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reference to the occasion, and for three or four years only, each time. And far from being the provision then required by the Crown from this source in ordinary times, it was nearly four times as much as the average of the first twenty-seven years of that reign, and nearly twice as much as the average of the next ten. The proposal now made was to secure to the Crown, in a time of peace both with subjects and neighbours,—to secure to it, not for three or four years, but for ever, without reference to circumstances, and without intervention of Parliament--an annual supply greater by at least a fourth than the greatest that any Parliament had ever granted or been asked to grant. Was it conceivable that the House would listen to such a proposal for a moment after they had been fairly told what it was? To ask the House of Commons first to free the Crown from debt and then to settle upon it such an income-what was it but to ask them to make the King independent of Parliament, to deprive themselves of all legal power in the state, to turn petitions of right and complaints of grievance into empty forms, dangerous to the movers, but powerless for their objects? And this at a time when they were more than usually alive to the value of the privilege they had established of dealing with money bills by themselves, and keeping questions of supply entirely in their own hands. Give the King money enough, and what need would he have to call any more Parliaments? or what should hinder him from calling them only to do his work and dissolving them the moment they began to do any work for themselves? And what would concessions, promises, or even laws, be good for, from that moment ? The fear of Parliaments being taken away, even the best devised laws for securing the liberties of the people could no longer have been trusted to do their work. The lawyers would have made the
laws mean what they liked.
Yet if it is hard to believe that Salisbury made such an offer with any hope that it would be accepted, it must be admitted that it is also hard to understand what object he could have had in provoking a refusal. Though the Commons had been too wary to give away their advantage before they had made their bargain, they had shown no disinclination to the bargain itself, nor any disposition to deal illiberally in it. The proposal had undoubtedly been advised and deliberate why should the proposer wish it to miscarry? A docket which I find in the calendar of State Papers, dated April 25, 1610 (the day before Salisbury delivered the King's answer), may perhaps have something to do with it. On the 25th of April a bond for 150,000l. was given by the King to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Recorder of London, "in part security for 100,000l. to be lent by
them." Now we learn from a news-letter of Chamberlain's (2 May) that just about this time there were "privy seals ready printed to be sent abroad." And the true history of the matter may possibly be, that seeing the House of Commons could not be persuaded to vote the supply before they proceeded with the bargain, and the City was not ready to lend without better security than the Crown had to offer, and yet money must be got, the Government had expected to be driven to the expedient of Privy Seals, that is of requisitions for loans of money in small sums from those who were supposed to have money to spare. It would have been inconvenient at such a time for the Crown to be known to be at variance with the Commons on a money question: and therefore the answer to their offer (which might have been given the next day) was postponed for nearly a month; and when given was so contrived as not to touch the point, but to include a new question, which required an answer, and caused the delay of a few days more. But by the time the answer came the King had succeeded in borrowing from the Mayor and Aldermen 100,000l. in a lump; and, being rich again while it lasted, he could afford (or Salisbury could afford on his behalf,-for we cannot tell which was moving the other) to assume that air of independence and superiority, which would have been politic, if the hollowness of it had not been so fatally betrayed and so ostentatiously proclaimed. He thought perhaps that if he set his demand high enough, and spoke big enough, he might still recover the position from which he had descended, and make the Commons believe that they were bargaining with one who could afford to wait.
If so, he was mistaken. It was too late to produce such an impression by several weeks. When Salisbury's speech was reported to the House on the 1st of May, Nicholas Fuller (whose popular sympathies had not been chilled by his submission sixteen months before) began the debate with a motion of which we may infer the tenour from the note of Bacon's speech which followed, and is thus given in the Journals.
Mr. Solicitor: Attributum consilii mobilis, not immobilis, as thus advised.
A decent, modest, respective message.
Finis coronat opus.-Two crowns of actions.-Prevailing and respective Carriage.
The motion therefore must have been for a flat and peremptory
1 Winw. Mem. III. p. 155. See also S.P. Dom. James I. Vol. LIII. No. 91-93, shewing the preparations for the issue of Privy Seals on the 11th of April. 2 So printed.
rejection of the King's demand. And according to a letter writer who appears to have been well informed, the first impulse of the House was to "give no answer at all, but remain silent till the King should be pleased to make some more reasonable proposition unto them, or break absolutely the bargain; wherefrom they do not seem now much averse; thinking to have done enough," etc. This course was opposed however, by Sir Edwin Sandys among others; and after two days debate they agreed upon a message. But though in form and tone it was more according to Bacon's advice, the substance of it was a plain refusal to offer better terms. Nor did they think fit to trust the language to the discretion of the messenger; but reduced it to writing: and much to the dissatisfaction of the Lords (who had particularly desired "that the Committees might have liberty to hear propositions and questions, and to make answers, as also to ask questions "2) they expressly restrained them to the delivery of the message, forbidding them to answer or dispute."
According to the report made by Salisbury to the Lords, it was to this effect.
"That where the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the nether House had offered to give for the matter of Wards, Tenures, and dependants thereon, 100,000l., and had by us received answer that his Majesty as then advised would not accept thereof, nor saw reason to depart from his first demand of 200,000l. support and 600,0007. supply, his occasions being in all appearance now greater than before, and especially the Wards being now by them desired, which before was not spoken of nor included in the King's demand: That they have since entered into re-examination of the matter, and do find no reason to alter their offer: That their purpose was to have laid the burden on the Landsmen :3 where it was moved unto them that they should think of some course to make up the King's demand, etc. they answered that they cannot now find how so huge à sum may be levied without grieving a multitude of his Majesty's poor subjects: Howbeit, in all reasonable matters they will be ready to give his Majesty satisfaction. Lastly, they acknowledged their great obligation to his Majesty, who hath given them a further leave to treat than ever was granted to any of their predecessors; and further they would not go."4
1 Beaulieu to Trumbull, 2 May, Winw. Mem. III. p. 153.
2 C. J. 3 May.
3 The sense here seems to be left imperfect. Beaulieu, writing an account of this conference to Trumbull (Winw. Mem. III. p. 160) represents them as saying "that the King's demands propounded to them were so high as that it was not in their power to satisfy them: For if those sums should be imposed upon the subject according to the interest of every one, those which had wardable lands should have such a burden laid upon them as they should never be able to bear it, and if they were imposed equally upon the general, that the people would be so offended and moved thereby, that they should not dare propound it unto them." 4 L. J. p.
If the object of the government was to break the negotiation off, the matter now stood very well for them. But Salisbury's great annoyance and disappointment at the refusal of the Commons to allow their Committees to enter into discussion (of which I find lively traces in both Journals) seems to show that this was not his object. Indeed he not only remonstrated and argued, but hung out signs of accommodation. "Perceiving (says Beaulieu in the letter quoted in the last note) that they were altogether cooled in the bargain, and willing to go back from their offer, he told them that those sums. which had been propounded unto them had been tendered rather by way of estimation than of demand; and desired them to be well advised how they let go such an opportunity as they had now in their hands, to free themselves of that yoke of the Wardships and of the rest of their grievances, which they should not always recover; showing unto them the importance and inconveniences growing unto them out of every one of those grievances. But they are not like (he adds) to trouble themselves much further in the matter, until the King shall have modified and reformed his propositions." It appears also from the Commons' Journals that the annoyance was not confined to Salisbury: three other Lords had expressed dissatisfaction "and taxed the proceedings of the House."
The truth was that Salisbury had overshot himself both ways; first in making the essential weakness of his position too apparent, and now in setting his demands too high. Nor was that the worst. If the redress of grievances was all the recompense they were to look for-and they were now told that whatever else was given must be paid for at its full value-the least that could be expected was that they would make as much of their grievances as they could. Their Committee had been busy in the enquiry for two months, and reports. were beginning to come in fast. On the 24th of April "the great matter of Impositions" had come before them. On the 30th (in spite of a warning in the interval from Salisbury that to "flatter themselves in their private opinions, when cases had been judged in a court proper to determine them . . . . were but to bark against the moon ") the Speaker had been directed to "take order for the view of the Parliament Records in the Tower," the King's Counsel “to
"They now said for less we shall not have it: therefore a free conference.—A wonder what tempest had fallen: a danger to ask a question.... For the particular, we should have it for less than demanded." Sir E. Sandys's report of Salisbury's speech. C. J. p. 425.
2 Winw. Mem. III. p. 160.
3 Speech to the Committee of Conference, April 26. Parl. Deb. 1610, p. 152.
give direction for precedents which they vouched," and "Sir Robert Cotton to assist." On the first of May they had appointed nine of their body to "search records touching Impositions," and fixed a day for discussing the question in the House. The discussion was likely to be particularly inconvenient at that time, for it was said to be on the security of the Customs that the 100,0007. had been borrowed which had emboldened Salisbury to raise his tone so high; and as the day drew near another attempt was made to intercept it. Unfortunately the means used constituted a fresh grievance, which, in the temper to which they had now been brought, seemed likely to breed fresh troubles. On the 11th of May, when "the Grievances were called for," the Speaker delivered a message, as from the King, warning them that the question as to his right to impose duties upon merchandise exported and imported had been settled judicially, and was not to be disputed in the House. Now as the King had been absent from London all the week, a question arose, whence the Speaker received this message: "wherein he, excusing himself for a long time, in the end did confess that he received this message from the body of the Privy Council."2 That their Speaker should receive communications in this way through the Privy Council was held to be against order, and it was resolved after a warm debate "That the same message, coming not immediately from his Majesty, should not be received as a message; and that in all messages from his Majesty, the Speaker before he delivered them should first ask leave of the House, according as had anciently been accustomed."
Whether the King had anything to do with this particular message is doubtful; but the general terms of the resolution imported a limitation of his liberty of action in which he could hardly have been expected to acquiesce. As soon as it was reported to him, he sent again to enquire whether, if a message were sent to them by their Speaker, and the Speaker declared that it came by warrant from the King in word or writing, or from the body of his Privy Council, they would refuse it? The question was immediately referred to the Committee of Grievances (14 May) and I suppose it was in the course of the debate which followed that Bacon made the speech which comes next. For though there were other occasions on which he may have spoken and probably did speak upon this question, I do not find another in which it presented itself exactly in the same shape. It is taken from a manuscript copy remaining among his own papers, with some corrections and additions in his own hand; and must therefore be supposed to be a thing which he thought worth preserving.
Chamberlain to Winwood. Winw. Mem. III. p. 155. 2 Parl. Deb. 1610, p. 32.