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and he had ever dissuaded his master against the late treaty and suspension of arms, which he regarded as dangerous and lishonorable. So avowed and violent were the Scots in their esentment of all these measures, that they had refused to end commissioners to treat at York, as was at first proposed ; jecause, they said, the lieutenant of Ireland, their capital eneruy, being general of the king's forces, had there the chief command and authority.
Strafford, first as deputy, then as lord lieutenant, had governed Ireland during eight years with great vigilance, activity, and prudence, but with very little popularity. In a nation so averse to the English government and religion, these very virtues were sufficient to draw on him the public hatred. The manners too and character of this great man, though to all full of courtesy, and to his friends full of affection, were at bottom haughty, rigid, and severe. His authority and influence during the time of his government had been unlimited ; but no sooner did adversity seize him, than the concealed aversion of the nation blazed up at once, and the Irish parliament used every expedient to aggravate the charge against him.
The universal discontent which prevailed in England against the court, was all pointed towards the earl of Strafford ; though without any particular reason, but because he was the minister of state whom the king most favored and most trusted. His extraction was honorable, his paternal fortune considerable : yet envy attended his sudden and great elevation. And his former associates in popular counsels, finding that he uwed his advancement to the desertion of their cause, represented him as the great apostate of the commonwealth, whom it behoved them to sacrifice as a victim to public justice.
Strafford, sensible of the load of popular prejudices under which he labored, would gladly have declined attendance in parliament, and he begged the king's permission to withdraw himself to his government of Ireland, at least to remain at the head of the army in Yorkshire ; where many opportunities, he hoped, would offer, by reason of his distance, to elude the attacks of his enemies. But Charles, who had entire confidence in the earl's capacity, thought that his counsels would be extremely useful during the critical session which approached. And when Strafford still insisted on the danger of his appearing amidst so many enraged enemies, the king, little apprehensive that his own authority was so suddenly to expire, promised him protection, and assured him that not a hair of his head should be touched by the parliament.*
No sooner was Strafford's arrival known, than a concerted attack was made upon him in the house of commons. Pym, in a long studied discourse, divided into many heads, after his manner, enumerated all the grievances under which the nation labored ; and, from a complication of such oppressions, inferred that a deliberate plan had been formed of changing entirely the frame of government, and subverting the ancient laws and liberties of the kingdom. Could any thing, he said, increase our indignation against so enormous and criminal a project, it would be to find that, during the reign of the best of princes, the constitution had been endangered by the worst of ministers, and that the virtues of the king had been seduced by wicked and pernicious counsel. We must inquire, added he, from what fountain these waters of bitterness flow; and though doubtless many evil counsellors will be found to have contributed their endeavors, yet there is one who challenges the infamous preëminence, and who, by his courage, enterprise, and capacity, is entitled to the first place among these betrayers of their country. He is the earl of Strafford, lieutenant of Ireland, and president of the council of York, who, in both places, and in all other provinces where he has been intrusted with authority, has raised ample monuments of tyranny, and will appear, from a survey of his actions, to be the chief promoter of every arbitrary counsel. Some instances of imperious expressions, as well as actions, were given by Pym; who afterwards entered into a more personal attack of that minister, and endeavored to expose his whole character and manners. The austere genius of Strafford, occupied in the pursuits of ambition, had not rendered his breast altogether inaccessible to the tender passions, or secured him from the dominion of the fair; and in that sullen age, when the irregularities of pleasure were more reproachful than the most odious crimes, these weaknesses were thought worthy of being mentioned, together with his treasons, before so great an assembly. And, upon the whole, the orator concluded, that it belonged to the house to provide a remedy proportionablo to the disease, and to prevent the further mischiefs justly to be apprehended from the influence which this man had acquired over the measures and counsels of their sovereign. I
* Whitlocke, p. 36. + Clarendon. vol. j.
† Whitlocke, M. 36.
Sir John Clotworthy, an Irish gentleman, Sir John Hotham of Yorkshire, and many others, entered into the same topics ; and after several hours spent in bitter invective, when the doors were locked, in order to prevent all discovery of their purpose, it was moved, in consequence of the resolution secretly taken, that Strafford should immediately be impeached of high treason. This motion was received with universal approbation ; nor was there, in all the debate, one person who offered to stop the torrent by any testimony in favor of the earl's conduct. Lord Falkland alone, though known to be his enemy, modestly desired the house to consider whether it would not better suit the gravity of their proceedings, first to digest by a committee many of those particulars which had been mentioned, before they sent up an accusation against him. It was ingeniously answered by Pym, that such a delay might probably blast all their hopes, and put it out of their power to proceed any further in the prosecution : that when Strafford should learn that so many of his enormities were discovered, his conscience would dictate his condemnation ; and so great was his power and credit, he would immediately procure the dissolution of the parliament, or attempt some other desperate measure for his own preservation : that the commons were only accusers, not judges ; and it was the province of the peers to determine whether such a complication of enormous crimes in one person, did not amount to the highest crime known by the law. Without further debate, the impeachment was voted : Pym was chosen to carry it up to the lords : most of the house accompanied him on so agreeable an errand ; and Strafford, who had just entered the house of peers, and who little expected so speedy a prosecution was immediately, upon this general charge, ordered into custody, with several symptoms of violent prejudice in his judges as well as in his prosecutors.
In the inquiry concerning grievances, and in the censure of past measures, Laud could not long escape the severe scrutiny of the commons; who were led too, in their accusation of that prelate, as well by their prejudices against his whole order, as by the extreme antipathy which his intemperate zeal had drawn upon him. After a deliberation which scarcely lasted half an hour, an impeachment of high treason was voted against this subject, the first both in rank and in
Clarendon, vol. i. p. 174.
favor throughout the kingdom. Though this incident, coll. sidering the example of Strafford's impeachment, and the present disposition of the nation and parliament, needed be no surprise to him, yet was he betrayed into some passion when the accusation was presented. “The commons themselves," he said, “ though his accusers, did not believe him guilty of the crimes with which they charged him ; "an indiscretion which, next day, upon more mature deliberation, he desired leave to retract; but so little favorable were the
that they refused him this advantage or indulgence. Laud also was immediately, upon this general charge, sequestered from parliament, and committed to custody.
The capital article insisted on against these two great men, was the design. which the commons supposed to have been formed of subverting the laws and constitution of England, and introducing arbitrary and unlimited authority into the kingdom. Of all the king's ministers, no one was so obnoxious in this respect as the lord keeper Finch. He it was who, being speaker in the king's third parliament, had left the chair, and refused to put the question when ordered by the house. The extrajudicial opinion of the judges in the case of ship money had been procured by his intrigues, persuasions, and even menaces. In all unpopular and illegal measures, he was ever most active; and he was even believed to have declared publicly, that, while he was keeper, an order of council should always with him be equivalent to a law.
appease the rising displeasure of the commons, he desired to be heard at their bar. He prostrated himself with all humility before them; but this submission availed him nothing. An impeachment was resolved on; and in order to escape their fury, he thought proper secretly to withdraw, and retire into Holland. As he was not esteemed equal to Strafford, or even to Laud, either in capacity or in fidelity to his master, it was generally believed that his escape had been connived at by the popular leaders. His impeachment, however, in his absence, was carried up to the house of peers.
Sir Francis Windebank, the secretary, was a creature of Laud's; a sufficient reason for his being extremely obnoxious to the commons. He was secretly suspected too of the crime
Clarendon, vol. i. p. 177. Whitlocke, p. 38. Rush. vol. iä. of Clarendon, vol. i. p. 177. Whitlocke, p. 38. Rush. vol. i. p. 129, 136.
of Popery; and it was known that, from complaisance to the queen, and indeed in compliance with the king's maxims of government, he had granted many indulgences to Catholics, and had signed warrants for the pardon of priests, and their delivery from confinement. Grimstone, a popular member, called him, in the house, the very pander and broker to the whore of Babylon.* Finding that the scrutiny of the commons was pointing towards him, and being sensible that England was no longer a place of safety for men of his character, he suddenly made his escape into France.*
Thus in a few weeks this house of commons, not opposed, or rather seconded by the peers, had produced such a revolution in the government, that the two most powerful and most favored ministers of the king were thrown into the Tower, and daily expected to be tried for their life : two other ministers had, by flight alone, saved themselves from a like fate : all the king's servants saw that no protection could be given them by their master: a new jurisdiction was erected in the nation; and before that tribunal all those trembled who had before exulted most in their credit and authority.
What' rendered the power of the commons more formidable was, the extreme prudence with which it was conducted. Not content with the authority which they had acquired by attacking these great ministers, they were resolved to render the most considerable bodies of the nation obnoxious to them. Though the idol of the people, they determined to fortify themselves likewise with terrors, and to overawe those who might still be inclined to support the falling ruins of monarchy.
During the late military operations, several powers had been exercised by the lieutenants and deputy lieutenants of counties; and these powers, though nucessary for the defence of the nation, and even warranted by all former precedent, yet not being authorized by statute, were now voted to be illegal, and the persons who had assumed them declared delinquents. This term was newly come into vogue, and expressed a degree and species of guilt not exactly known or ascertained. In consequence of that determination, many of the nobility and prime gentry of the nation, while only exert ing as they justly thought, the legal powers of magistracy,
* Rush. vol. V. p. 122.
* Clarendon, vol. i. p. 178. Whitlocke, p. 37. VOL. V.