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and William Stroud, Esqrs. had invited the Scots into England, and were now the chief encouragers of those tumults that had kept the bishops and Popish lords from the house; that they had aspersed his government, and were endeavouring to deprive him of his royal power; in a word, that they were conspiring to levy war against him, resolved to impeach them of high treason ; accordingly his majesty sent his attorney-general to the house with the articles [January 3, 1642], and at the same time despatched officers to their houses to seal up their trunks, papers,
and doors; but the members not being ordered into custody, as his majesty expected, the king went himself to the house next day in the afternoon [January 4] to seize them, attended with about two hundred officers and soldiers, armed with swords and pistols; the gentlemen of the inns of court, who had offered their service to defend the king's person, having had notice to be ready at an hour's warning*. The king having entered the house, went directly to the speaker's chair, and looking about him, said with a frown, “ I perceive the birds are fled, but I will have them wheresoever I can find them, for as long as these persons are here, this house will never be in the right way that s heartily wish it; I expect therefore, that as soon as they come to the house, that you send them to me.” Having then assured the members, that he designed no force upon them, nor breach of privilege, after a little time he withdrew; but as bis majesty was going out, many members cried aloud, so as he might hear them, Privilege ! privilege! | The house was in a terrible panic while the king was in the chair, the door of the house, with all the avenues, being crowded with officers and soldiers: as soon therefore as his majesty was gone they adjourned till the next day, and then for a week. It was happy that the five members had notice of the king's coming, just time enough to withdraw into the city, otherwise it might have occasioned the effusion of blood, for without doubt the armed soldiers at the door waited only for the word to carry by force. Next day his majesty went into the city [January 5] and demanded them of the lord-mayor and court of aldermen then assembled by his order at Guildhall, professing at the same time his resolution to prosecute all who opposed the laws, whether Papists or separatists, and to defend the true Protestant religion which his father professed, and in which he would continue to the end of his life 1. ' But though his majesty was nobly entertained by the sheriffs, he now perceived, that this rash and unadvised action had lost him the hearts of the citizens, there being no acclamations or huzzas, as usual, only here and there a voice, as he went along in his coach, crying out, Privilege of parliament ! privilege of parliament! However, he persisted in his resolution, and January 8 published a proclamation, commanding all magistrates, and officers of justice, to apprehend the accused members and carry them to the Tower. Whitelocke's Memorials, p. 50.
+ Ibid. p. 51. 1 Rushworth, part 3. vol. 1. p. 479.
It is hard to say with any certainty, who put the king upon this unparalleled act of violence, a species of tyranny which the most arbitrary of his predecessors had never attempted. If his majesty deliberated at all upon what he was going about, we must conclude, that he intended to dissolve the parliament, and to return to his former methods of arbitrary government; because by the same rule that the king might take five members out of the house he might take five hundred; besides, several of the articles laid against them were equally chargeable on the majority of the house. It now appeared, says Rapin *, that the king was resolved to be revenged on those that had offended him; and that there was no farther room to confide in his royal word. Some say that this was lord Digby's mad project, who, when he found his majesty, after his return out of the city, vexed at his disappointment, offered to go with a select company and bring them dead or alive; but the king was afraid of the consequences of such an enterprise ; and Digby being ordered to attend in his place in the house, thought fit to withdraw out of the kingdom. Mr. Echardt, with greater probability, lays it upon the queen and her cabal of Papists; and adds, that when the king expressed his distrust of the affair, her majesty broke out into a violent passion, and said, “ Allez, poltron," &c. “Go, coward, and pull those rogues out by the ears, or never see my face any more;" which it seems, says the archdeacon, determined the whole matter.
The citizens of London were so far from delivering up the five members, that they petitioned the king that they might be at liberty, and proceeded against according to the methods of parliament. At the same time they acquainted his majesty with their apprehensions of the ruin of trade, and of the danger of the Protestant religion, by reason of the progress of the rebellion in Ireland, and the number of Papists and other disbanded officers about the court. His majesty, finding he had lost the city, fortified Whitehall with men and ammunition, and sent cannoniers into the Tower to defend it, if there should be occasion. When the citizens complained of this, his majesty replied, “that it was
* Vol. 2. p. 408, 409, folio edition.
+ Bishop Warburton is much displeased with Mr. Neal for quoting the authority, and giving in to the opinion, of Echard. For he says, “ It was a known and uncontroverted fact, that the advice was Dighy’s.” To invalidate the supposition, that the measure proceeded from the queen's counsels, his lordship urges, that the queen was not capable of any vigorous steps, being intimidated with the fear of an impeachment, and actually projecting ter escape : as if danger and alarm were incompatible with concerting and adopting the means of avoiding the threatening evil ; as if Digby might not be the ostensible adviser of measures which others suggested and instigated. That he was the sole author of this measure, is not so uncontroverted a fact as the bishop conceived it to be : and it may be alleged in favour of Mr. Neal and Echard, that amongst the divers excuses made for this action, some imputed it to the irritation and counsel of the women ; telling the king, “ that if he were king of England he would not suffer himself to be baffled about such persons." The notice of this intended step was given to these five gentlemen by a great court lady, their friend; who overheard some discourse about it. Whitelocke's Memorial, p. 50, 51.-Ed.
Rapin, vol. 2. p. 408, folio edition.
done with an eye to their safety and advantage ; that his fortifying Whitehall was not before it was necessary; and that if any citizens had been wounded, it was undoubtedly for their evil and corrupt demeanour.” But they had no confidence in the king's protection. A thousand mariners and sailors offered to guard the five members to Westminster by water upon the day of their adjournment [January 11), and the train-bands offered the committee at Guildhall to do the same by land, which was accepted ; and the offer of the apprentices refused. Things being come to this extremity, his majesty, to avoid the hazard of an affront from the populace, took a fatal resolution to leave Whitehall, and accordingly, January 10, the day before the parliament was to meet, he removed with his queen and the whole royal family to Hampton-court, and two days after to Windsor, from whence he travelled by easy stages to York; never returning to London till he was brought thither as a criminal to execution.
By the king's deserting his capital in this manner, and not returning when the ferment was over, he left the strength and riches of the kingdom in the hands of his parliament; for next day the five members were conducted by water in triumph to Westminster, the train-bands of the city marching at the same time by land, who, after they had received the thanks of the house, were dismissed; and serjeant Skippon, with a company of the city-militia, was appointed to guard the parliament-house; “ from this day (says lord Clarendon*) we may reasonably date the levying war in England, whatsoever has been since done being but the superstructures upon these foundations.” It must be considered that two days after (January 12] the king sent a message to the house, waiving his proceedings with respect to the five members, and promising to be as careful of their privileges as of his life or crown; and a little after offered a general pardon ; but the commons had too much reason at this time not to depend upon his royal promise; they insisted that the accused members should be brought to their trial in a legal and parliamentary way; in order to which they desired his majesty to inform them, what proof there was against them ; it being the undoubted right and privilege of parliament, that no member can be proceeded against without the consent of the house ; which his majesty, refusing to comply with, removed farther off to Windsor, and entered upon measures very inconsistent with the peace of the kingdomt.
To return to the bishops : About a fortnight after their commitment [January 17, 1642] they pleaded to the impeachment of the house of commons, “Not guilty in manner and form,” and petitioned the lords for a speedy trial, which was appointed for the 25th instant, but was put off from time to time, till the whole bench of bishops was voted out of the house, and then entirely dropped; for the very next day after their commitment, the com
• Vol. 1. p. 383.
+ Rushworth, part 3. vol. 1. p. 492
mons desired the lords to resume the consideration of the bill that had been sent up some months ago, for taking away all temporal jurisdiction from those in holy orders, which the lords promised: it had passed the commons without any difficulty, about the time of the Irish insurrection, and was laid aside in the house of lords, as being thought impossible to pass while the bishops' votes were entire : when it was revived at this juncture, the earl of Bedford and the bishop of Rochester made a vigorous stand against it *. His lordship urged, that it was contrary to the usage of parliament when a bill had been once rejected to bring it in a second time the same session. To which it was replied, that it was not the same bill [having a new title), though it was to accomplish the same end. Besides, the distress of the times required some extraordinary measures for their redress; and farther, since the king had been graciously pleased to pass an act for the continuance of this parliament as long as they thought fit to sit, and thereby parted with his right of proroguing or dissolving them, the nature of things was altered, and therefore they were not to be tied down to the ordinary forms in other cases. The question being put, whether the bill should be read, it passed in the affirmative; upon which the consideration of it was resumed, and after some few debates the bill was passed by a very great majority, February 6, 1641–2; the citizens of London expressing their satisfaction by ringing of bells and bonfires. But it was still apprehended that the king would refuse his assent, because when he had been pressed to it his majesty had said, it was a matter of great concernment, and therefore he would take time to consider; however, the commons, not content with this delay, sent again to Windsor, to press his compliance upon the following reasons: "Because the subjects suffered by the bishops exercising temporal jurisdiction, and making a party in the house of lords ; because it was apprehended that there would be a happy conjunction of both houses upon the exclusion of the bishops; and the signing this bill would be a comfortable pledge of his majesty's gracious assent to the future remedies of those evils which were to be presented to him +."
This message from the house of commons was seconded by those of greatest trust about the king, who argued, that the combination against the bishops was irresistible; that the passing this bill was the only way to preserve the church; and that if the parliament was gratified in this, so many persons in both houses would be fully satisfied that they would join in no farther alterations; but if they were crossed in this, they would endeavour an extirpation of the bishops and a demolishing of the whole fabric of the church.” They argued farther, “that force or indirect means having been made use of to obtain the bill, the king might by his power bring the bishops in again when the present distempers were composed.” An argument by which his majesty might have
• Clarendon, vol. 1, p. 302, 416.
+ Ibid. p. 427.
set aside all his concessions, or acts of grace (as he pleased to call them), to his parliament at once. But none of these reasons would have prevailed, had not the queen made use of her sovereign influence over the king. Her majesty was made to believe by sir J. Culpeper, that her own preservation depended upon the king's consent to the bill ; that if his majesty refused it, her journey into Holland would be stopped, and her person possibly endangered by some mutiny or insurrection ; whereas the using her interest with the king, would lay a popular obligation upon the kingdom, and make her acceptable to the parliament. These arguments carrying a face of probability, her majesty wrested the king's resolution from him, so that the bill was signed by commission, February 14, together with another against pressing soldiers, his majesty being then at Canterbury, accompanying the queen in her passage to Holland. But his majesty's signing them with so much reluctance did him a disservice*. All men took notice of his discontent; and lord Clarendon sayst, he has cause to believe that the king was prevailed with to sign them, “because he was told, that there being violence and force used to obtain them, they were therefore in themselves null, and in quieter times might easily be revoked and disannulled." A dangerous doctrine, as it may tend to overthrow the most established laws of a country! To give the reader the act itself:
“Whereas bishops and other persons in holy orders, ought not to be entangled with secular jurisdiction, the office of the ministry being of such great importance that it will take up the whole man. And for that it is found by long experience, that their intermeddling with secular jurisdictions hath occasioned great mischiefs and scandals both to church and state, his majesty, out of his religious care of the church and souls of his people, is graciously pleased that it be enacted, and by authority of this present parliament be it enacted, that no archbishop or bishop, or other person that now is or hereafter shall be in holy orders, shall at any time after the 15th day of February, in the year of our Lord 1642, have any seat or place, suffrage or vote, or use or execute any power or authority, in the parliaments of this realm, nor shall be of the privy-council of his majesty, his heirs or successors, or justices of the peace of oyer and terminer or jail-delivery, or execute any temporal authority, by virtue of any commission ; but shall be wholly disabled, and be incapable to have, receive, use, or execute, any of the said offices, places, powers, authorities, and things aforesaid.
“ And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all acts from and after the said 15th of February, which shall be done or executed by any archbishop or bishop, or other person whatsoever in holy orders; and all and every suffrage or voice