« السابقةمتابعة »
tory model, which would doubtless have gone a great way towards reconciling all classes of his majesty's subjects to so painful a burthen.
Whatever were the sins and offences of the usurping parliament towards its contemporaries, their baleful effects have long ceased; and after generations have had, and will have in all ages to come, reason to bless its memory, as having laid the foundations (albeit in blood and anarchy) of the freedom we now enjoy, and of the happy constitution under which we have risen to our present height of splendour, dominion, and virtue. For one of its acts, however, our execrations alone are due to its memory-that which, under the garb of sanctity and pure religion, destroyed or mutilated so many venerable monuments of the taste, munificence, and piety of our ancestors. "Oliver's soldiers" have universally acquired the credit of every mischief done, or supposed to have been done, under the sanction of this barbarous ordinance-and, if "Oliver's soldiers" had nothing else to do than to chip off the noses and break the arms and legs of any king, saint, and prophet, whom tradition asserts to have fallen under their sacrilegious mallets, they would have found ample employment. Time, (the Great Destroyer,) together with the inevitable accidents of so many centuries, is, doubtless, answerable for a very considerable portion of the sins so indiscriminately laid to their charge; and the Reformation may divide the remainder with the Long Parliament and Commonwealth; taking to itself, however, by far the largest share of the booty. Even for the ultimate residue, Old Noll and his myrmidons are probably answerable only to a very small extent; since the ordinance, under cover of which all these acts of tasteless fanaticism were committed, was passed at a very early period of the war, and long before Cromwell had rendered himself any way considerable. As it is that, the consequences of which affect us at this day more severely than those of any other act of the period, we make no scruple to insert it.
Anno 1643, cap. 17. " Monuments of Superstition or Idolatry to be demolished." The Lords and Commons in Parliament, taking into their serious considerations how well pleasing it is to God, and conduceable to the blessed reformation in his worship, so much desired by both houses of parliament, that all monuments of superstition or idolatry should be removed or demolished; do ordain, that in all, &c. churches and chapels; as well cathedral and collegiate as other, &c, All Altars and Tables of stone, shall (before Nov. 1, 1643) be utterly taken away and demolished; and also, all Communion Tables removed from the east end of every such church, chapel, &c. and chancel of the same, and placed in some other fit and convenient place of the body of the said church, chapel, &c. or of the chancel itself; And that all rails whatsoever, which have been erected near to, before, or about any
altar or communion table, shall before the said day be likewise taken away, and the chancel ground of every such church or chapel, &c. which hath been, within twenty years last passed, raised for any altar or communion table to stand upon, shall before the same day be laid down and levelled, as the same before the said twenty years last past; and that all tapers, candlesticks, and basons, shall, before the said day, be removed from the communion table in every church, &c. and neither the same, nor any such like, shall be used about the same, at any time after the said day: and that all crucifixes, crosses, images, and pictures of any one or more person or persons of the sanctity, or of the Virgin Mary, and all other images and pictures of saints, or superstitious inscriptions in or upon all and every the said churches, &c. churchyards, or other places to any the said churches, &c. belonging, or in any other open place, shall before the said 1st of November, be taken away and defaced, and none of the like hereafter permitted," &c.
The Ordinance then goes on to direct "who shall repair the places, and at whose charge," and to inflict penalties in case of default, &c., with a saving clause, "not to extend to any image, picture, or coat of arms in glass, stone, or otherwise, set up or graven only for a monument of any king, prince, or nobleman, or other dead person, which hath not been commonly reputed or taken for a saint"-(Quare, if, under this clause, the monument even of Old Noll himself would have been safe from sacrilege?)
Of all the public acts of this period, however, none were of so much general interest at the time, or at the present day will be found to possess so much historical importance, as those for carrying into effect the financial measures of parliament; and, when the nature of the struggle is considered, together with the violence of political animosity and personal hatred which it engendered, we shall find more reason to praise the moderation and equity of the provisions made, than to condemn the injustice and harshness which, no doubt, in very numerous instances attended the execution of them. These measures have been frequently the subject of indiscriminate censure by historians, who have not been at the pains to examine or comprehend them. This, at least, is so strongly our impression, that we imagine we may render no unacceptable service to the cause of truth, by presenting our readers with a brief analysis of them—and we flatter ourselves, that even the staunchest cavalier or malignant of the present generation, will feel an honest pride in the superiority resulting to the English character, from a fair comparison of these proceedings with the bloody proscriptions and undistinguishing forfeitures of the French revolutionists. In this examination we shall be aided by a small Collection, in quarto, of "All the several ordinances and orders made by the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, concerning sequestring the
estates of delinquents, papists, spies and intelligencers, together with instructions for such persons as are employed in sequestring of such delinquents' estates. Very useful to those whom it doth or may concern."-Published by order of the House of Commons, 1650-a compilation which contains all the acts relating to the subject, in regular series, some of them not to be found in Scobell's Collection.
The earliest of these acts bears date the 1st of April 1643, (31st March, according to Scobell)-which, it will be recollected, was about the time when the treaty then on foot at Oxford, which (by Whitelocke's account) had been supposed to be in the best train for a successful issue, was suddenly stopped in its progress by the king's informing the parliament commissioners, "that he had altered his mind," as to the answer before agreed to be made to their propositions. The preamble is as follows.
"The Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, taking into their serious consideration the heavy pressure and calamities which now lie upon this kingdom, by this unnatural war raised against the parliament; and that notwithstanding all their faithful and uncessant endeavours for the preserving of his majesty and the whole kingdom, from the mischievous and restless designs of Papists and ill-affected persons (whose aim is the extirpation of our religion, laws, and liberties:) yet, their counsels and practises are still so prevalent with his majesty, and the hearts of many people so misled and beguiled by their false pretences and insinuations, that nothing can be expected but ruin and desolation, unless God in mercy prevent it, and incline his majesty's heart to the faithful advice of his great councel of parliament, which hath ever been, and is (under God) the chief support of his royal dignity, and the security of all that we have or can enjoy. And for that it is most agreeable to common justice, that the estates of such notorious delinquents as have been the causes or instruments of the public calamities, which have been hitherto employed to the fomenting and nourishing of these miserable distractions, should be converted and applied towards the supportation of the good subjects therein, who have hitherto borne the greatest share in these burthens."
And it then goes on to "ordain," that "the estates, as well real as personal," of certain ecclesiastical dignitaries (namely, the archbishops and twelve of the bishops) therein particularly mentioned; "and of all such bishops," &c. &c. &c. " and of all other person or persons, ecclesiastical or temporal, as (1.) have raised, or shall raise arms against the parliament, or (2.) have been, or shall be, in actual war against the same, or (3.) have voluntarily contributed, or shall, &c. (not being under the power of any part of the king's army at the time of such contributing) any money, horse, plate, arms, ammunition, or other aid or assistance, for or towards the maintenance of any forces raised against
the parliament, or for the opposing of any power raised by authority of parliament; or, for robbing, spoiling, plundering, or destroying any of the king's subjects, who have willingly contributed, or yielded obedience to the commands of both houses of parliament; and (4.) of all such as have joined, or shall join, in any oath or act of association against the parliament; or (5.) have imposed, or shall impose, any tax or assessment upon his majesty's subjects, for or towards the maintenance of any forces against the parliament; or (6.) have, or shall use any force or power to levy the same," shall be forthwith seized and sequestred into the hands of the several persons in the schedule to the same act named as sequestrators and committees for the several counties, cities, and other places therein specified, and of such other persons as should thereafter be appointed. And the said sequestrators or committees," or any two or more of them in each county, city, or place respectively," are thereby authorised and required" to take and seize into their hands or custodies, as well all the money, &c., and personal estate, as also all manors, lands and hereditaments, rents, revenues and profits, of the delinquents before specified, and two parts of all manors, (&c. &c.) of all papists, "and to let, set and demise the same from year to year;" with powers to call before them all stewards and agents, &c.; and, to send for and take any books and writings, &c., for the purposes of enquiry and valuation; to enter and receive rents, &c., and distrain for nonpayment; to sue for debts due to delinquents, and give discharges; to call to their assistance the trained bands, volunteers, or other forces of the district in case of resistance; and to punish by fine (not exceeding £20.) and imprisonment, such as they may find refractory in such service. The monies raised are directed to be paid into the hands of the treasurers at Guildhall, and employed" to the use and for the maintaining of the army, and forces raised by the parliament, and such other uses as shall be directed by both houses of parliament, for the benefit of the commonwealth." The sequestrators and committees abovementioned, to have allowances" for their necessary charges and pains," at the discretion of parliament, and to be indemnified; with power of appeal to both houses by any persons finding themselves aggrieved by any act of sequestration, their agents or deputies.
The foregoing is, we believe, an accurate statement of the principal provisions of this celebrated ordinance, the foundation and key-stone of all subsequent enactments. The schedule containing the names of the sequestrators is to be found in the small quarto collection, but wanting in Scobell; and the list comprises persons of the first respectability, as to character and station, in the several counties. In that of Devon,
(for instance) we find four baronets, four knights, ten esquires, (all of ancient families), and the mayor of Plymouth, for the time being; and, in that and the other counties, many of the most distinguished and active members of the house of commons.-St. John, Martin, Whitelock, Cromwell, Hollis, Grimstone, Fairfax, Hotham, &c. &c. Many of these are named as sequestrators for more than a single place or county.
Under date of the 14th of the same month, (of April, 1643), we meet with an order, "that such particular persons of the committees or commissioners," appointed for raising monies for the parliament's service," as shall refuse to join in or sign any warrants, or meet the rest of the committees or commissioners, or to act upon the said ordinances," &c. " and shall not be detained by sickness or other inevitable impediments, shall be reputed and taken as persons ill-affected to the service of parliament:" and "that the names of all such persons for refusing or neglecting this service, shall be returned to the house of commons by the residue of the said committee or commissioners; that, thereupon, the house may take order that the said persons' estates shall be seized, according to the ordinance for sequestring," &c. It is observable, that this order was passed immediately on the final breaking off of the Oxford treaty, and it was probably induced by the conduct of several individuals, who had hitherto professed their attachment to the parliament; but, upon this fatal occasion, either from a sense of duty, or calculation of advantages, adhered to the king.
This is followed by an order of the 21st of April, “That if any person, tenant or other," shall (after notice thereof,) pay to the archbishops and bishops mentioned in the first ordinance, "or to any such bishops, deans, deans and chapters, prebends, archdeacons, or any other person or persons, ecclesiastical or temporal, as have raised, or shall raise, arms against the parliament, or have been, are, or shall be, in actual war against the same, or have voluntarily contributed, or shall, &c. (not being under the power of,) &c.-following the general words of the ordinance, in the description of the several classes of delinquency-" any rents, profits, fees, or other advantages of emolument due to them, or any of them, payable or chargeable upon any of their lands or offices; that such payment shall be counted as non-payment, and they shall be liable, and shall pay the same to such as, by authority of both houses of parliament, shall be authorised to receive the same."
In and about the month of August of the same year, the Earls of Holland and Bedford, the Earl of Clare, and other distinguished noblemen and gentlemen, members of both houses, left the parliament and went to the king at Oxford,