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be secured from a sham war which would soon be concluded, and leave the army at the King's disposal.
M Pursuant to these views Sir Gilbert
'Gerrard moved, on the 14th March, to address His Majesty to declare war against the French King. Lord Russell followed in these words: "The gentleman that spoke last has made a good motion. I hope in time we shall justify ourselves from the aspersion that we did not give the money sooner. I would set the saddle on the right horse, and I move that we may go into a committee of the whole House, to consider of the sad and deplorable condition we are in, and the apprehensions we are under of popery and a standing army; and that we may consider of some way to save ourselves from ruin." The motion for a committee of the whole House was carried; but a proposal to petition for the removal of those who had advised the answer to the address of the preceding May, was negatived, on a division, by a majority of five. The original address was then carried.
Sir John Reresby informs us that several speeches were made in the House on this day, fraught with jealousies and fears: nor was this wonderful. Lord Danby was at this time endeavouring to obtain money from France for his royal master; and he himself informs us in his letters, that every thing sent to the French ministers was. known in England in ten days.*
The Commons, in their address, took notice of the money bill which had passed, and prayed the King to declare war, and recall his ambassadors from Nimeguen and from France: "That "Your Majesty being publicly disengaged from "acting as a mediator," they continue, "or "upon such terms and conditions as were then "proposed, Your Majesty may enter into the "war to no other end, than that the said French "King may be reduced into such a condition, "as he may be no longer terrible to Your "Majesty's subjects; and that Christendom "may be restored to such a peace as may not "be in the power of the French King to dis"turb." t No one will deny that such a proposal was just and reasonable. In fact, it was no other than one which had been made to the King by Temple several months before, and on the rejection of which he had refused the embassy to Holland.! Had it even now been adopted, there can be little doubt that the popularity of government would have risen to a height that might have swept away every
* Danby's Letters. f March 15.
X Temple's Works, vol. i. folio, p.
obstacle. The party in Holland, which reproached the Prince of Orange with the faithlessness of Charles, would have sunk before this proof of his sincerity, and the King of England would have appeared in his proper station, directing the energies, and disposing of the revenue, of a powerful nation, against her inveterate enemy. But such glory was not the sphere of Charles. Amidst all the changes and inconsistencies of man, it may be remarked, that there is seldom, if ever, a transition from duplicity to candour, and from base intrigue to honourable conduct. Charles had navigated too long in creeks and shallows, to venture with boldness and resolution upon the open sea. The address of the Commons was sent to the Lords for their concurrence, and was suffered to lie on their table. The King took no notice of it, and gave no proof of his sincerity in the cause of the allies. Mr. Hume, in one place, endeavours to justify his conduct, on the ground that his father had been led into a war, and then denied the supplies necessary to carry it * on. But if this is any defence for Charles, how much more reasonable were the suspicions of the Commons, who, only seven years before, had voted a supply to support the triple alliance, at
* Vol. viii. p. 24.
a time when a peace was made secretly with France.
In the course of this' month Lord Russell received the following note from his wife, indorsed by him, "Match yc —1677-8, while the House was sitting." I know not to what it refers.
"My sister being here tells me she overheard "you tell her Lord last night, that you would ** take notice of the business (you know what ** 1 mean) in the House: this alarms me, and I "do earnestly beg of you to tell me truly if you "have or mean to do it. If you do, I am most "assured you will repent it. I beg once more "to know the truth. 'Tis more pain to be in "doubt, and to your sister too, and if I have "any interest, I use it to beg your silence in "this case, at least to-day. R. Russell."
An adjournment of the Commons now took place: the negociations with Holland and France were renewed; and the Prince of Orange was obliged reluctantly to consent that Valenciennes, Tournay, and Conde, should remain in the hands of France; terms which he thought destructive to the safety of Europe. In proposing these terms to France, Charles asked for six millions of livres for himself for three yeai-s, as the price of his good offices. Lewis, finding that the confederates had consented to such low terms, which showed they had no reliance on the professions of the English court, resolved to make the most of his advantage. He ordered his ambassador at Nimeguen to publish a declaration, insisting on still more favourable conditions of peace, and insinuating an understanding with the King of England. Charles was really provoked, at finding himself thus outwitted, at the expense both of his money and his character: but confidence is not the creature of a day. When he attempted to make a treaty with Holland, her ambassador, after a preliminary negociation, owned he had no powers to conclude. Parliament, when they met, acted with the same distrust. The treaties having been laid before them, they were voted to be not pursuant to the addresses of the House, nor consistent with the good and safety of the kingdom. A peevish vote, as Sir William Temple calls it, on the subject of religion was carried; and after some close divisions, addresses were voted to remove evil counsellors, generally,