Изображения страниц


confusion caused by an explosion of gunpowder, in the midst of which, those who remained were surprised by the sheriff of Worcestershire, and either captured or slain. Among the latter were Catesby, Percy, and the two Wrights; eight only were taken, all of whom suffered on the scaffold (January 30th, 1606). Of the three Jesuits who were implicated, Gerard and Greenway escaped to the Continent; but Garnet was discovered at Hendlip House, Worcestershire.


arrested at Hendiip House

This house, which had been built by Thomas Abingdon, brother-in-law of Lord Mounteagle, and a decided recusant, was in every way adapted for the concealment of Jesuits and Papists. There were staircases concealed in the walls; hiding places in chimneys; trapdoors; double wainscots; and the entrance into the chamber where Garnet lay concealed was from an upper room through the fire-place, the wooden border of the hearth being made to take up and put down like a trap-door, the bricks being taken out and replaced whenever the door was used. The officers were eight days in searching the house before they discovered this retreat, during which, Garnet and Oldcorne, a priest who was secreted with him, were fed through a reed with broths and warm drinks, the reed being inserted in an aperture in the chimney of an adjoining chamber, which backed the chimney in their hiding place. Two servants of the priests were taken at the same time, and all, except Garnet, were racked; but they revealed nothing, and one of the servants killed himself in dread of further torture. The gaoler then affected kindness toward the two priests, and gave them access to each other. But all their conversation was overheard by Cecil and others, who had secreted themselves in the walls; by which facts were obtained which proved that Garnet had some knowledge of the general scope of the plot. On the information thus obtained, he was brought to trial, and condemned to death. In the examinations he underwent, he had first denied that he had ever conversed with Oldcorne in prison; but afterwards he confessed it, and, in extenuation of his falsehood, said that no man was bound to betray himself, and that, where the acknowledgement of a fact might endanger life, it was lawful to deny it, with equivocation, till it should be proved by direct evidence; and, upon further examination, he declared that an oath might be lawfully used to confirm such equivocation. "To these and similar avowals," says Lingard,* I ascribe his execution. By seeking shelter under equivocation, he had deprived himself of the protection which truth might have afforded him; nor could he, in such circumstances, reasonably complain if the King refused credit to his asseverations of innocence, and permitted the law to take its course." Garnet's opinions were not shared by the majority of the Roman Catholics, any more than they approved of Catesby's murderous project; yet the government availed. * History, IX., 67.



Increased severities

upon Roman


itself of the opportunity to extend the existing sanguinary and oppressive enactments under which the papists Catholics. suffered. New penalties were inflicted upon the Catholics, in all their several capacities of masters, servants, husbands, parents, children, heirs, executors, patrons, barristers, and physicians.

They could not appear at court, nor live within ten miles of the city of London; and on no occasion could they move more than five miles from their homes without a written license, signed by four magistrates. They could hold no offices of trust, either public or private; their marriages, unless solemnised by a Protestant minister, were of no account in law; and if their children were not baptized or buried by a Protestant minister, they were fined for the first £100, for the second £20. Their children who were educated abroad were deprived of their rights of inheritance; every Roman Catholic was outlawed, all the penalties for absence from church were extended, and a new oath of allegiance was devised in order to ascertain those who admitted the temporal pretensions of the Pope. The standing argument throughout the seventeenth century for this denial of liberty of conscience, and for all these persecuting enactments, was the Gunpowder Treason, whose traditions lingered on through the eighteenth century to support the same oppressive tyranny. But happily for our own day, these traditions now scarcely survive even in popular prejudice, because, with the spread of knowledge, there has grown up a spirit of charity and justice; we have ceased to prosecute or exclude for religious opinions, and we have, therefore, nothing to fear from a fanatic like Catesby, or a casuist like Garnet.*

Session of 1606-7.

9. Proceedings in Parliament, 1606-1611. The chief object for which the parliament had been summoned to meet in November was to supply the royal coffers, the King not having, as yet, received any subsidy. In November, 1606, parliament again met; and the chief business entered into was, James's favourite scheme of a perfect union between England and Scotland. But beyond the abrogation of the laws which treated the Scots as foreigners and enemies, nothing was done in this respect, although the matter had been discussed in 1604, and was again considered in 1607 and 1610. During the conferences, however, which James held with the parliament, it was decided by the judges that all persons born under the King's obedience were, by that very circumstance, naturalised in all places under his dominion at the time of their birth (1608).

The time of this session was mainly occupied in bickerings between the King and the Commons on matters of privilege. The government was jealous of any interference of the Commons - in the conduct of public affairs. This was particularly shown Knight's Pop. Hist., III., 337,


with respect to the peace made with Spain in 1604. The terms of this treaty were unsatisfactory. Spain claimed the exclusive navigation of the southern seas, and treated all English vessels found there as pirates. In 1607, the merchants complained to the Commons of the grievances they thus endured; the Commons prayed for a conference with the Lords on the subject, and when the conference was held, Cecil and the Earl of Northampton spoke against the interference of the Commons in so high a matter. The latter apparently acquiesced in this rather contemptuous treatment, though they might have produced several precedents, especially during the reigns of Richard II. and Henry VI., wherein they had assumed a right of advising in matters of peace and war.

Although James obtained few supplies from his parliament, he was very extravagant in his expenditure, and the lord Session of treasurer constantly found himself in difficulties. He 1610. was not only wasteful in his own household, giving costly presents and entertainments, but he gave his children expensive establishments; and at times his poverty was so great, that he lacked provisions for his own table. The treasurer, therefore, had recourse to very illegal measures, and additional duties were arbitrarily imposed upon almost every article of foreign commerce. One of these was laid upon currants, which Bates, a Turkey merchant, refusing to pay, the Court of Exchequer gave judgment against him (June, 1609). The immediate consequence of this decision was, the imposition of heavy duties upon almost all merchandise. But when parliament re-assembled (February, 1610), the Commons remonstrated, and two members, learned lawyers, made two'elaborate speeches, proving the illegality of these impositions, when the King forbade them to dispute the right he had thus exercised, couching his commands in the most arrogant tone of despotism. Kings, he said, were the representatives and images of God, and were possessed of His attributes. The souls and bodies of their subjects belonged to them, and the denial of this power to them was as much sedition, as it was blasphemy to deny the power of God. These high and mighty pretensions naturally excited the opposition of the Commons. They speedily remonstrated against them, and the arguments and precedents they produced in defence of the principle, that no sovereign in England can make laws or impose taxes upon the people, their goods, and their merchandise, without consent of parliament, were such, that not even the eloquence and ingenuity * 'Lingard, IX., 94; Aikin's Memoirs, I., 350,


and tem


of Sir Francis Bacon, the solicitor-general, could overcome them. The bill, however, which they brought in to abolish the illegal impositions was rejected in the upper house.* That the ComDisputes mons had reason for their apprehensions of the crown the spiritual assuming absolute power may be seen in the fact, that poral courts. the pretensions which James set up were supported by all who sought his favour, and especially by the high churchmen. The canons which convocation drew up in 1606 denounced, as erroneous, a number of tenets considered hostile to monarchical power, and affirmed opinions upon the origin of government utterly destructive of the liberty of the subject, and altogether contrary to the mixed and limited monarchy of England. The object of the clergy in thus enhancing the pretensions of the crown so enormously was, to gain its sanction and support for their own claims. The ancient rivalry which had existed between the ecclesiastical and temporal courts still continued, and, as the latter retained their supremacy, and frequently prohibited the former whenever they transgressed their proper limits, Bancroft, the archbishop, presented to the court of Star Chamber (1605) a series of petitions, called Articuli Cleri, in which it was stated that both the temporal and spiritual courts derived their authority from the King, and that the temporal courts had no right to prohibit the other courts, except by the King's authority. But the judges, led by Coke, steadily resisted these attacks; and distinctly declared that nothing less than an act of parliament could affect the proceedings of the courts of law, or alter the established course of justice. The archbishop, however, did not choose to consult the parliament, knowing how little he had to hope from the Commons; but he did not give up his attempts.

At his solicitation, and with the King's approbation, Dr. Cowell, an eminent Cowell's civilian, published a law dictionary, called "The Interpreter," in which, Interpreter under the heads of "king," "subsidy," "parliament," and "prerogative," he laid down principles subversive of the liberty of the subject. The King was absolute, and above all law; by his prerogative he could make laws without consent of parliament, which assembled only by his grace and favour, and not by right.. Such monstrous statements gave very just scandal to the Commons, who showed such a determination to resist, that James found it necessary to suppress the book by a royal proclamation, and to place Cowell under arrest. By such proceedings were the Commons lawyers set against the government, and prepared for joining, in the next reign, with the Puritans in all measures of opposition to the crown.† The session 1610 was closed by a negotiation concerning the abolition of wardships. But neither King nor Commons could agree about the income which should compensate the crown for

*Hallam, I., 315-322. + Ibid, 322-325.


[ocr errors]

the loss of revenue; and, as all the abuses of monopolies, purveyance, illegal impositions, and proclamations, and the unconstitutional proceedings of the High Commission Court still continued, the Commons refused, at last, to chaffer any further with the King, who dissolved the parliament in great disgust (February 9th, 1611). It had sat nearly seven years.

10. Death of Cecil. His character and policy. All these troubles were sources of the bitterest vexation to Cecil; his constitution sank under the depression of his spirits; the waters of Bath produced no alleviation, and he expired at Marlborough, on his way back to London (May 24th, 1612). Cecil was never a popular man, and his abilities as a statesman have always been considerably underrated. He has never gained credit for the mischiefs in James's government which he prevented, while he has been made responsible for all those which he was compelled to endure. This is unjust, because in that age kings did not speak the language which their ministers dictated, nor did they adopt the policy which their ministers advised. But Cecil made himself personal enemies by his conduct towards Raleigh and Essex, and by the honours which he acquired. It was believed that the desire shown by the House of Commons to abolish feudal wardships, proceeded in a great measure from the circumstance that he was master of the court of wards,—an influential and extremely lucrative office. But he readily offered to abolish it. It was in his management, however, of the King's foreign relations, that he showed his greatest ability. His slow and cautious policy, the fertility with which he invented expedients to disguise his own projects, and the sagacity with which he discovered the designs of foreign courts, commanded the respect of all his rivals, and secured him the highest place in James's confidence. Having been one of Elizabeth's ministers, he retained some of her jealousy of Spain, as well as her regard for Protestant interests; and had it not been for his firmness and prudence, James would have entered into a connexion with Spain, ruinous to himself and the kingdom. Owing, however, to the minister's wisdom, England inclined more to the side of the United Provinces and the King of France, than to Spain, although she preserved outwardly a strict neutrality; by her mediation the great truce of twelve years between Spain and Holland was concluded in 1609; and when the dispute concerning the succession to the duchies of Cleves and Juliers threatened to mingle in arms the Catholic and Protestant parties throughout Europe, the councils of England, guided by Cecil, were full of vigour and promptitude, and it was only the assassination of Henry IV. which

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »