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to bear a part in the conflicts of our executive administration. With this domestic factions. He had reached his view he determined to interpose befiftieth year without having sate in the tween the sovereign and the Parliament English Parliament; and his official a body which might break the shock experience had been almost entirely of their collision. There was a body, acquired at foreign courts. He was ancient, highly honourable, and recogjustly esteemed one of the first diplo- nised by the law, which, he thought, matists in Europe: but the talents and might be so remodelled as to serve this accomplishments of a diplomatist are purpose. He determined to give to widely different from those which the Privy Council a new character and qualify a politician to lead the House office in the government. The number of of Commons in agitated times. Councillors he fixed at thirty. Fifteen
The scheme which he proposed of them were to be the chief minisshowed considerable ingenuity. Though ters of state, of law, and of religion. not a profound philosopher, he had The other fifteen were to be unplaced thought more than most busy men of noblemen and gentlemen of ample the world on the general principles of fortune and high character. There government; and his mind had been was to be no interior cabinet. All the enlarged by historical studies and thirty were to be entrusted with every foreign travel. He seems to have political secret, and summoned to discerned more clearly than most of every meeting ; and the King was to his contemporaries one cause of the declare that he would, on every occadifficulties by which the government sion, be guided by their advice. was beset. The character of the English Temple seems to have thought that, polity was gradually changing. The by this contrivance, he could at once Parliament was slowly, but constantly, secure the nation against the tyranny of gaining ground on the prerogative. the Crown, and the Crown against the The line between the legislative and encroachments of the Parliament. It executive powers was in theory as was, on one hand, highly improbable strongly marked as ever, but in practice that schemes such as had been formed was daily becoming fainter and fainter. by the Cabal would be even propounded The theory of the constitution was that for discussion in an assembly consisting the King might name his own minis- of thirty eminent men, fifteen of whom ters. But the House of Commons had were bound by no tie of interest to the driven Clarendon, the Cabal, and Danby court. On the other hand, it might be successively from the direction of affairs. hoped that the Commons, content with The theory of the constitution was that the guarantee against misgovernment the King alone had the power of making which such a Privy Council furnished, peace and war. But the House of would confine themselves more than Commons had forced him to make they had of late done to their strictly peace with Holland, and had all but legislative functions, and would no forced him to make war with France. longer think it necessary to pry into The theory of the constitution was that every part of the executive administrathe King was the sole judge of the tion. cases in which it might be proper to This plan, though in some respects pardon offenders. Yet he was so much not unworthy of the abilities of its auin dread of the House of Commons thor, was in principle vicious. The new that, at that moment, he could not board was half a cabinet and half a venture to rescue from the gallows men Parliament, and, like almost every other whom he well knew to be the innocent contrivance, whether mechanical or victims of perjury;,
political, which is meant to serve two Temple, it should seem, was desirous purposes altogether different, failed of to secure to the legislature its un- accomplishing either. It was too large doubted constitutional powers, and yet and too divided to be a good administo prevent it, if possible, from encroach- trative body. It was too closely coning further on the province of the nected with the Crown to be a good
checking body. It contained just | Lords. His conversation overflowed enough of popular ingredients to with thought, fancy, and wit. His make it a bad council of state, unfit political tracts well deserve to be for the keeping of secrets, for the con- studied for their literary merit, and ducting of delicate negotiations, and fully entitle him to a place among for the administration of war. Yet English classics. To the weight dewere these popular ingredients by rived from talents so great and various no means sufficient to secure the nation he united all the influence which against misgovernment. The plan, belongs to rank and ample possessions. therefore, even if it had been fairly Yet he was less successful in politics tried, could scarcely have succeeded; than many who enjoyed smaller adand it was not fairly tried. The King vantages. Indeed, those intellectual was fickle and perfidious: the Parliament peculiarities which make his writings was excited and unreasonable; and the valuable frequently impeded him in the materials out of which the new Council contests of active life. For he always was made, though perhaps the best saw passing events, not in the point of which that age afforded, were still bad. view in which they commonly appear
The commencement of the new to one who bears a part in them, but system was, however, hailed with in the point of view in which, after general delight; for the people were in the lapse of many years, they appear a temper to think any change an im- to the philosophic historian. With provement. They were also pleased such a turn of mind, he could not long by some of the new nominations. continue to act cordially with any body Shaftesbury, now their favourite, was of men. All the prejudices, all the appointed Lord President. Russell exaggerations, of both the great parties and some other distinguished members in the state moved his scorn. He of the Country Party were sworn of despised the mean arts and unreasonthe Council. But a few days later all able clamours of demagogues. He was again in confusion. The incon- despised still more the doctrines of veniences of having so numerous a divine right and passive obedience. cabinet were such that Temple himself He sneered impartially at the bigotry consented to infringe one of the funda- of the Churchman and at the bigotry mental rules which he had laid down, of the Puritan. He was equally unable and to become one of a small knot to comprehend how any man should which really directed everything. With object to Saints' days and surplices, him were joined three other ministers, and how any man should persecute Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, George any other man for objecting to them. Savile, Viscount Halifax, and Robert In temper he was what, in our time, is Spencer, Earl of Sunderland.
called a Conservative: in theory he Of the Earl of Essex, then First was a Republican. Even when his Commissioner of the Treasury, it is dread of anarchy and his disdain for sufficient to say that he was a man of vulgar delusions led him to side for a solid, though not brilliant parts, and time with the defenders of arbitrary of grave and melancholy character, that power, his intellect was always with he had been connected with the Country Locke and Milton. Indeed, his jests Party, and that he was at this time upon hereditary monarchy were somehonestly desirous to effect, on terms times such as would have better become beneficial to the state, a reconciliation a member of the Calf's Head Club than between that party and the throne. a Privy Councillor of the Stuarts. In
Among the statesmen of those times religion he was so far from being a Character Halifax was, in genius, the zealot that he was called by the unof Halifax. first. His intellect was fertile, charitable an atheist: but this imputasubtle, and capacious. His polished, tion he vehemently repelled; and in luminous, and animated eloquence, set truth, though he sometimes gavescandal off by the silver tones of his voice, by the way in which he exerted his was the delight of the House of rare powers both of reasoning and of ridicule on serious subjects, he seems | never wandered far beyond the frontier to have been by no means unsusceptible of either. The party to which he at of religious impressions.
| any moment belonged was the party He was the chief of those politicians which, at that moment, he liked least, whom the two great parties contemptu- because it was the party of which at ously called Trimmers. Instead of that moment he had the nearest view. quarrelling with this nickname, he He was therefore always severe upon assumed it as a title of honour, and his violent associates, and was always vindicated, with great vivacity, the in friendly relations with his moderate dignity of the appellation. Every opponents. Every faction in the day thing good, he said, trims between of its insolent and vindictive triumph extremes. The temperate zone trims incurred his censure; and every faction, between the climate in which men are when vanquished and persecuted, found roasted and the climate in which they in him a protector. To his lasting are frozen. The English Church trims honour it must be mentioned that he between the Anabaptist madness and attempted to save those victims whose the Papist lethargy. The English fate has left the deepest stain both on constitution trims between Turkish the Whig and on the Tory name. despotism and Polish anarchy. Virtue He had greatly distinguished himself is nothing but a just temper between in opposition, and had thus drawn on propensities any one of which, if himself the royal displeasure, which indulged to excess, becomes vice. Nay, was indeed so strong that he was not the perfection of the Supreme Being admitted into the Council of Thirty himself consists in the exact equili- without much difficulty and long alterbrium of attributes, none of which cation. As soon, however, as he had could preponderate without disturbing obtained a footing at court, the charms the whole moral and physical order of of his manner and of his conversation the world. Thus Halifax was a Trim- made him a favourite. He was seri. mer on principle. He was also a ously alarmed by the violence of the Trimmer by the constitution both of public discontent. He thought that his head and of his heart. His under- liberty was for the present safe, and standing was keen, sceptical, inexhausti- that order and legitimate authority bly fertile in distinctions and objec-were in danger. He therefore, as was tions; his taste refined, his sense of the his fashion, joined himself to the ludicrous exquisite; his temper placid weaker side. Perhaps his .conversion and forgiving, but fastidious, and by no was not wholly disinterested. For means prone either to malevolence or to study and reflection, though they had enthusiastic admiration. Such a man emancipated him from many vulgar could not long be constant to any band prejudices, had left him a slave to of political allies. He must not, however, vulgar desires. Money he did not be confounded with the vulgar crowd of want; and there is no evidence that he renegades. For though, like them, he ever obtained it by any means which, passed from side to side, his transition in that age, even severe censors conwas always in the direction opposite to sidered as dishonourable; but rank theirs. He had nothing in common and power had strong attractions for with those who fly from extreme to him. He pretended, indeed, that he extreme, and who regard the party considered titles and great offices as which they have deserted with an baits which could allure none but fools, animosity far exceeding that of consis- that he hated business, pomp, and patent enemies. His place was on the geantry, and that his dearest wish was debatable ground between the hostile to escape from the bustle and glitter of divisions of the community, and he Whitehall to the quiet woods which
surrounded his ancient mansion in • Halifax was undoubtedly the real author Nottinghamshire: but his conduct was of the Character of a Trimmer, which, for a not a little at variance with his protime, went under the name of his kinsman, Sir William Coventry.
fessions. In truth he wished to com
mand the respect at once of courtiers | masses, and of foreseeing the approach and of philosophers, to be admired for of great revolutions. He was adroit attaining high dignities, and to be at in intrigue; and it was difficult even the same time admired for despising for shrewd and experienced men who them.
had been amply forewarned of his Sunderland was Secretary of State. perfidy to withstand the fascination of Character. In this man the political im- his manner, and to refuse credit to his of Sunder- morality of his age was personi- professions of attachment. But he was
fied in the most lively manner. so intent on observing and courting Nature had given him a keen under- particular persons, that he often forgot standing, a restless and mischievous to study the temper of the nation. temper, a cold heart, and an abject He therefore miscalculated grossly spirit. His mind had undergone a with respect to some of the most motraining by which all his vices had mentous events of his time. More been nursed up to the rankest maturity. than one important movement and At his entrance into public life, he had rebound of the public mind took him passed several years in diplomatic posts by surprise; and the world, unable to abroad, and had been, during some understand how so clever a man could time, minister in France. Every calling be blind to what was clearly discerned has its peculiar temptations. There is by the politicians of the coffee houses, no injustice in saying that diplomatists, sometimes attributed to deep design as a class, have always been more what were in truth mere blunders. distinguished by their address, by the It was only in private conference that art with which they win the confidence his eminent abilities displayed themof those with whom they have to deal, selves. In the royal closet, or in a very and by the ease with which they catch small circle, he exercised great influthe tone of every society into which ence. But at the Council board he was they are admitted, than by generous taciturn; and in the House of Lords enthusiasm or austere rectitude; and he never opened his lips. the relations between Charles and The four confidential advisers of the Lewis were such that no English noble-crown soon found that their position man could long reside in France as was embarrassing and invidious. The envoy, and retain any patriotic or other members of the Council murhonourable sentiment. Sunderland mured at a distinction inconsistent with came forth from the bad school in the King's promises; and some of them, which he had been brought up, cunning, with Shaftesbury at their head, again supple, shameless, free from all pre- betook themselves to strenuous opposijudices, and destitute of all principles. tion in Parliament. The agitation, He was, by hereditary connection, a which had been suspended by the late Cavalier: but with the Čavaliers he had changes, speedily became more violent nothing in common. They were than ever. It was in vain that Charles zealous for monarchy, and condemned offered to grant to the Commons any in theory all resistance. Yet they had security for the Protestant religion sturdy English hearts which would which they could devise, provided only never have endured real despotism. that they would not touch the order of He, on the contrary, had a languid succession. They would hear of no speculative liking for republican insti- compromise. They would have the tutions, which was compatible with Exclusion Bill, and nothing but the perfect' readiness to be in practice the Exclusion Bill. The King, therefore, most servile instrument of arbitrary a few weeks after he had publicly propower. Like many other accomplished mised to take no step without the adflatterers and negotiators, he was far vice of his new Council, went down to more skilful in the art of reading the the House of Lords without mentioncharacters and practising on the weak-ing his intention in Council, and pronesses of individuals, than in the art rogued the Parliament. of discerning the feelings of great | The day of that prorogation, the
twenty-sixth of May, 1679, is a great Charles, while a wanderer on the Proroga. era in our history. For on that Continent, had fallen in at the tonline the day the Habeas Corpus Act re- Hague with Lucy Walters, a Of Monaty ment. ceived the royal assent. From Welsh girl of great beauty, but mouth the time of the Great Charter, the sub- of weak understanding and dissolute stantive law respecting the personal manners. She became his mistress, liberty of Englishmen had been nearly and presented him with a son. A susthe same as at present: but it had been picious lover might have had his doubts ; inefficacious for want of a stringent for the lady had several admirers, and system of procedure. What was needed was not supposed to be cruel to any. was not a new right, but a prompt and Charles, however, readily took her word, searching remedy; and such a remedy and poured forth on little James Crofts,
how the Habeas Corpus Act sup- as the boy was then called, an overflowCorpus plied. The King would gladly ing fondness, such as seemed hardly to
have refused his consent to belong to that cool and careless nature. that measure : but he was about to Soon after the Restoration, the young appeal from his Parliament to his people favourite, who had learned in France on the question of the succession; and the exercises then considered necessary he could not venture, at so critical a to a fine gentleman, made his appear. moment, to reject a bill which was in ance at Whitehall. He was lodged in the highest degree popular.
| the palace, attended by pages, and perOn the same day, the press of Eng- mitted to enjoy several distinctions land became for a short time free. In which had till then been confined to old times printers had been strictly con- princes of the blood royal. He was trolled by the Court of Star Chamber. married, while still in tender youth, to The Long Parliament had abolished Anne Scott, heiress of the noble house the Star Chamber, but had, in spite of of Buccleuch. He took her name, and the philosophical and eloquent expos- received with her hand possession of tulation of Milton, established and her ample domains. The estate which maintained a censorship. Soon after he had acquired by this match was the Restoration, an Act had been passed popularly estimated at not less than which prohibited the printing of unli- ten thousand, pounds a year. Titles, censed books; and it had been provided and favours more substantial than titles, that this Act should continue in force were lavished on him. He was made till the end of the first session of the Duke of Monmouth in England, Duke next Parliament. That moment had of Buccleuch in Scotland, a Knight of now arrived ; and the King, in the very the Garter, Master of the Horse, Comact of dismissing the Houses, emanci-mander of the first troop of Life Guards, pated the Press.
Chief Justice of Eyre south of Trent, Shortly after the prorogation came a and Chancellor of the University of Second dissolution and another general Cambridge. Nor did he appear to the e rah of election. The zeal and strength public unworthy of his high fortunes. 1879. of the opposition were at the His countenance was eminently handheight. The cry for the Exclusion some and engaging, his temper sweet, Bill was louder than ever; and with his manners polite and affable. Though this cry was mingled another cry, which a libertine, he won the hearts of the fired the blood of the multitude, but Puritans. Though he was known to which was heard with regret and alarm have been privy to the shameful attack by all judicious friends of freedom. I on Sir John Coventry, he easily obNot only the rights of the Duke of tained the forgiveness of the Country York, an avowed Papist, but those of Party. Even austere moralists owned his two daughters, sincere and zealous that, in such a court, strict conjugal Protestants, were assailed. It was con- fidelity was scarcely to be expected from fidently affirmed that the eldest natural one who, while a child, had been marson of the King had been born in wed- ried to another child. Even patriots lock, and was lawful heir to the crown. were willing to excuse a headstrong boy