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House of Commons had passed the act for a supply, Lord Danby wrote to Paris, that Charles expected six millions yearly from France. Had Lewis been sincere in the project of making Charles absolute, there can be no doubt that it might have been easily accomplished. Was not this sufficient to justify the popular party in attempting to turn the battery the other way? The question was not, whether to admit foreign interference, but whether to direct foreign interference already admitted to a good object. The conduct of Lord Russell, therefore, was not criminal; but it would be difficult to acquit him of the charge of imprudence. The object of Lewis must have been, by giving hopes to each party in turn, to obtain the command of both. Charles, on the other hand, was ready to debase himself to the lowest point to maintain his alliance with France; any suspicion, therefore, of a connection between Lewis and the popular party would have rendered him more and more dependent, till the liberties of England might at last have been set up to auction at Versailles.
What I have said relates only to the first interview : as for the second, upon which so much stress has been laid by Dalrymple, it was only an awkward attempt to persuade Lewis to declare war conformably to the wish of the English people, and in direct opposition to his own interest and inclination.
An undue weight has been attached to the interviews between the leaders of the popular party and M. de Rouvigny. Even Mr. Laing, whose research generally leads him to the truth, supposes that the dangerous schemes of the court were defeated by the connection between the popular party and France. They were defeated, or at least retarded, it is true, by the conduct of opposition; but that conduct was the result of their own suspicions and the advice of Sydney. Whoever will take the trouble to read over the dispatches of Barillon, will see that the party not only would enter into no engagements, but that they did not move a hair's breadth out of their path, in consequence of the mission of Rouvigny.
Mr. Hume concludes his remarks on this subject, with saying, that the conduct of Lord Russell was merely factious. With deference to him, it was either criminal or innocent, wise or imprudent, but by no means factious. The party with which he acted was not a faction, but a body attempting to save the constitution in its utmost need. But the Tory prejudices of Mr. Hume, combined with his philosophical tranquillity, have induced him to blame every appearance of zeal for liberty, and to condemn as factious every attempt to retard, what he has called, the Euthanasia of our Constitution.
The charge of receiving money from France, in which Lord Russell is no way implicated, relates to a different year, and shall be discussed in its proper place.
Popish Plot.—Coleman's Letters.—Motions Against
The Duke Op York. Impeachment Op Lord Danby.
Prorogation And Dissolution Of Parliament.
Letter Of Lord Russell.
Xhe Opposition at this time seem to have'almost despaired of the cause of liberty. Many of them had thoughts of withdrawing altogether from public affairs. For, in spite of all their efforts, the King had been able both to maintain his friendship with France, and to delay disbanding the army which had been raised to oppose her. But at this time an event occurred which baffled all the powers of foresight, and seems for a time to have suspended the faculty of judgment. I Sept. allude to the discovery of the Popish 1678. pi0l. which, although its credit rested almost entirely upon the attestations of infamous and despicable men, to vague, improbable, and ridiculous stories, yet having some foundation in truth, and falling in with the prevailing fears of the nation, cost the lives of many considerable men, and had nearly disturbed the regular succession of the throne.
A detailed history of this plot does not enter into my plan. But although the charge is now withdrawn, it is right to mention such circumstances as serve to exculpate the country party from the guilt of inventing this story, for the purpose of taking away the lives of the innocent. This accusation is easily disproved: nay, so far is it from the truth, that the plot was brought to light by Lord Shaftesbury and his friends, that it might have been suppressed but for the following circumstance. The Duke of Buckingham, who was a great enemy of Lord Danby, had been long banished from Court, but had lately been privately admitted to kiss the King's hand at Chiffinch's. Upon being informed of the circumstance by the Duke of York, Danby expressed great indignation at the King's want of firmness to stand by his friends. From this time he expected to be supplanted by Buckingham in the royal favour, and he became proportionably anxious to obtain the good opinion of the country. The enquiry into the plot, he seems to have thought, would serve both to show his zeal for the Protestant religion, and to divert the attention of Parliament from his own impeachment. With this view, he advised the King to go to Newmarket, and leave to his council the unravelling of this mysterious business. And as soon as Parliament assembled, he, contrary to the wish and express