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that mighty master-stroke, by which the powerful oppressor was in a moment cast down,-a prisoner in the hands of the people whose liberties he had so repeatedly outraged, and so daringly and contemptuously scoffed at and insulted-a prisoner, until liberated only by the hands of the executioner. Daring indeed were the deeds of this Parliament: “A Bill was proposed,” says Guizot, in his summary History of the English Revolution,” “ January 19th 1641, which prescribed the calling a Parliament 'every three years, at most.' If the king did not convoke one, twelve peers, assembled in Westminster, might summon one without his co-operation ; in default of this, the sheriffs and municipal officers were to proceed with the elections. If the sheriffs neglected to see to it, the citizens had a right to assemble and elect representatives. No Parliament could be dissolved or adjourned without the consent of the two Houses, till fifty days after its meeting; and to the Houses alone belonged the choice of their respective Speakers. At the first news of this Bill, the king quitted the silence in which he had shut himself
up, and assembling both Houses at Whitehall, January 23rd, said : 'I like to have frequent Parliaments, as the best means to preserve that right understanding between me and my subjects which I so earnestly desire. But to give power to sheriffs and constables, and I know not whom, to do my office, that I cannot yield to.' The House only saw in these words a new motive to press forward the adoption of the Bill. None dared counsel the king to refuse it; he yielded, but in doing so, thought it due to his dignity to show the extent of his displeasure. He said, 'I do not know for what you can ask, that I can hereafter make any question to yield unto you; so far, truly, I have had no encouragement to oblige you, for you have gone on in that which concerns yourselves, and not those things which merely concern the strength of this kingdom. You have taken the government almost to pieces, and I may say, it is almost off its hinges. A skilful watchmaker, to make clean his watch will take it asunder, and when it is put together again it will go all the better, so that he leaves not out one pin of it. Now, as I have done my part, you know what to do on yours.'-Feb. 16th, 1641.
“The Houses passed a vote of thanks to the king, and forthwith proceeded in the work of reform, demanding, in successive motions, the abolition of the Star Camber, of the North Court, of the Ecclesiastic Court of High Commission, and of all extraordinary tribunals."
Charles found that the dismissal of his previous Parliament was one of the most ill-judged actions of his life. In this Long Parliament the same men were brought together, all of them who possessed any influence or power; but whereas they came first prepared to conciliate and deal with the king generously and loyally, they came now prepared to trim down to the utmost all his prerogatives, and to extend and assert to the utmost the power of the people. It was the great battle-time of liberty and absolutism -the trial of monarchy and democracy. The king, beyond all question, pushed and urged his power to extremes, and so hurried the popular party on far beyond their original intention and design. We have the famous “Remonstrance of the state of the kingdom,” which, after a debate, stormy beyond all precedent, was carried through the House by the small and little satisfactory majority of nine ; only this remonstrance was a direct elevation of the democratic over the aristocratic interests of the country. It was ordered to be printed and published, with the concurrence of the upper House, and was, in fact, an appeal to the people against the king. But this, which so many have deprecated as wickedly unloyal and traitorous, was called for by the conduct of the king, who, during his absence in Scotland, in the time of its preparation, was known to be attempting to curb the power of the Parliament by the raising of a northern army.
The Grand Remonstrance has been but little understood. Yet what more natural, what more necessary, than the Remonstrance? It was the solemn call of the powerful spirits of the legislature to the king and to the nation to consider. The principles of the Remonstrance are now well known. It is a solemn catalogue of the evils and the tyranny beneath which the people groaned. Speaking of the taxes, Sir John Culpepper, a Royalist, says, "The taxes, like the frogs of Egypt, have gotten possession of our dwellings, and we have scarcely a room free from them. They sip in our cup, they dip in our dish, they sit by our fire ; we find them in the dye vat, washing bowl, and powdering box; they share with the butler in the pantry, they have marked us from head to foot, they will not bate us a pin.” The sovereign was bent on every illegal means of raising money. Yet the Long Parliament, after a very imperious speech from the king, voted him five subsidies, £350,000. It was an enormous sum for those days. Surely such men deserved some confidence. But the king would not halt on his grasping and
At this juncture the bishops precipitated matters by their unwise" Protestation,” addressed, by twelve of their number, to the Upper House, a protestation which the peers themselves, in a conference they held upon the matter, declared to contain "matters of dangerous consequence, extending to the deep entrenching upon the fundamental privileges and being of parliaments.” As to the bishops themselves, the Commons accused them of high treason, and on the next day ten of them were sent to the Tower, the two others, in regard to their great age, being committed to the custody of the Black Rod.
Rapidly now came on the tug of war. The king issued a declaration in reply to the Remonstrance. He sent the Attorney-General to the House of Lords to impeach one of the popular members, Lord Kimbolton, together with Hampden, Pym, and three other members of the Lower House; and, as if determined that no act of his should be wanting to justify the opposition of his enemies, he went next day to the House of Commons, attended by desperadoes—"soldiers of fortune "-armed with partizan, pistol, and sword, to seize the members denounced. This scene has been so often described, that it were quite a work of supererogation to describe it again here. Let all be summed up in a word. Reconciliation between the king and the Parliament was now impossible. The privileges of the House had been violated in a manner in which no monarch had dared to violate them before. And such a Parliament !men of the most distinguished courage and intelligence in the kingdom. The members he sought had escaped through the window. They fled in haste to the city. Thither the most distinguished members of the House followed them. They were protected by the Common Council from the king, who himself followed them to the city, demanding their bodies; but in vain. He was his own officer, both of military and police; but as he went along, the growls of “Privilege, privilege-privilege of Parliament,” greeted him everywhere. One of the crowd, bolder than the rest, approached his carriage, shouting, “To your tents, O Israel !” The king had given the last drop to fill up the measure of contempt with which he was regarded. He had struggled with his Parliament, and he was unsuccessful.