« PreviousContinue »
PASSIVE OBEDIENCE THE FIRST DUTY.
With great wealth of illustration, and a vast amplitude of quotations of texts, citations, and authorities, the erudite and courtly divine clearly established, for the gratification of his pedantic royal master and the edification of the Scotch presbyters, that "kings and emperors, as they have their calling from God, so they admit no superior on earth but God, to whom only they must make account.” He warned his hearers, also, that God is more quick to revenge the wrongs and treasons committed against his Lieutenants and Viceroys, than the greatest sins against himself, and impressed upon them that the supreme duty of all subjects was to render passive obedience to royal authority. be a good prince, causa est, He is the cause of thy good, temporal and eternal ; if an evil Prince, occasio est, He is an occasion of thy eternal good, by thy temporal evil. Si bonus, nutritor est tuus; si malus tentator tuus est,” and so on, through an interminable mass of quotations, until the sermon is almost as much in Latin as in English.
“If he be a good king he is thy nurse; receive thy nourishment with obedience; if he be an evil prince he is thy tempter, receive thy trial with patience; so there's no resistance; either thou must obey good princes willingly, or endure evill tyrants patiently." The learned thologian went
The process of this conscience is by way of syllogism; the proposition is framed by the synderesis of the soule,” and
It must have been indeed a trial to listen with patience to such intolerable rubbish!
This, however, was precisely the sort of thing in which the King delighted, and we are not surprised to find that it was shortly after published by royal command, with copious marginal notes, references, and elucidations.
This course (that of sending for the Presbyterian ministers to be preached and prated at) "the King took," observes Spotswood, “as conceiving that some of the ministers should be moved by power of reason to quit their opinions and give place to the truth ; but,” as he justly adds, "that seldom happeneth when the mind is prepossessed with prejudice either against person or matter. And in effect they returned to Scotland of the same opinion still, no good end having been served by their visit.”
Another idea concerning the functions of the kingly office
with which James I. was strongly imbued, was the one that it was essential to his royal dignity to maintain the noble sport of stag-hunting; and even to revive something of the stringency of the earlier game laws, which made indulgence in any field sports the exclusive privilege of the crown and the aristocracy. That James was really a genuine sportsman, or that he was adapted in physical constitution to the endurance of the dangers or the fatigues of the chase, we need not at all suppose. Still, he was sufficiently keen to be “earnest, without any intermission or respect of weather, be it hot or cold, dry or moist, to go to hunting or hawking.” And to this sport he thought everything should give way. Once, when Lord Salisbury came to him, and, in the name of his Council, implored his Majesty on his knees to postpone a hunting party for a few days, until some important matters of business were disposed of, he fell into a great passion, crying out: “You will be the death of me, you had better send me back again to Scotland.” Conduct of this sort did not add to his personal popularity, nor to that of his royal sports, and the writer of an anonymous letter threatened him that unless he thought more of the good government of his people instead of " for ever running after wild animals,” his hounds would all be poisoned. But he paid no heed whatever to any remonstrances. On the contrary, he showed excessive annoyance, and frequently expressed great anger and vexation at the slight regard his subjects often seemed to him to have for his sylvan pleasures, and their want of due consideration for his exclusive prerogative in game.
His feelings at last found vent in a “Proclamation against Hunters, Stealers and Killers of Deare, within any of the King's Majesties Forests, Chases or Parks," which was "Given at our Honour of Hampton Court, the 9th day of September Año. Dmi. 1609.” Its quaint phraseology is curiously illustrative of the diffusive and conversational style in which State documents of those times were often worded. "We had hoped,” begins his Majesty in a highly offended and reproachful tone,“ seeing it is notorious to all our subjects how greatly we delight in the exercise of Hunting, as well for our Recreation, as for the necessary preservation of our health, that no man, in whom was either reverence to our person, or fear of PROCLAMATION AGAINST VULGAR SPORTSMEN. 187
our Lawes, would have offered us offence in these our sports; considering especially," continues the royal pedant, who evidently drafted the document himself, in his lecturing way, “that the nature of all people is not onely in things of this qualitie but in matters of greater moment so far to conform themselves to the affection and disposition of their Sovereign, as to affect that which they know to be liking to them and to respect it, and to avoyd the contrary: and we must acknowledge that we have found the gentlemen and persons of the better sort (who know best what becometh their duetie) have restrained their owne humours, and formed themselves therein to give us contentment: yet falleth it out, notwithstanding, that neither the example of them, nor respect of the Lawes, nor duety to us, hath had power to reforme the corrupt natures and insolent dispositions of some of the baser sort, and some other of a disordered life.”
The scolding, domineering tone of this proclamation-so different from that in which Queen Elizabeth would have spoken, in similar circumstances—shows how little King James understood the English character; while the touch of contempt for the poorer classes betrayed in the contrast drawn between the conduct of “gentlemen and persons of the better sort,” and that of “the baser sort,” is an instance of a want of sympathy with the mass of the people which goes far to account for his unpopularity.
After commenting further on, for some paragraphs, with mingled sorrowful reproach and indignant rebuke on such "trespassing against reason," "insolent humour," and "barbarous uncivil disposition,” he proceeds to threaten that unless there is some amendment in his subjects' conduct, he will have to put into force the ancient forest laws in all their pristine stringency.
Another great cause of annoyance to King James in regard to his hunting, was the great number of people, who not only flocked to the royal meets to see the fun and stare at his Majesty, but who sometimes even ventured, without special permission, to join the sport and follow the hounds. This the King thought most highly reprehensible on the part of the populace; and once, at the beginning of his reign, when his loyal subjects crowded from all sides to catch a sight of their new sovereign, he fell into so violent a passion that he cursed everyone he met, and swore that if they would not let him follow the chase at his pleasure he would leave England. He subsequently issued another proclamation in special reprobation of this practice :
“Forasmuch as we have often, since our first coming into England, expressed our high displeasure and offence at the bold and barbarous insolency of multitudes of vulgar people, who, pressing upon us in our sports as we are hunting, do ride over our dogs, brake their backs, spoil our game, run over and destroy the corn, and not without great annoyance and sometimes peril both of our own person and to our dearest son the prince, by their heedless riding and galoping" ..."our will and pleasure is” that they should be presently apprehended and conveyed to the nearest gaol, there to remain during the royal pleasure.
We cannot wonder after all this that James's selfish sporting proclivities should have given rise to much discontent. Osborne complains that “ one man might with more safety have killed another, than a rascal-dear; but if a stag had been known to have miscarried, and the authour fled, a proclamation, with a description of the party, had been presently penned by the Attorney-General, and the penalty of his Majesty's high displeasure (by which was understood the Star Chamber) threatened against all that did abet, comfort or relieve him—so tragical was this sylvan prince against dear-killers and indulgent to man-slayers."
Weldon, also, another satirist of James and his Court, declared “that the King loved beasts better than men, and took more delight in them, and was more tender over the life of a stag than of a man.
In spite, however, of his keenness for hunting, there was not much of the true sportsman about him, for he would perpetrate acts so unsportsmanlike, according to our modern notions, as to go into his park and take pot-shots from behind a tree at the tame deer as they browsed in the shade; while his most desperate runs were usually confined within the fences of inclosed parks or woods.
“ The hunt,” says the author of the Travels of John Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, who came to England in 1613, and who was entertained by the King with a great hunt, and whose visit to Hampton Court we will notice