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LXXXIV. PLAIN DEALING.
DURING Sir Robert Walpole's administration, when bribery was common if not universal, there was one particular question which he wanted to carry in the House of Commons, to which he knew there would be violent opposition, and which was disliked by some of his own dependents. As he was passing through the Court of Requests, he met a member of the opposite party, whose avarice he imagined would not reject a large bribe. He took him aside, and said, “Such a question comes on this day; give me your vote, and here is a bank-bill of two thousand pounds,” which he put into his hands. The member made this answer: “Sir Robert, you have lately served some of my particular friends; and when my wife was last at court, the King was very gracious to her, which must have happened at your instance. I should therefore think myself very ungrateful (putting the bankbill into his pocket) if I were to refuse the favour you are now pleased to ask me.”—Dr. W. King's Polit. and Lit. Anecdotes of his own times.
LXXXV. CAVALIERS AND ROUNDHEADS.
SIR WALTER Scott, in more than one of his works, has given us powerful descriptions of the virulent hatred that existed between the two great parties in our civil war, and of the reckless violence of some of the Royalists when their cause was lost. It appears, indeed, that no Roundhead, or adherent of Cromwell or the Commonwealth, could travel in those parts of the Continent where the Cavaliers had taken refuge, without certain insult and the risk of assassination. In turning over, in the Library of the British Museum, the collection of newspapers and tracts of the period, which belonged to George III, and in a few instances are postillated by his own hand, we have found numerous details regarding the contests and assaults that were continually made between the years 1648 and 1658 upon the Roundheads abroad, for at home the Cavaliers were too weak to indulge frequently in such manifestations of party feeling. We have selected a few specimens for the amusement of our readers, not from the horrid and tragical parts of the story, but from such passages as may make them smile, at the same time they deplore that a similar spirit of hatred should ever have prevailed between countrymen and brothers. It is but fair to state that our extracts, which are simple and naive even to drollery, are taken from Roundhead publications. No doubt the Cavaliers might tell a somewhat different tale. It will be well also to remark, that at the period when the events took place, (in 1652,) the Royalists were exasperated by many and recent misfortunes, among which the victories of Cromwell over Charles II. in Scotland and at Worcester, and the sale of the forfeited estates of the Cavaliers, were not the least. The inactivity or indifference of the Dutch authorities at the Hague, probably arose from the circumstance of their government being on very bad terms with the English Commonwealth, which had just sent the two ambassadors (the principal objects of the Cavaliers' spite) to demand satisfaction for injuries received;—a satisfaction WOL. II. s
which was not obtained until Blake and Monk, and Cromwell's other captains, had beaten the Dutch in seven naval engagements. The ambassadors were Oliver St. John, and Walter Strickland, two very conspicuous republicans. Our first extract is from the Mercurius Politicus, a weekly paper in small quarto, which generally consists of eight pages, and has for its motto, “In Defence of the Commonwealth, and for information of the People.”
“From the Hague.
“My last to you from hence, told you of the insolent carriage of the Cavaliers, and divers French desperadoes; which is no whit abated: for lately, as two of your embassadours' gentlemen were going home in the evening, they hapned to light upon three Frenchmen, who taking occasion to justle them, without speaking, drew forth their pistols and fired; but God be thanked they mist them; whereupon my lords' gentlemen drew, and then there arose a great tumult in the street, and the people having separated them, demanded their cause of quarrell, whereupon the French, to justifie their own actions, laid the blame upon the embassadours' gentlemen, and so the business was husht up. Young Dorislaus, and a cousin of my Lord Fairfax, likewise named Fairfax, are threatened above all others. There are several Scotchmen, likewise, that have taken a develish oath, protesting the death of my Lord St. John ; [threaten’d folk live long;] but no doubt, the wisdom of this state will take order to curb and quiet these ranting humours. Many Scots and English Cavaliers come daily rushing into town, as if some design were a brewing. And they report up and down here, that Cromwell is dead, and that Massey hath routed and kild two thousand of his men, and an hundred such incredible stories, wherein the Royalists abound, even to the making of themselves ridiculous. Yet this doth effect so much, that it often puts our cautious statesmen to a stand, and makes some stagger, till they are certified by the next week or the next fortnight's post of the contrary; and then (perhaps) the Cavaliers have some other new story on foot, which takes off their resolutions for another fortnight.” * + * “The last of March, stylo novo, a fast was kept at my lord embassadour's, to implore a blessing upon our present proceeding; Mr. Dingley, Mr. Nye, and Mr. Goodwin exercised severally; and at supper we fell into an English mode of dyet, with great contentment and abundance; for then my lords began the world upon their own accompt. “The first of April, some of the gentlemen went with my Lord St. John to the new house, who was not very well for want of ayr; for the old house was little and close. “The second, being the Lord's day, we had two sermons, the one preached by Mr. Nye, the other by Mr. Dingley; and that morning information came to my lords, desiring Mr. Dorislaus to have a care of himself, for there were some threatmed his life. “The third, in the morning, my lords, and most of the gentlemen, some on horseback and the rest in coaches, went into the wood set with many fine walks and trees, to take the air; and, as they entered, they met Prince Edicard (one of the Queen of Bohemia's" sons) walking on foot, with the princess his sister by the hand. He cal'd to my lords' coach, and told them they were rogues, and grinded his teeth at the rest, calling them dogs. But my Lord St. John's groom, following on horseback, leading my lord's saddle-horse in his hand, the prince strook him on the back parts with his hat; but the horse flinging up his heels, had like to have laid his honour at his feet. My lord rode about the wood, and returned to dinner.” Another paper, called “A Perfect Account of the Weekly Intelligence,” in relating the same assault, is rather more severe on the young prince. . “The 24th of March, my lords and most of their gentlemen and attendants went, some on horseback and others in coaches, to take the air, and by the way met with a younger son of the Queen of Bohemia's, called Prince Edward, handing along his lady; and as my
* The person who bore the empty title of Queen of Bohemia, was the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I. She was married in 1613 to Frederic Prince Palatine, who, in 1620, by accepting the crown of Bohemia, involved himself in ruin, and lost not only Bohemia but his hereditary states. For many years his wife and family were wanderers from court to court, and the expense of their maintenance chiefly fell upon England; but in 1648, (four years before the events described in our text,) the lower palatinate was restored to Prince Charles Lewis, eldest surviving son of Frederic and Elizabeth, and brother to Prince Edward, who “struck my lord’s saddle-horse,” as also of the Princes Rupert and Maurice, who did more serious injury to Englishmen during the wars between their uncle Charles I. and the parliament. The vain efforts made by James I. and Charles I. for the recovery of the palatinate, cost us much money and not a little disgrace.