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The King's Book - III. The King's Wisdom

The King no sooner read the letter, but after a little pause, and then reading it once again, he delivered his judgment of it in such as sort, as he thought it was not to be contemned, for that the style of it seemed to be more quick and pithy, that is usual to be in any pasquil or libel, the superfluities of idle brains. But the Earl of Salisbury, perceiving the King to apprehend it deeplier than he looked for, knowing his nature, told him, that he thought, by one sentence in it, that it was likely to be written by a fool or madman, reading to him this sentence in it: "For the danger is past, as soon as you have burnt the letter;" which, he said, was likely to be the saying of a fool; for, if the danger was passed, so soon as this letter was burnt, then the warning behooved to be of little avail, when the burning of the letter might make the danger to be eschewed. But the King, on the contrary, considering the former sentence in the letter "That they should receive a terrible blow, this Parliament," and yet should not see who hurt them, joining it to the sentence immediately following, already alleged, did thereupon conjecture, that the danger mentioned should be some sudden danger by blowing up of powder; for no other insurrection, rebellion, or whatsoever other private and desperate attempt could be committed, or attempted in time of Parliament, and the authors thereof unseen, except only if it were by a blowing up of powder, in which might be performed by one base knave in a dark corner.

Whereupon, he was moved to interpret and construe the latter sentence in the letter, alleged by the Earl of Salisbury, against all ordinary sense and construction in grammar, as if by these words, "For the danger is past," etc., should be closely understood the suddenness and quickness of the danger, which should be as quickly performed and at an end, as that paper should be a blazing up in the fire; turning that word of "as soon" to the sense of "as quickly;" and therefore wished, that before his going to the Parliament, the under-rooms of the Parliament house might be well and narrowly searched.

But the Earl of Salisbury wondering at this his Majesty’s commentary, which he knew to be so far contrary to his ordinary and natural disposition, who did rather ever sin upon the other side, in not apprehending, nor trusting due advertisements of practices and perils, when he was truly informed of them, whereby he had many times drawn himself into many desperate dangers; and interpreting rightly this extraordinary caution at this time to proceed from the vigilant care he had of the whole State, more than of his own person, which could not but have all perished together, if this designment had succeeded, he thought good to dissemble still unto the King, that there had been any just cause of such apprehension; and ending the purpose with some merry jest upon this subject, as his custom is, took his leave for that time. But, though he seemed so to neglect it to his Majesty, yet his customable and watchful care of the King and the state still boiling within him, and having with the Blessed Virgin Mary, laid up in his heart the King’s so strange judgment and construction of it, he could not be at rest, till he acquainted the foresaid Lords what had passed between the King and him in private.

Whereupon they were all so earnest to renew again the memory of the same purpose to his Majesty, that it was agreed, that he should the next day, being Saturday, repair to his Highness; which he did in the same privy gallery, and renewed the memory thereof, the Lord Chamberlain then being present with the King.

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