This parliament granted the queen a supply of a subsidy and two fifteenths. They adjourned, and met again after the execution of the queen of Scots; when there passed some remarkable incidents, which it may be proper not to omit. We shall give them in the words of Sir Simon D'Ewes, p. 410, 411, which are almost wholly transcribed from Townshend's Journal. On Monday the 27th of February, Mr. Cope, first using some speeches touching the necessity of a learned ministry and the amendment of things amiss in the ecclesiastical estate, offered to the house a bill and a book written; the bill containing a petition, that it might be enacted, that all laws now in force touching ecclesiastical government should be void: And that it might be enacted that that book of common prayer now offered, and none other, might be received into the church to be used. The book contained the form of prayer and administration of the sacraments, with divers rites and ceremonies to be used in the church; and he desired that the book might be read. Whereupon Mr. Speaker in effect used this speech: For that her majesty before this time had commanded the house not to meddle with this matter, and that her majesty had promised to take order in those causes, he doubted not but to the good satisfaction of all her people, he desired that it would please them to spare the reading of it. Notwithstanding the house desired the reading of it. Whereupon Mr. Speaker desired the clerk to read. And the court being ready to read it, Mr. Dalton made a motion against the reading of it; saying, that it was not meet to be read, and it did appoint a new form of administration of the sacraments and ceremonies of the church, to the discredit of the book of common prayer and of the whole state; and thought that this dealing would bring her majesty's indignation against the house, thus to enterprize this dealing with those things which her majesty especially had taken into her own charge and direction. Whereupon Mr. Lewkenor spake, shewing the necessity of preaching and of a learned ministry, and thought it very fit that the petition and book should be read. To this purpose spake Mr. Hurleston and Mr. Bainbrigg; and so, the time being passed, the house broke up, and neither the petition nor book read. This done, her majesty sent to Mr. Speaker, as well for this petition and book, as for that other petition and book for the like effect, that was delivered the last session of parliament, which Mr. Speaker sent to her majesty. On Tuesday the 28th of February, her majesty sent for Mr. Speaker, by occasion whereof the house did not sit. On Wednesday the first day of March, Mr. Wentworth delivered to Mr. Speaker certain articles, which contained questions touching the liberties of the house, and to some of which he was to answer, and desired they might be read. Mr. Speaker desired him to spare his motion, until her majesty's pleasure was further known touching the petition and book lately delivered into the house; but Mr. Wentworth would not be so satisfied, but required his articles might be read. Mr. Wentworth introduced his queries by lamenting, that he as well as many others were deterred from speaking, by their want of knowledge and experience in the liberties of the house; and the queries were as follow: Whether this council were not a place for any member of the same here assembled, freely and without controulment of any person or danger of laws, by bill or speech to utter any of the griefs of this commonwealth whatsoever, touching the service of God, the safety of the prince and this noble realm. Whether that great honour may be done unto God, and benefit and service unto the prince and state, without free speech in this council that may be done with it? Whether there be any council which can make, add, or diminish from the laws of the realm but only this council of parliament? Whether it be not against the orders of this council to make any secret or matter of weight, which is here in hand, known to the prince or any other, concerning the high service of God, prince, or state, without the consent of the house? Whether the speaker or any other may interrupt any member of this council in his speech used in this house tending to any of the forenamed services? Whether the speaker may rise when he will, any matter being propounded, without consent of the house or not? Whether the speaker may over-rule the house in any matter or cause there in question, or whether he is to be ruled or over-ruled in any matter or not? Whether the prince and state can continue, and stand, and be maintained, without this council of parliament, not altering the government of the state? At the end of these questions, says Sir Simon D'Ewes, I found set down this short note or memorial ensuing: By which it may be perceived, both what serjeant Puckering, the speaker, did with the said questions after he had received them, and what became also of this business, viz.
These questions Mr. Puckering pocketed up and shewed Sir Thomas Henage, who so handled the matter, that Mr. Wentworth went to the Tower, and the questions not at all moved. Mr. Buckler of Essex herein brake his faith in forsaking the matter, &c. and no more was done. After setting down, continues Sir Simon D'Ewes, the said business of Mr. Wentworth in the original journal book, there follows only this short conclusion of the day itself, viz.
This day, Mr. Speaker being sent for to the queen's majesty, the house departed. On Thursday the second of March, Mr. Cope, Mr. Lewkenor, Mr. Hurlston, and Mr. Bainbrigg were sent for to my lord chancellor and by divers of the privy council, and from thence were sent to the Tower. On Saturday, the fourth day of March, Sir John Higham made a motion to this house, for that divers good and necessary members thereof were taken from them, that it would please them to be humble petitioners to her majesty for the restitution of them again to the house. To which speeches Mr. Vice-chamberlain answered, that if the gentlemen were committed for matter within the compass of the privilege of this house, then there might be a petition; but if not, then we should give occasion to her majesty's farther displeasure: And therefore advised to stay until they heard more, which could not be long: And farther, he said touching the book and the petition, her majesty had, for diverse good causes best known to herself, thought fit to suppress the same, without any farther examination thereof; and yet thought it very unfit for her majesty to give any account of her doings.——But whatsoever Mr. Vice-chamberlain pretended, it is most probable these members were committed for intermeddling with matters touching the church, which her majesty had often inhibited, and which had caused so much disputation and so many meetings between the two houses the last parliament.
This is all we find of the matter in Sir Simon D'Ewes and Townsend; and it appears that those members, who had been committed, were detained in custody till the queen thought proper to release them. These questions of Mr. Wentworth are curious; because they contain some faint dawn of the present English constitution; though suddenly eclipsed by the arbitrary government of Elizabeth. Wentworth was indeed, by his puritanism, as well as his love of liberty (for these two characters of such unequal merit, arose and advanced together) the true forerunner of the Hambdens, the Pyms, and the Hollises, who, in the next age, with less courage, because with less danger, rendered their principles so triumphant. I shall only ask, whether it be not sufficiently clear from all these transactions, that in the two succeeding reigns it was the people who encroached upon the sovereign; not the sovereign, who attempted, as is pretended, to usurp upon the people?