Vol 1 (con't)

The king himself, who had always more revered than loved the chancellor, was now totally estranged from him. Amidst the dissolute manners of the court, that minister still maintained an inflexible dignity, and would not submit to any condescensions which he deemed unworthy of his age and character. Buckingham, a man of profligate morals, happy in his talent for ridicule, but exposed in his own conduct to all the ridicule which he threw on others, still made him the object of his raillery, and gradually lessened in the king that regard which he bore to his minister. When any difficulties arose, either for want of power or money, the blame was still thrown on him, who, it was believed, had carefully at the restoration checked all lavish concessions to the king. And what, perhaps, touched Charles more nearly, he found in Clarendon, it is said, obstacles to his pleasures, as well as to his ambition.
The king, disgusted with the homely person of his consort, and desirous of having children, had hearkened to proposals of obtaining a divorce, on pretence either of her being pre-engaged to another, or having made a vow of chastity before her marriage. He was further stimulated by his passion for Mrs. Stuart, daughter of a Scotch gentleman; a lady of great beauty, and whose virtue he had hitherto found impregnable: but Clarendon, apprehensive of the consequences attending a disputed title, and perhaps anxious for the succession of his own grandchildren, engaged the duke of Richmond to marry Mrs. Stuart, and thereby put an end to the king's hopes. It is pretended that Charles never forgave this disappointment.
When politics, therefore, and inclination both concurred to make the king sacrifice Clarendon to popular prejudices, the memory of his past services was not able any longer to delay his fall. The great seal was taken from him, and given to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, by the title of lord keeper. Southampton, the treasurer, was now dead, who had persevered to the utmost in his attachments to the chancellor. The last time he appeared at the council table, he exerted his friendship with a vigor which neither age nor infirmities could abate. "This man," said he, speaking of Clarendon, "is a true Protestant, and an honest Englishman; and while he enjoys power, we are secure of our laws, liberties, and religion. I dread the consequences of his removal."
But the fall of the chancellor was not sufficient to gratify the malice of his enemies: his total ruin was resolved on. The duke of York in vain exerted his interest in behalf of his father-in-law. Both prince and people united in promoting that violent measure; and no means were thought so proper for ingratiating the court with a parliament, which had so long been governed by that very minister who was now to be the victim of their prejudices.
Some popular acts paved the way for the session; and the parliament, in their first address, gave the king thanks for these instances of his goodness; and, among the rest, they took care to mention his dismission of Clarendon. The king, in reply, assured the houses, that he would never again employ that nobleman in any public office whatsoever. Immediately the charge against him was opened in the house of commons by Mr. Seymour, afterwards Sir Edward, and consisted of seventeen articles. The house, without examining particulars, further than hearing general affirmations that all would be proved, immediately voted his impeachment. Many of the articles[*] 1 we know to be either false or frivolous; and such of them as we are less acquainted with, we may fairly presume to be no better grounded. His advising the sale of Dunkirk seems the heaviest and truest part of the charge; but a mistake in judgment, allowing it to be such, where there appear no symptoms of corruption or bad intentions, it would be very hard to impute as a crime to any minister. The king's necessities, which occasioned that measure, cannot with any appearance of reason be charged on Clarendon; and chiefly proceeded from the over frugal maxims of the parliament itself, in not granting the proper supplies to the crown.
     * See note A, at the end of the volume.
When the impeachment was carried up to the peers, as it contained an accusation of treason in general, without specifying any particulars, it seemed not a sufficient ground for committing Clarendon to custody. The precedents of Strafford and Laud were not, by reason of the violence of the times, deemed a proper authority; but as the commons still insisted upon his commitment, it was necessary to appoint a free conference between the houses. The lords persevered in their resolution; and the commons voted this conduct to be an obstruction to public justice, and a precedent of evil and dangerous tendency. They also chose a committee to draw up a vindication of their own proceedings.
Clarendon, finding that the popular torrent, united to the violence of power, ran with impetuosity against him, and that a defence offered to such prejudiced ears would be entirely ineffectual, thought proper to withdraw. At Calais he wrote a paper addressed to the house of lords. He there said, that his fortune, which was but moderate, had been gained entirely by the lawful, avowed profits of his office, and by the voluntary bounty of the king; that, during the first years after the restoration, he had always concurred in opinion with the other counsellors, men of such reputation that no one could entertain suspicions of their wisdom or integrity: that his credit soon declined; and however he might disapprove of some measures, he found it vain to oppose them; that his repugnance to the Dutch war, the source of all the public grievances, was always generally known, as well as his disapprobation of many unhappy steps taken in conducting it: and that, whatever pretence might be made of public offences, his real crime, that which had exasperated his powerful enemies, was his frequent opposition to exorbitant grants, which the importunity of suitors had extorted from his majesty.
The lords transmitted this paper to the commons, under the appellation of a libel; and by a vote of both houses it was condemned to be burned by the hands of the hangman. The parliament next proceeded to exert their legislative power against Clarendon, and passed a bill of banishment and incapacity, which received the royal assent. He retired into France, where he lived in a private manner. He survived his banishment six years; and he employed his leisure chiefly in reducing into order the History of the Civil Wars, for which he had before collected materials. The performance does honor to his memory; and, except Whitlocke's Memorials, is the most candid account of those times composed by any contemporary author.
Clarendon was always a friend to the liberty and constitution of his country. At the commencement of the civil wars, he had entered into the late king's service, and was honored with a great share in the esteem and friendship of that monarch: he was pursued with unrelenting animosity by the long parliament: he had shared all the fortunes and directed all the counsels of the present king during his exile: he had been advanced to the highest trust and offices after the restoration: yet all these circumstances, which might naturally operate with such force, either on resentment, gratitude, or ambition, had no influence on his uncorrupted mind. It is said, that when he first engaged in the study of the law, his father exhorted him with great earnestness to shun the practice, too common in that profession, of straining every point in favor of prerogative, and perverting so useful a science to the oppression of liberty; and in the midst of these rational and virtuous counsels, which he reiterated, he was suddenly seized with an apoplexy, and expired in his son's presence. This circumstance gave additional weight to the principles which he inculcated.
The combination of king and subject to oppress so good a minister, affords to men of opposite dispositions an equal occasion of inveighing against the ingratitude of princes, or ignorance of the people. Charles seems never to have mitigated his resentment against Clarendon; and the national prejudices pursued him to his retreat in France. A company of English soldiers, being quartered near him, assaulted his house, broke open the doors, gave him a dangerous wound on the head, and would have proceeded to the last extremities, had not their officers, hearing of the violence, happily interposed.
1668
The next expedient which the king embraced in order to acquire popularity, is more deserving of praise; and, had it been steadily pursued, would probably have rendered his reign happy, certainly his memory respected. It is the triple alliance of which I speak; a measure which gave entire satisfaction to the public.
The glory of France, which had long been eclipsed, either by domestic factions, or by the superior force of the Spanish monarchy, began now to break out with great lustre, and to engage the attention of the neighboring nations. The independent power and mutinous spirit of the nobility were subdued; the popular pretensions of the parliament restrained; the Hugonot party reduced to subjection: that extensive and fertile country, enjoying every advantage both of climate and situation, was fully peopled with ingenious and industrious inhabitants: and while the spirit of the nation discovered all the vigor and bravery requisite for great enterprises, it was tamed to an entire submission under the will of the sovereign.
The sovereign who now filled the throne was well adapted, by his personal character, both to increase and to avail himself of these advantages. Lewis XIV., endowed with every quality which could enchant the people, possessed many which merit the approbation of the wise. The masculine beauty of his person was embellished with a noble air: the dignity of his behavior was tempered with affability and politeness: elegant without effeminacy, addicted to pleasure without neglecting business, decent in his very vices, and beloved in the midst of arbitrary power, he surpassed all contemporary monarchs, as in grandeur, so likewise in fame and glory.
His ambition, regulated by prudence, not by justice, had carefully provided every means of conquest; and before he put himself in motion, he seemed to have absolutely insured success. His finances were brought into order; a naval power created; his armies increased and disciplined; magazines and military stores provided; and though the magnificence of his court was supported beyond all former example; so regular was the economy observed, and so willingly did the people, now enriched by arts and commerce, submit to multiplied taxes, that his military force much exceeded what in any preceding age had ever been employed by any European monarch.
The sudden decline, and almost total fall of the Spanish monarchy, opened an inviting field to so enterprising a prince, and seemed to promise him easy and extensive conquests*[**missing period] The other nations of Europe, feeble or ill governed, were astonished at the greatness of his rising empire; and all of them cast their eyes towards England, as the only power which could save them from that subjection with which they seemed to be so nearly threatened.
The animosity which had anciently subsisted between the English and French nations, and which had been suspended for above a century by the jealousy of Spanish greatness, began to revive and to exert itself. The glory of preserving the balance of Europe, a glory so much founded on justice and humanity, flattered the ambition of England; and the people were eager to provide for their own future security, by opposing the progress of so hated a rival. The prospect of embracing such measures had contributed, among other reasons, to render the peace of Breda so universally acceptable to the nation. By the death of Philip IV., king of Spain, an inviting opportunity, and some very slender pretences, had been afforded to call forth the ambition of Lewis.
At the treaty of the Pyrenees, when Lewis espoused the Spanish princess, he had renounced every title of succession to every part of the Spanish monarchy; and this renunciation had been couched in the most accurate and most precise terms that language could afford. But on the death of his father-in-law, he retracted his renunciation, and pretended that natural rights, depending on blood and succession, could not be annihilated by any extorted deed or contract. Philip had left a son, Charles II. of Spain; but as the queen of France was of a former marriage, she laid claim to a considerable province of the Spanish monarchy, even to the exclusion of her brother. By the customs of some parts of Brabant, a female of a first marriage was preferred to a male of a second, in the succession to private inheritances; and Lewis thence inferred, that his queen had acquired a right to the dominion of that important duchy.
A claim of this nature was more properly supported by military force than by argument and reasoning. Lewis appeared on the frontiers of the Netherlands with an army of forty thousand men, commanded by the best generals of the age, and provided with every thing necessary for action. The Spaniards, though they might have foreseen this measure, were totally unprepared. Their towns, without magazines, fortifications or garrisons, fell into the hands of the French king, as soon as he presented himself before them. Athe, Lisle, Tournay, Oudenarde, Courtray, Charleroi, Binche, were immediately taken: and it was visible, that no force in the Low Countries was able to stop or retard the progress of the French arms.
This measure, executed with such celerity and success, gave great alarm to almost every court in Europe. It had been observed with what dignity, or even haughtiness, Lewis, from the time he began to govern, had ever supported all his rights and pretensions. D'Estrades, the French ambassador, and Watteville, the Spanish, having quarrelled in London, on Account of their claims for precedency, the French monarch was not satisfied, till Spain sent to Paris a solemn embassy, and promised never more to revive such contests. Crequi, his ambassador at Rome, had met with an affront from the pope's guards: the pope, Alexander VII., had been constrained to break his guards, to send his nephew to ask pardon, and to allow a pillar to be erected in Rome itself, as a monument of his own humiliation. The king of England too had experienced the high spirit and unsubmitting temper of Lewis. A pretension to superiority in the English flag having been advanced, the French monarch remonstrated with such vigor, and prepared himself to resist with such courage, that Charles found it more prudent to desist from his vain and antiquated claims. "The king of England," said Lewis to his ambassador D'Estrades, "may know my force, but he knows not the sentiments of my heart: every thing appears to me contemptible in comparison of glory."[*] These measures of conduct had given strong indications of his character: but the invasion of Flanders discovered an ambition, which, being supported by such overgrown power, menaced the general liberties of Europe.
     * January 25, 1662
As no state lay nearer the danger, none was seized with more terror than the United Provinces. They were still engaged, together with France, in a war against England; and Lewis had promised them, that he would take no step against Spain without previously informing them: but, contrary to this assurance, he kept a total silence, till on the very point of entering upon action. If the renunciation made at the treaty of the Pyrenees was not valid, it was foreseen, that upon the death of the king of Spain, a sickly infant, the whole monarchy would be claimed by Lewis; after which it would be vainly expected to set bounds to his pretensions. Charles acquainted with these well-grounded apprehensions of the Dutch, had been the more obstinate in insisting on his own conditions at Breda; and by delaying to sign the treaty, had imprudently exposed himself to the signal disgrace which he received at Chatham. De Wit, sensible that a few weeks' delay would be of no consequence in the Low Countries, took this opportunity of striking an important blow, and of finishing the war with honor to himself and to his country.
Negotiations meanwhile commenced for the saving of Flanders; but no resistance was made to the French arms. The Spanish ministers exclaimed every where against the flagrant injustice of Lewis's pretensions, and represented it to be the interest of every power in Europe, even more than of Spain itself, to prevent his conquest of the Low Countries. The emperor and the German princes discovered evident symptoms of discontent; but their motions were slow and backward. The states, though terrified at the prospect of having their frontier exposed to so formidable a foe, saw no resource, no means of safety. England indeed seemed disposed to make opposition to the French; but the variable and impolitic conduct of Charles kept that republic from making him any open advances, by which she might lose the friendship of France, without acquiring any new ally. And though Lewis, dreading a combination of all Europe, had offered terms of accommodation, the Dutch apprehended lest these, either from the obstinacy of the Spaniards, or the ambition of the French, would never be carried into execution.
Charles resolved with great prudence to take the first step towards a confederacy. Sir William Temple, his resident at Brussels, received orders to go secretly to the Hague, and to concert with the states the means of saving the Netherlands. This man, whom philosophy had taught to despise the world, without rendering him unfit for it, was frank, open, sincere, superior to the little tricks of vulgar politicians; and meeting in De Wit with a man of the same generous and enlarged sentiments, he immediately opened his master's intentions, and pressed a speedy conclusion. A treaty was from the first negotiated between these two statesmen with the same cordiality as if it were a private transaction between intimate companions. Deeming the interests of their country the same, they gave full scope to that sympathy of character, which disposed them to an entire reliance on each other's professions and engagements. And though jealousy against the house of Orange might inspire De Wit with an aversion to a strict union with England, he generously resolved to sacrifice all private considerations to the public service.
Temple insisted on an offensive league between England and Holland, in order to oblige France to relinquish all her conquests: but De Wit told him, that this measure was too bold and precipitate to be agreed to by the states. He said that the French were the old and constant allies of the republic; and till matters came to extremities, she never would deem it prudent to abandon a friendship so well established, and rely entirely on a treaty with England, which had lately waged so cruel a war against her: that ever since the reign of Elizabeth, there had been such a fluctuation in the English councils, that it was not possible, for two years together, to take any sure or certain measures with that kingdom: that though the present ministry, having entered into views so conformable to national interest, promised greater firmness and constancy, it might still be unsafe, in a business of such consequence, to put entire confidence in them: that the French monarch was young, haughty, and powerful; and if treated in so imperious a manner, would expose himself to the greatest extremities rather than submit: that it was sufficient, if he could be constrained to adhere to the offers which he himself had already made, and if the remaining provinces of the Low Countries could be thereby saved from the danger with which they were at present threatened: and that the other powers in Germany and the north, whose assistance they might expect, would be satisfied with putting a stop to the French conquests, without pretending to recover the places already lost.
The English minister was content to accept of the terms proposed by the pensionary. Lewis had offered to relinquish all the queen's rights, on condition either of keeping the conquests which he had made last campaign, or of receiving, in lieu of them, Franche Compte, together with Cambray, Aire, and St. Omers. De Wit and Temple founded their treaty upon this proposal. They agreed to offer their mediation to the contending powers, and oblige France to adhere to this alternative, and Spain to accept of it. If Spain refused, they agreed that France should not prosecute her claim by arms, but leave it entirely to England and Holland to employ force for making the terms effectual. And the remainder of the Low Countries they thenceforth guarantied to Spain. A defensive alliance was likewise concluded between Holland and England.
The articles of this confederacy were soon adjusted by such candid and able negotiators: but the greatest difficulty still remained. By the constitution of the republic, all the towns in all the provinces must give their consent to every alliance; and besides that this formality could not be despatched in less than two months, it was justly to be dreaded that the influence of France would obstruct the passing of the treaty in some of the smaller cities. D'Estrades, the French ambassador, a man of abilities, hearing of the league which was on the carpet, treated it lightly. "Six weeks hence," said he, "we shall speak to it." To obviate this difficulty, De Wit had the courage, for the public good, to break through the laws in so fundamental an article; and by his authority, he prevailed with the states general at once to sign and ratify the league: though they acknowledged that, if that measure should displease their constituents, they risked their heads by this irregularity. After sealing, all parties embraced with great cordiality. Temple cried out, "At Breda, as friends: here, as brothers." And De Wit added, that now the matter was finished, it looked like a miracle.
Room had been left in the treaty for the accession of Sweden, which was soon after obtained; and thus was concluded in five days the triple league; an event received with equal surprise and approbation by the world. Notwithstanding the unfortunate conclusion of the last war, England now appeared in her proper station, and, by this wise conduct, had recovered all her influence and credit in Europe. Temple likewise received great applause; but to all the compliments made him on the occasion, he modestly replied, that to remove things from their centre, or proper element, required force and labor; but that of themselves they easily returned to it.
The French monarch was extremely displeased with this measure. Not only bounds were at present set to his ambition; such a barrier was also raised as seemed forever impregnable. And though his own offer was made the foundation of the treaty, he had prescribed so short a time for the acceptance of it that he still expected, from the delays and reluctance of Spain, to find some opportunity of eluding it. The court of Madrid showed equal displeasure. To relinquish any part of the Spanish provinces, in lieu of claims so apparently unjust, and these urged with such violence and haughtiness, inspired the highest disgust. Often did the Spaniards threaten to abandon entirely the Low Countries, rather than submit to so cruel a mortification; and they endeavored, by this menace, to terrify the mediating powers into more vigorous measures for their support. But Temple and De Wit were better acquainted with the views and interests of Spain. They knew that she must still retain the Low Countries, as a bond of connection with the other European powers, who alone, if her young monarch should happen to die without issue, could insure her independency against the pretensions of France. They still urged, therefore, the terms of the triple league, and threatened Spain with war in case of refusal. The plenipotentiaries of all the powers met at Aix-la-Chapelle. Temple was minister for England; Van Beuninghen for Holland; D'Ohna for Sweden.
Spain at last, pressed on all hands, accepted of the alternative offered; but in her very compliance, she gave strong symptoms of ill humor and discontent. It had been apparent that the Hollanders, entirely neglecting the honor of the Spanish monarchy, had been anxious only for their own security; and, provided they could remove Lewis to a distance from their frontier, were more indifferent what progress he made in other places. Sensible of these views, the queen regent of Spain resolved still to keep them in an anxiety, which might for the future be the foundation of a union more intimate than they were willing at present to enter into Franche Compte, by a vigorous and well-concerted plan of the French king, had been conquered in fifteen days, during a rigorous season, and in the midst of winter. She chose therefore to recover this province, and to abandon all the towns conquered in Flanders during the last campaign. By this means Lewis extended his garrisons into the heart of the Low Countries; and a very feeble barrier remained to the Spanish provinces.
But notwithstanding the advantages of his situation, the French monarch could entertain small hopes of ever extending his conquests on that quarter, which lay the most exposed to his ambition, and where his acquisitions were of most importance. The triple league guarantied the remaining provinces to Spain; and the emperor and other powers of Germany, whose interest seemed to be intimately concerned, were invited to enter into the same confederacy. Spain herself, having about this time, under the mediation of Charles, made peace on equal terms with Portugal, might be expected to exert more vigor and opposition to her haughty and triumphant rival. The great satisfaction expressed in England on account of the counsels now embraced by the court, promised the hearty concurrence of parliament in every measure which could be proposed for opposition to the grandeur of France. And thus all Europe seemed to repose herself with security under the wings of that powerful confederacy which had been so happily formed for her protection. It is now time to give some account of the state of affairs in Scotland and in Ireland.
The Scottish nation, though they had never been subject to the arbitrary power of their prince, had but very imperfect notions of law and liberty; and scarcely in any age had they ever enjoyed an administration which had confined itself within the proper boundaries. By their final union alone with England, their once hated adversary, they have happily attained the experience of a government perfectly regular, and exempt from all violence and injustice. Charles, from his aversion to business, had intrusted the affairs of that country to his ministers, particularly Middleton; and these could not forbear making very extraordinary stretches of authority.
There had been intercepted a letter, written by Lord Lorne to Lord Duffus, in which, a little too plainly, but very truly, he complained, that his enemies had endeavored by falsehood to prepossess the king against him. But he said, that he had now discovered them, had defeated them, and had gained the person, meaning the earl of Clarendon, upon whom the chief of them depended. This letter was produced before the parliament; and Lorne was tried upon an old, tyrannical, absurd law against leasing-making; by which it was rendered criminal to belie the subjects to the king, or create in him an ill opinion of them. He was condemned to die: but Charles was much displeased with the sentence, and granted him a pardon.[*]
     * Burnet, p. 149.
It was carried in parliament, that twelve persons, without crime, witness, trial, or accuser, should be declared incapable of all trust or office; and to render this injustice more egregious, it was agreed, that these persons should be named by ballot; a method of voting which several republics had adopted at elections, in order to prevent faction and intrigue; but which could serve only as a cover to malice and iniquity in the inflicting of punishments. Lauderdale, Crawford, and Sir Robert Murray, among others, were incapacitated: but the king, who disapproved of this injustice, refused his assent.[*]
An act was passed against all persons who should move the king for restoring the children of those who were attainted by parliament; an unheard-of restraint on applications for grace and mercy. No penalty was affixed; but the act was but the more violent and tyrannical on that account. The court lawyers had established it as a maxim, that the assigning of a punishment was a limitation of the crown; whereas a law forbidding any thing, though without a penalty, made the offenders criminal. And in that case, they determined that the punishment was arbitrary; only that it could not extend to life. Middleton, as commissioner, passed this act; though he had no instructions for that purpose.
An act of indemnity passed; but at the same time it was voted, that all those who had offended during the late disorders, should be subjected to fines; and a committee of parliament was appointed for imposing them. These proceeded without any regard to some equitable rules which the king had prescribed to them.[*] The most obnoxious compounded secretly.
     * Burnet, p. 152.

     ** Burnet, p. 147.
No consideration was had, either of men's riches, or of the degrees of their guilt: no proofs were produced: inquiries were not so much as made: but as fast as information was given in against any man, he was marked down for a particular fine: and all was transacted in a secret committee. When the list was read in parliament, exceptions were made to several: some had been under age during the civil wars; some had been abroad. But it was still replied, that a proper time would come when every man should be heard in his own defence. The only intention, it was said, of setting the fines was, that such persons should have no benefit by the act of indemnity, unless they paid the sum demanded: every one that chose to stand upon his innocence, and renounce the benefit of the indemnity, might do it at his peril. It was well known, that no one would dare so far to set at defiance so arbitrary an administration. The king wrote to the council, ordering them to supersede the levying of those fines: but Middleton found means, during some time, to elude these orders.[*] And at last, the king obliged his ministers to compound for half the sums which had been imposed. In all these transactions, and in most others which passed during the present reign, we still find the moderating hand of the king interposed to protect the Scots from the oppressions which their own countrymen, employed in the ministry, were desirous of exercising over them.
     * Burnet, p. 201.
But the chief circumstance whence were derived all the subsequent tyranny and disorders in Scotland, was the execution of the laws for the establishment of Episcopacy; a mode of government to which a great part of the nation had entertained an unsurmountable aversion. The rights of patrons had for some years been abolished; and the power of electing ministers had been vested in the kirk session and lay elders. It was now enacted, that all incumbents who had been admitted upon this title, should receive a presentation from the patron, and should be instituted anew by the bishop, under the penalty of deprivation. The more rigid Presbyterians concerted measures among themselves, and refused obedience: they imagined that their number would protect them. Three hundred and fifty parishes, above a third of the kingdom, were at once declared vacant. The western counties chiefly were obstinate in this particular. New ministers were sought for all over the kingdom; and no one was so ignorant or vicious as to be rejected. The people, who loved extremely and respected their former teachers; men remarkable for the severity of their manners, and their fervor in preaching; were inflamed against these intruders, who had obtained their livings under such invidious circumstances, and who took no care, by the regularity of their manners, to soften the prejudices entertained against them. Even most of those who retained their livings by compliance, fell under the imputation of hypocrisy, either by their showing a disgust to the new model of ecclesiastical government which they had acknowledged; or, on the other hand, by declaring, that their former adherence to Presbytery and the covenant had been the result of violence and necessity. And as Middleton and the new ministry indulged themselves in great riot and disorder, to which the nation had been little accustomed, an opinion universally prevailed, that any form of religion, offered by such hands, must be profane and impious.
The people, notwithstanding their discontents, were resolved to give no handle against them, by the least symptom of mutiny or sedition: but this submissive disposition, instead of procuring a mitigation of the rigors, was made use of as an argument for continuing the same measures, which, by their vigor, it was pretended, had produced so prompt an obedience. The king, however, was disgusted with the violence of Middleton;[*] and he made Rothes commissioner in his place. This nobleman was already president of the council; and soon after was made lord keeper and treasurer. Lauderdale still continued secretary of state, and commonly resided at London.
Affairs remained in a peaceable state, till the severe law was made in England against conventicles.[**] The Scottish parliament imitated that violence, by passing a like act. A kind of high commission court was appointed by the privy council, for executing this rigorous law, and for the direction of ecclesiastical affairs. But even this court, illegal as it might be deemed, was much preferable to the method next adopted. Military force was let loose by the council. Wherever the people had generally forsaken their churches, the guards were quartered throughout the country. Sir James Turner commanded them, a man whose natural ferocity of temper was often inflamed by the use of strong liquors. He went about, and received from the clergy lists of those who absented themselves from church, or were supposed to frequent conventicles. Without any proof or legal conviction, he demanded a fine from them, and quartered soldiers on the supposed delinquents, till he received payment. As an insurrection was dreaded during the Dutch war, new forces were levied, and intrusted to the command, of Dalziel and Drummond; two officers who had served the king during the civil wars, and had afterwards engaged in the service of Russia, where they had increased the native cruelty of their disposition. A full career was given to their tyranny by the Scottish ministry. Representations were made to the king against these enormities. He seemed touched with the state of the country; and besides giving orders that the ecclesiastical commission should be discontinued, he signified his opinion, that another way of proceeding was necessary for his service.[***]
     * Burnet, p 202.

     ** 1664.

     *** Burnet, p. 213
This lenity of the king's came too late to remedy the disorders. The people, inflamed with bigotry, and irritated by ill usage, rose in arms. They were instigated by Guthry, Semple, and other preachers. They surprised Turner in Dumfries, and resolved to have put him to death; but finding that his orders, which fell into their hands, were more violent than his execution of them, they spared his life. At Laneric, after many prayers, they renewed the covenant, and published their manifesto; in which they professed all submission to the king: they desired only the reëstablishment of Presbytery, and of their former ministers. As many gentlemen of their party had been confined on suspicion, Wallace and Learmont, two officers who had served, but in no high rank, were intrusted by the populace with the command. Their force never exceeded two thousand men; and though the country in general bore them favor, men's spirits were so subdued, that the rebels could expect no further accession of numbers. Dalziel took the field to oppose their progress. Their number was now diminished to eight hundred; and these, having advanced near Edinburgh, attempted to find their way back into the west by Pentland Hills. They were attacked by the king's forces.[*] Finding that they could not escape, they stopped their march. Their clergy endeavored to infuse courage into them. After singing some psalms, the rebels turned on the enemy; and being assisted by the advantage of the ground, they received the first charge very resolutely. But that was all the action: immediately they fell into disorder, and fled for their lives. About forty were killed on the spot, and a hundred and thirty taken prisoners. The rest, favored by the night, and by the weariness, and even by the pity of the king's troops, made their escape.
     * November 28, 1666.
The oppressions which these people had suffered, the delusions under which they labored, and their inoffensive behavior during the insurrection, made them the objects of compassion: yet were the king's ministers, particularly Sharpe, resolved to take severe vengeance. Ten were hanged on one gibbet at Edinburgh; thirty-five before their own doors in different places. These criminals might all have saved their lives, if they would have renounced the covenant. The executions were going on, when the king put a stop to them. He said, that blood enough had already been shed; and he wrote a letter to the privy council, in which he ordered, that such of the prisoners as should simply promise to obey the laws for the future, should be set at liberty, and that the incorrigible should be sent to the plantations.[*] This letter was brought by Burnet, archbishop of Glasgow; but not being immediately delivered to the council by Sharpe, the president,[**] one Maccail had in the interval been put to the torture, under which he expired. He seemed to die in an ecstasy of joy. "Farewell, sun, moon, and stars; farewell, world and time; farewell, weak and frail body: welcome, eternity; welcome, angels and saints; welcome, Savior of the world; and welcome, God, the Judge of all!" Such were his last words: and these animated speeches he uttered with an accent and manner which struck all the bystanders with astonishment.
     * Burnet, p 237.

     * Wodrow's History, vol. i. p. 255.
The settlement of Ireland, after the restoration, was a work of greater difficulty than that of England, or even of Scotland. Not only the power, during the former usurpations, had there been vested in the king's enemies; the whole property, in a manner, of the kingdom had also been changed: and it became necessary to redress, but with as little violence as possible, many grievous hardships and iniquities which were there complained of.
The Irish Catholics had in 1648 concluded a treaty with Ormond, the king's lieutenant; in which they had stipulated pardon for their past rebellion, and had engaged, under certain conditions, to assist the royal cause: and though the violence of the priests and the bigotry of the people had prevented, in a great measure, the execution of this treaty, yet were there many, who, having strictly, at the hazard of their lives, adhered to it, seemed on that account well entitled to reap the fruits of their loyalty. Cromwell, having without distinction expelled all the native Irish from the three provinces of Munster, Leinster, and Ulster, had confined them to Connaught and the county of Clare; and among those who had thus been forfeited, were many whose innocence was altogether unquestionable. Several Protestants likewise, and Ormond among the rest, had all along opposed the Irish rebellion; yet having afterwards embraced the king's cause against the parliament, they were all of them attainted by Cromwell. And there were many officers who had from the commencement of the insurrection served in Ireland, and who, because they would not desert the king, had been refused all their arrears by the English commonwealth.
To all these unhappy sufferers some justice seemed to be due: but the difficulty was, to find the means of redressing such great and extensive iniquities. Almost all the valuable parts of Ireland had been measured out and divided, either to the adventurers, who had lent money to the parliament for the suppression of the Irish rebellion, or to the soldiers, who had received land in lieu of their arrears. These could not be dispossessed, because they were the most powerful and only armed part of Ireland; because it was requisite to favor them, in order to support the Protestant and English interest in that kingdom; and because they had generally, with a seeming zeal and alacrity, concurred in the king's restoration. The king, therefore, issued a proclamation, in which he promised to maintain their settlement, and at the same time engaged to give redress to the innocent sufferers. There was a quantity of land as yet undivided in Ireland; and from this and some other funds, it was thought possible for the king to fulfil both these engagements.
A court of claims was erected, consisting altogether of English commissioners, who had no connection with any of the parties into which Ireland was divided. Before these were laid four thousand claims of persons craving restitution on account of their innocence; and the commissioners had found leisure to examine only six hundred. It already appeared, that if all these were to be restored, the funds, whence the adventurers and soldiers must get reprisals, would fall short of giving them any tolerable satisfaction. A great alarm and anxiety seized all ranks of men: the hopes and fears of every party were excited: these eagerly grasped at recovering their paternal inheritance; those were resolute to maintain their new acquisitions.
The duke of Ormond was created lord lieutenant; being the only person whose prudence and equity could compose such jarring interests. A parliament was assembled at Dublin; and as the lower house was almost entirely chosen by the soldiers and adventurers, who still kept possession, it was extremely favorable to that interest. The house of peers showed greater impartiality.
An insurrection was projected, together with a surprisal of the Castle of Dublin, by some of the disbanded soldiers; but this design was happily defeated by the vigilance of Ormond. Some of the criminals were punished. Blood, the most desperate of them, escaped into England.
But affairs could not long remain in the confusion and uncertainty into which they had fallen. All parties seemed willing to abate somewhat of their pretensions, in order to attain some stability; and Ormond interposed his authority for that purpose. The soldiers and adventurers agreed to relinquish a third of their possessions; and as they had purchased their lands at very low prices, they had reason to think themselves favored by this composition. All those who had been attainted on account of their adhering to the king, were restored; and some of the innocent Irish. It was a hard situation that a man was obliged to prove himself innocent, in order to recover possession of the estate which he and his ancestors had ever enjoyed: but the hardship was augmented by the difficult conditions annexed to this proof. If the person had ever lived in the quarters of the rebels, he was not admitted to plead his innocence; and he was, for that reason alone, supposed to have been a rebel. The heinous guilt of the Irish nation made men the more readily overlook any iniquity which might fall on individuals; and it was considered that, though it be always the interest of all good governments to prevent injustice, it is not always possible to remedy it, after it has had a long course, and has been attended with great successes.
Ireland began to attain a state of some composure, when it was disturbed by a violent act passed by the English parliament, which prohibited the importation of Irish cattle into England.[*]
     * In 1666.
Ormond remonstrated strongly against this law. He said, that the present trade carried on between England and Ireland was extremely to the advantage of the former kingdom, which received only provisions or rude materials in return for every species of manufacture: that if the cattle of Ireland were prohibited, the inhabitants of that island had no other commodity by which they could pay England for their importations, and must have recourse to other nations for a supply: that the industrious inhabitants of England, if deprived of Irish provisions, which made living cheap, would be obliged to augment the price of labor, and thereby render their manufactures too dear to be exported to foreign markets: that the indolent inhabitants of Ireland, finding provisions fall almost to nothing, would never be induced to labor, but would perpetuate to all generations their native sloth and barbarism: that by cutting off almost entirely the trade between the kingdoms, all the natural bands of union were dissolved, and nothing remained to keep the Irish in their duty but force and violence: and that by reducing that kingdom to extreme poverty, it would be even rendered incapable of maintaining that military power, by which, during its well-grounded discontents, it must necessarily be retained in subjection.
The king was so much convinced of the justness of these reasons, that he used all his interest to oppose the bill; and he openly declared, that he could not give his assent to it with a safe conscience. But the commons were resolute in their purpose. Some of the rents of England had fallen of late years, which had been ascribed entirely to the importation of Irish cattle: several intrigues had contributed to inflame that prejudice, particularly those of Buckingham and Ashley, who were desirous of giving Ormond disturbance in his government: and the spirit of tyranny, of which nations are as susceptible as individuals, had extremely animated the English to exert their superiority over their dependent state. No affair could be conducted with greater violence than this was by the commons. They even went so far, in the preamble of the bill, as to declare the importation of Irish cattle to be a nuisance. By this expression they gave scope to their passion, and at the same time barred the king's prerogative, by which he might think himself entitled to dispense with a law so full of injustice and bad policy. The lords expunged the word; but as the king was sensible that no supply would be given by the commons, unless they were gratified in their prejudices, he was obliged both to employ his interest with the peers for making the bill pass, and to give the royal assent to it. He could not, however, forbear expressing his displeasure at the jealousy entertained against him, and at the intention which the commons discovered of retrenching his prerogative.
This law brought great distress for some time upon the Irish; but it has occasioned their applying with greater industry to manufactures, and has proved in the issue beneficial to that kingdom.




CHAPTER LXV.

ENLARGE





CHARLES II.

1668
Since the restoration, England had attained a situation which had never been experienced in any former period of her government, and which seemed the only one that could fully insure, at once, her tranquillity and her liberty: the king was in continual want of supply from the parliament, and he seemed willing to accommodate himself to that dependent situation. Instead of reviving those claims of prerogative, so strenuously insisted on by his predecessors, Charles had strictly confined himself within the limits of law, and had courted, by every art of popularity, the affections of his subjects. Even the severities, however blamable, which he had exercised against nonconformists, are to be considered as expedients by which he strove to ingratiate himself with that party which predominated in parliament. But notwithstanding these promising appearances, there were many circumstances which kept the government from resting steadily on that bottom on which it was placed. The crown, having lost almost all its ancient demesnes, relied entirely on voluntary grants of the people; and the commons, not fully accustomed to this new situation, were not yet disposed to supply, with sufficient liberality, the necessities of the crown. They imitated too strictly the example of their predecessors in a rigid frugality of public money; and neither sufficiently considered the indigent condition of their prince, nor the general state of Europe, where every nation, by its increase both of magnificence and force, had made great additions to all public expenses. Some considerable sums, indeed, were bestowed on Charles; and the patriots of that age, tenacious of ancient maxims, loudly upbraided the commons with prodigality; but if we may judge by the example of a later period, when the government has become more regular, and the harmony of its parts has been more happily adjusted, the parliaments of this reign seem rather to have merited a contrary reproach.
The natural consequence of the poverty of the crown was besides feeble, irregular transactions in foreign affairs, a continual uncertainty in its domestic administration. No one could answer with any tolerable assurance for the measures of the house of commons. Few of the members were attached to the court by any other band than that of inclination. Royalists indeed in their principles, but unexperienced in business, they lay exposed to every rumor or insinuation; and were driven by momentary gusts or currents, no less than the populace themselves. Even the attempts made to gain an ascendant over them by offices, and, as it is believed, by bribes and pensions, were apt to operate in a manner contrary to what was intended by the ministers. The novelty of the practice conveyed a general, and indeed a just alarm; while, at the same time, the poverty of the crown rendered this influence very limited and precarious.
The character of Charles was ill fitted to remedy those defects in the constitution. He acted in the administration of public affairs, as if government were a pastime, rather than a serious occupation; and, by the uncertainty of his conduct he lost that authority which could alone bestow constancy on the fluctuating resolutions of the parliament. His expenses, too, which sometimes, perhaps, exceeded the proper bounds, were directed more by inclination than by policy; and while they increased his dependence on the parliament, they were not calculated fully to satisfy either the interested or disinterested part of that assembly.
The parliament met after a long adjournment, and the king promised himself every thing from the attachment of the commons. All his late measures had been calculated to acquire the good will of his people; and, above all, the triple league, it was hoped, would be able to efface all the disagreeable impressions left by the unhappy conclusion of the Dutch war. But a new attempt made by the court, and a laudable one, too, lost him for a time the effect of all these endeavors. Buckingham, who was in great favor with the king, and carried on many intrigues among the commons, had also endeavored to support connections with the nonconformists; and he now formed a scheme, in concert with the lord keeper, Sir Orlando Bridgeman, and the chief justice, Sir Matthew Hale, two worthy patriots, to put an end to those severities under which these religionists had so long labored. It was proposed to reconcile the Presbyterians by a comprehension, and to grant a toleration to the Independents and other sectaries Favor seems not, by this scheme, as by others embraced during the present reign, to have been intended the Catholics: yet were the zealous commons so disgusted, that they could not be prevailed on even to give the king thanks for the triple league, however laudable that measure was then, and has ever since been esteemed. They immediately voted an address for a proclamation against conventicles. Their request was complied with; but as the king still dropped some hints of his desire to reconcile his Protestant subjects, the commons passed a very unusual vote, that no man should bring into the house any bill of that nature. The king in vain reiterated his solicitations for supply; represented the necessity of equipping a fleet; and even offered, that the money which they should grant should be collected and issued for that purpose by commissioners appointed by the house. Instead of complying, the commons voted an inquiry into all the miscarriages during the late war; the slackening of sail after the duke's victory from false orders delivered by Brounker the miscarriage at Bergen, the division of the fleet under Prince Rupert and Albemarle, the disgrace at Chatham. Brounker was expelled the house, and ordered to be impeached. Commissioner Pet, who had neglected orders issued for the security of Chatham, met with the same fate. These impeachments were never prosecuted. The house at length, having been indulged in all their prejudices, were prevailed with to vote the king three hundred and ten thousand pounds, by an imposition on wine and other liquors; after which they were adjourned.
Public business, besides being retarded by the disgust of the commons against the tolerating maxims of the court, met with obstructions this session from a quarrel between the two houses. Skinner, a rich merchant in London, having suffered some injuries from the East India Company, laid the matter by petition before the house of lords, by whom he was relieved in costs and damages to the amount of five thousand pounds. The commons voted, that the lords, in taking cognizance of this affair, originally, without any appeal from inferior courts, had acted in a manner not agreeable to the laws of the land, and tending to deprive the subject of the right, ease, and benefit due to him by these laws; and that Skinner, in prosecuting the suit after this manner, had infringed the privileges of the commons; for which offence they ordered him to be taken into custody. Some conferences ensued between the houses where the lords were tenacious of their right of judicature, and maintained, that the method in which they had exercised it was quite regular. The commons rose into a great ferment; and went so far as to vote, that "whoever should be aiding or assisting in putting in execution the order or sentence of the house of lords, in the case of Skinner against the East India Company, should be deemed a betrayer of the rights and liberties of the commons of England, and an infringer of the privileges of the house of commons." They rightly judged, that it would not be easy, after this vote, to find any one who would venture to incur their indignation. The proceedings indeed of the lords seem in this case to have been unusual and without precedent.
1669
The king's necessities obliged him again to assemble the parliament, who showed some disposition to relieve him. The price, however, which he must pay for this indulgence, was his yielding to new laws against conventicles. His complaisance in this particular contributed more to gain the commons, than all the pompous pretences of supporting the triple alliance, that popular measure by which he expected to make such advantage. The quarrel between the two houses was revived; and as the commons had voted only four hundred thousand pounds, with which the king was not satisfied, he thought proper, before they had carried their vote into a law, to prorogue them. The only business finished this short session, was the receiving of the report of the committee appointed for examining the public accounts. On the first inspection of this report, there appears a great sum, no less than a million and a half, unaccounted for; and the natural inference is, that the king had much abused the trust reposed in him by parliament But a more accurate inspection of particulars serves, in a great measure, to remove this imputation. The king indeed went so far as to tell the parliament from the throne, "that he had fully informed himself of that matter, and did affirm, that no part of those moneys which they had given him had been diverted to other uses; but, on the contrary, besides all those supplies, a very great sum had been raised out of his standing revenue and credit, and a very great debt contracted; and all for the war." Though artificial pretences have often been employed by kings in their speeches to parliament, and by none more than Charles, it is somewhat difficult to suspect him of a direct lie and falsehood. He must have had some reasons, and perhaps not unplausible ones, for this affirmation, of which all his hearers, as they had the accounts lying before them, were at that time competent judges.[*] 2
     * See note B, at the end of the volume.
The method which all parliaments had hitherto followed, was to vote a particular sum for the supply, without any distinction, or any appropriation to particular services. So long as the demands of the crown were small and casual, no great inconveniencies arose from this practice. But as all the measures of government were now changed, it must be confessed that, if the king made a just application of public money, this inaccurate method of proceeding, by exposing him to suspicion, was prejudicial to him. If he were inclined to act otherwise, it was equally hurtful to the people. For these reasons, a contrary practice, during all the late reigns, has constantly been followed by the commons.
1670
When the parliament met after the prorogation, they entered anew upon the business of supply, and granted the king an additional duty, during eight years, of twelve pounds on each tun of Spanish wine imported, eight on each tun of French. A law also passed, empowering him to sell the fee-farm rents; the last remains of the demesnes, by which the ancient kings of England had been supported. By this expedient, he obtained some supply for his present necessities, but left the crown, if possible, still more dependent than before. How much money might be raised by these sales is uncertain; but it could not be near one million eight hundred thousand pounds, the sum assigned by some writers.[*]
     * Mr. Carte, in his vindication of the Answer to the
     Bystander, (p 99,) says, that the sale of the fee-farm rents
     would not yield above one hundred thousand pounds; and his
     reasons appear well founded with regard to the
     interpretation of any part of the act.
The act against conventicles passed, and received the royal assent. It bears the appearance of mitigating the former persecuting laws; but if we may judge by the spirit which had broken out almost every session during this parliament, it was not intended as any favor to the nonconformists. Experience probably had taught, that laws over rigid and severe could not be executed. By this act, the hearer in a conventicle (that is, in a dissenting assembly, where more than five were present, besides the family) was fined five shillings for the first offence, ten for the second; the preacher, twenty pounds for the first offence, forty for the second. The person in whose house the conventicle met, was amerced a like sum with the preacher. One clause is remarkable; that if any dispute should arise the judges should always explain the doubt in the sense least favorable to conventicles, it being the intention of parliament entirely to suppress them. Such was the zeal of the commons, that they violated the plainest and most established maxims of civil policy, which require that in all criminal prosecutions favor should always be given to the prisoner.
The affair of Skinner still remained a ground of quarrel between the two houses; but the king prevailed with the peers to accept of the expedient proposed by the commons, that a general razure should be made of all the transactions with regard to that disputed question.
Some attempts were made by the king to effect a union between England and Scotland; though they were too feeble to remove all the difficulties which obstructed that useful and important undertaking. Commissioners were appointed to meet, in order to regulate the conditions: but the design, chiefly by the intrigues of Lauderdale, soon after came to nothing.
The king about this time began frequently to attend the debates of the house of peers. He said, that they amused him, and that he found them no less entertaining than a play. But deeper designs were suspected. As he seemed to interest himself extremely in the cause of Lord Roos, who had obtained a divorce from his wife on the accusation of adultery, and applied to parliament for leave to marry again, people imagined that Charles intended to make a precedent of the case, and that some other pretence would be found for getting rid of the queen. Many proposals to this purpose, it is said, were made him by Buckingham; but the king, how little scrupulous soever in some respects, was incapable of any action harsh or barbarous; and he always rejected every scheme of this nature. A suspicion, however, of such intentions, it was observed, had at this time begotten a coldness between the two royal brothers.
We now come to a period when the king's counsels, which had hitherto in the main been good, though negligent and fluctuating, became, during some time, remarkably bad, or even criminal; and breeding incurable jealousies in all men, were followed by such consequences as had almost terminated in the ruin both of prince and people. Happily, the same negligence still attended him; and, as it had lessened the influence of the good, it also diminished the effect of the bad measures which he embraced.
It was remarked, that the committee of council established for foreign affairs was entirely changed; and that Prince Rupert the duke of Ormond, Sectary Trevor, and Lord Keeper Bridgeman, men in whose honor the nation had great confidence, were never called to any deliberations. The whole secret was intrusted to five persons, Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale. These men were known by the appellation of the "cabal," a word which the initial letters of their names happened to compose. Never was there a more dangerous ministry in England, nor one more noted for pernicious counsels.
Lord Ashley, soon after known by the name of earl of Shaftesbury, was one of the most remarkable characters of the age, and the chief spring of all the succeeding movements. During his early youth, he had engaged in the late king's party; but being disgusted with some measures of Prince Maurice, he soon deserted to the parliament. He insinuated himself into the confidence of Cromwell; and as he had great influence with the Presbyterians, he was serviceable in supporting, with his party, the authority of that usurper. He employed the same credit in promoting the restoration; and on that account both deserved and acquired favor with the king. In all his changes, he still maintained the character of never betraying those friends whom he deserted; and whichever party he joined, his great capacity and singular talents soon gained him their confidence, and enabled him to take the lead among them. No station could satisfy his ambition, no fatigues were insuperable to his industry. Well acquainted with the blind attachment of faction, he surmounted all sense of shame; and relying on the subtilty of his contrivances, he was not startled with enterprises the most hazardous and most criminal. His talents, both of public speaking and private insinuation, shone out in an eminent degree; and amidst all his furious passions, he possessed a sound judgment of business, and still more of men. Though fitted by nature for beginning and pushing the greatest undertakings, he was never able to conduct any to a happy period; and his eminent abilities, by reason of his insatiable desires, were equally dangerous to himself, to the prince, and to the people.
The duke of Buckingham possessed all the advantages which a graceful person, a high rank, a splendid fortune, and a lively wit could bestow; but by his wild conduct, unrestrained either by prudence or principle, he found means to render himself in the end odious, and even insignificant. The least interest could make him abandon his honor; the smallest pleasure could seduce him from his interest; the most frivolous caprice was sufficient to counterbalance his pleasure*[**missing period] By his want of secrecy and constancy, he destroyed his character in public life; by his contempt of order and economy, he dissipated his private fortune; by riot and debauchery, he ruined his health; and he remained at last as incapable of doing hurt, as he had ever been little desirous of doing good to mankind.
The earl, soon after created duke of Lauderdale, was not defective in natural, and still less in acquired talents; but neither was his address graceful, nor his understanding just. His principles, or, more properly speaking, his prejudices, were obstinate, but unable to restrain his ambition: his ambition was still less dangerous than the tyranny and violence of his temper. An implacable enemy, but a lukewarm friend; insolent to his inferiors, but abject to his superiors; though in his whole character and deportment he was almost diametrically opposite to the king, he had the fortune, beyond any other minister, to maintain, during the greater part of his reign, an ascendant over him.
The talents of parliamentary eloquence and intrigue had raised Sir Thomas Clifford; and his daring, impetuous spirit gave him weight in the king's councils. Of the whole cabal, Arlington was the least dangerous, either by his vices or his talents. His judgment was sound, though his capacity was but moderate; and his intentions were good, though he wanted courage and integrity to persevere in them. Together with Temple and Bridgeman, he had been a great promoter of the triple league; but he threw himself with equal alacrity into opposite measures, when he found them agreeable to his master. Clifford and he were secretly Catholics: Shaftesbury, though addicted to astrology, was reckoned a deist: Buckingham had too little reflection to embrace any steady principles: Lauderdale had long been a bigoted and furious Presbyterian; and the opinions of that sect still kept possession of his mind, how little soever they appeared in his conduct.
The dark counsels of the cabal, though from the first they gave anxiety to all men of reflection, were not thoroughly known but by the event. Such seem to have been the views which they, in concurrence with some Catholic courtiers who had the ear of their sovereign, suggested to the king and the duke, and which these princes too greedily embraced. They said, that the parliament, though the spirit of party, for the present, attached them to the crown, were still more attached to those powers and privileges which their predecessors had usurped from the sovereign: that after the first flow of kindness was spent, they had discovered evident symptoms of discontent; and would be sure to turn against the king all the authority which they yet retained, and still more those pretensions which it was easy for them in a moment to revive: that they not only kept the king in dependence by means of his precarious revenue, but had never discovered a suitable generosity, even in those temporary supplies which they granted him: that it was high time for the prince to rouse himself from his lethargy, and to recover that authority which his predecessors, during so many ages, had peaceably enjoyed; that the great error or misfortune of his father was, the not having formed any close connection with foreign princes, who, on the breaking out of the rebellion, might have found their interest in supporting him: that the present alliances, being entered into with so many weaker potentates, who themselves stood in need of the king's protection, could never serve to maintain much less augment, the royal authority: that the French monarch alone, so generous a prince, and by blood so nearly allied to the king, would be found both able and willing, if gratified in his ambition, to defend the common cause of kings against usurping subjects: that a war undertaken against Holland by the united force of two such mighty potentates, would prove an easy enterprise, and would serve all the purposes which were aimed at: that, under pretence of that war, it would not be difficult to levy a military force, without which, during the prevalence of republican principles among his subjects, the king would vainly expect to defend his prerogative; that his naval power might be maintained, partly by the supplies which on other pretences would previously be obtained from parliament; partly by subsidies from France; partly by captures, which might easily be made on that opulent republic: that, in such a situation, attempts to recover the lost authority of the crown would be attended with success; nor would any malecontents dare to resist a prince fortified by so powerful an alliance; or, if they did, they would only draw more certain ruin on themselves and on their cause; and that by subduing the states, a great step would be made towards a reformation of the government; since it was apparent, that that republic, by its fame and grandeur, fortified in his factious subjects their attachment to what they vainly termed their civil and religious liberties.
These suggestions happened fatally to concur with all the inclinations and prejudices of the king; his desire of more extensive authority, his propensity to the Catholic religion, his avidity for money. He seems, likewise, from the very beginning of his reign, to have entertained great jealousy of his own subjects, and, on that account, a desire of fortifying himself by an intimate alliance with France. So early as 1664, he had offered the French monarch to allow him without opposition to conquer Flanders, provided that prince would engage to furnish him with ten thousand infantry, and a suitable number of cavalry, in case of any rebellion in England.[*] As no dangerous symptoms at that time appeared, we are left to conjecture, from this incident, what opinion Charles had conceived of the factious disposition of his people.
Even during the time when the triple alliance was the most zealously cultivated, the king never seems to have been entirely cordial in those salutary measures, but still to have cast a longing eye towards the French alliance. Clifford, who had much of his confidence, said imprudently, "Notwithstanding all this joy, we must have a second war with Holland." The accession of the emperor to that alliance had been refused by England on frivolous pretences. And many unfriendly cavils were raised against the states with regard to Surinam and the conduct of the East India Company.[**] 3 But about April, 1669 the strongest symptoms appeared of those fatal measure which were afterwards more openly pursued.
     * D'Estrades, July 21, 1667.

     ** See note C, at the end of the volume.
De Wit at that time came to Temple, and told him, that he paid him a visit as a friend, not as a minister. The occasion was, to acquaint him with a conversation which he had lately had with Puffendorf, the Swedish agent, who had passed by the Hague in the way from Paris to his own country. The French ministers, Puffendorf said, had taken much pains to persuade him, that the Swedes would very ill find their account in those measures which they had lately embraced: that Spain would fail them in all her promises of subsidies; nor would Holland alone be able to support them: that England would certainly fail them, and had already adopted counsels directly opposite to those which by the triple league she had bound herself to pursue: and that the resolution was not the less fixed and certain, because the secret was as yet communicated to very few either in the French or English court. When Puffendorf seemed incredulous, Turenne showed him a letter from Colbert de Crossy, the French minister at London; in which after mentioning the success of his negotiations, and the favorable disposition of the chief ministers there, he added, "And I have at last made them sensible of the full extent of his majesty's bounty."[*] From this incident it appears, that the infamous practice of selling themselves to foreign princes, a practice which, notwithstanding the malignity of the vulgar, is certainly rare among men in high office, had not been scrupled by Charles's ministers, who even obtained their master's consent to this dishonorable corruption.
     * Temple, vol. ii. p. 179.
But while all men of penetration, both abroad and at home were alarmed with these incidents, the visit which the king received from his sister, the duchess of Orleans, was the foundation of still stronger suspicions. Lewis, knowing the address and insinuation of that amiable princess, and the great influence which she had gained over her brother, had engaged her to employ all her good offices in order to detach Charles from the triple league, which, he knew, had fixed such unsurmountable barriers to his ambition; and he now sent her to put the last hand to the plan of their conjunct operations. That he might the better cover this negotiation, he pretended to visit his frontiers, particularly the great works which he had undertaken at Dunkirk: and he carried the queen and the whole court along with him. While he remained on the opposite shore, the duchess of Orleans went over to England; and Charles met her at Dover, where they passed ten days together in great mirth and festivity. By her artifices and caresses, she prevailed on Charles to relinquish the most settled maxims of honor and policy, and to finish his engagements with Lewis for the destruction of Holland, as well as for the subsequent change of religion in England.
But Lewis well knew Charles's character, and the usual fluctuations of his counsels. In order to fix him in the French interests, he resolved to bind him by the ties of pleasure, the only ones which with him were irresistible; and he made him a present of a French mistress, by whose means he hoped for the future to govern him. The duchess of Orleans brought with her a young lady of the name of Querouaille, whom the king carried to London, and soon after created duchess of Portsmouth. He was extremely attached to her during the whole course of his life; and she proved a great means of supporting his connections with her native country.
The satisfaction which Charles reaped from his new alliance received a great check by the death of his sister, and still more by those melancholy circumstances which attended it. Her death was sudden, after a few days' illness; and she was seized with the malady upon drinking a glass of succory water. Strong suspicions of poison arose in the court of France, and were spread all over Europe; and as her husband had discovered many symptoms of jealousy and discontent on account of her conduct, he was universally believed to be the author of the crime. Charles himself, during some time, was entirely convinced of his guilt; but upon receiving the attestation of physicians, who, on opening her body, found no foundation for the general rumor, he was, or pretended to be, satisfied. The duke of Orleans indeed did never, in any other circumstance of his life, betray such dispositions as might lead him to so criminal an action; and a lady, it is said, drank the remains of the same glass, without feeling any inconvenience. The sudden death of princes is commonly accompanied with these dismal surmises; and therefore less weight is in this case to be laid on the suspicions of the public.
Charles, instead of breaking with France upon this incident, took advantage of it to send over Buckingham, under pretence of condoling with the duke of Orleans, but in reality to concert further measures for the projected war. Never ambassador received greater caresses. The more destructive the present measures were to the interests of England, the more natural was it for Lewis to load with civilities, and even with favors, those whom he could engage to promote them.
The journey of Buckingham augmented the suspicions in Holland, which every circumstance tended still further to confirm. Lewis made a sudden irruption into Lorraine; and though he missed seizing the duke himself, who had no surmise of the danger, and who narrowly escaped, he was soon able, without resistance, to make himself master of the whole country. The French monarch was so far unhappy, that, though the most tempting opportunities offered themselves, he had not commonly so much as the pretence of equity and justice to cover his ambitious measures. This acquisition of Lorraine ought to have excited the jealousy of the contracting powers in the triple league, as much as an invasion of Flanders itself; yet did Charles turn a deaf ear to all remonstrances made him upon that subject.
But what tended chiefly to open the eyes of De Wit and the states with regard to the measures of England, was the sudden recall of Sir William Temple. This minister had so firmly established his character of honor and integrity, that he was believed incapable even of obeying his master's commands in promoting measures which he esteemed pernicious to his country; and so long as he remained in employment, De Wit thought himself assured of the fidelity of England. Charles was so sensible of this prepossession, that he ordered Temple to leave his family at the Hague, and pretended that that minister would immediately return, after having conferred with the king about some business where his negotiation had met with obstructions. De Wit made the Dutch resident inform the English court, that he should consider the recall of Temple as an express declaration of a change of measures in England; and should even know what interpretation to put upon any delay of his return.
While these measures were secretly in agitation, the parliament met, according to adjournment. The king made a short speech, and left the business to be enlarged upon by the keeper. That minister much insisted on the king's great want of supply; the mighty increase of the naval power of France, now triple to what it was before the last war with Holland; the decay of the English navy; the necessity of fitting out next year a fleet of fifty sail; the obligations which the king lay under by several treaties to exert himself for the common good of Christendom. Among other treaties, he mentioned the triple alliance, and the defensive league with the states.
The artifice succeeded. The house of commons, entirely satisfied with the king's measures, voted him considerable supplies. A laud tax for a year was imposed of a shilling a pound; two shillings a pound on two thirds of the salaries of offices; fifteen shillings on every hundred pounds of bankers' money and stock; an additional excise upon beer for six years, and certain impositions upon law proceedings for nine years. The parliament had never before been in a more liberal humor; and never surely was it less merited by the counsels of the king and of his ministers.[*]
     * This year, on the 3d of January, died George Monk, duke of
     Albemarle, at Newhall, in Essex, after a languishing
     illness, and in the sixty-third year of his age. He left a
     great estate of fifteen thousand pounds a year in land, and
     sixty thousand pounds in money, acquired by the bounty of
     the king, and increased by his own frugality in his later
     years. Bishop Burnet, who, agreeably to his own factious
     spirit, treats this illustrious personage with great
     malignity, reproaches him with avarice; but as he appears
     not to have been in the least tainted with rapacity, his
     frugal conduct may more candidly be imputed to the habits
     acquired in early life, while he was possessed of a very
     narrow fortune. It is indeed a singular proof of the strange
     power of faction, that any malignity should pursue the
     memory of a nobleman, the tenor of whose life was so
     unexceptionable, and who, by restoring the ancient, and
     legal, and free government to three kingdoms plunged in the
     most destructive anarchy, may safely be said to be the
     subject, in these islands, who, since the beginning of time,
     rendered the most durable and most essential services to his
     native country. The means also by which he achieved his
     great undertakings, were almost entirely unexceptionable.
     His temporary dissimulation, being absolutely necessary,
     could scarcely be blamable. He had received no trust from
     that mongrel, pretended, usurping parliament whom he
     dethroned; therefore could betray none; he even refused to
     carry his dissimulation so far as to take the oath of
     abjuration against the king. I confess, however, that the
     Reverend Dr. Douglas has shown me, from the Clarendon
     papers, an original letter of his to Sir Arthur Hazelrig,
     containing very earnest, and certainly false protestations
     of his zeal for a commonwealth. It is to be lamented, that
     so worthy a man, and of such plain manners, should ever have
     found it necessary to carry his dissimulation to such a
     height. His family ended with his son. There was a private
     affair, which, during this session, disgusted the house of
     commons, and required some pains to accommodate it. The
     usual method of those who opposed the court in the money
     bills, was, if they failed in the main vote, as to the
     extent of the supply, to levy the money upon such funds as
     they expected would be unacceptable, or would prove
     deficient. It was proposed to lay an imposition upon
     playhouses: the courtiers objected, that the players were
     the king's servants, and a part of his pleasure. Sir John
     Coventry, a gentleman of the country party, asked, "whether
     the king's pleasure lay among the male or the female
     players." This stroke of satire was aimed at Charles, who,
     besides his mistresses of higher quality, entertained at
     that time two actresses, Davis and Nell Gwin. The king
     received not the raillery with the good humor which might
     have been expected. It was said that this being the first
     time that respect to majesty had been publicly violated, it
     was necessary, by some severe chastisement, to make Coventry
     an example to all who might incline to tread in his
     footsteps. Sands, Obrian, and some other officers of the
     guards, were ordered to waylay him, and to set a mark upon
     him. He defended himself with bravery, and after wounding
     several of the assailants, was disarmed with some
     difficulty. They cut his nose to the bone, in order, as they
     said, to teach him what respect he owed to the king. The
     commons were inflamed by this indignity offered to one of
     their members, on account of words spoken in the house. They
     passed a law which made it capital to maim any person; and
     they enacted, that those criminals, who had assaulted
     Coventry, should be incapable of receiving a pardon from the
     crown.
The commons passed another bill, for laying a duty on tobacco, Scotch salt, glasses, and some other commodities. Against this bill the merchants of London appeared by petition before the house of lords. The lords entered into their reasons, and began to make amendments on the bill sent up by the commons. This attempt was highly resented by the lower house as an encroachment on the right, which they pretended to possess alone, of granting money to the crown. Many remonstrances passed between the two houses; and by their altercations the king was obliged to prorogue the parliament; and he thereby lost the money which was intended him.
1671
This is the last time that the peers have revived any pretensions of that nature. Ever since, the privilege of the commons, in all other places except in the house of peers, has passed for uncontroverted.
There was another private affair transacted about this time, by which the king was as much exposed to the imputation of a capricious lenity, as he was here blamed for unnecessary severity. Blood, a disbanded officer of the protector's, had been engaged in the conspiracy for raising an insurrection in Ireland; and on account of this crime, he himself had been attainted, and some of his accomplices capitally punished. The daring villain meditated revenge upon Ormond, the lord lieutenant. Having by artifice drawn off the duke's footmen, he attacked his coach in the night time, as it drove along St. James's Street in London; and he made himself master of his person. He might here have finished the crime, had he not meditated refinements in his vengeance: he was resolved to hang the duke of Tyburn and for that purpose bound him and mounted him on horseback behind one of his companions. They were advanced a good way into the fields, when the duke, making efforts for his liberty, threw himself to the ground, and brought down with him the assassin to whom he was fastened. They were struggling together in the mire, when Ormond's servants, whom the alarm had reached, came and saved him. Blood and his companions, firing their pistols in a hurry at the duke, rode off, and saved themselves by means of the darkness.
Buckingham was at first, with some appearances of reason, suspected to be the author of this attempt. His profligate character, and his enmity against Ormond, exposed him to that imputation; Ossory soon after came to court, and seeing Buckingham stand by the king, his color rose, and he could not forbear expressing himself to this purpose: "My lord, I know well that you are at the bottom of this late attempt upon my father: but I give you warning; if by any means he come to a violent end, I shall not be at a loss to know the author: I shall consider you as the assassin: I shall treat you as such; and wherever I meet you, I shall pistol you, though you stood behind the king's chair; and I tell it you in his majesty's presence, that you may be sure I shall not fail of performance."[*] If there was here any indecorum, it was easily excused in a generous youth, when his father's life was exposed to danger.
     * Carte's Ormond, vol. ii. p. 225.
A little after, Blood formed a design of carrying off the crown and regalia from the Tower; a design to which he was prompted, as well by the surprising boldness of the enterprise, as by the views of profit. He was near succeeding. He had bound and wounded Edwards, the keeper of the jewel-office, and had gotten out of the Tower with his prey; but was overtaken and seized, with some of his associates. One of them was known to have been concerned in the attempt upon Ormond; and Blood was immediately concluded to be the ring-leader. When questioned, he frankly avowed the enterprise; but refused to tell his accomplices. "The fear of death," he said, "should never engage him either to deny a guilt or betray a friend." All these extraordinary circumstances made him the general subject of conversation; and the king was moved by an idle curiosity to see and speak with a person so noted for his courage and his crimes. Blood might now esteem himself secure of pardon; and he wanted not address to improve the opportunity. He told Charles, that he had been engaged, with others, in a design to kill him with a carabine above Battersea, where his majesty often went to bathe: that the cause of this resolution was the severity exercised over the consciences of the godly, in restraining the liberty of their religious assemblies: that when he had taken his stand among the reeds, full of these bloody resolutions, he found his heart checked with an awe of majesty; and he not only relented himself, but diverted his associates from their purpose: that he had long ago brought himself to an entire indifference about life, which he now gave for lost; yet could he not forbear warning the king of the danger which might attend his execution: that his associates had bound themselves by the strictest oaths to revenge the death of any of the confederacy; and that no precaution or power could secure any one from the effects of their desperate resolutions.
Whether these considerations excited fear or admiration in the king, they confirmed his resolution of granting a pardon to Blood; but he thought it a point of decency first to obtain the duke of Ormond's consent. Arlington came to Ormond in the king's name, and desired that he would not prosecute Blood, for reasons which he was commanded to give him. The duke replied, that his majesty's commands were the only reason that could be given, and being sufficient, he might therefore spare the rest. Charles carried his kindness to Blood still further: he granted him an estate of five hundred pounds a year in Ireland; he encouraged his attendance about his person; he showed him great countenance; and many applied to him for promoting their pretensions at court. And while old Edwards, who had bravely ventured his life, and had been wounded, in defending the crown and regalia, was forgotten and neglected, this man, who deserved only to be stared at and detested as a monster, became a kind of favorite.
Errors of this nature in private life have often as bad an influence as miscarriages in which the public is more immediately concerned. Another incident happened this year, which infused a general displeasure, and still greater apprehensions, into all men. The duchess of York died; and in her last sickness, she made open profession of the Romish religion, and finished her life in that communion. This put an end to that thin disguise which the duke had hitherto worn and he now openly declared his conversion to the church of Rome. Unaccountable terrors of Popery, ever since the accession of the house of Stuart, had prevailed throughout the nation; but these had formerly been found so groundless, and had been employed to so many bad purposes, that surmises of this nature were likely to meet with the less credit among all men of sense; and nothing but the duke's imprudent bigotry could have convinced the whole nation of his change of religion. Popery, which had hitherto been only a hideous spectre, was now become a real ground of terror being openly and zealously embraced by the heir to the crown a prince of industry and enterprise; while the king himself was not entirely free from like suspicions.
It is probable that the new alliance with France inspired the duke with the courage to make open profession of his religion, and rendered him more careless of the affections and esteem of the English. This alliance became every day more apparent. Temple was declared to be no longer ambassador to the states, and Downing, whom the Dutch regarded as the inveterate enemy of their republic, was sent over in his stead. A ground of quarrel was sought by means of a yacht, despatched for Lady Temple. The captain sailed through the Dutch fleet, which lay on their own coasts; and he had orders to make them strike, to fire on them, and to persevere till they should return his fire. The Dutch admiral, Van Ghent, surprised at this bravado, came on board the yacht, and expressed his willingness to pay respect to the British flag, according to former practice: but that a fleet on their own coasts should strike to a single vessel, and that not a ship of war, was, he said, such an innovation, that he durst not without express orders agree to it. The captain, thinking it dangerous, as well as absurd, to renew firing in the midst of the Dutch fleet, continued his course; and for that neglect of orders was committed to the Tower.
This incident, however, furnished Downing with a new article to increase those vain pretences on which it was purposed to ground the intended rupture. The English court delayed several months before they complained; lest, if they had demanded satisfaction more early, the Dutch might have had time to grant it. Even when Downing delivered his memorial, he was bound by his instructions not to accept of any satisfaction after a certain number of days: a very imperious manner of negotiating, and impracticable in Holland, where the forms of the republic render delays absolutely unavoidable. An answer, however, though refused by Downing, was sent over to London; with an ambassador extraordinary, who had orders to use every expedient that might give satisfaction to the court of England. That court replied, that the answer of the Hollanders was ambiguous and obscure; but they would not specify the articles or expressions which were liable to that objection. The Dutch ambassador desired the English ministry to draw the answer in what terms they pleased; and he engaged to sign it: the English ministry replied, that it was not their business to draw papers for the Dutch. The ambassador brought them the draught of an article, and asked them whether it were satisfactory: the English answered, that when he had signed and delivered it, they would tell him their mind concerning it. The Dutchman resolved to sign it at a venture; and on his demanding a new audience, an hour was appointed for that purpose: but when he attended, the English refused to enter upon business, and told him that the season for negotiating was now past.[*]
     * England's Appeal, p. 22. This year, on the 12th of
     November, died, in his retreat, and in the sixtieth year of
     his age, Thomas Lord Fairfax, who performed many great
     actions without being a memorable personage, and allowed
     himself to be carried into many criminal enterprises with
     the best and most upright intentions. His daughter and heir
     was married to George Villiers, duke of Buckingham.
1672
Long and frequent prorogations were made of the parliament; lest the houses should declare themselves with vigor against counsels so opposite to the inclination as well as interests of the public. Could we suppose that Charles, in his alliance against Holland, really meant the good of his people, that measure must pass for an extraordinary, nay, a romantic strain of patriotism, which could lead him, in spite of all difficulties, and even in spite of themselves, to seek the welfare of the nation. But every step which he took in this affair became a proof to all men of penetration, that the present war was intended against the religion and liberties of his own subjects, even more than against the Dutch themselves. He now acted in every thing as if he were already an absolute monarch, and was never more to lie under the control of national assemblies.
The long prorogations of parliament, if they freed the king from the importunate remonstrances of that assembly, were, however, attended with this inconvenience, that no money could be procured to carry on the military preparations against Holland. Under pretence of maintaining the triple league, which at that very time he had firmly resolved to break, Charles had obtained a large supply from the commons; but this money was soon exhausted by debts and expenses. France had stipulated to pay two hundred thousand pounds a year during the war; but that supply was inconsiderable, compared to the immense charge of the English navy. It seemed as yet premature to venture on levying money without consent of parliament; since the power of taxing themselves was the privilege of which the English were with reason particularly jealous. Some other resource must be fallen on. The king had declared, that the staff of treasurer was ready for any one that could find an expedient for supplying the present necessities. Shaftesbury dropped a hint to Clifford, which the latter immediately seized, and carried to the king, who granted him the promised reward, together with a peerage. This expedient was the shutting up of the exchequer and the retaining of all the payments which should be made into it.
It had been usual for the bankers to carry their money to the exchequer, and to advance it upon security of the funds, by which they were afterwards reimbursed when the money was levied on the public. The bankers by this traffic got eight, sometimes ten per cent., for sums which either had been consigned to them without interest, or which they had borrowed at six per cent.; profits which they dearly paid for by this egregious breach of public faith. The measure was so suddenly taken, that none had warning of the danger. A general confusion prevailed in the city, followed by the ruin of many. The bankers stopped payment; the merchants could answer no bills; distrust took place every where, with a stagnation of commerce, by which the public was universally affected. And men, full of dismal apprehensions, asked each other what must be the scope of those mysterious counsels, whence the parliament and all men of honor were excluded, and which commenced by the forfeiture of public credit, and an open violation of the most solemn engagements, both foreign and domestic.
Another measure of the court contains something laudable, when considered in itself; but if we reflect on the motive whence it proceeded, as well as the time when it was embraced, it will furnish a strong proof of the arbitrary and dangerous counsels pursued at present by the king and his ministry. Charles resolved to make use of his supreme power in ecclesiastical matters; a power, he said, which was not only inherent in him, but which had been recognized by several acts of parliament. By virtue of this authority, he issued a proclamation, suspending the penal laws enacted against all nonconformists or recusants whatsoever; and granting to the Protestant dissenters the public exercise of their religion, to the Catholics the exercise of it in private houses. A fruitless experiment of this kind, opposed by the parliament, and retracted by the king, had already been made a few years after the restoration; but Charles expected that the parliament, whenever it should meet, would now be tamed to greater submission, and would no longer dare to control his measures. Meanwhile the dissenters, the most inveterate enemies of the court, were mollified by these indulgent maxims: and the Catholics, under their shelter, enjoyed more liberty than the laws had hitherto allowed them.
At the same time, the act of navigation was suspended by royal will and pleasure; a measure which, though a stretch of prerogative, seemed useful to commerce, while all the seamen were employed on board the royal navy. A like suspension had been granted during the first Dutch war, and was not much remarked; because men had at that time entertained less jealousy of the crown. A proclamation was also issued, containing rigorous clauses in favor of pressing; another full of menaces against those who presumed to speak undutifully of his majesty's measures, and even against those who heard such discourse, unless they informed in due time against the offenders; another against importing or vending any sort of painted earthenware, "except those of China, upon pain of being grievously fined, and suffering the utmost punishment which might be lawfully inflicted upon contemners of his majesty's royal authority." An army had been levied; and it was found that discipline could not be enforced without the exercise of martial law, which was therefore established by order of council, though contrary to the petition of right. All these acts of power, how little important soever in themselves, savored strongly of arbitrary government; and were nowise suitable to that legal administration which the parliament, after such violent convulsions and civil wars, had hoped to have established in the kingdom.
It may be worth remarking, that the lord keeper refused to affix the great seal to the declaration for suspending the penal laws; and was for that reason, though under other pretences removed from his office. Shaftesbury was made chancellor in his place; and thus another member of the cabal received the reward of his counsels.
Foreign transactions kept pace with these domestic occurrences. An attempt, before the declaration of war, was made on the Dutch Smyrna fleet by Sir Robert Holmes. This fleet consisted of seventy sail, valued at a million and a half; and the hopes of seizing so rich a prey had been a great motive for engaging Charles in the present war, and he had considered that capture as a principal resource for supporting his military enterprises. Holmes, with nine frigates and three yachts, had orders to go on this command; and he passed Sprague in the Channel, who was returning with a squadron from a cruize in the Mediterranean. Sprague informed him of the near approach of the Hollanders; and had not Holmes, from a desire of engrossing the honor and profit of the enterprise, kept the secret of his orders, the conjunction of these squadrons had rendered the success infallible. When Holmes approached the Dutch, he put on an amicable appearance, and invited the admiral Van Ness, who commanded the convoy, to come on board of him: one of his captains gave a like insidious invitation to the rear-admiral. But these officers were on their guard. They had received an intimation of the hostile intentions of the English, and had already put all the ships of war and merchantmen in an excellent posture of defence. Three times were they valiantly assailed by the English; and as often did they valiantly defend themselves. In the third attack, one of the Dutch ships of war was taken; and three or four of their most inconsiderable merchantmen fell into the enemies' hands. The rest, fighting with skill and courage, continued their course; and, favored by a mist, got safe into their own harbors. This attempt is denominated perfidious and piratical by the Dutch writers, and even by many of the English. It merits at least the appellation of irregular; and as it had been attended with bad success, it brought double shame upon the contrivers. The English ministry endeavored to apologize for the action, by pretending that it was a casual rencounter, arising from the obstinacy of the Dutch in refusing the honors of the flag: but the contrary was so well known, that even Holmes himself had not the assurance to persist in this asseveration.
Till this incident, the states, notwithstanding all the menaces and preparations of the English, never believed them thoroughly in earnest; and had always expected, that the affair would terminate, either in some demands of money, or in some proposals for the advancement of the prince of Orange. The French themselves had never much reckoned on assistance from England; and scarcely could believe that their ambitious projects would, contrary to every maxim of honor and policy, be forwarded by that power which was most interested and most able to oppose them. But Charles was too far advanced to retreat. He immediately issued a declaration of war against the Dutch; and surely reasons more false and frivolous never were employed to justify a flagrant violation of treaty. Some complaints are there made of injuries done to the East India Company, which yet that company disavowed: the detention of some English in Surinam is mentioned; though it appears that these persons had voluntarily remained there: the refusal of a Dutch fleet on their own coasts to strike to an English yacht, is much aggravated: and to piece up all these pretensions, some abusive pictures are mentioned, and represented as a ground of quarrel. The Dutch were long at a loss what to make of this article, till it was discovered that a portrait of Cornelius de Wit, brother to the pensionary, painted by order of certain magistrates of Dort, and hung up in a chamber of the town-house, had given occasion to the complaint. In the perspective of this portrait, the painter had drawn some ships on fire in a harbor. This was construed to be Chatham, where De Wit had really distinguished himself, and had acquired honor; but little did he imagine that, while the insult itself committed in open war, had so long been forgiven, the picture of it should draw such severe vengeance upon his country. The conclusion of this manifesto, where the king still professed his resolution of adhering to the triple alliance, was of a piece with the rest of it.
Lewis's declaration of war contained more dignity, if undisguised violence and injustice could merit that appellation. He pretended only, that the behavior of the Hollanders had been such, that it did not consist with his glory any longer to bear.
That monarch's preparations were in great forwardness; and his ambition was flattered with the most promising views of success. Sweden was detached from the triple league; the bishop of Munster was engaged by the payment of subsidies to take part with France; the elector of Cologne had entered into the same alliance; and having consigned Bonne and other towns into the hands of Lewis, magazines were there erected; and it was from that quarter that France purposed to invade the United Provinces. The standing force of that kingdom amounted to a hundred and eighty thousand men; and with more than half of this great army was the French king now approaching to the Dutch frontiers. The order, economy, and industry of Colbert, equally subservient to the ambition of the prince and happiness of the people, furnished unexhausted treasures: these, employed by the unrelenting vigilance of Louvois, supplied every military preparation, and facilitated all the enterprises of the army: Condé, Turenne, seconded by Luxembourg, Crequi, and the most renowned generals of the age, conducted this army, and by their conduct and reputation inspired courage into every one. The monarch himself, surrounded with a brave nobility, animated his troops by the prospect of reward, or, what was more valued, by the hopes of his approbation. The fatigues of war gave no interruption to gayety: its dangers furnished matter for glory; and in no enterprise did the genius of that gallant and polite people ever break out with more distinguished lustre.
Though De Wit's intelligence in foreign courts was not equal to the vigilance of his domestic administration, he had long before received many surmises of this fatal confederacy; but he prepared not for defence so early, or with such industry, as the danger required. A union of England with France was evidently, he saw, destructive to the interests of the former kingdom; and therefore, overlooking or ignorant of the humors and secret views of Charles, he concluded it impossible that such pernicious projects could ever really be carried into execution. Secure in this fallacious reasoning, he allowed the republic to remain too long in that defenceless situation into which many concurring accidents had conspired to throw her.
By a continued and successful application to commerce, the people were become unwarlike, and confided entirely for their defence in that mercenary army which they maintained. After the treaty of Westphalia, the states, trusting to their peace with Spain, and their alliance with France, had broken a great part of this army, and did not support with sufficient vigilance the discipline of the troops which remained. When the aristocratic party prevailed, it was thought prudent to dismiss many of the old, experienced officers, who were devoted to the house of Orange; and their place was supplied by raw youths, the sons or kinsmen of burgomasters, by whose interest the party was supported. These new officers, relying on the credit of their friends and family, neglected their military duty; and some of them, it is said, were even allowed to serve by deputies, to whom they assigned a small part of their pay. During the war with England, all the forces of that nation had been disbanded: Lewis's invasion of Flanders, followed by the triple league, occasioned the dismission of the French regiments: and the place of these troops, which had ever had a chief share in the honor and fortune of all the wars in the Low Countries, had not been supplied by any new levies.
De Wit, sensible of this dangerous situation, and alarmed by the reports which came from all quarters, exerted himself to supply those defects to which it was not easy of a sudden to provide a suitable remedy. But every proposal which he could make met with opposition from the Orange party, now become extremely formidable. The long and uncontrolled administration of this statesman had begotten envy; the present incidents roused up his enemies and opponents, who ascribed to his misconduct alone the bad situation of the republic; and above all, the popular affection to the young prince, which had so long been held in violent constraint, and had thence acquired new accession of force, began to display itself, and to threaten the commonwealth with some great convulsion. William III., prince of Orange, was in the twenty-second year of his age, and gave strong indications of those great qualities by which his life was afterwards so much distinguished. De Wit himself, by giving him an excellent education, and instructing him in all the principles of government and sound policy, had generously contributed to make his rival formidable. Dreading the precarious situation of his own party, he was always resolved, he said, by conveying to the prince the knowledge of affairs, to render him capable of serving his country, if any future emergence should ever throw the administration into his hands. The conduct of William had hitherto been extremely laudable. Notwithstanding his powerful alliances with England and Brandenburgh, he had expressed his resolution of depending entirely on the states for his advancement; and the whole tenor of his behavior suited extremely the genius of that people. Silent and thoughtful given to hear and to inquire; of a sound and steady understanding; firm in what he once resolved, or once denied; strongly intent on business, little on pleasure; by these virtues he engaged the attention of all men And the people, sensible that they owed their liberty and very existence to his family, and remembering that his great-uncle Maurice had been able, even in more early youth, to defend them against the exorbitant power of Spain, were desirous of raising this prince to all the authority of his ancestors; and hoped, from his valor and conduct alone, to receive protection against those imminent dangers with which they were at present threatened.
While these two powerful factions struggled for superiority, every scheme for defence was opposed, every project retarded What was determined with difficulty, was executed without vigor. Levies, indeed, were made, and the army completed to seventy thousand men;[*] the prince was appointed both general and admiral of the commonwealth, and the whole military power was put into his hands. But new troops could not of a sudden acquire discipline and experience: and the partisans of the prince were still unsatisfied, as long as the perpetual edict (so it was called) remained in force; by which he was excluded from the stadtholdership, and from all share in the civil administration.
     * Temple, vol. i. p. 75.
It had always been the maxim of De Wit's party to cultivate naval affairs with extreme care, and to give the fleet a preference above the army, which they represented as the object of an unreasonable partiality la the princes of Orange. The two violent wars which had of late been waged with England, had exercised the valor and improved the skill of the sailors. And, above all, De Ruyter, the greatest sea commander of the age, was closely connected with the Lovestein party; and every one was disposed, with confidence and alacrity, to obey him. The equipment of the fleet was therefore hastened by De Wit; in hopes that, by striking at first a successful blow, he might inspire courage into the dismayed states, and support his own declining authority. He seems to have been, in a peculiar manner, incensed against the English; and he resolved to take revenge on them for their conduct, of which, he thought, he himself and his country had such reason to complain. By ihe offer of a close alliance for mutual defence, they had seduced the republic to quit the alliance of France; but no sooner had she embraced these measures, than they formed leagues for her destruction, with that very power which they had treacherously engaged her to offend. In the midst of full peace, nay, during an intimate union, they attacked her commerce, her only means of subsistence; and, moved by shameful rapacity, had invaded that property which, from a reliance on their faith, they had hoped to find unprotected and defenceless. Contrary to their own manifest interest, as well as to their honor, they still retained a malignant resentment for her successful conclusion of the former war; a war which had at first sprung from their own wanton insolence and ambition. To repress so dangerous an enemy would, De Wit imagined, give peculiar pleasure, and contribute to the future security of his country, whose prosperity was so much the object of general envy.
Actuated by like motives and views, De Ruyter put to sea with a formidable fleet, consisting of ninety-one ships of war and forty-four fireships. Cornelius De Wit was on board, as deputy from the states. They sailed in quest of the English, who were under the command of the duke of York, and who had already joined the French under Mareschal D'Etrées. The combined fleets lay at Solebay in a very negligent posture, and Sandwich, being an experienced officer, had given the duke warning of the danger, but received, it is said, such an answer as intimated that there was more of caution than of courage in his apprehensions. Upon the appearance of the enemy, every one ran to his post with precipitation; and many ships were obliged to cut their cables, in order to be in readiness. Sandwich commanded the van; and though determined to conquer or to perish, he so tempered his courage with prudence, that the whole fleet was visibly indebted to him for its safety. He hastened out of the bay, where it had been easy for De Ruyter with his fireships to have destroyed the combined fleets, which were crowded together; and by this wise measure, he gave time to the duke of York, who commanded the main body, and to Mareschal D'Etrées, admiral of the rear, to disengage themselves. He himself meanwhile rushed into battle with the Hollanders; and by presenting himself to every danger, had drawn upon him all the bravest of the enemy, He killed Van Ghent, a Dutch admiral, and beat off his ship: he sunk another ship, which ventured to lay him aboard: he sunk three fireships, which endeavored to grapple with him: and though his vessel was torn in pieces with shot, and of a thousand men she contained, near six hundred were laid dead upon the deck, he continued still to thunder with all his artillery in the midst of the enemy. But another fireship, more fortunate than the preceding, having laid hold of his vessel, her destruction was now inevitable. Warned by Sir Edward Haddock, his captain, he refused to make his escape; and bravely embraced death, as a shelter from that ignominy which a rash expression of the duke's, he thought, had thrown upon him.
During this fierce engagement with Sandwich, De Ruyter remained not inactive. He attacked the duke of York, and fought him with such fury for above two hours, that of two and thirty actions in which that admiral had been engaged, he declared this combat to be the most obstinately disputed. The duke's ship was so shattered, that he was obliged to leave her, and remove his flag to another. His squadron was overpowered with numbers, till Sir Joseph Jordan, who had succeeded to Sandwich's command, came to his assistance; and the fight, being more equally balanced, was continued till night, when the Dutch retired, and were not followed by the English. The loss sustained by the fleets of the two maritime powers was nearly equal, if it did not rather fall more heavy on the English. The French suffered very little, because they had scarcely been engaged in the action; and as this backwardness is not their national character, it was concluded, that they had received secret orders to spare their ships, while the Dutch and English should weaken each other by their mutual animosity. Almost all the other actions during the present war tended to confirm this suspicion.
It might be deemed honorable for the Dutch to have fought with some advantage the combined fleets of two such powerful nations; but nothing less than a complete victory could serve the purpose of De Wit, or save his country from those calamities which from every quarter threatened to overwhelm her. He had expected, that the French would make their attack on the side of Maestricht, which was well fortified, and provided with a good garrison; but Lewis, taking advantage of his alliance with Cologne, resolved to invade the enemy on that frontier, which he knew to be more feeble and defenceless. The armies of that elector, and those of Munster, appeared on the other side of the Rhine, and divided the force and attention of the states. The Dutch troops, too weak to defend so extensive a frontier, were scattered into so many towns, that no considerable body remained in the field and a strong garrison was scarcely to be found in any fortress Lewis passed the Meuse at Viset; and laying siege to Orsoi, a town of the elector of Brandenburgh's, but garrisoned by the Dutch, he carried it in three days. He divided his army, and invested at once Burik, Wesel, Emerik, and Rhimberg, four places regularly fortified, and not unprovided with troops: in a few days, all these places were surrendered. A general astonishment had seized the Hollanders, from the combination of such powerful princes against the republic; and nowhere was resistance made suitable to the ancient glory or present greatness of the state. Governors without experience commanded troops without discipline; and despair had universally extinguished that sense of honor, by which alone men in such dangerous extremities can be animated to a valorous defence.
Lewis advanced to the banks of the Rhine, which he prepared to pass. To all the other calamities of the Dutch was added the extreme drought of the season, by which the greatest rivers were much diminished, and in some places rendered fordable. The French cavalry, animated by the presence of their prince, full of impetuous courage, but ranged in exact order, flung themselves into the river: the infantry passed in boats: a few regiments of Dutch appeared on the other side, who were unable to make resistance. And thus was executed without danger, but not without glory, the passage of the Rhine so much celebrated at that time by the flattery of the French courtiers, and transmitted to posterity by the more durable flattery of their poets.
Each success added courage to the conquerors, and struck the vanquished with dismay. The prince of Orange, though prudent beyond his age, was but newly advanced to the command, unacquainted with the army, unknown to them; and all men, by reason of the violent factions which prevailed, were uncertain of the authority on which they must depend. It was expected that the fort of Skink, famous for the sieges which it had formerly sustained, would make some resistance; but it yielded to Turenne in a few days. The same general made himself master of Arnheim, Knotzembourg, and Nimeguen, as soon as he appeared before them. Doesbourg at the same time opened its gates to Lewis: soon after, Harderwic, Amersfort, Campen, Rhenen, Viane, Elbe g, Zwol. Cuilemberg, Wageninguen, Lochem, Woerden, fe into the enemy's hands. Groll and Deventer surrendered to the mareschal Luxembourg, who commanded the troops of Munster. And every hour brought to the states news of the rapid progress of the French, and of the cowardly defence of their own garrisons.
The prince of Orange, with his small and discouraged army, retired into the province of Holland; where he expected, from the natural strength of the country, since all human art and courage failed, to be able to make some resistance. The town and province of Utrecht sent deputies, and surrendered themselves to Lewis Naerden, a place within three leagues of Amsterdam, was seized by the marquis of Rochfort; and had he pushed on to Muyden, he had easily gotten possession of it. Fourteen stragglers of his army having appeared before the gates of that town, the magistrates sent them the keys; but a servant maid, who was alone in the castle, having raised the drawbridge, kept them from taking possession of that fortress. The magistrates afterwards, finding the party so weak, made them drunk, and took the keys from them. Muyden is so near to Amsterdam, thai its cannon may infest the ships which enter that city.
Lewis with a splendid court made a solemn entry into Utrecht, full of glory, because every where attended with success; though more owing to the cowardice and misconduct of his enemies, than to his own valor or prudence. Three provinces were already in his hands, Guelderland, Overyssel, and Utrecht; Groninghen was threatened; Friezeland was exposed: the only difficulty lay in Holland and Zealand; and the monarch deliberated concerning the proper measures for reducing them. Condé and Turenne exhorted him to dismantle all the towns which he had taken, except a few; and fortifying his main army by the garrisons, put himself in a condition of pushing his conquests. Louvois, hoping that the other provinces, weak and dismayed, would prove an easy prey, advised him to keep possession of places which might afterwards serve to retain the people in subjection. His counsel was followed though it was found, soon after, to have been the most impolitic.
Meanwhile the people throughout the republic, instead of collecting a noble indignation against the haughty conqueror discharged their rage upon their own unhappy minister, on whose prudence and integrity every one formerly bestowed the merited applause. The bad condition of the armies was laid to his charge: the ill choice of governors was ascribed to his partiality: as instances of cowardice multiplied, treachery was suspected; and his former connections with France being remembered, the populace believed, that he and his partisans had now combined to betray them to their most mortal enemy. The prince of Orange, notwithstanding his youth and inexperience, was looked on as the only savior of the state; and men were violently driven by their fears into his party, to which they had always been led by favor and inclination.
Amsterdam alone seemed to retain some courage; and by forming a regular plan of defence, endeavored to infuse spirit into the other cities. The magistrates obliged the burgesses to keep a strict watch: the populace, whom want of employment might engage to mutiny, were maintained by regular pay, and armed for the defence of the public. Some ships which lay useless in the harbor, were refitted, and stationed to guard the city; and the sluices being opened, the neighboring country, without regard to the damage sustained, was laid under water. All the province followed the example, and scrupled not, in this extremity, to restore to the sea those fertile fields which with great art and expense had been won from it.
The states were assembled to consider whether any means were left to save the remains of their lately flourishing and now distressed commonwealth. Though they were surrounded with waters, which barred all access to the enemy, their deliberations were not conducted with that tranquillity which could alone suggest measures proper to extricate them from their present difficulties. The nobles gave their vote, that, provided their religion, liberty, and sovereignty could be saved, every thing else should without scruple be sacrificed to the conqueror. Eleven towns concurred in the same sentiments. Amsterdam singly declared against all treaty with insolent and triumphant enemies: but notwithstanding that opposition, ambassadors were despatched to implore the pity of the two combined monarchs. It was resolved to sacrifice to Lewis, Maestricht and all the frontier towns which lay without the bounds of the seven provinces; and to pay him a large sum for the charges of the war.
Lewis deliberated with his ministers, Louvois and Pomponne, concerning the measures which he should embrace in the present emergence; and fortunately for Europe, he still preferred the violent counsels of the former. He offered to evacuate his conquests, on condition that all duties lately imposed on the commodities of France should be taken off: that the public exercise of the Romish religion should be permitted in the United Provinces; the churches shared with the Catholics; and their priests maintained by appointments from the states: that all the frontier towns of the republic should be yielded to him, together with Nimeguen, Skink, Knotzembourg, and that part of Guelderland which lay on the other side of the Rhine; as likewise the Isle of Bommel, that of Voorn, the fortress of St. Andrew, those of Louvestein and Crevecoeur: that the states should pay him the sum of twenty millions of livres for the charges of the war: that they should every year send him a solemn embassy, and present him with a golden medal, as an acknowledgment that they owed to him the preservation of that liberty which, by the assistance of his predecessors, they had formerly acquired: and that they should give entire satisfaction to the king of England: and he allowed them but ten days for the acceptance of these demands.
The ambassadors sent to London met with still worse reception: no minister was allowed to treat with them; and they were retained in a kind of confinement. But notwithstanding this rigorous conduct of the court, the presence of the Dutch ambassadors excited the sentiments of tender compassion, and even indignation, among the people in general, especially among those who could foresee the aim and result of those dangerous counsels. The two most powerful monarchs, they said, in Europe, the one by land, the other by sea, have, contrary to the faith of solemn treaties, combined to exterminate an illustrious republic: what a dismal prospect does their success afford to the neighbors of the one, and to the subjects of the other? Charles had formed the triple league, in order to restrain the power of France; a sure proof that he does not now err from ignorance. He had courted and obtained the applauses of his people by that wise measure: as he now adopts contrary counsels, he must surely expect by their means to render himself independent of his people, whose sentiments are become so indifferent to him. During the entire submission of the nation, and dutiful behavior of the parliament, dangerous projects, without provocation, are formed to reduce them to subjection; and all the foreign interests of the people are sacrificed, in order the more surely to bereave them of their domestic liberties. Lest any instance of freedom should remain within their view, the United Province; the real barrier of England, must be abandoned to the most dangerous enemy of England; and by a universal combination of tyranny against laws and liberty, all mankind, who have retained in any degree their precious, though hitherto precarious birthrights, are forever to submit to slavery and injustice.
Though the fear of giving umbrage to his confederate had engaged Charles to treat the Dutch ambassadors with such rigor, he was not altogether without uneasiness on account of the rapid and unexpected progress of the French arms. Were Holland entirely conquered, its whole commerce and naval force, he perceived, must become an accession to France; the Spanish Low Countries must soon follow; and Lewis, now independent of his ally, would no longer think it his interest to support him against his discontented subjects. Charles, though he never carried his attention to very distant consequences, could not but foresee these obvious events; and though incapable of envy or jealousy, he was touched with anxiety, when he found every thing yield to the French arms, while such vigorous resistance was made to his own. He soon dismissed the Dutch ambassadors, lest they should cabal among his subjects, who bore them great favor: but he sent over Buckingham and Arlington, and soon after Lord Halifax, to negotiate anew with the French king, in the present prosperous situation of that monarch's affairs.
These ministers passed through Holland; and as they were supposed to bring peace to the distressed republic, they were every where received with the loudest acclamations. "God bless the king of England! God bless the prince of Orange! Confusion to the states!" This was every where the cry of the populace. The ambassadors had several conferences with the states and the prince of Orange; but made no reasonable advances towards an accommodation. They went to Utrecht where they renewed the league with Lewis, and agreed, that neither of the kings should make peace with Holland but by common consent. They next gave in their pretensions, of which the following are the principal articles: that the Dutch should give up the honor of the flag, without the least reserve or limitation nor should whole fleets, even on the coast of Holland, refuse to strike or lower their topsails to the smallest ship carrying the British flag: that all persons guilty of treason against the king, or of writing seditious libels, should, on complaint, be banished forever the dominions of the states; that the Dutch should pay the king a million sterling towards the charges of the war, together with ten thousand pounds a year, for permission to fish on the British seas: that they should share the Indian trade with the English: that the prince of Orange and his descendants should enjoy the sovereignty of the United Provinces; at least, that they should be invested with the dignities of stadtholder, admiral, and general, in as ample a manner as had ever been enjoyed by any of his ancestors: and that the Isle of Walcheren, the city and castle of Sluis, together with the isles of Cadsant, Gorée, and Vorne, should be put into the king's hands, as a security for the performance of articles.
The terms proposed by Lewis bereaved the republic of all security against any invasion by land from France: those demanded by Charles exposed them equally to an invasion by sea from England; and when both were united, they appeared absolutely intolerable, and reduced the Hollanders, who saw no means of defence, to the utmost despair. What extremely augmented their distress, were the violent factions with which they continued to be every where agitated. De Wit, too pertinacious in defence of his own system of liberty, while the very being of the commonwealth was threatened, still persevered in opposing the repeal of the perpetual edict, now become the object of horror to the Dutch populace. Their rage at last broke all bounds, and bore every thing before it. They rose in an insurrection at Dort, and by force constrained their burgomasters to sign the repeal so much demanded. This proved a signal of a general revolt throughout all the provinces.
At Amsterdam, the Hague, Middlebourg, Rotterdam, the people flew to arms, and trampling under foot the authority of their magistrates, obliged them to submit to the prince of Orange. They expelled from their office such as displeased them: they required the prince to appoint others in their place; and, agreeably to the proceedings of the populace in all ages, provided they might wreak their vengeance on their superiors, they expressed great indifference for the protection of their civil liberties.
The superior talents and virtues of De Wit made him on this occasion the chief object of envy, and exposed him to the utmost rage of popular prejudice. Four assassins, actuated by no other motive than mistaken zeal, had assaulted him in the streets; and after giving him many wounds, had left him for dead. One of them was punished: the others were never questioned for the crime. His brother Cornelius, who had behaved with prudence and courage on board the fleet, was obliged by sickness to come ashore; and he was now confined to his house at Dort. Some assassins broke in upon him; and it was with the utmost difficulty that his family and servants could repel their violence. At Amsterdam, the house of the brave De Ruyter, the sole resource of the distressed commonwealth, was surrounded by the enraged populace; and his wife and children were for some time exposed to the most imminent danger.
One Tichelaer, a barber, a man noted for infamy, accused Cornelius de Wit of endeavoring by bribes to engage him in the design of poisoning the prince of Orange. The accusation, though attended with the most improbable, and even absurd circumstances, was greedily received by the credulous multitude; and Cornelius was cited before a court of judicature. The judges, either blinded by the same prejudices, or not daring to oppose the popular torrent, condemned him to suffer the question. This man, who had bravely served his country in war, and who had been invested with the highest dignities, was delivered into the hands of the executioner, and torn in pieces by the most inhuman torments. Amidst the severe agonies which he endured, he still made protestations of his innocence, and frequently repeated an ode of Horace, which contained sentiments suited to his deplorable condition:—
Justum et tenacem propositi virum, etc.[*]
     * Which may be thus translated:—

     The man whose mind, on virtue bent, Pursues some greatly
     good intent, With undiverted aim, Serene beholds the angry
     crowd; Nor can their clamors, fierce and loud, His stubborn
     honor tame.

     Not the proud tyrant's fiercest threat, Nor storms, that
     from their dark retreat The lawless surges wake; Not Jove's
     dread bolt, that shakes the pole, The firmer purpose of his
     soul With all its power can shake.

     Should nature's frame in ruins fall, And chaos o'er the
     sinking ball Resume primeval sway, His courage chance and
     fate defies, Nor feels the wreck of earth and skies Obstruct
     its destined way—BLACKLOCKE
The judges, however, condemned him to lose his offices, and to be banished the commonwealth. The pensionary, who had not been terrified from performing the part of a kind brother and faithful friend during this prosecution, resolved not to desert him on account of the unmerited infamy which was endeavored to be thrown upon him. He came to his brothers prison, determined to accompany him to the place of his exile. The signal was given to the populace. They rose in arms: they broke open the doors of the prison; they pulled out the two brothers; and a thousand hands vied who should first be imbrued in their blood. Even their death did not satiate the brutal rage of the multitude. They exercised on the dead bodies of those virtuous citizens, indignities too shocking to be recited; and till tired with their own fury, they permitted not the friends of the deceased to approach, or to bestow on them the honors of a funeral, silent and unattended.
The massacre of the De Wits put an end for the time to the remains of their party; and all men, from fear, inclination, or prudence, concurred in expressing the most implicit obedience to the prince of Orange. The republic, though half subdued by foreign force, and as yet dismayed by its misfortunes, was now firmly united under one leader, and began to collect the remains of its pristine vigor. William, worthy of that heroic family from which he sprang, adopted sentiments becoming the head of a brave and free people. He bent all his efforts against the public enemy: he sought not against his country any advantages which might be dangerous to civil liberty. Those intolerable conditions demanded by their insolent enemies, he exhorted the states to reject with scorn; and by his advice they put an end to negotiations, which served only to break the courage of their fellow-citizens, and delay the assistance of their allies. He showed them, that the numbers and riches of the people, aided by the advantages of situation, would still be sufficient, if they abandoned not themselves to despair, to resist, at least retard, the progress of their enemies, and preserve the remaining provinces, till the other nations of Europe, sensible of the common danger, could come to their relief. He represented that, as envy at their opulence and liberty had produced this mighty combination against them they would in vain expect by concessions to satisfy foes whose pretensions were as little bounded by moderation as by justice He exhorted them to remember the generous valor of their ancestors, who, yet in the infancy of the state, preferred liberty to every human consideration; and rousing their spirits to an obstinate defence, repelled all the power, riches, and military discipline of Spain. And he professed himself willing to tread in the steps of his illustrious predecessors, and hoped, that as they had honored him with the same affection which their ancestors paid to the former princes of Orange, they would second his efforts with the same constancy and manly fortitude.
The spirit of the young prince infused itself into his hearers. Those who lately entertained thoughts of yielding their necks to subjection, were now bravely determined to resist the haughty victor, and to defend those last remains of their native soil, of which neither the irruptions of Lewis, nor the inundation of waters, had as yet bereaved them. Should even the ground fail them on which they might combat, they were still resolved not to yield the generous strife; but, flying to their settlements in the Indies, erect a new empire in those remote regions, and preserve alive, even in the climates of slavery, that liberty of which Europe was become unworthy. Already they concerted measures for executing this extraordinary resolution; and found that the vessels contained in their harbors could transport above two hundred thousand inhabitants to the East Indies.
The combined princes, finding at last some appearance of opposition, bent all their efforts to seduce the prince of Orange, on whose valor and conduct the fate of the commonwealth entirely depended. The sovereignty of the province of Holland was offered him, and the protection of England and France, to insure him, as well against the invasion of foreign enemies, as the insurrection of his subjects. All proposals were generously rejected; and the prince declared his resolution to retire into Germany, and to pass his life in hunting on his lands there, rather than abandon the liberty of his country, or betray the trust reposed in him. When Buckingham urged the inevitable destruction which hung over the United Provinces, and asked him whether he did not see that the commonwealth was ruined, "There is one certain means," replied the prince, "by which I can be sure never to see my country's ruin: I will die in the last ditch."
The people in Holland had been much incited to espouse the prince's party, by the hopes that the king of England pleased with his nephew's elevation, would abandon those dangerous engagements into which he had entered, and would afford his protection to the distressed republic. But all these hopes were soon found to be fallacious. Charles still persisted in his alliance with France; and the combined fleets approached the coast of Holland with an English army on board, commanded by Count Schomberg. It is pretended that an unusual tide carried them off the coast; and that Providence thus interposed, in an extraordinary manner, to save the republic from the imminent danger to which it was exposed. Very tempestuous weather, it is certain, prevailed all the rest of the season; and the combined fleets either were blown to a distance, or durst not approach a coast which might prove fatal to them. Lewis, finding that his enemies gathered courage behind their inundations, and that no further success was likely for the present to attend his arms, had retired to Versailles.
The other nations of Europe regarded the subjection of Holland as the forerunner of their own slavery, and retained no hopes of defending themselves, should such a mighty accession be made to the already exorbitant power of France. The emperor, though he lay at a distance, and was naturally slow in his undertakings, began to put himself in motion; Brandenburgh showed a disposition to support the states; Spain had sent some forces to their assistance; and by the present efforts of the prince of Orange, and the prospect of relief from their allies, a different face of affairs began already to appear. Groninghen was the first place that stopped the progress of the enemy: the bishop of Munster was repulsed from before that town, and obliged to raise the siege with loss and dishonor. Naerden was attempted by the prince of Orange; but Mareschal Luxembourg, breaking in upon his intrenchments with a sudden irruption, obliged him to abandon the enterprise.
1673
There was no ally on whom the Dutch more relied for assistance, than the parliament of England, which the king's necessities at last obliged him to assemble. The eyes of all men, both abroad and at home, were fixed on this session, which met after prorogations continued for near two years. It was evident how much the king dreaded the assembling of his parliament; and the discontents universally excited by the bold measures entered into, both in foreign and domestic administration, had given but too just foundation for his apprehensions.
The king, however, in his speech, addressed them with all the appearance of cordiality and confidence. He said, that he would have assembled them sooner, had he not been desirous to allow them leisure for attending their private affairs, as well as to give his people respite from taxes and impositions: that since their last meeting, he had been forced into a war, not only just, but necessary; necessary both for the honor and interest of the nation: that in order to have peace at home, while he had war abroad, he had issued his declaration of indulgence to dissenters, and had found many good effects to result from that measure: that he heard of some exceptions which had been taken to this exercise of power; but he would tell them plainly, that he was resolved to stick to his declaration, and would be much offended at any contradiction: and that though a rumor had been spread, as if the new-levied army had been intended to control law and property, he regarded that jealousy as so frivolous, that he was resolved to augment his forces next spring, and did not doubt but they would consider the necessity of them in their supplies. The rest of the business he left to the chancellor.
The chancellor enlarged on the same topics, and added many extraordinary positions of his own. He told them, that the Hollanders were the common enemies of all monarchies, especially that of England, their only competitor for commerce and naval power, and the sole obstacle to their views of attaining a universal empire, as extensive as that of ancient Rome: that, even during their present distress and danger, they were so intoxicated with these ambitious projects, as to slight all treaty, nay, to refuse all cessation of hostilities: that the king, in entering on this war, did no more than prosecute those maxims which had engaged the parliament to advise and approve of the last; and he might therefore safely say, that it was their war: that the states being the eternal enemies of England, both by interest and inclination, the parliament had wisely judged it necessary to extirpate them, and had laid it down as an eternal maxim, that "delenda est Carthago," this hostile government by all means is to be subverted: and that though the Dutch pretended to have assurances that the parliament would furnish no supplies to the king, he was confident that this hope, in which they extremely trusted, would soon fail them.
Before the commons entered upon business, there lay before them an affair, which discovered, beyond a possibility of doubt, the arbitrary projects of the king; and the measures taken upon it, proved that the house was not at present in a disposition to submit to them. It had been the constant, undisputed practice, ever since the parliament in 1604, for the house, in case of any vacancy, to issue out writs for new elections; and the chancellor, who, before that time, had had some precedents in his favor, had ever afterwards abstained from all exercise of that authority. This indeed was one of the first steps which the commons had taken in establishing and guarding their privileges; and nothing could be more requisite than this precaution, in order to prevent the clandestine issuing of writs, and to insure a fair and free election. No one but so desperate a minister as Shaftesbury, who had entered into a regular plan for reducing the people to subjection, could have entertained thoughts of breaking in upon a practice so reasonable and so well established, or could have hoped to succeed in so bold an enterprise. Several members had taken their seats upon irregular writs issued by the chancellor; but the house was no sooner assembled, and the speaker placed in the chair, than a motion was made against them; and the members themselves had the modesty to withdraw. Their election was declared null; and new writs, in the usual form, were issued by the speaker.
The next step taken by the commons had the appearance of some more complaisance; but in reality proceeded from the same spirit of liberty and independence. They entered a resolution, that, in order to supply his majesty's extraordinary occasions, (for that was the expression employed,) they would grant eighteen months' assessment, at the rate of seventy thousand pounds a month, amounting in the whole to one million two hundred and sixty thousand pounds. Though unwilling to come to a violent breach with the king, they would not express the least approbation of the war; and they gave him the prospect of this supply, only that they might have permission to proceed peaceably in the redress of the other grievances of which they had such reason to complain.
No grievance was more alarming, both on account of the secret views from which it proceeded, and the consequences which might attend it, than the declaration of indulgence. A remonstrance was immediately framed against that exercise of prerogative. The king defended his measure. The commons persisted in their opposition to it; and they represented, that such a practice, if admitted, might tend to interrupt the free course of the laws, and alter the legislative power, which had always been acknowledged to reside in the king and the two houses. All men were in expectation with regard to the issue of this extraordinary affair. The king seemed engaged in honor to support his measure; and in order to prevent all opposition, he had positively declared that he would support it. The commons were obliged to persevere, not only because it was dishonorable to be foiled, where they could plead such strong reasons, but also because, if the king prevailed in his pretensions, an end seemed to be put to all the legal limitations of the constitution.
It is evident, that Charles was now come to that delicate crisis which he ought at first to have foreseen, when he embraced those desperate counsels; and his resolutions, in such an event, ought long ago to have been entirely fixed and determined. Besides his usual guards, he had an army encamped at Blackheath, under the command of Mareschal Schomberg, a foreigner; and many of the officers were of the Catholic religion. His ally, the French king, he might expect, would second him, if force became requisite for restraining his discontented subjects, and supporting the measures which, by common consent, they had agreed to pursue. But the king was startled when he approached so dangerous a precipice as that which lay before him. Were violence once offered, there could be no return, he saw, to mutual confidence and trust with his people; the perils attending foreign succors, especially from so mighty a prince, were sufficiently apparent; and the success which his own arms had met with in the war, was not so great as to increase his authority, or terrify the malecontents from opposition. The desire of power, likewise, which had engaged Charles in these precipitate measures, had less proceeded, we may observe, from ambition than from love of ease. Strict limitations of the constitution rendered the conduct of business complicated and troublesome; and it was impossible for him, without much contrivance and intrigue, to procure the money necessary for his pleasures, or even for the regular support of government. When the prospect, therefore, of such dangerous opposition presented itself, the same love of ease inclined him to retract what it seemed so difficult to maintain; and his turn of mind, naturally pliant and careless, made him find little objection to a measure which a more haughty prince would have embraced with the utmost reluctance. That he might yield with the better grace, he asked the opinion of the house of peers, who advised him to comply with the commons. Accordingly the king sent for the declaration, and with his own hands broke the seals. The commons expressed the utmost satisfaction with this measure, and the most entire duty to his majesty. Charles assured them, that he would willingly pass any law offered him, which might tend to give them satisfaction in all their just grievances.
Shaftesbury, when he found the king recede at once from so capital a point, which he had publicly declared his resolution to maintain, concluded, that all schemes for enlarging royal authority were vanished, and that Charles was utterly incapable of pursuing such difficult and such hazardous measures. The parliament, he foresaw, might push their inquiries into those counsels which were so generally odious; and the king, from the same facility of disposition, might abandon his ministers to their vengeance. He resolved, therefore, to make his peace in time with that party which was likely to predominate, and to atone for all his violences in favor of monarchy by like violences in opposition to it. Never turn was more sudden, or less calculated to save appearances. Immediately he entered into all the cabals of the country party; and discovered to them, perhaps magnified, the arbitrary designs of the court, in which he himself had borne so deep a share. He was received with open arms by that party, who stood in need of so able a leader; and no questions were asked with regard to his late apostasy. The various factions into which the nation had been divided, and the many sudden revolutions to which the public had been exposed, had tended much to debauch the minds of men, and to destroy the sense of honor and decorum in their public conduct.
But the parliament, though satisfied with the king's compliance, had not lost all those apprehensions to which the measures of the court had given so much foundation. A law passed for imposing a test on all who should enjoy any public office. Besides taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and receiving the sacrament in the established church, they were obliged to abjure all belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation. As the dissenters had seconded the efforts of the commons against the king's declaration of indulgence, and seemed resolute to accept of no toleration in an illegal manner, they had acquired great favor with the parliament; and a project was adopted to unite the whole Protestant interest against the common enemy, who now began to appear formidable. A bill passed the commons for the ease and relief of the Protestant nonconformists; but met with some difficulties, at least delays, in the house of peers.
The resolution for supply was carried into a law; as a recompense to the king for his concessions. An act, likewise, of general pardon and indemnity was passed, which screened the ministers from all further inquiry. The parliament probably thought, that the best method of reclaiming the criminals, was to show them that their case was not desperate. Even the remonstrance which the commons voted of their grievances, may be regarded as a proof that their anger was, for the time, somewhat appeased. None of the capital points are there touched on; the breach of the triple league, the French alliance, or the shutting up of the exchequer. The sole grievances mentioned are, an arbitrary imposition on coals for providing convoys, the exercise of martial law, the quartering and pressing of soldiers: and they prayed that, after the conclusion of the war, the whole army should be disbanded. The king gave them a gracious, though an evasive answer. When business was finished, the two houses adjourned themselves.
Though the king had receded from his declaration of indulgence, and thereby had tacitly relinquished the dispensing power, he was still resolved, notwithstanding his bad success both at home and abroad, to persevere in his alliance with France, and in the Dutch war, and consequently in all those secret views, whatever they were, which depended on those fatal measures. The money granted by parliament sufficed to equip a fleet, of which Prince Rupert was declared admiral; for the duke was set aside by the test. Sir Edward Sprague and the earl of Ossory commanded under the prince. A French squadron joined them, commanded by d'Etrées. The combined fleets set sail towards the coast of Holland, and found the enemy lying at anchor within the sands at Schonvelt. There is a natural confusion attending sea fights, even beyond other military transactions; derived from the precarious operations of winds and tides, as well as from the smoke and darkness in which every thing is there involved. No wonder, therefore, that accounts of those battles are apt to contain uncertainties and contradictions; especially when delivered by writers of the hostile nations, who take pleasure in exalting the advantages of their own countrymen, and depressing those of the enemy. All we can say with certainty of this battle is, that both sides boasted of the victory; and we may thence infer, that the event was not decisive. The Dutch, being near home, retired into their harbors. In a week, they were refitted, and presented themselves again to the combined fleets. A new action ensued, not more decisive than the foregoing. It was not fought with great obstinacy on either side; but whether the Dutch or the allies first retired, seems to be a matter of uncertainty. The loss in the former cf these actions fell chiefly on the French, whom the English, diffident of their intentions, took care to place under their own squadrons; and they thereby exposed them to all the fire of the enemy. There seems not to have been a ship lost on either side in the second engagement.
It was sufficient glory to De Ruyter, that, with a fleet much inferior to the combined squadrons of France and England, he could fight them without any notable disadvantage; and it was sufficient victory, that he could defeat the project of a descent in Zealand, which, had it taken place, had endangered, in the present circumstances, the total overthrow of the Dutch commonwealth. Prince Rupert was also suspected not to favor the king's projects for subduing Holland, or enlarging his authority at home; and from these motives he was thought not to have pressed so hard on the enemy, as his well-known valer gave reason to expect. It is indeed remarkable, that during this war, though the English with their allies much overmatched the Hollanders, they were not able to gain any advantage over them; while in the former war, though often overborne by numbers, they still exerted themselves with the greatest courage, and always acquired great renown, sometimes even signal victories. But they were disgusted at the present measures, which they deemed pernicious to their country; they were not satisfied in the justice of the quarrel; and they entertained a perpetual jealousy of their confederates, whom, had they been permitted, they would, with much more pleasure, have destroyed than even the enemy themselves.
If Prince Rupert was not favorable to the designs of the court, he enjoyed as little favor from the court, at least from the duke, who, though he could no longer command the fleet still possessed the chief authority in the admiralty. The prince complained of a total want of every thing, powder shot, provisions, beer, and even water; and he went into harbor, that he might refit his ships, and supply their numerous necessities. After some weeks, he was refitted; and he again put to sea. The hostile fleets met at the mouth of the Texel, and fought the last battle, which, during the course of so many years, these neighboring maritime powers have disputed with each other. De Ruyter, and under him Tromp, commanded the Dutch in this action, as in the two former; for the prince of Orange had reconciled these gallant rivals; and they retained nothing of their former animosity, except that emulation which made them exert themselves with more distinguished bravery against the enemies of their country. Brankert was opposed to d'Etrées, De Ruyter to Prince Rupert, Tromp to Sprague. It is to be remarked, that in all actions, these brave admirals last mentioned had still selected each other as the only antagonists worthy each other's valor; and no decisive advantage had as yet been gained by either of them. They fought in this battle, as if there were no mean between death and victory.
D'Etrées and all the French squadron, except Rear-Admiral Martel, kept at a distance; and Brankert, instead of attacking them, bore down to the assistance of De Ruyter, who was engaged in furious combat with Prince Rupert. On no occasion did the prince acquire more deserved honor: his conduct, as well as valor, shone out with signal lustre. Having disengaged his squadron from the numerous enemies with whom he was every where surrounded, and having joined Sir John Chichely, his rear-admiral, who had been separated from him, he made haste to the relief of Sprague, who was hard pressed by Tromp's squadron. The Royal Prince, in which Sprague first engaged, was so disabled, that he was obliged to hoist his flag on board the St. George; while Tromp was for a like reason obliged to quit his ship, the Golden Lion, and go on board the Comet. The fight was renewed with the utmost fury by these valorous rivals, and by the rear-admirals, their seconds. Ossory, rear-admiral to Sprague, was preparing to board Tromp, when he saw the St. George terribly torn, and in a manner disabled. Sprague was leaving her, in order to hoist his flag on board a third ship, and return to the charge, when a shot, which had passed through the St. George, took his boat, and sunk her. The admiral was drowned, to the regret of Tromp himself, who bestowed on his valor the deserved praises.
Prince Rupert found affairs in this dangerous situation, and saw most of the ships in Sprague's squadron disabled from fight. The engagement, however, was renewed, and became very close and bloody. The prince threw the enemy into disorder. To increase it, he sent among them two fireships, and at the same time made a signal to the French to bear down; which if they had done, a decisive victory must have ensued. But the prince, when he saw that they neglected his signal, and observed that most of his ships were in no condition to keep the sea long, wisely provided for their safety by making easy sail towards the English coast. The victory in this battle was as doubtful as in all the actions fought during the present war.
The turn which the affairs of the Hollanders took by land was more favorable. The prince of Orange besieged and took Naerden; and from this success gave his country reason to hope for still more prosperous enterprises. Montecuculi, who commanded the imperialists on the Upper Rhine, deceived, by the most artful conduct, the vigilance and penetration of Turenne, and making a sudden march, sat down before Bonne. The prince of Orange's conduct was no less masterly; while he eluded all the French generals, and leaving them behind him, joined his army to that of the imperialists. Bonne was taken in a few days: several other places in the electorate of Cologne fell into the hands of the allies; and the communication being thus cut off between France and the United Provinces, Lewis was obliged to recall his forces, and to abandon all his conquests with greater rapidity than he had at first made them. The taking of Maestricht was the only advantage which he gained this campaign.
A congress was opened at Cologne under the mediation of Sweden; but with small hopes of success. The demands of the two kings were such as must have reduced the Hollanders to perpetual servitude. In proportion as the affairs of the states rose, the kings sunk in their demands; but the states still sunk lower in their offers; and it was found impossible for the parties ever to agree on any conditions. After the French evacuated Holland, the congress broke up; and the seizure of Prince William of Furstenburg by the Imperialists, afforded the French and English a good pretence for leaving Cologne. The Dutch ambassadors, in their memorials, expressed all the haughtiness and disdain so natural to a free state, which had met with such unmerited ill usage.
The parliament of England was now assembled, and discovered much greater symptoms of ill humor than had appeared in the last session. They had seen for some time a negotiation of marriage carried on between the duke of York and the archduchess of Inspruc, a Catholic of the Austrian family; and they had made no opposition. But when that negotiation failed, and the duke applied to a princess of the house of Modena, then in close alliance with France, this circumstance, joined to so many other grounds of discontent, raised the commons into a flame; and they remonstrated with the greatest zeal against the intended marriage. The king told them, that their remonstrance came too late, and that the marriage was already agreed on, and even celebrated by proxy. The commons still insisted; and proceeding to the examination of the other parts of government, they voted the standing army a grievance, and declared, that they would grant no more supply unless it appeared that the Dutch were so obstinate as to refuse all reasonable conditions of peace. To cut short these disagreeable attacks, the king resolved to prorogue the parliament; and with that intention he came unexpectedly to the house of peers, and sent the usher to summon the commons. It happened that the speaker and the usher nearly met at the door of the house; but the speaker being within, some of the members suddenly shut the door, and cried, "To the chair, to the chair;" while others cried, "The black rod is at the door." The speaker was hurried to the chair; and the following motions were instantly made: That the alliance with France is a grievance; that the evil counsellors about the king are a grievance; that the duke of Lauderdale is a grievance, and not fit to be trusted or employed. There was a general cry, "To the question, to the question;" but the usher knocking violently at the door, the speaker leaped from the chair, and the house rose in great confusion.
During the interval, Shaftesbury, whose intrigues with the malecontent party were now become notorious, was dismissed from the office of chancellor; and the great seal was given to Sir Heneage Finch, by the title of lord keeper. The test had incapacitated Clifford; and the white staff was conferred on Sir Thomas Osborne, soon after created earl of Danby, a minister of abilities, who had risen by his parliamentary talents. Clifford retired into the country, and soon after died.
1674
The parliament had been prorogued, in order to give the duke leisure to finish his marriage; but the king's necessities soon obliged him again to assemble them; and by some popular acts he paved the way for the session. But all his efforts were in vain. The disgust of the commons was fixed in foundations too deep to be easily removed. They began with applications for a general fast; by which they intimated that the nation was in a very calamitous condition: they addressed against the king's guards, which they represented as dangerous to liberty, and even as illegal, since they never had yet received the sanction of parliament: they took some steps towards establishing a new and more rigorous test against Popery: and what chiefly alarmed the court, they made an attack on the members of the cabal, to whose pernicious counsels they imputed all their present grievances. Clifford was dead: Shaftesbury had made his peace with the country party, and was become their leader: Buckingham was endeavoring to imitate Shaftesbury; but his intentions were as yet known to very few. A motion was therefore made in the house of commons for his impeachment: he desired to be heard at the bar, but expressed himself in so confused and ambiguous a manner, as gave little satisfaction. He was required to answer precisely to certain queries which they proposed to him. These regarded all the articles of misconduct above mentioned; and among the rest, the following query seems remarkable: "By whose advice was the army brought up to overawe the debates and resolutions of the house of commons?" This shows to what length the suspicions of the house were at that time carried. Buckingham, in all his answers, endeavored to exculpate himself, and to load Arlington. He succeeded not in the former intention: the commons voted an address for his removal. But Arlington, who was on many accounts obnoxious to the house, was attacked. Articles were drawn up against him; though the impeachment was never prosecuted.
The king plainly saw, that he could expect no supply from the commons for carrying on a war so odious to them. He resolved, therefore, to make a separate peace with the Dutch on the terms which they had proposed through the channel of the Spanish ambassador. With a cordiality which, in the present disposition on both sides, was probably but affected, but which was obliging, he asked advice of the parliament. The parliament unanimously concurred, both in thanks for this gracious condescension, and in their advice for peace. Peace was accordingly concluded. The honor of the flag was yielded by the Dutch in the most extensive terms: a regulation of trade was agreed to: all possessions were restored to the same condition as before the war: the English planters in Surinam were allowed to remove at pleasure: and the states agreed to pay to the king the sum of eight hundred thousand patacoons, near three hundred thousand pounds. Four days after the parliament was prorogued, the peace was proclaimed in London, to the great joy of the people. Spain had declared, that she could no longer remain neuter, if hostilities were continued against Holland; and a sensible decay of trade was foreseen, in case a rupture should ensue with that kingdom. The prospect of this loss contributed very much to increase the national aversion to the present war, and to enliven the joy for its conclusion.
There was in the French service a great body of English, to the number of ten thousand men, who had acquired honor in every action, and had greatly contributed to the successes of Lewis. These troops, Charles said, he was bound by treaty not to recall; but he obliged himself to the states by a secret article not to allow them to be recruited. His partiality to France prevented a strict execution of this engagement.




CHAPTER LXVI





CHARLES II.

1674
IF we consider the projects of the famous cabal, it will appear hard to determine, whether the end which those ministers pursued were more blamable and pernicious, or the means by which they were to effect it more impolitic and imprudent. Though they might talk only of recovering or fixing the king's authority, their intention could be no other than that of making him absolute; since it was not possible to regain or maintain, in opposition to the people, any of those powers of the crown abolished by late law or custom, without subduing the people, and rendering the royal prerogative entirely uncontrollable. Against such a scheme they might foresee that every part of the nation would declare themselves; not only the old parliamentary faction, which, though they kept not in a body, were still numerous, but even the greatest royalists, who were indeed attached to monarchy, but desired to see it limited and restrained by law. It had appeared, that the present parliament, though elected during the greatest prevalence of the royal party, was yet tenacious of popular privileges, and retained a considerable jealousy of the crown, even before they had received any just ground of suspicion. The guards, therefore, together with a small army, new levied and undisciplined, and composed, too, of Englishmen, were almost the only domestic resources which the king could depend on in the prosecution of these dangerous counsels.
The assistance of the French king was no doubt deemed by the cabal a considerable support in the schemes which they were forming; but it is not easily conceived they could imagine themselves capable of directing and employing an associate of so domineering a character. They ought justly to have suspected, that it would be the sole intention of Lewis, as it evidently was his interest, to raise incurable jealousies between the king and his people; and that he saw how much a steady, uniform government in this island, whether free or absolute, would form invincible barriers to his ambition. Should his assistance be demanded, if he sent a small supply, it would serve only to enrage the people, and render the breach altogether irreparable; if he furnished a great force, sufficient to subdue the nation, there was little reason to trust his generosity with regard to the use which he would make of this advantage.
In all its other parts, the plan of the cabal, it must be confessed, appears equally absurd and incongruous. If the war with Holland were attended with great success, and involved the subjection of the republic, such an accession of force must fall to Lewis, not to Charles: and what hopes afterwards of resisting by the greatest unanimity so mighty a monarch? How dangerous, or rather how ruinous, to depend upon his assistance against domestic discontents! If the Dutch, by their own vigor, and the assistance of allies, were able to defend themselves, and could bring the war to an equality, the French arms would be so employed abroad, that no considerable reënforcement could thence be expected to second the king's enterprises in England. And might not the project of overawing or subduing the people be esteemed of itself sufficiently odious, without the aggravation of sacrificing that state which they regarded as their best ally, and with which, on many accounts, they were desirous of maintaining the greatest concord and strictest confederacy? Whatever views likewise might be entertained of promoting by these measures the Catholic religion, they could only tend to render all the other schemes abortive, and make them fall with inevitable ruin upon the projectors. The Catholic religion, indeed, where it is established, is better fitted than the Protestant for supporting an absolute monarchy; but would any man have bought of it as the means of acquiring arbitrary authority in England, where it was more detested than even slavery itself?
It must be allowed that the difficulties, and even inconsistencies, attending the schemes of the cabal, are so numerous and obvious, that one feels at first an inclination to deny the reality of those schemes, and to suppose them entirely the chimeras of calumny and faction. But the utter impossibility of accounting, by any other hypothesis, for those strange measures embraced by the court, as well as for the numerous circumstances which accompanied them, obliges us to acknowledge, (though there remains no direct evidence of it,[*]) that a formal plan was laid for changing the religion, and subverting the constitution of England; and that the king and the ministry were in reality conspirators against the people. What is most probable in human affairs, is not always true and a very minute circumstance overlooked in our speculations, serves often to explain events which may seem the most surprising and unaccountable.
     * Since the publication of this History, the author has had
     occasion to see the most direct and positive evidence of
     this conspiracy. From the urbanity and candor of the
     principal of the Scotch college at Paris, he was admitted to
     peruse James II.'s Memoirs, kept there. They amount to
     several volumes of small folio, all writ with that prince's
     own hand, and comprehending the remarkable incidents of his
     life, from his early youth till near the time of his death.
     His account of the French alliance is as follows: The
     intention of the king and duke was chiefly to change the
     religion of England, which they deemed an easy undertaking,
     because of the great propensity, as they imagined, of the
     cavaliers and church party to Popery: the treaty with Lewis
     was concluded at Versailles in the end of 1669, or beginning
     of 1670, by Lord Arundel of Wardour, whom no historian
     mentions as having had any hand in these transactions. The
     purport of it was, that Lewis was to give Charles two
     hundred thousand pounds a year in quarterly payments, in
     order to enable him to settle the Catholic religion in
     England; and he was also to supply him with an army of six
     thousand men, in case of any insurrection. When that work
     was finished, England was to join with France in making war
     upon Holland. In case of success, Lewis was to have the
     inland provinces; the prince of Orange, Holland in
     sovereignty; and Charles, Sluice, the Brille, Walkeren, with
     the rest of the seaports as far as Mazeland Sluice. The
     king's project was first to effect the change of religion in
     England; but the duchess of Orleans, in the interview at
     Dover, persuaded him to begin with the Dutch war, contrary
     to the remonstrances of the duke of York, who insisted that
     Lewis, after serving his own purpose, would no longer
     trouble himself about England. The duke makes no mention of
     any design to render the king absolute; but that was no
     doubt implied in the other project, which was to be effected
     entirely by royal authority. The king was so zealous a
     Papist, that he wept for joy when he saw the prospect of
     reuniting his kingdom to the Catholic church.
Sir John Dalrymple has since published some other curious particulars with regard to this treaty. We find that it was concerted and signed with the privity alone of four Popish counsellors of the king's; Arlington, Arundel, Clifford, and Sir Richard-Bealing. The secret was kept from Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale. In order to engage them to take part in it, a very refined and a very mean artifice was fallen upon by the king. After the secret conclusion and signature of the treaty, the king pretended to these three ministers that for smaller matters,[*] and the ordinary occurrences of life nor had he application enough to carry his view to distant consequences, or to digest and adjust any plan of political operations.
     * Duke of Buckingham's character of King Charles II.
As he scarcely ever thought twice on any one subject, every appearance of advantage was apt to seduce him; and when he found his way obstructed by unlooked-for difficulties, he readily turned aside into the first path, where he expected more to gratify the natural indolence of his disposition. To this versatility or pliancy of genius he himself was inclined to trust; and he thought that, after trying an experiment for enlarging his authority, and altering the national religion, he could easily, if it failed, return into the ordinary channel of government. But the suspicions of the people, though they burst not forth at once, were by this attempt rendered altogether incurable; and the more they reflected on the circumstances attending it, the more resentment and jealousy were they apt to entertain. They observed, that the king never had any favorite; that he was never governed by his ministers, scarcely even by his mistresses; and that he himself was the chief spring of all public counsels. Whatever appearance, therefore, of a change might be assumed, they still suspected that the same project was secretly in agitation; and they deemed no precaution too great to secure them against the pernicious consequences of such measures.
He wished to have a treaty and alliance with France for mutual supports and for a Dutch war; and when various pretended obstacles and difficulties were surmounted, a sham treaty was concluded with their consent and approbation, containing every article of the former real treaty, except that of the king's change of religion. However, there was virtually involved, even in this treaty, the assuming of absolute government in England; for the support of French troops, and a war with Holland, so contrary to the interests and inclinations of his people, could mean nothing else. One cannot sufficiently admire the absolute want of common sense which appears throughout the whole of this criminal transaction. For if Popery was so much the object of national horror, that even the king's three ministers, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale, and such profligate ones, too, either would not or durst not receive it, what hopes could he entertain of forcing the nation into that communion? Considering the state of the kingdom, full of veteran and zealous soldiers, bred during the civil wars, it is probable that he had not kept the crown two months after a declaration so wild and extravagant. This was probably the reason why the king of France and the French minister always dissuaded him from taking off the mask, till the successes of the Dutch war should render that measure prudent and practicable.
The king, sensible of this jealousy, was inclined thenceforth not to trust his people, of whom he had even before entertained a great diffidence; and though obliged to make a separate peace, he still kept up connections with the French monarch. He apologized for deserting his ally, by representing to him all the real, undissembled difficulties under which he labored; and Lewis, with the greatest complaisance and good humor, admitted the validity of his excuses. The duke likewise, conscious that his principles and conduct had rendered him still more obnoxious to the people, maintained on his own account a separate correspondence with the French court, and entered into particular connections with Lewis, which these princes dignified with the name of friendship. The duke had only in view to secure his succession, and favor the Catholics, and it must be acknowledged to his praise, that though his schemes were in some particulars dangerous to the people, they gave the king no just ground of jealousy. A dutiful subject, and an affectionate brother, he knew no other rule of conduct than obedience; and the same unlimited submission which afterwards, when king, he exacted of his people, he was ever willing, before he ascended the throne, to pay to his sovereign.
As the king was at peace with all the world, and almost the only prince in Europe placed in that agreeable situation, he thought proper to offer his mediation to the contending powers, in order to compose their differences. France, willing to negotiate under so favorable a mediator, readily accepted of Charles's offer; but it was apprehended that, for a like reason, the allies would be inclined to refuse it. In order to give a sanction to his new measures, the king invited Temple from his retreat, and appointed him ambassador to the states. That wise minister, reflecting on the unhappy issue of his former undertakings, and the fatal turn of counsels which had occasioned it, resolved, before he embarked anew, to acquaint himself, as far as possible, with the real intentions of the king, in those popular measures which he seemed again to have adopted. After blaming the dangerous schemes of the cabal, which Charles was desirous to excuse, he told his majesty very plainly, that he would find it extremely difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to introduce into England the same system of government and religion which was established in France: that the universal bent of the nation was against both; and it required ages to change the genius and sentiments of a people: that many, who were at bottom indifferent in matters of religion, would yet oppose all alterations on that head because they considered, that nothing but force of arms could subdue the reluctance of the people against Popery; after which, they knew there could be no security for civil liberty: that in France, every circumstance had long been adjusted to that system of government, and tended to its establishment and support: that the commonalty, being poor and dispirited, were of no account; the nobility, engaged by the prospect or possession of numerous offices, civil and military, were entirely attached to the court; the ecclesiastics, retained by like motives, added the sanction of religion to the principles of civil policy: that in England, a great part of the landed property belonged either to the yeomanry or middling gentry; the king had few offices to bestow; and could not himself even subsist, much less maintain an army, except by the voluntary supplies of his parliament: that if he had an army on foot, yet, if composed of Englishmen, they would never be prevailed on to promote ends which the people so much feared and hated: that the Roman Catholics in England were not the hundredth part of the nation, and in Scotland not the two hundredth; and it seemed against all common sense to hope, by one part, to govern ninety-nine, who were of contrary sentiments and dispositions: and that foreign troops, if few, would tend only to inflame hatred and discontent; and how to raise and bring over at once, or to maintain many, it was very difficult to imagine. To these reasonings Temple added the authority of Gourville, a Frenchman, for whom he knew the king had entertained a great esteem. "A king of England," said Gourville, "who will be the man of his people, is the greatest king in the world; but if he will be any thing more, he is nothing at all." The king heard at first this discourse with some impatience; but being a dexterous dissembler, he seemed moved at last, and laying his hand on Temple's, said, with an appearing cordiality, "And I will be the man of my people."
Temple, when he went abroad, soon found that the scheme of mediating a peace was likely to prove abortive. The allies, besides their jealousy of the king's mediation, expressed a great ardor for the continuance of war. Holland had stipulated with Spain never to come to an accommodation, till all things in Flanders were restored to the condition in which they had been left by the Pyrenean treaty. The emperor had high pretensions in Alsace; and as the greater part of the empire joined in the alliance, it was hoped that France, so much overmatched in force, would soon be obliged to submit to the terms demanded of her. The Dutch, indeed, oppressed by heavy taxes, as well as checked in their commerce, were desirous of peace; and had few or no claims of their own to retard it: but they could not in gratitude, or even in good policy, abandon allies to whose protection they had so lately been indebted for their safety. The prince of Orange likewise, who had great influence in their councils, was all on fire for military fame, and was well pleased to be at the head of armies, from which such mighty successes were expected. Under various pretences, he eluded, during the whole campaign, the meeting with Temple; and after the troops were sent into winter quarters, he told that minister, in his first audience, that till greater impression were made on France, reasonable terms could not be hoped for; and it were therefore vain to negotiate.
The success of the campaign had not answered expectation. The prince of Orange, with a superior army, was opposed in Flanders to the prince of Condé, and had hoped to penetrate into France by that quarter, where the frontier was then very feeble. After long endeavoring, though in vain, to bring Condé to a battle, he rashly exposed at Seneffe a wing of his army; and that active prince failed not at once to see and to seize the advantage. But this imprudence of the prince of Orange was amply compensated by his behavior in that obstinate and bloody action which ensued. He rallied his dismayed troops; he led them to the charge; he pushed the veteran and martial troops of France; and he obliged the prince of Condé, notwithstanding his age and character, to exert greater efforts, and to risk his person more, than in any action where, even during the heat of youth, he had ever commanded. After sunset, the action was continued by the light of the moon; and it was darkness at last, not the weariness of the combatants, which put an end to the contest, and left the victory undecided. "The prince of Orange," said Condé, with candor and generosity, "has acted in every thing like an old captain, except venturing his life too like a young soldier." Oudenarde was afterwards invested by the prince of Orange but he was obliged by the imperial and Spanish generals to raise the siege on the approach of the enemy. He afterwards besieged and took Grave; and at the beginning of winter the allied armies broke up, with great discontents and complaints on all sides.
The allies were not more successful in other places. Lewis in a few weeks reconquered Franche Gompte. In Alsace, Turenne displayed, against a much superior enemy, all that military skill which had long rendered him the most renowned captain of his age and nation. By a sudden and forced march, he attacked and beat at Sintzheim the duke of Lorraine and Caprara, general of the imperialists. Seventy thousand Germans poured into Alsace, and took up their quarters in that province. Turenne, who had retired into Lorraine, returned unexpectedly upon them. He attacked and defeated a body of the enemy at Mulhausen. He chased from Colmar the elector of Brandenburgh, who commanded the German troops*[**missing period] He gained a new advantage at Turkheim. And having dislodged all the allies, he obliged them to repass the Rhine, full of shame for their multiplied defeats, and still more, of anger and complaints against each other.
In England, all these events were considered by the people with great anxiety and concern; though the king and his ministers affected great indifference with regard to them. Considerable alterations were about this time made in the English ministry. Buckingham was dismissed, who had long, by his wit and entertaining humor, possessed the king's favor. Arlington, now chamberlain, and Danby, the treasurer, possessed chiefly the king's confidence. Great hatred and jealousy took place between these ministers; and public affairs were somewhat disturbed by their quarrels. But Danby daily gained ground with his master; and Arlington declined in the same proportion. Danby was a frugal minister; and by his application and industry he brought the revenue into tolerable order. He endeavored so to conduct himself as to give offence to no party; and the consequence was, that he was able entirely to please none. He was a declared enemy to the French alliance; but never possessed authority enough to overcome the prepossessions which the king and the duke retained towards it*[**missing period] It must be ascribed to the prevalence of that interest, aided by money remitted from Paris, that the parliament was assembled so late this year, lest they should attempt to engage the king in measures against France during the ensuing campaign. They met not till the approach of summer.[*]
     * This year, on the twenty-fifth of March, died Henry
     Cromwell, second son of the protector, in the forty-seventh
     year of his age. He had lived unmolested in a private
     station, ever since the king's restoration, which he rather
     favored than opposed.
1675
Every step taken by the commons discovered that ill humor and jealousy to which the late open measures of the king, and his present secret attachments, gave but too just foundation. They drew up a new bill against Popery, and resolved to insert in it many severe clauses for the detection and prosecution of priests: they presented addresses a second time against Lauderdale; and when the king's answer was not satisfactory, they seemed still determined to persevere in their applications: an accusation was moved against Danby; but upon examining the several articles, it was not found to contain any just reasons of a prosecution, and was therefore dropped: they applied to the king for recalling his troops from the French service; and as he only promised that they should not be recruited, they appeared to be much dissatisfied with the answer: a bill was brought in, making it treason to levy money without authority of parliament; another vacating the seats of such members as accepted of offices; another to secure the personal liberty of the subject, and to prevent sending any person prisoner beyond sea.
That the court party might not be idle during these attacks, a bill for a new test was introduced into the house of peers by the earl of Lindesey. All members of either house, and all who possessed any office, were by this bill required to swear mat it was not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the king; that they abhorred the traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those who were commissioned by him; and that they will not at any time endeavor the alteration of the Protestant religion, or of the established government either in church or state.
Great opposition was made to this bill, as might be expected from the present disposition of the nation. During seventeen days, the debates were carried on with much zeal; and all the reason and learning of both parties were displayed on the occasion. The question, indeed, with regard to resistance, was a point which entered into the controversies of the old parties, cavalier and roundhead; as it made an essential part of the present disputes between court and country. Few neuters were found in the nation: but among such as could maintain a calm indifference, there prevailed sentiments wide of those which were adopted by either party. Such persons thought, that all general speculative declarations of the legislature, either for or against resistance, were equally impolitic and could serve to no other purpose than to signalize in their turn the triumph of one faction over another: that the simplicity retained in the ancient laws of England, as well as in the laws of every other country, ought still to be preserved, and was best calculated to prevent the extremes on either side: that the absolute exclusion of resistance, in all possible cases, was founded on false principles; its express admission might be attended with dangerous consequences; and there was no necessity for exposing the public to either inconvenience: that if a choice must necessarily be made in the case, the preference of utility to truth in public institutions was apparent; nor could the supposition of resistance, beforehand and in general terms, be safely admitted in any government: that even in mixed monarchies, where that supposition seemed most requisite, it was yet entirely superfluous; since no man, on the approach of extraordinary necessity, could be at a loss, though not directed by legal declarations, to find the proper remedy: that even those who might at a distance, and by scholastic reasoning, exclude all resistance, would yet hearken to the voice of nature, when evident ruin, both to themselves and to the public, must attend a strict adherence to their pretended principles: that the question, as it ought thus to be entirely excluded from all determinations of the legislature, was, even among private reasoners, somewhat frivolous, and little better than a dispute of words: that the one party could not pretend that resistance ought ever to become a familiar practice; the other would surely have recourse to it in great extremities; and thus the difference could only turn on the degrees of danger or oppression which would warrant this irregular remedy; a difference which, in a general question, it was impossible by any language precisely to fix or determine.
There were many other absurdities in this test, particularly that of binding men by oath not to alter the government either in church or state; since all human institutions are liable to abuse, and require continual amendments, which are in reality so many alterations. It is not indeed possible to make a law which does not innovate, more or less, in the government. These difficulties produced such obstructions to the bill, that it was carried only by two voices in the house of peers. All the Popish lords, headed by the earl cf Bristol, voted against it. It was sent down to the house of commons, where it was likely to undergo a scrutiny still more severe.
But a quarrel which ensued between the two houses, prevented the passing of every bill projected during the present session. One Dr. Shirley, being cast in a lawsuit before chancery against Sir John Fag, a member of the house of commons, preferred a petition of appeal to the house of peers. The lords received it, and summoned Fag to appear before them. He complained to the lower house, who espoused his cause. They not only maintained, that no member of their house could be summoned before the peers; they also asserted, that the upper house could receive no appeals from any court of equity; a pretension which extremely retrenched the jurisdiction of the peers, and which was contrary to the practice that had prevailed during this whole century. The commons send Shirley to prison; the lords assert their powers. Conferences are tried; but no accommodation ensues. Four lawyers are sent to the Tower by the commons, for transgressing the orders of the house, and pleading in this cause before the peers. The peers denominate this arbitrary commitment a breach of the Great Charter, and order the lieutenant of the Tower to release the prisoners: he declines obedience: they apply to the king, and desire him to punish the lieutenant for his contempt. The king summons both houses; exhorts them to unanimity; and informs them, that the present quarrel had arisen from the contrivance of his and their enemies, who expected by that means to force a dissolution of the parliament. His advice has no effect: the commons continue as violent as ever; and the king, finding that no business could be finished, at last prorogued the parliament.
When the parliament was again assembled, there appeared not in any respect a change in the dispositions of either house. The king desired supplies, as well for the building of ships, as for taking off anticipations which lay upon his revenue, He even confessed, that he had not been altogether so frugal as he might have been, and as he resolved to be for the future; though he asserted that, to his great satisfaction, he had found his expenses by no means so exorbitant as some had represented them. The commons took into consideration the subject of supply. They voted three hundred thousand pounds for the building of ships; but they appropriated the sum by very strict clauses. They passed a resolution not to grant any supply for taking off the anticipations of the revenue.[*] This vote was carried in a full house, by a majority of four only: so nearly were the parties balanced. The quarrel was revived, to which Dr. Shirley's cause had given occasion. The proceedings of the commons discovered the same violence as during the last session. A motion was made in the house of peers, but rejected, for addressing the king to dissolve the present parliament. The king contented himself with proroguing them to a very long term. Whether these quarrels between the houses arose from contrivance or accident, was not certainly known. Each party might, according to their different views, esteem themselves either gainers or losers by them. The court might desire to obstruct all attacks from the commons, by giving them other employment. The country party might desire the dissolution of a parliament, which, notwithstanding all disgusts, still contained too many royalists ever to serve all the purposes of the malecontents.
     * Several historians have affirmed, that the commons found
     this session, upon inquiry, that the king's revenue was one
     million six hundred thousand pounds a year, and that the
     necessary expense was out seven hundred thousand pounds; and
     have appealed to the journals for a proof. But there is not
     the least appearance of this in the journals; and the fact
     is impossible.
Soon after the prorogation, there passed an incident, which in itself is trivial, but tends strongly to mark the genius of the English government, and of Charles's administration during this period. The liberty of the constitution, and the variety as well as violence of the parties, had begotten a propensity for political conversation; and as the coffee-houses in particular were the scenes where the conduct of the king and the ministry was canvassed with great freedom, a proclamation was issued to suppress these places of rendezvous. Such an act of power, during former reigns, would have been grounded entirely on the prerogative; and before the accession of the house of Stuart, no scruple would have been entertained with regard to that exercise of authority. But Charles, finding doubts to arise upon his proclamation, had recourse to the judges, who supplied him with a chicane, and that too a frivolous one, by which he might justify his proceedings. The law which settled the excise enacted, that licenses for retailing liquors might be refused to such as could not find security for payment of the duties. But coffee was not a liquor subjected to excise; and even this power of refusing licenses was very limited, and could not reasonably be extended beyond the intention of the act. The king, therefore, observing the people to be much dissatisfied, yielded to a petition of the coffee-men, who promised for the future to restrain all seditious discourse in their houses; and the proclamation was recalled.
This campaign proved more fortunate to the confederates than any other during the whole war. The French took the field in Flanders with a numerous army; and Lewis himself served as a volunteer under the prince of Condé. But notwithstanding his great preparations, he could gain no advantages but the taking of Huy and Limbourg, places of small consequence. The prince of Orange with a considerable army opposed him in all his motions; and neither side was willing, without a visible advantage, to hazard a general action, which might be attended either with the entire loss of Flanders on the one hand, or the invasion of France on the other. Lewis, tired of so inactive a campaign, returned to Versailles; and the whole summer passed in the Low Countries without any memorable event.
Turenne commanded on the Upper Rhine, in opposition to his great rival, Montecuculi, general of the imperialists. The object of the latter was to pass the Rhine, to penetrate into Alsace, Lorraine, or Burgundy, and to fix his quarters in these provinces: the aim of the former was to guard the French frontiers, and to disappoint all the schemes of his enemy. The most consummate skill was displayed on both sides; and if any superiority appeared in Turenne's conduct, it was chiefly ascribed to his greater vigor of body, by which he was enabled to inspect all the posts in person, and could on the spot take the justest measures for the execution of his designs. By posting himself on the German side of the Rhine, he not only kept Montecuculi from passing that river: he had also laid his plan in so masterly a manner, that in a few days he must have obliged the Germans to decamp, and have gained a considerable advantage over them; when a period was put to his life by a random shot, which struck him on the breast as he was taking a view of the enemy. The consternation of his army was inexpressible. The French troops, who a moment before were assured of victory, now considered themselves as entirely vanquished; and the Germans, who would have been glad to compound for a safe retreat, expected no less than the total destruction of their enemy. But De Lorges, nephew to Turenne, succeeded him in the command, and possessed a great share of the genius and capacity of his predecessor. By his skilful operations, the French were enabled to repass the Rhine, without considerable loss; and this retreat was deemed equally glorious with the greatest victory. The valor of the English troops, who were placed in the rear, greatly contributed to save the French army. They had been seized with the same passion as the native troops of France for their brave general, and fought with ardor to revenge his death on the Germans. The duke of Marlborough, then Captain Churchill, here learned the rudiments of that art which he afterwards practised with such fatal success against France.
The prince of Condé left the army in Flanders under the command of Luxembourg; and carrying with him a considerable reënforcement, succeeded to Turenne's command. He defended Alsace from the Germans, who had passed the Rhine, and invaded that province. He obliged them first to raise the siege of Hagenau, then that of Saberne. He eluded all their attempts to bring him to a battle. And having dexterously prevented them from establishing themselves in Alsace, he forced them, notwithstanding their superiority of numbers, to repass the Rhine, and to take up winter quarters in their own country.
After the death of Turenne, a detachment of the German army was sent to the siege of Treves; an enterprise in which the imperialists, the Spaniards, the palatine, the duke of Lorraine, and many other princes, passionately concurred. The project was well concerted, and executed with vigor. Mareschal Crequi, on the other hand, collected an army, and advanced with a view of forcing the Germans to raise the siege. They left a detachment to guard their lines, and, under the command of the dukes of Zell and Osnaburgh, marched in quest of the enemy. At Consarbric they fell unexpectedly, and with superior numbers, on Crequi, and put him to rout. He escaped with four attendants only; and throwing himself into Treves, resolved, by a vigorous defence, to make atonement for his former error or misfortune. The garrison was brave, but not abandoned to that total despair by which their governor was actuated. They mutinied against his obstinacy; capitulated for themselves; and because he refused to sign the capitulation, they delivered him a prisoner into the hands of the enemy.
It is remarkable, that this defeat, given to Crequi, is almost the only one which the French received at land, from Rocroi to Blenheim, during the course of above sixty years; and these, too, full of bloody wars against potent and martial enemies: their victories almost equal the number of years during that period. Such was the vigor and good conduct of that monarchy! and such, too, were the resources and refined policy of the other European nations, by which they were enabled to repair their losses, and still to confine that mighty power nearly within its ancient limits! A fifth part of these victories would have sufficed, in another period, to have given to France the empire of Europe.
The Swedes had been engaged, by the payment of large subsidies, to take part with Lewis, and invade the territories of the elector of Brandenburgh in Pomerania. That elector joined by some imperialists from Silesia, fell upon them with bravery and success. He soon obliged them to evacuate his part of that country, and he pursued them into their own. He had an interview with the king of Denmark, who had now joined the confederates, and resolved to declare war against Sweden. These princes concerted measures for pushing the victory.
To all these misfortunes against foreign enemies were added some domestic insurrections of the common people in Guienne and Brittany. Though soon suppressed, they divided the force and attention of Lewis. The only advantage gained by the French was at sea. Messina in Sicily had revolted; and a fleet under the duke de Vivonne was despatched to support the rebels. The Dutch had sent a squadron to assist the Spaniards. A battle ensued, where De Ruyter was killed. This event alone was thought equivalent to a victory.
The French, who twelve years before had scarcely a ship of war in any of their harbors, had raised themselves, by means of perseverance and policy, to be, in their present force, though not in their resources, the first maritime power in Europe. The Dutch, while in alliance with them against England, had supplied them with several vessels, and had taught them the rudiments of the difficult art of ship-building. The English next, when in alliance with them against Holland, instructed them in the method of fighting their ships, and of preserving order in naval engagements. Lewis availed him self of every opportunity to aggrandize his people, while Charles, sunk in indolence and pleasure, neglected all the noble arts of government; or if at any time he roused himself from his lethargy, that industry, by reason of the unhappy projects which he embraced, was often more pernicious to the public than his inactivity itself. He was as anxious to promote the naval power of France as if the safety of his crown had depended on it; and many of the plans executed in that kingdom were first, it is said,[*] digested and corrected by him.
     * Welwood, Burnet, Coke.
1676
The successes of the allies had been considerable the last campaign; but the Spaniards and imperialists well knew that France was not yet sufficiently broken, nor willing to submit to the terms which they resolved to impose upon her. Though they could not refuse the king's mediation, and Nimeguen, after many difficulties, was at last fixed on as the place of congress, yet, under one pretence or other, they still delayed sending their ambassadors, and no progress was made in the negotiation. Lord Berkeley, Sir William Temple, and Sir Lionel Jenkins were the English ministers at Nimeguen. The Dutch, who were impatient for peace, soon appeared: Lewis, who hoped to divide the allies, and who knew that he himself could neither be seduced nor forced into a disadvantageous peace, sent ambassadors: the Swedes, who hoped to recover by treaty what they had lost by arms, were also forward to negotiate. But as these powers could not proceed of themselves to settle terms, the congress, hitherto, served merely as an amusement to the public.
It was by the events of the campaign, not the conferences among the negotiators, that the articles of peace were to be determined. The Spanish towns, ill fortified and worse defended, made but a feeble resistance to Lewis; who, by laying up magazines during the winter, was able to take the field early in the spring, before the forage could be found in the open country. In the month of April, he laid siege to Condé, and took it by storm in four days. Having sent the duke of Orleans to besiege Bouchaine, a small but important fortress, he posted himself so advantageously with his main army, as to hinder the confederates from relieving it, or fighting without disadvantage. The prince of Orange, in spite of the difficulties of the season and the want of provisions, came in sight of the French army; but his industry served to no other purpose than to render him spectator of the surrender of Bouchaine. Both armies stood in awe of each other, and were unwilling to hazard an action which might be attended with the most important consequences. Lewis, though he wanted not personal courage, was little enterprising in the field; and being resolved this campaign to rest contented with the advantages which he had so early obtained, he thought proper to intrust his army to Mareschal Schomberg, and retired himself to Versailles. After his departure, the prince of Orange laid siege to Maestricht; but meeting with an obstinate resistance, he was obliged, on the approach of Schomberg, who in the mean time had taken Aire, to raise the siege. He was incapable of yielding to adversity, or bending under misfortunes: but he began to foresee that, by the negligence and errors of his allies, the war in Flanders must necessarily have a very unfortunate issue.
On the Upper Rhine, Philipsbourg was taken by the imperialists. In Pomerania, the Swedes were so unsuccessful against the Danes and Brandenburghers, that they seemed to be losing apace all those possessions which, with so much valor and good fortune, they had acquired in Germany.
About the beginning of winter, the congress of Nimeguen was pretty full; and the plenipotentiaries of the emperor and Spain, two powers strictly conjoined by blood and alliance, at last appeared. The Dutch had threatened, if they absented themselves any longer, to proceed to a separate treaty with France. In the conferences and negotiations, the dispositions of the parties became every day more apparent.
1677
The Hollanders, loaded with debts and harassed with taxes, were desirous of putting an end to a war, in which, besides the disadvantages attending all leagues, the weakness of the Spaniards, the divisions and delays of the Germans, prognosticated nothing but disgrace and misfortune. Their commerce languished; and, what gave them still greater anxiety, the commerce of England, by reason of her neutrality, flourished extremely; and they were apprehensive, lest advantages, once lost, would never thoroughly be regained. They had themselves no further motive for continuing the war, than to secure a good frontier to Flanders; but gratitude to their allies still engaged them to try, whether another campaign might procure a peace which would give general satisfaction. The prince of Orange, urged by motives of honor, of ambition, and of animosity against France, endeavored to keep them steady to this resolution.
The Spaniards, not to mention the other incurable weaknesses into which their monarchy was fallen, were distracted with domestic dissensions between the parties of the queen regent and Don John, natural brother to their young sovereign. Though unable of themselves to defend Flanders, they were resolute not to conclude a peace which would leave it exposed to every assault or inroad; and while they made the most magnificent promises to the states, their real trust was in the protection of England. They saw that, if that small but important territory were once subdued by France, the Hollanders, exposed to so terrible a power, would fall into dependence, and would endeavor, by submissions, to ward off that destruction to which a war in the heart of their state must necessarily expose them. They believed that Lewis, sensible how much greater advantages he might reap from the alliance than from the subjection of the republic, which must scatter its people and depress its commerce, would be satisfied with very moderate conditions, and would turn his enterprises against his other neighbors. They thought it impossible but the people and parliament of England, foreseeing these obvious consequences, must at last force the king to take part in the affairs of the continent, in which their interests were so deeply concerned. And they trusted, that even the king himself, on the approach of so great a danger, must open his eyes, and sacrifice his prejudices in favor of France to the safety of his own dominions.
But Charles here found himself entangled in such opposite motives and engagements, as he had not resolution enough to break, or patience to unravel. On the one hand, he always regarded his alliance with France as a sure resource in case of any commotions among his own subjects; and whatever schemes he might still retain for enlarging his authority, or altering the established religion, it was from that quarter alone he could expect assistance. He had actually in secret sold his neutrality to France, and he received remittances of a million of livres a year, which was afterwards increased to two millions; a considerable supply in the present embarrassed state of his revenue. And he dreaded lest the parliament should treat him as they had formerly done his father; and after they had engaged him in a war on the continent, should take advantage of his necessities, and make him purchase supplies by sacrificing his prerogative, and abandoning his ministers.
On the other hand, the cries of his people and parliament, seconded by Danby, Arlington, and most of his ministers, incited him to take part with the allies, and to correct the unequal balance of power in Europe. He might apprehend danger from opposing such earnest desires: he might hope for large supplies if he concurred with them: and however inglorious and indolent his disposition, the renown of acting as arbiter of Europe would probably at intervals rouse him from his lethargy, and move him to support the high character with which he stood invested.
It is worthy of observation, that, during this period, the king was, by every one, abroad and at home, by France and by the allies, allowed to be the undisputed arbiter of Europe; and no terms of peace which he would have prescribed, could have been refused by either party. Though France afterwards found means to resist the same alliance, joined with England, yet was she then obliged to make such violent efforts as quite exhausted her; and it was the utmost necessity which pushed her to find resources far surpassing her own expectations. Charles was sensible, that, so long as the war continued abroad, he should never enjoy ease at home, from the impatience and importunity of his subjects; yet could he not resolve to impose a peace by openly joining himself with either party. Terms advantageous to the allies must lose him the friendship of France: the contrary would enrage his parliament. Between these views, he perpetually fluctuated; and from his conduct, it is observable, that a careless, remiss disposition, agitated by opposite motives, is capable of as great inconsistencies as are incident even to the greatest imbecility and folly.
The parliament was assembled; and the king made them a plausible speech, in which he warned them against all differences among themselves; expressed a resolution to do his part for bringing their consultations to a happy issue; and offered his consent to any laws for the further security of their religion, liberty, and property. He then told them of the decayed condition of the navy, and asked money for repairing it. He informed them, that part of his revenue, the additional excise, was soon to expire; and he added these words; "You may at any time see the yearly established expense of the government, by which it will appear, that the constant and unavoidable charge being paid, there will remain no overplus towards answering those contingencies which may happen in all kingdoms, and which have been a considerable burden on me this last year."
Before the parliament entered upon business, they were stopped by a doubt concerning the legality of their meeting It had been enacted, by an old law of Edward III., "That parliament should be held once every year, or oftener, if need be." The last prorogation had been longer than a year; and being supposed on that account illegal, it was pretended to be equivalent to a dissolution. The consequence seems by no means just; and besides, a later act, that which repealed the triennial law, had determined, that it was necessary to hold parliaments only once in three years. Such weight, however was put on this cavil, that Buckingham, Shaftesbury, Salisbury, and Wharton, insisted strenuously in the house of peers on the invalidity of the parliament, and the nullity of all its future acts. For such dangerous positions they were sent to the Tower, there to remain during the pleasure of his majesty and the house. Buckingham, Salisbury, and Wharton made submissions, and were soon after released. But Shaftesbury, more obstinate in his temper, and desirous of distinguishing himself by his adherence to liberty, sought the remedy of law; and being rejected by the judges, he was at last, after a twelvemonth's imprisonment, obliged to make the same submissions; upon which he was also released.
The commons at first seemed to proceed with temper. They granted the sum of five hundred and eighty-six thousand pounds, for building thirty ships; though they strictly appropriated the money to that service. Estimates were given in of the expense; but it was afterwards found that they fell short near one hundred thousand pounds. They also voted, agreeably to the king's request, the continuance of the additional excise for three years. This excise had been granted for nine years in 1668. Every thing seemed to promise a peaceable and an easy session.
But the parliament was roused from this tranquillity by the news received from abroad. The French king had taken the field in the middle of February, and laid siege to Valenciennes, which he carried in a few days by storm. He next invested both Cambray and St. Omers. The prince of Orange, alarmed with his progress, hastily assembled an army, and marched to the relief of St. Omers. He was encountered by the French, under the duke of Orleans and Mareschal Luxembourg. The prince possessed great talents for war; courage, activity, vigilance, patience; but still he was inferior in genius to those consummate generals opposed to him by Lewis and though he always found means to repair his losses, and to make head in a little time against the victors, he was during his whole life, unsuccessful. By a masterly movement of Luxembourg, he was here defeated, and obliged to retreat to Ypres. Cambray and St. Omers were soon after surrendered to Lewis.
This success, derived from such great power and such wise conduct, infused a just terror into the English parliament. They addressed the king, representing the danger to which the kingdom was exposed from the greatness of France; and praying that his majesty, by such alliances as he should think fit, would both secure his own dominions and the Spanish Netherlands, and thereby quiet the fears of his people. The king, desirous of eluding this application, which he considered as a kind of attack on his measures, replied in general terms, that he would use all means for the preservation of Flanders, consistent with the peace and safety of his kingdoms. This answer was an evasion, or rather a denial. The commons, therefore, thought proper to be more explicit. They entreated him not to defer the entering into such alliances as might attain that great end; and in case war with the French king should be the result of his measures, they promised to grant him all the aids and supplies, which would enable him to support the honor and interest of the nation. The king was also more explicit in his reply. He told them, that the only way to prevent danger, was to put him in a condition to make preparations for their security. This message was understood to be a demand of money. The parliament accordingly empowered the king to borrow on the additional excise two hundred thousand pounds at seven per cent.; a very small sum indeed; but which they deemed sufficient, with the ordinary revenue, to equip a good squadron, and thereby put the nation in security, till further resolutions should be taken.
But this concession fell far short of the king's expectations. He therefore informed them, that, unless they granted him the sum of six hundred thousand pounds upon new funds, it would not be possible for him, without exposing the nation to manifest danger, to speak or act those things which would answer the end of their several addresses. The house took this message into consideration: but before they came to any resolution, the king sent for them to Whitehall, where he told them, upon the word of a king, that they should not repent any trust which they would repose in him for the safety of his kingdom; that he would not for any consideration break credit with them, or employ their money to other uses than those for which they intended it; but that he would not hazard either his own safety or theirs, by taking any vigorous measures, or forming new alliances, till he were in a better condition both to defend his subjects and offend his enemies. This speech brought affairs to a short issue. The king required them to trust him with a large sum; he pawned his royal word for their security: they must either run the risk of losing their money, or fail of those alliances which they had projected, and at the same time declare to all the world the highest distrust of their sovereign.
But there were many reasons which determined the house of commons to put no trust in the king. They considered, that the pretence of danger was obviously groundless, while the French were opposed by such powerful alliances on the continent, while the king was master of a good fleet at sea, and while all his subjects were so heartily united in opposition to foreign enemies: that the only justifiable reason, therefore, of Charles's backwardness, was not the apprehension of danger from abroad, but a diffidence which he might perhaps have entertained of his parliament; lest, after engaging him in foreign alliances for carrying on war, they should take advantage of his necessities, and extort from him concessions dangerous to his royal dignity: that this parliament, by their past conduct, had given no foundation for such suspicions, and were so far from pursuing any sinister ends, that they had granted supplies for the first Dutch war; for maintaining the triple league, though concluded without their advice; even for carrying on the second Dutch war, which was entered into contrary to their opinion, and contrary to the manifest interests of the nation: that, on the other hand, the king had, by former measures, excited very reasonable jealousies in his people, and did with a bad grace require at present their trust and confidence. That he had not scrupled to demand supplies for maintaining the triple league, at the very moment he was concerting measures for breaking it; and had accordingly employed, to that purpose, the supplies which he had obtained by those delusive pretences: that his union with France, during the war against Holland, must have been founded on projects the most dangerous to his people; and as the same union was still secretly maintained, it might justly be feared that the same projects were not yet entirely abandoned, that he could not seriously intend to prosecute vigorous measures against France; since he had so long remained entirely unconcerned during such obvious dangers; and, till prompted by his parliament, whose proper business it was not to take the lead in those parts of administration, had suspended all his activity: that if he really meant to enter into a cordial union with his people, he would have taken the first step, and have endeavored, by putting trust in them, to restore that confidence, which he himself, by his rash conduct, had first violated: that it was in vain to ask so small a sum as six hundred thousand pounds, in order to secure him against the future attempts of the parliament; since that sum must soon be exhausted by a war with France, and he must again fall into that dependence, which was become in some degree essential to the constitution: that if he would form the necessary alliances, that sum, or a greater, would instantly be voted; nor could there be any reason to dread, that the parliament would immediately desert measures in which they were engaged by their honor, their inclination, and the public interest: that the real ground, therefore, of the king's refusal was neither apprehension of danger from foreign enemies, nor jealousy of parliamentary encroachments; but a desire of obtaining the money, which he intended, notwithstanding his royal word, to employ to other purposes; and that, by using such dishonorable means to so ignoble an end, he rendered himself still more unworthy the confidence of his people.
The house of commons was now regularly divided into two parties, the court and the country. Some were enlisted in the court party by offices, nay, a few by bribes secretly given them; a practice first begun by Clifford, a dangerous minister: but great numbers were attached merely by inclination; so far as they esteemed the measures of the court agreeable to the interests of the nation. Private views and faction had likewise drawn several into the country party: but there were also many of that party, who had no other object than the public good. These disinterested members on both sides fluctuated between the factions; and gave the superiority sometimes to the court, sometimes to the opposition.[A] In the present emergence, a general distrust of the king prevailed; and the parliament resolved not to hazard their money in expectation of alliances, which, they believed, were never intended to be formed. Instead of granting the supply, they voted an address, wherein they "besought his majesty to enter into a league, offensive and defensive, with the states general of the United Provinces, against the growth and power of the French king, and for the preservation of the Spanish Netherlands; and to make such other alliances with the confederates as should appear fit and useful to that end." They supported their advice with reasons; and promised speedy and effectual supplies, for preserving his majesty's honor and insuring the safety of the public. The king pretended the highest anger at this address, which he represented as a dangerous encroachment upon his prerogative. He reproved the commons in severe terms, and ordered them immediately to be adjourned.
It is certain, that this was the critical moment, when the king both might with ease have preserved the balance of power in Europe, which it has since cost this island a great expense of blood and treasure to restore, and might by perseverance have at last regained, in some tolerable measure, after all past errors, the confidence of his people. This opportunity being neglected, the wound became incurable; and notwithstanding his momentary appearances of vigor against France and Popery, and their momentary inclinations to rely on his faith, he was still believed to be at bottom engaged in the same interests, and they soon relapsed into distrust and jealousy. The secret memoirs of this reign, which have since been published,[*] prove beyond a doubt, that the king had at this time concerted measures with France, and had no intention to enter into a war in favor of the allies. He had entertained no view, therefore, even when he pawned his royal word to his people, than to procure a grant of money; and he trusted that, while he eluded their expectations, he could not afterwards want pretences for palliating his conduct.
     * Such as the letters which passed betwixt Danby and
     Montague, the king's ambassador at Paris; Temple's Memoirs,
     and his Letters. In these last, we see that the king never
     made any proposals of terms but what were advantageous to
     France; and the prince of Orange believed them to have
     always been concerted with the French ambassador. Vol. i. p.
     439.

     In Sir John Dalrymple's Appendix, (p. 103,) it appears, that
     the king had signed himself, without the participation of
     his ministers, a secret treaty with France, and had obtained
     a pension on the promise of his neutrality; a tact which
     renders his royal word, solemnly given to his subjects, one
     of the most dishonorable and most scandalous acts that ever
     proceeded from a throne.
Negotiations meanwhile were carried on between France and Holland, and an eventual treaty was concluded; that is all their differences were adjusted, provided they could after wards satisfy their allies on both sides. This work, though in appearance difficult, seemed to be extremely forwarded, by further bad successes on the part of the confederates, and by the great impatience of the Hollanders; when a new event happened, which promised a more prosperous issue to the quarrel with France, and revived the hopes of all the English who understood the interests of their country.
The king saw with regret the violent discontents which prevailed in the nation, and which seemed every day to augment upon him. Desirous by his natural temper to be easy himself, and to make every body else easy, he sought expedients to appease those murmurs, which, as they were very disagreeable for the present, might in their consequences prove extremely dangerous. He knew that, during the late war with Holland, the malecontents at home had made applications to the prince of Orange; and if he continued still to neglect the prince's interests, and to thwart the inclinations of his own people, he apprehended lest their common complaints should cement a lasting union between them. He saw that the religion of the duke inspired the nation with dismal apprehensions; and though he had obliged his brother to allow the young princesses to be educated in the Protestant faith, something further, he thought, was necessary, in order to satisfy the nation. He entertained, therefore, proposals for marrying the prince of Orange to the lady Mary, the elder princess, and heir apparent to the crown, (for the duke had no male issue;) and he hoped, by so tempting an offer, to engage him entirely in his interests. A peace he purposed to make; such as would satisfy France, and still preserve his connections with that crown; and he intended to sanctify it by the approbation of the prince, whom he found to be extremely revered in England, and respected throughout Europe. All the reasons for this alliance were seconded by the solicitations of Danby, and also of Temple, who was at that time in England; and Charles at last granted permission to the prince, when the campaign should be over, to pay him a visit.
The king very graciously received his nephew at Newmarket. He would have entered immediately upon business but the prince desired first to be acquainted with the lady Mary; and he declared, that, contrary to the usual sentiments of persons of his rank, he placed a great part of happiness in domestic satisfaction, and would not, upon any consideration of interest or politics, match himself with a person disagreeable to him. He was introduced to the princess, whom he found in the bloom of youth, and extremely amiable both in her person and her behavior. The king now thought that he had a double tie upon him, and might safely expect his compliance with every proposal: he was surprised to find the prince decline all discourse of business, and refuse to concert any terms for the general peace, till his marriage should be finished. He foresaw, he said, from the situation of affairs that his allies were likely to have hard terms; and he never would expose himself to the reproach of having sacrificed their interests to promote his own purposes. Charles still believed, notwithstanding the cold, severe manner of the prince, that he would abate of this rigid punctilio of honor; and he protracted the time, hoping, by his own insinuation and address, as well as by the allurements of love and ambition, to win him to compliance. One day, Temple found the prince in very bad humor, repenting that he had ever come to England, and resolute in a few days to leave it: but before he went, the king, he said, must choose the terms on which they should hereafter live together: he was sure it must be like the greatest friends or the greatest enemies: and he desired Temple to inform his master next morning of these intentions. Charles was struck with this menace, and foresaw how the prince's departure would be interpreted by the people. He resolved, therefore, immediately to yield with a good grace; and having paid a compliment to his nephew's honesty, he told Temple that the marriage was concluded, and desired him to inform the duke of it, as of an affair already resolved on. The duke seemed surprised; but yielded a prompt obedience: which, he said, was his constant maxim to whatever he found to be the king's pleasure. No measure during this reign gave such general satisfaction. All parties strove who should most applaud it. And even Arlington, who had been kept out of the secret, told the prince, "that some things, good in themselves, were spoiled by the manner of doing them, as some things bad were mended by it; but he would confess, that this was a thing so good in itself, that the manner of doing it could not spoil it."
This marriage was a great surprise to Lewis, who, accustomed to govern every thing in the English court, now found so important a step taken, not only without his consent, but without his knowledge or participation. A conjunction of England with the allies, and a vigorous war in opposition to French ambition, were the consequences immediately expected, both abroad and at home: but to check these sanguine hopes, the king, a few days after the marriage, prolonged the adjournment of the parliament from the third of December to the fourth of April. This term was too late for granting supplies, or making preparations for war; and could be chosen by the king for no other reason, than as an atonement to France for his consent to the marriage. It appears also, that Charles secretly received from Lewis the sum of two millions of livres on account of this important service.[*]
     * Sir John Dalrymple's Appendix, p. 112.
The king, however, entered into consultations with the prince, together with Danby and Temple, concerning the terms which it would be proper to require of France. After some debate, it was agreed, that France should restore Lorraine to the duke; with Tournay, Valenciennes, Condé, Aeth, Charleroi, Courtray, Oudenarde, and Binche to Spain, in order to form a good frontier for the Low Countries. The prince insisted that Franche Compte should likewise be restored and Charles thought that, because he had patrimonial estates of great value in that province, and deemed his property more secure in the hands of Spain, he was engaged by such views to be obstinate in that point: but the prince declared, that to procure but one good town to the Spaniards in Flanders, he would willingly relinquish all those possessions. As the king still insisted on the impossibility of wresting Franche Compte from Lewis, the prince was obliged to acquiesce.
Notwithstanding this concession to France, the projected peace was favorable to the allies, and it was a sufficient indication of vigor in the king, that he had given his assent to it. He further agreed to send over a minister instantly to Paris, in order to propose these terms. This minister was to enter into no treaty: he was to allow but two days for the acceptance or refusal of the terms: upon the expiration of these, he was presently to return: and in case of refusal, the king promised to enter immediately into the confederacy. To carry so imperious a message, and so little expected from the English court, Temple was the person pitched on, whose declared aversion to the French interest was not likely to make him fail of vigor and promptitude in the execution of his commission.
But Charles next day felt a relenting in this assumed vigor. Instead of Temple, he despatched the earl of Feversham, a creature of the duke's, and a Frenchman by birth; and he said, that the message being harsh in itself, it was needless to aggravate it by a disagreeable messenger. The prince left London; and the king, at his departure, assured him, that he never would abate in the least point of the scheme concerted, and would enter into war with Lewis if he rejected it.
Lewis received the message with seeming gentleness and complacency. He told Feversham, that the king of England well knew that he might always be master of the peace; but some of the towns in Flanders it seemed very hard to demand, especially Tournay, upon whose fortifications such immense sums had been expended: he would therefore take some short time to consider of an answer. Feversham said, that he was limited to two days' stay: but when that time was elapsed, he was prevailed on to remain some few days longer; and he came away at last without any positive answer. Lewis said, that he hoped his brother would not break with him for one or two towns: and with regard to them too, he would send orders to his ambassador at London to treat with the king himself. Charles was softened by the softness of France; and the blow was thus artfully eluded. The French ambassador, Barillon, owned at last, that he had orders to yield all except Tournay, and even to treat about some equivalent for that fortress, if the king absolutely insisted upon it. The prince was gone who had given spirit to the English court; and the negotiation began to draw out into messages and returns from Paris.
By intervals, however, the king could rouse himself, and show still some firmness and resolution. Finding that affairs were not likely to come to any conclusion with France, he summoned, notwithstanding the long adjournment, the parliament on the fifteenth of January; an unusual measure, and capable of giving alarm to the French court. Temple was sent for to the council; and the king told him, that he intended he should go to Holland, in order to form a treaty of alliance with the states; and that the purpose of it should be, like the triple league, to force both France and Spain to accept of the terms proposed. Temple was sorry to find this act of vigor qualified by such a regard to France, and by such an appearance of indifference and neutrality between the parties. He told the king, that the resolution agreed on, was to begin the war in conjunction with all the confederates, in case of no direct and immediate answer from France: that this measure would satisfy the prince, the allies, and the people of England; advantages which could not be expected from such an alliance with Holland alone: that France would be disobliged, and Spain likewise; nor would the Dutch be satisfied with such a faint imitation of the triple league, a measure concerted when they were equally at peace with both parties. For these reasons, Temple declined the employment; and Lawrence Hyde, second son of Chancellor Clarendon, was sent in his place.
1678
The prince of Orange could not regard without contempt such symptoms of weakness and vigor conjoined in the English counsels. He was resolved, however, to make the best of a measure which he did not approve; and as Spain secretly consented that her ally should form a league, which was seemingly directed against her as well as France, but which was to fall only on the latter, the states concluded the treaty in the terms proposed by the king.
Meanwhile the English parliament met, after some new adjournments: and the king was astonished that, notwithstanding the resolute measures which he thought he had taken, great distrust, and jealousy, and discontent were apt, at intervals, still to prevail among the members. Though in his speech he had allowed that a good peace could no longer be expected from negotiation, and assured them, that he was resolved to enter into a war for that purpose, the commons did not forbear to insert in their reply several harsh and even unreasonable clauses. Upon his reproving them, they seemed penitent; and voted, that they would assist his majesty in the prosecution of the war. A fleet of ninety sail, an army of thirty thousand men, and a million of money were also voted. Great difficulties were made by the commons with regard to the army, which the house, judging by past measures, believed to be intended more against the liberties of England than against the progress of the French monarch. To this perilous situation had the king reduced both himself and the nation. In all debates, severe speeches were made, and were received with seeming approbation: the duke and the treasurer began to be apprehensive of impeachments: many motions against the king's ministers were lost by a small majority: the commons appointed a day to consider the state of the kingdom with regard to Popery; and they even went so far as to vote that, how urgent soever the occasion, they would lay no further charge on the people, till secured against the prevalence of the Catholic party. In short, the parliament was impatient for war whenever the king seemed averse to it; but grew suspicious of some sinister design as soon as he complied with their requests, and seemed to enter into their measures.
The king was enraged at this last vote: he reproached Temple with his popular notions, as he termed them; and asked him how he thought the house of commons could be trusted for carrying on the war, should it be entered on, when in the very commencement they made such declarations. The uncertainties indeed of Charles's conduct were so multiplied, and the jealousies on both sides so incurable, that even those who approached nearest the scene of action, could not determine, whether the king ever seriously meant to enter into a war; or whether, if he did, the house of commons would not have taken advantage of his necessities, and made him purchase supplies by a great sacrifice of his authority.[A]
The king of France knew how to avail himself of all the advantages which these distractions afforded him. By his emissaries, he represented to the Dutch the imprudence of their depending on England; where an indolent king, averse to all war, especially with France, and irresolute in his measures, was actuated only by the uncertain breath of a factious parliament. To the aristocratical party he remarked the danger of the prince's alliance with the royal family of England, and revived their apprehensions, lest, in imitation of his father, who had been honored with the same alliance, he should violently attempt to enlarge his authority, and enslave his native country. In order to enforce these motives with further terrors, he himself took the field very early in the spring; and after threatening Luxembourg, Mons, and Namur he suddenly sat down before Ghent and Ypres, and in a few weeks made himself master of both places. This success gave great alarm to the Hollanders, who were nowise satisfied with the conduct of England, or with the ambiguous treaty lately concluded; and it quickened all their advances towards an accommodation.
Immediately after the parliament had voted the supply, the king began to enlist forces; and such was the ardor of the English for a war with France, that an army of above twenty thousand men, to the astonishment of Europe, was completed in a few weeks. Three thousand men, under the duke of Monmouth, were sent over to secure Ostend: some regiments were recalled from the French service: a fleet was fitted out with great diligence: and a quadruple alliance was projected between England, Holland, Spain, and the emperor.
But these vigorous measures received a sudden damp from a passionate address of the lower house; in which they justified all their past proceedings that had given disgust to the king; desired to be acquainted with the measures taken by him; prayed him to dismiss evil counsellors; and named in particular the duke of Lauderdale, on whose removal they strenuously insisted. The king told them, that their address was so extravagant, that he was not willing speedily to give it the answer which it deserved. And he began again to lend an ear to the proposals of Lewis, who offered him great sums of money, if he would consent to France's making an advantageous peace with the allies.
Temple, though pressed by the king, refused to have any concern in so dishonorable a negotiation: but he informs us, that the king said, there was one article proposed which so incensed him that as long as he lived he should never forget it. Sir William goes no further; but the editor of his works, the famous Dr. Swift, says, that the French, before they would agree to any payment, required as a preliminary, that the king should engage never to keep above eight thousand regular troops in Great Britain.[*] Charles broke into a passion. "Cod's-fish," said he, (his usual oath,) "does my brother of France think to serve me thus? Are all his promises to make me absolute master of my people come to this? Or does he think that a thing to be done with eight thousand men?"
     * To wit, three thousand men for Scotland, and
     the usual guards and garrisons in England, amounting to near
     five thousand men. Sir J. Dalrymple's App p. 161.
Van Beverning was the Dutch ambassador at Nimeguen, a man of great authority with the states. He was eager for peace, and was persuaded, that the reluctance of the king and the jealousies of the parliament would forever disappoint the allies in their hopes of succor from England. Orders were sent him by the states to go to the French king at Ghent, and to concert the terms of a general treaty, as well as procure a present truce for six weeks. The terms agreed on were much worse for the Spaniards than those which had been planned by the King and the prince of Orange. Six towns, some of them of no great importance, were to be restored to them, but Ypres, Condé, Valenciennes, and Tournay, in which consisted the chief strength of their frontier, were to remain with France.
Great murmurs arose in England when it was known that Flanders was to be left in so defenceless a condition. The chief complaints were levelled against the king, who, by his concurrence at first, by his favor afterwards, and by his delays at last, had raised the power of France to such an enormous height, that it threatened the general liberties of Europe. Charles, uneasy under these imputations, dreading the consequence of losing the affections of his subjects, and perhaps disgusted with the secret article proposed by France, began to wish heartily for war, which, he hoped, would have restored him to his ancient popularity.
An opportunity unexpectedly offered itself for his displaying these new dispositions. While the ministers at Nimeguen were concerting the terms of a general treaty, the marquis de Balbaces, the Spanish ambassador, asked the ambassadors of France at what time France intended to restore the six towns in Flanders. They made no difficulty in declaring, that the king, their master, being obliged to see an entire restitution made to the Swedes of all they had lost in the war, could not evacuate these towns till that crown had received satisfaction; and that this detention of places was the only means to induce the powers of the north to accept of the peace.
The states immediately gave the king intelligence of a pretension which might be attended with such dangerous consequences. The king was both surprised and angry. He immediately despatched Temple to concert with the states vigorous measures for opposing France. Temple in six days concluded a treaty, by which Lewis was obliged to declare, within sixteen days after the date, that he would presently evacuate the towns: and in case of his refusal, Holland was bound to continue the war, and England to declare immediately against France, in conjunction with the whole confederacy.
All these warlike measures were so ill seconded by the parliament, where even the French ministers were suspected, with reason,[*] of carrying on some intrigues, that the commons renewed their former jealousies against the king, and voted the army immediately to be disbanded.
     * Sir John Dalrymple, in his Appendix, has given us, from
     Barilton's despatches in the secretary's office at Paris, a
     more particular detail of these intrigues. They were carried
     on with Lord Russel, Lord Hollis, Lord Berkshire, the duke of
     Buckingham, Algernon Sydney, Montague, Bulstrode, Colonel
     Titus, Sir Edward Harley, Sir John Baber, Sir Roger Hill,
     Boscawen, Littleton, Powle, Harbord, Hambden, Sir Thomas
     Armstrong, Hotham, Herbert, and some others of less note. Of
     these Lord Russel and Lord Hollis alone refused to touch any
     French money: all the others received presents or bribes
     from Barillon. But we are to remark, that the party views of
     these men, and their well-founded jealousies of the king and
     duke, engaged them, independently of the money, into the
     same measures that were suggested to them by the French
     ambassador. The intrigues of France, therefore, with the
     parliament, were a mighty small engine in the political
     machine. Those with the king, which have always been known,
     were of infinitely greater consequence. The sums distributed
     to all these men, excepting Montague, did not exceed sixteen
     thousand pounds in three years; and therefore could have
     little weight in the two houses, especially when opposed to
     the influence of the crown. Accordingly we find, in all
     Barillon's despatches, a great anxiety that the parliament
     should never be assembled. The conduct of these English
     patriots was more mean than criminal; and Monsieur Courten
     says, that two hundred thousand livres employed by the
     Spaniards and Germans, would have more influence than two
     millions distributed by France. See Sir J. Dalrymple's App.
     p. 111. It is amusing to observe the general, and I may say
     national, rage excited by the late discovery of this secret
     negotiation; chiefly on account of Algernon Sydney, whom the
     blind prejudices of party had exalted into a hero. His
     ingratitude and breach of faith, in applying for the king's
     pardon, and immediately on his return entering into cabals
     for rebellion, form a conduct much more criminal than the
     taking of French gold: yet the former circumstance was
     always known, and always disregarded. But every thing
     connected with France is supposed, in England, to be
     polluted beyond all possibility of expiation. Even Lord
     Russel, whose conduct in this negotiation was only factious,
     and that in an ordinary degree, is imagined to be dishonored
     by the same discovery.
The king by a message represented the danger of disarming before peace were finally concluded; and he recommended to their consideration, whether he could honorably recall his forces from those towns in Flanders which were put under his protection, and which had at present no other means of defence. The commons agreed to prolong the term with regard to these forces. Every thing, indeed, in Europe bore the appearance of war. France had positively declared, that she would not evacuate the six towns before the requisite cession was made to Sweden and her honor seemed now engaged to support that declaration. Spain and the empire, disgusted with the terms of peace imposed by Holland, saw with pleasure the prospect of a powerful support from the new resolutions of Charles. Holland itself, encouraged by the prince of Orange and his party, was not displeased to find that the war would be renewed on more equal terms. The allied army under that prince was approaching towards Mons, then blockaded by France. A considerable body of English, under the duke of Monmouth, was ready to join him.
Charles usually passed a great part of his time in the women's apartments, particularly those of the duchess of Portsmouth; where, among other gay company, he often met with Barillon, the French ambassador, a man of polite conversation, who was admitted into all the amusements of that inglorious but agreeable monarch. It was the charms of this sauntering, easy life, which, during his later years, attached Charles to his mistresses. By the insinuations of Barillon and the duchess of Portsmouth, an order was, in an unguarded hour, procured, which instantly changed the face of affairs in Europe. One Du Cros, a French fugitive monk, was sent to Temple, directing him to apply to the Swedish ambassador, and persuade him not to insist on the conditions required by France, but to sacrifice to general peace those interests of Sweden. Du Cros, who had secretly received instructions from Barillon, published every where in Holland the commission with which he was intrusted; and all men took the alarm. It was concluded that Charles's sudden alacrity for war was as suddenly extinguished, and that no steady measures could ever be taken with England. The king afterwards, when he saw Temple, treated this important matter in raillery; and said, laughing, that the rogue Du Cros had outwitted them all.
The negotiations, however, at Nimeguen still continued; and the French ambassadors spun out the time till the morning of the critical day, which, by the late treaty between England and Holland, was to determine whether a sudden peace or a long war were to have place in Christendom. The French ambassadors came then to Van Beverning, and told him that they had received orders to consent to the evacuation of the towns, and immediately to conclude and sign the peace. Van Boverning might have refused compliance, because it was now impossible to procure the consent and concurrence of Spain; but he had entertained so just an idea of the fluctuations in the English counsels, and was so much alarmed by the late commission given to Du Cros, that he deemed it fortunate for the republic to finish on any terms a dangerous war, where they were likely to be very ill supported. The papers were instantly drawn, and signed by the ministers of France and Holland between eleven and twelve o'clock at night. By this treaty, France secured the possession of Franche Compte, together with Cambray, Aire, St. Omers, Valenciennes, Tournay, Ypres, Bouchaine, Cassel, etc., and restored to Spain only Charleroi, Courtrai, Oudenard, Aeth, Ghent, and Limbourg.
Next day, Temple received an express from England, which brought the ratifications of the treaty lately concluded with the states, together with orders immediately to proceed to the exchange of them. Charles was now returned to his former inclinations for war with France.
Van Beverning was loudly exclaimed against by the ambassadors of the allies at Nimeguen, especially those of Brandenburg and Denmark, whose masters were obliged by the treaty to restore all their acquisitions. The ministers of Spain and the emperor were sullen and disgusted; and all men hoped that the states, importuned and encouraged by continual solicitations from England, would disavow their ambassador, and renew the war. The prince of Orange even took an extraordinary step, in order to engage them to that measure; or perhaps to give vent to his own spleen and resentment. The day after signing the peace at Nimeguen, he attacked the French army at St. Dennis, near Mons; and gained some advantage over Luxembourg, who rested secure on the faith of the treaty, and concluded the war to be finished. The prince knew, at least had reason to believe, that the peace was signed, though it had not been formally notified to him; and he here sacrificed wantonly, without a proper motive, the lives of many brave men on both sides, who fell in this sharp and well-contested action.
Hyde was sent over with a view of persuading the states to disavow Van Beverning; and the king promised that England, if she might depend on Holland, would immediately declare war, and would pursue it, till France were reduced to reasonable conditions. Charles at present went further than words. He hurried on the embarkation of his army for Flanders and all his preparations wore a hostile appearance. But the states had been too often deceived to trust him any longer. They ratified the treaty signed at Nimeguen; and all the other powers of Europe were at last, after much clamor and many disgusts, obliged to accept of the terms prescribed to them.
Lewis had now reached the height of that glory which ambition can afford. His ministers and negotiators appeared as much superior to those of all Europe in the cabinet, as his generals and armies had been experienced in the field. A successful war had been carried on against an alliance, composed of the greatest potentates in Europe. Considerable conquests had been made, and his territories enlarged on every side. An advantageous peace was at last concluded, where he had given the law. The allies were so enraged against each other, that they were not likely to cement soon in any new confederacy. And thus he had, during some years a real prospect of attaining the monarchy of Europe, and of exceeding the empire of Charlemagne, perhaps equalling that of ancient Rome. Had England continued much longer in the same condition, and under the same government, it is not easy to conceive that he could have failed of his purpose.
In proportion as these circumstances exalted the French, they excited indignation among the English, whose animosity, roused by terror, mounted to a great height against that rival nation. Instead of taking the lead in the affairs of Europe, Charles, they thought, had, contrary to his own honor and interest, acted a part entirely subservient to the common enemy; and in all his measures had either no project at all, or such as was highly criminal and dangerous. While Spain, Holland, the emperor, the princes of Germany, called aloud on England to lead them to victory and to liberty, and conspired to raise her to a station more glorious than she had ever before attained, her king, from mean, pecuniary motives, had secretly sold his alliance to Lewis, and was bribed into an interest contrary to that of his people. His active schemes in conjunction with France were highly pernicious; his neutrality was equally ignominious; and the jealous, refractory behavior of the parliament, though in itself dangerous, was the only remedy for so many greater ills, with which the public, from the misguided counsels of the king, was so nearly threatened. Such, were the dispositions of men's minds at the conclusion of the peace of Nimeguen: and these dispositions naturally prepared the way for the events which followed.
We must now return to the affairs of Scotland, which we left in some disorder, after the suppression of the insurrection in 1666. The king, who at that time endeavored to render himself popular in England, adopted like measures in Scot-* land, and he intrusted the government into the hands chiefly of Tweddale and Sir Robert Murray, men of prudence and moderation. These ministers made it their principal object to compose the religious differences, which ran so high, and for which scarcely any modern nation but the Dutch had as yet found the proper remedy. As rigor and restraint had failed of success in Scotland, a scheme of comprehension was tried; by which it was intended to diminish greatly the authority of bishops, to abolish their negative voice in the ecclesiastical courts, and to leave them little more than the right of precedency among the Presbyters. But the Presbyterian zealots entertained great jealousy against this scheme. They remembered that, by such gradual steps, King James had endeavored to introduce Episcopacy. Should the ears and eyes of men be once reconciled to the name and habit of bishops, the whole power of the function, they dreaded, would soon follow: the least communication with unlawful and anti-Christian institutions they esteemed dangerous and criminal. "Touch not, taste not, handle not;" this cry went out amongst them: and the king's ministers at last perceived, that they should prostitute the dignity of government, by making advances, to which the malecontents were determined not to correspond.
The next project adopted was that of indulgence. In prosecution of this scheme, the most popular of the expelled preachers, without requiring any terms of submission to the established religion, were settled in vacant churches; and small salaries of about twenty pounds a year were offered to the rest, till they should otherwise be provided for. These last refused the king's bounty, which they considered as the wages of a criminal silence. Even the former soon repented their compliance. The people, who had been accustomed to hear them rail against their superiors, and preach to the times, as they termed it, deemed their sermons languid and spiritless when deprived of these ornaments. Their usual gifts, they thought, had left them, on account of their submission, which was stigmatized as Erastianism. They gave them the appellation, not of ministers of Christ, but of the king's curates, as the clergy of the established church were commonly denominated the bishop's curates. The preachers themselves returned in a little time to their former practices, by which they hoped to regain their former dominion over the minds of men. The conventicles multiplied daily in the west; the clergy of the established church were insulted; the laws were neglected; the Covenanters even met daily in arms at their places of worship; and though they usually dispersed themselves after divine service, yet the government took a just alarm at seeing men, who were so entirely governed by their seditious teachers, dare to set authority at defiance, and during a time of full peace to put themselves in a military posture.
There was here, it is apparent, in the political body, a disease dangerous and inveterate; and the government had tried every remedy but the true one to allay and correct it. An unlimited toleration, after sects have diffused themselves and are strongly rooted, is the only expedient which can allay their fervor, and make the civil union acquire a superiority above religious distinctions. But as the operations of this regimen are commonly gradual, and at first imperceptible, vulgar politicians are apt, for that reason, to have recourse to more hasty and more dangerous remedies. It is observable too, that these nonconformists in Scotland neither offered nor demanded toleration; but laid claim to an entire superiority, and to the exercise of extreme rigor against their adversaries. The covenant, which they idolized, was a persecuting, as well as a seditious band of confederacy; and the government, instead of treating them like madmen, who should be soothed, and flattered, and deceived into tranquillity, thought themselves entitled to a rigid obedience, and were too apt, from a mistaken policy, to retaliate upon the dissenters, who had erred from the spirit of enthusiasm.
Amidst these disturbances, a new parliament was assembled at Edinburgh;[*] and Lauderdale was sent down commissioner. The zealous Presbyterians, who were the chief patrons of liberty, were too obnoxious to resist, with any success, the measures of government; and in parliament the tide still ran strongly in favor of monarchy.
     * October 19, 1669.
The commissioner had such influence as to get two acts passed, which were of great consequence to the ecclesiastical and civil liberties of the kingdom. By the one it was declared, that the settling of all things with regard to the external government of the church, was a right of the crown: that whatever related to ecclesiastical meetings, matters, and persons, was to be ordered according to such directions as the king should send to his privy council: and that these, being published by them should have the force of laws. The other act regarded the militia, which the king by his own authority had two years before established, instead of the army which was disbanded. By this act, the militia was settled, to the number of twenty-two thousand men, who were to be constantly armed and regularly disciplined. And it was further enacted, that these troops should be held in readiness to march into England, Ireland, or any part of the king's dominions, for any cause in which his majesty's authority, power, or greatness was concerned; on receiving orders, not from the king himself, but from the privy council of Scotland.
Lauderdale boasted extremely of his services in procuring these two laws. The king by the former was rendered absolute master of the church, and might legally, by his edict, reëstablish, if he thought proper, the Catholic religion in Scotland. By the latter, he saw a powerful force ready at his call: he had even the advantage of being able to disguise his orders under the name of the privy council; and in case of failure in his enterprises, could by such a pretence apologize for his conduct to the parliament of England. But in proportion as these laws were agreeable to the king, they gave alarm to the English commons, and were the chief cause of the redoubled attacks which they made upon Lauderdale. These attacks, however, served only to fortify him in his interest with the king; and though it is probable that the militia of Scotland, during the divided state of that kingdom, would, if matters had come to extremities, have been of little service against England, yet did Charles regard the credit of it as a considerable support to his authority: and Lauderdale, by degrees, became the prime, or rather sole, minister for Scotland. The natural indolence of the king disposed him to place entire confidence in a man who had so far extended the royal prerogative, and who was still disposed to render it absolutely uncontrollable.
In a subsequent session of the same parliament,[*] a severe law was enacted against conventicles.
     * July 28, 1670.
Ruinous fines were imposed both on the preachers and hearers, even if the meetings had been in houses; but field conventicles were subjected to the penalty of death and confiscation of goods: four hundred marks Scotch were offered as a reward to those who should seize the criminals; and they were indemnified for any slaughter which they might commit in the execution of such an undertaking. And as it was found difficult to get evidence against these conventicles, however numerous, it was enacted by another law, that whoever, being required by the council, refused to give information upon oath, should be punished by arbitrary fines, by imprisonment, or by banishment to the plantations; Thus all persecution naturally, or rather necessarily, adopts the iniquities, as well as rigors, of the inquisition. What a considerable part of the society consider as their duty and honor, and even many of the opposite party are apt to regard with compassion and indulgence, can by no other expedient be subjected to such severe penalties as the natural sentiments of mankind appropriate only to the greatest crimes.
Though Lauderdale found this ready compliance in the parliament, a party was formed against him, of which Duke Hamilton was the head. This nobleman, with Tweddale and others, went to London, and applied to the king, who, during the present depression and insignificance of parliament, was alone able to correct the abuses of Lauderdale's administration. But even their complaints to him might be dangerous; and all approaches of truth to the throne were barred by the ridiculous law against leasing-making; a law which seems to have been extorted by the ancient nobles, in order to protect their own tyranny, oppression, and injustice. Great precautions, therefore, were used by the Scottish malecontents in their representations to the king; but no redress was obtained. Charles loaded them with caresses, and continued Lauderdale in his authority.
A very bad, at least a severe use was made of this authority. The privy council dispossessed twelve gentlemen or noblemen of their houses;[*] which were converted into so many garrisons, established for the suppression of conventicles. The nation, it was pretended, was really, on account of these religious assemblies, in a state of war; and by the ancient law, the king, in such an emergence, was empowered to place a garrison in any house where he should judge it expedient.
     * In 1675.
It were endless to recount every act of violence and arbitrary authority exercised during Lauderdale's administration.
All the lawyers were put from the bar, nay, banished by the King's order twelve miles from the capital, and by that means the whole justice of the kingdom was suspended for a year; till these lawyers were brought to declare it as their opinion, that all appeals to parliament were illegal. A letter was procured from the king, for expelling twelve of the chief magistrates of Edinburgh, and declaring them incapable of all public office; though their only crime had been their want of compliance with Lauderdale. The boroughs of Scotland have a privilege of meeting once a year by their deputies, in order to consider the state of trade, and make by-laws for its regulation: in this convention a petition was voted, complaining of some late acts which obstructed commerce; and praying the king, that he would empower his commissioner, in the next session of parliament, to give his assent for repealing them. For this presumption, as it was called, several of the members were fined and imprisoned. One More, a member of parliament, having moved in the house, that, in imitation of the English parliament, no bill should pass except after three readings, he was, for this pretended offence, immediately sent to prison by the commissioner.
The private deportment of Lauderdale was as insolent and provoking as his public administration was violent and tyrannical. Justice, likewise, was universally perverted by faction and interest: and from the great rapacity of that duke, and still more of his duchess, all offices and favors were openly put to sale. No one was allowed to approach the throne who was not dependent on him; and no remedy could be hoped for or obtained against his manifold oppressions. The case of Mitchel shows, that this minister was as much destitute of truth and honor as of lenity and justice.
Mitchel was a desperate fanatic, and had entertained a resolution of assassinating Sharpe, archbishop of St. Andrews, who, by his former apostasy and subsequent rigor, had rendered himself extremely odious to the Covenanters. In the year 1668, Mitchel fired a pistol at the primate, as he was sitting in his coach; but the bishop of Orkney, stepping into the coach, happened to stretch out his arm, which intercepted the ball, and was much shattered by it. This happened in the principal street of the city; but so generally was the archbishop hated, that the assassin was allowed peaceably to walk off; and having turned a street or two, and thrown off a wig which disguised him, he immediately appeared in public, and remained altogether unsuspected. Some years after, Sharpe remarked one who seemed to eye him very eagerly; and being still anxious lest an attempt of assassination should be renewed, he ordered the man to be seized and examined. Two loaded pistols were found upon him; and as he was now concluded to be the author of the former attempt, Sharpe promised that if he would confess his guilt, he should be dismissed without any punishment. Mitchel (for the conjecture was just) was so credulous as to believe him; but was immediately produced before the council by the faithless primate. The council, having no proof against him, but hoping to involve the whole body of Covenanters in this odious crime, solemnly renewed the promise of pardon, if he would make a full discovery; and it was a great disappointment to them, when they found, upon his confession, that only one person, who was now dead, had been acquainted with his bloody purpose. Mitchel was then carried before a court of judicature, and required to renew his confession; but being apprehensive, lest, though a pardon for life had been promised him, other corporal punishment might still be inflicted, he refused compliance; and was sent back to prison. He was next examined before the council, under pretence of his being concerned in the insurrection at Pentland; and though no proof appeared against him, he was put to the question, and, contrary to the most obvious principles of equity, was urged to accuse himself. He endured the torture with singular resolution, and continued obstinate in the denial of a crime, of which, it is believed, he really was not guilty. Instead of obtaining his liberty, he was sent to the Bass, a very high rock surrounded by the sea; at this time converted into a state prison, and full of the unhappy Covenanters, He there remained in great misery, loaded with irons, till the year 1677, when it was resolved, by some new examples, to strike a fresh terror into the persecuted but still obstinate enthusiasts. Mitchel was then brought before a court of judicature, and put upon his trial for an attempt to assassinate an archbishop and a privy counsellor. His former confession was pleaded against him, and was proved by the testimony of the duke of Lauderdale, lord commissioner, Lord Hatton his brother, the earl of Rothes, and the primate himself. Mitchel, besides maintaining that the privy council was no court of judicature, and that a confession before them was not judicial, asserted that he had been engaged to make that confession by a solemn promise of pardon. The four privy counsellors denied upon with that any such promise had ever been given. The prisoner then desired that the council books might be produced in court, and even offered a copy of that day's proceedings to be read; but the privy counsellors maintained, that, after they had made oath, no further proof could be admitted, and that the books of council contained the king's secrets, which were on no account to be divulged. They were not probably aware, when they swore, that the clerk having engrossed the promise of pardon in the narrative of Mitchel's confession, the whole minute had been signed by the chancellor, and that the proofs of their perjury were by that means committed to record. Though the prisoner was condemned, Lauderdale was still inclined to pardon him; but the unrelenting primate rigorously insisted upon his execution, and said, that if assassins remained unpunished, his life must be exposed to perpetual danger. Mitchel was accordingly executed at Edinburgh, in January, 1678. Such a complication of cruelty and treachery shows the character of those ministers to whom the king at this time intrusted the government of Scotland.
Lauderdale's administration, besides the iniquities arising from the violence of his temper, and the still greater iniquities inseparable from all projects of persecution, was attended with other circumstances which engaged him in severe and arbitrary measures. An absolute government was to be introduced, which on its commencement is often most rigorous; and tyranny was still obliged, for want of military power, to cover itself under an appearance of law; a situation which rendered it extremely awkward in its motions, and, by provoking opposition, extended the violence of its oppressions.
The rigors exercised against conventicles, instead of breaking the spirit of the fanatics, had tended only, as is usual, to render them more obstinate, to increase the fervor of then zeal, to link them more closely together, and to inflame them against the established hierarchy. The commonalty, almost every where in the south, particularly in the western counties frequented conventicles without reserve; and the gentry though they themselves commonly abstained from these illegal places of worship, connived at this irregularity in their inferiors. In order to interest the former on the side of the persecutors, a bond or contract was, by order of the privy council, tendered to the landlords in the west, by which they were to engage for the good behavior of their tenants; and in case any tenant frequented a conventicle, the landlord was to subject himself to the same fine as could by law be exacted from the delinquent. It was ridiculous to give sanction to laws by voluntary contracts: it was iniquitous to make one man answerable for the conduct of another: it was illegal to impose such hard conditions upon men who had nowise offended. For these reasons, the greater part of the gentry refused to sign these bonds; and Lauderdale, enraged at this opposition, endeavored to break their spirit by expedients which were still more unusual and more arbitrary.
The law enacted against conventicles had called them seminaries of rebellion. This expression, which was nothing but a flourish of rhetoric, Lauderdale and the privy council were willing to understand in a literal sense; and because the western counties abounded in conventicles, though otherwise in profound peace, they pretended that these counties were in a state of actual war and rebellion. They made therefore an agreement with some highland chieftains to call out their clans, to the number of eight thousand men: to these they joined the guards, and the militia of Angus; and they sent the whole to live at free quarters upon the lands of such as had refused the bonds illegally required of them. The obnoxious counties were the most populous and most industrious in Scotland. The Highlanders were the people the most disorderly and the least civilized. It is easy to imagine the havoc and destruction which ensued. A multitude, not accustomed to discipline, averse to the restraint of laws, trained up in rapine and violence, were let loose amidst those whom they were taught to regard as enemies to their prince and to their religion. Nothing escaped their ravenous hands: by menaces, by violence, and sometimes by tortures, men were obliged to discover their concealed wealth. Neither age, nor sex, nor innocence afforded protection; and the gentry, finding that even those who had been most compliant, and who had subscribed the bonds, were equally exposed to the rapacity of those barbarians, confirmed themselves still more in the resolution of refusing them. The voice of the nation was raised against this enormous outrage; and after two months' free quarter, the highlanders were sent back to their hills, loaded with the spoils and execrations of the west.
Those who had been engaged to subscribe the bonds, could find no security but by turning out such tenants as they suspected of an inclination to conventicles, and thereby depopulating their estates. To increase the misery of these unhappy farmers, the council enacted, that none should be received any where, or allowed a habitation, who brought not a certificate of his conformity from the parish minister. That the obstinate and refractory might not escape further persecution, a new device was fallen upon. By the law of Scotland, any man who should go before a magistrate, and swear that he thought himself in danger from another, might obtain a writ of law-burrows, as it is called; by which the latter was bound, under the penalty of imprisonment and outlawry, to find security for his good behavior. Lauderdale entertained the absurd notion of making the king sue out writs of law-burrows against his subjects. On this pretence, the refusers of the bonds were summoned to appear before the council, and were required to bind themselves, under the penalty of two years' rent, neither to frequent conventicles themselves, nor allow their family and tenants to be present at those unlawful assemblies. Thus chicanery was joined to tyranny; and the majesty of the king, instead of being exalted, was in reality prostituted; as if he were obliged to seek the same security which one neighbor might require of another.
It was an old law, but seldom executed, that a man who was accused of any crime, and did not appear in order to stand his trial, might be intercommuned, that is, he might be publicly outlawed; and whoever afterwards, either on account of business, relation, nay, charity, had the least intercourse with him, was subjected to the same penalties as could by law be inflicted on the criminal himself. Several writs of intercommuning were now issued against the hearers and preachers in conventicles; and by this severe and even absurd law, crimes and guilt went on multiplying in a geometrical proportion. Where laws themselves are so violent, it is no wonder that an administration should be tyrannical.
Lest the cry of an oppressed people should reach the throne, the council forbade, under severe penalties, all noblemen or gentlemen of landed property to leave the kingdom, a severe edict, especially where the sovereign himself resided in a foreign country. Notwithstanding this act of council, Cassilis first, afterwards Hamilton and Tweddale, went to London, and laid their complaints before the king. These violent proceedings of Lauderdale were opposite to the natural temper of Charles and he immediately issued orders for discontinuing the bonds and the writs of law-burrows. But as he was commonly little touched with what lay at a distance, he entertained not the proper indignation against those who had abused his authority: even while he retracted these oppressive measures, he was prevailed with to avow and praise them in a letter which he wrote to the privy council. This proof of confidence might fortify the hands of the ministry; but the king ran a manifest risk of losing the affections of his subjects, by not permitting even those who were desirous of it to distinguish between him and their oppressors.
It is reported[*] that Charles, after a full hearing of the debates concerning Scottish affairs, said, "I perceive that Lauderdale has been guilty of many bad things against the people of Scotland; but I cannot find that he has acted any thing contrary to my interest;" a sentiment unworthy of a sovereign.
     * Burnet.
During the absence of Hamilton and the other discontented lords, the king allowed Lauderdale to summon a convention of estates at Edinburgh. This assembly, besides granting some money, bestowed applause on all Lauderdale's administration, and in their addresses to the king, expressed the highest contentment and satisfaction. But these instances of complaisance had the contrary effect in England from what was expected by the contrivers of them. All men there concluded, that in Scotland the very voice of liberty was totally suppressed; and that, by the prevalence of tyranny, grievances were so rivetted, that it was become dangerous even to mention them, or complain to the prince, who alone was able to redress them. From the slavery of the neighboring kingdom, they inferred the arbitrary disposition of the king; and from the violence with which sovereign power was there exercised, they apprehended the miseries which might ensue to themselves upon their loss of liberty. If persecution, it was asked, by a Protestant church could be carried to such extremes, what might be dreaded from the prevalence of Popery, which had ever, in all ages, made open profession of exterminating by fire and sword every opposite sect or communion? And if the first approaches towards unlimited authority were so tyrannical, how dismal its final establishment; when all dread of opposition should at last be removed by mercenary armies, and all sense of shame by long and inveterate habit!




CHAPTER LXVII.





Charles II.

1678
THE English nation, ever since the fatal league with France, had entertained violent jealousies against the court; and the subsequent measures adopted by the king had tended more to increase than cure the general prejudices. Some mysterious design was still suspected in every enterprise and profession: arbitrary power and Popery were apprehended as the scope of all projects: each breath or rumor made the people start with anxiety: their enemies, they thought, were in their very bosom, and had gotten possession of their sovereign's confidence. While in this timorous, jealous disposition, the cry of a plot all on a sudden struck their ears: they were wakened from their slumber: and like men affrightened and in the dark, took every figure for a spectre. The terror of each man became the source of terror to another. And a universal panic being diffused, reason and argument, and common sense and common humanity, lost all influence over them. From this disposition of men's minds we are to account for the progress of the Popish plot, and the credit given to it; an event which would otherwise appear prodigious and altogether inexplicable.
On the twelfth of August, one Kirby, a chemist, accosted the king as he was walking in the park. "Sir," said he, "keep within the company: your enemies have a design upon your life; and you may be shot in this very walk." Being asked the reason of these strange speeches, he said, that two men, called Grove and Pickering, had engaged to shoot the king, and Sir George Wakeman, the queen's physician, to poison him. This intelligence, he added, had been communicated to him by Dr. Tongue, whom, if permitted, he would introduce to his majesty. Tongue was a divine of the church of England; a man active, restless, full of projects, void of understanding. He brought papers to the king, which contained information of a plot, and were digested into forty-three articles. The king, not having leisure to peruse them, sent them to the treasurer, Danby, and ordered the two informers to lay the business before that minister. Tongue confessed to Danby, that he himself had not drawn the papers; that they had been secretly thrust under his door; and that, though he suspected, he did not certainly know who was the author. After a few days, he returned, and told the treasurer, that his suspicions, he found, were just; and that the author of the intelligence, whom he had met twice or thrice in the street, had acknowledged the whole matter, and had given him a more particular account of the conspiracy, but desired that his name might be concealed, being apprehensive lest the Papists should murder him.
The information was renewed with regard to Grove's and Pickering's intentions of shooting the king; and Tongue even pretended, that, at a particular time, they were to set out for Windsor with that intention. Orders were given for arresting them, as soon as they should appear in that place: but though this alarm was more than once renewed, some frivolous reasons were still found by Tongue for their having delayed the journey. And the king concluded, both from these evasions, and from the mysterious, artificial manner of communicating the intelligence, that the whole was an imposture.
Tongue came next to the treasurer, and told him, that a packet of letters, written by Jesuits concerned in the plot, was that night to be put into the post-house for Windsor, directed to Bennifield, a Jesuit, confessor to the duke. When this intelligence was conveyed to the king, he replied, that the packet mentioned had a few hours before been brought to the duke by Bennifield, who said, that he suspected some bad design upon him; that the letters seemed to contain matters of a dangerous import, and that he knew them not to be the handwriting of the persons whose names were subscribed to them. This incident still further confirmed the king in his incredulity.
The matter had probably slept forever, had it not been for the anxiety of the duke; who, hearing that priests and Jesuits, and even his own confessor, had been accused, was desirous that a thorough inquiry should be made by the council into the pretended conspiracy. Kirby and Tongue were inquired after, and were now found to be living in close connection with Titus Oates, the person who was said to have conveyed the first intelligence to Tongue. Oates affirmed, that he had fallen under suspicion with the Jesuits; that he had received three blows with a stick and a box on the ear from the provincial of that order, for revealing their conspiracy; and that, overhearing them speak of their intentions to punish him more severely, he had withdrawn, and concealed himself. This man, in whose breast was lodged a secret involving the fate of kings and kingdoms, was allowed to remain in such necessity, that Kirby was obliged to supply him with daily bread; and it was a joyful surprise to him, when he heard that the council was at last disposed to take some notice of his intelligence. But as he expected more encouragement from the public than from the king or his ministers, he thought proper, before he was presented to the council, to go with his two companions to Sir Edmundsbury Godfrey, a noted and active justice of peace, and to give evidence before him of all the articles of the conspiracy.
The wonderful intelligence which Oates conveyed both to Godfrey and the council, and afterwards to the parliament, was to this purpose.[*]
     * Oates's Narrative.
The pope, he said, on examining the matter in the congregation de propaganda, had found himself entitled to the possession of England and Ireland on account of the heresy of prince and people, and had accordingly assumed the sovereignty of these kingdoms. This supreme power he had thought proper to delegate to the society of Jesuits; and De Oliva, general of that order, in consequence of the papal grant, had exerted every act of regal authority, and particularly had supplied, by commissions under the seal of the society, all the chief offices, both civil and military. Lord Arundel was created chancellor, Lord Powis treasurer, Sir William Godolphin privy seal, Coleman secretary of state, Langhorne attorney-general, Lord Bellasis general of the papal army, Lord Peters lieutenant-general, Lord Stafford paymaster; and inferior commissions, signed by the provincial of the Jesuits, were distributed all over England. All the dignities too of the church were filled, and many of them with Spaniards and other foreigners. The provincial had held a consult of the Jesuits under his authority; where the king, whom they opprobriously called the Black Bastard, was solemnly tried and condemned as a heretic, and a resolution taken to put him to death. Father Le Shee (for so this great plotter and informer called Father La Chaise, the noted confessor of the French king) had consigned in London ten thousand pounds, to be paid to any man who should merit it by this assassination. A Spanish provincial had expressed like liberality: the prior of the Benedictines was willing to go the length of six thousand. The Dominicans approved of the action, but pleaded poverty. Ten thousand pounds had been offered to Sir George Wakeman, the queen's physician, who demanded fifteen thousand, as a reward for so great a service: his demand was complied with; and five thousand had been paid him by advance. Lest his means should fail, four Irish ruffians had been hired by the Jesuits, at the rate of twenty guineas apiece, to stab the king at Windsor; and Coleman, secretary to the late duchess of York, had given the messenger, who carried them orders, a guinea to quicken his diligence. Grove and Pickering were also employed to shoot the king with silver bullets: the former was to receive the sum of fifteen hundred pounds; the latter, being a pious man, was to be rewarded with thirty thousand masses, which, estimating masses at a shilling apiece, amounted to a like value. Pickering would have executed his purpose, had not the flint at one time dropped out of his pistol, at another time the priming. Coniers, the Jesuit, had bought a knife at the price of ten shillings, which he thought was not dear, considering the purpose for which he intended it, to wit, stabbing the king. Letters of subscription were circulated among the Catholics all over England, to raise a sum for the same purpose. No less than fifty Jesuits had met, in May last, at the White Horse Tavern, where it was unanimously agreed to put the king to death. This synod did afterwards, for more convenience, divide themselves into many lesser cabals or companies; and Oates was employed to carry notes and letters from one to another, all tending to the same end, of murdering the king. He even carried, from one company to another, a paper, in which they formally expressed their resolution of executing that deed; and it was regularly subscribed by all of them. A wager of a hundred pounds was laid, and stakes made, that the king should eat no more Christmas pies. In short, it was determined, to use the expression of a Jesuit, that if he would not become R. C., (Roman Catholic,) he should no longer be C. R., (Charles Rex.) The great fire of London had been the work of the Jesuits, who had employed eighty or eighty-six persons for that purpose, and had expended seven hundred fire-balls; but they had a good return for their money, for they had been able to pilfer goods from the fire to the amount of fourteen thousand pounds: the Jesuits had also raised another fire on St. Margaret's Hill, whence they had stolen goods to the value of two thousand pounds; another at Southwark: and it was determined in like manner to burn all the chief cities in England. A paper model was already framed for the firing London; the stations were regularly marked out, where the several fires were to commence; and the whole plan of operations were so concerted, that precautions were taken by the Jesuits to vary their measures, according to the variation of the wind. Fire-balls were familiarly called among them Teuxbury mustard pills; and were said to contain a notable biting sauce. In the great fire, it had been determined to murder the king; but he had displayed such diligence and humanity in extinguishing the flames, that even the Jesuits relented, and spared his life. Besides these assassinations and fires, insurrections, rebellions, and massacres were projected by that religious order in all the three kingdoms. There were twenty thousand Catholics in London, who would rise in four and twenty hours, or less; and Jennison, a Jesuit, said, that they might easily cut the throats of a hundred thousand Protestants. Eight thousand Catholics had agreed to take arms in Scotland. Ormond was to be murdered by four Jesuits; a general massacre of the Irish Protestants was concerted; and forty thousand black bills were already provided for that purpose. Coleman had remitted two hundred thousand pounds to promote the rebellion in Ireland; and the French king was to land a great army in that island. Poole, who wrote the Synopsis, was particularly marked out for assassination; as was also Dr. Stillingfleet, a controversial writer against the Papists. Burnet tells us, that Oates paid him the same compliment. After all this havoc, the crown was to be offered to the duke, but on the following conditions: that he receive it as a gift from the pope; that he confirm all the papal commissions for offices and employments; that he ratify all past transactions, by pardoning the incendiaries, and the murderers of his brother and of the people; and that he consent to the utter extirpation of the Protestant religion. If he refuse these conditions, he himself was immediately to be poisoned or assassinated. "To pot James must go," according to the expression ascribed by Oates to the Jesuits.
Oates, the informer of this dreadful plot, was himself the most infamous of mankind. He was the son of an Anabaptist preacher, chaplain to Colonel Pride; but having taken orders in the church, he had been settled in a small living by the duke of Norfolk. He had been indicted for perjury, and by some means had escaped. He was afterwards a chaplain on board the fleet; whence he had been dismissed on complaint of some unnatural practices not fit to be named. He then became a convert to the Catholics; but he afterwards boasted, that his conversion was a mere pretence, in order to get into their secrets and to betray them.[*] He was sent over to the Jesuits' college at St. Omers, and though above thirty years of age, he there lived some time among the students. He was despatched on an errand to Spain; and thence returned to St. Omers; where the Jesuits, heartily tired of their convert, at last dismissed him from their seminary. It is likely that, from resentment of this usage, as well as from want and indigence, he was induced, in combination with Tongue, to contrive that plot of which he accused the Catholics.
This abandoned man, when examined before the council, betrayed his impostures in such a manner, as would have utterly discredited the most consistent story, and the most reputable evidence. While in Spain, he had been carried, he said, to Don John, who promised great assistance to the execution of the Catholic designs. The king asked him what sort of a man Don John was: he answered, a tall, lean man; directly contrary to truth, as the king well knew.[**] He totally mistook the situation of the Jesuits' college at Paris.[***] Though he pretended great intimacies with Coleman, he knew him not, when placed very near him; and had no other excuse than that his sight was bad in candle light.[****] He fell into like mistakes with regard to Wakeman.
     * Burnet Echard, North, L'Estrange, etc.

     ** Burnet North.

     *** North.

     **** Burnet, North, Trials.
Notwithstanding these objections, great attention was paid to Oates's evidence, and the plot became very soon the subject of conversation, and even the object of terror to the people. The violent animosity which had been excited against the Catholics in general, made the public swallow the grossest absurdities, when they accompanied an accusation of those religionists: and the more diabolical any contrivance appeared, the better it suited the tremendous idea entertained of a Jesuit. Danby, likewise, who stood in opposition to the French and Catholic interest at court, was willing to encourage every story which might serve to discredit that party. By his suggestion, when a warrant was signed for arresting Coleman, there was inserted a clause for seizing his papers; a circumstance attended with the most important consequences.
Coleman, partly on his own account, partly by orders from the duke, had been engaged in a correspondence with Father La Chaise, with the pope's nuncio at Brussels, and with other Catholics abroad; and being himself a fiery zealot, busy and sanguine, the expressions in his letters often betrayed great violence and indiscretion. His correspondence, during the years 1674, 1675, and part of 1676, was seized, and contained many extraordinary passages. In particular, he said to La Chaise, "We have here a mighty work upon our hands, no less than the conversion of three kingdoms, and by that perhaps the utter subduing of a pestilent heresy, which has a long time domineered over a great part of this northern world. There were never such hopes of success since the days of Queen Mary, as now in our days. God has given us a prince," meaning the duke, "who is become (may I say a miracle) zealous of being the author and instrument of so glorious a work; but the opposition we are sure to meet with is also like to be great: so that it imports us to get all the aid and assistance we can." In another letter he said, "I can scarce believe myself awake, or the thing real, when I think of a prince in such an age as we live in, converted to such a degree of zeal and piety, as not to regard any thing in the world in comparison of God Almighty's glory, the salvation of his own soul, and the conversion of our poor kingdom." In other passages, the interests of the crown of England, those of the French king, and those of the Catholic religion, are spoken of as inseparable. The duke is also said to have connected his interests unalterably with those of Lewis. The king himself, he affirms, is always inclined to favor the Catholics, when he may do it without hazard. "Money," Coleman adds, "cannot fail of persuading the king to any thing. There is nothing it cannot make him do, were it ever so much to his prejudice. It has such an absolute power over him that he cannot resist it. Logic, built upon money, has in our court more powerful charms than any other sort of argument." For these reasons, he proposed to Father La Chaise, that the French king should remit the sum of three hundred thousand pounds, on condition that the parliament be dissolved; a measure to which, he affirmed, the king was of himself sufficiently inclined, were it not for his hopes of obtaining money from that assembly. The parliament, he said, had already constrained the king to make peace with Holland, contrary to the interests of the Catholic religion, and of his most Christian majesty: and if they should meet again, they would surely engage him further, even to the making of war against France. It appears also from the same letters, that the assembling of the parliament so late as April in the year 1675, had been procured by the intrigues of the Catholic and French party, who thereby intended to show the Dutch and their confederates that they could expect no assistance from England.
When the contents of these letters were publicly known, they diffused the panic with which the nation began already to be seized on account of the Popish plot. Men reasoned more from their fears and their passions, than from the evidence before them. It is certain, that the restless and enterprising spirit of the Catholic church, particularly of the Jesuits, merits attention, and is in some degree dangerous to every other communion. Such zeal of proselytism actuates that sect, that its missionaries have penetrated into every nation of the globe; and, in one sense, there is a Popish plot perpetually carrying on against all states, Protestant, Pagan, and Mahometan. It is likewise very probable, that the conversion of the duke, and the favor of the king, had inspired the Catholic priests with new hopes of recovering in these islands their lost dominion, and gave fresh vigor to that intemperate zeal by which they are commonly actuated. Their first aim was to obtain a toleration; and such was the evidence, they believed, of their theological tenets, that, could they but procure entire liberty, they must infallibly in time open the eyes of the people. After they had converted considerable numbers, they might be enabled, they hoped, to reinstate themselves in full authority, and entirely to suppress that heresy with which the kingdom had so long been infected. Though these dangers to the Protestant religion were distant, it was justly the object of great concern to find, that the heir of the crown was so blinded with bigotry, and so deeply engaged in foreign interests; and that the king himself had been prevailed on, from low Interests, b hearken to his dangerous insinuations. Very bad consequences might ensue from such perverse habits and attachments; nor could the nation and parliament guard against them with too anxious a precaution. But that the Roman pontiff could hope to assume the sovereignty of these kingdoms; a project which, even during the darkness of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, would have appeared chimerical: that he should delegate this authority to the Jesuits, that order in the Romish church which was the most hated: that a massacre could be attempted of the Protestants, who surpassed the Catholics a hundred fold, and were invested with the whole authority of the state: that the king himself was to be assassinated, and even the duke, the only support of their party: these were such absurdities as no human testimony was sufficient to prove; much less the evidence of one man, who was noted for infamy, and who could not keep himself, every moment, from falling into the grossest inconsistencies. Did such intelligence deserve even so much attention as to be refuted, it would appear, that Coleman's letters were sufficient alone to destroy all its credit. For how could so long a train of correspondence be carried on by a man so much trusted by the party, and yet no traces of insurrections, if really intended, of fires, massacres, assassinations, invasions, be ever discovered in any single passage of these letters? But all such reflections, and many more equally obvious, were vainly employed against that general prepossession with which the nation was seized. Oates's plot and Coleman's were universally confounded together: and the evidence of the latter being unquestionable, the belief of the former, aided by the passions of hatred and of terror, took possession of the whole people.
There was danger, however, lest time might open the eyes of the public; when the murder of Godfrey completed the general delusion, and rendered the prejudices of the nation absolutely incurable. This magistrate had been missing some days; and after much search, and many surmises, his body was found lying in a ditch at Primrose Hill: the marks of strangling were thought to appear about his neck, and some contusions on his breast: his own sword was sticking in the body; but as no considerable quantity of blood ensued on drawing it out, it was concluded, that it had been thrust in after his death, and that he had not killed himself: he had rings on his fingers and money in his pocket; it was therefore inferred that he had not fallen into the hands of robbers. Without further reasoning, the cry rose, that he had been assassinated by the Papists, on account of his taking Oates's evidence. This clamor was quickly propagated, and met with universal belief. The panic spread itself on every side with infinite rapidity; and all men, astonished with fear, and animated with rage, saw in Godfrey's fate all the horrible designs ascribed to the Catholics: and no further doubt remained of Oates's veracity. The voice of the nation united against that hated sect; and notwithstanding that the bloody conspiracy was supposed to be now detected, men could scarcely be persuaded that their lives were yet in safety. Each hour teemed with new rumors and surmises. Invasions from abroad, insurrections at home, even private murders and poisonings, were apprehended. To deny the reality of the plot was to be an accomplice: to hesitate was criminal: royalist, republican; churchman, sectary; courtier, patriot; all parties concurred in the illusion. The city prepared for its defence as if the enemy were at its gates: the chains and posts were put up: and it was a noted saying at that time of Sir Thomas Player, the chamberlain, that, were it not for these precautions, all the citizens might rise next morning with their throats cut.[*]
In order to propagate the popular frenzy, several artifices were employed. The dead body of Godfrey was carried into the city, attended by vast multitudes. It was publicly exposed in the streets, and viewed by all ranks of men; and every one who saw it went away inflamed, as well by the mutual contagion of sentiments, as by the dismal spectacle itself. The funeral pomp was celebrated with great parade. The corpse was conducted through the chief streets of the city: seventy-two clergymen marched before: above a thousand persons of distinction followed after: and at the funeral sermon, two able-bodied divines mounted the pulpit, and stood on each side o. the preacher, lest in paying the last duties to this unhappy magistrate, he should, before the whole people, be murdered by the Papists,[**]
     * North, p. 206.

     **North p. 205.
In this disposition of the nation, reason could no more be heard than a whisper in the midst of the most violent hurricane. Even at present, Godfrey's murder can scarcely, upon any system, be rationally accounted for. That he was assassinated by the Catholics, seems utterly improbable. These religionists could not be engaged to commit that crime from policy, in order to deter other magistrates from acting against them. Godfrey's fate was nowise capable of producing that effect, unless it were publicly known that the Catholics were his murderers; an opinion which, it was easy to foresee, must prove the ruin of their party. Besides, how many magistrates, during more than a century, had acted in the most violent manner against the Catholics, without its being ever suspected that any one had been cut off by assassination? Such jealous times as the present were surely ill fitted for beginning these dangerous experiments. Shall we therefore say, that the Catholics were pushed on, not by policy, but by blind revenge, against Godfrey? But Godfrey had given them little or no occasion of offence in taking Oates's evidence. His part was merely an act of form belonging to his office; nor could he, or any man in his station, possibly refuse it. In the rest of his conduct, he lived on good terms with the Catholics, and was far from distinguishing himself by his severity against that sect. It is even certain, that he had contracted an intimacy with Coleman, and took care to inform his friend of the danger to which, by reason of Oates's evidence, he was at present exposed.
There are some writers who, finding it impossible to account for Godfrey's murder by the machinations of the Catholics, have recourse to the opposite supposition. They lay hold of that obvious presumption, that those commit the crime who reap advantage by it; and they affirm, that it was Shaftesbury and the heads of the popular party who perpetrated that deed, in order to throw the odium of it on the Papists. If this supposition be received, it must also be admitted, that the whole plot was the contrivance of these politicians; and that Oates acted altogether under their direction. But it appears that Oates, dreading probably the opposition of powerful enemies, had very anxiously acquitted the duke, Danby, Ormond, and all the ministry; persons who were certainly the most obnoxious to the popular leaders. Besides, the whole texture of the plot contains such low absurdity, that it is impossible to have been the invention of any man of sense or education. It is true the more monstrous and horrible the conspiracy, the better was it fitted to terrify, and thence to convince, the populace: but this effect, we may safely say, no one could beforehand have expected; and a fool was in this case more likely to succeed than a wise man. Had Shaftesbury laid the plan of a Popish conspiracy, he had probably rendered it moderate consistent, credible; and on that very account had never met with the prodigious success with which Oates's tremendous fictions were attended.
We must, therefore, be contented to remain forever ignorant of the actors in Godfrey's murder; and only pronounce in general, that that event in all likelihood, had no connection, one way or other, with the Popish plot. Any man, especially so active a magistrate as Godfrey, might, in such a city as London, have many enemies, of whom his friends and family had no suspicion. He was a melancholy man; and there is some reason, notwithstanding the pretended appearances to the contrary, to suspect that he fell by his own hands. The affair was never examined with tranquillity, or even with common sense, during the time; and it is impossible for us, at this distance, certainly to account for it.
No one doubted but the Papists had assassinated Godfrey; but still the particular actors were unknown. A proclamation was issued by the king, offering a pardon and a reward of five hundred pounds to any one who should discover them. As it was afterwards surmised, that the terror of a like assassination would prevent discovery, a new proclamation was issued, promising absolute protection to any one who should reveal the secret. Thus were indemnity, money, and security offered to the fairest bidder: and no one needed to fear, during the present fury of the people, that his evidence would undergo too severe a scrutiny.
While the nation was in this ferment, the parliament was assembled. In his speech, the king told them, that, though they had given money for disbanding the army,[*] he had found Flanders so exposed, that he had thought it necessary still to keep them on foot, and doubted not but this measure would meet with their approbation. He informed them, that his revenue lay under great anticipations, and at best was never equal to the constant and necessary expense of government; as would appear from the state of it, which he intended to lay before them. He also mentioned the plot formed against his life by Jesuits; but said that he would forbear delivering any opinion of the matter, lest he should seem to say too much or too little; and that he would leave the scrutiny of it entirely to the law.
     * They had granted him six hundred thousand pounds for
     disbanding the army, for reimbursing the charges of his
     naval armament and for paying the princess of Orange's
     portion.
The king was anxious to keep the question of the Popish plot from the parliament; where, he suspected, many designing people would very much abuse the present credulity of the nation, but Danby, who hated the Catholics, and courted popularity, and perhaps hoped that the king, if his life were believed in danger from the Jesuits, would be more cordially loved by the nation, had entertained opposite designs; and the very first day of the session, he opened the matter in the house of peers. The king was extremely displeased with this temerity, and told his minister, "Though you do not believe it, you will find, that you have given the parliament a handle to ruin yourself, as well as to disturb all my affairs; and you will surely live to repent it." Danby had afterwards sufficient reason to applaud the sagacity of his master.
The cry of the plot was immediately echoed from one house to the other. The authority of parliament gave sanction to that fury with which the people were already agitated. An address was voted for a solemn fast: a form of prayer was contrived for that solemnity; and because the Popish plot had been omitted in the first draught, it was carefully ordered to be inserted; lest omniscience should want intelligence, to use the words of an historian.[*]
     * North, p. 207.
In order to continue and propagate the alarm, addresses were voted for laying before the house such papers as might discover the horrible conspiracy; for the removal of Popish recusants from London; for administering every where the oaths of allegiance and supremacy; for denying access at court to all unknown or suspicious persons; and for appointing the train bands of London and Westminster to be in readiness. The lords Powis, Stafford, Arundel, Peters, and Bellasis were committed to the Tower, and were soon after impeached for high treason. And both houses, after hearing Oates's evidence, voted, "That the lords and commons are of opinion, that there hath been, and still is, a damnable and hellish plot, contrived and carried on by the Popish recusants, for assassinating the king, for subverting the government, and for rooting out and destroying the Protestant religion."
So vehement were the houses, that they sat every day, forenoon and afternoon, on the subject of the plot: for no other business could be attended to. A committee of lords was appointed to examine prisoners and witnesses: blank warrants were put into their hands, for the commitment of such as should be accused or suspected. Oates, who, though his evidence were true, must, by his own account, be regarded as an infamous villain, was by every one applauded, caressed and called the savior of the nation. He was recommended by the parliament to the king. He was lodged in Whitehall, protected by guards, and encouraged by a pension of one thousand two hundred pounds a year.
It was not long before such bountiful encouragement brought forth new witnesses. William Bedloe, a man, if possible, more infamous than Gates, appeared next upon the stage. He was of very low birth, had been noted for several cheats, and even thefts; had travelled over many parts of Europe under borrowed names, and frequently passed himself for a man of quality; and had endeavored, by a variety of lies and contrivances, to prey upon the ignorant and unwary. When he appeared before the council, he gave intelligence of Godfrey's murder only, which, he said, had been perpetrated in Somerset House, where the queen lived, by Papists, some of them servants in her family. He was questioned about the plot; but utterly denied all knowledge of it, and also asserted, that he had no acquaintance with Oates. Next day, when examined before the committee of lords, he bethought himself better, and was ready to give an ample account of the plot, which he found so anxiously inquired into. This narrative he made to tally, as well as he could, with that of Oates, which had been published: but that he might make himself acceptable by new matter, he added some other circumstances, and these still more tremendous and extraordinary. He said, that ten thousand men were to be landed from Flanders in Burlington Bay, and immediately to seize Hull: that Jersey and Guernsey were to be surprised by forces from Brest; and that a French fleet was all last summer hovering in the Channel for that purpose: that the lords Powis and Peters were to form an army in Radnorshire, to be joined by another army, consisting of twenty or thirty thousand religious men and pilgrims, who were to land at Milford Haven from St. Iago in Spain: that there were forty thousand men ready in London; besides those who would, on the alarm, be posted at every alehouse door, in order to kill the soldiers as they came out of their quarters: that Lord Stafford, Coleman, and Father Ireland had money sufficient to defray the expenses of all these armaments: that he himself was to receive four thousand pounds, as one that could murder a man; as also a commission from Lord Bellasis, and a benediction from the pope that the king was to be assassinated; all the Protestants massacred who would not seriously be converted; the government offered to ONE, if he would consent to hold it of the church; but if he should refuse that condition, as was suspected, the supreme authority would be given to certain lords under the nomination of the pope. In a subsequent examination before the commons, Bedloe added, (for these men always brought out their intelligence successively and by piecemeal,) that Lord Carrington was also in the conspiracy for raising men and money against the government; as was likewise Loro Brudenel. These noblemen, with all the other persons mentioned by Bedloe, were immediately committed to custody by the parliament.
It is remarkable, that the only resource of Spain, in her present decayed condition, lay in the assistance of England: and, so far from being in a situation to transport ten thousand men for the invasion of that kingdom, she had solicited and obtained English forces to be sent into the garrisons of Flanders, which were not otherwise able to defend themselves against the French. The French too, we may observe, were at that very time in open war with Spain, and yet are supposed to be engaged in the same design against England; as if religious motives were become the sole actuating principle among sovereigns. But none of these circumstances, however obvious, were able, when set in opposition to multiplied horrors, antipathies, and prejudices, to engage the least attention of the populace: for such the whole nation were at this time become. The Popish plot passed for incontestable: and had not men soon expected with certainty the legal punishment of these criminals, the Catholics had been exposed to the hazard of a universal massacre. The torrent, indeed, of national prejudices ran so high, that no one, without the most imminent danger, durst venture openly to oppose it; nay, scarcely any one, without great force of judgment, could even secretly entertain an opinion contrary to the prevailing sentiments. The loud and unanimous voice of a great nation has mighty authority over weak minds; and even later historians are so swayed by the concurring judgment of such multitudes, that some of them have esteemed themselves sufficiently moderate, when they affirmed, that many circumstances of the plot were true, though some were added, and others much magnified. But it is an obvious principle, that a witness who perjures himself in one circumstance is credible in none and the authority of the plot, even to the end of the prosecutions, stood entirely upon witnesses. Though the Catholics had seen suddenly and unexpectedly detected, at the very moment when their conspiracy, it is said, was ripe for execution, no arms, no ammunition, no money, no commissions, no papers, no letters, after the most rigorous search, ever were discovered, to confirm the evidence of Oates and Bedloe. Yet still the nation, though often frustrated, went on in the eager pursuit and confident belief of the conspiracy: and even the manifold inconsistencies and absurdities contained in the narratives, instead of discouraging them, served only as further incentives to discover the bottom of the plot, and were considered as slight objections, which a more complete information would fully remove. In all history, it will be difficult to find such another instance of popular frenzy and bigoted delusion.
In order to support the panic among the people, especially among the citizens of London, a pamphlet was published with this title: "A narrative and impartial discovery of the horrid Popish plot, carried on for burning and destroying the cities of London and Westminster, with their suburbs: setting forth the several consults, orders, and resolutions of the Jesuits concerning the same: by Captain William Bedloe, lately engaged in that horrid design, and one of the Popish committee for carrying on such fires." Every fire which had happened for several years past, is there ascribed to the machinations of the Jesuits, who purposed, as Bedloe said, by such attempts, to find an opportunity for the general massacre of the Protestants; and, in the mean time, were well pleased to enrich themselves by pilfering goods from the fire.
The king, though he scrupled not, wherever he could speak freely, to throw the highest ridicule on the plot, and on all who believed it, yet found it necessary to adopt the popular opinion before the parliament. The torrent, he saw, ran too strong to be controlled; and he could only hope, by a seeming compliance, to be able, after some time, to guide and direct and elude its fury. He made, therefore, a speech to both houses; in which he told them, that he would take the utmost care of his person during these times of danger; that he was as ready as their hearts could wish, to join with them in all means for establishing the Protestant religion, not only during his own time, but for all future ages; and that, provided the right of succession were preserved, he would consent to any laws for restraining a Popish successor: and, in conclusion, he exhorted them to think of effectual means for the conviction of Popish recusants; and he highly praised the duty and loyalty of all his subjects, who had discovered such anxious concern for his safety.
These gracious expressions abated nothing of the vehemence of parliamentary proceedings. A bill was introduced for a new test, in which Popery was denominated idolatry; and all members, who refused this test, were excluded from both houses. The bill passed the commons without much opposition; but in the upper house the duke moved, that an exception might be admitted in his favor. With great earnestness, and even with tears in his eyes, he told them that he was now to cast himself on their kindness, in the greatest concern which he could have in the world; and he protested, that, whatever his religion might be, it should only be a private thing between God and his own soul, and never should appear in his public conduct. Notwithstanding this strong effort, in so important a point, he prevailed only by two voices: a sufficient indication of the general disposition of the people. "I would not have," said a noble peer, in the debate on this bill, "so much as a Popish man or a Popish woman to remain here; not so much as a Popish dog or a Popish bitch; not so much as a Popish cat to pur or mew about the king." What is more extraordinary, this speech met with praise and approbation.
Encouraged by this general fury, the witnesses went still a step farther in their accusations; and though both Oates and Bedloe had often declared, that there was no other person of distinction whom they knew to be concerned in the plot, they were now so audacious as to accuse the queen herself of entering into the design against the life of her husband. The commons, in an address to the king, gave countenance to this scandalous accusation; but the lords would not be prevailed with to join in the address. It is here, if any where, that we may suspect the suggestions of the popular leaders to have had place. The king, it was well known, bore no great affection to his consort; and now, more than ever, when his brother and heir was so much hated, had reason to be desirous of issue which might quiet the jealous fears of his people. This very hatred, which prevailed against the duke, would much facilitate, he knew, any expedient that could be devised for the exclusion of that prince; and nothing further seemed requisite for the king, than to give way in this particular to the rage and fury of the nation. But Charles, notwithstanding all allurements of pleasure, or interest, or safety, had the generosity to protect his injured consort. "They think," said he, "I have a mind to a new wife; but for all that, I will not see an innocent woman abused."[*] He immediately ordered Oates to be strictly confined, seized his papers, and dismissed his servants; and this daring informer was obliged to make applications to parliament, in order to recover his liberty.
During this agitation of men's minds, the parliament gave new attention to the militia; a circumstance which, even during times of greatest tranquillity, can never prudently be neglected. They passed a bill, by which it was enacted, that a regular militia should be kept in arms during six weeks of the year, and a third part of them do duty every fortnight of that time. The popular leaders probably intended to make use of the general prejudices, and even to turn the arms of the people against the prince.[**] But Charles refused his assent to the bill, and told the parliament, that he would not, were it for half an hour, part so far with the power of the sword: but if they would contrive any other bill for ordering the militia, and still leave it in his power to assemble or dismiss them as he thought proper, he would willingly give it the royal assent. The commons, dissatisfied with this negative, though the king had never before employed that prerogative, immediately voted that all the new-levied forces should be disbanded. They passed a bill, granting money for that purpose; but to show their extreme jealousy of the crown, besides appropriating the money by the strictest clauses, they ordered it to be paid, not into the exchequer, but into the chamber of London. The lords demurred with regard to so extraordinary a clause, which threw a violent reflection on the king's ministers, and even on himself; and by that means the act remained in suspense.
     * North's Examen, p. 186.

     ** Burnet, vol. i. p. 437·
It was no wonder, that the present ferment and credulity of the nation engaged men of infamous character and indigent circumstances to become informers, when persons of rank and condition could be tempted to give into that scandalous practice. Montague, the king's ambassador at Paris, had procured a seat in the lower house; and without obtaining or asking the king's leave, he suddenly came over to England. Charles, suspecting his intention, ordered his papers to be seized; but Montague, who foresaw this measure, had taken care to secrete one paper, which he immediately laid before the house of commons. It was a letter from the treasurer Danby, written in the beginning of the year, during the negotiations at Nimeguen for the general peace. Montague was there directed to make a demand of money from France; or, in other words, the king was willing secretly to sell his good offices to Lewis, contrary to the general interests of the confederates, and even to those of his own kingdoms. The letter, among other particulars, contains these words: "In case the conditions of peace shall be accepted, the king expects to have six millions of livres a year for three years, from the time that this agreement shall be signed between his majesty and the king of France; because it will probably be two or three years before the parliament will be in humor to give him any supplies after the making of any peace with France; and the ambassador here has always agreed to that sum; but not for so long a time." Danby was so unwilling to engage in this negotiation, that the king, to satisfy him, subjoined with his own hand these words: "This letter is writ by my order. C. R." Montague, who revealed this secret correspondence, had even the baseness to sell his base treachery at a high price to the French monarch.[*]
     * Appendix to Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs.
The commons were inflamed with this intelligence against Danby; and carrying their suspicions further than the truth, they concluded, that the king had all along acted in concert with the French court; and that every step which he had taken in conjunction with the allies, had been illusory and deceitful. Desirous of getting to the bottom of so important a secret, and being pushed by Danby's numerous enemies, they immediately voted an impeachment of high treason against that minister, and sent up six articles to the house of peers. These articles were, That he had traitorously engrossed to himself regal power, by giving instructions to his majesty's ambassadors, without the participation of the secretaries of state, or the privy council: that he had traitorously endeavored to subvert the government, and introduce arbitrary power; and to that end, had levied and continued an army, contrary to act of parliament: that he had traitorously endeavored to alienate the affections of his majesty's subjects, by negotiating a disadvantageous peace with France, and procuring money for that purpose: that he was popishly affected, and had traitorously concealed, after he had notice, the late horrid and bloody plot, contrived by the Papists against his majesty's person and government: that he had wasted the king's treasure: and that he had, by indirect means, obtained several exorbitant grants from the crown.
It is certain that the treasurer, in giving instructions to an ambassador, had exceeded the bounds of his office; and as the genius of a monarchy, strictly limited, requires, that the proper minister should be answerable for every abuse of power, the commons, though they here advanced a new pretension, might justify themselves by the utility, and even necessity of it. But in other respects their charge against Danby was very ill grounded. That minister made it appear to the house of lords, not only that Montague, the informer against him, had all along promoted the money negotiations with France, but that he himself was ever extremely averse to the interests of that crown, which he esteemed pernicious to his master and to his country. The French nation, he said, had always entertained, as he was certainly informed, the highest contempt both of the king's person and government. His diligence, he added, in tracing and discovering the Popish plot, was generally known; and if he had common sense, not to say common honesty, he would surely be anxious to preserve the life of a master by whom he was so much favored. He had wasted no treasure, because there was no treasure to waste. And though he had reason to be grateful for the king's bounty, he had made more moderate acquisitions than were generally imagined, and than others in his office had often done, even during a shorter administration.
The house of peers plainly saw, that, allowing all the charges of the commons to be true, Danby's crimes fell not under the statute of Edward III; and though the words treason and traitorously had been carefully inserted in several articles, this appellation could not change the nature of things, or subject him to the penalties annexed to that crime. They refused, therefore, to commit Danby upon this irregular charge: the commons insisted on their demand; and a great contest was likely to arise, when the king, who had already seen sufficient instances of the ill humor of the parliament, thought proper to prorogue them. This prorogation was soon after followed by a dissolution; a desperate remedy in the present disposition of the nation. But the disease, it must be owned, the king had reason to esteem desperate. The utmost rage had been discovered by the commons, on account of the Popish plot; and their fury began already to point against the royal family, if not against the throne itself. The duke had been struck at in several motions: the treasurer had been impeached: all supply had been refused, except on the most disagreeable conditions: fears, jealousies, and antipathies were every day multiplying in parliament; and though the people were strongly infected with the same prejudices, the king hoped, that, by dissolving the present cabals, a set of men might be chosen, more moderate in their pursuits, and less tainted with the virulence of faction.
Thus came to a period a parliament which had sitten during the whole course of this reign, one year excepted. Its conclusion was very different from its commencement. Being elected during the joy and festivity of the restoration, it consisted almost entirely of royalists; who were disposed to support the crown by all the liberality which the habits of that age would permit. Alarmed by the alliance with France, they gradually withdrew their confidence from the king; and finding him still to persevere in a foreign interest, they proceeded to discover symptoms of the most refractory and most jealous disposition. The Popish plot pushed them beyond all bounds of moderation; and before their dissolution, they seemed to be treading fast in the footsteps of the last long parliament, on whose conduct they threw at first such violent blame. In all their variations, they had still followed the opinions and prejudices of the nation; and ever seemed to be more governed by humor and party views than by public interest, and more by public interest than by any corrupt or private influence.
During the sitting of the parliament, and after its prorogation and dissolution, the trials of the pretended criminals were carried on; and the courts of judicature, places which, if possible, ought to be kept more pure from injustice than even national assemblies themselves, were strongly infected with the same party rage and bigoted prejudices. Coleman, the most obnoxious of the conspirators, was first brought to his trial. His letters were produced against him. They contained, as he himself confessed, much indiscretion: but unless so far as it is illegal to be a zealous Catholic, they seemed to prove nothing criminal, much less treasonable against him. Gates and Bedloe deposed, that he had received a commission, signed by the superior of the Jesuits, to be Papal secretary of state, and had consented to the poisoning, shooting, and stabbing of the king: he had even, according to Oates's deposition, advanced a guinea to promote those bloody purposes. These wild stories were confounded with the projects contained in his letters; and Coleman received sentence of death. The sentence was soon after executed upon him.[*] He suffered with calmness and constancy, and to the last persisted in the strongest protestations of his innocence.
Coleman's execution was succeeded by the trial of Father Ireland, who, it is pretended, had signed, together with fifty Jesuits, the great resolution of murdering the king. Grove and Pickering, who had undertaken to shoot him, were tried at the same time. The only witnesses against the prisoners were still Gates and Bedloe. Ireland affirmed, that he was in Staffordshire all the month of August last, a time when Oates's evidence made him in London. He proved his assertion by good evidence; and would have proved it by undoubted, had he not most iniquitously been debarred, while in prison, from all use of pen, ink, and paper, and denied the liberty of sending for witnesses. All these men, before their arraignment, were condemned in the opinion of the judges, jury, and spectators; and to be a Jesuit, or even a Catholic, was of itself a sufficient proof of guilt. The chief justice,[**] in particular, gave sanction to all the narrow prejudices and bigoted fury of the populace. Instead of being counsel for the prisoners, as his office required, he pleaded the cause against them, browbeat their witnesses, and on every occasion represented their guilt as certain and uncontroverted. He even went so far as publicly to affirm, that the Papists had not the same principles which Protestants have, and therefore were not entitled to that common credence, which the principles and practices of the latter call for. And when the jury brought in their verdict against the prisoners, he said, "You have done, gentlemen, like very good subjects, and very good Christians, that is to say, like very good Protestants, and now much good may their thirty thousand masses do them;" alluding to the masses by which Pickering was to be rewarded for murdering the king. All these unhappy men went to execution, protesting their innocence; a circumstance which made no impression on the spectators.
     * December 3.

     * Sir William Scroggs.
1679
The opinion, that the Jesuits allowed of lies and mental reservations for promoting a good cause, was at this time so universally received, that no credit was given to testimony delivered either by that order, or by any of their disciples. It was forgotten, that all the conspirators engaged in the gunpowder treason, and Garnet, the Jesuit among the rest, had freely on the scaffold made confession of their guilt.
Though Bedloe had given information of Godfrey's murder, he still remained a single evidence against the persons accused; and all the allurements of profit and honor had not hitherto tempted any one to confirm the testimony of that informer. At last, means were found to complete the legal evidence. One Prance, a silversmith and a Catholic, had been accused by Bedloe of being an accomplice in the murder; and upon his denial, had been thrown into prison, loaded with heavy irons and confined to the condemned hole, a place cold, dark, and full of nastiness. Such rigors were supposed to be exercised by orders from the secret committee of lords, particularly Shaftesbury and Buckingham; who, in examining the prisoners, usually employed (as it is said, and indeed sufficiently proved) threatenings and promises, rigor and indulgence, and every art, under pretence of extorting the truth from them. Prance had not courage to resist, but confessed himself an accomplice in Godfrey's murder. Being asked concerning the plot, he also thought proper to be acquainted with it, and conveyed some intelligence to the council. Among other absurd circumstances, he said that one Le Fevre bought a second-hand sword of him; because he knew not, as he said, what times were at hand; and Prance expressing some concern for poor tradesmen, if such times came, Le Fevre replied, that it would be better for tradesmen if the Catholic religion were restored; and particularly, that there would be more church work for silversmiths. All this information, with regard to the plot as well as the murder of Godfrey, Prance solemnly retracted, both before the king and the secret committee: but being again thrown into prison, he was induced, by new terrors and new sufferings, to confirm his first information, and was now produced as a sufficient evidence.
Hill, Green, and Berry were tried for Godfrey's murder, all of them men of low stations. Hill was servant to a physician: the other two belonged to the Popish chapel at Somerset House. It is needless to run over all the particulars of a long trial: it will be sufficient to say, that Bedloe's evidence and Prance's were in many circumstances totally irreconcilable, that both of them labored under unsurmountable difficulties, not to say gross absurdities; and that they were invalidated by contrary evidence, which is altogether convincing. But all was in vain: the prisoners were condemned and executed. They all denied their guilt at their execution; and as Berry died a Protestant, this circumstance was regarded as very considerable: but, instead of its giving some check to the general credulity of the people, men were only surprised, that a Protestant could be induced at his death to persist in so manifest a falsehood.
As the army could neither be kept up nor disbanded without money, the king, how little hopes soever he could entertain of more compliance, found himself obliged to summon a new parliament. The blood already shed on account of the Popish plot, instead of satiating the people, served only as an incentive to their fury; and each conviction of a criminal was hitherto regarded as a new proof of those horrible designs imputed to the Papists. This election is perhaps the first in England, which, since the commencement of the monarchy, had been carried on by a violent contest between the parties, and where the court interested itself to a high degree in the choice of the national representatives. But all its efforts were fruitless, in opposition to the torrent of prejudices which prevailed. Religion, liberty, property, even the lives of men, were now supposed to be at stake; and no security, it was thought, except in a vigilant parliament, could be found against the impious and bloody conspirators. Were there any part of the nation to which the ferment, occasioned by the Popish plot, had not as yet propagated itself, the new elections, by interesting the whole people in public concerns, tended to diffuse it into the remotest corner; and the consternation universally excited proved an excellent engine for influencing the electors. All the zealots of the former parliament were rechosen: new ones were added: the Presbyterians, in particular, being transported with the most inveterate antipathy against Popery, were very active and very successful in the elections. That party, it is said, first began at this time the abuse of splitting their freeholds, in order to multiply votes and electors. By accounts which came from every part of England, it was concluded, that the new representatives would, if possible, exceed the old in their refractory opposition to the court, and furious persecution of the Catholics.
The king was alarmed when he saw so dreadful a tempest arise from such small and unaccountable beginnings. His life, if Gates and Bedloe's information were true, had been aimed at by the Catholics: even the duke's was in danger; the higher, therefore, the rage mounted against Popery, the more should the nation have been reconciled to these princes in whom, it appeared, the church of Rome reposed no confidence. But there is a sophistry which attends all the passions, especially those into which the populace enter. Men gave credit to the informers, so far as concerned the guilt of the Catholics: but they still retained their old suspicions, that these religionists were secretly favored by the king, and had obtained the most entire ascendant over his brother. Charles had too much penetration not to see the danger to which the succession, and even his own crown and dignity, now stood exposed. A numerous party, he found, was formed against him: on the one hand, composed of a populace, so credulous from prejudice, so blinded with religious antipathy, as implicitly to believe the most palpable absurdities; and conducted, on the other hand, by leaders so little scrupulous, as to endeavor, by encouraging perjury, subornation, lies, impostures, and even by shedding innocent blood, to gratify their own furious ambition, and subvert all legal authority. Roused from his lethargy by so imminent a peril, he began to exert that vigor of mind, of which, on great occasions, he was not destitute; and without quitting in appearance his usual facility of temper, he collected an industry, firmness, and vigilance, of which he was believed altogether incapable. These qualities, joined to dexterity and prudence, conducted him happily through the many shoals which surrounded him; and he was at last able to make the storm fall on the heads of those who had blindly raised or artfully conducted it.
One chief step which the king took towards gratifying and appeasing his people and parliament, was, desiring the duke to withdraw beyond sea, that no further suspicion might remain of the influence of Popish counsels. The duke readily complied; but first required an order for that purpose, signed by the king; lest his absenting himself should be interpreted as a proof of fear or of guilt. He also desired, that his brother should satisfy him, as well as the public, by a declaration of the illegitimacy of the duke of Monmouth.
James, duke of Monmouth, was the king's natural son by Lucy Walters, and born about ten years before the restoration. He possessed all the qualities which could engage the affections of the populace; a distinguished valor, an affable address, a thoughtless generosity, a graceful person. He rose still higher in the public favor, by reason of the universal hatred to which the duke, on account of his religion, was exposed. Monmouth's capacity was mean; his temper pliant: so that, notwithstanding his great popularity, he had never been dangerous, had he not implicitly resigned himself to the guidance of Shaftesbury, a man of such a restless temper, such subtle wit, and such abandoned principles. That daring politician had flattered Monmouth with the hopes of succeeding to the crown. The story of a contract of marriage, passed between the king and Monmouth's mother, and secretly kept in a certain black box, had been industriously spread abroad, and was greedily received by the multitude. As the horrors of Popery still pressed harder on them, they might be induced either to adopt that fiction, as they had already done many others more incredible, or to commit open violation on the right of succession. And it would not be difficult, it was hoped, to persuade the king, who was extremely fond of his son, to give him the preference above a brother, who, by his imprudent bigotry, had involved him in such inextricable difficulties. But Charles, in order to cut off all such expectations, as well as to remove the duke's apprehensions, took care, in full council, to make a declaration of Monmouth's illegitimacy, and to deny all promise of marriage with his mother. The duke, being gratified in so reasonable a request, willingly complied with the king's desire, and retired to Brussels.
But the king soon found that, notwithstanding this precaution, notwithstanding his concurrence in the prosecution of the Popish plot, notwithstanding the zeal which he expressed, and even at this time exercised against the Catholics, he had nowise obtained the confidence of his parliament. The refractory humor of the lower house appeared in the first step which they took upon their assembling. It had ever been usual for the commons, in the election of their speaker, to consult the inclinations of the sovereign; and even the long parliament, in 1641, had not thought proper to depart from so established a custom. The king now desired, that the choice should fall on Sir Thomas Meres: but Seymour, speaker to the last parliament, was instantly called to the chair, by a vote which seemed unanimous. The king, when Seymour was presented to him for his approbation, rejected him, and ordered the commons to proceed to a new choice. A great flame was excited. The commons maintained, that the king s approbation was merely a matter of form, and that he could not without giving a reason, reject the speaker chosen; the king, that, since he had the power of rejecting, he might, if he pleased, keep the reason in his own breast. As the question had never before been started, it might seem difficult to find principles upon which it could be decided.[*] By way of compromise, it was agreed to set aside both candidates. Gregory, a lawyer, was chosen; and the election was ratified by the king. It has ever since been understood, that the choice of the speaker lies in the house; but that the king retains the power of rejecting any person disagreeable to him.
     [*] In 1566, the speaker said to Queen Elizabeth, that
     without her allowance the election of the house was of no
     significance. D'Ewes's Journal, p. 97. In the parliament
     1592, 1593, the speaker, who was Sir Edward Coke, advances a
     like position. D'Ewes, p. 459; Townshend, p. 35. So that
     this pretension of the commons seems to have been somewhat
     new; like many of their other powers and privileges.
Seymour was deemed a great enemy to Danby; and it was the influence of that nobleman, as commonly supposed, which had engaged the king to enter into this ill-timed controversy with the commons. The impeachment, therefore, of Danby was on that account the sooner revived; and it was maintained by the commons, that notwithstanding the intervening dissolution, every part of that proceeding stood in the same condition in which it had been left by the last parliament; a pretension which, though unusual, seems tacitly to have been yielded them. The king had beforehand had the precaution to grant a pardon to Danby; and, in order to screen the chancellor from all attacks by the commons, he had taken the great seal into his own hands, and had himself affixed it to the parchment. He told the parliament, that, as Danby had acted in every thing by his orders, he was in no respect criminal; that his pardon, however, he would insist upon; and if it should be found anywise defective in form, he would renew it again and again, till it should be rendered entirely complete; but that he was resolved to deprive him of all employments, and to remove him from court.
The commons were nowise satisfied with this concession They pretended, that no pardon of the crown could be pleaded in bar of an impeachment, by the commons. The prerogative of mercy had hitherto been understood to be altogether unlimited in the king; and this pretension of the commons, it must be confessed, was entirely new. It was, however, not unsuitable to the genius of a monarchy strictly limited, where the king's ministers are supposed to be forever accountable to national assemblies, even for such abuses of power as they may commit by orders from their master. The present emergence, while the nation was so highly inflamed, was the proper time for pushing such popular claims; and the commons failed not to avail themselves of this advantage. They still insisted On the impeachment of Danby. The peers, in compliance with them, departed from their former scruples, and ordered Danby to be taken into custody. Danby absconded. The commons passed a bill, appointing him to surrender himself before a certain day, or, in default of it, attainting him. A bill had passed the upper house, mitigating the penalty to banishment; but after some conferences, the peers thought proper to yield to the violence of the commons, and the bill of attainder was carried. Rather than undergo such severe penalties, Danby appeared, and was immediately committed to the Tower.
While a Protestant nobleman met with such violent prosecution, it was not likely that the Catholics would be overlooked by the zealous commons. The credit of the Popish plot still stood upon the oaths of a few infamous witnesses. Though such immense preparations were supposed to have been made in the very bowels of the kingdom, no traces of them, after the most rigorous inquiry, had as yet appeared. Though so many thousands, both abroad and at home, had been engaged in the dreadful secret, neither hope, nor fear, nor remorse, nor levity, nor suspicions, nor private resentment, had engaged any one to confirm the evidence. Though the Catholics, particularly the Jesuits, were represented as guilty of the utmost indiscretion, insomuch that they talked of the king's murder as common news, and wrote of it in plain terms by the common post, yet, among the great number of letters seized, no one contained any part of so complicated a conspiracy. Though the informers pretended that, even after they had resolved to betray the secret, many treasonable commissions and papers had passed through their hands, they had not had the precaution to keep any one of them, in order to fortify their evidence. But all these difficulties, and a thousand more, were not found too hard of digestion by me nation and parliament. The prosecution and further discovery of the plot were still the object of general concern. The commons voted, that, if the king should come to an untimely end, they would revenge his death upon the Papists; not reflecting that this sect were not his only enemies. They promised rewards to new discoverers; not considering the danger which they incurred of granting bribes to perjury. They made Bedloe a present of five hundred pounds; and particularly recommended the care of his safety to the duke of Monmouth. Colonel Sackville, a member, having, in a private company, spoken opprobriously of those who affirmed that there was any plot, was expelled the house. The peers gave power to their committees to send for and examine such as would maintain the innocence of those who had been condemned for the plot. A pamphlet having been published to discredit the informers, and to vindicate the Catholic lords in the Tower, these lords were required to discover the author, and thereby to expose their own advocate to prosecution. And both houses concurred in renewing the former vote, that the Papists had undoubtedly entered into a horrid and treasonable conspiracy against the king, the state, and the Protestant religion.
It must be owned, that this extreme violence, in prosecution of so absurd an imposture, disgraces the noble cause of liberty, in which the parliament was engaged. We may even conclude from such impatience of contradiction, that the prosecutors themselves retained a secret suspicion, that the general belief was but ill grounded. The politicians among them were afraid to let in light, lest it might put an end to so useful a delusion: the weaker and less dishonest party took care, by turning their eyes aside, not to see a truth, so opposite to those furious passions by which they were actuated, and in which they were determined obstinately to persevere.
Sir William Temple had lately been recalled from his foreign employments; and the king, who, after the removal of Danby, had no one with whom he could so much as discourse with freedom of public affairs, was resolved, upon Coventry's dismission, to make him one of his secretaries of state. But that philosophical patriot, too little interested for the intrigues of a court, too full of spleen and delicacy for the noisy turbulence of popular assemblies, was alarmed at the universal discontents and jealousies which prevailed, and was determined to make his retreat, as soon as possible, from a scene which threatened such confusion. Meanwhile, he could not refuse the confidence with which his master honored him; and he resolved to employ it to the public service. He represented to the king, that, as the jealousies of the nation were extreme, it was necessary to cure them by some new remedy, and to restore that mutual confidence, so requisite for the safety both of king and people: that to refuse every thing to the parliament in their present disposition, or to yield every thing, was equally dangerous to the constitution as well as to public tranquillity: that if the king would introduce into his councils such men as enjoyed the confidence of his people, fewer concessions would probably be required; or, if unreasonable demands were made, the king, under the sanction of such counsellors, might be enabled, with the greater safety, to refuse them: and that the heads of the popular party, being gratified with the king's favor, would probably abate of that violence by which they endeavored at present to pay court to the multitude.
The king assented to these reasons; and, in concert with Temple, he laid the plan of a new privy council, without whose advice he declared himself determined for the future to take no measure of importance. This council was to consist of thirty persons, and was never to exceed that number. Fifteen of the chief officers of the crown were to be continued, who, it was supposed, would adhere to the king, and, in case of any extremity, oppose the exorbitancies of faction. The other half of the council was to be composed, either of men of character, detached from the court, or of those who possessed chief credit in both houses. And the king, in filling up the names of his new council, was well pleased to find, that the members, in land and offices, possessed to the amount of three hundred thousand pounds a year; a sum nearly equal to the whole property of the house of commons, against whose violence the new council was intended as a barrier to the throne.[*]
     * Their names were: Prince Rupert, the archbishop of
     Canterbury Lord Finch, chancellor, earl of Shaftesbury,
     president, earl of Anglesea, privy seal, duke of Albemarle,
     duke of Monmouth, duke of Newcastle, duke of Lauderdale,
     duke of Ormond, marquis of Winchester, marquis of Worcester,
     earl of Arlington, earl of Salisbury, earl of Bridgewater,
     earl of Sunderland, earl of Essex, earl of Bath, Viscount
     Fauconberg, Viscount Halifax, bishop of London, Lord
     Robarts, Lord Hollis, Lord Russel, Lord Cavendish, Secretary
     Coventry, Sir Francis North, chief justice, Sir Henry Capel,
     Sir John Ernley, Sir Thomas Chicheley, Sir William Temple,
     Edward Seymour, Henry Powle.
This experiment was tried, and seemed at first to give some satisfaction to the public. The earl of Essex, a nobleman of the popular party, son of that Lord Capel who had been beheaded a little after the late king, was created treasurer in the room of Danby: the earl of Sunderland, a man of intrigue and capacity, was made secretary of state: Viscount Halifax a fine genius, possessed of learning, eloquence, industry, but subject to inquietude, and fond of refinements, was admitted into the council. These three, together with Temple, who often joined them, though he kept himself more detached from public business, formed a kind of cabinet council, from which all affairs received their first digestion. Shaftesbury was made president of the council; contrary to the advice of Temple, who foretold the consequences of admitting a man of so dangerous a character into any part of the public administration.
As Temple foresaw, it happened. Shaftesbury, finding that he possessed no more than the appearance of court favor, was resolved still to adhere to the popular party, by whose attachment he enjoyed an undisputed superiority in the lower house, and possessed great influence in the other. The very appearance of court favor, empty as it was, tended to render him more dangerous. His partisans, observing the progress which he had already made, hoped that he would soon acquire the entire ascendant; and he constantly flattered them, that if they persisted in their purpose; the king, from indolence, and necessity, and fondness for Monmouth, would at last be induced, even at the expense of his brother's right, to make them every concession.
Besides, the antipathy to Popery, as well as jealousy of the king and duke, had taken too fast possession of men's minds, to be removed by so feeble a remedy as this new council projected by Temple. The commons, soon after the establishment of that council, proceeded so far as to vote unanimously, "That the duke of York's being a Papist, and the hopes of his coming to the crown, had given the highest countenance to the present conspiracies and designs of the Papists against the king and the Protestant religion." It was expected, that a bill for excluding him the throne would soon be brought in. To prevent this bold measure, the king concerted some limitations, which he proposed to the parliament. He introduced his plan by the following gracious expressions: "And to show you that, while you are doing your parts, my thoughts have not been misemployed, but that it is my constant care to do every thing that may preserve your religion, and secure if for the future in all events; I have commanded my lord chancellor to mention several particulars, which, I hope, will be an evidence that, in all things which concern the public rights, I shall not follow your zeal, but lead it."
The limitations projected were of the utmost importance and deprived the successor of the chief branches of royalty. A method was there chalked out, by which the nation, on every new reign, could be insured of having a parliament which the king should not, for a certain time, have it in his power to dissolve. In case of a Popish successor, the prince was to forfeit the right of conferring any ecclesiastical preferments: no member of the privy council, no judge of the common law or in chancery, was to be put in or displaced but by consent of parliament: and the same precaution was extended to the military part of the government; to the lord lieutenants and deputy lieutenants of the counties, and to all officers of the navy. The chancellor of himself added, "It is hard to invent another restraint; considering how much the revenue will depend upon the consent of parliament, and how impossible it is to raise money without such consent. But yet, if any thing else can occur to the wisdom of parliament, which may further secure religion and liberty against a Popish successor, without defeating the right of succession itself, his majesty will readily consent to it."
It is remarkable, that, when, these limitations were first laid before the council, Shaftesbury and Temple were the only members who argued against them. The reasons which they employed were diametrically opposite. Shaftesbury's opinion was, that the restraints were insufficient; and that nothing but the total exclusion of the duke could give a proper security to the kingdom. Temple, on the other hand, thought, that the restraints were so rigorous as even to subvert the constitution; and that shackles put upon a Popish successor would not afterwards be easily cast off by a Protestant. It is certain, that the duke was extremely alarmed when he heard of this step taken by the king, and that he was better pleased even with the bill of exclusion itself, which, he thought, by reason of its violence and injustice, could never possibly be carried into execution. There is also reason to believe, that the king would not have gone so far, had he not expected, from the extreme fury of the commons, that his concessions would be rejected, and that the blame of not forming a reasonable accommodation would by that means lie entirely at their door.
It soon appeared that Charles had entertained a just opinion of the dispositions of the house. So much were the commons actuated by the cabals of Shaftesbury and other malecontents, such violent antipathy prevailed against Popery that the king's concessions, though much more important than could reasonably have been expected, were not embraced. A bill was brought in for the total exclusion of the duke from the crown of England and Ireland. It was there declared, that the sovereignty of these kingdoms, upon the king's death or resignation, should devolve to the person next in succession after the duke; that all acts of royalty which that prince should afterwards perform, should not only be void, but be deemed treason; that if he so much as entered any of these dominions, he should be deemed guilty of the same offence; and that all who supported his title should be punished as rebels and traitors. This important bill, which implied banishment as well as exclusion, passed the lower house by a majority of seventy-nine.
The commons were not so wholly employed about the exclusion bill as to overlook all other securities to liberty. The country party, during all the last parliament, had much exclaimed against the bribery and corruption of the members; and the same reproach had been renewed against the present parliament. An inquiry was made into a complaint which was so dangerous to the honor of that assembly; but very little foundation was found for it. Sir Stephen Fox, who was the paymaster, confessed to the house, that nine members received pensions to the amount of three thousand four hundred pounds; and after a rigorous inquiry by a secret committee, eight more pensioners were discovered. A sum also, about twelve thousand pounds, had been occasionally given or lent to others. The writers of that age pretend, that Clifford and Danby had adopted opposite maxims with regard to pecuniary influence. The former endeavored to gain the leaders and orators of the house, and deemed the others of no consequence. The latter thought it sufficient to gain the majority, however composed. It is likely, that the means, rather than the intention, were wanting to both these ministers.
Pensions and bribes, though it be difficult entirely to exclude them, are dangerous expedients for government; and cannot be too carefully guarded against, nor too vehemently decried, by every one who has a regard to the virtue and liberty of a nation. The influence, however, which the crown acquires from the disposal of places, honors, and preferments, is to be esteemed of a different nature. This engine of power may become too forcible, but it cannot altogether be abolished, without the total destruction of monarchy, and even of all regular authority. But the commons at this time were so jealous of the crown, that they brought in a bill, which was twice read, excluding from the lower house all who possessed any lucrative office.
The standing army and the king's guards were by the commons voted to be illegal; a new pretension, it must be confessed, but necessary for the full security of liberty and a limited constitution.
Arbitrary imprisonment is a grievance which, in some degree, has place almost in every government, except in that of Great Britain; and our absolute security from it we owe chiefly to the present parliament; a merit, which makes some atonement for the faction and violence into which their prejudices had, in other particulars, betrayed them. The Great Charter had laid the foundation of this valuable part of liberty; the petition of right had renewed and extended it; but some provisions were still wanting to render it complete, and prevent all evasion or delay from ministers and judges. The act of habeas corpus, which passed this session, served these purposes. By this act, it was prohibited to send any one to a prison beyond sea. No judge, under severe penalties, must refuse to any prisoner a writ of habeas corpus, by which the jailer was directed to produce in court the body of the prisoner, (whence the writ has its name,) and to certify the cause of his detainer and imprisonment. If the jail lie within twenty miles of the judge, the writ must be obeyed in three days; and so proportionably for greater distances. Every prisoner must be indicted the first term after his commitment, and brought to trial in the subsequent term. And no man, after being enlarged by order of court, can be recommitted for the same offence. This law seems necessary for the protection of liberty in a mixed monarchy; and as it has not place in any other form of government, this consideration alone may induce us to prefer our present constitution to all others. It must, however, be confessed, that there is some difficulty to reconcile with such extreme liberty the full security and the regular police of a state, especially the police of great cities. It may also be doubted, whether the low state of the public revenue in this period, and of the military power, did not still render some discretionary authority in the crown necessary to the support of government.
During these zealous efforts for the protection of liberty no complaisance for the crown was discovered by this parliament. The king's revenue lay under great debts and anticipations: those branches granted in the years 1669 and 1670 were ready to expire. And the fleet was represented by the king as in great decay and disorder. But the commons, instead of being affected by these distresses of the crown, trusted chiefly to them for passing the exclusion bill, and for punishing and displacing all the ministers who were obnoxious to them. They were therefore in no haste to relieve the king; and grew only the more assuming on account of his complaints and uneasiness. Jealous, however, of the army, they granted the sum of two hundred and six thousand pounds, which had been voted for disbanding it by the last parliament; though the vote, by reason of the subsequent prorogation and dissolution, joined to some scruples of the lords, had not been carried into an act. This money was appropriated by very strict clauses but the commons insisted not, as formerly, upon its being paid into the chamber of London.
The impeachment of the five Popish lords in the Tower, with that of the earl of Danby, was carried on with vigor. The power of this minister, and his credit with the king, rendered him extremely obnoxious to the popular leaders; and the commons hoped that, if he were pushed to extremity, he would be obliged, in order to justify his own conduct, to lay open the whole intrigue of the French alliance, which they suspected to contain a secret of the most dangerous nature. The king, on his part, apprehensive of the same consequences, and desirous to protect his minister, who was become criminal merely by obeying orders, employed his whole interest to support the validity of that pardon which had been granted him. The lords appointed a day for the examination of the question, and agreed to hear counsel on both sides: but the commons would not submit their pretensions to the discussion of argument and inquiry. They voted, that whoever should presume, without their leave, to maintain before the house of peers the validity of Danby's pardon, should be accounted a betrayer of the liberties of the English commons. And they made a demand, that the bishops, whom they knew to be devoted to the court, should be removed, not only when the trial of the earl should commence, but also when the validity of his pardon should be discussed.
The bishops before the reformation had always enjoyed a seat in parliament; but so far were they anciently from regarding that dignity as a privilege, that they affected rather to form a separate order in the state, independent of the civil magistrate, and accountable only to the pope and to their own order. By the constitutions, however, of Clarendon, enacted during the reign of Henry II., they were obliged to give their presence in parliament; but as the canon law prohibited them from assisting in capital trials, they were allowed in such cases the privilege of absenting themselves. A practice which was at first voluntary, became afterwards a rule; and on the earl of Strafford's trial, the bishops, who would gladly have attended, and who were no longer bound by the canon law, were, yet obliged to withdraw. It had been usual for them to enter a protest, asserting their right to sit; and this protest, being considered as a mere form, was always admitted and disregarded. But here was started a new question of no small importance. The commons, who were now enabled, by the violence of the people, and the necessities of the crown, to make new acquisitions of powers and privileges, insisted, that the bishops had no more title to vote in the question of the earl's pardon than in the impeachment itself. The bishops asserted, that the pardon was merely a preliminary; and that, neither by the canon law nor the practice of parliament, were they ever obliged, in capital cases, to withdraw till the very commencement of the trial itself. If their absence were considered as a privilege, which was its real origin, it depended on their own choice how far they would insist upon it. If regarded as a diminution of their right of peerage, such unfavorable customs ought never to be extended beyond the very circumstance established by them; and all arguments, from a pretended parity of reason, were in that case of little or no authority.
The house of lords was so much influenced by these reasons, that they admitted the bishops' right to vote, when the validity of the pardon should be examined. The commons insisted still on their withdrawing; and thus a quarrel being commenced between the two houses, the king, who expected nothing but fresh instances of violence from this parliament, began to entertain thoughts of laying hold of so favorable a pretence, and of finishing the session by a prorogation. While in this disposition, he was alarmed with sudden intelligence, that the house of commons was preparing a remonstrance, in order to inflame the nation still further upon the favorite topics of the plot and of Popery. He hastened, therefore, to execute his intention, even without consulting his new council, by whose advice he had promised to regulate his whole conduct. And thus were disappointed all the projects of the malecontents, who were extremely enraged at this vigorous measure of the king's. Shaftesbury publicly threatened, that he would have the head of whoever had advised it. The parliament was soon after dissolved without advice of council; and writs were issued for a new parliament. The king was willing to try every means which gave a prospect of more compliance in his subjects; and, in case of failure, the blame, he hoped, would lie on those whose obstinacy forced him to extremities.
But even during the recess of parliament, there was no interruption to the prosecution of the Catholics accused of the plot: the king found himself obliged to give way to this popular fury. Whitebread, provincial of the Jesuits, Fenwick, Gavan, Turner, and Harcourt, all of them of the same order, were first brought to their trial. Besides Oates and Bedloe, Dugdale, a new witness, appeared against the prisoners. This man had been steward to Lord Aston, and, though poor, possessed a character somewhat more reputable than the other two: but his account of the intended massacres and assassinations was equally monstrous and incredible. He even asserted, that two hundred thousand Papists in England were ready to take arms. The prisoners proved by sixteen witnesses from St. Omers, students, and most of them young men of family, that Oates was in that seminary at the time when he swore that he was in London: but as they were Catholics and disciples of the Jesuits, their Testimony, both with the judges and jury, was totally disregarded. Even the reception which they met with in the court was full of outrage and mockery. One of them saying, that Oates always continued at St. Omers, if he could believe his senses, "You Papists," said the chief justice, "are taught not to believe your senses." It must be confessed that Oates, in opposition to the students of St. Omers, found means to bring evidence of his having been at that time in London: but this evidence, though it had at that time the appearance of some solidity, was afterwards discovered, when Oates himself was tried for perjury, to be altogether deceitful. In order further to discredit that witness, the Jesuits proved, by undoubted testimony, that he had perjured himself in Father Ireland's trial, whom they showed to have been in Staffordshire at the very, time when Oates swore that he was committing treason in London. But all these pleas availed them nothing against the general prejudices. They received sentence of death, and were executed, persisting to their last breath in the most solemn, earnest, and deliberate, though disregarded protestations of their innocence.
The next trial was that of Langhorne, an eminent lawyer, by whom all the concerns of the Jesuits were managed. Oates and Bedloe swore, that all the Papal commissions by which the chief offices in England were filled with Catholics, passed through his hands. When verdict was given against the prisoner, the spectators expressed their savage joy by loud acclamations. So high indeed had the popular rage mounted, that the witnesses for this unhappy man, on approaching the court, were almost torn in pieces by the rabble: one in particular was bruised to such a degree, as to put his life in danger. And another, a woman, declared that, unless the court could afford her protection, she durst not give evidence: but as the judges could go no further than promise to punish such as should do her any injury, the prisoner himself had the humanity to waive her testimony.
So far the informers had proceeded with success: their accusation was hitherto equivalent to a sentence of death. The first check which they received was on the trial of Sir George Wakeman, the queen's physician, whom they accused of an intention to poison the king. It was a strong circumstance in favor of Wakeman, that Oates, in his first information before the council, had accused him only upon hearsay; and when asked by the chancellor, whether he had any thing further to charge him with, he added, "God forbid I should say any thing against Sir George; for I know nothing more against him." On the trial he gave positive evidence of the prisoner's guilt. There were many other circumstances which favored Wakeman: but what chiefly contributed to his acquittal, was the connection of his cause with that of the queen, whom no one, even during the highest prejudices of the times, could sincerely believe guilty. The great importance of the trial made men recollect themselves, and recall that good sense and humanity which seemed, during some time, to have abandoned the nation. The chief justice himself, who had hitherto favored the witnesses, exaggerated the plot, and railed against the prisoners, was observed to be considerably mollified, and to give a favorable charge to the jury. Oates and Bedloe had the assurance to attack him to his face, and even to accuse him of partiality before the council. The whole party, who had formerly much extolled his conduct, now made him the object of their resentment. Wakeman's acquittal was indeed a sensible mortification to the furious prosecutors of the plot, and fixed an indelible stain upon the witnesses. But Wakeman, after he recovered his liberty, finding himself exposed to such inveterate enmity, and being threatened with further prosecutions, thought it prudent to retire beyond sea; and his flight was interpreted as a proof of guilt, by those who were still resolved to persist in the belief of the conspiracy.
The great discontents in England, and the refractory disposition of the parliament, drew the attention of the Scottish Covenanters, and gave them a prospect of some time putting an end to those oppressions under which they had so long labored. It was suspected to have been the policy of Lauderdale and his associates to push these unhappy men to extremities, and force them into rebellion, with a view of reaping profit from the forfeitures and attainders which would ensue upon it. But the Covenanters, aware of this policy, had hitherto forborne all acts of hostility; and that tyrannical minister had failed of his purpose. An incident at last happened, which brought on an insurrection in that country.
The Covenanters were much enraged against Sharpe, the primate, whom they considered as an apostate from their principles, and whom they experienced to be an unrelenting persecutor of all those who dissented from the established worship. He had an officer under him, one Carmichael, no less zealous than himself against conventicles, and who, by his violent prosecutions, had rendered himself extremely obnoxious to the fanatics. A company of these had waylaid him on the road near St. Andrews, with an intention, if not of killing him, at least of chastising him so severely as would afterwards render him more cautious in persecuting the nonconformists. [*]
     * Wodrow's History of the Sufferings of the Church of
     Scotland vol. ii. p. 28.
While looking out for their prey, they were surprised at seeing the archbishop's coach pass by; and they immediately interpreted this incident as a declaration of the secret purpose of Providence against him. But when they observed that almost all his servants, by some accident, were absent, they no longer doubted, but Heaven had here delivered their capital enemy into their hands. Without further deliberation, they fell upon him; dragged him from his coach; tore him from the arms of his daughter, who interposed with cries and tears; and piercing him with redoubled wounds, left him dead on the spot, and immediately dispersed themselves.

This atrocious action served the ministry as a pretence for a more violent persecution against the fanatics, on whom, without distinction, they threw the guilt of those furious assassins. It is indeed certain, that the murder of Sharpe had excited a universal joy among the Covenanters; and that their blind zeal had often led them, in their books and sermons, to praise and recommend the assassination of their enemies, whom they considered as the enemies of all true piety and godliness. The stories of Jael and Sisera, of Ehud and Eglon, resounded from every pulpit. The officers quartered in the west received more strict orders to find out and disperse all conventicles; and for that reason the Covenanters, instead of meeting in small bodies, were obliged to celebrate their worship in numerous assemblies, and to bring arms for their security. At Rutherglen, a small borough near Glasgow, they openly set forth a declaration against prelacy; and in the market place burned several acts of parliament and acts of council, which had established that mode of ecclesiastical government, and had prohibited conventicles. For this insult on the supreme authority, they purposely chose the twenty-ninth of May, the anniversary of the restoration; and previously extinguished the bonfires which had been kindled for that solemnity.
Captain Graham, afterwards Viscount Dundee, an active and enterprising officer, attacked a great conventicle upon Loudon Hill, and was repulsed with the loss of thirty men. The Covenanters, finding that they were unwarily involved in such deep guilt, were engaged to persevere, and to seek, from their valor and fortune alone, for that indemnity which the severity of the government left them no hopes of ever being able otherwise to obtain. They pushed on to Glasgow; and though at first repulsed, they afterwards made themselves masters of that city; dispossessed the established clergy; and issued proclamations, in which they declared, that they fought against the king's supremacy, against Popery and prelacy and against a Popish successor.
How accidental soever this insurrection might appear, there is reason to suspect that some great men, in combination with the popular leaders in England, had secretly instigated the Covenanters to proceed to such extremities,[*] and hoped for the same effects that had forty years before ensued from the disorders in Scotland.
     * Algernon Sidney's Letters, p. 90.
The king also, apprehensive of like consequences, immediately despatched thither Monmouth with a small body of English cavalry. That nobleman joined to these troops the Scottish guards, and some regiments of militia, levied from the well-affected counties; and with great celerity marched in quest of the rebels. They had taken post near Bothwell Castle, between Hamilton and Glasgow, where there was no access to them but over a bridge, which a small body was able to defend against the king's forces. They showed judgment in the choice of their post, but discovered neither judgment nor valor in any other step of their conduct. No nobility and few gentry had joined them: the clergy were in reality the generals; and the whole army never exceeded eight thousand men. Monmouth attacked the bridge and the body of rebels who defended it maintained their post as long as their ammunition lasted. When they sent for more, they received orders to quit their ground, and to retire backwards. This imprudent measure occasioned an immediate defeat to the Covenanters. Monmouth passed the bridge without opposition, and drew up his forces opposite to the enemy. His cannon alone put them to rout. About seven hundred fell in the pursuit; for, properly speaking, there was no action. Twelve hundred were taken prisoners; and were treated by Monmouth with a humanity which they had never experienced in their own countrymen. Such of them as would promise to live peaceably were dismissed. About three hundred, who were so obstinate as to refuse this easy condition, were shipped for Barbadoes; but unfortunately perished in the voyage. Two of their clergy were hanged. Monmouth was of a generous disposition; and, besides, aimed at popularity in Scotland. The king intended to intrust the government of that kingdom in his hands. He had married a Scottish lady, heir of a great family, and allied to all the chief nobility. And Lauderdale, as he was now declining in his parts, and was much decayed in his memory, began to lose with the king that influence which he had maintained during so many years, notwithstanding the efforts of his numerous enemies both in Scotland and England, and notwithstanding the many violent and tyrannical actions of which he had been guilty. Even at present, he retained so much influence as to poison all the good intentions which the king, either of himself or by Monmouth's suggestion, had formed with regard to Scotland. An act of indemnity was granted; but Lauderdale took care that it should be so worded, as rather to afford protection to himself and his associates, than to the unhappy Covenanters. And though orders were given to connive thenceforwards at all conventicles, he found means, under a variety of pretences, to elude the execution of them. It must be owned, however, to his praise, that he was the chief person who, by his counsel, occasioned the expeditious march of the forces and the prompt orders given to Monmouth; and thereby disappointed all the expectations of the English malecontents, who, reflecting on the disposition of men's minds in both kingdoms, had entertained great hopes from the progress of the Scottish insurrection.




CHAPTER LXVIII.





CHARLES II.

1679
The king, observing that the whole nation concurred at first in the belief and prosecution of the Popish plot, had found it necessary for his own safety to pretend, in all public speeches and transactions, an entire belief and acquiescence in that famous absurdity; and by this artifice he had eluded the violent and irresistible torrent of the people. When a little time and recollection, as well as the execution of the pretended conspirators, had somewhat moderated the general fury, he was now enabled to form a considerable party, devoted to the interests of the crown, and determined to oppose the pretensions of the malecontents.
In every mixed government, such as that of England, the bulk of the nation will always incline to preserve the entire frame of the constitution; but according to the various prejudices, interests, and dispositions of men, some will ever attach themselves with more passion to the regal, others to the popular part of the government. Though the king, after his restoration, had endeavored to abolish the distinction of parties, and had chosen his ministers from among all denominations, no sooner had he lost his popularity, and exposed himself to general jealousy, than he found it necessary to court the old cavalier party, and to promise them full compensation for that neglect of which they had hitherto complained. The present emergence made it still more necessary for him to apply for their support; and there were many circumstances which determined them, at this time, to fly to the assistance of the crown, and to the protection of the royal family.
A party strongly attached to monarchy will naturally be jealous of the right of succession, by which alone they believe stability to be preserved in the government, and a barrier fixed against the encroachments of popular assemblies. The project, openly embraced, of excluding the duke, appeared to that party a dangerous innovation: and the design, secretly projected, of advancing Monmouth, made them apprehensive, lest the inconveniencies of a disputed succession should be propagated to all posterity. While the jealous lovers of liberty maintained, that a king, whose title depended on the parliament, would naturally be more attentive to the interests, at least to the humors of the people, the passionate admirers of monarchy considered all dependence as a degradation of kingly government, and a great step towards the establishment of a commonwealth in England.
But though his union with the political royalists brought great accession of force to the king, he derived no less support from the confederacy which he had at this time the address to form with the church of England. He represented to the ecclesiastics the great number of Presbyterians and other sectaries, who had entered into the popular party; the encouragement and favor which they met with; the loudness of their cries with regard to Popery and arbitrary power. And he made the established clergy and their adherents apprehend, that the old scheme for the abolition of prelacy as well as monarchy was revived, and that the same miseries and oppressions awaited them, to which, during the civil wars and usurpations, they had so long been exposed.
The memory also of those dismal times united many indifferent and impartial persons to the crown, and begat a dread lest the zeal for liberty should ingraft itself on fanaticism, and should once more kindle a civil war in the kingdom. Had not the king still retained the prerogative of dissolving the parliament, there was indeed reason to apprehend the renewal of all the pretensions and violences which had ushered in the last commotions. The one period appeared an exact counterpart to the other: but still discerning judges could perceive, both in the spirit of the parties and in the genius of the prince, a material difference; by means of which Charles was enabled at last, though with the imminent peril' of liberty, to preserve the peace of the nation.
The cry against Popery was loud; but it proceeded less from religious than from party zeal, in those who propagated, and even in those who adopted it. The spirit of enthusiasm had occasioned so much mischief, and had been so successfully exploded, that it was not possible, by any artifice, again to revive and support it. Cant had been ridiculed, hypocrisy detected; the pretensions to a more thorough reformation, and to greater purity, had become suspicious; and instead of denominating themselves the godly party, the appellation affected at the beginning of the civil wars, the present patriots were content with calling themselves the good and the honest party;[*] a sure prognostic that their measures were not to be so furious nor their pretensions so exorbitant.
The king too, though not endowed with the integrity and strict principles of his father, was happy in a more amiable manner and more popular address. Far from being distant stately, or reserved, he had not a grain of pride or vanity in his whole composition;[**] but was the most affable, best bred man alive. He treated his subjects like noblemen, like gentlemen, like freemen; not like vassals or boors. His professions were plausible, his whole behavior engaging; so that he won upon the hearts, even while he lost the good opinion of his subjects, and often balanced their judgment of things by their personal inclination.[***] In his public conduct likewise, though he had sometimes embraced measures dangerous to the liberty and religion of his people, he had never been found to persevere obstinately in them, but had always returned into that path which their united opinion seemed to point out to him. And upon the whole, it appeared to many cruel, and even iniquitous, to remark too rigorously the failings of a prince who discovered so much facility in correcting his errors, and so much lenity in pardoning the offences committed against himself.
The general affection borne the king appeared signally about this time. He fell sick at Windsor; and had two or three fits of a fever, so violent as made his life be thought in danger. A general consternation seized all ranks of men increased by the apprehensions entertained of his successor In the present disposition of men's minds, the king's death, to use an expression of Sir William Temple,[****] was regarded as the end of the world. The malecontents, it was feared, would proceed to extremities, and immediately kindle a civil war in the kingdom.
     * Temple, vol. i. p. 335.

     ** Temple, vol. i p. 449.

     *** Dissertation on Parties, letter vii.

     **** Vol i. p. 342.
Either their entire success, or entire failure, or even the balance and contest of parties, seemed all of them events equally fatal. The king's chief counsellors, therefore Essex, Halifax, and Sunderland, who stood on bad terms with Shaftesbury and the popular party, advised him to send secretly for the duke, that, in case of any sinister accident, that prince might be ready to assert his right against the opposition which he was likely to meet with. When the duke arrived, he found his brother out of danger; and it was agreed to conceal the invitation which he had received. His journey, however, was attended with important consequences. He prevailed on the king to disgrace Monmouth, whose projects were now known and avowed; to deprive him of his command in the army; and to send him beyond sea. He himself returned to Brussels; but made a short stay in that place. He obtained leave to retire to Scotland, under pretence still of quieting the apprehensions of the English nation; but in reality with a view of securing that kingdom in his interests.
Though Essex and Halifax had concurred in the resolution of inviting over the duke, they soon found that they had not obtained his confidence, and that even the king, while he made use of their service, had no sincere regard for their persons. Essex in disgust resigned the treasury: Halifax retired to his country seat: Temple, despairing of any accommodation among such enraged parties, withdrew almost entirely to his books and his gardens. The king, who changed ministers as well as measures with great indifference, bestowed at this time his chief confidence on Hyde, Sunderland, and Godolphin. Hyde succeeded Essex in the treasury.
All the king's ministers, as well as himself, were extremely averse to the meeting of the new parliament, which they expected to find as refractory as any of the preceding. The elections had gone mostly in favor of the country party. The terrors of the plot had still a mighty influence over the populace; and the apprehensions of the duke's bigoted principles and arbitrary character weighed with men of sense and reflection. The king therefore resolved to prorogue the parliament, that he might try whether time would allay those humors, which, by every other, expedient, he had in vain attempted to mollify. In this measure he did not expect the concurrence of his council. He knew that those, popular leaders, whom he had admitted, would zealously oppose a resolution which disconcerted all their schemes; and that the royalists would not dare, by supporting it, to expose themselves to the vengeance of the parliament, when it should be assembled. These reasons obliged him to take this step entirely of himself; and he only declared his resolution in council. It is remarkable that, though the king had made profession never to embrace any measure without the advice of these counsellors, he had often broken that resolution, and had been necessitated, in affairs of the greatest consequence, to control their opinion. Many of them in disgust threw up about this time; particularly Lord Russel, the most popular man in the nation, as well from the mildness and integrity of his character, as from his zealous attachment to the religion and liberties of his country. Though carried into some excesses, his intentions were ever esteemed upright; and being heir to the greatest fortune in the kingdom, as well as void of ambition, men believed that nothing but the last necessity could ever engage him to embrace any desperate measures. Shaftesbury, who was, in most particulars, of an opposite character, was removed by the king from the office of president of the council; and the earl of Radnor, a man who possessed whimsical talents and splenetic virtues, was substituted in his place.
It was the favor and countenance of the parliament which had chiefly encouraged the rumor of plots; but the nation had gotten so much into that vein of credulity, and every necessitous villain was so much incited by the success of Oates and Bedloe, that even during the prorogation the people were not allowed to remain in tranquillity. There was one Dangerfield, a fellow who had been burned in the hand for crimes, transported, whipped, pilloried four times, fined for cheats, outlawed for felony, convicted of coining, and exposed to all the public infamy which the laws could inflict on the basest and most shameful enormities. The credulity of the people, and the humor of the times, enabled even this man to become a person of consequence. He was the author of a new incident called the meal-tub plot, from the place where some papers relating to it were found. The bottom of this affair it is difficult and not very material to discover. It only appears, that Dangerfield, under pretence of betraying the conspiracies of the Presbyterians, had been countenanced by some Catholics of condition, and had even been admitted to the duke's presence and the king's; and that under pretence of revealing new Popish plots, he had obtained access to Shaftesbury and some of the popular leaders. Which side he intended to cheat, is uncertain; or whether he did not rather mean to cheat both: but he soon found, that the belief of the nation was more open to a Popish than a Presbyterian plot; and he resolved to strike in with the prevailing humor. Though no weight could be laid on his testimony, great clamor was raised; as if the court, by way of retaliation, had intended to load the Presbyterians with the guilt of a false conspiracy It must be confessed, that the present period, by the prevalence and suspicion of such mean and ignoble arts on all sides, throws a great stain on the British annals.
One of the most innocent artifices practised by party men at this time, was the additional ceremony, pomp, and expense, with which a pope-burning was celebrated in London: the spectacle served to entertain, and amuse, and inflame the populace. The duke of Monmouth likewise came over without leave, and made a triumphant procession through many parts of the kingdom, extremely caressed and admired by the people. All these arts seemed requisite to support the general prejudices during the long interval of parliament. Great endeavors were also used to obtain the king's consent for the meeting of that assembly.
1680
Seventeen peers presented a petition to this purpose. Many of the corporations imitated the example. Notwithstanding several marks of displeasure, and even a menacing proclamation from the king, petitions came from all parts, earnestly insisting on a session of parliament. The danger of Popery, and the terrors of the plot, were never forgotten in any of these addresses.
Tumultuous petitioning was one of the chief artifices by which the malecontents in the last reign had attacked the own: and though the manner of subscribing and delivering petitions was now somewhat regulated by act of parliament, the thing itself still remained; and was an admirable expedient for infesting the court, for spreading discontent, and for uniting the nation in any popular clamor. As the king found no law by which he could punish those importunate, and, as he deemed them, undutiful solicitations, he was obliged to encounter them by popular applications of a contrary tendency Wherever the church and court party prevailed, addresses were framed, containing expressions of the highest regard to his majesty, the most entire acquiescence in his wisdom, the most dutiful submission to his prerogative, and the deepest abhorrence of those who endeavored to encroach upon it, by prescribing to him any time for assembling the parliament. Thus the nation came to be distinguished into petitioners and abhorrers. Factions indeed were at this time extremely animated against each other. The very names by which each party denominated its antagonist, discover the virulence and rancor which prevailed. For besides petitioner and abhorrer, appellations which were soon forgotten, this year is remarkable for being the epoch of the well-known epithets of "whig" and "tory", by which, and sometimes without any material difference, this island has been so long divided. The court party reproached their antagonists with their affinity to the fanatical conventiclers in Scotland, who were known by the name of whigs: the country party found a resemblance between the courtiers and the Popish banditti in Ireland, to whom the appellation of tory was affixed. And after this manner these foolish terms of reproach came into public and general use; and even at present seem not nearer their end than when they were first invented.
The king used every art to encourage his partisans, and to reconcile the people to his government. He persevered in the great zeal which he affected against Popery. He even allowed several priests to be put to death, for no other crime than their having received orders in the Romish church. It is singular, that one of them, called Evans, was playing at tennis when the warrant for his immediate execution was notified to him: he swore that he would play out his set first. Charles, with the same view of acquiring popularity, formed an alliance with Spain, and also offered an alliance to Holland: but the Dutch, terrified with the great power of France, and seeing little resource in a country so distracted as England, declined acceptance. He had sent for the duke from Scotland; but desired him to return, when the time of assembling the parliament began to approach.
It was of great consequence to the popular party, while the meeting of parliament depended on the king's will, to keep the law, whose operations are perpetual, entirely on their side. The sheriffs of London by their office return the juries: it had been usual for the mayor to nominate one sheriff by drinking to him; and the common hall had ever, without dispute, confirmed the mayor's choice. Sir Robert Clayton, the mayor, appointed one who was not acceptable to the popular party: the common hall rejected him; and Bethel and Cornish, two Independents and republicans, and of consequence deeply engaged with the malecontents, were chosen by a majority of voices. In spite of all remonstrances and opposition, the citizens persisted in their choice; and the court party was obliged for the present to acquiesce.
Juries, however, were not so partial in the city, but that reason and justice, even when the Popish plot was in question, could sometimes prevail. The earl of Castlemaine, husband to the duchess of Cleveland, was acquitted about this time, though accused by Oates and Dangerfield of an intention to assassinate the king. Sir Thomas Gascoigne, a very aged gentleman in the north, being accused by two servants, whom he had dismissed for dishonesty, received a like verdict. These trials were great blows to the plot, which now began to stagger, in the judgment of most men, except those who were entirely devoted to the country party. But in order still to keep alive the zeal against Popery, the earl of Shaftesbury appeared in Westminster Hall, attended by the earl of Huntingdon, the lords Russel, Cavendish, Grey, Brandon, Sir Henry Caverly, Sir Gilbert Gerrard, Sir William Cooper, and other persons of distinction, and presented to the grand jury of Middlesex reasons for indicting the duke of York as a Popish recusant. While the jury were deliberating on this extraordinary presentment, the chief justice sent for them, and suddenly, even somewhat irregularly, dismissed them. Shaftesbury, however, obtained the end for which he had undertaken this bold measure: he showed to all his followers the desperate resolution which he had embraced, never to admit of any accommodation or composition with the duke. By such daring conduct he gave them assurance, that he was fully determined not to desert their cause; and he engaged them to a like devoted perseverance in all the measures which he should suggest to them.
As the kingdom was regularly and openly divided into two zealous parties, it was not difficult for the king to know, that the majority of the new house of commons was engaged in interests opposite to the court: but that he might leave no expedient untried, which could compose the unhappy differences among his subjects, he resolved at last, after a long interval, to assemble the parliament. In his speech he told them, that the several prorogations which he had made had been very advantageous to his neighbors, and very useful to himself: that he had employed that interval in perfecting with the crown of Spain an alliance which had often been desired by former parliaments, and which, he doubted not, would be extremely agreeable to them: that, in order to give weight to this measure, and render it beneficial to Christendom, it was necessary to avoid all domestic dissensions, and to unite themselves firmly in the same views and purposes: that he was determined, that nothing on his part should be wanting to such a salutary end; and provided the succession were preserved in its due and legal course, he would concur in any expedient for the security of the protestant religion, that the further examination of the Popish plot, and the punishment of the criminals, were requisite for the safety both of king and kingdom; and after recommending to them the necessity of providing, by some supplies, for the safety of Tangiers, he proceeded in these words: "But that which I value above all the treasure in the world, and which I am sure will give us greater strength and reputation both at home and abroad than any treasure can do, is a perfect union among ourselves. Nothing but this can restore the kingdom to that strength and vigor which it seems to have lost, and raise us again to that consideration which England hath usually possessed. All Europe have their eyes upon this assembly, and think their own happiness and misery, as well as ours, will depend upon it. If we should be so unhappy as to fall into misunderstandings among ourselves to that degree as would render our friendship unsafe to trust to, will not be wondered at, if our neighbors should begin to take new resolutions, and perhaps such as may be fatal to us. Let us therefore take care, that we do not gratify our enemies, and discourage our friends, by any unseasonable disputes. If any such do happen, the world will see that it is no fault of mine; for I have done all that it was possible for me to do, to keep you in peace while I live, and to leave you so when I die. But from so great prudence and so good affection as yours, I can fear nothing of this kind; but do rely upon you all, that you will do your best endeavors to bring this parliament to a good and happy conclusion."
All these mollifying expressions had no influence with the commons. Every step which they took betrayed the zeal with which they were animated. They voted, that it was the undoubted right of the subject to petition the king for the calling and sitting of parliament. Not content with this decision, which seems justifiable in a mixed monarchy, they fell with the utmost violence on all those abhorrers, who in their addresses to the crown, had expressed their disapprobation of those petitions. They did not reflect, that it was as lawful for one party of men as for another to express their sense of public affairs; and that the best established right may, in particular circumstances, be abused, and even the exercise of it become an object of abhorrence. For this offence they expelled Sir Thomas Withens. They appointed a committee for further inquiry into such members as had been guilty of a like crime, and complaints were lodged against Lord Paston, Sir Robert Malverer, Sir Bryan Stapleton, Taylor, and Turner. They addressed the king against Sir George Jefferies, recorder of London, for his activity in the same cause; and they frightened him into a resignation of his office, in which he was succeeded by Sir George Treby, a great leader of the popular party. They voted an impeachment against North, chief justice of the common pleas, for drawing the proclamation against tumultuous petitions; but upon examination found the proclamation so cautiously worded, that it afforded them no handle against him. A petition had been presented to the king from Taunton. "How dare you deliver me such a paper?" said the king to the person who presented it. "Sir," replied he, "my name is DARE." For this saucy reply, but under other pretences, he had been tried, fined, and committed to prison. The commons now addressed the king for his liberty, and for remitting his fine. Some printers also and authors of seditious libels they took under their protection.
Great numbers of the abhorrers, from all parts of England, were seized by order of the commons, and committed to custody. The liberty of the subject, which had been so carefully guarded by the Great Charter, and by the late law of habeas corpus, was every day violated by their arbitrary and capricious commitments. The chief jealousy, it is true, of the English constitution is naturally and justly directed against the crown; nor indeed have the commons any other means of securing their privileges than by commitments, which, as they cannot beforehand be exactly determined by law, must always appear in some degree arbitrary. Sensible of these reasons, the people had hitherto, without murmuring, seen this discretionary power exercised by the house: but as it was now carried to excess, and was abused to serve the purposes of faction, great complaints against it were heard from all quarters. At last, the vigor and courage of one Stowel of Exeter, an abhorrer, put an end to the practice. He refused to obey the serjeant at arms, stood upon his defence, and said that he knew of no law by which they pretended to commit him. The house, finding it equally dangerous to proceed or to recede, got off by an evasion: they inserted in their votes, that Stowel was indisposed, and that a month's time was allowed him for the recovery of his health.
But the chief violence of the house of commons appeared in all their transactions with regard to the plot, which they prosecuted with the same zeal and the same credulity as their predecessors. They renewed the former vote, which affirmed the reality of the horrid Popish plot; and, in order the more to terrify the people, they even asserted that, notwithstanding the discovery, the plot still subsisted. They expelled Sir Robert Can and Sir Robert Yeomans, who had been complained of for saying, that there was no Popish, but there was a Presbyterian plot. And they greatly lamented the death of Bedloe, whom they called a material witness, and on whose testimony they much depended. He had been seized with a fever at Bristol; had sent for Chief Justice North; confirmed all his former evidence, except that with regard to the duke and the queen; and desired North to apply to the king for some money to relieve him in his necessities. A few days after, he expired; and the whole party triumphed extremely in these circumstances of his death: as if such a testimony could be deemed the affirmation of a dying man; as if his confession of perjury in some instances could assure his veracity in the rest; and as if the perseverance of one profligate could outweigh the last words of so many men, guilty of no crime but that of Popery.
The commons even endeavored, by their countenance and protection, to remove the extreme infamy with which Dangerfield was loaded, and to restore him to the capacity of being an evidence. The whole tribe of informers they applauded and rewarded: Jennison, Turberville, Dugdale, Smith, La Faria, appeared before them; and their testimony, however frivolous or absurd, met with a favorable reception: the king was applied to in their behalf for pensions and pardons: their narratives were printed with that sanction which arose from the approbation of the house: Dr. Tongue was recommended for the first considerable church preferment which should become vacant. Considering men's determined resolution to believe, instead of admiring that a palpable falsehood should be maintained by witnesses, it may justly appear wonderful, that no better evidence was ever produced against the Catholics.
The principal reasons which still supported the clamor of the Popish plot, were the apprehensions entertained by the people of the duke of York, and the resolution embraced by their leaders of excluding him from the throne. Shaftesbury, and many considerable men of the party, had rendered themselves irreconcilable with him, and could find their safety no way but in his ruin. Monmouth's friends hoped, that the exclusion of that prince would make way for their patron. The resentment against the duke's apostasy, the love of liberty, the zeal for religion, the attachment to faction; all these motives incited the country party. And above all, what supported the resolution of adhering to the exclusion, and rejecting all other expedients offered, was the hope, artfully encouraged, that the king would at last be obliged to yield to their demand. His revenues were extremely burdened; and, even if free, could scarcely suffice for the necessary charges of government, much less for that pleasure and expense to which he was inclined. Though he had withdrawn his countenance from Monmouth, he was known secretly to retain a great affection for him. On no occasion had he ever been found to persist obstinately against difficulties and importunity. And as his beloved mistress, the duchess of Portsmouth, had been engaged, either from lucrative views, or the hopes of making the succession fall on her own children, to unite herself with the popular party, this incident was regarded as a favorable prognostic of their success. Sunderland, secretary of state, who had linked his interest with that of the duchess, had concurred in the same measure.
But besides friendship for his brother, and a regard to the right of succession, there were many strong reasons which had determined Charles to persevere in opposing the exclusion. All the royalists and the devotees to the church, that party by which alone monarchy was supported, regarded the right of succession as inviolable; and if abandoned by the king in so capital an article, it was to be feared that they would, in their turn, desert his cause, and deliver him over to the pretensions and usurpations of the country party. The country party, or the whigs, as they were called, if they did not still retain some propensity towards a republic, were at least affected with a violent jealousy of regal power; and it was equally to be dreaded, that being enraged with past opposition, and animated by present success, they would, if they prevailed in this pretension, be willing as well as able to reduce the prerogative within very narrow limits. All menaces therefore, all promises, were in vain employed against the king's resolution: he never would be prevailed on to desert his friends, and put himself into the hands of his enemies. And having voluntarily made such important concessions, and tendered, over and over again, such strong limitations, he was well pleased to find them rejected by the obstinacy of the commons; and hoped that, after the spirit of opposition had spent itself in fruitless violence, the time would come, when he might safely appeal against his parliament to his people.
So much were the popular leaders determined to carry matters to extremities, that in less than a week after the commencement of the session, a motion was made for bringing in an exclusion bill, and a committee was appointed for that purpose. This bill differed in nothing from the former, but in two articles, which showed still an increase of zeal in the commons: the bill was to be read to the people twice a year in all the churches of the kingdom; and every one who should support the duke's title, was rendered incapable of receiving a pardon but by act of parliament.
The debates were carried on with great violence on both sides. The bill was defended by Sir William Jones, who had now resigned his office of attorney-general, by Lord Russel, by Sir Francis Winnington, Sir Harry Capel, Sir William Pulteney, by Colonel Titus, Treby, Hambden, Montague. It was opposed by Sir Leoline Jenkins, secretary of state, Sir John Ernley, chancellor of the exchequer, by Hyde, Seymour, Temple. The arguments transmitted to us may be reduced to the following topics.
In every government, said the exclusionists, there is some-where an authority absolute and supreme; nor can any determination, how unusual soever, which receives the sanction of the legislature, admit afterwards of dispute or control. The liberty of a constitution, so far from diminishing this absolute power, seems rather to add force to it, and to give it greater influence over the people. The more members of the state concur in any legislative decision, and the more free their voice, the less likelihood is there that any opposition will be made to those measures which receive the final sanction of their authority. In England, the legislative power is lodged in king, lords, and commons, which comprehend every order of the community; and there is no pretext for exempting any circumstance of government, not even the succession of the crown, from so full and decisive a jurisdiction. Even express declarations have, in this particular, been made of parliamentary authority: instances have occurred where it has been exerted; and though prudential reasons may justly be alleged, why such innovations should not be attempted but on extraordinary occasions, the power and right are forever vested in the community. But if any occasion can be deemed extraordinary, if any emergence can require unusual expedients, it is the present; when the heir to the crown has renounced the religion of the state, and has zealously embraced a faith totally hostile and incompatible. A prince of that communion can never put trust in a people so prejudiced against him: the people must be equally diffident of such a prince: foreign and destructive alliances will seem to one the only protection of his throne: perpetual jealousy, opposition, faction, even insurrections will be employed by the other as the sole securities for their liberty and religion. Though theological principles, when set in opposition to passions, have often small influence on mankind in general, still less on princes, yet when they become symbols of faction, and marks of party distinctions, they concur with one of the strongest passions in the human frame, and are then capable of carrying men to the greatest extremities. Notwithstanding the better judgment and milder disposition of the king, how much has the influence of the duke already disturbed the tenor of government! how often engaged the nation into measures totally destructive of their foreign interests and honor, of their domestic repose and tranquillity! The more the absurdity and incredibility of the Popish plot are insisted on, the stronger reason it affords for the exclusion of the duke; since the universal belief of it discovers the extreme antipathy of the nation to his religion, and the utter impossibility of ever bringing them to acquiesce peaceably under the dominion of such a sovereign. The prince, finding himself in so perilous a situation, must seek for security by desperate remedies, and by totally subduing the privileges of a nation, which had betrayed such hostile dispositions towards himself, and towards every thing which he deems the most sacred. It is in vain to propose limitations and expedients. Whatever share of authority is left in the duke's hands, will be employed to the destruction of the nation; and even the additional restraints, by discovering the public diffidence and aversion, will serve him as incitements to put himself in a condition entirely superior and independent. And as the laws of England still make resistance treason, and neither do nor can admit of any positive exceptions, what folly to leave the kingdom in so perilous and absurd a situation, where the greatest virtue will be exposed to the most severe proscription, and where the laws can only be saved by expedients, which these same laws have declared the highest crime and enormity!
The court party reasoned in an opposite manner. An authority, they said, wholly absolute and uncontrollable is a mere chimera, and is nowhere to be found in any human institutions. All government is founded on opinion and a sense of duty; and wherever the supreme magistrate, by any law or positive prescription, shocks an opinion regarded as fundamental, and established with a firmness equal to that of his own authority, he subverts the principle by which he himself is established, and can no longer hope for obedience. In European monarchies, the right of succession is justly esteemed a fundamental; and even though the whole legislature be vested in a single person, it would never be permitted him, by an edict, to disinherit his lawful heir, and call a stranger or more distant relation to the throne. Abuses in other parts of government are capable of redress, from more dispassionate inquiry or better information of the sovereign, and till then ought patiently to be endured: but violations of the right of succession draw such terrible consequences after them, as are not to be paralleled by any other grievance or inconvenience. Vainly is it pleaded that England is a mixed monarchy; and that a law, assented to by king, lords, and commons, is enacted by the concurrence of every part of the state: it is plain, that there remains a very powerful party, who may indeed be outvoted, but who never will deem a law, subversive of hereditary right, anywise valid or obligatory. Limitations, such as are proposed by the king, give no shock to the constitution, which, in many particulars, is already limited; and they may be so calculated as to serve every purpose sought for by an exclusion. If the ancient barriers against regal authority have been able, during so many ages, to remain impregnable, how much more those additional ones, which, by depriving the monarch of power, tend so far to their own security? The same jealousy too of religion, which has engaged the people to lay these restraints upon the successor, will extremely lessen the number of his partisans, and make it utterly impracticable for him, either by force or artifice, to break the fetters imposed upon him. The king's age and vigorous state of health promise him a long life; and can it be prudent to tear in pieces the whole state, in order to provide against a contingency which, it is very likely, may never happen? No human schemes can secure the public in all possible, imaginable events; and the bill of exclusion itself however accurately framed, leaves room for obvious and natural suppositions, to which it pretends not to provide any remedy. Should the duke have a son after the king's death must that son, without any default of his own forfeit his title? or must the princess of Orange descend from the throne, in order to give place to the lawful successor? But were all these reasonings false, it still remains to be considered that, in public deliberations, we seek not the expedient which is best in itself, but the best of such as are practicable. The king willingly consents to limitations, and has already offered some which are of the utmost importance: but he is determined to endure any extremity rather than allow the right of succession to be invaded. Let us beware of that factious violence, which leads to demand more than will be granted; lest we lose the advantage of those beneficial concessions, and leave the nation, on the king's demise, at the mercy of a zealous prince, irritated with the ill usage which, he imagines, he has already met with.
In the house of commons, the reasoning of the exclusionists appeared the more convincing; and the bill passed by a great majority. It was in the house of peers that the king expected to oppose it with success. The court party was there so prevalent, that it was carried only by a majority of two to pay so much regard to the bill as even to commit it. When it came to be debated, the contest was violent. Shaftesbury, Sunderland, and Essex argued for it; Halifax chiefly conducted the debate against it, and displayed an extent of capacity and a force of eloquence which had never been surpassed in that assembly. He was animated, as well by the greatness of the occasion, as by a rivalship with his uncle Shaftesbury; whom, during that day's debate, he seemed, in the judgment of all, to have totally eclipsed. The king was present during the whole debate, which was prolonged till eleven at night. The bill was thrown out by a considerable majority. All the bishops, except three, voted against it. Besides the influence of the court over them, the church of England, they imagined or pretended, was in greater danger from the prevalence of Presbyterianism than of Popery, which, though favored by the duke, and even by the king was extremely repugnant to the genius of the nation.
The commons discovered much ill humor upon this disappointment. They immediately voted an address for the removal of Halifax from the king's councils and presence forever. Though the pretended cause was his advising the late frequent prorogations of parliament, the real reason was apparently his vigorous opposition to the exclusion bill. When the king applied for money to enable him to maintain Tangiers, which he declared his present revenues totally unable to defend, instead of complying, they voted such an address as was in reality a remonstrance, and one little less violent than that famous remonstrance which ushered in the civil wars. All the abuses of government, from the beginning almost of the reign, are there insisted on; the Dutch war, the alliance with France, the prorogations and dissolutions of parliament; and as all these measures, as well as the damnable and hellish plot, are there ascribed to the machinations of Papists, it was plainly insinuated, that the king had, all along, lain under the influence of that party, and was in reality the chief conspirator against the religion and liberties of his people.
The commons, though they conducted the great business of the exclusion with extreme violence, and even imprudence, had yet much reason for the jealousy which gave rise to it: but their vehement prosecution of the Popish plot, even after so long an interval, discovers such a spirit, either of credulity or injustice, as admits of no apology. The impeachment of the Catholic lords in the Tower was revived; and as Viscount Stafford, from his age, infirmities, and narrow capacity, was deemed the least capable of defending himself, it was determined to make him the first victim, that his condemnation might pave the way for a sentence against the rest. The chancellor, now created earl of Nottingham, was appointed high steward for conducting the trial.
Three witnesses were produced against the prisoner; Oates, Dugdale, and Turberville. Oates swore, that he saw Fenwick the Jesuit, deliver to Stafford a commission signed by De Oliva, general of the Jesuits, appointing him paymaster to the Papal army, which was to be levied for the subduing of England; for this ridiculous imposture still maintained its credit with the commons. Dugdale gave testimony, that the prisoner, at Tixal; a seat of Lord Aston's, had endeavored to engage him in the design of murdering the king; and had promised him, besides the honor of being sainted by the church, a reward of five hundred pounds for that service. Turberville deposed, that the prisoner, in his own house at Paris, had made him a like proposal. To offer money for murdering a king, without laying down any scheme by which the assassin may insure some probability or possibility of escape, is so incredible in itself, and may so easily be maintained by any prostitute evidence, that an accusation of that nature, not accompanied with circumstances, ought very little to be attended to by any court of judicature. But notwithstanding the small hold which the witnesses afforded, the prisoner was able, in many material particulars, to discredit their testimony. It was sworn by Dugdale, that Stafford had assisted in a great consult of the Catholics held at Tixal; but Stafford proved by undoubted testimony, that at the time assigned he was in Bath, and in that neighborhood. Turberville had served a novitiate among the Dominicans; but having deserted the convent, he had enlisted as a trooper in the French army; and being dismissed that service, he now lived in London, abandoned by all his relations, and exposed to great poverty. Stafford proved, by the evidence of his gentleman and his page, that Turberville had never, either at Paris or at London, been seen in his company; and it might justly appear strange, that a person who had so important a secret in his keeping, was so long entirely neglected by him.
The clamor and outrage of the populace, during the trial, were extreme: great abilities and eloquence were displayed by the managers, Sir William Jones, Sir Francis Winnington, and Serjeant Maynard: yet did the prisoner, under all these disadvantages, make a better defence than was expected, either by his friends or his enemies: the unequal contest in which he was engaged, was a plentiful source of compassion to every mind seasoned with humanity. He represented that, during a course of forty years, from the very commencement of the civil wars, he had, through many dangers, difficulties, and losses, still maintained his loyalty: and was it credible, that now, in his old age, easy in his circumstances, but dispirited by infirmities, he would belie the whole course of his life, and engage against his royal master, from whom he had ever received kind treatment, in the most desperate and most bloody of all conspiracies? He remarked the infamy of the witnesses; the contradictions and absurdities of their testimony; the extreme indigence in which they had lived, though engaged, as they pretended, in a conspiracy with kings, princes, and nobles; the credit and opulence to which they were at present raised. With a simplicity and tenderness more persuasive than the greatest oratory, he still made protestations of his innocence; and could not forbear, every moment, expressing the most lively surprise and indignation at the audacious impudence of the witnesses.
It will appear astonishing to us, as it did to Stafford himself, that the peers, after a solemn trial of six days, should by a majority of twenty-four voices, give sentence against him. He received, however, with resignation, the fatal verdict. "God's holy name be praised," was the only exclamation which he uttered. When the high steward told him, that the peers would intercede with the king for remitting the more cruel and ignominious parts of the sentence, hanging and quartering, he burst into tears; but he told the lords, that he was moved to this weakness by his sense of their goodness, not by any terror of that fate which he was doomed to suffer.
It is remarkable that, after Charles, as is usual in such cases, had remitted to Stafford the hanging and quartering, the two Sheriffs, Bethel and Cornish, indulging their own republican humor, and complying with the prevalent spirit of their party, over jealous of Monarchy, started a doubt with regard to the king's power of exercising even this small degree of lenity. "Since he cannot pardon the whole," said they, "how can he have power to remit any part of the sentence?" They proposed the doubt to both houses: the peers pronounced it superfluous; and even the commons, apprehensive lest a question of this nature might make way for Stafford's escape, gave this singular answer: "This house is content, that the sheriffs do execute William late Viscount Stafford by severing his head from his body only." Nothing can be a stronger proof of the fury of the times, than that Lord Russel, notwithstanding the virtue and humanity of his character, seconded in the house this barbarous scruple of the Sheriffs.
In the interval between the sentence and execution, many efforts were made to shake the resolution of the infirm and aged prisoner, and to bring him to some confession of the treason for which he was condemned. It was even rumored that he had confessed; and the zealous partymen, who, no doubt, had secretly, notwithstanding their credulity, entertained some doubts with regard to the reality of the Popish conspiracy, expressed great triumph on the occasion. But Stafford, when again called before the house of peers, discovered many schemes, which had been laid by himself and others, for procuring a toleration to the Catholics, at least a mitigation of the penal laws enacted against them: and he protested, that this was the sole treason of which he had ever been guilty.
Stafford now prepared himself for death with the intrepidity which became his birth and station, and which was the natural result of the innocence and integrity which, during the course of a long life, he had ever maintained: his mind seemed even to collect new force from the violence and oppression under which he labored. When going to execution, he called for a cloak to defend him against the rigor of the season. "Perhaps," said he, "I may shake with cold; but, I trust in God, not for fear." On the scaffold, he continued, with reiterated and earnest asseverations, to make protestations of his innocence: all his fervor was exercised on that point: when he mentioned the witnesses, whose perjuries had bereaved him of life, his expressions were full of mildness and of charity. He solemnly disavowed all those immoral principles, which over-zealous Protestants had ascribed without distinction to the church of Rome: and he hoped, he said, that the time was now approaching, when the present delusion would be dissipated; and when the force of truth, though late, would engage the whole world to make reparation to his injured honor.
The populace, who had exulted at Stafford's trial and condemnation, were now melted into tears, at the sight of that tender fortitude which shone forth in each feature, and motion, and accent of this aged noble. Their profound silence was only interrupted by sighs and groans: with difficulty they found speech to assent to those protestations of innocence which he frequently repeated: "We believe you, my lord! God bless you, my lord!" These expressions with a faltering accent flowed from them. The executioner himself was touched with sympathy. Twice he lifted up the axe, with an intent to strike the fatal blow; and as often felt his resolution to fail him. A deep sigh was heard to accompany his last effort, which laid Stafford forever at rest. All the spectators seemed to feel the blow. And when the head was held up to them with the usual cry, "This is the head of a traitor," no clamor of assent was uttered. Pity, remorse, and astonishment had taken possession of every heart, and displayed itself in every countenance.
This is the last blood which was shed on account of the Popish plot; an incident which, for the credit of the nation, it were better to bury in eternal oblivion; but which it is necessary to perpetuate, as well to maintain the truth of history, as to warn, if possible, their posterity and all mankind never again to fall into so shameful, so barbarous a delusion.
The execution of Stafford gratified the prejudices of the country party; but it contributed nothing to their power and security: on the contrary, by exciting commiseration, it tended still further to increase the disbelief of the whole plot, which began now to prevail. The commons, therefore, not to lose the present opportunity, resolved to make both friends and enemies sensible of their power. They passed a bill for easing the Protestant dissenters, and for repealing the persecuting statute of the thirty-fifth of Elizabeth: this laudable bill was likewise carried through the house of peers. The chief justice was very obnoxious for dismissing the grand jury in an irregular manner, and thereby disappointing that bold measure of Shaftesbury and his friends, who had presented the duke as a recusant. For this crime the commons sent up an impeachment against him; as also against Jones and Weston, two of the judges, who, in some speeches from the bench, had gone so far as to give to many of the first reformers the appellation of fanatics.
The king, in rejecting the exclusion bill, had sheltered himself securely behind the authority of the house of peers; and the commons had been deprived of the usual pretence, to attack the sovereign himself under color of attacking his ministers and counsellors. In prosecution, however, of the scheme which he had formed, of throwing the blame on the commons in case of any rupture, he made them a new speech. After warning them, that a neglect of this opportunity would never be retrieved, he added these words: "I did promise you the fullest satisfaction which your hearts could wish, for the security of the Protestant religion, and to concur with you in any remedies which might consist with preserving the succession of the crown in its due and legal course of descent. I do again, with the same reservations, renew the same promises to you: and being thus ready on my part to do all that can reasonably be expected from me, I should be glad to know from you, as soon as may be, how far I shall be assisted by you, and what it is you desire from me."
The most reasonable objection against the limitations proposed by the king, is, that they introduced too considerable an innovation in the government, and almost totally annihilated the power of the future monarch. But considering the present disposition of the commons and their leaders, we may fairly presume, that this objection would have small weight with them, and that their disgust against the court would rather incline them to diminish than support regal authority. They still hoped, from the king's urgent necessities and his usual facility, that he would throw himself wholly into their hands; and that thus, without waiting for the accession of the duke, they might immediately render themselves absolute masters of the government. The commons, therefore, besides insisting still on the exclusion, proceeded to bring in bills of an important, and some of them of an alarming nature: one to renew the triennial act, which had been so inadvertently repealed in the beginning of the reign; a second to make the office of judge during good behavior; a third to declare the levying of money without consent of parliament to be high treason; a fourth to order an association for the safety of his majesty's person, for defence of the Protestant religion, for the preservation of the Protestant subjects against all invasions and opposition whatsoever, and for preventing the duke of York, or any Papist, from succeeding to the crown. The memory of the covenant was too recent for men to overlook the consequences of such an association; and the king, who was particularly conversant in Davila, could not fail of recollecting a memorable foreign instance, to fortify this domestic experience.
The commons also passed many votes, which, though they had not the authority of laws, served, however, to discover the temper and disposition of the house. They voted, that whoever had advised his majesty to refuse the exclusion bill, were promoters of Popery and enemies to the king and kingdom. In another vote, they named the marquis of Worcester, the earls of Clarendon, Feversham, and Halifax, Laurence Hyde, and Edward Seymour, as those dangerous enemies; and they requested his majesty to remove them from his person and councils forever. They voted, that, till the exclusion bill were passed, they could not, consistent with the trust reposed in them, grant the king any manner of supply. And lest he should be enabled, by any other expedient, to support the government, and preserve himself independent, they passed another vote, in which they declared, that whoever should hereafter lend, by way of advance, any money upon those branches of the king's revenue arising from customs, excise, or hearth money, should be judged a hinderer of the sitting of parliament, and be responsible for the same in parliament.
The king might presume that the peers, who had rejected the exclusion bill, would still continue to defend the throne, and that none of the dangerous bills, introduced into the othe*[**missing r] house, would ever be presented for the royal assent and approbation. But as there remained no hopes of bringing the commons to any better temper, and as their further sitting served only to keep faction alive, and to perpetuate the general ferment of the nation, he came secretly to a resolution of proroguing them.
1681
They got intelligence about a quarter of an hour before the black rod came to their door. Not to lose such precious time, they passed, in a tumultuous manner, some extraordinary resolutions. They voted, that whosoever advised his majesty to prorogue this parliament to any other purpose than in order to pass the bill of exclusion, was a betrayer of the king, of the Protestant religion, and of the kingdom of England; a promoter of the French interest, and a pensioner of France: that thanks be given to the city of London for their manifest loyalty, and for their care and vigilance in the preservation of the king and of the Protestant religion: that it is the opinion of this house, that that city was burned in the year 1666 by the Papists, designing thereby to introduce arbitrary power and Popery into the kingdom: that humble application be made to his majesty for restoring the duke of Monmouth to all his offices and commands, from which, it appears to the house, he had been removed by the influence of the duke of York: and that it is the opinion of the house, that the prosecution of the Protestant dissenters upon the penal laws is at this time grievous to the subject, a weakening of the Protestant interest, an encouragement of Popery, and dangerous to the peace of the kingdom.
The king passed some laws of no great importance: but the bill for repealing the thirty-fifth of Elizabeth, he privately ordered the clerk of the crown not to present to him. By this artifice, which was equally disobliging to the country party as if the bill had been rejected, and at the same time implied some timidity in the king, that salutary act was for the present eluded. The king had often of himself attempted, and sometimes by irregular means, to give indulgence to nonconformists: but besides that he had usually expected to comprehend the Catholics in this liberty, the present refractory disposition of the sectaries had much incensed him against them; and he was resolved, if possible, to keep them still at mercy.
The last votes of the commons seemed to be an attempt of forming indirectly an association against the crown, after they found that their association bill could not pass: the dissenting interest, the city, and the duke of Monmouth, they endeavored to connect with the country party. A civil war indeed never appeared so likely as at present; and it was high time for the king to dissolve a parliament which seemed to have entertained such dangerous projects. Soon after, he summoned another. Though he observed, that the country party had established their interest so strongly in all the electing boroughs, that he could not hope for any disposition more favorable in the new parliament, this expedient was still a prosecution of his former project, of trying every method by which he might form an accommodation with the commons; and if all failed, he hoped that he could the better justify to his people, at least to his party, a final breach with them.
It had always been much regretted by the royalists, during the civil wars, that the long parliament had been assembled at Westminster, and had thereby received force and encouragement from the vicinity of a potent and factious city, which had zealously embraced their party. Though the king was now possessed of guards, which in some measure overawed the populace, he was determined still further to obviate all inconveniences; and he summoned the new parliament to meet at Oxford. The city of London showed how just a judgment he had formed of their dispositions. Besides reelecting the same members, they voted thanks to them for their former behavior, in endeavoring to discover the depth of the horrid and hellish Popish plot, and to exclude the duke of York, the principal cause of the ruin and misery impending over the nation. Monmouth with fifteen peers presented a petition against assembling the parliament at Oxford, "where the two houses," they said, "could not be in safety; but would be easily exposed to the swords of the Papists and their adherents, of whom too many had crept into his majesty's guards." These insinuations, which pointed so evidently at the king himself, were not calculated to persuade him, but to inflame the people.
The exclusionists might have concluded, both from the king's dissolution of the last parliament, and from his summoning of the present to meet at Oxford, that he was determined to maintain his declared resolution of rejecting their favorite bill; but they still flattered themselves, that his urgent necessities would influence his easy temper, and finally gain them the ascendant. The leaders came to parliament, attended not only by their servants, but by numerous bands of their partisans. The four city members in particular were followed by great multitudes, wearing ribbons, in which were woven these words, "No Popery! No slavery!" The king had his guards regularly mustered: his party likewise endeavored to make a show of their strength; and on the whole, the assembly at Oxford rather bore the appearance of a tumultuous Polish diet, than of a regular English parliament.
The king, who had hitherto employed the most gracious expressions to all his parliaments, particularly the two last, thought proper to address himself to the present in a more authoritative manner. He complained of the unwarrantable proceedings of the former house of commons; and said, that, as he would never use arbitrary government himself, neither would he ever suffer it in others. By calling, however, this parliament so soon, he had sufficiently shown, that no past irregularities could inspire him with a prejudice against those assemblies. He now afforded them, he added, yet another opportunity of providing for the public safety; and to all the world had given one evidence more, that on his part he had not neglected the duty incumbent on him.
The commons were not overawed by the magisterial air of the king's speech. They consisted almost entirely of the same members; they chose the same speaker; and they instantly fell into the same measures, the impeachment of Danby, the repeal of the persecuting statute of Elizabeth, the inquiry into the Popish plot, and the bill of exclusion. So violent were they on this last article, that no other expedient, however plausible, could so much as be hearkened to. Ernley, one of the king's ministers, proposed, that the duke should be banished, during life, five hundred miles from England and that on the king's demise the next heir should be constituted regent with regal power: yet even this expedient, which left the duke only the bare title of king, could not, though seconded by Sir Thomas Lyttleton and Sir Thomas Mompesson, obtain the attention of the house. The past disappointments of the country party, and the opposition made by the court, had only rendered them more united, more haughty, and more determined. No method but their own, of excluding the duke, could give them any satisfaction.
There was one Fitzharris, an Irish Catholic, who had insinuated himself into the duchess of Portsmouth's acquaintance, and had been very busy in conveying to her intelligence of any libel written by the country party, or of any designs entertained against her or against the court. For services of this kind, and perhaps too from a regard to his father. Sil Edward Fitzharris, who had been an eminent royalist, he had received from the king a present of two hundred and fifty pounds. This man met with one Everard, a Scotchman, a spy of the exclusionists, and an informer concerning the Popish plot; and he engaged him to write a libel against the king, the duke, and the whole administration. What Fitzharris's intentions were, cannot well be ascertained: it is probable, as he afterwards asserted, that he meant to carry this libel to his patron, the duchess, and to make a merit of the discovery. Everard, who suspected some other design, and who was well pleased on his side to have the merit of a discovery with his patrons, resolved to betray his friend: he posted Sir William Waller, a noted justice of peace, and two persons more, behind the hangings, and gave them an opportunity of seeing and hearing the whole transaction. The libel, sketched out by Fitzharris, and executed partly by him, partly by Everard, was the most furious, indecent, and outrageous performance imaginable, and such as was fitter to hurt than serve any party which should be so imprudent as to adopt it. Waller carried the intelligence to the king, and obtained a warrant for committing Fitzharris, who happened at that very time to have a copy of the libel in his pocket. Finding himself now delivered over to the law, he resolved to pay court to the popular party, who were alone able to protect him, and by whom he observed almost all trials to be governed and directed. He affirmed, that he had been employed by the court to write the libel, in order to throw the odium of it on the exclusionists: but this account, which was within the bounds of credibility, he disgraced by circumstances which are altogether absurd and improbable. The intention of the ministers, he said, was to send about copies to all the heads of the country party; and the moment they received them, they were to be arrested, and a conspiracy to be imputed to them. That he might merit favor by still more important intelligence, he commenced a discoverer of the great Popish plot; and he failed not to confirm all the tremendous circumstances, insisted on by his predecessors. He said, that the second Dutch war was entered into with a view of extirpating the Protestant religion, both abroad and at home; that Father Parry, a Jesuit, on the disappointment by the peace, told him, that the Catholics resolved to murder the king, and had even engaged the queen in that design; that the envoy of Medena offered him two thousand pounds to kill the king, and upon his refusal the envoy said, that the duchess of Mazarine, who was as expert at poisoning as her sister, the Countess of Soissons, would, with a little phial, execute that design; that upon the king's death, the army in Flanders was to come over and massacre the Protestants; that money was raised in Italy for recruits and supplies, and there should be no more parliaments; and that the Duke was privy to this whole plan, and had even entered into the design of Godfrey's murder, which was executed in the manner related by France.
The popular leaders had all along been very desirous of having an accusation against the Duke; and though Oates and Bedloe, in their first evidence, had not dared to go so far, both Dugdale and Dangerfield had afterwards been encouraged to supply so material a defect, by comprehending him in the conspiracy. The commons, therefore, finding that Fitzharris was also willing to serve this purpose, were not ashamed to adopt his evidence, and resolved for that end, to save him from the destruction with which he was at present threatened. The king had removed him from the city prison, where he was exposed to be tampered with by the exclusionists; had sent him to the Tower; and had ordered him to be prosecuted by an indictment at common law. In order to prevent his trial and execution, an impeachment was voted by the commons against him, and sent up to the lords. That they might show the greater contempt of the court, they ordered, by way of derision, that the impeachment should be carried up by Secretary Jenkins; who was so provoked by the intended affront, that he at first refused obedience; though afterwards, being threatened with commitment, he was induced to comply. The lords voted to remit the affair to the ordinary courts of justice, before whom, as the attorney-general informed them, it was already determined to try Fitzharris. The commons maintained that the peers were obliged to receive every impeachment from the commons; and this indeed seems to have been the first instance of their refusal: they therefore voted, that the lords, in rejecting their impeachment, had denied justice, and had violated the constitution of parliament. They also declared, that whatever inferior court should proceed against Fitzharris, or any one that lay under impeachment, would be guilty of a high breach of privilege. Great heats were likely to ensue; and as the king saw no appearance of any better temper in the commons, he gladly laid hold of the opportunity afforded by a quarrel between the two houses, and he proceeded to a dissolution of the parliament. The secret was so well kept, that the commons had no intimation of it till the black rod came to their door, and summoned them to attend the king at the house of peers.
This vigorous measure, though it might have been foreseen, excited such astonishment in the country party, as deprived them of all spirit, and reduced them to absolute despair. They were sensible, though too late, that the king had finally taken his resolution, and was determined to endure any extremity rather than submit to those terms which they had resolved to impose upon him. They found that he had patiently waited till affairs should come to full maturity; and having now engaged a national party on his side, had boldly set his enemies at defiance. No parliament, they knew, would be summoned for some years; and during that long interval, the court, though perhaps at the head of an inferior party, yet being possessed of all authority, would have every advantage over a body dispersed and disunited. These reflections crowded upon every one; and all the exclusionists were terrified, lest Charles should follow the blow by some action more violent, and immediately take vengeance on them for their long and obstinate opposition to his measures. The king on his part was no less apprehensive, lest despair might prompt them to have recourse to force, and make some sudden attempt upon his person. Both parties therefore hurried from Oxford; and in an instant that city, so crowded and busy, was left in its usual emptiness and tranquillity.
The court party gathered force from the dispersion and astonishment of their antagonists, and adhered more firmly to the king, whose resolutions, they now saw, could be entirely depended on. The violences of the exclusionists were every where exclaimed against and aggravated; and even the reality of the plot, that great engine of their authority, was openly called in question*[**missing period] The clergy especially were busy in this great revolution; and being moved, partly by their own fears partly by the insinuations of the court, they represented all their antagonists as sectaries and republicans, and rejoiced in escaping those perils which they believed to have been hanging over them. Principles the most opposite to civil liberty were every where enforced from the pulpit, and adopted in numerous addresses; where the king was flattered in his present measures, and congratulated on his escape from parliaments. Could words have been depended on, the nation appeared to be running fast into voluntary servitude, and seemed even ambitious of resigning into the king's hands all the privileges transmitted to them, through so many ages, by their gallant ancestors.
But Charles had sagacity enough to distinguish between men's real internal sentiments, and the language which zeal and opposition to a contrary faction may sometimes extort from them. Notwithstanding all these professions of duty and obedience, he was resolved not to trust, for a long time, the people with a new election, but to depend entirely on his own economy for alleviating those necessities under which he labored. Great retrenchments were made in the household: even his favorite navy was neglected: Tangiers, though it had cost great sums of money, was a few years after abandoned and demolished. The mole was entirely destroyed; and the garrison, being brought over to England, served to augment that small army which the king relied on as the solid basis of his authority. It had been happy for the nation, had Charles used his victory with justice and moderation equal to the prudence and dexterity with which he obtained it.
The first step taken by the court was the trial of Fitzharris. Doubts were raised by the jury with regard to their power of trying him, after the concluding vote of the commons: but the judges took upon them to decide the question in the affirmative, and the jury were obliged to proceed. The writing of the libel was clearly proved upon Fitzharris: the only question was with regard to his intentions. He asserted, that he was a spy of the court, and had accordingly carried the libel to the duchess of Portsmouth; and he was desirous that the jury should, in this transaction, consider him as a cheat, not as a traitor. He failed, however, somewhat in the proof; and was brought in guilty of treason by the jury.
Finding himself entirely in the hands of the king, he now retracted all his former impostures with regard to the popish plot, and even endeavored to atone for them by new impostures against the country party. He affirmed, that these fictions had been extorted from him by the suggestions and artifices of Treby, the recorder, and of Bethel and Cornish, the two sheriffs: this account he persisted in even at his execution; and though men knew that nothing could be depended on which came from one so corrupt, and so lost to all sense of honor, yet were they inclined, from his perseverance, to rely somewhat more on his veracity in these last asseverations. But it appears that his wife had some connections with Mrs. Wall, the favorite maid of the duchess of Portsmouth; and Fitzharris hoped, if he persisted in a story agreeable to the court, that some favor might, on that account, be shown to his family.
It is amusing to reflect on the several lights in which this story has been represented by the opposite factions. The country party affirmed, that Fitzharris had been employed by the court, in order to throw the odium of the libel on the exclusionists, and thereby give rise to a Protestant plot: the court party maintained, that the exclusionists had found out Fitzharris, a spy of the ministers, and had set him upon this undertaking, from an intention of loading the court with the imputation of such a design upon the exclusionists. Rather than acquit their antagonists, both sides were willing to adopt an account the most intricate and incredible. It was a strange situation in which the people at this time were placed; to be every day tortured with these perplexed stories, and inflamed with such dark suspicions against their fellow-citizens. This was no less than the fifteenth false plot, or sham plot, as they were then called, with which the court, it was imagined, had endeavored to load their adversaries.[*]
     * College's trial.
The country party had intended to make use of Fitzharris's evidence against the duke and the Catholics; and his execution was therefore a great mortification to them. But the king and his ministers were resolved not to be contented with so slender an advantage. They were determined to pursue the victory, and to employ against the exclusionists those very offensive arms, however unfair, which that party had laid up in store against their antagonists. The whole gang of spies, witnesses, informers, suborners, who had so long been supported and encouraged by the leading patriots, finding now that the king was entirely master, turned short upon their old patrons and offered their service to the ministers. To the disgrace of the court and of the age, they were received with hearty welcome, and their testimony, or rather perjury, made use of in order to commit legal murder upon the opposite party. With an air of triumph and derision, it was asked, "Are not these men good witnesses, who have established the Popish plot, upon whose testimony Stafford and so many Catholics have been executed, and whom you yourselves have so long celebrated as men of credit and veracity? You have admitted them into your bosom: they are best acquainted with your treasons: they are determined in another shape to serve their king and country: and you cannot complain, that the same measure which you meted to others, should now, by a righteous doom or vengeance, be measured out to you."
It is certain that the principle of retaliation may serve in some cases as a full apology, in others as an alleviation, for a conduct which would otherwise be exposed to great blame. But these infamous arts, which poison justice in its very source, and break all the bands of human society, are so detestable and dangerous, that no pretence of retaliation can be pleaded as an apology or even an alleviation of the crime incurred by them. On the contrary, the greater indignation the king and his ministers felt, when formerly exposed to the perjuries of abandoned men, the more reluctance should they now have discovered against employing the same instruments of vengeance upon their antagonists.
The first person on whom the ministers fell was one College, a London joiner, who had become extremely noted for his zeal against Popery, and was much connected with Shaftesbury and the leaders of the country party: for as they relied much upon the populace, men of College's rank and station were useful to them. College had been in Oxford armed with sword and pistol during the sitting of the parliament; and this was made the foundation of his crime. It was pretended that a conspiracy had been entered into to seize the king's person, and detain him in confinement, till he should make the concessions demanded of him. The sheriffs of London were in strong opposition to the court; and it was not strange, that the grand jury named by them rejected the bill against College. The prisoner was therefore sent to Oxford, where the treason was said to have been committed. Lord Norris, a courtier, was sheriff of the county; and the inhabitants were in general devoted to the court party. A jury was named, consisting entirely of royalists; and though they were men of credit and character, yet such was the factious rage which prevailed, that little justice could be expected by the prisoner. Some papers, containing hints and directions for his defence, were taken from him, as he was conducted to his trial; an iniquity which some pretended to justify by alleging, that a like violence had been practised against a prisoner daring the fury of the Popish plot. Such wild notes of retaliation were at that time propagated by the court party.
The witnesses produced against College were Dugdale, Turberville, Haynes, Smith; men who had before given evidence against the Catholics, and whom the jury, for that very reason, regarded as the most perjured villains. College, though beset with so many toils, and oppressed with so many iniquities, defended himself with spirit, courage, capacity, presence of mind; and he invalidated the evidence of the crown, by convincing arguments and undoubted testimony: yet did the jury, after half an hour's deliberation, bring in a verdict against him. The inhuman spectators received the verdict with a shout of applause: but the prisoner was nowise dismayed. At his execution, he maintained the same manly fortitude, and still denied the crime imputed to him. His whole conduct and demeanor prove him to have been a man led astray only by the fury of the times, and to have been governed by an honest but indiscreet zeal for his country and his religion.
Thus the two parties, actuated by mutual rage, but cooped up within the narrow limits of the law, levelled with poisoned daggers the most deadly blows against each other's breast, and buried in their factious divisions all regard to truth, honor and humanity.




CHAPTER LXIX.





CHARLES II.

1681
When the cabal entered into the mysterious alliance with France, they took care to remove the duke of Ormond from the committee of foreign affairs; and nothing tended further to increase the national jealousy entertained against the new measures, than to see a man of so much loyalty, as well as probity and honor, excluded from public councils. They had even so great interest with the king as to get Ormond recalled from the government of Ireland; and Lord Robarts, afterwards earl of Radnor, succeeded him in that important employment. Lord Berkeley succeeded Robarts; and the earl of Essex, Berkeley. At last, in the year 1677 Charles cast his eye again upon Ormond, whom he had so long neglected; and sent him over lieutenant to Ireland. "I have done every thing," said the king, "to disoblige that man; but it is not in my power to make him my enemy." Ormond, during his disgrace, had never joined the malecontents, nor encouraged those clamors which, with too much reason, but often for bad purposes, were raised against the king's measures. He even thought it his duty regularly, though with dignity, to pay his court at Whitehall; and to prove, that his attachments were founded on gratitude, inclination, and principle, not on any temporary advantages. All the expressions which dropped from him, while neglected by the court, showed more of good humor than any prevalence of spleen and indignation. "I can do you no service," said he to his friends; "I have only the power left by my applications to do you some hurt." When Colonel Cary Dillon solicited him to second his pretensions for an office, and urged that he had no friends but God and his grace, "Alas! poor Cary," replied the duke, "I pity thee: thou couldst not have two friends that possess less interest at court." "I am thrown by," said he, on another occasion, "like an old rusty clock; yet even that neglected machine, twice in twenty-four hours, points right."
On such occasions when Ormond, from decency, paid his attendance at court, the king, equally ashamed to show him civility and to neglect him, was abashed and confounded. "Sir," said the profligate Buckingham, "I wish to know whether it be the duke of Ormond that is out of favor with your majesty, or your majesty with the duke of Ormond; for of the two, you seem the most out of countenance."
When Charles found it his interest to show favor to the old royalists, and to the church of England, Ormond, who was much revered by that whole party, could not fail of recovering, together with the government of Ireland, his former credit and authority. His administration, when lord lieutenant corresponded to the general tenor of his life; and tended equally to promote the interests of prince and people, of Protestant and Catholic. Ever firmly attached to the established religion, he was able, even during those jealous times, to escape suspicion, though he gratified not vulgar prejudices by any persecution of the Popish party. He increased the revenue of Ireland to three hundred thousand pounds a year: he maintained a regular army of ten thousand men: he supported a well-disciplined militia of twenty thousand: and though the act of settlement had so far been infringed, that Catholics were permitted to live in corporate towns, they were guarded with so careful an eye, that the most timorous Protestant never apprehended any danger from them.
The chief object of Essex's ambition was to return to the station of lord lieutenant, where he had behaved with honor and integrity: Shaftesbury and Buckingham bore an extreme hatred to Ormond, both from personal and party considerations: the great aim of the anti-courtiers was to throw reflections on every part of the king's government. It could be no surprise, therefore, to the lord lieutenant to learn, that his administration was attacked in parliament, particularly by Shaftesbury; but he had the satisfaction, at the same time, to hear of the keen though polite defence made by his son, the generous Ossory. After justifying several particulars of Ormond's administration against that intriguing patriot, Ossory proceeded in the following words: "Having spoken of what the lord lieutenant has done, I presume with the same truth to tell your lordships what he has not done. He never advised the breaking of the triple league; he never advised the shutting up of the exchequer; he never advised the declaration for a toleration; he never advised the falling out with the Dutch and the joining with France: he was not the author of that most excellent position, Delenda est Carthago, that Holland, a Protestant country, should, contrary to the true interests of England, be totally destroyed. I beg that your lordships will be so just as to judge of my father and all men according to their actions and their counsels." These few sentences pronounced by a plain, gallant soldier, noted for probity, had a surprising effect upon the audience, and confounded all the rhetoric of his eloquent and factious adversary. The prince of Orange, who esteemed the former character as much as he despised the latter, could not forbear congratulating by letter the earl of Ossory on this new species of victory which he had obtained.
Ossory, though he ever kept at a distance from faction, was the most popular man in the kingdom; though he never made any compliance with the corrupt views of the court, was beloved and respected by the king. A universal grief appeared on his death, which happened about this time, and which the populace, as is usual wherever they are much affected, foolishly ascribed to poison. Ormond bore the loss with patience and dignity; though he ever retained a pleasing, however melancholy, sense of the signal merit of Ossory. "I would not exchange my dead son," said he, "for any living son in Christendom."
These particularities may appear a digression; but it is with pleasure, I own, that I relax myself for a moment in the contemplation of these humane and virtuous characters, amidst that scene of fury and faction, fraud and violence, in which at present our narration has unfortunately engaged us.
Besides the general interest of the country party to decry the conduct of all the king's ministers, the prudent and peaceable administration of Ormond was in a particular manner displeasing to them. In England, where the Catholics were scarcely one to a hundred, means had been found to excite a universal panic, on account of insurrections and even massacres projected by that sect; and it could not but seem strange that in Ireland, where they exceeded the Protestants six to one, there should no symptoms appear of any combination or conspiracy. Such an incident, when duly considered, might even in England shake the credit of the plot, and diminish the authority of those leaders who had so long, with such industry, inculcated the belief of it on the nation Rewards, therefore, were published in Ireland to any that would bring intelligence or become witnesses; and some profligates were sent over to that kingdom, with a commission to seek out evidence against the Catholics. Under pretence of searching for arms or papers, they broke into houses, and plundered them: they threw innocent men into prison, and took bribes for their release: and after all their diligence, it was with difficulty that that country, commonly fertile enough in witnesses, could furnish them with any fit for their purpose.
At last, one Fitzgerald appeared, followed by Ivey, Sanson, Dennis, Bourke, two Macnamaras, and some others. These men were immediately sent over to England; and though they possessed neither character sufficient to gain belief even for truth, nor sense to invent a credible falsehood, they were caressed, rewarded, supported, and recommended by the earl of Shaftesbury. Oliver Plunket, the titular primate of Ireland, a man of peaceable dispositions, was condemned and executed upon such testimony. And the Oxford parliament entered so far into the matter, as to vote that they were entirely satisfied in the reality of the horrid and damnable Irish plot. But such decisions, though at first regarded as infallible, had now lost much of their authority; and the public still remained somewhat indifferent and incredulous.
After the dissolution of the parliament, and the subsequent victory of the royalists, Shaftesbury's evidences, with Turberville, Smith, and others, addressed themselves to the ministers, and gave information of high treason against their former patron. It is sufficiently scandalous, that intelligence conveyed by such men should have been attended to; but there is some reason to think, that the court agents, nay, the ministers, nay, the king himself,[*] went further, and were active in endeavoring, though in vain, to find more reputable persons to support the blasted credit of the Irish witnesses.
     * See Captain Wilkinson's Narrative.
Shaftesbury was committed to prison, and his indictment was presented to the grand jury. The new sheriffs of London, Shute and Pilkington, were engaged as deeply as their predecessors in the country party; and they took care to name a jury devoted to the same cause; a precaution quite necessary, when it was scarcely possible to find men indifferent or attached to neither party. As far as swearing could go, the treason was clearly proved against Shaftesbury; or rather so clearly as to merit no kind of credit or attention. That veteran leader of a party, inured from his early youth to faction and intrigue, to cabals and conspiracies, was represented as opening, without reserve, his treasonable intentions to these obscure banditti, and throwing out such violent and outrageous reproaches upon the king, as none but men of low education, like themselves, could be supposed to employ. The draught of an association, it is true, against Popery and the duke, was found in Shaftesbury's cabinet; and dangerous inferences might be drawn from many clauses of that paper. But it did not appear, that it had been framed by Shaftesbury, or so much as approved by him. And as projects of an association had been proposed in parliament, it was very natural for this nobleman, or his correspondents, to be thinking of some plan which it might be proper to lay before that assembly. The grand jury, therefore, after weighing all these circumstances, rejected the indictment; and the people who attended the hall testified their joy by the loudest acclamations, which were echoed throughout the whole city.
About this time, a scheme of oppression was laid in Scotland after a manner still more flagrant, against a nobleman much less obnoxious than Shaftesbury; and as that country was reduced to a state of almost total subjection, the project had the good fortune to succeed.
The earl of Argyle, from his youth, had distinguished himself by his loyalty, and his attachment to the royal family. Though his father was head of the Covenanters, he himself refused to concur in any of their measures; and when a commission of colonel was given him by the convention of states, he forbore to act upon it till it should be ratified by the king. By his respectful behavior, as well as by his services, he made himself acceptable to Charles when that prince was in Scotland: and even after the battle of Worcester, all the misfortunes which attended the royal cause could not engage him to desert it. Under Middleton, he obstinately persevered to harass and infest the victorious English; and it was not till he received orders from that general, that he would submit to accept of a capitulation. Such jealousy of his loyal attachments was entertained by the commonwealth and protector, that a pretence was soon after fallen upon to commit him to prison; and his confinement was rigorously continued till the restoration. The king, sensible of his services, had remitted to him his father's forfeiture, and created him earl of Argyle; and when a most unjust sentence was passed upon him by the Scottish parliament, Charles had anew remitted it. In the subsequent part of this reign, Argyle behaved himself dutifully; and though he seemed not disposed to go all lengths with the court, he always appeared, even in his opposition, to be a man of mild dispositions and peaceable deportment.
A parliament was summoned at Edinburgh this summer, and the duke was appointed commissioner. Besides granting money to the king and voting the indefeasible right of succession, this parliament enacted a test, which all persons possessed of offices, civil, military, or ecclesiastical, were bound to take. In this test the king's supremacy was asserted, the covenant renounced, passive obedience assented to, and all obligations disclaimed of endeavoring any alteration in civil or ecclesiastical establishments. This was the state of the test, as proposed by the courtiers; but the country party proposed also to insert a clause, which could not with decency be refused, expressing the person's adherence to the Protestant religion. The whole was of an enormous length, considered as an oath; and what was worse, a confession of faith was there ratified, which had been imposed a little after the reformation, and which contained many articles altogether forgotten by the parliament and nation. Among others, the doctrine of resistance was inculcated; so that the test, being voted in a hurry, was found on examination to be a medley of contradiction and absurdity. Several persons, the most attached to the crown, scrupled to take it: the bishops and many of the clergy remonstrated: the earl of Queensberry refused to swear, except he might be allowed to add an explanation: and even the privy council thought it necessary to publish, for general satisfaction, a solution of some difficulties attending the test.
Though the courtiers could not reject the clause of adhering to the Protestant religion, they proposed, as a necessary mark of respect, that all princes of the blood should be exempted from taking the oath. This exception was zealously opposed by Argyle; who observed, that the sole danger to be dreaded for the Protestant religion must proceed from the perversion of the royal family. By insisting on such topics, he drew on himself the secret indignation of the duke, of which be soon felt the fatal consequences.
When Argyle took the test as a privy counsellor, he subjoined, in the duke's presence, an explanation, which he had beforehand communicated to that prince, and which he believed to have been approved by him. It was in these words "I have considered the test, and am very desirous of giving obedience as far as I can. I am confident that the parliament never intended to impose contradictory oaths: therefore I think no man can explain it but for himself. Accordingly, I take it as far as it is consistent with itself and the Protestant religion. And I do declare, that I mean not to bind myself, in my station, and in a lawful way, from wishing and endeavoring any alteration which I think to the advantage of church or state, and not repugnant to the Protestant religion and my loyalty: and this I understand as a part of my oath." The duke, as was natural, heard these words with great tranquillity: no one took the least offence: Argyle was admitted to sit that day in council: and it was impossible to imagine, that a capital offence had been committed, where occasion seemed not to have been given so much as for a frown or reprimand.
Argyle was much surprised, a few days after, to find that a warrant was issued for committing him to prison; that he was indicted for high treason, leasing-making, and perjury; and that from these innocent words an accusation was extracted, by which he was to forfeit honors, life, and fortune. It is needless to enter into particulars where the iniquity of the whole is so apparent. Though the sword of justice was displayed, even her semblance was not put on; and the forms alone of law were preserved, in order to sanctify, or rather aggravate, the oppression. Of five judges, three did not scruple to find the guilt of treason and leasing-making to have been incurred by the prisoner: a jury of fifteen noblemen gave verdict against him: and the king, being consulted, ordered the sentence to be pronounced, but the execution of it to be suspended till further orders.
It was pretended by the duke and his creatures, that Argyle's life and fortune were not in any danger, and that the sole reason for pushing the trial to such extremities against him was, in order to make him renounce some hereditary jurisdictions, which gave his family a dangerous authority in the highlands, and obstructed the course of public justice. But allowing the end to be justifiable, the means were infamous; and such as were incompatible, not only with a free, but a civilized government. Argyle had therefore no reason to trust any longer to the justice or mercy of such enemies: he made his escape from prison; and till he should find a ship for Holland he concealed himself during some time in London. The king heard of his lurking-place, but would not allow him to be arrested.[*] All the parts, however, of his sentence, as far as the government in Scotland had power, were rigorously executed; his estate confiscated, his arms reversed and torn.
     * Burnet, vol. i. p. 522.
It would seem, that the genuine passion for liberty was at this time totally extinguished in Scotland: there was only preserved a spirit of mutiny and sedition, encouraged by a mistaken zeal for religion. Cameron and Cargil, two furious preachers, went a step beyond all their brethren: they publicly excommunicated the king for his tyranny and his breach of the covenant, and they renounced all allegiance to him. Cameron was killed by the troops in an action at Airs Moss: Cargil was taken and hanged. Many of their followers were tried and convicted. Their lives were offered them if they would say, "God save the king:" but they would only agree to pray for his repentance. This obstinacy was much insisted on as an apology for the rigors of the administration: but if duly considered, it will rather afford reason for a contrary inference. Such unhappy delusion is an object rather of commiseration than of anger: and it is almost impossible that men could have been carried to such a degree of frenzy, unless provoked by a long train of violence and oppression.
1682
As the king was master in England, and no longer dreaded the clamors of the country party, he permitted the duke to pay him a visit; and was soon after prevailed on to allow of his return to England, and of his bearing a part in the administration. The duke went to Scotland, in order to bring up his family, and settle the government of that country; and he chose to take his passage by sea. The ship struck on a sand-bank, and was lost: the duke escaped in the barge; and it is pretended that, while many persons of rank and quality were drowned, and among the rest Hyde, his brother-in-law, he was very careful to save several of his dogs and priests; for these two species of favorites are coupled together by some writers. It has likewise been asserted, that the barge might safely have held more persons, and that some who swam to it were thrust off, and even their hands cut, in order to disengage them. But every action of every eminent person, during this period is so liable to be misinterpreted and misrepresented by faction, that we ought to be very cautious in passing judgment on too slight evidence. It is remarkable, that the sailors on board the ship, though they felt themselves sinking, and saw inevitable death before their eyes, yet, as soon as they observed the duke to be in safety, gave a loud shout, in testimony of their joy and satisfaction.
The duke, during his abode in Scotland, had behaved with great civility towards the gentry and nobility; and by his courtly demeanor had much won upon their affections: but his treatment of the enthusiasts was still somewhat rigorous; and in many instances he appeared to be a man of a severe, if not an unrelenting temper. It is even asserted, that he sometimes assisted at the torture of criminals, and looked on with tranquillity, as if he were considering some curious experiment.[*] He left the authority in the hands of the earl of Aberdeen, chancellor, and the earl of Queensberry, treasurer: a very arbitrary spirit appeared in their administration.
     * Burnet, vol. i. p. 583. Wodrow, vol. ii. p. 169. This last
     author, who is much the better authority, mentions only one
     instance, that of Spreul, which seems to have been an
     extraordinary one.
A gentleman of the name of Weir was tried, because he had kept company with one who had been in rebellion; though that person had never been marked out by process or proclamation. The inferences upon which Weir was condemned, (for a prosecution by the government and a condemnation were in Scotland the same thing,) hung upon each other after the following manner. No man, it was supposed, could have been in a rebellion without being exposed to suspicion in the neighborhood: if the neighborhood had suspected him, it was to be presumed that each individual had likewise heard of the grounds of suspicion: every man was bound to declare to the government his suspicion against every man, and to avoid the company of traitors: to fail in this duty was to participate in the treason: the conclusion, on the whole, was, You have conversed with a rebel; therefore you are yourself a rebel. A reprieve was with some difficulty procured for Weir; but it was seriously determined to make use of the precedent. Courts of judicature were erected in the southern and western counties, and a strict inquisition carried on against this new species of crime. The term of three years was appointed for the continuance of these courts; after which an indemnity was promised. Whoever would take the test, was instantly entitled to the benefit of this indemnity. The Presbyterians, alarmed with such tyranny, from which no man could deem himself safe, began to think of leaving the country; and some of their agents were sent to England, in order to treat with the proprietors of Carolina for a settlement in that colony. Any condition seemed preferable to the living in their native country, which, by the prevalence of persecution and violence, was become as insecure to them as a den of robbers.
Above two thousand persons were outlawed on pretence of their conversing or having intercourse with rebels,[*] and they were continually hunted in their retreat by soldiers, spies, informers, and oppressive magistrates. It was usual to put insnaring questions to people living peaceably in their own houses; such as, "Will you renounce the covenant? Do you esteem the rising at Bothwel to be rebellion? Was the killing of the archbishop of St. Andrews murder?" And when the poor deluded creatures refused to answer, capital punishments were inflicted on them.[**] Even women were brought to the gibbet for this pretended crime. A number of fugitives, rendered frantic by oppression, had published a seditious declaration, renouncing allegiance to Charles Stuart, whom they called, as they, for their parts, had indeed some reason to esteem him, a tyrant. This incident afforded the privy council a pretence for an unusual kind of oppression. Soldiers were dispersed over the country, and power was given to all commission officers, even the lowest, to oblige every one they met with to abjure the declaration; and, upon refusal, instantly, without further questions, to shoot the delinquent.[***] It were endless, as well as shocking, to enumerate all the instances of persecution, or, in other words, of absurd tyranny, which at that time prevailed in Scotland. One of them, however, is so singular, that I cannot forbear relating it.
Three women were seized;[****] and the customary oath was tendered to them, by which they were to abjure the seditious declaration above mentioned.
     * Wodrow vol. ii. appendix, 94.

     ** Wodrow, vol. ii. passim.

     *** Wodrow p. 434.

     **** Wodrow, p. 505.
They all refused, and were condemned to a capital punishment by drowning. One of them was an elderly woman: the other two were young; one eighteen years of age, the other only thirteen. Even these violent persecutors were ashamed to put the youngest to death: but the other two were conducted to the place of execution, and were tied to stakes within the sea mark at low water; a contrivance which rendered their death lingering and dreadful. The elderly woman was placed farthest in, and by the rising of the waters was first suffocated. The younger, partly terrified with the view of her companion's death, partly subdued by the entreaty of her friends, was prevailed with to say, "God save the king." Immediately the spectators called out, that she had submitted; and she was loosened from the stake. Major Winram, the officer who guarded the execution, again required her to sign the abjuration; and upon her refusal, he ordered her instantly to be plunged in the water, where she was suffocated.
The severity of the administration in Scotland is in part to be ascribed to the duke's temper, to whom the king had consigned over the government of that country, and who gave such attention to affairs as to allow nothing of moment to escape him. Even the government of England, from the same cause, began to be somewhat infected with the same severity. The duke's credit was great at court. Though neither so much beloved nor esteemed as the king, he was more dreaded; and thence an attendance more exact, as well as a submission more obsequious, was paid to him. The saying of Waller was remarked, that Charles, in spite to the parliament, who had determined that the duke should not succeed him, was resolved that he should reign even in his lifetime.
The king, however, who loved to maintain a balance in his councils, still supported Halifax, whom he created a marquis, and made privy seal; though ever in opposition to the duke. This man, who possessed the finest genius and most extensive capacity of all employed in public affairs during the present reign, affected a species of neutrality between the parties and was esteemed the head of that small body known by the denomination of "trimmers." This conduct, which is more natural to men of integrity than of ambition, could not, however, procure him the former character; and he was always, with reason, regarded as an intriguer rather than a patriot. Sunderland, who had promoted the exclusion bill, and who had been displaced on that account, was again, with the duke's consent, brought into the administration. The extreme duplicity, at least variableness, of this man's conduct, through the whole course of his life, made it be suspected, that it was by the king's direction he had mixed with the country party. Hyde, created earl of Rochester, was first commissioner of the treasury, and was entirely in the duke's interests.
The king himself was obliged to act as the head of a party; a disagreeable situation for a prince, and always the source of much injustice and oppression. He knew how obnoxious the dissenters were to the church; and he resolved, contrary to the maxims of toleration, which he had hitherto supported in England, to gratify his friends by the persecution of his enemies. The laws against conventicles were now rigorously executed; an expedient which, the king knew, would diminish neither the numbers nor influence of the nonconformists; and which is therefore to be deemed more the result of passion than of policy. Scarcely any persecution serves the intended purpose but such as amounts to a total extermination.
Though the king's authority made everyday great advances, it still met with considerable obstacles, chiefly from the city, which was entirely in the hands of the malecontents. The juries, in particular, named by the sheriffs, were not likely to be impartial judges between the crown and the people; and after the experiments already made in the case of Shaftesbury, and that of College, treason, it was apprehended, might there be committed with impunity. There could not, therefore, be a more important service to the court than to put affairs upon a different footing. Sir John Moore, the mayor, was gained by Secretary Jenkins, and encouraged to insist upon the customary privilege of his office, of naming one of the sheriffs. Accordingly, when the time of election came, he drank to North, a Levant merchant, who accepted of that expensive office. The country party said, that, being lately returned from Turkey, he was, on account of his recent experience, better qualified to serve the purposes of the court. A poll was opened for the election of another sheriff; and here began the contest. The majority of the common hall, headed by the two sheriffs of the former year, refused to acknowledge the mayor's right of appointing one sheriff, but insisted that both must be elected by the livery. Papillon and Dubois were the persons whom the country party agreed to elect: Box was pointed out by the courtiers. The poll was opened; but as the mayor would not allow the election to proceed for two vacancies, the sheriffs and he separated, and each carried on the poll apart. The country party, who voted with the sheriffs for Papillon and Dubois, were much more numerous than those who voted with the mayor for Box: but as the mayor insisted chat his poll was the only legal one, he declared Box to be duly elected. All difficulties, however, were not surmounted. Box, apprehensive of the consequences which might attend so dubious an election, fined off; and the mayor found it necessary to proceed to a new choice. When the matter was proposed to the common hall, a loud cry was raised, "No election! No election!" The two sheriffs already elected, Papillon and Dubois, were insisted on as the only legal magistrates. But as the mayor still maintained, that Box alone had been legally chosen, and that it was now requisite to supply his place, he opened books anew; and during the tumult and confusion of the citizens, a few of the mayor's partisans elected Rich, unknown to and unheeded by the rest of the livery. North and Rich were accordingly sworn in sheriffs for the ensuing year; but it was necessary to send a guard of the train bands to protect them in entering upon their office. A new mayor of the court party was soon after chosen, by means, as is pretended, still more violent and irregular.
Thus the country party were dislodged from their stronghold in the city; where, ever since the commencement of factions in the English government, they had, without interruption, almost without molestation, maintained a superiority. It had been happy, had the partialities, hitherto objected to juries, been corrected, without giving place to partialities of an opposite kind: but in the present distracted state of the nation, an equitable neutrality was almost impossible to be attained. The court and church party, who were now named on juries, made justice subservient to their factious views; and the king had a prospect of obtaining full revenge on his enemies. It was not long before the effects of these alterations were seen. When it was first reported that the duke intended to leave Scotland, Pilkington, at that time sheriff, a very violent man, had broken out in these terms: "He has already burned the city; and he is now coming to cut all our throats!" For these scandalous expressions, the duke sued Pilkington; and enormous damages, to the amount of one hundred thousand pounds, were decreed him. By the law of England, ratified in the Great Charter, no fine or damages ought to extend to the total ruin of a criminal. Sir Patience Ward, formerly mayor, who gave evidence for Pilkington, was sued for perjury, and condemned to the pillory; a severe sentence, and sufficient to deter all witnesses from appearing in favor of those who were prosecuted by the court.
1683
But though the crown had obtained so great a victory in the city, it was not quite decisive; and the contest might be renewed every year at the election of magistrates. An important project, therefore, was formed, not only to make the king master of the city, but by that precedent to gain him uncontrolled influence in all the corporations of England, and thereby give the greatest wound to the legal constitution, which the most powerful and most arbitrary monarchs had ever yet been able to inflict. A writ of quo warranto was issued against the city; that is, an inquiry into the validity of its charter. It was pretended, that the city had forfeited all its privileges, and ought to be declared no longer a corporation, on account of two offences which the court of aldermen and common council had committed. After the great fire in 1666, all the markets had been rebuilt, and had been fitted up with many conveniencies; and, in order to defray the expense, the magistrates had imposed a small toll on goods brought to market: in the year 1679, they had addressed the king against the prorogation of parliament, and had employed the following terms: "Your petitioners are greatly surprised at the late prorogation, whereby the prosecution of the public justice of the kingdom, and the making of necessary provisions for the preservation of your majesty and your Protestant subjects, have received interruption." These words were pretended to contain a scandalous reflection on the king and his measures. The cause of the city was defended against the attorney and solicitor-generals by Treby and Pollexfen.
These last pleaded, that, since the foundation of the monarchy, no corporation had ever yet been exposed to forfeiture, and the thing itself implied an absurdity: that a corporation, as such, was incapable of all crime or offence; and none were answerable for any iniquity but the persons themselves who committed it: that the members, in choosing magistrates, had intrusted them with legal powers only; and where the magistrates exceeded these powers, their acts were void, but could never involve the body itself in any criminal imputation: that such had ever been the practice of England, except at the reformation, when the monasteries were abolished; but this was an extraordinary case; and it was even thought necessary to ratify afterwards the whole transaction by act of parliament: that corporate bodies, framed for public good, and calculated for perpetual duration, ought not to be annihilated for the temporary faults of their members, who might themselves, without hurting the community, be questioned for their offences: that even a private estate, if entailed, could not be forfeited to the crown on account of treason committed by the tenant for life; but, upon his demise, went to the next in remainder: that the offences objected to the city, far from deserving so severe a punishment, were not ever worthy of the smallest reprehension: that all corporations were invested with the power of making by-laws; and the smallest borough in England had ever been allowed to carry the exercise of this power further than London had done in the instance complained of: that the city having, at its own expense, repaired the markets, which were built too on its own estate, might as lawfully claim a small recompense from such as brought commodities thither, as a man might require rent for a house of which he was possessed: that those who disliked the condition might abstain from the market; and whoever paid, had done it voluntarily: that it was an avowed right of the subjects to petition; nor had the city in their address abused this privilege, that the king himself had often declared, the parliament often it is evident, could not be fully prosecuted but in a parliamentary manner: that the impeachment of the Popish lords was certainly obstructed by the frequent prorogations; as was also the enacting of necessary laws, and providing for the defence of the nation: that the loyalty of the city, no less than their regard to self-preservation, might prompt them to frame the petition; since it was acknowledged, that the king's life was every moment exposed to the most imminent danger from the Popish conspiracy: that the city had not accused the king of obstructing justice, much less of having any such intention; since it was allowed, that evil counsellors were alone answerable for all the pernicious consequences of any measure: and that it was unaccountable, that two public deeds, which had not, during so long a time, subjected to any, even the smallest penalty, the persons guilty of them, should now be punished so severely upon the corporation, which always was, and always must be innocent.
It is evident, that those who would apologize for the measures of the court, must, in this case, found their arguments, not on law, but reasons of state. The judges, therefore, who condemned the city, are inexcusable; since the sole object of their determinations must ever be the pure principles of justice and equity. But the office of judge was at that time held during pleasure; and it was impossible that any cause, where the court bent its force, could ever be carried against it. After sentence was pronounced, the city applied in an humble manner to the king; and he agreed to restore their charter, but in return they were obliged to submit to the following regulations that no mayor, sheriff, recorder, common serjeant, town clerk, or coroner, should be admitted to the exercise of his office without his majesty's approbation: that if the king disapprove twice of the mayor or sheriffs elected, he may by commission appoint these magistrates: that the mayor and court of aldermen may, with his majesty's leave, displace any magistrate: and that no alderman, in case of a vacancy, shall be elected without consent of the court of aldermen, who, if they disapprove twice of the choice, may fill the vacancy.
All the corporations in England, having the example of London before their eyes, saw how vain it would prove to contend with the court, and were, most of them, successively induced to surrender their charters into the king's hands. Considerable sums were exacted for restoring the charters; and all offices of power and profit were left at the disposal of the crown. It seems strange that the independent royalists, who never meant to make the crown absolute, should yet be so elated with the victory obtained over their adversaries, as to approve of a precedent which left no national privileges in security, but enabled the king, under like pretences, and by means of like instruments, to recall anew all those charters which at present he was pleased to grant. And every friend to liberty must allow, that the nation, whose constitution was thus broken in the shock of faction, had a right, by every prudent expedient, to recover that security of which it was so unhappily bereaved.
While so great a faction adhered to the crown, it is apparent that resistance, however justifiable, could never be prudent; and all wise men saw no expedient but peaceably to submit to the present grievances. There was, however, a party of malecontents, so turbulent in their disposition, that, even before this last iniquity, which laid the whole constitution at the mercy of the king, they had meditated plans of resistance; at a time when it could be as little justifiable as prudent. In the spring of 1681,[*] a little before the Oxford parliament, the king was seized with a fit of sickness at Windsor, which gave great alarm to the public.
     * Lord Grey's Secret History of the Rye-house Plot. This is
     the most full and authentic account of all these
     transactions; but is in the main confirmed by Bishop Sprat,
     and even Burnet, as well as by the trials and dying
     confessions of the conspirators; so that nothing can be more
     unaccountable than that any one should pretend that this
     conspiracy was an imposture, like the Popish plot.
     Monmouth's declaration, published in the next reign,
     confesses a consult for extraordinary remedies.
The duke of Monmouth, Lord Russel, Lord Grey, instigated by the restless Shaftesbury, had agreed, in case the king's sickness should prove mortal, to rise in arms, and to oppose the succession of the duke. Charles recovered; but these dangerous projects were not laid aside. The same conspirators, together with Essex and Salisbury were determined to continue the Oxford parliament, after the king, as was daily expected, should dissolve it; and they engaged some leaders among the commons in the same desperate measure. They went so far as to detain several lords in the house, under pretence of signing a protest against rejecting Fitzharris's impeachment; but hearing that the commons had broken up in great consternation, they were likewise obliged at last to separate. Shaftesbury's imprisonment and trial put an end for some time to these machinations; and it was not till the new sheriffs were imposed on the city that they were revived. The leaders of the country party began then to apprehend themselves in imminent danger; and they were well pleased to find that the citizens were struck with the same terror, and were thence inclined to undertake the most perilous enterprises. Besides the city, the gentry and nobility in several counties of England were solicited to rise in arms. Monmouth engaged the earl of Macclesfield, Lord Brandon, Sir Gilbert Gerrard, and other gentlemen in Cheshire; Lord Russel fixed a correspondence with Sir William Courtney, Sir Francis Rowles, Sir Francis Drake, who promised to raise the west; and Trenchard in particular, who had interest in the disaffected town of Taunton, assured him of considerable assistance from that neighborhood. Shaftesbury and his emissary Ferguson, an Independent clergyman and a restless plotter, managed the correspondence in the city, upon which the confederates chiefly relied. The whole train was ready to take fire; but was prevented by the caution of Lord Russel, who induced Monmouth to delay the enterprise. Shaftesbury, in the mean time, was so much affected with the sense of his danger, that he had left his house, and secretly lurked in the city; meditating all those desperate schemes which disappointed revenge and ambition could inspire. He exclaimed loudly against delay, and represented to his confederates, that having gone so far, and intrusted the secret into so many hands, there was no safety for them but in a bold and desperate prosecution of their purpose. The projects were therefore renewed: meetings of the conspirators were appointed in different houses, particularly in Shephard's, an eminent wine-merchant in the city: the plan of an insurrection was laid in London, Cheshire, Devonshire, and Bristol: the several places of rendezvous in the city were concerted; and all the operations fixed: the state of the guards was even viewed by Monmouth and Armstrong, and an attack on them pronounced practicable: a declaration to justify the enterprise to the public was read and agreed to: and every circumstance seemed now to render an insurrection unavoidable; when a new delay was procured by Trenchard, who declared that the rising in the west could not for some weeks be in sufficient forwardness.
Shaftesbury was enraged at these perpetual cautions and delays in an enterprise which, he thought, nothing but courage and celerity could render effectual: he threatened to commence the insurrection with his friends in the city alone; and he boasted, that he had ten thousand brisk boys, as he called them, who, on a motion of his finger, were ready to fly to arms. Monmouth*[**missing comma] Russel, and the other conspirators, were during some time in apprehensions lest despair should push him into some dangerous measure; when they heard that, after a long combat between fear and rage, he had at last abandoned all hopes of success, and had retired into Holland. He lived in a private manner at Amsterdam; and for greater security desired to be admitted into the magistracy of that city: but his former violent counsels against the Dutch commonwealth were remembered; and all applications from him were rejected. He died soon after, and his end gave neither sorrow to his friends nor joy to his enemies. His furious temper, notwithstanding his capacity, had done great injury to the cause in which he was engaged. The violences and iniquities which he suggested and encouraged, were greater than even faction itself could endure; and men could not forbear sometimes recollecting, that the same person who had become so zealous a patriot, was once a most prostitute courtier. It is remarkable, that this man, whose principles and conduct were in all other respects so exceptionable, proved an excellent chancellor; and that all his decrees, while he possessed that high office, were equally remarkable for justness and for integrity: so difficult is it to find in history a character either wholly bad or perfectly good; though the prejudices of party make writers run easily into the extremes both of panegyric and of satire.
After Shaftesbury's departure, the conspirators found some difficulty in renewing the correspondence with the city malecontents, who had been accustomed to depend solely on that nobleman. Their common hopes, however, as well as common fears, made them at last have recourse to each other; and a regular project of an insurrection was again formed. A council of six was erected, consisting of Monmouth, Russel, Essex, Howard, Algernon Sidney, and John Hambden, grandson of the great parliamentary leader. These men entered into an agreement with Argyle and the Scottish malecontents; who engaged, that, upon the payment of ten thousand pounds for the purchase of arms in Holland, they would bring the Covenanters into the field. Insurrections likewise were anew projected in Cheshire and the west, as well as in the city; and some meetings of the leaders were held, in order to reduce these projects into form. The conspirators differed extremely in their views. Sidney was passionate for a commonwealth. Essex had embraced the same project. But Monmouth had entertained hopes of acquiring the crown for himself. Russel, as well as Hambden, was much attached to the ancient constitution, and intended only the exclusion of the duke and the redress of grievances. Lord Howard was a man of no principle, and was ready to embrace any party which his immediate interest should recommend to him. But notwithstanding this difference of characters and of views, their common hatred of the duke and the present administration united them in one party; and the dangerous experiment of an insurrection was fully resolved on.
While these schemes were concerting among the leaders, there was an inferior order of conspirators, who held frequent meetings, and, together with the insurrection, carried on projects quite unknown to Monmouth and the cabal of six*[**missing period] Among these men were Colonel Rumsey, an old republican officer, who had distinguished himself in Portugal, and had been recommended to the king by Mareschal Schomberg; Lieutenant-Colonel Walcot, likewise a republican officer; Goodenough, under-sheriff of London, a zealous and noted party-man; West, Tyley, Norton, Ayloffe, lawyers; Ferguson, Rouse, Hone, Keiling, Holloway, Bourne, Lee, Rumbald. Most of these last were merchants or tradesmen; and the only persons of this confederacy who had access to the leaders of the party, were Rumsey and Ferguson. When these men met together, they indulged themselves in the most desperate and most criminal discourse; they frequently mentioned the assassination of the king and the duke, to which they had given the familiar appellation of lopping: they even went so far as to have thought of a scheme for that purpose. Rumbald, who was a maltster, possessed a farm, called the Ryehouse, which lay on the road to Newmarket, whither the king commonly went once a year, for the diversion of the races. A plan of this farm had been laid before some of the conspirators by Rumbald, who showed them how easy it would be, by overturning a cart, to stop at that place the king's coach; while they might fire upon him from the hedges, and be enabled afterwards, through by-lanes and across the fields, to make their escape. But though the plausibility of this scheme gave great pleasure to the conspirators, no concerted design was as yet laid, nor any men, horses, or arms provided: the whole was little more than loose discourse, the overflowings of their zeal and rancor. The house in which the king lived at Newmarket, took fire accidentally; and he was obliged to leave that place eight days sooner than he intended. To this circumstance his safety was afterwards ascribed, when the conspiracy was detected; and the court party could not sufficiently admire the wise dispensations of Providence. It is, indeed, certain, that as the king had thus unexpectedly left Newmarket, he was worse attended than usual; and Rumbald informed his confederates with regret what a fine opportunity was thus unfortunately lost.
Among the conspirators I have mentioned Keiling, a salter in London. This man had been engaged in a bold measure, of arresting the mayor of London, at the suit of Papillon and Dubois, the outed sheriffs; and being liable to prosecution for that action, he thought it safest to purchase a pardon by revealing the conspiracy, in which he was deeply concerned. He brought to Secretary Jenkins intelligence of the assassination plot; but as he was a single evidence, the secretary, whom many false plots had probably rendered incredulous, scrupled to issue warrants for the commitment of so great a number of persons. Keiling, therefore, in order to fortify his testimony, engaged his brother in treasonable discourse with Goodenough, one of the conspirators; and Jenkins began now to give more attention to the intelligence. The conspirators had got some hint of the danger in which they were involved, and all of them concealed themselves. One person alone, of the name of Barber, an instrument-maker, was seized; and as his confession concurred in many particulars with Keiling's information, the affair seemed to be put out of all question; and a more diligent search was every where made after the conspirators.
West, the lawyer, and Colonel Rumsey, finding the perils to which they were exposed in endeavoring to escape, resolved to save their own lives at the expense of their companions; and they surrendered themselves with an intention of becoming evidence. West could do little more than confirm the testimony of Keiling with regard to the assassination plot; but Rumsey, besides giving additional confirmation of the same design, was at last, though with much difficulty, led to reveal the meetings at Shephard's. Shephard was immediately apprehended, and had not courage to maintain fidelity to his confederates. Upon his information, orders were issued for arresting the great men engaged in the conspiracy. Monmouth absconded: Russel was sent to the Tower: Grey was arrested, but escaped from the messenger: Howard was taken, while he concealed himself in a chimney; and being a man of profligate morals, as well as indigent circumstances, he scrupled not, in hopes of a pardon and a reward, to reveal the whole conspiracy. Essex, Sidney, and Hambden were immediately apprehended upon his evidence. Every day some of the conspirators were detected in their lurking-places, and thrown into prison.
Lieutenant-Colonel Walcot was first brought to his trial, This man, who was once noted for bravery, had been so far overcome by the love of life, that he had written to Secretary Jenkins, and had offered upon promise of pardon to turn evidence: but no sooner had he taken this mean step, than he felt more generous sentiments arise in him; and he endeavored, though in vain, to conceal himself. The witnesses against him were Rumsey, West, Shephard, together with Bourne, a brewer. His own letter to the secretary was produced, and rendered the testimony of the witnesses unquestionable. Hone and Rouse were also condemned. These two men, as well as Walcot, acknowledged at their execution the justice of the sentence; and from their trial and confession it is sufficiently apparent, that the plan of an insurrection had been regularly formed, and that even the assassination had been often talked of, and not without the approbation of many of the conspirators.
The condemnation of these criminals was probably intended as a preparative to the trial of Lord Russel, and served to impress the public with a thorough belief of the conspiracy, as well as a horror against it. The witnesses produced against the noble prisoner were Rumsey, Shephard, and Lord Howard. Rumsey swore, that he himself had been introduced to the cabal at Shephard's, where Russel was present; and had delivered them a message from Shaftesbury, urging them to hasten the intended insurrection; but had received for answer, that it was found necessary to delay the design, and that Shaftesbury must therefore, for some time, rest contented. This answer, he said, was delivered by Ferguson; but was assented to by the prisoner. He added, that some discourse had been entered into about taking a survey of the guards; and he thought that Monmouth, Grey, and Armstrong undertook to view them. Shephard deposed, that his house had beforehand been bespoken by Ferguson for the secret meeting of the conspirators, and that he had been careful to keep all his servants from approaching them, and had served them himself. Their discourse, he said, ran chiefly upon the means of surprising the guards; and it was agreed, that Monmouth and his two friends should take a survey of them. The report which they brought next meeting was, that the guards were remiss, and that the design was practicable: but he did not affirm that any resolution was taken of executing it. The prisoner, he thought, was present at both these meetings; but he was sure that at least he was present at one of them. A declaration, he added, had been read by Ferguson in Russel's presence: the reasons of the intended insurrection were there set forth, and all the public grievances fully displayed.
Lord Howard had been one of the cabal of six, established after Shaftesbury's flight; and two meetings had been held by the conspirators, one at Hambden's, another at Russel's. Howard deposed, that, at the first meeting, it was agreed to begin the insurrection in the country before the city; the places were fixed, the proper quantity and kind of arms agreed on, and the whole plan of operations concerted: that at the second meeting, the conversation chiefly turned upon their correspondence with Argyle and the discontented Scots; and that the principal management of that affair was intrusted to Sidney, who had sent one Aaron Smith into Scotland with proper instructions. He added, that in these deliberations no question was put, or votes collected; but there was no contradiction; and, as he took it, all of them, and the prisoner among the rest, gave their consent. Rumsey and Shephard were very unwilling witnesses against Lord Russel; and it appears from Grey's Secret History,[*] that, if they had pleased, they could have given a more explicit testimony against him.
     * Page 43.
This reluctance, together with the difficulty in recollecting circumstances of a conversation which had passed above eight months before, and which the persons had not at that time any intention to reveal, may beget some slight objection to their evidence. But, on the whole, it was undoubtedly proved, that the insurrection had been deliberated on by the prisoner, and fully resolved; the surprisal of the guards deliberated on, but not fully resolved; and that an assassination had never once been mentioned nor imagined by him. So far the matter of fact seems certain: but still, with regard to law, there remained a difficulty, and that of an important nature.
The English laws of treason, both in the manner of defining that crime, and in the proof required, are the mildest and most indulgent, and consequently the most equitable, that are any where to be found. The two chief species of treason contained in the statute of Edward III. are the compassing and intending of the king's death, and the actually levying of war against him; and by the law of Mary, the crime must be proved by the concurring testimony of two witnesses, to some overt act, tending to these purposes. But the lawyers, partly desirous of paying court to the sovereign, partly convinced of ill consequences which might attend such narrow limitations, had introduced a greater latitude both in the proof and definition of the crime. It was not required that the two witnesses should testify the same precise overt act: it was sufficient that they both testified some overt act of the same treason; and though this evasion may seem a subtilty, it had long prevailed in the courts of judicature, and had at last been solemnly fixed by parliament at the trial of Lord Stafford. The lawyers had used the same freedom with the law of Edward III. They had observed that, by that statute, if a man should enter into a conspiracy for a rebellion, should even fix a correspondence with foreign powers for that purpose, should provide arms and money, yet, if he were detected, and no rebellion ensued, he could not be tried for treason. To prevent this inconvenience, which it had been better to remedy by a new law, they had commonly laid their indictment for intending the death of the king and had produced the intention of rebellion as a proof of that other intention. But though this form of indictment and trial was very frequent, and many criminals had received sentence upon it, it was still considered as somewhat irregular, and was plainly confounding by a sophism two species of treason, which the statute had accurately distinguished. What made this refinement still more exceptionable, was, that a law had passed soon after the restoration, in which the consulting or the intending of a rebellion was, during Charles's lifetime, declared treason; and it was required, that the prosecution should be commenced within six months after the crime was committed. But notwithstanding this statute, the lawyers had persevered, as they still do persevere, in the old form of indictment; and both Sir Harry Vane and Oliver Plunket, titular primate of Ireland, had been tried by it. Such was the general horror entertained against the old republicans and the Popish conspirators, that no one had murmured against this interpretation of the statute; and the lawyers thought that they might follow the precedent, even in the case of the popular and beloved Lord Russel. Russel's crime fell plainly within the statute of Charles II.; but the facts sworn to by Rumsey and Shephard were beyond the six months required by law, and to the other facts Howard was a single witness. To make the indictment, therefore, more extensive, the intention of murdering the king was comprehended in it; and for proof of this intention the conspiracy for raising a rebellion was assigned; and, what seemed to bring the matter still nearer, the design of attacking the king's guards.
Russel perceived this irregularity, and desired to have the point argued by counsel: the chief justice told him, that this favor could not be granted, unless he previously confessed the facts charged upon him. The artificial confounding of the two species of treason, though a practice supported by many precedents, is the chief, but not the only hardship of which Russel had reason to complain on his trial. His defence was feeble: and he contented himself with protesting, that he never had entertained any design against the life of the king: his veracity would not allow him to deny the conspiracy for an insurrection. The jury were men of fair and reputable characters, but zealous royalists: after a short deliberation, they brought in the prisoner guilty.
Applications were made to the king for a pardon: even money, to the amount of one hundred thousand pounds, was offered to the duchess of Portsmouth by the old earl of Bedford, father to Russel. The king was inexorable. He had been extremely harassed with the violence of the country party; and he had observed, that the prisoner, besides his secret designs, had always been carried to the highest extremity of opposition in parliament. Russel had even adopted a sentiment similar to what we meet with in a letter of the younger Brutus. Had his father, he said, advised the king to reject the exclusion bill, he would be the first to move for a parliamentary impeachment against him. When such determined resolution was observed, his popularity, his humanity, his justice, his very virtues, became so many crimes, and were used as arguments against sparing him. Charles, therefore, would go no further than remitting the more ignominious part of the sentence which the law requires to be pronounced against traitors. "Lord Russel," said he, "shall find that I am possessed of that prerogative which, in the case of Lord Stafford, he thought proper to deny me." As the fury of the country party had rendered it impossible for the king, without the imminent danger of his crown, to pardon so many Catholics, whom he firmly believed innocent, and even affectionate and loyal to him, he probably thought that, since the edge of the law was now ready to fall upon that party themselves, they could not reasonably expect that he would interpose to save them.
Russel's consort, a woman of virtue, daughter and heir of the good earl of Southampton, threw herself at the king's feet and pleaded with many tears the merits and loyalty of her father, as an atonement for those errors into which honest, however mistaken, principles had seduced her husband. These supplications were the last instance of female weakness (if they deserve the name) which she betrayed. Finding all applications vain, she collected courage, and not only fortified herself against the fatal blow, but endeavored by her example to strengthen the resolution of her unfortunate lord. With a tender and decent composure they took leave of each other on the day of his execution. "The bitterness of death is now past," said he, when he turned from her. Lord Cavendish had lived in the closest intimacy with Russel, and deserted not his friend in the present calamity. He offered to manage his escape, by changing clothes with him, and remaining at al hazards in his place. Russel refused to save his own life by an expedient which might expose his friend to so many hardships When the duke of Monmouth by message offered to surrender himself, if Russel thought that this measure would anywise contribute to his safety, "It will be no advantage to me," he said, "to have my friends die with me." Some of his expressions discover, not only composure, but good humor, in this melancholy extremity. The day before his execution, he was seized with a bleeding at the nose. "I shall not now let blood to divert this distemper," said he to Dr. Burnet, who attended him; "that will be done to-morrow." A little before the sheriffs conducted him to the scaffold, he wound up his watch: "Now I have done," said he, "with time, and hence forth must think solely of eternity."
The scaffold was erected in Lincoln's Inn Fields, a place distant from the Tower; and it was probably intended, by conducting Russel through so many streets, to show the mutinous city their beloved leader, once the object of all their confidence, now exposed to the utmost rigors of the law. As he was the most popular among his own party, so was he ever the least obnoxious to the opposite faction; and his melancholy fate united every heart, sensible of humanity, in a tender compassion for him. Without the least change of countenance, he laid his head on the block; and at two strokes, it was severed from his body.
In the speech which he delivered to the sheriffs, he was very anxious to clear his memory from any imputation of ever intending the king's death, or any alteration in the government: he could not explicitly confess the projected insurrection without hurting his friends, who might still be called in question for it; but he did not purge himself of that design, which, in the present condition of the nation, he regarded as no crime. By many passages in his speech, he seems to the last to have lain under the influence of party zeal; a passion which, being nourished by a social temper, and clothing itself under the appearance of principle, it is almost impossible for a virtuous man, who has acted in public life, ever thoroughly to eradicate. He professed his entire belief in the Popish plot: and he said that, though he had often heard the seizure of the guards mentioned, he had ever disapproved of that attempt. To which he added, that the massacring of so many innocent men in cool blood was so like a Popish practice, that he could not but abhor it. Upon the whole, the integrity and virtuous intentions, rather than the capacity, of this unfortunate nobleman, seem to have been the shining parts of his character.
Algernon Sidney was next brought to his trial. This gallant person, son of the earl of Leicester, had entered deeply into the war against the late king; and though nowise tainted with enthusiasm, he had so far shared in all the counsels of the Independent republican party, as to have been named on the high court of justice which tried and condemned that monarch: he thought not proper, however, to take his seat among the judges. He ever opposed Cromwell's usurpation with zeal and courage; and after making all efforts against the restoration, he resolved to take no benefit of the general indemnity, but chose voluntary banishment, rather than submit to a government and family which he abhorred. As long as the republican party had any existence, he was active in every scheme, however unpromising, which tended to promote their cause; but at length, in 1677, finding it necessary for his private affairs to return to England, he had applied for the king's pardon, and had obtained it. When the factions arising from the Popish plot began to run high, Sidney, full of those ideas of liberty which he had imbibed from the great examples of antiquity, joined the popular party; and was even willing to seek a second time, through all the horrors of civil war, for his adored republic.
From this imperfect sketch of the character and conduct of this singular personage, it may easily be conceived how obnoxious he was become to the court and ministry: what alone renders them blamable was, the illegal method which they took for effecting their purpose against him. On Sidney's trial, they produced a great number of witnesses, who proved the reality of a plot in general; and when the prisoner exclaimed, that all these evidences said nothing of him, he was answered, that this method of proceeding, however irregular, had been practised in the prosecutions of the Popish conspirators; a topic more fit to condemn one party than to justify the other. The only witness who deposed against Sidney was Lord Howard; but as the law required two witnesses, a strange expedient was fallen on to supply this deficiency. In ransacking the prisoner's closet, some discourses on government were found; in which he had maintained principles, favorable indeed to liberty, but such as the best and most dutiful subjects in all ages have been known to embrace; the original contract, the source of power from a consent of the people, the lawfulness of resisting tyrants, the preference of liberty to the government of a single person. These papers were asserted to be equivalent to a second witness, and even to many witnesses. The prisoner replied, that there was no other reason for ascribing those papers to him as the author, besides a similitude of hand; a proof which was never admitted in criminal prosecutions: that allowing him to be the author, he had composed them solely for his private amusement, and had never published them to the world, or even communicated them to any single person: that, when examined, they appeared by the color of the ink to have been written many years before, and were in vain produced as evidence of a present conspiracy against the government: and that where the law positively requires two witnesses, one witness attended with the most convincing circumstances, could never suffice; much less, when supported by a circumstance so weak and precarious. All these arguments, though urged by the prisoner with great courage and pregnancy of reason, had no influence. The violent and inhuman Jefferies was now chief justice; and by his direction a partial jury was easily prevailed on to give verdict against Sidney. His execution followed a few days after: he complained, and with reason, of the iniquity of the sentence; but he had too much greatness of mind to deny those conspiracies with Monmouth and Russel, in which he had been engaged. He rather gloried, that he now suffered for that "good old cause," in which, from his earliest youth, he said he had enlisted himself.
The execution of Sidney is regarded as one of the greatest blemishes of the present reign. The evidence against him, it must be confessed, was not legal; and the jury who condemned him were, for that reason, very blamable. But that, after sentence passed by a court of judicature, the king should interpose and pardon a man who, though otherwise possessed of merit, was undoubtedly guilty, who had ever been a most inflexible and most inveterate enemy to the royal family, and who lately had even abused the king's clemency, might be an act of heroic generosity, but can never be regarded as a necessary and indispensable duty.
Howard was also the sole evidence against Hambden; and his testimony was not supported by any material circumstance. The crown lawyers therefore found it in vain to try the prisoner for treason: they laid the indictment only for a misdemeanor, and obtained sentence against him. The fine imposed was exorbitant; no less than forty thousand pounds.
Holloway, a merchant of Bristol, one of the conspirators, had fled to the West Indies, and was now brought over. He had been outlawed; but the year allowed him for surrendering himself was not expired. A trial was therefore offered him but as he had at first confessed his being engaged in a conspiracy for an insurrection, and even allowed that he had heard some discourse of an assassination, though he had not approved of it, he thought it more expedient to throw himself on the king's mercy. He was executed, persisting in the same confession.
Sir Thomas Armstrong, who had been seized in Holland, and sent over by Chidley, the king's minister, was precisely in the same situation with Holloway: but the same favor, or rather justice, was refused him. The lawyers pretended, that unless he had voluntarily surrendered himself before the expiration of the time assigned, he could not claim the privilege of a trial; not considering that the seizure of his person ought in equity to be supposed the accident which prevented him. The king bore a great enmity against this gentleman, by whom he believed the duke of Monmouth to have been seduced from his duty; he also asserted, that Armstrong had once promised Cromwell to assassinate him; though it must be confessed, that the prisoner justified himself from this imputation by very strong arguments. These were the reasons of that injustice which was now done him. It was apprehended that sufficient evidence of his guilt could not be produced; and that even the partial juries which were now returned, and which allowed themselves to be entirely directed by Jefferies and other violent judges, would not give sentence against him.
On the day that Russel was tried, Essex, a man eminent both for virtues and abilities, was found in the Tower with his throat cut. The coroner's inquest brought in their verdict, self-murder; yet because two children ten years old (one of whom, too, departed from his evidence) had affirmed that they heard a great noise from his window, and that they saw a hand throw out a bloody razor, these circumstances were laid hold of, and the murder was ascribed to the king and the duke, who happened that morning to pay a visit to the Tower. Essex was subject to fits of deep melancholy, and had been seized with one immediately upon his commitment: he was accustomed to maintain the lawfulness of suicide: and his countess upon a strict inquiry, which was committed to the care of Dr. Burnet, found no reason to confirm the suspicion: yet could not all these circumstances, joined to many others, entirely remove the imputation. It is no wonder, that faction is so productive of vices of all kinds; for, besides that it inflames all the passions, it tends much to remove those great restraints, horror and shame; when men find that no iniquity can lose them the applause of their own party, and no innocence secure them against the calumnies of the opposite.
But though there is no reason to think that Essex had been murdered by any orders from court, it must be acknowledged that an unjustifiable use in Russel's trial was made of that incident. The king's counsel mentioned it in their pleadings as a strong proof of the conspiracy; and it is said to have had great weight with the jury. It was insisted on in Sidney's trial for the same purpose.
Some memorable causes, tried about this time, though they have no relation to the Rye-house conspiracy, show the temper of the bench and of the juries. Oates was convicted of having called the duke a Popish traitor; was condemned in damages to the amount of one hundred thousand pounds; and was adjudged to remain in prison till he should make payment. A like sentence was passed upon Dutton-Colt, for a like offence Sir Samuel Barnardiston was fined ten thousand pounds, because, in some private letters which had been intercepted, he had reflected on the government. This gentleman was obnoxious, because he had been foreman of that jury which rejected the bill against Shaftesbury. A pretence was therefore fallen upon for punishing him; though such a precedent may justly be deemed a very unusual act of severity, and sufficient to destroy all confidence in private friendship and correspondence.
There is another remarkable trial, which shows the disposition of the courts of judicature, and which, though it passed in the ensuing year, it may not be improper to relate in this place. One Rosewel, a Presbyterian preacher, was accused by three women of having spoken treasonable words in a sermon. They swore to two or three periods, and agreed so exactly together, that there was not the smallest variation in their depositions. Rosewel, on the other hand, made a very good defence. He proved that the witnesses were lewd and infamous persons. He proved that, even during Cromwell's usurpation, he had always been a royalist; that he prayed constantly for the king in his family; and that in his sermons he often inculcated the obligations of loyalty. And as to the sermon of which he was accused, several witnesses who heard it, and some who wrote it in shorthand, deposed that he had used no such expressions as those which were imputed to him. He offered his own notes as a further proof. The women could not show by any circumstance or witness that they were at his meeting. And the expressions to which they deposed were so gross, that no man in his senses could be supposed to employ them before a mixed audience. It was also urged, that it appeared next to impossible for three women to remember so long a period upon one single hearing, and to remember it so exactly, as to agree to a tittle in their depositions with regard to it. The prisoner offered to put the whole upon this issue: he would pronounce, with his usual tone of voice, a period as long as that to which they had sworn; and then let them try to repeat it, if they could. What was more unaccountable, they had forgotten even the text of his sermon; nor did they remember any single passage but the words to which they gave evidence. After so strong a defence, the solicitor-general thought not proper to make any reply: even Jefferies went no further than some general declamations against conventicles and Presbyterians: yet so violent were party prejudices, that the jury gave a verdict against the prisoner; which, however, appeared so palpably unjust, that it was not carried into execution.
The duke of Monmouth had absconded on the first discovery of the conspiracy; and the court could get no intelligence of him. At length, Halifax, who began to apprehend the too great prevalence of the royal party, and who thought that Monmouth's interest would prove the best counterpoise to the duke's, discovered his retreat, and prevailed on him to write two letters to the king, full of the tenderest and most submissive expressions. The king's fondness was revived; and he permitted Monmouth to come to court. He even endeavored to mediate a reconciliation between his son and his brother; and having promised Monmouth, that his testimony should never be employed against any of his friends, he engaged him to give a full account of the plot. But, in order to put the country party to silence, he called next day an ex