Imágenes de páginas

“ and cared less to confer with him in private, and was « less persuaded by him than his affairs and the other's “ great parts and wisdom would have required ; though " he had not a better opinion of any man's sincerity or “fidelity towards him.”ı

An instance that well illustrates this state of feeling between the King and his Secretary of State is recounted by Lord Clarendon on the occasion of the Scotch Commissioners' visit to Oxford. They presented to the King a long paper, inveighing against Bishops and the whole government of the Church, and concluding with a petition for the alteration of that government throughout his Majesty's dominions. The King brought this paper to the Council Board, and required the advice of the Council, declaring at the same time his own wish to answer every expression contained in the paper, and to maintain the divine right of episcopacy and the impossibility of his ever in conscience consenting to anything to the prejudice of that order.3 Many of the Lords were of opinion that a short answer, simply rejecting the proposition, would be best. No one concurred with the King, and “he replied with “ some sharpness upon what had been said.” Lord Falkland then expressed his opinion, and wished no reasons to be given in the answer; “and upon that occasion “ answered many of those reasons the King had urged, “ as not valid to support the subject, with a little “ quickness of wit (as his notions were always sharp, “ and expressed with notable vivacity), which made the

Ibid., p. 158.

· Clarendon, ‘Life,' vol. i. p. 92.

3 Ibid, p. 159.

“ King warmer than he used to be, reproaching all who “ were of that mind with want of affection for the “ Church, and declaring that he would have the sub“stance of what he had said, or of the like nature, “ digested into his answer; with which reprehension “ all sat very silent, having never undergone the like “ before.”

Sir Edward Hyde was called upon for his opinion, and, with considerable dexterity, he succeeded in not only preventing the King from entering into a long discussion of theology and Church government, by way of answer to the Scotch Commissioners, but, by grounding his objection to that course on its being too great a condescension on the part of the King, his dignity was flattered, and he was so well pleased with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he not only gave up his own opinion, but “vouchsafed to make some kind of “ excuse for the passion he had spoken with."! A few weeks after all hopes of a treaty were extinguished, a conspiracy in favour of the King was discovered, well known by the name of “ Waller's Plot.” How far the King or his Council were cognizant of the intentions of Waller and his friends it is not very easy to discover. Whitelock attributes the King's gracious reception of Mr. Waller at Oxford to his knowledge of the plan in which he was engaged ;' whilst Lord Clarendon repudiates the idea of the King or his ministers being parties to the plan, which he regarded as impracticable. Edmund Waller had been one of Lord Falkland's early


" Clarendon, ‘Life,' vol. i. p. 161.

2 Whitelock, p. 64.

friends; but, as it appears he was too cautious to commit himself in writing, no correspondence took place on this subject between them. Mr. Tomkins (Waller's brotherin-law) had, sometimes by writing and sometimes by messages, signified to Lord Falkland “that the number of “ those who desired peace, and abhorred the proceedings “ of the Houses, was very considerable ; and that they “ resolved, by refusing to contribute to the war and " to submit to their ordinances, to declare and manifest “ themselves in that manner that the violent party in “ the City should not have credit enough to hinder any " accommodation.”! Lord Falkland always returned for answer, “ that they must expedite those expedients “ as soon as might be, for that delays made the war “ more difficult to be restrained.”

Lord Clarendon declares he could find no evidence or reason to believe in the King's countenance of the plot itself, or of its various objects ; though, as he candidly remarks, be should have no reason to conceal the King giving his assistance and countenance to any design that, by public force or private contrivance, should have given him a reasonable hope of dispersing those who, under the name of a Parliament, had kindled a war against him.

The war was now prosecuted with activity on both sides. The Queen, who had landed at Burlington on the 22nd of February, proceeded to York, from thence to Pomfret, and to Newark, where she rested a fortnight, and on the 13th of July she joined her husband


'Hist. of the Rebellion, vol. iv. p. 76.

* Ibid., p. 77.

near Keinton, under Edgehill, where the battle had been fought in October. On that same day the royalist troops gained a signal victory at Roundway Down, when the troops commanded by Sir William Waller were completely routed. On the 26th of July Bristol surrendered to Prince Rupert.

This triumph was embittered to the King by the disputes that arose between the Princes Rupert and Maurice and the Marquis of Hertford. He determined, in consequence, to proceed immediately to Bristol, not only to settle, if possible, these differences, but to avoid the presence of his Council on the occasion. Whilst affection for his nephews blinded Charles to their faults, the haughty rudeness with which these young Princes treated the English nobility rendered them peculiarly clearsighted to their failings : thus, to escape from any advice that could be tendered to him on the subject, he at once left Oxford for Bristol, taking with him of his Council only Lord Falkland, the Master of the Rolls (Sir J. Culpepper), the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Edward Hyde), and the Duke of Richmond. The King passed the night at Malmesbury, whilst Sir Edward Hyde received Lord Falkland and Sir John Culpepper at his own house at Perton.

Once more these three faithful counsellors, who had laboured at the helm and had striven so ably against the storms without and mutiny within, who had firmly stood against every attack, and fought without flinching even in defeat, found themselves apart from the Court together under the same roof; and, as in those early conferences in Westminster, Lord Falkland and Sir John Cul

[ocr errors]

pepper were the guests of Mr. (now Sir Edward) Hyde.

Seventeen months had elapsed since that time. How many hopes had been defeated-how many fears had been realized—what a volume of history had been enacted during that short period ! and this must have been the last such meeting of a triumvirate that had been so firmly linked together by the ties of personal affection and the duties of a common charge. Fortune now seemed to decide in favour of the King; he had been victorious over Lord Fairfax in the North, over Sir William Waller in the West; Bristol had surrendered to his forces. A declaration was put forth by the King, professing firm attachment to the Protestant religion, and his determination to maintain the liberty of the subject, the laws of the land, and the privileges of Parliament, and exhorting his people to peace.

« AnteriorContinuar »