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Appendix, the change of men's ideas in this particular may probably be ascribed to the invention of printing, which has rendered books so common, that even men of slender fortunes can have access to them.
That James was but a middling writer may be allowed; that he was a contemptible one, can by no means be admitted. Whoever will read his Basilicon Doron, particularly the two last books, the True Law of free Monarchies, his answer to Cardinal Perron, and almost all his speeches and messages to Parliament, will confess him to have possessed no mean genius. If he wrote concerning witches and apparitions, who in that age did not admit the reality of these fictitious beings? If he has composed a commentary on the Revelations, and proved the pope to be antichrist, may not a similar reproach be extended to the famous Napier, and even to Newton, at a time when learning was much more advanced than during the reign of James? From the grossness of its superstitions, we may infer the ignorance of an age; but never should pronounce concerning the folly of an individual, from his admitting popular errors, consecrated by the appearance of religion.
Such a superiority do the pursuits of literature possess above every other occupation, that even he who attains but a mediocrity in them merits the pre-eminence above those that excel the most in the common and vulgar professions. The speaker of the House of Commons is usually an eminent lawyer; yet the harangue of his majesty will always be found much superior to that of the speaker, in every Parliament during his reign.
Every science, as well as polite literature, must be considered as being yet in its infancy. Scholastic learning and polemical divinity retarded the growth of all true knowledge. Sir Henry Saville, in the preamble of that deed by which he annexed a salary to the mathematical and astronomical professors in Oxford, says, that geometry was almost totally abandoned and unknown in England. The best learning of that age was the study of the ancients. Casaubon, eminent for this species of knowledge, was invited over from France by James, and encouraged by a pension of three hundred pounds a year, as well as e Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 217.
by church preferments". The famous Antonio di Do- Appendix. minis, Archbishop of Spalatro, no despicable philosopher, came likewise into England, and afforded great triumph to the nation, by their gaining so considerable a proselyte from the papists. But the mortification followed soon after the archbishop, though advanced to some ecclesiastical preferments, received not encouragement sufficient to satisfy his ambition; he made his escape into Italy, where he died in confinement.
d Rymer, tom. xvii. p. 709.
e Ibid. p. 95.
1625. 27th Mar.
A PARLIAMENT AT WESTMINSTER.-AT OXFORD.-NAVAL EXPEDITION AGAINST
SPAIN. SECOND PARLIAMENT.-IMPEACHMENT OF BUCKINGHAM.-VIOLENT MEA-
ment at Westminster. 18th June.
CHAP. No sooner had Charles taken into his hands the reins of
The House of Commons accordingly took into conside-
ration the business of supply. They knew that all the money granted by the last Parliament had been expended on naval and military armaments, and that great anticipations were likewise made on the revenues of the crown. They were not ignorant that Charles was loaded with a large debt, contracted by his father, who had borrowed money both from his own subjects and from foreign princes. They had learned by experience, that the public revenue could with difficulty maintain the dignity of the crown, even under the ordinary charges of government. They were sensible that the present war was very lately the result of their own importunate applications and entreaties, and that they had solemnly engaged to support their sovereign in the management of it. They were acquainted with the difficulty of military enterprises, directed against the whole house of Austria; against the King of Spain, possessed of the greatest riches and most extensive dominions of any prince in Europe; against the Emperor Ferdinand, hitherto the most fortunate monarch of his age, who had subdued and astonished Germany by the rapidity of his victories. Deep impressions, they saw, must be made by the English sword, and a vigorous offensive war be waged against these mighty potentates, ere they would resign a principality which they had now fully subdued, and which they held in secure possession, by its being surrounded with all their other territories.
To answer, therefore, all these great and important ends; to satisfy their young king in the first request which he made them; to prove their sense of the many royal virtues, particularly economy, with which Charles was endowed; the House of Commons, conducted by the wisest and ablest senators that had ever flourished in England, thought proper to confer on the king a supply of two subsidies, amounting to one hundred and twelve thousand pounds".
This measure, which discovers rather a cruel mockery of Charles than any serious design of supporting him, appears so extraordinary, when considered in all its circumstances, that it naturally summons up our attention,
b A subsidy was now fallen to about fifty-six thousand pounds. Cabala, p. 224, first edition.
CHAP. and raises an inquiry concerning the causes of a conduct unprecedented in an English Parliament. So numerous an assembly, composed of persons of various dispositions, was not, it is probable, wholly influenced by the same motives; and few declared openly their true reason. We shall, therefore, approach nearer to the truth, if we mention all the views which the present conjuncture could suggest to them.
It is not to be doubted, but spleen and ill-will against the Duke of Buckingham had an influence with many. So vast and rapid a fortune, so little merited, could not fail to excite public envy; and however men's hatred might have been suspended for a moment, while the duke's conduct seemed to gratify their passions and their prejudices, it was impossible for him long to preserve the affections of the people. His influence over the modesty of Charles exceeded even that which he had acquired over the weakness of James, nor was any public measure conducted but by his counsel and direction. His vehement temper prompted him to raise suddenly to the highest elevation his flatterers and dependents; and upon the least occasion of displeasure he threw them down with equal impetuosity and violence. Implacable in his hatred; fickle in his friendships; all men were either regarded as his enemies, or dreaded soon to become such. The whole power of the kingdom was grasped by his insatiable hand; while he both engrossed the entire confidence of his master, and held, invested in his single person, the most considerable offices of the crown.
However the ill-humour of the Commons might have been increased by these considerations, we are not to suppose them the sole motives. The last Parliament of James, amidst all their joy and festivity, had given him a supply very disproportioned to his demand and to the occasion; and as every House of Commons which was elected during forty years succeeded to all the passions and principles of their predecessors, we ought rather to account for this obstinacy from the general situation of the kingdom during that whole period, than from any circumstances which attended this particular conjuncture.
The nation was very little accustomed at that time to the burden of taxes, and had never opened their purses