« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
CHA P. intimate alliance betwixt the nations. Not to mention, that, as a new fpirit began about this time to animate the councils of France, the friendship of England became every day more neceffary to the greatness and security of the Spanish monarchy.
1623. Chara&er of Buckingbam.
ALL measures being, therefore, agreed on between the parties, nought was wanting but the difpenfation from Rome, which might be confidered as a mere formality K. The king, juftified by fuccefs, now exulted in his pacific counfels, and boafted of his fuperior fagacity and penetration; when all these flattering profpects were blafted by the temerity of a man, whom he had fondly exalted from a private condition, to be the bane of himself, of his family, and of his people.
EVER fince the fall of Somerfet, Buckingham had governed, with an uncontrolled fway, both the court and nation; and could James's eyes have been opened, he had now fuil opportunity of obferving how unfit his favourite was for the high station, to which he was raised. Some accomplishments of a courtier he poffeffed : every talent of a minister he was utterly devoid. Headftrong in his paffions, and incapable equally of prudence and diffimulation: Sincere from violence rather than candour; expensive from profufion more than generofity: A warm friend, a furious enemy; but without any choice or difcernment in either: With thefe qualities he had early and quickly mounted to the highest rank; and partook at once of the infolence which attends a fortune newly acquired, and the impetuofity which belongs to perfons born in high ftations, and unacquainted with oppofition.
AMONG those who had experienced the arrogance of this overgrown favourite, the prince of Wales himself had not been entirely fpared; and a great coldness, if not an enmity, had, for that reafon, taken place between them. Buckingham, defirous of an opportunity, which might connect him with the prince, and overcome his averfion, and at the fame time envious of the great credit acquired by Bristol in the Spanish negotiation, bethought himself of an expedient, by which he might at once gratify both thefe inclinations. He reprefented to Charles, that perfons of his exalted station were peculiarly unfor
tunate in their marriage, the chief circumstance in life; CHA P. and commonly received into their arms a bride, unknown to them, to whom they were unknown; not endeared by fympathy, not obliged by fervices; wooed by treaties. alone, by negociations, by political interefts: That however accomplished the Infanta, fhe muft ftill confider herself as a melancholy victim of state, and could not but think with averfion of that day, when she was to enter the bed of a stranger; and paffing into a foreign country and a new family, bid adieu for ever to her father's house and to her native land: That it was in the prince's power to foften all these rigours, and lay fuch an obligation on her, as would attach the most indifferent temper, as would warm the coldest affections: That his journey to Madrid would be an unexpected gallantry, which would equal all the fictions of Spanish romance, and fuiting the amorous and enterprifing character of that nation, must immediately introduce him to the princess under the agreeable character of a devoted lover and daring adventurer: That the negociations with regard to the Palatinate, which had hitherto languished in the hands of minifters, would quickly be terminated by fo illustrious an agent, feconded by the mediation and intreaties of the grateful Infanta: That the Spanish generosity, moved by that unexampled truft and confidence, would make conceffions beyond what could be expected from political views and confiderations: And that he would quickly return to the king with the glory of having re-established the unhappy Palatine, by the fame enterprize, which procured him the affections and the perfon of the Spanish princess
THE mind of the young prince, replete with candor, was inflamed by thefe generous and romantic ideas. He agreed to make application to the king for his approbation. They chose the moment of his kindest and most jovial humour; and more by the earnestnefs which they expreffed, than by the force of their reasons, they obtained a hafty and unguarded confent to their undertaking. And having engaged his promise to keep their purpose fecret, they left him, in order to make preparations for the journey.
L Clarendon, vol. i. p. 11, 12.
CHAP. No fooner was the king alone, than his temper, more cautious than fanguine, fuggefted very different views of the matter, and represented every difficulty and danger, 1623. which could occur. He reflected, that, however the world might pardon this fally of youth in the prince, they would never forgive himself, who, at his years, and after his experience, could entrust his only fon, the heir of his crown, the prop of his age, to the difcretion of foreigners, without fo much as providing the frail fecurity of a fafe conduct in his favour: That, if the Spanish monarch was fincere in his profeffions, a few months must finish the treaty of marriage, and bring the Infanta into England; if he was not fincere, the folly was ftill more egregious of committing the prince into his hands: That Philip, when poffeffed of fo invaluable a pledge, might well rife in his demands, and impose harder conditions of treaty: And that the temerity of this enterprize was so apparent, that the event, however profperous, could never justify it; and if disastrous, it would render himself infamous to his people, and ridiculous to all pofterity L
TORMENTED with thefe reflections, as foon as the prince and Buckingham returned for their dispatches, he informed them of all the reasons, which had determined him to change his refolution; and he begged them to defift from so foolish an adventure. The prince received the disappointment with forrowful fubmiffion and filent tears: Buckingham presumed to speak in an imperious tone, which he had ever experienced to be prevalent over his too easy master. He told the king, that nobody for the future would believe any thing he faid, when he retracted fo foon the promise fo folemnly given; that he plainly difcerned this change of refolution to proceed from another breach of his word, in communicating the matter to fome rafcal, who had furnished him with those pitiful reasons which he had alledged, and he doubted not but he should hereafter know who his counsellor had been; and that if he receded from what he had promifed, it would be fuch a difobligation to the prince, who had fet his heart upon the journey, after his majesty's approbation, that he could never forget it, nor for give any man who had been the cause of it M.
L Clarendon, vol. i. p. 14. M Id. p. 16.
The king, with great earnestness, fortified by many CHA P. oaths, made his apology, by denying that he had communicated the matter to any man; and finding himself affailed, as well by the boisterous importunities of Buck- 1623. ingham, as by the warm entreaties of his fon, whose applications had hitherto, on other occafions, been always dutiful, never earneft; he had again the weakness to affent to their purpofed journey. It was agreed that Sir Francis Cottington alone, the prince's fecretary, and Endymion Porter, gentleman of his bed-chamber, fhould accompany them; and the former being at that time in the anti-chamber, he was immediately called in by the king's orders.
JAMES told Cottington, that he had always been an honest man, and therefore he was now to trust him in an affair of the highest importance, which he was not, upon his life, to disclose to any man whatever. "Cottington," added he, "here is baby Charles and Stenny," (thefe ridiculous appellations he ufually gave the prince and Buckingham)" who have a great mind to 66 go poft into Spain, and fetch home the Infanta : "They will have but two more in their company, and "have chofen you for one. What think you of the "Journey?" Sir Francis, who was a prudent man, and had refided fome years in Spain as the king's agent, was ftruck with all the obvious objections to fuch an enterprize, and fcrupled not to declare them. The king threw himself upon his bed, and cried, I told you this before; and fell into a new paffion and new lamentations, complaining that he was undone, and should lofe baby Charles.
THE prince fhewed, by his countenance, that he was extremely diffatisfied with Cottington's difcourfe; but Buckingham broke into an open paffion against him. The king, he told him, asked him only of the Journey and of the manner of travelling; particulars, of which he might be a competent judge, having gone the road fo often by poft; but that he, without being called to it, had the prefumption to give his advice upon matters of state against his master, which he should repent as long as he lived. A thousand other reproaches he added, which put the poor king into a new agony in behalf of a fervant, who he forefaw, would fuffer for answering him honestly. Upon which he faid, with some emo
CHAP. tion, Nay, by God, Stenny, you are much to blame for L. ufing him fo: He answered me directly to the question W which I asked him, and very honeftly and wifely; and yet, 1623. you know, he faid no more than I told you before he was
The prince's journey to Spain.
called in. However, after all this paffion on both sides, James renewed his confent; and proper directions were given for the journey. Nor was he now at any lofs to discover, that the whole intrigue was originally contrived by Buckingham, as well as purfued violently by his fpirit and impetuofity.
THESE Circumftances, which fo well characterise the perfons, feems to have been related by Cottington to lord Clarendon, from whom they are here transcribed; and though minute, are not undeserving of a place in history.
THE prince and Buckingham, with their two attendants, and Sir Richard Graham, master of the horse to Buckingham, passed disguised and undiscovered through France; and they even ventured into a court-ball at Paris, where Charles faw the princess Henrietta, whom he afterwards efpoused, and who was at that time in the 7th March, bloom of youth and beauty. In eleven days after their departure from London they arrived at Madrid; and furprized every body by a step fo little usual among great princes. The Spanish monarch immediately paid Charles a vifit, expreffed the utmost gratitude for the confidence repofed in him, and made warm proteftations of a correfpondent confidence and friendship. By the most studied civilities, he fhewed the refpect which he bore his royal gueft. He gave him a golden key, which opened all his apartments, that the prince might, without any introduction, have accefs to him at all hours: He took the left hand of him on every occafion, except in the apartments affigned to Charles; for there, he said, the prince was at home: Charles was introduced into the palace with the fame pomp and ceremony which attends the kings of Spain on their coronation: The council received public orders to obey him as the king himself: Olivarez too, though a grandee of Spain, who has the right of being covered before his own king, would not put on his hat in the prince's prefence M: All the prifons of Spain were thrown open, and all the prifoners received
M Franklyn, P 73.