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the gratulations of Oxford upon the marriage of the Elector Palatine with the Princess Elizabeth, the marriage which gave birth to Prince Rupert, who led the troops at Chalgrove Field, on which Hampden was slain! Hampden
Hampden married in 1619, and his marriage seems to have been singularly happy; but he did not retain his wife long. He first represented the old borough of Grampound, in the eighteenth year of the reign of King James I.; then he represented Wendover, in the two Parliaments in the first and third years of the reign of Charles I. ; but in the fifteenth and sixteenth years of the same reign he sat for the county of Buckinghamshire.
His family was so eminent,-it traced itself in unbroken line from the earliest Saxon times, and derived even its name and possessions from Edward the Confessor,—that it is not singular that his mother was very desirous that he should increase the family dignity by attaining to that to which it would have been easy to attain, the peerage. This was before the great troubles set in. Hampden seems to have had no ambition of this kind, and saw clearly that the sphere in which he could most effectively serve his country was the House of Commons; and, in his rank as a country gentleman, he was perhaps equal in the several particulars of wealth, lineage, and intelligence to any commoner there. To the impressions of the present writer the character of Hampden seems to shine out with singular clearness, but many writers have affected to charge him with the indulgence of ambitious rather than patriotic motives in the great struggle. This arises from the fact of the deep secrečiveness of his character, a characteristic in which he was perhaps the equal of his mighty cousin, and, indeed, had he been preserved to the close of the war, the course of events after might have been different. He had far more practical sagacity, a far profounder knowledge of what the nation needed, than either Sir Harry Vane, Algernon Sidney, or Bradshaw. He was not an extreme man; he was probably, no more than Cromwell, a dreaming, theoretical republican. He desired to save the kingdom from the doom of intolerant and arbitrary government in Church and State ; and as an upright member of Parliament, he threw himself at once into the struggle. He may be almost spoken of as certainly one of the very first who stood forward, with resolution and courage, as the champion of liberty, defying the sovereign in law, and denying his right to levy ship-money. He stood in the pathway of exorbitant power; he refused to pay a tax-trifling to him-because it was levied by the king without the consent of Parliament. He appealed to the laws, and he brought the question to a trial.
The Long Parliament has been called the fatal Parliament. It protected itself at once against dissolution by resolving that it would only be dissolved by its own act; for it had been abundantly proved that “with Charles no Parliament could be safe, much less useful to the country, that did not begin
by taking the whole power of Government into its own hands."! To this Parliament Hampden's was a
1 double return, for Wendover and for his own county of Buckinghamshire. He elected to sit for the latter; and it soon became very clear that this Parliament represented the indignation of a whole people thoroughly determined to redress long existing and grievous wrongs. We have sufficiently referred to this in preceding pages. Hampden was not a fierce or fiery spirit; indeed, both Hampden himself, and the men by whom he was surrounded, were characters not very easily read. Charles was Charles was as unequal to a conflict
a with them as a child. They had to deal with a man, the son of one who esteemed himself to be a specially adroit master in dissimulation, and who had certainly left to his son, as a legacy, his lessons and experiences in king-craft. We have seen that with Charles it was impossible to be clear or true; dissimulation was the weapon by which he had sought to circumvent the tactics of the great leaders. They were compelled to use the same weapons, and they vanquished him. Hume, speaking of Hampden and Sir Harry Vane, and including, of course, Cromwell, says, “Their discourse was polluted with mysterious jargon, and full of the lowest and most vulgar hypocrisy.” The hypocrisy which Hume charges on Hampden and his fellow-workers, amounts to no more than that they were men thoroughly determined not to be
· Lord Nugent's "Life of John Hampden."
circumvented, and to knock away the entire scaffolding which went to the support of arbitrary and illegal power; and they illustrated this at once, in resolving on the indissolubility of their own Parliament, and the impeachment which led to the death of Strafford. Inevitably the sword was unsheathed in the nation. May, in his “ History of the Long Parliament,” says, “The fire when once kindled cast forth, through every corner of the land, not only sparks but devouring flames; insomuch that the kingdom of England was divided into more seats of war than counties, nor had she more fields than skirmishes, nor cities than sieges; and almost all the palaces of lords, and other great houses, were turned everywhere into garrisons of war. Throughout England sad spectacles were seen of plundering and firing villages ; and the fields, otherwise waste and desolate, were rich only, and terribly glorious, in camps and armies.”
Now comes a third great period of Hampden's life; for his life consists of three stages. First, when his mind was maturing its wishes and intentions, when he felt the dishonour and the distress of the country so much that it is said he meditated with Cromwell embarking for America; then came the second period, when he stood forth the bold and earnest counsellor, attempting to avert by his wisdom the overt acts of despotism on the one side, and the possibility of rebellion, so-called, on the other; then came the third period, when, under the woody brows of the Chiltern Hills, he sought to marshal the militia of his native
county. With prodigious activity, unceasingly he laboured, and sought to form the union of the six associated midland counties. As might be expected from his character, he was mighty in organization, and he deserves the principal honour, perhaps, of having brought all those counties to act as one compacted machine. He gathered all his green-coats together, and formed them into a company which told with immense effect on the issues of the war. But he was one of the first who fell. It was on Sunday morning, the 18th of June, 1643, being in the second year of the war, he received a mortal wound in a skirmish on Chalgrove Field. It was near to the scenery of his school-boy life, Thame. It is a tradition that he was seen first moving in the direction of his father-in-law's house at Pyrton. Thither he was wont to go, when a youth, courting his first wife, whom he had very tenderly loved; from that house he had married her. It was thought that thither he would, had it been possible, have gone to die. But Rupert's cavalry were covering the plain between ; so he rode back across the grounds of Hazeley, on his way to Thame.
He paused at the brook which divides the parishes; he was afraid to dismount, as he felt the impossibility of remounting if he alighted. He summoned a momentary strength, cleared the leap; he was over, reaching Thame in great pain, and almost fainting. He found shelter in the house of one Ezekiel Brown, and six days after, having suffered cruelly, almost without intermission, he died; but