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papist". This, as it was a matter of great
8 He probably lived, as it is certain he died, a papist.] There had been suspicions of the king's being a papist, 'even before his restoration : and these had been increased by the favour shewn to many of the catholic persuasion, after his return. But his majesty always professed himself a zealous protestant, and a foe to the Romish church. In his letter to the Convention parliament, from Breda, he talks much of his zeal and concern for the protestant faith. If you desire,” says he," the advancement and propagation of the protestant religion; we have, by our constant profession, and practice of it, given sufficient testimony to the world, that neither the unkindness of those of the same faith towards us, nor the civilities and obligations from those of a contrary profession (of both which we have had abundant evidence), could in the least degree startle us, or make us swerve from it; and nothing can be proposed to manifest our zeal and affection for it, to which we will not readily consent: and we hope, in due time, ourself to propose somewhat to you for the propagation of it, that will satisfy the world, that we have always made it both our care, and our study, and have enough observed what is most like to bring disadvantage to it.” Thus also, in a message sent by him to the house of lords, to be imparted to the house of commons, Ap. 2, 1663, his majesty“ declares, and assures both his houses of parliament, and all his loving subjects of all his dominions, that as his affection and zeal for the protestant religion hath not been concealed or untaken notice of in the world; so he is not, nor will ever be, so sollicitous for the settling his own revenue, or providing any other expedients for the peace and tranquillity of
triumph to the Roman catholics, so was it
the kingdom, as for the advancement and improvement of the religion established, and for the using and applying all proper and effectual remedies to hinder, the growth of poperya.” And in his speech to the parliament, March 6, 1678, 0. S. he says,
“I will with my life defend both the protestant religion and the laws of this kingdom."-But notwithstanding these public professions, it is probable he was a papist in his heart. For Burnet affirms, “ that before king Charles left Paris, he changed his religion; but by whose perswasion is not yet known: only cardinal de Retz was on the secret, and lord Aubigny had a great hand in it. It was kept a great secret. Chancellor Hyde had some suspicions of it, but would never suffer himself to believe it quite. Soon after the Restoration, that cardinal came over in disguise, and had an audience of the king: what passed is not known. The first ground I had to believe it was this: the marquis de Roucy, who was the man of the greatest family in France that continued protestant to the last, was much pressed by that cardinal to change bis religion. He was his kinsman, and his particular friend. Among other reasons, one that he urged was, that the protestant religion must certainly be ruined ; and that they could expect no protection from England: for, to his certain knowledge, both the princes were already changed. Roucy told this in great confidence to his minister ; who, after his death, sent an advertisement of it to myself. Sir Allen Broderick, a great confident of the chancellor's, who, from being very atheistical, became in the last years of his
* Journals of the House of Commons.
a great blow to those who had had the impu
life an eminent penitent, as he was a man of great parts, with whom I had lived long in great confidence, on his death-bed sent me likewise an account of this matter, which he believed was done at Fontainebleau, before king Charles was sent to Colena.?? Lord Halifax says, “ Some pretend to be very precise in the time of his reconciling; the cardinal de Retz, &c. I will not enter into it minutely; but whenever it was, it is observable that the governinent of France did not think it adviseable to discover it openly: upon which such obvious, reflexions may be made, that I will not inention thein. Such a secret can never be put into a place, which is so closely stopt that there shall be no chinks. Whisper went about, particular men had informations. Cromwell had his advertisements in other things; and this was as well worth his paying for. There was enough said of it to startle a great many, though not universally diffused: so much that if the government bere had not crumbled of itself, his right alone, with that and other clogs upon it, would hardly have thrown it down. I conclude, that when he came into England he was as certainly a Roman catholick, as that he was a man of pleasure; both very consistent by visible experience. The Roman catholicks complained of his breach of promise to them very early, There were broad peepings out; glimpses so often repeated, that to discerning eyes it was glaring. In the very first year there were such suspicions as produced melancholy shakings of the head, which were very significant. His unwillingness to marry a protestant, though, both the Catholick and the Christian crown
* Burnet, vol. I. p. 73.
dence, on all occasions, to assert his regard
would have adopted her. Very early in his youth, when any German princess was proposed, he put off the discourse with rallery. A thousand little circumstances were a kind of accumulative evidence, which in these cases may be admitted. Men that were earnest protestants, were under the sharpness of his displeasure, expressed by rallery as well as by other
ways, Men near him have made discoveries from suduen break, ings out in discourse, &c. which shewed there was
It was not the least skilful part of his concealing himself, to make the world think he leaned towards an indifference in religion. He had sicknesses before his death; in which he did not trouble any protestant di. vines. Those who saw him upon his death-bed, saw a great deal 4.” The duke of Buckingham, however, seems not willing to allow him to have been a Roman catholic; at least not till the last scene of his life. His account cannot, consistently with the impartiality of history, be omitted.--Here, therefore, are his words, “ I dare, confidently, affirm his religion to be only that which is vulgarly (tho unjustly) counted none at all.; I mean, deism. And this uncommon opinion he owed more to the liveliness of his parts, and carelessness of his temper, than either to reading or much consideration: for his quickness of apprehension, at first view, could discern thro' the several cheats of pious pretences; and his natural laziness confirmed him in an equal mistrust of them all, for fear he should be troubled with examining which religion was best. If in his early travels and late administration, he seem'dą little biassed to one sort of religion, the first is only to be
a Character of K, Charles II. p. ell.
to the national religion: a blow yet the
imputed to a certain easiness of temper, and a complaisance for that company he was then forced to keep; and the last was no more than his being tired (which he soon was in any difficulty) with those bold oppositions in parliament; which made him almost throw himself into the arms of a Roman catholick party, so remarkable in England for their loyalty, who embraced him gladly, and lulled him asleep with those enchanting songs of absolute sovereignty, which the best and wisest of princes are often unable to resist. And tho' he engaged himself on that side more fully at a time when it is in vain and too late to dissemble; we ought less to wonder at it, than to consider that our very judgments are apt to grow in time as partial as our affections: and thus by accident only, he became of their opinion, in his weakness, who had so much endeavoured, always, to contribute to his power." A man disposed to criticise, has here an ample field for it. The causes and uncommonness of deism; the loyalty of English Roman catholics; and the accidental embracing an opinion different from what we have been wont to entertain in religion, in the article of death; are so glaringly absurd, that nothing but his grace's character, as a poet, can excuse them. I have not leisure, however, more particularly to examine them; and therefore shall content myself with observing, that, though this writer begins with affirming that Charles was a deist, he owns him biassed to popery living, and professing it in the most important moment: which is pretty near the thing which he sets himself to oppose. Such are the privileges of noble authors !
a Buckingham's Works, vol. II. p. 55.