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which national pride attached a fictitious value, by his
suspected wealth, and, what was most cruel, by the notion
that he furthered the papistical designs of the king. He
was accused of marrying the king to a barren wife that
his own daughter, the Duchess of York, might be queen.
Even the great plague and the fire of London were laid
to the charge of his government. His fashions, formed
before the political deluge, were old ; long an exile, he
was somewhat of an alien in a changed England, and to
win hearts he neither knew how nor cared. Amidst the
jubilation of the harlots and the buffoons he was deprived
of his great office. Our mild method of getting rid of a
prime minister by a vote of want of confidence was still



I CHARLES II 27

unknown. Impeachment was the only mode. On pre-
tences, of which that of arbitrary imprisonments alone
was not hollow, Clarendon was impeached. By the evil, 1667
perhaps treacherous, advice of the king, he withdrew him-
self from trial and was banished for life. He had been
the restorer of an intolerant prelacy, and if the bishops
originated, he fathered, the code of persecution. But he
had been comparatively inclined to moderation and the
upholder of indemnity, as well as by his character and
manners a living rebuke to court vice and corruption.
He had refused a bribe from France which his royal
master advised him to accept. His friend Ormonde, who
had been governing Ireland honourably and as well as
evil conditions would permit, was presently ejected from 1669
office by the same faction. About this time his colleague,
the lord treasurer Southampton, perhaps the worthiest of
all the men of that time, died. With these three sur- 1667
vivors of a nobler generation, integrity and even decency
left the councils of the king. The spirit of the Resto-
ration broke loose and henceforth reigns.

Power passed by this intrigue into the hands of the 1667
Cabal, a ministry so called because the initial letters
of the names of its five members, Clifford, Arlington,
Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale, made up that word.
It was an embryo cabinet though without a regular
parliamentary basis, and to the cabinet the old con-
stitutional privy council is gradually giving way. The
privy council, consisting of fifty members, was too large
for business, and an inner council became a necessity,
especially for foreign affairs. Parliament had to be man-
aged, and it could not be managed through a large body
without union in itself. An inner and very confidential



26 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

own life was vicious. They conceived the scheme, after-
1072 wards tried again by James as king, of an Indulgence
which, intended nominally for the benefit of all noncon-
formists and alluring them all alike, should in the end
inure to the benefit of the true and royal religion. It was
by thwarting this policy, as a stiff and devout liegeman
of the church of England, that Clarendon lost the king's
1667 favour and fell. But he had also fretted his royal master's
character on its other side. The solemnity of his anti-
quated virtue was oppressive to Charles and to the new
morality of the court and harem. Having been Charles's
tutor in exile, he had not doffed the tutor. Killigrew, the
court jester, set the circle in a roar by mimicking the
chancellor's gait with a bellows held like the seals before
him. By hot Cavaliers, Clarendon was hated as the up-
holder, to his honour, of the Indemnity Act ; by selfish
land-owners as the opponent of the Irish Cattle Act. To
the people he became odious by mismanagement in war,
by his part in the sale of Dunkirk, an acquisition to
which national pride attached a fictitious value, by his
suspected wealth, and, what was most cruel, by the notion
that he furthered the papistical designs of the king. He
was accused of marrying the king to a barren wife that
his own daughter, the Duchess of York, might be queen.
Even the great plague and the fire of London were laid
to the charge of his government. His fashions, formed
before the political deluge, were old ; long an exile, he
was somewhat of an alien in a changed England, and to
win hearts he neither knew how nor cared. Amidst the
jubilation of the harlots and the buffoons he was deprived
of his great office. Our mild method of getting rid of a
prime minister by a vote of want of confidence was still



I CHARLES II 27

unknown. Impeachment was the only mode. On pre-
tences, of which that of arbitrary imprisonments alone
was not hollow, Clarendon was impeached. By the evil, 1667
perhaps treacherous, advice of the king, he withdrew him-
self from trial and was banished for life. He had been
the restorer of an intolerant prelacy, and if the bishops
originated, he fathered, the code of persecution. But he
had been comparatively inclined to moderation and the
upholder of indemnity, as well as by his character and
manners a living rebuke to court vice and corruption.
He had refused a bribe from France which his royal
master advised him to accept. His friend Ormonde, who
had been governing Ireland honourably and as well as
evil conditions would permit, was presently ejected from 1669
office by the same faction. About this time his colleague,
the lord treasurer Southampton, perhaps the worthiest of
all the men of that time, died. With these three sur- 1667
vivors of a nobler generation, integrity and even decency
left the councils of the king. The spirit of the Resto-
ration broke loose and henceforth reigns.

Power passed by this intrigue into the hands of the 1667
Cabal, a ministry so called because the initial letters
of the names of its five members, Clifford, Arlington,
Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale, made up that word.
It was an embryo cabinet though without a regular
parliamentary basis, and to the cabinet the old con-
stitutional privy council is gradually giving way. The
privy council, consisting of fifty members, was too large
for business, and an inner council became a necessity,
especially for foreign affairs. Parliament had to be man-
aged, and it could not be managed through a large body
without union in itself. An inner and very confidential



28 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

council, moreover, was required for the special designs of
the king and his brother.

Revolutions, strewing their course with wrecked hopes
and broken oaths of allegiance, breed and bequeath politi-
cal infidels, who, at the same time, are restlessly ambitious,
of daring temper, and sagacious after their kind. Such
products of the French Revolution were Fouche, Talley-
rand, and the men of the Directory; and such a product
of the English Revolution was Ashley Cooper, presently
made Earl of Shaftesbury, the Achitophel of Dryden's
glorious satire. Shaftesbury was a born leader of opposi-
tion. At college he led the opposition of the freshmen to
the tyranny of the seniors, and of all the students to the
authorities when they reduced the strength of the beer.
At the outbreak of the Revolution he had joined the roy-
alist camp. Thence, receiving some disgust, he had passed
to that of the parliament, in which his zeal and ferocity
were distinguished. He sat in the republican, then in the
Cromwellian, Council of State; was a member of the Bare-
bones Parliament ; was probably one of those who urged
Cromwell to accept the crown ; then headed the opposi-
tion, first to Cromwell, and afterwards to his son. He
struggled to re-instate the Rump ; went over to Monck ;
took part in the Restoration ; flew to meet the king at
Canterbury ; won not only his forgiveness, but his favour,
and was taken into the privy council. Having solemnly
declared that if the king should be brought back not a
hair of anyone's head should be touched, he sat on the
commission for the trial of the regicides. His scepticism
and moral cynicism probably combined with his wit and
his charm of manner to recommend him to the friendship
of Charles, whom he treated with the utmost familiarity.



I CHARLES II 29

" Shaftesbury," said the king, " you are the greatest rogue
in my dominion." " Of a subject, your Majesty," replied
Shaftesbury, "I believe I am." A salient feature of
Shaftesbury's character was his restlessness. He was

A fiery soul, which, eating out its way,

Fretted the pigmy body to decay.

And o'er informed the tenement of clay.

Religious belief he had none. If he believed in anything
it was astrology, one of those superstitions which fascinate
in an eclipse of faith.

Buckingham was a brilliant, versatile, and witty rake,
who' touched Charles's character partly on the same side
as Shaftesbury,

And in the course of one revolving moon
Was poet, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.

He had been Charles's tutor in morals, and his cynical
companion and fellow-sufferer under Covenanting ser-
mons and zealotry in Scotland. He seduced the Countess
of Shrewsbury and killed the earl in a duel, the countess 1667
in the disguise of a page holding her lover's horse while
the duel was being fought. Lauderdale, with his un-
gainly figure, his shock of red hair, and his tongue too
large for his mouth, was a shrewd Scotch jobber also
of the cynicdl tribe. He had been a zealous Cove-
nanter, he had represented the Kirk in the treaty of
Uxbridge ; he was now its Holophernes, trampling it out
with dragoons and wild Highlanders, or torturing its
confessors with the boot and the thumbscrew. These
three men were the libertines and the free-thinkers of
the cabinet. Clifford was a thorough-going Roman Cath-
olic, violent anti over-bearing, but comparatively honest.



30 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

Arlington seems also to have been a Roman Catholic at
heart; he certainly died one; in politics he was an un-
scrupulous intriguer. In the two Roman Catholics who
shared the king's inmost designs the Cabal had a cabal
within itself.

Charles and James launched their measure of catholic
propagandism in the disguise of toleration, having first,
by a turn of the persecuting screw, prepared nonconform-
ists to hail the proffered relief. A royal Declaration of

1672 Indulgence was put forth suspending the penal laws. But
the brothers found, as did James when he tried it again,
that they had demanded the one thing which a royalist
parliament would not grant, and done the one thing which
would make a Cavalier disloyal. Considering how weak
the Roman Catholics were in England, to understand the
intense fear and hatred of them we must take in the whole
European situation, especially the menacing power of the
propagandist bigot on the throne of France, as well as
the indelible memories of Smithfield, the Armada, and
the Gunpowder Plot. The House of Commons met the
Declaration with a resolution denying the prerogative and

1673 affirming that the laws could be suspended only by Act
of Parliament. Wisely and nobly on this, as on a later
occasion, the nonconformists, ground down as they were
by the Conventicle Act and the Five Miles Act, re-
fused to embrace the Declaration of Indulgence, seeing
that it put the king above the law, and divining that
though general liberty of conscience might be the begin-
ning, Roman Catholic ascendancy would be the end. Only
the Quakers, as political quietists, regardless of everything
but their souls, were ready on this as on the later occasion
to accept the sinister boon, A glance at Scotland might



I CHARLES II 31

have told nonconformists what towards them were the real
intentions of the crown. After some sparring between
the king and the Commons, the Declaration was withdrawn,
and the prerogative of dispensation was renounced. But
the honeymoon of the Restoration was over, and an un-
easy wedlock of king and parliament ensued. Not con-
tent with its constitutional victory, parliament proceeded
to strike a fell blow against the Duke of York and the
Koman Catholic church by passing the Test Act, dis- 1673
qualifying for office, civil or military, anyone who had
not taken the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, received
the sacrament according to the usage of the church of
England, and renounced the doctrine of transubstantia-
tion. To this no subtlety of interpretation could reconcile
the conscience of a Roman Catholic. James resigned the 1673
office of high admiral, and Clifford left the government.
The protestant nonconformists seem to have acquiesced in
the Act ; rather than that popery should escape they
were willing to see the sword thrust through themselves.
With a Roman Catholic king in power unfettered by the
laws, the fate of the Huguenots would assuredly in the
end have been theirs.

Parliament might suspect, but it did not know, as we
do, that Charles had sold himself and his country to the
arch-enemy of protestantism and freedom. By the secret
Treaty of Dover he had engaged, on payment of a large 1670
sum of money to him by the king of France, to join Louis
in making war upon the Dutch, to furnish a contingent of
English troops for the invasion of Holland, and to assist *
Louis in his designs upon the inheritance of the kingdom
of Spain. He had further engaged, in consideration of an
annual pension, at the first convenient opportunity, to



32 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

declare himself a Roman Catholic, and in case of resistance
on the part of the English people had covenanted for the
assistance of French troops, which were to be conveyed in
his own vessels for the invasion of England. The first
part of the treaty had been made known to the whole
Cabal ; the second part to the Roman Catholic section only.
Much apparently overstrained mistrust of the court, much
apparently misplaced fear and hatred of popery, must be
forgiven to a people who were thus betrayed. To bind
Charles by his lusts as well as by his interests, a French

1670 harlot, Madame De Keroualle, was sent by Louis into
Charles's harem.

Already England had been again drawn into war with
the Dutch by commercial rivalry, collisions of trading
companies in the far east, and the preposterous claim of
England for the supremacy of her flag in the narrow seas,
combined with the hatred of the court for the Dutch
republicans and with the insidious machinations of the
French king. A series of battles, fought with the same
stubborn valour on both sides, had once more wasted
in mutual destruction the forces of the two free and
protestant nations, while the common enemy looked on
with joy. Victories had been won by England under
Montague, the old admiral of the Commonwealth,
Monck, and Prince Rupert, who, according to the usage
of the times, commanded by sea as well as by land. But
the war was mismanaged, the admiralty like everything
else was corrupt, and England saw a Dutch admiral
* sweep the Channel, come up the Thames, bombard Sheer-

1667 ness, and burn men-of-war in the Medway. It was be-
lieved that on that day of national disgrace the king
supped with the ladies of the harem and the party amused



1 CHARLES II 33

themselves by chasing a moth about the room. The
thoughts of the people, Pepys tells us, turned to Crom-
well.

For a moment the English government was reclaimed
from its evil way and drawn to the right course by
Temple, a patriotic diplomatist, who induced it to enter
into what was called the Triple Alliance, a league of 1668
England and Holland with Sweden, which from the vic-
tories of Gustavus and his military heirs retained a high
position in Europe, for the purpose of checking French
aggrandizement. That this was the personal work of
Temple, feeling himself seconded by national opinion, in
concert with the Dutch statesman and patriot De Witt,
soon appeared by the coldness with which its author
was treated by his own government. Once more, in
pursuance of the Treaty of Dover, the waters were
dyed with protestant blood and strewn with the wreck 1672
of two navies which ought to have been united in defence
of the same imperilled cause ; while six thousand soldiers,
led by the king's bastard son, the young Duke of
Monmouth, under the French standard invaded Holland, 1672
which despair saved from conquest by cutting the dykes.
English valour and seamanship were again suicidally dis-
played. They were displayed in spite of maladministra-
tion, corruption, abuse of patronage, sale of appointments,
which reigned in the navy as in every other department
of the state. War was commenced on the part of Eng- 1672
land, before the declaration, by a piratical attack on the
Dutch Smyrna fleet. To provide funds the government,
closing the exchequer and suspending payment, laid its
hands upon the money of its creditors to the amount of i672
one million three hundred thousand pounds. Ruin of

VOL. II вАФ 3



34 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

goldsmiths who acted as bankers, distress of depositors
and wreck of public credit ensued.

Rottenness was everywhere. An Irish desperado named
Blood, who had been outlawed for an attempt to surprise
the castle at Dublin, set, with a gang of banditti, upon

1670 the Duke of Ormonde in the streets of London, and nearly
succeeded in hanging him. The same brigand attempted

1671 to carry off the regalia from the Tower, after wounding
the keeper, but was overtaken and secured. Charles
attended the examination of the prisoner, forgave his
crime, obtained for him a pardon from Ormonde, kept him
as a gentleman at court, and gave him an estate of five
hundred pounds a year in Ireland to compensate him for
one he had forfeited when outlawed there. Vice reigned
at Whitehall and, for an allusion to it in parliament, Sir
John Coventry's nose was slit by the bravoes of the
court.

Shaftesbury, being an enemy to Catholicism, if he was
not a believer in protestantism, and seeing that the wind
now sat in the protestant quarter, had opposed the
ecclesiastical policy of the royal brothers, supported the
Test Act, and advised the banishment of the Duke of
York. His attitude, with the proscription of Clifford

1673 by the Test Act, broke up the Cabal, and, with the levity
of intriguers of that day, of whom he Avas the paragon, he
at once passed into violent opposition.

1674 To the Cabal succeeded the ministry of Danby, whose
general policy seems to have been much the same as that
of Clarendon, a strong monarchy supported by a strong
state church. He appealed to the old cavalier spirit,
and restored the statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross.
He was unscrupulous enough to be a party to his



I CHAKLES II 36

master's acceptance of another bribe from the French 1676
king. Yet he had an English heart, and was op-
posed to the aggrandizement of France. He made
peace with Holland, employing Temple as his plenipo- 1674
tentiary for that purpose. He did more. He married
Mary, daughter of the Duke of York, and in the sue- 1677
cession to the crown, to William, the young Prince of
Orange, rendering thereby, as it turned out, an immense
service to the country. The king might approve the
match as a sop to protestantism ; the duke, hated and
in jeopardy as he was, might fear to oppose it. The
Orange connection, however, was the policy of the Stuarts
in opposition to the connection with the republican or
Louvestein party dominant at Amsterdam, which was
the policy of Cromwell. In his combination of royalism
and anglicanism with high protestantism and nationality,
Danby foreshadows the Tory of a much later day.
He was a master of parliamentary management, and,
what was the same thing in that posture of affairs, of
parliamentary corruption. The parliament having sat
for sixteen years without re-election, members had lost
their sense of responsibility to their constituents; they
were tainted by the general depravity of the times, and
were commonly open to bribery. Danby may claim the
honour of having first organized the system. Andrew
Marvell has the credit of having, though poor, resisted
all temptation. There is a story of a visit paid him by
Danby, who found him at his desk up two pairs of stairs
in a little court in the Strand, and offered him preferment
in the king's service, but in vain. One version of the
story makes Marvell, in Danby's presence, call for his
servant, and say to him, '' What had I for dinner yes-



36 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

terday ? " "A shoulder of mutton. " " And what have
you for me to-day?'* "The remainder hashed." Then
IMarvell turns to Danby and adds, "To-morrow I shall
have the sweet blade-bone broiled." Danby, hopeless of
corrupting virtue so impracticable, retires. Marvell was
a relic of the Commonwealth and the author of the mag-
nificent Ode on its chief.

An opposition called the country party had been formed
with Shaftesbury, Holies, and Essex for leaders in the
Lords, with Russell, Algernon Sidney, Hampden, Capel,
and Coventry for leaders in the Commons, and animated
by the reviving spirit of the Commonwealth. This oppo-
sition attacked the government at all points, especially
wherever it could play on the public feeling against

1678 popery. It carried an Act disabling for the first time
catholic peers for sitting in the House of Lords, from
the operation of which the Duke of York was exempted

1675 only by a majority of two. It assailed Buckingham ; it

*^^ assailed Lauderdale, who was suspected of forming an
army for sinister purposes in Scotland as Strafford had
done in Ireland. It overthrew Danby 's government and
impeached him for privity as a minister to the corrupt
intrigue of the court with France, though while privy
to the intrigue he had been strongly opposed to French
connection, had checked its influence by the Orange
marriage, and was, in fact, betrayed for his patriotism
by the French. It protested against financial extrava-
gance, against parliamentary corruption, against standing
armies, against Monmouth's auxiliary force. It demanded

1677 a dissolution of the parliament, which, having now sat
for seventeen years, could no longer, it contended, be
said truly to represent the nation. It did not fail to



1 CHARLES 11 37

ply the usual arts and wield the usual weapons of faction,
embarrassing as much as it could the administration which
it denounced, and pandering to passion by reckless impu-
tation. It clamoured for war with France yet withheld
the requisite means. Some of its members were even
misguided enough to intrigue with the French king, and,
it appears, actually to accept money from Barillon, the
ambassador of Louis, and the agent of his master's vil-*
lainous game. The French king hated republicans and
protestants, but his paramount object was to keep Eng-
land weak and subservient. For this he was ready to
intrigue and bribe all round. It is charitable to presume
that if money was taken by opposition leaders it was
for the purposes of their party, not for their own. But
public morality on this subject was very lax.

In dealing with the question of war with France the
parliamentary leaders were distracted between their fear
of the French king's ambition and their fear of a standing
army such as that by which his despotism was supported.
The king and the Duke of York, on the other hand,
looking to the same example, were always for keeping a
standing army on foot. The duke's design in this policy
was unveiled when he came to reign.

In the House of Lords, where the government was still
sure of a majority, Danby had brought in a Bill imposing
upon all members of parliament, privy councillors, magis-
trates, and others holding office under the crown, a test oath
of non-resistance. The Bill required all who came under
it not only to declare that it was unlawful under any
pretence whatever to take up arms against the king, and
that it was traitorous to take up arms, as the Roundheads
had professed to do, by his authority against his person,



38 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

but to swear that they would not endeavour the altera-
tion of the government either in church or state. The
Bill was evidently a blow aimed by Danby at the reviv-
ing spirit of republicanism in the Commons ; while it
appealed to the national fear of a renewal of the civil
war. A fierce debate ensued. Charles, in accordance,
as he said, with ancient custom, came in person to
the House of Lords, hung about the fireplace, and in his
winning way talked members into voting for the Bill.
By the Lords the Bill was passed, though with its strin-
gency reduced ; and with the aid of Danby's arts and
appliances it might have made its way through the Com-

1675 mons had not a quarrel between the two Houses brought
on a prorogation. It appeared, however, that the doc-
trine of non-resistance had lost ground.

The period of storm and confusion was not unfruitful



Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United kingdom; a political history → online text (page 49 of 84)