Two Gentle Men: The Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick

By Marchette Chute | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER NINE

KING JAMES DIED IN A MONTH OF EVIL WEATHER -- SNOW AND rain and hail and high winds -- and if the new king had been a superstitious man he might have taken it as a portent. But Charles ascended the throne placidly and told John Williams, his reluctant Lord Keeper, to summon a new Parliament. He needed money for his army and navy, and since Parliament had voted for war they would surely vote the money too.

Again there was a battle for seats. Sir Henry Wotton, who was a friend of Herbert's, tried to get elected for Canterbury and "spent almost fifty pound in good drink upon his followers," only to be defeated by one Captain Fisher. But he successfully ran for Sandwich, and in general it was the same men who served in James' last Parliament who returned to serve in the first of Charles'. Among them was George Herbert, who again represented the town of Montgomery.

George Herbert's second Parliament, like his first, had a delayed opening, this time caused by the coming of the plague. Parliament was scheduled to meet in the middle of May, 1625, but there was so much sickness in London that it was a question whether it was safe to meet there at all. But Charles could not wait indefinitely, and on the eighteenth of June he told his assembled Lords and Commons that he needed money to carry on the war they had recommended. Unlike his father, Charles was no orator and left most of the speechmaking to Williams, but his intent was clear enough.

The intention of the House of Commons was equally clear: no reforms, no money. They had grown to power under a tactful Elizabeth and a lazy James, and the lawyers and country gentlemen who made up the bulk of the House had a potential strength

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