Imágenes de página

years schoolmaster to tutor those who were sent by the whole realm to be his counsellors and teachers. And with what modesty can he pretend to be a statesman himself, who with his father's king-craft (70) and his own, did never that of his own accord, which was not directly opposite to his professed interest both at home and abroad; discontenting and alienating his subjects at home, weakening and deserting bis confederates abroad, and with them the common cause of religion ; so that the whole course of his reign, by an example of his own furnishing, hath resembled Phaeton more than Phoebus, and forced the parliament to drive like Jehu; which omen taken from his own mouth, God hath not diverted ?

186. And he on the other side might have remembered, that the parliament sit in that body, not as his subjects, but as his superiors, called, not by him, but by the law; not only twice every year, but as oft as great affairs require, to be his counsellors and dictators, though he stomach it;

(70) With all his craft, however, James I. was always the dupe of some wiser head; of the Duc de Guise first; and after. wards of Elizabeth and her ministers. He would not venture, while his first patron lived, to marry a Protestant; and was too fearful of consequences to risk an union with a Roman Catholic. But Guise having fallen at Blois, and, soon after, Henri III., he no longer hesitated to take a Protestant wife, and accordingly married a princess of Denmark. Like all half-witted princes, he was extravagantly addicted to hunting, and to a man recommended to him by similarity of taste, though actually the spy of Elizabeth, he communicated the most important secrets, which this honest individual transmitted to Walsinghame, who, according to Bishop Burnett, suspected James of an intention to

nor to be dissolved at his pleasure, but when all grievances be first removed, all petitions heard and answered. This is not only reason, but the known law of the land.

187. “When he heard that propositions would be sent him,” he sat conjecturing what they would propound ; and because they propounded what he expected not, he takes that to be a warrant for his denying them. But what did he expect? He expected that the parliament would reinforce “ some old laws.” But if those laws were not a sufficient remedy to all grievances, nay, were found to be grievances themselves, when did we lose that other part of our freedom to establish new ? He

turn papist, or to be of no religion. (Burnett's History of his Own Times, folio, i. 7.) Much light has been thrown on the secret history of the reign of this contemptible prince, by the publication of the “Loseley Manuscripts” where we find four letters written with the king's own hand to Sir George More, lieutenant of the Tower, “concerning my Lord of Somerset, who being in the Tower, and hearing that he should come to his arraignment, began to speak big words touching on the king's reputation and honour.” A writer in the “ Athenæum” (to which paper I am indebted for all I know of the “ Loseley Manuscripts,”) observes, that in the whole transaction referred to in these letters, “there is certainly a great mystery,” and from the characters of all those concerned in it, doubtless a “mystery of iniquity.” The reviewer, however, considers it to be clearly established that, whatever this iniquity might be, it was not the poisoning of Prince Henry, popularly supposed to have been effected through the agency of Sir Thomas Overbury. (Athenæum, No. 418, p. 812.) On this I shall offer no opinion ; but it was, at the time, believed upon what was considered good authority; and that the Earl of Somerset was implicated in the crime. Colonel Titus assured Burnett that Charles I. himself informed of the fact. (History of his Own Times, i. 11.)

thought “ some injuries done by himself and others to the commonwealth were to be repaired." But how could that be, while he, the chief offender, took upon him to be sole judge both of the injury and the reparation ?

188. “He staid till the advantages of his crown considered, might induce him to condescend to the people's good.” Whenas the crown itself with all those advantages were therefore given bim, that the people's good should be first considered ; not bargained for, and bought by inches with the bribe of more offertures and advantages to his crown. He looked “ for moderate desires of due reformation;" as if any such desires could be immoderate. He looked for such a reformation “ both in church and state, as might preserve” the roots of every grievance and abuse in both still growing, (which he calls “the foundation and essentials,”) and would have only the excrescences of evil pruned away for the present, as was plotted before, that they might grow fast enough between triennial parliaments, to hinder them, by work enough besides, from ever striking at the root.

189. He alleges, “ They should have had regard to the laws in force, to the wisdom and piety of former parliaments, to the ancient and universal practice of Christian churches.” As if they who come with full authority to redress public grievances, which ofttimes are laws themselves, were to have their hands bound by laws in force, or the supposition of more piety and wisdom in their an

cestors, or the practice of churches heretofore; whose fathers, notwithstanding all these pretences, made as vast alterations to free themselves from ancient popery. For all antiquity that adds or varies from the Scripture, is no more warranted to our safe imitation, than what was done the age before at Trent. Nor was there need to have despaired of what could be established in lieu of what was to be annulled, having before his eyes the government of so many churches beyond the seas; whose pregnant and solid reasons wrought so with the parliament, as to desire a uniformity rather with all other Protestants, than to be a schism divided from them under a conclave of thirty bishops, and a crew of irreligious priests that gaped for the same preferment.

190. And whereas he blames those propositions for not containing what they ought, what did they mention, but to vindicate and restore the rights of parliament invaded by cabin councils, the courts of justice obstructed, and the government of the church innovated and corrupted ? All these things he might easily have observed in them, which he affirms he could not find; but found “ those demanding" in parliament, who were “ looked upon before as factious in the state, and schismatical in the church; and demanding not only toleration for themselves in their vanity, novelty, and confusion, but also an extirpation of that government, whose rights they had a mind to invade.” Was this man ever likely to be advised, who with such a prejudice and disesteem

biets himself against his chosen and appointed counsellors ? likely ever to admit of reformation, who censures all the government of other Protestant churches, as bad as any papist could have censured them ? And what king had ever his whole kingdom in such contempt, so to wrong and dishonour the free elections of bis people, as to judge them, whom the nation thought worthiest to sit with him in parliament, few else but such as were “punishable by the laws ?” yet knowing that time was, when to be a Protestant, to be a Christian, was by law as punishable as to be a traitor; and that our Saviour himself, coming to reform his church, was accused of an intent to invade Cæsar's right, as good a right as the prelate bishops ever had; the one being got by force, the other by spiritual usurpation; and both by force upheld.

191. He admires and falls into an ecstasy, that the parliament should send him such a “horrid proposition,” as the removal of episcopacy. But expect from him in an ecstasy no other reasons of his admiration than the dream and tautology of what he hath so often repeated, law, antiquity, ancestors, prosperity, and the like, which will be therefore not worth a second answer, but may pass with his own comparison into the common sewer of other popish arguments.

192. “ Had the two houses sued out their livery from the wardship of tumults,” he could sooner have believed them. It concerned them first to sue out their livery from the unjust wardship of

« AnteriorContinuar »