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them to supply a certain number of ships of a specified tonnage, sufficiently armed and manned, to rendezvous at Portsmouth on the 1st of March next, and to serve six months under the King's admiral. Noy died in the meantime (August, 1634). The citizens of London remonstrated, and pleaded their freedom from such a charge by virtue of sundry charters and acts of parliament; but the imprisonment of those who refused to pay soon enforced obedience, and the city had to pay £35,000. The success of the experiment induced the council, at the suggestion of Finch, chief justice of the Common Pleas, to extend the writs from the seaport towns to the whole kingdom. Writs were, accordingly, directed to the sheriffs, informing each that his county was assessed at a certain number of ships for the fleet for the ensuing year; that the charge was estimated at a certain sum, which he was to levy on the inhabitants in the same way that he levied subsidies. By this contrivance the King obtained a yearly supply of £218,500.* Such an extraordinary demand, however, startled even those who had hitherto sided with the court. Some symptoms of opposition were shown in different places, and actions brought against those who had collected the money; but the greater part yielded, some to escape punishment, some with the idea that the tax was not heavy and would not be repeated, some in the hope that the money would be honestly applied to public purposes, and others in the belief that the tax must be legal, or it would not have been allowed by the judges. Still, because of opposition, Charles was anxious to have the legality The judges of the tax established by the decisions of the courts of decide that law; and by the aid of Finch, who was made lord chief justice of the King's Bench for the purpose, he obtained from the judges an unanimous opinion, that, in cases of danger to the good and safety of the kingdom in general, the King could impose ship money for its defence, and lawfully compel every one to pay; and that he was the sole judge of both the danger and the means for preventing it (February, 1636). The judges gave this opinion freely, supposing it had been required for the King's private satisfaction only; to their astonishment it was publicly read in Star Chamber, and ordered to be enrolled in the courts, and read at the assizes. The ministers were resolved to make the most of the decision. If it is lawful to impose a tax for the navy, wrote Strafford, then lord deputy of Ireland, "it must be so for an army; if it is lawful in England, it must be so in Scotland and Ireland. The decision,
the tax is lawful.
* Lingard, IX., 331. + Hallam, I., 435; Lingard, IX., 332.
therefore, makes the King absolute." * But there still existed a few intrepid persons, who were not content that the liberties of their country should perish thus silently; and who were determined that, at all events, the judges should make a public avowal of their shame.
13. Trial of Hampden for refusing to pay ship money. The first who resisted was the gallant Richard Chambers, who brought an action against the lord mayor, for imprisoning him on account of his refusal to pay the assessment on a former writ. The magistrate pleaded the writ as a special justification; and Berkeley, one of the judges in King's Bench, would not allow counsel to argue against the lawfulness of ship money. The next were Lord Say and Mr. Hampden, both of whom appealed to the justice of their country; but, as the latter enforced that discussion of the subject which the court had hitherto evaded, his name alone is connected with it.
John Hampden, born in London, 1594, was descended from an ancient Saxon family, which derived its name from an estate in Buckinghamshire, Life of granted to it by Edward the Confessor. His family, also, had large Hampden. possessions in Essex, Berkshire, and Oxfordshire, and had always held a high position amongst the landed gentry. His mother was the second daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell, of Hinchinbrooke, in Huntingdonshire; and aunt to Oliver Cromwell. He received his education at Oxford, whence he removed to the Inner Temple. Soon after his marriage (1619), he entered the House of Commons as member for Grampound; but he afterwards sat for Wendover. He attached himself to the popular party from the first, although he had certain prospects of a peerage if he had joined the court; but he saw a nobler dignity in store for him, and he prepared himself for it by a constant study of the great political questions of the time, and of the laws and constitution of his country. He was a man so quiet, so courteous, so submissive, that he seemed the last person in the kingdom to oppose the opinion of the judges; and, being respected by all his neighbours, of whatever party, as a sensible man who, though opposed to the prevalent system, was not fanatic nor factious, had hitherto been spared by the magistrates in their assessment of ship money. But under this appearance of humility and diffidence, he veiled a correct judgment, an invincible spirit, and the most consummate address. In 1626, he had suffered imprisonment for refusing to contribute to a forced loan, justifying his refusal by the danger of drawing upon himself the curse pronounced against the violators of Magna Charta; and now (1636), in a similar manner, he ventured to meet his sovereign in a court of law, merely, as he said, to obtain a solemn judgment on a very doubtful question.
It is plain that his real object was to awaken the people from their apathy, by the public discussion of a subject which so nearly concerned their rights and liberties. The sum demanded from him was only 20s., being the assessment upon a portion of his property situate in the parish of Stoke Mandeville. The question, though properly belonging to the Court of Exchequer, was argued,
* Strafford Papers, quoted in Lingard. † Forster's Lives, III., 310-311.
on account of its magnitude, before all the judges in the Exchequer Chamber. The precise question, so far as related to Mr. Hampden, was, whether the King had a right, on his own allegation of public danger, to require an inland county (Buckingham) to furnish ships, or a prescribed sum of money by way of commutation, for the defence of the kingdom?"* Pym and St. John were Hampden's close counsellors in the interval before the public trial, and six months were passed in preparations on both sides. St. John and Holborne were Hampden's counsel, and they managed the affair with the same prudence that he himself had shown, speaking of the King and his prerogative with profound respect, avoiding all declamation, all hazardous principles, resting solely on the laws and history of the country. The solicitorgeneral, Littleton, and the attorney-general, Banks, were the crown lawyers. The trial began November 6th, 1637. The chief points in the arguments of the defendant's counsel were these:
1. The law and constitution of England had provided for the public safety and protection, by (1) the military tenures which furnished an army; (2) the defence. tenures of the Cinque Ports, and other maritime towns, which furnished the royal navy; (3) the crown revenues and the fiscal prerogatives; (4) and the parliamentary supply.
2. The Kings of England possessed no general right of taxation, as was proved by (1) the exaction of loans and benevolences; for a sovereign who had the right to exact money would never condescend to borrow it, or ask for it as alms: (2) the charters and statutes, which, from William the Conqueror, downward, had expressly declared that no general taxes should be levied without general consent; and, though the statute Confirmatio Chartarum had excepted the accustomed aids and prizes from this general law, ship money could not be reckoned amongst these, as the statute had been enacted purposely to prevent levies for the custody of the sea which the sovereign had made the year before; but the statute De Tallagio omitted this saving clause, and many subsequent laws distinctly asserted the general principle without any exception: (3) numerous precedents, one of which exactly met the present case, and showed that, if the kingdom was in danger, as the King alleged, parliament ought to be summoned to provide for the emergency. In the 2 Richard II., when the realm was in imminent danger of an invasion, an assembly of peers was convoked, in the absence of parliament, who lent their money for the public service, but declared they could vote no supply without the sanction of the Commons, and advised the speedy summoning of parliament. But, in the case before the court, no plea of imminent danger and urgent necessity could be brought forward by the crown, because the writs for ship money were issued six months before the ships were wanted-an interval quite sufficient for the assembling and consulting of parliament.
3. But, setting aside all previous statutes and precedents, the exaction of ship money was a plain violation of the Petition of Right.
In answer to these arguments, the King's counsel appealed to the series of records which the diligence of Noy had collected. Most of them, however, were commissions of array, which had been issued in very early times, when, as Holborne said, "the government was more of force than law;" and, as
* Hallam, I., 436.
Arguments of the crown.
St. John said, "all things concerning the King's prerogative and the subjects' liberties were upon uncertainties." But statutes had been enacted since, prohibiting unparliamentary taxation; and to these the King's counsel could make no answer. They, therefore, resorted to their favourite topic-the intrinsic, absolute authority of the King; parliament could not limit his prerogatives, and the imposition of money was one of them.
The hearing of these arguments occupied thirteen days; but the decision of all the judges was not delivered before the 12th of June, 1638. Seven pronounced in favour of the crown; of The the remaining five, two, viz., Hatton and Coke, denied the decision right claimed by the crown, the other three deciding against it on technical grounds only, but giving an opinion in its favour on the general question.
The length to which this important cause was thus protracted, was of infinite disservice to the crown, because the attention of the whole kingdom became directed to it, and the convincing arguments of St. John and Holborne, but still the country more the speeches of the judges and the sentiments expressed by the crown lawyers, increased men's natural repugnance to so unusual and dangerous a prerogative. The alarming tenets which had hitherto found open shelter only among the courtiers and high churchmen, now resounded in the halls of justice; no limitations on the King's authority could exist except by his sufferance, and if his prerogative rights could justify ship money to-day, to-morrow they might serve to supersede all laws, and maintain without dispute the utmost stretches of despotic power. The discontent, therefore, which had hitherto been tolerably smothered, was now displayed in every county, and though the council persisted in exacting payment with rigour, so many refused to pay after this, that it was found impossible to punish them. Laud, writing to Strafford, says, that the factions had grown very bold; that the money came in but slowly; and that the trial had put thoughts into men's heads which they had not entertained before.* And Clarendon says, that the decision was of more advantage to the gentleman condemned, than to the King's service, because people who had before given cheerfully, now refused to pay. Yet the King and his courtiers blindly congratulated themselves on the decision as the decisive triumph of arbitrary power.
14. Proceedings of the Court of Star Chamber. The foregoing exactions, by which Charles raised a revenue, form the chief charges against his government, so far as relates to its inroads upon the property of the subject. It now remains for us to notice that court whose severity and vigilance maintained these acts of *Strafford Letters, II., 170.
arbitrary power. Since the time of Elizabeth, this court had considerably extended its authority, with increased violence and tyranny. The civil jurisdiction claimed by it, was only in such particular cases as now belong to the court of admiralty; but civil suits now came less frequently before it, and criminal ones oftener. It was this criminal jurisdiction which made it its criminal so terrible. Forgery, perjury, riot, fraud, libel, conspiracy, diction. maintenance,-whatever, by legal ingenuity, could be tortured into a contempt of royal authority, were brought before it. The process was summary. The accused was examined privately, and if it was thought that he had confessed sufficient, he was at once condemned, without any formal trial, or written process. But the more regular course was, by information filed at the suit of the attorney-general, or of a private relater, and then the mode of proceeding nearly resembled that of chancery. Any punishment short of death might be inflicted by the court; but fine and imprisonment were the most usual. The pillory, whipping, branding, and cutting off the ears, grew into use by degrees. In the infliction of fines, the most enormous sums were exacted; a punishment directly contrary to Magna Charta.
One Allington was fined £12,000 for marrying his niece; another, £5,000 for sending a challenge to the Earl of Northumberland. A third, for saying the Earl of Suffolk was a base lord (which was declared to be an offence against an old and forgotten law, called Scandalum Magnatum) was fined £8,000. Sir David Forbes for opprobrious words against Lord Wentworth, incurred the same penalty. Another man was fined and put in the pillory for refusing to sell his corn, in a season of dearth, at the price which the overseers of the poor offered him. But the punishments were frequently not only severe, but downright wicked; inflicted because the victim had provoked the malice of a powerful adversary, or annoyed the government. Leighton, a Scottish divine, having published a book called "An Appeal to Parliament, or Sion's Plea against Prelacy," in which he declared episcopacy to be Leighton. Satanical, and the bishops men of blood, was brought up by Laud before the Star Chamber (June, 1630), and punished in the following horrible manner. He was publicly whipped, placed two hours in the pillory, had an ear cut off, a nostril slit open, and a cheek branded with the letters S. S., to denote a "Sower of Sedition." All this he underwent in one day, and at the end of a week the punishment was repeated. He was fined £10,000, and for the next ten years lay in the Fleet Prison, till the Long Parliament released him.‡
Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, once lord keeper, and the favourite of James I., was another victim of this court's severity. When he was in power, he had Bishop of brought Laud forward; but that ungrateful prelate soon became his rival, Lincoln. and persecuted his benefactor with rancour and malignity. Not content with having banished Williams from court, Laud harassed his retirement by repeated persecutions; and, in 1637, caused him to be brought before Star Chamber, which degraded him from the episcopal office, imprisoned him during the King's pleasure, and fined him £10,000. His papers were then seized, and among them t Hallam, I., 453.
* Ante, p. 249.
Lingard, IX., 306.
Punishments inflicted by it.