Sivut kuvina


human industry had covered it were was necessary to convoke the Parliaburied under the ocean, all was not ment. lost. The Hollanders might survive In the spring of 1673, therefore, the Holland. Liberty and pure religion, Houses reassembled after a me

Meeting of driven by tyrants and bigots from recess of near two years. the Para Europe, might take refuge in the Clifford, now a peer and Lord "iamont. farthest isles of Asia. The shipping Treasurer, and Ashley, now Earl of in the ports of the republic would suf-Shaftesbury and Lord Chancellor, were fice to carry two hundred thousand the persons on whom the King princiemigrants to the Indian Archipelago. I pally relied as Parliamentary managers. There the Dutch commonwealth might The Country Party instantly began to commence a new and more glorious attack the policy of the Cabal. The existence, and might rear, under the attack was made, not in the way of Southern Cross, amidst the sugar canes storm, but by slow and scientific apand nutmeg trees, the Exchange of a proaches. The Commons at first held wealthier Amsterdam, and the schools out hopes that they would give support of a more learned Leyden. The na- to the King's foreign policy, but intional spirit swelled and rose high. sisted that he should purchase that The terms offered by the allies were support by abandoning his whole system firmly rejected. The dykes were opened. of domestic policy. Their chief object The whole country was turned into one was to obtain the revocation of the great lake, from which the cities, with Declaration of Indulgence. Of De their ramparts and steeples, rose like all the many unpopular steps tion of In. islands. The invaders were forced to taken by the Government the du

dulgence. bave themselves from destruction by a most unpopular was the publishing of precipitate retreat. Lewis, who, though this Declaration. The most opposite he sometimes thought it necessary to sentiments had been shocked by an act appear at the head of his troops, greatly so liberal, done in a manner so despotic. preferred a palace to a camp, had All the enemies of religious freedom, already returned to enjoy the adulation and all the friends of civil freedom, of poets and the smiles of ladies in the found themselves on the same side ; newly planted alleys of Versailles. and these two classes made up nineteen

And now the tide turned fast. The twentieths of the nation. The zealous event of the maritime war had been Churchman exclaimed against the doubtful: by land the United Provinces favour which had been shown both to had obtained a respite; and a respite, the Papist and to the Puritan. The though short, was of infinite import- Puritan, though he might rejoice in ance. Alarmed by the vast designs of the suspension of the persecution by Lewis, both the branches of the great which he had been harassed, felt little House of Austria sprang to arms. gratitude for a toleration which he was Spain and Holland, divided by the to share with Antichrist. And all memory of ancient wrongs and humili- Englishmen who valued liberty and ations, were reconciled by the nearness law, saw with uneasiness the deep inof the common danger. From every road which the prerogative had made part of Germany troops poured towards into the province of the legislature. the Rhine. The English government. It must in candour be admitted that had already expended all the funds the constitutional question was then which had been obtained by pillaging not quite free from obscurity. Our the public creditor. No loan could be ancient Kings had undoubtedly claimed expected from the City. An attempt to and exercised the right of suspending raise taxes by the royal authority would the operation of penal laws. The have at once produced a rebellion; and tribunals had recognised that right. Lewis, who had now to maintain a Parliaments had suffered it to pass uncontest against half Europe, was in no challenged. That some such right was condition to furnish the ineans of inherent in the crown, few eren of the coercing the people of England. It Country Party ventured, in the face of


precedent and authority, to deny. Yet stantly subjected to a severe scrutiny. it was clear that, if this prerogative Men did not, indeed, at first, venture to were without limit, the English govern- propounce it altogether unconstitutional. ment could scarcely be distinguished But they began to perceive that it was from a pure despotism. That there at direct variance with the spirit of the was a limit was fully admitted by the constitution, and would, if left unKing and his ministers. Whether the checked, turn the English government Declaration of Indulgence lay within from a limited into an absolute moor without the limit was the question; narchy. and neither party could succeed in Under the influence of such apprehentracing any line which would bear sions, the Commons denied the

It is canexamination. Some opponents of the King's right to dispense, not celled, government complained that the De- indeed with all penal statutes, rest Act claration suspended not less than forty but with penal statutes in mat- pa statutes. But why not forty as well as ters ecclesiastical, and gave him plainly one? There was an orator who gave to understand that, unless he renounced it as his opinion that the King might that right they would grant no supply constitutionally dispense with bad laws, for the Dutch war. He, for a moment, but not with good laws. The absurdity showed some inclination to put everyof such a distinction it is needless to thing to bazard: but he was strongly expose. The doctrine which seems to advised by Lewis to submit to neceshave been generally received in the sity, and to wait for better times, when House of Commons was, that the dis- the French armies, now employed in pensing power was confined to secular an arduous struggle on the Continent, inatters, and did not extend to laws might be available for the purpose of enacted for the security of the estab- suppressing discontent in England. In lished religion. Yet, as the King was the Cabal itself the signs of disunion supreme head of the Church, it should and treachery began to appear. Shaftesseem that, if he possessed the dispens- bury, with his proverbial sagacity, saw ing power at all, he might well possess that a violent reaction was at hand, and that power where the Church was con- | that all things were tending towards a cerned. When the courtiers on the crisis resembling that of 1640. He was other side attempted to point out the determined that such a crisis should bounds of this prerogative, they were not find him in the situation of Strafnot more successful than the opposition ford. He therefore turned suddenly had been.

round, and acknowledged, in the House The truth is that the dispensing of Lords, that the Declaration was ilpower was a great anomaly in politics. legal. The King, thus deserted by his It was utterly inconsistent in theory ally and by his Chancellor, yielded, with the principles of mixed govern- cancelled the Declaration, and solemnly ment: but it had grown up in times promised that it should never be drawn when people troubled themselves little into precedent, about theories.* It had not been very Even this concession was insufficient. grossly abused in practice. It had The Commons, not content with having therefore been tolerated, and had forced their sovereign to annul the Ingradually acquired a kind of prescrip-dulgence, next extorted his unwilling tion. At length it was employed, after assent to a celebrated law, which cona long interval, in an enlightened age, tinued in force down to the reign of and at an important conjuncture, to an George the Fourth. This law, known extent never before known, and for a as the Test Act, provided that all perpurpose generally abhorred. It was in- sons holding any office, civil or military,

should take the oath of supremacy, The most sensible thing said in the House of Commons, on this subject, came from Sir | Transubstantiation, and should publicly William Coventry "Our ancestors never did draw a line to circumscribe prerogative and

receive the sacrament according to the liberty.”

rites of the Church of England. The


preamble expressed hostility only to the who, during the ascendency of the Cabal, Papists : but the enacting clauses were had lived in seclusion among his books searcely more unfavourable to the Pa- and flower beds, was called forth from pists than to the rigid Puritans. The his hermitage. By his instrumentality Puritans, however, terrified at the evi- a separate peace was concluded Peace dent leaning of the court towards Popery, with the United Provinces ; with the and encouraged by some churchmen to and he again became ambas- Provinces hope that, as soon as the Roman Ca- sador at the Hague, where his presence tholics should have been effectually was regarded as a sure pledge for the disarmed, relief would be extended to sincerity of his court. Protestant Nonconformists, made little The chief direction of affairs was opposition; nor could the King, who now entrusted to Sir Thomas was in extreme want of money, venture Osborne, a Yorkshire baronet, tration of to withhold his sanction. The Act was who had, in the House of Com- Danby. passed; and the Duke of York was mons, shown eminent talents for busi consequently under the necessity of re- ness and debate. Osborne became Lord signing the great place of Lord High Treasurer, and was soon created Earl Admiral.

of Danby. He was not a man whose Hitherto the Commons had not de- character, if tried by any high standard The Cabal clared against the Dutch war. of morality, would appear to merit apdissolved. But, when the King had, in probation. He was greedy of wealth return for money cautiously doled out, and honours, corrupt himself, and a relinquished his whole plan of domestic corrupter of others. The Cabal had policy, they fell impetuously on his bequeathed to him the art of bribing foreign policy. They requested him to Parliaments, an art still rude, and givdismiss Buckingham and Lauderdale | ing little promise of the rare perfection from his councils for ever, and appointed to which it was brought in the followa committee to consider the propriety ing century. He improved greatly on of impeaching Arlington. In a short the plan of the first inventors. They time the Cabal was no more. Clifford, had merely purchased orators : but who, alone of the five, had any claim to every man who had a vote, might sell be regarded as an honest man, refused himself to Danby. Yet the new ministo take the new test, laid down his white ter must not be confounded with the staff, and retired to his country seat. negotiators of Dover. He was not withArlington quitted the post of Secretary out the feelings of an Englishman and of State for a quiet and dignified em- a Protestant; nor did he, in his soliciployment in the Royal household. Shaf- tude for his own interests, ever wholly tesbury and Buckingham made their forget the interests of his country and peace with the opposition, and appeared of his religion. He was desirous, inat the head of the stormy democracy deed, to exalt the prerogative: but the of the city. Lauderdale, however, still means by which he proposed to exalt continued to be minister for Scotch af. it were widely different from those fairs, with which the English Parlia- which had been contemplated by Arment could not interfere.

lington and Clifford. The thought of And now the Commons urged the establishing arbitrary power, by calling King to make peace with Holland, and in the aid of foreign arms, and by expressly declared that no more sup- reducing the kingdom to the rank of a plies should be granted for the war, dependent principality, never entered unless it should appear that the enemy into his mind. His plan was to rally obstinately refused to consent to rea- round the monarchy tħose classes which sonable terms. Charles found it neces- had been the firm allies of the monsary to postpone to a more convenient archy during the troubles of the preBeason all thought of executing the ceding generation, and which had been treaty of Dover, and to cajole the na- disgusted by the recent crimes and tion by pretending to return to the errors of the court. With the help of policy of the Triple Alliance. Temple, the old Cavalier interest, of the nobles,

of the country gentlemen, of the clergy, of the Triple Alliance, at the head of and of the Universities, it might, he the department which directed foreign conceived, be possible to make Charles, affairs. But the power of the prime not indeed an absolute sovereign, but minister was limited. In his most cona sovereign scarcely less powerful than fidential letters he complained that the Elizabeth had been.

infatuation of his master prevented Prompted by these feelings, Danby England from taking her proper place formed the design of securing to the among European nations. Charles was Cavalier party the exclusive possession insatiably greedy of French gold: he of all political power, both executive had by no means relinquished the hope and legislative. In the year 1675, that he might, at some future day, be accordingly, a bill was offered to the able to establish absolute monarchy by Lords which provided that no person the help of the French arms; and for should hold any office, or should sit in both reasons he wished to maintain a either House of Parliament, without good understanding with the Court of first declaring on oath that he con- Versailles. sidered resistance to the kingly power Thus the sovereign leaned towards as in all cases criminal, and that he one system of foreign politics, and the would never endeavour to alter the minister towards a system diametrically government either in Church or State. opposite. Neither the sovereign nor the During several weeks the debates, divi- minister, indeed, was of a temper to pursions, and protests caused by this pro- sue any object with undeviating conposition kept the country in a state stancy. Each occasionally yielded to of excitement. The opposition in the the importunity of the other; and their House of Lords, headed by two mem- jarring inclinations and mutual concesbers of the Cabal who were desirous to sions gave to the whole administration a make their peace with the nation, Buck- strangely capricious character. Charles ingham and Shaftesbury, was beyond sometimes, from levity and indolence, all precedent vehement and pertina- suffered Danby to take steps which cious, and at length proved successful. Lewis resented as mortal injuries. The bill was not indeed rejected, but Danby, on the other hand, rather than was retarded, mutilated, and at length relinquish his great place, sometimes suffered to drop.

stooped to compliances which caused So arbitrary and so exclusive was him bitter pain and shame. The King Danby's scheme of domestic policy. was brought to consent to a marriage His opinions touching foreign policy between the Lady Mary, eldest daughdid him more honour. They were in ter and presumptive heiress of the Duke truth directly opposed to those of the of York, and William of Orange, the Cabal, and differed little from those of deadly enemy of France, and the herethe Country Party. He bitterly la- ditary champion of the Reformation. mented the degraded situation to which Nay, the brave Earl of Ossory, son of England was reduced, and declared, Ormond, was sent to assist the Dutch with more energy than politeness, that with some British troops, who, on the his dearest wish was to cudgel the most bloody day of the whole war, sigFrench into a proper respect for her. nally vindicated the national reputation So little did he disguise his feelings for stubborn courage. The Treasurer, that, at a great banquet where the most on the other hand, was induced, not illustrious dignitaries of the State and only to connive at some scandalous peof the Church were assembled, he not cuniary transactions which took place very decorously filled his glass to the between his master and the court of confusion of all who were against a war Versailles, but to become, unwillingly with France. He would indeed most indeed and ungraciously, an agent in gladly have seen his country united those transactions. with the powers which were then com- Meanwhile, the Country Party was bined against Lewis, and was for that driven by two strong feelings in two end bent on placing Temple, the author opposite directions. The popular

leaders were afraid of the greatness of meant only to make war on France, Embar- Lewis, who was not only mak- they would have been eager to support

tekniken ing head against the whole him. Could Lewis have been certain of the strength of the continental that the new levies were intended only Country Party.' alliance, but was even gaining to make war on the constitution of ground. Yet they were afraid to entrust England, he would have made no attheir own King with the means of curb- tempt to stop them. But the unsteaing France, lest those means should be diness and faithlessness of Charles were ased to destroy the liberties of England. such that the French government and The conflict between these apprehen- the English opposition, agreeing in sions, both of which were perfectly nothing else, agreed in disbelieving his legitimate, made the policy of the Op- protestations, and were equally desirous position seem as eccentric and fickle to keep him poor and without an army. as that of the Court. The Commons Communications were opened between called for a war with France, till the Barillon, the Ambassador of Lewis, and King, pressed by Danby to comply with those English politicians who had their wish, seemed disposed to yield, always professed, and who indeed sinand began to raise an army. But, as cerely felt, the greatest dread and soon as they saw that the recruiting dislike of the French ascendency. The had commenced, their dread of Lewis most upright member of the Country gave place to a nearer dread. They Party, William Lord Russell, son of the began to fear that the new levies might Earl of Bedford, did not scruple to be employed on a service in which concert with a foreign mission schemes Charles took much more interest than for embarrassing his own sovereign. in the defence of Flanders. They there. This was the whole extent of Russell's fore refused supplies, and clamoured offence. His principles and his fortune for disbandingas loudly as they alike raised him above all temptations had just before clamoured for arming. of a sordid kind: but there is too much Those historians who have severely reason to believe that some of his assoreprehended this inconsistency do not ciates were less scrupulous. It would appear to have made sufficient allow- be unjust to impute to them the extreme ance for the embarrassing situation of wickedness of taking bribes to injure subjects who have reason to believe their country. On the contrary, they that their prince is conspiring with a meant to serve her: but it is impossible foreign and hostile power against their to deny that they were mean and inliberties. To refuse him military re- delicate enough to let a foreign prince sources is to leave the state defenceless. pay them for serving her. Among those Yet to give him military resources may who cannot be acquitted of this degradbe only to arm him against the state. (ing charge was one man who is popuIn such circumstances vacillation can- larly considered as the personification not be considered as a proof of dis- of public spirit, and who, in spite of honesty or even of weakness.

some great moral and intellectual faults, These jealousies were studiously has a just claim to be called a hero, a

fomented by the French King. philosopher, and a patriot. It is imposof that. He had long kept England sible to see without pain such a name the French passive by promising to support in the list of the pensioners of France. era bawy. the throne against the Parlia- Yet it is some consolation to reflect ment. He now, alarmed at finding that, in our time, a public man would that the patriotic counsels of Danby be thought lost to all sense of duty and seemed likely to prevail in the closet, of shame, who should not spurn from began to inflame the Parliament against him a temptation which conquered the the throne. Between Lewis and the virtue and the pride of Algernon Country Party there was one thing, and Sidney one only, in common, profound distrust The effect of these intrigues was of Charles. Could the Country Party that England, though she occasionally have been certain that their sovereign took a menacing attitude, remained


« EdellinenJatka »