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address. The marquess of Winchester, who had served Henry VII., and retained office under every intermediate government, till he died, in his ninety-seventh year, with the staff of lord treasurer in his hands, is perhaps the most remarkable specimen of this species preserved in history. William Herbert, whom Henry VIII. had enriched by a grant of the monastery of Wilton, and ennobled by the title of Earl of Pembroke, had with open arms devoted himself to every sovereign, and had the nimbleness to acknowledge and desert the excellent queen Jane in her reign of a few days.
When Mary restored Wilton to the nuns, he receivel them, as we are told, cap in hand ;” but when they were suppressed by Elizabeth, he drove them out of the house with his horsewhip, addressing them by an appellation which implied their constant breach of the severe virtue which they had vowed to observe. Sir William Petre, who had been secretary of state under Henry and his three children, was a more favourable sample of the same race, who kept his station by the usefulness of his services, without any vices but those of equal support of good and bad governments.
The parliament, which met in 1571, furnished the first considerable instances of a pacific but vigorous resistance in the house of commons to the power of the crown. It has already been remarked, that the necessity which compelled Henry VIII. to obtain parliamentary concurrence, and thereby national support, to the violent revolutions wh he nade in the regal succession and in the ecclesiastical establishment, had the most decisive tendency to strengthen the authority of parliament. Both Edward and Mary were obliged for the like purposes to establish the jurisdiction of that assembly by examples of a similar nature. That Elizabeth contributed yet more largely to the same effect, has already appeared in a short review of her previous parliaments, and will be still more conspicuous in the transactions of those which are to follow.
Before this period, the struggles for the establishment of liberty, though they breathe an exalted spirit, and are pregnant with instructive lessons to the founders and improvers of free institutions, yet occurred in circumstances so unlike ours, and were justifiably mingled with so much violence, that, even where our information respecting them is complete, we cannot venture to follow them closely, or to copy them with that deference which is due to the precedents of a calmer and more near period. Much of what was done by Elizabeth must be blamed; but a great part of it may be explained under an immature constitution, by the perils which encompassed her, and by her popularity, which disposed the people to acquiesce in the irregular measures of a monarch who was rather their leader than their sovereign. This princess, who was so fortunate (whatever might have been her motives) as to be engaged in a constant and hazardous contest for the preservation of national independence and of religious liberty, was easily pardoned by her people for some of those infractions of the rights of individuals, which she was tempted or provoked to hazard. It must be acknowledged that her example was in this respect dangerous to those of her successors who, without the same glorious justification, employed their feeble faculties in more extensive transgressions.
The first impulse towards a somewhat systematical opposition of a political nature arose from religion, the prime mover of all the great events of that age. Strickland, a grave and ancient man*, like most others zealously well affected to religion, was a member of the sect, or rather party, called Puritans, who were desirous of purifying their worship from practices abused by superstition, and of exalting the fervour of their piety to a pitch which would render it more independent of outward ceremonies. On the 6th of April he moved that a conference be desired with the spiritual lords on the means of bringing all things back to the purity of the primitive church, and to the divine institutions of Christ himself; but more especially to reform the more flagrant
* D'Ewes, 156.
abuses by which papists were allowed to hold ecclesiastical office. “ Boys,” he said, “ were permitted by dispensations to have livings, unqualified men promoted, and some allowed to have too many benefices.” The conference was appointed, and several bills for reform in the church were in consequence introduced. Only one, of no great extent, against leasing benefices, was passed into a law.”* Strickland was called before the privy council, by whom he was reproved for his boldness, and commanded to abstain from attendance in the house of commons till he should have leave. The queen soon yielded to the intimations thrown out that the house would require his presence, and he quietly resumed his seat. The ministers pretended that the restraint laid on Strickland was not on account of words spoken in the house, but for his exhibiting of a bill in the house against the prerogative of the queen, which was not to be tolerated t; meaning probably by these harsh words, that as the act of supremacy had subjected all ecclesiastical matters to the queen as head or ruler of the church, it would be unconstitutional in the commons without her previous recommendation to entertain questions of which the law had intrusted the sole determination to another constitutional authority. On occasion of the house of commons passing bills against non-residence and simony, she caused it to be intimated to them “ that she approved their good endeavours, but would not suffer these things to be ordered by parliament;" probably meaning, that she would protect her supremacy by the exercise of her negative, if they proceeded to invade her ecclesiastical prerogative, which the laws had vested exclusively in the crown. The commons were still too unrefined to resent, as a breach of privilege, the communication of her intention respecting proposed measures which she had the undisputed right to reject. Of all pretensions, that which savoured the least of an affectation of unbounded or even inherent power, was a claim derived from that royal supremacy over the church, of † D'Ewes, 175.
* Id. 185.
* 13 Eliz, c. 20.
which the parliamentary origin was so fully establishea by the recent and very striking examples of its being granted to Henry VIII., continued to Edward, withdrawn under Mary, and restored to Elizabeth.
Wentworth spoke with singular severity of sir Humphry Gilbert, the celebrated navigator, whom he described clearly, though without naming him, as disposed “ to flatter and favour the prince; comparing him to a cameleon, which can change itself into all colours saving white, as the speaker to whom he alluded could change himself to all fashions but honesty."* This bitterly personal speech, which did not entirely spare the flattered, though it was aimed against the flatterer, was passed over without animadversion. The house took into consideration the case of nine ancient boroughs which had returned no burgesses to the last parliament +, and resolved that “the burgesses shall remain according to the return, the right of the towns being to be elsewhere examined, if need be.” The house had exercised a similar jurisdiction in 1563, in the case of new representatives from boroughs which had not lately made any return. On other subjects affecting the rights of election they exercised judicial power over offences against a free and pure choice of members, by fining the borough of Westbury in the sum of twenty pounds, for the offence of the mayor, who had sold the seat to Walter Long for four pounds. In discussing a bill concerning the validity of the elections of burgesses not residing in or near the boroughs which chose them, the house & was led from these judicial proceedings to general
* D'Ewes, 175. Wentworth was member for Barnstaple, and Strickland for Scarborough. Browne Willis, Notitia Parliamentaria, iii.
+ East Loo, Fowey, Chichester, East Retford, Queenborough, Woodstock, Christchurch, Aldborough (in Suffolk), and'Eye.-D'Ewes, 156–159.
| Tregony, St. Germans, St. Mawes, Minehead, Tamworth, Stockbridge. D'Ewes, 80. “ In former times,” says the reporter, “ it was common for poor or decayed boroughs to escape the payment of wages to burgesses, either by obtaining a licence from the sovereign not to elect, or by discontinuing that privilege themselves by degrees. But of late, since the members of the house, for the most part, bear their own charges, many of the boroughs who had discontinued their privilege resumed it, as the towns above mentioned.
By the statutes of 5 Hen. 5. c. 1. and 23 Hen. 6. c. 15., it was enacted, that citizens and burgesses should be inhabitants of the towns which they represented. These ancient laws, after several centuries of avowed disuse, were repealed by 14 Geo. 3. c. 58. The bill adverted to in the text, which did not pass, seems to have had the same object with the repealing statute of George III.
reasonings on changes in the constitution of that assembly itself, not altogether dissimilar to those which in modern times have borne the name of Parliamentary Reform. Loud complaints were made in that debate of nominations of candidates by noblemen : and it was proposed to amerce any borough which should choose according to such nomination, in the (then not inconsiderable) sum of forty pounds. “It was meant,” says a speaker whose name is not preserved, “ that men from every quarter, and of all sorts, should come to this court, and that they should freely be chosen.” Another member proposed that one of the members should be resident, but that liberty should be left in the choice of the other; in order that there might be no want “ of men learned and able to utter their opinions."
The same party of zealous protestants, who endeavoured to root out all Romish abuses in the church, were prompted by an equal solicitude to provide against the overthrow of the reformation by the queen of Scots, the catholic successor, whose designs could only be defeated by the marriage of Elizabeth, which would afford some likelihood of a protestant succession. Hence the conflicts of this growing party with the queen on the subject of obtaining the chance of an heir who should be protestant. In the preceding parliament of 1566–7 the queen had expressly forbidden the house to proceed farther; and yet, two days after, she was content to withdraw her inhibition.*
The lord keeper, in answer to the speaker of the house of commons, had indeed warned that house, “ that they would do well to meddle with no matters of state but such as were propounded to them, and to occupy themselves in other matters concerning the commonwealth.” +
It is probable that, if the lord keeper had been urged to explain these alarming words, he would have taken refuge in the distinction between advice and command ; that he might have represented “ matters of state meaning negotiations, international correspondence, and * D'Ewes, 130.
Id. 141, 142