OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of James I (Continued) page 18

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 <18> 19 20 21

Of all things, James dreaded war: he complained of his poverty, his debts, of his desire of quietness at his years; but he had not the resolution to resist the importunities of Buckingham and the prince, backed by a strong cry from the deluded people, especially as he saw no other mode of obtaining the money so necessary to him. In addressing parliament, he stated candidly the many reasons against the war; the emptiness of his exchequer, and the impoverished condition of his allies; that Ireland would demand large sums, and the repairs of the navy more; and then put to them these questions - whether he could with honour engage in a war which concerned his own family exclusively? and whether the means would be found for prosecuting it vigorously?

A deputation from both houses answered these queries by calling for war, and offering to support him in it with their persons and fortunes. This address was read by Abbot, the archbishop of Canterbury, who but six months before had most reluctantly sworn to the Spanish treaty. This was, indeed, a triumph to the archbishop, but did not make the singularity the less of putting an address for war into the hands of a clergyman; and one, moreover, who had so lately fallen into great difficulty on account of his own accidental shedding of blood. When the archbishop came to the passage where James was congratulated on "his having become sensible of the insincerity of the Spaniards," Hold! "lie exclaimed;" you insinuate what I have never spoken. Give me leave to tell you that I have not expressed myself to be either sensible or insensible of their good or bad dealing. Buckingham hath made you a relation on which you are to judge; but I never yet declared my mind upon it."

James, indeed, knew very well to the contrary; the Spaniards had been too grasping, and had thus overshot themselves, but they meant to complete the marriage; and it was a most unjustifiable thing in James to go to war with them, on the ground of their insincerity, if he did not believe in its existence. But James was desirous that as Buckingham had so strenuously called for war to avenge his own petty, private piques, he should bear the blame of it.

James told them plainly that if he went to war he should demand ample advances, and when five clays afterwards the question of supplies came on, he demanded seven hundred thousand pounds to commence the war with, and an annual sum of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds towards the liquidation of his debts. The amount startled the commons, in spite of their magniloquent offer of supporting him with life and fortune; but Buckingham and the prince, who were as mad for war as they had before been for their foolish adventure, let the commons know that a much less sum would be accepted, and they voted three hundred thousand pounds for the year, which the king consented should be put into the hands of the treasurers appointed by the house, who were to pay money only on a warrant from the council of war. James also agreed that he would not end the war without their consent. The vote was accompanied by another address, vindicating Buckingham from the censures of the Spanish ambassadors, and then the king issued a proclamation, announcing that both the treaties with Spain wore at an end.

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.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 <18> 19 20 21

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

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About