« PreviousContinue »
A.D. 1628. After reciting clauses in Magna Charta, and sta
tutes of the reigns of Edward the Third and other kings, “ that no man should be imprisoned without due process of law,” and after mentioning many grievances under which the people laboured, the petition concluded, “ that they do, therefore, pray that no man hereafter be compelled to make or yield any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge, without common consent by act of parliament; and that none be called to make answer, or take such oath, or to give attendance, or be confined, or otherwise molested, concerning the same, or for the refusal thereof; and that no free man, in any such manner as is before mentioned, be imprisoned or detained.” The petition was sent to the lords for their concurrence, who made an addition of the following words, viz. “ With due regard to leave entire that sovereign power wherewith your majesty is trusted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people.” This being strongly objected to by the commons, and particularly the most eminent lawyers, as Sir Edward Coke, Mr. Noy, and Mr. Selden, as likewise by Sir Thomas Wentworth and Mr. Pym, the lords did not insist on it, but agreed to the petition, with two amendments of no great im
portance, with which it passed unanimously A.D. 1628. through the commons. It was then presented to the king; but his answer was not thought full enough, or satisfactory: and the king for some time seemed determined not to give any other; for he sent a message by the speaker, “ that he resolved to abide by that answer, without further change or alteration.”
The many artifices which the king made use of to evade the performance of his promise, and of the offer he had himself made for securing the people's liberties, were not only unworthy of him, but were a fatal presage and evident cause of that disunion which happened afterwards between him and his subjects. As the bill of subsidies, however, was not entirely completed, he would not venture to break with the commons; and as the lords afterwards joined with them in addressing the king to give a clear and satisfactory answer to the petition in full parliament, he went
* The answer was,
“ The complain of any wrong or opking willeth that right be pressions, contrary done according to the laws just rights and liberties : to and customs of the realm; the preservation whereof he and that the statutes be put holds himself in conscience as in due execution, that his sub- well obliged, as of his prerogajects may have no cause to tive.”
A.D. 1628. on the 7th of June 1628, and gave his assent Assented to to it in these words, “ Soit droit fait come il est by the king.
The house of commons, upon this, proceeded to complete the bill of subsidies. At the same time, however, they took into consideration the state of public affairs, and drew up a remonstrance, setting forth, that the excessive power of Buckingham, and the abuse of that power, was the cause of great evils and dangers to the king and kingdom. This remonstrance being completed, was ordered to be presented by the speaker to the king; whilst, on the other hand, the king, as if with design to thwart and oppose the parliament in their proceedings, directed that an order should be made in the Star-chamber, “ that, whereas an information had been exhibited against the duke for divers great offences, the said information, with all proceedings thereupon, should be taken off the file, that no memory or record thereof might remain which would tend to the duke's disgrace;” and the only reason alleged for this was, because the king was fully satisfied of the duke's innocence. The commons, however, proceeded to another remonstrance, importing that the receiving of tonnage and poundage, and other impositions not granted by parliament, A.D. 1628. was a breach of the fundamental liberties of the kingdom, and contrary to his majesty's royal answer to the petition of rights. Whilst this was reading in the house, the king went to the parliament, June the 26th, and after taking notice of the first remonstrance and the preparing of the second, and after telling them that he owed the account of his actions to God alone, he prorogued the parliament till the 20th of October; and it was afterwards prorogued to the 20th of January, On the 23rd of August, the Duke of Buckingham was killed by Felton. The same violent measures, however, were pursued under other ministers, and the same encroachments were made on the liberties of the people.
When the parliament met, January the 20th, 1628-9, they immediately proceeded upon an inquiry into the violation of the liberties of the subject, and the infraction of the petition of rights. On the other hand, the king, five days after the opening of the parliament, sent them a pressing message to take the affair of tonnage and poundage into consideration. But the houses adhered to their original intention. Upon this, the king repeated his messages, which led the commons to
A.D. 1628. resolve on the following answer to him: “ That
those frequent messages were inconvenient; that they bred debates and loss of time; and that tonnage and poundage arising naturally from the house, they would in fit time take such a course therein as they hoped would be to his majesty's satisfaction and honour.” Whilst, with the proper spirit of an English parliament, they were inquiring into the public grievances both religious and civil, the king interposed in their proceedings in an irregular and injudicious manner; for when, on the 22nd of February, some questions were proposed to be put by the speaker, he refused, saying, “ he was otherwise commanded by the king.” Upon this alarming intimation that their proceedings depended only upon the sufferance of the crown, the house adjourned in astonishment. They met again on the 25th, when they were by the king's command adjourned to the 2nd of March. At their meeting upon this day, the commons urged their speaker again to put the questions; which he again refused, saying, “ I have a command from the king to adjourn till March the 10th, and put no question.” A dissolution, however, being fore
* Sir John Finch.