« PreviousContinue »
A.D. 1626. made happy in the duty and love of his people,
the greatest safety and treasury of a king.” The lords then sent the Earls of Manchester, Pembroke, Carlisle, and Holland, to entreat the king to give audience to the whole house of peers. But the king's ears and heart were open only to his favourite, whilst they were shut against the advice of both houses of parliament, and the complaints of the people. He therefore returned for answer, that “ his resolution was to hear no motion to that purpose, but he would dissolve the parliament:" and when they desired him to permit the parliament to sit but two days longer, he answered, in a peremptory manner, “ No, not a minute :” and he accordingly dissolved them on
the 15th day of June 1626. Oppressive The king, after the dissolution, persisted in his
former illegal and oppressive methods of raising money, notwithstanding the general offence they had given both to the parliament and the public. Privy seals were issued out for a general loan. A loan of a hundred thousand pounds was demanded of the city of London, but the citizens refused the payment of it. The port towns and maritime counties were required to furnish ships for the king's service. The deputy lieutenants
and justices of the peace for Dorsetshire petition- A.D. 1626. ed the council table to be excused, and pleaded that the case was without precedent; but the council severely checked them for disputing, instead of obeying, their king's commands; and said that state occasions were not to be guided by ordinary precedents. The city of London was likewise required to furnish the king with twenty of the best ships in the river, with all manner of tackle, ammunition, &c.; and when the citizens petitioned for an abatement of the twenty ships rated upon them, they were told that the charge imposed on them was moderate, as not exceeding the value of many of their private estates; that such petitions were not to be received; and whereas they mentioned precedents, they ought to know that the precedents of former times were obedience, and that precedents were not wanting for the punishment of those that disobeyed the king's command.
The loan * before mentioned was exacted with such rigour, that those men of estates who refused to subscribe, were bound over by recog
* Sir Randolph Crew, chief sufficient zeal for advancing justice, was removed from his the loan.- Rushworth. place because he did not show
A.D. 1626. nizance to appear at the council table; and Many gen. many of them, as Sir John Elliot, Sir Thomas prisoned. Wentworth (afterwards Earl of Strafford), Mr.
Hampden, and others, were committed to dif
ferent prisons, and which were far removed from A.D. 1627. the counties where they lived. Such numbers
were committed, that the council table was as much employed to provide prisons for those who refused the loan, as to provide for the king's ne
cessities. Public com- The clamours which were raised by the exactplaints.
ing of this loan were increased by the manner in which it was squandered ; for as the king entered without due consideration into a war with France, so the war itself was managed with the highest imprudence, and ended with the greatest dishonour. This, with the many obstructions on trade, the number of ships taken, the neglect of the merchants to build more, because their ships had been pressed for the king's service at a low rate and not paid, and other oppressions beside, made the expectations and call for a parliament universal.
When the resolution for calling one was taken Gentlemen in council, warrants were sent to the different been imprisoned on account of the loan; which A.D. 1627. was a farther proof of the weakness, as well as the injustice, of committing them. And to show how general the sense of this was, the men who had been imprisoned were most of them (as Rushworth says) elected “ to present the people's grievances, and assert their liberties." A sufficient caution this to the king not to persevere in his arbitrary measures, if he had been wise and happy enough to have taken it in proper time.
counties to release those gentlemen who had
The next parliament met March 17, 1627-8, New parwith the same dispositions which the former had ; and unfortunately for the king, he continued, likewise, in the same temper. The haughtiness of his spirit, by a strange fatality, seemed to rise as the people's clamours and grievances rose; and the greater his necessities were, the greater was his contempt of his subjects, as if angry to be obliged to depend upon them. At the first opening of the parliament, before any step was taken which could give him any disgust, he spoke to them in a very lofty and improper strain : “ If you,” says he, “ as God forbid ! should not do your duties in contributing what the state at this time needs, I must, in discharge of my
A.D. 1627. conscience, use those other means which God
hath put into my hands to save that which the follies of some particular men may otherwise hazard to lose. Take not this as a threatening; for I scorn to threaten any but my equals."* Notwithstanding the king's manner of speaking to them, the commons were not diverted from that duty which they owed to themselves and the public. On the 22nd of March, they opened the business of parliament with inquiring into the state of the nation and the public grievances; such as billeting of soldiers, loans by benevolence and privy seal, and the imprisonment of persons who refused to lend their money as demanded, and who, notwithstanding they brought their habeas corpus, were remanded to prison. In the debate, Sir Edward Coke (who had been lord chief justice) quoted a record of the 25th of Edward the Third, which he said was worthy to be written in letters of gold : “ That loans against the will of the subject are against reason and the franchises of the
land." A.D. 1628. The commons, determined to assert the rights
of the people, came to several resolutions with