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1622

A BENEVOLENCE SUGGESTED.

375

It would, therefore, be some days before he was able to continue his journey to Madrid.1

Bucking

ness for ac

tion.

business.

Immediately after Porter's departure the King had returned to Royston, happy enough to be set free from the anxieties of To a request from the Council that he ham's eager would at once give orders for the issuing of writs for a parliament, he returned a distinct refusal. He would do nothing, he said, till he heard again from Spain. Buckingham, as eager now for war as ten months before he had been eager to make war impossible, chafed under the delay. Why, he asked of his fellow-councillors, should not a fresh Benevolence be raised? Then it would be easy to lay in a store of arms and munitions, and to make all necessary preparations for the expected campaign. The councillors shook their heads at the proposal.2 They all felt that in the present temper of the nation a Benevolence was impossible. In the autumn of 1620, and in the autumn of 1621, the King's declarations had been received with universal enthusiasm ; but no one believed in such declarations any longer. Rumours were abroad that Porter had been entrusted with some special message, and no one doubted for an instant that the result of that message would be to prolong the existing suspense. If the King's object had been merely to send an ordinary despatch to Spain, why should he have selected Porter, of all other men, to perform the work of a common courier. 3

feld.

If war there was to be, it was of evil omen that the thoughts of those who were likely to be entrusted with its management turned once more in the direction of Negotiation with Mans- Mansfeld. According to his habitual practice, James was anxious to carry out his plans at the expense of others, and he actually had the effrontery to ask the Prince of Orange to keep Mansfeld and his troops in the pay of the States for a month after their engagement was at an end, in

1 Meade to Stuteville, Oct. 19, Harl. MSS. 389, fol. 243. Nethersole to Carleton, Oct. 18. S. P. Germany.

2 Nethersole to Carleton, Oct. 24, S. P. Holland.

3 Nethersole to Carleton, Oct. 18, S. P. Germany.

order that, if Porter brought back an unsatisfactory reply, they might then be ready to enter the English service.1

Relief of

Zoom.

This amazing request was, of course, met by a courteous but distinct refusal. The finances of the States-General were by no means prosperous, and they had just succeeded Bergen-op- in achieving the object for the sake of which they had secured the adventurer's services. At the approach of Maurice with Mansfeld in his train, Spinola had suddenly raised the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom, and all further danger from the Spanish armies was at an end for the year. Nor was it only on land that Spain had failed to maintain her position. A large squadron, posted in the Straits of Gibraltar to destroy the Dutch fleet as it issued from the Mediterranean, had been compelled to allow the enemy to sail out in safety.

A Spanish fleet in the Channel.

About the same time, another large fleet of twentytwo galleons suddenly appeared on the English coast, eager to make havoc amongst the Dutch trading vessels which thronged the Channel. In the hope that a safe basis of operations might be gained, Coloma was instructed to demand shelter for his master's ships in the English ports. This time he asked in vain. In the excitement caused by the loss of Heidelberg, James forgot his old design upon Holland, and the demand was peremptorily refused. In a day or two the mighty fleet which had terrified England with the prospect of a new armada, sailed back without striking a blow.2 The misfortunes of Spain did not end here. The Mexico fleet was overtaken by a storm before it left the West Indies, and the damage suffered was so great as to cause the postponement of the voyage to another season. This winter the Spanish Treasury would have to do as best it might, without the annual influx of silver.

Such a combination of disasters was not without its influence upon the members of the Council of State at Madrid, rendering

1 Calvert to Carleton, Oct. 9, S. P. Holland. Calvert to Buckingham, Oct. 12, Harl. MSS. 1580, fol. 175.

2 The Dutch Commissioners to the States-General, Oct. MSS. 17,677 K, fol. 229. Salvetti's News-Letter, Oct.

Add,

14

18 28'

1622

the Council

of State.

POSITION OF OLIVARES.

377

them more than usually impatient of a policy which threatened September. to prolong and enlarge the war in which Spain was Zuñiga and engaged. It was therefore with surprise not unmingled with indignation, that they accidentally discovered that Zuñiga had been playing them false, and had been encouraging the Emperor in his design of bestowing Frederick's Electorate upon Maximilian. Khevenhüller had recently received instructions to explain to Philip that the Emperor's resolution was unalterable, and Zuñiga had again replied that the course proposed would be most agreeable to the King of Spain, though he doubted its practicability in the face of the opposition which was certain to arise. If the Imperial ambassador would promise to keep the whole affair a profound secret, he would be allowed to state his wishes before the King.

Death of

Not long after this conversation, Zuñiga was seized with a fever, and as he lay tossing on his sick-bed, he pointed out to an attendant a bundle of papers which were to be Zuñiga. laid before the Council, amongst which had been placed by mistake the memorial to the Imperial Ambassador. When the mystery was thus unexpectedly revealed, those members of the Council who were opposed to his policy did not measure their words in reprobating the concealment which had been practised. It was thought that the harsh language then used had a serious effect upon his health. At all events from that moment he grew rapidly worse, and on September 27 he died.'

Olivares suc

By the death of his uncle Zuñiga, Olivares obtained the virtual control of the government of Spain. Hitherto he had been content to be what Buckingham was in England, ceeds to his the channel through which the favours of the Crown position. were distributed. He now became the medium for all political communications between the King and the various councils by which the affairs of the Spanish monarchy were conducted. From henceforth it was by Olivares that the opinions of these consultative bodies were laid before Philip, and it was through his hands that the orders passed by which

1 Khevenhüller, ix. 1780-1784.

such resolutions as proved acceptable were carried into execution. With a sovereign, who, like Philip, hated the very name of business, such a position was equivalent to the possession of Royal power. Olivares was now practically king of Spain, as Lerma had been king before him.

ter

2

In many respects, the new minister was far superior to the avaricious favourite of Philip III. He had a ready tongue and His charac- a quick apprehension. Caring little for pleasure and amusement, he turned his back upon everything that might stand in the way of his devotion to state affairs, excepting so far as he was required to join in the diversions of the King.1 To bribes he was entirely inaccessible, and, in the opinion of those who were best able to judge, he was honestly desirous of doing good service to his king and country. If he was incapable of rising to those heights from which a genial statesman, raised, like Bristol, above the passions and prejudices of the world, looks serenely down upon the strife of men, he was, at least within the limitations of his age and country, an intelligent and resolute politician. If there were many things which he did not see at all, he was at least able to see clearly whatever came within the sphere of his vision; and even if he had not been the favourite of his sovereign, he might have ruled the Spanish councils by virtue of that supremacy which the ancient proverb assigns to the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. Suddenly raised in youth to the direction of affairs, he had never had an opportunity of learning to estimate the weight of opposition which would be brought against him by men of other races and of other principles of action than his own. He was consequently, when by his uncle's death he was brought face to face with the problems of actual politics, in a position not unlike that of a theoretical mathematician of recognised ability, who might be called upon to conduct the siege operations of an army in real warfare. It has frequently been taken for granted by those who have

Relazione Venete, Spagna, i. 650.

2 "Il fine delle sue intenzioni non credo che non sia il servizio del Rè." "Il Conte Duca non riceve doni, vuole il servizio del Rè.'

Ibid. i. 653, 686.

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1622

BRISTOL'S DIPLOMACY.

379

judged only by the result, that the policy of Olivares was a warlike policy from the beginning. It was nothing and plans. of the sort. If there was any object for which he earnestly strove in order to heal the economical wounds of his country, it was peace, and especially peace with England. But he had clearly made up his mind that even war was to be preferred to national dishonour, whilst, on the other hand, he never arrived at anything like an accurate conception of the terms upon which peace was to be obtained. The limits of Protestantism, he imagined, could be driven back in Germany with the assent of the German Protestants; and the religion of England could be undermined and overthrown without wounding the susceptibilities of Englishmen. It was possible, he thought in his youthful ardour, to secure all the fruits of victory without the risks and anxieties of war.

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The day before Zuñiga's death, some days before Porter left England, the despatch which had been written in London on Bristol's September 9 was placed in Bristol's hands. He imconfidence. mediately demanded an audience, to lay his master's requirements before Philip. He wrote at once to Calvert that he would do everything in his power. For any want of fidelity in himself, he would 'willingly undergo all blame and censure. But for the errors of other men, as the indirect course taken from Rome, or what was done in Germany,' he could not be answerable. He understood that there were some in England who held him responsible for the success of the business. "I know," he said, "I serve a wise and a just master, whom I have and ever will serve honestly and painfully. And I no way fear but to give him a good and an honest account both of myself and my proceedings. And, whereas it is objected that I have written over confidently of businesses, I write confidently of them still, if our own courses mar them not by taking alarms and altering our minds upon every accident." He concluded by saying that the two months within which he was ordered to expect the conclusion of the marriage treaty, would hardly be sufficient for the purpose. Letters to Rome must be

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