live to have his belly full of parliamentary impreachments.* But he was always more sinned against than sinning: the most unjustifiable of his measures proceeded from a mistaken judgment, not an evil intention; the most unpopular of them, and that which gave the greatest advantage to his enemies (the accusation of the six members), plainly arose from a perfect confidence in his own rectitude, and the goodness of his


The melancholy warning which James gave his son proved the sagacity of that king, whose talents it has been too much the custom to decry. There is an expression of Laud's which bears with it even more of a prophetic appearance, from the accidental turn of the sentence. “ At this time, the parliament tendered two, and but two bills to the king to sign: this to cut off Strafford's head was one ; and the other was that this parliament should neither be dissolved nor adjourned, but by the consent of both houses : in which, what he cut off from . himself, time will better show than I can. God bless, the king and his royal issue !" Charles's feelings upon that fatal bill which perpetuated the parliament, and thereby in fact transferred the [*Clar. Hist., ed. 1826, vol. i., p. 41.]

sovereignty to it, are well stated in the Eww Baoilikn.* “ By this act of the highest confidence, I hoped for ever to shut out and lock the door upon all present jealousies and future mistakes : I confess I did not thereby intend to shut myself out of doors, as some men have now requited me. A continual parliament, I thought, would but keep the commonweal in tune, by preserving laws in their due execution and vigor, within my interest lies more than any man’s, since by those laws my rights as a king would be preserved, no less than my subjects ; which is all I desired. More than the law gives me I would not have, and less the meanest subject should not. I can not say prop

* The authenticity of this Book has been attacked and de. fended with such cogent arguments and strong assertions, that as far as relates to external proofs, perhaps there is scarcely any other question in bibliography so doubtful. The internal evidence is wholly in its favor. Had it been the work of Gauden, or of any person writing to support the royal cause, a higher tone concerning episcopacy and prerogative would have been taken ; there would have been more effort at justi. fication; and there would not have been that inefficient but conscientious defence of fatal concessions; that penitent con. fession of sin where weakness had been sinful; that piety without alloy ; that character of mild and even magnanimity; and that heavenly-mindedness, which render the Ewwy Bacidern one of the most interesting books in our language.

[There is a very little testimony on Gauden's side (strictly speaking, perhaps, none at all), except his own .... There is a mass of testimony which shows that the king had the book continually in his hand, revised it much, and had many transcripts of it.-SOUTHEY, Quar. Rev., No. lxxiii., p. 249.]



erly that I repent of that act, since I have no reflections upon it as a sin of my will, though an error of too charitable a judgment.”

Charles appealed to that act with great force as a proof that he had no intention of recurring to Sure,” he says,

“ it had argued a very short sight of things, and extreme fatuity of mind in me, so far to bind my own hands at their request, if I had shortly meant to use a sword against them.” When Hampden spoke of the part which Cromwell might be expected to bear, in case they should come to a breach with the king, he deprecated such an event. But Hampden's studies were rather how to direct a civil war, than to avert one. Davila's history was so often in his hands, that it was called Colonel Hampden's prayer-book. The truth is, that a few men of daring spirit, great ability, and great popularity, some calling themselves saints because they were schismatics, others styling themselves philosophers because they were unbelievers, had determined to overthrow the existing government in church and state; which they knew to be feasible, because circumstances favored them, and they scrupled at nothing to bring about their end. Their plan was to force from the king all they could, and when they should have disarmed him of all power and means for the struggle, then to provoke him by insults and unreasonable demands, till he should

appeal to the sword. This Charles himself saw. “ A grand maxim with them was,” he says, “always to ask something which in reason and honor must be denied, that they might have some color to refuse all that was in other things granted; setting peace at as high a rate as the worst effects of war; endeavoring first to make me destroy myself by dishonorable concessions, that so they might have the less to do." The English," says Hobbes, “ would never have taken well that the parliament should make war upon the king upon any provocation, unless it were in their own defence, in case the king should first make war upon them; and therefore it behooved them to provoke the king, that he might do something that might look like hostility.”—“ Therefore,” he elsewhere adds, “they resolved to proceed with him like skilful hunters, first to single him out by men disposed in all parts, to drive him into the open field, and then in case he should but seem to turn head, to call that a making of war against the parliament."

Never was poor prince more miserably unprepared for such a contest than Charles, when he had no other alternative than to descend into the pit which his enemies had dug for him, or to raise his standard. When that determination was taken he had not one barrel of gunpowder, nor one musket, nor any other provision necessary for an army; and, which was worse, was not sure of any


[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »