Изображения страниц

CHAP. produced a mutual coldness and disgust between the king XLVIII. and the Commons.

the king and the

During the recess of Parliament, the king used every measure to render himself popular with the nation, and to appease the rising ill humour of its representatives. Commons. He had voluntarily offered the Parliament to circumscribe his own prerogative, and to abrogate for the future his power of granting monopolies. He now recalled all the patents of that kind, and redressed every article of grievance, to the number of thirty-seven, which had ever been. complained of in the House of Commons. But he gained not the end which he proposed. The disgust, which had appeared at parting, could not so suddenly be dispelled. He had likewise been so imprudent as to commit to prison Sir Edwin Sandys ", without any known cause, besides his activity and vigour in discharging his duty as a member of Parliament. And above all, the transactions in Germany were sufficient, when joined to the king's cautions, negotiations, and delays, to inflame that jealousy of honour and religion which prevailed throughout the nation. This summer, the ban of the empire had been published against the Elector Palatine; and the execution of it was committed to the Duke of Bavaria'. The Upper Palatinate was, in a little time, conquered by that prince; and measures were taken in the empire for bestowing on him the electoral dignity, of which the Palatine was then despoiled. Frederic now lived with his numerous family, in poverty and distress, either in Holland or at Sedan, with his uncle the Duke of Bouillon; and throughout all the new conquests, in both the Palatinates, as well as in Bohemia, Austria, and Lusatia, the progress of the Austrian arms was attended with rigours and severities, exercised against the professors of the reformed religion.

1621. Rupture between

c Rushworth, vol. i. p. 36. Kennet, p. 733.

d Journ. 1st Dec. 1621.

e To show to what degree the nation was inflamed with regard to the Palatinate, there occurs a remarkable story this session. One Floyd, a prisoner in the Fleet, a Catholic, had dropped some expressions, in private conversation, as if he were pleased with the misfortunes of the Palatine and his wife. The Commons were in a flame, and pretending to be a court of judicature and of record, proceeded to condemn him to a severe punishment. The House of Lords checked this encroachment; and, what was extraordinary, considering the present humour of the Lower House, the latter acquiesced in the sentiments of the Peers. This is almost the only pretension of the English Commons, in which they have not prevailed. Happily for the nation, they have been successful in almost all their other claims. See Parliamentary History, vol. v. p. 428, 429, &c. Journ. 4th, 8th, 12th May, 1621.

f Franklyn, p. 73.


14th Nov.

The zeal of the Commons immediately moved them, CHAP. upon their assembling, to take all these transactions into consideration. They framed a remonstrance, which they, 1621. intended to carry to the king. They represented, that the enormous growth of the Austrian power threatened the liberties of Europe; that the progress of the Catholic religion in England bred the most melancholy apprehensions lest it should again acquire an ascendant in the kingdom; that the indulgence of his majesty towards the professors of that religion had encouraged their insolence and temerity; that the uncontrolled conquests, made by the Austrian family in Germany, raised mighty expectations in the English papists; but above all, that the prospect of the Spanish match elevated them so far as to hope for an entire toleration, if not the final re-establishment of their religion. The Commons, therefore, entreated his majesty, that he would immediately undertake the defence of the Palatinate, and maintain it by force of arms; that he would turn his sword against Spain, whose armies and treasures were the chief support of the Catholic interest in Europe; that he would enter into no negotiation for the marriage of his son but with a Protestant princess; that the children of popish recusants should be taken from their parents, and be committed to the care of Protestant teachers and schoolmasters; and that the fines and confiscations, to which the Catholics were by law liable, should be levied with the utmost severity.

By this bold step, unprecedented in England for many years, and scarcely ever heard of in peaceable times, the Commons attacked at once all the king's favourite maxims of government, his cautious and pacific measures, his lenity towards the Romish religion, and his attachment to the Spanish alliance, from which he promised himself such mighty advantages. But what most disgusted him was, their seeming invasion of his prerogative, and their pretending, under colour of advice, to direct his conduct in such points as had ever been acknowledged to belong solely to the management and direction of the sovereign. He was, at that time, absent at Newmarket; but as soon as he heard of the intended remonstrance of the Com

8 Franklyn, p. 58, 59. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 40, 41. Kennet, p. 737.

CHAP. mons, he wrote a letter to the speaker, in which he XLVIII. sharply rebuked the House for openly debating matters 1621. far above their reach and capacity, and he strictly forbade them to meddle with any thing that regarded his government, or deep matters of state, and especially not to touch on his son's marriage with the daughter of Spain, nor to attack the honour of that king, or any other of his friends and confederates. In order the more to intimidate them, he mentioned the imprisonment of Sir Edwin Sandys; and though he denied that the confinement of that member had been owing to any offence committed in the House, he plainly told them, that he thought himself fully entitled to punish every misdemeanor in Parliament, as well during its sitting as after its dissolution; and that he intended thenceforward to chastise any man, whose insolent behaviour there should minister occasion of offence ".

This violent letter, in which the king, though he here imitated former precedents, may be thought not to have acted altogether on the defensive, had the effect which might naturally have been expected from it: the Commons were inflamed, not terrified. Secure of their own popularity, and of the bent of the nation towards a war with the Catholics abroad, and the persecution of popery at home, they little dreaded the menaces of a prince who was unsupported by military force, and whose gentle temper would, of itself, so soon disarm his severity. In a new remonstrance, therefore, they still insisted on their former remonstrance and advice; and they maintained, though in respectful terms, that they were entitled to interpose with their counsel in all matters of government; that to possess entire freedom of speech, in their debates on public business, was their ancient and undoubted right, and an inheritance transmitted to them from their ancestors; and that if any member abused this liberty, it belonged to the House alone, who were witnesses of his offence, to inflict a proper censure upon him '.

So vigorous an answer was nowise calculated to appease the king. It is said, when the approach of the

h Franklyn, p. 60.
i Franklyn, p. 60.

Rushworth, vol. i. p. 43.
Rushworth, vol. i. p. 44.

Kennet, p. 741.
Kennet, p. 741.


committee who were to present it was notified to him, CHAP. he ordered twelve chairs to be brought, for that there XLVIII. were so many kings a-coming. His answer was prompt and sharp. He told the House, that their remonstrance was more like a denunciation of war than an address of dutiful subjects; that their pretensions to inquire into all state affairs, without exception, was such a plenipotence as none of their ancestors, even during the reign of the weakest princes, had ever pretended to; that public transactions depended on a complication of views and intelligence, with which they were entirely unacquainted; that they could not better show their wisdom, as well as duty, than by keeping within their proper sphere'; and that, in any business which depended on his prerogative, they had no title to interpose with their advice, except when he was pleased to desire it; and he concluded with these memorable words: And though we cannot allow of your style, in mentioning your ancient and undoubted right and inheritance, but would rather have wished that ye had said, that your privileges were derived from the grace and permission of our ancestors, and us, (for the most of them grew from precedents, which shows rather a toleration than inheritance,) yet we are pleased to give you our royal assurance, that as long as you contain yourselves within the limits of your duty, we will be as careful to maintain and preserve your lawful liberties and privileges as ever any of our predecessors were, nay, as to preserve our own royal prerogative".

This open pretension of the king naturally gave great alarm to the House of Commons. They saw their title to every privilege, if not plainly denied, yet considered at least as precarious. It might be forfeited by abuse, and they had already abused it. They thought proper, there- 18th Dec. fore, immediately to oppose pretension to pretension; they framed a protestation, in which they repeated all their Protestaformer claims for freedom of speech, and an unbounded tion of the authority to interpose with their advice and counsel; and they asserted, That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and


k Kennet, p. 43.

Ne sutor ultra crepidam. obliging but it was a Latin m Franklyn, p. 62, 63, 64.

This expression is imagined to be insolent and dis-
proverb familiarly used on all occasions.
Rushworth, vol. i. p. 46, 47, &c. Kennet, p. 743.

CHAP. jurisdictions of Parliament, are the ancient and undoubted XLVIII. birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England".

1621. The king, informed of these increasing heats and jealousies in the House, hurried to town. He sent immediately for the journals of the Commons; and, with his own hand, before the council, he tore out this protestation, and ordered his reasons to be inserted in the council book. He was doubly displeased, he said, with the protestation of the Lower House, on account of the manner of framing it, as well as of the matter which it contained. It was tumultuously voted, at a late hour, and in a thin House; and it was expressed in such general and ambiguous terms, as might serve for a foundation to the most enormous claims, and to the most unwarrantable usurpations upon his prerogative".

The meeting of the House might have proved dangerous after so violent a breach. It was no longer possible, while men were in such a temper, to finish any business. The king, therefore, prorogued the Parliament, and soon after dissolved it by proclamation, in which he also made an apology to the public for his whole conduct.

The leading members of the House, Sir Edward Coke and Sir Robert Philips, were committed to the Tower; Selden, Pym, and Mallory, to other prisons. As a lighter punishment, Sir Dudley Digges, Sir Thomas Carew, Sir Nathaniel Rich, Sir James Perrot, joined in commission with others, were sent to Ireland, in order to execute some business '. The king, at that time, enjoyed, at least exercised, the prerogative of employing any man, even without his consent, in any branch of public service.

Sir John Savile, a powerful man in the House of Commons, and a zealous opponent of the court, was made comptroller of the household, a privy counsellor, and soon after a baron. This event is memorable, as being the first instance, perhaps, in the whole history of England, of any king's advancing a man on account of Parliamentary interest, and of opposition to his measures. However irregular this practice, it will be regarded by political

n See note [MM], at the end of the volume.
P Franklyn, p. 65.
Franklyn, p. 66. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 55.

• Journ. 18th Dec. 1621. q Ibid. p. 66. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 55. s Kennet, p. 749.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »