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at that time, be surmounted; and it was not then brought to any conclusion.
The same fate attended an attempt of a like nature, to free the nation from the burden of purveyance. This prerogative had been much abused by the purveyors", and the Commons showed some intention to offer the king fifty thousand pounds a year for the abolition of it.
Another affair of the utmost consequence was brought before the Parliament, where the Commons showed a greater spirit of independence than any true judgment of national interest. The union of the two kingdoms was zealously and even impatiently urged by the king*. He justly regarded it as the peculiar felicity of his reign that he had terminated the bloody animosities of these hostile nations, and had reduced the whole island under one government; enjoying tranquillity within itself, and security from all foreign invasions. He hoped, that while his subjects of both kingdoms reflected on past disasters, besides regarding his person as infinitely precious, they would entertain the strongest desire of securing themselves against the return of like calamities, by a thorough union of laws, Parliaments, and privileges. He considered not, that this very reflection operated, as yet, in a contrary manner on men's prejudices, and kept alive that mutual hatred between the nations, which had been carried to the greatest extremities, and required time to allay it. The more urgent the king appeared in promoting so useful a measure, the more backward was the English Parliament in concurring with him; while they ascribed his excessive zeal to that partiality in favour of his ancient subjects, of which they thought that, on other occasions, they had reason to complain. Their complaisance for the king, therefore, carried them no farther than to appoint forty-four English to meet with thirty-one Scottish commissioners, in order to deliberate concerning the terms of a union, but without any power of making advances towards the establishment of it.
The same spirit of independence, and perhaps not better judgment, appeared in the House of Commons when
w Journ. 30 April, 1604.
* Journ. 21 April, 1 May, 1604. Parliamentary History, vol. v. p. 91.
the question of supply was brought before them by some CHAP. members attached to the court. In vain was it urged, that though the king received a supply which had been voted to Elizabeth, and which had not been collected before her death, yet he found it burdened with a debt contracted by the queen, equal to the full amount of it: that peace was not yet thoroughly concluded with Spain, and that Ireland was still expensive to him: that on his journey from Scotland, amidst such a concourse of people, and on that of the queen and royal family, he had expended considerable sums: and that as the courtiers had looked for greater liberalities from the prince on his accession, and had imposed on his generous nature, so the prince, in his turn, would expect, at the beginning, some mark of duty and attachment from his people, and some consideration of his necessities. No impression was made on the House of Commons by these topics, and the majority appeared fully determined to reject all supply. The burden of government, at that time, lay surprisingly light upon the people; and that very reason, which to us, at this distance, may seem a motive of generosity, was the real cause why the Parliament was, on all occasions, so remarkably frugal and reserved. They were not, as yet, accustomed to open their purses in so liberal a manner as their successors, in order to supply the wants of their sovereign; and the smallest demand, however requisite, appeared in their eyes unreasonable and exorbitant. The Commons seemed also to have been desirous of reducing the crown to still farther necessities, by their refusing a bill, sent down to them by the Lords, for entailing the crown lands for ever on the king's heirs and successors". The dissipation made by Elizabeth had probably taught James the necessity of this law, and shown them the advantage of refusing it.
In order to cover a disappointment with regard to supply, which might bear a bad construction, both at home and abroad, James sent a message to the House", in which he told them, that he desired no supply; and he was very forward in refusing what was never offered him. Soon after, he prorogued the Parliament, not 7th July. without discovering, in his speech, visible marks of dis
2 Parliamentary History, vol. v. p. 108.
a Journ. 26 June, 1604.
CHAP. satisfaction. Even so early in his reign, he saw reason to make public complaints of the restless and encroaching 1604. spirit of the puritanical party, and of the malevolence with which they endeavoured to inspire the Commons. Nor were his complaints without foundation, or the puritans without interest; since the Commons, now finding themselves free from the arbitrary government of Elizabeth, made application for a conference with the Lords, and presented a petition to the king, the purport of both which was, to procure, in favour of the puritans, a relaxation of the ecclesiastical laws. The use of the surplice, and of the cross in baptism, is there chiefly complained of; but the remedy seems to have been expected solely from the king's dispensing power. In the papers which contain this application and petition, we may also see proofs of the violent animosity of the Commons against the Catholics, together with the intolerating spirit of that assembly “.
This summer the peace with Spain was finally concluded, and was signed by the Spanish ministers at London. In the conferences previous to this treaty, the nations were found to have so few claims on each other, that, except on account of the support given by England to the Low Country provinces, the war might appear to have been continued more on account of personal animosity between Philip and Elizabeth, than any contrariety of political interests between their subjects. Some articles in the treaty, which seemed prejudicial to the Dutch commonwealth, were never executed by the king; and as the Spaniards made no complaints on that head, it appeared that, by secret agreement, the king had expressly reserved the power of sending assistance to the Hollanders'. The Constable of Castile came into England to ratify the peace; and on the part of England, the Earl of Hertford was sent into the Low Countries for the same purpose, and the Earl of Nottingham, high
Peace with Spain. 18th Aug.
b La Boderie, the French ambassador, says, that the House of Commons was composed mostly of puritans, vol. i. p. 81.
c Parliamentary History, vol. v. p. 98, 99, 100.
e Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 585, &c. f Winwood, vol. ii. p. 27. 330, et alibi. In this respect James's peace was more honourable than that which Henry IV. himself made with Spain. This latter prince stipulated not to assist the Dutch; and the supplies, whh he secretly sent them, were in direct contravention to the treaty.
admiral, into Spain. The train of the latter was numerous and splendid; and the Spaniards, it is said, were extremely surprised, when they beheld the blooming countenances and graceful appearance of the English, whom their bigotry, inflamed by the priests, had represented as so many monsters and infernal demons.
Though England, by means of her naval force, was perfectly secure during the latter years of the Spanish war, James showed an impatience to put an end to hostilities; and soon after his accession, before any terms of peace were concerted, or even proposed by Spain, he recalled all the letters of marque which had been granted by Queen Elizabeth. Archduke Albert had made some advances of a like nature", which invited the king to take this friendly step. But what is remarkable, in James's proclamation for that purpose, he plainly supposes, that, as he had himself, while King of Scotland, always lived in amity with Spain, peace was attached to his person, and that merely by his accession to the crown of England, without any articles of treaty or agreement, he had ended the war between the kingdoms. This ignorance of the law of nations may appear surprising in a prince, who was thirty-six years of age, and who had reigned from his infancy, did we not consider that a king of Scotland, who lives in close friendship with England, has few transactions to manage with foreign princes, and has little opportunity of acquiring experience. Unhappily for James, his timidity, his prejudices, his indolence, his love of amusement, particularly of hunting, to which he was much addicted, ever prevented him from making any progress in the knowledge or practice of foreign politics, and in a little time diminished that regard which all the neighbouring nations had paid to England during the reign of his predecessor.
g 23d of June, 1603.
h Grotii Annal. lib. 12.
i See proclamations during the first seven years of King James. Winwood, vol. ii. p. 65.
k Mémoires de la Boderie, vol. i. p. 64. 181. 195. 217. 302. vol. ii. p. 244. 278.
GUNPOWDER CONSPIRACY.-A PARLIAMENT.-TRUCE BETWEEN SPAIN AND THE
We are now to relate an event, one of the most memoXLVI. rable that history has conveyed to posterity, and con1604. taining at once a singular proof both of the strength and weakness of the human mind, its widest departure from morals, and most steady attachment to religious prejudices. 'Tis the Gunpowder treason of which I speak; a fact as certain as it appears incredible.
The Roman Catholics had expected great favour and indulgence on the accession of James, both as he was descended from Mary, whose life they believed to have been sacrificed to their cause, and as he himself, in his early youth, was imagined to have shown some partiality towards them, which nothing, they thought, but interest and necessity had since restrained. It is pretended, that he had even entered into positive engagements to tolerate their religion, as soon as he should mount the throne of England; whether their credulity had interpreted in this sense some obliging expressions of the king's, or that he had employed such an artifice, in order to render them favourable to his title. Very soon they discovered their mistake; and were at once surprised and enraged to find James, on all occasions, express his intention of strictly executing the laws enacted against them, and of persevering in all the rigorous measures of Elizabeth. Catesby, a gentleman of good parts and of an ancient family, first thought of a most extraordinary method of revenge; and he opened his intention to Piercy, a descendant of the illustrious house of Northumberland. In one of their conversations with regard to the distressed condition of the Catholics, Piercy, having broken into a sally of passion, and men
a State Trials, vol. ii. p. 201, 202, 203. Winwood, vol. ii. p. 49.