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

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survived him a great many years, and lived to a very advanced
age ; but, after his second marriage, he never resided in
Buckinghamshire. The demands of the times had altered the
habits of his domestic life ; and, during that part of it which
was passed in London, this lady lived with him at his lodgings,
near the house which was occupied by Pym, in Gray's
Inn Lane.

About this time, Bishop Williams, who had long suffered
under the inveterate persecution of Laud and the personal
anger of Charles, was endeavouring, by bringing a case of
privilege before the Lords, to regain Ms liberty, and, by
petitions to the King, to obtain his summons to Parliament,
and a composition for the enormous fine to which lie had been
sentenced by the Star Chamber. During his trial before that
tribunal, he had defended himself with great spirit, and with

* Parish Register, Coley.


an ability which baffled the craft of Noy, and the mercenary
zeal of Lamb and Sibthorp, who were employed by the
Archbishop to prepare and prosecute the informations against
him.* But, after the death of Noy, the matter had been
brought to a judgment by the exertions of Kilvert, a wily
solicitor, and, accordingly, a sentence was passed, suspending
the^ Bishop from all his offices and dignities, and imposing
upon him a fine of 10,OOOZ. and imprisonment during the
King's pleasure. But Williams, by habit a courtier, and only,
from his failure in this pursuit, an occasional patriot, was not
of archafacter long to suffer persecution with patience. Finding
the Lords not disposed to assert with spirit the question of
privilege in his behalf, he endeavoured to engage Hampden,
during this session, to make his case one of parliamentary
grievance. Among the manuscripts at Lambeth is a sheet of
notes in his handwriting, under the title of ' Remembrances to
'Mr. Hampden/ dated April 27th, to which the answer is
found appended. The style of cold civility in which Hampden
declines this business is that of a man who already suspected
that the public virtue of the Bishop was wavering, and that he
was preparing to embark again in the course of court favour
into which, on his enlargement and elevation to the Arch-
bishopric of York, he soon after was content to relapse.
Hampden' s answer was as follows :

' MY LORD, I should be very ready to serve you in anything I
' conceaved good for you and ntt for mee ; but in your L d p's
' present commands I doubt that to make overture of yo r intentions,
c and be prevented by a suddaine conclusion of y e Parl*. w ch many
' feare, may render y m condition worse than now it is. To begin in
' o r house is not y e right place ; the most important businesses of
' the King and king 3 , are pressd on with such expedition y* any of
* a more particular nature will be but unwellcome, and hardly
' prosecuted w th effect ; besides that, there is at this instant a
'tendernesse betweene y e Lords and us about priviledge ; and for
' my owne unfitnesse, I neede mention no more but my disability to
' carry through a businesse of this nature, though yo r LP may easily
' conceave another incompetency in my person. In these regards I
' humbly desire yo r LP to excuse mee, and thereby to lay a newe
' obligation upon mee of being

' Your L* 1 ? 8 most humble servant,

' Westm r . Ap r . 29, 1640.' ' Jo. HAMPDEN.f

* Racket's Life of Williams. + Lambeth Lib., No, 1030, 108.



Yet Williams was not without some great and high virtues.
It is but justice to the memory of this learned prelate to
mention, together with his faults, the noble and contemptuous
generosity with which, after his restoration to power, he
forbore to take vengeance on his former persecutors. Some of
these being sent to try how he was affected towards them, he
told them that ' if they had no worse foes than him they might
' fear no harm, and that he saluted them with the charity of
( a bishop/ And, when Kilvert had the meanness to crave his
pardon for the wrongs he had done him < I assure you/
answered Williams, ' pardon for what you have done before ;
( but this is a new fault, that you take me to be of so base a
' spirit as to defile myself with treading on so mean a creature :
' live still by pettyfogging and impeaching, and think that I
' have forgotten you/ *

This Parliament, as has been already observed, although it
was ""not suffered to complete a single act, may yet be justly
considered one of the most useful that ever sat ; because, with-
out show of violence or passion, it first reduced to system
those resources which are in the hands of every Parliament for
its own defence, but which, before, had been viewed only at a
distance, and in speculation. The landmarks of the Consti-
tution, for centuries set up, had of late years been pointed out
anew by Coke and Selden in many a glorious precedent. It
was not the purpose of the leaders of the House of Commons
to frame a new theory of government. They did not amuse
themselves or the country with vain abstract declarations that
the origin of government is from the people. They did much
better. They contented themselves with maintaining jhein-
herent right of the people to be well governed. And thus
they left it on record that a House of Commons, representing
the opinions, generally, of the country, and enjoying its con-
fidence, and acting resolutely up to its own faculties, may
successfully begin the work which, according to Lord Boling-
broke, it is always in the power of any House of Commons to
achieve. He says, but, as is the case with some of his other
political generalities, in terms not sufficiently qualified, 'that
' a Parliament, nay one House of Parliament, is able, at any
' time, and at once, to destroy any corrupt plan of power/
One obvious condition, with which this predicate must always

* Hacket's Life of Williams.


be taken, is, that such a Parliament, or House of Parliament,
be supported by the Spirit of the People.

The King had desired, by message to the Lords, their good
offices with the Commons on the matter of supply, and the
peers represented their opinion that, ' in reason and decency/
supply should precede remonstrance. Such advice given on
such a matter was well calculated to produce ' a tenderness '
between the Houses; and the Commons instantly voted it a
breach of privilege.

THe~con~feFence, however, which ensued, was conducted with
great spirit and discretion, to an accommodation, by the
managers for the Lower House ; and, on the 4th of May, the
elder Sir Henry Vane, Secretary of State and Treasurer of the
Household, brought down a message from the King. In
essentials it differed but little from that which, at the beginning
of the session, had been voted unsatisfactory. Its purport was,
that his Majesty would forbear from any further levy of the
ship-money for the present, and give up all future claims to it,
upon the condition of a grant of twelve subsidies, to be paid in
three years ; promising full time afterwards for the redress of
grievances ; but requiring an immediate answer, his affairs in
Scotland being too urgent to admit of delay : a condition, say
the writers of the Court party, unauthorised by the King.

Mr. Hume so far agrees with Pere d'Orleans,* (who comes
to an absurd conclusion through an evident mistake between
the two Sir Harry Vanes,) as to insinuate that Vane's motive
was to provoke a spirit of resistance in the House. To those
who can discover in the elder Vane any motive of interest in
thus thwarting the designs of his master, or who think that
such a declaration as his, if unauthorised by the King, would
have remained, for several hours, subject of debate and remon-
strance, without one word of question from any others of the

* Pere d'Orleans, whose learning as an English historian was not suffi-
ciently accurate to justify the violent conclusions at which he often arrives,
gravely lays the whole of this transaction to the charge of Sir Harry Vane 1
the younger. Hard upon an enthusiastic republican, who innocently
suffered death as a regicide, that he should also be made innocently to
suffer in his memory for the faults of his courtly father. 'Henri Vane/
says the Pere, ' traltre fameux, etoit Secrdtaire d'Etat.' . . . . ' Vane,
' dis-je, avoit dans son instruction de demander douze subsides, mais de
' se relacher jusqu' a six, pour peu qu'on lui disputat le terrain. Le perfiHe,
' deja vendu aux ennemis du Roi son mattre, tint ferme sur douze, pour
' aigrir les esprits, et y reussit si bien quo le Parlement refusa le Roi, et le
' Roi cassa le Parlement.' Liv. ix.

K 2


Court party, it may be credible that a violent and arbitrary
minister would suddenly become a secret partisan of an
opposing faction, against a sovereign on whose favour his own
public fortunes entirely depended. Even so, the artifice would
have been a shallow one on the part of Vane ; for Charles, for
the purpose of gaining the desired supplies, would scarcely
have failed to expose the fraud of his minister, and so to
reconcile the Parliament.

Charles had, more than once, in the early part of his reign,
obtained votes of money by assurances of prospective redress,
and had always dissolved his Parliament as soon as it came to
seriously press the terms of that engagement upon him. His
royal word had been too often pledged, and was now no
security. The house, however, having resolved itself into a
Committee of Supply, a great difference of opinion arose.
Several members spoke against voting any grant in a spirit of
compromise for the discontinuance of an illegal impost ; and
another party objected to it only with reference to the amount of
the sum. To those who took the plain high ground of
' redress before supply/ it became, of course, desirable to unite
in one vote all who objected to the grant, either in respect of
the principle or of the amount. With this view, Hampden
moved that the question should be put broadly thus,
'. Whether the House would agree to the proposal contained in
' the King's message ? ' which motion was strongly sup-
ported. But, in the course of the debate, the Speaker, Glan-
ville, who, says Whitelocke, l had engaged "to be a better
' servant to the King than formerly, and was very active to
' promote his Majesty's desires, whereof he gave a sufficient
' testimony, and of the change of his former opinion/ condemning
as illegal the imposition of the ship-money, nevertheless urged
the House, on account of the low state of the revenue, to
comply with the message. Hyde, taking advantage of this
to thwart the design of Hampden, objected to the form of the
question as being captious, and stated his opinion that such
only as were disposed to reject the King's message altogether,
and not such as objected only to the manner or to the amount
of the grant, could give a clear vote with Hampden on this pro-
position. He moved, therefore, that the question might be
(oniiiicfl to the proposal that f a supply be granted;' thus
effectually drawing off many who, on account of the proposed
amount of the grant, objected to the message, and artfully leading


them to a first vote in concurrence with it. But Hampden's
motion had been already put, and was in discussion. Herbert,
the Solicitor-General, a more moderate and crafty man than
Vane, fruitlessly endeavoured a compromise. And now a con-
fused clamour arose in the committee, and cries, from different
quarters, for the question as framed by Hampden or by Hyde.*
But, while the House was thus in an uproar, Vane declared,
as from authority, that a supply, unless voted as required,
would not be accepted; and this warning being seconded by
the Solicitor-General, Herbert, the matter was no further
pressed. The House, desiring Sir Henry Vane to acquaint
his Majesty that they hoped to return him an answer to his
message on the following day, adjourned.

The_King now came to the rash and passionate determination
of putting an end to this Parliament, and, with it, to that truce
of public feeling, which had lasted so long as the people could
look to an assembly which might make their complaints heard,
and, peradventure, also, procure redress. Like the countryman
with Jupiter, in Lucian's fable, while the monarch reasoned,
the people thought him wrong ; but when, from reasoning, he
betook himself again to his thunder, they knew him to be wrong.
The contemporary writers, even such as are the most favourable
to Charles, leave this act without a vindication, and confess it to
have done irreparable harm to his cause. t Lord Clarendon
lays the blame on Vane, "Wliitelocke on Laud, Ludlow on
Strafford, and Eushworth on the Queen. There was but one
class of persons, according to Lord Clarendon, who had reason,
and felt that they had reason, to rejoice at it, as a measure
favourable to their views ; those who wish not to control the
King by constitutional means, but to see liberty vindicated by
a tumultuous triumph over Royalty itself. He says that, within
an hour after the King's angry speech to the Commons at the
bar of the Upper House, he met St. John, who, addressing him
with a most unusually cheerful aspect, asked him, 'what
' troubled him ? ' To which Hyde replying ' that the same
' that troubled him he believed troubled most good men ;
' that, in such a time of confusion, so wise a Parliament, which
' alone could have found a remedy for it, was so unseasonably
' dismissed ; ' the other said, with some warmth, ' that all was

* Rushworth, Parl. Hist. Clarendon, Hist. Reb. May.
t Warwick's Memoirs. Sir Hugh Cholmondeley's Memoirs. Clarendon,
Hist. Reb. Whitelocke. Rushworth.


' well, and that it must be worse before it could be better ;
' and that this Parliament could never have done whatjvas
' necessary to be done/ The conclusion was a just one. It
was then buFtoV plain, that all ' must be worse before it could
' be better ; ' and that, with Charles, no Parliament could be
safe, or useful to the country, that did not begin by taking the
whole power of the government into its own hands.*

Contrary to all usage, and in spite of the protest of thirty-
six of its own members, the Convocation was, by Laud's
advice, continued under a new Commission, until they had
voted certain new Canons, and a benevolence of four shillings
in the pound for six years ; and attached to the new Canons
was the famous et c&tera oath.f It was, besides, directed as
part of the discipline of the Church, that four times a year

I the clergy should instruct their parishioners of the divine right

f of kings, and the damnable sin of resistance. And, the more
to mark the spirit in which this proceeding was conceived, the
Book of Canons was put forth at once by the High Church
parfy under the name of the Anti-Covenant. J

Scarcely had the Parliament been dissolved, when the King
sought to repair an act which he saw had caused the greatest
alarm among the more prudent of his advisers, by a Declara-
tion which was no better suited to the temper of the times.
It seems as if the same passions, which had prompted the
mischief he had done, became again excited, even while he
was in the act of preparing what he meant to be a healing
instrument ; for, with great inconsistency, he laid down in his
declaration, to its utmost extent, the doctrine of his being
' accountable to God alone/ at the very instant while he was
employed in giving an account to his people ; and, on the

' next day, he had again recourse to his old unhappy practice of
committing several members under his own warrant to prison. ||
This he accompanied with the new outrage of ordering that
the lodgings, and even the pockets, of two of the Lords, the

j Earl of Warwick, and the Lord Brooke, should be searched

I for treasonable papers ; but without effect.^]"

* Clarendon, Hist. Reb. Whitelocke. Rush worth. Mrs. Hutchinson's

\ Tiiis oath, to be imposed, not on the clergy only, but on many of the
laity also, contained an obligation to ' maintain the government of the
' church by archbishops, bishops, deans, chapters, et ca'tera.' $ Fuller.
^Tiitelocke. || Rushworth. .May.


On the other hand the peace of the metropolis was assailed
by numerous and turbulent assemblages of the populace.
Placards of violent invective against Laud for some days
appeared on the walls of Westminster ; and an attempt was
made by some thousands of people, chiefly apprentices,
collected and inarching by sound of drum, to force the gates
of Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop on their approach had
removed himself, by timely flight, to Croydon. It was not
without bloodshed that the mob were at length dispersed by
the Train Bands. Several were killed ; and one of the rioters
was, under a very forced construction of the Statute of Treasons,
executed as having levied war against the King.

Now, again, coat and conduct, and ship-money, were levied
witlr~ttargreatest rigour and despatch, and in larger propor-
tions than before ; and several sheriffs of counties, and the
Lord Mayor of London, were prosecuted in the Star Chamber
for forbearing to distrain. A return of the names and incomes
of the richest citizens was required ; magistrates were ordered
to apprehend all defaulters ; and a sum of 40,000 was
borrowed from certain merchants, under a threat of seizing
the bullion which they had sent to the Mint to be assayed.
At the same time all the pepper in the East India warehouses
was bought from the company on trust, and sold, at a great
discount, for ready money ; and a scheme was proposed for
coining two or three hundred thousand pounds of base-money.*

At length the King was enabled to proceed northward,
August 20th, having already despatched a fleet to the eastern
coast of Scotland, and ordered his army to rendezvous at
York. The general result of this second Scotch war is well
known. It terminated as rapidly as the former, and in a
manner more disastrous to Charles. For the treaty was even
more inglorious than that of Berwick, and preceded by the
capture of a large fortified city within the English border, and
a decisive advantage gained by the insurgents in the field. The
Scots, with their accustomed activity, had passed the Tweed,
and instantly advanced upon Newbourn, fording the Tyne with
infantry and cavalry, in the face of Lord Conway, who in vain
disputed it with them after haughtily rejecting a requisition
that a few hundreds might be allowed to pass over with a
petition to the King. His works, hastily constructed, crumbled
from before the well-directed fire of the Scottish guns, which had

* Laud's Diary. Laud's Troubles. Lilly. Mrs. Hutchinson.


been prepared for little more than that day's service, being
formed of leather, hooped round with iron, and carried to the
river's bank on the backs of horses. Lesly had filled up the
intervals between the squadrons of his dragoons with com-
panies of fleet-footed Highlanders, who, running by their sides,
and sometimes hanging on the manes of their chargers, kept
pace with them to cover their movements, or act in line with
them either with the musquet or the broad-sword. The advance
guard of Conway's cavalry, after a momentary success, was
demolished in the ford, and the first and second line of the
Covenanters instantly crossed under cover of their batteries,
leaving nothing behind them but their reserves, with their left
thrown back to guard against the event of that flank being
threatened from the eastward. The body of the English army,
that defended the ford was forced to retire ' with such pre-
' cipitation/ says Burnet, ' that Sir Thomas Fairfax, who had
' a command in it, did not stick to own that, till he passed
' the Tees, his legs trembled under him/ The next day the
Scots took possession of Newcastle, making themselves masters
of Northumberland, the Bishoprick of Durham, and the
collieries, with a force of 23,000 infantry and 3000 cavalry.*
Whether by misconduct or misfortune, in this affair Lord
Conway lost much reputation ; some accusing him of cowardice,
and some of treachery. Lord Strafford, who had been in vain
struggling with the gout and stone, and endeavouring to reach
the army in time to take the field before a battle, writes to him
from York two days before the passage of the Tyne, and says,
( I find all men in this place extream ill satisfied with the
' guiding of our horse, and publish it infinitely to your dis-
' advantage, that, having with you a thousand horse and five
' hundred foot, you should suffer an enemy to march so long a
' way without one skirmish, nay without once looking upon
' him. And it imports you most extreamly, by some noble
' action, to put yourself from under the weight of ill tongues/t
Neither Lord Conway nor his troops at all expected that
power of artillery which Lesly brought against them, and had
mounted in battery, masked by brushwood, to open on their

* Burnet Own Times. t Strafford's Letters.

The annexed letter from Sir Jacob Astley to Lord Strafford, describing
the ill-appointed and destitute state in which the army took the field in
this second war, which had been begun by the King himself, at his own


Montrose, who, on the former outbreak of the Episcopal
war,~Ka(T Been posted on the Highland frontier to keep the
Roman Catholic clans in check, on the passing of the Tweed
took a forward station. The chieftains having drawn lots for
the honour of first entering England, the chance fell on him,
and he instantly plunged into the river, and crossed it at the
head of his infantry. According to his biographer, (who is
singularly eager to redeem him from the suspicion of ever
having been faithful to the Covenant, to which he had sworn,)
he had, even before the treaty of Berwick, put himself into
secret communication with the King.* This is also said by
Burnet. At all events, almost immediately after the invasion
of England, the great discovery of his treachery was made,
and thenceforward he was the most eager agent for the King
ill every enterprize, political or military, which was to be
undertaken in Scotland. In truth there never was a man who
owed more of his fame in the estimation of posterity to his
only virtue, dauntless and romantic courage, than Montrose.

How far it may have been under the advice of the leaders
of the popular party in London that the Scottish army was
now advanced into England, will probably always remain
matter of doubt. Nor is the question one of much import-
time, so long prepared, and provided for by means so arbitrary and
oppressive, goes some way to exculpate Lord Conway from his share in the
blame of the failure.

' Right Honourable, and my singular good Lord, I reseiued y of the
' 27 th of this month. Yesterday the Scotes army passed the Tyiie at
' Newbrene, as I leave the manner of it to my Lord Devereaux relation. I,
* upon this occasion, assembled all the colloneles, and by a general! consent
' it was found fittinge to quitt Newcastell. It was not to bee held they
' havinge passed the Tweede. This night all our foot ar to moue to Durham,
' and to-morrow wee shall march to . . . . Wee are in an ill casse,
' wantinge vitualles and amunitie and spades. Wee could bringe none.
' I humbly pray y r Lordeship that I may reseiue y r directions how I shall
' governe myselfe. If his Ma 1 '' will have good of this army, there must bee
' a speatiall car had to fumishe itt as itt ought to bee. Otherwise whosoever
'shall have anie chardge in itt will suffer in his reputation. Thear muste
'bee a speedy course taken to supply us w th vitualles, cannon, and
' amuuitie, and severall other thinges. I wish we weare mad able to fight,
' or the occation taken away. More I have not for the present to give y r
' Lordeship troubell, but doe rest ever,

'Most nobell Lorde,

' Y r Lordeship's humble servant,


Life of Montrose, 1640. t Orig. Letter, MS. Coll. Stowe.


ance. That a constant communication was kept up between
them by letters and by messengers is certain ; certain, too,
that the Puritans of England now looked to the success of
the Covenanters, as the best hope for reducing the King to the
necessity of dependence on his Parliament for supplies, and,
through this necessity, to a compromise in favour of public
liberty. The community of political feeling and objects

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 20 of 45)