Under no dynasty in the world have great national changes been so dependent on the personal aims of princes as in England under the Tudors. Just as all Henry VIII's subsequent proceedings were determined by the affair of the divorce, so also the policy of his three children was due to the relations into which they were thrown by their birth.
No one however could derive the course of English history at this epoch from this cause alone. How could Henry VIII have even thought of detaching his kingdom from the Roman See, but for the ancient and deep-seated national opposition to its encroachments? But the nation had also for ages had manifold and deep sympathies with Rome; and Mary Tudor allied herself with these. Together with subjective personal agencies, national influences of universal prevalence were at work. The different leanings of the sovereigns appear as exponents of opposite tendencies already existing in the nation. The struggle between these was decided when, as in the reign of Elizabeth, the most vigorous nature combined with the most powerful interests and the most influential motives to gain the mastery, although others of a different character were still by no means suppressed.
Now however the energetic race of the Tudors had disappeared from the throne. By the right of natural inheritance another family ascended it, which had its roots and associations in Scotland, the crown of which country it united with that of England. If a long time elapsed before the English commonwealth was as closely attached to the new dynasty as it had been to the old, under which it had developed; so it is also clear that the point of view from which this dynasty started could not be exactly the same as that which had hitherto prevailed. This could not be expected under a prince who had already reigned for a quarter of a century and had long ago taken up, in his native country, a firm position with regard to the great conflicts of the age. This position we must first of all endeavour to represent.
Origin of fresh dissension in the Church.
Our eyes again turn to the man to whom the last great religious and political change in Scotland is mainly due—John Knox?.
We find him, propped on his staff and supported on the other side by a helping arm, stepping homewards from the church where he had once more performed a religious service: the multitude of the faithful lined the road, and greeted him with reverence. He could no longer walk alone, or raise his voice as before; it was only in a more confined space that he used still to gather a little congregation round him, to whom on appointed days and at fixed hours he proclaimed the teaching of the Gospel with unabated fire. He lived to hear of the wildest outbursts of the struggle on the continent, and to pronounce his curse on the King of France, who had taken part in the massacre of St. Bartholomew; but, in one respect, he was more fortunate than Luther, who in his last days was threatened with mischief from hostile elements about him which he could not control; for around John Knox all was peace. He thanked God for having granted him grace, that by his means the Gospel was preached throughout Scotland in its simplicity and truth: he now desired nothing more than to depart out of this miserable life; and thus, without pain, in November 1572, after bearing the burden and heat of the day, he fell asleep.
With him and his contemporaries the second generation of the reformers came to an end. They had fought out the battle against the papacy, and had established the foundations of a divergent system: now however a third generation arose, which had to encounter violent storms within the pale of the new confession itself.
In Scotland the Regents Mar? and Morton? now thought it necessary, even for the sake of the constitution, in which the higher clergy formed an important element, to restore episcopacy, which had been laid low in the tumult of the times; and to fill the vacant offices with Protestant clergy, appointed however in the old way, by the election of the chapters on the recommendation of the Government: it was desired at the same time to invest them with the power of ordination and a certain jurisdiction. Knox was at least not hostile to this measure. The resolution to convene an assembly of the Church at Leith was formed while he was still alive, and was ratified by Parliament in January 1573.
But in the Church, which had formed itself in perfect independence by means of free association, this project, which besides was spoiled by many blunders in the execution, necessarily provoked strong opposition. Andrew Melville? may be regarded as Knox's successor in the exercise of the authority of leader; a man of wide learning, who had in his composition still more of the professor than of the preacher, and united convictions not less firm than those of Knox with an equal gift of eloquence. He however on principle excluded episcopacy in any form from the constitution, as, in his opinion, the Scriptures recognised only individual bishops: he especially disapproved of the connexion between the bishops and the crown. The spiritual and the temporal powers he considered to be distinct kinds of authority, of which the one was as much of divine right as the other. But he did not regard the clergy or ministry of preaching as alone charged with spiritual authority: he thought that the lay elders formed the basis of this authority: that, once elected, they were permanent, had themselves a spiritual rank, watched over the purity of doctrine, took the lead in the call of the preachers, and, together with these, formed assemblies by whose conclusions every member of the congregation was bound. A General Assembly erected on this basis had the legislative authority in the Church, with the right of visitation and of spiritual correction. It was incumbent on the King to protect them; but he was amenable to their sentence. Such is the discipline laid down in the Second Book175, which was approved in the year 1578, in a General Assembly, of which Melville was Moderator1.
With these opposite principles before his eyes, the young King grew up. He showed himself to be imbued with the reformed doctrine, but he was decidedly averse to this form of church government, which created a power in the nation intended to counterbalance and withstand that of the monarch. The political views of his teachers, highly popular as they were, awoke in him, as was natural, the inborn feelings of a king. He longed with all his soul for the restoration of episcopacy, which, according to his view, was of almost chief importance for both Crown and Church.
This was indeed a different strife from the battle between Catholicism and Protestantism, which filled the rest of the world: but they had points of contact with one another, inasmuch as the reform of doctrine had almost everywhere put an end to episcopal government. And the larger conflict was constantly exercising fresh influence on the state of the question in Scotland.
When the Catholic party was on the point of becoming master of the young King, the Protestant lords, as has been mentioned above, gained possession of his person by the Raid of Ruthven. They were the champions of Presbyterianism in the Church; but as they had been overthrown, and overthrown moreover in consequence of the support which the King received from an ambassador friendly to the Guises, that form of government could not survive their fall. In the Parliament of 1584, which obeyed the wishes of the ruling powers, enactments distinctly opposed to it were passed. By these the constitution of the Three Estates united in Parliament was ratified. They forbade any one to attack the Estates either collectively or singly, and therefore to attack the bishops. No meeting in which resolutions should be taken about temporal or even about spiritual affairs was to be held without the King's approval: no jurisdiction was to be exercised which was not acknowledged by the King and the Estates. The judicial power of the King over all subjects and in all causes, and therefore even in spiritual causes, was therein expressly confirmed.
At that time however Jesuits and Seminarists effected an entrance into Scotland as well as into other countries, and produced a great effect: Father Gordon? especially, who belonged to one of the most distinguished families in the country, that of the Earls of Huntly, was exceedingly active; and for two months the King allowed his presence at court. Who could guarantee that the young prince would not be entirely carried away by this current when his chief counsellor?, with whom the final decision mainly rested, belonged to the party of the Guises2? A great reward was offered to him: he was to be married to an archduchess; and at some future day, after the victory had been won, he was to be raised to the throne of England and Scotland. When we take into consideration that Melville, who set himself to oppose this influence, had spent ten years at Geneva and among the Huguenots, we see plainly how the struggles which distracted the continent threatened to invade Scotland as well.
Alliance with England.
In this danger Queen Elizabeth, who for her own sake did not venture to allow matters to go so far, resolved to interfere more actively in the affairs of Scotland than she . had hitherto done. It is not perfectly clear what share her government had in the return of the exiled Protestant lords, whose attack had compelled King James to allow the conviction for high treason of his former minister and favourite?, who fled to France in consequence. But their return was certainly welcome to her; and she advised the King not to alienate the great men of his kingdom, that is to say the returned lords, from his own side. In the instructions to her ambassador it is expressly said that he should aim at withholding the King from any alliance with the League in France, which was then growing powerful. She had just determined to make open war upon the King of Spain, who guided all the proceedings of the League; what could be more important for her than to retain the King of one division of the island on her own side? For that object she need not require him to support the Presbyterians; his point of view was the same which she contended for in the Netherlands and in France, and very closely akin to her own.
She had besides a great reward to offer him. Distasteful as it was to her to speak of her successor, she then determined to give the King the assurance that nothing should be done which was prejudicial to his claim, and she agreed to a secret acknowledgment of it3. Her ambassador? gave expression to these views in Scotland, and she herself spoke in similar terms to the Scottish ambassador? in England.
The acceptance of these overtures by King James was the decisive event of his life. He was not so blind as not to see that any promise on the part of England, although not binding in regular form, afforded a kind of certainty entirely different from all the assurances of the League, however comprehensive. The Queen moreover pledged herself to a subsidy that was very acceptable to the poverty of the Scots, while her protection served the King himself as a stay against his nobles, whom he dared not alienate, but on whom he could not allow himself to be dependent.
Thus in July 1586 an offensive and defensive alliance was concluded at Berwick between the King and Queen in order to protect the religion adopted in their dominions, which, in the language of the Prayer-book, they termed the 'Catholic,' and to repel, not only every invasion, but every attempt on the person of their majesties or their subjects, without regard to any ties of blood or relationship. The King promised the Queen to come to her assistance with all his forces in the event of any attack on the Northern counties, and not to allow his subjects to support any hostile movements which might take place in Ireland. Every word shows how absolutely and entirely in the events that were at hand he identifies the interests of England with his own4.
It was of more especial advantage to the Queen that James entirely renounced the cause of his mother. He had exerted himself in her behalf, but his intercession never went beyond the limits of friendly representation. Mary's secret resignation of her claims in favour of Philip II had certainly not been unknown to him; he complained on one occasion that she threatened him on his throne and was as little attached to him as to the Queen of England. He loudly condemned her conspiracies against Elizabeth and gave utterance to the unfeeling remark that she might drain the cup which she had mixed for herself. At the trial of his mother he was content with obtaining an assurance from the English Parliament, which was of great importance to him, that his rights should not be impaired by her condemnation. The claims to the English throne which brought Mary to destruction rather served to strengthen her son, as it threw him altogether on the side of the English system5.
On the approach of the Spanish armada James at once placed his power and his person at the disposal of the Queen. He assured her that he would behave not as a foreign prince, but as if he were her son and a citizen of her realm. With unusual decision he put himself at the head of the Protestant nobles, and pursued the Catholic lords who gave ear to those Spanish overtures which he had resisted.
He now sought for a wife in a Protestant family. With the concurrence, if not at the instigation, of the English ministers, he solicited the hand of a daughter? of Frederick II?, King of Denmark, whom Elizabeth had praised for adhering to the general interests of the Protestant world. In this enterprise James was influenced by the consideration that if any other state opposed his claims on England, Denmark with its naval power could afford him substantial assistance. A touch of romance is imparted to his youth by the circumstance that he set out in person to fetch home his bride, who was detained in Norway by contrary winds, and who had been promised to him by her mother after her father's death. Their marriage was celebrated at Opslo (Nov. 23, 1589), but their homeward voyage was now attended with difficulty; James therefore took his wife over the snow-clad mountains and the Sound, back to her mother to Kronborg and Copenhagen, and spent a couple of months there. He had many conversations with the divines of the country, during which the idea of an union of both Protestant confessions was mooted. He also paid a visit to Tycho Brahe? on the island of Hveen, which gave him indescribable pleasure: he believed that in his company he fathomed the marvels of the universe, and lauded the astronomer in spirited Latin verse as the friend of Urania, and as the master of the starry world6. And a general influence was exercised in Europe both by his alliance with the house of Oldenburg, and the connexion which he formed through it with many of the most distinguished families in Germany. His consort was niece of the Elector of Saxony?, sister-in-law of the Elector of Brandenburg?, and granddaughter of the German Nestor, Ulric of Mecklenburg?. Her sister had just married Henry Julius? Duke of Brunswick; at whose marriage, which was celebrated at Cronberg, a company of North German princes met together, which seemed like one single family. But the days of this assemblage were not occupied with banquets and festivities alone. To the impression which was then made on James may be traced the despatch of an embassy to the Temporal Electors of the Empire, which he deputed after his return to invite them to mediate between England and Spain. If the King of Spain were disinclined for peace, he thought that a powerful alliance should be formed against him for the maintenance of religion.
For such an alliance as this, England and Scotland seemed to offer a centre. In an assemblage of the clergy, the King had once congratulated himself on living at a time when the light of the Gospel was shining; and in the same spirit his Chancellor? gave Lord Burleigh to understand, that this British microcosm, severed from the rest of the world, but united internally by language, religion, and the friendship of its princes, could best oppose the bloodthirstiness of an anti-Christian League7.
Renewal of the Episcopal Constitution in Scotland
In Scotland, as well as elsewhere, the waves of the all-prevailing struggle kept raging.
Embassies went backwards and forwards between Spain and the powerful lords, Huntly?, Errol? and Angus?, who kept alive Catholicism in the Highlands; and a plan was formed to assemble a force of Scots and Spaniards in Scotland, which should first overthrow the forces of that country, and thence advance into England8. King James at least believed that he had gathered a definite statement to this effect from an examination of those who had been arrested. Philip the Second's design of getting the crown of France into his own family would have been powerfully seconded by this undertaking, by which it was designed to treat Great Britain in the same way. In the beginning of 1593 we find James at Aberdeen engaged on a campaign against the Highlands: the lesser nobles and the Protestants were on his side: the great earls were driven back into the most remote districts as far as Caithness, and the larger part of their domains fell into the hands of the King. But they were not yet entirely conquered, and the next Parliament showed that they had the greater part of the nobility on their side. No one wished to be too severe on them9; even the legal advisers of the crown recommended the King not to commence a suit against them, in which they might probably be acquitted. It is impossible to describe the displeasure which affected Elizabeth on this turn of affairs, which she ascribed to the pusillanimous and negligent government of James. Did he not know, she asked, that the religion of the rebels was only a cloak for treason? Would he trust men who had so often betrayed him? He could never expect them to keep their plighted faith in the future, if their great offences in the past were not even acknowledged: a lax government set all turbulent spirits in motion, and led to shipwreck. With this advice, and similar suggestions from the clergy, came the news of fresh commotion. Francis Stuart?, who had been made Earl of Bothwell by James, but who after this had given great trouble by frequently changing sides, had now joined the Catholic lords; and a plan had been concerted between them to deal with James as they had formerly dealt with his mother, to make him prisoner, and to put the prince just born to him? in his place. At last in September 1594 we find the King again in the field. The young Argyle?, whom he sent before him as his lieutenant, was met by the earls in open fight, but they did not venture to encounter the king himself. He took Strathbogie, the splendid seat of the Earls of Huntly; Slaines, the principal castle of the Earls of Errol; some strongholds in Angus; Newton, a castle of the Gordons; and had most of them razed. Even in these districts he proceeded at last to erect a regular government in the name of the King. His superiority was so decided that the earls left Scotland in the spring of 1595; Father Gordan also followed them reluctantly, after he had once more said mass at Elgin. But even this was not such a defeat of the Catholic party as might have been followed by their annihilation. The earls felt the hardships of exile with double force from the loss of the consideration which they had enjoyed at home; and when they offered their submission to the King, and satisfaction to the Scottish Church, James and his Privy Council were quite ready to accede to their offer: for they thought that disunion with his most powerful lieges lessened the reputation of the crown, and might be very dangerous at some future time if the throne of England became vacant; as these important personages might then, like Coriolanus?, side with the enemy.
The only question now was, how the Presbyterian Church would regard this. James had come to a general understanding with the Church, when they made common cause against the League. In the year 1592 an agreement was arrived at, by which the King gave a general recognition to Presbyterianism, although he still left some grave questions undecided; for instance, that of the rights of the Crown, and the General Assemblies. But in proportion as he now gave intimation of a retrograde tendency in favour of the Catholic lords, he roused the prejudices of the Protestants against himself. They told him that the lords had been condemned to death according to the laws of God, and by the sentence of Parliament, the Great Assize of the kingdom: that the King had no right to show mercy in opposition to these. He had allowed their return into the country; the Church demanded the renewal of their exile: not till then would it be possible to deliberate upon the satisfaction offered by them. All the pulpits suddenly resounded with invectives against the King. The proud feeling of independent existence was roused in all its force in the breasts of the churchmen. Andrew Melville? explicitly declared, that there were two kingdoms in Scotland, of which the Church formed one: in that kingdom the sovereign was in his turn a subject; those who had to govern this spiritual realm possessed a sufficient authorisation from God for the discharge of their functions. The Privy Council might be of opinion that the King must be served alike by Jews and heathens, Protestants and Catholics, and become powerful by their aid; but in wishing to retain both parties he would lose both. The King forced himself to ask support for his projects from Robert Bruce?, at that time the most prominent of the preachers, who answered him, that he might make his choice, but that he could not have both the Earl of Huntly and Robert Bruce for his friends at the same time10.
By dealing gently with the Catholic lords the King had intended not only to win them over to his side, but also in prospect of the English succession, which was constantly before his eyes, to give the English Catholics a proof of the moderation of his intentions. Even in Scotland he wished not to appear the sovereign of the Presbyterian party alone. It was absolutely repugnant to him to adopt the ideas of the Church entirely as his own. But the leaders of the Church were bent on shutting him within a narrow circle in accordance with their own ideas, from which there should be no escape. In his clemency to Catholic rebels they saw a leaning to that Catholicism which fought against God and threatened themselves with destruction. The efforts which had been necessary to overpower these adversaries, and the obligations under which they had laid the King himself during the struggle, inspired them with resolution to bind him to their system by every means in their power.
But as the King also adhered to his own views, a conflict now broke out between them which holds a very important place in the history of the State as well as of the Church of Scatland.
The King ordered the Commissioners of the Church, who made demands so distasteful to him, to leave the capital. The preachers then turned to the people. From the pulpit Robert Bruce set before an already excited congregation the danger into which the ecclesiastical commonwcalth had fallen owing to the return of the Catholic lords and the indulgence vouchsafed to them; and invited those present to pledge themselves by holding up their hands to the defence of their religion on its present footing. They not only gave him their assent, but went so far as to make a tumultuous rush for the council-house in which the King was sitting with some members of the Privy Council and the Lords of Session. With difficulty was the tumult so far quieted as to allow James to retire to Holyrood11. Here a demand was laid before him to remove his councillors, to allow the commissioners to resume their functions, and to banish the lords again from the country. It was intended that religious profession should supply a rule for the guidance of the State.
But in political conflicts nothing is more dangerous than to overstep the law by any act of violence. It was the violence attempted by the leaders of the Presbyterians against the King, their attack on the rights of his crown, that procured him the means of resistance. He betook himself with his court to Linlithgow and there collected the nobles, who for the most part stood by him, the borderers, whose leaders the Humes and Kerrs took up arms for him, and bodies of Highlanders, a force to which the magistrates succumbed, not wishing their city to be destroyed; so that even the ministers thought it advisable to leave. On New-Year's Day 1597 James made his entry with a warlike retinue into Edinburgh, where a convention of the Estates met and passed decisive resolutions in his favour. Both the provost and baillies of the town were obliged to take a new oath of fealty by which they bound themselves to suffer no insults to the King and his councillors from the pulpit: and it was resolved that the citizens should henceforth submit the magistrates of their choice to the King for his approval. The right of deposing the ministers was assigned to the King, who was acknowledged sole judge of all offences, even of those committed in sermons and public worship12.
The King had now the Temporal Estates on his side; for however popular the footing on which the Presbyterian Church might be constituted, no one wished to give it uncontrolled sway. King James was able to form plans for transforming its constitution in such a manner as to make it consistent with the authority of the crown.
A series of questions which he dedicated to the consideration of the public was well calculated to further his end. He asked whether the external regimen of the Church might not be controlled both by King and clergy, and the legislative power be vested in them in common. Might not the King, as a religious and pious magistrate, have the power of summoning General Assemblies? Might he not annul unjust sentences of excommunication? Might he not interfere if the clergy neglected their duties, or if the bounds of the two jurisdictions became doubtful.
At the next assembly of the Church at Perth (Feb. 1597) the current set in the opposite direction. 'Mine eyes,' so says one of the most zealous adherents of the Church, 'witnessed a new sight, preachers going into the King's palace sometimes by night, sometimes in the morning,—mine ears heard new sounds.' The greatest pains had been taken to secure the presence of a number of ministers from the northern provinces, who were still more anxious about the spread of their doctrines than about controversies touching the constitution of the Church; and who rather reproached the clergy of the southern counties with having taken on themselves the government of the Church. But even among the latter the King, who spared neither threats nor flatteries, won adherents. Moreover an opinion gained ground that concessions must be made to him, as far as conscience allowed, in order not to alienate him entirely from the Church or drive him to take the opposite side. The answers to his questions contained admissions. The right of taking the initiative in everything relating to the external government of the Church was conceded to him, together with a share in the nomination of ministers in the principal towns; properly speaking the patronage of the Church in these towns was made over to him. The Church itself made a most important concession in renouncing its right of using the pulpit to attack the crown. Henceforward no one was to venture to impugn the measures of the King, until an officer of the Church had made a remonstrance to him on the subject.
And the same ideas prevailed also in the subsequent assemblies at Dundee and Perth. The former of these conceded to the King a share in all the business which the Church took in hand; it allowed him to stay the proceedings of the Presbyteries when they ran counter to the royal jurisdiction or to recognised rights. In Dundee the excommunicated lords were admitted to a reconciliation and acknowledged as true vassals of the King, after making a declaration by which they acknowledged the Scottish to be the true Church; although the stricter party would not even then forgive them. But the point of chief importance was that the King succeeded in getting a Commission formed to cooperate with him in maintaining peace and obedience in the kingdom. Invested with full powers by the Church but dependent on the King, this Commission procured him a preponderating influence in all ecclesiastical affairs. For the most part it consisted of men of moderate views.
There is a contemporary narrative of the decay of the Church in Scotland which begins from this date. For here, it was thought, ended the period during which the word revealed from Sinai and Zion to the apostles and prophets was the only rule of doctrine and Church discipline without any mixture of Babylon or the City of the Seven Hills, or of policy of man's devising; when the Church was 'Beautiful as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners.'
James, who regarded all this as due merely to the opposition of enemies, went on his way without bestowing further consideration on the depth, strength, and inward significance of this spirit which was destined once more to agitate the world. He again took up in serious earnest the design of erecting a Protestant episcopacy which had been entertained by Mar? and Morton?. Not only was this necessary for the constitution but for the sake of the clergy also: as George Gladstaine explained before a large assembly at Dundee, it was desirable that they should take part in the exercise of the legislative power. A small majority, but still a majority, in this assembly decided in favour of the proposal. The King assured them that he wished neither for a papistical nor for an English prelacy; he wished only that the best clergy should take cognizance of the affairs of the church in the council of the nation. In order to unite both interests he desired that the General Assembly should propose to the King six candidates for each vacancy and should have the right of giving instructions to the King's nominee for his Parliamentary action, and of demanding an account from him of his execution of the same. The King esteemed it a great triumph when in the Parliament of 1600 he was able actually to introduce two bishops whom he had nominated with the concurrence of a Commission of the Synods.
It appears a general result worth noticing that he had again brought both parties in the country into subjection to the crown, the one however by open battle, the other by compliance which had somewhat the air of inclination towards it.
Preparations for the Succession to the English Throne.
That the former of these parties was properly speaking Protestant, and the latter in its sentiment Catholic, created a certain feeling of surprise. Queen Elizabeth, who had been attacked and insulted by the Presbyterians sometimes even from the pulpit, could not find fault with the crown for liberating itself from the ascendancy of the new Church as it had done from that of the old: on the contrary she had expressly approved of this policy; but she warned the King not to allow himself to be so blinded by personal preference as again to put confidence in any traitor, and not to separate himself from the flock which must fight for him if he wished to stand. In the case of Scotland, as well as in the case of her own dominions, she always kept before her eyes the contrast between the Catholic and the Protestant principle, in comparison with which all other differences appeared to her subordinate.
In his own views less rigid and consistent, King James had on the contrary even made advances to the Papacy. He at one time found it advisable to enter into relations with Pope Clement VIII?, whose behaviour about the absolution of Henry IV showed that he did not at least belong to the party of Spain and the zealots. A letter to the Pope was forwarded from the Scottish cabinet addressing him as Holy Father, with the signature of the King as his obedient son. A Scot, by profession a Catholic, afterwards made the statement that, at the time when Pope Clement was encamped before Ferrara, he had been sent to him in order to seek his friendship, and to promise him religious liberty for the Catholics if King James should ascend the English throne13.
According to the account of King James himself Pope Clement invited him to return to the Catholic faith; to whom he made answer, that the prevailing controversies might be again submitted to a general council; and that to the decision of such a council he would submit himself unconditionally. Clement replied that he need not speak of a council, for at Rome no one would hear of it; that the King had better remain as he was. These transactions are still enveloped in doubt and obscurity: the announcements of pretended agents cannot be depended on. There were often men who did not fully share in the secret and who in consequence far outran their commission14. But it cannot be denied that there were attempts at an approximation. Among the English refugees after Mary's death two parties had arisen, one of which supported the Spanish claims, while the other was quite ready to acknowledge King James supposing that some concessions were made. Every day men who were inclined to Catholicism were seen rising into favour at the Scottish court. It was remarked that the Secretary of State?, the Lord Justice?, and the tutors of the royal children, were Catholics. Queen Anne of Scotland does not deny that many attempts were made to bring her back to the old religion: though she assures us that she did not hearken to them, it is notwithstanding undeniable that she felt a strong impulse in that direction. She received relics which were sent her from Rome, probably from superstition rather than from reverence for the saints, but at all events she received them. Her intimate friend, the Countess of Huntlyz?, who often shared the same bed with the Queen, fostered these views in her. King James remained unaffected by them. He attended sermons three times a week; he was riveted to Protestantism by convictions which rest on learning: but how did it come to pass that he allowed these deviations from Protestantism about him? Was it from weakness and connivance, or was it from policy?
With the English Catholics also he established a connexion. Offers and conditions with a view to his succession were put before him; and English Catholics presented themselves at his court in order to proceed with the business or to maintain the connexion.
All this threw Queen Elizabeth into a state of great excitement. It was insufferable to her that any one should even speak of her death, or, as she said, celebrate her funeral beforehand. But now when James without her knowledge formed relations with her subjects, she regarded his conduct as an affront. Through her ambassador in Scotland she had an English agent named Ashfield arrested, and gained possession of his papers. Great irritation on both sides ensued, of which the above-mentioned correspondence between the King and Queen gives evidence. In angry letters the latter complained of the disparaging expressions which James had let fall in his Parliament. In respectful language but with unusual emphasis the King complained that the accusations of an adventurer charging him with a plot against the life of the Queen were not repressed in England with proper severity. A period followed during which James expected nothing but further acts of hostility from Elizabeth's ministers. He pretended to know that the claims to the throne advanced by his cousin the Lady Arabella?, daughter of Charles Darnley, the younger brother of his father Henry, who had the advantage of not being a foreigner, supplied them with a motive for their proceedings. He even thought it possible that a book published by Parsons? under the name of Doleman, which maintained the claims of Isabella daughter of King Philip, was inspired by the English ministers themselves in order to throw his rights into the background. He ascribed to them the intention of coming to an agreement with the Spaniards to his disadvantage, only in order to maintain their own power.
So far the dislikes of King James and the Earl of Essex? coincided. Although a formal understanding between them cannot be proved, they were nevertheless allies up to the point of regarding the Queen's ministers as their enemies.
Very significant were the instructions which James gave to an embassy which he despatched to England after the downfall of the Earl. His ambassadors were directed to ascertain whether the popular discontent went so far as to contemplate the overthrow of the Queen and her ministers, in which case they were to take care that the people 'invoked no other saint,' i. e. sought protection and support from no one else but him. Above all he wished to be assured with regard to the capital that it would acknowledge his right: he wished to form ties with the leading men in the civic and learned corporations; the greater and lesser nobles who inclined to him were to have early information what to do in certain contingencies, and to keep themselves under arms. As he had always thought it possible that he might require naval assistance from Denmark, so now he instigated a sort of free confederation of the magnates and barons of Scotland: they were to prepare their military retainers in order to enforce his rights. Not that he had formed any design against the Queen, but he believed that after her death he must give battle to her ministers in order to gain the crown, and he appeared determined not to decline the contest.
In reality however this mode of action was foreign to his nature. How often he had said that a man must let fruit ripen before plucking it: and a foreign prince, to whose sayings he attached great value, had advised him to proceed by the safest path. This was the Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany?, who then played a certain part in Europe, as he had set on foot the alliance between Henry IV and the Pope in opposition to Spain: Mary de'Medici?, Queen of France, was his niece. With the house of Stuart also he stood on the footing of a relation: his consort, like the mother of King James, was a scion of the house of Lorraine, and a marriage at some future day between the King's eldest son? and the daughter of the Grand Duke was already talked of. This and Ferdinand's reputation for great political far-sightedness and prudence, caused his advice to exercise great influence on James's decisions, as James himself tells us. So long as victory wavered between Essex and his opponents, or, as he conceived, between the existing government and the people, James did not declare himself: when the issue was decided he gave his policy a different direction and made advances to the ruling ministers, whom up to this time he had regarded as his enemies.
They were quite ready and willing to meet him. Robert Cecil asserted later that he had by this means best provided for the safety and repose of the Queen, for that by an alliance between the government and the heir to the crown the jealousy of the Queen was best appeased: yet still he observed the closest secrecy with regard to it. It is known that he dismissed a secretary because he feared that he might see through the scheme and then betray it. He thought that he was justified in keeping the Queen in ignorance of a connexion that could only be distasteful to her at her advanced age, which had deepened the suspicion natural to her disposition, although at the same time this connexion was indispensable for her repose. These ministers were tolerably independent in their general conduct of affairs. They had embarked on other negotiations also without the knowledge of the Queen; they thought such conduct quite permissible, if it conduced to the advantage of England. And was not Robert Cecil moreover bound to seize an opportunity of calming the prejudices of the King of Scotland against himself and his house, which dated from his father's participation in the fate of Queen Mary ? This was the only way of enabling him to prolong his authority beyond the death of his mistress, with which it would otherwise have expired.
The letters are extant which were exchanged in these secret transactions between Henry Howard?, whom the Secretary of State? employed as his instrument, and a minister of King James. They are not so instructive as might have been expected; for the Asiatic style of Howard, which serves him as a mask, throws a veil even over much which we should like to know. But they now and then open a view into the movements of parties, especially in reference to the opposition of Cecil and his friends to Raleigh? and Cobham?, which towards the close of the Queen's reign filled the court with suppressed uneasiness.
The intercourse which had been opened certainly had the effect of once more putting England and Scotland on a friendly footing. One of his most trusty councillors, Ludovic Earl of Lennox?, son of that Esmé Stuart who at one time had stood so high in the King's esteem, was sent by James on a mission to the Queen, in order to convince her of his continued attachment15; and this ambassador in fact found favour with her. James declared himself ready to send his Highlanders to the assistance of the Queen in Ireland, and to enter as a third party into the alliance with France against Spain, if it were brought about. He did not hesitate to give her information of the advances which had been made by the other side, even by the Roman court. Among these he mentioned a mission of James Lindsay for the purpose of bringing him to promise toleration to the Catholics. It may be doubted whether it is altogether true, as he affirms, that he declined the proposal: but the Roman records attest that Lindsay in fact could get nothing from him but words16.
It is enough to remark that on the whole the views of James were again brought into harmony with those of the Queen: but that does not mean that he had also broken off all relations with the other side. It would have been extremely dangerous for him if Pope Clement had pronounced against him the excommunication which was suspended over Elizabeth, and he was very grateful to the Pope for not going so far. And if he would not agree to treat the Catholics with genuine toleration, yet without doubt he let them hope that he would not persecute those who remained quiet17. It was probably not disagreeable to him if they looked for more. He was of opinion that he ought to have two strings to his bow.
He had now formed connexions with all the leading men in England of whatever belief. There was no family in which he had not won over one member to the support of his cause18.
Accession to the Throne.
Thus on different sides everything had been carefully prepared beforehand when the Queen died. Although it may be doubtful whether she had in so many words declared that James should be her successor, yet it is historically certain that she had for a long time consented to this arrangement. The people had not yet so entirely conquered all hesitation on the subject.
At the moment of the Queen's decease the capital fell into a state of general commotion. Perhaps 40,000 decided Catholics might be counted in London, who had considered the government of the Queen an unauthorised usurpation. Were they now to submit themselves to a King who like her was a schismatic? Or were there grounds for entertaining the hope held out to them that the new prince would grant them freedom in the exercise of their religion. People pretended to find Jesuits in their ranks who were accused of stimulating the excitement of their feelings: and the government thought it necessary to arrest or keep an eye upon a number of men who were regarded as leaders of the Catholic party.
The trained bands of the town were called out to meet the danger, and they consisted entirely of Protestants. But they also were agitated by uncertainty about the intcntions of their new sovereign. What the Catholics wished and demanded, the free exercise of their religion, the Protestants just as strongly held to be inadmissible and dangerous.
Meanwhile the Privy Council had met at Richmond, where they were joined by the lords who were in town. Some points of great importance were mooted—whether the Privy Council had still any authority, even after the death of the sovereign from whom their commission proceeded—whether this authority was not entirely transferred to the lords as the hereditary councillors of the crown. The question was probably raised whether conditions should not be prescribed beforehand to the King of Scotland with regard to his government. But the prevailing ferment did not allow time for the discussion of these questions. On the same day (March 24) the heralds proclaimed James king under the combined titles of King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland.
It could not be perceived that the pomp of this proclamation produced any extraordinary impression. No mourning for the death of the Queen was exhibited; still less joy at the accession of James: all other interests were absorbed by the anticipation of coming events. The tone of feeling first became decided some days afterwards, when a declaration from the new King was published, wherein he promised the maintenance of religion on its present footing, and the exclusion of every other form of it19. On this the Protestants were quieted; the Catholics shewed themselves discouraged and exasperated. Yet the heads of the party who were held in custody were released on bail, and assured by the King's agents, that if even they were not permitted to worship in public, they should not have to fear either compulsion or persecution.
No movement was made against the acknowledgment of King James, although this was contrary to the old arrangements recognised by Parliament. But no one was fortheoming who could have enforced rights based upon these. The aged Hertford? came forward to sign the proclamation of the lords both for himself, and in the name of his son? who represented the Suffolks. The Lady Arabella? made a declaration that she desired no other position than that which the present King might allow her. The Privy Council besought King James,—according to its own expression 'falling at his feet with deep humility,'—to come and breathe new life into the kingdom of England that had been bereaved of its head.
We must not stay to discuss incidental questions, e.g. how the first news reached James, and how he received it. He remained quiet until he had obtained sure intelligence, and then without delay prepared to take possession of the throne, to which his mother's ambition and his own had for so many years been directed. Once more he addressed the people of Edinburgh assembled in the great church after the sermon. He would not admit the statement which had occurred in the discourse, that Scotland would mourn for his departure; for he was going, as he said, only from one part of the island to the other: from Edinburgh it was hardly further to London than to Inverness. He intended to return often; to remove pernicious abuses in both countries; to provide for peace and prosperity; to unite the two countries to one another. One of them had wealth, the other had a superabundance of men: the one country could help the other. He added in conclusion that he had expected to need their weapons: that he now required only their hearts.
What filled his soul with pride and the consciousness of a high calling, was the thought that he would now carry into effect what the Romans, and in later times the Anglo-Saxon and Plantagenet kings, and last of all the Tudors, had sought to achieve by force of arms or by policy, but ever in vain—the union of the whole island under one rule, like that which native legendary lore ascribed to the mythical Arthur. When he came to Berwick, around which town the two nations had engaged in so many bloody frays, he gave utterance, so it is said, to his intention of being King not of the one or of the other country but of both united, and of assuming the name of King of Great Britain20.
At York he met his predecessor's Secretary of State, Robert Cecil. As no one knew the relations into which he had already entered with Cecil, every one was astonished at the kind reception which he accorded to him. That did not prevent him however from being just to the other side as well. He greeted the youthful Essex? as the son of the most renowned cavalier whom the realm of England had possessed; he appointed him to be the companion of the Prince of Wales, and made him carry the bared sword before him at his entrance into some of the towns. Southampton? and Nevill? were received into favour; the Earl of Westmoreland? was placed in the Privy Council. He gave it to be understood that he would again raise to their former station the great men of the kingdom, who up to this time, as he said, had not been treated according to their merits.
In order to begin the work of union at once in the highest place, he added some Scottish members to the Privy Council, and placed Scots side by side with the Secretary of State? and Treasurer of England?. The Keeper of the Privy Seal? was raised to the Lord Chancellorship, but obliged to resign the post of Master of the Rolls, which fell to the share of a Scot?, who however contented himself with drawing the income without discharging the duties of the office. The main feature of the condition of affairs which now grew up was the understanding between Cecil and those Scots who were most influential with the King. These were the leaders of the two parties, one of which hitherto had rather inclined to Spain and the other to France, Lennox? and Mar?, and especially the most active, perhaps the cleverest man of all, George Hume?. These were consulted on affairs of importance. The Scots had the advantage, to which custom almost gave them a right, of seeing the King as often as they wished: but Cecil and his English friends, in consequence of their knowledge and practice in business, had the chief management of affairs in their hands.
The times were gloomy owing to the prevalence of an infectious disease; still extraordinary numbers of the English nobility thronged to London, in order to see the King, who took up his residence at Greenwich. It is computed that there were 10,000 people at court. James felt infinitely happy amidst the homage which clergy and laity vied with one another in rendering him.
How often in former times, when England was in the midst of great and glorious undertakings, had the Scots, who feared lest they themselves should be subjected to the power of their neighbours, taken the side of the enemy and obstructed the victory! Even the last wars might have taken quite a different course had Scotland made common cause with Spain. It was this connexion between the two kingdoms which made union with Scotland a political necessity for England. Ralegh? describes this union under the present circumstances as no less fortunate for England than the blending of the Red and White Rose had been, as the most advantageous of all the means of growth which were open to her.
The kingdom of Scotland, like that of England, had extended the supremacy of the Teutonic over the Keltic races, for these two elements formed the main constituents of both kingdoms. The German in conflict with the Keltic race had developed its character and energy.
The Orkney Islands, to which Scotland asserted its claim . even against the kindred race of the Norwegians, and the Hebrides, which were reputed the home of warriors of extraordinary bravery, were now united in one kingdom with the Channel Islands, which still remained in the possession of England from the days of the old connexion between the Normans of Normandy and that country. The Gael of Scotland, the Gwythel of Erin—and the Irish still appear in most records as savages—the Cymry of Wales and their Cornish kinsmen, who still spoke their old language, now appeared as subjects of the same sceptre. The accession of James to the throne exercised an immediate influence on Ireland. Tyrone, the O'Neil, threw aside the agreement which the Queen's ministers had concluded with him against their will, thinking that he no longer required it, since the right heir had ascended the throne. The people seemed willing to espouse the cause of the new King as that of the native head of their race, and a genealogy was concocted in which his descent was traced to the old Milesian kings. The whole circuit of the British Isles was united under the name of Stuart. As a hundred years before the last great province of France had been gradually united to the French crown, and even within human memory Portugal, like the other provinces of the Spanish peninsula, had been added to the crown of Spain, so now a united Britain was formed side by side with these two great powers. James himself noticed the resemblance, and a proud feeling of self-confidence filled his breast, when he reflected that the change had been made without the help of arms, as if by the force of the internal necessity of things. Just as formerly the claim to universal supremacy together with the spread of the Church had greatly increased the importance of the Papacy, so now the claim to hereditary right possessed by James seemed to him of immeasurable value, for by it he had won so great and coveted a prize: it appeared to him the expression of the will of God.
Surprise might be felt that France, which for several centuries had exercised a ruling influence on Scotland, and which in this union of the two crowns might have seen a disadvantage if not a danger for herself, allowed it to take place without obstruction. This conduct may be explained principally by the violent opposition which existed between Henry IV and Spain even after the peace of Vervins, and by the hostile influence incessantly exercised by that power upon the internal relations of his kingdom, in the pacification of which he was still engaged. It would have been dangerous for Henry himself to revive the hatred between England and Scotland, which could only have redounded to the advantage of his foes.
James I however did not intend, and could not be expected to occupy exactly the same position as his predecessor. If he had adopted her views, yet this was a compliance exacted from him by a regard to the succession: he had felt that it was wrung from him. It is intelligible, and he did not attempt to disguise the fact, that he felt the death of Elizabeth to be in some sense his emancipation. He avoided appearing at her obsequies; every word showed that he did not love to recall her memory. In London people thought to please him by getting rid of the likenesses of the glorious Queen, and replacing them by those of his mother. The first matter which was submitted to him whilst still in Scotland, and which engaged him on the journey and immediately after his arrival, was the question whether he should proceed with the war which Elizabeth had planned; whether in fact he should continue her general policy. Henry IV sent without delay one of his most distinguished statesmen, who was moreover a Protestant, Maximilian de Bethune, Duke of Sully?, as Ambassador Extraordinary; and Sully did not neglect to explain to the King the plan of an alliance between the States of Europe under the lead of France, that should be able to cope with the Austro-Spanish power, a plan which Sully had entertained all his life. James gave the ambassador, as he wished, a private audience in a retired chamber of his palace at Greenwich, asked many questions, and listened with attention, for he loved far-reaching schemes; but he was far from intending to embark on them. As he had reached the throne without arms, so he wished to maintain himself there by peaceful means21. It was natural that the Queen, who had been excommunicated by the Pope, and had carried on a war for life and death with the Spanish crown, should have intended to renew the struggle with all her might: such designs suited her personal position; but his own was different. Deeply penetrated by the idea of legitimacy, he even hesitated whether he should support the Netherlanders, who after all, in his judgment, were only rebels. To the remark that it would be a loss for England herself if the taking of Ostend, then besieged by the Spaniards, were not prevented, he replied by asking unconcernedly whether this place had not belonged in former times to the Spanish crown, and whether the English trade had not flourished there for all that. In these first moments of his reign however the difficulties of his government were already brought into view, together with the opposition between different tendencies latent in it. If he was unwilling to continue the policy of his predecessor, yet he could not absolutely renounce it: there were pledges which he could not break, interests which he could not neglect. In order to meet his objections the argument employed by Elizabeth was adduced, that she supported the Provinces only because the agreements, in virtue of which they had submitted themselves to the house of Burgundy, had been first broken by the other side22. The King's tone of mind was such that this argument may well have had an effect upon him. At last he consented to bestow further assistance, although only indirectly. He conceded that one half of the sum which Henry IV paid to the States General should be subtracted from the demands which England had against France, and should be employed by the Netherlanders in recruiting in the English dominions. By this expedient he intended to satisfy the terms of the old alliance between England and the Provinces, and yet not be prevented from coming to an agreement with Spain.
The ambassador of the Archduke? and the Infanta?, the Duke of Aremberg?, was already in the country, but he was afflicted with gout and somewhat averse to transact business in writing; and nothing more than general assurances of friendship were exchanged. In October 1603 one of the Spanish envoys, Don Juan de Tassis, Count of Mediana?, made his appearance. Astonishment was created when, on his entrance into the hall where the assembled Court awaited him, he advanced into the middle of the room before he uncovered his head. He spoke Spanish; the King answered in English: an interpreter was required between them, although they were both masters of French. But however imperfect their communications were, they yet came to an understanding. The King and the ambassador agreed in holding that all grounds for hostility between Spain and England had disappeared with the death of Queen Elizabeth.
After a fresh and long delay—for the Spaniards would have preferred to transfer the conference to some town on the continent—negotiations were first seriously undertaken in May 1604, and then after all in England. The affairs of the Netherlands formed the principal subject of discussion.
The King of Spain demanded that the King of England should abstain from assisting his rebellious subjects. The English explained the reason why the United Netherlanders were not considered rebels. The Spaniards demanded that the fortresses at least, which the Provinces had formerly surrendered to the Queen as a security for the repayment of the loan made by her, should be restored to their lawful owner the King, who would not fail to repay the money advanced. King James answered that he was tied by the pledges of the Queen, and that he must maintain his word and honour23. The Spaniards on this started the proposal that the English on their part should break off their traffic with the United Provinces. The English replied that this would be most injurious to themselves. In these transactions James was mainly guided by the consideration that, if he decidedly threw off the Provinces, he would be giving them over into the hands of France, to the most serious injury of England, and without advantage to Spain. On this account principally he thought that he was obliged to maintain his previous relations with them. The English found a very characteristic rcason for peace with Spain in the wish to restore their old commercial connexion with that country. The Spaniards were ready to make this concession, but only within the ancient limits, from which the trade with both the Indies was excluded. They argued that their government did not allow this even to all its own subjects; how then could foreigners be admitted to a share in it? Cecil on this remarked that England by its insular position was adapted for trading with the whole world, and could not possibly allow these regions to be closed against her; that she already had with countries on which no Spaniard had ever set foot, and that a wide field for further discoveries was still open. At no price would he allow his countrymen to be again excluded from America or the East Indies, to which countries they had just begun to extend their voyages24.
The peace which was at length brought about is remarkable for its indefiniteness. The English promised that they would not support the rebellious subjects and enemies of the King of Spain; and it was arranged that an unrestricted trade should again be opened with all countries, with which it had been carried on before the war. At the first glance this looked as if any further alliance with Holland, as well as the navigation to the Indies, was rendered impossible. The Venetian envoy once spoke with King James on the subject, who answered that it would soon be shown that this opinion was erroneous. In fact, as soon as the first ships returned from the East Indies, preparations were at once made for a second expedition. The States General were not interfered with in the enlistment which they had been allowed to begin; for it was maintained that they could not be included under the term rebellious subjects. The only difference made was that similar leave to enlist in the English dominions was granted to the Spaniards also, who for that purpose resorted especially to Ireland. In this way the peace exactly expressed the relations into which England was thrown by the change of government. James, who for his own part would have wished simply to renew the friendly relations which had formerly existed, found himself compelled to stipulate for exceptions owing to the form which the interests of England had now assumed. The Spaniards allowed them, because even on these terms the termination of the war was of the greatest advantage to them, and they did not surrender the hope of changing the peace into a full alliance later on, although their proposals to that effect were in the first instance declined.
And notwithstanding any ambiguity which might arise as to the scope of the treaty with regard to individual questions, the conclusion of peace was in itself of great importance: it implied a change of policy which created the greatest stir. It affected the United Provinces and filled them with anxiety, for in their judgment not only was the action of Spain against them no longer fettered, but the Spanish ambassador in England was sure in time by means of gold and intrigues to acquire an influence which must be fatal to them.
The King thought that he had achieved a great success. His intention was to be as fully acknowledged by the Catholic powers as by the Protestant; to occupy a neutral position between those who were favourable, and those who were opposed, to Spain, and to live in peace with all, without however losing sight of the interests of England. Men could not be blind to the correspondence between this policy and the general tendency of these times. From the epoch of the Absolution of Henry IV and the overthrow of the League, the separation between religious and political interests had begun. Men on either side no longer regarded the ascendancy of Spain as a support or as a danger to religion. The Spanish government itself under the guidance of the Duke of Lerma? acquired a peaceful character. Thus King James was made happy by seeing embassies from the Catholic states arrive in England. Not until he stood between the two parties did he feel himself to be in truth a king, and to surpass his predecessor.
This sovereign assumed a similar attitude towards the Catholics of England as well. He could not vouchsafe to them a real toleration; but a few months after his arrival in England he actually carried out what he had already promised, an alleviation of those burdens which weighed most heavily on them. The most grievous was the fine collected every month from those who refused to take part in the Protestant service. James declared to an assemblage of leading Catholics, that he would not enforce this fine so long as they behaved quietly, and did not show contempt towards himself and the State. The Catholics reminded him that their absence from the service of the Church might be interpreted as contempt. He assured them that he would not regard it in this light. The fines, which in late years had amounted to more than £100,000 decreased in the year 1603 to £300, and in 1604 to £200. The King, like his predecessor, would not tolerate Jesuits and Seminarists, but he was content with their banishment; it would have been contrary to his temper to have had them executed. He sought to avoid all the consequences that must have been provoked by the hostility of this element which was still so powerful in the world at large and among his own subjects. But even within the domain of Protestantism he was now encountered by a similar problem.
The investigation of the influence which the Scots and English have exercised on one another in the last few centuries would be a task of essential importance for the history of intellectual life; for in the development of the prevailing spirit of the nation the Scots as well as the English have had a large share. Even under Elizabeth these relations had begun to exist. The growth of English Puritanism especially, which had already given the Queen much trouble, must be regarded as but the dissemination of the forms and ideas that had arisen in the Church of Scotland. But how much stronger must the action of this cause have become now that a Scottish king had ascended the English throne! The union between two populations which so nearly resembled one another in their original composition, and in the direction taken by their religious development, could not be a merely territorial union: it must lead to the closest relation between the spirit of the two peoples.
It was natural from the state of the case, that on the accession of a Scottish king in England the English clergy who leaned to the Scottish system should embrace the hope of being emancipated to some extent from that strict subordination to their bishops which they endured with reluctance. On the first arrival of James, whilst he was still on his way to London, they laid before him an address signed by eight hundred of the clergy, in which they besought him, in accordance with God's word, to lighten the rigour of this jurisdiction and of their condition in general, and in the first place to allow them to set before him the feasibility of the alteration. They had nourished the hope that the King might be prevailed on to reduce the English episcopate to the level of the Scottish, in the shape in which he had just restored it25.
But the tendencies which the King brought with him out of Scotland ran in an altogether different direction. He had often been personally affronted by the Presbyterians: he hated their system; for in his opinion equality in the Church necessarily led to equality in the State. His intention was rather by degrees to develop further on the English model those beginnings of episcopacy which he had introduced into Scotland. In December 1603 he convened, as the Puritans wished, an assembly of the Church at Hampton Court, to which he also invited the leading men among the opponents of uniformity. But he opened the conference at once with a thanksgiving to Almighty God 'for bringing him into the promised land where religion was purely professed, where he sat among grave, learned, and reverend men, not, as before, elsewhere, a king without state, without honour, without order, where beardless boys would brave him to his face.' He declared that the government of the English Church had been approved by manifold blessings from God himself; and he said that he had not called this assembly in order to make innovations in the same, but in order to strengthen it by the removal of some abuses. In the conference which he opened he held the office of moderator himself. Certainly the suggestions of the Puritans were not altogether without result. When they expressed the wish to see the Sunday more strictly observed, to have a trustworthy and faithful translation of the Bible provided, and to have the Apocrypha excluded from the canonical scriptures, they met with a favourable reception; but the King would neither allow the confessions of faith to be tampered with, nor the ceremonies had been brought under discussion to undergo the least diminution. He thought that they were older than the Papacy, that the decision of deeper questions of doctrine ought to be left to the discussion of the Universities, and that the articles of the faith would only be encumbered by them. And every limitation of episcopal authority he entirely refused to discuss. The bishops themselves were amazed at the zeal with which the King espoused the cause of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and allowed their justification of it even on a point of great importance for the constitution, the imposition of the oath ex officio26. They even exclaimed that God had bestowed on them a king, the like of whom had not been seen from the beginning of the world. It had been the intention and custom of other princes to limit the jurisdiction of the clergy, and to diminish their possessions. How much had they suffered from this even under Elizabeth! On the contrary it was one of the first endeavours of James I to put an end for ever to these attacks. For as in Scotland the abolition of bishoprics had been attended with a diminution of the authority of the crown, he had reason to be deeply convinced of the identity of episcopal and monarchical interests. In the heat of the conference at Hampton Court he laid down as his principle, 'No bishop no king.'
But in all this did King James fall in with the spirit of the English constitution? Did he not rather at this point intrude into it the sharpness of his Scottish prejudices? The old statesmen of England had acknowledged the services of the English Puritans in saving the Protestant confession in the struggle with Catholicism. The Puritans only wished not to be oppressed. He confounded them altogether with their Scottish co-religionists with whom he had had to contend for the sovereignty of the realm.
In less than two months from the Hampton Court Conference the Book of Common Prayer was re-issued with some few alterations, with regard to which the King expressly stated that they were the only alterations which were to be expected; for that the safety of states consisted in clinging fast to what had been ordained after good consideration. This was soon followed by a new collection of ecclesiastical laws, in the shape which they had taken under the deliberations of Convocation. In them the royal supremacy was insisted on in the strongest terms, and that over the whole kingdom, Scotland included. The same competence with regard to the Church was therein assigned to the King which had belonged to the pious kings of Judah and to the earliest Christian emperors: their authority was declared to be second only to that of Heaven. Henceforward no one was to be ordained without promising to observe the Book of Common Prayer and to acknowledge the supremacy27. And this statute had a retrospective application, even to those who were already in possession of an ecclesiastical benefice. The King and Archbishop Bancroft? ordered that a short respite should be given to those who were inclined to acquiesce; but that those who made a decided resistance should without further ceremony be deprived of their benefices. On this the whole body of Puritans necessarily became agitated. A number of clergymen sought out the King at Royston in December 1604. While they announced to him their decision rather to resign their benefices than to submit, to these ordinances, they called his attention to the danger to which the souls of the faithful would be subjected by this severity. In February a petition in favour of those ministers who refused to subscribe was presented to the King by some of the gentry of Northamptonshire. He expressed himself about this with great vehemence at a sitting of the Privy Council. He said that he had from his cradle at the hands of these Puritans a persecution which would follow him to his grave. But in England the tribunals were quite ready to come to his assistance. In the Star chamber it was declared a proceeding of seditious tendency to assail the King with joint petitions in a matter of religion.
Towards the end of February 1605 the bishops cited the clergy of Puritan views to appear at St. Paul's in London in order to take the oath. There were some members of this party who held it lawful to conform to the Anglican Church because it at least acknowledged the true doctrine. These had time for reflection given them; the rest who persevered in an opposition of principle were deprived of their offices without delay.
These proceedings for the first time recalled most vividly to men's minds the memory of the late Queen. People said that, though she disliked the Puritans, she had never consented to persecute them on religious grounds, for that she well knew how much she owed to them in every other respect. They saw a proof of the King's incapacity in his departure from her example and pattern. They thought him to blame for remitting in favour of Catholic recusants the execution of the penal laws enrolled among the statutes of the realm. And the foreign policy of the King awakened no less disapproval. It was felt as an injury, that he had put an end by the peace to the hostilities against Spain, which had now become even popular. Even the severe edicts issued against the piracy, which had found support in different quarters, produced in many places an unfavourable impression. The King was obliged to compensate the admiral? for the losses which he affirmed that he had suffered in consequence28. And how much greater were the apprehensions for the future which were connected with this policy! It was remarked that he sacrificed the interests of religion and of the country to those of the Catholics and the Catholic powers.
But there was now an organ of political opposition in the country in which all these hostile feelings found their expression. The resentment of injured interests, the resistance of the Puritans, and the excitement of the capital, impressed themselves on the Parliament.
All previous governments had exercised a systematic influence upon the election of members of the Lower House, and had encroached on their freedom. When the first elections under King James were about to be held he declared himself against the exercise of any such influence. He ordered that the elections should be conducted with freedom and impartiality, without regard to the bidding of any one and without the interference of strangers; and that the electors should be allowed to return the most deserving candidates in each county. He thought that, as he avoided unpopular measures, men would voluntarily meet his wishes. It appeared to him sufficient, if, in issuing the writs, he coupled with them the admonition to avoid all party spirit, and especially to abstain from electing such as from blind superstition on the one hand, or from fickleness or restlessness on the other, wished to disturb the uniformity of religion29. But in politics personal gratitude is only a feeble motive. The elections followed the current of opinion which had been set in motion by the Hampton Court Conference. In the very first Parliament of King James many Puritans obtained entrance into the House: the new line which this Parliament struck out influenced the whole subsequent period.
The speech with which King James opened the session on the 19th of March 1604, immediately before the conclusion of the first year of his reign, has been often and often reproduced. It is full of the ideas with which his mind was principally occupied, of the union of both kingdoms in one great whole, and of the establishment of religious uniformity. He thought that in neither of the two kingdoms ought the memory of their special privileges to be kept alive, for they were pure monarchies from the first: no privilege could separate them from their head. He explicitly called the puritans an ochlocratic? sect.
It is extraordinary that, while he sought to win men's affections, it was his fortune to use expressions which were sure to provoke the strongest religious and political antipathies.
Parliament acknowledged his succession to be rightful and lawful, and granted to him, as to his predecessors, tonnage and poundage, i.e. the right of levying customs, for his life: it arranged according to his wishes for the withdrawal of many sentences which had been pronounced against his interest; but in other matters it offered him from the very first persistent opposition. Contrary to what might have been expected, the first point concerned the validity of the elections.
In Buckinghamshire the King's officers had annulled an election on the ground of illegality, and had held a second. The Lower House found that this was improper, on the ground that the right of deciding in matters concerning the election of representatives belonged from ancient times to the House of Commons alone. They declined to confer on this subject with the Privy Council, or with the Upper House. Ill-will and jealousy were excited against those of higher rank who had wished to bring one of their own party? into the House of Commons, and the tempers of the members seemed to be becoming no little inflamed. At last, by the personal mediation of the King30, the Lower House was induced to allow both of the elected candidates to be unseated, and a third to be elected in their place. Even this it agreed to reluctantly; but it was at least its own resolution, and the result of official influence: and the Speaker issued his writ for a new election. One of the foremost principles of parliamentary life, that the scrutiny of elections belonged to the Parliament alone, was in this manner indubitably established afresh.
Even his ideas on the union of the two kingdoms, which were nearest to his heart, were shared by few members of the Lower House; and he was obliged to raise the question by a new and urgent address. A commission of both Houses was indeed nominated to deliberate together with the Scots on the execution of the plan. The commission however was so numerous, and so large a number was required to be actually present for the transaction of business, that it was evident beforehand that no result would be achieved; especially as it was confidently to be expected that the Scots would appoint just as numerous a commission on their side31. And the King was already aware that the opposition against him was not confined to the Lower House, but in this matter at least was most widely diffused. The proclamation was already drawn up by which he intended to declare himself King of Great Britain. The judges were consulted by the Upper House, but their sentence favoured the view that this alteration could not take place without disadvantage to the State.
The grant of a subsidy was most urgently needed by the King, whose purse had been emptied by the expenses of taking possession and by his prodigality; but the tone of feeling was so unfavourable that he forbore to apply for it, as he would not expose himself to a refusal which was certain beforehand.
A petition in favour of some indulgence for the Puritans was drawn up in complete opposition to the King's views, although it seems not to have been carried through or sent in. A rigorous bill against the Jesuits and recusants on the other hand actually passed through the House. Lord Montague?, who spoke against it, was brought before the House of Lords to answer for some expressions which he used on that occasion, and which savoured of Catholic principles. It is quite clear that the very first Parliament of King James set itself systematically in opposition to him. He desired union, clemency to the Catholics, and punishment of the Puritans; and he required subsidies: on all these subjects an opposite view prevailed in Parliament. And the divergence was not confined to single points. The maintenance of that extended prerogative which had been once established, had been endured under a sovereign who was a native of the country, had deserved well of her subjects, and was thoroughly English in her sentiments. But similar pretensions appeared insufferable in a king of foreign birth, who pursued ideas that were British rather than English, or rather who had combined for himself a number of tendencies arising out of the position in which, grand as it was, he stood alone among English sovereigns. We perceive that by this time the notion had been definitely formed of reviving the rights of Parliament which had fallen into abeyance in the late reigns32. Even under the Tudors Parliament had exercised a very considerable influence, but had more or less submitted to the ruling powers. Under the new government it thought of winning back the authority which it had wrung from more than one Plantagenet, and had possessed under the house of Lancaster. Already members were heard to assert that the legislative power lay in their hands; and that, if the King refused to approve the laws for which they demanded his sanction, they would refuse him the subsidies which he needed.
And this resolution was strengthened by the ill-feeling which the treatment of the Puritan ministers excited. The Parliament had been adjourned from August 1604 until February 1605: but the King feared that these clergymen, who had been assailed just at that time, might apply to the Lower House in which so many Puritans had seats33. He therefore prorogued it afresh in the hope of getting rid of certain persons who were especially hostile, or of bringing them over to his own side.
Instead of this, new grievances were constantly accumulating. In the absence of regular subsidies the King helped himself to money by a voluntary loan, which gave great offence, and in this matter also led people to contrast the late Queen's conduct with that of James. She had, so people said, conducted the war in Spain, afforded help to the Netherlands, and maintained garrisons on the Scottish border, three measures which had cost her millions; of all this there was no mention under the present King. On the contrary he had additional revenues from Scotland; for what reason did he require extraordinary subsidies34? Men complained of his movements to and fro in the country, and of the harshness with which the right of the court to transport and cheap entertainment on these occasions was enforced; of his hunting, by which the tillage was injured; most of all, of his intended advancement of the Customs Duties, for this would damage trade and certainly would benefit only the great men who were interested in the farming of the Customs. The King had once thought of dissolving Parliament, but afterwards renounced the idea. As it was, when Parliament was summoned for November 1605, a stormy session lay before it, owing to the attack made by the Parliamentary and Puritan party upon the behaviour of the King in ecclesiastical and political questions, as well as upon the financial disorder which was gaining ground.
An event intervened which gave an entirely different direction to the course of affairs.
James I was welcomed, if one may say so, by a conspiracy on his entrance into England.
Two men of rank, Markham? and Brook?, who had before held communications with him, and had cherished bright expectations, but found themselves passed over in the composition of the new government, now imagined that they might rise to the highest offices if they could succeed in detaching the King from those who surrounded him, and in getting him into their own hands, perhaps within the walls of the Tower or even in Dover Castle. They conspired for this object with some Catholic priests, who could not forgive the King for having deceived their expectations of a declaration of toleration at the commencement of his reign. They intended to call out so great a number of Catholics ready for action, that there could be no doubt of the successful issue of a coup-de-main. A priest was then to receive the Great Seal and above all things to issue an edict of toleration. We are reminded of the combination under Essex, when even some Puritans offered their assistance in an undertaking directed against the government. One of their leaders, Lord Grey de Wilton?, a young man of high spirit and hope, was now induced to join the plot. But on this occasion the Catholics were the predominant element. The priests thought that the pretence of the necessity of supporting the King against the effect of a Puritan rising would best contribute to set the zealous Catholics in motion; and it is undeniable that other persons of high rank were also connected with these intrigues. The principal opponents of Cecil and his friends, whose hostile influence on Elizabeth had at an earlier period been feared by the minister, were Lord Cobham?, the brother of Brook, and Sir Walter Ralegh?. Cobham, who like most others had looked for the overthrow of Cecil on the accession of the King, fell into an ungovernable fit of disappointed ambition when Cecil was more strongly confirmed in his position; and his anger was directed against the King himself, from whom he now had nothing to expect, and who had brought with him a family which made the hope of any further alteration appear impossible. He had let fall the expression in public that the fox and his cubs must be destroyed at one blow. Negotiations, aiming at the renewal of the Lady Arabella's? claims, had been opened with the ambassador of the Archduke?, who then perhaps felt anxiety lest King James, under the influence of Cecil, should adhere to the policy of his predecessor. In order to effect a revolution, Cobham launched into extravagant schemes which embraced all Europe.
The affair might have been dangerous, if a man of the activity, weight, and intelligence of Walter Ralegh had taken part in it. Ralegh does not deny that Cobham had spoken to him on the subject, but he affirms that he had not heeded the idle words, and had even forgotten them again35; and in fact nothing has been brought to light which proves his complicity, or even his remote participation, in this plot. Still without doubt he was among the opponents of the government. If it is true, as people say, that he made an attempt by means of a letter to the King to procure the fall of Cecil, it is easily conceivable that the latter and his friends availed themselves of every opportunity to involve. him in the accusation. Ralegh defended himself with so much courage and vigour, that the listeners who had come wishing to see him condemned went away with a tenfold stronger desire that he might be acquitted. He himself did not deny that he might be condemned by the cruel laws of England: he reminded the King however of a passage in the old statutes, in which for that very reason mercy and pity were recommended to him. The accused were all condemned. Brooks and the priests paid the penalty of death: Markham, Cobham, and Grey were reprieved when they were already standing on the scaffold—reprieved moreover by an autograph mandate of James, which was entirely due to an unexpected resolution of the King, who wished to shine by showing mercy as well as by severity. The first of these lived henceforward in exile: the second continued to live in England, but weighed down by his disgrace: Grey and Walter Ralegh were imprisoned in the Tower. We shall meet with Ralegh once more: he never lost sight of the world, nor the world of him.
This conspiracy which, although wrongly as we have seen, bears the name of Ralegh, was an attempt to put an end in some way or other to the government, in the shape in which it had been erected by the union of English statesmen with the Scottish King. Its movers wished to effect this object by getting rid either of the statesmen, or even of the King himself. But on the contrary they only succeeded in establishing the government so much the more firmly; and it then under the joint influence of both its components entered on the course which we have described. But if it was so seriously endangered at its commencement, its progress also could not be free from hostile attacks. The Puritans threw themselves into the ranks of the Parliamentary Opposition. The Catholics were brought into a most singular position.
In public they found themselves far better off under James than they had been under Elizabeth. Far greater scope was allowed to the local influence of Catholic magnates in protecting their co-religionists. The penal laws, which as regards pecuniary payments were virtually abolished, were moreover no longer vigorously enforced in any other respect. Not only were the chapels of the Catholic ambassadors in the capital numerously attended, but in some provinces, especially in Wales, Catholic sermons were known to be delivered in the open air, and attended by thousands of hearers36. At times the opinion revived that the King was inclined to go over to Catholicism. He repudiated the supposition with some show of indignation. But, as we stated, the Queen incontestably sympathised with the Papacy. She even refrained from attending the Anglican service, and formed relations with the Nuncio in Paris, from whom she received communications and presents. Though Pope Clement? on a former occasion had issued breves which made the obedience of Catholics to a new government dependent on the profession of Catholicism by the sovereign, yet these were virtually recalled by a later issue. When the English ambassador in Paris complained to the Nuncio there of the abovementioned participation of Catholic priests in a conspiracy against the King, the Nuncio laid before him a letter of the Pope's nephew, Cardinal Aldobrandini?, in which he declared it to be the Pope's pleasure that the Catholics in England should be obedient to their king, and should pray for him37. Thus it exactly fell in with the King's views to be a Protestant, as was absolutely necessary for his authority in England and Scotland, and yet at the same time not to have the Catholics against him, and to be able to reckon the Pope of Rome among his friends.
It is evident that this state of affairs, as it was inconsistent with the laws of England, could not be permanently maintained. Even men of moderate views in other respects disapproved the middle course taken by the King: for they thought it necessary to concede nothing to the adherents of the Papacy, if they were to be saved from the necessity of conceding everything. The Catholics desired a public declaration of toleration. But this could only have emanated from Parliament: the King had not the courage, and his ministers had not the wish, to make a serious proposal to that effect. On the contrary, when the Protestant spirit of the capital displayed itself so unmistakably in consequence of the severities with which the Puritans were threatened, the King and his Privy Council, while affirming that they were merely executing the laws, announced their intention of introducing a like severity in the treatment of the Catholics. James I appeared to feel himself insulted if any one threw a doubt on his wish to allow the laws to operate in both directions. And as the Parliament which was so zealously Protestant was expected to reassemble in the autumn of 1605, the laws against the Catholics began to be applied without forbearance. A renewed persecution was first set on foot against the priests, who it is true were not punished with death, at least in the vicinity of the Court, but were thrown into prison, where they not infrequently succumbed to the rough treatment which they had undergone. But even the laity daily suffered more and more from the violence of the spies who forced their way into their houses. They complained loudly and bitterly of the insecurity of their position, which had already gone so far that often no tenants could be found for their farms; and they considered that the least evil, for to-day they lost their possessions, to-morrow they would lose their freedom, and the day after their life38. There had now for a long time been two parties among them, one of which submitted to what was inevitable, while the other offered a violent resistance. With the fresh increase of oppression, the latter party obtained the upper hand. They mocked at the hope, in which men indulged themselves, of a change of religion on the part of the King, who on the contrary was in their view an irreclaimable Protestant, and assumed an air of clemency to the Catholics, only to draw the rein tighter hereafter. A brief from the Pope exhorted them to acquiesce: but even the Pope could not persuade them to allow themselves to be sacrificed without further ceremony. Some of the most resolute once more applied to the Spanish court at this time as they had done before. But in that quarter not only had peace been concluded, but the hope of effecting a close alliance with England had been conceived. A deaf ear was turned to all their applications.
While they were thus hard pressed and desperate, the thought of helping themselves had, if not originated, at least ripened, in the breast of one or two of the boldest of them. They conceived a plan which in savage recklessness surpassed anything which was devised in this epoch so full of conspiracies.
Among the families which sheltered the mission-priests on their arrival in England, and who were moved by them to throw off their reserve in the profession of Catholicism, the Treshams and Catesbys were especially prominent in Northamptonshire. They belonged to the wealthiest and most important families in that county; and the penal laws had borne upon them with especial severity. The Winters of Huddington, who also were very zealous Catholics, were related to them. It is easy to understand, how the young men who were growing up in this family, such as Thomas Winter? and Robert Catesby?, acknowledging no duty to the Protestant government, retorted the oppression which they experienced from it with bold resistance and schemes of violence. In these they were joined by two brothers of the same way of thinking, John? and Christopher Wright?, stout and soldier-like men, belonging to a family which came originally from York. They all participated in the attempt of the Earl of Essex?, for above all things they were eager for the overthrow of the existing government: and Robert Catesby was set at liberty only on payment of a heavy fine, which he could hardly raise by the sale of one of the most productive of the family estates. They were among those who, when Queen Elizabeth lay on her death-bed, proclaimed most loudly their desire for a thorough change, and were arrested in consequence39. They had expected toleration at least from the new government: as this was not granted them they set to work at once on new schemes of insurrection. Christopher Wright was one of those who had invited Philip III? to support the Catholics. When the Constable of Castile? came to Flanders to negotiate the peace, Thomas Winter visited him in order to lay their wish before him. Though they met with a refusal from him as well as from his master they found nevertheless a support which was independent of the approval of individuals. In the archducal Netherlands a combination of a peculiar kind, favourable to their views, had been formed, in consequence of the permission to recruit in the British dominions, which by the terms of the peace had been granted to Spain as well as to the Netherlands. An English regiment, about fifteen hundred strong, had been raised, in which the chaplains were all Jesuit fathers; and no officers were admitted but those who were entirely devoted to them. An English Jesuit named Baldwin, and a soldier of the same opinions, Owen by name, were the leading spirits among them. There was here, so to speak, a school of soldiers side by side with a school of priests, in which every act of the English government provoked slander, malediction, and schemes of opposition. Pope Clement was blamed for not threatening James with excommunication as Elizabeth had formerly been threatened; and the necessity for violent means of redress was canvassed without disguise. These views were repeated in congenial circles in Paris and reacted also upon their friends in England. Robert Catesby had been most active in the enlistment of the regiment. Christopher Wright on his journey to Spain was attended by one of the most resolute officers of this regiment, Guy Fawkes?. The latter returned with Winter to England, and was pointed out by Owen as a man admirably qualified to conduct the horrible undertaking which was being prepared for execution. It must remain a question in whose head the thought of proceeding to it at this moment originated: we only know that Catesby first communicated it to another, and then with the aid of this comrade to the rest of the band. To this another member had been added, who was connected, if only in a remote degree, with one of the most distinguished families among the English nobility. I refer to Thomas Percy?, a kinsman of the Earl of Northumberland, who through his influence had once received a place in the court establishment of King James of Scotland, and had then been the medium for forming a connexion between this prince and the Catholics. He was enraged because the assurances which he then thought that he might make to the Catholics in the name of the King, had not been fulfilled by the latter. In the spring of 1604, just at the time when the peace between England and Spain was concluded, by which no stipulations were made for the Catholics, they met one day in a lonely house near S. Clement's Inn, and bound themselves by a sacred and solemn oath to inviolable secrecy. It had been their intention once more to submit to the assembled Parliament an urgent petition in the name of the Catholics: but the resolutions of the House had sufficed to convince them that nothing could be gained by this step. Quite the contrary: it was apparent that the next session would impose far heavier conditions on them. An attack on the person of the King, or of his ministers, in the shape in which it had so often been resolved upon, could not do much even if it were successful: for the Parliament was always in reserve with its Protestant majority to establish anti-Catholic statutes, and the judges to execute them. Catesby now disclosed a plan which comprehended all their opponents at once. The King himself and his eldest son, the officers of state and of the court, the lords spiritual and temporal, the members of the House of Commons, one and all at the moment when they were collected to reopen Parliament, were to be blown into the air with gunpowder in the hall where they assembled—there where they issued the detested laws were they to be annihilated; vengeance was to be taken on them at the same time that room was to be made for another order of things in Church and State.
This project was not altogether new. Already under Elizabeth there had been a talk of doing again to her what Bothwell had done or attempted to do to Henry Darnley: but men had perceived even at that time that this would not conduce to their purpose, and had hit upon a plan of blowing the Queen and her Parliament into the air together. Henry Garnet?, the superior of the Jesuits, had been consulted on the subject; and he had declared the enterprise lawful, and had only advised them to spare as many of the innocent as possible in its execution40. The scheme which had been started under Elizabeth was resumed under King James, when men saw that his accession to the throne did not produce the hoped-for change. On this occasion also scruples were felt on the ground that many a Catholic would perish at the same time. To a question on the subject submitted to him without closer description of the case Garnet answered in the spirit of a mufti delivering his fettah, that if an end were indubitably a good one, and could be accomplished in no other way, it was lawful to destroy even some of the innocent with the guilty41. Catesby had no compassion even for the innocent: he regarded the lords generally as only poltroons and atheists, whose place would be better filled by vigorous men.
Without delay, before the end of December 1604, the conspirators proceeded to make their preparations. Percy, who was still numbered among the retainers of the court, hired a house which adjoined the Houses of Parliament. They were attempting to carry a mine through the foundation walls of that building-a design that says more for their zeal than for their intelligence, and one which could hardly have been effected—when a vault immediately under the House of Lords happened to fall vacant, and, as they were able to hire it, offered them a far better opportunity for the execution of their scheme. They filled it with a number of powder-barrels which are said to have contained the enormous quantity of 9,000 pounds of powder, and they confidently expected to bring about the great catastrophe with all its horrors on November 5 , 1605, the day which after many changes had been appointed for the opening of Parliament. Their intention was, as soon as the King and the Prince of Wales had perished, to gain possession of the younger prince or of the princess, and to place one or other on the throne, with a regency under a protector during their minority42. All preparations had been made for bringing an effective force into the field; and its principal leaders were to assemble at Dunchurch in Warwickshire under pretence of hunting. The English regiment in Flanders was to be brought over and was to serve as the nucleus of a new force. There is no doubt that Owen was thoroughly conversant with their plans. Many other trustworthy people were admitted into the secret, and supported the project with their money. One of these was sent to Rome in order to convince the Pope of the necessity of the undertaking and to move him to resolutions in support of it. On All Saints' Day Father Garnet interrupted his prayer with a hymn of praise for the deliverance of the inheritance of the faithful from the generation of the ungodly.
But warnings had already come to the government, especially from Paris, where the priests of the Jesuit party ventured to express themselves still more plainly than in London. The warning was conveyed with the express intimation that 'somewhat is at present in hand among these desperate hypocrites43.' What an impression must now have been produced when one of the Catholic lords, who at an earlier period had followed this party, but had for some time withdrawn from it, Lord Mounteagle, communicated to the first minister a letter in which he was admonished in mysterious language to hold aloof from the opening of Parliament. It may be that the King, as he himself relates, in deciphering the sense of a word hit upon the supposition that a fate similar to that of his father was being prepared for him; or it may be that the ministers had, as they affirm, come upon the traces of the matter; but however this may have been, on the evening before the opening of Parliament the vaults were examined, when not only were the powder-barrels found among wood and faggots, but also one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, who was busy with the last preparations for the execution of the plot. With a smiling countenance he confessed his purpose, which he seemed to regard as the fulfilment of a religious duty. The pedantic monarch thought himself in the presence of a fanatical Mutius Scaevola?.
The rest of the conspirators who were in London, alarmed by the discovery, hastened to the appointed rendezvous at Dunchurch; but the news which they brought with them caused general discouragement. With a band of about one hundred men, they set off to make their escape to Wales, the home of most of the Catholics, hoping to receive the promised reinforcements and the support of the population on their way. They once actually attempted to assure themselves of the latter; but on declaring that they were for God and the country, they received the answer that they ought also to be for the King. No one joined them, and many of their comrades had already dispersed when they were overtaken at Holbeach by the armed bands of Worcestershire under the Sheriff. Percy and Catesby, as they stood back to back, were shot dead by two balls from the same musket; the two Wrights were killed, and Thomas Winter taken prisoner44.
The authority of government triumphed over this most frantic attempt to break through it, as it had triumphed in every similar case since the time of Henry VII.
It was perhaps the most remarkable feature in this last, that it was directed especially against the Parliament. During the Wars of the Roses, it had only been necessary to drive the then reigning prince out of the field, or to chase him away, in order to create a new parliamentary rule. The attempts against Queen Elizabeth rested on the hope of producing a similar result by her death: but it was apparent in her last years that her death would be useless, and the comparatively free elections after that event returned a Parliament of the same character as the preceding. Even under the new reign the Protestant party secured their ascendancy in the elections; and the only possibility of an alteration for the future was to be found in the annihilation of the Parliament, not so much of the institution—at least this was not mooted—but of the men who composed it and gave it its character. The violent attempt on the Parliament is a proof of its power. The Gunpowder Plot was directed against the King, not in his personal capacity as monarch, but as head of the legislative authority. It was felt that this power itself with all its component parts must be destroyed without scruple or mercy, if an order of things in the State corresponding to the views of the hierarchical party was ever again to obtain a footing.
The necessary and inevitable result of the conspiracy was that Parliament, which did not enter on the session until January 1606, still further increased the existing severity of its laws. The great body of Catholics had not in any way participated in the plot; but yet, as it had originated among them, and was intended for the redress of their common grievances, they were all affected by the reaction which it produced. The Catholic recusants were to be subjected to the former penalties: they were sentenced to exclusion from the palace and from the capital; they were forbidden to hold any appointment in the public service either in the administration of justice, or as government officials, or even as physicians; they were obliged to open their houses at any moment for examination; the solemnisation of their marriages and the baptism of their children were henceforth to be legal only if performed by Protestant clergymen. It is evident that the Papal See would have preferred to restrain the agitation of the Catholics at this juncture; but as the latter appealed to the principle which had been impressed on them by their missionaries, that men had no duties to a king who was a heretic, the Parliament thought it necessary to impose on them an oath which concerned the authority of their Church as well as that of the State. Not only were they to be compelled to acknowledge the King as their legitimate prince, to defend him against every conspiracy and every attack, even when made under the pretext of religion, and to promise to reveal any such to him; they must also renounce the doctrine that the authority of the Church gave the Pope the right of deposing a king, and absolving his subjects from their oath of allegiance; and they must condemn as impious and heretical the doctrine that princes excommunicated by the pope could be dethroned or put to death by their subjects45. Attention was directed to the English regiment in the service of the Archduke; and it was thought dangerous that so many malcontents should be assembled there, and should practise the use of arms, in order perhaps to turn them some day against their country. It was enacted that the Oath of Supremacy should be imposed on every one who took service abroad before his departure, with a pledge that he would not be reconciled to the Papacy: even securities for the observance of the oath were to be exacted.
In the spring of the year 1605 the whole state of England still showed a tendency to clemency and conciliation. In the early part of 1606 the opposite tendency had completely obtained the upper hand.
But this state of affairs necessarily reacted on Catholic countries and governments. In Spain, where it was easiest to rouse the susceptibilities of Catholicism, the severe measures of the Parliament of themselves created a feeling of bitterness: but besides this, Irish refugees resorted thither who gave an agitating account of the way in which these measures were carried out in Ireland46: so that the nation felt itself affronted in the persons of its co-religionists. Both governments, that of Spain and that of the Netherlands, refused to hand over to the English government men like Baldwin and Owen, who were taxed with participating in the plot, or to banish others whom the English government considered dangerous. The pious were reminded of the will of Queen Mary, in which she had transferred her hereditary right over England, France, Ireland and Scotland, to the House of Spain in case her son should not be converted to the Church.
And how deeply must the Court of Rome have felt itself injured by the imposition of the Oath of Supremacy. A Pope of the Borghese family had just been elected, Paul V, who was as deeply convinced of the truth of the Papal principles, and as firmly resolved to enforce them, as any of his predecessors; and who was surrounded by learned men and statesmen who looked upon the maintenance of these principles as the salvation of the world. Their religious pride was galled to the quick by the imposition of such an oath as that exacted in England, by which principles at that time zealously taught in Catholic schools were described not only as objectionable but as heretical. They thought it possible that the temporal power might prevail on the English Catholics to accept this oath, as in fact the archpriest Blackwell who had been appointed by Clement VIII took it, and advised others to do the same. But by this act the supremacy of the King would be practically acknowledged, and the connexion of the English Catholics with the Papacy dissolved. Moved by these considerations, Paul V, in a brief of September 1, 1606, declared that the oath contained much that was contrary to the faith, and could not be taken by any one without damage to his salvation. He expressed his anticipation that the English Catholics, whose constancy had been tested like gold in the fire of the persecutions, would show their firmness on this occasion also, and that they would rather undergo all tortures, even death itself, than insult the Divine Majesty. At first the archpriest and the moderate Catholics, who did not consider that the political claims referred to in the oath were the true principles of the Papacy, declared that the brief was spurious; but after some time it was confirmed in all due form, and an address appeared from the pen of the most eminent apologist of the See of Rome, Cardinal Bellarmin?, in which he reminded the archpriest that the general apostolical authority of the Pope could not be impugned even in a single iota of the subtleties of dogma: how much less then in this instance, where the question was simply whether men should look for the head of the Church in the successor of Henry VIII, or in the successor of S. Peter.
These statements however greatly irritated the King, both as a man of learning and as a temporal potentate. He took pen in hand himself in order to defend the oath, in the wording of which he had a large share. He expressed his astonishment that so distinguished a scholar as Bellarmin should confound the Oath of Supremacy with the Oath of Allegiance, in which no word occurred affecting any article of faith, and which was only intended to distinguish the champions of an attempt like the Gunpowder Plot from his quiet subjects of the Cathollc religion. He said that nothing more disastrous to these could have happened than that the Pope should condemn the oath, and thereby the original relation of obedience which bound them to their sovereign; for he was requiring them to repudiate this obedience and to abjure again the oath which had already been taken by many, after the example of the arch-priest. James I took much trouble to justify the form of oath by the decrees of the old coumcils47.
Criminal attempts, even when they fail, have at times the most extensive political consequences. James I had started with the idea of linking his subjects of every persuasion to himself in the bonds of a free and uniform obedience, and of creating harmonious relations between the rival powers of the world and his own realm of Great Britain. Then intervened this murderous attempt; and the measures to which he had recourse in order to secure his person and his country against the repetition of criminal attacks like this last, rekindled the national and religious animosities which he desired to lull, and fanned them into a bright flame.
What had already taken place before James ascended the throne, occurred again under these circumstances. Although belonging to one of the two religious parties which divided the world between them, he had sought to form relations with the other, when circumstances which were beyond all calculation caused and almost compelled him to return to his original position.
The Republic of Venice enjoyed his full sympathies in the quarrel in which at this time it became involved with the Papacy. The laws which it had made for limiting the influence of the clergy appeared to him in the highest degree just and wise. He thought that Europe would be happy if other princes as well would open their eyes, for they would not then experience so many usurpations on the part of the See of Rome; and he showed himself ready to form an alliance with the Republic. The Venetians always affirmed that the lively interest of the King of England in their cause had already, by provoking the jealousy of the French, strengthened their resolution to arrange these disputes in conjunction with Spain48. When the Republic, although compelled to make some concessions, yet came out of this contest without losing its independence, it continued to believe that for this result also it was indebted to King James.
In the same way, there can be no serious doubt that the refusal of the alliance, which the Spaniards had more than once proposed to the King of England, impelled the former to turn their thoughts to a peaceful adjustment of their differences with the Netherlands. They had made similar overtures to France also, but these had been shipwrecked by the firmness and mistrust of Henry IV. They were convinced however that, without winning over at least one of these two powers, they would never even by their strongest efforts again become masters of the Netherlands. In spite of some advantages which they had obtained on the mainland, they were so hard pressed by the superiority of the Dutch fleet, that they at last came forward with more acceptable proposals than they had before made. The English government advised the States-General to show compliance on all other points if their independence were acknowledged: not to stand out even if this were recognised only for a while through a truce, for in that case they would obtain better conditions on the other points: and that in regard to these England would protect them49. By their conduct to both sides, by standing aloof from the one and by bestowing good advice on the other, the English thus promoted the conclusion of the twelve years truce, and thereby procured for the United Provinces an independent position which they did not allow to be wrested from them again. The Spaniards attributed the result not so much to the Provinces themselves as to the two Powers allied with them: they thought that the articles of the treaty had been drawn up by the former, but devised and dictated by the latter. It was their serious intention that this agreement should be only temporary; they reckoned upon the speedy death of the King of France, and upon future troubles in England, for an opportunity of resuming the war50. But whatever the future might bring to pass, England, as well as France, derived an incalculable advantage at the time from the erection of an independent state under their protection, which could not but ally itself with them against the still dominant power of Spain.
On the whole the general understanding which King James maintained with Henry IV secured a support for his State, and imparted to himself a political courage which was otherwise foreign to his nature. The two sovereigns also made common cause in the Cleves-Juliers question. Two Protestant princes with the consent of the Estates had taken possession of it on the strength of their hereditary title. When an Archduke laid hands on the principal fortress in the country, a general feeling of jealousy was roused: and even in England it was thought that the point at issue here was not the possession of a small principality, but the confirmation of the House of Austria and the Papacy in their already tottering dominion over these provinces of the Lower Rhine, which might exercise such an important influence on the State of Europe51. When Henry IV joined the German Union and the Dutch for the protection of the two princes and for the conquest of Juliers, James also decided to bestow his aid. He took into his own pay 4000 of the troops who were still in the service of the Republic, sent them a general, and despatched them to the contested dominions to take part in the struggle.
It does not appear that any one in England was aware of the great designs which Henry IV connected with this enterprise. When, on the eve of its execution, he was struck down in the centre of his capital by the dagger of a fanatic, friends and foes alike were thrilled with the feeling that the event affected them all, and would have an immeasurable influence on the world. In England also it was felt as a domestic calamity. Robert Cecil, now Earl of Salisbury, said in Parliament that Henry IV had been as it were their advanced guard against conspiracies of which he had always given the first information: that the first warning of the Gunpowder Plot must have come from him; that he had as it were stood in the breach, and that now he had been the first victim. The crimes of Ravaillac? and of Catesby had sprung from the same source.
The enterprise against Juliers was not hindered by this event. The forces of the Union under the Prince of Anhalt?, and the Dutch and English troops under Maurice of Orange and Edward Cecil?, with the addition of a number of volunteers from such leading families in England as those of Winchester, Somerset, Rich, Herbert, had already made considerable progress in the siege when, at last, at the orders of the widowed Queen?, the French also arrived, but in the worst plight and suffering severely from illness, so that they could not carry out the intention, with which they came, of sequestrating the place in the interests of France. When the fortress had been taken it was delivered to the two princes, who now possessed the whole country. This was an event of general historical importance, for by this means Brandenburg first planted its foot on the Rhine, and came into greater prominence in Europe on this side also. It took place, like the foundation of the Republic of the Netherlands, with the concurrence of England and France, and in opposition to Austria and Spain, but at the same time by the help of the Republic itself and of those members of the Estates of the German empire who professed the same creed.
The times had gone by when the Spaniards had taken arms as if for the conquest of the world; but their pretensions remained the same. It was still their intention, in virtue of the privileges assigned them by the Pope, to exclude all others from the colonisation of America and from commerce with the East Indies. They laid claim to Northern Africa because it had been tributary to the crown of Aragon, to Athens and Neopatra because they had belonged to the Catalans, to Jerusalem because it had belonged to the King of Naples, and even to Constantinople because it had passed by will to Ferdinand II of Aragon from the last of the Palaeologi?. On the strength of the claims made by the old dukes of Milan they deemed themselves to have a right to the towns of the Venetian mainland, and to Liguria. Philip III was in their eyes the true heir of the Maximilian branch of the German house of Austria: according to their view the succession in Bohemia and Hungary fell to him. The progress of the Catholic revival afforded them an opportunity of exercising a profound influence on the German empire, while the same cause extended their influence over Poland; they obtained through their commercial relations even the friendship of Protestant princes and towns in the North. Their intention was now to associate the two antagonistic powers of the West with their policy by means of alliances with the reigning families. The first considerable step in this direction was made after the death of Henry IV, when they succeeded in concerting with his widow a double marriage, between the young King of France? and an Infanta of Spain, and between the future King of Spain and a French princess. It was thought certain beforehand that they would get the conduct of French policy into their hands during the minority of Louis XIII. But they were already seeking to draw the house of Stuart also into this alliance in spite of the difference of religion. In August 1611 the Spanish ambassador, whose overtures had hitherto been fruitless, came forward to announce that an alliance between the Prince of Wales? and a Spanish infanta would meet with no obstacle on the part of Spain, if it should be desired on the part of England. It was thought that the Queen, who found a satisfaction of her ambition in this brilliant alliance, and the old Spanish and Catholic party, who were still very numerous in the highest ranks and among the people, might employ their whole influence in its favour.
But there was still at the head of affairs a man who was resolved to oppose this design, Robert Cecil, to whom it is generally owing that the tendencies of Elizabeth's policy lasted on so long into the time of the Stuarts as they did. I do not know whether the two Cecils can be reckoned among the great men of England: they would almost seem to have lacked that independent attitude and that soaring and brilliant genius which would be requisite for such an eminence; but without doubt few have had so much influence on its history. Robert Cecil inherited the employment, the experiences, and the personal connexions of his father William. He knew how to rid himself of all rivals that rose to the surface52 by counteracting their proceedings in secret or openly, justifiably or not: enmity and friendship he reciprocated with equal warmth. He made no change in the method of transacting business which was conducted by the whole Privy Council; but his natural superiority and the importance that he gradually acquired always brought the decision into accordance with his views. The King himself gave intimations that he did not look upon his predominance as altogether proper. In one of his letters he jests over the supremacy calmly exercised by his minister at the centre of affairs, while he, the King, so soon as his minister summoned him, must hasten in, and yet at last could do nothing but accept the resolutions which he put into his hands. A small deformed man, to whom James, as was his wont, gave a jesting nickname on this account, he yet impressed men by the intelligence which flashed from his countenance and from every word he spoke; and even his outward bearing had a certain dignity. His independence was increased by his enormous wealth, acquired mainly by investments in the Dutch funds, which at that time returned an extraordinarily high interest. Surrounded by many who accepted presents, he showed himself inaccessible to such seductions and incorruptible. At this time he was the oracle of England53.
Among the English youth the wish was constantly reviving that the war with Spain, in which success was expected without any doubt, might be renewed with all vigour. Robert Cecil was as little in favour of this as his father formerly had been. Peaceful relations with Spain were rendered especially necessary by the condition of Ireland, where Tyrone?, not less dissatisfied with James than he had been with Elizabeth, had again thrown off his allegiance, and had at last gone abroad to procure foreign aid for his discontented countrymen. But if Cecil could not break with Spain, yet he would not allow that power to strengthen itself or to obtain influence over England herself. In regard to the proposal of marriage that was made he had said that the gallant Prince of Wales? could find blooming roses everywhere and did not need to search for an olive.
The notion continued to prevail that James I, even if he did not take arms, ought to put himself at the head of the anti-Spanish party in Europe, now that Henry IV was no more.
The King and his ministers thought that for maintaining in the first place the state of affairs established in Cleves and Juliers, an alliance of the countries which had cooperated in producing it was the only appropriate means. In March 1612 we find the English ambassador at the Hague, Sir Ralph Winwood?, at Wesel, where a defensive alliance that had long been mooted between James I and the princes of the Union, including those of the Palatinate, Brandenburg, Hesse, Wurtemberg, Baden, and Anhalt, was actually concluded. Both contracting parties promised one another mutual support against all who should attack them on account of the Union or of the aid they had given in settling and maintaining the tenure of Cleves and Juliers. The King was accordingly pledged to bring 4000 men into the field, and the Princes 2000 as their contingent, or to pay a sum of money fixed by rule at the choice of the country which should be attacked54. The agreement was concluded for six years, the period for which it was also agreed that the Union should still continue. The idea was started, I do not know whether by King James or rather by the leading English statesmen, of making this alliance the basis of a general European coalition against the encroachments of the Spaniards55 The German princes invited the Queen-Regent? of France to join it, and to bring the Republic of the United Provinces into it. Mary de' Medici refused, on the ground that this was unnecessary, as the Republic was secured by the defensive alliance previously concluded; but her ministers at that time still lent their assistance for the object immediately in view. The Spaniards had conceived the intention of raising the Archduke Albert? to imperial throne after the death of the Emperor Rudolph?. A portion of the Electors, among others the Elector of Saxony?, which had been prejudiced by the settlement of Juliers, was in his favour. He possessed the sympathies of all zealous Catholics; but England and France saw in the union of the imperial power with the possession of the Spanish Netherlands a danger for themselves and for the republic founded under their auspices. They plainly declared to the Spaniards that they would not permit it, but would set themselves against it with their allies, that is to say, of course, with the Republic and the Union56.
Little seems to have been heard in Germany of the protest of the powers in regard to the imperial succession: but it was effectual. The imperial throne was ascended not by Albert but by Matthias?, who had far more sympathy with the efforts of the Protestants and approved of the Union. Indeed the Spaniards too, under the guidance of the pacific Lerma?, were not inclined to drive matters to extremities.
In the youthful republic of the Netherlands an estrangement, involving also a difference of opinion on religious questions, arose at that time between the Stadtholder? and the magistrates of the aristocracy. The party of the Stadtholder clung to the strict Calvinistic doctrines; the aristocratic party were in favour of milder and more conciliatory views, which besides allotted to the temporal power no small influence over the clergy, as Arminius? had maintained in his lectures at Leyden. After his death a German professor, Conrad Vorstius?, had been invited to Holland, who added to the opinions of his predecessor others which deviated still more widely from Calvinism, and inclined to Socinianism. The world has always felt astonished that King James took a side in this controversy, wrote a book against Vorstius, and did not rest till he had been ejected from his office. In fact learned rivalry was not the only motive which induced him to take pen in hand: we perceive that the adherents of Arminius, the supporters of Vorstius, were obnoxious to him on political grounds also. The leaders of the burgher aristocracy showed a marked coldness to the interests of England after the conclusion of the truce, and a leaning to those of France. The King moreover was of opinion that positive orthodoxy was necessary for maintaining the conflict with Catholicism, and for upholding a state founded on religion: and he sent an invitation to the Prince of Orange? to unite with him in this cause. The strict Calvinism of the prince was at the same time an act of homage to England.
While religious and political affairs were in this state of perplexity, which extended to the French Reformed Church as well, a marriage was settled between the Princess Elizabeth? of England and the Elector Palatine, Frederick V?.
This young prince, who at that time was still a ward, had the prospect of succeeding at an unusually early age to a position in which he could exert an influence on the German empire. By the mother's? side he was grandson of the founder of Dutch independence, William of Orange: his uncles were the Stadtholder Maurice? and the Duke of Bouillon?, who might be considered the head of the Reformed Communion in France, and who had married another daughter of William. Frederick had spent some years with the Duke at Sedan. The Duke of Bouillon, like Maurice, took an active part in various ways in the European politics of that age: these two men stood at the head of that party on the continent which most zealously opposed the Papacy and the house of Austria. Bouillon had first directed the attention of James to the young Frederick, and had painted to him his good qualities and his great prospects, and, although not without reserve, had pronounced a match be- tween him and the Princess Elizabeth desirable57, as it would form a dynastic tie between the Protestantism of England and that of the continent. The brother of the Duke of Wurtemberg, Louis Frederick, who then resided in England on behalf of the Union, still more decidedly advocated the match. He told the King that he would have in the young count not so much a son-in-law, as a servant who depended on his nod; and that he would pledge all the German princes to his interest by this means58. After the conclusion of the alliance at Wesel the Count of Hanau?, who was likewise married to a daughter of William, visited London with two privy councillors of the Palatinate, in order to bring the matter to an issue: they were to meet there with the Duke of Bouillon, to whose advice they had been expressly referred. Another suit for the hand of the Princess was then before the English court. The Duke of Savoy? had made proposals for a double marriage between his two children and the English prince and princess. There appeared to be almost a match between Catholic and Protestant princes to decide which party should bear off 'this pearl,' the Princess of England. Without doubt religious considerations mainly carried the day in favour of the German suitor. The Princess displayed great zeal in behalf of Protestantism; and James said that he would not allow his daughter to be restricted in the exercise of her religion, not even if she were to be Queen of the world59. On the 16th of May the members of the Privy Council signed the contract in which the marriage was agreed upon between 'My Lady Elizabeth,' only daughter of the King, and the Grand-Master of the Household and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick Count Palatine, and the necessary provisions were made as to dower and settlements. This may be regarded as the last work of Robert Cecil: he died a few days after. The pulpits had attacked the marriage of the princess with a Catholic, and had exhorted the people to pray for her marriage with a Protestant. The common feeling of Protestants was gratified when this result came to pass.
The question of the future marriage of Henry Frederick Prince of Wales was treated in a kindred spirit though not exactly in the same way.
All eyes were already directed to this young prince and his future prospects. He was serious and reserved; a man of few words, sound judgment, and lofty ideas; and he gave signs of an ambitious desire to rival his most famous predecessors on the throne60. He understood the calling of sovereign in a different sense from his father. On one occasion when his father set his younger brother before him as a model of industry in the pursuit of science, he replied that he would make a very good archbishop of Canterbury. For one who was to wear the crown skill in arms and knowledge of seamanship seemed to him indispensable; he made it his most zealous study to acquire both the one and the other. His intention undoubtedly was to make every provision for the great war against the Spanish monarchy which was anticipated. He wished to escort his sister to Germany in order to form a personal acquaintance with the princes of the Union, whom he regarded as his natural allies. These views could not have been thwarted if the proposal of the Duke of Savoy, which had been rejected in behalf of the Princess, had been accepted in behalf of the Prince61. For every day the Duke separated himself more and more from the policy of Spain: he had even wished at one time to be admitted into the Union. He offered a large portion with the hand of his daughter, and was ready to agree to those restrictions in the exercise of her religion which it might be thought necessary to prescribe. Meanwhile, however, another project came up. The grandees of France wished to bring a prince of such high endowments and decided views into the closest relations with the house of Bourbon, in order to oppose the action of Spain on the French court by another influence. They made proposals for a marriage between the Prince of Wales and the second daughter of Henry IV, the Lady Christine of France. They found the most cordial reception for this scheme among the English who favoured Protestantism, and understood the course of the world. It was thought that the new League, for this was the designation given to the increasing of Spanish and Catholic views in France, would by this means be thrown into confusion in its own camp; the French government would be brought back to its old attitude of hostility towards Spain, and would only thus be completely sure of the States General, which could never separate themselves both from England and France at the same time. The Prince embraced the notion that the Princess must immediately be brought to England to be instructed in the Protestant faith, and perhaps to be converted to it. As she was still very young his notion was so far reasonable, although in other respects her age was a considerable obstacle. While he referred the decision to his father, he yet made a remark which shows his own leanings, that this marriage would certainly be most acceptable to all his brother Protestants62. What a prospect would have dawned on these if a young and energetic king of England, confederate with Germany and Holland, and looked up to in France for a double reason, both on account of the old and still unforgotten claims63, and on account of his marriage, had taken the Huguenots under his protection or actually appealed to them in his own behalf!
The 5th of November 1612 was fixed as the day on which the question was to be decided by a commission expressly appointed for this purpose. King James, who is represented as favourable to the connexion with France, went from Theobald's to the meeting: the Prince had drawn out for himself the arguments by which he thought to refute the objections of opponents. On the very same day he was taken ill, and was obliged to ask for an adjournment; but from day to day and hour to hour his illness became more dangerous. He exhibited a composed and, when addressed on religious questions, a devout frame of mind, but he did not wish to die. When some one said to him that God only could heal him, he replied that perhaps the physicians also might do something. On the 17th of November, two hours after midnight, he died—'the flower of his house,' as men said, 'the palladium of the country, the terror of his foes.' They even went so far as to put him at this early age on a level with Henry IV, who had been proved by a life full of struggles and vicissitudes. The comparison rested on the circumstance that the young and highly-gifted prince was forced to succumb to an unexpected misfortune while preparing for great undertakings which, like those of Henry IV, were to be directed against Spain.
It is very probable that this prince, if he had lived to ascend the English throne, would have attempted to give to affairs a turn suitable to the vigorous designs which engrossed his thoughts. According to all appearance he would not have trodden in the footsteps of his father. He appeared quite capable of reviving the old plans of conquest entertained by the house of Lancaster: he would have united outspoken Protestant tendencies with the monarchical views of Edward VI, or rather of Elizabeth. With the men who then held the chief power in England he had no points of agreement, and they already feared him64. They were even accused of having caused his premature death.
Yet the course which had been struck out with the cooperation of the young prince was not abandoned at his death.
The Elector Palatine had already arrived in London. His demeanour and behaviour quieted the doubts of one party and put to shame the predictions of the other: he appeared manly, firm, bent on high aims, and dignified: he knew how to win over even the Queen who at first was unfavourable to him. Letters exchanged at that time are full of the joy with which the marriage was welcomed by the Protestants. But it was just as decidedly unwelcome to the other party. An expression which was then reported in Brussels shewed how lively the hatred was, and how widely and how far into the future political combinations extended. It was said that this marriage was designed to wrest the Imperial throne from the house of Austria; but it was added, with haughty reliance on the strength of Catholic Europe, that this design should never succeed65.
Another collision seemed at times to be immediately impending. In the year 1613 the English government sent to ask the districts most exposed to a Spanish invasion, how many troops they could severally oppose to it, and had appointed the fire signals which were to announce the coming danger. It is indeed not wonderful that under such circumstances it continued the policy which was calculated to promote a general European opposition to the Spaniards.
When the French grandees thought fit to contest the Spanish marriages which Mary de' Medici made up, they had King James on their side, who regarded it as the natural right of princes of the blood to undertake the charge of public affairs during a minority. At the meeting of the Estates in 1614, it was their intention to get the government into their hands, and then to bring it back again to the line of policy of Henry IV. The English ambassador, Edmonds?, showed that he concurred with them.
Soon afterwards the differences between the Duke of Savoy and the Spanish governor in Milan terminated in an open rupture. The French grandees, though they had not carried their point in the States-General, yet showed themselves independent and strong enough to follow their own wishes in interfering in this matter. While the Queen-Regent supported the Spaniards, they came to the assistance of the Duke. In this struggle King James also came forward on his side in concert with the Republic of Venice, which was still able to throw a considerable weight into the scale on an Italian question.
The cause of Savoy appeared the common cause of opposition to Spain. James deemed himself happy in being able to do something further for that object by removing the misunderstanding which existed between Protestant Switzerland and the Duke. On his own side he carefully upheld the old connexion between England and the Cantons. He gave out that in this manner the territories of his allies would extend to the very borders of Italy, for Protestant Switzerland formed the connecting link between his friends in that country and the German Union which, in turn, bordered on the Netherlands. With the same view, in order that his allies might not have their hands tied elsewhere, he laboured to remove the dissensions between Saxony and Brandenburg, and between the States-General and Denmark. At the repeated request of certain German princes, he made it his business to put an end, by his intervention, to the war that had broken out between Sweden and Denmark. By the mediation of his ambassadors the agreement of Knäröd was arrived at, which regulated the relations between the Northern kingdoms for a considerable time. James saw his name at the head of an agreement which settled the rights of sovereignty in the extreme North 'from Tittisfiord to Weranger,' and had the satisfaction of finding that the ratification of this agreement by his own hand was deemed necessary66. A general union of the Protestant kingdoms and states was contemplated in this arrangement.
In connexion with this, the commercial relations that had been long ago concluded with Russia assumed a political character. During the quarrels about the succession to the throne, when Moscow was in danger of falling under the dominion of Poland, which in this matter was supported by Catholic Europe, the Russians sought the help of Germany, of the Netherlands, and especially of England. We learn that the house of Romanoff offered to put itself in a position of inferiority to King James, who appeared as the supreme head of the Protestant world, if he would free Russia from the invasion of the Poles.
Already in the time of Elizabeth the opposition to the Spanish monarchy had caused the English government to make advances to the Turks.
Just at the period when the fiercest struggle was preparing, at the time when Philip II was making preparations for annexing Portugal, the Queen determined to shut her eyes to the scruples which hitherto had generally deterred Christian princes from entering into an alliance with unbelievers. It is worth noticing that from the beginning East Indian interests were the means of drawing these powers nearer to one another. Elizabeth directed the attention of the Turks to the serious obstacles that would be thrown in their way, if the Portuguese colonies in that quarter were conquered by the far more powerful Spaniards67. The commercial relations between the two kingdoms themselves presented another obvious consideration. England seized the first opportunity for throwing off the protection of the French flag, which had hitherto sheltered her, and in a short time was much rather able to protect the Dutch who were still closely allied with her. The Turks greatly desired to form a connexion with a naval power independent of the religious impulses which threatened to bring the neighbouring powers of the West into the field against them. They knew that the English would never co-operate against them with Spaniards and French. Political and commercial interests were thus intertwined with one another. A Levant company was founded, at the proposal of which the ambassadors were nominated, both of whom enjoyed a considerable influence under James I.
As in these transactions attention was principally directed to the commerce in the products of the East Indies carried on through the medium of Turkish harbours, was it not to be expected that an attempt should be made to open direct communication with that country? The Dutch had already anticipated the English in that quarter; but Elizabeth was for a long time withheld by anxiety lest the negotiations for peace with Spain, which were just about to be opened, should be interrupted by such an enterprise. Yet under her government the company was formed for trading with the East Indies, to which, among other exceptional privileges, the right of acquiring territory was granted. It was only bound to hold aloof from those provinces which were in the possession of Christian sovereigns. We have seen how carefully in the peace which James I concluded with Spain everything was avoided which could have interrupted this commerce. James confirmed this company by a charter which was not limited to any particular time. And in the very first contracts which this company concluded with the great Mogul, Jehangir?, they had the right bestowed on them of fortifying the principal factories which were made over to them. The native powers regarded the English as their allies against the Spaniards and Portuguese.
In the year 1612 Shirley?, a former friend of Essex, who had been induced by the Earl himself to go to the East, and who had there formed a close alliance with Shah Abbas?, returned to England, where he appeared wearing a turban and accompanied by a Persian wife. He entrusted the child of this marriage to the guardianship of the Queen, when he again set off for Persia, in order to open up the commerce of England in the Persian Gulf.
But it was a still more important matter that the attempts which had been made under the Queen to set foot permanently on the other hemisphere could now be brought to a successful issue under King James. It may perhaps be affirmed that, so long as the countries were at open war, these attempts could not have been made, unless Spain had first been completely conquered. England could not resume her old designs until a peace had been concluded, which, if it did not expressly allow new settlements, yet did not expressly forbid them, but perhaps tacitly reserved the right of forming them. Under the impulse which the discovery of the Gunpowder plot gave, I will not say to war, but certainly to continued opposition to Spain, the King bestowed on the companies formed for that purpose the charters on which the colonisation of North America was founded. The settlement of Virginia was again undertaken, and, although in constant danger of destruction from the opposition of warlike natives and the dissensions of its founders, yet at last by the union of strict law and personal energy it was quickened into life, and kindled the jealousy of the Spaniards. They feared especially that it would throw obstacles in the way of the homeward and outward voyages of their fleets68. Their hands, however, were tied by the peace: and we learn that when they made overtures for the marriage of the Prince of Wales with a Spanish Infanta, they proposed at the same time that this colony should be given up. But the Prince of Wales from the interest which he took in all maritime enterprises was just the man to exert himself most warmly in its behalf. Under his auspices a new expedition was equipped, which did not sail till after his death, and then materially contributed to secure the colony. Not without good reason have the colonists commemorated his name.
How immensely important at least for England have her relations with the Spanish monarchy been shown to be! She had been formerly its ally, its attacks she had then withstood, and now resisted it at every turn. Only in rivalry with this Power, and in opposition to it, was the great Island of the West brought into relations, for which it was suited by its geographical position, with every part of the known world.
For the full occupation of this position in the world, and for maintaining and extending it, nothing was more necessary than internal harmony in Great Britain, not only between the two kingdoms, but also in each of them at home. While Robert Cecil procured full recognition for considerations of foreign policy, he conceived the further design of bringing about such an unity above all things in England itself, as, if successful, would have procured for the power of the King an authority paramount to all the other elements of the constitution.
The greatest standing evil from which the existing government suffered, was the inequality between income and expenditure; and if the lavish profusion of the King was partly responsible for this, yet there were also many other reasons for it. The late Queen had left behind no inconsiderable weight of debt, occasioned by the cost of the Irish war: to this were added the expenses of her obsequies, of the coronation, and of the first arrangements under the new reign. Visits of foreign princes, the reception and the despatch of great embassies, had caused still further extraordinary outlay; and the separate court-establishments of the King, the Queen, and the Prince, made a constant deficit inevitable. Perpetual embarrassment was the result.
James I expresses himself with a sort of naive ingenuousness in a letter to the Lords of Council of the year 1607. In this letter he exhorts them not to present to him any 'sute wherof none of yourselves can guess what the vallew may prove,' but rather to help him to cut off superfluous expenses, as far as was consistent with the honour of the kingdom, and to assist him to new lawful sources of revenue, without throwing an unjust burden upon the people. 'The only disease and consumption which I can ever apprehend as likeliest to endanger me, is this eating canker of want, which being removed I could think myself as happy in all other respects as any other king or monarch that ever was since the birth of Christ: in this disease I am the patient, and yee have promised to be the physicians, and to use the best care uppon me that your witte, faithfulnes and diligence can reach unto69.'
As Lord Treasurer, Robert Cecil had the task of taking in hand the conduct of this affair also. He had refused to make disbursements which he thought improper, but to which the King had notwithstanding allowed himself to be led away: he would not hear of increasing the revenue by such means as the sale of offices, a custom which seemed to be at that time transplanting itself from France into England. He sought to add to the revenue in the first place by further taxation of the largely increasing commerce of the country. And as tonnage and poundage had been once for all granted to the King, he thought it appropriate and permissible to raise the custom-house duties as an administrative measure. Soon after the new government had come into power it had undertaken the rearrangement of the tariff to suit the circumstances of the time. Cecil, who was confirmed in his purpose by a decision of the judges to the effect that his conduct was perfectly legal, conferred with the principal members of the commercial class on the amount and nature of the increase of duty70. The plan which they embraced in accordance with the views prevalent at the time contemplated that the burden should principally fall upon foreigners.
The advantages which were obtained by this means were not inconsiderable. The Custom-House receipts were gradually increased under King James by one-half; but yet this was a slow process and could not meet the wants that likewise kept growing. The Lord Treasurer decided to submit a comprehensive scheme to Parliament, in order to effect a radical cure of the evil. The importance of the matter will be our excuse for examining it in detail.
He explained to them that a considerable increase of income (which he put down at £82,000) was required to cover the regular expenditure, but that a still greater sum was needed for casual expenses, for which in the state, as in every household, certainly a quarter of the sum reached by the regular expenditure was required. He therefore proposed posed that £600,000 should be at once granted him for paying off the debt, and that in future years the royal income should be raised by £200,000.
This request was so comprehensive and so far beyond all precedent, that it could never have been made without a corresponding offer of concessions on a large scale. The Earl of Salisbury? in his proposal formally invited the Parliament to adduce the grievances which it had, and promised in the King's name to redress all such so far as lay in his power. It is affirmed that his clear-sighted and vigorous speech made a favourable impression. Parliament in turn acceded to the proposal, and alleged its most important grievances. They affected both ecclesiastical and financial interests: among the latter class that which concerned the Court of Wards is the most important historically.
Of the institutions by which the Normans and Plantagenets held their feudal state together, none perhaps was more effectual than the right of guardianship over minors, whose property the kings managed for their own advantage. They stepped as it were into the rights of fathers; even the marriage of wards depended on their pleasure. From the time of Henry VIII a court for the exercise of this jurisdiction and for feudal tenures generally had existed, which instituted enquiries into the neglect of prescriptive custom, and punished it. One of the most important offices was that of President of the Court, which was very lucrative, and conferred personal influence in various ways. It had been long filled by Robert Cecil himself.
The Lower House now proposed in the first place that this right and the machinery created to enforce it, which gave birth to various acts of despotism, should be abolished. How often had the property of wards been ruined by those to whom the rights of the state were transferred. The debts which were chargeable against them were never paid71. The Lower House desired that not only the royal prerogatives, but also that the kindred rights of the great men of the kingdom over their vassals should cease, and especially that property held on feudal tenures should be made allodial.
It is evident what great interests were involved in this scheme, which was thoroughly monarchical, and at the same time was opposed to feudalism. Its execution would have put an end to the feudal tie which now had no more vitality, and appeared nothing more than a burden; but at the same time the crown would have been provided with a regular and sufficient income, and, what is more, would have been tolerably independent of the grants of Parliament, so soon as an orderly domestic system was introduced. We can understand that in bringing this matter to an issue a minister of monarchical views might see an appropriate conclusion to a life or rather two lives, his father's and his own, dedicated to the service of the sovereign. And it appeared that he might well hope to succeed, as a considerable alleviation was offered at the same time to the King's subjects as well.
The King reminded them that the feudal prerogative formed one of the fairest jewels of his crown, that it was an heirloom from his forefathers which he could not surrender; honour, conscience, and interest, equally forbade it. The Lower House replied that it would not dispute about honour and conscience, but as to interest, that might be arranged. They were ready by formal contract to indemnify the crown for the loss which it would suffer72.
The crown demanded £100,000 as a compensation for the loss it would suffer; and besides this, the £200,000 before mentioned which it required for restoring the balance between income and expenditure. We need not here reproduce the repulsive spectacle presented by the abatement of demands on the one side, and the increase of offers on the other. At last the Lord Treasurer adhered to the demand for £200,000 everything included. He declared that if this was refused the King would never again make a similar offer. On this at last the Parliament declared itself ready to grant the sum; but, even then, set up further conditions about which they could not come to an immediate agreement, so that their mutual claims were not yet definitively adjusted.
On the contrary these negotiations had by degrees assumed a tone of some irritation. Parliament found that the Earl of Salisbury had acted unconstitutionally in proposing to raise the scale of duties without its consent, and would not be content with his reference to the decision of the judges mentioned above, and to the conferences with the merchants. He endeavoured at a private interview with some of the leading members to bring round the opinion to his side: but the House was angry with those who had been present at it, and their good intentions were called in question73.
The speeches also, with which the King twice interrupted the proceedings, produced an undesirable effect. He was inclined to meet the general wishes, without surrendering however any part of his prerogatives. But at the same time he expressed himself about these in the exaggerated manner peculiar to him, which was exactly calculated to arouse contradiction74. Whilst he was comparing the royal power to the divine, he found that the House on one pretext or another refused even to open a letter which he had addressed to them about the speech of some member which had displeased him: on the contrary he was obliged to receive back into favour the very member who had affronted him. Parliament regarded liberty of speech as the Palladium of its efficiency; foreigners were astonished at the recklessness with which members expressed themselves about the government.
As a rule the investigation of relative rights has an unfavourable result for those who are in actual possession of authority. The prerogative which the King exalted so highly presented itself to the Parliament in an obnoxious aspect. In the debates on the contract the question was raised, how Sampson's hands could be bound, that is to say, how the King's prerogative could be so far restricted as to prevent him from breaking or overstepping the agreement.
During a dispute with the House of Lords the sentiment was uttered, that the members of the Lower House as representing the Commons ranked higher than the Lords, each of whom represented only himself75. It is easy to see how far this principle might lead.
Even his darling project of combining England and Scotland into a single kingdom could not be carried out by the King in the successive sessions of Parliament. One of the leading spirits of the age, Francis Bacon?, was on his side in this matter as in others. When it was objected that it was no advantage to the English to take the poverty-stricken Scots into partnership, as for example in commercial affairs, he returned answer, that merchants might reckon in this way, but no one who rose to great views: united with Scotland, England would become one of the greatest monarchies that the world had ever seen; but who did not perceive that a complete fusion of both elements was needed for this? Security against the recurrence of the old divisions could not be obtained until this was effected. Owing to the influence of Bacon, who at that time had become Solicitor-General, the question of the naturalisation of all those born in Scotland after James had ascended the English throne, was decided with but slight opposition, in a sense favourable to the union of the two kingdoms, by the Lord Chancellor? and the Judges. The decision however was not accepted by Parliament. And when the question was now raised how far the assent of Parliament was necessary in a case like this, the adverse declaration of the Lord Chancellor was exactly calculated to provoke a contest of principle in this matter also76. With the advice of the Lord Chancellor and the Council James had declared himself King of Great Britain, and had expressed the wish that the names of England and Scotland might be henceforth obliterated; but his Proclamation was not considered sufficient without the assent of Parliament; and in this case the judges took the side of the Parliament. The dynastic ideas with which James had commenced his reign could not but serve to resuscitate the claim of Parliament to the possession of the legislative power. At other times the precedents adduced by the Lord Chancellor in the debate on the 'post-nati' might have controlled their decision: at the present time they no longer made any impression. The opposition of political ideas came to the surface in this matter as in others. The King held the strongly monarchical view that the populations of both countries were united with one another by the mere fact of their being both subject to him. To this the Parliament opposed the doctrine that the two crowns were distinct sovereignties, and that the legislation of the two countries could not be united. They wished to fetter the King to the old legal position which they were far more anxious to contract than to expand.
The consequences must have been incalculable, if the Earl of Salisbury and the Lord Chancellor had succeeded in carrying out their intentions. A common government of the two countries would have held in all important questions a position independent of the two Parliaments, and the person of the sovereign would have been the ruling centre of this government. If besides an adequate income had been definitely assigned to the crown independent of the regularly recurring assent of Parliament, what would have become of the rights of that body? Not only would Elizabeth's mode of government have been continued, but the monarchical element which could appeal to various precedents in its own favour would probably have obtained a complete ascendancy.
But for that very reason these efforts were met by a most decided opposition. It is plain that these rival pretensions, and the motive from which they sprang, paved the way for controversies of the most extensive kind. The scheme of the contract was as little successful as that of the union of the two kingdoms. The parties were contented with merely removing the occasion for an immediate rupture; and after some short prorogations Parliament was finally dissolved.
The King, who felt himself aggrieved by its whole attitude as well as by many single expressions, was reluctant to call another. In order to meet his extraordinary necessities recourse was had to various old devices and to some new ones; for instance, the creation of a great number of baronets in 1612, on payment of considerable sums: but notwithstanding all this, in the year 1613 matters had gone so far, that neither the ambassadors to foreign courts, nor even the troops which were maintained could be paid. In the garrison of Brill a mutiny had arisen on this account; the strongholds on the coast and the fortifications on the adjacent islands went to ruin. For this as well as for other reasons the death of the Earl of Salisbury was a misfortune. The man on whom James I next bestowed his principal confidence, Robert Carr?, then Lord Rochester, later Earl of Somerset, was already condemned by the popular voice because he was a Scot, who moreover had no other merit than a pleasing person, which procured him the favour of the King. The authority enjoyed by the Howards had already provoked dissatisfaction. The Prince of Wales? had been their decided adversary, and this enmity was kept up by all his friends. Robert Carr, however, thought it advisable to win over to his side this powerful family to which he had at first found himself in opposition. Whether from personal ambition or from a temper that really mocked at all law and morality he married Frances Howard?, whose union with the Earl of Essex had to be dissolved for this object77. The old enemies of the Howards, the adherents of the house of Essex, many of whom had inherited this enmity, now became the opponents of the favourite and his government. When at last urgent financial necessities allowed no other alternative, and absolutely compelled the issue of a summons for a new parliament, the contending parties seized the opportunity of confronting one another. The creatures of the government neglected no means of controlling the elections by their influence; but they were everywhere encountered by the other party, who were favoured by the increasing dissatisfaction of the people.
At the opening of Parliament in April 1614, and on two occasions afterwards, the King addressed the Lower House. Among all the scholastic distinctions, complaints of the past, and assurances for the future, in which after his usual fashion he indulges, we can still perceive the fundamental idea, that if even the subsidies which he required and asked were granted him, he would notwithstanding agree to no conditions on his side, and take upon himself no distinct pledges. He was resolved no longer to play the game of making concessions in order to ask for something in return, as he had done some years before; he found that far beneath his dignity. Still less could he consent that all the grievances that might have arisen should be heaped up and presented to him, for that would be injurious to the honour of the government. Each one, he said, might lay before him the grievances which he experienced in his own town or in his own county; he would then attend to their redress one by one. In the same way he would deal with each House separately. If he is reproached with endeavouring to extend his prerogatives he denies the charge; but he affirms that he cannot allow them to be abridged, but that, in exercising them, he would behave as well as the best prince England ever had78. He has no conception of a relation based on mutual rights; he acknowledges only a relation of confidence and affection. In return for liberal concessions he promises liberal favour.
This was a view of things resting upon a patriarchal conception of kingly power, in favour of which analogies might no doubt have been found in the early state of the kingdoms of the West, but which was now becoming more and more obsolete. What had still been possible under Elizabeth, when the sovereign and her Parliament formed one party, was no longer so now; especially as a man who had attracted universal hatred stood at the head of affairs. Besides this a dispute was already going on which we cannot pass over in silence.
It arose upon the same matter which had caused such grave embarrassment to the Earl of Salisbury, the unlimited exercise of the right of levying tonnage and poundage entirely at the discretion of the government. It was affirmed that the Custom-House receipts had increased more than twentyfold since the commencement of James's reign, and that a great part of the increased returns was enjoyed by favoured private individuals. The Lower House demanded first of all an examination into the right of the government, and declared that without it they would not proceed to vote any grant79.
In the Lower House itself on one occasion a lively debate arose on the subject. The opinion was advanced on the part of the friends of the government that, in this respect as in others, a difference existed between hereditary and elective monarchies, that in the first class, which included England, the prerogative was far more extensive than in the latter. Henry Wotton, and Winwood?, who had been long employed on foreign embassies, explained what a great advantage in regard to their collective revenues other states derived from indirect taxes and customs. But by this statement they awakened redoubled opposition. They were told that the raising of these imposts in France had not been approved by the Estates and was in fact illegal; that the King of Spain had been forced to atone for the attempt to introduce them into the Netherlands by the loss of the greater part of the provinces. Thomas Wentworth? especially broke out into violent invectives against the neighbouring sovereigns, which even called forth remonstrances from the embassies. He warned the King of England that in his case also similar measures would lead to his complete ruin80. It was not only urged that England ought not to take example by any foreign country, but the very distinction drawn between elective and hereditary monarchies suggested a question whether England after all was so entirely a hereditary monarchy as was asserted. It was asked if it might not rather be said that James I , who was one of a number of claimants who had all equally good rights, owed his acession to a voluntary preference on the part of the nation, which might be regarded as a sort of election. These were ideas of unlimited range, and flatly contradicted those which James had formed on the rights of birth and inheritance. He felt himself outraged by their expression in the Lower House.
In order to give the force of a general resolution to their assertion, that in England the prerogative did not include the fixing of the amount of taxes and customs without the consent of Parliament, the Commons had made proposals for a conference with the Upper House. But hereupon the higher clergy declared themselves hostile, not only to their opinion, but even to the bare project of a conference. Neil?, Bishop of Lincoln, affirmed that the oath taken to the King in itself forbade them to participate in such a conference; that the matter affected not so much a branch of the royal prerogative as its very root; that the Lords moreover would have to listen to seditious speeches, the aim and intention of which could only be to bring about a division between the King and his subjects. The Lord Chancellor had asked the judges for their opinion; but they had declined to give any. The result was that the Upper House did not accede to the proposal of a conference.
The Commons were greatly irritated at the resistance which was offered to their first step. They too in conferences which related to other matters disdained to enter into the subjects brought before them. They complained loudly of the insulting expressions of the bishop which had been repeated to them. An exculpatory statement of the Upper House did not content them; they demanded full satisfaction as in an affair of honour, and until this had been furnished them they declared themselves determined to make no progress with any other matter.
The King however on his side now lost patience at this. He considered that an attack was made on the highest power when the general progress of business was hindered for the sake of a single question, and he appointed a day on which this affair of the subsidy must be disposed of. He said that, if it were not settled, he would dissolve Parliament.
One would not expect such a declaration to change the temper of the Lower House. Speeches were heard still more violent than those previously made. The Scots, to whose influence every untoward occurrence was imputed, were threatened with a repetition of the Sicilian Vespers. There were other members however who counselled moderation; for it almost appeared as if the dissolution of this Parliament might be the dissolution of all parliaments. Commissioners were once more sent to the King in order to give another turn to the negotiations. The King declared that he knew full well how far his rights extended, and that he could not allow his prerogatives to be called in question81.
These passionate ebullitions of feeling against the Scots, although they referred to matters of a more alarming, but happily of an entirely different nature, made the King anxious lest the destruction of his favourites, or even his own ruin, might be required to content his adversaries. On the 7th of June he dissolved Parliament. He thought himself entitled to bring up for punishment the loudest and most reckless speakers, as well as some other noted men from whom these speakers had received their impulse, for instance Cornwallis?, the former ambassador in Spain. He considered that they had intended to upset the government: not only had they failed, but they themselves must atone for the attempt82.
The estrangement was not too great to allow the hope of a reconciliation. It had been represented to the King that he ought not to be ready to regard financial concessions as a compliance unbecoming to the crown, for that in these matters he was at no disadvantage as compared with any person or any foreign power; that on the contrary the decision always proceeded from himself; that he was the head who cared for the welfare of the members. It was said that he need by no means fear that men would make use of his wants to lay fetters on him; that bonds laid by subjects on their sovereigns were merely cobwebs which he might tear asunder at any moment. Even Walter Ralegh had stated this83. But the King had no inclination, after the Parliament had repelled his overtures with rude opposition, to expose himself by summoning a new one to new attacks on his prerogatives as he understood them. By the voluntary or forced contributions of different corporations, especially of the clergy and of the great men of the kingdom, he was placed in a condition to carry on his government in the ordinary way. Every measure which would have necessitated a great outlay was avoided.
It is plain however into what a disagreeable position he was thus brought. His whole method of government was based upon the superiority of England. He had at that time brought the system of the Church in Scotland nearer to the English model. The bishops in that country had even received their consecration from the English. But he had not effected this without violent acts of usurpation. He had been obliged to remove his most active opponents out of the country; but even in their absence they kept up the excitement of men's feelings by their writings. The Presbyterians saw in everything which he succeeded in doing, the work of cunning on the one side and treachery on the other, and gave vent to the deepest displeasure at his deviation from their solemn Covenant with God.
Relying on the right of England, but for the first time inviting immigrants from Scotland, James undertook the systematic establishment of colonies in Ireland. The additional strength however which by this means accrued to the Protestant and Teutonic element entirely annihilated all leanings which had been shown in his favour at his accession to the crown, and aroused against him the strongest national and religious antipathies of the native population in that country.
He then met with this opposition in Parliament which hampered all his movements. It was foreign to his natural disposition to think of effecting a radical removal of the misunderstanding that had arisen. On the contrary he kept adding fresh fuel to it on account of the deficiencies of his government, which began to impair his former importance. The immediate consequence was that in foreign affairs he was no longer able to maintain the position which he had taken up as vigorously as might have been wished. His allies pressed him incessantly to bestow help on them: but if even he had wished it, this was no longer in his power. It was not that Parliament in withholding his supplies had disapproved of the object which they were intended to serve. On the contrary the Parliament lamented that this object was not pursued with sufficient earnestness; but it wished above all to extend its right of sanction over the whole domain of the public revenues. But the King was not inclined to treat with Parliament for the supplies of money required; he feared to incur the necessity of repaying its grants by concessions which would abridge the ancient rights of his crown. The centre of gravity of public affairs must lie somewhere or other. The question was already raised in England whether for the future it was to be in the Power of the King and his ministers, or in the authority of Parliament.
The times in which great political struggles are actually going on are not the most favourable for production in the fields of literature and art. These flourish best in the preceding or following ages, during which the impulse attending those movements begins or continues to be felt. Just such an epoch was the period of thirty or forty years between the defeat of the Armada and the outbreak of the Parliamentary troubles, a period comprising the later years of Queen Elizabeth and the earlier years of King James I. This was the epoch in which the English nation attained to a position of influence on the world at large, and in which at the same time those far-reaching differences about the most important questions of the inner life of the nation arose. The antagonism of ideas which stirred men's minds generally could not but reproduce itself in literature. But we also see other grand products of the age far transcending the limits of the present struggle. Our survey of the history will gain in completeness if we cast even but a transient glance, first at the former and then at the latter class of these products.
In Scotland the studies connected with classical antiquity were prosecuted with as much zeal as anywhere else in Europe; not however in order to imitate its forms in the native idiom, which no one at that time even in Germany thought of doing, but in order to use it in learned theological controversies, and to maintain connexion with brother Protestants of other tongues. S. Andrew's was at one time a centre for Protestant learning: Poles and Danes, Germans and French visited this university in order to study under Melville?. Even Latin verse was written with a certain elegance. A fit monument of these studies and their direction is to be found in Buchanan's? History of Scotland, a work without value for the earlier period, and full of party spirit in describing his own, as Buchanan is one of the most violent accusers of Mary Stuart, but pervaded by that warmth and decision which carry the reader along with it: at that time it was read all over the world. Buchanan and Melville were among the champions of popular ideas on the constitution of states and the relations between sovereign and people. It cannot be affirmed that classical studies were without influence upon their views, but the doctrine to which they adhered grew out of a different root. It rests historically upon the doctrine of the superiority of the Church, and the councils representing the Church, over the Papacy, as it was put forth in the fifteenth century at Paris. A Scottish student there, John Major?, made this doctrine his own, and after his return to his native country, when he himself had obtained a professorship, he applied it to temporal relations. The positions of the advocates of the councils affirmed that the Pope, it was true, received his authority from God, but that he might be again deprived of it in cases of urgent necessity by the Church, which virtually included the sum of all authority in itself. In the same way John Major taught that an original power transmitted from father to son pertained to kings, but that the fundamental authority resided in the people; so that a king mischievous to the commonwealth, who showed himself incorrigible, might be deposed again. His scholars, who took so large a part in the first disturbances in Scotland, and their scholars in turn, firmly maintained this doctrine. They differed from their contemporaries the Jesuits, who considered the monarchy to be an institution set up by the national will, in ascribing to it a divine right, but they urged that a king existed for the sake of the people, and that as he was bound by the laws agreed on by common consent, resistance to him was not only allowed, but under certain circumstances might even be a duty. We must also remark the opposite view, which was developed in contradiction to this, but yet rested on the same foundation. It was admitted that the king, if the people were considered as a whole, existed for their sake, and not the people for his; but the king, it was said, was at the same time the head of the people; he possessed superiority over all individuals: there was no one who could say in any case that the contract between king and people had been broken: no such general contract existed at all; there could be no question at all of resistance, much less of deposition, for how could the members rebel against the head? King James maintained that the legislative power belonged to the king by divine and human right, that he exercised it with the participation of his subjects, and always remained superior to the laws. His position rests on these views, in the development of which he himself had certainly a great share; he, like his opponents, had his political and ecclesiastical adherents. In the Scottish literature of the time both tendencies are embodied in important historical works; the latter principally in Spottiswood's Church History, which represents the royalist views and is not without merit in point of form, so that even at the present day it can be read with pleasure; the former in contemporary notices of passing events which were composed in the language and even in the dialect of the country, and which in many places are the foundation even of Buchanan's? history. They are the most direct expression of national and religious views, as they found vent in the assemblies of preachers and elders; in them we feel the life-breath of Presbyterianism. Calderwood? and the younger Melville?, who collected everything which came to hand, espoused the popular ideas; for information on facts and their causes they are invaluable, although in respect of form they do not rival Spottiswood, who, like them, employs the language of the country.
It might perhaps be said that it was in Scotland that the two systems arose which since that time, although in various shapes, have divided Britain and Europe. In the historians just mentioned we might see the types of two schools, whose opposite conceptions of universal and especially of English history, set forth by writers of brilliant ability, have exercised the greatest influence upon prevailing ideas.
In England these ideas certainly gained admission, but they did not make way at that time. When Richard Hooker expresses the popular ideas as to the primitive free development of society, this is done principally in order to point out the extensive authority of the legislative power even over the clergy, and to defend the ecclesiastical supremacy of the English crown, which had been established by the enactments of that very power. The question was mooted how far the sovereign was above the laws. Many wished to derive these prerogatives from the laws; others rejected them. Among those who maintained them unconditionally Walter Ralegh appears, in whose works we find a peculiar deduction of them in the statement that the sovereign, according to Justinian's? phrase, was the living law: he derives the royal authority from the Divine Will, which the will of man could only acknowledge. He says in one place that the sovereign stands in the same relation to the law, as a living man to a dead body.
What a remarkable work would it have been, had Walter Ralegh himself recorded the history of his time. But the opposition between parties was not so outspoken in England as in Scotland; it had not to justify itself by general principles, to which men could give their adhesion; it contained too much personal ill-feeling and hatred for any one who was involved in the strife to have been able to find satisfaction in expressing himself on this head. The history of the world which Walter Ralegh had leisure to write in his prison, is an endeavour to put together the materials of Universal History as they lay before him from ancient times, and so make them more intelligible. He touches on the events of his age only in allusions, which excited attention at the time, but remain obscure to posterity.
In direct opposition to the Scots, especially to Buchanan, Camden?, who wrote in Latin like the former, composed his Annals of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. His contemporary, De Thou?, borrowed much from Buchanan. Camden reproaches him with this, partly because in Scotland men preached atrocious principles with regard to the authority of the people and their right of keeping their kings in order. The elder Cecil had invited him to write the history of the Queen, and had communicated to him numerous documents for this purpose, which were either in his own possession or belonged to the national archives. Camden set cautiously to work, and went slowly on. He has himself depicted the trouble it cost him to decipher the historical contents of these scattered and dusty papers. He has certainly not surmounted all the difficulties which stand in the way of composing a contemporary history. Here and there we find even in his pages a regard paid to the living, especially to King James himself, which we would rather see away. But such passages are rare. Camden's Annals take a high rank among histories of contemporary transactions. They are of such authenticity in regard to facts, and show so intimate an acquaintance with causes gathered from trustworthy information, that we can follow the author, even where we do not possess the documents to which he refers. His judgments are moderate and at the same time in all important questions they are decided.
When we read Camden's letters we become acquainted with a circle of scholars engaged in the severest studies. In his Britannia, which gives a more complete and instructive picture of the country than any other work, they all took a lively interest. Their works are clumsy and old-fashioned, but they breathe a spirit of thoroughness and breadth which does honour to the age. With what zeal were ecclesiastical antiquities studied in Cambridge, after Whitaker had pointed the way! Men sought to weed out what was spurious, and in what was genuine to set aside the part due to the accidental forms of the time, and to penetrate to the bottom of the sentiments, the belief, and activity of the writers. The constitution of the Church naturally led them to devote special study to the old provincial councils. For the history of the country they referred to the monuments of Anglo-Saxon times, and began even in treating of other subjects to bring the original sources to light. Everywhere men advanced beyond the old limits which had been drawn by the tradition of chroniclers and the lack of historical investigation hitherto shown.
Francis Bacon was attracted by the task of depicting at length a modern epoch, the history of the Tudors, with the various changes which it presented and the great results it had introduced, in which he saw the unity of a connected series of events. Yet he has only treated the history of the first of that line. He furnished one of the first examples of exact investigation of details combined with reflective treatment of history, and has exercised a controlling influence on the manner and style of writing English history, especially by the introduction of considerations of law, which play a great part in his work. The political points of view which are present to the author are almost more those of the beginning of the seventeenth than those of the beginning of the sixteenth century. But these epochs are closely connected with each other. For what Henry VII established is just what James I, who loved to connect himself immediately with the former monarch, wished to continue. Bacon was a staunch defender of the prerogative.
The dispute which arose between Bacon as a lawyer and Edward Coke? deserves notice.
Coke also has a place in literature. His reports are, even at the present day, known without his name simply as 'The Reports,' and his 'Institutes' is one of the most learned works which this age produced. It is rather a collection provided with notes, but is instructive and suggestive from the variety of and the contrast of its contents. Coke traced the English laws to the remotest antiquity; he considered them as the common production of the wisest men of earlier ages, and at the same time as the great inheritance of the English people, and its best protection against every kind of tyranny, spiritual or temporal. Even the old Norman French, in which they were to a great extent composed, he would not part with, for a peculiar meaning attached itself, in his view, to every word.
On the other hand Bacon as Attorney-General formed the plan of comprising the common law in a code, by which a limit should be set to the caprice of the judges, and the private citizen be better assured of his rights. He thought of revising the Statute-Book, and wished to erase everything useless, to remove difficulties, and to bring what was contradictory into harmony.
Bacon's purpose coincided with the idea of a general system of legislation entertained by the King: he would have preferred the Roman law to the statute law of England. Coke was a man devoted to the letter of the law, and was inclined to offer that resistance to the sovereign which was implied in a strict adherence to the law as it was. In the conflict that arose the judges, influenced by his example, appealed to the laws as they were laid down, according to the verbal meaning of which they thought themselves bound to decide. Bacon maintained that the Judges' oath was meant to include obedience to the King also, to whom application must be made in every matter affecting his prerogative. This is probably what Queen Elizabeth also thought, and it was the decided opinion of King James. He made the man who cherished similar views his Lord Chancellor, and dismissed Coke from his service. Bacon when in office was responsible for a catastrophe which, as we shall see, not only ruined himself, but reacted upon the monarchy. The English, contemporaries and posterity alike, have taken the side of Coke. Yet Bacon's industry in business is not therefore altogether to be despised. He urged the King, who was disposed to judge hastily, to take time and to weigh the reasons of both parties. He gave the judges who went on circuit through the country the most pertinent advice. The directions which he drew up for the Court of Chancery have laid the foundations of the practice of that court, and are still an authority for it. His scheme of collecting and reforming the English laws still, even at the present day, appears to statesmen learned in the law to be an unavoidable necessity; and the opinion is spreading that steps must be taken in this matter in the direction already pointed out by Bacon.
Bacon was one of the last men who identified the welfare of England with the development of the monarchical element in the constitution, or at all events with the preponderance of the authority of the sovereign within constitutional limits. The union of the three kingdoms under the ruling authority of the King appeared to him to contain the foundation of the future greatness of Britain. With the assertion of the authority of the sovereign he connected the hope of a reform of the laws of England, of the establishment of a comprehensive system of colonisation in Ireland, and of the assimilation of the ecclesiastical and judicial constitution of Scotland to English customs. He loved the monarchy because he expected great things from it.
But it cannot be denied that he brought his ideas into a connexion with his interests, which was fatal to the acceptance of the former. His is just a case in which we feel relieved when we turn from the disputes of the day to the free domain of scientific activity, in which his true life was spent. He has indeed said himself that he was better fitted to hold a book in his hands than to shine upon the stage of the world. In his studies he had only science itself and the whole of the world before his eyes.
The scholastic system founded on Aristotle, the inheritance of centuries of ecclesiastical supremacy, had been assailed some time before he took up the subject; and the inductive method which he opposed to that system was not anything quite new. But the idea of Bacon had the most comprehensive tendency: it tended to free the thoughts and enquiries of men of science from the assumptions of a speculative theology which regulated their spiritual horizon. The most renowned adversaries of scholasticism he had to encounter in turn, because they covered things with a new web of words and theories which he could not accept. He thought to free men from the deceptive notions by which their minds are prepossessed, from the fascination of words which throw a veil over things, and of tradition consecrated by great names, and to open to them the sphere of the certain knowledge of experience. Nature is in his eyes God's book, which man must study directly for His glory and for the relief of man's estate; he thought that men must start from sense and experience, in order that by intercourse with things they might discover the cause of phenomena. He would have preferred for his own part to have been the architect of an universal science, an outline of which he had already composed; but he possessed the self-restraint to hold back from this in the first instance, to work at details, and to make experiments, or, as he once says, to contribute the bricks and stones which might serve for the great work in the future. He only wanted more complete devotion and more adequate knowledge for his task. His method is imperfect, his results are untrustworthy in points of detail; but his object is grand. He designates the insight for which he labours by the Heraclitean? name of dry light, that is, a light which is obscured by no partiality and no subordinate aim. He would place the man who possesses it as it were upon the mountain top, at the foot of which errors chase one another like clouds. And in his eyes the satisfaction of the mind is not the only interest at stake, but such discoveries as rouse the activity of men and promote their welfare. Nature is at the same time the great storehouse of God: the dominion over nature which men originally possessed must be restored to them.
In these speculations the philosopher became aware that there was a risk lest men should imagine that by this means they could also discover the nature of God. Bacon lays down a complete separation of these two provinces; for he thinks that men can only attain to second causes, not to the first cause, which is God; and that the human mind can only cope with natural things; that divine things on the contrary confuse it. He will not even investigate the nature of the human soul, for it does not owe its origin to the productive powers of nature, but to the breath of God.
It had been from the beginning the tendency of those schools of philosophy erected on the basis of ancient systems, in which Latin and Teutonic elements were blended, to transfuse faith with scientific knowledge; but Bacon renounces this attempt from the beginning. He puts forward with almost repulsive abruptness the paradoxes which the Christian must believe: he declares it an Icarian flight to wish to penetrate these secrets: but so much stronger is the impulse he seeks to give the human mind in the direction of enquiry into natural objects84.
Among these he ranks the state of human society, to all his life long he devoted a careful and searching observation. His Essays are not at all sceptical, like the French essays, from which he may have borrowed this: they are thoroughly dogmatic. They consist of remarks on the relations of life as they then presented themselves, especially upon the points of contact between private and public life, and of counsels drawn from the perception of the conflicting qualities of things. They are extremely instructive for the internal relations of English society. They show wide observation and calm wisdom, and, like his philosophical works, are a treasure for the English nation, whose views of life have been built upon them.
What better legacy can one generation leave to another than the sum of its experiences which have an importance extending beyond the fleeting moment, when they are couched in a form which makes them useful for all time? Herein consists the earthly immortality of the soul. But another possession of still richer contents and of incomparable value was secured to the English nation by the development of the drama, which falls just within this epoch.
In former times there had been theatrical representations in the palaces of the kings and of great men, in the universities, and among judicial and civic societies. They formed part of the enjoyments of the Carnival or contributed to the brilliancy of other festivities; but they did not come into full existence until Elizabeth allowed them to the people by a general permission. In earlier times the scholars of the higher schools or the members of learned fraternities, the artisans in the towns, and the members of the household of great men and princes, had themselves conducted the representation. Actors by profession now arose, who received pay and performed the whole year round85. A number of small theatres grew up which, as they charged but low entrance fees, attracted the crowd, and while they influenced it, were influenced by it in turn. The government could not object to the theatre, as the principal opposition which it had to fear, that of the Puritans, shut itself out from exercising any influence over the drama, owing to the aversion of their party to it. The theatres vied with one another: each sought to bring out something new, and then to keep it to itself. The authors, among whom men of distinguished talent were found, were not unfrequently players as well. All materials from fable and from history, from the whole range of literature, which had been widely extended by native productions and by appropriation from foreign sources, were seized, and by constant elaboration adapted for an appreciative public.
While the town theatres and their productions were thus struggling to rise in mutual rivalry, the genius of William Shakspeare developed itself: at that time he was lost among the crowd of rivals, but his fame has increased from age to age among posterity.
It especially concerns us to notice that he brought on the stage a number of events taken from English history itself. In the praise which has been lavishly bestowed on him, of having rendered them with historical truth, we cannot entirely agree. For who could affirm that his King John and Henry VIII, his Gloucester and Winchester, or even his Maid of Orleans, resemble the originals whose names they bear? The author forms his own conception of the great questions at issue. While he follows the chronicle as closely as possible, and adopts its characteristic traits, he yet assigns to each of the personages a part corresponding to the peculiar view he adopts: he gives life to the action by introducing motives which the historian cannot find or accept: characters which stand close together in tradition, as they probably did in fact, are set apart in his pages, each of them in a separately developed homogeneous existence of its own: natural human motives, which elsewhere appear only in private life, break the continuity of the political action, and thus obtain a twofold dramatic influence. But if deviations from fact are found in individual points, yet the choice of events to be brought upon the stage shows a deep sense of what is historically great. These are almost always situations and entanglements of the most important character: the interference of the spiritual power in an intestine political quarrel in King John: the sudden fall of a firmly seated monarchy as soon as ever it departs from the strict path of right in Richard III: the opposition which a usurping prince, Henry IV, meets with at the hands of the great vassals who have placed him on the throne, and which brings him by incessant anxiety and mental labour to a premature grave: the happy issue of a successful foreign enterprise, the course of which we follow from the determination to prepare for it, to the risk of battle and to final victory; and then again in Henry V and Henry VI, the unhappy position into which a prince not formed by nature to be a ruler falls between violent contending parties, until he envies the homely swain who tends his flocks and lets the years run by in peace: lastly the path of horrible crime which a king's son not destined for the throne has to tread in order to ascend it: all these are great elements in the history of states, and are not only important for England, but are symbolic for all people and their sovereigns. The poet touches on parliamentary or religions questions extremely seldom; and it may be observed that in King John the great movements which led to Magna Charta are as good as left out of sight; on the contrary he lives and moves among the personal contrasts offered by the feudal system, and its mutual rights and duties. Bolingbroke's feeling that though his cousin is King of England yet he is Duke of Lancaster reveals the conception of these rights in the middle ages. The speech which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of the Bishop of Carlisle is applicable to all times. The crown that secures the highest independence appears to the poet the most desirable of all Possessions, but the honoured gold consumes him who wears it by the restless care which it brings with it.
Shakspeare depicts the popular storms which are wont to accompany a free constitution in the plots of some of his Roman dramas: of these Plutarch instead of Holinshed furnishes the basis. He is right in taking them from a foreign country: for events nearer to his audience would have roused an interest of a different kind, and yet would not have had so universal a meaning. What could be more dramatic, for example, and at the same time more widely applicable than the contrast between the two speeches, by the first of which Caesar's murder is justified, while by the second the memory of his services is revived? The conception of freedom which the first brings to life is set in opposition to the thought of the virtues and services of the possessor of absolute power, and thrust by them into the background; but these same feelings are the deepest and most active in all ages and among all nations.
But the attested traditions of ancient and modern times do not satisfy the poet in his wish to lay bare the depths of human existence. He takes us into the cloudy regions of British and Northern antiquity only known to fable, in which other contrasts between persons and in public affairs make their appearance. A king comes on the stage who in the plenitude of enjoyment and power is brought by overhasty confidence in his nearest kin to the extremest wretchedness into which men can fall. We see the heir to a throne who, dispossessed of his rights by his own mother and his father's murderer, is directed by mysterious influences to take revenge. We have before us a great nobleman, who by atrocious murders has gained possession of the throne, and is slain in fighting for it: the poet brings us into immediate proximity with the crime, its execution, and its recoil: it seems like an inspiration of hell and of its deceitful prophecies: we wander on the confines of the visible world and of that other world which lies on the other side, but extends over into this, where it forms the border-land between conscious sense and unconscious madness: the abysses of the human breast are opened to view, in which men are chained down and brought to destruction by powers of nature that dwell there unknown to them: all questions about existence and non-existence; about heaven, hell, and earth; about freedom and necessity, are raised in these struggles for the crown. Even the tenderest feelings that rivet human souls to one another he loves to display upon a background of political life. Then we follow him from the cloudy North into sunny Italy. Shakspeare is one of the intellectual powers of nature; he takes away the veil by which the inward springs of action are hidden from the vulgar eye. The extension of the range of human vision over the mysterious being of things which his works offer constitutes them a great historical fact.
We do not here enter upon a discussion of Shakspeare's art and characteristics, of their merits and defects: they were no doubt of a piece with the needs, habits, and mode of thought of his audience; for in what case could there be a stronger reciprocal action between an author and his public, than in that of a young stage depending upon voluntary support? The very absence of conventional rule made it easier to put on the stage a drama by which all that is grandest and mightiest is brought before the eyes as if actually present in that medley of great and small things which is characteristic of human life. Genius is an independent gift of God: whether it is allowed to expand or not depends on the receptivity and taste of its contemporaries.
It is certainly no unimportant circumstance that Shakspeare brought out King Lear soon after the accession of James I, who, like his predecessor, loved the theatre; and that Francis Bacon dedicated to the King his work on the Advancement of Learning in the same year 1605.
Of these two great minds the first bodied forth in imperishable forms the tradition, the poetry, and the view of the world that belonged to the past: the second banished from the domain of science the analogies which they offered, and made a new path for the activity displayed by succeeding centuries in the conquest of nature, and for a new view of the world.
Many others laboured side by side with them. The investigation of nature had already entered on the path indicated by Bacon, and was welcomed with lively interest, especially among the upper classes. Together with Shakspeare the less distinguished poets of the time have always been remembered. In many other departments works of solid value were written which laid a foundation for subsequent studies. Their characteristic feature is the union of the knowledge of particulars, which are grasped in their individuality, with a scientific effort directed towards the universal.
These were the days of calm between the storms; halcyon days, as they have well been named, in which genius had sufficient freedom in determining its own direction to devote itself with all its strength to great creations.
As the German spirit at the epoch of the Reformation, so the English spirit at the beginning of the seventeenth century, took its place among the rival nationalities which stood apart from one another on the domain of Western Christendom, and on whose exertions the advance of the human race depends.
1 McCrie, Life of Andrew Melville, ch iii.
2 In a memoir in the Barberini Library, 'De praesenti Scotine statu in iis quae ad religionem spectant brevissima nariatio,' it is said, 'supra hominum opinionem auctus est Catholicorum numerus.'
3 Abstract of Randolph's instructions, from his own pen (Strype, Annals iii. i. 442): 'Nothing shall be done prejudicial to the King's title, but the same to pass by private assurance from Her Majesty to the King.'
4 Tractatus foederus et arctioris amicitiae, Rymer vi. 4. Randolph says, 'Three were the causes (of the alliance), viz. the noblemen, the money, and the assurance.' Strype iii. i 568.
5 Courcelles, in Tytler vii. 333.
6 Slangen, Geschichte Christians iv. i. 117. Chytrius, Saxonia 864, 870. Cp. Melvil, Memoires, 175.
7 Thirlstane to Burleigh, Aug. 13, 1590. In Tytler ix. 49.
8 Lord Burleigh's speech in the House of Lords, Strype, Annals iv. 192. According to the 'Narration de rebus Scoticis,' the Scottish magnates were the first movers.
9 James to Elizabeth. 'The sayde rebellis hadd so travelled by indirect means with everie nobleman, as quhen I feld thaier myndis—they plainlie—refusid to yeild to any forfaiture.' 19 Sept. 1593. In Bruce, Letters of Queen Elizabeth and King James VI of Scotland, 87.
10 Calderwood, v. 440. 'As to the wisdom of your counsell, which I call devilish and pernicious, it is this: that yee must be served with all sorts of men to come to your purpose and grandour Jew and Gentile, Papist and Protestant. And becaus the ministers and protestants in Scotland are over strong and controll the king they must be weakenned and brought low.'
11 The tumult in Edinburgh, in Calderwood v. 511.
12 In James Melville's Diary (p. 383) an act is mentioned with the date of January 1597, 'discharging the ministers stipends that wuld not subscryve a Bond acknawlaging the king to be only judge in matters of treassone or uther civill and criminall causses committed be preatching, prayer or what way so ever—Thair was keipit a frequent convention of esteates wharin war maid manie strange and seveire actes.'
13 So Crichton informs the Venetian secretary, Scaramelli, July 10, 1603.
14 With regard to the offers brought by Ogilvy to Spain this has been undeniably proved on the evidence of another Jesuit. Winwood I.
15 He expressed to her an 'humble desire that I would banish from mynde any evill opinion or doubt of your sincerity to me.' (Dec. 2, 1601, in Bruce.)
16 'Breve relazione di quanto si è trattato tra S. Sta ed il re d'Inghilterra' MS. Rom. From no other quarter whatever is any direct proof adduced of a a promise of toleration properly so called.
17 The abbot of Kinross told the Venetian secretary, 'che il re si trova obligatissimo col pontefice, chiamandolo veramente Clemente, perche per istanze che sono state più volte fatte a S. Bene da principi, non ha voluto mai dishonorarlo con divenire ad escommunicatione di sua persona, e che perciò S. M. desirera di corresponderle, aggiungendo che i catolici mentre staranno quieti et honestamente occulti non saranno cercati nè perseguitati' (Scaramelli, 8 Maggio, 1603.)
18 Scaramelli, from the lips of one of the King's agents, March 27.
19 Scaramelli (April 12) alludes to a declaration from the King, 'Per la conservatione della religione in che vive essa citta e regno. Questo aviso,' he proceeds, 'ha reso sicuri gli heretici.' In Halliwell, Letters of the Kings of England ii. 97, there is a letter from the King to the same effect addressed to his agent Hambleton, the contents of which were probably divulged at the moment.
20 Scaramelli, April 17, 'Dicendosi che lasciando i nomi di uno e l'altro regno habbia qualche intentione di chiamarsi re della Gian Bretagna per abbracciar con un solo nome ad imitatione di quel antico e famoso re Arturo tutto quello che gira il spatio di 1700 miglia unito.'
21 Économies royales v. 23.
22 Molino, Guigno 9, 1604: 'Se ben è vero, ch'erano suddite del re di Spagna, è anco verissimo, che quel popoli si erano soggettati alla casa di Borgogna—con quelle conditioni e capitoll, che si sa: i quali se fossero stati osservati dalli ministri di Spagna, senza dubio quei popoli non se sariano ribellati. Da queste parole restarono li Spagnola offesi.'
23 Cecil to Winwood, June 13. 'That he is tied by former contracts of his predecessors, which he must observe.'
24 From the reports of the French ambassador, in Siri, Memorie recondite i 289.
25 Letter from the South (Winchester) to Berwick, in Calderwood vi. 235. 'I would the scotish presbytereis would be petitioners that our bishops might be like theirs in autoritie though they keep their livings. The King is resolved to have a preaching ministry.'
26 The High Commission was compared with the Inquisition: 'men are urged to Subscribe more than law requireth and by the oath ex officio forced to accuse themselves.' The archbishop answered that this was a mistake: 'if the article touch the party for life, liberty, or scandall, he may refuse to answer.' State Trials 86. The account in Wilkins iv. 374 is more unsatisfactory than the character of the book would lead us to expect.
27 Art. 36: 'Neminem nisi praevia trium articulorum subscriptione ordinandum.'
28 Duodo relates (Dec. 6, 1603) that the King said to him: 'Che dubita, che li suoi capitani di mare suano alquanti interessati che anzi, e mostrò di dirlo in gran confidenza era stato necessitato asseguar non so che provisione del suo proprio denaro all' Amiraglio; perche si doleva di non poterse sostentare per esserli mancato alcan utile di questa natura.'
29 'The choice to be made freely and indifferentlye without respect of any commaunde sute prayer or other meanes to the contrary.' From a memorandum of the Lord Chancellor Egerton, Egerton Papers 385. Molino, May 12, 1604: 'Stimò il re che il concedere la liberta alle provincie di poter far elettione degli huomini per mandar al parlamento conforme agli antichi privilegi del regno et il non haver voluto osservare li molti tratti delli precessori suoi che non avrebbero permesso che la elettione cadesse in altre persone che in suoi confidenti e dipendenti, dovesse disponer gli animi di oga' uno a sodisfarlo e compiacerlo.'
30 Molino: 'Havendo voluto troncar l' occasione di qualche maggior scandalo; perche di gia li sangui si andavano riscaldando molto.'
31 Molino (Dispaccio 19 Maggio) states this reason.
32 Molino: Parlando molto liberamente della liberta e della autorita del Parlamento in vista pero sempre degli antichi privilegi, quali erano andati in desuetudine e se saranno reassonti—senza dubio sera un detrlrnento dell' autorita potesta regia.' (12 Maggio.)
33 Molino: 'Dubitando che quando li capi di questa setta facessero qualche moto al parlamento, dove ne sono tanti di questa professione, potesse nascer qualche inconveniente.' (20 Oct. 1604.)
34 Molino: 'Queste cose vanno spargendo quelli che han poco volunta di sodisfar alli desideri di S. M. che per se ne sta molto dubiosa.' (3 Nov. 1605.)
35 Letter to the King. Works viii 647; cf i 671.
36 Discursus status religionis, 1605: Ipsi magnates non verentur se profiteri catholicos et plerique alii ex nobilitate, praecipue in principatu Walliae et in provincis Septentrionalibus,—ubi numerus eorum non ita pridem crevit in immensum.
37 'S. Sta vole e comanda, che li Catolici siano obeclienti a1 re d'Inghilterra, come a loro signore e re naturale. Vra Sria attenda con ogni diligenza e vigilanza a questi negotii d'Inghilterra procurando che conforme alla volonta di N. Sra obedischino al suo re e non s' intrighino in congiure tumulti ed altre cose, per le quali possino dispiacere a quella Ma.'
38 The Venetian Ambassador in his reports mentions 'doglienze e querelle accompagnate di lacrime di sangue.' The Roman reports are to the same effect. De Vero Statu Angliae. La vera relatione della stato. Agosto 1605. The persecution of the Catholics had begun on July 26.
39 Camden in writing to Cotton names Barnham, Catesby, Tiesham, and the two Wrights. He calls them 'gentlemen hunger-starved for innovation.' Camdeni Epistolae 347.
40 Garnet says, in his conference with Hall, which was overheard, that he was accused of giving 'some advice in Queen Elizabeth's time of the blowing up of the parliament house with gunpowder; I told them it was lawful.' Jardine, Gun-Powder Plot 202.
41 From his examination. Jardine 206.
42 Lingard ix. 52. From Greenway's memoranda.
43 From a letter of Parry to Sir T. Edmondes, Paris, October 10, 1605; in Birch's Negotiations 234.
44 Molino just at the time reports this, as the King also relates it in his 'Conjuratio sulphurea'. Cf. Barclay, Series patefacti parricidii 569.
45 'Juro quod ex coide abhorreo detestor et abjuro tanquam impiam et haereticam hanc damnabilem doctrinam et propositionem quod principes per papam excommunicati el deprivati possint per suos subditos vel alios quoscunque deponi aut occidi.' The form originally drawn up had asserted that the Pope generally had no right to excommunicate kings. But King James, in his fondness for weighing every side of the question, did not wish to go so far as this.
46 June 1606. Winwood, Memorials ii 224 Cornwallis to Salisbury: 'Such an apprehension of despair here they have of late received to make any conjunction or further amitie with us, by reason of the extreame lawes and bitter persecution, as they terme it, against those of their religion both in England and especially in Ireland.' June 20, 229. 'They repair to the Jesuits, priests, fryars, and fugitives; the first three joyne with the last children of lost hope, who having given a farewell to all laws of nature, dispose themselves to become the executioneris of the—inventions of the others.'
47 Apologia pro juramento fidelitatis, opposita duobus brevibus . . . et literis Bellarmini ad Blackwellum Archpresbyterum. Opera Jacobi Regis, p. 237. Lond. 1619.
48 Contarini, Relatione 1610: 'Pareva che nelli moti passati col papa havesse la republica aggradito piu l'offerte dei Inglesi che gli offizii et interpositioni di Franza e da quelle pia che da questi riconosciuto l'accommodamento: il che per tutta la Fianza si è potuto comprendere.'
49 The Lords of the Privy Council to Sir Richard Spencer and Sir Ralph Winwood. Aug. 1, 1608. In Winwood ii. 429.
50 This is affirmed by Bentivoglio, who as Nuncio at Brussels was closely acquainted with these transactions. Historia della guerra di Flanders iii 490.
51 Winwood to Salisbury, October 7, 1609. Memorials iii 78.
52 Molino. E huomo estuto sagace e persecutore acertiimo de' suoi nemici . . . ne a avuto multi e tutti egli n fatto precipitare.'
53 Ibid.: 'L' autorita del quale è cosi assoluta, che con verita si puo dire essere egli il ie e governatore di quella monarchia.'
54 Alligantia inter regem et electores Germaniae, in Rymer vii ii. 178
55 Francesco Contarini visited him in September 1610 in the country, and joined him in the chase, on which occasion James touched on various topics in conversation. 'De' penseri di Spagnoli con poca loro laude . . . non mostro far alcun conto del Ducci di Sassonia suo cognato ni della investitura data li dall' imperatore nel ducato di Cleves.'
56 Beaulieu to Trumbull, Paris, June 29, 1612: 'Both from this state (France) and the state of England it hath been plainly enough intimated unto them (the Spaniards) that if they would go about to make the Archduke Albert Emperor or king of the Romans, both these states with their allies would set the rest to hinder it.'
57 Green, Princesses of England v, 180; De la Boderie ii. 248.
58 This is the report of A. Foscarini. Jan. 20, 1612.
59 Winwood to Trumbull, Memorials iii. 357.
60 Correro 1609, May 20: 'Non solo riesce esquisitamente in tutti gli esercitii del corpo, ma si dimostra nelle attioni sue molto giudicioso e prudente.'—Ant. Foscarini 1612: 'Amplissimi i suoi concetti; di natura grave severa ritenuta di pochissime parole.'
61 W. Ralegh: On a marriage between Prince Henry and a daughter of Savoy. Works viii. 237.
62 Given in French by Levassor, Histoire de Louis XIII, i. 2, 347. So far as I know, the original has not yet been brought to light, although its genuineness cannot be doubted, as Levassor was acquainted with Robert Carr's letter to the Prince, which was first printed by Ellis ii. iii. 229.
63 Foscarini, to whom we are indebted for information on many of these points: 'teneva mal animo contra Spagna e pretension in Francia.'
64 It was affirmed that Henry Howard (Earl of Northampton) had been heard to say that 'the prince if ever he came to reign would prove a tyrant.' Bacon: Somerset's Business and Change. Works vi. 100.
65 Trumbull to Winwood, March 2 , 1613. 'These men are enraged, fearing that we do aim at the wresting of the empire out of the Austrians hand which they say shall never be effected so long as the conjoyned forces of all the Catholiques in Christendom shall be able to maintain them in that right.' Winwood, Mem iii 439.
66 Dispaccio di Antonio Foscarini, 5 Luglio 1612: 'Si aplica il re assai il pensiero a metter in pace li due re di Suecia e Danimarca et hieri fu qui di ritorno uno de' gentilhuomi inviati per tal fine:—poi si camineva immediatamente a stringer unione con tutti di principi di religione riformata.'
67 A letter of Germigny in Charrière, Negotiations de la France dans le Levant iii 885 n., mentions the representations of the first agent. 'Cet Anglais avait remontré l'importance de l'agrandissement du roy d'Espagne mesmes ou il s'impatroniroit de Portugal et des terres despendantes du dit royaume voisines à ce Seigneur au Levant.'
68 A. Foscarini 1612, 9 Ag.: Preme grandemente a Spagnoli veder sempre piu stabilirsi la colonia in Virginia non perche stimino quel paese nel quale non è abondanza nè minera d'oro—ma perche fermandovisi Inglesi con li vascelli loro, correndo quel mare impedirebbono la flotte.' 1613 Marzo 8: 'Le navi destinate per Virginia al numero di tre sono passate a quella volta e se ne allestiranno anco altre degli interessati in quella popolatione.'
69 ' Letter to the Lords, anno 1607: in Strype, Annals iv. 560.
70 Antonio Correro, 25 Giugno 1608: 'Con l'autorita ch' egli tiene con li mercanti di questa piazza li ha indutti a sottoporsi ad una nova gravezza posta sopra le merci che vengono e vanno da questo regno.'
71 Molino 'La gabella del pupilli porge materia grande a sudditi di dolorsene e d' esclarnare sino al celo studiando ogn' uno di liberaisi da simili bene—Se uno aveva due cimpi di questa ragione e cento d' altra natura, i due hanno questa forza, di sottomettere i cento alla medesima gravezza.'
72 Beaulieu to Trumbull. Winwood, Memorials iii 123.
73 Carleton to Edmonds: Court and Times of James I, i 12, 123.
74 Chamberlain to Winwood Mem. III. 175. 'Yf the practise should follow the positions, we should not leave to our successor that freedome we received from our forefathers.'
75 ' Tommaso Contarini, 23 Giugno 1610. 'Che le loro persone, come representanti le communita, siano di maggior qualita che li signori titolati quali representano le loro sole persone, il che diede grandissimo fastidio al re.'
76 Campbell, Lives of the Lord Chancellors ii 225.
77 Lorking, writing to Puckering (The Court and Times of James the First i. 254), remarks as early as July 1613 on the first mention of the marriage, 'that its design was to reconcile him (Lord Rochester) and the house of Howard together, who are now far enough asunder.'
78 The King's second speech. Parliamentary History v. 285.
79 A. Foscarini 1614, 20 Giugno. 'Il re ha sempre avuto seco (on his side) la superiore e parte dell' inferiore: il rimanente ha mostrato di voler contribuir ogni quantita di sussidio ma a conditione che si vedesse prima qual fosse l'autorita del re, sull' impor gravezze!
80 Chamberlain to Carleton, May 28. Court and Times of James I, 1. 312.
81 According to a report furnished by A. Foscarini. 'Elessero 40 d' essi a quali diede Lunedi audienza S M.—dissero che la supplicavano per tanto lasciar per ultlma da insolvere la materia di danari.' Unfortunately we have only very scanty information about this Parliament.
82 Extract from a letter of Winwood to Carleton, June 16 Green, Calendar of State Papers, James I, vol. ii. 237.
83 The Prerogative of Parliaments. Works v. ii 154.
84 In a letter to Casaubon he says 'vitam et res humanas et medias earum turbas per contemplationes sanas et velas instructiones esse volo.' (Works vi. 51).
85 Sam. Cox In Nicolas' Memoirs of Hatton, App xxx