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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

And formed relations with the Nuncio in Paris


This conspiracy which, although wrongly as we have seen, bears the name of Ralegh, was an attempt to put an end in some way or other to the government, in the shape in which it had been erected by the union of English statesmen with the Scottish King. Its movers wished to effect this object by getting rid either of the statesmen, or even of the King himself. But on the contrary they only succeeded in establishing the government so much the more firmly; and it then under the joint influence of both its components entered on the course which we have described. But if it was so seriously endangered at its commencement, its progress also could not be free from hostile attacks. The Puritans threw themselves into the ranks of the Parliamentary Opposition. The Catholics were brought into a most singular position.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1604.]

In public they found themselves far better off under James than they had been under Elizabeth. Far greater scope was allowed to the local influence of Catholic magnates in protecting their co-religionists. The penal laws, which as regards pecuniary payments were virtually abolished, were moreover no longer vigorously enforced in any other respect. Not only were the chapels of the Catholic ambassadors in the capital numerously attended, but in some provinces, especially in Wales, Catholic sermons were known to be delivered in the open air, and attended by thousands of hearers.[331] At times the opinion revived that the King was inclined to go over to Catholicism. He repudiated the supposition with some show of indignation. But, as we stated, the Queen incontestably sympathised with the Papacy. She even refrained from attending the Anglican service, and formed relations with the Nuncio in Paris, from whom she received communications and presents. Though Pope Clement on a former occasion had issued breves which made the obedience of Catholics to a new government dependent on the profession of Catholicism by the sovereign, yet these were virtually recalled by a later issue. When the English ambassador in Paris complained to the Nuncio there of the above-mentioned participation of Catholic priests in a conspiracy against the King, the Nuncio laid before him a letter of the Pope's nephew, Cardinal Aldobrandini, in which he declared it to be the Pope's pleasure that the Catholics in England should be obedient to their king, and should pray for him.[332] Thus it exactly fell in with the King's views to be a Protestant, as was absolutely necessary for his authority in England and Scotland, and yet at the same time not to have the Catholics against him, and to be able to reckon the Pope of Rome among his friends.

It is evident that this state of affairs, as it was inconsistent with the laws of England, could not be permanently maintained. Even men of moderate views in other respects disapproved the middle course taken by the King: for they thought it necessary to concede nothing to the adherents of the Papacy, if they were to be saved from the necessity of conceding everything. The Catholics desired a public declaration of toleration. But this could only have emanated from Parliament: the King had not the courage, and his ministers had not the wish, to make a serious proposal to that effect. On the contrary, when the Protestant spirit of the capital displayed itself so unmistakably in consequence of the severities with which the Puritans were threatened, the King and his Privy Council, while affirming that they were merely executing the laws, announced their intention of introducing a like


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