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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Which filled the Catholics with joy and hope


only that the Infanta was to

be indulged in the free exercise of her religion--for how else could the consent of the Spanish clergy or a dispensation from the Pope have been hoped for?--nor even that the children born from this marriage were to be educated under her eyes for the first ten years of their life, for this seemed the natural privilege of a mother: but the presumption that the children might become Catholics involved wide consequences. It was stipulated that the laws against Catholics should not apply to such children, nor prejudice their succession. Still more displeasing however were some other articles of general import, which were carefully kept back from the knowledge of the public. They amounted to this:--that the laws against the Catholics should no longer be carried into execution, and that the Councillors of the sovereign should be pledged by an oath to abstain from enforcing them.[422] The King met with some opposition to these articles in the Privy Council. But he said that the question was not whether they were advisable, but whether they were not necessary at a time when part of the domain under dispute, and the Prince himself, were in the hands of the Spaniards. And moreover they did not amount to a complete concession to the wishes of the Catholics, for they spoke only of tolerating their worship in private, not in public: the articles were in harmony with the old ideas of the King. James solemnly swore to the first articles, on July 20, in the presence of the Spanish ambassador;
and immediately after him the members of the Council took the same oath. The King alone then pledged himself to carry out the second set of articles.

An extensive alteration had already taken place in the treatment of the Catholics. Priests and recusants had been discharged from prison and enjoyed full liberty. An injunction was issued to the preachers and to the Universities to abstain from all invectives against the Papacy. Men had to see individual preachers who transgressed these orders thrown into prisons which had been just emptied. The families which openly expressed their hitherto secret adherence to Catholicism were already counted by hundreds. Then came these transactions. What was learnt of the articles was enough to spread universal dismay among the Protestants, but they expected yet worse things. They thought they saw a pronounced Catholic tendency becoming ascendant in the conduct of affairs. An universal danger seemed to be hanging over the religion which they professed. Every one hastened to church to pray against it; the churches had never been more crowded. The second ecclesiastic in the country, the Archbishop of York, put the King in mind that by his project of toleration he was encouraging doctrines which he had himself proved in his writings to be superstitious and idolatrous. At this time moreover religious profession and political freedom were most closely connected: all these penal laws which the King was removing had been passed in Parliament, and were the work of the legislative power as a whole. The Archbishop reminded the King in conclusion that when he annulled the statutes of parliament by royal proclamation, he created an impression that he thought himself at liberty to trample on the laws of the land.[423]

The wishes of the King did not lean so decidedly in that direction as people assumed. Buckingham and the Prince, who recommended him to take the oath, remarked to him, among other observations, that his promise that Parliament should repeal the penal laws against the Catholics within three years would be fulfilled, if he merely exerted himself to the extent of his strength for that object, even if it should prove impossible to attain it.[424] In general everything was merely preliminary, and depended on further agreement. The Prince entreated his father to transmit to him the ratification of the articles, that he might decline them or not according to circumstances. He even wished that, in order to put an end to the dilatoriness of the Spaniards, his father should make an express declaration that any longer delay would compel him again to enforce the penal laws against the Catholics.[425] All these announcements, which filled the Catholics with joy and hope, but the Protestants with dejection, mistrust, and anxiety, were however only political agencies, and were intended to serve a definite end. The object was in the first instance to put an end by this means to all delay in sending the Infanta to England.


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