Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/88
might enter into, and that a new oath might be framed for the observing of the said association which all might take, and such as refused it might be cast out of the house’ (D'Ewes's ‘Diary,’ Harl. MS. 164, fol. 40). The idea of a voluntary association which should strengthen the government of a party had still a firm hold on Pym's mind. On 10 Nov., after the battle of Edgehill, he appeared at Guildhall to rouse the citizens to action, pointing out to them the illusory character of Charles's promises. ‘To have granted liberties,’ he said, ‘and not to have liberties in truth and realities, is but to mock the kingdom.’ The demand of the Grand Remonstrance for ministers in whom parliament could have confidence had widened into a demand for a king in whom parliament could have confidence. In placing himself at the head of the war party, Pym gave practical expression to his disbelief that Charles could be such a king, though he did not openly declare that the breach was one impossible to be healed.
Under Pym's leadership the houses grasped the power of taxation, and on 25 Nov. Pym announced their resolution to the city. He was deaf to all doubts as to the extent of the legitimate powers of parliament. ‘The law is clear,’ he said, when it was urged that the assessors of parliamentary taxation could not legally take evidence on oath: ‘no man may take or give an oath in settled times; but now we may give power to take an oath’ (Yonge's ‘Diary,’ Addit. MS. 18777, fol. 92). He had greater difficulty in persuading parliament to widen his proposed association into a league with Scotland, and on 3 Jan. 1643 a suggestion made to that effect was rejected. It is not probable that he regarded an agreement with Scotland enthusiastically. He was zealous in the cause of protestantism as interpreted by the opponents of the Laudian system, but he was not zealous for Scottish presbyterianism, though he accepted it, just as he accepted the war itself, as a less evil than the restoration of the king's authority. If, indeed, it had been possible, Pym would gladly have returned to the region of parliamentary discussion. On 9 Feb., when the negotiations to be opened at Oxford were under discussion, he supported the plan of an immediate disbandment of both armies. On 28 March, when it had become evident that the negotiations would fail, he proposed the imposition of an excise, a financial device employed in the Netherlands, but hitherto unknown in England. On 1 May, true to his design of widening the basis of resistance, he asked that a committee might be sent to Holland to acquaint the states with the true position of affairs in England, and that another committee, with the like object, might be sent to Scotland. To leave no door for a reasonable accommodation closed, he entered at the same time on a secret negotiation with the queen, in the hope that she would influence her husband to make the concessions which he had rejected at Oxford.
Peace on these terms being beyond his reach, Pym did his best to push on the war vigorously. On 6 June he reported on Waller's plot. On the 26th, two days after Hampden's death, he conveyed to Essex the blame of the House of Commons for his dilatoriness. On 11 July, after the defeat of the two Fairfaxes at Adwalton Moor, he persuaded the house to reject Essex's request that a negotiation should be reopened; and on 2 Aug., after Waller's defeat on Roundway Down, he showed himself an able diplomatist in reconciling the claims of Essex and Waller, whose rivalries bade fair to ruin the parliamentary cause at so critical a moment. On the 3rd he induced Essex to agree with the House of Commons in rejecting the peace propositions of the lords, which would have been equivalent to an absolute surrender. Pym's activity in maintaining the war brought on him the anger of all who were eager for peace at any price; and on 9 Aug. a mob of women beset the House of Commons, crying out for the surrender of Pym and other roundheads, that they might throw them into the Thames.
The defeats of the summer impressed on the whole house the necessity of adopting Pym's policy in regard to Scotland. Nothing short of military necessity could have driven even a mutilated parliament to adopt the price of Scottish aid, the imposition on England of an alien system of ecclesiastical discipline. Pym openly acknowledged as much. When others pleaded, on 2 Sept., that modified episcopacy was the best medicine for the church, Pym replied that the church was like a sick man who saw a murderer approaching. In such a case the sick man must either ‘cast away his medicine and betake himself to his sword, or take his medicine and suffer himself to be killed.’ The former choice, ‘to prevent and remedy the present danger,’ was, in Pym's eyes, by far the best (Yonge's ‘Diary,’ Addit. MS. 18778, fol. 29). Pym's argument was accepted, and on 25 Sept. the members, Pym among them, began taking the covenant. The alliance with Scotland was Pym's last political achievement. On 8 Nov. he became master of the ordnance. He had for some time been suffering from an internal abscess, and on 8 Dec. he died (A Narrative of the Death and Disease of John Pym, by Stephen Marshall). The royalists delighted to spread the rumour that he had