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burden of taxes, and had never opened
their purses in any degree for supporting their sovereign. Even Elizabeth, not. withstanding her vigor and frugality, and the necessary wars in which she was engaged, had reason to complain of the commons in this particular; nor could the authority of that princess, which was otherwise almost absolute, ever extort from them the requisite supplies. Habits, more than reason, we find in every thing to be the governing principle of mankind. In this view, likewise, the sinking of the value of subsidies must be considered as a loss to the king. The parliament, swayed by custom, would not augment their number in the same proportion.
The Puritanical party, though disguised, had a great authority over the kingdom; and many of the leaders among the commons had secretly embraced the rigid tenets of that sect. All these were disgusted with the court, both by the prevalence of the principles of civil liberty essential to their party, and on account of the restraint under which they were held by the established hierarchy. In order to fortify himself against the resentment of James, Buckingham had affected popularity, and entered into the cabals of the Puritans: but, being secure of the confidence of Charles, he had since abandoned this party; and on that account was the more exposed to their hatred and resentment. Though the religious schemes of many of the Puritans, when explained, appear pretty frivolous, we are not thence to imagine that they were pursued by none but persons of weak understandings. Some men of the greatest parts, and most extensive knowledge that the nation at this time produced, could not enjoy any peace of mind, because obliged to hear prayers offered up to the Divinity by a priest covered with a white linen vestment.
The match with France, and the articles in favor of Catholics which were suspected to be in the treaty, were likewise causes of disgust to this whole party : though it must be remarked, that the connections with that crown were much less obnoxious to the Protestants, and less agreeable to the Catholics, than the alliance formerly projected with Spain, and were therefore received rather with pleasure than dissatisfaction.
To all these causes we must yet add another, of considerable moment. The house of commons, we may observe, was almost entirely governed by a set of men of the most uncommon capacity and the largest views; men who were now formed into a regular party, and united, as well by fixed aims and projects, as by the hardships which some of them had undergone in prosecution of them.. Among these we may mention the names of Sir Edward Coke, Sir Edwin Sandys, Sir Robert Philips, Sir Francis Seymour, Sir Dudley Digges, Sir John Elliot, Sir Thomas Wentworth, Mr. Selden, and Mr. Pym. Animated with a warm regard to liberty, these generous patriots saw with regret an unbounded power exercised by the trown, and were resolved to seize the opportunity which the king's necessities offered them, of reducing the prerogative within more reasonable compass. . Though their ancestors had blindly given way to practices and precedents favorable to kingly power, and had been able, notwithstanding, to preserve some small remains of liberty, it would be impossible, they thought, when all these pretensions were methodized, and prosecuted by the increasing knowledge of the age, to maintain any shadow of popular government, in opposition to such unlimited authority in the sovereign. It was necessary to fix a choice ; either to abandon entirely the privileges of the people, or to secure them by firmer and more precise barriers than the constitution had hitherto provided for them. In this dilemma, men of such aspiring geniuses, and such independent fortunes, could not long deliberate : they boldly embraced the side of freedom, and resolved to grant no supplies to their necessitous, prince, without extorting concessions in favor of civil liberty. The end they esteemed beneficent and noble; the means, regular and constitutional. To grant or refuse supplies was the undoubted privilege of the commons. And as all human governments, particularly those of a mixed frame, are in continual fluctuation, it was as natural, in their opinion, and allowable, for popular assemblies to take advantage of favorable incidents, in order to secure the subject, as for monarchs, in order to extend their own authority. With pleasure they beheld the king involved in a foreign war, which rendered him every day more dependent on the parliament; while at the same time the situation of the kingdom, even without any military preparations, gave it sufficient security against all invasion from foreigners. Perhaps, too, it had partly proceeded from expectations of this nature, that the popular leaders had been so urgent for a rupture with Spain ; nor is it credible, that religious zeal could so far have blinded all of them, as to make them discover, in such a measure, any appearance of necessity, or any hopes of
But, however natural all these sentiments might appear to the country party, it is not to be imagined that Charles would entertain the same ideas. Strongly prejudiced in favor of the duke, whom he had heard so highly extolled in parliament, he could not conjecture the cause of so sudden an alteration in their opinions. And when the war which they themselves had so earnestly solicited, was at last commenced, the iinmediate desertion of their sovereign could not but seem very unaccountable. Even though no further motive had been suspected, the refusal of supply in such circumstances would naturally to him appear cruel and deceitful: but when he perceived that this measure proceeded from an intention of encroaching on his authority, he failed not to regard these aims as highly criminal and traitorous. Those lofty ideas of monarchical power which were very commonly adopted during that age, and to which the ambiguous nature of the English constitution gave so plausible an appearance, were firmly rivetted in Charles; and however moderate his temper, the natural and unavoidable prepossessions of self-love, joined to the late uniform precedents in favor of prerogative, had made him regard his political tenets as certain and uncontroverted. Taught to consider even the ancient laws and constitution more as lines to direct his conduct, than barriers to withstand his power; a conspiracy to erect new ramparts, in order to straiten his authority, appeared but one degree removed from open sedition and rebellion. So atrocious in his eyes was such a design, that he seems even unwilling to impute it to the commons; and though he was constrained to adjourn the parliament by reason of the plague, which at that time raged in London, he immediately reassembled them at Oxford, and made a new attempt to gain from them some supplies in such an urgent necessity..
Charles now found himself obliged to depart from that delicacy which he had formerly maintained. By himself or his ministers he entered into a particular detail, both of the alliances which he had formed, and of the military operations which he had projected.* He told the parliament, that, by a promise of subsidies, he had engaged the king of Denmark to take part in the war; that this monarch intended to enter Germany by the north, and to rouse to arms those princes who impatiently longed for an opportunity of asserting
* Dugdale, p. 25, 26.
the liberty of the empire ; that Mansfeldt had undertak 1 te penetrate with an English army into the Palatinate, ana by that quarter to excite the members of the evangelical union that the states must be supported in the unequal warfare which they maintained with Spain; that no less a sum than seven hundred thousand pounds a year had been found, by compu. tation, requisite for all these purposes; that the maintenance of the fleet, and the defence of Ireland, demanded an annual expense of four hundred thousand pounds; that he himself had already exhausted and anticipated, in the public service, his whole revenue, and had scarcely left sufficient for the daily subsistence of himself and his family ; * that on his accession to the crown, he found a debt of above three hundred thousand pounds, contracted by his father in support of the palatine; and that while prince of Wales, he had himself contracted debts, notwithstanding his great frugality, to the amount of seventy thousand pounds, which he had expended entirely on naval and military armaments. After mentioning all these facts, the king.even condescended to use entreaties. He said, that this request was the first that he had ever made them : that he was young, and in the commencement of his reign; and if he now met with kind, and dutiful usage, it would endear to him the use of parliaments, and would forever preserve an entire harmony between him and his people.fi
To these reasons the commons remained inexorable. Not. withstanding that the king's measures, on the supposition of a foreign war, which they had constantly demanded, were altogether unexceptionable, they obstinately refused any further aid. Some members, favorable to the court, having insisted on an addition of two fifteenths to the former supply, even this pittance was refused; though it was known that a fleet and army were lying at Portsmouth, in great want of pay and provisions; and that Buckingham, the admiral, and the treasurer of the navy, had advanced on their own credit near a hundred thousand pounds for the sea service.s Besides all their other motives, the house of commons had made a discovery, which, as they wanted but a pretence for their refusal inflamed them against the court and against the duke of Buck. ingham.
* Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 396.
Rush. vol. i. p. 177, 178, etc. Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 399. Frank lyn, p. 108, 109. Journ. 10th Aug. 1625. Rush. vol. i. p. 190.
§ Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 390.
When James deserted the Spanish alliance, and courted that of France, he had promised to furnish Lewis, who was entirely destitute of naval force, with one ship of war, together with seven armed vessels hired from the merchants. These the French court had pretended they would employ against the Genoese, who, being firm and useful allies to the Spanish monarchy, were naturally regarded with an evil eye, both by the king of France and of England. When these vessels, by Charles's orders, arrived at Dieppe, there arose a strong suspicion that they were to serve against Rochelle. The sailors were inflamed. That race of men, who are at present both careless and ignorant in all matters of religion, were at that time only ignorant. They drew up a remonstrance to Pennington, their commander, and signing all their names in a circle, lest he should discover the ringleaders, they laid it under his prayer-book. Pennington declared that he would rather be hanged in England for disobedience, than fight against his brother Protestants in France. The whole squadron sailed immediately to the Downs. There they received new orders from Buckingham, lord admiral, to return to Dieppe. As the duke knew that authority alone would not suffice, he employed much art and many subtleties to engage them to obedience ; and a rumor which was spread, that peace had been concluded between the French king and the Hugonots, assisted him in his purpose. When they arrived at Dieppe, they found that they had been deceived. Sir Ferdiñando Gorges, who commanded one of the vessels, broke through and returned to England. All the officers and sailors of all the other ships, notwithstanding great offers made them by the French, immediately deserted. One gunner alone preferred duty towards his king to the cause of religion; and he was afterwards killed in charging a cannon before Rochelle.* The care which historians have taken to record this frivolous event, proves with what pleasure the news was received by the nation.
The house of commons, when informed of these transacons, showed the same attachment with the sailors for the Protestant religion; nor was their zeal much better guided by reason and sound policy. It was not considered that it was nighly probable the king and the duke themselves had here been deceived by the artifices of France, nor had they any
• Franklyn, p. 109. Rush. vol. i. p. 175, 176, etc., 325, 326, eta.