Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

1612.] DISPUTES OF KING AND COMMONS. 159

The English Catholics, it is well known, were divided into two almost hostile parties, the Jesuited and that of the secular priests. The conspirators were all of the former party, and the latter, who had been utterly ignorant of the plot, were unanimous, loud, and, we doubt not, sincere in the abhorrence which they expressed at it. Digby, in a letter to his lady, laments to find that the cause for which he had sacrificed everything was disapproved of by Catholics and their priests ; and that the act which brought him to his death should be thought by them a great, sin. But these innocent Catholics, nevertheless, had their share in the penalty, for a new and more severe penal code was enacted. The lords Montague, Mordaunt, and Stourton were fined and imprisoned for their suspicious absence from parliament. The Earl of Northumberland was compelled to pay £30,000, was deprived of his offices, and adjudged to remain for life a prisoner in the Tower.

A favourite object of the king, ever since his accession, had been the effecting of a union (a legislative one, it would appear) between his two kingdoms. The plan was submitted to the parliaments of both countries, but national prejudices and jealousies were too strong to permit so desirable a measure then to be effected ; and all that could be obtained was the abolition of the laws by which each treated the other as strangers and enemies, and a decision of the English judges, declaring the postnati, or Scots born since the king's accession, to be natural subjects of the King of England.

During the six succeeding years of James's reign (that is, from 1607 to 1612), little occurred to disturb the national tranquillity, though the king and the house of commons were constantly at variance : he straining every nerve to obtain money unconditionally, and they struggling to secure, in return, an abolition of wardship, purveyance, and other feudal oppressions. The king, in the mean time, was chiefly occupied with his hunting and his writing; while the task of supplying his lavish expenditure fell to Salis

bury, now, as was his father, lord-treasurer: but with a very different sovereign, and a far more refractory parliament to manage. His health, in consequence, appears to have given way under strong mental excitement, and he died at Marlborough on the 24th of May, 1612, as he was returning from Bath, where he had been to use the waters. His character was that of a sagacious, prudent statesman: but he wanted the high principles and honourable feelings of his father. “He was,” says Bacon, “a more fit man to keep things from getting worse, but no very fit man to reduce things to be better."

Towards the close of the year 1612, the king and country were deprived of the heir-apparent, Prince Henry. His death, however, caused little grief to James, who looked on him rather as a rival than as a son; while the prince, on his part, made no secret of the contempt in which he held his father, whose character was in every respect the opposite of his own. Henry was zealous in his attachment to the Reformed faith ;* he abstained from expensive and immoral pleasures, and delighted in athletic and martial exercises. When, one day, the French ambassador came to take leave of him, he found him handling the pike. “ Tell your king,” said the prince, “how you left me engaged.” He greatly admired Sir Walter Raleigh. “Sure no king but my father,” he used to say, “would keep such a bird in a cage. He died on the 6th of

* The Puritans had great hopes from this prince; the following rhymes were current among the people : “ Henry the Eighth pulled down abbeys and cells,

But Henry the Ninth shall pull down bishops and bells.”+

+ That this young prince was of a highly promising character, ihere can be no doubt. His mind was decidedly inclined to religious seriousness, and among his other virtuous qualities is mentioned his deep abhorrence of profane swearing; a vice which he never yielded to himself, and would not suffer in those around him. He adopted the following expedient to discourage this odious habit among the members of his household. All profanity was strictly forbidden, and for every violation of this rule a fine was exacted. The money thus collected was deposited in a box which he had placed for that purpose at each of the three palaces where at different times be resided, and was distributed to the poor.--Am. Ed.

1613.]

DEATH OF PRINCE HENRY.

161

November, in the 18th year of his age, of a fever brought on by excessive and injudicious exercise. His death was, of course, imputed by the people to poison, and the Earl of Rochester, the royal favourite, was the person charged with having administered it; while some even suspected the king himself, how unjustly we need not say.

The death of Prince Henry was a subject of general regret, and it is a curious question how far it was a misfortune or otherwise to the nation. It might have been that, had he come to the throne, animated as he was by a martial spirit, he would have entered vigorously into the defence of the Elector Palatine and the prosecution of a war with Spain; and that, to obtain supplies from parliament, he would, like the great Edwards, have made the needful concessions in favour of liberty, and that thus the civil war would have been averted. But it was not in this manner that the liberties of England were to be secured : they were destined to pass rough the fire of civil discord.

James, with his habitual aversion to gloom, forbade any one to approach him in mourning : he would not even allow the preparations for the Christmas revels to be interrupted ; and, in the following February, 1613, he celebrated, with more than ordinary splendour, the nuptials of his only daughter Elizabeth, with Frederic, count palatine of the Rhine. The princess was only in her sixteenth year.

A lady of high rank was at this time paying the penalty of her proximity to the throne. Arabella Stuart had, though expressly forbidden by the king, given her hand in secret to Sir William Seymour, son of Lord Beauchamp. As both were descended from Henry VII., the king's jealousy took alarm, and Sey

* Of the real cause of his death there cannot be the slightest doubt; yet Dr. Vaughan tries to insinuate the guilt of the favour. ite, and, as it would appear, even of the

king. + Lord Beauchamp was the son of Lord Hertford and Lady Catharine Grey (see above, page 25). Alliance with the blood royal was fatal to this family

mour was committed to the Tower, and his wife to the house of Sir Thomas Parry, at Lambeth. They were, however, permitted by their keepers to have secret interviews, and the king, in consequence, ordered that Lady Arabella should be removed to Durham. She refused to leave her chamber, and was taken out of it by force. James, however, allowed her to remain a month at Highgate for her health. While there she disguised herself in man's attire, rode to Blackwall, and went down the river to where a French bark lay ready, and got on board. Seymour, in the mean time, in the garb of a physician, had made his way out of the Tower, and entered a boat which was to convey him to the bark: but the French captain, fearing to wait, set sail without him, in spite of his wife's entreaties. Seymour got over to Flanders in a collier: but the bark was taken off the Nore, and Arabella was immured in the Tower. To her petitions for liberty James replied, that she must pay the forfeit of her disobedience. The harsh treatment which she experienced deprived her of reason, and she died in the fourth year of her confinement, the victim of that odious policy of state which, on the plea of self-preservation, tramples on all the principles of nature and justice. It is remarkable that Lady Arabella's husband was afterward, as Marquis of Hertford, one of the most devoted adherents of the son of her persecutor.

[blocks in formation]

Somerset and Lady Essex.-Sir Walter Raleigh.-The Elector

Palatine.-Fall of Bacon.-The Spanish Match.-Prince of Wales in Spain. - Breach with the Court of Spain.- Death and Character of James.- Affairs of Ireland; of Scotland.-State of Religion.- Book of Sports.

It is time that we should proceed to notice a remarkable feature in the character of this feeble monarch-his favouritism. To this failing he had been addicted from his earliest days; and it is rather curious that he, the most slovenly of men in his own person, should have been as fastidious as was even the late queen in regard to the looks and dress of those who were about him. A few years previous to the time of which we now write, on the occasion of a tilting-match, Lord Hay, one of the Scottish nobles, had selected a youth of the border family of the Kerrs for his equerry. Robert Kerr or Carr was now about twenty years of age, tall and handsome, and but just returned from his travels. It was his office to present his lord's shield and device to the king; and, as he was about to perform it, his horse became suddenly unruly, and threw him. His leg was broken in the fall; and James, affected by his youth and beauty, had him removed to a room in the palace, where he visited him after the tilt. The visits were frequently renewed, and the young man gradually won the heart of the king, who resolved to make him a scholar, a statesman, and a man of wealth and rank. The last was easy; and, to effect the former, he himself became his tutor in Latin and his lecturer in politics. So long as Salisbury lived, the favourite, though laden with wealth and raised to the dignity of Viscount

« ZurückWeiter »