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ing character of the favourite of Charles the First, who had in vain at tempted to become the favourite of the world ! Had Buckinghain escaped from the knife of the assassin, he would most probably have preceded Stafford and Laud to the scaffold. He was not that spiritless and corrupt favourite who could have crept into obscurity.”
BORN A. D. 1600.-DIED A. D. 1649.
CHARLES, the second son of James I. of England, and Anne of Denmark, ascended the throne in his 25th year.
The first object which engrossed the attextion of the new king was his marriage with Henrietta of France. On the third day after the decease of his father, he ratified the treaty to which he had formerly subscribed, and appointed the duke of Chevreuse to act as his proxy at Paris, whither the duke of Buckingham hastened with a magnificent retinue to bring home the royal bride. At Dover, the queen was received by Charles and the English nobility, and the contract of marriage having been renewed at Canterbury, the royal couple proceeded to Hampton palace.
The day after their majesties' arrival, Charles met his first parliament. Hume informs us that the king's discourse to the parliament, on this occasion, 'was full of simplicity and cordiality ; that he lightly mentioned the occasion which he had for supply ; that he employed no intrigue to influence the suffrages of the men bers; that he would not even allow the officers of the crown, who huu seats in the house, to mention any particular sum which might be expected by him ; that, secure of the affections of the commons, he was resolved that their bounty should be entirely their own deed,—unasked, unsolicited,—the genuine fruits of sincere confidence and regard. All this is very artfully said by the apologetical historian ; but one is naturally led to ask at this stage of Charles's history what he had done to authorise him to reckon so securely on the confidence and regard' of his faithful commons. He had already adopted his father's detested favourite as his own bosomfriend, and was known to have his mind completely under Bucking ham's influence ; he had used the very first hours of his sovereignty to make a catholic princess a sharer of his throne, in despite of the expressed wishes of the nation; he knew also that the condition under which the last subsidies had been granted, namely, that their outlay should be controlled by parliamentary commissioners, had never been complied with ; and, in the knowledge of this fact, he came forward and solicited another subsidy, without once adverting to the appointment of commissioners ; moreover, he had hastily called together this parliament, at a time when a fearful plague was devastating London, and consequently, under circumstances which rendered protracted discussion impracticable, and plainly indicated his wish to avoid any thing like discussion upon the question of subsidies. Surely, in all this there was little to win either sincere confidence' or 'regard.'
• Commentaries, vol. II, p. 178.
The commons granted two subsidies, amounting together to £112,000. This was liberal enough, considering their experience of the past, and the fact that no commissioners yet existed to control the expenditure of the national supplies. It was insufficient, however, for Charles's wants ; and the parliament met again, after a short recess at Oxford. We have already, in our introductory sketch, adverted to Charles's disgraceful conduct in endeavouring to aid the French king against his protestant subjects at Rochelle. But, besides this infamous transaction, Charles had contrived, before the re-assembling of parliament to furnish his subjects with fresh grounds of suspicion and complaint, in his refusal to dismiss one of his chaplains, Montague, who had written a book in which, besides indulging in the most furious invective against the puritan party, he had become an apologist for the church of Rome, and evidently aimed at recommending a reunion betwixt the churches of Rome and England. Hume and Lingard affect to sneer at the bigotry which prompted Charles's commons to find fault with Montague's book and admire the king's complaisance in returning a gracious answer to the remonstrance of his parliament. Of course, these historians would equally admire the conduct of Charles, iņ soon after bestowing a bishopric upon Montague. They are perpetually enlarging upon the fanaticism of the times, as if that were the source of all the king's and all the nation's misfortunes, and as if the times of Charles formed the most illiberal epoch of English history. They evidently overlook the mighty difference which exists between the relative state of popery and protestantism in the days of puritanism and in our own. Popery was not then as it now is, a politically innoxious thing. The transactions of St Bartholomew's day, the wars of the League, the fires of Smithfield, the armada of Spain, the gunpowder treason, were then events but of yesterday; while an exterminating war was at the moment actually raging against protestantism in France. When we add to this that a bigotted catholic princess already shared the throne of England, -a priest, more than half-papist, exercised the primacy,-a nuncio from the pope resided in England,—and men of popish persuasion and feelings sat at the council board of the nation, need we wonder to hear of complaints against popery,' and 'suspicions of popish faction ? Unquestionably, there was a good deal of religious zeal at work throughout the country, but never did that powerful and noble principle exert itself with more uniform respect to the rights of conscience and the liberties of mankind.
“ It was not,” Lingard justly remarks, “ the character of the king to be diverted from his purpose by opposition." He was bent on war with Spain, and to gratify bis wishes in this respect he now had recourse to a forced loan. Among other illegal means resorted to, the duties on merchandise were levied, though the bill had not passed the house of lords. But if these measures disgusted the nation, the management and result of the expedition was not less unfavourable to Charles's popularity. It was placed under the command of Sir Edward Cecil, now created Lord Wimbledon, an officer whom the public voice pronounced unfit for the charge. It reached its first destination, Cadiz, but it neither succeeded in taking that city, nor in intercepting a rich convoy of Spanish merchantmen from the West Indies, which passed unobserved during the Charles had now to face another parliament, from which he had still less reason than ever to expect a favourable reception. With the infa. tuation which ever marked his proceedings, he made preparations for meeting his commons by forcing the earl of Pembroke to an affected reconciliation with Buckingham,—taking the seals from the lord-keeper, Williams, whose opposition to the duties bill had offended him, and bestowing them upon Sir Thomas Coventry, and endeavouring to withdraw the more efficient members of the opposition from the house of commons, by pricking them sheriffs of counties. The members thus distinguished were seven in number, namely, Sir Edward Coke, Sir Thomas Wentworth, Sir Francis Seymour, Sir Robert Philips, Sir Grey Palmer, Sir William Fleetwood, and Edward Alford. Of these Coke alone availed himself of the suggestion of their party that, though as sheriff's they could not be returned for places within their respective shires, yet they might sit as the representatives of other counties or boroughs.
Nothing could be more erroneous than Charles's notions of the nature and privileges of the English parliament. He desired the house “to remember that parliaments were altogether in his power, for their calling, sitting, and dissolution, and therefore, as he found the fruits of them good or evil, they were to continue or not to be.” He did not hesitate to rebuke his commons for daring to “meddle with matters far above their reach and capacity." And he asserted, in opposition to the protest of the commons, that he was “ free and able to punish any man's misdemeanours in parliament, as well during their sitting as after.” But, preposterous as these notions were, Charles had not been left to form them wholly for himself. We have already seen his father advance his claim to absolute authority. His own chaplains were perpetually prating about the jus divinum of kings. Dr Sibthorpe hesitated not to say, " that if princes command any thing which suljects may not perform, because it is against the laws of God, or of nature, or impossible, yet subjects are bound to undergo the punishment without either resisting or reviling, and to yield a passive obedience where they cannot exhibit an active one.” Dr Mainwaring went a step farther and said, “the king is not bound to observe the laws of the realm concerning the subjects' rights and liberties, but that his royal will and command, in imposing loans and taxes, without common consent in parliament, doth oblige the subjects' conscience, on pain of damnation !
At Candlemas the king was crowned, and four days later he met the new parliament. Two things were remarked on this occasion. When the people were called upon to testify, by their general acclamation, their consent to have Charles for their sovereign, they remained silent till the earl-marshal desired them to shout; and the anointing was perforni ed behind a traverse by Archbishop Abbot, so that it was not witnessed by the assembly. It is also said that an attempt was made by Laud, then bishop of Bath and Wells, and officiating as dean of Westminster, to alter the form of engagement pronounced by the king. The phrase quas vulgus elegerit leges, was supplied by another which hinted at a dis. pensing power in the crown, salvo prerogatiro regali. The commons voted three subsidies at their new meeting, but declined to give their vote the efficacy of a law until their grievances were taken into consideration by the king and council. Charles resented this by threats, and talked of trying 'new counsels,'-language, the full import of which the vice-chamberlain, Sir Dudley Carleton, besought the louse warily to consider before they drew upon themselves all that was implied in it. Meanwhile, Charles, bent upon his own ruin, placed himself in direct collision with both houses of parliament. He imprisoned the earls of Arundel and Bristol, and likewise Digges and Elliot, members of the lower house, the leaders in the now revived impeachment of Buckingham. To the embarrassments in which Charles's determined defence of his minion involved him, were soon added a succession of domestic quarrels with his young queen. “ The king complained of the caprice and petulance of his wife; the queen of the morose and antigallican disposition of her husband. He attributed their disagreement to the discontent of her French attendants; she and her relations to the interested suggestions of Buckingham.”? The dismissal of the whole French household of the queen followed. This act was resented as a great indignity by Louis; but the ambassador extraordinary, Bassompierre, at last patched up terms of reconciliation betwixt both courts, and betwixt Charles and his consort. A new establishment was formed partly of French, partly of English servants; and a bishop, a confessor, and ten priests were allowed to Henrietta, who thenceforward exerted a great and pernicious influence over her husband's councils. In 1628, Charles, urged by his pecuniary necessities, again ventured to assemble parliament. This led to the celebrated petition of right, to which we have largely adverted in our introductory sketch.
' D'Ewes Letter in Ellis, iii. 214.
The assassination of his favourite, Buckingham, was a source of sincere and profound grief to Charles. He immediately took the duke's widow and children under his own protection; he paid his debts, amounting to £61,000; he styled him the martyr of his sovereign ; and ordered his remains to be deposited in Westminster abbey. The death of Buckingham made way for Laud, who now gained an ascendancy in his sovereign's counsels, which was destined to prove as fatal to the interests both of sovereign and people as that which had been hitherto exercised by Villiers. The new counsellor soon plunged his master into a new train of difficulties by his intolerant and unjustifiable proceedings against dissenters; and by the ample grounds which his conduct afforded for suspecting him and Charles of a design to introduce popish tenets and ceremonies into the national church.
Iu 1633, Charles, in imitation of his father, resolved to pay a personal visit to his Scottish dominions. Accompanied by a gallant train of nobility, he arrived in Edinburgh on the 12th of June, that year, and was crowned king of Scotland by the archbishop of St Andrews on the 18th of the same month. On the 20th, he opened the Scottish parliainent, which, after some opposition, passed an act which gave him the
? Lingard, vol. vi. p. 460.
$ The following is the letter from the king to the duke of Buckingham, for the final driving away of the Monsieurs :“Steenie, 'I have received your letter by Dic Grame. This is my answer.
I command you to send all the French away to-morrow out of the toune, if you can, by fair m.eans, (but stike not long in disputing,) otherwise force them away lyke so many wyld beastes, until ye have shipped them and so the devill goe with them! Lete me here uo answer but of the performance of my command.”
power of regulating the habits of the clergy. Lord Balmerino, for har. ing in his possession a copy of a petition against this and other obnoxious acts, was tried and condemned by a packed jury; but apprehension of a popular tumult compelled the king to spare his life. Charles next proceeded to introduce a new liturgy, similar to that of the church of England, but approximating still nearer to the catholic forms. This last measure, one of Charles's apologists allows, was very ill-timed.' It was resisted by the whole population of the country, and led to the famous solemn league and covenant which was now drawn up and signed by more than thirty peers, and a great majority of the gentry of Scotland. Nothing could be more weak and more deceitful than Charles's whole conduct towards his Scottish subjects at this time. He first attempted to terrify the malcontents into silence, and then sent the marquess of Hamilton to negotiate with the leaders of the covenant until his preparations for introducing an army into Scotland could be completed. Several of Charles's letters to Hamilton are still extant,5 in which he instructs the commissioner to flatter the covenanters with what hopes he pleases, until the royal fleet should have set sail. Yet Hume will represent Charles as one of the most 'candid, sincere, and upright' of men. The king's preparations were slow, and Hamilton endeavoured to amuse the Scots a little longer with a sham covenant, which was indignantly rejected by the nation. He then attempted to dissolve the general assembly, which had been convoked by his own orders, but was proving less manageable than he could have wishied; but the assembly maintained its own right of sitting, and proceeded to abolish episcopacy of its own authority. Hamilton was succeeded by Traquair as commissioner, for Charles found himself wholly unable to subdue his Scottish subjects by force of arms. Traquair prorogued the parliament, which obeyed the order, but protested against it, and sent commissioners to London for that purpose. Charles immediately threw the Scottish deputies into prison, and put his army in motion ; but the Scots passed the Tweed, routed Lord Conway at Newburn on the Tyne, and took Newcastle. The humbled monarch was now compelled to negotiate with his Scottish subjects.
The proceedings of the long parliament have been already related in our introductory sketch. The impeachment and execution of Strafford, which forms another important chapter in Charles's life, will be related in our sketch of that minister. After the passing of the bill, declaring parliament indissoluble except by its own consent, and the bills for the abolition of the star-chamber and high-commission courts, the Scots returned to their homes, Charles having previously disbanded the Irish army which he had raised for the purpose of invading Scotland. Hume is pleased to represent Charles as now determining to revisit Scotland with an intention of abdicating almost entirely the small share of power which there remained to him, and of giving full satisfaction, if possible, to his restless subjects in that kingdom.” All this sounds well, but is founded only on the historian's knowledge of what was in Charles's heart at the time. It is true, indeed, that he did make some concessions to his Scottish subjects on this occasion ; he appointed Henderson his head-chaplain ; he divided the revenues of
• Howel's State Trials, vol. iji. p. 591–712.