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and his apparent generosity led first to childish, unworthy profusion, and then to base means to
To the female sex he was not merely indifferent but even rude, while he was treated in a similar manner by his favorites. His passion for hunting and drinking was not accompanied with adventurous courage and love of intellectual conversation, but often deprived him of time and inclination to attend to the most necessary business.
James's works, on Miscellaneous Subjects, shew more knowledge than judgment, and more fondness for writing than knowledge. The explanation of the Revelation of St. John is chiefly directed against the Pope and the Catholics. In Demonology, he endeavours to prove the possibility and reality of necromancy; and, consequently, the existence of witches, hobgoblins, evil spirits, compacts with the devil, &c. He likewise seriously enquires, why the devil has more to do with old women than with other persons.
We might readily pardon all these fancies, if he had not acted upon them, and caused a great number of pretended witches and magicians to be executed.(*)
In his work on the Rights of Free Monarchies, he requires, on the one hand, that every King shall, like a good father, govern with wisdom and mildness; but on the other hand, he rejects all the means of public law by which such wisdom and
mildness may be produced, or the opposite qualities purified and restrained. James justly connects the doctrine of sovereignty theoretically with a higher source and a sacred delegation, for when it is once sacrificed to the mere pleasure of every individual and every moment, security, consistency, and obedience vanish. But he erroneously places Kings alone under the immediate protection of God, whereas every creature is in His hand, and is entitled to a peculiar mode of existence and development. Hence the subject, as well as the King, has his own inviolable rights; and when, on the one hand, omnipotence and infallibility are claimed for the King, on the other, there arises through a natural opposition, the equally dangerous doctrine, that the voice of God is always heard in the opinions of the
James affirmed that every form, every right, had no foundation but his pleasure, and that the whole body of public law was valid only so long as he did not abolish it. According to him, all securities for the existing state of things referred only to the King's person, whence the opposite notion was gradually produced, which, erroneously setting aside all personaland affectionate community between rulers and subjects, placed its whole dependence on forms. Elizabeth, notwithstanding her decided personal superiority, spoke only of the affection and loyal sentiments of her people; James, on the contrary, talked of fear, obedience, submission, and affirmed
that it was sedition to dispute what a King might or might not do in the height of his power.
Sometimes, it is true, he added he did not wish to act contrary to law and reason, but he pretended to be the sole judge of what was legal and reasonable. Whatever opinions may be entertained of these theories, James certainly misunderstood the situation of Great Britain, and his own position, when he took other Kings and kingdoms as models, and said to the French Ambassador, that he and Henry IV. were absolute in their kingdoms, and by no means depended on the counsels or concessions of their subjects. James not only obstinately maintained these principles and notions against his ministers, but allowed his consort Queen Anne, sister of Christian IV., King of Denmark, scarcely any influence; her inclination to meddle in public affairs was not supported by any intellectual superiority, for which reason she could not but consider it as fortunate, when amidst her differences with her husband, he chose his favorites with regard to her wishes, and gave her money for her immediate expenses.
Henry, Prince of Wales, who appeared to have talents, and likewise professed despotic principles of government, did not thereby acquire his father's favour, as might have been expected; on the contrary, he feared and suspected him, and lamented his death less than the people in general, who expected better times under the Prince.
Among James's Ministers was Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, who was indeed inferior to his father Burghley in comprehensiveness of understanding and energy of character, but far superior to all his competitors and rivals in activity, eloquence, knowledge of affairs, and political perspicacity. He was reproached for his former enmity to the Earl of Essex, and for a too great love of money. But Essex prepared the way for his own ruin, and self-interest never led the Earl of Salisbury astray as it did his great contemporary Sir Francis Bacon.
It was undoubtedly very difficult under a King who, like James, required implicit obedience and even flattery, to retain any influence, without too much compliance; if therefore Cecil is not to be placed in the number of exalted and heroic characters, he is at least to be reckoned among the most useful statesmen. It is certain that after his death in 1612, the public business was conducted worse than before, and the strict performance of duty, and integrity which prevailed under the reign of Elizabeth, disappeared more and more among persons in office.
Even Francis Bacon, a man of the highest intellectual powers, was convicted of having, contrary to all laws, taken money from parties in suits at law. Those who would excuse him
that bad management, and giving way to his servants, had led him to his ruin, and that he had probably
never passed an entirely unjust sentence, for the sake of money; he however confessed that he had suffered himself to be bribed, and declined alleging anything in his defence.(5) He accordingly lost his office, was declared incapable of holding any place, was fined £40,000, and condemned to imprisonment for an indefinite time. The King remitted the fine and imprisonment, but Bacon's honour was lost; mean flattery did not regain him any influence, and the contrast between his mind, so richly endowed by nature, and his cowardly unworthy character, must, on serious self-examination, have appeared greater and more condemnable to himself, than to those who judged of him in the sequel, and who, for his other merits, were willing to overlook or to 'excuse his moral deficiencies.
No such palliations can be alleged in favour of the King's favorites; thus Robert Carr, for instance, had no recommendations but a fine person and pleasing but superficial talents; while he was destitute of solid judgment, and his character merited the severest reproaches. Yet James created him Earl of Somerset, allowed him, after the death of the Earl of Salisbury, the greatest influence in public affairs, and on his marriage with the dissolute, divorced Countess of Essex, presented him, according to one account, with estates worth one million. At the wedding, the Countess wore a coronet which