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lord-keeper to command the commons expressly in his name not to meddle with his minister and servant Buckingham. The more to enrage them, he had him elected chancellor of the university of Cambridge, and wrote that body a letter of thanks for their compliance. He assured the commons, that if they would not comply with his demands, he would try new counsels. But what justly enraged them beyond all sufferance, was, when two of their members, sir Dudley Digges and sir John Elliot, complained of this partiality in favour of a man odious to the nation, the king ordered both to be committed, to prison for seditious behaviour. This was an open act of violence, and should have been supported, or never attempted. It was now that the commons justly exclaimed that their privileges were infringed, and all freedom of debate destroyed. They protested in the most solemn manner, that neither of their members had said any thing disrespectful of the king ; and they made preparations for publishing their vindication. The king, whose character it was to show a readiness to undertake harsh measures, but not to support them, released the two members; and this compliance confirmed that obstimacy in the house which his injuries had contributed to give rise to. The earl of Arundel, for being guilty of the same offence in the house of lords, was rashly imprisoned, and as tamely dismissed by the king. Thus, the two houses having refused to answer the intentions of the court without previous conditions, the king, rather than give up his favourite, chose to be without the supply, and therefore once more dissolved the parliament. The new counsels which Charles had mentioned to the parliament were now to be tried, in order to supply his necessities. Instead of making peace with Spain, and thus trying to abridge his expenses, since he could not enlarge his income, he resolved to carry on the war, and to keep up a standing army for this purpose. Perhaps, also, he had a farther view in keeping his army in pay, which was to seize upon the liberty of his subjects, when he found matters ripe for the execution. But at present his forces were new levied, ill-paid, and worse disciplined; so that the militia of the country, that could be instantly led out against him, were far his superiors. In order, therefore, to gain time and money, a commission was openly granted to compound with the catholics, and agree for a dispensation of the penal laws against them. He borrowed a sum of money from the nobility, whose contributions came in but slowly, But the greatest stretch of his power was in the levying of ship-money. In order to equip a fleet (at least this was the pretence made), every maritime town was required, with the assistance of the adjacent counties, to arm a certain number of vessels. The city of London was rated at twenty ships. This was the commencement of a tax, which afterwards, being carried to very violent lengths, created such great discontent in the nation. But the extortions of the ministry did not rest here. Persons of birth and rank, who refused the loan, were summoned before the council; and, upon persisting in a refusal, were put into confinement. Thus we see here, as in every civil war, something to blame on one side and the other; both sides guilty of injustice, yet each actuated by general motives of virtue; the one contending for the inherent liberties of mankind, the other for the prescriptive privileges of the crown; both driven to all the extremes of falsehood, rapine, and injustice, and, by a fate attendant on humanity, permitting their actions to degenerate from the motives which first set them in motion. Hitherto the will of the monarch was reluctantly obeyed: most of those who refused to lend their money were thrown into prison, and patiently submitted to confinement, or applied by petition to the king for their release. Five persons alone undertook to defend the cause of the public; and, at the hazard of their whole fortunes, were resolved to try whether the king legally had a right to confine their persons without an infringement of any law. The names of these patriots were sir Thomas Darnel, sir John Corbet, sir Walter Earl, sir John Heveningham, and sir Edward Hampden. Their cause was brought to a solemn trial before the King's Bench, and the whole kingdom was attentive to the result of so important a trial. By the debates on this subject it appeared Nov. that personal liberty had been secured by no 1626. less then six different statutes, and by an article of the Great Charter itself; that in times of turbulence and sedition, the princes infringed those laws; and of this also many examples were produced. The difficulty then lay to determine when such violent measures were expedient; but of that the court pretended to be the supreme judge. As it was legal, therefore, that these five gentlemen should plead the statute, by which they might demand bail, so it was expedient in the court to remand them to prison, without determining on the necessity of taking bail for the present. This was a cruel evasion of justice, and, in fact, satisfied neither the court nor the country party. The court insisted that no bail could be taken: the country exclaimed that the prisoners should be set free. The king being thus embroiled with his parliament, his people, and some of the most powerful foreign states, it was not without amazement that all men saw him enter into a war with France, a kingdom with A. D. which he had but lately formed the most natural 1627.
alliance. This monarch, among the foibles of a good disposition, relied too much on the sincerity of his servants; and, among others, permitted Buckingham to lead him as he thought proper. All historians agree that this minister had conceived hopes of gaining the heart of the queen of France, while, at the same time, cardinal Richelieu aspired to the same honour. The rivalry of these favourites produced an inveterate enmity between them; and, from a private quarrel, they resolved to involve their respective nations in the dispute. However this be, war was declared against France; and Charles was taught to hope, that hostilities with that kingdom would be the surest means of producing unanimity at home. But fortune seemed to counteract all this monarch's attempts. A fleet was sent out, under the command of Buckingham, to relieve Rochelle, a maritime town in France, that had long enjoyed its privileges independent of the French king, but which had for some years embraced the reformed religion, and now was besieged by a formidable army. This expedition was as unfortunate as that on the coast of Spain. The duke's measures were so ill concerted, that the inhabitants of the city shut their gates, and refused to admit allies, of whose coming they were not previously informed. Instead of attacking the island of Oleron, which was fertile and defenceless, he bent his course to the isle of Rhé, which was garrisoned, and well fortified. He attempted there to starve out the garrison of St. Martin's castle, which was copiously supplied with provisions by sea. By that time the French had landed their forces privately at another part of the island; so that Buckingham was at last obliged to retreat with such precipitation, that two thousand of his men were cut to pieces before he could re-embark, though he was the last of the whole army
that quitted the shore. This proof of his personal courage, however, was but a small subject of consolation for the disgrace which his country had sustained; and his own person would have been the last they would have regretted. The bad success of this expedition served to render the duke still more obnoxious, and the king more needy. He therefore resolved to call a third parliament; A. D. for money was to be had at any rate. In his 1628. first speech, he intimated to the two houses, that they were convoked on purpose to grant the supplies; and that, if they should neglect to contribute what was
necessary for the support of the state, he would, in discharge of his conscience, use those means which God
had put into his hands, for saving that which the folly of certain persons would otherwise endanger. But the king did not find his commons intimidated by his threats, or by those of the lord keeper, who commented upon what he said. They boldly inveighed, against his late arbitrary measures, forced loans, benevolences, taxes without consent of parliament, arbitrary imprisonments, billeting soldiers, martial laws; these were the grievances complained of, and against these they insisted that an
eternal remedy should be provided. An immunity.
from these vexations they alleged to be the inherent right of the subject; and their new demands they resolved to call a petition of right, as implying privileges they had already been possessed of. Nothing could be more just than the enactment of the contents of this petition of right. The Great Charter, and the old statutes, were sufficiently clear in favour of liberty; but as all the kings of England, in cases of necessity or expediency, had been accustomed at intervals to elude them ; and as Charles, in a complication of instances, had lately vio
lated them; it was requisite to enact a new law, which