Imágenes de páginas

It then, denying the power of godliness, becomes but an outward form; and, as it is concluded in the text, a religion that is in vain. Of such religion in this place, or at these times, I impeach no man. Let their own consciences accuse them. Of such devotion I make no judgment upon others, but leave them to the Searcher of all hearts. This only for caution I address to you: that if any of us have been guilty in this kind, let us now here repent it. And let us remember that repentance is not in words. It is not a 'Lord! Lord !' that will carry us into heaven, but the doing the will of our Father which is in heaven. And to undo our country is not to do that will. It is not that Father's will that we should betray that mother. Religion, repentance, prayer, these are not private contracts to the public breach and prejudice. There must be a sincerity in it all; a throughout integrity and perfection, that our words and works be answerable. If our actions correspond not to our words, our successes will not be better than our hearts. When such near kindred differ, strangers may be at odds; and the prevention of this evil is the chief reason that I move for. Nor is it without cause that this motion does proceed. If we reflect upon the former passages of this place, much might be thence collected to support the propriety of the caution. But the desire is better, to reform errors than to remember them. My affections strive for the happiness of this meeting, but it must be had from God. It is His blessing though our crown. Let us for Him, therefore, in all sincerity expect it; and if any by vain shadows would delude us, let us distinguish between true substances and those shadows. It is religion, and not the name of religion, that must guide us; that in the truth thereof we may with all unity be concordant : not turning it into subtlety and art, playing with God as with the powers of men; but in the sincerity of our souls doing that work we came for. Which now I most humbly move, and pray for that blessing from above."

His attacks upon the illegalities of the last two years were as brave as before: the state of maritime affairs-the suspension and violation of statutes. With much condemnation, however, a vote of five subsidies was granted to the king; but the time when the collection was to be made, or the Bill introduced, was not mentioned. The House immovably resolved that both were to depend on the good faith of the king. It was the greatest grant ever made in Parliament. The Secretary, on behalf of the king, proceeded to thank the House, but coupled thanks of Buckingham with thanks of the king. Sir John Eliot leaped up, and taxed Mr. Secretary with intermingling a subject's speech with the king's message : "in that House they knew of no other distinction but that of king and subjects." Whereupon many of the House made exclamation, “ Well spoken, Sir John Eliot !"

There were, to our minds, some extraordinary subjects of debate, especially on the king's claim to commit without cause shown on the face of the war

rant. “The greatest question," exclaimed Pym, " that ever was in this place or elsewhere !” Selden and Coke both spoke upon it. "What,” answered Coke, “shall I accept such law? Shall I have a state of inheritance for life, or for years, in my land, and shall I be a tenant at will, for my liberty! A freeman to be a tenant at will for his freedom! There is no such tenure in all Littleton.” We follow with earnest interest those discussions in which Eliot took so great and prominent a part, out of which came into existence the immortal Petition of Rights. These are great debates, greater debates are not recorded in history. “Magna Charta is such a fellow,” said Coke, "he will have no Sovereign." The great charter of the people's liberties was upheld and strengthened by the Petition of Rights.

And it is in the course of these debates that the stately form of Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, rises to the life. Wentworth's was no vulgar ambition; there is little reason to think that any such spirit, textured as his was, could have any hearty sympathies with the people or with freedom. True, his voice was also heard in favour of the great Petition of Rights; but Mr. Forster has very distinctly brought out the reason of this. He had been thwarted by Buckingham, and the majestic and powerful man-to whom, in the great gallery of statesmen, Buckingham bore some such resemblance as a butterfly might bear to an eagle-taught the favourite more rightly to estimate his power. Wentworth had been refused the Presidentship of York. He became the most ardent supporter of the Petition of Rights. He was insulted by Buckingham. He revenged, in an instant and remarkable manner, the insult. It was speedily atoned, and as speedily forgiven; and then wentworth is before us with a cloud of eloquent words, attempting to evaporate, or pour some haze round, an apparent burst of indignant eloquence, when he found himself on a previous night in company with the great voices of the defenders of the people. It is a picture on which we like to look-these two unquestionably foremost men of their parties, Eliot and Wentworth, in their famous duel. Eliot rose immediately with ease, to measure himself with his formidable antagonist. In a noble speech, he appealed to Wentworth against Wentworth. There was no man in the House better fitted to appreciate the singular dignity and grandeur of Eliot's spirit than this dark, majestic complotter against the liberties of England. Eliot printed himself ineffaceably on Wentworth's mind; and twelve years later, when the mesh was almost woven, he nerved himself for conflict-when Eliot was all dust beneath the Tower Green, and hours of danger were leaping rapidly upon himself-by calling up the image of his old antagonist; and no finer tribute was offered to the memory of Eliot than Wentworth uttered when he said, “Sound or lame, I shall be with you before the beginning of Parliament. I should not fail, though Sir John Eliot were living” In the discussion on which we are now looking, Eliot obtained


As we


an easy victory over the dark, ambitious man, whose day was hastening on, though not yet come. read the story of his life, it stirs feelings of pride for our country, and homage for the men who have glorified and adorned it. We must pass over the strong language and persistent remonstrances to the king on the conduct of his minister. The report of the Committee of Trade was a lamentable one. The losses by pirates continued to be amazing; two hundred and forty-eight ships, of a hundred tons and upwards, had been seized and lost between Dover and Newcastle. Seamen were wronged by inadequate wages and uncertain payment, and the want of hospitals for their reception was shown. As the events drive forward through the House, what scenes those are which meet us—a whole House in tears, and such a House ! Not a congregation of weak, feeble minds, but strong sagacious lawyers, daring, resolute men, all aghast at the desolation falling on the country. Speeches were interdicted by messages from the king, until at last, in response to a speech of the octogenarian Sir Edward Coke, that “the author of all these miseries was the Duke of Buckingham,” strange shouts arose on every side, and a loud cry was heard of "The Duke, the Duke! 'tis he, 'tis he!” In the midst of all, while Eliot was engaged in unwebbing the abominations and the intricacies of the Court, death served his adversaries a good turn. A heavy calamity fell upon Eliot. We read on Friday, June 20th, in the Commons' Journal, a notice, “Sir John Eliot, in respect of

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »