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1621

YELVERTON'S CASE.

115

voices were raised, demanding that he should first be heard in his defence. Bishop Morton attempted to mediate. "The words," he said, "were scandalous, whatsoever their meaning was. But let us hear what meaning he places on them himself." Against the suggestion thus made, Arundel rose defiantly. “Sir Henry Yelverton," he said, "is not judged unheard. He spake the words openly in this House. He had time to ex

plain himself, and his speech we have in writing." But neither Arundel nor Buckingham was able to carry the House with him on such a question. The Lord Treasurer and the Archbishop of Canterbury joined in protesting against a doctrine that an accused person was not to be heard in his own defence. Dorset, Suffolk, and Southampton followed in their wake. At last, in order to satisfy the exigencies of the King, it was agreed that the words spoken touched the King's honour as the House did 'yet conceive.' No final judgment was to be passed on them till the prisoner had been heard.

May 14.

Yelverton heard.

was true.

1

Accordingly, on the 14th, Yelverton was brought to the bar, to answer for himself. Unable to offer any legal proof that Mompesson had not invented the messages which he had brought from Buckingham, he was reduced to explain away his words as best he might. There must have been many present who felt that the spirit of his accusation But there was no evidence before them to show that it was literally true, and the Lords did not venture, perhaps did not wish, to cast upon the King the stigma which would be implied in a dismissal of the charge. Yelverton was accordingly declared to have attacked the honour of the King. With regard to the words spoken against Buckingham, the House was less unanimous. All were willing to declare them to be scandalous; but a minority-we know not how large, nor of whom it was composed-protested against declaring them to be false.2 The prisoner was then sentenced to pay ten thousand marks to the King, and five thousand to Buckingham; to be imprisoned during pleasure, and to ask pardon for his offence.

May 16. His

sentence.

On the following day the House proceeded to deal with 2 Elsing's Notes, 79.

1 Elsing's Notes, 77.

Arundel, whose indomitable pride was unconquered. To the House, he said, he was ready to apologize. To Lord Spencer he had nothing to say. He persisted in his refusal, and was sent as a prisoner to the Tower, from which he was only released at the special request of the King, and upon an engagement from the Prince of Wales that he would see a reconciliation effected between the two peers.1

May 17. Arundel committed to the

Tower.

By Buckingham the result of the proceedings against Yelverton was regarded in the light of a personal triumph. He was now, he was heard openly to boast, "Parliament-proof." With that magnificent display of generosity which he knew well how to assume towards a beaten adversary, he at once remitted his share of the fine, and the Prince was requested by the House to express a hope that the King would be equally merciful.2

against Buckingham's brothers withdrawn.

Not only had the favourite succeeded in bringing his own barque into smooth waters, but he had carried his brothers with Charges him into a safe harbour. With the abandonment of the inquiry into the patent for alehouses, the charge against Christopher Villiers fell to the ground, and Sir Edward, who had lately returned from his mission to Germany, was allowed to take his seat in the Commons without further molestation, though he prudently declined to avail himself of the permission till the storm had completely blown over.3

Seldom has the unfitness of the Lords to act as a judicial body been more clearly brought out than in the treatment

18

28°

' Chamberlain to Carleton, May 19, June 9, S. P. Dom. cxxi. 44, 88. Salvetti's News-Letter, May It is worth while to compare this story, as told at the time, with that which has been adopted by subsequent writers from Wilson's history. Wilson makes Spencer follow Arundel with an imaginary speech, "When my ancestors were keeping sheep, yours were plotting treason," omitting all reference to Spencer's real words. Both the letter and the spirit of the narrative are thus entirely sacrificed.

2 Lords' Journals, iii. 123, 124. Chamberlain to Carleton, May 19, S. P. Dom. cxxi. 44.

3 Lords' Journals, iii. 76; Proceedings and Debates, ii. 3.

1621

FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

117

which Yelverton received at their hands. No real effort was made to sound to the bottom that evil system of which Yelverton's hints had disclosed the abysses. No attempt Liberty of speech. was made to define the law which limited the free expression of opinion on the actions of persons in authority. It was enough that Yelverton had uttered or implied a condemnation of the King's proceedings; and even those who believed that what he said was true, shrank from pronouncing a sentence in his favour.

Yet, in truth, though much may be done by the substitution of trained and independent tribunals for a body composed, like the House of Lords, of men either dependent on the Court, or influenced by their own political feelings, the fault did not lie entirely with the composition of the tribunal by which Yelverton was tried. It is only when the great truth that liberty of speech is a good thing in itself has sunk deeply into the national conscience, that such scenes as those which attended Yelverton's condemnation become impossible, and unhappily the Peers did not stand alone in their ignorance of this corner-stone of freedom.

Proclamation against free speech.

During the early years of James's reign, indeed—except when actual treason was supposed to have been committedlittle had been heard of penalties for words spoken or printed on political subjects. The times were quiet, and there was no general inclination to take part in the quarrel which divided the Crown from the House of Commons. With the attack upon the Palatinate, all this was changed. The nation was resolutely bent upon following one line of policy. The King was no less resolutely bent upon following another. Hard words were spoken everywhere, if not of the King himself, of the King's ally, the King of Spain; and these words sometimes found their way into print, or into sermons which, in those days, had a real political importance. James was sorely irritated. Of the real 1620. benefits of freedom of utterance he knew as little as any of his contemporaries. He issued a proclamation 1 forbid

Dec. 24,

1

1 Proclamation, Dec. 24, 1620, S. P. Dom. clxxxvii. 87.

1621.

Cases of

Scot,
Everard,

1

ding men to speak on State affairs. Scot, the author of the clever pamphlet, Vox Populi, was forced to save himself by flight. Dr. Everard, a London preacher, was summoned before the Council, and was committed to the GateJanuary. house, for inveighing in a sermon against the Spanish cruelties in the Indies.2 But the case which most and Ward. justly attracted public attention was that of Dr. Ward, of Ipswich, a man of considerable reputation as a preacher, who possessed the unusual accomplishment of ability to express his thoughts with his pencil as well as with his pen. He had lately put forth his skill as a caricaturist upon a picture which Gondomar had been able to represent as an insult to his master. On one side was to be seen the wreck of the Armada, driven in wild confusion before the storm. On the other side was the detection of the Gunpowder Plot. In the centre the Pope and the Cardinals appeared in consultation with the King of Spain and the Devil.3 Ward paid for his indiscretion by a short imprisonment, followed by an inhibition from preaching any more at Ipswich. By the people he was regarded as a martyr, and a story was freely circulated, telling how in reality he owed his punishment to the manly stand which he had taken against the election of a Papist as a knight of the shire for the county of Suffolk.4

The invariable correlative of restraint upon speech is licentiousness of action. The repression to which James had subInsult to jected the spirit by which Englishmen were almost Gondomar. universally animated, only caused that spirit to burst out in irregular channels. As Gondomar was one day passing down Fenchurch Street, in his litter, a saucy apprentice shouted after him, "There goes the devil in a dungcart." Stung by the taunt, one of his servants turned sharply upon the offender. "Sir," he said, "you shall see Bridewell ere long for your

'Chamberlain to Carleton, Feb. 3. Locke to Carleton, Feb. 16, S. P. Dom. cxix. 64, 99.

2 Mead to Stuteville, March 10, Harl. MSS. 389, fol. 37.

3 Description of Ward's Picture, Harl. MSS. 389, fol. 13.

4 Mead to Stuteville, Feb. 24, ibid. 389, fol. 21. Petition of Ward, May 31, S. P. Dom. cxxx. 127.

1621

FLOYD'S CASE.

119

mirth." "What ! " was the reply, "shall we go to Bridewell for such a dog as thou?" Suiting his action to his words, the lad raised his fist, and knocked Gondomar's follower into the gutter. The ambassador appealed to the Lord Mayor for justice, who, sorely against his will, sentenced the apprentice, April. and his companions who had supported him, to be whipped through the streets. That an Englishman should be flogged for insulting a Spaniard was intolerable to the London populace. A crowd soon gathered round the cart, the youths were rescued, and the officials whose duty it was to carry out the sentence were themselves driven away with blows. Gondomar once more complained to the Lord Mayor, but the Lord Mayor, who in heart sympathized with the offenders, drily informed him that it was not to him that an account of the government of the City was to be rendered. James was next appealed to, and at once responded to the appeal. He came down in person to Guildhall. If such things were allowed, he said, he would place a garrison in the City, and seize its charter. The end of the affair was tragical enough. The original sentence was carried out, and one of the apprentices died under the lash.1

The feeling of indignation with which James's one-sided severity was received spread to higher regions. Chafing under April 30. the self-imposed silence which had for many weeks Floyd insults restrained their tongues from even mentioning the name of the Palatinate, the Commons were in a

Frederick

and

Elizabeth. temper to catch eagerly at the first opportunity which offered itself to give vent to the thoughts which were burning within. It was not long in coming. An aged Roman Catholic barrister, named Floyd, who had been imprisoned in the Fleet by the Council, had been guilty, as the House was informed, of the heinous offence of rejoicing at the news of the battle of Prague. "Goodman Palsgrave and Goodwife Palsgrave," he had been heard to say, "were now turned out of doors." At another time he had argued that Frederick had no more right

1 Meddus to Mead, April 6; Mead to Stuteville, April 7, Harl. MSS. 389, fol. 50, 48; Council Register, April 2.

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