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his gratitude more ample, is too bold a position to be maintained by those who are at all acquainted with his character. That, where so many false and ridiculous claims were set up, he should be averse to enter into any strict discussion or inquiry, might have been imputed less to his indifference than to his indolence; but the fact was, he seldom, or never, shewed himself liberal of his bounty, where the demand upon his gratitude was incontestably just and peremptory. Those from whom he had received personal kindnesses, as Mr. Lane and the Penderells, were, indeed, not absolutely forgotten; but he gave one or two signal proofs, how little he was in the habit of considering political services, as constituting any sort of claim to his favour or protection. The last Earl of Derby, of the family of Stanley, has taken a singular revenge on his me
near his seat in Lancashire, the shameful neglect which his family reaped, as the sole reward of all their sufferings in the cause of royalty. It runs as follows: “ James, Earl of Derby, Lord of Man and the Isles, grandson of James, Earl of Derby, and of Charlotte, daughter of Claude, Duke de la Tremouille, whose husband, James, was beheaded at Bolton, 15 Octob. 1652, for the strenuously adhering to Charles II., who refused a bill, past unanimously by both houses of parliament, for restoring to the family the estate lost by his loyalty to him. 1732.** .: How far the English cavaliers would have been benefited by any exactions made upon the opposite party, supposing the latter not to have been protected from sequestrations by the salutary fears, under which his majesty laid, may be conjectured from the government proceedings in Scotland, over whose political offences no blessed bill of oblivion and indemnity had been drawn. A considerable sum of money had been raised in that country by fines, which, according to the act of parliament, was to be distributed among those, who had served and suffered for the king. The cavaliers came up in crowds with their pretensions, but were disappointed of their last hopes of recompense—the money having been applied to raising a military force.+ Charles threw the blame of this transaction upon Sharpe, (the archbishop,) who, he knew, durst not contradict him, as if by so doing he could have shifted his dishonour from himself, without whose authority neither Sharpe, nor any body else, durst have taken such a step. On the whole, it must be confessed, that making every allowance for that indolence of temper, which would never permit him to be at the trouble
* Rapin's History by Tindal.
of inquiring into the justice of the claims made upon his bounty, and for the narrowness of his revenue, as well as the voracity of his needy courtiers, which left him without the means to satisfy such as were clearly established, it may reasonably be doubted whether a more active disposition, and less embarrassed finances, would have served any other end, than to display his ingratitude in a yet more conspicuous light. Two more flagrant instances remain to be noticed, after which we shall leave this part of his character to the reader's mercy, to be judged as it deserves. To the states of Holland, and the family of the Prince of Orange, he was considerably indebted. The one had entertained him with great magnificence, at a vast charge, during his stay among them, and loaded him with valuable gifts, at his departure;* and the other had been impoverished by their imprudent but generous exertions in favour of his father and himself. This kindness Charles acknowledged by making two successive wars upon the first, each more infamous and unprovoked than the other; and treating the latter (more fortunate certainly in the absence of any such demonstration of his regard) with total indifference. To the Dutch, who were absolutely the only people on the continent, who had expressed any friendship or even civility towards him, he entertained an avowed and personal hatred ; and when obliged to sign a peace with them, for want of means to carry on the war longer, he declared, that he had done “a thing, which went more against his heart than the loss of his right hand.” And the Prince of Orange, who, in the winter of 1669, came over to see after the great debt due to him from the king, and to try to engage his uncle to assist him in recovering the stadtholdership, he repaid with good words, and a vast shew of civility, “but neither then, nor afterwards, did he bestir himself in that matter, though if either gratitude or interest had been of force, he must have been inclined to make some returns for the services the late prince did him.”f And yet Charles would occasionally shew himself mindful of an ancient favour, and grateful to an ancient friend : pity that this was not oftener the case, for no one could confer a favour like him, no one ever possessed in such perfection, that graceful and benevolent air, which enhances an obligation, and delights the person obliged, even more than the favouritself.-“ April 20, 1665. To Whitehall, (we quote from Evelyn's Journal,) to the king, who called me into his bed-chamber as he was dressing, to whom I shewed the letter written to me, from the Duke of York, from the fleets,
giving me notice of young Evertson, and some other considerable commanders newly taken in the fight with the Dartmouth and Diamond frigates; whom he had sent me as prisoners of war; I went to know of his majesty how he would have me treat them, when he commanded me to bring the young captain to him..... &c. (he was eldest son of Cornelius, Vice Admiral of Zealand, and nephew of John, now admiral, a most valiant person).... The king gave him his hand to kiss, and gave him his liberty; asked many questions concerning the fight, (it being the first blood drawn,) his majesty remembering the many civilities he had formerly received from his relations abroad. ... Then I was commanded to go with him to the Holland ambassador, where he was to stay for his passport, and I was to give him fifty pieces in broad gold.” ... Charles's liberality, however, or want of it, had very little to do with the main question at issue between himself and his people; as a sovereign he was little better, or little worse, for being endowed with a greater or less proportion of generosity, an ingredient of rather a doubtful description in the composition of a monarch's character, and full as likely to be displayed at the expense, as for the benefit, of his subjects. The two best and wisest sovereigns of any age, or country, our own Elizabeth, and her contemporary, Henry IV. of France, neither of those affected the praise of generosity, or were very liberal of their bounty; and those who served them with the sword, or the pen, were apt to complain, and not always without reason, that their rewards were by no means proportioned to the length or nature of their services. Yet we know not that the sage statesmen, or armed warriors, who, in their different vocations, adorned the reigns of these two sovereigns, were, on that account, less zealous or less active in their cause; and that which the courtier might term the niggardliness of their temper, was certainly, in its effects, generosity to the people, whom they governed. To be lavish of what is not one's own, is a cheap and easy method of acquiring a reputation for liberality; and that profuse expenditure of the public money, which opens a hundred venal throats in praise of the monarch, is nothing but an ungenerous waste of the property of the subjects. The country is drained of that, which, if allowed to circulate freely through its veins, would promote health and vegetation, clothing the hills with verdure, and making the valleys smile with plenty; but, to vary the favourite metaphor of the advocates of taxation, the dews, thus exhaled, descend not back, in refreshing showers, upon their mother earth, but are rained down on a thirsty and barren sand, which returns neither herb nor tree, fruit nor flower. A tender care of the purses, no less than of the persons, of his subjects, with which lavish grants and indiscriminate bounty are utterly inconsistent, is true generosity in a prince; and had the insensibility, which Charles too often evinced, to the services of his ancient friends, proceeded from this motive, that which his contemporaries called ingratitude, posterity would have more justly pronounced a considerate regard for the interests of his people. But the character, which the Roman historian has given of a great patriot of his time, might be applied, with but little modification, to the
whicle regarding would which his comencient thick Charlesene.
Boroad, of his hoolish and scandant what was in fell in their
he was lavish of his own; though not generous, he was profuse and extravagant; his mistresses, and the companions of his social pleasures, could gain, by solicitation, from the easiness of his temper, what, on better principles, would have been vainly sought from his justice, or liberality. Sir John Reresby gives a ludicrous instance of the extreme readiness of the people about the Court to snap up every thing that fell in their way, as well as of his majesty to grant what was not even his to dispose of. A foolish and scandalous report had some how got abroad, of his having caused the death of a black servant of his, by an operation, which he was said to have had performed upon him. "Sir John laughed at it at first, but he quickly changed his note, when he heard that the Duke of Norfolk had been begging his estate of the king, as forfeited by the felony; and on his arrival in town, he found that a Mr. Felton, of the bed-chamber, had not only asked, but actually obtained a grant of it. Sir John could not well digest this readiness of the king's to grant away his estate; but his majesty professed he did not remember any grant he had made of it to any person whatsoever. The Lord Treasurer assured him also, that he had taken great pains to prevent the begging of his estate ; and Sir John believed it to be true, but shrewdly suspected it was with design, had it proved a forfeiture, to have secured it for himself. Indeed he was told as much afterwards.*
Whenever Charles's bounty flowed, it proceeded from no sense of gratitude, or consideration of policy, but entirely from an imbecillitas frontis,t which left him no power to utter å denial, and no other means of rescuing himself from importunity, than granting whatever was requested. It is a just observation of one, who understood his character, but has naturally enough shewn himself too indulgent to its defects, that
mind, the passions are damped into a kind of indifference, grow faint and languishing, and become subordinate to the funda
* Memoirs of Sir John Reresby, p. 36. &c.
and yet face, andhoudere part
mental maxim of not purchasing, or withstanding any thing; at the price of a difficulty. “This made, that he had as little eagerness to oblige, as he had to hurt men; the motive of his giving bounties, was rather to make men less uneasy to him, than more easy to themselves; and yet no ill-nature all this while. He would slide from an asking face, and could guess very well. It was throwing a man off from his shoulders, that leaned upon them with his whole weight; so that the party was not gladder to receive, than he was to give. It was a kind of implied bargain; though men seldom kept it, being so apt to forget the advantage they had received, that they would presume the king would as little remember the good he had done them, so as to make it an argument against their next re
As it is evident that Charles was not of a disposition to be led away by effusions of gratitude, or imprudent bursts of generosity, it might have been expected that his colder temper would have left him free to pursue the dictates of prudence and justice. But the same imbecility of mind, the same unsteadiness of purpose and levity of temper, and the same want of principle, which either made, or found him extravagant and profuse, without being either generous or grateful, left him equally regardless of the distinction of right and wrong, and as prone to violate the rights of his subjects, as he was greedy and lavish of their property. It is but fair, however, to hear what those have to urge in his behalf, who have attempted to vindicate his character, or palliate his offences. “He was surely," says Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham," inclined to justice; for nothing else would have retained him so fast to the succession of a brother, against a son he was so fond of, and the humour of a party he so much feared.”* Agreeable to this view of the matter, is a story which the author of the Examen has quoted from some forgotten pamphlet of that day; the truth of which he finds no reason to doubt," the rather because the pamphlet itself is so rare, as looks as if the whole edition had been secured from the public,”—a practice, it seems, of the whig faction, when any thing, they did not like, was thought fit to be suppressed. Although we think we could assign a much better reason for the scarcity of the pamphlet in question, we see none at all why the account should not be true, since the circumstances related are likely enough to have happened, and are quite consistent with the characters of the parties concerned. It states, that on the 24th of March, 1681, “the great
* Marquis of Halifax, Character of King Charles II. + Character of King Churles II. Duke of Buckingham's Works, vol. ii.