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« that he walked with the greatest enemy the “ Scottish nation had in the parliament, and that “ he ought to take heed how he communicated any “ thing of importance to him ; and that after he “ was parted with that gentleman, before he could “ pass through the hall, four or five other eminent “ men, severally, gave him the same advertisement “ and caution;" and then spake as unconcernedly and as merrily of the persons and their jealousy as the other could do. Men who were so sagacious in pursuing their point were not like to miscarry.
The Scotch commissioners were in this time come to London, where they were magnificently entertained ; and one of the best houses in the heart of the city assigned for their reception, the neighbour church for their devotion, whither so great a herd flocked on Sundays to hear Mr. Henderson and his fellow-chaplains, that very many came to and sat in the church from the time that it was light, that they might receive the comfort of those lectures, which were not till the afternoon; for in the morning their devotions were private. They were caressed by both houses with all possible expressions of kindness at least, if not of submission ; and an order was carefully entered, “ that upon all “ occasions the appellation should be used of Our “ brethren of Scotland ;” and upon that, wonderful kind compliments passed, of a sincere resolution of amity and union between the two nations.
Things being thus constituted, it became them to satisfy the public expectation in the discovery of their new treasons, and in speedy proceedings against those two great persons. For the better preparing whereof, and facilitating whatever else should be necessary for that enterprise, the Scottish commissioners in the name of that nation presented (as is said before) two distinct declarations, against the persons of the archbishop and the earl of Strafford, stuffed with as much bitterness and virulency as can be imagined, making them “ the “ odious incendiaries of the differences between the “ two nations,' and the original causes of all those “ calamities in that kingdom which begat those “ differences, and most pathetically pressing for “ justice against them both.” These discourses (for either of them consisted of many sheets of paper) were publicly read in both houses; that against the archbishop of Canterbury was for the present laid aside, and I am persuaded, at that time, without any thought of resuming it, hoping that his age and imprisonment would have quickly freed them from farther trouble. But a speedy pro.. ceeding against the other was vehemently pressed, as of no less importance than the peace between the two kingdoms, not without some intimation, “ that there could be no expectation that the “ Scottish army would ever retire into their country, “ and consequently that the king's could be dis“ banded, before exemplary justice were done upon “ that earl to their satisfaction.” When they had inflamed men with this consideration sufficiently, they, without any great difficulty, (in order to the necessary expedition for that trial,) prevailed in two propositions of most fatal consequence to the king's service, and to the safety and integrity of all honest men.
“ houses for the taking preparatory examinations." Thus the allegation was, “ That the charge against “ the earl of Strafford was of an extraordinary “ nature, being to make a treason evident out of a " complication of several ill acts; that he must be “ traced through many dark paths, and this prece“ dent seditious discourse compared with that sub. “ sequent outrageous action, the circumstances of “ both which might be equally considerable with “ the matter itself; and therefore that, before this “ charge could be so directly made and prepared “ as was necessary,” (for he was hitherto only accused generally of treason,) "it was requisite, “ that a committee should be made of both houses “ to examine some witnesses upon oath, upon “ whose depositions his impeachment would easily “ be framed.” This was no sooner proposed in the house of commons, than consented to; and upon as little debate yielded to by the lords; and the committee settled accordingly: without considering that such an inquisition (besides that the same was most contrary to the rules of law or the practice of any former times) would easily prepare a charge against the most innocent man alive ; where that liberty should be taken to examine a man's whole life; and all the light, and all the private discourses had passed from him, might be tortured, perverted, and applied, according to the conscience and the craft of a diligent and malicious prosecution.
The second was, “ for the examining upon oath “ privy-counsellors, upon such matters as had “ passed at the council-table.” The allegation for this was, “ That the principal ingredient into the VOL. I.
“ treason of which the earl was to be charged, was, “ a purpose to change the form of government; “ and, instead of that settled by law, to introduce “ a power merely arbitrary. Now this design “ must be made evident, as well by the advices “ which he gave, and the expressions he uttered “ upon emergent occasions, as by his public “ actions; and those could not be discovered, at “ least not proved, but by those who were present “ at such consultations, and they were only privy“ counsellors.” As it was alleged, “ That at his “ coming from Ireland the earl had said in council “ there, That if he ever returned to that sword “ again, he would not leave a Scotchman in that “ kingdom : and at his arrival in this kingdom, the “ lord mayor and some aldermen of London attend“ ing the board about the loan of monies, and not “ giving that satisfaction was expected, that he “ should pull out a letter out of his pocket, and “ shew what course the king of France then took “ for the raising of money; and that he should “ tell the king, That it would never be well till he “ hanged up a lord mayor of London in the city to “ terrify the rest."
There was no greater difficulty to satisfy the house of commons with the reasonableness of this, than of the former ; but the compassing it was not like to be so easy; for it was visible, that, though the lords should join with them, (which was not to be despaired,) the privy-counsellors would insist upon the oath they had taken, and pretend, “ that “ without the king's consent they might not dis“ cover any thing that had passed at that board ; “ so that the greatest difficulty would be, the pro
“ curing the king's consent for the betraying him“ self : but this must be insisted on, for God forbid “ that it might be safe for any desperate wicked “ counsellor to propose and advise at that board” (which in the intervals of parliaments wholly disposed the affairs of state) “ courses destructive to “ the health and being of the kingdom ; and that “ the sovereign physician, the parliament, (which “ had the only skill to cure those contagious and “ epidemical diseases,) should be hindered from “ preserving the public, because no evidence must “ be given of such corrupt and wicked counsels." And so provided with this specious oratory, they desire the lords “ to concur with them for this “ necessary examination of privy-counsellors;" who, without much debate, (for the persons concerned knew well their acts were visible and public enough, and therefore considered not much what words had passed,) consented, and appointed some to attend the king for his consent: who, not well weighing the consequence, and being in public council unanimously advised “to consent to it; “ and that the not doing it would lay some taint “ upon his council, and be a tacit confession, that “ there had been agitations at that place which “ would not endure the light;" yielded that they should be examined: which was speedily done accordingly, by the committee of both houses appointed for that purpose.
The damage was not to be expressed, and the ruin that last act brought to the king was irrepar. able ; for, besides that it served their turn (which no question they had discovered before) to prove those words against the earl of Strafford, which