Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 10.djvu/102

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Charles
Charles
94

long it would he before Bombay proved a better investment. The wedding of Charles, who, after proroguing parliament (see his speech in Somers Tracts, vii. 546-7), had escorted the infanta from Portsmouth, was celebrated, amid great demonstrations of joy at Winchester 20 May, according to both the English and Roman ritual (Burnet, i. 315). This bride, however, failed to attract the king, and he not only adhered to Lady Castlemaine, but forced her upon the queen as one of the ladies of hor bedchamber. A passing quarrel was the result, in the course of which nearly the whole of Queen Catherine's household was dismissed, but in the end she had the good sense to acquiesce. During their long childless union Catherine was treated with respect at court [see Catherine of Braganza]. In 1663, 1668, 1673, and 1679 rumours of a divorce were rife, and in 1668, when Buckingham pressed the king to own a marriage with Monmouth’s mother, Burnet was consulted on the relative permissibility of divorce und polygamy (ib. i. 479-80). On the other hand, Charles seems to have felt occasional remorse on account of his treatment of his wife (ib. i. -|82-ti); he would not allow the brazen lies of the inventors of the popish plot to touch her, and in the most critical period of the agitation she thought herself safest at his side (Prideaux Letters, 82). The French government very speedily made up its mind to treat the Portuguese marriage as a proof of an entante cordiale between itself and the English court. No sooner had Charles II begun to arm in favour of Portugal in 1681, than, without the knowledge of his parliament, the first uf the long succession of secret payments—in this instance one of 80,000l.—was made to him from France. The English armaments early in 1602 were undertaken in distinct reliance upon French support. A foretaste of the concessions which this dependence was to involve was given by the sale to France of Dunkirk and Mardyke, accomplished in the last two months of 1602. The transaction, reasonable in itself was looked upon as a proof of weakness both at home and abroad; and Louis XIV was himself astonished at the easiness of his success (Ranke, Franz. Geschichte, iii. 281; Engl. Gesch. iii. 222-32). The English public laid the blame on Clarendon.

At this very time (December 1662), when Charles II had first involved himself in dangerous political intimacy with his powerful catholic neighbour, he made his earliest direct attempt to remedy the grievances of his catholic subjects. His effort to expand for their benefit his declaration of Octoher 1660 had failed, and his promise to suspend the Act of Uniformity for three months had proved futile (Clarendon, Life, ii. 149). On 26 Dec. 1662 he issued his first Declaration of Indulgence, in which he undertook, with the concurrence of parliament, to exercise on behalf of religious dissidents the dipensing power which he conceived to be inherent on the crown. The hill founded on this declaration, opposed by Clarendon and Southampton, but supported hy Ashley, was shelved in committee by the lords, while an address from the commons insisted on the maintenance of the Act of Uniformity. Though the attempt of Bristol, the nominal originator of the unfortunate declaration, to impeach Clarendon was discountenanced by the king, yet his vexation with the chancellor and the bishops contributed to his readiness for ministerial changes. The Declaration of Indulgence only led to the Conventicle Act (1664) and the Five Miles Act (1605). Before parliament reassembled in March 1664 the king’s popularity was revived by a royal progress in the west, followed, however, by a futile republican attempt in the north (summer 1683). He contrived in this seasion to supsrsede the Triennial Act of the Long parliament by a much less stringent measure ; but the burning question was already that of war with the Dutch, for which the parliament was eager, and the king, angered by the exclusion of the house of Orange from the stadholdership, well inclined. In the speech on the reassembling of parliament in November, and in which he rebutted the ‘vile jealousy’ that the war was on his part only a pretence for obtaining large supplies (Cal. 1664-5, 89), he showed himself at one with public opinion. He had recently recovered from a troublesome indisposition, and was in vigorous health (Hatton Correspondence, i. 34); so that he could constantly encourage by inspections the naval preparations for which parliament had made an enormous grunt (Clarendon, Life, ii. 333; for the reverse of the medal see Wheatley, 147-9). On 22 Feb. 1665 war was declared, and soon it, proved that, though long foreseen, the conflict had been rashly entered into. The campaign of 1665 led to no definite results; and there was no prospect of peace to cheer the winter of 1664-5, in which London was afflicted by a fearful visitation of the plague. The pestilence was referred to in the speech in which the king prorogued parliament from April to September 1665, and in July he was forced to remove from Whitehall to Hampton Court and Sion House. Soon afterwards he transferred his court to Salisbury (see Pepys, 27 July 1665). About the same time the queen-mother quitted England; one of the last and most doubtful services she had ren-