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THE KING AT WHITEHALL-TUMULTS.
[1641. seceded from his party till after the king, by one rash act which we shall presently have to relate, and the Commons, by a series of demands for power which grew more imperative as the control of the House fell into the hands of the more violent, had each rendered it impossible that a pacification could be effected, without unduly crippling the monarchy, or without returning to absolutism. The battle had to be fought out by physical force. The wordy war was coming to an end.
Two days after the Committee of the House of Commons had been at Hampton Court with the Remonstrance, the lord mayor and a select number of aldermen of London arrived there with an address. It was a harmless policy thus to attempt a counter manifestation of public opinion, as if to neutralise the acts of the Commons. But the machinery was very insufficient for the object. The lord mayor implored the king and the queen to return to Whitehall, "to give a good quickening to the retail trade;" and the king said he would return. The lord mayor begged that the king would not impute to the city, or to the better sort of citizens, disorders which had occurred about Westminster; for "the skirts of the city are more populous than the city itself, fuller of the meaner sort of people;" and if any dwellers in the city should have been concerned in such disorders, " as who can deny among millions of people, some there may be," yet their purpose was unknown to the city magistrates. This loose way of talking of millions of people, as inhabitants of the capital, long prevailed. And so the king and his family, at the sole instance of the obedient portion of the corporation of London, returned to the palace of Whitehall a few days after, "there to keep their Christmas," as the king had promised. It was an awful Christmas and an awful new year. For six centuries of occasional troubles-of kings dethroned, of the red rose and the white alternately prevailing, of Tyler and Cade insurrections, of papist and protestant struggles,-the State had never been so near anarchy as in this winter of 1641. The real constitutional strength, both of the king and the Parliament, was so balanced, that military power or popular fury might each decide the preponderance. About Whitehall gathered bands of ardent gentlemen of town and country, some of generous loyalty and unstained life, but more of loose habits and broken fortunes,-full of contempt for puritans, and perfectly ignorant of the real causes of difference between the king and the Parliament. Many of them were Romanists. Ludlow's account, however coloured, is true in the main as to the character of those who called themselves the king's body-guard. “The king, finding that nothing less would satisfy the Parliament than a thorough correction of what was amiss, and full security of their rights from any violation for the future, considered how to put a stop to their proceedings; and to that end encouraged a great number of loose debauched fellows about the town to repair to Whitehall, where a constant table was provided for their entertainment. Many gentlemen of the Inns of Court were tampered with to assist him in his design, and things brought to that pass, that one of them said publicly in my hearing, What! shall we suffer those fellows at Westminster to domineer thus ? Let us go into the country and bring up our tenants to pull them out.'' The king gave a sanction to the opinion that
"Memoirs," vol. i. p. 21.
POPULAR CRY AGAINST BISHOPS.
he contemplated a resort to force, in his injudicious appointment of a Romanist and a desperado, Colonel Lunsford, to be Governor of the Tower. Clarendon thus speaks of the appointment:-"The king, finding that the seditious preachers every day prevailed in the city of London, and corrupted the affections and loyalty of the meaner people towards the government of the Church and State, resolved to put that place, which some men fancied to be a bridle upon the city, into the hands of such a man as he might rely upon."* The Commons requested the Peers to join them in a petition against this appointment; but the king superseded Lunsford upon the private advice of the Peers. The popular cry finally set in against the bishops. A bill was before the Lords, which had been carried in the other House six months before, for taking away the votes of bishops and removing them from the House of Peers. In August, thirteen of the bishops had been impeached by the Commons, for having taken part in passing the Canons of 1640. The archbishop of Canterbury was still imprisoned in the Tower. The idea of the abolition of episcopacy was become familiarised to the people by the example of Scotland, and by the ready adhesion which the king had given to the presbyterian establishment there in his recent visit. There was now a change in the demonstrations of the corporation of London. A petition of the aldermen and common council was carried to Westminster in a procession of sixty coaches, praying that the House of Commons would still be a means to concur with the king and the Lords in redressing the grievances of Church and State; "and for the better effecting thereof that the popish lords and bishops may be removed out of the House of Peers." The apprentices of London also agreed to a petition to the king, showing that they found by experience, great mischiefs coming upon their masters' tradings, "to nip them in the bud when they were first entering into the world; the cause of which they could attribute to no other but the papists and the prelates, and that malignant party which adhered to them." Truly enough does Clarendon call this apprentices' petition "such stuff." But the popular cry daily gathered strength. It was small poetical exaggeration in the author of "Hudibras" thus to
unite "All cries about the town," in one "hideous
shout," around the palace, "to cry the bishops down:
"The oyster-women lock'd their fish up,
And some for brooms, old boots and shoes,
And some for old suits, coats, or cloak,
* "Rebellion," vol. ii. p. 81.
Part i. canto ii. line 540.
PROTEST OF TWELVE BISHOPS-THEIR COMMITTAL.
"The Christmas holidays giving more leave and licence to all kind of people, the concourse grew more numerous about Westminster.” * As the audacity of the multitude increased, so did the fury of the cavaliers. Colonel Lunsford, disappointed of his governorship of the Tower, and other officers, were now engaged in skirmishes with the apprentices and such leaders of the daily mobs. "From these contestations the two terms of Roundhead and Cavalier grew to be received in discourse," says Clarendon. The hair of the London apprentices was cut close about their ears, and hence the name of contempt. The factions, royalist, and parliamentarian, were bitter in their reproaches against each other as encouragers of these passionate outbreaks. The dogged cries of the multitude, the insolent speeches of the king's friends, might have passed off without any serious results beyond a few broken heads, had not the bishops themselves become mixed up in the affray. Clarendon, who bore a decided ill-will to Williams, the archbishop of York, attributes the evil results to the Church, chiefly to the pride and passion of this archbishop. Hearing a youth in the street vociferating "no bishops," the fiery Welshman seized him, and there was a great scuffle, in which the archbishop's robes were torn from his back. He returned to his house, the deanery of Westminster, and having assembled twelve of the bishops, who had been often prevented attending in their places in parliament through these tumults, proposed "that they might unanimously and presently prepare a protestation to send to the House, against the force that was used upon them: and against all the acts which were, or should be, done during the time that they should by force be kept from doing their duties in the House." The archbishop soon drew this document, which all signed; and forthwith carried it to the king at Whitehall, who directed the lord keeper to present it to the Peers. The immediate result was that the Commons accused of high treason all those who had signed the paper; and the whole twelve were committed. "In all the extremity of frost, at eight o'clock in the dark evening, are we voted to the Tower," writes Joseph Hall, bishop of Norwich-one who suffered much persecution undeservedly, but whose character was safe in the hands of impartial posterity. Imprudent and illegal as was this protest, it was a bold stretch of party-feeling to call it treasonable. In the debate on the bishops' offence in the House of Commons, one member only spoke in their behalf, and said, "he did not believe that they were guilty of high treason, but that they were stark mad; and therefore desired they might be sent to Bedlam." +
The cry of no bishop "was certainly not an expression of the national opinion. Although the arrogance and indiscretions of some of the higher clergy, and their extravagant enforcement of offensive ceremonies, had disgusted many sober and religious persons, and even at this time had called forth a petition for the reformation of the episcopal order from seven hundred beneficed clergymen, there was by no means a general sympathy with those who sought the destruction of the establishment. The Scots who were in England in 1641 were dreading that the people would be content with a modified episcopacy. "All are for the creating," writes Baillie, "of a kind of presbytery, and for bringing down the bishops, in all things spiritual and temporal, so low as can Clarendon, vol. ii. p. 121.
QUESTION OF THE MILITIA.
be with any subsistence; but their utter abolition, which is the aim of the most godly, is the knot of the question." By "the most godly" the exclu sive presbyterian meant those only of his own persuasion. What was called "the root and branch party" was especially strong in London; and the House of Commons had come to a resolution for the abolition of episcopacy before the adjournment in 1641, by a majority of thirty-one, upon a bill brought in by sir Edward Dering. Archbishop Usher had prepared a scheme of reformation, under which each county was to be a diocese, with a governing college, or presbytery, of twelve, under the presidency of a bishop; and the House also voted for this plan. The measure for excluding the bishops from the House of Peers, which was the cause of the popular agitation in the Christmas of 1641, was supported by many who had no desire to subvert the church, or to establish an ecclesiastical democracy. Falkland was one of those who went to this extent. But to minds like that of Falkland, earnest for civil and religious liberty, but also attached to the ancient institutions; disliking the persecutions which the non-conformists had endured, but also offended by the narrow and bitter spirit of the puritans; opposed to popish superstitions, but yet disgusted by the desecration of holy places, and by the insults offered to the ministers of religion-to minds of this anti-fanatical and tolerant cast the temper of the parliamentary leaders, and of the populace at this period, must have been the signal for their ultimate separation from their party. In this revolution of England, as in all other revolutions, those who halt between two opinions can scarcely expect to be the victors. It is for the Cromwells to go forward, ever confident and self-willed, from imminent danger to triumphant success; but it is for the Falklands to ingeminate the word "Peace, Peace;" and to seek death in the battle-field as the only refuge of hearts broken through the desolation of their country.*
With these fearful contentions around the king's palace and the houses of parliament-Lunsford and his cavaliers drawing their swords upon the city apprentices in Westminster Hall on one day, and the apprentices returning in great force on another day, crying out "Slash us now"-the Commons again petitioned the king for a guard under the command of the earl of Essex. This guard the king refused, except it were under an officer appointed by himself. The leaders of the Commons had too many friends about the court not to know that some crisis was approaching. The king had, no doubt, reasonable fears that it was contemplated to deprive him of the control of the military force of the kingdom; and this, which was the great point of difference in all subsequent attempts at negotiation, might have led him to the adoption of the fatal measure which shut out all hopes of tranquillity. On the 31st of December it was voted in the Commons "that the House be resolved into a Committee on Monday next, January 3rd, to take into consideration the Militia of the kingdom." From the time of the army plot in May, 1641, it had been the object of the Commons to vest the command of the Militia in persons nominated by themselves. We have several times had occasion to point out that there was no regular military force kept up, except a few soldiers retained for the defence of fortresses. In earlier times of danger, the people were called out under commissions of array.
* See Clarendon's famous character of Falkland, vol. iv. p. 240.
CHARGES OF TREASON AGAINST MEMBERS.
When invasion was apprehended, as on the alarm of the Spanish Armada, the sovereign exercised the power of mustering and training the population for the common defence. The royal authority for arming the people in time of peace was very doubtful. Thus the Parliament, whilst the question of the Militia was in dispute, authorised "An Act for the better raising and levying of soldiers for the present defence of the kingdoms of England and Ireland," in which it was declared that, "by the laws of this realm, none of his majesty's subjects ought to be impressed, or compelled to go out of his county to serve as a soldier in the wars, except in case of necessity of the sudden coming in of strange enemies into the kingdom, or except they be otherwise bound by the tenure of their lands or possessions." There appeared no legal provision for calling out the Militia in time of peace, except by a new Act of Parliament. With our present knowledge of the constitutional powers of the sovereign, we can have no hesitation in affirming that the power of nominating the officers of such a force was necessarily a part of the royal prerogative; and that the requisition of the Commons to place the command of the Militia in the hands of lords-lieutenant of each county, to be nominated in a bill, and to obey the orders of the two Houses, was an undue invasion of the rights of the Crown. But, on the other hand, we must not forget that in the case of Charles he had manifested a disposition, which Strafford had distinctly encouraged, to employ an army to make himself absolute. The king and the parliament were at issue upon the vital point as to which should wield the power of the sword. The Commons suspected the king. The king hated the Commons. The question of the Militia, and the question of episcopacy, were the questions that made the opening year of 1642 the most ominous in English history. The king endeavoured to solve the grand difficulty by what, in modern times, is called a coup-d'état.
When Charles, at this period of tumult and alarm, had bestowed office on Colepepper and Falkland, and had sought the councils of Hyde, he "declared that he would do nothing that in any degree concerned or related to his service in the House of Commons without their joint advice, and exact communication to them of all his own conceptions." So writes Clarendon, adding, "which without doubt his majesty did at that time stedfastly resolve, though in very few days he did very fatally swerve from it." The historian then describes the influence possessed over the king by lord Digby, who he represents as a man of great vanity, ambition, and self-confidence. "The king himself," he says, was the unfittest person alive to be served by such a counsellor, being too easily inclined to sudden enterprises, and as easily startled when they were entered upon." Thus, he says, "a very unhappy counsel was proposed and resolution taken, without the least communication with either of the three who had been so lately admitted to an entire trust." It would have been difficult for an enemy of Charles to have more strongly depicted the weakness, rashness, and faithlessness of his character, than in these words of his friend and panegyrist.
On the 2nd of January, when the king sent his refusal to the Commons to appoint a guard for their security, he added, "We do engage to you' solemnly, on the word of a king, that the security of all and every one of you
*16 Car. I. c. 28.