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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Were almost unanimous against Buckingham


Before

the departure of the Parliament from London Lord Keeper Williams had promised in the King's name that the laws against Catholic priests should be observed. Immediately after the Speaker had taken his seat at Oxford, a complaint was made that an order for the pardon of six priests had been since issued. Williams had had no share in it; he had refused to seal it. It had been necessary to complete it in the presence of the King, who was induced at the urgent request of Buckingham to give his assent in pursuance of the conditions of the agreement executed with France. This conduct however, the failure to execute laws that had been ratified, especially after a renewed promise to the contrary, appeared to the Parliament an attack upon its rights and upon the constitution of the country. The ill-feeling was directed against Buckingham, whose exceptional position was now the general object of public and private hatred.

This was a time in which the power of a first minister in France, who came forward as the representative of the monarchy, was winning its way amid the strife of factions, and above all in opposition to the claims of aristocratic independence. What Concini and Luynes had begun, Richelieu with a strong arm carried systematically into effect. Something similar seemed to be at hand in England also. It had been the fashion of James I to give effect to his will in the state by means of a minister, to whom he confided the most important affairs,

and whom he wished to be dependent solely on the King himself; and Charles I, in this as in other matters, followed his father's example. Buckingham became more powerful under him than ever. At the meetings of the Privy Council the King hardly allowed any one else to speak: without taking the votes of the members he accepted Buckingham's opinion as conclusive. And yet it was apparent at the same time that this opinion did not deserve preference from any worth of its own. The public administration, so far as it was influenced by him, and his special department, the Admiralty, furnished much occasion for just censure; and the general policy on which he embarked appeared questionable and dangerous. He was coarsely compared to a mule which took its rider into a wrong road. Oxford suggested to men's minds the recollection of the opposition which the great nobles had once offered to Henry III. People said that they might perhaps have been to blame in form, but not in substance. It was wished that Charles I might also govern the state by the help of his wise and dignified councillors, and not with the aid of a single young man. Parliament, the great men of the country, and those who filled the highest offices, were almost unanimous against Buckingham. The Lord Keeper Williams told the King openly at a meeting of the Privy Council at Oxford, that nothing would quiet the apprehensions of his Parliament but an assurance 'that in actions of importance and in the disposition of what sums of money the people should bestow upon him, he would take the advice of a settled and constant council.'[454] The misconduct of the favourite in not applying the money granted to the objects for which it was voted, was exactly the ground of the complaint urged against him. Not only the real importance of the points in dispute, but also the intention of driving Buckingham from his position, led Parliament to reject all his proposals.

The King's adherence to his resolution of supporting his minister greatly affected the state of affairs in England, which even at that time presupposed and required an agreement between the Crown and the Parliament.


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