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" not endure the least breach or deviation from them; “ and thought no mischief so intolerable as the pre“ sumption of Ministers of State to break positive rules “ for reasons of State, or judges to transgress known “ laws upon the title of conveniency or necessity.”? But whilst Lord Clarendon acquits his friend of every tinge of personal hostility in the severity of his judgment against the Earl of Strafford and Lord Finch, he speaks of his having been “misled by the authority of “ those who, he believed, understood the laws perfectly.” If Lord Falkland's opinions, however, were unsound on these subjects, it must be observed that they were fully shared by Mr. Hyde, at least with regard to Lord Finch and the Judges, and sanctioned by the House of Commons. They acted together throughout that business; and Lord Clarendon, in reviewing the evils that the Crown and State sustained by the deserved reproach and infamy that attended the Judges, in being made use of in this and like acts of power, thus forcibly expresses himself :-“ Imminent necessity and public “ safety were convincing persuasions, and it might not " seem of apparent ill consequence to the people that “ upon an emergent occasion the royal power should “ fill up an hiatus or supply an impotency in the law. “ But when they saw in a court of law (that law " that gave them title to and possession of all that they “had) reason of State urged as elements of law, judges “as sharp-sighted as Secretaries of State and in the “ mysteries of State; judgment of law grounded upon
· Hist. of the Rebellion, vol. iv. p. 245.
CHAP. II. EFFECTS OF THE JUDGES' SUBSERVIENCY.
“ matter of fact of which there was neither inquiry nor “proof; and no reason given for the payment of the “ 30s. in question, but what included the estates of all “ the standers-by; they had no reason to hope that the “ doctrine or the promoters of it would be contained “ within any bounds.” Nor does he scruple to attribute “ the exorbitancy of the House of Commons in their next “ Parliament principally to their contempt of the laws “ which the scandal of this judgment ” had produced.' Such were the just remarks called forth from the historian of his own times, by the recollection of events which he had witnessed, by the impression which they had made on himself and his contemporaries, and by the experience of the unfortunate influence which they exercised on the subsequent conduct of affairs.
Hist of the Rebellion, vol. i. pp. 123, 124.
Petitions against the Bishops — Debate in the House of Commons on
Episcopal Government - Speech of Lord Falkland — Measures in progress respecting Episcopacy — their Nature — Proceedings thereon in both Houses - Lord Falkland's course in reference to them - He differs from Mr. Hyde.
The accusation of Lord Keeper Finch was but one step on the path that was now pursued by those strenuous supporters of legal and constitutional rights who determined to resist the undue exercise of power in Church and State to which the lofty pretensions of the Crown and the long absence of Parliament had mainly contributed. The impeachment of Strafford had taken place as early as the 11th of November. In the first week in December Mr. Secretary Windebank received notice to appear at the House of Commons, to answer such questions as should be propounded to him upon information there delivered against him ; but Secretary Windebank conceived it safer to elude than to meet his difficulties, and accordingly, when he was called for and expected to appear, it was discovered that he had already fled beyond sea.
Wren, Bishop of Ely, was impeached; and on the 18th of December Laud was voted by the House of Commons to be a traitor. Lord Clarendon speaks of the unfavourable opinion that Lord Falkland enter
tained of the Archbishop, but there is no proof that he took part in his impeachment. His opinion on the use and abuse of episcopacy was fully developed in his speech delivered on that subject on the 9th of February, 1640-1. Petitions numerously signed had been presented to Parliament on the 11th, 12th, 19th, and 23rd of December, from London, from Kent, from Gloucester, and from certain ministers of the Church, all alleging their manifold grievances from the oppression of the Bishops, and praying for the abolition of episcopaey. The grievances complained of in the different petitions generally agree, and are reasserted with great boldness in the speeches of those who supported their object, whilst so much of their truth is admitted by those who warmly opposed the prayer of the petitions, as leaves no doubt of the serious provocation received at the hands of a despotic hierarchy.'
The London petition was signed by 15,000 people, and contained an elaborate detail of the causes of complaint divided into twenty-eight articles. There is so much inequality in the gravity of some of the charges as compared with others, that the more trivial must be
? Lord Digby spoke in strong and even contemptuous terms of many articles in the London petition, yet he scrupled not to declare “ there “ was no man within those walls more sensible of the heavy grievances “ of Church government, nor whose affections were keener to the clipping “ of the wings of the prelates, whereby they have mounted to such inso“ lencies ; nor whose zeal was more ardent to the searing them so as they “ may never spring again.” He acknowledges “that no people have ever “ been more provoked than the generality of England of late years by the " insolencies and exorbitancies of these prelates.” He even speaks of the practices of these Churchmen as seeming “a scourge employed by “ God upon us for the sins of the nation.”—Rushworth, Coll., vol. iv. pp. 170-172.
taken rather as proofs of the irritation excited by real grievances and fear of further usurpation, than as being deemed by the petitioners of equal importance in themselves. The revival of particular forms in worship, the peculiar cut of vestments, the internal arrangement and decoration of the churches, the introduction of pictures, candlesticks, and images on the Communion table, the selling of crucifixes, the strict observance of saints' days, the publication of some books deemed too light for edification, and the hindering of others from being printed which were held as “godly,” could never have found their place by the side of charges that most deeply affected the civil and religious condition of the Church of England, had they not been viewed as so many indications of a design to assimilate and reunite with the Church of Rome, then declared by the prelates, in defiance of the 19th Article of their own Church, “ never to have erred in fundamentals.”! Any alteration of external forms or observances is justly regarded with jealousy when it is suspected as a part of some deeper and more extensive change; and although posterity may differ as to the amount of real danger of reunion with the Church of Rome, no one can calmly look back to the overgrown power of episcopal government, its assumption of divine authority, its independence and defiance of civil authority, its imposition of new oaths and frequent exercise of the terrors of excommunication, without admitting that there was reasonable ground for alarm in the tendency
Rushworth, vol. iv. p. 6.