Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/115

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


SIR WILLIAM LOCKHART. 485

in the land. In 1654 and 165(5, he represented the shiie of Lanark in Crom- well's parliaments. He was also appointed one of the trustees for disposing of the forfeited estates of the royalists, and a member of the Protectoi-'s privy council for Scotland.

On the 14th December, 1655, he was appointed ambassador from England to Louis XIV. ; a duty which, at that dangerous period, when the British govern- ment was acknowledged abroad only from its strength, was eminently calcu- lated to bring out the peculiar energies of his mind. He did not proceed on his mission until April, 1656; 3 a circumstance which probably accounts for his having sat for Lanark during that year. The character both of the government and its servant quickly secured respect. " He was," says Clarendon, " received with great solemnity, and was a man of -great address in treaty, and had a marvellous credit and power with the cardinal Mazarine. 4 His country- man Burnet, who probably knew him better, says, " He was both a wise and gallant man, calm and virtuous, and one that carried the generosities of friend- ship very far. He was made governor of Dunkirk, and ambassador, at the same time. But he told me that when he was sent afterwards ambassador by king Charles, he found he had nothing of that regard that was paid him in Cromwell's time." 5 He arrived at Dieppe on the 24th of April, and was re- ceived with all the civic honours which the town could bestow. 6 An alliance with France in opposition to Spain, and indeed anything resembling amity towards the former nation, was considered an anomaly in the British constitu- tion resembling an infraction of the laws of nature, and the measure, al- though it was boldly undertaken, and successfully executed, has met the repro- bation of historians, whose simple statement of its impolicy and folly is embraced in the terms, " An alliance between Great Britain and France." But the union was an act of almost diplomatic necessity on the part of the Protector, from the alliance (as it was termed) of Spain with the exiled Charles ; and with whatever reluctance the French may have at first looked upon the novelty, Mazarine found himself associated with a government whose assistance was use- ful, and whose enmity might be dangerous.

From the influence of the clergy alone was any opposition to be dreaded. " I have receaved," says the ambassador, " many civill messages from persons of honour and good interest ; and I fynd also, that my being here is much dis- lyked by others, especiallie by the assembly of the clergy. And," he continues, in the manner of the period, " I shall make it my endeavour to wait upon God for his directione and protectione, and shall verie little trouble myself with their menaces." But Lockhart found that the French were at least lukewarm in as- sisting the vast designs of Cromwell, and that they were naturally averse to be the mere auxiliaries of their natural enemies, in subjecting those neighbouring provinces which had often called forth the full power of their armies.

Lockhart, accordingly, takes many occasions to express the discontent of his

The following passage from the same source is perhaps more conclusive : COLONEL LOCKHART TO SECRETARY THURLOE.

" When I had the honour to take leave of you, 1 had your permission to give you trouble in any business wherein I was concerned ; therefore being engaged by articles of agreement with general Desbrowe to make a purchase in England -for a settlement to my wife and her children, and the daie being elapsed, by which time I was bound either to m;ike a purchase, or to secure so much money by way of mortgage upon land in England, 1 am bould to be- seech you to move his highness, for leave to me for a month to come to London for settling that affair. " &c. Edinburgh, December 25th, T655. Thurloe's Slate Papers, iv. 342.

3 Thurloe, iv., 647, 728.

4 History, vii.. 180.

  • Burnet's Own Times, i. 76.

8 Thurloe, iv , 739.