« AnteriorContinuar »
supply, because the king would not accept “ unless it came up to his proportion, Mr, “ Waller fpoke earnestly to Sir Thomas Jer
myn, comptroller of the household, to save « his master from the effects of so bold a fal.
sity; " for, he said, I am but a country
gentleman, and cannot pretend to know the « king's mind;” but Sir Thomas durst not “ contradict the secretary; and his son, the “. earl of St. Albans, afterwards told Mr. “ Waller, that his father's cowardice ruined " the king.”
In the Long Parliament, which, unhappily for the nation, met Nov. 3, 1640, Waller represented Agmondesham the third time; and was confidered by the discontented party as a man sufficiently trusty and acrimonious to be employed in managing the prosecution of judge Crawley, for his opinion in favour of ship-money; and his speech shews that he did not disappoint their expectations. He was probably the more ardent, as his uncle Hampden had been particularly engaged in the dirpute, and by a sentence which seems generally to be thought unconstitutional particularly injured.
He was not however a bigot to his party, nor adopted all their opinions. When the great question, whether Episcopacy ought to be abolished, was debated, he spoke against the innovation fo coolly, so reasonably, and so firmly, that it is not without great injury to his name that his speech, which was as follows, has been hitherto omitted in his works :
*“ There is no doubt but the sense of “ what this nation hath suffered from the
preso fent bishops, hath produced these com“ plaints; and the apprehensions men have of
suffering the like, in time to come, make so
many desire the taking away of episcopacy: “ but I conceive it is possible that we may not,
now, take a right measure of the minds of “ the people by their petitions ; for, when
they subscribed them, the bishops were arss med with a dangerous commission of mak
ing new canons, imposing new oaths, and the sc like; but now we have difarmed them of " that power. These petitioners, lately, did “ look upon episcopacy as a beast armed with “ horns and claws; but now that we have
cut and pared them, (and may, if we see “ cause, yet reduce it into narrower bounds)
it may, perhaps, be more agreeable. How“ soever, if they be still in paffion, it becomes
us soberly to consider the right use and an
tiquity thereof; and not to comply further s with a general desire, than may stand with
a general good.
“ We have already shewed, that episcopacy, “ and the evils thereof, are mingled like water “ and oil; we have also, in part, severed " them ; but I believe you will find, that our “ laws and the present government of the
church are mingled like wine and water ; " so inseparable, that the abrogation of, at
least, a hundred of our laws is desired in
• This speech has been retrieved, from a paper printed at that time, by the writers of the Parliamentary History.
" these petitions. I have often heard a noble “ answer of the Lords, commended in this “ house, to a proposition of like nature, but “ of less consequence; they gave no other “ reason of their refusal but this, Nolumus
mutare Leges Angliæ: it was the bi" shops who lo answered then ; and it would “ become the dignity and wisdom of this “ house to answer the people, now, with a " Nolumus mutare.
“ I see some are moved with a number of “ hands against the bishops ; which, I con“ fess, rather inclines me to their defence: for “ I look upon episcopacy as a counterscarp, or
out-work; which, if it be taken by this ar“ fault of the people, and, withall, this mys
tery once revealed, That we must deny them nothing when they ask it thus in troops, we may, in the next place, have as hard a task
to defend our property, as we have lately “ had to recover it from the Prerogative. If,
by multiplying hands and petitions, they
prevail for an equality in things ecclesiasti“ cal, the next demand perhaps may be Lex
Agraria, the like equality in things tempo" ral.
" The Roman story tells us, That when the people began to fock about the senate, and
were more curious to direct and know what " was done, than to obey, that Common" wealth foon came to ruin : their Legem ro
gare grew quickly to be a Legem ferre; and
after, when their legions had found that " they could make a Dictator, they never suf# fered the senate to have a voice any more in " such election,
“ If these great innovations proceed, I “ shall expect a flat and level in learning too,
well as in church-preferments : Honos « alit Artes. And though it be true, that
grave and pious men do ftudy for learning« fake, and embrace virtue for itself ; yet it “ is as true, that youth, which is the season “ when learning is gotten, is not without am“ bition ; nor will ever take pains to excel in
any thing, when there is not some hope of so excelling others in reward and dignity,
“ There are two reasons chiefly alledged $ against our church-government.
“ First, Scripture, which, as some men “ think, points out another form.
« Second, The abuses of the present supe$c riors.
" For Scripture, I will not difpute it in “ this place; but I am confident that, when
ever an equal divifion of lands and goods « shall be desired, there will be as many places “ in Scripture found out, which seem to fa“ vour that, as there are now alledged against " the prelacy or preferment in the church. “ And, as for abuses, where you are now, in “ the remonstrance, told, what this and that
poor man hath suffered by the bishops, you
may be presented with a thousand instances “ of poor men that have received hard mea
sure from their landlords; and of worldly “ goods abused, to the injury of others, and
disadvantage of the owners.
“ And therefore, Mr. Speaker, my hum“ ble motion is, That we may settle men's " minds herein; and, by a question, declare
k oui resolution, to reform, that is, not to " abolish, Episcopacy."
It cannot but be wished that he, who could speak in this manner, had been able to act with spirit and uniformity.
When the Commons began to set the royal authority at open defiance, Waller is said to have withdrawn from the house, and to have returned with the king's permission; and, when the king set up his standard, he sent him a thousand broad-pieces. He continued, however, to fit in the rebellious conventicle; but spoke,” says Clarendon, “ with
“ with great sharp“ ness and freedom, which, now there was
no danger of being outvoted, was not re“ strained ; and therefore used
and therefore used as an argument against those who were gone upon pretence " that they were not suffered to deliver their
opinion freely in the house, which could “ not be believed, when all men knew what li
berty Mr. Waller took, and spoke every “ day with impunity against the sense and “ proceedings of the house.”
Waller, as he continued to fit, was one of the commissioners nominated by the parliament to treat with the king at Oxford; and when they were presented, the king said to him,
Though you are the last, you are not the “ lowest nor the least in my favour.”
favour.” Whitlock, who, being another of the commissioners, was witness of this kindness, imputes it to the king's knowledge of the plot, in which Waller appeared afterwards to have been engaged against the parliament. Fenton, with equal probability, believes that his attempt to promote the royal cause arose from his fenfibi