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to make the bed she had to lie in, her fate was much to be pitied. I do not find that she suffered any severity or privation beyond restraint of liberty and separation from her husband; and yet it is quite possible that the failure of her health and the breaking down of her mind which followed was a direct consequence of her imprisonment. Her previous conduct shews that she had much spirit and little patience, and she was not an unlikely bird to kill herself against the bars of her cage. As yet however, if we may judge from the report we have of her half a year after, when upon the marriage of the Lady Elizabeth "she showed her joy by buying four new gowns, one of which cost 15007.," there were no symptoms of an issue so tragical.
William Seymour remained abroad till after her death. In the beginning of 1616 he begged pardon for his youthful transgression, and obtained permission to return: in November of the same year, on occasion of the creation of the Prince of Wales, he was made a Knight of the Bath: in the beginning of 1618, married the daughter of the Earl of Essex: in 1621 succeeded by the death of his grandfather (his father and brother having died before) to the honours of the house of Hertford: and lived to deserve the gratitude of the House of Stuart by such services as a subject can rarely render to a Sovereign.
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. lxxii. no. 28. (Calendar, p. 170.)
THE preliminaries of the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth had been finally arranged, and the contract signed, in May 1612. In September, the young Elector Palatine was expected to come for his wife.
By ancient custom, which had grown into law, there was due to the King, upon the marriage of his eldest daughter, an "Aid" from his subjects. And this was now to be levied. When a similar Aid was called for two years before on occasion of the Prince being made a Knight, Salisbury being then the supreme manager of affairs, the lawyer's work in preparing commissions and instructions would naturally be laid upon the Attorney General, who was Salisbury's own man. But now that the rest of the Council were left to get their work done as well as they could in their own way, it seems that they found the Solicitor a more effective instrument. Northampton, whose position gave him the lead, had not hitherto shown any partiality for Bacon, but it was necessary to find some one who could be trusted for despatch of business, and he concurred with the rest in putting this business into Bacon's hands. Sending to Rochester (who I presume was with the King) a report of Council business, apparently on the 3rd of August, he writes
"Mr. Solicitor this day was ready to have informed the board touching his own industry and care in drawing the matter of the Aid for the marriage of her Grace, and the circumstances that belong to it,—that is, Commissions, Instructions, and Letters,-in some better form and method than was used at the creation of the Prince. For the form legal, in respect of many burdens which it brings, being drawn into a better form upon the King's admittance for the subject's ease that neither his estate be rifled nor executions in this kind left as records to future times with heavy weights, left some things crude which are now digested and drawn both into course and use more orderly. The Council board was very weak this day in number. . . and therefore the cause craving a more complete audience, that every one may add or alter where he finds just cause, it is put off till Friday next.”1
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. lxx. no. 25.
And again on the 8th
The matter of the Aid (for the matching of the best and most virtuous young Lady that since the Conquest hath been sent from hence) having been discontinued ever since the time of Henry 7, falls upon a question whether it be to be levied more conveniently (both for the Prince and Subject) according to the legal form, which rifles and reveals estates without any greater benefit to the King, and so galls with acrimony, or by commission, which in some respects to be expressed at more length is better for the King and the subject, and comes with satisfaction and easiness, whereof the late experience of that for the Prince gives a precedent.
'For the better fitting of this service to time present, my L. Chancellor, as a Lord paramount in his own element of law, and Mr. Solicitor as a person very apt in that faculty both to apprehend and add, have acquainted the Lords yesterday with that course and form which both they by their rules and the Lords by their reasons did best approve; a brief abstract of which I thought good to present to your Lordship," etc.1
The result of the deliberation was a formal letter to Bacon from the Lords of the Council, requiring him to prepare for the King's signature commissions for the levying of the Aid, "and also to draw such Instructions for the better direction of the Commissioners herein as to his wisdom should seem best.2
These Instructions therefore must be regarded as something more than a piece of ordinary routine work. They were the work of Bacon both in suggestion and execution, and had reference to matters which in the critical relation now subsisting between the King and the people were both delicate and difficult. Fortunately the occasion was a popular one; for the Elector was a Protestant and the Lady Elizabeth was a favourite with the people. But the matter was taxation, which is vexatious to an Englishman even when imposed with his own consent; much more when it comes upon him out of ordinary course and in the name of a feudal privilege.
The manuscript in which I find the letter last quoted is entitled "a relation how the business passed for the levying and collecting the aid to his Majesty's use for the marriage of the Lady Elizabeth's grace, his eldest daughter; together with copies of all the Commissions and instructions concerning the same; dated the 24th of January 1612." But it is imperfect in itself, and seems more imperfect than it really is, the sheets having become separated, and been bound up into separate volumes. The portion of it however which contains the Instructions to the Commissioners charged with the duty of collecting the Aid appears to be complete.
1 Ib. no. 30.
2 Harl. MSS. 354, fo. 9.
They are the Instructions which were sent for the King's signature; and were accompanied with the following letter from Bacon to the King.
It may please your most excellent Maty.
This bill containeth the form of Instructions to be sent down with the commissions concerning the aid into every county. And it is devised,-because your M. should not be troubled with signing every particular instruction as you were the last time, that your M. signature be only to this draft, and the several commissions to be signed by six of your M. Privy Council, who are authorised likewise thereunto by letters under your M. signature: drawn and reformed in divers parts by the special direction of the Lord Chancellor and Lord Privy Seal, and others of your Highness' Privy Council.
The copy of the Instructions themselves begins at the top of a page, and has no heading, which makes it probable that something has been lost. But though they may have been introduced by some preamble, the articles are evidently complete. The date of the composition was probably August 1612.
[INSTRUCTIONS TO THE COMMISSIONERS FOR COLLECTING THE AID ON THE MARRIAGE OF THE PRINCESS ELIZABETH.] 2
First, you shall understand that the service wherein you may deserve well by your diligent and discreet execution of his Majesty's commission resteth generally upon two parts: The one that the Aid may in a reasonable manner rise best for his Majesty's profit; the other (which his Majesty esteemeth no less), that it may be levied with as little trouble, charge, or discontent to the country as may be. For the former of these you are not altogether to be led by the proportion of that which was done in the Prince's Aid; for first his Majesty did then observe great difference in that aid between the service done by the Commissioners in some countries and in some others; whereby his M. now expecteth upon the second trial that those which did well then should continue to do well still, and those which neglected then should come forward to do better: Secondly, it is somewhat to be
1 Harl. MSS. 298, fo. 13 b.
2 Ibid. fo. 10.
considered that his Maty took that aid as soon as it was due, which was when the Prince's Highness came to the years of 15; whereas in this aid his M. hath deferred to call for it now divers years after it hath been due by law, until the treaty of the marriage of the Lady Elizabeth were actually in some forwardness: And lastly you cannot but know that the aid for the Prince (though there could not be an occasion of greater comfort) yet drew no such present charge upon his M. whereas this is coupled with a real and present charge. And for the second part, amongst other things there is no better way to give contentment unto the country than to let them rightly understand and perceive fully how just cause they have not only to content themselves, but to acknowledge his M. great favour in giving liberty to compound, and not proceeding only by the course of law. For the course [of law] must have had these parts. First, men must have sent their evidences to the Commissioners, which is troublesome; the same evidences must have been looked into by the Commissioners, and especially by the Feodaries and Escheators; and though the inspection be meant for the tenure, yet incidently it might disclose the state and title; then must have followed a distinguishment between the Knight's service land and the Soccage, and thereby if men could not have showed plain matter for Soccage, a Knight's service tenure might upon the sudden have been charged upon the lands for ever: Then likewise must the value of all Soccage lands have been discovered, and the whole value of the aid according to the rate of the Statute must have grown into the nature of a debt to his M. And of all this must there have been made up a roll, and so a perpetual record of the tenures and values, which values of record might have turned to the prejudice of the subject in finding of offices and other assessments. This being the course of necessity to have been held in a legal proceeding, you see plainly how gracious this course of composition is, which you shall do well also to express for his M. honour and the country's better satisfaction.
And now having acquainted you with these two general heads of this service, for your more particular instructions you shall observe the articles following, and so follow the particular instructions.
That your meetings and sittings be in the most public places of the county, and the same to be in more or fewer places according as the county is great or small.