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

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To 1620 ] HIS PAltTY A\D HIS TIMES. 69

traced, it is done in so ambiguous a phrase as to leave an im-
pression that the author, quoted by Mr. D'Israeli, agrees with
him in opinion as to the character of Sir John Eliot ; which
in truth he does not, but directly the reverse. 'Eliot/ says
the author of the ' Commentaries/ ' like Sir Dudley Digges,
' was, in fact, a great servant of the Duke's.'* And, for this,
a marginal reference is made to Eushworth, vol. i., p. 450,
from which it would naturally be supposed that Eushworth
had given this character of Eliot as well as of Digges ; whereas
the passage in Eushworth, which occurs in a transcript of
Archbishop Abbott's defence of himself, says of Sir Dudley
Digges, 'That man, now so hated (Digges), was a great
' servant of the Duke's/ In that passage, Eliot is not men-
tioned nor alluded to. It is only the author of the ' Commen-
' taries' who makes the epithet carry double, by coupling
Eliot's name with that of Digges. It cannot be supposed
that Mr. D'Israeli intended to convey a wrong impression of
Eushworth's words ; but it is unfortunate that he should have
used a phrase which was likely to do so.

Of the estimation in which Eliot's private as well as public
character was held, little more need be said, but that he is
spoken of by Hampden, in several letters, with the utmost
esteem and admiration, as of one ' whose affections he accounts
' a noble purchase.' f Nor is it less in his favour, that he was
the intimate friend of the gallant and virtuous Sir TVvill
Grenvil, who was never a factious enemy of the Court, although,
throughout his early career, an opposer of its measures ; and
whose death, when at last he fell, fighting on the King's
part at Landsdowne, ' would/ says Lord Clarendon, ' have
' clouded any victory, and made the loss of others less
' spoken of/

Eliot was chosen by Sir Bevill to be godfather to his second

' your friendly advise : but my spirits are growen feeble faint, w ch when
' it shall please God to restore unto their former vigour, I will take it
' farther into my consideration." Sir John dying not long after, his sonne
' petitioned his Ma'>' e once more, he would be pleased to permit his body
' to be carried into Cornwall, there to be buried. Whereto was answered
' at the foot of the petition, " Lett Sir John Eliot's body be buried in the
' Churche of that parish where he dyed." And, so it was buried in the
' Tower.'

The letter is dated in the handwriting of Dr. Birch ' December 13,

Commentaries on the Life of Charles I., vol. i., p. 272.
t Hampdeu's Letter, Xo. 126, Eliot Collection.


son ; and is mentioned by him, in letters to his wife, the Lady
Grace Grenvil, in terms of warm affection. Eliot's attach-
ments seem to have been strong and lasting; his enmities,
bold, open, and vehement ; his public virtue indefatigable and
unstained. His eloquence was ardent and flowing, and his
mind deeply imbued with a love of philosophy and a confidence
in religion, both of which gave a lofty solemnity of tone to his
letters, many of which are written under the hardships of
captivity and the rapid approaches of death.

During the last few months of Eliot's sufferings, the remon-
strances of his physicians warned the Privy Council of the
advancing issue of his disorder, which could only be relieved
by releasing him from his imprisonment, or, at the least, by
relaxing its severities.* But all indulgence was refused ; and
his liberty offered only upon conditions which his proud spirit,
having already rejected them on grounds of public duty,
would never stoop to accept for personal ease or safety. t It
is stated by May, that in his sickness, he was strictly debarred
from the society of his friends and family. This appears, from
Eliot's correspondence, to have been quite true of the latter
period of his imprisonment ; but May is misled in asserting
that he was also refused all means of communication with them
f>by letter .J His hours of solitary misery in the Tower, he still
j dedicated to the defence of his views of civil government, in a
[ treatise entitled ' The Monarchy of Man/ . He also had the
consolation of a correspondence with his friend, John Hamp-
den, a copy of one letter from whom I here give from the
original in the British Museum. Although containing as
little information of any importance as a letter written to a
prisoner in close and jealous custody was like to do, and
though consisting of absolutely nothing but an apology for
not writing more, it is, nevertheless, not uninteresting, from
the neatness of its style, and from the warm affection which it
manifests to the unhappy friend to whom it is addressed :

' SIR, You shall receave y e booke I promised by this bearer's
' immediate hand 5 for y e other papers I presume to take a little,
' and but little, respitt. I have looked upon j :t rare piece ownly
' with a superficiall view ; as at first sight to take y e aspect and
' proportion in y e whole; after, with a more accurate eye, to take

* Grand Remonstrance. + Ludlow's Letters.

I May, Appendix. Donat. MSS. No. 2228.


' out y e linaraents of every part. 'Twere raslmesse in race, tliere-
' fore, to discover any Judgment before I have ground to make one.
' This I discerne, that 'tis as compleate an image of y e patterne as
' can be drawne by lines ; a lively character of a large minde ; the
' subject, method, and expressions, excellent and homogeniall, and,
' to say truth (sweete heart) somewhat exceeding my commenda-
' tions. My words cannot render them to the life ; yet (to show
' my ingenuity rather than witt), would not a lesse modell have
' given a full representation of that subject ? not by diminution,
' but by contraction, of parts ? I desire to learn ; I dare not say.
' The variations upon each particular seem many ; all, I confesse,
' excellent. The fountaine was full ; y e channel narrow ; y* may
' be y e cause ; or that the author imitated Virgill, who made more
' verses by many than he intended to write. To extract a iust
' number, had I seen all his, I could easily have bidd him make
' fewer ; but if he had badd mee tell which he should have spared,
' I had been apposed. So say I of these expressions ; and that to
' satisfy you, not myselfe, but that, by obeying you in a command
' so contrary to my own disposition, you may measure how large a
' power you have ouer ' Jo. HAMPDEN.

'HAMPDEN, June 29th, 1631.


' Recomend my seruice to Mr. Long, and if S r 01. Luke be in
' toune, expresse my affection to him in these words ; y c first part
' of y e papers you had by y e hands of B. Valentine long since. If
' you heare of yo r sonnes, or can send to~"y m , let me know.'

Eliot's correspondence shows that he consulted Hampden
upon the literary work in which he was employing himself.
Several of his letters refer also to the education and characters
of his two sons, whom, during his long captivity, he intrusted
to the care of his friend. To Hampden's faithful and valuable
counsel he seems to have mainly applied himself for direction
in the government and advancement of them. Towards the
younger of the two, Mr. Richard Eliot, the 'souldier'
alluded to in the postscript of the fac-simile letter, Hampden
seems to have borne a strong and almost parental affection.
In one of his letters to his father he describes him as one ' of
' whome, if ever you live to see a fruite answerable to the
' promise of the present blossomes, it will be a blessinge of y*
' weight as will turne the scale against all worldly afflictions
' and denominate yo 1 ' life happy.'* Both, however, of these

* Eliot Papers, No. 23.


young men (the elder by some idle and riotous habits which
brought him into difficulties with his superiors at Oxford, the
younger by a vivacious and unsteady humour, which was con-
sidered as fitting him rather for the activity of a military life
than for a course of literary study), it is plain gave no small
trouble and solicitude to their father's friend in the discharge
of the duties which he had undertaken towards them. But so
natural and amiable are the expressions of an indulgent heart,
particularly when pleading in extenuation of some of these
youthful irregularities, that I have been led to transcribe some
passages of a correspondence which has nothing of historical
importance to recommend it. Where it is possible in any
part to make such a man as Hampden his own biographer,
who would substitute any other words for those in which he
tells the story of his own feelings and opinions ? Some of the
letters which follow I cannot content myself with merely
making extracts from.

' SIR, I hope you will receave yo r sonnes both safe, aud that
God will direct you to dispose of them as they may be trained up
for his service and to yo r comfort. Some \tords I have had w th
yo r younger sonne, and given him a tast of those apprehensions he
is like to find w th you; w ch I tell hime future obedience to yo r
pleasure, rather than Justification of past passages, must remove.
He professeth faire; and y e ingenuity of his nature doth it
without words ; but you know vertuous actions flow not infallibly
fro: the flexiblest dispositions : there's ownly a fit subiect for
admonition and government to worke on, especially that w ch is
paternall I confesse my shallownesse to resolve, and therefore
umvillingnesse to say anything concerning his course ; yet will I
not give over the consideration ; because I much desire to see y l
spiritt rightly managed. But, for yo r elder, I thinke you may
with security return him in conuenient time ; for certainly there
was nothing to administer from of a plott, and, in another action
y l concerned himself, w ch he '11 tell you of, he receavecl good satis-
faction of the Vice Chancellor's faire carnage towards hirne. I
searched my study this morning for a booke to send you of a like
subiect to y 4 of the papers I had of you, but find it not. As
soone as I recouer it I'll recommend it to yo r view. When you
haue finished y e other part, I pray thinke mee as worthy of y e
sight of it as y e former ; and in both together I '11 betray my
weaknesse to my friend by declaring my sense of them. That I
did see is an exquisite nosegay, composed of curious flowers,
bound together with as fine a thredd. But I must in the end


' expect hony fro: my friend. Somewhat out of those flowers
' digested, made his owne, and givinge a true' tast of his owne
' sweetnesse ; though for that I shall awaite a fitter time and
' place. The Lord sanctify unto you y e sowrenesse of yo r present
' estate, and y e comforts of yo r posterity.

' Yo r ever y e same assured friend,


'April Mi, 1631.'

Sir John Eliot in his answer, dated from the Tower, pro-
poses to send his younger son, Richard, as a soldier, to the
Netherlands, to learn the art of war in the train of Sir Horace
Yere. He states also his elder son's (John's) desire to go to
France, but his own wish that he should remain at Oxford till
he should have obtained his ' licence/ or degree, at that uni-
versity. To this the following is the reply :

' SIR, I am so perfectly acquainted with your cleare insight
' into the dispositions of men, and ability to fitt them with courses
' suitable, that, had you bestowed sonnes of mine as you have done
' yof owne, my Judgement durst hardly haue called it into question ;
' especially when, in laying the design, you haue prevented y e
' obiectious to be made against it. For if Mr. Kich. Eliot will, in
' the intermissions of action, adde study to practise, and adorn that
' liuely spiritt with flowers of contemplation, he '11 raise our
' expectations of another S r Edw.* Veere, that had this character ;
' " All summer in the field, all winter in his study ; " in whose fall
' fame makes this kingdome a great looser ; and, having taken this
' resolution from counsaile with y e highest wisdome (as I doubt
' not you haue), I hope arid praye y e same power will crown it with
' a blessing answerable to our wish.

' The way YOU take with my other friend declares you to be none
' of y e BP of Exeter's converts,! f whose minde neither am I super-
' stitiously ; but, had my opinion bine asked, I should, (as vulgar
' conceipts use to do,) haue shewed my power rather to raise
' objections than to answer them. A temper | between France

* Francis.

f I had imagined the allusion here to have been to Dr. Hall's, Bishop of
Exeter's, Letter to the House of Commons, during the discussions between
the two Houses on the Petition of Right, in which he says, ' If you love
yourselves and your country, remit something of your own terms.' But
I have now no doubt that the Edinburgh Review, in its criticism on this
supposition, -is quite right, and that Hampden referred to Hall's Tract on
Education, recommending foreign travel.

+ A middle course, a compromise.


' and Oxford might have taken away his scruple, with more advan-
' tage to his yeares ; to visit Cambridge as a free man for variety
' and delight, and there entertained himself till y c next spring,
' when University studyes and peace had bine better settled than I
' learn it is. For, although he be one of those that, if his age were
' looked for in no other booke but that of the minde, would be
' found no ward if you should dy to-morrow ; yet 'tis a great
c hazard, meethinkes, to see so sweet a disposition guarded with no
' more amongst a people whereof many make it their religion to be
' superstitious in impiety, and their behaviour to be affected in ill
' manners. But God, who ownly knows y e periods of life, and
' opportunities to come, hath designed hime (I hope) for his owne
' seruice betime, and stirred up yo r providence to husband hime so
' early for great affaires. Then shall hee be sure to finde him in
' Fraunce that Abraham did in Sichem, and Joseph in Egypt, under
' whose wing alone is perfect safety. Concerning that Lord,* who
e is now reported to be as deepe in repentance as he was profound
' in sinne, the papers, &c., I shall take leave fro: your favour, and
' my streight of time, to be silent, till the next weeke, when I hope
' for the happinesse to kisse your handes, and present you with my
' most humble thankes for yo r letters, w ch confirm y e observation I
' have made in the progresse of affections : that it is easier much to
' winne upon ingenuous natures then to meritt it. This, they tell
' mee, I have done of your's : and I account it a noble purchas, w ch
' to improve with the best services you can command, and I perforine,
' shall be y care of Y our affectionate friend and servant,

' HAMPDEN, May Uth, 1631. 'Jo. HAMPDEX.

' Present my seruices to Mr. Long, Mr. Valentine, Sec.

' Do not thinke by what I say y* I am fully satisfyed of your
c younger sonne's course intended, for I have a crotchett out of y c
' ordinary way, w ch I had acquainted you \v th if I had spoken w tfl
' you before he had gone, but ame almost ashamed to communicate.'

The next letter is from Harapden to one of the sons, his
' young friends/

' SIR, I receaved yo r commaunds by y c hands of Mr. \Yian,
'and was glad to know by them that another's word had power to
' commaund yo r faith in my readinesse to obey you, w dl mine it

* Merven Touch et, Lord Audley, the infamous Earl of Castlehaven, of
whose removal from the Tower, and trial and sentence, Eliot had spoken
in the letter to which this is the answer.


' seems had not. If you yet lack an experience, I wish you had
' put mee upon y e test of a worke more difficult and important, y l
' y or opinion might be changed into beliefe. That man you wrote
' for I will unfainedly receave into my good opinion, and declare it
' really when he shall have occasion to putt me to y e proofe. I
' cannot trouble you with many words this time. Make good use
1 of the booke you shall receave fro: mee, and of yo r time. Be sure
' you shall render a strict account of both to

' To r ever assured friend and seruant,


' Present my seruice to Mr. Long. I would faine heare of his
' health.

'HAMPDEN, June 8th, 1631.'

The rest are to Sir John Eliot.

*DEARE SIR, I receaued a letter from you the last weeke, for
' w ch I owe you ten, to countervail those lines by excesse in number
' that I cannot equall in weight. But time is not mine now, nor
' hath bine since that came to my hands ; in your favour, therefore,
' hold mee excused. This bearer is appointed to present you w th a
' buck out of my paddock, w ch must be a small one to hold propor-
' tion with y e place and soyle it was bred in. Shortly I hope, (if I
' do well to hope,) to see you ; yet durst I not prolong y c expecta-
' tion of yo r papers. You have concerning them layde comaundes
' upon mee beyond my ability to give you satisfaction in ; but, if
' my apology will not serve when wee meete, I will not decline y e
' seruice to y e betraying of my owne ignorance, which yet I hope
' yo r love will couer.

' Yo r ever assured friend and seruant,

'HAMPDEN, July 27. ' Jo. HAMPDEN.

' I am heartily glad to learne my friend is well in Fraunce.
' Captaine Waller hath bine in these parts, who I have scene, but
' could not entertaine ; to my shame and sorrow I speake it.'

' SIR, In the end of my travailes", I meate y e messengers of yo v
'lone, w cl ' bring mee a most gratefull wellcoine. Yo r intentions
' outfly mine, that thought to have prevented yo rs , and convince mee
' of my disability to keepe pace with you or the times. My imploi-
' ment of late in interrogatory with like affaires hath deprived mee
' of leisure to compliment ; and y e frame of dispositions is able to


' iustle the estyle of a letter. You were farre enough above ray
* emulation before ; but, breathing now the same ayre w th an ambas-
' sador, you are out of all ayme. I beleive well of his negociation
' for y c large testimony you have given of his parts ; and I beleive
' y e king of Sweden's sword will be y e best of his topicks to persuade
'a peace. 'Tis a powerfull one nowe, if I heare aright; fame
' giving Tilly a late defeate in Saxony w th 20,000 losse ; the truth
' whereof will facilitate o r worke ; the Spaniard's curtesy being
' knowne to be no lesse then willingly to render that which he cannot
1 hold. The notion of these effects interrupts not o r quiett, though
' y e reasons by vv ch they are gouerned do transcend o r pitch. To r
' apprehensions, y* ascend a region above those clouds w ch shadow
' us, are fitt to pierce such heights ; and o rs to receave such notions
' as descend from thence ; which while you are pleased to impart,
' you make y e demonstrations of yo r favour to become y e rich
' possessions of Yo r ever faithful friend and seruant,

' Present my seruice to Mr. Long.

'HAMPDEN, Oct. 3.
' God, I thanke him, hath made me father of another sonne.'

' NOBLE SIR, I hope this letter is conveyed to you by so safe
' a hand y 1 yo rs will be y e first y e shall open it ; or, if not, yet, since
' you inioy, as much as without contradiction you may, y e liberty of
' a prison, it shall be no offence to wish you to make y e best use
' ont, and y* God may find you as much his, now you inioy y e
' benefitt of secondary helpes, as you found hime yo rs while, by
' deprivation of all others, you were cast upon his immediate
' support. This is all I have, or am willing, to say ; but y 1 y e
' paper of considerations concerning y e plantation * might be very
' safely conueyed to mee by this hand, and, after transcribing,
' should be as safely returned, if you vouchsafe to send it mee. I
' beseech you present my seruice to Mr. Valentine, and Mr. Long
' my countryman, if with you, and let me be honoured with the
' stile of

' Yo r faithful friend and seruant, Jo. HAMPDEN.

, December 8.'
This is the last of liis letters to Sir John Eliot. The

* Referring to the project of emigration to the plantation founded
by the Puritans in Connecticut, of which further notice will be taken


rigours of the imprisonment had been abated by reason of the
representation of the physicians. But too late. Disease,
aggravated by hardships already suffered, was advancing with
a pace which was not to be arrested, and in the following
November Eliot expired ; leaving testimony of a hardihood of
purpose and a" resolute endurance of all the sufferings it
brought upon him, which, if we consider the length and fatal
termination of them, and, above all, the repeated occasions
offered to him to escape them by compromising public duty
arid private honour, were unparalleled even in those days of;
patient and obstinate courage under persecution. I hope that
1 stand excused for making so copious extracts of letters on
matters which throw so little light on general history. Of
Hampden's correspondence, probably for the reasons already
mentioned in the preface, the remains are very rare. It is
difficult to conceive that any letters of his would be quite
unworthy of attention : certainly not those which make so
touching a display of the affectionate feelings of his heart.

Before the dissolution of the Parliament of 1628-9,
Hampden, although retaining his seat for Wendover, had
retired to his estate in Buckinghamshire, to live in entire
privacy ; without display, but not inactive ; contemplating
from a distance the madness of the Government, the luxury
and insolence of the courtiers, and the portentous apathy of
the people, who, amazed by the late measures, and by the
prospect of uninterruptedly increasing violence, saw no hope
from petition or complaint, and watched, in confusion and
silence, the inevitable advance of an open rupture between the
King and the Parliament. The literary acquirements of his
youth he now carefully improved; increasmgTliaT stock of
general knowledge which had already gained him the reputa-
tion of being one of the most learned and accomplished men
of his age ; and directing his attention chiefly to writers on
history and politics.* Davila's ' History of the Civil Wars of
' France' became his favourite study ; his Fade Mecum, as
Sir Philip Warwick styles it ; as if, forecasting from afar the
course of the storm which hung over his own country, he
already saw the sad parallel it was likely to afford to the story
of that work. In his retirement, he bent the whole force of
his capacious mind to the most effectual means by which the

* Clarendon Hist. Reb.


abuses of ecclesiastical authority were to be corrected, and the
tide of headlong prerogative checked, whenever the slumbering
spirit of the country should be roused to deal with those duties
to which he was preparing to devote himself.

Meanwhile the raising of a revenue, without consent of
Parliament, so often declared illegal, both by resolution and by
statute, was more and more actively pursued, and new imposts
laid, in some cases to an amount exceeding the prime cost of
the goods on which they were charged. Coat and conduct
money for the militia was still levied upon the counties, and
th"e names of all who resisted were reported to the Council
Board. Patents of monopoly on articles of the most ordinary
and necessary use, as in the former reign, were sold to
companies, and granted to favoured individuals. Heavy fines
were inflicted on all such persons as, being possessed of forty
pounds a-year, had declined to submit themselves to the
honour of knighthood at the coronation; and payment was
enforced by Exchequer process. Contrary to statute, the old
forest lawg_were revived, and the royalties of chase, and timber,
and pasturage, extended at will, in order that recoveries or
annual rents might be extorted by way of composition.
Proclamations were issued from the Privy Council, claiming
for these encroachments the force of law.* And yet from all
these extraordinary means the Crown derived but a scanty
revenue, the chief profit of the exactions being swallowed up
in the collecting of them.f

Then began "Wentworjth to fill up the measure of his
qualifications for the "highest pitch of favour and power at
which his ambition could aim, or his great abilities, inferior
only to his ambition, help him to arrive. Then began, too,
the more cruel violences of Laud, who had early directed the
attention of the Court towards Wentworth, and had prepared

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 14 of 45)