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toleration. But as yet, at least, they had not fallen into the hands of Puritanism. In the next reign we shall perceive how they preserved the same course of consistent and conservative determination to preserve their rights, and how they had already won the amplest guarantees of every right they had asserted, when the pestilent viper of Puritanism, whose clamorous love for freedom is but a devilish, hypocritical mask, assumed to hide its lust of dom. ination, carried on its agitations, till it overthrew the constitution of the kingdom and set up the gentle rule of Cromwell.
THE STUARTS CONTINUED.-CHARLES I.-FIRST THREE PARLIA.
MENTS TO THE PETITION OF RIGHT.
INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS-FIRST PARLIAMENT-CHARLES'S SPEECH-TONNAGE
AND POUNDAGE GRANTED FOR ONE YEAR BY THE COMMONS-ILLEGAL COLLECTIONS OF THEM BY CHARLES-HATRED AGAINST BUCKINGHAM-DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT-EXACTIONS AND FORCED LOANS-SECOND PARLIAMENT-HACGHTINESS OF CHARLES-PREPARATION OF THE COMMONS TO IMPEACH BUCKINGHAM COMMONS PASS SUPPLY BILLS TO BE GRANTED WHEN GRIEVANCES HAVE BEEN HEARD-UNCONDITIONAL SUPPLY DEMANDED-COMMONS' REMONSTRANCES
SPEECH OF CHARLES-COMPLAINT OP GRIEVANCES-SIR PETER HAYMAN-RESO
LUTIONS OF THE COMMONS-ADDRESS TO THE KING THE PETITION OF RIGHT
FIRST AGITATED-CHARLES ENDEAVORS TO PREVENT DISCUSSION, OFFERING HIS ROYAL PROMISE TO MAINTAIN THE CHARTERS-PERMISSION FOR A BILL GIVEN-SPEECHES OF ELLIOT AND COKE-CONFERENCE WITH THE LORDS THEIR PROPOSITION-OUTLINE OF THE PETITION-OHARLES'S AMBIGUOUS ASSENT —CLERICAL POLITICS- DR. MAINWARING-CHARLES FORBIDS CENSURE OF MINISTERS-EXCITEMENT IN THE HOUSE-EXPLANATORY MESSAGE FROM THE
KING-REGULAR AND FINAL PASSAGE OF THE PETITION OF RIGHT-JOY OY
Charles I. ascended the throne on the 27th of March, 1625. His reign is, perhaps, the most exciting in the constitutional history of England : in it the great contest between prerogative and freedom was brought to decision by the ultima ratio of war, followed by the execution of the king. These events long divided the nation into two parties; one of which deprecated the war as a great rebellion, and the execution of the king as sacrilegious parricide : while the other justified the war, as a national and just resistance of arbitrary and illegal power; and the king's execution as the lawful punishment of a tyrant.
It is not necessary to our purpose to follow the course of that memorable bistory through the civil war; but the contest between Charles and his parliaments, prior to the civil war, abounds with events and circumstances that must not be overlooked. The commons then asserted and maintained principles of constitutional freedom with indefatigable perseverance and boldness; and transmitted them to posterity as privileges of Parliament, or in general statutes. Of the latter, the most important is that known as the PETITION OF Right; a landmark of the Constitution, inferior only in importance to Magna Charta and the Confirmatio Chartarum of Edward I. It was the constitutional result of the first three parliaments of Charles; but unlike its great predecessors which were the work of the barons, this proceeded from the commons.
The characteristic feature of Charles's reign, in the relation between him and his first three parliaments, was, on his part, a constant endeavor to obtain supplies without diminishing the absoluteness of his prerogative; on their part, to make the supplies the condition of concessions in favor of civil liberty. He was but twenty-five years of age when he ascended the throne; and, as might have been expected from his education under his father James, he was imbued with the highest notion of his royal power and prerogative. But he had to encounter in Parliament the same band of patriots that had so boldly struggled with his father-the most able and determined men in the nation. Against them, Charles, firm in “the divinity that doth hedge a king,” pitted his friend and favorite the Duke of Buckingham, as his chief minister, a nobleman who had been popular in the latter Parliament of James, but of “ whose exorbitant power and abusive carriage” the Parliament of Charles had conceived the greatest apprehension and dislike.
Charles, moreover, placed himself in a disadvantageous condition for a contest with Parliament, by adopting the war with Spain, which his father had threatened, but which was not yet commenced, for the recovery of the Palatinate; and from which his accession gave him an excuse for withdrawing. By entering into war he increased his necessities to an extent so great that they could not be supplied by the ordinary means of the crown, which had been so reduced as to be barely sufficient for peaceful times ; on the other hand, the people gaining a positive advantage by the withholding of subsidies, their representatives in Parliament could coolly and deliberately pursue their policy of requiring redress of grievances as the condition of supply.
CHARLES'S FIRST PARLIAMENT.
Charles was anxious to assemble Parliament immediately after his accession, in order to obtain supplies for the war; but a plague was raging, and his marriage with the Princess Henrietta Maria of France occupied his attention. Two days after his marriage, on the 18th of June, 1625, Parliament assembled. He opened it in a good-humored speech, in which, referring to the votes of the parliaments of James, he beld the present Parliament responsible for the war; and he reminded them that he was employed by Parliament to advise his father to break off treaties with Spain for peace, and his own match with a Spanish princess.
He was followed by the lord keeper Williams, who explained that the king's main reason for calling the Parliament was to remind them of their engagements for the recovery of the Palatinate and to let them understand that the supplies granted in the last Parliament of James were spent (whereof the account was ready), together with as much more of the king's own revenue. He added that the king desired them to bestow this first meeting on his, or rather on their actions; and the next should be theirs, to be applied to domestic purposes, as soon and as long as they pleased.
The Commons tried to procrastinate. The plague was raging; and they complained that they were distracted from business, by the tolling of the bell every minute whilst they were speaking. They petitioned the king for a recess “ this sickly season." He answered that as soon as he should hear that they were ready with their bills, he would put an end to the session. Next day the Commons passed a bill, granting two entire subsidies. They also passed a bill granting tonnage and poundage for one year, instead of for life, and thus opened an unceasing dispute between the king and the Parliament. The Lords, on the ground that former grants to the king's predecessors had been for life, refused their consent to the bill, and Charles caused the duties to be collected without any parliamentary authority.
The Parliament adjourned on the 11th of July, on account of the plague; it reassembled in August at Oxford, in the great hall of Christ Church. The king again addressed them, and reminded them of their obligations to provide for the war. His secretaries informed the House of Commons that the two subsidies they had granted were either spent or anticipated, and they moved for a further supply of two subsidies and two fifteenths. The Commons debated this motion at great length, without coming to any deci. sion; their antipathy to the Duke of Buckingham influencing them against the king. The debate resulted in no supply, and after various matters had been agitated, Charles, believing there was no present intention to grant a supply, resolved to show his displeasure by dissolving Parliament.
By its dissolution the ordinary constitutional means of providing money to defray the charge of the fleets and armies were cut off.
Recourse was therefore had to the old expedient of compul. sory gifts and loans. Letters were addressed in the king's name to the lord lieutenants of counties, directing them to collect as many persons' names as might be of ability to furnish the king with money; but they were cautioned not to deal with noblemen, nor with the clergy, who were to be left to their metropolitans. The privy seal followed the return, and left the involuntary contributor little room for escape.
Although these loans were industriously pressed, they were not sufficiently productive to meet the king's urgent necessities, and he resolved to call another Parliament, which assembled on the 6th of February, 1625-6, still in the first year of his reign. From the first, it was hostile to him. Charles in no way attempted to conciliate the Commons. His view of his relation to the House of Commons