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the parochial clergy, with the heads, and most of the fellows of both universities, among whom were men of the first rank for learning, politeness, piety, and probity of manners, as archbishop Usher, bishop Hall, Moreton, Westfield, Brownrigge, Prideaux, Dr. Hammond, Saunderson, &c. who joined the king, not merely for the sake of their preferments, but because they believed the unlawfulness of subjects resisting their sovereign in any case whatsoever. Among the parochial clergy were men of no less name and character. Lord Clarendon * says, “ that if the sermons of those times preached at court were collected together and published, the world would receive the best bulk of orthodox divinity, profound learning, convincing reason, natural powerful eloquence, and admirable devotion, that hath been communicated in any age since the apostles' time." And yet, in the very same page, he adds, “ There was sometimes preached there, matter very unfit for the place, and scandalous for the persons." I submit this paragraph to the reader's judgment; for I must confess, that after having read over several of these court-sermons, I have not been able to discover all that learning and persuasive eloquence which his lordship admires; nor can much be said for their orthodoxy, if the thirty-nine articles be the standard. But whatever decency was observed at court, there was hardly a sermon preached by the inferior clergy within the king's quarters, wherein the parliament divines were not severely exposed and ridiculed, under the character of Puritans, Precisians, Formalists, Sabbatarians, canting hypocrites, &c. Such was the sharpness of men's spirits on both sides !
Among the country clergy there was great room for complaints, many of them being pluralists, non-residents, ignorant and illiterate, negligent of their cures, seldom or never visiting their parishioners, or discharging any more of their function than would barely satisfy the law. They took advantage of the book of sports to attend their parishioners to their wakes and revels, by which means many of them became scandalously immoral in their conversations. Even Dr. Walker admits, that there were among them men of wicked lives, and such as were a reproach and scandal to their function; the particulars of which had better have been buried than left upon record t.
The common people that filled up the king's army were of the looser sort; and even the chief officers, as lord Goring, Granville, Wilmot, and others, were men of profligate lives, and made a jest of religion ; the private sentinels were soldiers of fortune, and not having their regular pay, lived for the most part upon free plunder : when they took possession of a town, they rifled the houses of all who were called Puritans, and turned their families out of doors. Mr. Baxter says, “that when he lived at Coventry after the battle of Edgehill, there were above thirty worthy
* Vol. 1. p. 77.
+ Sufferings of the Clergy, p. 72.
ministers in that city who had fled thíther for refuge from the soldiers and popular fury, as he himself also had done, though they had never meddled in the wars; among these were, the reverend Mr. Vines, Mr. Anthony Burgess, Mr. Burdal, Mr. Bromshil, Dr. Bryan, Grew, Craddock, and others. And here (says he) I must repeat the great cause of the parliament's strength, and of the king's ruin; the debauched rabble, encouraged by the gentry, and seconded by the common soldiers of his army, took all that were called Puritans for their enemies; so that if any man was noted for a strict and famous preacher, or for a man of a precise and pious life, he was plundered, abused, and put in danger of his life; if a man prayed in his family, or was heard to repeat a sermon, or sing a psalm, they presently cried out, Rebels, roundheads, and all their money and goods proved guilty, however innocent they were themselves.
Upon my certain knowledge it was this that filled the armies and garrisons of the parliament with sober and pious men. Thousands had no mind to meddle in the wars, but to live peaceably at home, if the rage of the soldiers and drunkards would have suffered them. Some stayed at home till they had been imprisoned; some till they had been plundered twice or thrice over, and had nothing left; others were quite tired out with the insolence of their neighbours; with being quartered upon, and put in continual danger of their lives, and so they sought refuge in the parliamentgarriosns."
This was so notorious, that at length it came to the king's ear, who, out of mere compassion to his distressed subjects, issued out a proclamation, bearing date November 25, 1642, for the better government of his army; the preamble of which sets forth," that his majesty, having taken into his princely consideration the great misery and ruin of his subjects, by the plundering, robbing, and spoiling of their houses, and taking from them their money, plate, household-stuff, cattle, and other goods, under pretence of their being disaffected to us and our service, and these unlawful and unjust actions done by divers soldiers of our army, and others sheltering themselves under that title ; his majesty, detesting such barbarous proceedings, forbids his officers and soldiers to make any such seizures for the future, without his warrant. And if they go on to plunder and spoil the people, by taking away their money, plate, household-goods, oxen, sheep, or other cattle; or any victuals, corn, hay, or other provisions, going to or from any market, without making satisfaction, his majesty orders them to be proceeded against by martial law." This was as much as the king could do in his present circumstances; yet it had very little effect, for his majesty having neither money or stores for his army, the officers could maintain no discipline, and were forced to connive at their living at free quarter upon the people.
• Baxter's Life, p. 44.
Thus this unhappy nation was miserably harassed, and thrown into terrible convulsions, by an unnatural civil war ; the nobility and gentry, with their dependants, being chiefly with the king; the merchants, tradesmen, substantial farmers, and in general the middle ranks of people, siding with the parliament.
It is of little consequence to inquire, who began this unnatural and bloody war. None will blame them, on whose part it was just and unavoidable, for taking all necessary precautions in their defence, and making use of such advantages us Providence put into their hands to defeat the designs of the enemy, and nothing can excuse the other. His majesty professed before God to his nobles at York, that he had no intention to make war upon his parliament. And in his last speech upon the scattold he affirms, is that he did not begin a war with the two houses of parliament, but that they began with him upon the point of the militia ; and if any body will look upon the dates of the commissions (says his majesty), theirs and mine, they will see clearly that they began these unhappy troubles, and not I.” Yet with all due submission to so great an authority, were the dates of commissions for raising the militia the beginning of the war? Were not the crown-jewels first pawned in Holland, and arms, ammunition, and artillery sent over to the king at York ? Did not his majesty summon the gentlemen and freeholders to attend him as an extraordinary guard, in his progress in the north, and appear before Hull in a warlike manner, before the raising the militia ? Were not these warlike preparations ? Dr. Welwood says, and I think all impartial judges must allow, that they look very much that way. Mr. Echard is surprised that “the king did not put himself into a posture of defence sooner * ;” but he would have ceased to wonder, if he had remembered the words of lord Clarendon : “ The reason why the king did not raise forces sooner was, because he had neither arms nor ammunition, and till these could be procured from Holland, let his provocations and sufferings be what they would, he was to submit and bear it patiently.” It was therefore no want of will, but mere necessity, that hindered the king's appearing in arms sooner than he did. Father Orleans confesses, that it was agreed with the queen in the cabinet-council at Windsor, that while her majesty was negotiating in Holland, the king should retire to York and there make his first levies. He adds, " that all mankind believed that his majesty was underhand preparing for war, that the sword might cut asunder those knots he had made with his pen."
In order to excuse the unhappy king, who was sacrificed in the house of his friends, a load of guilt is with great justice laid upon the queen, who had a plenitude of power over his majesty, and could turn him about which way she pleased. Bishop Burnet says, “that by the liveliness of her discourse she made great
Memoirs, p. 64.
impressions upon the king; so that to the queen's want of judgment, and the king's own temper, the sequel of all his misfortunes was owing *.” Bishop Kennet adds, that “the king's match with this lady was a greater judgment upon the nation, than the plague which then raged in the land ; and that the influence of a stately queen over an affectionate husband, proved very fatal both to prince and people, and laid in a vengeance for future generations." The queen was a great bigot to her religion, and was directed by her father confessor to protect the Roman Catholics, even to the hazard of the king's crown and dignity. Though his majesty usually consulted her in all affairs of state, yet she sometimes presumed to act without him, and to make use of his name without his knowledge. “It was the queen that made all the great officers of state (says lord Clarendon), no preferments were bestowed without her allowance.” She was an enemy to parliaments, and pushed the king upon the most arbitrary and unpopular actions, to raise the English government to a level with the French. It was the queen that countenanced the Irish insurrection ; that obliged the king to go to the house of commons and seize the five members, and that was at the head of the council at Windsor, in which it was determined to break with the parliament and prepare for war; "this (says the noble historian ; viz. the king's perfect adoration of his queen, his resolution to do nothing without her), and his being inexorable as to every thing he promised her, were the root and cause of all other grievances. The two houses often petitioned the king not to admit her majesty into his councils, or to follow her advice in matters of state ; but he was not to be moved from his too servile regards to her dictates, even to the day of his death.
Sundry others of his majesty's privy-council had their share in bringing on the calamities of the war, though when it broke out they were either dead, dispersed, or imprisoned ; as, the duke of Buckingham, earl of Strafford, archbishop Laud, Finch, Windebank, Noy, &c. These had been the most busy actors at the council-table, the star-chamber, and court of high-commission, and were at the head of all the monopolies and illegal projects that enslaved the nation for above twelve years, and might have done it for ever, had they been good husbands of the public treasure, and not brought upon themselves the armed force of a neighbouring nation. The politics of these statesmen were very unaccountable, for as long as they could subsist without a parliamentary supply, they went on with their ship-money, court and conduct money, monopolies, and such-like resources of the prerogative; as soon as the parliament sat, these were suspended, in expectation of a supply from the two houses, before they had inquired into the late inroads upon the constitution ; but
• History of his Life and Times, vol. 1. p. 39, Scotch edition.
when they found this could not be obtained, they broke up the parliament in disgust, fined and imprisoned the members for their freedom of speech, and returned to their former methods of arbitrary government. All king Charles's parliaments had been thus dissolved, even to the present, which would undoubtedly have been treated in the same manner, had it not been for the act of continuation *.
On the other hand, a spirit of English liberty had been grow, ing in the nation for some years, and the late oppressions, instead of extinguishing it, had only kept it under ground, till having collected more strength, it burst out with the greater violence, the patriots of the constitution watched all opportunities to recover it: yet, when they had obtained a parliament by the interposition of the Scots, they were disposed to take a severe revenge upon their late oppressors, and to enter upon too violent measures in order to prevent the return of power into those hands that had so shamefully abused it. The five members of the house of commons, and their friends who were concerned in inviting the Scots into Eng. land, saw their danger long before the king came to the house to seize them, which put them upon concerting measures not only to restore the constitution, but to lay further limitations upon the royal power for a time, that they might not be exposed to the mercy of an incensed prince, so soon as he should be delivered from the present parliament. It is true, his majesty offered a general pardon at the breaking up of the session, but these members were afraid to rely upon it, because, as was said, there was no appearance that his majesty would govern by law for the future, any more than he had done before.
The king, being made sensible of the designs and spirit of the commons, watched all opportunities to disperse them, and not being able to gain his point, resolved to leave the two houses, and act no longer in concert with them, which was in effect to determine their power ; for to what purpose should they sit, if the king will pass none of their bills; and forbid his subjects to obey any of their votes or ordinances till they had received the royal assent? It was this that dismembered and broke the constitution, and reduced the parliament to this dilemma, either to return home, and leave all things in the hands of the king and queen and their late ministry; or to act by themselves, as the guardians of the people, in time of imminent danger : had they dissolved themselves, or stood still while his majesty had garrisoned the strong fortresses of Portsmouth and Huil, and got possession of all the
This act has been called “ a violent breach of the constitution of this govern. ment:" but the author who has cast this reproach on it, also observes, that "if this act had not been obtained, perhaps it would have been impossible to oppose the king's attempts with effect.” On this ground the "act of continuation" has been called “ an act of fidelity of the representatives of the people to their constitueuts; an instance of the expedience and righteousness of recovering the violated constitution, by means not strictly justifiable when the times are peaceable, and the mrators of government just and upright." Memoirs of Hollis, vol. 2. p. 591.-ED.