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swear was not law, and so had lost the pleasure and delight of being kind and dutiful to the King, and instead of giving were required to pay, and by a logic that left no man any thing which he might call his own, they no more looked upon it as the case of one man, but the case of the kingdom; not as an imposition laid upon them by the King, but by the Judges; which they thought themselves bound, in conscience to the public justice, not to submit to. And here,” continued he, “ the damage and mischief cannot be expressed, which the crown and state sustained by the deserved reproach and infamy that attended the Judges, by being made use of in this and like acts of power; there being no possibility to preserve the dignity, reverence, and estimation of the laws themselves, but by the integrity and innocency of the Judges."
The imposition of ship-money,” Hume himself observes," was apparently one of the most dangerous invasions of national privileges, not only which Charles was ever guilty of, but which the most arbitrary princes in England, since any liberty had been ascertained to the people, had ventured upon. In vain were precedents of ancient writs produced : those writs, when examined, were only found to require the sea-ports, sometimes at their own charge, sometimes at the charge of the counties, to send their ships for the defence of the nation. Even the prerogative, which empowered the crown to issue such writs, was abolished, and it's exercise almost entirely discontinued from the time of Edward III.; and all the authority which remained, or was afterward exercised, was to press ships into the public service, to be paid for by the public. How wide
were these precedents from a power of arbitrarily obliging the people at their own charge to build new ships, to victual and pay them for the public; nay, to furnish money to the crown for that purpose! What security either against the farther extension of this claim, or against employing to other purposes the public money so levied ! The plea of necessity would warrant any other taxation, as well as that of ship-money; and it was difficult to conceive the kingdom in a situation, where that plea could be urged with less plausibility than at present. And if such maxims and such practices prevail, what has become of national liberty! What authority is left to the Great Charter, to the statutes, and to that very Petition of Right, which in the present reign had been so solemnly enacted by the concurrence of the whole legislature!'
Upon this subject the Commons in the Long Parliament, after considerable debate, on December 7, 1640, passed four several votes, without so much as one negative voice to one of them:
1. That the charge imposed upon the subjects for the providing and furnishing of ships, and the assessments for raising money for that purpose, commonly called · Ship-money;'
2. The extra-judicial opinions of the Judges, published in the Star-Chamber and enrolled in the courts at Westminster, upon the case as stated by the King, in the whole and every part of them;
3. The writ founded upon them, and addressed to the Boroughs, &c. in Buckinghamshire, and the other writs commonly called the · Ship-writs ;'
4. The judgement in the Exchequer in Mr. Hampden's case in the matter and substance thereof,
and in that it was conceived Mr. Hampden was any way chargeable--are all against the laws of the realm, the right of property, and the liberty of the subjects, and contrary to former resolutions in parliament, and to the Petition of Right.
These votes they transmitted to the Lords, who, agreeing nemine contradicente in the three last, ordered the Record in the Exchequer, and the several Rolls in each several court of the King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, and Star-Chamber Chancery to be produced, a Vacat to be made of them in the Upper House, and all the Rolls to be rased across with a pen, and subscribed with the clerk of the parliament's hand: all which was, accordingly, done in open court.
After this trial, he took the lead among his party in opposition to the court, and on the meeting of the Long Parliament in November 1640, in which he sate as member for Bucks, * he extended his patriptic care to Scotland, by watching all the royal motions in that kingdom. By this conduct he gave such general satisfaction, that in all the transactions between the two nations he was constantly appointed one of the Commissioners to treat with that people. He was nominated, likewise, by parliament one of the Committee to prepare the charge against the Earl of Strafford, and a manager of the evidence upon that occasion; a function, which he also discharged in the prosecution of Archbishop Laud. From the historians of those times it appears, that a plan was set on foot after the fall of these two great men, to
* He had represented that county in the parliament sumy moned the preceding April.
form a coalition of parties by conferring some of the most important offices of state upon the chief persons in opposition: in which case Hampden, both on account of his literary talents and the purity of his character, was proposed as tutor to Prince Charles. His laudable views in accepting this weighty charge, in preference to the more splendid appointments which he might have commanded, are thus conjectured by Mrs. Macaulay; " While there were any hopes," she observes, “ that the administration of the country could be corrected without the entire overthrow of the constitution, Hampden chose before other preferment the superintendency of the Prince's mind, aiming to correct the source whence the happiness or misfortunes of the empire, if the government continued monarchical, must flow. But the aversion, which the King discovered to those regulations which were necessary to secure the constitution from any future attempts of the crown, with the schemes he had entered on to punish the authors of reformation and to rescind his concessions, determined the conduct of Hampden.” The project passed off; and he was one of the five* Commoners, whom with Lord Kimbolton ,the King in 1642 imprudently accused of high-treason, and attempted in person to seize while sitting in the house.
As soon as the parliament ordered an army to be raised for the defence of the state against the hostile preparations of it's monarch, Hampden accepted the command of a regiment of foot, under the Earl of Essex their General; and he was one of the first, who opened the civil war, by an attack upon a place called
* The other four were Sir Arthur Hazlerig, Hollis, Pyne, and Strode.
Brill, about five miles from Oxford, where the King had stationed some troops in garrison. The abilities, which he had displayed in the senate, he now seemed likely to exhibit in the field : but his career of glory was speedily terminated; for to the deep grief of his party he was mortally wounded in a skirmish with Prince Rupert at Chalgrove Field,* near Thame in Oxfordshire, in 1643, falling a victim to his own incautious valour. In his eagerness to engage, he had thrown himself among the cavalry who were first ready, as a volunteer; and when the Prince faced about, though all the other officers were of opinion to halt till their main body came up, he urged them to advance, and thus precipitately rushed on his fate. The first news of his being wounded the royalists received, with loud exultation, from one of the prisoners taken in the action, who said, he was confident Colonel Hampden was hurt; for he saw him, contrary to his usual custom, ride off the field before the action was over, his head hanging down, and his hands leaning upon his horse's neck. The following day it was known, that he was shot in the shoulder with a brace of bullets, and the bone broken. For six days, he laboured under extreme
* The very place, as Clarendon after others observes, “ in which he first animated the advance of the militia, and engaged that county, where his reputation was very great, in this rebellion: so violently (it was remarked at the time) did his fate carry him to pay the mulct in the place, where he had committed the transgression about a year before !”
+ The manner of his death, however (says Chalmers) has never been accurately ascertained; some persons supposing, that he was killed by the bursting of one of his own pistols. See Noble's Memoirs of Cromwell,' II. 70., where there is a long account of his family and descendents.