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called forth the interference of Hampden and his party. When Charles I. succeeded to the throne, the doctrine of Divine Right was maintained with a high hand.
Both James and Charles attempted to push the most extravagant parts of this theory into practice, so that the necessity of extending the basis upon which the assertion of popular freedom was to be maintained, appeared obvious to every well-directed mind. A determined party was formed in the House of Commons, for the purpose of resisting the despotic pretensions of the sovereign; and, in the course of a few sessions, the members of this small body, with Hampden at their head, discharged their duties to the public with such zeal and effect, as to draw upon them the direct vengeance of the government.
• The selection of certain eminent persons, at the close of each Parliament, to expiate to the Court their opposition to its measures, had been a course adopted, though with doubtful success, three times before. Now, for the first time, Joho Hampden was considered to be of sufficient public importance to be ranked among its victims. When the King, in pursuance of his threat to resort to new modes of raising supplies, required a general loan equal to the last assessment for a subsidy (in the raising of which it was announced that persuasion, if ineffectual, was to be only the forerunner of force), Hampden resolutely refused his part; and on being asked why he would not contribute to the King's necessities, made this bold and remarkable reply.*
• " That he could be content to lend, as well as others, but feared to draw upon himself that curse in Magna Charta, which should be read twice a year against those who infringe it."
The Privy Council, not being satisfied with his own recognizance to appear at the Board, although answerable with a landed property, nearly the largest possessed by any commoner of England, committed him to a close and rigorous imprisonment in the Gate-house. Being again brought before the Council
, and persisting in his first refusal, he was sent in custody, although a mitigated one, into Hampshire.'-vol. i. pp. 107, 108.
A series of mischances in the naval operations of the country, taught Charles the necessity of striving to conciliate his subjects; and, by virtue of some limited act of amnesty passed by the King, Hampden, with seventy-seven persons of various conditions, was set at liberty. Persecution had, on this occasion, its usual influence in raising its martyr in general estimation. Hampden's influence went on increasing, and in every important measure which was referred to a committee, he was invariably chosen as one of its members. But shortly before the dissolution of Parliament in 1628-29, perhaps despairing of carrying any measure of redress, and anxious to ascertain if a short period of abstraction from public business, would enable him to resume bis parliamentary duties with better chances of success than he could then reckon upon, Hampden retired to the privacy of his estate in Buckinghamshire. In the meantime, the despotic nature of Charles was indulging itself, at
the expense of every class of the people, in all its wildest excesses. . The very foundations of society appeared to have been undermined, and every regard for virtue nearly eradicated in the kingdom, by the example of licentiousness, political as well as moral, which the monarch had presented to his subjects.
* Luxury, impiety, and excess, prevailed amongst the higher orders; and the pompous ceremonial and fiery intolerance of the clergy, opposed but a feeble barrier, if any, to their increase. The sober-minded, and of these, the far greater proportion amongst the yeomanry and the country gentry, by habit and example, endeavoured to stem the torrent which threatened alike the morals and the freedom of their country. Even those among them who were indolent or unskilful to watch the advantages of prerogative, still clove with reverence to the reviled customs and scruples of their simple life, and sadly, but irresolutely, saw all the ties loosening which bind a free and reflecting people to a government of law. Nor did the crisis they deprecated appear distant. Many foresaw that slavery must either be fixed upon themselves and their posterity, or shaken off by an effort such as no good man could but dread and deplore. Deprived of all prospect of relief from Parliament, forbidden by proclamation, forbidden from the bench, the pulpit, the throne, to speak of asserting their ancient privileges in a parliamentary way, they looked forward to the alternative with affliction and dismay; whilst the manners of a great part were so corrupt, that, unable to bear patiently the pressure of misgovernment, they were ill prepared to remonstrate.'- vol. i. pp. 203, 204.
When we consider the state of the country and the government at the period here alluded to, we shall not be surprised to find that but little attention was bestowed on objects of foreign policy. Powerful merchants at home, and the feeblest states abroad—the one by forced monopolies, the other by the exaction of tributes, which we had not the courage or the means to resist-nearly annihilated our commerce ; whilst, at the same time, the pirates of the Mediterranean insulted and plundered our very shores with impunity. All these calamities pressed so grievously on the nation, that the government could not avoid attending to the numerous complaints to which they gave rise. But Charles, pretending that all these evils arose from the limited resources which the parliament supplied him, for the purpose of asserting the inviolability and honour of the country, thought himself justified in resorting to fresh acts of power for recruiting his exchequer; and in October, 1634, issued 'the fatal writ for levying the impost of the ship money-"a word,” exclaims Lord Clarendon, “ of a lasting sound in the memory of this kingdom.” This document marks the commencement of that great historical tragedy, of which the decapitation of the king was the well-known catastrophe.
The truth of history demands that we should remove the notion popularly entertained, that Hampden was the first who opposed the levying of the ship money. The glory of originating the national resistance to this impost, belongs to a man who, though his name be not emblazoned in the calendar of our political saints, will receive from
all the true worshippers of liberty, that homage which is due to one of its most heroic confessors. Richard Chambers, the individual alluded to, had already given proof of the noble spirit which may lurk in the humble form of a London silk mercer. He opposed, in still more precarious times, an attempt on the part of the Crown to burden his bale of imported “silk grograms,” with an arbitrary duty, for which attempt the Star Chamber fined him in the sum of 2,0001., and ordered him to be committed to the Fleet. But the terrors of a prison could not bend the intrepid soul of Chambers, for when the emissaries of government waited on him with an offer of liberation, on condition of his signing a form of submission, confession, and repentance, he bravely traced upon the paper these remarkable words; “ All the above said contents I, Richard Chambers, do utterly abhor and detest, as most unjust and false; and never till death will acknowledge any part thereof.” At the time that Hampden opposed the levy of the ship money, this impost had assumed a far more repugnant and oppressive character, than could be attributed to it in Chambers's time; for, at first, the duty was exacted from the City of London alone; next it was extended to the maritime towns : but when Hampden was provoked to resistance, the government had carried its extortion to such an extent, as to require from an inland district like Buckinghamshire, a large contribution, as if it came under the description of a maritime county. He therefore had upon his side, the reason, and sense, and feeling, of every subject in the country in his favour. He undertook to put the great question of the authority of the king in this case to issue. The amount of the rate which Hampden refused to pay, was only thirty-one shillings and sixpence, yet it subsequently turned out to be the full price of a splendid diademi. The judicial proceedings which subsequently took place, the intrigues, the tampering with the judges, and the final result of this great contest, are given in minute detail by Lord Nugent: but, as being familiar to most of our readers, they cannot properly occupy any portion of our pages. The case occupied the attention of the judges during several terms, and in its progress, is distinguished for having produced very unusual variations of opinion in the same minds. It is said of Croke, one of the judges, that he was preparing to support the exactions of the king, in opposition to the dictates of his conscience, when he was reproached for this baseness by his wife. She cast the shield of her feminine virtue,' says Lord Nugent, 'before the honour of her husband, to guard it from the assaults equally of interest and fear; and with that moral bravery, which is so often found the purest and brightest in her sex, she exhorted him to do his duty, at any risk to himself, to her, or to her children ; and she prevailed. When the decision was at last made, it is well known that several judges gave their opinions against the power of the king, and this circumstance only added to the general disgust which was felt at the award itself. The alarms of the country became more intense, particularly since it was about
this time that Bishop Laud was permitted to revive the horrid accompaniments which formed, in a remoter day, the ordinary punishment of the pillory. The chief members of the Puritan party, as it was called, saw safety only in a speedy flight, and began to collect their effects in order to migrate to some new settlements in America. But the king, predestined to be the direct instrument of his own destruction, absolutely defeated the intention of this people, by restraining all ship owners and masters from carrying passengers to America, without a special license to that effect; and it is a strange and memorable fact, that at the moment when this edict was promulgated, no less remarkable a pair of personages than Oliver Cromwell and John Hampden themselves, were on board a vessel on the Thames, which was destined to carry them to the new colony, but which, on account of the king's order, was obliged to remain in her harbour.
In the ensuing parliament, which was called immediately after the troubles in Scotland, Hampden was chosen one of the representatives for the County of Bucks; but this was not the only compliment with which the country sought to shew its estimation of his character. From this moment, to the end of his illustrious career, a period only of three brief years, Hampden renounced all those occupations of private life to which he had hitherto shown bimself so devoted, and for which, indeed, he had been, by taste and temper, so entirely suited, in order that his attention to public affairs might be subject to no possible distraction. Lord Nugent, after stating, that from the period already alluded to, he never returned to the home of his long-cherished attachment, presents us with a very happy description of the present state of that interesting residence.
• His mansion still remains. It stands away from both the principal roads which pass through Buckinghamshire, at the back of that chalky range of the Chilterns which bounds, on one side, the vale of Aylesbury. The scenery which immediately surrounds it, from its seclusion little known, is of singular beauty, opening upon a ridge which commands a very extensive view over several counties, and diversified by delis, clothed with a natural growth of box, juniper, and beech.*
* • The woods of Hampden terminate to the north upon the bare brow of a lofty hill, called Green Haly, on the side of which is cut, in the chalk, the form of a cross, which is seen from all the country round. This monument, of a very remote antiquity, is known by the name of the White Leaf Cross, and is supposed by Mr. Wise, (in a learned letter to Browne Willis, on the subject of Saxon antiquities,) to have been designed in commemoration of a victory gained by Edward, king of the West Saxons, over the Danes, early in the tenth century. It appears, however, with more probability, to have been intended as a memorial of the last battle of Hengist and Horsa with the Britons, which was fought over the extensive plain of Risborough and Saunderton, when, on this height, and on the Bledlow Ridge which adjoins it, the Saxon princes planted their victorious standards, to recall their troops from the pursuit.'
• What has once been the abode of such a man, can never but be interesting, from the associations which belong to it. But, even forgetting these, no one, surely, who has heart or taste for the charm of high breezy bills, and green glades enclosed within the shadowy stillness of ancient woods, and avenues leading to a house, on whose walls the remains of the different styles of architecture, from the early Norman to the Tudor, are still partly traced through the deforming innovations of the eighteenth century, -no one, surely, can visit the residence of Hampden, and not do justice to the love which its master bore it, and to that strong feeling which could lead him from such a retirement to the toils and perils to which thenceforth he entirely devoted himself.'-rol. i. pp. 286–288.
We cannot follow our author in his review of the proceedings of the Long Parliament, which was opened by Charles in person, on the 3rd of November, 1640. Considering the main object of Lord Nugent's work, we do not see the necessity of his dwelling so much at length on those proceedings; and, certainly, the extent to which the account of Strafford's trial is given, seems to us not to be justified by any assistance which it has afforded in the way of illustrating the principal subject of the work. We do not deny, however, that the pen of Lord Nugent has conferred an additional degree of interest upon a chapter of our history, the naked materials of which abound in attraction. The part which Hampden took in the attainder against Strafford, is a question of great doubt. Whilst the Commonwealth party are anxious to enlist his name amongst those of the most active prosecutors of the unbappy nobleman, Lord Nugent seems to think it necessary to the credit of Hampden, to show that he took a contrary course.
A powerful description is given by our author, of the character of those who composed that confederated body of parliamentary men, which, under the auspices of Hampden, urged the abolition of episcopacy.
One person, and one only, was there in this confederacy, whose power seemed to have long remained unknown and unmeasured by all but by the searching sagacity of his kinsman Hampden ; and this was Oliver Cromwell, burgess for Cambridge, who, with an ill-favoured countenance, a sharp untuneable voice, an ungraceful address, “a plain cloth suit, which seemed to have been made by an ill country tailor, and little band, none of the cleanest,” had never yet risen to notice in debate, but by mere occasional disjointed proposition, coarse in itself, and not recommended by the mode of delivery. Yet this was he, of whom, when Lord Digby asked, “pray, Mr. Hampden, who is that man ? for I see he is on our side by his speaking so warmly to-day;" Hampden answered, “ That sloven whom you see before you hath no ornament in his speech ; but that sloven, I say, if we should ever come to a breach with the king, (which God forbid !) in such a case, I say, that sloven will be the greatest man in England.” —vol. ii. pp. 39, 40.
How truly, and under what circumstances, this prophecy was afterwards realized, it is now unnecessary to describe.
The history of the progress of that struggle which was carried on