Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

than they were before.” The most singular arguments were adduced in favour of this addition; for instance: that otherwise the children of Irish rebels could not have been confined in the Tower for life. Still more must we be surprised that Sir Edward Coke observed on this occasion, that this had been for the benefit of the children so confined, for otherwise they would have become Catholics. Thus, the most zealous friends of civil liberty often conducted themselves in those times as the bitterest enemies of religious liberty. After the debates were concluded, Mr. Glanville explained the views and motives of the Lower House to the House of Lords, and said, among other observations, “We have wished and will wish nothing but what obedient and loyal subjects may ask, and what a gracious and just King is able to grant. For, as we require certain liberties for ourselves, so we acknowledge the great and legal prerogatives of the King, and do not think to diminish them.” Then came the proof, that the addition proposed by the Lords was either unnecessary or insignificant, or contrary to the main object. The power of the King is regulated by the laws, and the Commons would by no means argue that they might be dispensed with in certain cases, depending on the King's opinion alone. The admirable and thorough explanation of Glanville induced the Lords unanimously to withdraw their addition, and the petition of right received the assent of both Houses. The following is the substance of it. I. No taxes, loans, benevolencies, &c., shall be ordered and levied without the consent of Parliament. II. No person shall be arrested, condemned, or deprived of his property, without the allegation of the reasons, according to the laws of the land, and by judgment of his peers. III. Soldiers shall not be arbitrarily billeted on the citizens, contrary to the laws, and no citizen shall be tried and punished by martial law. IV. No one may interrupt or suspend the course of the laws in individual cases, or create extraordinary courts of justice. After some further attempts of the King entirely, to prevent this bill had failed, it was presented to him on the 2d of June, 1628, and he answered, “It is my will that justice be administered according to the laws and customs of the kingdom, and that my subjects have no ground to complain of a violation of their true liberties, to the preservation of which I feel myself in my conscience as much bound as to the maintenance of my prerogatives.” This answer did not advance the business in any manner, because it was not in a Parliamentary form, by which a bill is converted into a law. Meantime, impatient at the complaints which were made on

this occasion in the Lower House, the King ordered them not to discuss things which implied or might lead to reproaches against him, his government, or the officers of state, but to terminate their business without delay, it being his intention to dissolve the Parliament on the 11th of June. This command, which fixed an arbitrary limit to the proceedings of Parliament, or appeared to reduce them to mere passive grants of money, excited so much astonishment and such deep felt grief, that it was a long time before any one ventured to break silence. At length John Elliot said, “Our sins must be very great, for with what zeal and what affection have we endeavoured to gain the heart of the King. False reports must have drawn upon us this mark of his displeasure.” At this moment, just as Elliot was going to enter into a more particular discussion of the conduct of the ministers, Mr. Allen, the Speaker, very unexpectedly declared that he had orders to interrupt every one who should speak unfavorably of persons in the King's service. On which Dudley Diggs exclaimed, “If we are not to speak of such things in Parliament, we had better go home than remain mute and idle here.” Nathaniel Rich said, “We must not be silent, for we might indeed thereby save ourselves, but plunge the King and State into ruin, we must, together with the Lords, present our remonstrance to the King.” “The King,” continued Kirton, “is

[ocr errors]

as good a King as ever was, but the enemies of the State have prevailed with him, to extirpate whom, it is to be hoped, there will be no want of hearts, arms, and swords.” “It is not the King,” said Coke, “who forbids us to discuss the affairs of State, but the Duke of Buckingham.” “What object have we had,” said Robert Phillips, “but to serve the King and to make him great and glorious? If this is a crime, we are all, without exception, guilty. What shall we do if all our humble representations are of no avail, the object of which was not to cast reflections on the government, but truly to acquaint the King of the dangers which threaten him and us. We are compelled to act in this manner by our indisputable duty to the King, the country, and posterity; and if we may be interrupted in such a manner, we must cease to be even a council. I consider that answer as the most afflicting message, and as the greatest loss in the world. Let us, however, continue to be wise and humble, and submit a fair declaration to the King.”

Hereupon it was resolved that no Member of Parliament had lost sight of the respect which was due to the King. But before the further discussions, which were chiefly directed against Buckingham, were terminated, a royal order came for both Houses to adjourn immediately. A subsequent very vague declaration of Charles was the less calculated to satisfy the House of Commons, because

it had received news of the raising of troops in foreign parts. Charles, therefore, and his favorite, at length thought, that, not entirely to lose the supplies, and to prevent an accusation of the Duke, the refusal hitherto made should be revoked. On the 8th of June, after a new representation from the Commons, the King called both Houses and said, “My former answer was so maturely weighed and approved by so many prudent persons, that I could by no means conjecture it would not satisfy you. To avoid, however, every equivocal interpretation, and to shew you that I have no reservation, I will satisfy you with respect to the words as well as the substance.” After the Bill had been again read, the King gave his sanction by the customary and legal form, soit fait comme il est desiré. He then added, “This sanction contains no more than I meant to give by the preceding; for it was intended to include in it all your liberties, as, according to your own assurance, you neither can nor will abridge my prerogatives. My principle is that the liberties of a people always strengthen the rights of a King, and that the latter are chiefly intended to defend the former. You now see how ready I have always been to fulfil your wishes, on my side I have done what depends on me, and if the Parliament should notwithsanding not end happily, it will be your fault and not mine.” As a proof of its unmixed joy and gratitude, the

« EdellinenJatka »