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A.D. 1672.], SHAFTESBURY CHANCELLOR.
19 the exchequer, from the pursuit of their creditors. They applied for protection to the court of chancery; but the lord keeper hesitated : he doubted whether it were a case in which he ought to interfere ; and Shaftesbury seized the occasion to represent him to the king as an old dotard unequal to his situation. The hint was taken; Nov. the seal was transferred from Bridgeman to Shaftesbury; 17. and the new lord chancellor soon exposed himself by his vanity and self-sufficiency to the ridicule of the bar as well as the odium of the people. Instead of the sober and decent robes worn by his predecessors in office, he appeared on the bench in " an ash-coloured gown silver" laced, and full-ribboned pantaloons displayed.” In the procession to Westminster-hall to open the seal, instead of being conveyed in a carriage, he rode on horseback; and the king's counsel, the law-officers of the crown, and the several judges, were compelled to accompany him in a similar manner, to the great annoyance of some among these reverend personages ; one of whom, Mr. Justice Twisden, by the curvetting of his horse, was laid prostrate in the mire. In his court he professed a sovereign contempt for ancient forms; his orders were made with rapidity, and fashioned after his own fancy: for a few days the counsel did not interrupt him; but he was afterwards so harassed with motions for the explanation and amendment of his orders, that he grew ashamed of his precipitancy, and the imperious reformer gradually sunk into the tamest judge that ever sat on the bench. Mindful, however, of the charge which he had brought against Bridgeman, he was careful to stay the proceedings against the bankers in the inferior courts; but, at the same time, with a prudent regard to his own security, he appointed a distant day on which he would be ready to hear counsel against this injunction *.
• James, i. 481. North, 38. 46. 57. 8. 60. It were, huwever, unfair to omit the praise allotted to him by an enemy:
The elevation of Shaftesbury made a vacancy in the commission of the treasury. Charles dissolved the
board, and at the recommendation of his brother, gave Nov. the staff of lord high treasurer to lord Clifford. The 26. friendship which had so long subsisted between Arling
ton and Clifford was instantly broken. Arlington charged him with ingratitude, with having by his intrigues supplanted his patron and benefactor. But the king commanded them to be friends. He exculpated Clifford. The refusal of the staff to Arlington arose, he asserted, from his own kindness for that nobleman; from a wish to spare him the disgrace and mortification which he would have entailed upon himself by his want of sufficiency and resolution *.
It had been expected that in October Charles would apply to the parliament for money to enable him to open the exchequer in January; and the States flattered
themselves with the hope of a powerful opposition on the Oct. part of the commons. To their disappointment, the two 30. houses were prorogued till February, and the suspension Dec. of payment to the public creditors was continued by pro
clamation for another half year. Shaftesbury improved the interval to add to the number of his dependents in the lower house. During the prorogation sereral members had died; some had been called to the house of lords. Instead of waiting till the parliament assembled, he issued writs out of chancery for new elections; these writs, with recommendations from the court, were entrusted to the hands of the persons whose return was desired; and they, availing themselves of the opportunity, in general secured their election. It was, howerer, observed that almost all, whether designedly or not, were dissenters, a circumstance which awakened
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin
Dryden, Abs, and Achit. • Compare James, i. 482, with Evelyn, ii. 386.
OPENING OF PARLIAMENT.
the anger of the cavaliers and the churchmen; and a resolution was taken to dispute the legality of the writs, and consequently of the returns. Colonel Strangeways, an old cavalier of the first opulence and influence in the western counties, whose friends had been defeated in four instances by the arts of Shaftesbury, placed himself at the head of the opposition *.
At the opening of the session the king and the chan- 1673. cellor successively addressed the two houses. Charles Feb. was an ungraceful orator, but on this occasion he spoke 5. with an ease and dignity which surprised his hearers. Shaftesbury dilated on the different topics which had been mentioned by the king. He justified the declaration of indulgence, and the shutting up of the exchequer; he assumed that the war was popular, and that the pretensions of the Hollanders were so inconsistent with the rights of Great Britain, that “ Carthage must be “ destroyed :" he ridiculed the jealousy of those who feared that the army raised on account of the war might afterwards be employed against the liberties of the country, and solicited a plentiful supply, to disappoint the expectations of the enemy and secure a speedy and profitable peace t.
1°. The first object which occupied the attention of the commons, was the legality of the writs issued during the prorogation ; and in this they obeyed the command of the king, whether he already began to withdraw his 6. confidence from Shaftesbury, or was desirous to propitiate the men who had displayed so much devotion to his person. That the chancellor had acted according to the precedent of former times, was certain : the claim set up by the house, that the order for the writ must originate with the speaker, could not be traced to an
• Miscel. Aul. 79. Parker, 262. 4. North, 56.
+ L. Journ. 523-6. Miscel. Aul, 98. "Shaftesbury expressed to * Locke the vexation which he felt at being made the organ of such senti“ ments." Lord Kiug's Life of Locke, i. 63. But he considered himself as speaking the king's sentiments, and therefore not responsible for what he said !
earlier period than the year 1640; and it seemed reason. able to conclude, that, like the other prerogatives of the crown, this had also been recovered at the restoration. But the house of commons has never surrendered a privilege which it has once exercised: it was contended that numerous inconveniences would arise from the right claimed by the chancellor ; and a resolution was passed that the elections were void, and that new writs should be issued in virtue of a warrant from the speaker. The disappointment opened the eyes of Shaftesbury to the real character of the prince whom he served. He saw that Charles was fonder of ease than of power, more disposed to conciliate than to compel, and more likely to sacrifice an obnoxious minister than to put down a fierce
and stubborn opposition *. Feb. 2°. The house proceeded, in the next place, to the 7. consideration of the supply, and, by an unanimous vote,
fixed it at the amount of 1,260,0001., to be raised by
+ Com. Journ. Feb. 7. Burnet, ii. 13. We are, however, told by North, that sir Thomas Lee, Mr. Garroway, and sir Thomas Meres, " the bell: wethers of the country party,” obtained places in the customs, admiralty, and excise, for their occasional compliance with the court (p. 456); and lord Dorchester asserts that Lee received for his services on this occasion the sum of 60001., which one of the clerks of the treasury brought in a hackney-coach w Fleet-ditch, where Lee met him. At a signal they stopped, changed coaches, and druve away. Burnet, ii. 83, note.
ADDRESS AGAINST INDULGENCE.
23 3. The country party now directed all their efforts to procure the recall of the declaration. Of the indulgence itself they affected not to disapprove; their objections went to the form. They were willing to extend relief to the protestant dissenters, but it must be done in a parliamentary way. The royal authority was bounded by the same limits in ecclesiastical as in civil matters; the king might remit the penalties of the offence, but he could not suspend the execution of the law. By the courtiers the claim of the prerogative was feebly supported on the ground of necessity; because the power of dispensing with the law must reside somewhere; otherwise numerous cases might arise during the intervals of parliament, in which the welfare, the very safety of the state, would be sacrificed to an impolitic and unreasonable jealousy. After a long and adjourned debate it was resolved by a majority of one hundred and sixty-eight to Feb. one hundred and sixteen, that“ penal statutes in matters 10. “ ecclesiastical cannot be suspended but by act of par“ liament *,” and this resolution was embodied in an
14. address presented to the king. Charles required time to consider the question, and then replied, that he was 24. sorry they had questioned his ecclesiastical authority, which had never been questioned in the reigns of his ancestors; that he pretended to no right of suspending any laws concerning the properties, rights, or liberties of the subject; that his only object, in the exercise of his ecclesiastical power, was to relieve the dissenters; and that he did it not with the intention of avoiding the advice of parliament, but was still ready to assent to any bill which might be offered to him, appearing better calculated than his declaration to effect the ends which he had in view, the ease of all his subjects and the peace and establishment of the church of England. But this answer was voted insufficient; and a second address in- 26.
• C. Journ. Feb. 10. Yet Burnet describes it as "a very unanimous resolution," ii. 6.