From the Accession of James I. to the revolution of 1688
The volume of the history of england, which we have now brought to a close, narrates the great struggle for the liberties of the nation, which commenced with the accession of the Stuart dynasty, and which closed with it. The history of the reign of that family is the history of our battle for constitutional freedom, and our achievement of it. No volume of any history can be more important - none to us, as Englishmen, so important. James I. began with declaring the doctrine of royal absolutism. He represented himself as much God on earth as God is in heaven. All power of life and death; all command, not only of his subjects, but of the laws themselves, he declared to be in his hands. If he made the law-makers, he asked, whether it was not plain that he made the laws too. His son, Charles I., adopted this grandiose creed of his father, and trod faithfully in his steps; but the people were not disposed to see their Magna Charta thus royally set aside, and Englishmen reduced to slaves. They fought for it. They conquered; tried the monarch for his treason against the nation, and beheaded him for it; - the first example of such a solemn act of justice by a people, on a monarch sinning against the popular rights intrusted to him. The Commonwealth succeeded, but the leaven of royalty working in the realm, Charles II. was restored, and, more successful than his father, destroyed once more the national independence. James attempting to go still further, and to restore rejected popery, thereby, if successful, subjecting this kingdom to the domination of a foreigner, the people finally expelled the Stuart dynasty, and elected "William, Prince of Orange; thus cutting off for ever in this kingdom all pretensions of divine right to the throne. The Bill of Rights, which confirms this election, constitutes the modern Magna Charta of England. It is hence we date all the power of our present constitution. Such is the momentous story of this third volume of our History. It is a recital which has engaged the attention of all the great nations of the present world; has already produced great events on the continent of Europe, and is destined to produce still greater. From the republic of England equally originated the principles, and the very creation of the republic of the United States of America. The story of this time cannot, therefore, be too carefully studied by all Englishmen.
In closing this eventful narrative we have found ourselves compelled to call in question and refute the attempt of some modern historians of distinction to smoothe over the insidious despotism of Charles II., and to represent him as a monarch-not at all inclined to overstep the restraints of the constitution. See the review of the laws and constitution. In noticing this circumstance, we deem it useful once more to draw the attention of our readers to a few of the great points of historic fact, which we alone, of all our historians, have drawn forth and established.
The first of these is that of Magna Charta being not the work of the barons, but of the people. The great delusion which all our historians, in the face of the plainest facts, have regularly perpetuated, that the barons at Runnymede won the charter, is an aristocratic delusion, which is studiously maintained by that order to sanction its assumption of claims to govern us at will, as the class which achieved our liberties. The assumption is a fiction more airy and empty than a new year's dream. Whoever will refer to any history of the period, will see that the barons who bore arms at Runnymede, in vain attempted to bring John to grant a charter till the people of Bedford and London declared for him. Then John consented to meet them at Runnymede, when he signed the charter, and again immediately repudiated it. The barons were thus in the condition of a man who has got an acceptance - good, if taken up; waste paper, if dishonoured. Their charter was dishonoured. The debt of liberty had to be fought for, and John beat them. Thus worsted, they committed a most treasonable act in calling in the son of the French king to their aid, promising him the crown. John beat both them and their French king. On his death, Hubert de Burgh, constable of Dover, with a body of English sailors, and William de Collingham, with the archers of Sussex, drove the French prince out of the kingdom, put down the barons, and obtained the confirmation of the great charter from Henry III., with a new charter, the charter of the Forests. Thus the people - not the barons - acquired the charter; and Blackstone, in his work on the Great Charter, confirms this plain fact, by saying that it is not John's charter, but the charter of Henry III. from which we date our liberties. As to these barons who, under pretence of establishing our liberties, would have reduced England to a French province, Carte says that on John's death a letter, signed by upwards of forty of them, was found in his pocket, offering to give up the charter on condition of a full pardon, and restoration of their estates. It is certain that the remnant left of them were only too glad to receive a pardon from Henry III., and never ceased to pursue the honest Hugh de Burgh for his share in defeating them. They never relaxed their malice till they ruined him with the king, though he was become justiciary of the kingdom - its chief minister - and made his life one miserable martydom for his patriotism.
The next great point which we have been able to bring out and place in complete light, is the great epoch of the revolution of our fiscal system, which took place by the bargain of Charles II. with the party t\-hich restored him. See our account in his reign, again adverted to under the head of Laws and Constitution; by which he surrendered all the feudal services for the grant of the excise for ever. The operation of this transaction, which transferred the support of his crown from the landholders to the people at large, with all its consequences of extravagant taxation and national debt, will be found first to be fully demonstrated in this present volume. The statute of 12 Car. II., which makes this transfer, has been incidentally referred to by former historians, as we have remarked, but without any clear perception of the grand revolution in our whole system of taxation which it originated; perhaps, after all, the greatest revolution, as it concerns the rights and property of the community at large, which this country has seen.
Had we only succeeded in establishing these two vital points, we should have deemed them worth all the labour of research and composition, but we think we may refer with pride to the unvarying determination displayed through the whole work, to assert and maintain the great principles of justice and popular right. Whilst adverting to the testimony of Lord Brougham, on a late occasion, to this fact, we must, as a matter of justice to individuals, modify in some degree one of his assertions. It is, that none of the modern historians to whom he alluded, had condemned the French invasion of Henry V., though they had those of Edward III. This is not strictly true as regards us. In condemning the invasion of France by Edward III., we condemned the invasion of Henry V. at the same time. We condemned those wars in toto. See vol. I., p. 369. "The invasions of France by Edward III. raised the martial glory of England to the highest pitch. There is nothing in the miracles of bravery done at Leuctra, Marathon, or Thermopylae, which can surpass those performed at Crecy, Poictiers, and on other occasions; but there the splendour of the parallel ends. The Greek battle-fields are sanctified by the imperishable renown of patriotism; those of England, at that period, are distinguished only by empty ambition and unwarrantable aggression. The Greeks fought and conquered for the very existence of their country and liberties. The English to crush those of an independent people. The wars commenced by Edward III. inflicted the most direful miseries on France, were continued for generations, and perpetuated a spirit of hostility between the two great neighbour countries, which has been prolific of bloodshed, and most injurious to the progress of liberty and civilisation."
After this and similar denunciations of all those wars, it was not necessary to swell our pages by fresh ones under the reign of Henry V., but we explicitly kept in the reader's view that it was an unauthorised invasion of France. Speaking of Henry V.'s message to the French king, we say, vol. I., p. 528: "This was singular language for a man to hold who was notoriously in a foreign country with a hostile force, come avowedly to subdue it by his arms, and, therefore, necessarily himself intending to shed the blood of Christians."
There is another subject to which Lord Brougham alluded on the same occasion, that cannot, without injustice to a highly meritorious historian, be passed over without explanation. Lord Brougham, as well as some of the Reviews, have given to a living author the merit of introducing into history the admirable improvement of reviewing the state of commerce, government, and society, at different periods. That merit undoubtedly belongs to Dr. Henry; it is a merit of the highest kind, and one of which Lord Brougham would never wittingly have deprived the legitimate possessor. The merit of the historian, to whom his lordship alluded, consists in his having continued Dr. Henry's plan, and in his having continued it well. It is a plan which all modern historians have felt it necessary to follow, and one which we have ourselves adopted. We have, however, in that department introduced much new matter, together with some corrected statements; and in a spirit of fearless inquiry and justice betwixt man and man, we proceed to trace the path of events before us.
The enormous circulation to which the History of England has attained - a history confessed by the highest judges to inculcate the soundest and most enlightened opinions - renders our work one, the importance of which cannot, we think, be over estimated, in preparing a healthy and patriotic future for the people at large.
Table of content
Chapter: I. The Reign of James I
James Enters England - Receives Foreign Embassies - Lavish Distribution of Honours - Conspiracy against him - "The Main" and "The Bye" - Trials of the Conspirators - Execution of Watson, Clarke, and Brooke - Reprieve of Raleigh, Cobham, and Gray - Conference with Puritans - Persecution of Catholics and Puritans - Gunpowder Plot - Imprisonment of Earl of Northumberland - New Penal Code - Character of Anne of Denmark - Insurrection of the Levellers - Theobalds made over to Queen Anne by Cecil - Attempted Union of Englareignnd and Scotland - Story of Arabella Stuart - Death of Prince Henry - Carr, the Scotch Favourite - Divorce of Earl and Countess of Essex - The Countess marries Carr, who is made Earl of Somerset - Rise of Villiers, the new Favourite - Arrest and Trial of Somerset and his Countess - Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury - Disgrace of Coke - Transactions with Holland - Synod of Dort - Episcopacy introduced into Scotland - Visit of James to Scotland - The Five Articles.
Chapter: II. The Reign of James I (Continued)
Marriage of the Princess Elizabeth - The King's Favourite, Carr - Imprisonment of Overbury - Marriage of Carr - Rise of George Villiers - Murder of Overbury - Conviction of the Earl and Countess of Somerset - Fall of Coke - Transactions with Holland - Restoration of Episcopacy in Scotland - The King's Visit to Scotland - The Five Articles - Affairs in Ireland - Religious Discontent there - Flight of Tyrone and Tyrconnel - Revolt of O'Dogherty - New Plantations-Persecutions for Religion in England - Power of Buckingham-Voyage of Sir Walter Raleigh to New Guiana - His Failure, and Execution - The Palsgrave made King of Bohemia - Exposure of Officers of the Crown - Impeachment and Disgrace of Bacon - The Palsgrave and Elizabeth driven from Bohemia - Impeachment of Floyd for rejoicing in it - Williams Lord Keeper-The Primate shoots a Gamekeeper - Struggles with Parliament - Punishment of Members - Proposed Spanish Match - Romantic Journey of Prince Charles and Buckingham to Spain - Match broke off - Threatened War with Spain - Parliamentary Prosecution of the Earl of Middlesex - Plot against Buckingham - Aid sent to the Palatine - Match with a French Princess - Death and Character of James.
Chapter: III. Reign of Charles I.
Charles, on ascending the Throne, completes his Marriage with Henrietta of France - Meets his First Parliament - Adjourns to Oxford - State of Parties - Expedition to Cadiz - Persecution of the Catholics - The Impeachment of Buckingham - Quarrels betwixt the King and Queen - Insolence of the Queen's French Attendants - Their Dismissal - Breach of the Articles of Marriage - Threatened Rupture with France - Expedition to the Isle of Rhe - Its Defeat - Third Parliament - Petition of Right granted - Saville and Wentworth won over from the Popular Party by Peerages - Assassination of Buckingham - The Murderer executed - Apprehensions from Popery and Arminianism - The King's Contests with the Commons - Determines to govern without a Parliament - Peace made with France - Intrigue with Flanders - The King's Schemes to force a Revenue without Parliament - Savage Punishment of Dr. Leighton for his "Plea against Prelacy" - War in Support of the Palatine - Its Failure.
Chapter: IV. Reign of Charles I. (Continued.)
The Irish Rebellion - Remonstrance of the Commons - Impeachment of twelve Bishops - The King's attempt to seize six Members of Parliament-Bishops deprived of seats in Parliament - Continuance of the Irish Rebellion - King retires to York - Is shut out of Hull - Both King and Commons resort to arms - Charles raises his standard at Nottingham - Battle of Edge Hill - Treaty at Oxford - Battle of Newbury - Solemn League and Covenant - Close of the Irish Rebellion - Royalist Parliament at Oxford - Proposals for Peace - Battle of Marston Moor - Earl of Essex surrenders in the West - Self-denying Ordinance - Synod of Divines-Trial and Execution of Laud.
Chapter: V. Reign of Charles I. (Continued)
The Treaty of Uxbridge - Victories of Montrose in Scotland - The Battle of Naseby - Bristol surrenders to the Parliament - Charles besieged in Oxford - The endeavours of the Earl of Glamorgan to bring over the Irish, but in vain - The King makes overtures to the Parliament and the Scots at the same time - Tries to influence the Independents - Finally surrenders to the Scots - The Parliament negotiate with the Scots - The Scots give the King up to the Parliament - Contention of the different Parties.
Chapter: VI. Reign of Charles I. (Concluded.)
The King is taken to Holmby - Growing separation betwixt the Presbyterians and Independents - Proposed reduction 'of the Army - The Army demands its Pay - Marches from Nottingham into Essex - The Soldiers, under the name of Adjutators or Agitators, demand their Rights - The Army seizes and removes the King from Holmby to Newmarket - Marches towards London - Treats the King with Indulgence - The London Apprentices attempt to overawe the Independents in Parliament - The Speaker's Escape to the Army - Army Plan for the Settlement of the Nation - Refused by the King - Fairfax enters the City - Is supported by the Southwark Militia - The Speaker restored by the Army - The King is transferred to Hampton Court, where his Children visit him - Rise of the Levellers - The King escapes from Hampton Court - Secured in the Isle of Wight - Confined in Carisbrook Castle - Parliament propose Four Bills, which he refuses - Attempts to escape again, but is prevented - Reaction in Favour of the King - The Scots arm in his Behalf - Insurrections - Defeat of the Scots at Preston - The Fleet declares for the King - Charles removed to Newport - Increasing Danger of the King - Pride's Purge - The King brought to Trial and condemned to Death - Suppression of the Monarchy.
Chapter: VII. The Commonwealth.
Abolition of Monarchy - Council of State organised - Execution of Hamilton, Capel, and other Royalists - Mutiny of the Levellers - Their Suppression - Proceedings in Scotland - Charles II. proclaimed in Edinburgh - Send Deputies to the King - State of Ireland - Flight of the Nuncio - Articles of Peace - Cromwell appointed to command - Treaty with O'Neil - Victory of Jones at Rathmines - Arrival of Cromwell - The Massacre of Drogheda - Massacre at Wexford - Cromwell's Progress - Progress and Defeat of Monroe in Scotland - His Death - Charles II. lands in Scotland - Cromwell sent thither - The Battle of Dunbar - Cromwell's Progress - Escape and Recapture of the King - Coronation of Charles - Cromwell in Fife- Charles marches to England - Defeat of the Earl of Derby - Battle of Worcester - Defeat of the Royalists - The King escapes - His Adventures at Whiteladies, at Madeley, at Boscobel, at Moseley, and Mrs. Norton's - His Escape to France.
Chapter: VIII. Commonwealth (Continued).
New Parliament - War with Spain - Victories and Death of Blake - Proposal to make Cromwell King - He refuses - New Constitution-Parliament of two Houses - Opposition of the Commons - Its Dissolution - Reduction of Dunkirk - Sickness and Death of Cromwell - His Character - Richard Cromwell Protector - Parliament summoned and dissolved - The Officers recall the Long Parliament - It is expelled, and is again reinstated - Monk s opposition - His march to London - Addresses the House - Joins the insurgent Citizens of London - Dissolves the Long Parliament - Rising under Lambert - Monk's Message to the King - The two Houses recall the King - He lands at Dover and enters London.
Chapter: IX. Progress of the Nation.
Chapter: X. Charles II
Conduct of Charles on his Restoration - Assembling of the Two Houses of Parliament, called the Convention Parliament - The Royal Council- Grants of the Excise, Customs, &c., to the Crown - Abolition of the great Feudal Services - Entire Revolution of the System of Taxation by these Measures - Trials and Executions of the Regicides - The Remains of Cromwell and others of the Commonwealth Leaders exhumed, cast out of Westminster Abbey, and mutilated - Revolution in Landed Property - Restoration of Bishops and Church Property - Transactions in Scotland - Trial and Execution of Argyll and others - Bishops restored in Scotland and in Ireland - Disputes regarding their landed Property - Their Settlement- National Immorality - Marriage of James, Duke of York, to the daughter of Chancellor Hyde - Marriage of the Princess Henrietta to the Duke of Orleans - Sale of Dunkirk - Declaration of Indulgence - Its Unpopularity- Conventicle Act - Hostilities against Holland - New Method of Taxation- Privileges of the Clergy curtailed - Naval Victory - Plague in London- Captures and Failures at Sea - Parliament at Oxford - Five Mile Act - French -and Dutch unite - Four days' Sea-fight - Great Fire of London.
Chapter: XI. Reign of Charles II. (Continued)
Insurrection in Scotland - Secret Treaty with Louis XIV. - The Dutch Beet in the Thames - The Peace of Breda - The Fall of Clarendon - His Banishment - Treaty. of Aix-la-Chapelle - Disputes betwixt the two Houses of Parliament - Licentiousness at Court - Intrigues of Buckingham -. Secret Negotiations with France - The Duke of York an avowed Catholic - New Conventicle Act and Persecutions of the Nonconformists - Schemes to alter the Succession in favour of Monmouth - Death of the Duchess of Orleans - Death of Monk - Attempt to steal the Crown - Death of the Duchess of York - The Cabal - Declaration of Indulgence-War with Holland - Recall of the Indulgence, and passing of Test Act - Disgrace of Shaftesbury - Impeachment of Arlington - Intrigues of Monmouth - Danby's Nonresisting Test - Affairs of Scotland and Ireland - Congress of Nimeguen - Charles a French Pensioner - General Peace - Titus Oates's Plot - Accusation of the Queen - Trials and Executions - Impeachment of Danby - Duke of York forced to quit England - Proposed Bill of Exclusion - Execution of Mitchell in Scotland - Murder of Archbishop Sharpe - Conflicts with the Covenanters - Execution of five Jesuits - Bill of Exclusion lost in the Lords - Trial and Execution of Lord Stafford.
Chapter: XII. Reign of Charles II. (Concluded)
The Bill of Limitation - Proceedings of the Commons - Dissolution of Parliament - Fresh Secret Treaty with Louis - New Parliament meets at Oxford - Plot of Fitzharris - Dissolution of Charles's Fifth and Last Parliament - Executions of Fitzharris and Archbishop Plunket - The Tables turned on the Popular Leaders - Execution of College, the Protestant Joiner - Arrest of Shaftesbury - Prosecutions of the Cameronians in Scotland- Conduct of James in Scotland - Imprisonment and Escape of Argyll - Duke of York near perishing at Sea - Persecutions of the Whigs - Flight and Death of Shaftesbury - Proceedings against the City - The Rye House Plot - Arrests of Lord Russell, Sidney, Wildman, and others - Trials and Executions of Russell and Sidney - Trial and Imprisonment of Hampden - Corporations deprived of their Charters by quo warranto Writs - Intrigues of Halifax - Conduct of Monmouth - Sickness and Death of the King.
Chapter: XIII. Reign on James II
James's Speech on his Accession - Levies Duties without Authority - Openly practices Catholicism - Applies, like Charles, for money to the French King - Parliaments held in England and Scotland - Persecution of the Covenanters - The Invasion of Argyll and Monmouth - They are defeated and executed - Jeffreys' Campaign in the West-Executions of Mrs. Lisle and of the Rebels - Opposition in both Lords and Commons - Intrigues of the Ministers - The Affairs of the Countess of Dorchester - An Ambassador sent to Rome - The King's Dispensing Power affirmed by the Judges - New Ecclesiastical Commission - Catholic Chapels opened - An Army on Hounslow Heath - Catholic Privy Councillors - Disgrace of Rochester - Proceedings in Scotland - The King dispenses with the Test - Proclaims Liberty of Conscience - His Reception in Scotland - Clarendon Lord Lieutenant of Ireland - Superseded by Tyrconnel - Tyrconnel's Policy.
Chapter: XIV. Reign of James II. (Continued)
James professes an Attachment to Liberty of Conscience - Closetings - General Opposition to the Court - Declaration of Indulgence - How received by the Church and the Dissenters - Friends and Enemies - Proselytes - Attempts to impose Popish Professors on the Universities Prince and Princess of Orange hostile to the Indulgence - Negotiations of the Prince with the leading Whigs through Dykvelt and Zulestein - Birth of a Prince of Wales - Trial and Acquittal of the seven Bishops - Louis declares War against Germany - The Prince of Orange prepares for an Expedition to England - Incredulity of James - His Fears and Concessions - Sunderland dismissed - William arrives in Torbay - Lord Corn- bury, Lord Churchill, and the Duke of Grafton join him - Desertion of the Princess Anne - The Prince of Wales sent to Portsmouth - The Queen escapes to France - Desertion of Clarendon - James sends an Embassy to the Prince - William's Answer - Flight of James - Stopped at Feversham - Brought back to Whitehall - Goes back to Rochester - Escapes to France - Meeting of a Convention - The Throne declared Vacant - Declaration of Rights - Arrival of the Princess - Proclamation of William and Mary.
Chapter: XV. The Progress of the Nation