Imatges de pàgina



$13. The Beginning

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English service, but differing from it in many places by
the introduction of words still more offensive to those
who were called on to use it. Scottish popular feeling was
roused by the insult. Those of the clergy who tried to
use the new book were mobbed and insulted. The fact
that the new book was English roused the anger of
Scotchmen as much as the fact that it was, or appeared
to be, popish. The Scottish nobility almost to a man
threw themselves on the side of the Scottish clergy
and people. Their power was greater than that of
the English peers. They were sorely afraid lest Charles
should diminish their revenues for the benefit of the
clergy, and they saw with disgust bishops admitted to
temporal offices, and claiming precedence of themselves
in the Privy Council itself. Here, too, Charles's dis-
regard for the ideas of his subjects led to a disregard for
their interests. A national resistance was formed before
which the king was powerless. Twice he attempted to
bring the force of England to bear upon the Scots who
drove away his bishops and claimed to settle their affairs
without his concurrence. Twice he failed entirely.
Englishmen would not fight in such a cause. At last
the Scottish army gained possession of Northumberland
and Durham, and it was found necessary to summon a
parliament which would find him money to pay them off.

The Long Parliament, to call it by its historical name,
was naturally not disposed to find the king money with-
out demanding anything in return. Wentworth, now Earl
of Strafford, who had been the most energetic maintainer
of the king's system, was brought to the block. The Star
Chamber and the Ecclesiastical Commission were swept
away. The right to levy ship-money and customs without a
parliamentary grant was abandoned by the king, and, as
far as the law could bind him, Charles was reduced to act
in accordance with the wishes of his parliament. He even

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assented to an Act depriving himself of the power of dissolving the existing parliament without its own consent. Such an arrangement could not form a permanent $14. settlement. The formula that government is founded between on the co-operation of King, Lords and Commons sounds King and well. But it is no working rule for a constitution. In liament. every nation there must be some authority which is S. decisive, some man or body of men who have the power of saying the last word. Hitherto this power had been the king's. There would be no rest for England till it passed into the hands of the House of Commons. That which had been done, great as it was, had not been sufficient to deprive the king of the power of setting at nought to some extent the decisions of the Houses. If he had lost the right of dissolving Parliament he retained the right of refusing his assent to the Bills accepted by it, so that he could, without any effort of his own, put a stop to all further legislation. If he had given up the special courts by which his will had been enforced, and had even abandoned his right of levying the income without which he could not subsist with decency, he retained the command of the militia, which furnished the only military force then known, and the appointment of the officers by which it was controlled. Under any circumstances such a position would have been a menacing one. But the immediate danger lay in the fact that there was still a question of the first importance to be settled. The majority of the House of Commons proposed to modify the Book of Common Prayer in a Puritan sense. They also proposed to do away with Episcopacy, or at least to place it under the strongest possible restrictions. The bishops had been hard taskmasters to the Puritans, and the Puritans naturally thought that it would not be well to entrust the working of the new Church arrangements which they contemplated to men who



in their hearts wished to maintain the old order of things. The battle was transferred to the ecclesiastical ground. It was a battle in which the king had many chances, but he threw them all away. If he had stood upon the defensive, opinion might have rallied round him. Instead of that, he engaged in one intrigue after another, and at last his attack on the Five Members shocked those who feared what he might do if he regained his old authority. $15. The Yet even then Charles had a strong force on his side. King's Supporters. Old attachment to the monarchy and conservative dislike of change drew to him many supporters, especially amongst the country gentry. There was also working for him the dread of which Hyde was the spokesmanlest the law should be swamped by the arbitrary wilfulness of a single House-and the dread of which Falkland was the spokesman at Court, and of which Chillingworth and Hales were the spokesmen amongst thinkers-lest independent thought should be swamped by the dogmatism of the Puritan clergy. Still greater was the terrifying effect of the outburst of sectarian gatherings in London. and elsewhere. In the spring of 1642, as Milton tells us, the Royalists had forgotten to complain of the Puritans, in their alarm at the increase of the so-called Brownists. Yet none of Charles's new supporters had any power to construct a system under which Englishmen could live peaceably. Not only was no reliance to be placed on the king to carry out the reformed government in a befitting spirit, but there was weakness in the very proposals which were made by the statesmen whom he favoured. Hyde's constitutional theory was founded on the necessity of the co-operation between the king and the two Houses. He omitted to provide for the case, which sooner or later was certain to occur, when the king's will would be opposed to that of the Houses. He shrank from allowing the king to do as he pleased, and


to treat the Houses with contempt, as Charles in the CHAP. days of his power had been in the habit of treating them.But he also shrank from allowing the Houses to override the resolute will of the king, to control the executive, or to enact laws to which the royal assent had not been given. His constitutional scheme therefore had the gravest of all defects. There was no force anywhere to give it unity of purpose, no absolute power of decision to direct the march of government. In the region of thought, too, Charles's best supporters were equally astray. Falkland and Hales and Chillingworth agreed that persecution was an evil, that religious ideas should be accepted upon reason and not upon authority, and that religious worship should be simple in order that as many persons as possible might be able to join in it without finding anything to jar with their beliefs. They did not see that such a state of things could never have any real existence, that multitudes of men are so constituted as to have very great respect for authority and very little use of reason, that even with those who seek most keenly to know and understand, the power of habit, and the force of emotion have no small share in the direction of their intellect, and that even the simplest forms of worship would be but a mockery to those who found nothing in them answering to their own inner feeling, whilst it would be impossible to discover any form of worship whatever which would be acceptable to all. And if the best men on Charles's side could offer no true solution of the difficulties of the age, what was to be said of the bold riders who followed Rupert to the charge, and who had no principle beyond the hatred of rebels, and the love of a free life without constraint of morality or religion?

The constitutional ideas of the Parliamentary party were free from the weakness which was inseparable from



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the system of Hyde. It is true that they were ready to maintain the form of the old constitution. The government was to consist of King, Lords, and Commons as before. But, if it came to a struggle, King and Lords must yield to the Commons in a way that they had never done before. The final decision must rest with the nation itself, and be recorded by its representatives. When once this point was settled, it would be time enough to meet Hyde's difficulties, and to provide how the transmission of the supreme authority from the King to the Commons could be surrounded with safeguards to hinder its degenerating into a tyranny. Yet the House of Commons as a whole, and still more the narrow majority of the House of Commons which remained at Westminster after the outbreak of civil war, was incapable of giving to the ecclesiastical problem a solution even as complete as that which satisfied Falkland. That House had been elected to combat false ideas, not to organise a new system, and its mood was more distinctly Puritan than was in accordance with the ordinary temper of the nation. Its determination to tread in the path of Puritan reform alienated at once a large minority of its own members, and ultimately more than half of the nation. What had begun as resistance to absolute government in Church and State ended in a civil war, in order that it might be settled which of the contending ecclesiastical parties should prevail. Charles found himself supported by thousands who would not have fought for him for his own sake, but who had learned to value his authority as soon as it appeared that only its maintenance would preserve the Book of Common Prayer from rejection or mutilation. Those who took the side of Charles had to learn that with him as a leader success was impossible. Their adversaries rent in pieces the work of Laud, and were driven,

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