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CHAPTER III.-CIVIL AND MILITARY HISTORY.-A.D. 1614–1618.
Continuing prodi, ality of James-He is compelled to meet his parliament-His ministers undertake to manage
it-Their failure in the attempt-Tyrannical proceedings of the Star Chamber-Its cruel treatment of Edmond Peachum-George Villiers, a new royal favourite, appears-His rise in the king's favour-The Earl of Somerset discarded-He is accused of the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury-Trials connected with the eventStrange particulars of Somerset's trial-His singular mode of eluding condemnation-Lord Bacon's services in the trial-Rivalry and quarrels between him and Coke-James seeks a wife for his son Charles-Rapid rise of Villiers, the new favourite-James visits Scotland-His attempts to subvert the Church of Scotland and establish bishops over it-Resistance of Andrew Melvil to the innovations—He and other Scottish ministers banished ---Resistance to Episcopacy in Scotland-Bishops imposed on the Scots-Attempts of James to win over the Scots to his changes-His hostility to English Puritanism–His attempts to establish the Book of Sports in England-Extravagant conduct of Lord Bacon during the king's absence-His abject behaviour on the return of James-Bacon's intrigues to recover his influence- His plots to accomplish the marriage of the favourite's brother-He is created Baron Verulam-The favourite's aggrandizement of his relatives-His own high offices-He is created a marquis.
INCE the dissolution of parliament | plan for managing the House of Commons, asEl in 1611, James had attempted, as sured the king that the chief leaders of the late
usual, to raise loans by writs under opposition, such as Neville, Yelverton, Hyde, the great seal; but the merchants Crew, and Sir Dudley Digges, had been won
to whom he principally applied over to the court; that much might be done by To refused him the accommodation. forethought towards filling the House of ComHe opened a market for the sale of honours; mons with persons well affected to his majesty, sold several peerages for large sums; and created winning or blinding the lawyers, the literæ voa new order of knights called baronets, whose cales of the house, and drawing the country honours were hereditary, and who paid £1000 gentlemen, the merchants, the courtiers, to act each for their patents under the great seal. He with one accord for the king's advantage. But still continued giving with as lavish a hand as Bacon told James, at the same time, that it would ever to these servants, by which must be under- be expedient to tender voluntarily certain graces stood his favourities and courtiers, for the true and modifications of the prerogative, such as servants of the state were often left unpaid, and might with smallest injury be conceded.? This told that they must support theniselves on their advice was seconded by Sir Henry Neville, a private patrimonies. Such as obtained the higher place-hunter, as ambitious a man as Bacon, and employments paid themselves by means of bribes scarcely more honest. In a well-written memoand peculations. These places were generally rial, he suggested to his majesty that he should sold to the highest bidders by the minion So- consider what had been demanded by the commerset and the noble Howards. Thus, Sir Fulke mons, and what promised by the crown during Greville obtained the chancellorship of the ex- the last session ; that he should grant now the chequer for the sum of £1000, which he paid to more reasonable of the commons requests, and Lady Suffolk, now the favourite's mother-in-law. keep all the promises which he had actually made;
The States of Holland had neither paid prin- that he should avoid irritating speeches to his cipal nor interest of their debt. Some of the parliament, and make a show of confidence in ministers proposed adopting bold and decisive their good affections. Upon these conditions, and measures, in order to obtain this money, but under this system, they undertook to manage the James was too timid to follow their advice; and commons (the lords had long been tame enough), as his exchequer was bare and his credit ex- and carry the king triumphantly through parhausted, he reluctantly made up his mind to liament to abundant votes of the public money; meet parliament once more. It appears that and hence they were called undertakers. James, even at this extremity he would have avoided a in his embarrassments, acceded to the plan, and parliament had it not been for Bacon, who was Somerset put himself at the head of it with bow attorney-general, and high in the royal fa- Bacon and Neville. On the 5th of April, 1617, vour, from which his rival, Coke, had wonderfully declined. Bacon, who had drawn up a regular
Jarl ? Original MSS. in the possession of Mr. Hallam, as quoted hy himn in Const. Hist.
3 Carte. " Birch, Negoliations.
•Arthur Wilson says, “Yet there was a generation about the
the king opened the session with a conciliatory | private consultation with the rest of the judges, speech, descanting on the alarming growth of declined giving any opinion to the lords touchPopery (he knew a little persecution would please ing the legality of impositions on merchandise them well), and on his zeal for the true religion; by prerogative, because it was proper that he and then he told them how much he was in want and his brethren, who were to speak judicially of money, and how many graces he intended for between the king and his subjects, should be them in this present session. But the commons disputants in no cause on any side. The lords, would not be cajoled: they passed at once to the who had expected a very different answer, now great grievance, the customs at the outports and declined the conference; and Neyle, Bishop of impositions by prerogative. “And such faces | Lichfield and Coventry, who, for the share he appeared there as made the court droop.” Some | had taken in the Countess of Essex's divorce, of the courtiers and members returned or won had been recently translated to the see of Linover by the “undertakers," made a faint effort, coln, rose in his place, and said that the combut their voice was drowned, and died away in mons were striking at the root of the preroga. a helpless murmur about the hereditary right tive, and that, if admitted to conference, they
might proceed to undutiful and seditious speeches, unfit for the ears of their lordships. This Neyle was one of the worst of James's bench of bishops, and an object of detestation to the Puritans, whom he had harassed and persecuted. The commons fell upon him in a fury, and demanded reparation; for the practice did not yet obtain of one house of parliament supposing itself ignorant of what is done or said in the other house. The bishop instantly changed his tone, excused himself, and, with many tears, denied the most offensive of the words which had been attributed to him. By this time James must have discovered that the undertakers had engaged for more than they could accomplish. Indeed, the discovery of this scheme, which was made public before the meeting of parliament, contributed to the ill-humour of the lower house. James, in his opening speech, positively denied that there was any such plan entertained, protesting that, “ for undertakers, he never was so base to call, or rely on any;" and Bacon had pretended
to laugh at the notion that private men should SIR FRANCIS Bacon.-After a portrait by Varsomer. undertake for the commons of England. A few
days after, Sir Henry Neville's memorial to the of kings to tax their subjects as they list. The king was read at full length in the house, and commons demanded a conference on this mo- at the opening of the session of 1621 James mentous subject with the lords. The lords himself expressly confessed that there had been hesitated, and consulted with the judges. Be- such a scheme. Seeing no likelihood of the de fore the opinion of the latter was known, the spatch of the business for which alone he had commons objected to the way in which several summoned them, James sent a message, that if members had been elected, and they went nigh they further delayed voting supplies he would to expel the attorney-general, Bacon. Coke, dissolve parliament. The commons, in reply, who had attained to the chief-justiceship of the stated that they would vote no supplies till their King's Bench, who could hope for no higher grievances should be redressed. It is said, on a promotion, and who was irritated into something questionable authority, that he then sent for the like patriotism by his hatred of Bacon and the commons, and tore all their bills before their ill-usage he had received from the court, after a faces in Whitehall; but, whatever was James's court, that to please and humour greatness, undertook a parlia
indiscretion, his cowardice would be likely to ment, as men presuming to have friends in every county and
prevent such an offensive and violent act. What borough, who by their power among the people, would make | is certain, however, is, that he carried his threat election of such members for knights and burgesses as should into execution on the 7th of June, and, on the comply solely to the king's desires; and Somerset is the head and chief of these undertakers. But this was but an embrion,
following morning, committed five of the memand became an abortive."
bers to the Tower, for “licentiousness of speech.
At the time of this hasty and angry dissolution, | up to London, and committed to the Tower. the parliament had sat two months and two There he was examined by the Archbishop of days, but had not passed a single bill. It was Canterbury, the Lord-chancellor Ellesmere, the afterwards called the Addle Parliament; but Earls of Suffolk and Worcester, Sir Ralph Winfew parliaments did more towards the proper wood, the Lord Chief-justice Coke, and others, establishment of the rights of the commons. touching his motives, advisers, and instructors.
For the next six years James depended upon “I find not the man," wrote Winwocd, “to be, most uncertain, and, for the greater part, most as was related, stupid or dull, but to be full of illegal means. People were dragged into the malace and craft.” 3 James, who in such cases Star Chamber on all kinds of accusations, that would always read the law in his own way, inthey might be sentenced to pay enormous fines sisted that the offence amounted to high treason, to the king; monopolies and privileges were in- and taking up his pen, he drew out for the invented and sold, and the odious benevolences struction of his ministers and judges what he were brought again into full play ; and such as called “The true state of the question." But would not contribute had their names returned Coke, who had not always been so scrupulous, to the privy council. Mr. Oliver St. John, who who, before the tide of his favour was on the put himself in this predicament, who explained ebb, had concurred and co-operated in many arhis reasons in writing like a lawyer and states- bitrary measures, maintained that the offence man, and who did not spare the king, was sen- might be a criminal slander, but did not amount tenced by the Star Chamber to a fine of £5000, to treason. On the next merciless examination
of the prisoner, Coke was not present; but his rival Bacon was there, in his stead, and an assenting witness to the atrocities committed. Twelve interrogatories were put to the preacher, who, according to the horribly concise expression of Secretary Winwood, in his report, was examined upon then, “before torture, in torture, between torture, and after torture.” “Notwithstanding," continues Winwood, “nothing could be drawn from him, he still persisting in his obstinate and insensible denials and former answer.” Some two months after, the poor captive changed his key somewhat, but still he would make no confession likely
to bring any one into trouble; and, in THE STAR CHAMBER, WESTMINSTER.–From a drawing by J. T. Smith. the end, he would not sign this ex
amination, which was taken before and to be imprisoned during the royal pleasure. Bacon, Crew, and two other lawyers. In the But greatly as James wanted money, he was of absence, therefore, of all other evidence, James himself disposed to be much less severe against resolved that the manuscript unpreached sermou those who refused it than against those who should be taken as the overt act of treason. And questioned his Divine right in the abstract, or he called in the willing Bacon to smooth the legal censured his kingly conduct. There was one difficulties to this strange course. Bacon conferred Edmond Peachum, a minister of the gospel, in with the judges one by one, and found them all Somersetshire, who probably first attracted at- ready to be as base as himself, except only Coke, tention by preaching puritanically. His study who objected that “such particular, and, as he was suddenly broken open, and in it was found called it, auricular taking of opinions (from the a manuscript sermon, which had never been judges) was not according to the custom of this preached, sharply censuring the king's extrava- realm." This resistance to his infallibility stung gance and love of dogs, dances, banquets, and James to the quick, and prepared, perhaps more costly dresses, and complaining of the frauds than any other single circumstance, the triumph and oppressions practised by his government and of Bacon over his great rival. In the end Coke, officers. The poor old man was seized, dragged
3 Letter from Secretary Winwood to a lord about King James's Journals of the Lords and Commons; Harrington, Nuga person, in Dalrymple Lord Hailes), Memorials, &c. dut.; Relia. Wott; Coke: Wilson; Carte; Hallam.
| Ibid. The original of this precious performance is preserved ? See his letter in Cabala.
in James's own handwriting.
finding himself standing alone, consented to give tioned, far more handsome-or so thought the some opinions in writing; but these were evasive, king-than ever Somerset had been, and, unlike and did not lend the king the confirmation of his that now careworn favourite, his face was always high legal authority. “As Judge Hobart, that dressed in smiles. Soon after there was a great rode the western circuit, was drawn to jump but private supper-entertainment at Baynard's with his colleague, the chief baron, Peachum was Castle, at which the noble Herberts, Seymours. sent down to be tried and trussed up in Somer Russells, and other courtiers of high name, desetshire," where the overt act of writing the libel vised how they should get Somerset wholly out was supposed to have been committed. The of favour and office, and put George Villiers in poor old preacher was accordingly condemned his place.' Their only difficulty was to induce for high treason, on the 7th of August, 1615. the queen to enter into their plot, for they knew They did not, however, proceed to execution, | “that the king would never admit any to nearand Peachum died a few months after in Taun ness about himself but such as the queen should ton jail. This has been considered as the worst commend to him; that if she should complain and most tyrannical act of James's reign; but afterwards of the dear one, he might make anthere are others not at all inferior in violence swer, it is along of yourself, for you commended and illegality. Those writers who consider this him unto me.”? Now, though her majesty Queen reign as an amusing farce, and nothing worse, Anne hated Somerset, she had seen Villiers, and appear to have forgotten such incidents.
did not like him. To remove this feeling of the On the 15th of June, 1614, about a week after queen's, to labour for the substitution of one base the dissolution of the Addle Parliament, the minion for another, was thought a duty not unEarl of Northampton, the grand-uncle of Som- suitable to the primate of the English church; and erset's wife, and the most crafty statesman of Archbishop Abbot, in his animosity to Somerset, that faction, departed this life. His nephew, the undertook it at the request of the noble lords. Earl of Suffolk, and the favourite, divided his In the end, the importunities of the primate preplaces between them, or filled them up with their vailed; but Anne told him that they should all own creatures; but his death was a fatal blow to live to repent what they were doing in advancing their interests; for they neither had his cunning this new minion. On St. George's Feast, April or ability themselves, nor could procure it in any 24, 1615, his onomastic day, the young cup-bearer of their allies and dependants. But they might was sworn a gentleman of the privy-chamber, with have maintained their ascendency, had it not a salary of £1000 a-year; and on the next day be been for the appearance at court of another was knighted. The doom of Somerset was nos beautiful young man, and for the declining spirits sealed; his enemies had chuckled over the sueof the actual favourite. Somerset, guilty as he cess of their scheme, and the most timid saw that was, was no hardened or heartless sinner. From there would no longer be any danger in accusing the time of the death of his friend Overbury a the favourite of a horrible crime which had long cloud settled upon his brow; his vivacity and been imputed to him by the people. He was good humour departed from him ; he neglected not so blind to his danger as court favourites his dress and person, and became absent-minded, have usually been; and before any proceedings moody, and morose, even when in the king's were instituted against him he endeavoured to company. All the courtiers, who envied him procure a general pardon to secure him in his life and the Howards, were on the watch, and as and property. Sir Robert Cotton drew one out, James grew sick of his old minion they threw a "as large and general as could be," wherein the new one in his way. This was George Villiers, king was made to declare, “ that, of his own mothe youngest son of Sir Edward Villiers, of tion and special favour, he did pardon all, and all Brookesby, in Leicestershire, by his second wife, manner of treasons, misprisions of treasons, mura poor and portionless but very beautiful woman. ders, felonies, and outrages whatsoever, by the George, who appears, at least for a short time, to Earl of Somerset committed, or hereafter to be have been brought up expressly for the situation committed."4 James, hoping thereby to rid him he succeeded in obtaining, was sent over to Paris, self for ever of his disagreeable importunities, where he acquired the same accomplishments
Aulicus Coquinaria (written by William Saunderson, authar which had so fascinated the king in the Scottish
of a History of James 1. See Harris, Life of Jane I., 2 youth, Robert Carr. When he appeared at the edition of 1814).
2 These are Abbot's own words. See Rushworth. English court he had all these French graces, a
3 Rushworth; R. Coke. fine suit of French clothes on his back, and an
Such pardons, or pardons very like them, had been soene allowance of £50 a-year from his widowed mo- times granted in other cases. Several ministers had obtained ther. James was enchanted, and in a few weeks them as a security against the malice of their enemies, wie
their fall should come, and also as a security for doing the w or days young Villiers was installed as his ma
of their sovereign in an illegal or unconstitutional name. jesty's cup-bearer. He was tall, finely propor- | Wolsey had obtained a similar pardon from Henry VII.
approved of the document most heartily; but the ner; and, further, that the countess, by the aid Chancellor Ellesmere refused to put the great seal of Mrs. Turner, had procured three kinds of poito it, alleging that such an act would subject him son from Franklin, an apothecary, and that Westo a premunire.
ton, the warder or keeper, had administered these Secretary Winwood is said to have been the poisons to Sir Thomas. Coke had also obtained first to declare to James that the Countess of possession of many note-books and letters; and Essex and Somerset had caused Sir Thomas from a passage in a letter from Overbury to Overbury to be poisoned. When James privately Somerset, alluding to the secrets of the latter, he summoned Elwes, the lieutenant of the Tower, pretended to derive proof that these secrets into his presence, and questioned and cross-ques- must have been of a treasonable nature; and he tioned him, he was fully couvinced of the fact; ventured thereupon to charge the earl with havbut he still kept the earl about his person, con- ing poisoned Prince Henry! In reality there cealed all he knew, and even simulated a return of was nothing in Overbury's letter which could his former warm affection. He went to hunt at bear this construction ; Sir Thomas merely said Royston and took Somerset with him. There, that he had written a history of his confidential as he seemed "rather in his rising than setting," connection with the favourite (Somerset), from he was attached by the warrant of the Lord which his friends might see the extent of that Chief-justice Coke, who, however, had refused to man's ingratitude. The queen, however, entered proceed until James had joined several others in into Coke's view of the case, and openly declared commission with him. “The king had a loath that she had no doubt of the murder of her eldest some way of lolling his arms about his favourites' | son. But the king discouraged this interpretanecks, and kissing them; and in this posture tion, and only believed, or pretended to believe, Coke's messenger found the king with Somer- that, in addition to his guilt in being an accomset, James then saying, “When shall I see thee plice in the poisoning of Overbury, Somerset again! When shall I see thee again?!" When had received bribes from Spain, and had enSomerset got the warrant in the royal presence, gaged to place Prince Charles in the hands of he exclaimed, that never had such an affront that court. been offered to a peer of England. “Nay, man,” Weston, the warder, who had been servant to said the king wheedlingly, “if Coke sends for Franklin, the apothecary who furnished the poime, I must go;" and as soon as Somerset was gone son, had been arrested and examined at the first he added, “Now the devil go with thee, for I opening of these proceedings, and the countess will never see thy face more!" This was at ten and all the other guilty parties were secured o'clock in the morning. About three in the after- without any difficulty; for not one of them susnoon the lord chief-justice arrived at Royston, pected what was coming. Weston at first stood and to him James complained that Somerset and mute, but his obstinacy gave way to Coke's threats his wife had made him a go-between in their adul- of the peine forte et dure, and to the exhortations tery and murder. He commanded him, with all of Dr. King, Bishop of London, and he consented the scrutiny possible, to search into the bottom to plead. But even then he pleaded not guilty, of the foul conspiracy, and to spare no man how and so did Mrs. Turner, Franklin the apothecary, great soever, And, in conclusion, he said to and Elwes the lieutenant of the Tower. Their Coke, “God's curse be upon you and yours, if you trials disclosed a monstrous medley of profligacy spare any of them; and God's curse be upon me and superstition; and what seems almost equally and mine, if I pardon any of them!"!
monstrous, is the fact that the learned Coke, the Coke, who hail many motives besides the love other judges, and all the spectators believed in of justice, was not idle. He had owed many pre- the force of astrology and witchcraft, and consivious obligations to Somerset; but he saw that dered the credulity of two frantic women as the earl could never again be of use to him. He and most damnable of their crimes. Mrs. Turner, his brother commissioners took three hundred now the widow of a physician of that name, had Examinations, and then reported to the king that been in her youth a dependant in the house of Frances Howard, sometime Countess of Essex, the Earl of Suffolk, and a companion to his beauhad employed sorcery to incapacitate her lawful tiful daughter Frances Howard, who contracted busband Essex, and to win the love of Roches- a friendship for her which survived their separater; that afterwards she and her lover, and her tion. As certain vices, not unknown in the court uncle, the late Earl of Northampton, had, by of the Virgin Queen, had become common and their joint contrivance, obtained the committal barefaced in that of her successor, it would not of Sir Thomas Overbury, the appointment of their be fair to attribute the demoralization of the Creature Elwes to be lieutenant of the Tower, and Lady Frances solely to her connection with this One Weston to be warder or keeper of the priso- dangerous woman; though it should appear that 1 Rushwo. lh; R. Coke,
7 she led her into the worst of her crimes, and