Page images

that extreme indulgence, and too great concessions, were the ruin of them both. And by how much the more a king is subject, by his nature, to this frailty of too much mildness, which is so near resembling the godlike attribute of mercy, by so much is he the more liable to be taxed with tyranny. A strange paradox, but which was sadly verified in the persons of those two princes. For a faction, appearing zealous for the public liberty, counts him a tyrant who yields not up whatever they demand, even his most undoubted and just prerogatives; all that distinguishes a sovereign from a subject; and the yielding up, or taking away of which, is the very subversion of the government.

Every point which a monarch loses or relinquishes, but renders him weaker to maintain the rest; and, besides, they so construe it, as if what he gave up were the natural right of the people, which he, or his ancestors, had usurped from them; which makes it the more dangerous for him to quit his hold, and is truly the reason why so many mild princes have been branded with the names of tyrants by their encroaching subjects. I have not room to enlarge upon this matter as I would, neither dare I presume to press the argument more closely; but passing by, as I promised, all the remarkable passages in the late king's reign, which resemble the transactions of the League, I will briefly take notice of some few particulars, wherein our late associators and conspirators have made a third copy of the League; for the original of their first politics was certainly no other than the French. This was first copied by the rebels in forty-one, and since recopied within these late years by some of those who are lately dead, and by too many others yet alive, and still drawing after the same design; in which, for want of time, many a fair blot shall be left unhit; neither do I promise to observe any method of times, or to take things in order as they happened.

As for the persons who managed the two associations, theirs and ours, it is most certain that in them is found the least resemblance: And it is well for us they were not like; for they had men of subtlety and valour to design, and then to carry on their conspiracy. Ours were but bunglers in comparison of them, who, having a faction not made by them, but ready formed and fashioned to their hands, (thanks to their fathers,) yet failed in every one of their projections, and managed their business with much less dexterity, though far more wickedness, than the French. They had, indeed, at their head an old conspirator, witty and turbulent, like the Cardinal of Lorraine, and for


The Cardinal of Lorraine, brother to the Duke of Guise, and the political head of the Leaguers.

courage in execution much such another. But the good sense and conduct was clearly wanting on the English side; so that, if we will allow him the contrivance of the plot, or at least of the conspiracy, which is an honour that no man will be willing to take from him, in all other circumstances he more resembled the old decrepit Cardinal of Bourbon, who fed himself with imaginary hopes of power, dreamed of outliving a king and his successor, much more young and vigorous than himself, and of governing the world after their decease. To die in prison, or in banishment, I think, will make no mighty difference; but this is a main one, that the one was the dupe of all his party, the other led after him, and made fools of all his faction. As for a Duke of Guise, or even so much as Duke of Mayenne, I can find none in their whole cabal. I cannot believe that any man now living could have the vanity to pretend to it. It is not every age that can produce a Duke of Guise, a man who, without the least shadow of a title, (unless we will believe the memoirs of the crack-brained advocate David, who gave him one from Charlemagne,) durst make himself head of a party, and was not only so in his own conceit, but really; presumed to beard a king, and was upon the point of being declared his lieutenant-general and his successor. None of these instances will hold in the comparison; and therefore I leave it to be boasted, it may be, by one party, but I am sure to be laughed at by another. Many hot-headed Chevaliers d'Aumale, and ambitious bravoes, like Captain St. Paul,* may be found amongst them; intriguing ladies and gallants of the times, such as are described in the army of the League, at the battle of Yvry; and besides them, many underling knaves, pimps, and fools; but these are not worthy to be drawn into resemblance.

Therefore, to pass by their persons, and consider their design, it is evident, that on both sides they began with a League, and ended

He was assassinated at the same time with his brother. Dryden compares him to Shaftesbury.

A fiery and gallant adherent of the Duke of Guise. He distinguished himself by his bravery in the bat

tles, and his forwardness in the councils of the League; on the famous day of the barricades, he entered the queen's garden by force, supposing his patron's life in danger, and swearing, if the game was to be played, he would have his stake in it. He was created Marshal of France in 1593, hy the Duke Mayenne, and afterwards governor of Champagne. These honours cost him his life; for the young Duke of Guise having requested him to withdraw some troops from Rheims, and receiving an insolent refusal, drew his sword and killed him on the spot.

There was scarcely any thing to be seen in the army of the League but gold and silver embroideries, upon costly and magnificent coats of velvet, of

all sorts of colours, and an infinite number of banderolles fluttering about their thick forest of lances." - Dryden's Translation of the History of the League

with a conspiracy. In this they have copied, even to the word Association, which you may observe was used by Humieres, in the first wary League which was formed in Picardy; and we see to what it tended in the event: For when Henry III. by the assistance of the king of Navarre, had in a manner vanquished his rebels, and was just upon the point of mastering Paris, a Jacobin, set on by the preachers of the League, most barbarously murdered him; and, by the way, take notice, that he pretended enthusiasm, or inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, for the commission of this parricide. I leave my superiors to conclude from thence, the danger of tolerating non-conformists, who, (be it said with reverence,) under pretence of a whisper from the Holy Ghost, think themselves obliged to perpetrate the most enormous crimes against the person of their sovereign, when they have first voted him a tyrant and an enemy to God's people. This, indeed, was not so impudent a method as what was used in the formal process of a pretended high court of justice, in the murder of King Charles I., and therefore I do not compare those actions; but it is much resembling the intended murder of our gracious king at the Rye, and other places: And, that the head of a college might not be wanting to urge the performance of this horrible attempt, instead of Father Edm. Bourgoing,* let Father Fergusont appear, who was not wanting in his spiritual exhortations to our conspirators, and to make them believe, that to assassinate the king was only to take away another Holofernes. It is true, the Jacobin was but one; and there were many joined in our conspiracy, and more perhaps han Rumsey or West‡ have ever named; but this, though it takes from the justness of the comparison, adds incomparably more to the guilt of it, and makes it fouler on our side of the


[blocks in formation]

our conspiracy; and the more moderate party of our traitors were engaged in it.* But had it taken effect, the least it could have produced, was to have overthrown the succession; and no reasonable man would believe, but they who could forget their duty so much as to have seized the king, might afterwards have been induced to have him made away, especially when so fair a provision was made by the House of Commons, that the Papists were to suffer for it.

But they have not only rummaged the French histories of the League for conspiracies and parricides of kings; I shall make it apparent, that they have studied those execrable times, for precedents of undermining the lawful authority of their sovereigns. Our English are not generally commended for invention; but these were merchants of small wares, very pedlers in policy; they must, like our tailors, have all their fashions from the French, and study the French League for every alteration, as our snippers go over once a year into France, to bring back the newest mode, and to learn to cut and shape it.

For example: The first estates convened at Blois by Henry III. (the League being then on foot, and most of the three orders dipped in it,) demanded of that king, that the articles which should be approved by the three orders should pass for inviolable laws, without leaving to the king the power of changing any thing in them. That the same was designed here by the leading men of their faction, is obvious to every one: for they had it commonly in their mouths in ordinary discourse; and it was offered in print by Plato Redivivust as a good expedient for the nation, in case his majesty would have consented to it.

Both in the first and last estates at Blois, the bill of exclusion against the King of Navarre was pressed; and in the last carried by all the three orders, though the king would never pass it. The end of that bill was very evident; it was to have introduced the Duke of Guise into the throne, after the king's decease: to which he had no manner of title, or at least a very cracked one, of which his own party were ashamed. Our bill of exclusion was copied from hence; but thrown out by the House of

This is apparently an allusion to the designs of Lord Russell and others, who meditated a change of councils, not of government, by the schemes which they agitated.

† A tract in octavo, published in October 1680, shortly after the sitting of the short parliament. The author was Henry Neville, second son of Sir Henry Neville, knight, who made some figure among the speculative common wealth's men, yet was not so much attached to their doctrines, as to prevent his submitting to be one of Cromwell's council of state. He died 20th September 1694.

Peers, before it came to the king's turn to have wholly quashed it.

After the Duke of Guise had forced the king to fly from Paris by the barricades, the queenmother being then in the traitor's interests, when he had outwitted her so far, as to persuade her to join in the banishment of the Duke of Espernon, his enemy, and to make her be. lieve, that if the King of Navarre, whom she hated, were excluded, he would assist her in bringing her beloved grandchild of Lorraine to the possession of the crown; it was proposed by him for the Parisians, that the lieutenantcy of the city might be wholly put into their hands; that the new provost of merchants, and present sheriffs of the faction, might be confirmed by the king; and for the future, they should not only elect their sheriffs, but the colonels and captains of the several wards.

How nearly this was copied in the tumultuous meetings of the city for their sheriffs, both we and they have cause to remember; and Mr. Hunt's book, concerning their rights in the city charter, mingled with infamous aspersions of the government, confirms the notions to have been the same.* And I could produce some very probable instances out of another libel, (considering the time at which it was written, which was just before the detection of the conspiracy,) that the author of it, as well as the supervisor, was engaged in it, or at least privy to it; but let villany and ingratitude be safe and flourish.

By the way, an observation of Philip de Comines comes into my mind: That when the Dukes of Burgundy, who were Lords of Ghent, had the choice of the sheriffs of that city, in that year all was quiet and well governed; but when they were elected by the people, nothing but tumults and seditions followed.†

I might carry this resemblance a little farther: for in the heat of the plot, when the Spanish pilgrims were coming over, nay more, were reported to be landed; when the representa tives of the Commons were either mortally afraid, or pretended to be so, of this airy invasion, a request was actually made to the king,

Mr. Hunt's book was entitled, a "Defence of the Charter and Municipal Rights of the City of London." Our author was fiercely attacked in that work, and defended himself in the Vindication of the Duke of Guise.

1 The author alludes to the exertions made by the crown to secure the election of sheriffs.

1 Among the absurdities sworn to and believed at the time of the Popish plot, Bedloe's assertion, that 40,000 pilgrims, assembled in Spain to pay their devotion at Saint James's, were to be employed in the invasion of England, was not the less terrifying because so eminently incredible. A false report that the pilgrims had actually landed, obtained general credit, and one nobleman gallopped to London with the news.

that he would put the militia into their hands; which how prudently he refused, the example of his father has informed the nation.

To show how the heads of their party had conned over their lesson of the barricades of Paris, in the midst of Oates his Popish plot, when they had fermented the city with the leaven of their sedition, and they were all prepared for a rising against the government: let it be remembered, that as the Duke of Guise and the council of sixteen forged a list of names, which they pretended to be of such as the king had set down for destruction; so a certain earl of blessed memory caused a false report to be spread of his own danger, and some of his accomplices, who were to be murdered by the Papists and the royal party; which was a design to endear themselves to the multitude, as the martyrs of their cause; and at the same time, to cast an odious reflection on the king and ministers, as if they sought their blood with unchristian cruelty, without the ordinary forms of justice. To which may be added, as an appendix, their pretended fear, when they went to the parliament at Oxford; before which some of them made their wills, and showed them publicly; others sent to search about the places where the two houses were to sit, as if another gunpowder plot was contriving against them; and almost every man of them, according to his quality, went attended with his guard of Janizaries, like Titus:* so that what with their followers, and the seditious townsmen of that city, they made the formidable appearance of an army; at least sufficient to have swallowed up the guards, and to have seized the person of the king, in case he had not prevented it by a speedy removal, as soon as he had dissolved that parliament.

I begin already to be tired with drawing after their deformities, as a painter would be, who had nothing before him in his table but lazars, cripples, and hideous faces, which he was obliged to represent: yet I must not omit some few of their most notorious copyings. Take for example their Council of Six, which was an imitation of the League, who set up their famous council, commonly called "Of the Sixteen :" And take notice, that on both sides they picked out the most heady and violent men of the whole party; nay, they considered not so much as their natural parts, but heavy blockheads were thrown in for lumber, to make up the

Many of the opposition members, particularly those for the city of London, went armed and escorted to the parliament of Oxford, so that they resembled Titus Oates, who in his days of splendour was always attended by a guard.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

weight. Their zeal for the party, and their ambition, atoned for their want of judgment, especially if they were thought to have any interest in the people. Loud roarers of ay and no in the parliament, without common sense in ordinary discourses, if they were favourites of the multitude, were made privy-counsellors of their cabal; and fools, who only wanted a partycoloured coat, a cap, and a bawble, to pass for such amongst reasonable men, were to redress the imaginary grievances of a nation, by murdering, or at least seizing of the king. Men of scandalous lives, cheats, and murderers, were to reform the nation, and propagate the Protestant religion: and the rich ideots to hazard their estates and expectations, to forsake their ease, honour, and preferments, for an empty name of heading a party; the wittiest man amongst them to encumber and vex his decrepit age, for a silly pique of revenge, and to maintain his character to the last, of never being satisfied with any government, in which he was not more a king than the present master. To give the last stroke to this resemblance, fortune did her part; and the same fate, of division amongst themselves, ruined both those councils which were contriving their king's destruction. The Duke of Mayenne and his adherents, who were much the most honest of the Leaguers, were not only for a king, but for a king of the royal line, in case that duke could not cause the election to fall on himself, which was impossible, because he was already married. The rest were, some for this man, some for another, and all in a lump for the daughter of Spain: this disunited them, and in the end ruined their conspiracy. In our Council of Six, some were for murdering, and some for securing of the king; some for a rising in the west, and some for an insurrection of the Brisk Boys of Wapping in short, some were for a mongrel kind of kingship, to the exclusion of the royal line, but the greater part for a bare-faced commonwealth. This raised a division in their council; that division was fomented into a mutual hatred of each other; and the conclusion was, that instead of one conspiracy, the machines played double, and produced two, which were carried on at the same time. A kind of spread-eagle plot was hatched, with two heads growing out of the same body: such twin treasons are apt to struggle like Esau and Jacob in the womb, and both endeavouring to be first born, the younger pulls back the elder by the heel.

I promised to observe no order, and am performing my word before I was aware. After the barricades, and at many other times, the Duke of Guise, and Council of Sixteen, amongst

the rest of the articles, demanded of the king to cashier his guards of the forty-five gentlemen, as unknown in the times of his predecessors, and unlawful; as also, to remove his surest friends from about his person, and from their places, both military and civil. I leave any man to judge, whether our conspirators did not play the second part to the same tune; whether his majesty's guards were not alleged to be unlawful, and a grievance to the subjects; and whether frequent votes did not pass in the House of Commons at several times, for removing and turning out of office those, who, on all occasions, behaved themselves most loyally to the king, without so much as giving any other reason of their misdemeanors than public fame; that is to say, reports forged and spread by their own faction, or without allowing them the common justice of vindicating themselves from those calumnies and aspersions.

I omit the many illegal imprisonments of freeborn men, by their own representatives, who, from a jury, erected themselves into judges; because I find nothing resembling it in the worst and most seditious times of France. But let the history be searched, and I believe Bussy Le Clerc never committed more outrages in pillaging of houses, than Waller in pretending to search for Popish relics:* Neither do I remember that the French Leaguers ever took the evidence of a Jew, as ours did of Faria.† But this I wonder at the less, considering what Christian witnesses have been used, if at least the chief of them was ever christened. Bussy Le Clerc, it is true, turned out a whole parliament together, and brought them prisoners to the Bastile; and Bussy Oates was for garbling

Jean Le Clerc, otherwise called Bussy, once a procureur before the parliament of Paris: being a bold, active, and ferocious man, he was created gov ployed in seizing the persons of the President Har

ernor of the Bastile by the Duke of Guise, and em

lai, and other counsellors of parliament, and exercising severities on all those suspected of disaffection to the cause of the League. Dryden compares him to Waller, whom the Catholics accused of pillaging their houses, under pretence of searching for relics during the times of the plot.

+ Francisco de Faria, who designed himself interpreter and secretary of languages to Gasper de

Abreu de Freitas, ambassador from the crown of Portugal, was one of the witnesses concerning the popish plot. He pretended he had been employed by the Portuguese ambassador to assassinate Oates, Bedlow, and Shaftesbury. His narrative was licensed for publication on 19th November, 1680; and concludes with an impudent affectation of admiring the Divine Providence, which had brought him "from almost the utmost parts of the far distant habitable world, to be an instrument, in England, to detect, or at least more convincingly to prove the truth of these horrid treasons and conspiracies." Faria was a native of Pernambuco, in Brazil, and apparently a Portuguese Jew.

too, when he informed against a worthy and loyal member, whom he caused to be expelled the House, and sent prisoner to the Tower: But that which was then accounted a disgrace to him, will make him be remembered with honour to posterity.


I will trouble the reader but with one obmore, and that shall be to show how dully and pedantically they have copied even the false steps of the League in politics, and those very maxims which ruined the heads of it. The Duke of Guise was always ostentatious of his power in the states, where he carried all things in opposition to the king; but, by relying too much on the power he had there, and not using arms when he had them in his hand, I mean by not prosecuting his victory to the uttermost, when he had the king enclosed in the Louvre, he missed his opportunity, and fortune never gave it him again.

The late Earl of Shaftesbury, who was the undoubted head and soul of that party, wer upon the same maxims; being (as we may reasonably conclude) fearful of hazarding his fortunes, and observing, that the late rebellion, under the former king, though successful in war, yet ended in the restoration of his present majesty, his aim was to have excluded his royal highness by an act of parliament; and to have forced such concessions from the king, by pressing the chimerical dangers of a popish plot, as would not only have destroyed the succession, but have subverted the monarchy; for he presumed he ventured nothing, if he could have executed his designs by form of law, and in a parliamentary way. In the mean time, he made notorious mistakes; first, in imagining that his pretensions would have passed in the House of Peers, and afterwards by the king. When the death of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey had fermented the people; when the city had taken the alarm of a popish plot, and the government of it was in fanatic hands; when a body of White Boys was already appearing in the west, and many other counties waited but the word to rise-then was the time to have pushed his business: but Almighty God, who had otherwise disposed of the event, infatuated his counsels, and made him slip his opportunity; which he himself observed too

* Sir Robert Peyton was expelled the House, and committed to the Tower, on account of expressing some hesitation as to the credibility of Oates.

+ White was the dress affected by those who crowded to see Monmouth in his western tour. Mr. Trenchard undertook to raise 1500 men in and about Taunton alone. See Lord Grey's Account of the Rye-house Plot, p. 18; where the plan of the city insurrection is also distinctly detailed, Pp. 32


late, and would have redressed by an insurrection, which was to have begun at Wapping, after the king had been murdered at the Rye. And now, it will be but justice, before I conclude, to say a word or two of my author.* He was formerly a Jesuit. He has, amongst others of his works, written the history of Arianism, of Lutheranism, of Calvinism, the Holy War, and the Fall of the Western Empire. In all his writings, he has supported the temporal power of sovereigns, and especially of his master the French King, against the usurpations and encroachments of the papacy. For which reason, being in disgrace at Rome, he was in a manner forced to quit his order, and, from Father Maimbourg, is now become Monsieur Maimbourg. The great king, his patron, has provided plentifully for him by a large salary, and indeed he has deserved it from him. As for his style, it is rather Ciceronian, copious, florid, and figurative, than succinct: He is esteemed in the French court equal to their best writers, which has procured him the envy of some who set up for critics. Being a professed enemy of the Calvinists, he is particularly hated by them; so that their testimonies against him stand suspected of prejudice. This history of the League is generally allowed to be one of his best pieces. He has quoted everywhere his authors in the margin, to show his impartiality; in which, if I have not followed him, it is because the chiefest of them are unknown to us, as not being hitherto translated into English. His particular commendations of men and families, is all which I think superfluous in his book; but that, too, is pardonable in a man, who, having created himself many enemies, has need of the support of friends. This particular work was written by express order of the French King, and is now translated by our king's command. I hope the effect of it in this nation will be, to make the well-meaning men of the other party sensible of their past errors, the worst of them ashamed, and prevent posterity from the like unlawful and impious design.

'Louis Maimbourg was born at Nanci in 1610, and became a Jesuit in 1626. But he was degraded from that order by the general, because he espoused, in some of his writings, the cause of the Gallican church against the claims of the Roman see. He retired to the Abbey of St. Victor, where he died in 1686. His historical writings, which are numerous, are now held in little esteem, being all composed in the spirit of a partisan, and without even the affectation of impartiality. They are, however, lively and interesting during the perusal; which led an Italian to say, that Maimbourg was among the historians, what Momus was among the deities.

Maimbourg's History of the League was first published at Paris in 1683.

« EelmineJätka »