Изображения страниц

the settlement of the Spaniards on that coast. Does not this fact alone render him sufficiently criminal? 5. His commission empowers him only to settle on a coast possessed by savage and barbarous inhabitants. Was it not the most evident breach of orders to disembark on a coast possessed by Spaniards? 6. His orders to Keymis, when he sent him up the river, are contained in his own apology, and from them it appears, that he knew (what was unavoidable) that the Spaniards would resist, and would oppose the English landing and taking possession of the country. His intentions, therefore, were hostile from the beginning. 7. Without provocation, and even when at a distance, he gave Keymis orders to dislodge the Spaniards from their own town. Could any enterprise be more hostile? And, considering the Spaniards as allies to the nation, could any enterprise be more criminal? Was he not the aggressor, even though it should be true that the Spaniards fired upon his men at landing? It is said he killed three or four hundred of them. Is that so light a matter? 8. In his letter to the king, and in his apology, he grounds his defence on former hostilities exercised by the Spaniards against other companies of Englishmen. These are accounted for by the ambiguity of the treaty between the nations. And it is plain, that though these might possibly be reasons for the king's declaring war against that nation, they could never entitle Raleigh to declare war, and without any commission, or contrary to his commission, to invade the Spanish settlements. He pretends indeed that peace was never made with Spain in the Indies: a most absurd notion! The chief hurt which the Spaniards could receive from England was in the Indies; and they never would have made peace at all, if hostilities had been still to be continued on these settlements. By secret agreement, the English were still allowed to support the Dutch, even after the treaty of peace. If they had also been allowed to invade the Spanish settlements, the treaty had been a full peace to England, while the Spaniards were still exposed to the full effects of war. 9. If the claim to the property of that country, as first discoverers, was good, in opposition to present settlement, as Raleigh pretends, why was it not laid before the king with all its circumstances, and submitted to his judgment? 10. Raleigh's force is acknowledged by himself to have been insufficient to support him in the possession of St. Thomas, against the power of which Spain was master on that coast; yet it was sufficient, as he owns, to take by surprise and plunder twenty towns. It was not, therefore, his design to settle, but to plunder. By these confessions, which I have here brought together, he plainly betrays himself. 11. Why did he not stay and work his mine, as at first he projected? He apprehended that the Spaniards would be upon him with a greater force. But before he left England, he knew that this must be the case, if he invaded any part of the Spanish colonies. His intention, therefore, never was to settle, but only to plunder. 12. He acknowledges that he knew neither the depth nor riches of the mine, but only that there was some ore there. Would he have ventured all his fortune and credit on so precarious a foundation? 13. Would the other adventurers, if made acquainted with this, have risked every thing to attend him? Ought a fleet to have been equipped for an experiment? Was there not plainly an imposture in the management of this affair? 14. He says to Keymis, in his orders, bring but a basketful of ore, and it will satisfy the king that my project was not imaginary. This was easily done from the Spanish mines; and he seems to have been chiefly displeased at Keymis for not attempting it. Such a view was a premeditated apology to cover his cheat. 15. The king in his declaration imputes it to Raleigh, that as soon as he was at sea, he immediately fell into such uncertain and doubtful talk of his mine, and said, that it would be sufficient if he brought home a basketful of ore. From the circumstance last mentioned, it appears that this imputation was not without reason. 16. There are many other circumstances of great weight in the king's declaration : that Raleigh, when he fell down to Plymouth, took no pioneers with him, which he always declared to be his intention; that he was nowise provided with instruments for working a mine, but had a sufficient stock of warlike stores; that young Raleigh in attacking the Spaniards, employed the words which, in the narration, I have put in his mouth; that the mine was moveable, and shifted as he saw convenient: not to mention many other public facts, which prove him to have been highly criminal against his companions as well as his country. Howel, in his letters, says, that there lived in London, in 1645, an officer, a man of honour, who asserted that he heard young Raleigh speak these words, vol. ii. letter 63. That was a time when there was no interest in maintaining such a fact. 17. Raleigh's account of his first voyage to Guiana proves him to have been a man capable of the most extravagant credulity or most impudent imposture; so ridiculous are the stories which he tells

[merged small][ocr errors]

of the inca's chimerical empire in the midst of Guiana ; the rich city of El Dorado,
or Manao, two days' journey in length, and shining with gold and silver; the old
Peruvian prophecies in favour of the English, who, he says, were expressly named
as the deliverers of that country long before any European had ever touched
there; the Amazons, or republic of women; and in general, the vast and incre-
dible riches which he saw on that continent, where nobody has yet found any trea-
sures! This whole narrative is a proof that he was extremely defective either in
solid understanding, or morals, or both. No man's character, indeed, seems ever
to have been carried to such extremes as Raleigh's by the opposite passions of
envy and pity. In the former part of his life, when he was active and lived in
the world, and was probably best known, he was the object of universal hatred
and detestation throughout England; in the latter part, when shut up in prison,
he became, much more unreasonably, the object of great love and admiration.
As to the circumstances of the narrative, that Raleigh's pardon was refused him,
that his former sentence was purposely kept in force against him, and that he went
out under these express conditions, they may be supported by the following
authorities. 1. The king's word and that of six privy counsellors, who affirm it
for fact. 2. The nature of the thing. If no suspicion had been entertained of his
intentions, a pardon would never have been refused to a man to whom authority
was entrusted. 3. The words of the commission itself, where he is simply styled
Sir Walter Raleigh, and not faithful and well-beloved, according to the usual and
never-failing style on such occasions. 4. In all the letters which he wrote home
to Sir Ralph Winwood, and to his own wife, he always considers himself as a person
unpardoned and liable to the law. He seems indeed, immediately upon the failure
of his enterprise, to have become desperate, and to have expected the fate which
he met with.

It is pretended that the king gave intelligence to the Spaniards of Raleigh's project; as if he had needed to lay a plot for destroying a man whose life had been fourteen years, and still was in his power. The Spaniards wanted no other intelligence to be on their guard, than the known and public fact of Raleigh's armament and there was no reason why the king should conceal from them the project of a settlement, which Raleigh pretended, and the king believed, to be entirely innocent.

The king's chief blame seems to have lain in his negligence, in allowing Raleigh to depart without a more exact scrutiny but for this he apologizes by saying, that sureties were required for the good behaviour of Raleigh and all his associates in the enterprise, but that they gave in bonds for each other; a cheat which was not perceived till they had sailed, and which increased the suspicion of bad intentions.

Perhaps the king ought also to have granted Raleigh a pardon for his old treason, and to have tried him anew for his new offences. His punishment in that case would not only have been just, but conducted in a just and unexceptionable manner. But we are told that a ridiculous opinion at that time prevailed in the nation, (and it is plainly supposed by Sir Walter in his apology,) that, by treaty, war was allowed with the Spaniards in the Indies, though peace was made in Europe: and while that notion took place, no jury would have found Raleigh guilty. So that had not the king punished him upon the old sentence, the Spaniards would have had a just cause of complaint against the king, sufficient to have produced a war, at least to have destroyed all cordiality between the nations.

This explication I thought necessary, in order to clear up the story of Raleigh ; which though very obvious, is generally mistaken in so gross a manner, that I scarcely know its parallel in the English history.

NOTE [LL], p. 304.

This Parliament is remarkable for being the epoch in which were first regularly formed, though without acquiring these denominations, the parties of court and country; parties which have ever since continued, and which, while they oft threaten the total dissolution of the government, are the real cause of its permanent life and vigour. In the ancient feudal constitution, of which the English partook with other European nations, there was a mixture not of authority and liberty, which we have since enjoyed in this island, and which now subsist uniformly together; but of authority and anarchy, which perpetually shocked with each other, and which took place alternately, according as circumstances were more or less favourable to

either of them. A Parliament composed of barbarians, summoned from their fields and forests, uninstructed by study, conversation, or travel; ignorant of their own laws and history, and unacquainted with the situation of all foreign nations; a Parliament called precariously by the king, and dissolved at his pleasure; sitting a few days, debating a few points prepared for them, and whose members were impatient to return to their own castles, where alone they were great, and to the chase, which was their favourite amusement: such a Parliament was very little fitted to enter into a discussion of all the questions of government, and to share, in a regular manner, the legal administration. The name, the authority of the king alone appeared in the common course of government; in extraordinary emergencies, he assumed, with still better reason, the sole direction; the imperfect and unformed laws left, in every thing, a latitude of interpretation; and when the ends pursued by the monarch were, in general, agreeable to his subjects, little scruple or jealousy was entertained with regard to the regularity of the means. During the reign of an able, fortunate, or popular prince, no member of either House, much less of the lower, durst think of entering into a formed party, in opposition to the court; since the dissolution of the Parliament must, in a few days, leave him, unprotected, to the vengeance of his sovereign, and to those stretches of prerogative which were then so easily made in order to punish an obnoxious subject. During an unpopular and weak reign, the current commonly ran so strong against the monarch, that none durst enlist themselves in the court party; or if the prince was able to engage any considerable barons on his side, the question was decided with arms in the field, not by debates or arguments in a senate or assembly. And upon the whole, the chief circumstance which, during ancient times, retained the prince in any legal form of administration, was, that the sword, by the nature of the feudal tenures, remained still in the hands of his subjects; and this irregular and dangerous check had much more influence than the regular and methodical limits of the laws and constitution. As the nation could not be compelled, it was necessary that every public measure of consequence, particularly that of levying new taxes, should seem to be adopted by common consent and approbation. The princes of the house of Tudor, partly by the vigour of their administration, partly by the concurrence of favourable circumstances, had been able to establish a more regular system of government; but they drew the constitution so near to despotism, as diminished extremely the authority of the Parliament. The senate became, in a great degree, the organ of royal will and pleasure: opposition would have been regarded as a species of rebellion and even religion, the most dangerous article in which innovations could be introduced, had admitted, in the course of a few years, four several alterations, from the authority alone of the sovereign. The Parliament was not then the road to honour and preferment: the talents of popular intrigue and eloquence were uncultivated and unknown: and though that assembly still preserved authority, and retained the privilege of making laws and bestowing public money, the members acquired not, upon that account, either with prince or people, much more weight and consideration. What powers were necessary for conducting the machine of government, the king was accustomed, of himself, to assume. His own revenues supplied him with money sufficient for his ordinary expenses; and when extraordinary emergencies occurred, the prince needed not to solicit votes in Parliament, either for making laws or imposing taxes, both of which were now become requisite for public interest and preservation.

The security of individuals, so necessary to the liberty of popular councils, was totally unknown in that age. And as no despotic princes, scarcely even the eastern tyrants, rule entirely without the concurrence of some assemblies, which supply both advice and authority, little but a mercenary force seems then to have been wanting towards the establishment of a simple monarchy in England. The militia, though more favourable to regal authority than the feudal institutions, was much inferior, in this respect, to disciplined armies; and if it did not preserve liberty to the people, it preserved at least the power, if ever the inclination should arise, of recovering it.

But so low, at that time, ran the inclination towards liberty, that Elizabeth, the last of that arbitrary line, herself no less arbitrary, was yet the most renowned and most popular of all the sovereigns that had filled the throne of England. It was natural for James to take the government as he found it, and to pursue her measures, which he heard so much applauded; nor did his penetration extend so far as to discover, that neither his circumstances nor his character could support so extensive an authority. His narrow revenues and little frugality began now to render him dependent on his people, even in the ordinary course of administration :

their increasing knowledge discovered to them that advantage which they had obtained, and made them sensible of the inestimable value of civil liberty; and as he possessed too little dignity to command respect, and too much good nature to impress fear, a new spirit discovered itself every day in the Parliament; and a party, watchful of a free constitution, was regularly formed in the House of Commons.

But notwithstanding these advantages acquired to liberty, so extensive was royal authority, and so firmly established in all its parts, that it is probable the patriots of that age would have despaired of ever resisting it, had they not been stimulated by religious motives, which inspire a courage unsurmountable by any human obstacle.

The same alliance which has ever prevailed between kingly power and ecclesiastical authority was now fully established in England; and while the prince assisted the clergy in suppressing schismatics and innovators, the clergy, in return, inculcated the doctrine of an unreserved submission and obedience to the civil magistrate. The genius of the church of England, so kindly to monarchy, forwarded the confederacy; its submission to episcopal jurisdiction; its attachment to ceremonies, to order, and to a decent pomp and splendour of worship ; and, in a word, its affinity to the tame superstition of the catholics, rather than to the wild fanaticism of the puritans.

On the other hand, opposition to the church, and the persecutions under which they laboured, were sufficient to throw the puritans into the country party, and to beget political principles little favourable to the high pretensions of the sovereign. The spirit too of enthusiasm, bold, daring, and uncontrolled, strongly disposed their minds to adopt republican tenets; and inclined them to arrogate, in their actions and conduct, the same liberty which they assumed in their rapturous flights and ecstasies. Ever since the first origin of that sect, through the whole reign of Elizabeth as well as of James, puritanical principles had been understood in a double sense, and expressed the opinions favourable both to political and to ecclesiastical liberty: and as the court, in order to discredit all parliamentary opposition, affixed the denomination of puritans to its antagonists, the religious puritans willingly adopted this idea, which was so advantageous to them, and which confounded their cause with that of the patriots or country party. Thus were the civil and ecclesiastical factions regularly formed; and the humour of the nation during that age running strongly towards fanatical extravagances, the spirit of civil liberty gradually revived from its lethargy, and by means of its religious associate, from which it reaped more advantage than honour, it secretly enlarged its dominion over the greater part of the kingdom.

This note was in the first editions a part of the text; but the author omitted it, in order to avoid, as much as possible, the style of dissertation in the body of his history. The passage, however, contains views so important, that he thought it might be admitted as a


NOTE [MM], p. 312.

This protestation is so remarkable, that it may not be improper to give it in its own words. "The Commons now assembled in Parliament, being justly occasioned thereunto, concerning sundry liberties, franchises, and privileges of Parliament, amongst others here mentioned, do make this protestation following: That the liberties, franchises, and jurisdictions of Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England; and that the urgent and arduous affairs concerning the king, state, and defence of the realm, and of the church of England, and the maintenance and making of laws, and redress of mischiefs and grievances, which daily happen within this realm, are proper subjects and matter of council and debate in Parliament; and that in the handling and proceeding of those businesses, every member of the House of Parliament hath, and of right ought to have, freedom of speech to propound, treat, reason, and bring to conclusion the same and that the Commons in Parliament have like liberty and freedom to treat of these matters, in such order as in their judgment shall seem fittest; and that every member of the said House hath like freedom from all impeachment, imprisonment, and molestation, (other than by censure of the House itself,) for or concerning any speaking, reasoning, or declaring of any matter or matters touching the Parliament or parliament business; and that if any of the

said members be complained of, or questioned for any thing done or said in Parliament, the same is to be shown to the king by the advice and assent of all the Commons assembled in Parliament, before the king give credence to any private information." Franklyn, p. 65. Rushworth, vol. i. p. 53. Kennet, p. 747. Coke, p. 77.

NOTE [NN], p. 333.

The moment the prince embarked at St. Andero's, he said to those about him, that it was folly in the Spaniards to use him so ill, and allow him to depart; a proof that the duke had made him believe they were insincere in the affair of the marriage and the palatinate: for as to his reception in other respects, it had been altogether unexceptionable. Besides, had not the prince believed the Spaniards to be insincere, he had no reason to quarrel with them, though Buckingham had. It appears, therefore, that Charles himself must have been deceived. The multiplied delays of the dispensation, though they arose from accident, afforded Buckingham a plausible pretext for charging the Spaniards with insincerity.

NOTE [00], p. 334.

Among other particulars, he mentions a sum of 80,000 pounds borrowed from the King of Denmark. In a former speech to the Parliament, he told them, that he had expended 500,000 pounds in the cause of the palatine, besides the voluntary contribution given him by the people. See Franklyn, p. 50. But what is more extraordinary, the treasurer, in order to show his own good services, boasts to the Parliament, that, by his contrivance, 60,000 pounds had been saved in the article of exchange in the sums remitted to the palatine. This seems a great sum, nor is it easy to conceive whence the king could procure such vast sums as would require a sum so considerable to be paid in exchange. From the whole, however, it appears that the king had been far from neglecting the interests of his daughter and son-in-law, and had even gone far beyond what his narrow revenue could afford.

NOTE [PP], p. 335.

How little this principle had prevailed, during any former period of the English government, particularly during the last reign, which was certainly not so perfect a model of liberty as most writers would represent it, will easily appear from many passages in the history of that reign. But the ideas of men were much changed, during about twenty years of a gentle and peaceful administration. The Commons, though James, of himself, had recalled all patents of monopolies, were not contented without a law against them, and a declaratory law too; which was gaining a great point, and establishing principles very favourable to liberty: but they were extremely grateful when Elizabeth, upon petition, (after having once refused their requests,) recalled a few of the most oppressive patents, and employed some soothing expressions towards them.

The Parliament had surely reason, when they confessed, in the seventh of James, that he allowed them more freedom of debate than ever was indulged by any of his predecessors. His indulgence in this particular, joined to his easy temper, was probably one cause of the great power assumed by the Commons. Monsieur de la Boderie, in his Despatches, vol. i. p. 449, mentions the liberty of speech in the House of Commons as a new practice.

NOTE [QQ], p. 340.

Rymer, tom. xviii. p. 224. It is certain that the young Prince of Wales, afterwards Charles II., had Protestant governors from his early infancy: first the Earl of Newcastle, then the Marquis of Hertford. The king, in his memorial to foreign churches, after the commencement of the civil wars, insists on his care in educating his children in the Protestant religion, as a proof that he was nowise inclined to the Catholic. Rushworth, vol. v. p. 752. It can scarcely, therefore, be questioned, but this article, which had so odd an appearance, was inserted only to amuse the pope, and was never intended by either party to be executed.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »