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which the king received from France, was applied to the fame profligate purpose of domeftic corruption.
To retrench the parliamentary influence of the court, a bill was twice read in the commons, to prevent any member of the house from accepting of any poft or penfion, during that feffion of parliament. They extended their views beyond a temporary reformation, and turned their thoughts towards the most effectual means for fecuring the independence, and preferving the integrity, of fucceeding parliaments. In order to prevent the court from conferring the privilege of voting on the very eve of an election, upon perfons devoted to its interett, and often brought from a distance, to counteract the natural and the pure influence of conftituents, the period of one year's refidence in the county or burgh in which they voted, and two hundred pounds clear of all incombrances, were propofed to constitute a qualification for a vote. Heavy penalties were enacted against corruption, and the magiftrates and officers who fhould connive at it. The bill concluded with declaring, that no future parliament fhould, either by prorogation, adjournment, or any other method, be continued above the space of two years. That the commons might totally exclude the crown from every hope of fupply by any expedient, without their confent and autho rity, a bill was brought in and committed, to fecure the fubje& from the illegal exaction of money. Thefe laudable efforts for improving the conftitution were fruftrated by a misunderstanding which happened between the two houles, in various points relative to the trial of lord Danby. A bill for fecuring the liberty of the fubject, known by the name of the habeas corpus, met with better fuccefs, and will for ever diftinguish this parliament, by the grateful remembrance of pofterity.'
Of Dr. Somerville's talents for political difquifition, this work affords many favourable fpecimens. Among thefe, is an entire chapter on the caufes of the change in the temper of the nation during the reign of Charles II. from loyalty to dif affection. The caufes on which he distinctly and ably infifts, are, the oppreffive government which prevailed in Scotland; an unbounded licentioufnefs both in converfation and writing, which propagated fufpicions, and fomented jealoufies; the extreme dependence of the crown; its narrow influence, ftill farther diminished by the inftability of the king and the difunion of his minifters; the fupport which oppofition derived from the patronage of many perfons of the first rank and influence, particularly the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Duke of Monmouth, and Lord Ruffel; and laftly, the intrigues of France, by which Charles fuffered himfelf to be fo fhamefully feduced, as to excite a general indignation among the people in England. Thefe feveral topics are ably illuftrated and fupported. We must fatisfy ourselves with quoting the concluding reflections on this period of hiftory, which more particularly refpect the conduct of oppofition; and to this paffage is added a curious note, con
taining an interefting vindication of thofe great and immortal names, Sydney and Ruffel. The paffage is as follows:-the note we are obliged to omit:
Several measures were purfued by oppofition in the three 1aft parliaments of Charles, the motives of which appear doubtful, and fome of them carry the plainest symptoms of a factious and turbulent fpirit.
The fanguinary violence with which fucceeding parliaments profecuted the difcovery of the plot, their partiality to the evidence of the most infamous witneffes, the artifices by which they propagated fufpicions against the innocent, and exaggerated the fears of a credulous multitude, have unfortunately enabled the enemies of the proteftant religion to charge it with acts of cruelty but little inferior to thofe atrocious deeds which ftain the hiftory of the papal inquifition.
The affociation bill, by which the members of both houses became bound to avenge the king's death, if that event fhould happen, upon the adherents to the Roman catholic religion, was a palpable act of injuftice, inasmuch as it affumed for certain an event which was contingent, and laid the foundation of arbitrary and of illfounded crimination. Under the mafk of loyalty, it provoked danger from a new quarter; it proclaimed impunity to the proteftant affaffin, and fuggefted to the bloody enthufiaft a fafe method, for the fatiating of his vengeance against that fect, which he hated and wished to extirpate.
If the commons had omitted to declare the right of the fubject to petition the throne, after that right had been difcouraged by the frowns and prohibited by the proclamation of the king, they might have been accufed of a breach of trust with respect to the most important interefts of their conftituents. If not fatisfied with afcertaining this right, they had confined their inquiries and their cenfures merely to their own members who had voted against the petitions, they might have appeared to unprejudiced fpectators to have kept within the tract of a legal and temperate jurifdiction. But when they denounced vengeance against perfons who had not been guilty of any breach of privilege, when they fent their meffengers into remote parts of the country to apprehend perfons of a private ftation, who, by fair argument, and by an open and avowed declaration of their principles, had oppofed the late petitions, they trefpaffed upon the laws of moderation and of decency, and afforded their enemies too folid ground for retorting the reproach of that arbitrary fpirit which they afcribed to the court.
The refolutions of the commons, formed in oppofition to the judgment given by the lords, with regard to the right of bishops to vote in cafes of life and death, has been cenfured as an intrufion upon the jurifdiction of another court. If, however, any great national object had been at ftake, the importance of the end, and the purity of the motive, might have palliated the error of a new and an overstrained exertion of power; but when we trace this measure to the affociated refentment of France, and of the country party,
bent upon the destruction of a fallen minifter, how mean and difgraceful does their conduct appear!
The zeal of the commons to refcue Fitzharris from a profecution, already commenced against him in the courts of law, is not only liable to the fame cenfure, as being a prefumptuous interference with the established conftitutional forms of juftice, but also tending to frengthen the fufpicion of their having formed a defign of employing him as the tool of corruption, beft adapted to disturb the tranquillity of government.
If the conduct of the country party in the reign of Charles the fecond had appeared in every view unexceptionable, or even meritorious in the eye of an unprejudiced fpectator, who lived at that period, and formed his opinion from fuch circumstances as fell under his own immediate obfervation, yet the most candid in our own time, who have had an opportunity of attending to the additional information, and the evidence fairly collected from records which have been lately infpected, cannot fail to fubmit, however reluctantly, to this conclufion, that bafe and mercenary motives fwayed the conduct of many who flood in oppofition to the court, and were enrolled in the lift of patriots. Candour may difpofe us to fufpend our decifion with refpect to the guilt of individuals; nor is it confiftent with its dictates, to blot, with the pen of a profligate ambaffador, the names of illuftrious perfons, who were never even fufpected of a base or an unworthy action. But ftill, neither the fact itself, nor the conclufion drawn from it, can be evaded. The money of France was profufely diftributed among the members of the country party, and deep corruption must have fomewhere exifted, among those who derived affiftance from fuch base and such criminal means
After tracing back to its caufe the fact of the gradual decline of oppofition, toward the clofe of the reign of Charles II. notwithstanding the flagrant inftances in which the power of the crown was ftretched beyond the limits of law, Dr. Somerville clofes this reign with the following judicious obfervations:
It is not to be denied, that nature had furnished the mind of this prince with a more than common fhare of genius and tafte. Affability, fprightlinefs, wit, and good breeding, conveyed an amiable view of his character to thofe who farrendered judg. ment to the fudden and tranfient impreffions of converfation and external manners.
Tried by that fyftem, which afcribes tranfcendent merit to the graces, few royal characters appear more deferving of applause and admiration few will ftand lower in the decision of thofe, who hold moral accomplishments to be the most effential ornaments of character, and the only genuine bafis of esteem and praife.
Without any fenfe of religious principle, ungrateful to his own friends, and the friends of his father; timid and fluctuating in his
* See more on this very intercfling fubject, Review, vol. xlix. R. 1-10.
counfels; deftitute of all pretenfions to patriotifm; ever ready to facrifice the intereft and glory of his country to the gratification. of his pleafures, and the fupply of his wants; what remains to claim the approbation, or restrain the fevereft reproach, of impartial posterity ?
The fatisfaction which Charles enjoyed in the later period of his reign, on account of his triumph over the whig party, must have been greatly diminished, by the perfonal mortifications he incurred, from the infolence and the treachery of France. How painful mut it have been, to difcover that Lewis had been intriguing with thofe very persons in England, whom he had confidered as enemies to his Own government, and to the intereft of France? Nay, fo little refpect did Lewis fhow, either to the honour or the domeftic tranquillity of Charles, that he was acceffory to a defign of expofing him to the contempt of his fubjects, and of all Europe, by a publication of the fecret treaties by which Charles, to his difgrace, had connected himself with the court of France. The encroachments which the French king made upon Flanders, were a mockery of the engagements into which he had entered with Charles by the laft money treaty. His invafion of the principality of Orange, was an infult to the royal family of England. A circumftance which, we may believe, made a deeper impreffion upon the mind of Charles, was the withholding the penfion promifed to him, for remaining an indifferent spectator of fuch outrageous ufurpation, at a time when he was reduced to the utmost distress, on account of his contracted and embarraffed revenue. Thus, like the unhappy female, who has fallen a prey to the fnares of the licentious feducer, robbed of her innocence, and cheated of the reward of her proftitution, configned to infamy and to poverty, Charles, if any fpark of fenfibility remained, must have been torn with all thofe pangs of remorfe and of fhame, which refult from the consciousness of the bafeft iniquity and most egregious folly. No wonder, if, as attested by cotemporary hiftorians, he became penfive and melancholy, and entertained ferious thoughts of changing the plan of his government. The arrangements he had made in the feveral corporations by the quo warranto profecutions, and a confiderable reinforcement added to his army by the garrifon recalled from Tangiers, would probably encourage him to hope, that if he called another parliament, he would find it more obfequious to his defires.'
Of the fhort and difgraceful reign of James II. the author gives a brief but masterly sketch. He fhews by what means it came to pass, that James's acceffion to the throne, (an event which, a few years before, had been anticipated with horror,) at laft took place without oppofition. He gives a fhocking, but not exaggerated, defcription, of the oppreffions and cruelties of this reign; marks the fudden change of political fentiments which then took place; and exhibits an inftructive picture ⚫ of a prince invefted with extenfive prerogative, and flattered with the moft ardent expreffions of attachment, through the baneful influence of obftinate and infatuated bigotry, abdicating
his throne almoft without a ftruggle, and compelled to linger out the remainder of his days in exile and difgrace.'
At this period of the hiftory, Dr. S. introduces an inquiry whether the Prince of Orange was acceflary to the Duke of Monmouth's invafion. Of this he ftands accufed by D'Avaux, the French refident in Holland, by King James, and by Father Orleans; and the accufation has been renewed and vehemently urged by Mr. McPherson.
D'Avaux minutely defcribes the affiduous attentions shewn to the Duke of Monmouth during his refidence in Holland; and afferts that, on the news of the death of Charles II. the Prince was fhut up in clofe confultation with the Duke at midnight; that after his departure he correfponded with Bentinck, the Prince's greatest confident; that he afterward returned to Amfterdam, where he lived incognito, and made preparations for his expedition to England; and that the Prince favoured the efcape of his veffels, though requested to ftop them by James's ambaffador, and in other refpects neglected to counteract the projects of the Duke's affociates. The fame hiftorian also mentions letters of the Prince of Orange, found by the King of England, which discovered the intelligence that he held with the Duke of Monmouth, and the contract made between them. King James afcribed the invasion by the Duke to the affistance of his fon-in-law; affigning, as the reafon, that he was defirous of playing off the two perfons who ftood between him and the throne againft one another; and he fupported this conjecture by the fact, that Bentinck was vifibly alarmed when he found that James would admit the Duke into his presence, and was never at eafe till his head was cut off. Father Orleans takes pains to remove an objection which might be made to the opinion, that the Prince of Orange favoured the expedition, from the Prince's conduct in fending Bentinck to offer the troops of Holland and his own perfonal fervice to James. This, the Father alleges, was occafioned by the imprudence of the Duke, who offended William by affuming the title of king.
To all this Dr. S. replies, that the civilities related by D'Avaux happened before the death of Charles II. and therefore cannot fairly be imputed to any immediate view on the throne of England. From the intimacy that fubfifted between the Duke of Monmouth and the Prince of Orange, it might naturally be expected that they would converfe on business of fuch importance as the death of Charles. The ftory of the letters bears no marks of authenticity, and is only hearsay evidence; and they are not mentioned by James. The conduct
* See an account of his Negociations, Rev. vols. x. and xiii. of