« AnteriorContinuar »
tented to pass an act to restrain him hereafter from imposing upon merchandises, his heirs and successors; but not to take away those that be; otherwise than by leaving them to our consideration to transpose as we think fit, if any be unduly rated, or in lieu of them to raise any other benefit' of equal benefit.
2. Prohibitions, and Proclamations, and 4 Shires.
4 Shire, never had any intention to deny justice. He suspends his consideration till the end of Midsummer term next: from which time forward he will leave them to the course of law and justice.2
If we had a fuller report of the substance of this letter we should be better able to understand the state of the question which the House had now to consider. We may assume however that the eight articles proposed by Salisbury to be petitioned for by both Houses had been approved by the King, and that the particulars mentioned in this letter were to be taken as in addition or explanation-not in substitution: so that the question would be what amount of subsidy they would be willing to give, upon the assumption that those articles would be conceded. The prognostics were not favourable. The debate which was interrupted by the King's message of the 17th turned entirely upon the question of Supply, and seemed to be tending to a direct negative. The note of a speech by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, (Francis's half-brother), who appears to have been a good commonwealthsman, shows very clearly the view taken by the opposition.
As great reason to deny a supply by reason of the breach of the contract, as there was to break the contract. It was said that both of them should go together. He thinks it not fit to proceed with the supply. His
I. Upon the last subsidy there was given to the subject a show of ease of some grievances.
1. The King hath called in the Impositions of Alehouses, which he confesseth some loss to the King, but no less honour to him.
2. The time long ere we shall have benefit by the repeal of the licence of Wines.
3. The Patent of New Drapery is not yet revoked; or, if it shall be, it is said that it will be upon the point of mispleading; so that there shall be no judgment for the right of the subject.
4. The matter of Coal, whereof the imposition is taken away, was not past in benefit 2001. per annum; only the coals of Blythe and Sunderland. These matters offered by the Lords now are not the principal; no matters ecclesiastical, proclamations, or such like. And therefore wished that we would not confer with the Lords.
1 So MS. Qu. revenue?
2 Parl. Deb. 1610, p. 137.
II. No precedent that ever several Subsidies were granted in one Parliament, except in this Parliament.
No extraordinary cause. The wants of the King drew on all these subsidies formerly granted, and must now draw on this. These are not extraordinary, but ordinary. I would they were not so ordinary.
And so he concluded that we might not trouble ourselves any further with considering of supply, except the contract be set on foot again.1
The debate was not resumed till the 23rd; the 21st and 22nd having been consumed in a discussion of the King's right to talk privately with members of the House concerning matters pending in Parliament; which ended in a resolution to do nothing upon the present case, but to make an order to prevent the like hereafter. And when the main question was taken up again, it was evident that the King's explanatory message had not much mended matters. He had said that unless they would grant him the supply and support which he required the contract could not proceed, and the House seemed disposed to adopt Sir Nathaniel Bacon's motion, and reply in effect that unless the contract proceeded they would not grant any supply at all. Nothing was said about the petition from the two Houses which the Lords had desired: but it was proposed to put it to the question-" whether, things standing as they did, they should give a supply." Upon which (if I understand the notes of the debate rightly), it was moved by way of amendment "that a Committee should be chosen to consider how they might yield a supply."3
It must have been in proposing or supporting this amendment that Bacon made that "brief speech at the end of the session 7 Jacobi" which was found among his papers and printed in the Resuscitatio;-though the manuscript shews that upon second thoughts he had decided to leave it out of the collection.
The manuscript is in the British Museum, and belongs to the collection of Orationes, Acta, Instrumenta, circa res civiles. Originally it was a very fair transcript: but some passages have been struck out and some added by Bacon's own hand, and finally a line has been drawn across the whole page. As we know, however, from the note in Mr. Gardiner's manuscript that the first transcript repre
1 Parl. Deb. 1610, p. 135.
2 Thursday, 22 Nov. 1610.... It is therefore ordered that no member of this house do hereafter presume or take upon him as a private man or otherwise to deliver his opinion or the reason of his opinion by way of conference or otherwise touching any matter depending in consultation in this House either to the King's Majesty or any of the Lords, without the assent, direction, or special order of the House in that behalf. Cott. MSS. Tit. F. 131.
3 Parl. Deb. 1610, p. 143.
sented substantially the speech which was actually spoken, I shall give it first in that shape, and exhibit the successive alterations afterwards.
A [BRIEF] SPEECH USED IN THE END OF THE SESSION PARLIAMENT [7 JACOBI] PERSUADING [SOME] SUPPLY TO BE GIVEN TO HIS MAJESTY; [WHICH SEEMED THEN TO STAND IN DOUBTFUL TERMS, AND PASSED UPON THIS SPEECH.]1
The proportion of the King's supply is not now in question : for when that shall be, it may be I shall be of opinion that we should give so now, as we may the better give again. But as things stand for the present, I think the point of honour and reputation is that which his Majesty standeth most upon; that our gift may at least be like those showers that may serve to lay the winds, though they do not sufficiently water the earth.
To labour to persuade you I will not; for I know not into what form to cast my speech. If I should enter into a laudative (though never so due and just) of the King's great merits, it may be taken for flattery: if I should speak of the strait obligations which intercede between the King and the Subject in case of the King's want, it were a kind of concluding the house: if I should speak of the dangerous consequence which Kings' want may reverberate upon subjects, it might have a shew of a secret menace.
These arguments are I hope needless, and do better in your minds than in my mouth. But this give me leave to say, that whereas the example of Cyrus was used, who sought his supply from those upon whom he had bestowed his benefits, we must always remember that there are as well benefits of the scepter as benefits of the hand; as well of government as liberality. These I am sure we will acknowledge to have come plena manu amongst us all, and all those whom we represent; and therefore it is every man's head in this case that must be his counsellor, and every man's heart his orator; and to those inward powers more forcible than any man's speech, I leave it. Howbeit, I was sorry to hear such a counterpoint of the wants of the kingdom sounded, to rebound to that which is already noised of the wants of the King; for it cannot be pleasing to God above to have his blessings so extenuated. Sure I am I see feasting,
1 Harl. MSS. 6797. The words within brackets are inserted in Bacon's hand.
rich apparel, great portions given in marriages, fair buildings everywhere, and other magnificence; and in a word I see much excess, which though it be a cause of poverty, yet it is a sign of plenty.
Therefore to conclude, since you call to the question, I fear not the question, but that the House will go the right way, which I pray God to direct you to do.
So the speech stood in the manuscript before it was touched, and if it be compared with the note of " Mr. Solicitor's" speech (Parl. Debates, 1610, p. 143) on the 23rd of November, there can be no doubt that it was a report of the speech as spoken: only that the spoken speech appears to have ended with a recommendation that "the matters offered by way of retribution" should be examined seriatim, by themselves or by a Committee.
The first correction Bacon made in the manuscript was the beginning of a fresh sentence at the end; the words "For howsoever the House do dispute things wisely" being added in his hand. But instead of finishing the sentence he next proceeded to draw a line through the whole of the last paragraph-from "Therefore" to "wisely," and to substitute the following: "I should wrong the House to make long speech in that which concerneth a free gift, and therefore I wish it may go to the question."
Then he drew a line across the whole page from "Howbeit I was sorry," etc., to the end: but restoring the words "I wish it may go to the question" at the top of the page, and so leaving the conclusion in the form in which Rawley printed it, and in which it has always appeared-" and to those inward powers, more forcible than any man's speech, I leave it and wish it may go to the question."
Finally he drew a line across the whole, as if he thought it after all not worth preserving.
The fact (I suspect) was, that he had at first mistaken the occasion on which the speech was made. On the 11th of July, towards the end of the session immediately preceding, there had been a motion for "some supply to be given to his Majesty," the fate of which seemed at one time very doubtful, though it ultimately passed. (See p. 206; and C. J. p. 448). This speech would have suited that occasion quite well. It is probable, though he is not mentioned in the Journals among the speakers, that he did make one of the same tenour and he may easily have mistaken this for the draft of it. In endeavouring to recall the words he had used he would recover his recollection of the other circumstances, and remember that it was a speech spoken at another time, when, though the occasion was
similar, the result was different. Not being entitled to preservation therefore as a specimen of successful persuasion, it seemed to have no other title; and instead of correcting the heading again, he simply drew his pen across both pages.
What effect it had upon the House on the 23rd of November we do not know; but though it may have helped to divert them from a flat refusal of all supply, it did not prevent other speeches from being made which were almost as fatal to harmony as such a refusal would have been: and though the debate ended in a resolution to send the King a message of thanks and explanations, the accounts he heard of what had been said in the course of it satisfied him that there was no chance of agreement and that his only course was to dissolve the Parliament. The following letter, written to Salisbury from the Court at Royston on the 25th of November, gives a lively picture of the King's state of mind, and makes all that followed quite intelligible.
"He hath received by Sir Roger Aston a copy of the order set down against the next meeting of the House; which his Majesty doth collect into three points. First to give reasons why they should yield to no supply; secondly to examine the answers to the grievances, and wherein they are not satisfactory; and thirdly, to consider what further immunities and easements are to be demanded for the people. His Majesty doth also perceive, both by my Lord of Montgomery and by Sir Roger Aston, that you could wish that his Majesty and your Lordships might have a meeting to consult of his affairs in parliament.
"To both these his Majesty willeth this to be written :
"That he maketh no doubt but that the cause of your late advice to adjourn the House was for that you foresaw they would do worse on Saturday than they had done on Friday; and how you are now assured that when they meet again on Thursday they will not be in the same mood, his Majesty would be glad to know. For he assureth himself that if your Lordships thought the House would follow the same humour, you would not advise their meeting. His Highness wisheth your Lordships to call to mind that he hath now had patience with this assembly these seven years, and from them received more disgraces, censures, and ignominies, than ever Prince did endure. He followed your Lordships' advices in having
1 "Sir Herbert Croft: Fit to make known to the King wherein we are not satisfied, and what we do desire, and to give thanks for that which he hath granted.
"Which was concluded upon by a question, and order taken that none should depart forth of the town, sub pœna of committing to the Tower." Parl. Deb. 1610, p. 145.