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enemy; he, the King, thought that it was more honorable for a sovereign to be attacked, nay, entirely destroyed, than to be despised by his subjects. Consider, (so Charles concluded his address,) that the calling, the duration, and dissolution of Parliament, depend entirely on my power; accordingly, therefore, as I find them to produce good or evil fruit, they will continue or cease to be. These declarations, which not only called in question some hitherto undisputed rights of the Parliament, but threatened the annihilation of the main foundations of the English Constitution, gave rise to such loud complaints, both in and out of Parliament, that he caused his own speech and that of the Lord Keeper, to be explained by Buckingham in a more temperate sense. The King, said the Duke to the House of Commons, would grant more time for deliberation, and had fixed so short a time only on account of the urgent necessity of the case; nor would he interrupt their enquiry into grievances; only he wished them to abide by the course followed by their predecessors, and not to look after defects so much, as for means to remedy them. The Commons, in their answer of the 5th of April, refuted each of the accusations made against them, proved their right to accuse persons in office, and promised speedily to take some resolution respecting the supplies, though, according to ancient custom, this was always the last business to which
Parliament attended. They besides begged the King not to give ear to any insinuations, and not to judge of their conduct while matters were still under consideration and incomplete, but to wait for the end, which would satisfy him of their loyalty and attachment.
About this time, when many persons hoped that all parties would follow the right middle course which had been pointed out, various circumstances and ill-judged measures concurred to increase the public discontent. Lord Bristol, who had been kept in prison for two years on account of his conduct in Spain, without any legal proceedings having been commenced against him, complained to the House of Lords that no summons had been sent to him to attend its sittings. On the intervention of the Lords a summons was sent to him: the Lord Keeper, however, added, the King wished he should make no use of it, but, under some pretext, keep away from the House. Lord Bristol sent this letter to the House of Lords, with an observation that his old enemy, Buckingham, had obtained this demand, but that he intended to prove that the Duke had done wrong to the present and to the late King, to the State, and to the Parliament. The King and his favorite were so indignant at this boldness, that an accusation of high treason was made, in his Majesty's name, against Lord Bristol, which he victoriously refuted.
VOL. I. I i
This affair encouraged the House of Commons to draw up articles of impeachment against Buckingham, and to present them, on the 8th of May, to the Upper House. The chief articles referred to the union of many offices in his person, ill conduct of the war, extortion, the sale of judicial offices, the procuring of titles of honour for his relations, the squandering of the public money, his presumption in administering medicine to King James, &c.(*) Buckingham was certainly able to refute some of the articles of accusation. Yet the Commons justly felt that the whole administration had taken a bad direction, of which Buckingham was the chief cause, and that the responsibility of ministers is often greater in reference to certain errors which lead to important results, than in respect to isolated crimes.
The King caused two members of the House of Commons, Messrs. Diggs and Elliot, to be arrested, because they had expressed themselves in an unbecoming manner respecting him, on the presentation of the articles of impeachment against Buckingham to the Upper House.() It appeared, however, from the investigation, that false reports had been made to the King, and he was obliged to set the two members at liberty.
On the other side, a Mr. Moore was thrown into prison by the House of Commons, on a complaint by the King, because he had said, “We are free, and must remain so, if the King will preserve his kingdom.” After discussing what a tyrant can do, he had, however, added, “Thank God, we have no cause to fear any thing of the kind, we have a pious and just King.” Four days afterwards, Charles granted the release of Moore, but had, in the mean time, involved himself in a dispute with the House of Lords, by committing the Earl of Arundel to the Tower, without examination, and without assigning any reason. The Lords declared that such conduct was not allowable, and could not be adopted except in cases of high treason, or when a person refused to give security for his conduct. Though everybody knew that Charles was angry with the Earl, merely on account of some expressions in the House of Lords, the King affirmed that he had sufficient reason, and would one day make it known. If the Lords believed and called him a gracious King, they ought to confide in him. This turn and conclusion appeared so unsatisfactory to the House of Lords, the violation of judicious laws was so evident, and the danger to the safety of all so great, that the House resolved, on the 2d of June, since every remonstrance was disregarded, not to enter upon any other matter till this was settled. Thus the King found himself obliged to give up his precipitate resolution, and to set the Earl at liberty on the 8th of June.
On the same day Buckingham defended himself before the House of Lords, and on the following day the King again called on the Commons to hasten the supply. He said, “That in case of their refusal or longer delay, he must call God to witness that he was not to blame.” The Commons drew up an answer, in which they justified their conduct; objected to the levying of tonnage and poundage, and requested the dismissal of Buckingham. But before they could present it, or the Lords make an urgent application to the King for the prolongation of the Parliament, he dissolved it on the 15th of June, and endeavoured to justify his conduct by a public declaration. The dissolution of the first Parliament, he said, took place chiefly because contagious diseases were then spreading: to the second Parliament, the King had stated the existing dangers and the pressing wants of the Treasury. But instead of considering of means to remedy them, the Commons suffered themselves to be misled by some violent men, who had in view only their personal plans and objects; and after the receipt of the last royal letter, had caused a remonstrance to be drawn up, which unjustly accused a peer of the realm, offended the dignity of the King and his father, and contained a complete denial of all supplies. The King hence found himself compelled, after mature deliberation, to dissolve the Parliament.