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From all these circumstances it plainly appears, that the ancient religion was rising again in formidable strength under the connivance of James and the powerful patronage of the great potentates of Europe; and nothing perhaps but the rival zeal of the puritanical, or earnestly protestant party, would have sufficed to check, while it was yet time, its terrible and baneful progress. Certain events which were at this period agitating a great part of Germany, and in which the fortunes of James's daughter and her family were staked upon the chances of war, afforded a fresh topic to the declaimers against the tyrannical and encroaching spirit of this religion ; and gave occasion to political conduct on the part of the king of Great Britain which sunk him still lower in the estimation of his own subjects and of all Europe.
The kingdom of Bohemia, in which the protestants, or Hussites, composed a majority of the people, had long been involved in disputes, and sometimes in actual warfare, with the emperors of the house of Austria, who were its kings, on account of the violations of the laws made for the protection of the protestants of which these princes were systematically guilty. At length, roused by intolerable wrongs, the people had risen in arms, and, renouncing all allegiance to the new emperor Ferdinand,—who had caused himself to be proclaimed their king in virtue of a kind of mock-election carried under the influence of his predecessor,—they prepared to strengthen themselves by the choice of
a new sovereign and protector. Their nomination fell upon the elector-palatine; one of the most considerable princes of protestant Germany by the extent, riches and population of his own dominions, and the strongest of them all, by his foreign alliances; being nephew to Maurice prince of Orange and to the duke of Bouillon, as well as son-in-law to the king of Great Britain. Frederic, unable to resist the dazzling offer of a crown, notified an acceptance, by which he incurred the enmity of the whole house of Austria, without waiting for the advice either of James or of Maurice, which he had affected to ask, but which he well knew would prove contrary to his wishes ; and he was crowned at Prague in November 1619. Whether or not the king should recognise his royal title, now became a weighty question; and one which, it is possible, might have perplexed and divided the ablest politicians of Europe : but it was decided by James, after his usual manner, rather according to the maxims of his boasted king-craft, that is, the dictates of what he regarded as his personal interest,—than any sound or enlightened views of general policy; nor, to say the truth, was it viewed by those who espoused the opposite opinion through a medium much less clouded by passion and prejudice.
Archbishop Abbot had been from the first a strenuous partisan of the palatine; and being prevented by illness from assisting at the council called on this occasion, he addressed a letter to secretary Naunton, in which he advises that there should be “no going
back, but a countenancing of” the cause of the new king“ against all the world; yea, so far as with ringing of bells and making of boufires in London.” “I am satisfied in my conscience,” he proceeds, “that the cause is just, wherefore they have rejected that proud and bloody man;.... And when God hath set up the prince that is chosen to be a mark of honor through all Christendom, to propagate his gospel, and to protect the oppressed, I dare not, for
my part, give advice but to follow where God leads.” The worthy prelate goes on to give reasons for his counsel, drawn from his own notions of the approaching fulfilment of certain texts in the book of Revelations denouncing the overthrow of the beast; then, descending to the human means of bringing about this great catastrophe, he expresses his hope that for the supplies necessary to carry on the war, God will provide : “ The parliament,” he adds, “is the old and honorable way, but how assured at this time I know not; yet I will hope the best : certainly, if countenance be given to the action, many brave spirits will voluntarily go. Our great master, in sufficient want of money, gave some aid to the duke of Savoy, and furnished out a pretty army
in the cause of Cleve. We must try once again what can be done in this business of a higher nature, and all the money that may be spared is to be turned that way. And perhaps God provided the jewels that were laid up in the Tower to be gathered by the mother for the preservation of her daughter, who, like a noble princess, hath professed
to her husband not to leave herself one jewel, rather than not maintain so religious and righteous a causea."
Though himself a commentator on the Revelations, and a champion of the opinion that popery was the Babylonish abomination, and the pope Antichrist, king James was by no means prepared to adopt on this occasion the primate's confident interpretation of the divine decrees : He was little disposed to devote to the cause of his son-in-law " all the money that might be spared” from the gratification of his insatiable favorite and his family; still less was he inclined, by rushing into the hazards and expenses of a distant war, to involve himself in cares and embarrassments which might well be shunned; and to hasten the arrival of that evil day, which he already saw impending, when his necessities would again compel him to assemble an intractable and exasperated house of commons. These objections were enforced by others not less characteristic of the monarch :/ It was incompatible with all his notions of the divine inalienable right of kings, to support the Bohemians in deposing, upon any plea or pretext, the sovereign who had once occupied their throne, and electing another at their own pleasure: There was an implicit tie, he observed, among princes, which ought to withhold them from ever countenancing such practices against each other. The success too of his favorite project of a Spanish match, depended,
a Biographia Brit., art. Abbot.
as he believed, on his abstaining from all interference with the interests of the emperor ;—the head of that great Austrian family which by its union aimed at the subjugation of Europe. Finally, his vanity persuaded him that the long-established fame of his wisdom and equity had entitled him to become the arbiter of the strife; and that, without raising a regiment, he could cause his award to be received as an irreversible sentence by all the contending parties. Nothing, he conceived, was necessary but to visit all by his ambassadors, and explain to them at large them the dictates of his profound and dispassionate judgement. With this view he had already, before the election of the palatine, dispatched Hay, now viscount Doncaster, to negotiate between the Bohemians and the emperor. It is true that this potentate, not choosing yet to declare himself upon
the subject, had constantly avoided the sight of the representative of his Britannic majesty; and, by empty promises of admitting him to an audience at some future time, had drawn him to follow, and, as it were, to hunt him, in the various progresses through his dominions which he made in the course of his warlike preparations;--much to the inconvenience of the ambassador, and, in the judgement of the rest of Europe, to the scorn and mockery of his master. But James, with that obstinate credulity inseparable from the vanity of a weak or a sanguine character, clung fast to the opinion of his own importance, and the reverence entertained for him by the courts of Vienna and Madrid ; and declining either to recog