« ElőzőTovább »
EARL OF CLARENDON,
Born 1608_Died 1673.
HISTORY OF THE REBELLION.
BOOK III. In the House of Commons were many persons of wisdom and gravity, who being possessed of great and plentiful fortunes, though they were undevoted enough to the Court, had all imaginable duty for the King, and affection to the Government established by law or ancient custom ; and without doubt, the major part of that body consisted of men who had no mind to break the peace of the kingdom, or to make any considerable alteration in the Government of Church or State : and therefore all inventions were set on foot from the beginning to work on them, and corrupt them, by suggestions “ of the dangers which threatened all that was precious to the subject in their liberty and their property, by overthrowing or over-mastering the law, and subjecting it to an arbitrary power, and by countenancing Popery to the subversion of the Protestant religion;" and then, by infusing terrible apprehensions into some, and so working upon their fears “ of being called in question for somewhat they had done,” by which they would stand in need of their protection ; and raising the hopes of others, “that, by concurring with them, they should be sure to obtain offices, and honours, and any kind of preferment." Though there were too many corrupted and misled by these several temptations, and others who needed no other temptations than from the fierceness of their own natures, and the malice they had contracted against the Church and against the Court; yet the number was not great of those in whom the government of the rest was vested, nor were there many who had the absolute authority to lead, though there was a multitude disposed to follow.
Mr. Pym was looked upon as the man of greatest experience in Parliament, where he had served very long, and was always a man of business, being an officer in the exchequer, and of good reputation generally, though known to be inclined to the Puritan faction; yet not of those furious resolutions against the Church as the other leading men were, and wholly devoted to the Earl of Bedford, who had nothing of that spirit.
Mr. Hambden was a man of much greater cunning, and it may be of the most discerning spirit, and of the greatest address and insinuation to bring any thing to pass which he desired, of any man of that time, and who laid the design deepest. He was a gentleman of good extraction and a fair fortune, who, from a life of great pleasure and licence, had on a sudden retired to extraordinary sobriety and strictness, and yet retained his usual cheerfulness and affability; which, together with the opinion of his wisdom and justice, and the courage he had shewed in opposing the ship-money, raised his reputation to a very great height, not only in Buckinghamshire, where he lived, but generally throughout the kingdom. He was not a man of many words, and rarely begun the discourse, or made the first entrance upon any business that was assumed ; but a very weighty speaker, and after he had heard a full debate, and observed how the House was like to be inclined, took up the argument, and shortly, and clearly, and craftily, so stated it, that he commonly conducted it to the conclusion he desired ; and if he found he could not do that, he was never without the dexterity to divert the debate to another time, and to prevent the determining any thing in the negative, which might prove inconvenient in the future. He made so great a shew of civility, and modesty, and humility, and always of mistrusting his own judgment, and esteeming his with whom he conferred for the present, that he seemed to have no opinions or lutions, but such as he contracted from the information and instruction he received upon the discourses of others, whom he had a wonderful art of governing and leading into his principles and inclinations, whilst they believed that he wholly depended upon their counsel and advice. No man had ever a greater power over himself, or was less the man that he seemed to be, which shortly after appeared to every body, when he cared less to keep on the mask.
Mr. Saint-John, who was in a firm and entire conjunction with the other two, was a lawyer of Lincoln's Inn, known to be of parts and industry, but not taken notice of for practice in Westminster Hall, till he argued at the Exchequer Chamber the case of shipmoney on the behalf of Mr. Hambden; which gave him much reputation, and called him into all courts, and to all causes, where the King's prerogative was most contested. He was a man reserved, and of a dark and clouded countenance, very proud, and conversing with very few, and those, men of his own humour and inclinations. He had been questioned, committed, and brought into the star-chamber many years before, with other persons of great name and reputation, which first brought his name upon the stage, for communicating some paper among themselves, which some men at that time had a mind to have extended to a design of sedition ; but, it being quickly evident that the prosecution would not be attended with success, they were all shortly after discharged; but he never forgave the Court the first assault, and contracted an implacable displeasure against the Church, purely from the company he kept. He was of an intimate trust with the Earl of Bedford, to whom he was in some sort allied, being a natural son of the house of Bullingbrook, and by him brought into all matters where himself was to be concerned. It was generally believed, that these three persons, with the other three Lords mentioned before, were of the most intimate and entire trust with each other, and made the engine which moved all the rest ; yet it was visible that Nathaniel Fiennes, the second son of the Lord Say, and Sir Harry Vane, eldest son to the Secre
tary, and treasurer of the House, were received by them with full confidence and without reserve.
The former being a man of good parts of learning, and after some years spent in New College in Oxford, of which his father had been formerly Fellow, that family claiming and enjoying many privileges there, as of kin to the founder, had spent his time abroad, in Geneva and amongst the cantons of Switzerland, where he improved his disinclination to the Church, with which milk he had been nursed. From his travels he returned through Scotland, which few travellers took in their way home, at the time when that rebellion was in the bud; and was very little known, except amongst that people which conversed wholly amongst themselves, until he was now found in Parliament, when it was quickly discovered that as he was the darling of his father, so he was like to make good whatsoever he had for many years promised.
The other, Sir Harry Vane, was a man of great natural parts, and of very profound dissimulation, of a quick conception, and very ready, sharp, and weighty expression. He had an unusual aspect, which, though it might naturally proceed both from his father and mother, neither of whom were beautiful persons, yet made men think there was something in him of extraordinary; and his whole life made good that imagination. Within a very short time after he returned from his studies in Magdalen College in Oxford, where, though he was under the care of a very worthy tutor, he lived not with very great exactness, he spent some little time in France, and more in Geneva ; and, after his return into England, contracted a full prejudice and bitterness against the Church, both against the form of the government, and the Liturgy, which was generally in great reverence, even with many of those who were not friends to the other. In this giddiness, which then much displeased, or seemed to displease, his father, who still appeared highly conformable, and exceeding sharp against those who were not, he transported himself into New England, a colony within few years before planted by a mixture of all religions,
which disposed the professors to dislike the government of the Church; who were qualified by the King's charter to choose their own government and governors, under the obligation “that every man should take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy,” which all the first planters did when they received their charter, before they transported themselves from hence, nor was there in many years
the least scruple amongst them of complying with those obligations ; so far men were, in the infancy of their schism, from refusing to take lawful oaths. He was no sooner landed there, but his parts made him quickly taken notice of, and very probably his quality, being the eldest son of a privy-counsellor, might give him some advantage ; insomuch that, when the next season came for the election of their magistrates, he was chosen their Governor : in which place he had so ill fortune, his working and unquiet fancy raising and infusing a thousand scruples of conscience, which they had not brought over with them, nor heard of before, that he unsatisfied with them, and they with him, he transported himself into England; having sowed such seed of dissension there, as grew up too prosperously, and miserably divided the poor colony into several factions, and divisions, and persecutions of each other, which still continue to the great prejudice of that plantation : insomuch as some of them, upon the ground of the first expedition, liberty of conscience, have withdrawn themselves from their jurisdiction, and obtained other charters from the King, by which, in other forms of government, they have enlarged their plantation, within new limits adjacent to the other. He was no sooner returned into England, than he seemed to be much reformed from his extravagancies, and, with his father's approbation and direction, married a lady of a good family, and by his father's credit with the Earl of Northumberland, who was High Admiral of England, was joined presently and jointly with Sir William Russel in the office of Treasurer of the Navy, a place of great trust and profit, which he equally shared with the other, and seemed a man well satisfied and composed to the Government. When his