|Chapter Number||Vol III VIII|
|Chapter Title||FALL OF LORD CHANCELLOR BACON.|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||Her Majesty's Tower|
Her Majesty's Tower.
FALL OF LORD CHANCELLOR BACON.
BY WILLIAM HEPWORTH DIXON.
BACON'S cure for all disorders in the state was free discussion, and those disorders in the state were now grown high. The Treasury was empty. "Not a mark in the coffers," sighed Mandeville.
" Then be of good cheer," laughed Bacon, " for you shall see the bottom of your business at the first" But, while the Chancellor put a face on things, he Baw, on every side, much need for calling up the nation into council. James was at his final card. The ports had been taxed; the peers had paid their fines ; the clergy had sent in their tenths ; and even the courtiers had been squeezed. No one pretended that the realm was poor; the towns were growing larger, and the shires were growing richer, day by day; yet in the midst of all such signs of growth, the crown was sinking into poverty and weakness every year. Could nothing be attempted for the King's relief ? • " A Parliament," said Bacon, " was the cure ; a free parliament, in which the King and people should assist each other to conduct the govern* ment, improve the laws, and purify the faith." He drew a scheme of policy, on which to recon cile the country and the crown ; a scheme for mending much that was amiss at home, and strengthening our alliance and defence abroad. He asked the King to send out writs at once ; to lend an ear to all complaint*; to put down unjust patents and monopolies; and to add some squadrons to the royal fleet. The plotters were in ecstasies of joy; for Bacon's liberal policy might be turned against himself; and when their plans were settled they rode down into the shires to seek for seats. Coke found a seat at Liskeard, Cranfield at Andover, Ley at Canterbury. The three men formed an inner circle of the YilUers court Coke and Cranfield were already bound up in the family by marriage; Ley was to be so in the rammer months. Coke had fallen to the Parent, Cranfield to the Aunt That terrible woman, with her fixed belief in marriage, kept about her a supply of penniless brides, and when she heard of any rich man, without a wife, who wished to get a place, a peerage, a command, she tent for him and told him plainly how he might succeed. Sir Lionel Cranfield, once a clerk in the customs, then a broker in the city, afterwards a Master of Requests, a Master of the Wardrobe, and a Blaster of the Wards and liveries, had enriched himself by a lucky marriage and a series of sus picious jobs. He had robbed the customs ; he had bribed Northampton; he had shown the King how to squander public lands ; he had be trayed his patrons ; he had denounced the Lord Treasurer Suffolk ; he had placed the White Staff in Villiers' hands for sale ; and his reward for all these villanies was a string of offices, com missions, manors, grants, and fees. His first wife died. He then cast eyes on Lady Effing ham, a widow, and that lady had received his vowb before it struck the Parent that Sir Lionel was the man for one of her nieces—coarse, fat, penniless Ann Brett She Hent for Cranfield to her house, and bade him ponder what he had been, what he was. Hor breath could make and mar him ; he must come into her circle; he must jilt his love and wed her niece Ann Brett Ann had no money; but in place of money Bhe had friends. These friends could either raise him up or pull him down. Poor Cranfield writhed, and asked for terms; a seat in the Privy Council, an important post, the coronet of an earl. All these the Aunt could promise him—in time—and then Sir Lionel took the penniless niece to wife. Ley's case was Cranfield'B case, with still worse features. Ley was an Attorney of the Court of Wards, but he had saved much money, and when EUesmere died he had introduced himself to the Villiers family by an offer of ten thousand pounds for the Seals. From that day they had kept their eyes on Ley. They gave him a baronetcy without a fee. They offered him the hand of Jane Butler, one of their nieces, with the prospect of promotion, and the coronet of an eoffL He was seventy years of age; he had buried two wives ; he had several sons grown up; but &en his wealth was great; he could not live much ioKgcr; and his widow might be left a countess with » fine estate. As yet the wedding was postponed; out Averyone at court considered that Ley and Jane were man and wife. These officers of the crown could count, £ot <a,aly on official men—Sir Thomas Edmonds, Treasurer of the Household; Sir Robert Heath, Solicitor-GLsaeral; Sir John Bennett, Judge of the Prerogative Court; Sir Henry Carew, Comptroller of the Household ; and Sir Qeorge Calvcrt, Secretary of State.-.—but on the votes of certain "popular" members, .w^y were known as Undertakers, from an offer they had pade to " undertake the King's business" in the I^ouaa of Commons. As a party, these men held a middle oounae, and aimed at occupying a position which would give t&em equal influence with the country and the crows.. Thsj used all patriotic cries, while careful never to offend the King. They sought for friends on ey.ery ajide. They loved the breath of popular applause; &ey
* The right of n>publi*king "Her Mujwty'a Tower" hai been purduuod by the proprietor! of Tht (ftuaulaadtr.
loTed Btfll more the place and pay which only kings could give ; and they were glad to buy a chance of ruing in the public service by their votes. Of these obliging members, Digges and Phelips were the chiefs. Sir Dudley Digges and Sir Robert Phelips were both young men of courtly habits. Digges had followed Can- so long as Carr was high in favor, and was following Yilliers now that Vil liers was the morning-star. He was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, and had recently been sent to Moscow on a public mission. Phelips had also tasted of the royal bounty. He was sent to Spain with Digby when the Spanish match was first brought forward; he was then a " friend of Spain," a correspondent of the Jesuits, and in danger of conversion to the Church of Rome. Father Greenwood wrote to him oh religious subjects. Father Blackinan guided his course of reading in the Spanish tongue. The great Chan* cellor bad been kind to Phelips; particularly in the matter of a quarrel with Sir John Stowell; all the evidence in which he had instructed Thomas Meautys, his private Secretary, to sup press. But Phelips nursed a sore with Bacon, who hod caused him loss in yean gone by. Phelips had tried to get from James a grant of Sherborne House and Park ; and he had come so near Biicoess that an official draft was laid before the crown lawyers. Bacon reported that the form was bad in law, and ere the draft could be amended Sherborne Caatle was conferred on Carr. Forgetting Bacon's recent kindness, he was ready to pursue him on this ancient grudge. A young man, not yet known to fame, with sickly face and scowling brow, was seated on the county benches, with ability to serve the crown, beyond this tribe of officers and undertakers, in Sir Thomas Wentwortb, one of those men of glorious gifts who either raise or ruin kingdoms. But his terms were high, and Buckingham could not stoop to buy his aid. For Wentworth wanted more than place—pre-eminence, and power. What he could give in payment was not known. Hit health was bad, his manner stiff, his accent harsh. But, worse than all, hia theories of government were to tragic and unbending as to nil the soul of Villiem with dismay. Thus, Wentworth had to nurse his bile and bide his time. The choice of Speaker lay with James ; that is to say, with Villiers ; and the man put forward by his party was Thomas Richardson, a rich and scurrilous lawyer, whom the Parent afterwards compelled to marry her sister Bess. The parts being duly oast, the comedy began. The cry at the election booths bad been against monopolies and patents, as the Chancellor foresaw; and after the elections Bacon pressed the King to meet his people frankly, with a statement from the throne that these unpopular patents were annulled. But Buckingham would not listen to the sage; for many of his kin, in cluding two of his brothers, Kit and Edward, were concerned, as partners, in the works con ducted under those monopolies; and when Bacon pressed his policy on the Council his advice was rejected by a majority of votes. The House was hardly formed before this question of monopolies arose,and, as the members wished to avoid all risk of conflict with the Crown, they charged the monopolists, not with holding patents which the Crown had every right to grant, but with a gross abuse of power. Two of these patentees were Michell and Mom pessson, and the House was soon upon them. This was not what Ley and Cranfield wanted; for Sir Giles Mompesson was a Ht^man of Villiers, while Kit and Edward were concerned as partners in his trade. But how were they to meet the case ? If Michell and Mompesson were attacked, Sir Edward and Sir Kit would be in danger. They consulted Williams, and they found him ready, as he always was. "Potthumius and Favonius overboard!" he cried. Sir Edward was abroad; Sir Kit must hide himself. One scape goat might suffice. They could but try. As Michell had no backers, Coke went down to the House, and moved, amidst a scene of great excitement, that the scapegoat be com mitted to the Tower. A pack of courtiers yelled approval. "Let him make restitution," called Calvert. " Let him be unfrocked at the bar," shouted Weston. "Let him be fined," cried Digges. " Let him be exempted from the general pardon," added Wentworth. Michell begged to be heard in his defence, but Coke opposed such hearing, and the scapegoat was conducted through the streets on foot, attended by the halberds, to the Tower. Mompeaaon Bat in the House, of which he was a member, while the scapegoat was being hooted through the city. But the town was now on fire, and he was soon aware that he could only save himself by flight. A boat was hired for him, and ere the Commons could arrange the clauses of impeachment he was safe beyond the seas. The House was now as passionate an the streets, and from abuse of patents, to abuse of lawyers who had certified those patents, was an easy task. "Let us begin," said Cranfield, " with the administration of justice ; then go on to trade, and last of all deal with the patents." Cranfield waß Master of the Court of Wards—a oourt in daily conflict with the Court of Chancery—but he was no lawyer, and was not aware that the House of Commons had no right to meddle with the courts. John Wraynham, now a member for Wotton Basset, was a warning of the price at which they could arraign those courts ; but Bacon, when he heard of their re luctance, bade them speak their mind. They wished to probe abuses ? They were helping him to do his work, and he was eager to assist them to tdmyo this end. Without his leave they could not bai/fi gloved a single step. Then Cranfield, fcialy.e^fc, Coke, and Digges brought on their case—a ohs*£e of laxity in receipt cf fees, suggesting bribery and co^ption on the bench. Egerton and Aubrey, suitors ia Mb court, deolared that they had paid in certain fees as bribes. This charge was monstrous, in conceivable ; and all the best reformers in the House rejeoUd jt at once—rejected it for ever. Finch,' Moyle, Baokjriftie, Cavendish, Meautys, May, opposed themselves tp foLia party motion ; Wentworth, Pym, ,Crejnre, Xijttlaton,' St. Jphn, Hampden, stood aloof ; amazed^ no doubt, .to find that Councillors and Secretaries" Bhquld endow the Hoime of Commons with such powers. Impeach a Minjtfar of State j tfo blood was
asked as yet; but who could tell how won the appetite for blood night come ? When Bacon heard what course affairs were taking, he was staggered. Was the reign of law gone bj ? Were life and fame beoome the sport of passing ma< jorities in Parliament? With sad foreboding, Bacon said to James: " Sir, they who strike at your Chancellor will strike at your crown." The Houm were alow to seize this revolutionary power. They had to be assured by reference to the Rolls that former Parliaments had used thia right of superseding courts of law. When Cal* vert, with the full authority of his place as Secretary of State, proposed that Aubrey's charge and Egerton's charge should be delivered to the Lords as facts which had been proved, he was virtually defeated; for the House would only send these charges up " in a relation," but without the prejudice of an opinion of their own. The Yilliers party, now supported by the Howards, were in greater strength in the House of Lords. But still they sought to increase their weight; and when the Chancellor fell sick they ? rsued James Ley to the bench as Lord Chief Justice, and appointed him by commission to preside in the House of Peers. When Bacon saw that they were sure of a majority of votes, he stood aside, and let the storm sweep by. "I am the first," he murmured; " may Ibe the last." Lord Suffolk moved that Lord St Albans should be made to answer at the bar, and Arundel was ene of the committee of Lords who carried this ungracious message to York House. But there were men in the House of Lords to whom the course pursued by Buckingham's party was an insult and a wrong, and who were eager for a chance of stating why they thought it so. That chance now came. On reading the patent for Inns, the Lords sent down to the Tower for Yelverton, who was still a prisoner, to explain the legal forms; and that frank lawyer told them, glancing at Buckingham, that the true cause of his impri sonment was not the error he bad made in the City charter, but the service he had done the State in dealing with that patent Villiera got alarmed at this bold reference to himself; and James came over to the House to screen his pet from blame. But Yelverton, unchecked by royal frowns, turned sharply on the Favorite, orying, in a phrase which was a prelude to the great harangues of Eliot, " If my Lord of Buckingham had read the articles exhibited in this place against Hugh de Spencer, and knew the danger of displacing officers about the King, he would not have pursued me with such bitterness." Prince Charles stood up. "Such words," he said, "were scandalous." Buckingham bade the orator go on, and when his prisoner had dosed his speech the Marquis moved his close confine ment in the Tower. But now a mutinous spirit seized the Lords. The Prince and Marquis spoke in vain. Southampton rose in opposition ; his arguments were backed by Say and Sele; and Buckingham's motion, in effect, was put and lost Next day his Majesty sent word that he was much annoyed with the Peers for suffering anyone in that House to compare him, James the First, with such a king m Edward the Second. As to Buckingham and Hath de Spencer, he left that matter to their lordships' care ; but in so far a* insult touched himself he took the question up, and should proceed to vindicate his right. This threat wai a mistake, as James soon saw ; for he «ii met by a remonstrance from the Peers, and, after some delay, consented to leave the question in their hands. A scene that should have been a warning to the Court occurred. The. notes of Yelverton's offending speech being read, it was suggested that he might be heard in explanation and defence. Lord Arundel, now fawning on the Favorite, objected to a course so favorable to the prisoner. He had spoken ; they had heard him; they wen there to judge. Lord Spencer rose to answer'Arundel. Lord Spencer was astonished that a Howard should proclaim such doctrine as that men might be condemned unheard; since two members of that family—the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Surrey—had peen put to death unheard. "My lords," cried Arundel, stung to the quick, " I do acknowledge that my ancestors have suffered, and it may be for doing the King and country service, at the time, per haps, when the lord's ancestors that spoke lost were keeping sheep." This answer raised a tumult Arundel was told he must withdraw his words; a week was given him for repentance 5 and, on still refusing to beg Lord Spencer'B pardon, he was sent with a file of halberdß to the Tower. Lord Arundel was only liberated on the prayer of the Prince of Wales, who gave his word that due amends should instantly be made to the offended peer. While Arundel was yet a prisoner in the Tower, Bacon was brought to the Lieutenant's house; arrested in violation of the King's most solemn pledge. In yielding his cause and place, he had received the King's assurance that the sentence passed upon him should be nothing but a form ; his honor would be safe, and even his fortune would be James' care. Yet after his submission day by day passed by, and James did nothing to remit the penalty and remove the stain. The courtiers knew what caused delay. It wat York House, and nothing but York House. Sir Edward Sackville wrote to him, "If York House were gone, the town were yours." But Bacon would not buy the town at such a price. "York House," he answered, "is the house wherein my father died, and wherein I first breathed; and there will I yield my last breath, if it please God and tbe King will give me leave." Then Buckingham took him from a sick-bed and sent him to the Tower. He lay in the Lieutenant's house, but only for a single day. " Good, my lord," he wrote to Buckingham ; " procure the warrant for my dis charge. Death, I thank Qod, is so far from being unwelcome to me, as I have called for it (as Christian resolution would permit) any time tbeftp .two months. But to die before the time of his "Majesty's grace, and in this disgraceful place, is even the' won»t that could be." James was touched, and ordera were despatched to Sir Allan Apiley to allow the Lord of St'Albauu lc depart that very night. ' ' But Buckingham had other meanß of tearing York House from Bacon, even after the Tower had failed. He got him sent from London, with an order not to come within a dozen miles. What'use, thexi, a London house,? At first
the great philosopher thought of his banishment as a pawing trial, but, as months flew past and he was still restrained, he listened to Sackville's counsels, sold his lease, and came to reside in his pleasant old lodgings in Coney Court, among the elms and mulberries he had planted in his youth. Williams, having first been sworn of the Privy Council, and appointed Bishop of Lincoln, got the Seals. " I should have known who would be my successor," said the illustrious victim of his arts. But Williams was not satisfied with bis crosier and his Seals, the income of a bishop and the state of a Lord Keeper. He hoped to win and wear a Cardinal's hat, as Wolsey had won and worn a Cardinal's hat. But he was minded to retain his smaller livings; and, as Buckingham could deny him nothing, he was said to be "a perfect diocese in himself—bishop, dean, pre bendary, and panon." Williams laughed at jokes and kept his livings ; in the hope of higher things from Rome, and not yet dreaming of his portion in the Tower. [to be continued.]