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Memoirs of John Selden : and notices of the political contest during his time online

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Harleian MSS. Rushworth.



14 MEMOIRS OF

advantage. Two general duties are comprehended in the
kingly office, the one looking to the conservation of the
whole, the other at the disposition of the parts : this
reflecting on the heiie esse and well-heing, the other on
the being and subsistence. For without a provision in
general, moving like the spirit upon the waters, there
would be nothing but darkness and confusion."

"To promote that national unity, that pure diapason
and consent, and in that strength to encounter all oppo-
sition to the contrary for the public utility and good,
because no single ability is sufficient, helps and advantages
are provided. Laws and constitutions are enacted, which
are a level and direction ; and a council is ordained to be
aiding and assisting, as Minerva unto Jupiter."

There is space but for one more quotation, and it is
worthy of him over whose character I linger with a
fondness that makes the last relative word partake of the
pain that accompanies a farewell to those of one's own
household. " Happiness," says this practised son of mis-
fortune, " is not in outward fortune, or condition ; to be
happy depends not on greatness, honour, riches, or the
like ; but in any state or quality that elixir may be
found, — from the most simple being of mankind, this
quintessence may be drawn. It is a clear and firm habit
and position of the mind ; by knowledge rectifying all
the actions and affections to the rule and conformity of
reason. If, as Plutarch says, thou hast but learned the
knowledge of this good, thou experiencest what an excel-



JOHN SELDEN. 15

lence it is, whatever be tliy fortune, whatever thy condi-
tion, whatever state or quality thou sustainest ; though
thou be poor, neglected, in disgrace, recluse, and
sequested from society, yet thy imprisonment shall be
sweet, thou shalt be honourable in disgrace, rich in the
greatest poverty, respected in neglect, and God shall love
and favour thee ; thou shalt esteem that life w^hicli is in
private and leisure, not less pleasant than any dignity or
empire : as it is private, it is so much more thine own,
and thou more master of thyself." In so regulating the
mind, and combating the passions, which he considers
in detail, he observes, we are sustained by religion,
and, like the martyrs, enabled to view death as another
way to happiness — "that eternal happiness and felicity,
which is the chief object of all hopes ; namely, that su-
pernatural felicity to come — that transcendent happness
hereafter, that is to be looked for in the New Jerusalem."
Dexzil Hollis, Baron of Isfield, in Sussex, was born
in 1597. He was the bed-fellow and companion of Charles
the First, when they were in their boyhood ; but though he
always regarded the king, and was in tvirn beloved by that
monarch, yet the higher claims of his country made him
firm in opposing his public policy. He was a leader of
the moderate Presbyterian party, and Clarendon says
that they viewed him with reverence. He was by turns
persecuted by the royalists and by Cromwell, for he with
equal firmness opposed them both in their illegal out-
stretches of power. In a future page we shall see that



16 .MEMOIRS OF

the king came witli arms to drag him from the House of
Commons, and subsequently the creatures of Cromwell
impeached him of high treason, and forced him into exile.
He promoted the restoration of Charles the Second,
but still firm to his first principles, he opposed with an
integrity that was uninfluenced by court honours, every
measure that he deemed an encroachment upon the
liberties of his countrymen. He died in 1690.

The courage and impartial bearing of Mr. Hollis is
x^ouched by two characteristic anecdotes. The republican
Ireton having during a debate insulted him in the House
of Commons, was challenged by him, but Ireton refusing
to fight a duel, on a plea of its being contrary to his
conscience, Hollis pulled his nose, telling him that " if
his conscience kept him from giving men satisfaction, it
should keep him from provoking them." And at another
time being under the King's safe conduct at an inn in
Oxford, some of the royalist officers cudgelled his servants,
and rated both them and their master as rogues, rebels,
and traitors ; upon hearing which Mr. Hollis not only
collared and chastised the most burly of the assailant
cavaliers, but took from him his sword *.

The principles of this patriot are thus told by himself,
in the work he wrote during his exile. He says his
party " resolved to put their lives into their hands, and

* Clarendon's Hist, of Rebellion, iii. 44, fol. ed. Whitelocke's
Memorials, 108. See more of this nobleman in Collins's Historical
Collections of the House of Hollis, &c.



JOHN SELDEN. 17

offer them a sacrifice to the welfare of their prince and
country. I say prince as well as country, for they looked
upon him as the sovereign whom nature, duty, the com-
mand of God, and the laws of men obliged them to
reverence, and to love as the head of the people ; whose
greatness consisted in his people's, and his people's in
his ; and therefore neither could be great, nor happy,
without the other, which made those faithful ones put
them both in the same balance, and rather adventure his
displeasure by promoting the public cause, than (as they
thought) his ruin by deserting it*."

Sir John Maynard was a native of Devonshire,
being born at Tavistock in 1602. He was successively
a student of Exeter Hall, Oxford, and of the Middle
Temple. He first came into parliament in 1640.

He opposed the illegal measures of the king, but he
was as stern an opponent of the errors of the parliament
and of Cromwell. Although a manager of the prose-
cutions against Strafford and Laud, he was, by particular
desire, appointed with Mr. Whitelocke to a consultation
with the Scotch commissioners, as to the best mode of
removing Cromwell as a fomenter of disputes between
the two nations ; and then we find him, with Mr. Serjeant
Glynn, a prisoner in the Tower, for opposing the violence
of the parliamentarian army. Upon his release he was
still the opponent of illegality by whoever practised, for

* Memoirs of Lord HoUis, 5.
C



18 MEMOIRS OF

he not only told the House that they dissolved themselves
when they voted against any further addresses to the king ;
hut, when he was excluded by their especial vote from
his seat, he boldly risked the consequences of infringing
that vote, and, presenting himself upon the floor of the
House, poured forth such an eloquent and forcible per-
suasive against the execution of the king, that Cromwell
thought the safest way to silence him was to bring him
to its bar. Cromwell made him a serjeant, but he sent
him to the Tower when he found that no favour would
mitigate his opposition to his illegal measures. Charles
the Second duly estimated his integrity, and not only
confirmed him in the dignity of a serjeant, and conferred
upon him a knighthood, but would have made him a
judge, if he could have afforded to sacrifice the superior
emoluments of his professional practice. In 1647,
Whitelocke relates, that he is said to have realised seven
hundred pounds on one circuit, which was esteemed a
larger sum than had ever been taken before by a pleader
upon such an occasion. He assisted in bringing about
the revolution of 1688; and when nearly eighty-seven
possessed his mental powers in undiminished vigour.
Burnet* says, that William the Third once remarked to
Sir John, that he had outlived all his contemporary
lawyers, to which he replied, that, if his majesty had not
come over, he might have also outlived the law. So

* Hist, of his Times, i. 803.



JOHN SELDEN. 19'

undisabled was his mind, that in 1689 he was made one
of the lords commissioners of the great seal. He died in
October 1690*

Clarendon gives him due praise for integrity of pur-
pose ; and even the prejudiced Warlmrton in modern times
observes of him, that he went through all periods at the
same steady pace and with the same adherence to his
party, adhering to presbytery for the sake of civil liberty,
rather than to civil liberty for the sake of presbytery f.

Mb. Bulstrode Whitelocke was the son of a judge
of the same name, and was born in 1605, in the house of
Sir George Crooke, in London, who was his mother's
uncle. He was successively at Merchant Tailors' School,
and a commoner of St. John's College, Oxford. His studies
subsequently at the Middle Temple were superintended
by his father. In his public career he was invariably
opposed to extreme measures; and though he accepted
office and acted both in the senate and camp with the
opponents of Charles, yet he was always in favour of his
restoration, and that of his descendants to the powers of
a limited monarchy. He opposed the assumption of the
crown by Cromwell, and endured in consequence an
embassage, but really a banishment to the court of
Sweden. Charles viewed him as really friendly to the

* There is a portrait of him in Lyson's Environs, ii. 235. See
further of him in Athense Oxoniensis, and Noble's Memoirs of the
House of Cromwell.

t Warburton's Letters, 154, 4to.

c 2



20 MEMOIRS OF

cause of monarchy; and though he unquestionably
occasionally erred by supporting men who were repub-
licans, he as undoubtedly did so with the impression that
it was to save the country from a worse despotism.
Clarendon speaks of him as a man of great learning in his
profession and general knowledge, and that he opposed
the king without malice or rancour ; that he was carried
away by the tide which he would have directed, and when
he failed, did so from infirmity, and not intentionally *.

He died at Chilton House, and was buried at Fawley in
Buckinghamshire in 1675 t.

John Pyini was born in Bedfordshire, in 1584. His
family ranked with the gentry of that county. Of his
early life little more is known than that he was a student
of Pembroke College, Oxford ; that thence he proceeded
to one of the inns of court, and was admitted to the
degree of a barrister. Shrewd, decisive, and persevering,
he attracted the notice of the Earl of Bedford, by whose
interest he obtained a responsible situation in the ex-
chequer, and w^as first introduced to parliament as the
representative of Tavistock. He does not appear at this
period to have been a very leading politician, " but was
rather noted for extreme humanity, affability, courtesy, and
cheerfulness of spirit in every condition," and as sharing a
happy home, and cultivating intellectual pleasures with

* Clarendon's Autobiog. i. 60, 8vo ed.

f Wood's Athenae Oxon. by Bliss, iii. 1046. For more particulars
of his life, see his own " Memorials," and Biograph. Britannica.



JOHN SELDEX. 21

his wife, who possessed " excellent accomplishments and
learning rare in her sex." These i)leasures, which are
part of the few that can be reviewed without regret,
were with him of short duration. His wife died in 1620,
and Pym then advanced into more public life. The
struggle against despotism had become more earnest, and
therefore putting his children under the care of trust-
worthy guardians, he devoted himself to the public good,
and it became *' his meat and drink, his work, his exercise,
his recreation, his pleasure, his ambition, his all."

Of the chief public transactions in which he was
engaged, notices will occur in future pages, and it
requires only to be observed here, that however he may
have occasionally erred, yet the testimony of the impartial
Rushworth, of his opponent Clarendon, and of his friend
Dr. Marshall, coincide in supporting the declaration he
drew up as the hour of death w^as approaching, in which
he fervently declares himself in favour of a limited
monarchy, and defends " the integrity of his intentions
to God, his king, and his country." This was confirmed
by his conduct in that hour when no man is a hypocrite
— on his death-bed he was heard to pray for the king and
his posterity, for the parliament, and the cause of the
people. He died at Derby-house on the 8th of December
1643*.

* Clarendon's Hist, of Rebellion, Franklin's Annals, Rushworth's
Collections, Whitelocke's Memorials, Echard's History, Dr. Mar-
shall's Funeral Sermon, and various contemporary memorialists, are



22 MEMOIRS OF

Sir Dudley Digges was the worthy son of a worthy
parent ; his father, Mr. Thomas Digges, being one of the
most learned and pious public characters of the reign of
Queen Elizabeth.

Sir Dudley was born in the year 1583 ; in 1598 he
entered as a gentleman commoner of University College,
Oxford ; took his degree of bachelor of arts in 1601 ;
and then, having studied for some time at one of the inns
of court, and received the order of knighthood, he pro-
ceeded on a lengthened continental tour. His first public
employment was as ambassador to the court of Russia in
1618 ; and two years svibsequently he went as a com-
missioner to Holland, to obtain a restitution for injuries
committed upon some of our countrymen in the East
Indies by the Dutch. He was a member of the parlia-
ment that met in January 1621, and having opposed the
illegal measures of the crown, was included by King
James among " the ill-tempered spirits," whom he resolved
to oppress. Together with Sir Thomas Crew, Sir Nathaniel
Rich, and Sir James Perrot and others, he was compelled
by a commission under the great seal, to proceed to
Ireland, to inquire into various ecclesiastical and civil
affairs connected with the king's interests. Sir Peter
Hayman was at the same time sent into the Palatinate
upon some errand that was similarly important in appear-
ance, but which in reality was also frivolous. Their

the sources from which the ahove and fuller information of Pym may
1)6 olitained.



JOHN SELDEN. 23

oifence appears particularly to have been an opposition to
the marriage of Prince Charles to the Spanish Infanta ;
and the employments were forced upon them in order to
inflict upon them the expense. Sir Peter Hayman was
sent a second time into the Palatinate, for refusing to
lend money to the king, and the privy council did not
attempt to conceal that such an illegal punishment was
inflicted upon him for not submitting to an illegal
demand. The following is a detail of the conference
between himself and the council in his own words. " I
have not forgotten my employment into the Palatinate.
I was called before the lords of the council, for what I
knew not, but I heard it was for not lending on a privy
seal. I told them to take my estate if they chose ; I
would give it up, but lend I would not. They charged
me with unwillingness to serve the king. I said I had
my life and my estate to serve my country and my
religion. They told me that if I did not pay I should be
put upon an employment of service. I declared my
willingness. After ten weeks waiting, they told me I
was to go with a lord into the Palatinate, and that I
should have employment there and means befitting.
I told them I was a subject and desired means. They
said I must go on my own purse. I told them no one
goes to war at his private cost. None were ever sent out
in that way. Lawyers told me I could not be so sent.
Having this assurance, I demanded means, and was



24 MEMOlllS OF

resolved not to stir but upon those terms ; and in silence
and duty I refused. Upon this, having given me a
command to go, after twelve days they told me they
would not send me as a soldier, but to attend as an
ambassador. I knew that stone would hit me, therefore I
settled my troubled estates, and addressed myself to the
service."

In 1626, Sir Dudley Digges was one of the eight
members of the House of Commons, who carried up the
impeachment to the peers against the Duke of Buck-
ingham. For their conduct on this occasion the govern-
ment committed him and Sir John Eliot to the Tower ;
his lodgings were also searched and his papers seized.

The House of Commons so highly resented this
imprisonment of their members, that they resolved " not
to proceed with any more public business until they were
righted in their privileges." This brought on an expla-
nation, and both the Lords and Commons agreeing that
Sir Dudley did not speak anything during the opening of
the impeachment, that did or might trench upon the
king's honour, or that exceeded his commission, he was
forthwith released.

The part of Sir Dudley's speech that had been mis-
represented to the king was that in which he spoke of
" an injury offered to the person of the late king (James),"
but which was easily understood when its context was
also quoted, which remarked upon the duke's having so



JOHN SELDEN. 25

acted, that his faults were undeservedly attributed to that
monarch.

Upon the subject to which the above quoted words
would bear an application, namely the reported unnatural
death of King James, the duke and the court were sensi-
tively alive. For although there is no evidence to affix to
Buckingham the crime of intentionally hurrying him out
of life, yet he was sufficiently indiscreet, and the death of
the king, in whose favour he was failing, for him was so
opportune, that many rumours intimating his criminality,
were circulated and extensively credited*.

* There was a curious tract published in 1642, entitled " Strange
Apparitions, &c." pretending to be a conversation between the Ghosts
of King James, the Duke of Buckingham, the Marquis of Hamilton,
and Dr. George Eglisham, the king's physician. In this the Duke is
openly charged with murdering the king, and that Dr. Eglisham had
accused him with the crime to King Charles and the parliament, but
was in consequence obliged to fly into Holland, and was there mur-
dered. He charged the Duke and his mother with giving the king a
white powder, and applying a plaister to his breast which caused his
death. Sir A. Weldon, in his " Court and Character of King James,"
says that the king, on his death-bed, declared that it was the plaister
and powder had injured him. Dr. Goodman, in his " Aulicus Coqui-
nariae," though he denies that the plaister was poisoned, mentions
nothing concerning the powder, and confesses that the physicians, Dr.
Lister, Dr. Chambers, and others, " were much offended that any one
durst assume such boldness without their consents," as to apply a
plaister, and immediately removed it. Dr. Ramsay is said to have
openly accused the Duke of poisoning the king, before a committee of
the House of Commons. — (^Sir E. Peyton's " Divine Catastrophe of
the House of Stuart.")

These were all contemporary and variously biassed authorities ; as
such they are none of them entitled to implicit confidence. Wilson, also



26 MEMOIRS OF

In the parliament assembled in 1628, Sir Dudley
Digges was one of the representatives of the county of
Kent. He continued to pursue a temperate line of
politics ; he seconded the motion for granting the supplies,
because, as he justly maintained, they were necessary to
support the king's honour, which is identified with that
of the nation ; but in bis conference with the lords,
relating to the petition of right, he firmly demonstrated
that he was, as he said, resolved to maintain the funda-
mental laws and liberties of the kingdom, which included
the just prerogative of the crown ; and when the king,
as will be detailed in a future jiart of this work, attempted
to restrain the freedom of debate, Sir Dudley indignantly
called upon the House to demonstrate their resentment :
" Let us," were his words, " let us arise and be gone, or
sit still and do nothing."

In 1630, Sir Dudley was granted the reversion of the
office of master of the rolls, then held by Sir Julius Caesar,
and upon his death, he proceeded with the official duties in
1636. There is no doubt that this was intended by the
government as a bribe to mitigate his ojiposition to their
measures. How it would have succeeded, we have no
means of judging, for he died in 1639, just previous to
the assembling of another parliament. The acceptance of
this office was no guarantee of apostacy, therefore we have

a contemporary, and more unprejudiced, did not know to which opinion
to incline, and after considerable research relating- to this event, I am
unable to satisfy my mind.



JOHN SELDEN. 27

110 right to conclude, that he would have acted incon-
sistently with that piety and integrity for which all
parties gave him credit *.

Sill Edwin Sandys deserves a particular notice, as
one of the earliest constitutional opponents of the court
measures, and as one of the first sufferers in the cause of
freedom.

He was the second son of Dr. Edwin Sandys, Arch-
bishop of York, and was born at Worcester about the
year 1561. He was admitted a scholar of Corpus Christi
College, Oxford, in 1577, under the tutorship of the
celebrated "judicious" Mr. Hooker, who afforded this
testimony of his judgment, that he consulted him upon
the details of his great work upon " Ecclesiastical Polity."
In 1579, he obtained a fellowship, and two years subse-
quently was collated to a prebendship of York, although
he was not of the clerical profession. Giving up his
fellowship, he proceeded on a very extended continental
tour, and upon his return, Wood says, " he grew famous
for his learning, prudence, and virtue."

In 1602, he resigned his prebendal stall, and in the
following year, having received a knighthood from King
James, was employed by that monarch in several affairs
of great trust and consequence. As a member of parlia-
ment, he conscientiously attended his duties, and Wood
says, that he was as constant in his attendance as the

* Wood's Athenae Oxon. and Fasti. Camden's Apparatus. Parlia-
ment. History. Kushworth. Whitelocke, &c.



28 MEMOIRS OF

speaker ; and was esteemed faithful to his country without
any falseness to his prince.

His imprisonment in 1621, and other particulars, will
be noticed in a succeeding chapter.

Subsequently, he became treasurer to the undertakers
for the western plantations.

He died in 1629, and was buried at Northbourn in
Kent. His seven sons, with one exception, were sup-
porters of the cause of the parliament. His second son,
Colonel Edwin Sandys, fell in a skirmish of cavalry near
Worcester.

Sir Edwin was the author of " Europae Speculum, or
a View or Survey of the State of Religion in the Western
Parts of the World." This he wrote at Paris in 1559.
It is an exposure of the errors and fallacies of the papal
religion. He bequeathed 1500/. to the University o^
Oxford, to establish a metaphysical lectureship *.

To these brief notices might be added another — of
Hampden, if it had not been done so fully of late by
Lord Nugent ; and of Sir Edward Coke, if his biography
were not in the hands of a near relative. Nor need these
be all, for the Earl of Bedford, Robert Phillips t, Miles

* Wood's Atbenfe Oxon, by Bliss, ii. 472.

f Sir Robert Phillips was one of three hundred and ninety-four
knights, dubbed by King James, on the 23rd of July, 1603. He was
several times the county representative and sheriff of Somersetshire,
between the years 1623 and 1627. He was the son of Sir Edward
Philips, of Montacute, in Somersetshire, who was Master of the Rolls
in 1608.— (Nichols' Progresses of James the First, i. 207 — 213.)



JOHN SELDEN. 29

Hobart*, Benjamin Rudyardf, Thomas Crew t, Nathaniel
Rich§, James Perrott, Walter Long, Benjamin Valen-
tine, Strafford in his early career, and many others,
might be included.

It was at the lodgings of Pym, in Gray's Inn Lane,
and at those of Selden, that the leaders of this party met
for the purpose of arranging and agreeing upon their
votes in the House of Commons. The extreme advocates
of change met similarly at the residences of Cromwell,
Haselrigge, and Oliver St. John.

Up to this period, the opponents of the court party in
parliament had carried on a desultory warfare ; but

* Sir Miles Hobart was a younger son of the Chief Justice, Sir
Henry Hobart. He was born at Plumsted in Kent, in 1595. He was
created a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Charles the First.
For the active part he took in the opposition to the court he was
thrown into prison in 1629, and died there, it is said, from the blows
inflicted by his gaoler, in 1631. — (Noble's Memoirs of the House of
Cromwell, ii. 128. Nichols' Progresses, iii. 888.)

f Sir Benjamin Rudyard was of West Woodhay, in Berkshire.
Though a consistent advocate of freedom, yet in 1642, thinking that
the king had made sufficient concessions, he strenuously supported the
proposition for a peaceful agreement, and warned the House of the


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Online LibraryGeorge William JohnsonMemoirs of John Selden : and notices of the political contest during his time → online text (page 2 of 23)