THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT. (1640-2.)
By Dr G. W. PROTHEUO.
Meeting of the Long Parliament.286
The impeachment of Strafford .287
The trial of Strafford . 288
Army Plot. Bill of Attainder .289
Anti-dissolution Bill. Execution of Strafford . 290
Parliamentary reforms. The Church. 291
Divergence of opinion. The Exclusion Bill . 292
The Militia. Charles goes to Scotland . 293
The reaction. Second Exclusion Bill . 294
The Grand Remonstrance . 295
The Remonstrance passed. Charles' return . 296
Impeachment of Bishops; and of the Five Members . 297
Attempt on the Five Members .298
Change in the attitude of Parliament. The Militia . 299
Exclusion Bill passed. Militia Ordinance rejected . 300
Kentish Petition and Nineteen Propositions . 301
THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT. (1640-2.)
WHEN the great assembly which was afterwards to be known as the Long Parliament met at Westminster on November 3, 1640, the condition of affairs was very different from what it had been in the spring of the year. It was plain, even to the King, that concessions must now be made. The Crown would probably have to surrender the claim to levy ship-money, and even the customs duties, without consent of Parliament, to abolish monopolies, and to extend the limits of religious toleration ; but subsequent events showed that Charles had no intention of seriously modifying the ecclesiastical system, of accepting the principle of ministerial responsibility, or of binding himself to summon Parliaments regularly; in other words, he clung to the essentials of prerogative. The parliamentary leaders, on their part, while resolved to carry out the programme which Pym had indicated in the previous April, had at first no intention of pushing matters to extremes. Their aim was rather restorative-their plan, to thrust back the encroaching power of the Crown, to sweep away the bulwarks of despotism, to revive ancient rights and safeguards. But, as is usual in revolutionary times, mutual suspicion and mistrust prevented a halt when the work of restoration was complete ; and it was at this point that the vacillating and shifty character of Charles proved of so fatal a significance. The conviction became ineradicable that the King intended, at the earliest opportunity, to withdraw the concessions into which he had been forced ; and it must be allowed that, so early as the summer of 1641, incidents, to be noted later, occurred which lent only too much colour to this suspicion. Thus the measures promoted by Parliament, in order to safeguard the rights which had been gained, became more and more subversive of the old order, while acts of violence on the King's part betrayed more and more hostility towards the parliamentary party ; and the two sides were gradually driven into a position of antagonism, of which the only outcome could be civil war.
The most important event of the first six months of the Long
Parliament was undoubtedly the trial of Strafford, which led to his execution on May 12, 1641. So long as influences hostile to reform surrounded the King, so long as the executive remained in the hands of men not only independent of, but hostile to, parliamentary control, a reconciliation between the Crown and the nation would be impossible. It was therefore upon the instruments of autocracy that Pym and his colleagues concentrated their attention. Abandoning the lengthy method hitherto followed, of investigating and expounding grievances, they resolved to strike boldly at the root of the mischief. Within a few days of the meeting of Parliament, a list of persons to be impeached was drawn up ; it included, among others, the names of Strafford and Laud. The parliamentary leaders were not, however, in any hurry for the attack ; they intended to begin by collecting evidence and making sure of their ground. That the plan was altered, and the first blow struck swiftly, was due to the fact that Strafford, hearing of their intention and anxious to anticipate his accusers, urged the King to charge Pym and others with treason, on account of their dealings with the Scots. The King hesitated; and the opportunity was lost. Pym, who was throughout remarkably well informed as to the intentions of the Court, at once carried the impeachment to the Lords; and on November 11 Strafford was committed to prison.
The importance of this initial success was very great ; for it not only removed from the King's side his most devoted supporter, a counsellor whose advice would at least have been clear and energetic, but it struck terror into the hearts of others connected with the system which Strafford had upheld. It showed, moreover, that the Lords were ready to support their colleagues in the Lower House, who were therefore emboldened to proceed. The blow was speedily followed up. An attack on the relaxation of the penal laws caused (December 10) the flight of Secretary Windebank, known to have been in close touch with Panzani, and suspected of being himself a Catholic. A resolution, declaring that ship-money was illegal, and that the Judges who decided against Hampden had broken the law, led to the flight of Lord Keeper Finch (December 21). He was promptly impeached. In the following February, Judge Berkeley, whose support of the Crown had been peculiarly outspoken, was summoned from the Bench itself before the bar of the House, and committed to custody. The assumption by Convocation, in the previous summer, of rights independent of Parliament had aroused much feeling; and the canons which it had passed were condemned on political and religious grounds. These were now declared to be illegal; and Laud was impeached of high treason (December 18). Articles against him were voted in February ; and on March 1 he was sent to the Tower. Thus all the most important agents of the monarchy were swept away.
Meanwhile the charges against Strafford had been roughly formulated (November 24). Several of these, such as the statements that he had
On March 22, 1641, the great trial began. It was a memorable scene. In that ancient hall, the work of the most tyrannical of the Norman Kings, the policy of one of the most despotic of his successors was arraigned, before a Court consisting of all the highest in the land, by the representatives of the nation which he had sought to bind. The ultimate issues went far beyond the immediate result for the individual primarily concerned. Two conceptions of government were brought face to face-government by prerogative alone, and government by King and Parliament. Pym had declared Parliament to be " the soul of the body politic"; Charles and Strafford had deliberately attempted to eliminate it from the Constitution. In the trial of Strafford this issue came to a head. The chief obstacles to the success of Pym and his colleagues lay in the difficulty of bringing Strafford's action within the legal conception of treason. Pym refused to restrict it, as heretofore, to attacks upon the person or authority of the sovereign ; in his mind, an attack upon the Constitution was the more heinous crime. He sought to combine the two ideas by showing that an attempt to undermine the laws on which the authority of the monarchy reposed was to attack the sovereign in his political capacity and to threaten him with ruin. But this was a subtle and a novel idea, involving a new interpretation of the law ; and, had the King frankly allowed the trial to take its course, it is at least possible that Strafford might have obtained an acquittal. But this was not to be. The army in the north was getting out of hand, and became more and more irritated with Parliament, which it regarded as the cause of its receiving no pay. This was, in a sense, true ; for Parliament could not pay off the English army without also paying off and
Pym now made up his mind that Strafford must be brought to the block. Had the parliamentary party been able to trust the King, extreme measures would have been unnecessary; but the Army Plot deepened the distrust already felt, and convinced Pym and others that death was the only security against Stratford's being employed again. The charge of advising the King to bring in the Irish army was now actively pressed. Strafford, ill as he was, defended himself with marvellous skill and courage. Reminding his judges that the evidence of a single witness (Sir Henry Vane) was insufficient to prove a charge of treason, he denied that he had ever intended that the Irish army should land in England, but asserted that "in case of absolute necessity...when all other ordinary means fail,1' the King may "employ the best and uttermost of his means for the preserving of himself and his people." The defence made a favourable impression ; and, as the trial went on, it gradually became clear that an acquittal on the charge of treason was probable. The King had been requested by both Houses to disband the Irish army from which so much was feared; it told against the prisoner that Charles for some time sent no reply, and eventually refused to disband the army till the present business should be over. Nevertheless, on April 10, the friction between the two Houses was such that the trial was temporarily adjourned. A few days later, the "inflexible party" in the Commons decided on a radical alteration in the method of attack, and brought in a Bill of Attainder-in other words, a privUegium to meet the special case, in lieu of a trial by impeachment under the ordinary law. The Lords, indignant, declared that the trial must proceed. The Commons were divided on the question ; Pym and Hampden advised the continuation of the trial. But on April 19 the Lower House voted by a majority of three to one that Strafford's acts amounted to treason ; henceforward the Bill was inevitable, and it was read a third time by 204 votes to 59. The 59 " Straffordians " were the germ of the later Royalist party ; a comparison between this vote and that on the Grand Remonstrance gives a measure of the strength conferred upon that party by the subsequent religious quarrel.
While the Attainder Bill was under discussion in the Upper House, Charles made efforts to conciliate the parliamentary leaders. It was
We now return to the general course of affairs at Westminster. It was one of the first objects of Pym and his colleagues to secure the regular holding of Parliaments, as the surest way of guarding against arbitrary government. With this object a Bill for annual Parliaments, reviving an Act of Edward Ill's reign long fallen into desuetude, was brought in shortly before Christmas 1640, and read a second time. Subsequently this measure was converted into a Triennial Bill, providing, by means of elaborate machinery, that Parliament should not be intermitted for more than three years, and should sit, when called, for at least fifty days. This measure, which was accompanied by a Subsidy Bill, was accepted by the Lords, and became law on February 16.
Hardly less important than the re-establishment of parliamentary
Unparliamentary taxation went the same way as the despotic Courts. A Bill annulling the proceedings in Hampden's case, and declaring ship-money illegal, was introduced in June, but did not receive the royal assent till August. A Tonnage and Poundage Bill, granting these taxes for a few weeks only, and establishing their parliamentary character, became law on June 22. Other Acts limited the extent of the royal forests, abolished fines for knighthood, and substituted a poll-tax for the antiquated system of subsidies.
The passing of these measures had rather been forwarded than hindered by a continuance of the Army Plots, which kept both Houses in a constant state of alarm, and by certain impolitic acts of the King, such as the elevation to the peerage of Digby, who had voted against the Attainder Bill. In the region of political reform there was as yet an almost complete unanimity in Parliament ; and the consequence was a series of changes, made within the short space of nine months, which converted the views of Pym and his friends-so far as legislation could convert them-into law and fact. But in the sphere of religion it was very different. There harmony had speedily disappeared ; and, though much had been attempted, practically nothing had been done.
The release of Prynne, Bastwick, and other Puritan prisoners, and their return to London shortly after the opening of Parliament, led to an outburst of anti-episcopal feeling, which found vent in the so-called " Root-and-Branch " petition, demanding the total abolition of Episcopacy, which was presented to the House of Commons in December, 1640. This petition emanated from London ; similar expressions of opinion came from Kent and Essex. Other districts, notably Cheshire, subsequently sent up remonstrances of an opposite kind. Seven hundred clergy petitioned for the reform, not the abolition, of Episcopacy. It was in the debates on the anti-episcopal petitions that the first serious divergence of opinion showed itself in the House of Commons. The main objections to the existing ecclesiastical system
The two great parties in the State, which, in later days, alternately held the reins of power, may be said to have originated at this juncture. In the debates of February, on the Root-and-Branch petition, Hyde, Falkland, Digby, Seiden, while acknowledging the necessity of reform, defended the institution of Episcopacy. Pym, Hampden, St John, and the majority of the House, were in favour of at least abolishing the temporal power of the Bishops. A declaration of the Scottish commissioners, in favour of the abolition of Episcopacy, produced an effect the opposite of that intended-a temporary reaction in favour of the existing system. But, on March 10-11, the House of Commons resolved against the further exercise of legislative or judicial functions by the clergy. For some time after this, the trial of Strafford occupied almost the whole attention of the House ; but, on May 1, a Bill to exclude the Bishops from Parliament was passed with little opposition.
The death of Strafford and the passing of the Act against the dissolution of Parliament without its own consent altered the complexion of affairs. On the one hand, these events immensely strengthened the House of Commons; on the other, they seemed to facilitate a compromise in other directions. On May 27 the Lords agreed that the clergy should, as a rule, exercise no civil functions, but that Bishops should retain their seats in Parliament. On the same day Cromwell and Vane brought in a Bill for the total abolition of Episcopacy, which was read a second time by a small majority. Ten days later the Lords threw out the Bishops' Exclusion Bill. Various plans for meeting the difficulty were discussed in both Houses. In the Lords a scheme, based on that of Ussher, and drawn up by Bishop Williams, for the regulation of the Church on an episcopal basis, and for the removal of abuses connected with ecclesiastical revenues and the Church Courts, was embodied in a Bill, which was
Meanwhile, although the work of political reform went on, as we have seen, with remarkable unanimity, and one concession after another was forced upon the King by the joint action of the two Houses, another dangerous question began to emerge-that of the control of the military forces. Plots and rumours of plots inspired a general feeling of insecurity. So long as two armies faced each other in the north of England, the chance that constitutional proceedings might be violently interrupted could not be ignored. The fear that Church questions might bring about an armed collision was already present in men's mind; and Fiennes told Hyde that, in his opinion, "if the King resolved to defend the Bishops, it would cost the kingdom much blood." The spectre of militarism stalked across the parliamentary stage. It was this fear that lay at the basis of the Ten Propositions which, on June 24, Pym carried in the Lower House, and which were accepted almost as readily by the Lords. They urged the necessity for the removal of evil counsellors, the banishment of Catholics from Court, the delay of the King's projected journey to Scotland, the disbanding of the army, and the placing of the military forces in safe hands, and requested the Lords to concert measures with the Commons for the attainment of these ends. Charles consented to the disbandment of the army, but denied the knowledge of any evil counsellors, and absolutely refused to defer his journey to Scotland. The treaty with the Scots was now completed, and a Bill passed for securing the discharge of their pecuniary claims ; and on August 10 Charles set out for the north.
The King's object in going to Scotland was and still remains obscure; but that he had some understanding with the Scottish Commissioners is clear. Whatever his intentions, his departure for the north redoubled the anxiety of the parliamentary leaders, but did not prevent the continuance of their labours. So obvious was the necessity of harmony between the Houses that the Root-and-Branch Bill was dropped ; but on September 1 resolutions were passed for the removal of Laud's innovations in regard to the position of the communion-table, images, candles, etc.; and an ominous attack was made on the Book of Common Prayer.
When the members met again, on October 20, a crisis was evidently at hand. Charles' doings in Scotland, and the alarm created by " the Incident"-as the plot to seize Argyll and Hamilton was called-are described elsewhere. The anxiety of Pym and his colleagues was not diminished by the consciousness that, in the country at large, a reaction against their ecclesiastical policy and other proceedings was making itself felt. Enough, many thought, had been done; individual liberties and parliamentary rights had been secured; the most prominent advisers of absolutism had been removed; and a terrible example had been made. A considerable measure of ecclesiastical reform was certain, if only the Houses could agree. Why go further, and bring about a chaos of which no one could see the end ? Under the influence of these views the party which perceived that the preservation of the Church was wrapped up with the maintenance, under restrictions, of the authority of the Crown, was already forming.
At this crisis, as throughout the period, political and ecclesiastical considerations were inextricably fused. This was at least as evident to the parliamentary leaders as to their opponents. To the former it appeared that nothing was gained while the Church question remained unsolved; and their victories seemed insecure so long as the King, through the Bishops, held his ground in the House of Lords. A second Bishops' Exclusion Bill was therefore brought in and passed (October 23); and the Peers were asked to sequester the thirteen impeached Bishops, and to prevent the rest from voting on the Bill. Meanwhile the King had written from Scotland a letter, which was circulated among the Peers, protesting against any alteration in " the discipline and doctrine of the Church of England," and expressing his resolution " to die in the maintenance of it." It was at once a threat and a prophecy. In the Upper House it turned the scale. The Lords put aside the request of the Commons, and shelved their Bill. Again the King showed his lack of policy by translating two of the impeached Bishops to higher posts. The House of Commons, indignant at this prejudging of their cause, and stimulated by fresh disclosures as to Army Plots, resolved on drawing up a Remonstrance on the state of the kingdom, which some members at least intended to be an appeal to the people at large.
On November 1, the day fixed for the discussion of the Remonstrance,
The struggle between these men and their opponents in the Lower House came to a head in the debate on the Remonstrance (November 8- 2S). The air was thick with rumours of intrigues and plots, and terrifying, if exaggerated, accounts of massacres in Ireland. It is not wonderful if, in all this, the parliamentary party saw evidence of a settled design to undo all the work of the past year. The Irish rebellion was not indeed the work of Charles ; it was the result of previous misgovernment, of religious fanaticism, and, more immediately, of Stratford's mistaken policy ; but the King had to bear the blame. Outside the House, Pym and his friends found their chief support, and that a potent one, in the City of London, which, intervening not for the first or the last time, expressed its willingness to lend money for the suppression of the rebellion, but demanded the imprisonment of the Catholic Lords, and the exclusion of the Bishops from the Upper House. Under influences such as these the great debate was carried on.
In its ultimate form, the Remonstrance was in the first place, as its title indicates, a review of the past actions of the King and the Parliament. Going back to the beginning of the reign, and attributing to the Papists, the Bishops, and evil counsellors, the mischiefs and grievances of which complaint was made, it referred to the precipitate dissolutions of the early Parliaments, the mistakes in foreign policy, the forced loan, the breaches of parliamentary privilege, the tyranny of Star Chamber and High Commission, the doings of Laud and Strafford, ship-money and monopolies, and a multitude of other matters, large and small,
The demands which this petition embodied-although, as will be observed, the army was not expressly mentioned-were such as to cause the gravest division of opinion in the House. On November 22-3 the discussion continued-a most unusual event-till long past midnight ; and so fiery were the passions aroused that members clutched their swords. " I thought," wrote one who was there, " we had all sat in the valley of the shadow of death." By a majority of eleven votes only (159-148) the Remonstrance was carried. Had it been lost, said Cromwell to Falkland, he " would have sold all he had, and never have seen England any more." But the Remonstrance did not contain, or at least clearly display, the whole programme of the majority. The amplification of that programme was at least partly due to incidents which immediately followed.
On November 25 Charles returned from Scotland. He visited the City, knighted the Lord Mayor, and was well received, at least by the wealthier citizens. Thus encouraged, he took the unwise step of dismissing the parliamentary guard. Though, on petition from both Houses, it was restored next day, the Commons were much agitated ; and Strode moved to put the kingdom " in a posture of defence." Thereupon an Impressment Bill was passed, which, while authorising the raising of troops for Ireland, forbade (as a safeguard against military violence) the putting of compulsion on men to serve outside their own county, except in case of foreign invasion. The Lords objecting to this provision, the majority in the Commons replied by bringing in a Militia Bill, under which the supreme command of the military forces was to be taken out of the King's hands. A Lord-General was to be nominated the Bill, with large powers; and a Lord-Admiral, similarly
On December 15 it was resolved to take the grave step of printing and publishing the Remonstrance-it had been presented to the King on December 1-and thus of appealing to the nation against the Crown. The effect of this action was soon seen. The elections to the Common Council of the City showed a large Puritan majority. Charles thereupon dismissed Sir William Balfour, who, as Lieutenant of the Tower, had kept out Billingsley in the previous May, and appointed Thomas Lunsford, a disreputable officer, in his place. On December 23 he made an evasive answer to the Remonstrance, showing no intention of granting any of its demands, except in regard to summoning a national synod. Soon afterwards he dismissed the Constable of the Tower, Lord Newport, whom the Commons had requested, as Lunsford's superior, to take control of that fortress. London was evidently to be overawed. Nevertheless, at the Lord Mayor's request, Lunsford was dismissed, and Sir John Byron put in his place. Meanwhile worse news came from Ireland ; the whole island was blazing up in revolt. Tempers grew still more heated ; the mob broke into riot around Westminster and Whitehall ; blood was shed ; and the Bishops, the special objects of antipathy, were hindered, or conceived themselves hindered, from attending Parliament. Twelve of them, with Williams, now Archbishop of York, at their head, signed a protest, stating their inability to attend, and declaring that everything done by Parliament in their absence was null and void. The signatories were at once impeached by the Commons ; the impeachment was accepted by the Lords, who resented the protest as an encroachment on their own privileges ; and on the same day the Bishops were sent to prison. Their enforced absence would clearly be a great gain to the parliamentary party in any subsequent voting in the House of Lords.
It was now rumoured at Court that the leaders intended to follow up the blow by impeaching the Queen. As to her intrigues with the Pope, the Irish, the officers of the army, and others, evidence could easily be obtained. If such were the intention, it must be anticipated at all costs. Hence the resolution to impeach five members of the Lower House- Pym, Hampden, Holies, Heselrige, and Strode; one peer, Lord Kim-bolton, was subsequently added to the list. On January 3, 1642, Attorney-General Herbert impeached the members before the House of Lords, on charges including an endeavour to seduce the army, encouragement to a foreign Power (Scotland) to invade the country, and a conspiracy to levy war upon the King. The Lords appointed a committee to consider whether the impeachment was in order ; whereupon the King, taking the case out of their hands, sent the Serjeant-at-Arms to the House of Commons with orders to arrest the accused. The Lords, indignant at this encroachment on their judicial rights, joined the Commons in petitioning the King for an adequate guard. Having
So greatly were the affections, even of persons favourable to the King, alienated (as Clarendon confesses) by this violent and mismanaged action, that war could now be hardly more than a question of time. It was, however, delayed for seven long months, during which both parties, while negotiating as distinct and hostile Powers, strained every nerve to occupy points of vantage, and to arm themselves for the conflict which each felt to be almost inevitable. Yet, for some time, all hope of peace was not given up. Charles made concessions going far beyond any hitherto granted-concessions which, if made earlier, might have saved the distracted country from civil war. Even now they might have brought back peace but for the rooted distrust which the King's previous conduct had engendered, and which his simultaneous actions now continued to infuse. The Commons, on their side, had reason enough for caution and self-restraint. It was but a small majority that gave Pym and his supporters the control of the Lower House. The majority in the Lords, even in the absence of almost all the Bishops, was by no means whole-hearted in its alliance with the Commons, and not unfrequently refused assent to their proposals. These divisions were reflected in the country at large. As the demands of the parliamentary party rose, the Commons lost the reputation they had hitherto enjoyed as the champions of law and order against violence and caprice, the restorers of the ancient system in the place of autocracy. Their temper and their actions became arbitrary and tyrannical ; they claimed and assumed powers as unconstitutional as those which Charles had for a while enjoyed. In short, the royalists became the true conservatives, and the character of revolutionaries passed to the other side. Parliament demanded, it is true, no more than was ultimately to pass into its hands ; but the mechanism which, in the next century, was to render possible the exercise of executive control by a large popularly-elected body was as
In view of what might happen, it was a matter of prime consequence for both parties to get possession of the sea-ports on the eastern and southern coasts-for Charles, in order to bring in men and supplies; for Parliament, to prevent such reinforcements. Among these ports, none was at this moment more important than Hull, for, in addition to its convenience as a place of landing, it contained the stores and ammunition collected for the war with Scotland. The King at once endeavoured to occupy it, but was anticipated by Parliament, under whose directions it was secured by Sir John Hotham with the aid of the Yorkshire trained bands (January 31, 1642). On the other hand, Byron refused to surrender the Tower. It was obvious, however, that he could not hold out long; and on February 11 the King consented to replace him by Sir John Conyers, a parliamentary nominee.
A few days after leaving Whitehall, Charles had announced his intention of dropping the impeachment of the five members ; but he spoilt the effect of this concession by stating that he would prosecute them in another way. On January 20 he sent a conciliatory message to Westminster, inviting Parliament to state clearly what it considered necessary for the maintenance of its privileges, the security of " the true religion," and " the settling of ceremonies," and professing his willingness to meet its wishes in these respects. But, while as determined as ever on ecclesiastical change, the leaders had now come to believe that nothing would be safe without military control ; and the main interest henceforward centred round the struggle for the command of the national force. After passing preliminary resolutions as to the guarding of the fortresses against surprise, and the nomination of the Lords-Lieutenant (in whom the command of the militia was at that time vested), the Commons demanded that both fortresses and militia should be placed under persons in whom Parliament could confide. After much hesitation, the Lords concurred; and, on February 5, they at length passed the Bishops' Exclusion Bill, which they had shelved some three months before. Next day the King announced that he would
A week earlier the Militia Ordinance, embodying the parliamentary proposals, had been placed before the King. When the Queen was gone, he replied that the new officers must receive commissions from himself, and that the limitation of their terms of office must rest with him. On March 2, in spite of the remonstrances of Parliament, he set out for the north. His object, it was feared, was only too plain. Both Houses thereupon resolved that the kingdom should be put "in a posture of defence," and issued an ordinance appointing the newly-nominated Lords-Lieutenant to the command of the militia. This is the point at which, in the opinion of Ranke, the quarrel became irreconcilable. It is not surprising that the King, on his side, went back upon his former offers, and, when asked by Lord Pembroke if he would not hand over the command of the militia for a time, replied, "By God, not for an hour." Nevertheless, in the latter part of April, another attempt to settle the military question was made. A Militia Bill, based on the King's previous suggestions, was passed in the Lords, and considered in the Lower House. It was limited in its operations to two years ; and it provided that the calling-out of the militia should be left to the Lords-Lieutenant (named in the Bill) acting under the King's orders signified to both Houses of Parliament.
Such divided control was unlikely to satisfy either party ; and things had gone too far for a compromise. Parliament had already sent orders to remove the munitions from Hull (April 18), and by their treatment of the Kentish Petition had shown a lamentable departure from the tolerant principles they claimed to represent. This petition, drawn up on March 25 by the grand jury of Kent, begged, among other things, that episcopal government might be preserved, that a clerical synod might be called to discuss ecclesiastical differences, and that the militia
The month of May passed in mutual recriminations, unsatisfied requests, and preparations for war. On June 2 Parliament sent to the King a final statement of its demands in the shape of the Nineteen Propositions-demands more advanced, in several particulars, than any made before. The members of the King's Council and other officials, even the Judges, were to be chosen by Parliament ; and no new Peers were to sit in the House of Lords without consent of both Houses. The Militia Ordinance was to become law ; and the fortresses were to be handed over to parliamentary nominees. The Church was to be reformed as Parliament might decree ; and the children of Roman Catholics were to be educated as Protestants. Proposals such as these amounted to a complete transfer of sovereignty from the Crown to Parliament. They could not be accepted by the King, even as a basis of discussion ; nor, had he been willing, would the Royalist-Episcopalian party, now at his back, have allowed him to consent.
From Scotland and from Holland Charles asked for help in vain; and no other Power showed any inclination to interfere; but his English supporters increased day by day. An exodus of Royalist members from Westminster had for some time been going on ; very soon the minority in the Commons practically disappeared ; and some two-thirds of the Lords rallied to the King at York. On June 16, the day after thirty-five Peers had signed a protest declaring their belief in Charles' pacific intentions, Commissions of Array were issued, empowering officers appointed by the King to raise troops in his name. Next day Newcastle was occupied by his adherents. Lord Herbert and other wealthy Peers poured their private resources into his exchequer ; and the Universities sent large contributions. On the other side, the Militia Ordinance was taking effect throughout the country, at least south of the Humber; and on July 2 the fleet-a most important factor in the struggle-declared for Parliament, and accepted the Earl of Warwick as its admiral. Ten days later Lord Essex was nominated to the supreme command of the Parliamentary forces; and the members of both Houses swore to live and die with their general "for the preservation of the true religion, laws, liberties, and peace of the kingdom." On July 15 the first blood was shed at Manchester. The Civil War had begun.