THE POLICY OF CHARLES II AND JAMES II. (1667-87.)
By JOHN POLLOCK, M.A., Barrister-at-Law of Lincoln's Inn, Fellow of Trinity College.
The Cabal Ministry . . 198
Charles' policy, home and foreign . 199
The War of Devolution and the Treaty of Breda . 199
The Triple Alliance and the Peace of Aachen .200
Parliament and toleration . .201
Charles and Rome. James' conversion . . 202
Negotiations for the Treaty of Dover . . 203
"Madame." The Treaty of Dover . 204
Le traité simulé. Nell Gwyn and "Madam Carwell" .205
The Stop of the Exchequer . .206
The Declaration of Indulgence. Dutch negotiations . 207
End of negotiations. "Delenda est Carthago" .208
Charles cancels the Declaration .209
The Test Act. The Cabal dissolved . 210
James' second marriage . .211
Parliament prorogued. Gossip about Monmouth . 212
Divines on divorce. Ministry of Danby . . 213
Project of marrying William of Orange to Princess Mary . to. Government by machine . .214
Danby's finance . . 215
The Non-resisting Test . .216
The "prorogation without precedent." Policy of Louis XIV . 217
Shaftesbury and the beginnings of the Whig party . 218
William marries Mary. New treaty of Charles with Louis . 219
Peace signed at Nymegen . .220
Titus Gates and the Popish Plot . 220
The Coleman correspondence. Godfrey murdered . 221
Popular and parliamentary agitation . 222
Danby's fall. The Cavalier Parliament dissolved . 223
Dismissal of Danby. Triumph of the Whigs .223
Sir William Temple's scheme. "The Triumvirate" . 224
The Exclusion Bill . . 224
Charles falls ill. Designs of the Whigs . . 225
The Exclusion Bill thrown out .226
Charles' last Parliament . .227
The Tory reaction . . 228
Quo Warranta. Rye House Plot . 229
Charles' success, and death . .230
Accession and character of James . 231
Sedgmoor. The "Bloody Assizes" . 232
The Dispensing Power . .233
Compton, Dryden, and Penn .234
Dismissal of Rochester. Tyrconnel Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ib. Attitude of France and of the Pope . 235
The beginning of the end . .235
THE POLICY OF CHARLES II AND JAMES II. (1667-87.)
CLARENDON'S dismissal was Charles' opportunity, and he proceeded to take advantage of it with all the speed compatible with the caution of a far-seeing calculator whose immediate future, even at crises appalling to the most daring of his followers, was invariably pledged to his personal pleasure, and with the leisurely readjustment that attends transitions in great affairs. Clarendon was succeeded by the famous Cabal -Sir Thomas Clifford, Lord Arlington, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Ashley, and the Earl of Lauderdale-the initials of whose names gave notoriety and permanence to a word already in common use. They formed a Ministry containing two of the cleverest and two of the most capable men in all England; but, despite their varied talents, they never enjoyed the complete confidence of the King and never acquired an influence over his policy comparable to that enjoyed by the late Chancellor. Less than eighteen months after Clarendon's fall, Charles wrote to his sister, Henrietta of Orleans : " One thing I desire you to take as much as you can out of the King of France's head, that my ministers are anything but what I will have them...whatsoever opinion my ministers had been of, I would and do always follow my own judgement, and, if they take any other measures than that, they will see themselves mistaken in the end." Widely as the aims of the two men differed and widely as their characters differed in almost every other respect, Charles II may be compared to his nephew William of Orange, in the uncommon tenacity with which he pursued his object. That he was, when he chose, an excellent man of business, his Ministers were well aware ; that he was among the most adroit men of his age his friends and enemies, both politicians of England and the able diplomatists of France, had ample experience; but that, in power of projecting a great scheme and maintaining it in the face of almost unexampled difficulties and dangers, in coolness of judgment and in keenness of foresight he deserved to be classed among statesmen of the first rank, only the history of eighteen years could show.
The policy of Clarendon at home had been a severely Anglican royalism of the old style. In foreign affairs he had at the beginning of the reign been regarded by Mazarin as consistently opposed to French interests ; and, although there had of late years been more ground for the popular belief that he was on the contrary their active promoter, he had desired peace with the Dutch, had dreamed of an alliance between England, Sweden, and Spain, and claimed to have prepared the way for the Triple Alliance to oppose the encroachments of Louis XIV on the territory of the Spanish monarchy. From Clarendon's retirement to the end of the reign, the cardinal point in Charles' policy was dependence on France : not however the submissive dependence of servility, but dependence on support and supplies extorted by himself and used to free him from servitude to the Church of England, either by the destruction of her privileges or by compelling her enlistment in the service of the Crown. Even when under Danby's Ministry the Court returned to a policy resembling that of Clarendon, its intention was not to secure the supremacy of the Church, but at the price of the political annihilation of her adversaries, to buy her blind and perpetual support for the Crown. The position of the Crown in the State was the constant object of Charles' undertakings: his involved intrigues in affairs both at home and abroad were only the means to assure it.
The first field in which the influence of Charles' government was decisively exerted on continental politics was the Low Countries. On July 31, 1667, the Treaty of Breda was signed. Six weeks earlier, Louis had declared what became known as the War of Devolution against Spain, and had poured a large and well-equipped army under Turenne into the Spanish Netherlands. On June 2 Charleroi was taken ; and before the end of August Tournay, Douay, Courtray, and Lille were in French hands and the greater part of Flanders was occupied. The intention of Louis to make good the claim which he had openly abandoned to the property, if not the title, of the Spanish throne was thus revealed to the world with startling abruptness. To the Dutch the opening of the Scheldt, which it clearly forecast, meant the rise of Antwerp and the corresponding decline of Amsterdam ; to the English it dimly foreshadowed the extension of Louis' system-the system of Catholic absolutism-over practically the whole of civilised Europe. Far-seeing minds could perhaps perceive that the curtain had been rung up on a drama of incalculable gravity, of which the scene was to shift from one end of Europe to the other, and the last act was not to be played till after the lapse of more than a generation. The opponents of French aggrandisement were fortunate in the English Minister at Brussels. Sir William Temple had during the negotiations at Breda convinced himself that the only means of safeguarding the peace of Europe from Louis' ambition lay in an alliance between England and Holland, and in the following months urged the plan repeatedly on his Government. In
September he took the opportunity of a trip to Holland to discuss the matter with John de Witt, with the result that Buckingham and Arlington held a series of conferences with the Dutch and Spanish ambassadors in London and discussed the idea from every point of view. So rapidly did the situation mature that at the end of December Temple returned to the Hague, this time on an official mission, and before a month was out had signed the momentous treaty which, on the accession of Sweden a few months later, received the name of the Triple Alliance. This treaty, ratified on January 13, 1668, took the form of two alliances : by the first, which was purely defensive, the contracting parties undertook, in case of attack, each to come to the assistance of the other with a specified force by land and sea ; by the second, they undertook to restore peace between France and Spain. Louis had already offered to make peace on one of two conditions : either he would keep what he had got, or he would take in exchange Franche Comté and three fortresses in the Netherlands, without in either case explicitly surrendering the claim that he had set up by going to war. By the Alliance, the Dutch and English Governments now bound themselves to persuade Spain to accept one of the alternatives offered, or, failing this, to compel her by force of arms ; and moreover, by a secret article, should the King of France refuse to make good his offer of peace, then to combine " with all their united force and power " not only to compel him to make peace but also to continue the war till France was reduced to the boundaries set by the Treaty of the Pyrenees. The effect of the alliance was immediate. Despite the severity of the weather, Condé was despatched with a force of fifteen thousand men into Franche Comté and overran the province in a fortnight; and Louis, having thus provided himself with a powerful diplomatic weapon, opened negotiations for a peace with Spain, which, on May 2, was concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle on the basis of the first alternative, France surrendering Franche Comté and consolidating her north-east frontier by a long line of fortresses in Flanders and Hainault.
To John de Witt and Holland the Triple Alliance was of capital importance. Although the Dutch were ostensibly on the best of public terms with the French Government, this friendship was but a hollow pretence. Colbert's economic system had already threatened the commerce of the Dutch; Louis despised and detested them as a nation of Protestant and republican tradesmen ; and it was evident that, once the bulwark of the Spanish Netherlands was down, the turn of the Dutch would come soon. De Witt had not been without qualms at the thought of breaking with France for an alliance with the changeful fortunes of England, and he had been surprised at the readiness with which Charles fell in with his proposals during the negotiations for the treaty ; but he had, in fact, no choice in his search for support. For him it was the English alliance or nothing. What vitiated his calculation was that he could
When Parliament met on February 10, 1668, the two subjects contained in the King's Speech were the Triple Alliance and an intention to achieve "a better union and composure in the minds of my Protestant subjects in matters of religion." While Temple and Arlington had been absorbed in foreign affairs, Buckingham and Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, had been engaged in a series of conferences with the leading nonconformist divines, such as Baxter and Manton, in order if possible to devise a scheme for the admission of the dissenting body into the Established Church. The opinion of certain Anglican clergymen also was taken ; and Lord Chief Justice Hale, who attended the meetings, drafted a Comprehension Bill, to be laid before Parliament. At the same time, to guarantee a more business-like administration, the Privy Council was reorganised in a number of committees, the most important being that for foreign affairs, an eminently practical system that had been disliked and long hindered by Clarendon.
Charles II had always had a leaning towards toleration, combined with a desire in particular to free the Catholics from their heavy disabilities. The House of Commons on the contrary had always shown the bigoted zeal of persecuting Anglicanism ; and, now that a moderate proposal for the relief of dissenters was in the air, could be trusted to prevent its taking effect. For once the Cabal had found a question on which all its members were agreed: Clifford and Arlington were, or were about to be, Roman Catholics ; Buckingham was the patron of the Independents ; civil liberty was the guiding principle of Ashley's life ; and Lauderdale, who was chiefly concerned with Scotland, was an administrator rather than a statesman and, if he had an opinion at all, viewed the proposal favourably. Yet neither the success of the Government abroad, nor the promise of better order at home and the strange
There can be little doubt that this had a great effect on Charles1 mind. The Commons' uncompromising determination made it impossible for him, were they unresisted, to retain a shadow of authority or to pursue the national policy towards which the Triple Alliance seemed to point the way. His statesmanlike dream had been of a national Church, formally organised on the basis of the Roman Catholic religion, but broad enough to include the majority of moderate Protestants, depending but slightly on Rome in political affairs, and perfectly tolerant of dissent. But, because neither Rome would admit such privileges nor Parliament so much as allow a temporary toleration, a dream it remained. In 1668, he seems to have made another attempt in the same direction. Charles' own son, his eldest bastard, born to him by a lady of good family in Jersey, had been bred a Catholic and had recently entered the Society of Jesus at Rome. Under the name of James de la Cloche he was now at his father's request despatched by the Jesuit General to receive a communication from the mouth of Charles, who saw him and sent him back with an oral commission as his " secret ambassador to the Father General." The rest is shrouded in mystery. The return of the youth to Rome, the nature of his mission, his subsequent career, are hidden from us: nothing more is known for certain of the eldest child of Charles II. Nor did more considerable results attend the journey to London of the papal Internuncio at Brussels a short time after, and his secret interview with the King at the Pope's command. The decisive action was to be taken in another quarter.
In January, 1669, a remarkable meeting took place at St James' Palace. The King was present and informed the Duke of York, Clifford, Arlington, and Arundel, that he desired to reconcile himself to the Catholic faith and to turn England Catholic with him. A short time before, James had announced his conversion to his brother, but while the Duke's change was probably in the main religious, Charles was acting rather from political motives. In the course of the next year James' conversion was suspected, though it was not until the spring of
From the point of view of Louis XIV the political element in Charles' projected conversion had the merit of bringing him within reach of the French purse-strings. Louis wanted Charles' support, but at least his neutrality : Charles wanted Louis' support, but above all his money. This is the key to the complicated and mysterious negotiations between the two Courts from this date to Charles' final triumph, the question at bottom being how much pressure Charles could put on Louis by a tacit threat to make terms with Parliament, and how far Louis could allow or compel Charles to go in that direction without the situation becoming too dangerous. For six months before the meeting at St James' Palace Charles had been discussing the basis of a commercial treaty with France by means of Buckingham and Colbert de Croissy ; and it was due to Buckingham's suggestion that the further questions arising should pass through the hands of the King's sister, the Duchess of Orleans, that the affair took the now well-known lines of what can only be regarded as one of the deepest plots in history. To facilitate proceedings and to avert suspicion the Abbé Pregnani, a fashionable Parisian astrologer, was sent to London to act as a means of communication ; and the better part of a year was spent in a detailed correspondence between the two Courts concerning the best course to be adopted.
The scheme thus set afoot was to remodel England upon the example of France and to introduce Catholicism and absolute monarchy, hand in hand, by means of French gold and French force. In return for this assistance Charles was to declare joint war with Louis on the Dutch and to recognise that Louis was not bound by his wife's renunciation of her claim to the Spanish crown. On a first consideration of the matter, Charles wished the opening move in the game to be his declaration of Catholicism. Colbert de Croissy, however, pointed out that the excitement caused by this step would be so intense throughout the Protestant world and would so distinctly place the Dutch in the position of champions of the reformed religion that it would be hopeless to expect the English nation to consent to war with them ; and, although Charles would not commit himself to put the foreign war first and the civil conflict second, he was so much struck by the justice of the remark that he tacitly fell into line with the French proposal. The interest of
France was not to support him in a prolonged dispute with his subjects, unless it were conducive to success on the Continent : to put religion first might mean postponing the Dutch war indefinitely, while the strength that would accrue to him in money and arms by the success of a war supported by English commercial jealousy would put his opponents at home in an inferior position when he turned on them afterwards. On May 5, 1670, the Duchess of Orleans reached Dover, whither Charles, whose hand was strengthened by the substantial supply voted at the spring sitting of Parliament, journeyed to meet her. The negotiations were complete ; the time was spent by Charles and his sister in unaffected happiness ; and on June 1 the Treaty of Dover was signed by Colbert for France, by Arlington, Clifford, Arundel, and Sir Richard Bellings for England. Henrietta did not live to see the fruits of the treaty in which her share had been so great that it was named by the French " le traité de Madame."" She had been ill before her arrival in England ; on her return to Paris on June 18 her symptoms continued, and on the 29th, after drinking a glass of chicory water, she died in a few hours, believing herself and believed by all the world to be the victim of poison. The cause of her death is now scientifically known to have been a perforating ulcer of the stomach.
The treaty, which consisted of ten articles and three additional clauses, set forth the joint policy of the two monarchs in some detail for the subjugation of England. Louis was to furnish Charles with six thousand men at his own expense and £150,000, and was, together with Charles, to fix the date of the stroke. For the attack on Holland Charles was to furnish six thousand men to serve under the French commander-in-chief, and fifty ships of war to serve together with thirty French under the Duke of York as admiral-the whole at the expense of Louis. Charles was to take Walcheren, Sluys, and Cadsand as his share of the spoil ; the rights of the Prince of Orange were as far as possible to be preserved ; and Louis was to pay Charles £225,000 yearly while the war lasted. For the success of " la grande affaire? as Charles called it to his sister, he reckoned further on his resources at home. The Governor of Hull was a Catholic; those of Portsmouth, Plymouth, Windsor, and other strong places, were devoted to his service; the Catholic sentiment and force of Ireland were ready to hand; and Lauderdale controlled an army twenty thousand strong in Scotland, bound to serve anywhere within the British dominions. If the design should succeed, he would find himself at the head of a Catholic State and master of his kingdom.
A necessary consequence of the Treaty of Dover was a second treaty. All the Ministers knew of the negotiations ; but only those who were in the Catholic plot could be acquainted with their result. Therefore, to cover the traces of the real business, an elaborate sham treaty was drafted at Charles' suggestion by Buckingham, who was led to imagine
In April, 1670, as the price for the renewed Conventicle Act, the Commons had voted a tax calculated to bring in ,£800,000 a year for eight years, and in the October session they added a supply of £800,000 ; but, as the annual expenses of the services alone amounted to half a million, and the King's debts to over two million pounds, the financial prospects, despite a further supply obtained in the following March in response to a royal proclamation against Papists, could hardly be considered brilliant. The attitude of the Commons, moreover, made it clear that, although Parliament was now prorogued from one date to another, doing little business till February, 1673, the French ambassador had been only too accurate in his prophecy of the results that would follow the King's public change of religion. In promising the late proclamation Charles had only ventured to hint at exemption for the Catholic Royalists who had fought for his father ; and there could be no doubt that any attempt to put in action the great Catholic scheme would ruin the hopes of the Dutch war, interrupt the stream of French gold, and perhaps overturn the monarchy itself in the fury it would let loose in England. Arlington, who had been of the King's original opinion, agreed with Charles that the declaration must be definitely postponed till the war had placed him in an overwhelmingly strong position. In the meantime Charles amused himself with two new mistresses, the two most famous of the thirteen whose names have been preserved. Nell Gwyn, the darling of London audiences, did not cost the nation above £4000 a year in revenues; the other, a young Breton lady who had come to England in the suite of Henrietta of Orleans, Louise de Kéroualle, soon Duchess of Portsmouth, drew an income of £40,000 besides gifts amounting to many times that sum.
Money was always a difficulty at Charles' Court, and, now that the spring of 1672 was fixed by Louis for his attack on Holland, a difficulty that pressed. Further, the French preparations for the war and the likelihood that England would assist in it were becoming known; and to summon Parliament would be to court disaster. The audacity of Clifford suggested a source of supply that needed nothing but a proclamation to tap it. During the Commonwealth and since the Restoration
One startling event after another now broke upon the nation and made, said Baxter, "all Protestant hearts to tremble." The Stop of the Exchequer took place on January 2, 1672. On March 15 the King issued a Declaration of Indulgence, suspending " all manner of penal laws in matters ecclesiastical against whatsoever sort of Nonconformists or recusants." On March 17 war was declared against the Dutch Republic. Hostilities had actually begun before their official declaration ; for after seeking in vain for a plausible pretext to break with their allies, and after de Witt had gone almost to the extreme of conciliation to keep the peace, the Government gave orders to force a war by an act of open piracy. On March 13 Holmes, the admiral in command at Portsmouth, who had opened the first Dutch war, sailed out to where a Dutch merchant fleet, laden with a rich cargo from the Levant, lay at anchor off' the Isle of Wight, and opened fire upon it. War was rendered inevitable ; but the treasure, the expected capture of which would help to defray it, escaped, for the Government and the admiral had laid their plans so badly that the
Dutch, after returning the English fire, were able to sail off' with the loss of only two ships.
The story of the war, which may be regarded as one thread in the double policy of the Dover treaty, does not belong to this chapter. The Declaration of Indulgence (March 15, 1672), which was the other, was a kind of trial flight of the grand religious revolution that had been planned by Charles. Even at the time it was vehemently suspected that its true object was to favour the Catholics ; but it was a fact that owing to Bridgeman's protest Catholics could only claim the right to worship privately, while Protestant dissenters could do so in public, and that it was actively supported by Ashley and other prominent men whose Protestantism was less suspected than the King's. The gaols were opened ; Bunyan left his prison at Bedford ; and hundreds of nonconformists, and especially Quakers (for the persecution had been very fierce against them), walked the streets again in freedom. Still there was much hesitation. The Presbyterians, with their strongly democratic views on Church matters, disliked the personal nature of the relief accorded them by the King, and also being relieved as merely part of the whole body of dissenters, most of whom had experienced a less conciliatory treatment in the past. All feared to bring on themselves the disapprobation of Parliament. However, the Government had succeeded for the moment. A nonconformist deputation to thank the King was introduced by Arlington. Bridgeman surrendered the Privy Seal ; Clifford, with a peerage, stepped into the high place of Lord Treasurer ; Ashley became Earl of Shaftesbury and Lord Chancellor ; Arlington was made an Earl, Lauderdale a Duke, and both received the Garter. Although the Declaration was but a shadow of the real scheme in Charles1 head, it was considered by sound Anglicans to be a staggering blow to the Church : " Papists and swarms of sectaries " astonished the world of London by the numbers in which they met publicly ; and on the following Easter Day it was remarked to the general scandal that the Duke of York, who attended church with the King, refrained from partaking of the Communion for the second year in succession. So lively was the agitation on the subject of Catholic toleration that when Parliament met in February, 1673, after a recess of practically two years, Charles attempted to ride the storm that was known to be brewing by a display of personal authority. " I shall take it very ill," he said, " to receive contradiction in what I have done. And I will deal plainly with you : I am resolved to stick to my Declaration."
Meanwhile, negotiations had been proceeding with the Dutch. The war had gone badly for Holland ; but neither had it gone well for England, and the despatch, after all, of an English contingent to Louis' army had by no means mollified Buckingham's disappointment, since it had gone under command of the Duke of Monmouth. Consequently Buckingham was more inclined to the Dutch, and less to the French, than he had been two years before. Ambassadors arrived from the
Charles had thus prepared opinion at home for the prosecution of the war and for a large supply to support it. No better advocate for his cause could have been found than the new Chancellor, Shaftcsbury, who followed the Speech from the Throne with a skilful and inflammatory harangue on the text "Delenda est Carthago,"" that obtained an immediate vote of a million and a quarter pounds, to be spread over a period of eighteen months. But the Commons were less manageable on the delicate question of the Indulgence. Though, when the subject was introduced, the House showed a general hesitation to touch it, the silence was that of a calm before the storm ; once loosened, tongues wagged freely. Why had not legal and ecclesiastical advice been taken before the Declaration ? What authority could such a Declaration have ? It was not even made under the Great Seal, the judges appointed under which swore to carry out the Acts of Parliament that the King now claimed to override. Acts of Parliament ! Why, the Declaration broke forty of them. Sufficient doubt, however, existed on the whole subject of the
Royal dispensing power to turn the debate into a serious rather than an angry channel. A division gave a vote of 168 to 116 in favour of the resolution, " That Penal Statutes in matters ecclesiastical cannot be suspended but by act of Parliament," which was embodied in a respectful petition to the King that the laws should once more be given their full force.
At Court counsels were divided. There could be no denying that the situation was most serious. Buckingham, Clifford, and Lauderdale were for force : a considerable army, assembled at Blackheath under the experienced command of Marshal Schomberg and Colonel Fitzgerald, might be used against Parliament while the Scotch forces seized Newcastle. For Charles to submit at such a crisis might be the first step on the road trodden by his father ; whereas a determined stroke would free him from danger. Shaftesbury was for dissolution, and Charles himself favoured the idea, with the intention, it would seem, of carrying on his policy by a personal government without any Parliament at all. But this would mean peace with the Dutch and presumably the refusal of assistance from France. To Arlington, the Minister most trusted by the King, this consideration appealed strongly : by dissolving Parliament at this moment Charles would sacrifice all hope of fulfilling the Dover policy and would have to face a national opposition without support ; while, if he gave way now and carried the war to a successful conclusion, he would still be in as good a position as ever to dictate terms to his people. On behalf of Louis, Colbert de Croissy brought forward the same arguments. He went even further. Charles' cooperation in the war was of such importance to his master that he was authorised to promise at the end of it not only the 6000 men already stipulated, but 12,000 or 15,000, or even his whole might, for the conquest of England.
This offer was decisive. On the same evening, March 8, Charles cancelled the Declaration ; and the next morning he appeared in the House of Lords to announce his assent to the Commons' petition. The news was received with general delight and celebrated by bonfires all over the town. Nevertheless the Commons were unsatisfied. They hurried through the remaining stages of the Subsidy Bill, but lingered over religion. Possibly they noticed that, although Charles had not asserted his right to dispense with the law, he had at the same time not abandoned it. In their fear of Catholicism they proceeded to consider a subject that had formerly only roused parliamentary opposition, namely, the toleration of Protestant Dissent, and professed themselves willing to pass an Act which should secure it. But it was more characteristic of the Cavalier Parliament that out of the debates on this measure of toleration, which did not pass, grew the project for the most famous of all measures of persecution, which did. A Bill against the increase of Catholicism had come down from the House of Lords : it was now proposed to insert in it a proviso imposing on all holders of civil and
Before the year was out, the Act had worked important results. Clifford gave up the Treasurer's staff and retired to the country, to die, it was believed, by his own hand. The Duke of York surrendered all his offices. Prince Rupert, a strong Protestant, took command of the fleet. But there were further consequences of a less direct character. Arlington withdrew from his post of Secretary of State and accepted the colourless office of Lord Chamberlain. Shaftesbury, suspected by the King to have been bribed by Spain and by the Duke of York to have opposed his second marriage, which took place in the autumn, was dismissed and immediately flung himself into violent opposition to the Court. " It is only laying down my robe," he said, " and buckling on my sword." Sir Heneage Finch, the Attorney-General, became Lord Keeper and Earl of Nottingham. Sir Joseph Williamson succeeded Arlington as Secretary of State. Sir Thomas Osborne, a Yorkshire baronet of small fortune and Cavalier principles, took up the Treasurer's staff. Buckingham, Lauderdale and Arlington were attacked in the Commons on their meeting in October. The great Cabal Ministry had been scattered to the winds.
It was now admitted by all the partners to the Catholic scheme that it must finally be abandoned. Arlington declared it impossible, Charles spoke of it no more, and the French ambassador, who had devoted all his energy to its furtherance, begged Louis to recall him. Colbert de Croissy had learnt from his friends in Parliament, among them the poet Waller, that there were not four members who believed that there was any other means of preserving the Protestant religion but peace with Holland, or who considered the French alliance to have any object other than the establishment of Popery in England. The new Treasurer did not return
Colbert's visit, and he felt that he could no longer be useful as Louis' representative. In January, 1674, he withdrew to France, leaving in his place the Comte de Buvigny, an elderly Protestant of respectable character, who detested "le sale trafic''' of buying men, women, and parties, in which he found himself busily engaged. Ruvigny had not been a month at the head of the embassy, when peace was made with the Dutch.
Meanwhile, the Duke of York's marriage had provided another topic of explosive interest. Anne Hyde, his first wife, died a Catholic early in the year 1672, leaving two daughters, Mary and Anne, who were now being brought up in the Protestant faith, and, the King's marriage being barren, were after their father the nearest heirs to the throne. Now, it was desirable both that there should be an heir male and that, for the better guarantee of his title, he should be sprung from a royal line on both sides. The question, therefore, of a second wife for the Duke was of much importance ; but, since he was himself a Catholic, the choice was perforce narrowed to the marriageable Catholic princesses of Europe. The Spanish interest could provide an Austrian archduchess (Claudia Félicitas, daughter of Ferdinand Charles of Tyrol); and, as Spain had a lively concern in upholding the Dutch Republic as a barrier to the claims of Louis, this was perhaps the nearest approach to a Protestant match that could be made ; but when the Austrians demanded conditions unfavourable to France, the negotiations fell through and the field was left open to candidates of the French Court, from among whom the Princess Mary of Modena was finally selected. On September SO, 1673, the Princess, who was barely fifteen years of age, was married to James by proxy, the Earl of Peterborough taking the place of his master, the Duke. In order to get the ceremony over before the meeting of Parlia ment, the papal dispensation, necessary since Mary had taken the first step towards entering a convent, was not awaited and was ultimately not obtained without abject supplications from England and the good offices of Louis. To the politicians of the papal Court, who preferred Spain to France, the match was by no means welcome. Among Pro testants at home, that is to say, in nine-tenths of the nation, it created an uproar. Apart from the vulgar belief that Mary was " the Pope's eldest daughter," it was evidence of the relations existing between Charles and Louis. Personally James enjoyed but little popularity. His conversion to the Catholic religion had rendered him an object of real distrust ; his marriage under the auspices of the French King, so as to assure a Catholic and almost a French succession, now revived all the most violent suspicions that had attended the beginning of the war. Meeting on October 20, the Commons voted an address to the King, praying that the marriage should not be consummated, and that the Duke should not wed "any person but of the Protestant religion." Hereupon Parliament was promptly adjourned for a week. When they reassembled, the Commons were informed that the marriage had been completed, and were coolly
Nor was the meeting of Parliament in January, 1674, more peaceful or more productive. To meet the repeated charges that the alliance with France meant the introduction of Popery into England, Charles laid before a committee of both Houses the "traité simulé? concluded to disguise the real business at Dover, with the assurance that it was the only treaty with France in existence. The speech, however, was so ill composed and delivered, that the Commons proceeded on their business without the least sign of being conciliated. No supply was voted, but heady debates took place on grievances and on the subject of evil counsellors, until, matters going from bad to worse, the King, after announcing that peace was concluded with the Dutch, suddenly prorogued Parliament till the following November. Members hastened away from Westminster in alarm and disgust. But their astonishment was still greater, when Charles, who had kept his intention secret from his most trusted advisers, announced that Parliament should stand further prorogued till April, 1675. He had received 500,000 crowns from Louis to enable him to do without it.
The disordered state of affairs inclined many minds towards the only policy which seemed capable of giving quiet to the kingdom, namely, that of assuring a Protestant succession to the throne. At the time of Clarendon's fall, the Chancellor's enemies and successors, fearful lest his son-in-law should avenge him by compassing their overthrow, took counsel whether it were not possible to supplant James as heir presumptive of the King. Within a few years of the Restoration, rumours had even been afloat of the Duke's apprehension that Charles would recognise as legitimate his handsome young son, whom he created Duke of Monmouth ; and there was talk of attempts to extract from the King documents relating to him without the damaging epithets naturalis et ilkgitimus. But, however deeply such gossip may have infected Mon-mouth's ambitious dreams, it soon became evident that his father would give no countenance to schemes of the kind; and a more plausible means seemed to have been discovered in the project of obtaining for the King a divorce from his Queen and of remarrying him to a lady capable of bearing him lawful issue. The proceedings about the same time in Lord Roos' divorce case, which ended in 1670 by an Act of
Parliament dissolving his marriage, lent a practical interest to the notion, for which the divorce of Henry VIII might also furnish a precedent. Divines were consulted on the point; and about the year 1671 Gilbert Burnet, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, gave his opinion, at the instance of the Duke of Lauderdale, that a woman's barrenness was just cause for divorce or polygamy, and that polygamy was lawful according to the New Testament. Such was the talk at the Court of Charles II : talk that gained fresh force from the crisis of the Duke of York's marriage. As a practical suggestion, however, the idea of the King's divorce depended wholly upon the King, and Charles made it plain that he was not going to inflict this last insult upon his patient wife. Even when she was supposed to be mortally ill, the utmost drawn from him on the engrossing domestic subject was that, if he married again, the lady would have to be very, very beautiful. Charles was resolute not to be the cat's-paw of any party in his matrimonial affairs.
Thus it was that men's eyes turned overseas to the King's nephew, the grandson of Charles I, who was now guiding the policy of the Dutch Republic. William of Orange had taken over the machinery of de Witt's Government and consolidated in himself the power of the State ; moreover he had a high reputation in England. He had formed connexions with Sir William Temple, with Shaftesbury, William Howard, afterwards Lord Howard of Escrick, and Halifax, who composed the nucleus of an Orange party in Parliament ; and it was perhaps in his interest that the Earl of Carlisle, with the support of Halifax and Shaftesbury, introduced a motion into the Lords to restrict future royal marriages within the bounds of the Protestant religion, under penalty of incapacity to succeed to the throne. This motion was rejected with scorn ; but in the course of the year 1674 a great advance was made in the Prince's interest by the acceptance at Court of the idea of marrying to him the Duke of York's eldest daughter, Mary. Partisans of the Prince hit upon the scheme as one likely to afford them protection against the vengeance of the Duke. Charles, who in the spring had declined a second visit from William in order to please Louis, now that he had extracted a sufficient subsidy from his ally, conceived that a Protestant match would allay the excitement caused by the Modenese marriage and would guarantee him and to some extent his brother against the most dangerous political elements in the kingdom. Negotiations were accordingly begun without the knowledge of the Duke, who consented with as good a grace as possible to the project in which he thus found himself involved. Arlington, who was specially responsible for the scheme, and Ossory, the young son of the Duke of Ormond, went to the Hague in December to put the matter to the Prince ; but their mission was unsuccessful. To the proposal which Ossory made, William replied agreeably, but without assenting ; he was in the midst of war, he said; the Princess was very young, and he did not know whether he
The spectacle presented by the state of England at this juncture was deplorable. The policy of Dover appeared to have all but destroyed the stability of the kingdom. The factitious enthusiasm which had greeted the Restoration had long since died out. For the first seven years despite war, plague, fire, and some suspicion of the Government, the country had been quiet under the control of a Minister whose ideas were in sympathy, if not identical, with those of the majority of Englishmen. On his downfall the reins of policy were seized by the King, whose mind had been formed in a new time and on foreign soil, and who within seven more years brought the kingdom to the verge of disruption. Charles1 lassitude of temper concealed from his subjects the independence of intellect and pertinacity of character that drove him towards an absolutism detested by them. Yet such was his skill that the difficulties which crowded on the nation were ascribed less to him, their author, than to advisers, of whom certainly some had followed him with alacrity, but others had been wholly ignorant of the scope of his plans. The dissolution of the Cabal marks a turning-point in the King's policy. Charles was clever enough to see when the game was up. He had attempted to mount with the support of the Catholic revival to heights he saw occupied by his cousin across the Channel. He had failed, but he had at least concealed from his people his object and his failure in it. Now he dropped Catholicism as a political force for ever. His most useful weapon was still unimpaired : the neutrality of England was still necessary for the plans of France. He had been able to obtain from Louis a considerable price for freeing himself from the last pressure put on him by Parliament in the matter of the Dutch war. He now proceeded to use his freedom by following a new line, which, if successfully pursued, would place him in much the same position as that just abandoned.
In Sir Thomas Osborne, created successively Earl and Marquis of Danby, Charles had found a Minister of extraordinary capacity. Danby was the first man of his time to apply himself systematically to the problems of finance that underlie all administration, while he combined with this energy the talent for managing men and affairs that alone could make it effective. He invented, it may be said, government by machine. Bribery of members of Parliament was already known, having been first practised on a large scale by the Spanish ambassador Molina at the crisis of Clarendon's dismissal and occasionally resorted to by others ; but the art was not properly understood until Danby mastered, organised, and ruled by it. Numerous pensions and places existed which had hitherto been bestowed without thought of services to be rendered
This was no less than to place all possible opponents of the Crown in the position in which the Test Act had placed the Catholics : namely, to reduce them to impotence by obliging them either to accept office upon the Court terms or to remain incapacitated for ever by their exclusion from it. Under cover of his affection for the Church of England and his fear of "the pernicious designs of ill men," Charles was in a fair way, if he should be successful, to
For seventeen days the serried ranks of the Bishops waged unequal war with the keen eloquence of Shaftesbury, the wit and wisdom of Halifax, the terrible ridicule of Buckingham. Against the three most brilliant men in the kingdom they were ill-matched, supported though they were by the presence of Charles, who appeared regularly at the fireside of the House of Lords to watch the course of debate and was likened to the sun, blinding his opponents. If, however, the Court was worsted in argument, it was victorious in numbers ; and the Bill was passed and sent down to the Commons. Here the most violent scenes had in the meantime taken place. While the Test was being debated in the Lords, the Country party in the lower House, under the leadership of Lords Eussell and Cavendish, Sacheverell, Powle, Littleton, Sir William Coventry, and Colonel Birch, attacked Danby and put forward a popular policy to rival his. They demanded the recall of the English troops serving under the French flag abroad, the exclusion of Catholics from both Houses, the exclusion of placemen from Parliament, and refused to consider fresh legislation till they were satisfied. The excitement was
All parties, however, prepared with diligence for the autumn session, when it was known that the Country party contemplated pursuing its advantage with vigour. The Duke of York had received ,££0,000 from Louis for distribution, and had established an understanding with Shaftesbury. Van Beuningen, the Dutch, and Don Pedro Ronquillo, the Spanish ambassador, provided themselves with means for combating the influence of Ruvigny. Louis, who by his connexion with the Commons was striving to prevent Danby from becoming too strong, at the same time guarded himself against Charles being reduced to impotence by offering him £100,000 a year to dissolve Parliament, shoxild supply be refused except on condition of a breach with France. The death of Turenne in July was a terrible blow to his arms, and subsequent reverses rendered the goodwill of the English Government even more important to him than before. The session opened in the temper foreseen. Further proposals were made to suppress Popery. The Commons refused money for paying off anticipations on the revenue. Supply was only voted for the specific purpose of building ships. Fresh attempts were made to put an end to bribery of members by the Court. But Danby's strength was so great and the foothold of his combined opponents so precarious that, to stop further business, Shaftesbury managed to revive the dispute between the Houses in the case of Shirley, while at the same time he pressed for a dissolution. It was almost certain that a new Parliament would contain far more members hostile to the Court than the corrupt Cavalier Parliament. Charles replied to the proposal, to the discomfiture of its authors, by proroguing Parliament for the unprecedented period of fifteen months, from November, 1675, to February, 1677. Louis, though he had bargained for a dissolution, feared to arouse opposition at Court ; and Charles, who was so sure of his game that the first £100,000 had already been entered in his accounts, obtained his price without difficulty. When Danby refused to touch the accompanying agreement, he wrote out, signed and sealed it with his own hands. " King says, he had rather be a poor king than no king," is the pregnant phrase of a letter-writer
The year 1675, which saw the defeat of Danby's attempt at a perpetual endowment of the Anglican-Cavalier system, saw also the birth of the Whig party. In contracting his alliance with the parliamentary Opposition Ruvigny had frequent occasion to treat with a committee of Lords, containing Buckingham, Wharton, and, chief among them in vigour of intellect and character, Shaftesbury. From that time onwards Shaftesbury enjoyed a growing ascendancy over the opponents of Court policy. In the Lords he became their recognised leader; and the adoption of his demand for the dissolution of Parliament is evidence of his following in the Commons also. His unscrupulous force in pursuing his object enhanced the authority he had won by his acknowledged ability and impartiality as Lord Chancellor, while his object was capable of commanding support from all sections of the Opposition. Popery and slavery, in Shaftesbury's memorable phrase, went hand in hand ; and it was his work to combine men of all classes and characters to keep them out. If Danby invented the machine in government, Shaftesbury discovered the art of organising popular sentiment on a grand scale. The Green Ribbon Club, which was founded about this time by means of an extensive system of agents, agitators, and pamphleteers, gave the tone with increasing certainty to political feeling throughout the country, and during the next seven years played a part in English politics that can only be compared to that of the Jacobin club in France. The headquarters of the Green Ribbon Club were in the King's Head tavern at the bottom of Chancery Lane ; and of the club Shaftesbury was the president and the soul. The name Whig does not occur till some years later ; the thing was already in existence.
From Christmas, 1675, to the middle of 1677 Charles drew his allowance from Louis in regular quarterly instalments. When Parliament met at the beginning of the latter year, the Whigs despaired of obtaining any success in a House of Commons of which one-third was calculated to be in permanent employment under the Crown, and yet another third to wait-" like so many jackdaws for cheese " said Danby-for pay at the end of each session. The remaining third was in the pay of Louis, who in this session distributed among them nearly £3000. Therefore they adopted the extraordinary course of moving in both Houses that after so long a prorogation Parliament had ceased to have any legal existence. The statute of Edward III on which they rested their case, was manifestly obsolete, and their action only resulted in Shaftesbury, Buckingham, Salisbury, and Wharton being sent to the Tower for contempt of Parliament. After a few weeks the last three made submission and were released ; but Shaftesbury lay in prison for a year before he could bring himself to face the ordeal. " Thus," said Marvell, " a prorogation without precedent was warranted by an imprisonment without
The alliance with William came too late for Charles. Three years before it might have won him a national support ; but, now that the Opposition was committed equally by policy and by the secret receipt of money from Louis to attack the royal power, it could only lead to confusion more obscure than ever. Louis was willing to help Charles if he could avoid strengthening Danby ; Danby, to crush the Whigs if he could avoid supporting Louis ; the Whigs, to overthrow Danby at any cost. In February Charles, who had refused a large offer from Louis, obtained a vote of a million for a French war; but Louis' success in taking Ghent and Ypres, and the suspicion caused by the discovery of a secret article in the treaty of January, binding Charles and William to assist each other against their rebellious subjects, made the King recoil from risking a defeat that would place him in a position of inferiority. In May he signed another treaty with Louis, engaging to disband his army and dissolve Parliament in return for a huge subsidy, while at the same time Barillon entered into a strict alliance with the Whigs for the attainment of the same objects ; but on Louis' departing from the terms of peace he had offered to accept, Charles, to the horror of the Whigs, made instant preparations for continuing the war in close agreement with the Dutch.
Thus all parties in England had entered into engagements which they dared not fulfil. Each threatened, offered, retracted, and advanced again only to draw back, while each was in the dark as to the secret
The political atmosphere was electric. Since Charles' accession hardly a year had passed that was not surcharged with trouble and alarm, none in the last eight that was not full of horrible rumours due to the rift between a Protestant country which remembered the Gunpowder Plot and a Catholic Court which had planned LSie treason of Dover. Thus it is not strange that when Titus Oates, an Anglican clergyman who had been reconciled the year before to Home, came forward in August, 1678, to denounce a vast Jesuit conspiracy against the King's life and the Protestant religion, his tale of wild lies met with a degree of credence that later ages would perhaps have refused to it. Oates was afterwards shown to be a man of infamous character; but channels of communication were bad and suspect, and in those days news travelled slowly. He had actually spent some months in Jesuit colleges at Valladolid and Saint-Omer, and on his expulsion from the latter returned to England, to concoct, with the aid of local colour thus acquired and of a silly London parson, his information concerning the Popish Plot. The Pope, he declared, had commanded, and the Jesuits undertaken, a conquest of the kingdom ; an army of 20,000 men was ready under the orders of Lord Bellasis to carry it out ; London was again to be burned, the King assassinated, and the Duke of York also, unless he would consent to his brother's murder. In all the arrangements he had been, he said, a trusted emissary, and he had been present at a Jesuit "consult," held on April 24, 1678, at the White Horse tavern in the Strand, where means were concerted for disposing of Charles. Over a hundred conspirators, mostly Jesuits, were mentioned by name, the most prominent besides Lord Bellasis being the Lords Arundel of Wardour, Powis, Petre, and Stafford, Sir William Godolphin, who was ambassador in Spain, Mr Edward Coleman, and Sir George Wakeman, the royal physician.
With much mystery Oates contrived to bring his great " discovery "
From the moment when Charles, in 1673, cancelled his declaration of indulgence, the Catholics had nothing to hope from him. The more active among them turned to the Duke of York as their natural leader, and began to organise a party in his interest. They fought the Non-resisting Test hard, and congratulated themselves on its failure to establish the royal power. They hoped eagerly for the day when they should be supreme. Closely in touch with the Jesuits in England and France, Coleman laid the threads of a widespread intrigue, which can be traced up to the end of the year 1676, for filching the reins of power from the King by the aid of French money and support and placing them in the hands of his master, the Duke. When the unlucky secretary stood his trial for treason, his correspondence with Père de La Chaise was the heaviest evidence against him. What was concerted in these dark channels between 1676 and 1678 is unknown ; but there exist clear indications that the Jesuit activity did not cease. There was no " plot " in Gates' sense; but there was quite enough of plotting to cost men their heads under the English law of treason, and Titus evidently had some knowledge of the facts, which he embroidered to suit his own purpose.
When Oates was summoned before the Privy Council, he probably believed that he was about to be summarily got rid of. He therefore took the precaution to place his information beyond reach of the Court by leaving a sworn copy with Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, a London magistrate celebrated for having on a previous occasion resisted royal pressure in the popular cause. Intense excitement had already been caused by the arrest of the Jesuits and the rumours of Coleman's letters: it now swelled into a feverish panic, when on October 12 Godfrey disappeared, and when five days later his corpse was found in a field at the foot of Primrose Hill, transfixed by his own sword. It is certain that he was murdered, but not by robbers and in no common way. He had been strangled, his sword thrust through his heart after death, and his body brought from a distance and arranged where it was found so as to simulate the appearance of suicide. Whatever may be the true
The Whigs swept the country, though at an enormous cost in beer and gold ; and when the new Parliament met on March 6, 1679, it was found that the Government could count on a mere handful of twenty or thirty members in the Commons, as against a hundred and fifty in the old. Danby, who in the interval had been dismissed from office and, as compensation, been given a marquisate and, as security, a general pardon, took refuge from the impeachment by hiding at Whitehall. The Commons then proceeded against him by Bill of attainder. Four days before the Bill would have had effect, Danby appeared in the House of Lords and was committed to the Tower. There he remained for five years. He had done more than any man to consolidate the royal power ; his downfall gave an immense impetus to the attack of the Whigs upon it. Charles was left to govern alone.
It is beyond our purpose to disentangle here the confused intrigues which filled the next two bloody and panic-stricken years. Above the vulgar web of plot and counterplot, in which treacheries, perjuries, and forgeries were the tools of Catholic and Protestant alike, two figures stand out clear in the history of the time : the one of Shaftesbury, under cover of the Popish Plot levelling stroke after stroke at the Duke of York in the belief that, unless he were ruined, he would ruin England ; the other of Charles, maintaining his brother's defence, in the hope that through him he would save the rights of the Throne. From the first the King took the line of offering every possible concession, whether real or illusory, that was not vital to his interests. ' Within a few days of
Danby's imprisonment the Privy Council was remodelled on a scheme devised by Sir William Temple, by which he trusted to restore concord to the State. To prevent caballing the new council was to contain thirty members, instead of fifty, so as to deliberate in a single body ; it was to be rich, so as to have authority; it was to be half official and half popular, so as to hold the balance between different ideas. Charles welcomed the scheme, to the joy of its promoters ; to their yet greater joy he consented to include Halifax in the Council : but to their amazement he insisted upon naming Shaftesbury its president. In point of fact the King intended the Council to fail and soon made it impossible for the Whigs, who had already lost credit with their friends by serving, to remain upon it. Shaftesbury was dismissed in October : his chief supporters resigned three months later. But Halifax, nicknamed for his moderate policy "the Trimmer," remained, and with Essex and Sunderland the new Secretary of State, formed a coalition that obtained for them the name of " the Triumvirate."
Early in March, to avoid the storm brewing in Parliament, Charles had ordered his brother, much against his will, abroad to Brussels. On May 11, a Bill was introduced into the Commons " to disable the Duke of York to inherit the imperial crown of this realm." The Exclusion Bill was the work of Shaftesbury, and it dominated English politics for two years. On May 15 it was read for the first time; but on the 26th Charles, to stop its progress, first prorogued and afterwards dissolved his second Parliament, against the advice of his whole Council. One Act of this Parliament alone, the Habeas Corpus Act, is on the statute book ; and that only passed its third reading in the Lords because the Whig tellers in joke counted one very fat lord as ten.
The whole summer was hot with blood and excitement. In the seventeenth century the law, both in theory and in practice, was far less favourable to persons accused of crime, especially against the State, than it has come to be in a more humane age. Dissection of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses were arts unknown till a century later. Spies and parish constables took the place of professional police ; perjury was seldom detected ; and the whole administration of justice was coloured by the knowledge that the acquittal of a traitor might mean civil war. For the murder of Godfrey three innocent men were hanged. Six Jesuit fathers and three others were executed, chiefly owing to Oates' evidence, for treasons of which they were guiltless ; and in the early autumn began a number of prosecutions and convictions of priests throughout the country under a statute of Elizabeth which made it treason for a priest to be within the land. But in July the important trial of Sir George Wakeman resulted in the acquittal of Wakeman and his fellow-prisoners. So far little decisive evidence had been put forward by the defence at the trials, and it was almost due to chance that at Wakeman's a witness was called who proved Oates1 perjury beyond a doubt. Oates tried to bully
In August the King was taken violently ill at Windsor, and both sides eagerly prepared for the event of his death. While the Triumvirate summoned James in swift secrecy from Brussels and arranged for his proclamation as King, the Whigs planned insurrection. They were ready to seize the Tower, Dover Castle, and Portsmouth, to arrest the Duke's supporters ; and it was believed that a large force could have taken the field in a few days under the banner of Monmouth. Fortunately for the country, Charles recovered as quickly as he had been struck down, and before his brother arrived was out of danger. The rejoicing of those who saw how near the nation had been to a civil war exasperated the dismay of the Whigs. James returned to Brussels, but for a brief visit only : on October 7 it was announced in the Gazette that he would remove to Scotland, whither he proceeded after a triumphant reception in the City before the end of the month. Monmouth on the other hand was banished to Holland, and when at the end of November he returned without leave and insolently struck the bar sinister from his arms, the King refused to see him, deprived him of all his offices, and ordered him to quit London. Monmouth at length obeyed, but only to make the semi-royal progress through the West, that afterwards had such ill-fated results.
Charles' fourth Parliament had met on October 7, 1679. It was immediately prorogued, adjourned, and again prorogued to October, 1680. Charles had acted, as usual in matters of importance, without
At last the meeting of Parliament could be delayed no longer, and the Exclusion Bill was speedily introduced. To remove a source of disturbance, the King had forced his brother to withdraw again to Edinburgh, and, to James' horror, offered a compromise, known as " the Expedients," by which, when he came to the throne, he should retain the title of King, but forfeit all the power. Halifax viewed the Expedients with favour, but the Commons, taking their cue from Shaftesbury, rejected them with insult. Abhorrers were violently attacked, members expelled for discrediting the Plot, and on November 15, Russell, attended by a great company and " with a mighty shout," presented the Exclusion Bill to the Lords. Its passage was pressed with all the passion, the force, the eloquence of the famous Whig orators. Charles was present at the debate and witnessed the defection of Sunderland, who with the Duchess of Portsmouth had been moved by fear and bribes to join his enemies. When Monmouth urged Exclusion as the only means to safeguard the King's life, he broke in with a loud whisper, " the kiss of Judas." Treachery, fame, and eloquence seemed like to carry the day; but Halifax, in a superb effort, met them at every turn. He rose to speak fifteen or sixteen times, and it was due to his exertions that at nine o'clock in the evening,
One tragic success was scored by the angry Commons. On November 29, 1680, his sixty-ninth birthday, Lord Stafford was brought to the bar of the House of Lords on the charge of high treason made against him two years before by Oates, and after a trial of seven days was found guilty. The perjured evidence marshalled against him was so strong as to obtain a verdict that was not wholly partisan ; but, though Charles1 belief in Stafford's innocence had been shaken, the result was a political defeat that the King felt keenly. One month later Stafford was led to the scaffold; when the executioner showed his head to the crowd a howl of joy broke from their lips.
While the Whigs, who were again returned to Parliament with a powerful majority, pledged to demand the Exclusion, the Association, and the restriction of the King's right to prorogue and dissolve Parliament, rode down to Oxford with bands of armed retainers, the Government prepared likewise for the fray. Windsor Castle, the Tower, Lambeth Palace, and Whitehall were put in a state of defence ; and a regiment was posted along the Oxford road, for the event of the King being forced to retreat. From time to time during the last eighteen months Charles had been negotiating for a money-treaty with Barillon, and just before the dissolution had obtained what he wanted. For a sum of 12,500,000 francs, to be paid in the course of the next three years, he agreed to disengage himself from the Spanish alliance which he had concluded after his breach with Louis, and to prevent the interference of Parliament with the schemes of the French Government. The fear of Parliament compelled Louis to make Charles independent of his people. " If the King would be advised," said Halifax to Sir John Reresby, " it is in his power to make all his opponents tremble." Charles had in fact timed his stroke to perfection. The crisis of the struggle had arrived. He had obtained security on the side of finance at the precise moment when, unless he took the offensive, the day would be lost to him. The Parliament that now met (March 21) lived but a week, and it was his last. Charles offered
Within these two and a half years the long struggle that had filled the history of England since the dismissal of Clarendon had reached its culminating point. For ten years the King lived at odds with Parliament, the Commons striving to control the royal power, Charles to free it. Then the Country party, transformed by Shaftesbury into the Whig organisation, seized on the Popish Plot as a means to oust the King. Charles met them by a cool and Fabian strategy, always seeming on the point of defeat, and always driving them to greater violence, till their excesses had alienated the country and he could strike a decisive blow. He gave Parliament just enough rope to hang itself. Though belief in the Popish Plot was not yet dead, and though he could not save from the gallows the venerable Archbishop Plunkett, Catholic Primate of Ireland, who was convicted on perjured evidence for an alleged Irish Plot and executed on July 1, 1681, Charles was thenceforth secure. A policy of fierce retaliation on the Whigs was immediately carried out, while the nation looked on undisturbed ; the doctrine of " non-resistance " was pushed to its furthest limits ; Filmer's Patriarclia, written during the Civil War to maintain the divine right of kings, was published and favourably received ; and Dryden's magnificent satires, Absalom and Achitopliel and The Medal, gave lasting expression to the ideas that underlay the Tory reaction.
The first step of the Court was to safeguard itself in the City. A conviction for high treason was obtained at Oxford against Stephen College, a henchman of the Green Ribbon Club. But the City controlled the election of the London Sheriffs; the Sheriffs saw that Middlesex juries were composed of staunch Whigs ; and in the autumn, when a similar accusation was brought against Shaftesbury, the grand jury ignored the Bill. Shaftesbury had offered, if he were released without trial, to go into voluntary exile ; but, though Halifax, who was now the King's most influential adviser, strongly urged that his terms should be accepted, Charles said that he could not trust his great enemy's word and refused. So long as London remained Whig, Shaftesbury was unassailable. Accordingly, in the following year a formidable attack was begun on the self-governing corporation of the
City by means of a writ of Quo Warranto, brought in the Court of King's Bench and calling on the City to show cause why it should not forfeit its charter on account of abuse of its privileges. Once or twice before in the course of the reign the process had been made use of against corrupt boroughs : now it was systematically adopted for the purpose of rooting out self-government in England. The proceedings against the City charter, which were of immense length, only terminated in June, 1683 ; though the case for the Crown was in all respects weak and in some frivolous, judgment was entered against the City and the charter forfeited. Charles offered to restore it on his own terms, the chief being that he should have a veto on the election of the principal officers; the City accepted, then withdrew its acceptance, whereupon the King proceeded without more ado to nominate its officers directly. At the same time proceedings were instituted against the charters of other towns ; and, while some were forfeited, others were voluntarily surrendered. Early in 1682 Hereford surrendered its charter; Nottingham followed ; then York ; and as many as sixty-six cities and towns, whose charters were forfeited or remodelled, passed under the control of the Crown. The discredit of this momentous revolution fell chiefly upon Halifax ; but he seems not to have been specially responsible for the scheme.
Long before the fight for the charters was over, the stronghold of London was captured by the Tories. On Midsummer Day, 1682, by a combination of force and fraud the Lord Mayor, who had been won over by the Court, foisted two Tory Sheriffs on the City and, before the year was out, made sure that a Tory Mayor would succeed him. The Whig leader, and indeed all of prominence in the party, were at the mercy of the Crown, should they be prosecuted : their safety had lain in the certainty of a Whig panel ; and the return of the Duke of York to London and to office, the open defiance of the Test Act, and a renewal of the most rigorous persecution of dissenters by the triumphant Tories indicated the extent of the mercy that would be shown. Driven to desperation, the members of the Green Ribbon Club plotted open rebellion. A council of six, consisting of Monmouth, Essex, Russell, Algernon Sidney, Hampden, and Howard, with Shaftesbury as its president, debated plans for a general insurrection and a simultaneous movement under Argyll in Scotland, while a plot for the assassination of Charles and James was hatched by the old Cromwellians, Wildman, Rumbold, and Rumsey, and by Robert Ferguson, nicknamed "the Plotter." But everything was in confusion : those concerned had different ideas and different intentions ; their support was doubtful ; Monmouth, on a second Western tour, found the country-folk unwilling for war; Shaftesbury had lost his old mastery and, fearful of arrest at his house in Aldersgate Street, was skulking in the London slums. The pope-burning on November 17 had been named as a signal for the rising, and,
Meanwhile, the seizure of Strassburg by Louis in 1681 and the subsequent attack on Luxemburg had roused the fears of Europe to the highest degree, and strenuous efforts were made and backed by Halifax to obtain the cooperation of England against him. Charles, however, true to the policy that had won him success at home, took advantage of the crisis, while engaging in dilatory negotiations with the allies, to extort at the end of November, 1681, a million livres from Louis as the price of his neutrality. Halifax, the Duke of Ormond, and Danby, now released from the Tower, pressed him to summon Parliament; in 1683 Charles married Princess Anne of York to Prince George of Denmark, who, though in the French interest, was a Protestant ; but, although in the autumn of 1684 there was certainly talk of an arrangement between himself, Halifax, Monmouth, and the Prince of Orange against the Duke of York, Sunderland, and the French, it is doubtful whether he more than played with the scheme. But on February 2, 1685, Charles, being then fifty-four years old, was seized, as is now established beyond doubt, by an apoplectic fit. He lingered for some days, apologising for being such "an unconscionable time in dying," and on the 6th, after being received into the Roman Catholic Church by Huddlestone, the priest who had saved his life after the battle of Worcester, expired. Among his last words were: "Let not poor Nelly starve." The nation loved him well and mourned him long.
Charles IPs brilliant gifts, his love of pleasure, his indolent coolness amid the thrilling and tragic vicissitudes of his reign, while endearing his memory to many English people, have obscured the height of his political genius. At the time of his death he had, in fact, fully accomplished, by secret means and without the force destined to support it, the secular part of the policy into which he had entered at Dover nearly fifteen years before for the destruction of English liberties and the consolidation of his own power. He left to his brother a kingdom compact, loyal and prosperous, which James, in the attempt to carry out the religious side of the policy of that splendid treason, within four years turned
The new reign, however, began well. James' declaration that he would preserve, defend, and support " this Government, both in Church and State, as it is now by law established" was received with general satisfaction ; and it was certain that the Parliament summoned for May 19 would be overwhelmingly Tory. Meanwhile James, having made Rochester, the second son of Lord Chancellor Clarendon, Lord Treasurer, confirmed Sunderland as Secretary of State, and removed Halifax to the pompous position of Lord President of the Council, renewed through Barillon his brother's engagements to France and sent John, Lord Churchill, to Versailles to express his warm gratitude for Louis' support, which took the shape of an immediate gift of some o£?40,000 and large promises of help for the future. The King had thus security, as he thought, for the fulfilment of the religious schemes that had already been inaugurated. Mass was said at Whitehall with open doors, and the Catholics everywhere raised their heads in joyful expectation.
Before Parliament met, the new Government had already made its mark. On May 7, Titus Oates was indicted for perjury, convicted on two counts, and sentenced to be flogged from Aldgate to Newgate, and from Newgate to Tyburn. Though the sentence was carried out with the utmost brutality, Oates survived ; but Dangerfield, another perjurer, died of a similar whipping and of a subsequent assault by a savage Tory, who, to relieve the Government of odium, was himself hanged for murder. The signal was given for the persecution of dissenters; throughout the country the penal laws were sharpened against them, and Baxter, their revered and temperate chief, was bullied by Jeffreys, fined, and imprisoned. Parliament showed itself as favourably disposed as could be hoped. The Commons not only voted to James for life the whole of the revenue enjoyed by the late King, but an extraordinary supply of £400,000 ; the proceedings against Danby and the Catholic peers were terminated ; and a Bill reversing Stafford's attainder was well advanced,
Monmouth had heard in Holland the news of his father's death with dismay. His cousin William advised him to seek fame against the Turks, and he himself contemplated retiring into private life ; but the counsel of other exiles and of malcontents in England prevailed. While Argyll, in pursuance of the old Rye House plan, was to rouse the Highlands, Monmouth undertook to invade England as champion of freedom and Protestantism. On June 11, he landed with a small force at Lyme Régis, proclaimed himself King, and after some futile manoeuvring with raw country levies, attempted to surprise the royal troops under Lord Feversham, a nephew of the great Turenne, and Churchill, at Sedgmoor on the night of July 5. His men were scattered ; he fled, was captured, brought to London, and, being already attainted, was executed on Tower Hill on the 15th. James took his fill of revenge. After the battle Colonel Kirke, who had earned a vile reputation at Tangier, was let loose on the country with his regiment, known in ironical allusion to the emblem on their standard as "Kirke's Lambs." Then Jeffreys, accompanied by four judges, went on the western circuit to what have ever since been known as the " Bloody Assizes." A few examples were made in London ; in Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset 320 persons were hanged ; 84<1 transported ; one woman was beheaded ; one was burnt alive. There was plunder too: the Queen and her maids of honour trafficked in slaves and ransoms, and Jeffreys returned to London rich with the proceeds of the pardons he had sold. He was welcomed by the King, and in September was appointed Lord Chancellor in place of Lord Guilford, who had died in disgrace because of his protest against the proceedings of the King.
Three days before Sedgmoor Parliament had adjourned. When it met again on November 9, the spell of ecstatic loyalty, if not broken, was plainly weakened. Beneath the surface, the tendency of the Court and the horrors of-the rebellion were working a reaction. James had now an army of 20,000 men, largely quartered at Hounslow, for the maintenance of which the attempt on his throne would serve him as a pretext, while the deficiency of experienced Protestants warranted his officering it with Catholics. He hoped at the same time to abolish the militia, the only force which could, he conceived, be used against him. When Halifax urged that commissions to Catholics were illegal, he was dismissed from office and his name struck off the list of privy councillors. The King assured Barillon that, come what might, he should keep the army on foot. If he were to reign with the goodwill of his people, his need was, besides supply for the army, the repeal of the Test Act. But, while the Test Act was popular, a standing army was hated; and, a few days before Parliament met, came the news from over the channel that Louis, in the cause of political absolutism, had put the final
Catholic Elector Palatine was obliged, against his Prince's inclination, to open a chapel for Catholic service in the City ; and favours were showered on the obsequious Cartwright, the sycophantic Crew, the cautious and eloquent Sprat. When Dr Sharp, Dean of Norwich and Hector of St Giles' in the Fields, animadverted in a sermon on the motives of converts, James called on Compton to suspend him. Compton refused. James bethought him of using the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Crown to crush the rising resistance of the Church, and, disregarding the statute of 13 Charles II, cap. 12, on the pretext that it had only abolished the extraordinary powers of the Court of High Commission, constituted an Ecclesiastical Commission Court, to which he delegated all his disciplinary powers over the Church. Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to serve on the commission, which under the direction of Jeffreys and Sunderland immediately suspended Compton for refusing to suspend Sharp. But the King gained little from his victory. In face of his attack, the Church recovered the dignity of which she had lost something in the days of unquestioning subserviency. Compton became a popular hero, and a wag nicknamed the commission the " Congregatio de Propaganda Fide."
James' administration had reached a point where it was impossible to stand still. He must go either forward or backward, and there were no thoughts of turning back. The storm now broke on .Rochester. The Lord Treasurer, a convinced churchman, had shown himself adverse to the recent development of the royal policy ; and Sunderland, who possessed the complete confidence of the Queen and aimed at sole influence over the King, determined to get rid of him. Rochester was given his choice between conversion and dismissal, chose the latter, and left office. On January 7, 1687, the Treasury was put into commission ; and, a month later, Tyrconnel succeeded Clarendon at the head of the government in Ireland. The threat to the Church was unmistakable. Clarendon and Rochester were the King's brothers-in-law, his old personal friends, devoted to the monarchy, and among the most experienced servants of the Crown. It was evident that James, who professed to desire nothing but toleration, had dismissed them merely for being Protestants. The hubbub was great ; and, since he still hoped to obtain from Parliament the repeal of the Test Acts, he was forced to look for support in the country. Dryden went over, and produced his strange and beautiful poem, The Hind and the Panther ; yet, though lesser men went with him, it was clear that the number of conversions was not sufficient ; and the High Commission proved incapable of suppressing the numberless pamphlets put forth all over the country against Rome. But an alliance between all dissenters from the Church of England might perhaps break down its protecting walls. Toleration might be made to do further service. William Penn, the celebrated Quaker, had, since his return in 1684 from the colony that bears his name, been much at Court and had
Alone among the Powers of Europe, France had approved and encouraged the headlong course of the King of England. It was as much to Louis' interest as ever that England should remain neutral in the European situation, and he was well aware that a substantial agreement between James and his Parliament would probably mean her adherence to the Grand Alliance which William of Orange was forming against him. The League of Augsburg, formed in 1686 between the Empire, Spain, Sweden, and several German Princes, was countenanced by the austere and upright Pope, Innocent XI. All these, Catholic as well as Protestant, desired nothing so much as to see England united and peaceful. The envoys of the secular States backed Rochester against Sunderland and lamented his fall. William, who through his agent Dykvelt and by visits of both Burnet and Penn was in close touch with English opinion, advised that the King should obtain a general toleration from Parliament, without at the same time touching or dispensing with the tests. Had James, after a quiet administration for some years, acted on his advice, there can be little doubt that he would have succeeded amid the gratitude of Catholics and Protestants and enjoyed a long and prosperous reign. But his mind was dominated by Barillon, by Sunderland and by his Jesuit confessors, who under a strongly French bias ruined themselves and him and the whole body of English Catholics. By Pope Innocent his attitude was deeply reprobated. His impolitic zeal had previously evoked pontifical rebukes. His importunities in favour of his wife's relatives and of Petre, his favourite, met with procrastination and refusal. He sent as ambassador to Rome Lord Castlemaine, who was personally obnoxious and carried objectionable instructions. He forced the papal Nuncio in England, the suave Count d'Adda, into a compromising situation. He neglected the good of the Catholic Church, as seen by the Pope, with the obstinacy with which he neglected the good of his Crown, as seen by all his wisest statesmen. " All the advices sent from Rome," said Cardinal Howard, whose influence as Cardinal Protector of England the Jesuits felt bitterly, " were for slow, calm, and moderate courses. But he saw violent courses were more acceptable, and would probably be followed." His foresight was justified by the event.