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hostile intention against the Hugonots; that, were it otherwise, yet might their measures be justified by the most obvious and most received maxims of civil policy ; that, if the force of Spain were really so-exorbitant as the commons imagined, the French monarch was the only prince that could oppose its progress, and preserve the balance of Europe ; that his power was at present fettered by the Hugonots, who, being possessed of many privileges, and even of fortified towns, formed an empire within his empire, and kept him in perpetual jealousy and inquietude ; that an insurrection had been at that time wantonly' and voluntarily formed by their leaders, who, being disgusted in some court intrigue, took advantage of the neverfailing pretence of religion, in order to cover their rebellion; that the Dutch, influenced by these views, had ordered a squadron of twenty ships to join the French fleet employed against the inhabitants of Rochelle ;* that the Spanish monarch, sensible of the same consequences, secretly supported the Protestants in France; and that all princes had ever sacrificed to reasons of state the interests of their religion in foreign countries. All these obvious considerations had no influence. Great murmurs and discontents still prevailed in parliament. The Hugonots, though they had no ground of complaint against the French court, were thought to be as much entitled to assistance from England, as if they had taken arms in defence of their liberties and religion against the persecuting, rage of the Catholics. And it plainly appears from this incident, as well as from many others, that, of all European nations, the British were at that time, and till long after, the most under the influence of that religious spirit which tends rather to inflame bigotry than increase peace and mutual charity.
On this occasion, the commons renewed their eternal complaints against the growth of Popery, which was ever the chief of their grievances, and now their only one.t They demanded à strict execution of the penal laws against the Catholics, and remonstrated against some late pardons granted to priests. They attacked Montague, one of the king's chaplains, on account of a moderate book which he had lately published, and which, to their great disgust, saved virtuous Catholics, as well as other Christians, from eternal torments.s Charles * Journ. 18th April, 1626.
Franklyn, p. 3, etc. I Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 374. Journ. Ist Aug. 1625.
Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 353. Journ. 7th July, 1625.
gave them a gracious and a compliant answer to all their
He was, however, in his heart, extremely averse to these furious measures. Though a determined Protestant, by principle as well as inclination, he had .entertained no violent horror against Popery: and a little humanity, he thought, was due by the nation to the religion of their
That degree of liberty which is now indulged to Catholics, though a party much more obnoxious than during the reign of the Stuarts, it suited neither with Charles's sentiments nor the humor of the age to allow them. An abatement of the more rigorous laws was all he intended; and his engagements with France, notwithstanding that their regular execution had never been promised or expected, required of him some indulgence. But so unfortunate was this prince, that no measure embraced during his whole reign, was ever attended with more unhappy and more fatal consequences.
The extreme rage against Popery was a sure characteristic of Puritanism. The house of commons discovered other infallible symptoms of the prevalence of that party. They petitioned the king for replacing such able clergy as had been silenced for want of conformity to the ceremonies.* They also enacted laws for the strict observance of Sunday, which the Puritans affected to call the Sabbath, and which they sanctified by the most melancholy indolence. It is to be remarked, that the different appellations of this festival were at that time known symbols of the different parties.
The king, finding that the parliament was resolved to grant him no supply, and would furnish him with nothing but emộty protestations of duty, or disagreeable complaints of grievances, took advantage of the plague, which began to appear at Oxford, and on that pretence immediately dissolved them. By finishing the session with a dissolution, instead of a prorogation, he sufficiently expressed his displeasure at their conduct.
To supply the want of parliamentary aids, Charles issued * Rushworth, vol. i. p. 281. of 1 Car. I. cap. 1. Journ. 21st June, 1625. | Franklyn, p. 113. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 190.
§ The plague was really so yiolent, that it had been moved in the housę, at the beginning of the session, to petition the king to adjourn them. (Journ. 21st June, 1625.) So it was impossible to enter upon grievances, even if there had been any. The only business of the parliament was to give supply, which was so much wanted by the king, in order to carry on the war in which they had engaged hinn
privy seals for borrowing money from his subjects. The advantage reaped by this expedient was a small compensation for the disgust which it occasioned. By means, however, of that supply, and by other expedients, he was, though with difficulty, enabled to equip his fleet. It consisted of eighty vessels, great and small; and carried on board an army of ten thousand men. Sir Edward Cecil, lately created Viscount Wimbleton, was intrusted with the command. He sailed im. mediately for Cadiz, and found the bay full of Spanish ships of great value. He either neglected to attack these ships or attempted it preposterously. The army was landed, and a fort taken; but the undisciplined soldiers, finding store of wine, could not be restrained from the utmost excesses. Further stay appearing fruitless, they were reëmbarked; and the fleet put to sea with an intention of intercepting the Spanish galleons. But the plague having seized the seamen and soldiers, they were obliged to abandon all hopes of this prize, and return to England. Loud complaints were made against the court for intrusting so important a command to a man like Cecil, whom, though he possessed great experience, the people, judging by the event, esteemed of slender capacity.t
[1626.] Charles, having failed of so rich a prize, was obliged again to have recourse to a parliament. Though the ill success of his enterprises diminished his authority, and showed every day more plainly the imprudence of the Spanish war ; though the increase of his necessities rendered him more dependent, and more exposed to the encroachments re little political art, which at that time he practised, was much trusted to. He had named four popular leaders, sheriffs of counties; Sir Edward Coke, Sir Robert Philips, Sir Thomas Wentworth, and Sir Francis Seymour ; and, though the ques. tion had been formerly much contested, he thought that he had by that means incapacitated them from Leing elected members. But his intention, being so evident, rather put the commons more upon their guard. Enow of patriots still
* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 192. Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 407. † Franklyn, p. 113. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 196.
I It is always an express clause in the writ of summons, that no sheriff shall be chosen ; but the contrary practice had often prevailed. D'Ewes, p. 38. Yet still great doubts were entertained on this head. Sée Journ. 9th April, 1614.
remained to keep up the ill humor of the house'; and men needed but little instruction or rhetoric to recommend to them practices which increased their own importance and consideration. The weakness of the court, also, could not more evidently appear, than by its being reduced to use so ineffectuæl an expedient, in order to obtain an influence over the
The views, therefore, of the last parliament were immediately adopted ; as if the same men had been every where elected, and no time hàd intervened since their meeting. When the king laid before the house his necessities, and asked for supply, they immediately voted him three subsidies and three fifteenths; and though they afterwards added one subsidy more, the sum was little proportioned to the greatness of the occasion, and ill fitted to promote those views of success and glory, for which the young prince, in his first enterprise, so ardently longed. But this circumstance was not the most disagreeable one. The supply was only voted by the commons. The passing of that vote into a law was reserved till the end of the session.* A condition was thereby made, in a very undisguised manner, with their sovereign. Under color of redressing grievances, which during this short reign could not be very numerous, they were to proceed in regulating and controlling every part of government which displeased
and if the king either cut them short in this undertaking, or refused compliance with their demands, he must not expect any supply from the commons. Great dissatisfaction was expressed by Charles at a treatment which he deemed so. harsh and undutiful. But his urgent necessities obliged him to submit; and he waited with patience, observing to what side they would turn themselves.
The duke of Buckingham, formerly obnoxious to the public, became every day more unpopular, by the symptoms which appeared both of his want of temper and prudence, and of the uncontrolled ascendant which he had acquired over his master. Two violent attacks he was obliged this session
* Journ. 27th March, 1626.
224. I His credit with the king had given him such influence, that he nad no less than twenty proxies granted him this parliament by so many peers ; which occasioned a vote, that no peer should have above two proxies. The earl of Leicester, in 1585, had once ten proxies. D'Ewes, p. 314.
to sustain; one from the earl of Bristol, another from the house of commons.
As long as James lived, Bristol, secure of the concealed favor of that monarch, had expressed all duty and obedience ; in expectation that an opportunity would offer of reinstating himself in his former credit and authority. Even after Charles's accession he despaired not.
He submitted to the king's commands of remaining at his country seat, and of absenting himself from parliament.. Many trials he made to regain the good opinion of his master ; but finding them all fruitless, and observing Charles to be entirely governed by Buckingham, his implacable enemy, he resolved no longer to keep any measures with the court. A new spirit he saw, and a new power arising in the nation; and to these he was determined for the future to trust for his security and protection.
When the parliament was summoned, Charles, by a stretch of prerogative, had given orders that no writ, as is customary, should be sent to Bristol.* That nobleman applied to the house of lords by petition; and craved their good offices with the king for obtaining what was his due as a peer of the realm. His writ was sent him, but accompanied with a letter from the lord keeper Coventry, commanding him, in the king's name, to absent himself from parliament. This letter Bristol conveyed to the lords, and asked advice how to proceed in so delicate a situation.* The king's prohibition was withdrawn, and Bristol took his seat. Provoked at these repeated instances of vigor, which the court denominated contumacy, Charles ordered his attorney-general to enter an accusation of high treason against him. By way of recrimination, Bristol accused Buckingham of high treason. Both the earl's defence of himself and accusation of the duke remain; I and, together with some original letters still extant, contain the fullest and most authentic account of all the negotiations with the house of Austria. From the whole, the great imprudence of the duke evidently appears, and the sway of his ungovernable passions; but it would be difficult to collect thence any action which, in the eye of the law, could be deemed a crime ; much less could subject him to the penalty of treason.
The impeachment of the commons was still less dangerous * Rushworth, vol. i. p. 236. † Rushworth, vol. i. p. 237. Franklyn, p. 120, etc. * Rushworth, vol. i. p. 256, 262, 263, etc. Franklyn, p. 123, etc.