« AnteriorContinuar »
For with the subsidies left by the Queen the King redeemed the mortgaged lands, took away the copper money of Ireland, discharged debt in offices, all which mounted to 300,000l., to which the 600,0001. of Ireland being added, makes 900,000%., which is more than the receipt. by 100,0007.
The Low Countries have cost the King 200,0007.
Queen Elizabeth left not so mean an estate but deserved a funeral.
The King's coming out of Scotland was answerable to himself. The Queen, that noble lady, with her precious jewels her children, was not to come like an Earl's wife. The solemnity of Coronation, the triumphs, the royal entry into London, the King of Denmark's entertainment, Embassadors more than ever to any other Prince; which chain of cheerful charges amounted to 500,000l.
In the third year of the King that gross debt was 700,0007. and by Michaelmas 1608 it was raised to 1400,000l. From which sum there is defalked,—
By subsidy since his coming to the Crown
By copyholds, woods, and defective titles.
By debts called in since the 30th year of Queen
So that 300,000l., being the rest of the debt of 1400,000l., is the King's present engagement.
This concludes the "exact and particular declaration of the King's wants," which formed the second division of this part of Salisbury's speech. For the two remaining divisions I return to the MS. printed by the Camden Society, which I shall hereafter call for shortness "Mr. Gardiner's MS.:" he being the person who discovered its value. The Cotton MS. seems to have been made by some one who wanted the exact financial statement, but did not much care about objections or inforcements. Consequently the remaining notes are thrown loosely together and left unintelligible and incomplete. Mr. Gardiner's MS., after stating the balance of the debt, proceeds thus:
1 So in MS.
1. The precedent is rare. To which he answered, that in 600 years space the kings of the realm never asked help in Parliament and were denied but thrice.
In Ao 21 H. 8, the Parliament released to the King all his debts, which were of very great value.
Q. Elizabeth in 44 years had 20 subsidies of the laity and 18 of the clergy. The whole in her time came to 2,800,000l. which is almost three millions.
2. Objectio: The King is not in wars nor in action.
He gives de proprio, and bounty is an essential virtue of a King.
Q. Mary, a queen full of moral virtues and of great devotion in her kind, departed from the Crown by way of restitution 900,000l. per annum of old rent.
She also gave in donatives 750,000l. per annum of old rent. She returned to her clergy in tenths and first-fruits 2,8007. Queen Elizabeth held the middle way between her father and her grandfather.1
IV. Matters of Inforcements.
1. Doubts and expectation of breach of Treaties.
2. The competition for the Duchy of Cleves, wherein the Emperor, taking upon him to be judge, hath, without hearing the cause, sent the Bishop to take possession for the house of Austria. And on the other side, the French King and our King join to take part with the other, not because of his religion only, for that his right and religion concur together.
So noble an enterprise as this is not to be deserted, sith, besides charity, we owe unto it a tribute of policy.2
If Bacon had set down his notes on " Policy" (see above, p. 73)
1 'Sister' in MS., but clearly a mistake. Another report of this speech (Harl. MSS. 777) gives it thus: "She was the grandchild of a frugal grandfather and of a loose-handed father, which made her study more a mediocrity therein than some others did before her."
2 Parl. Debates, 1610, p. 7. Addl. MSS. 4210.
in December 1609, instead of July 1608, he would probably have pointed to this" succession controversy of the Cleve Duchies,"-now "coming to be a very high matter, mixing itself up with the grand Protestant-Papal controversy, the general armed-lawsuit of mankind in that generation," in the decision of which "Kaiser, Spaniard, Dutch, English, French Henri IV., and all mortals were getting concerned," for the likeliest solution of the difficulty he was considering the offer of an enterprise in which the Crown might engage with assurance of carrying the sympathy and ambition of the people along with it only I think he would have put it in the front rather than in the rear; and instead of using it to enforce a demand for supplies, would have treated the proposed supply as a mere incident of the enterprise, and necessary condition of success.
Salisbury preferred to put the demand for money upon the simple ground that the King had need of it. For when he came to speak of "retribution," he appears to have been studiously vague. The notes that remain of the report made by Sir Edwin Sandys of this part of his speech leave the nature of his proposal altogether indefinite and obscure: and so it seems to have been found by those who heard it. "The retribution to proceed from his Majesty " was "a general redress of all just grievances." But what kind of things were admitted to be grievances, and what kind of redress was to be looked for, remained doubtful. Insomuch that when the whole subject of "contribution and retribution" was referred to the General Committee of Grievances (a reference inevitable, as the thing was carried, though of no good omen) they found they could make no advance without first knowing what they were at liberty to treat for. Tenures and Wardships had indeed been mentioned in Salisbury's speech; but it was in a manner so ambiguous that "that motion was conceived by some to be but as a lure to the subject, to draw him on to a greater contribution :" and therefore it was resolved (Feb. 21) in the first place to ascertain from the Lords in another conference "what those things were which his Majesty intended to give to his subjects by way of retribution"; and if Wardships and Tenures were not named, then to inquire particularly whether or no they were to be considered as among them.
The first question being proposed first, Salisbury began by expressing surprise at the proceeding. The King had summoned the Parliament avowedly because he was in want; and they replied by asking what he had to give! He was ready however to explain more particularly what was wanted; and after recounting again the 1 Carlyle's Hist. of Frederic the Great, vol. i. p. 308.
Parl. Debates, p. 13.
various occasions which had exhausted the Exchequer, he told them plainly that "the demand of the King was double: Supply, to discharge his debts; and Support, to maintain his estate:" and namely, for the first, 600,0007; for the second, 200,000l. per annum. And here, it seems,-without offering any answer to the question which they had come to ask,- he stopped and awaited their reply.
Their reply was in effect a repetition of the question. Until "they knew the King's pleasure, what he were willing to depart withal to the subject," they could not "determine of any yearly contribution:" and for the demand now made, it was "in nature transcendent, and in precedent very rare," and they could say nothing without further instruction from the House.
After this we are told that there was a pause of silence: whether because Salisbury still hoped to commit them to the price before he showed the goods, or because he had not quite made up his mind how far to go, may remain a question. But after waiting a little and finding that no further answer was forthcoming, they proceeded to the second part of their commission: "Would it please his Majesty that they might treat concerning the discharge of Tenures ?"
To this Salisbury replied, that he must consult the rest of the Lords before he could give them an answer on that point: but meanwhile (having now, I suppose, had time enough to consider his course) he proceeded to give them a tolerably full reply to their first question.
He told them that for matters of sovereignty inherent in him,— such as the calling of Parliament, the stamping of coin, the proclaiming of war, with these the King could not part that for matters of justice, and protection of his subjects, and redress of all just grievances,-for these he could not bargain: he had already taken an oath to give them freely but that there remained some other points of prerogative which, being burthensome to the people and yet belonging of right to the Crown, "he might haply be persuaded upon good consideration to yield unto his subjects:" and of these he gave the following examples:
1. To be bound by the statute of limitation of 32 H. 8 as subjects are, and to give away that part of his prerogative, Nullum tempus occurrit Regi. What a jewel were this, said he, if the King would part with it? 2. Right of purveyance, which were a great ease and contentment to the subject, if it were extinguished.
3. The changing of a maxim of the law Intentio Regis est regula legis. And that all the King's grants should be taken in a favourable construction to the subject. As if the King grant the manor of Dale, and he have 2 manors there, this now is a void grant &c.
4. Informers to be taken away (which are all beggars and knaves) and to proceed by way of indictment.
5. Remission of old debts from 1 H. 7 until 30 Eliz., and since then also upon good consideration.
6. Forfeitures not to be taken by the King for nonpayment of rents reserved.
7. No injunction for possession to be granted upon an information in the Exchequer, and the general issue pleaded.
8. The friends of every ward to have the wardship at certain reasonable rates. And the Committee to receive no more than he pays.
9. Licence of alienation to be granted at certain reasonable rates, viz 3 years rent after the old rent, for 20 pence in times past was as much as 5 shillings is now.
10. Respect of homage to be taken in the country before commissioners, without such charge and trouble as now is.'
All these he told them that they were at liberty to deal with by way of bargain: for the main matter of Tenures and Wardships they would send an answer as soon as they had learned the King's pleasure.
Such was the result of the conference: and it was a step gained : for they could now begin to calculate the value of the ten points which were offered. But though it took place on the 24th of February, it was not reported to the House till the 27th. This was owing to a lively interlude with which they were occupied in the interval; and which, though unimportant (as it turned out) in its bearing upon the present question, is too important in its bearing upon other questions which we shall have to deal with hereafter, to be passed by without notice.
The Committee of Grievances, which in the absence of other matters for negotiation was very busy all this time in inviting and investigating matters of complaint from all quarters, had received information that a law dictionary, published two years before by the Regius Professor of Civil Law in the university of Cambridge, contained some opinions derogatory to Parliament and dangerous to liberty. Finding the information to be correct, they brought the matter before the House. Whereupon all other business was suspended; and if they had met with any opposition in their course, the further consideration of Supply and Support might have been postponed indefinitely. Fortunately however for the progress of business, (and perhaps for himself too), Dr. Cowell, like the Bishop
1 Addl. MSS. 4210, f. 14.