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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The more violently Buckingham was attacked


quickly was Buckingham overtaken by Nemesis; that is to say, in this, as in so many other instances, how soon was he visited by the consequences which in the nature of things attended his actions! First, owing to his influence the establishment of that council for war had been granted which now gave occasion to the demand for Parliamentary control: and next, he had allowed the fall of Bacon, and had most deliberately overthrown Cranfield by the help of Parliament. These were just the transactions which endangered his own existence by the consequences of the principles involved in both cases alike.

The King was certainly moved by personal inclination to take the part of his minister; but he was also moved by anxiety about the application of these principles. He complained that without actually established facts forthcoming, on the strength of general rumour, people wished to attack the man on whom he bestowed his confidence: but Parliament, he said, was altogether overstepping its competence. It was wishing to inspect the books of the royal officers, to pass judgment upon the letters of his secretary of state, nay, even upon his own: it permitted and sheltered seditious speeches within its bosom. There never had been a king, he affirmed, who was more inclined to remove real abuses, and to observe a truly Parliamentary course; but also there had never been one who was more jealous of his royal honour. The more violently Buckingham was attacked,

the more it appeared to the King a point of honour to take him under his protection against charges which he considered futile.

The Lower House did not take up all the points in dispute which the King proposed for discussion. It excused some things which had occurred to the prejudice of the royal dignity, but in the principal matter it was immovable. It asserted, and adhered to its assertion, that it was the constant undoubted right of Parliament, exercised as well under the most glorious of former reigns as under the last, to hold all persons accountable, however high their rank, who should abuse the power transferred to them by their sovereign and oppress the commonwealth. They maintained that without this liberty no one would ever venture to say a word against influential men, and that the common-weal would be forced to languish under their violence.

The impeachment was drawn up in regular form by eight members, among whom we find the names of Selden, Glanvil, Pym, and Eliot. On the 8th of May it was carried by 225 votes to 116 to send up to the Lords a proposal for the arrest of Buckingham.

In the Upper House, the members of which were by no means more favourable to the Duke, and feared the nomination of a large number of peers, Lord Bristol independently brought an accusation against Buckingham relating to the failure of the Spanish marriage. The conduct of which he is accused may rather have shown ambition and foolish assumption than any real criminality; and Buckingham's defence is not without force. The Lower House, to whom it was communicated, nevertheless expressed their opinion that a formal prosecution must take place. It seemed that Buckingham must surely but sink under the combined weight of various complaints.

But the King would not allow matters to go so far. Without paying any regard to the wish of the Lords to the contrary, he proceeded to dissolve this Parliament also (June 15, 1626). In the declaration which he issued on the subject, he said that he recognised Joab's hand in these estrangements: but in spite of them he would fulfil his duty as king of this great nation, and would himself redress their grievances and defend them with the sword against foreign enemies.

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