Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 33, 1661-1664. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1932.
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Bibl. S. Marco,
The Shade of the King of England.
The new king of England plunged in sweet and pleasing ardours and soothing the wound in his amorous heart, was taking his ease in a pleasant garden, on the bank of a river, with the present hope of the near arrival of the beloved consort, so ardently awaited; and he exclaimed: O winds, how idle you are not to assist with a slight effort of your breath the progress of that new Argosy which is bringing the golden fleece, and which is to enrich me with joy and take away all my pain. How tardy you are, O sails not to spread yourselves for a rapid course over the waters. Fly O you ships, and if you lack prosperous breezes, let my ardent sighs serve to waft you along.
Thus did the royal lover deliver himself while the ships, sympathising as it were with his grief, were drawing near with the Portuguese beauties to the port. But as he was facing the alley way a deep gulf opened before him, so that he was obliged to suspend his march and there arose a dark cloud of foetid soot, all bound around with rusty chains, and within seated upon a fearsome throne, illuminated solely by live and visible flames there appeared to him a bust, holding a head removed from the trunk, from whose eyes and nostrils flames darted while in place of a tongue there issued a most agile flame which sometimes forked into two and sometimes into three.
The horror and terror of the new king may be imagined. Supposing himself to be face to face with the horrors of Hell, after recovering from his first amazement he meant to beat a hurried retreat, but he was summoned by name. You fly! But however much you try you can never escape from me who am your father. You ought to know this head well. God has changed my diadem into a crown of serpents, merely because I would not turn to the crown of thorns which Christ wore. So now, crowning me with serpents He has changed me into a veritable Gorgon. In my breast I wear a heart of stone because I showed a heart of stone against the true and holy rule of the Catholic faith. I am in Hell because I not only loved my father, but respected his laws, and so I was abominated by Heaven as an enemy, and at last, for having followed the Anglican rule I am now among the dead condemned like a dog to wear chains for ever. I curse my father, as by following in his traces in the worldly life I have ended by being cast into Hell.
Now that I speak you may know who I am, but the cloud that I bring with me from the Stygian marshes veils it from your eyes and disturbs your senses preventing you from recognising me. You know me at least by name. I am Charles, but not that Charles who bears the honoured name of “Great” for having overcome his enemies, but a Charles who was unjustly subdued by his own subjects as their deadly enemy. I am that Charles who by following the Anglican Church wilfully injured himself, and therefore Christ permitted that he should find all his vassalage changed by his death, because he would not follow the arms of a transformed Charles. I am Charles but not that Charles who lived as the first king of France, and was subsequently elected as emperor, and after a career of victories, rivalling those of Cæsar and Alexander, finally terminated his glories upon earth and began those of Heaven. But I am Charles the First of the House of Stuart, whose renown was the curses of his people and who ended on the scaffold and there began his everlasting death.
But all this is little for me seeing that it is all past, but I am fearful for your present. Take care lest you show to the whole world the paragon of your father. The Egyptians crowned their king with a diadem surrounded with stones, and a man invited to the rich table of another forgot the taste of the food, from the manifest peril of a sharp sword which he saw hanging over his head. Take heed that you are in a country so ready for change, as practised between the Lower and the Upper Chamber; the opposition which they are accustomed to encourage against the kings. The Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists and other heretics, opponents of the Protestant Church, are all reasons which cannot produce any but evil results against your person. A kingdom inured to the licence of a disordered republic, to the arbitrament of an unbridled conscience, and accustomed to threaten, through domestic injustice, not only the rule but the very life of their own kings, cannot be made the subject of experiment without the worst consequences against the life of their ruler, who is ordinarily detested; and although it seems that the citizens of London at the parliament are proceeding in harmony with you, I know that the rebelliously minded and other conspirators find material for malignant occasions even in compositions that are entirely good. The subjects are seditious, the aristocrats of the realms who in the splendour of the purple of their king found the shadow of death. The bad subject is a spider who from the flower of the good government of his king gathers only poison, while a good one receives therefrom the honey of sweet satisfaction.
As a mirror of this proposition I have been betrayed first by parliament, upon the inconstancy of which you have now built your hopes; then by the perfidious Hammon, governor of the fortress of the isle of Ritte, (fn. 1) and condemned to an unjust death by judges as impious as they were ignorant; my name tarnished as a tyrant, a homicidal rebel and the enemy of my people at a time when with excessive loving kindness I had treated my subjects as sons. Although you are most justly king, yet every Englishman will be, for your hurt, a new Farfax, a modern Hiortun (fn. 2) and another Cromuel. England has served the world for nothing else than to be the tragic theatre, in which the death of its wretched and unfaithful rulers is always being represented. Know also that the rebel English have learned how to arrive at the crown more by way of conspiracy and battle against their rulers than by legitimate succession. The examples are numerous and in particular that of the two sons of Edward IV. and Elizabeth his queen, betrayed by the ambition of their perfidious and tyrannical uncle, the duke of Chirestre, (fn. 3) and after that the loss of the crown and the fight to the earl of Vitmound, (fn. 4) and hence the factions of the white and red roses the one rendered more pallid and the other tinged a deeper hue by the blood of their partisans.
While the hope of a long reign buoys up your content, I believe that no country is so ready for change, and neither kindness nor severity, neither love nor fear can secure you upon the royal throne. Your one need is skill in policy, but in this, it seems to me, you are not sufficiently well grounded. The first and most notable error that I find in you has been the betrothal to the Infanta of Portugal, for this reason, besides uniting yourself with the daughter of a king whose right is contested, so that you are forced to declare yourself the protector of another's crown at a time when your own needs protection, but you have also stirred against you the arms of Spain, to whom you are in addition, under a strict obligation to restore Dunkirk, according to your promise. I should commend your decision not to restore Dunkirk if you were able to call yourself the king of a stable kingdom, one where you could be sure that neither you nor your son would encounter the misfortunes of your father, or where you would not have to go again on your wanderings and begging alms; in which case, through having rendered Spain hostile, and consequently France you have no hope left of any other asylum or of any other assistance worth naming, such as might be rendered if your flanks were guarded, or suitable succour, to return again after some secure retreat, because Spain would no longer cherish the serpent which has given poison to herself and strength to her rebels, and France will rejoice at the second fall of a king and at the revolutions of a country which advances claims to dominion over herself.
Then again, if the power of Spain succeeds in reducing Portugal, you in your need and as a king of conspicuous power, will find yourself the son in law, not of a king but of a subject, punished as a rebel, and the consort, not of an independent queen but as the fugitive vassal of a crown hostile to yourself. And in truth Spain has no slight reason for being hostile, as after she has caused a mendicant Hiro to become a returned and triumphant Ulysses, you ought not to conspire against her, joining yourself with the blood of Braganza, and you ought not to have perjured yourself to her over the promise about Dunkirk, the restitution of which was well deserved, both for the keeping of your word, and because she had practically set you upon the throne of England again. I know that your failure in this respect has been due to the prohibition of parliament, and this is an argument that you have not yet firmly established yourself in the control of the English, so that you are standing on the top of the wheel and not on the seat of the throne. This is also an argument that, like the other wretched kings, your ancestors, you are dependent on the authority of parliament, and further that parliament, caring nothing about you keeping your word, will readily refuse you its regard, and thinking no shame to see you perjured, will be even less concerned to see you decadent and extinct, or at least a wanderer again, just as Sweden has beheld her Christina a wanderer in Rome, where, after having impoverished Rome she proceeded to France, where she persuaded men to butchery (fn. 5) and God grants that if a rival falls stabbed, others, besides the person stabbed either perish by violence, or go about begging for their lives. But if Sweden suffers Christina to beg because it does not love her, so England sees you perjured because it does not esteem you, indeed with the loss of the royal reputation by the breach of your promise it may be said that not even your life will be preferred to any caprice, since you have not chosen to place your honour before your wishes. I need not insist that your wife is not really as yet the daughter of a king seeing that the pope has not chosen to receive the ambassador and has not even cared to supply the churches themselves with prelates. But the excuse is that this is due to reasons of state, which oblige the popes to obey Philip, because the forces of Naples are so near, which might easily attack them.
But since you have fallen into this mischance, take heed to conduct yourself with the greatest prudence which you can conceive devoting all your will to the determination to set up an army for the defence of the despotic government. It is also a part of your business to take care to treat the soldiers well. You know that in the intricacies of the civil wars Caesar found the way to victory thanks to the love of his soldiers. In this way you also may triumph and not be triumphed over by your rebels and enemies.
Put an end to the trials of the perfidious regicides and of the authors, of the late revolution and punish their misdeeds severely, avenging your father who was beheaded though innocent, as well as others of his most faithful barons, whose souls are still crying out for revenge, as also to give a memorable example to your subjects who may still be thinking of treating you as they treated me.
As to your manner of governing, let the most admirable king of Poland (fn. 6) serve as your model, who with courageous prudence has known how to show himself a rock against the floods and against the tempest; so that it may be said that he knows how to rule in despite of his enemies, and he also knows, with his secret, to put down the rebels as well as how to reward the loyal. It is not long since he appeared like a Jove against the rebel Cossacks who like new Typhoeus supported themselves upon the mountains of the forces of the Tartars. He destroyed the opposition of the Muscovite war and opposed the Swedish invasion with the catapults of his own skin. In short he has shown himself a worthy pupil of the Jesuits, since he has inherited at once the valour and the active policy of Ignatius. We only regret that from them also he has learned how to cause women to become sterile, so that upon the disappearance of his line Conde is building his ambition in the air, and this is the reason for the fears of the Polish troops, who are reasonably apprehensive about foreign kings, ruling obstinately. But in this Casimir does not deserve to be excused, seeing that he knew that God does not fertilise the union of cognates, though in other respects he deserves both excuse and pity because to learn the method of governing from the Jesuits and to form schools worthy of sovereign understanding he was compelled to learn their customs. Nature inclines to evil and habits are difficult to change.