Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 16, 1604. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1933.
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The present volume describes the Cecil manuscripts for the whole of the year 1604. The outstanding events of this year for England were at home the meeting of James's first parliament, in which the beginning of the long struggle between the Stuart sovereigns and the representatives of the people was clearly marked, and the Hampton Court Conference which settled the lines of the King's ecclesiastical policy; and abroad, the continuation of the war in the Netherlands resulting in the final fall of Ostend to the forces of Spain and the Archdukes, an event somewhat set off by the capture of Sluys by the United Provinces, and the conclusion of peace between England and Spain. Some indication of how these and other events of the year are illustrated in the papers at Hatfield is given under the following subject-headings.
The King. James's own views of his royal position and his attitude to the various political questions of the time are shown in this volume in eight of his own letters and memoranda, all with one exception unfortunately undated, but mostly in the correspondence of those, notably Sir Thomas Lake, in attendance on him during his frequent absences from London. To his pleasure in hunting, which made him ill disposed to long visits to the capital, there are numerous references. Even for such a matter which he had at heart as the treaty with Spain and his audience with the Constable
his Majesty would have you understand that he does not purpose any more days than Sunday, and upon that day to give him his leave, except it be that the Constable will see him privately and without ceremony on Monday morning before his Majesty's departure: for longer his Highness will not stay (p. 209).
He himself writing towards the end of November says (p. 364):
what for the pleasure I take of my recreation here and what for the fear I stand in to offend the puritans I mind not to return to London till after that profane Christ's tide.
In one of his undated letters he refers to his last visit to London as "like a flash of lightning, both in going, stay there and returning" (p. 396), whilst some humorous resentment that matters of state should interfere with his sport may be detected in his remark to Cranborne, "I have also stranger news to tell you, that the number of letters that I have written since I came from home is equal to the number of hares that all this time I have killed" (p. 395).
It is natural that we should learn more in these papers of the King's activities and personal feelings at those times when he was not in direct personal contact with his secretary. The references to him are, however, somewhat occasional and we cannot here make out his complete itinerary during the year. During January and February he was evidently away from London for there are hints of his intended entry there for the meeting of parliament in March (pp. 12, 27). Actually parliament met on 19 March. On 29 March he was at Royston and in bed with a humour in his knee but resolved to journey on the following Sunday (1 April) to Sir Oliver Cromwell's for two or three days hunting (p. 45). He was still at Royston on 2 April having been delayed from going on to Huntingdon through some trouble about post horses (p. 50). We do not discover his whereabouts again until 12 June when he was at Greenwich, but intending to leave it for his recreation (p. 132). On 13 July he was at Oatlands (p. 172), but in the last days of that month apparently on a visit to Cecil at Theobalds (p. 191). From 6 to 8 August he was at Lord St. John's at Bletsoe (pp. 202, 206, 209) but on the latter date went to Lord Mordaunt's at Drayton (p. 210) where he still was on the 10th, proposing to leave on the following Monday (13 August) for Huntingdon whence fresh horses would carry him to Royston, where he would stay the night. Thence he would go to Ware by post and there a fresh coach would take him to London betime, where he was to meet the Constable (p. 220). Whether this programme was actually carried out does not appear here but on 11 August James was at Apthorp (p. 222). Of his subsequent movements we find him proposing to go to Grafton on 29 August (p. 279), at Broughton on 2 Sept. (p. 300), apparently at Hampton Court about 23 and 24 Sept. (pp. 315, 316), at Royston on 7 Oct. (p. 327) and again on 19 and 22 Nov. (pp. 358, 364), at Huntingdon on 25 Nov. (p. 367) and from 29 Nov. to 2 Dec. at Hinchinbrook (pp. 371, 374), minding not, as has already been noted, to return to London until after Christmas.
That James's extravagance was already a matter of concern to his subjects is clearly shown in these papers. On 29 July Sir William Fleetwood and Sir David Foulis who had been ordered to make some investigation into his household accounts reported that "the charges are much more than when the Lady Elizabeth was here, the reason alleged being the increase of officers by warrant, and their private diet" (p. 188). The complaints did not come only from the Commons. Thus the old Archbishop of York, troubled at the probable effects of the loan demanded from the clergy of his province, writes to Cecil on 10 August (p. 220):
His Majesty's subjects hear and fear that his excellent and heroical nature is too much inclined to giving, which in short time will exhaust the treasure of this kingdom and bring many inconveniences. His Majesty in Scotland lived like a noble and worthy king of small revenues in comparison, because he wisely foresaw that expensae should not exceed recepta; which I fear his Highness does not in England, but not minding his yearly recepta and recipienda (though great, yet not infinite) yields almost to every man's petition. If this should continue this kingdom will not serve, but that his Majesty contrary to his princely nature must be compelled to be burdenous and grievous to his most loyal and obedient subjects.
A draft letter to the King, revised by Cranborne and presumably intended to be sent by the Council (pp. 388, 389) urges him strongly against incurring the expense of a Christmas masque at Court, especially against the suggestion he had apparently made "that the Queen may bear her own charges if not the ladies', or else that commandment should be given to noblemen and gentlemen to make some jousts or barriers." Not many would be able to undergo those charges, which in former times had been but seldom imposed upon them. Moreover the King should know that few would be disposed for such exercises that would not think every 100l. of theirs a just ground for a suit of so many thousands. James's own feelings with regard to his financial position may be expressed in his own words:
I cannot but confess that it is an horror to me to think upon the height of my place, the greatness of my debts and smallness of my means. It is true my heart is greater than my rent, and my care to preserve my honour and credit by payment of my debts far greater than my possibility (p. 394).
Leaving for the moment the occasional references to the proceedings in parliament we may note here certain passages in the letters which show that the King's relations with the Lower House were strained at an early date. On 1 April Lake writes of two things that offended him in their proceedings; one, the delay in returning satisfaction upon his proposition to them; the other, their taking upon them to conclude definitely against the sentence of the Judges (p. 49), the latter no doubt referring to the insistence of the Commons upon their right to decide questions respecting the election of their members. On the following day Lake writes again from Royston (p. 50): "this dissension between his Majesty and the Lower House is wonderfully talked of here." In June Sir Francis Hastings is doubtful of the expediency of applying to the Commons during this first session for a subsidy because (p. 132):
If a motion should be made for a subsidy or a charge of any kind and a refusal follow, the result would be the disgust of the King towards the Commons, to the joy of foreign enemies and hollow hearts at home who envy the greatness of his Majesty in the sound affection of his subjects.
Something of James's resentment of what he considered an interference by parliament with a matter which he regarded as concerning his prerogative can be seen in his letter to Cranborne on 7 Oct. (p. 325) when he urges the Council to deliberate upon the matter anent the Marches of Wales before it comes before parliament:
for it will be both a great dishonour and inconvenient unto me, that the parliament should bandy that matter amongst them before I be first at my wits' end into it. Thus far only I recommend to your considerations that a king's old prerogative in continual possession may be in as great security as a private subject's old possession; that the common law be not made to fight against the king's authority, that the abuse of a king's predecessor be not a ground to deprive his successor of his lawful and rightly used privilege,
and he goes on to press Cranborne to "take all the pains ye can to inform and tune well the parliament men" (p. 326).
James's attitude towards two important questions of the year, those of uniformity in religion and the Union with Scotland, will be dealt with below under the headings of the Church and Scotland respectively. That he was during this period feeling himself not altogether happy in the esteem of his new subjects we may note in passing a remark of Sir George Home that he had been very melancolious, "not of any fear but rather anger that he thinks he is so little regarded" (p. 255). On the other hand one can see that he continued to feel himself confident in the loyal support of his principal secretary, his "little beagle," to whom his letters are full of affectionate banter, and Cranborne could write of him, "forasmuch as concerns my sovereign's favour towards me, no subject can say that ever he lost so worthy and dear a Mistress, and found so benign a Master" (p. 420).
The curious in the personal character of James will be interested in the original sonnet by him which is printed on p. 393 of this volume.
The Queen and the Royal Family. The comparatively few references to the Queen in the present volume are mainly concerned with questions arising out of the administration of lands in her jointure, which the Lords of the Council write on 3 July had lately been confirmed by parliament with a power to make leases for twenty-one years or three lives. A Chancery for the settlement of matters concerning her jointure had also been established at Westminster (p. 162). There are complaints of some remissness in her conduct of business and of delay in signing the patents of her auditors and receivers, due we are to infer from a letter of her secretary Fowler to the women about her (p. 114), especially to one Margaret, "who usurping too much authority commands and directs in her Majesty's name with insolence which with reason cannot nor shall not in any wise be obeyed" (p. 115). Her tradesmen too have to press for the payment of her debts; "longer delay would be their undoing and impoverishment" (p. 238). She seems to have been careless even of her own personal safety for in the face of an epidemic of measles which had attacked Lady Arabella Stuart and other ladies about her she "neither herself nor any of her royal jewels removed out of the House" (p. 382).
Of her pleasure in the entertainments of the Court an instance has already been noted in the masque which James had desired to have for her benefit. There is an interesting Shakespearian allusion in an undated letter from Sir Walter Cope, who had "been all this morning hunting for players, jugglers and such kind of creatures" but finding them hard to find. "Burbage," he says, however, "is come and says there is no new play that the Queen has not seen; but they have revived an old one called Love's Labour Lost, which for wit and mirth he says will please her exceedingly. And this is appointed to be played tomorrow night at my Lord of Southampton's" (p. 415).
There is an account of a quarrel between Sir Thomas Somerset and the Master of Orkney in the Queen's privy chamber, which Cranborne appears anxious the Queen should be dissuaded from dealing with in her own way (pp. 391–393).
Of Prince Henry we hear that he was to be brought to St. James's to be present at the King's reception of the Constable (p. 222) and there is an interesting letter from Peter Bales, his writing master, in which a copy of the Basilicon Doron he had written for the Prince is mentioned "in a small volume to be worn as a tablet book" (p. 402).
Of Princess Elizabeth there is a request for a "caroch" and waggon for her own ease in travel and for the carriage of her attendants in order to bring her from Combe in Warwickshire to Court (p. 312), and there is a little letter in French from her to Cranborne in behalf of her dancing master (p. 432).
There is considerably more about the little Prince Charles, the Duke of Albany. The arrangements for his journey from Dunfermline to England are discussed in a letter from his tutor, Dr. Atkins, of 17 June (pp. 137, 138). Later (3 July) he writes to the Queen of the Prince's progress in strength and intelligence, of his desire to go to London and see his mother, who will find him a "vive" image of his father, and of his being able to walk alone five or six times together all the length of the longest chamber in Dunfermline (p. 163). On 21 July he had arrived at Berwick (p. 195). On 8 August he came to the Earl of Shrewsbury's house at Worksop, where he still was on the 13th, "pleasing himself with music, whereof there was good variety; and has also been initiate in the sports of hunting having seen fast by the house the bucks coursed and killed" (p. 227). The precedents from the records of the creations of former Dukes of York (p. 331) were no doubt prepared with a view to the conferment of that dignity upon him in the following year.
The Parliament. Reference has already been made to the indications in these papers of the want of sympathy between the King and the parliament. The difficulties arising from this would seem to have been anticipated by Cecil in what is probably an unfinished draft of a letter of his to the Council written before the meeting of parliament (pp. 425, 426). He notes three principal propositions which James would be likely to make, namely, the confirmation of the articles in the commission for the Union, the orderly establishment of the Household, and a subsidy. In all these matters he foresees opposition and advises such consultation beforehand "as might have prepared some good way to the mutual satisfaction both of King and subjects, without which whatsoever shall be resolved may be accounted a lame work."
A memorandum dated 23 March, a few days after the parliament had met, enumerates seven committees appointed to deal with important causes (p. 43). These included such grievances as wardship, purveyance and monopolies. A long paper containing a relation of the proceedings of the Lower House between 23 March and 20 June (pp. 141–144) is mainly concerned with the first of these matters. Forced and illsuited marriages which were entailed by the system were alleged to result in great grievance and damage to the subject by the decay of many houses. A composition was suggested to the King for the restitution to the subject of his original right to dispose of his own children. Wardship was said to have been originally grounded on the tenures to serve the King in his wars against Scotland, "which cause we hope now to be at an everlasting end," and the present was therefore a favourable opportunity to abolish the whole system. Against this it was stated that wardships were not proper to England alone but that Scotland and some parts of France were subject to them. Of the revenues they had brought in the compositions for marriage had formed only a small part.
The same paper contains an abstract of the Apology which it was intended to present to the King "to clear certain misinformations which had been delivered to his Majesty." Herein the Commons affirmed that their privileges were of right and not of grace, that they were a Court of Record, and that the examination of the return of writs for knights and burgesses belonged to them and not to the Chancery.
Goodwin's case, in which the question of this last mentioned privilege of the Commons came up for discussion in the first days of the parliament, is referred to in a letter from Lord Zouche to Cecil before the actual assembling of the House (p. 40). Zouche, a relative by marriage of Sir Francis Goodwin, writes of the outlawries by which his election as knight of the shire for Buckinghamshire was held to be invalid as long since procured against him and pardoned, and "thinks it sharp that a man should in every place be discredited for things so long laid asleep." He is of course looking at the matter entirely from the personal point of view but the real question was one of principle between the King and the Commons as to who had the right to pronounce upon the validity of the election.
Shirley's case, the other important case in 1604 in which the privileges of parliament were involved, turns up here in a letter from Sir Thomas Shirley himself (pp. 71, 72), in which a somewhat technical question with regard to the King's ability to give his immediate assent to the bill for the writer's deliverance from custody is discussed.
On July 15 we hear that parliament was prorogued (p. 173).
Of the subsidy, the grant of which was one of James's propositions to the parliament, there is little in these papers beyond the letter of Sir Francis Hastings quoted above in which reasons were given for thinking the time inappropriate. To meet his needs the King had recourse to the method of raising money by loans on privy seals and there is much correspondence both from the clergy and the laity protesting chiefly against the amounts demanded. Reference to these letters will be found in the Index under the headings of Privy Seals and Taxation.
The Church and Matters of Religion. The Hampton Court conference took place in January but there is no notice here at the time of its sitting of the proceedings. An unfinished draft, however, of a minute, apparently prepared by Cecil shortly afterwards, aims at setting out the King's attitude at the Conference and his decision to enforce conformity with the prescribed orders of the Church (pp. 467, 468). Sir George Home in an undated letter written probably in the early part of the year (p. 254) alludes to James's care for the peace of the Church as shown at the Conference and to his subsequent actions highly tending to its estate. Cranborne in his letter to the University of Cambridge, mentioned below, states how carefully James had endeavoured in the Conference to clear the liturgy of the Church from the unjust imputation of popish superstition and how he had published his resolution to maintain the former constitutions, "not permitting innovation but requiring all men's conformity to things established" (pp. 389, 390). There is a letter from William Barlow, the official historian of the Conference, in which he expresses the King's pleasure with his work and asks leave to dedicate it to Cecil (p. 95).
The two solid results of the Conference were the ordering of the authorised translation of the Bible and the insistence upon uniformity of worship according to the Book of Common Prayer. Concerning the former there is a copy at Hatfield of the order setting out the names of the translators under the six companies in which they were grouped (p. 403) which does not materially differ from that printed in Fuller's Church History. An undated draft of a letter probably from the Council to the Archbishop of Canterbury, (almost certainly Bancroft whose election was not confirmed until December, 1604), states that:
His Majesty has given public notice and more private advertisement to the bishops of his most religious desire and resolution that all such ministers as heretofore have showed themselves disobedient to the orders, discipline and ceremonies of the Church should either be brought to good conformity or be orderly removed; that so at the last the adversaries of the Gospel, seeing the professors thereof knit together in uniformity and concord, might have no longer occasion, for their more easy seducing of the simpler sort, to lay before them the dissensions, bitterness and disobedience which hitherto have been too apparent in many of the ministry and in such as have combined in that contradiction (p. 416).
James himself seems to have been disposed to a certain leniency towards those "not conformable" ministers who might be thought of a disposition to give hope of ultimate conformity and to have advised the forbearing of all proceedings against them for a month or two (p. 366). In some memoranda in his own handwriting, however, he directs that a solid course be taken with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge for their conformity to the Church's canons and for deposing all recusant puritans (p. 398); and in an undated letter of his to the Privy Council he insists upon absolute obedience to Church government and not a mere promise "by subscription" to obey (p. 399).
As is to be expected it is from the University of Cambridge that we learn something in these papers of the carrying out of this policy for it fell to Cranborne as chancellor of that University to give directions for its enforcement. Laurence Chaderton (or Chatterton) who was one of the principal puritan disputants at the Conference was master of Emmanuel College and it was thought would not only not himself conform but would give "ill example in the University" (p. 367). On 25 Nov. Cranborne was requested on the King's behalf to consider what he could do to remove him if he continued obstinate. On 10 Dec., however, the vice-chancellor writes that the use of the ceremonies touching divine service was already begun in the College and that there was a full agreement among the fellows that the Holy Communion should be henceforth administered according to the course of the Church of England (p. 378). On 12 Dec. Chaderton himself writes to Dr. Neile that his College had been reduced to the order of other Colleges, "as we are desirous in all things to keep a good conscience towards God, so are we most unwilling to show the least disobedience to our superiors" (p. 381). He testifies that he himself, the fellows and scholars use the communion book daily and administer the sacrament kneeling, and also use the surplice according to the statute of the University (p. 382). A copy of the letter in which Cranborne sent his instructions to the University to enforce conformity in religious observance is preserved at Hatfield. Writing some time in December he requires the heads of colleges (pp. 389–391):
upon the receipt of my letters presently to assemble yourselves and take a diligent survey of ordering of every the colleges and halls in the University in Divinis Officiis according to the Statutes of the University, the constitutions of the Church and the orders prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer; and withal to take present order for the repressing of all liberty heretofore permitted in publishing or doing anything to the contrary, certifying me of the delinquents except they assure you of present reformation.
They were to be vigilant against private conventicles and to suffer no sermons to be preached by unconformable men or at unseasonable times. Everyone obtaining a preachership in a college was to exhibit his faculty for preaching either from the University or some bishop.
In illustration of the attempts that were being made outside the universities to exact conformity in the ministers of religion there is a letter (pp. 379, 380) from the Bishop of Lincoln to Dr. Montague, the Dean of the Chapel Royal, in which he relates his proceedings with respect to the unconformed ministers, about thirty in number, in his diocese. They stood "all stiff" in their former resolution not to yield to conformity in apparel, the Cross in baptism or to subscription. Nevertheless the Bishop had not thought good to deprive any of them for he had heard from the Archbishop that no certain directions could be sent as yet for proceeding against them, nor had any other bishop as yet censured any of the obstinate ministers with sentence of deprivation. A memorandum on the subject of the jurisdiction of the bishops casts doubt on the powers of the statutes to inflict penalty for omission or refusal of the vestments or ornaments of ministers and holds it to be a very doubtful point whether the Court of Ecclesiastical Commission could so far enforce the canons as to put a subject from his freehold (pp. 404, 405):
For if the Convocation House may for breach of church orders dispossess a minister of his freehold, why not any other subject? And by consequence the whole body of the realm may if they transgress the church orders be put out of their lands and livings, and be enthralled to the clergy as in times past.
The memorandum goes on to suggest that it might pity the King's heart to displace so many godly ministers. The endorsement "B. of Exeter" perhaps only implies that the Bishop had forwarded the paper to Cranborne or the Council as an example of what was being preached in his diocese for the views expressed can hardly be those of the anti-puritanical William Cotton.
Of changes in the hierarchy of the Church during the year the most important was that caused by the death of Archbishop Whitgift on the last day of February and the translation of Bancroft, the Bishop of London, to the province of Canterbury. Only a few incidental references to the late Archbishop occur in this volume and those some months after his death. Bancroft is mentioned in a letter of 27 Oct. (p. 336) as "the now elected Archbishop," but according to Le Neve his election did not take place until 17 Nov., although he was nominated as early as 9 Oct. There are several letters from him and various references to his dealings with papists and nonconformists. An interesting paper is concerned with his claim to be restored to the temporalities of the archbishopric from the day of Whitgift's death, for in justification of his plea it details the heavy charges he had already been at as Bishop of London and the further ones he would have to incur before his entrance into the province (pp. 407, 408).
Hutton continues as Archbishop of York but is said to be "now more fit to sleep than govern a province" (p. 45) (fn. 1). He writes of himself as "an old man, very sickly and never like to come to his Majesty's presence" (p. 220) but, as has been seen, has the courage to protest against the King's extravagance in money matters.
Bancroft was succeeded in the see of London by Vaughan, the Bishop of Chester; Thomas Ravis, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, became Bishop of Gloucester, although William Tooker states that he himself had been nominated by James to that see (pp. 327, 328); and Richard Parry, the Dean of Bangor, whose claims were strongly urged by residents of the diocese (pp. 314, 391), became Bishop of St. Asaph.
The severe measures against the Roman Catholics at home were renewed (p. 322) and in the north Lord Sheffield writes of as many as nine hundred being indicted at the assizes "and yet no doubt many not yet met with" for the Archbishop was slack in his courses (p. 45). The government agents were active in intercepting letters from and to English catholics abroad and at the beginning of the volume we have a précis of many such letters (pp. 31–37). Attempts of Jesuits and seminary priests to enter the country and import literature of a propagandist nature, in the baggage of the Constable for instance (p. 289), are reported. Strict directions for the examination of suspected persons landing at any of the ports were sent to the Lord Warden and others (p. 443). Thomas Allyson and others keep Cranborne informed of the activities of the English catholics abroad (pp. 399–401, 457), especially in France, where it was rumoured they were endeavouring to get the King to embrace their cause as in the late Queen's time the King of Spain had done (p. 71).
There are several references to the incident of the "unlucky Italian Voyage" (p. 460) of Sir Anthony Standen and his return home at the beginning of the year with "divers things of superstition" sent by the Pope as presents to the Queen, for bringing over which Standen was promptly placed in the Tower by the angered King. His relation of the murder of Rizzio, which is printed in this volume, will be more fitly considered below in treating of Scottish affairs. Of the objects he brought over one of the three corone was found to be wanting and the Lieutenant of the Tower was asked on 7 Feb. by Cecil to question Standen as to its whereabouts, "because his Majesty intends to send all things back again into France" (p. 26). They were returned to the Pope through the Nuncio in Paris and on 16/26 May we have a list of the objects with Bufalo's receipt (p. 100). On 5 Aug. Standen writes from the Marshalsea insisting again, as in his "relation," upon his past services to James from his cradle "and even before he was born (in saving his life)" and confesses his error "in conforming himself so far in this late matter to others' humours and importunities wherein he should have been better advised" (p. 201). In another letter, undated but evidently written somewhat later in the year for it is addressed to Cecil as Viscount Cranborne, he speaks of himself as free from the Compter through the considerateness of his creditors but appeals "for the mercy due to his large services" and for the payment of the sum of 445l. which he alleges to be owing to him by the Lord Treasurer for his Italian voyage (p. 460) (fn. 2).
Scotland. Of the internal condition of Scotland during 1604 there is practically nothing in these papers. We may accept as true for the rest of the year the Earl of Mar's report at the beginning of it, "all is here in great quietness" (p. 29), writing from Edinburgh in February, and Lord Fyvie's from Dunfermline in March, "our estate here (praised be God !) for the present is as calm, quiet and under as perfect obedience as ever I remember to have seen, without any other appearance for anything I can perceive" (p. 40). "This Union," he goes on to say, "is the most at this time of all men's hearts and speeches," and to judge from the correspondence in this volume so far as Scotland is concerned, the Union is the one topic of the year. There is abundant evidence that the King's heart was set on it. It was, as we have seen, the first of the three propositions he desired to lay before the English parliament. The draft of what appears to be a resolution upon the subject it was sought to have passed in the Commons, and which is printed in full from another source by Lodge, prays that the King will in all styles acknowledge himself King of the whole and united Isle of Britain and that commissioners may be chosen of all states for both kingdoms to decide all questions which may breed any hindrance to the Union. It is endorsed in Cecil's own handwriting with notes on such points for discussion as: "The time was when we wished Scotland ill, and now we wish it well. . . . . The time when we were opposite in arms, and now in equal obedience. . . . Caution where laws are to be changed" (pp. 413, 414).
Elphinston, the secretary, writing from Scotland on 4 May in answer to Cecil's letter of 28 April reports that there had been no less business there in the matter of the Union, although there had been some suspicion that some of the estates in whom the King had special trust had intended to carry it through without the general assent. Though he held this to be impossible, caution was necessary in the method of proceeding and had evidently been impressed upon him by Cecil, who must have foreseen more clearly than the impulsive James the age long prejudices to be overcome in the two peoples before their minds could be ripe for so revolutionary a change in their relations as the proposed union of the kingdoms would bring about. So Elphinston advises as a preliminary step to the removal of the causes of dislike and distrust between the nations the abrogation of some of the existing statutes in England and Ireland which were disgraceful and prejudicial to Scotland (p. 86).
On 9 July the Earl of Mar reports that the Lords of Articles had agreed, and the whole Parliament House would probably do so, that one commission should be given, not far different from that set down by the parliament in England, to one member to treat and consult upon the Union with those appointed in the latter country (p. 169).
In October it seems to have been common report that there was good harmony amongst the commissioners (p. 332) and on the 26th of that month Shrewsbury writes as though James had already been proclaimed King of "Great Bretany" (p. 336), "a good first stone of the excellent work of a further perfect union which now you are in hand to bring about." On 20 Nov. Shrewsbury is still inspired by Cranborne's letters with high hopes of the success of the negotiations (p. 359), hopes which James at the time seems to have shared with him (p. 363), although he had, no doubt to remove English susceptibilities, found it necessary to declare his intention not to press too hastily the preferring of Scottish men to places for which they could not be fit "without a reasonable process of time" (p. 364). But he likes "all things that have been done about the Union . . . . exceedingly well and thinks himself not a little beholding to you [Cranborne] for so quick expedition" (p. 366). Progress in the discussions concerning the act of naturalization seems to have been made during the same month by the commissioners in Scotland (p. 369) and on 14 Dec. we have the optimistic Shrewsbury writing again "I am very glad you have so well ended the Act for the Union; I hope the Parliament will pass it with great facility" (p. 382).
More practical steps towards the removal of any appearance of hostile conditions between the two nations are seen in the gradual reduction of Berwick as a garrison town of which we hear more than once during the year. In July commandment had been received there to transport all the ordnance in the town and adjoining forts to the Tower of London (p. 171). In December, however, the inhabitants were praying for leave to plant at their own charge certain small pieces of ordnance still remaining at Wark Castle, twelve miles off, within their fortifications "having now no ordnance left for safeguard of themselves and their haven" (p. 376). The extinguishment of the Borders and the removal of all distinction between them and other parts of the kingdom is set down by James himself as the work he has immediately in hand (p. 405) and in furtherance of this policy we hear of the abolition of the Border offices (p. 342). Unfortunately, however, law and order were not to be so readily imposed on the mere ipse dixit of the sovereign on a district where lawlessness had been rife for centuries and we hear of outbreaks of cattle raiding by "the badder sort of those people" who "presume upon their new enlargement" (p. 176). "The Borders" writes Captain Bowyer from Berwick, "are much infested with stealing, and now and then some disordered persons of the Scottish side stir up the ancient and barbarous custom of deadly feuds" (p. 376). Among the most turbulent of these Border peoples were the Graemes and steps were being taken to remove them from the country and establish them in various parts of Ireland (pp. 25, 427, 430).
Perhaps the most interesting reference to Scottish history in the present volume is that which concerns a period nearly forty years previously and is contained in the relation, already alluded to here, of Sir Anthony Standen when committed to the Tower by James. This adds yet another account to the authorities cited by Hay Fleming in his Mary, Queen of Scots (p. 387) for the murder of Rizzio. In estimating the value of Standen's evidence, whilst there is no reason to doubt that it is the account of an eye-witness, it must be borne in mind that it is written nearly forty years after the events it records and with a very definite aim in view. Standen is at pains to show that it was he who turned aside Balentyne's dagger from Mary and then by helping in her escape from Holyrood and remaining with her and Darnley during all the following events up to the birth of James in Edinburgh Castle that it was almost to him that the King owed his every existence. Against what Mr. Fleming appears to think the weight of evidence he adds another to those authorities who imply that Rizzio was slain in Mary's presence, for he says "Morton in her presence was the first who strake David into the temple with his dagger, which seemed his mortal wound, for presently he fell without speech, and there in the ante-chamber they gave him after he was dead fifty-one wounds more than the first" (p. 16). No hint is conveyed in Standen's "discourse" of any complicity that Darnley might have had in the murder or of any disagreements between him and Mary and naturally it would be entirely alien to his purpose to make any such suggestion. Two copies of his account exist at Hatfield. There is another account by him but briefer amongst the Domestic State Papers at the Public Record Office (S.P. Dom. Jas. I., Vol. I, No. 102). This has been tentatively dated in the Calendar as made in May, 1603, presumably on the supposition that it was used as a testimonial in his favour for obtaining the embassy to Italy at that date. It insists on the murder taking place in the Queen's majesty's bedchamber and presence and on Standen's diversion of the poniard that threatened the unborn James's life.
To finish with matters nearer home before passing on to the foreign affairs of the year there is little to call attention to in the fairly numerous references to Ireland in this volume. After the late wars comparative peace reigned in the island (p. 406). Claims for remuneration for past services in those wars continue to come from captains who were now finding themselves without occupation (pp. 295, 296). There are complaints against the authorities taking advantage of the exchange and using the debased coinage of the realm in their payments, thereby driving hard bargains (pp. 83, 84, 195), and Watson, the agent to the Treasurer at War, has to defend himself against accusations of this sort (pp. 462, 463). An undated paper sets out the many heads under which it was hoped to increase the revenues of the island (pp. 441, 442).
Papers relating to Naval Matters in this volume are chiefly concerned with reports of attacks upon merchant shipping by the ships of various nations. Nottingham, the Lord Admiral, was continuing his efforts to stop pirates setting out from English ports (pp. 202, 203) "but," he writes:
I do not look to live to see England or France free of pirates; they are relieved in some ports or creeks, and what my officers can do they shall. I would the King's officers and mine would join together to do their best, and that is the true way to cut them off.
He had heard of two English men-of-war in Plymouth Sound which had been commissioned by Count Maurice to serve on the coast of Spain against the Spaniards and was trying to stay them if possible, for he suspected that if that sort of thing were suffered "there will be more pirates in the Straits than ever was, and then what complaints we shall daily have you can judge" (p. 258). The treaty negotiations between England and Spain raised difficult questions concerning the rights of English ships if the former country was to maintain her neutrality between Spain and Holland, for whilst Englishmen were not to be prohibited from trading in the ports of the Archdukes in the Low Countries, James was to give free liberty to the Hollanders to make prize of any ships going into those ports. To the objections of the Spanish Commissioners it was answered that their ships would have the like liberty to take any English merchants going into any town of the Hollanders. Ships on their coast at sea could not, however, be lawfully taken until they attempted to pass the guards before such towns (p. 265). It was natural that the Dutch should feel special resentment at what they must have regarded as the desertion of their former ally and Sir William Monson, who had taken the Spanish ambassador, de Tassio, over to Dunkirk in October reports the "evil languages" of the Hollanders against his Majesty (p. 329) and that their ships riding before Gravelines had received late order from the States "to impeach all English ships that shall trade to any port of the Archduke" and moreover to burn all such ships as they shall take in that trade (p. 332).
Of attacks upon English shipping by other nations we have complaints of captures by the Danes of fishing boats of Harwich so long before the date of this volume as the year 1593 (p. 239) and by the same people of ships of Kingston-upon-Hull in 1599 (p. 445). An attack by Spaniards, who, it was said, had been enjoined by Pope and King under threat of excommunication not to trade with English or Dutch but to kill them, is reported in the West Indies in the preceding year (1603), when the Mayflower of London and two pinnaces were forced to leave the Main and sail to Hispaniola (San Domingo), where the Spaniards boarded one of the pinnaces, stabbed all the Englishmen and carried it away, leaving the Mayflower for want of its pilot standing "a whole year at great charge, having 100 men in wages, besides loss of 2,000l. in the pinnace's goods." The other pinnace had been more successful for it had taken two Spanish ships off Cuba (pp. 246, 247).
The Dutch are reported to have captured a carrack in the East Indies with goods valued at over a million sterling besides a notable quantity of gold (p. 230), but as a set off against this good fortune twenty of their ships had been taken by Duke Charles of Sweden for trafficking with his enemy (p. 231). The Duke was strong at sea we learn elsewhere here (p. 284) but in great want of sailors:
If he could get some English sailors, he would pay them truly, as he does Scots and Dutch soldiers. He gives them great pay, and pays them well, and so without doubt would he deal with Englishmen, if there were any reasonable number together, as a 100, 2, or 3 of our nation in his service, as I would to God there were, for so long as we be but 2 or 3 of our nation in his service, we shall never be respected as others are, although our deserts be far better than theirs.
Of the Army apart from the doings of the English soldiers serving in the campaign in the Netherlands, which is dealt with below, there is little or nothing to call attention to in the present volume. Notice may perhaps be taken of the accusations of fraud made against the contractors for clothing the troops in Ireland and the Low Countries by one John Byrde, a notary public (pp. 76, 77), whose "unrewarded zeal to public good" seems only to have brought him to debtors' prisons (p. 403).
Foreign Relations. The most important event of the year 1604 so far as the foreign policy of the country is concerned was the conclusion of the treaty with Spain and the Archdukes and the consequent reversal of the anti-Spanish policy which had been pursued for so long in the preceding reign.
The arrival in England of de Velasco, the Constable of Castile, who was expected to head the Spanish commissioners, had been expected for some months but delayed for a variety of reasons. In May Winwood reports a story from Antwerp of his ordering jewels of great price to take with him into England and of his being even more surprised than were the jewellers at his request that they should refuse to receive at the same price any he might bring back with him (p. 85). Actually he arrived on 5 August being forced to land by contrariety of wind at the Downs, where Sir Lewis Lewkenor, who had been awaiting him at Dover, repaired to meet him with the Spanish ambassador (de Tassio) and "with as many coaches, horses and waggons as we could get at Dover or about, and brought him thence to Dover" (p. 203). He had come with great store of provisions, "among the rest two loads of ice to put in his wine," and was all in his Spanish grandeza, permitting no one of his train to stand covered before him or to sit covered at his table. Nevertheless, he used the English representatives with great respect and courtesy (p. 204). On 7 August, his departure from Dover being delayed by the sea sickness of several of his gentlemen, he was met on Barham Down by Lord Wotton, "attended on by most part of the knights and gentlemen of the county," and at night arrived in Canterbury (p. 205). In his train were 234 persons, "whereof eight of very good quality, some few other gentlemen, the rest all household officers and servants." Wotton describes him as "a very grave gentleman, courteous enough, his behaviour void of vanity, no tedious complimenter, and, in a word to my thinking, his carriage not unlike yours [Cecil's]" (p. 208). Lewkenor speaks of him as having a weak body and subject to much sickness (p. 212). On 9 August he reached Gravesend, "his health somewhat better than at his landing, exceedingly well pleased with my Lord of Northampton's coming, who was very honourably attended." From thence he was to go by water to Somerset House where he was expected to arrive about 3 p.m. on the following day (p. 212).
In the meantime James who was in the country was making his arrangements to receive the Constable and not intending, as we have already seen, to spend more time than he thought necessary over the business (pp. 209, 210, 219, 220). "The King," writes Sir Thomas Lake,
knows no cause why when the solemnity is past there should be any longer stay. For the taking of leave is no part of an ambassador's commission but in the will of the Prince to whom he comes to order as his own affairs require, the substance of his errand being performed. And his Majesty purposes to make known to him on Sunday that he is to depart on Monday.
If, however, the Constable desired to stay longer, he could not be bidden begone, "how great soever the charge of his stay be" (p. 219).
We have little in these papers concerning the actual negotiations over the treaty. Cecil is asked on 12 August by Lake as to the princes and states to be comprehended in it. James had thought there would be some difficulty about the States of Holland and Zealand but Lake had said "out of my poor judgment" that they might be allowed to enter within a time limited if they would (p. 226). The Spaniards, it was thought, might offer to comprehend the Pope and Cecil was asked to consider with the Lords what should be done in such case.
On 16 August one of the copies of the treaty was ready to be entrusted to Sir George Carew (fn. 3) for engrossment on parchment for the Seal. Two other copies, which were to be signed by the English commissioners for delivery to those of Spain and the Archdukes, Sir Daniel Dunne writes were being written out fair and "I hope, though they will be very long in respect of the preambles and commissions which are to be added to the former draft of the treaty, yet to have them ready by two of the clock to-morrow in the afternoon" (p. 233). Pressure had been brought to bear on the Senator (? Rovida) and President (Richardot) to have their copies for the English commissioners ready for comparison before all met to sign the treaty. It is nearly a month later, on 10 Sept., that Carew announces that the ratification to be delivered to the Archdukes had been ready "a good while" (p. 304).
It was natural that those Englishmen who were serving their country in the United Provinces should be under considerable apprehension as to the difficulties in their position which the treaty would create. Sir William Browne's letter of 23 August (fn. 4) and its enclosure, a copy of his long letter to the Privy Council, are here given in full (pp. 269–274), though copies of them amongst the Sydney Papers at Penshurst were printed by Collins in 1746 in his Letters and Memorials of State, &c. (Vol. II, pp. 301–305). Browne was acting as the deputy of Lord Sydney, the Governor of the cautionary town of Flushing, who was over in England during the year 1604, and was especially concerned with the part of the treaty which forbade the garrison of that town to join with the States in any actions against the Archdukes. No wonder that to him, living amongst a population strongly hostile to the Spaniards and the Archdukes and in a garrison of which "the strength is least of our nation," the difficulties in such circumstances of maintaining neutrality seemed almost endless. There were not only the complications regarding shipping already mentioned, such cases for instance as where a Spanish ship should by tempest or fight be forced for succour into the haven of Flushing, or where an English ship was allowed to enter the enemies' havens in Flanders and the privilege was denied to the townsmen of Flushing though "his Majesty's cautionary subjects." What was to happen should the enemy land forces with intention to possess himself of any part of the island? Should not the garrison forget neutrality and strive to impeach such designs? Or it might be that Count Maurice, fired with ambition at the success of his attempt on Sluys, might seek to recover the town, "which he holds to be his patrimony." Browne confesses to loving "this nation more than any but our King's natural subjects" and knowing how great moment the devotion and service of the United Provinces would be for his Majesty's dominions prays their lordships to incite the King to hold them such friends "whom he may always command and give them no advantage at their best advantage to slip the collar."
Much explanation, too, of the treaty had to be made to Winwood, the English agent with the States General, and Cranborne's letter of 4 Sept., of which a draft largely corrected by him is at Hatfield (p. 301) and which has been printed in full from the original in Winwood's Memorials, endeavours to minimise its effects on the Dutch. Barnevelt is to be told that "if they be not apt to multiply their own jealousies . . they shall find all friendly and just correspondency." James had not made any proclamation to revoke the English companies that were already in Holland, and had promised neither to punish nor to stay "but only that he will not consent; of which word you know the latitude as well as I." Evidently, however, Winwood was not convinced for in his letter of 20 November (pp. 360, 361) he writes to Cranborne:
"I will be bold to represent in private to you the poor estate of these distressed Provinces, which, now abandoned of all foreign help, must rely upon the providence of God for their future conservation. I need not speak what detriment this State receives by the late peace made with Spain. The eye of sense doth see it doth sap and mine the groundwork whereon this union was first founded.
He goes on to describe the difficulties the Provinces had to raise the funds necessary to maintain the war:
"It is true they go royally through with the business: but to be able so to continue when their enemy shall assail them both by sea and land, and force them for their defence to maintain two armies, hoc opus, hic labor erit.
An undated and incomplete draft of a letter from Cranborne to James, made presumably during the treaty negotiations (pp. 423, 424), reports a conversation with the Spanish Ambassador in which the writer endeavours to dispel some doubts which appear to have arisen that the King's ministers were "Hollanders," and explains James's attitude in covenanting for all manner of neutrality towards the Provinces "as one that had neither been at any time author of their separation, nor meant to dissolve the confederation wherein you found your estate, as to censure their errors or meddle with their defence."
Among the more immediate results of the treaty seems to have been the resolve to send the Lord Admiral with four ships to Spain. An undated letter of the Lord Treasurer raises the question of the victualling of these ships the estimate for which was 5348l. 6s. 8d., 1400 men being required, "a wonderful charge" (p. 431). Dorset suggests that ships of lesser burden be taken. James was also considering the sending of a resident ambassador to Spain with the Admiral and the conferring of the Garter upon Philip (p. 398). The resumption of trading relations between the countries led to the dropping of the 30 per cent. Spanish embargo on foreign imports in the case of England and it was rumoured that a similar agreement had been come to between Spain and France (pp. 329, 356). A letter of the ambassador de Tassio to James recommends three Spaniards, whom he names, to act as English consuls in Spain and the Balearic Isles (p. 461).
There is little concerning France and this country's relations with her in the present volume but it is evident she was watching with much curiosity, not unmingled with apprehension, the course of the treaty negotiations with Spain. De Harlay, the French ambassador, although confessing his knowledge of them, endeavours in August to obtain from the Spanish ambassador a copy of the articles which had already been agreed upon for the regulation of trade (p. 289). Early in September in order to be able to advise his sovereign of the state of affairs, he wishes to be better instructed to prevent the umbrage and discontentment in France "at what has been so unhappily conducted and interrupted on the side of Spain" (p. 302). Some draft instructions prepared by Cecil and excusing the treaty on the grounds that James had not inherited his predecessor's enmity with Spain but was naturally inclined to live peaceably with all princes were probably drawn up for the English ambassador at the Court of France (p. 285).
Another matter about which the French King was alleged to be unduly inquisitive was the Union with Scotland
and whether the Scots would ever yield to it, and if they would not desire the King's second son to be their king, and whether they would be so base as to lose the dignity of a kingdom and the presence of a king amongst them. Which curiousness his Majesty thinks an argument of his disposition to prevent the quietness of this isle if he had the opportunity (p. 367).
In other respects it would seem that the new understanding with Spain could not be brought about without engendering mistrust between this country and her former friend, for earlier in the year Sir Anthony Sherley reports from Venice rumours of the Jesuits working "to make the King of France take the Catholics into that title and terms which the King of Spain did in her Majesty's time" (pp. 71, 110).
Beyond the campaign in the Netherlands which is dealt with below there is little else in respect of James's relations with foreign powers to be noted here. Attention, however, may be directed to the claims of the Hanseatic League for special privileges which were finally rejected in September by the Privy Council at Hampton Court (p. 316). It is evident from the considerations of their cause set out on pp. 297, 298 that the old strength of the League had now gone. Lesser cities in it had come to look upon themselves as serving merely to enrich and maintain the more prosperous cities of Lubeck, Hamburg and Dantzig, whilst with the exception of the last all of them were now completely subject to the Emperor, and Dantzig had been some years before subdued by the King of Poland, who had dispossessed the Hanse of all its privileges within his dominions.
We may notice also the selection of Sir Thomas White as ambassador to Muscovy (p. 459), where we find him arrived at Archangel at the end of July (p. 185), and the claim of the Republic of Geneva to be treated as a separate power in the wording of the Spanish treaty (p. 401).
The Campaign in the Netherlands. A very considerable part of this volume is taken up with the events of this campaign and the letters from Cecil's various correspondents in the Netherlands. Of these there were Winwood with the States General and Sir William Browne at Flushing (fn. 5). The former writes usually from the Hague but he pays occasional visits to Flushing and Middelburg and is for a time in April present with the Estates in the neighbourhood of Sluys. At the front Cecil's most frequent correspondent is Sir John Ogle and there are occasional letters from Sir Francis Vere, Cecil's nephew Sir Edward Cecil and Sir Richard Warburton. All of these were with the English companies at Sluys. From Ostend we hear only indirectly, though fairly frequently, of the course of events.
The letters give us an almost day to day account of the campaign and serve to amplify the very voluminous materials which have already been so fully treated by Motley. It is not necessary to deal with them here in any great detail but the outstanding features of the campaign they describe may be briefly set out.
On 21 March Winwood writes that it was hoped that Count Maurice would undertake some exploit for the relief of Ostend but that the idea of a counter attack upon Antwerp had been abandoned as impracticable (p. 41). Sir Francis Vere had resigned his command into the hands of the States, who were resolved to make no new general of the English troops (p. 42) and later (p. 46) turned down Buccleugh's request to become his successor. On 15 April the States' forces effected a landing at Cadsand and Maurice, with the States General and Council of Estate "ever at his Excellency's elbow" (p. 59), resolved to lay siege to Sluys. Ogle attributes to some error in the advice given to him or to some want of resolution or speed in his execution of it that the design to surprise the enemy and take the haven was not immediately successful (p. 60). This also was the opinion of Sir William Browne who thought that the enemy had been given leisure to make resistance and "if at the first his Excellency had entered the haven of Sluys, he should have found none who would have opposed" (p. 62), and much to the same effect writes Winwood (pp. 63, 64). By 23 April the two forts of St. Catherine and St. Philip had been captured and Maurice was proceeding to lay siege to Isendike, the third fort (p. 69), which fell to him on the 30th (p. 78). The surrender is described by Ogle on pp. 80, 81. Aardenburg followed on 2 May being unexpectedly abandoned by the enemy on the approach of the States' forces (p. 87). An action on 6 May at the passage of the river near Damme, in which the English troops especially distinguished themselves, resulted in the defeat of the enemy under Don Louis de Velasco with a loss of 400 in killed and in prisoners a number variously estimated at from 200 to 400 (pp. 90–92), the latter including some Spaniards of note, the names of the principal of whom are given on pp. 449, 450. During May the States General were pressing Cecil to obtain James's permission for a levy of 1200 men to fill up the English companies which, it is stated, were found at the last review too small and diminished (p. 94) and the request was supported by Sir Horace Vere whom the States had asked to undertake the levy (p. 95). At this time counsels appear to have been divided as to whether an attempt should be made to relieve Ostend or the siege of Sluys should be continued but by 13 May Maurice had evidently made up his mind for the latter policy and was entrenching himself in front of Sluys to bombard the town. The enemy was reported to be shaken and intending to come to Blankenberghe with his main army (p. 97). For a time there was breathing space at Ostend (p. 98). In his letter of 17 May Sir Horace Vere gives some account of the difficulties of the siege of Sluys, which in itself was of no great strength but was well protected by the sea and the drowned lands about it (pp. 101, 102). Ogle is hopeful at this time of the staggering effect the loss of the town would have upon the enemy but Count Maurice saw little chance of effecting it in a short time except by a miracle (p. 104).
An attempt of the enemy to bring provisions into the town on 20 May was defeated but with small loss in killed, that day being a Sunday, a day on which the States' forces had objections to shedding blood (p. 106). Signs of the growing exhaustion of the defenders were seen in their attempt to convey out of the town a thousand galley slaves or "forzati" (p. 107), and towards the end of May Maurice was decided to famish the town rather than try to force out the garrison (p. 112). Meanwhile the States were preparing floats and bridges and platforms for fifty pieces of cannon (p. 113), though Maurice had no great trust in them (p. 131). There was evidently considerable friction at the time between him and the Estates who were galling him with reproaches of dilatoriness.
On 7 July Maurice was reported to be still delaying trial of the floats or galleries, which had been made but proved too short, and Ogle and some of the Estates themselves were beginning to be doubtful of their efficacy (p. 170). On 20 July Ogle announces that Spinola with 10,000 men was quartered near Middelburg and expected to attempt the relief of Sluys but that there were increasing indications that this town could hardly hold out another ten days (p. 178). On 2 August Winwood was anticipating the early taking of it, though Spinola had with great confidence undertaken to victual the town (p. 199). His first attempt had, however, been repulsed with considerable slaughter and Maurice was "too great a master to lose those works wherein he hath had leisure so long to lodge." It was the opinion of the "best colonels" in the States' service that Spinola had "not proceeded with soundness of judgment" in not leaving Ostend before Maurice had had time to entrench himself (p. 207). He did, however, apparently succeed in drawing Maurice away for a time by a ruse during which he was able to convey secretly the greatest part of his army towards the two forts of St. Philip and St. Catherine (p. 210), both of which he retook, and might have succeeded altogether had it not been for the resistance of some Frisian companies who held him at bay until Count William could come up with further Frisian forces and repulse his attack with an estimated loss to him in killed and wounded of 500 men (p. 214). This was his last effort to succour the town for on 6 August he marched away by night (p. 210) and on the 10th Sluys was surrendered, the enemy being allowed to march out "bag and baggage, colours, match light, bullet in the mouth, &c." (p. 218).
Of Ostend we hear only occasionally, no English troops having been left in the town since the days when Sir Francis Vere commanded the defence. Early in May Browne had feared that it could not hold out another fourteen days (p. 78). Nevertheless, no doubt largely on account of Maurice's diversion at Sluys, the siege was to be protracted until the middle of September when the town was finally but honourably surrendered (p. 306). Late in the month of May rumours were afoot that an assault upon it by the enemy had cost him very dear, including even the death of the Marquis Spinola himself (pp. 111–113), but the good news was eventually contradicted (p. 117). After the capture of Sluys some hope seems to have been entertained that Maurice would make some attempt to relieve Ostend, but the Count was himself opposed to the enterprise knowing the strength of the enemy in men and fortifications and the weakness of the States' army, one third of which was infected with sickness (p. 282).
In September Sir Francis Vere resigned the governorship of the Briel in favour of Sir Edward Conway (p. 307).
Viscount Cranborne. Attention may be called to some of the more striking passages in this volume which serve to illustrate the personal character of Lord Cecil who became on 20 August in this year Viscount Cranborne. The letters to him from his sovereign, who calls him his "little beagle" and writes usually in terms of bantering affection, will be read with interest. He counts him "the best servant that ever I had, albeit he be but a beagle" (p. 394). Cranborne's addiction to work and abstention from the field sports that James loved so much are more than once matters of comment. He is "the little beagle that lies at home by the fire when all the good hounds are daily running on the fields" (p. 395) and when the stress of correspondence was interfering overmuch with his hunting James could allude to himself as "almost as bleared as the beagle" (ibid.) Shrewsbury too could twit his friend on his continual poring over papers and the risk he ran of blearing out his eyes (p. 383) and, in answer to what Cranborne had told him that his daily toil of mind and body had brought him already to the age that in the Psalms was reckoned of labour and dolour, fears that he will never have the leisure to become a gardener as Northumberland had become in his new garden at Sion (p. 360).
That Cecil could be sincerely attached to his friends we have the testimony of Sir George Home, who quoting a conversation he had had with the King and referring to the friendship between Cecil and Devonshire, writes that he had said: "if your Majesty will know my Lord Cecil rightly and his nature, it is this, he is as friendly a man to his friends as any is living." When, however, it came to a matter that concerned the King in matters of his estate, Cecil would as freely deliver his opinion of his friend to his sovereign "as if it were but of any other indifferent man of the country," and James had answered that "it was true, and that made him to think that of all the men that ever he knew your lordship was the meetest man to be counsellor in all matters of estate" (p. 254).
As an instance of his impartiality and hesitation to refuse pardon to one who might have been maliciously prosecuted we have his letter to Lord Zouche, the President of the Council of Wales, in which he writes (p. 288): "I confess in doubtful cases my course ever is (for fear of like partiality in aggravating) rather to be inclinable to believe the best than the worst, for fear of touching innocent blood." His sensibility to pity in the case of those wrongfully used may be seen in his letter to the judges of the Court of Arches interceding for their favour "as far as shall seem reasonable" towards a poor woman "already married and so great with child that she is not able to travail in defending herself" (p. 52). The letter from a student of physic in Padua on pages 356, 357 may serve as an illustration of his bounty. His indifference to mere ribald criticism may be seen in his contemptuous note, "an idle information," on a letter from an informer (p. 15). That he could, however, be thoroughly outspoken when occasion required in his reproof of a friend we may witness his carefully corrected draft of a letter to the Earl of Lincoln, to whom he can write that "whosoever will bring me the man that had ever power to persuade you to do anything but for your own lucre, I will give him a better reward than you gave for the King's gerfalcon" (p. 70).
Hints that he was contemplating a second marriage occur once or twice in these papers. Thus the Earl of Mar mentions a rumour that he was to marry Barbara Ruthven (p. 29) and Lord Knollys refers to his wish for a young wife (p. 446). But James was probably gauging his real intentions more truly when, writing with allusive and playful humour anent the effects of a recent eclipse, he says, "It shall make some widowers loth to marry again, the beagle knows who this is" (p. 326).
There are as usual many references to presents sent to him, mostly of hawks and game but including also such diverse things as dried plums and pedigrees of the King of Portugal and Count of Holland. On two occasions he acts as godfather, once to Sir Richard Warburton's child (p. 277) and once to Captain Winter's (p. 313), in each case by proxy, though in the latter which took place at Bath he had been expected to be present in person and great provisions had been made for his entertainment. For some reason, perhaps fear of plague infection, Cranborne seems to have curtailed his visit to Bath this year, if indeed he even got as far as the town on his journey there.
There are a few references to his son William Cecil, who writes from St. John's College, Cambridge, in November a letter "of his own invention, without the help of any other" (p. 353). He receives a present of a horse from the French ambassador (p. 301). Of Cranborne's little daughter Frances we hear of her coming to London where Lady Russell, fearing that she night be "infected with bad religion" by staying with her aunt, Lady Sturton, begs that she may be allowed to have her with her (pp. 292, 293).
The following among the miscellaneous matters of interest in this volume may be noted.
Of the plague with which the country was so inflicted in the previous year we learn from the letter of an English merchant in Spain that in January it was still holding up the export of goods from London (p. 6). In February, however, Lord Zouche praises God for the cessation of that sickness "which held our minds from expressing so great joy as our hearts conceived" (p. 25). Unhappily, although London was comparatively free, it is to be presumed (we still have some records of it at Westminster at the end of the year (pp. 383, 387)), it had not yet altogether left the kingdom. In May it is reported to have very lately come into the towns of Coventry and Rugby (p. 111), and from Bath, where as has been seen it was prevalent, there are a number of reports of its ravages in the summer and early autumn.
There are numerous suits for employment and the means of raising money, "in a time" as one applicant aptly says, "when every man sought to benefit himself by suits" (p. 402). Among these that of Lord Say and Sele especially strikes the attention at the present day when it is only within recent years that his idea has been realised in this country, for he asks for a tax of a penny a poll of all that come into playhouses throughout England (p. 339). "All interludes" he writes "and common playhouses are as unnecessary [as tobacco] and yield no penny to the King: although for every comer in 3d., 6d. or 9d. before they come in to the best places." For the farm of such a tax for twenty-one years he is prepared to pay 1000 marks down and a rent of 40l. Another suit is for a twenty-one years lease "to receive of each parish yearly 12d. to keep a register book in parchment within the several dioceses of Canterbury and York for the yearly entering of all marriages, christenings and burials" (pp. 460, 461), the writer observing that such events being for the most part entered into loose papers or such like scrolls have been lost by negligence or detained by extraordinary means. Another applicant aims at settling the manufacture of playing cards within the realm (p. 402).
Of interest in the history of archive administration in this country are the letter from the keeper of the records in the Tower of London disputing the jurisdiction of the Master of the Rolls over those records (pp. 346, 347) and the papers relative to the invasion by Sir John Parker of the privileges of the Six Clerks of Chancery (pp. 369, 370).
The list of burgesses of Old Sarum for the parliaments between 1553 and 1604 is fuller than the list printed in the preceding volume of this Calendar and gives more detailed particulars as to the mode of election (pp. 457, 458).
A letter from Edmund Colthurst with reference to his patent for bringing water from the springs towards Hertford to London, three miles of which had already been completed at a cost of over 700l., and the City's proposal in opposition to bring the water from Uxbridge (p. 55). The undated letter from the Council to the City (pp. 417, 418) bidding the corporation to appoint committees to come to an agreement with Colthurst was doubtless in answer to this.
There is an account of cures worked by a woman in Northamptonshire on ringworm, tetter worm and cankerworm (pp. 280, 281). Of medical interest too is Lady Russell's reference to her nephew, Sir Anthony Cooke, "killed by butchery for surgeon's practice" (p. 292).
Antonio Perez is reported to have landed at Dover early in the year and his expulsion from England is requested by the Spanish ambassador (p. 26). Lord Cobham writing in prison has heard that he has newly written a book called his Aphorisms (p. 198). An undated letter refers to the correspondence Perez had been receiving at Dover (p. 433).
The numerous letters from Sir Walter Ralegh, who had the bad habit of not dating his letters, have all been printed by Edwards and are only briefly calendared here. There are letters too from Lord Cobham, Lord Grey, and Sir Griffin Markham, Ralegh's fellow sufferers in the plots of the previous year. The last named was allowed to go into the country for a short time in order to settle his father's affairs (pp. 140, 144). There are lists of the visitors who were permitted to have access to the prisoners in the Tower (pp. 193, 198).
A whelp was born to one of the lionesses in the Tower, "the rarest thing which in this country has happened in any age" (p. 207). The King was much interested in the event and desired that everything should be done to cherish the cub (p. 206). But by some accident it did not long survive its birth (p. 208).
There is a report on a new dyeing process by the Lord Chief Justice with reference apparently to an application for a patent by the inventors which was opposed by the dyers of London (pp. 215–217).
An artificial ruby is offered to Cecil by a foreigner for 300l., it being alleged that the cleverest jeweller would value it at not less than 3,000l. sterling (p. 253).
A letter from the Armour makers of London calls attention to the decay of their industry owing to want of sale for their armour (p. 410).
A letter from John Norden, the topographer and cartographer, may be noticed (p. 451).
In conclusion, the naive complaint of John Ferrour, whom God made "a prime messenger of the glad tidings to your Majesty about the decease of Queen Elizabeth," that he had received no pecuniary reward for his service (p. 433) is perhaps worthy of notice.
M. S. Giuseppi.