« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
the king; the purport of both which was to procure, CHA P. in favour of the puritans, a relaxation of the eccle- XLVI. fiaftical laws E. The ufe of the furplice and of the crofs in baptifm is there chiefly complained of; but the 1604. remedy feems to be expected folely from the king's difpenfing power F. The fame papers discover the violent animofity of the commons against the catholics, together with the intolerating spirit of that assembly.
THIS fummer, the peace with Spain was finally con- Peace cluded, and was figned by the Spanish minifters at Lon- with don G. In the conferences, previous to this treaty, the Spain. nations were found to have fo few claims on each other, 18th Aug. that, except on account of the fupport given by England to the Low Country provinces, the war might appear to have been continued more on account of perfonal animofity between Philip and Elizabeth, than any contrariety of political intereft between their fubjects. Some articles in the treaty, which feem prejudicial to the Dutch commonwealth, were never executed by the king; and as the Spaniards made no complaints on that head, it appeared, that, by fecret agreement, these articles were understood in a different fenfe from what they seem naturally to bear, and that the king had exprefsly reserved the power of fending affiftance to the Hollanders H. The conftable of Caftile came into England to ratify the peace; and on the part of England, the earl of Hertford was fent into the Low Countries for the fame purpose, and the earl of Nottingham, lord high admiral, into Spain. The train of the latter was numerous and splendid; and the Spaniards, it is faid, were extremely furprized, when they beheld the blooming countenances and graceful appearance of the English, whom their bigotry, inflamed by the priests, had reprefented as fo many monsters and infernal dæmons,
E La Boderie, the French ambassador, fays, that the house of commons was compofed moftly of puritans Vol. i. p. 81. F Parliamentary Hift. vol. v p. 98, 99, 100 G Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 585, &c. H Winwood, vol. ii. p 27. p. 330, et alibi. In this refpect James's peace was more honourable than that which Henry the 4th himfelf made with Spain. That prince ftipulated not to affitt the Dutch; and the fupplies, which he fecretly fent them, were in direct contravention to the treaty.
THOUGH England, by means of her naval force, was perfectly secure, during the latter years of the Spanifh war, James fhewed an impatience to put an end to hoftilities; and foon after his acceffion, before any terms of peace were concerted or even propofed by Spain, he recalled all the letters of marque 1, which had been granted by queen Elizabeth. Archduke Albert had made fome advances of a like nature K, which invited the king to take this friendly step. But what is remarkable; in James's proclamation for that purpose, he plainly fuppofes, that, as he had himself, while king of Scotland, always lived in amity with Spain, peace was attached to his perfon, and that merely by his acceffion to the crown of England, without any articles of treaty or agreement, he had ended the war between the kingdoms. This ignorance of the law of nations may appear furprising in a prince, who was thirty-fix years of age, and who had reigned from his infancy, did we not confider, that a king of Scotland, who lives in clofe friendship with England, has few tranfactions to manage with foreign princes and has little opportunity of acquiring experience. Unhappily for James, his timidity, prejudices, his indolence, his love of amusement, particularly of hunting, to which he was much addicted, ever prevented him from making any progrefs in the knowledge or practice of foreign politics, and in a little time diminished that regard, which all the neighbouring nations had paid to England, during the reign of his predeceffor M
I 23d of June, 1603. K Grotii Annal. lib. 12. L See proclamations during the first feven years of king James. Winwood, vol. ii. p. 65. M Memoires de la Boderie, vol, i. p. 64, 181, 195, 217, 302. vol. ii. p. 244, 278.
Gun-powder confpiracy. A parliament.Truce betwixt Spain and the United Provinces.—A parliament. -Death of the French king.-Arminianism.
State of Ireland.
E are now to relate an event, one of the most CHA P. memorable, which history has conveyed to pof- XLVII. terity, and containing at once a fingular proof both of the ftrength and weakness of the human mind; its wideft departure from morals, and most steady attachment to religious prejudices. 'Tis the Gun-powder Treafon of which I fpeak; a fact as certain as it appears incredible.
THE Roman catholics had expected great favour and Gun-porindulgence on the acceffion of James, both as he was der confpidefcended from Mary, whofe life they believed to have racy. been facrificed to their caufe, and as he himself, in his early youth, was imagined to have fhewn fome partiality towards them; which nothing, they thought, but interest and neceffity had fince reftrained. 'Tis pretended, that he had even entered into pofitive engagements to tolerate their religion, fo foon as he should mount the throne of England; whether their credulity had interpreted in this sense fome obliging expreffions of the king's, or that he had employed fuch an artifice in order to render them favourable to his title N. Very foon they discovered their miftake; and were at once furprized and enraged to find James, on all occafions, exprefs his intention of executing ftrictly the laws enacted against them, and of persevering in all the rigorous measures of Elizabeth. Catesby, a gentleman of good parts and of an antient family, first thought of a moft extraordinary method of revenge; and he opened his intention to Piercy, a defcendant of the illuftrious houfe of Northumberland. In one of their conversations with regard to the diftreft condition of the catholics, Piercy having broke into a fally of paffion, and mentioned affaffinating the king; Catesby took the opportunity of revealing to him a nobler and more extenfive plan of treafon, which not only included a fure
N State Trials, vol. ii. p. 201, 202, 203. Winwood, vol. ii. p. 49.
CHA P. execution of vengeance, but afforded fome hopes of reXLVII. ftoring the catholic religion in England. In vain, faid he, would you put an end to the king's life: He has children, who would fucceed both to his crown and to his maxims of government. In vain would you extinguish the whole royal family: The nobility, the gentry, the parliament are all infected with the fame herefy, and could raise to the throne another prince and another family, who, befides their hatred to our religion, would be animated with revenge for the tragical death of their predeceffors. Το ferve any good purpose, we must destroy, at one blow, the king, the royal family, the lords, the commons; and bury all our enemies in one common ruin. Happily, they, are all affembled on the first meeting of the parliament; and afford us the opportunity of glorious and useful vengeance. Great preparations will not be requifite. A few of us, combining, may run a mine below the hall, in which they meet; and choosing the very moment when the king harangues both houses, confign over to destruction these determined foes to all piety and religion. Mean while, we ourselves ftanding aloof, fafe and unfufpected, fhall triumph in being the inftruments of divine wrath, and shall behold with pleasure thofe facrilegious walls, in which were paft the edicts for profcribing our church and butchering our children, toft into a thoufand fragments; while their impious inhabitants, meditating perhaps still new perfecutions against us, pafs from flames above to flames below, there for ever to endure the torments due to their offences.
PIERCY was charmed with this project of Catesby; and they agreed to communicate the matter to a few more, and among the reft to Thomas Winter, whom they fent over to Flanders, in quest of Fawkes, an officer in the Spanish fervice, with whofe zeal and courage they were all thoroughly acquainted. When they inlifted any new confpirator, in order to bind him to fecrecy, they always, together with an oath, employed the facrament, the most facred rite of their religion P. And 'tis remarkable, that no one of thefe pious devotees ever entertained the least compunction with regard to the cruel maffacre, which they projected, of whatever
• Hiftory of the Gun-powder Treafon. vol. i. p. 190, 198, 210.
P State Trials,
was great and eminent in the nation. Some of them CHA P. only were startled by the reflection, that of neceffity ma- XLVII. ny catholics must be prefent; as fpectators or attendants on the king, or as having feats in the houfe of peers; But Tefmond, a jefuit, and Garnet fuperior of that order in England, removed thefe fcruples, and thewed them how the interests of religion required that the innocent fhould here be facrificed with the guilty.
ALL this paffed in the fpring and fummer of the year 1604; when the confpirators alfo hired a houfe in Piercy's name, adjoining to that in which the parliament was to affemble. Towards the end of that year they began their operations. That they might be lefs interrupted, and give lefs fufpicion to the neighbourhood, they carried in store of provifions with them, and never defifted from their labour. Obftinate to their purpose, and confirmed by paffion, by principle and by mutual exhortation, they little feared death in comparison of a disappointment; and having provided arms, together with the inftruments of their labour, they refolved there to perish in case of a discovery. Their perfeverance advanced the work; and they foon pierced the wall, though three yards in thicknefs; but on approaching the other fide, they were somewhat startled with hearing a noise, which they knew not how to account for. Upon enquiry, they found, that it came from the vault below the houfe of lords; that a magazine of coals had been kept there and that, as the coals were felling off, the vault/ would be let to the highest bidder. The opportunity was immediately feized; the place hired by Piercy; thirtyfix barrels of powder lodged in it; the whole covered up with faggots and billets; the doors of the cellar boldly flung open; and every body admitted, as if it contained nothing dangerous.
CONFIDENT of fuccefs, they now began to look forward, and to plan the remaining part of their project. The king, the queen, prince Henry, were all expected to be prefent at the opening of parliament. The duke, by reafon of his tender age, would be abfent; and it was refolved, that Piercy should seize him, or affaffinate him. The princess Elizabeth, a child likewife, was kept at lord Harrington's houfe in Warwickshire; and Sir Everard Digby, Rookwood, Grant, being let into the confpiracy, engaged to affemble their friends, on