The History of England from the
Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the Revolution of 1688

David Hume

Chapter 51

Reign of Charles I.

Third Parliament.---Petition of Right.---Prorogation.---Death of Buckingham.---New Session of Parliament.---Tonnage and Poundage.---Arminianism.---Dissolution of the Parliament.

There was reason to apprehend some disorder or insurrection, from the discontents which prevailed among the people in England (1628). Their liberties, they believed, were ravished from them; illegal taxes extorted; their commerce, which had met with a severe check from the Spanish, was totally annihilated by the French war; those military honors transmitted to them from their ancestors had received a grievous stain by two unsuccessful and ill-conducted expeditions; scarce an illustrious family but mourned, from the last of them, the loss of a son or brother; greater calamities were dreaded from the war with these powerful monarchies, concurring with the internal disorders under which the nation labored. And these ills were ascribed, not to the refractory disposition of the two former parliaments, to which they. were partly owing, but solely to Charles's obstinacy in adhering to the counsels of Buckingham---a man nowise entitled by his birth, age, services, or merit to that unlimited confidence reposed in him. To be sacrificed to the interest, policy, and ambition of the great is so much the common lot of the people that they may appear unreasonable who would pretend to complain of it; but to be the victim of the frivolous gallantry of a favorite, and of his boyish caprices, seemed the object of peculiar indignation.

In this situation, it may be imagined, the king and the duke dreaded, above all things, the assembling of a Parliament; but so little foresight had they possessed in their enterprising schemes that they found themselves under an absolute necessity of embracing that expedient. The money levied, or rather extorted, under color of prerogative, had come in very slowly, and had left such ill-humor in the nation that it appeared dangerous to renew the experiment. The absolute necessity of supply, it was hoped, would engage the Commons to forget past injuries; and, having experienced the ill effects of former obstinacy, they would probably assemble with the resolution of making some reasonable compliances. The more to soften them, it was concerted, by Sir Robert Cotton's advice, that Buckingham should be the first person that proposed in council the calling of a new Parliament. Having laid in this stock of merit, he expected that all his former misdemeanors would be overlooked and forgiven; and that, instead of a tyrant and oppressor, he should be regarded as the first patriot in the nation.

The views of the popular leaders were much more judicious and profound. When the Commons assembled (March 17, 1628), they appeared to be men of the same independent spirit with their predecessors, and possessed of such riches that their property was computed to surpass three times that of the House of Peers. They were deputed by boroughs and counties, inflamed, all of them, by the late violations of liberty; many of the members themselves bad been cast into prison, and had suffered by the measures of the court; yet, notwithstanding these circumstances, which might prompt them to embrace violent resolutions they entered upon business with perfect temper and decorum. They considered that the king, disgusted at these popular assemblies, and little prepossessed in favor of their privileges, wanted but a fair pretence for breaking with them, and would seize the first opportunity offered by any incident, or any undutiful behavior of the members. He fairly told them in his first speech that if they should not do their duties in contributing to the necessities of the state, he must, in discharge of his conscience, use those other means which God had put into his bands, in order to save that which the follies of some particular men may otherwise put in danger. ``Take not this for a threatening'' added the king, ``for I scorn to threaten any but my equals; but as an admonition from him who, by nature and duty, has most care of your preservation and prosperity.'' The lord keeper, by the king's direction, subjoined, ``This way of parliamentary supplies, as his majesty told you, he hath chosen, not as the only way, but as the fittest; not because he is destitute of others, but because it is most agreeable to the goodness of his own most gracious disposition, and to the desire and weal of his people. If this be deferred, necessity and the sword of the enemy make way for the others. Remember his majesty's admonition; I say, remember it.'' From these avowed maxims, the Commons foresaw that if the least handle were afforded, the king would immediately dissolve them, and would thence-forward deem himself justified for violating, in a manner still more open, all the ancient forms of the constitution. No remedy could then be looked for but from insurrections and civil war, of which the issue would be extremely uncertain, and which must, in all events, prove calamitous to the nation. To correct the late disorders in the administration required some new laws which would, no doubt, appear harsh to a prince so enamored of his prerogative; and it was requisite to temper, by the decency and moderation of their debates, the rigor which must necessarily attend their determinations. Nothing can give us a higher idea of the capacity of those men who now guided the Commons, and of the great authority which they had acquired, than the forming and executing of so judicious and so difficult a plan of operations.

The decency, however, which the popular leaders had prescribed to themselves and recommended to others hindered them not from making the loudest and most vigorous complaints against the grievances under which the nation had lately labored. Sir Francis Seymour said, ``This is the great council of the kingdom, and here with certainty, if not here only, his majesty may see, as in a true glass, the state of the kingdom. We are called hither by his writs, in order to give him faithful counsel, such as may stand with his honor; and this we must do without flattery. We are also sent hither by the people in order to deliver their just grievances; and this we must do without fear. Let us not act like Cambyses' judges, who, when their approbation was demanded by the prince to some illegal measure, said that, though there was a written law, the Persian kings might follow their own will and pleasure. This was base flattery, fitter for our reproof than our imitation; and as fear, so flattery taketh away the judgment. For my part, I shall shun both, and speak my mind with as much duty as any man to his majesty, without neglecting the public.

``But how can we express our affections while we retain our fears; or speak of giving till we know whether we have anything to give? For if his majesty may be persuaded to take what he will, what need we give?

``That this hath been done, appeareth by the billeting of soldiers, a thing nowise advantageous to the king's service, and a burden to the commonwealth; by the imprisonment of gentlemen for refusing the loan, who, if they had done the contrary for fear, had been as blamable as the projectors of that oppressive measure. To countenance these proceedings, hath it not been preached in the pulpit, or rather prated, that all we have is the king s by divine right? But when preachers forsake their own calling and turn ignorant statesmen we see how willing they are to exchange a good conscience for a bishopric.

``He, I must confess, is no good subject who would not willingly and cheerfully lay down his life, when that sacrifice may promote the interests of his sovereign and the good of the commonwealth. But he is not a good subject, he is a slave, who will allow his goods to be taken from him against his will, and his liberty against the laws of the kingdom. By opposing these practices, we shall but tread in the steps of our forefathers, who still preferred the public before their private interest, nay, before their very lives. It will in us be a wrong done to ourselves, to our posterities, to our consciences, if we forego this claim and pretension.''

``I read of a custom'', said Sir Robert Philips, ``among the old Romans, that, once every year, they held a solemn festival in which their slaves had liberty, without exception, to speak what they pleased, in order to ease their afflicted minds; and, on the conclusion of the festival, the slaves severally returned to their former servitudes.

``This institution may, with some distinction, well set forth our present state and condition. After the revolution of some time, and the grievous sufferance of many violent oppressions, we have now, at last, as those slaves, obtained, for a day, some liberty of speech; but shall not, I trust, be hereafter slaves, for we are born free. Yet what now illegal burdens our estates and persons have groaned under, my heart yearns to think of, my tongue falters to utter.

The grievances by which we are oppressed I draw under two heads---acts of power against law, and the judgments of lawyers against our liberty.''

Having mentioned three illegal judgments passed within his memory---that by which the Scots born after James's accession were admitted to all the privileges of English subjects, that by which the new impositions had been warranted, and the late one by which arbitrary imprisonments were authorized---he thus proceeded:

``I can live, though another who has no right be put to live along with me; nay, I can live, though burdened with impositions beyond what at present I labor under; but to have my liberty, which is the soul of my life, ravished from me; to have my person pent up in a jail, without relief by law, and to be so adjudged---O improvident ancestors! 0 unwise forefathers! to be so curious in providing for the quiet possession of our lands and the liberties of Parliament; and, at the same time, to neglect our personal liberty, and let us he in prison, and that during pleasure, without redress or remedy! If this be law, why do we talk of liberties? Why trouble ourselves with disputes about a constitution, franchises, property of goods, and the like? What may any man call his own, if not the liberty of his person?

``I am weary of treading these ways, and therefore conclude to have a select committee, in order to frame a petition to his majesty for redress of these grievances. And this petition, being read, examined, and approved, may be delivered to the king, of whose gracious answer we have no cause to doubt, our desires being so reasonable, our intentions so loyal, and the manner so dutiful. Neither need we fear that this is the critical Parliament, as has been insinuated; or that this is the way to distraction; but assure ourselves of a happy issue. Then shall the king as he calls us his great council, find us his true council, and own us his good council.''

The same topics were enforced by Sir Thomas Wentworth. After mentioning projectors and ill ministers of state, ``These'', said he, ``have introduced a privy council, ravishing at once the spheres of all ancient government, destroying all liberty, imprisoning us without bail or bond. They have taken from us---what shall I say? Indeed, what have they left us? By tearing up the roots of all property, they have taken from us every means of supplying the king, and of ingratiating ourselves by voluntary proofs of our duty and attachment towards him.

``To the making whole all these breaches I shall apply myself; and to all these diseases shall propound a remedy. By one and the same thing have the king and the people been hurt, and by the same must they be cured. We must vindicate---what? new things? No; our ancient, legal, and vital liberties---by reinforcing the laws enacted by our ancestors; by setting such a stamp upon them that no licentious spirit shall dare henceforth to invade them. And shall we think this a way to break a Parliament? No; our desires are modest and just. I speak both for the interest of king and people. If we enjoy not these rights, it will be impossible for us to relieve him. Let us never, therefore, doubt of a favorable reception from his goodness.''

These sentiments were unanimously embraced by the whole House. Even the court party pretended not to plead in defence of the late measures anything but the necessity to which the king had been reduced by the obstinacy of the two former parliaments. A vote, therefore, was passed, without opposition, against arbitrary imprisonments and forced loans. And the spirit of liberty having obtained some contentment by this exertion, the reiterated messages of the king, who pressed for supply, were attended to with more temper. Five subsidies were voted him, with which, though much inferior to his wants, he declared himself well satisfied; and even tears of affection started in his eye when he was informed of this concession. The duke's approbation too was mentioned by Secretary Coke; but the conjunction of a subject with the sovereign was ill received by the House! Though disgusted with the king, the jealousy which they felt for his honor was more sensible than that which his unbounded confidence in the duke would allow even himself to entertain.

The supply, though voted, was not, as yet, passed into a law; and the Commons resolved to employ the interval in providing some barriers to their rights and liberties so lately violated. They knew that their own vote, declaring the illegality of the former measures, had not, of itself, sufficient authority to secure the constitution against future invasion. Some act to that purpose must receive the sanction of the whole legislature; and they appointed a committee to prepare a model of so important a law. By collecting into one effort all the dangerous and oppressive claims of his prerogative, Charles had exposed them to the hazard of one assault; and had further, by presenting a nearer view of the consequences attending them, roused the independent genius of the commons. Forced loans, benevolences, taxes without consent of Parliament, arbitrary imprisonments, the billeting of soldiers, martial law---these were the grievances complained of, and against these an eternal remedy was to be provided. The Commons pretended not, as they affirmed, to any unusual powers or privileges; they aimed only at securing those which had been transmitted from. their ancestors; and their law Petition of they resolved to call a PETITION OF RIGHT; as implying that it contained a corroboration or explanation of the ancient constitution, not any infringement of royal prerogative, or acquisition of new liberties.

While the committee was employed in framing the Petition of Right the favorers of each party, both in Parliament and throughout the nation, were engaged in disputes about this bill, which, in all likelihood, was to form a memorable era in the English government.

That the statutes, said the partisans of the Commons, which secure English liberty are not become obsolete appears hence, that the English have ever been free, and have ever been governed by law and a limited constitution. Privileges, in particular, which are founded on the GREAT CHARTER must always remain in force, because derived from a source of never-failing authority, regarded in all ages as the most sacred contract between king and people. Such attention was paid to this charter by our generous ancestors that they got the confirmation of it reiterated thirty several times; and even secured it by a rule, which, though vulgarly received, seems in the execution impracticable. They have established it as a maxim, that even a statute which should be enacted in contradiction to any article of that charter cannot have force or validity. But with regard to that important article which secures personal liberty, so far from attempting, at any time, any illegal infringement of it, they have corroborated it by six statutes, and put it out of all doubt and controversy. If in practice it has often been violated, abuses can never come in the place of rules; nor can any rights or legal powers be derived from injury and injustice. But the title of the subject to personal liberty not only is founded on ancient, and therefore the most sacred laws, it is confirmed by the whole ANALOGY Of the government and constitution. A free monarchy in which every individual is a slave is a glaring contradiction; and it is requisite, where the laws assign privileges to the different orders of the state, that it likewise secure the independence of the members. If any difference could be made in this particular, it were better to abandon even life or property to the arbitrary will of the prince; nor would such immediate danger ensue, from that concession, to the laws and to the privileges of the people. To bereave of his life a man not condemned by any legal trial is so egregious an exercise of tyranny that it must at once shock the natural humanity of princes, and convey an alarm through out the whole commonwealth. To confiscate a man's fortune, besides its being a most atrocious act of violence, exposes the monarch so much to the imputation of avarice and rapacity that it will seldom be attempted in any civilized government. But confinement, though a less striking, is no less severe a punishment; nor is there any spirit so erect and independent as not to be broken by the long continuance of the silent and inglorious sufferings of a jail. The power of imprisonment, therefore, being the most natural and potent engine of arbitrary government, it is absolutely necessary to remove it from a government which is free and legal.

The partisans of the court reasoned after a different manner. The true rule of government, said they, during any period, is that to which the people, from time immemorial, have been accustomed and to which they naturally pay a prompt obedience. A practice which has ever struck their senses, and of which they have seen and heard innumerable precedents, has an authority with them much superior to that which attends maxims derived from antiquated statutes and mouldy records. In vain do the lawyers establish it as a principle that a statute can never be abrogated by opposite custom, but requires to be expressly repealed by a contrary statute; while they pretend to inculcate an axiom peculiar to English jurisprudence, they violate the most established principles of human nature; and even, by necessary consequence, reason in contradiction to law itself, which they would represent as so sacred and inviolable. A law, to have any authority, must be derived from a legislature which has right. And whence do all legislatures derive their right but from long custom and established practice? If a statute contrary to public good has at any time been rashly voted and assented to, either from the violence of faction or the inexperience of senates and princes, it cannot be more effectually abrogated than by a train of contrary precedents, which prove that, by common consent, it has tacitly been set aside as inconvenient and impracticable. Such has been the case with all those statutes enacted during turbulent times in order to limit royal prerogative and cramp the sovereign in his protection of the public and his execution of the laws. But above all branches of prerogative, that which is most necessary to be preserved is the power of imprisonment. Faction and discontent, like diseases, frequently arise in every political body; and, during these disorders, it is by the salutary exercise alone of this discretionary power that rebellions and civil wars can be prevented. To circumscribe this power is to destroy its nature, entirely to abrogate it is impracticable, and the attempt itself must prove dangerous, if not pernicious, to the public. The supreme magistrate, in critical and turbulent times, will never, agreeably either to prudence or duty, allow the state to perish while there remains a remedy which, how irregular soever, it is still in his power to apply. And if, moved by a regard to public good, he employs any exercise of power condemned by recent and express statute, how greedily, in such dangerous times, will factious leaders seize this pretence of throwing on his government the imputation of tyranny and despotism? Were the alternative quite necessary, it were surely much better for human society to be deprived of liberty than to be destitute of government.

Impartial reasoners will confess that this subject is not, on both sides, without its difficulties. Where a general and rigid law is enacted against arbitrary imprisonment, it would appear that government cannot, in times of sedition and faction, be conducted but by temporary suspensions of the law; and such an expedient was never thought of during the age of Charles.

The meetings of Parliament were too precarious, and their determinations might be too dilatory, to serve in cases of urgent necessity. Nor was it then conceived that the king did not possess of himself sufficient power for the security and protection of his people, or that the authority of these popular assemblies was ever to become so absolute that the prince must always conform himself to it, and could never have any occasion to guard against their practices as well as against those of his other subjects

Though the House of Lords was not insensible to the reasons urged in favor of the pretensions of the Commons, they deemed the arguments pleaded in favor of the crown still more cogent and convincing. That assembly seems, during this whole period, to have acted, in the main, a reasonable and a moderate part; and if their bias inclined a little too much, as is natural, to the side of monarchy, they were far from entertaining any design of sacrificing to arbitrary will the liberties and privileges of the nation. Ashley, the king's sergeant, having asserted, in a pleading before the Peers, that the king must sometimes govern by acts of state as well as by law, this position gave such offence that he was immediately committed to prison, and was not released but upon his recantation and submission.{Ref} Being, however, afraid lest the Commons should go too far in their projected petition, the Peers proposed a plan of one more moderate, which they recommended to the consideration of the other House. It consisted merely in a general declaration that the great charter, and the six statutes conceived to be explanations of it, stand still in force, to all intents and purposes; that, in consequence of the charter and the statutes, and by the tenor of the ancient customs and laws of the realm, every subject has a fundamental property in his goods and a fundamental liberty of his person; that this property and liberty are as entire at present as during any former period of the English government; that in all common cases the common law ought to be the standard of proceedings; ``and in case that, for the security of his majesty's person, the general safety of his people, or the peaceable government of the kingdom, the king shall find just cause, for reasons of state, to imprison or restrain any man's person, he was petitioned graciously to declare that, within a convenient time, he shall and will express the cause of the commitment or restraint, either general or special, and, upon a cause so expressed, will leave the prisoner immediately to be tried according, to the common law of the land.'' {Ref}

Archbishop Abbot was employed by the Lords to recommend, in a conference, this plan of a petition to the House of Commons. The prelate, as was, no doubt, foreseen from his known principles, was not extremely urgent in his applications; and the Lower House was fully convinced that the general declarations signified nothing, but that the latter clause left their liberties rather in a worse condition than before. They proceeded, therefore, with great zeal in framing the model of a petition which should contain expressions more precise and bore favorable to public freedom.

The king could easily see the consequence of these proceedings. Though he had offered at the beginning of the session to give his consent to any law for the security of the rights and liberties of the people, he had not expected that such inroads would be made on his prerogative. In order, therefore, to divert the Commons from their intention, he sent a message, wherein he acknowledged past errors and promised that hereafter there should be no just cause of complaint; and he added ``that the affairs of the kingdom press him so that he could not continue the session above a week or two longer; and if the House be not ready by that time to do what is fit for themselves, it shall be their own fault.'' On a subsequent occasion he asked them, ``Why demand explanations, if you doubt not the performance of the statutes according to their true meaning? Explanations will hazard an encroachment upon the prerogative; and it may well be said, What need a new law to confirm an old, if you repose confidence in the declarations which his majesty made to both Houses?'' The truth is, the great charter and the old statutes were sufficiently clear in favor of personal liberty; but as all Kings of England had ever, in cases of necessity or expediency, been accustomed at intervals to elude them, and as Charles, in a complication of instances, had lately violated them, the Commons judged it requisite to enact a new law, which might not be eluded or violated by any interpretation, construction, or contrary precedent. Nor was it sufficient, they thought, that the king promised to return into the way of his predecessors. His predecessors in all times had enjoyed too much discretionary power; and by his recent abuse of it, the whole world had reason to see the necessity of entirely retrenching it.

The king still persevered in his endeavors to elude the petition. He sent a letter to the House of Lords, in which he went so far as to make a particular declaration ``that neither he nor his privy council shall or will, at any time hereafter, commit or command to prison, or otherwise restrain, any man for not lending money, or for any other cause which in his conscience. he thought not to concern the public good and the safety of king and people.'' And he further declared ``that he never would be guilty of so base an action as to pretend any cause of whose truth he was not fully satisfied.'' But this promise, though enforced to the Commons by the recommendation of the Upper House, made no move impression than all the former messages.

Among the other evasions of the king we may reckon the proposal of the House of Peers to subjoin to the intended Petition of Right the following clause: ``We humbly present this petition to your majesty, not only with a care of preserving our own liberties, but with due regard to leave entire that sovereign power with which your majesty is intrusted for the protection, safety, and happiness of your people.'' Less penetration than was possessed by the leaders of the House of Commons could easily discover how captious this clause was, and how much it was calculated to elude the whole force of the petition.

These obstacles, therefore, being surmounted, the Petition of Right passed the Commons and was sent to the Upper House. The Peers, who were probably well pleased in secret that all their solicitations had been eluded by the Commons, quickly passed the petition without any material alteration, and nothing but the royal assent was wanting to give it the force, of a law. The king accordingly came to the House of Peers, sent for the Commons, and, being seated in his chair of state, the petition was read to him. Great was now the astonishment of all men, when, instead of the usual concise and clear form by which a bill is either confirmed or rejected, Charles said, in answer to the petition, ``The king willeth that right be done according to the laws and customs of the realm, and that the statutes be put into execution that his subjects may have no cause to complain of any wrong or oppression contrary to their just rights and liberties, to the preservation whereof he holds himself in conscience as much obliged as of his own prerogative.''

It is surprising that Charles, who had seen so many instances of the jealousy of the Commons, who had himself so much roused that jealousy by his frequent evasive messages during this session, could imagine that they would rest satisfied with all answer so vague and undeterminate. It was evident that the unusual form alone of the answer must excite their attention; that the disappointment must inflame their anger; and that therefore it was necessary, as the petition seemed to bear hard on royal prerogative, to come early to some fixed resolution---either gracefully to comply with it or courageously to reject it.

It happened as might have been foreseen. The Commons returned in very ill humor. Usually, when in that disposition, their zeal for religion and their enmity against the unfortunate Catholics ran extremely high. But they had already, in the beginning of the session, presented their petition of religion, and had received a satisfactory answer, though they expected that the execution of the laws against papists would for the future be no more exact and rigid than they had hitherto found it. To give vent to their present indignation, they fell with their utmost force on Dr. Manwaring.

There is nothing which tends more to excuse---if not justify---the extreme rigor of the Commons towards Charles than his open encouragement and avowal of such general principles as were altogether incompatible with a limited government. Manwaring had preached a sermon which the Commons found, upon inquiry, to be printed by special command of the king; and when this sermon was looked into, it contained doctrines subversive of all civil liberty. It taught that though property was commonly lodged in the subject, yet whenever any exigence required supply, all property was transferred to the sovereign; that the consent of Parliament was not necessary for the imposition of taxes; and that the divine laws required compliance with every demand, how irregular soever, which the prince should make upon his subjects. {Ref} For these doctrines the Commons impeached Manwaring. The sentence pronounced upon him by the Peers was that he should be imprisoned during the pleasure of the House, be fined a thousand pounds to the king, make submission and acknowledgment of his offence, be suspended during three years, be incapable of holding any ecclesiastical dignity or secular office, and that his book be called in and burned. {Ref}

It may be worthy of notice that no sooner was the session ended than this man, so justly obnoxious to both Houses, received a pardon and was promoted to a living of considerable value. {Ref} Some years after, he was raised to the see of St. Asaph. If the republican spirit of the Commons increased, beyond all reasonable bounds, the monarchical spirit of the court, this latter, carried to so high a pitch, tended still further to augment the former; and thus extremes were everywhere affected, and the just medium was gradually deserted by all men.

From Manwaring the House of Commons proceeded to censure the conduct of Buckingham, whose name hitherto they had cautiously forborne to mention. In vain did the king send them a message in which he told them that the session was drawing near to a conclusion, and desired that they would not enter upon new business, nor cast any aspersions on his government and ministry. Though the court endeavored to explain and soften this message by a subsequent message (as Charles was apt hastily to correct any hasty step which he had taken), it served rather to inflame than appease the Commons, as if the method of their proceedings had here been prescribed to them. It was foreseen that a great tempest was ready to burst on the duke, and in order to divert it the king thought proper, upon a joint application of the Lords and Commons, to endeavor giving them satisfaction with regard to the Petition of Right. He came, therefore, to the House of Peers, and, pronouncing the usual form of words, ``Let it be law as is desired'', gave full sanction and authority to the petition. The acclamations with which the House resounded, and the universal joy diffused over the nation; showed how much this petition had been the object of all men's vows and expectations. {Ref}

It may be affirmed without any exaggeration. that the king's assent to the Petition of Right produced such a change in the government as was almost equivalent to a revolution; and by circumscribing in so many articles the royal prerogative, gave additional security to the liberties of the subject. Yet were the Commons far from being satisfied with this important concession. Their ill-humor had been so much irritated by the king's frequent evasions and delays that it could not be presently appeased by an assent which he allowed to be so reluctantly extorted from him. Perhaps, too, the popular leaders, implacable and artful, saw the opportunity favorable, and, turning against the king those very weapons with which he had furnished them, resolved to pursue the victory. The bill, however, for five subsidies, which had been formerly voted, immediately passed the House, because the granting of that supply was, in a manner, tacitly contracted for upon the royal assent to the petition; and had faith been here violated, no further confidence could have subsisted between king and Parliament. Having made this concession, the Commons continued to carry their scrutiny into every part of government. In some particulars their industry was laudable, in some it may be liable to censure.

A little after writs were issued for summoning this Parliament, a commission had been granted to Sir Thomas Coventry, lord keeper; the Earl of Marlborough, treasurer; the Earl of Manchester, president of the council; the Earl of Worcester, privy seal; the Duke of Buckingham, high admiral; and all the considerable officers of the crown---in the whole thirty-three. By this commission, which from the number of persons named in it could be no secret, the commissioners were empowered to meet and to concert among themselves the methods of levying money by impositions or otherwise---``where form and circumstance'', as expressed in the commission, ``must be dispensed with, rather than the substance be lost or hazarded''. {Ref} In other words, this was a scheme for finding expedients which might raise the prerogative to the greatest height, and render parliaments entirely useless. The Commons applied for cancelling the commission, and were, no doubt, desirous that all the world should conclude the king's principles to be extremely arbitrary, and should observe what little regard he was disposed to pay to the liberties and privileges of his people.

A commission had likewise been granted, and some money remitted, in order to raise a thousand German horse, and transport them into England. These were supposed to be levied in order to support the projected impositions or excises, though the number seems insufficient for such a purpose. {Ref} The House took notice of this design in severe terms, and no measure, surely, could be projected more generally odious to the whole nation. It must, however, be confessed that the king was so far right that he had now, at last, fallen on the only effectual method for supporting his prerogative. But, at the same time, he should have been sensible that, till provided with a sufficient military force, all his attempts in opposition to the rising spirit of the nation must in the end prove wholly fruitless; and that the higher he screwed up the springs of government, while he had so little real power to retain them in that forced situation, with more fatal violence must they fly out when any accident occurred to restore them to their natural action.

The Commons next resumed their censure of Buckingham's conduct and behavior, against whom they were implacable. They agreed to present a remonstrance to the king, in which they recapitulated all national grievances and misfortunes, and omitted no circumstance which could render the whole administration despicable and odious. The compositions with Catholics, they said, amounted to no less than a toleration, hateful to God, full of dishonor and disprofit to his majesty and of extreme scandal and grief to his good people; they took notice of the violations of liberty above mentioned, against which the Petition of Right seems to have provided a sufficient remedy; they mentioned the decay of trade, the unsuccessful expeditions to Cadiz and the isle of Rhé, the encouragement given to Arminians, the commission for transporting German horse, that for levying illegal impositions; and all these grievances they ascribed solely to the ill conduct of the Duke of Buckingham. This remonstrance was, perhaps, not the less provoking to Charles because, joined to the extreme acrimony of the subject, there were preserved in it, as in most of the remonstrances of that age, an affected civility and submission in the language. And as it was the first return which he met with for his late beneficial concessions, and for his sacrifices of prerogative---the greatest by far ever made by an English sovereign---nothing could be more the object of just and natural indignation.

It was not without good grounds that the Commons were so fierce and assuming. Though they had already granted the king the supply of five subsidies, they still retained a pledge in their hands which, they thought, insured them success in all their applications. Tonnage and poundage had not yet been granted by Parliament, and the Commons had artfully, this session, concealed their intention of invading that branch of the revenue till the royal assent had been obtained to the Petition of Right, which they justly deemed of such importance. They then openly asserted that the levying of tonnage and poundage without consent of Parliament was a palpable violation of the ancient liberties of the people, and an infringement of the Petition of Right so lately granted. The king, in order to prevent the finishing and presenting of this remonstrance, came suddenly to the Parliament, and ended this session by a prorogation (June 26).

Being freed for some time from the embarrassment of this assembly, Charles began to look towards foreign wars, where all his efforts were equally unsuccessful as in his domestic government. The Earl of Denbigh, brother-in-law to Buckingham, was despatched to the relief of Rochelle, now closely besieged by land and threatened with a blockade by sea; but he returned without effecting anything; and, having declined to attack the enemy's fleet, he brought on the English arms the imputation either of cowardice or ill conduct. In order to repair this dishonor, the duke went to Portsmouth, where he had prepared a considerable fleet and army, on which all the subsidies given by Parliament had been expended. This supply had very much disappointed the king's expectations. The same mutinous spirit which prevailed in the House of Commons had diffused itself over the nation, and the commissioners appointed for making the assessments had connived at all frauds which might diminish the supply and reduce the crown to still greater necessities. This national discontent, communicated to a desperate enthusiast, soon broke out in an event which may be considered as remarkable.

There was one Felton, of a good family, but of an ardent and melancholic temper, who had served under the duke in the station of lieutenant. His captain being killed in the retreat of the isle of Rhé, Felton had applied for the company, and, when disappointed, he threw up his commission and retired in discontent from the army. While private resentment was boiling in his sullen, unsociable mind, he heard the nation resound with complaints against the duke; and he met with the remonstrance of the Commons, in which his enemy was represented as the cause of every national grievance, and as the great enemy of the public. Religious fanaticism further inflamed these vindictive reflections, and he fancied that he should do Heaven acceptable service if at one blow he despatched this dangerous foe to religion and to his country. {Ref} Full of these dark views, he secretly arrived at Portsmouth at the same time with the duke, and watched for an opportunity of effecting his bloody purpose.

(August 23) Buckingham had been engaged in conversation with Soubise and other French gentlemen, and, a difference of sentiment having arisen, the dispute, though conducted with temper and decency, had produced some of those vehement gesticulations and lively exertions of voice in which that nation, more than the English, are apt to indulge themselves. The conversation being finished, the duke drew towards the door; and in that passage, turning himself to speak to Sir Thomas Fryar, a colonel in the army, he was on the sudden, over Sir Thomas's shoulder, struck upon the breast with a knife. Without uttering other words than, ``The villain has killed me'', in the same moment pulling out the knife, he breathed his last.

No man had seen the blow, nor the person who gave it; but in the confusion every one made his own conjecture; and all agreed that the murder had been committed by the French gentlemen, whose angry tone of voice had been beard, while their words had not been understood by the bystanders. In the hurry of revenge they had instantly been put to death, had they not been saved by some of more temper and judgment, who, though they had the same opinion of their guilt, thought proper to reserve them for a judicial trial and examination.

Near the door there was found a hat, in the inside of which was sewed a paper containing four or five lines of that remonstrance of the Commons which declared Buckingham an enemy to the kingdom; and under these lines was a short ejaculation, or attempt towards a prayer. It was easily concluded that this hat belonged to the assassin; but the difficulty still remained, who that person should be. For the writing discovered not the name; and whoever he was, it was natural to believe that be had already fled far enough not to be found without a hat.

In this hurry, a man without a hat was seen walking very composedly before the door. One crying out, ``Here is the fellow who killed the duke'', everybody ran to ask, ``Which is he?'' The man very sedately answered, ``I am he.'' The more furious immediately rushed upon him with drawn swords; others, more deliberate, defended and protected him: he himself, with open arms, calmly and cheerfully exposed his breast to the swords of the most enraged, being willing to fall a sudden sacrifice to their anger rather than be reserved for that public justice which, he knew, must be executed upon him.

He was now known to be that Felton who had served in the army. Being carried into a private room, it was thought proper so far to dissemble as to tell him that Buckingham was only grievously wounded, but not without hopes of recovery. Felton smiled, and told them that the duke, he knew full well, had received a blow which had terminated all their hopes. When asked at whose instigation he had performed the horrid deed, he replied that they needed not to trouble themselves in that inquiry; that no man living had credit enough with him to have disposed him to such an action; that he had not even intrusted his purpose to any one; that the resolution proceeded only from himself, and the impulse of his own conscience; and that his motives would appear if his hat were found, for that, believing he should perish in the attempt, he had there taken care to explain them. {Ref}

When the king was informed of this assassination, he received the news in public with an unmoved and undisturbed countenance; and the courtiers, who studied his looks, concluded that secretly he was not displeased to be rid of a minister so generally odious to the nation. {Ref} But Charles's command of himself proceeded entirely from the gravity and composure of his temper. He was still, as much as ever, attached to his favorite; and during his whole life he retained an affection for Buckingham's friends and a prejudice against his enemies. He urged, too, that Felton should be put to the question, in order to extort from him a discovery of his accomplices; but the judges declared that, though that practice had formerly been very usual, it was altogether illegal: so much more exact reasoners, with regard to law, had they become, from the jealous scruples of the House of Commons.

Meanwhile the distress of Rochelle had risen to the utmost extremity. That vast genius of Richelieu, which made him form the greatest enterprises, led him to attempt their execution by means equally great and extraordinary. In order to deprive Rochelle of all succor, he had dared to project the throwing across the harbor a mole of a mile's extent in that boisterous ocean; and having executed his project, he now held the town closely blockaded on all sides. The inhabitants, though pressed with the greatest rigors of famine, still refused to submit, being supported partly by the lectures of their zealous preachers, partly by the daily hopes of relief from England. After Buckingham's death, the command of the fleet and army was conferred on the Earl of Lindesey, who, arriving before Rochelle, made some attempts to break through the mole and force his way into the harbor; but, by the delays of the English, that work was now fully finished and fortified; and the Rochellers, finding their last hopes to fail them, were reduced to surrender at discretion, even in sight of the English admiral (October 18). Of fifteen thousand persons shut up in the city, four thousand alone survived the fatigues and famine which they had undergone. {Ref}

This was the first necessary step towards the prosperity of France. Foreign enemies, as well as domestic factions, being deprived of this resource, that kingdom began now to shine forth in its full splendor. By a steady prosecution of wise plans, both of war and policy, it gradually gained an ascendant over the rival power of Spain; and every order of the state, and every sect, was reduced to pay submission to the lawful authority of the sovereign. The victory, however, over the Huguenots was at first pushed by the French king with great moderation. A toleration was still continued to them---the only avowed and open toleration which at that time was granted in any European kingdom.

The failure of an enterprise in which the English nation, from religious sympathy, so much interested themselves, could not but diminish the king's authority in the Parliament in the approaching session; but the Commons, when assembled (January 20, 1629), found many other causes of complaint. Buckingham's conduct and character with some had afforded a reason, with others a pretence, for discontent against public measures; but after his death there wanted not new reasons and new pretences for general dissatisfaction. Manwaring's pardon and promotion were taken notice of; Sibthorpe and Cosins, two clergymen who, for like reasons, were no less obnoxious to the Commons, had met with like favor from the king; Montague, who had been censured for moderation towards the Catholics, the greatest of crimes, had been created Bishop of Chichester. They found, likewise, upon inquiry, that all the copies of the Petition of Right, which were dispersed, had by the king's orders annexed to them the first answer, which had given so little satisfaction to the Commons---an expedient by which Charles endeavored to persuade the people that he had nowise receded from his former claims and pretensions, particularly with regard to the levying of tonnage and poundage. Selden also complained in the House that one Savage, contrary to the Petition of Right, had been punished with the loss of his ears by a discretionary or arbitrary sentence of the Star-chamber. So apt were they on their part, to stretch the petition into such consequences as might deprive the crown of powers which, from immemorial custom, were supposed inherent in it.

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