« VorigeDoorgaan »
hopes which he had built upon the gratitude of the King. James had at once appointed the welcome messenger one of the gentlemen of his bedchamber, but after he reached England he dismissed Carey from this post, and forgot to fulfil his promises of further preferment. The cause which led to Carey's removal was no doubt a representation addressed by the Council to the King, in which they stigmatised Carey's conduct as 'contrary to such commandments as we had power to lay upon him, and to all decency, good manners, and respect.' However, later in the reign. he succeeded in obtaining the offices and titles he desired, becoming successively master of the robes and chamberlain to Prince Charles, and being created Baron of Leppington (1622), and finally Earl of Monmouth (1626). He died in 1639.
While the account of the last days of Queen Elizabeth given in Carey's Memoirs is valuable as being the report of an eye-witness, it should not be forgotten that he was influenced by the desire to construe the acts and words of the Queen in the manner most favourable to the claim of James I. Elizabeth had always been reluctant to name a successor, and even when she was dying this reluctance was as strong as ever. A recent historian gives good reason for doubting whether she so explicitly nominated James as Carey asserts:
'On her dying day her Council ventured a first and last despairing effort to obtain from her such assent to their negotiations as would place James's title beyond cavil; and although representations have been made that the effort was successful, there is little valid ground for crediting the Queen, even in her last hours, with any modification of her resolve to leave the subject of the succession severely alone.
The French ambassador is solely responsible for the statement that she at an earlier period admitted by word of mouth that "the King of Scotland would hereafter become King of Great Britain." More trustworthy witnesses
merely depose that on two occasions in her latest weeks, when the comments of others in her presence compelled her to break silence, she took refuge in oracular utterances which owe all their significance to the interpretation that their hearers deemed it politic to place on them.
'Before leaving London she is said to have told the Earl of Nottingham that "her throne had always been the throne of kings, and none but her next heir of blood and descent should succeed her." "Her next heir of blood and descent" was, in the eyes of the law, Lord Beauchamp. The vague phrases attest her settled policy of evasion. According to Sir Robert Carey, on the Wednesday afternoon before her death," she made for her Council to be called, and by putting her hand to her head when the King of Scotland was named to succeed her, they all knew he was the man she desired should reign after her." Throughout her illness her hand had passed restlessly to and from her head, and a definite meaning could only attach to the sign in the sight of those who, like the reporter, were already pledged to seat James VI. in her place. Lady Southwell gives a more disinterested account of this episode of the Wednesday afternoon. The Council were not invited to the royal presence, as Carey avers. They demanded admittance "to know whom" the dying Queen "would have for King." She could barely speak, but made what preparation her waning strength permitted for the interview. The Councillors desired her to lift her finger when they named whom she approved. They mentioned the King of France; shẹ
did not stir. They spoke of the King of Scotland; she made no sign. They named Lord Beauchamp, the rightful heir under Henry VIII.'s unrepealed settlement. Then only did Elizabeth rouse herself, and with something of her old vivacity she gasped, "I will have no rascal's son to sit in my seat, but one worthy to be a king." These are the only unquestioned words which afford any clue to the Queen's wishes respecting her successor. At the best they are negative, and cannot be tortured into a formal acceptance of James.'1
After Carey's account of how he brought the good news to Edinburgh follow three narratives describing the progress of James from Edinburgh to London, and his reception by his new subjects. All three are reprinted and copiously annotated by John Nichols in his Progresses of King James I. (vol. i. pp. 53, 135, 408). Very little is known of their authors. T. M., the author of the true narration, was probably an inhabitant of Berwick, from the particularity with which he describes incidents which happened there. John Savile, author of King James his Entertainment at Theobald's, is mentioned by Anthony Wood in his Athena, but merely as 'a pretender to poetry,' patronised by the young spark to whom the 'Entertainment is dedicated.' Of Gilbert Dugdale, the author of Time Triumphant, nothing at all is known. Perhaps, as Nichols suggests, he was the 'old man of the age of three score and nineteen,' who had seen the changes of four Kings and Queens, and had prepared a political address to his new sovereign, which he printed in spite of the fact that it was never delivered.
The unfeigned rejoicing by which the accession of James was hailed was due to the relief of the nation at 1 Mr. Sidney Lee. Cornhill Magazine, 1897, vol. lxxv. p. 302.
the peaceful settlement of a much disputed question, which might have caused a destructive civil war. The union of the two crowns of England and Scotland added to the public satisfaction. James himself by his affability and graciousness increased the popularity which he originally owed to circumstances. T. M., who was possibly a soldier, relates with great approbation, that the King, to show his respect to 'the art military,' fired a shot out of a cannon, and did it 'with such sign of experience that the most expert gunner there beheld it not without admiration.' He applauds with equal fervour the King's 'merry and well-seasoned jests,' adding that all his words were 'of full weight, and his jests filled with the salt of wit,' and that they were 'no less gracious' than 'facetious and pleasant.' One characteristic of the new sovereign he notes which other observers do not. 'This is one especial note in his Majesty. Any man that hath aught with him, let him be sure he have a just cause, for he beholds all men's faces with stedfastness.'
To cultivate popularity with his people, James overcame for a time the dislike to crowds, which was one of his characteristics. The Duke in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, who expresses a similar distaste, has been supposed to represent the King in this
""I love the people,"
But do not like to stage me to their eyes;
(Act I. sc. i. l. 68.)
At first, however, James affected this applause. A coach was offered him when he entered York in order to convey
him to the Minster. But he graciously answered, 'I will have no coach. For the people are desirous to see a king, and so they shall; for they shall as well see his body as his face.' Accordingly, 'to the great comfort of the people, he went on foot to the Cathedral.'
So far T. M., but Dugdale sounds a different note. By the time he reached London James was weary of crowds, and so the last of these three pamphleteers seizes the opportunity afforded by the King's visit to the Royal Exchange to rebuke the irreverent multitude for not respecting their monarch's desire to be private. 'You will say, perchance,' concludes Dugdale, "It was your love." Will you, in love, press upon your sovereign thereby to offend him? Your sovereign may, perchance, mistake your love, and punish it as an offence.'
Once again we are reminded of Measure for Measure. 'Even so,' says Angelo,
'The general, subject to a well-wish'd king,
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
(Act II. sc. iv. 1. 28.)
Twenty years later James was no longer inconvenienced by the love of his subjects, and for him popular applause had become a thing of the past.
Under his son the popularity of the House of Stuart revived for a moment, then sank lower than ever. In 1660 came a reaction, and the English nation, weary of civil strife and of new experiments in government, welcomed the restoration of monarchy with the same universal and extravagant joy with which it had hailed the union of the three kingdoms and the accession of James I.