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annum, above the annual revenue which they now yielded;' which appears to have been estimated at 80,0001.2 This was an abatement of 60,000l. per annum in his demand for Support; and as nothing was said about Supply, his other demand of 600,000l. as a preliminary condition of the bargain, may be considered as having been withdrawn. This new and much improved offer, being reported to the House the next day, had been immediately referred to a Committee. But the answer had to wait for the Grievances, which were to proceed pari passu, and were now a little behind.
The delay however was not long. The Committee appointed on the 3rd of July (of which Bacon was a member) brought up their report on the 4th. The petition concerning Impositions was then immediately read in the House and passed: and the collection of Grievances being now complete, the preamble was agreed to and ordered to be engrossed. Bacon, accompanied by twenty of the House, was appointed to present them which he did on the 7th, with the following speech, as reported by himself.
A SPEECH USED TO THE KING BY HIS MAJESTY'S SOLICITOR,
Most gracious Sovereign,
The knights, citizens, and burgesses assembled in Parliament, in the house of your commons, in all humbleness do exhibit and present unto your sacred Majesty, in their own words though by my hand, their Petitions and Grievances. They are here conceived and set down in writing, according to ancient custom of Parliament. They are also prefaced according to the manner and taste of these later times. Therefore for me to make any additional preface, were neither warranted nor convenient; especially speaking before a King, the exactness of whose judgment ought to scatter and chase away all unnecessary speech, as the sun doth a vapour.
This only I may say; Since this session of Parliament we have
1 "I crave 140,000l. per annum, in retribution of such things as I mean to bargain for at this Parliament, clear in addition to that I formerly received by the natures of those things that are now to be bargained for." Parl. Deb. 1610, p. 121.
2 C. J. p. 444.
3 Harl. MSS. 6797, fo. 135. The last sentence added in Bacon's hand.
seen your glory, in the solemnity of the creation of this most noble Prince. We have heard your wisdom, in sundry excellent speeches which you have delivered amongst us. Now we hope to find and feel the effects of your goodness, in your gracious answer to these our petitions. For this we are persuaded, that the attribute which was given by one of the wisest writers to two of the best emperors; Divus Nerva et divus Trajanus, (saith Tacitus) res olim insociabiles miscuerunt, Imperium et Libertatem; may be truly applied to your Majesty. For never was there such a conservator of regality in a crown, nor ever such a protector of lawful freedom in a subject.
Only this (excellent Sovereign): Let not the sound of grievances, (though it be sad) seem harsh to your princely ears: it is but gemitus columbe, the mourning of a dove, with that patience and humility of heart which appertaineth to loving and loyal subjects. And far be it from us, but that in the midst of the sense of our grievances we should remember and acknowledge the infinite benefits, which by your Majesty next under God we do enjoy; which bind us to wish unto your life fulness of days; and unto your line royal, a succession and continuance even unto the world's end.
It resteth that unto these petitions here included I do add one more that goeth to them all: which is, that if in the words and frame of them there be any thing offensive, or that we have expressed ourselves otherwise than we should or would, that your Majesty would cover it and cast the veil of your grace upon it, and accept of our good intentions and help them by your benign interpretation.
Lastly, I am most humbly to crave a particular pardon for myself that have used these few words, and scarcely should have been able to have used any at all, in respect of the reverence which I bear to your person and judgment, had I not been somewhat relieved and comforted by the experience which in my service and access I have had of continual grace your favour.
The answer to this petition was given on Tuesday the 10th of July, both Houses attending by command. The length of the paper and the shortness of the time was alleged with very good show as a reason for not dealing with all the articles at that time. An obvious distinction of character suggested the separation of those which con
cerned matters of government from those which concerned matters of profit, and the selection of the last (which all related to impositions of one kind or another, and went naturally with the great question which had been so long under debate) to be answered at once. But before he proceeded further, the King called upon Salisbury to declare "both what occasion had moved his Majesty to lay the late Impositions, and how he (as his officer) had observed his direction in the distribution of the same. Who thereupon made" (says Carleton) "a long and good narration, showing the reasons of those impositions, with all the circumstances;-excusing himself for the invention of this means to raise money, upon the last Lord Treasurer; for the occasion, upon the Irish wars in Odo- . hartie's rebellion; for the ratings upon the merchants,-who being assembled from all parts of the kingdom gave their assents; and for the warrantise upon the Judges,-who had confirmed the proceedings in the general by a partial judgment: So as wherever the fault lay (if it were a fault) my Lord stood rectus in curiâ.”1
"Of which he had no sooner made an end" (says another reporter) "but the King (well approving his relation, and adding thereunto many things that were material) commanded the Clerk of the Higher House to read openly some such answers as he had caused to be put in writing to some part of the grievances which had been exhibited by the Lower House, with promise to give answer to the rest before the session ended. The substance whereof was this which followeth :
First, that the payment upon alehouses should cease.
That the impost upon coals shipped from the river of Blith should be taken away.
That the new Drapery should be referred absolutely to the law.
And for the Impositions upon merchandise, he pronounced this answer with his own mouth: that now they had heard the cause and manner of his proceeding in them, his Majesty would make them see that he would be so far from giving his people cause to fear any prejudice by using too severe a hand in that matter, as although he knew that the Lower House was not a place to determine the laws in a case of a private man, much less concerning a Prince's right, yet he was pleased out of his own mere grace to assure them (besides the great abatement which he had made during this sessions of divers imposts to his great loss) that he would be willing to assent to an act by which his power should be suspended
1 Carleton to Edmunds, 13 July, 1610. Addl. MSS. 4176, f. 88. Birch's copy.
from imposing any more upon merchandises, without consent of Parliament."
To "let losers have their words" is excellent advice to the winner, and might well have been acted on in this case by the House of Commons. Whatever lawyers might think of the justice of the judgment in Bates's case, there could be no doubt it was a very strong point in favour of the government. Possession is nine points of the law, and till that judgment was reversed, it could not be denied that the Government was in possession. "Though I am no professor of the law," said Salisbury, "(and therefore mean not to make lawyers sport by putting cases) yet so far as my weak logic will help me to make a formal and a binding argument, I will make use of it rather than to suffer any imputation upon the justice of his Majesty's actions.
"First, I say that whatever is done by the warrant of a legal judg ment, and in his proper seat of justice, is not unlawful.
The new impositions were laid upon merchandises in the port after a legal judgment, whereby his Majesty's right was declared in open Court, judicially argued, and sentenced, in the case of currants. 'And therefore the new Impositions were not unlawful.”2
As against the charge of illegality, the argument seems to me unanswerable. The judgment might be reversed, or the law might be altered; but until one or other were done, I do not see how the conclusion could be resisted. And therefore if the King, having so strong a point in his favour, was willing to compromise the dispute by voluntarily divesting himself of the disputed power for the future, I think the Commons would have done wisely to leave the dispute and take the offer. It was a great surrender; and there was no chance of getting the thing done so quickly, cheaply, and quietly, in any other way.
But if the loser should always be allowed to have his words, it is only because they can do him no good; and we want another proverb to warn him for his own sake not to indulge in them. If Bacon had been employed to draw up the answer to this article as well as the rest, I think he would have left to Salisbury the assertion of the right in law, and made the King say no more than that he was willing to divest himself of it by Act of Parliament. As it was, the implied assumption that he did legally possess the power which the House had just voted contrary to law, and therewithal the implied. censure of their whole proceeding, marred the effect of a concession
1 Parl. Deb., 1610. Appendix, p. 153.
2 Parl. Deb., 1610, p. 158.
3 There is a draft of the answer to the others, in Bacon's hand, with corrections by Salisbury. S. P. Dom. James I., Vol. lvi. no. 19.
which should have been accepted with mere gratitude and joy. How it was accepted we learn from Dudley Carleton, who appears to have been a very dispassionate though a very attentive and intelligent observer. The questions relating to matters of profit (he says) the King presently resolved to the satisfaction of that house in all particulars; save only in the new Inpositions: in which, though he promised to give way to a bill that never any hereafter should be laid but with the assent of Parliament, yet because he did not as freely take away all which were last imposed, they went away ill satisfied which they testified in their next day's meeting, when as subsidies were proposed, and no more could be obtained but one subsidy and a single fifteen: which a knavish burgess said (but in the hearing of few) would do the King much good, and serve as a subpana ad melius respondendum."
That knavish remark, though made in the hearing of few, probably expressed the thoughts of many. The King's last demand for his Tenures was still under consideration; and it was not perhaps the reception of the petition so much as the thought of the impending bargain that suggested that cautious vote. The most discreet and gracious answer could hardly have made them forget that an ampler subsidy would have made the King harder to deal with.
He had asked, in exchange for the things he had consented to part with, 220,000l. On the 13th of July, the Commons agreed among themselves to offer 180,000l. :-a sufficient proof that they at least were really desirous of concluding the bargain. Whether the Government were equally in earnest appears to have been a question with some; though, considering that the Crown had certainly the greater need and apparently the greater gain, it is hard to imagine why. "Now we are come so near a bargain" (writes Carleton on the same day) we shall be able to make judgment at our next conference with the Lords, whether this contract which hath been so long entertained, was from the beginning de veras, as the Lords would have us believe, or de burlas, as some of our wise men still suspect.”2
If the question were to be decided by the result of that conference, the answer must undoubtedly have been, de veras. "Yesterday" (writes Carleton again on the 17th) "we had a conference with the Lords, and nothing concluded in the matter of contract, by reason of the King's absence, but much art used on both sides: on ours to value our offer, which was performed by Sir Edwyn Sandys, and at
1 Carleton to Edmunds, 13 July, 1610. Addl. MSS. 4176, f. 87 b.