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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

With the English Catholics also he established a connexion


According

to the account of King James himself Pope Clement invited him to return to the Catholic faith; to whom he made answer, that the prevailing controversies might be again submitted to a general council; and that to the decision of such a council he would submit himself unconditionally. Clement replied that he need not speak of a council, for at Rome no one would hear of it; that the King had better remain as he was. These transactions are still enveloped in doubt and obscurity: the announcements of pretended agents cannot be depended on. There were often men who did not fully share in the secret and who in consequence far outran their commission.[309] But it cannot be denied that there were attempts at an approximation. Among the English refugees after Mary's death two parties had arisen, one of which supported the Spanish claims, while the other was quite ready to acknowledge King James supposing that some concessions were made. Every day men who were inclined to Catholicism were seen rising into favour at the Scottish court. It was remarked that the Secretary of State, the Lord Justice, and the tutors of the royal children, were Catholics. Queen Anne of Scotland does not deny that many attempts were made to bring her back to the old religion: though she assures us that she did not hearken to them, it is notwithstanding undeniable that she felt a strong impulse in that direction. She received relics which were sent her from Rome, probably from superstition rather than from reverence
for the saints, but at all events she received them. Her intimate friend, the Countess of Huntly, who often shared the same bed with the Queen, fostered these views in her. King James remained unaffected by them. He attended sermons three times a week; he was riveted to Protestantism by convictions which rest on learning: but how did it come to pass that he allowed these deviations from Protestantism about him? Was it from weakness and connivance, or was it from policy?

With the English Catholics also he established a connexion. Offers and conditions with a view to his succession were put before him; and English Catholics presented themselves at his court in order to proceed with the business or to maintain the connexion.

All this threw Queen Elizabeth into a state of great excitement. It was insufferable to her that any one should even speak of her death, or, as she said, celebrate her funeral beforehand. But now when James without her knowledge formed relations with her subjects, she regarded his conduct as an affront. Through her ambassador in Scotland she had an English agent named Ashfield arrested, and gained possession of his papers. Great irritation on both sides ensued, of which the above-mentioned correspondence between the King and Queen gives evidence. In angry letters the latter complained of the disparaging expressions which James had let fall in his Parliament. In respectful language but with unusual emphasis the King complained that the accusations of an adventurer charging him with a plot against the life of the Queen were not repressed in England with proper severity. A period followed during which James expected nothing but further acts of hostility from Elizabeth's ministers. He pretended to know that the claims to the throne advanced by his cousin the Lady Arabella, daughter of Charles Darnley, the younger brother of his father Henry, who had the advantage of not being a foreigner, supplied them with a motive for their proceedings. He even thought it possible that a book published by Parsons under the name of Doleman, which maintained the claims of Isabella daughter of King Philip, was inspired by the English ministers themselves in order to throw his rights into the background. He ascribed to them the intention of coming to an agreement with the Spaniards to his disadvantage, only in order to maintain their own power.


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