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Parliament of 1606-Statutes against Papists-Game Laws-Manners of the Court-Lavishness of James upon his favourites-Feudal aid-Impositions upon merchandise-First Settlement in Virginia-Progress of the Colony-Settlement of the Pilgrim Fathers in Massachusets Charter of the East India Company-First factory at Surat-The Mogul rulers of Hindostan--Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe-Dissolution of the Parliament. Murder of Henry IV. of France-Authorised translation of the Bible-Ireland-Plantation of Ulster-Creation of Baronets-The New River-Increase of London.
THE parliament which was to have met on the 5th of November, 1605, was necessarily prorogued to a later period. It assembled on the 21st of January, 1606. It was scarcely to be expected that the discovery of a conspiracy so atrocious as that of the Gunpowder project should have induced a parliament, becoming more and more puritan, to deal with the papists in a spirit of toleration. To the previous severities of the penal code were added various penalties which touched convicted recusants in their domestic and private relations. All Roman Catholics who had been convicted of recusancy, and all who had not received the sacrament twice in twelve months in a Protestant church, were also required to take an oath of allegiance. In this oath, the pretended power of the pope to absolve subjects from their obedience was to be expressly renounced; and the Roman Catholic was further to swear that he, from his heart, abhorred, detested, and abjured, as impious and heretical, "the damnable doctrine and position that princes excommunicated or deprived by the pope may be deposed or murdered by their subjects." Looking at the history of the country from the time of the Reformation, it can scarcely be maintained that such an oath was unreasonable. The secular priests in England recommended their brethren so to declare their allegiance. The papal court issued a breve to forbid such a renunciation of the deposing power.
PARLIAMENT-STATUTES AGAINST PAPISTS.
Cardinal Bellarmine wrote a book to prove the unlawfulness of the oath. King James, never more happy than when engaged in a theological controversy, published An Apologie for the Oath of Allegiance; "by which," Mr. Hallain, ❝he incurred the contempt of foreign courts and of all judicious men." In spite of the threatenings of the pope and the sophistries of the cardinal, many of the Catholic clergy, and all the Catholic peers with one exception, accepted this test of their obedience to the civil government.
In this Session, an Act was passed "against unlawful hunting and stealing of deer and conies;" which states that, through the insufficiency of previous statutes, "many riots, manslaughters, mischiefs, and other inconveniences have been daily committed, and are like to be committed, if circumspect remedy be not hereunto provided." There was to be fine and imprisonment for those who took or chased game in any grounds without the consent of the owner; and, what must have been a frequent cause of riots and manslaughters, qualified persons, having lands of the clear annual value of 1007., were empowered to seize all guns and sporting implements from unqualified persons, the qualification being as high as 401. a-year. Evils enough have resulted from a harsh administration of the game-laws in our own times; but such a distinction as this law of James made between the great proprietor and the substantial yeoman must have been as odious as it was impracticable. England had now got a sporting king, who told his ministers, when they implored him on their knees to attend to the public business, that his health was the health and welfare of all, and that he never would forego his exercise and relaxation. His brother-in-law, Christian IV., king of Denmark, came over to England in July 1606; and James, having received a liberal subsidy from the parliament, indulged in every species of disgusting excess, in which the royal example was so encouraging, that, writes Harrington, "the ladies abandon their sobriety, and are seen to roll about in intoxication.” † He adds, “I will now, in good sooth, declare to you, who will not blab, that the gunpowder fright is got out of all our heads, and we are going on hereabouts, as if the devil was contriving every man should blow himself up, by wild riot, excess, and devastation of time and temperance." The next session an Act was passed "for repressing the odious vice of drunkenness;" which Ivice it describes as 66 the overthrow of many good arts and manual trades, the disabling of divers workmen, and the general impoverishing of many good subjects." The Statute was directed against the sins of the humble. James and his profligate court had to bear a severer penalty than the fine of five shillings to be levied on a convicted drunkard. They had to bear the open exhibition of their follies on the public stage; and the growing contempt of the great body of English gentlemen, such as Harrington, who writes: "I have passed much time in seeing the royal sports of hunting and hawking, where the manners were such as made me devise the beasts were pursuing the sober creation, and not man in quest of exercise or food." Such were the royal sports of Theobalds, where Salisbury was entertaining the two kings; and where king James, according to another authority, got so drunk with king Christian, that his Britannic majesty was obliged to be carried to bed.
* 3 Jac. I. c. 13.
"Nuga Antiquæ," vol. i. p. 349.
4 Jac. I. c. 5.
MANNERS OF THE COURT.
Salisbury, in another year or two, had made a provident exchange with the king, of Theobalds for Hatfield; and Theobalds became the favourite residence of James, where he dissipated his hereditary revenues, aided by occasional
taxation; keeping sometimes a decent state with his family, but more frequently listening to the ribaldry of unworthy favourites, beating his servants, and swearing and cursing habitually, in spite of the statute under which common people could not have that diversion without paying twelve pence to the relief of the poor.*
Although king James was intensely devoted to his favourite sports, exhibiting himself in Waltham forest, and in other Royal Chases, leading his dogs in a grass-green hunting suit, and blowing his hunting-horn with the lungs of a game-keeper, although he was sometimes lying in bed the whole day, overgorged with the delicacies of the table, and filled with strong wine,-he found time for more intellectual pursuits; and amongst other strange literary performances wrote his famous "Counterblast to Tobacco." He hated the tobacco-smokers as intensely as he hated the Puritans; but nevertheless both the tobacco-consumers and the Puritans went on increasing. His dislike of the Indian weed was probably diminished as he found that it brought a con
* 3 Jac. I. c. 21.
LAVISHNESS OF THE KING UPON FAVOURITES.
siderable accession to his revenue; for, in addition to his own inordinate expenses, the sums which he bestowed upon his minions would appear incredible if their amount did not rest upon the most trustworthy authority. His early favourites were needy Scotsmen who had followed the court to England. His folly in this costly favouritism provoked the indignation of the House of Commons, and was one of the main causes that his laudable anxiety for a perfect Union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland was constantly defeated. In 1607, James delivered a speech to the parliament for hastening the Union-sensible in many points-in which he made a sort of apology for these preferences:-" For my liberality, I have told you of it heretofore. My three first years were to them [the Scots] as a Christmas. I could not then be miserable. Should I have been oversparing to them, they might have thought Joseph had forgotten his brethren; or that the king had been drunk with his new kingdom."* But he also said, "There is none left for whom I mean extraordinary to strain myself." How well he kept his word may be inferred. from the riches which were obtained and lavished by sir James Hay, who was afterwards created earl of Carlisle. He was called the Scottish Heliogabalus : and first won the king's favour by giving him "a most strange and costly feast." Clarendon, who was not likely to speak with exaggeration in such a case, has left this character of Hay:-" He was surely a man of the greatest expense in his own person of any in the age he lived; and introduced more of that expense in the excess of clothes and diet than any other man; and was indeed the original of all those inventions from which others did but transcribe copies. He had a great universal understanding, and could have taken as much delight in any other way, if he had thought any other as pleasant and worth his care. But he found business was attended with more rivals and vexations; and, he thought, with much less pleasure, and not more innocence. He left behind him the reputation of a very fine gentleman, and a most accomplished courtier; and, after having spent in a very jovial life above four hundred thousand pounds, which upon a strict computation he received from the crown, he left not a house nor acre of land to be remembered by."† Robert Carr, afterwards earl of Somerset, was another of the brothers of Joseph whom Joseph did not forget. Osborn tells a curious story of the ignorant lavishness of James. He had given Carr an order upon the Lord High Treasurer for twenty thousand pounds; but the Treasurer apprehended "that the king was as ignorant of the worth of what was demanded as of the desert of the person who had begged it ;" and knew, "that a pound, upon the Scottish accompt, would not pay for the shoeing of a horse, by which his master might be farther led out of the way of thrift than in his nature he was willing to go." The wise Cecil, according to this story, placed the twenty thousand pounds in specie upon the floor of a room to which the king was coming. "Whose money is this?" said James. "It was your majesty's before you gave it away." The king threw himself upon the heap, and swore that Carr should have no more than a few hundred pounds.
The prodigality of the king was carried to such an extent that the government was precipitated into dangerous courses to find the means of its gratifi
* Cobbett's "Parliamentary History," vol. i. p. 1104.
FEUDAL AID-IMPOSITIONS UPON MERCHANDISE.
cation. According to the practice of the Plantagenets, an aid was asked of the subject when the king's eldest son was knighted. James levied this tax when prince Henry was created prince of Wales in 1610. The prince was
justly popular; but this tax was paid with great repinings. A custom which belonged to the feudal organisation of society was revolting to those who lived under a very different political and social condition. But a more strenuous resistance was made to the imposition of heavy duties on all merchandise, not by authority of parliament but under the great seal. In the House of Commons the illegality of such impositions was argued with a thorough constitutional knowledge. The king, with his wonted arrogance, commanded the Commons not to enter upon a question which so touched his prerogative. They presented a strong remonstrance, of which the nervous language proclaimed, with a warning voice, that the liberties of England were not to be thus invaded: "The policy and constitution of this your kingdom appropriates unto the kings of this realm, with the assent of the parliament, as well the sovereign power of making laws, as that of taxing, or imposing upon the subjects' goods or merchandises, as may not, without their consents, be altered or changed. This is the cause that the people of this kingdom, as they ever showed themselves faithful and loving to their kings, and ready to aid them in all their just occasions with voluntary contributions, so have they been ever careful to preserve their own liberties and rights when anything hath been done to prejudice or impeach the same. And therefore, when their princes, occasioned either by their wars or their over-great bounty, or by any other necessity, have without consent of parliament set impositions, either within the land, or upon commodities either exported or imported by the merchants, they have, in open parliament, complained of it, in that it was done without their consents; and thereupon never failed to obtain a speedy and full redress, without any claim made by the kings of any power or prerogative in that point." The commerce of the country had become an important source of its wealth; and if the king could tax merchandise without the consent of parliament, the one great restraint upon despotic power would soon be swept away. At this period there were two events connected with commerce far more important to the England of the future than in their immediate consequences, which require
Henry, Prince of Wales. (From Drayton's Polyolbion.)
* Quoted by Mr. Hallam from the Somers' Tracts.