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CHARLES 1.—THE REIGN OF PURITANISM—FROM THE GRAND REMONSTRANCE TO THE END OF CONSTITUTIONAL
LEGISLATION UNDER CHARLES.
THE GRAND REMONSTRANCE CARRIED BY A PURITAN MAJORITY OF ELEVEN-SAYING
CROMWELL-DIFFERENT OPINIONS CONCERNING THE REMONSTRANCE-ITS FUTILITY-SKETCH OF ITS CONTENTS-OBJECT AND DETERMINATION OF THE
PURITANS-THEIR EXASPERATION OF THE KING-ROYAL IMPEACHMENT AND IM
PRISONMENT OF LORD KIMBOTTON AND THE FIVE MEMBERS-DECLARATION OF
THE COMMONS-RETURN OF THE FIVE MEMBERS-SEPARATION OF KING AND PAR
LIAMENT HIS EFFORTS AT A RECONCILIATION IMPLACABILITY OF THE PURI-
59 ROOT AND BRANCH BILL
ABOLITION-MILITIA BILL-THE KING REFUSES HIS ASSENT-MESSAGE TO THE
SHORTLY before the king's return, the Commons, passed through their house a “Declaration of the State of the Kingdom,” which, as it has acquired historical celebrity as the “ Grand Remonstrance,” requires our notice. It was the work of the Puritan members of the house, being objected to and opposed by the others as unparliamentary and inexpedient :-unparlia. mentary, as being an appeal to the people concerning the government and conduct of the king, and as the work of one only of the constituent bodies of Parliament; inexpedient, as a detail of grievances already redressed. The draft was prepared by a committee, and laid before the house early in November; and after much opposition, a day was fixed for taking it into consideration, clause by clause, by the whole house, the speaker in the chair. The debate commenced at three o'clock in the afternoon, and was continued until three o'clock on the following morning; when, the question being put, whether the declaration as amended should pass, it was carried in the affirmative by a majority of 159 to 148, that is, by a majority of eleven ; but a motion that it should be printed, terminated in a resolution that it should not be printed without the particular order of the house. The debate produced great passion and vehemence; and the excitement is made evident by a saying of OLIVER CROMWELL, who told Lord Falkland, as they went out of the house after the debate, that “if the Remonstrance had been rejected, he would have sold all he had the next morning, and never have seen England more; and he knew there were several other honest men of the same resolution."
This remonstrance has been considered under different aspects by historians. Forster, the great advocate of Puritanism, would have us think that it "
was an appeal to the people, rendered necessary by the falsehood and unfaithfulness of the king to all his engagements, in order to bring about a lasting adjustment of right relations between the Commons and the crown." Mr. Hallam considers that "it was put forward to stem the returning tide of loyalty, which not only threatened to obstruct the fur. ther progress of the popular leaders, but, as they would allege, might, by gaining strength, wash away some at least of the bulwarks that had been so recently constructed for the preservation of liberty." We must, however, agree with Hume, who characterizes it “as containing many gross falsehoods, intermingled with some evident truth," and calls it "a plain signal for further attacks on the royal prerogative; and a declaration that the concessions already made, however important, were not to be regarded as satisfactory; " adding that "nothing less was foreseen, whatever ancient names might be preserved, than an abolition almost total” of the constitutional government of England. The Remonstrance admits that the grievances and oppressions it portrayed had already been removed"the difficulties seemed to be insuperable which, by the Divine Providence, we have overcome." It specifies large sums of money that had been raised, "and yet God hath so blessed the endeavors of this Parliament, that the kingdom is a great gainer by all these charges."
“The ship money is abolished, which cost this kingdom above £200,000 a year. The coat and conduct money and other military charges are taken away, which, in many counties, amounted to little less than the ship money. The monopolies are all suppressed, whereof some few did prejudice the subject above a million yearly; the soap, £100,000; the wine, £300,000; the leather must needs exceed both, and salt could be no less than that; besides the inferior monopolies, which if they could be exactly computed, would make up a great sum.” It admits that the king'8 POWER OF EVIL was
“That which is more beneficial than all this is, the root of these evils is taken away ; which was the arbitrary power pretended to be in his majesty, of taxing his subjects, or charging their estates, without consent of Parliament, which is now declared to be against law, by the judgment of both houses, and also by an act of Parliament."
It reviews the advantages which had resulted from the impeachments and the several new laws. By the former, “the living grievances, the evil counsellors and actors of these mischiefs, have been 80 quelled, that it is likely not only to be an ease to the present time, but a preservation to the future." Among the latter are named the Triennial Act and the Act to prevent the abrupt dissolution of Parliament, which “secure a full operation of the present remedy and afford a perpetual spring of remedies for the future.” “ The Star Chamber, the High Commission, the courts of president and council in the North, the immoderate power of the council table, are all taken away; the canons and the power of canon making are blasted by the vote of both houses ; the forests are by a good law reduced to their right bounds ; and other things of main importance for the good of this kingdom are in proposition. The malignants "-In this word " malignants" the essential venom of Puritanism already spurts out on its opponents. The Puritans had succeeded in obtain. ing a majority of ELEVEN in the House of Commons, and already all opposed to them are to be described as malignants ! But to continue—“The malignants have endeavored to work his majesty ill impressions and opinions of our proceedings, as if we had altogether done our own work and not his, and
had obtained from him many things very prejudicial to the crown, both in respect of prerogative and profit. To wipe out the first part of this slander, we think good only to say that all we have done is for his majesty, his greatness, honor and support. . . . . As to the second branch of this slander, we acknowledge with much thankfulness that his majesty hath passed more good bills to the advantage of his subjects than have been in many ages.”
Having thus fully demonstrated that it is itself a mere brutum fulmen of fanaticism, wholly unnecessary in the circumstances of the nation, the Remonstrance next proceeds to declare the reformation in view: “And now what hope have we but in God; when the only means of our subsistence and power of reformation is, under Him, in the Parliament ? But what can we, the Commons, do, without the conjunction of the House of Lords? and what conjunction can we expect there, where the bishops and recusant lords are so numerous and prevalent, that they are able to cross and interrupt our best endeavors for reformation, and by that means, give advantage to this malignant party to traduce our proceedings ? .... We confess our intention is and our endeavors have been, to reduce within bounds that exorbitant power which the prelates have assumed unto them. selves, so contrary both to the word of God, and the laws of the land; to which end we have passed the bill for the removing them from their temporal power and employments, that so the better they might with meekness apply themselves to the discharge of their functions; which bill themselves opposed, and were the principal instruments of crossing it." They then declare their own views of discipline and government of the Church; and desire a general synod of divines, the results of whose consultations should be represented to the Parliament, to be there allowed of and confirmed, and receive the stamp of authority, They deny the charge maliciously made, that they intend to destroy and discourage learning, declaring that they “intend to reform and purge the fountains of learning, the two Universities; that the streams flowing from them may be clear and
honor and comfort to the whole land."
The malignants tell the people, that our meddling with the power of episcopacy hath caused sectaries and conventicles . . thus with Elijah we are called by this malignant party, the troublers of the state ; and still, while we endeavor to reform their abuses, they make us the authors of those mischiefs we study to prevent." The pharisaical hypocrisy of these pretences would be sublime in any but the Puritans. With them it was, and always has been, customary.
They finally state the courses for perfecting the work begun, and removing all future impediments, under five heads :
1. To keep Papists in such condition as that they may not be able to do us any hurt; and for avoiding such connivance and favor as heretofore hath been shown to them, that his majesty be pleased to grant a commission to some choice men named in Parliament, who may take notice of their increase, their counsels, and proceedings; and use all due means, by execution of the laws, to prevent any mischievous designs against the peace and safety of the kingdom. 2. That some good course be taken to discover the false conformity of Papists to the Church, whereby they have been admitted to places of trust. 3. That all illegal grievances and exactions be presented and punished at the sessions and assizes; and that judges and justices be sworn to the due execution of the Petition of Right and other laws. 4. That his majesty be humbly petitioned, by both houses, to employ such councillors, ambassadors, and ministers as the Parliament may have cause to confide in, without which we cannot give his majesty such supplies as is desired. 5. That all councillors of state may be sworn to observe the laws which concern the subject in his liberiy; not to receive, or give, reward or pension, to or from any foreign prince; that all good courses may be taken to unite the two kingdoms of England and Scotland; to take away all differences among ourselves for matters indifferent concerning religion, and to unite ourselves against the common enemies, and to labor, by all offices of friendship, to unite the foreign churches with us, in the same cause." "If these things," it concludes, “may be observed, we doubt not but God will crown this Parliament with such success as shall be the beginning and founda