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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

With whom to replace Buckingham


But this condition could not be fulfilled in England quite easily and without opposition.

And how indeed could it have been expected that the members of the Privy Council, who had followed the King in the direction given to his policy in favour of Spain, if not without any reserve, yet with an ardour which might be turned to their reproach, would now, as it were, turn round, and follow the example of the favourite in entering on another path? A commission chosen from their body was appointed in order to take into consideration the complaints made by Buckingham about the behaviour of the Spanish court. But the report which Buckingham made was by no means so convincing as to win their concurrence. He rather depended on impressions, which had no doubt in his own eyes a certain truth, than on facts which might have served as evidence for others as well. The commission declared itself almost unanimously against him.[435] Its sentence was, that Philip IV had seriously intended to marry his sister to the Prince; and that in the affair of the Palatinate he had behaved, if not as a friend, yet at any rate not as an enemy. The first part is undoubtedly correct; with regard to the second however, neither the members of the Privy Council had any suspicion, nor had Buckingham himself any real information, that the Spaniards had made the interests of Austria in the Palatinate so decidedly their own. The Council was moreover in an ill humour with the favourite on account of the arbitrary authority which he arrogated to himself. When Lord Bristol came to England in the beginning of the year 1624, and then laid all the blame on Buckingham himself, a party was formed against the latter, which sought to overthrow him, and was even thought to have already secured a new favourite, with whom to replace Buckingham, just as he had formerly stepped into the place of Somerset. It was remarked that the friends and adherents of Somerset, who had always been on the side of Spain, came together and bestirred themselves. It was clear, and was generally said, that if relations with Spain were not broken off, the minister must fall. As people expressed it, 'either the marriage must break or Buckingham.'

In this danger Buckingham resolved on a step of the greatest significance, in order to be able at once to attack the Spaniards, and to meet his rivals at home. He turned to those who had for many years demanded war with Spain on principle, the popular and zealous Protestant party. The King assented to his request for the summoning of a new Parliament, of which he had in fact for other reasons already given notice. As was to be expected from the connexion of affairs, the result of the elections corresponded with the views of the last Parliament. Men like Coke, who had been called to account for their attitude at that time, were re-elected two or three times over. The ruling minister now regarded them even as his allies.

What an indescribable advantage however for the supporters of the claims of Parliament was this change! As the ill-success of the German policy of the King in the year 1621 had turned to their advantage, so now they profited by the failure of his negotiations with Spain. The political leanings of James I in favour of Spain, which they had originally opposed, had led to embarrassments in which the First Minister himself invoked their aid.

But not only did party rivalries display themselves at this important moment, but a general opposition also arose on constitutional grounds. The Earl of Carlisle represented to the King that he had been visited by members of Parliament, no mere popular leaders or speakers, but quiet men and good patriots, who feared God and honoured the King: that he had learned from them that the agitation observed in the country had principally arisen because the last grants of Parliament had not been met by any favours on the part of the King, but on the contrary the expression of opinions displeasing to him on the part of certain members had been subsequently punished by their arrest. Carlisle reminded the King that nothing could be more hateful to his enemies, or more strengthening and encouraging to his friends, than the removal of these disagreements; that no king had ever had better subjects if he would but trust them; that if he would but show them that he relied on their counsel and support, he would win their hearts and command their fortunes; and that the people would then work with him for the welfare and honour of the State.[436]


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