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Chap. suffered extremely, their extensive credit enabled \^^/ them to levy great sums; and while the seamen of 1667. England loudly complained of want of pay, the Dutch navy was regularly supplied with money and every thing requisite for its subsistence. As two powerful kings now supported them, every place, from the extremity of Norway to the coasts of Bayonne, was become hostile to the English. And Charles, neither fond of action, nor stimulated by any violent ambition, earnestly sought for means of restoring tranquillity to his people, disgusted with a war, which, being joined with the plague and fire, had proved so fruitless and destructive.
The first advances towards an accommodation were made by England. When the king sent for the body of sir William Berkeley, he insinuated to the States his desire of peace on reasonable terms; and their answer corresponded in the same amicable intentions. Charles, however, to maintain the appearance of superiority, still insisted that the States should treat at London; and they agreed to make him this compliment so far as concerned themselves: But being engaged in alliance with two crowned heads, they could not, they said, prevail with these to depart in that respect from their dignity. On a sudden, the king went so far on the other side as to offer the sending of ambassadors to the Hague; but this proposal, which seemed honourable to the Dutch, was meant only to divide and distract them, by affording the English an opportunity to carry on cabals with the disaffected party. The offer was therefore rejected; and con*ferences were secretly held in the queen-mother's apartments at Paris, where the pretensions of both parties were discussed. The Dutch made equitable proposals; either that all things should be restored to the same condition in which they stood before the war; or that both parties should continue in
possession of their present acquisitions. Charles c H A P. accepted of the latter proposal; and almost every thing was adjusted, except the disputes with regard 1667. to the isle of Polerone. This island lies in the East Indies, and was formerly valuable for its produce of spices. The English had been masters of it: but were dispossessed at the time when the violences were committed against them at Amboyna. Cromwel had stipulated to have it restored; and the Hollanders, having first entirely destroyed all the spice trees, maintained, that they had executed the treaty, but that the English had been anew expelled during the course of the war. Charles renewed his pretensions to this island; and as the reasons on both sides began to multiply, and seemed to require a long discussion, it was agreed to transfer the treaty to some other place; and Charles made choice of Breda.
Lord Hollis and Henry Coventry were the English ambassadors. They immediately desired, that a suspension of arms should be agreed to, till the several claims should be adjusted: But this proposal, seemingly so natural, was rejected by the credit of de Wit. That penetrating and active minister, thoroughly acquainted with the characters of princes and the situation of affairs, had discovered an opportunity of striking a blow, which might at once restore to the Dutch the honour lost during the war, and severely revenge those injuries, which he ascribed to the wanton ambition and injustice of the English.
Whatever projects mighthave been formed by Charles for secreting the money granted him by parliament, he had hitherto failed in his intention. The expences of such vast armaments had exhausted all the supplies ;° and even a great debt was
"The Dutch had spent on the war near 40 millions of livres a year, above three millions sterling: A much greater sum than had been granted by the English parliament. D'Estxades, 24th of December
clx^p contrac';ec^to the seamen. The king therefore was v^v^. resolved to save, as far as possible, the last supply 1667. of 1,800,000 pounds; and to employ it for payment of his debts, as well those which had been occasioned by the war, as those which he had formerly contracted. He observed that the Dutch had been with great reluctance forced into the war, and that the events of it were not such as to inspire them with great desire of its continuance. The French, he knew, had been engaged into hostilities by no other motive than that of supporting their ally; and were now more desirous than ever of putting an end to the quarrel. The differences between the parties were so inconsiderable, that the conclusion of peace appeared infallible; and nothing but forms, at least some vain points of honour, seemed to remain for the ambassadors at Breda to discuss. In this situation, Charles, moved by an ill-timed frugality, remitted his preparations, and exposed England to one of the greatest affronts which it has ever received. Two small squadrons alone were equipped; and during a war with such potent and martial enemies, every thing was left almost in the same situation as in times of the most profound tranquillity.
De Wit protracted the negotiations at Breda, and hastened the naval preparations. The Dutch fleet appeared in the Thames under the command of de Ruyter, and threw the English into the utmost consternation. A chain had been drawn across the river Medway; some fortifications had been added to Sheerness and Upnore-castle: But all these preparations were unequal to the present necessity. Sheerness was soon taken; nor could it be saved by the valour of sir Edward Sprague, who defended
cembcr 1665; 1st of January 1666. Temple, vol. i. p. 71. It was probably the want of money which engaged the king to pay the seamen with,tickets; a contrivance which proved so much to their Joss.
it. Having the advantage of a spring tide and an c H A p. easterly wind, the Dutch pressed on and broke the chain, though fortified by some ships, which had i#»7. been there sunk by orders of the duke of Albemarle, ^race''1 They burned the three ships which lay to guard the at chatchain, the Matthias, the Unity, and the Charles the han1. Fifth. After damaging several vessels, and possessing themselves of the hull of the Royal Charles, which the English had burned, they advanced with six men of war and five fire ships, as far as Upnorecastle, where they burned the Royal Oak, the Loyal London, and the Great James. Captain Douglas, who commanded on board the Royal Oak, perished in the flames, though he had an easy opportunity of escaping. "Never was it known," he said, "that "a Douglas had left his post without orders."1" The Hollanders fell down the Medway without receiving any considerable damage; and it was apprehended, that they might next tide sail up the Thames, and extend their hostilities even to the bridge of London. Nine ships were sunk at Woolwich, four at Blackwall: Platforms were raised in many places, furnished with artillery: The train-bands were called out; andevery place was in a violent agitation. The Dutch sailed next to Portsmouth, where they made a fruitless attempt: They met with no better success at Plymouth: They insulted Harwich: They sailed again upon the Thames as far as Tilbury, where they were repulsed. The whole coast was in alarm; and had the French thought proper at this time to join the Dutch fleet and to invade England, consequences the most fatal might justly have been apprehended. But Lewis had no intention to push the victory to such extremities. His interest required that a balance should be kept between the two maritime powers; not that an uncontrolled superiority should be given to either.
'Temple, vol. ii. p. 41.
clxivp' Great indignation prevailed amongst the Eng-' K^*^/ lish, to see an enemy, whom they regarded as infe1667. rior, whom they had expected totally to subdue, and over whom they had gained many honourable advantages, now of a sudden ride undisputed masters of the ocean, burn their ships in their very harbours, fill every place with confusion, and strike a terror into the capital itself. But though the cause of all these disasters could be ascribed neither to bad fortune, to the misconduct of admirals, nor to the ill behaviour of seamen, but solely to the avarice, at least to the improvidence, of the government; no dangerous symptoms of discontent appeared, and no attempt for an insurrection was made by any of those numerous sectaries, who had been so openly branded for their rebellious principles, and who upon that supposition had been treated with such severity.'
In the present distress, two expedients were embraced: An army of 12,000 men was suddenly levied; and the parliament, though it lay under prorogation, was summoned to meet. The houses were very thin; and the only vote which the commons passed, was an address for breaking the army; which was complied with. This expression of jealousy shewed the court what they might expect from that assembly; and it was thought more prudent to prorogue them till next winter.
reace of' ^UT tne signing of tne treaty at Breda extricated lireda. the king from his present difficulties. The English ambassadors received orders to recede from those demands, which, however frivolous in themselves, could not now be relinquished, without acknowledging a superiority in the enemy. Polerone remained with the Dutch; satisfaction for the ships
* Some non-conlbnnists, however, both in Scotland and England, had kept a correspondence with the States, and had entertained projects for insurrections, but they were too weak even to attempt the execution of them. O'Estradea. 13th October 1665.