Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

James by relieving him from the expense of maintaining needless garrisons : but this, in truth, was almost the only emolument which he was suffered to derive from it; the money paid by the States, amounting to 250,0001., appeared to vanish as soon as it entered the exchequer; the king's debts remained unsatisfied; and, without having availed himself of the sum for any publie service, he quickly found himself as necessitous as ever. It is more than probable that most of the courtiers shared, some with and some without the king's knowledge, in the plunder of this public money ; but the whole responsibility fell on the lord-treasurer, the father-in-law of the discarded favorite, whom Villiers, now absolute ruler of the king and court, had predetermined to ruin. But the fall of this minister was not completed till the year 1619; and in the mean while other subjects claim attention.

CILAPTER

CHAPTER XVI.

1617

Earl of Worcester resigns the office of lord-privy-seal to l'il.

liers created earl of Buckingham.-Lord Ellesmere re. signs.-Bacon keeper of the seals.-Circumstances of El. lesmere's resignation.--His death and character. James's visit to Scotland.-Ile attempts to make himself head of the church, but is opposed by the parliament and clergy ;establishes a court of high commission,-imposes five new articles on the church ;-leaves the country in anger.-Court intrigues.-Coke offers his daughter to Buckingham's bro. ther.- Bacon opposes the match.-Ilis letters aguinst it to Buckingham and to the king.--They are displeased, and Bacon offers to promote the match.---The king's return from Scotland.-Bacon ill received by Buckingham, but soon restored to favor.-Coke readmitted to the council-board. The marriage solemnized.-Coke's wife supported against hin.-Book of sports.-Sabbatarian controversy.-Conduct of the lord-mayor of London.- Arrival and reception of a Russian embassy,--of a Turkish chianx.--Death and

character of sir Ralph Winwood. THE old servants of queen Elizabeth began to be regarded as supernumeraries at the court of her successor, and such of them as yet lingered on the scene were one after another dismissed to a private life to make room for impatient reversionaries who disdained to await the slow course of nature. Edward earl of Worcester, whom James had continued in the post of master of the horse, in which he found him, and

who

who in the earlier part of his reign appears on some occasions, in the sickness or absence of the earl of Salisbury, to have performed much of the duty of a secretary of state, was prevailed upon to accept a pension and the honorary office of president of the council, resigning his former post to Villiers, now baron Whaddon and viscount Villiers, and soon after earl of Buckingham. Neither was lord Ellesmere, with all his merits towards the crown, permitted to die lord-chancellor of England. In the year 1615 we have seen him judged to be at the point of death, and Bacon begging his place: afterwards he recovered sufficiently to fight with great spirit and success the battles of the court of chancery against sir Edward Coke and the king's bench, and to take an active part in the subsequent degradation and censure of that great lawyer. Two letters of lord Ellesmere to the king, earnestly imploring to be relieved from the burden of his great office, in consideration of his age and infirmities, are extant, but both are without dates; to the first of these the king returned a negative, but probably assented to the second, for on March 3rd 1617 he was permitted to resign the seals, which were immediately committed to the custody of Bacon. The title of earl of Bridgewater was conferred upon lord Ellesmere, and a pension intended; but he survived no more than a week the loss of that high dignity which he had enjoyed for twenty years. Different representations have been given of the manner of his quitting office; the two letters above mentioned are in a strain of affect

ing urgency, which appears so natural and sincere that we can scarcely believe his resignation a reluctant one; it is also said, that the king came in person to visit him and to receive the seals from his hands; that he shed tears on parting with so old and respected a servant, and that he declared he would have no other lord-chancellor whilst lord Ellesmere survived to bear that title. All these demonstrations however might be insincere; it clearly appears that the impatience of Bacon to reach the furthest goal of his ambition had been exhibited to his predecessor with a frankness both unusual and offensive; and the old man may be thought to have divested himself with some regret of his tempting spoils, for the sake of being allowed to live out his days unenvied, and to die in peace.

Lord Ellesmere might truly be characterized as a faithful officer of the crown, and there was one particular piece of service for which James never ceased to own himself his debtor.

After the union with Scotland had been finally rejected by the English parliament, the king still sought means to extend-to his Scotish subjects the privileges of Englishmen. A general bill of naturalization would have been the regular mode of accomplishing this object ; but there was no chance of carrying it, and it was necessary to resort to a different expedient.

For the sake of trying the question, one Calvin, a Scotchman born, laid claim to an inheritance in England, notwithstanding the statute which declares

foreigners

foreigners incapable of possessing land within the realm. The court of king's bench, before which the cause was brought; did not choose to take upon itself the sole responsibility of so important a decision; and caused it to be carried into the court of exchequer, where it was considered by the chancellor and the twelve judges, who, after consultation, determined unanimously, that persons born in Scotland since his majesty's accession to the English throne,-postnati, as they were termed, -were to all intents and purposes English subjects. This decision was in fact that of the chancellor, and by it he offended the nation in the same proportion as he gratified the king. It was affirmed that the decision was contrary to all principle and all European precedents; but as neither house of parliament thought proper to take up the cause, it remained of necessity undisturbed, and continued to afford to the whole Scotch nation the privileges both of inheritance and of eligibility to all offices of trust and profit in England, until the union placed the relations of the two countries on a different and a better footing

This act, and other instances of subserviency to the royal will during the reign of James, rendered the character of lord Ellesmere, once general revered, the object of much diversity of judgement; by one party he was eulog'ized as a most upright and exemplary public man, full of justice, moderation, and attachment to the best interests of his country; Osborn on the contrary charges him, in his vague

manner,

« AnteriorContinuar »