Front Page Titles (by Subject) II.: From the Meeting of the Third Parliament of Charles I to the Meeting of the Long Parliament. [1628-1640.] - The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution, 1625-1660
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II.: From the Meeting of the Third Parliament of Charles I to the Meeting of the Long Parliament. [1628-1640.] - Samuel Rawson Gardiner, The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution, 1625-1660 
The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution, 1625-1660, selected and edited by Samuel Rawson Gardiner (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906).
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From the Meeting of the Third Parliament of Charles I to the Meeting of the Long Parliament.
When Charles’s third Parliament met in 1628, it immediately occupied itself with these grievances. After a long struggle, in which he refused to accept a Bill proposed by Wentworth and brought in by Coke, with the object of preventing the repetition of the conduct complained of without passing judgment on the King’s conduct in the past (No. 9, p. 65), Charles consented to the Petition of Right (No. 10, p. 66), which after declaring that the law had been broken, demanded that the King should acknowledge the exaction of ‘any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge, without common consent by Act of Parliament,’ all imprisonment without cause shown, all billeting of soldiers in private houses, and all exercise of Martial Law to be illegal (No. 10, p. 69).
The Petition of Right is memorable as the first statutory restriction of the powers of the Crown since the accession of the Tudor dynasty. Yet, though the principles laid down in it had the widest possible bearing, its remedies were not intended to apply to all questions which had arisen or might arise between the Crown and the Parliament, but merely to those which had arisen since Charles’s accession. Parliament had waived, for the present at least, the consideration of Buckingham’s misconduct. It had also waived the consideration of the question of Impositions. That this was so appears by a comparison of the language of the Petition of Right with that of the Tonnage and Poundage Act of 1641 (No. 31, p. 159). The prohibition from taking without Parliamentary consent extends in the former to ‘any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge,’ in the latter to any ‘subsidy, custom, impost, or charge whatsoever.’ The framers of the Petition of Right were the first lawyers of the day, and it can hardly have been through inadvertence that they omitted the decisive words necessary to include Impositions if they had intended to do so. Nor was it without significance that whilst the Houses in the preamble to the Petition of Right refer to the imaginary statute de Tallagio non concedendo as enacting that ‘no tallage or aid should be taken without consent,’ they make no reference to the clauses in the Confirmatio Cartarum which refer to the duties upon merchandise.
The motives of the Commons in keeping silence on the Impositions were probably twofold. In the first place, they probably wished to deal separately with the new grievances, because in dealing with them they would restrain the King’s power to make war without Parliamentary consent. The refusal of Tonnage and Poundage would restrain his power to govern in time of peace. In the second place, they had a Tonnage and Poundage Bill before them. Such a Bill had been introduced into each of the preceding Parliaments, but in each case an early dissolution had hindered its consideration, and the long debates on the Petition of Right now made it impossible to proceed farther with it in the existing session. Yet, for three years the King had been collecting Tonnage and Poundage, just as he collected the Impositions, that is to say, as if he had no need of a Parliamentary grant. The Commons therefore proposed to save the right of Parliament by voting Tonnage and Poundage for a single year, and to discuss the matter at length the following session. When the King refused to accept this compromise they had some difficulty in choosing a counter-move. They were precluded from any argument from ancient statute and precedent, because the judges in Bates’s case had laid down the law against them, and they therefore had recourse to the bold assertion that the Petition of Right had settled the question in their favour (No. 11, p. 70). Charles answered by proroguing Parliament, and took occasion in so doing to repudiate the doctrine which they had advanced (No. 12, p. 73).
Soon after the prorogation Buckingham was murdered, and it is possible that if no other question had been at issue between the Crown and the Commons than that of the Customs-duties the next session would have seen the end of the dispute. The Church question had, however, by this time reached a new stage. To the dispute about surplices had succeeded a dispute about doctrine and discipline. A school of theological students had arisen which rejected the authority of Calvin, and took up the principle advocated by Cranmer that the patristic writings afforded a key to the meaning of the Scriptures in doubtful points. In prosecuting their studies they learnt to attach special value to the doctrine of sacramental grace, and to regard Episcopacy as a divine institution and not as a merely human arrangement; whilst, on the other hand, they based their convictions on historical study, thus setting their faces against the plea that truth was divinely revealed in the Scriptures alone, without the necessity of supplementing it by the conclusions of human reason. In the Ecclesiastical Polity of the great Hooker these ideas were set forth with a largeness of mind and a breadth of charity which made his work memorable as a landmark in the history of thought. It was the starting-point of a change which was to substitute reasonableness for dogmatism, and which was ultimately to blend with the political and philosophical ideas of the latter half of the seventeenth century in putting an end to intolerance and persecution. The followers of Hooker were at first the few who, in spite of their appeal to antiquity, were in their central convictions in advance of their age. To give such men their due is always hard for contemporaries, and it was especially hard at a time when the idea of an exclusive National Church had a firm hold on all minds. If there was anything likely to make it impossible, at least for the time, it would be an attempt to place them in positions of authority. Yet this was the very thing which Charles did. His trusted adviser in Church matters was Bishop Laud, and Laud, sharing Hooker’s dislike of Calvinistic dogmatism, was fully penetrated with the conviction that he and his friends must either crush the Calvinists or be crushed by them, and that the only way to produce that unity in the Church which he desired to see was to be found in the authoritative enforcement of uniformity in the practices of the Church as laid down by law. Hence, both on the King’s side and on that of his antagonists, political and religious considerations were closely connected. The Laudian clergy being in a minority exalted the Royal prerogative from which they expected protection, and declared themselves in its favour even in such purely constitutional questions as those relating to arbitrary taxation, whilst the Calvinistic clergy and laity, feeling themselves to be in a majority, exalted the authority of Parliament by which that majority was represented.
One of the questions at issue was Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. The Calvinists held it to be one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity and condemned those who opposed it as Arminian heretics. Laud always asserted that he was not an Arminian, as he considered the question to be one beyond the reach of his faculties to resolve. It was doubtless upon Laud’s advice, though ostensibly upon the advice of as many Bishops as could be got together upon short notice, that Charles prefixed a Declaration on the subject to a new edition of the Articles (No. 13, p. 75). The Commons on their re-assembly for the session of 1629 took offence not merely at the Declaration itself, but at the growth of ceremonialism amongst the clergy favoured by the Court, and their feelings were doubtless expressed by the resolutions drawn up by their sub-committee (No. 14, p. 77), though in consequence of the early dissolution those resolutions were never put to the vote in the House itself. The quarrel about religion would certainly have embittered the quarrel about Tonnage and Poundage, but the latter was complicated by a fresh dispute about the liability of some Customs-officers who had seized the goods of a member of Parliament for refusal to pay unvoted Customs, to answer their conduct before the House of Commons. The King declared that his ministers were responsible only to himself, and dissolved Parliament. Before the dissolution took place, the Commons voted a Protestation (No. 15, p. 82), and a few days later the King discussed the quarrel from his point of view in a published Declaration (No. 16, p. 83). Eleven years passed before a Parliament was again summoned.
During those eleven years the breach between the King and his subjects grew constantly wider. Not only Puritans but ordinary Protestants were alienated by Laud’s efforts to enforce uniformity in the Church by insisting on obedience to the law as interpreted by the Ecclesiastical Courts. When in 1633 Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury he was able to act with greater authority. The Declaration of Sports (No. 17, p. 99) and the Act of the Privy Council on the position of the Communion Table (No. 18, p. 103) may be taken as specimens of the proceedings to which, under the influence of the Archbishop, Charles lent his name. For these proceedings there was always some tolerable reason to be given. The real objection to them was that they took no account of the religious feelings of the majority of religious men in England. In 1634 Laud undertook a metropolitical visitation of the Province of Canterbury which lasted for three years, and which imposed the new system upon every parish in the Province, whilst Neile, the Archbishop of York, took the same measures in the Northern Province. The authorisation of the circulation of books in which were set forth doctrines hardly distinguishable from those of the Roman Catholics, the intercourse of the King with the Papal agents established at the Queen’s Court, and the infliction of cruel punishments, by order of the Star Chamber, upon those who maligned the Bishops or assailed their jurisdiction, spread far and wide the belief that a vast conspiracy to bring about the submission of the Church of England to the Pope was actually in existence.
Taken by itself, the dissatisfaction of thoughtful and religious men would not have produced a Revolution. It is never possible, however, to set at naught the feelings of thoughtful and religious men without taking steps which rouse the ill-feeling of those who are neither thoughtful nor religious. After the dissolution of 1629 Charles had enforced the payment of Tonnage and Poundage as well as of the Impositions levied by his father, and with an increasing trade and rising revenue was nearly in a position to make both ends meet, so long as he did not incur any extraordinary expense. The effort to pay off the debts incurred in the late war and to obtain a surplus led to the introduction of unpopular monopolies granted to companies,—thus evading the Monopoly Act of 1624,—to the levying fines upon those who had neglected to take up their knighthood according to law, and to the imposition of fines on those who had encroached on the old boundaries of the forests. A more serious demand on the purses of the subjects was made by the imposition of Ship-money in 1634. The assertions made in the first writ (No. 19, p. 105) set forth so much of the King’s objects in demanding the money as could be made public, and there can be no doubt that a fleet was absolutely needed for the defence of the country at a time when the French and Dutch navies had so preponderant a force.
The reasons why the imposition of Ship-money gave more offence than the levy of Tonnage and Poundage are easy to perceive. On the one hand direct taxation is always felt to be a greater annoyance than indirect, and on the other hand Ship-money was a new burden, whereas Tonnage and Poundage, and even the Impositions, had been levied for many years. The constitutional resistance rested on broader grounds. To levy direct taxation to meet extraordinary expenditure without recourse to Parliament was not only contrary to the Petition of Right, but was certain, if the system was allowed to establish itself, to enable the King to supply himself with all that he might need even in time of war without calling Parliament at all. As there could be no doubt that Charles’s main ground in omitting to summon Parliament was his fear lest his ecclesiastical proceedings might be called in question, the dissatisfaction of those who resented his attack on their religion was reinforced by the dissatisfaction of those who resented his attack on the Constitution, and of the far greater number who resented his attack on their pockets.
On the King’s side it was urged that Ship-money was not a tax at all, but an ancient payment in lieu of personal service in defence of the realm by sea, and also that the King was himself the sole judge of the existence of the danger which would require such exertions to be made. In 1637 Charles took the opinion of the judges on his case (No. 20, p. 108), and the whole question was thrashed out before the twelve judges in the Exchequer Chamber in the case of Hampden in 1637-38. The arguments on either side bristled with precedents and references to law books, but a fair idea of the broader grounds on which each party took its stand may be gathered from the extracts from the speech of Oliver St. John, who was one of Hampden’s counsel (No. 21, p. 109), and from the argument of Sir Robert Berkeley (No. 22, p. 115). In reading St. John’s speech, it must not be forgotten that he was precluded by his position as an advocate from adducing any considerations drawn from his suspicions of Charles’s motives in levying Ship-money by prerogative rather than by Parliamentary authority.
Ultimately judgment was given for the King, only two of the judges dissenting on the main point at issue, though three others refrained from giving their support to the King on other grounds.
Whether, if England had been left to itself, any resistance would have ensued it is impossible to say. There were no signs of anything of the sort, and the whole organisation of the country being in the hands of the King, it would have been very difficult, unless the King chose to summon a Parliament, to obtain a nucleus for more than passive resistance. Passive resistance in the shape of a wide-spread refusal to pay Ship-money indeed existed, but however annoying may be the difficulties of a government exposed to general ill-will, they are not likely at once to endanger its existence. It is when dangers threaten it from abroad, and when it becomes necessary to rouse the national spirit in its defence, that the weakness of an unpopular government stands clearly revealed.
This danger was already approaching. In 1637 Charles attempted to force a new liturgy and canons upon the Scottish people, and in Scotland he had not the governmental organisation on his side which he had in England. The Bishops who had been set up by his father had far less influence than the English Bishops, and the members of the Privy Council which governed in his name, though nominated by himself, were for the most part noblemen whose position in the country was much stronger than that of the English nobility, and who were actuated by jealousy of the Scottish Bishops and by fear lest the King should give wealth and power to the Bishops at the expense of the nobility. In consequence, resistance not only broke out but organised itself; and in 1638 a religious manifesto, the Scottish National Covenant (No. 23, p. 124), was signed by the greater part of the nation. It attacked the church system of Charles, though it nominally professed respect for his authority and avoided all direct attack on Episcopacy.
All attempts at a compromise having failed, and an Assembly which met at Glasgow in the end of 1638 having continued to sit after Charles’s High Commissioner, the Marquis of Hamilton, had pronounced its dissolution, and having then declared Episcopacy to be abolished, Charles attempted in 1639 an invasion of Scotland. He was unable, however, to bring money enough together to support an army, and he agreed in the Treaty of Berwick to terms which involved a practical surrender of his claims to dictate the religion of Scotland. His subsequent attempt to construe the Treaty to his own advantage led to the threat of a new war, and on April 13, 1640, by the advice of Strafford, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who had come to England in September, 1639, and had from that date become Charles’s principal counsellor, an English Parliament met at Westminster.
The Short Parliament, as it was called, was soon dissolved. It was ready to grant supplies if the King would come to terms with the Scots, and this Charles refused to do.
A new war was the result. The Scots invaded England, defeated a large part of the Royal Army at Newburn, and occupied Northumberland and Durham. Charles had neither an army nor a people behind his back, and he was forced to treat with the invaders. The feelings of the English nation were expressed in the Petition of the Twelve Peers for a New Parliament, laid before the King on August 28, 1640 (No. 24, p. 134). In addition to the piled-up grievances of the past eleven years, was the new one that Charles was believed to have purposed making himself master of England as well as of Scotland by means of an Irish army led into England by Strafford, and paid by subsidies granted by the Irish Parliament. So utterly powerless was Charles before the demands of the Scots for compensation for the expenses of invading England that, on September 7, he summoned a Great Council, or an assembly of the House of Lords alone (No. 25, p. 136), to meet at York to advise him and to guarantee a loan. On November 7, the Long Parliament met at Westminster.