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majesty that now is, (who, upon his first access to the crown, gave many costly instances of his favour to persons near him,) and the charge of the war upon Spain, and France, that both the known and casual revenue being anticipated, the necessary subsistence of the household was unprovided for; and the king on the sudden driven to those straits for his own support, that many ways were resorted to, and inconveniences submitted to, for supply ; as selling the crown-lands, creating peers for money, and many other particulars, which no access of power or plenty since could repair.
Parliaments were summoned, and again dissolved : and that in the fourth year (after the dissolution of the two former) was determined with a profession and declaration that there should be no more assemblies of that nature expected, and all men inhibited upon the penalty of censure, so much as to speak of a parliament. And here I cannot but let myself loose to say, that no man can shew me a source, from whence these waters of bitterness we now taste have more probably flowed, than from these unseasonable, unskilful, and precipitate dissolutions of parliaments; in which, by an unjust survey of the passion, insolence, and ambition of particular persons, the court measured the temper and affection of the country; and by the same standard the people considered the honour, justice, and piety of the court; and so usually parted, at those sad seasons, with no other respect and charity one toward the other, than accompanies persons who never meant to meet but in their own defence. In which the king had always the disadvantage to harbour persons about him, who, with their utmost
industry, information, and malice, improved the faults and infirmities of the court to the people ; and again, as much as in them lay, rendered the people suspected, if not odious to the king.
I am not altogether a stranger to the passages of those parliaments, (though I was not a member of them,) having carefully perused the journals of both houses, and familiarly conversed with many who had principal parts in them. And I cannot but wonder at those counsels, which persuaded the courses then taken; the habit and temper of men's minds being, no question, very applicable to the public ends; and those ends being only discredited by the jealousies the people entertained from the manner of the prosecution, that they were other, and worse than in truth they were. It is not to be denied, that there were, in all those parliaments, especially in that of the fourth year, several passages, and distempered speeches of particular persons, not fit for the dignity and honour of those places, and unsuitable to the reverence due to his majesty and his councils. But I do not know any formed act of either house (for neither the remonstrance or votes of the last day were such) that was not agreeable to the wisdom and justice of great courts, upon those extraordinary occasions. And whoever considers the acts of power and injustice in the intervals of parliament, will not be much scandalized at the warmth and vivacity of those meetings.
In the second parliament there was a mention, and intention declared, of granting five subsidies, a proportion (how contemptible soever in respect of the pressures now every day imposed) never before heard of in parliament. And that meeting being, upon very unpopular and unplausible reasons, immediately dissolved, those five subsidies were exacted, throughout the whole kingdom, with the same rigour, as if, in truth, an act had passed to that purpose. Very many gentlemen of prime quality, in all the several counties of England, were, for refusing to pay the same, committed to prison, with great rigour and extraordinary circumstances. And could it be imagined, that these men would meet again in a free convention of parliament, without a sharp and severe expostulation, and inquisition into their own right, and the power that had imposed upon that right? And yet all these provocations, and many other, almost of as large an extent, produced no other resentment, than the petition of right, (of no prejudice to the crown,) which was likewise purchased at the price of five subsidies more, and, in a very short time after that supply granted, that parliament was likewise, with strange circumstances of passion on all sides, dissolved.
The abrupt and ungracious breaking off the two first parliaments was wholly imputed to the duke of Buckingham; and of the third, principally to the lord Weston, then lord high treasurer of England; both in respect of the great power and interest they then had in the affections of his majesty, and for that the time of the dissolutions happened to be, when some charges and accusations were preparing, and ready to be preferred against those two great persons. And therefore the envy and hatred, that attended them thereupon, was insupportable, and was visibly the cause of the murder of the first, (stabbed to the heart by the hand of an obscure villain, upon the mere impious pretence of his being odious to the parliament,) and made, no doubt, so great an impression upon the understanding and nature of the other, that, by degrees, he lost that temper and serenity of mind he had been before master of, and which was most fit to have accompanied him in his weighty employments : insomuch as, out of indignation to find himself worse used than he deserved, he cared less to deserve well, than he had done; and insensibly grew into that public hatred, that rendered him less useful to the service that he only intended.
I wonder less at the errors of this nature in the duke of Buckingham; who, having had a most generous education in courts, was utterly ignorant of the ebbs and floods of popular councils, and of the winds that move those waters; and could not, without the spirit of indignation, find himself, in the space of a few weeks, without any visible cause intervening, from the greatest height of popular estimation that any person hath ascended to, (insomuch as sir Edward Coke blasphemously called him our Saviour,) by the same breath thrown down to the depth of calumny and reproach. I say, it is no marvel, (besides that he was naturally to follow such counsel as was given him,) that he could think of no better way to be freed of the inconveniences and troubles the passions of those meetings gave him, than to dissolve them, and prevent their coming together : and that, when they seemed to neglect the public peace, out of animosity to him, that he intended his own ease and security in the first place, and easily believed the public
might be otherwise provided for, by more intent and dispassionate councils. But that the other, the lord Weston, who had been very much and very popularly conversant in those conventions, who exactly knew the frame and constitution of the kingdom, the temper of the people, the extent of the courts of law, and the jurisdiction of parliaments, which at that time had never committed any excess of jurisdiction, (modesty and moderation in words never was, nor ever will be, observed in popular councils, whose foundation is liberty of speech,) should believe, that the union, peace, and plenty of the kingdom could be preserved without parliaments, or that the passion and distemper gotten and received into parliaments could be removed and reformed by the more passionate breaking and dissolving them; or that that course would not inevitably prove the most pernicious to himself, is as much my wonder, as any thing that hath since happened.
There is a protection very gracious and just, which princes owe to their servants, when, in obedience to their just commands, upon extraordinary and necessary occasions, in the execution of their trusts, they swerve from the strict rule of the law, which, without that mercy, would be penal to them. In any case, it is as legal (the law presuming it will always be done upon great reason) for the king to pardon, as for the party to accuse, and the judge to condemn. But for the supreme power to interpose, and shelter an accused servant from answering, does not only seem an obstruction of justice, and lay an imputation upon the prince, of being privy to the offence; but leaves so great a scandal