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t who applied, even in the most decent and regular manner, to any tribunal for relief against those acts.” This was his end; and he distinctly saw in what manner alone this end could be attained. There is, in truth, about all his motions, a clearness, coherence, and precision, which, if he had not been pursuing an object pernicious to his country and
to his kind, would have justly entitled him to high admiration.
He saw that there was one instrument, and only one, by which his vast and daring projects could be carried into execution. That instrument was a standing army. To the forming of such an army, therefore, he directed all the energy of his strong mind. In Ireland, where he was viceroy, he actually succeeded in establishing a military despotism, not only over the aboriginal populàtion, but also over the English colonists, and was able to boast that, in that island, the king was as absolute as any prince in the whole world could be. f The ecclesiastical administration was, in the mean time, principally directed by William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury. Of all the prelates of the Anglican Church, Laud had departed farthest from the principles of the Reformation, and had drawn nearest to Rome. His theology was more remote than even that of the Dutch Arminians from the theology of the Calvinists. His passion for ceremonies, his reverence for holidays, vigils, and sacred places, his ill-concealed dislike of the marriage of ecclesiastics, the ardent and not altogether disinterested zeal with which he asserted the claims of the clergy to the reverence of the laity, would have made him an object of aversion to the Puritans, even if he had used only legal and gentle means for the attainment of his ends. But his understanding was narrow, and his commerce with the world had been small. He was by nature rash, irritable, quick to feel for his own dignity, slow to sympathize with the sufferings of others, and prone to the error, common in superstitious men, of mistaking his own peevish and malignant moods for emotions of pious zeal. Under his direction every corner of the realm was subjected to a constant and minute inspection. Every little congregation of separatists was tracked out and broken up. Even the devotions of private families could not escape the vigilance of his spies. Such fear did his rigor inspire that the deadly hatred of the Church, which festered
* The correspondence of Wentworth seems to me fully to bear out what I have said in the text. To transcribe all the passages which have led me to the conclusion at which I have arrived, would be impossible; nor would it be easy to make a better selection than has already been made by Mr. Hallam. I may, however, direct the attention of the reader particularly to the very able paper which Wentworth drew up respecting the affairs of the Palatinate. The date is March 31, 1637.
t These are Wentworth's own words. See his letter to Laud, dated Dec. 16, 1634.
in innumerable bosoms, was generally disguised under an out
ward show of conformity. On the very eve of troubles, fatal to himself and to his order, the bishops of several extensive dioceses were able to report to him that not a single dissenter was to be found within their jurisdiction.*. The tribunals afforded no protection to the subject against the civil and ecclesiastical tyranny of that period. The judges of the common law, holding their situations during the pleasure of the king, were scandalously obsequious. Yet, obsequious as they were, they were less ready and efficient instruments of arbitrary power than a class of courts, the memory of which is still, after the lapse of more than two centuries, held in deep abhorrence by the nation. Foremost among these courts in power and in infamy were the Star Chamber and the High Commission, the former a political, the latter a religious inquisition. Neither was a part of the old constitution of England. The Star Chamber had been remodelled, and the High Commission created by the Tudors. The power which these boards had possessed before the accession of Charles, had been extensive and formidable; but was small indeed when compared with that which they now usurped. Guided chiefly by the violent spirit of the primate, and freed from the control of parliament, they displayed a rapacity, a violence, a malignant energy, which had been unknown to any former age. The government was able, through their instrumentality, to fine, imprison, pillory, and mutilate without restraint. A separate council which sate at York, under the presidency of Wentworth, was armed, in defiance of law, by a pure act of prerogative, with almost boundless power over the northern counties. All these tribunals insulted and defied the authority of Westminster Hall, and daily committed excesses which the most distinguished royalists have warmly condemned. We are informed by Clarendon that there was hardly a man of note in the realm, who had not personal experience of the harshness and greediness of the Star Chamber, that the High
* See his report to Charles for the year 1639.
Commission had so conducted itself that it had scarce a friend left in the kingdom, and that the tyranny of the Council of York had made the Great Charter a dead letter to the north of the Trent. The government of England was now, in all points but one, as despotic as that of France. But that one point was all important. There was still no standing army. "There was, therefore, no security that the whole fabric of tyranny might not be subverted in a single day. And, if taxes were imposed by the royal authority for the support of an army, it was probable that there would be ap immediate and irresistible explosion. This was the difficulty which more than any other perplexed Wentworth. The Lord Keeper Finch, in concert with other lawyers who were employed by the government, recommended an expedient, which was eagerly adopted. The ancient princes of England, as they called on the inhabitants of the counties near Scotland to arm and array themselves for the defence of the border, had sometimes called on the maritime counties to furnish ships for the defence of the coast. In the room of ships money had sometimes been accepted. This old practice it was now determined, after a long interval, not only to revive, but to extend. Former princes had raised shipmoney only in time of war; it was now exacted in a time of profound peace. Former princes, even in the most perilous wars, had raised ship-money only along the coasts; it was now exacted from the inland shires. Former princes had raised ship-money only for the maritime defence of the country; it was now exacted, by the admission of the royalists themselves, with the object, not of maintaining a navy, but of furnishing the king with supplies which might be increased at his discretion to any amount, and expended at his discretion for any purpose. The whole nation was alarmed and incensed. John Hampden, an opulent and well-born gentleman of Buckinghamshire, highly considered in his own neighborhood, but as yet little known to the kingdom generally, had the courage to step forward, to confront the whole power of the government, and take on himself the cost and the risk of disputing the prerogative to which the king laid claim. The case was argued before the judges in the Exchequer Chamber. So strong were the arguments against the pretensions of the crown that, dependent and servile as the judges were, the majority against Hampden was the smallest possible. Still there was a majority. The interpreters of the law had pronounced that one great and productive tax might be imposed by the royal authority. Wentworth justly observed that it was impossible to vindicate their judgment except by reasons directly leading to a conclusion which they had not ventured to draw. If money might legally be raised without the consent of parliament for the support of a fleet, it was not easy to deny that money might, without consent of parliament, be legally raised for the support of an army. The decision of the judges increased the irritation of the people. A century earlier, irritation less serious would have produced a general rising. But discontent did not now so readily as in former ages take the form of rebellion. The nation had been long steadily advancing in wealth and in civilization. Since the great northern earls took up arms against Elizabeth seventy years had elapsed; and during those seventy years there had been no civil war. Never, during the whole existence of the English nation, had so long a period passed without intestine hostilities. Men had become accustomed to the pursuits of peaceful industry, and, exasperated as they were, hesitated long before they drew the sword. This was the conjuncture at which the liberties of our country were in the greatest peril. The opponents of the government began to despair of the destiny of their country; and many looked to the American wilderness as the only asylum in which they could enjoy civil and spiritual freedom. There a few resolute Puritans who, in the cause of their religion, feared neither the rage of the ocean nor the hardships of uncivilized life, neither the fangs of savage beasts nor the tomahawks of more savage men, had built, amidst the primeval forest, villages which are now great and opulent cities, but which have, through every change, retained some trace of the Sharacter derived from their founders. The government regarded these infant colonies with aversion, and attempted violently to stop the stream of emigration, but could not prevent the population of New England from being largely recruited by stout-hearted and God-fearing men from every part of the old England. And now Wentworth exulted in the near prospect of Thorough. A few years might probably suffice for the execution of his great design. If strict economy were observed, if all collision with foreign powers were carefully avoided, the debts of the crown would be cleared off; there would be funds available for the support of a large military
force; and that force would soon break the refractory spirit of the nation. At this crisis an act of insane bigotry suddenly changed the whole face of public affairs. Had the king been wise he would have pursued a cautious and soothing policy towards Scotland till he was master in the south. For Scotland was of all his kingdoms that in which there was the greatest risk that a spark might produce a flame, and that a flame might become a conflagration. Constitutional opposition, indeed, such as he had encountered at Westminster, he had not to apprehend at Edinburgh. The parliament of his northern kingdom was a very different body from that which bore the same name in England. It was ill constituted; it was little considered ; and it had never imposed any serious restraint on any of his predecessors, The three estates sate in one house. The commissioners of the burghs were considered merely as retainers of the great nobles. No act could be introduced till it had been approved by the Lords of Articles, a committee which was really, though not in form, nominated by the crown. But, though the Scottish parliament was obsequious, the Scottish people had always been singularly turbulent and ungovernable. They had butchered their first James in his bed-chamber: they had repeatedly arrayed themselves in arms against James the Second : they had slain James the Third on the field of battle : their disobedience had broken the heart of James the Fifth : they had deposed and imprisoned Mary: they had led her son captive : and their temper was still as intractable as ever. Their habits were rude and martial. All along the southern border, and all along the line between the highlands and the lowlands, raged an incessant predatory war. In every part of the country men were accustomed to redress their wrongs by the strong hand. Whatever loyalty the nation had anciently felt to the royal house had cooled during the long absence of two sovereigns. The supreme influence over the public mind was divided between two classes of malcontents, the lords of the soil and the preachers; lords animated by the same spirit which had often impelled the old Douglasses to withstand the old Stuarts, and preachers who had inherited the republican opinions and the unconquerable spirit of Knox. Both the national and religious feelings of the population had been wounded. All orders of men complained that their country, that country which had, with so much glory, defended her