Page images

3 In all its other parts the plan of the Cabal, it must CHAP. be confessed, appears equally absurd and incongrous. LXVI. If the war with Holland were attended with great

1674 success, and involved the subjection of the republic; such an accession of forcę must fall to Lewis, not to Charles : And what hopes afterwards of resisting by the greatest unanimity so mighty a monarch! How dangerous, or rather how ruinous, to depend upon his assistance against domestic discontents! If the Dutch, by their own vigour, and the assistance of allies, were able to defend themselves, and could bring the war to an equality, the French arms would be so employed abroad, that no considerable reinforcement could thence be expected to second the King's enterprises in England. And might not the project of overawing or subduing the people be esteemed, of itself, sufficiently odious, without the aggravation of sacrificing that State, which they regarded as their best ally, and with which, on many accounts, they were desirous of maintaining the greatest concord and strictest confederacy ?

WHATEVER views likewise might be entertained of promoting by these measures the catholic religion ; they could only tend to render all the other schemes abortive, and make them fall with inevitable ruin upon the projectors. The catholic religion, indeed, where it is established, is better fitted than the protestant for supporting an absolute monarchy; but would any man have thought of it as the means of acquiring arbitrary authority in England, where it was more detested than even slavery itself?

It must be allowed, that the difficulties, and even inconsistencies, attending the schemes of the Cabal, are so numerous and obvious, that one feels at first an inclination to deny the reality of those schemes, and to suppose them entirely the chimeras of calumny and faction. But the utter imposibility of accounting, by any other hypothesis, for those strange measures embraced by the court, as well as for the

B 2


CHAP. numerous circumstances which accompanied them, LXVI. obliges us to acknowledge (though there remains 1674.

no direct evidence of it') that a formal plan


• Since the publication of this History, the author has had occasion to see the most direct and positive evidence of this conspiracy. From the urbanity and candour of the Principal of the Scotch College at Paris, he was admitted to peruse James the Second's Memoirs, kept there. They amount to several volumes of small folio, all writ with that Prince's own hand, and comprehending the remarkable incidents of his life, from his early youth till near the time of his death. His account of the French alliances is as follows: The intention of the King and Duke was chiefly to change the religion of England, which they deemed an easy undertaking, because of the great propensity, as they imagined, of the cavaliers and church party to popery: The treaty with Lewis was concluded at Versailles in the end of 1669, or beginding of 1670, by Lord Arundel of Wardour, whom no historian mentions as having had any hand in these transactions. The purport of it was, that Lewis was to give Charles 200,000 pounds a year, in quarterly payments, in order to enable him to settle the catholic religion in England ; and he was also to supply him with an army of 6000 men in case of any insurrection. When that work was finished, England was to join with France in making war upon Holland. In case of success, Lewis was to have the inland provinces, the Prince of Orange Holland in sovereignty, and Charles, Sluice, the Brille, Walkeren, with the rest of the sea-ports as far as Mazeland Sluice. The King's project was first to effect the change of religion in Eng. land; but the Dutchess of Orleans, in the interview at Dover, persuaded him to begin with the Dutch war, contrary to the remonstrances of the Duke of York, wlso insisted that Lewis, after serving his own purposes, would no longer trouble himself about England. The Duke makes no mention of any design to render the King absolute ; but that was, no doubt, implied in the other project, which was to be effected entirely by royal authority. The King was so zealous a papist, that he wept for joy when he saw the prospect of re-uniting his kingdom to the catholic church.

Sir John Dalrymple has since published some other curious particulars with regard to this treaty. We find, that it was concerted and signed with the privity alone of four popish counsellors of the King's, Arlington, Arundel, Clifford, and Sir Richard Bealing.

The secret was kept from Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale. In order to engage them to take part in it, a very refiried and a very mean artifice was fallen upon by the King. After the secret conclu. sion and signature of the treaty, the King pretended to these three ministers, that he wished to have a treaty and alliance with France for mutual support, and for a Dutch war; and when various pretended obstacles and difficulties were surmounted, a sham treaty


was laid for changing the religion, and subverting CHAP. the constitution of England, and that the King and LXVI. the ministry were in reality conspirators against the

1674 people. What is most probable in human affairs, is not always true; and a very minute circumstance, overlooked in our speculations, serves often to explain events, which may seem the most surprising and unaccountable. Though the King possessed penetration and a sound judgment, his capacity was chiefly fitted for smaller matters, and the ordinary occurrences of life; nor had he application enough to carry his view to distant consequences, or to digest and adjust any plan of political operations. As he scarcely ever thought twice on any one subject, every appearance of advantage was apt to seduce him; and when he found his way obstructed by unlooked-for difficulties, he readily turned aside into the first path, where he expected more to gratify the natural indolence of his disposition. To this versatility or pliancy of genius, he himself was inclined to trust; and he thought, that after trying an experiment of enlarging his authority, and altering the national religion, he could easily, if it failed,

was concluded with their consent and approbation, containing every article of the former real treaty, except that of the King's change of religion. However, there was virtually involved even in this

treaty, the assuming of absolute government in England: For the
support of French troops, and a war with Holland, so contrary to
the jaterests and incligations of his people, could mean nothing else.
One cannot sufáciently admire the absolute want of common sense,
which appears throughout the whole of this criminal transaction.
For if popery was so much the object of national horror, that if
even the King's three ministers, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lau-
derdale, and such profligate ones too, either would not, or durst
not receive it, what hopes could he entertain of forcing the nation
into that communion?". Considering the state of the kingdom, full
of veteran and zealous soldiers, bred during the civil wars, it is
probable that he had not kept the crown two months after a decla-

ratjon so wild and extravagant. This was probably the reason why
the King of France and the French ministers always dissuaded him
from taking off the mask, till the successes of the Dutch war should
render that measure pruderit and practicable.
. Duke of Buckingham's character of K. Charles II.


B 3

CHAP. return into the ordinary channel of government. LXVI. But the suspicions of the people, though they burst 1674.

not forth at once, were by this attempt rendered altogether incurable; and the more they reflected on the circumstances attending it, the more resentment and jealousy were they apt to entertain. They observed, that the King never had any favourite; that he was never governed by his ministers, scarcely even by his mistresses, and that he himself was the chief spring of all public counsels. Whatever appearance, therefore, of a change might be assumed, they still suspected, that the same project was secretly in agitation ; and they deemed no precaution too great to secure them against the pernicious consequences of such measures.

THE King, sensible of this jealousy, was inclined thenceforth not to 'trust his people, of whom he had even before entertained a great diffidence; and, though obliged to make a separate peace, he still kept up connections with the French Monarch. He apologised for deserting his ally, by representing to him all the real undissembled difficulties under which he laboured ; and Lewis, with the greatest complaisance and good humour, admitted the validity of his excuses. The Duke likewise, conscious that his principles and conduct had rendered him still more obnoxious to the people, maintained on his own account a separate correspondence with the French court, and .entered into particular connexions with Lewis, which these Princes dignified with the name of friendship. The Duke had only in view to secure his succession, and favour the catholics; and it must be acknowledged to his praise, that, though his schemes were, in some particulars, dangerous to the people, they gave the King no just ground of jealousy. A dutiful subject, and an affectionate brother, he knew no other rule of conduct than obedience; and the same unlimited submission, which afterwards, when King, he exacted of his people, he was ever willing, before he ascended the throne, to pay to his sovereign.

As the King was at peace with all the world, CHAP.. and almost the only Prince in Europe placed in that LXVI. agreeable situation, he thought proper to offer his

1674 mediation to the contending powers, in order to compose their differences. France, willing to negotiate under so favourable a mediator, readily accepted of Charles's offer ; but, it was apprehended, that, for a like reason, the allies would be inclined to refuse it. In order to give a sanction to his new measures, the King invited Temple from his retreat, and appointed him ambassador to the States. That Remonwise minister, reflecting on the unhappy issue of his strances former undertakings, and the fatal turn of counsels of Sir W. which had occasioned it, resolved, before he em,

Temple. barked anew, to acquaint himself, as far as possible, with the real intentions of the King, in those popular measures which he seemed again to have adopted. After blaming the dangerous schemes of the Cabal, which Charles was desirous to excuse, he told His Majesty very plainly, that he would find it extremely difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to introduce into England the same system of government and religion which was established in France : That the universal bent of the nation was against both; and it required ages to change the genius and sentiments of a people: That many, who were at bottom indifferent in matters of religion, would yet oppose all alterations on that head; because they considered that nothing but force of arms could subdue the reluctance of the people against popery ; after which they knew there could be no security for civil liberty: That in France, every circumstance had long been adjusted to that system of government, and tended to its establishment and support: That the commonalty, being poor and dispirited, were of no account; the nobility, engaged by the prospect or possession of numerous offices, civil and military, were entirely attached to the court; the ecclesiasçics, retained by like motives, added the sanction of



« PreviousContinue »