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has any honor or fortune to lose, will ever engage himself in such dreadful, such unknown perils.
My lords, I have now troubled your lordships a great deal longer than I should have done. Were it not for the interest of these pledges, which a saint in heaven left me, I should be loath --" (Here he pointed to his children, and his weeping stopped him.) “What I forfeit for myself, it is nothing: but, I confess, that my indiscretion should forfeit for them, it wounds me very deeply. You will be pleased to pardon my infirmity: something I should have said ; but I see I shall not be able, and therefore I shall leave it.
“ And now, my lords, I thank God, I have been by his blessing sufficiently instructed in the extreme vanity of all temporary enjoyments, compared to the importance of our eternal duration. And so, my lords, even so, with all humility, and with all tranquillity of mind, I submit, clearly and freely, to your judgments : and whether that righteous doom shall be to life or death, I shall repose myself, full of gratitude and confidence, in the arms of the great Author of my existence.”*
Certainly” says Whitlocke,t with his usual candor, “ never any man acted such a part, on such a theatre, with more wisdom, constancy, and eloquence, with greater reason, judgment, and temper, and with a better grace in all his words and actions, than did this great and excellent person; and he moved the hearts of all his auditors, some few excepted, to remorse and pity.” It is remarkable, that the historian who expresses himself in these terms, was himself chairman of that committee which conducted the impeachment against this unfortunate statesman. The accusation and defence lasted eighteen days. The managers divided the several articles among them, and attacked the prisoner with all the weight of authority, with all the vehemence of rhetoric, with all the accuracy of long preparation. Strafford was obliged to speak with deference and reserve towards his most inveterate enemies, the commons, the Scottish nation, and the Irish parliament. He took only a very short time on each article to recollect himself: yet he alone, without assistance, mixing modesty and humility with firmness and vigor, made such a defence that the commons saw it impossible, by a legal prosecution, eyer to obtain a sentence against him.
But the death of Strafford was too important a stroke of
Rush. vol. iy. p. 659, etc.
+ Page 41.
party to be left unattempted by any expedient, however extra ordinary. Besides the great genius and authority of that minister, he had threatened some of the popular leaders with an impeachment; and, had he not himself been suddenly prevented by the impeachment of the commons, he had that very day, it was thought, charged Pym, Hambden, and others with treason, for having invited the Scots to invade England. A bill of attainder was therefore brought into the lower house immediately after finishing these pleadings; and, preparatory to it, a new proof of the earl's guilt was produced, in order to remove such scruples as might be entertained with regard to a method of proceeding so unusual and irregular.
Sir Heniy Vane; secretary, had taken some notes of a debate in council, after the dissolution of the last parliament; and being at a distance, he had sent the keys of his cabinet, as was pretended, to his son Sir Henry, in order to search for some papers which were necessary for completing a marriage settlement. Young Vane, falling upon this paper of notes, deemed the matter of the utmost importànce; and immediately communicated it to Pym, who now produced the paper before the house of commons. The question before the council was, “ Offensive or defensive war with the Scots."? The king proposes this difficulty, “ But how can I undertake offensive war, if I have no more money?" The answer ascribed to Strafford was in these words : " Borrow of the city a hundred thousand pounds: go on vigorously to levy ship money. Your majesty having tried the affections of your people, you are absolved and loose from all rules of government, and may do what power will admit. Your majesty, having tried all ways, shall be acquitted before God and man. And you have an army in Ireland, which you may employ to reduce this kingdom to obedience for I am confident the Scots cannot hold out five months." There followed some counsels of Laud and Cottington, equally violent with regard to the king's being absolved from all rules of government.
This paper, with all the circumstances of its discovery and communication, was pretended to be equivalent to two witBiesses, and to be an unanswerable proof of those pernicious counsels of Strafford which tended to the subversion of the laws and constitution. It was replied by Strafford and his
* Clarendon, vol. i. p. 223, 229, 230, etc. Whitlocke, p. 41. May
friends, that old Vane was his most inveterate and declared enemy; and if the secretary himself, as was by far most probable, had willingly delivered to his son this paper of notes, to be communicated to Pym, this implied such a breach of oaths and of trust as rendered him totally unworthy of all credit: that the secretary's deposition was at first exceedingly dubious: upon two examinations, he could not remember any such words: even the third time, his testimony was not positive, but imported only, that Strafford had spoken such or suchlike words; and words may be very like in sound, and differ much in sense ; nor ought the lives of men to depend upon grammatical criticisms of any expressions, much less of those which had been delivered by the speaker without premeditation, and committed by the hearer for any time, however short, to the uncertain record of memory: that, in the present case, changing this kingdom into that kingdom, a very slight alteration, the earl's discourse could regard nothing but Scotland, and implies no advice unworthy of an English counsellor : that even retaining the expression, this kingdom, the words may fairly be understood of Scotland, which alone was the kingdom that the debate regarded, and which alone had thrown off allegiance, and could be reduced to obedience : that it could be proved, as well by the evidence of all the king's ministers, as by the known disposition of the forces, that the intention never was to land the Irish army in England, but in Scotland : that of six other counsellors present, Laud and Windebank could give no evidence ; Northumberland, Hamilton, Cottington, and Juxón, could recollect no such expression; and the advice was too remarkable to be easily forgotten : that it was nowise probable such a desperate coun. sel would be openly delivered at the board, and before North, umberland, a person of that high rank, and whose attachments to the court were so much weaker than his connections with the country. That though Northumberland, and he alone, had recollected some such expression as that of “ being absolved from rules of government,” yet, in such desperate extremities as those into which the king and kingdom were then fallen, a maxim of that nature, allowing it to be delivered by Strafford, may be defended upon principles the most favor. able to law and hberty; and that nothing could be more iniquitous than to extract an accusation of treason from an opinion simply proposed at the council table; where all free. dom of debate ought to be permitted, and where it was no
unusual for the members, in order to draw forth the sentiments of others, to propose counsels very remote from their own secret advice and judgment.*
The evidence of Secretary Vane, though exposed. to such unsurmountable objections, was the real cause of Strafford's unhappy fate ; and made the bill of attainder pass the commons with no greater opposition than that of fifty-nine dissent ing votes. But there remained two other branches of the legislature, the king and the lords, whose assent was requisite; and these, if left to their free judgment, it was easily foreseen, would reject the bill without scruple or deliberation. To overcome this difficulty, the popular leaders employed expedients for which they were beholden partly to their own industry, partly to the indiscretion of their adversaries.
Next Sunday, after the bill passed the commons, the Puritanical pulpits resounded with declamations concerning the necessity of executing justice upon great delinquents. The populace took the alarm. About six thousand men, armed with swords and cudgels, flocked from the city, and surrounded the houses of parliament. $ The names of the fifty-nine commoners who had voted against the bill of attainder, were posted up under the title of “Straffordians, and betrayers of their country.”. These were exposed to all the insults of the ungovernable multitude. When any of the lords passed, the cry for justice against Strafford resounded in their ears; and such as were suspected of friendship to that obnoxious minister, wére sure to meet with menaces, not unaccompanied with symptoms of the most desperate resolutions in the furious populace. . Complaints in the house of commons being made against these violences, as the most flagrant breach of privilege, the ruling members, by their affected coolness and indifference, showed plainly, that the popular tumults were not disagreeable to them. But a new discovery, made about this time, served to throw every thing into still greater flame and combustion.
Some principal officers, Piercy, Jermyn, O'Neale, Goring, Wilnot, Pollard, Ashburnham, partly attached to the court, partly disgusted with the parliament, had formed a plan of engaging into the king's service the English army, whom they observed to be displeased at some marks of preference given by the commons to the Scots. For this purpose, they entered into an association, took an oath of secrecy, and kept a close correspondence with some of the king's servants. The form of a petition to the king and parliament was concerted; and it was intended to get this petition subscribed by the army. The petitioners there represent the great and unexampled concessions made by the king for the security of public peace and liberty; the endless demands of certain insatiable and turbulent spirits, whom nothing less will content than a total subversion of the ancient constitution ; the frequent tumults which these : factious malecontents had excited, and which endangered the liberty of parliament. To prevent these mischiefs, the army offered to come up and guard that assembly
* Rush. vol. iv. p. 560.
if Whitlocke, p. 43. Whitlocke, p. 43. Clarendon, vol. i. p. 232, 256. Rush. vol. V. p. 248, 1279. Whitlocke, ut supra.
So shall the nation," as they express themselves in the con clusion, “not only be vindicated from preceding innovations but be secured from the future, which are threatened, and which are likely to produce more dangerous effects than the former." * The draught of this petition being conveyed to the king, he was prevailed on, somewhat imprudently, to countersign it himself, as a mark of his approbation. But as several difficulties occurred, the project was laid aside two months before any public discovery was made of it. It was Goring who betrayed the secret to the popular lead
The alarm may easily be imagined which this intelligence conveyed. Petitions from the military to the civil power are always looked on as disguised or rather undisguised commands, and are of a nature widely different from petitions presented by any other rank of men. Pym opened the matter in the house.f On the first intimation of a discovery, Piercy concealed himself, and Jermyn withdrew beyond sea. This further confirmed the suspicion of a dangerous conspiracy. Goring delivered his evidence before the house : Piercy wrote a letter to his brother, Northumberland, confessing most of the particulars. Both their testimonies agree with regard to the oath of secrecy; and as this circumstance had been denied by Pollard, Ashburnham, and Wilmot, in all their examinations, it was regarded as a new proof of some desperate resolutions which had been taken.
To convey more quickly the terror and indignation at this
* Clarendon, vol. i. p. 247. Whitlocke, p. 43. + Rush. vol, V. p. 240.
I Rush, vol. v. p. 255.