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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

It was determined that the Prince


While

affairs were in this situation and these impressions afloat, a plan for bringing this uncertainty to an end was embraced by the King, the Prince, and the Duke, in those private discussions in which the general course of affairs was decided. It was determined that the Prince, accompanied by Buckingham, should visit Spain himself, in order to bring about the marriage and arrange the conditions. None of the Privy Councillors, not even Williams, who on other occasions was in their intimate confidence, knew anything about this plan. It pleased the King's sense of the romantic, that as he himself had formerly brought home his newly married wife from the icy North, so now his son should in person win the hand of his bride in the distant South. But however much in earnest the King was in the matter, we learn that he still contemplated the possibility of failure. He once said to the Duke of Soubise, that if the marriage came to pass, he would take up the cause of the Huguenots in alliance with Spain: but that if he did not succeed in his design they might still reckon upon him, for that his son would contract a marriage with a French princess, which would procure him great influence at the French court.[420]

[Sidenote: A.D. 1623.]

On March 7, 1623, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Buckingham arrived in Madrid, with an escort including Cottington and Endymion Porter, both of whom afterwards enjoyed great influence.

Their arrival was not altogether welcome to the ambassador in residence there, Digby, now Lord Bristol, who would rather have retained this important business in his own hands: but the Spanish court and the nation itself found a certain satisfaction for their pride in the personal suit urged by the heir-apparent of one of the most powerful kingdoms for the hand of the younger Infanta.

At first the Prince of Wales could only see the Infanta as she drove past along a sort of Corso in the Prado. He was then presented to her, but the words which she was to use to him were written down for her beforehand; for she was to receive him merely as a foreign prince without any reference whatsoever to his suit. Some surprise was created when the principal lady of the court one day condescended to say to the Prince that the Infanta in conversation gave signs of an inclination for him. In the country no doubt was felt that the marriage would come to pass, and the prospect was welcomed with joy. Often did a 'Viva' resound under the windows of the Prince. Lope de Vega dedicated some happily expressed stanzas to him; and splendid shows were given in his honour.[421] All that was now wanting was an agreement as to the conditions.

This depended however in large part on the resolutions which might be arrived at in England. Conditions affecting religion were laid before King James, which he might certainly have hesitated to approve. It was not


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