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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

When Parliament was summoned for November 1605


The

grant of a subsidy was most urgently needed by the King, whose purse had been emptied by the expenses of taking possession and by his prodigality; but the tone of feeling was so unfavourable that he forbore to apply for it, as he would not expose himself to a refusal which was certain beforehand.

A petition in favour of some indulgence for the Puritans was drawn up in complete opposition to the King's views, although it seems not to have been carried through or sent in. A rigorous bill against the Jesuits and recusants on the other hand actually passed through the House. Lord Montague, who spoke against it, was brought before the House of Lords to answer for some expressions which he used on that occasion, and which savoured of Catholic principles.

It is quite clear that the very first Parliament of King James set itself systematically in opposition to him. He desired union, clemency to the Catholics, and punishment of the Puritans; and he required subsidies: on all these subjects an opposite view prevailed in Parliament. And the divergence was not confined to single points. The maintenance of that extended prerogative which had been once established, had been endured under a sovereign who was a native of the country, had deserved well of her subjects, and was thoroughly English in her sentiments. But similar pretensions appeared insufferable in a king of foreign birth, who pursued ideas that were British rather

than English, or rather who had combined for himself a number of tendencies arising out of the position in which, grand as it was, he stood alone among English sovereigns. We perceive that by this time the notion had been definitely formed of reviving the rights of Parliament which had fallen into abeyance in the late reigns.[327] Even under the Tudors Parliament had exercised a very considerable influence, but had more or less submitted to the ruling powers. Under the new government it thought of winning back the authority which it had wrung from more than one Plantagenet, and had possessed under the house of Lancaster. Already members were heard to assert that the legislative power lay in their hands; and that, if the King refused to approve the laws for which they demanded his sanction, they would refuse him the subsidies which he needed.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1605.]

And this resolution was strengthened by the ill-feeling which the treatment of the Puritan ministers excited. The Parliament had been adjourned from August 1604 until February 1605: but the King feared that these clergymen, who had been assailed just at that time, might apply to the Lower House in which so many Puritans had seats.[328] He therefore prorogued it afresh in the hope of getting rid of certain persons who were especially hostile, or of bringing them over to his own side.

Instead of this, new grievances were constantly accumulating. In the absence of regular subsidies the King helped himself to money by a voluntary loan, which gave great offence, and in this matter also led people to contrast the late Queen's conduct with that of James. She had, so people said, conducted the war in Spain, afforded help to the Netherlands, and maintained garrisons on the Scottish border, three measures which had cost her millions; of all this there was no mention under the present King. On the contrary he had additional revenues from Scotland; for what reason did he require extraordinary subsidies?[329] Men complained of his movements to and fro in the country, and of the harshness with which the right of the court to transport and cheap entertainment on these occasions was enforced; of his hunting, by which the tillage was injured; most of all, of his intended advancement of the Customs Duties, for this would damage trade and certainly would benefit only the great men who were interested in the farming of the Customs. The King had once thought of dissolving Parliament, but afterwards renounced the idea. As it was, when Parliament was summoned for November 1605, a stormy session lay before it, owing to the attack made by the Parliamentary and Puritan party upon the behaviour of the King in ecclesiastical and political questions, as well as upon the financial disorder which was gaining ground.


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