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in religious and intellectual, but in political history.

If " No bishop no king " was henceforth the motto of
the monarchy, the responsive motto of the hierarchy was

1606 " No king no bishop." In 1606 the clergy in convocation
drew up a set of canons embodying the absolutist creed,
declaring the origin of government patriarchal, proclaim-
ing kingship with its prerogatives a birthright, affirm-
ing passive obedience to be due in all cases, without
exception, to the king, and pronouncing anathemas on
all dissenters. Dr. Cowell, an ecclesiastical lawyer,

1607 presently followed with his law dictionary, laying it
down that the king, by his absolute power, was above
the law ; that if he admitted parliament to a share in



legislation it was of his mere benignity ; that he might
alter the law at his discretion, and was himself not bound
by it. That the king, after granting the subject laws
and liberties, retained a reserve of absolute power, was
the fundamental assumption of the party of preroga-
tive, and, as has been said, might derive colour from
the form of the Great Charter, which is a grant by the
king. Dr. Cowell's manifesto, however, raised a storm ;
the House of Commons took his law dictionary in hand, 1610
and it was suppressed by proclamation. Of the high
church hierarchs Andrewes alone is known to have pre-
served something of his Christian dignity and inde-
pendence. As he and Bishop Neile stood behind the
king's chair at dinner, James asked them whether he
could not take his subjects' money when he wanted it
without all that formality in parliament. " God forbid,
Sir, but you should," said Neile ; " you are the breath
of our nostrils." Andrewes replied at first that he had
no skill for parliamentary cases, but being pressed,
" Then, Sir," said he, " I think it lawful for you to
take my brother Neile's money, because he offers it."

To the catholics James, in spite of his anti-papal
treatise, was inclined to show favour. It was their
divided allegiance rather than their erroneous faith that
he abhorred. As a candidate for the succession to the
crown he had courted their support, and even the support
of their head, in a way which showed that he deemed
them powerful as a party. They now lay under the
harrow of a cruel penal law. Celebration of the Mass
was death ; recusancy, that is, failure to attend the
established worship, was line and forfeiture. James was
disposed to toleration ; not indisposed even to reunion


on certain terms with the church which was that of his
brother monarchs and to which his queen was believed
secretly to incline. The part of mediator and peace-
maker was always to his mind. He cherished the fancy
that if he could get rid of the priests and the Jesuits the
lay catholics would be loyal and conform. Of the priests
and Jesuits he never would have got rid. In many of
the old manor houses of England there are secret closets
behind chimneys or movable panels, with concealed aper-
tures for the introduction of food, in which the priest or
Jesuit once was hidden while he stole from one mansion
to another at the risk of his life, celebrating the Mass,
keeping alive the flame of catholic zeal, and not seldom
weaving catholic conspiracy. Banished under whatever
penalties, he would have found his way back into heretic
England in spite of the gallows and the quartering knife,
as in heathen lands he found his way to the souls which
he wished to save in spite of the tomahawks of the
Iroquois. But James could not enter on the path of
concession without awakening the alarm and wrath
of a nation which had learned to regard English catholi.
cism as the vanguard of its foreign enemies, ever ready
to rise at their call, and held down only by the penal law.
He was scared, too, by the discovery of an abortive plot
against his succession to the throne ; while his courtiers,
if not his own exchequer, hungered for the fines. The
1604 penal laws were put in force, and more than five thousand
convictions of recusancy followed.

This increased the excitement among the catholics,
which the uncertainties of the succession to the crown
and the gleam of hope for a catholic dynasty had bred.
There were two kinds of catholics, although the nation,


blind with hatred and fear, failed to distinguish them
from each other. There were catholics of the old school,
survivors of the church of the middle ages, who, while
they clave to the ancient faith, were more English-
men than catholics, and had nobly shown it when their
country was threatened by the Armada. Catholicism of
this stamp lingered long in the old families of England.
It lingered to the day, midway in the present century, on
which the Duke of Norfolk, the head of the old catholic
nobility, renounced Roman Catholicism in patriotic dis- 1851
gust at Papal Aggression. But there were catholics of
another school, like the Ultramontanes of the present day,
more papal than English, pupils of the Jesuit, and ready
to join the papal invader against the country. Among
these was formed a conspiracy for blowing up the two
Houses of Parliament, the vengeful memory of which, 1605
reawakened on each Guy Fawkes' day almost to our own
time, long helped to put off the liberation of the catholics
from the fetters of the penal law. The desperado who
led the conspiracy and gave it his name was a hero in his
evil way. He kept his post as watchman at the mine
even when the secret had been betrayed, and he held out
against the torture till his frame had been so shattered
that he could scarcely sign his name. One Jesuit, Gar-
nett, suffered for complicity in the plot ; he had the 160G
Jesuit treatise on equivocation in his hands. Other
Jesuits were in the background. Unlike most of the
catholic plots, this was well laid. Nothing but the de-
sire of the conspirators to save the catholic lords who,
exempted by their rank from the common lot of their
communion, retained their seats in parliament, averted a
catastrophe which would have ranked with the St. Bar-


tholomew. The comrades of Guy Fawkes lacked the
thorough-going zeal and faith of that exterminator of the
Albigenses, who, when heretics and catholics had become
indistinguishably mixed together, cried, " Kill them all
and God will know his own." Parliament, however,
would have lived and would have set a son of James upon
a fiercely protestant throne. The immediate result would
probably have been a massacre of the catholics. There
followed inevitably a fierce renewal of panic hatred and

1606 an increase of severity in the application of the penal
laws. Now, too, to the test of attendance at established
worship was added that of reception of the sacrament at
the hands of a state clergyman, a hideous profanation of
the rite of Christian love. As often as the court is sus-
pected of lenity to Catholicism, or of leaning towards it,
the cause of freedom is traduced and dishonoured by hor-
rible calls from parliament for the execution of priests.
These, be it remembered, were the days, not of the Pris-
oner of the Vatican, with his spent thunderbolts and his
harmless allocutions, but of the St. Bartholomew, the
Armada, the persecution in the Netherlands, the assassin-
ations of William the Silent and Henry IV., the Babing-
ton Conspiracy, and the Gunpowder Plot. The assassin-

1610 ation of Henry IV., with Jesuitism if not Jesuits again in
the background, intensified the panic rage which the Gun-
powder Plot had raised. The English catholics suffered
in a still further sharpening of the edge of the penal laws
for the crimes of a European party to which only one sec-
tion of them, and that the smallest, really belonged.

The field of decisive battle for the supreme power was
sure to be finance. Could the king find means of carry-
ing on his government without coming to parliament for


supplies? If he could, he was the master. Parliament
met only at his pleasure, and by his will it could at any
time be dissolved. The country was at this time prosper-
ous, its wealth was increasing, and there was no danger
of general disaffection. It was barely possible that by
avoiding war and observing strict frugality, James might
have lived of his own. He had the estates of the crown
with wardships, escheats, and fines, and other non-par-
liamentary resources, including the sale of peerages,
payments for which were entered in the books of the
exchequer, and of baronetcies, a new order of hereditary 1611
half-nobility invented for a financial purpose. He had
regular import duties, tonnage and poundage, granted
by parliament at the commencement of each reign, and
the product of which was increasing with the trade of
the country. To keep out of war James was well in-
clined. But frugal it was not in him to be. He per-
sisted in squandering money on plate and jewels. He
was too good-natured to say nay to greedy favourites and
courtiers. He flung twenty-thousand pounds at once to
Scotch parasites, who as foreign interlopers were odious
to the nation, receiving no service in return. He gave
away the estates of the crown, and when, conscious of his
own weakness, he tried to tie his own hands by entailing
the estates, the courtiers, instead of asking for land, asked
for cash and obtained it. To add to his embarrassments
he had inherited a debt from the last reign, and in Eng-
land funding was not then known.

At least as important, however, as political or financial
reform in the eyes of the Commons was the defence of
protestantism in the church. Non-conformity, such as
that of the. Brownists, had ceased to exist or was going


into religious exile. The struggle was now against clerical
reaction and episcopal usurpation within the establishment.
Of the House of Commons two-thirds were Puritans,
that is, thorough-going protestants of the Calvin ist per-
suasion, and though not opposed to a moderate episcopacy,
were suspected by the king of Presbyterian leanings and
of seeking to introduce "their confused form of polity
and parity, being ever discontented with the present
government and impatient to suffer any superiority, which
maketh that sect unable to be suffered in any well-
formed commonwealth." The king and the episcopate,
as was natural, drew ever closer to each other, the king
inclining to high churchmanship, the bishops exalting
the prerogative by which their order was upheld and
sheltered. Thus with the struggle for political liberty
and self-taxation was blended the struggle about church
doctrine, ritual, and government. The Gunpowder Plot
and the assassination of Henry IV. seem to have sickened
James of Catholicism for the time. Upon the death of

1610 the high church primate Bancroft, he made Abbot, a
staunch Calvinist and a rather narrow Puritan, arch-
bishop. He seems indeed himself to have remained a
Calvinist. In exercise of his authority as head of the
church he sent deputies to uphold Calvinistic orthodoxy

1618- against the Arminian heresy at the Synod of Dort. But
he was thoroughly convinced of the truth of his own
doctrine, "No bishop no king." His orthodoxy he dis-
played while he fearfully belied his humanity by burn-
ing two heretics, against whose murder no parliamentary
enemy of Rome or friend of freedom raised his voice.

The House of Lords plays in some measure the part
of a buffer between the crown and the Commons. The


Lords are not, like the Commons, Puritan. They pro-
pose Sunday for a conference with the Commons, who
reply that they cannot do business on the Sabbath.
Among them are some catholics. They are, of course,
not democratic. But they have never recovered their
feudal powers. They are no longer territorial potentates
or leaders of the national force. They are simply per-
sons of quality with large estates, to whose titles social,
to whose domains local, influence is attached. The crown
is the fountain of their honours. Some of them have
paid round sums to make the fountain flow. Frequent-
ing the court, they feel its influence. On the other hand,
the secure possession of their rank, their wealth, and their
places in parliament, gives them a large measure of inde-
pendence. Some of the wealthiest of them are bound
to the protestant cause by their title-deeds, while, as
grandees, regarding the high places of the state as their
own, they all look with jealousy on the ascendancy of
ecclesiastics. The lords spiritual vote with the crown.

At the meeting of parliament, in 1604, the king put 1604
forward a claim to having disputed returns decided not
by the House but in his court of chancery. This might
have enabled the crown, with a servile chancellor, to pack
parliament. The claim was resisted and the right of the
House of Commons to be judge of its own election cases,
essential to its independence, was maintained.

The contest between the crown and the Commons
opened with an attack of the Commons on the abuse of
the feudal perquisites of the crown, wardship and pur-
veyance. Wardships were obsolete as well as vexatious.
Fiefs being no longer local offices, administrative, mili-
tary, and judicial, but mere estates, there was no longer


any reason why this, more than property of any other
kind, should be taken into the hands of the crown dur-
ing the minority of the heir. The monarchy being no
longer itinerant, as in the middle ages, but having a
fixed seat and constant access to fair markets, the reason
for purveyance as well as that for wardship belonged to
the past. Both had become instruments of royal extor-
tion, while of the gains, in the case of purveyance at
least, more went to roguish underlings than to the king.
But the first pitched battle was fought on the question

1610 of the Impositions, that is, the claim of the crown in
exercise of its prerogative, without the sanction of par-
liament, to impose duties on merchandise brought into
the kingdom. It was on its guardianship of the seas,
certainly no superfluous service in those days, that the
claim of the crown was founded. Bate was the patriot

1608 who, by resisting an Imposition on his currants, played
the part of a forerunner of Hampden. The case hav-
ing been brought before the courts, the judges decided
in favour of the crown, which continued to levy the Im-
positions. Reasons have been given by a high authority
for believing that their judgment was not bad law, at
least that they might have believed it to be good. The
question turned on the construction of a medieval statute,
which, after the manner of those times, redressed the
immediate grievance without laying down any broad
principle. The decision of the judges in favour of an
arbitrary impost was perhaps not so much illegal as it
was unconstitutional, that is, against the spirit of English
institutions, which condemned arbitrary taxation, and
counter to the political progress of the nation.

In the minds of the parties to this controversy, how-


ever, the legal and the constitutional were much the
same. Both king and Commons took their stand on the
'letter of the law. They appealed not to the rights of
man or any abstract principle, but to the statute book, the
law reports, the note-books of the judges. The arsenal
of constitutional patriotism was the library of Cotton
the antiquarian. A member, perhaps, says a bold thing
about the elective origin of hereditary monarchy and the
reciprocal duties of king and people, but his words are
a flash of rhetoric in debate. There is a suggestion of
something like the theory of social contract, but no action
is really founded on it. Early in the reign, and again in 1604
a more memorable form towards the close, comes up the i621
question whether the privileges of the Commons are the
gift of the king or their own inalienable heritage. This
is the nearest approach to an issue of abstract principle.
Of wresting supreme power out of the hands of the king
and making the government republican, the Commons
never dreamed. They recognize in the king " their sov-
ereign lord and governor," while they are in fact trans-
ferring sovereignty and supremacy to themselves. It
has been often and truly said that this attachment to
legal precedent is the characteristic of the English con-
stitution, and with equal truth it is said that it deserves
the praise bestowed on it only in so far as the reformers
believed in the intrinsic wisdom and justice of the old
law. It has the advantage of leading reformers to
content themselves with repairing their own house and
letting their good example do its work, instead of under-
taking to rebuild the world, and bringing on a crash of
world-wide ruin in the attempt.

In a political struggle which observed legal precedent,


great power was given to the judges, who became in a
measure arbiters of the constitution. The judges at this
time were not only appointed by the crown but remov-
able at its pleasure, though none of them had been
removed for political reasons since the beginning of
Elizabeth's reign. They were not without a measure
of independence. They worshipped the common law.
They would have regard for the opinion of their pro-
fession. Perhaps they also felt the rising tide of national
opinion. They had, however, also a devout respect for
prerogative as a reserve power which, after all grants of
liberty to the subject, remained inalienably in the crown.
1610 Cecil's wisdom planned a contract between the crown
and the nation under which the crown would have re-
dressed grievances by giving up wardships and purvey-
ance, arbitrary impositions on merchandise, and other
vexatious perquisites, while the nation would have paid
the king's debt and assured him of a sufficient revenue
for the future. But the scheme failed, not only because
it was hard to agree about the money terms, but because
the Commons persisted in including ecclesiastical abuses
among the grievances to be redressed. Entanglement of
religion with politics is the ever-present and ever-perni-
cious consequence of the identification of the church with
the state.

The contract having miscarried and its author being in
his grave,, the deficit grew and the financial embarrass-
ments of the crown became desperate. Sales of crown
lands, notwithstanding the entail, sales of peerages and
baronetcies, exaction of the star chamber fines, payment
of an old debt by France and of war debts by the
Dutch, failed to fill the gulf in the exchequer. The


crown had to go a-begging, a masterful mendicant, for
gifts and loans. Little was put by an angry and Puri-
tanical nation into the plate, and the king was forced
again to call a parliament.

The parliamentary election of 1614 has been noted 1614
as a regular battle on a great question between govern-
ment and opposition. The government exerted its in-
fluence to the utmost. It had a number of nomination
boroughs, owing their existence to its ancient .preroga-
tive, but elsewhere many of its candidates were rejected.
The electors asserted their independence, and the gov-
ernment reaped from its attempt to control them only
the odium of baffled interference. Public feeling seems
partly to have overpowered even the influence of the
local magnates. Three hundred new members were
elected, and it is reasonably conjectured that among
these were the resolute reformers of the day. Many
of the number would be country gentlemen trained in
county business and government. Among them were
two men destined to be memorable in different ways ;
a rich young Yorkshire baronet, Sir Thomas Went-
worth, afterwards Lord Strafford, and John Pym, a
Somersetshire gentleman who had evidently fitted him-
self for public life, and whose guiding principle was that
the best form of government is that " which doth actuate
and dispose every part and member of the state to the
common good."

The House of Cqmmons showed its Puritanism by
going in a body to receive the communion at St. Mar-
garet's church, avoiding Westminster Abbey for fear of
"copes and wafer cakes." James, in the speech from
the throne, announced that the parliament was to be a

VOL. 1 — 29


parliament of love, of the king's love for his subjects and
the love of the subjects for their king. But the morning
of love vras clouded by the angry question of precedence
between the redress of grievances and supplies. To the
grievance of Impositions, which did not fail to reappear,
was added that of monopolies and that of " undertaking,"
that is, conspiring to tamper with the independence of
members of parliament in the interest of the crown. On
the subject of the Impositions the Commons tried to
carry the Lords with them, and requested a conference
for that purpose. The Lords refused, though by only a
majority of about forty to thirty, sixteen of the majority
being bishops. Then Bishop Neile, the most hateful of
ecclesiastical sycophants, brought on, by vilifying the
Commons, a tornado from which the government could
escape only by dissolution. Not a single bill passed ; the
1614 parliament of love ended as the '' Addled Parliament."
1614 Again the king had to fall back upon benevolences
wrung with difficulty from disaffected hands, impositions
on merchandise, star chamber fines, sale of crown lands,
sale of patents of monopoly, of peerages, of baronetcies,
of offices of state ; and still, with the lavishness of the
court and the favourites, deficits and debt grew.

The court was recklessly extravagant, and the courtiers
emulated the king. The favourite freak of one of them,
Hay, was the double supper, a sumptuous array of cold
meats, whisked away and replaced by hot dishes. But to
waste was added debauchery, shocking not only to Puri-
tan austerity, which looked on with angry eyes, but to
common morality and decency, if we may trust a contem-
porary picture, even with reasonable allowance for carica-
ture. Caricature there probably is in the narrative


of a dramatic entertainment at court, at which ladies,
personating the Virtues, are disgustingly drunk. If the
king himself was free from intemperance, this did not
save -the credit of his court. Nor was the venality of the •
court less notorious than its debauchery. Everybody and
everything were for sale.

To debauchery and venality was added crime. There
had been a child marriage arranged by family policy
between Lord Essex, a son of Elizabeth's unhappy favour-
ite, and Lady Frances Howard. The boy husband was
sent to travel on the continent. Meantime his girl wife
grew up into a flirt, and when he returned to claim her
received him with disgust. Somerset, the king's Scotch
favourite, was in love with her, and to make way for his
passion, her divorce from Essex was procured on most
revolting grounds. Two bishops, the prime sycophant
Neile, and, strange to say, the high-church saint Andrewes,
sullied themselves by complicity in a job which filled pure
hearts with disgust. Somerset then married the divorced
wife, and Bacon stooped to court the all-powerful favour- 1613
ite by giving a masque at the wedding. Puritanism in
the person of the old Archbishop Abbot stood by and
frowned its protest against the unhallowed nuptials, in
which the archbishop refused to take a part. Somerset
had a dependent and confidant in Sir Thomas Overbury,
an adventurer of some brilliancy and mark. Overbury
had either opposed the marriage from fear of the lady's
influence, or in some other way had made Lady Somerset
his enemy. Through her husband, who abused the royal
prerogative for the purpose. Lady Somerset got him com-
mitted to the Tower, and there, by her emissaries, she 1613
poisoned him. The murder came to light. The terrible


chief justice Coke took the case in hand. Somerset and
his wife were brought to trial before the peers and found

1616 guilty, as Lady Somerset undoubtedly was, though the
• guilt of her husband was more doubtful. Somerset before
his trial threatened the king with the disclosure of a
secret, and the threat threw the king into an agony of
fear. Bacon, who, in the pursuit of his lofty ideal of
monarchy, was forced to stoop low in his services to the
actual monarch, prepared to have Somerset gagged,
muffled, and carried out of court if he began to peach.
Somerset, however, did not peach; the secret remains
untold to this day ; but mystery gave scope for the worst

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