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The Reign of James I (Continued) page 18

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Thus was James, after twenty years of peace, except in the character of an ally of his son-in-law, launched into a war. The Spaniards ridiculed the idea; for on the authority of Gondomar, they had conceived not only a very contemptible idea of James, but that the kingdom was poor, torn with religious factions, and feeble from the timid and vacillating character of the king. Only one peer, the earl of Rutland, had the good sense to oppose the vote for the war.

The restraint of the desire to please Spain during the negotiations for the marriage being removed, the houses of parliament indulged their old hatred of the catholics by uniting in a petition to the king to renew their persecution. James again protested that he never intended to abolish those laws, and would never consent to the insertion of a clause in any treaty whatever, binding him to an indulgence of catholics. And Charles also bound himself by an oath, that "whenever it should please God to bestow upon him any lady that were popish, she should have no further liberty but for her own family, and no advantage to any recusants at home."

Accordingly a proclamation was issued, ordering all missionaries to quit the kingdom by a certain day under penalty of death; judges and magistrates were ordered to enforce the laws as aforetime; the lord mayor was enjoined to arrest all persons coming from mass in the houses of the ambassadors, and the bishops were called upon to advise the king how the children of the papists might be brought up protestants. The commons called on every member to name all catholics holding office in his town or county, and prepared a list of them, which they sent to the lords; but the lords declared that before they could unite in a prayer for the dismissal of any one, they must have evidence of his guilt; and thus the vindictive scheme fell to the ground.

The commons, checked in this quarter, turned their attention to their more legitimate prosecution of jobbers and holders of injurious patents. They presented a list of eleven such grievances to the king, who replied that he had his grievances too: they had encroached on his prerogatives; they had condemned patents of unquestionable usefulness; and had been guided in their quest after them by lawyers, who, he would say it to their faces, were in the whole kingdom the greatest grievances of all; for where a suit was of no benefit to either litigant, they took care to make it so to themselves. But this did not prevent them flying at high game. Buckingham had never forgiven Cranfield, earl of Middlesex, and lord treasurer, for turning against him in his absence; and the opposition party, with whom the duke was now connected, took the lead in prosecuting him on a charge of bribery, oppression, and neglect of duty. James was indignant at this attack, but had not resolution enough to ward it off; though he told Buckingham that he was a fool, and making a rod for his own breech, and Charles that he would live to have his bellyful of impeachments.

Cranfield denied the charges stoutly, and defended himself with much vigour, loudly complaining of the overbearing position of the persons who were really pitched against him. He complained, too, very justly, of the unfairness practised towards him. That his enemies had taken three weeks to prepare the charges against him, but that he was only allowed three days for his defence; that they relieved each other in pressing the examination, and employed the most eminent lawyers, whilst he was not allowed a single counsel, but was compelled to stand at the bar for eight hours together. Certainly a more barefaced piece of oppression had rarely been seen. Many believed him innocent, and prosecuted from private malice; but the lords condemned him to a fine of fifty thousand pounds, to be imprisoned during his majesty's pleasure, and for ever excluded from office, from parliament, and the verge of the court. Having refused justice to Cranfield, the peers immediately took measures to protect themselves from the reaction of their conduct. They passed a resolution that, in future, the accused should be

furnished in good time with the articles of his impeachment, and be allowed counsel learned in the law. Cranfield procured from the king the reduction of the fine to twenty thousand pounds, and his release in the course of the following summer.

Williams, the lord-keeper, had also a narrow escape, Notwithstanding his supple cringing at the feet of Buckingham, that haughty favourite had by no means forgiven him; petitions against him were presented to the committee of inquiry, but he again sued humbly to Buckingham, and having had the opportunity during the session of doing him a service, he let him off with the proud remark, "I shall not seek your ruin, but I shall cease to study your fortune."

The Spanish ambassadors, smarting under the insults and injuries to their country which Buckingham had inflicted, and was still seeking to inflict, made a daring effort to open the eyes of the king. For three months the ambassador^ the marquis Ynoiosa and Don Carlos Coloma, had found all their efforts vain to procure a private audience of the king. Buckingham or Charles always took care to be present. At length Coloma hit upon the expedient of engaging both the prince and Buckingham in conversation, whilst Ynoiosa slipped a note adroitly into James's hand. The king pocketed it without being observed, and the consequence was that the same evening he sent the earl of Kelly to bring to him secretly Carendolet, the secretary of the legation. Carendolet informed James that what the Spanish ambassadors wished was to make his majesty aware that he was a prisoner in his own palace; that he was surrounded by spies and informers, and that no person on business could approach but such as it pleased Buckingham to admit. That, in consequence, to gratify the private spite of Buckingham, the kingdom was rushing on great miseries, and making enemies of those who desired to be real friends.

James was struck with astonishment, promised secrecy, and three days after admitted Carendolet again, who this time brought from the ambassadors their statement in writing, which was to the following effect: - "1. That the king was no more a free man at this time than king John of France when he was prisoner in England, or king Francis when he was at Madrid, being besieged and closed up with the servants and vassals of Buckingham. 2. That the ambassadors knew very well, and were informed four months ago, that his majesty was to be restrained, and confined to his country house and pastimes, and the government of the state to be assumed and disposed of by others; and that this was not concealed by Buckingham's followers. 3. That the duke had reconciled himself to all the popular men of the state, and drawn them forth out of prisons, restraints, and confinements, to alter the government of the state at this parliament, as Oxford, Southampton, Say, and others, whom he met at suppers and ordinances, to strengthen his popularity. 4. That the duke, to breed an opinion of his own greatness, and to make the king grow less, hath oftentimes bragged openly in parliament that he had made the king yield to this and that, and that he mentioned openly before the house his majesty's private oath, which the ambassadors have never spoken of to any creature to this hour. 5. That these kingdoms are not now governed by a monarchy, but by a triumviri, whereof Buckingham was the first and chiefest, the prince the second, and the king the last, and that all looked towards solem orientem. 6. That his majesty should show himself to be, as he was reputed, the ablest and wisest king in Europe, by freeing himself from this captivity and imminent danger wherein he was, by cutting off so dangerous and ungrateful an affector of greatness and popularity as the duke was.

This paper was admirably adapted to work on the vanity and self-love of the king, and had he possessed any real wisdom and firmness, might have produced great consequences. But unfortunately it was addressed to a mere babbling and incontinent pretender to these qualities, and was certain to miscarry.

As the reading of the paper proceeded, James displayed more and more agitation, yet he frequently interrupted Carendolet to express his confidence in his son, and his power to crush Buckingham whenever he pleased. The secretary assured him that the secret treaty regarding Holland, in which something in the prospect of the Spanish match had been conceded which James was most anxious to conceal, as well as his private oath to abolish the penal statutes against the papists, had been disclosed by Bucking-ham to his new associates at their private suppers. This seemed to rouse James, who said "that when his highness went to Spain, he was as well affected to that country as heart could desire, and as well disposed as any son in Europe; but now he was strangely carried away with rash and youthful councils, and followed the humour of Buckingham, who had he knew not how many devils within him since that journey." Still he was staggered at the belief that Buckingham was courting popularity at his expense, for he said he had tried him many times, by setting him to make unpopular motions in the house, which he had always done freely. He begged Carendolet, however, to procure him from the ambassadors specific grounds for a charge against him, and that he would then take a course with him; confessing so far the truth of their assertion, that he had no servant of his own who would dare to do it. So sincere did he appear in this purpose, that he sent father Maestro, a Jesuit, to the ambassadors, to urge them forward in this business.

So far all was promising, but neither Buckingham nor Charles were yet aware of the storm brewing. So soon as they found something amiss they would speedily worm out the secret, and the danger would recoil on the heads of the daring Spaniards.

Accordingly, the next morning James appeared with a lowering aspect, and a confused manner. His conversation was broken and enigmatical, and soon after taking coach for Windsor, he bade his son accompany him and the duke stay behind. Buckingham was thunderstruck, and coming to the carriage door with tears in his eyes, implored the king to say in what he had offended him; vowing that he would in the name of Christ clear himself, or make a faithful confession. James made no reply, but drove off blubbering like a schoolboy, and lamenting that in his old age he was betrayed by those who were dearest to him. He went on and let out enough to Charles to put him and Buckingham upon the track of a full discovery. There was no lack of spies and detectives in their service, and Williams, the lord-keeper, the most subtle and powerful of them, was soon in possession of the whole secret. He had a mistress, who was also the mistress of Carendolet, and he had seen enough of the Spanish movement of late to suspect the quarter whence the trouble came. He soon, therefore, made his appearance at Buckingham's house, where he found the duke in the utmost despair, conscious that he had for some time been losing the favour of James. He had pumped sufficient out of the woman to be able to seize a catholic priest in Drury Lane, who she said was in the full confidence of her lover, Carendolet. As this priest by the late proclamation was liable to be put to death for being found in the country, Williams quickly terrified him out of the whole secret, and with the draft of the paper in his hand which had been given to the king, at once enlightened Buckingham on the whole matter.

By Williams's advice Buckingham instantly posted to Windsor, and closeted himself with Charles, to whom the indefatigable Williams had already sent a string of answers to the whole of the Spanish charges.

With this in their hands the work with James was easy. Charles introduced Buckingham to his father, and expressed the intensest grief at the monarch's anger: the favourite then undertook to explain everything. James read the document drawn up by Williams with great deliberation, and Charles commented and elucidated as seemed requisite and James, ever and anon saying, "Well, very well," at length rose up, declaring the Spaniards malicious scoundrels, embraced Charles and Buckingham tenderly, and expressed much concern for having unjustly suspected them. "But," he continued, "I ask no more from you than you tell me who struck the sparks for this light." This was a posing question, and seeing their hesitation, he added, "Well, I have a good nostril, and will answer mine own question: my keeper had the main finger in it. I dare swear he bolted the flour and made it up into paste." When Charles, in his turn, asked Williams - who be it remembered was also a bishop - how he made the discovery, "Truly," replied this exemplary right reverend father in God, "another would blush to tell you what heifer he ploughed with, but all my intelligence conies out of s lady's chamber, and I have found this maxim in my studies of divinity - Alieno peccato uti licet"

But though James professed to his son and the duke to be perfectly satisfied, there were matters in the communications of the Spaniards which, were not likely to be soon forgotten by him. He was assured that Buckingham had proposed to marry his daughter to the eldest son of the palsgrave, so that the palsgravine being the real heir to his son Charles, he might pave the way for his own posterity to the English throne. The Spaniards asserted this confidently, as the cause of Buckingham breaking oft' the Spanish match. They declared that "on the same day that he received letters from the most illustrious princess palatine, he caused the procurative to be revoked; and a few days after, on the coming of the aforesaid princess's secretary, and the confirmation of his hope of having his daughter married to her highness's son, all things were utterly dashed to pieces."

James resolved to satisfy himself further, and put an oath to each of the privy councillors seriatim, as to his knowledge of any plans such as the Spanish ambassadors had warned him of. But the imagined shrewdness of James was no match for the eyes and influences with which he was surrounded. Charles procured a copy of the questions to be put by James, and instantly despatched the following letter to Buckingham: - "Steenie, - I send you here inclosed the interrogatories that the king thinks fit should be asked concerning the malicious accusations of the Spanish ambassadors. As for the way: my father is resolved, if you do not gainsay it, and show reason to the contrary, to take the oaths himself, and to make secretary Calvert and the chancellor of the exchequer to take the examinations in writing under their hands that are examined: this much is by the king's command. Now for my opinion. It is this: - That you can incur no danger in this but by opposing the king's proceedings in it, to make him suspect that you have spoken somewhat that you are unwilling he should hear of; for I cannot think that any man is so mad as to call his own head in question, by making a He against you, when all the world knows me to be your friend. And if they tell but the truth I know they can say but what the king knows that you have avowed to the world; which is that you think, as I do, that the continuance of those treaties with Spain might breed much mischief. Wherefore, my advice to you is, that you do not oppose or show yourself discontented at the king's course herein; for I think it will be so far from doing you hurt, that it will make you trample under your feet those few poor rascals that are your enemies. Now, sweetheart, if you think I am mistaken in my judgment in this, let me know what I can do in this or anything else to serve thee."

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Pictures for The Reign of James I (Continued) page 18

Arrest of Nonconformists
Arrest of Nonconformists >>>>
Accident to Robert Carr
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Prince Charles
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Keeping Sunday
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Dr. Laud
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Buckingham >>>>
The Vale of Avoca
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Cork River
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Meeting of the Assembly
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Prinve Charles with the Princess Henrietta
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Balsas, or Boat of Skin
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Moorish Pirates
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Visit of Prince Charles to Madrid
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The Palace at Guadalajara
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The Castle of Segovia
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Interview of James I. with Prince Charles
Interview of James I. with Prince Charles >>>>
Buckingham before the council
Buckingham before the council >>>>
The Duke of Buckingham
The Duke of Buckingham >>>>
King James I. and the spanish ambassador
King James I. and the spanish ambassador >>>>

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