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THE KING ATTEMPTS TO SEIZE THE FIVE MEMBERS.
from violence is, and ever shall be, as much our care as the preservation of ourselves and our children." On the 3rd of January, the attorney-general, sir Edward Herbert, appeared at the bar of the House of Lords, and in the king's name accused of high-treason, lord Kimbolton, and five members of the Commons. These members were Pym, Hollis, Hampden, Haslerig, and Strode. The attorney-general desired that these persons should be placed in custody, and a secret committee appointed to examine witnesses. They were accused of endeavouring to subvert the fundamental laws of the kingdom, and deprive the king of his regal power; of alienating the affections of the people from the king; of drawing his majesty's late army from their obedience; of encouraging a foreign power, Scotland, to invade the kingdom; of endeavouring to subvert the rights of parliament; of compelling the parlia ment to join with them in their traitorous designs; and of conspiring to levy war against the king. The charge of corresponding with the Scots, in 1640, was, as we have shown, a technical act of treason, for which there was a legal defence under the Statute of Oblivion. The other charges had reference to their parliamentary conduct, as Clarendon implies. On the same day a serjeant-at-arms appeared at the bar of the House of Commons, and required the Speaker to place five members in his custody, whom the king had accused of high-treason. The five members were present when the officer named them. They remained in their places, silent. The Speaker commanded the serjeant to retire; and sent a deputation to the king, of which Falkland and Colepepper formed part, to say that so important a message should receive their most serious consideration, and that the members should be ready to answer any legal charge. The papers of the accused had been sealed up, at their lodgings, by the king's command. The House ordered that the seals should be removed, and the Speaker's warrant issued for the apprehension of those who had affixed them. The House then adjourned. On the morning of the 4th, the five members of the Commons were in their places. It was perfectly well known to a few what was about to happen. The king had acted illegally, in the first instance, by sending a serjeant-atarms to demand the persons of the members without any warrant of the privy council or of a magistrate. It was now known that he was about to follow up this despotic attempt by an act still more unconstitutional. The Commons sent a message to the lord mayor, aldermen, and common council, to inform them that the privileges of parliament were in danger; and some members were deputed to the inns of court to desire the law students not to come to Westminster, as it was understood that they had been tampered with. The House then adjourned till one o'clock. In a short time, it was made known that the king was coming down the street from Whitehall, escorted by three or four hundred armed persons. Again it was reported that the king, with his band of attendants, had entered Westminster Hall. It was a moment of terrible suspense. Some members drew their swords. The more prudent urged the five accused to retire, to prevent bloodshed. An account of the scene which ensued has been preserved in the notes of one present, sir Ralph Verney, member for Aylesbury. It is as graphic as it is important as a parliamentary precedent.*
Mr. Hallam prints it from the original notes more correctly than it is given in Hatsell's "Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons."
THE KING ATTEMPTS TO SEIZE THE FIVE MEMBERS.
"As soon as the House met again [after the morning adjournment], it was moved, considering there was an intention to take these five members away by force, to avoid all tumult, let them be commanded to absent themselves; upon this the House gave them leave to absent themselves, but entered no order for it. And then the five gentlemen went out of the house.
"A little after, the king came with all his guard, and all his pensioners, and two or three hundred soldiers and gentlemen. The king commanded the soldiers to stay in the hall, and sent us word he was at the door. The Speaker was commanded to sit still, with the mace lying before him; and then the king came to the door, and took the palsgrave in with him, and commanded all that came with him on their lives not to come in. So the doors were kept open, and the earl of Roxburgh stood within the door, leaning upon it. Then the king came upwards towards the chair, with his hat off, and the Speaker stepped out to meet him; then the king stepped up to his place, and stood upon the step, but sat not down in the chair.
"And after he had looked a great while he told us he would not break our privileges, but treason had no privilege; he came for those five gentlemen, for he expected obedience yesterday, and not an answer. Then he called
Mr. Pym and Mr. Hollis by name, but no answer was made. Then he asked the Speaker if they were here, or where they were? Upon this the Speaker fell on his knees, and desired his excuse, for he was a servant to the House, and had neither eyes nor tongue to see or say anything but what they commanded him: then the king told him he thought his own eyes were as good as his, and then said his birds had flown, but he did expect the House should send them to him; and if they did not, he would seek them himself, for their treason was foul, and such a one as they would all thank him to discover: then he assured us they should have a fair trial; and so went out, pulling off his hat till he came to the door.
"Upon this the House did instantly resolve to adjourn till to-morrow at one of the clock, and in the interim they might consider what to do.”
The king demands the Members at Guildhall-Manifestations of popular discontent-The king removes from Whitehall-The Members brought back in triumph-The queen leaves England-Conference at Newmarket-The king refused entrance to Hull-Parliamentary Ordinance for the Militia-The king forms a body guard at York-Propositions of the Parliament-View of society immediately before the commencement of the Civil WarArming of the People-The Cavaliers-Influence and character of the Puritans-The Clergy-Shutting-up of the Playhouses-Volunteers of London-Women petitioningLondon apprentices-Industry affected by the preparations for civil war--Disturbances in the country districts-Maintenance of order generally - Influence of the Press-The Poets -The Journalists-Superstitions-The king sets up his Standard at Nottingham-His gloomy prospects-Messages between the king and parliament-Essex marches from London.
WHEN the king left the House of Commons, the members for a few seconds sat in mute astonishment; but the cry of "Privilege, Privilege," then burst forth, and the House instantly adjourned. As the members passed into the lobbies, they found themselves amongst a crowd of their own servants and other spectators, who were repeating the violent expressions which had been used by the king's attendants. The accused members proceeded to the city. The night was one of general alarm. The citizens formed themselves into armed patrols. The cry was that the Cavaliers were coming
THE KING DEMANDS THE MEMBERS AT GUILDHALL.
[1642. to fire the city. At Whitehall there was terror and despondency. The queen, who in the morning had seen the king go forth from the palace, promising her that he would return in an hour, master of his kingdom, saw him return under the disgrace of having attempted an unlawful act, and failed in the attempt. In the evening it was known that the six members were in a house in Coleman-street. Lord Digby offered, says Clarendon, "with a select company of gentlemen, who would accompany him, whereof sir Thomas Lunsford was one, to seize upon them, and bring them away alive, or leave them dead in the place." The historian, who had just related the scene in the House of Commons, adds, with wonderful naïveté, "but the king did not like such enterprises." The Commons assembled on the 5th, and, declaring the king's coming "in a warlike manner" a high breach of privilege, adjourned for six days, appointing Committees to sit in the city. One Committee occupied Grocers' Hall, another occupied Merchant Taylors' Hall. Charles himself on that morning rode into the city without any guards. He was received by the people generally with cold respect, and by some with cries of "Privilege of Parliament." One man threw into his carriage a paper inscribed "To your tents, O Israel!" The king had written to the lord-mayor to summon a Common Council in Guildhall. He told them that he came amongst them without a guard, to show his affection; "that he had accused certain men of high-treason, against whom he would proceed in a legal way; and therefore he presumed they would not shelter them in the city." Clarendon adds, "he departed without that applause and cheerfulness which he might have expected from the extraordinary grace he vouchsafed to them." The king told one of the sheriffs whom he wished to conciliate, that he would dine with him; and having dined, he returned homewards, hearing the cry of "Privilege of Parliament" repeated, and looking upon faces of gloom and disquiet. It was Twelfth Night. The old Christmas gaiety of Whitehall was interrupted by such occurrences as England had never before seen. But on this Twelfth Night the one play of that Christmas was performed in the Cock-pit. The king and queen were not present; the prince of Wales, then a boy of twelve, was there to laugh at the scenes of "The Scornful Lady," one of the most popular of the dramas of Beaumont and Fletcher. This was the last dramatic performance which Whitehall witnessed during the reign of Charles.* There were four more days of fear and vacillation whilst the king and his family remained in the capital. The Common Council sent a petition to the king, complaining of the attempt to arrest the members. He makes an answer which only increases the discontent. On the 8th he issues a proclamation to arrest lord Kimbolton and the five Commoners. The parliamentary committees in the city meet the proclamation by great preparations to bring them back in triumph to Westminster. The courtiers now became alarmed for the personal safety of the king and queen. On the evening of the 10th Charles left Whitehall for Hampton Court. He never again entered that palace of the English kings, till that fatal morning when he walked across the Park from St. James's, attended by bishop Juxon, and guarded by a regiment of foot.
The book of the Master of the Revels furnishes this record. See Collier's "Annals of the Stage," vol. ii. p. 102.
THEY RETURN IN TRIUMPH TO PARLIAMENT.
At two o'clock of that day se'nnight on which the king had entered the House of Commons, the accused members were brought back to the Parliament-stairs, in a rude triumph which presented a remarkable contrast to the welcome which the city gave its sovereign on the 25th of November. From London bridge to Westminster the Thames was covered with pleasure-barges and wherries filled with citizens. Lighters and long-boats, carrying pieces of ordnance, and dressed up with streamers, surrounded the barges of the Commons. The trained bands marched past Whitehall, bearing on their pikes the Protestation of 1641, and the printed votes of the Commons declaring the king's breach of their privileges, pinned on their breasts. As the crowd passed the palace they exclaimed, "Where are now the king and his cavaliers ?" The House of Commons having met, the sheriffs of London were called in, and received the thanks of the Speaker. The masters and officers of ships, who had formed the river-guard, were also thanked. Then came the freeholders of Buckinghamshire, who, to the number of four thousand, had arrived in London to offer their services for the defence of Parliament. They came, each wearing the famous Protestation in his hat.* A deputation from the frecholders went the next day with a petition to the king, in which they prayed that their representative, Mr. Hampden, and the other members who laboured under a "foul accusation," might enjoy the just privileges of parliament. The king replied, "that because of the doubt that hath been raised of the manner, he would waive his former proceedings, and proceed in an unquestionable way." This "unquestionable way" was never tried. Another attempt of the king's rashest partisans was as unpropitious as the breach of privilege. On the day when the Buckinghamshire petition was presented, lord Digby and colonel Lunsford appeared with a body of men in arms at Kingston. The Parliament proclaimed them traitors. Digby fled beyond sea; Lunsford and his cavaliers attended the king to Windsor.
In the councils of Windsor, in which we may now well believe that better advisers were listened to than the vain Digby or the truculent Lunsford, a sensible plan of operations was resolved upon. The king was to refrain from all open contests with the Parliament; to hold out terms of conciliation, and gradually to retire to the north, whilst his friends were gathering strength. Charles invited the Houses, on the 20th of January, to reduce all their complaints to one specific relation. The Peers hailed this as an omen of peace; the Commons would put no faith in the king's desire for conciliation, unless he would transfer the military commands of fortresses and the Militia to those who possessed the confidence of parliament. The king gave a decided refusal to the Commons' " sure ground of safety." The House then directed, by Ordinance, that Goring, the governor of Portsmouth, and Hotham, the governor of Hull, should hold those garrisons "for king and parliament," and surrender to no one but under the authority of the parliament. Day by day was the contest growing to a fatal crisis. The Houses passed a Bill for regulating the Militia early in February. About the
*Butler calls this document
"The prototype of reformation,
Which all the saints, and some, since martyrs,
Wore in their hats, like wedding-garters."-Hudibras, canto 2.