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

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struck with alarm, and many, says Clarendon, worn out with


fatigue, had retired from the House.* At length, the reso-
lutions were carried, after two divisions, by a majority of only
159 to 148, and of 124 to 101. And now a desperate stand
Was attempted to "be made by Hyde. It was to the effect of
a protest, to be entered by the minority against the decision of
the House. The conflict of passions and voices was tremendous,
and bloodshed, says Sir Philip ^yarwick. would probably have
ensued ; ' we had catched at each others locks, and sheathed our
' swords in each other's bowels, had not the sagacity and great
' calmness of Mr. Hampden, by a" ShOTt'sp 1 e^Ull, pfeVelitetTit,
' and lecfus to defer our angry debate until the next morning/
He rose amidst the uproar, and, with that commanding in-
fluence, which, though rarely exerted, he possessed above all
men in the House, he subdued for a moment the rage of the
contending parties, sufficiently to gain their consent to an
adjournment ; by wlu'ch, at once, he saved them from a less
appeasable conflict, and effectually baffled Hyde's project,
which could only have succeeded by some compromise, forced
on in the confusion, for striking the former proceedings from
the journals. Cromwell declared next day to Lord Falkland,
that, hadthe Remonstrance not been carried, *' lie would
f instan tlyTTave sold all that he had, and gone to America;
' and "that lie knew there were many other hoiii'st men of the
' same resolution/f The opposition, thus vanquished, was
not renewed, and the Remonstrance passed peaceably through
its next arid final stage.

Thus far, however, since the King's breach with the City,
some of these events over which he had no control had, in-

( directly, worked benefit to his cause. The Grand Remon-
strance had given a motive to some, and a pretext to others,
who heretofore had opposed him, for now devoting themselves
entirely to his interests. T^to had thrown off all disguise
with the Country Party, and Colep.eper. though occasionally
serving with them in committees, in cases of privilege, and even

* Clarendon and Dugdale endeavour to show, that so many of the old
members had left the House, that the votes were passed by a packed
committee. Mr. Brodie very properly observes, that this falling oft' in the
members of the House, towards the end of the debate, would affect both
parties. But the proportionate numbers of the two divisions upon the
remonstrance, and of the third, on Hyde's motion, show that the com-
parative strength of the minority bad not decreased. See Sir Philip
Warwick's account of the same transaction. See also Appendix tcTEvelya.
- t Clarendon Hist. Reb. ' -

/ , / /. i a

ryJi(rw*C44 w* -7 ^ Mfrct/lvi^


on the defence of the kingdom and the levying of soldiers, was
now acknowledged by all as one of the selected council of the
King. Falkland was shaken by late events, and, looking
forward with cfismay, wavered in his course ; yet his venera-
tion for Parliaments and their privileges, and his strong and
jealous love of liberty, still attached him to the persons, and
made him reluctant to quit the party, with which he had so
long and cordially served. Sir Kalph Hop ton was still as
eager as ever in support of the strongest votes againsfthe
CoufF: TFaTTaTkTand had not yet, nor fill after the affair of
thlTTive members, quitted the country party is clear, from
reference to the journals ; and to suppose that his association
with them, during the short time which passed between the
Remonstrance and that event, was insidious or insincere, 'in
tanto viro/ to use the words of his friend, 'in tanto viro
injuria virtutum fuerit/

But the time unquestionably was now come at which the
most honourable and constant spirit might fairly justify itself
in a direct and open change of politics. It was not that the
terms of the Grand Remonstrance had put forth any new
doctrines, or made any ne\v claim for the Commons ; but it
was clearly intended as a public justification of claims already
made, and which had now daily become more frequent and i
decisive. And many an honest and high mind, which had
acquiesced in the necessity of some of the earlier assumptions I
of power by the Parliament, thought that the Jtime had arrived '
at which, at length, to make a stand for Monarchy.

Besides the advantage which Charles derived from the late
adhesion of so many honourable men to his interests, and from
the example which it held forth to others, his 'own published
answer to the Remonstrance was calculated to strengthen it. (
Hyde drew up this answer for his master, with an ability j
worthy of that pen which has since commended to posterity the i
recital of his troubles and his fate. Charles's impatience, how-
ever, would never long suffer favourable events or good counsel
to work for his advantage; but would always embroil his
case, at the very moment when the greatest circumspection .
was wanted to improve it. The attempt to seize the five I
numbers was the decisive act of "Mis rashness and pern' cfyT^ |
perfidious, because, on the very day before, he had rernon-
strated with the House on its renewed demand for a guard of
soldiers, and had assured its members, ' on the word of a king/


that he should be as tender of their persons as of those of his
children ; * decisive, as rendering it no longer possible, from
that fatal day, for the House to set up for itself any security
but that of absolute force. Votes and resolutions, which are
the lawful weapons of a Parliament while the Constitution
stands, are powerless when it is suspended. The 'power
' of the purse' is popularly sftid to be the security of Parlia-
ments against sovereigns ; but against a tyrant, with the power
of the sword in his hands, it is none. It would be as reason-
able for the unarmed man to console himself with his fancied
power of the purse, in presence of the spoiler who has that of
the sword.

On the 4th of January this frantic enterprise was under-
taken; AVllUlllBl 1 yulelj uf OllRfles's own motion, or whether
under the advice of Digby, against whom the House had, a
few days before, complained to the Lords on account of his
declaration ' that this was no free Parliament/ or whether at
the instance of the Queen, who is said to have bidTiim ' pull
' those rogues out by the ears, or never see her face again, is
unnecessary heTB LO inquire. TK6 fcollnd&rjr which separates
the empire of absolute violence from that of law and privilege
was now passed ; and, as if to make the act more signal, and
to deprive himself of all hope of retreat or shelter under the
responsibility of others, Charles did it in person. From that
hour, all reserve and scrupleTon the other side was at an end,
except so far as related to the still disclaiming all violence to
his person or to his 'lawful power/

Charles, relying on the information, more or less authentic,
which he had received in Scotland, respecting the English
leaders, and assuming as proveable, what does not appear ever
to have existed, some correspondence between them and
Richelieu, on the 3rd sent down his Attorney-General, Sir
Edward Herbert^ to the bar, of the House of Lords, to accuse
in Tils name the Lord Kimbolton, and live gentlemen of the
House of Commons, of high treason,, desiring that a Secret
Committee might examine witnesses, and that the accused per-
sons should be placed in custody. The Lord Kimbolton, who
was in his place, with strong professions of his innocence,
submitted himself to whatever order the House should make,
but prayed that he might be cleared as publicly as he had

* Rush worth.


been charged.* A Committee being immediately appointed
to examine precedents as to the regularity of proceedings,
and the Commons being informed of the accusation against
its members, the Lords adjourned till the following day, no
man moving for the commitment of Kimbolton on the King's
behalf. t The Commons, meanwhile, having received infor-
formation that the lodgings and trunks of Mr. Strode,
Hazelri gge, Pym, Hampden and Holies, had in their absence
been sealed up bv the ICing's command, ordered, by resolu-
tion, that the Serjeant-af-Aiins attending the House should
break the seals, and that the Speaker's warrant should be
issued for the apprehension of the persons who had affixed
them. The House further declared, in conformity with the
unanimous protestation which they had signed four months
before, that any hindrance or molestation to the persons of
any of their members, until the House should have been first
made acquainted with the grounds of such proceedings, was a
high bicach of privilege, and might be resisted by force. The
House then desired an immediate conference with the Lords :
but, before the Lords' answer came down, a serjeant-at-arms
appeared at the table, and required the person> of the five-
members. The Commons unanimously stood upon their privi-
lege, and, desiring the serjeant to retire, sent a message
by a Committee of their own body, that they should take the
prerB1sTs~"tnto~ttierF^mou"c^ and that the mem-

bers should be ready to answer any legal charge. The Lords,
next day, took a similar course. The Commons, however,
instantly went into committee; and Strode and Holies spoke,
repelling the charge of treason, deiHallflirrg tnal~and pro-
fessing their willingness to submit themselves and their case,
without any further preparation, to any legal process of inqui-
sition and judgment.^

On the 4th, the accused members attending according to
order in Oieir places, Lord Falkland, in the name of the
Committee who had taken the message to the King, stated for
answer that he was desired to inform ihe House that the
serjeant had done nothing but what he had it in command to
do. Upon this Hampden arose, and, on grounds distinctly

* See his published speech, King's Collection, Brit. Mus.
+ Rushworth, Whitelocke, Clarendon, Hist. Rob.

J Rushworth, Commons' Journals, Jan. 3. Somers's Tracts. Published
Speeches , Brit. Mus.


and powerfully stated, laid down the tests by which he desired,
with respect to the matter of accusation, that his conduct
might be tried. He entered not on the particulars of the
charges ; for the evidence to support them had not yet been
opened to the House; but, as was necessary when the terms
loyalty, obedience, and resistance, had been so loosely employed,
he particularised upon these several duties as constituting the
difference between a good and a bad subject. He divided them
under the heads of ' Religion towards God, loyalty and due
' submission to the lawful commands of the Sovereign, and
' good affection towards the safety and just rights of the
' people, according to the ancient and fundamental laws of the
' realm/ Concerning religion, he claimed the right of deter-
mining, by searching the sacred writings, in which ' are con-
' tained all things necessary to salvation '/ he contrasted this
law with the doctrine and discipline of the Church of Home,
and averred that 'all other sects and schisms that lean not
' only on the Scriptures, though never so contrary to the
' Church of Rome, are a false worshipping of God, and not
' the true religion/ He then proceeded to define the limits
and extent of ' lawful obedience ' to the Sovereign, ' acting
' with the free consent of his great council of state, assembled
' in Parliament. For the first, to deny a willing and dutiful
' obedience to a lawful sovereign and his privy council, (for, as
' Camden truly saith, the commands of the Lords Privy Coun-
' sellors, and the edict of the prince is one, they are inseparable,
' the one never without the other,) to deny to defend his royal
' person and kingdoms against the enemies of the same, either
' public or private, or to deny to defend the ancient privileges
' and prerogatives of the King, as pertinent and belonging of
' right to his royal Crown, and the maintenance of his honour
' and dignity, or to deny to defend and maintain true religion
' in the land, according to the truth of God, is one sign of an
' evil subject. Secondly, to yield obedience to the commands
' of a King, if against the true religion, and the ancient and
' fundamental laws of the land, is another sign of an ill
' subject. Thirdly, to resist the lawful power of the King, to
v ise insurrection against the King, admit him averse in his
religion, to conspire or in any way to rebel against his sacred
' person, though commanding things against our consciences
' in exercising religion, or against the rights and privileges of
' the subject, is an absolute sign of a disaffected and trayterous


' subject/ Of the means to know the difference between a good
subject and a bad, ' by their obedience to the laws, statutes,
' and ordinances made by the King, with the whole consent of
' his Parliament/ he spoke thus : ' First, I conceive, if any
' particular Member of a Parliament, although his judgment and
' vote be contrary, do not willingly submit to the rest, he is an |
' ill subject to his king and country ; and, secondly, to resist
' the ordinance of the whole state of the kingdom, either by
' the stirring up a dislike in the hearts of his Majesty's
' subjects of the proceedings of the Parliament, to endeavour,
' by levying arms, to compel the King and Parliament to make
' such laws as seem best to them, to deny the power, authority,
' and privileges, of Parliament, to cast aspersions upon the
' same and its proceedings, thereby inducing the King to think
' ill of the same, and to be incensed against the same, to
' procure the untimely breaking up and dissolution of a Parlia-
' ment, before all things be settled by the same, for the safety
( and tranquillity both of King and state, these are apparent
' signs of a treacherous and disloyal subject against his King
' and country. I humbly desire my actions may be compared
' with either ; and both as a subject, a Protestant, as a native
' of this my country, and as I am a Member of this present
' and happy Parliament, that I be esteemed, as I shall be found
' guilty upon these articles exhibited against myself and the
' other gentlemen, to be a bad or a good subject to my sove-
' reign and native country : and to receive such sentence upon
' the same as by this honourable House shall be conceived to
' agree with law and justice/ *

Hazelfigge followed, approaching the specific charges in the
articles rainer nearer than Hampden had done. He took the
phrase, ' to subvert the fundamental laws/ under which head
he classed privilege of Parliament. Treason could consist
only of words or acts. His speeches in that House were in
their recollection, and, in his votes, he had generally concurred
with the majority. His acts, and those of the gentlemen with
him, particularly with reference to Scotland, had been in
accordance with votes and resolutions of that House ; and the
levying of war, and promoting of tumults and seditions,
could only refer to their concurrence with the rest of the
House in the ordinance for troops in Ireland to stay the

* A learned and discreet Speech of Master John Hampden, &c. c. &c.
London, 1642.


progress of the rebellion, or to the raising of the militia, and
placing the city guard of Westminster before the doors of the
House, to suppress the tumults of the people, and to protect
the House from a military force unlawfully menacing the
freedom of its debates. Hazelrigge's speech was not destitute
of ingenuity or force ; but, as men generally do who defend
themselves by anticipation, he fell into the error of imputing
some motives for the accusation which could not have had any
place in the minds of the accusing party. The supposition
that Charles undertook the prosecution of the five members
for the purpose of stopping the further proceedings of the bill
against episcopacy, cannot be true. That bill had only very
lately been resumed by a portion of the Country Party, and
had not yet recovered the check which, through the successful
artifice of Hyde, it had received during the preceding session.*
It was a matter more likely to divide than strengthen the
power of the Country Party. And, above all, if it hud been
Charles's object, by impeachment, to remove from the House
the principal promoters of that bill, he would not have
included in that impeachment two, who, by their position,
I were the most important opposers of it, Pym and Holies.
The single and simple object of Charles was to at once destroy
six of the most active and popular opponents of his Govern-
ment. What evidence he may have supposed himself to be
possessed of for this purpose has never appeared. By his
rashness he put it beyond his own power to proceed further
with it ; and, if there were any documents in his possession
on which he could have proceeded, these he kept out of sight,
in order to keep out of sight also all means of detecting the
source from which he derived them. Unless, by the valuable
and indefatigable labours of Mr. Lemen, in arranging the
stores of the State Paper Office, some evidence, now unknown,
should arise, it will in all probability remain for ever an
unsolved question, upon what testimony Charles was ur^vd to
this" ill-fated and disastrous enterprise. The evening before
had been passed by him in active preparations. Arms were
moved from the Tower to Whitehall, and a band of rash young
men were assembled, for whom a table was prepared at the
palace, and who, the next morning, from the violent expres-

* See Clarendon's account (Hist. Reb.) of his own conduct in the Chair
of the Committee on the Bill against Episcopacy, whereby for a time it
was defeated.


sions which they used against the Houses, seemed prepared
for any deed of desperate viol once.

Scarcely had the House reassembled, after the dinner hour's
adjournment, for the renewal of the debate, when intelligence
was brought by a Captain Langrish, who had passed the party
in their way down the street, that the King, escorted by a
guard of some hundreds of officers, soldiers, and other armed
attendants, was advancing upon "Westminster Hall. Private
information had been received of this design by Lord Holland
from Lady Carlisle, who was in the Queen's hous'ehold ; and
by MnTtTw'as communicated to Pym. To avoid the bloodshed
which must probably 'Have eTisuecC if the House, which had so
lately pledged itself to its privileges, had been forced to defend
them against armed men with the King in person at their
head, the five members were ordered towithdraw, which, after
some expostulaHoiiand resistance frpjn Jjtjrocle, they did.TIie
King, meanwhile, entered JMew .Palace Yard, and, proceeding
through Westminster Hall, where his attendants ranged them-
selves on both sides, he ascended the stairs, and knocked at
the door of the House of Commons.* Entering, with his
nephew, Charles, the Prince Palatine of the RmnOi^aFhis
side^ Tie glanced his eye towards the place where {Pym) was
wont to~ sit, and then walk eJ directly to the chair. The
SpeakeTpRTbugh commanded by the House to sit still with
the mace before him, rose, with the rest of the members, at
the King's approach, and, leaving the steps of the chair to
which the King ascended, flung himself on his knee before
him. In vain did the King look round for the objects of his
search. The members stood, with their heads uncovered, in
stem respectful silence, while the King addressed the Speaker,
Lenthall, in words which are well known as being the cause
ofTnTs memorable reply : ' May it please your Majesty, I
' have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak, in this place,
' but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant 1 am
' here ; and I humbly beg your Majesty's pardon that I cannot
' give any other answer than this to what your Majesty is
' pleased to demand of me.' J

* Rushworth. Warwick. Whitelocke. Clarendon Hist. Rebellion.

" t Prince Rupert, whom some historians mistakenly represent to have
accompanied him, did not arrive in England till two months afterwards.

J Rushworth. Whitelocke. Clarendon Hist. Rebellion. Hatsell's



The King's speech, in answer, sufficiently shows how little,
before he entered on this strange proceeding, he had foreseen
the chance of any part of his plan failing him. All the diffi-
culties of his position now at once rushed to his mind. He
saw no means of honourable or dignified retreat. He looked
around from the chair, and he saw all eyes bent upon him ;
every countenance expressive of amazement at his rashness,
but all men determined to act the great part he had imposed
upon them, as became their position, their engagements, and
their duties. He looked down, and he saw the Speaker, in
the posture which denoted an awful sense of what was
demanded of him by the presence before which he knelt, but
to which he would not surrender the trust with which the
Commons had invested him. At the table sat Rushworth
taking down the words \vhich alone broke that portentous
silence, and which, on the morrow, must sound in every ear in
the metropolis, to spread alarm through the Empire, and to
be delivered down to all posterity with the story of that day.
The King's reply was weak and confused, and it bore not on
the question. ' There is no privilege in cases of treason/ . . .
' I intend nothing but to proceed against them in a fair and
' legal way/ * The breach of privilege was his entering the
House ; the breach of law was his endeavouring to execute a
committal for treason without examination and without warrant.
' I tell you I do expect that, as soon as they come to the
' House, you will send them to me, otherwise I must take my
' own course to find them/ He must have known that the
House could not, after the unanimous declaration for the
defence of its privileges, suffer its members to be surrendered
i at this illegal bidding : and thus he retired, amid loud and
1 repeated cries of ' Privilege, privilege ! ' The House instantly
I adjourned.

On the following day, a resolution was passed, expressing

the sense of the House concerning the violence which had

| been committed. A Committee of Privileges was voted to sit

I in the City, and to confer with the Lords. To the City the

King repaired before the Committee had assembled. He went

there for the double purpose of requiring from the Common

Council their assistance in apprehending the five members,

and of ascertaining how far he might, by his presence, secure

* See Commons' Journals, Jan. 4.


the support of the magistrates and of the people. The spirit,
however, which had shown itself in the House of Commons,
had been already eagerly seconded by the citizens of London.
The cries of ' Privilege ! ' which he had left sounding from so
many voices in the House of Commons, met and pursued him
in his progress through the streets ; and a letter of fearful
purport was thrown into his carriage as he passed along, con-
taining the words of the Ten Tribes of Judah when they forsook
the weak and tyrannical R/ehoboarn, ' To your tenjs. O
Israel ! ' In the Guildhall his speech was received witnoTJl
one responsive cheer; and, though he w r as that day nobly
feasted, and, though he returned unimpeded and uninsulted
io Whitehall, he clearly saw that, except within the walls of
his own palace, and among his devoted courtiers and the
dissolute levies which had followed him the day before, it
was vain to look in his metropolis for support against the

The five accused members meanwhile were received into a
house in Coleman Street, from which place of refuge, not-
withstanding a proclamation issued to apprehend them and to
forbid the harbouring of them, the King was unable to dislodge
them. From thence they maintained an uninterrupted com-
munication with the Committee of Privileges, which, after its
first meeting, sat, day by day, alternately, in the Grocers',
Goldsmiths' and Merchant -Tailors', Halls. To make a power- r
ful appeal to the citizens upon Parliamentary privilege invaded, ;=
and public liberty menaced, to prepare and confirm them for \
the times that were at hand, and to ensure their protection to J
the secluded members, was the first work of this Committee. (
This was managed principally by Serjeants Glyn and Maynard.
The next few days were spent iri^pfepaTiiig'to resufheTlie

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 29 of 45)