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England-Union With Scotland


The great Lord Bacon was proved guilty of having accepted bribes while acting as judge. Not only that, but he admitted his guilt and was sentenced by the House of Lords to pay a fine equal to $200,000 and to undergo a long term of imprisonment. He had, however, been a most servile tool of the King, who straightway pardoned him and remitted the fine.

King James I. has received the most fulsome praise, and the demand has been lately made that he should be canonized, but he was a despicable wretch, who died from confirmed drunkenness and gluttony (1625). The Duc de Sully made the pointed remark of him that he was "the wisest fool in Christendom." The marked features of his reign were the planting of the colonies in America, which proved the germ of the present United States; his prolonged fight with the House of Commons, in which the latter showed themselves the stronger, and the steady growth of the Puritan and Independent forms of religion in the kingdom.

The wife of James I. was Anne of Denmark, and their children were Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, who died in 1612; Charles, who was his father's successor; and a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Frederick V., Elector Palatine of Germany. Because the revolting Bohemians chose Frederick as king, Elizabeth is remembered as the Queen of Bohemia. It must be noted that James was the first to take the title of King of Great Britain, and it was he who formed a national flag, which symbolized the patron saints of England and Scotland, St. George and St. Andrew, the combination becoming known as the "Union Jack."

Charles I. was born in November, 1600, so that he was twenty-five years old when he succeeded to the throne of Great Britain. He was an extraordinary man, who may be described as having a dual or double nature. In his private life he was conscientious, honorable, and the most courteous of gentlemen. He was what he claimed to be, irreproachable in morals and conduct, scrupulous in all of his personal relations, and a model citizen. As a sovereign, he was exactly the reverse. This may be ascribed to his fanatical belief in the divine right of kings, which he had inherited from his father, and which was intensified in the son. As the ruler of his people, he considered himself above all law; the "king could do no wrong," and Parliament, instead of being his master, should be his servant. You have met persons who insisted that others should hew close to the line, and obey to the minutest particular the tenets of religion, while they themselves lived in open violation of them and seemed to think that by some special dispensation they had the right to belie their profession, and that, too, without committing sin. Such a man was Charles I. of England, who could never be made to see that his subjects had any rights which he was bound to respect.

He opened his reign with more than one grave mistake. He had imbibed from his father the notion that an Episcopal church was most consistent with the rightful authority of kings, and he adopted severe persecuting measures against the Puritans of England and the Presbyterians of Scotland. He offended his people by marrying Marie Henrietta of France, a rigid Catholic, who greatly influenced his religious views, and he made the Duke of Buckingham, the unpopular minister of his father, his own prime minister and chief adviser.

The Queen, Henrietta, had a genius for extravagance, and kept her royal husband busy gathering the immense sums which she insisted she must have, and which he had not the courage to refuse. The only way Charles could get. the funds was by a grant from Parliament, and there came a time when that. body felt strong enough to deny his request, except upon his agreement to give the people certain reforms and concessions. The King angrily refused, and dissolved the body; but before long, to his chagrin, he saw there was no way of getting on without calling the members together. He did so, but, giving: way to resentment, speedily dissolved them again and then found himself forced to summon them for a third time. The issue was made up between him and! the lawmakers. They said: "We will give you five subsidies, but it shall be: on the condition that you grant our Petition of Right." This important paper condemned his illegal practices of extorting taxes, arbitrary imprisonment,. and the exercise of martial law. The King groaned in spirit, but assented: (June, 1628).

Parliament had already drawn up articles of impeachment against the Duke of Buckingham for misgovernment, but when the King signed the Petition of Right, they felt that the victory warranted them in dropping proceedings. Soon after the duke was stabbed to death by one of those "cranks" who fancythat such crimes are of help to their country.

True, Charles had signed the Petition of Right, but while laboriously tracing his signature, he grimly thought: "I am doing this as King; thereforeI shall violate it on the first opportunity. Had I signed it as a private gentleman, I would die before breaking my pledge, but as sovereign I am beyond. reach of all moral law."

Can you figure out the distinction? He straightway revived the monopolies that public indignation compelled Elizabeth to abolish, and thus placed in the hands of his friends an oppressive means of piling up colossal fortunes, which of course they were glad to share with him. Delighted at finding a way of squeezing money from his subjects, he ruled for the next eleven years without any Parliament at all. These were eleven years of surface tranquillity,. but of fast-growing, spreading, and unquenchable fire beneath.

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England-Revenues Raised without Parliament


It was during this period that the famous Dutch painter, Van Dyke, came to England, and was made much of by the King. He painted several appreciative portraits of Charles and the various members of the royal family; and the grateful monarch knighted him as Sir Anthony Van Dyke. The royal gratitude was well bestowed, for it is probable that these sympathetic and artistic portraits of all that was best in Charles, did more than anything else to rouse the feeling in many breasts of future generations, that this poetic-looking King must have been a martyred saint.

As successor of the detested minister Buckingham, Charles chose an oily traitor, Thomas Wentworth, whom he made Earl of Strafford. Strafford had been one of the signers of the Petition of Right, but the King bought him and he became a pliant tool. Another able servant was William Laud, Bishop of London, afterward Archbishop of Canterbury. Both of these rogues gave all their brains and energies to making Charles absolute, and not inappropriately termed their scheme "Thorough." Laud strove savagely to drive the Puritans, like so many cattle, into conformity with the Church, while Wentworth became president of the revived Council of the North and acted the tyrant in that region. Transferred to Ireland he was equally harsh. The High Commission and the Star Chamber courts lent their help, and their once limited authority became practically unbounded. The Star Chamber not only heavily fined those declared guilty of showing contempt for the King's authority, but often inflicted torture. All sorts of devices were resorted to for raising money. One of these was to levy "ship money," so called because it was pretended that it was for the purpose of building a fleet. John Hampden, a wealthy country gentleman of Buckinghamshire, who could have paid his tax a score of times over without feeling it, refused as a matter of principle, and his courage heartened others to do the same. On his appeal, the corrupt judges decided against him, but Hampden was raised higher than ever in the estimation of his countrymen.

The story is told that Hampden became so disgusted with the tyranny of the King, that he resolved to join the Puritans who had crossed the Atlantic to America, and that in company with his cousin, Oliver Cromwell, a farmer like himself, he went on board a vessel in the Thames, but as they were about to sail the King forbade it, and they returned to their homes. What a difference there would have been in the history of England, if King Charles had allowed those two men to leave the country!

The Scots in 1637 rebelled against the attempt to compel them to accept a liturgy like that of England. Two years later Charles marched against them, but his empty treasury and mutinous soldiers forced him to make terms; and, no choice being left to him, he called a Parliament in 1640, of which he was

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