The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part D. - From Elizabeth to James I.
by David Hume
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By these extravagant stretches of power, and by the patient conduct of James, the church began to lose ground, even before the king's accession to the throne of England; but no sooner had that event taken place, than he made the Scottish clergy sensible that he was become the sovereign of a great kingdom, which he governed with great, authority. Though formerly he would have thought himself happy to have made a fair partition with them of the civil and ecclesiastical authority, he was now resolved to exert a supreme jurisdiction in church as well as state, and to put an end to their seditious practices. An assembly had been summoned at Aberdeen;[***] but, on account of his journey to London, he prorogued it to the year following. Some of the clergy, disavowing his ecclesiastical supremacy, met at the time first appointed, notwithstanding his prohibition. He threw them into prison. Such of them as submitted, and acknowledged their error, were pardoned. The rest were brought to their trial. They were condemned for high treason. The king gave them their lives, but banished them the kingdom. Six of them suffered this penalty.[****]

The general assembly was afterwards induced[v] to acknowledge the king's authority in summoning ecclesiastical courts, and to submit to the jurisdiction and visitation of the bishops Even their favorite sentence of excommunication was declared invalid, unless confirmed by the ordinary. The king recommended to the inferior courts the members whom they should elect to this assembly; and every thing was conducted in it with little appearance of choice and liberty.v

* Spotswood.

** Spotswood.

*** July, 1604.

**** Spotswood.

V 6th June, 1610.

v* Spotswood.

By his own prerogative, likewise, which he seems to have stretched on this occasion, the king erected a court of high commission,[*] in imitation of that which was established in England. The bishops and a few of the clergy, who had been summoned, willingly acknowledged this court; and it proceeded immediately upon business, as if its authority had been grounded on the full consent of the whole legislature.

But James reserved the final blow for the time when he should himself pay a visit to Scotland. He proposed to the parliament, which was then assembled, that they should enact, that "whatever his majesty should determine in the external government of the church, with the consent of the archbishops, bishops, and a competent number of the ministry, should have the force of law."[**] What number should be deemed competent was not determined; and their nomination was left entirely to the king: so that his ecclesiastical authority, had this bill passed, would have been established in its full extent. Some of the clergy protested. They apprehended, they said, that the purity of their church would, by means of this new authority, be polluted with all the rites and liturgy of the church of England. James, dreading clamor and opposition dropped the bill, which had already passed the lords of articles; and asserted, that the inherent prerogative of the crown contained more power than was recognized by it. Some time after, he called, at St. Andrew's, a meeting of the bishops and thirty-six of the most eminent clergy. He there declared his resolution of exerting his prerogative, and of establishing, by his own authority, the few ceremonies which he had recommended to them. They entreated him rather to summon a general assembly, and to gain their assent. An assembly was accordingly summoned to meet on the twenty-fifth of November ensuing.

* 15th Feb. 1610.

** Spotswood. Franklyn, p. 29.

Yet this assembly, which met after the king's departure from Scotland, eluded all his applications; and it was not till the subsequent year, that he was able to procure a vote for receiving his ceremonies. And through every step in this affair, in the parliament as well as in all the general assemblies, the nation betrayed the utmost reluctance to all these innovations, and nothing but James's importunity and authority had extorted a seeming consent, which was belied by the inward sentiments of all ranks of people. Even the few over whom religious prejudices were not prevalent, thought national honor sacrificed by a servile imitation of the modes worship practised in England. And every prudent man agreed in condemning the measures of the king, who, by an ill-timed zeal for insignificant ceremonies, had betrayed, though in an opposite manner, equal narrowness of mind with the persons whom he treated with such contempt. It was judged that, had not these dangerous humors been irritated by opposition; had they been allowed peaceably to evaporate; they would at last have subsided within the limits of law and civil authority; and that, as all fanatical religions naturally circumscribe to very narrow bounds the numbers and riches of the ecclesiastics, no sooner is their first fire spent, than they lose their credit over the people, and leave them under the natural and beneficent influence of their civil and moral obligations.

At the same time that James shocked, in so violent a manner, the religious principles of his Scottish subjects, he acted in opposition to those of his English. He had observed, in his progress through England, that a Judaical observance of the Sunday, chiefly by means of the Puritans, was every day gaining ground throughout the kingdom; and that the people, under color of religion, were, contrary to former practice debarred such sports, and recreations as contributed both to their health and their amusement.[*] Festivals, which, in other nations and ages, are partly dedicated to public worship, partly to mirth and society, were here totally appropriated to the offices of religion, and served to nourish those sullen and gloomy contemplations to which the people were, of themselves, so unfortunately subject. The king imagined, that it would be easy to infuse cheerfulness into this dark spirit of devotion. He issued a proclamation to allow and encourage, after divine service, all kinds of lawful games and exercises; and, by his authority, he endeavored to give sanction to a practice which his subjects regarded as the utmost instance of profaneness and impiety.[**]

* Kennet, p. 709.

** Franklyn, p. 31.

To show how rigid the English, chiefly the Puritans, were become in this particular, a bill was introduced into the house of commons, in the eighteenth of the king, for the more strict observance of the Sunday, which they affected to the Sabbath. One Shepherd opposed this bill, objected to the appellation of Sabbath as Puritanical, defended dancing by the example of David, and seems even to have justified sports on that day. For this profaneness he was expelled the house, by the suggestion of Mr. Pym the house of lords opposed so far this Puritanical spirit of the commons that they proposed that the appellation of Sabbath should be changed into that of the Lord's day.[*]

* Journ. 15th, 16th, Feb. 1620. 28th May, 1621. In Shepherd's sentence, his offence is said by the house to be great, exorbitant, unparalleled.



{1618.} At the time when Sir Waller Raleigh was first confined in the Tower, his violent and haughty temper had rendered him the most unpopular man in England; and his condemnation was chiefly owing to that public odium under which he labored. During the thirteen years' imprisonment which he suffered, the sentiments of the nation were much changed with regard to him. Men had leisure to reflect on the hardship, not to say injustice, of his sentence; they pitied his active and enterprising spirit, which languished in the rigors of confinement; they were struck with the extensive genius of the man, who, being educated amidst naval and military enterprises, had surpassed, in the pursuits of literature, even those of the most recluse and sedentary lives; and they admired his unbroken magnanimity, which, at his age, and under his circumstances, could engage him to undertake and execute so great a work as his History of the World. To increase these favorable dispositions, on which he built the hopes of recovering his liberty, he spread the report of a golden mine which he had discovered in Guiana, and which was sufficient, according to his representation, not only to enrich all the adventurers, but to afford immense treasures to the nation. The king gave little credit to these mighty promises; both because he believed that no such mine as the one described was any where in nature, and because he considered Raleigh as a man of desperate fortunes, whose business it was, by any means, to procure his freedom, and to reinstate himself in credit and authority. Thinking, however, that he had already undergone sufficient punishment, he released him from the Tower; and when his vaunts of the golden mine had induced multitudes to engage with him, the king gave them permission to try the adventure, and, at their desire, he conferred on Raleigh authority over his fellow-adventurers. Though strongly solicited, he still refused to grant him a pardon, which he deemed a natural consequence, when he was intrusted with power and command. But James declared himself still diffident of Raleigh's intentions; and he meant, he said, to reserve the former sentence, as a check upon his future behavior.

Raleigh well knew that it was far from the king's purpose to invade any of the Spanish settlements: he therefore firmly denied that Spain had planted any colonies on that part of the coast where his mine lay. When Gondomar, the ambassador of that nation, alarmed at his preparations, carried complaints to the king, Raleigh still protested the innocence of his intentions; and James assured Gondomar, that he durst not form any hostile attempt, but should pay with his head for so audacious an enterprise. The minister, however, concluding that twelve armed vessels were not fitted out without some purpose of invasion, conveyed the intelligence to the court of Madrid, who immediately gave orders for arming and fortifying all their settlements, particularly those along the coast of Guiana.

When the courage and avarice of the Spaniards and Portuguese had discovered so many new worlds, they were resolved to show themselves superior to the barbarous heathens whom they invaded, not only in arts and arms, but also in the justice of the quarrel: they applied to Alexander VI.., who then filled the papal chair; and he generously bestowed on the Spaniards the whole western, and on the Portuguese the whole eastern part of the globe. The more scrupulous Protestants, who acknowledged not the authority of the Roman pontiff, established the first discovery as the foundation of their title; and if a pirate or sea adventurer of their nation had but erected a stick or a stone on the coast, as a memorial of his taking possession, they concluded the whole continent to belong to them, and thought themselves entitled to expel or exterminate, as usurpers, the ancient possessors and inhabitants It was in this manner that Sir Walter Raleigh, about twenty-three years before, had acquired to the crown of England a claim to the continent of Guiana, a region as large as the half of Europe; and though he had immediately left the coast, yet he pretended that the English title to the whole remained certain and indefeasible. But it had happened in the mean time, that the Spaniards, not knowing, or not acknowledging, this imaginary claim, had taken possession of a part of Guiana, had formed a settlement on the River Oronooko, had built a little town called St. Thomas, and were there working some mines of small value.

To this place Raleigh directly bent his course; and, remaining himself at the mouth of the river with five of the largest ships, he sent up the rest to St. Thomas, under the command of his son, and of Captain Keymis, a person entirely devoted to him. The Spaniards, who had expected this invasion, fired on the English at their landing, were repulsed, and pursued into the town. Young Raleigh, to encourage his men, called out, "That this was the true mine, and none but fools looked for any other;" and, advancing upon the Spaniards, received a shot, of which he immediately expired. This dismayed not Keymis and the others. They carried on the attack, got possession of the town, which they afterwards reduced to ashes; and found not in it any thing of value.

Raleigh did not pretend that he had himself seen the mine which he had engaged so many people to go in quest of: it was Keymis, he said, who had formerly discovered it, and had brought him that lump of ore, which promised such immense treasures. Yet Keymis, who owned that he was within two hours' march of the place, refused, on the most absurd pretences, to take any effectual step towards finding it; and he returned immediately to Raleigh, with the melancholy news of his son's death, and the ill success of the enterprise. Sensible to reproach, and dreading punishment for his behavior, Keymis, in despair, retired into his cabin, and put an end to his own life.

The other adventurers now concluded, that they were deceived by Raleigh; that he never had known of any such mine as he pretended to go in search of; that his intention had ever been to plunder St. Thomas; and having encouraged his company by the spoils of that place, to have thence proceeded to the invasion of the other Spanish settlements; that he expected to repair his ruined fortunes by such daring enterprises; and that he trusted to the money he should acquire, for making his peace with England; or, if that view failed him, that he purposed to retire into some other country, where his riches would secure his retreat.

The small acquisitions gained by the sack of St. Thomas discouraged Raleigh's companions from entering into these views; though there were many circumstances in the treaty and late transactions between the nations, which might invite them to engage in such a piratical war against the Spaniards.

When England made peace with Spain, the example of Henry IV. was imitated, who, at the treaty of Vervins, finding a difficulty in adjusting all questions with regard to the Indian trade, had agreed to pass over that article in total silence.

The Spaniards, having all along published severe edicts against the this silence in their own favor, and considered it as a tacit acquiescence of England in the established laws of Spain. The English, on the contrary, pretended that, as they had never been excluded by any treaty from commerce with any part of the king of Spain's dominions, it was still as lawful for them to trade with his settlements in either Indies, as with his European territories. In consequence of this ambiguity, many adventurers from England sailed to the Spanish Indies, and met with severe punishment when caught; as they, on the other hand, often stole, and when superior in power, forced a trade with the inhabitants, and resisted, nay, sometimes plundered, the Spanish governors. Violences of this nature, which had been carried to a great height on both sides, it was agreed to bury in total oblivion; because of the difficulty which was found in remedying them upon any fixed principles.

But as there appeared a great difference between private adventurers in single ships, and a fleet acting under a royal commission, Raleigh's companions thought it safest to return immediately to England, and carry him along with them to answer for his conduct. It appears that he employed many artifices, first to engage them to attack the Spanish settlements, and, failing of that, to make his escape into France: but, all these proving unsuccessful, he was delivered into the king's hands, and strictly examined, as well as his fellow-adventurers, before the privy council. The council, upon inquiry, found no difficulty in pronouncing, that the former suspicions, with regard to Raleigh's intentions, had been well grounded; that he had abused the king in the representations which he had made of his projected adventure; that, contrary to his instructions, he had acted in an offensive and hostile manner against his majesty's allies; and that he had wilfully burned and destroyed a town belonging to the king of Spain. He might have been tried either by common law, for this act of violence and piracy; or by martial law, for breach of orders: but it was an established principle among lawyers,[*] that, as he lay under an actual attainder for high treason, he could not be brought to a new trial for any other crime. To satisfy, therefore the court of Spain, which raised the loudest complaints against him, the king made use of that power which he had purposely reserved in his own hands, and signed the warrant for his execution upon his former sentence.[**] [54]

* See this matter discussed in Bacon's Letters published by Dr Birch, p. 181.

** See note BBB, at the end of the volume.

Raleigh, finding his fate inevitable, collected all his courage and though he had formerly made use of many mean artifices, such as feigning madness, sickness, and a variety of diseases, in order to protract his examination, and procure his escape, he now resolved to act his part with bravery and resolution, "'Tis a sharp remedy," he said, "but a sure one for all ills," when he felt the edge of the axe by which he was to be beheaded.[*] His harangue to the people was calm and eloquent; and he endeavored to revenge himself, and to load his enemies with the public hatred, by strong asseverations of facts, which, to say the least, may be esteemed very doubtful.[**] With the utmost indifference he laid his head upon the block, and received the fatal blow; and in his death there appeared the same great, but ill-regulated mind, which, during his life, had displayed itself in all his conduct and behavior.

* Franklyn, p. 32.

** He asserted, in the most solemn manner, that he had nowise contributed to Essex's death: but the last letter in Murden's Collection contains the strongest proof of the contrary.

No measure of James's reign was attended with more public dissatisfaction than the punishment of Sir Walter Raleigh. To execute a sentence which was originally so hard, which had been so long suspended, and which seemed to have been tacitly pardoned, by conferring on him a new trust and commission, was deemed an instance of cruelty and injustice. To sacrifice to a concealed enemy of England the life of the only man in the nation who had a high reputation for valor and military experience, was regarded as meanness and indiscretion; and the intimate connections which the king was now entering into with Spain, being universally distasteful, rendered this proof of his complaisance still more invidious and unpopular.

James had entertained an opinion, which was peculiar to himself, and which had been adopted by none of his predecessors, that any alliance below that of a great king was unworthy of a prince of Wales; and he never would allow any princess, but a daughter of France or Spain, to be mentioned as a match for his son.[*] This instance of pride, which really implies meanness, as if he could receive honor from any alliance, was so well known, that Spain had founded on it the hopes of governing, in the most important transactions, this monarch, so little celebrated for politics or prudence. During the life of Henry, the king of Spain had dropped some hints of bestowing on that prince his eldest daughter, whom he afterwards disposed of in marriage to the young king of France, Lewis XIII. At that time, the views of the Spaniards were to engage James into a neutrality with regard to the succession of Cleves, which was disputed between the Protestant and Popish line;[**] but the bait did not then take; and James, in consequence of his alliance with the Dutch, and with Henry IV. of France, marched[***] four thousand men, under the command of Sir Edward Cecil, who joined these two powers, and put the marquis of Brandenburgh and the palatine of Newbourg in possession of that duchy.

Gondomar was at this time the Spanish ambassador in England; a man whose flattery was the more artful, because covered with the appearance of frankness and sincerity; whose politics were the more dangerous, because disguised under the mask of mirth and pleasantry. He now made offer of the second daughter of Spain to Prince Charles; and, that he might render the temptation irresistible to the necessitous monarch, he gave hopes of an immense fortune, which should attend the princess. The court of Spain, though determined to contract no alliance with a heretic,[****] entered into negotiations with James, which they artfully protracted; and, amidst every disappointment, they still redoubled his hopes of success.[v] The transactions in Germany, so important to the Austrian greatness, became every day a new motive for this duplicity of conduct.

* Kennet, p 703, 748

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 2.

*** 1610.

**** La Boderie, vol. ii. p. 30.

v Franklyn, p, 71.

In that great revolution of manners which happened during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, the only nations who had the honorable, though often melancholy advantage, of making an effort for their expiring privileges, were such as, together with the principles of civil liberty, were animated with a zeal for religious parties and opinions. Besides the irresistible force of standing armies, the European princes possessed this advantage, that they were descended from the ancient royal families; that they continued the same designations of magistrates, the same appearance of civil government; and restraining themselves by all the forms of legal administration, could insensibly impose the yoke on their unguarded subjects. Even the German nations, who formerly broke the Roman chains, and restored liberty to mankind, now lost their own liberty, and saw with grief the absolute authority of their princes firmly established among them. In their circumstances, nothing but a pious zeal, which disregards all motives of human prudence, could have made them entertain hopes of preserving any longer those privileges which their ancestors, through so many ages, had transmitted to them.

As the house of Austria, throughout all her extensive dominions, had ever made religion the pretence for her usurpations, she now met with resistance from a like principle; and the Catholic religion, as usual, had ranged itself on the side of monarchy; the Protestant, on that of liberty. The states of Bohemia, having taken arms against the emperor Matthias, continued their revolt against his successor, Ferdinand, and claimed the observance of all the edicts enacted in favor of the new religion, together with the restoration of their ancient laws and constitution. The neighboring principalities, Silesia, Moravia, Lusatia, Austria, even the kingdom of Hungary, took part in the quarrel; and throughout all these populous and martial provinces, the spirit of discord and civil war had universally diffused itself.[*]

{1619.} Ferdinand II., who possessed more vigor and greater abilities, though not more lenity and moderation, than are usual with the Austrian princes, strongly armed himself for the recovery of his authority; and besides employing the assistance of his subjects, who professed the ancient religion, he engaged on his side a powerful alliance of the neighboring potentates. All the Catholic princes of the empire had embraced his defence; even Saxony, the most powerful of the Protestant: Poland had declared itself in his favor;[**] and, above all, the Spanish monarch, deeming his own interest closely connected with that of the younger branch of his family, prepared powerful succors from Italy, and from the Low Countries; and he also advanced large sums for the support of Ferdinand and of the Catholic religion.

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 7, 8.

** Rushworth, vol. i p. 13,14.

The states of Bohemia, alarmed at these mighty preparations, began also to solicit foreign assistance; and, together with that support which they obtained from the evangelical union in Germany, they endeavored to establish connections with greater princes. They cast their eyes on Frederic, elector palatine. They considered that, besides commanding no despicable force of his own, he was son-in-law to the king of England, and nephew to Prince Maurice, whose authority was become almost absolute in the United Provinces. They hoped that these princes, moved by the connections of blood, as well as by the tie of their common religion, would interest themselves in all the fortunes of Frederic, and would promote his greatness. They therefore made him a tender of their crown, which they considered as elective; and the young palatine, stimulated by ambition, without consulting either James[*] or Maurice, whose opposition he foresaw, immediately accepted the offer, and marched all his forces into Bohemia, in support of his new subjects.

The news of these events no sooner reached England, than the whole kingdom was on fire to engage in the quarrel. Scarcely was the ardor greater, with which all the states of Europe, in former ages, flew to rescue the Holy Land from the dominion of infidels. The nation was as yet sincerely attached to the blood of their monarchs, and they considered their connection with the palatine, who had married a daughter of England, as very close and intimate; and when they heard of Catholics carrying on wars and persecutions against Protestants, they thought their own interest deeply concerned, and regarded their neutrality as a base desertion of the cause of God, and of his holy religion. In such a quarrel they would gladly have marched to the opposite extremity of Europe, have plunged themselves into a chaos of German politics, and have expended all the blood and treasure of the nation, by maintaining a contest with the whole house of Austria, at the very time and in the very place in which it was the most potent, and almost irresistible.

But James, besides that his temper was too little enterprising for such vast undertakings, was restrained by another motive, which had a mighty influence over him: he refused to patronize the revolt of subjects against their sovereign. From the very first, he denied to his son-in-law the title of king of Bohemia.[**]

* Franklyn, p. 49.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 12, 13.

He forbade him to be prayed for in the churches under that appellation; and though he owned, that he had nowise examined the pretensions, privileges, and constitution of the revolted states,[*] so exalted was his idea of the rights of kings, that he concluded subjects must ever be in the wrong, when they stood in opposition to those who had acquired or assumed that majestic title. Thus, even in measures founded on true politics, James intermixed so many narrow prejudices, as diminished his authority, and exposed him to the imputation of weakness and of error.

{1620.} Meanwhile affairs every where hastened to a crisis. Ferdinand levied a great force, under the command of the duke of Bavaria and the count of Bucquoy, and advanced upon his enemy in Bohemia. In the Low Countries, Spinola collected a veteran army of thirty thousand men. When Edmonds, the king's resident at Brussels, made remonstrances to the archduke Albert, he was answered, that the orders for this armament had been transmitted to Spinola from Madrid, and that he alone knew the secret destination of it. Spinola again told the minister that his orders were still sealed; but, if Edmonds would accompany him in his march to Coblentz, he would there open them, and give him full satisfaction.[**] It was more easy to see his intentions, than to prevent their success. Almost at one time it was known in England, that Frederic, being defeated in the great and decisive battle of Prague, had fled with his family into Holland, and that Spinola had invaded the Palatinate, and, meeting with no resistance, except from some princes of the union, and from one English regiment of two thousand four hundred men, commanded by the brave Sir Horace Vere,[***] had, in a little time, reduced the greater part of that principality.

* Franklyn, p. 48.

** Franklyn, p. 44. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 14.

*** Franklyn, p. 42, 43. Rushworth, vol. i p. 15. Kennet, p. 723.

High were now the murmurs and complaints against the king's neutrality and inactive disposition. The happiness and tranquillity of their own country became distasteful to the English, when they reflected on the grievances and distresses of their Protestant brethren in Germany. They considered not, that their interposition in the wars of the continent, though agreeable to religious zeal, could not, at that time, be justified by any sound maxims of politics; that, however exorbitant the Austrian greatness, the danger was still too distant to give any just alarm to England; that mighty resistance would yet be made by so many potent and warlike princes and states in Germany, ere they would yield their neck to the yoke; that France, now engaged to contract a double alliance with the Austrian family, must necessarily be soon roused from her lethargy, and oppose the progress of so hated a rival; that, in the further advance of conquests, even the interests of the two branches of that ambitious family must interfere, and beget mutual jealousy and opposition; that a land war, carried on at such a distance, would waste the blood and treasure of the English nation, without any hopes of success; that a sea war, indeed, might be both safe and successful against Spain, but would not affect the enemy in such vital parts as to make them stop their career of success in Germany, and abandon all their acquisitions; and that the prospect of recovering the Palatinate being at present desperate, the affair was reduced to this simple question, whether peace and commerce with Spain, or the uncertain hopes of plunder and of conquest in the Indies, were preferable? a question which, at the beginning of the king's reign, had already been decided, and perhaps with reason, in favor of the former advantages.

James might have defended his pacific measures by such plausible arguments; but these, though the chief, seem not to have been the sole motives which swayed him. He had entertained the notion, that, as his own justice and moderation had shone out so conspicuously throughout all these transactions, the whole house of Austria, though not awed by the power of England, would willingly, from mere respect to his virtue, submit themselves to so equitable an arbitration. He flattered himself that, after he had formed an intimate connection with the Spanish monarch, by means of his son's marriage, the restitution of the Palatinate might be procured from the motive alone of friendship and personal attachment. He perceived not, that his unactive virtue, the more it was extolled, the greater disregard was it exposed to. He was not sensible, that the Spanish match was itself attended with such difficulties, that all his art of negotiation would scarcely be able to surmount them; much less, that this match could in good policy be depended on, as the means of procuring such extraordinary advantages. His unwarlike disposition, increased by age, rivetted him still faster in his errors, and determined him to seek the restoration of his son-in-law, by remonstrances and entreaties, by arguments and embassies, rather than by blood and violence. And the same defect of courage which held him in awe of foreign nations, made him likewise afraid of shocking the prejudices of his own subjects, and kept him from openly avowing the measures which he was determined to pursue. Or, perhaps, he hoped to turn these prejudices to account; and, by their means, engage his people to furnish him with supplies, of which their excessive frugality had hitherto made them so sparing and reserved.[*]

He first tried the expedient of a benevolence, or free gift, from individuals; pretending the urgency of the case, which would not admit of leisure for any other measure: but the jealousy of liberty was now roused, and the nation regarded these pretended benevolences as real extortions, contrary to law, and dangerous to freedom, however authorized by ancient precedent. A parliament was found to be the only resource which could furnish any large supplies; and writs were accordingly issued for summoning that great council of the nation.[**] [55]

{1621.} In this parliament there appeared, at first, nothing but duty and submission on the part of the commons; and they seemed determined to sacrifice every thing, in order to maintain a good correspondence with their prince. They would allow no mention to be made of the new customs or impositions, which had been so eagerly disputed in the former parliament;[***] the imprisonment of the members of that parliament was here by some complained of; but, by the authority of the graver and more prudent part of the house, that grievance was buried in oblivion;[****] and, being informed that the king had remitted several considerable sums to the palatine, the commons, without a negative, voted him two subsidies;[v] and that too at the very beginning of the session, contrary to the maxims frequently adopted by their predecessors.

* Franklyn, p. 47. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 21

** See note CCC, at the end of the volume.

*** Journ. 5th Dec. 1621.

**** Journ. 12th, 16th Feb. 1620.

v Journ. 16th Feb. 1620.

Afterwards they proceeded, but in a very temperate manner, to the examination of grievances. They found, that patents had been granted to Sir Giles Mompesson and Sir Francis Michel, for licensing inns and alehouses; that great sums of money had been exacted, under pretext of these licenses; and that such innkeepers as presumed to continue their business without satisfying the rapacity of the patentees, had been severely punished by fine, imprisonment, and vexatious prosecutions.

The same persons had also procured a patent, which they shared with Sir Edward Villiers, brother to Buckingham, for the sole making of gold and silver thread and lace, and had obtained very extraordinary powers for preventing any rivalship in these manufactures: they were armed with authority to search for all goods which might interfere with their patent; and even to punish, at their own will and discretion, the makers, importers, and venders of such commodities. Many had grievously suffered by this exorbitant jurisdiction; and the lace which had been manufactured by the patentees was universally found to be adulterated, and to be composed more of copper than of the precious metals.

These grievances the commons represented to the king and they met with a very gracious and very cordial reception. He seemed even thankful for the information given him; and declared himself ashamed that such abuses, unknowingly to him, had crept into his administration. "I assure you," said he, "had I before heard these things complained of, I would have done the office of a just king, and out of parliament have punished them, as severely, and peradventure more, than you now intend to do."[*] A sentence was passed for the punishment of Michel and Mompesson.[**] It was executed on the former. The latter broke prison and escaped. Villiers was at that time sent purposely on a foreign employment; and his guilt, being less enormous, or less apparent, than that of the others, he was the more easily protected by the credit of his brother Buckingham.[***]

* Franklyn, p. 51. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 25.

** Franklyn, p. 52. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 27.

**** Yelverton, the attorney-general, was accused by the commons for drawing the patents for these monopolies, and for supporting them. He apologized for himself, that he was forced by Buckingham, and that he supposed it to be the king's pleasure. The lords were so offended at these articles of defence, though necessary to the attorney- general, that they fined him ten thousand pounds to the king, five thousand to the duke. The fines, however, were afterwards remitted. Franklyn, p. 55. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 31, 32, etc.

Encouraged by this success, the commons carried their scrutiny, and still with a respectful hand, into other abuses of importance. The great seal was at that time in the hands of the celebrated Bacon, created Viscount St. Albans; a man universally admired for the greatness of his genius, and beloved for the courteousness and humanity of his behavior. He was the great ornament of his age and nation; and nought was wanting to render him the ornament of human nature itself, but that strength of mind which might check his intemperate desire of preferment, that could add nothing to his dignity, and might restrain his profuse inclination to expense, that could be requisite neither for his honor nor entertainment. His want of economy, and his indulgence to servants, had involved him in necessities; and, in order to supply his prodigality, he had been tempted to take bribes, by the title of presents, and that in a very open manner, from suitors in chancery. It appears that it had been usual for former chancellors to take presents; and it is pretended that Bacon, who followed the same dangerous practice, had still, in the seat of justice, preserved the integrity of a judge, and had given just decrees against those very persons from whom he had received the wages of iniquity. Complaints rose the louder on that account, and at last reached the house of commons, who sent up an impeachment against him to the peers. The chancellor, conscious of guilt, deprecated the vengeance of his judges, and endeavored, by a general avowal, to escape the confusion of a stricter inquiry. The lords insisted on a particular confession of all his corruptions. He acknowledged twenty-eight articles; and was sentenced to pay a fine of forty thousand pounds, to be imprisoned in the Tower during the king's pleasure, to be forever incapable of any office, place, or employment, and never again to sit in parliament, or come within the verge of the court.

This dreadful sentence, dreadful to a man of nice sensibility to honor, he survived five years; and being released in a little time from the Tower, his genius, yet unbroken, supported itself amidst involved circumstances and a depressed spirit, and shone out in literary productions which have made his guilt or weaknesses be forgotten or overlooked by posterity. In consideration of his great merit, the king remitted his fine, as well as all the other parts of his sentence, conferred on him a large pension of one thousand eight hundred pounds a year, and employed every expedient to alleviate the weight of his age and misfortunes. And that great philosopher at last acknowledged with regret, that he had too long neglected the true ambition of a fine genius; and by plunging into business and affairs, which require much less capacity, but greater firmness of mind, than the pursuits of learning, had exposed himself to such grievous calamities.[*]

The commons had entertained the idea, that they were the great patrons of the people, and that the redress of all grievances must proceed from them; and to this principle they were chiefly beholden for the regard and consideration of the public. In the execution of this office, they now kept their ears open to complaints of every kind; and they carried their researches into many grievances which, though of no great importance, could not be touched on without sensibly affecting the king and his ministers. The prerogative seemed every moment to be invaded; the king's authority, in every article, was disputed; and James, who was willing to correct the abuses of his power, would not submit to have his power itself questioned and denied. After the house, therefore, had sitten near six months, and had as yet brought no considerable business to a full conclusion, the king resolved, under pretence of the advanced season, to interrupt their proceedings; and he sent them word, that he was determined, in a little time, to adjourn them till next winter. The commons made application to the lords, and desired them to join in a petition for delaying the adjournment; which was refused by the upper house. The king regarded this project of a joint petition as an attempt to force him from his measures: he thanked the peers for their refusal to concur in it; and told them, that, if it were their desire, he would delay the adjournment, but would not so far comply with the request of the lower house.[**] And thus, in these great national affairs, the same peevishness, which, in private altercations, often raises a quarrel from the smallest beginnings, produced a mutual coldness and disgust between the king and the commons.

* It is thought, that appeals from chancery to the house of peers first came into practice while Bacon held the great seal. Appeals, under the form of writs of error, had long before lain against the courts of law. Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. iii. p. 454.

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 35.

During the recess of parliament, the king used every measure to render himself popular with the nation, and to appease the rising ill humor of their representatives. He had voluntarily offered the parliament to circumscribe his own prerogative, and to abrogate, for the future, his power of granting monopolies. He now recalled all the patents of that kind and redressed every article of grievance, to the number of thirty-seven, which had ever been complained of in the house of commons.[*] But he gained not the end which he proposed. The disgust which had appeared at parting, could not so suddenly be dispelled. He had likewise been so imprudent as to commit to prison Sir Edwin Sandys,[**] without any known cause, besides his activity and vigor in discharging his duty as member of parliament. And, above all, the transactions in Germany were sufficient, when joined to the king's cautions, negotiations, and delays, to inflame that jealousy of honor and religion which prevailed throughout the nation.[***] This summer, the ban of the empire had been published against the elector palatine; and the execution of it was committed to the duke of Bavaria.[****] The Upper Palatinate was, in a little time, conquered by that prince; and measures were taking in the empire for bestowing on him the electoral dignity, of which the palatine was then despoiled. Frederic now lived with his numerous family, in poverty and distress, either in Holland, or at Sedan with his uncle the duke of Bouillon. And throughout all the new conquests, in both the Palatinates, as well as in Bohemia, Austria, and Lusatia, the progress of the Austrian arms was attended with rigors and severities, exercised against the professors of the reformed religion.

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 36. Kennet, p. 733.

** Journ. 1st December, 1621.

*** To show to what degree the nation was inflamed with regard to the Palatinate, there occurs a remarkable story this session. One Floyd, a prisoner in the Fleet, a Catholic, had dropped some expressions in private conversation, as if he were pleased with the misfortunes of the palatine and his wife. The commons were in a flame; and, pretending to be a court of judicature and of record, proceeded to condemn him to a severe punishment. The house of lords checked this encroachment; and, what was extraordinary, considering the present humor of the lower house, the latter acquiesced in the sentiments of the peers. This is almost the only pretension of the English commons in which they have not prevailed. Happily for the nation, they have been successful in almost all their other claims. See Parliamentary History, vol. v. p 428, 429, etc. Journ. 4th, 8th, 12th of May, 1621.

**** Franklyn. p. 73.

The zeal of the commons immediately moved them, upon their assembling, to take all these transactions into consideration. They framed a remonstrance, which they intended to carry to the king. They represented, that the enormous growth of the Austrian power threatened the liberties of Europe; that the progress of the Catholic religion in England bred the most melancholy apprehensions, lest it should again acquire an ascendant in the kingdom; that the indulgence of his majesty towards the professors of that religion had encouraged their insolence and temerity; that the uncontrolled conquests made by the Austrian family in Germany, raised mighty expectations in the English Papists; but above all, that the prospect of the Spanish match elevated them so far as to hope for an entire toleration, if not the final reestablishment of their religion. The commons, therefore, entreated his majesty, that he would immediately undertake the defence of the Palatinate, and maintain it by force of arms; that he would turn his sword against Spain, whose armies and treasures were the chief support of the Catholic interest in Europe that he would enter into no negotiation for the marriage of his son but with a Protestant princess; that the children of Popish recusants should be taken from their parents, and be committed to the care of Protestant teachers and schoolmasters; and that the fines and confiscations to which the Catholics were by law liable, should be levied with the utmost severity.[*]

* Franklyn, p. 58, 59. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 40, 41. Kennet, p. 787.

By this bold step, unprecedented in England for many years, and scarcely ever heard of in peaceable times, the commons attacked at once all the king's favorite maxims of government; his cautious and pacific measures, his lenity towards the Romish religion, and his attachment to the Spanish alliance, from which he promised himself such mighty advantages. But what most disgusted him was, their seeming invasion of his prerogative, and their pretending, under color of advice, to direct his conduct in such points as had ever been acknowledged to belong solely to the management and direction of the sovereign. He was at that time absent at Newmarket; but as soon as he heard of the intended remonstrance of the commons, he wrote a letter to the speaker, in which he sharply rebuked the house for openly debating matters far above their reach and capacity; and he strictly forbade them to meddle with any thing that regarded his government, or deep matters of state, and especially not to touch on his son's marriage with the daughter of Spain, nor to attack the honor of that king, or any other of his friends and confederates. In order the more to intimidate them, he mentioned the imprisonment of Sir Edwin Sandys; and though he denied that the confinement of that member had been owing to any offence committed in the house, he plainly told them, that he thought himself fully entitled to punish every misdemeanor in parliament, as well during its sitting as after its dissolution; and that he intended thenceforward to chastise any man whose insolent behavior there should minister occasion of offence.[*]

This violent letter, in which the king, though he here imitated former precedents, may be thought not to have acted altogether on the defensive, had the effect which might naturally have been expected from it: the commons were inflamed, not terrified. Secure of their own popularity, and of the bent of the nation towards a war with the Catholics abroad, and the persecution of Popery at home, they little dreaded the menaces of a prince who was unsupported by military force, and whose gentle temper would, of itself, so soon disarm his severity. In a new remonstrance, therefore, they still insisted on their former remonstrance and advice; and they maintained, though in respectful terms, that they were entitled to interpose with their counsel in all matters of government; that to possess entire freedom of speech in their debates on public business, was their ancient and undoubted right, and an inheritance transmitted to them from their ancestors; and that if any member abused this liberty, it belonged to the house alone, who were witnesses of his offence, to inflict a proper censure upon him.[**]

So vigorous an answer was nowise calculated to appease the king. It is said, when the approach of the committee who were to present it was notified to him, he ordered twelve chairs to be brought; for that there were so many kings a coming.[***]

* Franklyn, p. 60. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 43. Kennet, p. 741.

** Franklyn, p. 60. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 44. Kennet, p. 741.

*** Kennet, p. 43.

His answer was prompt and sharp. He told the house, that their remonstrance was more like a denunciation of war than an address of dutiful subjects; that their pretension to inquire into all state affairs, without exception, was such a plenipotence as none of their ancestors, even during the reign of the weakest princes, had ever pretended to; that public transactions depended on a complication of views and intelligence, with which they were entirely unacquainted; that they could not better show their wisdom, as well as duty, than by keeping within their proper sphere;[*] and that in any business which depended on his prerogative, they had no title to interpose with their advice, except when he was pleased to desire it. And he concluded with these memorable words: "And though we cannot allow of your style, in mentioning your ancient and undoubted right and inheritance, but would rather have wished that ye had said, that your privileges were derived from the grace and permission of our ancestors and us, (for the most of them grew from precedents, which shows rather a toleration than inheritance,) yet we are pleased to give you our royal assurance, that as long as you contain yourselves within the limits of your duty, we will be as careful to maintain and preserve your lawful liberties and privileges as ever any of our predecessors were, nay, as to preserve our own royal prerogative."[**]

This open pretension of the king's naturally gave great alarm to the house of commons. They saw their title to every privilege, if not plainly denied, yet considered at least as precarious. It might be fortified by abuse; and they had already abused it. They thought proper, therefore, immediately to oppose pretension to pretension. They framed a protestation, in which they repeated all their former claims for freedom of speech, and an unbounded authority to interpose with their advice and counsel. And they asserted, "That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of parliament, are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England."[***]

The king, informed of these increasing heats and jealousies in the house, hurried to town. He sent immediately for the journals of the commons; and, with his own hand, before the council, he tore out this protestation;[****] [56] and ordered his reasons to be inserted in the council-book. He was doubly displeased, he said, with the protestation of the lower house, on account of the manner of framing it, as well as of the matter which it contained.

* "Ne sutor ultra crepidam." This expression is imagined to be insolent and disobliging: but it was a Latin proverb familiarly used on all occasions.

** Franklyn, p, 62, 63, 64. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 46, 47 etc. Kennet, p. 743.

**** See note DDD, at the end of the volume.

***** Journ. 18th Dec. 1621.

It was tumultuously voted, at a late hour, and in a thin house; and it was expressed in such general and ambiguous terms,[*] as might serve for a foundation to the most enormous claims, and to the most unwarrantable usurpations upon his prerogative.[**]

The meeting of the house might have proved dangerous after so violent a breach. It was no longer possible, while men were in such a temper, to finish any business. The king, therefore, prorogued the parliament, and soon after dissolved it by proclamation; in which he also made an apology to the public for his whole conduct.

The leading members of the house, Sir Edward Coke and Sir Robert Philips, were committed to the Tower; Selden Pym, and Mallory, to other prisons. As a lighter punishment, Sir Dudley Digges, Sir Thomas Crew, Sir Nathaniel Rich, Sir James Perrot, joined in commission with others, were sent to Ireland, in order to execute some business.[***] The king at that time enjoyed, at least exercised, the prerogative of employing any man, even without his consent, in any branch of public service.

Sir John Savile, a powerful man in the house of commons, and a zealous opponent of the court, was made comptroller of the household, a privy counsellor, and soon after a baron.[****] This event is memorable, as being the first instance, perhaps, in the whole history of England, of any king's advancing a man on account of parliamentary interest, and of opposition to his measures. However irregular this practice, it will be regarded by political reasoners as one of the most early and most infallible symptoms of a regular, established liberty.

The king having thus, with so rash and indiscreet a hand, torn off that sacred veil which had hitherto covered the English constitution, and which threw an obscurity upon it so advantageous to royal prerogative, every man began to indulge himself in political reasonings and inquiries; and the same factions which commenced in parliament, were propagated throughout the nation. In vain did James, by reiterated proclamations, forbid the discoursing of state affairs.[v] Such proclamations, if they had any effect, served rather to inflame the curiosity of the public. And in every company or society, the late transactions became the subject of argument and debate.

* Franklyn, p. 65.

** Franklyn, p. 66. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 55.

*** Franklyn, p. 66. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 55.

**** Kennet, p. 749.

v Franklyn, p. 56. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 21, 36, 55. The king also, in imitation of his predecessors, gave rules to preachers.

All history, said the partisans of the court, as well as the history of England, justify the king's position with regard to the origin of popular privileges; and every reasonable man must allow, that as monarchy is the most simple form of government, it must first have occurred to rude and uninstructed mankind. The other complicated and artificial additions were the successive invention of sovereigns and legislators; or, if they were obtruded on the prince by seditious subjects, their origin must appear, on that very account, still more precarious and unfavorable. In England, the authority of the king, in all the exterior forms of government, and in the common style of law, appears totally absolute and sovereign; nor does the real spirit of the constitution, as it has ever discovered itself in practice, fall much short of these appearances. The parliament is created by his will; by his will it is dissolved. It is his will alone, though at the desire of both houses, which gives authority to laws. To all foreign nations, the majesty of the monarch seems to merit sole attention and regard. And no subject who has exposed himself to royal indignation, can hope to live with safety in the kingdom; nor can he even leave it, according to law, without the consent of his master. If a magistrate, environed with such power and splendor, should consider his authority as sacred, and regard himself as the anointed of Heaven, his pretensions may bear a very favorable construction. Or, allowing them to be merely pious frauds, we need not be surprised, that the same stratagem which was practised by Minos, Numa, and the most celebrated legislators of antiquity, should now, in these restless and inquisitive times, be employed by the king of England. Subjects are not raised above that quality, though assembled in parliament. The same humble respect and deference is still due to their prince. Though he indulges them in the privilege of laying before him their domestic grievances, with which they are supposed to be best acquainted, this warrants not their bold intrusion into every province of government. And, to all judicious examiners, it must appear, "That the lines of duty are as much transgressed by a more independent and less respectful exercise of acknowledged powers, as by the usurpation of such as are new and unusual."[*]

* Franklyn, p. 70. The pulpit was at that time much more dangerous than the press. Few people could read, and still fewer were in the practice of reading.

The lovers of liberty throughout the nation reasoned after a different manner. It is in vain, said they, that the king traces up the English government to its first origin, in order to represent the privileges of parliament as dependent and precarious: prescription, and the practice of so many ages, must, long ere this time, have given a sanction to these assemblies, even though they had been derived from an origin no more dignified than that which he assigns them. If the written records of the English nation, as asserted, represent parliaments to have arisen from the consent of monarchs, the principles of human nature, when we trace government a step higher, must show us, that monarchs themselves owe all their authority to the voluntary submission of the people. But, in fact, no age can be shown, when the English government was altogether an unmixed monarchy; and, if the privileges of the nation have, at any period, been overpowered by violent irruptions of foreign force or domestic usurpation, the generous spirit of the people has ever seized the first opportunity of reestablishing the ancient government and constitution. Though in the style of the laws, and in the usual forms of administration, royal authority may be represented as sacred and supreme, whatever is essential to the exercise of sovereign and legislative power must still be regarded as equally divine and inviolable. Or, if any distinction be made in this respect, the preference is surely due to those national councils, by whose interposition the exorbitancies of tyrannical power are restrained, and that sacred liberty is preserved, which heroic spirits, in all ages, have deemed more precious than life itself. Nor is it sufficient to say, that the mild and equitable administration of James affords little occasion, or no occasion, of complaint. How moderate soever the exercise of his prerogative, how exact soever his observance of the laws and constitution, "If he founds his authority on arbitrary and dangerous principles, it is requisite to watch him with the same care, and to oppose him with the same vigor, as if he had indulged himself in all the excesses of cruelty and tyranny."

Amidst these disputes, the wise and moderate in the nation endeavored to preserve, as much as possible, an equitable neutrality between the opposite parties; and the more they reflected on the course of public affairs, the greater difficulty they found in fixing just sentiments with regard to them. On the one hand, they regarded the very rise of parties as a happy prognostic of the establishment of liberty; nor could they ever expect to enjoy, in a mixed government, so invaluable a blessing, without suffering that inconvenience which, in such governments, has ever attended it. But when they considered, on the other hand, the necessary aims and pursuits of both parties, they were struck with apprehension of the consequences, and could discover no feasible plan of accommodation between them. From long practice, the crown was now possessed of so exorbitant a prerogative, that it was not sufficient for liberty to remain on the defensive, or endeavor to secure the little ground which was left her: it was become necessary to carry on an offensive war, and to circumscribe, within more narrow, as well as more exact bounds; the authority of the sovereign. Upon such provocation, it could not but happen, that the prince, however just and moderate, would endeavor to repress his opponents; and, as he stood upon the very brink of arbitrary power, it was to be feared that he would, hastily and unknowingly, pass those limits which were not precisely marked by the constitution. The turbulent government of England, ever fluctuating between privilege and prerogative, would afford a variety of precedents, which might be pleaded on both sides. In such delicate questions, the people must be divided: the arms of the state were still in their hands: a civil war must ensue; a civil war where no party, or both parties, would justly bear the blame and where the good and virtuous would scarcely know what vows to form; were it not that liberty, so necessary to the perfection of human society, would be sufficient to bias their affections towards the side of its defenders.



{1622.} To wrest the Palatinate from the hands of the emperor and the duke of Bavaria, must always have been regarded as a difficult task for the power of England, conducted by so unwarlike a prince as James: it was plainly impossible, while the breach subsisted between him and the commons. The king's negotiations, therefore, had they been managed with ever so great dexterity, must now carry less weight with them; and it was easy to elude all his applications. When Lord Digby, his ambassador to the emperor, had desired a cessation of hostilities, he was referred to the duke of Bavaria, who commanded the Austrian armies. The duke of Bavaria told him, that it was entirely superfluous to form any treaty for that purpose. "Hostilities are already ceased," said he, "and I doubt not but I shall be able to prevent their revival, by keeping firm possession of the Palatinate, till a final agreement shall be concluded between the contending parties."[*]

* Franklyn, p. 57. Rushworth, vol. i. p 38.

Notwithstanding this insult, James endeavored to resume with the emperor a treaty of accommodation; and he opened the negotiations at Brussels, under the mediation of Archduke Albert; and, after his death, which happened about this time, under that of the infanta: when the conferences were entered upon, it was found, that the powers of these princes to determine in the controversy were not sufficient or satisfactory. Schwartzenbourg, the imperial minister, was expected at London; and it was hoped that he would bring more ample authority: his commission referred entirely to the negotiation at Brussels. It was not difficult for the king to perceive that his applications were neglected by the emperor; but as he had no choice of any other expedient, and it seemed the interest of his son-in-law to keep alive his pretensions he was still content to follow Ferdinand through all his shifts and evasions. Nor was he entirely discouraged, even when the imperial diet at Ratisbon, by the influence, or rather authority of the emperor, though contrary to the protestation of Saxony, and of all the Protestant princes and cities, had transferred the electoral dignity from the palatine to the duke of Bavaria.

Meanwhile the efforts made by Frederic for the recovery of his dominions, were vigorous. Three armies were levied in Germany by his authority, under three commanders, Duke, Christian of Brunswick, the prince of Baden-Dourlach, and Count Mansfeldt. The two former generals were defeated by Count Tilly and the imperialists: the third, though much inferior in force to his enemies, still maintained the war; but with no equal supplies of money either from the palatine or the king of England. It was chiefly by pillage and free quarters in the Palatinate, that he subsisted his army. As the Austrians were regularly paid, they were kept in more exact discipline; and James justly became apprehensive, lest so unequal a contest, besides ravaging the palatine's hereditary dominions, would end in the total alienation of the people's affections from their ancient sovereign, by whom they were plundered, and in an attachment to their new masters, by whom they were protected.[*] He persuaded, therefore, his son-in-law to disarm, under color of duty and submission to the emperor; and, accordingly, Mansfeldt was dismissed from the palatine's service; and that famous general withdrew his army into the Low Countries, and there received a commission from the states of the United Provinces.

To show how little account was made of James's negotiations abroad, there is a pleasantry mentioned by all historians, which, for that reason, shall have place here. In a farce, acted at Brussels, a courier was introduced carrying the doleful news, that the Palatinate would soon be wrested from the house of Austria; so powerful were the succors which, from all quarters, were hastening to the relief of the despoiled elector: the king of Denmark had agreed to contribute to his assistance a hundred thousand pickled herrings, the Dutch a hundred thousand butter-boxes, and the king of England a hundred thousand ambassadors. On other occasions, he was painted with a scabbard, but without a sword, or with a sword which nobody could draw, though several were pulling at it.[**]

* Parl. Hist. vol. v. p. 484.

** Kennet, p. 749.

It was not from his negotiations with the emperor or the duke of Bavaria, that James expected any success in his project of restoring the palatine: his eyes were entirely turned towards Spain; and if he could effect his son's marriage with the infanta, he doubted not but that, after so intimate a conjunction, this other point could easily be obtained. The negotiations of that court being commonly dilatory, it was not easy for a prince of so little penetration in business, to distinguish whether the difficulties which occurred were real or affected; and he was surprised, after negotiating five years on so simple a demand, that he was not more advanced than at the beginning. A dispensation from Rome was requisite for the marriage of the infanta with a Protestant prince; and the king of Spain, having undertaken to procure that dispensation, had thereby acquired the means of retarding at pleasure, or of forwarding the marriage, and at the same time of concealing entirely his artifices from the court of England.

In order to remove all obstacles, James despatched Digby, soon after created earl of Bristol, as his ambassador to Philip IV., who had lately succeeded his father in the crown of Spain. He secretly employed Gage as his agent at Rome, and finding that the difference of religion was the principal, if not the sole difficulty, which retarded the marriage, he resolved to soften that objection as much as possible. He issued public orders for discharging all Popish recusants who were imprisoned; and it was daily apprehended that he would forbid, for the future, the execution of the penal laws enacted against them. For this step, so opposite to the rigid spirit of his subjects, he took care to apologize; and he even endeavored to ascribe it to his great zeal for the reformed religion. He had been making applications, he said, to all foreign princes, for some indulgence to the distressed Protestants; and he was still answered by objections derived from the severity of the English laws against Catholics.[*] It might indeed occur to him, that if the extremity of religious zeal were ever to abate among Christian sects, one of them must begin; and nothing would be more honorable for England, than to have led the way in sentiments so wise and moderate.

* Franklyn p. 69. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 63.

Not only the religious Puritans murmured at this tolerating measure of the king; the lovers of civil liberty were alarmed at so important an exertion of prerogative. But, among other dangerous articles of authority, the kings of England were at that time possessed of the dispensing power; at least, were at the constant practice of exercising it. Besides, though the royal prerogative in civil matters was then extensive, the princes, during some late reigns, had been accustomed to assume a still greater in ecclesiastical. And the king failed not to represent the toleration of Catholics as a measure entirely of that nature.

By James's concession in favor of the Catholics, he attained his end. The same religious motives which had hitherto rendered the court of Madrid insincere in all the steps taken with regard to the marriage, were now the chief cause of promoting it. By its means, it was there hoped the English Catholics would for the future enjoy ease and indulgence; and the infanta would be the happy instrument of procuring to the church some tranquillity, after the many severe persecutions which it had hitherto undergone. The earl of Bristol, a minister of vigilance and penetration, and who had formerly opposed all alliance with Catholics,[*] was now fully convinced of the sincerity of Spain; and he was ready to congratulate the king on the entire completion of his views and projects.[**] A daughter of Spain, whom he represents as extremely accomplished, would soon, he said, arrive in England, and bring with her an immense fortune of two millions of pieces of eight, or six hundred thousand pounds sterling; a sum four times greater than Spain had ever before given with any princess, and almost equal to all the money which the parliament, during the whole course of this reign, had hitherto granted to the king. But what was of more importance to James's honor and happiness, Bristol considered this match as an infallible prognostic of the palatine's restoration; nor would Philip, he thought, ever have bestowed his sister and so large a fortune, under the prospect of entering next day into a war with England. So exact was his intelligence, that the most secret counsels of the Spaniards, he boasts, had never escaped him;[***] and he found that they had all along considered the marriage of the infanta and the restitution of the Palatinate as measures closely connected, or altogether inseparable.[****]

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 292.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 69.

*** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 272.

**** We find, by private letters between Philip IV. and the Conde Oliarez, shown by the latter to Buckingham, that the marriage and the restitution of the Palatinate were always considered by the court of Spain as inseparable. See Franklyn, p. 71, 72. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 71, 280, 299, 300. Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 66.

However little calculated James's character to extort so vast a concession; however improper the measures which he had pursued for attaining that end; the ambassador could not withstand the plain evidence of facts, by which Philip now demonstrated his sincerity. Perhaps, too, like a wise man, he considered, that reasons of state, which are supposed solely to influence the councils of monarchs, are not always the motives which there predominate; that the milder views of gratitude, honor, friendship, generosity, are frequently able, among princes as well as private persons, to counterbalance these selfish considerations; that the justice and moderation of James had been so conspicuous in all these transactions, his reliance on Spain, his confidence in her friendship, that he had at last obtained the cordial alliance of that nation, so celebrated for honor and fidelity. Or, if politics must still be supposed the ruling motive of all public measures, the maritime power of England was so considerable, and the Spanish dominions so divided, as might well induce the council of Philip to think, that a sincere friendship with the masters of the sea could not be purchased by too great concessions.[*] And as James, during so many years, had been allured and seduced by hopes and protestations, his people enraged by delays and disappointments, it would probably occur, that there was now no medium left between the most inveterate hatred and the most intimate alliance between the nations. Not to mention that, as a new spirit began about this time to animate the councils of France, the friendship of England became every day more necessary to the greatness and security of the Spanish monarch.

All measures being, therefore, agreed on between the parties, nought was wanting but the dispensation from Rome, which might be considered as a mere formality.[**] The king, justified by success, now exulted in his pacific counsels, and boasted of his superior sagacity and penetration; when all these flattering prospects were blasted by the temerity of a man whom he had fondly exalted from a private condition, to be the bane of himself, of his family, and of his people.

* Franklyn, p. 72.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 66.

Ever since the fall of Somerset, Buckingham had governed, with an uncontrolled sway, both the court and nation; and could James's eyes have been opened, he had now full opportunity of observing how unfit his favorite was for the high station to which he was raised. Some accomplishments of a courtier he possessed: of every talent of a minister he was utterly destitute. Headlong in his passions, and incapable equally of prudence and of dissimulation; sincere from violence rather than candor; expensive from profusion more than generosity; a warm friend, a furious enemy, but without any choice or discernment in either; with these qualities he had early and quickly mounted to the highest rank; and partook at once of the insolence which attends a fortune newly acquired, and the impetuosity which belongs to persons born in high stations and unacquainted with opposition.

{1623.} Among those who had experienced the arrogance of this overgrown favorite, the prince of Wales himself had not been entirely spared; and a great coldness, if not an enmity, had, for that reason, taken place between them. Buckingham, desirous of an opportunity which might connect him with the prince, and overcome his aversion, and, at the same time envious of the great credit acquired by Bristol in the Spanish negotiation, bethought himself of an expedient by which he might at once gratify both these inclinations. He represented to Charles, that persons of his exalted station were peculiarly unfortunate in their marriage, the chief circumstance of life; and commonly received into their arms a bride unknown to them, to whom they were unknown; not endeared by sympathy, not obliged by service; wooed by treaties alone, by negotiations, by political interests: that however accomplished the infanta, she must still consider herself as a melancholy victim of state, and could not but think with aversion of that day when she was to enter the bed of a stranger; and, passing into a foreign country and a new family, bid adieu forever to her father's house and to her native land: that it was in the prince's power to soften all these rigors and lay such an obligation on her, as would attach the most indifferent temper, as would warm the coldest affections: that his journey to Madrid would be an unexpected gallantry, which would equal all the fictions of Spanish romance, and, suiting the amorous and enterprising character of that nation, must immediately introduce him to the princess under the agreeable character of a devoted lover and daring adventurer: that the negotiations with regard to the Palatinate, which had hitherto languished in the hands of ministers, would quickly he terminated by so illustrious an agent, seconded by the mediation and entreaties of the grateful infanta: that Spanish generosity, moved by that unexampled trust and confidence, would make concessions beyond what could be expected from political views and considerations: and that he would quickly return to the king with the glory of having reestablished the unhappy palatine, by the same enterprise which procured him the affections and the person of the Spanish princess.[*]

The mind of the young prince, replete with candor, was inflamed by these generous and romantic ideas suggested by Buckingham. He agreed to make application to the king for his approbation. They chose the moment of his kindest and most jovial humor; and, more by the earnestness which they expressed, than by the force of their reasons, they obtained a hasty and unguarded consent to their undertaking. And having engaged his promise to keep their purpose secret, they left him, in order to make preparations for the journey.

No sooner was the king alone, than his temper, more cautious than sanguine, suggested very different views of the matter, and represented every difficulty and danger which could occur. He reflected that however the world might pardon this sally of youth in the prince, they would never forgive himself, who, at his years, and after his experience, could intrust his only son, the heir of his crown, the prop of his age, to the discretion of foreigners, without so much as providing the frail security of a safe-conduct in his favor: that if the Spanish monarch were sincere in his professions, a few months must finish the treaty of marriage, and bring the infanta into England; if he were not sincere, the folly was still more egregious of committing the prince into his hands: that Philip, when possessed of so invaluable a pledge, might well rise in his demands, and impose harder conditions of treaty: and that the temerity of the enterprise was so apparent, that the event, how prosperous soever, could not justify it; and if disastrous, it would render himself infamous to his people, and ridiculous to all posterity.[**]

* Clarendon, vol. i. p. 11, 12.

** Clarendon, vol. i. p. 14.

Tormented with these reflections, as soon as the prince and Buckingham returned for their despatches, he informed them of all the reasons which had determined him to change his resolution; and he begged them to desist from so foolish an adventure. The prince received the disappointment with sorrowful submission and silent tears: Buckingham presumed to speak in an imperious tone, which he had ever experienced to be prevalent over his too easy master. He told the king, that nobody for the future would believe any thing he said, When he retracted so soon the promise so solemnly given; that he plainly discerned this change of resolution to proceed from another breach of his word, in communicating the matter to some rascal, who had furnished him with those pitiful reasons which he had alleged, and he doubted not but he should hereafter know who his counsellor had been; and that if he receded from what he had promised, it would be such a dis-obligation to the prince, who had now set his heart upon the journey, after his majesty's approbation, that he could never forget it, nor forgive any man who had been the cause of it[*]

* Clarendon vol. i. p. 16.

The king, with great earnestness, fortified by many oaths, made his apology, by denying that he had communicated the matter to any; and finding himself assailed, as well by the boisterous importunities of Buckingham, as by the warm entreaties of his son, whose applications had hitherto, on other occasions, been always dutiful, never earnest, he had again the weakness to assent to their purposed journey. It was agreed that Sir Francis Cottington alone, the prince's secretary, and Endymion Porter, gentleman of his bed-chamber, should accompany them; and the former being at that time in the antechamber, he was immediately called in by the king's orders.

James told Cottington, that he had always been an honest man, and therefore he was now to trust him in an affair of the highest importance, which he was not, upon his life, to disclose to any man whatever. "Cottington," added he, "here is baby Charles and Stenny," (these ridiculous appellations he usually gave to the prince and Buckingham,) "who have a great mind to go post into Spain, and fetch home the infanta: they will have but two more in their company, and have chosen you for one. What think you of the journey?" Sir Francis, who was a prudent man, and had resided some years in Spain as the king's agent, was struck with all the obvious objections to such an enterprise, and scrupled not to declare them. The king threw himself upon his bed, and cried, "I told you this before;" and fell into a new passion and new lamentations, complaining that he was undone, and should lose baby Charles.

The prince showed by his countenance, that he was extremely dissatisfied with Cottington's discourse; but Buckingham broke into an open passion against him. The king, he told him, asked him only of the journey, and of the manner of travelling; particulars of which he might be a competent judge, having gone the road so often by post; but that he, without being called to it, had the presumption to give his advice upon matters of state, and against his master, which he should repent as long as he lived. A thousand other reproaches he added, which put the poor king into a new agony in behalf of a servant, who, he foresaw, would suffer for answering him honestly. Upon which he said, with some emotion, "Nay, by God, Stenny, you are much to blame for using him so: he answered me directly to the question which I asked him, and very honestly and wisely; and yet, you know, he said no more than I told you before he was called in." However, after all this passion on both sides, James renewed his consent; and proper directions were given for the journey. Nor was he now at any loss to discover, that the whole intrigue was originally contrived by Buckingham, as well as pursued violently by his spirit and impetuosity.

These circumstances, which so well characterize the persons, seem to have been related by Cottington to Lord Clarendon, from whom they are here transcribed; and though minute, are not undeserving of a place in history.

The prince and Buckingham, with their two attendants, and Sir Richard Graham, master of horse to Buckingham, passed disguised and undiscovered through France; and they even ventured into a court ball at Paris, where Charles saw the princess Henrietta, whom he afterwards espoused, and who was at that time in the bloom of youth and beauty. In eleven days after their departure from London, they arrived at Madrid; and surprised every body by a step so unusual among great princes. The Spanish monarch immediately paid Charles a visit, expressed the utmost gratitude for the confidence reposed in him, and made warm protestations of a correspondent confidence and friendship. By the most studied civilities, he showed the respect which he bore to his royal guest. He gave him a golden key, which opened all his apartments, that the prince might; without any introduction, have access to him at all hours: he took the left hand of him on every occasion, except in the apartments assigned to Charles; for there, he said, the prince was at home: Charles was introduced into the palace with the same pomp and ceremony that attends the kings of Spain on their coronation: the council received public orders to obey him as the king himself.

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