Imágenes de páginas

disclosed it to several of his reckless friends, one of whòm suggested sending to Flanders for Guido (or Guy) Fawkes, a cool and daring soldier, of like mind with themselves.

The conspirators took a house adjoining the chamber of the peers and began digging a mine, but the wall being nine feet thick, they made little progress. After they had been working for a few weeks they found that a cellar lying under the House of Lords was to let. They took it, stored the necessary gunpowder, and thus completed the preparations for the explosion.

But it would be useless to destroy James and the Parliament without having a force ready to take advantage of the confusion which would follow. To provide such a force money was needed, and to get money the conspirators let some rich Catholics into the secret. One of these had a brother-in-law in the House of Lords, and anxious for his safety, he contrived that a knowledge of the intended mischief should reach the government. The session was to be opened on the 5th of November; the night before, Guy Fawkes was seized while watching in the cellar. Some of the plotters died fighting; the rest were taken and executed.

1 A capital crime, a crime that may be punished with death. a repression, a crushing, a keeping down. conceived the idea, hit upon the plan.


[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

THE GOVERNMENT OF JAMES 1. JAMES I. had the most 1 exalted notions of his own authority. He maintained that he had a 2“ divine right” to govern as he pleased. Addressing the members of parliament, he actually compared himself to God. “Kings,” he said, “ are justly called gods, for that they exercise a manner or 3 resemblance of divine power upon earth, for if you will consider the 4 attributes of God, you shall see how they agree in the person of a king." After drawing the comparison out to a 5 tedious length he ended it by saying, “that as to dispute what God may do is 6 blasphemy ... so it is 7 sedition in subjects to dispute what a king may do in the 8 pleni


tude of his power.” Subjects might be treated “like men at chess,” and any liberties they might enjoy were not theirs by right, but by favour of the sovereign.

The rule of the Tudors was ' despotic enough, but they were careful not to oppose the wishes of the 10 majority of the people ; James, while equally despotic, took no heed of the popular feeling. Englishmen were not yet content to be regarded as mere 11 pawns, and 12 resented the attempt to treat them as such. There were frequent disputes between the king and his parliaments. On one occasion the House of Commons presented a petition to him, setting forth the causes of the public dissatisfaction then 13 prevailing and pointing out the 14 remedies. He, in reply, 15 reproved members for discussing “matters far above their reach and 16 capacity,” commanded that they should not “ henceforth presume to meddle with anything concerning our government," and threatened to punish the 17 " insolent behaviour,” of any man who disobeyed.

1 Exalted, high, lofty. ; divine, coming from God. 8 resemblance, likeness. 4 attributes, the qualities belonging to. S tedious, tiresome. 6 blasphemy, speaking evil of God. 7 sedition, conduct likely to bring about rebellion. 8 plenitude, fulness. 9 despot, one who governs according to his own will. 10 majority, the greater part. 11 pawns, certain of the “men” in the game of chess. 12 resent, to take as an injury. 13 prevail, to be in force. 14 remedy, cure. 15 reprove, to blame. 16 capacity, powers. 17 insolent, impudent.


BUCKINGHAM. JAMES was succeeded by his son Charles. “He had received from nature a far better understanding, a far stronger will, and a far keener and firmer temper than

his father's. He had l inherited his father's 2 political S theories, and was much more disposed than his father to carry them into practice. He was like his father a zealous 4 Episcopalian ... and though no Papist, liked a Papist much better than a Puritan. It would be unjust to deny that Charles had some of the qualities of a good and even of a great prince. He wrote and spoke not like his father, with the exactness of a professor, but after the fashion of 5 intelligent and welleducated gentlemen. His taste in 6 literature and art was excellent, his manner dignified though not 'gracions, his 8 domestic life without blemish. Faithlessness was the chief cause of his o disasters, and is the chief stain upon his memory." *

Soon after his father's death Charles summoned a parliament. The members met in an angry mood, They knew that James had broken one promise made to the last parliament, and suspected that he had broken another. They knew that money which had been granted to fit out a fleet against Spain had been spent in sending an army to Holland, and that out of 12,000 men 10 dispatched, 9,000 were in a few weeks dead or dying; they suspected, when they found Charles about to marry the sister of the French king, that an engagement had been made to tolerate the Catholics. For the breach of faith on the part of the sovereign, and for the failure of the Dutch expedition, the House of Commons blamed the Duke of Buckingham.

James liked to have a gay and handsome young fellow about him, to be his assistant in business and his companion in pleasure. His first favourite was Robert Carr, a Scotchman, whom he made Earl of Somerset. When he began to weary of Somerset, George

* Macaulay.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »