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CHA p. or rude materials, in return for every species of v^^/ manufacture: That if the cattle of Ireland were ittB. prohibited, the inhabitants of that island had no other commodity, by which they could pay England for their importations, and must have recourse to other nations for a supply: That the industrious inhabitants of England, if deprived of Irish provisions, which made living cheap, would be obliged to augment the price of labour, and thereby render their manufactures too dear to be exported to foreign markets: That the indolent inhabitants of Ireland, finding provisions fall almost to nothing, would never be induced to labour, but would perpetuate to all generations their native sloth and barbarism: That by cutting off almost entirely the trade between the kingdoms, all the natural bands of union were dissolved, and nothing remained to ( keep the Irish in their duty but force and violence: And that, by reducing that kingdom to extreme poverty, it would be even rendered incapable of maintaining that military power, by which, during its well-grounded discontents, it must necessarily be retained in subjection.
The king was so much convinced of the justness of these reasons, that he used all his interest to oppose the bill, and he openly declared, that he could not give his assent to it with a safe conscience. But the commons were resolute in their purpose. Some of the rents of England had fallen of late years, which had been ascribed entirely to the importation of Irish cattle: Several intrigues had contributed to inflame that prejudice, particularly those . of Buckingham and Ashley, who were desirous of giving Ormond disturbance in his government: And the spirit of tyranny, of which nations are as susceptible as individuals, had extremely animated the English to exert their superiority over their dependent state. No affair could be conducted with greater violence than this was by the commons.
They They even went so far in the preamble of the bill, as c1^^p, to declare the importation of Irish cattle to be a ^^^z nuisance. By this expression they gave scope to 1668. their passion, and at the same time barred the king's prerogative, by which he might think himself entitled to dispense with a law so full of injustice and bad policy. The lords expunged the word; but as the king was sensible that no supply would be given by the commons, unless they were gratified in their prejudices, he was obliged both to employ his interest with the peers for making the bill pass, and to give the royal assent to it. He could not, however, forbear expressing his displeasure at the jealousy entertained against him, and at the intention which the commons discovered of retrenching his prerogative.
This law brought great distress for some time upon the Irish: but it has occasioned their applying with greater industry to manufactures, and has proved in the issue beneficial to that kingdom.
A parliament—The Cabal—Their characters—Their counsels—Alliance with France—A parliament— Coventry Act—Blood's crimes—Duke declares himself Catholic—Exchequer shut—Declaration of indidgence—Attack of the Smyrna fleet—War declared with Holland—Weakness of the States— Battle of Solebay—Sandwich killed—Progress of the French—Consternation of the Dutch—Prince of Orange Sladtholder—Massacre of the De Wits —Good conduct of the Prince—A parliament—Declaration of indulgence recalled—Sea-fight—Another Sea-fight—Another Sea-fight—Congress of Cologne—A parliament—Peace with Holland.
Chap. OINCE the restoration, England had attained a i^rv^j ^ situation which had never been experienced in 1668. any former period of her government, and which seemed the only one that could fully ensure, at once, her tranquillity and her liberty: The king was in continual want of supply from the parliament: and he seemed willing to accommodate himself to that dependent situation. Instead of reviving those claims of prerogative, so strenuously insisted on by his predecessors, Charles had strictly confined himself within the limits of law, and had courted, by every art of popularity, the affections of his subjects. Even the severities, however blameable, which he had exercised against non-conformists, are
to to be considered as expedients by which he strove Chap. to ingratiate himself with that party which predominated in parliament. But notwithstanding these i«68. promising appearances, there were many circumstances which kept the government from resting steadily on that bottom on which it was placed. The crown having lost almost all its ancient demesnes, relied entirely on voluntary grants of the people; and the commons, not fully accustomed to this new situation, were not yet disposed to supply with sufficient liberality the necessities of the crown. They imitated too strictly the example of their predecessors in a rigid frugality of public money; and neither sufficiently considered the indigent condition of their prince, nor the general state of Europe; where every nation, by its increase both of magnificence and force, had made great additions to all public expences. Some considerable sums, indeed, were bestowed on Charles; and the patriots of that age, tenacious of ancient maxims, loudly upbraided the commons with prodigality: But if we may judge by the example of a later period, when the government has become more regular, and the harmony of its parts has been more happily adjusted, the parliaments of this reign seem rather to have merited a contrary reproach.
The natural consequence of the poverty of the crown was, besides feeble irregular transactions in foreign affairs, a continual uncertainty in its domestic administration. No one could answer with any tolerable assurance for the measures of the house of commons. Few of the members were attached to the court by any other band than that of inclination. Royalists, indeed, in their principles, but unexperienced in business, they lay exposed to every rumour or insinuation; and were driven by momentary gusts or currents, no less than the populace themselves. Even the attempts G c 2 made ° Lxvp' mac*e to §am an ascendant over them by offices, v^v-^ and, as it is believed, by bribes and pensions, 1668. were apt to operate in a manner contrary to what was intended by the ministers. The novelty of the practice conveyed a general, and indeed a just alarm; while, at the same time, the poverty of the crown rendered this influence very limited and precarious.
The character of Charles was ill fitted to remedy those defects in the constitution. He acted in the administration of public affairs as if government were a pastime, rather than a serious occupation; and by the uncertainty of his conduct, he lost that authority which could alone bestow constancy on the fluctuating resolutions of the parliament. His expences too, which sometimes, perhaps, exceeded the proper bounds, were directed more by inclination than by policy; and while they increased his dependence on the parliament, they were not calculated fully to satisfy either the interested or disinterested part of that assembly. sthofFe- The parliament met, after a long adjournment; Apariia- and the king promised himself every thing from ment. tlie attachment of the commons. All his late measures had been calculated to acquire the goodwill of his people; and, above all, the triple league, it was hoped, would be able to efface all the disagreeable impressions left by the unhappy conclusion of the Dutch war. But a new attempt made by the court, and a laudable one too, lost him, for a time, the effect of all these endeavours. Buckingham, who was in great favour with the king, and carried on many intrigues among the commons, had also endeavoured to support connexions with the non-conformists; and he now formed a scheme, in concert with the lord keeper, sir Orlando Bridgeman, and the chief justice, sir Matthew Hale, two worthy patriots,