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The state of government standing thus, if distempered times happen to be (as our chronicles have shewed some) where, by dissension between prince and people, the kingdom's ruin hath been endangered, it doth not so much prove that the English government is not the best, as that the best government may be abused. For in every monarchy, how limited soever, the prince's person is invested with so much Majesty, that it would seem a mockery in state, if there were no considerable power intrusted into his hands; yea, so much as that, if he be bad or weak, he may endanger the ruin of the kingdom; so necessary is it for all human ordinances, how wise soever, to leave somewhat to chance, and to have always need of recourse to God, for his assisting or curing providence.
And though the kingdom of England, by vertue of the govemment thereof, will be as hardly brought into a confusion, as any in Europe; yet there is no warrant against the possibility of it.
For it was ever heretofore seen, that our parliaments were rather a strength and advantage to an honourable wise prince, than a remedy against a bad or weak one; or, if we change the expression, they were rather an excellent diet to preserve a good reign in strength, than physick to cure a bad one; and therefore have been as much loved by sound and healthy princes, as loathed by them that were out of temper: the latter having thought them a depression of their dignity: As the former have esteemed them an advantage to their strength. So that in such times only the true convenience of that great council hath been perceived by England, and admired by foreign authors: In the other times it was, that those witty complaints have been in fashion (as Sir Robert Cotton speaks of a bad time) that princes in parliaments are less than they should be, and subjects greater. But on the contrary, that they have been an advantage to Kings, the constant series of our history will shew: 1. By those great atchievements which they have inabled our wise Kings to make, who were most constant in calling them, and consenting to them. 2. That no one prince was ever yet happy without the use of them.
It may therefore seem a paradox, that any prince should disaffect that which is so high an advantage to him, and a great wonder, that some Kings of England, not vicious in their dispositions, nor very shallow in their understandings, have so much kicked against parliaments. And that such have been, before we shew what reasons may be of it, see the characters of some princes, whose success and fortunes are known to all that read the histories, as they are delivered by Polydore Virgil, who in his sixteenth book speaks thus of Henry the Third: Fuit ingenio miti, animo magis nobili quàm magno, cultor Religionis, adversus inopes liberalis. He was of a gentle nature, a mind rather noble than great, a lover of religion, and liberal to the poor.
In his eighteenth book thus of Edward the Second: Fuit illi natura bona, ingenium mite, quem primò juvenili errore actum in leviora vitia incidentem, tandem in graviora malorum consuetudines et consilia traxerunt. Non deerant illi animi vires, si repudiatis malis suasoribus illas justè exercuisset. He was of a good nature and mild disposition, who, first by the errors and rashness of youth falling into small faults,
was afterwards drawn into greater, by the society and counsels of wicked men. There was not wanting in him a strength of mind, if, avoiding evil counsel, he could have made a just use of it.
And in his twentieth book, thus of Richard the Second: Fuit in illo spiritus non vilis, quem consciorum improbitas, et insulsitas extinxit. He was of a spirit not low or base, but such as was quite destroyed by the wickedness and folly of unhappy consociates.
A reason of this accident may be, that their souls, though not vicious, have not been so large, nor their affections so publick, as their great calling hath required; but being too much mancipated to private fancies and unhappy favourites, and long flattered in those affections under the specious name of firmness in friendship (not being told that the adequate object of a prince's love should be the whole people, and that they who receive publick honour, should return a general love and care) they have too much neglected the kingdom, and grow at last afraid to look their faces in so true a glass as a parliament, and, flying the remedy, increase the disease, till it come to that unhappy height, that, rather than acknowledge any unjust action, they strive for an unjust power to give it countenance, and so by a long consequence become hardly reconcileable to a parliamentary way.
Such princes (though it may see mstrange) have been a greater affliction to this kingdom, than those who have been most wicked, and more incurable, for these reasons: 1. They have not been so conscious to themselves of great crimes; and therefore not so apt to be sensible of what they have been accidentally made to do against their people by evil counsel, whose poison themselves did not perfectly understand. And therefore they are more prone to suspect the people, as unkind to them, than themselves as faulty, and so the more hardly drawn to repent their actions, or meet heartily with a parliament. 2. The second reason is from the people, who naturally look with honour upon the prince, and when they find none, or few personal vices in him (not considering that the true virtues of princes have a larger extent than those of private men) will more hardly be brought to think, though themselves feel, and suffer for it, that he is faulty; and therefore sometimes (which would hardly be believed, if experience had not shewed it) the people have been so rash as that, to maintain for the King an unjust prerogative, which themselves understand not, they have to their own ruin, and the King's too (as it hath after proved) deserted that great council whom themselves have chosen, and by whom only they could be preserved in their just rights; until too late, for the King's happiness and their own, they have seen and repented their great folly.
Such a desertion was too sadly seen, at the end of that parliament of Edward the Second, where the two Spencers were banished, and the tragical effects that followed, when the King found so great a party, both of clergy and laity, as inabled him to call home again his banished favourites; and proved fatal to so many parliamentary lords, as the like execution of nobility had never before been seen in England; over whose graves the people afterwards wept, when it was too late, and
proceeded further in their revenge, than became the duty and allegiance of subjects.
It is, therefore, a great misfortune to England, and almost a certain calamity, when the distempers of government have been let grow so long, as that, for their cure, they must need a long parliament: For there are no ways, how just, how moderate soever, they be, which that great council can take, if they go far enough, to make the cure, but will provoke, either by the means, or the length of them, the prince's impatience, or the people's inconstancy.
For the first, the delinquents must needs be many and great, and those employed, and perchance highly favoured by him; besides, the reflexion which is made upon his judgment, by their sufferings; and that will be one reason of his impatience.
Another is, that many prerogatives which were not indeed inherent in the crown, but so thought by the prince, and by him, and his bad counsel, long abused, to the prejudice of the people, with some seeming advantage to him, though, well weighed, they brought none, are then, after a long sufferance, called in question.
For the people are used to intrust kind princes with many of their own rights and privileges, and never call for them again, till they have been extremely abused. But, at such a time to make all clear, after so long a reckoning (and those long reckonings of state being commonly fatal; for parliaments have seldom been discontinued, but by such princes whose governments, in the interim, have been very illegal) they usually question so much, as that the prince thinks himself hardly dealt withal; such a prince, as we spoke of, who not bad in himself, but long misled by wicked counsel, was not enough sensible of the injuries he had done.
The second obstacle, that such parliaments may find, is the people's inconstancy; and what age is not full of such examples, which before we name, let us consider whether there be any reason for it? This perchance may be one, that the people naturally are lovers of novelty, affecting, with greediness, every change; and again loathing it, when it ceases to be a novelty. Long discontinued and reforming parliaments seem to carry the face of a change of government; and those things may then happen, which do in the shift of princes, that some people, may, for a while, flatter themselves with new and strange hopes, that prove frustrate; or else with quicker redresses of inconvenience, than the great concurrence of so many weighty businesses can possibly admit, how industrious soever that great council be, distracted with so great a variety; and the people, after some time spent, grow weary again of what before they so long had wished to see. Besides, the people are more and more poisoned daily by the discourses of the friends, kindred, and retainers to so many great delinquents, as must needs be at such a parliament: who, though they be no considerable party, in respect of the whole commonwealth, yet ply their particular interests with more eagerness, than most do the publick. They subtly persuade the people, that whatsoever the parliament does against those great delinquents is aimed against the King's honour, and that he is wounded through their sides. And this opinion is somewhat furthered, when the
people see how many prerogatives of the prince, as we said before, are after long enjoying called in question. So that, by this means, their inconstancy seems to be grounded upon loyalty to the King, and they, perchance, with honest, but deceived hearts, grow weary of the great council of the land.
Another reason may be, that the prince himself averse from such a parliament, for the reasons aforesaid, can find power enough to retard their proceedings, and keep off the cure of state so long, till the people, tired with expectation of it, have by degrees forgot the sharpness of those diseases, which before required it.
By this means at last, accidentally a miracle hath been wrought after a long parliament, which is, that the people have taken part with the great delinquents against the parliament, for no other reason, than because those delinquents had done them more wrong, than the parliament could suddenly redress. And so the multitude of those great delinquents crimes hath turned to their own advantage.
But in such reforming parliaments, upon whom so much business lies, not only the inconstancy of the people hath been seen in history, but the unstedfastness of the representative body itself, and the distractions of that assembly, whilst they forsake each other under so great a burthen, have let that burthen fall dishonourably to the ground. The most unhappy instance, in this case, was that parliament of Richard the Second begun at Westminster, and adjourned to Shrewsbury, in the nineteenth year of his reign; a parliament that discharged their trust, the worst of any that I read of, where there was as much need of constancy and magnanimity, as ever was, to redress those great distempers, which were then grown upon the state; and as much mischief ensued by their default, both upon prince which people, and might have been well prevented, and his happiness wrought together with their own (in the judgment of best writers) if they had timely and constantly joined together, in maintaining the true rights of parliament, and resisting the illegal desires of their seduced King. But, being fatally distracted, the major part of lords and bishops wrought upon by the King, and the house of commons too far prevailed with, by Bushy the speaker, and his instruments, they utterly deserted the commonwealth, and, looking only upon the King's present desire, assented to such things, as made the prerogative a thing boundless; that he himself, as the story reports, was heard. glorying to say, that there was no free and absolute Monarch in Europe, but himself. Upon which, the same bad counsel, which had before brought him out of love with parliaments, brought him to as great an abuse of that power, which he had now gotten over a parliament. And then followed the blank charters, and other horrid extortions, besides, the suffering of some lords, whom the people most loved; and shortly after, by a sad consequence, his own ruin. Nor do we read, that any of those lords, who under colour of loyalty and love (as they called it), to his person, had trodden down the power and privilege of a parlia ment, under his feet, had afterwards so much loyalty to him, as to defend his crown and person, against the force of an usurper, who, without any resistance or contradiction, unjustly ascended the royal throne; the sad occasion of that miserable and cruel civil war, which,
in the following ages, so long afflicted the kingdom of England. This was the worst example of any parliament; but in other times, though bad too, they have proved better physick than any other earthly ways or means could be; yet their greatest vertue and excellency is seen, when they have been used as a diet, by honourable and just princes, such as this nation hath been often blessed with; and such who have thought it no more disparagement or depression of their dignity, to be ruled by the sway of that great council, than a wise guider of a ship would think it, to follow his compass; or any mathematician to be directed by his necessary rules and instruments.
MEET TO BE OBSERVED UPON ANY FOREIGN INVASION,
For those Shires that lie upon the Sea Coasts.
WITH A DIRECTION TO THE JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.
London, printed by R. C. for Michael Sparke, senior, and are to be sold at the Sign of the Blue Bible, in Green-Arbour, 1642. Quarto, containing fourteen pages.
HAT in every shire be appointed one nobleman to take the chief charge for the ordering and governing of the same, and he to appoint a leader of the horsemen, and another of the footmen, and, under them, captains and officers of all sorts; which captains may be of the better sort inhabiting the country, if their courage and skill be answerable for it.
The chief leaders, both of horsemen and footmen, must be men of that experience, discretion, temperance, and judgment, as well in ordering and disposing of great numbers, as also in taking advantages of grounds, times, occasions, and matters offered. And it were to be
wished they were such in all points, as the whole realm might be able to furnish every front shire but with two of that conduct and valour; that there might be also a meeting and drawing together of some convenient numbers, both of horsemen and footmen, to be trained and exercised into all manner of sorts and forms, as well frivolous as necessary, to the intent to make them the more perfect how to give and receive a charge. For I think, if you shall ask the opinion but of three captains, How horsemen ought to charge, and how they should receive a charge? And so likewise of footmen and their retreats, your three captains will be of two opinions at least; and yet the first thing, we offer unto the