The Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon V2
by Henry Craik
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse




















JOHN HAMPDEN From a miniature by Samuel Cooper, in the possession of Earl Spencer

GEORGE MONK, DUKE OF ALBEMARLE From the original by Sir Peter Lely, in the National Portrait Gallery

GENERAL LAMBERT From the original by R. Walker, in the National Portrait Gallery

SIR HENRY VANE, THE YOUNGER From the original by William Dobson, in the National Portrait Gallery

JOHN MAITLAND, DUKE OF LAUDERDALE From the original by Sir Peter Lely, in the National Portrait Gallery

GEORGE DIGBY, SECOND EARL OF BRISTOL From the original by Sir Anthony Vandyke, in the Collection of Earl Spencer

SIR EDWARD NICHOLAS From the original by Sir Peter Lely, in the National Portrait Gallery

ANNE HYDE, DUCHESS OF YORK From the original by Sir Peter Lely

JAMES BUTLER, DUKE OF ORMONDE From the original by Sir Godfrey Kneller



After the death of Cromwell, on September 3rd, 1658, there ensued for the exiled Court twenty months of constant alternation between hope and despair, in which the gloom greatly preponderated. As the chief pilot of the Royalist ship, Hyde, now titular Lord Chancellor, had to steer his way through tides that were constantly shifting, and with scanty gleam of success to light him on the way. Within the little circle of the Court he was assailed by constant jealousy, none the less irksome because it was contemptible. The policy of Charles, so far as he had any policy apart from Hyde, varied between the encouragement of friendly overtures from supporters of different complexions at home, and a somewhat damaging cultivation of foreign alliances, which were delusive in their proffered help, and might involve dangerous compliance with religious tenets abhorred in England. The friends in England were jealous and suspicious of one another, and their loyalty varied in its strength, and was marked by very wide difference in its ultimate objects. It would have been hard in any case to discern the true position amidst the complicated maze of political parties in England; it was doubly hard for one who had been an exile for a dozen years. To choose between different courses was puzzling. Inaction was apt to breed apathy; but immature action would only lead to further persecution of the loyalists, and to disaster to the most gallant defenders of the rights of the King. With the true instinct of a statesman, Hyde saw that the waiting policy was best; but it was precisely the policy that gave most colour to insinuations of his want of zeal. In spite of his exile, he understood the temper of the nation better than any of the paltry intriguers round him; to study that temper was not a process that commended itself to their impatient ambitions. His pen was unresting: in preparing pamphlets, in writing under various disguises, in carrying on endless correspondence, in drafting constant declarations. But all such work met with little acknowledgment from those who thought that their own intrigues were more likely to benefit the King, and, above all, to advance themselves. They recked nothing of that sound traditional frame of government which it was the aim of Hyde religiously to conserve. Few statesmen have had a task more hard, more thankless, and more hopeless than that which fell to him during these troubled months.

Hyde was saved from despair only by the intense dramatic instinct of the historian that was implanted in him. He could, or—what came to the same thing—he believed that he could, discern the greater issues of the time, and what interested him above all was the vast influence upon those issues of personal forces. When he recalled the events of his time, in the enforced leisure of later years, it was to the action of great personalities that he gave his chief attention, and the passing incidents grouped themselves in his memory as mere accessories to the play of individual character. All through his history it is this which chiefly attracts us, and nowhere is it more striking than when he records the passing of the greatest personal force of the age in Cromwell. It did not occur to Hyde—and, to their credit be it said, it did not occur to any even of the more friendly spectators on the other side—to regard Cromwell as the embodiment of a mighty purifying force in which defects were to be ignored or even justified on account of the heaven-inspired dictates under which he was presumed to have acted. Just as little could Hyde conceive of Cromwell as the great precursor of modern ideas, demanding the obedient homage of every ardent partisan of popular rights. These were eccentricities reserved for later historians under impulses of later origin. Hyde was compelled by all his strongest traditions and most cherished principles to regard Cromwell's work as utterly destructive, and he never pretended to have anything but the bitterest prejudice against him. To his mind, Cromwell was sent as a punishment from Heaven for national defection, and he never concealed his hatred for Cromwell's profound dissimulation or his abhorrence for the tyranny which the Protector succeeded in imposing on the nation. To have assumed an impartial attitude would only have been, to Hyde, an effort of insincerity. It is precisely this which gives its weight to the measured estimate which Hyde forms of his stupendous powers. His appreciation of Cromwell is a pendant to that which he gives of Charles I. The latter is inspired with a clear flame of loyalty; but this does not blind him to the defects of the master for whom he had such a sincere regard. His deadly hatred of Cromwell leaves him equally clear-sighted as to the Protector's supreme ability.

"He was one of those men whom his very enemies could not condemn without commending him at the same time; for he could never have done half that mischief without great parts of courage, industry, and judgment." "He achieved those things in which none but a valiant and great man could have succeeded." "Wickedness as great as his could never have accomplished these trophies without the assistance of a great spirit, an admirable circumspection and sagacity, and a most magnanimous resolution." "When he was to act the part of a great man, he did it without any indecency, notwithstanding the want of custom." "He extorted obedience from those who were not willing to yield it." "In all matters which did not concern the life of his jurisdiction, he seemed to have great reverence for the law." "As he proceeded with indignation and haughtiness with those who were refractory and dared to contend with his greatness, so towards all who complied with his good pleasure and courted his protection, he used a wonderful civility, generosity, and bounty." "His greatness at home was but a shadow of the glory he had abroad." "He was not a man of blood, and totally declined Machiavel's method." When a massacre of Royalists was suggested, "Cromwell would never consent to it; it may be out of too much contempt of his enemies." "In a word, as he had all the wickedness against which damnation is denounced, and for which hell-fire is prepared, so he had some virtues which have caused the memory of some men in all ages to be celebrated; and he will be looked upon by posterity as a brave bad man."

These fierce words are inspired by exceeding hatred. But in spite of that, we can see that Hyde felt himself in the presence of a greatness that compelled respect. He was himself to exercise, in conformity with law, and with a profound respect for it, very considerable power for a few years to come, and was to leave his impress upon a century and a half of English history. But that influence was only to come after a greater and a more forceful spirit had passed away, leaving no one fit to wield the same resistless power. Never has stern denunciation been relieved by a tribute of more dignified admiration of unquestionable greatness. His warmest admirers could not place Cromwell on a higher pedestal of acknowledged grandeur, all untouched by sympathy and all unbending in condemnation though Hyde's verdict is.

The same dramatic element is present in Hyde's picture of the scene that followed. Cromwell's life had closed amidst clouds and thickening trouble. The Earl of Warwick and his grandson and heir (Cromwell's son-in-law), had both died. On that side his alliance with the great aristocracy of England was broken. Another son-in-law, Lord Falconbridge, was alienated from him, and refused to acquiesce in his later ambitions. Desborough, his brother- in-law, was at least doubtful in his allegiance; and Fleetwood, a third son-in-law, was a feeble craven, upon whom no reliance could be placed. The fear of assassination had haunted him; and the death of Syndercombe in prison had snatched away from him the chance of making a striking example of one who had plotted against his life. The death of his daughter, the wife of Claypole, had sorely tried the tenderness that was mingled with his stern ambition, and it may be that the story of her grief at the blood he shed had some foundation, and that the prick of conscience added to his gloom. At least, it is certain that the sun of his success set in clouds and darkness, which might portend the crash of the fabric he had raised.

But Hyde is keenly impressed with the absolute contrast between the portents and the reality.

"Never monarch, after he had inherited a crown by many descents, died in more silence nor with less alteration; and there was the same, or a greater, calm in the kingdom than had been before." "The dead is interred in the sepulchre of the Kings, and with the obsequies due to such. His son inherits all his greatness and all his glory, without that public hate, that visibly attended the other." "Nothing was heard in England but the voice of joy." That state might have continued "if this child of fortune could have sat still." But "the drowsy temper of Richard" was little fitted to benefit by this apparent acceptance, much as it damped the hopes of the exiled Court. The engagements already made with Sweden rendered supplies necessary, and to raise these supplies it was necessary to summon a Parliament. Cromwell's bold scheme of Parliamentary reform, by which he had added to the county representatives and diminished those of the smaller burghs, was departed from, and the burgh representatives were again increased so as to give to the "Court" better opportunities of interfering in elections. Parliament met on January 27th, 1658/9, and it was not long before troublesome disputes again broke out. The votes were carried by small majorities, and there were so many various parties in the House that it was never certain when a combination of adverse factions might outnumber the followers of the "Court." To these followers there was opposed a strong phalanx of ardent Republicans, and the balance was held by a nondescript element called the "Neuters," amongst whom there were some even of Royalist leanings. Hyde was in constant correspondence with Royalist adherents in England, as to the means by which these different parties in Parliament might be used to involve the Government of Richard in trouble, to accentuate such discontent as existed, and, if possible, to steal an occasional adverse vote. But such schemes had little success.

Opposition to the Government, however, came from a source more powerful than a divided Parliament. Lambert had been cashiered by the late Protector; but he still retained an enormous influence in the army, and the army had no mind to submit tamely to extinction by Parliament. A council of the officers met to air their grievances, and Lambert, although no longer an officer, had a place amongst them. They complained that their pay was in arrear; that their services were neglected; that "the good old cause was traduced by malignants"; and that Parliament must be moved to redress their wrongs. With strange impolicy, Parliament passed a resolution against any council of officers, and sought to impose its authority upon a power greater than itself. The ready answer was a demand for the dissolution of Parliament. Richard Cromwell was allowed no choice in the matter; if he did not do it, the army, he was told, would do it for him. He gave an involuntary assent. On April 22nd the dissolution took place, and Richard found himself virtually deposed. For another year there was little but anarchy in England, and any semblance of a constitution was virtually in abeyance.

As the creature of the army, the old Rump Parliament was restored on May 7th. That was the name given to that section of the Long Parliament which sat from 1648 (when "Pride's Purge," as it was called, was applied) to 1653, when Cromwell ejected the remaining members and summarily closed the doors of Parliament. Of 213 members of the Long Parliament only ninety were thus permitted to sit, and of these only seventy actually did sit. Those who were not pronounced Republicans were excluded by the rough-and- ready method of a military guard placed at the door of the House. Such an assembly could have no respect from the nation, and was clearly only an instrument by which the Council of the Army might exercise its power. "The name of the Protector was no longer heard but in derision." [Footnote: Richard Cromwell submitted himself, with abject and craven weakness, to the will of this so-called Parliament. Nor did his younger brother, Henry, the Lieutenant of Ireland, prove to have any larger share of his father's courage.] But nothing was established to take the place of the authority thus cast aside.

Once more, and in even greater degree, the hopes of the Royalists were cast down. The restoration of the House which had destroyed the monarchy seemed, in the words of Hyde, "to pull up all the hopes of the King by the roots." In this despair the Duke of York was ready, at the persuasion of those about him, to accept from the King of Spain the post of Admiral of his Fleet. It offered, what there seemed but little likelihood of his otherwise obtaining, a place of dignity and a means of livelihood. That it necessarily involved a profession of the Roman Catholic religion was sufficient to condemn it in the eyes of Hyde, as at once unprincipled and impolitic. With the Duke's immediate advisers such considerations counted for nothing.

Backed by the visible force of the army, of which Lambert, now restored to his commission, was the virtual leader, the Rump Parliament showed a temporary vigour. All Cavaliers were banished from London. Monk, who commanded in Scotland, accepted the Parliament's authority. The fleet gave in its allegiance, and the relations with foreign powers were for a brief period renewed under the altered administration. The name of Parliament sufficed for a time to carry conviction to the people at large that this was the only means of preserving the Republican institutions which seemed to embody all that they had fought for.

But the real popular support to this fantastic substitute for Government was very small. All over the country discontent was widely spread, and had penetrated deeply into the hearts of the people. The Royalists, detached and ill-organized as they were, yet found themselves able to show some boldness and to appeal more openly for armed support. John Mordaunt, a brother of the Earl of Mordaunt, was daunted by no difficulties, and was able without great danger to carry on correspondence with probable adherents, to pass backwards and forwards between the exiled Court and England, and to concoct armed risings in various parts of the kingdom. The King took up his residence incognito at Calais, in readiness to sail for England and put himself at the head of the levies whose gathering was confidently hoped for. The Duke of York was close at hand at Boulogne. To the more cautious counsellors like Hyde the schemes seemed hazardous and the time unripe for them. But even he could not refuse some response to affections so warm and efforts so courageous as those of Mordaunt. At the beginning of August all, it was hoped, would be ready for a series of successful risings in different parts of the country.

There was indeed abundance of enthusiasm. From all parts of the country offers of risings came. Sir George Booth was to seize Chester; Lord Newport, Shrewsbury; and in Gloucestershire, Devonshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and North Wales, the Royalists were only too eager for the work. The ludicrous weakness of the Parliament made it a matter of no great danger to defy what could hardly be deemed an existing Government. But the Royalists had been too long depressed and deprived of any share in administration to take a just measure of the difficulties. They reckoned without the army that was at the back of Parliament.

They reckoned also without that treachery which had only too ample opportunity to work, amidst plans and associates so scattered and so lamentably disorganized, A traitor was now, as often in these Royalist plottings, received into their full confidence, and through him a detailed account of all their plans was sent to Thurloe. [Footnote: John Thurloe was born in 1616, and became a lawyer. He obtained active employment under the Parliament, and was Secretary to the Parliamentary Commissioners at Uxbridge. He acted as Secretary to Cromwell for secret correspondence, and amassed enormous experience in the intricacies of foreign diplomacy, which afterwards stood him in good stead when, after the Restoration, he wished to make himself useful to the new Government, and thus escape the penalties which his former political attachments would certainly have involved. Until the Restoration was all but accomplished he gave useful help to Richard Cromwell, but yet was able to ingratiate himself with the new Ministers.] Hyde learned that Sir Richard Willis, [Footnote: Sir Richard Willis had done good service to the royal cause in the war. As a close adherent of Prince Rupert, he became, when Governor of Newark in 1645, involved in one of the many quarrels between the Civil Commissioners and the army officers. Charles I. removed him from the Governorship, but desired to do so without friction by providing him with a post in his own escort. Willis's insolence in refusing this roused the King's anger so far as to lead him to banish Willis from his presence. Willis was a good soldier, rendered mutinous by the bad example of Prince Rupert; but it is hard to account for his present treachery. As Warburton, in his note on the History of the Rebellion (Bk. XVI., para. 31) says, "he could not think of starving for conscience' sake, though he had courage enough to fight for it."] who had already played a double game of treachery, was acting as he had acted before, when he betrayed Ormonde's presence in London to Cromwell, and at the same time enabled Ormonde to escape by telling him of Cromwell's knowledge. Willis's betrayal gave the Parliamentary leaders time to collect forces sufficient to meet all attacks; and when he had thus baulked the attempt, Willis was ready to discover enough to prevent those whom he had betrayed from falling into the trap. Messages were sent to delay the rising, and in most cases they were in time to prevent outbreaks which were fore-doomed to failure. Only Sir George Booth, in the seizure of Chester, and Middleton, in the North Wales rising, actually carried out what had been planned. A very brief campaign sufficed for Lambert to crush the nascent rebellion. Booth and Lord Derby [Footnote: Son of the Earl who played so noble a part in the war, and who was executed after the battle of Worcester in 1651.] were prisoners in the hands of Lambert; and Middleton was compelled to consent to the destruction of his house, Chirk Castle. Once more a brief gleam of hope was succeeded by more profound despair, and there was nothing more to be done by Charles and the Duke of York than to return from the French coast to Brussels. But there was no Cromwell to crush future attempts by a policy of ruthless revenge. A few prisoners were taken; but the time was past for trials and executions. Legal processes were beyond the range of the sorry faction that stood for administration in England.

But scarcely had these abortive attempts been crushed before another avenue of hope opened itself to Charles and his adherents. It was one for which Hyde had no great liking, and from which he expected little good result. But obviously it was not to be neglected. After a long, barren, and destructive war, both France and Spain were eager for peace. Neither was ready to make the first overtures, and neither would confess an ardent desire for peace. But an opportunity occurred, now that a wife had to be found for Louis XIV. The Infanta of Spain offered a consort entirely suitable, and a marriage might be arranged with the better augury if it should prove a method of bringing to an end a mutually destructive war. Mazarin viewed the proposal with suspicion, and was unwilling to conclude a peace when the success of French arms seemed already secure. But the Queen-Mother of France ardently desired the marriage, and mainly by her efforts Cardinal Mazarin and Don Lewis de Haro were induced to treat. Most men thought that the design was a vain one, fomented only in the enthusiasm of family ties. But the desire for a cessation of a useless struggle operated more powerfully than Mazarin was able to perceive; and that desire overcame the delays and doubts of diplomatic action. The time and place of meeting to arrange a treaty of peace were fixed; and there was at least a fair prospect that the two Kings might soon find themselves with free hands, and with greater power to prosecute the forcible restoration of Charles II. to his throne. Both had often alleged that only the poverty of their exchequer and the heavy expenses of the war prevented any cordial and effective assistance being rendered to the exiled King. What claim to consideration might Charles not make good, what sound reasons of policy might it not be possible to suggest, if both were relieved of the burdens of war?

Hyde, as we have abundant reason to know, placed no confidence in foreign aid, and looked with suspicion upon the conditions under which it would be granted. But he could interpose no obstacles to the present application. He himself remained at Breda, and held the threads of all the discrepant and varying negotiations; but he did not attempt to dissuade Charles from making a somewhat venturesome and hopeless voyage to Fontarabia, where the Treaty was being discussed in September, 1659. At first Charles attempted to procure a pass from Cardinal Mazarin. But in the face of opposition by the Queen this was hopeless, and, accompanied only by Ormonde and Bristol and a small retinue, he made his way, incognito, through France. Even in the strain of anxiety Charles's natural disposition showed itself in wasting time in order to see parts of France which he had not yet visited. The pleasure of the moment always weighed with him more than the prosecution of business. Adversity, perhaps happily for himself, made him callous rather than despondent.

The business of the treaty between France and Spain meanwhile advanced more quickly than any one had ventured to hope. The difficulties as to France's pledges to Portugal, and those of Spain to the Prince of Cond, were somehow settled—or, at least, ignored. If France had to yield to some pressure on the part of Don Lewis de Haro, she avenged herself by retaining her hold on those former Spanish possessions in Flanders which the fortune of war had placed in her hands. Sir Henry Bennet represented Charles in Spain, and was sorely perplexed when the final ratification approached, and the King made no appearance. Ormonde had been sent to Fontarabia, but Charles lingered at Toulouse, before proceeding from there towards Madrid. His presence there was not desired, and he found himself compelled, after roundabout journeys, to put in an appearance at the scene of the treaty. Both France and Spain held out delusive hopes of aid. Don Lewis presented him with a dole of seven thousand pistoles, and promised a good reception on his return to Flanders. There was nothing for it but to make his way back to Brussels, and join once more in the plans of Hyde and his council there. He found the prospect no more cheerful than before.

During the autumn matters had moved forward in England. Lambert had strengthened his hold upon the army, and now pressed its authority more urgently upon the discredited Parliament. He demanded that Fleetwood (whose weakness made him an easy tool) should be General, and that he himself should be Major-General. The Parliament, under the leading of Hazlerigg and Vane, still resisted his claims, and attempted to defy him. Their resistance was easily overcome. Lambert met Lenthall, the Speaker, on his way to the House, compelled him to return home, and by main force closed the Parliament. In its place was established a Committee of Safety of twenty-three members, to which the administration was entrusted. Besides officers of the army and some London citizens, certain representatives of the Parliament were granted seats upon it. Lambert seemed, for the moment, to be completely master of the situation, and the Royalists conceived hopes that they might secure for their own cause the assistance of the leaders of the army. Fleetwood, however, lost his head, and would not act without the permission of Lambert. In December he escaped from responsibility by resigning his commission. Lambert would have been a stouter ally; and overtures seem to have been made that he should declare for the King, and that his daughter should be the wife of Charles. Such proposals met with no encouragement from Hyde, and were quietly dropped. Once more Lenthall, and the remnant of Parliament which he represented, recovered their courage and showed some energy. They met again on December 12th, and were able to assert their authority enough to cashier some of the officers, and commit Lambert to the Tower. Such was the position when Charles returned to Brussels with the scanty fruits of his mission to Fontarabia. It looked as if once more that Rump Parliament, which had crushed the monarchy and abolished the House of Lords, was master of the situation. To one watching events from a distance like Hyde, parties and persons must have appeared to chase one another in a bewildering dance, like antic figures reflected on a screen.

Then it was that there came forward on the scene the man who, under the guidance of circumstances rather than of any fixed line of policy, was to be the main instrument of the restoration of the King. General Monk [Footnote: George Monk was born in 1608, and very early sought his fortune in war abroad, where he showed conspicuous bravery. In 1629 he served for a time with the Dutch; but came back to England when the army was levied in 1639 to act against the Scots. He was afterwards employed against the Irish rebels, but joined the King at Oxford, and when fighting in the Royalist ranks was taken prisoner, and committed by Parliament to the Tower. He was afterwards released to serve in Ireland, apparently with no settled purpose of deserting the Royalist cause. He served there long, and in 1650 went with Cromwell to Scotland, commanding a new regiment, which afterwards became the Coldstream Guards. From that time he became the close friend of Cromwell, and at one time commanded the fleet in some successful actions against Van Tromp. In the later years of the Commonwealth the Government of Scotland was virtually in his hands. His military powers were far greater than his discernment or capacity as a statesman. His wife was the daughter of John Clarges, a farrier in the Savoy, and, to a reputation that was none of the most savoury, added the manners of a kitchen-maid and a slut, and the avarice of a usurer. Her brother, who was an apothecary, became employed through the influence of Monk. He carried over to Charles the flattering message from Parliament in May, 1660, and was then knighted. As Sir John Clarges, he had a long and active Parliamentary career, and did not die till 1695.] was now supreme in Scotland, where Cromwell had placed him in command. Parliament looked to him as the only possible counterpoise to Lambert. Hyde placed no great reliance upon him, and shrewdly judged that he was one whose actions would be governed by events rather than one whose foresight and initiative would direct the progress of those events. He had abundant military experience, was a competent commander, and not only by family tradition, but by his own early action in the war, he was judged to be no obstinate enemy to the royal cause. But long association with Cromwell had committed him, to all appearance, indissolubly to the opposite cause; and, if he had no political prescience, he was, nevertheless, eminently cautious, and was not liable to be led astray by any fervent attachment to special views either in politics or religion. His wife, who was a coarse and low-born drudge, was guided by the fervour of her Presbyterian advisers; but her religious zeal had no influence over the calmer temper of her husband. At a juncture like the present it required no abnormal sagacity to convince Monk that the only possible course open to him was that of impenetrable secrecy as to his designs—even had he been more certain himself as to what these designs might be. With admirable deliberation—for intellectual dulness, on rare occasions, can assume the aspect of Machiavellian design —he laid his plans for a non-committal policy. He made himself safe in Scotland by inducing the Scottish Parliament to give him a considerable grant of money, and by leaving behind him a sufficient portion of his army to maintain a firm hold on the Government there. With a moderate force of about 5000 men, he slowly advanced towards London. Parliament had invited him; but they soon saw that Monk was not likely to be their obedient servant, and would fain have induced him to return. Monk none the less advanced; but it was with the utmost deliberation and circumspection, crossing no Rubicon, and breaking no bridge behind him. No word in favour of a royal restoration passed his lips. He frowned on all who ventured to suggest such a course. At each stage in his advance he pronounced, with edifying conviction, his determination to maintain the authority of Parliament; and if the announcement bore also the condition that the Parliament should be free, that was a condition to which none could fairly object, and which did not seem to lessen the soundness of Monk's Republicanism. If his sphinx-like attitude proceeded more from inability to discern the line of least resistance, than from conscious dissimulation, or any deliberate concealment of a far-seeing policy, it nevertheless was pursued with much adroitness, and no other course of action could have enabled Monk to accomplish all he did. It was this which secured for him an apparently grateful and cordial reception from the Parliament, although it dreaded his presence, and would gladly have heard that he had begun his march back to Scotland. He arrived in London early in February; and his unwilling hosts had no alternative but to bow to an outwardly friendly authority which they had no means of resisting.

In the whole proceedings, from this time forward, there is a distinct element of comedy, which comes as a welcome relief after the long tragedy of Hyde's narrative, and which, even though he wrote it looking back over an interval of checkered years, is apparent in the altered tone of that narrative. Monk had marched slowly on the capital. When he arrived at St. Albans, he halted there, and sent to Parliament to represent the inconvenience that might arise from the presence of troops that had proved unfaithful, and to ask for their removal. There was nothing for it but to obey. Even this was not easy, because the discarded troops proved restive and were on the point of mutiny. But their officers had disappeared, and they were at length persuaded to leave the City clear for Monk's approach. When that was arranged, he marched through the City and the Strand to Westminster, and took up his appointed quarters at Whitehall. He was received in the House of Parliament with every honour. The man whose intentions they more than suspected, and whose presence they would gladly have dispensed with, was told that he was a public benefactor whose happy intervention had saved the State. "His memory would flourish to all ages," and Parliament would ever be grateful for his support in time of need.

"The general was not a man of eloquence, or of any volubility of speech," But he assured them of his unalterable fidelity. He told them of the addresses that had reached him at every stage of his southern march, and of the general desire "for a free Parliament." As that was just what they were not, the avowed profession of his ardent agreement with this desire, however constitutional, was hardly fitted to remove their uneasiness. They were in the utmost straits for money. The exchequer was empty, and their authority was not sufficient effectively to impose taxation. They demanded advances from the City, and were roughly told that no advances would be made except on the authority of a freely elected House. Would Monk support them in this contest? He was asked to march into the City, to restore order, and, as a sign of it, to destroy the ancient city gates. So far Monk seemed to comply with the demands of his nominal masters. He overawed the citizens, and executed the orders of the Parliament upon their portcullises and gates. For the moment Parliament conceived its authority to be vindicated. But with singular folly they accepted, with favour, an absurd petition from Praise-God Barebone and his friends, who inveighed against all who would question the power of the Rump Parliament, and pressed for stern measures on all who presumed so much as to name the restoration of the King, or who would not abjure any Government in the hands of a single person. This roused the keen animosity of the officers, and decided them to press on Monk an alteration of his course. Once more he visited the City; but this time not as an enemy, but as a friend. In good round terms he rated the Parliament for countenancing the wild ravings of a dangerous rabble. He demanded that by a certain date they should issue writs for a free Parliament and bring their own sittings to an end. Their hopes were at once scattered to the winds; and in the wild tumult of bonfires and rejoicings with which Monk's declaration was celebrated in the City, they saw the death-knell of their own power. In the licence of recovered liberty many toasted the King's health, and there was none to say them nay.

Monk returned to Whitehall, and summoning some of the members to his presence, he delivered to them in writing his views—equivalent to his commands—as to the course which must be followed. He pointed out how all Government was now subverted, and how necessary it was that it should be repaired. He indicated his preference for a Commonwealth, and saw in a moderate Presbyterianism the most promising religious settlement. But, in truth, these were only hints as to the future; the immediate matter was the issue of writs for a new Parliament which should decide as to the ultimate arrangement. Only he was careful to give no sign of any readiness to restore the King. At this stage, that might have proved a compromising definition of his intentions.

The first step was to restore to their places in Parliament all who had been excluded in 1648 by Colonel Pride. On February 21st, all those who remained of the Long Parliament once more assembled at Westminster, and the majority soon reversed the action of the Rump. Military commands were taken from the sectarian fanatics, and replaced in the hands of men of station throughout the land. Temporary provision was made for revenue, and the city readily advanced what was required upon the credit of the Parliament that was yet to meet. Writs were issued for a new Parliament to meet on April 25th. On March 17th the Long Parliament was finally dispersed.

The Court of Charles at Brussels had meanwhile undergone all the anxieties of alternating hope and despair. Monk's action against the city had confirmed their worst forebodings; but "these fogs and mists," says Hyde," were soon dispelled." It was only a few days later that better news reached Hyde. Late one evening, Ormonde brought a young man to the Lord Chancellor's lodgings, which were just beneath those of the King. The young man [Footnote: "The man's name was Baily; he had lived most in Ireland, and had served there as a foot-officer under the Marquis (Ormonde)" (Hist. of Rebellion, Bk. xvi. p. 139).] looked "as if he had drank much, or slept little." He had just travelled with all expedition from London. From Lambeth, where he had been in a sort of nominal confinement, with others of the King's friends, he had heard the sound of the bells which had rung out when Monk came back to the city as a friend, and had pronounced for a free Parliament. He had crossed the river and viewed the scene of rejoicing in Cheapside; had seen the bonfires, and heard the health of the King toasted. He had joined in open proposals for the restoration of the rightful sovereign; and straight from those unwonted experiences he had taken post for Dover and crossed to Ostend.

It was hard to say how much comfort could be drawn from this report. The messenger had brought a copy of Monk's published declaration; but that contained no word about the restoration of the King. Even were his friends encouraged to action, it was idle to hope for success in arms without foreign aid; and Charles and Hyde knew how small were the chances of such aid. Were the unpurged Long Parliament restored, what better could be hoped from them than that they would open negotiations upon the basis of the old treaty at Newport, which the late King "had yielded to with much less cheerfulness than he had walked to the scaffold"?

The portents, however, continued to be favourable. Addresses were received from many whose favour for the royal cause had, hitherto, been unsuspected, and whose new-found loyalty might well be accepted as an indication of a change in the temper of the nation. Patience was still the watchword urged by Hyde. The issues were ripening, and even now he may have anticipated that bloodless restoration towards which the current was quickly carrying the people.

A new danger suddenly arose, by the escape of Lambert from the Tower in April. His influence in the army was unrivalled, and he alone could raise a counterpoise to the power of Monk. So long as his rival was at large, Monk could not, except at imminent risk, have declared himself more decidedly. To do so would have aroused opposition that would have strengthened that rival's hands. But Lambert's efforts were unavailing. Had he been able to remain in London, Hyde thinks he might, in time, have organized an effective opposition. Instead of this he felt it needful to strike at once. He made his way to Buckinghamshire, and from that county and Warwickshire he was able to collect a considerable force. Colonel Ingoldsby was despatched in pursuit of him, and soon overtook him at Daventry in Northamptonshire. Ingoldsby had been a strong adherent of Cromwell, and (as he asserted, against his will) had been forced to sign the death warrant of the King. He had now an opportunity of rendering a service that might wipe out some heavy scores against him. Lambert at first endeavoured to detach Ingoldsby from his allegiance to Monk, by offering to espouse the cause of Richard Cromwell. But Ingoldsby rightly judged that such a scheme was doomed to failure. Lambert's troops refused to fight and fast deserted him, and he was easily made prisoner and once more committed to the Tower.

During the interval between the Dissolution on March 17th, and the meeting of the new Parliament, the administration was in the hands of a Council of State, which acted with Monk's concurrence. The hopes of the Royalists grew apace, and prominent members of the party no longer hesitated to take an open part in political discussion. The command of the Fleet was put into the hands of Monk—"the General," as he was called—and Admiral Montague, and the latter was known as one well disposed to the King, and ready, even at an earlier date, to have taken active steps for his restoration. Monk alone kept up his prudent reserve. Even in April he continued to express himself as strongly averse to the restoration of monarchy, A conference of some leading men took place at Northumberland House. The Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Manchester, Sir William Waller and others whose political inclinations were in sympathy, joined in that conference, and Monk took part in it. Even then, amongst men whose leanings were all in favour of the King, he deemed it necessary to maintain an attitude of doubt, and refused to consider the possibility of a Restoration without conditions as stringent as those that had been pressed in the last stages of the civil war.

The final steps were carried out through the agency of well-tried adherents of the King, who were connected by old ties of friendship with Monk. A gentleman of Devonshire—with which county Monk was closely connected by ties of property—named William Morrice, had there spent a studious life, but was understood to have leanings towards the Royalist party, A friend of that unsullied loyalist, Sir Bevil Grenville, Morrice had been left in charge of his family, now represented by young Sir John Grenville, the son of Sir Bevil. Monk and Morrice had both been chosen members of the new Parliament, which was to meet on April 25th, and Morrice, who was in close touch with Monk, was vexed to find that all proposals for the restoration of the King were coupled with severe conditions, and were to be based upon acknowledgment of the binding force of the Covenant. Monk took note of the dominance of the Royalist party in that new Parliament, and soon concluded that matters were likely to move in the direction of a Restoration, whether with his aid or no. Day by day he became more inclined to be the foremost instrument of that now inevitable Restoration. Grenville was of too pronounced Royalist tendencies to be given any active part in what were still unavowed designs; but he might be a useful instrument in the confidential negotiations. He had credit enough with Hyde and the counsellors of the King to be accepted without those written credentials with which it would have been dangerous to entrust him. Morrice brought him secretly to Monk, who bade him confer with Morrice as to the terms of the communication to the King. Morrice fully instructed him as to the position. Monk's good inclinations were to be conveyed to Charles, and he was to write in terms which Monk could make public at the convenient time. The King was to promise a very wide pardon for past offences, full liberty of conscience, the payment of arrears of pay to the army, and the confirmation of all sales of forfeited lands. Without such stipulations, the waverers, it was thought, would be driven by despair to resist any scheme of restoration. As a special charge, Monk bade Grenville insist that Charles should move from Brussels to Breda. No trust could be placed in the fickle favour of the Spanish Crown. Thus primed, Grenville sailed, early in April, with Mordaunt, and arrived in due course at Brussels. The over subtlety of the Spanish ministers made them believe that the Restoration, if accomplished at all, would be brought about by the Levellers and Independents, who would bring back the King with nothing more than a semblance of power. An alliance with them alone, it was thought, would be the safest course for Spain. Nothing could persuade Cardenas and Don Lewis de Haro that Charles would be restored on conditions that virtually obliterated all the changes that the civil war had brought about.

It was evident to Hyde that the conditions laid down by Monk could only be complied with under very strict reservations. There was no wish to revive old quarrels, or to deny any fair measure of indemnity, and just as little did Charles desire to alienate the whole body of religious feeling outside the Church. But it was not consistent with the honour of the King that the indemnity should extend to the murderers of his father; nor was it possible to leave order in the Church at the mercy of contending fanatics. It was not difficult to devise a course which should make every reasonable concession to the proposals of Monk, and yet not destroy the hopes of those who looked forward with passionate earnestness to the restoration of the old order, and were not prepared to accept as partners in their future Government those who had formed the Court which had condemned the King. In spite of his long absence from England, Hyde had kept himself well informed on the trend of general feeling, and he judged that such matters could safely be left to the national tribunal. All the disputed points were left to be settled by Parliament. The action of the King was left free; but on the other hand no constitutional objection could be raised to the reservation of doubtful matters for the judgment of a free Parliament.

It was on these lines that the letters which Grenville was to carry from the King to Monk were drafted by Hyde. One letter was addressed to Monk and the Army; one to the House of Commons, and one to the House of Lords. Montague received one addressed to the Navy; and the last was addressed to the Lord Mayor and the City of London. When these letters were prepared, the return of Grenville and Mordaunt from their secret mission was delayed only in order that they might carry back word to Monk that the condition upon which he insisted would be carried out, and that the King would move from Flanders to Dutch territory. That design had to be carried out promptly if it were to be carried out at all. There was good reason to fear treachery on the part of Spain, and she might even so far break the laws of hospitality as to prevent the King's change of abode, and so cripple negotiations that might spoil her alliance with the anti-Royalist party. It was only by the unexpected promptitude of the move that Charles and his little Court were saved from possible delays which Spain could, under the guise of punctilious courtesy, have interposed. Hyde had sure information from an Irishman, then in Cardenas's employment, that such a design was on foot. He at once communicated with Charles, and by three o'clock in the morning, the King had started from Antwerp—which he had already reached in his journey from Brussels to Breda. Before his departure was known, he had already crossed the border.

From Breda, Grenville and Mordaunt were despatched to England, with their batch of all-important letters. No pains were spared to confirm the new- found loyalty of the General, and to assure him of the gratitude of the King. It was in compliment to him, and on Grenville's suggestion, that William Morrice was appointed to the Secretaryship of State, vacant in consequence of the Earl of Bristol having joined the Roman Catholic Church. All the letters were entrusted to the General, and although those other than his own were sealed, copies were supplied to him, so that he might know their contents before they were delivered and read. At the same time a Declaration was issued under the Privy Seal, pledging the King "to grant a free and general pardon" to all his subjects who, within forty days, should throw themselves upon his mercy, "excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by Parliament." For religious differences, it was provided that they should be settled by Act of Parliament, to which the King pledged his consent.

The messengers reached London a week before Parliament was to meet. The General approved the letters, and found no difficulty in the reference to Parliament of those points on which the King was not prepared to give an unlimited pledge. The fact was that the time was already past for haggling about terms. The tide of loyalty was now flowing with a rush that nothing could stem. A month ago, careful observers might say that the question was no longer whether the King was to be restored, but only as to the terms on which the Restoration was to take place. Now, the question of terms was already settled; the only point remaining was, who were to have the prominent parts as agents, and were to be counted as deserving the chief share of gratitude.

On April 25th the new Parliament met, and Sir Harbottle Grimston, who had been one of the Long Parliament members, excluded in 1648, was chosen Speaker. There was no long doubt as to the spirit of the new House. The memory and the deeds of Cromwell were condemned with no uncertain voice. They waited only for the oracle to speak before they resolved to take the final step, and vote the restoration of the King. Not till May 1st did Monk think fit to disclose his intention. He then announced that Sir John Grenville was present with letters to himself and to Parliament. With almost unnecessary parade of ceremony he stated that both were sealed and that he would read his own only by their direction. With due gravity the pretence was carried out, and the letters and Declaration produced a joy, which arose not so much from their terms as from the fact that their delivery by the General opened the door for the free flow of pent-up loyalty. It was no moment for weighing details, or for balancing conditions. The nation was sick to death of the heavy burden that had crushed their life for twenty years. The voice of the constitutionalist was silenced as effectually as the murmurs of the fanatic and the growls of the defeated republican. The Presbyterians spoke in vain of the Covenant; the more moderate found themselves little heeded when they spoke of taking securities before the King was restored. "The warmer zeal of the House threw away all those formalities and affectations." They were not "to offend the King with colder expressions of their duty." The letter that was sent left nothing to be desired in the lavishness of its loyalty. Sir John Grenville was complimented, and before he was despatched with their reply to the King's letter, he was presented with 500, "to buy a jewel to wear, as an honour for being the messenger of so gracious a message." "So great a change was this," says Hyde. Three months before Grenville might have suffered a shameful death if he had been known to have interviewed the King; he was now rewarded for bringing a message from him.

Amidst the general rejoicings the sons of the great Protector passed ignominiously and unheeded from the scene. Never had a great edifice of power, raised by consummate strength of will, and proud ambition, toppled so easily to the ground. Richard—that "child of fortune" as Clarendon calls him—and his brother Henry, the Lieutenant of Ireland, were puppets in the hands of each successive faction. They had readily yielded any phantom of power they possessed into the hands of the army officers, and when the Restoration took place they did not receive even the compliment of notice, as items to be counted in the sweeping change. Amidst the national joy, the poor wretch upon whom there had descended an inheritance that he was not fit to bear, "found it necessary to transport himself into France, more for fear of his debts than of the King, who thought it not necessary to inquire after a man so long forgotten." [Footnote: Rebellion, xvi. 374.] Clarendon points the dramatic contrast of this contemptible exit by introducing a story of a later day. In his subsequent wanderings abroad, Richard Cromwell visited Pezenas, in Languedoc, where the Prince of Conti was Governor, and according to usage he waited upon the Prince, but had the caution to make the visit under another name. The Prince "received him with great civility and grace, according to his natural custom, and, after a few words, began to discourse of the affairs of England and asked many questions concerning the King." He proceeded to discuss the late Protector. "Well," said the Prince, "Oliver, though he was a traitor and a villain, was a brave fellow, had great parts, great courage, and was worthy to command; but that Richard, that coxcomb, coquin, poltron, was surely the basest fellow alive. What is become of that fool? How was it possible he could be such a sot?" His visitor did his best to lay the blame of the miscarriage on the betrayal of Richard by his advisers. But, fearing to be known, he speedily withdrew, and next day left the town. To such abasement had the name of Cromwell fallen; and with this strange episode it disappears from Clarendon's pages.

On May 8th, the King was proclaimed at Westminster Hall and in the city; and bonfires and rejoicings took place, on a scale more prodigious even than when Monk had declared for a free Parliament. The happy news soon spread, and the exiled court was the resort of those who came post-haste to renew old bonds of loyalty, or to lay the foundations of a reputation for new-born zeal for their King. It was not long before those very lukewarm allies, Spain and France, broke down the barriers of their selfish caution, and vied with one another in protestations of friendship and offers of help that was no longer necessary. The unaccustomed warmth of their congratulations adds a new touch of comedy to the surprising scene. The Marquis of Carracena, Governor of Flanders, who had turned a deaf ear to all suggestions of alliance, and had not been slow to hint the inconvenience of the King's prolonged stay in Flanders, now craved his return to Brussels, and when the invitation was politely declined, could only vent his rage on Cardenas, whose dense stupidity had left him so ignorant of all English affairs, after a residence there of sixteen years. Cardinal Mazarin persuaded Queen Henrietta to send Jermyn (now Earl of St. Albans) to invite the King to France. Against that suggestion also, good excuse was pleaded—"the King had declined to return to Brussels, and could not therefore pass through Flanders in order to go to France." The mockery of these shameless overtures of belated friendship might well add to that cynicism which his experiences had done so much to imprint on Charles's heart and brain.

Crowds now came to Breda, no longer as disguised fugitives, but in eager rivalry to have their loyalty published and recognized. Their money offerings were welcome, as they enabled the King to pay his servants their arrears of wages and clear himself from the burden of debt to which he had been long accustomed. The States-General of Holland besought him "to grace the Hague with his royal presence," and received him with all the honour that an anxious ally could display, and all the pomp of magnificence which their wealth enabled them to lavish on the festivities with which they marked his visit. A few days later, letters were brought from Montague, who commanded the fleet, to announce his presence on the Dutch coast, and to ask the orders of the King. The Duke of York assumed the supreme command, and a day was passed in receiving the catalogue of the Fleet, and renaming those ships which recalled dismal memories of the Commonwealth. Soon after, the deputation from the Lords and Commons arrived at the Hague, bearing the supplication of both Houses "that his Majesty would be pleased to return, and take the Government of the kingdom into his hands," and as an earnest of their loyal duty they presented 50,000 to the King, 10,000 to the Duke of York, and 5000 to the Duke of Gloucester. A deputation from the City attended at the same time, to tender their loyalty to the King, and to make an offering of 10,000. It was little wonder that the King, who a few weeks before was hard put to it to borrow a few pistoles, and was deep in debt for the maintenance of his household, should receive such messengers with overflowing welcome. The citizens of London were sent home rejoicing in the honour of knighthood—in abeyance for twenty years, and now conferred on the whole of the deputation.

At the same time there arrived a deputation of the Presbyterian clergy who had different aims in view. They could lay no lavish offerings at the King's feet, and could bring no contribution to the tide of spontaneous loyalty. But they could plead that they had had no lot or part in the fight against the monarchy or in the murder of the King, and that they had given some effective aid in the resistance to the Commonwealth. Could they not manage to secure beforehand some compliance with their religious views, some concessions to tender consciences, some hope that the ceremonies, which their souls hated, would be dispensed with? The Book of Common Prayer had been long disused; might it not be relegated to permanent abeyance, like the feudal tenures, which all agreed should be swept away? Might not, at least, only parts of it be revived, to be mingled with more edifying forms of extempore prayer?

This was precisely what Hyde was not prepared to concede, and Charles answered in the spirit that he would have wished, and must have prompted. The King was ready to give toleration to tender consciences, but he claimed liberty also for himself. In his own presence and by his own chaplain, the Common Prayer Book should certainly be restored. "He would never discountenance the good old order of the Church in which he had been bred." We can have little doubt by whom this answer was inspired. The Presbyterian ambassadors were forced to return with the consciousness that the day of their triumph was gone, and that the Church would oppose to their pretensions a front of resistance as determined as that of the Independents.

On May 24th, Charles sailed in the ship, lately named the Protector, but now rechristened as The Prince. On the 26th he landed at Dover, and on May 29th, he was back in the Palace of his fathers, and the universal acclaim evinced the heartfelt joy with which his people hailed the restoration of their King. The ship which Hyde had steered so long and warily was safe in port. A new and perhaps harder task awaited the pilot.



The task which fell to Hyde during the early months of 1660, in gauging the various influences at work in the country from which he had been banished for fourteen years, was one of acute difficulty. He had been, it is true, in constant correspondence with men whom he could trust; but the letters which reached him from Sheldon, from Lord Mordaunt, from Grenville, and from Brodrick—to name only a few of those who gave him their impressions from week to week—had spoken in various degrees of hope and fear, and given him very different accounts of the state of parties. These parties had greatly shifted their attitude during the years of his banishment. Many of those upon whom dependence had to be placed—such, for instance, as Morrice, the close adherent of Monk, and now Secretary of State—were personally unknown to him. Some of the strongest supporters of a restoration were men who had been conspicuous as adherents of Cromwell, and yet it became increasingly clear to him that their support was even more valuable than that of some whose loyalty was of older date. The Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics had specious claims to advance for consideration; and even the Levellers, the Anabaptists, and the Independents had motives, which dexterous manipulation might foster, and which might make them ready to support the cause of the King, especially now that it was in the ascendant. Amidst the strong tides which were running under the influence of shifting currents of popular opinion, principles were thrust to the wall, and each party, like each individual, was chiefly occupied in looking after personal interests, and adjusting views so as to suit the change of the national situation. No one was sure of anything except that the political quicksands were moving rapidly, and that it behoved them not to be behind others in forming advantageous alliances.

The mood of the time could not be painted in more impressive words than those which Hyde uses, after the manner of Thucydides in describing the moral effects of the Peloponesian war.

"In a word, the nation was corrupted from that integrity, good nature, and generosity, that had been peculiar to it, and for which it had been signal and celebrated throughout the world; in the room whereof the vilest craft and dissembling had succeeded. The tenderness of bowels, which is the quintessence of justice and compassion, the very mention of good nature, was laughed at and looked upon as the mark and character of a fool; and a roughness of manners, or hardheartedness and cruelty, was affected. In the place of generosity, a vile and sordid love of money was entertained as the truest wisdom, and anything lawful that would contribute towards being rich. There was a total decay, or rather a final expiration of all friendship; and to dissuade a man from anything he affected, or to reprove him for anything he had done amiss, or to advise him to do anything he had no mind to do, was thought an impertinence unworthy a wise man, and received with reproach and contempt. These dilapidations and ruins of the ancient candour and discipline were not taken enough to heart, and repaired with that early care and severity that they might have been, for they were not then incorrigible; but by the remissness of applying remedies to some, and the unwariness in giving a kind of countenance to others, too much of that poison insinuated itself into minds not well fortified against such infection, so that much of the malignity was transplanted, instead of being extinguished, to the corruption of many wholesome bodies, which, being corrupted, spread the diseases more powerfully and more mischievously." [Footnote: Life, i. 360.]

The ignoble struggles of callous selfishness were made all the more desperate by the bewildering confusion of the political situation. The most difficult problem had been the attitude of Monk, and that was all the more baffling from the fact that Monk had no clear discernment of his own line of policy, and with all his accidental command of the situation, was too obtuse to choose his own course and follow it consistently. The Presbyterians were monarchical in sympathy, and dreaded the Independents too much to be willing to revert to republican forms; but their determination to alter the ecclesiastical traditions of the Church could not be encouraged without losing the support of the main body of Royalist opinion. The Roman Catholics hoped for toleration, but their hopes could not be indulged without arousing the anti-Catholic prejudices of the nation. The reviving aspirations of the Church had to be fostered, but the extravagance of her hopes of revenge for past wrongs had to be kept in severe check. Hyde himself was too little known by the new generation to be cordially trusted, and he had to reckon on the implacable opposition of those who believed that his influence over the King would make him absolute as Minister. He was left in no doubt as to the slanders which gathered round his name, and as to the personal jealousy of his power. For a time it seemed doubtful whether the Restoration could be accomplished without an express condition that the King should return without his chief adviser. Between Hyde himself and the Presbyterians the feud was too old to be appeased. The Roman Catholics recognized that their hopes of toleration from the King might be frustrated by Hyde's sturdy Protestantism. Monk was jealous of his influence, and his jealousies were fostered by his wife, who was under the dominion of the Presbyterian clergy. No pains were spared to stir up suspicion against him. "By stories artificially related both to the General and his Lady," writes Lord Mordaunt to him on May 4th, 1660, "your enemies have possessed them both with a very ill opinion of you, which has showed itself by several bitter expressions very lately uttered at St. James's." The Duke of Buckingham, [Footnote: George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, was born only a few months before his father's assassination, in 1628, and, from his affection to the Minister whom he had lost, Charles had his son brought up with his own family. Curiously enough, William Aylesbury, brother-in-law of Hyde, was at one time the tutor of the young Duke. Buckingham took part in the war as a very young man, and was one of the leaders in the second Civil War, in 1648. His property had before this been confiscated, but he had secured favourable terms by an arrangement with the Parliament. This time it was again confiscated, and he narrowly escaped death by flight to the Continent. He was a prominent member of the exiled Court; but his open irreligion, his flighty character, and his continual plotting as an adherent of Prince Rupert, alienated him from the party of Hyde. His wit and personal charms won for him many friends, but his life was one perpetual succession of reckless schemes and bitter quarrels, in which his Royal master was often involved. He fought at Worcester, but his arrogance prompted him to demand the generalship of the army, and he resented the King's refusal by boyish sulkiness. In 1658, he again returned to England, and married the daughter of Fairfax; but this was in defiance of Cromwell, from whose vengeance he was probably saved only by the Protector's death. He was restored to his vast possessions after the King's return, and then began that long and restless career of varied intrigue, which won for him, in later days, the character of Zimri, in Dryden's Satire, and during the next few years made him the embittered foe of Clarendon.] ever a zealot in any design of mischief, was doing all he could, wrote Mr. Brodrick, to spread evil tales of him, and to inspire the Royalists with the opinion that Hyde's influence would destroy their hopes. Hyde himself was ready to remain in exile rather than that his return should prejudice the cause of the King. But the very malice of his enemies overshot the mark. He had friends who knew his worth, and Ormonde and Southampton were staunchly loyal to him. It is to the credit of the King that he spoke in no uncertain tone.

"It is not to be wondered at," he wrote to Sir Arthur Apsley on April 29th, "that at the same time that I have so many enemies, those that are faithful to me should have some; and it is from some of those who are not much my friends, that the report comes that the Chancellor should have lost my favour. The truth of it is, I look upon the spreaders of that lie as more my enemies than his, for he will always be found an honest man, and I should deserve the name of a very unjust master if I should reward him so ill, that hath served me so faithfully."

Hyde's strict constitutionalism was dreaded by those whose ideal of a Restoration Government was one which would lavishly reward its adherents without concerning itself with observance of the law. It was his fidelity at once to the King and to the Constitution that inspired the opposition to his return. Friends and enemies alike recognized that if he returned with the King, his must be the guiding hand in the administration, as his had been the chief task in setting the policy of the exiled Court.

Hyde accompanied Charles on his return to England. The King embarked at Scheveningen, on May 24th. On the 26th, as we have already seen, he landed at Dover amidst the thunder of cannon, and that day took coach to Canterbury. The great cathedral had suffered sorely from sacrilegious hands, but there gathered within its walls a goodly company of the notables of the kingdom to join their King in a Service of Thanksgiving. Upon General Monk, the Marquis of Hertford, the Earl of Southampton, and Admiral Montague, [Footnote: Montague was created Earl of Sandwich next month.] he conferred the honour of the Garter; and amidst the acclamations of his people, he proceeded next day to Rochester. On the 29th, his birthday, he entered London, "all the ways from Dover thither being so full of people, and acclamations, as if the whole kingdom had been gathered." At Greenwich he was met by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen "with all such protestations of joy as can hardly be imagined." All the city companies lined the road from London Bridge to Temple Bar, "giving loud thanks to God for his majesty's presence."

At Whitehall "the two Houses of Parliament cast themselves at his feet with all vows of affection to the world's end." Well might the King exclaim, as he saw the fervency of welcome, "It had been his own fault he had been absent so long; for he saw nobody that did not protest he had ever wished for his return." Hyde saw a dramatic accompaniment of this happy consummation of a long and doubtful struggle, in the death, within three months, of the chief Ministers of France and Spain—Cardinal Mazarin and Don Lewis de Haro—whose schemes of policy it seemed to ruin, and who saw in it the failure of their machinations.

In the beginning of June, Hyde took his place as Speaker of the House of Lords, and presided in the Court of Chancery. To the business of that Court a great part of his labours were now to be devoted; but while he studiously avoided the name of First Minister, he exercised, in addition to his judicial functions, far more of the authority of supreme Minister than fell to the lot of any officer of the Crown for some generations after his day. For a few years he seemed to enjoy the unbounded confidence of the King; but that confidence he had earned by no subserviency, and in spite of marked lack of sympathy. For the first time in our history a man of no high birth or commanding station, to whom the personal favour of his sovereign had so far brought nothing but hardship and exile, found himself indisputably marked out, by a long course of services devotedly given, for what was virtually the position of First Minister of the Crown. His judgment and his experience of men taught him how exposed such a position was to every blast of envy. It was partly owing to his consciousness of rectitude, partly to a certain unbending rigidity of character, that Hyde neglected the caution that might have enabled him to shelter himself against these blasts. With all his experience of Courts, Hyde never learned the arts of a courtier. He was naively unconscious how little the steadfast honesty of his purpose could render his blunt plainness of diction palatable to a master, the chief feature of whose character was callous selfishness, and whose self-love might for the moment allow him to overlook, but never permitted him to forget, the liberty that presumed to curb his caprices or to criticize his conduct.

But for the time the relations between Charles and his Minister were cordial enough; [Footnote: These relations, in their intimacy and apparent freedom from restraint, are perhaps best reflected in what are known as the "Council notes," preserved in the Bodleian, and consisting of scraps of memoranda passing between Charles and his Chancellor. Most of them are, no doubt, mere notes passed across the table during a discussion in the Council, and abound in those hieroglyphics on the margin, which sufferers from tedious colloquies are impelled to make, and which perhaps indicate the frequent boredom of the King. But others are evidently messages transmitted from Whitehall to the Chancellor. In all alike there is a singular lack of formality, or even of orderliness, and they might have passed between business colleagues, who were on terms of close intimacy and easy familiarity. Clarendon's tone is almost uniformly brusque and off-hand, and he must have tried the King's patience terribly by the infamous illegibility of his handwriting. Charles's writing is a schoolboy scrawl, but it is uniformly legible.] and amongst his colleagues Hyde could count some who were his warmest and most trusted friends. They formed an inner circle, with common sympathies at once in their memories and in their aims, and unassailed as yet by the coarse profligacy, the vulgar buffoonery, and the ignoble selfishness that were soon to become dominant in Charles's Court. Such were Ormonde, now Lord Steward, whose loyalty was as untarnished as his position was above the assaults of slander and envy, and whose unbroken friendship was a powerful buttress to Hyde, and warded off the slights to which his own more humble birth might have subjected him. Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, represented the very best type of courtier of an older generation, and his acceptance of the post of Lord High Treasurer gave security that the full tide of corruption, which bid fair to spread its taint over the Court, should find some check so far as the financial administration was concerned. In even closer relation to Hyde's official sphere was Sir Edward Nicholas, the Principal Secretary of State, between whom and Hyde there was the sacred tie of common service and common veneration for the late King. Nicholas was no brilliant statesman, and had no ambitious schemes to serve. But amongst those who played an active, albeit unselfish, part in the varied field of administrative work from the days of Strafford downwards, there was none more industrious, none more loyal, and none less selfish than he. It was all to his credit that he was unlikely to consort on easy terms with the motley crew that now thronged the Court.

Hyde saw, without any displeasure, the Earl of Manchester [Footnote: Edward Montague, second Earl of Manchester, who succeeded to the title on the death of his father, in 1642, very early joined the Puritan, and afterwards the Presbyterian party. He was one of the leading Parliamentary generals until the Self-Denying Ordinance deprived him of command. He was a man much beloved, and with marvellous suavity of manner. But to this there was not added any marked ability, or any firmness of will. He had long ceased to be in sympathy with the leaders of the Commonwealth, and rendered powerful assistance in the Restoration. "By his extraordinary civilities and behaviour to all men, he did not only appear the fittest person the King could have chosen for that office (Lord Chamberlain) in that time, but rendered himself so acceptable to all degrees of men, that none, but such who were implacable towards all who had ever disserved the King, were sorry to see him so promoted. He was mortally hated and persecuted by Cromwell, even for his life, and had done many acts of merit towards the King; so he was of all men, who had ever borne arms against the King, both in the gentleness and justice of his nature, in the sweetness and evenness of his conversation, and in his real principles for monarchy, the most worthy to be received into trust and confidence"— Clarendon, Life, i. 368. Manchester was hardly the stuff out of which effective revolutionists are made.] created Lord Chamberlain, although he was the avowed patron of the Presbyterian party; and Manchester's easy courtesy and recognized probity were no unwelcome ingredients in the Court. But there were others within the official pale, not reckoning the newer courtiers who were destined soon to push their way to power, who were less congenial partners for Hyde and his friends. Monk had earned an unquestionable right to lavish reward, and the King bestowed it with no grudging hand. But Monk's ambition aimed rather at wealth and position than at administrative power; and as Duke of Albemarle, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—an office of which the duties were left to others— as Commander-in-Chief, and as Gentleman of the Bedchamber, Monk found himself with titular rank, and with financial gains, which were more in accordance with the tastes of himself and his wife than would have been the burden and responsibility of laborious State business. Between the Duke and the Chancellor there could never be close sympathy, and, for a time, slanderous tongues came near to making active mischief. [Footnote: We find a certain Thomas Dowde writing to Hyde on May 4, 1660, to tell him how Edward Progers had been questioned by Mrs. Monk about Hyde, who had been represented to her as "proud, insolent, contemning all counsel but his own, disposing of all monies for his pleasure, and the delicacies of a riotous table." The authority given is that of "a person of the French interest," whom we may perhaps identify as Jermyn (Bodleian MSS.).] But as they knew one another better they learned mutual toleration at least, if not respect. Others were still more distasteful to Hyde. Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, [Footnote: Afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury.] destined to play a leading part at a later day, as leader of dangerous factions both for and against the Crown, and to figure in Dryden's Satire as Achitophel, was scarcely likely, with his spirit of restless intrigue and of daring cynicism, to prove a congenial colleague, even had he not been prominent as a member of the clique which lost no opportunity for undermining the influence of the older statesmen. He was now made Chancellor of the Exchequer, with some hope that "his slippery humour might be held in check by Southampton, whose niece he had lately married."

In the Comptroller, Lord Berkeley, [Footnote: John Berkley or Berkeley, belonged to the house of the Berkeleys of Bruton, and was employed as ambassador in Sweden, in 1636, after which embassy he was knighted. He fought in the Royalist army, and at the close of the war, attempted to carry out some unsuccessful negotiations between the army and the King. He accompanied Charles in the escape from Hampton Court, and must share with Ashburnham the folly or treachery which betrayed the King into the hands of Hammond, and made him a prisoner at Carisbrooke. Afterwards he went abroad, and managed to gain the post of Governor to the Duke of York, by whose influence he was created Lord Berkeley of Stratton, in 1658. After the Restoration, he contrived to secure lucrative posts. His mansion was on the site now marked by Berkeley Square. The names of the streets in that neighbourhood sufficiently indicate the localities inhabited by the aristocracy of the Restoration.

He was uncle to Sir Charles Berkeley, afterwards Lord Palmouth, the favourite of the Duke of York, whose foul slanders against the Duchess have earned for him a lasting infamy.] Hyde found one for whom he had a profound contempt, and of whose vile kinsman, Sir Charles Berkeley, he was soon to have very odious experience. Hyde writes of the elder Berkeley, "If he loved any one it was those whom he had known a very little while, and who had purchased his affection at the price of much application, and very much flattery; and if he had any friends, they were likewise those who had known him very little." [Footnote: Clarendon State Papers, vol. iii. Supp. p. lxxx.]

In the earlier part of the reign the business of Government was chiefly transacted by a committee, nominally for the consideration of Foreign Affairs, but really bearing a fairly close analogy to the more modern Cabinet Council. The King and the Duke of York were constantly present at its meetings, and the other members were the Chancellor, Ormonde, Southampton, the Duke of Albemarle, and the Secretaries of State, Nicholas and Morrice. Its deliberations extended far beyond the sphere of foreign affairs, and really comprised every branch of the executive, as well as consideration of the policy which was to be followed in Parliamentary affairs. Hyde was unquestionably the dominant power in that Council, and however much a careful observer might have detected the signs of coming dissension, his influence was as yet unimpaired. It rested upon his well- tried loyalty, his unrivalled administrative capacity, and his thorough command of detail; and while it was cemented by the cordial friendship of some of his colleagues, it was smoothed, for the present at least, by an absence of marked friction with any.

We must, however, guard ourselves against a misconception which has imposed itself upon many in forming their estimate of Hyde's new position. It would be utterly wrong to fancy that he entered upon these heavy responsibilities with any sense of triumph or elation, and inspired by any pride of power. This would have been singularly out of harmony with his character and disposition. Though he was ready to assume the burden of administration from a sense of duty, we shall look in vain, throughout all the critical epochs of his life, for any grasping after the prizes of ambition. No letter and no utterance of Hyde's can be adduced in which he put forward a claim for advancement or bargained for any office for himself. The political arena had strong attractions for him, and his principles, or, if we please to call them so, his prejudices, were definite and keen. He was willing to spend his strength in the effort to realize these, and success in that effort brought him rich satisfaction. But he was too proud to make them aids in his own personal advancement. Greatness was thrust upon him; and if disaster chafed him, it was not because of the loss of personal advantages, but because the spirit of the combatant felt defeat to be irksome, and because it involved a suspicion of disgrace. The cause for which he fought was always more to him than his own fortunes; and to plead on his behalf the excuse of natural elation at his triumphal return to power is a singular ineptitude. [Footnote: Strangely enough, this plea is advanced with little sense of proportion by that most luke-warm of all biographers, Mr. Lister. Hyde's fame owes little to such misplaced apologies.]

Apart from Hyde's own history, and from the character which stands out so clearly at once from his actions and his own record, such a conception is unsupported by the actual facts of the case. Severe as had been the hardships of his exile, tangled as had been the mazes through which he had to steer his course, and baffling as had been his difficulties, we may well doubt if Hyde did not, in the years that now follow, look back with regret on the days when he had to fight against heavy odds with an ever- growing confidence in his ultimate success. Against overwhelming forces, his pen had successfully maintained the righteousness of the cause of his late and of his present master, and had, by its undisputed superiority, earned the fear and hatred of his triumphant foes. He had done much to compose restless animosities in the exiled Court, and had introduced something like order into its tangled economy. He had handled with marvellous dexterity the selfish intrigues of foreign Courts, which he could approach only as the powerless agent of a discredited and bankrupt exile. From first to last he had insisted that the Restoration should not be brought about at the expense of conditions to any foreign Power. He had imparted much of his own undying confidence to his English correspondents, and had kept alive the flame of loyalty under untoward circumstances. He had compromised the cause by no dangerous engagement, and had maintained, with unswerving rectitude, his own convictions of constitutional principle. He had been sustained by the sure confidence that, in poverty and exile, quite as much as when in the possession of ample power, he was making history, and was shaping the foundations of a restored monarchy.

But the hour of apparent triumph brought with it none of the solaces of the long struggle. No one appreciated more fully the splendid chances that were offered to the restored King; no one discerned more plainly how blindly these chances were thrown away. Nor had he long to wait to realize the depth of his disappointment. The blaze of triumph which surrounded the Restoration; the universal joy with which the King was welcomed; the strength of the tide of loyalty that swept over the nation—all these were visible enough. But Hyde was under no delusionment as to the canker that was soon to wither all his hopes. He draws no flattering picture of the work in which his own part was so large. He recognizes that there "must have been some unheard-of defect of understanding in those who were trusted by the King with the administration of his affairs." [Footnote: Life, i. 315.] His disappointment is too great to permit him to waste words in any attempt to dissociate himself from the failure.

Hyde saw clearly enough the danger that lurked in the very suddenness with which the nation allowed itself to be swept away by the tide of loyalty. It did not blind him to the wide diversity of opinion which prevailed, and which made the royal authority so much smaller in fact than "the general noise and acclamation, the bells, and the bonfires, proclaimed it to be." A sedulous cultivation of his own dignity on the part of the King, a respect for public opinion, the most unwearied attention to public business, might indeed have allowed the seeds of loyalty to grow into a strong plant. But the King had need not only of character and industry on his own part, but of a high standard of public spirit and of duty in those who were to be his Ministers. It is hard to say in which of the two the failure was most complete. No one had better opportunity of measuring its extent than Hyde; and it is in this that the tragedy of these few years of gradually increasing disappointment consists. He saw how "all might have been kneaded into a firm and constant obedience and resignation to the King's authority, and to a lasting establishment of monarchic power, in all the just extents which the King could expect, or men of any public or honest affections could wish or submit to." [Footnote: Life, i. 321.]

It is in these last words that we have the keynote of Hyde's deliberate policy. He never lost what had been his guiding principle from his first entry into the world of politics—a balance between Crown and Parliament, and the maintenance of a constitutional monarchy. It is true that Hyde assigned to the Crown a far more preponderating weight in the balance than later constitutional theories admitted. Parliament, according to his theory, was to be kept in a sort of tutelage, and the limits of its power were to be strictly observed. But he felt that the Crown and the Parliament were essential complements, one of the other; and he had no wish to go back to the days when Parliament might be suspended, or the Crown relieved from its dependence on the grants of the nation's representatives. No underlying prerogative was to impose itself as ultimately supreme. King and Parliament were alike to be subject to the law; and the law courts were to be independent of dictation either from one or the other. The last generation had seen each party alike attempting to trample under foot that supremacy of the law; and Hyde hoped that each had learned the lesson of their error. What he did not recognize was, that new guarantees were necessary before the limitations of constitutional monarchy were fully established. He had yet to learn how much the lessons of adversity had been wasted on Charles II., and how mere shiftiness and lack of principle might betray the Crown into errors even more fatal than those of Strafford and of Charles I. These last had striven after an ideal which was inacceptable to the English people, and they failed in the struggle. Charles II, with incomparably better chances, threw these chances away in mere wantonness, and he brought upon the Crown not defeat only, but what was much worse, contempt. It was the very result from which Hyde most recoiled.

Hyde had not had long to wait for experience of one sort of difficulty which he and his master had to meet. Charles had reached Canterbury about three hours after he landed at Dover; and there he had been met by a host of prospective recipients of royal favours. Some of them were too powerful to brook denial; and first amongst these stood General Monk.

The crowd of those who saw their own merits in an exaggerating mirror, and whose shamelessness in urging their claims was often in inverse proportion to their merits, roused only the contemptuous cynicism of the King. But Monk was a claimant of another type; and it startled the King when Monk placed in his hands a list of some seventy names as proper recipients for the dignity of Privy Councillors, Some of these names were of such unquestionable weight that application on their behalf was so unnecessary as to be ridiculous. It did not need Monk's advocacy to recommend Southampton and Ormonde and Hertford for any honour which the Crown could bestow. But with their names were found those of men whose advancement would have provoked a storm of opposition, and whose reputation for loyalty rested upon the flimsiest basis. Charles thrust the paper in his pocket, and dismissed Monk with the most flattering commendation of his own merits. In his perplexity he turned to Hyde, and desired him to expostulate with the General, and his dependant, Mr. Morrice. Hyde had never before met either Monk or Morrice, and his first interview promised to be a disagreeable one-preceded, as it was, by suspicions which had been sedulously impressed upon Monk by Hyde's ill-wishers. He addressed himself first to Morrice, whose character he soon learned to respect, as that of an honest and capable man, although something too much of the scholar and recluse, and with some lack of experience in action. To his surprise, he found the difficulty less than he expected. The General, said Morrice, had no thoughts of his recommendations being accepted wholesale. He had been compelled to promise his favour, and had included many names only to redeem that promise. But the King was not to understand that all these names were meant for his acceptance. The difficulty was solved for the time. But it had taught Hyde how slippery was the ground on which he stood, and how fatal it would be to interpret, as sincere, suggestions which were only formally made, and which might breed anger rather than gratitude if accepted to the letter.

Incidents like this—one only amongst many—soon disillusioned Hyde. The great hopes which he had formed from estimating the splendid chances opened by the Restoration, were grievously dispelled. He learned how selfish and how flimsy was much of the noisy loyalty. He soon learned, also, to take a just estimate of the character of the King. During the time of exile he had formed a high opinion of Charles's abilities, and had frequent cause to appreciate his tact and abundant fund of humour and of common-sense. What he had not fully observed was the extent to which the canker of cynicism had undermined the King's character, and how low was his judgment of his fellow-men. He now discovered this, and found how little he could depend upon him for that careful attention to business, and that sense of responsibility, which, amidst all his errors, had never been lacking in Charles I. It was a splendid opportunity. The Church had recovered its power, and, it might be hoped, had learned wisdom from adversity. The reign of that fanaticism which Hyde detested had passed away. The Crown was restored, and its dignity and solid influence might be increased and not diminished, by the recognition of the constitutional limits on the power of the monarch. Parliament was again strong, and it had learned enough to know that a straining of its powers to a tyranny was distasteful to the people, and in reality, a danger to those very powers. Law, which Hyde regarded as the keystone of the arch, was, he might fondly fancy, fixed on a surer foundation. The sound principles which, as he had once hoped, had been attained in the early days of the Long Parliament, were again in sight. Parliamentary government had been vindicated, and yet the dignity and influence of the Crown were safe. As trusted Minister of the Crown, it might be his task to buttress securely the elaborate and delicate mechanism of a free and constitutional monarchy, resting upon the aid of Parliament, but secured in all amplitude of loyalty and reverence. A few years—nay, rather a few months—served to show him how far the reality was to fall short of his ideal.

How did matters really stand between Charles and his people? Weariness, full as much as loyalty, was the operative cause of the mood that brought about the Restoration. Only a few weeks before, the gaunt and serried ridges of national conflict stood out as threatening as ever. The grim rocks of Episcopalianism and Presbytery, of Independence and Anabaptism, of divine right and republicanism, stood opposed to one another. Suddenly, almost like a dream, the wave of a new and over-mastering impulse had risen and submerged them all. For the moment it was strong and deep enough to overpower all other currents. On its smooth surface, Charles had floated back to the throne. But the favouring wave had only covered for a time—it had not swept away—the rocks underneath. These were soon to be once more exposed.

Charles had accepted the tribute of adulation with the smooth smile, the superficial good-nature, the half-contemptuous courtesy, and the inherent insincerity, of the cynic. His ruling passion was the innate selfishness of the libertine. For constitutional principles, or even for any settled ideas of government, he knew and cared nothing. If he had any ideal of kingly power, it was framed according to the model of the French Court, and was shaped to suit the gratification of his own tastes, and the satisfaction of his appetites. The constitution was best neither as it extended the limits of his own power, nor as it met the aspirations of his people, but as it ensured the security of a sensual Court, and did not interfere with his own love of ease. To this all thought of kingly prerogative or of parliamentary influence, all care for the privileges of the Church or of toleration, were alike subservient. The Minister who desired to govern according to settled principles, and who based his confidence on Charles, was building on the veriest quicksand. And yet of all Ministers, Hyde was the one in whom temperament, tradition, taste and sad experience, had most implanted the belief in rigid adherence to principle. The ill-effect of such a conjunction could not be long postponed.



With that genial self-complacency, which sits so well on him, Hyde records that he took his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Chancellor (but not a peer) "with a general acceptation and respect." He found on the benches round him those who had been his associates in the days before his exile, or their sons. The old peers, or their successors, excluded from Parliament so long, now took their places without any formal resolution, and as a matter of routine; so easily had things slid back into their old position. In the other House, there was a preponderance of "sober and prudent men," after Hyde's own heart. Those who had but lately been declared to be "malignants and delinquents" now gloried in the name; and the ordinances which had, at the very summoning of the Convention, excluded them, were now treated with contemptuous neglect.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse