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over; and a bill for that purpose was brought in, A.D. 1660. and passed into an act, soon after the Restoration. If this measure had been delayed another year, it is probable that the king would not have relinquished such a support of absolute dominion; for he soon found the parliament more complying than his most sanguine hopes could ever have suggested.
Notwithstanding that the house of commons Views of showed such an eagerness for the king's restoration, and gave such proofs of affection to him at his return, yet it could not be depended on to promote any extraordinary schemes of power ; for many of the members had been in the parliament of 1640, and, though they were friends to monarchy, had been active to keep it within proper bounds. When, therefore, the first transports of their zeal and joy should subside, it might be naturally expected that they would revert to their old principles, and endeavour to preserve the true balance of the constitution. The court, it is plain, suspected this; but had too much art to discover the suspicion. The king, in all his
" Sir A. A. Cooper spoke against the court of wards, and for the excise;" but he is not at all mentioned as the originator, or even as an active supporter, of the measure.
A.D. 1660. speeches, was full of gentleness, mercy, and in
dulgence: he constantly expressed his obligations to perform his promise in the declaration from Breda ;“ upon which,” he said, “ the peace and tran. quillity of the kingdom entirely depended; and which, if he had not made, he was persuaded, he had not been in England.” He declared again, that no man should be disquieted for differences in opinion on matters of religion which did not disturb the peace of the kingdom.” He pressed the forwarding of an act of indemnity and oblivion; “which," he said, “ he would inviolably observe
himself, and exact an observance of from others.” Parliament Yet, notwithstanding these and many popular
expressions, he dissolved the parliament, the 29th of December, seven months after his restoration. The court believed that a new house of commons, chosen under the countenance of the king, would be more devoted to the crown; and it was not disappointed. The people, who were charmed with the king's speeches, generally chose, in the hurry of their loyalty and zeal, such members as were in the extreme for prerogative and hierarchy; and who, at the same time, were ambitious of preferment.
T'The authors of this work have passed over in
silence an act that has been severely commented A.D. 1660. upon by almost all the writers of the period. It was in October of this year that the trial of the regicides took place; and Sir Anthony's name was upon the commission of oyer and terminer by which they were tried. Sir John Dalrymple remarks, in his Review of Events after the Restoration, “ The most cruel circumstance in the trial of these persons was, that several of the popular party, of whom Ashley Cooper was one, sate as their judges, and doomed them to die for that rebellion to which they had incited them.” This is hardly true. These men were not doomed to die for the rebellion in which Sir Anthony had participated, but for the death of Charles,—an act which was brought about by a party whose violence Sir Anthony uniformly opposed. He had, however, subsequently acted with several of these men; and his conduct in allowing his name to be placed upon this commission manifested great want of delicacy,—to say nothing of the disgrace which must attach to every man who sat upon these trials, for the barbarous and unconstitutional manner in which they were conducted. Sir Anthony seems to have been aware of the impropriety of his conduct, for he did not, like Mr.
A.D. 1660. Denzil Holles, take any prominent part in the
proceedings. This might lead us to suppose that he acted unwillingly, did we not find proof of his activity from other sources. It appears from Mr. Secretary Morrice's evidence upon Hacker's trial, that Sir Anthony, Mr. Annesley, and himself were the three who were deputed by the council to examine that person when he was brought over from Ireland. Upon their report, he was taken into custody, and afterwards tried and executed.]*
The want of settling proper terms with the king before the Restoration, as Lord Ashley had proposed to Monk, proved of the greatest ill consequence to the public, and laid the foundation for destroying the constitution more securely. From the king's despair of recovering the throne by his friends in England, and the neglect with which France and Spain had treated him, he would willingly have embraced any offers; but his restoration without conditions raised his notions of his own power and the weakness of the people to an exorbitant height. The court now formed the design of extending and confirming the power of the crown by means of the parliament, instead of acting, as formerly, contrary to
* State Trials, vol. v. col. 1181.
New par- .
the sense of it; and the new house of commons, A.D. 1660. as was expected, fell blindly and precipitately into the scheme. The members seemed to act as if they thought that a negligence of the people's liberties was honourable to them. They were as willing to give as the king was to take, and more ready to strengthen and advance than to weaken or confine any branch of his prerogative. . · The king, who knew their disposition, soon dis- A.D. 1661. covered his own: for, in his speech at the open- liament. ing of the parliament, May the 8th, 1661, instead of recommending any indulgence to tender consciences, as promised in the declaration from Breda, he expressed himself as follows: “ In God's name, provide full remedies for any future mischiefs. Be as severe as you will against new offenders, especially if they be so upon old principles; and pull up those principles by the roots."*
The house of commons, intent upon obeying Bills unfathe king's commands, immediately passed several liberty. bills to enlarge and establish his power: among others, one for the safety and preservation of the king's person, by which it was made penal to say that the king was a papist, or intended to introduce popery; another to empower him to dis