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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

He asked for tonnage and poundage


In

public King Charles never lost his calmness of demeanour for a moment. He appeared to accept the event as a dispensation of Heaven; but afterwards he shut himself up for two whole days, and gave way to his sorrow.

The expedition against Rochelle now put to sea under the command of the Earl of Lindsay. But the captains did not properly obey their chief: orders which had been planned and issued remained unexecuted: the fire-ships, which were intended to break through the defences of the enemy, were ill-managed. The intention was then formed of waiting for a higher tide, in order to attempt another attack; but meanwhile the very last resources of the town were exhausted, and it found itself obliged to capitulate. England's position in the world was immeasurably lowered when Rochelle was conquered by Richelieu. What further schemes of maritime supremacy had Buckingham latterly connected with the maintenance of this town! The ideas of Buckingham vanished as completely as if they had never been: the ideas of Richelieu became the foundation of a new order in the world.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1629.]

Krempe also fell, which had hitherto been deemed impregnable, the spot which, with Gluckstadt, was still the principal stay of Danish independence, and to which Buckingham's attention had been constantly directed. It is thought that about 8000 men would have sufficed to relieve it, but as they

were not forthcoming, the fortress fell into the hands of the enemy in November 1628.

And Charles I, instead of placing himself in a position to repair these losses of his allies, embarked on a new domestic quarrel with the Parliament.

As the customs had not been fixed by the advice of Parliament, and tonnage and poundage had not been regularly granted at all, some London merchants had refused to satisfy the Custom House. On this the Lords of the Treasury laid their property under seizure. Of course the persons affected declared this proceeding also illegal, and filled the country with their complaints. On this occasion it was not, as almost always hitherto, the want of an immediate subsidy, but the necessity of removing this constitutional difficulty, which caused Parliament to be assembled in January 1629. People might flatter themselves that after the death of Buckingham, who had been the object of the principal hostility of that body, an agreement would be more easily effected.

The plan drawn up by the Privy Council was in the first instance of a conciliatory nature. The right of granting money in general was to be acknowledged, even in the case of tonnage and poundage: the levying of this tax up to the present time, however, was to be justified, on the ground that other kings had collected it before it had been granted. If Parliament, after this general acknowledgement of its right, should still persist in refusing the present King what former kings had enjoyed, he would be exculpated: not the government, but Parliament would in that case have to bear the blame of the breach which would arise in consequence.[490]

This was the tenor of the King's speech at the opening of the discussion on January 23, 1629. He asked for tonnage and poundage, less on the strength of his hereditary right to it, than on the plea of custom and necessity. He would always consider it as a gift of his people; but after their scruples had been removed by this declaration, he expected that an end would be put to all difficulties by a grant such as had been made to his ancestors. It was offensive to him that any one contested his title to a tax, without which his state could not be kept up. In the assembled Privy Council he declared that a temporary grant was derogatory to his honour. He said that he would no longer live from hand to mouth: he had as little disposition to suffer from want, or to allow the privileges of his crown to be wrested from him, as he had had thought of infringing the liberties of his people.[491] Secretary Coke, a member of the House, brought in the requisite bill without delay, and proposed the first reading.


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