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through these suspected channels. I shall not deny, therefore, that an intercourse took place between Lord Russell and Rouvigny; although it is very probable that Barillon, in repeating from Rouvigny the substance of these interviews, represented them as much more favourable to his master than they really were. But I trust that an account of the whole matter will show that nothing took place derogatory to the public virtue or private honour of Lord Russell.
The first thing to consider, is the time at which the intercourse took place; for any political intercourse whatever with an agent of France would, in ordinary times, be, to say the least, extremely improper. But this was a period of extreme danger to the English constitution. The King, who was known to entertain sentiments hostile to the liberty of his people, was about to raise an army, under the pretence of a French war, but in reality, as it was supposed, to subjugate his own country. That these fears were not idle fancies, appears from the best authorities. Sir John Reresby, a professed courtier, says, a jealousy was entertained "that the King indeed intended to raise an army, but never designed to join with the war; and to say the truth, some of the King's own party were not very sure of the contrary." Lord Dauby, the prime minister, writes to the Prince of
Orange, on Feb. 9- in these words: "The Parliament has now voted 26,000 foot and 4000 horse and dragoons; and I am confident will not stop there, in case His Majesty will go freely into the war, which yet they all doubt, and Not Without Cause." Two months afterwards Barillon writes, «* The Duke of York believes himself lost as to his religion, if the present opportunity does not serve to bring England into subjection: 'tis a very bold enterprise, and the success very doubtful. I believe they have persuaded this Prince that a war is more proper to accomplish his design than peace." * The views of Lord Danby, he says, tended solely to procure money and increase his master's authority. And though the King still wavered, and his humour was very repugnant to the design of changing the form of government, he was nevertheless drawn along by the Duke and Treasurer.!
These quotations prove that those who were most in the confidence of Charles were ignorant of his real intentions, and that the Duke of York looked upon the war as an opportunity
* Dal. App. p. 143.
f Dal. App. ibid. I only quote this dispatch, to show the general views of the court. The date is of the 18th of April.
VOL. I. I
for establishing his favourite religion and arbitrary government. The opposition, on the other hand, warned, as we have seen*, by Algernon Sydney, and in possession of early information with respect to what was passing at Paris, entertained a suspicion that Lewis was acting in concert with Charles, for the destruction of that liberty which was dearer to them than their lives. Above all, they dreaded that the House of Commons, which, in the course of seventeen years, had been corrupted by bribery, would go into the schemes of the court, and blindly hasten the subversion of the constitution. In this dilemma they saw no chance of safety but in a dissolution.
Lewis, on the other hand, equally distrustful of Charles, resolved to obstruct his movements, by a connection with the popular party in England. D'Avaux, the French minister at the Hague, represented to the opposition leaders, by means of Algernon Sydney, that the union of the King of England with the Prince of Orange would prove destructive to the liberty of both countries: and M. de Rouvigny was sent over with money, which, according to the information of Montague, the ambassador at Paris, "by means of William Russell, and other discontented people, he was to distribute in Parliament."
Did we know no more than this, it might be -suspected that Lord Russell had lent himself to the worst species of corruption. Happily, however, the dispatches of Barillon dispel all doubts upon this subject. M. de Romigny, being first cousin to Lady Russell, a circumstance we ought always to bear in mind, easily obtained March an interview with Lord Russell. He 1758. appears to have seen Lord Hollis at the same time. The substance of their conversation is thus reported by Barillon. "M. de Rouvigny a vu Milord Roussel et Milord Hollis, qui ont été tous deux fort satisfaits de l'assurance qu'il leur a donnée, que le roi est bien convaincu qu'il n'est point de son intérêt de rendre le Roi d'Angleterre maître absolu dans son royaume, et que sa Majesté vouloit travailler à la dissolution de ce parlement dès que le tems y paroitroit favorable: Milord Roussel lui a dit, qu'il engagerait Milord Shafbery dans cette affaire, et que ce seroit le seul homme à qui il en parleroit clairement; et qu'ils travailleraient sous main, à empêcher qu'on augmentât la somme qui a été offerte pour faire la guerre, et qu'ils feraient ajouter à l'offre d'un million de livres sterlings, des conditions si désagréables pour le Roi d'Angleterre, qu'ils espéroient qu'il aimeroit mieux se réunir avec la France, que d'y consentir. Il témoigna à M. de Rouvigny, qu'il soupçonnoit que
sa Majesté trouvoit bon que le Roi d'Angleterre lui déclarât la guerre pour avoir de l'argent, avec promesse que dés qu'il en seroit le maitre, ill conclurroit la paix. M. de Rouvigny lui dit, que pour lui faire voir le contraire bien clairement, j'étois prêt à répandre une somme considerable dans le parlement, pour l'obliger à refuser absolument de l'argent pour la guerre, et le sollicita de lui nommer des gens qu'on pût gagner. Milord Roussel répondit, qu'il seroit bien fâché d'avoir commerce avec des gens capables d'être gagnes par de l'argent; mais il lui parût forte aisé d'être assûré par cette proposition, qu'il n'y a entre votre Majesté et le Roi d'Angleterre nulle intelligence qui puisse préjudicier à leur gouvernement: il dit à M. de Rouvigny, que lui et tous ses amis ne souhaitoient autre chose que la cassation du parlement; qu'ils savoient qu'elle ne pouvoit venir que du côté de la France; que puisqu'il les assûroit que c'étoit le dessein de sa Majesté d'y travailler, ils se voyoient obligés de se bien fier en lui, et faire tout leur possible pour obliger le Roi d'Angleterre à rechercher encore une fois son amitié, et mettre par ce moyen sa Majesté en état de contribuer à leur satisfaction." *
» Barillon, March 14.
"M. de Rouvigny has seen Lord Russeli and Lord Hollis, who more fully satisfied with the assurance he gave thcna>