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Albans, afterwards told Mr. Waller, that his father's cowardice ruined the King.”
In the Long Parliament, which, unhappily for the nation, met Nov. 3, 1640, Waller represented Agmondesham the third time; and was considered by the discontented party as a man sufficiently trusty and acrimonious to be employed in managing the prosecution of Judge Crawley, for his opinion in favour of ship-money; and his speech shews that he did not disappoint their expectations. He was probably the more ardent, as his uncle Hampden had been particularly engaged in the dispute, and, by a sentence which seems generally to be thought unconstitutional, particularly injured.
He was not however a bigot to his party, nor adopted all their opinions. When the great question whether Episcopacy ought to be abolished, was debated, he spoke against the innovation so coolly, so reasonably, and so firmly, that it is not without great injury to his name that his speech, which was as follows, has been hitherto omitted in his works:
*"There is no doubt but the sense of what this nation hath suffered from the present Bishops hath produced these complaints; and the apprehensions men have of suffering the like in time to come, make so many desire the taking away of Episcopacy: but I conceive it is possible that we may not, now, take a right measure of the minds of the people by their petitions; for, when they subscribed them, the Bishops were armed with a dangerous commission of making
* This speech has been retrieved, from a paper printed at that time, by the writers of the Parliamentary History. Dr. J.
new canons, imposing new oaths, and the like; but now we have disarmed them of that power. These petitioners lately did look upon Episcopacy as a beast armed with horns and claws; but now that we have cut and pared them (and may, if we see cause, yet reduce it into narrower bounds), it may, perhaps, be more agreeable. Howsoever, if they be still in passion, it becomes us soberly to consider the right use and antiquity thereof; and not to comply further with a general desire, than may stand with a general good.
“We have already shewed, that Episcopacy and the evils thereof are mingled like water and oil; we have also, in part, severed them; but I believe you will find, that our laws and the present government of the Church are mingled like wine and water; so inseparable, that the abrogation of, at least, a hundred of our laws is desired in these petitions. I have often heard a noble answer of the Lords, commended in this house, to a proposition of like nature, but of less consequence; they gave no other reason of their refusal but this, Nolumus mutare Leges Anglice : it was the Bishops who so answered then; and it would become the dignity and wisdom of this house to answer the people now with a Nolumus mutare.
“ I see some are moved with a number of hands against the Bishops ; which, I confess, rather inclines me to their defence; for I look upon Episcopacy as a counterscarp, or out-work; which, if it be taken by this assault of the people, and, withal, this mystery once revealed, That we must deny them nothing when they ask it thus in troops, we
may, in the next place, have as hard a task to defend our property, as we have lately had to recover it from the Prerogative. If, by multiplying hands and petitions, they prevail for an equality in things ecclesiastical, the next demand perhaps may be Lex Agraria, the like equality in things temporal.
“ The Roman story tells us, That when the people began to flock about the senate, and were more curious' to direct and know what was done, than to obey, that Commonwealth soon came to ruin : their Legem rogare grew quickly to be a Legem ferre: and after, when their legions had found that they could make a Dictator, they never suffered the senate to have a voice any more in such election.
“ If these great innovations proceed, I shall expect a flat and level in learning too, as well as in church-preferments : Honos alit artes. And though it be true, that grave and pious men do study for learning-sake, and embrace virtue for itself; yet it is ás true that youth, which is the season when learning is gotten, is not without ambition ; nor will ever take pains to excel in any thing, when there is not some hope of excelling others in reward and dignity.
“ There are two reasons chiefly alleged against our church-government.
“ First, Scripture, which, as some men think, points out another form.
“ Second, The abuses of the present superiors.
“ For Scripture, I will not dispute it in this place; but I am confident that, whenever an equal division
of lands and goods shall be desired, there will be as many places in Scripture found out, which seem to favour that, as there are now alleged against the prelacy or preferment in the Church. And, as for abuses, where you are now in the Remonstrance told what this and that poor man hath suffered by the Bishops, you may be presented with a thousand instances of poor men that have received hard measure from their landlords; and of worldly goods abused, to the injury of others, and disadvantage of the owners.
“ And therefore, Mr. Speaker, my humble motion is, That we may settle men's minds herein ; and, by a question, declare our resolution, to reform, that is, not to abolish, Episcopacy.”.
It cannot but be wished that he, who could speak in this manner, had been able to act with spirit and uniformity.
When the Commons began to set the royal authority at open defiance, Waller is said to have withdrawn from the house, and to have returned with the King's permission; and, when the King set up his standard, he sent him a thousand broad-pieces. He continued, however, to sit in the rebellious conventicle; but “ spoke,” says Clarendon, “ with great sharpness and freedom, which, now there was no danger of being outvoted, was not restrained; and therefore used as an argument against those who were gone upon pretence that they were not suffered to deliver their opinion freely in the House, which could not be believed, when all men knew what liberty Mr. Waller took, and spoke every day with
impunity against the sense and proceedings of the house."
Waller, as he continued to sit, was one of the commissioners nominated by the Parliament to treat with the King at Oxford ; and when they were presented, the King said to him, “ Though you are the last, you are not the lowest nor the least in my favour.” Whitlock, who, being another of the commissioners, was witness of this kindness, imputes it to the King's knowledge of the plot, in which Waller appeared afterwards to have been engaged against the Parliament. Fenton, with equal probability, believes that his attempt to promote the royal cause arose from his sensibility of the King's tenderness. Whitlock says nothing of his behaviour at Oxford : he was sent with several others to add pomp to the commission, but was not one of those to whom the trust of treating was imparted.
The engagement, known by the name of Waller's plot, was soon afterwards discovered. Waller had a brother-in-law, Tomkyns, who was clerk of the Queen's council, and at the same time had a very numerous acquaintance, and great influence, in the city. Waller and he, conversing with great confidence, told both their own secrets and those of their friends; and, surveying the wide extent of their conversation, imagined that they found in the majority of all ranks great disapprobation of the violence of the Commons, and unwillingness to continue the war. They knew that many favoured the King, whose fear concealed their loyalty; and many desired peace, though they durst not oppose the clamour for war ;