George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

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

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bring himself to adopt, and which in truth would now have
been received by them with a degree of suspicion too well
justified by all his former conduct. Without money he could
not maintain his army ; and without the Royal assent being
previously given to the concessions which the Parliament
demanded, the Parliament would not give the money. A poll
tax meanwhile was in progress, for the payment of both armies,
of five per cent, on all expended income, and an additional
tax on all patents and titles.

But the tone and attitude of the Commons had undergone
a material change. The forms of petition were studiously, it
is true, and punctiliously observed, but in such a manner as
to show the King that the House was aware of the violence he
meditated against its privileges and its existence. It recognised
the power of the sword as in him; but pointed distantly at
the limitations under which that power was to be exercised,
and even at the circumstances under which the public safety
might demand that the control of Parliament should extend
over his use of that power. He was told that, in a free state,
it is given to the Sovereign for the defence of the people and
of that form of government of which the House of Commons
is a part. He was told that his officers were in a conspiracy
against the State, and he was told moreover to whom the chief
command in one of the largest provinces of his kingdom ought,
for the public safety, to be entrusted. These doubtless were
extraordinary powers assumed by the Parliament ; and it is
equally true that, by degrees, these demands were rising to an
amount quite irreconcilable with any just notion of a form of
government in which the monarchical principle was to have
its due influence upon the balance. It had not, as yet, made
any claim of power over the army. But it was laying ground
for this claim, in case that future circumstances should render

* Comin. Journ. 8 May.


the exercise of it necessary. And this is not the English
Constitution. Still there is the constantly recurring question :
by what other means was any balanced form of government to
be protected against Charles the First ? How could the power
and authority of Parliament have been otherwise preserved, to be
again reduced within their proper dimensions under the sway
of some succeeding Prince ? Short of having these powers in
its hands, could the House of Commons have reasonably hoped
to survive one week, with the supplies voted, Scotland tran-
quillised, a standing army of soldiers and a standing army of
lawyers at the disposal of the King, and those who had
destroyed his friend and minister cast powerless at his discre-
tion ? The Parliament knew, by experience often repeated,
the whole political and moral scheme of Charles's government.
His policy was the restoration of the absolute prerogative royal,
such as it had been claimed by the Plantagenets and the Tudors,
and his moral creed was such as to justify the effecting of this
restoration by all and any means of fraud or force. His
conduct, from as far back as the time of giving the royal
assent to the Petition of Eight, to that of his correspondence
with the army plotters, was an ineffaceable and renewed proof
that no bond of treaty or accommodation with him, of which
Parliament did not hold the security in its own hands, was of
any value. The true way of judging of the conduct of the
Long Parliament in these transactions, is to compare it with
the conduct of the Convention Parliament in 1688; under
circumstances not identical, not similar in all their parts,
but so nearly analogous, that the only very marked difference
in Charles's favour is, that James had an example in memory
which his father had not; and this, though mitigating the
case for Charles, in no way lowers, in the comparison, the
justification of his Parliament. James II. once endeavoured
to govern for three years without Parliaments. Charles had
done so five times, in violation of personal engagements such
. as James had never entered into, and had governed without a
Parliament for a period of nearly twelve years. James II.
assumed a power to dispense with the known laws of the land,
and threatened and began a transfer of church property, and
the restoration of popery. Charles had actually dispensed
with the known laws of the land, in cases of confiscation,
taxation, billeting, imprisonment, banishment, pillory, and
mutilation. He, indeed, may fairly be supposed never to have

To 1641. J HIS PA11TY AND HIS TIMES. 199

meditated the restoration of popery ; but he had effected the
establishment of a sort of popery in Protestant clothing, a
discipline more at variance with the spirit of the age than any
which had ever been endured by the English nation from the
time of King John to that of Henry the Eighth, when England
boasted, and the world believed, that the shackles of priestly
tyranny had been broken for ever. In Scotland, he had striven
to establish the rites of the Church of England, contrary to
law and to his oath. In England, he had not only cast off,
but made war upon, the old reforming principle of the
English Church, leaning for support upon that limb of her
discipline which was of the nature of that ecclesiastical
government which she had broken, and was therefore most
distasteful generally to the people. Yet the Long Parliament
had not, like that of the Convention, voted these acts to be a
virtual abdication of the throne, nor had it proceeded, by its
own authority, to dispossess the Sovereign of his title and
bestow it elsewhere. Probably it may be answered, because
it had not yet the power ; perhaps so ; but, be that as it
may, surely it is not just to blame the Parliament of Charles,
not having the power, because it did not take the direct course
of power which was taken by the Parliament of James. The
time for taking the pledge of the royal word was passed.
The ruling party had learned the lesson that it is no part of
the moral law of arbitrary Sovereigns to keep faith with such
of their subjects as have resisted them. History abounds
with instances of engagements solemnly ratified between
arbitrary Kings and their people, after advantages gained on
the popular side : it affords not one of an arbitrary King who
has ever observed any such engagements, when the power of
breaking them has returned to him. The question of whether
Charles was to be resisted at all is a separate one; but, if
to be resisted, surely it would have been madness in the
Parliament to trust to his faith without the security of an

The Parliament proceeded, therefore, gradually and warily,
in a defensive course, towards an assumption of power which
could alone protect it against the assaults which it was in
evidence before them that the King had in his immediate
contemplation. It proceeded gradually to withdraw from the
Crown all means of violence, until the Crown might be found
on the head of some prince who might be trusted with such


prerogative as is compatible with liberty, and is an essential
part of a free monarchy.

It was in this spirit that Hampden, when, at a more
advanced period of the dispute, he was asked, ' what he would
' require that the King should do ? ' answered, ' That he place
' himself, with his children, and all that he hath, in our
( hands/



FROM 1041 TO 1642.

The King's project of visiting Scotland Opposed by the Commons En-
couraged by the Scots The King arrives at Edinburgh Cultivates
Popularity with the Covenanters Hampden, and others, Commissioners
to attend upon the King Intrigues and Violences of Montrose The Scot-
tish Incident Irish Insurrection The King returns to London Grand
Protestation Defections from the Country Party Demand of the King for
the Surrender of Kimbolton and the Five Members Committee of Pri-
vileges retire to the City Return in Triumph to Westminster Petition of
the Buckinghamshire Men King leaves London Departure of the Queen
King goes to York Summons of Hull -Declaration of his Cause Is
joined by Lords Raises his Standard Hampden's motives and Falkland's
compared Breaking out of the Great Civil War.

WHETHER, in Charles's judgment, the time had now become
ripe for the blow which he had so long contemplated, or
whether, a part of the machinery having failed him, the crisis
was thus hastened, it is certain that he began to look
impatiently for the means of redeeming himself from that
temporising course which he had lately pursued with so much
disadvantage. The policy with which he had endeavoured to
lull the suspicions of the Commons lay bare before them and
the country ; the discovery of the Army Plot, and his ill-
disguised eagerness to keep together the levies of Roman
Catholics in Ireland (useless, since the pacification with the
Scots, for any purpose which would bear the avowal), were
strong and public evidence of some dangerous design. But
other considerations there were, besides the difficulty of longer
keeping his motives secret, which determined him to hasten
their accomplishment. Some circumstances, of late, had


threatened to raise jealousies among the English people, and
to sow differences between a portion of them and the Houses.
May admits that, for a short time, the popularity of the Parlia-
ninit li;i<| been on flu- decline : ' IJishops/ says lie, TuwTUSSl
' much litted~a^TKou^h not taken away ; whereby a great
' party whose livelihood and fortune depended upon them, and
' far more, whose hopes of preferment looked that way, most of
' the clergy, and both the Universities, began to be daily more
' disaffected to the Parliament, complaining that all rewards of
' learning must be taken away, which wrought deeply in the
' hearts of the young and more ambitious of that coat/ The
populace also had, on many occasions, committed great excesses
in interruption of the Church service, while the Common
Prayer was reading ; and the Parliament, taunted by the Court
with being the abettors of them (and unsupported by the
Crown), had not, in truth, the power to control them ; unless
by having recourse to means which would have impaired their
own credit with a strong party among the people. And such
means they could not, while unsupported by the Crown, be
expected to adopt.

To these causes of disgust were added the public preachings
of illiterate persons, mostly of the lowest order of tradesmen.
' This, however/ says May, ' some, in a merry way, would put
' off; considering the precedent times, and saying that these
' tradesmen did but take up that duty which the Prelates and
' great Doctors had- let fall, the preaching of the Gospel ;
' and that it was but a reciprocal invasion of each other's
' callings j that chandlers, salters, weavers, aH3 the like,
' preached while the Archbishop himself, instead of preaching,
' was busied in projects about leather, salt, soap, and such
' commodities as belonged to those tradesmen/

These distempers are almost inseparable from a state in which
a country party is endeavouring by popular means to diminish
the power of the King, and the King is well pleased, at any
risk, to discredit the popular party, by casting them on the
support of a tumultuous multitude, for whose acts they are
unfairly made answerable. Besides, the House of Commons
had been obliged to substitute new imposts for those which
they had abolished ; and now, first for many years, the people
felt themselves taxed by votes of Parliament. It was, for
many reasons, the King's desire at this juncture that the
Parliament should adjourn; the more so, because the bill

To 1642.] HIS PAETY A^D HIS TIMES. 203

against Episcopacy was yet pending, and the Houses were also
engaged in other committees, for reparation to those who had
suffered under the ship-money and other illegal taxes, for settling
permanently the revenue of the customs in the hands of Par-
liament, and for taking into consideration, generally, the state
of the kingdom. Charles suddenly announced to them that
the visit which he had promised to his friends at Edinburgh
must^now be paid, and the Scottish Parliament opened byliim
in person". Tnvain did the Commons represent to him the
charge of such a journey, at a time when the beggared
condition of the exchequer, and the embarrassments of the
public credit, made it very difficult to carry on the public
service at all, and almost hopeless to meet the demands of
arrears due to both armies. And with what propriety was he
to expose himself in person to the complaints and excesses
of troops, some flushed with their late receipt of pay, some
clamouring for what was due to them, and all thirsting to be
set free from a military restraint which was at once irksome
and inglorious ? The King changed his pretext, and now
announced his journey as for the purpose of softening these
difficulties and allaying these disorders, and of preparing the
armies to disband in peace. The Houses scarcely required
this proof that the motive was a treacherous one, and that,
foiled in his attempt to bring up the English soldiers to
LomTon, he wished to join them on their own ground, and put
himself at their head. The object of going northward was to
further a double intrigue, with the English officers, and with
the Scottish Covenanters. It is also probable that he was not
without hopes of finding evidence to set up the authenticity
of the letter which Saville had forged, and thus to establish
a case of treason against the Parliamentary leaders.

On the other hand, it appeared that the Scottish Commis-
sioners (having, as long as the Puritans of England could
assist them, pursued the objects so important to their own
country in conjunction with that party) were disposed to push
forward the interests of Scotland, separately from that general
cause in which they had met with such cordial assistance.
They lent themselves readily and eagerly to the project of the
King's journey, in order that they might in Edinburgh receive
his ratification of the terms for which they had stipulated by
treaty in London. Of this difference between the Parliamentary
' Grandees ' and their ' Brethren of Scotland/ Charles was not


slow to take note ; nor was the advantage small which he
promised himself in further separating their interests and
feelings by personal negotiation in the metropolis of the
North. There was a point beyond which it was not prudent
for the English leaders to urge their remonstrances, for fear of
irritating the Scots, and of perchance assisting by opposition
the disunion which the King was endeavouring to effect by
intrigue. The Commons took, therefore, a middle course ;
they addressed him, praying that he would defer his journey
for a fortnight, in order that the two armies on the frontier
might be paid off, and the road be left unoccupied by which
he and his train should pass. This address it was not easy
to find stateable reasons for declining to comply with. The
Earl of Holland was sent down with a commission to disband
the armies ; yet to avoid falling in with the English troops,
alFeady discontented with the irregularity of the supplies voted
for their pay, does not appear to have suited the King's main
design ; nor could he, in the end, be prevailed upon to delay
his departure beyond two days. The public display which he
made, passing on horseback with the Duke of llichmond, the
Marquis of Plamilton, Lord Willoughby, his heralds, and
a numerous retinue, in sight of the disbanding armies, and his
early endeavours (if Baiflie be to be believed) to engage the
Scots with the Cavaliers of the English army in the forcible
dissolution of the English Parliament, show that what was
urged by the Commons as a motive for delaying his journey
was, in truth, one of his main incentives to undertake and to
hasten it.* He lost no time in addressing himself to the
r j Covenanters. He raised Hamilton to the highest rank in the
I peerage of his country ; Argyle he made a Marquis ; and he
U created old Leslie, who had tor the greater part of his life been
' a ""soldier ofTortune, Earl of Leven; Loudon and Almond
were also made Earls ; "ancTon the Earl of Dunfermlme he
bestowed a large grant of crown lands, and a pension out of
the public revenue. Hamilton accepted the dukedom, but
retained his attachment to the Covenant ; and Leslie, in the
overflowing of a short-lived gratitude, protested that he never

* Ludlow, who does not appear to have ever been led by party feelings
into mis-stating such facts as he avers on his own knowledge, says that
Charles offered to surrender to the Scots four English counties in pledge
fur the performance of his terms with them if they would assist him in
this object.


again would bear arms against so good a King. But the
English Parliament would have been blind indeed not to see
the approaching confirmation of what they had apprehended
from Charles's obstinate adherence to the project of moving
northwards. He had, in the last days of his stay in London,
evaded giving any direct answer to them ; but, when pressed
on that point, had, like one importuned on a secret which
troubled him, changed the subject, and spoken on the Dutch
treaty, and the depredations of the pirates from Tangier and
Sallee. The Parliament was not of materials or of a temper
thus to be dealt with. If, indeed, the King had not had good
reason to know the suspicions of his Parliament, or the Parlia-
ment to know the designs of the King, either party might, in
these transactions, have easily been made the dupe of the
other. But both were playing an exceeding deep game ; and
each understood every move of the other as it was made.
The Scottish Presbyterians were troubled with no interest but
their own ; and both parties were bidding for their assistance.
One course alone remained to the Parliament, as a check upon
the objects which the King now so actively pursued. And
that course was adopted. It was to depute commissioners,
nominally to treat with the Scots concerning the ratification of
the Treaty, and to obtain security for the debt due from them
to the northern counties of England, but really to thwart the
King^s negotiations with the Covenanters, and to report upon
them to the Parliament. Eorthis Committee, openly appointed
by voteTot both Houses, and openly proceeding to where the
King held his Court, Lord Clarendon can find no less violent
name than that of spies ; which designation is eagerly adopted
by Mr. Hume. In order that the jealousy of the Parliament
and the true purpose of this Committee might be no secret to
the King, the Commissioners named to attend him were, for
the Lords, the Earl of Bedford, and Lord Howard of Escrickc;
and, for the Commons, Hampden and Fiennes ; and afterwards
were added Sir Philip Stapleton and Sir "William Armync.

They presented^ themselves to the King at Holyrooa ; and,
with whatever distaste Charles was likely to view the presence
and conduct of a Parliamentary Committee appointed for these
acknowledged purposes, his communications with the members
of it were conducted with all show of graciousness on his side,
and of duty and respect on theirs. Hampden and Fiennes
were the active and responsible chiefs of that Committee,


the soul of its counsels, and tlie conductors of its correspond-
ence with the Parliament. The latter of these two, on account
of the rising importance which his abilities and his powerful
connexions had given him ; the former on account of his
boldness, temper^ discretion, and wisdom ; of his, beipg tTieT
man of 'the most absolute spirit of popularity ' iiiboth
kingdoms; and because,, moreover, lie had, of all men of that
party, been in the most constant communication with the
Scots, and was best acquainted with the means of keeping
them in awe of their former engagements and of their future
interests with the English Parliament. Nor was it long before
the duties of that commission were called into activity. The
leaders of the Scottish Presbyterians, as we have seen, and
several also of their principal preachers, were taken into high
favour and close counsel by the King. Henderson was always
at his side, and had a grant of the rents ~ol the Ohapel Royal.
He lived at his palace, advising with him in his closet, and
ministering to his popularity with the multitude by accom-
. panying him on every occasion of representation and display.
I Charles publicly accepted, and swore to, the terms of the
I Covenant ; and one of the earliest acts of the Scottish Parlia-
menf which received the royal assent was the act of pacification,
declaring that the commotions had arisen from the innovations
in religion, and corruption of church government.* Argyle,
Hamilton, and Lanerick his brother, were at first to be used
for the purpose of bringing over the affections of the powerful
families of Scotland. But Charles had always failed in this
important object of his Scottish policy. A body of nobility
so divided by old feudal recollections as that of Scotland, and
so distrustful of Hamilton in consequence of his having openly
sided with the King in his late wars on the southern frontier
of that country, was not to be bound to the King's interests

I through his means. Above all, Argyle and Hamilton had been
ever the marked and personal foes of Montrose. And he was
(one whose restless spirit was never stayed by any considerations
from pursuing by any means of violence or fraud the destruc-
tion of any man who thwarted his objects of intrigue, or
obstructed the views of his high-reaching ambition. Montrose,
of whom Clarendon, forgetful of the crimes which he imputes
to him in the early part of his history, says, in the latter part

* Rush worth.

To 1642. J HIS PARTY AND HIS TIM!:*. 207

of it, that ' lie was not without vanity, but his virtues were
' much superiour/ had been thrown into confinement by the
Parliament of Scotland for a complication of proved offences
of the highest sort. He had, the year before, engaged himself
in a plot to betray the Covenanters' army with whom he was
serving, because he had failed in an attempt to procure the
chief command ; and prudential motives alone prevented the
Scots from publicly arraigning him for the act.* But all the
circumstances of his treachery were known to the Committee
of Estates, their knowledge of it communicated to him,
and his conduct from thenceforth closely watched. And it
was not long before his restless spirit threw him upon another
design, of which he was openly convicted. He had incited
one Stewart to accuse Argyle, Hamilton, and Eothes, of a
treasonable intent to depose Charles. On the proceedings,
Stewart, ill-qualified to be the agent of so bold an intriguer as
Montrose, confessed his crime. Nothing then remained for
Montrose but to denounce Stewart as having been suborned
by Argyle to forge this confession; and thus, embroiling the
charge, he left his wretched accomplice in the dilemma of a
capital accusation of leasing-making against one, at least, of
the nobles, and to be consequently put to an ignominious
death. t

But the turbulent genius of Montrose was not subdued by
the failure of this enterprise ; he well knew how to feed the
suspicious temper of Charles, and, even from prison, secretly
corresponded with him, through the means of a page of the
Bed Chamber. J He indulged him with assurances of being
able to furnish proof against the Hamiltons and Argyle; but,
as Clarendon assures us, advised the simpler mode of dis-
posing of them by assassination,, which, says the noble writer,
he r tranTcTy undertook himself to manage/ ' The King/ says
Clarendon, 'abhorred that expedient, though, for his own
' security, he advised that proofs might be prepared for the
'Parliament/ Yet still had not he the virtue or courage to
free himself from the agency of so unprincipled an adviser.

* Burnet's Hist. Own Times. Xalson. Clarendon, Hist. Reb. Hard-
Tvicke's State Papers. Sidney Papers.

t Brodie. Baillie's and Woodrow's MS. Letters in the Advocates'
Library, as quoted by Brodie. Baillie's published Letters. Gutlaie's
Memoirs. Appendix to Scottish Acts for 1641.

J Hailes's Letters. Laiug's History.


But Montrose established a stronger hold over the passions of
Charles ; he flattered him with the assurance of full evidence
to convict the leaders of the English Parliament of treasonable
correspondence with the Scottish army.

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 27 of 45)