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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 powera.”— 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.
more severe, as there were, soon after his
But there are not wanting other authorities, to render the charge of popery probable against Charles.--As early as in September 2, 1650, Mr. Whitlock tells us of “ letters that propositions and motives were presented tot he pope, on the behalf of king Charles the Second ; shewing his good inclinations to the catholicks, by what he had done in Ireland for them, and in other instances; and desiring from his holiness considerable sums of money out of his treasury, and that he would send to all princes and states of the catholick religion in Europe, to contribute to the assistance of king Charles; with several other the like proposals, and a copy of them inclosed in the letters a.” Mr. Thurloe, in a letter to Mountague, afterwards lord Sandwich, dated, Whitehall, Ap. 28, 1656, says, “the pretended kingputs himself and his cause into the hands of the king of Spain, to be managed by him; and hath declared himself in private to them to be a Roman catholick, as they call it b.” Thurloe, we know, had the best intelligence. Two or three paragraphs from Mr.Carte's History of the Duke of Ormonde, will, in the opinion of a few, add some farther force to the foregoing proofs.
- " The duke,” he tells us,“ had some suspicions of the kings change of religion, from the time that they removed from Cologne into Flanders; though he was not fully convinced, till about the time the treaty of the Pyrenees was going to be opened. The duke,” continues this writer, “ was always a very early riser; and being then at Brussels, used to amuse himself, at times others were in bed, in walking about the town, and seeing the churches. Going one morning very
* Whitlock, p. 469.
o Ormonde's Letters, vol. IL p. 102.
death, copies of two letters in defence of
early by a church, where a great number of people were at their devotions, he stepped in; and, advancing near the altar, he saw the king on his knees at mass, He readily imagined, his majesty would not be pleased that he should see him there; and therefore retired as çautiously as he could, went to a different part of the church near another altar where nobody was, knecled. down, and said his own prayers till the king was gone. Some days afterwards, Sir Henry Bennet came to him, and told his grace, that the kings obstinacy, in not declaring himself a Roman catholick, put them to great difficulties; that the kings of France and Spain pressed him mightily to do it, and their anı bassadors sollicited it daily, with assurances,, that if he would make that public declaration, they would both assist him, jointly, with all their powers, to put him on the throne of England like a king; that he and others had urged this, and endeavoured to persuade him to declare bimself, but all in vain; that it would ruin his affairs if he did not do it; and begged of the duke of Ormonde to join in perswading him to declare himself. The duke said, he could never attempt to perswade his majesty to act the hypocrite, and declare himself to be what he was not in reality. Sir Henry thereupon replied, That the king had certainly professed himself a Roman catholick, and was a real convert; only he stuck at the declaring himself so openly. The duke of Ormonde answered, He was very sorry for it; but he could pot meddle in the matter: for the king having never made a confidence of it to him, would not be pleased with his knowledge of the change he had made; and for his own part, he was resolved never to take any notice of it to his majesty, till he himself first made him the dis
the authority of the Church of Rome, pub
covery. Sometime afterwards, George, earl of Bristol, came to the duke, complaining of the folly and madness of Bennet, and others about the king, who were labouring to perswade him to what would absolutely ruin his assairs. The duke asking what it was; the other replied, that it was to get the king to declare himself a Roman catholick; which if he once did, they should be all undone: and therefore desired his grace's assistance to prevent so fatal a step. The duke of Ora monde said, It was very strange, that any body should have the assurance to offer to perswade his majesty to declare himself what he was not; especially in a point of so great consequence. Bristol answered, That was not the case, for the king was really a Roman catholick; but the declaring himself so would rụin his affairs in England. · And as for the mighty promises of assistance from France and Spain, you, my lord, and I, know yery well, that there is no dependance or stress to be laid on them, and that they would give more to get one frontier garrison into their bands, than to get the catholick religion, established, not only in England but all over Europe: and then desired his grace to join in diverting the king from any thoughts of declaring himself in a point which would certainly destroy, his interest in England for ever, and yet not do him the least service abroad. The duke allowed, that the earl of Bristol judged very rightly in the case; but excused himself from meddling in the matter, because the king had kept his conversion as a secret from him, and it was by no means proper for him to shew that he had made the discoverya.” After the Restoration, the king,
2 Carte's History of the Duke of Ormonde, vol. II, p. 2540
lished by the command of his brother and
as we have seen, professed himself a protestant: but at the time of his death he took off the mask, and openly appeared to be what he really was. In the paper, entitled, “ A brief account of particulars occurring at the happy death of our late Sovereign Lord, King Charles II. in regard to religion; faithfully related by his then assistant, Mr. Jo. Huddleston;" printed in the second volume of the State Tracts of this reign; we read, That “he [Huddleston] being called into the kings bed-chamber, the king declared, that he desired to die in the faith and communion of the holy Roman catholic church: that he was most heartily sorry for all the sins of his past life; and, particularly, for that he had deferred his reconciliation so long : that through the merits of Christ's passion, he hoped for salvation: that he was in charity with all the world : that with all his heart he pardon'd his enemies; and desired pardon of all those whom he had any, wise offended : and that if it pleased God to spare him longer life, he would amend it; detesting all sin. I then advertiz’d his majesty," says the writer, “ of the benefit and necessity of the Sacrament of Penance; which advertizement the king most willingly embracing, made an exact confession of his whole life, with exceeding compunction and tenderness of heart: which ended, I desired him in farther sign of repentance and true sorrow for his sins, to say, with me, a little short act of contrition. This he pronounced with a clear and audible voice: which done, and his sacramental penance admitted, I gave him absolution. After some time thus spent, I asked his majesty, if he did not also desire to have the other sacraments of the holy church administered unto him? He reply'd, By all means : I de