The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part D. - From Elizabeth to James I.
by David Hume
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Olivarez too, though a grandee of Spain, who has the right of being covered before his own king, would not put on his hat in the prince's presence:[*] all the prisons of Spain were thrown open, and all the prisoners received their freedom, as if the event the most honorable and most fortunate had happened to the monarchy:[**] and every sumptuary law with regard to apparel was suspended during Charles's residence in Spain. The infanta, however, was only shown to her lover in public; the Spanish ideas of decency being so strict, as not to allow of any further intercourse, till the arrival of the dispensation.[***]

The point of honor was carried so far by that generous people, that no attempt was made, on account of the advantage which they had acquired, of imposing any harder conditions of treaty: their pious zeal only prompted them, on one occasion, to desire more concessions in the religious articles; but, upon the opposition of Bristol, accompanied with some reproaches, they immediately desisted. The pope, however, hearing of the prince's arrival in Madrid, tacked some new clauses to the dispensation;[****] and it became necessary to transmit the articles to London, that the king might ratify them. This treaty, which was made public, consisted of several articles, chiefly regarding the exercise of the Catholic religion by the infanta and her household. Nothing could reasonably be found fault with, except one article, in which the king promised, that the children should be educated by the princess, till ten years of age. This condition could not be insisted on, but with a view of seasoning their minds with Catholic principles; and though so tender an age seemed a sufficient security against theological prejudices, yet the same reason which made the pope insert that article, should have induced the king to reject it.

Besides the public treaty, there were separate articles, privately sworn to by the king; in which he promised to suspend the penal laws enacted against Catholics, to procure a repeal of them in parliament, and to grant a toleration for the exercise of the Catholic religion in private houses.[v]

* Franklyn, p. 73.

** Franklyn, p. 74.

*** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 77.

**** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 84.

v Franklyn, p. 80. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 89. Kennet, p. 769.

Great murmurs, we may believe, would have arisen against these articles, had they been made known to the public; since we find it to have been imputed as an enormous crime to the prince that, having received, about this time, a very civil letter from the pope, he was induced to return a very civil answer.[*]

Meanwhile Gregory XV., who granted the dispensation, died; and Urban VIII. was chosen in his place. Upon this event, the nuncio refused to deliver the dispensation, till it should be renewed by Urban; and that crafty pontiff delayed sending a new dispensation, in hopes that, during the prince's residence in Spain, some expedient might be fallen upon to effect his conversion. The king of England, as well as the prince, became impatient. On the first hint, Charles obtained permission to return; and Philip graced his departure with all the circumstances of elaborate civility and respect which had attended his reception. He even erected a pillar on the spot where they took leave of each other, as a monument of mutual friendship; and the prince, having sworn to the observance of all the articles, entered on his journey, and embarked on board the English fleet at St. Andero.

The character of Charles, composed of decency, reserve, modesty, sobriety, virtues so agreeable to the manners of the Spaniards; the unparalleled confidence which he had reposed in their nation; the romantic gallantry which he had practised towards the princess; all these circumstances, joined to his youth and advantageous figure, had endeared him to the whole court of Madrid, and had impressed the most favorable ideas of him.[**] But, in the same proportion that the prince was beloved and esteemed, was Buckingham despised and hated. His behavior, composed of English familiarity and French vivacity; his sallies of passion, his indecent freedoms with the prince, his dissolute pleasures, his arrogant, impetuous temper, which he neither could nor cared to disguise; qualities like these could, most of them, be esteemed nowhere, but to the Spaniards were the objects of peculiar aversion.[***] They could not conceal their surprise, that such a youth could intrude into a negotiation, now conducted to a period by so accomplished a minister as Bristol, and could assume to himself all the merit of it. They lamented the infanta's fate, who must be approached by a man whose temerity seemed to respect no laws, divine or human.[****]

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 82. Franklyn, p. 77.

** Franklyn, p. 80. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 103.

*** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 101.

**** Clarendon, vol. i. p. 36.

And when they observed, that he had the imprudence to insult the Conde duke of Olivarez, their prime minister, every one who was ambitious of paying court to the Spanish became desirous of showing a contempt for the English favorite.

The duke of Buckingham told Olivarez, that his own attachment to the Spanish nation and to the king of Spain was extreme; that he would contribute to every measure which could cement the friendship between England and them; and that his peculiar ambition would be to facilitate the prince's marriage with the infanta. But he added, with a sincerity equally insolent and indiscreet, "With regard to you, sir, in particular, you must not consider me as your friend, but must ever expect from me all possible enmity and opposition." The Conde duke replied, with a becoming dignity, that he very willingly accepted of what was proffered him: and on these terms the favorites parted.[*]

Buckingham, sensible how odious he was become to the Spaniards, and dreading the influence which that nation would naturally acquire after the arrival of the infanta, resolved to employ all his credit in order to prevent the marriage, By what arguments he could engage the prince to offer such an insult to the Spanish nation, from whom he had met with such generous treatment; by what colors he could disguise the ingratitude and imprudence of such a measure; these are totally unknown to us. We may only conjecture, that the many unavoidable causes of delay which had so long prevented the arrival of the dispensation, had afforded to Buckingham a pretence for throwing on the Spaniards the imputation of insincerity in the whole treaty. It also appears, that his impetuous and domineering character had acquired, what it ever after maintained, a total ascendant over the gentle and modest temper of Charles; and, when the prince left Madrid, he was firmly determined, notwithstanding all his professions, to break off the treaty with Spain.

It is not likely that Buckingham prevailed so easily with James to abandon a project which, during so many years, had been the object of all his wishes, and which he had now unexpectedly conducted to a happy period.[**]

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 103. Clarendon, vol. i. p. 37.

** Hacket's Life of Williams.

A rupture with Spain, the loss of two millions, were prospects little agreeable to this pacific and indigent monarch. But, finding his only son bent against a match which had always been opposed by his people and his parliament, he yielded to difficulties which he had not courage or strength of mind sufficient to overcome. The prince, therefore, and Buckingham, on their arrival at London, assumed entirely the direction of the negotiation; and it was their business to seek for pretences by which they could give a color to their intended breach of treaty.

Though the restitution of the Palatinate had ever been considered by James as a natural or necessary consequence of the Spanish alliance, he had always forbidden his ministers to insist on it as a preliminary article to the conclusion of the marriage treaty. He considered, that this principality was now in the hands of the emperor and the duke of Bavaria and that it was no longer in the king of Spain's power, by a single stroke of his pen, to restore it to its ancient master. The strict alliance of Spain with these princes would engage Philip, he thought, to soften so disagreeable a demand by every art of negotiation; and many articles must of necessity be adjusted, before such an important point could be effected. It was sufficient, in James's opinion, if the sincerity of the Spanish court could, for the present, be ascertained; and, dreading further delays of the marriage, so long wished for, he was resolved to trust the palatine's full restoration to the event of future counsels and deliberations.[*]

This whole system of negotiation Buckingham now reversed; and he overturned every supposition upon which the treaty had hitherto been conducted. After many fruitless artifices were employed to delay or prevent the espousals, Bristol received positive orders not to deliver the proxy, which had been left in his hands, or to finish the marriage, till security were given for the full restitution of the Palatinate.[**]

* Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 57.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 105. Rennet, p. 776.

Philip understood this language. He had been acquainted with the disgust received by Buckingham; and deeming him a man capable of sacrificing to his own ungovernable passions the greatest interests of his master and of his country, his had expected, that the unbounded credit of that favorite would be employed to embroil the two nations. Determined, however to throw the blame of the rupture entirely on the English, he delivered into Bristol's hand a written promise, by which he bound himself to procure the restoration of the Palatinate either by persuasion, or by every other possible means; and when he found that this concession gave no satisfaction, he ordered the infanta to lay aside the title of princess of Wales which she bore after the arrival of the dispensation from Rome, and to drop the study of the English language.[*] Any thinking that such rash counsels as now governed the court of England, would not stop at the breach of the marriage treaty, he ordered preparations for war immediately to be made throughout all his dominions.[**]

Thus James, having, by means inexplicable from the ordinary rules of politics, conducted, so near an honorable period, the marriage of his son and the restoration of his son-in-law, failed at last of his purpose, by means equally unaccountable.

But though the expedients already used by Buckingham were sufficiently inglorious, both for himself and for the nation, it was necessary for him, ere he could fully effect his purpose, to employ artifices still more dishonorable.

{1624.} The king, having broken with Spain, was obliged to concert new measures; and, without the assistance of parliament, no effectual step of any kind could be taken. The benevolence which, during the interval, had been rigorously exacted for recovering the Palatinate, though levied for no popular an end, had procured to the king less money than ill will from his subjects.[***] Whatever discouragements, therefore, he might receive from his ill agreement with former parliaments, there was a necessity of summoning once more this assembly: and it might be hoped, that the Spanish alliance which gave such umbrage, being abandoned, the commons would now be better satisfied with the king's administration. In his speech to the houses, James dropped some hints of his cause of complaint against Spain; and he graciously condescended to ask the advice of parliament, which he had ever before rejected, with regard to the conduct of so important so affair as his son's marriage.[****]

* Franklyn, p. 80. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 112.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 114.

*** To show by what violent measures benevolences were usually raised, Johnstone tells us, in his Rerum Britanniearum Historia, that Barnes, a citizen of London, was the first who refused to contribute any thing upon which the treasurer sent him word, that he must immediately prepare himself to carry by post a despatch into Ireland, The citizen was glad to make his peace by paying a hundred pounds. And no one durst afterwards refuse the benevolence required. See further, Coke, p. 80.

**** Franklyn, p. 79. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 115. Kennet, p. 778.

Buckingham delivered to a committee of lords and commons a long narrative, which he pretended to be true and complete, of every step taken in the negotiations with Philip: but, partly by the suppression of some facts, partly by the false coloring laid on others, this narrative was calculated entirely to mislead the parliament, and to throw on the court of Spain the reproach of artifice and insincerity. He said, that, after many years' negotiation, the king found not himself any nearer his purpose; and that Bristol had never brought the treaty beyond general professions and declarations; that the prince, doubting the good intentions of Spain, resolved at last to take a journey to Madrid, and put the matter to the utmost trial; that he there found such artificial dealing as made him conclude all the steps taken towards the marriage to be false and deceitful: that the restitution of the Palatinate, which had ever been regarded by the king as an essential preliminary, was not seriously intended by Spain; and that, after enduring much bad usage, the prince was obliged to return to England, without any hopes, either of obtaining the infanta, or of restoring the elector palatine.[*]

This narrative, which, considering the importance of the occasion, and the solemnity of that assembly to which it was delivered, deserves great blame, was yet vouched for truth by the prince of Wales, who was present; and the king himself lent it, indirectly, his authority, by telling the parliament, that it was by his orders Buckingham laid the whole affair before them. The conduct of these princes it is difficult fully to excuse. It is in vain to plead the youth and inexperience of Charles; unless his inexperience and youth, as is probable,[**] [57] if not certain, really led him into error, and made him swallow all the falsities of Buckingham. And though the king was here hurried from his own measures by the impetuosity of others, nothing should have induced him to prostitute his character, and seem to vouch the impostures, at least false colorings, of his favorite, of which he had so good reason to entertain a suspicion.[***]

* Franklyn, p.89, 90, 91, etc. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 119, 120, etc. Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 20, 21, etc.

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

*** It must, however, be confessed, that the king afterwards warned the house not to take Buckingham's narrative for his, though it was said before them by his order. Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 104. James was probably ashamed to have been carried so far by his favorite.

Buckingham's narrative, however artfully disguised, contained so many contradictory circumstances, as were sufficient to open the eyes of all reasonable men; but it concurred so well with the passions and prejudices of the parliament, that no scruple was made of immediately adopting it.[*] Charmed with having obtained at length the opportunity, so long wished for, of going to war with Papists, they little thought of future consequences; but immediately advised the king to break off both treaties with Spain, as well that which regarded the marriage, as that for the restitution of the Palatinate.[**] The people, ever greedy of war till they suffer by it, displayed their triumph at these violent measures by public bonfires and rejoicings, and by insults on the Spanish ministers. Buckingham was now the favorite of the public and of the parliament. Sir Edward Coke, in the house of commons, called him the savior of the nation.[***] Every place resounded with his praises. And he himself, intoxicated by a popularity which he enjoyed so little time, and which he so ill deserved, violated all duty to his indulgent master, and entered into cabals with the Puritanical members, who had ever opposed the royal authority. He even encouraged schemes for abolishing the order of bishops, and selling the dean and chapter lands, in order to defray the expenses of a Spanish war. And the king, though he still entertained projects for temporizing, and for forming an accommodation with Spain, was so borne down by the torrent of popular prejudices, conducted and increased by Buckingham, that he was at last obliged, in a speech to parliament, to declare in favor of hostile measures, if they would engage to support him.[****] Doubts of their sincerity in this respect, doubts which the event showed not to be ill grounded, had probably been one cause of his former pacific and dilatory measures.

* Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 75.

** Franklyn, p. 98. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 128. Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 103.

*** Clarendon, vol. i. p. 6.

**** Franklyn, p. 94, 95. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 129, 130.

In his speech on this occasion, the king began with lamenting his own unhappiness, that, having so long valued himself on the epithet of the pacific monarch, he should now, in his old age, be obliged to exchange the blessings of peace for the inevitable calamities of war. He represented to them the immense and continued expense requisite for military armaments; and, besides supplies from time to time, as they should become necessary, he demanded a vote of six subsidies and twelve fifteenths, as a proper stock before the commencement of hostilities. He told them of his intolerable debts, chiefly contracted by the sums remitted to the palatine;[*] [58] but he added, that he did not insist on any supply for his own relief, and that it was sufficient for him if the honor and security of the public were provided for. To remove all suspicion, he, who had ever strenuously maintained his prerogative, and who had even extended it into some points esteemed doubtful, now made an imprudent concession, of which the consequences might have proved fatal to royal authority; he voluntarily offered, that the money voted should be paid to a committee of parliament, and should be issued by them, without being intrusted to his management.[**] The commons willingly accepted of this concession, so unusual in an English monarch: they voted him only three subsidies and three fifteenths:[***] and they took no notice of the complaints which he made of his own wants and necessities.

Advantage was also taken of the present good agreement between the king and parliament, in order to pass the bill against monopolies, which had formerly been encouraged by the king, but which had failed by the rupture between him and the last house of commons. This bill was conceived in such terms as to render it merely declaratory; and all monopolies were condemned, as contrary to law and to the known liberties of the people. It was there supposed, that every subject of England had entire power to dispose of his own actions, provided he did no injury to any of his fellow subjects; and that no prerogative of the king, no power of any magistrate, nothing but the authority alone of laws, could restrain that unlimited freedom. The full prosecution of this noble principle into all its natural consequences, has at last, through many contests, produced that singular and happy government which we enjoy at present.[****] [59]

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

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 137.

*** Less than three hundred thousand pounds.

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

The house of commons also corroborated, by a new precedent, the important power of impeachment, which, two years before, they had exercised in the case of Chancellor Bacon, and which had lain dormant for near two centuries, except when they served as instruments of royal vengeance. The earl of Middlesex had been raised, by Buckingham's interest, from the rank of a London merchant, to be treasurer of England; and, by his activity and address, seemed not unworthy of that preferment. But, as he incurred the displeasure of his patron, by scrupling or refusing some demands of money during the prince's residence in Spain, that favorite vowed revenge, and employed all his credit among the commons to procure an impeachment of the treasurer. The king was extremely dissatisfied with this measure, and prophesied to the prince and duke, that they would live to have their fill of parliamentary prosecutions.[*] In a speech to the parliament, he endeavored to apologize for Middlesex, and to soften the accusation against him.[**] The charge, however, was still maintained by the commons; and the treasurer was found guilty by the peers, though the misdemeanors proved against him were neither numerous nor important. The accepting of two presents of five hundred pounds apiece, for passing two patents, was the article of greatest weight. His sentence was, to be fined fifty thousand pounds for the king's-use, and to suffer all the other penalties formerly inflicted upon Bacon. The fine was afterwards remitted by the prince, when he mounted the throne.

This session, an address was also made, very disagreeable to the king, craving the severe execution of the laws against Catholics. His answer was gracious and condescending;[***] though he declared against persecution, as being an improper measure for the suppression of any religion, according to the received maxim, "That the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church." He also condemned an entire indulgence of the Catholics; and seemed to represent a middle course as the most humane and most politic. He went so far as even to affirm with an oath, that he never had entertained any thoughts of granting a toleration to these religionists.[****] The liberty of exercising their worship in private houses, which he had secretly agreed to in the Spanish treaty, did not appear to him deserving that name; and it was probably by means of this explication, he thought that he had saved his honor. And as Buckingham, in his narrative,[v] confessed that the king had agreed to a temporary suspension of the penal laws against the Catholics, which he distinguished from a toleration, (a term at that time extremely odious,) James naturally deemed his meaning to be sufficiently explained, and feared not any reproach of falsehood or duplicity, on account of this asseveration.

* Clarendon, vol. i. p. 23.

** Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 19.

*** Franklyn, p. 101, 102.

**** See, further, Franklyn, p. 87.

v Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 37.

After all these transactions, the parliament was prorogued by the king, who let fall some hints, though in gentle terms, of the sense which he entertained of their unkindness in not supplying his necessities.[*]

* Franklyn, p. 103.

James, unable to resist so strong a combination as that of his people, his parliament, his son, and his favorite, had been compelled to embrace measures for which, from temper as well as judgment, he had ever entertained a most settled aversion. Though he dissembled his resentment, he began to estrange himself from Buckingham, to whom he ascribed all those violent counsels, and whom he considered as the author, both of the prince's journey to Spain, and of the breach of the marriage treaty. The arrival of Bristol he impatiently longed for; and it was by the assistance of that minister, whose wisdom he respected, and whose views he approved, that he hoped in time to extricate himself from his present difficulties.

During the prince's abode in Spain, that able negotiator had ever opposed, though unsuccessfully, to the impetuous measures suggested by Buckingham, his own wise and well-tempered counsels. After Charles's departure, he still, upon the first appearance of a change of resolution, interposed his advice, and strenuously insisted on the sincerity of the Spaniards in the conduct of the treaty, as well as the advantages which England must reap from the completion of it. Enraged to find that his successful labors should be rendered abortive by the levities and caprices of an insolent minion, he would understand no hints; and nothing but express orders from his master could engage him to make that demand which, he was sensible, must put a final period to the treaty. He was not, therefore, surprised to hear that Buckingham had declared himself his open enemy, and, on all occasions, had thrown out many violent reflections against him.

Nothing could be of greater consequence to Buckingham than to keep Bristol at a distance both from the king and the parliament; lest the power of truth, enforced by so well-informed a speaker, should open scenes which were but suspected by the former, and of which the latter had as yet entertained no manner of jealousy. He applied therefore to James, whose weakness, disguised to himself under the appearance of finesse and dissimulation, was now become absolutely incurable. A warrant for sending Bristol to the Tower was issued immediately upon his arrival in England;[*] and though he was soon released from confinement, yet orders were carried him from the king, to retire to his country seat, and to abstain from all attendance in parliament He obeyed; but loudly demanded an opportunity of justifying himself, and of laying his whole conduct before his master. On all occasions, he protested his innocence, and threw on his enemy the blame of every miscarriage. Buckingham, and, at his instigation, the prince, declared that they would be reconciled to Bristol, if he would but acknowledge his errors and ill conduct: but the spirited nobleman, jealous of his honor, refused to buy favor at so high a price. James had the equity to say, that the insisting on that condition was a strain of unexampled tyranny: but Buckingham scrupled not to assert, with his usual presumption, that neither the king, the prince, nor himself, were as yet satisfied of Bristol's innocence.[**]

While the attachment of the prince to Buckingham, while the timidity of James or the shame of changing his favorite, kept the whole court in awe, the Spanish ambassador, Inoiosa, endeavored to open the king's eyes, and to cure his fears by instilling greater fears into him. He privately slipped into his hand a paper, and gave him a signal to read it alone. He there told him, that he was as much a prisoner at London as ever Francis I. was at Madrid; that the prince and Buckingham had conspired together, and had the whole court at their devotion; that cabals among the popular leaders in parliament were carrying on, to the extreme prejudice of his authority; that the project was to confine him to some of his hunting seats, and to commit the whole administration to Charles; and that it was necessary for him, by one vigorous effort, to vindicate his authority, and to punish those who had so long and so much abused his friendship and beneficence.[***]

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 145.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 259.

*** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 144. Hacket's Life of Williams. Coke p. 107.

What credit James gave to this representation does not appear. He only discovered some faint symptoms, which he instantly retracted, of dissatisfaction with Buckingham. All his public measures, and all the alliances into which he entered, were founded on the system of enmity to the Austrian family, and of war to be carried on for the recovery of the Palatinate.

The states of the United Provinces were at this time governed by Maurice; and that aspiring prince, sensible that his credit would languish during peace, had, on the expiration of the twelve years' truce, renewed the war with the Spanish monarchy. His great capacity in the military art would have compensated the inferiority of his forces, had not the Spanish armies been commanded by Spinola, a general equally renowned for conduct, and more celebrated for enterprise and activity. In such a situation, nothing could, be more welcome to the republic than the prospect of a rupture between James and the Catholic king; and they flattered themselves, as well from the natural union of interests between them and England, as from the influence of the present conjuncture, that powerful succors would soon march to their relief. Accordingly an army of six thousand men was levied in England, and sent over to Holland, commanded by four young noblemen, Essex, Oxford, Southampton, and Willoughby, who were ambitious of distinguishing themselves in so popular a cause, and of acquiring military experience under so renowned a captain as Maurice.

It might reasonably have been expected, that, as religious zeal had made the recovery of the Palatinate appear a point of such vast importance in England, the same effect must have been produced in France, by the force merely of political views and considerations. While that principality remained in the hands of the house of Austria, the French dominions were surrounded on all sides by the possessions of that ambitious family, and might be invaded by superior forces from every quarter. It concerned the king of France, therefore, to prevent the peaceable establishment of the emperor in his new conquests; and both by the situation and greater power of his state, he was much better enabled than James to give succor to the distressed palatine.[*]

* See Collection of State Papers by the earl of Clarendon, p. 302.

But though these views escaped not Louis, nor Cardinal Richelieu, who now began to acquire an ascendant in the French court, that minister was determined to pave the way for his enterprises by first subduing the Hugonots, and thence to proceed, by mature counsels, to humble the house of Austria. The prospect, however, of a conjunction with England was presently embraced, and all imaginable encouragement was given to every proposal for conciliating a marriage between Charles and the princess Henrietta.

Notwithstanding the sensible experience which James might have acquired of the unsurmountable antipathy entertained by his subjects against an alliance with Catholics, he still persevered in the opinion, that his son would be degraded by receiving into his bed a princess of less than royal extraction. After the rupture, therefore, with Spain, nothing remained but an alliance with France; and to that court he immediately applied himself.[*] The same allurements had not here place, which had so long entangled him in the Spanish negotiation: the portion promised was much inferior; and the peaceable restoration of the palatine could not thence be expected. But James was afraid lest his son should be altogether disappointed of a bride; and therefore, as soon as the French king demanded, for the honor of his crown, the same terms which had been granted to the Spanish, he was prevailed with to comply. And as the prince, during his abode in Spain, had given a verbal promise to allow the infanta the education of her children till the age of thirteen, this article was here inserted in the treaty; and to that imprudence is generally imputed the present distressed condition of his posterity. The court of England, however, it must be confessed, always pretended, even in their memorials to the French court that all the favorable conditions granted to the Catholics, were inserted in the marriage treaty merely to please the pope, and that their strict execution was, by an agreement with France, secretly dispensed with.[**] [60]

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 152.

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

As much as the conclusion of the marriage treaty was acceptable to the king, as much were all the military enterprises disagreeable, both from the extreme difficulty of the undertaking in which he was engaged, and from his own incapacity for such a scene of action.

During the Spanish negotiation, Heidelberg and Manheim had been taken by the imperial forces; and Frankendale, though the garrison was entirely English, was closely besieged by them. After reiterated remonstrances from James, Spain interposed, and procured a suspension of arms during eighteen months. But as Frankendale was the only place of Frederic's ancient dominions which was still in his hands, Ferdinand, desirous of withdrawing his forces from the Palatinate, and of leaving that state in security was unwilling that so important a fortress should remain in the possession of the enemy. To compromise all differences, it was agreed to sequestrate it into the hands of the infanta as a neutral person; upon condition that, after the expiration of the truce, it should be delivered to Frederic; though peace should not, at that time, be concluded between him and Ferdinand.[*] After the unexpected rupture with Spain, the infanta, when James demanded the execution of the treaty, offered him peaceable possession of Frankendale, and even promised a safe-conduct for the garrison through the Spanish Netherlands: but there was some territory of the empire interposed between her state and the Palatinate; and for passage over that territory, no terms were stipulated.[**] By this chicane, which certainly had not been employed if amity with Spain had been preserved, the palatine was totally dispossessed of his patrimonial dominions.

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 74.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 151.

The English nation, however, and James's warlike council, were not discouraged. It was still determined to reconquer the Palatinate; a state lying in the midst of Germany, possessed entirely by the emperor and duke of Bavaria, surrounded by potent enemies, and cut off from all communication with England. Count Mansfeldt was taken into pay; and an English army of twelve thousand foot and two hundred horse was levied by a general press throughout the kingdom. During the negotiation with France, vast promises had been made, though in general terms, by the French ministry; not only that a free passage should be granted to the English troops, but that powerful succors should also join them in their march towards the Palatinate. In England, all these professions were hastily interpreted to be positive engagements. The troops under Mansfeldt's command were embarked at Dover; but, upon sailing over to Calais, found no orders yet arrived for their admission. After waiting in vain during some time, they were obliged to sail towards Zealand, where it had also been neglected to concert proper measures for their disembarkation; and some scruples arose among the states on account of the scarcity of provisions. Meanwhile a pestilential distemper crept in among the English forces, so long cooped up in narrow vessels. Half the army died while on board; and the other half, weakened by sickness, appeared too small a body to march into the Palatinate.[*]

{1625.} And thus ended this ill-concerted and fruitless expedition; the only disaster which happened to England during the prosperous and pacific reign of James.

That reign was now drawing towards a conclusion. With peace, so successfully cultivated, and so passionately loved by this monarch, his life also terminated. This spring, he was seized with a tertian ague; and, when encouraged by his courtiers with the common proverb, that such a distemper, during that season, was health for a king, he replied, that the proverb was meant of a young king. After some fits, he found himself extremely weakened, and sent for the prince, whom he exhorted to bear a tender affection for his wife, but to preserve a constancy in religion; to protect the church of England; and to extend his care towards the unhappy family of the palatine.[**] With decency and courage, he prepared himself for his end; and he expired on the twenty-seventh of March, after a reign over England of twenty-two years and some days, and in the fifty-ninth year of his age. His reign over Scotland was almost of equal duration with his life. In all history, it would be difficult to find a reign less illustrious, yet more unspotted and unblemished, than that of James in both kingdoms.

* Franklyn, p. 104. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 154. Dugdale, p. 24.

** Rushworth, vol. i. p. 155.

No prince, so little enterprising and so inoffensive, was ever so much exposed to the opposite extremes of calumny and flattery, of satire and panegyric. And the factions which began in his time, being still continued, have made his character be as much disputed to this day, as is commonly that of princes who are our contemporaries. Many virtues, however, it must be owned, he was possessed of, but scarce any of them pure, or free from the contagion of the neighboring vices. His generosity bordered on profusion, his learning on pedantry, his pacific disposition on pusillanimity, his wisdom on cunning, his friendship on light fancy and boyish fondness. While he imagined that he was only maintaining his own authority, he may, perhaps, be suspected, in a few of his actions, and still more of his pretensions, to have somewhat encroached on the liberties of his people: while he endeavored, by an exact neutrality, to acquire the good will of all his neighbors, he was able to preserve fully the esteem and regard of none. His capacity was considerable; but fitter to discourse on general maxims, than to conduct any intricate business: his intentions were just; but more adapted to the conduct of private life than to the government of kingdoms. Awkward in his person, and ungainly in his manners, he was ill qualified to command respect; partial and undiscerning in his affections, he was little fitted to acquire general love. Of a feeble temper, more than of a frail judgment; exposed to our ridicule from his vanity; but exempt from our hatred by his freedom from pride and arrogance. And, upon the whole, it may be pronounced of his character, that all his qualities were sullied with weakness and embellished by humanity. Of political courage he certainly was destitute; and thence, chiefly, is derived the strong prejudice which prevails against his personal bravery; an inference, however, which must be owned, from general experience, to be extremely fallacious.

He was only once married, to Anne of Denmark, who died on the third of March, 1619, in the forty-fifth year of her age; a woman eminent neither for her vices nor her virtues. She loved shows and expensive amusements, but possessed little taste in her pleasures. A great comet appeared about the time of her death; and the vulgar esteemed it the prognostic of that event: so considerable in their eyes are even the most insignificant princes.

He left only one son, Charles, then in the twenty-fifth year of his age; and one daughter, Elizabeth, married to the elector palatine. She was aged twenty-nine years. Those alone remained of six legitimate children born to him. He never had any illegitimate; and he never discovered any tendency, even the smallest, towards a passion for any mistress.

The archbishops of Canterbury during this reign were Whitgift, who died in 1604; Bancroft, in 1610; Abbot, who survived the king. The chancellors, Lord Ellesmore, who resigned in 1617; Bacon was first lord keeper till 1619; then was created chancellor, and was displaced in 1621: Williams, bishop of Lincoln, was created lord keeper in his place. The high treasurers were the earl of Dorset, who died in 1609, the earl of Salisbury, in 1612; the earl of Suffolk, fined and displaced for bribery in 1618. Lord Mandeville resigned in 1621, the earl of Middlesex, displaced in 1624; the earl of Marlborough succeeded. The lord admirals were, the earl of Nottingham, who resigned in 1618; the earl, afterwards duke of Buckingham. The secretaries of state were, the earl of Salisbury, Sir Ralph Winwood, Nanton, Calvert, Lord Conway, Sir Albertus Moreton.

The numbers of the house of lords, in the first parliament of this reign, were seventy-eight temporal peers. The numbers in the first parliament of Charles were ninety-seven. Consequently James, during that period, created nineteen new peerages above those that expired.

The house of commons, in the first parliament of this reign, consisted of four hundred and sixty-seven members. It appears that four boroughs revived their charters, which they had formerly neglected. And as the first parliament of Charles consisted of four hundred and ninety-four members, we may infer that James created ten new boroughs.


* This history of the house of Stuart was written and published by the author before the history of the house of Tudor. Hence it happens that some passages, particularly in the present Appendix, may seem to be repetitions of what was formerly delivered in the reign of Elizabeth. The author, in order to obviate this objection, has cancelled some few passages in the foregoing chapters.

It may not be improper, at this period, to make a pause, and to take a survey of the state of the kingdom with regard to government, manners, finances, arms, trade, learning. Where a just notion is not formed of these particulars, history can be little instructive, and often will not be intelligible.

We may safely pronounce that the English government, at the accession of the Scottish line, was much more arbitrary than it is at present; the prerogative less limited, the liberties of the subject less accurately defined and secured. Without mentioning other particulars, the courts alone of high commission and star chamber were sufficient to lay the whole kingdom at the mercy of the prince.

The court of high commission had been erected by Elizabeth, in consequence of an act of parliament passed in the beginning of her reign: by this act it was thought proper during the great revolution of religion, to arm the sovereign with full powers, in order to discourage and suppress opposition. All appeals from the inferior ecclesiastical courts were carried before the high commission; and, of consequence, the whole life and doctrine of the clergy lay directly under its inspection. Every breach of the act of uniformity, every refusal of the ceremonies, was cognizable in this court; and, during the reign of Elizabeth, had been punished by deprivation, by fine, confiscation, and imprisonment. James contented himself with the gentler penalty of deprivation; nor was that punishment inflicted with rigor on every offender. Archbishop Spotswood tells us, that fee was informed by Bancroft, the primate, several years after the king's accession, that not above forty-five clergymen had then been deprived. All the Catholics, too, were liable to be punished by this court, if they exercised any act of their religion, or sent abroad their children or other relations to receive that education which they could not procure them in their own country. Popish priests were thrown into prison, and might be delivered over to the law, which punished them with death; though that severity had been sparingly exercised by Elizabeth, and never almost by James. In a word, that liberty of conscience, which we so highly and so justly value at present, was totally suppressed; and no exercise of any religion but the established, was permitted throughout the kingdom. Any word or writing which tended towards heresy or schism, was punishable by the high commissioners, or any three of them: they alone were judges what expressions had that tendency: they proceeded not by information, but upon rumor, suspicion, or according to their discretion: they administered an oath, by which the party cited before them was bound to answer any question which should be propounded to him: whoever refused this oath, though he pleaded ever so justly, that he might thereby be brought to accuse himself or his dearest friend, was punishable by Imprisonment: and in short, an inquisitorial tribunal, with all its terrors and iniquities, was erected in the kingdom. Full discretionary powers were bestowed with regard to the inquiry, trial, sentence, and penalty inflicted; excepting only that corporal punishments were restrained by that patent of the prince which erected the court, not by the act of parliament which empowered him. By reason of the uncertain limits which separate ecclesiastical from civil causes, all accusations of adultery and incest were tried by the court of high commission; and every complaint of wives against their husbands was there examined and discussed.[*]

* Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 200.

On like pretences, every cause which regarded conscience, that is, every cause, could have been brought under their jurisdiction. But there was a sufficient reason why the king would not be solicitous to stretch the jurisdiction of this court: the star chamber possessed the same authority in civil matters; and its methods of proceeding were equally arbitrary and unlimited, The origin of this court was derived from the most remote antiquity[*] though it is pretended, that its power had first been carried to the greatest height by Henry VII. In all times, however, it is confessed, it enjoyed authority; and at no time was its authority circumscribed, or method of proceeding directed by any law or statute.

We have had already, or shall have sufficient occasion, dur-* ing the course of this history, to mention the dispensing power, the power of imprisonment, of exacting loans[**] and benevolences, of pressing and quartering soldiers, of altering the customs, of erecting monopolies. These branches of power, if not directly opposite to the principles of all free government, must, at least, be acknowledged dangerous to freedom in a monarchical constitution, where an eternal jealousy must be preserved against the sovereign, and no discretionary powers must ever be intrusted to him, by which the property or personal liberty of any subject can be affected. The kings of England, however, had almost constantly exercised these powers; and if, on any occasion, the prince had been obliged to submit to laws enacted against them, he had ever, in practice, eluded these laws, and returned to the same arbitrary administration. During almost three centuries before the accession of James, the regal authority, in all these particulars, had never once been called in question.

* Bushworth, vol. ii. p. 473. In Chambers's case, it was the unanimous opinion of the court of king's bench, that the court of star Chamber was not derived from the statute of Henry VII., but was a court many years before, and one of the most high and honorable courts of justice. See Coke's Rep. term. Mich. 5 Car. I. See, further, Camden's Brit. vol. i. Intro, p. 254, edit. of Gibson.

** During several centuries, no reign had passed without some forced loans from the subject.

We may also observe, that the principles in general which prevailed during that age, were so favorable to monarchy, that they bestowed on it an authority almost absolute and unlimited, sacred and indefeasible.

The meetings of parliament were so precarious, their sessions so short, compared to the vacations, that, when men's eyes were turned upwards in search of sovereign power, the prince alone was apt to strike them as the only permanent magistrate, invested with the whole majesty and authority of the state. The great complaisance too of parliaments, during so long a period, had extremely degraded and obscured those assemblies; and as all instances of opposition to prerogative must have been drawn from a remote age, they were unknown to a great many, and had the less authority even with those who were acquainted with them. These examples, besides, of liberty had commonly, in ancient times, been accompanied with such circumstances of violence, convulsion, civil war, and disorder, that they presented but a disagreeable idea to the inquisitive part of the people, and afforded small inducement to renew such dismal scenes. By a great many, therefore, monarchy, simple and unmixed, was conceived to be the government of England; and those popular assemblies were supposed to form only the ornament of the fabric, without being in any degree essential to its being and existence.[*] [61] The prerogative of the crown was represented by lawyers as something real and durable; like those eternal essences of the schools, which no time or force could alter. The sanction of religion was by divines called in aid; and the Monarch of heaven was supposed to be interested in supporting the authority of his earthly vicegerent. And though it is pretended that these doctrines were more openly inculcated and more strenuously insisted on during the reign of the Stuarts, they were not then invented; and were only found by the court to be more necessary at that period, by reason of the opposite doctrines, which began to be promulgated by the Puritanical party.[**] [62]

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

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

In consequence of these exalted ideas of kingly authority, the prerogative, besides the articles of jurisdiction founded on precedent, was by many supposed to possess an inexhaustible fund of latent powers, which might be exerted on any emergence. In every government, necessity, when real, supersedes all laws, and levels all limitations; but in the English government, convenience alone was conceived to authorize any extraordinary act of regal power, and to render it obligatory on the people. Hence the strict obedience required to proclamations during all periods of the English history; and if James has incurred blame on account of his edicts, it is only because he too frequently issued them at a time when they began to be less regarded, not because he first assumed or extended to an unusual degree that exercise of authority. Of his maxims in a parallel case, the following is a pretty remark able instance.

Queen Elizabeth had appointed commissioners for the inspection of prisons, and had bestowed on them full discretionary powers to adjust all differences between prisoners and their creditors, to compound debts, and to give liberty to such debtors as they found honest and insolvent. From the uncertain and undefined nature of the English constitution, doubts sprang up in many, that this commission was contrary to law; and it was represented in that light to James. He forbore, therefore, renewing the commission, till the fifteenth of his reign; when complaints rose so high with regard to the abuses practised in prisons, that he thought himself obliged to overcome his scruples, and to appoint new commissioners, invested with the same discretionary powers which Elizabeth had formerly conferred.[*]

* Rymer, tom. xviii. p. 117, 594.

Upon the whole, we must conceive that monarchy, on the accession of the house of Stuart, was possessed of a very extensive authority: an authority, in the judgment of all, not exactly limited; in the judgment of some, not limitable. But, at the same time, this authority was founded merely on the opinion of the people, influenced by ancient precedent and example. It was not supported either by money or by force of arms. And, for this reason, we need not wonder that the princes of that line were so extremely jealous of their prerogative; being sensible, that when these claims were ravished from them, they possessed no influence by which they could maintain their dignity, or support the laws. By the changes which have since been introduced, the liberty and independence of individuals has been rendered much more full, entire and secure; that of the public more uncertain and precarious. And it seems a necessary, though perhaps a melancholy truth, that in every government, the magistrate must either possess a large revenue and a military force, or enjoy some discretionary powers, in order to execute the laws and support his own authority.

We have had occasion to remark, in so many instances, the bigotry which prevailed in that age, that we can look for no toleration among the different sects. Two Arians, under the title of heretics, were punished by fire during this period; and no other reign, since the reformation, had been free from the like barbarities. Stowe says, that these Arians were offered their pardon at the stake, if they would merit it by a recantation. A madman, who called himself the Holy Ghost, was without any indulgence for his frenzy, condemned to the same punishment. Twenty pounds a month could, by law, be levied on every one who frequented not the established worship. This rigorous law, however, had one indulgent clause, that the lines exacted should not exceed two thirds of the yearly income of the person. It had been usual for Elizabeth to allow those penalties to run on for several years; and to levy them all at once, to the utter ruin of such Catholics as had incurred her displeasure. James was more humane in this, as in every other respect. The Puritans formed a sect which secretly lurked in the church, but pretended not to any separate worship or discipline. An attempt of that kind would have been universally regarded as the most unpardonable enormity. And had the king been disposed to grant the Puritans a full toleration for a separate exercise of their religion, it is certain, from the spirit of the times, that this sect itself would have despised and hated him for it, and would have reproached him with luke-warmness and indifference in the cause of religion. They maintained, that they themselves were the only pure church; that their principles and practices ought to be established by law; and that no others ought to be tolerated. It may be questioned, therefore, whether the administration at this time could with propriety deserve the appellation of persecutors with regard to the Puritans. Such of the clergy, indeed, as refused to comply with the legal ceremonies, were deprived of their livings, and sometimes, in Elizabeth's reign, were otherwise punished: and ought any man to accept of an office or benefice in an establishment, while he declines compliance with the fixed and known rules of that establishment? But Puritans were never punished for frequenting separate congregations; because there were none such in the kingdom; and no Protestant ever assumed or pretended to the right of erecting them. The greatest well-wishers of the Puritanical sect would have condemned a practice, which in that age was universally, by statesmen and ecclesiastics-philosophers and zealots, regarded as subversive of civil society. Even so great a reasoner as Lord Bacon thought that uniformity in religion was absolutely necessary to the support of government, and that no toleration could with safety be given to sectaries.[*]

* See his essay De Unitate Ecclesiae.

Nothing but the imputation of idolatry, which was thrown on the Catholic religion, could justify, in the eyes of the Puritans themselves, the schism made by the Hugonots and other Protestants who lived in Popish countries.

In all former ages, not wholly excepting even those of Greece and Rome, religious sects, and heresies, and schisms had been esteemed dangerous, if not pernicious, to civil government, and were regarded as the source of faction, and private combination, and opposition to the laws.[*] The magistrate, therefore, applied himself directly to the cure of this evil, as of every other; and very naturally attempted, by penal statutes, to suppress those separate communities, and punish the obstinate innovators. But it was found by fatal experience, and after spilling an ocean of blood in those theological quarrels, that the evil was of a peculiar nature, and was both inflamed by violent remedies, and diffused itself more rapidly throughout the whole society. Hence, though late, arose the paradoxical principle and salutary practice of toleration.

The liberty of the press was incompatible with such maxims and such principles of government as then prevailed, and was therefore quite unknown in that age. Besides employing the two terrible courts of star chamber and high commission, whose powers were unlimited, Queen Elizabeth exerted her authority by restraints upon the press. She passed a decree in her court of star chamber, that is, by her own will and pleasure, forbidding any book to be printed in any place but in London, Oxford, and Cambridge:[**] and another, in which she prohibited, under severe penalties, the publishing of any book or pamphlet "against the form or meaning of any restraint or ordinance, contained, or to be contained, in any statute or laws of this realm, or in any injunction made or set forth by her majesty or her privy council, or against the true sense or meaning of any letters patent, commissions or prohibitions under the great seal of England."[***] James extended the same penalties to the importing of such books from abroad.[****]

* See Cicero de Legibus.

** 28th of Elizabeth. See State Trials Sir Robert Knightly, vol vii. 1st edit.

*** Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 522.

**** Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 522.

And to render these edicts more effectual, he afterwards inhibited the printing of any book without a license from the archbishop of Canterbury, the archbishop of York, the bishop of London, or the vice-chancellor of one of the universities, or of some person appointed by them.[*]

In tracing the coherence among the systems of modern theology, we may observe, that the doctrine of absolute decrees has ever been intimately connected with the enthusiastic spirit, as that doctrine affords the highest subject of joy, triumph, and security to the supposed elect, and exalts them by infinite degrees above the rest of mankind. All the first reformers adopted these principles; and the Jansenists too, a fanatical sect in France, not to mention the Mahometans in Asia, have ever embraced them. As the Lutheran establishments were subjected to Episcopal jurisdiction, their enthusiastic genius gradually decayed; and men had leisure to perceive the absurdity of supposing God to punish by infinite torments what he himself from all eternity had unchangeably decreed. The king, though at this time his Calvinistic education had rivetted him in the doctrine of absolute decrees, yet, being a zealous partisan of Episcopacy, was insensibly engaged, towards the end of his reign, to favor the milder theology of Arminius. Even in so great a doctor, the genius of the religion prevailed over its speculative tenets; and with him, the whole clergy gradually dropped the more rigid principles of absolute reprobation and unconditional decrees. Some noise was at first made about these innovations; but being drowned in the fury of factions and civil wars which ensued, the scholastic arguments made an insignificant figure amidst those violent disputes about civil and ecclesiastical power with which the nation was agitated. And at the restoration, the church, though she still retained her old subscriptions and articles of faith, was found to have totally changed her speculative doctrines, and to have embraced tenets more suitable to the genius of her discipline and worship, without its being possible to assign the precise period in which the alteration was produced.

It may be worth observing, that James, from his great desire to promote controversial divinity, erected a college at Chelsea for the entertainment of twenty persons, who should be entirely employed in refuting the Papists and Puritans.[**]

* Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 616.

** Kennel, p. 685. Caraden's Brit vol. i. p. 370. Gibson's edit.

All the efforts of the great Bacon could not procure an establishment for the cultivation of natural philosophy: even to this day, no society has been instituted for the polishing and fixing of our language. The only encouragement which the sovereign in England has ever given to any thing that has the appearance of science, was this short-lived establishment of James; an institution quite superfluous, considering the unhappy propension which at that time so universally possessed the nation for polemical theology.

The manners of the nation were agreeable to the monarchical government which prevailed, and contained not that strange mixture which at present distinguishes England from all other countries. Such violent extremes were then unknown, of industry and debauchery, frugality and profusion, civility and rusticity, fanaticism and scepticism. Candor, sincerity, modesty, are the only qualities which the English of that age possessed in common with the present.

High pride of family then prevailed; and it was by a dignity and stateliness of behavior, that the gentry and nobility distinguished themselves from the common people. Great riches acquired by commerce were more rare, and had not as yet been able to confound all ranks of men, and render money the chief foundation of distinction. Much ceremony took place in the common intercourse of life, and little familiarity was indulged by the great. The advantages which result from opulence are so solid and real, that those who are possessed of them need not dread the near approaches of their inferiors. The distinctions of birth and title, being more empty and imaginary, soon vanish upon familiar access and acquaintance.

The expenses of the great consisted in pomp, and show, and a numerous retinue, rather than in convenience and true pleasure. The earl of Nottingham, in his embassy to Spain, was attended by five hundred persons: the earl of Hertford, in that to Brussels, carried three hundred gentlemen along with him. Lord Bacon has remarked, that the English nobility, in his time, maintained a larger retinue of servants than the nobility of any other nation, except, perhaps, the Polanders.[*]

Civil honors, which now hold the first place, were at that time subordinate to the military. The young gentry and nobility were fond of distinguishing themselves by arms. The fury of duels, too, prevailed more than at anytime before or since.[**] This was the turn that the romantic chivalry, for which the nation was formerly so renowned, had lately taken.

* Essays De profer, fin. imp.

** Franklyn, p. 5 See also Lord Herbert's Memoirs.

Liberty of commerce between the sexes was indulged, but without any licentiousness of manners. The court was very little an exception to this observation. James had rather entertained an aversion and contempt for the females; nor were those young courtiers, of whom he was so fond, able to break through the established manners of the nation.

The first sedan chair seen in England was in this reign, and was used by the duke of Buckingham; to the great indignation of the people, who exclaimed, that he was employing his fellow-creatures to do the service of beasts.

The country life prevails at present in England beyond any cultivated nation of Europe; but it was then much more generally embraced by all the gentry. The increase of arts, pleasures, and social commerce, was just beginning to produce an inclination for the softer and more civilized life of the city. James discouraged, as much as possible, this alteration of manners. "He was wont to be very earnest," as Lord Bacon tells us, "with the country gentlemen to go from London to their country seats. And sometimes he would say thus to them: 'Gentlemen, at London you are like ships in a sea, which show like nothing; but in your country villages you are like ships in a river, which look like great things.'"[*]

He was not content with reproof and exhortation. As Queen Elizabeth had perceived with regret the increase of London, and had restrained all new buildings by proclamation, James, who found that these edicts were not exactly obeyed, frequently renewed them; though a strict execution seems still to have been wanting. He also issued reiterated proclamations, in imitation of his predecessor; containing severe menaces against the gentry who lived in town.[**]

* Apophthegms.

** Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 632.

This policy is contrary to that which has ever been practised by all princes who studied the increase of their authority. To allure the nobility to court; to engage them in expensive pleasures or employments which dissipate their fortune; to increase their subjection to ministers by attendance; to weaken their authority in the provinces by absence: these have been the common arts of arbitrary government. But James, besides that he had certainly laid no plan for extending his power, had no money to support a splendid court, or bestow on a numerous retinue of gentry and nobility. He thought too, that by their living together, they became more sensible of their own strength, and were apt to indulge too curious researches into matters of government. To remedy the present evil, he was desirous of dispersing them into their country seats; where, he hoped, they would bear a more submissive reverence to his authority, and receive less support from each other. But the contrary effect soon followed. The riches amassed during their residence at home rendered them independent. The influence acquired by hospitality made them formidable. They would not be led by the court: they could not be driven: and thus the system of the English government received a total and a sudden alteration in the course of less than forty years.

The first rise of commerce and the arts had contributed, in preceding reigns, to scatter those immense fortunes of the barons which rendered them so formidable both to king and people. The further progress of these advantages began, during this reign, to ruin the small proprietors of land;[*] and, by both events, the gentry, or that rank which composed the house of commons, enlarged their power and authority. The early improvements in luxury were seized by the greater nobles, whose fortunes, placing them above frugality, or even calculation, were soon dissipated in expensive pleasures. These improvements reached at last all men of property; and those of slender fortunes, who at that time were often men of family, imitating those of a rank immediately above them, reduced themselves to poverty. Their lands, coming to sale, swelled the estates of those who possessed itches sufficient for the fashionable expenses, but who were not exempted from some care and attention to their domestic economy.

The gentry also of that age were engaged in no expense, except that of country hospitality. No taxes were levied, no wars waged, no attendance at court expected, no bribery or profusion required at elections.[**] Could human nature ever reach happiness, the condition of the English gentry, under so mild and benign a prince, might merit that appellation.

The amount of the king's revenue, as it stood in 1617, is thus stated.[***]

* Cabala, p. 224, 1st edit.

** Men seem then to have been ambitious of representing the counties, but careless on the boroughs. A seat in the house was, in itself, of small importance: but the former became a point of honor among the gentlemen. Journ. 10th Feb. 1620. Towns which had formerly neglected their right of sending members, now began to claim it. Journ. 26th Feb. 1623.

*** An Abstract, or brief Declaration of his Majesty's Revenue, with the Assignations and Defalcations upon the same.

Of crown lands, eighty thousand pounds a year; by customs and new impositions, near one hundred and ninety thousand; by wards and other various branches of revenue, besides purveyance, one hundred and eighty thousand: the whole amounting to four hundred and fifty thousand. The king's ordinary disbursements, by the same account, are said to exceed this sum thirty-six thousand pounds.[*] All the extraordinary sums which James had raised by subsidies, loans, sale of lands, sale of the title of baronet, money paid by the states and by the king of France, benevolences, etc., were, in the whole, about two millions two hundred thousand pounds; of which the sale of lands afforded seven hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds. The extraordinary disbursements of the king amounted to two millions; besides above four hundred thousand pounds given in presents. Upon the whole, a sufficient reason appears, partly from necessary expenses, partly for want of a rigid economy, why the king, even early in his reign, was deeply involved in debt, and found great difficulty to support the government.

Farmers, not commissioners, levied the customs. It seems, indeed, requisite, that the former method should always be tried before the latter, though a preferable one. When men's own interest is concerned, they fall upon a hundred expedients to prevent frauds in the merchants; and these the public may afterwards imitate, in establishing proper rules for its officers.

The customs were supposed to amount to five per cent. of the value, and were levied upon exports, as well as imports. Nay, the imposition upon exports, by James's additions, is said to amount, in some few instances, to twenty-five per cent This practice, so hurtful to industry, prevails still in France, Spain, and most countries of Europe. The customs in 1604 yielded one hundred and twenty-seven thousand pounds a year: [**] they rose to one hundred and ninety thousand towards the end of the reign.

* The excess was formerly greater, as appears by Salisbury's account. See chap. 2.

** Journ. 21st May, 1604.

Interest, during this reign, was at ten per cent. till 1624, when it was reduced to eight. This high interest is an indication of the great profits and small progress of commerce.

The extraordinary supplies granted by parliament, during this whole reign, amounted not to more than six hundred and thirty thousand pounds; which, divided among twenty-one years, makes thirty thousand pounds a year. I do not include those supplies, amounting to three hundred thousand pounds, which were given to the king by his last parliament. These were paid in to their own commissioners; and the expenses of the Spanish war were much more than sufficient to exhaust them. The distressed family of the palatine was a great burden on James, during part of his reign. The king, it is pretended, possessed not frugality proportioned to the extreme narrowness of his revenue. Splendid equipages, however, he did not affect, nor costly furniture, nor a luxurious table, nor prodigal mistresses. His buildings too were not sumptuous; though the Banqueting House must not be forgotten, as a monument which does honor to his reign. Hunting was his chief amusement, the cheapest pleasure in which a king can indulge himself. His expenses were the effects of liberality, rather than of luxury.

One day, it is said, while he was standing amidst some of his courtiers, a porter passed by, loaded with money, which he was carrying to the treasury. The king observed that Rich, afterwards earl of Holland, one of his handsome, agreeable favorites, whispered something to one standing near him. Upon inquiry, he found that Rich had said, "How happy would that money make me!" Without hesitation, James bestowed it all upon him, though it amounted to three thousand pounds. He added, "You think yourself very happy in obtaining so large a sum; but I am more happy in having an opportunity of obliging a worthy man, whom I love." The generosity of James was more the result of a benign humor or light fancy, than of reason or judgment. The objects of it were such as could render themselves agreeable to him in his loose hours; not such as were endowed with great merit, or who possessed talents or popularity which could strengthen his interest with the public.

The same advantage, we may remark, over the people, which the crown formerly reaped from that interval between the fall of the peers and rise of the commons, was now possessed by the people against the crown, during the continuance of a like interval. The sovereign had already lost that independent revenue by which he could subsist without regular supplies from parliament; and he had not yet acquired the means of influencing those assemblies. The effects of this situation, which commenced with the accession of the house of Stuart, soon rose to a great height, and were more of less propagated throughout all the reigns of that unhappy family.

Subsidies and fifteenths are frequently mentioned by historians; but neither the amount of these taxes, nor the method of levying them, have been well explained. It appears, that the fifteenths formerly corresponded to the name, and were that proportionable part of the movables.[*] But a valuation having been made in the reign of Edward III., that valuation was always adhered to, and each town paid unalterably a particular sum, which the inhabitants themselves assessed upon their fellow-citizens. The same tax in corporate towns was called a tenth; because there it was, at first, a tenth of the movables. The whole amount of a tenth and a fifteenth throughout the kingdom, or a fifteenth, as it is often more concisely called, was about twenty-nine thousand pounds.[**] The amount of a subsidy was not invariable, like that of a fifteenth. In the eighth of Elizabeth, a subsidy amounted to one hundred and twenty thousand pounds: in the fortieth, it was not above seventy-eight thousand.[***] It afterwards fell to seventy thousand, and was continually decreasing.[****] The reason is easily collected from the method of levying it. We may learn from the subsidy bills,[v] that one subsidy was given for four shillings in the pound on land, and two shillings and eightpence on movables throughout the counties; a considerable tax, had it been strictly levied. But this was only the ancient state of a subsidy. During the reign of James, there was not paid the twentieth part of that sum. The tax was so far personal, that a man paid only in the county where he lived, though he should possess estates in other counties; and the assessors formed a loose estimation of his property, and rated him accordingly.

* Coke's Inst. book iv. chap. 1, cf fifteenths, quinzins.

** Coke's Inst. book iv. chap. 1, subsidies temporary.

*** Journ. 11th July, 1610.

**** Coke's Inst. book iv. subsidies temporary.

v See Statutes at large.

To preserve, however, some rule in the estimation, it seems to have been the practice to keep an eye to former assessments, and to rate every man according as his ancestors, or men of such an estimated property, were accustomed to pay. This was a sufficient reason why subsidies could not increase, notwithstanding the great increase of money and rise of rents. But there was an evident reason why they continually decreased. The favor, as is natural to suppose, ran always against the crown; especially during the latter end of Elizabeth, when subsidies became numerous and frequent, and the sums levied were considerable, compared to former supplies. The assessors, though accustomed to have an eye to ancient estimations, were not bound to observe any such rule, but might rate anew any person, according to his present income. When rents fell, or parts of an estate were sold off, the proprietor was sure to represent these losses, and obtain a diminution of his subsidy; but where rents rose, or new lands were purchased, he kept his own secret, and paid no more than formerly. The advantage, therefore, of every change was taken against the crown; and the crown could obtain the advantage of none. And, to make the matter worse, the alterations which happened in property during this age, were in general unfavorable to the crown. The small proprietors, or twenty-pound men, went continually to decay; and when their estates were swallowed up by a greater, the new purchaser increased not his subsidy. So loose, indeed, is the whole method of rating subsidies, that the wonder was, not how the tax should continually diminish, but how it yielded any revenue at all. It became at last so unequal and uncertain, that the parliament was obliged to change it into a land tax.

The price of corn during this reign, and that of the other necessaries of life, was no lower, or was rather higher, than at present. By a proclamation of James, establishing public magazines, whenever wheat fell below thirty-two shillings a quarter, rye below eighteen, barley below sixteen, the commissioners were empowered to purchase corn for the magazines.[*] These prices then are to be regarded as low; though they would rather pass for high by our present estimation. The usual bread of the poor was at this time made of barley.[**] The best wool, during the greater part of James's reign, was at thirty-three shillings a tod.[***] At present, it is not above two-thirds of that value; though it is lo be presumed that our exports in woollen goods are somewhat increased. The finer manufactures, too, by the progress of arts and industry, have rather diminished in price, notwithstanding the great increase of money.

* Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 526. To the same purpose, see also 21st lac vi. cap. 28.

** Rymer, tom. xx. p. 157.

*** See a compendium or dialogue inserted in the Memoirs of Wool, chap. 23.

In Shakspeare, the hostess tells Falstaff, that the shirts she bought him were Holland at eight shillings a yard; a high price at this day, even supposing, what is not probable, that the best Holland at that time was equal in goodness to the best that can now be purchased. In like manner, a yard of velvet, about the middle of Elizabeth's reign, was valued at two and twenty shillings. It appears from Dr. Birch's life of Prince Henry,[*] that that prince, by contract with his butcher, paid near a groat a pound throughout the year for all the beef and mutton used in his family. Besides, we must consider, that the general turn of that age, which no laws could prevent, was the converting of arable land into pasture; a certain proof that the latter was found more profitable, and consequently that all butcher's meat, as well as bread, was rather higher than at present. We have a regulation of the market with regard to poultry, and some other articles, very early in Charles I.'s reign; [**] and the prices are high. A turkey cock four shillings and sixpence, a turkey hen three shillings, a pheasant cock six, a pheasant hen five, a partridge one shilling, a goose two, a capon two and sixpence, a pullet one and sixpence, a rabbit eightpence, a dozen of pigeons six shillings.[***] We must consider that London at present is more than three times more populous than it was at that time; a circumstance which much increases the price of poultry, and of every thing that cannot conveniently be brought from a distance: not to mention, that these regulations by authority are always calculated to diminish, never to increase the market prices. The contractors for victualling the navy were allowed by government eightpence a day for the diet of each man when in harbor, sevenpence halfpenny when at sea; [****] which would suffice at present. The chief difference in expense between that age and the present consists in the imaginary wants of men, which have since extremely multiplied.[v] These are the principal reasons why James's revenue would go further than the same money in our time; though the difference is not near so great as is usually imagined.

* Page 449.

** Rymer, tom. xix. p. 511.

*** We may judge of the great grievance of purveyance by this circumstance, that the purveyors often gave but sixpence for a dozen of pigeons, and twopence for a fowl. Journ. 25th May, 1626.

**** Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 441, et seq.

v This volume was written above twenty years before the edition of 1778. In that short period, prices have perhaps risen more than during the preceding hundred and fifty.

The public was entirely free from the danger and expense of a standing army. While James was vaunting his divine vicegerency, and boasting of his high prerogative, he possessed not so much as a single regiment of guards to maintain his extensive claims; a sufficient proof that he sincerely believed his pretensions to be well grounded, and a strong presumption that they were at least built on what were then deemed plausible arguments. The militia of England, amounting to one hundred and sixty thousand men,[*] was the sole defence of the kingdom. It is pretended that they were kept in good order during his reign.[**] The city of London procured officers who had served abroad, and who taught the trained bands their exercises in Artillery Garden; a practice which had been discontinued since 1588. All the counties of England, in emulation of the capital, were fond of showing a well-ordered and well-appointed militia. It appeared, that the natural propensity of men towards military shows and exercises will go far, with a little attention in the sovereign, towards exciting and supporting this spirit in any nation. The very boys, at this time, in mimicry of their elders, enlisted themselves voluntarily into companies, elected officers, and practised the discipline, of which the models were every day exposed to their view.[***] Sir Edward Harwood, In a memorial composed at the beginning of the subsequent reign, says, that England was so unprovided with horses fit for war, that two thousand men could not possibly be mounted throughout the whole kingdom.[****] At present, the breed of horses is so much improved, that almost all those which are employed, either in the plough, wagon, or coach, would be fit for that purpose.

The disorders of Ireland obliged James to keep up some forces there, and put him to great expense. The common pay of a private man in the infantry was eightpence a day, a lieutenant two shillings, an ensign eighteen pence.[v]

* Journ. 1st March, 1623.

** Stowe. See also Sir Walter Raleigh of the Prerogatives of Parliament, and Johnston Hist. lib. xviii.

*** Stowe.

**** In the Harleian Miscellany, vol. iv, p. 255.

v Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 717.

The armies in Europe were not near so numerous during that age; and the private men, we may observe, were drawn from a better rank than at present, and approaching nearer to that of the officers.

In the year 1583, there was a general review made of all the men in England capable of bearing arms; and these were found to amount to one million one hundred and seventy-two thousand men, according to Raleigh.[*] It is impossible to warrant the exactness of this computation; or rather, we may fairly presume it to be somewhat inaccurate. But if it approached near the truth, England has probably, since that time, increased in populousness. The growth of London, in riches and beauty, as well as in numbers of inhabitants, has been prodigious. From 1600, it doubled every forty years;[*] and consequently, in 1680, it contained four times as many inhabitants as at the beginning of the century. It has ever been the centre of all the trade in the kingdom; and almost the only town that affords society and amusement. The affection which the English bear to a country life, makes the provincial towns be little frequented by the gentry. Nothing but the allurements of the capital, which is favored by the residence of the king, and by being the seat of government and of all the courts of justice, can prevail over their passion for their rural villas.

London at this time was almost entirely built of wood, and in every respect was certainly a very ugly city. The earl of Arundel first introduced the general practice of brick buildings.[**]

The navy of England was esteemed formidable in Elizabeth's time, yet it consisted only of thirty-three ships, besides pinnaces;[***] and the largest of these would not equal our fourth-rates at present. Raleigh advises never to build a ship of war above six hundred tons. James was not negligent of the navy. In five years preceding 1623, he built ten new ships, and expended fifty thousand pounds a year on the fleet.

* Sir William Petty.

** Sir Edward Walker's Political Discourses, p. 270

*** Coke's Inst. book iv. chap. 1. Consultation in parliament for the navy.

Of the Invention of Shipping. This number is much superior to that contained in Murden, and that delivered by Sir Edward Coke to the house of commons; and is more likely.

By Raleigh's account, in his discourse of the first invention of shipping, the fleet, in the twenty-fourth of the queen, consisted only of thirteen ships, and was augmented afterwards eleven. He probably reckoned some to be pinnaces, which Coke called ships, besides the value of thirty-six thousand pounds in timber, which he annually gave from the royal forests.[*] The largest ship that ever had come from the English docks was built during this reign. She was only one thousand four hundred tons, and carried sixty-four guns.[**] The merchant ships, in cases of necessity, were instantly converted into ships of war. The king affirmed to the parliament, that the navy had never before been in so good a condition.[***]

Every session of parliament, during this reign, we meet with grievous lamentations concerning the decay of trade, and the growth of Popery: such violent propensity have men to complain of the present times, and to entertain discontent against their fortune and condition. The king himself was deceived by these popular complaints, and was at a loss to account for the total want of money, which he heard so much exaggerated.[****] It may, however, be affirmed, that during no preceding period of English history, was there a more sensible increase, than during the reign of this monarch, of all the advantages which distinguish a flourishing people. Not only the peace which he maintained was favorable to industry and commerce: his turn of mind inclined him to promote the peaceful arts: and trade being as yet in its infancy, all additions to it must have been the more evident to every eye which was not blinded by melancholy prejudices.[v] [63]

By an accountv which seems judicious and accurate, it appears, that all the seamen employed in the merchant service amounted to ten thousand men, which probably exceeds not the fifth part of their present number. Sir Thomas Overbury says, that the Dutch possessed three times more shipping than the English, but that their ships were of inferior burden to those of the latter.[v**] Sir William Monson computed the English naval power to be little or nothing inferior to the Dutch,[v***] which is surely an exaggeration. The Dutch at this time traded to England with six hundred ships; England to Holland with sixty only.[v****]

* Journ. 11th March, 1623. Sir William Monson makes the number amount only to nine new ships, (p. 253.)

** Stowe.

*** Parl. Hist, vol vi. p. 94.

**** Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 413.

v See note LLL, at the end of the volume.

v* The trade's increase, in the Harleian Misc. vol. iii.

v** Remarks on his travels, Harl. Misc. vol. ii. p. 348.

v*** Naval Tracts, p. 329, 350.

v**** Raleigh's Observations.

A catalogue of the manufactures for which the English were then eminent, would appear very contemptible, in comparison of those which flourish among them at present. Almost all the more elaborate and curious arts were only cultivated abroad, particularly in Italy, Holland, and the Netherlands. Ship-building and the founding of iron cannon were the sole in which the English excelled. They seem, indeed, to have possessed alone the secret of the latter; and great complaints were made every parliament against the exportation of English ordnance.

Nine tenths of the commerce of the kingdom consisted in woollen goods.[*] Wool, however, was allowed to be exported, till the nineteenth of the king. Its exportation was then forbidden by proclamation; though that edict was never strictly executed. Most of the cloth was exported raw, and was dyed and dressed by the Dutch; who gained, it is pretended, seven hundred thousand pounds a year by this manufacture.[**] A proclamation issued by the king against exporting cloth in that condition, had succeeded so ill during one year, by the refusal of the Dutch to buy the dressed cloth, that great murmurs arose against it; and this measure was retracted by the king, and complained of by the nation, as if it had been the most impolitic in the world. It seems indeed to have been premature.

In so little credit was the fine English cloth even at home, that the king was obliged to seek expedients by which he might engage the people of fashion to wear it.[***] The manufacture of fine linen was totally unknown in the kingdom.[****]

* Journ. 26th May, 1621.

** Journ. 20th May, 1614. Raleigh, in his Observations, computes the loss at four hundred thousand pounds to the nation. There are about eighty thousand undressed cloths, says he, exported yearly. He computes, besides, that about one hundred thousand pounds a year had been lost by kerseys; not to mention other articles. The account of two hundred thousand cloths a year exported in Elizabeth's reign, seems to be exaggerated.

*** Kymer, tom. xvii. p. 415.

**** Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 415.

The company of merchant adventurers, by their patent, possessed the sole commerce of woollen goods, though the staple commodity of the kingdom. An attempt made during the reign of Elizabeth to lay open this important trade, had been attended with bad consequences for a time, by a conspiracy of the merchant adventurers not to make any purchases of cloth; and the queen immediately restored them their patent.

It was the groundless fear of a like accident, that enslaved the nation to those exclusive companies which confined so much every branch of commerce and industry. The parliament, however, annulled, in the third of the king, the patent of the Spanish company; and the trade to Spain, which was at first very insignificant, soon became the most considerable in the kingdom. It is strange that they were not thence encouraged to abolish all the other companies, and that they went no further than obliging them to enlarge their bottom, and to facilitate the admission of new adventurers.

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