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able; although for some time longer the forms of the constitution were complied with, because neither party was prepared nor likely to incur the responsibility of commencing the outbreak. The king and Parliament were now separated, and never afterwards communicated but by messages or petitions, and by royal commission, when it was necessary that acts should be passed. The king was sensible of the great error he had fallen into, and of the mischief he had done to his own cause, by his rash proceeding. He tried to extricate himself from the difficulty, and to conciliate the Parliament by a series of messages, acknowledging that he had interfered with their privileges, and postponing the prosecution of the members; and ultimately he went so far as to abandon any further proceedings against them, and to offer a free pardon. But Puritanism never forgives, and the eleven majority in the Commons would accept no reconciliation, answering every message by requisitions which increased the difficulties of their country.
Charles endeavored to procure the mediation of the Lords. In a message to the house he suggested “that the Parliament should, with all speed, fall into a serious consideration of all those particulars which they should hold necessary, as well for the upholding and maintaining of his just and royal authority, and for the settling of his revenue, as for the present and future establishment of their privileges—the free and quiet enjoyment of their estates and fortunes; the security of the true religion then professed by the Church of England ; and the settling of ceremonies in such a manner as to take away all just cause of offence.” The Lords acquainted the Commons that they had received a gracious message, which filled their hearts full of comfort and joy; and they prepared an answer to thank the king, and to let him know that they would take his message into such speedy and serious consideration as a proposition of that great importance required. The Puritans refused to second the Peers' views, and coupled their refusal with a demand that “the king would be pleased to put the Tower of London, with all other forts and militia of the whole kingdom, into such hands as the Parliament should confide in." The Lords rejected the proposed addition, and the offer of the king, as well as the demand of the Commons, came to nothing.
The king gave the royal assent to several bills, of which the only one demanding our attention was a bill for taking away the temporal power of the bishops and clergy. It was the third which had been introduced into this Parliament for a similar purpose. The first was “A Bill to restrain Bishops and others in Holy Orders from intermeddling in secular affairs,” which was sent up to the Lords on the 1st of May, 1641, and was carried then through all the intermediate stages to the third reading, where it was rejected by a large majority. The second was brought in on the 20th of May, by Sir Edward Dering, and was entitled “A Bill for the utter abolishing and taking away all Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors and Commissaries, Deans and Chapters, Archdeacons, Prebendaries, Chanters, Canons, and all other their under officers." This received the name of the “Root and Branch Bill," and is a fair specimen of Puritan toleration. Puritanism has but one argument for its opponents and the institutions it desires to overthrow. That argument is-abolition. They are “malignant," and must, therefore, be" utterly abolished." The Root and Branch Bill was debated with great passion for twenty days, but was never brought to a conclusion, having been discontinued on account of the king's departure into Scotland.
The title of the third was “An Act for disabling all persons in Holy Orders to exercise any temporal jurisdiction or authority.” It enacted that no archbishop or bishop, or other person in Holy Orders, should at any time after the 15th of February, 1641, have any seat or place, suffrage or voice, or use or execute any power or authority in the Parliaments of this realm ; nor should be of the privy council, or justice of the peace, of oyer and terminer, or jail-delivery; or execute any temporal authority by virtue of any commission, but should be wholly incapable and disabled.” The Lords passed this bill almost with unanimity, only three bishops dissenting. The king took time for consideration, which, being reported to the Commons, they, with the imperious and indecent haste which now characterized their proceedings, resolved that delay was denial, and desired the Lords to join them in reasons for hastening the royal assent. It was given a few days afterwards by commission; and thus the Puritans obtained at last the removal of the bishops from Parliament, for which they had so long and earnestly contended.
It would have been supposed that Charles would have complied with any demand that could be made upon him, if he assented to a measure so sweeping and so repugnant to his feelings as that just described; but he at length took a decided stand against the demand of the Parliament for his assent to an ordinance concerning the militia, by which persons to be nominated by the Commons should be intrusted with authority over the militia of the kingdom, He declined to concur in that ordinance; and in an answer to the Lords, through the lord keeper, he declared “that he could not divest himself of the just power which God and the laws of his kingdom had placed in him for the defence of his people, and to put it into the hands of others for any indefinite time.” It was thereupon “ resolved that the king's answer was a direct denial of their desires; that those who advised it were enemies to the state; that if the king should persist in it, it would hazard the peace and safety of his kingdom, unless a speedy remedy were applied by the wisdom and authority of both houses of Parliament; that such parts of the kingdom as had put themselves in a position of defence against the common danger, had done nothing but what was justifiable; that it would be a great hazard to the kingdom if the king removed to any remote parts from his Parliament, where they could not have convenient access to him on all occasions; and they de. sired, also, that the prince might come to St. James's, or to some place near London, where he might continue." These resolutions were embodied in
message from both houses to the king, in which it was declared "that they were enforced in all humility to protest that if the king should persist in his denial, the dangers, and distempers of the kingdom are such as will endure no longer delay; and unless he graciously assured them, by their messengers, that he would speedily apply his royal assent to the satisfaction of their former desires, they should be enforced, for the safety of his majesty and the kingdom, to dispose of the militia in such manner as they had propounded, and they resolved to do it accordingly."
The king returned an answer on the 2d of March, from his palace of Theobald's. He said: "I am so much amazed at this message,
that I know not what to answer. You speak of jealousies and fears. Lay your hands on your hearts and ask yourselves whether I may not likewise be disturbed with fears and jealousies; and if so, I assure you this message hath nothing lessened them. For the militia. I thought so much of it before I sent that answer, and am so much assured that the answer is agreeable to what in justice or reason you can ask, or I in honor grant, that I shall not alter it in any point. For my residence near you, I wish it might be so safe and honorable that I had no cause to absent myself from Whitehall. Ask yourselves whether I have or not.
For my son, I shall take that care of him which shall justify me to God as a father, and to my dominions as a king. To conclude: I assure you upon my honor, that I have no thought but of peace and justice to my people, which I shall, by all fair means, seek to preserve and maintain; relying upon the goodness and providence of God for the preservation of myself and my rights.”
We must here stop. We have brought the contest between the king and the Parliament to an issue, and we have come to the end of the legislation by which we proposed to limit the extent of our historical inquiries. There is no further statute to record in this reign; all that follows is without regard to the principles or practice of the ancient constitution. The difficult task will not be attempted of estimating the degrees of blame or approval which the parties deserve, in the several stages of the great contest; but upon a general view of it, not many will be found who, testing the incidents by the principles of the constitution, would justify the pro. ceedings of Charles, or condemn those of the Parliament, down to the epoch of the Grand Remonstrance ; for few will doubt that if his policy and course of action had not been broken down, despotism would have been established. It is from the time of his departure for Scotland-after having passed the series of acts for extending and confirming the liberties of the people—that it may be unhesitatingly asserted that the Parliament would have served their country best by taking their stand on the laws then established, and on the institutions as modified by those laws, and by directing their great power and influence to keep the king within the bounds of
constitutional government, under competent ministers, of whom he about that time made a selection that the Commons might have approved. When we look forward to the Restoration, and notice the laws that were then passed by way of complement to the legislation of this reign, we feel assured that such laws might have been obtained from Charles at the same time as the other laws; and with much less reluctance than those repealed at the Restoration, which he submitted to pass. It is common to reply to such observations by pointing out the perfidiousness of Charles's character, and his secret resolve to overthrow the concessions involuntarily made, if he should recover his power or the vigilance of the Commons should be relaxed; and it must be confessed that his attempt against the five members very much weakened the hope which appears before that attempt to have been entertained, that he would content himself with the constitutional position in which the new laws placed him, and would carry on the government under the guidance of constitutional ministers. But, on the other hand, it must be considered that Charles had received a severe lesson—that he could not hope to avert the vigilance and determination of the Commons—and that the failure of his attack on the five members prepared him for yet greater submission; and it would have required-probably on his part, and certainly on the part of his ministers—the venture of their lives and fortunes, to have attempted again to govern the country, and to raise supplies, on principles put down by law and condemned by all parties. On the whole, therefore, we must observe that all the good in this reign was accomplished before Puritanism had gained an ascendency among the Commons; and that from the day when they discovered, by the vote on the Grand Remonstrance, that they had a petty majority in that house, the downward progress of affairs began. The truth is, Puritanism is always proscriptive-always aiming at despotic domination. In England, in the reign of the unhappy Charles, as in these unhappy States to-day, it must and will rule, and its rulo is ruin !
The breach between Charles and the Parliament became complete in August, and during nearly eighteen years the country went through the vicissitudes of civil war, of government by the Parlia