Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 10.djvu/109

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

vain. The Exclusion Bill, though opposed on behalf of the court by Sir Leoline Jenkins (in favour of whom Coventry had resigned in April), was passed by the commons. But through the influence of Halifax it was rejected by the lords. Hereupon the king—who found himself in danger of being protected by a protestant association, with which he had no sympathy, against the papists, with whom he had no quarrel—dissolved parliament on 18 Jan. 1681. Even now he had not despaired of a parliamentary settlement. But, offended by the zeal of the city, and unmoved by a petition from Essex and fifteen other peers deprecating the calling of a parliament out of Westminster (Somers Tracts, viii. 282–3), Charles proceeded in March to Oxford, and summoned parliament to meet there. The king took up his residence at Christ Church, and the queen at Merton. The Duchess of Portsmouth and ‘Mrs. Gwyn' appear to have lodged out of college (Luttrell, i. 70–1). The king found time before the opening of parliament to attend a horse-race and to visit Lord Cornbury (Prideaux Letters, 82). According to Burnet (ii. 276), he about this time gave ear to a scheme for combining with the titular succession of the Duke of York a regency in the person of the Prince of Orange. On the other hand, he was rumoured to have safeguarded himself against the tenacity of the commons by a large sum of money from France (Savile Correspondence, 181). At the Oxford parliament, which met on 21 March 1681, the elders of the country party and Shaftesbury himself appeared numerously attended by armed followers. The parliament, addressed by the king in a speech reproduced, it is said by his own orders, in his poet-laureate's great satire (see Scott and Saintsbury's Dryden, ix. 310), proved wholly intractable; Shaftesbury, in a paper communicated by him to the king, insisted upon his naming Monmouth as his successor; and nobody but Sir Leoline Jenkins was found to speak against the bill. The parliament was therefore dissolved by the king on 28 March, and its dissolution was followed by the issue of a royal declaration, which was published in the churches, and reckoned up the misdoings of the last three parliaments, but protested the king's affection to the protestant religion and his resolution still to have frequent parliaments. A multitude of addresses in different shades of loyalty followed, but the greater number of them condemned the Exclusion Bill (Burnet, ii. 282–5). Manifestly the tide had begun to turn in favour of the court, which was not slow to take advantage of it. In the course of this year Shaftesbury became a prisoner in the Tower, the king having himself come suddenly to town to decide upon the step (Hatton Correspondence, ii. 1); but he recovered his liberty on the rejection of the indictment of high treason against him by the Middlesex grand jury (November). A humbler offender, Stephen College [q. v.], had however previously suffered death (August). In Scotland a régime of great severity was established by the Duke of York, and Argyll was convicted but escaped (Decemher). A visit of the Prince of Orange to the king (July) resulted only in an increase of illwill and jealously towards him on the part of Charles, as well as of James (H. Saville, ii. 220 n.; see, however, Burnet's story, ii. 415, that Charles prophesied the fat of James to William). Though in October England joined with the United Provinces and Spain in a Joint diplomatic memorial (Savile Correspondence, 217), a secret agreement been negotiated by Barillon and Hyde in London, whereby, in return for a payment of 200,000l. within the next three years, Charles II engaged to detach himself from the Spanish alliance, and remain independent of parliament. In consequence, Louis XIV laid siege to Luxemburg in November; but he raised it again when he perceived that he might be driving his bargain too hard (Ranke, v. 178–9, 202; cf. Clarke, Life of Jones II, i. 664–5). In 1682 Louis XIV offered to Charles the arbitration of his claims upon the Spanish Netherlands. Spain not unnaturally demurred, and nothing came of the offer.

During all this time the popularity of Charles at home seems to have been on the increase. He spent September 1681 at Newmarket, whence, on the 27th, he paid a visit with the queen to Cambridge; on 12 Oct. they returned to London, and the bells were rung and bonfires lit. On the 29th they dined at the Guildhall, and were received with popular acclamations both on entering and leaving the city (Luttrell, i. 128, 30–1, 134, 139–40); on 19 Feb. 1681–2 the king laid the first stone of the Chelsea Hospital for disabled soldiers; in May his birth and restoration day was kept with unusual strictness (ib. 190). The government was thus encouraged to persist in the path of reaction. Contemporary wit well named it the ministry of the Chits, on account of the comparative youth of its must prominent members, Rochester, Sunderland, and Godolphin, The last-named, much liked by the king for being ‘never in the way and never out of the way' (Dartmouth's note to Burnet, ii. 246), became one of the secretaries of state on the retirement of Jenkins in 1684, and soon moved to the first commissionship of the treasury, Middleton taking his secretaryship. The lord chancellorship was held by Guil-