Page images
PDF
EPUB

Porter.

1

passed. As bad news came in from Brussels and from Heidelberg, Charles began to doubt whether his sister's inheritance Endymion was to be regained by the aid of Spain, and he was heard complaining loudly of the tricks which the Spaniards had been playing. It was under this impression of uncertainty that Buckingham's last letter to Gondomar had been written, and it was with the same feeling that the two young men determined, as soon as the fall of Heidelberg was known, that the next despatch should be carried by a confidential person who might be trusted with the delicate task of reminding Gondomar of the Prince's promised journey, and of bringing back a faithful report of the language of the Spanish ministers.

The messenger selected for this purpose was Endymion Porter. By a strange destiny he had passed the early years of his life in Spain, in the service of Olivares.3 He had afterwards returned to England, where he had attached himself to Buckingham, and had risen high in his favour. Report said that he had amassed a large fortune by the bribes for which he had sold his master's goodwill. He was now a gentleman of the Prince's bedchamber, and was occasionally employed by Buckingham to conduct his Spanish correspondence.

This man had already, on September 18, written by Buckingham's direction to Gondomar, to assure him that the Lord His proposed Admiral was getting a fleet ready, and that 'he inmission. tended to take his friend with him in secret, to bring back that beautiful angel.'5 These words, almost the only ones in the letter which have been preserved, show that the intention of the Prince to visit Madrid accompanied by only two servants had been for the time abandoned. If the plan now proposed was not without elements of rashness, it was wisdom itself as compared with the wild scheme ultimately adopted. For if, as was evidently pre-supposed, Buckingham was to sail 1 Valaresso to the Doge, Sept. Venice MSS. Desp. Ingh.

2 See p. 354.

20

30'

6

3 Interrogatories to be administered to Porter, 1627, Sherborne MSS. As these questions proceeded from Bristol, I can hardly be wrong in taking them as equivalent to assertions of fact. Rel. Ven. Ingh. 244.

5 Interrogatories administered to Porter, 1627, Sherborne MSS. The plan was adopted immediately upon Porter's return.

1622

A SUMMONS TO SPAIN.

371

in command of the fleet which was to bring the Infanta home, he would certainly not leave England till the marriage articles had been finally agreed upon, and there would therefore be no danger that the Spaniards would be emboldened to raise their terms by the Prince's presence at Madrid.

Summons to

Whether James was at this time informed of the project or not, it is impossible to say. It is at all events certain that the On Sept. 29. Privy Council knew nothing about the matter. Deliberation on Wes- September, 29, that body met to receive from Weston ton's report. the report of his mission. After a long and anxious deliberation, extending over four days, it was decided that a direct summons should be addressed to the King of Spain. Seventy days were to be allowed him to obtain from be addressed the Emperor the restitution of Heidelberg, and if to Philip. during that time it should happen that either Mannheim or Frankenthal were taken, it was to be restored as well. Philip was also to engage that the negotiations for a general peace should be resumed on the basis laid down in the preceding winter, and to bind himself by an express stipulation that, if the Emperor refused to consent to these terms, he would order a Spanish army to take the field against him, or, at least, would give permission to an English force to march through Flanders into the Palatinate. If, within ten days after this resolution was laid before Philip, he had not given a favourable answer under his hand and seal, Bristol was to leave Madrid at once, and to declare the marriage treaty broken off.

Warlike

2

The despatch containing the demands thus put forward by the Council was entrusted to Porter,3 and served well enough to cover the secret mission with which he language at was charged. In a few weeks, therefore, James, unless he were sadly disappointed, would know what his position really was. Yet it is hardly likely that anyone except the King looked upon an armed alliance with Spain

Court.

The reasons for setting aside Clarendon's story, at least in part, will be given later.

2 The King to Bristol, Oct. 3, Cabala, 238.

3 The Dutch Commissioners to the States-General, Oct.

Add. MSS.

14

17,677 K, fol. 229.

against the Emperor as coming within the bounds of possibility. The language used in the Council breathed of war, and of war alone. An army of 30,000 or 40,000 men was to be ready in the spring to march into the Palatinate, under the command of the Prince of Wales. Parliament was to be summoned to meet in January, to vote the necessary supplies. Even Charles's head was for the moment full of dreams of military glory. He would be the ruin of anyone, he was heard to say, who attempted to hinder the enterprise.1

Sept. 30.

to the Pope.

Yet, in spite of the warlike din which was sounding in his ears, and in spite of the extravagant demands of the Pope and the Cardinals, James could not bear to relinquish James writes his hopes of peace. Gage, he resolved, should at once return to Rome, bearing a letter in which passing by in silence the foolish language which had been used about his own conversion, he adjured the Pope to employ his undoubted influence with the Catholic sovereigns to put a stop to the bloodshed by which Christendom was being desolated. "Your Holiness," he wrote, "will perhaps marvel that we, differing from you in point of religion, should now first salute you with our letters. Howbeit, such is the trouble of our mind for these calamitous discords and bloodsheds, which for these late years by-past have so miserably rent the Christian world; and so great is our care and daily solicitude to stop the course of these growing evils betimes, so much as in us lies, as we could no longer abstain, considering that we all worship the same most blessed Trinity, nor hope for salvation by any other means than by the blood and merits of Our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, but breaking this silence to move your Holiness by these our letters, friendly and seriously, that you would be pleased together with us to put your hand to so pious a work, and so worthy of a Christian prince." 2

If James's nerve and judgment had only equalled the excellence of his intentions, he would indeed have carved

1 Nethersole to Elizabeth, Oct. 3, S. P. Holland.

21

Salvetti's News

Letter, Oct. 1. Message sent by Porter, Simancas MSS. 2849, fol. 84. 2 The King to Gregory XV., Sept. 30, Cabala, 376.

1622

PROFESSIONS OF SPAIN.

373

out for himself an enduring monument amongst those of the benefactors of humanity. Yet, even as it was, it was well that, amidst the turmoil of the strife, a voice should be heard from England, to warn, however vainly, the Head of that Church which styles itself Catholic, not to debase his high office to the miserable work of stirring up the elements which fed the lurid flames of religious war.

The King and the Pope.

October.

arrival.

As

On October 3 the despatch which Porter was to carry was placed in his hands, and he would have started on the following day if he had not been delayed by the unexpected Cottington's arrival of Cottington, who had been recalled from his attendance upon the embassy at Madrid to enter upon his new duties as secretary to the Prince of Wales. he had been specially detained in Spain till Bristol was able to obtain some certain intelligence of the progress of the marriage treaty, everyone was naturally eager to hear what he had to say. It was not much that he was able to tell. Commissioners, amongst whom were Zuñiga and Gondomar, had been appointed Spanish proto treat with Bristol, and they had loudly expressed fessions. their disapproval of the additions which had been. made at Rome to the Articles, and had declared that the King of Spain would, without doubt, reduce his Holiness to reason. In addition to the news which he brought, Cottington had with him a letter from Gondomar to the King, in which he expressed his hope to bring the Infanta with him in the spring, by which time all difficulties would be overcome. If it proved otherwise, he would come himself to England to confess his fault in having deceived his Majesty, and to offer himself as a sacrifice for the wrong which he had done.2

The Council, however, was unanimous in declaring that there was no ground for changing its resolution. James indeed Charles and was, as usual, inclined to hope for the best, and Buckingham expressed an opinion that good might yet be expected the King. from the Spanish overtures; but he soon found that he stood alone. Buckingham and the Prince led the cry for

opposed to

1 Bristol to the King, Sept. 13, S. P. Spain.

2 Salvetti's News-Letter, Oct. 11.

active measures, and the Council voted as one man upon their side.1

October 4. Bristol ordered to report his answer.

It was a new position for James. Parliamentary opposition he could silence by a dissolution. The Council he could refuse to listen to. But never before had his son and his favourite combined against him. For the present, however, he was able to maintain his tranquillity; for he had contrived to pospone the immediate solution of the difficulty as long as possible, by despatching a second courier on the 4th, with orders to Bristol not to come home in case of receiving an unsatisfactory reply, but simply to report the fact to England. At the same time he told Porter to inform the ambassador that if he were hard pressed he might secretly consent to the extension of the age of the children's education to nine years, though the limit was still to be stated in the public articles as having been fixed at seven. In the meanwhile he took care to inform the Council that, till Porter's return, no active steps were to be taken to form any alliance with the Continental Protestants.4

2

At last, on October 7, Porter was ready to start on the mission which, as was fondly hoped, would settle the question one way or another. As he left the royal presence, England. all the bystanders cried out with one voice, "Bring us war! bring us war!”5

Porter leaves

Porter had not long been gone when news arrived that the vessel in which he crossed the Straits had been driven on shore in an attempt to enter Calais harbour in a storm, and that he had himself slipped as he was leaping into a boat, and had seriously injured his shoulder.

He is delayed at Calais.

II

ΙΟ

20'

Add.

1 The Dutch Commissioners to the States-General, Oct. MSS. 17,677 K, fol. 234. Valaresso to the Doge, Oct. 1, Venice MSS. 2 The King to Bristol, Oct. 4, Prynne's Hidden Works of Darkness, 20. • Calvert to Bristol, Oct. 14, ibid. 21.

The Dutch Commissioners to the States-General, Oct. MSS. 17,677 K, fol. 234.

[ocr errors]

Add.

20'

5 66 'Quando el Don Antonio Porter salia por el lugar, todos le gritaban -Traiganos guerra,-Traiganos guerra." Message brought by Porter. Simancas MSS. 2849, fol. 48.

« PreviousContinue »