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

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forwarding those arbitrary fines and imprisonments, and those
other invasions of parliamentary privilege, of which they had,
before, been the opposers and the victims. Of these persons
the most remarkable were Wentworth, Saville, and Noy.

\\Cntworth and Saville Had long been rivals in their native
county of York, and had been always opposed to each other
as candidates to represent it in the Commons. Under the
management of the Lord Treasurer Weston, it was contrived,
notwithstanding their "agreement in general politics, to keep
them rivals still, in order afterwards the more easily to detach

60 JOHN HAMPDEN, [P^T in -

both from the cause of the people. Saville's constancy was
first assailed ; and he was raised to the privy council, and to
the office of Comptroller of the King's household. This
promotion, thoilflTit secured the serv4eee - of Saville, was
thought by many to have rendered Wentworth irreconcilable.
But, in good time, Weston reconciled him also. By the Lord
Treasurer's advice, the King removed Saville out of the path
of Wentworth's local ambition, to a peerage ; and Wentworth
was, in his turn, advanced to the council board. The
Presidency of the North was soon added to Wentworth's
dignities. The largest absolute powers under the crown were
thus conferred on him who the most loved absolute power,
and was the most capable of extending it ; and he became
supreme in his own great county. Nor was it long before the
vastness of the general authority which this office gave him,
made him the greatest subject in the kingdom.* As the
importance oT Wentworth' s accession began to be more felt,
and his talents and zeal to be more manifest, he also was
raised to the peerage, victorious over his former competitor,
:is \\d\ in the Court as in their native province. But his
triumph did not stop here ; for Saville (whom public contempt
had now, for a time at least, rendered useless) was deprived of
his office, from which he retired into Yorkshire, abject and
disconsolate, with the prospect of spending his age in the very
centre of his great rival's connection and power t restless
still, though hopeless of redeeming either credit or station;
crushed beneath the wreck of his own character, and unsup-
ported by any such qualities of mind as enabled Went worth
to live feared and courted, and to meet his ruin at last without
degradation. What the feelings towards Wentworth were of
the party whom he had abandoned appears in the bitter reply
of one of the most eminent persons of that body. When the
new-made Viscount, coming out of the House of Lords, said
to some of his former friends, in a tone of familiarity unusual
with him, and urisuited to the temper of those whom he was
addressing, ' Well, you see I have left you/ ' Yes, my Lord/
replied Pym, whose demeanour was not less proud or resolute
than his own, ' Yes, my Lord, but we will never leave you

* Heylin's Life of Laud. Hardwicke Papers. Racket's Life of Arch-
bishop Williams.

t Stratford's Letters. Radcliffe's Life of Strafford.


' while that head is on your shoulders ; ' a prediction rigidly

Of Noy, of his qualities and motives, and of the means
by whlcTT he was wrought upon to barter reputation and
connection for the office of Attorney-General, Lord Clarendon
speaks in a spirit of shrewd and severe animadversion,
separating him from the rest of those who (before the
measures of the country party had afforded any justification
to the alarms of such as qualified their support of popular
rights with a paramount attachment to the monarchy) had
deserted the cause of struggling privilege to strengthen that of
a powerful and persecuting court. ' He suffered himself to be
' made the King's Attorney-General/ says Clarendon.

Weak and trifling, though with much exact learning, Xoy,
in pursuit of his objects of ambition and vanity, could but ill
disguise the meanness of his nature; and, when he had
succeeded in obtaining office and influence, knew not how to
make the one respected, or the other feared.

To try the firmness of parliament respecting those illegal
levies of tonnage and poundage which had been raised for the
King's use, by order of council, during the recess, a bill was
now prepared, by command from the King, granting them
absolutely to the crown from the commencement of the reign :
and a dissolution was resolved upon, in case the Commons
should delay the bill in its progress, or resume their former
habits of inquiry and censure.* Upon this determination,
rashly announced by message, the King paused before putting
it into execution. Meanwhile the Commons pursued their
course. Resenting the prepared bill as an attempt to obtain
an indemnity for former inroads upon their privileges, they
resolved, in a committee of their whole body, to examine the
grievances in liberty and property, and then to proceed to the
innovations in religion. But this Parliament was not of
longer duration than the former, and it terminated in a more
tumultuous manner. In one of the messages of explanation
and importunity from the King, an admission was made that
the goods of a member t bad been seized. Upon, a resolution
being moved that this seizure was a breach of privilege, the
Speaker, Finch, refused to put the question, and, after a fiery
protest from Selden, of his own motion, adjourned the House.

* May's History. Whitelocke. t Mr. Rolls.


At its next meeting, a few days after, when the matter was
resumed, he pleaded that the King had commanded him, in
the event of such a question being again proposed, again to
leave the chair, and thus evade the duty of putting it to the
vote. But, upon his rising to do so, a tumult ensued, the
like of which has seldom been seen in any assembly engaged
in maintaining its privileges. The spirit of the country party
rose to the level of the emergency which called it forth. ' It was/
says Sir Symonds D'Ewes, 'the most gloomy, sad, and dismal
' day for England that has happened for five hundred years/
Sir John Eliot^ the mover of the resolution, in the confusion,
imnblr to prevail on the trembling Speaker to put his question,
dashed the paper which contained it on the floor of the
House. In a short, vehement harangue, he claimed that it
should be read. Finch was forcibly detained in the chair,
while his own kinsman, Peter Hayman, reviled him as 'the
' disgrace and blot of a noble family, and one whom all
' posterity would remember with scorn and disdain/ The
question, now read by Holies and Valentine, was echoed back
with shouts. The Usher of the Black Rod demanded admit-
tance in the King's name, in vain : the door was locked and
the key on the table. But when the Captain of the Guard
arrived with orders from the King to force his entrance and
bring away the mace, he found the door wide open. The
resolution, and a general protestation against illegal imposts
and innovations in religion, had passed, by acclamation, and
unanimously.' 5 *' The House then adjourned for eight days ; and,
on its next day of meeting, the 1 Oth of May, the King went to
the Lords, and without calling the Commons to the bar, after
a threatening speech, caused the Parliament to be dissolved by

' Moche discoursed, and little amended,

' The Treasury in pawne, and the Parliament ended.'f

In the meanwhile Hampden had laboured with great
diligence in the public business of these two sessions, and
already the subject of church reform appears to have particu-
larly recommended itself to his~~attention and his industry.
He had been on the committees for preparing bills ' for
' enlarging the liberty of hearing the word of God/ and

* Sir Symonds D'Ewes. Carte. f Black Tom's owne Garland.


' against bribery, and procuring places for money and other
' rewards ; ' and on the committee to prepare a bill to explain
the statute 3rd James, ' concerning the appropriation of
' vicarages/ He was also put upon committees ' to view the
' entries in the clerk's book, and to search the entry of the
' Petition of Bight ; ' and ' to examine a person who had
' petitioned the King with articles against Dr. Williams,
' Bishop of Lincoln, the keeper ; ' and again, ' concerning the
' differences in the several impressions of the thirty -nine
' articles/ Again, ' to examine the matter and the information
' in the Star Chamber/ and ' concerning the particulars of
' Sir Joseph Eppesley, and all others where commissioners are
' drawn to answer before the Lords ; ' and ' to search the
' course and precedents in the Exchequer concerning the
' injunction against merchants' goods detained for the non-
1 payment of duties ; ' and, lastly, ' to prevent corruption in
' the presentation and collation to benefices, headships, fellow-
' ships, and scholarships, in colleges/*

This Parliament thus persisting in the same jealous course
with those which had gone just before, the King on his part
clung with no less obstinacy to those hostile measures which
now sufficiently justified the distrust of the Parliament. The
nature of the matters in dispute had rendered the breach
nearly irreparable, and in truth the temper of the con-
tending parties was not now favourable to repairing it.
Each had by this time begun to look rather to a triumph than
to an accommodation.

Before the dissolution, Charles again summoned several
members to appear at the council board ; and on their refusal
to answer for their conduct in Parliament elsewhere than
before the House itself, committed them to close imprison-
ment in the Tower. Holies desired before the council that
he might be the subject rather of his Majesty's mercy than
of his power. ' You mean/ said the Lord Treasurer Weston,
' rather of his Majesty's mercy than of his justice/ ' I say,
' my Lord/ replied Holies, ' of his Majesty's power/

With the purpose of proceeding against them in the Star
Chamber, Charles now resolved to fortify himself against the
plea of privilege by what he hoped to find a more manageable
authority, that of judges holding their offices at the pleasure

* Rushworth. "Whitelocke. Parliamentary Hist. Commons' Journals.


of the crown. He therefore propounded to them certain
questions as to the manner of proceeding in such cases by
common law, and also as to the privileges of Parliament

"When the members were brought up by Habeas Corpus to
the King's Bench, demanding to be admitted to bail, and to
be heard by counsel on the illegality of the proceedings
against them, they were remanded ; and, it being represented
that the judges were bound by their oaths of office to take
bail on sufficient recognisances, commitments were made out,
under the King's o\vn warrant, to other prisons. This
desperate step was soon sought to be retraced ; but unsuccess-
fully. It was indeed now proposed by the Attorney-General
. that bail should be taken ; but bail was refused unanimously
I by the prisoners themselves, on the ground, taken by Seldeu,
I that it would be an acknowledgment of the legality of the
t commitment;* and in the same spirit, and for the same
reason, they refused to petition the King for their liberty. A
new information being exhibited in the Court of King's
Bench, they demurred generally to the jurisdiction of the
Courts below in their case ; t and, this plea coming to be
argued, it was thrown upon the judges to find some middle
course between disputing the privilege, as it affected every
member of a resolute and incensed Parliament, and forcing the
King to a public and shameful retreat. J The expedient was
adopted of giving judgment against the prisoners on a ' nihil
dicit ; ' and they were accordingly sentenced to a heavy fine,
and to imprisonment during the King's pleasure, in failure of
giving security for their good behaviour. The majority of
I the imprisoned members, refusing to make this admission
I against their own case, continued thenceforth for many years
' in a very rigorous and painful confinement.

Among these unbending victims to Charles's disappointed
and desperate policy, remained, and at last perished in captivity,
the brave and, I believe, blameless, SirJohnEliot ; who
during his eager and faithful struggle in behalfof public

* Rushworth. f Whitelocke. May. Warwick's Memoirs.

Besides Sir John Eliot, at the beginning of Trinity Term, It! 2 9, were
brought up, by writ of Habeas Corpus, Selden, Stroud, Sir Miles Hubbard,
Mr. Long, Mr. Valentine, and Denzil Holies. These were all removed by
warrant per ipsum regem to different prisons and fortresses.


liberty, was distinguished, in an equal degree, by the hatred of
the Court, and the confidence of the country party.

Against the memory of this renowned person some mon-
strous and improbable charges, not believed, as it appears, at
the time, (for they were never objected to him by his oppo-
nents in Parliament, nor used by his persecutors for their own
justification,) have been revived in a late publication, with a
degree of passionate credulity, not inferior to that with which,
in the same work, imputations, equally void of foundation and
probability, (and of which, in the course of these memorials,
some notice shall be taken,) are cast upon Hampden himself.
The author of a book, entitled ' Commentaries on the Life of
' Charles the First/ concludes a passage of very zealous invec-
tive against the conduct and supposed motives of the country
party, with no less a charge against Sir John Eliot, than that
of a cruel and treacherous attempt at murder; 'a story/ says
he, 'too well authenticated to be omitted/ He, moreover,
states that Sir John escaped the punishment due to such a
crime, only by assiduous application to the favour of the Duke
of Buckingham ; whose protection he is likewise accused of
having repaid by becoming his most vehement public enemy.*
It appeared improbable, at first sight, that an unpunished
assassin should ever after dare to show himself ungrateful to
so powerful a minister, and so arbitrary a court ; and such a
charge seemed to demand an inquiry, which, however, was
rendered the more difficult by the absence of any marginal
reference to any better authority for the facts cited than that of
Eat-hard. And Eachard's unsupported testimony, in matters
criminatory of the leading persons of that party, is notoriously
not to be relied on. It appears, however, from certain original
papers in the possession of the Earl of St. Germains, that the
person himself, Mr. Moyle of Bake, whom Sir John Eliot is
accused of having ' treacherously stabbed in the back/ did
not take the same view of the character of that transaction
as Mr. Eachard and the author of the ' Commentaries '
have done ; inasmuch as he corresponds with Sir John Eliot
afterwards, in terms of friendship, and moreover, solicits his
favour and assistance.f The truth of the story upon which

* Mr. D'Israeli's ' Commentaries on the Life of Charles I.' vol. ii. p. 268,
et seq.

t Since these remarks were written, two additional volumes have pro-
(( -odcd from the pen of the same author. In the last of these are some



Mr. Eachard founded this preposterous calumny has now come to
light. In a letter in the possession of Miss Aikin, written by

explanations of his former passage concerning Sir John Eliot ; in which,
however, there is little amended in respect of the manner in which facts
are given, or inferences drawn. Soon after the two first volumes appeared,
Lord Eliot addressed to the author of the ' Commentaries ' a remonstrance
in behalf of his ancestor, written in a spirit of mildness, modesty, and
good sense, such as anybody acquainted with the noble writer of it might
well have expected from him, and which he accompanied with the loan of
a volume of the Eliot family papers, and with a copy of an apology made
by Sir John to Mr. Moyle for this pretended ' assassination.' The apology
is witnessed by Coryton, Bevill Grenvil, Tremayue, and four others. It is
in these words :

'MR. MOYLE, I doe acknowledge I have done you a greate injury, which
' I wish I had never done, and doe desire you to remitt it ; and I desire
' that all unkindnesse may be forgiven and forgotten betwixt us, and hence-
' forwarde I shall desire and deserve your love in all frendly offices, as I
' hope you will mine. J. ELYOTTE.'

Lord Eliot's is a natural and obvious inference. ' The language in
' which it is couched would hardly lead one to suppose that it was
' addressed by an assassin to his victim. It appears to me to be an
' acknowledgement of a hasty and unpremeditated act of violence, but not
' one which precluded, in the writer's opinion, the possibility of a restora-
' tion of friendly feeling between him and the injured party.' Mr. D'Israeli,
however, sees nothing in this but ground for thus renewing his accusation.
' I perfectly agree with his Lordship,' says the immoveable author of the
Commentaries, ' that this extraordinary apology was not written by a man
' who had stabbed his companion in the back ; nor can I imagine that
'after such a revolting incident, any approximation to a renewal of inter-
' course would have been possible. It is therefore evident to me, that this
'apology was drawn up for some former great injury, whatever it might
' be, but it surely confirms the recorded tale. The apology was accepted ;
' and it was in the hour of reconciliation, with wine before them, that the
' treacherous blow was struck.' Mr. D'Israeli neglects to cite any authority
for any part of this latter statement.

But one word more in taking leave of this strange accusation against
Sir John Eliot. What shall be said, when we find that, from some extra-
ordinary oversight, (for no man would be justified in suspecting such
extraordinary disingenuity,) Mr. D'Israeli entirely discards the conclusive
evidence of two letters contained in the very volume of the Eliot papers,
with which he was intrusted by Lord Eliot ? For conclusive they must
be in the opinion of any one who, like Mr. D'Israeli, declares that ' he
' Ctinnot imagine, after such a revolting incident, any approximation to a
' renewal of intercourse to be possible ; ' and yet he does not notice even
the existence of these two letters ! They are marked No. 63 and No. 98
in the volume. They are addressed by Sir John to the very Mr. Moyle in
question, and dated many years after the pretended 'assassination,' in
answer to solicitations for favours.


' SIR, According to your desire I have used my best endeavour with
' the proctor to obtain your satisfaction for the choice of a minister at


an ancestor of one of the most respectable families in Devon-
shire, the cause and course of the quarrel are given, as described
by the daughter of Mr. Moyle himself, a witness not likely to
be unjustly partial to Sir John Eliot. Her statement is
this :

Mr. Moyle, having acquainted Sir John Eliot's father with
some extravagancies in his son's expenses, and this being
reported with some aggravating circumstances, young Eliot
went hastily to Mr. Moyle' s house and remonstrated. What
words passed she knew not ; but Eliot drew his sword, and
wounded Mr. Moyle in the side. ' On reflection/ continues
Mr. Moyle' s daughter, ( he soon detested the fact ; and, from
' thenceforward, became as remarkable for his private deport-
' ment, in every view of it, as his publick conduct. Mr. Moyle
' was so entirely reconciled to him, that no person in his time
' held him in higher esteem/

' St. Germains, and something by way of preparation I had done before the
' receipt of your letters, upon the intelligence of Luke's death, to incline
' him therein ; but the effect is little to answer the merit of the suit, though
'as much in respect of favour as I looked for. This is not a denial, but
' that which really may prove so ; he seems to refer it wholly to the
' House, yet if they elect his kinsman, I presume his expectation is not
' lost. I am sorry this return is not better to the occasion you have given
' me ; it may serve for an expression of my power, though my affection be
' beyond it . I can command corruption out of no man, but in mine own
' heart have a clear will to serve you, and shall faithfully remain

' Tou-cr, 22 April, 1630. Your true friend.




' I am sorry my tenant Kodd should be an occasion of your trouble for
' the reparation of his fault. I confess to me he does but what we
' expected in the non-performance of his bargain, the doubt of which has
' made me always unwilling to deal with him, and the composition which
' he had was granted in my absence, wherefore without prejudice to justice I
' might now insist upon the advantages, if your respect prevailed not, but
' that has a greater power in me therein to secure him ; and notwith-
' standing the improvidence of the man to estate him where he was, to
' which end, in answer to your love, I will give order to my servant Hill,
' at his return into the country, to repay him the money that's received,
' and so to leave him to his old interest for the tenement, in which he
' must acknowledge your courtesy and favor, for whose satisfaction it is
' done by Your most affectionate friend, J. E.

' 7 December, 1631.

These letters, unnoticed by Mr. D'Israeli, cannot fail, upon the grounds
of his own former admission to Lord Eliot, to set the question at

F 2


Nor does the accusation of subserviency and adulation
towards the Duke of Buckingham rest on any better grounds.
It is attempted to be inferred, from an unconnected phrase or
two in a certain letter given by Mr. D'Israeli (he does not
state on what authority), which are written in only the style of
compliment then universally in use, and which refer, as
Mr. D'Israeli himself observes, to his official character as
Yice-admiral of Devonshire, and Chairman to the committee
of Stannaries. The circumstance, however, which renders it
impossible to ascertain the ground on which the author of the
1 Commentaries ' rests the gravamen of this charge is, that some
of his references themselves, are erroneous. For a part of his
case, he refers to the Harl. MSS. 7050. Throughout the
whole of that volume there is not one word respecting Sir John
Eliot, or his property, as cited in the ' Commentaries/ The
passage referred to as in the same collection, 7000, contains
the story of two very dignified petitions of Eliot's to the King
for a temporary release, till he should have recovered his
health ; and a very spirited and touching refusal, although in
the last stage of illness, to purchase liberty by admitting the
justice of the sentence against him.*

But it would be wrong to fall into the tediousness of a
further defence of this eminent person against a discursive
attack, for which, indeed, there appears no justification. In
one of the few cases in which a reference is given that can be

* Harl. MSS. 7000, foL 186.

' A gentleman, not unknown to Sir Thomas Lucy, tolcle mee from my
' Lord Cottington's mouth, that Sir John Elyotts late maner of proceeding
' was this. Hee first presented a petition to his Ma'? by the hand of the
' Lieutenant his keeper, to this effect. " Sir, your Judges have co'mitted
' mee to prison here in yo r Tower of London, where, by reason of the
' quality of the ayer, I am fallen into a dangerous disease. I humbly
' beseech your Ma'- v you will co"maund your Judges to set me at liberty,
' that for recovery of my health I may take some fresh ayer," &c. &c.
' Whereunto his Ma tie ' g answere was, it was not humble enough. Then
' Sir John sent another petition by his own sonne to the effect following.
' " Sir, I am heartily sory I have displeased your Ma ty , and, having soe
' said, doe humbly beseech you, once againe, to sett me at liberty, that,
' when I have recovered my health, I may returne back to my prison, there
' to undergoe suche punishment as God hath allotted unto me," &c. &<x
' Upon this the Lieu' came and expostulated with him, saying it was proper
' to him, and co"mon to none else, to doe that office of deliverine; petitions
' for his prisoners. And if Sir John, in a third petition, would humble
' himselfe to his Ma 1 ''' in acknowledging his fault and craving pardon, hee
' would willingly deliver it, and made no doubt but he should obtaine his
' liberty. Unto this, Sir John's answer was, " I thauke you (Sir) for

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 13 of 45)