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monarch were the remainder of the upper class, great part of the legal profession, the courtiers and persons attached to the sovereign, and that part of the lower class under their influence. At the first breaking out of the civil war, that is, after Charles raised his standard at Nottingham, some doubt might be entertained as to the termination of the contest; but as it became protracted, it was evident that the result must be in favour of Parliament, as public opinion daily grew stronger, from the discussions on popular rights which such a contest would naturally produce, whilst the other side became proportionably weaker from the same cause.

Some passages from leading historians of those days, taking the facts they state without any of their conclusions, may throw a light on the subject.

The decision of the judges in favour of the king in the case of ship-money, did his cause great injury with the public, and made Hampden more popular than ever. Lord Clarendon says, "And here the damage and mischief cannot be expressed that the Crown and state sustained by the deserved reproach and infamy that attended the judges, by being made use of in this and like acts of power, there being no possibility to preserve the dignity, revenue, and estimation of the laws themselves, but by the integrity and innocence of the judges." *

From this it appears, that something like public feeling was manifested, since the decision of the

* Vol. i. p. 109.

judges in Hampden's case occasioned so much disgust in the minds of the people.

Whenever the state of parties in a country is such as to render it probable that a civil war might be the result, the good feeling of the people, and the influence of whatever public opinion exists, is so decidedly averse from such a measure, that for a length of time the community will remain passive, more especially when public opinion is not sufficiently manifested to determine the question unanimously and without difficulty.

This seems to have been the state of affairs in England at the beginning of the dissensions in the reign of Charles I. Public opinion deemed the acquisition of certain rights indispensable for the security of the people, and was determined they should be obtained; but no desire, had the proper concessions then been made, could exist in the most intellectual and best informed, to drive affairs to extremity, or to set themselves in open defiance to the authority of the Crown. The third Parliament summoned by Charles could not, from the property possessed by its members, be desirous of upsetting the laws, or of creating confusion: they are thus described: "When the Commons assembled, they appeared to be men of the same independent spirit with their predecessors, and possessed of such riches, that their property was computed to surpass three times that of the House of Peers." *

* Sanderson, p. 106.

At the commencement of the contest between Charles and his Parliament, public opinion, though probably adverse to civil war, and conscious of the dangers to which individual property in the country would be exposed, seems yet to have been aware, that no alternative remained, and that either the political rights which the people were entitled to claim must be abandoned, or an opposition must necessarily be made to the King's prerogative. Then did public opinion gradually rise against the monarch, and support the proceedings of the Parliament, until Charles was in their power. *His reign (Charles I.) both in peace and war, was a continual series of errors; so that it does not appear that he had a true judgment of things. He was out of measure set on following his humour, but unreasonably feeble to those whom he trusted, chiefly to the queen. He had too high a notion of the regal power, and thought that every opposition to it was rebellion."†

In the subsequent proceedings, such as the cruel

* "In some debate in the Commons' House, respecting an alleged libel, Marten defended the writer, and in his speech said, it was certainly better, in the case of a nation and its government, that one family should be destroyed than many. Another member of the House interrupted him, to inquire to whom he alluded. Marten immediately rejoined, 'The King and his children.' For these words he was expelled the House (Aug. 16.) and sent to the Tower, and not restored to his seat for two years and four months.". Journal of the Commons, Sept. 2.

+ Burnet's Hist. of his Own Times, book i.

condemnation of Charles, and Cromwell's domination over the parliament, public opinion had no concern. These, and similar acts, were the work of the army and of its ambitious leaders, headed by the dictator, and could not be sanctioned by the welldisposed part of the nation. * The middle class had, indeed, risen into notice, and into some importance; but it was not sufficiently powerful to oppose a successful resistance, even if so inclined, to the lower class and a fanatical army, led by a favourite general. Nearly the same observation will apply to the state of the middle class in France at the close of the last century, as we may attempt to show when the progress of civilisation in that country is under consideration.

No reasonable doubt can be entertained that the conduct of that unfortunate monarch, Charles I., had alienated from him the entire middle class of the nation. This is evident, not only from the assistance given to the parliamentary forces during the continuance of the civil war, but from the several publications of those days, and by the votes and sentiments of the Commons, before the total rupture with the monarch had taken place.

* "Cromwell and his council had made such abundant use of arbitrary imprisonment, that they had become utterly insensible to the character to which such a proceeding is justly entitled. They imprisoned men on suspicion, or without suspicion, often by way of precaution only, and set them at liberty when they pleased, or retained them as long as they pleased.”. Burnet's Hist. of the Commonwealth, vol. iv. p. 277.

154

CHAPTER VI.

CIVIL WAR.

The Nation adverse from proceeding to Extremities against their Sovereign.-A Change required by Public Opinion.-Cromwell's Government more despotic even than that of Charles. - Puritan Sentiments prevalent.-Middle Class not trusted by the Government of Charles.

MUCH as the desire for liberty had increased in the nation, and anxious as were the best informed of the community to secure their persons and property from the caprice of the executive power, and to establish a constitutional form of government, yet no desire existed, as already observed, in the people to proceed to the extreme lengths which were adopted by Cromwell and his brother regicides, supported, not by the public sentiment, but by fanaticism, and hatred to royalty.

"They who of late," says Milton, speaking of the Long Parliament, "were extolled as our greatest deliverers, and had the people wholly at their devotion, did not only weaken and unfit themselves to be dispensers of what liberty they pretended, but unfitted also the people, now grown worse and more disordinate, to receive or to digest any liberty at all."

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