Page images

clarations issued in the name of the King; and it was to avoid a recommittal to the Tower, that he now repaired to the court at York, where he openly entered into his Majesty's service.

The promotion of Colepepper to the Mastership of the Rolls left vacant the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. This was given to Hyde, who was at the same time knighted, and sworn of the Privy Council. He remained with his Majesty till March, 1644.

Being a gentleman of the robe, however, we hear little of him till the Treaty of Uxbridge in that year, at which he was one of the Royal Commissioners. Here he showed himself a strenuous assertor of the King's right to the militia, and vindicated his council from the imputed mismanagement of the Irish affairs.

The treaty being broken off, Sir Edward Hyde's office, for some time, was to attend the Prince of Wales in the west. After the battle of Naseby, Charles resolved to place his eldest son out of the reach of parliament by sending him abroad. The Queen had previously withdrawn herself to France, and was particularly anxious to have her son under her immediate control. The King weakly yielded to her entreaties. But the Prince's council, Capel and Hopton with Hyde and Colepepper, saw but too clearly the fatal consequences of such a measure. The Queen, they knew, was universally odious, from a suspicion that she had instilled into her children the principles of Popery; and little reliance could be placed upon the tortuous policy of the French court, under the direction of the subtile Mazarin. Though they procured, however,

[ocr errors]


a discretionary power to convey the Prince to Denmark or any other country, the intrigues of Henrietta were finally successful. Upon the decline of the royal cause, Hyde embarked with his charge for the Scilly Isles, and thence proceeded with him to Jersey. There the royal youth was immediately assailed by the commands of his mother to repair to Paris; and after a little hesitation, even then accessible to the invitations of a voluptuous capital, the future Charles II. at the age of fifteen left his more respectable guardians, attended only by Lord Colepepper, who had been won over to the views of the Queen. Hyde himself remained in the island two years and a half, and occupied his leisure in composing a considerable part of his History of the Rebellion.' In the castle, which he occupied, he built a suite of apartments for his own use, inscribing over the entrance, Benè qui latuit, benè vixit; and though placed at a distance from his wife, children, and friends, he assures us he ever afterward recalled with delight that interval of peaceful tranquillity. At this time, likewise, he wrote a 'Seasonable Answer to a Declaration of the Parliament.' After a vain experiment upon the loyalty of the Scots and the army, Charles in his attempt to escape from his own dominions had been taken prisoner, and confined in the Isle of Wight. As he had rejected the propositions, however, made by the parliament, it was decreed, that no more addresses should be sent to him:' and a declaration was annexed, in which the Commons charged him with being the exclusive cause of all the public calamities. This drew from his Chancellor of the Exchequer a vigorous reply, to the high satisfaction of the King, who expressed himself greatly surprised

at the profound skill in theology evinced by it's author.

In May, 1648, he received a letter from the Queen, requiring him, in obedience to his Majesty's commands, to give his personal attendance at Paris on a certain day. But before the letter reached his hand, the time was expired; and, on his arrival with Lord Cottington at Rouen, he found the Prince had set off for Flanders. At Dunkirk he learned, that he was on board a fleet commanded by Prince Rupert, which had sailed for the Thames. They, at length, joined him at the Hague. Here he observed, within the precincts of an impoverished and contracted court, uncontrolled by indigence and unsoftened by adversity, every species of intrigue and malignity. Notwithstanding even the consternation occasioned by the news of the King's death, within a few weeks personal feuds and animosities broke out afresh with increased virulence. "I find," exclaims Hyde on the occasion," that no desolation upon the public, no lowness of the court, will lessen our particular ambitions or private designs." Amidst a society so corrupted, Hyde could not long prove an acceptable inmate. From his attachment to the Church of England and to moderate measures, his counsels were frequently opposed to those of the Queen; and her adherents, in consequence, pursued him with peculiar The court of France, with illiberal precaution, had provided for the youthful Prince merely by increasing the allowance of his mother, in order that she might retain him wholly in her power: and this influence she injudiciously sought to confirm by a degree of parsimony in her bounty, which not unnaturally produced a totally opposite effect. All this,


however, she perversely ascribed to the hostile influence of Hyde.

The United States becoming daily more friendly to the parliamentary government in England, the removal of Charles II. from their territories was now rendered indispensable. To pass into France, an object for the calumnies of an irritated and implacable woman, and the insults of her mean dependents, was to Hyde a gloomy alternative. He willingly therefore co-operated with Lord Cottington, in November 1649, in procuring themselves to be sent Joint Embassadors to the Spanish Court, to solicit suceours. Received however at Madrid with coldness and disrespect, and after much importunity admitted to a formal audience and amused with general professions of friendship, it was not till the arrival of Prince Rupert and a royal fleet on the Spanish coast, that they could detect any indications of kindness or cordiality. With Rupert, whom the appearance of a superior fleet displaced, these indications vanished. The accounts, that the Scots had declared for Charles, and placed him at the head of a powerful army,' renewed the smile on the faithless cheek of Spain: subsequent accounts of the irretrievable defeat of the Prince recalled, not again to be removed, the politie frown. They now, though the season was unfavourable for travelling, about the end of January 1641, received a peremptory order to quit that capricious realm. To this inhospitality the Spanish Monarch was additionally impelled by the consideration, that he could not introduce into his palace the pictures and rich furniture, which his Envoy in London had purchased at the sale of the late King's property, before the very eyes of his son's representa


tives without the grossest indecorum. Lord Cottington however, at the age of seventy-six, having formerly spent much time in Spain and embraced the Catholic doctrines, was permitted to rest from his wanderings in the privacy of Valladolid. Hyde returned to Paris, where he found the little English court dissatisfied and disunited. Charles gave him an account of his rash enterprises in Great Britain, which the Chancellor had strenuously dissuaded, and of his own taking of the Covenant, the price of Scottish assistance, which he denounced as impious. "But it is now to no purpose," he adds, "to talk more of that sad argument, which can be justified by no human reason, let the success be what it will: we must only rely upon God Almighty, who will in the end bring light out of this darkness; and I am confident they who shall, in spite of all evil examples, continue honest and steady to their good principles, what distresses soever they may for a time suffer, will in the end find happiness even in this world, and that all your infamous compliers will be exposed to the infamy they deserve."

The royal followers were almost equally divided between the Presbyterian and the Popish faction; and, of course, as a steadfast friend to the moderation and orthodoxy of the English Church, Hyde was equally disliked by both. It was even reported, that he had been in England, and entered into an intrigue with Cromwell! Harassed by incessant calumnies, often tormented by the gout, and oppressed by the unremitting claims of business, often did he look back with regret to the studious seclusion of Jersey. "I am persuaded," he says, "if I might be quiet and left to my books, I should outlive this storm;

« PreviousContinue »