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judges well to it; for in a weapon what is a back without an edge?
Thirdly, the King shall continue and add reputation to the attorney's and solicitor's place by this orderly advancement of them, which two places are the champion's places for his rights and prerogative, and being stripped of their expectations and successions to great place will wax vile, and then his Majesty's prerogative goeth down the wind. Besides, the remove of my Lord Coke to a place of less profit (though it be with his will) yet will be thought abroad a kind of discipline to him for opposing himself in the King's causes, the example whereof will contain others in more awe.
Lastly, whereas now it is voiced abroad touching the supply of places, as if it were a matter of labour and canvass and money, and other persons are chiefly spoken to be the men, and the great suitors; this will appear to be the King's own act, and is a course so natural and regular as it is without all suspicion of those by-courses, to the King's infinite honour; for men say now, the King can make good second judges, as he hath done lately; but that is no mastery, because men sue to be kept from these places. But now is the trial in those great places how his Majesty can hold good, where there such is great suit and
In this case, Bacon's advice was adopted in all points but one. Coke was made Chief Justice of England: Hobart Chief Justice of the Common Pleas : himself Attorney General, and Yelverton Solicitor. Only instead of hanging out the hope of a Privy Councillor's place as an inducement to Coke to be more conformable, the King made him a Privy Councillor at once, which had a very different effect.
While the Government in England was thus struggling with the difficulties incident to the Parliamentary system at home, a great experiment was in progress for the introduction of Parliamentary government into Ireland: an experiment very remarkable, when the condition of things and the state of opinion in both countries is considered, and very creditable in my opinion both to the advisers and to those who adopted the advice.
If the Reformation had taken the same hold of the native population in Ireland as in England and Scotland, the case would have been
manageable. But while of two religions mutually intolerant and aggressive the government professed one and the people the other, a Parliament which fairly represented the people was not an instrument by means of which government could have been carried on. Protestants still hoped that with the help of the English and Scotch colonists the nation would ultimately be brought round to the true faith. But until that were accomplished, a truly representative Parliament in Ireland would be in effect a Roman Catholic Parliament; between which and the Puritan Parliament of England what could be expected but discord? But though the Catholic party could not be allowed to have a Parliamentary majority (seeing that the Government could not be other than Protestant, and constitutional government with a majority against it is an impossibility), there was no reason why they should not have a Parliamentary representation. An opposition may have much influence in a legislative assembly, although it be in a minority and it was better for Ireland to be governed by a Parliament in which the Catholics had a considerable though not an overruling voice, than to be governed without any Parliament at all; which was the alternative. For that Ireland should be governed by England was a necessity imposed by the nature of things: it being her misfortune to be so placed in the world as to form a military position, which England was obliged for her own security to take and hold. And if she was to have the benefit of a Parliament, it must be one in which England could command a majority.
In some respects the state of things was favourable for the experiment. The existing Parliamentary constitution of Ireland was, upon any view of the case, inadequate to the existing condition of the population. At the accession of Elizabeth there were some 15 counties, each sending two knights to the Lower House, and containing among them some thirty boroughs, each of which sent its two burgesses. In the course of her reign the rest of the island was converted into "shire-ground," as it was called, and the represented counties were increased by 17, but in these there was no borough representation at all. When James took the business in hand, he found that among the representatives of the counties, old and new together, the government could reckon upon a small majority;' but that the old boroughs (being mostly in the South, where English colonization had not prospered) turned the balance against them. The natural and apparently the fair remedy for this was to erect within the new counties of the North, where lay the present strength and future hopes of Protestantism, their fair proportion of new 1 Gardiner, ii. p. 306.
boroughs. And this remedy he now resolved to try. His right to erect boroughs where he pleased does not appear to have been disputed, and I do not think he can be justly charged with making an intemperate use of it. The selection of the places was left to Sir Arthur Chichester, who best understood the state of the country; and though care was of course taken to make such a selection as would secure the return of a Protestant majority, yet the fact that upon the first fair trial of strength between the two parties the opposition mustered 97 in a house of 224, proves that the Catholic party was by no means reduced to insignificance. That they would be satisfied with a constitution which placed them in a minority at all, was not indeed to be expected: they would have preferred no doubt to govern themselves for themselves, without reference to England. But that could not be. In the mean time they had a stroke in the management of their affairs which was not to be despised. Compare the numbers, and it will be seen that the native element had a voice in the national counsels very much more powerful than we allow to it now. At this day, if all the Irish members were to vote as one man against a bill in the House of Commons, it might nevertheless be carried against them by a majority of five to one. Under the constitution as thus reformed by James, the Irish party (even if we assume that not a single Irish member, properly so called, voted with the government,) could not be defeated by a majority of more than seven to three.
In the spring of 1613 all things were at length ready for the experiment: the bills prepared, transmitted to England, revised by the Council, and returned under the Great Seal; licence granted to summon and hold Parliament; members elected, and the meeting fixed for the 18th of May. "I wish" (said Chichester, writing to Sir John Davies in the previous August) "we might carry it, and prevail in the matters to be handled in this Parliament, as is behoveful for his Majesty's service and good of the kingdom; but I doubt there will be great opposition to all that is good, and we must encounter them the best we may."1 A quiet start was hardly to be hoped for, and it was perhaps lucky that the opposition made a false one, which put them unmistakably in the wrong. The first business was to elect a Speaker. Sir John Davies, having been recommended by the Deputy, was duly proposed in the House, and (the motion being opposed) was elected on a division by 127 to 97. But the Noes, who remained in the House while the Ayes went out, took the opportunity of their absence to elect their own man and
1 Chichester to Davies, 14 Aug. 1612. Printed in the Life of Davies prefixed to his Historical Tracts,' p. xix.
seat him in the chair; from which the majority, when they returned, had some difficulty in dislodging him. Being however a majority, they succeeded by the use of natural forces in removing the intruder and planting Sir John Davies bodily in his place, and so settled that question; leaving to the dissentients no choice but submission o secession. They chose secession. Acting in concert with the members of their party in the Upper House, they refused to take their places unless the members for the new boroughs should be sequestered from the House until their elections had been examined. And as that could not be, they requested that the matter might be referred to the King and that they might send a deputation to plead their cause before him.
The request, upon the recommendation of Chichester, was granted, and in July 1613 the case was heard before the King and Council with extraordinary patience and indulgence. The complainants were not limited to matters which bore upon the justification of the act in question, such as the character of the new boroughs, the mode of the elections, the constitution of the House, or the order of proceeding in it but were allowed to put in budget after budget of miscellaneous grievances, extending over the whole field of Irish government. Nor were any of these set aside as irrelevant. Every kind of allegation was received and listened to which would have been fit to bring before a committee appointed to enquire into the general grievances of the Commonwealth; and so far was the indulgence carried that the discussions ended in a resolution to send four Commissioners over to Ireland with instructions to investigate them all upon the spot.
It is to this stage of the proceedings that Bacon's next letter refers. I do not find that he had anything to do either with the project of calling this Irish Parliament or with the measures taken by way of preparation. I do not even know whether he thought it a safe experiment in itself, or whether he did not think that the creation of so many new boroughs, with the manifest if not the avowed object of making a government majority, would spoil the value of the majority which it made. I do not remember in any of his own papers of advice about Ireland any allusion to an Irish Parliament as a convenient instrument for the cure of existing evils. I have no doubt however that, when the King had gone so far, he would have advised him to go through with it.
The matters to be enquired into by the Commissioners were set out at length in their commission and instructions, which were drawn up by the Attorney General while Bacon was at Gorhambury, and included abuses of all kinds,—such as extortions and oppressions by 2 c
soldiers, by carriage masters, by sheriffs, by informers, by officers. and inferior clerks in Courts of Justice, etc. Bacon did not see them until they were read to the Lords of the Council on the 13th of August, when, finding that he had more objections to make than he thought it becoming to insist on before the Council, he set them down on a paper and sent it to the King. Of this paper I have not succeeded in finding any traces; but the letter which enclosed it has been preserved, and may now speak for itself. After what I have said it will be intelligible enough, and all that I know of Bacon's interference in the matter comes from it.
TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MATY 1
It may please your most exc. Mty,
I was at my house in the country what time the Commissions and Instructions for Ireland were drawn by Mr. Attorney, but I was present this day the forenoon when they were read before my Lords; and excepted to some points, whereof use was made, and some alterations followed. But I could not in decency except to so much as I thought there mought be cause, lest it mought be thought an humour of contradiction or an effect of emulation; which I thank God I am not much troubled with. For so your M's business be well done, whosoever be the instrument, I rest joyful. But because this is a tender piece of service, and that which was well directed by your M's high wisdom may be marred in the manage, and that I have been so happy as to have my poor service in this business of Ireland (which I have minded with all my powers, because I thought your estate laboured), graciously accepted by your sac. M, I do presume to present to your M's remembrance (whom I perceive to be one of the most truly politic princes that ever reigned, and the greatest height of my poor abilities is but to understand you well) some few points in a memorial enclosed, which I wish to be changed.
They tend to this scope principally; that I think it safest for your M. at this time, hoc agere: which is to effect that you may hold a Parliament in Ireland with sovereignty, concord and contentment, and moderate freedom, and so bind up the wound made, without clogging the commission with too many other matters, and to take in other points of the grievances but obiter. Whereas these instructions are so marshalled as if the grievances Addl. MSS. 19,402 fo. 77. Original: own hand.