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right in 1628, twelve years before, had expressly abolished them; it cannot but strike every man of reflection with surprise, that Mr Hume should so far have lost sight of the duty of an historian, as to throw these circumstances into the shade. It was the obvious design of this accomplished writer to justify the Stuarts, particularly Charles the First, by seeking precedents in the preceding reigns for all the odious measures of that unhappy and misguided prince. In order to bring about this object, he is obliged to resort to some unworthy expedients. All the enormities of Queen Elizabeth's government are enumerated by him with great exactness, and condemned in the broadest terms, while the instances in which the Stuarts went beyond that princess in the exercise of the prerogative, are either palliated, or passed wholly by. We shall cite one instance out of many. It is that of ship money. In relating the events of the year 1626, the second of King Charles's reign, Mr Hume says,
• In order to equip a fleet, a distribution by order of the council was made to all the maritime towns; and each of them was required, with the assistance of the adjacent counties, to arm so many vessels as were appointed them. The city of London was rated at twenty ships. This is the first appearance, in Charles's reign, of ship money; a taxation which had once been imposed by Queen Elizabeth, but which afterwards, when carried a few steps farther by Charles, created such violent discontents.'
Here is a statement which is not absolutely untrue, and yet it is not difficult to prove, that Charles is the first English monarch who ever exacted ship money of his subjects as a source of revenue. A faint resemblance to this tax is found in the ancient Dane-gelt, a primitive kind of tax, resorted to when the kingdom was threatened with an incursion of the Danes; the proprietor of a given number of acres being called on to provide a horseman, those of a greater amount to furnish a ship. This had, however, been long disused, and no precedent can be found later than the reign of Edward the Third, for anything resembling it. Even the writs of that period merely authorized the crown to impress ships in the seaports on any sudden emergency, to be paid for by the public. The only precedent then was to be found, according to Mr Hume, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and what was it? That most dreadful exigency, the invasion of England by the Spaniards; one of those emergencies when all laws are suspended,—when the lives and properties of all are surrendered up for the general defence. That great princess, in this appalling crisis, did no more than second the zeal of her subjects, every class of whom was called on to contribute its share to the public service. The only question was, how it could be most effectually employed, all men seeing that their liberties and property were at stake.
• At this time,' says Mr Hume, 'the royal navy consisted only of twenty-eight sail, many of which were of small size, while the Spanish fleet amounted to one hundred and thirty galleons. All the commercial towns in England were required to furnish ships to reënforce this small navy; and they discovered, on the present occasion, great alacrity in defending their liberty and religion, against the imminent perils with which they were menaced. The citizens of Londoa, in order to show their zeal in the common cause, instead of afteen vessels which they were commanded to equip, voluntarily fitted out double the number. The gentry and nobility hired, and armed, and manned, forty-three ships at their own charge; and all the loans of money
demanded were frankly granted by the persons applied to.'
This is Mr Hume's precedent; which, it may be observed, extends equally to forced loans, as to ship money, the former of which, he himself expressly states, was once recommended by Lord Burleigh to Queen Elizabeth, but never carried into effect. This is a most extraordinary authority to bring forward for a tax of any sort. Upon the same principle, the military associations formed throughout the kingdom, when threatened with invasion by Bonaparte, would at any time be a sufficient precedent for a levy en masse. But allowing Mr Hume the advantage of it as far as it will serve him, we will proceed to examine the few steps taken by King Charles in advance of Queen Elizabeth, in this species of taxation. The first and by no means a trifling one, as will be seen by and by, is not thought worth mentioning at all by the historian; namely, the altering of the patents by which the judges held their offices, from the tenure of good behavior, to that of the king's pleasure. Another very important step, was demanding this tax at a time when no immediate danger existed, which certainly could not be said in the case of Queen Elizabeth. The first writs in the reign of Charles were directed to the seaport towns only, demanding, not ship money, but a given number of vessels. The next step was in 1634, to levy ship money upon the whole kingdom; each county being rated at a particular sum, which was afterwards assessed upon the individuals. This caused universal
discontent; insomuch that the king, in order to discourage all opposition, proposed this question to the judges; Whether in case of necessity, for the defence of the kingdom, he might not impose this taxation; and whether he were not the sole judge of the necessity?' These guardians of the law and liberty,' says Mr Hume, replied with great complaisance, “that in a case of necessity, he might impose that taxation, and that he was the sole judge of the necessity.”' Here was a stride which at once overstepped all the boundaries of law, and left the subject completely at the mercy of the crown. In this stage of the question it was, that Mr Hambden resolved, rather than tamely submit to so illegal an imposition, to stand a prosecution, and expose himself to all the indignation of the court. The case was argued twelve days in the exchequer chamber before the twelve judges, who gave judgment for the crown, four of them dissenting. The observations of Lord Clarendon on this decision, and on the characters of Noy and Finch, principally in reference to the matter of the ship money, although too long to be here inserted, discover a candor and sincerity we in vain look for in Mr Hume, and are enough of themselves to refute the proposition of the latter, in regard to the main origin of the civil wars.
We will now proceed to take a very general view of the progress of this controversy, and the actual state of the question, when the long parliament was convened; by which we think it will appear, that so far from being the puerile affair Mr Hume would be glad to represent it, the narrow policy of King Charles and his predecessors had raised up, from a small beginning, a system of persecution, which was only equalled by the enormities already enumerated. The complaint of the nonconformists, from the accession of Queen Elizabeth, had always been, the compelling by law, the use of habits and ceremonies in themselves indifferent. When the Protestant religion was reëstablished, on the accession of that princess, very little difference of opinion existed among the members of the English church in regard to articles of belief. A large body, however, both of the clergy and laity, were disposed to follow the example of their neighbors, the Scotch, and the reformed churches on the continent, in laying aside, not only the faith, but the vestments and ceremonies of the Romish church. A very strong party was equally bent on retaining them, among whom was the queen herself, who so far forgot her usual good sense, as to enter warmly into the controversy. In the first year of her reign were passed the acts of supremacy and uniformity, by the former of which the queen was authorized to establish a Court of High Commission, with full power in ecclesiastical matters, to visit, reform, redress, order, correct, and amend all errors, heresies, schisms, abuses, contempts, offences, and enormities whatsoever.' By virtue of this act, a Court of High Commission was soon raised, and not long after, the clergy were assembled in convocation, to settle the articles of belief, as well as the rites and ceremonies of the church. The vote for retaining the ceremonies passed the lower house of convocation by a single voice. The parochial clergy, however, were not very rigid in their adherence to all the forms prescribed, which gave so great offence to some of the bishops, that the matter was laid before the queen. Among other things equally momentous, it was represented to her majesty, that some administer the communion with surplice and cope; some with surplice alone; others with none; some with chalice, others with a communion cup; others with a common cup; some with unleavened bread, and some with leavened. That some receive kneeling, others standing, others sitting ; some baptize in a font, some in a bason, some sign with the sign of the cross, others sign not; some minister in a surplice, others, without; some with a square cap, some with a round cap, some with a button cap, some with a hat; some in scholars' clothes, some in others.' The queen was highly displeased with this report, and gave orders that all ministers who did not comply with the act of uniformity, should be deprived of their livings, or otherwise dealt with, as the Court of High Commission should direct. Here was a door opened for the most serious disputes, both parties as usual being tenacious and intolerant, just in proportion as the matter in question was futile and insignificant. The nonconforming ministers were hunted and vexed, until they began, to use Mr Neal's expression, to break off from the public churches, and to assemble as they had opportunity, in private houses, or elsewhere, to worship God in a manner that might not offend against the light of their consciences.' Here,' he adds,
was the era or date of the separation, the inevitable consequence of the previous coercive measures.
Thus matters went on for nearly twenty years, until the vexations of the nonconformists were become so intolerable, that notwithstanding the well known prejudice of the queen, in the year 1593, the subject was brought before parliament.
• Morrice, chancellor of the dutchy, and attorney of the court of wards, made a motion for redressing the abuses in the bishops' courts, but above all in the High Commission ; where subscriptions, he said, were exacted to articles at the pleasure of the prelates ; where oaths were imposed, obliging persons to answer to all questions without distinction, even though they should tend to their own condemnation ; and where every one, who refused entire satisfaction to the commissioners, was imprisoned without relief or remedy.' This step threw her majesty into a great rage; "she charged the speaker,' says Mr Hume, on his allegiance, if any such bills were offered, absolutely to refuse them a reading, and not so much as to permit them to be debated. This command of the queen was submitted to without further question. Morrice was seized in the house itself, by a sergeant at arms, discharged from his office of chancellor of the dutchy, incapacitated from any practice in his profession as a common lawyer, and kept some years prisoner in Tilbury Castle.' "The queen,' continues the same historian, “having thus expressly pointed out both what the house should and should not do, the commons were as obsequious to the one as to the other of her injunctions. They passed a law against recusants ; such a law as was suited to the severe character of Elizabeth, and to the persecuting spirit of that age. It was entitled, An act to restrain her majesty's subjects in their due obedience; and was meant, as the preamble declares, to obviate such inconveniences and perils, as might grow from the wicked practices of seditious sectarians and disloyal persons ; for these two species of criminals were always at that time confounded together, as equally dangerous to the peace of society. It was enacted, that any person, above sixteen years of age, who obstinately refused, during the
space of a month, to attend public worship, should be committed to prison ; that if, after being condemned for this offence, he persist three months in his refusal, he must abjure the realm; and that, if he either refuse this condition, or return after banishment, he is to suffer capitally as a felon, without benefit of clergy.'
This act should have been entitled, “An act for the encouragement and propagation of heresy and nonconformity.'
It is unnecessary to recite the instances of suffering and injustice during the remainder of this, and a part of the subsequent reign, resulting from this law; but it should never be forgotten, that it was shortly after the passing of it, that the migration to Holland took place, which more than twenty years afterwards led to the settlement of New England. We have just seen Mr Hume's opinion on this subject in the reign of Elizabeth. In that of Charles, he thinks resistance to such meas