Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

with France by means of Sir Ellis Leighton. The King took advantage of this step to sign a treaty more calculated to meet the public eye than his secret engagements.

In this, which was called the sham treaty, the sum granted for the King's declaring himself a Catholic was disguised under the form of a subsidy for the first year of the war. Some of his most favoured ministers were deceived by this artifice. Indeed the part taken by the members of the Cabal in forming this alliance was by no means equal. Clifford and Arlington conducted the secret negociation; Buckingham formed the second or sham treaty to which Lauderdale gave a ready, and Ashley a reluctant consent. *

Mr. Hume, not having had access to the papers published by Dalrymple before he wrote his history, has fallen into errors on the subject of this treaty, which he did not afterwards take the pains to correct. He represents the scheme of introducing arbitrary power and the change of religion into England, as the design of the ministry called the Cabal. He enters into a full description of their views, and proves that the end they pursued was blameable and pernicious,

* " Ashley Cooper asked time to consider." Dal. App. p. 69. He was afterwards one of the commissioners for signing the treaty.

and the means they were to employ impolitic and imprudent. After the publication of his history, however, he discovered fromDalrymple's papers, that only two of the rive counsellors who formed the Cabal, Arlington and Clifford, were admitted into the secret of the King's engagements. And -this confidence was placed in them, together with Lord Arundel and Sir Richard Bealing, because they were Roman Catholics. We might have expected that Mr. Hume would then have altered his view of this period, and described the scheme of establishing arbitrary power" as a design of the King, confided to his popish counsellors. But instead of this, he merely inserts the correction in a note, and endeavours to reconcile it with the text by saying, that in the sham treaty there was virtually involved the assuming absolute power in England; for the support of French troops, and a war with Holland, could mean nothing else. The support of French troops was not, I believe, stipulated in the sham treaty; and a war with Holland surely does not necessarily imply absolute power in England.

Sir John Dalrymple, with a more complete knowledge of the fact, has more deeply entangled himself in error. He tells us, " All parties in England concurred in condemning the second Dutch war; the Tories, because they thought they were removed from power to make way for it; and the Whigs, because Charles made the heads of their party the instruments of it at first, and intended in the end to sacrifice them to it." * Every one who has read the history of Charles II. knows that at this time there were neither Whigs ^nor Tories; that those whom Sir John Dalrymple calls Tories were not removed in order to make way for the Dutch war; and that Charles did not make the heads of those whom he calls Whigs the instruments of it at first, nor intended in the end to sacrifice them to it. The only colour for this passage is, that Shaftesbury, who was properly a popular leader, afterwards became eminent amongst the Whigs, and that Buckingham, who properly belonged to the court, was for some time in opposition.

January The King still wanted money, how1672. ever, to begin tire undertaking. This was obtained by a mode suggested by Sir Thomas Clifford. t The King's revenue had hitherto been farmed out to bankers, to whom he allowed eight or ten per cent. for advancing the money before the taxes were received. On a certain day the Exchequer was shut, and all

* Dal. Rev. of Brents, &c. p. 36.

f Evelyn. Vide p. 47. of this volume.

payments -stopt, a measure equivalent to seizing 3. million and a half of other men's * property. Another expedient was* attacking the Dutch Smyrna fleet as it passed through the Channel^ though the peace still subsisted. It was right and fitting that a war, undertaken to suppress liberty and in violation of justice, should begin by a fraudulent bankruptcy and a perfidious aggression. t

For some time, Charles seems- to have been successful in deceiving his parliament as to his real intentions. He had obtained from them a subsidy, under the pretence of supporting the triple alliance which was- used to crush one of its members^ He was thanked for allowing the laws to be put in force against dissenters, when, in fact, he had encouraged the violent churchmen to persecute, that indulgence might

* Burnet:. Gobbett's Pari. Hist; vol. iv. p. 1166.

f Speaking of the gallant and generous Ossory, Mr; Evelyn says, "One thing more let me note, that he often expressed to me the abhorrence he had of that base and unworthy action he was put upon of engaging the Smyrna' fleet in time of peace, in which, though he behaved himself like a great captain, yet he told me it was the only blot in hi6 life, and troubled him exceedingly. Though he was commanded, and never examined further when he was so, yethe never spoke of it without regret and detestation." V. i. 401.

afterwards be more acceptable to the sufferers. To complete his success he had raised troops, and appeared attended to the House of Parliament by his new guards, being the first instance, in history, of the sovereign's entering upon his legislative functions under the protection of the sword. *

But it was not to be expected that the King's practices with France should remain entirely secret. Colbert de Croissy communicated the intelligence to the French minister in Holland, by whom the information was made use of to induce Sweden to renounce her faithless ally. Puffendorf, the King of Sweden's minister, carried the story to De Witt, who we may readily believe confided the intelligence to other ears besides those of Temple. Reports of the most alarming nature were spread in England; and the nation saw with regret that the triple alliance was abandoned, in order to open the way for French ambition. Nevertheless it is probable that the parliament would have enabled Charles to prosecute the war against Holland, perhaps to her ruin, had he not precipitated his measures, and endeavoured to promote the second object of the alliance before the first was gained.

* Feb. 14. 1670. Ralph.

« ПредишнаНапред »