George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

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

. (page 21 of 45)
Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 21 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

between Ithein has never been doubted or denied. True it is
that the letter laid before the assembly by Lord Saville, (who
had now emerged from his obscurity to do an act consistent
with a character which no new baseness could more deeply
stain,) and subscribed by him with the forged names of six
English noblemen, has been always believed to have been the
invitation on which the Scots changed their plan from the
defence of their own frontier to the invasion of the English
border. But probably this unprincipled artifice, (intended to
lead the Scots into jeopardy, and to involve the English
Puritans in the penalties of treason,) contributed, contrary to
the intention of its author, mainly to the success of their
common cause, by transmitting and giving effect to the
counsels which the parliamentary leaders were in reality most
desirous should be adopted. The principle of resistance had,
doubtless, long before this, received its justification in the
minds of Hampden and the other principal men of that party ;
and the delay can be attributed only to that strong motive of
duty which, after resistance shall have been otherwise morally
justified, will always deter good men from engaging themselves
and others in a hopeless conflict. No justice, no protection,
was to be derived to them, or to the country, from the courts
of law. All means of redress in a parliamentary way were
denied them. Every barrier with wliich the ancient constitu-
tion had fenced the rights of the people had been destroyed
or removed ; and the stream of the law was tainted to the
fountain head. The vindication of 'the cabal which was sitting
in London must rest, not on any single act of persecution
then flagrant, but on the whole system and character of
Charles's government ; on all that had preceded this crisis, and
all that was then threatened.

Moreover there are no grounds to presume that, even under
these provocations, the cabal in London had yet determined on
the last sad hazard of a civil war. But it would be weakness
to suppose that their minds were not prepared for it. Still we

To 1641 ] HIS PA11TY AND HIS TIMES. 139

have no right to conclude that their designs had, as yet, gone
farther than to countenance such operations, on the frontier of
the country, as might force the King to fair and equitable
terms with his Parliament. In a word, the justification of
Hampden and the rest, for their correspondence with the Scots,
was the same that we shall hereafter have to discuss as the
justification of their conduct when driven in their own persons
to an appeal to arms ; with this exception, that the King had
not yet declared a war of force against the Parliament. He
had only determined to govern without Parliament, and in
spite of Parliament. Against the people of England he had
long been working the two great and formidable engines of
the Exchequer and the Church ; and taxation and religious
persecution are provocations powerful exactly in proportion to
the importance of the several interests which they affect.
Religious persecution is odious to all : to those who do not
value religion, as interposing in the affairs of men a restraint,
and a mode of discipline, which they hold to be superstitious ;
to those who do value it, as interposing a human power in
things divine, which they hold to be a profanation. This last
is, doubtless, the stronger feeling, because it concerns a higher
and a deeper interest. And this feeling, partly from the
nature of their tenets and disposition, and partly from the
insults they had already suffered, was peculiarly strong with
the Puritans. By the Independents, in particular, who
acknowledge no head of their church under Christ, it is not
to be wondered at that tests, imposed by a temporal power,
and backed by persecution, should have been felt grievous in
no ordinary degree. Their position was peculiarly irksome.
They were the only large sect of Christians who were then of
opinion that the granting of entire religious liberty is not
only one of the most unfailing proofs of increasing wisdom in
a state, but is one of the most important of its moral obliga-
tions; and that the injunction, under penalties, of a peculiar
mode of worship, is not only a tyrannical usurpation of the
liberties of the creature who worships, but an impious inroad
on the privilege of the Creator to whose acceptance the worship
is addressed. The discipline of every other large sect was at
that time founded on penal tests. Nm placuerit hominibus Deus,
Dens non erit. And how lately have states begun to discover
that this is as foolish arid vain as it is wicked ! Fortunate it
is, that no human language can frame a penal test which may


not be evaded by craft, or baffled by simplicity. Because, if
penal tests could be made generally efficient for their purpose,
such is the spirit of intolerance in man, there would be no
limit to persecution.

The country-houses of such of the leading persons among
the malcontents as were admitted into their most secret
counsels alternately became the places of consultation with the
Scottish Commissioners. Broughton Castle, in Oxfordshire,
which belonged to the Lord Say, and Fawsley, in Northampton-
shire, the house of Sfr Richard KnighTTey, (whose son had
married Hampden's daughter,) were, from their position with
reference to the north road, and their easy distance from
London, convenient for these interviews.* Here did Pym,
Hampden, St. John, Lord Say, and Lord Brook, and', later
in this year, the Earls of Bedford, Warwick, and Essex, Lord
Holland, Nathaniel Fiennes, and the younger Yane, hold their
sittings, which were sometimes attended by other persons of
great rank and property, who were as deeply involved in the
general plan of resistance.f Their meetings in London were
usually in Gray's-inn-lane, whither the reports from their

I council-tables in the country were addressed ; and from whence,
after these had been considered, advices were communicated to
the friends of the country party in the city.J

Another great national disgrace at this time befel England
in her navy ; and it was all the more intolerable, since the
main pretext for all the King's heaviest impositions of late
years had been to strengthen his power at sea. Such, indeed,
had been the display of naval means, that it was observed by

* Nalson.

t The old printing press, established at Fawsley by Sir Richard's father,
is said to have been at this time again brought into use for the purposes of
the London cabal ; and at Broughton Castle there is a room, so contrived,
by being surrounded with thick stone walls and casemated, that no sound
from within can be heard. This room appears to have been built about the
time of King John, and is reported, on very doubtful grounds of tradition,
to have been the room used for the sittings of the Puritans. It seems an
odd fancy, although a very prevailing one, to suppose that wise men,
employed in capital matters of state, must needs choose the most
mysterious and suspicious retirements for consultation, instead of the safer
and less remarkable expedient of a walk into the open fields. The story
of the use made by the Puritans of the stone room in Broughton Castle
probably rests on the same sort of authority which lays the venue of the
Revolution of 1688 in the subterraneous vaults of the Lord Lovelace's house,
at Lady Place, in Berkshire.

Clarendon Papers. Windebank's Despatch. Warwick's Memoirs.
D'Estrades. Whitelocke.


some, that the troops which, during the last year, were sent
round to the Firth, might have been more easily transported
by land ; but that the King's ships of war were lying idle.
Scarcely two months after this, was fought in the Downs the
great battle between the Spaniards under Ocqueda, and the
combined fleets of the Dutch, under Van Tromp and De Witt.
In addition to the disgrace of permitting a battle to be fought
in a British roadstead, in sight of a powerful British fleet,
Charles had incurred the greater, of having endeavoured to
make a pecuniary bargain, offering to the court at Brussels,
for 150,000, first to take the Spanish ships under his
protection, (which he was bound, at any rate, to do by the law
of nations, so long as they should remain in his port,) and
then to convoy them to their destination in Spain, which he
was bound by treaty with Holland not to do.

The Scots, meanwhile, masters of four English counties,
had intrenched themselves in positions connecting the line of
the fortified cities which were in their hands, and, having
entered England ill provided with stores of any kind, levied
large contributions for the supply of their army.' 55 ' The King,
dismayed, rather as it appears by certain symptoms of
disaffection among his own troops, than by the temporary
success of the enemy, had retired to Northallerton, and thence
to York.f Here a great petition was brought up from the
Londoners, who were deprived of their supplies of coals and
cattte"ft'om the north. Other addresses also, signed by the
nobility and greater part of the gentry of Yorkshire, to the
number of one hundred and forty, J and from the inhabitants
of other counties, who were in instant peril of their estates
from the pressure of contributions to the two armies, were
presented to the King. Not only were these rejected, but
the gentlemen who brought them were threatened with the
Star Chamber. Straffbrd, who had at length sufficiently
recovered from a painful and dangerous disease to be able
to take the command and bring off the rear of the retreating
army to York, went so far in a council of war, says Burnet,
as to propose that the Lords Wharton and Howard, for having
undertaken to present some of these, should be shot at the
head of the army, as sowers of sedition. || Hamilton, after the

* Sydney Papers.

t Clarendon. Hist. Reb. J Whitelocke. May.

|| Burnet's own Times.


council, rose and asked him, if he were sure of the army ?
Startled at the question, StrafFord made such inquiries as
satisfied him that a general mutiny would probably have
followed, had any such execution been attempted.* And now
a strong and urgent address, procured, say the court writers,
by Hampden and Pym, and signed by twelve English Peers,t
most of them already distinguished on the popular side, gave
the King the opportunity, which, probably, by this time he
was not indisposed to embrace, of calling a council to consider
of the means, by treaty or otherwise, of clearing the English
Border from the invaders. The Covenanters met this advan-
tage with prudence, and resumed the ground of petition; and,
as on the former occasion at Berwick, a treaty was proposed.
A parliament was promised, to be convenea on the 3rd of
November, and a commission of sixteen noblemen, the most
popular of those who were still esteemed the King's friends,
was appointed to negociate terms with the committee of the
Scotch Estates. J The treaty of Rippon, which ensued, led to
a discussion of terms, prolonged by the Scots, probably not
without the willing consent of the English commissioners,
until the expected meeting of a parliament should be secured
beyond the risk of any duplicity or change of purpose in the
King. During the cessation of arms, and the settlement of
the treaty, the condition to which Charles's rashness had
reduced him was severe and mortifying in the extreme. Unable
to advance or to retire, obliged to keep his own forces collected
to check any farther advance of the Scots, and pressed to
relieve the northern counties from the contributions, he was
driven to the necessity of maintaining the levies of the Coven-
anters at the stipulated charge of 850 a day; himself, the
Sovereign, supporting at once two armies of his own subjects,
opposed to each other, in the field. The English council, as
a test of their sincerity, now assisted the King in raising a
loan of 200,000 from the city of London, by adding their

* Whitelocke says that divers of the officers and private soldiers 'in
'their march to their rendezvous, spared not to declare their judgments
' against the war, and that they would not fight to maintain the pride and
' power of the Bishops. And this resolution seemed not to be feigned by
' the ill success afterwards.' (Memorials.) Laud, says Dr. Lingard, but I
have not been able to trace his authority, had argued against Strafford in
favour of a peace with Scotland, but was silenced by him, and by the
known sentiments of the King. See Sydney Papers, ii. 614, 615, 618, 621 ;
Clarendon Papcrt, ii. 81-. 82. f Rushworth.

J Laing's Hist, of Scotland.


personal security to his.* But, by an ill-judged fancy of his
own that he could better dictate terms at Westminster, he was
soon after led into the most perplexing error of all, that of
transferring "tTTe negotiations thither; thus bringing the
Commissioners of the Covenanters into personal and daily
communication with that party whose object it was, by dint of
such difficulties as might by concert with the Commissioners
be thrown in the way of an accommodation, to force him to a
redress of English grievances. t

Thus the negotiation continued to subsist through the whole
of October into November. Kothes, Loudon, Johnstone of
Waristoune, and others of the Commission, resided in the city.
A church was assigned for their religious observances, whither
Henderson, one of the most able aiid zealous ministers of the
Kirk, attracted crowds of all classes and sects to catch the
excitement of his vehement eloquence. With a caution derived
from the failure of a pacification at Berwick, J the Commissioners
rejected all verbal negotiation, and required written minutes
to be made of every proceeding, grounding upon a respectful
formality towards the King their absolute refusal to stipulate
in his presence.

They demanded, first, that the King should sanction with
his consent the proceedings of the last Scottish Parliament ;
secondly, that their fortresses should be placed in the hands of
countrymen of their own, appointed by the King, but approved
by the Estates ; thirdly, that all Scotch subjects should be
released from all oaths inconsistent with the Covenant ; fourthly
that the authors of the hostilities should be subject to the
sentence of the respective parliaments ; fifthly, that their ships
and goods should be restored ; sixthly, that Scotland should
be indemnified for the charges and losses of the war ; seventhly,
that all hostile proclamations should be recalled ; and, eighthly,
that the religion and liberties of the country should be recog-
nised and secured. The fourth article, it will be seen, implied
the surrender of the Ministers of State to public justice ; and
the sixth called for a supply, which the King would be able to
raise only by granting all that the English parliament could
desire in the way of enquiry and redress of grievances. Hard
terms, and containing a conclusive security against any sudden
dissolution or assault upon the privileges of the Houses.

* Heyliu's Life of Laud. + Clarendon, Hist. Reb. May.

J Clarendon, Hist. Reb. . Rush worth.


The first and most important object of the popular leaders
was to strengthen their own party in the ensuing parliament ;
not only for the general reformation of abuses, but also for
the more urgent purpose of removing from the King's counsels
those persons whose influence with him was a barrier against
any measures favourable to liberty, and a source of personal
danger to those members through whose efforts such measures
were now, or never more, to be successful. Of the delinquent
, ministers Strafford and Laud were the foremost. The vast
I abilities and courage of Lord Strafford made him, beyond
I comparison, the most formidable enemy to the principles and
I persons of the country party ; while the destruction of that
party was of an importance to him proportionate to the detesta-
tion and alarm in which powerful principles and powerful men
must ever be held by one who has openly deserted and betrayed
them. Laud, who shared none of the great qualities of his
colleague, and who was, savs_JBaillie, considered as ' a mere
pendicle at the Lieutenant's ear/ could never, on account of
his vanity and rashness, have been an antagonist to be feared,
but that his station, his intolerance, and his boldness, had
given the whole political power of the Church into his hands,
and that his services in managing the contributions of the
clergy had secured for him an influence with the King for
which it would otherwise be difficult to account.*

As soon as the resolution of summoning a new parliament
was announced, and before the writs were issued, the friends
of liberty proceeded with the utmost skill and diligence to
canvass the country through for the. returns of persons of
their party and connexion to the lower House. The Earl of
Warwick, Lord Brook, and the Earl of Bedford took an
active share in these preparations ; and Lord Kimbolton, the
eldest son of the Earl of Manchester, Nathaniel Eiennes,
second son of the Lord Say, and Henry Vane, the eldest son
of the Secretary, now became forward persons in the party.
Pym and Hampden rode through various counties, t using the
utmost exertions, by every appeal to public spirit, to rouse the
electors to the support of candidates of known courage and
fidelity in their cause. The result was at once so hopeful that
the Earl of Warwick wrote from York,J although that county
had so lately been occupied by the King's court and army, and

* Bail! ie's Letters. Guthrie.
t Wood's Athense. J Clareudon Hist. Reb.


threatened with invasion by the Covenanters, that ' the game
' was well began/ * We have it on the very doubtful
authority of Eachard that one of the leaders, intemperate in
his zeal and his success, openly boasted that ' they were strong
' enough to pull the King's crown from his head, but the
' Gospel would not let them/ t

Nor was the Court inactive in its canvass. But its means
were ill concerted, its purposes ill disguised, and the minds of
the people ill disposed to yield to its menaces or receive its
tardy addresses with favour ; and a comparatively small pro-
portion of the candidates so recommended were chosen.

Undoubtedly, of all the abuses of the Royal Prerogative,
none had so much contributed to this general disgust as the
iimovations in religion. And these were the most general
topics of excitement used by the popular canvassers, as affect-
ing feelings the deepest and the most earnest, and as con-
cerning matters much more generally embraced by the mind
of the people than the mere duty of resisting taxes when
imposed by the single will of the King, and of submitting to
them when voted by the authority of parliament. Eachard
states that when Hampden, about this time, was asked by a
friend, apparently not very high in the confidence of the
party, ' why they pretended religion, when liberty, property,
' and temporal matters, were the chief end of their proceedings?'
He replied, ' Should we not use the pretence of religion, the
' people would not listen to us/ This is a tale very likely to
catch the fancy of Eachard, but a sentiment very unlikely to
have been avowed by Hampden. The sincerity of Hampden' s
motives has often been doubted by a certain class of political
writers ; and these are doubts which may always be safely
objected to the memory of all great men by the base ones who
succeed them, since, with the means which this world affords,
they must be always incapable of a decisive solution. But
that Hampden should have confessed to a questioning and
traditional friend that the show of religion was, with his party,
a mere politic pretence, would surely be much derogatory from
his, otherwise universal, reputation for wisdom. Hampdeu it
has been the general fashion of the courtiers of that and sub-
sequent times to describe as a discreet and shrewd dissembler.
Something more is required than the authority of Eachard to
make us believe him to have been a shallow, babbler.

* Whitelocke. t Eachard's Hist.


Charles, before consenting to the issue of the writs, de-
manded from his council, ' If this Parliament should prove as
' untoward as some have lately been, will you then assist me
' in such extraordinary ways as in that extremity shall be
' thought fit ? ' The Council gave this assurance, and the
Parliament was called.

When the returns of the members were made up, many
names of old renown in the struggles of former parliaments re-
appeared, and many new ones were added, which at once gave
an earnest of popular principles. Hampden's was a double
return for the borough of Wendover and for the county of
Buckingham; and he made his election for the county. Pym
was chosen for Tavistock, and Lord Russell was his colleague;
St. John for Totness, Holbourne for St. Michael's, Fieimes
for Banbury, and the younger Vane for Kingston-upon-Hull.
Several persons nearly connected in blood with Hampden were
also returned. His cousins, Oliver Cromwell, Sir John Trevor,
and Edmund Waller, were elected for Cambridge, Grainpound,
and St. Ives ; and his two sons-in-law, the younger Knightley
and Sir Robert Pye, for Northampton and Woodstock.*

On the 3rd of November, 1640, Charles opened in person
a Parliament, which, whether the more to be remembered for
its later acts (as having abolished an inseparable part of the
ancient constitution of England by razing her monarchy to
the ground and destroying even its ruins), or for its earlier
(as having redeemed another inseparable part of it by restoring
the privileges and power of her free legislature), must by all
men be confessed to have been the mightiest assembly that
ever brought rare abilities and inflexible courage to grapple
for liberty or empire. The time appears scarcely yet to have
arrived, but it surely cannot be far distant, when the zeal of
writers on this part of our history may be sufficiently cooled

* Clarendon accuses the leaders of having packed the House; no
unusual accusation from a disappointed faction who find a great majority
returned on the opposite side to their own by the people. He says that
this was done by resolving, upon cases of contested elections, their own
friends to be duly returned, and declaring that regard should not be had
to the merits of the cases but to the fitness of the persons. There is no
foundation for this charge. There are on the journals but eight contro-
verted returns. In five of these, the grounds of the determination are
stated, and seem to rest entirely on the merits of the cases ; and no declara-
tion like that cited by Lord Clarendon is any where to be found but in his
History. On this point, see Guthrie's History ; on the whole one of the
most impartial narratives of tnCSe tPanBabftous and times.


to allow them to treat of the conduct of the Long Parliament
M ithout the inclination to pronounce any but a fair and equal
judgment on its acts. Summoned, as it was, to strengthen
the military power of one despot, whom it overthrew ; and at last
destroyed, as it was, by that of another far more powerful ; that
the acts of this Parliament were always in conformity with one
undeviating set of principles, its most zealous admirers cannot
contend. But that the tyranny which it undertook to con-
trol could have been dealt with on a mere defensive plan,
working within the limits of the constitution, the most bitter
revilers of its memory will scarcely maintain. Nor, surely,
do our general conclusions in favour of a cause require that
everything which was done to support it shall be capable of a
full moral vindication ; least of all that we should be able to
show, throughout the conduct of a popular assembly in
tumultuous times, that uniformity of virtuous purpose which
can rarely be predicated but by an advocate of his unerring
client, or by a romancer of his faultless hero. Legislative
inconsistencies, and judicial offences may be owned to have
been committed on both sides, without materially weakening
the just case for either ; nor perhaps would it be reasonable,
under all the circumstances, to expect to find a course
demanding unmixed praise, until some clear examples shall
have been shown, in some other age or country, of princes
without a vice, and parliaments without a passion.. Com-
paratively easy, meanwhile, is his task who has to cousider

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 21 of 45)