« ПредишнаНапред »
THE RESTORATION ADMINISTRATION OF CLARENDON
AND SOUTHAMPTON. THE CHARACTERS OF THE
KING, THE DUKE OF YORK, AND THE CABAL DESIGNS OF THE KING AND DUKE. TREATIES WITH
FRANCE. MISTAKE OF MR. HUME. BEGINNING OF
THE SECOND DUTCH WAR. — OPPOSITION IN PARLIAMENT.— TEST ACT. — SHAFTESBURY JOINS OPPOSITION. HIS CHARACTER. WAR BECOMES UNPOPULAR.
— PEACE WITH HOLLAND. RUIN OF THE CABAL.
The restoration of Charles II. was hailed by all classes of people with unbounded joy. A change of opinion so complete has called forth a charge of fickleness against the English character from one of the lightest, and gayest writers of a nation often reproached for levity and inconstancy. * It may, however, be more honourably accounted for; the revolution in the state, like some disorders in the body, had worked its own cure. The opposition which Charles I. made to his people, when asking for their legal rights, produced a party who set no just bounds to their pretensions. The king's violence became the cause of a civil war, and
* Hamilton, Mfemoiret de Gramniont.
his insincerity prevented any hope of peace. On the other hand, the army which the people had been obliged to raise in defence of justice and freedom, finally overturned both by aiding the expulsion of the parliament, the execution of the king, and the elevation of Cromwell. But an authority so irregular could not long maintain itself in England, and the Protector was no sooner dead than the people openly showed their longing for the restoration of the ancient constitution. The artifices of Monk, and their own tumultuous joy, unfortunately hindered the nation from listening to those who advised them to secure the rights for which so much blood had been shed. The calamities of civil war were mingled in their minds with constitutional privileges.
In this temper the people willingly obeyed the voice of the royalists, and echoed the prejudices to which, twenty years before, they had refused a hearing. And though the king and his minister did not entirely abstain from acts of vengeance, no sympathy could be excited in favour of those who were looked upon as the authors of the late troubles. Yet in the joy of new power, the professions of the sovereign were plausible and constitutional. "I shall not propose to myself," he said, "any one rule in my actions and counsels, than this, 'What is a parliament like to think of this action or this counsel?' and it shall be a want of understanding in me, if it will not bear that test." *
For some years the prudence of Clarendon, who neither tried to make his master independent of parliament nor refused promotion to .thosjs who had raised themselves during the commonwealth; and the integrity of Southampton, who presided over the treasury with exemplary vigilance, preserved the balance of the government. But the death of the latter, and disgrace of the former minister, gave free scope to the favourites and the inclinations of the king.
Charles II., in the station of a private gentleman, would have been universally liked.. Few men had such captivating manners, and no man ever united wit and good-nature in society to a greater degree. He had a natural kindness of temper which influenced his moral conduct, and prevented his becoming the oppressor of his queen, when he could not be constant to her; nor was his inclination for women gratified with so much contempt of virtue as of decency. His mistresses appear to have been
all ready to err, even though their tempter had not worn a crown. * No unsuspecting innocence was betrayed; no conjugal felicity was destroyed by his amours. During the latter part of his life, he lived with women rather to indulge indolence than to gratify desire. His brother the Duke of York, and his son the Duke of Monmouth, had equal reason to be grateful for his indulgence. Though the one was the cause of all his troubles, and the other helped to foment them, his behaviour was in almost every instance kind and affectionate.
But the cares and duties of a throne were fitted to expose the defects of Charles in the most glaring light. It was evident, that he was indolent, mean, false, unprincipled, and selfish. . The most important affairs could not make him active; the most solemn engagements, true; the most shameful proposals could not rouse his pride, nor the affection of a great people induce him to sacrifice the least and lowest of his pleasures. He wasted a capacity for which the mighty cares of government afforded ample scope in the
* " If love prevailed with hiin more than any other passion, he had this for excuse, besides that his complexion was of an amorous sort, the women seemed to be the aggressors; and I have since heard the king say, they would sometimes offer themselves to his embrace." Reresby, p. 165.
sciences of chemistry and mechanics which he could not forward; and he lowered the character of his country abroad, that he might establish a despotism at home.
It is certain that adversity had not improved the character of Charles. Surrounded by his father's old friends, who had suffered from a popular revolution, he learnt to esteem his own authority too highly, and to regard with suspicion and aversion the inclinations of his people. The want of money and of consideration abroad led him into a vagabond course of life, and obliged him to practise the arts of a courtier, when he ought to have maintained the dignity of a sovereign. Whilst those immediately about him persuaded him that he was king of England by Divine right, he could not go out of this narrow circle without encountering the rebuffs of Cardinal Mazarin or Don Lewis de Haro.
His residence in Scotland had disgusted him with religious fanaticism. He is said to have reconciled himself to the church of Rome at Paris some years before the Restoration; but, however that may be, it is certain that the little religion he possessed was Roman Catholic.
The character of the Duke of York was essentially different from that of his brother. Charles was quick, fickle, and indolent; James