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so chimerical, that they could scarcely be retained CHAP: with such obstinacy by a Prince of Charles's pene. LXIX. tration : And as to pecuniary subsidies, he surely
1685 spent much greater sums in one season, during the second Dutch war, than were remitted him from France during the whole course of his reign. I am apt therefore to inagina, that Charles was in this particular guided chiefly by inclination, and by a prepossession in favour of the French nation. He considered that people as gay, sprightly, polite, elegant, courteous, devoted to their Prince, and attached to the catholic faith; and for these reasons he cordially loved them. The opposite character of the Dutch had rendered them the objects of his aversion; and even the uncourtly humours of the English made him very indifferent towards them. Our notions of interest are much warped by our affections, and it is not altogether without example, that a man may be guided by national prejudices, who has ever been little biassed by private and personal friendship.
THE character of this Prince has been elaborately drawn by two great masters, perfectly well acquainted with him, the Duke of Buckingham and the Marquis of Halifax; not to mention several elegant strokes given by Sir William Temple. Dr, Welwood likewise and Bishop Burnet have employ. ed their pencil on the same subject : But the former is somewhat partial in his favour; as the latter is by far too harsh and malignant. Instead of finding an exact parallel between Charles II. and the Emperor Tiberius, as asserted by that prelate, it would be more just to remark a full contrast and opposition. The Emperor seems as much to have surpassed the King in abilities, as he falls short of him. in virtue. Provident, wise, active, jealous, malignant, dark, sullen, unsociable, reserved, cruel, unrelenting, unforgiving ; these are the lights under which the Roman tyrant has been transmitted to
CHA P. us. And the only circumstance in which it can justly LXIX. be pretended he was similar to Charles, is his love of
women, a passion which is too general to form any 1685.
striking resemblance, and which that detestable and detested monster shared also with unnatural appetites.
King's first Transactions.- A Parliament. Argu
ments for and against a Revenue for Life.-Oates convicted of Perjury.- Monmouth's Invasion - his Defeat — and Execution.- Cruelties of Kirke -- and of Jefferies. --State of Affairs in Scotland.--Argyle's Invasion-Defeat and Execution.--A Parliament.
French Persecutions. The dispensing Power. State of Ireland.— Breach betwixt the King and the Church.-Court of Ecclesiastical Commission. -Sentence against the Bishop of London. --Suspension of the Penal Laws.—State of Ireland.- Embassy to Rome. - Attempt upon Magdalen College. — Imprisonment-Trial and Acquittal of the Bishops. --Birth of the Prince of Wales.
THE first act of James's reign was to assemble CHAP,
the privy council ; where, after some praises, LXX. bestowed on the memory of his predecessor, he
1685. made professions of his resolution to maintain the established government, both in Church and State, Though he had been reported, he said, to have imbibed arbitrary principles, he knew that the laws of England were sufficient to make him as great a monarch as he could wish ; and he was determined never to depart from them. And as he had hereto. fore ventured his life in defence of the nation, he P4
CHAP. would still go as far as any man in maintaining all its LXX. just rights and liberties.
This discourse was received with great applause, 1685.
not only by the council, but by the nation. The King universally passed for a man of great sincerity and great honour; and as the current of favour ran at that time for the court, men believed that his intentions were conformable to his expressions. “We " have now,” it was said, “ the word of a King; and as a word never yet broken." Addresses came from all quarters, full of duty, nay of the most servile adu. lation. Every one hastened to pay court to the new monarch: And James had reason to think, that, notwithstanding the violent efforts made by so potent a party for his exclusion, no throne in Europe was better established than that of England."
The King, however, in the first exercise of his authority, shewed, that either he was not sincere in his professions of attachment to the laws, or that he had entertained so lofty an idea of his own legal power, that even his utmost sincerity would tend very little to secure the liberties of the people. All the customs and the greater part of the excise had been settled by parliament on the late King during life, and consequently the grant was now expired; nor had the successor any right to levy these branches of revenue. But James issued a proclamation, ordering the customs and excise to be paid as before ; and this exertion of power he would not deign to qualify by the least act or even appearance of condescension. It was
The quakers' address was esteemed somewhat singular for its plainness and simplicity. It was conceived in these terms : “We “ are come to testify our sorrow for the death of our good friend “ Charles, and our joy for thy being made our governor. We are “ told thou art not of the persuasion of the church of England, no “ more than we : Wherefore we hope thou wilt grant us the same “ liberty which thou allowest thyself. Which doing, we wish of thce all manner of happiness,"
om the merchen and bonds for these duties,
: proposed to him, that, in order to prevent the ill CHAP.
effects of any intermission in levying these duties, LXX. entries should be made, and bonds for the sums be taken from the merchants and brewers : But the
1685. payment be suspended till the parliament should give authority to receive it. This precaution was recommended as an expression of deference to that assembly, or rather to the laws: But for that very reason, probably it was rejected by the King, who thought, that the commons would thence be invited to assume more authority, and would regard the whole revenue, and consequently the whole power of the crown, as dependent on their good will and pleasure.
The King likewise went openly, and with all the ensigns of his dignity, to mass, an illegal meeting : And by this imprudence he 'displayed at once his arbitrary disposition, and the bigotry of his principles : Those two great characteristics of his reign, and bane of his administration. He even sent Caryl, as his agent to Rome, in order to make submissions to the Pope, and to pave the way for a solemn re-admission of England into the bosom of the catholic church. The Pope, Innocent the XIth, prudently advised the King not to be too precipitate in his measures, nor rashly attempt what repeated experience might convince him was impracticable. The Spanish Ambassador, Ronquillo, deeming the tranquillity of England necessary for the support of Spain, used the freedom to make like remonstrances. He observed to the King, how busy the priests appeared at court, and advised him not to assent with too great facility to their dangerous counsels. " Is it not the custom in Spain," said James, “ for the King to consult with his .66 confessor ?” “ Yes,” replied the ambassador, 55 and it is for that very reason our affairs succeed 66 so ill.”