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c H A P. of this measure lay much deeper, and was of the
utmost consequence. 166«. The king, during his exile, had imbibed strong prejudices in favour of the catholic religion; and, according to the most probable accounts, had already been secretly reconciled in form to the church of Rome. The great zeal, expressed by the parliamentary party against all papists, had always, from a spirit of opposition, inclined the court, and all the royalists, to adopt more favourable sentiments towards that sect, which, through the whole course of the civil wars, had strenuously supported the rights of the sovereign. The rigour too, which the king, during his abode in Scotland, had experienced from the presbyterians, disposed him to run into the other extreme, and to bear a kindness to the party most opposite in its genius to the severity of those religionists. The solicitations and importunities of the queen mother, the contagion of the company which he frequented, the view of a more splendid and courtly mode of worship, the hopes of* indulgence in pleasure; all these causes operated powerfully on a young prince, whose careless and dissolute temper made him incapable of adhering closely to the principles of his early education. But if the thoughtless humour of Charles rendered him an easy convert to popery, the same disposition ever prevented the theological tenets of that sect from taking any fast hold of him. During his vigorous state of health, while his blood was warm and his spirits high, a contempt and disregard to all religion held possession of his mind; and he might more properly be denominated a deist than a catholic. But in those revolutions of temper, when the love of raillery gave place to reflection, and his penetrating, but negligent, understanding was clouded with fears and apprehensions, he had starts of more sincere conviction; and a sect, which always possessed
sessed his inclination, was then master of his jude-C HAP.
ment and opinion.' v^/^'
But though the king thus fluctuated, during his 1662. whole reign, between irreligion, which he more openly professed, and popery, to which he retained a secret propensity, his brother, the duke of York, had zealously adopted all the principles of that theological party. His eager temper and narrow understanding made him a thorough convert, without any reserve from interest, or doubts from reasoning and inquiry. By his application to business he had acquired a great ascendant over the king, who, though possessed of more discernment, was glad to throw the burden of affairs on the duke, of whom he entertained little jealousy. On pretence of easing the protestant dissenters, they agreed upon a plan for introducing a general toleration, and giving the catholics the free exercise of their religion; at least, the exercise of it in private houses. The two brothers saw with pleasure so numerous and popular a body of the clergy refuse conformity; and it was hoped that, under shelter of their name, the small and hated sect of the catholics might meet with favour and protection.
But while the king pleaded his early promises of 18^ffJb toleration, and insisted on many other plausible topics, the parliament, who sat a little after the declaration was issued, could by no means be satisfied with this measure. The declared intention of easing the dissenters, and the secret purpose of favouring the catholics, were equally disagreeable to them; and in these prepossessions they were encouraged by the king's ministers themselves, particularly the chancellor. The house of commons represented to the king, that his declaration of Breda contained no
• The author confesses that the Ling's zeal for popery was apt, at intervals, to go farther than is here supposed, as appears from many passages in James the Second's Memoirs.
c *J A P. promise to the presbyterians and other dissenters, , hut only an expression of his intentions, upon supposition of the concurrence of parliament: That even if the non-conformists had been entitled to plead a promise, they had intrusted this claim, as all their other rights and privileges, to the house of commons, who were their representatives, and who now freed the king from that obligation: That it was not to be supposed that his majesty and the houses were so bound by that declaration as to be incapacitated from making any laws which might be contrary to it: That even at the king's restoration, there were laws of uniformity in force which could not be dispensed with but by act of parliament : Andthat the indulgence intended would prove most pernicious both to church and state, would open the door to schism, encourage faction, disturb the public peace, and discredit the wisdom of the legislature. The king did not think proper, after this remonstrance, to insist any farther at present on the project of indulgence.
In order to deprive the catholics of all hopes, the two houses concurred in a remonstrance against them. The king gave a gracious answer; though he scrupled not to profess his gratitude towards many of that persuasion, on account of their faithful services in his father's cause and in his own. A proclamation, for form's sake, was soon after issued against Jesuits and Romish priests: But care was taken, by the very terms of it, to render it ineffectual. The parliament had allowed, that all foreign priests, belonging to the two queens, should be excepted, and that a permission for them to remain in England should still be granted. In the proclamation, the word foreign was purposely omitted; and the queens was thereby authorised to give protection to as many English priests as they should think proper.
That the king might reap some advantage from C^h A^p. his compliances, however fallacious, he engaged the commons anew into an examination of his re 1663 venue, which, chiefly by the negligence in levying it, had proved, he said, much inferior to the public charges. Notwithstanding the price of Dunkirk, his debts, he complained, amounted to a considerable sum; and to satisfy the commons that the money formerly granted him, had not been prodigally expended, he offered to lay before them the whole account of his disbursements. It is, however, agreed on all hands, that the king, though during his banishment he had managed his small and precarious income with great order and ceconomy, had now much abated of these virtues, and was unable to make his royal revenues suffice for his expences. The commons, without entering into too nice a disquisition, voted him four subsidies; and this was the last time that taxes were levied in that manner.
Several laws were made this session with regard to trade. The militia also came under consideration, and some rules were established for ordering and arming it. It was enacted, that the king should have no power of keeping the militia under arms above fourteen days in the year. The situation of this island, together with its great naval power, has always occasioned other means of security, however requisite, to be much neglected amongst us: And the parliament showed here a very superfluous jealousy of the king's strictness in disciplining the militia. The principles of liberty rather require a contrary jealousy.
The earl of Bristol's friendship with Clarendon, which had subsisted with great intimacy during their exile and the distresses of the royal party, had been considerably impaired since the restoration, by the chancellor's refusing his assent to some grants, which
CHAP. Bristol had applied for to a court lady: Arid a little vJrvJL/ after, the latter nobleman, agreeably to the impetuo1663. sity and indiscretion of his temper, broke out against the minister in the most outrageous manner. He even entered a charge of treason against him before the house of peers; but had concerted his measures so imprudently, that the judges, when consulted, declared, that, neither for its matter nor its form, could the charge be legally received. The articles indeed resemble more the incoherent altercations of a passionate enemy, than a serious accusation, fit to be discussed by a court of judicature; and Bristol himself was so ashamed of his conduct and defeat, that he absconded during some time. Notwithstanding his fine talents, his eloquence, his spirit, and his courage, he could never regain the character which he lost by this hasty and precipitate measure. Decline of Bu T though Clarendon was able to elude this rash don>" assault, his credit at court was sensibly declining; credit. and in proportion as the king found himself established on the throne, he began to alienate himself from a minister, whose character was so little suited to his own. Charles's favour for the catholics was always opposed by Clarendon, public liberty was secured against all attempts of the over-zealous royalists, prodigal grants of the king were checked or refused, and the dignity of his own character was so much consulted by the chancellor, that he made it an inviolable rule, as did also his friend, Southampton, never to enter into any connexion with the royal mistresses. The king's favourite was Mrs. Palmer, afterwards created dutchess of Cleveland; a woman prodigal, rapacious, dissolute, violent, revengeful. She failed not in her turn to undermine Clarendon's credit with his master; and her success was at this time made apparent to the whole world. Secretary Nicholas, the chancellor's great friend, was removed from his place; and sir Harry Bennet, his