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them to tell out at once all they knew. He put no leading questions, as was the common practice; and only asked them, if Oates was in their secret. They answered, that they all looked upon him as such a rogue, that they would not trust him. Upon this, he observed, that he “ found Lord Howard was not among them, and he believed that was upon the same account.” Yet he knew well enough that he was, for that nobleman was all the time in correspondence with the court, In these examinations, he was far from putting on the blustering demeanour which characterized his legal satellites. The same ease and amenity, which his bearing on all occasions discovered, forsook him not even then. He used to jest and laugh, and was familiar even when severe: he told Lord Essex, on his examination before the council, that he was sorry to see him there; and added, “ you see, my lord, what becomes of your Wapping friends.”* But such pleasantry is more offensive than even the brutality of a Jefferies.
It is not our intention to go into any details respecting the legal murders, exorbitant fines, and long train of enormities, which combine and furnish out one of the blackest pages of our history: these are wrongs too deeply imprinted, for us to fear they should ever be erased from the memory of Englishmen: : But the following facts deserve particular mention, as evincing how capable Charles was of the most flagrant injustice, in cases of a private nature, when he had not even the poor excuse of political expediency to plead. The revenue belonging to the order of the garter was received by the Chancellor, who paid the officers, &c. and the surplus was usually granted by the king to some person for life; out of which he was to defray the charges and fees of admission, when foreign princes and noblemen were elected into the order. This had been given by Charles to Ward, bishop of Salisbury, by a deed, which had the king's hand and seal, but which required to be sealed with that of the order also, in order to become firm and irrevocable. The bishop had probably looked upon this as supererogatory, for he neglected to have it done, but afterwards smarted sufficiently for trusting too much to the royal signature. In the last year of the reign of Charles II. and the first of the precipitate decay of the bishop of Salisbury's intellectuals, some sagacious courtier found out a flaw in this grant; whereupon the bishop was sent for up to London, and obliged to refund the utmost penny, which, in so many years, amounted to a considerable sum ; all which his majesty took, without any scruple or remorse.
* Examen, p. 385.
+ Life of Bishop Ward, p. 92.
There is a story in Burnet, of a transaction in which the king was concerned, that is so gross and iniquitous as almost to stagger belief; but Charles gave, in the course of his life, too many proofs how little honour, conscience, and justice weighed with him against pecuniary considerations, to justify us in calling in question the veracity of the historian. A gentleman of a noble family had the misfortune, in a sudden quarrel that arose in a public place, to kill another of the company in the affray. As no marks of any previous malice appeared, the crime did not extend beyond manslaughter; yet he was prevailed upon to confess to an indictment for murder; a pardon being promised him on condition that he did so, and he being threatened with the utmost rigour of the law in case he stood upon his defence. “ After the sentence had passed, it appeared with what design he had been practised upon. It was a rich family, and not well affected to the court; so he was told that he must pay well for his pardon; and it cost him 16,000t. of which the king had one-half, the other half being divided between two ladies that were great in favour.”
So mercenary was the temper of Charles, or so great his necessities, that he would at any time have sacrificed any minister-abandoned any project-committed any injustice-nay, have even pawned his royal word* for the performance of what he never intended to execute, if he could but procure money, or extort supplies from the commons. The only piece of treason found in Coleman's letters—and yet it was no treason either-was the passage where the king's inconstancy, and his disposition to be brought to any thing for money, were severely reflected upon. Lord Essex told Burnet, he knew the king often took money into his privy purse to defraud his exchequer; for he considered that what was carried thither was not so much his own as the other. And he added, that Sir W. Coventry had once said to him, that, on one occasion, when a plantation cause was heard at the council board, he was concerned to see the king espouse the worst side; and that he went and told him secretly, that it was a vile cause which he was supporting ; the king answered, “ he had got good money for his support.” As early as the year 1662, in a conversation with Lord Clarendon, Charles gave an indication of that laxity of principle, which led him eventually to become a pensioner to the French king. Fouquet, the French minister, was desirous to be on terms of strict friendship with Lord Clarendon, and with a view to rivet the alliance, he sent him the offer of 10,0001. with an assurance, that the same present should be renewed annually. It happened that the king and the duke visited him in the afternoon of the day on which this offer had been made, and to them he repeated, in great indignation, what had passed in the morning. At this, the king and his brother broke into a laugh: they said, “ the French did all their business that way;" and the king added, “ he was a fool,” implying that the Chancellor should have taken the money. Whereupon Clarendon besought him, “ not to appear to his servants so unconcerned in matters of that nature ;” and desired him to reflect, what must be the consequence of his receiving the money, and what must be the appearance it would have in the eyes of the French king? At which Charles smiled, but made no other reply, than “ that few men were so scrupulous ;' at the same time commanding him, “ to return a civil answer to M. Fouquet's letter, and to cherish that correspondence, which might be useful, and could produce no inconveniency.”* None of the Stuarts appear to have had any delicacy on the subject of taking money from foreign princes, or to have set any store upon the virtue of incorruptibility in their servants. James I. was once told by a gentleman, that several noblemen of his court and council received pensions from Spain; and that he could make it out. The king answered him, “ that he knew it very well,” and made a jest of it; adding, “ he wished the King of Spain would give them ten times as much ; because this unprofitable expense would render him less able to make war against himself.”+ How different from the supine and dishonourable temper of the Stuarts, were the spirit and conduct of Elizabeth! When Nicholas Clifford, and Anthony Shirley, to whom Henry IV. had given the order of St. Michael, for services done him in the war, had returned home, the queen sent them to prison, and commanded them to send back the order. She said, that, as a virtuous woman ought to look on none but her husband, so a subject ought not to cast his eyes on any other sovereign than him God hath set over him. “ I will not,” said she, “ have my sheep marked with a strange brand ; nor suffer them to follow the pipe of a strange shepherd.”+ What would this princess have said, could she have foreseen that her sceptre would one day pass into the hands of a monarch mean enough to bargain for a pension with a King of France, and to authorize his minister to negociate it for him to the most advantage! After this, we need not be surprised to find him utterly insensible to national glory, or even promoting the interests of France, at the expense of his own subjects. “ He has now,” says Louis XIV. in a letter to his ambassador
* Burnet. Continuation of the Life of Lord Clarendon.
at London, (D’Estrades,) August 5, 1661, “ a fleet of 160 sail, for which he is obliged to his misfortunes; by the care of the Protector, whilst in authority, to increase the naval force beyond what any King of England ever could do.”* And yet, with a fleet thus powerful, had it not been for what he termed, “ the stiffness and obstinacy of his people and parliament,” he would have given up the honour of the fag to that monarch-a point yielded to Elizabeth by Henry IV. and asserted with an high hand even under James. He had also, as has been observed, a strong mechanical genius, and particularly understood shipbuilding, as well as all that related to the management of a fleet. And what use did he make of his knowledge and abilities? Rouvigny told Burnet, that Charles desired the French ministers to send him all the methods they took to improve their naval force; and these he studied with great zeal and diligence. He shewed them what errors they committed, and how they ought to be corrected, as if he had been a viceroy to France, rather than a king of England. They that judged the most favourably of this, thought it was done out of revenge to the Dutch; but others put a worse construction on it.
But it was not only in pecuniary transactions that Charles discovered a total want of honour and principle-he was, in truth, what the Protector called him, in one of his state declarations, “ a nullifidian in all the points of civil honesty;" and he seems not merely to have thought that there was no such thing in the world, but that it was not worth while to affect even the appearance of it. He certainly was not fond of playing the hypocrite, but walked bare-faced through life, and only on great and rare occasions condescended to wear a masque. He had a very ill opinion both of men and women, and did not think there was either sincerity in the one, or chastity in the other, out of principle; but that they originated merely in the humour or vanity of the persons who pretended to them ;-a belief, it may be observed, which 'either springs from a depraved heart, or will inevitably render so that in which it is implanted. When money bills were passing through the two houses, Lauderdale advised the king, in order to prevent all trouble from the lords, to go and be present at their debates. Charles himself, who was often weary of time, and hardly knew how to get through the day, liked going to the house, as a pleasant diversion. At first, he sat decently on the throne, but soon left it, and stood by the fire, which drew a crowd about the place, and put an end to the order and regularity which the lords had been accustomed to observe in
taking their seats. His presence, at first, was a great restraint on the freedom of debate; but afterwards many of the lords spoke with more than their usual boldness; because one heard it, they said, to whom they had no other access but in that place. But his going thither had a much worse effect than either breaking up the decorum of the house, or restraining the freedom of debate; for he became a common solicitor, not only in public affairs, but even in private and judicial matters. He would, in a very little time, have gone round the house, and spoke to every man that he thought, worth speaking to. And he was apt to do that upon the solicitation of any of the ladies in favour. He knew well on whom he could prevail : so being once in a matter of justice desired to speak to the Earl of Essex and the Lord Hollis, he said, they were “ stiff and sullen men.” But when he was next desired to solicit two. others, he undertook to do it, and said, “ they are men of no conscience, so I will take the government of their conscience into my own hands.” * The minister who maintained his influence with the king longest, and, during the greatest part of his reign, 'contrived to keep an entire ascendant over him, was Lauderdale, though a bigotted presbyterian, and of a character and deportment diametrically opposite to that of Charles. But he made himself so useful, extended the royal prerogative in Scotland so far, and shewed such a disposition to render it absolutely uncontroulable, that he kept his place, in defiance of repeated addresses of the house of commons against him, and reiterated complaints from Hamilton and other Scottish peers. : Charles loaded the latter with caresses, and continued Lauderdale in his authority.+ However, about the year 1669, when he found that his favourite minister's'memory began to fail him, he resolved to let him fall gently, and to put the affairs of Scotland into the hands of the Duke of Monmouth. Duke Hamilton and others were encouraged to come up and prefer charges against him, which were so clearly made out, that Charles had nothing to say in defence of his administration. Yet when May, the master of the privy purse, asked him, in his familiar way, what he thought now of his Lauderdale? he replied, as May himself told Burnet, “ that they had objected many damned things that he had done against them, but there was nothing objected that was against his service.” A sentiment, as Mr. Hume justly observes, most unworthy of a sovereign!
But so far was Charles from holding correct opinions on the subject of government, that he does not appear to have