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predicament. Marvell was what he calls a "composure," that is a
"comprehension," man. In the _Growth of Popery_ he sorrowfully admits
that it is the gravest reproach of human wisdom that no man seems able
or willing to find out the due temper of Government in divine matters.

"Insomuch that it is no great adventure to say, that the world was
better ordered under the ancient monarchies and commonwealths, that
the number of virtuous men was then greater, and that the Christians
found fairer quarter under those than among themselves, nor hath
there any advantage accrued unto mankind from that most perfect and
practical model of humane society, except the speculation of a better
way to future happiness, concerning which the very guides disagree,
and of those few that follow, it will suffer no man to pass without
paying at their turnpikes." (Vol. iv. p. 280.)

The French Alliance made the war, though with Holland, unpopular.
Writers had to be hired to defend it. France was supposed to look on
with much composure as her two maritime competitors battered each
other's fleets. At sea the honours were divided between the Dutch and
the English. On land Louis had it all his own way. Besides, rumours got
abroad of an uncomfortable plot to restore Popery. Jesuits seemed to
abound. Roman Catholics asserted themselves, the laws being suspended.
An army was collected at Blackheath. The Treasury was closed. Charles
had been badly bled by the goldsmiths or bankers, who had charged him
£12 per cent.; but in commercial centres Acts of Bankruptcy are seldom
popular, and though the bankers were compelled to be content with £6 per
cent., the closing of the Treasury brought ruin into many homes.

When Parliament met in February 1673, its temper was bad. It would have
nothing to do with the Declaration of Indulgence, and though the king
had told them, in the round set terms he could so well command, that he
was resolved to stick to his declaration, he had to give way and to see
the House busy itself with a Test Bill that drove all Roman Catholics,
from the Duke of York (who had "gone over" in the spring of 1672)
downwards, out of office. The only effect of Charles's policy was to
mitigate the hostility of the House of Commons to Protestant Dissenters,
and to drive it to concentrate its jealousy upon the Catholics. Any
lurking idea of the king declaring himself a Romanist had to be
abandoned. His hatred of Parliament increased. He lost all sense of
shame, and frankly became a pensioner of France. In 1676 he concluded a
second secret treaty, whereby both Louis and himself bound themselves to
enter into no engagements with other powers without consent, and in case
of rebellion within their realms to come to each other's assistance.
Louis agreed to make Charles an annual allowance of a hundred thousand,
afterwards increased to two hundred thousand _livres_. This money was
largely spent in bribing the House of Commons. The French ambassador was
allowed an extra grant of a thousand crowns a month to keep a table for
hungry legislators.[189:1] Did not Marvell do well to be angry?

Some of Marvell's letters belonging to this gloomy period are full of
interest.


_To William Ramsden, Esq._
"_Nov. 28, 1670._

"DEAR WILL, - I need not tell you I am always thinking of you. All
that has happened, which is remarkable, since I wrote, is as
follows: The Lieutenancy of London, chiefly Sterlin the Mayor, and
Sir J. Robinson, alarmed the King continually with the Conventicles
there. So the King sent them strict and large powers. The Duke of
York every Sunday would come over thence to look to the peace. To
say truth, they met in numerous open assemblys, without any dread of
government. But the train bands in the city, and soldiery in
Southwark and suburbs, harassed and abused them continually; they
wounded many, and killed some Quakers especially, while they took
all patiently. Hence arose two things of great remark. The
Lieutenancy, having got orders to their mind, pick out Hays and
Jekill, the innocentist of the whole party, to show their power on.
They offer them illegal bonds of five thousand pounds a man, which
if they would not enter into, they must go to prison. So they were
committed, and at last (but it is a very long story) got free. Some
friends engaged for them. The other was the tryal of Pen and Mead,
quakers, at the Old Baily. The jury not finding them guilty, as the
Recorder and Mayor would have had them, they were kept without meat
or drink some three days, till almost starved, but would not alter
their verdict; so fined and imprisoned. There is a book out which
relates all the passages, which were very pertinent, of the
prisoners, but prodigiously barbarous by the Mayor and Recorder. The
Recorder, among the rest, commended the Spanish Inquisition, saying
it would never be well till we had something like it. The King had
occasion for sixty thousand pounds. Sent to borrow it of the city.
Sterlin, Robinson, and all the rest of that faction, were at it many
a week, and could not get above ten thousand. The fanatics under
persecution, served his Majesty. The other party, both in court and
city, would have prevented it. But the King protested mony would be
acceptable. So the King patched up, out of the Chamber, and other
ways, twenty thousand pounds. The fanatics, of all sorts, forty
thousand. The King, though against many of his council, would have
the Parliament sit this twenty-fourth of October. He, and the Keeper
spoke of nothing but to have mony. Some one million three hundred
thousand pounds, to pay off the debts at interest; and eight hundred
thousand for a brave navy next Spring. Both speeches forbid to be
printed, for the King said very little, and the Keeper, it was
thought, too much in his politic simple discourse of foreign
affairs. The House was thin and obsequious. They voted at first they
would supply him according to his occasions, _Nemine_, as it was
remarked, _contradicente_; but few affirmatives, rather a silence as
of men ashamed and unwilling. Sir R. Howard, Seymour, Temple, Car,
and Hollis, openly took leave of their former party, and fell to
head the King's busyness. There is like to be a terrible Act of
Conventicles. The Prince of Orange here is much made of. The King
owes him a great deal of mony. The Paper is full. - I am yours," etc.

The trial of William Penn and William Mead at the Old Bailey for a
tumultuous assembly, written by themselves, may be read in the _State
Trials_, vol. vi. The trial was the occasion of Penn's famous remark to
the Recorder of London, who, driven wellnigh distracted by Penn's
dialectics, exclaimed, "If I should suffer you to ask questions till
to-morrow morning you would never be the wiser." "That," replied Penn,
"would be according as the answers are."


_To William Ramsden, Esq._
(Undated.)

"DEAR WILL, - The Parliament are still proceeding, but not much
advanced on their eight hundred thousand pounds Bill on money at
interest, offices, and lands; and the Excise Bills valued at four
hundred thousand pounds a year. The first for the navy, which scarce
will be set out. The last to be for paying one million three hundred
thousand pounds, which the King owes at interest, and perhaps may be
given for four, five, or six years, as the House chances to be in
humour. But an accident happened which liked to have spoiled all:
Sir John Coventry having moved for an imposition on the playhouses,
Sir John Berkenhead, to excuse them, sayed they had been of great
service to the King. Upon which Sir John Coventry desired that
gentleman to explain whether he meant the men or the women players.
Hereupon it is imagined, that, the House adjourning from Tuesday
before till Thursday after Christmas-day, on the very Tuesday night
of the adjournment, twenty-five of the Duke of Monmouth's troop, and
some few foot, layed in wait from ten at night till two in the
morning, by Suffolk-street, and as he returned from the Cock, where
he supped, to his own house, they threw him down, and with a knife
cut off almost the end of his nose; but company coming made them
fearful to finish it, so they marched off. Sir Thomas Sands,
lieutenant of the troop, commanded the party; and O'Brian, the Earl
of Inchequin's son, was a principal actor. The Court hereupon
sometimes thought to carry it with a high hand, and question Sir
John for his words, and maintain the action. Sometimes they flagged
in their counsels. However, the King commanded Sir Thomas Clarges,
and Sir W. Pultney, to release Wroth and Lake, who were two of the
actors, and taken. But the night before the House met they
surrendered them again. The House being but sullen the next day, the
Court did not oppose adjourning for some days longer till it was
filled. Then the House went upon Coventry's busyness, and voted that
they would go upon nothing else whatever till they had passed a
Bill, as they did, for Sands, O'Brian, Parry, and Reeves, to come in
by the sixteenth of February, or else be condemned, and never to be
pardoned, but by an express Act of Parliament, and their names
therein inserted, for fear of being pardoned in some general act of
grace. Farther of all such actions, for the future on any man,
felony, without clergy; and who shall otherwise strike or wound any
parliament-man, during his attendance, or going or coming,
imprisonment for a year, treble damages, and incapacity. This Bill
having in some few days been dispatched to the Lords, the House has
since gone on in grand Committee upon the first eight hundred
thousand pounds Bill, but are not yet half way. But now the Lords,
instead of the sixteenth of February, put twenty-five days after the
King's royal assent, and that registered in their journal; they
disagree in several other things, but adhere in that first, which is
most material. Adhere, in this place, signifies not to be retracted,
and excludes a free conference. So that this week the Houses will be
in danger of splitting, without much wisdom or force. For
considering that Sir Thomas Sands was the very person sent to
Clarges and Pultney, that O'Brian was concealed in the Duke of
Monmouth's lodgings, that Wroth and Lake were bayled at the sessions
by order from Mr. Attorney, and that all persons and things are
perfectly discovered, that act will not be passed without great
consequence. George's father obliges you much in Tangier. Prince
Edgar is dying. The Court is at the highest pitch of want and
luxury, and the people full of discontent, Remember me to
yourselves."


_To William Ramsden, Esq._
(Undated.)

"DEAR WILL, - I think I have not told you that, on our Bill of
Subsidy, the Lord Lucas made a fervent bold speech against our
prodigality in giving, and the weak looseness of the government, the
King being present; and the Lord Clare another to persuade the King
that he ought not to be present. But all this had little
encouragement, not being seconded. Copys going about everywhere, one
of them was brought into the Lords' House, and Lord Lucas was asked
whether it was his. He sayd part was, and part was not. Thereupon
they took advantage, and sayed it was a libel even against Lucas
himself. On this they voted it a libel, and to be burned by the
hangman. Which was done; but the sport was, the hangman burned the
Lords' order with it. I take the last quarrel betwixt us and the
Lords to be as the ashes of that speech. Doubtless you have heard,
before this time, how Monmouth, Albemarle, Dunbane, and seven or
eight gentlemen, fought with the watch, and killed a poor bedle.
They have all got their pardons, for Monmouth's sake; but it is an
act of great scandal. The King of France is at Dunkirke. We have no
fleet out, though we gave the Subsidy Bill, valued at eight hundred
thousand pounds, for that purpose. I believe, indeed, he will
attempt nothing on us, but leave us to dy a natural death. For
indeed never had poor nation so many complicated, mortal, incurable,
diseases. You know the Dutchess of York is dead. All gave her for a
Papist. I think it will be my lot to go on an honest fair employment
into Ireland. Some have smelt the court of Rome at that distance.
There I hope I shall be out of the smell of our.... - Yours," etc.


_To a Friend in Persia._
"_August 9, 1671._

"DEAR SIR, - I have yours of the 12th of October 1670, which was in
all respects most welcome to me, except when I considered that to
write it you endured some pain, for you say your hand is not yet
recovered. If I could say any thing to you towards the advancement
of your affairs, I could, with a better conscience, admit you should
spend so much of your precious time, as you do, upon me. But you
know how far those things are out of my road, tho', otherwise, most
desirous in all things to be serviceable to you. God's good
providence, which hath through so dangerous a disease and so many
difficultys preserved and restored you, will, I doubt not, conduct
you to a prosperous issue, and the perfection of your so laudable
undertakings. And, under that, your own good genius, in conjunction
with your brother here, will, I hope, though at the distance of
England and Persia, in good time operate extraordinary effects; for
the magnetism of two souls, rightly touched, works beyond all
natural limits, and it would be indeed too unequal, if good nature
should not have at least as large a sphere of activity, as malice,
envy, and detraction, which are, it seems, part of the returns from
Gombroon and Surat. All I can say to you in that matter is, that you
must, seeing it will not be better, stand upon your guard; for in
this world a good cause signifys little, unless it be as well
defended. A man may starve at the feast of good conscience. My
fencing master in Spain, after he had instructed me all he could,
told me, I remember, there was yet one secret, against which there
was no defence, and that was, to give the first blow. I know your
maxim, _Qui festinat ditescere, non erit innocens_. Indeed while you
preserve that mind, you will have the blessing both of God and man.
In general I perceive, and am very glad of it, that by your good
management, your friends here get ground, and the flint in your
adversarys' hearts begins to be mollifyed. Now after my usual
method, leaving to others what relates to busyness, I address
myself, which is all I am good for, to be your gazettier. I am sorry
to perceive that mine by the Armenian miscarryed. Tho' there was
nothing material in it, the thoughts of friends are too valuable to
fall into the hands of a stranger. I wrote the last February at
large, and wish it a better passage. In this perhaps I may interfere
something with that, chusing rather to repeat than omit. The King
having, upon pretence of the great preparations of his neighbours,
demanded three hundred thousand pounds for his navy (though in
conclusion he hath not set out any) and that the Parliament should
pay his debts, which the ministers would never particularize to the
House of Commons, our House gave several bills. You see how far
things were stretched, though beyond reason, there being no
satisfaction how those debts were contracted, and all men foreseeing
that what was given would not be applyed to discharge the debts,
which I hear are at this day risen to four millions, but diverted as
formerly. Nevertheless such was the number of the constant courtiers
increased by the apostate patriots, who were bought off, for that
turn, some at six, others ten, one at fifteen thousand pounds in
money, besides what offices, lands, and reversions, to others, that
it is a mercy they gave not away the whole land, and liberty, of
England. The Earl of Clare made a very bold and rational harangue,
the King being present, against the King's sitting among the Lords,
contrary to former precedents, during their debates; but he was not
seconded. The King had this April prorogued, upon the Houses
cavilling, and their harsh conferences concerning some bills, the
Parliament from this April till the 16th of April 1672. Sir John
Coventry's Bill against Cutting Noses passed, and O'Brian and Sir
Thomas Sands, not appearing at the Old Baily by the time limited,
stand attainted and outlawed, without possibility of pardon. The
Duke of Buckingham is again one hundred and forty thousand pounds in
debt, and, by this prorogation, his creditors have time to tear all
his lands in pieces. The House of Commons has run almost to the end
of their line, and are grown extreme chargeable to the King, and
odious to the people. Lord St. John, Marquess of Westminster's son,
one of the House of Commons, Sir Robert Howard, Sir John Benet, Lord
Arlington's brother, Sir William Bucknoll, the brewer, all of the
House, in fellowship with some others of the city, have farmed the
old customs, with the new act of Imposition upon Wines, and the Wine
Licenses, at six hundred thousand pounds a year, to begin this
Michaelmas. You may be sure they have covenants not to be losers.
They have signed and sealed ten thousand pounds a year more to the
Duchess of Cleveland, who has likewise near ten thousand pounds a
year out of the new farm of the country excise of Beer and Ale, five
thousand pounds a year out of the Post Office, and, they say, the
reversion of all the King's leases, the reversion of places all in
the Custom House, the green wax, and indeed, what not? All
promotions, spiritual and temporal, pass under her cognizance.
Buckingham runs out of all with the Lady Shrewsbury, by whom he
believes he had a son, to whom the King stood godfather; it dyed,
young Earl of Coventry, and was buryed in the sepulchre of his
fathers. The King of France made a warlike progresse this summer
through his conquests of Flanders, but kept the peace there, and
detains still the Dutchy of Lorain, and has stired up the German
Princes against the free towns. The Duke of Brunswick has taken the
town of Brunswick; and now the Bishop of Cullen is attacking the
city of Colen. We truckle to France in all things, to the prejudice
of our honour. Barclay is still Lieutenant of Ireland; but he was
forced to come over to pay ten thousand pounds rent to his Landlady
Cleveland. My Lord Angier, who bought of Sir George Carteret for
eleven thousand pounds, the Vice-treasurership of Ireland, worth
five thousand pounds a year, is, betwixt knavery and foolery, turned
out. Dutchess of York and Prince Edgar, dead. None left but
daughters. One Blud, outlawed for a plot to take Dublin Castle, and
who seized on the Duke of Ormond here last year, and might have
killed him, a most bold, and yet sober fellow, some months ago
seized the crown and sceptre in the Tower, took them away, and if he
had killed the keeper, might have carried them clear off. He, being
taken, astonished the King and Court, with the generosity, and
wisdom, of his answers. He, and all his accomplices, for his sake,
are discharged by the King, to the wonder of all. - Yours," etc.


_To William Ramsden, Esq._
"_June 1672._

"DEAR WILL, - Affairs begin to alter, and men talk of a peace with
Holland, and taking them into our protection; and it is my opinion
it will be before Michaelmas, for some reasons, not fit to write. We
cannot have a peace with France and Holland both. The Dutch are now
brought very low; but Amsterdam, and some other provinces, are
resolved to stand out till the last. De-wit is stabbed, and dead of
his wounds. It was at twelve a clock at night, the 11th of this
month, as he came from the council at the Hague. Four men wounded
him with their swords. But his own letter next morning to the States
says nothing appeared mortal. The whole Province of Utrecht is
yielding up. No man can conceive the condition of the State of
Holland, in this juncture, unless he can at the same time conceive
an earthquake, an hurricane, and the deluge. France is potent and
subtle. Here have been several fires of late. One at St.
Catherine's, which burned about six score or two hundred houses, and
some seven or eight ships. Another in Bishopsgate-street. Another in
Crichet Fryars. Another in Southwark; and some elsewhere. You may be
sure all the old talk is hereupon revived. There was the other day,
though not on this occasion, a severe proclamation issued out
against all who shall vent false news, or discourse ill concerning
affairs of state. So that in writing to you I run the risque of
making a breech in the commandment. - Yours," etc.

The following letter deals with another matter of human concern than
politics, for it seeks to condole with a father who has lost an only
son.


_To Sir John Trott_
(Undated.)

"HONOURED SIR, - I have not that vanity to believe, if you weigh your
late loss by the common ballance, that any thing I can write to you
should lighten your resentments: nor if you measure things by the
rules of christianity, do I think it needful to comfort you in your
duty and your son's happyness. Only having a great esteem and
affection for you, and the grateful memory of him that is departed
being still green and fresh upon my spirit, I cannot forbear to
inquire, how you have stood the second shock at your sad meeting of
friends in the country. I know that the very sight of those who have
been witnesses of our better fortune, doth but serve to reinforce a
calamity. I know the contagion of grief and infection of tears, and
especially when it runs in a blood. And I myself could sooner imitate
than blame those innocent relentings of nature, so that they spring
from tenderness only and humanity, not from an implacable sorrow. The
tears of a family may flow together like those little drops that
compact the rainbow, and if they be placed with the same advantage
towards Heaven as those are to the sun, they too have their
splendour; and like that bow, while they unbend into seasonable
showers, yet they promise, that there shall not be a second flood.
But the dissoluteness of grief, the prodigality of sorrow, is neither
to be indulged in a man's self, nor complyed with in others. If that
were allowable in these cases, Eli's was the readyest way and highest
compliment of mourning, who fell back from his seat and broke his
neck. But neither does that precedent hold. For though he had been
Chancellor, and in effect King of Israel, for so many years (and such
men value, as themselves, their losses at an higher rate than
others), yet, when he heard that Israel was overcome, that his two
sons Hophni and Phineas were slain in one day, and saw himself so
without hope of issue, and which imbittered it farther, without
succession to the government, yet he fell not till the news that the
ark of God was taken. I pray God that we may never have the same
parallel perfected in our publick concernments. Then we shall need
all the strength of grace and nature to support us. But on a private
loss, and sweetened with so many circumstances as yours, to be
impatient, to be uncomfortable would be to dispute with God. Though
an only son be inestimable, yet it is like Jonah's sin, to be angry
at God for the withering of his shadow. Zipporah, though the delay
had almost cost her husband his life, yet, when he did but circumcise
her son, in a womanish peevishness reproached Moses as a bloody
husband. But if God take the son himself, but spare the father, shall
we say that He is a bloody God? He that gave His own son, may He not
take ours? It is pride that makes a rebel; and nothing but the


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