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

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with the altered spirit of the times. Clarendon says of him /
that, ' besides the credit and reputation of his father, he had
' a very good stock of estimation in the House of Commons
' upon his own score ; for truly he had very good parts of
' learning and nature, and was privy to, and a great manager
' in, the most secret designs from the beginning ; and, if he
' had not encumbered himself with command in the army, to
' which men thought his nature not so well disposed, he had sure
' been second to none in those counsels, after Mr. Hampden's
' death/ His education at Geneva, and perhaps also the con-
nexions into which, after his return, he was early thrown, had
tended to excite in an ambitious and generous mind a thorough
abhorrence of the course of church government in England.
AViser than Hazelrigge, and as much disposed to be forward
in Vripporting"6T proposing the strongest measures, he and
the younger Vane had, from the beginning of this Parliament^
become nseful and powerful leaders.

AVith these also must be mentioned LordKimbolton, now r
rising high in esteem among those whom Clarendon calls 'the
'select junto/ lie was a well-bred man, of popular manners
and address, and generally beloved, not only on his own account,
but on that of his father and uncle, both of whom had lived


to a venerable age with honour and reputation ; the former
for many years holding the office of Lord Privy Seal. Early
separating himself from their politics, and becoming intimate
with some of the leaders of the popular party by his marriage
with the daughter of the Earl of Warwick, Kimbolton had,
says Lord Clarendon, as ' full power in the House of Commons
' as any man/ *

A stock table was kept at Pym's lodgings in Gray's-inn-
i lane, where these and a few others the mo"stTTn each other's
I donfidence, transacted business. Thither Hyde was often
invited, until, perceiving in conversation with Fiennes and
Marten the lengths to which they were prepared to go, he
withdrew himself, and Colepepper, from their society. Cole-
pepper and Hyde were soon after sent for by the King, and
commanded by him to meet from time to time in council upon
his affairs.f

With less show of justification, Digby, too, having now
entirely changed his course, was received into open favour by
the Queen, and more strangely, (when it is considered how
little he was fitted for it by any qualities of probity or dis-
cretion,) into the closest confidence by the King. He was a
man of a brilliant eloquence, an active spirit, and eminent
address as'a courtier. He had received, says Carte, ' a most
l \ ^elaborate education from his father, and had improved his
P '^"natural parts by travel/ HeTwasnah ingenious and accurate
proficient in the exact sciences, and had, in his early youth,
distinguished himself not a little in theological controversy.
But his restless and overweening vanity made him careless of
all the essentials of a good fame, and as unsafe a counsellor to
his master as he was an improvident guardian of his own
reputation. His speech on the bill against Strafford had
gained him, and not unreasonably, great applause. But the
eagerness with which, as if unable to hold any even way of
conduct or opinions, he rushed into the direct opposite of his
former course, discrediting his former opinions, and denounc-
. ing his former connexions, leaves him on record, if not as one
I of the most perfidious, as one of the most absurd men of showy
I abilities, whom that or any other age has produced.

The adventurous character of the career upon which the
events of each successive day were now hurrying the country

* Clarendon Life. t Ibid.


party, the perils which menaced the foremost, and the temp-
tations with which all were from time to time assailed, had
introduced a very temporising spirit into many. It is gene-
rally the case during the period when the elements of any
great change are beginning to work, that the popular counsels
are encumbered by the presence of some suspected persons,
and often damaged by the treachery of others. It was so now
in an eminent degree. Several, profiting by the experience of
Stratford's life but neglecting the moral of his death, had
deserted from the popular side ; others were wavering ; and
many more appeared plainly to have attached themselves to
it, for the mere purpose of exhibiting themselves to the King
for purchase. The impolicy of at once forcing such persons,
in such times, from a hollow neutrality into active enmity, did
not occur to the country party as soon as it ought. The
trimmers were discarded and insulted in council and debate.
They were treated with a contumely which took away from
such base minds all desire to further dissemble their baseness. ,
It has been well observed, that men's real qualities are very i
apt to rise or fall to the level of Iheirreputation : so was it I
now with the irimmersT And it may well beHbubted whether '
Hampden's phrase was in this respect well timed, or chosen
with his usual prudence, when he said that the trouble which j
had lately befallen the party f had been attended with this j
' benefit, that they knew who were their friends/ *

The largest number of all, though honest in their intentions
for liberty, endeavoured to keep the means of retreat still
open. In such a state of things, men of the rank, virtue, and
courage of Fiennes and the younger Vane were eminently
valuable to the leaders. Yet the courage of Fiennes was
given to him in an unequal measure ; and his is one of the
instances, not unfrequently met with, which show that courage I
is a faculty which may materially depend upon the different I
positions of responsibility in which the man is placed. There
is no reason for imputing personal timidity to Nathaniel
Fiennes. On the contrary, his valour was often and eminently
displayed; nor was there ever, in the most hazardous moments, .
a bolder politician. Yet there never was a man whose timidity S
under a great military charge, such as that in which it was his (
misfortune to find himself when he commanded at the defence

* Clarendon Life.


of Bristol, gave stronger proof of his consciousness that for
such~3uies he was entirely unfit.

Vane's principles were of a more unmixed sort; and he
hadT^iTliis early life, many great difficulties and allurements
to struggle with. The son of a trading courtier, who had
been the ready minister of *wo arbitrary Sovereigns, the
younger Sir Harry Vane maintained and avowed, through
every change of affairs, the most uncompromising attachment
to the republican doctrines. This was expressed by him, to
his father's great displeasure, upon his return from Geneva ;
from which place, as from its seminary, the spirit of ^3o"ptflar
liberty has so often gone forth to other nations, and in which
it has so often found again an asylum when driven back and
discomfited. He sought to cultivate these principles, in their
utmost speculative purity, in New England, where he was
instantly raised, by acclamation, to the government of Massa-
chusetts. In this office he openly countenanced antinomian
opinions, too absolutely exempt from all human control both
in church and state for even the settlers there. And so
terminated his short career as a president and lawgiver;
which, when considered as the aspiring effort of a man of
twenty-three years old, at the head of an infant society, in a
new world, cannot but be thought to be too severely dealt
with by both Neal and Baxter. Appointed, soon after his
return, at his father's instance, to the treasurership of the
Navy, he nevertheless took deep disgust at the measures of
the court, and, throwing up his office, attached himself to the
cause and fortunes of the country party ; a course sufficiently
explained by the earliest and uniform dispositions of his mind ;
but which lias been lightly and injuriously impugned by some
who have imputed it, without any probability of truth, to
resentment on account of the mortified ambition and disap-
pointed intrigues of his father. Unlike Hampden, whose
professions and views may be shown to have been uniformly
bounded to the establishment of a freedom guarded by limited
monarchy, Vane's darling scheme throughout was a Platonic
republic ; from the avowal of which lie never swerved, even
fronTthe hour of his first appearance in the Long Parliament,
y to that at which he bravely met the fate to which he was
I unjustly doomed, for an act not only in which he had taken
I no part, but from which he had signally abstained. In religion
and politics equally an enthusiast, he was as stern and incor-


ruptible in opposition to the sovereignty of Cromwell as he
had been to that of Charles. His genius was shrewd and
ardent, his judgment penetrating, his eloquence glowing, and
chastened by a better taste than was common among the
orators of that time.

Strode, was scarcely of sufficient importance, or T^azelrigge,
or Bering of sufficient discretion, to hold a place m the
secret councils of the leading men. Dauntless and persevering
in his course, whether selected by his party to post, in disguise,
from Fawsley to the Scottish border, or, in his place in
Parliament, to move the bringing in of the Triennial Act,
Hazelrigge was ever ready and faithful to sustain his allotted
share of an action in the previous arranging of which he
neither took nor desired to take a part. It was sufficient for
him th;it it had the consent of ilampden, whose directing
genius ho held in the deepest veneration, and that it should be
manifestly in furtherance of that great cause to which he was
so entirely devoted. Peering, also a subordinate actor, had
neither the courage nor Mefity of Hazelrigge ; his name and
station in an important county appear to have been, from the
beginning, his only recommendation in the eyes of those under
whose direction he moved. Turbulent and selfish, and ever
ambitious to concur in the strongest measures, when they
seemed likely to advance him along the road of his personal
interest, he had none of that careless purity of purpose which,
aiming at generous ends,, pursues the most direct and rigorous
means ; nor had he that discretion in the choice of his objects,
or uniformity in his pursuit of them, which sometimes gives
to even a bad or foolish consistency a false semblance of public
virtue. Devoted to the most sordid aims of private advantage,
he never rose higher than to be an instrument, working and
controlled by the direction of others ; and, at length, baffled in
his speculations of unjust profit to be derived from Parliamen-
tary confiscations, he found himself sunk at once in fortune
and reputation.

One person, and one only, was there in this confederacy
whose powers seem to have long remained unknown and
unmeasured by all but by the searching sagacity of his kins-
man Hampden; arid this was Oliver Cromwell, burgess for
CamEridgey~who, with an ill-f a voure7T~c6uiiTe fiance, a sharp
untamable voice, an ungraceful address, a ( plain cloth suit
' which seemed to have been made by an ill country taylor,


'and a little band, none of the cleanest/ * had never yet risen
to notice in debate, but by some occasional disjointed proposi-
tion, coarse in itself, and not recommended by the mode of
the delivery. Yet this was he concerning whom, when Lord
Digby asked, ' Pray, Mr. Hampden, who is tjiat man ? for I
sec lie is on oursicle by i .' to-day : '

llampdi'ii answered, ' That Cloven wliom \ on see before you
'hath no ornament in his speech; but that sloven, T say, if
' we should ever come to a broach with the T\in<:, (\\hicli fJod
' forbid !) in such a case, I say, that sloven will be the greatest
man in England ! J f

The prophecy \ras more than accomplished. He lived not
only to be the first man in England, but to fill the most extra-
ordinary station to which any man in England was ever raised
by the most extraordinary fortune and abilities. Dishonoured
by one great over-mastering vice, he had not one weakness.
And, perhaps, it is but truth to say of Cromwell, that the deep
inscrutable dissimulation which, in the later days of his*career,
he~5ummbned to nis aid against both foreign and domestic
machination, to baffle the assaults at once of the despotic
powers of Europe and the democratic spirits of England, was
a vice rather called forth by the difficulties of his position than
forming an original or natural part among his wondrous
qualities. Flattered and magnified by the praises of those
who had grown under the shadow of his greatness, he has also
been the subject of more vulgar and savage malignity than,
perhaps, ever assailed the memory of any other human creature.
He was pursued by the hatred of those who opposed his
usurpation or were the open enemies of his tyranny ; and it
has been likewise the trade of many who had crouched before
his footstool, with corresponding baseness, to insult over his
grave. The courtiers and statesmen of Europe, for one gener-
ation at least, were all leagued in this work. For the statesmen
of foreign nations were those whom he had discomfited, and
upon whose disgrace, or with whose enforced assistance, he
had raised the glory of England to no second rank of fame
among empires ; and the statesmen of England forgot, after the
Restoration, the greatness he had achieved for their country,
or remembered it too well ever to forgive the contrast in which
it stood to her degradation under the sway of their restored

* Sir Philip Warwick's Memoirs. t Sir Richard Bulstrode's Memoirs.


master. The courtiers of all nations hated the memory of
one who hadr showed thai a natkm" could be governed gloriously
without a COllTt. Those of Fiance were eager to revile the
memoryuf" him to whom their greatest minister had yielded
the palm of his continental policy ; whom their vain and arro-
gant prince had been forced to address as his 'brother; ' who,
with 6000 Englishmen, had eclipsed the glories of their nation
at Dunkirk ; and who had brought the ablest of their nego-
tiators to confess an attempted and baffled fraud. He had
shamed Kings, himself at the head of a people whom he
governed only through a sense that he was the fittest man in
the country to govern them ; and, at that hour when it may
be believed that, with all men, dissimulation is at an end, he (
breathed his last words forth in a prayer of simple but affecting
resignation, commending his own soul to mercy, but, with it,
the never-neglected fortunes of a country whose gratitude had
not kept pace with his immortal services.

Cromwell, at the beginning, probably sincere, was doubtless
a dissembler from the hour at which he aspired to rule ; but
he had to deal with many bad men ; and dissimulation was
the weapon which they used. Cromwell took it up and
vanquished them. Cromwell was a tyrant j but, of his personal
ambition, this is truly to be saiil, jjnat it \vas never seen but
directed to tne"promouoii ot nis country's greatness.

Xor lias the unfairness of party zeal been "much less actively
employed to defame as well as to extol the reputation of Pvm,
who may be called the colleague of Hampdeu in the govern-
ment of the country party. For eight and twenty successive
years after the Restoration, powerful pens were incessantly
employed to desecrate the ashes of the great men of the
generation which had just gone by; and, as their descriptions
have not unnaturally been taken as models upon Avhich most
of the later historians have formed their own, the character of
Pym is not likely to have received favourable measure. With
a courage that never quailed, a vigilance that never slept,
a"severu^7^a r l ) ;1S the sunbeam to penefrale, and rapid as the
thunderbolt to consume, Pym was the undaunted, indefatigable,
implacable foe, of every measure, and" of every man, that
threatened to assail the power of the Parliament, or to destroy
the great work which was in hand for the people and posterity.

When the citadel of public liberty was menaced, Pym
defended it as one who thought in such a battle all arms lawful.


That his parts were, according to Mr. Hume's phrase, ' more
' fitted for use than ornament/ is little to say of those abilities
which, after the Earl of Bedford's death, and when Pym was
unsupported by any other influence, raised him to the rank in
the e.-timation of his opponents of being one of the ' Parlia-
j ' mentary drivers/ * and gave to him in their phraseology the
j| nickname of ' KingJPym/ His great experience in the practice
of Parliament,~on which his authority was hardly inferior to
that of Selden himself, gave to Pym the greatest advantages of
preparedness in debate. His efforts were mainly directed to
maintain the privileges and power of the Commons. His
ruling maxim was that which he expressed on Strafl'ord's
impeachment. ' Parliaments, without parliamentary power,
I ' are but a fair and plausible way into bondage/ Nor was he
less well versed in the business of the Treasury than of the
House. A man so forward and powerful, and by the court so
hated and so feared, was sure to be assailed with calumnies the
most virulent and the most improbable. Accordingly, the
almost repulsive austerity of Pym's habits and demeanour
could not protect him against the foolish imputation of having
won over the beauteous Countess of Carlisle, by a softer influ-
ence than that of political agreement, to the interests of the
country party ; and a modern author, to whom it has been
necessary to advert more than once in these memorials, after
a fanciful picture of Pym's system of secret intelligence, ends
with discovering a close resemblance between his stern un-
bending course and the occupation and office of a ' French
' Lieutenant of Police/ Nor are such extravagances very
surprising or unpardonable in writers of small account, when
we see the grave and lofty Clarendon himself recording the
disproved statement, so industriously circulated by some of the
Royalists, that the death of Pym was caused by a loathsome
disease; and then condescending to countenance a superstitious
belief that it was the wrath of heaven manifesting itself against
the public acts of the old man's life : thus leaving us to con-
clude between the probabilities of a miracle and a calumny.
In either case, how injudicious in the adherents of the unhappy
family of the Stuarts to insist upon accounting the worldly
misfortunes of men as visible judgments upon their political
offences I On the other hand, Baxter gives to Pym, with

* Wood's Athensc. Persecutio Undecima.


Hampden and with Vane, an assured place among the highest
mansions of the blessed.* And, if there ever was a man who
would have been less likely than another to assign such praise
to one whom in his heart he thought justly chargeable with
blame, that man was the pious and honest Baxter.

Hampden' s powers, which were now vigorously exerting
themselves in parliamentary debate, were of a different sort
from those of the other popular leaders. He was not a frequent
speaker ; nor, when the course of a discussion called upon him
to take his part in it, did he sacrifice anything to a vain display
of words and figures, which was so general a vice in the
rhetoric of those days ; nor did he indulge himself in those
violences of invective, or exaggerations of illustration, of which
so many instances are found in the published speeches of the
rest, . llis practice was usually to reserve himself until near
the clo^e of a debate; and, then, having watched its progress,
to endeavour to moderate the redundances of his friends, to
weaken the impression produced by his opponents, to confirm
the timid, and to reconcile the reluctant. And this he did,
according to the testimony of his opponents themselves, with
a modesty, gentleness, and apparent diffidence in his own
judgment, which usually brought men round to his conclusions.
It is natural that Clarendon, in his unmitigated hatred of
Hampden, and of the cause in which he successfully directed
the spirits and minds of others, should give to that triumphant
genius, tempered by modesty, and guided by discretion, the
name of craft ; and that, labouring to represent him as a bad
man whoirr~aTT outward evidence had raised high in public
affection and esteem, he should pronounce that, from the time
when Hampden and Hyde were opposed to each other, ' there
' never was a man less what he seemed to be than Mr.
' Hampden/

About this time, a difference arose in the party, with respect
to the course of public affairs, between those who were called
the religious, and the political, Puritans. Of those who were
called the religious Puritans, the less considerable of the t\vo
classes both as to number and influence, Pym was accounted
the leader. Of this schism in the junto the King tried to
avail himself; but in vain. For, no sooner did any question
of state grievance, apart from that on which they were divided,

* " Saint's Rest.'


appear, but they were again found closely and eagerly united.
Yet the bill for abolishing episcopacy was a prominent and
practical question, concerning which, not only the party was at
issue within itself, but Pyin and Hampden, the ' Parliament
drivers/ were opposed to each other. To the first proposal
touching ' root and branch ' the rashness of Archbishop
Williams had much contributed. The grounds on which the
protest of the bishops against the bill restraining the clergy
from civil office was placed, were doubtless a high breach of
the privileges of the Lords, and a denial of the power of an
act of Parliament. Tor, not content with defending the
parliamentary and other franchises of their own order, they
went in effect the monstrous length of resisting the legality of
all votes of the Lords at the passing of which they and their
brethren should not assist. Into this ill-advised course they
were betrayed by the hasty temper of the Archbishop, kindling
at the violence of a mob which had impeded his passage through
Palace Yard. It led at once to the impeachment of those who
subscribed their names to it, as having questioned the power
of Acts of Parliament ; an offence which, if it did not amount
to fit matter of commitment for treason, was evidence at least
of a madness sufficient, (as Lord Clarendon says was remarked
at the time) to justify their being placed in a confinement of
another and scarcely a milder sort.

But, among these struggles, the foundations of the consti-
tution were broken up, and its elements in conflict. The
efforts of the Court to regain the lost ground of arbitrary
prerogative, and those of the Parliament to strengthen its own
defences, became more frequent and less disguised. In nothing
does the deep feeling which the Parliament had of its own
strength appear more remarkably than in its conduct towards
the Scots, when we remember that it was to renew his enter-
prise against them that Charles had called the Parliament
.together. "With as little good discretion as good faith, and
choosing rather to put his trust in the force of national
jealousies than in the popularity of his own government, he
had, in his speech at the opening of the session, gone the
length of calling the Scottish army rebels; and this too
during a treaty. The Parliament seemed for a while to dis-
regard this phrase. But, in exactly three months after, the
disposition of Parliament was plainly shown by voting, under
the name of a ' brotherly assistance/ upon a petition from the

To 1641.] HIS PA11TY AND HIS TIMES. 187

Scots, a grant of three hundred thousand pounds, ' as a fit
' proportion towards the supply of the losses and necessities of
f our brethren of Scotland/ *

In such a conflict it was clear that the system of govern-
ment itself must dissolve, or that, of its two great powers thus
put in action against each . other, one must effectually and
signally prevail, and thus the balance be destroyed.

The Triennial bill, alone, as we have seen, was but a poor
defence against any King who might be disposed to look to
his army as a resource against his Parliament, and who had
still the prerogative of dissolution in his hands, so often before
abused in practice, and lately again appealed to as a menace.
Another Act had therefore been passed, which in truth rendered
the two Houses entirely independent of the crown ; and two

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 25 of 45)