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exhibits not only (as Hume endeavours to prove) the strength and extent of the royal prerogative, but also unveils and shows, though at a distance, all those more popular principles which equally belonged to the constitution of England, and all those reasonings and maxims, and even parties and descriptions of patriotism, which grew up afterwards into such visible strength and form, during the reigns of her successors, James and Charles.

For instance, and to illustrate both views of the constitution—the arbitrary and the popular nature of it.

Whatever concerned the royal prerogative, was considered by Elizabeth as forbidden ground, and she included within this description, in a religious age, every thing that related to the management of religion, to her particular courts, and to the succession to the crown; she insisted in her own words, “ that no bills touching matters of state, or reformation in concerns ecclesiastical, should be exhibited."-Cobbett, p. 889.

This will give you some idea of Hume's view of the reign, and of the arbitrary nature of it; and certainly it is quite disgusting to observe the slavish submission of some of the greatest men that our country has produced to the authority and caprices of this female sovereign; the manner in which they became her knights, rather than her statesmen; and the sort of scuffle which the court exhibited, between men of the first capacities and highest qualities, for mere patronage and power, rather than for any worthier objects connected with the civil and religious liberties of their country and of mankind. But on the other hand, and in opposition to the views of Hume, it must be remarked, that from the nature of Elizabeth's pretensions and claims, such as I have just alluded to, it certainly did happen, that the members of the Commons did often offend her by their words, and were sometimes brought into direct collision with her supposed authority, by the measures they proposed; that a real struggle ensued, and that Elizabeth, with becoming wisdom generally gave way.

On the whole, all the particulars that make up the constitutional history of this reign, cannot, in a lecture like this, be even alluded to; nor is it possible that any one can acquire by any other means than the perusal of the history, that general impression which the whole conveys.

I have, therefore, no expedient left, but to endeavour to give some specimen of the whole subject, and this I will therefore now attempt to do.

I select for that purpose, the speech and the examination of Peter Wentworth (there were two of them), and the more so, because you would not, unless you read the parliamentary proceedings, sufficiently notice these singular transactions. Peter Wentworth was a Puritan; this is another reason why I should draw your attention to them. You should learn to understand the character of the Puritan as soon as possible; you must never lose sight of it while reading this particular portion of our history.

Wentworth was one of the most intrepid and able assertors of the privileges of the house, and being, as I have just said, a Puritan, he was irresistibly hurried forward, not only by a regard for the liberties of the subject, but by religious zeal.

Here, therefore, in Wentworth, we have immediately presented to us a forerunner of the Hampdens and Pyms, and in Elizabeth of Charles, the great actors that are to appear in the ensuing scenes; and there is little or no difference in the constitutional points at issue. Observe then what passed.

Elizabeth, after stopping and controlling the debates and jurisdiction of the house on different occasions, at last commissioned the speaker to declare, in consequence of a bill relating to rites and ceremonies in the church having been read three times, that it was the queen's pleasure, “ that from henceforth, no bills concerning religion should be preferred, or received into that house, unless the same should be first considered and approved of by the clergy.

Wentworth, and indeed other members, had on former occasions not been wanting to the duty which they owed their country; but this interference of the queen produced from him, some time afterwards, a speech which has not been overlooked by Hume, and is in every respect memorable. Far from acquiescing in the ideas which Elizabeth had formed of the prerogative of the prince, and of the duties and privileges of the parliament, expressions like the following are to be found in his harangue. You will observe the mixture of religious and patriotic feelings. “We are assembled to make. or abrogate, such laws as may be the chiefest surety, safe

keeping, and enrichment of this noble realm of England. I do think it expedient to open the commodities (advantages) that grow to the prince and the whole state, by free speech used in this place.”

This he proceeded to do on seven different grounds; and he concluded, “That in this house, which is termed a place of free speech, there is nothing so necessary for the preservation of the prince and state, as free speech; and without this, it is a scorn and mockery to call it a parliament house, for, in truth, it is none, but a very school of flattery and dissimulation, and so a fit place to serve the devil and his angels in, and not to glorify God and to benefit the commonwealth.” And again : “So that to avoid everlasting death, and condemnation with the high and mighty God, we ought to proceed in every cause according to the matter, and not according to the prince's mind. The king ought not to be under man, but under God and under the law, because the law maketh him a king ; let the king therefore attribute that to the law which the law attributeth to him ; that is, dominion and power: for he is not a king whom will, and not the law, doth rule, and therefore, he ought to be under the law.” And again : “We received a message, that we should not deal with matters in religion, but first to receive them from the bishops. Surely this was a doleful message: it was as much as to say, “Sirs, ye shall not deal in God's causes; no, ye shall in nowise seek to advance his glory.' We are incorporated into this place to serve God and all England, and not to be time-servers, as humour-feeders, as cancers that would pierce the bone, or as flatterers that would fain beguile all the world, and so worthy to be condemned both of God and man. God grant that we may sharply and boldly reprove God's enemies, our princes and state ; and so shall every one of us discharge our duties in this our high office, wherein he hath placed us, and show ourselves haters of evil, and cleavers to that which is good, to the setting forth of God's glory and honour, and to the preservation of our noble queen and commonwealth."

The speech is not short, and he goes on to conclude thus :“ Thus I have holden you long with my rude speech; the which, since it tendeth wholly, with pure conscience, to seek the advancement of God's glory, our honourable sovereign safety, and to the sure defence of this noble isle of England; and all by maintaining of the liberties of this honourable council, the fountain from whence all these do spring; my humble and hearty suit unto you all is, to accept my good will, and that this, that I have spoken here out of conscience and great zeal unto my prince and state, may not be buried in the pit of oblivion, and so no good come thereof."

The house, it seems, out of a reverent regard to her majesty's honour, stopped him before he had fully finished; and "he was sequestered the house for the said speech.” He was afterwards brought from the serjeant's custody to answer for his speech to a committee of the house. All that passed is

very curious.

“I do promise you all,” said this intrepid patriot,“ if God forsake me not, that I will never, during life, hold my tongue, if any message is sent wherein God is dishonoured, the prince perilled, or the liberties of the parliament impeached.” And again : “I beseech your honours, discharge your consciences herein, and utter your knowledge simply as I do; for in truth her majesty herein did abuse her nobility and subjects, and did oppose herself against them by the way of advice.”

“Surely we cannot deny it,” replied the committee; “ you speak the truth.”

This speaker of the truth was, however, like many of his predecessors, sent to prison for the "violent and wicked words yesterday pronounced by him touching the queen's majesty.”

This, it seems, was no surprise to him. In his examination before the committee, he had observed, “I do assure your honours, that twenty times and more, when I walked in my grounds revolving this speech, to prepare against this day, my own fearful conceit did say unto me, that this speech would carry me to the place whither I shall now go, and fear would have moved me to put it out. Then I weighed whether in good conscience and the duty of a faithful subject I might keep myself out of prison, and not to warn my prince from walking in a dangerous course. My conscience said unto me that I could not be a faithful subject if I did more respect to avoid my own danger than my prince's danger; herewithal I was made bold, and went forward as your honours heard ; yet when I uttered those words in the house, that there was none without fault, no, not our noble queen,

I paused, and beheld all your countenances, and saw plainly that those words did amaze you all; then fear bade me to put out the words that followed, for your countenances did assure me that not one of


would stay me of my journey; but I spake it, and I praise God for it.”

You will now observe the conduct of Elizabeth. In a month afterwards the queen was pleased to remit her displeasure, and to refer the enlargement of the party to the house ; when the Chancellor of the Exchequer rose to expatiate, first, on her majesty's good and clement nature; secondly, on her respect to the Commons; and, thirdly, their duty towards her. While he laid down that the house were not, under the pretence of liberty, to forget their duty to so gracious a queen, he failed not to add, that true it is, nothing can be well concluded in a council where there is not allowed in debating of causes brought in, deliberation, liberty, and freedom of speech ; and the whole tone of his harangue, which appears, even now, moderate and reasonable, being pronounced, as it was, by a minister of the crown, in the reign of Elizabeth, and in a set speech made for the occasion, must be considered, though the minister was more of a patriot than the rest, as indicating that the house really felt that Wentworth had been guilty rather in form than in substance, and had not offended against the spirit of the constitution, though the vigour and ability of Elizabeth's administration, and her jealousy of her prerogative, made it a task of difficulty, and even of personal danger, openly to resist her political maxims or disregard her menaces.

The few particulars that I have thus mentioned will I hope serve my purpose, that of giving you some general notion, not only of this remarkable transaction, but of the whole subject, that is so long to occupy your attention.

Eleven years afterwards the same patriot and Puritan, on a similar occasion, handed forward to the speaker a few articles by way of queries, among which we find one couched in the following words :-“Whether there be any council which can make, add to, or diminish from, the laws of this realm,

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