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Chap. ing his exile, had expressed towards him more cTv^^^viuty and friendship, than he had received from 1664. any other foreign power; the Louvestein or aristocratic faction, which at this time ruled the commonwealth, had fallen into close union with France; and could that party be subdued, he might hope that his nephew, the young prince of Orange, would be reinstated in the authority possessed by his ancestors, and would bring the States to a dependence under England. His narrow revenues made it still requisite for him to study the humours of his people, which now ran violently towards war; and it has been suspected, though the suspicion was not justified by the event, that the hopes of diverting some of the supplies to his private use were not overlooked by this necessitous monarch.
The duke of York, more active and enterprising, pushed more eagerly the war with Holland. He desired an opportunity of distinguishing himself: He loved to cultivate commerce: He was at the head of a new African company, whose trade was extremely checked by the settlements of the Dutch: And perhaps the religious prejudices, by which that prince was always so much governed, began even so early to instil into him an antipathy against a protestant commonwealth, the bulwark of the reformation. Clarendon and Southampton, observing that the nation was not supported by any foreign alliance, were averse to hostilities; but their credit was now on the decline.
i7th May. ^Y these concurring motives, the court and parliament were both of them inclined to a Dutch war. The parliament was prorogued without voting supplies: But as they had been induced, without any open application from the crown, to pass that vote above-mentioned against the Dutch encroachments, it was reasonably considered as sufficient sanction for the vigorous measures which were resolved on.
Downing, Downing, the English minister at the Hague, aCHAp. man of an insolent impetuous temper, presented a vi^!^» memorial to the States, containing a list of those 1664. depredations, of which the English complained. It is remarkable, that all the pretended depredations preceded the year 1662, when a treaty of league and alliance had been renewed with the Dutch; and these complaints were then thought either so ill grounded or so frivolous, that they had not been mentioned in the treaty. Two ships alone, the Bonaventure and the Good-hope, had been claimed by the English; and it was agreed that the claim should be prosecuted by the ordinary course of justice. The States had consigned a sum of money in case the cause should be decided against them; but the matter was still in dependence. Cary, who was entrusted by the proprietors with the management of the law-suit for the Bonaventure, had resolved to accept of thirty thousand pounds, which were offered him; but was hindered by Downing, who told him, that the claim was a matter of state between the two nations, not a concern of private persons.h These circumstances give us no favourable idea of the justice of the English pretensions.
Charles confined not himself to memorials and remonstrances. Sir Robert Holmes was secretly dispatched with a squadron of twenty-two ships to the coast of Africa. He not only expelled the Dutch from Cape Corse, to which the English had some pretensions: He likewise seized the Dutch settlements of cape Verde and the isle of Goree, together with several ships trading on the coast. And having sailed to America, he possessed himself of Nova Belgia, since called New York; a territory which James the First had given by patent to the earl of Sterling, but which had never been planted but by the Hollanders. When the States complained • . of
* Temple, vol. ii. p, 42.
HISTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN.CHAP.of these hostile measures, the king, unwilling to ^FJ^i avow what he could not well justify, pretended to 1664. be totally ignorant of Holmes's enterprise. He likewise confined that admiral to the Tower; but some time after released him.
The Dutch, finding that their applications for redress were likely to be eluded, and that a ground of quarrel was industriously sought for by the English, began to arm with diligence. They even exerted, with some precipitation, an act of vigour, which hastened on the rupture. Sir John Lawson and de Ruyter had been sent with combined squadrons into the Mediterranean, in order to chastise the piratical states on the coast of Barbary; and the time of their separation and return was now approaching. The States secretly dispatched orders to de Ruyter, that he should take in provisions at Cadiz; and sailing towards the coast of Guinea, should retaliate on the English, and put the Dutch in possession of those settlements whence Holmes had expelled them. De Ruyter, having a considerable force on board, met with no opposition in Guinea. All the new acquisitions of the English, except cape Corse, were recovered from them. They were even dispossessed of some old settlements. Such of their ships as fell into his hands were seized by De Ruyter. That admiral sailed next to America. He attacked Barbadoes, but was repulsed. He afterwards committed hostilities on Long Island.
Meanwhile, the English preparations for war were advancing with vigour and industry. The king had received no supplies from parliament; but by his own funds and credit he was enabled to equip a fleet: The city of London lent him 100,000 pounds: The spirit of the nation seconded his armaments: He himself went from port to port, inspecting with great diligence, and encouraging the work: And in a little time the English navy was put in a formidable condition. Eight hundred
thousand pounds are said to have been expended c^H^ P. on this armament. When Lawson arrived, and communicated his suspicion of de Ruyter's enter- i684. prise, orders were issued for seizing all Dutch ships; and 135 fell into the hands of the English. These were not declared prizes, till afterwards, when war was proclaimed.
The parliament, when it met, granted a supply, JwthNov. the largest by far that had ever been given to a kingsio"*wse9' of England, yet scarcely sufficient for the present undertaking. Near two millions and a half were voted to be levied by quarterly payments in three years. The avidity of the merchants, together with the great prospect of success, had animated the whole nation against the Dutch.
A Great alteration was made this session in the method of taxing the clergy. In almost all the other monarchies of Europe, the assemblies, whose consent was formerly requisite to the enacting of laws, were composed of three estates, the clergy, the nobility, and the commonalty, which formed so many members of the political body, of which the king was considered as the head. In England too, the parliament was always represented as consisting of three estates; but their separation was never so distinct as in other kingdoms. A convocation, however, had usually sitten at the same time with the parliament; though they possessed not a negative voice in the passing of laws, and assumed no other temporal power than that of imposing taxes on the clergy. By reason of ecclesiastical preferments, which he could bestow, the king's influence over the church was more considerable than over the laity; so that the subsidies, granted by the convocation, were commonly greater than those which were voted by parliament. The church, therefore, ,.,was not displeased to depart tacitly from the right of taxing herself, and allow the commons to lay impo
Vol. Vii. D D sitions
CHAP. sitions on ecclesiastical revenues, as on the rest of the kingdom. In recompence, two subsidies, which 1664. the convocation had formerly granted, were remitted, and the parochial clergy were allowed to vote at elections. Thus the church of England made a barter of power for profit. Their convocations, having become insignificant to the crown, have been much disused of late years.
The Dutch saw, with the utmost regret, a war approaching, whence they might dread the most fatal consequences, but which afforded no prospect of advantage. They tried every art of negotiation, before they would come to extremities. Their measures were at that time directed by John de Wit, a minister equally eminent for greatness of mind, for capacity, and for integrity. Though moderate in his private deportment, he knew how to adopt in his public counsels that magnanimity, which suits the minister of a great state. It was ever his maxim, that no independent government should yield to another any evident point of reason or equity; and that all such concessions, so far from preventing war, served to no other purpose than to provoke fresh claims and insults. By his management a spirit of union was preserved in all the provinces; great sums were levied; and a navy was equipped, composed of larger ships than the Dutch had ever built before, and able to cope with the fleet of England.
i6s.i. As soon as certain intelligence arrived of de 2«dfeb. Ruyters enterprises, Charles declared war against the States. His fleet, consisting of 114 sail, besides fireships and ketches, was commanded by the duke of York, and under him by prince Rupert and the earl of Sandwich. It had about 22,000 men on 3d June. board. Olxlam, who was admiral of the Dutch WicEng-°f nav)'» of nearly equal force, declined not the comi«h. bat. In the heat of action, when engaged in close