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avowed enemy, was advanced to that office. Ben- Chap. net was sOon after created lord Arlington. vjl^!^
Though the king's conduct had hitherto, since i663. his restoration, been, in the main, laudable, men of penetration began to observe, that those virtues by which he had at first so much dazzled and enchanted the nation, had great show, but not equal solidity. His good understanding lost much of its influence by his want of application; his bounty was more the result of a facility of disposition, than any generosity of character; his social humour led him frequently to neglect his dignity; his love of pleasure was not attended with proper sentiment and decency; and while he seemed to bear a good-will to every one that approached him, he had a heart not very capable of friendship, and he had secretly entertained a very bad opinion and distrust of mankind. But above all, what sullied his character, in the eyes of good judges, was his negligent ingratitude towards the unfortunate cavaliers, whose zeal and sufferings in the royal cause had known no bounds. This conduct, however, in the king may, from the circumstances of his situation and temper, admit of some excuse; at least, of some alleviation. As he had been restored more by the efforts of his reconciled enemies than of his ancient friends, the former pretended a title to share his favour; and being, from practice, acquainted with public business, they were better qualified to execute any trust committed to them. The king's revenues were far from being large, or even equal to his necessary expences; and his mistresses, and the companions of his mirth and pleasures, gained, by solicitation, every request from his easy temper. The very poverty, to which the more zealous royalists had reduced themselves, by rendering them insignificant, made them unfit to support the king's measures, and caused him to deem them a useless ncumbrance. And as many false and ridiculous
Chap- claims of merit were offered, his natural indolence, averse to a strict discussion or inquiry, led him to 1663. treat them all with equal indifference. The parliament took some notice of the poor cavaliers. Sixty thousand pounds were at one time distributed among them: Mrs. Lane also, and the Penderells, had handsome presents and pensions from the king. But the greater part of the royalists still remained in poverty and distress; aggravated by the cruel disappointment in their sanguine hopes, and by seeing favour and preferment bestowed upon their most inveterate foes. With regard to the act of indemnity and oblivion, they universally said, that it was an act of indemnity to the king's enemies. and of oblivion to his friends.
A new session—Rupture with Holland—A new session—Victory of the English—Rupture with France—Rupture with Denmark—JVew session— Sea-fight of four days—Victory of the English— Fire of London—Advances towards peace—Disgrace at Chatham—Peace of Breda—Clarendon's fall—and banishment—Slate of France—Character of Lewis XIV.—French invasion of the Low Countries—JVegotialions— Triple league— Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle—Affairs of Scotland and of Ireland.
THE next session of parliament discovered acHAP. continuance of the same principles which had (f?']S prevailed in all the foregoing. Monarchy and the church were still the objects of regard and affec- March i& tion. During no period of the present reign did s "IWthis spirit more evidently pass the bounds of reason and moderation.
The king, in his speech to the parliament, had ventured openly to demand a repeal of the triennial act; and he even went so far as to declare that, notwithstanding the law, he never would allow any parliament to be assembled by the methods prescribed in that statute. The parliament, without taking offence at this declaration, repealed the law; and, in lieu of all the securities formerly provided, satisfied themselves with a general clause, "that "parliaments should not be interrupted above three M years at the most." As the English parliament had now raised itself to be a regular check and con c H A p. trol upon royal power, it is evident that they ought still to have preserved a regular security for their meeting, and not have trusted entirely to the good-will of the king, who, if ambitious or enterprising, had so little reason to be pleased with these assemblies. Before the end of Charles's reign, the nation had occasion to feel very sensibly the effects of this repeal.
By the act of uniformity, every clergyman, who should officiate without being properly qualified, was punishable by fine and imprisonment: But this security was not thought sufficient for the church. It was now enacted, that wherever five persons above those of the same household should assemble in a religious congregation, every one of them was liable, for the first offence, to be imprisoned three months, or pay five pounds; for the second, to be imprisoned six months, or pay ten pounds; and for the third, to be transported seven years, or pay a hundred pounds. The parliament had only in their eye the malignity of the sectaries: They should have carried their intention farther, to the chief cause of that malignity, the restraint under which they laboured.
The commons likewise passed a vote, that the wrongs, dishonours, and indignities, offered to the English by the subjects of the United Provinces, were the greatest obstructions to all foreign trade: And they promised to assist the king with their lives and fortunes in asserting the rights of his crown against all opposition whatsoever. This was the first open step towards the Dutch war. We must explain the causes and motives of this measure. wiTHoi- That close union and confederacy, which, durland. ing a course of near seventy years, has subsisted, almost without interruption or jealousy, between England and Holland, is not so much founded on the natural unalterable interests of these states, as on their terror of the growing power of the French monarch, who, without their combination, it is apprehended,hended, would soon extend his dominion over Eu- CHAP. rope. In the first years of Charles's reign, when the v^^/ ambitious genius of Lewis had not, as yet, displayed i66*. itself, and when the great force of his people was in some measure, unknown even to themselves, the rivalship of commerce, not checked by any other jealousy or apprehension, had in England begotten a violent enmity against the neighbouring republic.
Trade was beginning, among the English, to be a matter of general concern; but notwithstanding all their efforts and advantages, their commerce seemed hitherto to stand upon a footing, which was somewhat precarious. The Dutch, who by industry and frugality were enabled to undersell them in every market, retained possession of the most lucrative branches of commerce; and the English merchants had the mortification to find that all attempts to extend their trade were still turned, by the vigilance of their rivals, to their loss and dishonour. Their indignation increased, when they considered the superior naval power of England; the bravery of her officers and seamen, her favourable situation, which enabled her to intercept the whole Dutch commerce. By the prospect of these advantages they were strongly prompted, from motives less just than political, to make war upon the States; and at once to ravish from them by force what they could not obtain, or could obtain but slowly, by superior skill and industry.
The careless unambitious temper of Charles rendered him little capable of forming so vast a project as that of engrossing the commerce and naval power of Europe; yet could he not remain altogether insensible to such obvious and such tempting prospects. His genius, happily turned towards mechanics, had inclined him to study naval affairs, which, of all branches of business, he both loved the most and understood the best. Though the Dutch, dur