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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Not in respect to tonnage and poundage


[Sidenote:

A.D. 1626.]

The members of the new council for war were thrown into great embarrassment. They answered that they must first consult the lawyers on the subject, and the King conveyed to them his approval of this declaration. He informed them that he had had the Act of Parliament laid before him: that they were bound to submit to questions only about the application of the money, but about nothing else: he even threatened them with his displeasure if they should go beyond this. The president of the council for war, George Carew, called his attention to the probability that the grant of the subsidies which he demanded from Parliament might be hindered by such an answer: it would be better, he said, that the Council should be sent to the Tower,--for it would come to this,--than that the good relations between the King and the Parliament should be impaired, and the payment of the subsidies hindered. Charles I said that it was not merely a question of money, and that gold might be bought too dear. He thanked them for the regard which they had shown to him; but he added that Parliament was aiming not at them but at himself.[457]

The controversy about tonnage and poundage coincided with this quarrel. The grant, as has been mentioned, had been obtained only for a short period. Parliament was incensed, that after this had expired, the King had the customs levied just as before. 'How,' it was said, 'did the King wish to

raise taxes that had never been voted? Was not this altogether contrary to the form of government of the country? Whoever had counselled the King to this step, he was without doubt the sworn enemy of King and country.'

Parliament declared to the King that if he insisted on those subsidies which were absolutely necessary, it would support him as fully as ever a prince had been supported by a Parliament, but in Parliamentary fashion, or, as they expressed it, 'via parlamentaria.'[458] The claims of Parliament included both the right of granting money in its widest extent, and the supervision of its application when granted. The King considered that a grant was not necessary in respect of every source of revenue--for instance, not in respect to tonnage and poundage, and was determined to keep the management entirely in his own hands, and to submit to no kind of control over it.

Many other questions, in which wide interests were involved, were brought forward for discussion in Parliament, especially in regard to ecclesiastical matters: the proceedings of the High Commission were attacked again. But the question of the widest range of all was the decided attempt to alter the government and to overthrow the great minister, which gave perhaps the greatest employment to the assembly.[459] It was directed against the favourite personally, for he had now incurred universal hatred, but at bottom there also lay the definite intention of confirming the doctrine of ministerial responsibility by a new and signal example.


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