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pleased much those who came near him,
an astrologer, of whom it was no wonder he had a good opinion: for he had, long before his restoration, foretold, he should enter London on the 29th of May,-60. · He was yet alive; and Mountague found him, and saw he was capable of being corrupted. So he resolved to prompt him, to send the king such hints as should serve his own ends. And he was so bewitched with the duchess of Cleveland, that he trusted her with this secret. But she, growing jealous of a new amour, took all the ways she could think on to ruin him; reserving this of the astrologer for her last shift. And by it she compassed her ends: for Mountague was entirely 'lost upon it with the king, and came over without being recalleda.” This, at first sight, seems a strange passage: a passage which seems to have been picked up merely to reflect on the king and the ambassador. But improbabilities, though, for a time, they may and ought to hinder the assent of the human mind; do not, ought not, always to prevent it. Our understandings are too narrow; our knowledge too little ; our experience too small; to say, absolutely, what is, or what is not, possible, or impossible, to be believed, or done, by men variously circumstanced: and, therefore, foolish as this story may now appear, it yet, possibly, may be very true; nay, certainly, is so.--For the duchess of Cleveland's letter to the king, is now in the British Museum ; dated, Paris, Tuesday the 28th, -78, and in it is contained the following expressions : “ When I was to come over,” says she," he [Mountague] brought me two letters to bring to you, which he read both to me before he sealed them. The one was a
a Burnet, vol. I. p. 422.
mans, that, he said, you had great faith in; for that. he had, at several times, foretold things to you that were of consequence; and that you believed him in all things, like a changeling as you were: and that now he had wrote you word, that, in a few months, the king of France, and his son, were threatened with death; or, at least, with a great fit of sickness, in which they would be in great danger, if they did not die: and that therefore he counsell'd you to defer any resolutions either of war or peace, till some months were past; for that, if this happened, it would make a great change in France. The ambassador, after he had read this to me, said, Now the good of this is, said he, that I can do what I will with this man: for he is poor; and a good sum of money will make him write whatever I will. So he proposed to me, that he and I should join together in the ruin of my lord treasurer [Danby], and the duchess of Portsmouth ; which might be done thus : The man, though he was infirm and ill, should go into England; and there, after having been a little time, to sollicit you for money ; for that you were so base, that, though you employed him, you let him starve; so that he was obliged to give him 50l. and that the man had writ several times to you for money. And, says he, when he is in England, he shall tell the king things that he foresees will infallibly ruin him; and so wish those to be removed, as having an ill star, that would be unfortunate to you if they were not removed: but if that were done, he was confident you would have the most glorious reign that ever was. This, says he, I am sure I can order so, as to bring to a good effect, if you will a.” From this letter, we may judge of the goodness of Burnet's intelligence; and
a See the Appendix.
rectify an opinion, by too many entertained, that he was hasty and credulous, and a mere recorder of the tales and scandals of the times.
I will conclude this note with the words of M. le Clerc, a man equally remarkable for his sense, learning, and freedom of thought. “There is nothing so common as to see unbelievers,” says he, “ strongly perswaded of Judiciary Astrology; and believing, that magicians can do several things beyond the power
and order of nature. Two great ministers of state, for example, whose actions will not let us think that religion was one of their greatest virtues, are both accused of believing the predictions of astrologers: and one of them, of perswading himself, that a man who vomited several sorts of liquors, did it by the help of magick. Cardinal Richlieu, says an historian, consulted, besides astrology, all kinds of divination; even silly women, whose knowledge consists in vapours, that make them foretell, by chance, some fortuitous events. He was so credulous, as to attribute to the operation of the devil, the art of throwing out at the mouth all sorts of liquors, after having first drunk water; as was done by an Italian mountebank. Mazarine, who was not yet a cardinal, having at so simple a discourse burst out into laughing, had like to lose his favour by it: for the cardinal being provoked at this mirth, whereby he thought Mazarine jeer'd him, said, ironically, to him, that he was not Monsieur Mazarine, who had a profound and exact knowledge of every thing. Mazarine very submissively reply'd, that, giving the fifty pistoles which the mountebank demanded for teaching his secret, it might be seen whether the devil had any hand in it. Mazarine himself looked upon all divinations as fopperies; except astrology, which he strongly fancied, though he feigned the contrary. When Madam Mans
he was an arrant dissembler 3 ; as is con
cini, his sister, dy'd; and afterwards the duchess of. Mercæur, his niece, according to the prediction of an astrologer at Rome, given in writing a great while before, he became extraordinary sad and melancholy, not out of tenderness to his relations, but because this same astrologer had fix'd the term of his own death to a time that was very near. He lost his appetite upon it, and slept not for many nights 4."
3 He was an arrant dissembler.] We have seen the dissimulation of Charles in Scotland b: a dissimulation so base, that it made deep impressions on the minds of many; and gave his adversaries a handle to represent him in no very favourable light. This is taken notice of, and attempted to be apologized for, in the declaration concerning ecclesiastical affairs, published soon after the Restoration. “ We have found,” says the declaration, “ourself not so candidly dealt with as we have deserved; and that there are unquiet and restless spirits, who — continue their bitterness against the church, and endeavour to raise jealousies of us, and to lessen our reputation by their reproaches, as if we were not true to the professions we have made. And, in order thereunto, they have very unseasonably caused to be printed, published, and dispersed, throughout the kingdom, a declaration heretofore printed, in our name, in Scotland; of which we shall say no more, than that the circumstances, by which we were enforced to sign that declaration, are enough known to the world; and that the worthiest and greatest part of that nation did even then detest and abhor the ill usage of us in that particular, when the same tyranny was
* Causes of Incredulity, p. 24. 12mo. Lond. 1697, b In vol. IV. note 14.
fessed even by his friends, and very little to
exercised there, by the power of a few ill men, which; at that time, had spread itself over this kingdom; and therefore we had no reason to expect, that we should at this season (when we are doing all we can' to wipe out the memory of all that hath been done amiss by other men, and, we thank God, have wiped it out of our own remembrance), have been ourself assaulted with those reproaches; which we will likewise forgeta.” This is but a poor apology. If circumstances had not enforced, Cromwell had been no dissembler. To go on. Sheffield observes, that “ Charles was not false to his word; but full of dissimulation, and very adroit at it b.” And Saville, after taking notice," that princes dissemble with too many not to have it discovered;" adds,“ no wonder then that he [Charles] carried it so far that it was discovered. Men,” continues he, “ compared notes, and got evidence: so that those whose morality would give them leave, took it for an excuse for serving him ill. Those who knew bis face, fixed their eyes there; and thought it of more importance to see, than to hear what he said. His face was as little a blab as most mens; yet, though it could not be called a prattling face, it would sometimes tell tales to a good observer. When he thought fit to be angry, he had a very peevish memory: there was hardly a blot that escaped him. At the same time that this shewed the strength of his dissimulation, 'it gave warning too: it fitted his present purpose, but it inade a discovery that put men more upon their guard against him.”—
« Kepnet's Register, p. 289. 6 Buckingham's Works, vol. II. p. 58.
Character of K. Charles II. p. 15.