Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/697

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681
PYM


discussion of grievances, Pym, as manager of the Commons, on the first of May, read them a severe lecture on the breachof privilege they had committed. Finally, on the 4th, it was resolved that Pym should next day petition the king to make terms with the Scots, to avoid which Charles summarily dissolved the parliament.

All the energies of Pym were now concentrated on obliging Charles to summon another parliament. He was the author of the petition of the twelve peers to the king for redress of grievances and for calling a new parliament, by the wide distribution of which an appeal was made to the nation, and he was the promoter of the petition signed by 10,000 citizens of London. In company with Hampden he rode through the provinces, rousing and organizing public opinion. Meanwhile Charles's attempt to implicate Pym in treasonable communications with the Scots, though there is little doubt that they existed, met with complete failure. Thus, when the king was forced to call the Long Parliament on the 3rd of November, Pym was its acknowledged author and leader. His great work was now, as he conceived it, to save the national liberties and the national religion. Clarendon (Hist. iii. 2) records some “ sharp discourse ” of Pym with himself at this time, “that they had now an opportunity to make their country happy by removing all grievances and pulling up the causes by the roots, if all men would do their duties.” He had seen Vane's notes of Strafford's speeches at the council when he had advised the subduing of “ this kingdom ” by the Irish army, and on the 7th of November, after declaring to the house the dangerous designs then on foot, Pym moved for a sub-committee to examine into Strafford's conduct in Ireland. The latter's sudden a.rrival at London on the oth with the intention of instantly impeaching the popular leaders of treason was met by Pym with corresponding quickness and resolution. On the 11th, after a debate of four hours in the Commons, by his directions with locked doors, he carried up Strafford's impeachment to the Lords, and by this great stroke rendered him at once powerless.

On the 16tl1 of December he moved the impeachment of Laud, whom he joined with Strafford as conspiring to subvert the government of the kingdom, and carried up the articles to the Lords on the 26th of February 1641. He was the chief promoter of the case against Strafford, while the attempts of the queen to gain him over were without result, and on the 28th of January 1641 he brought up to the Lords the list of charges. On the 2 3rd of March he opened the case, when he argued that to attempt to subvert the laws of the kingdom was high treason, and delivered a violent denunciation against the fallen minister, attributing to him systematic cruelty, avarice and corruption. He soon afterwards heard of the army plot, and the necessity of destroying Stratford became more apparent. He now disclosed V ane's notes. To the attainder, which was at this stage resolved upon, he was opposed (since he clung to the more judicial procedure by impeachment), but when overruled he supported it, at the same time procuring that the legal arguments should not be interrupted. He delivered his final speech on the 13th of April, a great oratorical performance, when he again appealed to the Elizabethan political faith and to that of Bacon, who had so severely censured any action which divided the king from the nation. The man who violated this union was guilty of the blackest treason. “ Shall it be treason, ” he asked. “to embase the King's coin though but a piece . . of sixpence and not to embase the spirits of his subjects; to set a stamp and character of servitude upon them?" Towards the end of his tremendous indictment of Strafford, Pym broke down, fumbled among his papers, and lost the thread of his argument. But his temporary failure did not diminish the force and effect of his words, all the more impressive because actually spoken in the presence of the sovereign. “ I believe, ” wrote Baillie (Letters, i. 348) “ the king never heard a lecture of so free language against that his idolized prerogative.” Attempts were now once more made to gain over Pym to the administration. He had two interviews with the king, but without result, and Charles again determined to resort to 681

force. On the 2nd of Mayahe endeavoured to get possession of the Tower. On the 3rd the Protestation, on Pymlsmotioh, was taken by the Commons withinclosingd doors, and afterwards circulated i11 the country, and on the 5th Pym disclosed the army plot. These incidents decided the struggle and Strafford's fate. The Lords immediately passed the attainder, together with lthe bill for making parliaments indissoluble without their own consent. Soon afterwards were swept away those institutions of Tudor growth which had become the chief instruments of oppression, the council of the North, the court of high commission, and the star chamber, while the Crown abandoned the claim to levy customs without consent of parliament. Meanwhile Pym had also .taken the lead in the religious controversy. During the dispute between the two houses on this question on the 8th and 9th of February 1641, while supporting the London petition for the abolition of the bishops, he had declared his opinion that “ it was not the intention of the House to abolish episcopacy or the Book of Common Prayer, but to reform both wherein offence was given to the people.” This, no doubt, expressed his real intentions and policy. When, however, it became clear that the bishops were merely the nominees of the king to carry out “innovations in religion” and preach arbitrary government, Pym was easily persuaded to support their abolition, and voted i11 opposition to the moderate party for the Root and Branch Bill, of May 1641, and again for taking away their votes in October. But in his “ Vindication, " published in March 1643, he especially states that his action with regard to the bishops in “no way concluded me guilty of revolt from the orthodox doctrine of the Church of England.” j .

The first act in the great political struggle had ended in the complete triumph of Pym. His chief care now was to defend the parliament from violence, since this was the only method of retaliation left ab the king's disposal. Through the medium of the countess of Carlisle, Charles's plans were regularly disclosed to Pym. In June he heard of the second army plot, and on the 22nd he carried up the ten propositions to the Lords, requesting their concurrence in effecting the disbandment of the armies and the removal of evil counsellors. After Charles's departure for Scotland, Pym served on the committee for defence, appointed on the 14th of August, and was chairman of the committee which sat during the recess from the oth of September to the zoth of October to watch the progress of affairs and communicate with Scotland. On the latter day letters arrived from Hampden, who had accompanied Charles, with news of the “ incident, ” and immediate measures were taken to guard the parliament, by bringing up the train-bands. On the goth Pym revealed his knowledge of the second army plot. On the 1st of November came news of the Ulster insurrection, which created a serious difficulty for the parliament, when it was finally declared, at Pym's instance, that if the king did not change his advisers parliament would provide for the needs of Ireland independently. On the 22nd of November Pym made a great

speech on the Grand Remonstrance, of which he was the chief promoter, when he referred to plots “ very near the king, all driven home to the court and popish party.”

Charles returned on the 25th. He immediately substituted a force commanded by Dorset for the guard already placed at Westminster, but was compelled to withdraw it, and on Pym's motion the house appointed its own watch. Everything now pointed to the advent of a frightful catastrophe. Charles appointed Lunsford to the Tower, rejected the Grand Remonstrance and the Impressment Bill, and began to assemble an armed force. In consequence Pym urged, but unsuccessfully, on the goth of December the summoning of the train-bands to guard the parliament, and moved the impeachment of the bishops, who had declared the proceedings of the parliament to be sinful and illegal. At the critical moment, however, Charles wavered. He renewed his offer to Pym of the exchequer on the first of January 1642, and this meeting with a refusal, or again drawing back himself, he determined on the impeachment of the five members on the 3rd of January. The latter had been