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indeed, that no use should be made of it, but he still insisted upon his son's telling him the whole truth. To his brother he said not a word about the matter, till the very day before he made known their reconciliation to the world; when he received him with a fondness that confounded all the duke's party. He said then, that James (so he called his son) had confirmed all that Howard had sworn on the trial ; to which Monmouth said little, till his pardon was made out, and then openly denied that he had confessed the plot. The king then ordered him to give a confession of it under his hand, and Lord Halifax, by a great deal of persuasion, got him to write a letter to that effect, by which the latter was satisfied.” But the Duke of Monmouth reflecting on what he had done, thought it a base thing; so he went full of uneasiness to the king, and desired he might have his letter again, in terms of an agony like despair. The king gave it him back, but pressed him vehemently to comply with his desire; and among other things, the Duke of Monmouth said, that the king used this expression :-" If you do not yield in this, James, you will ruin me." Yet Monmouth was firm; so the king forbid him the court, and spoke of him more severely than he had ever done before *.
The Earl of Portland told Burnet, that the king showed the Prince of Orange one of his seals, and said to him, that whatever he might write to him, if the letter was not sealed with that seal, he was to look on it as only drawn from him by importunity. Now, though he wrote the prince some terrible letter, against the countenance given by the latter to the Duke of Monmouth, yet they were not sealed with that seal, from which the prince mferred, that he had still a mind he should keep his son about him, and use him well. And it is certain, that in all the entries that were made in the council-books about the affair of the Ryehouse plot, the king gave orders that nothing should be left on record that would blemish his son. That he should say nothing respecting him in his parting recommendations to his brothert, may be easily supposed, and the reason explained; he knew James too well, and the obduracy of his stubborn temper, to hope any such recommendation would be effectual.
But it was within the sphere of domestic life alone that his affections appeared to have circulated with any strength or rapidity of current. Few are the instances of anything like genuine good-nature exhibited to persons who were remote from his presence, or unconnected with the daily routine of his own pleasures and amusements; whilst many particulars remain on record which seem to imply a capability of being revengeful and even malignant.
The bill of indemnity, passed at the beginning of his reign, appears to have originated less in any disposition to clemency, than in a firm conviction of its being essential to his personal safety. · There lay still encamped on Blackheath, the formidable army that had wrought his father's destruction ; and he well knew, how united soever their acclamations seemed, that their affections were far from being the same. The diseases and convulsions their infant loyalty was subject to, were too many not to make him fear, that the distemper and murmuring that was in it might soon break out into acts of open violence; “and the very countenances of many officers, as well as soldiers, did sufficiently manifest that they were drawn thither to a service, in which they took no great delight.”* But there was no attempt to be made towards disbanding the army, until the act of indemnity should be passed.-" This was the remora in all the counsels; and until that was done, no man could say that he dwelt at home, nor the king think himself in any good posture of security.”+ He possesses with some the credit of having softened the rigid letter of the law, and even among his father's judges of having distinguished Ingoldsby and others as fit objects of mercy. He went to the house of peers, who seemed to demur at thus being deprived of an opportunity of paying off old scores, and in the most affecting terms besought them to extend the benefit of the bill to all who had not been the immediate instruments of his father's death. But we must not forget, that it was his own cause he pleaded—that it was his own safety that was compromised by the impolitic delays of parliament. The credit to which, after all, he might have laid claim on the score of the lenity exhibited in the bill, is entirely done away, we think, by his evident disposition to transgress it, where that could be done without danger to himself. In the unjustifiable execution of Sir Henry Vane, he appears to have taken even a personal concern, as is clear from the following extract of a letter of his to the chancellor, dated Hampton Court.-" The relation that hath been made to me of Sir H. Vane's carriage yesterday in the hall, is the occasion of this letter-if he has given new occasion to be hanged, certainly he is too dangerous a man to let live, if we can honestly put him out of the way. Think of this, and give me some account of it to-morrow: till when I have no more to say to you."! The behaviour of Sir H. Vane, to which the king alludes, was only that of a free man, and worthy the cause to which he had devoted himself. The spot, too, that was selected for the execu
† Ibid. | Harris's Life of King Charles II,
tion of the regicides, Charing Cross, in the king's presence, and under his very nose, seems to have been chosen with a view to the gratification of a not very amiable triumph. “I saw not their execution,” says Evelyn, “but met their quarters mangled and cut, and reeking as they were brought from the gallows in baskets on the hurdle."
In Scotland, which lay more at his mercy, his humanity and the goodness of his nature had a wider field for displaying themselves, had they dwelt in any great force or strength within his own breast. Distance of place, it may be said, makes a material difference in regard to our feelings, and the miseries we only hear detailed have much less effect upon us than those which fall under our own observation ; but he can have no just pretensions to be considered as a humane and feeling man, for whom we are obliged to frame such an excuse. It may be said, also, that the atrocities which were committed were done in consequence of orders, wrested from their proper acceptation to serve the ends of a ferocious party, or even without order at all. But why then were the ministers of these cruelties retained in office ? and why, when they had successors given them, were the latter only more tyrannical and refined in their barbarities than those whom they succeeded? We fear, the king's pleasure was only too well understood, through the medium of that merciful and conciliatory style, which the pressure of the times sometimes compelled him to adopt. “ The dial spake not, but it made shrewd signs;" and Lauderdale was not a man on whom such hints could be thrown away. Unfortunately, too, we are sometimes able to trace these monstrous proceedings to their very source, and find them flowing from the king's own order, signed by his own hand. “I have now before me,” says Mr. Mallet,” the copy of a warrant, signed by King Charles himself, for military execution upon them, without process or conviction : and I know that the original is still kept in the secretary's office for that part of the united kingdom.”* After the fight at Bothwell Bridge, it had been objected to the Duke of Monmouth, that in putting a stop to the execution which his men were doing on the flying covenanters, he had neglected the king's service, and courted the people. In this strain did the Duke of York talk of it; and Charles himself said to him, “ that if he had been there, they should not have had the trouble of prisoners.” Monmouth replied, “ he could not kill men in cold blood--that was work only for butchers.”
If we may believe the author of the Examen, the severity of government in their proceedings on the occasion of that
* Harris's Life of King Charles II.
insurrection, is to be attributed to the counsels and remonstrances of Lauderdale. There had been a council held to deliberate on the measures necessary to be adopted, in which a power to fight or treat with the insurgents had been committed to the Duke of Monmouth, as general; “ for why,” said the good-natured persons at the board, “ should the blood of those deluded miserables be spilt, if they are willing to lay down their arms, on fit terms ?"
“Very few, if any, spoke to the contrary, and the Duke of Lauderdale, whose chief case it was, said not one word ; and so the orders were taken to be fixed, and the party advices to friends abroad went forth accordingly. When the king rose from council, the Duke of Lauderdale followed him into the bed-chamber, where, having him alone, he asked his majesty if he intended to follow his father? Why? said the king. Because, sir, said the duke, you have given the general orders to treat; the consequence of which is encouraging and enlarging the rebellion in Scotland, and raising another, by concert, in England, and then you are lost; therefore, if you do not change your orders, and send them positive to fight, and not to treat, the mischief that befel your father, in like case, will overtake you. Why did you not, said the king, urge this in council ? The duke answered suddenly, Were not your enemies in the room? This touched the King so sensibly, that getting the better of his propensity to favour and trust the Duke of Monmouth, he caused the orders to be altered and made as the lord commissioner advised ; and, withal, adding this instruction, that the orders were not to be opened, but at a council of war in sight of the enemy; and this was done so privately, that none of the faction so much as smelt it out.”—Examen, p. 81, 82.
How far the burthen of these enormities is to be taken off the king's, and laid on the memory of Lauderdale, can hardly be ascertained; it is certain that, on a former and similar occasion, Charles acted with more lenity and human feeling. After the fight at Pentland hills, several years before, he showed himself more gentle to the prisoners taken there, than was quite acceptable to the bishops and the high-flying party. He wrote them a letter, in which he approved of what they had done, but added, “ he thought there was blood enough shed.” * We mention this as one of the few instances which occur of his interfering, with a mild and beneficent purpose, in the concerns of a people, whose only crime was that of hating oppression, whilst they loved the Stuarts, their oppressors, only too well.
Burnet says, he was apt to forgive all crimes, even blood itself; yet that he never forgave any thing that was done
-against himself, after his first general act of indemnity; and we believe the imputation to be more or less true. His suffer. ing the rigour of the law to proceed against offenders, and even against those, “in whose cases, the lawyers, according to their wonted custom, had used sometimes a great deal of hardship and severity,” is imputed by the Duke of Buckingham (Sheffield) to his sense of justice, and not to any want of clemency. We are for ascribing it neither to the one nor the other, but simply to the habit of letting all things, and the law among the rest, take their course, without caring a thought on the matter. However harsh the sentence might be, his sense of mercy or justice was not sufficiently active to rouse him into taking measures to prevent its execution; but, if assailed by petitions and solicitation, he lacked his brother's dogged resolution, and had as much difficulty in saying no, as any person of whom we have read. To this facility of temper, we attribute those instances of forgiveness, to which Burnet has alluded, and thus reconcile two accounts, which at first sight appear somewhat contradictory. That he could, in the pursuit of tyrannical and vindictive measures, be proof against all solicitations, we have a signal instance, in that illustrious victim of falsehood and illegality, the Lord Russel. All the efforts that could be made, would, we are sure, be exerted in behalf of one, in whose life the happiness of so many noble and dignified persons was wrapped up; but both the king and the duke were immoveable in their resolution; yet with this difference, as Lord Rochester afterwards told Burnet, that the king could not bear the discourse, nor any mention of the subject, but that the duke, the same man who afterwaards allowed a nephew, the son of a most kind brother, to hang at his knees, whilst knowing within his secret mind, that the tongue, which sued for mercy, would, in a very few hours, be fixed in death, the duke suffered some, among whom he himself was one, to argue the point with him. moreover moved, it is said, that Lord Russel might be exe.cuted, in Southampton-square, before his own house ; but the king rejected that as indecent. Slight amelioration of the most oppressive cruelty! Nor are we sure, that the mitigation of the sentence, accompanied as it was, with an expression of rancorous and vindictive meaning, can be considered as making at all in his favour. “ Lord Russel shal find,” said he, when he gave orders for commuting the penalty of treason, “ that I have the privilege which he was pleased to deny that I possessed.” How far Charles was himself cheated by the fabrications and falsehoods of Howard, and other witnesses, we leave to others to decide : at all events, it must be confessed, that he acted his part wel). “ The public,” says Evelyn,“ was now in great consternation on the late plot and conspiracy; his ma
corous ahis favour..mmuting the penalted to a