Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/385
limited episcopacy, a revision of the Prayer Book, and concessions in ritual; but when it was proposed in the convention to turn the declaration into a law the bill was thrown out by a government majority. It has been, therefore, argued that the proposal of such a compromise was merely a device to gain time, and Clarendon has been accused of treachery. On the other hand, the declaration itself stated that the arrangement was merely provisional, and it seems probable that his object in preventing the passing of the bill was simply to reserve the settlement of the question to the expected synod and a parliament of more undoubted authority (Masson, Life of Milton, vi. 111; Kennett, Register, p. 289; Old Parl. Hist, xxiii. 27). The synod took the shape of the Savoy conference, and ended in no agreement. The parliament of 1661, zealously and exclusively anglican, began by passing the Corporations Act (20 Dec. 1661) and the Act of Uniformity (19 May 1662). The Parliament's zeal exceeded Clarendon's, who, while asserting the necessity of establishing tests and enforcing conformity, deprecated severity (Lords' Journals, xi. 242). He exerted himself to obtain the confirmation of the act continuing presbyterian ministers in vacant livings which had been passed by the convention, and obtained the special thanks of the presbyterians through Calamy and Baxter (Rawdon Papers, p.137). He joined the majority of the lords in proposing an amendment which would have allowed a maintenance to ministers deprived by the Act of Uniformity. On 17 March 1662 he presented to the House of Lords from the king a proviso which enabled Charles, 'in regard of the promises made before his happy restoration,' to dispense with the observance of the Act of Uniformity in the case of ministers now holding ecclesiastical cures,' of whose merits towards his majesty and peaceable and pious disposition his majesty shall be sufficiently informed ' (ib. pp. 141, 143; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 162).
When every attempt at comprehension had definitely failed, Clarendon's attitude altered. He 'would have been glad,' he says, that the act had not been so rigorous, but ' when it was passed he thought it absolutely necessary to see obedience paid to it without any connivance.' Only tenderness for the king's honour prevented him from openly opposing the fulfilment of his majesty's promise to suspend the operation of the act for three months, an expedient which was frustrated by the opposition of the bishops and lawyers (Cont. pp. 337-41). Bennet, the probable author of the Declaration of Indulgence published by the king on 26 Dec. 1662, asserts that Clarendon not only approved but applauded it, both of which statements Clarendon denied (Lister, iii. 232-3). In February 1663 Lord Robartes introduced a bill empowering the king to dispense with the laws enforcing conformity or requiring oaths (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 167). Clarendon was strongly opposed to the measure, and represents himself as speaking against it with great vehemence; but the accuracy of his recollections is very doubtful (Cont. pp. 583-93). The French ambassador describes him as appearing ' to take no side in the matter,' gaining great credit in the House of Commons at first by his opposition to the bill, and losing it by the ambiguity of his later conduct (Christie, Life of Shaftesbury, i. 268). In his own letters to Ormonde he complains that Bennet persuaded the king that because 'I did not like what was done, I have raised all the evil spirit that hath appeared upon and against it. On the contrary, God knows I have taken as much pains to prevent those distempers as if I had been the contriver of the councells ' (Lister, iii. 244).
Clarendon's opposition to the policy of toleration, which has been attributed to personal hostility to the promoters of the declaration, deeply incensed the king. `Bennet, Bristol, and their friends,' writes Pepys on 15 May 1663, `have cast my lord chancellor on his back, past ever getting up again.' Although discouraged by Charles, Bristol seized the opportunity to bring forward a long-prepared charge of high treason against Clarendon (10 July 1663). The attack was ' a complete failure. Clarendon in his place denied the charges altogether, the judges reported that even if true they did not amount to high treason, and the king sent to tell the lords that to his certain knowledge many of the facts alleged were untrue.
Nevertheless the breach was real and serious. Unwilling to accept the king's ecclesiastical policy, Clarendon was obliged to accept that of the commons. He was not directly Responsible for the Conventicle Act (1664) and the Five Mile Act (1665), both of which originated in the lower house, but refers approvingly to both (Cont. pp. 511, 776). His later view was that the king had fully complied with the promises made at Breda, which simply bound him to indulge tender consciences until parliament should make some legal settlement, and that the same promises now obliged him to concur in the settlement which parliament had made (ib. pp. 144, 332; Lister, iii. 483). Plots and rumours of plots had strengthened him in the belief that non-conformists were a danger to the peace of the state. 'Their faction,' he concludes, 'is their