Infomotions, Inc.The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part F. From Charles II. to James II. / Hume, David, 1711-1776

Author: Hume, David, 1711-1776
Title: The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part F. From Charles II. to James II.
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): parliament; king; duke; prince; popish plot
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Vol.I., Part F., by David Hume

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Title: The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part F.
       From Charles II. to James II.

Author: David Hume

Release Date: September 8, 2006 [EBook #19216]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by David Widger and the Online Distributed
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London: James S. Virtue, City Road and Ivy Lane
New York: 26 John Street


J. B. Lippincott & Co.
March 17, 1901

In Three Volumes:

VOLUME ONE: The History Of England From The Invasion Of Julius Caesar To
The End Of The Reign Of James The Second............ By David Hume, Esq.

VOLUME TWO: Continued from the Reign of William and Mary to the Death of
George II........................................... by Tobias Smollett.

VOLUME THREE: From the Accession of George III. to the Twenty-Third Year
of the Reign of Queen Victoria............... by E. Farr and E.H. Nolan.


Part F.

From Charles II. to James II.


[Illustration: 1-756-charles2.jpg  CHARLES II.]


{1660.} CHARLES II., when he ascended the throne of his ancestors, was
thirty years of age. He possessed a vigorous constitution, a fine shape,
a manly figure, a graceful air; and though his features were harsh,
yet was his countenance in the main lively and engaging. He was in that
period of life when there remains enough of youth to render the person
amiable, without preventing that authority and regard which attend the
years of experience and maturity. Tenderness was excited by the memory
of his recent adversities. His present prosperity was the object rather
of admiration than of envy. And as the sudden and surprising revolution
which restored him to his regal rights, had also restored the nation to
peace, law, order, and liberty, no prince ever obtained a crown in more
favorable circumstances, or was more blessed with the cordial affection
and attachment of his subjects.

This popularity the king, by his whole demeanor and behavior, was
well qualified to support and to increase. To a lively wit and quick
comprehension, he united a just understanding and a general observation
both of men and things. The easiest manners, the most unaffected
politeness, the most engaging gayety, accompanied his conversation and
address. Accustomed during his exile, to live among his courtiers rather
like a companion than a monarch, he retained, even while on the
throne, that open affability which was capable of reconciling the
most determined republicans to his royal dignity. Totally devoid of
resentment, as well from the natural lenity as carelessness of his
temper, he insured pardon to the most guilty of his enemies, and left
hopes of favor to his most violent opponents. From the whole tenor of
his actions and discourse, he seemed desirous of losing the memory of
past animosities, and of uniting every party in an affection for their
prince and their native country.

Into his council were admitted the most eminent men of the nation,
without regard to former distinctions: the Presbyterians, equally with
the royalists, shared this honor. Annesley was also created earl of
Anglesey; Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley; Denzil Hollis, Lord Hollis. The
earl of Manchester was appointed lord chamberlain, and Lord Say,
privy seal. Calamy and Baxter, Presbyterian clergymen, were even made
chaplains to the king.

Admiral Montague, created earl of Sandwich, was entitled from his recent
services to great favor; and he obtained it. Monk, created duke of
Albemarle, had performed such signal services, that, according to a
vulgar and malignant observation, he ought rather to have expected
hatred and ingratitude; yet was he ever treated by the king with great
marks of distinction. Charles's disposition, free from jealousy, and
the prudent behavior of the general, who never overrated his merits,
prevented all those disgusts which naturally arise in so delicate a
situation. The capacity, too, of Albemarle was not extensive, and his
parts were more solid than shining. Though he had distinguished himself
in inferior stations, he was imagined, upon familiar acquaintance, not
to be wholly equal to those great achievements which fortune, united
to prudence, had enabled him to perform; and he appeared unfit for the
court, a scene of life to which he had never been accustomed. Morrice,
his friend, was created secretary of state, and was supported more by
his patron's credit than by his own abilities or experience.

But the choice which the king at first made of his principal ministers
and favorites, was the circumstance which chiefly gave contentment to
the nation, and prognosticated future happiness and tranquillity.
Sir Edward Hyde, created earl of Clarendon, was chancellor and prime
minister; the marquis, created duke of Ormond, was steward of the
household, the earl of Southampton, high treasurer; Sir Edward Nicholas,
secretary of state. These men, united together in friendship, and
combining in the same laudable inclinations, supported each other's
credit, and pursued the interests of the public.

Agreeable to the present prosperity of public affairs was the universal
joy and festivity diffused throughout the nation. The melancholy
austerity of the fanatics fell into discredit together with their
principles. The royalists, who had ever affected a contrary disposition,
found in their recent success new motives for mirth and gayety; and it
now belonged to them to give repute and fashion to their manners. From
past experience it had sufficiently appeared, that gravity was very
distinct from wisdom, formality from virtue, and hypocrisy from
religion. The king himself, who bore a strong propensity to pleasure,
served, by his powerful and engaging example, to banish those sour
and malignant humors which had hitherto engendered such confusion. And
though the just bounds were undoubtedly passed, when men returned from
their former extreme, yet was the public happy in exchanging vices
pernicious to society, for disorders hurtful chiefly to the individuals
themselves who were guilty of them.

It required some time before the several parts of the state, disfigured
by war and faction, could recover their former arrangement; but the
parliament immediately fell into good correspondence with the king; and
they treated him with the same dutiful regard which had usually been
paid to his predecessors. Being summoned without the king's consent,
they received, at first, only the title of a convention; and it was not
till he passed an act for that purpose, that they were called by the
appellation of parliament. All judicial proceedings, transacted in the
name of the commonwealth or protector, were ratified by a new law. And
both houses, acknowledging the guilt of the former rebellion, gratefully
received, in their own name, and in that of all the subjects, his
majesty's gracious pardon and indemnity.

The king, before his restoration, being afraid of reducing any of his
enemies to despair, and at the same time unwilling that such enormous
crimes as had been committed should receive a total impunity, had
expressed himself very cautiously in his declaration of Breda, and had
promised an indemnity to all criminals, but such as should be excepted
by parliament. He now issued a proclamation declaring that such of the
late king's judges as did not yield themselves pris-* *-oners within
fourteen days, should receive no pardon. Nine teen surrendered
themselves; some were taken in their flight; others escaped beyond sea.

The commons seem to have been more inclined to lenity than the lords.
The upper house, inflamed by the ill usage which they had received, were
resolved, besides the late king's judges, to except every one who had
sitten in any high court of justice. Nay, the earl of Bristol moved,
that no pardon might be granted to those who had anywise contributed
to the king's death. So wide an exception, in which every one who had
served the parliament might be comprehended, gave a general alarm; and
men began to apprehend, that this motion was the effect of some court
artifice or intrigue. But the king soon dissipated these fears. He came
to the house of peers, and in the most earnest terms passed the act of
general indemnity. He urged both the necessity of the thing, and the
obligation of his former promise; a promise, he said which he would ever
regard as sacred; since to it he probably owed the satisfaction which at
present he enjoyed of meeting his people in parliament. This measure of
the king's was received with great applause and satisfaction.

After repeated solicitations, the act of indemnity passed both houses,
and soon received the royal assent. Those who had an immediate hand
in the late king's death, were there excepted: even Cromwell, Ireton,
Bradshaw, and others now dead, were attainted, and their estates
forfeited. Vane and Lambert, though none of the regicides, were also
excepted. St. John and seventeen persons more were deprived of all
benefit from this act, if they ever accepted any public employment. All
who had sitten in any illegal high court of justice were disabled from
bearing offices. These were all the severities which followed such
furious civil wars and convulsions.

The next business was the settlement of the king's revenue. In this
work, the parliament had regard to public freedom, as well as to the
support of the crown. The tenures of wards and liveries had long been
regarded as a grievous burden by the nobility and gentry: several
attempts had been made during the reign of James to purchase this
prerogative, together with that of purveyance: and two hundred thousand
pounds a year had been offered that prince in lieu of them; wardships
and purveyance had been utterly abolished by the republican parliament;
and even in the present parliament before the king arrived in England,
a bill had been introduced offering him a compensation for the emolument
of these prerogatives. A hundred thousand pounds a year was the sum
agreed to; and half of the excise was settled in perpetuity upon the
crown as the fund whence this revenue should be levied. Though that
impost yielded more profit, the bargain might be esteemed hard; and it
was chiefly the necessity of the king's situation which induced him to
consent to it. No request of the parliament, during the present joy,
could be refused them.

Tonnage and poundage and the other half of the excise, were granted to
the king during life. The parliament even proceeded so far as to vote,
that the settled revenue of the crown for all charges should be one
million two hundred thousand pounds a year; a sum greater than any
English monarch had ever before enjoyed. But as all the princes
of Europe were perpetually augmenting their military force, and
consequently their expense, it became requisite that England, from
motives both of honor and security, should bear some proportion to them,
and adapt its revenue to the new system of politics which prevailed.
According to the chancellor's computation, a charge of eight hundred
thousand pounds a year was at present requisite for the fleet and other
articles, which formerly cost the crown but eighty thousand.

Had the parliament, before restoring the king, insisted on any further
limitations than those which the constitution already imposed, besides
the danger of reviving former quarrels among parties, it would seem that
their precaution had been entirely superfluous. By reason of its slender
and precarious revenue, the crown in effect was still totally dependent.
Not a fourth part of this sum, which seemed requisite for public
expenses, could be levied without consent of parliament; and any
concessions, had they been thought necessary, might, even after the
restoration, be extorted by the commons from their necessitous prince.
This parliament showed no intention of employing at present that engine
to any such purposes; but they seemed still determined not to part
with it entirely, or to render the revenues of the crown fixed and
independent. Though they voted in general, that one million two hundred
thousand pounds a year should be settled on the king, they scarcely
assigned any funds which could yield two thirds of that sum. And
they left the care of fulfilling their engagements to the future
consideration of parliament. In all the temporary supplies which they
voted, they discovered the same cautious frugality. To disband the army,
so formidable in itself, and so much accustomed to rebellion and
changes of government, was necessary for the security both of king and
parliament; yet the commons showed great jealousy in granting the sums
requisite for that end. An assessment of seventy thousand pounds a month
was imposed; but it was at first voted to continue only three months;
and all the other sums which they levied for that purpose, by a
poll-bill and new assessments, were still granted by parcels, as if they
were not as yet well assured of the fidelity of the hand to which the
money was intrusted. Having proceeded so far in the settlement of the
nation, the parliament adjourned itself for some time.

During the recess of parliament, the object which chiefly interested
the public, was the trial and condemnation of the regicides. The general
indignation attending the enormous crime of which these men had been
guilty, made their sufferings the subject of joy to the people: but
in the peculiar circumstances of that action, in the prejudices of the
times, as well as in the behavior of the criminals, a mind seasoned with
humanity will find a plentiful source of compassion and indulgence. Can
any one, without concern for human blindness and ignorance, consider the
demeanor of General Harrison, who was first brought to his trial? With
great courage and elevation of sentiment, he told the court, that the
pretended crime of which he stood accused, was not a deed performed in
a corner; the sound of it had gone forth to most nations; and in
the singular and marvellous conduct of it, had chiefly appeared the
sovereign power of Heaven: that he himself, agitated by doubts, had
often, with passionate tears, offered up his addresses to the divine
Majesty, and earnestly sought for light and conviction: he had still
received assurance of a heavenly sanction, and returned from these
devout supplications with more serene tranquillity and satisfaction:
that all the nations of the earth were, in the eyes of their Creator,
less than a drop of water in the bucket; nor were their erroneous
judgments aught but darkness, compared with divine illuminations: that
these frequent relapses of the divine spirit he could not suspect to
be interested illusions; since he was conscious, that for no temporal
advantage would he offer injury to the poorest man or woman that trod
upon the earth: that all the allurements of ambition, all the terrors
of imprisonment, had not been able, during the usurpation of Cromwell,
to shake his steady resolution, or bend him to a compliance with that
deceitful tyrant: and that when invited by him to sit on the right hand
of the throne, when offered riches and splendor and dominion, he had
disdainfully rejected all temptations; and neglecting the tears of
his friends and family, had still, through every danger, held fast his
principles and his integrity.

Scot, who was more a republican than a fanatic, had said in the house
of commons, a little before the restoration, that he desired no other
epitaph to be inscribed on his tombstone than this: "Here lies Thomas
Scot, who adjudged the king to death." He supported the same spirit upon
his trial.

Carew, a Millenarian, submitted to his trial, "saving to our Lord Jesus
Christ his right to the government of these kingdoms." Some scrupled
to say, according to form, that they would be tried by God and their
country; because God was not visibly present to judge them. Others said,
that they would be tried by the word of God.

No more than six of the late king's judges, Harrison, Scot, Carew,
Clement, Jones, and Scrope, were executed; Scrope alone, of all those
who came in upon the king's proclamation. He was a gentleman of good
family and of a decent character: but it was proved, that he had a
little before, in conversation, expressed himself as if he were nowise
convinced of any guilt in condemning the king. Axtel, who had guarded
the high court of justice, Hacker, who commanded on the day of the
king's execution, Coke, the solicitor for the people of England, and
Hugh Peters, the fanatical preacher, who inflamed the army and impelled
them to regicide; all these were tried, and condemned, and suffered with
the king's judges. No saint or confessor ever went to martyrdom
with more assured confidence of heaven, than was expressed by those
criminals, even when the terrors of immediate death, joined to many
indignities, were set before them. The rest of the king's judges, by an
unexampled lenity, were reprieved; and they were dispersed into several

This punishment of declared enemies interrupted not the rejoicings of
the court: but the death of the duke of Gloucester, a young prince of
promising hopes, threw a great cloud upon them. The king, by no incident
in his life, was ever so deeply affected. Gloucester was observed
to possess united the good qualities of both his brothers: the clear
judgment and penetration of the king; the industry and application
of the duke of York. He was also believed to be affectionate to the
religion and constitution of his country. He was but twenty years of
age, when the small-pox put an end to his life.

The princess of Orange, having come to England in order to partake of
the joy attending the restoration of her family, with whom she lived in
great friendship, soon after sickened and died. The queen mother paid
a visit to her son; and obtained his consent to the marriage of the
princess Henrietta with the duke of Orleans, brother to the French king.

After a recess of near two months, the parliament met, and proceeded
in the great work of the national settlement. They established the
post-office, wine-licenses, and some articles of the revenue. They
granted more assessments, and some arrears for paying and disbanding
the army. Business, being carried on with great unanimity, was soon
despatched; and after they had sitten near two months, the king, in a
speech full of the most gracious expressions, thought proper to dissolve

This house of commons had been chosen during the reign of the old
parliamentary party; and though many royalists had crept in amongst
them, yet did it chiefly consist of Presbyterians, who had not yet
entirely laid aside their old jealousies and principles. Lenthal, a
member, having said, that those who first took arms against the king
were as guilty as those who afterwards brought him to the scaffold, was
severely reprimanded by order of the house; and the most violent
efforts of the long parliament, to secure the constitution, and bring
delinquents to justice, were in effect vindicated and applauded.[*] The
claim of the two houses to the militia, the first ground of the quarrel,
however exorbitant a usurpation, was never expressly resigned by this
parliament. They made all grants of money with a very sparing hand.
Great arrears being due, by the protectors, to the fleet, the army, the
navy office, and every branch of service, this whole debt they threw
upon the crown, without establishing funds sufficient for its payment.
Yet, notwithstanding this jealous care expressed by the parliament,
there prevails a story, that Popham, having sounded the disposition of
the members, undertook to the earl of Southampton to procure, during
the king's life, a grant of two millions a year, land tax; a sum which,
added to the customs and excise, would forever have rendered this prince
independent of his people.

     * Journals, vol. viii. p. 24

Southampton, it is said, merely from his affection to the king, had
unwarily embraced the offer; and it was not till he communicated the
matter to the chancellor, that he was made sensible of its pernicious
tendency. It is nor improbable, that such an offer might have been made,
and been hearkened to; but it is nowise probable, that all the interest
of the court would ever with this house of commons, have been able
to make it effectual. Clarendon showed his prudence, no less than his
integrity, in entirely rejecting it.

The chancellor, from the same principles of conduct, hastened to disband
the army. When the king reviewed these veteran troops, he was struck
with their beauty, order, discipline, and martial appearance; and being
sensible, that regular forces are most necessary implements of royalty,
he expressed a desire of finding expedients still to retain them.

But his wise minister set before him the dangerous spirit by which
these troops were actuated, their enthusiastic genius, their habits of
rebellion and mutiny; and he convinced the king, that, till they were
disbanded, he never could esteem himself securely established on his
throne. No more troops were retained than a few guards and garrisons,
about one thousand horse and four thousand foot. This was the first
appearance, under the monarchy, of a regular standing army in this
island. Lord Mordaunt said, that the king, being possessed of that
force, might now look upon himself as the most considerable gentleman in
England.[*] The fortifications of Gloucester, Taunton, and other towns,
which had made resistance to the king during the civil wars, were

     * King James's Memoirs. This prince says, that Vernier's
     insurrection furnished a reason or pretence for keeping up
     the guards, which were intended at first to have been
     disbanded with the rest of the army.

Clarendon not only behaved with wisdom and justice in the office of
chancellor; all the counsels which he gave the king tended equally to
promote the interest of prince and people. Charles, accustomed in his
exile to pay entire deference to the judgment of this faithful servant,
continued still to submit to his direction; and for some time no
minister was ever possessed of more absolute authority. He moderated the
forward zeal of the royalists, and tempered their appetite for revenge.
With the opposite party, he endeavored to preserve inviolate all the
king's engagements: he kept an exact register of the promises which had
been made for any service, he employed all his industry to fulfil
them. This good minister was now nearly allied to the royal family.
His daughter, Ann Hyde, a woman of spirit and fine accomplishments, had
hearkened, while abroad, to the addresses of the duke of York, and under
promise of marriage, had secretly admitted him to her bed. Her pregnancy
appeared soon after the restoration; and though many endeavored to
dissuade the king from consenting to so unequal an alliance, Charles,
in pity to his friend and minister, who had been ignorant of these
engagements, permitted his brother to marry her.[*] Clarendon expressed
great uneasiness at the honor which he had obtained; and said that, by
being elevated so much above his rank, he thence dreaded a more sudden

     * King James's Memoirs.

Most circumstances of Clarendon's administration have met with applause:
his maxims alone in the conduct of ecclesiastical politics have by
many been deemed the effect of prejudices narrow and bigoted. Had the
jealousy of royal power prevailed so far with the convention parliament
as to make them restore the king with strict limitations, there is no
question but the establishment of Presbyterian discipline had been
one of the conditions most rigidly insisted on. Not only that form of
ecclesiastical government is more favorable to liberty than to royal
power; it was likewise, on its own account, agreeable to the majority of
the house of commons, and suited their religious principles. But as
the impatience of the people, the danger of delay, the general disgust
towards faction, and the authority of Monk, had prevailed over that
jealous project of limitations, the full settlement of the hierarchy,
together with the monarchy, was a necessary and infallible consequence.
All the royalists were zealous for that mode of religion; the merits of
the Episcopal clergy towards the king, as well as their sufferings on
that account, had been great; the laws which established bishops and the
liturgy, were as yet unrepealed by legal authority; and any attempt of
the parliament, by new acts, to give the superiority to Presbyterianism,
had been sufficient to involve the nation again in blood and confusion.
Moved by these views, the commons had wisely postponed the examination
of all religious controversy, and had left the settlement of the church
to the king and to the ancient laws.

The king at first used great moderation in the execution of the laws.
Nine bishops still remained alive; and these were immediately restored
to their sees: all the ejected clergy recovered their livings: the
liturgy, a form of worship decent, and not without beauty, was again
admitted into the churches: but at the same time a declaration was
issued, in order to give contentment to the Presbyterians, and preserve
an air of moderation and neutrality.[*] In this declaration, the
king promised, that he would provide suffragan bishops for the larger
dioceses; that the prelates should, all of them, be regular and constant
preachers; that they should not confer ordination, or exercise any
jurisdiction, without the advice and assistance of presbyters chosen
by the diocese; that such alterations should be made in the liturgy as
would render it totally unexceptionable; that, in the mean time, the use
of that mode of worship should not be imposed on such as were unwilling
to receive it; and that the surplice, the cross in baptism, and
bowing at the name of Jesus, should not be rigidly insisted on. This
declaration was issued by the king as head of the church; and he plainly
assumed, in many parts of it, a legislative authority in ecclesiastical
matters. But the English government, though more exactly defined by
late contests, was not as yet reduced in every particular to the strict
limits of law. And if ever pre-rogative was justifiably employed, it
seemed to be on the present occasion; when all parts of the state were
torn with past convulsions, and required the moderating hand of the
chief magistrate to reduce them to their ancient order.

     * Parl. Hist vol. xxiii. p. 173

But though these appearances of neutrality were maintained, and a
mitigated Episcopacy only seemed to be insisted on, it was far from
the intention of the ministry always to preserve like regard to the
Presbyterians. The madness of the Fifth Monarchy men afforded them a
pretence for departing from it. Venner, a desperate enthusiast, who
had often conspired against Cromwell, having, by his zealous lectures
inflamed his own imagination and that of his followers, issued forth
at their head into the streets of London. They were, to the number
of sixty, completely armed, believed themselves invulnerable and
invincible, and firmly expected the same success which had attended
Gideon and other heroes of the Old Testament Every one at first fled
before them. One unhappy man, who, being questioned, said, "he was
for God and King Charles," was instantly murdered by them. They went
triumphantly from street to street, every where proclaiming King Jesus,
who, they said, was their invisible leader. At length, the magistrates,
having assembled some train bands, made an attack upon them. They
defended themselves with order as well as valor; and after killing
many of the assailants they made a regular retreat into Cane Wood, near
Hampstead. Next morning, they were chased thence by a detachment of
the guards; but they ventured again to invade the city, which was
not prepared to receive them. After committing great disorder, and
traversing almost every street of that immense capital, they retired
into a house, which they were resolute to defend to the last extremity.
Being surrounded, and the house untiled, they were fired upon from every
side; and they still refused quarter. The people rushed in upon them,
and seized the few who were alive. These were tried, condemned, and
executed; and to the last they persisted in affirming, that, if they
were deceived, it was the Lord that had deceived them.

Clarendon and the ministry took occasion, from this insurrection,
to infer the dangerous spirit of the Presbyterians, and of all the
sectaries: but the madness of the attempt sufficiently proved, that
it had been undertaken by no concert, and never could have proved
dangerous. The well-known hatred, too, which prevailed between the
Presbyterians and the other sects, should have removed the former from
all suspicion of any concurrence in the enterprise. But as a pretence
was wanted, besides their old demerits, for justifying the intended
rigors against all of them, this reason, however slight, was greedily
laid hold of.

Affairs in Scotland hastened with still quicker steps then those in
England towards a settlement and a compliance with the king. It was
deliberated in the English council, whether that nation should be
restored to its liberty, or whether the forts erected by Cromwell should
not still be upheld, in order to curb the mutinous spirit by which the
Scots in all ages had been so much governed. Lauderdale, who, from the
battle of Worcester to the restoration, had been detained prisoner in
the Tower, had considerable influence with the king; and he strenuously
opposed this violent measure. He represented that it was the loyalty
of the Scottish nation which had engaged them in an opposition to the
English rebels; and to take advantage of the calamities into which,
on that account, they had fallen, would be regarded as the highest
injustice and ingratitude: that the spirit of that people was now fully
subdued by the servitude under which the usurpers had so long held them,
and would of itself yield to any reasonable compliance with their
legal sovereign, if, by this means, they recovered their liberty and
independence: that the attachment of the Scots towards their king, whom
they regarded as their native prince, was naturally much stronger than
that of the English; and would afford him a sure resource, in case of
any rebellion among the latter: that republican principles had long
been, and still were, very prevalent with his southern subjects, and
might again menace the throne with new tumults and resistance: that
the time would probably come, when the king, instead of desiring to see
English garrisons in Scotland, would be better pleased to have Scottish
garrisons in England; who, supported by English pay, would be fond to
curb the seditious genius of that opulent nation: and that a people,
such as the Scots, governed by a few nobility, would more easily be
reduced to submission under monarchy, than one like the English, who
breathed nothing but the spirit of democratical equality.

{1661.} These views induced the king to disband all the forces in
Scotland, and to raze all the forts which had been erected. General
Middleton, created earl of that name, was sent commissioner to the
parliament, which was summoned. A very compliant spirit was there
discovered in all orders of men. The commissioner had even sufficient
influence to obtain an act, annulling at once all laws which had passed
since the year 1633; on pretext of the violence which, during that time,
had been employed against the king and his father, in order to procure
their assent to these statutes. This was a very large, if not an
unexampled concession; and, together with many dangerous limitations,
overthrew some useful barriers which had been erected to the
constitution. But the tide was now running strongly towards monarchy;
and the Scottish nation plainly discovered, that their past resistance
had proceeded more from the turbulence of their aristocracy, and the
bigotry of their ecclesiastics, than from any fixed passion towards
civil liberty. The lords of articles were restored, with some other
branches of prerogative; and royal authority fortified with more
plausible claims and pretences, was, in its full extent, reestablished
in that kingdom.

The prelacy likewise, by the abrogating of every statute enacted
in favor of Presbytery, was thereby tacitly restored; and the king
deliberated what use he should make of this concession. Lauderdale,
who at bottom was a passionate zealot against Episcopacy, endeavored
to persuade him, that the Scots, if gratified in this favorite point
of ecclesiastical government, would, in every other demand, be entirely
compliant with the king. Charles, though he had not so much attachment
to prelacy as had influenced his father and grandfather, had suffered
such indignities from the Scottish Presbyterians, that he ever
after bore them a hearty aversion. He said to Lauderdale, that
Presbyterianism, he thought, was not a religion for a gentleman; and he
could not consent to its further continuance in Scotland. Middleton too
and his other ministers persuaded him, that the nation in general was so
disgusted with the violence and tyranny of the ecclesiastics, that
any alteration of church government would be universally grateful. And
Clarendon, as well as Ormond, dreading that the Presbyterian sect, if
legally established in Scotland, would acquire authority in England and
Ireland, seconded the application of these ministers. The resolution was
therefore taken to restore prelacy; a measure afterwards attended with
many and great inconveniencies: but whether in this resolution Charles
chose not the lesser evil, it is very difficult to determine. Sharp, who
had been commissioned by the Presbyterians in Scotland to manage their
interests with the king, was persuaded to abandon that party; and, as
a reward for his compliance, was created archbishop of St. Andrews. The
conduct of ecclesiastical affairs was chiefly intrusted to him; and as
he was esteemed a traitor and a renegade by his old friends, he became
on that account, as well as from the violence of his conduct, extremely
obnoxious to them.

Charles had not promised to Scotland any such indemnity as he had
insured to England by the declaration of Breda: and it was deemed more
political for him to hold over men's heads, for some time, the terror
of punishment, till they should have made the requisite compliances
with the new government. Though neither the king's temper nor plan of
administration led him to severity, some examples, after such a bloody
and triumphant rebellion, seemed necessary; and the marquis of Argyle
and one Guthry were pitched on as the victims. Two acts of indemnity,
one passed by the late king in 1641, another by the present in 1651,
formed, it was thought, invincible obstacles to the punishment of
Argyle, and barred all inquiry into that part of his conduct which might
justly be regarded as the most exceptionable. Nothing remained but to
try him for his compliance with the usurpation; a crime common to him
with the whole nation, and such a one as the most loyal and affectionate
subject might frequently by violence be obliged to commit. To make this
compliance appear the more voluntary and hearty, there were produced
in court letters which he had written to Albemarle, while that general
commanded in Scotland, and which contained expressions of the most
cordial attachment to the established government. But besides the
general indignation excited by Albemarle's discovery of this private
correspondence, men thought, that even the highest demonstrations of
affection might, during jealous times, be exacted as a necessary mark of
compliance from a person of such distinction as Argyle, and could
not, by any equitable construction, imply the crime of treason. The
parliament, however, scrupled not to pass sentence upon him; and he died
with great constancy and courage. As he was universally known to have
been the chief instrument of the past disorders and civil wars, the
irregularity of his sentence, and several iniquitous circumstances in
the method of conducting his trial, seemed on that account to admit
of some apology. Lord Lorne, son of Argyle, having ever preserved his
loyalty, obtained a gift of the forfeiture. Guthry was a seditious
preacher, and had personally affronted the king: his punishment gave
surprise to nobody. Sir Archibald Johnstone of Warriston was attainted
and fled; but was seized in France about two years after, brought over,
and executed. He had been very active during all the late disorders;
and was even suspected of a secret correspondence with the English

Besides these instances of compliance in the Scottish parliament, they
voted an additional revenue to the king of forty thousand pounds a
year, to be levied by way of excise. A small force was purposed to be
maintained by this revenue, in order to prevent like confusions with
those to which the kingdom had been hitherto exposed. An act was also
passed, declaring the covenant unlawful, and its obligation void and

In England, the civil distinctions seemed to be abolished by the lenity
and equality of Charles's administration. Cavalier and roundhead were
heard of no more: all men seemed to concur in submitting to the king's
lawful prerogatives, and in cherishing he just privileges of the people
and of parliament. Theological controversy alone still subsisted, and
kept alive some sparks of that flame which had thrown the nation into
combustion. While Catholics, Independents, and other sectaries were
content with entertaining some prospect of toleration, Prelacy and
Presbytery struggled for the superiority, and the hopes and fears of
both parties kept them in agitation. A conference was held in the
Savoy between twelve bishops and twelve leaders among the Presbyterian
ministers, with an intention, at least on pretence, of bringing about an
accommodation between the parties. The surplice, the cross in baptism,
the kneeling at the sacrament, the bowing at the name of Jesus, were
anew canvassed; and the ignorant multitude were in hopes, that so
many men of gravity and learning could not fail, after deliberate
argumentation, to agree in all points of controversy: they were
surprised to see them separate more inflamed than ever, and more
confirmed in their several prejudices. To enter into particulars would
be superfluous. Disputes concerning religious forms are, in themselves,
the most frivolous of any; and merit attention only so far as they have
influence on the peace and order of civil society.

The king's declaration had promised, that some endeavors should be
used to effect a comprehension of both parties; and Charles's own
indifference with regard to all such questions seemed a favorable
circumstance for the execution of that project. The partisans of a
comprehension said, that the Presbyterians, as well as the Prelatists,
having felt by experience the fatal effects of obstinacy and violence,
were now well disposed towards an amicable agreement: that the bishops,
by relinquishing some part of their authority, and dispensing with the
most exceptionable ceremonies, would so gratify their adversaries as to
obtain their cordial and affectionate compliance, and unite the whole
nation in one faith and one worship: that by obstinately insisting on
forms, in themselves insignificant, an air of importance was bestowed
on them, and men were taught to continue equally obstinate in rejecting
them: that the Presbyterian clergy would go every reasonable length,
rather than, by parting with their livings, expose themselves to a
state of beggary, at best of dependence: and that if their pride were
flattered by some seeming alterations, and a pretence given them for
affirming that they had not abandoned their former principles, nothing
further was wanting to produce a thorough union between those two
parties, which comprehended the bulk of the nation.

It was alleged, on the other hand, that the difference between religious
sects was founded, not on principle, but on passion; and till the
irregular affections of men could be corrected, it was in vain to
expect, by compliances, to obtain a perfect unanimity and comprehension:
that the more insignificant the objects of dispute appeared, with the
more certainty might it be inferred, that the real ground of dissension
was different from that which was universally pretended: that the
love of novelty, the pride of argumentation, the pleasure of making
proselytes, and the obstinacy of contradiction, would forever give
rise to sects and disputes; nor was it possible that such a source of
dissension could ever, by any concessions, be entirely exhausted: that
the church, by departing from ancient practices and principles, would
tacitly acknowledge herself guilty of error, and lose that reverence,
so requisite for preserving the attachment of the multitude; and that
if the present concessions (which was more than probable) should prove
ineffectual, greater must still be made; and in the issue discipline
would be despoiled of all its authority, and worship of all its decency,
without obtaining that end which had been so fondly sought for by these
dangerous indulgences.

The ministry were inclined to give the preference to the latter
arguments; and were the more confirmed in that intention by the
disposition which appeared in the parliament lately assembled. The
royalists and zealous churchmen were at present the popular party in the
nation, and, seconded by the efforts of the court, had prevailed in most
elections. Not more than fifty-six members of the Presbyterian party had
obtained seats in the lower house; [*] and these were not able either to
oppose or retard the measures of the majority. Monarchy, therefore, and
Episcopacy, were now exalted to as great power and splendor as they
had lately suffered misery and depression. Sir Edward Turner was chosen

     [*] Carte's Answer to the Bystander, p. 79.

An act was passed for the security of the king's person and government.
To intend or devise the king's imprisonment, or bodily harm, or
deposition, or levying war against him, was declared, during the
lifetime of his present majesty, to be high treason. To affirm him to be
a Papist or heretic, or to endeavor by speech or writing to alienate his
subjects' affections from him; these offences were made sufficient to
incapacitate the person guilty from holding any employment in church or
state. To maintain that the long parliament is not dissolved, or that
either or both houses, without the king, are possessed of legislative
authority, or that the covenant is binding, was made punishable by the
penalty of premunire.

The covenant itself, together with the act for erecting the high court
of justice, that for subscribing the engagement, and that for declaring
England a commonwealth, were ordered to be burnt by the hands of the
hangman. The people assisted with great alacrity on this occasion.

The abuses of petitioning in the preceding reign had been attended with
the worst consequences; and to prevent such irregular practices for the
future, it was enacted that no more than twenty hands should be fixed to
any petition, unless with the sanction of three justices, or the major
part of the grand jury, and that no petition should be presented to
the king or either house by above ten persons. The penalty annexed to
a transgression of this law was a fine of a hundred pounds and three
months' imprisonment.

The bishops, though restored to their spiritual authority, were still
excluded from parliament, by the law which the late king had passed
immediately before the commencement of the civil disorders. Great
violence, both against the king and the house of peers, had been
employed in passing this law; and on that account alone the partisans
of the church were provided with a plausible pretence for repealing it.
Charles expressed much satisfaction when he gave his assent to the act
for that purpose. It is certain that the authority of the crown, as well
as that of the church, was interested in restoring the prelates to their
former dignity. But those who deemed every acquisition of the prince
a detriment to the people, were apt to complain of this instance of
complaisance in the parliament.

After an adjournment of some months, the parliament was again assembled,
and proceeded in the same spirit as before. They discovered no design
of restoring, in its full extent, the ancient prerogative of the crown:
they were only anxious to repair all those breaches which had been made,
not by the love of liberty, but by the fury of faction and civil war.
The power of the sword had in all ages been allowed to be vested in the
crown; and though no law conferred this prerogative every parliament,
till the last of the preceding reign, had willingly submitted to an
authority more ancient, and therefore more sacred, than that of any
positive statute. It was now thought proper solemnly to relinquish the
violent pretensions of that parliament, and to acknowledge that neither
one house nor both houses, independent of the king, were possessed of
any military authority. The preamble to this statute went so far as to
renounce all right even of defensive arms against the king; and much
observation has been made with regard to a concession esteemed so
singular. Were these terms taken in their full literal sense, they imply
a total renunciation of limitations to monarchy, and of all privileges
in the subject, independent of the will of the sovereign. For as no
rights can subsist without some remedy, still less rights exposed to
so much invasion from tyranny, or even from ambition; if subjects must
never resist, it follows that every prince, without any effort, policy,
or violence, is at once rendered absolute and uncontrollable; the
sovereign needs only issue an edict abolishing every authority but his
own; and all liberty from that moment is in effect annihilated. But this
meaning it were absurd to impute to the present parliament, who, though
zealous royalists, showed in their measures that they had not cast off
all regard to national privileges. They were probably sensible, that
to suppose in the sovereign any such invasion of public liberty, is
entirely unconstitutional; and that therefore expressly to reserve, upon
that event, any right of resistance in the subject, must be liable to
the same objection. They had seen that the long parliament, under color
of defence, had begun a violent attack upon kingly power; and after
involving the kingdom in blood, had finally lost that liberty for which
they had so imprudently contended. They thought, perhaps erroneously,
that it was no longer possible, after such public and such exorbitant
pretensions, to persevere in that prudent silence hitherto maintained
by the laws; and that it was necessary, by some positive declaration, to
bar the return of like inconveniencies. When they excluded, therefore,
the right of defence, they supposed that the constitution, remaining
firm upon its basis, there never really could be an attack made by the
sovereign. If such an attack was at any time made, the necessity was
then extreme; and the case of extreme and violent necessity, no laws,
they thought, could comprehend; because to such a necessity no laws
could beforehand point out a proper remedy.

The other measures of this parliament still discovered a more anxious
care to guard against rebellion in the subject than encroachments in
the crown; the recent evils of civil war and usurpation had naturally
increased the spirit of submission to the monarch, and had thrown the
nation into that dangerous extreme. During the violent and jealous
government of the parliament and of the protectors, all magistrates
liable to suspicion had been expelled the corporations; and none had
been admitted who gave not proofs of affection to the ruling powers, or
who refused to subscribe the covenant. To leave all authority in such
hands seemed dangerous; and the parliament therefore empowered the king
to appoint commissioners for regulating the corporations, and expelling
such magistrates as either intruded themselves by violence, or professed
principles dangerous to the constitution, civil and ecclesiastical. It
was also enacted, that all magistrates should disclaim the obligation
of the covenant, and should declare both their belief that it was not
lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to resist the king, and their
abhorrence of the traitorous position of taking arms by the king's
authority against his person, or against those who were commissioned by

{1662.} The care of the church was no less attended to by this
parliament than that of monarchy; and the bill of uniformity was a
pledge of their sincere attachment to the Episcopal hierarchy, and
of their antipathy to Presbyterianism, Different parties, however,
concurred in promoting this bill, which contained many severe clauses.
The Independents and other sectaries, enraged to find all their schemes
subverted by the Presbyterians, who had once been their associates,
exerted themselves to disappoint that party of the favor and indulgence
to which, from their recent merits in promoting the restoration, they
thought themselves justly entitled. By the Presbyterians, said they, the
war was raised; by them was the populace first incited to tumults; by
their zeal, interest, and riches, were the armies supported; by their
force was the king subdued; and if, in the sequel, they protested
against those extreme violences committed on his person by the military
leaders, their opposition came too late, after having supplied these
usurpers with the power and the pretences by which they maintained their
sanguinary measures. They had indeed concurred with the royalists in
recalling the king; but ought they to be esteemed, on that account, more
affectionate to the royal cause? Rage and animosity, from disappointed
ambition, were plainly their sole motives; and if the king should now
be so imprudent as to distinguish them by any particular indulgences, he
would soon experience from them the same hatred and opposition which had
proved so fatal to his father.

The Catholics, though they had little interest in the nation, were a
considerable party at court; and from their services and sufferings
during the civil wars, it seemed but just to bear them some favor
and regard. These religionists dreaded an entire union among the
Protestants. Were they the sole nonconformists in the nation, the
severe execution of penal laws upon their sect seemed an infallible
consequence; and they used, therefore, all their interest to push
matters to extremity against the Presbyterians, who had formerly been
their most severe oppressors, and whom they now expected for their
companions in affliction. The earl of Bristol, who, from conviction, or
interest, or levity, or complaisance for the company with whom he lived,
had changed his religion during the king's exile, was regarded as the
head of this party.

The church party had, during so many years, suffered such injuries
and indignities from the sectaries of every denomination, that no
moderation, much less deference, was on this occasion to be expected in
the ecclesiastics. Even the laity of that communion seemed now disposed
to retaliate upon their enemies, according to the usual measures of
party justice. This sect or faction (for it partook of both) encouraged
the rumors of plots and conspiracies against the government; crimes
which, without any apparent reason, they imputed to their adversaries.
And instead of enlarging the terms of communion, in order to comprehend
the Presbyterians, they gladly laid hold of the prejudices which
prevailed among that sect, in order to eject them from their livings. By
the bill of uniformity, it was required, that every clergyman should be
reordained, if he had not before received Episcopal ordination; should
declare his assent to every thing contained in the Book of Common
Prayer; should take the oath of canonical obedience; should abjure the
solemn league, and covenant; and should renounce the principle of taking
arms on any pretence whatsoever against the king.

This bill reinstated the church in the same condition in which it stood
before the commencement of the civil wars; and as the old persecuting
laws of Elizabeth still subsisted in their full rigor, and new clauses
of a like nature were now enacted, all the king's promises of toleration
and of indulgence to tender consciences were thereby eluded and broken.
It is true, Charles, in his declaration from Breda, had expressed his
intention of regulating that indulgence by the advice and authority of
parliament; but this limitation could never reasonably be extended to
a total infringement and violation of his engagements. However, it
is agreed that the king did not voluntarily concur with this violent
measure; and that the zeal of Clarendon and of the church party among
the commons, seconded by the intrigues of the Catholics, was the chief
cause which extorted his consent.

The royalists, who now predominated, were very ready to signalize their
victory, by establishing those high principles of monarchy which their
antagonists had controverted: but when any real power or revenue was
demanded for the crown, they were neither so forward nor so liberal
in their concessions as the king would gladly have wished. Though the
parliament passed laws for regulating the navy, they took no notice
of the army, and declined giving their sanction to this dangerous
innovation. The king's debts were become intolerable; and the commons
were at last constrained to vote him an extraordinary supply of one
million two hundred thousand pounds, to be levied by eighteen monthly
assessments. But besides that this supply was much inferior to the
occasion, the king was obliged earnestly to solicit the commons, before
he could obtain it; and, in order to convince the house of its absolute
necessity, he desired them to examine strictly into all his receipts
and disbursements. Finding, likewise, upon inquiry, that the several
branches of revenue fell much short of the sums expected, they at
last, after much delay, voted a new imposition of two shillings on each
hearth; and this tax they settled on the king during life. The
whole established revenue, however, did not for many years exceed a
million;[*] a sum confessedly too narrow for the public expenses. A very
rigid frugality at least, which the king seems to have wanted, would
have been requisite to make it suffice for the dignity and security
of government. After all business was despatched, the parliament was

     * D'Estrades, July 25, 1661. Mr. Ralph's History, vol. i. p.

Before the parliament rose, the court was employed in making
preparations for the reception of the new queen, Catharine of Portugal,
to whom the king was betrothed, and who had just landed at Portsmouth.
During the time that the protector carried on the war with Spain, he was
naturally led to support the Portuguese in their revolt; and he engaged
himself by treaty to supply them with ten thousand men for their defence
against the Spaniards. On the king's restoration, advances were made
by Portugal for the renewal of the alliance; and in order to bind the
friendship closer, an offer was made of the Portuguese princess, and a
portion of five hundred thousand pounds, together with two fortresses,
Tangiers in Africa, and Bombay in the East Indies. Spain, who, after the
peace of the Pyrenees, bent all her force to recover Portugal, now in
appearance abandoned by France, took the alarm, and endeavored to fix
Charles in an opposite interest The Catholic king offered to adopt any
other princess as a daughter of Spain, either the princess of Parma, or,
what he thought more popular, some Protestant princess, the daughter of
Denmark, Saxony, or Orange; and on any of these he promised to confer
a dowry equal to that which was offered by Portugal. But many reasons
inclined Charles rather to accept of the Portuguese proposals. The great
disorders in the government and finances of Spain made the execution of
her promises be much doubted; and the king's urgent necessities demanded
some immediate supply of money. The interest of the English commerce
likewise seemed to require that the independency of Portugal should be
supported, lest the union of that crown with Spain should put the whole
treasures of America into the hands of one potentate. The claims, too,
of Spain upon Dunkirk and Jamaica, rendered it impossible, without
further concessions, to obtain the cordial friendship of that power; and
on the other hand, the offer, made by Portugal, of two such considerable
fortresses, promised a great accession to the naval force of England.
Above all, the proposal of a Protestant princess was no allurement to
Charles, whose inclinations led him strongly to give the preference to
a Catholic alliance. According to the most probable accounts,[*] the
resolution of marrying ihe daughter of Portugal was taken by the king,
unknown to all his ministers, and no remonstrances could prevail with
him to alter his intentions.

     * Carte's Ormond, vol. ii. p. 254. This account seems better
     supported than that in Ablancourt's Memoirs, that the
     chancellor chiefly pushed the Portuguese alliance. The
     secret transactions of the court of England could not be
     supposed to be much known to a French resident at Lisbon:
     and whatever opposition the chancellor might make, he would
     certainly endeavor to conceal it from the queen and all her
     family; and even in the parliament and council would support
     the resolution already taken. Clarendon himself says, in his
     Memoirs, that he never either opposed or promoted the
     Portuguese match.

When the matter was laid before the council, all voices concurred
in approving the resolution; and the parliament expressed the same
complaisance. And thus was concluded, seemingly with universal consent,
the inauspicious marriage with Catharine, a princess of virtue, but who
was never able, either by the graces of her person or humor, to make
herself agreeable to the king. The report, however, of her natural
incapacity to have children, seems to have been groundless, since she
was twice declared to be pregnant.[*]

     * Lord Lansdowne's Defence of General Monk. Temple vol. ii
     p. 154

The festivity of these espousals was clouded by the trial and execution
of criminals. Berkstead, Cobbet, and Okey, three regicides, had escaped
beyond sea; and after wandering some time concealed in Germany, came
privately to Delft, having appointed their families to meet them in that
place. They were discovered by Downing, the king's resident in Holland,
who had formerly served the protector and commonwealth in the same
station, and who once had even been chaplain to Okey's regiment. He
applied for a warrant to arrest them. It had been usual for the states
to grant these warrants; though at the same time, they had ever been
careful secretly to advertise the persons, that they might be enabled
to make their escape. This precaution was eluded by the vigilance and
despatch of Downing. He quickly seized the criminals, hurried them on
board a frigate which lay off the coast, and sent them to England. These
three men behaved with more moderation and submission than any of the
other regicides who had suffered. Okey in particular, at the place of
execution, prayed for the king, and expressed his intention, had he
lived, of submitting peaceably to the established government. He had
risen, during the wars, from being a chandler in London, to a high rank
in the army; and in all his conduct appeared to be a man of humanity
and honor. In consideration of his good character and of his dutiful
behavior, his body was given to his friends to be buried.

The attention of the public was much engaged by the trial of two
distinguished criminals, Lambert and Vane. These men, though none of the
late king's judges, had been excepted from the general indemnity,
and committed to prison. The convention parliament, however, was so
favorable to them, as to petition the king, if they should be found
guilty, to suspend their execution: but this new parliament, more
zealous for monarchy, applied for their trial and condemnation. Not to
revive disputes which were better buried in oblivion, the indictment of
Vane did not comprehend any of his actions during the war between the
king and parliament: it extended only to his behavior after the late
king's death, as member of the council of state, and secretary of the
navy, where fidelity to the trust reposed in him required his opposition
to monarchy.

Vane wanted neither courage nor capacity to avail himself of this
advantage. He urged that, if a compliance with the government at that
time established in England, and the acknowledging of its authority,
were to be regarded as criminal, the whole nation had incurred equal
guilt, and none would remain whose innocence could entitle them to try
or condemn him for his pretended treasons: that, according to these
maxims, wherever an illegal authority was established by force, a total
and universal destruction must ensue; while the usurpers proscribed
one part of the nation for disobedience, the lawful prince punished the
other for compliance: that the legislature of England, foreseeing
this violent situation, had provided for public security by the famous
statute of Henry VII.; in which it was enacted that no man, in case of
any revolution, should ever be questioned for his obedience to the king
in being: that whether the established government were a monarchy or a
commonwealth, the reason of the thing was still the same; nor ought the
expelled prince to think himself entitled to allegiance, so long as he
could not afford protection: that it belonged not to private persons,
possessed of no power, to discuss the title of their governors;
and every usurpation, even the most flagrant, would equally require
obedience with the most legal establishment: that the controversy
between the late king and his parliament was of the most delicate
nature; and men of the greatest probity had been divided in their choice
of the party which they should embrace; that the parliament, being
rendered indissoluble but by its own consent, was become a kind of
cooerdinate power with the king; and as the case was thus entirely new
and unknown to the constitution, it ought not to be tried rigidly by the
letter of the ancient laws: that for his part, all the violences which
had been put upon the parliament, and upon the person of the sovereign,
he had ever condemned; nor had he once in the house for some time before
and after the execution of the king: that, finding the whole government
thrown into disorder, he was still resolved, in every revolution,
to adhere to the commons, the root, the foundation, of all lawful
authority: that in prosecution of this principle, he had cheerfully
under gone all the violence of Cromwell's tyranny; and would now with
equal alacrity, expose himself to the rigors of perverted law and
justice: that though it was in his power, on the king's restoration, to
have escaped from his enemies, he was determined, in imitation of the
most illustrious names of antiquity, to perish in defence of liberty,
and to give testimony with his blood for that honorable cause in which
he had been enlisted; and that, besides the ties by which God and nature
had bound him to his native country, he was voluntarily engaged by the
most sacred covenant, whose obligation no earthly power should ever be
able to make him relinquish.

All the defence which Vane could make was fruitless. The court,
considering more the general opinion of his active guilt in the
beginning and prosecution of the civil wars, than the articles of
treason charged against him, took advantage of the letter of the
law, and brought him in guilty. His courage deserted him not upon his
condemnation. Though timid by nature, the persuasion of a just cause
supported him against the terrors of death, while his enthusiasm,
excited by the prospect of glory, embellished the conclusion of a life,
which through the whole course of it, had been so much disfigured by the
prevalence of that principle. Lest pity for a courageous sufferer
should make impression on the populace, drummers were placed under the
scaffold, whose noise, as he began to launch out in reflections on the
government, drowned his voice, and admonished him to temper the ardor of
his zeal. He was not astonished at this unexpected incident. In all
his behavior there appeared a firm and animated intrepidity; and he
considered death but as a passage to that eternal felicity which he
believed to be prepared for him.

This man, so celebrated for his parliamentary talents, and for his
capacity in business, has left some writings behind him: they treat, all
of them, of religious subjects, and are absolutely unintelligible: no
traces of eloquence, or even of common sense, appear in them. A strange
paradox! did we not know, that men of the greatest genius, where they
relinquish by principle the use of their reason, are only enabled,
by their vigor of mind, to work themselves the deeper into error and
absurdity. It was remarkable, that as Vane, by being the chief
instrument of Strafford's death, had first opened the way for that
destruction which overwhelmed the nation, so by his death he closed the
scene of blood. He was the last that suffered on account of the civil
wars. Lambert, though condemned, was reprieved at the bar; and the
judges declared, that if Vane's behavior had been equally dutiful and
submissive, he would have experienced like lenity in the king. Lambert
survived his condemnation near thirty years. He was confined to the Isle
of Guernsey, where he lived contented, forgetting all his past schemes
of greatness, and entirely forgotten by the nation. He died a Roman

However odious Vane and Lambert were to the Presbyterians, that
party had no leisure to rejoice at their condemnation. The fatal St.
Bartholomew approached; the day when the clergy were obliged, by the
late law, either to relinquish their livings, or to sign the articles
required of them. A combination had been entered into by the more
zealous of the Presbyterian ecclesiastics to refuse the subscription,
in hopes that the bishops would not venture at once to expel so great a
number of the most popular preachers. The Catholic party at court, who
desired a great rent among the Protestants, encouraged them in this
obstinacy, and gave them hopes that the king would protect them in
their refusal. The king himself, by his irresolute conduct, contributed,
either from design or accident, to increase this opinion. Above all,
the terms of subscription had been made strict and rigid, on purpose
to disgust all the zealous and scrupulous among the Presbyterians, and
deprive them of their livings. About two thousand of the clergy, in one
day, relinquished their cures; and, to the astonishment of the court,
sacrificed their interest to their religious tenets. Fortified
by society in their sufferings, they were resolved to undergo any
hardships, rather than openly renounce those principles, which, on other
occasions, they were so apt, from interest, to warp or elude. The church
enjoyed the pleasure of retaliation; and even pushed, as usual,
the vengeance farther than the offence. During the dominion of the
parliamentary party, a fifth of each living had been left to the ejected
clergyman; but this indulgence, though at first insisted on by the house
of peers, was now refused to the Presbyterians. However difficult to
conciliate peace among theologians, it was hoped by many, that some
relaxation in the terms of communion might have kept the Presbyterians
united to the church, and have cured those ecclesiastical factions which
had been so fatal, and were still so dangerous. Bishoprics were offered
to Calamy, Baxter, and Reynolds, leaders among the Presbyterians:
the last only could be prevailed on to accept. Deaneries and other
preferments were refused by many.

The next measure of the king has not had the good fortune to be
justified by any party, but is often considered, on what grounds I shall
not determine, as one of the greatest mistakes, if not blemishes, of his
reign. It is the sale of Dunkirk to the French. The parsimonious maxims
of the parliament, and the liberal, or rather careless disposition of
Charles, were ill suited to each other; and notwithstanding the supplies
voted him, his treasury was still very empty and very much indebted. He
had secretly received the sum of two hundred thousand crowns from France
for the support of Portugal, but the forces sent over to that country,
and the fleets maintained in order to defend it, had already cost the
king that sum, and, together with it, near double the money which had
been paid as the queen's portion.[*] The time fixed for payment of his
sister's portion to the duke of Orleans was approaching. Tangiers, a
fortress from which great benefit was expected, was become an additional
burden to the crown; and Rutherford, who now commanded in Dunkirk, had
increased the charge of that garrison to a hundred and twenty thousand
pounds a year. These considerations had such influence, not only on the
king, but even on Clarendon, that this uncorrupt minister was the most
forward to advise accepting a sum of money in lieu of a place which, he
thought, the king, from the narrow state of his revenue, was no longer
able to retain. By the treaty with Portugal, it was stipulated that
Dunkirk should never be yielded to the Spaniards; France was therefore
the only purchaser that remained. D'Estrades was invited over by a
letter from the chancellor himself, in order to conclude the bargain.
Nine hundred thousand pounds were demanded: one hundred thousand were
offered. The English by degrees lowered their demand; the French raised
their offer: and the bargain was concluded at four hundred thousand
pounds. The artillery and stores were valued at a fifth of the sum.[**]

     * D'Estrades, 17th of August, 1662. There was above half of
     five hundred thousand pounds really paid as the queen's

     * D'Estrades, 21st of August, 12th of September, 1662.

The importance of this sale was not, at this time, sufficiently known,
either abroad or at home.[*] The French monarch himself, so fond of
acquisitions, and so good a judge of his own interests, thought that he
had made a hard bargain;[**] and this sum, in appearance so small, was
the utmost which he would allow his ambassador to offer.

     * It appears, however, from many of D'Estrades's letters,
     particularly that of the 21st of August, 1661, that the king
     might have transferred Dunkirk to the parliament, who would
     not have refused to bear the charges of it, but were
     unwilling to give money to the king for that purpose. The
     king, on the other hand, was jealous lest the parliament
     should acquire any separate dominion or authority in a
     branch of administration which seemed so little to belong to
     them; a proof that the government was not yet settled into
     that composure and mutual confidence which is absolutely
     requisite for conducting it.

     * D'Estrades, 3d of October, 1662. The chief importance,
     indeed, of Dunkirk to the English was, that it was able to
     distress their trade when in the hands of the French: but it
     was Lewis XIV. who first made it a good seaport. If ever
     England have occasion to transport armies to the continent,
     it must be in support of some ally whose towns serve to the
     same purpose as Dunkirk would, if in the hands of the

A new incident discovered such a glimpse of the king's character and
principles as, at first, the nation was somewhat at a loss how
to interpret, but such as subsequent events, by degrees, rendered
sufficiently plain and manifest. He issued a declaration on pretence
of mitigating the rigors contained in the act of uniformity. After
expressing his firm resolution to observe the general indemnity, and to
trust entirely to the affections of his subjects, not to any military
power, for the support of his throne, he mentioned the promises of
liberty of conscience contained in his declaration of Breda. And he
subjoined, that, "as in the first place he had been zealous to settle
the uniformity of the church of England, in discipline, ceremony, and
government, and shall ever constantly maintain it, so, as for what
concerns the penalties upon those who, living peaceably, do not conform
themselves thereunto, through scruple and tenderness of misguided
conscience, but modestly and without scandal perform their devotions in
their own way, he should make it his special care, so far as in him lay,
without invading the freedom of parliament, to incline their wisdom,
next approaching sessions, to concur with him in making some such act
for that purpose, as may enable him to exercise, with a more universal
satisfaction, that power of dispensing, which he conceived to be
inherent in him."[*] Here a most important prerogative was exercised
by the king; but under such artful reserves and limitations as might
prevent the full discussion of the claim, and obviate a breach between
him and his parliament. The foundation of this measure lay much deeper,
and was of the utmost consequence.

The king, during his exile, had imbibed strong prejudices a favor of
the Catholic religion; and, according to the most probable accounts,
had already been secretly reconciled in form to the church of Rome. The
great zeal expressed by the parliamentary party against all Papists,
had always, from a spirit of opposition, inclined the court and all the
royalists to adopt more favorable sentiments towards that sect, which,
through the whole course of the civil wars, had strenuously supported
the rights of the sovereign. The rigor, too, which the king, during his
abode in Scotland, had experienced from the Presbyterians, disposed him
to run into the other extreme, and to bear a kindness to the party
most opposite in its genius to the severity of those religionists. The
solicitations and importunities of the queen mother, the contagion of
the company which he frequented, the view of a more splendid and courtly
mode of worship, the hopes of indulgence in pleasure, all these causes
operated powerfully on a young prince, whose careless and dissolute
temper made him incapable of adhering closely to the principles of his
early education. But if the thoughtless humor of Charles rendered him
an easy convert to Popery, the same disposition ever prevented the
theological tenets of that sect from taking any fast hold of him. During
his vigorous state of health, while his blood was warm and his spirits
high, a contempt and disregard to all religion held possession of his
mind; and he might more properly be denominated a deist than a Catholic.
But in those revolutions of temper, when the love of raillery gave place
to reflection, and his penetrating, but negligent understanding was
clouded with fears and apprehensions, he had starts of mere sincere
conviction; and a sect which always possessed his inclination, was then
master of his judgment and opinion.[**]

     * Kennet's Register, p. 850.

     * The author confesses, that the king's zeal for Popery was
     apt at intervals to go further than is here supposed, as
     appears from many passages in James II.'s Memoirs.

But though the king thus fluctuated, during his whole reign, between
irreligion, which he more openly professed, and Popery, to which
he retained a secret propensity, his brother the duke of York, had
zealously adopted all the principles of that theological party. His
eager temper and narrow understanding made him a thorough convert,
without any reserve from interest, or doubts from reasoning and inquiry.
By his application to business, he had acquired a great ascendant over
the king; who, though possessed of more discernment, was glad to
throw the burden of affairs on the duke, of whom he entertained little
jealousy. On pretence of easing the Protestant dissenters, they agreed
upon a plan for introducing a general toleration, and giving the
Catholics the free exercise of their religion; at least the exercise of
it in private houses. The two brothers saw with pleasure so numerous and
popular a body of the clergy refuse conformity; and it was hoped that,
under shelter of their name, the small and hated sect of the Catholics
might meet with favor and protection.

{1663.} But while the king pleaded his early promises of toleration,
and insisted on many other plausible topics, the parliament, who sat a
little after the declaration was issued, could by no means be satisfied
with this measure. The declared intention of easing the dissenters, and
the secret purpose of favoring the Catholics, were equally disagreeable
to them and in these prepossessions they were encouraged by the king's
ministers themselves, particularly the chancellor. The house of commons
represented to the king, that his declaration of Breda contained
no promise to the Presbyterians and other dissenters, but only an
expression of his intentions, upon supposition of the concurrence of
parliament: that even if the nonconformists had been entitled to plead
a promise, they had intrusted this claim, as all their other rights and
privileges, to the house of commons, who were their representatives,
and who now freed the king from that obligation: that it was not to
be supposed, that his majesty and the houses were so bound by that
declaration, as to be incapacitated from making any laws which might be
contrary to it: that even at the king's restoration, there were laws
of uniformity in force, which could not be dispensed with but by act of
parliament: and that the indulgence intended would prove most pernicious
both to church and state, would open the door to schism, encourage
faction, disturb the public peace, and discredit the wisdom of the
legislature. The king did not think proper, after this remonstrance, to
insist any further at present on the project of indulgence.

In order to deprive the Catholics of all hopes, the two houses concurred
in a remonstrance against them. The king gave a gracious answer;
though he scrupled not to profess his gratitude towards many of that
persuasion, on account of their faithful services in his father's cause
and in his own. A proclamation, for form's sake, was soon after issued
against Jesuits and Romish priests: but care was taken, by the very
terms of it, to render it ineffectual. The parliament had allowed, that
all foreign priests, belonging to the two queens, should be excepted,
and that a permission for them to remain in England should still be
granted. In the proclamation, the word foreign was purposely omitted;
and the queens were thereby authorized to give protection to as many
English priests as they should think proper.

That the king might reap some advantage from his compliances, however
fallacious, he engaged the commons anew into an examination of his
revenue, which, chiefly by the negligence in levying it, had proved, he
said, much inferior to the public charges. Notwithstanding the price of
Dunkirk, his debts, he complained, amounted to a considerable sum; and
to satisfy the commons that the money formerly granted him had not been
prodigally expended, he offered to lay before them the whole account of
his disbursements. It is, however, agreed on all hands, that the king,
though during his banishment he had managed his small and precarious
income with great order and economy, had now much abated of these
virtues, and was unable to make his royal revenues suffice for his
expenses. The commons, without entering into too nice a disquisition,
voted him four subsidies; and this was the last time that taxes were
levied in that manner.

Several laws were made this session with regard to trade. The militia
also came under consideration, and some rules were established for
ordering and arming it. It was enacted, that the king should have no
power of keeping the militia under arms above fourteen days in the year.
The situation of this island, together with its great naval power, has
always occasioned other means of security, however requisite, to be much
neglected among us: and the parliament showed here a very superfluous
jealousy of the king's strictness in disciplining the militia. The
principles of liberty rather require a contrary jealousy.

The earl of Bristol's friendship with Clarendon, which had subsisted,
with great intimacy, during their exile and the distresses of the royal
party, had been considerably impaired, since the restoration, by the
chancellor's refusing his assent to some grants which Bristol had
applied for to a court lady: and a little after, the latter nobleman,
agreeably to the impetuosity and indiscretion of his temper, broke out
against the minister in the most outrageous manner. He even entered
a charge of treason against him before the house of peers; but had
concerted his measures so imprudently, that the judges, when consulted,
declared, that neither for its matter nor its form could the charge
be legally received. The articles indeed resemble more the incoherent
altercations of a passionate enemy, than a serious accusation, fit to be
discussed by a court of judicature; and Bristol himself was so
ashamed of his conduct and defeat, that he absconded during some time.
Notwithstanding his fine talents, his eloquence, his spirit, and his
courage, he could never regain the character which he lost by this hasty
and precipitate measure.

But though Clarendon was able to elude this rash assault, his credit
at court was sensibly declining; and in proportion as the king found
himself established on the throne, he began to alienate himself from
a minister whose character was so little suited to his own. Charles's
favor for the Catholics was always opposed by Clarendon, public liberty
was secured against all attempts of the over-zealous royalists, prodigal
grants of the king were checked or refused, and the dignity of his own
character was so much consulted by the chancellor, that he made it an
inviolable rule, as did also his friend Southampton, never to enter into
any connection with the royal mistresses. The king's favorite was Mrs.
Palmer, afterwards created duchess of Cleveland; a woman prodigal,
rapacious, dissolute, violent, revengeful. She failed not in her turn
to undermine Clarendon's credit with his master; and her success was
at this time made apparent to the whole world. Secretary Nicholas, the
chancellor's great friend, was removed from his place; and Sir Harry
Bennet, his avowed enemy, was advanced to that office. Bennet was soon
after created Lord Arlington.

Though the king's conduct had hitherto, since his restoration, been
in the main laudable, men of penetration began to observe, that those
virtues by which he had at first so much dazzled and enchanted the
nation, had great show, but not equal solidity. His good understanding
lost much of its influence by his want of application his bounty was
more the result of a facility of disposition than any generosity of
character; his social humor led him frequently to neglect his dignity;
his love of pleasure was not attended with proper sentiment and decency;
and while he seemed to bear a good will to every one that approached
him, he had a heart not very capable of friendship, and he had secretly
entertained a very bad opinion and distrust of mankind. But above all,
what sullied his character in the eyes of good judges, was his negligent
ingratitude towards the unfortunate cavaliers, whose zeal and sufferings
in the royal cause had known no bounds. This conduct, however, in the
king may, from the circumstances of his situation and temper, admit of
some excuse; at least, of some alleviation. As he had been restored more
by the efforts of his reconciled enemies than of his ancient friends,
the former pretended a title to share his favor; and being from practice
acquainted with public business, they were better qualified to execute
any trust committed to them. The king's revenues were far from being
large, or even equal to his necessary expenses; and his mistresses, and
the companions of his mirth and pleasures, gained by solicitation every
request from his easy temper. The very poverty to which the more zealous
royalists had reduced themselves, by rendering them insignificant, made
them unfit to support the king's measures, and caused him to deem them
a useless encumbrance. And as many false and ridiculous claims of merit
were offered, his natural indolence, averse to a strict discussion
or inquiry, led him to treat them all with equal indifference. The
parliament took some notice of the poor cavaliers. Sixty thousand
pounds were at one time distributed among them; Mrs. Lane also and the
Penderells had handsome presents and pensions from the king. But the
greater part of the royalists still remained in poverty and distress,
aggravated by the cruel disappointment in their sanguine hopes, and by
seeing favor and preferment bestowed upon their most inveterate foes.
With regard to the act of indemnity and oblivion, they universally said,
that it was an act of indemnity to the king's enemies and of oblivion to
his friends.



{1664.} The next session of parliament discovered a continuance of the
same principles which had prevailed in all the foregoing. Monarchy and
the church were still the objects of regard and affection. During no
period of the present reign did this spirit more evidently pass the
bounds of reason and moderation.

The king, in his speech to the parliament, had ventured openly to demand
a repeal of the triennial act; and he even went so far as to declare
that, notwithstanding the law, he never would allow any parliament to
be assembled by the methods prescribed in that statute. The parliament,
without taking offence at this declaration, repealed the law; and in
lieu of all the securities formerly provided, satisfied themselves with
a general clause, "that parliament should not be interrupted above three
years at the most." As the English parliament had now raised itself to
be a regular check and control upon royal power, it is evident that they
ought still to have preserved a regular security for their meeting,
and not have trusted entirely to the good will of the king, who, if
ambitious or enterprising, had so little reason to be pleased with these
assemblies. Before the end of Charles's reign, the nation had occasion
to feel very sensibly the effects of this repeal.

By the act of uniformity, every clergyman who should officiate without
being properly qualified, was punishable by fine and imprisonment: but
this security was not thought sufficient for the church. It was now
enacted, that, wherever five persons above those of the same household
should assemble in a religious congregation, every one of them was
liable, for the first offence, to be imprisoned three months, or pay
five pounds; for the second, to be imprisoned six months, or pay ten
pounds; and for the third, to be transported seven years, or pay a
hundred pounds. The parliament had only in their eye the malignity of
the sectaries; they should have carried their attention further, to the
chief cause of that malignity, the restraint under which they labored.

The commons likewise passed a vote, that the wrongs, dishonors, and
indignities offered to the English by the subjects of the United
Provinces, were the greatest obstructions to all foreign trade: and they
promised to assist the king with their lives and fortunes in asserting
the rights of his crown against all opposition whatsoever. This was
the first open step towards a Dutch war. We must explain the causes and
motives of this measure.

That close union and confederacy which, during a course of near seventy
years, has subsisted, almost without interruption or jealousy, between
England and Holland, is not so much founded on the natural, unalterable
interests of these states, as on their terror of the growing power of
the French monarch, who, without their combination, it is apprehended,
would soon extend his dominion over Europe. In the first years of
Charles's reign, when the ambitious genius of Lewis had not as yet
displayed itself, and when the great force of his people was in some
measure unknown even to themselves, the rival-ship of commerce, not
checked by any other jealousy or apprehension, had in England begotten a
violent enmity against the neighboring republic.

Trade was beginning among the English to be a matter of general concern;
but notwithstanding all their efforts and advantages, their commerce
seemed hitherto to stand upon a footing which was somewhat precarious.
The Dutch, who by industry and frugality were enabled to undersell them
in every market, retained possession of the most lucrative branches of
commerce; and the English merchants had the mortification to find, that
all attempts to extend their trade were still turned, by the vigilance
of their rivals, to their loss and dishonor. Their indignation
increased, when they considered the superior naval power of England;
the bravery of her officers and seamen; her favorable situation, which
enabled her to intercept the whole Dutch commerce. By the prospect of
these advantages, they were strongly prompted, from motives less just
and political, to make war upon the states; and at once to ravish from
them by force what they could not obtain, or could obtain but slowly, by
superior skill and industry.

The careless, unambitious temper of Charles rendered him little capable
of forming so vast a project as that of engrossing the commerce and
naval power of Europe; yet could he not remain altogether insensible
to such obvious and such tempting prospects. His genius, happily turned
towards mechanics, had inclined him to study naval affairs, which, of
all branches of business, he both loved the most and understood the
best. Though the Dutch, during his exile, had expressed towards him
more civility and friendship than he had received from any other foreign
power, the Louvestein or aristocratic faction, which at this time ruled
the commonwealth, had fallen into close union with France; and could
that party be subdued, he might hope that his nephew, the young prince
of Orange, would be reinstated in the authority possessed by his
ancestors, and would bring the states to a dependence under England. His
narrow revenues made it still requisite for him to study the humors
of his people, which now ran violently towards war; and it has been
suspected, though the suspicion was not justified by the event, that
the hopes of diverting some of the supplies to his private use were not
overlooked by this necessitous monarch.

The duke of York, more active and enterprising, pushed more eagerly the
war with Holland. He desired an opportunity of distinguishing himself:
he loved to cultivate commerce: he was at the head of a new African
company, whose trade was extremely checked by the settlements of the
Dutch: and perhaps the religious prejudices by which that prince was
always so much governed, began, even so early, to instil into him
an antipathy against a Protestant commonwealth, the bulwark of the
reformation. Clarendon and Southampton, observing that the nation was
not supported by any foreign alliance, were averse to hostilities; but
their credit was now on the decline.

By these concurring motives, the court and parliament were both of them
inclined to a Dutch war. The parliament was prorogued without voting
supplies: but as they had been induced, without any open application
from the crown, to pass that vote above mentioned against the Dutch
encroachments, it was reasonably considered as sufficient sanction for
the rigorous measures which were resolved on.

Downing, the English minister at the Hague, a man of an insolent,
impetuous temper, presented a memorial to the states, containing a list
of those depredations of which the English complained. It is remarkable,
that all the pretended depreciations preceded the year 1662, when a
treaty of league and alliance had been renewed with the Dutch; and these
complaints were then thought either so ill grounded or so frivolous,
that they had not been mentioned in the treaty. Two ships alone, the
Bonaventure and the Good Hope, had been claimed by the English; and it
was agreed that the claim should be prosecuted by the ordinary course
of justice. The states had consigned a sum of money, in case the cause
should be decided against them; but the matter was still in dependence.
Cary who was intrusted by the proprietors with the management of the
lawsuit for the Bonaventure, had resolved to accept of thirty thousand
pounds, which were offered him; but was hindered by Downing, who told
him that the claim was a matter of state between the two nations, not a
concern of private persons.[*] These circumstances give us no favorable
idea of the justice of the English pretensions.

     * Temple, vol. ii, p. 42.

Charles confined not himself to memorials and remonstrances. Sir Robert
Holmes was secretly despatched with a squadron of twenty-two ships to
the coast of Africa. He not only expelled the Dutch from Cape Corse,
to which the English had some pretensions; he likewise seized the Dutch
settlements of Cape Verde and the Isle of Goree, together with several
ships trading on that coast. And having sailed to America, he possessed
himself of Nova Belgia, since called New York; a territory which James
I. had given by patent to the earl of Stirling, but which had never
been planted but by the Hollanders. When the states complained of these
hostile measures, the king, unwilling to avow what he could not well
justify, pretended to be totally ignorant of Holmes's enterprise.
He likewise confined that admiral to the Tower; but some time after
released him.

The Dutch, finding that their applications for redress were likely to be
eluded, and that a ground of quarrel was industriously sought for by
the English, began to arm with diligence. They even exerted, with some
precipitation, an act of vigor which hastened on the rupture. Sir John
Lawson and De Ruyter had been sent with combined squadrons into the
Mediterranean, in order to chastise the piratical states on the coast
of Barbary; and the time of their separation and return was now
approaching. The states secretly despatched orders to De Ruyter, that
he should take in provisions at Cadiz; and sailing towards the coast of
Guinea, should retaliate on the English, and put the Dutch in possession
of those settlements whence Holmes had expelled them. De Ruyter, having
a considerable force on board, met with no opposition in Guinea.

All the new acquisitions of the English, except Cape Corse were
recovered from them. They were even dispossessed of some old
settlements. Such of their ships as fell into his hands were seized by
De Ruyter. That admiral sailed next to America. He attacked Barbadoes,
but was repulsed. He afterwards committed hostilities on Long Island.

Meanwhile the English preparations for war were advancing with vigor and
industry. The king had received no supplies from parliament; but by his
own funds and credit he was enabled to equip a fleet: the city of London
lent him one hundred thousand pounds: the spirit of the nation seconded
his armaments: he himself went from port to port, inspecting with great
diligence, and encouraging the work; and in a little time the English
navy was put in a formidable condition. Eight hundred thousand pounds
are said to have been expended on this armament. When Lawson arrived,
and communicated his suspicion of De Ruyter's enterprise, orders were
issued for seizing all Dutch ships; and one hundred and thirty-five
fell into the hands of the English. These were not declared prizes till
afterwards, when war was proclaimed.

The parliament, when it met, granted a supply, the largest by far that
had ever been given to a king of England, yet scarcely sufficient for
the present undertaking. Near two millions and a half were voted, to
be levied by quarterly payments in three years. The avidity of the
merchants, together with the great prospect of success, had animated the
whole nation against the Dutch.

A great alteration was made this session in the method of taxing the
clergy. In almost all the other monarchies of Europe, the assemblies,
whose consent was formerly requisite to the enacting of laws, were
composed of three estates, the clergy, the nobility, and the commonalty,
which formed so many members of the political body, of which the king
was considered as the head. In England too, the parliament was always
represented as consisting of three estates; but their separation was
never so distinct as in other kingdoms. A convocation, however, had
usually sitten at the same time with the parliament; though they
possessed not a negative voice in the passing of laws, and assumed
no other temporal power than that of imposing taxes on the clergy. By
reason of ecclesiastical preferments, which he could bestow, the king's
influence over the church was more considerable than over the laity; so
that the subsidies granted by the convocation were commonly greater than
those which were voted by parliament. The church, therefore, was not
displeased to depart tacitly from the right of taxing herself, and allow
the commons to lay impositions on ecclesiastical revenues, as on the
rest of the kingdom. In recompense, two subsidies, which the convocation
had formerly granted, were remitted, and the parochial clergy were
allowed to vote at elections. Thus the church of England made a barter
of power for profit. Their convocations, having become insignificant to
the crown, have been much disused of late years.

The Dutch saw, with the utmost regret, a war approaching, whence they
might dread the most fatal consequences, but which afforded no prospect
of advantage. They tried every art of negotiation, before they would
come to extremities. Their measures were at that time directed by John
de Wit, a minister equally eminent for greatness of mind, for capacity,
and for integrity. Though moderate in his private deportment, he knew
how to adopt in his public counsels that magnanimity which suits the
minister of a great state. It was ever his maxim, that no independent
government should yield to another any evident point of reason or
equity; and that all such concessions, so far from preventing war,
served to no other purpose than to provoke fresh claims and insults.
By his management a spirit of union was preserved in all the provinces;
great sums were levied; and a navy was equipped, composed of larger
ships than the Dutch had ever built before, and able to cope with the
fleet of England.

{1665.} As soon as certain intelligence arrived of De Ruyter's
enterprises, Charles declared war against the states. His fleet,
consisting of one hundred and fourteen sail, besides fireships and
ketches, was commanded by the duke of York, and under him by Prince
Rupert and the earl of Sandwich. It had about twenty-two thousand men on
board. Obdam, who was admiral of the Dutch navy, of nearly equal force,
declined not the combat. In the heat of action, when engaged in close
fight with the duke of York, Obdam's ship blew up. This accident much
discouraged the Dutch, who fled towards their own coast. Tromp alone,
son of the famous admiral killed during the former war, bravely
sustained with his squadron the efforts of the English, and protected
the rear of his countrymen. The vanquished had nineteen ships sunk and
taken. The victors lost only one. Sir John Lawson died soon after of
his wounds. It is affirmed, and with an appearance of reason, that this
victory might have been rendered more complete, had not orders been
issued to slacken sail by Brounker, one of the duke's bed-chamber, who
pretended authority from his master. The duke disclaimed the orders;
but Brounker never was sufficiently punished for his temerity.[*] It is
allowed, however, that the duke behaved with great bravery during the
action. He was long in the thickest of the fire. The earl of Falmouth,
Lord Muskerry, and Mr. Boyle, were killed by one shot at his side, and
covered him all over with their brains and gore. And it is not likely,
that, in a pursuit, where even persons of inferior station, and of the
most cowardly disposition, acquire courage, a commander should feel his
spirits to flag ana should turn from the back of an enemy, whose face he
had not been afraid to encounter.

     * King James, in his Memoirs, gives an account of
     this affair different from what we meet with in any
     historian. He says, that, while he was asleep, Brounker
     brought orders to Sir John Harman, captain of the ship, to
     slacken sail. Sir John remonstrated, but obeyed. After some
     time, finding that his falling back was likely to produce
     confusion in the fleet, he hoisted the sail as before; so
     that the prince, coming soon after on the quarter deck, and
     finding all things as he left them, knew nothing of what had
     passed during his repose. Nobody gave him the least
     intimation of it. It was long after that he heard of it, by
     a kind of accident; and he intended to have punished
     Brounker by martial law; but just about that time, the house
     of commons took up the question, and impeached him, which
     made it impossible for the duke to punish him otherwise than
     by dismissing him his service. Brounker, before the house,
     never pretended that he had received any orders from the

This disaster threw the Dutch into consternation, and determined De Wit,
who was the soul of their councils, to exert his military capacity, in
order to support the declining courage of his countrymen. He went on
board the fleet, which he took under his command; and he soon remedied
all those disorders which had been occasioned by the late misfortune.
The genius of this man was of the most extensive nature. He quickly
became as much master of naval affairs, as if he had from his infancy
been educated in them; and he even made improvements in some parts of
pilotage and sailing, beyond what men expert in those arts had ever been
able to attain.

The misfortunes of the Dutch determined their allies to act for their
assistance and support. The king of France was engaged in a defensive
alliance with the states; but as his naval force was yet in its infancy,
he was extremely averse, at that time, from entering into a war with so
formidable a power as England. He long tried to mediate a peace between
the states, and for that purpose sent an embassy to London, which
returned without effecting any thing. Lord Hollis, the English
ambassador at Paris, endeavored to draw over Lewis to the side of
England; and, in his master's name, made him the most tempting offers.
Charles was content to abandon all the Spanish Low Countries to the
French, without pretending to a foot of ground for himself, provided
Lewis would allow him to pursue his advantages against the Dutch.[*]
But the French monarch, though the conquest of that valuable territory
was the chief object of his ambition, rejected the offer as contrary to
his interests: he thought, that if the English had once established an
uncontrollable dominion over the sea and over commerce, they would
soon be able to render his acquisitions a dear purchase to him. When De
Lionne, the French secretary, assured Van Beuninghen, ambassador of
the states, that this offer had been pressed on his master during six
months, "I can readily believe it," replied the Dutchman; "I am sensible
that it is the interest of England."[**]

     * D'Estrades, December 19, 1664.

     ** D'Estrades, August 14, 1665.

Such were the established maxims at that time with regard to the
interests of princes. It must, however, be allowed, that the politics of
Charles, in making this offer, were not a little hazardous. The extreme
weakness of Spain would have rendered the French conquests easy and
infallible; but the vigor of the Dutch, it might be foreseen, would make
the success of the English much more precarious. And even were the
naval force of Holland totally annihilated, the acquisition of the Dutch
commerce to England could not be relied on as a certain consequence; nor
is trade a constant attendant of power, but depends on many other, and
some of them very delicate, circumstances.

Though the king of France was resolved to support the Hollanders in
that unequal contest in which they were engaged, he yet protracted his
declaration, and employed the time in naval preparations, both in
the ocean and the Mediterranean. The king of Denmark, meanwhile, was
resolved not to remain an idle spectator of the contest between the
maritime powers. The part which he acted was the most extraordinary: he
made a secret agreement with Charles to seize all the Dutch ships in his
harbors, and to share the spoils with the English, provided they would
assist him in executing this measure. In order to increase his prey,
he perfidiously invited the Dutch to take shelter in his ports; and
accordingly the East India fleet, very richly laden, had put into
Bergen. Sandwich, who now commanded the English navy, (the duke having
gone ashore,) despatched Sir Thomas Tiddiman with a squadron to attack
them; but whether from the king of Denmark's delay in sending orders to
the governor, or, what is more probable, from his avidity in endeavoring
to engross the whole booty, the English admiral, though he behaved with
great bravery, failed of his purpose. The Danish governor fired upon
him; and the Dutch, having had leisure to fortify themselves, made a
gallant resistance.

The king of Denmark, seemingly ashamed of his conduct, concluded with
Sir Gilbert Talbot, the English envoy, an offensive alliance against
the states; and at the very same time, his resident at the Hague, by his
orders, concluded an offensive alliance against England. To this latter
alliance he adhered, probably from jealousy of the increasing naval
power of England; and he seized and confiscated all the English ships in
his harbors. This was a sensible check to the advantages which Charles
had obtained over the Dutch. Not only a blow was given to the English
commerce; the king of Denmark's naval force was also considerable, and
threatened every moment a conjunction with the Hollanders. That prince
stipulated to assist his ally with a fleet of thirty sail; and he
received in return a yearly subsidy of one million five hundred thousand
crowns, of which three hundred thousand were paid by France.

The king endeavored to counterbalance these confederacies by acquiring
new friends and allies. He had despatched Sir Richard Fanshaw into
Spain, who met with a very cold reception. That monarchy was sunk into
a state of weakness, and was menaced with an invasion from France;
yet could not any motive prevail with Philip to enter into cordial
friendship with England. Charles's alliance with Portugal, the detention
of Jamaica and Tangiers, the sale of Dunkirk to the French, all these
offences sunk so deep in the mind of the Spanish monarch, that no motive
of interest was sufficient to outweigh them.

The bishop of Munster was the only ally that Charles could acquire. This
prelate, a man of restless enterprise and ambition, had entertained a
violent animosity against the states and he was easily engaged, by
the promise of subsidies from England, to make an incursion on that
republic. With a tumultuary army of near twenty thousand men, he invaded
her territories, and met with weak resistance. The land forces of the
states were as feeble and ill governed, as their fleets were gallant
and formidable. But after his committing great ravages in several of the
provinces, a stop was put to the progress of this warlike prelate.
He had not military skill sufficient to improve the advantages which
fortune had put into his hands: the king of France sent a body of six
thousand men to oppose him: subsidies were not regularly remitted him
from England; and many of his troops deserted for want of pay: the
elector of Brandenburgh threatened him with an invasion in his own
state; and on the whole, he was glad to conclude a peace under the
mediation of France. On the first surmise of his intentions, Sir
William Temple was sent from London with money to fix him in his former
alliance; but found that he arrived too late.

The Dutch, encouraged by all these favorable circumstances, continued
resolute to exert themselves to the utmost in their own defence. De
Ruyter, their great admiral, was arrived from his expedition to Guinea:
their Indian fleet was come home in safety: their harbors were crowded
with merchant ships: faction at home was appeased: the young prince of
Orange had put himself under the tuition of the states of Holland,
and of De Wit, their pensionary, who executed his trust with honor and
fidelity; and the animosity which the Hollanders entertained against
the attack of the English, so unprovoked, as they thought it, made
them thirst for revenge, and hope for better success in their next
enterprise. Such vigor was exerted in the common cause, that, in order
to man the fleet, all merchant ships were prohibited to sail, and even
the fisheries were suspended.[*]

     * Tromp's Life. D'Estrades February 5, 1665.

The English likewise continued in the same disposition, though another
more grievous calamity had joined itself to that of war. The plague had
broken out in London; and that with such violence as to cut off, in a
year, near ninety thousand inhabitants. The king was obliged to summon
the Parliament at Oxford.

A good agreement still subsisted between the king and parliament. They,
on their part, unanimously voted him the supply demanded, twelve
hundred and fifty thousand pounds, to be levied in two years by monthly
assessments. And he, to gratify them, passed the five-mile act, which
has given occasion to grievous and not unjust complaints. The church,
under pretence of guarding monarchy against its inveterate enemies,
persevered in the project of wreaking her own enmity against the
nonconformists. It was enacted, that no dissenting teacher, who took not
the nonresistance oath above mentioned, should, except upon the road,
come within five miles of any corporation, or of any place, where he
had preached after the act of oblivion. The penalty was a fine of fifty
pounds, and six months' imprisonment. By ejecting the nonconforming
clergy from their churches, and prohibiting all separate congregations,
they had been rendered incapable of gaining any livelihood by their
spiritual profession. And now, under color of removing them from places
where their influence might be dangerous, an expedient was fallen upon
to deprive them of all means of subsistence. Had not the spirit of the
nation undergone a change, these violences were preludes to the most
furious persecution.

However prevalent the hierarchy, this law did not pass without
opposition. Besides several peers, attached to the old parliamentary
party, Southampton himself, though Clarendon's great friend, expressed
his disapprobation of these measures. But the church party, not
discouraged with this opposition, introduced into the house of commons a
bill for imposing the oath of nonresistance on the whole nation. It was
rejected only by three voices. The parliament, after a short session,
was prorogued.

{1666.} After France had declared war, England was evidently overmatched
in force. Yet she possessed this advantage by her situation, that she
lay between the fleets of her enemies, and might be able, by speedy and
well-concerted operations, to prevent their junction. But such was the
unhappy conduct of her commanders, or such the want of intelligence in
her ministers, that this circumstance turned rather to her prejudice.
Lewis had given orders to the duke of Beaufort, his admiral, to sail
from Toulon; and the French squadron under his command, consisting
of above forty sail,[*] was now commonly supposed to be entering the

     * D'Estrades, May 21, 1666.

The Dutch fleet, to the number of seventy-six sail, was at sea, under
the command of De Ruyter and Tromp, in order to join him. The duke of
Albemarle and Prince Rupert commanded the English fleet, which exceeded
not seventy-four sail. Albemarle, who, from his successes under the
protector, had too much learned to despise the enemy, proposed to
detach Prince Rupert with twenty ships, in order to oppose the duke
of Beaufort. Sir George Ayscue, well acquainted with the bravery and
conduct of De Ruyter, protested against the temerity of this resolution:
but Albemarle's authority prevailed. The remainder of the English set
sail to give battle to the Dutch; who, seeing the enemy advance quickly
upon them, cut their cables, and prepared for the combat. The battle
that ensued is one of the most memorable that we read of in story;
whether we consider its long duration, or the desperate courage with
which it was fought. Albemarle made here some atonement by his valor for
the rashness of the attempt. No youth, animated by glory and ambitious
hopes, could exert himself more than did this man, who was now in the
decline of life, and who had reached the summit of honors. We shall not
enter minutely into particulars. It will be sufficient to mention the
chief events of each day's engagement.

In the first day, Sir William Berkeley, vice-admiral, leading the van,
fell into the thickest of the enemy, was overpowered, and his ship
taken. He himself was found dead in his cabin, all covered with blood.
The English had the weather-gage of the enemy; but as the wind blew so
hard that they could not use their lower tier, they derived but small
advantage from this circumstance. The Dutch shot, however, fell chiefly
on their sails and rigging; and few ships were sunk or much damaged.
Chain-shot was at that time a new invention; commonly attributed to De
Wit. Sir John Harman exerted himself extremely on this day. The Dutch
admiral, Evertz, was killed in engaging him. Darkness parted the

The second day, the wind was somewhat fallen, and the combat became more
steady and more terrible. The English now found, that the greatest valor
cannot compensate the superiority of numbers, against an enemy who is
well conducted, and who is not defective in courage. De Ruyter and Van
Tromp, rivals in glory and enemies from faction, exerted themselves in
emulation of each other; and De Ruyter had the advantage of disengaging
and saving his antagonist, who had been surrounded by the English, and
was in the most imminent danger. Sixteen fresh ships joined the Dutch
fleet during the action: and the English were so shattered, that their
fighting ships were reduced to twenty-eight, and they found themselves
obliged to retreat towards their own coast. The Dutch followed them,
and were on the point of renewing the combat; when a calm, which came a
little before night, prevented the engagement.

Next morning, the English were obliged to continue their retreat; and a
proper disposition was made for that purpose. The shattered ships were
ordered to stretch ahead; and sixteen of the most entire followed them
in good order, and kept the enemy in awe. Albemarle himself closed the
rear, and presented an undaunted countenance to his victorious foes.
The earl of Ossory, son of Ormond, a gallant youth, who sought honor
and experience in every action throughout Europe, was then on board the
admiral. Albemarle confessed to him his intention rather to blow up his
ship and perish gloriously, than yield to the enemy. Ossory applauded
this desperate resolution.

About two o'clock, the Dutch had come up with their enemy, and were
ready to renew the fight; when a new fleet was descried from the
south, crowding all their sail to reach the scene of action. The Dutch
flattered themselves that Beaufort was arrived to cut off the retreat of
the vanquished: the English hoped, that Prince Rupert had come, to turn
the scale of action. Albemarle, who had received intelligence of the
prince's approach, bent his course towards him. Unhappily, Sir George
Ayscue, in a ship of a hundred guns, the largest in the fleet, struck
on the Galloper sands, and could receive no assistance from his friends,
who were hastening to join the reenforcement. He could not even reap
the consolation of perishing with honor, and revenging his death on his
enemies. They were preparing fireships to attack him, and he was obliged
to strike. The English sailors, seeing the necessity, with the utmost
indignation surrendered themselves prisoners.

Albemarle and Prince Rupert were now determined to face the enemy; and
next morning, the battle began afresh, with more equal force than ever,
and with equal valor. After long cannonading, the fleets came to a close
combat; which was continued with great violence, till parted by a mist.
The English retired first into their harbors.

Though the English, by their obstinate courage, reaped the chief honor
in this engagement it is somewhat uncertain who obtained the victory.
The Hollanders took a few ships; and having some appearances of
advantage, expressed their satisfaction by all the signs of triumph and
rejoicing. But as the English fleet was repaired in a little time, and
put to sea more formidable than ever, together with many of those ships
which the Dutch had boasted to have burned or destroyed, all Europe saw,
that those two brave nations were engaged in a contest which was not
likely, on either side, to prove decisive.

It was the conjunction alone of the French, that could give a decisive
superiority to the Dutch. In order to facilitate this conjunction, De
Ruyter, having repaired his fleet, posted himself at the mouth of the
Thames. The English, under Prince Rupert and Albemarle, were not long in
coming to the attack. The numbers of each fleet amounted to about eighty
sail; and the valor and experience of the commanders, as well as of the
seamen, rendered the engagement fierce and obstinate. Sir Thomas Allen,
who commanded the white squadron of the English, attacked the Dutch van,
which he entirely routed; and he killed the three admirals who commanded
it. Van Tromp engaged Sir Jeremy Smith; and during the heat of action,
he was separated from De Ruyter and the main body, whether by accident
or design was never certainly known. De Ruyter, with conduct and valor,
maintained the combat against the main body of the English; and,
though overpowered by numbers, kept his station, till night ended the
engagement. Next day, finding the Dutch fleet scattered and discouraged,
his high spirit submitted to a retreat, which yet he conducted with
such skill, as to render it equally honorable to himself as the greatest
victory. Full of indignation, however, at yielding the superiority to
the enemy, he frequently exclaimed, "My God! what a wretch am I! Among
so many thousand bullets, is there not one to put an end to my miserable
life?" One De Witte, his son-in-law, who stood near, exhorted him, since
he sought death, to turn upon the English, and render his life a dear
purchase to the victors. But De Ruyter esteemed it more worthy a brave
man to persevere to the uttermost, and, as long as possible, to render
service to his country. All that night and next day, the English pressed
upon the rear of the Dutch; and it was chiefly by the redoubled efforts
of De Ruyter, that the latter saved themselves in their harbors.

The loss sustained by the Hollanders in this action was not very
considerable; but as violent animosities had broken out
between the two admirals, who engaged all the officers on one side or
other, the consternation which took place was great among the provinces.
Tromp's commission was at last taken from him; but though several
captains had misbehaved, they were so effectually protected by their
friends in the magistracy of the towns, that most of them escaped
punishment, and many were still continued in their commands.

The English now rode incontestable masters of the sea, and insulted the
Dutch in their harbors. A detachment under Holmes was sent into the road
of Vlie, and burned a hundred and forty merchantmen, two men-of-war,
together with Brandaris, a large and rich village on the coast. The
Dutch merchants, who lost by this enterprise, uniting themselves to
the Orange faction, exclaimed against an administration which, they
pretended, had brought such disgrace and ruin on their country. None but
the firm and intrepid mind of De Wit could have supported itself under
such a complication of calamities.

The king of France, apprehensive that the Dutch would sink under their
misfortunes, at least that De Wit, his friend, might be dispossessed of
the administration, hastened the advance of the duke of Beaufort. The
Dutch fleet likewise was again equipped; and under the command of
De Ruyter, cruised near the Straits of Dover. Prince Rupert with the
English navy, now stronger than ever, came full sail upon them. The
Dutch admiral thought proper to decline the combat, and retired into St.
John's road, near Bulloigne. Here he sheltered himself, both from the
English, and from a furious storm which arose. Prince Rupert, too, was
obliged to retire into St. Helens; where he staid some time, in order
to repair the damages which he had sustained. Meanwhile the duke
of Beaufort proceeded up the Channel, and passed the English fleet
unperceived; but he did not find the Dutch, as he expected. De Ruyter
had been seized with a fever: many of the chief officers had fallen into
sickness: a contagious distemper was spread through the fleet: and the
states thought it necessary to recall them into their harbors, before
the enemy should be refitted. The French king, anxious for his navy,
which with so much care and industry he had so lately built, despatched
orders to Beaufort, to make the best of his way to Brest. That admiral
had again the good fortune to pass the English. One ship alone, the
Ruby, fell into the hands of the enemy.

While the war continued without any decisive success on either side,
a calamity happened in London which threw the people into great
consternation. Fire, breaking out in a baker's house near the bridge,
spread itself on all sides with such rapidity, that no efforts could
extinguish it, till it laid in ashes a considerable part of the city.
The inhabitants, without being able to provide effectually for their
relief, were reduced to be spectators of their own ruin; and were
pursued from street to street by the flames, which unexpectedly gathered
round them. Three days and nights did the fire advance; and it was only
by the blowing up of houses that it was at last extinguished. The king
and duke used their utmost endeavors to stop the progress of the flames;
but all their industry was unsuccessful. About four hundred streets and
thirteen thousand houses were reduced to ashes.

The causes of this calamity were evident. The narrow streets of London,
the houses built entirely of wood, the dry season, and a violent east
wind which blew; these were so many concurring circumstances, which
rendered it easy to assign the reason of the destruction that ensued.
But the people were not satisfied with this obvious account. Prompted
by blind rage, some ascribed the guilt to the republicans, others to the
Catholics; though it is not easy to conceive how the burning of London
could serve the purposes of either party. As the Papists were the chief
objects of public detestation, the rumor which threw the guilt on them
was more favorably received by the people. No proof, however, or even
presumption, after the strictest inquiry by a committee of parliament,
ever appeared to authorize such a calumny; yet, in order to give
countenance to the popular prejudice, the inscription, engraved by
authority on the monument, ascribed this calamity to that hated sect.
This clause was erased by order of King James, when he came to the
throne; but after the revolution it was replaced: so credulous, as well
as obstinate, are the people in believing every thing which flatters
their prevailing passion.

The fire of London, though at that time a great calamity, has proved
in the issue beneficial both to the city and the kingdom. The city was
rebuilt in a very little time; and care was taken to make the streets
wider and more regular than before. A discretionary power was assumed
by the king to regulate the distribution of the buildings, and to forbid
the use of lath and timber, the materials of which the houses were
formerly composed. The necessity was so urgent, and the occasion so
extraordinary that no exceptions were taken at an exercise of authority
which otherwise might have been deemed illegal. Had the king been
enabled to carry his power still further, and made the houses be
rebuilt with perfect regularity, and entirely upon one plan, he had much
contributed to the convenience, as well as embellishment of the city.
Great advantages, however, have resulted from the alterations though not
carried to the full length. London became much more healthy after the
fire. The plague, which used to break out with great fury twice or
thrice every century, and indeed was always lurking in some corner or
other of the city, has scarcely ever appeared since that calamity.

The parliament met soon after, and gave the sanction of law to those
regulations made by royal authority; as well as appointed commissioners
for deciding all such questions of property as might arise from the
fire. They likewise voted a supply of one million eight hundred thousand
pounds, to be levied, partly by a poll-bill, partly by assessments.
Though their inquiry brought out no proofs which could fix on the
Papists the burning of London, the general aversion against that
sect still prevailed; and complaints were made, probably without much
foundation, of its dangerous increase. Charles, at the desire of the
commons, issued a proclamation for the banishment of all priests and
Jesuits; but the bad execution of this, as well as of former edicts,
destroyed all confidence in his sincerity, whenever he pretended an
aversion towards the Catholic religion. Whether suspicions of this
nature had diminished the king's popularity, is uncertain; but it
appears that the supply was voted much later than Charles expected, or
even than the public necessities seemed to require. The intrigues of
the duke of Buckingham, a man who wanted only steadiness to render him
extremely dangerous, had somewhat embarrassed the measures of the court:
and this was the first time that the king found any considerable reason
to complain of a failure of confidence in this house of commons. The
rising symptoms of ill humor tended, no doubt, to quicken the steps
which were already making towards a peace with foreign enemies.

Charles began to be sensible, that all the ends for which the war had
been undertaken were likely to prove entirely abortive. The Dutch, even
when single, had defended themselves with vigor, and were every day
improving in their military skill and preparations.

{1667.} Though their trade had suffered extremely, their extensive
credit enabled them to levy great sums; and while the seamen of England
loudly complained of want of pay, the Dutch navy was regularly supplied
with money and every thing requisite for its subsistence. As two
powerful kings now supported them, every place, from the extremity of
Norway to the coasts of Bayonne, was become hostile to the English. And
Charles, neither fond of action, nor stimulated by any violent ambition,
earnestly sought for means of restoring tranquillity to his people,
disgusted with a war, which, being joined with the plague and fire, had
proved so fruitless and destructive.

The first advances towards an accommodation were made by England. When
the king sent for the body of Sir William Berkeley, he insinuated to
the states his desire of peace on reasonable terms; and their answer
corresponded in the same amicable intentions. Charles, however, to
maintain the appearance of superiority, still insisted that the states
should treat at London; and they agreed to make him this compliment
so far as concerned themselves: but being engaged in alliance with two
crowned heads, they could not, they said, prevail with these to depart
in that respect from their dignity. On a sudden, the king went so far on
the other side as to offer the sending of ambassadors to the Hague; but
this proposal, which seemed honorable to the Dutch, was meant only to
divide and distract them, by affording the English an opportunity to
carry on cabals with the disaffected party. The offer was therefore
rejected; and conferences were secretly held in the queen mother's
apartments at Paris, where the pretensions of both parties were
discussed. The Dutch made equitable proposals; either that all things
should be restored to the same condition in which they stood before the
war, or that both parties should continue in possession of their present
acquisitions. Charles accepted of the latter proposal; and almost every
thing was adjusted, except the disputes with regard to the Isle of
Polerone. This island lies in the East Indies, and was formerly valuable
for its produce of spices. The English had been masters of it, but were
dispossessed at the time when the violences were committed against
them at Amboyna. Cromwell had stipulated to have it restored; and
the Hollanders, having first entirely destroyed all the spice trees,
maintained that they had executed the treaty, but that the English had
been anew expelled during the course of the war. Charles renewed his
pretensions to this island; and as the reasons on both sides began to
multiply, and seemed to require a long discussion, it was agreed to
transfer the treaty to some other place; and Charles made choice of

Lord Hollis and Henry Coventry were the English ambassadors. They
immediately desired that a suspension of arms should be agreed to, till
the several claims should be adjusted; but this proposal, seemingly
so natural, was rejected by the credit of De Wit. That penetrating and
active minister, thoroughly acquainted with the characters of princes
and the situation of affairs, had discovered an opportunity of striking
a blow, which might at once restore to the Dutch the honor lost during
the war, and severely revenge those injuries which he ascribed to the
wanton ambition and injustice of the English.

Whatever projects might have been formed by Charles for secreting
the money granted him by parliament, he had hitherto failed in his
intention. The expenses of such vast armaments had exhausted all the
supplies,[*] and even a great debt was contracted to the seamen. The
king, therefore, was resolved to save, as far as possible, the last
supply of one million eight hundred thousand pounds; and to employ it
for payment of his debts, as well those which had been occasioned by the
war, as those which he had formerly contracted. He observed, that the
Dutch had been with great reluctance forced into the war, and that the
events of it were not such as to inspire them with great desire of its
continuance. The French, he knew, had been engaged into hostilities by
no other motive than that of supporting their ally; and were now more
desirous than ever of putting an end to the quarrel. The differences
between the parties were so inconsiderable, that the conclusion of peace
appeared infallible; and nothing but forms, at least some vain points of
honor, seemed to remain for the ambassadors at Breda to discuss. In
this situation, Charles, moved by an ill-timed frugality, remitted his
preparations, and exposed England to one of the greatest affronts which
it has ever received. Two small squadrons alone were equipped, and
during a war with such potent and martial enemies, every thing was
left almost in the same situation as in times of the most profound

     * The Dutch had spent on the war near forty millions of
     livres a year, about three millions sterling; a much greater
     sum than had been granted by the English parliament.
     D'Estrades, December 24 1665. January 1, 1666. Temple, vol.
     i. p. 71. It was probably the want of money which engaged
     the king to pay the seamen with tickets; a contrivance which
     proved so much to their loss.

De Wit protracted the negotiations at Breda, and hastened the naval
preparations. The Dutch fleet appeared in the Thames, under the command
of De Ruyter, and threw the English into the utmost consternation. A
chain had been drawn across the River Medway; some fortifications had
been added to Sheerness and Upnore Castle; but all these preparations
were unequal to the present necessity. Sheerness was soon taken; nor
could it be saved by the valor of Sir Edward Sprague, who defended it.
Having the advantage of a spring tide and an easterly wind, the Dutch
pressed on, and broke the chain, though fortified by some ships, which
had been there sunk by orders of the duke of Albemarle. They burned the
three ships which lay to guard the chain--the Matthias, the Unity, and
the Charles V. After damaging several vessels, and possessing themselves
of the hull of the Royal Charles, which the English had burned, they
advanced with six men-of-war and five fireships as far as Upnore Castle,
where they burned the Royal Oak, the Loyal London, and the Great James.
Captain Douglas, who commanded on board the Royal Oak, perished in the
flames, though he had an easy opportunity of escaping. "Never was it
known," he said, "that a Douglas had left his post without orders."[*]
The Hollanders fell down the Medway without receiving any considerable
damage; and it was apprehended, that they might next tide sail up the
Thames, and extend their hostilities even to the bridge of London. Nine
ships were sunk at Woolwich, four at Blackwall: platforms were raised in
many places, furnished with artillery; the train bands were called out,
and every place was in a violent agitation. The Dutch sailed next to
Portsmouth, where they made a fruitless attempt: they met with no better
success at Plymouth: they insulted Harwich: they sailed again up the
Thames as far as Tilbury, where they were repulsed. The whole coast was
in alarm; and had the French thought proper at this time to join the
Dutch fleet, and to invade England, consequences the most fatal might
justly have been apprehended. But Lewis had no intention to push the
victory to such extremities. His interest required that a balance
should be kept between the two maritime powers; not that an uncontrolled
superiority should be given to either.

     * Temple, vol. ii. p. 41.

Great indignation prevailed amongst the English, to see an enemy, whom
they regarded as inferior, whom they had expected totally to subdue,
and over whom they had gained many honorable advantages, now of a sudden
ride undisputed masters of the ocean, burn their ships in their very
harbors, fill every place with confusion, and strike a terror into the
capital itself. But though the cause of all these disasters could be
ascribed neither to bad fortune, to the misconduct of admirals, nor to
the ill behavior of seamen, but solely to the avarice, at least to the
improvidence, of the government, no dangerous symptoms of discontent
appeared, and no attempt for an insurrection was made by any of those
numerous sectaries who had been so openly branded for their rebellious
principles, and who, upon that supposition, had been treated with such

     * Some nonconformists, however, both in Scotland and
     England, had kept a correspondence with the states, and had
     entertained projects for insurrections; but they were too
     weak even to attempt the execution of them. D'Estrades,
     October 13, 1665.

In the present distress, two expedients were embraced: an army of twelve
thousand men was suddenly levied; and the parliament, though it lay
under prorogation, was summoned to meet. The houses were very thin; and
the only vote which the commons passed, was an address for breaking the
army; which was complied with. This expression of jealousy showed the
court what they might expect from that assembly; and it was thought more
prudent to prorogue them till next winter.

But the signing of the treaty at Breda extricated the king from his
present difficulties. The English ambassadors received orders to recede
from those demands, which, how ever frivolous in themselves, could not
now be relinquished without acknowledging a superiority in the enemy.
Polerone remained with the Dutch; satisfaction for the ships Bonaventure
and Good Hope, the pretended grounds of the quarrel, was no longer
insisted on; Acadie was yielded to the French. The acquisition of
New York, a settlement so important by its situation, was the chief
advantage which the English reaped from a war, in which the national
character of bravery had shone out with lustre, but where the misconduct
of the government, especially in the conclusion, had been no less

To appease the people by some sacrifice seemed requisite before the
meeting of parliament; and the prejudices of the nation pointed out the
victim. The chancellor was at this time much exposed to the hatred
of the public, and of every party which divided the nation. All the
numerous sectaries regarded him as their determined enemy; and ascribed
to his advice and influence those persecuting laws to which they had
lately been exposed. The Catholics knew, that while he retained any
authority, all their credit with the king and the duke would be entirely
useless to them, nor must they ever expect any favor or indulgence. Even
the royalists, disappointed in their sanguine hopes of preferment, threw
a great load of envy on Clarendon, into whose hands the king seemed
at first to have resigned the whole power of government. The sale of
Dunkirk, the bad payment of the seamen, the disgrace at Chatham, the
unsuccessful conclusion of the war all these misfortunes were charged on
the chancellor, who though he had ever opposed the rupture with Holland,
thought it still his duty to justify what he could not prevent. A
building, likewise, of more expense and magnificence than his slender
fortune could afford, being unwarily undertaken by him, much exposed him
to public reproach, as if he had acquired great riches by corruption.
The populace gave it commonly the appellation of Dunkirk House.

[Illustration: 1-781-chatham.jpg CHATHAM]

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

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

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

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
reestablishment 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

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.


[Illustration: 1-802-hyde-park.jpg  HYDE PARK]


{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

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

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

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

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

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

     * 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

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

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

     * 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

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

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:
Conde, 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

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'Etrees. 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'Etrees, 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

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. Conde
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, Goree, 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

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'Etrees. 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'Etrees, 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'Etrees 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

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.



{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 reenforcement 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

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

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
Conde, 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 Conde 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 Conde, 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
Conde, 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

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 Conde. 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 Conde left the army in Flanders under the command
of Luxembourg; and carrying with him a considerable reenforcement,
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

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 Conde, 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

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

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

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.

     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, Conde, 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, Conde, 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

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, reestablish, 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

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

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

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!


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

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

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

     * 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

[Illustration: 1-822-sharpe.jpg  ARCHBISHOP SHARPE]

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



{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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



{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

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

     * 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

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

{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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
extraordinary council, and informed them, that Monmouth had showed great
penitence for the share which he had had in the late conspiracy, and
had expressed his resolutions never more to engage in such criminal
enterprises. He went so far as to give orders, that a paragraph to the
like purpose should be inserted in the gazette. Monmouth kept silence
till he had obtained his pardon in form: but finding that, by taking
this step, he was entirely disgraced with his party, and that, even
though he should not be produced in court as an evidence, his testimony,
being so publicly known might have weight with juries on any future
trial, he resolved at all hazards to retrieve his honor. His emissaries,
therefore received orders to deny that he had ever made any such
confession as that which was imputed to him; and the party exclaimed
that the whole was an imposture of the court. The king, provoked at this
conduct, banished Monmouth his presence, and afterwards ordered him to
depart the kingdom.

The court was aware, that the malecontents in England had held a
correspondence with those of Scotland; and that Baillie of Jerviswood,
a man of merit and learning, with two gentlemen of the name of Campbell,
had come to London, under pretence of negotiating the settlement of the
Scottish Presbyterians in Carolina, but really with a view of concerting
measures with the English conspirators. Baillie was sent prisoner to
Edinburgh; but as no evidence appeared against him, the council required
him to swear, that he would answer all questions which should be
propounded to him. He refused to submit to so iniquitous a condition;
and a fine of six thousand pounds was imposed upon him. At length two
persons, Spence and Carstares, being put to the torture, gave evidence
which involved the earl of Tarras and some others, who, in order to save
themselves, were reduced to accuse Baillie. He was brought to trial; and
being in so languishing a condition from the treatment which he had met
with in prison, that it was feared he would not survive that night,
he was ordered to be executed the very afternoon on which he received

The severities exercised during this part of the present reign, were
much contrary to the usual tenor of the king's conduct; and though those
who studied his character more narrowly, have pronounced, that towards
great offences he was rigid and inexorable, the nation were more
inclined to ascribe every unjust or hard measure to the prevalence of
the duke, into whose hands the king had, from indolence, not from
any opinion of his brother's superior capacity, resigned the reins of
government. The crown, indeed, gained great advantage from the detection
of the conspiracy, and lost none by the rigorous execution of the
conspirators: the horror entertained against the assassination plot,
which was generally confounded with the project for an insurrection,
rendered the whole party unpopular and reconciled the nation to the
measures of the court. The most loyal addresses came from all parts;
and the doctrine of submission to the civil magistrate, and even of an
unlimited passive obedience, became the reigning principle of the
times. The university of Oxford passed a solemn decree, condemning some
doctrines which they termed republican, but which indeed are, most of
them, the only tenets on which liberty and a limited constitution can be
founded. The faction of the exclusionists, lately so numerous, powerful,
and zealous, were at the king's feet; and were as much fallen in their
spirit as in their credit with the nation. Nothing that had the least
appearance of opposition to the court could be hearkened to by the

     * In the month of November this year died Prince Rupert, in
     the sixty-third year of his age. He had left his own country
     so early, that he had become an entire Englishman; and was
     even suspected, in his latter days, of a bias to the country
     party. He was for that reason much neglected at court. The
     duke of Lauderdale died also this year.

{1684.} The king endeavored to increase his present popularity by every
art; and knowing that the suspicion of Popery was of all others the most
dangerous, he judged it proper to marry his niece, the Lady Anne, to
Prince George, brother to the king of Denmark. All the credit, however,
and persuasion of Halifax could not engage him to call a parliament, or
trust the nation with the election of a new representative. Though his
revenues were extremely burdened, he rather chose to struggle with the
present difficulties, than try an experiment which, by raising afresh
so many malignant humors, might prove dangerous to his repose. The duke
likewise zealously opposed this proposal, and even engaged the king in
measures which could have no tendency, but to render any accommodation
with a parliament altogether impracticable. Williams, who had been
speaker during the two last parliaments, was prosecuted for warrants
issued by him in obedience to orders of the house: a breach of privilege
which it seemed not likely any future house of commons would leave
unquestioned. Danby and the Popish lords, who had so long been confined
in the Tower, and who saw no prospect of a trial in parliament, applied
by petition, and were admitted to bail; a measure just in itself, but
deemed a great encroachment on the privileges of that assembly. The
duke, contrary to law, was restored to the office of high admiral
without taking the test.

Had the least grain of jealousy or emulation been mixed in the king's
character; had he been actuated by that concern for his people's or
even for his own honor, which his high station demanded; he would have
hazarded many domestic inconveniencies rather than allow France to
domineer in so haughty a manner as that which at present she assumed in
every negotiation. The peace of Nimeguen, imposed by the Dutch on their
unwilling allies, had disjointed the whole confederacy; and all the
powers engaged in it had disbanded their supernumerary troops, which
they found it difficult to subsist. Lewis alone still maintained a
powerful army, and by his preparations rendered himself every day more
formidable. He now acted as if he were the sole sovereign in Europe,
and as if all other princes were soon to become his vassals. Courts or
chambers were erected in Metz and Brisac, for reuniting such territories
as had ever been members of any part of his new conquests. They made
inquiry into titles buried in the most remote antiquity. They cited the
neighboring princes to appear before them, and issued decrees, expelling
them the contested territories. The important town of Strasbourg, an
ancient and a free state, was seized by Lewis: Alost was demanded of the
Spaniards, on a frivolous and even ridiculous pretence; and upon their
refusal to yield it, Luxembourg was blockaded, and soon after taken.[*]
Genoa had been bombarded, because the Genoese had stipulated to build
some galleys for the Spaniards; and, in order to avoid more severe
treatment, that republic was obliged to yield to the most mortifying
conditions. The empire was insulted in its head and principal members;
and used no other expedient for redress, than impotent complaints and

     * It appears from Sir John Dalrymple's Appendix, that the
     king received from France a million of livres for his
     connivance at the seizure of Luxembourg, besides his
     ordinary pension.

Spain was so enraged at the insolent treatment which she met with, that,
without considering her present weak condition she declared war against
her haughty enemy: she hoped that the other powers of Europe, sensible
of the common danger, would fly to her assistance. The prince of Orange,
whose ruling passions were love of war and animosity against Prance,
seconded every where the applications of the Spaniards. In the year
1681, he made a journey to England, in order to engage the king into
closer measures with the confederates. He also proposed to the states to
make an augmentation of their forces; but several of the provinces,
and even the town of Amsterdam, had been gained by the French, and the
proposal was rejected. The prince's enemies derived the most plausible
reasons of their opposition from the situation of England, and the known
and avowed attachments of the English monarch.

No sooner had Charles dismissed his parliament, and embraced the
resolution of governing by prerogative alone, than he dropped his new
alliance with Spain, and returned to his former dangerous connections
with Lewis. This prince had even offered to make him arbiter of his
differences with Spain; and the latter power, sensible of Charles's
partiality, had refused to submit to such a disadvantageous proposal.
Whether any money was now remitted to England, we do not certainly know;
but we may fairly presume, that the king's necessities were in some
degree relieved by France.[*] And though Charles had reason to apprehend
the utmost danger from the great, and still increasing naval power of
that kingdom, joined to the weak condition of the English fleet, no
consideration was able to rouse him from his present lethargy.

     * The following passage is an extract from M. Barillon's
     letters kept in the Depot des Affaires etrangeres at
     Versailles. It was lately communicated to the author while
     in France. "Convention verbale arretee le 1 Avril 1681.
     Charles 2 s'engage a ne rien omettre pour pouvoir faire
     connoitre a sa majeste qu'elle avoit raison de prendre
     confiance en lui; a se degager peu-a-peu de l'alliance avec
     l'Espagne, et a se mettre en etat de ne point etre contraint
     par son parlement de faire quelque chose d'oppose aux
     nouveaux engagemens qu'il prenoit. En consequence, le roi
     promet un subside de deux millions la premiere des trois
     annees de cet engagement, et 500,000 ecus les deux autres se
     contentant de la parole de sa majeste Britannique, d'agir a
     l'egard de sa majeste conformement aux obligations qu'il lui
     avoit. Le Sr. Hyde demanda que le roi s'engagea a ne point
     attaquer les pays bas et meme Strasbourg, ternoignant que le
     roi son maitre ne pournoit s'empecher de secourir les pais
     bas, quand meme son parlement ne seroit point assemble. M.
     Barillon lui repondit en termes generaux par ordre du roi,
     que sa majeste n'avoit point intention de rompre la paix, et
     qu'il n'engageroit pas sa majeste Britannique en choses
     contraires a ses veritables interets."

It is here we are to fix the point of the highest exaltation which
the power of Lewis, or that of any European prince since the age of
Charlemagne, had ever attained. The monarch most capable of opposing his
progress was entirely engaged in his interests; and the Turks, invited
by the malecontents of Hungary, were preparing to invade the emperor,
and to disable that prince from making head against the progress of
the French power. Lewis may even be accused of oversight, in not making
sufficient advantage of such favorable opportunities, which he was never
afterwards able to recall. But that monarch, though more governed by
motives of ambition than by those of justice or moderation, was still
more actuated by the suggestions of vanity. He contented himself with
insulting and domineering over all the princes and free states of
Europe; and he thereby provoked their resentment, without subduing
their power. While every one who approached his person, and behaved with
submission to his authority, was treated with the highest politeness,
all the neighboring potentates had successively felt the effects of his
haughty, imperious disposition. And by indulging his poets, orators,
and courtiers in their flatteries, and in their prognostications of
universal empire, he conveyed faster, than by the prospect of his power
alone, the apprehension of general conquest and subjection.

{1685.} The French greatness never, during his whole reign, inspired
Charles with any apprehensions; and Clifford, it is said, one of his
most favored ministers, went so far as to affirm, that it were better
for the king to be viceroy under a great and generous monarch, than
a slave to five hundred of his own insolent subjects. The ambition,
therefore, and uncontrolled power of Lewis were no diminution of
Charles's happiness; and in other respects his condition seemed at
present more eligible than it had ever been since his restoration. A
mighty faction, which had shaken his throne and menaced his family,
was totally subdued; and by their precipitate indiscretion had exposed
themselves both to the rigor of the laws and to public hatred. He
had recovered his former popularity in the nation; and, what probably
pleased him more than having a compliant parliament, he was enabled to
govern altogether without one. But it is certain that the king, amidst
all these promising circumstances, was not happy or satisfied. Whether
he found himself exposed to difficulties for want of money, or dreaded
a recoil of the popular humor from the present arbitrary measures, is
uncertain. Perhaps the violent, imprudent temper of the duke, by pushing
Charles upon dangerous attempts, gave him apprehension and uneasiness.
He was over-heard one day to say, in opposing some of the duke's hasty
counsels, "Brother, I am too old to go again to my travels: you may, if
you choose it." Whatever was the cause of the king's dissatisfaction, it
seems probable that he was meditating some change of measures, and had
formed a new plan of administration. He was determined, it is
thought, to send the duke to Scotland, to recall Monmouth, to summon a
parliament, to dismiss all his unpopular ministers, and to throw himself
entirely on the good will and affections of his subjects.[*]

     * King James's Memoirs confirm this rumor, as also D'Avaux's
     Negotiations, 14 Dec. 1684.

Amidst these truly wise and virtuous designs, he was seized with a
sudden fit, which resembled an apoplexy; and though he was recovered
from it by bleeding, he languished only for a few days, and then
expired, in the fifty-fifth year of his age, and twenty-fifth of his
reign. He was so happy in a good constitution of body, and had ever been
so remarkably careful of his health, that his death struck as great a
surprise into his subjects as if he had been in the flower of his
youth. And their great concern for him, owing to their affection for his
person, as well as their dread of his successor, very naturally, when
joined to the critical time of his death, begat the suspicion of poison.
All circumstances, however, considered, this suspicion must be allowed
to vanish; like many others, of which all histories are full.

During the few days of the king's illness, clergymen of the church of
England attended him; but he discovered a total indifference towards
their devotions and exhortations. Catholic priests were brought, and he
received the sacrament from them, accompanied with the other rites of
the Romish church. Two papers were found in his cabinet, written with
his own hand, and containing arguments in favor of that communion. The
duke had the imprudence immediately to publish these papers, and thereby
both confirmed all the reproaches of those who had been the greatest
enemies to his brother's measures, and afforded to the world a specimen
of his own bigotry.

If we survey the character of Charles II. in the different lights which
it will admit of, it will appear various, and give rise to different and
even opposite sentiments. When considered as a companion, he appears
the most amiable and engaging of men; and indeed, in this view, his
deportment must be allowed altogether unexceptionable. His love
of raillery was so tempered with good breeding, that it was never
offensive; his propensity to satire was so checked with discretion, that
his friends never dreaded their becoming the object of it: his wit, to
use the expression of one who knew him well, and who was himself a good
judge,[*] could not be said so much to be very refined or elevated,
qualities apt to beget jealousy and apprehension in company, as to be
a plain, gaining, well-bred, recommending kind of wit. And though,
perhaps, he talked more than strict rules of behavior might permit, men
were so pleased with the affable communicative deportment of the monarch
that they always went away contented both with him and with themselves.

     * Marquis of Halifax.

This, indeed, is the most shining part of the king's character; and
he seems to have been sensible of it; for he was fond of dropping the
formality of state, and of relapsing every moment into the companion.

In the duties of private life, his conduct, though not free from
exception, was, in the main, laudable. He was an easy, generous lover, a
civil, obliging husband, a friendly brother, an indulgent father, and a
good-natured master.[* ]The voluntary friendships, however, which this
prince contracted, nay, even his sense of gratitude, were feeble; and
he never attached himself to any of his ministers or courtiers with a
sincere affection. He believed them to have no motive in serving him but
self-interest; and he was still ready, in his turn, to sacrifice them to
present ease or convenience.

     * Duke of Buckingham.

With a detail of his private character we must set bounds to our
panegyric on Charles. The other parts of his conduct may admit of some
apology, but can deserve small applause. He was indeed so much fitted
for private life, preferably to public, that he even possessed order,
frugality, and economy in the former; was profuse, thoughtless, and
negligent in the latter. When we consider him as a sovereign, his
character, though not altogether destitute of virtue, was in the main
dangerous to his people, and dishonorable to himself. Negligent of the
interests of the nation, careless of its glory, averse to its religion,
jealous of its liberty, lavish of its treasure, sparing only of its
blood, he exposed it by his measures, though he ever appeared but in
sport, to the danger of a furious civil war, and even to the ruin and
ignominy of a foreign conquest. Yet may all these enormities, if fairly
and candidly examined, be imputed, in a great measure, to the indolence
of his temper; a fault which, however unfortunate in a monarch, it is
impossible for us to regard with great severity.

It has been remarked of Charles, that he never said a foolish thing nor
ever did a wise one; a censure which, though too far carried, seems to
have some foundation in his character and deportment. When the king
was informed of this saying, he observed that the matter was easily
accounted for; for that his discourse was his own, his actions were the

If we reflect on the appetite for power inherent in human nature,
and add to it the king's education in foreign countries and among the
cavaliers, a party which would naturally exaggerate the late usurpations
of popular assemblies upon the rights of monarchy, it is not surprising
that civil liberty should not find in him a very zealous patron.
Harassed with domestic faction, weary of calumnies and complaints,
oppressed with debts, straitened in his revenue, he sought, though with
feeble efforts, for a form of government more simple in its structure
and more easy in its management. But his attachment to France, after all
the pains which we have taken by inquiry and conjecture to fathom
it, contains still something, it must be confessed, mysterious and
inexplicable. The hopes of rendering himself absolute by Lewis's
assistance seem so chimerical, that they could scarcely be retained with
such obstinacy by a prince of Charles's penetration: and as to pecuniary
subsidies, he surely spent much greater sums in one season, during the
second Dutch war, than were remitted him from France during the whole
course of his reign. I am apt, therefore, to imagine, that Charles was
in this particular guided chiefly by inclination, and by a prepossession
in favor of the French nation. He considered that people as gay,
sprightly, polite, elegant, courteous, devoted to their prince, and
attached to the Catholic faith; and for these reasons he cordially loved
them. The opposite character of the Dutch had rendered them the objects
of his aversion; and even the uncourtly humors of the English made him
very indifferent towards them. Our notions of interest are much warped
by our affections, and it is not altogether without example, that a man
may be guided by national prejudices, who has ever been little biased by
private and personal friendship.

The character of this prince has been elaborately drawn by two great
masters, perfectly well acquainted with him, the duke of Buckingham and
the marquis of Halifax; not to mention several elegant strokes given
by Sir William Temple. Dr Welwood, likewise, and Bishop Burnet have
employed their pencil on the same subject; but the former is somewhat
partial in his favor, as the latter is by far too harsh and malignant.
Instead of finding an exact parallel between Charles II. and the emperor
Tiberius, as asserted by that prelate, it would be more just to remark
a full contrast and opposition. The emperor seems as much to have
surpassed the king in abilities, as he falls short of him in virtue.
Provident, wise, active, jealous, malignant, dark, sullen, unsociable,
reserved, cruel, unrelenting, unforgiving these are the lights under
which the Roman tyrant has been transmitted to us. And the only
circumstance in which it can justly be pretended he was similar to
Charles, is his love of women, a passion which is too general to form
any striking resemblance, and which that detestable and detested monster
shared also with unnatural appetites.


[Illustration: 1-846-james2.jpg  JAMES II.]


{1685.} THE first act of James's reign was to assemble the privy
council; where, after some praises bestowed on the memory of his
predecessor, he made professions of his resolution to maintain the
established government, both in church and state. Though he had been
reported, he said, to have imbibed arbitrary principles, he knew that
the laws of England were sufficient to make him as great a monarch as he
could wish; and he was determined never to depart from them. And as
he had heretofore ventured his life in defence of the nation, he would
still go as far as any man in maintaining all its just rights and

This discourse was received with great applause, not only by the
council, but by the nation. The king universally passed for a man of
great sincerity and great honor; and as the current of favor ran at that
time for the court, men believed that his intentions were conformable to
his expressions. "We have now," it was said, "the word of a king, and a
word never yet broken." Addresses came from all quarters, full of duty,
nay, of the most servile adulation. Every one hastened to pay court to
the new monarch:[*] and James had reason to think, that, notwithstanding
the violent efforts made by so potent a party for his exclusion, no
throne in Europe was better established than that of England.

     * The Quakers' address was esteemed somewhat singular for
     its plainness and simplicity. It was conceived in these
     terms: "We are come to testify our sorrow for the death of
     our good friend Charles, and our joy for thy being made our
     governor. We are told thou art not of the persuasion of the
     church of England, no more than we, wherefore we hope thou
     wilt grant us the same liberty which thou allowest thyself.
     Which doing, we wish thee all manner of happiness."

The king, however, in the first exercise of his authority, showed, that
either he was not sincere in his professions of attachment to the laws,
or that he had entertained so lofty an idea of his own legal power, that
even his utmost sincerity would tend very little to secure the liberties
of the people. All the customs and the greater part of the excise
had been settled by parliament on the late king during life, and
consequently the grant was now expired; nor had the successor any right
to levy these branches of revenue. But James issued a proclamation,
ordering the customs and excise to be paid as before; and this exertion
of power he would not deign to qualify by the least act or even
appearance of condescension. It was proposed to him, that, in order to
prevent the ill effects of any intermission in levying these duties,
entries should be made, and bonds for the sums be taken from the
merchants and brewers; but the payment be suspended till the parliament
should give authority to receive it. This precaution was recommended as
an expression of deference to that assembly, or rather to the laws: but
for that very reason, probably, it was rejected by the king; who thought
that the commons would thence be invited to assume more authority, and
would regard the whole revenue, and consequently the whole power of the
crown, as dependent on their good will and pleasure.

The king likewise went openly, and with all the ensigns of his dignity,
to mass, an illegal meeting: and by this imprudence he displayed at once
his arbitrary disposition, and the bigotry of his principles; these two
great characteristics of his reign, and bane of his administration. He
even sent Caryl as his agent to Rome, in order to make submissions to
the pope, and to pave the way for a solemn readmission of England into
the bosom of the Catholic church. The pope, Innocent XI., prudently
advised the king not to be too precipitate in his measures, nor rashly
attempt what repeated experience might convince him was impracticable.
The Spanish ambassador, Ronquillo, deeming the tranquillity of England
necessary for the support of Spain, used the freedom to make like
remonstrances. He observed to the king how busy the priests appeared at
court, and advised him not to assent with too great facility to their
dangerous counsels. "Is it not the custom in Spain," said James, "for
the king to consult with his confessor?" "Yes," replied the ambassador;
"and it is for that very reason our affairs succeed so ill."

James gave hopes, on his accession, that he would hold the balance of
power more steadily than his predecessor; and that France, instead of
rendering England subservient to her ambitious projects, would now meet
with strong opposition from that kingdom. Besides applying himself
to business with industry, he seemed jealous of national honor; and
expressed great care that no more respect should be paid to the
French ambassador at London, than his own received at Paris. But these
appearances were not sufficiently supported; and he found himself
immediately under the necessity of falling into a union with that great
monarch, who, by his power as well as his zeal, seemed alone able to
assist him in the projects formed for promoting the Catholic religion in

Notwithstanding the king's prejudices, all the chief offices of the
crown continued still in the hands of Protestants. Rochester was
treasurer; his brother Clarendon chamberlain, Godolphin chamberlain
to the queen; Sunderland secretary of state; Halifax president of the
council. This nobleman had stood in opposition to James during the last
years of his brother's reign; and when he attempted, on the accession,
to make some apology for his late measures, the king told him that he
would forget every thing past, except his behavior during the bill
of exclusion. On other occasions, however, James appeared not of so
forgiving a temper. When the principal exclusionists came to pay their
respects to the new sovereign, they either were not admitted, or were
received very coldly, sometimes even with frowns. This conduct might
suit the character which the king so much affected, of sincerity; but
by showing that a king of England could resent the quarrels of a duke
of York, he gave his people no high idea either of his lenity or

On all occasions, the king was open in declaring, that men must now look
for a more active and more vigilant government, and that he would
retain no ministers who did not practise an unreserved obedience to
his commands. We are not indeed to look for the springs of his
administration so much in his council and chief officers of state, as
in his own temper, and in the character of those persons with whom he
secretly consulted. The queen had great influence over him; a woman of
spirit, whose conduct had been popular till she arrived at that high
dignity. She was much governed by the priests especially the Jesuits;
and as these were also the King's favorites, all public measures were
taken originally from the suggestions of these men, and bore evident
marks of their ignorance in government, and of the violence of their
religious zeal.

The king, however, had another attachment, seemingly not very consistent
with this devoted regard to his queen and to his priests: it was to
Mrs. Sedley, whom he soon after created countess of Dorchester, and
who expected to govern him with the same authority which the duchess
of Portsmouth had possessed during the former reign. But James, who had
entertained the ambition of converting his people, was told, that
the regularity of his life ought to correspond to the sanctity of his
intentions; and he was prevailed with to remove Mrs. Sedley from
court; a resolution in which he had not the courage to persevere. Good
agreement between the mistress and the confessor of princes is not
commonly a difficult matter to compass: but in the present case, these
two potent engines of command were found very incompatible. Mrs. Sedley,
who possessed all the wit and ingenuity of her father, Sir Charles made
the priests and their counsels the perpetual objects cf her raillery;
and it is not to be doubted but they, on their part, redoubled their
exhortations with their penitent to break off so criminal an attachment.

How little inclination soever the king, as well as his queen and
priests, might bear to an English parliament, it was absolutely
necessary, at the beginning of the reign, to summon that assembly. The
low condition to which the whigs, or country party, had fallen during
the last years of Charles's reign, the odium under which they labored on
account of the Rye-house conspiracy; these causes made that party meet
with little success in the elections. The general resignation, too,
of the charters had made the corporations extremely dependent; and the
recommendations of the court, though little assisted at that time
by pecuniary influence, were become very prevalent. The new house of
commons, therefore, consisted almost entirely of zealous tories and
churchmen; and were, of consequence, strongly biased by their affections
in favor of the measures of the crown.

The discourse which the king made to the parliament was more fitted to
work on their fears than their affections. He repeated, indeed, and with
great solemnity, the promise which he had made before the privy council,
of governing according to the laws, and of preserving the established
religion: but at the same time, he told them, that he positively
expected they would settle his revenue, and during life too, as in the
time of his brother. "I might use many arguments," said he, "to
enforce this demand; the benefit of trade, the support of the navy, the
necessities of the crown, and the well-being of the government itself,
which I must not suffer to be precarious, but I am confident, that your
own consideration, and your sense of what is just and reasonable, will
suggest to you whatever on this occasion might be enlarged upon. There
is indeed one popular argument," added he, "which may be urged against
compliance with my demand: men may think, that by feeding me from time
to time with such supplies as they think convenient, they will better
secure frequent meetings of parliament: but as this is the first time
I speak to you from the throne, I must plainly tell you, that such an
expedient would be very improper to employ with me; and that the best
way to engage me to meet you often, is always to use me well."

It was easy to interpret this language of the king's. He plainly
intimated, that he had resources in his prerogative for supporting the
government independent of their supplies; and that, so long as they
complied with his demands, he would have recourse to them; but that
any ill usage on their part would set him free from those measures
of government, which he seemed to regard more as voluntary than as
necessary. It must be confessed, that no parliament in England was ever
placed in a more critical situation, nor where more forcible arguments
could be urged, either for their opposition to the court, or their
compliance with it.

It was said on the one hand, that jealousy of royal power was the very
basis of the English constitution, and the principle to which the nation
was beholden for all that liberty which they enjoy above the subjects of
other monarchies: that this jealousy, though at different periods it may
be more or less intense, can never safely be laid asleep, even under
the best and wisest princes: that the character of the present sovereign
afforded cause for the highest vigilance, by reason of the arbitrary
principles which he had imbibed; and still more, by reason of his
religious zeal, which it is impossible for him ever to gratify without
assuming more authority than the constitution allows him: that power
is to be watched in its very first encroachments; nor is any thing ever
gained by timidity and submission: that every concession adds new
force to usurpation; and at the same time, by discovering the dastardly
dispositions of the people, inspires it with new courage and enterprise:
that as arms were intrusted altogether in the hands of the prince, no
check remained upon him but the dependent condition of his revenue;
a security, therefore, which it would be the most egregious folly
to abandon: that all the other barriers which of late years had been
erected against arbitrary power, would be found without this capital
article, to be rather pernicious and destructive: that new limitations
in the constitution stimulated the monarch's inclination to surmount the
laws, and required frequent meetings of parliament, in order to repair
all the breaches which either time or violence may have made upon that
complicated fabric: that recent experience during the reign of the
late king, a prince who wanted neither prudence nor moderation,
had sufficiently proved the solidity of all these maxims: that his
parliament, having rashly fixed his revenue for life, and at the same
time repealed the triennial bill, found that they themselves were
no longer of importance; and that liberty, not protected by national
assemblies, was exposed to every outrage and violation: and that the
more openly the king made an unreasonable demand, the more obstinately
ought it to be refused; since it is evident, that his purpose in making
it cannot possibly be justifiable.

On the other hand, it was urged, that the rule of watching the very
first encroachments of power could only have place where the opposition
to it could be regular, peaceful, and legal: that though the refusal of
the king's present demand might seem of this nature, yet in reality it
involved consequences which led much further than at first sight might
be apprehended: that the king in his speech had intimated, that he
had resources in his prerogative, which, in case of opposition from
parliament, he thought himself fully entitled to employ: that if the
parliament openly discovered an intention of reducing him to dependence,
matters must presently be brought to a crisis, at a time the most
favorable to his cause which his most sanguine wishes could ever have
promised him: that if we cast our eyes abroad to the state of affairs on
the continent, and to the situation of Scotland and Ireland; or, what
is of more importance, if we consider the disposition of men's minds at
home, every circumstance would be found adverse to the cause of liberty:
that the country party, during the late reign, by their violent, and in
many respects unjustifiable measures in parliament, by their desperate
attempts out of parliament, had exposed their principles to general
hatred, and had excited extreme jealousy in all the royalists and
zealous churchmen, who now formed the bulk of the nation: that it would
not be acceptable to that party to see this king worse treated than his
brother in point of revenue, or any attempts made to keep the crown in
dependence: that they thought parliaments as liable to abuse as courts;
and desired not to see things in a situation where the king could not,
if he found it necessary, either prorogue or dissolve those assemblies:
that if the present parliament, by making great concessions, could gain
the king's confidence, and engage him to observe the promises now given
them, every thing would by gentle methods succeed to their wishes: that
if, on the contrary, after such instances of compliance, he formed any
designs on the liberty and religion of the nation, he would, in the eyes
of all mankind, render himself altogether inexcusable, and the whole
people would join in opposition to him: that resistance could scarcely
be attempted twice; and there was therefore the greater necessity for
waiting till time and incidents had fully prepared the nation for
it: that the king's prejudices in favor of Popery, though in the main
pernicious, were yet so far fortunate, that they rendered the connection
inseparable between the national religion and national liberty: and that
if any illegal attempts were afterwards made, the church, which was at
present the chief support of the crown, would surely catch the alarm,
and would soon dispose the people to an effectual resistance.

These last reasons, enforced by the prejudices of party, prevailed
in parliament; and the common's, besides giving thanks for the king's
speech, voted unanimously, that they would settle on his present majesty
during life all the revenue enjoyed by the late king at the time of his
demise. That they might not detract from this generosity by any symptoms
of distrust, they also voted unanimously, that the house entirely relied
on his majesty's royal word and repeated declarations to support the
religion of the church of England; but they added, that that religion
was dearer to them than their lives. The speaker, in presenting the
revenue bill, took care to inform the king of their vote with regard to
religion; but could not, by so signal a proof of confidence, extort from
him one word in favor of that religion, on which, he told his majesty,
they set so high a value. Notwithstanding the grounds of suspicion
which this silence afforded, the house continued in the same liberal
disposition. The king having demanded a further supply for the navy and
other purposes, they revived those duties on wines and vinegar which had
once been enjoyed by the late king; and they added some impositions on
tobacco and sugar. This grant amounted on the whole to about six hundred
thousand pounds a year.

The house of lords were in a humor no less compliant. They even went
some lengths towards breaking in pieces all the remains of the Popish
plot, that once formidable engine[*] of bigotry and faction.

A little before the meeting of parliament, Oates had been tried for
perjury on two indictments; one for deposing, that he was present at a
consult of Jesuits in London the twenty-fourth of April, 1679; another
for deposing, that Father Ireland was in London between the eighth and
twelfth of August, and in the beginning of September, in the same year.
Never criminal was convicted on fuller and more undoubted evidence. Two
and twenty persons, who had been students at St. Omers, most of them men
of credit and family, gave evidence, that Oates had entered into that
seminary about Christmas in the year 1678, and had never been absent
but one night till the month of July following. Forty-seven witnesses,
persons also of untainted character, deposed that Father Ireland, on the
third of August, 1679, had gone to Staffordshire, where he resided till
the middle of September; and, what some years before would have been
regarded as a very material circumstance, nine of these witnesses were
Protestants of the church of England. Oates's sentence was, to be fined
a thousand marks on each indictment, to be whipped on two different days
from Aldgate to Newgate, and from Newgate to Tyburn, to be imprisoned
during life, and to be pilloried five times every year. The impudence of
the man supported itself under the conviction, and his courage under the
punishment. He made solemn appeals to Heaven, and protestations of the
veracity of his testimony: though the whipping was so cruel, that it
was evidently the intention of the court to put him to death by that
punishment, he was enabled, by the care of his friends, to recover; and
he lived to King William's reign, when a pension of four hundred pounds
a year was settled on him. A considerable number still adhered to him in
his distresses, and regarded him as the martyr of the Protestant cause.
The populace were affected with the sight of a punishment more severe
than is commonly inflicted in England. And the sentence of perpetual
imprisonment was deemed illegal.

The conviction of Oates's perjury was taken notice of by the house of
peers. Besides freeing the Popish lords, Powis, Arundel, Bellasis, and
Tyrone, together with Danby, from the former impeachment by the commons,
they went so far as to vote a reversal of Stafford's attainder,
on account of the falsehood of that evidence on which he had been
condemned. This bill fixed so deep a reproach on the former proceedings
of the exclusionists, that it met with great opposition among the lords;
and it was at last, after one reading, dropped by the commons. Though
the reparation of injustice be the second honor which a nation can
attain, the present emergence seemed very improper for granting so full
a justification to the Catholics, and throwing so foul a stain on the

The course of parliamentary proceedings was interrupted by the news of
Monmouth's arrival in the west with three ships from Holland. No sooner
was this intelligence conveyed to the parliament, than they voted that
they would adhere to his majesty with their lives and fortunes. They
passed a bill of attainder against Monmouth; and they granted a supply
of four hundred thousand pounds for suppressing his rebellion. Having
thus strengthened the hands of the king, they adjourned themselves.

Monmouth, when ordered to depart the kingdom, during the late reign, had
retired to Holland; and as it was well known that he still enjoyed the
favor of his indulgent father, all marks of honor and distinction were
bestowed upon him by the prince of Orange. After the accession of
James, the prince thought it necessary to dismiss Monmouth and all his
followers; and that illustrious fugitive retired to Brussels. Finding
himself still pursued by the king's severity, he was pushed, contrary
to his judgment as well as inclination, to make a rash and premature
attempt upon England. He saw that James had lately mounted the throne,
not only without opposition, but seemingly with the good will and
affections of his subjects. A parliament was sitting, which discovered
the greatest disposition to comply with the king, and whose adherence,
he knew, would give a sanction and authority to all public measures.
The grievances of this reign were hitherto of small importance; and
the people were not as yet in a disposition to remark them with great
severity. All these considerations occurred to Monmouth; but such was
the impatience of his followers, and such the precipitate humor of
Argyle, who set out for Scotland a little before him, that no reasons
could be attended to; and this unhappy man was driven upon his fate.

The imprudence, however, of this enterprise did not at first appear.
Though on his landing at Lime, in Dorsetshire, he had scarcely a hundred
followers, so popular was his name, that in four days he had assembled
above two thousand horse and foot. They were, indeed, almost all of them
the lowest of the people; and the declaration which he published was
chiefly calculated to suit the prejudices of the vulgar, or the most
bigoted of the whig party. He called the king, duke of York; and
denominated him a traitor, a tyrant, an assassin, and a Popish usurper.
He imputed to him the fire of London, the murder of Godfrey and of
Essex, nay, the poisoning of the late king. And he invited all the
people to join in opposition to his tyranny.

The duke of Albemarle, son to him who had restored the royal family,
assembled the militia of Devonshire to the number of four thousand men,
and took post at Axminster, in order to oppose the rebels; but observing
that his troops bore a great affection to Monmouth, he thought proper to
retire. Monmouth, though he had formerly given many proofs of personal
courage, had not the vigor of mind requisite for an undertaking of this
nature. From an ill-grounded diffidence of his men, he neglected to
attack Albemarle; an easy enterprise, by which he might both have
acquired credit, and have supplied himself with arms. Lord Gray, who
commanded his horse, discovered himself to be a notorious coward;
yet such was the softness of Monmouth's nature, that Gray was still
continued in his command. Fletcher of Salton, a Scotchman, a man of
signal probity and fine genius, had been engaged by his republican
principles in this enterprise, and commanded the cavalry together with
Gray; but being insulted by one who had newly joined the army, and whose
horse he had in a hurry made use of, he was prompted by passion, to
which he was much subject to discharge a pistol at the man; and he
killed him on the spot. This incident obliged him immediately to leave
the camp; and the loss of so gallant an officer was a great prejudice to
Monmouth's enterprise.

The next station of the rebels was Taunton, a disaffected town,
which gladly and even fondly received them, and reenforced them with
considerable numbers. Twenty young maids of some rank presented Monmouth
with a pair of colors of their handiwork, together with a copy of the
Bible. Monmouth was here persuaded to take upon him the title of king,
and assert the legitimacy of his birth; a claim which he advanced in his
first declaration, but whose discussion he was determined, he then
said, during some time to postpone. His numbers had now increased to six
thousand; and he was obliged every day, for want of arms, to dismiss a
great many who crowded to his standard. He entered Bridgewater, Wells,
Frome; and was proclaimed in all these places: but forgetting, that
such desperate enterprises can only be rendered successful by the
most adventurous courage, he allowed the expectations of the people to
languish, without attempting any considerable undertaking.

While Monmouth, by his imprudent and misplaced caution, was thus wasting
time in the west, the king employed himself in making preparations
to oppose him. Six regiments of British troops were called over from
Holland: the army was considerably augmented: and regular forces, to
the number of three thousand men, were despatched under the command of
Feversham and Churchill, in order to check the progress of the rebels.

Monmouth, observing that no considerable men joined him, finding that
an insurrection which was projected in the city had not taken place, and
hearing that Argyle, his confederate, was already defeated and taken,
sunk into such despondency, that he had once resolved to withdraw
himself, and leave his unhappy followers to their fate. His followers
expressed more courage than their leader, and seemed determined to
adhere to him in every fortune. The negligent disposition made by
Feversham, invited Monmouth to attack the king's army at Sedgemoor, near
Bridgewater; and his men in this action showed what a native courage
and a principle of duty, even when unassisted by discipline, is able to
perform. They threw the veteran forces into disorder; drove them from
their ground; continued the fight till their ammunition failed them;
and would at last have obtained a victory, had not the misconduct of
Monmouth and the cowardice of Gray prevented it. After a combat of three
hours, the rebels gave way, and were followed with great slaughter.
About fifteen hundred fell in the battle and pursuit*[**missing period]
And thus was concluded in a few weeks this enterprise rashly undertaken
and feebly conducted.

[Illustration: 1-849-monmouth.jpg  DUKE OF MONMOUTH]

Monmouth fled from the field of battle above twenty miles till his
horse sunk under him. He then changed clothes with a peasant in order
to conceal himself. The peasant was discovered by the pursuers, who now
redoubled the diligence of their search. At last, the unhappy Monmouth
was found, lying in the bottom of a ditch, and covered with fern; his
body depressed with fatigue and hunger; his mind by the memory of
past misfortunes, by the prospect of future disasters. Human nature is
unequal to such calamitous situations; much more the temper of a man
softened by early prosperity, and accustomed to value himself solely on
military bravery. He burst into tears when seized by his enemies; and
he seemed still to indulge the fond hope and desire of life. Though
he might have known, from the greatness of his own offences, and the
severity of James's temper, that no mercy could be expected, he wrote
him the most submissive letters, and conjured him to spare the issue of
a brother who had ever been so strongly attached to his interest. James,
finding such symptoms of depression and despondency in the unhappy
prisoner, admitted him to his presence, in hopes of extorting a
discovery of his accomplices; but Monmouth would not purchase life,
however loved, at the price of so much infamy. Finding all efforts vain,
he assumed courage from despair, and prepared himself for death, with
a spirit better suited to his rank and character. This favorite of the
people was attended to the scaffold with a plentiful effusion of tears.
He warned the executioner not to fall into the error which he had
committed in beheading Russel, where it had been necessary to repeat the
blow. This precaution served only to dismay the executioner. He struck a
feeble blow on Monmouth, who raised his head from the block, and looked
him in the face, as if reproaching him for his failure. He gently laid
down his head a second time; and the executioner struck him again and
again to no purpose. He then threw aside the axe, and cried out that he
was incapable of finishing the bloody office. The sheriff obliged him to
renew the attempt; and at two blows more the head was severed from the

Thus perished, in the thirty-sixth year of his age, a nobleman who, in
less turbulent times, was well qualified to be an ornament of the court,
even to be serviceable to his country. The favor of his prince, the
caresses of faction, and the allurements of popularity, seduced him into
enterprises which exceeded his capacity. The good will of the people
still followed him in every fortune. Even after his execution, their
fond credulity flattered them with hopes of seeing him once more at
their head. They believed, that the person executed was not Monmouth,
but one, who, having the fortune to resemble him nearly, was willing to
give this proof of his extreme attachment, and to suffer death in his

This victory, obtained by the king in the commencement of his reign,
would naturally, had it been managed with prudence, have tended much
to increase his power and authority. But by reason of the cruelty with
which it was prosecuted, and of the temerity with which it afterwards
inspired him, it was a principal cause of his sudden ruin and downfall.

Such arbitrary principles had the court instilled into all its servants,
that Feversham, immediately after the victory, hanged above twenty
prisoners; and was proceeding in his executions, when the bishop of Bath
and Wells warned him, that these unhappy men were now by law entitled
to a trial, and that their execution would be deemed a real murder. This
remonstrance, however, did not stop the savage nature of Colonel
Kirke, a soldier of fortune, who had long served at Tangiers, and had
contracted, from his intercourse with the Moors, an inhumanity less
known in European and in free countries. At his first entry into Bridge
water, he hanged nineteen prisoners without the least inquiry into the
merits of their cause. As if to make sport with death, he ordered a
certain number to be executed, while he and his company should drink
the king's health, or the queen's, or that of Chief Justice Jefferies.
Observing their feet to quiver in the agonies of death, he cried that he
would give them music to their dancing; and he immediately commanded
the drums to beat and the trumpets to sound. By way of experiment,
he ordered one man to be hung up three times, questioning him at each
interval, whether he repented of his crime: but the man obstinately
asserting, that notwithstanding the past, he still would willingly
engage in the same cause, Kirke ordered him to be hung in chains. One
story, commonly told of him, is memorable for the treachery, as well as
barbarity, which attended it. A young maid pleaded for the life of her
brother, and flung herself at Kirke's feet, armed with all the charms
which beauty and innocence, bathed in tears, could bestow upon her. The
tyrant was inflamed with desire, not softened into love or clemency. He
promised to grant her request, provided that she, in her turn, would be
equally compliant to him. The maid yielded to the conditions: but after
she had passed the night with him, the wanton savage next morning showed
her from the window her brother, the darling object for whom she had
sacrificed her virtue, hanging on a gibbet, which he had secretly
ordered to be there erected for the execution. Rage, and despair, and
indignation took possession of her mind, and deprived her forever of her
senses. All the inhabitants of that country, innocent as well as guilty,
were exposed to the ravages of this barbarian. The soldiery were let
loose to live at free quarters; and his own regiment, instructed by his
example, and encouraged by his exhortations, distinguished themselves in
a particular manner by their outrages. By way of pleasantry, he used
to call them his lambs; an appellation which was long remembered with
horror in the west of England. The violent Jefferies succeeded after
some interval; and showed the people, that the rigors of law might
equal, if not exceed, the ravages of military tyranny. This man, who
wantoned in cruelty, had already given a specimen of his character in
many trials where he presided; and he now set out with a savage joy, as
to a full harvest of death and destruction. He began at Dorchester; and
thirty rebels being arraigned, he exhorted them, but in vain, to save
him, by their free confession, the trouble of trying them: and when
twenty-nine were found guilty, he ordered them, as an additional
punishment of their disobedience, to be led to immediate execution. Most
of the other prisoners, terrified with this example, pleaded guilty; and
no less than two hundred and ninety-two received sentence at Dorchester.
Of these, eighty were executed. Exeter was the next stage of his
cruelty: two hundred and forty-three were there tried, of whom a great
number were condemned and executed. He also opened his commission at
Taunton and Wells; and every where carried consternation along with him.
The juries were so struck with his menaces, that they gave their verdict
with precipitation; and many innocent persons, it is said, were involved
with the guilty. And on the whole, besides those who were butchered by
the military commanders, two hundred and fifty-one are computed to have
fallen by the hand of justice. The whole country was strowed with
the heads and limbs of traitors. Every village almost beheld the
dead carcass of a wretched inhabitant. And all the rigors of justice,
unabated by any appearance of clemency, were fully displayed to the
people by the inhuman Jefferies.

Of all the executions, during this dismal period, the most remarkable
were those of Mrs. Gaunt and Lady Lisle, who had been accused of
harboring traitors. Mrs. Gaunt was an Anabaptist, noted for her
beneficence, which she extended to persons of all profession and
persuasions. One of the rebels, knowing her humane disposition, had
recourse to her in his distress, and was concealed by her. Hearing of
the proclamation, which offered an indemnity and rewards to such as
discovered criminals, he betrayed his benefactress, and bore evidence
against her. He received a pardon as a recompense for his treachery; she
was burned alive for her charity.

Lady Lisle was widow of one of the regicides, who had enjoyed great
favor and authority under Cromwell, and who having fled, after the
restoration, to Lauzanne, in Switzerland, was there assassinated by
three Irish ruffians, who hoped to make their fortune by this piece of
service. His widow was now prosecuted for harboring two rebels the day
after the battle of Sedgemoor; and Jefferies pushed on the trial with
an unrelenting violence. In vain did the aged prisoner plead, that these
criminals had been put into no proclamation; had been convicted by no
verdict; nor could any man be denominated a traitor, till the sentence
of some legal court was passed upon him: that it appeared not by any
proof, that she was so much as acquainted with the guilt of the persons,
or had heard of their joining the rebellion of Monmouth: that though she
might be obnoxious on account of her family, it was well known that her
heart was ever loyal; and that no person in England had shed more tears
for that tragical event, in which her husband had unfortunately borne
too great a share: and that the same principles which she herself had
ever embraced, she had carefully instilled into her son; and had, at
that very time, sent him to fight against those rebels whom she was now
accused of harboring. Though these arguments did not move Jefferies,
they had influence on the jury. Twice they seemed inclined to bring in
a favorable verdict: they were as often sent back with menaces and
reproaches; and at last were constrained to give sentence against
the prisoner. Notwithstanding all applications for pardon, the cruel
sentence was executed. The king said, that he had given Jefferies a
promise not to pardon her; an excuse which could serve only to aggravate
the blame against himself.

It might have been hoped that, by all these bloody executions, a
rebellion so precipitate, so ill supported, and of such short duration,
would have been sufficiently expiated: but nothing could satiate
the spirit of rigor which possessed the administration. Even those
multitudes who received pardon, were obliged to atone for their guilt by
fines which reduced them to beggary; or where their former poverty made
them incapable of paying, they were condemned to cruel whippings or
severe imprisonments. Nor could the innocent escape the hands, no less
rapacious than cruel, of the chief justice. Prideaux, a gentleman
of Devonshire, being thrown into prison, and dreading the severe and
arbitrary spirit which at that time met with no control, was obliged to
buy his liberty of Jefferies at the price of fifteen thousand pounds;
though he could never so much as learn the crime of which he was

Goodenough, the seditious under sheriff of London, who had been engaged
in the most bloody and desperate part of the Rye-house conspiracy, was
taken prisoner after the battle of Sedgemoor, and resolved to save his
own life by an accusation of Cornish, the sheriff, whom he knew to
be extremely obnoxious to the court. Colonel Rumsey joined him in the
accusation; and the prosecution was so hastened, that the prisoner was
tried, condemned, and executed in the space of a week. The perjury of
the witnesses appeared immediately after; and the king seemed to regret
the execution of Cornish. He granted his estate to his family, and
condemned the witnesses to perpetual imprisonment.

The injustice of this sentence against Cornish was not wanted to disgust
the nation with the court: the continued rigor of the other executions
had already impressed a universal hatred against the ministers of
justice, attended with compassion for the unhappy sufferers, who, as
they had been seduced into this crime by mistaken principles, bore their
punishment with the spirit and zeal of martyrs. The people might have
been willing on this occasion to distinguish between the king and his
ministers: but care was taken to prove, that the latter had done nothing
but what was agreeable to their master. Jefferies, on his return, was
immediately, for those eminent services, created a peer; and was soon
after vested with the dignity of chancellor. It is pretended, however,
with some appearance of authority, that the king was displeased with
these cruelties, and put a stop to them by orders, as soon as proper
information  of them was conveyed to him.[*]

     * Life of Lord Keeper North, p. 260. K. James's Memoirs, p,

We must now take a view of the state of affairs in Scotland; where the
fate of Argyle had been decided before that of Monmouth. Immediately
after the king's accession, a parliament had been summoned at Edinburgh;
and all affairs were there conducted by the duke of Queensberry the
commissioner, and the earl of Perth chancellor. The former had resolved
to make an entire surrender of the liberties of his country; but was
determined still to adhere to its religion: the latter entertained no
scruple of paying court even by the sacrifice of both. But no courtier,
even the most prostitute, could go further than the parliament itself
towards a resignation of their liberties. In a vote, which they called
an offer of duty, after adopting the fabulous history of a hundred and
eleven Scottish monarchs, they acknowledged, that all these princes,
by the primary and fundamental law of the state, had been vested with
a solid and absolute authority. They declared their abhorrence of all
principles and positions derogatory to the king's sacred, supreme,
sovereign, absolute power, of which none, they said, whether single
persons or collective bodies, can participate, but in dependence on
him, and by commission from him. They promised, that the whole nation,
between sixteen and sixty, shall be in readiness for his majesty's
service, where and as oft as it shall be his royal pleasure to require
them. And they annexed the whole excise, both of inland and foreign
commodities, forever to the crown.

All the other acts of this assembly savored of the same spirit. They
declared it treason for any person to refuse the test, if tendered
by the council. To defend the obligation of the covenant, subjected a
person to the same penalty. To be present at any conventicle, was made
punishable with death and confiscation of movables. Even such as refused
to give testimony, either in cases of treason or nonconformity, were
declared equally punishable as if guilty of those very crimes; an
excellent prelude to all the rigors of an inquisition. It must be
confessed, that nothing could equal the abject servility of the
Scottish nation during this period but the arbitrary severity of the

It was in vain that Argyle summoned a people so lost to all sense of
liberty, so degraded by repeated indignities, to rise in vindication
of their violated laws and privileges. Even those who declared for him,
were, for the greater part, his own vassals; men who, if possible, were
still more sunk in slavery than the rest of the nation. He arrived,
after a prosperous voyage, in Argyleshire, attended by some fugitives
from Holland; among the rest, by Sir Patrick Hume, a man of mild
dispositions, who had been driven to this extremity by a continued train
of oppression. The privy council was beforehand apprised of Argyle's
intentions. The whole militia of the kingdom, to the number of
twenty-two thousand men, were already in arms; and a third part of them,
with the regular forces, were on their march to oppose him. All the
considerable gentry of his clan were thrown into prison. And two
ships of war were on the coast to watch his motions. Under all these
discouragements he yet made a shift, partly from terror, partly from
affection, to collect and arm a body of about two thousand five hundred
men; but soon found himself surrounded on all sides with insuperable
difficulties. His arms and ammunition were seized, his provisions cut
off: the marquis of Athole pressed him on one side; Lord Charles Murray
on another; the duke of Gordon hung upon his rear; the earl of Dunbarton
met him in front. His followers daily fell off from him; but Argyle,
resolute to persevere, broke at last with the shattered remains of his
troops into the disaffected part of the low countries, which he had
endeavored to allure to him by declarations for the covenant. No one
showed either courage or inclination to join him; and his small and
still decreasing army, after wandering about for a little time, was at
last defeated and dissipated without an enemy. Argyle himself was seized
and carried to Edinburgh, where, after enduring many indignities with
a gallant spirit, he was publicly executed. He suffered on the former
unjust sentence which had been passed upon him. The rest of his
followers either escaped or were punished by transportation: Rumbold and
Ayloffe, two Englishmen who had attended Argyle on this expedition, were

The king was so elated with this continued tide of prosperity, that he
began to undervalue even an English parliament, at all times formidable
to his family; and from his speech to that assembly, which he had
assembled early in the winter, he seems to have thought himself exempted
from all rules of prudence or necessity of dissimulation. He plainly
told the two houses, that the militia, which had formerly been so much
magnified, was now found, by experience in the last rebellion, to be
altogether useless; and he required a new supply, in order to maintain
those additional forces which he had levied. He also took notice that he
had employed a great many Catholic officers, and that he had, in their
favor, dispensed with the law requiring the test to be taken by every
one that possessed any public office. And to cut short all opposition,
he declared, that, having reaped the benefit of their service during
such times of danger he was determined neither to expose them afterwards
to disgrace, nor himself, in case of another rebellion, to the want of
their assistance.

Such violent aversion did this parliament bear to opposition so great
dread had been instilled of the consequences attending any breach with
the king, that it is probable, had he used his dispensing power without
declaring it, no inquiries would have been made, and time might have
reconciled the nation to this dangerous exercise of prerogative. But
to invade at once their constitution, to threaten their religion,
to establish a standing army, and even to require them, by their
concurrence, to contribute towards all these measures, exceeded the
bounds of their patience; and they began, for the first time, to display
some small remains of English spirit and generosity. When the king's
speech was taken into consideration by the commons, many severe
reflections were thrown out against the present measures; and the house
was with seeming difficulty engaged to promise, in a general vote, that
they would grant some supply. But instead of finishing that business,
which could alone render them acceptable to the king, they proceeded
to examine the dispensing power; and they voted an address to the
king against it. Before this address was presented, they resumed the
consideration of the supply; and as one million two hundred thousand
pounds were demanded by the court, and two hundred thousand proposed
by the country party, a middle course was chosen, and seven hundred
thousand, after some dispute, were at last voted. The address against
the dispensing power was expressed in the most respectful and submissive
terms; yet was it very ill received by the king; and his answer
contained a flat denial, uttered with great warmth and vehemence. The
commons were so daunted with this reply, that they kept silence a long
time; and when Coke, member for Derby, rose up and said, "I hope we
are all Englishmen, and not to be frightened with a few hard words,"
so little spirit appeared in that assembly, often so refractory and
mutinous, that they sent him to the Tower for bluntly expressing a free
and generous sentiment. They adjourned without fixing a day for the
consideration of his majesty's answer: and on their next meeting, they
submissively proceeded to the consideration of the supply, and even went
so far as to establish funds for paying the sum voted in nine years and
a half. The king, therefore, had in effect, almost without contest or
violence, obtained a complete victory over the commons; and that
assembly, instead of guarding their liberties, now exposed to manifest
peril, conferred an additional revenue on the crown; and, by rendering
the king in some degree independent, contributed to increase those
dangers with which they had so much reason to be alarmed.

The next opposition came from the house of peers, which has not commonly
taken the lead on these occasions; and even from the bench of
bishops, where the court usually expects the greatest complaisance and
submission. The upper house had been brought, in the first days of
the session, to give general thanks for the king's speech; by which
compliment they were understood, according to the practice of that time,
to have acquiesced in every part of it: yet notwithstanding that step,
Compton, bishop of London, in his own name and that of his brethren,
moved that a day should be appointed for taking the speech into
consideration: he was seconded by Halifax, Nottingham, and Mordaunt.
Jefferies, the chancellor, opposed the motion; and seemed inclined to
use in that house the same arrogance to which on the bench he had so
long been accustomed: but he was soon taught to know his place; and he
proved, by his behavior, that insolence, when checked, naturally sinks
into meanness and cowardice. The bishop of London's motion prevailed.

The king might reasonably have presumed, that, even if the peers should
so far resume courage as to make an application against his dispensing
power, the same steady answer which he had given to the commons would
make them relapse into the same timidity; and he might by that means
have obtained a considerable supply, without making any concessions in
return. But so imperious was his temper, so lofty the idea which he had
entertained of his own authority, and so violent the schemes suggested
by his own bigotry and that of his priests, that, without any delay,
without waiting for any further provocation, he immediately proceeded to
a prorogation. He continued the parliament during a year and a half
by four more prorogations; but having in vain tried, by separate
applications, to break the obstinacy of the leading members, he at last
dissolved that assembly. And as it was plainly impossible for him to
find among his Protestant subjects a set of men more devoted to royal
authority, it was universally concluded, that he intended thenceforth to
govern entirely without parliaments.

Never king mounted the throne of England with greater advantages than
James; nay, possessed greater facility, if that were any advantage, of
rendering himself and his posterity absolute: but all these fortunate
circumstances tended only, by his own misconduct, to bring more sudden
ruin upon him. The nation seemed disposed of themselves to resign their
liberties, had he not, at the same time, made an attempt upon their
religion: and he might even have succeeded in surmounting at once
their liberties and religion, had he conducted his schemes with common
prudence and discretion. Openly to declare to the parliament, so
early in his reign, his intention to dispense with the tests, struck a
universal alarm throughout the nation; infused terror into the church,
which had hitherto been the chief support of monarchy; and even
disgusted the army, by whose means alone he could now purpose to govern.
The former horror against Popery was revived by polemical books and
sermons; and in every dispute the victory seemed to be gained by the
Protestant divines, who were heard with more favorable ears, and who
managed the controversy with more learning and eloquence. But another
incident happened at this time, which tended mightily to excite the
animosity of the nation against the Catholic communion.

Lewis XIV., having long harassed and molested the Protestants, at last
revoked entirely the edict of Nantz; which had been enacted by Henry IV.
for securing them the free exercise of their religion; which had
been declared irrevocable; and which, during the experience of near
a century, had been attended with no sensible inconvenience. All the
iniquities inseparable from persecution were exercised against those
unhappy religionists; who became obstinate in proportion to the
oppressions which they suffered, and either covered under a feigned
conversion a more violent abhorrence of the Catholic communion, or
sought among foreign nations for that liberty of which they were
bereaved in their native country. Above half a million of the most
useful and industrious subjects deserted France; and exported, together
with immense sums of money, those arts and manufactures which had
chiefly tended to enrich that kingdom. They propagated every where
the most tragical accounts of the tyranny exercised against them; and
revived among the Protestants all that resentment against the bloody and
persecuting spirit of Popery, to which so many incidents in all ages had
given too much foundation. Near fifty thousand refugees passed over into
England; and all men were disposed, from their representations, to
entertain, the utmost horror against the projects which they apprehended
to be formed by the king for the abolition of the Protestant religion.
When a prince of so much humanity and of such signal prudence as Lewis
could be engaged, by the bigotry of his religion alone, without any
provocation, to embrace such sanguinary and impolitic measures, what
might be dreaded, they asked, from James, who was so much inferior in
these virtues, and who had already been irritated by such obstinate and
violent opposition? In vain did the king affect to throw the highest
blame on the persecutions in France: in vain did he afford the most real
protection and assistance to the distressed Hugonots. All these symptoms
of toleration were regarded as insidious; opposite to the avowed
principles of his sect, and belied by the severe administration which he
himself had exercised against the nonconformists in Scotland.

The smallest approach towards the introduction of Popery, must, in the
present disposition of the people, have afforded reason of jealousy;
much more so wide a step as that of dispensing with the tests, the sole
security which the nation, being disappointed of the exclusion bill,
found provided against those dreaded innovations. Yet was the king
resolute to persevere in his purpose; and having failed in bringing over
the parliament, he made an attempt, with more success, for establishing
his dispensing power by a verdict of the judges. Sir Edward Hales, a
new proselyte, had accepted a commission of colonel; and directions
were given his coachman to prosecute him for the penalty of five hundred
pounds, which the law, establishing the tests, had granted to informers.
By this feigned action the king hoped, both from the authority of the
decision, and the reason of the thing, to put an end to all questions
with regard to his dispensing power.

It could not be expected that the lawyers appointed to plead against
Hales would exert great force on that occasion: but the cause was
regarded with such anxiety by the public, that it has been thoroughly
canvassed in several elaborate discourses;[*] and could men divest
themselves of prejudice, there want not sufficient materials on which to
form a true judgment.

     * Particularly Sir Edward Herbert's defence in the State
     Trials, and Sir Robert Atkins's Inquiry concerning the
     Dispensing Power.

The claim and exercise of the dispensing power is allowed to be very
ancient in England; and though it seems at first to have been copied
from Papal usurpations, it may plainly be traced up as high as the reign
of Henry III. In the feudal governments, men were more anxious to secure
their private property than to share in the public administration; and
provided no innovations were attempted on their rights and possessions,
the care of executing the laws, and insuring general safety, was,
without jealousy, intrusted to the sovereign. Penal statutes were
commonly intended to arm the prince with more authority for that
purpose: and being in the main calculated for promoting his influence
as first magistrate, there seemed no danger in allowing him to dispense
with their execution, in such particular cases as might require an
exception or indulgence. That practice had so much prevailed, that the
parliament itself had more than once acknowledged this prerogative of
the crown; particularly during the reign of Henry V., when they enacted
the law against aliens,[*] and also when they passed the statute of

     * Rot. Parl. I Hen. V. n. xv.

     ** Ibid. I Hen. V. n. xxii. It is remarkable, however, that
     in the reign of Richard II. the parliament granted the king
     only a temporary power of dispensing with the statute of
     provisors. Rot. Parl. 15 Rich.[** 15 is a best guess] II. n.
     i.: a plain implication that he had not, of himself, such
     prerogative. So uncertain were many of these points at that

But though the general tenor of the penal statutes was such as gave the
king a superior interest in their execution, beyond any of his subjects,
it could not but sometimes happen in a mixed government, that the
parliament would desire to enact laws by which the regal power, in some
particulars, even where private property was not immediately concerned,
might be regulated and restrained. In the twenty-third of Henry VI.,
a law of this kind was enacted, prohibiting any man from serving in a
county as sheriff above a year; and a clause was inserted, by which the
king was disabled from granting a dispensation. Plain reason might have
taught, that this law, at least, should be exempted from the king's
prerogative: but as the dispensing power still prevailed in other cases,
it was soon able, aided by the servility of the courts of judicature,
even to overpower this statute, which the legislature had evidently
intended to secure against violation. In the reign of Henry VII., the
case was brought to a trial before all the judges in the exchequer
chamber; and it was decreed, that, notwithstanding the strict clause
above mentioned, the king might dispense with the statute: he could
first, it was alleged, dispense with the prohibitory clause, and then
with the statute itself. This opinion of the judges, though seemingly
absurd, had ever since passed for undoubted law; the practice of
continuing the sheriffs had prevailed: and most of the property in
England had been fixed by decisions which juries, returned by
such sheriffs, had given in the courts of judicature. Many other
dispensations of a like nature may be produced; not only such as took
place by intervals, but such as were uniformly continued. Thus the
law was dispensed with, which prohibited any man from going a judge of
assize into his own county; that which rendered all Welshmen incapable
of bearing offices in Wales; and that which required every one who
received a pardon for felony, to find sureties for his good behavior.
In the second of James I., a new consultation of all the judges had
been held upon a like question: this prerogative of the crown was again
unanimously affirmed,[*] and it became an established principle in
English jurisprudence, that, though the king could not allow of what was
morally unlawful, he could permit what was only prohibited by positive
statute. Even the jealous house of commons who extorted the petition of
right from Charles I., made no scruple, by the mouth of Glanville, their
manager, to allow of the dispensing power in its full extent;[**] and
in the famous trial of ship money, Holborne, the popular lawyer, had
freely, and in the most explicit terms, made the same concession.[***]
Sir Edward Coke, the great oracle of English law, had not only concurred
with all other lawyers in favor of this prerogative, but seems even to
believe it so inherent in the crown, that an act of parliament itself
could not abolish it.[****] And he particularly observes, that no law
can impose such a disability of enjoying offices as the king may not
dispense with; because the king, from the law of nature, has a right to
the service of all his subjects.

     * Sir Edward Coke's Reports, seventh report.

     ** State Trials, vol. ii. first edit. p. 205. Parl. Hist.
     vol. viii, p. 132.

     *** State Trials, vol. v. first edit. p. 171.

     **** Sir Edward Coke's Reports, twelfth report, p. 18. our
     ancestors were, to depend upon his prudence and discretion
     in the exercise of them.

This particular reason, as well as all the general principles,
is applicable to the question of the tests; nor can the dangerous
consequence of granting dispensations in that case be ever allowed to be
pleaded before a court of judicature. Every prerogative of the crown, it
may be said, admits of abuse: should the king pardon all criminals, law
must be totally dissolved: should he declare and continue perpetual war
against all nations, inevitable ruin must ensue: yet these powers are
intrusted to the sovereign.

Though this reasoning seems founded on such principles as are
usually admitted by lawyers, the people had entertained such violent
prepossessions against the use which James here made of his prerogative,
that he was obliged, before he brought on Hales's cause, to displace
four of the judges, Jones, Montague, Charleton, and Nevil; and even Sir
Edward Herbert, the chief justice, though a man of acknowledged virtue,
yet, because he here supported the pretensions of the crown, was exposed
to great and general reproach. Men deemed a dispensing to be in effect
the same with a repealing power; and they could not conceive, that less
authority was necessary to repeal than to enact any statute, if one
penal law was dispensed with, any other might undergo the same fate:
and by what principle could even the laws which define property be
afterwards secured from violation? The test act had ever been conceived
the great barrier of the established religion under a Popish successor:
as such it had been insisted on by the parliament; as such granted by
the king; as such, during the debates with regard to the exclusion,
recommended by the chancellor. By what magic, what chicane of law, is it
now annihilated, and rendered of no validity? These questions were every
where asked; and men, straitened by precedents and decisions of great
authority, were reduced either to question the antiquity of this
prerogative itself, or to assert, that even the practice of near five
centuries could not bestow on it sufficient authority.[*]

     * Sir Robert Atkins, p. 21.

It was not considered, that the present difficulty or seeming absurdity
had proceeded from late innovations introduced into the government. Ever
since the beginning of this century, the parliament had, with a laudable
zeal, been acquiring powers and establishing principles favorable to
law and liberty: the authority of the crown had been limited in many
important particulars: and penal statutes were often calculated to
secure the constitution against the attempts of ministers, as well as
to preserve general peace, and repress crimes and immoralities. A
prerogative, however, derived from very ancient and almost uniform
practice, the dispensing power, still remained, or was supposed to
remain, with the crown; sufficient in an instant to overturn this
whole fabric, and to throw down all fences of the constitution. If this
prerogative, which carries on the face of it such strong symptoms of an
absolute authority in the prince, had yet, in ancient times, subsisted
with some degree of liberty in the subject, this fact only proves
that scarcely any human government, much less one erected in rude and
barbarous times, is entirely consistent and uniform in all its parts.
But to expect that the dispensing power could, in any degree, be
rendered compatible with those accurate and regular limitations which
had of late been established, and which the people were determined to
maintain, was a vain hope; and though men knew not upon what principles
they could deny that prerogative, they saw that, if they would preserve
their laws and constitution, there was an absolute necessity for
denying, at least for abolishing it. The revolution alone, which soon
succeeded, happily put an end to all these disputes: by means of it, a
more uniform edifice was at last erected: the monstrous inconsistence,
so visible between the ancient Gothic parts of the fabric and the recent
plans of liberty, was fully corrected; and, to their mutual felicity,
King and people were finally taught to know their proper boundaries.[*]

     * It is remarkable, that the convention, summoned by the
     prince of Orange, did not, even when they had the making of
     their own terms in the declaration of rights, venture to
     condemn the dispensing power in general, which had been
     uniformly exercised by the former kings of England. They
     only condemned it so far, as it had been assumed and
     exercised of late, without being able to tell wherein the
     difference lay. But in the bill of rights, which passed
     about a twelvemonth after the parliament took care to secure
     themselves more effectually against a branch of prerogative
     incompatible with all legal liberty and limitations; and
     they excluded, in positive terms, all dispensing power in
     the crown. Yet even then the house of lords rejected that
     clause of the bill which condemned the exercise of this
     power in former kings, and obliged the commons to rest
     content with abolishing it for the future. There needs no
     other proof of the irregular nature of the old English
     government, than the existence of such a prerogative, always
     exercised and never questioned, till the acquisition of real
     liberty discovered, at last, the danger of it. See the

Whatever topics lawyers might find to defend James's dispensing power,
the nation thought it dangerous, if not fatal, to liberty; and his
resolution of exercising it may on that account be esteemed no less
alarming, than if the power had been founded on the most recent and most
flagrant usurpation. It was not likely, that an authority which had been
assumed through so many obstacles, would in his hands lie long idle and
unemployed. Four Catholic lords were brought into the privy
council, Powis, Arundel, Bellasis, and Dover. Halifax, finding that,
notwithstanding his past merits, he possessed no real credit or
authority, became refractory in his opposition; and his office of privy
seal was given to Arundel. The king was open, as well as zealous, in
the desire of making converts; and men plainly saw, that the only way
to acquire his affection and confidence was by a sacrifice of their
religion. Sunderland, some time after, scrupled not to gain favor at
this price, Rochester the treasurer, though the king's brother-in-law,
yet, because he refused to give this instance of complaisance, was
turned out of his office; the treasury was put in commission, and
Bellasis was placed at the head of it. All the courtiers were disgusted,
even such as had little regard to religion. The dishonor, as well as
distrust, attending renegades, made most men resolve, at all hazards, to
adhere to their ancient faith.

In Scotland, James's zeal for proselytism was more successful. The earls
of Murray, Perth, and Melfort were brought over to the court religion;
and the two latter noblemen made use of a very courtly reason for their
conversion: they pretended, that the papers found in the late king's
cabinet had opened their eyes, and had convinced them of the preference
due to the Catholic religion. Queensberry, who showed not the same
complaisance, fell into total disgrace, notwithstanding his former
services, and the important sacrifices which he had made to the measures
of the court. These merits could not even insure him of safety against
the vengeance to which he stood exposed. His rival, Perth, who had been
ready to sink under his superior interest, now acquired the ascendant;
and all the complaints exhibited against him were totally obliterated.
His faith, according to a saying of Halifax, had made him whole.

But it was in Ireland chiefly that the mask was wholly taken off, and
that the king thought himself at liberty to proceed to the full extent
of his zeal and his violence. The duke of Ormond was recalled; and
though the primate and Lord Granard, two Protestants, still possessed
the authority of justices, the whole power was lodged in the hands of
Talbot, the general, soon after created earl of Tyrconnel; a man
who, from the blindness of his prejudices and fury of his temper, was
transported with the most immeasurable ardor for the Catholic cause.
After the suppression of Monmouth's rebellion, orders were given by
Tyrconnel to disarm all the Protestants, on pretence of securing the
public peace, and keeping their arms in a few magazines for the use
of the militia. Next, the army was new modelled; and a great number of
officers were dismissed, because it was pretended that they or their
fathers had served under Cromwell and the republic. The injustice was
not confined to them. Near three hundred officers more were afterwards
broken, though many of them had purchased their commissions: about four
or five thousand private soldiers, because they were Protestants, were
dismissed; and being stripped even of their regimentals, were turned
out to starve in the streets. While these violences were carrying on,
Clarendon, who had been named lord lieutenant, came over; but he soon
found, that, as he had refused to give the king the desired pledge of
fidelity by changing his religion, he possessed no credit or authority.
He was even a kind of prisoner in the hands of Tyrconnel: and as he
gave all opposition in his power to the precipitate measures of the
Catholics, he was soon after recalled, and Tyrconnel substituted in his
place. The unhappy Protestants now saw all the civil authority, as well
as the military force, transferred into the *hands of their inveterate
enemies; inflamed with hereditary hatred, and stimulated by every motive
which the passion either for power, property, or religion could inspire.
Even the barbarous banditti were let loose to prey on them in their
present defenceless condition. A renewal of the ancient massacres was
apprehended; and great multitudes, struck with the best-grounded terror,
deserted the kingdom, and infused into the English nation a dread of
those violences to which, after some time, they might justly, from the
prevalence of the Catholics, think themselves exposed.

All judicious persons of the Catholic communion were disgusted with
these violent measures, and could easily foresee the consequences. But
James was entirely governed by the rash counsels of the queen and of his
confessor, Father Peters, a Jesuit, whom he soon after created a privy
counsellor. He thought too, that, as he was now in the decline of life,
it was necessary for him, by hasty steps, to carry his designs into
execution; lest the succession of the princess of Orange should overturn
all his projects. In vain did Arundel, Powis, and Bellasis, remonstrate,
and suggest more moderate and cautious measures. These men had seen and
felt, during the prosecution of the Popish plot, the extreme antipathy
which the nation bore to their religion; and though some subsequent
incidents had seemingly allayed that spirit, they knew that the settled
habits of the people were still the same, and that the smallest
incident was sufficient to renew the former animosity. A very moderate
indulgence, therefore, to the Catholic religion would have satisfied
them; and all attempts to acquire power, much more to produce a change
of the national faith, they deemed dangerous and destructive.

On the first broaching of the Popish plot, the clergy of the church of
England had concurred in the prosecution of it, with the same violence
and credulity as the rest of the nation: but dreading afterwards the
prevalence of republican and Presbyterian principles, they had been
engaged to support the measures of the court; and to their assistance
chiefly, James had owed his succession to the crown. Finding that all
these services were forgotten, and that the Catholic religion was the
king's sole favorite, the church had commenced an opposition to court
measures; and Popery was now acknowledged the more immediate danger.
In order to prevent inflammatory sermons on this popular subject, James
revived some directions to preachers, which had been promulgated by the
late king, in the beginning of his reign, when no design against the
national religion was yet formed, or at least apprehended. But in the
present delicate and interesting situation of the church, there was
little reason to expect that orders, founded on no legal authority,
would be rigidly obeyed by preachers, who saw no security to themselves
but in preserving the confidence and regard of the people. Instead of
avoiding controversy, according to the king's injunctions, the preachers
every where declaimed against Popery; and among the rest, Dr. Sharpe, a
clergyman of London, particularly distinguished himself, and affected
to throw great contempt on those who had been induced to change their
religion by such pitiful arguments as the Romish missionaries could
suggest. This topic, being supposed to reflect on the king, gave great
offence at court; and positive orders were issued to the bishop of
London, his diocesan, immediately to suspend Sharpe, till his majesty's
pleasure should be further known. The prelate replied, that he could not
possibly obey these commands; But that he was not empowered, in such
a summary manner, to inflict any punishment even upon the greatest
delinquent. But neither this obvious reason, nor the most dutiful
submissions, both of the prelate and of Sharpe himself, could appease
the court. The king was determined to proceed with violence in the
prosecution of this affair. The bishop himself he resolved to punish for
disobedience to his commands; and the expedient which he employed
for that purpose, was of a nature at once the most illegal and most

     * D'Avaux, January 10, 1687.

Among all the engines of authority formerly employed by the crown, none
had been more dangerous or even destructive to liberty, than the court
of high commission, which, together with the star chamber, had been
abolished in the reign of Charles I. by act of parliament; in which a
clause was also inserted, prohibiting the erection, in all future times,
of that court, or any of a like nature. But this law was deemed by James
no obstacle; and an ecclesiastical commission was anew issued, by which
seven commissioners[*] were vested with full and unlimited authority
over the church of England.

     * The persons named were, the archbishop of Canterbury,
     Sancroft; the bishop of Durham, Crew; of Rochester, Sprat;
     the earl of Rochester, Sunderland, Chancellor Jeffries, and
     Lord Chief Justice Herbert. The archbishop refused to act
     and the bishop of Chester was substituted in his place.

On them were bestowed the same inquisitorial powers possessed by the
former court of high commission: they might proceed upon bare suspicion;
and the better to set the law at defiance, it was expressly inserted
in their patent itself, that they were to exercise their jurisdiction,
notwithstanding any law or statute to the contrary. The king's design
to subdue the church was now sufficiently known; and had he been able
to establish the authority of this new-erected court, his success was
infallible. A more sensible blow could not be given both to national
liberty and religion; and happily the contest could not be tried in a
cause more iniquitous and unpopular than that against Sharpe and the
bishop of London.

The prelate was cited before the commissioners. After denying the
legality of the court, and claiming the privilege of all Christian
bishops, to be tried by the metropolitan and his suffragans, he pleaded
in his own defence, that as he was obliged, if he had suspended Sharpe,
to act in the capacity of a judge, he could not, consistent either with
law or equity, pronounce sentence without a previous citation and trial:
that he had by petition represented this difficulty to his majesty; and
not receiving any answer, he had reason to think that his petition had
given entire satisfaction: that in order to show further his deference,
he had advised Sharpe to abstain from preaching, till he had justified
his conduct to the king; an advice which, coming from a superior,
was equivalent to a command, and had accordingly met with the proper
obedience: that he had thus, in his apprehension, conformed himself to
his majesty's pleasure; but if he should still be found wanting to his
duty in any particular, he was now willing to crave pardon, and to make
reparation. All this submission, both in Sharpe and the prelate, had no
effect: it was determined to have an example: orders were accordingly
sent to the commissioners to proceed: and by a majority of votes, the
bishop, as well as the doctor, was suspended.

Almost the whole of this short reign consists of attempts, always
imprudent, often illegal, sometimes both, against whatever was most
loved and revered by the nation: even such schemes of the king's as
might be laudable in themselves were so disgraced by his intentions,
that they serve only to aggravate the charge against him. James
was become a great patron of toleration, and an enemy to all those
persecuting laws which, from the influence of the church, had been
enacted both against the dissenters and Catholics. Not content with
granting dispensations to particular persons, he assumed a power of
issuing a declaration of general indulgence, and of suspending at
once all the penal statutes by which a conformity was required to
the established religion. This was a strain of authority, it must be
confessed, quite inconsistent with law and a limited constitution; yet
was it supported by many strong precedents in the history of England.
Even after the principles of liberty were become more prevalent, and
began to be well understood, the late king had, oftener than once, and
without giving much umbrage, exerted this dangerous power: he had, in
1662, suspended the execution of a law which regulated carriages: during
the two Dutch wars, he had twice suspended the act of navigation: and
the commons, in 1666, being resolved, contrary to the king's judgment,
to enact that iniquitous law against the importation of Irish
cattle, found it necessary, in order to obviate the exercise of this
prerogative, which they desired not at that time entirely to deny or
abrogate, to call that importation a nuisance.

Though the former authority of the sovereign was great in civil affairs,
it was still greater in ecclesiastical; and the whole despotic power
of the popes was often believed, in virtue of the supremacy, to have
devolved to the crown. The last parliament of Charles I., by abolishing
the power of the king and convocation to frame canons without consent
of parliament, had somewhat diminished the supposed extent of the
supremacy; but still very considerable remains of it, at least very
important claims, were preserved, and were occasionally made use of
by the sovereign. In 1662, Charles, pleading both the rights of his
supremacy and his suspending power, had granted a general indulgence
or toleration; and, in 1672, he renewed the same edict: though the
remonstrances of his parliament obliged him, on both occasions, to
retract; and, in the last instance, the triumph of law over prerogative
was deemed very great and memorable. In general, we may remark that,
where the exercise of the suspending power was agreeable and useful,
the power itself was little questioned: where the exercise was thought
liable to exceptions, men not only opposed it, but proceeded to deny
altogether the legality of the prerogative on which it was founded.

James, more imprudent and arbitrary than his predecessor, issued his
proclamation, suspending all the penal laws in ecclesiastical affairs,
and granting a general liberty of conscience to all his subjects. He was
not deterred by the reflection, both that this scheme of indulgence was
already blasted by two fruitless attempts; and that in such a government
as that of England, it was not sufficient that a prerogative be approved
of by some lawyers and antiquaries: if it was condemned by the general
voice of the nation, and yet was still exerted, the victory over
national liberty was no less signal than if obtained by the most
flagrant injustice and usurpation. These two considerations, indeed,
would rather serve to recommend this project to James; who deemed
himself superior in vigor and activity to his brother, and who probably
thought that his people enjoyed no liberties but by his royal concession
and indulgence.

In order to procure a better reception for his edict of toleration, the
king, finding himself opposed by the church, began to pay court to the
dissenters; and he imagined that, by playing one party against another,
he should easily obtain the victory over both: a refined policy which it
much exceeded his capacity to conduct. His intentions were so obvious,
that it was impossible for him ever to gain the sincere confidence
and regard of the nonconformists. They knew that the genius of their
religion was diametrically opposite to that of the Catholics, the
sole object of the king's affection. They were sensible, that both the
violence of his temper, and the maxims of his religion, were repugnant
to the principles of toleration They had seen that, on his accession, as
well as during his brother's reign, he had courted the church at their
expense; and it was not till his dangerous schemes were rejected by the
prelates, that he had recourse to the nonconformists. All his favors,
therefore, must, to every man of judgment among the sectaries, have
appeared insidious: yet such was the pleasure reaped from present ease,
such the animosity of the dissenters against the church, who had so
long subjected them to the rigors of persecution, that they every where
expressed the most entire duty to the king, and compliance with his
measures; and could not forbear rejoicing extremely in the present
depression of their adversaries.

But had the dissenters been ever so much inclined to shut their eyes
with regard to the king's intentions, the manner of conducting his
scheme in Scotland was sufficient to discover the secret. The king first
applied to the Scottish parliament, and desired an indulgence for the
Catholics alone, without comprehending the Presbyterians: but that
assembly, though more disposed than even the parliament of England
to sacrifice their civil liberties, resolved likewise to adhere
pertinaciously to their religion; and they rejected, for the first time,
the king's application. James therefore found himself obliged to exert
his prerogative; and he now thought it prudent to interest a party
among his subjects, besides the Catholics, in supporting this act of
authority. To the surprise of the harassed and persecuted Presbyterians,
they heard the principles of toleration every where extolled, and found
that full permission was granted to attend conventicles; an offence
which, even during this reign, had been declared no less than a capital
enormity. The king's declaration, however, of indulgence, contained
clauses sufficient to depress their joy. As if Popery were already
predominant, he declared, "that he never would use force or invincible
necessity against any man on account of his persuasion of the Protestant
religion;" a promise surely of toleration given to the Protestants with
great precaution, and admitting a considerable latitude for persecution
and violence. It is likewise remarkable, that the king declared in
express terms, "that he had thought fit, by his sovereign authority,
prerogative royal, and absolute power, which all his subjects were to
obey, without reserve, to grant this royal toleration."

The dangerous designs of other princes are to be collected by a
comparison of their several actions, or by a discovery of their more
secret counsels: but so blinded was James with zeal, so transported
by his imperious temper, that even his proclamations and public edicts
contain expressions which, without further inquiry, may suffice to his

The English well knew that the king, by the constitution of their
government, thought himself entitled, as indeed he was, to as ample
authority in his southern as in his northern kingdom; and therefore,
though the declaration of indulgence published for England was more
cautiously expressed, they could not but be alarmed by the arbitrary
treatment to which their neighbors were exposed. It is even remarkable,
that the English declaration contained clauses of a strange import. The
king there promised, that he would maintain his loving subjects in all
their properties and possessions, as well of church and abbey lands as
of any other. Men thought that, if the full establishment of Popery were
not at hand, this promise was quite superfluous; and they concluded,
that the king was so replete with joy on the prospect of that glorious
event, that he could not, even for a moment, refrain from expressing it.

But what afforded the most alarming prospect, was the continuance and
even increase of the violent and precipitate conduct of affairs in
Ireland. Tyrconnel was now vested with full authority; and carried over
with him as chancellor one Fitton, a man who was taken from a jail, and
who had been convicted of forgery and other crimes, but who compensated
for all his enormities by a headlong zeal for the Catholic religion.
He was even heard to say from the bench, that the Protestants were all
rogues, and that there was not one among forty thousand that was not a
traitor, a rebel, and a villain. The whole strain of the administration
was suitable to such sentiments. The Catholics were put in possession
of the council table, of the courts of judicature, and of the bench
of justices. In order to make them masters of the parliament, the same
violence was exercised that had been practised in England. The charters
of Dublin and of all the corporations were annulled; and new charters
were granted, subjecting the corporations to the will of the sovereign.
The Protestant freemen were expelled, Catholics introduced; and the
latter sect, as they always were the majority in number, were now
invested with the whole power of the kingdom. The act of settlement was
the only obstacle to their enjoying the whole property; and Tyrconnel
had formed a scheme for calling a parliament, in order to reverse that
act, and empower the king to bestow all the lands of Ireland on his
Catholic subjects. But in this scheme he met with opposition from the
moderate Catholics in the king's council. Lord Bellasis went even so
far as to affirm with an oath, "that that fellow in Ireland was fool
and madman enough to ruin ten kingdoms." The decay of trade, from
the desertion of the Protestants, was represented; the sinking of the
revenue; the alarm communicated to England: and by these considerations
the king's resolutions were for some time suspended; though it was easy
to foresee, from the usual tenor of his conduct, which side would at
last preponderate.

But the king was not content with discovering in his own kingdoms the
imprudence of his conduct: he was resolved that all Europe should be
witness to it. He publicly sent the earl of Castelmaine ambassador
extraordinary to Rome, in order to express his obeisance to the pope,
and to make advances for reconciling his kingdoms, in form, to the
Catholic communion. Never man, who came on so important an errand, met
with so many neglects, and even affronts, as Castelmaine. The pontiff,
instead of being pleased with this forward step, concluded, that a
scheme conducted with so much indiscretion, could never possibly be
successful. And as he was engaged in a violent quarrel with the French
monarch, a quarrel which interested him more nearly than the conversion
of England, he bore little regard to James, whom he believed too closely
connected with his capital enemy.

The only proof of complaisance which James received from the pontiff,
was his sending a nuncio to England, in return for the embassy. By act
of parliament, any communication with the pope was made treason: yet so
little regard did the king pay to the laws, that he gave the nuncio a
public and solemn reception at Windsor. The duke of Somerset, one of
the bed-chamber, because he refused to assist at this ceremony, was
dismissed from his employment. The nuncio resided openly in London
during the rest of this reign. Four Catholic bishops were publicly
consecrated in the king's chapel, and sent out, under the title
of vicars apostolical, to exercise the episcopal function in their
respective dioceses. Their pastoral letters, directed to the lay
Catholics of England, were printed and dispersed by the express
allowance and permission of the king. The regular clergy of that
communion appeared in court in the habits of their order; and some of
them were so indiscreet as to boast, that, in a little time, they hoped
to walk in procession through the capital.

While the king shocked in the most open manner all the principles and
prejudices of his Protestant subjects, he could not sometimes but be
sensible, that he stood in need of their assistance for the execution of
his designs. He had himself, by virtue of his prerogative, suspended
the penal laws, and dispensed with the test; but he would gladly have
obtained the sanction of parliament to these acts of power; and he knew
that, without this authority, his edicts alone would never afford a
durable security to the Catholics. He had employed, therefore, with the
members of parliament many private conferences, which were then called
"closetings;" and he used every expedient of reasons, menaces, and
promises to break their obstinacy in this particular. Finding all his
efforts fruitless, he had dissolved the parliament, and was determined
to call a new one, from which he expected more complaisance and
submission. By the practice of annulling the charters, the king was
become master of all the corporations, and could at pleasure change
every where the whole magistracy. The church party, therefore, by whom
the crown had been hitherto so remarkably supported, and to whom the
king visibly owed his safety from all the efforts of his enemies, was
deprived of authority; and the dissenters, those very enemies, were
first in London, and afterwards in every other corporation, substituted
in their place. Not content with this violent and dangerous innovation,
the king appointed certain regulators to examine the qualifications of
electors; and directions were given them to exclude all such as adhered
to the test and penal statutes.[*]

     * The elections in some places, particularly in York, were
     transferred from the people to the magistrates, who, by the
     new charter, were all named by the crown. Sir John Reresby's
     Memoirs, p. 272. This was in reality nothing different from
     the king's naming the members. The same act of authority had
     been employed in all the boroughs of Scotland.

Queries to this purpose were openly proposed in all places, in order
to try the sentiments of men, and enable the king to judge of the
proceedings of the future parliament. The power of the crown was at
this time so great, and the revenue managed by James's frugality, so
considerable and independent, that, if he had embraced any national
party, he had been insured of success, and might have carried his
authority to what length he pleased. But the Catholics, to whom he
had entirely devoted himself, were scarcely the hundredth part of the
people. Even the Protestant nonconformists, whom he so much courted,
were little more than the twentieth; and, what was worse, reposed no
confidence in the unnatural alliance contracted with the Catholics, and
in the principles of toleration, which, contrary to their usual practice
in all ages, seemed at present to be adopted by that sect. The king,
therefore finding little hopes of success, delayed the summoning of
a parliament, and proceeded still in the exercise of his illegal and
arbitrary authority.

The whole power in Ireland had been committed to Catholics. In Scotland,
all the ministers whom the king chiefly trusted, were converts to
that religion. Every great office in England, civil and military, was
gradually transferred from the Protestants. Rochester and Clarendon,
the king's brothers-in-law, though they had ever been faithful to his
interests, could not, by all their services, atone for their adherence
to the national religion; and had been dismissed from their employments.
The violent Jefferies himself, though he had sacrificed justice and
humanity to the court, yet, because he refused also to give up his
religion, was declining in favor and interest. Nothing now remained but
to open the door in the church and universities to the intrusion of the
Catholics. It was not long before the king made this rash effort; and
by constraining the prelacy and established church to seek protection
in the principles of liberty, he at last left himself entirely without
friends and adherents.

Father Francis, a Benedictine, was recommended by the king's mandate to
the university of Cambridge for the degree of master of arts; and as it
was usual for the university to confer that degree on persons eminent
for learning, without regard to their religion; and as they had even
admitted lately the secretary to the ambassador of Morocco; the king on
that account thought himself the better entitled to compliance. But
the university considered, that there was a great difference between
a compliment bestowed on foreigners, and degrees which gave a title to
vote in all the elections and statutes cf the university, and which,
if conferred on the Catholics would infallibly in time render that sect
entirely superior. They therefore refused to obey the king's mandate,
and were cited to appear before the court of ecclesiastical commission.
The vice-chancellor was suspended by that court; but as the university
chose a man of spirit to succeed him, the king thought proper for the
present to drop his pretensions.

The attempt upon the university of Oxford was prosecuted with more
inflexible obstinacy, and was attended with more important consequences.
This university had lately, in their famous decree, made a solemn
profession of passive obedience; and the court, probably, expected that
they would show their sincerity when their turn came to practise that
doctrine; which, though, if carried to the utmost extent it be contrary
both to reason and to nature, is apt to meet with the more effectual
opposition from the latter principle. The president of Magdalen College,
one of the richest foundations in Europe, dying about this time, a
mandate was sent in favor of Farmer, a new convert, but one who, besides
his being a Catholic, had not in other respects the qualifications
required by the statutes for enjoying that office. The fellows of the
college made submissive applications to the king for recalling his
mandate; but before they received an answer, the day came on which, by
their statutes, they were obliged to proceed to an election. They
chose Dr. Hough, a man of virtue, as well as of the firmness and vigor
requisite for maintaining his own rights and those of the university.
In order to punish the college for this contumacy, as it was called, an
inferior ecclesiastical commission was sent down, and the new president
and the fellows were cited before it. So little regard had been paid to
any consideration besides religion, that Farmer, on inquiry, was found
guilty of the lowest and most scandalous vices; insomuch that even the
ecclesiastical commissioners were ashamed to insist on his election. A
new mandate, therefore, was issued in favor of Parker, lately created
bishop of Oxford, a man of a prostitute character, but who, like Farmer,
atoned for all his vices by his avowed willingness to embrace the
Catholic religion. The college represented, that all presidents had ever
been appointed by election and there were few instances of the king's
interposing by his recommendation in favor of any candidate: that,
having already made a regular election of a president, they could not
deprive him of his office, and, during his lifetime, substitute any
other in his place: that, even if there were a vacancy, Parker, by the
statutes of their founder, could not be chosen: that they had all of
them bound themselves by oath to observe these statutes, and never on
any account to accept of a dispensation and that the college had at all
times so much distinguished itself by its loyalty, that nothing but the
most invincible necessity could now oblige them to oppose his majesty's
inclinations. All these reasons availed them nothing. The president and
all the fellows, except two who complied, were expelled the college; and
Parker was put in possession of the office. This act of violence, of
all those which were committed during the reign of James, is perhaps
the most illegal and arbitrary. When the dispensing power was the most
strenuously insisted on by court lawyers, it had still been allowed,
that the statutes which regard private property could not legally be
infringed by that prerogative: yet in this instance it appeared, that
even these were not now secure from invasion. The privileges of a
college are attacked: men are illegally dispossessed of their property,
for adhering to their duty, to their oaths, and to their religion: the
fountains of the church are attempted to be poisoned; nor would it
be long, it was concluded, ere all ecclesiastical, as well as civil
preferments, would be bestowed on such as, negligent of honor,
virtue, and sincerity, basely sacrificed their faith to the reigning
superstition. Such were the general sentiments; and as the universities
have an intimate connection with the ecclesiastical establishments, and
mightily interest all those who have there received their education,
this arbitrary proceeding begat a universal discontent against the
king's administration.

The next measure of the court was an insult still more open on the
ecclesiastics, and rendered the breach between the king and that
powerful body fatal as well as incurable. It is strange that James, when
he felt, from the sentiments of his own heart, what a mighty influence
religious zeal had over him should yet be so infatuated as never once to
suspect, that it might possibly have a proportionable authority over
his subjects. Could he have profited by repeated experience, he had seen
instances enough of their strong aversion to that communion, which,
from a violent, imperious temper, he was determined, by every possible
expedient, to introduce into his kingdoms.

{1688.} The king published a second declaration of indulgence, almost
in the same terms with the former; and he subjoined an order, that,
immediately after divine service, it should be read by the clergy in all
the churches. As they were known universally to disapprove of the use
made of the suspending power, this clause, they thought, could be meant
only as an insult upon them; and they were sensible, that by their
compliance, they should expose themselves both to public contempt,
on account of their tame behavior, and to public hatred, by their
indirectly patronizing so obnoxious a prerogative.[*] They were
determined, therefore, almost universally, to preserve the regard of the
people; their only protection, while the laws were become of so
little validity, and while the court was so deeply engaged in opposite
interests. In order to encourage them in this resolution, six prelates,
namely, Lloyde bishop of St. Asaph, Ken of Bath and Wells, Turner
of Ely, Lake of Chichester, White of Peterborough, and Trelawney of
Bristol, met privately with the primate, and concerted the form of a
petition to the king. They there represent, in few words, that, though
possessed of the highest sense of loyalty, a virtue of which the church
of England had given such eminent testimonies; and though desirous of
affording ease in a legal way to all Protestant dissenters; yet, because
the declaration of indulgence was founded on a prerogative formerly
declared illegal by parliament, they could not, in prudence, honor, or
conscience, so far make themselves parties, as the distribution of it
all over the kingdom would be interpreted to amount to. They therefore
besought the king, that he would not insist upon their reading that

     * When Charles dissolved his last parliament, he set forth a
     declaration, giving his reasons for that measure, and this
     declaration the clergy had been ordered to read to the
     people after divine service. These orders were agreeable to
     their party prejudices, and they willingly submitted to
     them. The contrary was now the case.

     ** The words of the petition were: That the great averseness
     found in themselves to their distributing and publishing in
     all their churches your majesty's late declaration for
     liberty of conscience, proceeds neither from any want of
     duty and obedience to your majesty, (our holy mother the
     church of England, being both in her principles and her
     constant practice unquestionably loyal, and having to her
     great honor been more than once publicly acknowledged to be
     so by your gracious majesty,) nor yet from any want of
     tenderness to dissenters, in relation to whom we are willing
     to come to such a temper as shall be thought fit, when the
     matter shall be considered and settled in parliament and
     convocation; but, among many other considerations, from this
     especially, because that declaration is founded upon such a
     dispensing power as hath been often declared illegal in
     parliament, and particularly in the years 1662 and 1672, and
     in the beginning of your majesty's reign, and is a matter of
     so great moment and consequence to the whole nation both in
     church and state, that your petitioners cannot, in prudence,
     honor, or conscience, so far make themselves parties to it
     as a distribution of it all over the nation, and the solemn
     publication of it once and again, even in God's house, and
     in the time of divine service, must amount to in common and
     reasonable construction.

The king was incapable, not only of yielding to the greatest opposition,
but of allowing the slightest and most respectful contradiction to pass
uncensured. He immediately embraced a resolution (and his resolutions,
when once embraced, were inflexible) of punishing the bishops, for a
petition so popular in its matter, and so prudent and cautious in the
expression. As the petition was delivered him in private, he summoned
them before the council; and questioned them whether they would
acknowledge it. The bishops saw his intention, and seemed long desirous
to decline answering; but being pushed by the chancellor, they at
last avowed the petition. On their refusal to give bail, an order was
immediately drawn for their commitment to the Tower; and the crown
lawyers received directions to prosecute them for the seditious libel
which, it was pretended, they had composed and uttered.

The people were already aware of the danger to which the prelates were
exposed; and were raised to the highest pitch of anxiety and attention
with regard to the issue of this extraordinary affair. But when they
beheld these fathers of the church brought from court under the custody
of a guard, when they saw them embark in vessels on the river, and
conveyed towards the Tower, all their affection for liberty, all their
zeal for religion, blazed up at once; and they flew to behold this
affecting spectacle. The whole shore was covered with crowds of
prostrate spectators, who at once implored the blessing of those holy
pastors, and addressed their petitions towards heaven for protection
during this extreme danger to which their country and their religion
stood exposed. Even the soldiers, seized with the contagion of the same
spirit, flung themselves on their knees before the distressed prelates
and craved the benediction of those criminals whom they were appointed
to guard. Some persons ran into the water, that they might participate
more nearly in those blessings which the prelates were distributing
on all around them. The bishops themselves, during this triumphant
suffering, augmented the general favor, by the most lowly, submissive
deportment; and they still exhorted the people to fear God, honor the
king, and maintain their loyalty; expressions more animating than the
most inflammatory speeches. And no sooner had they entered the precincts
of the Tower than they hurried to chapel, in order to return thanks
for those afflictions which heaven, in defence of its holy cause, had
thought them worthy to endure.

Their passage, when conducted to their trial, was, if possible, attended
by greater crowds of anxious spectators. All men saw the dangerous
crisis to which affairs were reduced, and were sensible, that the king
could not have put the issue on a cause more unfavorable for himself
than that in which he had so imprudently engaged. Twenty-nine temporal
peers (for the other prelates kept aloof) attended the prisoners to
Westminster Hall; and such crowds of gentry followed the procession,
that scarcely was any room left for the populace to enter. The lawyers
for the bishops were, Sir Robert Sawyer, Sir Francis Pemberton,
Pollexfen, Treby, and Sommers. No cause, even during the prosecution
of the Popish plot, was ever heard with so much zeal and attention. The
popular torrent, which of itself ran fierce and strong, was now further
irritated by the opposition of government.

The council for the bishops pleaded, that the law allowed subjects,
if they thought themselves aggrieved in any particular, to apply by
petition to the king, provided they kept within certain bounds, which
the same law prescribed to them, and which, in the present petition, the
prelates had strictly observed: that an active obedience in cases
which were contrary to conscience, was never pretended to be due
to government; and law was allowed to be the great measure of the
compliance and submission of subjects: that when any person found
commands to be imposed upon him which he could not obey, it was more
respectful in him to offer his reasons for refusal, than to remain in
a sullen and refractory silence: that it was no breach of duty in
subjects, even though not called upon, to discover their sense of public
measures, in which every one had so intimate a concern: that the bishops
in the present case were called upon, and must either express their
approbation by compliance, or their disapprobation by petition: that
it could be no sedition to deny the prerogative of suspending the laws;
because there really was no such prerogative, nor ever could be, in a
legal and limited government: that even if this prerogative were real,
it had yet been frequently controverted before the whole nation, both in
Westminster Hall and in both houses of parliament; and no one had ever
dreamed of punishing the denial of it as criminal: that the prelates,
instead of making an appeal to the people, had applied in private to his
majesty, and had even delivered their petition so secretly, that, except
by the confession extorted from them before the council, it was found
impossible to prove them the authors: and that though the petition was
afterwards printed and dispersed, it was not so much as attempted to be
proved that they had the least knowledge of the publication.

These arguments were convincing in themselves, and were heard with a
favorable disposition by the audience. Even some of the judges, though
their seats were held during pleasure, declared themselves in favor
of the prisoners. The jury, however, from what cause is unknown, took
several hours to deliberate, and kept, during so long a time, the people
in the most anxious expectation. But when the wished-for verdict, not
guilty, was at last pronounced, the intelligence was echoed through the
hall, was conveyed to the crowds without, was carried into the city, and
was propagated with infinite joy throughout the kingdom.

Ever since Monmouth's rebellion, the king had every summer encamped his
army on Hounslow Heath, that he might both improve their discipline, and
by so unusual a spectacle overawe the mutinous people. A Popish chapel
was openly erected in the midst of the camp; and great pains were taken,
though in vain, to bring over the soldiers to that communion. The few
converts whom the priests had made, were treated with such contempt and
ignominy, as deterred every one from following the example. Even the
Irish officers, whom the king introduced into the army, served rather,
from the aversion borne them, to weaken his interest among them. It
happened, that the very day on which the trial of the bishops was
finished, James had reviewed the troops, and had retired into the tent
of Lord Feversham, the general; when he was surprised to hear a great
uproar in the camp, attended with the most extravagant symptoms
of tumultuary joy. He suddenly inquired the cause, and was told by
Feversham, "It was nothing but the rejoicing of the soldiers for the
acquittal of the bishops." "Do you call that nothing?" replied he: "but
so much the worse for them."

The king was still determined to rush forward in the same course in
which he was already, by his precipitate career, so fatally advanced.
Though he knew that every order of men, except a handful of Catholics,
were enraged at his past measures, and still more terrified with the
future prospect; though he saw that the same discontents had reached
the army, his sole resource during the general disaffection; yet was he
incapable of changing his measures, or even of remitting his violence
in the prosecution of them. He struck out two of the judges, Powel and
Holloway, who had appeared to favor the bishops: he issued orders to
prosecute all those clergymen who had not read his declaration; that is,
the whole church of England, two hundred excepted: he sent a mandate to
the new fellows whom he had obtruded on Magdalen College, to elect for
president, in the room of Parker, lately deceased, one Gifford, a doctor
of the Sorbonne, and titular bishop of Madura: and he is even said
to have nominated the same person to the see of Oxford. So great an
infatuation is perhaps an object of compassion rather than of anger;
and is really surprising in a man who, in other respects, was not wholly
deficient in sense and accomplishments.

A few days before the acquittal of the bishops, an event happened which,
in the king's sentiments, much overbalanced all the mortifications
received on that occasion. The queen was delivered of a son, who was
baptized by the name of James. This blessing was impatiently longed for,
not only by the king and queen, but by all the zealous Catholics both
abroad and at home. They saw, that the king was past middle age; and
that on his death the succession must devolve to the prince and princess
of Orange, two zealous Protestants, who would soon replace every thing
on ancient foundations. Vows, therefore, were offered at every shrine
for a male successor: pilgrimages were undertaken, particularly one to
Loretto, by the duchess of Modena; and success was chiefly attributed to
that pious journey. But in proportion as this event was agreeable to
the Catholics, it increased the disgust of the Protestants, by depriving
them of that pleasing though somewhat distant prospect, in which at
present they flattered themselves. Calumny even went so far as to
ascribe to the king the design of imposing on the world a supposititious
child, who might be educated in his principles, and after his death
support the Catholic religion in his dominions. The nation almost
universally believed him capable, from bigotry, of committing any
crime; as they had seen that, from like motives, he was guilty of every
imprudence: and the affections of nature, they thought, would be easily
sacrificed to the superior motive of propagating a Catholic and orthodox
faith. The present occasion was not the first when that calumny had been
invented. In the year 1682, the queen, then duchess of York, had been
pregnant; and rumors were spread that an imposture would at that time be
obtruded upon the nation: but happily, the infant proved a female, and
thereby spared the party all the trouble of supporting their improbable

     * This story is taken notice of in a weekly paper, the
     Observator, published at that very time, 23d of August,
     1682. Party zeal is capable of swallowing the most
     incredible story; but it is surely singular, that the same
     calumny, when once baffled, should yet be renewed with such



{1688.} While every motive, civil and religious, concurred to alienate
from the king every rank and denomination of men, it might be expected
that his throne would, without delay fall to pieces by its own weight:
but such is the influence of established government, so averse are men
from beginning hazardous enterprises, that, had not an attack been made
from abroad, affairs might long have remained in their present delicate
situation, and James might at last have prevailed in his rash and
ill-concerted projects.

The prince of Orange, ever since his marriage with the lady Mary, had
maintained a very prudent conduct; agreeably to that sound understanding
with which he was so eminently endowed. He made it a maxim to concern
himself little in English affairs, and never by any measure to disgust
any of the factions, or give umbrage to the prince who filled the
throne. His natural inclination, as well as his interest, led him
to employ himself with assiduous industry in the transactions on the
continent, and to oppose the grandeur of the French monarch, against
whom he had long, both from personal and political considerations,
conceived a violent animosity. By this conduct he gratified the
prejudices of the whole English nation: but, as he crossed the
inclinations of Charles, who sought peace by compliance with France, he
had much declined in the favor and affections of that monarch.

James, on his accession, found it so much his interest to live on
good terms with the heir apparent, that he showed the prince some
demonstrations of friendship; and the prince, on his part, was not
wanting in every instance of duty and regard towards the king. On
Monmouth's invasion, he immediately despatched over six regiments of
British troops, which were in the Dutch service; and he offered to take
the command of the king's forces against the rebels. How little however
he might approve of James's administration, he always kept a total
silence on the subject, and gave no countenance to those discontents
which were propagated with such industry throughout the nation.

It was from the application of James himself that the prince first
openly took any part in English affairs. Notwithstanding the lofty ideas
which the king had entertained of his prerogative, he found that the
edicts emitted from it still wanted much of the authority of laws, and
that the continuance of them might in the issue become dangerous both
to himself and to the Catholics, whom he desired to favor. An act of
parliament alone could insure the indulgence or toleration which he had
labored to establish; and he hoped that, if the prince would declare in
favor of that scheme, the members who had hitherto resisted all his own
applications, would at last be prevailed with to adopt it. The consent,
therefore, of the prince to the repeal of the penal statutes and of the
test was strongly solicited by the king; and in order to engage him to
agree to that measure, hopes were given,[*] that England would second
him in all those enterprises which his active and extensive genius had
with such success planned on the continent. He was at this time the
centre of all the negotiations of Christendom.

     * Bennet vol. i. p. 711. D'Avanx, April 15, 1688.

The emperor and the king of Spain, as the prince well knew, were enraged
by the repeated injuries which they had suffered from the ambition of
Lewis, and still more by the frequent insults which his pride had made
them undergo. He was apprised of the influence of these monarchs over
the Catholic princes of the empire: he had himself acquired great
authority with the Protestant: and he formed a project of uniting Europe
in one general league against the encroachments of France, which seemed
so nearly to threaten the independence of all its neighbors.

No characters are more incompatible than those of a conqueror and a
persecutor; and Lewis soon found, that besides his weakening France by
the banishment of so many useful subjects, the refugees had inflamed all
the Protestant rations against him, and had raised him enemies, who, in
defence of their religion as well as liberty, were obstinately resolved
to oppose his progress. The city of Amsterdam and other towns in
Holland, which had before fallen into a dependence on France, being
terrified with the accounts which they every moment received of the
furious persecutions against the Hugonots, had now dropped all domestic
faction, and had entered into an entire confidence with the prince of
Orange.[*] The Protestant princes of the empire formed a separate league
at Magdebourg for the defence of their religion. The English were anew
enraged at the blind bigotry of their sovereign, and were disposed to
embrace the most desperate resolutions against him. From a view of
the state of Europe during this period, it appears that Lewis, besides
sullying an illustrious reign, had wantonly, by this persecution, raised
invincible barriers to his arms, which otherwise it had been difficult,
if not impossible, to resist.

     * D'Avaux, July 24, 1681; June 10 October 15, November 11
     1688; vol. iv p. 30.

The prince of Orange knew how to avail himself of all these advantages.
By his intrigues and influence, there was formed at Augsbourg a league,
in which the whole empire united for its defence against the French
monarch. Spain and Holland became parties in the alliance. The accession
of Savoy was afterwards obtained. Sweden and Denmark seemed to favor the
same cause. But though these numerous states composed the greater part
of Europe, the league was still deemed imperfect and unequal to its end,
so long as England maintained that neutrality in which she had hitherto

James, though more prone to bigotry, was more sensible to his own and to
national honor than his brother; and had he not been restrained by the
former motive, he would have maintained with more spirit the interests
and independence of his kingdoms. When a prospect, therefore, appeared
of effecting his religious schemes by opposing the progress of France,
he was not averse to that measure; and he gave his son-in-law room to
hope, that, by concurring with his views in England, he might prevail
with him to second those projects which the prince was so ambitious of

A more tempting offer could not be made to a person of his enterprising
character: but the objections to that measure, upon deliberation,
appeared to him unsurmountable. The king, he observed, had incurred the
hatred of his own subjects. Great apprehensions were entertained of
his designs: the only resource which the nation saw, was in the future
succession of the prince and princess: should he concur in those dreaded
measures, he should draw on himself all the odium under which the king
labored; the nation might even refuse to bear the expense of alliances,
which would in that case become so suspicious: and he might himself
incur danger of losing a succession which was awaiting him, and which
the egregious indiscretion of the king seemed even to give him hopes
of reaping before it should devolve to him by the course of nature. The
prince, therefore, would go no further than to promise his consent to
the repeal of the penal statutes, by which the nonconformists as well
as Catholics were exposed to punishment: the test he deemed a security
absolutely necessary for the established religion.

The king did not remain satisfied with a single trial. There was one
Stuart, a Scotch lawyer, who had been banished for pretended treasonable
practices; but who had afterwards obtained a pardon, and had been
recalled. By the king's directions, Stuart wrote several letters
to Pensionary Fagel, with whom he had contracted an acquaintance in
Holland; and besides urging all the motives for an unlimited toleration,
he desired that his reasons should, in the king's name, be communicated
to the prince and princess of Orange. Fagel during a long time made no
reply; but finding that his silence was construed into an assent, he
at last expressed his own sentiments and those of their highnesses. He
said, that it was their fixed opinion, that no man, merely because he
differed from the established faith, should ever, while he remained a
peaceable subject, be exposed to any punishment, or even vexation:
that the prince and princess gave heartily their consent for repealing
legally all the penal statutes, as well those which had been enacted
against the Catholics as against the Protestant nonconformists; and
would concur with the king in any measure for that purpose: that the
test was not to be considered as a penalty inflicted on the professors
of any religion, but as a security provided for the established worship:
that it was no punishment on men to be excluded from public offices, and
to live peaceably on their own revenues or industry: that even in the
United Provinces, which were so often cited as models of toleration,
though all sects were admitted, yet civil offices were enjoyed by the
professors of the established religion alone: that military commands,
indeed, were sometimes bestowed on Catholics; but as they were
conferred with great precaution, and still lay under the control of the
magistrate, they could give no just reason for umbrage: and that their
highnesses, however desirous of gratifying the king, and of endeavoring
by every means to render his reign peaceable and happy, could not
agree to any measure which would expose their religion to such imminent

When this letter was published, as it soon was, it inspired great
courage into the Protestants of all denominations, and served to keep
them united in their opposition to the encroachments of the Catholics.
On the other hand, the king, who was not content with a simple
toleration for his own religion, but was resolved that it should enjoy
great credit, if not an absolute superiority, was extremely disgusted,
and took every occasion to express his displeasure, as well against the
prince of Orange as the United Provinces. He gave the Algerine pirates,
who preyed on the Dutch, a reception in his harbors, and liberty to
dispose of their prizes. He revived some complaints of the East India
Company with regard to the affair of Bantam,[*] He required the six
British regiments in the Dutch service to be sent over. He began to
put his navy in a formidable condition. And from all his movements, the
Hollanders entertained apprehensions that he sought only an occasion and
pretence for making war upon them.

The prince, in his turn, resolved to push affairs with more vigor, and
to preserve all the English Protestants in his interests, as well as
maintain them firm in their present union against the Catholics. He knew
that men of education in England were, many of them, retained in their
religion more by honor than by principle;[**] and that, though every one
was ashamed to be the first proselyte, yet if the example were once
set by some eminent persons, interest would every day make considerable
conversions to a communion which was so zealously encouraged by the

     * D'Avaux, 21st of January, 1687.

     ** Burnet.

Dykvelt therefore was sent over as envoy to England; and the prince
gave him instructions, besides publicly remonstrating on the conduct of
affairs both at home and abroad, to apply in his name, after a proper
manner, to every sect and denomination. To the church party he sent
assurances of favor and regard, and protested, that his education in
Holland had nowise prejudiced him against Episcopal government. The
nonconformists were exhorted not to be deceived by the fallacious
caresses of a Popish court, but to wait patiently till, in the fulness
of time, laws enacted by Protestants should give them that toleration
which, with so much reason, they had long demanded. Dykvelt executed his
commission with such dexterity, that all orders of men cast their eyes
towards Holland, and expected thence a deliverance from those dangers
with which their religion and liberty were so nearly threatened.

Many of the most considerable persons, both in church and state, made
secret applications to Dykvelt, and through him to the prince of Orange.
Admiral Herbert too, though a man of great expense, and seemingly of
little religion, had thrown up his employments, and had retired to the
Hague, where he assured the prince of the disaffection of the seamen, by
whom that admiral was extremely beloved. Admiral Russel, cousin german
to the unfortunate lord of that name, passed frequently between England
and Holland, and kept the communication open with all the great men of
the Protestant party. Henry Sidney, brother to Algernon, and uncle to
the earl of Sunderland, came over under pretence of drinking the
waters at Spaw, and conveyed still stronger assurances of a universal
combination against the measures of the king. Lord Dumblaine, son of
the earl of Danby, being master of a frigate, made several voyages to
Holland, and carried from many of the nobility tenders of duty, and even
considerable sums of money,[*] to the prince of Orange.

     * D'Avaux, 14th and 24th of September, 8th and 15th of
     October, 1688.

There remained, however, some reasons which retained all parties in awe,
and kept them from breaking out into immediate hostility. The prince,
on the one hand, was afraid of hazarding, by violent measures, an
inheritance which the laws insured to the princess; and the English
Protestants, on the other, from the prospect of her succession, still
entertained hopes of obtaining at last a peaceable and a safe redress
of all their grievances. But when a son was born to the king, both
the prince and the English nation were reduced to despair, and saw no
resource but in a confederacy for their mutual interests. And thus
the event which James had so long made the object of his most ardent
prayers, and from which he expected the firm establishment of his
throne, proved the immediate cause of his ruin and downfall.

Zuylestein, who had been sent over to congratulate the king on the birth
of his son, brought back to the prince invitations from most of the
great men in England, to assist them by his arms in the recovery of
their laws and liberties. The bishop of London, the earls of Danby,
Nottingham, Devonshire, Dorset, the duke of Norfolk, the lords Lovelace
Delamere, Paulet, Eland, Mr. Hambden, Powle, Lester, besides many
eminent citizens of London; all these persons, though of opposite
parties, concurred in their applications to the prince. The whigs,
suitably to their ancient principles of liberty, which had led them
to attempt the exclusion bill, easily agreed to oppose a king, whose
conduct had justified whatever his worst enemies had prognosticated
concerning his succession. The tories and the church party, finding
their past services forgotten, their rights invaded, their religion
threatened, agreed to drop for the present all overstrained doctrines of
submission, and attend to the great and powerful dictates of nature. The
nonconformists, dreading the caresses of known and inveterate enemies,
deemed the offers of toleration more secure from a prince educated in
those principles, and accustomed to that practice. And thus all faction
was for a time laid asleep in England; and rival parties, forgetting
their animosity, had secretly concurred in a design of resisting
their unhappy and misguided sovereign. The earl of Shrewsbury, who
had acquired great popularity by deserting, at this time, the Catholic
religion, in which he had been educated, left his regiment, mortgaged
his estate for forty thousand pounds, and made a tender of his sword and
purse to the prince of Orange. Lord Wharton, notwithstanding his age and
infirmities, had taken a journey for the same purpose. Lord Mordaunt
was at the Hague, and pushed on the enterprise with that ardent and
courageous spirit for which he was so eminent. Even Sunderland,
the king's favorite minister, is believed to have entered into a
correspondence with the prince; and, at the expense of his own honor
and his master's interests, to have secretly favored a cause which, he
foresaw, was likely soon to predominate.[*]

     * D'Avaux was always of that opinion. See his Negotiations,
     6th and 20th of May, 18th, 27th of September, 22d of
     November, 1688. On the whole, that opinion is the most

The prince was easily engaged to yield to the applications of the
English, and to embrace the defence of a nation which, during its
present fears and distresses, regarded him as its sole protector.
The great object of his ambition was to be placed at the head of a
confederate army, and by his valor to avenge the injuries which he
himself, his country, and his allies, had sustained from the haughty
Lewis. But while England remained under the present government, he
despaired of ever forming a league which would be able, with any
probability of success, to make opposition against that powerful
monarch. The ties of affinity could not be supposed to have great
influence over a person of the prince's rank and temper much more as he
knew that they were at first unwillingly contracted by the king, and had
never since been cultivated by any essential favors or good offices. Or
should any reproach remain upon him for violating the duties of private
life, the glory of delivering oppressed nations would, he hoped, be
able, in the eyes of reasonable men, to make ample compensation. He
could not well expect, on the commencement of his enterprise, that
it would lead him to mount the throne of England: but he undoubtedly
foresaw, that its success would establish his authority in that kingdom.
And so egregious was James's temerity, that there was no advantage so
great or obvious, which that prince's indiscretion might not afford his

The prince of Orange, throughout his whole life, was peculiarly happy
in the situations in which he was placed. He saved his own country from
ruin, he restored the liberties of these kingdoms, he supported the
general independency of Europe. And thus, though his virtue, it is
confessed, be not the purest which we meet with in history, it will be
difficult to find any person whose actions and conduct have contributed
more eminently to the general interests of society and of mankind.

The time when the prince entered on his enterprise was well chosen; as
the people were then in the highest ferment on account of the insult
which the imprisonment and trial of the bishops had put upon the
church, and indeed upon all the Protestants of the nation. His method
of conducting his preparations was no less wise and politic. Under other
pretences he had beforehand made considerable augmentations to the Dutch
navy; and the ships were at that time lying in harbor. Some additional
troops were also levied; and sums of money raised for other purposes,
were diverted by the prince to the use of this expedition. The states
had given him their entire confidence; and partly from terror of the
power of France, partly from disgust at some restraints laid on their
commerce in that kingdom, were sensible how necessary success in this
enterprise was become to their domestic happiness and security. Many of
the neighboring princes regarded him as their guardian and protector,
and were guided by him in all their counsels. He held conferences with
Castanaga, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, with the electors of
Brandenburgh and Saxony, with the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, and with
the whole house of Lunenbourg. It was agreed, that these princes should
replace the troops employed against England, and should protect the
United Provinces during the absence of the prince of Orange. Their
forces were already on their march for that purpose: a considerable
encampment of the Dutch army was formed at Nimeguen: every place was in
movement: and though the roots of this conspiracy reached from one end
of Europe to the other, so secret were the prince's counsels, and so
fortunate was the situation of affairs, that he could still cover his
preparations under other pretences; and little suspicion was entertained
of his real intentions.

The king of France, menaced by the league of Augsbourg, had resolved to
strike the first blow against the allies; and having sought a quarrel
with the emperor and the elector Palatine, he had invaded Germany with a
great Army, and had laid siege to Philipsbourg. The elector of Cologne,
who was also bishop of Liege and Munster, and whose territories almost
entirely surrounded the United Provinces, had died about this time; and
the candidates for that rich succession were Prince Clement of Bavaria,
supported by the house of Austria, and the cardinal of Furstemberg, a
prelate dependent on France. The pope, who favored the allies, was able
to throw the balance between the parties, and Prince Clement was chosen;
a circumstance which contributed extremely to the security of the
states. But as the cardinal kept possession of many of the fortresses,
and had applied to France for succor, the neighboring territories were
full of troops; and by this means the preparations of the Dutch and
their allies seemed intended merely for their own defence against the
different enterprises of Lewis.

All the artifices, however, of the prince could not entirely conceal his
real intentions from the sagacity of the French court. D'Avaux, Lewis's
envoy at the Hague, had been able by a comparison of circumstances,
to trace the purposes of the preparations in Holland; and he instantly
informed his master of the discovery. Lewis conveyed the intelligence to
James, and accompanied the information with an important offer. He was
willing to join a squadron of French ships to the English fleet; and to
send over any number of troops which James should judge requisite for
his security. When this proposal was rejected, he again offered to raise
the siege of Philipsbourg, to march his army into the Netherlands,
and by the terror of his arms to detain the Dutch forces in their own
country. This proposal met with no better reception.

James was not, as yet, entirely convinced that his son-in-law intended
an invasion upon England. Fully persuaded himself of the sacredness
of his own authority, he fancied that a like belief had made deep
impression on his subjects: and notwithstanding the strong symptoms of
discontent which broke out every where, such a universal combination
in rebellion appeared to him nowise credible. His army, in which he
trusted, and which he had considerably augmented, would easily be able,
he thought, to repel foreign force, and to suppress any sedition among
the populace. A small number of French troops, joined to these, might
tend only to breed discontent; and afford them a pretence for mutinying
against foreigners, so much feared and hated by the nation. A great body
of auxiliaries might indeed secure him both against an invasion from
Holland, and against the rebellion of his own subjects; but would be
able afterwards to reduce him to dependence, and render his authority
entirely precarious. Even the French invasion of the Low Countries might
be attended with dangerous consequences; and would suffice, in these
jealous times, to revive the old suspicion of a combination against
Holland, and against the Protestant religion, a suspicion which had
already produced such discontents in England. These were the views
suggested by Sunderland, and it must be confessed, that the reasons
on which they were founded were sufficiently plausible; as indeed the
situation to which the king had reduced himself was, to the last degree,
delicate and perplexing.

Still Lewis was unwilling to abandon a friend and ally, whose interests
he regarded as closely connected with his own. By the suggestion of
Skelton, the king's minister at Paris, orders were sent to D'Avaux to
remonstrate with the states, in Lewis's name, against those preparations
which they were making to invade England. The strict amity, said the
French minister, which subsists between the two monarchs, will make
Lewis regard every attempt against his ally as an act of hostility
against himself. This remonstrance had a bad effect and put the states
in a flame. What is this alliance, they asked, between France and
England, which has been so care fully concealed from us? Is it of the
same nature with the former; meant for our destruction, and for the
extirpation of the Protestant religion? If so, it is high time for us to
provide for our own defence, and to anticipate those projects which are
forming against us.

Even James was displeased with the officious step taken by Lewis for his
service. He was not reduced, he said, to the condition of the cardinal
of Furstemberg, and obliged to seek the protection of France. He
recalled Skelton, and threw him into the Tower for his rash conduct. He
solemnly disavowed D'Avaux's memorial; and protested that no alliance
subsisted between him and Lewis, but what was public and known to all
the world. The states, however, still affected to appear incredulous on
that head; [*] and the English, prepossessed against their sovereign,
firmly believed, that he had concerted a project with Lewis for their
entire subjection. Portsmouth, it was said, was to be put into the hands
of that ambitious monarch: England was to be filled with French
and Irish troops: and every man who refused to embrace the Romish
superstition, was by these bigoted princes devoted to certain

     * That there really was no new alliance formed betwixt
     France and England, appears both, from Sunderland's Apology,
     and from D'Avaux's Negotiations, lately published: see vol.
     iv. p. 18. Eng translation, 27th of September, 1687; 16th of
     March, 6th of May, 10th of August, 2d, 23d, and 24th of
     September, 5th and 7th of October, 11th of November, 1688.

These suggestions were every where spread abroad, and tended to augment
the discontents of which both the fleet and army, as well as the people,
betrayed every day the most evident symptoms. The fleet had begun to
mutiny; because Stricland, the admiral, a Roman Catholic, introduced the
mass aboard his ship, and dismissed the Protestant chaplain. It was with
some difficulty the seamen could be appeased; and they still persisted
in declaring that they would not fight against the Dutch, whom they
called friends and brethren; but would willingly give battle to the
French, whom they regarded as national enemies. The king had intended
to augment his army with Irish recruits; and he resolved to try the
experiment on the regiment of the duke of Berwick, his natural son: but
Beaumont, the lieutenant-colonel, refused to admit them; and to this
opposition five captains steadily adhered. They were all cashiered;
and had not the discontents of the army on this occasion become very
apparent, it was resolved to have punished those officers for mutiny.

The king made a trial of the dispositions of his army, in a manner
still more undisguised. Finding opposition from all the civil and
ecclesiastical orders of the kingdom, he resolved to appeal to the
military, who, if unanimous, were able alone to serve all his purposes,
and to enforce universal obedience. His intention was to engage all the
regiments, one after another, to give their consent to the repeal of the
test and penal statutes; and accordingly, the major of Litchfield's
drew out the battalion before the king, and told them, that they were
required either to enter into his majesty's views in these particulars,
or to lay down their arms. James was surprised to find that, two
captains and a few Popish soldiers excepted, the whole battalion
immediately embraced the latter part of the alternative. For some time
he remained speechless; but having recovered from his astonishment, he
commanded them to take up their arms; adding with a sullen, discontented
air, "That for the future, he would not do them the honor to apply for
their approbation."

While the king was dismayed with these symptoms of general disaffection,
he received a letter from the marquis of Albeville, his minister at the
Hague, which informed him with certainty, that he was soon to look for a
powerful invasion from Holland; and that Pensionary Fagel had at length
acknowledged, that the scope of all the Dutch naval preparations was to
transport forces into England. Though James could reasonably expect no
other intelligence, he was astonished at the news: he grew pale, and
the letter dropped from his hand: his eyes were now opened, and he found
himself on the brink of a frightful precipice, which his delusions had
hitherto concealed from him. His ministers and counsellors, equally
astonished, saw no resource but in a sudden and precipitate retraction
of all those fatal measures by which he had created to himself so many
enemies, foreign and domestic. He paid court to the Dutch, and offered
to enter into any alliance with them for common security: he replaced
in all the counties the deputy lieutenants and justices who had been
deprived of their commissions for their adherence to the test and
the penal laws: he restored the charters of London, and of all the
corporations: he annulled the court of ecclesiastical commission: he
took off the bishop of London's suspension: he reinstated the expelled
president and fellows of Magdalen College: and he was even reduced to
caress those bishops whom he had so lately prosecuted and insulted. All
these measures were regarded as symptoms of fear, not of repentance.
The bishops, instead of promising succor or suggesting comfort,
recapitulated to him all the instances of his maleadministration, and
advised him thenceforwards to follow more salutary counsel. And as
intelligence arrived of a great disaster which had befallen the Dutch
fleet, it is commonly believed, that the king recalled, for some time,
the concessions which he had made to Magdalen College; a bad sign of
his sincerity in his other concessions. Nay, so prevalent were his
unfortunate prepossessions, that amidst all his present distresses, he
could not forbear, at the baptism of the young prince, appointing the
pope to be one of the god-fathers.

The report that a supposititious child was to be imposed on the nation,
had been widely spread, and greedily received, before the birth of the
prince of Wales: but the king, who, without seeming to take notice of
the matter, might easily have quashed that ridiculous rumor, had, from
an ill-timed haughtiness, totally neglected it. He disdained, he said,
to satisfy those who could deem him capable of so base and villanous
an action. Finding that the calumny gained ground, and had made
deep impression on his subjects, he was now obliged to submit to the
mortifying task of ascertaining the reality of the birth. Though no
particular attention had been beforehand given to insure proof, the
evidence both of the queen's pregnancy and delivery was rendered
indisputable and so much the more, as no argument or proof of any
importance, nothing but popular rumor and surmise, could be thrown into
the opposite scale.

Meanwhile the prince of Orange's declaration was dispersed over the
kingdom, and met with universal approbation. All the grievances of the
nation were there enumerated: the dispensing and suspending power; the
court of ecclesiastical commission; the filling of all offices with
Catholics, and the raising of a Jesuit to be privy counsellor; the
open encouragement given to Popery, by building every where churches,
colleges, and seminaries for that sect; the displacing of judges, if
they refused to give sentence according to orders received from
court; the annulling of the charters of all the corporations, and the
subjecting of elections to arbitrary will and pleasure; the treating of
petitions, even the most modest, and from persons of the highest rank,
as criminal and seditious; the committing of the whole authority of
Ireland, civil and military, into the hands of Papists; the assuming
of an absolute power over the religion and laws of Scotland, and openly
exacting in that kingdom an obedience without reserve; and the violent
presumptions against the legitimacy of the prince of Wales. In order to
redress all these grievances, the prince said, that he intended to come
over to England with an armed force, which might protect him from the
king's evil counsellors; and that his sole aim was to have a legal and
free parliament assembled, who might provide for the safety and liberty
of the nation, as well as examine the proofs of the prince of Wales's
legitimacy. No one, he added, could entertain such hard thoughts of him
as to imagine, that he had formed any other design than to procure the
full and lasting settlement of religion, liberty, and property. The
force which he meant to bring with him, was totally disproportioned
to any views of conquest; and it were absurd to suspect, that so many
persons of high rank, both in church and state, would have given him
so many solemn invitations for such a pernicious purpose. Though the
English ministers, terrified with his enterprise, had pretended to
redress some of the grievances complained of, there still remained the
foundation of all grievances, that upon which they could in an instant
be again erected, an arbitrary and despotic power in the crown. And for
this usurpation there was no possible remedy, but by a full declaration
of all the rights of the subject in a free parliament.

So well concerted were the prince's measures, that, in three days,
above four hundred transports were hired; the army quickly fell down
the rivers and canals from Nimeguen; the artillery, arms, stores, and
horses, were embarked; and the prince set sail from Helvoet-Sluice,
with a fleet of near five hundred vessels, and an army of above fourteen
thousand men. He first encountered a storm, which drove him back: but
his loss being soon repaired, the fleet put to sea under the command
of Admiral Herbert, and made sail with a fair wind towards the west of
England. The same wind detained the king's fleet in their station near
Harwich, and enabled the Dutch to pass the Straits of Dover without
opposition. Both shores were covered with multitudes of people, who,
besides admiring the grandeur of the spectacle, were held in anxious
suspense by the prospect of an enterprise, the most important which,
during some ages, had been undertaken in Europe. The prince had a
prosperous voyage, and landed his army safely in Torbay on the fifth of
November, the anniversary of the gunpowder treason.

The Dutch army marched first to Exeter; and the prince's declaration was
there published. That whole county was so terrified with the executions
which had ensued upon Monmouth's rebellion, that no one for several days
joined the prince. The bishop of Exeter in a fright fled to London and
carried to court intelligence of the invasion. As a reward of his zeal,
he received the archbishopric of York, which had long been kept vacant,
with an intention, as was universally believed, of bestowing it on some
Catholic. The first person who joined the prince, was Major Burrington;
and he was quickly followed by the gentry of the counties of Devon and
Somerset. Sir Edward Seymour made proposals for an association, which
every one signed. By degrees, the earl of Abingdon, Mr. Russel, son of
the earl of Bedford, Mr. Wharton, Godfrey, Howe, came to Exeter. All
England was in commotion. Lord Delamere took arms in Cheshire, the earl
of Danby seized York, the earl of Bath, governor of Plymouth, declared
for the prince, the earl of Devonshire made a like declaration in Derby.
The nobility and gentry of Nottinghamshire embraced the same cause; and
every day there appeared some effect of that universal combination into
which the nation had entered against the measures of the king. Even
those who took not the field against him, were able to embarrass and
confound his counsels. A petition for a free parliament was signed
by twenty-four bishops and peers of the greatest distinction, and was
presented to the king. No one thought of opposing or resisting the

But the most dangerous symptom was the disaffection which, from the
general spirit of the nation, not from any particular reason, had crept
into the army. The officers seemed ill disposed to prefer the interests
of their country and of their religion, to those principles of honor and
fidelity which are commonly esteemed the most sacred ties by men of that
profession. Lord Colchester, son of the earl of Rivers, was the first
officer that deserted to the prince; and he was attended by a few of
his troops. Lord Lovelace made a like effort: but was intercepted by the
militia under the duke of Beaufort, and taken prisoner; Lord Cornbury,
son of the earl of Clarendon, was more successful. He attempted to carry
over three regiments of cavalry; and he actually brought a considerable
part of them to the prince's quarters. Several officers of distinction
informed Feversham, the general, that they could not in conscience fight
against the prince of Orange.

Lord Churchill had been raised from the rank of a page had been invested
with a high command in the army, had been created a peer, and had owed
his whole fortune to the king's favor: yet even he could resolve,
during the present extremity, to desert his unhappy master, who had
ever reposed entire confidence in him. He carried with him the duke of
Grafton, natural son of the late king, Colonel Berkeley, and some troops
of dragoons. This conduct was a signal sacrifice to public virtue of
every duty in private life; and required ever after, the most upright,
disinterested, and public-spirited behavior to render it justifiable.

The king had arrived at Salisbury, the head-quarters of his army, when
he received this fatal intelligence. That prince, though a severe
enemy, had ever appeared a warm, steady, and sincere friend; and he was
extremely shocked with this, as with many other instances of ingratitude
to which he was now exposed. There remained none in whom he could
confide. As the whole army had discovered symptoms of discontent, he
concluded it full of treachery; and being deserted by those whom he had
most favored and obliged, he no longer expected that others would hazard
their lives in his service. During this distraction and perplexity,
he embraced a sudden resolution of drawing off his army, and retiring
towards London; a measure which could only serve to betray his fears,
and provoke further treachery.

But Churchill had prepared a still more mortal blow for his distressed
benefactor. His lady and he had an entire ascendant over the family
of Prince George of Denmark; and the time now appeared seasonable for
overwhelming the unhappy king, who was already staggering with the
violent shocks which he had received. Andover was the first stage of
James's retreat towards London; and there Prince George together with
the young duke of Ormond,[*] Sir George Huet, and some other persons of
distinction, deserted him in the night-time, and retired to the prince's

     * His grandfather, the first duke of Ormond, had died this
     year July 21.

No sooner had this news reached London, than the princess Anne,
pretending fear of the king's displeasure, withdrew herself in company
with the bishop of London and Lady Churchill. She fled to Nottingham;
where the earl of Dorset received her with great respect, and the gentry
of the county quickly formed a troop for her protection.

The late king, in order to gratify the nation, had intrusted the
education of his nieces entirely to Protestants; and as these princesses
were deemed the chief resource of the established religion after their
father's defection, great care had been taken to instil into them, from
their earliest infancy, the strongest prejudices against Popery. During
the violence too of such popular currents as now prevailed in England,
all private considerations are commonly lost in the general passion;
and the more principle any person possesses, the more apt is he, on
such occasions, to neglect and abandon his domestic duties. Though these
causes may account for the behavior of the princess, they had nowise
prepared the king to expect so astonishing an event. He burst into tears
when the first intelligence of it was conveyed to him. Undoubtedly he
foresaw in this incident the total expiration of his royal authority:
but the nearer and more intimate concern of a parent laid hold of his
heart, when he found himself abandoned in his uttermost distress by a
child, and a virtuous child, whom he had ever regarded with the most
tender affection. "God help me," cried he, in the extremity of his
agony; "my own children have forsaken me!" It is indeed singular, that
a prince, whose chief blame consisted in imprudencies and misguided
principles, should be exposed, from religious antipathy, to such
treatment as even Nero, Domitian, or the most enormous tyrants that have
disgraced the records of history, never met with from their friends and

So violent were the prejudices which at this time prevailed, that
this unhappy father, who had been deserted by his favorite child, was
believed, upon her disappearing, to have put her to death: and it was
fortunate that the truth was timely discovered, otherwise the populace,
even the king's guards themselves, might have been engaged, in revenge,
to commence a massacre of the priests and Catholics.

The king s fortune now exposed him to the contempt of his enemies and
his behavior was not such as could gain him the esteem of his friends
and adherents. Unable to resist the torrent, he preserved not presence
of mind in yielding to it; but seemed in this emergence as much
depressed with adversity, as he had before been vainly elated by
prosperity. He called a council of all the peers and prelates who
were in London; and followed their advice in issuing writs for a
new parliament, and in sending Halifax, Nottingham, and Godolphin as
commissioners to treat with the prince of Orange. But these were the
last acts of royal authority which he exerted. He even hearkened to
imprudent counsel, by which he was prompted to desert the throne, and to
gratify his enemies beyond what their fondest hopes could have promised

The queen, observing the fury of the people, and knowing how much she
was the object of general hatred, was struck with the deepest terror,
and began to apprehend a parliamentary impeachment, from which, she was
told, the queens of England were not exempted. The Popish courtiers,
and above all the priests, were aware that they should be the first
sacrifice, and that their perpetual banishment was the smallest penalty
which they must expect from national resentment. They were, therefore,
desirous of carrying the king along with them, whose presence, they
knew, would still be some resource and protection to them in foreign
countries, and whose restoration, if it ever happened, would again
reinstate them in power and authority. The general defection of the
Protestants made the king regard the Catholics as his only subjects on
whose counsel he could rely; and the fatal catastrophe of his father
afforded them a plausible reason for making him apprehend a like fate.
The great difference of circumstances was not, during men's present
distractions, sufficiently weighed. Even after the people were inflamed
by a long civil war, the execution of Charles I. could not be deemed
a national deed: it was perpetrated by a fanatical army pushed on by
a daring and enthusiastic leader; and the whole kingdom had ever
entertained, and did still entertain, a violent abhorrence against that
enormity. The situation of public affairs, therefore, no more resembled
what it was forty years before, than the prince of Orange, either in
birth, character, fortune, or connections, could be supposed a parallel
to Cromwell.

The emissaries of France, and among the rest Barillon, the French
ambassador, were busy about the king, and they had entertained a very
false notion, which they instilled into him, that nothing would more
certainly retard the public settlement, and beget universal confusion,
than his deserting the kingdom.

The prince of Orange had with good reason embraced a contrary opinion;
and he deemed it extremely difficult to find expedients for securing
the nation, so long as the king kept possession of the crown. Actuated,
therefore, by this public motive, and no less, we may well presume, by
private ambition, he was determined to use every expedient which might
intimidate the king, and make him quit that throne which he himself was
alone enabled to fill. He declined a personal conference with James's
commissioners, and sent the earls of Clarendon and Oxford to treat with
them: the terms which he proposed implied almost a present participation
of the sovereignty: and he stopped not a moment the march of his army
towards London.

The news which the king received from all quarters, served to continue
the panic into which he was fallen, and which his enemies expected to
improve to their advantage. Colonel Copel, deputy governor of Hull, made
himself master of that important fortress; and threw into prison Lord
Langdale, the governor, a Catholic; together with Lord Montgomery,
a nobleman of the same religion. The town of Newcastle received Lord
Lumley, and declared for the prince of Orange and a free parliament. The
duke of Norfolk, lord lieutenant of the county of that name, engaged it
in the same measure. The prince's declaration was read at Oxford by
the duke of Ormond, and was received with great applause by that loyal
university, who also made an offer of their plate to the prince. Every
day some person of quality or distinction, and among the rest the duke
of Somerset, went over to the enemy. A violent declaration was dispersed
in the prince's name, but without his participation; in which every one
was commanded to seize and punish all Papists, who, contrary to law,
pretended either to carry arms or exercise any act of authority. It
may not be unworthy of notice that a merry ballad, called Lillibullero,
being at this time published in derision of the Papists and the Irish,
it was greedily received by the people, and was sung by all ranks of
men, even by the king's army, who were strongly seized with the national
spirit. This incident both discovered and served to increase the general
discontent of the kingdom.

The contagion of mutiny and disobedience had also reached Scotland,
whence the regular forces, contrary to the advice of Balcarras the
treasurer, were withdrawn, in order to reenforce the English army. The
marquis of Athole, together with Viscount Tarbat and others, finding
the opportunity favorable, began to form intrigues against Perth, the
chancellor; and the Presbyterians and other malecontents flocked
from all quarters to Edinburgh. The chancellor, apprehensive of the
consequences, found it expedient to abscond; and the populace, as if
that event were a signal for their insurrection, immediately rose
in arms, and rifled the Popish chapel in the king's palace. All the
Catholics, even all the zealous royalists, were obliged to conceal
themselves; and the privy council, instead of their former submissive
strains of address to the king, and violent edicts against their
fellow-subjects, now made applications to the prince of Orange, as the
restorer of law and liberty.

The king, every moment alarmed more and more by these proofs of a
general disaffection, not daring to repose trust in any but those who
were exposed to more danger than himself, agitated by disdain towards
ingratitude, by indignation against disloyalty, impelled by his own
fears and those of others, precipitately embraced the resolution of
escaping into France; and he sent off beforehand the queen and the
infant prince, under the conduct of Count Lauzun, an old favorite of the
French monarch. He himself disappeared in the night-time, attended only
by Sir Edward Hales; and made the best of his way to a ship which waited
for him near the mouth of the river. As if this measure had not been
the most grateful to his enemies of any that he could adopt, he had
carefully concealed his intention from all the world; and nothing could
equal the surprise which seized the city, the court, and the kingdom,
upon the discovery of this strange event. Men beheld, all of a sudden,
the reins of government thrown up by the hand which held them; and saw
none who had any right, or even pretension, to take possession of them.

The more effectually to involve every thing in confusion, the king
appointed not any one who should, in his absence, exercise any part
of the administration; he threw the great seal into the river; and he
recalled all those writs which had been issued for the election of
the new parliament. It is often supposed, that the sole motive which
impelled him to this sudden desertion, was his reluctance to meet a free
parliament and his resolution not to submit to those terms which his
subjects would deem requisite for the security of their liberties and
their religion. But it must be considered, that his subjects had first
deserted him, and entirely lost his confidence; that he might reasonably
be supposed to entertain fears for his liberty, if not for his life; and
that the conditions would not probably be moderate, which the nation,
sensible of his inflexible temper, enraged with the violation of their
laws and the danger of their religion, and foreseeing his resentment on
account of their past resistance, would, in his present circumstances
exact from him.

By this temporary dissolution of government, the populace were masters;
and there was no disorder which, during their present ferment, might
not be dreaded from them. They rose in a tumult and destroyed all the
mass-houses. They even attacked and rifled the houses of the Florentine
envoy and Spanish ambassador, where many of the Catholics had lodged
their most valuable effects. Jefferies, the chancellor, who had
disguised himself in order to fly the kingdom, was discovered by them,
and so abused, that he died a little after. Even the army, which should
have suppressed those tumults, would, it was apprehended, serve rather
to increase the general disorder. Feversham had no sooner heard of the
king's flight, than he disbanded the troops in the neighborhood, and
without either disarming or paying them, let them loose to prey upon the

In this extremity, the bishops and peers who were in town, being the
only remaining authority of the state, (for the privy council, composed
of the king's creatures, was totally disregarded,) thought proper to
assemble, and to interpose for the preservation of the community. They
chose the marquis of Halifax speaker: they gave directions to the mayor
and aldermen for keeping the peace of the city: they issued orders,
which were readily obeyed, to the fleet, the army, and all the
garrisons: and they made applications to the prince of Orange, whose
enterprise they highly applauded, and whose success they joyfully

The prince on his part was not wanting to the tide of success which
flowed in upon him, nor backward in assuming that authority which the
present exigency had put into his hands. Besides the general popularity
attending his cause, a new incident made his approach to London still
more grateful. In the present trepidation of the people, a rumor arose,
either from chance or design, that the disbanded Irish had taken
arms, and had commenced a universal massacre of the Protestants. This
ridiculous belief was spread all over the kingdom in one day, and begat
every where the deepest consternation. The alarum bells were rung; the
beacons fired; men fancied that they saw at a distance the smoke of the
burning cities, and heard the groans of those who were slaughtered in
their neighborhood. It is surprising that the Catholics did not all
perish in the rage which naturally succeeds to such popular panics.

While every one, from principle, interest, or animosity, turned his back
on the unhappy king, who had abandoned his own cause, the unwelcome news
arrived, that he had been seized by the populace at Feversham, as he was
making his escape in disguise; that he had been much abused, till he was
known; but that the gentry had then interposed and protected him, though
they still refused to consent to his escape. This intelligence threw all
parties into confusion. The prince sent Zuylestein with orders that the
king should approach no nearer than Rochester; but the message came too
late. He was already arrived in London, where the populace, moved by
compassion for his unhappy fate, and actuated by their own levity, had
received him with shouts and acclamations.

During the king's abode at Whitehall, little attention was paid to him
by the nobility or any persons of distinction. They had all of them
been previously disgusted on account of his blind partiality to the
Catholics; and they knew that they were now become criminal in his eyes
by their late public applications to the prince of Orange. He himself
showed not any symptom of spirit, nor discovered any intention of
resuming the reins of government which he had once thrown aside. His
authority was now plainly expired; and as he had exercised his power,
while possessed of it, with very precipitate and haughty counsels, he
relinquished it by a despair equally precipitate and pusillanimous.

Nothing remained for the now ruling powers but to deliberate how they
should dispose of his person. Besides that the prince may justly be
supposed to have possessed more generosity than to think of offering
violence to an unhappy monarch, so nearly related to him, he knew
that nothing would so effectually promote his own views as the king's
retiring into France, a country at all times obnoxious to the English.
It was determined, therefore, to push him into that measure, which of
himself he seemed sufficiently inclined to embrace. The king having sent
Lord Feversham on a civil message to the prince, desiring a conference
for an accommodation in order to the public settlement, that nobleman
was put in arrest, under pretence of his coming without a passport: the
Dutch guards were ordered to take possession of Whitehall, where James
then resided, and to displace the English: and Halifax, Shrewsbury, and
Delamere, brought a message from the prince, which they delivered to
the king in bed after midnight, ordering him to leave his palace next
morning, and to depart for Ham, a seat of the duchess of Lauderdale's.
He desired permission, which was easily granted, of retiring to
Rochester, a town near the sea-coast. It was perceived, that the
artifice had taken effect; and that the king, terrified with this harsh
treatment, had renewed his former resolution of leaving the kingdom.

He lingered, however, some days at Rochester, under the protection of
a Dutch guard, and seemed desirous of an invitation still to keep
possession of the throne. He was undoubtedly sensible, that as he had
at first trusted too much to his people's loyalty, and, in confidence of
their submission, had offered the greatest violence to their principles
and prejudices, so had he, at last, on finding his disappointment, gone
too far in the other extreme, and had hastily supposed them destitute
of all sense of duty or allegiance. But observing that the church, the
nobility, the city, the country, all concurred in neglecting him, and
leaving him to his own counsels, he submitted to his melancholy fate;
and being urged by earnest letters from the queen, he privately embarked
on board a frigate which waited for him; and he arrived safety at
Ambleteuse, in Picardy, whence he hastened to St. Germains. Lewis
received him with the highest generosity, sympathy, and regard: a
conduct which, more than his most signal victories, contributes to the
honor of that great monarch.

Thus ended the reign of a prince, whom if we consider his personal
character rather than his public conduct, we may safely pronounce more
unfortunate than criminal. He had many of those qualities which form a
good citizen: even some of those which, had they not been swallowed up
in bigotry and arbitrary principles, serve to compose a good sovereign.
In domestic life, his conduct was irreproachable, and is entitled to our
approbation. Severe, but open in his enmities, steady in his counsels,
diligent in his schemes, brave in his enterprises, faithful, sincere,
and honorable in his dealings with all men; such was the character
with which the duke of York mounted the throne of England. In that high
station, his frugality of public money was remarkable, his industry
exemplary, his application to naval affairs successful, his
encouragement of trade judicious, his jealousy of national honor
laudable: what then was wanting to make him an excellent sovereign?
A due regard and affection to the religion and constitution of his
country. Had he been possessed of this essential quality, even his
middling talents, aided by so many virtues, would have rendered his
reign honorable and happy. When it was wanting, every excellency which
he possessed became dangerous and pernicious to his kingdoms.

The sincerity of this prince (a virtue on which he highly valued
himself) has been much questioned in those reiterated promises which he
had made of preserving the liberties and religion of the nation. It must
be confessed, that his reign was almost one continued invasion of both;
yet it is known, that, to his last breath, he persisted in asserting,
that he never meant to subvert the laws, or procure more than a
toleration and an equality of privileges to his Catholic subjects. This
question can only affect the personal character of the king, not our
judgment of his public conduct. Though by a stretch of candor we should
admit of his sincerity in these professions, the people were equally
justifiable in their resistance of him. So lofty was the idea which he
had entertained of his _legal_ authority, that it left his subjects
little or no right to liberty, but what was dependent on his sovereign
will and pleasure. And such was his zeal for proselytism, that, whatever
he might at first have intended, he plainly stopped not at toleration
and equality: he confined all power, encouragement, and favor to the
Catholics: converts from interest would soon have multiplied upon him:
if not the greater, at least the better part of the people, he would
have flattered himself, was brought over to his religion: and he would
in a little time have thought it just, as well as pious to bestow on
them all the public establishments. Rigors and persecutions against
heretics would speedily have followed: and thus liberty and the
Protestant religion would in the issue have been totally subverted;
though we should not suppose that James, in the commencement of his
reign, had formally fixed a plan for that purpose. And on the whole,
allowing this king to have possessed good qualities and good intentions,
his conduct serves only, on that very account, as a stronger proof
how dangerous it is to allow any prince, infected with the Catholic
superstition, to wear the crown of these kingdoms.

After this manner, the courage and abilities of the prince of Orange,
seconded by surprising fortune, had effected the deliverance of this
island; and with very little effusion of blood (for only one officer
of the Dutch army and a few private soldiers fell in an accidental
skirmish) had dethroned a great prince supported by a formidable fleet
and a numerous army. Still the more difficult task remained, and what
perhaps the prince regarded as not the least important: the obtaining
for himself that crown which had fallen from the head of his
father-in-law. Some lawyers, entangled in the subtleties and forms
of their profession, could think of no expedient, but that the prince
should claim the crown by right of conquest; should immediately assume
the title of sovereign; and should call a parliament, which, being thus
legally summoned by a king in possession, could ratify whatever had been
transacted before they assembled. But this measure, being destructive
of the principles of liberty, the only principles on which his future
throne could be established, was prudently rejected by the prince; who,
finding himself possessed of the good will of the nation, resolved to
leave them entirely to their own guidance and direction. The peers and
bishops, to the number of near ninety, made an address, desiring him to
summon a convention by circular letters; to assume, in the mean time,
the management of public affairs; and to concert measures for the
security of Ireland. At the same time, they refused reading a letter
which the king had left, in order to apologize for his late desertion
by the violence which had been put upon him. This step was a sufficient
indication of their intentions with regard to that unhappy monarch.

The prince seemed still unwilling to act upon an authority which might
be deemed so imperfect: he was desirous of obtaining a more express
declaration of the public consent. A judicious expedient was fallen on
for that purpose. All the members who had sitten in the house of commons
during any parliament of Charles II., (the only parliaments whose
election was regarded as free,) were invited to meet; and to them were
added the mayor, aldermen, and fifty of the common council. This was
regarded as the most proper representative of the people that could be
summoned during the present emergence. They unanimously voted the same
address with the lords: and the prince, being thus supported by all
the legal authority which could possibly be obtained in this critical
juncture, wrote circular letters to the counties and corporations of
England; and his orders were universally complied with. A profound
tranquillity prevailed throughout the kingdom; and the prince's
administration was submitted to, as if he had succeeded in the most
regular manner to the vacant throne. The fleet received his orders: the
army, without murmur or opposition, allowed him to new model them: and
the city supplied him with a loan of two hundred thousand pounds.

{1689.} The conduct of the prince with regard to Scotland, was founded
on the same prudent and moderate maxims. Finding that there were many
Scotchmen of rank at that time in London, he summoned them together,
laid before them his intentions, and asked their advice in the present
emergency. This assembly, consisting of thirty noblemen and about
four-score gentlemen, chose Duke Hamilton president; a man who, being
of a temporizing character, was determined to pay court to the present
authority. His eldest son, the earl of Arran, professed an adherence to
King James; a usual policy in Scotland, where the father and son, during
civil commotions, were often observed to take opposite sides, in order
to secure in all events the family from attainder. Arran proposed to
invite back the king upon conditions; but as he was vehemently opposed
in this motion by Sir Patrick Hume, and seconded by nobody, the assembly
made an offer to the prince of the present administration, which
he willingly accepted. To anticipate a little in our narration; a
convention, by circular letters from the prince, was summoned at
Edinburgh on the twenty-second of March, where it was soon visible
that the interest of the malecontents would entirely prevail. The more
zealous royalists, regarding this assembly as illegal, had forborne to
appear at elections; and the other party were returned for most places.
The revolution was not in Scotland, as in England, effected by a
coalition of whig and tory: the former party alone had overpowered the
government, and were too much enraged, by the past injuries which they
had suffered, to admit of any composition with their former masters.
As soon as the purpose of the convention was discovered, the earl of
Balcarras and Viscount Dundee, leaders of the tories, withdrew from
Edinburgh; and the convention having passed a bold and decisive vote,
that King James, by his maleadministration, and his abuse of power,
had forfeited all title to the crown, they made a tender of the royal
dignity to the prince and princess of Orange.

The English convention was assembled; and it immediately appeared, that
the house of commons, both from the prevailing humor of the people, and
from the influence of present authority, were mostly chosen from among
the whig party.

After thanks were unanimously given by both houses to the prince of
Orange for the deliverance which he had brought them, a less decisive
vote than that of the Scottish convention was in a few days passed by
a great majority of the commons, and sent up to the peers for their
concurrence. It was contained in these words: "That King James II.,
having endeavored to subvert the constitution of the kingdom by breaking
the original contract between king and people; and having, by the advice
of Jesuits and other wicked persons, violated the fundamental laws, and
withdrawn himself out of the kingdom; has abdicated the government, and
that the throne is thereby vacant." This vote, when carried to the upper
house, met with great opposition; of which it is here necessary for us
to explain the causes.

The tories and the high church party, finding themselves at once menaced
with a subversion of the laws and of their religion, had zealously
promoted the national revolt, and had on this occasion departed from
those principles of non-resistance, of which, while the king favored
them, they had formerly made such loud professions. Their present
apprehensions had prevailed over their political tenets; and
the unfortunate James, who had too much trusted to those general
declarations, which never will be reduced to practice, found, in the
issue, that both parties were secretly united against him. But no sooner
was the danger past, and the general fears somewhat allayed, than party
prejudices resumed, in some degree, their former authority; and the
tories were abashed at that victory which their antagonists, during
the late transactions, had obtained over them. They were inclined,
therefore, to steer a middle course; and, though generally determined
to oppose the king's return, they resolved not to consent to dethroning
him, or altering the line of succession. A regent with kingly power
was the expedient which they proposed; and a late instance in Portugal
seemed to give some authority and precedent to that plan of government.

In favor of this scheme, the tories urged that, by the uniform tenor of
the English laws the title to the crown was ever regarded as sacred, and
could on no account, and by no maleadministration, be forfeited by the
sovereign: that to dethrone a king and to elect his successor, was a
practice quite unknown to the constitution, and had a tendency to
render kingly power entirely dependent and precarious: that where the
sovereign, from his tender years, from lunacy, or from other natural
infirmity, was incapacitated to hold the reins of government, both the
laws and former practice agreed in appointing a regent, who, during the
interval, was invested with the whole power of the administration: that
the inveterate and dangerous prejudices of King James had rendered him
as unfit to sway the English sceptre, as if he had fallen into lunacy;
and it was therefore natural for the people to have recourse to the same
remedy: that the election of one king was a precedent for the election
of another; and the government, by that means, would either degenerate
into a republic, or, what was worse, into a turbulent and seditious
monarchy: that the case was still more dangerous, if there remained a
prince who claimed the crown by right of succession, and disputed, on so
plausible a ground, the title of the present sovereign: that though the
doctrine of non-resistance might not, in every possible circumstance,
be absolutely true, yet was the belief of it very expedient; and to
establish a government which should have the contrary principle for
its basis, was to lay a foundation for perpetual revolutions and
convulsions: that the appointment of a regent was indeed exposed to many
inconveniencies; but so long as the line of succession was preserved
entire, there was still a prospect of putting an end, some time or
other, to the public disorders: and that scarcely an instance occurred
in history, especially in the English history, where a disputed title
had not, in the issue, been attended with much greater ills, than all
those which the people had sought to shun by departing from the lineal

The leaders of the whig party, on the other hand, asserted that if
there were any ill in the precedent, that ill would result as much from
establishing a regent, as from dethroning one king and appointing his
successor; nor would the one expedient, if wantonly and rashly embraced
by the people, be less the source of public convulsions than the other:
that it the laws gave no express permission to depose the sovereign,
neither did they authorize resisting his authority, or separating the
power from the title: that a regent was unknown, except where the king,
by reason of his tender age or his infirmities, was incapable of a will;
and in that case, his will was supposed to be involved in that of the
regent; that it would be the height of absurdity to try a man for acting
upon a commission received from a prince whom we ourselves acknowledge
to be the lawful sovereign; and no jury would decide so contrary both to
law and common sense, as to condemn such a pretended criminal: that even
the prospect of being delivered from this monstrous inconvenience was,
in the present situation of affairs, more distant than that of putting
an end to a disputed succession: that allowing the young prince to be
the legitimate heir, he had been carried abroad; he would be educated in
principles destructive of the constitution and established religion: and
he would probably leave a son liable to the same insuperable objection:
that if the whole line were cut off by law, the people would in time
forget or neglect their claim; an advantage which could not be hoped
for while the administration was conducted in their name, and while they
were still acknowledged to possess the legal title: and that a nation
thus perpetually governed by regents or protectors, approached much
nearer to a republic, than one subject to monarchs whose hereditary
regular succession, as well as present authority, was fixed and
appointed by the people.

This question was agitated with great zeal by the opposite parties in
the house of peers. The chief speakers among the tories were Clarendon,
Rochester, and Nottingham; among the whigs, Halifax and Danby. The
question was carried for a king by two voices only, fifty-one against
forty-nine. All the prelates, except two, the bishops of London
and Bristol, voted for a regent. The primate, a disinterested but
pusillanimous man, kept at a distance both from the prince's court and
from parliament.

The house of peers proceeded next to examine piecemeal the votes sent
up to them by the commons. They debated, "Whether there were an original
contract between king and people?" and the affirmative was carried by
fifty-three against forty-six: a proof that the tories were already
losing ground. The next question was, "Whether King James had broken
that original contract?" and, after a slight opposition, the affirmative
prevailed. The lords proceeded to take into consideration the word
abdicated; and it was carried that deserted was more proper. The
concluding question was, "Whether King James having broken the original
contract, and deserted the government, the throne was thereby vacant?"
This question was debated with more heat and contention than any of the
former; and upon a division, the tories prevailed by eleven voices, and
it was carried to omit the last article with regard to the vacancy of
the throne. The vote was sent back to the commons with these amendments.

The earl of Danby had entertained the project of bestowing the crown
solely upon the princess of Orange, and of admitting her as hereditary
legal successor to King James[*] passing by the infant prince, as
illegitimate or supposititious. His change of party in the last question
gave the tories so considerable a majority in the number of voices.

The commons still insisted on their own vote, and sent up reasons
why the lords should depart from their amendments. The lords were not
convinced; and it was necessary to have a free conference, in order
to settle this controversy. Never surely was national debate more
important, or managed by more able speakers; yet is one surprised to
find the topics insisted on by both sides so frivolous; more resembling
the verbal disputes of the schools, than the solid reasonings of
statesmen and legislators. In public transactions of such consequence,
the true motives which produce any measure are seldom avowed. The whigs,
now the ruling party, having united with the tories in order to bring
about the revolution had so much deference for their new allies, as not
to insist that the crown should be declared forfeited on account of the
king's maleadministration: such a declaration, they thought, would
imply too express a censure of the old tory principles, and too open a
preference of their own. They agreed, therefore, to confound together
the king's abusing his power, and his withdrawing from the kingdom;
and they called the whole an abdication; as if he had given a virtual,
though not a verbal, consent to dethroning himself. The tories took
advantage of this obvious impropriety, which had been occasioned merely
by the complaisance or prudence of the whigs; and they insisted upon the
word desertion, as more significant and intelligible. It was retorted
on them, that, however that expression might be justly applied to the
king's withdrawing himself, it could not with any propriety be extended
to his violation of the fundamental laws. And thus both parties, while
they warped their principles from regard to their antagonists, and
from prudential considerations, lost the praise of consistence and

The managers for the lords next insisted, that even allowing the king's
abuse of power to be equivalent to an abdication, or, in other words,
to a civil death, it could operate no other-*wise than his voluntary
resignation, or his natural death; and could only make way for the next
successor. It was a maxim of English law, that the throne was never
vacant; but instantly, upon the demise of one king, was filled with his
legal heir, who was entitled to all the authority of his predecessor.
And however young or unfit for government the successor, however
unfortunate in his situation, though he were even a captive in the hands
of public enemies, yet no just reason, they thought, could be assigned
why, without any default of his own, he should lose a crown, to which
by birth he was fully entitled. The managers for the commons might have
opposed this reasoning by many specious and even solid arguments. They
might have said, that the great security for allegiance being merely
opinion, any scheme of settlement should be adopted in which it was most
probable the people would acquiesce and persevere: that though, upon the
natural death of a king whose administration had been agreeable to
the laws, many and great inconveniences would be endured, rather than
exclude his lineal successor, yet the case was not the same when the
people had been obliged, by their revolt, to dethrone a prince whose
illegal measures had, in every circumstance, violated the constitution:
that in these extraordinary revolutions, the government reverted, in
some degree, to its first principles, and the community acquired a
right of providing for the public interest by expedients which, on other
occasions, might be deemed violent and irregular: that the recent use of
one extraordinary remedy reconciled their minds to such licenses, than
if the government had run the people to the practice of another, and
more familiarized on in its usual tenor: and that King James, having
carried abroad his son, as well as withdrawn himself, had given such
just provocation to the kingdom, had voluntarily involved it in such
difficulties, that the interests of his family were justly sacrificed
to the public settlement and tranquillity. Though these topics seem
reasonable, they were entirely forborne by the whig managers;
both because they implied an acknowledgment of the infant prince's
legitimacy, which it was agreed to keep in obscurity, and because they
contained too express a condemnation of tory principles. They were
content to maintain the vote of the commons by shifts and evasions; and
both sides parted at last without coming to any agreement.

But it was impossible for the public to remain long in the present
situation. The perseverance, therefore, of the lower house obliged the
lords to comply; and, by the desertion of some peers to the whig party,
the vote of the commons, without any alteration, passed by a majority of
fifteen in the upper house, and received the sanction of every part of
the legislature which then subsisted.

It happens unluckily for those who maintain an original contract between
the magistrate and people, that great revolutions of government, and
new settlements of civil constitutions, are commonly conducted with such
violence, tumult, and disorder, that the public voice can scarcely
ever be heard; and the opinions of the citizens are at that time less
attended to than even in the common course of administration. The
present transactions in England, it must be confessed, are a singular
exception to this observation. The new elections had been carried on
with great tranquillity and freedom: the prince had ordered the troops
to depart from all the towns where the voters assembled: a tumultuary
petition to the two houses having been promoted, he took care, though
the petition was calculated for his advantage, effectually to suppress
it: he entered into no intrigues, either with the electors or the
members: he kept himself in a total silence, as if he had been nowise
concerned in these transactions: and so far from forming cabals with the
leaders of parties, he disdained even to bestow caresses on those whose
assistance might be useful to him. This conduct was highly meritorious,
and discovered great moderation and magnanimity; even though the prince
unfortunately, through the whole course of his life, and on every
occasion, was noted for an address so cold, dry, and distant, that it
was very difficult for him, on account of any interest, to soften or
familiarize it.

At length the prince deigned to break silence, and to express, though in
a private manner, his sentiments on the present situation of affairs. He
called together Halifax, Shrewsbury, Danby, and a few more; and he told
them, that, having been invited over to restore their liberty, he
had engaged in this enterprise, and had at last happily effected his
purpose: that it belonged to the parliament, now chosen and assembled
with freedom, to concert measures for the public settlement; and he
pretended not to interpose in their determinations: that he heard of
several schemes proposed for establishing the government: some insisted
on a regent; others were desirous of bestowing the crown on
the princess: it was their concern alone to choose the plan of
administration most agreeable or advantageous to them: that if they
judged it proper to settle a regent, he had no objection: he only
thought it incumbent on him to inform them, that he was determined not
to be the regent, nor ever to engage in a scheme which, he knew, would
be exposed to such insuperable difficulties: that no man could have a
juster or deeper sense of the princess's merit than he was impressed
with; but he would rather remain a private person, than enjoy a crown
which must depend on the will or life of another: and that they must
therefore make account, if they were inclined to either of these two
plans of settlement, that it would be totally out of his power to
assist them in carrying it into execution: his affairs abroad were too
important to be abandoned for so precarious a dignity, or even to allow
him so much leisure as would be requisite to introduce order into their
disjointed government.

These views of the prince were seconded by the princess herself; who, as
she possessed many virtues, was a most obsequious wife to a husband who,
in the judgment of the generality of her sex, would have appeared so
little attractive and amiable. All considerations were neglected, when
they came in competition with what she deemed her duty to the prince.
When Danby and others of her partisans wrote her an account of their
schemes and proceedings, she expressed great displeasure; and even
transmitted their letters to her husband, as a sacrifice to conjugal
fidelity. The princess Anne also concurred in the same plan for the
public settlement; and being promised an ample revenue, was content to
be postponed in the succession to the crown. And as the title of her
infant brother was, in the present establishment, entirely neglected,
she might, on the whole, deem herself, in point of interest, a gainer by
this revolution.

The chief parties, therefore, being agreed, the convention passed a
bill, in which they settled the crown on the prince and princess of
Orange, the sole administration to remain in the prince: the princess of
Denmark to succeed after the death of the prince and princess of Orange;
her posterity after those of the princess, but before those of the
prince by any other wife. The convention annexed to this settlement of
the crown a declaration of rights, where all the points which had of
late years been disputed between the king and people, were finally
determined; and the powers of royal prerogative were more narrowly
circumscribed and more exactly defined, than in any former period of the
English government.

Thus have we seen, through the course of four reigns, a continual
struggle maintained between the crown and the people: privilege and
prerogative were ever at variance: and both parties, beside the present
object of dispute, had many latent claims, which, on a favorable
occasion, they produced against their adversaries. Governments too
steady and uniform as they are seldom free, so are they, in the judgment
of some attended with another sensible inconvenience: they abate the
active powers of men; depress courage, invention, and genius; and
produce a universal lethargy in the people. Though this opinion may be
just, the fluctuation and contest, it must be allowed, of the English
government, were, during these reigns, much too violent both for the
repose and safety of the people. Foreign affairs, at that time, were
either entirely neglected, or managed to pernicious purposes: and in the
domestic administration there was felt a continued fever, either secret
or manifest; sometimes the most furious convulsions and disorders.
The revolution forms a new epoch in the constitution; and was probably
attended with consequences more advantageous to the people, than barely
freeing them from an exceptionable administration. By deciding many
important questions in favor of liberty, and still more by that great
precedent of deposing one king, and establishing a new family, it gave
such an ascendant to popular principles, as has put the nature of
the English constitution beyond all controversy. And it may justly be
affirmed, without any danger of exaggeration, that we in this island
have ever since enjoyed, if not the best system of government, at least
the most entire system of liberty, that ever was known amongst mankind.

To decry with such violence, as is affected by some, the whole line
of Stuart; to maintain, that their administration was one continued
encroachment on the incontestable rights of the people; is not giving
due honor to that great event, which not only put a period to
their hereditary succession, but made a new settlement of the whole
constitution. The inconveniencies suffered by the people under the two
first reigns of that family, (for in the main they were fortunate,)
proceeded in a great measure from the unavoidable situation of affairs;
and scarcely any thing could have prevented those events, but such vigor
of genius in the sovereign, attended with such good fortune, as might
have enabled him entirely to overpower the liberties of his people.
While the parliaments in those reigns were taking advantage of the
necessities of the prince, and attempting every session to abolish, or
circumscribe, or define, some prerogative of the crown, and innovate
in the usual tenor of government, what could be expected, but that the
prince would exert himself in defending, against such inveterate enemies
an authority which, during the most regular course of the former English
government, had been exercised without dispute or controversy? And
though Charles II., in 1672, may with reason be deemed the aggressor,
nor is it possible to justify his conduct, yet were there some motives,
surely, which could engage a prince so soft and indolent, and at the
same time so judicious, to attempt such hazardous enterprises. He felt
that public affairs had reached a situation at which they could not
possibly remain without some further innovation. Frequent parliaments
were become almost absolutely necessary to the conducting of public
business; yet these assemblies were still, in the judgment of the
royalists, much inferior in dignity to the sovereign, whom they seemed
better calculated to counsel than control. The crown still possessed
considerable power of opposing parliaments; and had not as yet acquired
the means of influencing them. Hence a continual jealousy between
these parts of the legislature: hence the inclination mutually to take
advantage of each other's necessities: hence the impossibility,
under which the king lay, of finding ministers who could at once be
serviceable and faithful to him. If he followed his own choice in
appointing his servants, without regard to their parliamentary interest,
a refractory session was instantly to be expected: if he chose them
from among the leaders of popular assemblies, they either lost their
influence with the people by adhering to the crown, or they betrayed
the crown in order to preserve their influence. Neither Hambden, whom
Charles I. was willing to gain at any price; nor Shaftesbury, whom
Charles II., after the Popish plot, attempted to engage in his counsels,
would renounce their popularity for the precarious, and, as they
esteemed it, deceitful favor of the prince. The root of their authority
they still thought to lie in the parliament; and as the power of that
assembly was not yet uncontrollable, they still resolved to augment it,
though at the expense of the royal prerogatives.

It is no wonder that these events have long, by the representations of
faction, been extremely clouded and obscured. No man has yet arisen, who
has paid an entire regard to truth, and has dared to expose her, without
covering or disguise, to the eyes of the prejudiced public. Even that
party amongst us which boasts of the highest regard to liberty, has not
possessed sufficient liberty of thought in this particular; nor has been
able to decide impartially of their own merit, compared with that
of their antagonists. More noble perhaps in their ends, and highly
beneficial to mankind they must also be allowed to have often been less
justifiable in the means, and in many of their enterprises to have paid
more regard to political than to moral considerations. Obliged to court
the favor of the populace, they found it necessary to comply with
their rage and folly; and have even, on many occasions, by propagating
calumnies, and by promoting violence, served to infatuate as well as
corrupt that people to whom they made a tender of liberty and justice.
Charles I. was a tyrant, a Papist, and a contriver of the Irish
massacre: the church of England was relapsing fast into idolatry:
Puritanism was the only true religion, and the covenant the favorite
object of heavenly regard. Through these delusions the party proceeded,
and, what may seem wonderful, still to the increase of law and liberty;
till they reached the imposture of the Popish plot, a fiction which
exceeds the ordinary bounds of vulgar credulity. But however singular
these events may appear, there is really nothing altogether new in any
period of modern history: and it is remarkable, that tribunitian arts,
though sometimes useful in a free constitution, have usually been
such as men of probity and honor could not bring themselves either to
practise or approve. The other faction, which, since the revolution, has
been obliged to cultivate popularity, sometimes found it necessary to
employ like artifices.

The whig party, for a course of near seventy years, has, almost without
interruption, enjoyed the whole authority of government; and no honors
or offices could be obtained but by their countenance and protection.
But this event, which in some particulars has been advantageous to
the state, has proved destructive to the truth of history, and has
established many gross falsehoods, which it is unaccountable how
any civilized nation could have embraced with regard to its domestic
occurrences. Compositions the most despicable, both for style and
matter, have been extolled, and propagated, and read; as if they had
equalled the most celebrated remains of antiquity.[*]

     * Such as Rapin Thoyras, Locke, Sidney, Hoadley, etc.

And forgetting that a regard to liberty, though a laudable passion,
ought commonly to be subordinate to a reverence for established
government, the prevailing faction has celebrated only the partisans of
the former, who pursued as their object the perfection of civil
society, and has extolled them at the expense of their antagonists, who
maintained those maxims that are essential to its very existence. But
extremes of all kinds are to be avoided; and though no one will ever
please either faction by moderate opinions, it is there we are most
likely to meet with truth and certainty.

We shall subjoin to this general view of the English government some
account of the state of the finances, arms trade, manners, arts, between
the restoration and revolution.

The revenue of Charles II., as settled by the long parliament, was put
upon a very bad footing. It was too small, if they intended to make
him independent in the common course of his administration: it was too
large, and settled during too long a period, if they resolved to keep
him in entire dependence. The great debts of the republic, which were
thrown upon that prince; the necessity of supplying the naval and
military stores, which were entirely exhausted;[*] that of repairing
and furnishing his palaces: all these causes involved the king in great
difficulties immediately after his restoration; and the parliament
was not sufficiently liberal in supplying him. Perhaps, too, he
had contracted some debts abroad; and his bounty to the distressed
cavaliers, though it did not correspond either to their services or
expectations, could not fail, in some degree, to exhaust his treasury.
The extraordinary sums granted the king during the first years did not
suffice for these extraordinary expenses; and the excise and customs,
the only constant revenue, amounted not to nine hundred thousand pounds
a year, and fell much short of the ordinary burdens of government. The
addition of hearth money in 1662, and of other two branches in 1669
and 1670, brought up the revenue to one million three hundred and
fifty-eight thousand pounds, as we learn from Lord Danby's account: but
the same authority informs us, that the yearly expense of government was
at that time one million three hundred and eighty-seven thousand seven
hundred and seventy pounds.[**]

     * Lord Clarendon's speech to the parliament, Oct. 9, 1665.

     * Ralph's History, vol. i. p. 288.

We learn from that lord's Memoirs, (p. 12,) that the receipts of
the exchequer, during six years, from 1673 to 1679, were about eight
millions two hundred thousand pounds or one million three hundred
and sixty-six thousand pounds a year. See likewise p. 169. mentioning
contingencies, which are always considerable, even under the most
prudent administration. Those branches of revenue granted in 1669 and
1670, expired in 1680, and were never renewed by parliament: they were
computed to be above two hundred thousand pounds a year. It must be
allowed, because asserted by all contemporary authors of both parties,
and even confessed by himself, that King Charles was somewhat profuse
and negligent. But it is likewise certain, that a very rigid frugality
was requisite to support the government under such difficulties. It is
a familiar rule in all business, that every man should be paid in
proportion to the trust reposed in him, and to the power which he
enjoys; and the nation soon found reason, from Charles's dangerous
connections with France, to repent their departure from that prudential
maxim. Indeed, could the parliaments in the reign of Charles I. have
been induced to relinquish so far their old habits, as to grant that
prince the same revenue which was voted to his successor, or had those
in the reign of Charles II. conferred on him as large a revenue as was
enjoyed by his brother, all the disorders in both reigns might easily
have been prevented, and probably all reasonable concessions to liberty
might peaceably have been obtained from both monarchs. But these
assemblies, unacquainted with public business, and often actuated by
faction and fanaticism, could never be made sensible, but too late and
by fatal experience, of the incessant change of times and situations.
The French ambassador informs his court, that Charles was very well
satisfied with his share of power, could the parliament have been
induced to make him tolerable easy in his revenue.[*]

If we estimate the ordinary revenue of Charles II. at one million two
hundred thousand pounds a year during his whole reign, the computation
will rather exceed than fall below the true value. The convention
parliament, after all the sums which they had granted the king towards
the payment of old debts, threw, the last day of their meeting, a debt
upon him amounting to one million seven hundred and forty-three thousand
two hundred and sixty-three pounds.[**] All the extraordinary sums which
were afterwards voted him by parliament, amounted to eleven millions
four hundred and forty-three thousand four hundred and seven pounds;
which, divided by twenty-four, the number of years which that king
reigned, make four hundred and seventy-six thousand eight hundred
and eight pounds a year. During that time, he had two violent wars to
sustain with the Dutch; and in 1678, he made expensive preparations for
a war with France. In the first Dutch war, both France and Denmark were
allies to the United Provinces, and the naval armaments in England were
very great; so that it is impossible he could have secreted any part,
at least any considerable part, of the sums which were then voted him by

     * Dalrymple's Appendix, p. 142.

     ** Journals, 29th of December, 1660.

To these sums we must add about one million two hundred thousand pounds,
which had been detained from the bankers on shutting up the exchequer in
1672. The king paid six per cent. for this money during the rest of his
reign.[*] It is remarkable that, notwithstanding this violent breach of
faith, the king, two years after, borrowed money at eight per cent.; the
same rate of interest which he had paid before that event;[**] a proof
that public credit, instead of being of so delicate a nature as we are
apt to imagine, is, in reality, so hardy and robust, that it is very
difficult to destroy it.

The revenue of James was raised by the parliament to about one million
eight hundred and fifty thousand pounds;[***] and his income as duke of
York being added, made the whole amount to two millions a year; a sum
well proportioned to the public necessities, but enjoyed by him in too
independent a manner. The national debt at the revolution amounted
to one million fifty-four thousand nine hundred and twenty-five

The militia fell much to decay during these two reigns, partly by the
policy of the kings, who had entertained a diffidence of their subjects,
partly by that ill-judged law which limited the king's power of
mustering and arraying them. In the beginning, however, of Charles's
reign, the militia was still deemed formidable. De Wit having proposed
to the French king an invasion of England during the first Dutch war,
that monarch replied, that such an attempt would be entirely fruitless,
and would tend only to unite the English. In a few days, said he, after
our landing, there will be fifty thousand men at least upon us.[v]

     * Danby's Memoirs, p. 7.

     ** Danby's Memoirs, p. 65.

     *** Journ. 1st of March, 1689.

     **** Journ. 20th of March, 1689.

     v    D'Estrades, 20th of October. 1666.

Charles in the beginning of his reign had in pay near five thousand
men, of guards and garrisons. At the end of his reign, he augmented this
number to near eight thousand. James, on Monmouth's rebellion, had on
foot about fifteen thousand men; and when the prince of Orange invaded
him, there were no fewer than thirty thousand regular troops in England.

The English navy, during the greater part of Charles's reign, made a
considerable figure, for number of ships, valor of the men, and conduct
of the commanders. Even in 1678, the fleet consisted of eighty-three
ships;[*] besides thirty which were at that time on the stocks. On the
king's restoration, he found only sixty-three vessels of all sizes.[**]
During the latter part of Charles's reign, the navy fell somewhat to
decay, by reason of the narrowness of the king's revenue: but James,
soon after his accession, restored it to its former power and glory; and
before he left the throne, carried it much further. The administration
of the admiralty under Pepys, is still regarded as a model for order
and economy. The fleet at the revolution consisted of one hundred and
seventy-three vessels of all sizes, and required forty-two thousand
seamen to man it.[***] That king, when duke of York, had been the first
inventor of sea signals. The military genius during these two reigns
had not totally decayed among the young nobility. Dorset, Mulgrave,
Rochester, not to mention Ossory, served on board the fleet, and were
present in the most furious engagements against the Dutch.

The commerce and riches of England did never, during any period,
increase so fast as from the restoration to the revolution. The two
Dutch wars, by disturbing the trade of that republic, promoted the
navigation of this island; and after Charles had made a separate peace
with the states, his subjects enjoyed unmolested the trade of Europe.
The only disturbance which they met with, was from a few French
privateers, who infested the channel; and Charles interposed not in
behalf of his subjects with sufficient spirit and vigor.

     * Pepys's Memoirs, p. 4.

     ** Memoirs of English Affairs, chiefly naval.

     *** Lives of the Admirals, vol. ii. p. 476.

The recovery or conquest of New York and the Jerseys was a considerable
accession to the strength and security of the English colonies; and,
together with the settlement of Pennsylvania and Carolina which was
effected during that reign, extended the English empire in America. The
persecutions of the dissenters, or, more properly speaking, the
restraints imposed upon them contributed to augment and people these
colonies. Dr. Davenant affirms,[*] that the shipping of England more
than doubled during these twenty-eight years. Several new manufactures
were established; in iron brass, silk, hats, glass, paper, etc. One
Brewer, leaving the Low Countries when they were threatened with a
French conquest, brought the art of dying woollen cloth into England,
and by that improvement saved the nation great sums of money. The
increase of coinage during these two reigns was ten millions two hundred
and sixty-one thousand pounds. A board of trade was erected in 1670; and
the earl of Sandwich was made president. Charles revived and supported
the charter of the East India Company; a measure whose utility is by
some thought doubtful: he granted a charter to the Hudson's Bay Company;
a measure probably hurtful.

We learn from Sir Josiah Child,[**] that in 1688 there were on the
Change more men worth ten thousand pounds than there were in 1650 worth
a thousand; that five hundred pounds with a daughter was, in the latter
period, deemed a larger portion than two thousand in the former; that
gentlewomen, in those earlier times, thought themselves well clothed in
a serge gown, which a chambermaid would, in 1688, be ashamed to be seen
in; and that, besides the great increase of rich clothes, plate, jewels,
and household furniture, coaches were in that time augmented a hundred

     * Discourse on the Public Revenues, part ii. p. 29, 33, 36.

     ** Brief Observations, etc.

The duke of Buckingham introduced from Venice the manufacture of glass
and crystal into England. Prince Rupert was also an encourager of useful
arts and manufactures: he himself was the inventor of etching.

The first law for erecting turnpikes was passed in 1662: the places of
the turnpikes were Wadesmill, Caxton, and Stilton: but the general and
great improvement of highways took not place till the reign of George

In 1663 was passed the first law for allowing the exportation of foreign
coin and bullion.

In 1667 was concluded the first American treaty between England and
Spain: this treaty was made more general and complete in 1670. The two
states then renounced all right of trading with each other's colonies;
and the title of England was acknowledged to all the territories in
America of which she was then possessed.

The French king, about the beginning of Charles's reign, laid some
impositions on English commodities: and the English, partly displeased
with this innovation, partly moved by their animosity against France,
retaliated, by laying such restraints on the commerce with that kingdom
as amounted almost to a prohibition. They formed calculations, by which
they persuaded themselves that they were losers a million and a half or
near two millions a year by the French trade. But no good effects were
found to result from these restraints, and in King James's reign they
were taken off by parliament.

Lord Clarendon tells us, that, in 1665, when money, in consequence of a
treaty, was to be remitted to the bishop of Munster, it was found, that
the whole trade of England could not supply above a thousand pounds a
month to Frankfort and Cologne, nor above twenty thousand pounds a month
to Hamburgh: these sums appear surprisingly small.[*]

     * Life of Clarendon, p. 237.

At the same time that the boroughs of England were deprived of their
privileges, a like attempt was made on the colonies. King James recalled
the charters, by which their liberties were secured; and he sent over
governors invested with absolute power. The arbitrary principles of that
monarch appear in every part of his administration.

The people, during these two reigns, were in a great measure cured of
that wild fanaticism by which they had formerly been so much agitated.
Whatever new vices they might acquire, it may be questioned, whether by
this change they were, in the main, much losers in point of morals.
By the example of Charles II. and the cavaliers, licentiousness and
debauchery became prevalent in the nation. The pleasures of the table
were much pursued. Love was treated more as an appetite than a passion.
The one sex began to abate of the national character of chastity,
without being able to inspire the other with sentiment or delicacy.

The abuses in the former age, arising from overstrained pretensions to
piety, had much propagated the spirit of irreligion; and many of the
ingenious men of this period lie under the imputation of Deism. Besides
wits and scholars by profession, Saftesbury, Halifax, Buckingham,
Mulgrave, Sunderland Essex, Rochester, Sidney, Temple, are supposed to
have adopted these principles.

The same factions which formerly distracted the nation were revived,
and exerted themselves in the most ungenerous and unmanly enterprises
against each other. King Charles, being in his whole deportment a model
of easy and gentleman-like behavior, improved the politeness of the
nation; as much as faction, which of all things is most destructive
to that virtue, could possibly permit. His courtiers were long
distinguishable in England by their obliging and agreeable manners.

Till the revolution, the liberty of the press was very imperfectly
enjoyed in England, and during a very short period. The star chamber,
while that court subsisted, put effectual restraints upon printing.
On the suppression of that tribunal in 1641, the long parliament, after
their rupture with the king, assumed the same power with regard to the
licensing of books; and this authority was continued during all the
period of the republic and protectorship.[*]

     * Scobell i. 44, 134; ii. 88, 230.

Two years after the restoration, an act was passed reviving the
republican ordinances. This act expired in 1679; but was revived in the
first of King James. The liberty of the press did not even commence with
the revolution. It was not till 1694 that the restraints were taken
off; to the great displeasure of the king and his ministers, who, seeing
nowhere, in any government, during present or past ages, any example
of such unlimited freedom, doubted much of its salutary effects; and
probably thought, that no books or writings would ever so much improve
the general understanding of men, as to render it safe to intrust them
with an indulgence so easily abused.

In 1677, the old law for burning heretics was repealed; a prudent
measure, while the nation was in continual dread of the return of

Amidst the thick cloud of bigotry and ignorance which overspread the
nation during the commonwealth and protectorship, there were a few
sedate philosophers, who, in the retirement of Oxford, cultivated their
reason, and established conferences for the mutual communication of
their discoveries in physics and geometry. Wilkins, a clergyman, who
had married Cromwell's sister, and was afterwards bishop of Chester,
promoted these philosophical conversations. Immediately after the
restoration, these men procured a patent, and having enlarged their
number, were denominated the Royal Society. But this patent was all
they obtained from the king. Though Charles was a lover of the sciences,
particularly chemistry and mechanics, he animated them by his example
alone not by his bounty. His craving courtiers and mistresses, by whom
he was perpetually surrounded, engrossed all his expense, and left him
neither money nor attention for literary merit. His contemporary Lewis,
who fell short of the king's genius and knowledge in this particular,
much exceeded him in liberality. Besides pensions conferred on learned
men throughout all Europe, his academies were directed by rules and
supported by salaries; a generosity which does great honor to his
memory; and, in the eyes of all the ingenious part of mankind, will be
esteemed an atonement for many of the errors of his reign. We may be
surprised that this example should not be more followed by princes;
since it is certain that that bounty, so extensive, so beneficial, and
so much celebrated, cost not this monarch so great a sum as is often
conferred on one useless, overgrown favorite or courtier.

But though the French Academy of Sciences was directed, encouraged, and
supported by the sovereign, there arose in England some men of superior
genius, who were more than sufficient to cast the balance, and who drew
on themselves and on their native country the regard and attention of
Europe. Besides Wilkins, Wren, Wallis, eminent mathematicians, Hooke,
an accurate observer by microscopes, and Sydenham, the restorer of true
physic, there flourished during this period a Boyle and a Newton; men
who trod with cautious, and therefore the more secure steps, the only
road which leads to true philosophy.

Boyle improved the pneumatic engine, invented by Otto Guericke, and was
thereby enabled to make several new and curious experiments on the air,
as well as on other bodies: his chemistry is much admired by those who
are acquainted with that art: his hydrostatics contain a greater mixture
of reasoning and invention with experiment than any other of his works;
but his reasoning is still remote from that boldness and temerity which
had led astray so many philosophers. Boyle was a great partisan of the
mechanical philosophy; a theory which by discovering some of the secrets
of nature, and allowing us to imagine the rest, is so agreeable to the
natural vanity and curiosity of men. He died in 1691, aged sixty-five.

In Newton this island may boast of having produced the greatest and
rarest genius that ever arose for the ornament and instruction of the
species. Cautious in admitting no principles but such as were founded on
experiment, but resolute to adopt every such principle, however new or
unusual; from modesty, ignorant of his superiority above the rest of
mankind, and thence less careful to accommodate his reasonings to common
apprehension; more anxious to merit than acquire fame; he was from these
causes long unknown to the world; but his reputation at last broke out
with a lustre which scarcely any writer, during his own lifetime, had
ever before attained. While Newton seemed to draw off the veil from some
of the mysteries of nature, he showed at the same time the imperfections
of the mechanical philosophy; and thereby restored her ultimate secrets
to that obscurity, in which they ever did and ever will remain. He died
in 1727, aged eighty-five.

This age was far from being so favorable to polite literature as to the
sciences. Charles, though fond of wit, though possessed himself of a
considerable share of it, though his taste in conversation seems to have
been sound and just, served rather to corrupt than improve the poetry
and eloquence of his time. When the theatres were opened at the
restoration, and freedom was again given to pleasantry and ingenuity,
men, after so long an abstinence, fed on these delicacies with less
taste than avidity, and the coarsest and most irregular species of wit
was received by the court as well as by the people. The productions
represented at that time on the stage were such monsters of extravagance
and folly, so utterly destitute of all reason or even common sense, that
they would be the disgrace of English literature, had not the nation
made atonement for its former admiration of them by the total oblivion
to which they are now condemned. The duke of Buckingham's Rehearsal,
which exposed these wild productions, seems to be a piece of ridicule
carried to excess; yet in reality, the copy scarcely equals some of the
absurdities which we meet with in the originals.[*]

     * The duke of Buckingham died on the 16th of April 1688.

This severe satire, together with the good sense of the nation,
corrected, after some time, the extravagancies of the fashionable wit;
but the productions of literature still wanted much of that correctness
and delicacy which we so much admire in the ancients, and in the French
writers, their judicious imitators. It was, indeed, during this
period chiefly, that that nation left the English behind them in the
productions of poetry, eloquence, history, and other branches of
polite letters; and acquired a superiority which the efforts of English
writers, during the subsequent age, did more successfully contest with
them. The arts and sciences were imported from Italy into this island as
early as into France; and made at first more sensible advances. Spenser,
Shakspeare, Bacon, Jonson, were superior to their contemporaries who
flourished in that kingdom. Milton, Waller, Denham, Cowley, Harvey, were
at least equal to their contemporaries. The reign of Charles II., which
some preposterously represent as our Augustan age, retarded the progress
of polite literature in this island; and it was then found, that the
immeasurable licentiousness, indulged or rather applauded at court, was
more destructive to the refined arts, than even the cant, nonsense, and
enthusiasm of the preceding period.

Most of the celebrated writers of this age remain monuments of genius,
perverted by indecency and bad taste; and none more than Dryden, both by
reason of the greatness of his talents and the gross abuse which he made
of them. His plays, excepting a few scenes, are utterly disfigured by
vice or folly, or both. His translations appear too much the offspring
of haste and hunger: even his fables are ill-chosen tales, conveyed
in an incorrect, though spirited versification. Yet amidst this great
number of loose productions, the refuse of our language, there are found
some small pieces, his Ode to St. Cecilia, the greater part of Absalom
and Achitophel, and a few more, which discover so great genius, such
richness of expression, such pomp and variety of numbers, that they
leave us equally full of regret and indignation, on account of the
inferiority or rather great absurdity of his other writings. He died in
1701, aged sixty-nine.

The very name of Rochester is offensive to modest ears, yet does his
poetry discover such energy of style and such poignancy of satire, as
give ground to imagine what so fine a genius, had he fallen in a more
happy age, and had followed better models, was capable of producing. The
ancient satirists often used great liberties in their expressions; but
their free-* *dom no more resembles the licentiousness of Rochester,
than the nakedness of an Indian does that of a common prostitute.

Wycherley was ambitious of the reputation of wit and libertinism, and he
attained it: he was probably capable of reaching the fame of true
comedy and instructive ridicule. Otway had a genius finely turned to the
pathetic; but he neither observed strictly the rules of the drama, nor
the rules, still more essential, of propriety and decorum. By one single
piece, the duke of Buckingham did both great service to his age and
honor to himself. The earls of Mulgrave, Dorset, and Roscommon wrote in
a good taste; but their productions are either feeble or careless. The
marquis of Halifax discovers a refined genius; and nothing but leisure
and an inferior station seem wanting to have procured him eminence in

Of all the considerable writers of this age, Sir William Temple is
almost the only one that kept himself altogether unpolluted by that
inundation of vice and licentiousness which overwhelmed the nation. The
style of this author, though extremely negligent, and even infected with
foreign idioms, is agreeable and interesting. That mixture of vanity
which appears in his works, is rather a recommendation to them. By means
of it we enter into acquaintance with the character of the author, full
of honor and humanity; and fancy that we are engaged, not in the perusal
of a book, but in conversation with a companion. He died in 1698, aged

Though Hudibras was published, and probably composed, during the reign
of Charles II., Butler may justly, as well as Milton, be thought to
belong to the foregoing period. No composition abounds so much as
Hudibras in strokes of just and inimitable wit; yet are there many
performances which give as great or greater entertainment on the whole
perusal. The allusions in Butler are often dark and far-fetched; and
though scarcely any author was ever able to express his thoughts in
so few words, he often employs too many thoughts on one subject, and
thereby becomes prolix after an unusual manner. It is surprising how
much erudition Butler has introduced with so good a grace into a work
of pleasantry and humor: Hudibras is perhaps one of the most learned
compositions that is to be found in any language. The advantage which
the royal cause received from this poem, in exposing the fanaticism and
false pretences of the former parliamentary party, was prodigious. The
king himself had so good a taste as to be highly pleased with the merit
of the work, and had even got a great part of it by heart: yet was he
either so careless in his temper, or so little endowed with the virtue
of liberality, or, more properly speaking, of gratitude, that he allowed
the author, a man of virtue and probity, to live in obscurity, and die
in want.[*]

     * Butler died in 1680, aged sixty-eight.

Dryden is an instance of a negligence of the same kind. His Absalom
sensibly contributed to the victory which the tories obtained over the
whigs, after the exclusion parliaments; yet could not this merit, aided
by his great genius, procure him an establishment which might exempt
him from the necessity of writing for bread. Otway, though a professed
royalist, could not even procure bread by his writings; and he had the
singular fate of dying literally of hunger. These incidents throw a
great stain on the memory of Charles; who had discernment, loved genius,
was liberal of money, but attained not the praise of true generosity.


[Footnote 1: NOTE A, p. 58. The articles were, that he had advised
the king to govern by military power, without parliaments; that he had
affirmed the king to be a papist, or popishly affected; that he had
received great sums of money, for procuring the Canary patent, and
other illegal patents; that he had advised and procured divers of his
majesty's subjects to be imprisoned against law, in remote islands and
garrisons, thereby to prevent their having the benefit of the law; that
he had procured the customs to be farmed at under rates; that he had
received great sums from the vintners' company, for allowing them to
enhance the price of wines; that he had in a short time gained a greater
estate than could have been supposed to arise from the profits of
his offices; that he had introduced an arbitrary government into
his majesty's plantations; that he had rejected a proposal for the
preservation of Nevis and St. Christopher's, which was the occasion of
great losses in those parts; that when he was in his majesty's service
beyond sea, he held a correspondence with Cromwell and his accomplices;
that he advised the sale of Dunkirk; that he had unduly altered letters
patent under the king's seal; that he had unduly decided causes in
council, which should have been brought before chancery; that he
had issued quo warrantos against corporations, with an intention of
squeezing money from them; that he had taken money for passing the bill
of settlement in Ireland; that he betrayed the nation in all foreign
treaties, and that he was the principal adviser of dividing the fleet in
June, 1666.]

[Footnote 2: NOTE B, p. 80. The abstract of the report of the Brook
House committee (so that committee was called) was first published by
Mr. Ralph (vol. i. p. 177), from Lord Halifax's collections, to which I
refer. If we peruse their apology, which we find in the subsequent page
of the same author, we shall find that they acted with some malignity
towards the king. They would take notice of no services performed before
the first of September, 1664. But all the king's preparations preceded
that date, and, as Chancellor Clarendon told the parliament, amounted
to eight hundred thousand pounds; and the computation is very probable.
This sum, therefore, must be added. The committee likewise charged seven
hundred thousand pounds to the king, on account of the winter and summer
guards, saved during two years and ten months that the war lasted.
But this seems iniquitous. For though that was an usual burden on the
revenue, which was then saved, would not the diminution of the customs
during the war be an equivalent to it? Besides, near three hundred and
forty thousand pounds are charged for prize money, which perhaps the
king thought he ought not to account for. These sums exceed the million
and a half.]

[Footnote 3: NOTE C, p. 85. Gourville has said in his Memoirs, (vol. ii.
p. 14, 67,) that Charles was never sincere in the triple alliance;
and that, having entertained a violent animosity against De Wit, he
endeavored by this artifice to detach him from the French alliance, with
a view of afterwards finding an opportunity to satiate his vengeance
upon him. This account, though very little honorable to the king's
memory, seems probable from the events, as well as from the authority of
the author.]

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Volumes, Vol.I., Part F., by David Hume


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