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IMPEACHMENT OF STRAFFORD.
abstract of Pym's speech. He recapitulated all that the nation had endured in the attempt to deprive them of the liberty and property which was their birthright; these calamities falling upon us in the reign of a pious and virtuous king, who loved his people, and
was a great lover of justice." Pym's praise of the king, according to Clarendon, was, that he might wound him with less suspicion. "We must inquire," said the impassioned speaker, "from what fountain these waters of bitterness flowed." There was one man more signal than the rest in bringing these miseries upon the nation-"a man who, in the memory of many present, had sate in that House an earnest vindicator of the laws, and a most zealous supporter and champion for the liberties of the people; but long since turned apostate from those good affections, and, according to the custom and nature of apostates, was become the greatest enemy to the liberties of his country, and the greatest promoter of tyranny that any age had produced." And then he named "the earl of Strafford." Pym concluded by expressing a hope that they would provide a remedy proportionable to the disease. The members went on debating till the usual time of rising was come; but an order was given that no one should leave the House. After many hours of bitter investigation into the actions of Strafford, it was moved, "that he might be forthwith impeached of high treason, which was no sooner mentioned than it found an universal approbation and consent from the whole House." We must not forget that Mr. Hyde was himself in the House; and that whatever colour he may give, when he writes as Lord Clarendon, to the proceedings against Strafford, he was one of those who gave consent and approbation to the impeachment. Falkland, indeed, recommended, though fully concurring in the determination to impeach, that there should be a farther investigation by a committee previous to the impeachment; but Pym frankly said, that the moment their proceedings were known, Strafford would procure the Parliament to be dissolved, or resort to some other desperate measures; whereas, if they went at once to the Lords, he would necessarily be committed to safe custody. Late as it was, the peers were still sitting. The doors of the House of Commons were thrown open, and Pym, at the head of three hundred members, proceeded to the House of Lords, and there, at the bar, in the name of the Lower House, and of all the Commons of England, impeached Thomas, earl of Strafford, of high treason, and required his arrest. The scene which followed has been spiritedly told by the Principal of the University of Glasgow, who, in his visit to London, had leisure to learn. more than most men, and had ability to relate well what he learnt or saw: "The Lords began to consult on that strange and unexpected motion. The word goes in haste to the Lord Lieutenant, where he was with the king: with
ARREST OF LAUD, AND HIS IMPEACHMENT.
[1610. speed he comes to the House; he calls rudely at the door. James Maxwell, keeper of the Black Rod, opens. His lordship, with a proud glooming countenance, makes towards his place at the board-head: but at once many bid him void the House; so he is forced in confusion to go to door till he was called. After consultation, being called in, he stands, but is commanded to kneel, and, on his knees, to hear the sentence. Being on his knees, he is delivered to the keeper of the Black Rod, to be prisoner till he was cleared of these crimes the House of Commons did charge him with. He offered to speak, but was commanded to be gone without a word. In the outer room, James Maxwell required him, as prisoner, to deliver his sword. When he had gotten it, he cries, with a loud voice, for his man to carry my Lord Lieutenant's sword. This done, he makes through a number of people towards his coach, all gazing, no man capping to him, before whom that morning the greatest of England would have stood discovered, all crying, What is the matter? he said, A small matter, I warrant you! They replied, Yes, indeed, high treason is a small matter! Coming to the place where he expected his coach, it was not there; so he behoved to return that same way through a world of gazing people. When at last he had found his coach, and was entering, James Maxwell told him, your lordship is my prisoner, and must go in my coach; so he behoved to do."*
There were others to be dealt with by the same summary process who had rendered themselves obnoxious to the nation. Strafford had been committed to the Tower on the 25th of November. On the 4th of December there is this entry in Laud's Diary :-" The king gave way, that his Council should be examined upon oath in the earl of Strafford's case; I was examined this day." Very shortly after, the archbishop himself had to undergo a more severe ordeal. On the 16th of December the Canons which had been passed in Convocation after the dissolution of the last Parliament were, to use Laud's own words, " condemned in the House of Commons as being against the king's prerogative, the fundamental laws of the realm, the liberty and propriety of the subject, and containing other things tending to sedition, and of dangerous consequence." He adds: "Upon this I was made the author of them, and a Committee put upon me to inquire into all my actions, and to prepare a charge." On the same day he was named by the Scottish Commissioners, in the Upper House, as an "incendiary." On the 18th, Denzel Hollis carried a message to the Lords, impeaching the archbishop of high treason. Laud was handed over to the custody of the usher of the Black Rod. When he left Lambeth, there was a tribute to his private character which is touching in itself, but has no bearing upon his public errors. He says, "As I went to my barge, hundreds of my poor neighbours stood there, and prayed for my safety, and return to my house. For which I bless God and them." Ten weeks afterwards he was committed to the Tower. Articles of impeachment were prepared against the lord-keeper Finch, and against sir Francis Windebank, secretary of state. They both fled the country. “Within less than six weeks," writes Clarendon, "for no more time was yet elapsed, these terrible reformers had caused the two greatest counsellors of the kingdom, and whom they most feared, and so hated, to be removed from the king,
Baillie, "Letters and Journal," vol. i. p. 272.
FINCH AND WINDEBANK-SHIP-MONEY JUDGES.
and imprisoned, under an accusation of high treason; and frighted away the lord keeper of the great seal of England, and one of the principal secretaries of state, into foreign lands, for fear of the like." But the terrible reformers did not rest here. Five of the judges, who had declared ship-money lawful, were visited with a just retribution for their servility. They were compelled to give securities to abide the judgment of parliament, whilst the most obnoxious of them, sir Robert Berkeley, being impeached of high treason, was taken to prison from his judgment-seat in the King's Bench, "which struck," says Whitelocke, "a great terror in the rest of his brethren then sitting in Westminster Hall, and in all his profession." A laborious and learned writer has shown how, in the times of the Plantagenets, the judges were regarded as "indifferent arbitrators, whose decisions on constitutional points were conclusive, and beyond the possibility of doubt or suspicion." But he truly points out the difference in the times of Charles I. "One of the primary causes of the great rebellion that overthrew the government, and that cost the king his head, was the degradation of the bench of justice." Clarendon himself clearly saw this great source of the people's discontent.† In the proceedings of the House of Commons which led to the arrest of Berkeley, one speaker, supposed to be Pym, but whose name does not occur in the pamphlet which contains the speech, uttered these remarkable words: ‡ "Mr. Speaker, blasted may that tongue be that shall, in the least degree, derogate from the glory of those halcyon days our fathers enjoyed during the government of that ever-blessed, never-to-be-forgotten royal Elizabeth. But certainly I may safely say, without detraction, it was much advantage to the peace and prosperity of her reign, that the great examples of Empson and Dudley were then fresh in memory. The civility of our law tells us, that the king can do no wrong; but then only is the state secure when judges, their ministers, dare do none. Since our times have found the want of such examples, 'tis fit we leave some to posterity!"
Whilst the leaders of the Parliament were intent upon the re-establishment of civil rights, and the punishment of those who had violated them, the great religious party carried out the principles which had covered Scotland with ecclesiastical ruins, by an order that "commissions should be sent into all counties for the defacing, demolishing, and quite taking away of all images, altars, or tables turned altar-wise, crucifixes, superstitious pictures, monuments, and reliques of idolatry, out of all churches and chapels."§ There is an interesting passage in Mrs. Hutchinson's Memoirs of her husband which illustrates the mode in which this order worked in country parishes, such as that in which Mr. Hutchinson's house of Owthorpe was situated: "The Parliament had made orders to deface the images in all churches. Within two miles of his house there was a church, where Christ upon the cross, the Virgin, and John, had been fairly set up in a window over the altar, and sundry other superstitious paintings, of the priest's own ordering, were drawn upon the walls. When the order for razing out those reliques of superstition came, the
* Foss, "Judges of England."
Quoted by Mr. Forster, in his "Life of John Pym," p. 144.
Ante, p. 419.
By a subsequent vote the crosses of Cheapside and Charing were taken down. Evelyn, in his "Diary," May 2nd, 1643, says, "I went from Wotton to London, where I saw the furious and zealous people demolish that stately cross in Cheapside."
DESTRUCTION OF CROSSES AND IMAGES.
[1641. priest only took down the heads of the images, and laid them carefully up in his closet, and would have had the church officers to have certified that the thing was done according to order; whereupon they came to Mr. Hutchinson, and desired him that he would take the pains to come and view their church, which he did, and upon discourse with the parson, persuade him to blot out all the superstitious paintings, and break the images in the glass; which he consented to, but being ill-affected, was one of those who began to brand Mr. Hutchinson with the name of Puritan." The so-called Puritan was then a young man of twenty-three; and he was in himself a faithful representation
Destruction of the Cross in Cheapside. From a contemporary print in the British Museum. of the religious English gentleman, who had been bred up in a horror of papistical observances, and who, by study of the history of his country, and by serious meditation on the state of public affairs, was prepared to take an earnest part in the great struggle of his time: "He applied himself," says Mrs. Hutchinson, "to understand the things then in dispute; and read all the public papers that came forth, between the king and parliament, besides many other private treatises, both concerning the present and foregoing times Hereby he became abundantly informed in his understanding, and convinced in conscience, of the righteousness of the parliament's cause, in point of civil right."
On the 30th of January, the charges against Strafford were laid before the House of Lords. These were twenty-eight in number. The Scottish Commissioners, and a deputation from the Irish parliament, also put forward the same charges, of endeavouring to rule the north of England and Ireland by military power; of attempting to subvert the fundamental laws of the realm; of labouring to overthrow parliaments and parliamentary authority. During the anxious period between the commitment of the great earl on the 11th of November, and his trial on the 22nd of March, the Commons had
CHARGES AGAINST STRAFFORD.
laboured assiduously in the work of legislation as well as in that of punishing the instruments of evil government. Of these legislative labours, which they continued till the close of the Session, we shall give a short general view before we conclude our narrative of the first Session of this memorable Parliament. Meanwhile, let us relate, as briefly as the importance of the subject allows, the proceedings in the trial and attainder of "the one supremely able man the king had," *—the man whose acquittal and restoration to power would, in the opinion of most persons, have given the death-blow to the liberties of England. The proceedings against that eminent man have been condemned by many, who fully admit, with Mr. Hallam, "that to bring so great a delinquent to justice according to the known process of the law was among the primary duties of the new parliament." But, "the known process of the law" having been set aside, it is held that justice was not rightly administered. The proceedings have been defended, even while it is fully admitted, as Mr. Macaulay admits, that his "attainder was, in truth, a revolutionary measure; " and in the same spirit they are justified, " by that which alone justifies capital punishment, or any punishment, by that alone which justifies war, by the public danger." +
In that Westminster Hall which had witnessed so many memorable scenes; in that hall in which, re-edified by Richard II., the Parliament sat which deposed him, and Bolingbroke placed himself in the marble chair;-in that hall where More was condemned, and Henry VIII. sentenced a heretic to the fire, and the protector Somerset was doomed to the scaffold;-in that hall was to be enacted a scene more strange than any which had gone before, the arraignment of the great minister who was identified with the acts of the sovereign-a virtual trial of strength between the Crown and the People. Of this trial, May, the parliamentary historian, says, "So great it was that we can hardly call it the trial of the earl of Strafford only. The king's affections towards his people and parliament, the future success of this parliament, and the hopes of three kingdoms dependent upon it, were all tried when Strafford was arraigned. * Three whole kingdoms were his accusers, and eagerly sought in one death a recompense of all their sufferings." May speaks, also, of "the pompous circumstances and stately manner of the trial itself." The hall was fitted up in a manner quite unusual in any previous state-trial. There was a throne for the king at the north end; the woolsack for the Lord-Steward, the earl of Arundel; benches for the peers, who sat in their red robes, lined with ermine; sacks for the lord keeper and the judges; and, what constituted the peculiarity of this trial, a stage of eleven tiers of seats on each side of the hall, seven of which were reserved for the members of the House of Commons, who were all there in Committee. The king did not occupy the throne, but sat with the queen and his family in a box on the side of the throne. "The trellis, that made them to be secret, the king broke down with his own hand, so they sat in the eye of all," writes Baillie, who was present in the seats appointed for the Scotch Commissioners. The doors were kept, he says, "very straitly with guards. We always behoved to be there a little after five in the morning." The Lords were in their places daily by eight o'clock; the king was usually half-an-hour before them. Many ladies were present, in galleries allotted to them. On Monday, the
+ Macaulay, "Essay on Nugent's Hampden."