Page images
PDF
EPUB

A.D. 1678.]

SEEKS TO BRIBE THE KING.

109

a demonstration of vigour from the indolence of his uncle: his influence soon obtained the consent of the StatesGeneral ; and in a few days the new treaty was concluded,

Dec.

31. with the full but unavowed sanction of the Spanish government at Brussels *.

Anxious as Louis had always been to prevent the union of Charles with his enemies, yet he did not suffer the apparent hostility of the English king to withdraw him from his purpose.

1. A long time must necessarily elapse before the British troops could take the field. They were not yet levied, nor had any vote of credit been passed for their support. But a fleet might soon be formed of the ships in actual service; and therefore, as a measure of precaution, he despatched secret orders for the evacuation of Sicily, and the immediate return to France both of his army in that island, and of his naval force in the Mediterraneant. At the same time he sought to damp 17. the military ardour of his English brother, first, by suspending, though with many apologies and expressions of personal esteem, the payment of the yearly pension, of which 50,0001. was actually due; and then by proposing 19. a general truce for twelve months, during which expedients might be devised to satisfy every interest. He assured Montague that no consideration would ever induce him to part with Condé, Valenciennes, and Tournai; and left it to his minister to add that, if Charles could prevail on the prince to consent to the cession of those places, their full value should be paid to the English king in bars of gold concealed within bales of silk, and any sum which the lord treasurer might name as the

• Danby's Letters, 161, 162. 166. 326. Dumunt, vii. 341. May 2, 1678. In the treaty both powers agreed to compel jointly France and Spain to consent : but in article ix. the States assert that they have sufficient assurance of the consent of Spain (satis certi sunt), so that the treaty was in reality directed against France alone. Yet this important point was concealed in the abstract of the treaty entered on the journals.

+ J'envoyai le maréchal de la Feuillade avec ordre de ramener les troupes, et je lui ordonnai de s'y préparer avec tant de sécret et de diligence, que l'union de l'Angleterre avec mes ennemis ne rendît pas leur retour impossible. Euvres de Louis, iv. 143.

C. Journ.

reward of his services should be remitted to him in the shape of diamonds and pearls. As another inducement a hint was thrown out of a marriage between the dauphin and Mademoiselle d’Orleans, the niece of Charles, with the remark, that the interests of that young lady ought to be as dear to her uncle as those of his nephew William. Montague (if he had not already tasted of the bounty of the French king, he had at least received a promise of remuneration) was careful, in the letter which conveyed these proposals, to paint them in the most inviting colours *. But the king proved himself superior to temptation. On the one hand he was kept steady to his purpose by the representations of Danby, who ardently wished to provoke a war with France, on the other by the Duke of York, who warmly espoused the quarrel of his son-in-law, and flattered his own ambition with the hope of reaping an ample harvest of military glory. At the duke's suggestion instructions were sent for the return of the English troops serving in the pay of France; a strong squadron sailed to the Mediterranean to reinforce the fleet under sir John Narborough ; commissions were issued for the completion of the old and the raising of new regiments, and possession of the port of Ostend was demanded from the Spanish government as a depôt for the use of the English army in Flanders .

2° But besides the sovereign there existed another

power, with which Louis did not think it beneath his Nov. dignity to negotiate. The marriage of the princess Mary & had convinced the popular leaders that the prince of

Orange had abandoned their party. Some of them without delay sought the ear of the French ambassador ; a new plan of opposition was devised ; and at his suggestion it was resolved to attribute the recall of the English troops from the French service (a measure which they themselves had repeatedly recommended in parliament) to an intention on the part of the king of rendering himA.D. 1678.]

* Dalrymple, ii. 128. Danby, 40. 45. 48.61. + Danby, 58. 171. 174. 176. 190. Dalrymple, 145.

INTRIGUES WITH THE POPULAR PARTY. 111

self absolute with the aid of a standing army. With Jan. these men Barillon was ordered to continue his con- 1. nection : but several, and those the most influential, stood aloof; and to them the younger Ruvigny was despatched from Paris, as a more acceptable instrument, on account of his relationship to lady Vaughan, and his intimate acquaintance with the family of Russell *. On his arrival 16. he waited on the king and the lord treasurer, to acquaint them that an equivalent might perhaps be accepted for Condé and Valenciennes, but never, in any circumstances, for Tournai. In a private audience with Charles, he made to him the most liberal offers of pecuniary assistance, and begged him to be on his guard against the pernicious counsels of Danby, who sacrificed the interests of his sovereign to his own desire of popularity. To Danby himself he repeated assurances of the high esteem in which he was held by the French monarch, and expressed a hope that the minister would employ the intluence which he so deservedly possessed both with the king and the prince, to extinguish rather than foment animosities and resentments. Finding, however, that his arguments and eloquence made no impression, he sought and obtained several interviews with lord Holles and lord Russell. The latter he found open and communicative: the former was cautious and reserved, but a most bitter enemy of the court. Both seemed to apprehend that there might exist a secret and collusive understanding between the two monarchs; that the present appearance of dissension was assumed merely as à feint to furnish Charles with the pretext of demanding a supply; and that the articles of peace were already settled, and would be made public as soon as the money bill should be passed. But when this cause of jealousy

Ruvigny was instructed to apply first to the king, and then, if he failed of success, to lord Russell. He came about the middle of January, returned to Paris on the 8th of February, and came back before the end of the month. Whether he explained himself to Holles and Russell in his first visit is uncertain. The interviews mentioned in the text are detailed in a memoir of Barillon of the 4th of March.

was removed, they agreed to append to the supply conditions which should render it unacceptable to the king ; to bring forward charges against the lord treasurer and his friends ; to harass the duke of York and the catholics with the proposal of new disqualifications; and to employ every means in their power to provoke the king to adjourn or prorogue the parliament; and Ruvigny, on the part of his sovereign, promised, that, if by their opposition Charles were compelled to renew his connection with France, Louis should employ all his influence to procure a dissolution of parliament, and the ruin of the lord treasurer, two objects equally desired, as equally conducive to their interests, both by the popular party and the French monarch. There is no reason to suppose that Holles and Russell were betrayed into this dangerous and illegal intrigue by pecuniary considerations, It was with them the effect of party zeal and political resentment; and when Russell was asked by Ruvigny to point out the persons among whom he should distribute the large sum which he had brought with him from France, that nobleman indignantly replied, that he should be sorry to have communication with men, who were to be bought with money. His friends, however, were less scrupulous, and it will subsequently appear that several of them accepted valuable presents from the French monarch *.

3. From England Louis turned his attention to the Hague. In the united provinces there was scarcely a man who did not wish for a separate peace. Even those who opposed it in the States were not restrained by principles of honour, but by the ascendency possessed by William, who still refused to hear of any proposal, by which his allies should be abandoned to the resentment of their enemy. But, since his marriage into the royal family of England, his influence had been on the wane; and his countrymen began to suspect the object of his

Dalrymple, 129–136. Danby, Letters, 50. 53. 56. 59.

A.C. 1678.] OPPOSITION TO THE KING IN PARLIAMENT. 113 connection with a monarch, whom of all men they considered as their most bitter enemy. To strengthen this impression the French ambassador was plentifully sup. plied with money, and his agents were instructed to throw out insinuations against the patriotism of the prince, to attribute bis obstinacy in opposing a separate peace to his love of military command, and his frequent intercourse with the English court to a joint design of establishing a system of arbitrary power, both in England, and in the Netherlands. The advocates of peace multiplied rapidly: their numbers encouraged them to speak in a bolder tone, and the prince saw that without some very important change in affairs, he should be no longer able to control the general wish of his country. men *

When the parliament met, Charles informed the two Jan. houses that he had made an alliance defensive and offen- 28. sive with the States for the protection of Flanders; that having failed in his efforts to procure peace by fair means, he would endeavour to procure it by force; that for this purpose it would be necessary to put ninety sail of ships in commission, and to raise thirty or forty thousand men, and that he therefore expected from his faithful subjects a prompt and plentiful supply, which they were at liberty to appropriate to particular purposes in the most rigorous manner that could be devised. The popular leaders dared not directly oppose this demand ; --for they had been the most clamorous among the advocates of war p—but to the address of thanks for the royal

31. speech they artfully appended two very popular but unpalatable requests, that the king would never consent, and would bind his allies never to consent, to any peace

• Danby's Letters, 206. 254. 329. 351. Temple, ii. 427.

+ Ils disent qu'ils n'ont jamais prétendu s'opposer ouvertement à donner de l'argent au Roi; que ce seroit le moyen de s'attirer la haine du peuple, et le reproche de tout ce qui pourroit arriver dans la suite. Dalrym. 134. James, in a letter of Feb. 5, observes to the prince, that“ those who seemed "to be most zealous for a war with France last session, are those who obstruct mo the giving a pply.” Ibid. 147. VOL. XII.

I

« PreviousContinue »