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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Charles I opened his first Parliament at Westminster


of demeanour bordered on maiden

bashfulness: a serious and temperate soul spoke from his calm eyes. He had a natural gift for apprehending even the most complicated questions, and he was a good writer. From his youth he shewed himself economical; not profuse, but at the same time not niggardly; in all matters precise. All the world had been wearied by the frequent proofs which his father had given of his untrustworthiness, and by the unfathomable mystery in which he enveloped his ever-wavering intentions: they expected from the son more openness, uprightness, and consistency. They asked if he would not also be more decidedly Protestant. He showed, at least at first, that he had a more sensitive feeling with regard to his princely honour.[446] He had expected that his personal suit for the hand of the Infanta would remove all difficulties on the part of the Spaniards, even those of a political character, which obstructed the marriage. They had paid him every attention suitable to his rank, but in the business which was under discussion they had not given way a hair's breadth: it rather appeared as if they wished to avail themselves of his presence to impose harder conditions upon him. He was deeply affronted at this. When he found himself again among his countrymen on board an English ship, he expressed his astonishment that he had not been detained after he had been so ill-treated.[447] Quiet and taciturn by nature, he knew while in Spain how to disguise his real feelings by appearing to feel differently: but
we have seen how on his return his whole attitude with regard to affairs in general, both foreign and domestic, in matters which concerned his father and the Parliament alike, assumed an altered character which corresponded to the general feeling of the nation far more closely than the policy previously pursued.

In the last days of James doubts had still been felt whether he would ever allow a marriage to take place between his son and a French princess, and large sums had been wagered on the issue. Charles I at once put an end to all hesitation. He did not allow himself to be induced to defer his marriage even by the death of his father, or by a pestilential sickness which then prevailed, or by the lack of the desirable preparations in the royal palaces. He wished to show the world that he adhered to his policy of opposition to Spain. He even allowed the privateering, which his father had formerly suppressed with so much zeal, to begin again. The royal navy, for the improvement of which Buckingham actively exerted himself, was put in a complete state of efficiency, and the money granted by Parliament was principally employed for this purpose.

But to enable him to undertake war in earnest he required fresh grants. It was almost the first thought of the King after his accession to the throne to call a Parliament for this purpose, and that the same Parliament which had last sat in the reign of his father.[448] He bent, although unwillingly, to the necessity, imposed by the constitution, of ordering new elections to be proceeded with, for he would rather have avoided all delay: but he entertained no doubt that the Parliament, as it was composed after the elections, would give him its full support. After what had taken place he considered this almost a matter of course.

On June 18/28, 1625, Charles I opened his first Parliament at Westminster. He reminded the members that his father had been induced by the advice of the Parliament, whose wishes he had himself represented to the King, to break off all further negotiations with Spain. He said that this was done in their interest: that on their instigation he had embarked on the affair as a young man joyfully and with good courage: that this had been his first undertaking: what a reproach would it be both for himself and for them if they now refused him the support which he necessarily required for bringing to a successful issue the quarrel which had already begun!


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