Page:EB1911 - Volume 05.djvu/949

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ENGLAND]
913
CHARLES II.

of prelacy, besides ratifying his allegiance to the covenants and to Presbyterianism. At the same time he declared himself secretly to King, dean of Tuam, “a true child of the Church of England,” “a true Cavalier,” and avowed that “what concerns Ireland is in no ways binding”; while to the Roman Catholics in England he promised concessions and expressed his goodwill towards their church to Pope Innocent X. His attempt, called “The Start,” on the 4th of October 1650, to escape from the faction at Perth and to join Huntly and the royalists in the north failed, and he was overtaken and compelled to return. On the 1st of January 1651 he was crowned at Scone, when he was forced to repeat his oaths to both the covenants.

Meanwhile Cromwell had advanced and had defeated the Presbyterians at Dunbar on the 3rd of September 1650, subsequently occupying Edinburgh. This defeat was not wholly unwelcome to Charles in the circumstances; in the following summer, during Cromwell’s advance to the north, he shook off the Presbyterian influence, and on the 31st of July 1651 marched south into England with an army of about 10,000 commanded by David Leslie. He was proclaimed king at Carlisle, joined by the earl of Derby in Lancashire, evaded the troops of Lambert and Harrison in Cheshire, marched through Shropshire, meeting with a rebuff at Shrewsbury, and entered Worcester with a small, tired and dispirited force of only 16,000 men (22nd of August). Here the decisive battle, which ruined his hopes, and in which Charles distinguished himself by conspicuous courage and fortitude, was fought on the 3rd of September. After leading an unsuccessful cavalry charge against the enemy he fled, about 6 p.m., accompanied by Buckingham, Derby, Wilmot, Lauderdale and others, towards Kidderminster, taking refuge at Whiteladies, about 25 m. from Worcester, where he separated himself from all his followers except Wilmot, concealing himself in the famous oak during the 6th of September, moving subsequently to Boscobel, to Moseley and Bentley Hall, and thence, disguised as Miss Lane’s attendant, to Abbots Leigh near Bristol, to Trent in Somersetshire, and finally to the George Inn at Brighton, having been recognized during the forty-one days of his wanderings by about fifty persons, none of whom, in spite of the reward of £1000 offered for his capture, or of the death penalty threatened for aiding his concealment, had betrayed him.

He set sail from Shoreham on the 15th of October 1651, and landed at Fécamp in Normandy the next day. He resided at Paris at St Germain till June 1654, in inactivity, unable to make any further effort, and living with difficulty on a grant from Louis XIV. of 600 livres a month. Various missions to foreign powers met with failure; he was excluded from Holland by the treaty made with England in April 1654, and he anticipated his expulsion from France, owing to the new relations of friendship established with Cromwell, by quitting the country in July. He visited his sister, the princess of Orange, at Spa, and went to Aix-la-Chapelle, thence finally proceeding in November to Cologne, where he was hospitably received. The conclusion of Cromwell’s treaty with France in October 1655, and the war between England and Spain, gave hope of aid from the latter power. In April 1656 Charles went to Bruges, and on the 7th of February 1658 to Brussels, where he signed a treaty with Don John of Austria, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, by which he received an allowance in place of his French pension and undertook to assemble all his subjects in France in aid of the Spanish against the French. This plan, however, came to nothing; projected risings in England were betrayed, and by the capture of Dunkirk in June 1658, after the battle of the Dunes, by the French and Cromwell’s Ironsides, the Spanish cause in Flanders was ruined.

As long as Cromwell lived there appeared little hope of the restoration of the monarchy, and Charles and Hyde had been aware of the plots for his assassination, which had aroused no disapproval. By the protector’s death on the 3rd of September 1658 the scene was wholly changed, and amidst the consequent confusion of factions the cry for the restoration of the monarchy grew daily in strength. The premature royalist rising, however, in August 1659 was defeated, and Charles, who had awaited the result on the coast of Brittany, proceeded to Fuenterrabia on the Spanish frontier, where Mazarin and Luis de Haro were negotiating the treaty of the Pyrenees, to induce both powers to support his cause; but the failure of the attempt in England ensured the rejection of his request, and he returned to Brussels in December, visiting his mother at Paris on the way. Events had meanwhile developed fast in favour of a restoration. Charles, by Hyde’s advice, had not interfered in the movement, and had avoided inconvenient concessions to the various factions by referring all to a “free parliament.” He left Brussels for Breda, and issued in April 1660, together with the letters to the council, the officers of the army and the houses of parliament and the city, the declaration of an amnesty for all except those specially excluded afterwards by parliament, which referred to parliament the settlement of estates and promised a liberty to tender consciences in matters of religion not contrary to the peace of the kingdom.

On the 8th of May Charles II. was proclaimed king in Westminster Hall and elsewhere in London. On the 24th he sailed from the Hague, landing on the 26th at Dover, where he was met by Monk, whom he saluted as father, and by the mayor, from whom he accepted a “very rich bible,” “the thing that he loved above all things in the world.” He reached London on the 29th, his thirtieth birthday, arriving with the procession, amidst general rejoicings and “through a lane of happy faces,” at seven in the evening at Whitehall, where the houses of parliament awaited his coming, to offer in the name of the nation their congratulations and allegiance.

No event in the history of England had been attended with more lively and general rejoicing than Charles’s restoration, and none was destined to cause greater subsequent disappointment and disillusion. Indolent, sensual and dissipated by nature, Charles’s vices had greatly increased during his exile abroad, and were now, with the great turn of fortune which gave him full opportunity to indulge them, to surpass all the bounds of decency and control. A long residence till the age of thirty abroad, together with his French blood, had made him politically more of a foreigner than an Englishman, and he returned to England ignorant of the English constitution, a Roman Catholic and a secret adversary of the national religion, and untouched by the sentiment of England’s greatness or of patriotism. Pure selfishness was the basis of his policy both in domestic and foreign affairs. Abroad the great national interests were eagerly sacrificed for the sake of a pension, and at home his personal ease and pleasure alone decided every measure, and the fate of every minister and subject. During his exile he had surrounded himself with young men of the same spirit as himself, such as Buckingham and Bennet, who, without having any claim to statesmanship, inattentive to business, neglectful of the national interests and national prejudices, became Charles’s chief advisers. With them, as with their master, public office was only desirable as a means of procuring enjoyment, for which an absolute monarchy provided the most favourable conditions. Such persons were now, accordingly, destined to supplant the older and responsible ministers of the type of Clarendon and Ormonde, men of high character and patriotism, who followed definite lines of policy, while at the same time the younger men of ability and standing were shut out from office.

The first period of Charles II.’s reign (1660–1667) was that of the administration of Lord Clarendon, the principal author of the Restoration settlement. The king was granted the large revenue of £1,300,000. The naval and military forces were disbanded, but Charles managed to retain under the name of guards three regiments, which remained the nucleus of a standing army. The settlement of estates on a legal basis provided ill for a large number of the king’s adherents who had impoverished themselves in his cause. The king’s honour was directly involved in their compensation and, except for the gratification of a few individuals, was tarnished by his neglect to afford them relief. Charles used his influence to carry through parliament the act of indemnity, and the execution of some of the regicides was a measure not more severe than was to be expected in the times and circumstances;