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to commend in this stern severity of the Commons towards public delinquents, there occurred an instance in which they were hurried by the passions of the moment, into an act of the most unwarrantable violence. The house was in a rage about the Palatinate, and when it came to their knowledge that a Roman Catholic Punishbarrister, named Floyd, then confined in the Tower, had Floyd, a expressed his satisfaction that "goodman Palsgrave, and Catholic. goodwife Palsgrave," had been driven from Prague, nothing could exceed their fury, and they fixed upon the most degrading punishment they could devise. But the house went beyond its powers, and Floyd, knowing this, appealed to the King, who questioned the right of the house to judge offences which did not interfere with its privileges. This placed the Commons in some embarrassment; because, in the matter of Mompesson, they had acknowledged that they had no jurisdiction, except over offences against themselves. Floyd had denied the charge brought against him; a question then arose, whether the house could sentence a denying party, without the oath of witnesses; on which the further question was raised, whether the house was a court of record, empowered with judicial authority, and the administration of an oath. In a conference with the Lords, the Commons were unable to maintain these points, and Floyd was brought before the House of Lords. But this conflict of privileges was of no service to the unfortunate culprit, the severity of whose sentence was only augmented by his new judges. He was degraded from his gentility, declared infamous, and unworthy of testimony; was condemned to ride from the Fleet to Cheapside on horseback, without a saddle, with his face to the horse's tail, and the tail in his hand, and there to stand two hours in the pillory, and to be branded in the forehead with the letter K; to ride, four days afterwards, in the same manner, to Westminster, there to stand two hours more in the pillory, with a paper in his hat showing his offence; to be whipped at the cart's tail, from the Fleet to Westminster; to pay a fine of £5,000; and to be a prisoner in Newgate during his life. He underwent the whole of this horrible sentence, with the exception of the whipping, which was remitted at the request of Prince Charles. What an unhappy proof this is of the fact, that the passions of a popular assembly have been as distinct, if not as frequent, a source of injustice, as the despotic tendencies of a king; and that the privilege of parliament, when undefined and uncontrolled, is as exorbitant a power, as the most illegal stretch of prerogative! Both prerogative and privilege ought to be kept
equally in restraint; and perhaps the best restraint is, an enlightened public opinion.*
So far everything had proceeded with harmony between the King and parliament. But when James intimated to them, in June, that he expected them to adjourn over the summer, some dissatisfaction was produced, especially as nothing had been done with regard to the great object of their meeting, viz., the affairs of the Palatinate. Before they adjourned, therefore, the Commons entered a solemn protest in the journals, which stated that they would spend their lives and fortunes in defence of their religion, and of the cause of the Elector. This protestation was carried amidst the greatest acclamation; all the members cheering and waving their hats, the like of which, says an eye witness, "had scarce ever been seen in parliament;" and, to confirm their oath with the solemnity of religious worship, Sir Edward Coke fell on his knees, and recited, with many tears and great emphasis, the collect for the King and royal family from the Book of Common Prayer.
19. Second session of parliament, 1621-22. The two houses re-assembled November 20th, 1621. In the interval, Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, and a dependent of Buckingham, was appointed lord chancellor; and he advised the King to prepare for this second session by removing the most obnoxious monopolies, by inquiring into the disappearance of the gold coin, and by framing regulations for the increase of the export trade. The session was opened by commissioners, who announced that a body of troops had been sent to defend the Palatinate, and that money was wanted for their pay. But the commissioners spoke to dissatisfied and irritated minds; the parliament had no confidence in the King, who they knew was secretly corresponding with Spain; and the failure of an attempt against Algiers by Admiral Mansell, for the suppression of Algerine piracy in the Mediterranean, chiefly through the King's timidity and parsimony, had excited general and bitter complaint. Lords Essex and Oxford,
also, had just arrived from the Palatinate, and declared that that country was lost for want of timely aid. When, therefore, the commissioners demanded £900,000 for the support of the troops one year, the Commons voted only £70,000. During the recess, Sir Edwin Sandys, one of the popular leaders, had been committed to the Tower; but, though his boldness of speech in the parliament was undoubtedly his offence, the King protested that his commitment was in no way connected with the privileges of the house. * Hallam, I., 361; Pop. Hist., III., 381.
The Commons were, therefore, easily appeased; but, at the suggestion of Coke, they drew up a petition and remonstrance against the growth of popery, intimating, among other remedies for this grievance, that Prince Charles should marry one of his own religion, and that the King should direct his efforts against that power (meaning Spain) which first maintained the war in the Palatinate. This bold interference with high matters of state alarmed even the petitioners themselves; the petition was opposed as unprecedented; Coke even defended it but weakly, and some words were inserted which declared, that the house "did not mean to press on the King's most undoubted and royal prerogative." Before the petition was presented, however, the King obtained a copy of it, and he sent a violent and peremptory letter to the speaker, commanding the house not to meddle with any matter of government, or mystery of state. And with regard to Sandys, he bade them be informed that he was not committed for any misdemeanour in parliament; yet, that they might not be in doubt about it, he would let them know that he would punish any man's misdemeanours in parliament, and meant not to spare. The Commons received this message with unanimous firmness, but without any undue warmth; and they returned a temperate answer, in which the King was told that their liberty of speech was their ancient and undoubted right. James replied that their privileges were derived from the grace and permission of his ancestors and himself; the Commons maintained that their claims were the birthright of the nation; an angry war of petitions and remonstrances, messages and recriminations, was commenced, which the Commons terminated by entering upon the journals of their house their famous protestation (December 18th, 1621), in which they stated
1. That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of parliament, are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England.
2. That the affairs concerning the King, state, and defence of the realm, and of the church of England, the making and maintenance of laws, and redress of mischiefs and grievances, are proper subjects and matter of counsel and debate in parliament.
3. That in the handling of these matters every member hath, and of right ought to have, freedom of speech; and that the Commons have full liberty and freedom to treat of these matters as in their judgments seems fittest.
4. That every member of the house hath like freedom from all impeachment, imprisonment, and molestation (other than by the censure of the house), for anything that takes place in parliament; and that if any member be complained of on this account, the King cannot notice it, except it be showed to him by the advice and consent of all the Commons assembled in parliament.*
* Hallam, I., 367.
This proceeding irritated the King more than ever; he sent for the journals, and tore out, with his own hand, in the presence of his council, the obnoxious protestation; and, a few days later, dissolved the parliament. Few of the popular leaders escaped his resentment; Oxford and Southampton, from the upper house, and Coke, Philips, Selden, Pym, and Mallory, from the lower, were summoned before the council, and imprisoned, some in the Tower, some in the Fleet, some in private houses, and four other less obnoxious members, Sir Dudley Digges being one, were sent on a commission to Ireland as a sort of honourable banishment. For the first time since the Reformation, the Lords had united, in this session, with the Commons in opposing the court, the Earls of Essex, Southampton, Warwick, Oxford, and Lords Say and Spencer, being the chief. This opposition, remarks Hallam, "must be reckoned an evident sign of the change that was at work in the spirit of the nation, and by which no rank could be wholly unaffected." "The struggle which was to be fought out in the battle-field, twenty years afterwards, was already begun in a most unmistakeable manner. It was a contest for first principles -whether England should be a constitutional monarchy, or a despotism."*
20. The Spanish match. This remarkable protest of the Commons was owing, in a great measure, to the secret negotiations which James had, for some time, been carrying on with Spain. At first, he had sought to connect himself with France, by soliciting the hand of the Princess Christine for his son Henry, and then for Prince Charles. But Christine married Philip, Prince of Spain, while her brother Louis married Philip's sister, Anne of Austria. The Spanish King, however, offered James his next daughter, Donna Maria, and, after three years' treaty. negotiations, the articles of agreement were drawn up (1623), the main points of which were, that the Infanta should have the free exercise of her religion; that no more priests should be executed for the simple performance of their functions; and that the Catholics should be relieved from the pressure of the penal laws. James immediately released 4,000 recusants from confinement, and matters were brought almost to a conclusion, a dispensation from the Pope being the only thing waited for, when the Prince of Wales and the Marquis of Buckingham, under the disguised names of John and Thomas Smith, made their ngham at appearance at the Spanish court, and put an end to So far, the Spanish court had *Const. Hist., I., 368.
Charles and Buck
protracted the treaty, in order to extort more favourable terms; it was now to become the dupe of its own artifices. To relate the intrigues that took place, the festivities, bull fights, tournaments, processions, and banquets, which marked the residence of Charles in Madrid, would be beyond our purpose. Suffice it to say, therefore, that James had solemnly engaged to ratify whatever "the sweet boys and dear ventrous knights" (as he termed Charles and his favourite) agreed upon with the Spanish court, and that, after seven months' delay, two new treaties were concluded, one public, stipulating to the Infanta and her household the free exercise of her religion, the other private, engaging that full toleration should be accorded to the Catholics, and that parliament should be induced to repeal the penal laws. Prince Charles, who manifested thus early that duplicity which formed the prominent feature of his character, was ready to go even further than this, and to agree that he would never engage in any hostile measure against the church of Rome, and would endeavour to bring about a unity of faith and worship between the two churches.*
The court of Spain, however, still hoped to profit by the presence of Prince Charles, and interposed many vexatious delays to prevent the consummation of the marriage: Buckingham, also, was jealous of the Earl of Bristol, the special ambassador who had conducted the negotiations previous to the prince's arrival; his insolent manners and gross licentiousness, had disgusted the Spaniards, who were not slow to manifest their feelings; and he had heard that his enemies at home were profiting by his absence by endeavouring to undermine his influence. The marriage treaty was, therefore, suddenly broken off, although there wanted but four days before the ceremony was to be performed, and Charles and Buckingham returned home, to the universal rejoicing of the English nation.+
21. James's last Parliament. 1624. Buckingham obtained a transient and unmerited popularity by thus averting a great national mischief, and in his confidence in this altered tone of public feeling, he persuaded the King to summon a parliament. Before it met, he held several private conferences with the opposition leaders of both houses, at which it was agreed, that a plentiful supply should be voted, on condition that an end was put to the marriage treaty, and war immediately declared against Spain. The session opened on the 19th of February, 1624, and in a conference held between the two houses, Buckingham gave a full account of the late negotiations. His statement was false, * Ranke, II., 500. + See Lingard, IX., 198-213, for full details of all these negotiations.