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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Which every day increased in severity


on another chair. The Prince

appeared to find this quite proper: Buckingham was for him not so much a servant as an equal and intimate friend. It would have been impossible to say which of the two was the chief cause of the alienation which arose between them and the Spaniards. Rumour made the favourite responsible for this estrangement: better informed people traced it to the Prince himself. The intimacy formed during their previous association had been made still closer by the policy which they pursued since their return from Spain. Many persons hoped notwithstanding that, in spite of appearances to the contrary, an alteration would take place with the change of government. But on the first entry of Charles I into London, Buckingham was seen sitting by him in his carriage in the usual intimate proximity. His share in the marriage of the King increased their friendship: they both equally agreed even in the subsequent change of policy. Buckingham had allied himself most closely with the leaders of the Puritan opposition in Parliament: by their support principally he had broken up the party favourable to Spain. But in return for these services he had now not the least intention of doing justice to their claims. If it had depended on him, still greater concessions would afterwards have been granted in favour of the Catholics than in fact were made; for Catholic sympathies were very strongly represented in his family: he himself had far less feeling in favour of Anglican orthodoxy than the King. And when the
rights of the prerogative were called in question, he again espoused them most zealously, seeing that his own power rested on their validity. He looked at the Parliamentary constitution from the point of view of a holder of power, who wishes to avail himself of it for the end before him without deeming himself bound by it, so soon as it becomes inconvenient to him. He cared only for success in his immediate object: all means of obtaining it seemed fair.

The continuance of the session in London was at that time rendered impossible by the pestilential sickness already referred to, which every day increased in severity. Buckingham, who although pliant and adroit yet had no regard whatever for others, wished to keep Parliament sitting until it had made satisfactory grants. While the members, and even the Privy Council, wished for a prorogation, he urged with success that the sitting should only be transferred to Oxford. Thither the two Houses very unwillingly went, for there also symptoms of the plague were already showing themselves; and each member would have preferred to be at home with his family. And when Buckingham came before them at Oxford with his proposal for a further grant, the ill-humour of the assembly openly broke out. He was reproached with the illegality of his conduct in asking for a grant of subsidies more than once in a session; the members said that if this was the object of their meeting they might well have been at home.[453] But they were not content with rejecting the proposal: they said that if they must remain together, they would, according to former precedent, bring under debate the prevailing abuses and their removal.

Buckingham had been warned that by now changing his demeanour he would run the risk of forfeiting those sympathies of Parliament, which he had won by his Protestant attitude. In the very first session at Oxford an event took place which set religious passions in agitation.


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