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he had indulged himself in all the excesses of cruelty and tyranny.
Amidst these disputes, the wise and moderate in the nation endeavoured to preserve, as much as possible, an equitable neutrality between the opposite parties; and the more they reflected on the course of public affairs, the greater difficulty they found in fixing just sentiments with regard to them. On the one hand, they regarded the very rise of parties as a happy prognostic of the establishment of liberty; nor could they ever expect to enjoy, in a mixed government, so invaluable a blessing, without suffering that inconvenience, which, in such governments, has ever attended it. But when they considered, on the other hand, the necessary aims and pursuits of both parties, they were struck with apprehension of the consequences, and could discover no feasible plan of accommodation between them. From long practice, the crown was now possessed of so exorbitant a prerogative, that it was not sufficient for liberty to remain on the defensive, or endeavour to secure the little ground which was left her: it was become necessary to carry on an offensive war, and to circumscribe, within more narrow, as well as more exact bounds, the authority of the sovereign. Upon such provocation, it could not but happen, that the prince, however just and moderate, would endeavour to repress his opponents; and, as he stood upon the very brink of arbitrary power, it was to be feared that he would, hastily and unknowingly, pass those limits, which were not precisely marked by the constitution. The turbulent government of England, ever fluctuating between privilege and prerogative, would afford a variety of precedents, which might be pleaded on both sides. In such delicate questions, the people must be divided; the arms of the state were still in their hands : a civil war must ensue; a civil war where no party or both parties would justly bear the blame, and where the good and virtuous would scarcely know what vows to form; were it not that liberty, so necessary to the perfection of human society, would be sufficient to bias their affections towards the side of its defenders.
Negotiations with regard to the marriage and the palatinate-Cha
racter of Buckingham-Prince's journey to Spain—Marriage treaty broken-A parliament— Return of Bristol-Rupture with Spain—Treaty with France-Mansfeldt's expedition-Death of the king–His character.
Negotia To wrest the palatinate from the hands of the regard to emperor and the duke of Bavaria, must always the marrij, have been regarded as a difficult task for the palatinate.
power of England, conducted by so unwarlike a prince as James: it was plainly impossible, while the breach subsisted between him and the commons. The king's negotiations, therefore, had they been managed with ever so great dexterity, must now carry less weight with them; and it was easy to elude all his applica
2; tions. When lord Digby, his ambassador to the emperor, had desired a cessetion of hostilities, he was referred to the duke of Bavaria, who commanded the Austrian armies. The duke of Bavaria told him, that it was entirely superfluous to form any treaty for that purpose. Hostilities are already ceased, said he; and I doubt not but I shall be able to prevent their revival by keeping firm possession of the palatinate till a final agreement shall be concluded between the contending parties.* Notwithstanding this insult, James endeavoured to resume with the emperor a treaty of accommodation; and
a he opened the negotiations at Brussels, under the mediation of archduke Albert; and after his death, which happened about this time, under that of the infanta : when the conferences were entered upon, it was found, , that the powers of these princes to determine in the controversy were not sufficient or satisfactory. Schwartzenbourg, the imperial minister, was expected at London; and it was hoped that he would bring more ample authority: his commission referred entirely to the negotiation at Brussels. It was not difficult for the king to perceive, that his applications were neglected by the emperor; but as he had no choice of any other expedient, and it seemed the interest of his son-in-law to keep alive his pretensions, he was still content to follow Ferdinand through all his shifts and evasions. Nor was he entirely discouraged, even when the imperial diet at Ratisbon, by the influence or rather authority of the emperor, though contrary to the protestation of Saxony, and of all the Protestant princes and cities, had transferred the electoral dignity from the palatine to the duke of Bavaria.
* Franklyn, p. 57. Rushworth, vol. 1. p. 38.
Meanwhile the efforts made by Frederick, for the recovery of his dominions, were vigorous. Three armies were levied in Germany by his authority, under three commanders, duke Christian of Brunswick, the prince of Baden-Dourlach, and count Mansfeldt. The two former generals were defeated by count Tilly and the Imperialists: the third, though mu
'ɔr in force to his enemies, still maintained the war; but with no equal supplies of money, either from the palatine or the king of England. It was chiefly by pillage and free quarters in the palatinate, that he subsisted his army. As the Austrians were regularly paid, they were kept in more exact discipline; and James justly became apprehensive, lest so unequal a contest, besides ravishing the palatine's hereditary dominions, would end in the total alienation of the people's affections from their ancient sovereign, by whom they were plundered, and in an attachment to their new masters, by whom they were protected. He prarsuaded, therefore, his son-in-law to disarm, under co
y Parliamentary Hist. vol. 5. p. 484.
lour of duty and submission to the emperor: and accordingly, Mansfeldt was dismissed from the palatine's service: and that famous general withdrew his army into the Low Countries, and there received a commission from the states of the United Provinces.
To shew how little account was made of James's negotiations abroad, there is a pleasantry mentioned by all historians, which, for that reason, shall have a place here. In a farce acted at Brussels, a courier was introduced carrying the doleful news, that the palatinate would soon be wrested from the house of Austria ; so powerful were the succours which, from all quarters, were hastening to the relief of the despoiled elector: the king of Denmark had agreed to contribute to his assistance a hundred thousand pickled herrings, the Dutch a hundred thousand butter-boxes, and the king of England a hundred thousand ambassadors. On other occasions, he was painted with a scabbard, but without a sword; or with a sword which nobody could draw, though several were pulling at it.
It was not from his negotiations with the emperor or the duke of Bavaria, that James expected any success in his project of restoring the palatine: his eyes were entirely turned towards Spain; and if he could effect his son's marriage with the infanta, he doubted not but that, after so intimate a conjunction, this other point could easily be obtained. The negotiations of that court being commonly dilatory, it was not easy for a prince of so little penetration in business, to distinguish whether the difficulties which occurred, were real or affected; and he was surprised, after negotiating five years on so simple a demand, that he was not more advanced than at the beginning. A dispensation from Rome was requisite for the marriage of the infanta with a Protestant prince; and the king of Spain, having undertaken to procure that dispensation, had thereby acquired the means of re
2 Kennet, p. 749.
tarding at pleasure, or of forwarding the marriage, and at the same time of concealing entirely his artifices from the court of England.
In order to remove all obstacles, James dispatched Digby, soon after created earl of Bristol, as his ambassador to Philip IV. who had lately succeded his father in the crown of Spain. He secretly employed Gage as his agent at Rome; and finding that the difference of religion was the principal, if not the sole difficulty, which retarded the marriage, he resolved to soften that objection as much as possible. He issued public orders, for discharging all popish recusants who were imprisoned; and it was daily apprehended that he would forbid, for the future, the execution of the penal laws enacted against them. For this step, so opposite to the rigid spirit of his subjects, he took care to apologize; and he even endeavoured to ascribe it to his great zeal for the reformed religion. He had been making application, he said, to all foreign princes for some indulgence to the distressed Protestants; and he was still answered by objections derived from the severity of English laws against Catholics. It might indeed occur to him, that if the extremity of religious zeal were ever to abate among Christian sects, one of them must begin; and nothing would be more honourable for England, than to have led the way in sentiments so wise and moderate.
Not only the religious Puritans murmured at this tolerating measure of the king: the lovers of civil liberty were alarmed at so important an exertion of prerogative. But, among other dangerous articles of authority, the kings of England were at that time possessed of the dispensing power; at least were in the constant practice of exercising it. Besides, though the royal prerogative in civil matters was then extensive, the princes, during some late reigns, had been accustomed to assume a still greater in ecclesiastical. And the king failed not to
a Franklyn, p. 69. Rushworth, vol. 1. p. 63.