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and sole disposer of all peerages, offices, and ecclesiastical preferments and honours in all the three kingdoms (1614-1618). Under his auspices the court assumed a gayer appearance than it had hitherto worn; balls, masks, and festivities rapidly followed each other; and it was in the low buffoonery with which these amusements were marked, that the King acquired the title of your sowship." The gaieties of the court scandalised the Puritans, who were already offended at the pastimes which James had publicly authorised on the Sunday; and they everywhere declaimed against the libertinism of the court, and denounced the licentious gallants who frequented it. And, certainly, they did not exaggerate; for corruption and bribery, the most shameful and degrading vices, even incest and murder, were not unknown in this degenerate court.
His life in prison.
16. Execution of Sir Walter Raleigh. Sir Walter Raleigh had now been a prisoner in the Tower more than twelve years, which were probably the best years of his life, because the better part of his fame rests upon the works he then produced. It was during this compulsory seclusion that he wrote his observations on the royal navy and the sea service, which he dedicated to Prince Henry; he composed his various political discourses, and, two years before his enlargement, he published his History of the World. Encouraged, also, by the Earl of Northumberland, "the Mecænas of the age," Raleigh made experiments in chemistry and medicine, and a cordial which he invented was for a long time esteemed as a precious remedy for desperate and incurable diseases. In an evil hour these tranquil studies were exchanged for the old schemes of adventure in the Spanish Main. The dream of a gold mine in Guiana had never ceased to haunt his imagination, since his first visit to that Guiana. country in 1595, and he had kept up his communications with the natives ever since. Through the mediation of Villiers, Raleigh obtained his liberty, but not the repeal of the sentence under which he lay (March, 1619); and he followed this advantage by obtaining, through the secretary, Winwood, the King's permission to fit out an expedition to Guiana for the purpose of colonising it, and taking possession of the gold mines. James, desirous to be on good terms with the Spanish court, even at the price of honour, either revealed to Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, the full strength and object of Raleigh's expedition, or else connived at the ambassador's obtaining a sight of the patent. Gondomar, consequently, sent full information of Raleigh's
* See Lingard, IX., 162, Note.
purposes to his brother, the governor of St. Thomas, so that, when the expedition reached Guiana, the Spaniards were prepared for resistance. But Raleigh took the town of St. Thomas, after a sharp action, in which the governor and Sir Walter's son were slain. The mine, however, was not discovered; and Raleigh returned home, his great spirit crushed, and nothing before him but danger and reproach. When James had granted the patent, he had stipulated for a share of the profits of the enterprise, and the favourite had been influenced by the same expectations. But the failure of the expedition disappointed their cupidity, and Gondomar, who was enraged at the death of his brother, was now supreme at the court, and was negotiating a marriage between Prince Charles and the Infanta. Raleigh's fate thus lay in the hands of a malignant ambassador, and a revengeful King. After he had landed at Plymouth, he was immediately arrested, His arrest and conducted to the Tower. He was then examined execution. before a committee of privy councillors, upon the charge of having invaded the territory of a friendly power, in defiance of the King's prohibition, and under the fraudulent pretence that he went to discover a gold mine. He denied these charges with constancy and boldness; but this was of no avail, his death having been determined upon. James, to please Spain, offered to send Raleigh at once to Philip for execution, or to inflict prompt and exemplary punishment upon him in England. The Spanish King left the victim to the tender mercies of his English brother. It was then determined that Raleigh should be executed under his former sentence; but, as the judges held that the warrant for execution could not be issued after so long a time had elapsed since judgment, without again bringing up the prisoner to plead, Raleigh was again placed at the bar of King's Bench. He there pleaded that the commission which the King had granted him, by giving him power of life and death over others, was equivalent to a pardon. But the chief justice answered, that, in cases of treason, pardon must not be implied, but expressed; execution was, therefore, granted, Hitherto Raleigh, in the hope of saving his life, had resorted to various shifts and expedients; but now that all hope was gone, he displayed a fortitude worthy of his great character and heroic genius. He received the sacrament, and declared his forgiveness of all persons; he displayed no fear of death, but was "resolute and confident, yet with reverence and conscience." He made a manly speech on the scaffold, defending himself from the slanders which had been raised against him; but he made no allusion to the treason for which he had been
originally condemned, nor sought to justify the conduct which had brought him to the scaffold. Taking the axe in his hand, he felt the edge, and observed, with a smile, that it was a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all diseases. He then laid his head on the block, and, at the second blow, his head was cut off. His widow piously preserved it during the twenty-nine years that she survived him; and it is supposed to have been buried with their son, Carew, at West Horsley, in Surrey.
17. The War in the Palatinate. The execution of Raleigh occurred, most unfortunately for James, just at a time when the nation was excited by the news of a fresh religious war in Germany. The two religious parties in Germany had now been at peace for some years. But in 1618, some disputes arose concerning the erection of some Calvinist churches, in the archbishopric of Prague, and while they were at their height, the Emperor died (1619), and Ferdinand, of Gratz, a zealous Romanist, was elected his successor. Now the Bohemian crown was attached to the imperial dignity, and as the Bohemians were Protestants, they opposed this election, and raised the Elector Palatine of Bavaria to their own throne (November, 1619). The intelligence of this event excited a delirium of joy in England, and was the signal for a general array of hostile forces throughout Europe. The whole nation called upon the King to support the cause of his son-in-law, but James at first refused, and while the armies of Austria and Spain were gathering to invade the Palatinate, and zealous volunteers were waiting on the English shores to go and do battle, as in the glorious days of Elizabeth, for the cause of Protestantism, this English Solomon was acting with his usual imbecility and hesitation. To the Protestant deputies whom the Elector sent over, he professed an ardent desire to assist his sonin-law, while to the Spanish ambassador, he solemnly protested that the marriage of his son Charles with the Infanta, and a Spanish alliance, were the greatest desires of his heart. At length, the Palatinate was invaded, and James dared no longer resist the determination of his people; 4,000 men were reluctantly despatched, not, however, to support the Elector upon the Bohemian throne, but only to assist in defending his hereditary dominions. Such scanty succours as these would have availed nothing against the numerous hosts of the imperialists, led by such a general as the celebrated Spinola; but they came too late, Frederic was defeated at Prague (November 7th, 1620), and being speedily driven from his own dominions, he wandered with his family through the north of Germany, an exile and a suppliant, till he
reached the Hague, where he lived on the bounty of the United States. The intelligence of these disasters roused the anger of the people of England to an unwonted pitch, and the Puritans considered that the church of God had not received such a great blow since the days of Martin Luther. With popular feeling in this state, it was but natural that James should look forward to the meeting of parliament with considerable misgivings.
18. Meeting of Parliament. 1621. The new parliament met on the 30th of January, 1621, and was opened by the King in a conciliatory speech, full of hopes and promises, as on former occasions. After enacting some fresh statutes concerning recusants, and considering certain privileges of the house which had been violated at the close of the last parliament, the Commons granted two small subsidies, and then proceeded boldly to the redress of grievances.
The first abuse which they attacked, was that of monopolies granted by patent. Notwithstanding that many of these patents had been abolished by previous parliaments, their number was as great as ever. The government was chiefly responsible for these exactions, because it connived at them, and found them the best substitutes for a subsidy; but the popular odium fell upon the monopolists. One of the most obnoxious of these was Sir Giles Mompesson, who had obtained patents for the Impeachexclusive manufacture of gold and silver thread, for the Mompesson inspection of inns and hostelries, and for the licensing of inns and alehouses. The investigation into these patents disclosed an immense amount of fraud and oppression, and Mompesson, no longer trusting to the protection of the favourite, who had been his patron hitherto, fled beyond sea; but his colleague, Sir Francis Michell, a justice of the peace, was arrested and sent to the Tower. The Commons, however, seemed to have entertained doubts of their competence to inflict punishment upon these offenders, because the offences were not against their particular house, but were general grievances, and nearly 200 years had elapsed since they had exercised their right of impeachment. But the Commons, after having searched the records, now revived this ancient mode of proceeding, though they did not conduct this particular case according to all the forms.
They first requested a conference with the Lords, and informed them generally of Mompesson's offence, but did not exhibit any distinct articles. The Lords then took up the enquiry, and having satisfied themselves of Mompesson's guilt, sent a message to the Commons that they were ready to pronounce sentence. The speaker, accordingly, attended by all the house, demanded judgment at the bar: when the Lords passed as heavy a sentence as could be awarded for any misdemeanour, to
which the King, by a stretch of prerogative which no one was then inclined to call in question, added perpetual banishment.*
The impeachment of Mompesson was followed up by others against Michell, his associate; against Sir John Bennet, judge of the Prerogative Court, for corruption in his office; against Field, Bishop of Llandaff, for bribery; and against Yelverton, the attorney-general, for participation in Mompesson's proceedings. In fact, this was an age of universal corruption; magistrates and officers of every position were alike guilty of the prevailing iniquity, and local magistrates were nick-named "basket justices," because of the bribes they were in the habit of receiving.t
The greatest man of that age came next under the stroke of Impeach- this terrible weapon of impeachment. This was the Bacon. lord chancellor, Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, whose versatile abilities and majestic eloquence won the admiration of his contemporaries; but whose vanity and extravagance, and want of honesty, excited general disgust. Complaints poured in against him for receiving bribes from the suitors in his court; the Commons made twenty-two distinct charges against him; he attempted no defence, and seeing that the court would not protect him, he made a clear confession, in writing, of all the charges; adding that this confession was his own voluntary act. "It is my act," he said, "my hand, my heart." He was spared the mortification of kneeling as a criminal at the bar of the house where he had so long presided as chancellor, but he was sentenced to a fine of £40,000; to imprisonment in the Tower during the King's pleasure; to be incapable of holding any office, or of sitting in parliament, and not to come within the verge of the court. The King remitted the fine, and released the fallen minister after an imprisonment of a few days. He died in the fifth year after his disgrace (1626). The impeachment and fall of Bacon has been attributed by some to the animosity of Coke, and the intrigues of Villiers. But the former took no prominent share in this prosecution, and the latter felt too much the need of the chancellor's deep sagacity and extensive observation, to assist in crushing his best and wisest adviser. It is to the House of Commons alone, that we must attribute Bacon's disgrace; they saw that the time had come for striking at the root of official corruption, and they struck down the chancellor, not because he was more guilty than others, but that his punishment might be a signal example to lesser offenders. While there was thus much
* Hallam, I., 357. + See Massinger's Bondman, act ii., scene 3. Much light has been thrown upon this matter in Hepworth Dixon's "Personal History of Lord Bacon."