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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

He said that he wished to meet Parliament half way

This complication in foreign affairs then arose. All parties, including even the King himself, were convinced that England must step forth armed among the contending powers of the world: and that, not in the fashion of the last expedition, so little in keeping with the situation, when private support and tacit sympathy found the means, but on a large scale, as the position of the kingdom among the great powers demanded. But without Parliamentary grants this was impossible. The summoning of a new Parliament was therefore an incontestable necessity.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1621.]

But on the other hand there was not wanting reasons for hesitation, for it could not be disguised that concessions would be inevitable. King James saw that as plainly as any one, and declared himself beforehand ready to make them. In contradiction to his former assertions he gave out that he would this time allow grievances to be freely alleged, and would give his best assistance in removing them. He said that he wished to meet Parliament half way, and that it should find him an honourable man. From the investigation of abuses the less was feared because the late opposition was ascribed to a factious resistance to Somerset's administration. But that favourite had since fallen: and of the leaders of that opposition several had gone over to the government, and some had died.[407] The declared purpose of arming for the reconquest of the Palatinate was in accordance with the feelings of the nation and of the Protestants: no doubt was felt that it would win universal sympathy.

This was in fact the case. The most favourable impression was produced when the King in his speech from the throne (January 30, 1621), which was principally taken up with this subject, declared his resolution to defend the hereditary claim of his grandchildren to the territories of the Palatine Electorate, and the free profession of Protestantism; to compel peace if it were necessary sword in hand; for which objects he claimed the assistance of the country. Parliament did not hesitate for an instant to express its concurrence with him in these designs. Two subsidies were granted on the spot, and the resolution was carried into effect during the continuance of the debates, a step which was altogether unprecedented. The King thanked the Parliament for this extraordinary readiness, which would, he said, increase his importance both at home and abroad.

But this did not prevent Parliament on the other hand from bringing forward its claims with all possible energy. The power of granting money was the sinew of all its powers. The necessity of asking assistance from Parliament in urgent embarrassments, which the Tudors had avoided as far as possible, now appeared as pressing as ever. Was it not to be expected that demands should call forth counter-demands? And the opposition in the previous Parliament rested on a far wider basis than that of hostility to Somerset: at the present election also the candidates of the government were rejected in most of the counties and towns.[408]

The commission appointed for the investigation of abuses did not deal only with those which were acknowledged to be such. The principal question rather concerned the competence of the crown to confer such privileges as those out of which the abuses originated. Under the lead of Edward Coke, the great lawyer, Parliament adopted a principle which secured for it a firm standing ground.

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