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for truth by the Prince of Wales, who was present; and CHAP. the king himself lent it, indirectly, his authority, by tell- XLIX. ing the Parliament that it was by his orders Buckingham laid the whole affair before them. The conduct of these princes it is difficult fully to excuse. It is in vain to plead the youth and inexperience of Charles, unless his inexperience and youth, as is probable ", if not certain, really led him into error, and made him swallow all the falsities of Buckingham; and though the king was here hurried from his own measures by the impetuosity of others, nothing should have induced him to prostitute his character, and seem to vouch the impostures, at least false colourings, of his favourite, of which he had so good reason to entertain a suspicion.
Buckingham's narrative, however artfully disguised, contained so many contradictory circumstances, as were sufficient to open the eyes of all reasonable men; but it concurred so well with the passions and prejudices of the Parliament, that no scruple was made of immediately adopting it. Charmed with having obtained at length the opportunity, so long wished for, of going to war with papists, they little thought of future consequences; but immediately advised the king to break off both treaties with Spain, as well that which regarded the marriage, as that for the restitution of the Palatinate'. The people, ever greedy of war till they suffer by it, displayed their triumph at these violent measures by public bonfires and rejoicings, and by insults on the Spanish ministers. Buckingham was now the favourite of the public and of the Parliament; Sir Edward Coke, in the House of Commons, called him the saviour of the nation"; every place resounded with his praises; and he himself, intoxicated by a popularity which he enjoyed so little time, and which he so ill deserved, violated all duty to his indulgent master, and entered into cabals with the puritanical members, who had ever opposed the royal authority. He even en
h See note [NN], at the end of the volume.
i It must, however, be confessed, that the king afterwards warned the House not to take Buckingham's narrative for his, though it was laid before them by his order. Parliament. Hist. vol. vi. p. 104. James was probably ashamed to have been carried so far by his favourite.
k Parliament. Hist. vol. vi. p. 75.
1 Franklyn, p. 98. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 128. Parliament. Hist. vol. vi. p. 103. m Clarendon, vol. i. p. 6.
CHAP. Couraged schemes for abolishing the order of bishops, XLIX. and selling the dean and chapter lands, in order to defray the expenses of a Spanish war; and the king, though he still entertained projects for temporizing, and for forming an accommodation with Spain, was so borne down by the torrent of popular prejudices, conducted and increased by Buckingham, that he was at last obliged, in a speech to Parliament, to declare in favour of hostile measures, if they would engage to support him". Doubts of their sincerity in this respect, doubts which the event showed not to be ill grounded, had probably been one cause of his former pacific and dilatory measures.
In his speech on this occasion, the king began with lamenting his own unhappiness, that, having so long valued himself on the epithet of the pacific monarch, he should now, in his old age, be obliged to exchange the blessings of peace for the inevitable calamities of war. He represented to them the immense and continued expense requisite for military armaments; and besides supplies, from time to time, as they should become necessary, he demanded a vote of six subsidies and twelve fifteenths, as a proper stock before the commencement of hostilities. He told them of his intolerable debts, chiefly contracted by the sums remitted to the Palatinate; but he added, that he did not insist on any supply for his own relief, and that it was sufficient for him, if the honour and security of the public were provided for. To remove all suspicion, he who had ever strenuously maintained his prerogative, and who had even extended it into some points esteemed doubtful, now made an imprudent concession, of which the consequences might have proved fatal to royal authority: he voluntarily offered, that the money voted should be paid to a committee of Parliament, and should be issued by them, without being entrusted to his management. The Commons willingly accepted of this concession, so unusual in an English monarch; they voted him only three subsidies and three fifteenths; and they took no notice of the complaints which he made of his own wants and necessities.
n Franklyn, p. 94, 95. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 129, 130.
• See note , at the end of the volume.
q Less than three hundred thousand pounds.
P Rushworth, vol. i. p. 137.
Advantage was also taken of the present good agreement between the king and Parliament, in order to pass the bill against monopolies, which had formerly been encouraged by the king, but which had failed by the rupture between him and the last House of Commons. This bill was conceived in such terms as to render it merely declaratory; and all monopolies were condemned as contrary to law and to the known liberties of the people. It was there supposed, that every subject of England had entire power to dispose of his own actions, provided he did no injury to any of his fellow-subjects; and that no prerogative of the king, no power of any magistrate, nothing but the authority alone of laws, could restrain that unlimited freedom. The full prosecution of this noble principle into all its natural consequences has at last, through many contests, produced that singular and happy government which we enjoy at present'.
The House of Commons also corroborated, by a new precedent, the important power of impeachment, which, two years before, they had exercised in the case of Chancellor Bacon, and which had lain dormant for near two centuries, except when they served as instruments of royal vengeance. The Earl of Middlesex had been raised, by Buckingham's interest, from the rank of a London merchant, to be treasurer of England; and, by his activity and address, seemed not unworthy of that preferment. But as he incurred the displeasure of his patron, by scrupling or refusing some demands of money, during the prince's residence in Spain, that favourite vowed revenge, and employed all his credit among the Commons to procure an impeachment of the treasurer. The king was extremely dissatisfied with this measure, and prophesied to the prince and duke, that they would live to have their fill of parliamentary prosecutions. In a speech to the Parliament, he endeavoured to apologize for Middlesex, and to soften the accusation against him. The charge, however, was still maintained by the Commons; and the treasurer was found guilty by the Peers, though the misdemeanours proved against him were neither numerous nor important. The accepting of two presents
r See note [P P], at the end of the volume.
s Clarendon, vol. i. p. 23.
t Parliamentary History, vol. vi. p. 19.
CHAP. of five hundred pounds a-piece, for passing two patents, was the article of greatest weight. His sentence was, to be fined fifty thousand pounds for the king's use, and to suffer all the other penalties formerly inflicted upon Bacon. The fine was afterwards remitted by the prince, when he mounted the throne.
This session an address was also made, very disagreeable to the king, craving the severe execution of the laws against Catholics. His answer was gracious and condescending"; though he declared against persecution, as being an improper measure for the suppression of any religion, according to the received maxim, That the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. He also condemned an entire indulgence of the Catholics, and seemed to represent a middle course as the most humane and most politic. He went so far as even to affirm, with an oath, that he never had entertained any thoughts of granting a toleration to these religionists". The liberty of exercising their worship in private houses, which he had secretly agreed to in the Spanish treaty, did not appear to him deserving that name, and it was probably by means of this explication he thought that he had saved his honour; and as Buckingham, in his narrative, confessed that the king had agreed to a temporary suspension of the penal laws against the Catholics, which he distinguished from a toleration, a term at that time extremely odious, James naturally deemed his meaning to be sufficiently explained, and feared not any reproach of falsehood or duplicity on account of this asseveration. 29th May. After all these transactions, the parliament was prorogued by the king, who let fall some hints, though in gentle terms, of the sense which he entertained of their unkindness, in not supplying his necessities'.
James, unable to resist so strong a combination as that of his people, his Parliament, his son, and his favourite, had been compelled to embrace measures, for which, from temper as well as judgment, he had ever entertained a most settled aversion. Though he dissembled his resentment, he began to estrange himself from Buckingham, to whom he ascribed all those violent coun
u Franklyn, p. 101, 102.
w See farther, Franklyn, p. 87.
y Franklyn, p. 103.
sels, and whom he considered as the author, both of the prince's journey to Spain, and of the breach of the marriage treaty. The arrival of Bristol he impatiently longed for; and it was by the assistance of that minister, whose wisdom he respected, and whose views he approved, that he hoped in time to extricate himself from his present difficulties.
Nothing could be of greater consequence to Buckingham, than to keep Bristol at a distance, both from the king and the Parliament; lest the power of truth, enforced by so well-informed a speaker, should open scenes, which were but suspected by the former, and of which the latter had as yet entertained no manner of jealousy. He applied therefore to James, whose weakness, disguised to himself under the appearance of finesse and dissimulation, was now become absolutely incurable. A warrant for sending Bristol to the Tower was issued immediately upon his arrival in England; and though he was soon released from confinement, yet orders were carried him from the king, to retire to his country seat, and to abstain from all attendance in Parliament. He obeyed; but loudly demanded an opportunity of justifying himself, and of laying his whole conduct before his master.
z Rushworth, vol. i. p. 145.
During the prince's abode in Spain, that able nego- Return of tiator had ever opposed, though unsuccessfully, to the impetuous measures suggested by Buckingham, his own wise and well-tempered counsels. After Charles's departure, he still, upon the first appearance of a change of resolution, interposed his advice, and strenuously insisted on the sincerity of the Spaniards in the conduct of the treaty, as well as the advantages which England must reap from the completion of it. Enraged to find that his successful labours should be rendered abortive by the levities and caprices of an insolent minion, he would understand no hints; and nothing but express orders from his master could engage him to make that demand which he was sensible must put a final period to the treaty. He was not therefore surprised to hear that Buckingham had declared himself his open enemy, and, on all occasions, had thrown out many violent reflections against him.