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writer, or as speaker) Sir Robert Cotton impressed on his Booki, fellow-members in that memorable sitting at Oxford. Both Lot 0"' the pith and the sting of the Speech may be found in its concluding words : 'His Majesty hath . . . wise, religious, and worthy servants. ... In loyal duty, we offer our humble desires that he would be pleased to advise with them together; . . . not with young and single counsel! Well would it have been for Charles, had he taken those simple words to heart, in good time.
To us, and now, there is a special interest in an incidental passage of this speech which relates to Somerset. The reader has seen how Count Gondomar's secret testimony—just disinterred from Simancas—against Somerset, as well as against Cotton, has recently been dealt with by an eminent historian. It is worth our while to remember (See, also,
• i l* heretofore,
some other words on that subject spoken publicly in the *epf<^t")note Parliament at Oxford almost two centuries and a half agone. They were spoken in the ears of men whose eyes had looked with keen scrutiny into the Spanish envoy as well as into the English minister. Somerset was still living. Men who then sat in the Parliament Chamber knew every incident in his official life, and not a few incidents in his private life, as well as every charge by which—publicly or privately—he had been infamed. They knew, exactly, Sir Robert Cotton's position towards the fallen minister. If we choose to suppose that Eliot was now speaking what Cotton wrote, the inference is unchanged. To those listeners Sir John and Sir Robert were known to be politically 'double and inseparable.'
The facts being so, what is the course taken by the Cotton's speaker when he finds occasion to remind the House of Loed things that happened when 'My Lord of Somerset stood ,0"**TM'" in state of grace, and had the trust of the Signet Seal?' ^"'t'
Book i, Does he take a line of apology and use words of extenuun ot ation? Not a whit. In the presence of some of the wisest corfoT" ant* ao'est of English statesmen, he eulogises Somerset as an honest and unselfish minister of the Crown. He asserts, that the Earl had discovered 'the double dealings' of Spanish emissaries, and the dangers of the Spanish alliance; and had made some progress in dissuading even King James from putting faith in Spaniards. Then, winding up this episode, in order to pass to the topic of the hour, Cotton says: * Thus stood the effect of Somerset's power with His Majesty, when the clouds of his misfortune fell upon him. AVhat future advisers led to we may well remember. The marriage with Spain was renewed; Gondomar declared an honest man; Popery heartened; His Majesty's forces in the Palatinate withdrawn; His Highness's children stripped of their patrimony; our old and fast allies disheartened; and the King our now master Ms.lansd * exposed to so great a peril as no wise and faithful counsel 49i.roi.iM. wouid ever have advised.'
At Court, speech such as this was deeply resented, instead of being turned to profit. A curious little incident which occurred at the Coronation of Charles in the next winter testifies, characteristically, to the effect which it produced on the minds both of the new King and of his favourite.
At the date of that ceremony, Sir Robert's close political connection with the future Parliamentary chiefs was but in its infancy. His views of public policy were fast ripening, and had borne fruit. His private friendships were more and more shaping themselves into accordance with his tendencies
* There is another MS. of this speech, in Sir John Eliot's hand, in the library at Port Eliot. See Forster's Life of Eliot, "Vol. T, p. 413.
in politics. Amongst those whose intimacy he cultivated— Book I, besides that of Eliot and others who have been mentioned im oi already—were Symonds D'ewes, and John Selden. It cono"" was at Cotton's hospitable table, in Old Palace Yard, that F«i«hds the two men last named first made acquaintance with each other. Both were scholars; both were strongly imbued with the true antiquarian tinge; both had an extensive acquaintance with the black-letter lore of jurisprudence, as well as with the more elegant branches of archaeology; and both, up to a certain point, had common aims in public life; yet they did not draw very near together. Selden's more robust mind, and his wider sympathies, shocked some of the puritanic nicenesses of D'ewes. Precisely the same remark would hold good of the relations between Cotton and D'ewes. But a certain geniality of manners in Sir Robert, combined with his grandee-like openness of hand and mind, attracted his fellow-baronet in a degree Avhich went some way towards vanquishing D'ewes' most ingrained scruples. 'I had much more familiarity with Sir Robert Cotton, than with Master Selden,' jots down Sir Symonds in his Autobiographic Diary, and then he Hl adds: 'Selden being a man exceedingly puffed up with the apprehension of his own abilities.' That last sentence,— as the reader, perhaps, will agree with me in thinking,— may possibly tell a more veracious tale of the writer, than of the man whom it reproves.
Be that as it may, the dining-room in Old Palace Yard witnessed frequent meetings of many groups of visitors of whose tabletalk it would be delightful could we find as good a record as we have of the tabletalk in Bolt Court, or at Streatham Park; or even as we have of almost contemporary talk around the board at Hawthornden. Glorious old Ben himself was a frequent guest at Sir Robert Cotton's
Book i, table. Until late in James' reign, Camden, when his L^fkov growing infirmities permitted him to journey up from c'0Hrfo°NBI!BT Chislehurst, would still be seen there, now and again. During the rare sessions of Parliament, many a famous member, as he left the House of Commons, would join the circle. And the high discourse about Greeks and Romans, about poetry and archaeology, would be pleasantly varied, by the newest themes of politics, by occasional threnodies on the exorbitant power of court minions, but also by occasional and glowing anticipations of a better time to come.
At one of these festive meetings, occurring not long before the Coronation of Charles The First, the talk seems to have turned on the coming solemnity. The plague Cotton Ahd at this time was still in London, though it was fast abating.
THK COBO- . , _°
NATION Of That circumstance was to abridge the ceremonies, in order Chakles I. ^Q permj|. jne Qourt t0 ieave Westminster more quickly;
but it was known that great attention had been given by the King, personally, when framing the programme, to the strict observance of ancient forms. D'ewes was one of Sir Robert's guests. Like his host, he had a great love for sight-seeing on public occasions. And they would both anticipate a special pleasure in witnessing the revival of certain coronation observances which had been pretermitted during two centuries. In regard to the coronation oath Cotton had been consulted, and he expected to be present, carrying in his hand his own famous copy of the Gospels known as the 'Evangeliary of King Ethelstan.' It was also expected that the Watergate of Cotton House would be the King's landing-place, and that he would cross the garden in order that he might enter the Palace more conveniently than he could from its usual stairs, then under repair, or in need of it. Sir Robert invited D'ewes, with other of his guests—not privileged to claim places in West- Book I, minster Abbey on the great occasion—that at least they Lire might see their new sovereign, as he passed to take his C'ottoh"" crown.
When the morning came D'ewes was early in his visit, but he found Cotton House already filled with ladies. The Earl Marshal had decorated the stairs to the river and the Watergate very handsomely. Sir Robert had done his part by decorating his windows, and his garden, more handsomely still. But to the chagrin alike of the fair spectators and of their host, as they were standing, in all their bravery, from Watergate to housedoor, to do respectful obeisance, the royal barge, by the King's own commandment—given at the moment, but pre-arranged by BuckIngham—was urged onward. To our amazement, writes Sir Symonds, 'we saw the King's barge pass to the ordinary stairs, belonging to the backyard of the Palace, where the landing was dirty . . and the incommodity was increased by the royal barge dashing into the ground and D,EweiJ. sticking fast, before it touched the causeway.' His Ma- in HarL MS ■
° * 648, as before.
jesty, followed by the Favourite, had to leap across the mud,—certainly an unusual incident in a coronation show.
When Cotton—-swallowing the mortification which he must have felt, on behalf of his bevy of fair visitors, if not on his own—presently showed himself in the Abbey, bearing the Evangeliary, he and it were contemptuously thrust aside.
As a straw tells the turn of the wind, this trivial incident points to a policy. The insults both within the Abbey and without, had been planned, by the King and Duke, in order to mark the royal indignation at the close fellowship of Cotton with Eliot and the other Parliamentary leaders. That the insults might be the more