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prevented the immediate landing of an English army in the Netherlands, for the purpose of supporting the cause of the Protestant claimants of those duchies, against the pretensions of Austria and Spain. Cecil's great fault was his want of constitutional principle,† a fault for which there is some excuse, when we consider that no statesman of that age was willing to admit the right of parliament to control the executive government.‡
11. Proceedings in the court. The King's unpopularity daily increased; and the character of his court degraded him still lower in popular estimation. He preferred the pleasures tiousness. of the table, and the amusements of the chase and the cockpit, to matters of public business; foreign ambassadors, as well as his own ministers of state, seldom had the opportunity of consulting him; and the players who ridiculed his foibles on the stage, represented him generally in a passion, sometimes cursing his hounds and his falcons, sometimes striking his servants, and drinking to intoxication at least once a day. His pernicious example gave a disgusting tone to the whole court, and in the balls, masks, and pageantries which the Queen gave, even her ladies appeared in a state of beastly drunkenness.§ And yet, in the midst of all this vice, two statutes were passed; the one imposing a fine upon common drunkards, and the other, upon common swearers, and the King wrote his famous "Counterblaste to Tobacco," to suppress the growing habit of smoking. There was one in the court to whom all these Saturnalian pastimes were exceedingly odious; this was James's eldest son, Henry, whose high spirit and great popularity mortified his father. The young prince prematurely died (October, 1612), to the great sorrow of the people, but little regretted by the King, who was jealous of his abilities and virtues. After his death, James had only one son remaining, Charles, and one daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Frederick, Count Palatine of the Rhine.
After the death of Cecil, the King gave himself up to favourites; first to Robert Carr, and next to George Villiers. Carr was equerry to Lord Hay, one of James's boon companions; an accident introduced him to the King, who taught him Latin, played familiar tricks with him, and gave him lands and titles. Being uneducated, Carr made Sir Thomas Overbury, an able and accomplished scholar, his secretary. He was opposed by Howard, Earl of Suffolk, lord chamberlain, and Howard, Earl of Northampton, lord privy seal. But he soon fell in love with
* See further in Lingard, IX., 123-126.
§ Lingard, IX., 88, Note,
Frances Howard, the daughter of Suffolk, and the wife of the Earl of Essex, and he proposed that she should sue for a divorce, in order that they might be married. Overbury violently opposed the marriage, on which he was sent to the Tower; and the lady, in her fury, offered £1000 to a gentleman, if he would take Overbury's life in a duel (April, 1813). When the divorce was brought into court, the King disgraced himself, by a personal interference in behalf of his favourite. The divorce was granted, and the parties were shortly afterwards married, in the royal chapel, Rochester having first been created Earl of Somerset (December, 1613.) The two court factions were now united ; but, in the meantime, an event had occurred which had considerably aggravated the King's unpopularity, and has left an indelible stain on his character and reign. On the day before the Countess of Essex was divorced, Sir Thomas Overbury died in the Tower (September 15th, 1613), under circumstances so suspicious, that a public inquiry was instituted two years Murder of afterwards, when Somerset's influence was on the decline, Overbury. the result of which was that Somerset and his countess were committed to the Tower, on a charge of having poisoned Overbury. Four persons, whom they had employed, were first tried, condemned, and executed (1615). In the following year, the countess was arraigned before the peers, when she pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to death; and the day following, Somerset received the same sentence. Within a few days, James, who had called upon God to curse him if he pardoned any, pardoned both of the criminals; but the earl refused to accept pardon, and threw out such insolent menaces against the King, "that it was evident he was master of some secret which it would have highly prejudiced the King's honour to divulge."* Whatever the secret was, the conduct of James, in these dark transactions, showed that he was terribly afraid of any exposure which Somerset might make; and before he died he reversed the sentence of death against the Earl, and privately renewed his correspondence with him.†
The fall of Somerset was followed by the disgrace of Coke. professional knowledge, Coke stood pre-eminent; but his notions were confined and illiberal, and his temper was proud and overbearing. He was a flatterer and tool of Coke. the court till he had obtained his ends; but no sooner was he promoted to the bench than he assumed a tone of independence and authority which surprised the King, and provoked the hostility of his rivals. Both the lord chancellor, Egerton, Lord Ellesmere, and
* Hallam, I., 352. + Ibid; Lingard, IX., 116-120; Knight's Pop. Hist., III., 365.
the attorney-general, Sir Francis Bacon, were objects of his envy ; the latter had long been his rival, and their mutual hatred never ceased till each, in his turn, had satiated his revenge by the other's fall. At this time, Bacon was high in the King's favour; and as the death or resignation of Ellesmere was daily expected, the attorney-general aspired to his office, while Coke considered that he had the prior claim. But the chief justice had given mortal offence to the King by the determined opposition he had made to the encroachments of the royal prerogative. During the session of 1610, Coke had seriously offended the King by declaring that a royal proclamation could not alter any part of the common law, nor create any new offence, without the sanction of parliament. In the case of one Peacham, again, a Puritan minister, of Somersetshire, and a notorious libeller,* Coke again stood out against the crown, declaring that it was contrary to the custom of the realm to confer with the judges privately, in order to obtain a favourable decision. A sermon against tyranny had been found in Peacham's study, on which the crown prosecuted him for high treason; but, as the sermon had never been published, Coke said that the accusation was illegal. He gave way, however, when he found that the other judges, who had been tampered with, did not agree with him. The next transaction in which this intrepid chief justice incurred the council's displeasure, was a dispute concerning the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, in which he contended that the equitable jurisdiction of that court ought not to be exercised after a judgment obtained at law.
But Coke's next offence exposed him more directly to the resentment of the court. A case happened to be argued in the Court of King's Bench, in which the validity of the grant of a benefice to a bishop, to be held in commendam, came into question, and the counsel at the bar had disputed the King's prerogative to make such a grant. James thereupon caused Bacon to write a letter to the chief justice, directing him not to proceed to judgment. Coke requested that similar letters should be written to the judges of all the courts, which being done, they all subscribed a document, certifying that they were bound by their oaths not to regard any such letters, which were contrary to law. The King, who was then at Newmarket, went into one of his usual fits of rage whenever
*Macaulay, Hallam, and Lord Campbell, give their account of this man, on the assumption that he was a simple, speculative country parson, who never dreamt of exciting disaffection against the government. But Hepworth Dixon, in his "Personal History of Lord Bacon," has shown that he merited the appellation given him in the Lext.
his prerogative was questioned, and coming to London, he summoned the twelve judges to appear before him. After a highflown harangue, in which he spoke more loftily than ever of his supreme and imperial power and sovereignty, all the judges, except Coke, tamely submitted, and promised to stay proceedings in their courts whenever the King required them. Coke only replied that he would do what should be fit for a judge to do, and shortly afterwards he was suspended from his office and dismissed (November 15th, 1616). Though the influence of Buckingham, he was recalled in about three years to the privy council; in the parliament of 1621, and still more conspicuously in that of 1628, he became the strenuous asserter of liberty, on the principles of those ancient laws which no one knew so well as himself, thus redeeming, in an intrepid and patriotic old age, the faults of his earlier life.*
12. "The Addled Parliament." In the meantime, James had been compelled to call another parliament, which assembled April 5th, 1614. As the previous parliament had not granted any sufficient subsidies, James had had recourse to loans and benevolences. He also sold several peerages, and created a new order of hereditary knights, called baronets, who paid for their patents. These resources were all inadequate, and it became indispensable to try the temper of parliament once more. In order to secure a decided majority in favour of the court, Bacon, Sir Henry Neville, and others, undertook to superintend the elections, and draw over those who were elected to the King's side; for which reason they were called Undertakers. But so hostile Underwere the people to the government, that the scheme failed. takers. Instead of passing to the consideration of the supply, the Commons began at once to attack monopolies and impositions. In the course of a debate in the House of Lords, Neyle, Bishop of Lichfield, threw out some aspersions on the Commons, which set them in a ferment. Neyle had made himself very unpopular by his severity towards the Puritans, and by the share he had taken in the Earl of Essex's divorce. The Commons, therefore, did not fail to enlarge upon all his faults; and the end of it was, that the bishop had to withdraw, "with many tears," the offensive words imputed to him. This ill humour of the Commons disconcerted the plans of the undertakers, and exhausted the King's patience. He commanded the house to consider the supply, and threatened to dissolve the parliament unless they immediately obeyed. But the days of intimidation were now gone by; the house voted that
*Hallam, I., 342-319,
the consideration of a supply should be postponed till a redress of grievances had been granted; on which the King hastily dissolved them (June 8th, 1614). They had sat about two months, and had not passed a single bill; from which circumstance this parliament was called, in the quaint language of the time, The Addled Parliament. The next day, the most violent and refractory members were called before the council, and five of them committed to the Tower.
13. Affairs of Scotland.
The reformed church of Scotland, as founded by Knox, was, in reality, a religious republic. Each parish had its minister, lay elder, and deacon, Scotch who held their kirk session, or parochial assembly, for spiritual jurisdicKirk. tion, and other purposes. A certain number of these assemblies, classed together, constituted the presbytery, which heard appeals, pronounced censures, and regulated the ministry. A certain number, again, of these presbyteries formed the provincial synod, which was presided over by a superintendent; and, above all, was the general assembly, composed of all parish ministers, and certain delegated elders; which was supreme on earth, and owed allegiance to none but Christ. This form of polity was set up in 1560; but it was never legally established by parliament a fact which accounts for that independence of the state which the Scottish church has always enjoyed. As the Roman Catholic bishops died off, they were replaced by Protestants, who were partially recognised as resists the . bishops, though they were not consecrated, and had no ment of more power than the rest of the clergy. Led by Andrew episcopacy. Melville, the general assembly enjoined these bishops to resign their offices. Some refused to obey, and were backed by the court. In 1584, a series of acts were passed, restoring the episcopal government almost to its original condition; but three years later, King James annexed most of the episcopal lands to the crown, and, in 1592, the Presbyterian system was fully established by act of parliament. The government had been driven to these proceedings by the fierce demands of the people for a Presbyterian establishment. The Scottish ministers who followed Knox were, like their great master, men of a bold and untameable character; they were acute in disputation, eloquent, learned, and intensely zealous; and they wielded the people at will. Their republican system of government led them to discuss the authority of the civil magistrate, and to inculcate principles of resistance to unjust and despotic sovereigns in their pulpits as well as in their assemblies; they perpetually remonstrated against the misgovernment of the court, and the personal failings of the King; and, in 1584, when Andrew Melville was summoned to appear before the council, to answer for some language he had