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mummery had been gone through, they were reprieved. Markham and two others were banished; Grey died in the Tower eleven years afterwards; and Cobham, being discharged after some time, died in poverty, 1619. Raleigh remained in prison.
5. The Hampton Court Conference. When James was on his way to London, the Puritan clergy presented to him the famous " Millenary Petition," so called because of its The having been signed by nearly 1,000 persons. Disavowing. Petition. all motives of faction and desire of a dissolution of the ecclesiastical state, they humbly desired the redress of certain abuses, and asked for a conference, which was held in January, 1604, at Hampton Court. On the one side were about eighteen bishops and high dignitaries of the church, and on the other were four leaders of the reforming party, Drs. Reynolds and Spark, professors of divinity at Oxford, being two of them. The King presided.
The chief business was done on the third day, when the Puritans demanded, among other things, that the Prayer Book should be revised; that the cap and surplice, the sign of the cross in baptism, baptism by women, confirmation, the use of the ring in marriage, the reading of the Apocrypha, and bowing at the name of Jesus, should be set aside; that non-residence and pluralities, and commendams held by bishops, should not be allowed; and that unnecessary excommunications, and the obligation of subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles, should be abolished. None of these demands were inconsistent with an established hierarchy, and they were such reformations as men like Bacon and others, not at all connected with the Puritans, desired to see effected.*
The Bishops of London and Winchester, and some of the deans, spoke vehemently against these proposals, and, after they had spoken, James took up the argument himself. Never, says a popular writer, did royalty display itself in a more undignified manner, or episcopacy degrade itself more by a servile flattery of royalty. James had a long-standing debt to settle with the Puritans, for they had not only been the main cause of his unhappy mother's defamation and ruin, but their sympathisers in Scotland, the Presbyterians, had harassed him perpetually, and degraded and humiliated him continually. Up to 1590, he had fallen in with the views of the kirk, and, in the general assembly at Edinburgh, had publicly thanked God "that he belonged to the purest kirk in the world." But James was "rather a bold liar than a good dissembler," and from 1596, when he began to have a clear prospect of his succession to the English throne, his opinions turned decidedly towards episcopacy; and, in 1599, he wrote a book, called Basilicon Doron, for the instruction of his son Henry, in which he scurrilously abused the Presbyterian * Hallam's Const. Hist., I., 298, † Knight's Pop. Hist., II., 314. Hallam, I., 297, Note.
system. The fact is, that the episcopal establishment promised him that obsequiousness which he was so delighted to receive, and to which he had been so little accustomed; and the zeal with which the bishops afterwards sought to enhance his prerogative, gave rise to his well known aphorism, "No king, no bishop." James's mind, therefore, had been made up long before he summoned the Hampton Court Conference. Dr. Reynolds, "nearly, if not altogether, the most learned man in England," was hardly permitted to speak, and the result of the conference was, that not only were few alterations made in the service, but as these were not such as were demanded by the Puritans, and James made them without consulting the bishops, they pleased no party. A proclamation was published enforcing conformity, and Bancroft, of London, who, about this time, succeeded Whitgift in the primacy, so severely carried out the royal injunction, that he expelled 300 clergymen from their livings, for not observing the prescribed order of Common Prayer. But this was not all; ten of the leading men who had presented the Millenary Petition were arrested; the judges in the Star Chamber declared their presentation of that petition an offence fineable at discretion, and very near to treason and felony, and they were all committed to prison. Such were the beginnings by which the house of Stuart indicated the course they would steer, and thus was thrown away the best opportunity that had ever presented itself for healing the wounds of the Church of England. One benefit, however, resulted from the conference, viz.-the present authorised translation of the Bible, which was begun in 1607, and completed in 1611.
6. James's first parliament. In a few days, James met his first parliament (March 19th, 1604), with the most flattering anticipations, and he opened the session with a gracious speech. But there was already, in the lower house, a formidable party marshalled against him, whom he had, even thus early, alienated from his government, and whose animosity was sharpened by the proclamation with which parliament had been summoned. clamation. After dilating, in his usual bombastic style, upon a series of common-place truths, James had prescribed the sort of men who were to be chosen by the people as their representatives, and among other directions, had given orders that no bankrupts or outlaws should be elected; that all returns were to be filed in chancery; and that, if any town elected a person contrary to the proclamation, the town was to be fined, and the person elected fined and imprisoned. Such an assumption of control over
* Hallam, I., 297, Note. + Ibid, 296-298.
parliamentary elections the Commons were determined Right of to resist. Sir Francis Goodwin had been returned for to decide Buckinghamshire in opposition to Fortescue, a member elections. of the council, and the writ filed in chancery. But Goodwin was an outlaw; his election was, therefore, declared null and void, and, a new writ being issued, Fortescue was returned. The Commons then voted that Goodwin had been duly elected, on which the King told them that they had no business to meddle with election returns; and that all their matters of privilege were derived from him and his grant. He then commanded them to confer with the judges; but after a warm debate it was unanimously agreed not to obey this order, on which James commanded the house, as an absolute King," to hold the said conference. It was then decided that both elections should be set aside, and a new writ issued. By this compromise, the Commons were victorious; for James conceded that their house was a court of record and judge of returns; the speaker, by order of the house issued his warrant for the new writ, and the Commons have ever since continued to exercise, without dispute, the right which they claimed, of deciding upon the merits of contested elections.*
Another privilege which the Commons defended during this session was, that which gave them freedom from arrest for debt during the session. Sir Thomas Shirley, a member, Freedom having been imprisoned in the Fleet for debt, was, after arrest. some trouble, released, and to save the warden of the Fleet from being sued by the creditors for allowing him to escape, an act was passed, giving creditors power to arrest a member for debt, after the expiration of parliament, and discharging from liability those out of whose custody such member should be delivered. Ă special clause distinctly maintained that the house has a right to punish any person who should violate this privilege of parliament.† The two principal grievances in the civil government Complaint were, purveyance, and the incidents of military tenure. grievances. The Commons asserted in their petition that the former had been restrained by not less than 36 statutes, yet, in spite of these, carts and carriages were impressed for the King's use, and victuals were exacted for his household at prices far below the true value, and in larger quantities than were necessary; and those who resisted were imprisoned under the warrant of the Board of Green Cloth.‡ The purveyors
*Hallam, I., 301-302; Lingard. IX., 27, Note. † Hallam, I., 303.
A court of the King's household for keeping the peace, &c., within the verge of the palace, composed of the lord-steward,; comptroller, &c., and so called from the green cloth which covered the table.
"The True Law of Free Monarchies."
even went so far as to live at free quarters upon the country; they felled trees without the owner's consent; and they compelled men to labour for little or no remuneration. The old feudal prerogative of guardianship in chivalry was attacked by the Commons with still more bitterness, because it was known that Cecil derived a goodly income from it. Its consideration was referred to a committee, in which Bacon, then a rising statesman, took an active share. But nothing was done by the committee, the matter being considered unseasonable in the King's first parliament. Indeed, none of the grievances complained of were redressed. The Commons, therefore, showed little disposition to grant a subsidy, and the bill which they had passed, granting tonnage and poundage for life, was burdened with so many reservations, that James was offended, and he expressly desired them not to enter upon the business of a subsidy. These causes of dissatisfaction, together with others regarding ecclesiastical matters, so much annoyed the King, that he seems to have expressed his opinions very strongly, in a speech to the Commons, to which they replied by their celebrated vindication called "A form of apology and satisfaction to be delivered to his majesty." Several years before James came to the English throne, he had published a discourse on The True Law of Free Monarchies," in which he had stated in the broadest terms, that the duty of a king was to command, and that of a subject to obey; that kings reigned by Divine right, and were raised by the Almighty above all law; that a sovereign might daily make statutes and ordinances, and inflict such punishments as he thought meet, without any advice of parliament or estates; that general laws made publicly in parliament may be mitigated or suspended by the king, upon causes only known to him; and that, "although a good king will frame all his actions to be according to the law, yet he is not bound thereto but of his own will, and for example-giving to his subjects." These principles, so totally inconsistent with the foundations of national freedom, the Commons deter"Apology" mined to combat; and, therefore, before they separated, they resolved to leave on record their solemn opinions, in the form of a justification of their proceedings.
of the Commons.
The King had affirmed, they said, owing to the information which had been openly delivered to him,"
(1) That their privileges were not of right, but of grace only, renewed every parliament on petition.
(2) That they were not a court of record, and had no power to command a view of records.
* Hallam, I., 299.
(3) And that the examination of election returns was without their compass, and belonged to the Court of Chancery.
These assertions, they said, tended directly to the utter overthrow of their privileges, and of the rights and liberties of England, which they and their ancestors had undoubtedly enjoyed from time immemorial. In order, therefore, that their protestations against these principles might be recorded to all posterity, they maintained
(1) That their privileges and liberties are their right and inheritance, no less than their very lands and goods.
(2) That they cannot be withheld from them, denied, or impaired, but with wrong to the whole realm.
(3) That their petition, at the opening of each parliament, to enjoy their privileges, is only an act of manners, which does not weaken their right.
(4) That their house is, and always has been, a court of record.
(5) That parliament is the very highest court in the land, and that, with the King's consent, it gives law to all other courts, but from other courts receives neither laws nor orders.
(6) That the House of Commons is the sole proper judge of election returns, as, otherwise, elections would not be free.
(7) And, finally, with regard to their endeavours to obtain redress of religious and public grievances, they state, in the clearest terms, that the Kings of England have no more absolute power in themselves to alter religion, or to make laws concerning it, than they have to make laws regarding the temporal state; but that, in both, they are bound to act with the consent of parliament.
Such," observes our great constitutional historian, was the voice of the English Commons, in 1604, at the commencement of that great conflict for their liberties which is measured by the line of Stuart." *
7. Religious persecutions. While the parliament was thus engaged, the convocation had been drawing up a Code of Puritans. Ecclesiastical Canons, amounting to 141.
They declared the sentence of excommunication, ipso facto, against all persons who denied the King's supremacy, or the orthodoxy of the established church; who affirmed that the Prayer Book was superstitious or unlawful, the Thirty-nine Articles erroneous, or the Liturgy repugnant to God's Word; or who separated from the church and established conventicles, or asserted that ecclesiastical regulations might be made without the royal consent.
By this sentence of excommunication, all Nonconformists were at once deprived of their civil rights, and an unwarranted authority was set up over the whole nation, which instantly drew the attention of parliament. A bill was brought in, declaring no ecclesiastical regulations binding except by consent of parliament; but it did not reach a third reading. The Commons, however, in their Apology, distinctly stated that such regulations were unconstitutional; and it has ever since been laid down by the judges in Westminster Hall, that the canons then made do not bind the people so long as they have not the approbation of parliament. As soon, however, as the canons were published, Archbishop
* Hallam, I., 305-307.