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1621 EFFECTS OF THE SPANISH ALLIANCE.

245

scaffold, or immured in a prison, it was a matter of supreme indifference whether he was told that he was suffering for an offence against religion or for an offence against civil order. There can, however, be no doubt that, unsatisfactory as it was in itself, the indirect results of the new phase thus taken by persecution were most salutary. It served to impress upon men the truth, that religious persecution was a bad thing; and before long they would open their eyes to the further truth that the recusancy laws were only religious persecution under a more subtle form.

The Spanish match.

If, indeed, Pym's lot had been cast in ordinary times, he might have learned to oppose the precautions which he was now advocating. But, in truth, the times were not ordinary. It was indeed certain that a nation like England, in which Protestantism had taken deep root, would never voluntarily throw itself back into the stifling embraces of the Church of Rome. The human mind does not work at random, and no such backward course is possible so long as liberty of choice remains. But how long would such liberty be left? If no European people which had once heartily embraced Protestantism had ever abandoned it but by compulsion, there had been many examples in which a forcible conversion had been effected by the power of the sword. When the leading minds of a people had been silenced, when thought and speech were no longer free, it would be impossible to answer for the constancy of those who were left desolate in the face of temptation.

Who could tell how soon England might be exposed to such a fate? We are perhaps inclined to think hardly of Pym and Its effect on the House of Commons for seeking, as Wentworth opinion. once expressed it, to put a 'ring in the nose of Leviathan' by fining the Catholic laity for their religion, by dragging their children from the care of their parents, and by mewing up within prison walls the devotion of the Catholic missionaries : but, before we condemn, let us remember that it was James who was encumbering the path of tolerance with obstacles. As if it were a light thing that the Spanish ambassador was consulted 1 Wentworth to Wandesford, June 17, 1624, Strafford Letters, i. 21.

and trusted above all other men, a Spanish Infanta was to become the future Queen of England, and the mother of a stock of English kings. In the course of nature her child would within forty or fifty years be seated on the throne of Henry and Elizabeth. A Roman Catholic sovereign-for what else could he be?-would have the power of loosing the tongues of the Jesuits, of stopping the mouths of the defenders of the faith. All Court favour, all power of lulling men's consciences to sleep by the soporific potion of place or pension, would be in his hands. It was he who would make the judges; it was he who would make the bishops; and who might, therefore, in the language which has sometimes been attributed to James, make both law and gospel. If all other means failed, he would have at his disposal the arms of his Spanish kinsman—the lord, it might be feared, by right of England's cowardice, of half of Germany, and of the territory that had once been held by the Dutch Republic.

Nov. 29.

A petition

Such must have been the thoughts which strove for utterance in the hearts of the men who looked to Pym with visible tokens of approbation. They ordered that a petition on religion. should be drawn up for presentation to the King, and at the same time resolved without a dissentient voice, that a subsidy should be granted for the support of the troops in the Palatinate. To this subsidy recusants were to be assessed at double rates, as if they had been aliens.1

Dec. I. Mischiefs

of.

On December I the petition was brought in by the subcommittee which had been directed to prepare it. It began by representing the causes of the apprehended complained danger. Abroad, the King of Spain was aiming at an exclusive temporal monarchy; the Pope at an exclusive spiritual supremacy. Popery was built upon devilish positions and doctrines. The professors of the Protestant religion were in a miserable plight. His Majesty's children were treated with contempt, and the confederacy of their Popish enemies was backed by all the armies of the King of Spain. At home matters were as bad. The expectation of the Spanish marriage and the favour of the Spanish ambassador had elated

Proceedings and Debates, ii. 241; Commons' Journals, i. 650.

1621

THE PETITION ON RELIGION.

247

the spirits of the recusants. They resorted openly to the chapels of foreign ambassadors; they were thronging up in large numbers to London; they sent their children to the Continent, to be educated in Popish seminaries. The property which had been forfeited by law was frequently restored to them; their licentious and seditious books were allowed to circulate freely; their priests were to be found in every part of the kingdom. If something were not done they would soon place themselves in opposition to the laws, and, strong in the support of foreign princes, they would carry all before them till they had succeeded in the utter subversion of the true religion.

proposed.

Let his Majesty then take his sword in his hand; let him gather round him the Protestant States upon the Continent; Remedies let him direct the operations of war by diversion or otherwise, as to his deep wisdom should seem fittest, and not rest upon a war in those parts only which would consume his treasure and discourage the hearts of his subjects. Let the point of his sword be against that prince who first diverted and hath since maintained the war in the Palatinate; let a commission be appointed to see to the execution of the laws against the recusants; and for the frustration of their hopes, and for the security of succeeding ages, let the Prince be timely and happily married to one of his own religion. Let the Papists' children be educated by Protestant schoolmasters, and prohibited from crossing the seas; let the restoration of their forfeited lands be absolutely prohibited.1

Dec. 3. Debate on

The petition accepted by the Committee was taken into consideration by the House on the 3rd. The debate turned almost entirely upon the clause relating to the Prince's marriage. It was opened by Sackville, the petition. who, though his hatred of Rome was undoubted, urged that any interference with the King's prerogative on a point so delicate would give offence. As a matter of political tactics, Sackville was undoubtedly in the right. If James could be brought to declare war with Spain, the marriage treaty would give no further trouble. It would be far better, there1 Proceedings and Debates, ii. 261.

fore, to avoid for two or three months longer a topic by the introduction of which the King's touchy nature would be wounded to the quick. Still it was hardly likely that the House would allow its course to be determined on these grounds. A great evil was impending over the nation, and it was the duty of its representatives to discharge their consciences by protesting against it. They had granted a subsidy unconditionally. Even now they had no wish to impose terms on the King. One member after another rose to point out that their petition did not even require an answer. No man, during the whole course of a long and active life, showed himself a stouter champion of the prerogative than Heath, the SolicitorGeneral. Yet Heath expressed his approval of the petition. on this very ground. He contented himself with moving that an explanatory clause should be added to convey what was evidently the general sense of the House. Phelips and Digges rose to support the proposal, and it was at once adopted without a dissentient voice.

It is adopted with an additional

clause.

66

"This," such were the phrases with which the Commons fondly hoped to sweeten the bitter medicine which they were offering, "this is the sum and effect of our humble declaration, which no ways intending to press on your Majesty's most undoubted and regal prerogative-we do with the fulness of all duty and obedience humbly submit to your princely consideration." 1

Gondomar's

King.

Already, before the petition had been actually adopted, some one had placed a copy in the hands of Gondomar. The astute Spaniard had been invited by the King to letter to the Newmarket,2 but had preferred to watch events in London. He now saw that his time was come. Long experience had taught him how to deal with James. The letter which he wrote was one the like of which had never before been placed in the hands of an English sovereign. Incredible as it might seem, even his own past audacity was now outdone.

1 Commons' Journals, i. 655; Proceedings and Debates, ii. 265, 269. 2 Gondomar to the Infanta Isabella, Dec. Simancas MSS. 2558,

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fol. 9.

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INTERVENTION OF THE KING.

249

If it were not, he said, that he depended upon the King's goodness to punish the seditious insolence of the House of Commons, he would have left the kingdom already. "This," he added, "it would have been my duty to do, as you would have ceased to be a king here, and as I have no army here at present to punish these people myself." 1

The King's

For such insolence as this James had no sensitiveness. His annoyance with the Commons had for some days been on the increase. He had already heard with disdispleasure. pleasure that they had resumed their investigation into the affair of Lepton and Goldsmith, and had ordered Sandys to be questioned on the reasons of his imprisonment. He now, without waiting for the formal presentation of the petition, dashed off an angry letter to the Speaker.

He had heard, he said, that his absence from his Parliament had 'emboldened some fiery and popular spirits to debate and His letter to argue publicly in matters far beyond their reach or the Speaker. capacity, and so tending to' his 'high dishonour and to the trenching upon his 'prerogative royal.' The House was, therefore, to be informed that its members were not to be permitted to meddle with matters of government or 'with mysteries of state.' There was to be no speech of the Prince's 'match with the daughter of Spain,' or anything said against 'the honour of that king.' They must also forbear from interfering in private suits 'which have their due motion in the ordinary courts of justice.' As for Sandys, he would inform them himself that his imprisonment had not been caused by any misdemeanour in Parliament. He would have them, how

] "Yo avia escrito al Rey y al Marques de Boquinguam, quatro dias antes, la sedicion y maldad que pasaba en este Parlamento, y que, sino estuviera tan seguro de la palabra y bondad del Rey que lo castigaria y remediaria con la brevedad y exemplo que convenia, me huviera salido de sus Reynos sin aguardar á tercero dia; deviendo hazello assí cumpliendo con mi obligacion, si el no fuera Rey de estas gentes, pues al presente yo no tenia aquí exercito con que castigarlos."-Gondomar to the Infanta Isabella, Dec. ibid.

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Proceedings and Debates, ii. 248, 259.

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