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

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protesting against Episcopacy : then, putting their powers in
motion, they disclaimed, under the penalties of a solemn
curse, any intentions of a hostile incursion upon England, and

* P6re d'Orleans. Laing's Hist. Scot.


concluded by describing their cause as being strictly a defensive
one, and founded upon natural and civil right.

Thus arose that war, known under the name of the Bellum
Episcopate. A conflict provoked on the one side without any
apparent motive of policy or justice, but in which (as is the
case in almost all civil wars) it is difficult to say by which
party the first hostile movement was made, since each,
however eager to engage, was desirous, even to the last, that
the other should seem the aggressor, and thus be answerable
for all the calamities that might ensue. Yet both had advanced
to a point at which it became inglorious to retreat and impos-
sible to stand still. Apparent, however, as were the motives
under which it was begun, those which could cause it so
suddenly to subside into a treaty, almost without a battle, and
by the yielding of the stronger power, are not so easily to be
accounted for or understood.

On the approach of the King to the Border, a general
enthusiasm spread itself among the Covenanters, who were
joined. by not a few of the Episcopal Church. This spirit was
confirmed, not dismayed, by the greatness of the danger. The
spectacle was one not often paralleled in history. A people
unused to arms, not inspired by any of the feelings which
animate aggressive war, (for these were not only disclaimed,
but carefully repressed,) excited to resistance, not by the
influence of any popular leader, but by a deep and pervading
sense of the illegality of what was threatened to be imposed
upon them, and of the sacredness of the cause to which, in
consequence, they had set their hands ; and thus preparing to
cope with all the perplexing perils of an invasion headed by
their sovereign, and the attacks of domestic enemies rising on
their rear.

A military committee was instantly established in Edinburgh.
A band of Scottish officers, trained to war in the school of
Gustavus, on the first intelligence returned, with Alexander
Lesly, to the defence of their country. Levies were rafsettth
the several districts, marshalled by their captains, and exhorted
and disciplined by their clergy ; so that, in less than two
months from the first movement of the King, an army of
above twenty-four thousand men-at-arms were in the field
against him. The Highland frontier was guarded by Montrose
and Ariryle against the descent of the Gordons and Macdonalds;
the southern border manned and fortified under Lesly and


Monro ; and Edinburgh, Dumbarton, and Dalkeith, garrisoned
by troops entering to the sound of psalms and prayers, and
under banners inscribed with the Crown and Covenant of
Christ. To the eastward, the shores of the Firth were lined
with batteries, and the hills to the south bristling with powers
variously trained and accoutred : some drilled to the scientific
and precise forms of the Swedish and German strategy ; many
called fresh from the peaceful occupations of trade and
husbandry ; most of them inured to danger, fatigue, and hard-
ship, by the wild habits of the chase and the sheep-walk in
their mountain forests ; and all filled with a spirit that scorned
any terms but such as should begin with establishing the
independence of their country, and the integrity of its religion.
The armies of the King and of the Covenant thus remained for
several days, the outposts in view of each other, and the
lines and reserves, on both sides, formed in array of battle, and
the royal fleet, with troops on board, commanded by Hamilton,
in the Firth, flanking Leith, the guns of whose batteries were
loaded and ready for the expected signal of the enemy's
assault. While these things were in suspense, and only one
slight and unsuccessful attack had been made by Lord Holland,
with part of the King's cavalry, the Earl of Roxburgh was
dispatched to the royal camp to endeavour once more to treat
on the original grounds of demand.

It was at this sudden and momentous juncture that a change
of purpose was wrought in Charles. No longer accompanied
by Went worth or Laud, and obliged to act under the influence
of his own judgment, or of some milder counsels, he consented
to a truce, and soon afterwards a peace was concluded, and
the long wished for Scottish Parliament ^summoned for the
15th of May.

To whatever it may be attributed that the King was thus
suddenly induced to accept terms so different in spirit from
the demands contained in his late proclamation, a general
satisfaction prevailed, and, for a while, hopes arose of a
permanent accommodation. But whether this short-lived
disposition to peace on Charles's part ceased upon his returning
to counsel with his customary advisers, or whether he had at
first acceded to the treaty of Berwick only for the purpose of
masking some object of less gentle and less honourable policy,
the pacification lasted only long enough to give him time to
complete in England his projects of supply. Ground, indeed,


was afforded to him for complaint of non-performance of the
articles by the Scots. The treaty had stipulated for the
disbanding of both armies.* The King withdrew his
accordingly, and sent his Irish levies home again. The Scots
retired also from their frontier, restored the fortresses to the
King, but kept the greater part of their levies entire. It
would be difficult, with what we know of the policy of Charles
on many occasions, to pronounce that this act of the Scots
may not have been justified by some intelligence of a stratagem
in preparation against them. Still, in ignorance of any such
design having been discovered or entertained, it would be
unjust not to avow that there was a case against the Scots of
manifest invasion of the articles. This treaty was not faith-
fully observed on either part. The Covenanters were too
distrustful of the King to disarm themselves first, and the
King assuredly did not set them the example ; and the article
which provided for the abolition of Episcopacy in Scotland
was shamefully evaded by Charles. The probability is that
neither party expected the treaty of Berwick to last long;
that little more was hoped for by the Scots than the occasion
of putting forth, under cover of the articles, a solemn and
public statement, which might represent their demands
favourably to the English people ; and that nothing more was
intended by Charles than to gain time for improving those
powers which he now saw were entirely inadequate to command
success against so formidable a resistance,

As it seemed dangerous to awaken the jealousy of the
English people by fresh impositions for maintaining a standing
army in the south, Charles determined to issue writs for a
Parliament at Westminster, which might enable him to renew
hostilities with Scotland. To supply his immediate wants, a
new subscription was promoted among the courtiers, the
clergy, and the Catholics. Wentworth returned, as Lord
Lieutenant, to Ireland, with the title of Earl of Strafford ;
and, that an example might not be wanting of the liberality
and obedience of a Parliament, he summoned the houses
there, and proposed four subsidies, which were immediately
granted. Active and undisguised preparations were now
made on both sides for war. Meanwhile the Scottish
Parliament, proceeding to remonstrances concerning Episco-
pacy, was, contrary to promise, prorogued. The Earl of

* See articles in Rush-worth.


Dumferling and Lord Loudon were dispatched to London by
the Covenanters, as their Commissioners, to justify them to
the King, and to complain of the prorogation. They had
frequent opportunities for consultation there with the party
who had so long opposed the arbitrary measures of the
English court ; and Lord Say, Pym, Hampden, Holies, and
a few other of the principal members of that body, then (for
the first time, as it appears) put themselves into com-
munication with the Covenanters. With them they were
thenceforward in constant and intimate conference upon the
means of averting or opposing the incursion wnich was in
open preparation, and which, if once successful, would have
left Charles at full leisure to overrun and extinguish all
remains of public freedom in England. If it were treasonable
in the English puritans to conspire with the malcontents of
another country, in order to try the last chance for the
liberties of their own, from this time began their treasons.

During these negotiations, the Earl of Traquair, Lord
Treasurer of Scotland, whose influence at court was on the
wane, sought to restore it by treacherously producing a letter
of London's, written to the French King before the pacin'ca-
tion, soliciting" "aids for the Scottish army. This unhappy
instrument, which, as it appears, had never been sent to its
destination, was signed by seven of the chief nobles of
Scotland; among others, by Montrose, who so soon after
became a pattern of faithful loyalty in the estimation of the
court writers. The indignation of Charles blinded him equally
to the impolicy of breaking with the Scots by so unjustiiiable
an act as the seizure of one of their Commissioners, and to
the unfairness of visiting upon a man, after a treaty, a letter
written by him while at open war. Loudon was instantly
sent to the Tower ; and thus ended, in the way'the'TeasTTikely
to promote an amicable issue, this short-lived commission.*
The expectation of a Parliament in England having now
become general, every exertion was made by the country party
to secure the election of persons well afircu-d i" ilicir r;uis<-.
?s"or when, at length, the writs were issued, were the people

* Dr. Birch, in the Appendix to his Enquiry concerning the Transactions
of Glamorgan, gives the grounds on which he believes the story of London's
having been saved, (only by the entreaties and even menaces of Hamilton),
from assassination in prison. But the testimony is not direct enough to
justify so black a charge against the memory of Charles.


found to be unmindful of the high duties which they had to
discharge, or of the deserts of those persons who, during the
interval which had elapsed since the last Parliament, had
stood by the wreck of their cause with such patient, though
almost hopeless, fidelity. Hampden, whose bold and judicious
conduct in the great ship-money contest had signally Avon the
confidence of that party, and made him 'the argument of all
' tongues/ was elected, in conjunction with his friend, Arthur
Goodwin, of Upper Winchenden, to serve for the county
of Bucks.

Still the levy of the ship-money was enforced with
unrelenting pertinacity, under the management, principally,
of Chief Justice Einch, on whom the court writers of later
times have been too p'rone to cast the whole blame of that
disastrous project, the greater share of which, in truth, is
much more fairly chargeable on the Archbishop and on
Strafford. Pinch was but their ready agent. He was now
entrusted with the custody of the Great Seal. By him the
judges were again directed to promote the ' business of the
' shipping ' in then* several circuits ; and, on a demurrer to a
bill authorised by the council, he declared, that, ' whilst he

(' was keeper, no man should be so saucy as to dispute those
' orders, but that the wisdom of that board should be always
e ground for him to make a decree/ * It is remarkable,
however, that there is no appearance of an assessment of
ship-money having been made on the county of Buckingham
after the trial in the case of Hampden.

I In the practice of this short but stormy Parliament is found
i established, more distinctly than at any former time, the
j general doctrine of the precedence of questions of grievance
I over supply. Its whole existence, indeed, was
memorable struggle to assert this privilege and custom. In-
stantly after the meeting, on. the 13th of April, the Commons,
in compliance with the petitions of various counties, proceeded
to the consideration of grievances affecting the freedom of
Parliament, the preservation of religion, and the common
liberties of the realm, appointing a grand committee of
enquiry upon each.f Upon Pym's recapitulation, Edward
Hyde, then member for Wotton basset, began the atlack on
the ' tribunals of censure/ by complaining of the Earl Mar-
shall's court, as ' erected without colour or shadow of law/

* Parliamentary History. t Commons Journals.


and as having assumed a power to fine the King's subjects in
great damages, for matters in which the law gave none.

And now began the practice of convening assemblies of the
people to petition Parliament; a course which had never
before been systematically resorted to, to manifest the feelings
of the country on the conduct of its representatives.

During the first week, minutes of the proceedings and judg-
ment in Hampden's case were laid on the table of the Coi
mons by St. John and Holborne, and were reported upon by
the Grand Committee as matter of grievance. The King, in
the meanwhile, as early, urged the hastening of the supplies.
But the - report of the Grand Committee could not remain
unnoticed. He therefore qualified his message by a verbal
renunciation oT all claims to tonnage and poundage, except
such as should be given by Parliamentary grant, and of all
intention to establish a permanent revenue of ship-money ;
declaring that, having levied it upon the exigent of the public
safety, he should have remitted it, if the pressing demands of
the war had allowed him ; and so required the concurrence of
the two Houses in such modes of raising it in future as might
secure the proper application of it. This was considered by
the Commons as no satisfaction for the former illegal proceed-
ings in this matter. Viewing it only as an endeavour, by a
plausible concession, to avoid a decision on the principle, they
continued steadily to pursue their object ; and, on the 30th,
with a view of proceeding against the advisers and instruments
in that proceeding, they required, by address, a copy of the
record as made up by the judges themselves.*

During this conflict, Hampden was strenuously engaged in
the various business of the House. No question of principle /
or detail, whether affecting the most important interests of the
commonwealth and posterity, or the smaller concerns to be
adjusted for his own county in the assembly to which she had
sent him, none were too mighty for his capacity and courage,
or too minute for his indefatigable industry. To all lie applied
those natural gifts of a ready understanding and a winning
persuasion, as well as tllose acquired habits of arrangement,
w Inch fitted him to meet the necessities of the times and the
demands of liis electors.

During the whole of the three last eventful years of his life,
which were now beginning, his mind, which before had been

* Parliamentary History.


occasionally applied to unconnected pursuits, was, without
intermission, employed in that uniform coarse of public
service to which his great duties, and his own deep sense of
them, now wholly bound him. Never inactive, he had hitherto
divided his time between the business of Parliament, the study
of books, and the amusements, as well as the useful occupa-
tions, of a country life. As a magistrate, he had borne a
diligent share in the local affairs of his county;* but he had
also found leisure for indulging himself in ' an exceeding pre-
' penseness to field sports/ and in the embellishment of lu's
paternal estate, of which he was very fond. "When, therefore,
he finally abandoned all those pursuits and habits of social
ease, which his temper, and talents, and the mild virtues of his
domestic character, so much inclined and fitted him to enjoy,
the motive must have been powerful, and the sacrifice great.

From this time till his death, except at some few hasty
intervals, when business of public concern called him from the
Parliament, from the council, or from the camp, he never
again returned to that home to which the remembrances of his
youth, his studies, his pleasures, and the blameless happiness
of tranquil hours, had so strongly attached him.

His mansion still remains. It stands, away from both the
principal roads which pass through Buckinghamshire, at the
back of that chalky range of the Chilterns which bounds, on
one side, the vale of Aylesbury. The scenery which imme-
diately surrounds it, from its seclusion little known, is of
singular beauty; opening upon a ridge which commands a
very extensive view over several counties, and diversified by
dells, clothed with a natural growth of box, jumper, and
beech.f What has once been the abode of such a man can

* Of his industry in these particulars I found abundant traces in the
MS. Collection at Stowe.

+ The woods of Hampden terminate to the North upon the bare brow
of a lofty hill, called Green Haly, on the side of which is cut, in the chalk,
the form of a cross, which is seen from all the country round. This
monument, of a very remote antiquity, is known by the name of the White
Leaf Cross, and is supposed by Mr. Wise (in a learned letter to Browne
'U illis on the subject of Saxon antiquities) to have been designed in com-
memoration of a victory gained by Edward, King of the West Saxons, over
the Danes, early in the tenth century. It appears, however, with more
probability, to have been intended as a memorial of the last battle of
Hengist and Horsa with the Britons, which was fought over the extensive
plain of Risborough and Saunderton, when on this height, and on the
Bledlow Ridge which adjoins it, the Saxon princes planted their victorious
standards to recall their troops from the pursuit.

To 1640.] HIS PAltTY AND HIS TIMES. 125

never but be interesting from the associations which belong to
it. But, even forgetting these, no one surely who has heart
or taste for the charm of high breezy hills, and green glades
enclosed within the shadowy stillness of ancient woods, and
avenues leading to a house on whose walls the remains of
the different styles of architecture, from the early Norman to
the Tudor, are still partly traced through the deforming inno-
vations of the eighteenth century, no one, surely, can visit
the residence of Hampden, and not do justice to the love
which its master bore it, and to that stronger feeling which
could lead him from such a retirement to the toils and perils
to ^rhich, thenceforth, he entirely devoted himself.



FROM 1640 TO 1641.

Short Parliament Industry of Hampden Hampden marries his second wife
Bishop Williams solicits his assistance in a case of Privilege with the Lords
Vane announces a message from the King concerning Ship-Money and
Supply Opposite Resolutions moved by Hampden and Hyde Vane's angry
declaration Dissolution Votes of Convocation, and renewed Resolutions of
Grievances Second Scotch War Scots pass the Tweed and Tyne Treaty
of Rippon Meetings of the Country party, and correspondence with the
Scots Opening of the Long Parliament Committees of Grievances
Prisoners of the Star-Chamber liberated Strafford, Laud, and others
committed Trial of Strafford Bill of Attainder Conduct of Hampden
respecting that measure examined Perfidy of the King.

TWELVE years had now elapsed, during which England had
been governed without a Parliament. The Commons of this
Parliament began their course in a manner which gave promise
of great and lasting benefit to the public cause ; and the
courage, the tenacity, the moderation and singleness of
purpose, which marked every proceeding throughout their
short career, justified the expectations they had raised. Though
thwarted and baffled by the King in every project of redress,
and dissolved angrily before they had passed any one complete
act, still, sitting as they had done from day to day without
longer adjournment, and always in conflict with the Crown on
the highest matters of popular right and parliamentary privilege,
their journals are not dishonoured by any trace of irregularity
or passion. Considering the temper which had now shewn
itself in both parties through the country, this distinction,
which they so well deserve, was perhaps owing in part to
their existence having been brought to a close before any of


those extreme violences had begun on the King's part, which,
if not fully justifying all the acts to which the Long Parliament
afterwards proceeded, at least rendered it impossible for that
body, with safety to itself, to abide within the boundaries
which the constitution of England assigns. A more choice
selection of all the master spirits of a country in an age
remarkable for deep thinking and resolute acting, was^ never
sent to take its part within the walls of any representative
assembly. The court, as well as the country party, had busied
itself to secure favourable returns; and though with less
success, had formed within the House of Commons a small
phalanx of learning and ability sufficient to make shew of
coping at once with the shrewdness of St. John, the experience
of Pym, the learning of Selden, the sagacity of Hampden, and
the uncompromising resoluteness of each. The strength of the
Crown in the Lower House consisted principally of lawyers. A
few of those on the popular side already shewed a disposition
to waver. Hyde, though still, as we have seen, and even for
some time after tliis, concurring in some of the strongest
measures of opposition to the Court, had nevertheless given
token of a willingness to recommend himself to its favour by
occasional subtleties, which embarrassed his own party and
were of service to the objects of the King. Sir Dudley Digges
had been propitiated and silenced by the Mastership of the
Rolls; but the virtuous Falkland and Sir Bevill Grenvil, and
even the faithless T%-l>v, Mallory, Philips, and Ilolborne, were
still forward in their support of the motions of inquiry and

It has been already seen that, during this period, Hampden
was studiously and eagerly employed in those details which are
no small part of the duties of a faithful member of Parliament.
To these, in truth, he devoted almost every day from the
meeting to the dissolution. On the 16th, three days after
the meeting, he was on a committee to examine all questions
relating to election returns and other privileges, and, on the
17th, on one to report upon the state of the journals and
records.* On the 18th, on one concerning the violation of
privilege at the close of the last Parliament; and, on the 20th,
on another to prepare an address to the King, praying ' that
' the like infringement of their liberties might not be practised
'iii future to their prejudice and his own/ On the 21st, he

* Commons Journals.


was on the committee appointed to inquire into the effect of
the commission lately granted to Convocation, and, on the 22d,
on two others one upon the case of Smart, a prebendary of
Durham, who had petitioned as a prisoner against Bishop
Neile, and the other to prepare the heads of a conference with
the Lords concerning the petitions from the country. On the
23rd, he was on one to expedite the matter of this conference
by stating the reasons for postponing the supplies until effectual
means should have been taken to prevent innovations in
religion, to secure the property of the subject, and the
privileges of Parliament, and to prepare an answer on these
heads to the King. On the 24th, he was a manager of that
conference; on the 25th, he reported it to the House; and,
on the 1st of May, we find him reporting a second conference,
touching some matters which had occurred in the first. The
journals of the House, indeed, and the minutes of its com-
mittees throughout, are ample vouchers of his unwearied

"Tn~this patient and industrious course of public service did
he justify the character which circumstances, in themselves
accidental, and over which he had no control, had first
enabled him to establish ; proving himself worthy to attract
the confidence and lead the efforts of this assembly of able,
bold, and diligent men.

Hampden had very lately married his second wife, Letitia,

the daughter of Vachell, oT Coley,* near Reading, who

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 19 of 45)