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France was now, beyond all doubt, the she had rivals on the sea, she had not greatest power in Europe. Her re- yet a superior. Such was her strength sources have, since those days, abso- during the last forty years of the sevenlutely increased, but have not increased teenth century, that no enemy could so fast as the resources of England. It singly withstand her, and that two great must also be remembered that, a hun- coalitions, in which half Christendom dred and eighty years ago, the empire was united against her, failed of success. of Russia, now a monarchy of the first | The personal qualities of the French class, was as entirely out of the system King added to the respect inof European politics as Abyssinia or spired by the power and im- of Lewis Siam, that the House of Brandenburg portance of his kingdom. No *1 was then hardly more powerful than sovereign has ever represented the mathe House of Saxony, and that the re- ljesty of a great state with more dignity public of the United States had not and grace. He was his own prime mithen begun to exist. The weight of nister, and performed the duties of a France, therefore, though still very con- prime minister with an ability and an siderable, has relatively diminished. industry which could not be reasonably Her territory was not in the days of expected from one who had in infancy Lewis the Fourteenth quite so extensive succeeded to a crown, and who had as at present: but it was large, com- been surrounded by flatterers before he pact, fertile, well placed both for attack could speak. He had shown, in an and for defence, situated in a happy eminent degree, two talents invaluable climate, and inhabited by a brave, ac- to a prince, the talent of choosing his tive, and ingenious people. The state servants well, and the talent of approimplicitly obeyed the direction of a priating to himself the chief part of the single mind. The great fiefs which, credit of their acts. In his dealings three hundred years before, had been, with foreign powers he had some genein all but name, independent principa- rosity, but no justice. To unhappy allities, had been annexed to the crown. lies who threw themselves at his feet, Only a few old men could remember and had no hope but in his compassion, the last meeting of the States General. he extended his protection with a roThe resistance which the Huguenots, mantic disinterestedness, which seemed the nobles, and the parliaments had better suited to a knight errant than offered to the kingly power, had been to a statesman. But he broke through put down by the two great Cardinals the most sacred ties of public faith who had ruled the nation during forty without scruple or shame, whenever years. The government was now a they interfered with his interest, or despotism, but, at least in its dealings with what he called his glory. His with the upper classes, a mild and gene- perfidy and violence, however, excited rous despotism, tempered by courteous less enmity than the insolence with manners and chivalrous sentiments which he constantly reminded his neighThe means at the disposal of the sove- bours of his own greatness and of their reign were, for that age, truly formida- littleness. He did not at this time proble. His revenue, raised, it is true, by fess the austere devotion which, at a & severe and unequal taxation which later period, gave to his court the aspect pressed heavily on the cultivators of of a monastery. On the contrary, he the soil, far exceeded that of any other was as licentious, though by no means potentate. His army, excellently dis- as frivolous and indolent, as his brother ciplined, and commanded by the great- of England. But he was a sincere est generals then living, already con- Roman Catholic; and both his consisted of more than a hundred and science and his vanity impelled him to twenty thousand men. Such an array use his power for the defence and proof regular troops had not been seen in pagation of the true faith, after the Europe since the downfall of the Ro- example of his renowned predecessors, man empire. Of maritime powers Clovis, Charlemagne, and Saint Lewis. France was not the first. But, though Our ancestors naturally looked with
serious alarm on the growing power of the everwhirling mills, the endless fleets France. This feeling, in itself per- of barges, the quick succession of great fectly reasonable, was mingled with towns, the ports bristling with thousands other feelings less praiseworthy. France of masts, the large and stately mansions, was our old enemy. It was against the trim villas, the richly furnished France that the most glorious battles apartments, the picture galleries, the recorded in our annals had been fought. summer houses, the tulip beds, produced The conquest of France had been twice on English travellers in that age an effected by the Plantagenets. The loss effect similar to the effect which the of France had been long remembered first sight of England now produces on as a great national disaster. The title a Norwegian or a Canadian. The States of King of France was still borne by General had been compelled to humble our sovereigns. The lilies of France themselves before Cromwell. But after still appeared, mingled with our own the Restoration they had taken their lions, on the shield of the House of revenge, had waged war with success Stuart. In the sixteenth century the against Charles, and had concluded dread inspired by Spain had suspended peace on honourable terms. Rich, howthe animosity of which France had an- ever, as the Republic was, and highly ciently been the object. But the dread considered in Europe, she was no match inspired by Spain had given place to for the power of Lewis. She apprecontemptuous compassion; and France hended, not without good cause, that was again regarded as our national foe. his kingdom might soon be extended The sale of Dunkirk to France had to her frontiers; and she might well been the most generally unpopular act dread the immediate vicinity of a moof the restored King. Attachment to narch so great, so ambitious, and so France had been prominent among the unscrupulous. Yet it was not easy to crimes imputed by the Commons to devise any expedient which might avert Clarendon. Even in trifles the public the danger. The Dutch alone could not feeling showed itself. When a brawl turn the scale against France. On the took place in the streets of Westminster side of the Rhine no help was to be between the retinues of the French and expected. Several German princes had Spanish embassies, the populace, though been gained by Lewis ; and the Emforcibly prevented from interfering, had peror himself was embarrassed by the given unequivocal proofs that the old discontents of Hungary. England was antipathy to France was not extinct. separated from the United Provinces
France and Spain were now engaged by the recollection of cruel injuries rein a more serious contest. One of the cently inflicted and endured; and her chief objects of the policy of Lewis policy had, since the Restoration, been throughout his life was to extend his so devoid of wisdom and spirit, that it dominions towards the Rhine. For was scarcely possible to expect from this end he had engaged in war with her any valuable assistance. Spain, and he was now in the full career. But the fate of Clarendon and the of conquest. The United Provinces growing ill humour of the Parliament saw with anxiety the progress of his determined the advisers of Charles to arms. That renowned federation had adopt on a sudden a policy which reached the height of power, prosperity, amazed and delighted the nation. and glory. The Batavian territory, The English resident at Brussels, conquered from the waves and defended Sir William Temple, one of The Triple against them by human art, was in ex- the most expert diplomatists AD tent little superior to the principality and most pleasing writers of that age, of Wales. But all that narrow space had already represented to his court was a busy and populous hive, in which that it was both desirable and practinew wealth was every day created, and cable to enter into engagements with in which vast masses of old wealth were the States General for the purpose of hoarded. The aspect of Holland, the checking the progress of France. For å rich cultivation, the innumerable canals, time his suggestions had been slighted;
but it was now thought expedient to to become serious. The independence, act on them. He was commissioned the safety, the dignity of the nation to negotiate with the States General. over which he presided were nothing He proceeded to the Hague, and soon to him. He had begun to find consticame to an understanding with John tutional restraints galling. Already De Witt, then the chief minister of had been formed in the Parliament à Holland. Sweden, small as her re strong connection known by the name sources were, had, forty years before, of the Country Party. That party been raised by the genius of Gustavus included all the public men who leaned Adolphus to a high rank among Eu- towards Puritanism and Republicanism, Topean powers, and had not yet de and many who, though attached to the scended to her natural position. She Church and to hereditary monarchy, was induced to join on this occasion had been driven into opposition by with England and the States. Thus dread of Popery, by dread of France, was formed that coalition known as and by disgust at the extravagance, the Triple Alliance. Lewis showed dissoluteness, and faithlessness of the signs of vexation and resentment, but court. The power of this band of polidid not think it politic to draw on ticians was constantly growing. Every himself the hostility of such a confede- 1 year some of those members who had racy in addition to that of Spain. He been returned to Parliament during consented, therefore, to relinquish a the loyal excitement of 1661 had large part of the territory which his dropped off; and the vacant seats had armies had occupied. Peace was re- generally been filled by persons less stored to Europe; and the English tractable. Charles did not think himgovernment, lately an object of general self a King while an assembly of subcontempt, was, during a few months, jects could call for his accounts before regarded by foreign powers with re- paying his debts, and could insist on spect scarcely less than that which the knowing which of his mistresses or Protector had inspired.
boon companions had intercepted the At home the Triple Alliance was money destined for the equipping and popular in the highest degree. It manning of the fleet. Though not very gratified alike national animosity and studious of fame, he was galled by the national pride. It put a limit to the taunts which were sometimes uttered encroachments of a powerful and am- in the discussions of the Commons, bitious neighbour. It bound the lead- and on one occasion attempted to reing Protestant states together in close strain the freedom of speech by disunion. Cavaliers and Roundheads graceful means. Sir John Coventry, a rejoiced in common : but the joy of the country gentleman, had, in debate, Roundhead was even greater than that sneered at the profligacy of the court. of the Cavalier. For England had now In any former reign he would probably allied herself strictly with a country have been called before the Privy republican in government and Presby- Council and committed to the Tower. terian in religion, against a country A different course was now taken., A ruled by an arbitrary prince and at- gang of bullies was secretly sent to tached to the Roman Catholic Church. slit the', nose of the offender. This The House of Commons loudly ap- ignoble revenge, instead of quelling the plauded the treaty; and some uncourtly spirit of opposition, raised such a temgrumblers described it as the only good pest that the King was compelled to thing that had been done since the submit to the cruel humiliation of passKing came in.
ing an act which attainted the instruThe King, however, cared little for ments of his revenge, and which took The Coun the approbation of his Parlia- from him the power of pardoning them. ity Party. ment or of his people. The But, impatient as he was of constiTriple Alliance he regarded merely tutional restraints, how was he to as a temporary expedient for quieting emancipate himself from them? He discontents which had seemed likely I could make himself despotic only by
the help of a great standing army; and and of powerful understanding. But such an army was not in existence. to Charles, sensual, indolent, unequal to His revenues did indeed enable him to any strong intellectual exertion, and keep up some regular troops: but those destitute alike of all patriotism and of troops, though numerous enough to all sense of personal dignity, the proexcite great jealousy and apprehension spect had nothing unpleasing. in the House of Commons and in the That the Duke of York should have country, were scarcely numerous enough concurred in the design of degrading to protect Whitehall and the Tower that crown which it was probable that against a rising of the mob of London. he would himself one day wear may Such risings were, indeed, to be dread- seem more extraordinary. For his ed; for it was calculated that in the nature was haughty and imperious; capital and its suburbs dwelt not less and, indeed, he continued to the very than twenty thousand of Oliver's old last to show, by occasional starts and soldiers.
struggles, his impatience of the French Since the King was bent on emanci- yoke. But he was almost as much Conra pating himself from the con- debased by superstition as his brother tweede trol of Parliament, and since, by indolence and vice. James was now Charles II. in such an enterprise, he could a Roman Catholic. Religious bigotry France. not hope for effectual aid at had become the dominant sentiment home, it followed that he must look of his narrow and stubborn mind, and for aid abroad. The power and wealth had so mingled itself with his love of of the King of France might be equal rule, that the two passions could hardly to the arduous task of establishing ab- be distinguished from each other. It solute monarchy in England. Such seemed highly improbable that, withan ally would undoubtedly expect sub-out foreign aid, he would be able to stantial proofs of gratitude for such a obtain ascendency, or even toleration, service. Charles must descend to the for his own faith: and he was in a rank of a great vassal, and must make temper to see nothing humiliating in peace and war according to the direc- any step which might promote the intions of the government which pro- terests of the true Church. tected him. His relation to Lewis A negotiation was opened which would closely resemble that in which lasted during several months. The the Rajah of Nagpore and the King of chief agent between the English and Oude now stand to the British govern- French courts was the beautiful, gracement. Those princes are bound to aid ful, and intelligent Henrietta, Duchess the East India Company in all hos- of Orleans, sister of Charles, sister in tilities, defensive and offensive, and to law of Lewis, and a favourite with have no diplomatic relations but such both. The King of England offered as the East India Company shall to declare himself a Roman Catholic, sanction. The Company in return to dissolve the Triple Alliance, and to guarantees them against insurrection. join with France against Holland, if As long as they faithfully discharge France would engage to lend him such their obligations to the paramount military and pecuniary aid as might power, they are permitted to dispose make řim independent of his Parliaof large revenues, to fill their palaces ment. Lewis at first affected to receive with beautiful women, to besot them- these propositions coolly, and at length selves in the company of their favourite agreed to them with the air of a man revellers, and to oppress with impunity who is conferring a great favour: but any subject who may incur their dis- in truth, the course which he had repleasure.* Such a life would be in- solved to take was one by which he supportable to a man of high spirit might gain and could not lose.
It seems certain that he never * I am happy to say, that, since this pas- seriously thought of establish- Views of sage was written, the territories both of the
ing despotism Rajah of Nagpore and of the King of Oude
and Popery in respect to have been added to the British dominions. England by force of arms. England.. (1857.)
He must have been aware that such an en- Church of Rome, and proud of the terprise would be in the highest degree greatness of their King and of their own arduous and hazardous, that it would loyalty, looked on our struggles against task to the utmost all the energies of Popery and arbitrary power, not only France during many years, and that it without admiration or sympathy, but would be altogether incompatible with with strong disapprobation and disgust. more promising schemes of aggrandise- It would therefore be a great error to ment, which were dear to his heart. ascribe the conduct of Lewis to appre· He would indeed willingly have ac- hensions at all resembling those which, quired the merit and glory of doing a in our age, induced the Holy Alliance great service on reasonable terms to to interfere in the internal troubles of the Church of which he was a member. Naples and Spain. But he was little disposed to imitate Nevertheless, the propositions made his ancestors who, in the twelfth by the court of Whitehall were most and thirteenth centuries, had led the welcome to him. He already meditated flower of French chivalry to die in gigantic designs, which were destined Syria and Egypt; and he well knew to keep Europe in constant fermentation that a crusade against Protestantism during more than forty years. He in Great Britain would not be less wished to humble the United Provinces, perilous than the expeditions in which and to annex Belgium, Franche Comté, the armies of Lewis the Seventh and and Loraine to his dominions. Nor of Lewis the Ninth had perished. He was this all. The King of Spain was had no motive for wishing the Stuarts a sickly child. It was likely that he to be absolute. He did not regard the would die without issue. His eldest English constitution with feelings at sister was Queen of France. A day all resembling those which have in later would almost certainly come, and might times induced princes to make war on come very soon, when the House of the free institutions of neighbouring Bourbon might lay claim to that vast nations. At present a great party empire on which the sun never set. The zealous for popular government has union of two great monarchies under ramifications in every civilised country. one head would doubtless be opposed Any important advantage gained any- by a continental coalition. But for where by that party is almost certain any continental coalition France singleto be the signal for general commotion. handed was a match. England could It is not wonderful that governments turn the scale. On the course which, threatened by a common danger in such a crisis, England might pursue, should combine for the purpose of the destinies of the world would depend; mutual insurance. But in the seven- and it was notorious that the English teenth century no such danger existed. Parliament and nation were strongly Between the public mind of England attached to the policy which had dicand the public mind of France there tated the Triple Alliance. Nothing, was a great gulph. Our institutions therefore, could be more gratifying to and our factions were as little under-Lewis than to learn that the princes of stood at Paris as at Constantinople. the House of Stuart needed his help, It may be doubted whether any one and were willing to purchase that help of the forty members of the French by unbounded subserviency. He deterAcademy had an English volume in mined to profit by the opportunity, and his library, or knew Shakspeare, Jon- laid down for himself a plan to which, son, or Spenser, even by name. A few without deviation, he adhered, till the Huguenots, who had inherited the Revolution of 1688 disconcerted all mutinous spirit of their ancestors, his politics. He professed himself might perhaps have a fellow feeling desirous to promote the designs of the with their brethren in the faith, the English court. He promised large aid. English Roundheads : but the Hugue- He from time to time doled out such nots had ceased to be formidable. The aid as might serve to keep hope alive, French, as a people, attached to the and as he could without risk or incon