Source: Camden Miscellany, volume 6.
In the Hardwicke State Papers (i. 494) is printed a paper, entitled: "The answers of the Earl of Bristol to certain interrogatories intended for his Majesty's private satisfaction, with a reserve for a permission of making recourse to such other things as may be further necessary to his clearing." It consists of twenty questions put to Bristol after his return from Spain in 1624, together with his replies. The seventh interrogatory and its answer are as follows:—
Why did you so confidently inform his Majesty from time to time of their real and sincere proceeding in Spain, having been acquainted before with the affront put upon his Majesty with the breach of the treaty concerning the match of Prince Henry ?
Answer. To the first part of the seventh interrogatory, he saith, he never gave his Majesty any hopes of their real proceedings in Spain, but the same that were then given him without adding or diminishing; neither could he have done otherwise with honesty and safety. Further, the hopes he gave were neither upon conjectures or vain intelligence, but upon all the assurances both in word and writing that could pass between Princes and Christians. And if the despatch he wrote to his Majesty, bearing date the 9th of September, 1623, may but be perused, he no way doubteth but it will appear that he was not deceived, but served his Majesty with no less care and vigilancy than with truth and fidelity. Lastly, he saith he had reason to give such hopes as he did of that which he never doubted but that it would take effect until after the stay of the desposorios. As for the inference concerning the match of Prince Henry, it being ten or twelve years since, we have many fresh examples that states alter their resolutions in their designs, and many times their alliances in much shorter time. But for that the giving a due answer unto this point by deducing business from Prince Henry's time unto this present, would be greater length than befitteth this answer, he will, in a paper apart, set down the whole progress of the busines from the year 1611 unto this present time, wherein he no way doubteth but to make it appear to his Majesty that he hath served him like a good and faithful servant.
This paper apart, probably delivered at the same time, that is to
say, about July 10, 1624, is now printed from Tanner MSS. lxxiii.
fol. 449, and containing, as it does, statements of events some of which are not known upon any other authority, may be regarded as a valuable accession to our knowledge of the period. The MS. is not in Bristol's own hand, but is either a contemporary copy, or at least one of a not much later date than the original. To this has been added a further explanation given by Bristol to Buckingham on the 16th of March, 1625, which is to be found amongst the Domestic State Papers (clxxxv, 59, ii.) These two papers, together with Bristol's answers to the interrogatories printed in the Hardwicke State Papers, and his reply to the charges brought against him when he was impeached in 1626, contain all that he thought fit to say in defence of his political conduct.
In order, however, that the reader may have present before him the circumstances under which the defence was made, I have thought it would be worth while to put together an account of the treatment which he received after his return from Spain. Unless I am much mistaken, there will be few, even amongst those who have no sympathy whatever with Bristol as a politician, who will not learn to respect the character of the man. If I have allowed my extracts to run to more than usual length my excuse must be, that, being almost entirely from unpublished documents in the Record Office, or in Mr. Digby's collection at Sherborne Castle, I have reason to believe that they will be for the most part new to members of the Society, and that it seemed better to let the characters speak for themselves than to allow them to express themselves through the medium of my mind.
On the 22nd of January, 1624, soon after receiving his letters of
recall, Bristol wrote from Madrid to Secretary Calvert. He was,
he said, in a very difficult position. He must travel homewards
wife, children, and a familye of above fourescore persons,
with a necessitye of returning through France, having noe meanes
to passe by sea, and noe kind of care of him,
nor any one pennye
of moneye, though 6,000l. were due to him from the Exchequer.
He would borrow 4,000l. for his journey, and hoped it might be
repaid from the sum owing to him. In a
letter to the King written
on the same day, after protesting that, if he had erred, it was out
of ignorance, he said:—
I shall onelie presume to be a most humble suytour unto your Majestie for one thinge which your Majestie hath beene pleased often gratiouslye to promise me, and uppon it to give me your hande to kisse that I shoulde never be condemned by you or cast out of your favour, untill I should have appeared in your presence, and had a gratious hearing. I therefore begg it of your Majestie on my knees that I may appeare before you without prejudice or disfavour, and in leiw of this grace and goodnesse of your Majesties I shall most willinglie submitt myselfe to have my punishment doubbled in anie kinde I shall be fownde faultie.
Would James keep his promise, or rather would Charles and Buckingham, by whom the old King was now directed, allow him to keep it?
On the 29th of January Bristol took leave of the King of Spain,
Philip giving him a ring
which he took off his finger, wishing
him to wear it in memorie of him
who would ever be his friend.
But Bristol was unable to start at once. The 4,OOOl. which he
intended to borrow were not to be had without better security than
himself. Again reminding James of his promise, he renewed his
request for a personal hearing. With the exception of a letter of
Conway's, referring to a different subject, the correspondence which
immediately followed has not been preserved; but an extract from
a letter written by the younger Dudley Carleton to his uncle, on
the 6th of May, shows that it was not believed at the time that
James was in any way personally incensed against his late ambassador:—
My Lord of Bristoll is arrived and confined to his house in St. Giles feilds; but the opinion is that he will not fare the worse for that, but rather that we shall see him soone at Court with the King, who hath sent him kind messages, and hath lett him understand that within a day or two he will speake with him. It is not conceaved that he will be called to any strickt account, for feare he should discover matters too much in their owne colours.
This was, no doubt, the true state of the case. Without saying, as has been often asserted, that the statement upon the conduct of Charles in Madrid, put forward by the Prince and Buckingham, was absolutely false, it certainly passed over in silence many things which, if they had been divulged, would have put an instantaneous end to Charles's short-lived popularity. To let Bristol loose upon the world was dangerous. But then to bring him to trial was equally dangerous. It is therefore not surprising that on the 12th we find Chichester writing:—
The Earle of Bristoll is directed to retyre himselfe to his lodginge; he hath not had as yet anie hearinge, nor anie thinge objected against him that I knowe off.
The next day Chamberlain says that the King had visited Buckingham, who was at that time sick;[page vii]
And, as I heare, dealt earnestly to reconcile him and the Earle of Bristowe, of whome we heare litle since his comming, but that he was willed to keepe his house, but had otherwise gracious messages from his Majestie. He carries himself boldly, and yt is saide there is a commission apointed to examine his busines, for into the Parlement yt must not come, because the Prince hath shewed himself a partie.
On the 15th Nethersole writes that the Earl is
confident, and desireth nothing but to be brought to his triall. This,
however, he added, could hardly be this session, on account of
Buckingham's illness. Two years afterwards Bristol referred to
what had passed on this occasion.
Being at my lodging, he said,
I petitioned the King that I might answer in the Parliament, and
his Majesty said that the Parliament was so insensed against me
that it was not safe for me to be brought thither, but within a few
days I should have an end of my troubles.
Parliament was prorogued on the 29th of May. In the course of the month—the day is not given—Bristol had made the following overture to the Prince:—
I infinitely desyred to have come at my arrivall to have cast myselfe at your H[ighness's] feete, but, having receaved a commandement not to come into [the] Kinges presence, I dare not presume to offer to attend your Hig[hness] untill I shall have your particular leave. In the meane [time] I could not forbeare to make a most faythfull and most humble tender of myself unto your service, assuring your H[ighness] that, if ever I have deserved your H[ighness's] displeasure, it hath bene for wante of understanding your will. Neyther shall I comitt any faulte hereafter, if I may knowe your pleasure. The match with Spayne I faythfully endevored, as judging it much desyred by his Majestye and your H[ighness], and theruppon my affection wholy depended. For the treatye of the Palatinate I never wrote worde but what was sayde unto me, and I shall sufficiently proove. Any want of performance that shall have bene, the King of Spayne and his ministers have the faulte; but I hope it will not be reputed to me as any, for advertising trewly what they sayde.
To your High[ness's] pleasure in all things I shall conforme myself, and there- [page viii] fore I desyre to be admitted to wayte uppon you, that, by knowing what your H[ighness] would have me doe, I may be sure not err.
The Prince must have found himself, if he thought about the matter at all, in an awkward position. Of course he could not receive Bristol if he still thought badly of him , and yet what success could he promise himself from the trial which had become almost a necessity, and which Bristol himself so openly challenged? If it turned out that the ambassador had been authorised by the King to do all that he had done, then the King's reputation would suffer as much at the bar of public opinion as the Earl's was likely to do. If, again, all that could be said was, that Bristol, though he had taken no step of importance without authority, had yet given bad advice, or had allowed himself to be deceived by the Spanish ministers, that might be a very good reason for recalling him, but it was no reason at all for punishing him.
Some thought, at least, of these possible complications seems to
have occurred to the Prince. He sent to advise Bristol to
himselfe into the countrey for a space; and it would seem
from the following letter, and from others printed further on, that
Charles expected Bristol to make some acknowledgment that he was
sorry for what he had done, though it is probable that Charles
would now have been content to qualify the offence as a mere error
of judgment. In this way the object of separating Bristol from the
King would be gained, without making James violate his promise
that the Earl should have an end of his troubles.
Good Mr. Secretary. I knowe ther is no man living that is a better witnesse [page ix] then yourselfe, with how much zeale to the Prince's services and affection to his person I have ever served him, and therefore I intreate you to take some occasions to present unto him the particulars following:
First I intreate you to reade over the capitulo of a letter I wrote unto the King out of Spayne the last winter, bearing date the 6. of December, and to procure him to peruse it, in which I cast myself at his feete with so much humilitye and with so absolute resignation of my selfe and my affections to his will that I knowe not any thinge that I can add by way of humility and submission. The same I have continewed towards him ever since by my lettres; and if I knew how to doe more I would willingly doe it.
As for my actions, I take God to recorde I do not knowe that in any thinge I have offended him in all my life, neither can I conjecture at any thing whereby I may have displeased him, if it be not by having expressed to much zeale to that which I understoode to be much desyred both by his Majestye and himselfe. For in his letters unto me ever since his retourne into Englande, he was pleased to assure me that there was no intent of breaking the match.
His Highness hath often promised me and given me his hand uppon it that if I should uppon any occasion fall into treble he would heare me and my cause, and then assist me with his favour. He hath now sent me woord that if I will not follow his advice I must not hereafter looke for his assistance. My humble suite is that in the first place his Highness willbe trewly possessed of my case and afterward according to justice afforde me his assistance, for otherwise he will not know how to mesureor proportion his favour towards me: for if I shall prove a delinquent, the favour which his Highness may do me wilbe in one kind by interceeding for me; but if I prove in noe kinde faultye, but appeare to have bene a man wronged and oppressed, I no way doubt but I shall have his Highness favour for the righting of me and the repayring of myne honor. So that, that which I must most humbly begg of his Highness in the first place is that I may be hearde, and that he will trewly understande my cause, and then he will see in what sorte I am capable of his grace and favour.
I will conclude by desyring you to lett the Prince know that as if I knew how to use greater meanes of humilitye and submission I would do it, so if I may knowe his will and pleasure, he may be most assured I will do nothing that shall not be conformable to them, but will apply my self really and faythfully to serve him in all thinges; and therefore I pray move him for his goodnesse and favour towards me that by the King and himselfe I may be heard, which is so just a suite as I hope shalbe no longer denyed me. And so, desyring you to sende me three or foure words what his Highness is pleased to answere, I commende you to the holy protection of God.
If Charles had ever fancied that he had to deal with a man who [page x] would, for the sake of Royal favour, renounce the defence of his own honour, he now found out his mistake. An inquiry of some kind, with all its accompanying risks, had become inevitable. A letter from Charles to Buckingham, evidently written about this time, depicts the Prince's anxiety. His father, naturally enough, was against any further proceeding, and Buckingham, struck down for the moment by sickness, was as yet unable to assist him. This letter has long been in print, but an extract from it may well be repeated here in its proper connection:—
Now I must crave your pardon to truble you a little: and it is this; Bristo stands upon his justification, and will by no means accept of my conncells; the King does hait to have him cum to his tryall, and I am affeard that if you be not with us to helpe to charge him, and to set the King right, he may escape with too slight a sencure; therfor I would have you send to the King to put of Bristoes tryall untill you might waite on him; but for God's sake doe not venture to cum suner then ye may with the saftie of your health; and with that condition the suner the better.
The course finally settled on is first mentioned in a letter of the 7th of June:—
My Lord of Bristoll hath had a petition presented by his man Grisley to his Majesty that he may come to his triall, which is answeared that out of hand he shall have Commissioners appointed, and such questions proposed to him as shall draw on the triall he so much desireth. But his frends storme, and are impatient, as well as himself, at these delayes, saying it is to great injustice to punish a man with confinement first, and afterwards to seeke for matter against him.
On the same day, June 7, Conway wrote to Bristol, explaining
the cause of the delay in his business and the course it is now put
into. The Commissioners
appointed to hear his cause were those
before whom the question of breaking the treaties with Spain had
been submitted in the preceding winter.
From a letter of June 8,
written to Conway by Calvert and Weston, it appears that though
certain questions had already been drawn up for the examination by
Conway himself, they had been directed to prepare new ones. To
this task, however, they objected, ostensibly on the ground that
they were perfectly satisfied with the questions which had been
laid before them by Conway. The excuse however was not
allowed, though they were permitted to have Conway's assistance in
In this interval an episode occurred to which Bristol afterwards bitterly referred. In 1626, he stated:—
That the Earl of Bristol's mother lying sick upon her deathbed desired for her comfort to see her son, and to give him her last blessing; whereupon the Earl wrote to the said Lord Conway, to desire him to move the King for his leave; which he putting off from day to day told the person employed that, by reason of the Duke's sickness, he could not find opportunity to get the Duke's leave to move the King, and having spoken with the Duke, he made a negative answer in the King's name; wherewith the Earl acquainting the King by some of his bedchamber, his Majesty was in a very great anger, swearing the secretary had never moved him, and that to deny the said Earl leave was a barbarous part, and thereupon sent him presently free leave; which the secretary hearing of, sent likewise afterwards a letter of leave, but with divers clauses and limitations, differing from the leave sent him from the King's own mouth.
On the 30th of June Bristol received the twenty interrogatories, which, as well as the answers which he made to them, have long [page xii] been known from the Hardwicke State Papers. As he had no difficulty in showing that he had taken no step without the King's previous knowledge or subsequent approbation, the result was simply to fix upon James himself the responsibility for all that had been done.
Bristol's answers were sent in on the 10th or llth of July. The following letter, written a few days later, may serve as an indication of his state of mind at this time:—
I hope his Majesty will be pleased before going the progresse to take some settled course in my bnsinesse, whereunto I shall most willingly submitt my selfe, whatsoever it be, and am most confident of your favour in all thinges that shall singly concerne me, as I am of your justice, and being a trew frend to innocency and cleare through.
I wrote unto you in my last letters to intreate your assistance that this businesse might be passed over, by your reviving and stirring whereof ther wilbe little added to his Majestyes service or any other bodyes content, and therefore I do now most earnestly renew the same sute unto you. I shall no way endeavour to crosse the present courses, nor to stand in the way to displease any; only I labour to appeare an honest man, and not to have bene a disloyall or unworthy servante to so gratious a master, and for this I conceave no man can be offended with me, but that to the contrary I have obligation to do it, though it were with the losse of a thowsand lives.
Bristol afterwards asserted,
and the statement is probably correct,
many of the Commissioners expressed themselves fully satisfied
with his answers. The King too, he says,
Read them all, and was so well satisfied therewith that he sent me word that he would see me. Whereupon the Duke of Buckingham desired his Majesty that [page xiii] I might first answer some four other questions, which being delayed, and I petitioning the King for them to be sent me, his Majesty gave order to have them presently sent. Yet they came not. Divers delays were sought, and at last the Lord Conway wrote me a letter that they were ready, but he thought it better I did accommodate the business.
From the following extract
it appears that
the day before the
King removed from Theobalds, i.e. the 17th of July, Bristol
heard that he was to be questioned further:—
The day that the King removed from Theobalds I received by my wife a sadd message from the Court, being debarred that comfort which I hoped to have received before the progress of kissing his Majesties hands, for that I was in hope his Majestie would have received good satisfaction with those aunswers which I sent to the 20tie questions which were propounded unto me; but I understand his Majesties pleasure is that I should be further interrogated, and therefore I am an humble suitor unto you that such farther questions as his Majestie shalbe pleased to have asked of me may be sent unto me, and I shall not faile to make an honest and trew aunswer to them; neyther indeed can I be at quiett untill I have aunswered to all that I thinke cann be objected against me, for God knoweth that my heart hath been and is soe free from any want of fidellity and zeale to my master's service that a bare narration of the truth will serve for a sufficient aunswer.
My wife did likewise bring me his Majesties leave for some months to the setling of my private estate, which through my long absence and the soddaine death of Sir Robert Seymor, whoe did solely manage it, is much embroyled; and I intend, God willing, on Monday next to begin my journey towards the West, but shall not faile to have some one or other alwaies attending uppon you, to the end that I may from tyme to tyme understand his Majesties pleasure, which I shalbe most ready in all things to obey.
Almost immediately after this letter was written Bristol must
have received intelligence that the threat of further examination
was not to be carried into execution. On the 21st of July Conway
sent him permission to go
down to his country house at Sherborne,
and the letter was either accompanied or immediately followed by
a message from the King
to write but a fair letter unto Buckingham
for a reconciliation, and that I should leave the rest unto
On the 22nd of July Cottington wrote thus:
Yesterday morning Mr. Secretary Conway told me that, in a lettre which he had written to you, your Lordship had now his Majesties leave to goe to Sherborne with order to returne in September; and with all Mr. Secretary desired me to wryght unto your Lordship, and to tell you from him that he had order from his Majestie to send you other articles replying unto your late answers, which he did deferr, of purpose to doe you a favor, therby giving you tyme to worke and procure some fayre accommodation. Butt in case your Lordship shall desire to have those new articles sent you, he wyll then make hast to doe soe.
On the 24th Conway wrote to much the same purpose; and about the same time, or a little earlier, Buckingham himself made a forward step in the matter, as appears from Bristol's statement in 1626:—
The Duke hereupon sent one Mr. Clarke unto me, what fair propositions I should make only to retire into the country, and not come to the Court; but permit his Grace to dispose of the Vice-Chamberlain's place. And I shewing Mr. Clerke, by way of private conference, what papers I had to produce against the Duke, his Grace then required a retractation, which I denied, and so all reconcilement broke off.
The view which Bristol took of the proposal that he should come to an accommodation appears from the following letter:—
Good Mr. Secretary Conway. I have receaved your letters of the 24th of July, and had receaved one from Sir Francis Cottington before much to the same effect, written, as I understand, by your order. I give you many thankes for the favor you are pleased to expresse towards me in seeming to desire a faire accommodation in my businesses, which how much I do desire I have lett you know by my severall letters, and still am a suitor unto you for your assistance and furtherance therin. But for the particulars specified in your letter, as on the one side it yll befitteth me to sollicit to have things further urged, so, on the other syde, his Majesties seeming [page xv] not to be fully satisfied with my answers, I may no way declyne any course his Majestie wilbe pleased to prescribe for his further satisfaction, for in matter of my fidelitye and loyalty towards his Majestie, the Prince and my country, I hope I shall never see that come into comprimize, but shall rather loose my life and fortunes then admitt the least stayne to remayne upon me or myne in that kynde; and the same I knowe yourself would do, and so will all men of honor; and therfore I pray you, yf his Majestie or the Prince remayne with any the least scruple in that kynde, lett no further examination or sifting of me or myne actions be forborne, for I no way doubt but the innocency of my cause will in the end sufficiently justifie me before God, his Majestie, and the world. But in case his Majestie shall receave full satisfaction by the reading of my answers (which I understand he hath not done as yet, but hath only read the abstract, which is very defective), and I am an earnest suitor unto you to be a meanes that wherin he hath any doubt he may see my answer at large, for it may be that thereby all further questions may be spared yf his Majestie shall rest satisfied therwith that I have not fayled in the duties of an honest, loyall, and faythfull servant, I shall humbly cast my self at his Majesties feet for matter of weakenesse or want of abilitye in his service; and then his Majestie may be pleased to command the stay of any further questions. Otherwise, I beseeche you, lett me have them as soon as you please; neither need the preparing of myne answer be, as I hope, any hinderance to any wayes of accommodation, which in the interim I will industriously seeke, yf they may be hearkened unto; and, for that the world taketh notice that my businesses have been much distracted by somewhat that Mr. Clark should say from my mouth unto my Lord Duke, I will intreate you to call for Mr. Clarke, and lett him make you a narration of that which passed betwixt us; and therby you shall see whether I truly sought his Grace's favor or not. For I protest to God, I could not have spoken with more tendernesse, had I spoken unto my Lord's mother, then I did with Mr. Clarke, nor with a greater earnestnesse and desire to be reconcyled really unto my Lord's favour, and to give all assurances for the future of being my Lord's true and faithfull servant. But, it seemeth, things have been much misunderstood, which I so much desired might have beene rectified, that I was a suitor to have wayted upon my Lord in person, which I shall be glad to do at any time, and he shall finde that I will omitt nothing that he can expect from a gentleman and an honest man to winne his good opinion for the future.
So that I shall conclude that I infinitely and primarily desire an accommodation, and that these businesses may be passed by, so that it may be with the satisfaction of his Majestie that I have not fayled towards him in my honesty nor fidelity. But yf therin his Majesty retayne any doubt, I then declyne no further questioning, but desire that I may have those enlargements you speake of with convenient speed sent unto me, and shall prepare myself for any further tryall his Majestie shalbe pleased to call me unto. But yf you shall retayne the said questions I shall then be in hope his Majestie resteth satisfied in the poynts of my fidelitye and honesty; and, for other errors or omissions, I shall willingly cast myself at his Majesties feet, and it [page xvi] shall be seene by the effects how desirous I am to conforme myself in all things that may give satisfaction.
It only remayneth that I intreat the continuance of your favor, and that you wilbe pleased to put to your helping hand to assist a gentleman that in former times faithfully endeavored to serve you, and so really still doth; and you shall ever finde him a gratefull man for the favours you shall do him. So with the remembrance of my humble service, I committ you to God, and rest
Your affectionate kinsman and servante,
London, the 27th of July 1624.
As nothing came of this appeal, Bristol determined to direct a petition to the King himself, dated August 11, pressing for a further examination:—
Humbly sheweth that upon his arrivall in England he was by a letter from Mr. Secretary Conway, bearing date the 26th of Aprill, commanded in your Majesties name to retyre himself to his howse or lodging and not to come to Court or your Majesties presence untill he should have answered to some questions and objections which should be made unto him by such of your Majesties councell as you should appoynt to that purpose, which Mr. Secretary wrote your Majestie would cause to be done with all expedition.
That after the space of two monthes he receaved twenty questions to which he made his humble and present answer in such sort as he hoped would have beene to your Majesties satisfaction. But since the same restrayut hath beene continued upon him, and it hath beene intimated unto him that your Majestie would have some further questions propounded unto him. And your Majesty was pleased to send him word that they should be sent him before you beganne your progress, but as yet there have not beene any such questions sent him. He most humbly beseeches your Majestie that in case there remayne yet any scruple in your Majestie concerning the fidelity of his service you would be pleased to peruse the answer at length as well as the abstract, wherewith he hopeth your Majestie will rest fully satisfied. If not, he then humbly sueth that your Majestie would command that any such questions as your Majestie shall think fitt further to be propounded unto him may be sent unto him, to the end he may prepare his humble and true answer for your Majestie; for that he holdeth it the greatest misfortune that can befall him in this world to live under the cloud of your Majesties disfavor, or to have the loyalty and fidelity wherewith he hath ever served your Majestie to remayne uncleared. And he shall ever, &c.
There the matter seems to have slept for a time. In truth Bristol's position was logically unassailable. If he had done anything worthy of punishment, why was his case not to be investigated? If he had not done any thing worthy of punishment, why was he under restraint? Buckingham—for it is hardily possible to speak of James as anything more than a passive tool in his hands—was forced into the position that it was permissible to punish a man against whom he could prove nothing, simply because he refused to acknowledge himself guilty of that of which he believed himself to be innocent. Except, perhaps, on the occasion of Clerke's visit, Bristol had studiously professed his willingness to pay all becoming deference to the Duke in anything which did not involve the sacrifice of his own reputation. That he had any real intention at this time of bringing those charges against Buckingham which proved so effective in 1626 is not to be believed. On the 23rd of September he wrote to Conway saying, after preferring a request to be allowed to take a house at Bristol for the winter:bfn n="2.40"/>—
I most earnestly desire you to continue your favour towards mee in theis my unfortunate trobles, and especially in usinge your Industrie and creditt in pacifying of my Lord Duke, towards whom I shall willingly apply myself with all respect and service without wronginge my owne innocencie or honor; which if I did not esteeme above all earthly things, I should neither bee worthye of my Lord Duke's favour, nor anie man's els. Herein you shall obliege mee much unto you, and (if I mistake it not) doe his Majestie some service. For I conceave his service will receave litle advantage by stirring or revyvinge of those things which seeme contrarie to the wayes nowe held, only therby the ruine of an ancient faithfull servaunt of his Majestie may bee aymed at, whoe noe way doubteth but hee shall prove himself a right honest man.
To the request to pass the winter at Bristol no answer was for
some weeks returned. Accordingly, on the 26th of October the
Earl announced his intention of going back to London, begging
Conway that, as he understood that he
should take something ill
hands, he hoped he would suspend any unkind opinion
of him till he had heard his answer,
for an absent and unharmed
man is very liable to be wronged.
The reply to this letter
brought him permission to remove to Bristol, a permission of which
he does not seem to have taken advantage. At all events, he
was still at Sherborne in the following January, where we again
find him, as the two following letters show, asking for what ought
have been the natural consequence of this abandonment of all
intention to proceed against him criminally, namely, his immediate
restoration to liberty:
May it please your Grace. My dewty to the King and respect to your Grace maketh me addresse my suite unto his Majestie by the way which I thinke will most please him, and therfore I have presumed to send the inclosed letter unto his Majestie into your Grace's handes, together with a coppye of it, that yow may see the contence therof, which I doubt not but your Grace will hold so just and reasonable that, in regard of the place you hold, you would present it to his Majestie though it were from your greatest enimy, much more from one that hath and doth seake your favour by so manye meanes: and so, with the humble remembrance of my service to your Grace, I committ you to God's holy protection.
May it please your Most Excellent Majestie. The knowledge that I have had of your Majesties exact justice, and the assured confidence of your great goodnesse makes me presume still to be a most humble suitor unto your Majestie that I may enjoye the benefitt of your gratious promise which you have beene pleased so often out of your goodnesse to make unto me, vizt. that I should never be condemned by you, nor sink in your favor and good opinion, untill you should first personally have heard me. God in heaven knoweth with how much zeale and affection I have poursued those things which I understood to conduce to your Majesties ends; and if [page xix] I have in any thing beene unfaithfull unto you, I desire not to live. I only crave after twenty years service to have a gratious hearing by you in your owne due time and season. And that, in the interim (since your Majestie hath not beene pleased to admit me in the nature of a delinquent,) I may live with the comfort to knowe that your Majestie doth suspend your displeasure and any yll opinion of me, untill you shall have heard me, and that it may be lawfull for me freely, without giving offence, to followe and sollicitt myne owne occasions; myne owne private estate being so much ymbroyled by my long absence and the death of those that mannaged it for me, that yf I be debarred the personall attending of it, I am like to be much endangered in my private fortunes. But I submitt all to your Majesties good pleasure; and continually praying for your Majesties happinesse and prosperitye, cast myself at your Majesties feet, and remayne
Your Majesties most humble and most faythfull subject and servant
Sherborne, the 13th of January, 1624.
Of Buckingham's reply, written on the 2nd of February, only the following note has been preserved:—
In answer wherof the Duke in his letter of the 2d of Feb. writeth thus:— That hee delivered his lordship's letter to the Kinge, who was gratiously pleased to give him liberty to repayre to London for the ordering of his owne private businesses.
The paper inclosed, which contains the Duke's demands, is however of greater importance than the letter itself can possibly have been:—
A paper sent in a letter bearing date the 2. of Feb. 1626, from the Duke of Buckingham unto the Earl of Bristol, conteyning certeine propositions, the which the Duke requireth that the sayde Earl would acknowledge.
I protest that what I delivered in the Parliament touching the passages of the Spanish businesse was without any malicious intent against the Earl of Bristol, but only to performe in the best and playnest manner I could, according to the truth, his Majesties command to give satisfaction to his subjects. Since which tyme, if I have urged that which I then delivered, and other thinges which I knew to bee trew, but spared them at that tyme, it was uppon the Earl's owne provocation by framing accusations against mee, which hee cannot blame mee, if for myne owne justification I retorted them uppon himselfe.[page xx]
But now the great desire the Earl of Bristol hath expresse[d] to bee reconciled to mee, and his profession that hee will omitt nothing in his power that may conduce unto it, shall bee mett with all the humanitie that can be expected on my part, admitting a more right construction of the condition and state of the questions. For it is an assertion not graunted, that the Earl of Bristol by his answers hath satisfied eyther the King, the Prince, or mee of his innocency. Neyther is it my duty, nor, though it were, lyeth it in my power to endeavour the Earles reconciliation with the King and Prince, and to procure his admittance to kisse their handes, untill hee shall have freely and ingeniously confessed these undeniable thinges.
* * * * *
Which errors in judgment and confidence as the Earl doth ingeniously confesse them, so doth hee protest they came not from malice nor want of fayth, but from an earnest and misledd zeale to endeavor by all meanes his masters ends (as he conceived) and therfor prayes his Majesties and the Prince of their grace to passe by and pardon them.
This beeing donne (without which I cannot presse his Majestie nor his Highness), to prove I have no personall mislike of the Earl of Bristoll, I will imploy my force and power with the King and the Prince to admitt the Earl in due tyme to kisse their handes, and to receive him to their gratious favour.
There is here a distinct withdrawal of any charge except that of being guilty of an error in judgment, and therefore, it may safely be concluded, a no less distinct acknowledgment that no charge could be maintained against him to which any court would be likely to listen. But in spite of this the restraynt which ought only to be inflicted either as a punishment for proved crime, or as a precaution preliminary to investigation, was to be continued until Bristol would give a certificate to the Duke of the correctness of charges which had been abandoned.
How Bristol answered the demand, the following letter shows:—
May it please your Grace, I have receaved your letter of the 2nd of February, by my cosen Sir Kenelam Digbye, and am much rejoyced to see in your Grace so forward an inclination to doe me favour uppon the acknowledgment of supposed errours. For that I am so confident of your noblenesse that you wilbe much more encouraged [page xxi] to imploye your power for me towards his Majesty and the Prince, if you shall see them apparently cleared. And I understand the paper of propositions which your Grace hath bene pleased to send me not as faults injoyned me to acknowledge for I am confident no such course can be thought of, but as particulars wherein your Grace yet resteth unsatisfyed. And therefore I shall speedily endeavour your Grace's satisfaction, which yf [it] shall not goe beyond all reply, I will most readily make acknowledgment of any errour, and most humbly begge his Majestye and the Prince pardon; as in the mean tyme I do on my knees for any errour or omission I may have committed in their service, either through wante of abilitye, or for wante of a right understanding of their pleasure.
I do most humbly beseech your Grace to poursue this woorke which you have begunn, to which on my parte I shall contribute all that shall be possible, and shall receave from your Grace this new obligation with so much thankfulnesse that I hope your Lordship for the future shall not have cause to repente the favour you shall do me.
It only remaineth that I give your Grace humble thankes for your favour in procuring me liberty to attend mayne owne affayres, for that in trewth no man's private estate in Eugland at present more requireth it, yet I shall make use of it with that respect unto his Highness and your Grace that, if my forbearing to repayre to London be more aggreable to you, I shall much rather undergoe any inconveniency in my particular then to do any thing that in the least manner might be displeasing unto you. So with my humble service unto your Lordship I commit you to the holy protection of God.
Of a later letter written by the Duke on the 16th we have only the following paragraph:—
I have likewise acquainted his Highness with the respect you show towards him about your comming to London, which hee taketh very well; and, for the regard you bear unto me in the same point, I give your Lordship many thankes: but wish you not to neglect your own occasions uppon that consideration, but to make use of the libertye which his Majestie hath gratiouslye pleased to graunt you.
To this Bristol replied:—
May it please your Grace, I have received your Grace's letter of the 16th of Feb., and am putting myself in a readines to repaire to London, where I am in hope your Grace will not denye mee leave to attend you, which I muche desire to doe; for that I doubt not but in all things to give your Grace much satisfaction.
My stay in London I intend for a verye short tyme, and being unprovided of any [page xxii] lodging there, and the taking of a howse for a few daies being verye hard and inconvenient, I presume to move your Grace to know whether I may not without offence goe to my lodging at Whitehall, whereto I am the more encouraged for that the last sommer his Majestie would not admitt me in nature of a delinquent (as he was then gratiously pleased to say) untill I had appeared soe; and I hope his Majestie wilbe pleased to have the like gratiouse consideration in this particular, which I am the more confident of through your Grace's favour, which I earnestly intreate your Grace to believe that I will really and honestly endeavour to regaine by all the meanes a gentleman may. And soe, with the remembrance of my humble service unto your Grace, I remain
Your Grace's most humble servante,
Sherborne, the 27th of Feb. 1624.
After some further correspondence, now lost, in which the Duke continued to insist upon a distinct acknowledgment of error, Bristol sent instead the detailed answer to the propositions to which he had been asked to subscribe, which is now printed in the text as No. II. It was accompanied by the two following letters, one addressed to Sir Kenelm Digby, who had been acting as intermediary in the affair, the other to Buckingham himself:—
Good Cosen, I give you thankes for your paynes in my businesse, in which whatsoever the success shallbee, my obligation to you shallbee the same.
I was in hope by your letter that ther had bene expected from mee an answer only to those points which were brought mee by you from my Lord Duke; but it seemes by a letter I have receaved from his Grace, as likewise by a message sent mee since from him by Mr. Gresley, that nothing will serve the turne but that I [page xxiii] make the acknowledgment that is required by subscribing the paper that was sent mee. And so likewise the libertye which I besought of his Majestie to follow freely myne owne affayres (for that was my request, and not to come to London), which I understoode had bene graunted mee by his Majestye, my Lord Duke now sendeth mee word that if I come to London I must understand myselfe to be a restrained man, untill I have made such an acknowledgment as is required. My present request I hope shallbee but modest, which is only that I may know cleerly what his Majesties pleasure is, to the end I may not fall into errour, and I shall most willingly and readily obey it whatsoever it shallbee, no way doubting but his Majestie in his owne dew tyme will afford mee a gratious and an equall hearing. In the interim I have sent you my answer to the propositions, which I intreat you to present unto his Majestie and to his Grace, if they may bee accepted, as I can no way doubt but they will, for I conceave it will seeme to hard and to unjust a course under his Majesties gratious goverment to have it injoyned to a gentleman to acknowledg faults hee is no way guilty of.
I shall intreat you further, as you have allready taken much paynes in this businesse, that you will deliver this message from mee to the Duke, that as I have (since I applyed myself to bee reconciled unto his Grace's favour) omitted nothing that mighte expresse my respect unto him, so I doe really still poursue the desire of regayning his good opinion and friendshipp, and, if I shalbee so happy as to obtayne it, I will honestly endeavour by my best services to deserve the continewance of it, and therefore I entreat his Grace not to insist or presse mee to those thinges which would make mee for the future incapable of his Majesties favour and unworthy of his friendshipp; but that if hee intende in any kinde to favour mee, that hee would doe it in a noble manner, whereby I may bee obliged trewly and hartely to love and serve him, for otherwise I shall in respect of myne honor and defence of myne innosencye undervalew any earthly regards whatsoever, and trust to God's protection, his Majesties justice, and the goodnesse of my cause; and so, desiring to heare from you with all convenient speed, I recommend you to God, and rest
Your affectionate Cosen to doe you service,
Sherborne, the 16th of March, 1624.
May it please your Grace, Hopinge that your noblenes and equitye wilbe such as a trew and cleare answere wilbe more acceptable to your Grace then an unjust acknowledgment, I have entreated Sir Kenelham Digby to deliver unto your Grace my answers unto the propositions which he brought unto me from you; and humbly beseech your Grace to cast your eyes over them, and if there shalbee any thing wherein your Grace shall rest unsatisfied, I intreat your Grace to give me leave to attend yow; wher I shall endeavour not onely to satisfie yow in these particulars, but that I truely and unfainedly seeke your Grace's favour, to which if I may uppon faire and noble termes be admitted, your Grace shall finde me for the future a faithfull and reall servaunt to you to the utmost of my power: but if I must be [page xxiv] soe unhappy as these my humble seekings of your Grace may not finde acceptance (although I conceive my ruyne an easie worke for youre greatnes,) I shall with patience and humility endeavor to beare whatsoever God shalbe pleased to lay uppon me as punishments for other sinns committed against Him, but not against my master, whome I take God to record I have served both with exact fidelitye and affection. And soe, recommending your Grace to His holy protection, I rest
Your Graces most humble servante,
Sherborne, this 16th of March, 1624.
What followed may be given in Bristol's own words:—
Upon this I petitioned the late King that I might be at liberty to follow my affairs freely, to which his Majesty condescended unto, and signified his pleasure by the Duke that he was satisfied, and therefore I had my freedom. But when I had an intent to come to my lodging at Whitehall, and made the Duke acquainted therewith, he seemed much displeased thereat, and moved his Majesty that I might firste make an acknowledgment of my fault, which his Majesty refused to compel me unto; saying he might then be thought a tyrant to force a man to acknowledge that which he was not guilty of; and his Majesty sent me word that I should make no acknowledgment unless I would freely confess myself guilty. Yet the Duke caused a message to be sent me that his Majesty expected that I should make the said acknowledgment, and confess myself guilty. And thus it stood with me when the late King, my blessed master, sickened and died.
It would have been well for Charles if his father's last wishes had not been overruled by Buckingham. No doubt, in the main point, Charles and Buckingham were right, and Bristol was wrong. It was quite true that the Spaniards had not intended, if they could help it, to marry the Infanta to a Protestant Prince, or to restore the Palatinate to a Protestant Elector. But when the new King and his favourite, instead of contenting themselves with insisting on the correctness of their views, refused to be satisfied with anything short of an acknowledgment that Bristol had allowed his mistake to influence his conduct, they were meeting him upon a ground upon which he was sure to get the better of them. The five answers [page xxv] handed in in March had effectually disposed of Buckingham's attack, and had shown that Bristol had been authorised by the late King in every step he took, and that unless Charles was prepared to say that it was a punishable crime for an ambassador to utter his opinion freely, if that opinion happened to be wrong, he had better carry out his father's wishes by allowing Bristol to recover his liberty entirely.
Immediately upon James's death Bristol wrote to Charles and his favourite, begging for permission to cast himself at his Majesty's feet. Charles seemed ready to meet his advances half-way.
Bristol afterwards declared that:—
When his Majesty that now is came to the Crown, he was pleased to send me a gracious message upon the occasion of a great sickness I had, and my writ of Parliament was freely sent me; but, out of respect, I desired to know what would best please the King, my coming, or my stay from the Parliament. And the Duke of Buckingham did write unto me that his Majesty took that respect very well at my hands, but would have me excuse my coming, for which I craved a letter of licence from the Parliament. Instead whereof I recieved from the Lord Conway a letter of prohibition and restraint and confinement, under the King's own hand, whereas before I was restrained only by the Lord Conway.
Buckingham's letter here referred to was written on the 2nd of May, and concluded thus:—
I have acquainted his Majestie with your respect towards him touching your summons to the Parliament, which hee taketh very well, and would rather have you make some excuse for your absence (notwithstanding your writt) then to come yourselfe in person.
Upon this Bristol made fresh overtures through Sir Kenelm Digby, the result of which appears from the following letter:—
May it please your Lordship. As soone as I came to the towne I went to my Lord [page xxvi] Chamberlaine, and saide unto him what your Lordship bade me. He expressed much feeling of your Lordship's sicknes, and made a seriouse profession of his faith and frendshipp to your Lordship, and that, yf God should please to call yow, he would continew it to your sonne. The next morning (to day) he brought me to the King, whoe gave me a gratiouse and full audience, and I delivered to his Majestie the message that yow gave me as effectually as I could, to draw from him some testimony of his affection towards your Lordship. And truely, my Lord, he did receive the newes of your ill state with much tendernes and asked me many particulars how yow were, and bade me hasten to lett your Lordship know he was very sorry for your sickness; and protested in the deepest manner that might be that he hadd no personall displeasure or grudge, these were his words, against your Lordship; but that he held yow to be an honest and sufficient man, and one that loved him, and had endeavoured his service really, and should be gladd of any good that arrived to yow. And in the other point concerninge your buisenes, he would not have your Lordship conceive that he thinketh yow to be a delinquent, and to have offended in any matter of honesty, or not performance of what was commaunded yow: for, if that had beene, then this course that hath been should not have been used with yow, but yow should have been committed to the Tower, and brought to a publique tryall; but the true cause why your Lordship is thus in suspense and removed from the Court is because your Lordship in the treaty of the Spanish match (he thinketh) was so desireous of it and soe passionate for it (as he confesseth himself was also, after he hadd scene the lady) that yow trusted more to the Spanish ministers and theire promises then was fitting in discretion; and, although your Lordship, on the other side, carried it soe judiciously that yow can be taxed for nothing in publique court, but can justifie yourself, and make the Spaniard appeare to be dishonest, and soe free yourself, yet between him and yow he doubteth not but your Lordship will acknowledg yow were too forward and confident in it, which if your Lordship doe lyve and doe make acknowledgment of unto him, yow shall then, without more adoe, kiss his hands and lyve in peace and with honor; and, in the meane tyme he would have your Lordship beleeve he hath a good opinion of yow, and loveth yow, and will be glad to heare of your recoverye. Then, of himself, he sayde that peradventure your Lordship might suspect that your freeness with him might prejudice yow; for, he sayde, yow had been as free with him as ever any man had been, but he protested uppon his death and salvation that he never communicated to any body any thing that your Lordship ever spoke to him in that way of freeness and privacye. And, for what concerned himself, he was soe farr from taking it in evill part, that, were it for nothing els, he were obliged to love yow for your honesty, and he ever dealed plainly and truely with your Lordship. Therefore, whatsoever be at any tyme saide unto yow, yow may be confident was from his heart, and he approoved of all yow ever saide to him, but onely once, which he never had told to any one but to me then, and yow would remember it by these tokens. Your Lordship shewed him a [page xxvii] little before his goeiug out of Spayne a letter, wherein yow writt of the Duke of Buckingham, which he misliked, and told your Lordship yow expressed much spleen against the Duke, and therefore would have yow alter it. The letter yow sent away, without first shewing it unto him; but when he returned to England he saw it, and found yow had altered it much after the manner that he badd yow. His Majestie alsoe told me that, though yow much desired the match, yet he thinkcth yow did not labour soe effectually as yow might have done to effect what he soe extreamely desired, which was to have the Infanta then along with him; and whilest the Duke and Conde de Olivares were good frends, and that yow were fallen out with the Conde (which he sayd was indeed for being an honest man to him) yow were very cold in solliciting that particular; but that, assoone as the Conde and Duke were fallen out (which was not personall betwixt them, but cawsed by the buiseness, and for his Majesties service) your Lordship was instantly frends with the Conde, without recapitulating any buiseness of the quarrell, or receiving satisfaction for the wrong he had done yow; wherein, his Majestie sayth, he discovered much yll will in yow to the Duke, and an aptness in yow to be over confident in the Spaniards, when theire promises concurred with your desires.
The sum and conclusion of his Majesties discourse was that, personally, he hath a very good affection to your Lordship, and the error which he conceiveth to be committed by yow is such that the least acknowledgment shall expiate it, and then yow shall have his favour againe as before. I hope this relation will bring much content unto your Lordship, espetially I telling yow that the King seemed to me to speake it very affectionately, and much resenting your sickness, which I pray God soone to free yow of, that yow may in due tyme take notice to his Majestie of what I write to your Lordship as yow shall thinke fitt. And soe, with remembraunce of my humble service to your Lordship, I rest
Your Lordship's most faithfull servaunt,
London, 27th May, 1625.
Charles had thus reduced his demands to the simplest form. Bristol was to give a private acknowledgment that he had been mistaken. But this was precisely what, as a truthful man, he could not do, as long as he was unconvinced that he had been mistaken. We have not before us Bristol's reply to his cousin's letter, but there can be no doubt that it was in the negative, and that it was this which caused Charles to take the unwise step of once more inforcing Bristol's confinement.[page xxviii]
The following letter, which appears in Bristol's narrative as a thunderbolt in a clear sky, may thus be satisfactorily accounted for:—
Right trustye and well beeloved Cousin, wee greete you well. Wheras our late deare Father of most glorious memory did for some causes restraine you to your house, and that wee have not as yett had tyme to take notice therof, or give order for disposing of you otherwayes; our pleasure is that you remayne under the same restraint and confinement as you were ordered to by our late deare Father, untill wee shall give further direction. And wee doe by these our letters excuse your not comming to our Parliament, and will that you forbeare to come thither our writt of summons, or anything therein contayned to the contrary nottwithstanding and these our letters shallbee your sufficient warrant and dischardge in this behalfe.
The letter was characteristic of Charles. It was just like him to be stung by a refusal to make an acknowledgment of error to himself, and just like him to give as a reason for the fresh infliction, that he had "not as yett had time to take notice of" Bristol's fault, though he knew perfectly well that Bristol had no intention of coming up to the Parliament, and that he could therefore have as much time to consider the matter as he pleased.
The next letter which we have from Bristol refers merely to the former and more polite request to refrain from coming up to London:—
May it please your Grace. Having received soe positive an answer from your Grace by your letters of the 2d of May, it may seeme unmannerlines in me further to importune yow, but that I am contented to incurr that censure, rather then not to doe the utmost that is in my power to lett your Grace and the world see with how much earnestnesse and respect I have and doe seeke your Grace's favour, the which if I may be soe happeie as to obtaine, I will not faile for the future to make good those professions of thankfulnesse and service I have made unto your Grace. And soe hoping that your Grace will at last afford him favour whoe ommitteth noe meanes of seeking it, I recommend your Grace to God's holy protectione, and rest
Your Grace's most humble servant,
Sherborne, the 17th of Julye, 1625.
Months passed on, and there were no signs that Charles intended
to find time to consider Bristol's case. In January 1626, when
the Coronation was approaching, the Earl made another move. He
wrote a humble letter to his Majesty and the Duke,
accompanied by one to Conway, which, with its inclosed extracts, has
alone been preserved.
My very good Lord, I am loathe to be a trouble to your Lordship with my unfortunate businesse; yet, in regard that all restraintes that were laid uppon me in his late Majesties tyme of happie memorie were onlie under your Lordship's hand, and that by a letter which Sir William Beecher sent unto me the last summer bearing date the tenth day of June, signed by his Majestie, wherby I was commanded not to come to the Parliament, and likewise charged to remayne under the same restraints as I was in the time of the King his father, to no other end but that I may not fall into errour or blame, the same restrainte having beene enjoined me at severall tymes, and by severall letters, I have appointed this bearer to attend you with true coppies of them all, and with a note how I understande them; and shall receave it as an especiall favour from your Lordship clearelie to understand in what condition I stand in pointe of my said restraiute. For beeing resolved not in anie one tittle to transgresse or sworve from his Majesties royall pleasure, I should be sorrie to committ anie errour through mistaking, and therefore am bold to crave this curtesie at your Lordship's hands. I have presumed against this happye tyme of his Majesties Coronation to bee an humble suitor unto his Majestie for his favour. The coppie of the letter I have written this bearer will shew unto your Lordship, and I shall therein crave your helpe and assistance, and shall labour to deserve it by the best services I shall bee able to do your Lordship, to whome I wish much happines, and remayne your Lordship's affectionate servante and kinsman.
Sherborne, the 12th of Jenuary 1625.
In point of fact Charles had made a blunder. When in his
letter of June 10 he ordered Bristol to remain
under the same
restraint and confinement as you were ordered by our late deare
Father, he had forgotten that James had, before his death,
permitted the Earl to come to London if he pleased. Either,
therefore, the King must himself impose a new restraint without being
able to allege a shadow of reason for it, or he would have to see
Bristol amongst the peers in the Parliament which could not long
be delayed, a prospect which was all the more annoying, as he
seems to have fancied that Bristol had some hand in instigating the
opposition to the vote of supplies for the expedition to Cadiz in the
Charles at once flashed into anger. The next letter put an end to all prospect of reconciliation:—
Wee hare recyved your letter addrest to us by Buckingham, and we cannot but wonder that you should, through forgettfulnes, make such a request to us of favour, as if you stood evenly capable of it, when you knowe what your behaviour in Spaine deserved of us; which you are to examine by the observations wee made, and knowe you will remember how at our first coming into Spaine, taking upon you to bee soe wise as to foresee our intentions to chaunge our religion, you were soe farre from disswading us that you offered your service and secrecy to concurre in it, and in many other open conferences, pressing to shew how convenient it was for us to bee a Romaine Catholick, it being impossible, in your opinion, to doe any greate action otherwise. How much wrong, disadvantage and disservice you did to the treaty, and to the right and interest of our deare brother and sister, and theire children; what disadvantage, inconvenience, and hazard you intangled us in by your artifices, puttings off, and delaying our returne home; the great estimation you made of that State, and the vile price you sett this kingdome at, still mainteyning that wee under colour of freindshipp to Spaine, did what was in our power against them, which (you said) they knew very well; and last of all, your approving of those conditions that our nephew should bee brought up in the Emperour's Court, to which Sir Walter Aston then said, he durst not give his consent for feare of his head, you replying to him that without some such greate action neither marriage nor peace could bee had. Given at our Pallace at Westminster the 20th of January in the first year of our raigne.
As might be expected, we find Bristol in his next letter treating these charges, which he believed himself to be perfectly well able to answer, to be tantamount to a declaration of the King's intention to bring him to trial. To Conway he writes:—[page xxxi]
Good Cosen. This bearer, W. Gresly, wilbe able to tell yow all that I can say of the estate of my unfortunate bussinesse, wherin having done all that I can thinke of by way of humiliation, I must now attend with patience God's will and his Majestyes: for on my part I can do no more, only defende my innocency the best I shalbe able, when I shalbe called to any tryall, which I confesse, if my humble seekings and submissions may not take place, I should be gladd were as speedye and as publicke as might be; but, Cosen, I shall continew them, and so shall my wife at her coming upp. And I intreate yow to doe the like with my Lord Duke uppon all occasions yow can lay hold of. There is further on particular wherin I shall intreate your kindnesse. I heare my Lord Duke should be informed that I should plott and combyne with some parlament men that seemed adverse to his Grace at Oxford, and that theruppon should of late be much incensed agaynst me. Herein, Cosen, I shall intreate yow to give his Grace satisfaction on my behalfe, which yow may do as trewly as ever was in any businesse, for I take God to recorde I never would have to do since I came into Englande with anything belonging to Parlament, nor never attempted anything to the Duke's prejudice. The particular W. Gresley will tell yow by woord of mouth, being to long for a letter; but I intreate yow to deale very effectually, for although my Lord Duke should ruyne me to-morrow, yet for trewth sake I should be gladd he were satisfyed herein. And so, not having wherwith further to troble yow for the present, I remember my love and service to yow, and remayne
Your most affectionate Cosen to serve you,
6th of Feb. 1625.
Conway's reply of the 25th has not been preserved. But it may be gathered from Bristol's answer that the King still hoped to draw from him, in a roundabout way, some acknowledgment of having been at fault. The rest of the correspondence speaks for itself, and may be given without further comment:
My Lord, I have received your letter of the 25th of Feb. and therin a commandment in his Majesties name to make acleere and plaine answere, whether I desire to rest in the securitye I am now in, and to acknowledge the gratious favour of his late Majestie and of his which now is, who have bene pleased not to question my actions, &c. Hereunto I have laboured exactly to obey, but finde that a playne and cleere answere cannot possibly be made untill there bee a cleere understanding of the thing propounded; so that I must crave pardon if my answeare be not as cleare as I could wish it, for I must freely acknowledge that I in no way understand what [page xxxii] is meant by the security I am now in, whether it be the present estate I am in or not. Yf it be soe, I conceave a man cannot be under a harder condition. For your Lordshipp knoweth that, by order, my person is restrained, and you were pleased lately to send me word that you would not advise me to make use of the liberty which his late Majestie had given me of comming to London, allthough it were only to follow my private affaires, and for the recovery of my decayed health. I stand likewise prohibited to come to the Court or to the King's presence (I passe by the being removed from all my places and offices, and whollie depending upon his Majesties Royall pleasure), but being a Peere of this realme I have not only by commandment bin formerly staid from the Parliament, but of late by writt have bene deteyned as though my honour were forfeited. And this is truely the condition which I am now in; but I cannot imagine that this is the securitie is intended I should rest in, but am in hope that the securitie intended is, that I may for the future in joy the libertie of a free subject, and the priviledges of a Peere of the Kingdome, which being soe, I shall with all humility acknowledge his Majesties grace and favour, and be ready to serve him with all fidelitie, even to the laying downe of my life, not thincking it to stand with the duty of a subject to presse his being questioned, since such being the pleasure of his soveraigne yt were not in the power of any subject to avoid it. But in case his Majestie shalbe pleased to bring me to any legall trjall, I shall most willingly and dutyfully submitt myselfe thereunto, and doubt not but my innocency in the end willbe my best mediator for his Majesties future favour. And in that case I am a suitor that my writt of Parliament as a Peere of the Realme may be sent unto me, and that my present repaire unto London may not displease his Majestie.
And as for the pardon of the 21th Regis Jacobi, which you mention I should renounce, I know that the justest and most cautious man living may through omission or ignorance offend the lawes, so that, as a subject, I shall not disclaime any benefitt which commeth in the generall, as it doth usually to all other subjects of the kingdome. But as for any crime in particular that may trench upon my imployments in pointe of loyaltie, fidelitie, or want of affection to the King or State, I know my innocency to be such that I am confident I shall not neede that pardon.
I shall conclude with a most humble suite unto your Lordshipp that out of your noblenesse, and that friendshipp that hath bene betwixt us, you will use your best indeavours both with his Majestie and the Duke that these unfortunate businesses may be passed over, by the renewing whereof I can see little use that can be made but the adding to a man's misfortunes allready sufficiently humbled; for I am ready to doe all that a man of honour and honestie may doe; but rather then to doe any thing that may be prejudiciall to me in that kind, to suffer whatsoever it shall please God to send, and so, with the remembrance of my humble service unto your Lordshipp, I recommend you to God's holy protection, and rest,
Your Lordshipp's most humble servant,
Sherborne Lodge, the 4th of March, 1625.
My Lord. I receaved a letter from your Lordship, dated the 4th of this moneth, written in answere to a former which I directed to your Lordship by his Majesties commandment. This last lettre, according to my duty, I have shewed unto his Majestie, whoe hath perused it, and hath commaunded me to write hack unto you again, that he findes himself nothing satisfyed therewith. The question propounded to your Lordship from his Majestie was plaine and cleere: Whether you did rather chuse to sitt still without beeing questioned for any errors passed in your negotiation in Spaine, and enjoye the benefite of the late gratious pardon graunted in Parliament, whereof you may have the benefites; or whether, for the cleering of your innocency (whereof yourself and your freinds and followers are soe confident) you will bee contented to wave the advantage of that pardon, and putt yourself in a legal way of examination for the tryal thereof? His Majesties purpose is not to prevent you of any favours the lawe hath given you; but, if your assurance be such as your words and letter import, he conceaveth it stands not with that publique and resolute profession of your integrity to decline your trial. His Majesty leaves the choice to yourself, and requires from you a direct answere without circumlocution or bargaining with him for future favors beforehand; but if you have a desire to make use of that pardon which cannot be denyed to you, nor is any way desired to bee taken from you, his Majestie expects you should, at the least, forbeare to magnifie your service, and out of an opinion of your owne innocency cast an aspersion upon his Majesties justice, in not affording you that present fullness of liberty and favour which cannot be drawn from him but in his owne good time and according to his good pleasure.
That much I have in commandment to write to your Lordship, and to require your answer clearly and plainly by this messenger sent on purpose for it, [and so remain
Your Lordship's humble servant,
Whitehall, 24th March, 1625.
My Lord. I have receaved your letter of the 24th of March, on the 28th; and I am infinitely greived to understand that my former answeare to yours of the 4th of March hath not satisfied his Majestie, which I will endeavour to do by this, to the best of my understanding; and to that end shall answeare to the particular pointes of your present letter with the greatest cleerenesse I am able.
First, whereas you say in your letter that the question propounded to me was [page xxxiv] plaine and cleere, vizt.:—Whether I would rather choose to sitt still without being questioned for any errours past in my negociation in Spayne, or enjoy the benefitt of the late gratious pardon, whereof I may take the benefitt, or whether, being contented to wave the advantage of that pardon, I would put myselfe into a legall way of examination for the trial thereof etc.?
1o, Your Lordship may be pleased to remember that your last proposition was:— Whether I desired to rest in the securitye I mas in, which you now expresse:— Whether I will choose to sitt still etc.
2lie, Your proposition was whether I would acknowledge the gratious favour of his late Majestie and his Majestie that now is, whoe had bin pleased not to question my actions, when it is best knowne unto your Lordship that by a commission of the Lords I was questioned upon 20tie articles, divers involving felonye and treason, allthough it be true that, when I had soe answeared as I am most confident their Lordships would have cleered me, I was soe unhappie as theire Lordshipps never mett more about the businesse.
But now your proposition is:—Whether I will choose to sitt still without being further questioned for errors past, whereas before it was required I should acknowledge that I had not bin questioned at all, which is a very different thing. But conferring both your Lordship's letters together, and gathering the sence and meaning by making the latter an explication of the former, which I could have wished your Lordship would have more cleerely explayned, I returne unto your Lordship this plaine and direct answeare:—
That understanding by the securitie I am in, and sitting still, and not being further questioned, that I am restored and lefte to the bare freedome and libertie of a subject and peere (for a man being called into question by his Majestie, yf afterwards his Majestie shall be pleased out of his goodnesse that he rest quiett and secure, and that he shall not be further questioned, I conceave it is most apparent that his libertie naturally revolveth to him when by his Majesties grace he is pleased to declare he shall not be further questioned, but may live in securitie,) soe that understanding your Lordship's letter in this sorte, (for noe direct answeare can be made untill the sence of the question be truly stated,) I doe most humbly acknowledge and accept his Majesties grace and favour, and shall not wave any benefitt that may come unto me by the pardon of the 21 Ja. nor of the pardon of his Majesties happie coronation; and I am soe farre from bargaining (as you are pleased to expresse it) for future favour (though I hope my humble and submissive course of petitioning of his Majestie neither hath nor shall deserve soe hard an expression), that I shall not presume soe much as to presse his Majestie for any special favour, untill my dutifull and loyall behaviour may moove his royall and gratious harte thereunto; but receave with all humblenesse this my freedome and libertie, the which I shall likewise only make use of in such sorte, as I shall judge may bee most agreeable to his Majesties pleasure.[page xxxv]
As for the seacond parte of youre letter, wherein yow say:—That if I desire to make use of that pardon, his Majestie expects that I should, at least, forbeare to magnifie my services, or out of an opinion of my owne innocencye cast any aspersion upon his Majesties justice, etc. To this pointe I answeare, that, as I hope I shall never erre in that sort of immodestie of valuing of my services which I acknowledge to have ben accompanyed with infinite weakenesses and disabilities, soe I hope it shall not displease that I make use to my owne comfort and the honour of my posteritye of those many written testemonyes which my late most blessed master hath lefte me of his gratious acceptance of my services for the space of 20tye yeares. Soe likewise I hope the modest avowing of my innocencye will not be thought to cast any aspersion upon his Majesties honour or justice. And I must freely confesse unto your Lordship that I am much afflicted to see inferrencyes of this nature made, both in your Lordship's last letter and in this. For if it shall be inferred as a thing reflecting upon the King's honour that a man questioned, before he be convict, shall endeavour to defend his owne innocencye, it will be impossible for any man to be safe, for the honour of his Majestie is too sacred a thing for any subject, how innocent soever, to contest against. Soe likewise, God forbidd that it should be brought into consequence, as in your former letter, as a taxe upon the government and justice of his late Majestie or of his Majestie that now is, that I should have suffred soe long yf I were not guiltie. For as I have never bin heard soe much as to repine of injustice in theire Majesties in all my suffrings, soe I well know that the long continuance of my troubles may well be attributed unto other causes, as to myne owne errours of passion or other accidents. And your Lordship may well remember that my affayres were almost two yeares since upon the pointe of a happie accommodation, had it not bin interrupted by the unfortunate mistaking of the speeches used to Mr. Clarke.
I shall conclude by the intreating of your Lordship's favour that I may understand from you, as I hope, for my comfort, that this letter hath given his Majestie satisfaction, or if there should yet remayne any scruple, that I may have a cleere and plaine signification of the King's pleasure, which I shall obey with all humilitie; and soe I leave your Lordship to God's most holy proteccion, resting
Your Lordship's humble servant,
Sherborne, the 30th of March, 1626.
My very good Lord. By his Majesties commandment I herewith send unto your Lordship your writ of summons for the Parliament; but withall signify his Majesties pleasure herein further that, howsoever he gives way to the awarding of the writ, yet his meaning is thereby not to discharge any former directions for restraint of your Lordship's coming hither, but that you continue under the same restriction as you did before; so as your Lordship's personal attendance is to be forborn, and [page xxxvi] therein I doubt not but your Lordship will readily give his Majestie satisfaction; and so I commend my service very heartily unto your Lordship, and remain
Your Lordship's assured friend and servant,
THO. COVENTRY, C.S.
Dorset Court, March 31, 1626.
May it please your Lordship. I have received your Lordship's letter of the 31 of March, and with it his Majesties writ of summons for the Parliament. In the one his Majesty commandeth me that, all excuses set aside, upon my faith and allegiance I fail not to come and attend his Majesty; and this under the great seal of England. In the other, as in a letter missive, his Majesties pleasure is intimated by your Lordship, that my personal attendance should be forborn. I must crave leave ingeniously to confess unto your Lordship that I want judgment rightly to direct myself in this case, as likewise that I am ignorant how far this may trench upon the privileges of the peers of this land, and upon mine and their safety hereafter. For, if the writ be not obeyed, the law calleth it a misprision and highly fineable, whereof we have had late examples; and a missive letter, being avowed or not, is to be doubted would not be adjudged a sufficient discharge against the Great Seal of England. On the other side, if the letter be not obeyed, a Peer may de facto be committed upon a contempt in the interim, and the question cleared afterwards; so that in this case it is above mine abilities. I can only answer your Lordship that I will most exactly obey; and to the end I may understand which obedience will be in all kinds most suitable to my duty, I will presently repair to my private lodging at London, and there remain untill in this and other causes I shall have petitioned his Majesty, and understand his further pleasure. For the second part of your Lordship's letter, where your Lordship saith that "his Majesties meaning is not thereby to discharge any former directions for restraint of your Lordship's coming hither, but that you continue under the same restriction as before, so that your Lordship's personal attendance here is to be forborne," I conceive your Lordship intendeth this touching my coming to Parliament only; for, as touching my coming to London, I never had at any time one word of prohibition, or colorable pretence of restraint; but, on the contrary, having his late Majesties express leave to come to London to follow my affairs, out of my respect to his Majesty then Prince, and to the Duke of Buckingham, I forbore to come until I might know whether my coming would not be disagreeable unto them; whereunto his Majesty was pleased to answer both under the hand of the Duke and of Mr. Secretary Conway that he took my respect unto him herein in very good part, and would wish me to make use of the leave the King had given me; since which time I never received any letter or message of restraint; only his Majesty, by his letter bearing date June last, commandeth me to [page xxxvii] remain as I was in the time of the King his father, which was with liberty to come to London to follow my own affairs as I pleased, as will appear unto your Lordship, if you will afford me so much favor as to peruse them. I have writ this much unto your Lordship, because I would not through misunderstanding fall into displeasure by my coming up, and to intreat your Lordship to inform his Majesty thereof; and that my Lord Conway, by whose warrant I was only restrained in the late King's time of famous memory, may produce any one word that may have so much as any colorable pretence of debarring my coming up to London. I beseech your Lordship to pardon my desire to have things clearly understood, for the want of that formerly hath caused all my troubles; and when anything is misinformed concerning me, I have little or no means to clear it, so that my chief labor is to avoid misunderstanding. I shall conclude with beseeching your Lordship to do me this favor, to let his Majesty understand that my coming up is onely rightly to understand his pleasure, whereunto I shall in all things most dutifully and humbly conform myself, and so, with my humble service to your Lordship, I recommend you to God's holy protection, and remain
Your Lordship's most humble servant,
Sherborne, April 12, 1626.
My Lord. have and shalbe very punctual in obeying all your Lordship's orders both by word and letter, and therefore, having receaved a message from your Lordship divers monthes since by Mr. Greislye, that when I should come to my house or lodging in London I should give notice thereof, I have thought fitt to give your Lordship knowledge that I intend, God willing, for the settling of affaires which importe my whole estate, and for the recoverye of my decayed health, to repaire shortly to my private lodging at St. Giles; and, although I shall not faile presently upon my arrivall to give your Lordship notice thereof, yet for the avoyding of all misunderstandings (by which alreadie I have suffred much) I thought fitt to advertise your Lordship thereof beforehand, least any restrainte in that kinde might be obtruded upon me, whereby I might incurre displeasure, I assuring your Lordship that neither from yourself, nor any other, I have receaved at any time so much as one word of prohibition or coulorable pretence of restrayning me from comming to London; but to the contrary having his late Majesties expresse leave to come to London and to follow my affaires, but out of my due respect to his Majestie, then Prince, I forbore to come untill I might knowe whether my comming would not be disagreeable unto him, whereunto his Majestie was pleased to make answeare both by the Duke of Buckingham as likewise by Mr. Secretarye Cottington, as will appeare by theire letters, that he tooke my respect unto him herein in very good parte, and would wish me to make use of the liberty his Majestie had given me, [page xxxviii] since which time I never receaved any message or letter of restrainte in any kind; only from your Lordship a letter of his Majestie bearing date the 10th of June, that I should remayne in the same condition I was in the time of the King his father, which your Lordship best knoweth was farre from any restrainte from comming to London, for untill the time when, under coulor of giving me leave to be absent from Parliament upon mine owne suite, a clause of restrainte was inserted under the King's hand, I never had any kinde of restrainte but what was singly under your Lordship's hand. And therefore, for the avoyding of all mistakes I have thought fitt to give you this timely notice, beseeching you that if you conceave that there be any coulor for any such restrainte that you would signifie unto me by your letter when or how it was, which I shall readily obey, but I shall be loath by mistakes and conjectures to be frighted into a confinement. But if it must be, I pray your Lordship that it may be done cleerely and avowedly, for that my comming up importeth my whole estate, which is intended to be questioned, and my health, for which yf I seeke not present remedye, which is not heere to be had, I am told I shall runne much hazard; yet I shall most readilie obey all your orders untill God shalbe pleased to send me redresse; and soe, not having for the present further wherewith to trouble your Lordship, I most humbly recommend your Lordship to God's most holy protection, and rest
Your Lordship's most humble servant,
Sherborne, the 12th of April, 1626.
What followed upon this correspondence is matter of history. It is well known that Bristol came up to London and petitioned the House of Lords. Then followed the charges brought against him by the Attorney-General, and the counter charges brought by him against Buckingham and Conway. The whole dispute was brought to an end by the dissolution of Parliament. Bristol was then sent to the Tower, and a process was commenced against him in the Star Chamber. But the case was postponed from time to time, and at last, when Charles was looking about for support from all sides before the meeting of a fresh Parliament in 1628, and when he had almost forgotten his old quarrel with Spain in the heat of his new quarrel with France, Bristol obtained what he had always asked for, permission to kiss the King's hands, without making any acknowledgment whatever.[page xxxix]
If it were still necessary to throw light upon Charles's mode of treating men who differed from him, nothing could serve the purpose better than these letters. No question of any collision between privilege and prerogative arose here. The Royal authority for any purpose of government was in no way at stake. It was merely a question whether the powers of the Crown were to be put forth to restrain the liberty of a subject without ever bringing him to trial, in order to prevent him from opening his mouth to say that he had been right when the King considered him to have been wrong. The question between Charles and Bristol was the question between Charles and Eliot in its simplest form.
Of Bristol himself it is not necessary here to say much. If he preceded Eliot in his defence of the subject's liberties, he was far behind him in his grasp of constitutional theory. He had himself never been a member of the House of Commons, and it was hardly likely that he would associate himself with the movement for the exaltation of that body. The value of the story of his resistance consists in the fact that he was standing entirely aloof from political contests, and that he therefore placed it upon grounds which commend themselves to all, whatever their political theories may be.[page 1]
Forasmuch [as], in the Interrogatories administred vnto the Earle of Bristoll by his Majesties commaundement, bearing date the 30. of June, 1624, in his answeare to the second clause of the 7th Interrogatorye, wherein hee is demaunded: why hee would so confidently assure his Majestie of theyr reall proceeding in Spayne, having beene acquainted with the affront putt upon his Majestie in the Treaty for Prince Henry; hee sayth:—For the giving a due answeare to the point in question, by deducing businesses downe from Prince Henry's tyme untill this present, would bee of greater lengthe then befitted that his Answeare, he would in a paper aparte set downe the whole progresse of the treatyes for a match with Spain from the yeare 1611 untill this present: hee hathe, in performance of his dutye and his promise made in the sayd answeare, written the subsequent Discourse, which containethe all the passages in the treatyes of a marriage since his firste imployment into Spayne untill the arrivall of his Highnes and my Lord Duke of Buckinghame in Spayne; which hee desirethe may bee presented unto his Majesty and my Lords the Commissioners. And for the carriage and miscarriage of the busines from that tyme untill his revocation, hee is likewise ready to give his Majesty a true account thereof, whensoever his Majesty shall commaund it.
Firste. The Earl of Bristoll desireth that yt may be considered that the marriage with Spayne was not propounded by him, as will appeare by his instruction, 1611 , when hee went firste into Spayne, hee being appointed then to propound a marriage for Prince Henry, [page 2] but was no way admitted to the consultyve parte of his imployment then, nor in many yeares after.
And that a matche with Spayne seemed by the ministers of those tymes so muche to bee desired that the Infanta Doña Ana, that King's eldest daughter (for whome hee made the firste motion) being already promised to the Kinge of France, the Earl of Bristol had order, by a dispatche bearing date the 25th of January, 1611, stilo vet., signed by the Earl of Salisbury in his Majesties name, to propound that Kinge Phillipp the 3rd would adopt a niece, one of the daughters of Savoy, and treate a marriage for Prince Henry, which not being approved in Spayne, and answeare being made that that King had daughters of his owne, notwithstanding that there was such a strong disparitie in yeares (Prince Henry being then neare twenty, and the Infanta Doña Maria about seven yeares of age), yet the desire of those tymes seemed to be so muche set upon a matche with Spayne, that the Earl of Bristol had order by second letters, bearing date the laste of March, 1612, signed by the Lords of Salisbury, Northampton, Lennox, Suffolk, Worcester, and Pembroke, to propound a matche for Prince Henry with the sayd youngest daughter. The which accordingly he did, and received answeare that the King of Spain would willingly hearken unto the matche, so that Prince Henry would become a Roman Catholick. To which unequall and dishonorable motion the Earl of Bristoll made answer that the King his master desired to refer it to that King's own judgement, what censure that King should deserve, both from the hands of God and the world, that, having so many wayes expressed his constancie and love to the faythe and religion which he professed, should showe himselfe so full of impietie and dishonour as to persuade his sonne to make exchange of his soule for a wife or any earthly fortune whatsoever. And if the King of Spayne would not for a world (as hee professed) bee eyther the direct or indirect causer of the hazard of his daughter's perversion, that that King mighte bee pleased to consider that yf hee bee therein so exact as befittethe a [page 3] King in point of religion and honour, that the King his master was likewise in no degree lesse: and therefore had commaunded him planely to declare, that though hee could not but make a kinde and princely construction of the offer which that King made of his daughter (as judging her moste worthy of any prince whatsoever), yet for his demaund of the Prince his becoming a Romane Catholick, the King his master held yt unworthy of him, and would absolutely refuse to bestowe the Prince his sonne upon these conditions, were the person offred the sole heyre of the monarchie of the world.
After the answeare, the speache of any matche was utterly silenced for a good space. In which interim yt will appeare, by many testimonies, with how much fidelitie and vigilancie the Earl of Bristoll served both the King, Ohurche, and Commonwealthe, by the particulars following:
Firste. There being at that tyme an English seminary begun to
bee erected at Madrid, at the charge of one Cæsar Boccaccio, concerning
which Sir Thomas Lake (by his Majesties order) had written
unto the Earl of Bristoll by his letters of the 14. of November,
1612 (as despayring that yt could bee prevented), that hee should
not strive muche in yt; yet the Earl of Bristoll prevayled so muche
by his industrye, as after the students were settled there to have
them removed, and Father Creswell himselfe (then of greate power
in Spayne) to bee sent out of that Courte. The particular relation
whereof he referreth to those his dispatches of the 4th of January
and 18. of February, 1612, which then seemed to be services so
acceptable, that his Majestie caused the
Archbishop of Canterbury [Archbishop Abbot],
in a letter bearing date the 15. of June, 1613, all written in his
owne hand, to write as followethe, viz.:
Lett him knowe that I
well and very well accept of his service there. I tell you he
hathe donne mee suche service there as never any embassador did
And the late Bishopp of Winchester [Bishop Montague], in his of the 6. of
Aprill, written all likewise with his owne hand, saythe—
loathe to write so much to you of his Majesties good opinion
of you, and of his gratious acceptance of your services, as truly
I may. But truly upon your laste dispatche hee tolde mee how
diligent and how industrious a minister you were; how able
and how honest. I tolde his Majestie I would bee so bolde as to
lett you understand thereof. For I found nothing made you more
willing to serve him than to heare of his Majesties good acceptance
thereof. And withall, his Majestie gave mee the letters of the
King of Spayne to Aquaviva, and the reste of Creswell's to the
Provinciall and theyr Generall, and wondering how that busines
of overthrowing the newe erected seminarye could bee brought
about, saying that it was the noblest parte and the moste powerfull
that ever embassador playd. And the bishopp concludes
with a God bee thanked for yt, and that it will ever remayne a
trophee of your love and service to the Churche, besides King and
That for some yeares togeather there was no consulta nor letter written in Spayne by that King or counsell whereof the Earl of Bristoll procured not his Majestie by his industrye a copie, and for the most parte sent yt before the originall could arrive at the place to which yt was directed.
That, all his Majesties chief ministers being pensioners then to Spaine, without regard of person the Earl of Bristoll made a free and cleare discoverye of them all unto his Majestie, which procured him a greate enmitie and hatred, which hathe lasted towards him ever since; allthough, at the same tyme, the Earl of Bristoll prevayled so muche with his Majestie as to obtayne that no man was questioned or disgraced thereupon, humbly beseeching his Majestie to have regard rather to services that mighte be donne him for the future, by the intelligence which he had settled, than, by punishing paste disservices, to hazard the discoverye of yt; which his Majestie was pleased to condescend unto. And the Earl of Bristoll (as a faythefull servant) disguised nothing from his Majestie, [page 5] yet omitted nothing that could bee done to keepe the parties in fault from disgrace or question.
That when Scioppius (like another fowle-mouthed Shimei) scattred a rayling and infamous libell, full of irreverent language and disrespect unto his Majestie, and that the Earl of Bristoll could not procure suche exemplary punishment to bee inflicted on his person as he held fitt for his Majesties greatnes, yt is well knowen with how muche hazard hee caused his Majesties honour to be vindicated in the publique face of that courte by a neere kinsman of his [by beating Scioppus].
That for the true understanding of the Spaniards intentions, the Earl of Bristoll procured to gett into his hands all the King of Spaynes originall papers, both the secrete instructions and dispatches to theyr embassadors, and all consultas concerning England ever since the peace. And after hee had copyed them, hee made upon everye one of them a privy secrete-marcke before they were returned to the Kinges cabinett. To the end that yf hee should have had occasion to make use of any of those papers by way of allegation, hee might have tolde them where to find that marke, to the end they might knowe the originall had beene in his hands. And with these markes the sayd secrett papers still remayne. And the copies of them are in the Earl of Bristoll's hands, ever ready for his Majestyes use and service.
And of all these services, hee can showe suche testimonies of his Majesties high estimation of them, both under his Majesties owne hand and from his ministers by his order, that hee conceivethe no subject can produce greater from the prince his master then the Earl of Bristoll can.
By that which is hitherto sayd, yt will appeare that the Earl of Bristoll in the proposition of the matche for Prince Henry had nothing to doe, but with the parte of obedience; and that in all other thinges, eyther touching the King, Churche, or [page 6] Commonwealthe, hee behaved himselfe with fidelitie and some measure of vigilancie.
It will now bee fitt to sett downe in the next place how the matche for Prince Charles began to bee renewed, and what connexion yt had with the former proposition.
After that this demaund of the Spaniards for Prince Henry his becoming a Romane Catholick was represented into England, the Prince in all things began to showe himselfe disaffectionate to Spayne, and a matche for his Highnes was neere upon conclusion with a daughter of Savoy, when yt pleased God to take unto himselfe that noble and worthy Prince.
At the same tyme, those distastes betwixt Spayne and Savoy,
which afterwards broke out to a direct warr touching Monferrato,
were at theyr highthe; and the Spanish embassadors out of England,
and likewise the ancient counsellors of Spayne, often and seriously
represented unto that King and to the Duke of Lerma (who then
chiefly guided the affayres of that State) how important it was for
the upholding of that monarchie, to bee upon good tearmes with
England, and that there had been a greate errour committed in that
strict and rigide demaund touching the match with Prince Henry;
and to this effect the Conde de Gondemar wrote many serious and
pressing dispatches into Spayne upon his firste coming into this
imployment, alleaging that by the deathe of Prince Henry the matche
was become more equall and treatable by reason of the fittnes and
suitablenes of yeares betwixt Prince Charles and the Lady Marie.
Hee alleaged allso besides the ancient and received maxime of
Paz con Inglatierra, y con todo el mundo guerra, many
important advantages for the good of that Crowne, and the advancement
of Catholique religion, which by a match and perfect
amitie with England would acrewe; and this his advice was
seconded by the opinion of Don Juan de Idiaques, and all the
ancient counsellours of those tymes. Whereupon the Duke of
Lerma began to have many discourses with the Earle of Bristoll,
who admitted of none, but still gave an account of all secretely
unto his Majestie, and had order to heare all that should be
propounded, but tolde the Duke of Lerma that hee was soe farr
discouraged by that harshe and unreasonable answer to the proposition
for Prince Henry that hee had little hope ever to see the
difference in religion so reconciled as to make a matche againe
treatable. Whereupon hee assured the Earl of Bristoll that that
King and State so muche desired a matche and perfect alliance with
England that, on theyr parte, they would stretche as farr to accommodate
differences as they could eyther with honour or conscience;
and thereupon was there called a junta of the chiefe divines in
Spayne, who were required to deliver theyr opinions, and to sett
downe suche conditions (as being graunted by the King of England)
the King of Spayne mighte safely bestowe his daughter upon a
prince of a different religion; and that those conditions were to bee
without touching upon the Prince his conversion or tolleration of
religion. For that the Earl of Bristoll had declared plainely that
no treaty or overture would bee admitted or hearkned unto where
eyther of those points should bee so muche as touched. Whereupon
the Duke of Lerma, in the yeare 1614, delivered unto the Earl of
Bristoll certayne conditions in writing, which had beene agreed
upon by the divines. But the Earl of Bristoll was so farr from
giving hopes or incouragement in the matche that hee absolutely
refused to promise so muche as to send them unto his Majestie,
declaring that hee judged them unworthy of him. Yet underhand
he sent them secretely unto his Majesty, togeather with his opinion
how unfitt they were to bee admitted of, and that he had disavowed
the sending of them. Yet upon them was the matche for Prince
Charles again renewed, and good hopes given to the Spanish embassador.
But the firste condition propounded was that the Earl of
Bristoll (then Sir John Digbye) must have nothing to doe with
the match, but that the Spanishe embassador must send for a commission
to treate and conclude the matche with the ministers heere;
and the Spanishe embassador was made acquainted with all that
the Earl of Bristoll had written; and the very articles that he had
secretly sent out of Spayne (protesting against the admitting or
sending of them unto his Majestie, as judging them unworthy of
him,) were putt into the Spanishe embassador's hands; and thereupon
the Conde de Gondemar (then Don Diego Sarmiento de Acuña)
wrote unto the Duke of Lerma that it was desired heere that the
Earl of Bristoll should have nothing to doe with the busines, but
that hee mighte have authoritie to treate the matche with the chiefe
ministers in England; and accordingly order was sent unto the Conde
de Gondemar, and the Duke of Lerma withdrewe from the Earl of
Bristoll all maner of treating or proceeding in the busines, more than
so muche as he conceived would serve to disguise the busines and
holde him in ignorance, whilest in the interim things were seriously
debated and advanced in England untill, by the Earl of Somerset's
misfortune, this negotiation was for some small tyme interrupted.
The which was sone after in a manner renewed by severall conferences
held betwixt the Spanish embassador and the Earl of Kelly
[then Viscount Fenton].
But the Earl of Bristoll was never made acquainted with the former
proceeding, nor with the renewing of yt by the Earl of Kelly.
But yt is true that by his owne industrie and private intelligence hee
gott exact and perfect knowledge of all that passed in England and
of all the embassadour wrote into Spayne. And not knowing
whether these proceedings were by his Majesties approbation, without
respect of any person acquainted his Majestie with all that had
passed, as hee doubteth not his Majestie will well remember; and
so he conceiveth dothe the Earl of Kelly, who, yt should seeme, had
sufficient warrant for all he did from the King; for that, the next
day after the Earl of Bristoll had acquainted his Majestie with all
the particulars, the Earl of Kelly meeting him in the gallerye, said
merily unto him:
I see, Mr. Vice-Chamberlayne, I had beene
litle beholding unto you yf I had been a knave.
In the yeare 1615 the Earl of Bristoll was by his Majestie recalled and commaunded presently to repayre into England. [page 9] Thereupon the Duke of Lerma acquainted him in some sorte with the proceedings, and desired him to doe all good offices for the increasing of amitie and neare alliance at his returne, assuring him that by that King and his ministers yt was very really desired, and that they would doe all that was possible on theyr side to accommodate differences yf his Majestie would doe the like on his part; whiche the Earl of Bristoll promised to represent unto his Majestie, as hee did faithfully, and received direction from his Majestie to write severall letters to the Duke of Lerma as from himselfe, which letters (for his better warrant in all tymes) the Earl of Bristoll moved his Majestie to sign the copie of them with his owne hand, warranting him to send them, which his Majestie was pleased to doe. These letters were showed to the commissioners, as likewise the Duke of Lerma's answeares, which gave his Majestie all assurance of theyr reall desiring of the matche in Spayne, and doing all things on theyr parte that mighte conduce unto yt, as will appeare by the letters which are ready to bee produced. Upon this assurance of the Duke of Lerma's, his Majestie was resolved to begin the treaty. Whereupon the Earl of Bristoll humbly moved his Majestie, that, before anything were donne, there might be a commission of Lords nominated, by whose advice all things mighte passe; whereupon his Majestie was pleased to nominate for commissioners the Lord Duke of Lenox; Sir Francis Bacon, lord chancellor; the Earl of Suffolke, lord treasurer; the Earl of Nottinghame, lord admiral; the Earl of Pembroke, lord chamberlayne; the now Duke of Buckinghame; the Earl of Arundell; the Earl of Worcester; the Lord of Kelly [then Viscount Fenton]; Sir Thomas Lake; and the Earl of Bristoll [then Sir John Digby]; to whome there was an exact and punctuall account given of all that had passed, and with theyr advice his Majestie resolved to send an extraordinary embassage into Spayne, and was pleased to make choyse of the person of the Earl of Bristoll [then Sir John Digby], whose instructions were [page 10] drawen by the sayd commissioners after mature advise and debate, and then offred unto his Majestie, who, approving of them, signed them.
The Earl of Bristoll [then Sir John Digby] began his journey towards Spayne in the month of Auguste 1617, and returned in Aprill 1618, and gave unto the lords the commissioners suche an account of his negotiations, that they were pleased to give testimonie of him unto his Majestie that hee in all thinges had behaved himselfe like a faythfull and good servant, having in points of religion not only been more reserved than by his instructions hee mighte have beene, but likewise added severall conditions much to his Majesties honor and advantage, both in religion and the point of portion; and thereof his Majestie hathe likewise beene pleased to give manie testimonies, especially when yt pleased God to visitt him with a dangerous sicknes at Royston, where amongst many other his servants whome he recommended unto the Prince, hee was pleased in suche sorte to recommend the Earl of Bristoll, that hee acknowledgethe to meritt no kind of grace or favour, but to have deserved all rigour, yf hee hathe beene wanting eyther in his fidelitie or his industrie towards so gratious a master. Amongst other things his Majestie was then pleased to say that, although the Earl of Bristoll mighte suffer in the world (as being held Spanish) hee had carefully watched him, and, if hee should have ever found any minte in him towards Spayne (more then agreed with his pleasure and directions) he should have hated him; but that hee had found him a faythful servant herein, and not to have gone one stepp without his liking. Ailthough, for the advancing of his service and ends, yt was ritt for him to upholde a good opinion and reputation with Spayne.
Before the Earl of Bristoll his departure towards Spayne, hee craved leave of his Majestie to acquaint the Prince his Highnes with all particulars of his negotiation, as hee did, and presumed to give his Highnes in writing bothe what his opinion was, and what [page 11] he held his dutye, firste as a counsellor, secondly as a servant. The contents whereof is that which followethe:
Sir, The opinion that I have ever presumed humbly to offer
unto his Majestie concerning your Highnes marriage hathe beene
that, bothe in regard of conscience and satisfaction to his Majesties
people and allies, as likewise for the securitie and quiett of his
Majesties estates, that your Highnes mighte take to wife some
Protestant princesse, although shee were neyther daughter to king,
or had any so ample portion as mighte relieve the King's present
necessities, for that there mighte many meanes bee found for helping
of the King's wants, either by some few years' providence, or by
the joining of the affection of the people to the supplying of his
Majestie by the way of subsidies in Parliament. Whereas contrariwise,
yf the number and power of the Papists shall bee increased, as
undoubtedly yt will bee by your Highnes matching with any
Catholic princesse whatsoever, through the commerce which must
bee of necessitie for the exercise of her religion for herselfe and
familie within your Highnes courte; and thereby by degrees these
two different religions shall growe to an equalitie of power, which
will bee of greate hazard and disquiett to the State, and not to bee
redressed without greate danger and courses of greater violence
than is proper or usuall for this State to put in practise. But in
case his Majestie, out of his wisdome and considerations, beste
knowen to himselfe, holde yt fittest that your Highnes matche with
France or Spayne, or any other Catholick, eyther for that the present
tyme affordethe no Protestant princesse which is for yeares or blood
suitable to your Highnes, or that can in any considerable measure
by her portion supply his Majesties present want, I then conceive
that the matche by which this State shall Suffer leaste inconvenience
and cumber, and whereby your Highnes issue will have the moste
undoubted and unquestionable royall blood, and whereby his
Majesties necessities shall (by the greatness of the portion) bee the
moste relieved, is with Spayne yf such a matche may bee made
with suche conditions of religion as other Catholick princes will content
themselves withall. Thus muche I thought fitt humbly to
present unto your Highnes, for that I see my imployment lyable to
the censure of many worthy and religious men, with whom though
I concurre in my opinion, yet I seeme muche to differ from them in
my wayes; for that yt is more proper for mee to bee true to my
master's ends and service then, by declaring this, to procure theyr
satisfaction. Only to your Highnes I thought fitt to make this
declaration, and shall have a suitor for your favour as you shall see
mee really labour to putt this in effect; and yf his Majestie shall,
eyther upon motion of Parliament or any other proposition that shall
bee made unto him, thinkeyt fitt to proceede with a Protestant matche,
as I shall wishe as well unto yt as any man living, so I hope in
suche sorte to manage the present busines that I have in hand, as
yt shall rather muche further then any way crosse or hinder yt; but
in case his Majestie shall not bee drawen to hearken to any proposition
for a Protestant matche, I then conceive that your Highnes
bothe dothe and will approve that I really and effectually labour to
procure a matche for your Highnes with Spayne upon suche conditions
in point of religion and portion as to his Majestie shall
Now by this paper yt will appeare that the Earl of Bristoll was not the mover of the Spanish matche, nor positively for yt; in his opinion preferring any matche with a Protestant before all others, and the matche with Spayne butt only comparatively in respect of other Catholick matches.
But during the tyme of the Earl of Bristoll's absence, notice being gotten of this paper left with the Prince, the Earl of Bristol was traduced to the King as a servant that was not true and faythfull to his ends and service, but that underhand hee had written and laboured to disuade the Prince from the matche intended for him by his father. And heereupon the Earl of Bristoll had like [page 13] to have fallen under a greate cloude of his Majesties displeasure (as is well knowen to many of my Lords), had not his Majestie beene pleased then to afforde him a gratious hearing, wherein the Earl of Bristoll made yt appeare that the substance of the paper was the same which hee had ever spoken unto his Majestie, that, as a counsellor, he ever wished a Protestant matche in the firste place. But yf, for want of a fitting person, or other respects best knowen unto his Majestie, he should holde yt fitt to bestowe the Prince otherwise, and therein to employ his service, hee would moste humbly lay downe his owne opinion, and moste faythfully (to the uttmoste of his power) pursue his Majesties ends, as in this employment hee made it appeare unto his Majestie he had done. And thereupon his Majesties favour cleared agayne, which for some dayes had been clowded towards him.
And at the same tyme, there being a hope, not only to bring the Earl of Bristoll into his Majesties disfavour and discreditt, but likewise utterly to disgrace and discreditt him with Spayne, the copie of the sayd paper was sent to the Spanish Embassador to lett him see how faynt a frend the Earl of Bristoll was to the Spanishe matche; and how reall and true they were that sent him this paper. And this hathe beene usuall upon all occasions, firste in England and since in Spayne (as hee can instance in many particulars) to give notice unto the Spanishe ministers of whatsoever the Earl of Bristoll sayd or advertized to the advantage of his Majestie or religion, and the dis-service of Spayne. Insomuch that yt is well knowen to many, in what opinion hee was with the Spaniards as the only man that was opposite to theyr ends and pretentions by the matche. But the Spanish Embassador having notice how really the Earl of Bristoll had proceeded in Spayne, and that this paper was no other in effect than what the Earl of Bristoll had ever by word of mouth professed unto himselfe, vizt., that [page 14] hee primarily and, in the firste place, desired that the Prince mighte marrye with one of his owne religion; but, in case that mighte not bee, of all Catholick matches hee judged a Spanishe matche the beste, and to that end had in his late negotiation faythefully pursued his Majesties ends, and so settled and agreed points of religion that the King of Spayne had undertaken to send presently a person of purpose to procure the dispensation, the Spanish Embassador, after some small showe of jealousie and discontent, passed over that business, which by others was laboured hee should have pressed against the Earl of Bristoll to have wrought his ruine with his Majestie.
At the same tyme the Spanishe Embassador avowed firste unto his Majestie, and afterwards publiquely at the counsell table, before all the Commissioners, all that the Earl of Bristoll had treated in Spayne, where all the articles were read, and all suche promises which had passed by word of mouthe were there averred and confirmed by him. And he showed the King of Spayne his master's letters to warrant him in all particulars; insomuche that bothe the Lordes Commissioners and his Majestie were then pleased highly to approve the solidnes and directnes of the Earl of Bristoll's proceeding. And heere it is to bee remembred that, in this interim, diverse of the Commissioners being by sicknes or accident hindred from attending the commission, as my Lord of Nottinghame, my Lord of Suffolke, and Sir Thomas Lake, the Earl of Bristoll moved his Majestie that in so greate a busines his Majestie would keepe the commission full, and, particularly, that hee would bee pleased to add suche as were judged to bee least favourable unto the matche of Spayne, alleaging to his Majestie (which hee doubteth not but hee well remembreth) that a matche with Spayne was not to bee stolne by the pluralitie of votes well inclined, but that it was to endure the strictest and most adverse examination; and that, in case they alleage suche reasons and inconveniences agaynst the matche as mighte move his Majestie in his wisdome not to pursue any further, God forbidd but they should bee hearkned unto, and [page 15] that his Majestie should follow theyr advice. But in case they should see juste cause to approve his Majesties proceedings, and should unanimously concurre in the further prosecution of this treaty, yt could not but add muche, both for the justification of the busines and the satisfaction of the world, when yt should bee seene to pass the examination and sifting of suche as were rather judged averse than favourable to the busines, further then they should bee induced by the strengthe of reason and the good of his Majesties service. Heereupon his Majesty was pleased to add unto the commission my Lord Marques Hamilton, the Lord of Doncaster, Mr. Secretary Naunton; and after the Lord President of the Counsell [Viscount Mandeville], the Lord Keeper [John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln], and the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Sir Richard Weston], without whose advice and mature debating all things that were offred, nothing was done whilest the treating of the busines remained in the Earl of Bristoll's hands.
But yt being agreed by the articles which the Earl of Bristoll had settled, anno 1617, that the dispensation was solely by the King of Spayne to bee procured, all things were so disposed of that the yeare after the Padre Maestro was dispatched unto Rome to that purpose. And the Conde de Gondemar having in the interim made a journey that yeare [(1618)] into Spayne, at his returne [(1620)] assured his Majestie of theyr reall intention in Spayne to proceede with his Majestie in the matche, and brought order to confirme all that had been promised unto the Earl of Bristoll, and particularly for the advancement of half a million which had beene by the Earl of Bristoll negotiated beyond any instruction that hee had, which hee did upon this ground:
Hee seeing that the recourse which the King of Spayne was to have unto Rome could not but putt greate disequality upon the [page 16] treaty, for that his Majestie treated absolutely and independently, but the King of Spayne was only obliged under condition, and with reference to the Pope's dispensation, thought fitt for a counter-securitie of the treaty to propound the anticipation of halfe a million which (after muche debate) hee gott condescended unto in Spayne. And the Conde de Gondemar brought order (as he declared unto his Majestie in the presence of diverse) for the advancing of the sayde halfe million, though it is true that use was not made thereof, for that (the trouble of Germany and the invasion of the Palatinate being then hapned,) the King and the Lords held yt not fitt nor honourable to presse for the King of Spayne's money, when they were in doubte whether these occasions mighte administer a juste cause of quarrell.
By these occasions, as likewise by the deathe of the King of Spayne, Phillipp the 3rd, as allso of the Pope Paulus Quintus, the treatie of the matche with Spayne was somewhat retarded, and the Earl of Bristoll in the interim was imployed in embassage to the Archdukes and to the Emperour [in 1621], and from thence was to take his journey into Spayne upon those assurances that were given by his Majesties ministers in Spayne, Sir Walter Aston and Sir Francis Cottington, of the professions of reall and sincere proceeding made unto them there; they having from tyme to tyme particular charge to bring the busines to as much assurance as mighte bee before his Majestie should again send thether any embassage, as will appeare by dispatches made unto them by the Earl of Bristoll by the King's order, wherein no other language was ever held unto them but that they should labour to bring the busines of the matche to a speedy and certayne issue; that yf they should find any coldeness therein and desire to winne tyme they should labour to disingage his Majestie, for that it imported his Majestie and these kingdomes so muche to have the Prince bestowed, that if his Majestie should eyther finde difficultye or delay, hee should be forced to alter his resolution for the matching of his sonne, and judge that the beste [page 17] matche that conveniently mighte firste bee had. To these instructions yt will, by theyr dispatches in answeare of them, appeare what returne was made by Sir Walter Aston and Sir Francis Cottington, which were to the effect following:
That that King and his ministers gave them all assurances of the proceeding in the matche; that presently, upon the deathe of Phillipp the 3rd, Sir Walter Aston received assurance from this King's owne mouthe, that hee desired the matche as muche as his father had done, and would pursue the treaty of yt to a conclusion.
And this language was constantly and unanimously used then in Spayne by all the ministers there, as will appeare by theyr severall dispatches, and by the Spanishe embassador heere unto his Majestie. Upon these grounds and assurances from Spayne, as likewise for the treating of the business of the Palatinate, was the Earl of Bristoll sent agayne into Spayne in the yeare 1621, the Lords Commissioners meeting often for the directing of the negotiation; and his instructions were (after muche debate and deliberation) drawen by the Commissioners, who still gave his Majestie an account of all that they resolved at the end of every meeting, and received his approbation.
The Earl of Bristoll arrived at Madrid about the beginning of June 1622, and had his firste audience within fewe dayes after. And so presently began to propound the busines for which hee was sent, bothe to the Kinge and Don Bathezar de Cuniga, who then chiefly had hand in busines. For untill after his deathe the Conde de Olivares only meddled with things of the King's grace and bountye, but with no business of state, eyther at home or abroade.
The Earl of Bristoll his proposition will appeare by his dispatche of the 28. of June, which was to this effect:—
That whereas the treaty had depended some yeares, yt now imported the King his master highly to see yt brought to some certayne and speedy issue, having but onely one sonne, and hee being arrived to the yeares allmoste of twenty-two. That the scope [page 18] of his Majesties sending at present was, eyther to bring the sayd matche to a speedy conclusion, or otherwise, in case hee should finde the difficulties suche as could not bee well reconciled, hee mighte, without losse of any more tyme, so cleare the busines as his Majestie, recalling his ingagement with Spayne, mighte dispose himselfe for the speedy bestowing of the Prince his sonne elsewhere.
Heereunto hee received answeare, that this King desired the matche no lesse then his father, and that his Majestie should finde reall and speedy proceeding. That the Conde de Gondemar was sent for of purpose for the concluding of the busines, and was allready landed in Spayne; and that the King would give order for Commissioners presently to be named for the bringing of this treaty to a speedy conclusion.
And yt will appeare by the same dispatche of the 28. of June (being the firste that the Earl of Bristoll made after his firste audence,) that he was so farr from wynning tyme, or admitting delayes, that hee there cravethe his Majesties leave, that in case hee should finde delatory courses used in the busines, that hee mighte (without expecting any new order) take his leave and come home.
And whereas yt hathe beene objected agaynst the Earl of Bristoll that hee still desired to protract and delay the busines, hee humbly desireth that from this very dispatche (which was the firste hee made out of Spayne) until his very laste, yt may be truly observed whether his language to his Majestie and the Prince, on the one side, were not to admit of no further delay, but rather to thinke on some other course; and on the other side, whither hee pressed not things for a speedy conclusion as farr as eyther tearmes of fayre negotiation, or of good manners, would beare. And then hee doubteth not but yt will clearely appeare that that which hathe beene suggested against him in this kinde will as ill beare the examination as that other that the hopes given by his letters out of Spayne caused his Majestie to forbeare the assisting of the Palatinate, and by that meanes all was lost; when the truthe is that [page 19] Heidelberg and all the rest was loste eyther before his firste letters of that subject out of Spayne beare date, or at leaste before they could come unto his Majesties hands; as is particularly made apparent in his answeare to the second interrogatorye.
Upon the arrival of the Conde de Gondemar at Madrid, presently the Commissioners were named, and the treaty began. And the Earl of Bristoll delivered unto the King of Spayne and the Commissioners his propositions in writing, which are heere sett downe:—
The Baron Digbye, Embassadour extraordinary of the King of Greate Brittayne, saythe, that yt is allmoste six yeares since a marriage betwixt the Prince of Wales and the Infanta Dona Maria, your Majesties sister, hathe beene in treaty. That yt is five yeares since the articles in matter of religion were agreed upon heere in Spayne, his Majestie (of famous memorye) having firste asked the opinion of many divines, whome hee caused to be assembled about this busines. That the King of Greate Brittayne his master agreed readily to all these articles; and with them, and with that which was promised by word of mouth, which hath beene all perfourmed. And in a letter which the King his master wrote of the 27. of Aprill 1620, in which hee particularly declared what hee would doe in favour of the Catholiques, the busines seemed so well grounded that the Pope's dispensation mighte well be demaunded; and thereupon the fryar Diego de la Fuente was despatched to solicite the same in Rome. The Pope (without replying hither) hathe sent directly into England propounding unto the King not only many alterations in the sayd articles, but some newe things, whereunto his Majestie can in no sorte condescend; this hathe seemed unto the King his master muche differing from that which hee expected.
First, for that yt is capitulated that the dispensations should be procured by Spayne. Neyther hathe his Majestie treated anything with the Pope, so that whatsoever the Pope would reply, hee ought to have done it to your Majestie by whome the dispensation was required.
Secondly, for that hee thought that with the foresayd articles, [page 20] and that which was further promised, all things in point of religion had beene fully settled; and that theyr divines were of opinion that with these conditions his Holines both mighte and ought to graunt the dispensation: now to see newe and impossible things demaunded seemed very strange unto him.
And hereupon the King his master, desiring a speedy dispatche of this busines (yt being of so greate importance bothe unto himselfe and his kingdomes to have the Prince his only sonne speedily marryed, he being now neere the age of 22 yeares, and having for the space of six yeares paste forborne to bestowe him in marriage (meerely in respect of this treaty), hathe commaunded him planely to declare unto your Majestie how farr hee can goe in matter of religion; and if your Majestie shall therewith bee contented, that the sayd Embassador without further delay proceede to a conclusion of the marriage; and yf this bee not sufficient to give satisfaction to your Majestie (as hee hopeth it will) since there is muche more graunted than was capitulated in the tyme of the King your father of famous memorie, your Majestie may bee pleased lykewise that it be so declared on your parte, to the end that, without losse of more tyme, the King his master may dispose of the Prince his sonne, and your Majestie of the Infanta your sister, as shall seeme best unto you.
By this manner of proceeding yt will appeare whether the Earl of Bristoll fell shorte of his instructions, or whether, yf any errour were committed, yt were not in the pressing parte beyond what hee had order for.
To this proposition hee had not only from the Commissioners, by
word of mouthe, all assurance of reall and speedy proceeding, but
likewise received in writing from that King the answeare which
That Don Baltazar de Cuniga gave an account unto
his Majestie of what was sayd and propounded unto him; and that
hee was very gladd to heare yt, for that hee is nott only desirous of
the union of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Infanta
Dona Maria, in regard yt was a busines begun, heard, and treated
by the King his father of famous memorie, but, when that should
not have beene, hee would gladly have beene the beginner and
concluder of yt, for that his Catholic Majestie hopeth that for the
difficulties that can bee heerein (which are matters of religion) the
King of Greate Brittayne will overcome and dispose them in that
sorte that with the conveniencie of bothe Crownes, and the generall
good of Christendome, the Pope not only may but ought to give
this dispensation, and his benediction for the conclusion of yt, yt
being a thing (as yt hathe allwayes beene sayd) is precisely necessary;
and wherein (for our parte) there shall bee all expedition
used, for that the speedy effecting of this busines is of as muche
importance and no lesse desired heere then in England: that by
this tyme the Earl of Bristoll will have understood how Mr. Gage
was sent from Rome unto England with certain animadversions
upon the articles; and that his Majestie would have beene glad to
have understood yt in tyme to have procured him to have taken his
journey by this Courte, that hee mighte have communicated with
the Earl of Bristoll that which hee carryed, and have conferred
with him about yt for the greate confidence which is held of his
person, goodnes, and good intentions, which is suche that obligeth
us to showe unto him in greate secrecie the same papers which by
the Embassadour the Duke of Alburquerque have beene sent from
Rome, to the end that having seene them and the state of things in
England, hee may judge what will bee fitt to write thereupon unto
the King his master, and that from hence Don Carlos de Coloma
may have notice of yt. For yt is heere desired that this busines
may bee proceeded in with conformitie.
And by that yt will appeare that, not only in that which concerne
the that King's desire and affection to the matche, there is
made profession of all sinceritie; but in that which concerned the
Pope they used another kinde of stile then of later tymes they used.
For in this answeare yt is sayd, that not only the Pope
ought to dispense. And Sir Francis Cottington, who returned
about this tyme into England, can beste testifye the language
that was then used in Spayne, and the commissions which hee
received from that King and his ministers to deliver unto his
Majestie and the Prince, of theyr intentions to proceede to a reall
and speedy conclusion of the matche, and to use all effectuall
meanes to overcome the difficulties in Rome for the graunting of
And notwithstanding the hopes then given by these assurances in Spayne, yt will appeare by the letters of the Earl of Bristoll, then brought by Sir Francis Cottington to his Majestie and the Prince, that hee ever, in the firste place, desired that all possible speede mighte bee used for the bestowing of his Highnes, and therefore hee wrote unto his Majestie of the 13. of September 1622 as followethe:
I shall presume to add to that which Mr. Cottington will deliver unto your Majestie by word of mouth, of the present estate of the matche, what I conceive to bee the right way to bring yt to a speedy issue: that your Majestie will bee pleased particularly to declare what you will doe in point of religion, and that you will appoint mee a certayne limited tyme by which this King should procure the dispensation or conclude the matche without yt, and in case there shall bee any further delay therein that I may then declare your Majestie to bee free and disingaged to bestowe the Prince in suche sorte as you shall judge moste convenient.
And to the Prince wrote at the same time in the subsequent words:
That which will be necessary for his Majesties parte, is to declare himselfe how farr he will be pleased to extend in point of religion in such forme as Mr. Cottington will propound unto your Highnes, and that hee sett mee a prefixed limited tyme to breake or conclude the matche eyther with the dispensation or without yt, and for the reste yt may be left to my negotiation. But your Highnes may bee pleased to hasten this his Majesties resolution with all possible speede.
And hereupon his Majestie was pleased to send him his positive [page 23] answeare in point of religion, and to limit a certayne tyme for the procuring of the dispensation by Mr. Porter, who arrived at Madrid in November, 1622, which direction of his Majestie the Earl of Bristoll was so carefull to obey with all punctualitie that the tyme limited for the procuring of the dispensation seeming very shorte to send unto Rome, and to have an answeare from thence, for that his Majesties letters, by accident, were long upon the way, yet the Earl of Bristoll would not enlarge the tyme so muche as for a month, untill hee had firste sent unto his Majestie and received warrant under his owne hand, as will appeare by his Majesties letters of the 28. of October, 1622, as followeth:
Righte trusty and well beloved cosen and counsellor. Wee greete you hartily well. Whereas by your laste letter written to our secretary, dated the 29. of September, you are desirous to have our pleasure signifyed unto you under our owne hand, whether wee will bee contented or not to graunte one monthe longer tyme for the coming of the dispensation from Rome then wee have already limited unto you: in case they shall there conclude all things else to our contentment, with a resolution to send the Infanta hither the next spring, wee doe hereby declare unto you, that in that case you shall not breake with them for a monthe longer delay. Wee also wishe you not to trouble yourselfe with the rashe censures of other men, in case your busines should not succeede. Resting in that full assurance of our justice and wisdome, that wee will never judge a good and faythefull servant by the effect of things so contingent and variable, and with this assurance wee bidd you hartily farewell.
In obedience to this letter, the Earl of Bristoll laboured to effect all that by this letter was directed. Wherein hee insisted so farr in point of religion, and in opposing the Pope's new demand, which had beene sent unto England by Mr. Gage, as to give greate distastes to the Spanish ministers, and particularly to the Conde de Gondomar; who in greate anger tolde the Earl of Bristoll that, [page 24] allthoughe hee seemed muche to desire the Spanish matche, yet really he had beene the greatest hinderer of yt; and that hee muste not thinke to doe now as hee had donne in his former imployment, to stand stiffer in point of religion then was ordred by his instructions; and to have yt alleaged at his returne as a meritt and good service, that hee had held back part of that grace which his Majesty intended unto Catholicks; as yt had been upon his laste imployment in the report made by the Commissioners of that negotiation.
However, the Earl of Bristoll was much greived to see his Majesties service so muche betrayed. And thereupon wrote presently into England, giving notice thereof, and desiring that for the future the like mighte bee prevented.
And heerein the Earl of Bristoll appealeth unto the testimony of Sir Walter Aston, who was present at all that passed with the Conde de Gondemar and the Spanishe Commissioners, and desirethe that his dispatche of the 12. of December, 1622, sent by Mr. Porter, may bee produced; for that, as hee was present at all the debates of the busines, so hee conceiveth hee gave an account of that which passed.
And as for the Pope's new demaunds, yt will appeare by his severall dispatches to his Majestie, that the Earl of Bristoll held them unreasonable, and tolde the Spanish ministers that hee conceived that, if they insisted upon them, that the busines was at an end, as will appeare likewise by his despatches bearing date [sentence left unfinished in manuscript], and thereupon laboured by all possible meanes to bring them to content themselves with that which his Majestie had condescended unto, without any alterations or additions. The which, although hee did in matter of substance, and thatthere was no essential difference, yet not being punctually the same (differing rather in forme then otherwise) which his Majestie had prescribed by a paper of introduction, bearing date the 9th of September, under his owne [page 25] hand, the Earl of Bristoll would not accept of them but only de bene esse, for the procuring of the dispensation, until hee mighte firste make his Majestie acquainted with the alteration and receive his approbation; and thereupon was Mr. Porter dispatched the 12. of December 1622, and carryed with him the answeare which was given to the Earl of Bristol by the King of Spaynes order in writing, the 12. of December 1622, which was verbatim in that which followethe:
Lo que su Magesdad Catholica, &c. That which his Catholick Majestie hathe commaunded to bee given in answeare to the Earl of Bristoll, Extraordinary Embassador for the King of Greate Brittayne, touching the marriage now in treaty is this that insuethe: That his Majestie hathe given orders that his resolution bee delivered unto him in writing, and therein (as the Earl of Bristoll himselfe hathe seene) hathe indeavoured what hee may to conforme himselfe with that which the King of Greate Brittayne hathe answeared unto the Pope's propositions, so desirous hathe his Majestie beene from the beginning to overcome all difficulties that mighte hinder this union. That bothe heere and at Rome hee hathe not slacked to use all possible care to facilitate yt, and will so continewe untill the conclusion; and at this present (according to what is agreed with the foresayd Earle) a poste (to goe and returne with speede) is dispatched to Rome, to the end that his Holynes, judging what is agreed upon sufficient (as heere yt is held to bee) may graunt the dispensation; and in the interim, while the Pope send yt (the which his Majestie will procure before the end of Marche, or of Aprill at the farthest) the remayning temporall articles shall bee treated and concluded, to the end that no tyme bee loste. But the Infanta, immediately after the graunting of the dispensation, bee delivered the next spring, as is the intention of his Majestie.
And in this answeare the Earl of Bristoll desirethe that foure things may be considered
1. Firste that the King of Spayne is not only confident that upon the articles agreed upon the Pope would dispense; but declarethe [page 26] that in Spayne the sayd articles are held sufficient for the procuring of the dispensation.
2. Secondly, Hee limiteth a certayne tyme for the procuring of yt, vizt., in Marche or Aprill at the farthest.
Thirdly, Hee dothe not only declare yt to bee his intention, but promisethe the deliverie of his sister at the spring.
Fourthly, Hee capitulateth, that in the interim all temporall articles shall bee settled, and all fitting preparation made ready.
And the Earl of Bristoll having procured this positive answeare in writing, sendethe yt unto his Majestie and the Prince, and accompanyethe yt with his owne letters bearing date the 26. of December 1622, in which hee writethe unto his Majestie as followethe:
This is the true estate of the busines, as yt now standethe; yf your Majestie approve of what is donne, I hope it will have a happy and shorte conclusion. Yf your Majestie thinkethe yt not fitt to condescend and allow of these articles, I have donne the uttmoste of my endevours, and shall humbly perswade your Majestie not to loose a day longer in the treaty, so muche yt importethe your Majestie and your kingdomes that the Prince were bestowed.
And to the Prince in letters of the like date, in this sorte:
I presume now to write unto his Majesty that which I thinke my duty to say likewise unto your Highnes, that in case you shall not approve of what is now conditionally agreed, you permitt not a day more to bee loste in this treaty. For yt is of so greate consequence that your Highnes were bestowed, that yt importethe allmoste as much that you were speedily as fittingly marryed. But I hope that his Majestie and your Highnes will in suche sorte approve of this laste agreement, as you will speedily bring this long treaty to a happy conclusion. For you may be pleased in your wisdomes to consider that yt is impossible in so greate a busines, and whereby so many goods may be expected, but that yt should not bee accompanyed with some things of hard digestion. I am out of hope of bringing things to any better tearmes, and therefore I deale clearly [page 27] with your Highnes, and doe not only moste humbly perswade, but on my knees beg that of you, that you eyther resolve to conclude this matche as you may. or speedily to breake, and to bestowe yourselfe elsewhere, for no lesse than the happines of your kingdomes and the securitie of the King your father and selfe depend upon yt.
And these were the laste letters of any moment that the Earl of Bristoll wrote to the King or Prince before his Highnes departure out of England towards Spayne. So that yf yt shall be considered from the Earl of Bristoll's first letters [blank in manuscript.] of July, to these his laste, hee wondrethe where those delayes and intertaynments will bee found wherewith the Earl of Bristoll hathe beene charged.
And according to this answeare the Earl of Bristoll did settle all the temporall articles in Spayne in suche sorte as all things mighte punctually have beene perfourmed in conformitie of this agreement, vizt., that the portion should bee that which appeared to have beene agreed unto by this King's father; that the person that should attend the Infanta into England should bee Don Duarte of Portugall; that the desposorios per verba de præsente should bee perfourmed within twenty dayes after the arrivall of the dispensation at Madrid.
That the Infanta's journey towards England should bee within twenty dayes after that; which forty dayes were condescended unto, to the end that yf there should have beene any clogg in the dispensation, and that yt should not have beene cleare, they might have had forty dayes to have sent and gotten answeare from Rome. For the Earl of Bristoll solemnly protested that yf that tyme were exceeded hee would dissolve the treaty and presently returne.
For the porte where the Infanta was to take shipping, yt was
reserved to his Majesties choyse, whether yt should bee Lisbonne,
San Andera, or the Groyne; and to this purpose was Gresley dispatched
into England, to knowe his Majesties pleasure, and to
move his Majestie that all fitting preparations mighte bee likewise
made in England; and as hee entred into France with the dispatches,
hee mett with the Prince and my Lord Duke of Buckinghame,
who were pleased to open all his letters, and found in the
sayd dispatches the above specified particulars contayned: and in
this disposition was this greate affayre when they entred into
Madrid, which was the 7th of Marche, stilo Angliæ, 1622. And all
that is heere contayned in this discourse, eyther of matter of hope
or assurances, was there made good, and muche more unto them
vivâ voce by the King of Spayne, and Conde de Olivares and
Gondemar. Insomuche that the Prince publickly tolde the Earl of
Bristoll that hee would acquitt him of all the hopes hee had given,
and was pleased to write so muche unto his Majestie, and to give
him leave to write likewise himselfe to the same effect, the Prince
and the Duke having seene the Earl of Bristoll's letter of the 10. of
Marche, before hee sent yt unto his Majestie, in which hee writethe,
there passed in Spayne suche an expression of joy, and so
greate declaration of gratefull acceptation of this action, as I dare
confidently say unto your Majestie, that whatsoever I have formerly
written of theyr professions, hathe now beene by many degrees
exceeded; as I doubt not but your Majestie will perceive from my
Lord of Buckinghames pen.
And the Earl of Bristoll remembrethe that on Sunday the 9th of Marche, being the third day after the Prince his arrivall at Madrid, the Prince going abroad in a coache to see the King, Queene, and Infanta, hee was attended in the coache by the Duke of Buckinghame, the Conde de Olivares, the Conde de Gondemar, Sir Walter Aston, and the Earl of Bristoll; where the Conde de Gondemar, muche magnifying the honor which the Prince had donne Spayne by this journey, asked the Conde de Olivares whether the King his master and hee would not avowe him to bee an honest man, by making good all the hopes and promises hee made unto the King of Greate Brittayne of theyr reall and sincere desiring of the matche in Spayne, and that the Conde de Bristoll was an honest man to; and that the Prince should finde in effect all that hee had written [page 29] to the King his master. The Conde de Olivares made answeare that they mighte bothe of them say theyr Nunc dimittis, and trouble themselves no farther, but to expect honor and reward from theyr masters for theyr service in having brought businesses unto those tearmes they were now.
For the King his master and the Prince being mett, and the Admirall [Buckingham] and hee, the one having that interest in the King of Greate Brittayne and the Prince his favour, and himselfe in his master's, and the busines so well disposed to theyr hands by the two Condes' care and industrie, yf they did not make bothe a marriage and perfect amitie and frendshipp, they would acquitt and discharge the Condes of Gondemar and Bristoll, and would bee content that the two favorites should beare the blame.[page 30]
The Earl of Bristol willingly accknowledgeth that in former tymes hee hath had many obligations unto the Duke of Buckingham, and if in the carriadge of the Spanish businesse the Earl of Bristol hath done any thing that hath bene distastfull unto his Grace, it meerly proceeded out of his zeale to his Majesties service, when hee thought that other courses or other councells would more have conduced to his Majesties endes then those which the Duke poursued; but not through wante of dew respect unto his Grace's person; and as hee freely accknowledgeth past favours, so will hee omitt nothing on his parte for the regaining of his Grace's love and good opinion for the future, that may bee done without blemishing his honor or wronging his innocencye; and so, hoping that his Grace will accept of this affectionate and humble seeking of him, the Earl of Bristoll offereth to his Grace the following answers to those propositions which hee receaved in writing from him this 2. of Feb. 1624, to the ende that his Grace, beeing by them fully satisfyed of the Earl's innocencye (as hee is confident his Grace or any man else will bee that shall read the sayde answers), his Grace may with the more readinesse and efficacye imploye his power for reconciling of the sayd Earl unto his Majesties and the Prince's favours, when he shall see him an innocent man, as well as desirous for the future to bee his Grace's humble servant and friend. [page 31]
THE FIRST PROPOSITION.
That the Earl of Bristol did accept and continew the treaty in generall tearmes so long without reducing them punctually to particulars, as by them tyme was lost, and the Spanish ministers tooke occasion to abuse his Majestie, for which the Earl is sorrye.
In this first proposition the Earl of Bristol craveth leave to answer to three particulars: first, that he did not continew the treaty in generall tearmes one day longer than necessitye inforced; secondly, that if tyme were lost, and the treaty reduced to great length, it was by other accidents, as the death of the King of Spayne, and of two Popes, ettc. but by no fault of the Earl of Bristol's; thirdly, that if the Spanish ministers did abuse his Majestie at that tyme, as it seemes is supposed, which the Earl knoweth not, yet ther could no greater assurances passe betwixt States then hee receaved from Spayne of thier reall intentions, which hee trewly represented to his Majestie, and it seemeth that his Majestie, the Prince, the Duke, and all the Commissioners gave as much beliefe unto them then as the Earl of Bristol did. As for the first pointe, that the Earl should continew the treaty uppon generallityes, hee sayth that hee doubteth not but his Majestie and the Lords Commissioners well remember that his directions were not to setle nor treat the temporall articles untill such tyme as the articles of religion were fully agreed of, for that it was held most proper and honorable for both sides first to see if the difficultyes of religion might bee reconciled before they passed to any further engagements. Now the sayde articles of religion by reason of the Pope's new demaunds sent unto England by Mr. Gage were not signed nor condiscended unto by his Majestie nor the Prince untill the 5th day of Jan. 1622, and then were sent away [page 32] post by Mr. Symon Digbie, who arrived at Madrid about the 25th of the same moneth. But the Earl of Bristol's care was such to have no tyme lost in the setling of the temporal articles that, before hee would condiscend only de bene esse unto the articles of religion, and that they should bee sent backe agayne unto Rome, hee procured the King of Spayne to promis that within the tyme limited for the procuring of the dispensation, which was by March or Aprill at the furthest, all the temporall articles should bee setled and agreed, to the end that the Infanta might be delivered at the spring, as by the sayde answer in writing was declared to bee that Kinges intention; and accordingly Sir Walter Aston and the Earl of Bristol did, not in the generall, but most industriously labour with all particuler articles, as they did most of them, videlicet, that the portion should bee two millions, it appearing it was so agreed by this Kinges father; that, the dispensation comming, the desposorios should bee within 40 dayes after, and the Infanta's departure from Madrid should bee within 20 dayes after that; that Don Duarte of Portugal should bee the man that should attend the Infanta in the journey; and all other particulers necessarye for the conclusion of the sayde treaty were by Sir Walter Aston and the Earl of Bristol and the Spanish Commissioners drawne upp into heads in writing, and after many debates they were consulted with that King, and the 2. of March stilo vet. the Conde of Gondomar and the Secretary Don Andreas de Prada came home to the house of the sayd Earl of Bristol to signifye unto Sir Walter Aston and himselfe, as they did, that the King had declared his resolution in all the particulers, and given them order to come to a speedy conclusion with them of all thinges; and that the Kinges answer to the sayde Consulta the Earl of Bristol saw and read all written with the King of Spaynes owne hand.
On the 7th of March his Highness and my Lord Duke of Buckingham arrived at Madrid, and then the Spaniards tooke new hopes, and the negotiation was putt into a new forme; so that when it is objected against the Earl of Bristol that he entertayned and [page 33] continewed the treaty so long uppon generalities, that certainly cannot bee meant of the spirituall articles, for they were such as were sent from Rome to England, and from thence they came to the Earl of Bristol; and for the temporall articles, they not beeing to bee setled or treated till the articles of religion were concluded, certainly it cannot bee alleaged with any coulour that in them his Majestie was intertayned with generallityes; since from the tyme that the sayde articles of religion were brought unto the Earl of Bristol by Mr. Symon Digbie, beeing the 25th of Jan., ther were but nine weekes untill the 7th of March, when the Prince arrived, and in the interim all the above specifyed particulers were setled.
2ndly. That the tyme that hath bene lost in this treaty hath not bene through the Earl of Bristol's fault.
And for as much as it is pretended that much tyme hath bene spent in this treaty, it is very trew; but that hath bene by the difficultyes which the businesse brought with it, as likewise by exteriour accidents, as the warres of Bohemia, the death of two Popes, and the King of Spayne, without the least fault of the Earl of Bristol, who was ever so desirous to see the Prince bestowed, that hee pressed nothing so much both to the King and Prince, as that the Prince might loose no more tyme, but rather breake the matche with Spayne then suffer any further delayes, as will appeare by his dispatches from his first arrivall at the Court of Spayne untill the Prince's coming; for, in his letters of the 28th of Jun[e], beeing the first that the Earl of Bristol wrote after his first audience, hee was so desirous that no tyme might bee lost, that in them hee craveth leave of his Majestie, that in case hee should finde any delayes in Spayne, hee might, without expecting any new order, take his leave and come home. And uppon the returne of Sir Frauncis Cottington in Septem[ber] following, hee writeth both to the King and Prince as followeth:
I shall presume to add to that which Mr. Cottington will deliver unto your Majestie by word of mouth of the present estate [page 34] of the matche, what I conceave to bee the right way to bring it to a speedy issue, that your Majestie wilbee pleased possitively to declare what you will doe in point of religion, and that you will appoynt mee a certeyne limited tyme by which this King should procure the dispensation, or conclude the matche without it, and, in case ther shall bee any further delay therin, that I may then declare your Majestie to bee free and desengaged to bestowe the Prince in such sorte as you shall judge most convenient.
And to the Prince, at the same tyme, hee wrote in the subsequent wordes:
That which will bee necessary for his Majestie presently to doe on his Majesties parte, is to declare himselfe how farr hee wil bee pleased to extend, in pointe of religion, in such forme as Mr. Cottington will propound unto your Highness, and that hee sett mee a prefixed limited tyme to breake or conclude the match, either with the dispensation or without it; and for the rest, it may bee left to my negotiation. But your Highness may bee pleased to hasten this his Majesties resolution with all possible speede.
And having receaved from his Majestie his resolution in point of religion, and a limited tyme according to his desyre, the Earl of Bristol was so precise and punctuall therein, that, although the making or breaking of the marriadge depended uppon it, hee would not give one moneth's longer tyme for the procuring of the dispensation untill hee had first acquainted his Majestie therewith, and receaved his direction under his owne hande, as will appeare by his Majesties letter of the 15th of Octo[ber], 1622, as followeth:
Right trustie and wellbeloved Cousin and Councellor, wee greete you hartily well. Wheras by your last letter written to our secretary, dated the 29 of Septem[ber], you are desirous to have our pleasure signified unto you under our owne hand, whether wee will bee contented or not to graunte a moneth longer tyme for the comming of the dispensation from Rome than wee have allready limited unto you, in case they shall their conclude all thinges else to our contentment, with a resolution to send the Infanta hither the [page 35] next spring, wee doe hereby declare unto you that, in that case, you shall not breake with them for a moneth's longer delay; wee also wishe you not to trouble yourselfe with the rashe censure of other men, in case our businesse should not succeede, resting in that full assurance of our justice and wisedome, that wee will never judge a good and faythfull servant by the effects of thinges so contingent and variable. And with this assurance wee bidd you hartily farewell.
And when the Earl of Bristol had agreed unto the articles in religion, and that a settled tyme was appointed for the comming of the dispensation, and a conclusion of the match, and that hee would bynde himselfe to nothing without his Majesties approbation, yet, for that no tyme might bee lost, he agreed to the propositions de bene esse, to the end the articles might bee sent immediately to Rome, without loosing so much tyme as to hear first from England, and humbly moved that, in case his Majestie should approve of the articles, hee would send his approbation directly to Rome, for the gayning of tyme, which his Majestie was pleased to doe. And at the same tyme hee wrote both to his Majestie and the Prince in his lettres of the 10th of Decem[ber], 1622, as followeth:
This is the trew estate of the businesse, as it now standeth. Yf your Majestie approve of what is done I hope it will have a happy and short conclusion. Yf your Majestie thinketh it not fitt to condiscend and allowe of these articles, I have done the uttmost of my endeavours, and shall humbly perswade your Majestie not to loose a day longer in the treaty, so much it importeth your Majestie and your kingdomes that the Prince were bestowed.
And to the Prince, in letters of the like date, in this sorte:
I presume now to write unto his Majestie that which I thinke my duty to say likewise unto your Highness, that in case you shall not approve of what is now conditionally agreed, you permitt not a day more to be lost in this treaty, for it is of so great consequence that your Highness were bestowed, that it importeth almost as much [page 36] that you were speedily as fittingly matched. But I hope that his Majestie and your Highness will in such sorte approve of this last agreement, as you will speedily bring this long treaty to a happy conclusion. For you may bee pleased in your wisedomes to consider that it is impossible in so great a businesse, and whereby so many goods may bee expected, but that it should bee accompanyed with some thinges of hard digestion. I am out of hope of bringing thinges to any better tearmes, and therefore I deale clearly with your Highness, and doe not only moste humbly perswade, but on my knees begg that of you, that you either resolve to conclude the matche as you may, or speedily to breake it, and to bestowe yourselfe elsewhere. For no lesse then the happinesse of your kingdomes, and the security of the Kinge your father and selfe, depend uppon it.
All which thinges being equally considered, the Earl of Bristol willingly submitteth himself to any censure, whether those delayes which severall accidents have brought forth in this businesse can be attributed to his default, since, on the one side, it is apparent that hee ever moved his Majestie and the Prince to admitt of no delayes, but rather to thinke of some other course; and, on the other side, it will appeare by all his dispatches that hee pressed thinges with the ministers of Spayne to as speedy a conclusion as the utmost tearmes of fayre negotiation or good manners would beare.
3rdly. Howsoever it may be supposed that the Spaniards abused the King, yet the Earl of Bristol did all thinges belonging to a faythfull and vigilant minister.
And whereas it is pretended that the Spaniards should hereby take occasion to abuse his Majestie, the Earl of Bristol sayth that he used all the industry and vigilancy that a carefull minister could doe, and had from the Spaniards all the assurances by oathes, wordes, and writing, which could be expected from Christians, the which hee faythfully, without adding or deminishing, represented unto his Majestie; and his Majestie in those tymes was pleased to conceave uppon those assurances that they dealt really with him, and hee [page 37] conccaveth the Prince and the Duke were pleased to write as much unto the King at thier first comming to Madrid, and if, since his Majestie hath just reason to conceave the contrary, his Majestie hath the juster ground of quarrell. But the Earl of Bristol confesseth that he was so confident that the Spaniards did then meane honestly, and intended to performe all that was agreed, that he bestowed a great summ of money in his preparations; and, although hee was not furnished with any moneyes out of the Exchequer, yet, because hee would bee sure to bee in a readinesse, hee returned twelve thousand pownds in monye out of his owne private estate for the expence of his journey, so confident was hee that all would have bin really performed; and he conceaveth that if his dispatches may bee perused, it will appeare that hee served his Majestie with some measure of vigilancy as well as fidelitye.
THE SECOND PROPOSITION.
That in the treaty for restitution of the Palatinate hee, the Earl of Bristol, hath never made mention, nor comprised in any article, the restitution of the person of the Prince Palatine, or at least gave no satisfaction to the Prince, when the Conde of Olivares tould him he understood it soe.
To this proposition the Earl of Bristol sayth that in the treaty for the restitution of the Palatinate, both with the Archduke, the Emperor, and afterward with Spayne, hee did ever mention the individuall person of the Prince Palatine, and further sayth, that hee never would so much as admitt of any proposition that comprised not the sayd personall restitution, which will appeare by all his dispatches, and by his memorialls in writing, which, as hee delivered to the ministers of Spayne, so hee still sent trew coppyes of them to his Majestie, the which hee assureth himselfe remayne in the custody of some of his Majesties Secretaries; and although the producing of [page 38] them alone would fully cleare this pointe, yet, for the shewing with what zeale and industry hee hath served his Majestie and the Prince Palatine in this business, he craveth leave to answer it more particularly by setting downe how hee hath carryed himselfe in this business.
Presently, after his arrivall at the Court of Spayne, the Earl of Bristol made unto that King this proposition, which is heere sett downe verbatim:—
The Earl of Bristol's first proposition] unto the King of Spayne for the restitution of the Prince Palatine, in writing.
That his Catholique Majestie will bee pleased to bee the meanes unto the Emperour that hee may receave the Count Palatine into his favour and grace, and to restore him unto his titles, landes, and dignityes in the manner as he held them before hee did putt himselfe unto the businesse of Bohemia, the King of Great Brittaine taking to his charge to reduce the sayde Count Palatine to dew obedience to the Emperour; and that hee shall doe all that shall bee just and reasonable for the satisfaction of his Emperiall Majestie.
And this proposition after a carefull debate of the present estate
of that businesse was made by the advise of Sir Walter Aston and
Sir Frauncis Cottington, as judging it fitt by engaging that King to
an intyre restitution of the Prince Palatine to secure the mayne
ground of the businesse, which was done accordingly, as will clearly
appeare by the Earl of Bristol's dispatch unto Mr. Secretarie Calvert,
bearing date the 9th of August, 1622. Afterward hee moved and
negotiated uppon every particuler occasion, according as the nature
of each accident requiried, wherin hee doubteth not but it will
playnely appear how vigilant and carefull hee was to lay hold of all
occasions that might advaunce this businesse; both in the tyme of
Don Baltazar de Zuniga, and afterward with the Conde de Olivares,
whome hee procured in the moneth of October, 1622, in the presence
of the Conde de Gondomar and Sir Walter Aston to promise that
the Kinge should procure his Majesties intyre satisfaction, and,
rather then fayle, hee should doe it by his armes; and this, whatsoever
may bee sayde that the Conde de Olivares may since have
whispered, shall bee proved undeniably; and was confirmed twice
out of that Kinges owne mouth, as will appeare, as well by the
dispatches of Sir Walter Aston of the 12th of December, 1622, as
by those of the Earl of Bristol's, within few days after that that
King and the Conde de Olivares had made this promise of assisting
with thier armes, if neede were, the newes came to Madrid of taking
of Hidelberg, whereof the Earl of Bristol complayned sharpely to
the Conde de Olivares, and desired present order for the saving of
Manham and Franquendale, which the Conde de Olivares promised
him, and sent him that Kinges letters of as effectuall and earnest
mediation to the Emperour, Duke of Bavaria, and the Infanta, as
could be written. But the Earl of Bristol would not accept of them
nor send them away, but protested unto the Spanish ministers, and
particulerly unto the Conde de Olivares (betwixt whom and the
Earl of Bristol ther grew theruppon a great contestation) , that hee
would not accept of any thing lesse then what had bin so lately
promised by that King and himselfe, which was, that if mediation
tooke not place, that King would imploy his armes in his Majesties
assistance; and the Earl of Bristol prevayled so farr that hee gott that
Kinges order, by his letters bearing date the 29th of October, 1622,
that in case that the Emperour or Duke of Bavaria would not forbeare
those townes wherin his Majestie had his garrisons, that the
King of Spaynes forces in the Palatinate should be imployed in thier
assistance, and that they should not suffer any wrong to bee done
them by any other whatsoever; and these letters the Earl of Bristol
sent away presently to Brussells by Mr. Gresley, and his Majestie is
pleased in his letters of the 24th of November, 1622, to write of
them as followeth:—
That howsoever the order given for the reliefe
of Manham arrived to late, and after the town was yeelded into the
handes of Tilly, yett wee must acknowledg it to bee a good effect
of your negotiation, and an argument of that Kinges sincere and
sound intentions. So just was his Majestie then, and so the Earl
of Bristol knoweth his Majestie will ever bee, to judge of his ministers
by their fidelitye and industry, and not by the successe of thinges
depending uppon accident or other mens faults. One thing further
the Earl of Bristol desireth may be observed in this letter of the
King of Spaynes, videlc., that in writing as well as by word of
mouth, that promis which the Conde de Olivares made of assisting
by armes, if neede required, is made good so farr as to make it
apparent that it was so promised, and order procured by the Earl of
Bristol for the performing of it accordingly; but why it hath not
bene performed, that remayneth betwixt the two Kinges, the one
to shew the accident or just reasons that hindred the performance,
the other to resent it in such sorte as hee shall judge fitting if hee
receave not just satisfaction. Afterward the Earl of Bristol pressing
the Conde de Olivares and the Spanish ministers to some finall
resolution, it is trew hee found them growe colder, and to answer
much with recrimination of the Prince Palatine's behaviour, as his
going into Alzatia, his taking prisoner the Landgrave of Darmstate,
&c., wheruppon the Earl of Bristol wrote unto his Majestie in his
letters of the 12th of December, that hee found them now to answer
so farr shorte of what hee was directed to require by his Majesties
letters of the 3rd of October, that hee would presently have left the
court, if hee had not bene expressly commanded the contrary by
his Majesties letters of the 14th of October, 1622, ordering him
that what answer soever hee should receave that hee should not
come away untill hee had first sent it unto his Majestie and receaved
new directions from him; wheruppon his Majesty, having by the
above specified dispatch of the 12th of December seene the trew
estate of the businesse, and how the Earl of Bristol had proceeded,
it is not probable that his Majestie would so farr have approved the
Earl's proceedinges, if hee had, contrary to his instructions, omitted
the person of the Prince Palatine, as his Majestie was pleased to doe
in his letters of the 7th of January, 1622, in which he writeth as
Concerning that other unfortunate knotty affayre of
the Palatinate, to say the trewth, as thinges stand, wee cannot tell
what you could have done more then you have done allready.
The letters last mentioned of his Majestie beare date the 7th of
January, and uppon the 7th of March next following the Prince
and the Duke arrived at Madrid, wher it seemeth they found the
ministers of Spayne well prepared in the treaty of the Palatinate;
for they tolde them that, in the businesse of the Palatinate, the
Kinge of Spayne should give his Majestie a blanke wherin to
frame his owne conditions, as will appeare by his Majesties letters
written after the Prince's returne into Englande unto the Earl the
8th of October 1623, in which hee writeth as followeth:—
must remember you as a ground to worke uppon, that our sonn did
write unto us out of Spayne that that Kinge would give us a
blanke in which wee might frame our owne conditions concerning
the Palatinate, and the same our sonn confirmeth to us now. If
afterwards the Spaniards altered ther language and manner of
treating both in that and other thinges, whersoere the fault was,
God knoweth the Earl of Bristol deserveth no parte of the blame of
it. Sure hee is that the Spanish ministers, at thier first comming,
gave so great assurances of thier reall intention to procure his
Majestie intyre satisfaction that the Earl of Bristol moved the Duke
to begin to treat that businesse in the interim, whilest the dispensation
came from Rome; but the Duke answered that it was fitter to
bee left to the negotiation of ambassadors, for that they came
thether, meaning the Prince and himselfe, to woo and make love,
and not to make warr; wheruppon all further treaty or speeche of
the Palatin was layde aside untill a litle before the Prince's
departure, for which the Earl conceaveth the Duke had his
Majesties speciall order. For his Majestie (judging the matche to
bee fully ended and concluded) commanded then the Duke and the
Earl of Bristol to assume and revyve agayne the businesse of the
Palatinate, as will appeare by his Majesties letters of the 23 of July
1623, directed jointly to the Duke and the Earl of Bristol, in
which his Majestie is pleased to write as followeth:—
Right trustye and right well beloved cousins and councellors, &c. Having now brought the mayne and principall businesse, which is the matche of our sonne, to a happy conclusion, as wee have lately understoode both from himselfe and by your dispatches, ther resteth two other perticulers of great importance, as you knowe; the one wherof is publique, namely, the restitution of our sonne in law and his posteritye to the Palatinate and dignity Electorall, the other private [the other was a scheme for a joint attack upon the Dutch]. Wee have thought fitt at this tyme to give you authoritye by this letter under our hand and signett, as hereby wee doe give you full authority and commission joyntly and severally, to proceede to the treaty of both those perticulers afore mencioned.
Further, it was the ordinary protestation of the Earl of Bristol to all the Spanish ministers that, although the matche with Spayne should bee concluded, yet it would bee impossible to continew peace betwixt the crownes of England and Spayne three moneths unlesse the Prince Palatine were restored both to his estates and dignityes, and hee ever publikely professed that, as great a friend as hee was to the matche, hee would bee the first that should advise his Majestie to a warr with Spayne in case it were not so; and during the tyme that he treated the businesse, the King of Spayne did publikely oppose the transferring of the Electorate uppon the Duke of Bavaria, although afterward, the state of thinges beeing changed, and the Spaniards hoping by the advantage which they had to mend thier conditions in all thinges they treated, it is trew that the Conde de Olivares moved that the Electorate might bee restored to the Prince Palatine's sonn, and not to himselfe; but the Earl of Bristol well remembreth that, as farr as with good manners hee might, hee playnely protested against it, and that very night that this had bene moved, hee wrote a paper of reasons showing that without the restitution of the Prince Palatine's individuall person the businesse was rendered impossible and untreatable. And the next morning hee brought the same paper and shewed it unto his [page 43] Highness, the which, because hee is fully perswaded that any man that shall read the sayd paper will never retayne any further doubt concerning the pointe, hee thinketh it fitt to insert the sayde paper here:—
A coppye of this paper the Earl of Bristol sent likewise unto his
Majestie, and hee is pleased to take notice of it by his letters of the
8th of October, writing as followeth:—
Now wee must remember
you that that wee ever understoode and expected that uppon the
marriadge of our sonne with the Infanta wee should have a cleere
restitution of the Palatinate and Electoral dignitye to our sonne in
lawe, to bee really procured by that King according to the obligation
of our honor, as you have well exprest in your reasons why
the person of our sonne in lawe should not bee left out of the
treaty. And this letter is all written with Mr. Secretary Conwayes
owne hande, and signed by his Majestie, so that it appearing by the
Earl of Bristol's dispatches, by his memorialls in writing, by his
Majesties owne accknowledgment, that the Earl of Bristol did mention and
compriz the restitution of the Prince Palatine's person, and
the acknowledgment that is required from the sayd Earl being
directly contrary therunto, besides that it were to make him guilty
of a most foule cryme to have omitted one of the chiefe points of
his instructions, the Earle referreth it to the Duke's own noblenesse
how much infamy he should incurr, if for any earthly respect
whatsoever hee should bee so base as to betray his owne innocencye
by making any such acknowledgment.
That when it was required that the breeding of the Prince Palatine's eldest sonn might bee with the Emperour, the Earl of Bristol gave advise and consent unto it, and the consideration of the change of his religion being propounded, the Earl of Bristol declared his opinion that without some such great thing the peace of Christendom could not bee had.
The Earl of Bristol sayth hee never gave any such advise nor consent that the Prince Palatine's sonn should bee bredd with the Emperour; but it is trew that, when the matche for the Prince Palatine's sonn with the Emperour's daughter was propounded as [page 46] the best means to accommodate those great differences, and was so judged likewise by his Majestie, as hee conceaveth will appeare by many severall orders and letters, hee did by way of debate and consultation of the businesse honestly and faythfully body those reasons which were alleaged by the Spanish ministers why the Emperour should expect to have the breeding of the Prince Palatine's sonn, vidlt. that, although the Prince Palatine should then have bene at the height of his fortunes, yet they sayd it could bee no disparagement to his sonn to match with the Emperour's daughter, but now the Prince Palatine, having justly offended the Emperour, and being under the Imperial bann and devested of his estates and honors, the which the Emperour was, out of his grace, to restore, they thought it would appeare reasonable to all the world that the Emperour should seeke to secure himselfe for the future of the Prince Palatine's behaviour, especially when hee sought to doe it by so fayre and honorable a way as not by barely craving the Prince Palatine's sonn as an hostage, as hath bene usuall in like cases, but by making of him his sonn in law and marrying of him to his daughter. These reasons the Earl of Bristol sayth, and divers others he conceaveth, hee hath represented unto the King and Prince; but that hee ever gave any consent as that, by any act or article, hee hath any way obliged his Majestie that the Prince Palatine's sonn should bee bredd with the Emperour, hee is assured it cann never bee made appeare; but hee sayth that in case, uppon the above specified reasons, hee should have delivered his humble opinion and advise unto the King and Prince according to the best of his understanding, hee conceaveth hee had comitted no fault at all, although hee had erred in judgment, but had honestly performed the dewty of a councellor, according to the oath hee had taken, who are ever tyed to fidelitye, but are not allwayes exempt from errour.
And wheras it is sayde that, when the consideration of the change of religion was propounded, the Earl of Bristol declared his opinion that without some such great thing the peace of Christendome could not bee had, the Earl of Bristol sayth that ther was never any such [page 47] thing propounded to him, neither did he ever declare any such, opinion, for if any such proposition should have bene made hee should have rejected it with indignation; but hee ever tolde the Conde de Olivares that, in case his Majestie should condiscend that the Prince Palatine's sonn should bee bredd with the Emperour, it was with presupposition that hee should have a famiiye and such preceptors for his education as his father and his Majestie should appointe. It is trew that in the debate of this matche and the present estate of the affayres of Christendome, both to his Majestie and the Prince hee hath written and sayd that it was not to bee thought that the peace of Christendome could bee restored, and they attayne so many advantages, but that they must likewise on ther part condiscend to some thinges of hard digestion, for that so great differences could never be accomodated but by a reciprocall yeilding of both sides; but this could never have any relation or bee understood of anything that concerned religion.
And as for the inference that is made that the breeding of the Prince Palatine's sonn in the Emperor's Court should implye his conversion, hee cannot but marvayle to see it further insisted uppon, having so fully answered it in his answer to the 2. interrogatorye, by which it appeareth that in the Emperour's Court all princes, although they are vassayles of the Empyre some his prisoners, others his counsellors, and servants nere about his person have the free use of ther religion; and it is not to bee supposed that the sonn of the Prince Palatine and grandchilde to the Kinge of Great Brittaine should bee matched and no care had to capitulate the free use of his religion, beeing ever graunted to the meanest princesse that is bestowed. Hee knoweth not what others might have done, but hee is certayne that, if the businesse had bene treated by him, hee would not have made so grosse an omission, but would have sufficiently secured that point, as hee ever made profession to the Conde de Olivares and the Spanish ministers, for which it is well knowne hee hath had many a byword, and they laboured to shunn and avoyde the treating therin with him.[page 48]
When his Majestie had given a peremptory day for the returne of the Prince, the Earl did advise his stay untill the spring, and did endeavour to stay him, with more earnestnesse then became him, not foreseeing the evill consequence, for which he is sorrye.
First, the Earl of Bristol sayth that hee never heard that his Majestie had prescribed the Prince a peremptorye day for his returne, but hee well remembreth that, in the beginning of August, the Conde de Olivares sent very early in the morning to desire to speake with him, and tolde him that, contrary to that which had bene few dayes before promised both unto the Infanta and the King, the Duke of Buckingham would needes now perswade the Prince presently to returne, although they understoode both from thier ambassadors in England that his Majestie would not bee displeased with the Prince's stay, and that the Duke himselfe had shewed him a letter from the King all written with the King's owne hand, that intimated as much, in which the King wrote that if the Prince beeing inamoured would stay to attend his mistress, hee might; but that hee would have him with all convenient speede returne unto him. Hee likewise sayde, that the Kinges owne letter to the Kinge of Spayn, bearing date the 21st of July 1623, although it pressed the Kinge to abreviate the tyme as much as might bee, yet it seemed no way [to] implye any commande unto the Prince for his present returne, and hee gave unto the Earl of Bristol a coppye of the sayd letter. The Conde was then pleased to attribute that suddaine resolution to some personall distastes which the Duke had taken some few dayes before. From the Conde de Olivares the Earl of Bristol came unto the Prince's lodginges, wher, wayting on his Highness, his Highness was pleased to make knowne unto him that hee had an intention to departe [page 49] within few dayes. The Earl of Bristol then freely acquainted his Highness with all that had passed with the Conde de Olivares, and asked of his Highness whether hee would give him leave, as his father's minister and his humble servant, to debate the businesse with him, promising that when hee should have spoken his opinion faythfully as a councellor, hee would as a servant dutifully apply himselfe and all his indeavours to advance whatsoever hee should understande to bee the Prince's pleasure. As for the arguments and reasons which the Earl of Bristol offered unto his Highness consideration in the debate of his stay, although they are too long for this answer, yet the Earl of Bristol is most ready and willing to sett them downe faythfully, that his Majestie may judge whether therin hee spake not like a faythfull and zealous servant for the effecting of that hee understoode to bee by them both most desired. But when the Prince declared his resolution of going, the Earl of Bristol then instantly swore unto him that hee would from thenceforward contribute all his industrye and service for the advauncing of his journey; as hee honestly did, both by advising the best hee could uppon all occasions, and solliciting daylye to gett in a readinesse the Spanish preparations, and in fitting upp such presents as the Prince was to give at his departure; and lastly, by furnishing the Prince with monye to the som of fiftene thousand pownds uppon his owne creddit, and Jewells, and sixe thousand pownds afterward beeing charged uppon him from St. Andera, which by other meanes was, not then to bee had, as Mr. Secretarie Cottington and Mr. Wiche cannot but bothe of them well remember.
And after the departure of the Prince, notwithstanding the Prince's signification of his pleasure to have the desposorios suspended, and his Majesties direction to deferr them till Christmas, (the approbation comming of the dispensation,) the Earl of Bristol doth accknowledge that, out of the judgment hee made of the integrity of the Spanish ministers, hee passed over the arguments [page 50] hee might have used more slightly then was requesite, and accepted that approbation with a more speedye day appoynted for the performance of them then the present conjuncture of the affayres required; which though hee did uppon good intention, yet now seeing the evill consequence that might have depended on it, hee is sorrye for it.
The Earl of Bristol sayth that, the day of the Prince's departure
from the Escuriall, the Prince delivered unto him, in the presence
of the Commissioners of both sides, his powers, with publike declaration
(which was taken in writing by the Secretarie Ciria) of his
pleasure, and how hee should use them, vidtt: that hee should
deliver them unto the King of Spayne uppon the comming of the
dispensation cleared from Rome, according to that which had bene
agreed, which was to be within ten dayes after the comming of the
sayde dispensation. It is trew that his Highness, by his letters
without date, but sent by Mr. Clarke, commanded the sayde Earl
that hee should not deliver his powers untill such tyme as hee should
have receaved security that the Infanta, after her being betroathed,
should not enter into any religious order, and that, before he proceeded,
hee should send such securitye as should bee offered unto
the Prince, that hee might judge whether it were sufficient or not;
which letters the Earl of Bristol exactly obeyed, and wrote unto
the Prince that hee might bee sure hee would not proceede untill
hee should have his further order; and theruppon did accordingly
send unto the King and Prince such reasons and assurances as were
offered unto him for securing of that pointe, which gave unto his
Majestie and the Prince such satisfaction, as they were pleased to
dispatch a post presently backe unto him absolutely discharging him
of that commandement, as will appeare by his Majesties letters of
the 8th of October, in which he writeth:—
Wee have receaved
your letters brought by Gresley and the coppye of yours to our
deere sonn, and wee cannot forbeare to lett you know how well wee
esteeme your dutifull, discreete, and juditious relation and humble
advise to our selfe and our sonn; wheruppon having ripely deliberated
with our selfe, and communicated with our deere sonn, wee
have resolved with the liking of our sonn to rest uppon that securitye
in pointe of doubt of the Infanta's taking a religious order which
your judgment shall thinke fitt. And the Prince, in letters of the
like date, as followeth:—
Your letters to the King and mee concerning
that doubt I made, after I came from St. Lorenço, hath so
satisfied us both, that wee thinke it fitt no longer to sticke uppon
it, but leave it to your discretion to take such securitye as you shall
Now the Earl of Bristol beeing set free, and discharged both by the King and Prince of the commande brought by Mr. Clarke, it cannot bee doubted but hee remayned under the order which the Prince had left with him at his departure, which was to have proceeded according to the capitulations, and the Prince's declaration when hee delivered his powers to the Earl of Bristol; which was that hee intended to have done, untill, by his Highness letters of the 13th of November, hee was directly comanded the contrarye; which commandment hee readily and punctually obeyed, so that the Earl of Bristol referreth it to any indifferent judgment, whether ther bee any probabilitye that, having obeyed the Prince's commandment so exactly by Mr. Clarke untill hee was discharged of it, and afterwards having so readilye obeyed the Prince's order of the 13th of November, all things beeing in a readinesse, and the marriage beeing to have bene within three dayes after, whether it bee probable that hee, that at the first and at the last so readily obeyed, would have disobeyed in the midle if hee had any commandement to restraine him; but the trewth is, hee had none but incouragements rather to doe as hee intended, for hee could not imagine that his Majestie or his Highness would have sett him free of the restraynts layed uppon him by Mr. Clarke, if theire intention had not bene that hee should have proceeded; besydes, his Highness was pleased at the same tyme to write to the Earl of Bristol both that hee much desired the [page 52] marriadge, and that hee assureth him ther was no intention to breake it.
As for his Majesties direction to have the desposorios deferred till
Christmas, hee marvayleth to see it insisted still uppon, having
answered it so fully in the 18th article of his interrogatoryes. But
breefely, the Earl of Bristol sayth that his Majesties directions to
proceede to the marriage were possitive, but for the tyme his
Majestie only intimateth a desire it should bee at Christmas, if it
might well bee; but that was impossible for divers respects, both
that the King of Spayne would not condiscend to the proroguing of
the desposorios, and likewise for that the powers were expired before,
which not beeing made knowne unto the Kinge, was the cause of
his Majesties writing in that sorte, which otherwise hee would not
have done, as hee is pleased to say in his letters of the 13th of
November, 1623, which hee writeth:
Wee have read your letters
of the 8th of October, and the coppye of that power which was left
by our deere sonn: wee have examined and approved your reasons,
and doe assure you that, if wee had seene the power left by our sonn
befor[e] our last letters, wee had not written to you in the forme
wee had in ours of the 9th of October touching the tyme of Christmas.
Further, the Earl of Bristol sayth that this article, which is so much pressed, is not of any fault committed, but only of an intention of doing that for which hee had had sufficient warrant. But, if ther had bene errour in the intention, yet the fault had bene prevented by his obedience before the intention were reduced into act, for so it is in cases towards God himselfe. But the trewth is ther was no fault in this intention, but the Earl of Bristol could neyther with discretion, honestye, nor safetye, have proceeded otherwise then hee intended, unlesse hee had receaved the King and Prince's direct and cleare order not to proceede to the desposorios, which as soone as hee receaved was readily and exactly obeyed.
As for the integritye of the Spanish ministers, hee doth ingeniously confesse that hee verily beleved at the tyme when the day for the marriadge was agreed they intended really on the part of [page 53] Spayne to have performed all that was capitulated, and, if since the contrary cometh to bee certeinly knowne, wherof hee is ignorant, hee confesseth hee was therin deceaved.
As for the evill consequences which are pretended would have followed if hee had proceeded, hee must confesse hee understood the cleare contrary: for hee supposed that the King should have speedily seene the marriadge, which hee had so long sought, effected, that the Prince should have had a worthye ladie whom hee loved, that the portion should have bene three tymes as much as was ever given in monye in Christendome, that the King of Spayne had engaged himselfe for the restitution of the Palatinate, for which the Earl of Bristol conceaved a daughter of Spayne and 2 millions had bene no ill pawne, besydes divers other additions of advantages to the Crowne, all which, if it had not beene obteined, yet three moneths longer patience would after so many yeares have discovered the trewth of all thinges, for the first day of March was appoynted for the journey, wheras on the contrary side hee foresaw the Prince would bee kept a yeare at the least longer unmarryed, a thing that so highly concerned these kingdomes, hee doubted that the recovery of the Palatinate from the Emperor and Duke of Bavaria by force would prove of great difficultye, and that Christendome was like to fall into a generall combustion; so that, desiring on the one side that his master should have obteyned his ends, and on the other that his Majestie might have had the honor and happinesse not only to have given peace, plenty, and increase to his owne subjects and crownes, but to have compounded the greate differences that had bene these many yeares in Christendome, and by his pyety and wisdom to have prevented the shedding of so much Christian blood, as hee feared would ensue if those businesses were disordered, these reasons, hee confesseth, and his zeale unto his Majesties service, made him so earnestly desire the effecting of this businesse; and the Earl of Bristol confesseth hee cannot but thinke himselfe a most unfortunate man that, seeing his Majesties affayres so neere the beeing setled to his Majesties content as hee [page 54] conceaved, and hoping to have bene unto his master not only a faythfull but a successfull servante, to see the whole state of affayres turned upsyde downe without any the least fault of his, and yet that he should be the onely minister eyther on the English or Spanish side that remayneth under disgrace.
And having made unto these propositions this cleere and trew answer, the Earl of Bristol is confident that the Duke of Buckhingham, seeing his innocencye, will, according to that which hee had promised in his paper, uppon the accknowledgment of these supposed errours, doe it now more willinglye uppon the seeing of them cleered, vidt., imploye his power and force with the King and Prince to admitt the Earl to kisse thier handes and to receave him to their gratious favour, which if the Duke shall bee pleased to doe, the Earl will receave it for so high an obligation as hee will faythfully indeavour to deserve it by his best services.
Footnote 1, page ii: Bristol to Calvert, Jan. 22. S. P. Spain.
Footnote 2, page iii: Bristol to James I. Jan. 22. S.P. Spain.
Footnote 3, page iii: In lieu of, i.e. in exchange for. So in the Tempest, Act 1, Sc. 2.
This King of Naples, being an enemy
To me inveterate, hearkens my brother's suit;
Which was, that he, in lieu of the premises
Of homage, and I know not how much tribute,
Should presently extirpate me and mine
Out of the dukedom.
Footnote 4, page iii: Aston to Conway, Feb. 7. S.P. Spain.
Footnote 5, page vi: S. P. Dom. clxiv. 13.
Footnote 6, page vi: S. P. Dom. clxiv. 33.
Footnote 7, page vi: S. P. Dom. clxiv. 44.
Footnote 8, page vi: S. P. Dom. clxiv. 68.
Footnote 9, page vi: S. P. Dom. clxiv. 71.
Footnote 10, page vii: Nethersole to Carleton, May 15. S. P. Dom. clxiv. 86.
Footnote 11, page vii: State Trials, ii. 1296.
Footnote 12, page viii: Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 13, page viii: So writes Nethersole to Carleton, June 7. S. P. Dom. clxvii. 28.
Footnote 14, page viii: Bristol was not only ready but willing, as appears from his letter to Conway of July 15, to let the subject drop altogether, neither party saying anything more about the matter.
Footnote 15, page ix: Bristol to Cottington, June 1, Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 16, page x: Ellis, Orig. Letters, Ser. i. vol. iii, 167. The date can be approximately fixed by the mention of Buckingham's illness.
Footnote 17, page x: Dudley Carleton to Sir D. Carleton, June 7. S. P. Dom. clxvii. 26.
Footnote 18, page x: Only the minute of this letter has been preserved. Conway's Letter Book, S. P. Dom. p. 126.
Footnote 19, page xi: Nethersole to Carleton, June 7. S. P. Dom. clxvii. 28.
Footnote 20, page xi: Calvert and Weston to Conway, June 8. S. P. Dom. clxvii. 37.
Footnote 21, page xi: Conway to Calvert and Weston, June 9. S. P. Dom. clxvii. 38.
Footnote 22, page xi: State Trials, ii. 1291.
Footnote 23, page xi: The limiting clause
of the letter in question is,
In the meane tyme, because
his Majesty knowes not the extreamity
of your noble mother's sicknes, nor what
comfort may be denied to you both bye
restraint of visiting her, his Majesty hath
commanded me to signifie his pleasure to
you (his Majesty conceiving that your
mother lies in London or Westminster, or
neare there,) that you visitt your mother
with this caution and advice, that in time
and manner you use it as privately as
conveniently you may. Conway to Bristol, June 24. S. P. Dom. clxviii. 32.
Footnote 24, page xii: The 10th is the date of an abstract signed by Bristol himself. (S. P. Dom. clxix. 46.) Mrs. Green dates this, as well as the answers themselves, July 11, having perhaps some evidence that they were sent in on that day.
Footnote 25, page xii: Bristol to Conway, July 15. S. P. Dom. clxx. 6.
Footnote 26, page xxii:
Footnote 27, page xii: Charge against Conway, Art. 6, State Trials, ii. 1291.
Footnote 28, page xii: State Trials, ii. 1296.
Footnote 29, page xii: See, however, Bristol's letter to Conway of the 27th at p. xv. where he complains that James had only read the abstract.
Footnote 30, page xiii: Bristol to Conway, July 25. Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 31, page xiii: Minute. Conway's Letter Book, p. 138. S. P. Dom.
Footnote 32, page xiv: State Trials, ii. 1296.
Footnote 33, page xiv: Cottington to Bristol, July 22. Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 34, page xiv: Minute. Conway 's Letter Book, p. 138.
Footnote 35, page xiv: State Trials, ii. 1296.
Footnote 36, page xiv: Bristol to Conway, July 27. S, P. Dom. clxx. 68.
Footnote 37, page xvi: Mrs. Green has calendared under July ? a paper of notes in Conway's hand (S. P. Dom. clxx. 69) which is in reality a rough draft of a paper sent Feb. 2, 1625, properly calendared under that date. S. P. Dom. clxxxiii. 13.
Footnote 38, page xvi: Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 39, page xvii: Clerke's presence must have been particularly irritating to Bristol, he having been the instrument used to put a trick on him after the Prince's departure from Madrid.
Footnote 40, page xvii: Bristol to Conway, September 23. S. P. Dom. clxxii. 50.
Footnote 41, page xviii: Bristol to Conway, Oct. 26. S. P. Dom. clxxiii. 98.
Footnote 42, page xviii: Minute of Conway's letter, Nov. 4. Conway's Letter-Book, p. 164. S. P. Dom.
Footnote 43, page xviii: Bristol to Buckingham, Jan. 13, 1625. Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 44, page xviii: Bristol to James I., Jan. 13, 1625. S. P. Dom. clxxxi. 54.
Footnote 45, page xix: S. P. Dom. Charles I. xviii. 34, i.
Footnote 46, page xix: S. P. Dom. clxxxiii. 13.
Footnote 47, page xx: The five propositions are omitted here, as being inserted in the text of No. II.
Footnote 48, page xx: Bristol to Buckingham, February 8, 1625. Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 49, page xxi: S. P. Dom. Charles I. xviii. 34, i.
Footnote 50, page xxi: Bristol to Buckingham, Feb. 27, 1625. Harl. MSS. 1580, fol. 146.
Footnote 51, page xxii: On the 26th of February Chamberlain writes (S. P. Dom. clxxxiv. 47):—The Earle of Bristow comes to towne this night, having taken Sir Thomas Watson's lodgings, though the common voyce had assigned him another lodging; but yt is saide now the King will have him shortly reconciled to the Prince and Duke of Buckingham, without any repetition of former matters. On the 22nd of March (S. P. Dom. clxxxiii. 91) Chamberlain again writes:—The Earl of Bristow hath not yet resigyned (i.e. his Vice-Chamberlainship), nor is not to come to towne—whatsoever I heard or wrote till he be sent for, or till the next term at soonest.
Footnote 52, page xxii: S. P. Dom. clxxxv. 59, ii.
Footnote 53, page xxii: Bristol to Sir K. Digby, March 16, 1625. S. P. Dom. clxxxv. 59.
Footnote 54, page xxii: Bristol to Buckingham, March 16, 1625. S. P. Dom. clxxxv. 59 i.
Footnote 55, page xxiv: State Trials, ii. 1297.
Footnote 56, page xxv: Bristol to Charles I. Bristol to Buckingham. Undated Sherborne MSS.
Footnote 57, page xxv: State Trials, ii. 1297.
Footnote 58, page xxv: S. P. Dom. Charles I. xviii. 34, i.
Footnote 59, page xxv: Bristol to Sir K. Digby, May 27, 1625. Add. MSS. 9806, fol. 1.
Footnote 60, page xxvi: The Earl of Pembroke.
Footnote 61, page xxvii: i.e. feeling for.
Footnote 62, page xxviii: Charles I. to Bristol, June 10, 1625. S. P. Dom. Charles I. xviii. 34, i.
Footnote 63, page xxviii: Bristol to Buckingham, July 17, 1625. S. P. Dom. iv. 69.
Footnote 64, page xxix: State Trials, ii. 1297.
Footnote 65, page xxix: S. P. Dom. xviii. 34.
Footnote 66, page xxix: The King's letter of June 10, at p. xxviii., was sent to Beecher by Conway on the llth. See Conway's Minute Book, p. 218.
Footnote 67, page xxx: See Bristol's next letter, p. xxxi.
Footnote 68, page xxx: Charles I. to Bristol, January 20, 1626. S. P. Dom. xviii. 106.
Footnote 69, page xxx: Bristol to Conway, February 6, 1626. Harl. MSS. 1580, fol. 143.
Footnote 70, page xxxi:
Footnote 71, page xxxi: i.e.
Footnote 72, page xxxi: Bristol to Conway, March 4, 1626. Harl. MSS. 1580, fol. 148.
Footnote 73, page xxxiii: Conway to Bristol, March 21, 1626. S. P. Dom. xxiii. 46. Printed in Rushworth, i. 234.
Footnote 74, page xxxiii: The words in brackets are from Rushworth, the remainder is a copy in the handwriting of Conway's secretary.
Footnote 75, page xxxiii: Bristol to Conway, March 30. S. P. Dom. xxiii. 102. Printed in Rushworth, i. 234.
Footnote 76, page xxxiv: The words in italics are underlined in the MS., which is the original letter with autograph signature.
Footnote 77, page xxxv: See p. xv.
Footnote 78, page xxxv: Lord Keeper Coventry to Bristol, March 31, 1626. Printed in Rushworth, i. 238.
Footnote 79, page xxxvi: Bristol to Lord Keeper Coventry, April 12, 1626. Printed in Rushworth, i. 238.
Footnote 80, page xxxvi: So the name stands in Rushworth; but the next letter shows that Cottington's should be substituted for it.
Footnote 81, page xxxvii: Bristol to Conway, April 12, 1626. S. P. Dom. xxiv. 68.
Footnote 82, page xxxvii: See p. xxiv. The letters themselves have not been preserved.
Footnote 87, page 9: Properly, at the time of the first appointment of the Commission, Attorney-General.
Footnote 91, page 11: This paper is printed in the State Trials (ii. 1408) with some verbal difference, and the omission of one clause "and whereby your Highnes issue will have the most undoubted and unquestionable royal blood."
Footnote 92, page 13: Blank in MS. Perhaps the name of the sender had been here inserted in the original.
Footnote 96, page 15: Diego de la Fuente, Gondomar's confessor.
Footnote 99, page 15: Of ducats; they were to be of twelve reals or 6s. each, the whole sum being £150,000.
Footnote 101, page 17: Baltazar de Zuniga, uncle of Olivares.
Footnote 102, page 45: That Bristol did not use these words with
respect to the young Prince's change
of religion is shown, I think, by a
paper calendared by Mrs. Green (S. P. Dom.
clxxx. 102) as
Points on which the Earl
of Bristol's proceedings were examined.
In reality there is no evidence that Bristol
was ever examined upon them at all.
It consists of notes, drawn up by some one who
had been in Spain, of Bristol's
conduct, and the language is such as to leave
no doubt in my mind that it proceeded
from Buckingham himself. If this is the
case, the following extract shows that
Buckingham, at some time or other, gave
an account of the conversation substantially
agreeing with that now given by Bristol,
as he represented the conversion
of the Prince not as having been mentioned by
Bristol, but merely as a consequence
drawn in his own mind from Bristol's language
about the boy's education:
when they began to presse new conditions upon
us, as the breedinge of the King's
grandchild in the Emperour's Courte, which
implyed a conversion, hee liked of
it, and, when the Prince said he had rather
breake the match then satisfye them
in that pointe, he answered that, without
some such greate matter, the busines would
never be brought to passe.