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ness to both houses.” Upon this, the lords im- A.D. mediately demanded a conference with the commons, and declared the committee dissolved. The noise of the plot was, however, kept up for some time; but it dropped without the prosecution of one single person, as soon as the uniformity bill was passed by the lords.
In this was the same oath as in the corporation Uniformity bill. It went very slowly and with great difficulty through the house of lords; which alarmed the commons so much that, on the 16th of December, they sent a message to the lords to put them in mind of it; as likewise of the corporation bill, the bill concerning quakers, and the bill concerning printing. The corporation bill, after a warm debate, was passed, and received the royal assent the 20th of that month. On the 28th of January 1661-2, the lords received another message from the commons, to remind them of the uniformity bill: but this bill was warmly debated, and strongly opposed, as being repugnant to the king's declaration from Breda. The lords made several amendments to it, and declared that the king ought to adhere to his promise of liberty to tender consciences. But the commons, in a conference with the lords
A. D. upon the amendments, said, that “ the king 1661-2.
could not, in that engagement, understand the misleaders of the people, but the misled; that it would be very strange to call a schismatical conscience a tender conscience; that a tender conscience denoted an impression from without, received from another, and that upon which another strikes.”* This was a construction unworthy of a school, much more of a house of commons; and it was made only to support a shameful elusion of a royal promise, given under a parliamentary sanction. The Earl of Southampton and Lord Ashley were remarkably strenuous against several clauses; and the former, being told “ that it was believed he had spoken three hundred times against the bill,” answered, “ that he was so firmly persuaded of the fatal consequences of it, that he would have spoken three
hundred times more to have prevailed.” Scheme to While this bill was depending in the house court like" of lords, an attempt was made in that house
to strengthen the hands of the king, by erecting a court like the Star-chamber. This name was still distasteful to the people, who had not forgotten the oppressions and injustice of that
erect a new
* Lords' Journals.
court. It was, therefore, thought proper to es- A. D. tablish a new one, and under the authority of parliament: for, on the 8th of February 1661-2, a committee (which had been appointed to consider of a bill for repealing all the acts made in the parliament which began on the 3rd of November 1640) reported to the house, “ that they were of opinion that it was fit for the good of the nation that there should be a court of like nature to the court called the Star-chamber; but they desired the advice and direction of the house in the following particulars :
“ Firstly. Who should be judges. “Secondly. What matters they should judge of. “Thirdly. By what manner of proceedings they should act.” *
But notwithstanding their unreasonable loyalty, the commons were not prepared to reconstruct this engine of oppression; these questions were never resolved by the house, and the scheme proved abortive. This parliament was particularly distinguished by its bitter hostility against the nonconformists.
A bill now passed the commons, and was sent Bill to reup to the lords, for regulating the forces in the forces.
* Lords' Journals.
several counties of the kingdom. By this bill, the lords lieutenants, deputy lieutenants, &c. were obliged to take the same oath as mentioned in the corporation act, with the addition of these words: “ In pursuance of such military commissions.” This bill (which, as an author* observes, was to establish a standing army by law, and swear us into a military government) was, likewise, vigorously opposed by the Earl of Southampton, Lord Ashley, and other lords. The committee to whom it was referred, and of which Lord Ashley was one, reported their opinion, that the clause with the oath should be omitted; but it was carried in the house for the clause by two votes. The lords had several conferences with
* A Letter from a Person of Quality to his friend in the
Couutry. - Locke's Posthumous Works.
61 The oath prescribed by the corporation act was as follows:-“ I do swear that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the king; and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him, in pursuance of such commissions, and that I will not at any time endeavour any alteration of government either in church or state."
“ The doctrine of non-resistance," observes Mr. Hallam, “ had now crept from homilies into the statute-book."
the commons upon amendments which had been A. D. made to this bill: and in these conferences Lord Ashley was constantly a manager; as were the Earl of Southampton, the Lord Privy Seal, Lord Wharton, and Lord Holles.
Thus early was the design laid, and carried A.D. 1662. into execution, for investing the king with undue power, and restraining the liberty of the subject. Few laws were passed but what conveyed an additional strength to the prerogative. Lord Ashley, in his opposition to these, acted upon the same principles which he always maintained ; and if, when he was chancellor of the exchequer, he opposed the arbitrary designs of the court in parliament, it cannot be doubted but that he acted with the same spirit in council. One instance of this will appear in the following account of the sale of Dunkirk.
At the close of the session of parliament, May Account of 19th, 1662, in the speech delivered by Lord Chan- Dunkirk. cellor Clarendon, the great importance of Dunkirk was set forth in the following remarkable words :* “ Whoever unskilfully murmurs at the expense of Dunkirk, and the other new acquisitions, which ought to be looked upon as jewels of an
the sale of
* Lords' Journals.