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Some memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times online

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person of the Sovereign, to stem the tide down which others
were content to glide into favour and promotion, was suspended
from his functions for refusing to license a sermon in support
of unqualified prerogative.t

But, after the failure of the Duke of Buckingham's second
expedition against the Isle of Klie, when the revenue was still
found failing, a^ new Parliament was summoned, and an
attempt at temporary conciliation was unskilfully and ' in-
effectually made by Charles. J Warrants were issued for the
release of those persons who had been imprisoned for refusing
to contribute to the last loan. Seventy-seven persons of
various conditions, of whom Hampden was one, were set at
liberty under one order of the council board. ]Xo submission
was required on the one hand to satisfy the lofty claims of the
Crown ; on the other, no indemnity or explanation was offered
to reconcile the sufferers, who now, upon their enlargement,
were hailed by the country as the champions of triumphant

* Rushworth Ludlow's Letters. Weekly Account, No. I., July 34,
1643. Dugdale. Noble's Memoirs of the House of Cromwell.

t Rushworth. Whitelocke. Rushworth. See Appendix B.



privilege. Being, for the most part, men of fortune and local
importance, they were almost unanimously returned, upon the
writs for new elections.

The Court, having thus added to the popularity of its
opponents, and restored them to their functions, now renewed
the ill-advised course which, during the former Parliament,
had united both Houses in opposition to it. Former supplies
had been raised during the suspension of Parliament. New
ones were now attempted against its consent. A commission
was made out under the great seal for the levying of money,
by way of excise ; and, to provide, as it appeared, against all
further resistance, thirty thousand pounds were sent into the
low countries for the raising of a body of one thousand
foreign cavalry, and for the purchasing of arms and accoutre-
ments for horse and foot.' 3 *' At the opening of the session,
March 17, 1627-8, not only the state of public affairs, but
the feelings with which Parliament was known to have met,
rendered its first step subject of very anxious and fearful
expectation. Nor was that assembly composed of materials
easy to be dealt with. Many of its principal members had
been imprisoned under the King's own commitment. They
had in their persons protested, and they had been sup-
ported by the joint protest of both Houses, against the
imprisonment which they had suffered; and now, by the
manner of their liberation, they were left with the two most
important matters, control over the supplies, and liberty of
speech itself, undecided, and in flagrant dispute between them-
selves and the sovereign. It was absolutely necessary to the
co-existence of a Parliament with monarchy that these matters
should be brought to a final and immediate settlement. If
the remembrance of recent persecution made it difficult for
the popular party, it was no less than impossible for Charles,
with Buckingham as his minister, to come to such a settle-
ment with a disposition to render it effectual. To what
Charles's views really tended, or on what calculation he could
have built his hopes of final triumph, is not easy to compre-
hend. Yet the first measures of the Parliament, considering
the temper in which they met, and their determination to
maintain the ground which the last Parliament had taken,
were conceived in a spirit of moderation. They passed over,

* Rushworth. Whitelocke. Warwick's Memoirs.


without discussion (because they could not have discussed
without violence), the King's menace of * resorting to those
' other means which God had placed in his hands, if the
' House of Commons should not afford a speedy relief to his
' necessities/ They resumed the old questions of grievances,
aggravated by the late transactions ; and, after much discussion
in the House and in committees, their complaints were
embodied by Sir Edward Coke and Selden, in the renowned
Petition of Right. Sir Robert Heath the Attorney-General,
having, on the first discussion, treated some of their precedents
for the ancient liberties of England slightingly, Coke replied,
restating them, and declaring in the full confidence of his
powers and his cause, that ' it was not under Mr. Attorney's
' cap to answer any one of these arguments/ By many
artifices, and abundant assurances, such as before he had never
condescended to, did Charles now endeavour to divert them
from the completion of this great work. Nor were the
Houses themselves at first agreed. The Lords had sent down
propositions to justify imprisonments during pleasure by
warrant of the Council, under pretence of state necessity. To
soften this to the Commons, the new Lord Keeper assured
them that his Majesty held the statute of Magna Charta, and
the six others passed for the liberty of the subject, to be all
in force ; that he would maintain all his subjects in the just
freedom of their persons, and safety of their estates ; that he
would govern them according to the laws and statutes of the
realm ; and that they should find as much security in his
Majesty's royal word as in the strength of any law they could
make."* The Commons, however, persisting, Mr. Secretary
Cook, the feeblest old man that ever was employed as an
instrument of violent designs, brought down a message,
desiring to know whether the House would rest on the royal
word as declared to them by the Lord Keeper. Pym's answer
was conceived with great presence of mind, and consummate
address and moderation. ' "We have his Majesty's coronation
oath to maintain the laws of England. What need we then
' to take liis word? ' The Commons, however, being pressed
to return a reply through their Speaker, answered that, ' as
' there had been a public violation of the laws and the subject's
' liberties, they would have a public remedy/ The King then

* Rushworth. Parliamentary History. Whitelocke.



declared by letter to the House of Lords, that ' without the
' overthrow of sovereignty, he could not suffer the power of
( general commitment to be questioned ' and the Lords were
for adding to the bill a saving clause in general terms for the
sovereign power. Again, however, the Commons, declining
to discuss the value of those promises (which they could not
have questioned without insult to the person of the King),
pressed the measure steadily forward. To recede or to pause,
would have been to surrender the only barrier that remained
in defence of public liberty.

Accordingly, after a conference with the Lords, June 2,
1628, the Petition of Eight was read a third time in that
House, and agreed to. The King's answer was irresolute and
evasive. At length the royal assent was given. But the
Commons, noTsatMed with this reluctant concession, though
they instantly passed the bill of five subsidies, the largest
grant ever, till then, given by Parliament to an English sove-
reign, and which they had held out as a lure for his com-
pliance, persevered in their purpose of complete redress.
They had already impeached Dr. Mainwaring for preaching
against the authority of Parliament and asserting the vested
right of the crown over the property of its subjects ; and they
now obliged the King to cancel the illegal commission of
excise.* They also returned to their charges against the
Duke of Buckingham, earnestly requiring that he should be
removed from his Majesty's counsels. f But as they were
entering on a second remonstrance against the claim of ton-
nage and poundage, which had continued to be exacted in
defiance of the Petition of Eight, the King went hastily to
the House of Lords, June 26, and, after giving the royal
assent in person to the bill of subsidies, prorogued the Parlia-
ment to the 20th of October. On the next day, he ordered
all the proceedings which, to propitiate Parliament, he had
instituted in the Star Chamber au'ain<t the Duke of Bucking-
ham, to be struck off the file.

By the part which Hampden had taken in resisting these
arbitrary measures, and particularly the forced loan, and by
his sufferings in consequence of it, he had now become more
generally known and more prominently advanced in the House
of Commons, in which he again sat as member for Wendover

* Rushworth. Whitclocke. + Parl. Hist.


during this important session. Accordingly, from this time
forward, scarcely was a bill prepared, or an inquiry begun,
upon any subject, however remotely or incidentally aft'ecting
any one of the three great matters at issue privilege, religion,
or the supplies but he was thought fit to be associated with
St. John, Selden, Coke, and Pym, on the committee. On the
21st of March, a few days after the meeting of Parliament, he
was placed upon the committee on f an act to restrain the
' sending away persons to be popishly bred beyond seas/ and,
on the 28th, on one ' to examine the warrants for billeting
' soldiers, or levying money, in the county of Surrey/ * On
the 3rd of April, he was on the committee on a bill ' to regu-
' late the pressing men as ambassadors, or on other foreign
' service, so as to promote the good of the people as well as
' the service of the state;' and, during the course of the same
month, he was engaged in others ' for the better continuance
' of peace and unity in the church and commonwealth/ ' on
1 the foundation of the Charter House/ on acts ' against scan-
' dalous and unworthy ministers/ f ' concerning subscription,
' or against procuring judicial appointments for money or
' other rewards/ and, ' on the presentments of recusants made
' by the knights of the several shires/ On the 10th of May,
he was put upon the committee ' on the case of the Turkey
' merchants/ whose goods were detained till they should pay
the tonnage and poundage ; and, afterwards on the com-
mittees for ' redressing the neglect of preaching and cate-
' chising/ ' on the petitions of Burgesse and Sparke/ who
had been persecuted by the Bishop of Durham, ' to search for
' records and precedents/ ' to consider the two commissions
' for compounding with recusants/ and, 'for explaining a
' branch of the statute 3rd of James/ On the 13th of June,
he closed, for the session, his laborious share in this sort of
business with two committees, the one ' to take the certificates
' of the Trinity House merchants for the loss of ships/ and
the other, ' to meet that afternoon on the Exchequer business/
In a curious manuscript volume of Parliamentary Cases,
and other Papers, preserved at Sir Robert Greenhill Russell's

* Commons Journals. Willis, Not. ParL

+ This committee, afterwards popularly known by the name of the
' Scandalous Ministers committee,' lasted for many years, and became
a powerful instrument in the proceedings for new-modelling the church


at Chequers Court, is abundant evidence of the pains which
Hampden took to fortify himself in the science of precedent
and privilege. A great part of that volume is filled with
extracts from what are called 'Mr. Hampden's notes/ the
originals of which however, in his own hand, I believe no
longer to be in existence.

No sooner was the Parliament prorogued, than Montague,
who had published two violent tracts, the one called ' A Gag
* to Puritans/ the other called ' An Appeal to Cassar/
which he addressed ta the King, and for which he had been
censured by the Commons, was promoted to the see of
Chichester ; * and Main waring, who had been sentenced to im-
prisonment by the Lords, and declared disabled from preaching,
was preferred to the Crown rectory of Stamford Rivers. The
goods of several merchants were seized for non-compliance
with the levy of tonnage and poundage which still continued
to be exacted contrary to law ; and such owners as endea-
voured to remove their property were summoned before the
council and committed.f

In the meanwhile the hopes of the country were defeated
by the failure of the long-prepared and vaunted expeditions to
Rochelle, and its sympathies shocked by the almost uncon-
ditional surrender to which, in consequence, the persecuted
Protestants of Trance were reduced. This was the final blow
to the wishes and to the pride of the English nation, under
the personal administration of the Duke of Buckingham.
The event of the armament, in the preceding summer, had
been signally disgraceful. To endeavour to repair it, Bucking-
ham had landed his forces on the Isle of Rhe. Thoryas, the
French commander, had defended the fortress of St. Martin
with great courage and activity, until the arrival of Count
Schomberg, who landed, and obliged the English to raise the
siege precipitately, and to re-embark with great loss of men
and honour. In this enterprise, the English lost about fifty
officers, nearly two thousand soldiers, thirty-five prisoners of
note, and forty-four stand of colours, which were carried in
triumph to Notre Dame.J

* Petty's Miscellanea Parliamentaria.

t Rolls, Chambers, and Vassal were imprisoned for refusing to pay anew
duty, imposed by the King, without consent of Parliament, on wan-ants.
See Parliamentary History.

Burchett's Naval Hist. Strafford's Letters. M^moires de Rohan.


In the early part of this year, another powerful fleet of fifty
sail, under the Earl of Denbigh, had anchored in the roads of
Rochelle. Finding twenty sail of French ships before the
harbour's mouth, the Earl sent word into the town that he
would sink them as soon as the winds and tide should permit.
But, on the 8th of May, though favoured by both the one
and the other, he, without attempting the fulfilment of his
large promise, returned to Plymouth, which, says Burchett,
caused no small murmurings and jealousies in England. A
third fleet was prepared, to be led by the Duke in person, and
of which he was proceeding to take the command when he fell
by the knife of Felton.

So ended the career of a minister who, under two Sove-
reigns, had held greater power than perhaps any other man
ever acquired from the personal favour of his master, un-
supported by any great qualities of mind, and undistinguished
by any successful enterprise for his country. He fell by the
private hand of an enthusiast, and was carried secretly and by
night to his grave, for fear of the people.*

The expedition, however, sailed under the Earl of Lindsay,
who found a bar across the harbour, which he made two weak
attempts to force, and then abandoned ; although the Marquis
de Soubize volunteered to pass it with some few ill-appointed
French ships, if the English would promise to follow. The
Eochellers, now reduced to the last extremity of famine, and
despairing of relief, surrendered. An inglorious peace soon
followed ; and the Protestants of France, more unfortunate
from the support proffered by England than even those of
Germany had been in the last reign, were fain to submit to
any terms, obtaining in the end but a bare and precarious
toleration for their religion. It is difficult indeed to imagine
grounds of complaint more grievous than those of the gallant
and unhappy Eochellers against England. They had main-
tained themselves and their glorious cause with a valour which
had been animated by the example of Rohan the governor and
Guiton the mayor of their city, and fatally encouraged by the
false promises of Charles. Rohan, himself the commander and
historian of that heroic garrison, accuses him of the utmost
treachery, and says that all the blood which was shed in
Dauphiny is fairly to be laid to his account. Nor can this be

* Ellis's Original Letters.


deemed an unjustly aggravated reproach, though cast upon
him with all the bitterness of a man who had lost all, and had
seen his brave companions, after one of the noblest defences
that history records, given up to the pleasure of a merciless
enemy. He had trusted to that sort of encouragement so
often offered by one large state for its own purposes to the in-
surgent subjects of an enemy, but of which there are so few
examples that have not ended in the insurgents being sacrificed
as victims to a treaty of peace between the two great powers.
The letter delivered to Eohan by Sir William Beecher from
King Charles promised him that he would ' assist the French
' Protestants to the utmost against their Sovereign for the
' liberty of their religion, on condition that they would not
' make peace,' and Montague had also been sent by Charles
to assure him that 30,000 men and three fleets should be sent
to his assistance ; one to land at Ehe, one in the Garonne,
and the third in Normandy* Thus, however, not only in
Eochelle, but in Languedoc, Piedmont, and Dauphiny, were
the French Protestants left to surrender at discretion to a vain
and tyrannical prince, now taking his first lesson of blood
from Eichelieu, whom they had been incited, by the proffered
support of England, to defy; England never after having
struck one effective blow in their behalf, and, according to
Eohan, having sent only a few useless troops into their gar-
rison, who consumed their provisions, and hastened their
surrender, f Thus shamed and discomfited was our flag, both
by land and sea, at the close of this powerful and enterprising
minister's career ; baffled at Cadiz, defied at Eochelle, beaten
at Ehe', threatened off our own coasts, and insulted by the
pirates from the Channel to the Mediterranean. Yet a very
late writer, whimsically enough, but, as it should seem, not in
irony, makes it matter of much praise to Charles that he
' re-established the sovereignty of the seas/

Eemarkable as is the inferiority into which the English

navy had fallen during the last two reigns, it is not, on the

j. whole, difficult to be accounted for. All history shows that,

jj for maintaining a superiority at sea, the Government at home

nnist be, if not a free, at least a popular one. Prom the

example of Carthage down to that of Holland and of Venice

i ^ ifiLwi __^^M^- ^"^B^*

, in her best times, this remark holds good. \ 7 enice, while her

* Discourse on the Troubles of France. f Me'moires de Rohan.


government was supported by the spirit of her people, was
great in her commercial navy, and formidable in her warlike.
But, when reduced by her vices to the condition of a corrupt
oligarchy, she was beaten on her own waters, her flag became
tributary to the galleys of the Levant, and at length subsided
into a mere quartering in the heraldry of the German empire.
The same moral may be traced through our own history. Our
naval power, which arose with the dawn of free institutions
under Alfred, slept under the dull and chilling despotism of
iho" Plantagenets and of the first Tudors. Its reign was
triumphant and undisputed under Elizabeth, when, as Raleigh
tells us, ' one slu'p of her Majesty would have made forty
' Hollanders (the subjects of arbitrary Spain) strike sail/
It languished, was disgraced, and overthrown, under the two
first Stuarts; was restored, confirmed and victorious, under
the Commonwealth ; under the second Charles and James, it

- MMMtowiMMMMMWf" i ^0^MfM ^^M) '

hardly defended our own shores against the united Provinces;
and since the revolution, has been the first maritime influence
of Europe.

It is not necessary to this view to dispute concerning the
substantial freedom enjoyed by the people under these govern-
ments. It is enough to show that they were popular govern-
ments, and that their naval prosperity kept an exact pace with
the popularity of their civil institutions. Yet an Englishman,
whose ' first love/ that of the naval fame of his country, is a
strong passion, may rejoice if he find reason for believing" it to
be closely connected with the love and enjoyment of liberty.
The people who feel an interest in their governments have
many motives and many advantages for cultivating that mari-
time spirit which a despotism always tends to depress. A
sense of security in property is essential to manufacturing
enterprise, and to the carrying trade ; and foreign commerce
makes seamen. But commerce also creates a necessity for a
warlike navy to protect it. If maritime power depended
solely on situation, extent of sea-coast, rivers, or population,
France should have always been more than a match for Eng-
land. If on military genius, she should, at the least, have
equalled us. But it depends on circumstances that change :
in a word, on popularity of government. In this view the
writer of what is called the Political Testament of Cardinal
Richelieu says truly, that ' The empire of the sea was never
' well secured to any/



FROM 1628 TO 1629.

Eminent Persons of the Country Party won over by the Court Wentworth
Saville Noy A new Session A Bill proposed to legalise Tonnage and
Poundage The Speaker refuses to put a Resolution of Privilege The Com-
mons' Protest Dissolution Hampden on divers Committees of the House
Members committed to the Tower Removed to prevent their Appearance to
a Writ of Habeas Corpus Sir John Eliot Certain unjust Aspersions on his
Memory Letters to him from Hampden concerning his Sons Hampden
retires into Private Life Violences of Laud, and Sufferings of the Puritans
Dr. Morley, Dr. Hales, and Dr. Heylin Star Chamber, and High Com-
mission Court Hampden' s first Wife dies First Writ for the Levy of the

THE troops/ returning from the second expedition, were
again billeted on the people ; and their excesses now surpassed
those of which the country had so lately and so loudly com-
plained. The King's first, and unfavourable, answer to the
Petition of Right, and his speech on closing the session, were
by his command entered, with the petition itself, on the Rolls
of Parliament, and of the courts below ; and, next, as if it
were likely that those persons by whose activity and address
such an Act of Parliament had been carried through, would
suffer it to be reversed by so poor an artifice as that of a
fraudulent record, 15,000 copies were circulated, in which
that answer was substituted for the final words of assent.*
No means were left untried by the Court to weaken the
impression of so great a triumph of privilege, and to frustrate
the purpose of an Act, the provisions of which it was intended
so soon to overthrow. 'Till now, the frontier lines of royal
prerogative and Parliamentary privilege, like the borders of

* Rushworth. Whitelocke. Parliamentary History.


two neighbouring and warlike nations, had remained undefined
and confounded in many parts, and had been many times
contested with various success. But Charles himself had now
ratified a boundary treaty. It left nothing open for justifiable
dispute. He had made it the law of the land. That law he
had promised to observe ; and, in return, had obtained from
his Parliament their thanks, and a subsidy. He kept the
subsidy, but broke the promise ; and the Parliament was thus
left without any security from the King, and the King without
any credit with the Parliament. Tor his first assault upon
the conditions of the Petition of Eight, Charles most impru-
dently selected the very point on which his former differences
with the Commons had arisen ; namely, the control over the
supplies. Thenceforward did he redouble the number of his
exactions, and increase their severity ; as if it were to revenge
on Parliament and on the people their having gained from
him a renunciation of all power to do so legally. He had,
before, taught his Parliament that he would part with no
ancient claim of prerogative but after a struggle and a
bargain ; and he now showed that the struggle was no warning
to his violence, and the bargain no bond upon his fidelity.
Even the death of Buckingham brought no beneficial change
to the people, except the termination of a wanton, disastrous,
and inglorious war with two crowns. But the services of a far
abler man were now engaged by the Court.

Certain eminent persons of the country party, who had long
affected popularity, and some of whom had severely suffered
for it, were won over about the same time. Those whose
motives were the most suspected were soon made to earn the
wages of their defection, and to drink the cup of their
dishonour to the very dregs ; for upon them was imposed the
shameful distinction of becoming the prime instruments in

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 12 of 45)