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teem this wardship by knight's service very unreasonable and unjust, and contrary to nature, that a freeman and gentleman should be bought and sold like a horse or an ox, and so change guardians as masters and lords, at whose government not only his body, but his lands and his houses should be to be wasted and spent without accounts ; and then to marry at the will of him who is his natural lord, or his will who has bought him, to such as he likes not peradventure, or else to pay so great a ransom.
This is the occasion, they say, why many gentlemen be so evil brought up touching virtue and learning, and but only in daintiness and pleasure, and why they be married very young and before they be wise, and many times do not greatly love their wives. For when the father is dead, who hath the natural care of his child ? not the mother, nor the uncle, nor the next of kin, who by all reason would have most natural care for the bringing up of the infant and minor : but the lord of whom he holdeth his land in the knight's service, be it the king or queen, duke, marquis, or any other, hath the government of his body and marriage, or else who that bought him at the first, second, or third hand. The prince, as having so many, must needs give or sell his wards away to other, and so he doth. Other do but seek which way they may make most advantage of him, as of an ox or other beast. These all, say they, have no natural care of the infant but of their own gain; and especially, the buyer will not suffer his ward to take any great pains either in study or any other hardness, lest he should be sick and die before he hath married his daughter, sister, or
ousin, for whose sake he bought him, and then all his money which he paid for him should be lost. So he who had a father which kept a good house, and had all things in good order to maintain it, shall come to his own after he is out of wardship, woods decayed,' houses fallen down, stock wasted and gone, lands lent forth and ploughed to the barren, and, to make amends, shall pay yet one year's rent for relief, and sue ouster le maine, besides other charges; so that not of many
years, and peradventure never, he shall be able to recover and come to the estate where his father left it.”
The situation of the younger children of the nobility and gentry at this period, it may be here observed, was often lamentable, as there were not then the colonies, large land and sea forces, numerous public offices, etc., which now furnish so many situations for the families of the aristocracy. Younger sons sometimes sought to push their fortune at court, or went into the military service of foreign states, or engaged in naval enterprises. They not unfrequently became gamblers, sharpers, and even highway robbers. They were usually left dependant on their elder brother, or had a small annuity bequeathed them which he was to pay; and if, through vice or folly, he wasted his property, his brothers and sisters became his fellowsufferers. The misery which younger brothers endured is thus, without exaggeration, portrayed by an eminent dramatic poet of those days. Maybe,” says a younger to an elder brother,
"Maybe you look'd I should petition to you
From the insulting heir."* Brilliant, therefore, on the whole, as were the days of Elizabeth, they were clouded, we see, with many and great evils. Tyranny and oppression were rife in the land ; there was little security either of person or property; and, with all the splendour of the court, there was doubtless far less of general happiness than at the present day.
* Fletcher's “Queen of Corinth," act i., scene ïi. See also Shakspeare's “ As you like it," and the old play called “ The Mis. eries of Enforced Marriage, which likewise display the evils of wardship in strong colours.
In the time of the Tudors, on account of the more extended relations among the different European states, it became the custom to have resident ambassadors, or Leigers, as they were called, at the different courts, in order to obtain for their governments correct information of the state of public affairs. These leigers usually took an active part in the domestic concerns of the country in which they were resident: even fomenting, at times, rebellion and conspiracies, and encouraging, by every means in their power, opposition to the court. Much valuable information respecting the history of England under the Tudors and Stuarts has been derived from the despatches of the French and other resident ministers at the court of London. At the same time we must not, as is too often done, give implicit credit to all their statements. They, for the most part, laboured under the disadvantage of being ignorant of the English language, and their means of acquiring information were therefore comparatively limited. They had also, like other men, their passions and prejudices; eagerly caught at what favoured their own views, and often transmitted to their courts, instead of fact, mere gossip and ruHOUSE OF STUART.-PART I.
Accession of James.-Bye and Surprise Plots.-Hampton Court
Conference.-Gunpowder Plot.- Death of Salisbury; of Prince Henry.- Arabella Stuart.
On the death of Queen Elizabeth, the right to the crown of England lay between the descendants of Margaret and Mary, daughters of Henry VII., married to the King of Scotland and to Brandon duke of Suffolk. By the last will of Henry VIII., sanctioned by an act of the legislature, the crown was settled on the latter in case of the failure of his own issue. The legal right, therefore, of the house of Suffolk was beyond dispute. But, on the other hand, the general feeling in favour of primogeniture and hereditary right was too strong to be thus overcome; and the advantages to be derived from the accession of the King of Scotland were so great, that the nation readily acquiesced in the final disposition of the late queen; so that James was proclaimed with as little opposition as if he had been heir-apparent to the crown.
During the latter years of Queen Elizabeth, the Jesuited portion of the Catholicst had been in secret correspondence with the King of Spain in reference to asserting the claim of his daughter, the Infanta : while others, under the sanction of the pope, who did not wish too much to aggrandize the house of Austria, looked to Arabella Stuart, daughter of the younger brother of James's father, alleging that her birth within the realm obviated, in law, her defect of primogeniture : for, though Arabella was a Protestant, they were not without hopes of her conversion. They did not, however, feel themselves strong enough to make any serious efforts in her favour; and James, who had long been in secret communication with the court of Rome and the English Catholics, had given them reason to expect that they would enjoy freedom from molestation, at least, under his dominion.
* Authorities : Wilson, Weldon, and the papers in Winwood and other collections, &c.
+ The English Catholics were divided into two parties: the Jesuited, as they were called, that is, the adherents of the Jesuits, and the followers of the secular clergy
After the death of Essex, Sir Robert Cecil had entered into secret and close relations with the King of Scotland, engaging to remove all difficulties in the way of his peaceful succession. His efforts to this end had been completely successful; and James, on receiving due notification of his having been proclaimed, prepared to set forth at once for the Land of Promise, as he denominated it to his hungry and expectant favourites. The approaching change was to him great indeed: he was about to pass from a throne of most scanty revenues, and a realm where the royal authority was continually thwarted by a turbulent, ferocious nobility, and a stern, unyielding clergy, to a kingdom where the regal authority had long been almost uncontrolled, and where the revenues of the crown were splendid and ample.
On the 5th of April James departed from Edinburgh. When he entered England, the people everywhere poured forth in joyous crowds to meet him ; and the nobles, as he proceeded, entertained him sumptuously at their houses. But there was a striking contrast between the new king and their late courteous and magnificent sovereign. When Elizabeth was on a progress, she was splendidly habited ; her people had free access to her, and their proofs of affection were received with smiles and kind expressions, blended with the majesty and dignity in