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to the duke, were it estimated by the standard of law and equity. The house, after having voted, upon some queries of Dr. Turner's," that common fame was a sufficient ground of accusation by the commons," * proceeded to frame regular articles against Buckingham. They accused him of having united many offices in his person ; of having bought two of them; of neglecting to guard the seas, insomuch that many merchant ships had fallen into the hands of the enemy; of delivering ships to the French king in order to serve against the Hugonots; of being employed in the sale of honors and pffices of accepting extensive grants from the crown; of procuring many titles of honor for his kindred; and of administering physic to the late king without acquainting his physicians. All these articles appear, from comparing the accusation and reply, to be either frivolous or false, or both.t The only charge which could be regarded as important, was, that he had extorted a sum of ten thousand pounds from the East India company, and that he had confiscated some goods belonging to French merchants, on prețence of their being the property of Spanish. The impeachment never came to a full determination, so that it is difficult for us to give a decisive opinion with regard to these articles : but it must be confessed that the duke's answer in these particulars, as in all the rest, is so clear and satisfactory, that it is impossible to refuse our assent to it. His faults and blemishes were, in many respects, very great; but rapacity and avarice were vices with which he was entirely unacquainted.
It is remarkable that the commons, though so much at a loss to find articles of charge against Buckingham, never adopted Bristol's accusation, or impeached the duke for his conduct in the Spanish treaty, the most blamable circumstance in his whole life. He had reason to believe the Spaniards sincere in their professions ; yet, in order to gratify his private passions, he had hurried his master and his country into a war pernicious to the interests of both. But so rivetted throughout the nation were the prejudices with regard to Spanish deceit and falsehood, that very few of the commons seem as yet to have been convinced that they had been seduced by Buckingham's narrative : a certain proof that a discovery
* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 217. Whitlocke, p. 5. * Rushworth, vol. i. p. 306, etc., 375, etc. Journ. 25th March, I Whitlocke, p.7.
of this nature was not, as is imagined by several historians, the cause of so sudden and surprising a variation in the measures of the parliament.*
While the commons were thus warmly engaged against Buckingham, the king seemed desirous of embracing every opportunity by which he could express a contempt and disregard for them. No one was at that time sufficiently sensible of the great weight which the commons bore in the balance of the constitution. The history of England had never hitherto afforded one instance where any great movement or revolution had proceeded from the lower house. And as their rank, both considered in a body and as individuals, was but the second in the kingdom, nothing less than fatal experience could engage the English princes to pay a due regard to the inclinations of that formidable assembly.
The earl of Suffolk, chancellor of the university of Cambridge, dying about this time, Buckingham, though lying under impeachment, was yet, by means of court interest, chosen in his place. The commons resented and loudly complained of this affront; and the more to enrage them, the king himself wrote a letter to the university, extolling the duke, and giving them thanks for his election.f
The lord keeper, in the king's name, expressly commanded the house not to meddle with his minister and servant, Buckingham; and ordered them to finish, in a few days, the bill which they had begun for the subsidies, and to make some addition to them; otherwise they must not expect to sit any longer. And though these harsh commands were endeavored to be explained and mollified, a few days after, by a speech of Buckingham's,ợ they failed not to leave a disagreeable impression behind them.
Besides a more stately style which Charles in general affected to this parliament than to the last, he went so far, in a message, as to threaten the commons that, if they did not furnish him with supplies, he should be obliged to try new "counsels." This language was sufficiently clear : yet, lest any ambiguity should remain, Sir Dudley Carleton, vice-chan berlain, took care to explain it. “I pray you, consider,” said
* See note A, at the end of the volume.
Parliament. Hist. vol. „vi. p. 451. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 225. Franklyn, p. 118.
he, “what these new counsels are, or may be. I fear to declare those that I conceive. In all Christian kingdoms, you know that parliaments were in use anciently, by which those kingdoms were governed in a most flourishing manner; until the monarchs began to know their own strength, and seeing the turbulent spirit of their parliaments, at length they, by little and little, began to stand on their prerogatives, and at last overthrew the parliaments, throughout Christendom, except here only with us. Let us be careful then to preserve the king's good opinion of parliaments, which bringeth such happiness to this nation, and makes us envied of all others, while there is this sweetness between his majesty and the commons ; lest we lose the repute of a free people by our turbulency in parlia
These imprudent suggestions rather gave warning than struck terror. A precarious liberty, the commons thought, which was to be preserved by unlimited complaisance, was no liberty at all. And it was necessary, while yet in their power, to secure the constitution by such invincible barriers, that no king or ministér should ever, for the future, dare to speak such a language to any parliament, or even entertain such a project against them.
Two members of the house, Sir Dudley Digges and Sir John Elliot, who had been employed as managers of the impeachment against the duke, were thrown into prison.t The commons immediately declared, that they would proceed no further upon business till they had satisfaction in their privileges. Charles alleged, as the reason of this measure, certain seditious expressions, which, he said, had, in their accusation of the duke, dropped from these members. Upon inquiry, it appeared that no such expressions had been used. The menibers were released; and the king reaped no other benefit from this attempt than to exasperate the house still further, and to show some degree of precipitancy and indiscretion.
Moved by this example, the house of peers were roused from their inactivity; and claimed liberty for the earl of Arundel, who had been lately.confined in the Tower. After many fruitless evasions, the king, though somewhat ungracefully was at last obliged to comply. And in this incident it sufficiently appeared, that the lords, how little soever inclined to
* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 359. Whitlocke, p. 6.
Rushworth, vol. i. p. 363, 364, etc. Franklyn, p. 181.
popular courses, were not wanting in a just sense of their own dignity.
The ill humor of the commons, thus wantonly irritated by the court, and finding no gratification in the legal impeachment of Buckingham, sought other objects on which it might exert itself. The never-failing cry of Popery here served them in stead. They again claimed the execution of the penal laws against Catholics; and they presented to the king a list of persons intrusted with offices, most of them insignificant, who were either convicted or suspected recusants.* In this particular they had, perhaps, some reason to blame the king's conduct. He had promised to the last house of commons a redress of this religious grievance : but he was apt, in imitation of his father, to imagine that the parliament, when they failed of supplying his necessities, had, on their part, freed him from the obligation of a strict performance. A new odium, likewise, by these representations, was attempted to be thrown upon Buckingham. His mother, who had great influence over him, was a professed Catholic ; his wife was not free from suspicion: and the indulgence given to Catholics was of course supposed to proceed entirely from his credit and authority. So violent was the bigotry of the times, that it was thought a sufficient reason for disqualifying any one from holding an office, that his wife, or relations, or companions were Papists, though he himself were a conformist.
It is remarkable, that persecution was here chiefly pushed on by laymen; and that the church was willing to have granted more liberty than would be allowed by the commons. The reconciling doctrines, likewise, of Montague failed not anew to meet with severe censures from that zealous assembly. I
The next attack made by the commons, had it prevailed, would have proved decisive. They were preparing a remonstrance against the levying of tonnage and poundage without consent of parliament. This article, together with the new impositions laid on merchandise by James, constituted near half of the crown revenues ; and by depriving the king of these resources, they would have reduced him to total subjection and dependence. While they retained such a pledge, besides the supply already promised, they were sure that nothing could be refused them. Though, after canvassing the matter near three months, they found themselves utterly incapable of fixing any legal crime upon the duke, they regarded him as an unable, and perhaps a dangerous minister; and they intended to present a petition, which would then have been equivalent to a command, for removing him from his majesty's person and councils. *
* Franklyn, p. 195. Rushworth. + See the list in Franklyn and Rushworth. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 209.
The king was alarmed at the yoke which he saw prepared for him. Buckingham's sole guilt, he thought, was the being his friend and favorite. All the other complaints against him were mere pretences. A little before, he was the idol of the people. No new crime had since been discovered. After the most diligent inquiry, prompted by the greatest malice, the smallest appearance of guilt could not be fixed upon him. What idea, he asked, must all mankind entertain of his honor, should he sacrifice his innocent friend to pecuniary considerations? What further authority should he retain in the nation, were he capable, in the beginning of his reign, to give, in so signal an instance, such matter of triumph to his enemies, and discouragement to his adherents ? To-day the commons pretend to wrest his minister from him: to-morrow they will attack some branch of his prerogative. By their remonstrances, and promises, and protestations, they had engaged the crown in a war. As soon as they saw a retreat impossible, without waiting for new incidents, without covering themselves with new pretences, they immediately deserted him, and refused him all reasonable supplyIt was evident, that they desired nothing so much as to see him plunged in inextricable difficulties, of which they intended to take advantage. To such deep perfidy, to such unbounded usurpations, it was necessary to oppose a proper firmness and resolution. All encroachments on supreme power could only be resisted successfully on the first attempt. The sovereign authority was, with some difficulty, reduced from its ancient and legal height; but when once pushed downwards, it soon became contemptible, and would easily, by the continuance of the same effort, now encouraged by success, be carried to the lowest extremity.
Prompted by these plausible motives, Charles was determined immediately to dissolve the parliament. When this
* Rushworth, vol. i, n. 400. Franklyn, p. 199.