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tentions, usually happening in aristocracy, as likewise, the disordered confusions, common in single democracy; but yet a king bounded and compassed with laws above him, being the rules already made and give en him to rule by; and, with a necessity of concurrence and compliance, with lords and commons below him, for future legislative power and authority, and so avoiding the danger of tyranny usually incident to monarchies, which commonly makes the monarch's will the law, and so establishing the government upon this foundation,
Voluntas lex imperatoris esto. But, alas! when I have shewed you the frame and constitution of the late government, I have shewed you all the beauty of it; for, when you come to examine the practical part, you shall find nothing less ihan excellency, or perfection in it. Look into your own stories, and you shall always find the king and great lords, comites suos, as they were called, incroaching upon the people's liberties and rights, and incroaching to themselves superlative prerogatives and dominion over them. On the other side you shall find again the people struggling to preserve themselves and their own interests, labouring still to avoid the miseries, and to free themselves from the mischiefs of their sufferings.
The times and transactions, before the Norman William got the crown, and which past among the Britons, Romans, Danes, and Saxons, being dark and obscnre, I pass by, and, therefore, I shall only speak something of the times and transactions since.
First, The tyrannical domination of that first William and his son, the second William, gave the people to see their ensuing miseries; for, though they made choice of the second William, who was but a second son, and rejected Robert, his elder brother, yet they soon found their kindness was suddenly forgotten, when once the crown was obtained, and, therefore, they refused, when he was dead, to chuse again, till, by new engagements, oaths, and royal promises of better government, they were cheated into a second election of Henry the first, who was a younger brother likewise. But it was not long after before monarchy played rex, and pleasure and will ruled, and the whole kingdom almost was turned into forests; and the laws, which the people were brought to live under and obey, were the cruel and insupportable laws of the forest, which were made rather to preserve the beasts, than the people within the bounds of forests. Then the people, finding no other remedy, betook themselves to thoughts of reformation, as I told you at the first. And in the time of King John, at Renymeed, they demanded restitution of St. Edward's laws, for so they called that Saxon Edward, who was dead many years before, but without any heir or successor of that kind, (for we never read of any St. king since him:) and by those laws they say they will be governed, and to those laws they will conform. Hereupon a new compact is made, the articles of Renymeed, containing most of St. Edward's laws, are confirmed and established, by consent, in parliament, and so the people are for that tiine satisfied, and think themselves very safe, as they well might think so, under the security of an act of parliament. But yet this act proved no security, for, in a short time after, all was let loose again, and the same mischiefs and oppressions upon the people were still continued as before, and many more additions made thereto, to the utter inslaving of the English nation.
Hereupon the people stand up, once more, for their liberties and native rights in the ancient laws of the land, and demand, the second time, to have them confirmed, and to be kept from violation, and so, in the ninth year of King Henry the third, was the great charter of the liberties of England (being but a declaration of the ancient common laws of the land, and little differing from the articles of Renymeed, together with the charter of the forest) framed and consented to in full parliament, and are the first acts of parliament now extant in print. And so the people sat down again under the protection of this second security; but, how weak a security it proved, let the practice of the next King, and all succeeding Kings, tell you, though it had been confirmed and allowed by themselves two and thirty times; for in the two next Kings time you shall find the good men of the land discountenanced, and vain, loose, and wanton persons to be the men in highest esteem; nay, murderers and robbers, and the like, cherished and maintained, and, if brought to publick justice, and condemned for their misdoings, yet pardoned again, and set at liberty; and though (by the fundamental law) parliaments, (the usual salve for the people's sores) were to be called and held twice a year, yet were they laid aside, and rarely made use of; and then, when they were called, it was but to serve the king's turn, for granting subsidies, or the like. And therefore this when the people perceived, in the time of King Edward the Second, they thought fit to question his misgovernment, by articles of impeachment in parliament against him, and then to depose him from his kingly office, and to make his son, during his father's life-time, warden of the kingdom, and shortly after they made him King (while his father lived) by the name of Edward the Third. And now are acts of parliament made against the former mischiefs: First, against the King's granting pardons to robbers and murderers; and four acts of parlia. ment are made at the neck of one another, and pursuing one before, telling the king plainly, that he may not, he must not grant pardons, but where he may do it by his oath, namely, in case of homicide, by misfortune, and homicide, in his own defence. Secondly, for more frequent holding of parliaments, namely, that they should be held once a year, and oftener, if need be. But little effect did these produce, for the mischiefs have continued, and the people have still suffered, by the breach of those laws, even until these very times, the very same mischiefs as before.
In the time of King Richard the Second, the disorders of the court, and oppressions upon the people from thence, were so great and unsupportable, that the people articled against that King, and likewise deposed him, and so they afterward did in like manner depose King Henry the Sixth, and King Edward the Fourth, by consent in parliament. Thus you see how the exercise of kingly office, within this nation, hath been made use of to the damage of the people, and how the people again have put in use their authority over their kings, to call them to an account for their misgovernment. Touching the last king, much hath been said, and too much hath been felt by this country, in
relation to the last war. But pardon me, if I tell you so, it was a just punishment of God upon us of this county; for, I may truly say, the water had its rise and beginning here, here in this county, nay, here in this court, for this was the first place in England where any grand juries of the county charged themselves and their countrymen with any tax to raise a war against the publick interest of the people, as they did here when, at the summer assizes in the year 1642, they charged the county with a tax of eight thousand six hundred pounds, to maintain a thousand dragoons, upon pretence to keep the country in peace. But alas! the dragoons were no sooner raised, but they were made use of for another service, namely, to attend the King's standard at Nottingham, and from thence were carried to fight at Edge-hill against the parliament forces, for better keeping the peace in Yorkshire; and though it be true, that this tax of eight thousand six hundred pounds was never levied, yet our own great lords and gentlemen made it the founda. tion and rise of another tax of thirty thousand pounds, which they laid and levied upon the county in October after, for bringing in the Earl of Newcastle and his forces.
But (as I said before) God's punishment is just upon us; for, as the war began here, so it hath ever since continued among us, and even at this day, when all the rest of the kingdom is in peace and quietness, only we are now upon sieging, at our own charge, of your cursed castle at Pontefract, which began at first, and continues to be the last of our enemies hold and garisons within this nation.
But to retạrn to the point of the King's incroachments upon the people's liberties, and therein I will clearly tell you my own thoughts in one particular, and instance in that one, but it is, to my apprehension, unum magnum, and instar omnium; it is as the lion said of her whelp, when the fox upbraided her, that she was not so fruitful in procreation as the fox, but brought forth only one lion at once; it is true, saith the lion, but that one is a lion; and so I may say by the King's negative voice in parliament; for admit but this one piece of prerogative to be just, and consonant to the constitution of the government, and I dare affirm, that the people of England were in a possibility, by that constitution of government, to be as arrant slaves and vassals, as were in Turky, or among the Moors in the gallies: For let the King put what oppression he will upon the people, let their grievances and burthens he never so great, and let him, at the people's desire, call parliaments for redresses thereof never so often, and let never so good bills be prepared and presented to him for reformation, yet still he shall put them off with ihis royal compliment, Le Roy s’advisera, signifying, quoad the practice, in plain English, ‘I will not help you, nor release the unjust Lurthens and oppressions I have laid upon you.'
But add to this that other incroachment of the lords negative voice upon the people, which they also have with much lordliness practised in answer to the commons bills, though of the highest concernment for their weal, however they express that negative in court-language and good words, “ We will send an answer by messengers of our own;' as if the people should expect they meant to return some concurrence with
them, when, God knows, nothing is less thought upon, or meant by them.
And now let the people see their own condition, now let them consider how they have been abused by good words and phrases, which if they had clearly and universally understood the meaning of, or if these negatives bad been clearly expressed, in downright language, “We will not help you! or,'' We will not ease you of your burthens or oppressions that lie so heavy upon you,' truly then I presume the people
' would long since have been stirred up to help themselves, and to have endeavoured as well to take away the mischief, as to avoid the misery of such a government. For my own part, I speak it freely from my heart, that as I am a free-man, both by birth, and education, and am inheritable to the laws and free-customs of England; so I do naturally desire the security of government, and I do willingly submit to the justice of known laws: But I have ever abhorred all arbitrary powers, or to be subject to the wills or passions of men; and therefore I have always thought, since I could think any thing upon the grounds of judgment or reason, that, so long as these two fore-inentioned negatives remained upon the people, there could be no security or freedom in the government held over them; and there was no one thing that hath so firmly fixed me in the way I have gone, and wherein I now am, and to oppose the other, as, the mischiefs I understood to be in the two negative voices of the King and the lords: Adding to this the two fundamental court-errors, and destructive positions, maintained and held forth to the people by flattering royalists, and proud and ambitious prelates, viz.
, that the King had an original right to rule: And, secondly, that the King was accountable to nune but God for his misgoveriment; for, lay but these two together with the negative voice, and let any man judge what they may and must necessarily produce, in point of tyranny and oppression over the people.
I trust I have shewed you the true original of all just power and authority, and from whence it is that the exercise of authority and power is practised among men over one another; I have shewed you also the justice which lies in this: That Kings, rulers, and governors, and particularly the King of this nation, should be accountable to the people for their misgovernments’; and how destructive a tenet it is to say, That a King hath right to rule over men upon earth, and that yet God hath not given a power to earthly men to call him to account for misgovernment;' unless you will suppose that Kings at first did fall from heaven, and were sent down from above to exercise their wills, and act their lusts below.
And having said thus much upon this subject, only to give a hint, from whence you may observe (till the parliament's own declaration be published, which, I hope, will fully and clearly set them out) what the grounds and reasons were, that the parliament had found the kingly office, within this nation, to be useless and dangerous; and why, therefore, they will no more trust the crown upon the head of any one person, nor transfer the custody of the liberties of England, and Englishmen, into the power of another, who may abuse them; and, therefore, why, likewise, they resolve to keep the crown within its proper place, the ca.
binet of the law, and to allow the law only to king it among
people; and that the people themselves [by their representatives] shall be the only keepers of their own liberties, by authority derived from their own supreme and sovereign power, established in law and common surety: Which brings me now to the stile of our commissions, Custodes libertatis Angliæ authoritate parliamenti.
And, touching the King of England's right to rule, or title of law, by inheritance and descent, to the crown of England, thus much may be safely and truly said: That, if it be an ancient and original inheritance fixed in any one family, it was gained at first by the power of the sword, and by conquest; which title, in law, is but a disseisin, and an unlawful title, and therefore may be again as justly regained, as it was gained at first by force, and by the stronger arm and sharper sword. And, as it was so gained at first, so it hath been ever since, either by the like pure force, or else by consent of parliament, upon particular cases, kept and continued ; and so you will find, if you look, how every King, since the Norman William (called the Conqueror) came to the crown: For, of all those five-and-twenty Kings and Queens, which have since that time kinged it among us, there are but seven of them, who could pretend legally to succeed their former predecessors, either by lineal or collateral title. I have not leisure to repeat the particulars; and this, I have said, may serve to give you occasion (if you be so minded) to look further into it, and to satisfy your judgments herein, and, by consequence, to keep you from engaging against yourselves, and the nation, for a name, or for a thing, which is not truth.
And now I come to that, which is our true business, our work of the first magnitude, opus diei in die suo, the articles of your charge, which I intend (for the better helping of your memories) to deliver to you in writing, with the laws and the punishments; and briefly to run over the rehearsal of the facts only, without further mention concerning them; yet with such necessary expositions and explanations of particulars, as shall be needful in my passage through them; adding only this for an animadversion to you, that you and I are trusted, at this time, with the administration of justice in our own country, amidst all the temptations, which our several relations of friends, kindred, or acquaintance, can offer unto us; which shews, that they, who do so trust us, have great assurance and confidence in us; and then we must conclude, that this confidence puts a greater obligation upon us to fidelity and integrity in the discharge and performance of that trust committed to us. Add to this that vinculum animæ, the bond of the soul, the obligation of an oath, and I doubt not but it will be found, that, though love, fear, and particular interest be the usual cords which halter justice, yet, at this time, they will be found to be, among us, but sorry
and unmasculine pieces of rhetorick, either to affright us from, or soften us in our duties.
The matter of your charge will be to enquire into, and find out the several offences, which have
been committed and done against the politick body of the commonwealth, as so many several diseases and infirmis ties in the several parts of the natural body of a man, which distemper and endanger the health of the whole; and they are of four sorts.