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But as no government is wholly free from defects, and the longer it continues gives the more room for conjecturing that a change may produce an improvement, many persons rejoiced that England was again to be governed by a King, in the prime of life, (he was then thirty-six years of age,) and who had been trained, by the experience of various fortunes, better than most Princes for the cares of government. To this it may be added that each party saw in the future, which was yet uncertain, only its own advantage, and fancied itself sure of the special favour of the new King. Thus the Roman Catholics hoped for milder treatment, and the Puritans for the introduction into England of their doctrines which James had hitherto professed; lastly, the adherents of the Episcopal system relied on the circumstance that their religious principles agreed with the political principles of the new King.
As soon as the King had made all the necessary arrangements in Scotland, he set out from Edinburgh for London, was everywhere received with honours and rejoicings, and on the 25th of July, 1603, being St. James's day, was crowned in a manner which differed but little from the Catholic mode. It may be conceived, says the French ambassador Beaumont, writing to Henry IV., “that disturbances may have been prevented on this change of sovereigns by the strict obedience which the late Queen
so prudently established and maintained among her subjects, by the example of her justice and moderation, and the peace of nearly forty-four years' duration; by the decay of the impoverished and depressed nobility, by the wealth of the people who are afraid of loss, and, lastly, by the weakness and disunion of the Catholics.” When King Henry IV. said, “I wonder that my brother has acquired three kingdoms with so little trouble, while one embarrassed me so much;” the English ambassador answered, “that James wondered still more how Henry had been able to manage three women, Margaret, Gabrielle, and Mary.” This tranquillity and satisfaction in England were, however, of very short duration, for only six weeks after the death of Queen Elizabeth, the same ambassador Beaumont, writes, “the discontent increases daily, from various reasons, and spreads among all classes of the people.” In particular, the King shews so much predilection for the Scotch, that the latter endeavour, through ambition, and still more through selfishness, to profit by the influence which they have accidentally obtained over the English. The Scotch, say several writers, devour the kingdom like locusts. Nothing is unasked by them, and nothing is denied them; the setting up these golden calves costs more than all the wars of Queen Elizabeth.() “The jealousy of the English towards the Scotch,” says Beaumont, “increases, and becomes so vehement that some flame may burst forth in consequence; for the latter are hungry, covetous, and impatient; they profit by the King's favour as long as it is at their command, and endeavour to fix themselves in all public offices. The English, on the other hand, are as averse to endure anything detrimental to themselves, as they are, in general, not much pleased with the King, and openly declare that they were deceived respecting his reputation and the opinion they were led to conceive of him. One person even let drop an expression, “that they must have Scotch Vespers, like the Sicilian.” Notwithstanding this discontent, a renewed attempt of Cobham and Raleigh, to place Arabella Stuart on the throne, or to restrict the King's power by new legislative measures, failed.”(*) So long as so many differences continued between England and Scotland, the union of the two crowns on one head, and the adoption of the title of King of Great Britain, could add but little to the happiness and power of the people; and James, therefore, conceived the plan of a complete union of both countries into one kingdom.(*) Most persons, however, thought that the hereditary right of James, which was almost accidental, was of little consequence in comparison with the continued differences of manners and customs, of the religious ideas, and the national peculiarities, of the two countries.
Both the English and the Scotch required and feared too much; each party considered its own institutions as alone important and acceptable, and regarded the certain loss as greater than the possible gain. For these reasons, the comprehensive plan for an entire union was rejected by the Parliaments, and only the concessions, in some minor points, relative to trade, to importation and exportation, to the administration of justice, &c., were adopted on the 11th of August, 1607. Many years had to elapse, many prejudices and passions were to be dispelled before the Scotch and English looked upon themselves as members of one great whole. “Instead of an energetic King,” said many, “we have got only a weak Queen, and Great Britain has become less than England was.” In his external appearance and behaviour, James I. had nothing dignified or kingly. He had none of the beauty and engaging manners of Mary, and his rough northern pronunciation was the more disagreeable, because his tongue was too thick for his mouth. This defect likewise hindered him from drinking with decorum. His gait was naturally, or through habit, awkward and slovenly; and whereas Elizabeth believed that magnificence, even of dress, ought to correspond with the royal dignity, James despised all external appearance to such a degree, that he constantly had his clothes made after the same fashion, and did not leave them off till they were worn to rags. In matters relative to art and science, he was in general deficient in judgment and taste, and his learning almost always shewed itself in an ill-timed and pedantic manner. Flatterers called him the Solomon of his age, while others more acutely and more justly observed, that his mind was a repository for worthless trifles, and that he was the wisest fool in Christendom. Sir Francis Bacon, indeed, said, he possessed the three things which were ascribed in antiquity to the highly honoured Hermes, the power and good fortune of a King, the knowledge and judgment of a priest, and the learning of a philosopher. But in truth, he never had the command over himself; acquired nothing of the priest but the spirit and art of controversy of those times; and, in learning, was chiefly attached to what was partial, exaggerated, and useless. His love of peace was chiefly founded upon fear, and the mildness which returned after sudden anger was the result of phlegmatic indolence. With excessive pretensions for the royal dignity, he bore even improprieties, and in his jokes was dull and vulgar. Under the appearance of sincerity he often sought to deceive, and, as usually happens, was more frequently led and deceived by hypocrites. True merit seldom acquired any influence over him,