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CHAP. neglected by the emperor: but as he had no choice of any other expedient, and it seemed the interest of his son-in-law to keep alive his pretensions, he was still content to follow Ferdinand through all his shifts and evasions. Nor was he entirely discouraged, even when the imperial diet at Ratisbon, by the influence, or rather authority, of the emperor, though contrary to the protestation of Saxony, and of all the Protestant princes and cities, had transferred the electoral dignity from the Palatine to the Duke of Bavaria.
Meanwhile, the efforts made by Frederic for the recovery of his dominions were vigorous. Three armies were levied in Germany by his authority, under three commanders, Duke Christian of Brunswick, the Prince of Baden-Dourlach, and Count Mansfeldt. The two former generals were defeated by Count Tilly and the imperialists: the third, though much inferior in force to his enemies, still maintained the war; but with no equal supplies of money either from the Palatine or the King of England. It was chiefly by pillage and free quarters in the Palatinate that he subsisted his army. As the Austrians were regularly paid, they were kept in more exact discipline; and James justly became apprehensive, lest so unequal a contest, besides ravaging the Palatine's hereditary dominions, would end in the total alienation of the people's affections from their ancient sovereign, by whom they were plundered, and in an attachment to their new masters, by whom they were protected. He persuaded, therefore, his son-in-law to disarm, under colour of duty and submission to the emperor: and, accordingly, Mansfeldt was dismissed from the Palatine's service; and that famous general withdrew his army into the Low Countries, and there received a commission from the states of the United Provinces.
To show how little account was made of James's negotiations abroad, there is a pleasantry mentioned by all historians, which, for that reason, shall have place here. In a farce, acted at Brussels, a courier was introduced carrying the doleful news that the Palatinate would be soon wrested from the house of Austria, so powerful were the succours which, from all quarters, were hasten
b Parl. Hist. vol. v. p. 484.
ing to the relief of the despoiled elector: the King of Denmark had agreed to contribute to his assistance a hundred thousand pickled herrings, the Dutch a hundred thousand butter-boxes, and the King of England a hundred thousand ambassadors. On other occasions, he was painted with a scabbard, but without a sword; or with a sword, which nobody could draw, though several were pulling at it.
It was not from his negotiations with the emperor or the Duke of Bavaria that James expected any success in his project of restoring the Palatine: his eyes were entirely turned towards Spain; and if he could effect his son's marriage with the infanta, he doubted not but that, after so intimate a conjunction, this other point could easily be obtained. The negotiations of that court being commonly dilatory, it was not easy for a prince of so little penetration in business to distinguish whether the difficulties which occurred were real or affected; and he was surprised, after negotiating five years on so simple a demand, that he was not more advanced than at the beginning. A dispensation from Rome was requisite for the marriage of the infanta with a Protestant prince; and the King of Spain, having undertaken to procure that dispensation, had thereby acquired the means of retarding at pleasure, or of forwarding the marriage, and at the same time of concealing entirely his artifices from the court of England.
In order to remove all obstacles, James despatched Digby, soon after created Earl of Bristol, as his ambassador to Philip IV., who had lately succeeded his father in the crown of Spain. He secretly employed Gage as his agent at Rome; and finding that the difference of religion was the principal, if not the sole difficulty, which retarded the marriage, he resolved to soften that objection as much as possible. He issued public orders for discharging all popish recusants who were imprisoned; and it was daily apprehended that he would forbid, for the future, the execution of the penal laws enacted against them. For this step, so opposite to the rigid spirit of his subjects, he took care to apologize; and he even endeavoured to ascribe it to his great zeal for the c Kennet, p. 749.
CHAP. reformed religion. He had been making applications, he said, to all foreign princes for some indulgence to the distressed Protestants; and he was still answered by objections derived from the severity of the English laws against Catholics. It might indeed occur to him, that if the extremity of religious zeal were ever to abate among Christian sects, one of them must begin; and nothing would be more honourable for England, than to have led the way in sentiments so wise and moderate.
Not only the religious puritans murmured at this tolerating measure of the king: the lovers of civil liberty were alarmed at so important an exertion of prerogative. But among other dangerous articles of authority, the kings of England were at that time possessed of the dispensing power, at least were in the constant practice of exercising it. Besides, though the royal prerogative in civil matters was then extensive, the princes, during some late reigns, had been accustomed to assume a still greater in ecclesiastical; and the king failed not to represent the toleration of Catholics as a measure entirely of that nature.
By James's concession in favour of the Catholics, he attained his end. The same religious motives which had hitherto rendered the court of Madrid insincere in all the steps taken with regard to the marriage, were now the chief cause of promoting it. By its means, it was there hoped the English Catholics would for the future enjoy ease and indulgence; and the infanta would be the happy instrument of procuring to the church some tranquillity, after the many severe persecutions which it had hitherto undergone. The Earl of Bristol, a minister of vigilance and penetration, and who had formerly opposed all alliance with Catholics, was now fully convinced of the sincerity of Spain; and he was ready to congratulate the king on the entire completion of his views and projects'. A daughter of Spain, whom he represents as extremely accomplished, would soon, he said, arrive in England, and bring with her an immense fortune of two millions of pieces of eight, or six hundred thousand pounds sterling; a sum four times greater than Spain
had ever before given with any princess, and almost equal CHAP. to all the money which the Parliament, during the whole course of this reign, had hitherto granted to the king. But what was of more importance to James's honour and happiness, Bristol considered this match as an infallible prognostic of the Palatine's restoration; nor would Philip, he thought, ever have bestowed his sister and so large a fortune under the prospect of entering next day into a war with England. So exact was his intelligence, that the most secret counsels of the Spaniards, he boasts, had never escaped him"; and he found that they had all along considered the marriage of the infanta, and the restitution of the Palatinate, as measures closely connected or altogether inseparable". However little calculated James's character to extort so vast a concession, however improper the measures which he had pursued for attaining that end, the ambassador could not withstand the plain evidence of facts, by which Philip now demonstrated his sincerity. Perhaps too, like a wise man, he considered, that reasons of state, which are supposed solely to influence the councils of monarchs, are not always the motives which there predominate; that the milder views of gratitude, honour, friendship, generosity, are frequently able among princes, as well as private persons, to counterbalance these selfish considerations; that the justice and moderation of James had been so conspicuous in all these transactions, his reliance on Spain, his confidence in her friendship, that he had at last obtained the cordial alliance of that nation, so celebrated for honour and fidelity: or if politics must still be supposed the ruling motive of all public measures, the maritime power of England was so considerable, and the Spanish dominions so divided, as might well induce the council of Philip to think, that a sincere friendship with the masters of the sea could not be purchased by too great concessions'. And as James, during so many years, had been allured and seduced by hopes and protestations, his people enraged by delays and disappoint
g Rushworth, vol. i. p. 272.
h We find by private letters between Philip IV. and the Condé Olivarez, shown by the latter to Buckingham, that the marriage and the restitution of the Palatinate were always considered by the court of Spain as inseparable. See Franklyn, p. 71, 72. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 71. 280. 299, 300. Parl. Hist. vol. vi. p. 66. i Franklyn, p. 72. VOL. IV.
CHAP. ments, it would probably occur, that there was now no medium left between the most inveterate hatred and the most intimate alliance between the nations: not to mention, that, as a new spirit began about this time to animate the councils of France, the friendship of England became every day more necessary to the greatness and security of the Spanish monarch.
All measures being, therefore, agreed on between the parties, nought was wanting but the dispensation from Rome, which might be considered as a mere formality*. The king, justified by success, now exulted in his pacific counsels, and boasted of his superior sagacity and penetration; when all these flattering prospects were blasted by the temerity of a man, whom he had fondly exalted from a private condition to be the bane of himself, of his family, and of his people.
Ever since the fall of Somerset, Buckingham had of Bucking- governed, with an uncontrolled sway, both the court and nation; and could James's eyes have been opened, he had now full opportunity of observing how unfit his favourite was for the high station to which he was raised. Some accomplishments of a courtier he possessed: of every talent of a minister he was utterly destitute. Headstrong in his passions, and incapable equally of prudence and of dissimulation: sincere from violence rather than candour: expensive from profusion more than generosity a warm friend, a furious enemy; but without any choice or discernment in either: with these qualities he had early and quickly mounted to the highest rank; and partook at once of the insolence which attends a fortune newly acquired, and the impetuosity which belongs to persons born in high stations, and unacquainted with opposition.
Among those who had experienced the arrogance of this overgrown favourite, the Prince of Wales himself had not been entirely spared; and a great coldness, if not an enmity, had, for that reason, taken place between them. Buckingham, desirous of an opportunity which might connect him with the prince and overcome his aversion, and at the same time envious of the great credit acquired by Bristol in the Spanish negotiation, k Rushworth, vol. i. p. 66.