Page images

To compass this point :—First, the pulpits are set to work; and the clergy began by the authority and name of God, and the awful sanctions of religion, to promote the schemes of the court. They got ministers hired for that purpose, to preach up as a scripture doctrine, that subjects were obliged to obey the king's will and pleasure without examination.”Rapin, Vol. x. p. 114. The Doctors Sybthorp and Manwaring in their sermons and writings solemnly declare—That the prince doth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of a king is, there is power, and who may say unto him, what dost thou? That the king is not bound to observe the laws of the realm concerning the subjects rights and liberties; but that his royal will and command in imposing loans md tares, without common consent in parliament, doth oblige the subjects conscience upon pain of ETERNAL DAMNATION. That those who refuse to pay such loans, offend against the law of God, and the king's supreme authority, and become guilty of impiety, disloyalty, and rebellion. And that the authority of parliament is not NECESSARY for the raising of aids and subsidies, &c. ---Ibid. p. 114.

These doctrines were so highly relished at court, “That Archbishop Abbot," a pious, learned, and moderate divine, who scorned to sacrifice his country's liberty to the ambition of his prince, was

suspended from all his archiepiscopal functions, and confined to his country house in a moorish unhealthy place, for refusing to licence Sybthorp's sermon. Manwaring was severely censured and fined by the house of lords, ordered to be imprisoned, suspended for three years, and declared incapable of any ecclesiastical dignity or secular office."--Ibid. p. 115. But the king (as if in determined defiance of the house of lords, and as resolved to let them see, that he liked the doctrine preached, and would stand by and reward the preacher,)

upon the rising of the house presently remits his fine ; gives him his pardon; rewards him first with two good livings, then with the deanry of Worcester; afterward successively with the bishopricks of St. David's and Chichester: all this, while he lay under the censure of parliament. Sybthorp, the other incendiary, was made prebendary of Peterborough, with a good living annexed to it: though Wood, the Oxford historian, confesses, he had nothing to recommend him but forwardness and servile flattery."—Neal, Vol. 11. p. 180.

" It cannot be denied,” says Lord Clarendon, “ but there was sometimes preached at Whitehall matter very unfit for the place, and very scandalous for the persons; who presumed often to determine things out of the verge of their own profession." --Clarend. Vol. 1. p. 77.

This absolute authority over the purses of his subjects, with which the clergy had vested him, the king very soon vigorously exerted. By an old obsolete law, certain knights were obliged to attend the king's coronation ; but the plague then raging in divers parts of the country, “ his Majesty set forth a proclamation, that in regard of the infection then spreading through the kingdom he would dispense with those knights, who by an ancient statute were to attend at that solemnity, and they were thereby REQUIRED NOT TO ATTEND. However, within a few months after, he took advantage of their absence, and raised a vast sum of money out of their estates at the council table.” Fining them heavily for not giving that attendance, which he had not only dispensed with, but expressly required them not to give.-Hist. Stu. p. 89.

“ He levied also great sums by fines and impriBonments upon all men of 401. per annum, and upwards, who refused to take upon them the order of knighthood; though in respect of their estates and quality they were altogether unfit. Thus they were thrustinto knighthood, or a gaol, upon refusing to pay this unjust romantic imposition, which turned industry into errantry. James Maliverer, Will. Ingleby, and Thomas Moyser, Esqrs, Yorkshire gentlemen, were severely fined (Maliverer in 20001.) as a composition for the order of knighthood, whereas he might have been a baronet for half the money."--Ibid. p. 110.

“ Multitudes being summoned on this accasion, the composition brought the king in above 100,000l.”—Rapin, Vol. x. p. 253.

Unjust projects of all kinds,” Lord Clarendon owns, “ were set on foot; many ridiculous, many scandalous, and all very grievous, which served only to offend and incense the people, and brought little supplies to the king, yet raised a great stoek for expostulation, murmur, and complaint. Many persons of best quality, under peerage, were conmitted to several prisons, with circumstances unusual and unheard of, for refusing to pay money required by those extraordinary ways." -Clarend. Vol. 1. p. 26, 67.

“ He granted monopolies, i.e. by letters patents formed companies, to whom alone he gave the privilege of selling certain wares, and who were to pay him for it such a yearly revenue. This was directly contrary to the rights of the people, and very destructive to trade; but in those days the good of the nation was what the court had least in view. This abuse went so far, that in a manner all sorts of commodities were monopolized, and the sale thereof engrossed by some company, even to old rags." —Rapin, Vol. x. p. 249.

“ In short, there was no branch of the subject's property, which the government could dispose of, but was bought and sold. He raised above million a year (in an arbitrary manner, and without act of parliament) by the imposts on soap, salt, candles, wine, &c.-Grants were given out for weighing hay and straw within three miles of London ; for gauging red-herring barrels and butter casks; for marking iron; sealing lace, &c.— which being purchased of the crown must be paid for by the subject.”—Neal, Vol. II. p. 204.

“ In a word nobody ventured to build any more new ships, because as soon as they were ready, the king seized them for his service, against the will of their owners.” Rapin, Vol. x. p. 126.

He extorted large sums of money also by an abuse of the court of wards : “ by which husbandry all the rich families of England, of noblemen and gentlemen, were exceedingly incensed and even indevoted to the crown; looking upon what the law intended for their preservation, to be now applied to their destruction.” — Clarende Vol. 1. p. 152. - " He sold the lands belonging to the royal domain, and created peers for money." Ibid. Vol. 1. p. 4.

" The old laws of the forest were revived, by which not only great fines were imposed, but great annual rents intended, and like to be settled by way of contract; which burden lighted most upon persons of quality and honour, who thought themselves above ordinary oppressions, and were therefore like to remember it with more sharpness. The people were so immoderately vexed by the jastice in Eyre's seat, that few men could assure themselves their estates and houses might not be brought within the jurisdiction of some forest; which, if they were, it cost them great fines.-By this great and terrible office, most counties in England had

[ocr errors]

been vexed and oppressed, and the most considerable persons in those counties.—This having not been practised for some hundreds of years, was looked upon as a terrible innovation and exaction upon persons, who knew not that they were in any fault; nor was any imputed to them, but the original sin of their fore-fathers, even for which they were obliged to pay great penalties and ran, soms.”Ibid. Vol. 1. p. 68, 273, 286.-Ibid. Vol. II. p. 475.

“Under colour of examining defective titles, all the proprietors of lands held of the crown, were obliged to produce their titles; to which, how good soever they might be, the commissioners made objections. So to avoid a lawsuit with the king, wherein they were sure to be cast, considering how the judges stood affected, the proprietors were forced to compound, and give a sum of money to secure their lands, which was looked upon as a manifest oppression."~Rapin, Vol. x. p. 294.

A great number of noblemen, ladies, and gentlemen of the first quality, (near 200 in number) were condemned in grievous fines to the king's use, for continuing in London, and not residing in their respective counties, and at their mansion-house, which the king by proclamation had commanded, as were also others for enlarging the city of London by new buildings.”-Hist. Štu. p. 125.Rapin, Vol. x. p. 257. These impositions not being sufficient to answer the king's exigencies," he erected an office for licensing his subjects to travel : another office for letters: another for forfeitures for such as spoil the highways : all these were enacted without a statute."--Hist. Stu.

p. 124.

“ Five subsidies only mentioned as intended to be granted in the second parliament,” Lord Clarendon complains, were exacted with the same

« PreviousContinue »