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TRUE HISTORICAL NARRATION
REBELLION AND CIVIL
WARS IN ENGLAND,
BEGUN IN THE YEAR 1641,
THE PRECEDENT PASSAGES AND ACTIONS THAT CONTRIBUTED THEREUNTO.
THAT posterity. may not be deceived, by the rendering, not only the privileges, but very being, opinion, that less than a general combination, and though the immediate finger and wrath of God universal apostasy in the whole nation from their must be acknowledged in these perplexities and
gion and allegiance, could, in so short a time, distractions; yet he who shall diligently observe have produced such a total and prodigious altera- the distempers and conjunctures of time, the amtion and confusion over the whole kingdom; and bition, pride, and folly of persons, and the sudden so the memory of those few, who, out of duty growth of wickedness, from want of care and cirand conscience, have opposed and resisted that cumspection in the first impressions, will find all torrent, which hath overwhelmed them, may lose this bulk of misery to have proceeded, and to have the recompense due to their virtue; and, having been brought upon us, from the same natural causes undergone the injuries and reproaches of this, may and means, which have usually attended kingdoms, not find a vindication in a better age; it will not swoln with long plenty, pride, and excess, towards be unuseful, at least to the curiosity if not the con some signal mortifications, and castigation of Heascience of men, to present to the world a full and ven. And it may be, upon the view of the imposclear narration of the grounds, circumstances, and sibility of foreseeing many things that have hapartifices of this rebellion : not only from the time pened, and of the necessity of overseeing many since the flame hath been visible in a civil war, other things, we may not yet find the cure so debut, looking farther back, from those former pas- sperate, but that, by God's mercy, the wounds may sages, accidents, and actions, by which the seed be again bound up; though no question many plots were made and framed, from whence these must first bleed to death; and then this prospect mischiefs have successively grown to the height may not make the future peace less pleasant and they are now at.
durable. And then, though the hand and judgment of And I have the more willingly induced myself God will be very visible, in the infatuating a people to this unequal task, out of the hope of contributing (as ripe and prepared for destruction) into all the somewhat to that end: and though a piece of this perverse actions of folly and madness, making the nature (wherein the infirmities of some, and the weak to contribute to the designs of the wicked, malice of others, both things and persons, must and suffering even those, by degrees, out of the be boldly looked upon and mentioned) is not likely conscience of their guilt, to grow more wicked than to be published at least in the age in which it is they intended to be; letting the wise to be imposed writ, yet it may serve to inform myself, and some upon by men of no understanding, and possessing others, what we are to do, as well as to comfort the innocent with laziness and sleep in the most us in what we have done, and then possibly it may visible article of danger; uniting the ill, though of not be very difficult to collect somewhat out of that the most different opinions, divided interests, and store, more proper, and not unuseful for the public distant affections, in a firm and constant league of view. And as I may not be thought altogether an mischief; and dividing those, whose opinions and incompetent person for this communication, having interests are the same, into faction and emulation, been present as a member of parliament in those more pernicious to the public than the treason of councils before and till the breaking out of the the others : whilst the poor people, under pretence rebellion, and having since had the honour to be of zeal to religion, law, liberty, and parliaments, near two great kings in some trust, so I shall per(words of precious esteem in their just significa- form the same with all faithfulness and ingenuity; tion,) are furiously hurried into actions introduc- with an equal observation of the faults and infiring atheism, and dissolving all the elements of mities of both sides, with their defects and overChristian religion; cancelling all obligations, and sights in pursuing their own ends; and shall no destroying all foundations of law and liberty; and otherwise mention small and light occurrences,
[BOOK 1. than as they have been introductions to matters | crown-lands, creating peers
money, and many of the greatest moment; nor speak of persons other particulars, which no access of power or otherwise, than as the mention of their virtues plenty since could repair. or vices is essential to the work in hand : in which Parliaments were summoned, and again disas I shall have the fate to be suspected rather for solved: and that in the fourth year (after the dismalice to many, than of flattery to any, so I shall, solution of the two former) was determined with in truth, preserve myself from the least sharpness, a profession and declaration that there should be that may proceed from private provocation, or a no more assemblies of that nature expected, and more public indignation, in the whole observing all men inhibited upon the penalty of censure, so the rules that a man should, who deserves to be much as to speak of a parliament. And here I believed.
cannot but let myself loose to say, that no man I shall not then lead any man farther back in can shew me a source, from whence these waters this journey, for the discovery of the entrance into of bitterness we now taste have more probably these dark ways, than the beginning of this king's flowed, than from these unseasonable, unskilful, reign. For I am not so sharp-sighted as those, and precipitate dissolutions of parliaments; in who have discerned this rebellion contriving from which, by an unjust survey of the passion, inso(if not before) the death of queen Elizabeth, and lence, and ambition of particular persons, the court fomented by several princes and great ministers of measured the temper and affection of the country; state in Christendom, to the time that it brake out. and by the same standard the people considered Neither do I look so far back as believing the the honour, justice, and piety of the court; and design to be so long since formed; (they who so usually parted, at those sad seasons, with no have observed the several accidents, not capable of other respect and charity one toward the other, being contrived, which have contributed to the than accompanies persons who never meant to meet several successes, and do know the persons who but in their own defence. In which the king had have been the grand instruments towards this always the disadvantage to harbour persons about change, of whom there have not been any four of him, who, with their utmost industry, information, familiarity and trust with each other, will easily and malice, improved the faults and infirmities of absolve them from so much industry and foresight the court to the people; and again, as much as in their mischief;) but that, by viewing the temper, in them lay, rendered the people suspected, if not disposition, and habit, of that time, of the court odious to the king. and of the country, we may discern the minds of I am not altogether a stranger to the passages men prepared, of some to do, and of others to of those parliaments, (though I was not a member suffer, all that hath since happened; the pride of of them,) having carefully perused the journals of this man, and the popularity of that; the levity both houses, and familiarly conversed with many of one, and the morosity of another; the excess who had principal parts in them. And I cannot of the court in the greatest want, and the parsi- but wonder at those counsels, which persuaded the mony and retention of the country in the greatest courses then taken; the habit and temper of men's plenty; the spirit of craft and subtlety in some, minds being, no question, very applicable to the and the rude and unpolished integrity of others, public ends; and those ends being only discredited too much despising craft or art; like so many by the jealousies the people entertained from the atoms contributing jointly to this mass of con manner of the prosecution, that they were other, fusion now before us.
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 pasKing James in the end of March 1625 died, sages, and distempered speeches of particular perleaving his majesty that now is, engaged in a war sons, not fit for the dignity and honour of those with Spain, but unprovided with money to man- places, and unsuitable to the reverence due to his age it; though it was undertaken by the consent majesty and his councils. But I do not know any and advice of parliament: the people being natu- formed act of either house (for neither the remonrally enough inclined to the war (having surfeited strance or votes of the last day were such) that with the uninterrupted pleasures and plenty of was not agreeable to the wisdom and justice of twenty-two years peace) and sufficiently inflamed great courts, upon those extraordinary occasions. against the Spaniard; but quickly weary of the And whoever considers the acts of power and incharge of it: and therefore, after an unprosperous justice in the intervals of parliament, will not be and chargeable attempt in a voyage by sea upon much scandalized at the warmth and vivacity of Cadiz, and as unsuccessful and more unfortunate those meetings. a one upon France, at the Isle of Rhé, (for some In the second parliament there was a mention, difference had likewise at the same time begotten and intention declared, of granting five subsidies, a war with that prince,) a general peace was shortly a proportion (how contemptible soever in respect concluded with both kingdoms; the exchequer of the pressures now every day imposed) never being so exhausted with the debts of king James, before heard of in parliament. And that meeting the bounty of his majesty that now is, (who, upon being, upon very unpopular and unplausible reahis first access to the crown, gave many costly in- sons, immediately dissolved, those five subsidies stances of his favour to persons near him,) and were exacted, throughout the whole kingdom, with the charge of the war upon Spain, and France, the same rigour, as if, in truth, an act had passed that both the known and casual revenue being an to that purpose. Very many gentlemen of ime ticipated, the necessary subsistence of the house-quality, in all the several counties of England, hold was unprovided for; and the king on the were, for refusing to pay the same, committed to sudden driven to those straits for his own support, prison, with great rigour and extraordinary circumthat many ways were resorted to, and inconveni- stances. And could it be imagined, that these ences submitted to, for supply; as selling the men would meet again in a free convention of par
3 liament, without a sharp and severe expostulation, could be preserved without parliaments, or that and inquisition into their own right, and the power the passion and distemper gotten and received that had imposed upon that right? And yet all into parliaments could be removed and reformed these provocations, and many other, almost of as by' the more passionate breaking and dissolving large an extent, produced no other resentment, them; or that that course would not inevitably than the petition of right, (of no prejudice to the prove the most pernicious to himself, is as much crown,) which was likewise purchased at the price my wonder, as any thing that hath since happened. of five subsidies more, and, in a very short time There is a protection very gracious and just, after that supply granted, that parliament was which princes owe to their servants, when, in likewise, with strange circumstances of passion on obedience to their just commands, upon extraorall sides, dissolved.
dinary and necessary occasions, in the execution The abrupt and ungracious breaking off the two of their trusts, they swerve from the strict rule first parliaments was wholly imputed to the duke of the law, which, without that mercy, would be of Buckingham; and of the third, principally to penal to them. In any case, it is as legal (the law the lord Weston, then lord high treasurer of Eng- presuming it will always be done upon great realand; both in respect of the great power and in- son) for the king to pardon, as for the party to terest they then had in the affections of his majesty, accuse, and the judge to condemn. But for the and for that the time of the dissolutions happened supreme power to interpose, and shelter an accused to be, when some charges and accusations were servant from answering, does not only seem an preparing, and ready to be preferred against those obstruction of justice, and lay an imputation uptwo great persons. And therefore the envy and on the prince, of being privy to the offence; but hatred, that attended them thereupon, was insup- leaves so great a scandal upon the party himself, portable, and was visibly the cause of the murder that he is generally concluded guilty of whatsoof the first, (stabbed to the heart by the hand of ever he is charged; which is commonly more than an obscure villain, upon the mere impious pretence the worst man ever deserved. And it is worthy of his being odious to the parliament,) and made, the observation, that, as no innocent man who no doubt, so great an impression upon the under- made his defence ever suffered in those times by standing and nature of the other, that, by degrees, judgment of parliament; so many guilty persons, he lost that temper and serenity of mind he had and against whom the spirit of the time went as been before master of, and which was most fit high, by the wise managing their defence, have to have accompanied him in his weighty employ- been freed from their accusers, not only without ments : insomuch as, out of indignation to find censure, but without reproach; as the bishop of himself worse used than he deserved, he cared Lincoln, then lord keeper, sir H. Marten, and sir less to deserve well, than he had done; and in- H. Spiller; men, in their several degrees, as little sensibly grew into that public hatred, that ren- beholden to the charity of that time, as any men dered him less useful to the service that he only since. Whereas scarce a man, who, with industry intended.
and skill, laboured to keep himself from being I wonder less at the errors of this nature in the accused, or by power to stop or divert the course duke of Buckingham; who, having had a most of proceeding, scaped without some signal mark generous education in courts, was utterly ignorant of infamy or prejudice. And the reason is clear ; of the ebbs and floods of popular councils, and of for besides that, after the first storm, there is some the winds that move those waters; and could not, compassion naturally attends men like to be in without the spirit of indignation, find himself, in misery; and besides the latitude of judging in the space of a few weeks, without any visible cause those places, whereby there is room for kindness intervening, from the greatest height of popular and affection, and collateral considerations to inestimation that any person hath ascended to, (in- terpose; the truth is, those accusations (to which somuch as sir Edward Coke blasphemously called this man contributes his malice, that his wit, all him our Saviour,) by the same breath thrown men what they please, and most upon hearsay, down to the depth of calumny and reproach, I with a kind of uncharitable delight of making say, it is no marvel, (besides that he was natu- the charge as heavy as may be) are commonly rally to follow such counsel as was given him) stuffed with many odious generals, that the proofs that he could think of no better way to be freed seldom make good: and then a man is no sooner of the inconveniences and troubles the passions found less guilty than he is expected, but he is of those meetings gave him, than to dissolve concluded more innocent than he is; and it is them, and prevent their coming together : and thought but a just reparation for the reproach that, when they seemed to neglect the public that he deserved not, to free him from the censure peace, out of animosity to him, that he intended he deserved. So that, very probably, those two his own ease and security in the first place, and noble persons had been happy, if they had stoutly easily believed the public might be otherwise pro-submitted to the proceedings (which] were designed vided for, by more intent and dispassionate coun- against them; and, without question, it had been of cils. But that the other, the lord Weston, who sovereign use to the king, if, in those peaceable had been very much and very popularly conversant times, parliaments had been taught to know their in those conventions, who exactly knew the frame own bounds, by being suffered to proceed as far as and constitution of the kingdom, the temper of they could go; by which the extent of their power the people, the extent of the courts of law, and the would quickly have been manifested: from whence jurisdiction of parliaments, which at that time had no inconvenience of moment could have proceednever committed any excess of jurisdiction, (mo- ed; the house of commons never then pretending desty and moderation in words never was, nor to the least part of judicature, or exceeding the ever will be, observed in popular councils, whose known verge of their own privileges; the house foundation is liberty of speech,) should believe, of peers observing the rules of law and equity in that the union, peace, and plenty of the kingdom their judgments, and proceeding deliberately upon
[BOOK I. clear testimony and evidence of matter of fact; Beaumonts, he had this gentleman, and two and the king retaining the sole power of par- other sons and a daughter, who all came afterdoning, and receiving the whole profit of all pen- wards to be raised to great titles and dignities. alties and judgments; and indeed having so great George, the eldest son of this second bed, was, an influence upon the body of the peerage, that it after the death of his father, by the singular affecwas never known that any person of honour was tion and care of his mother, who enjoyed a good severely censured in that house, (before this pre- jointure in the account of that age, well brought sent parliament,) who was not either immediately up; and, for the improvement of his education, prosecuted by the court, or in evident disfavour and giving an ornament to his hopeful person, there; in which, it may be, (as it usually falls he was by her sent into France; where he spent out) some doors were opened, at which incon two or three years in attaining the language, and veniences to the crown have got in, that were not in learning the exercises of riding and dancing ; then enough weighed and considered.
in the last of which he excelled most men, and But the course of exempting men from prose- returned into England by the time he was twentycution, by dissolving of parliaments, made the one years old. power of parliaments much more formidable, as King James reigned at that time, and though conceived to be without limit; since the sovereign he was a prince of more learning and knowledge power seemed to be compelled (as unable other than any other of that age, and really delighted wise to set bounds to their proceedings) to that more in books, and in the conversation of learned rough cure, and to determine their being, because men ; yet, of all wise men living, he was the most it could not determine their jurisdiction. Whereas, delighted and taken with handsome persons, and if they had been frequently summoned, and sea with fine clothes. He began to be weary of his sonably dissolved, after their wisdom in applying favourite, the earl of Somerset, who was the only medicines and cures, as well as their industry in favourite that kept that post so long, without any discovering diseases, had been discerned, they public reproach from the people: and, by the inwould easily have been applied to the uses for stigation and wickedness of his wife, he became, which they were first instituted; and been of no at least, privy to a horrible murder, that exposed less esteem with the crown, than of veneration him to the utmost severity of the law, (the poiswith the people. And so I shall conclude this oning of sir Thomas Overbury,) upon which both digression, which I conceived not unseasonable he and his wife were condemned to die, after a for this place, nor upon this occasion, and return trial by their peers; and many persons of quality to the time when that brisk resolution was taken were executed for the same. of totally declining those conventions; all men Whilst this was in agitation, and before the being inhibited (as I said before) by proclamation utmost discovery was made, Mr. Villiers appeared at the dissolution of the parliament in the fourth in court, and drew the king's eyes upon him. year, so much as to mention or speak as if a par- There were enough in the court enough angry and liament should be called.
incensed against Somerset, for being what themAnd here it will give much light to that which selves desired to be, and especially for being a follows, if we take a view of the state of the court Scotsman, and ascending, in so short a time, from and of the council at that time, by which, as in being a page, to the height he was then at, to a mirror, we may best see the face of that time, contribute all they could to promote the one, and the affections and temper of the people in that they might throw out the other : which being general.
easily brought to pass, by the proceeding of the And for the better taking this prospect, we will law upon his crime aforesaid, the other found very take a survey of the person of that great man, little difficulty in rendering himself gracious to the duke of Buckingham, (who was so barbarously the king, whose nature and disposition was very murdered at this time,) whose influence had been flowing in affection towards persons so adorned. unfortunate in the public affairs, and whose death Insomuch that, in few days after his first appearproduced a change in all the counsels. The duke ance in court, he was made cupbearer to the king ; was indeed a very extraordinary person; and by which he was naturally to be much in his prenever any man, in any age, nor, I believe, in any sence, and so admitted to that conversation and country or nation, rose, in so short a time, to discourse, with which that prince always abounded so much greatness of honour, fame, and fortune, at his meals. upon no other advantage or recommendation, than And his inclination to his new cupbearer disof the beauty and gracefulness and becomingness posed him to administer frequent occasions of of his person. And I have not the least purpose discoursing of the court of France, and the transof undervaluing his good parts and qualities, (of actions there, with which he had been so lately which there will be occasion shortly to give some acquainted, that he could pertinently enlarge upon testimony,) when I say, that his first introduction that subject, to the king's great delight, and to into favour was purely from the handsomeness of the reconciling the esteem and value of all the his person.
standers by likewise to him: which was a thing He was the younger son of sir George Villiers, the king was well pleased with. He acted very of Brookesby, in the county of Leicester; a few weeks upon this stage, when he mounted family of an ancient extraction, even from the time higher; and, being knighted, without any other of the conquest, and transported then with the qualification, he was at the same time made genconqueror out of Normandy, where the family hath tleman of the bedchamber, and knight of the orstill remained, and still continues with lustre. der of the garter; and in a short time (very short After sir George's first marriage, in which he had for such a prodigious ascent) he was made a two or three sons, and some daughters, who shared baron, a viscount, an earl, a marquis, and became an ample inheritance from him; by a second mar- lord high admiral of England, lord warden of the riage, with a young lady of the family of the cinque ports, master of the horse, and entirely