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Letters

Archaeological & Historical

KING JAMES I AND THE ISLE OF

WIGHT, A.D. 1603-1624.

A WRITER in the Saturday Review, June 2, 1888, in his comments on Mr. Long's edition of the Oglander Memoirs, says that Sir John Oglander's 'description of the habits of James I, though it tells us nothing new, is worth reading as the work of a contemporary. They who have read Sir Walter Scott's Fortunes of Nigel can never forget the admirable picture which the great novelist has set before them of the English monarch whom Sully, the trusted counsellor of Henry IV of France, called “The wisest fool in Christendom.' We see in the pages of Scott's novel the big head, rickety legs, goggle eyes, and slobbering tongue of the ungainly son of the beautiful Mary Queen of Scots, dressed up in his quilted clothes. With all an artist's skill Sir Walter sets before us the King's gabble and rhodomontade, want of personal dignity, vulgar buffoonery, coarseness, pedantry, and contemptible cowardice. At the same time he does not let us forget that under this ridiculous exterior lay a man of much natural ability, a fair scholar, a learned theologian, with considerable shrewdness, mother wit, and ready repartee. (See Green's History of the English People, p. 464.)

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Such is the picture of James the First of England and Sixth of Scotland which will be handed down to future ages in the gallery of English sovereigns. Mr. Isaac D’Israeli, the father of Lord Beaconsfield, made a gallant attempt to rescue the memory of James from the opprobrium which had been cast upon it in the Secret Memoirs of his Court by the King's contemporaries, Osborne, Weldon, and others, but he failed to reverse the general judgement. A man's amusements afford a very fair test of his character. James's amusements, as recorded by Stow in his Chronicle, were of a coarse and cruel kind; cock-fighting, baiting bulls, bears, and other wild beasts in the Tower, along with the more ordinary field sports, occupied his time to the utter neglect of public affairs, which his Ministers managed almost at their own pleasure. Yet he was by principle averse to bloodshed, and habitually merciful to offenders. He was a patron of learning, and promoted that version of the Holy Scriptures which in point of style and diction still remains unrivalled.

The pedant king, as Mr. Maurice has observed (Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, vol. iv. pp. 205-212), helps us to understand the age in which he lived—the first half of the seventeenth century. Little as James was, he was not an insignificant man. His mind was as a mirror, in which we might see much of what was passing in the most thoughtsul men of other countries as well as our own. He began with Calvinism and ended with Arminianism, or if not an Arminian fully prepared to separate the Calvinistic discipline from the Calvinistic doctrine; for if the first seemed most inconveniently to incontestably curtail the rights of sovereigns, the second appeared to assert a Sovereign Will as the ground of the universe, and might therefore appear to James the best justification and pattern of an arbitrary earthly monarchy. In the same way, though from quite different motives, some of the leading Christian thinkers of that age rejected the more repulsive tenets of Calvin, which had so powerfully influenced the early Protestant Reformers in England. In the memorable General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, James was a zealous Presbyterian, and pronounced a eulogy on the Church of Scotland, which was anything but complimentary to the sister churches. He praised God that he

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