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very unequal contest; yet such were the capacity, genius, presence of mind, displayed by this magnanimous statesman, that, while argument, and reason, and law had any place, he obtained an undisputed victory. And ne perished at last, overwhelmed, and still unsubdued, by the open violence of his fierce and unrelenting antagonists.
The articles of impeachment against Strafford are twentyeight in number; and regard his conduct, as president of the council of York, as deputy or lieutenant of Ireland, and as counsellor or commander in England. But, though four months were employed by the managers in framing the accusation, and all Strafford's answers were extemporary, it appears from comparison, not only that he was free from the crime of treason, of which there is not the least appearance, but that his conduct, making allowance for human infirmities, exposed to such severe scrutiny, was innocent, and even laudable.
The powers of the northern council, while he was president, had been extended by the king's instructions beyond what formerly had been practised: but that court being at first instituted by a stretch of royal prerogative, it had been usual for the prince to vary his instructions; and the largest authority and most limited. Nor was it reasonable to conclude, that Strafford had used any art to procure those extensive powers ; since he never once sat as president, or exercised one act of jurisdiction, after he was invested with the authority so much complained of.*
In the government of Ireland, his administration had been equally promotive of his master's interest, and that of the subjerts committed to his care. A large debt he had paid off: he had left a considerable sum in the exchequer : the revenue, which never before answered the charges of government, was now raised to be equal to them. A small standing army, formerly kept in no order, was augmented, and was governed by exact discipline ; and a great force was there raised and paid for the support of the king's authority against the Scottish Covenanters.
Industry and all the arts of peace were introduced among that rude people; the shipping of the kingdom augmented a
* Rush. vol. iy. p. 145.
hủndred fold; * the customs tripled upon the same rates : 4 the exports double in value to the imports; manufactures, particularly that of linen, introduced and promoted; I agriculture, by means of the English and Scottish plantations, gradually advancing; the Protestant religion encouraged, without the persecution or discontent of the Catholics.
The springs of authority he had enforced without overstrain. ing them. Discretionary acts of jurisdiction, indeed, he had often exerted, by holding courts martial, billetting soldiers, deciding causes upon paper petitions before the council, issuing proclamations, and punishing their infraction. But discretionary authority during that age was usually exercised even in England. In Ireland, it was still more requisite, among a rude people, not yet thoroughly subdued, averse to the religion and manners of their conquerors, ready on all occasions to relapse into rebellion and disorder. While the managers of the commons demanded every moment, that the deputy's conduct should be examined by the line of rigid law and severe principles, he appealed still to the practice of all former deputies, and to the uncontrollable necessity of his situation.
So great was his art of managing elections and balancing parties, that he had engaged the Irish parliament to vote whatever was necessary, both for the payment of former debts, and for support of the new-levied army ; nor had he ever been reduced to the illegal expedients practised in England for the supply of public necessities. No imputation of rapacity could justly lie against his administration. Some instances of imperious expressions, and even actions, may be met with. The case of Lord Mountnorris, of all those which were collected with so much industry, is the most flagrant and the least excusable.
It had been reported at the table of Lord Chancellor Loftus, that Annesley, one of the deputy's attendants, in moving a stool, had sorely hurt his master's foot, who was at that time afflicted with the gout. “Perhaps," said Mountnorris, who was present at table, “it was done in revenge of that public affront which my lord deputy formerly put upon him: but he has a brother who would not have taken such a revenge. This casual, and seemingly innocent, at least ambiguous expression, was reported to Strafford; who, on pretence that
of Rush. vol. iv. p. 124.
* Nalson, vol. ii. p. 45. * Warwick, p. 1:15.
such a suggestion might prompt Annesley to avenge himself in another manner, ordered Mountnorris, who was an officer, to be tried by a court martial for mutiny and sedition against his general. The court, which consisted of the chief officers of the army, found the crime to be capital, and condemned that nobleman to lose his head.
În vain did Strafford plead in his own defence against this article of impeachment, that the senterfce of Mountnorris was the deed, and that too unanimous, of the court, not the act of the deputy; that he spake not to a member of the court, nor voted in the cause, but sat uncovered as a party, and then immediately withdrew, to leave them to their freedom; that, sensible of the iniquity of the sentence, he procured his majesty's free pardon to Mountnorris ; and that he did not évén keep that nobleman a moment in suspense with regard to his fate, but instantly told him, that he himself would sooner lose his right hand than execute such a sentence, nor was his lordship's life in any danger. In vain did Strafford's friends add, as a further apology, that Mountnorris was a man of an infamous character, who paid court by the lowest adulation to all deputies while present, and blackened their character by the vilest calumnies when recalled; and that Strafford, expecting like treatment, had used this expedient for no other purpose than to subdue the petulant spirit of the man. These excuses alleviate the guilt; but there still remains enough to prove, that the mind of the deputy, though great and firm, had been not a little debauched by the riot of absolute power and uncontrolled authority.
When Strafford was called over to England, he found every thing falling into such confusion, by the open rebellion of the Scots, and the secret discontents of the English, that, if he had counselled or executed any violent measure, he might perhaps have been able to apologize for his conduct from the great law of necessity, which admits not, while the necessity is extreme, of any scruple, ceremony, or delay.* But, in fact, no illegal advice or action was proved against him; and the whole amount of his guilt, during this period, was some peevish, or at most imperious expressions, which, amidst such desperate extremities, and during a bad state of health, had unhappily fallen from him.
If Strafford's apology was in the main so satisfactory when
* Rush. vol. iv. p. 187.
† Rush. vol. iv. p. 559.
he pleaded to each particular article of the charge, his victory was still more decisive when he brought the whole together, and repelled the imputation of treason; the crime which the commons would infer from the full view of his conduct and behavior. Of all species of guilt, the law of England had with the most scrupulous exactness defined that of treason; because on that side it was found most necessary to protect the subject against the violence of the king and of his ministers. In the famous statute of Edward III., all the kinds of treason are enumerated ; and every other crime, besides such as are there expressly mentioned, is carefully excluded from that appellation. But with regard to this guilt, “ an endeavor to subvert the fundamental laws,” the statute of treasons is totally silent: and arbitrarily to introduce it into the fatal catalogue, is itself a subversion of all law; and under color of defending iberty, reverses a statute the best calculated for the security of liberty that had ever been enacted by an English par liament.
As this species of treason, discovered by the commons, is entirely new and unknown to the laws, so is the species of proof by which they pretend to fix that guilt upon the prisoner. They have invented a kind of accumulative or constructive evidence, by which many actions either totally innocent in themselves, or criminal in a much inferior degree, shall, when united, amount to treason, and subject the person to the high est penalties inflicted by the law. A hasty and unguarded word, a rash and passionate action, assisted by the malevolent fancy of the accuser, and tortured by doubtful constructions, is transmuted into the deepest guilt; and the lives and fortunes of the whole nation, no longer protected by justice, are sub jected to arbitrary will and pleasure.
“ Where has this species of guilt lain so long concealed ? said Strafford in conclusion.
66 Where has this fire been so long buried during so many centuries, that no smoke should appear till it burst out at once to consume me and
children? Better it were to live under no law at all, and by the maximns of cautious prudence to conform ourselves the best we can to the arbitrary will of a master, than fancy we have a law on which we can rely, and find at last, that this law shall inflict a punishment precedent to the promulgation, and try us by màxims unheard of till the very moment of the prosecution. If I sail on the Thames, and split my vessel on an
anchor; in case there be no buoy to give warning, the party shall pay me damages : but if the anchor be marked out, then is the striking on it at my own peril. Where is the mark set upon this crime? where the token by which I should discover it? It has lain concealed under water; and no human prudence, no human innocence, could save me from the destruction with which I am at present threatened.
“ It is now full two hundred and forty years since treasons were defined ; and so long has it been since any man was touched to this extent upon this crime before myself. We have lived, my lords, happily to ourselves at home : we have lived gloriously abroad to the world : let us be content with what our fathers have left us : let not our ambition carry us to be more learned than they were in these killing and destructive arts. Great wisdom it will be in your lordships, and just providence for yourselves, for your posterities, for the whole kingdom, to cast from you into the fire these bloody and mysterious volumes of arbitrary and constructive treasons, as the primitive Christians did their books of curious arts, and betake yourselves to the plain letter of the statute, which tells you
where the crime is, and points out to you the path by which you may avoid it.
“Let us not, to our own destruction, awake those sleeping lions, by rattling up a company of old records which have lain for so many ages by the wall, forgotten and neglected. To all my afflictions, add not this, my lords, the most severe of any; that I, for my other sins, not for my treasons, be the means of introducing a precedent so pernicious to the laws und liberties of my native country.
“However, these gentlemen at the bar say they speak for the commonwealth, and they believe so; yet, under favor, it is I who, in this particular, speak for the commonwealth. Precedents like those which are endeavored to be established against me, must draw along such inconveniencies and miseries, that in a few years the kingdom will be in the condition expressed in a statute of Henry IV.; and no man shall know by what rule to govern his words and actions.
Impose not, my lords, difficulties insurmountable upon ministers of state, nor disable them from serving with cheerfulness their king and country. If you examine them, and under such severe penalties, by every grain, by every little weight, the scrutiny will be intolerable. The public affairs of the kingdom must be left waste ; and no wise man, who