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him that lasted till after midnight, and, as a token of a full CHAP. pardon, ordered the records of all the proceedings against him in the Star Chamber to be cancelled.
cancelled. His resentagainst an agent in his
To some of his more respectable opponents Williams said, "If they had no worse foes than him, they might fear no harm, and that he saluted them with the charity of a Bishop;" but when Kilvert, who had behaved so abominably at Buckden, came to crave pardon and indemnity, he said, passionately, tion. "I assure you pardon for what you have done before; but this is a new fault, that you take me to be of so base a spirit as to defile myself with treading on so mean a creature. Live still by pettifogging, and think that I have forgotten you."
King from assenting to bill to pre
vent a dis
He strongly advised Charles not to assent to the act which deprived him of the power of dissolving this parliament at pleasure, and which must be considered the foundation of the impending revolution. Long before the King's captivity solution. the House of Commons had become unpopular, so that there was a strong reaction throughout the nation in his favour; and if he could have called a new parliament he would have been safe.
His n istrial of
But Williams's conduct with respect to Strafford cannot be defended. In the first place, although the trial for the high treason was causa sanguinis, — contrary to the canons and Straffed. immemorial usage, he contended for the right of the Bishops
to be present and to vote upon it, and that they ought to exercise this right.†
The Bill of Attainder being passed, although he professed to disapprove of it, he agreed to go with three other prelates to try to induce the King to assent to it, and thus he stated the question: "Since his Majesty refers his own judgment to his Judges, and they are to answer it, if an innocent person suffers, why may he not satisfy his conscience in the present
• Hacket, part ii.
†There is a striking instance of the inaccuracy of Lord Clarendon in relating this transaction. fle strongly blames Williams for denying the right of the Bishops to be present and to vote,-that he might deprive Strafford of their support;-whereas Hacket gives at full length a very long speech which Wi!liams delivered, to prove that the Bishops on trials for life and death were to sit and vote like other Peers. - -3 St. Tr. 823. 2 Parl. Hist. 732. In capital cases the Bishops always withdraw under protest.
CHAP. matter, since competent Judges in the law have awarded that they find the Earl guilty of treason, by suffering the judgment to stand, though in his own mind he is satisfied that the party convicted was not criminous ?" The other three Bishops, trusting to his learning and experience, joined with him in sanctioning this distinction, in laying all the blame on the Judges, and in saying that the King, with a good conscience, might agree to Strafford's death. Clarendon mainly imputes Strafford's death to Williams's conduct on this occasion, saying that "he acted his part with prodigious boldness and impiety." It is stated as matter of palliation by others, that Usher, the celebrated Archbishop of Armagh, was one of this deputation, and that Strafford, although aware of the advice he had given, was attended by him on the scaffold, and received from him the last consolations of religion.
Visits his diocese.
Williams now visited his diocese, and tried to put down unlicensed preaching, which was beginning to spread formiHe is ques- dably. On his return, being violently attacked in parliathe House ment for this proceeding, he ably defended himself in a conference between the two Houses, held in the Painted Chamber.
Archbishop of York,
While afraid of the displeasure of the popular party, a new change of fortune awaited him. It was said he experienced almost as many vicissitudes as Marius, Consul toties exulque; ex exule Consul. Instead of being sent to Newgate as he expected by the influence of the Puritans whom he had protected, — he was made by the King Archbishop of York, and placed, de facto, at the head of the Church of England. Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was under impeachment in the Tower, and the clergy of the establishment looked, as their last hope, to him who had been for years persecuted and imprisoned as their enemy.
CONCLUSION OF THE LIFE OF LORD KEEPER WILLIAMS.
Bill to ex
WILLIAMS had scarcely taken his seat in the House of Lords as Metropolitan when he had to defend the right of his order to sit there. A Bill came up from the Commons to exclude the Bishops entirely from parliament, and to disqualify them from all secular employments. When it got into committee, he delivered a very long and able speech against it, which ting in parmade such an impression upon its supporters, that it was allowed to go to sleep for five months.* The King compli- Opposed mented him on this occasion, saying, "My Lord, I commend by Wil. you that you are no whit daunted with all disasters, but are zealous in defending your order."-" Please it your Majesty," replied the Arch-BISHOP, "I am a true Welshman, and they are observed never to run away till their general do first forsake them. No fear of my flinching whilst your Majesty doth countenance our cause."
But after the fatal attempt of the King to seize the five Williams members in the House of Commons, all hope of a peaceable Westminsettlement was at an end. The cry against the Bishops was ster Abbey revived, and it was greatly exasperated by Williams having, against as Dean of Westminster, gallantly defended the Abbey against a mob who wished to seize the regalia deposited there, and having put them to flight by an armed force. The Bishops were threatened with personal violence, and were prevented from entering the House of Lords.
Hereupon Williams drew up a protest, addressed to the Protest King, which was signed by himself and eleven other against vio Prelates. After dwelling upon their privileges as a con- sion of stituent part of the assembly and one of the estates of the Bishops. realm, "they humbly protest, before his Majesty and the noble House of Peers, that, saving unto themselves all their
2 Parl. Hist. 794.
CHAP. rights and interests of sitting and voting in the House at other times, they dare not sit or vote in the House of Peers until his Majesty shall further secure them from all affronts, indignities, and dangers. And whereas their fears are not built upon fantasies and conceits, but upon such grounds and objects as may well terrify men of good resolution and much constancy, they do, in all duty and humility, protest against all laws, orders, votes, resolutions, or determinations, as of themselves null and of none effect, which, in their forced and violent absence, have already passed, or which, during their forced and violent absence, shall hereafter pass, in that most honourable House."
Ten Bishops sent to the Tower.
Bill for excluding Bishops
receives royal as
This gave mortal offence to the Commons, who complained of it to the upper House, and all the twelve Prelates who signed it being arrested, ten of them, with the Archbishop of York at their head, were committed to the Tower; the other two, on account of their age and infirmities, being allowed to remain in the custody of the Serjeant at Arms.*
It was an affecting circumstance that the two Archbishops, who had so long been foes, were now both in the Tower; and it is recorded, to their honour, that, in a Christian spirit, forgetting all past injuries and animosities, they were cordially reconciled. They did not personally converse together, that they might avoid the suspicion of plots, but they often sent each other messages of love and consolation.
The Commons proceeded with articles of impeachment for high treason against the twelve Bishops, and, afterwards, by bill of attainder; but to construe into high treason a protest against the validity of the acts of the assembly of which they were members, while they were by violence prevented from being present, was too flagrantly unjust even for those times, and the proceeding was allowed to drop.†
The Bill for excluding the Bishops from sitting in parlia ment now passed the two Houses without farther opposition, and the question arose, whether it would receive the royal assent? Many, who thought they well knew Charles, be
*2 Parl. Hist. 893.
† 4 St. Tr. 63.
2 Parl. Hist. 916.
lieved that he would sooner have resigned his crown and his CHAP. life than sanction such a heavy blow and great discouragement to the Church." What was their horror when, with his free assent, the Act became the law of the land? His reluctance is said to have been overcome by the last request of his beloved Henrietta, as he was attending her embarkation for the Continent at Dover. She had little respect for Protestant Prelates; she had been persuaded that this concession would so far gratify the Commons, that they would forego their other demands; and she was always more influenced by the love of present ease than by a strict adherence to principle, or the apprehension of distant consc
Soon after this Williams, and his brethren who had been May 5. committed along with him, were liberated; and it had been Williams well for the reputation of the Parliamentary party if Laud, discharged who could no longer be formidable, had been included in the order for their discharge. These holy men, when at large, found themselves still so much under popular odium in the metropolis, that it was necessary for them all to make their escape into the country as soon as possible. While they lay in Ballads prison ballads were composed upon them, and they were made and carithe subject of caricatures, for which the English were begin- the Bining to show a genius. One print, that had a great sale, shops. represented the Archbishop of York in his lawn sleeves, and episcopal robes; a square cap on his head; and (to celebrate his defence of the Abbey and his assault on the populace) with bandoleers about his neck, a musket on his shoulder, and a rest in his hand. By these means he became as unpopular as Laud had ever been, and instead of resuming possession of the Deanery, he found it necessary to follow the King to York, where the royal standard was unfurled, and preparations were proceeding for the commencement of hostilities.
He took possession of Cawood Castle, which belonged April, to his see, but he was soon obliged to fly from it in the dead of the night. Sir John Hotham and his son, who Cawo d began the civil war, having been proclaimed traitors for refusing to admit the King into Hull, made a sally out of that