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(1634.] Ship money. was now introduced. The first writs of this kind had been directed to seaport towns only : but ship money was at this time levied on the whole kingdom ; and each county was rated at a particular sum, which was afterwards assessed upon individuals.* The amount of the whole tax was very moderate, little exceeding two hundred thousand pounds: it was levied upon the people with equality: the money was entirely expended on the navy, to the great honor and advantage of the kingdom : as England had no military force, while all the other powers of Europe were strongly armed, a fleet seemed absolutely necessary for her security; and it was obvious, that a navy must be built and equipped at leisure, during peace; nor could it possibly be fitted out on a sudden emergence, when the danger became urgent;
all these considerations could not reconcile the people to the imposition. It was entirely arbitrary : by the same right any other tax might be imposed: and men thought a powerful fleet, though very desirable both for the credit and safety of the kingdom, but an unequal recompense for their liberties, which, they apprehended, were thus sacrificed to the obtaining of it.
England, it must be owned, was in this respect unhappy in its present situation, that the king had entertained a very different idea of the constitution, from that which began in generil to prevail among his subjects. He did not regard national privileges as so sacred and inviolable, that nothing but the most extreme necessity could justify an infringement of them. He considered himself as the supreme magistrate, to whose care Heaven, by his birthright, had committed his people; whose duty it was to provide for their security and happiness, and who was vested with ample discretionary powers for that salutary purpose. If the observance of ancient laws and customs was consistent with the present convenience of government, he thought himself obliged to comply with that rule; as the easiest, the safest, and what procured the most prompt and willing obedience.
But when a change of circumstances, especially if derived from the obstinacy of the people, required a new plan of administration, national privileges, he thought, must yield to supreme power; nor could any order of the state oppose any right to the will of the sovereign, directed to the good of the public. That these principles of government
* Rush. vol. ii. p. 257, 258, etc. og Rush. vol. iv. p. 535, 542.
were derived from the uniform tenor of the English laws, i would be rash to affirm. The fluctuating nature of the con stitution, the impatiert humor of the people, and the variety of events, had, no doubt, in different ages, produced excep
These observations alone may be established on both sides, that the appearances were sufficiently strong in favor of the king to apologize for his following such maxims; and that public liberty must be so precarious under this exorbitant prerogative, as to render an opposition not only excusable, but laudable in the people.
Some laws had been enacted, during the reign of Henry VII., against depopulation, or the converting of arable lands into pasture. By a decree of the star chamber, Sir Anthony Roper was fined four thousand pounds for an offence of that nature.f This severe sentence was intended to terrify others into composition ; and above thirty thousand pounds were levied by that expedient. Like compositions, or, in default of them, heavy fines, were required for encroachments on the king's forests, whose bounds, by decrees deemed arbitrary, were extended much beyond what was usual.S The bounds of one forest, that of Rockingham, were increased from six miles to sixty.|| The same refractory humor which made the people refuse to the king voluntary supplies, disposed them, with better reason, to murmur against these irregular methods of taxation.
Morley was fined ten thousand pounds for reviling, challenging, and striking, in the court of Whitehall, Sir George Theobald, one of the king's servants. This fine was thought exorbitant; but whether it was compounded, as was usual in fines imposed by the star chamber, we are not informed.
Allison had reported, that the archbishop of York had incurred the king's displeasure, by asking a limited toleration for the Catholics, and an allowance to build some churches for the exercise of their religion. For this slander against the archbishop, he was condemned in the star chamber to be fined one thousand pounds, to be committed to prison, to be bound o his good behavior during life, to be whipped, and to be set
* See note D, at the end of the volume.
May, p. 16.
on the pillory at Westminster, and in three other towns in England. Robins, who had been an accomplice in the guilt, was condemned by a sentence equally severe.
Such events are rather to be considered as rare and detached incidents, coilected by the severe scrutiny of historians, than as proofs of the prevailing genius of the king's administration which seems to have been more gentle and equitable than that of most of his predecessors : there were, on the whole, only five or six such instances of rigor during the course of fifteen years, which elapsed before the meeting of the long parlia
And it is also certain, that scandal against the great, though seldom prosecuted at present, is, however, in the eye of the law, a great crime, and subjects the offender to very heavy penalties.
There are other instances of the high respect paid to the nobility, and to the great in that age, when the powers of monarchy, though disputed, still maintained themselves in their pristine vigor. Clarendon t tells us a pleasant incident to this purpose: a waterman, belonging to a man of quality, having a squabble with a citizen about his fare, showed his badge, the crest of his master, which happened to be a swan; and thence insisted on better treatment from the citizen. But the other replied carelessly, that he did not trouble his head about that goose. For this offence, he was summoned before the marshal’s court; was fined, as having opprobriously defamed the nobleman's crest, by calling the swan a goose ; and was in effect reduced to beggary.
Sir Richard Granvile had thought himself ill used by the earl of Suffolk in a lawsuit ; and he was accused before the star chamber of having said of that nobleman, that he was-a base lord. The evidence against him was somewhar lame; yet for this slight offence, insufficiently proved, he was ondemned to pay a fine of eight thousand pounds; one half to the earl, the other to the king. I
Sir George Markham, following a chase where Lord Darcy's huntsman was exercising his hounds, kept closer to the dogs than was thought proper by the huntsman, who, besides other rudeness, gave him foul language, which Sir George returned with a stroke of his whip. The fellow threatened to complain to his master: the knight replied, “ If his master should justify
* Rush. vol. ii. p, 269.
Lord Lansdown, p. 514.
+ Life of Clarendon, vol. i. p. 72.
66 So fine a
such insolence, he would serve him in the same manner ;” or words to that effect. Sir George was summoned before the star chamber, and fined ten thousand pounds:
in those days to be a lord !”-a natural reflection of Lord Lansdown's in relating this incident.* The people, in vindicating their liberties from the authority of the crown, threw off also the yoke of the nobility. It is proper to remark that this last incident happened early in the reign of James. The present practice of the star chamber was far from being an innovation ; though the present dispositions of the people made them repine more at this servitude.
[1635.] Charles had imitated the example of Elizabeth and James, and had issued proclamations forbidding the landed gentlemen and the nobility to live idly in London, and ordering them to retire to their country seats. For disobedience to this edict, many were indicted by the attorney-general, and were fined in the star chamber. $ This occasioned discontents; and the sentences were complained of as illegal. But if proclamations had authority, of which nobody pretended to doubt; must they not be put in execution? In no instance, I must confess, does it more evidently appear, what confused and uncertain ideas were during that age entertained concerning the English constitution. Ray, having exported fuller's earth, contrary to the king's
, proclamation, was, besides the pillory, condemned in the star chamber to a fine of two thousand pounds.s Like fines were levied on Terry, Eman, and others, for disobeying a proclamation which forbade the exportation of gold: || In order to account for the subsequent convulsions, even these incidents are not to be overlooked as frivolous or contemptible. Such severities were afterwards magnified into the greatest enormities.
There remains a proclamation of this year, prohibiting hackney coaches from standing in the street. We are told, that there were not above twenty coaches of that kind in London, There are at present near eight hundred.
* Lord Lansdown, p. 515. This story is told differently in Hobart's Reports, p. 120. It there appears, that Markham was fined only five hundred pounds, and very deservedly; for he gave the lie and wrote a challenge to Lord Darcy. James was anxious to discour age the practice of duelling, which was then very prevalent. Rush. vol. ii. p. 144.
I Rush. vol. ii, p. 288. § Rush. vol. ii. p. 348.
Rush. vol. ii. p. 350. Rush. vol. ii. p. 316.
(1636.] The effects of ship money began now to appear. A formidable fleet of sixty sail, the greatest that England had ever known, was equipped under the earl of Northumberland, who had orders to attack the herring busses of the Dutch, which fished in what were called the British seas. The Dutch were content to pay thirty thousand pounds for a license during this year. They openly denied, however, the claim of dominion in the seas beyond the friths, bays, and shores; and it may be questioned whether the laws of nations warrant any further pretensions.
This year, the king sent a squadron against Sallee; and, with the assistance of the emperor of Morocco, destroyed that receptacle of pirates, by whom the English commerce, and even the English coasts, had long been infested.
[1637.] Burton, a divine, and Bastwick, a physician, were tried in the star chamber for seditious and schismatical libels and were condemned to the same punishment that had been inflicted on Prynne. Prynne himself was tried for a new offence; and, together with another fine of five thousand pounds, was condemned to lose what remained of his ears, Besides that these writers had attacked with great severity and even an intemperate zeal, the ceremonies, rites, anu gov ernment of the church, the very answers which they gave :: to the court were so full of contumacy and of invectives ugainst the prelates, that no lawyer could be prevailed on to sign them.* The rigors, however, which they underwent, being so unworthy men of their profession, gave general offence; and the patience, or rather alacrity, with which they suffered, increased still further the indignation of the public.t The severity of the star chanıber, which was generally ascribed to Laud's passionate disposition, was, perhaps, in itself somewhat blamable; but will naturally, to us, appear enormous who enjoy, in the utmost latitude, that liberty of the press, which is esteemed so necessary in every monarchy, confined by strict legal limitations. But as these limitations were not regularly fixed during the age of Charles, nor at any time before, so was this liberty totally unknown, and was generally deemed, as well as religious toleration, incompatible with all good government. No age or nation among the moderns had ever set an example of such an indulgence; and it seems
* Rush. vol. ü. p, 381, 382, etc. State Trials, vol. v. p. 66.
State Trials, vol. V. p. 80.