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any measure which would throw discredit on their pre
decessors in office. Though Ormond came forward to 1671.
oppose the prayer of the petitioners, though Finch, the Feb. 1. attorney-general, pronounced against their claim, a com
4. mittee was appointed to review the settlement of Ireland ; Aug. and, on a representation that their powers were defec1. tive, they afterwards obtained authority to send for per
sons, papers, and records, and to require information from all officers under the crown. The commissioners were prince Rupert, the duke of Buckingham, the earls of Lauderdale and Anglesey, the lords Holles, and Ashley, secretary Trevor, and sir Thomas Chicheley. They proceeded slowly: more than a year was employed in the examination of papers and witnesses, in comparing the arguments of the petitioners with the contrary claims of the ldiers, adventurers, and purchasers of lands in Connaught, and in hearing the complaints brought
against the duke of Ormond, and his defence of his con1673.
duet. The duration of the commission, and its renewal Jan. with more extensive powers, raised the hopes of the 17. natives; but their opponents sought the powerful aid of
the English house of commons, which had lately compelled the king to rescind the declaration of indulgence, and had passed several resolutions expressive of their hatred to popery and its professors. The cause was
warmly taken up by the popular leaders; and an address Mar. was presented to the king, demanding the revocation of 25. the commission, the maintenance of the act of settlement
in Ireland, the banishment of the catholic priests from that kingdom, the expulsion of all catholic inhabitants out of Irish corporations, and the punishment of colonel Richard Talbot, who had acted as agent for the natives before the commission. Charles briefly replied, that on all these particulars it would be his care that no man
should have reason to complain; and, in the course of 26. a few days, the commission was dissolved, and the pros
pect of relief for ever closed to the great body of the peti
A.D. 1673.] ACT OF SETTLEMENT REVIEWED. 85 tioners. The king, indeed, still cherished the hope of mitigating their sufferings. He appointed a committee of the council to reconsider the subject; but no other benefit resulted from their deliberation, than the trifling addition of 20001. per annum to a fund which had already been provided for the purpose of furnishing pensions to the twenty nominees in the act of explana
• Carte, ii. 427.9. 438. C. Journ. Mar. 25, 26.
Congress at Nimeguen-Secret Treaty with Louis XIV.- Debates on the
legality of the Parliament-Pension from France-Intrigues and Con. quests of Louis-Opposition to the King in Parliament-Peace between France and the States-General Peace-Plot forged by Titus OatesThe Test Act-Accusation of the Queen-Trials and Executions-Perfidy of Montague-Impeachment of Danby-Prorogation.
1674. On the conclusion of peace with the States in 1674,
Charles had offered his mediation to the different powers at war. He proposed that the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle should be taken for the basis of a general pacification : but the confederates would submit to nothing short of the treaty of the Pyrenees, that France might be again confined within its ancient boundaries; and Louis, proud of his superiority, refused to accept of any other alternative than to retain his conquests, or to exchange them for an equivalent. With pretensions so contradictory both parties awaited the issue of the campaign, in the hope that some fortunate occurrence might give additional weight to their demands. A whole year (so numerous were the difficulties raised, so opposite the interests to be consulted,) passed away in the arrangement of the preliminaries; the place of meeting, the
powers to be admitted, the titles and rank which they 1675. were to assume, became subjects of endless discussion; July and when at last the congress was opened at Nimeguen,
the place proposed by the king of England, it soon appeared that none of the parties (with the exception perhaps of the States-General) sought to bring it to a conclusion. It was the object of Louis to break the confederacy, to negotiate successively with his different
A.D. 1675.] SECRET TREATY WITH FRANCE.
87 opponents, and to obtain by separate treaties, what he foresaw would be refused, as long as the confederates remained united. The emperor and the queen regent of Spain, persuaded that England and Holland would never allow the Netherlands to pass into the possession of France, placed their hopes on the prosecution of the war. They were encouraged by the counsels and influence of the prince of Orange; and all three, instead of attending to the congress at Nimeguen, bent their efforts to draw the king of England, as an ally, into the war. They represented to him that he held the destinies of Europe in his hands, and that, instead of the office of mediator, he might take upon himself to dictate the conditions of peace. He had only to join his forces with those of the confederates: Louis would instantly recede from his lofty pretensions; Flanders would be saved ; and a balance of power would be established. Did he allege a want of money? They would grant him a more ample subsidy than he had received from France as an ally. Did he wish to recover Dunkirk ? They would undertake to reduce, and to place it in his hands. But it was in vain that they appealed to his poverty or to his ambition. Experience had taught him a lesson, which he could not readily forget.
He knew that to engage in war, was to become a suppliant to the bounty, and a dependent on the pleasure, of parliament *.
Ruvigny, the French minister in London, was not blind to this intrigue. When Charles first withdrew from the alliance with Louis, Ruvigny, in the bitterness of his disappointment, charged the king with desertion and ingratitude: but he soon received instructions to abstain from irritating language, to keep the English monarch to his purpose of mediation, and even to offer to him, should such an inducement appear necessary, as the price of his neutrality, the same amount of subsidy which he had previously received for his alliance during
• Temple, ii. 263, 284. 303. 319. 325. 333. 339. 363. Dalrymple, ii. 118.
1676. the war*. For eighteen months Charles resisted the
temptation; and it was not till the house of commons had returned an unqualified refusal to his request of money, that, despairing of aid from his own subjects, he consented to throw himself into the arms of a foreign prince. In a private conversation between him and Ruvigny it was agreed that the king of France should pay a yearly pension to the king of England; that the two sovereigns should bind themselves to enter into no engagements with other powers unless by mutual consent; and that each should lend effectual aid to the
other in the event, of rebellion within their respective Feb. 7. kingdoms. The only persons to whom Charles commu
nicated this treaty were his brother, and the duke of Lauderdale, and the earl of Danby. James made no remark-he had been previously acquainted with the royal purpose- and Lauderdale, according to custom, applauded the wisdom of his sovereign : but Danby, who had deeply engaged himself to the prince of Orange, demurred: he asked time for consideration; his consent, he observed, might endanger his life; he wished the king would consult the privy council. But Charles cut the
Gordian knot with the same facility as he had previously 17. done on a similar occasion. He dispensed with the ser
vices and the signatures of his counsellors; he put the treaty into writing with his own hand, and signed, sealed, and delivered it to Ruvigny, who, on his part, engaged to return to him within twenty days a copy of the same treaty signed and sealed by the king of France. By this secret proceeding both princes obtained their objects ; Charles the money which had been refused by parliament, Louis security that Charles, for some time at least, would not make common cause with his enemies. But the English king, if he possessed the spirit of a man, must have keenly felt the degradation. He * Danby, letters, 2. 5.
+ Dalrymple, ii. 99. 102. The exact amount of the pension is not mentioned; but as Charles in a short time,“ bientôt après," received 400,000 crowns, it was probably about 100,0001. per annum.