Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/698

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

forewarned of the 'king's plans, and when on the 5th he entered the House of Commons with an armed band to seize them, they had removed themselves in safety (see LENTHAL, WILLIAM). Charles's first look on entering was for his great opponent, and he was greatly disconcerted at not finding him in his usual place. To his question “Is Mr Pym hereP” there was no answer, and nothing remained but to retreat with his mission completely unachieved. .

The second act in the great national drama had thus, as the first, ended in a victory for Pym. On the Irth, with the other members, he was escorted in triumph back to Westminster, and while the other four stood uncovered, Pym returned thanks from his place to the citizens. On the 2 5th of January he delivered a great speech to the Lords on the perils attending the kingdom, and referring to their hesitation on the subject of the militia, declared that he should be sorry that history should have to relate that the House of Peers had had no part in the preservation of the state in the present extremity of danger. The Commons ordered his speech to be printed, and it provided the chief material for the paper war between Charles and the parliament which now followed. Still endeavouring to avoid a complete breach of constitutional forms, Pym caused to be added to the resolution of the Commons on the zoth of May 1642, which declared that “ the king intends to make war against the parliament, ” the words “seduced by wicked counsel.”

When war broke out, Pym remained at headquarters in control of the parliament and executive, and on the 4th of July was appointed to the committee of safety which directed the movements of the parliamentary forces. His attitude was firm but moderate. He opposed the attempt to prevent Colepepper giving the king's message to the house on the 27th of August. On the zoth of October, upon Charles refusing to accept the petition of the parliament and advancing towards London, Pym proposed the parliamentary covenant, and that those who refused it should be “ cast out of the House.” He succeeded in overcoming the opposition in the city to the heavy taxation now imposed. On the 10th of November, after Edgehill, he spoke in support of the negotiations for peace, at the same time warning the citizens that “ to have printed liberties and not to have liberty in truth and realities is but to mock the kingdom.” In February 1643 he still showed an inclination for peace, and during the negotiation of the treaty at Oxford supported the disbandment of the armies. When it was evident that peace would not be secured, he proposed in order to carry on the war an excise. hitherto unknown in England, which met with the same violent hostility afterwards aroused by Walpole's scheme. In March he published a “ Declaration and Vindication ” of his public conduct, in which he threw the whole blame of the appeal to arms on the opposite party, and expressed his fidelity to the Church and constitution. In May he entered, together with the other leaders, into result less negotiations with the queen, and on the 23rd he took up her impeachment to the Lords. In June he reported on Waller's plot, which exposed the insincerity of Charles's negotiations, and on the 26th of June wrote a “ sharp letter” to Essex on his inaction. In July, after the defeat at Adwalton Moor, he prevented the house from again initiating negotiations for peace, which he declared “ full of hazard and full of danger, ” and on the 3rd of August, after having visited Essex at Kingston, persuaded him to separate himself from the peace propositions of the Lords and to march to relieve Gloucester. He thus incurred the hatred of the peace party, and on the oth of August a mob of women surrounded the house calling for Pym's destruction, and were not dispersed without some bloodshed.

Pym had already, on the 3rd of January, proposed to the house an alliance with the Scots, and the Royalist victories now induced parliament to consent to what had before been rejected. The establishment of Presbyterianism was accepted by Pym as a disagreeable necessity, and he was one of the first to take the covenant on the 25th of September. This alliance, which was afterwards destined to have so decisive an influence on the military campaign, and was the first occasion on which the two nations had united in public action, closes Pym's great career. He was made master of the ordnance on the 8th of November, but died on the 8th of December at Derby House, where he resided. On the ISLl'1 of December he received a public funeral in Westminster Abbey, whence his body was ejected at the Restoration. A sum of £10,000 was voted by the parliament to pay Pym's debts and provide for his family. About 1614 Pym married Anne Hooke, or Hooker (d. 1620), by whom he had five children, including two sons, Alexander, who died unmarried, and Charles, who was created a baronet; this title, together with Pym's male line, became extinct in the person of Pym's grandson Charles in 1688, Brymore then passing to his sister Mary, wife of Sir Thomas Hales, Bart. Pym had little of the Puritan in his character or demeanour. His good humour, humanity and cheerfulness in all circumstances, “his pleasant countenance and sweet behaviour, ” were marked characteristics; the aspersions, however, on his morals, as well as the accusations of bribery, are completely unsubstantiated and discredited. His death came as an irreparable loss to the parliamentary cause. “ Since Pym died, ” writes Baillie (Letters, ii. 216), “ not a state head among-them; many very good and able spirits, but not any of so great and comprehensive a braine as to manage the multitude of weightie affaires as lyes on them.” He was one of the greatest leaders that the House of Commons has produced, a most capable man of business, and indefatigable in assiduous attention to its details. He possessed great tact in influencing the conduct of the house and in removing personal jealousies on critical occasions, and he excelled as a party leader in choosing and directing the course of policy, and in keeping his followers united and organized in its prosecution, as well as in stimulating and guiding popular opinion outside in its support. The frequent appeals to the nation by protestations, oaths of association and popular petitions, were a very striking feature in Pym's policy, one of the chief sources of his strength, and new in English history. We may indeed perhaps see in these and in the canvassing of constituencies conducted by Pym and Hampden the beginnings

of party government. His eloquence lay rather in the clearness of his expression and in the depth and solidity of his ideas than in the more showy arts of oratory. Much of his success as a leader was the result of the confidence inspired by his high character, his well-tried courage and resolution at critical moments, his skill and vigilance in unmasking and frustrating the designs of the opposite faction. But Pym was not only great as a party leader; he had the real instinct of construction, the true test of the statesman. This construction, he believed, in the spirit of genuine conservatism, must always be progress along the lines of natural development, and not by the methods of revolutionary or extraneous innovation. It was Pym's chief charge against Charles, Strafford and Laud that they had arrested this progress, and were thus leading the nation to ruin and dissolution. Such was the theory and conviction, inherited from Bacon and passed on to Halifax and Burke, which underlay and inspired Pym's policy.

The article on Pym by S. R. Gardiner, in the Dict. Nat. Bing. with its references to authorities, must be supplemented by the same author's Hist. of England and of the Civil War. Pym's life has also been written at length by I. Forster in Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia, Eminent British Statesmen, vol. iii., and by Wood in Ath, oxon. iii. 72, who adds a list of Pym's printed speeches. His character, drawn by Clarendon, Hist. iii. 30 and vii. 409, is inaccurate and obviously prejudiced. See also ]. Forstcr's Grand Remonstrance, Arrest of the Five Menibers, Life of Sir J. Eliot; Verney's Notes of the Long Parliament; Whitelocl<e's Memorials, (needing corroboration of other authorities); R. Baillie's Letters; Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 736; Rushworth's Collections; Thomason Tracts, E 153 (10), 63 (8), 172 (14), 164 (3), 200 (13) (26) (37) (49) (65). 199 (24) (49), 78 (13): Somers Tracts iv. 217, 355, 461, 466; Afamae and Death's Sermon, by C. Fitzgeffrey; Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. 14,827; 11,692; Lords and Commons Journals. There are a large number of references to Pym in Calendars of State Papers Dom. 1619-1643, and Colonial Series 1574-1660, and in the Hist. MSS. Comm. Series; but the supposed notebook of Pym mentioned in Reg. x. app. vi. 82, has been shown by Gardiner to be that of anot er person (Eng. Hist. Rev., Jan. 1895, p. 105). (P. C. Y.)