Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 5, 1676-1679. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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The present instalment of Calendar carries the history of Danby's administration to the period of its abrupt and dramatic close. As in the case of the preceding volume, the materials are drawn entirely from the MSS. of the Duke of Leeds, and, as in the case of that preceding volume also, this material, in itself alone, contains nothing which should herald so sensational a close to the Lord Treasurer's career. It is, in itself alone, simply the record of an upright, assiduous and clear-headed administrator who had to face the incessantly worrying task of paying the way for the whole machinery of the State out of a gradually dwindling and generally inadequate revenue. As far as these records are concerned, the increasing financial stringency and harassment evince themselves only in routine ways, in departmental economies, in fresh resort to loans, in a rising rate of interest from 6 to 8 and finally to 10 per cent., in special arrangements for payment of the Forces and the Household, and in growing arrears and postponements of payments for other less important departments of government. In all this there is nothing new or for poor Charlesabnormal, and these merely financial difficulties alone would never have shaken Danby's power. But behind the financial impasse, behind the cold commonplace prose of pounds, shillings and pence, behind the dull routine of the Treasury record of these closing years of Danby's treasurership there looms the lurid cloud of political intrigue at home and of political intrigue directed from France, and it was one forked blaze from that lurid cloud that struck down not merely Danby but also the power of Charles and the might of England herself. From the days of the Popish Plot to the Revolution of 1688 England remained a cipher in the European world. This cloud of political intrigue was rendered possible, was both directly and indirectly caused by, the financial distress of Charles's Government. By cheaply and ignorantly assuming that Charles was responsible for his own distress, historians from his day to our own have made him also responsible for that political intrigue, and have accordingly hailed the Revolution of 1688 as the rehabilitation of England and the salvation of Europe (which is true and just), and laid upon Charles's shoulders the blame for the preceding period of impotence (which is untrue and unjust). And so Charles has been buried not with bonfires but with the execration and abuse of so-called historians, and the real criminal has gone scot-free. If there is one verdict of history which cries aloud for reconsideration and reversal it is this Whig view of Charles's reign.
In accordance with the plan consistently followed in these Introductions, I give here, in the first place, the tables of income and expenditure and the departmental accounts for the period covered by the present instalment of Calendar. Without such tabular statements all historical reasoning as to the period is contemptible puerility. By the aid of them its dark places are illumined and thereout emerges, as will be seen from the concluding pages of this Introduction, a conception, clear, coherent, scientifically cold and true, of the real character of the reign.
|Table IV.Table Of The Yield Of The Customs And Excise.|
|Table V.Table Of Expenditure.|
|Easter, 1676 to Michaelmas, 1676.||Michaelmas, 1676 to Easter, 1677.||Easter, 1677 to Michaelmas, 1677.||Michaelmas, 1677 to Easter, 1678.||Easter, 1678 to Michaelmas, 1678.|
|Cofferer of the Household||38,906||10||3||50,031||17||1||56,691||9||2||123,415||14||2||40,942||3||2|
|Master of the Robes||2,000||0||0||450||0||0||5,000||0||0||1,750||0||0|
|Treasurer of the Chamber||18,318||4||2||16,548||6||10||23,985||0||0||15,759||7||6||15,775||18||9|
|Stables and Master of the Horse||6,600||0||0||5,600||0||0||4,400||0||0||3,000||0||0||4,752||19||3|
|Building at Windsor Castle||1,000||0||0||5,313||18||0||250||14||1||2,125||7||0|
|Navy and Victualling||128,895||6||2||206,827||16||2||309,700||0||0||284,438||7||0||374,096||12||5|
|Lieutenant of the Tower||768||0||0||1,573||15||4|
|Jewel Office (Vyner)||3,877||5||6||4,708||8||1||7,703||0||3||3,970||0||0|
|King's Jewels (Legouch)||5,040||0||0||3,096||19||2||3,165||0||0||3,910||0||0|
|Diet of the Lord Privy Seal||364||0||0||364||0||0||562||0||0||898||0||0||388||0||0|
|Mint and Coinage||6,000||0||0||7,000||0||0||4,000||0||0||3,775||0||0||9,041||6||3|
|Army (Guards and Garrisons)||208,544||13||10||113,696||11||10||143,807||8||3||195,856||10||8||424,685||14||1|
|Royal bounty, etc.||6,583||10||8||4,621||1||9||2,737||14||6||2,888||3||4||7,783||17||1|
|Extraordinaries of divers natures||34,989||18||7||30,890||18||4||6,273||15||6||147,184||18||4 (fn. 1)||10,345||17||10|
|Liveries of the Exchequer||1,357||15||4||939||10||9||1,562||7||7||249||11||2||1,533||6||3|
|Defalcations (sea coal)||200||0||0||200||0||0|
|Tents and pavilions||2,000||0||0||1,000||0||0||1,000||0||0|
|Pensions and annuities||5,529||10||10||5,247||4||2||7,085||5||10||6,514||15||0||10,006||13||4|
|Messengers [of the Chamber]||640||14||0||644||4||0||218||7||4||497||16||0||385||11||4|
|Loan money repaid and interest||31,449||0||6||35,939||19||6||14,800||16||8||70,355||4||0||258,954||18||5|
|Fees and salaries (the ordinary Civil Service)||28,048||16||3||36,077||10||6||36,291||1||11||41,505||15||7||48,706||9||7|
|Assignations on the various branches of the revenue||45,823||16||4||191,737||6||10||179,783||15||3||96,746||6||2||68,500||16||5|
In order to present the Navy Accounts in the simplest possible form, I have omitted from the above abstract the items of remains and supers which are carried forward from account to account. The above abstracts simply give the actual receipts and what is styled the charge of maintaining the Navy. But for the three years' accounts here given it happens to be of importance to state the supers as they steadily increased and serve to balance the Navy Treasurer's expenditure and the receipts. It is perhaps necessary to premise that the Treasurer of the Navy had perforce to entrust various sums of money to subsidiary paymasters, who were obliged to account for them separately as imprests. These subsidiary imprests are detailed in the end of the Navy Treasurer's accounts, and are to him in the nature of credits. The item of remains depending on the accomptant means the net debit balance for which the Navy Treasurer is accomptable at the end of each accompt. The bulk of it was represented by paper orders of assignment on the Excise and Customs, etc., paper i.e. which had not matured at the date to which the account is made up. In the following brief statement of remains and supers it will be noticed that in the three years the supers rise steadily from 737,477l. 10s. 10d. to 1,054,255l. 18s. 1d., which means that (irrespective of those items of supers which are accounted for in each account and so liquidated) the Navy Treasurer had issued in cash over 316,000l. to these subsidiary accomptants. This is of course additional to the expenditure on the maintenance of the Navy, for which he personally accompts as above.
The succeeding year's account was never declared.
The succeeding year and a half's accounts were never declared.
It will be seen at a glance from the above tables that the temporary outburst of commercial prosperity which had tided Danby and Charles over the years 1674 and 1675 was short-lived. The two great sources of revenue, the Customs and Excise, did not again touch the highwater mark of the year 1675, and as a consequence for the succeeding years of his administration Danby was left to finance Charles's Government on a hereditary income, which for the three years 1676, 1677 and 1678 averaged 1,195,815l. per an., or just below the 1,200,000l. which the Parliament at the Restoration had judged sufficient for the complete or ordinary administrative government of England. (As will be shewn immediately, any fresh Parliamentary supply which was voted during the years covered by the present instalment of calender was strictly allocated or appropriated and could not be, and in actual fact was not, applied by Charles to make up any deficit in his hereditary revenue, on which alone the solvency of the administration depended.)
At first sight, therefore, it might be thought that the problem to Danby was not so difficult as that which Treasurer Southampton before him had had to face. For during Southampton's treasurership the hereditary revenue had not averaged 900,000l. per an., whereas under Danby it came near the minimum modicum of 1,200,000l. per an. On three conditions it may be granted that it would have been possible for Danby to keep Charles fairly solvent and to finance the complete ordinary administration of the country without leaving any great deficit or difficulty to his successors.
Those conditions were : (1) that there should be no debt ; (2) that the ordinary expenditure of the country should not have increased beyond the modicum fixed by Parliament in 1660, or if it had so increased that it should be resolutely cut down to it again ; (3) that the country was kept completely free from the complications of foreign war or any abnormal or extraordinary expenditure. And if it was not so kept free, that then such adequate special provision should be made by Parliament for any complication of war or for such extraordinary expenditure.
To take each of these conditions in turn.
(1) The question of debt. So far from starting clear of debt, Danby was heavily overweighted by it. On the bankers' debt he was paying a yearly interest of over 77,000l. a year. In addition, other debts not included in the stop of Exchequer were funded and charged by perpetual assignment on the Excise in the manner of the bankers' annuities (see this subject brought together in the Index under the head of "Bankers"). The interest on this extra item of funded debt came to over 4,000l. a year. Further, each department had its own running debt, and finally there were the advances on the farms of Excise, Hearthmoney, Law Duties and Wine Licences, all which advances were debt. Roughly speaking, the funded and unfunded debt ran to between two and three millions.
(2). The squaring of the expenditure by the revenue. Owing to the fact that the Exchequer accounts were only made up half-yearly, we should expect that Danby would not be made instantly aware of any great falling off of revenue and that any step he might take to check expenditure in consequence would be delayed for a period of anything up to six months. It is immensely to his credit that his vigilance detected it at the very outset. The decline in the revenue began at the close of 1675, and continued through the succeeding years. But before the Exchequer returns of Easter, 1676 could have given him the full intimation of the total decline, he took his steps with drastic decision. On the 28th of January, 1675-6 an order in Council was made cutting down the normal expenditure to 1,175,315l. 1s. 6d. per an. The whole of this scheme is printed infra, pp. 116-8. In order to obtain the required retrenchment, it was necessary to cut in half the existing pensions as well as to strictly limit to a specific sum the departmental expenditure. This order was to remain in force until 1677, March 31, and during this period (which is spoken of throughout as the period of suspension) it will be found that the Treasurer's warrants for payments of annuities and pensions take the form of "being for a moiety of such and such a quarter," and so on.
The great difficulty in rigidly carrying out any such retrenchment scheme arose from Charles's own easy good nature. Whilst Danby was keeping jealous guard at the Treasury the courtiers who wanted their pensions paid up in full or accomptants who could not get the allowances they desired found an easy way of turning the Lord Treasurer's flank by approaching Charles in his closet. Halifax, in his 'Character of Charles II.,' refers to this weakness of the King with an unnecessary excess of pompous antithesis and analysis, but his assertion is first-hand evidence, if such were needed :
"It was not the best use he made of his Backstairs to admit men to bribe him against himself, to procure a defalcation, help a lame accountant to get off, or side with the Farmers against the improvement of the revenue. The King was made the instrument to defraud the Crown, which is somewhat extraordinary.
That which might tempt him to it probably was, his finding that those about him so often took money upon those occasions ; so that he thought he might do well at least to be a partner. He did not take the money to hoard it ; there were those at Court who watched those times, as the Spaniards do for the coming in of the Plate Fleet. The beggars of both sexes helped to empty his cabinet, and to leave room in them for a new lading upon the next occasion. These negotiators played double with him too, when it was for their purpose so to do. He knew it, and went on still ; so [long as] he gained his present end at the time, he was less solicitous to enquire into the consequence.
He could not properly be said to be either covetous or liberal ; his desire to get was not with an intention to be rich ; and his spending was rather an easiness in letting money go, than any premeditated thought for the distribution of it. He would do as much to throw off the burden of a present importunity, as he would to relieve a want.
When once the aversion to bear uneasiness taketh place in a man's mind, it doth so check all the passions, that they are dampt into a kind of indifference ; they grow faint and languishing, and come to be subordinate to that fundamental maxim, of not purchasing anything at the price of a difficulty. This made that he had as little eagerness to oblige, as he had to hurt men ; the motive of his giving bounties was rather to make men less uneasy to him, than more easy to themselves ; and yet no ill-nature all this while. He would slide from an asking face, and could guess very well. It was throwing a man off from his shoulders, that leaned upon them with his whole weight ; so that the party was not gladder to receive, than he was to give. It was a kind of implied bargain ; though men seldom kept it, being so apt to forget the advantage they had received, that they would presume the King would as little remember the good he had done them, so as to make it an argument against their next request."
Accordingly there will be found in the present volume numerous warrants and orders during the period of suspension for the payment of this or that person in full instead of only in moiety, as the suspension scheme contemplated. The whole of this subject is brought together in the Index under the head "Revenue (scheme, exceptions)."
In a similar way, in the matter of departmental expenditure it was an easy thing to draw up a paper scheme, but a more difficult one to enforce it.
If the tables of expenditure in the present volume, supra, pp. xvi-xxxiv, and in the preceding volume, IV, Introduction, pp. xxiii-xxxv, be closely scrutinised, it will be seen that during the suspension period the departmental expenditure was not held unflinchingly to the scheme. In the year ending 1677, Easter the Privy Purse expenditure, although cut down, still exceeded the 36,000l. by 2,700l. odd. The Navy exceeded the 300,000l. modicum by nearly 36,000l., the Ordnance exceeded the 40,000l. modicum by the enormous sum of nearly 53,000l., the Army (Guards and Garrisons) exceeded the 212,000l. modicum (which was the regular establishment) by over 120,000l. ; the ambassadorial service exceeded the 40,000l. modicum by over 33,000l. ; the Cofferer of the Household and the Treasurer of the Chamber exceeded their joint modicum of 77,200l. by about 46,000l., and so on, and so on.
In all this there is nothing novel, nothing unusual. The machinery of state tends inevitably to grow with the expansion of the state, and it was as impossible for Danby to cut at the expenditure with a sword as it is for a modern Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he had resolutely reduced expenditure to income, Danby would have been obliged to disband the Guards and lay up a third of the fleet, and to recall more than a third of the ambassadors from the European Courts, as well as to dismiss Household officers and turn pensioners adrift. And had he done this, the only result would have been instant loss of national prestige.
In reality, the vice of the whole system of English executive government before the Revolution of 1688 was constitutional.
The theory still was that the King should live of his own. And having fixed the King's "own" at the outset of his reign at 1,200,000l. a year, Parliament practically took no further thought for the executive. Out of "his own" the King had to provide for the whole executive administration of the country, civil, military, domestic, foreign and purely state or kingly expense. If "his own" (the sources of revenue allocated to yield it) produced the estimated sum, happy King. If it did not, so much the worse for him.
For the first twelve years of Charles's reign "his own" did not produce anything like the stipulated 1,200,000l. a year, and the consequence was the stop of the Exchequer for which Charles has unjustly borne the blame and been belaboured with the cheap and empty rhetoric of historians for two centuries. And if the chances had fallen on the other side, if the King's "own" had produced more than the stipulated 1,200,000l. a year the system was still as irresponsible. For the Parliament would have taken no heed of that either. The King would have been free to spend the excess in riotous living or in pursuing a national patriotic foreign policy or in any other way he chose. For two short years of his reign a transient gleamCharles enjoyed such bliss. "His own" exceeded 1,400,000l. a year. What did he do ? Under Danby's influence he devoted it to the extinguishment of departmental debt. In other words, he did in fair weather what he did in foulhe kept the executive machinery of the country running, true to his country, though his Commons knew it or believed it not. When that transient gleam was over Danby's task had become a difficult one, simply because the machinery of Government was bigger and more expensive in 1678 than it was in 1660. It had grown of itself, and even if it should not have so grown of itself the course of events on the Continent, the growing power of France under Louis XIV., would have forced it to grow. In 1661 Charles's ambassadorial service had cost him not quite 12,000l. During the Nimuegen treaty period it cost him over 73,000l. a year. In 1661 his Navy had cost him a little over 172,000l. In 1676 the peace establishment alone (exclusive of all extraordinary constructions) had risen to over 300,000l. In 1660 he did not possess Tangier. From the moment he possessed it, Charles spent at the least 60,000l. a year on it. And so on through the whole list. On all this increase of expenditure there is no going backunless a nation is prepared to commit suicide. Like the stricken field, decisive expanse of expenditure is one of the landmarks of history. What, then, was Charles to do ? The machine which he was running in 1678, and for which he was responsible to his country, and to his country's future history, was a bigger, more complicated and more expensive machine than Parliament had provided for in 1660 when it fixed "his own." If the constitution had permitted it he could have approached his Parliament with a clear statement and have applied to it for an increase of "his own." But the constitution did not permit of it. The habit had grown of voting the Customs at the commencement of the reign, and the tacit implication had grown into a political maxim that with the grant of the Customs the King's revenue was fixed for the whole of the reign, and neither party to the bargain had any idea of periodically reviewing it and re-adjusting it to changing conditions.
Had Charles and the Parliament agreed to review the whole arrangement in the light of later development, and to make ample provision for the ordinary expenditure, Charles's dependence on Louis would have been instantly terminated. Once indeed, in the very year of the Popish Plot, Charles honestly and despairingly appealed to the Commons for such an agreement, but he hardly got a hearing. It was not merely that Louis had paid hirelings of his own in the House to ward off such a danger, but also that the whole constitutional theory of the time was as much against such a re-arrangement of the revenue as it had been in the days when James I tried for a similar bargain by the "Great Contract." As I have said and re-said with painful reiteration in these Introductions, between the executive (Charles) and the legislative (Parliament) there was a chasm. To-day that chasm is bridged by the Cabinet, but the Cabinet is a thing of eighteenthcentury growth. In the seventeenth century Charles's ministers might be a Cabinet, but they were his Cabinet, they were not Parliament's Cabinet. They might individually have seats in Parliament, but within its doors they were simply private members, and the House listened to them and reposed as much and no more (eventually even it reposed less) confidence in them than in any other private member. Thus no mechanism existed by which Charles could submit his accounts to Parliament. Even if the then accepted view as to his prerogative would have permitted it (and it certainly would not have permitted it) Charles could not have invited the co-operation of the Parliament in the work of the executive. Nor would Parliament have accepted the participation if offered. The ground it stood upon was that of criticism and protest, petition and remonstrance, and it would have been untrue to itself, would have stultified itself, if it had taken a share in the executive and thereby taken a share of the responsibility. Until the party system had been evolved, and the functions of criticism and protest had passed to his Majesty's Opposition, it was impossible for Parliament to enter into the domain of the executive. For it would thereby have deserted its own nature. The whole cruel problem of Charles's reign lies in this one fact. The distance between the executive and the legislative was lessening, the embryonic elements of the eighteenth-century Cabinet government and party system were beginning chaotically to evidence themselves, but neither side could force the development or anticipate the result. The gulf between them was not bridged, and as a result the executive on the one hand was starved and weakened and the Parliament on the other became the deluded tool of Louis XIV. And this at a time when the destinies of Europe trembled in the balance and when the power of England, if not torn by intestine strife, would have been decisive.
For the remainder of his term of Lord Treasurership, therefore, Danby was obliged to do what Charles himself was obliged to do for the rest of his reignviz. the best he could without any hope from Parliament.
Even now, after passing in review the total of the records of his financial administration, it is a puzzle to me to understand how Danby managed as well as he did. On an income of less than 1,200,000l. he had to meet an expenditurea peace or normal expenditurewhich was swollen much beyond that sum. In consequence of the traditional way in which the Exchequer accounts and the departmental accounts were kept it is, I think, a hopeless task to fix the actual peace expenditure in any particular year. The departmental accounts carry forward items of debts, remains and supers from one account to another in such a way, and the various departments made up their accounts to such differing terms or dates (some to Dec. 31, some to Sept. 29, some to Easter, and so on), that it is impossible to extricate the actual expenditure for any single year. And similarly the Exchequer accounts or declarations make no distinction, in the totals, as between ordinary and extraordinary expenditure. So that, for instance, when Parliament voted supply for building thirty ships of war, although all the Treasury and Exchequer forms of warrants strictly and legally conformed to the appropriation clauses in the Act, the half-yearly declaration gives the total simply of money issued to the Treasurer of the Navy, thus confusing this extraordinary expenditure with the ordinary peace expenditure of the Navy. In this way the Treasurer of the Navy is charged with about 730,000l. in 1676, over 500,000l. in 1677, and over 600,000l. in 1678. This means that part of the ordinary charge of the Navy which was not met in 1676 was met (as a debt) in 1677, and that in the years 1677 and 1678 the accounts are swollen by the inclusion of the issues for the extraordinary construction of the thirty ships under the special Act of Parliament.
But without being able to deduce the actual figures, the simple result and conclusion that the general departmental expenditure in 1678 greatly exceeded that in 1661 is simply self-evident and undeniable. On the head, therefore, of this second condition of solviability the verdict can only be that the condition was not answered, be the fault whose it may.
(3) As to the complications of extraordinary expenditure. The only Parliamentary grants which were made within the period of the present instalment of calendar were :
(1) The Act of 29 Car. II. c. 1 for raising 584,978l. 2s. 2d. for building thirty ships of war. As this sum was to be raised by a monthly assessment of 34,410l. 9s. 6d. for seventeen months (or five quarters and two months) from 1677, March 25, it is always referred to as the Seventeen Months' tax.
(2) The Act of 29 Car. II. c. 2 granting an additional Excise on ale, beer, etc., for three years.
(3) The Act of 29-30 Car. II. c. 1 granting a Poll tax for the purpose of a war against the French King.
(4) The Eighteen Months' tax of 30 Car. II. c. 1 for the supply of 619,388l. 11s. 9d. This Act was divided into two distinct portions. The first portion granted a six months' assessment, calculated to yield 206,462l. 17s. 3d., which was appropriated to the paying off and disbanding the Forces new raised since 1677, Sept. 29. The second portion granted a twelve months' assessment, calculated to yield 412,925l. 14s. 6d., which was appropriated to the Navy, the Prince of Orange's dowry, and so on.
(5) The Act of 30 Car. II. c. 2 for granting an additional duty on wines and vinegar for three years.
Nos. (2) and (5) in the above list are simply Acts renewing for a limited period of three years the expiring grants of additional Excise (granted by 22 and 23 Car. II. c. 5 for six years from 1671, June 24) and wine duty (granted by 22 Car. II. c. 3 for eight years from 1670, June 24) respectively. (In the case of the Wine Act, as the Poll Act had excluded French wines, they no longer appear in the duties enumerated in this renewing Act for the wine duties : and thereby the total yield was very considerably diminished. Otherwise there is no difference between the original Act and the renewal). These two Acts, therefore, instituted no fresh source of supply and made no difference in the present volume of Calendar to Charles's financial position as compared, for instance, with the years covered in the preceding volume.
To turn, therefore, to the other items just enumerated.
No. 1. The Seventeen Months' tax. This grant was by clause xxxv. of the Act, strictly appropriated to the building and rigging of the thirty ships of war which were to be completed within two years from 1677, June 24, and to no other intent, use or purpose whatsoever ; and the Act further provided the special keeping of accounts and the use of special forms of Treasury warrant for payment of the moneys, which were to be paid only to the Treasurer of the Navy and the Paymaster of the Ordnance for this specific purpose, and to be by them expended for the same, and all this their warrants were to express.
No. 3. The Poll. This was granted for the use and service of a war against the French King, and by clause lviii. of the Act it was all appropriated to the use and service of such a war and to no other intent, use or service whatsoever. And the like regulations were made as in the Seventeen Months' tax relating to the form of warrants, etc.
No. 4. The Eighteen Months' tax. The first portion, the 206,462l. 17s. 3d. part of this tax, was granted for and appropriated to the paying off and disbanding of the Forcesx raised since 1677, Sept. 29. The said Forces were to be disbanded before 1678, July 30 if in England or the Channel Isles, and before 1678, Aug. 26 if in the Spanish Netherlands. There were again the same regulations as to the form of the warrants and separate accounts, etc. The second portion, the 412,925l. 14s. 6d. part of the Act, was granted to meet the (40,000l.) marriage portion of the Princess of Orange, the 200,000l. debt on the additional Excise Bill of 29 Car. II. c. 2 (for the repayment of which the Commons stood by the terms of that Act engaged to the King), and for raising or securing the repayment of further loans to a sum of 200,000l. Of these composite items we are, in the present instalment of Calendar, only concerned with the first, viz., the 206,462l. 17s. 3d. for the disbandment. And as this sum was merged in the accounts of the Poll it will be treated of in that connexion, see infra, p. lii.
It would appear therefore that, provided the executive faithfully observed the appropriation clause in these grants of supply, there would be available for the ordinary relief of Charles's general or ordinary financial straits only the 200,000l. loan in the Excise Act of 29 Car. II. c. 2 and the 200,000l. loan under the second part of the Eighteen Months' tax of 30 Car. II. c. 1. The first of these two sums was spent by Charles entirely on the Navy. It may be held (but this I cannot for the moment assert definitely) that by means of it he wiped out the deficit on the bill for the thirty new ships and went some way towards paying the bill for the repairs of the thirty-three old ships. The second of these sums does not fall within Danby's period of treasurership. He himself fell before it came in. As it will be seen that the executive actually did faithfully carry out all the provisions of appropriation, it follows therefore that the outside total of Parliamentary relief which Charles got during the concluding years of Danby's administration was 200,000l., and that this was not in reality any relief at all because it was appropriated and not applicable to his ordinary debt or ordinary expenditure. But, indeed, this is overstating the case. For (1) the yield of the taxes was not equal to the estimate of them ; (2) the provision which Parliament made for fees to collectors and receivers was too beggarly, and the Lord Treasurer will be found throughout this volume making special allowances (i.e. out of Charles's pocket, out of the King's "own") to receivers and collectors ; and (3) the uses to which the funds were appropriated proved to be of greater extent and to amount to a greater sum than the Parliament had provided.
Let us take each of these grants in turn and see.
Firstly.The Seventeen Months' tax for building the thirty ships. How did Charles carry out the Act? The Act passed on 16 April, 1677, and received the royal assent on the same day. There was no provision in the Act for the making of loans upon the credit of it, so that Charles could not set to work to carry it out instanter. The first payment was due to be made on 24 June, 1677 ; but this payment was to the various Receivers General, and they were allowed a further twenty days before paying the receipts into the Exchequer. As a matter of fact, no moneys from this tax actually came into the Exchequer until 15 June, 1677, when 1,073l. 4s. 0d. was paid in. In anticipation of this first payment Charles had, however, already taken steps to carry out the intention of the Act. On 16 July, 1677 two estimates, one from the Admiralty and the other from the Ordnance, were presented to the Privy Council for the building and arming of the thirty ships of war. These estimates were as follows :
|For the building, rigging and sea stores||557,104||0||0|
|For the ordnance||96,634||6||2|
Before going further, let it be noted as a further proof of the incurable vice of the governmental system of England at the time that this sum has no relation to the sum voted by the House of Commons. The Seventeen Months' tax granted by Parliament for building these thirty ships was fixed to yield at the outside the sum of 584,978l. 2s. 2d. It did not as a fact yield that amount. But take it for the moment at its full amount. It is nearly 70,000l. short of the estimate which was prepared for Charles by the two departments concerned, departments which surely were alone in the position of estimating authoritatively the cost. That is to say, the House of Commons in voting the supply had formed its own (amateur) estimated of the probable cost and had not had or thought of having beforehand advice on the matter from the two departments concerned, the Admiralty and the Ordnance. Without expert advice, without official departmental advice, it made its own estimate and then voted supply in accordance and then presented the supply to Charles as who should say, "There you are. With this money build thirty ships of such and such rates. On your peril don't spend a penny of the money on anything else." Charles did as who should bow and then turned to his Admiralty and Ordnance experts for their estimate, and straightway they estimated that the cost of such ships of the specified rates would be a matter of 70,000l. more than the vote. A modern House of Commons would have had this expert advice at its command in making the estimate first of all, and then secondly, if the estimate proved insufficient, it would have passed a supplementary vote based upon a similar official estimate. All this machinery was denied to Charles simply because it was not in existence. He had simply to take the money granted and do the best he could with it to make it cover what the Act of supply laid it down for him to do and without ever thinking of a supplementary vote device. If in this particular case he had been the selfish, unpatriotic King he is represented in the school history books, he would have restricted the expenditure on the thirty ships to the actual sum voted (or rather, received), knowing full well that anything more that he spent would have come out of his own pocket. But not happening to be the type of man he is represented in the school text books, he set about building the ships in accordance with the Act and in accordance with the skilled advice of his Admiralty and Ordnance experts. He deliberately authorised and incurred an expenditure in excess of the supply. According to the terms of the Act, the five quarters and two months of the tax were to be completely paid into the Exchequer by 16 Sept., 1678. (The successive quarters were to be paid to the Receivers General on 24 June, 29 Sept., 25 Dec., 1677, and 25 March, 24 June and 24 Aug., 1678, and the Receivers General had 20 days granted them for paying their receipts into the Exchequer.) But, as a matter of fact (see Table I, supra, p. xii) at Michaelmas, 1678, only the sum of 386,692l. 15s. 0d. had been paid into the Exchequer on account of this assessment. Without any hesitation, however, without waiting to see what the assessment would actually yield, Charles authorised the expenditure in accordance with his own officials' expert advice and estimate.
On 9 Aug., 1677 (see infra, pp. 714, 721), i.e. at a time when the receipts from the tax were only just beginning to dribble into the Exchequer, he signed two privy seals for the expenditure of 304,429l. 9s. 0d. on fifteen out of the thirty ships (being 186,000l. for the hulls, 51,135l. for rigging, 20,883l. for carpenters' stores, etc., and 46,411l. 9s. 0d. for ordnance). On 21 Nov. of the same year he signed a further privy seal for 145,355l. 17s. 10d. (see infra, pp. 791, 800) for five more of the ships. In the following March, 1677-8, he signed a privy seal for six more of the ships (see infra, pp. 942, 1450), and finally in March, 1678-9 he signed a final one for the four remaining ships, thus making up the total of thirty according to the Act (see infra, p. 1263). In the case of both these last two privy seals the totals given are only the Admiralty totals and omit the Ordnance items, the accompanying privy seals for these Ordnance items not being preserved in the Treasury records. The 93,000l. quoted infra, p. 1450, refers only to the hulls, rigging and sea stores, thus leaving out the ordnance ; and similarly that of 13 March, 1678-9 (infra, p. 1263) gives only the total (79,412l.) for hulls, rigging, and sea stores (thus omitting the item of ordnance). But we need not rest for a moment uncertain as to the total of the expenditure to which Charles committed himself the moment he signed the privy seals. Wherever the full text of the privy seal is preserved it follows faithfully the Admiralty estimate for each particular rate of ship as laid down in the preliminary Admiralty and Ordnance estimates of 6 July, 1677, which fixed the total construction at 653,738l. 6s. 2d. Allowing therefore the pro rata amount of 32,480l. for the ordnance of the last ten of the thirty ships, the total expenditure authorised by Charles on the thirty ships was 654,676l.
On this subject of the Parliament's estimates for the thirty ships, North (Examen, p. 467) says that when the Grand Committee of the Commons were making their enquiries into the rates, scantlings and charges of these ships, in order to adjust the sum to be raised, the faction busied themselves abroad among the artists so effectually that men were brought to declare their judgments and had credit in such manner that after the tax so regulated was given and brought in, the charge was above 100,000l. more to the King than the tax amounted to.
Against this, Pepys in his Memoirs of the Navy, pp. 16, 20, after speaking of the provision as ample, says that the Commissioners had swelled the charge of building to 670,000l., and adds, "therein exceeding not only the Navy officers' own estimates and their master shipwrights' demands, but even the charge which some of them appeared to have been actually built for by above 170,000l." The answer to such a statement from Pepys is given in the already detailed figures and proceedings.
We have therefore reached this point, viz. that before half the moneys of the supply had been paid in Charles authorised expenditure in excess (nearly 70,000l. excess) of the total possible amount of the supply, and thus took upon his own head the excess of expenditure without the slightest hope of ever getting a penny of it back out of his faithful Commons. Further, as his expenditure was so much in advance of his supply Charles incurred interest on the construction debt. Further, the supply in came more slowly than was decreed by Parliament, and did not reach the total intended to be granted. When this is said all is not said. For there was another serious question which the executive, Charles himself and Danby, the Privy Council and the departments, had faced, but which Parliament had not faced. What about repairs of old shipsbattered in the second Dutch war? It is abundantly clear from Danby's own instructions on pp. 606-7 of the present volume that the administration had in mind the effectual repair of a list of thirty-three ships as well as the building of thirty new ones. If the Parliamentary grant was intended to cover these repairs of thirty-three ships, then it only makes their unofficial estimate of the construction of the thirty new ships more ridiculously inadequate.
In all this there was nothing new to Charles. Though the precise figures could never have been put before him (they are even incomplete to-day), he knew generally perfectly well that all the special and appropriated grants of his Parliament had been inadequate and had been exceeded by the actual expenditure, and that he bore the excess upon his own shoulders as a debt. It had been so in the first Dutch war, and the House of commons had proved it by their own special commission of accounts. Having so proved it, the Parliament discreetly dropped the subject and left Charles's shoulders to bear the burden. It was so in the second Dutch war, but, again discreetly, the Parliament left the accounts of that war alone. It was so now again over the construction of the thirty ships. Parliament never called for an account of the construction. It was wise in its generation. And Whig historians have been wise ever sincein their ignorance.
Secondly :The Poll Bill.The Act passed on 20 March, 1677-8 and received the royal assent on the same day. It was intended and expected by the Commons to raise 1,000,000l. The money was to be paid by Aug. 10. No money from the Act itself came into the Exchequer until the Michaelmas half-year of 1678, but in the preceding Easter half-year small loans (15,950l.) were taken in on the credit of it, and in the Michaelmas quarter to a larger amount. By Sept. 29, 1678 (more than a month after the whole tax ought to have been paid in) the total supply received on it in the Exchequer reached only 466,666l., and of this sum only 213,766l. 8s. 11d. represented the actual receipts from the tax. The remaining 252,900l. represented loan money on the credit of the tax and so had ultimately to be repaid out of the later receipts from the tax.
Without waiting, however, to see what the actual receipts would be, Charles signed a privy seal on 5 March, 1677-8 for an imprest of 200,000l. for the Forces to be new raised, and another privy seal on the 25th of the same month for 400,000l. for the Army, 500,000l. for the Navy, and 200,000l. for the Ordnance, or in all 1,300,000l., all for the service of a war against the French King and in accordance with the terms of the Poll Act (see infra, pp. 926, 942-3), and on 27 March he similarly signed a privy seal for taking in 300,000l. in loans on the credit of the Act (ibid, p. 946). In signing these warrants Charles proceeded on a double assumption, viz., firstly, that the 300,000l. in loans could be immediately raised in cash and that the receipts from the Poll itself would be paid in in full and by the appointed, time, and, secondly, that as the Act for the Poll had authorised the taking in of 300,000l. in loan money at 7 per cent. interest on the credit of the Act, he could trust Parliament to guarantee the repayment of this loan money if the receipts from the tax should ultimately fall short. In other words, Charles treated the Poll Act as giving him, firstly, an absolutely sure and instantaneous fund of 1,000,000l. by tax, and, secondly, a contingently guaranteed fund of 300,000l. by loans. In order to understand how he could make such a mistake it is necessary to point out that in the ordinary way of things he needed no authorisation from Parliament for taking in loans on any such tax, or, indeed, on any of his revenue. He could do as he pleased with his revenue, once it had been granted. But if he took in a loan on it mero motu then he had to pay for it himself. That is to say, the interest came out of his own pocket. But if Parliament inserted a clause in a money bill authorising loans on the credit of the fund created, and fixing the rate of interest, it was equivalent to a declaration of public faith that the loans were guaranteed by Parliament. It was from that moment a debt of honour, resting not on the King but on the Parliament. We shall see later that in one such specific instance Parliament acknowledged and discharged such a debt of honour. But in the case of the Poll Bill, which we are now considering, it did not, and if Charles had actually spent the whole 1,300,000l. as he intended, or in other words, if his expenditure had not been arrested by the disbandment, the ultimate loss which he would have had to face out of his own pocket would have been over half a million. For the moment, therefore, the net result is that Charles authorised in March expenditure to the extent of 1,300,000l. at a moment when he had in hand no cash at all but only one fund of credit in sight, for an uncertain sum of tax money.
Upon the creation of these credits on the fund of the Poll Act the departments concerned set to work to carry out the intention of the Parliament. As the war if prosecuted would be mainly a land war, the department chiefly concerned was that which administered the Army. Strictly speaking, there was as yet no department for war. But for the moment I treat the Treasurer and Paymaster of the Forces (the ancestor of the later Secretary of State for War) in conjunction with the Privy Council, under whose instructions he acted, as furnishing the nucleus of a War Office Department. In order to explain what followed it is necessary to sketch the ordinary or peace organisation and establishment of the Forces and garrisons under Charles. The year preceding the grant of the Poll Act may be taken as a normal year in respect of this establishment. The establishment was divided into two main branches : (1) the Forces (called invidiously by writers and politicians the Standing Army), (2) the garrisons.
(1) The Forces comprised only the following items :
The King's own Troop of Guards, consisting of a captain, 4 lieutenants, 1 cornet, 1 quartermaster, 1 chaplain, 1 surgeon, 4 corporals, 1 kettle drum and 200 "gentlemen."
The Queen's Troop of Guards, consisting of a captain, 2 lieutenants, 1 cornet, 1 quartermaster, 1 chaplain, 1 surgeon, 4 corporals, 4 trumpets, 1 kettle drum, and 200 "gentlemen."
The Duke of York's Troop of Guards, composed like the Queen's Troop.
The King's Regiment of Horse Guards, composed of 1 colonel, 1 major, 1 surgeon with chest horse, 8 captains, 8 lieutenants, 8 cornets, 8 quartermasters, 1 kettle drum, 16 trumpets, and 400 troopers.
The King's Regiment of Foot Guards, composed of 24 companies, 1 colonel, 1 lieut.-colonel, 1 major, 1 chaplain, 1 adjutant, 1 surgeon and 2 mates, 1 quartermaster and marshal united, 24 captains, 24 lieutenants, 24 ensigns, 49 serjeants, 72 corporals, 1 drum major, 48 drums, 1,020 soldiers quartered in and about London, Westminster and Southwark and 420 soldiers quartered in the country.
The Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, composed of 12 companies, 1 colonel, 1 lieut.-colonel, 1 major, 1 chaplain, 1 adjutant, 1 surgeon and 1 mate, 1 quartermaster and marshal united, 12 captains, 12 lieutenants, 12 ensigns, 24 serjeants, 36 corporals 1 drum major, 24 drummers, and 600 soldiers quartered in and about London, and 120 soldiers quartered in the country.
The Duke of York's Regiment of Foot, composed of 12 companies, 1 colonel, 1 lieut.-colonel, 1 major, 1 surgeon and mate, 1 adjutant, 1 quartermaster and marshal united, 12 captains, 12 lieutenants, 12 ensigns, 24 serjeants, 36 corporals, 12 drummers, 646 soldiers (together with 8 men who were quartered at Landguard Fort, 17 men quartered at Sheerness, and 1 man quartered at Clifford's Fort).
The Holland Regiment of Foot (during the Dutch wars this Regiment had been styled the Marine Regiment), composed of 10 companies, 1 colonel, 1 lieut.-colonel, 1 major, 1 surgeon and mate, 1 adjutant, 1 quartermaster and marshal united, 10 captains, 10 lieutenants, 10 ensigns, 20 serjeants, 30 corporals, 12 drummers, and 516 soldiers.
The General Officers belonging to the Guards (or what may be roughly the Staff organisation), 1 paymaster-general, 2 commissaries-general, 4 commissaries for garrisons, 4 commissaries for Horse and Foot Guards, 1 commissary for Guernsey and Jersey, 1 commissary for Scilly, 1 clerk, the Secretary to the Forces and 1 clerk, 1 physician-general, 1 scout-master-general, 1 adjutant-general, 1 chirurgeon-general, 1 marshal to all the Horse, and 1 messenger.
The total of the above Forces, which we will call the Standing Army, adopting for convenience a nomenclature which in its origin was intended to be invidious, is 4,345 soldiers and 515 officers all told, including the staff. The complete total, therefore, of the so-called Standing Army with which Charles menaced the country of England with the loss of its freedom, constitution and Protestant religion was under 5,000 men and officers.
Now turn to the garrisons. In peace time (in the same year 1677, for instance) their complete establishment was as follows :
Berwick.1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 3 corporals, 1 drummer, 50 privates, 1 master-gunner, 3 gunners, 1 chirurgeon, 1 storekeeper.
Carlisle.1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 3 corporals, 1 drum, 50 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 3 gunners.
Chepstow.1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 3 corporals, 1 drummer, 50 soldiers.
Chester.1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 1 serjeant, 2 corporals, 1 drum, 50 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 2 gunners.
Calshot Castle.1 governor, 1 master-gunner, 3 gunners.
Grain and Tilbury.1 governor, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 3 corporals, 1 drum, 50 privates, 2 master-gunners, 15 gunners.
Guernsey.1 governor, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 4 serjeants, 6 corporals, 2 drums, 100 privates, 1 master-gunner, 4 gunners, 1 chaplain.
Hull and the blockhouses there.1 governor, 1 lieut.- governor, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 4 serjeants, 6 corporals, 2 drums, 100 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 7 gunners, 1 storekeeper.
Holy Island (Northumberland) 1 major, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 3 corporals, 1 drum, 50 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 4 gunners.
Jersey.1 governor, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 4 serjeants, 6 corporals, 2 drums, 100 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 8 gunners.
Dartmouth.1 governor, 1 master-gunner, 1 gunner.
Hurst Castle.1 master-gunner, 3 gunners.
St. Mawes [Castle].1 governor, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 master-gunner, 1 gunner, 12 soldiers.
Pendennis Castle.1 governor, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 2 corporals, 1 drum, 50 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 8 gunners.
Portsmouth.1 governor and 2 companies, together with 3 companies that came from York, 1 governor, 1 lieut.-governor, 5 captains, 5 lieutenants, 5 ensigns, 10 serjeants, 15 corporals, 5 drums, 250 soldiers, 1 storekeeper, 1 porter, 1 master-gunner, 29 gunners, 1 chirurgeon.
Plymouth.1 governor, 1 lieut.-governor, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 4 serjeants, 6 corporals, 118 soldiers, 1 storekeeper, 2 master - gunners, 22 gunners.
Scilly.1 governor, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 1 drum, 50 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 10 gunners.
Scarborough.1 governor, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 3 corporals, 1 drum, 50 soldiers.
Tower of London.1 governor, 1 deputy-governor, 1 captain, 3 companies comprising 3 captains, 3 lieutenants, 3 ensigns, 6 serjeants, 9 corporals, 3 drums, 150 soldiers, 1 master-gunner, 4 gunners.
Tynemouth and Clifford's Fort.1 governor, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 1 master-gunner, 3 gunners, 1 storekeeper, and 50 soldiers. At Clifford's Fort 1 master-gunner and 4 gunners.
Upnor Castle.1 captain (for Upnor, Gillingham and Cockham), 1 lieutenant, 1 corporal, 30 soldiers, 2 master-gunners, 6 gunners.
Gillingham.1 master-gunner, 4 gunners.
Cockham Wood.1 master-gunner, 4 gunners.
Windsor.1 governor, 1 lieut.-governor, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 serjeants, 3 corporals, 50 soldiers, 1 storekeeper, 1 master - gunner, 6 gunners.
Isle of Wight.1 governor, 1 deputy-governor, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 4 serjeants, 6 corporals, 2 drums, 100 privates, 1 captain, and 30 soldiers : 1 master-gunner, 2 gunners in Sandown Fort, 1 master-gunner and 4 gunners in Yarmouth fort, 1 master gunner and 6 gunners in Carisbrooke Castle, 1 master-gunner and 2 gunners in Cowes Castle.
North Yarmouth.1 master-gunner and 4 gunners.
The full total of these garrisons, including officers, privates, gunners, &c., is only 2,038. To this total must be added the tiny garrisons of the Cinque Ports (Motes Bulwark, Dover Castle, Sandown Castle, Arcliffe Bulwark, Deal Castle, Sandgate Castle and Walmer Castle), the establishment for which is printed infra, p. 531.
As practically the whole of this so-called Standing Army was simply a minimum of Household troops and a ridiculously inadequate garrison force, it stands to sense that none of it could be spared for a Continental war with Louis XIV., and that if the House of Commons called for such a war the whole of the expeditionary force would have to be created de novo, literally called up out of the ground. Without hesitation the executive (Charles and his government) set themselves to the task.
The Poll Bill passed on 20 March, 1677-8, and, as already stated, the privy seals authorising expenditure were signed on 2 and 25 March, 1677-8. Even before the signing of these privy seals the work of raising the regiments had begun. Some of them were partly raised by the end of March, and by June at least the bulk of them were fully mustered.
The force thus called into being was composed of 4 regiments of Horse, 3 regiments of Horse Dragoons, 16 regiments of Infantry and various companies, regimented and non-regimented, and recruits, all as follows :
Four Regiments of Horse : Duke of Monmouth's (8 troops of 60 each with officers), Duke of Albemarle's (ditto), Earl of Peterborough's (ditto), and Col. Gerard's (ditto.)
Three Regiments of Dragoons : Earl of Feversham's (8 troops of 80 each with officers), Prince Rupert's (ditto), Sir Jno. Talbot's (ditto.)
Three Companies of Horse Grenadiers : Duke of Monmouth (1 troop of 80 to be added to his Regiment of Horse), Sir Philip Howard (1 troop of 60 to be added to the Queen's Troop of Horse Guards), Earl of Feversham (1 troop of 60 to be added to the Duke of York's Troop of Horse Guards).
Sixteen Regiments of Foot : Duke of Monmouth's (4 companies of 100 each), Duke of Monmouth's (ditto and 1 company of Grenadiers of 100), Col. Edward Villiers's (10 companies of 100 each with officers), Sir Charles Wheeler's (ditto), Lord Alington's (ditto), Col. Geo. Legg's (6 companies of 100 each), Sir Jno. Fenwicke's (10 companies of 100 each with officers), Sir Lionel Walden's (ditto), Viscount Morpeth's (ditto), Lord O'Bryan's (ditto), Col. Henry Sidney's (ditto), Sir Henry Goodwricke's (ditto), Sir Thomas Slingsby's (ditto), Col. Thomas Stradling (ditto), James, Lord Douglas's (ditto), Col. Thomas Dungan's (8 companies of 100 each with officers).
Six Companies of Foot Grenadiers : Col. Jno. Russell's (1 company of 100 men) ; Earl of Craven's (ditto), Col. Charles Littleton's (of 101 men to be disposed of in completing a regiment in Flanders and for the forming of soldiers that came from Virginia into a company of Grenadiers), Earl of Mulgrave's (1 company of 100 to be added to the Holland Regiment), Col. Edw. Villiers (1 company of 100 men), Col. Sir C. Wheeler's (ditto).
Two Independent or Non-Regimented Companies of Foot : Lord Frescheville's (1 company of 100 men), Sir Jno. Reresby's (ditto).
Recruits, additional companies, and Grenadiers added to the old standing companies and garrisons [the so-called Standing Army] :
1 serjeant and 40 recruits added to each of the 24 companies of the King's Regiment of Foot, and 1 company of Grenadiers.
8 new companies of Foot added to the Coldstream Regiment, and 1 serjeant and 40 recruits added to [each of] the 12 old companies, and 1 company of Grenadiers.
8 new companies of Foot added to the Duke of York's Regiment, and one company of Grenadiers and 570 recruits added to the old companies of said regiment, and 20 recruits added to the said regiment's company of Foot serving in the garrison of Sheerness, and 12 serjeants and 12 drums.
8 new companies of Foot and 1 company of Grenadiers and recruits (1 serjeant, 1 drum, and 50 soldiers) added to each of the 12 old companies of the Holland Regiment.
"Sundry" recruits added respectively to the garrisons of Carlisle, Guernsey, Gravesend, Hull, Pendennis, Jersey (100 recruits), Plymouth, Portsmouth, the Tower, Tynemouth, and the Isle of Wight.
Allowing 500 for the last item of unenumerated garrison recruits, the total new expeditionary force which Charles promptly raised in response to Parliament comes to 27,041 men without officers and staff.
This expeditionary force stood idle in the country for, roughly speaking, a matter of three or four months, when the Parliament had changed its mind and voted its disbandment. It was in the process of raising from March, 1677-8 to the following May. Its disbandment was voted as from July, and the actual process of disbandment was carried out from September to November following, with the exception of some few companies which were taken to Scotland to suppress the rebellion there. The disbandment of these latter companies was as a consequence delayed till from January to March of the following, year 1678-9.
Although the force stood so short a time, Charles paid a total bill of 653,575l. 11s. 2d. for it (see supra, pp. xviii-xix). In addition, he paid a bill of 236,247l. 4s. 7d. for the Navy (supra, p. xxii) and of at least 93,121l. 4s. 7d. for the Ordnance, representing a total of 982,944l. 0s. 5d. actually paid, and all for the French war and under the terms of the Act for the Poll. But this was not the total of his expenditure for the war. The remaining expenditure was a shortage or a debt. As the Army could not be allowed to suffer from that shortage (for it had to be disbanded and as a preliminary to its disbandment it had to be paid up in full), the shortage had to fall upon the Navy and the Ordnance. On these two latter heads the debt was subsequently found to be over 110,000l. for the Navy and nearly 70,000l. for the Ordnance. It will be seen from pp. 1294-5 of the present volumes that Charles expected (he was entitled to expect) Parliament to make up his shortage and to pay the debt. But he was doomed, as so often before, to disappointment. Parliament never paid a penny of it or granted a penny towards it, and finally Charles charged it upon his Hearthmoney revenue. In other words he paid the nation's debt out of his own pocket, out of money that had been given him at the outset for the maintenance of the ordinary peace expenditure. The net result is that after having clamoured for a war with the French King and pretended to make financial provision for it, the Parliament cheated Charles of four sums of money in the accounts for that abortive war : (1) a residual debt of 110,000l. to the Navy, (2) a residual debt of 69,000l. for the Ordnance, (3) the amount by which the actual yield of the Poll and of the 206,462l. 17s. 3d., part of the first Disbandment Act, fell short of the bill for 982,944l. 0s. 5d. which Charles paid as above, (4) the 7 per cent. interest money which Charles paid on the 300,000l. loans on the Poll, those loans being authorised by Parliament.
Throughout the whole of his reign Charles was pursued by an inveterate suspicion on the part of his faithful Commons that he misappropriated supply. They thought, or pretended to think, that they had made ample provision for the ordinary executive government, and that for the first and second Dutch wars they had granted unprecedentedly liberal supply. So also for the building of the thirty ships ; so also for this so-called but abortive war with the French King. And in the debates on supply for this latter abortive war the most insulting schemes were proposed in the House for appropriating the supply, for paying the money into the Chamber of London instead of into the Exchequer, and so on, as if Charles was not to be trusted with a halfpenny. To this factious and interested self-delusion the simple exposition of accounts and figures gives one swift, crushing and humiliating blow. The supply which the Commons granted never produced or brought in the sums intended : the actual yield was always below the estimate. In addition, the ordinary executive government was not sufficiently provided for : from the day of the Restoration to the day of Charles's death the executive was starved and hampered, at times even crippled. And lastly, the extraordinary supply for war, etc., had never in any single case been even adequate, neither for the first Dutch war, nor the second Dutch war, nor for the building the thirty ships, nor for the "war with the French King," nor finally for the disbandment (a transaction which belongs to the succeeding volume of Calendar). And, the while, Charles spent not only every penny but a good deal more than every penny of such supply strictly in accordance with the terms of each grant of it, and also turned into the national exchequer such sources of revenue as any other man would have regarded as strictly privatethe revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, his wife's dowry, the proceeds of the sale of fee farms, the proceeds of the sale of Dunkirk, and even a good portion of the money which he received from Louis XIV. The members of the House of Commons who received money from Charles II. took care not to do the same with their share. They left Charles to face the general deficit on the ordinary expenditure as best he could, and the special successive deficits on the various war grants as best he could, and the interest on the bankers' debt as best he could, and so now with the accounts for the thirty ships and the French war. The faithful Commons had called the tune, and the maligned and suspected monarch was left to pay the piper.
It is impossible to any longer shirk the question as to the influence which Charles's financial straits exercised upon his foreign policy. In the ordinary way of things it is not the duty of an editor of a calendar of Treasury records to invade such a province. It is his duty primarily to give to the world as well ordered and impartial a survey of the financial administration and financial situation of the country as is humanly possible and to leave to a later stage the synoptic work of building the results of that financial record into the general fabric of a broad allembracing history. But, apart from the fact that the financial and political issues were so interwoven as to be impossible of mutually exclusive treatment, there are two special reasons why it would be a still higher dereliction of duty at the stage this Calendar has now reached to avoid allusion to political issues. In the first place, a faithful, true, synoptic history of Charles II's reign is still impossible, and meanwhile the ground is occupied, the market place is filled by a structure, or if you will a dung-heap, of two centuries of accumulated calumny. From Macaulay and Onno Klopp down to the cheapest text book which is used in schools, there is not merely a misunderstanding, but an absolute misrepresentation of the true nature of the political troubles which Charles had to face. So-called histories of this period are one and all false throughout, simply because they are false in their foundation. Why should this continue?
In the second place. Although often before in his reign the political issue and the financial issue had acted and re-acted upon each other to Charles's hurt it was in the impeachment of Danby and in the Popish Plot that the final equation of these re-agents was reachedwith an explosion which shattered the might of England until the advent of William of Orange. This is the central fact of Charles's reign, transcending in vital importance any number of stoppages of the Exchequer, and of the one phenomenon as of the other the historic origin is financial trouble.
In order to an exposition let me posit certain axioms.
(1) Had Charles been "comfortable in his affairs" or "easy in his circumstances," as he styled it when addressing his faithful Commons, he would never have turned to Louis for a subsidy. In Charles's mouth the words meant simply that the country's ordinary governmental revenue was insufficient for its ordinary governmental needs. The Restoration Parliament presumed that the total administrative cost of the country could be met by a revenue of 1,200,000l., and it honestly allocated sources of revenue which, it thought, would raise that sum annually. But it was found very quickly that those sources did not produce so much as two-thirds of that sum. Accordingly, at two successive periods, additional revenue sources were granted, such as Hearthmoney and additional Excise. All the same the shortage was not made up, and after these two attempts the Parliament never returned to the task of making up the King's own to the stipulated 1,200,000l. For the first twelve years of his reign Charles's (or the Government's) income was about 900,000l. a yeara shortage of 300,000l. a year. The result was the national bankruptcy of 1672. Then followed two halcyon years, during which the sources allocated for the Government's revenue produced about 1,400,000l. a year, and Charles and Danby for the first time of the reign enjoyed the luxury of liquidating debt. Then followed three years of rest, during which the revenue nearly reached the stipulated 1,200,000l. per an., and then finally a decline, which led Charles gently to the quiet of the tomb. Out of twenty-five years of his reign Charles only for five years enjoyed the income which Parliament had solemnly pledged itself to give him.
Here, then, was a violated pledge, a betrayal of a king by his own people. But more. Nothing but the most fatuous inconscience could have blended politicians, of whatever creed, to the fact that the governmental needs were elastic, were continually expanding, that as England grew the cost of her governmental executive machinery was growing too, and that the scale of expenditure suitable to England in 1660 was insufficient for the requirement of England in 1678. As has been already said, on such increase of expenditure there is no going back. But never once throughout his reign did the Commons dream of reviewing the arrangement of 1660, of bringing it up to date, supplementing it, and so of justifying themselves to their children's children.
In a general way Charles knew the truth of his financial situation, though the actual figures could never have been correctly accessible to him. At one time he estimated the annual deficit on his ordinary revenue at 140,000l. ; at another he estimated it at 300,000l. ; and these were the amounts he tried at different times to get out of Louis XIV, when he found he could not get them from his own Parliament. We have now the reliable figures before us, and we know that even the latter estimate was below the truth.
It was this general situation, coupled with his accumulated experience of the utterly hopeless recalcitrance of his Parliament, which drove Charles to look abroad for means to square his income.
(2) In turning to Louis for help Charles did nothing that was per se immoral or inimical to English interest. Throughout her history England has subsidised foreign powers for her own purposes, and she would do it again to-day for her own purposes. In point of view of morality there was no difference between Charles's subsidising the Bishop of Munster, or England's subsidising Prussia in the eighteenth century and Louis's subsidising Charles. To characterise Charles's acceptance of a subsidy as in itself immoral is simply cant. The gravamen of the charge against him lies in the perpetual assumption that in accepting the subsidy Charles sold the interests of England and pursued an anti-English policy. Let us see how much truth there is in this assumption. The maritime expansion of England, which is the chief outstanding feature of modern European history, had already strongly announced itself. In Charles's day the enemy in the path of that expansion was not France but Holland. In linking himself to Louis for the destruction of Holland Charles was doing nothing anti-English in 1672, any more than he was doing in 1665, when he attempted the task alone. If, judged from the final outcome of later history, any one blundered it was indeed not Charles, but Louis, who helped thereby to build the naval supremacy of eighteenth-century England, and so lost for France the dominion of the world. If Charles had not prophetic gift enough to see that the power of France would be a menace to Europe for the next thirty years, Louis in his turn had still less of the gift, for he helped to clear out of England's way the only power which could have hindered or disputed England's maritime supremacy. He was blind enough to contribute to the establishment of that naval supremacy, which was subsequently to be turned against his own country with such crushing force. Which therefore of these twain sinned or blundered?
Of a truth it is simple fatuity to demand of a ruler that he should foresee the development of three generations unborn. Charles was thoroughly English in feeling and policy ; Louis was thoroughly French. Charles looked to the sea ; Louis to the Continent of Europe. If both were wrong from the point of view of some phases of later history, both were right from the point of view of contemporary statecraft. The only difference between them was that Charles hit the greater truth and made the smaller mistake ; Louis seized the nearer advantage and made a colossal blunder.
(3) In the diplomatic struggle which ensued from 1672 to 1678, Charles played a clean-handed and gentlemanly game, whilst Louis's game was one such as history can find no parallel to for low cunning, duplicity, unscrupulous immorality and fathomless perjury. House of Commons, Charles, States General, William of Orange, Spain, Sweden and the Empire, all these Louis played off one against the other, now with effrontery, now with duplicity, now with cajolery, always with perfidy, and he confounded them all. They were puppets in his hands.
I posit these axioms as self-evident, as being such as no student, deeply versed in this period, will deny his as sent to.
Well, then, to turn to the application of all this. The menace to France from the half-hearted Triple Alliance of 1668 had been in effect disposed of by the Treaty of Dover, and the second Dutch war followed as a matter of course, France and England being leagued against Holland. From France's point of view it was vitally necessary that when the English Parliament re-assembled it should be kept in good humour, and should vote supply for the war. When, therefore, the fury of the House (February, 1672-3) blazed forth over the Declaration of Indulgence Louis's influence was used on Charles to induce him to comply with the Commons and withdraw the Declaration. The Declaration was accordingly withdrawn, the Text Act passed, supply voted, the war condoned, and King and Parliament parted in good humour.
In this instance it had suited Louis to make peace between Charles and the Commons. And, as it suited his convenience, so it was done.
Then followed the campaign of 1673, by land and sea, against the Dutch, and the abortive negotiations for peace at Cologne, in which the Dutch vainly strove to divide Charles from Louis, and to make a separate peace with England. Finding it impossible, the Dutch turned to their sole remaining resource. They played exactly the same game which Louis was to play five years later in the Popish Plot. They intrigued with the Opposition members of the English Parliament and with Shaftesbury, bribed them, and through their instrumentality raised the cry of Popery in the country at large, inflaming it from end to end. They were favoured by circumstances. For the Duke of York had just married Mary of Modena by proxy.
When, therefore, Parliament met on 27 October, 1673, a complete change had come over it. The Commons addressed Charles against the Duke of York's marriage, voted a general test between Protestants and Papists, refused to consider supply until the kingdom was effectually secured against Popery and Popish advisers, and finally voted the standing army a grievance and the alliance with France a grievance (November 4). Charles's only hope of allaying the storm lay in a prorogation, and he promptly took the step on the same day (November 4).
In the interval of the recess the Dutch further took the extraordinary step of printing and of dispersing throughout England their despatch of December 9-19, 1673, to Charles. In this despatch they had enumerated all the perfidy of the French towards England, both in the naval battles and in the separate negotiations with the Dutch, the motive being to disgust Charles (and England) with the conduct of his ally. The result was that when Parliament met again on 1 January, 1673-4, it was more than ever inflamed against the French. To clinch the matter the Dutch came forward at the psychological moment with irresistibly reasonable offers of peace with Charles. Caught between two fires Charles yielded gracefully and peace was made between Holland and England. It only remained to disband the new raised forces. This the House voted, and Charles immediately assented to, and then the No Popery bogey vanished as quickly as it had been raised. As far therefore as concerned Charles's actual participation in Louis's war with Holland, the Parliament had broken the league between him and the French King.
For once the Dutch had beaten Louis at his own game of underhand intrigue with the Parliamentary opposition. He accepted the inevitable with a grace, and repaired it by a supple dexterity that are alike inimitable. If Charles could not be his active ally in the war he should at least remain and be employed as the arbiter between Louis and Louis's foes. He should be the mediator for a general peace. As Louis had Charles in tow, and was feeding him with his subsidies, this simply meant, in Louis's mind, that Charles should be his subservient tool, to throw the diplomatic (if no longer the military) weight of England into the scale where and when and how Louis should wish. From February, 1674, to October, 1677, from the peace between England and the Dutch to the marriage of the Prince of Orange with the Princess Mary, this was the position which Charles occupied. In the three years' diplomatic struggle which ensued the main position is perfectly easy to define. The one wish of the allies (Holland, the Empire, and Spain) was to induce Charles to throw the weight of England into the scale against France, to throw off his neutrality and to join the league against Louis. The main wish of Louis was to keep England neutral and to employ Charles as a subservient tool in his role as mediator. To accomplish this it was necessary, as a first alternative, to supply Charles with cash, and to prevent the meeting of the English Parliament. If this alternative failed, if Charles grew restive, or if absolute necessity should lead to the summoning of the English Parliament, then Louis must at all costs prevent the possibility of harmony between Charles and Parliament. For such harmony could only mean one thing, viz., the wholesale adoption by Charles of the anti-French feeling of the Parliament. Louis felt instinctively that if Parliament refused supply unless and until Charles declared war against France, Charles would ultimately give way, or, in other words, that harmony between King and Parliament would mean the victory of the Parliament and consequently war against France. The only way to prevent such a victory for the Parliament was for Louis to sow irretrievable discord between Charles and the Commons, to make harmony impossible between them. Knowing full well that if England ever again intervened in the war it would be on the side of the Dutch and against himself, he was determined to disable her by internal dissension from ever so intervening. If he could not keep England benevolently neutral, then he must hamstring her.
Louis needed no lesson as to the best means of accomplishing such an end. He was already a past master in the art. But, if he had needed any such lesson, the Dutch had just given him a very apt one. Before the No Popery agitation, which they and Shaftesbury had raised, Charles had made an instant and complete surrender, had thrown over the French Alliance and made peace with the Dutch. Had he not done so he would have had to face in 1674 the storm which he had to face later in 1678. The insanely exciteable Protestant feeling of England was a train of gunpowder which could at any instant be fired by an intriguer, whether from Holland or France, and Louis was prepared, as a last resort, to fire that train at any moment when he saw either English King or English Parliament meditating active participation on behalf of the Dutch.
In reality therefore the two alternatives of Louis's policy were only two branches or aspects of one and the same policy, and were concurrent, because in order to prepare for the ultimate possibilityfor the last resorthe must keep alive, must fan intermittently, the No Popery flame to keep it ready to blaze forth whenever he should command it. Whilst therefore he fed Charles with subsidies and put pressure on him to postpone the calling of Parliament on the one hand, he, at the same time, on the other entered into close relations with the Opposition and fed them with Popery and rumours of Popery, as well as with bribes.
The plan answered admirably. During the years 1674-7 Charles played the part of a mediator in the secret pay of France, and if the neutrality of England favoured either side it was certainly not the Dutch who reaped the benefit. Conversely whenever Charles met his Parliament he stumbled instantly on the Popery obstacle. At first he seemed hardly to know who placed the obstacle there. He attributed it to the malignancy of faction, to the villany of the opposition. But later on his eyes were opened. But whether he instantly saw the truth or not he found the obstacle absolutely irremoveable. An invisible influence was at work, and all he could do or say was of no avail. His words were distrusted, and his acts were misconstrued. He and his Parliament drifted ever further and further apart.
This was exactly as Louis had planned. Charles was in tow on the one hand as a pensioned mediator, and Parliament was in tow on the other as a half-pensioned and betrayed and a half-deluded and distracted ship of fools, or rather as a fire-ship filled with combustibles that needed only a spark to burn itself and the state down to the water's edge.
From February, 1674, to April, 1675, Parliament did not sit. The while Turenne devastated the Palatinate and engulfed Franche-Comt and Alsace ; and Charles, on his part, connived at the enlistment of English troops for Louis and, at the instigation of France, tried to draw Holland and the Prince of Orange into a separate treaty of peace with France, the object being to break up the confederacy of Holland, Spain, and the Empire.
From the first, and throughout the period of his Lord Treasurership, Danby grasped the main essentials of the situation with remarkable insight. He detested Charles's French policy, and realised how unsafe it was, because it was unpopular, and he knew the danger that might at any time arise from the anti-Popish feeling of the country. The No Popery mine at least must be hoist by a counter mine. The King must make a vigorous shew of Church of England zeal.
In anticipation of the meeting of Parliament therefore an Order of Council was published in the Gazette (February, 1675), for putting the laws in force against Popish recusants and conventicles. If Danby had had a free hand, he might have reconciled King and people, but he had not a free hand. He was opposed by the Duke of York and Arlington, behind whom there was concentrated all the insidious French influence, an influence which was also working from the other end by bribery and incitation of the opposition in the Commons. Whatever hopes, therefore, Danby had of managing the Parliament vanished instantly upon its meeting. In the stormy session of less than two months which ensued, Lauderdale and even Danby himself narrowly escaped impeachment ; a bill for the prosecution of Popish priests was hotly pushed forward ; Charles was desired to recall his volunteer regiments from off the French King's service, and Lords and Commons engaged in a furious controversy over the proposed non-resistance oath. Charles was driven at last to save the situation by proroguing Parliament. He had not received a penny of supply, though he had only asked for it for the purpose of repairing and rebuilding the fleet.
This was the end of the first round, and Louis had scored handsomely. He still had Charles in tow, and the Parliament in tow, the English fleet had not been refitted, and the bitter tree of discord between King and people had been firmly planted ; whilst he himself, Most Christian King, had advanced his borders to the Rhine.
In the succeeding campaign in the summer of 1675 the fortunes of war turned heavily against France. When, therefore, Charles again met his Parliament on 13 October, 1675, it was of paramount importance to Louis that he should ward off any possibility of the English Parliament forcing Charles to join the victorious allies in crushing France in one grand effort. When, therefore, the Commons, although refusing to consider the question of Charles's (or the administration's) debts, still voted 300,000l. for the rehabilitation of the Navy, the No Popery bogey was dangled out of the machine, and confusion reigned. It did not yet take the shape of a Popish plot to kill Charles. It was only a story of one Lauzance, a Jesuit convert, who had been threatened horribly by St. Germain, the Duchess of York's confessor. But although not as wide as a church door nor as deep as a well, it served. After long and assiduous debates, devoted mainly to the Navy, the House had voted the 300,000l. on the Saturday, 6 November. On the 8th the bogey was introduced to the Commons by a fit sponsorRussell. Between the excitement over this ridiculous nonsense, and the renewed dispute between the two Houses over Shirley's case (a dispute in which Shaftesbury was doing Louis's work in the Lords as faithfully as Russel was doing it in the Commons), the vote of supply was dropped, and when Charles, in sheer despair, prorogued Parliament on 22 November, 1675, he was left as he had been in the preceding April, without a penny of supply, but with a Parliament more than ever torn and undermined by dissension.
From 22 November, 1675, to 15 February, 1676, Parliament stood prorogued, a period of fifteen months. The interval was occupied, as far as Charles was concerned, by the futile negotiations at Nimuegen, in which he acted as a distrusted mediator, and, as far as Louis was concerned, by a campaign which left him master of the Mediterranean by the destruction of the Spanish and Dutch fleets at Palermo, and which on land inclined in his favour in Flanders, but in his disfavour on the Rhine. With the odds against her, and with the issue of war thus uncertain still, it remained Louis's great aim to break up the confederacy against him by detaching the Dutch from it, and making a separate peace with them. For this end he was not content to employ only Charles's distrusted mediation. He intrigued with and cajoled the Dutch themselves behind the Prince of Orange's back. The move was successful, if only in creating dissension. The States General clamoured for peace. As against this attitude of theirs the Prince of Orange stood out implacably for a peace all round, which should not merely relieve the commerce loving Dutch for the moment, but should satisfy the allies by reducing France to the terms of the Peace of the Pyrenees. Such an idea of a general peace Louis scornfully spurned, and, as if perfectly confident that the English Parliament would do him no harm when it met, he appointed his march into Flanders for the opening of the 1677 campaign on the very day, 15 February, 1676-7, on which that Parliament was to meet. In his presumption he for once nearly made a mistake. The Commons re-assembled, fired with a patriotic flame against France, and instantly addressed Charles on the necessity of checking the growing power of Louis and of saving the Spanish Netherlands. With the bitter experience ever before him of years of financial betrayal at the hands of his own people, Charles could only make one reply to such addresses. You can have war if you please, but you must find adequate supply for it, otherwise I am not to be made a tool of by faction to become more than ever misunderstood at home and ridiculous in the eyes of Europe. The House went so far as to guarantee loans to the extent of 200,000l. on the Excise and to vote the Seventeen Months' supply for the building of thirty ships ; and when Charles demanded 600,000l. for the fleet, as a preliminary to joining the Anti-French Alliance, the Commons were prepared to consider it. They asked for a short adjournment, requesting that in the interval Charles should make his alliances. On the 16th April therefore Charles adjourned them.
So far the game was going decidedly against the French interest. The anti-Popery animus of the Commons had not once manifested itself in the debates, and it looked as if they might force Charles into the war by the grant of his 600,000l. It behoved Louis to bestir himself to ward off the danger. And bestir himself he did, effectually. Hardly had the adjournment taken place when a most pompous embassy arrived from France. It comprised not only the Duke of Crequi, the Archbishop of Rheims, and Barillon, but also a train of between three and four hundred persons of all qualities. Its ostensible object was to bring Louis's terms for a long trucein reality the most ludicrous of pretexts, for that was the last thing which Louis thought of. Its real purpose was to fish in the troubled waters of the Parliamentary Opposition. The result was quickly seen when the Houses reassembled. For the Commons flatly refused supply unless the King should first make his alliances. And after a session of only eight days Charles adjourned them in disgust. Apart from the underhand dealings between Barillon and the Opposition, the magnificence of the French special embassy, and its ostentatious attendance on Charles at Newmarket, had added redoubled strength to the suspicion that Charles was so deep in with Louis as to never intend war against him, and that any money granted might probably be used to help France instead of to fight her. The mere externals alone of the embassy compromised Charles in the eyes of his people.
Once again Louis's address had saved him. For the rest of the year 1677 he was, as he thought, free from any danger from England, for though Parliament had been adjourned only until 16 July, on that date Charles again adjourned it until the following January, 1677-8.
In the interval, however, of this long adjournment the unexpected happened. The marriage of William of Orange to the Lady Mary of England was an event of fateful import to Louis, fateful not merely in the future when William, as King of England, should at last lead England into the European resistance to France, but fateful in the immediate present. For it meant that Charles on the one hand had thrown off his French chains, and that the English people and the English Parliament on the other would probably throw off their suspicion of Charles and so would be broken the web of malignant intrigue by which Louis had hitherto paralysed both the English King and the English people. If King and people should draw together in mutual trust Louis knew that it would mean instant and determined war upon himself.
For Charles himself this step is one of astounding and implacable courage. He instantly thereby cut off his French subsidies and placed himself financially at the complete mercy of the House of Commonsand this after seventeen years' experience of their shameful betrayal of him, their breach of their own financial contract with him, their hopeless factiousness, their proven intrigues with his enemies. Charles's resolution is generally represented as sudden, as a surrender on his part to the joint influence of Danby, Temple and the Prince of Orange. If so, they must indeed have been silver-tongued. Such an explanation is objectionable only in so far as it leaves Charles himself out, in so far as it makes him passive. But why make such an assumption? Diplomatically he knew more and could see further than all his courtiers and all the Parliament put together. He saw at last, as did no one else in England, that all his efforts at an understanding with his own people were thwarted by French intrigue, Why gratuitously dispoil him of some part of the credit of a high heroic resolve to break the web of that intrigue and by one bold step to put himself again at the head of an united people?
To Louis XIV the news was a thunderbolt out of a serene sky. He regarded Charles's defection as a worse calamity than the loss of an army. And so it seemed likely to prove. The marriage took place on 4 November, 1677, and on 24 December Charles formally commenced negotiations for a treaty of alliance with the States General. This treaty was concluded on 16 January, 1677-8, and on the following day the Parliament met.
Against the threatened danger Louis strained every nerve. Not content with Barillon's traffic with the Opposition members, he despatched to England the Marquis de Ruvigny's son, a relative of Lady Vaughan and a particular friend of Russel, and as a persona grata with all the Opposition. His instructions were to sow suspicion of Danby in Charles's mind, and failing this then "by the means of William Russel and their discontented people to give a great deal of money and cross all your measures at Court." Concurrently with this Louis carried on a parallel intrigue with the Stadtholder against the Prince of Orange, and with as much effect.
In the English Parliament the Opposition, responding faithfully to Louis's wire-pullers, brought into play both the engines which hitherto singly had done their business, the cry of the standing army menace and the cry of the Popery menace. They succeeded in delaying supply, but in spite of all their efforts the House on 27 February voted 1,000,000l. for a war with the French King. I have already shewn in the earlier pages of this introduction how promptly and energetically and (financially) unsparingly the executive set itself to carry out the intention of the legislature. Finding himself worsted in this field, Louis turned to another. He employed his diplomacy to make a separate peace with Holland, and so wreck not merely the alliance between England and Holland, but the grander alliance of England, Holland, the Empire, and Spain, which Danby was straining every nerve to get together. Employing the same form of intrigue with the States General that he was employing in the English House of Commons, he so paralysed the decision of the Dutch (April 14) as to practically thwart Danby's plans at the outset. When, therefore, the English Parliament, after a short recess, met again on 29 April, 1678, Charles could only tell them that though he was ready to go on the Dutch were hanging back. This was the signal and the opportunity for Louis's minions, and they did his work faithfully. After listening to Charles's speech, one of the frankest expositions of a foreign diplomatic situation which any king in English history ever gave to his Parliament, the Commons returned to their House and immediately sat down to the consideration of a carefully drawn inflammatory and preposterously lengthy report on the dangers of Popery. In adapting it and voting to request the Lords' concurrence in it they declared that they could lay no further tax on the people, however urgent the occasion may be, until assured that effective means were taken against this Popish danger.
Coldly and moderately stated the logic of this is as shining as if a modern House of Commons, with the enemy knocking at our gates, should resolve to vote no money for war until the Unitarians had been turned into good Churchmen or harried out of the land.
But worse was yet to come for Charles. Having worked the No Popery bogey so successfully, Louis's minions took up the standing army bogey, and with as distinguished success. On 4 June the House voted the disbandment of the new-raised forces.
In accepting the inevitable, Charles made one last despairing attempt to come to an understanding with his people. The Poll Bill had prohibited the importation of French commodities, and so very greatly lessened the yield of the Customs. Charles asked the Commons to make the diminution good to him. By a majority of fifty-seven the House refused (June 18). On the same day he appealed to them to give him a permanent addition of 300,000l. a year to "his own," e.g. to the 1,200,000l. a year which he was supposed to have for carrying on the ordinary government of the country. It was a modest estimate of his annual deficit. But modest or not, he got no hearing. The House did not even consider the matter.
Charles thus found himself thwarted by Louis, both at home in his own Parliament and abroad in his Dutch Alliance. No wonder if he for once so far forgot his habitual good nature as to reproach Temple with his so futile "popular" courses. No wonder if, in his disgust at his own people, he turned again to Louis to ask his money price for a peace, if peace there was to be.
We are now on the eve of the Popish Plot. On 23 June (five days after this last despairing attempt of Charles), Oates was "expelled" from the College of St. Omers, and on the 27th he arrived in London.
At this point it might naturally be asked, Why should Louis have decided to launch the Popish Plot when he was so apparently winning all along the line, when he had cajoled the Dutch, paralysed the Anglo-Dutch Alliance, and procured the vote for the disbandment of the newraised English forces? And then again, as resulting from this first query, it might be further asked, If he had made up his mind in June to launch the Popish Plot, why did he delay the first step in the tragic drama until the middle of August?
The answer to both queries is to be sought in the simple chronological sequence of events.
In the first place, although the Commons had on 4 June voted the disbandment, the vote remained actually inoperative, for the simple reason that it could not be carried out. The receipts from the Poll and the loans on the six months' part of the Eighteen Months' tax were insufficient to pay the soldiers up to 4 June, and to have attempted to disband them without paying up their arrears would have led to a mutiny. The disbandment, therefore, could not be instantly carried out (see supra, p. lxi). Louis, therefore, found himself face to face with the fact that, although he had engineered the vote for the disbandment, the new raised army still continued in existence, to menace him. In the second place, Danby, the chief bulwark of the nation against the insidious French influence and faction, still stood uninjured at the helm. And finally, in the third place, Charles himself seems to have momentarily taken the bit between his teeth. The continuance of the new-raised forces, in spite of the vote of the Commons, was not illegal, for constitutionally the disposal of the forces rested with the King, and not with the Parliament. But the question of legality was of no moment as compared with the question of finance. If he should keep them under arms how could he possibly pay them, knowing now full well, as he did, that he could expect not a penny from Parliament : and still more how could he ever now dream of declaring war against Louis, when the army at home could not be disbanded for want of pay? Yet it is abundantly clear that Charles and Danby had made up their minds to both these financially perilous steps. It was desperate game ; but it might have proved successful. For if war had actually broken out the voice of faction would have been stilled, and supply would ultimately be forthcoming. After a brief fatal period of hesitation, in which Charles turned to his old pensionary proposals with Louis, Charles flung both Louis and caution to the winds. Temple was despatched to the Hague, and in three days concluded on 3 August a treaty with the Dutch to jointly declare war on France if Louis should not within fourteen days evacuate the Spanish Netherlands. Throughout the few following and anxious days nothing is more certain than that Charles and Danby were resolute. Louis's reply to the ultimatum was twofold. On 11 August, six days before the ultimatum expired, he signed a treaty with the Dutch, thus detaching them from Charles ; and secondly, on 13 August, four days before the ultimatum expired, Christopher Kirby informed Charles of a plot against his life. From the point of view of the psychological fitness of the moment chosen, there was nothing wanting in the opening act of the drama of the Popish Plot.
It is not necessary, at this time of day, to assert that there never was any such Popish Plot to kill Charles, nor is it necessary to tell how, in his desires for indulgence or for comprehension, Charles anticipated the liberal spirit of later England by a century and a half ; nor is it necessary to defend Danby from the charge of being a partisan of French influence. So particularly noxious was he to France that Louis did him the honour of rearing against him a special plot, and hired and primed Montagu against him as a very special informer. The two plots ran parallel, straining together at the yoke and leaning together like horses to the pole. The same ruin which involved his master involved Danby himself. They both fell, and the union and might of England fell, by a double blast blown from the mouth of a King of France. All this need not be emphasised or elaborated. What it is necessary to point out is that Charles was financially betrayed by his own people, that such betrayal alone it was which made possible his French captivity, that all the conditions of that captivity, as arranged by Louis beforehand for the purpose of betrayal, were communicated from France to the English Opposition, and that the Englishmen who turned upon Charles the shame of his captivity to confound him were themselves in part paid hirelings of and in part deluded tools of Louis XIV. It is from the mouth of these perjured and deluded minions of France, masquerading as patriot Englishmen, that sober historians have gravely adopted the myth of Charles's desire to establish absolutism and to re-establish Popery. It is humiliating to one's intelligence to have to review such rubbish. The answer to it is written large on every page of this Calendarto any one who will open his eyes and read. Charles never asked of his countrymen more than they had themselves promised, viz., sufficient supply to provide for the governmental needs of the country, the ordinary peace establishment of the country, and I have already (supra, p. liv seq.) shewn that the so-called army under the ordinary peace establishment was merely a force of about 4,000 or 5,000 mena superb force, truly, with which to establish an absolutism! And, in the interest of mutual peace and understanding between himself and his people, Charles made sacrifice after sacrifice of that prerogative which he had inherited. He consented to the Commission of Inspection into the accounts of the first Dutch war ; he accepted every clause of appropriation of supply and acted loyally by it (as also did every official of the Treasury and the Exchequer under him) ; he adopted Temple's Privy Council scheme, and, what is most astonishing of all, he made a half surrender to Parliament of that most highly prized flower of the prerogative, the Crown's absolute control of the foreign policy of the country. The Lord Chancellor's speech made by command of the King to the two Houses on 29 April, 1678 (supra, p. lxxviii), is one of the frankest and most intimate communications on foreign policy that the English executive ever submitted to the English Parliament. It entered fully into the diplomatic details, facts and issues of the then present and burning moment, and concluded by submitting the whole situation to Parliament for advice. No Foreign Secretary of to-day would ever dare to give to the House of Commons of to-day such a frank account of diplomatic negotiations still pending, nor would he ever dream of asking the advice of the House upon such negotiations. And the fact becomes all the more astounding when we bear in mind that the Parliament of Charles's days accepted the then current view of the prerogative as implicitly as did Charles himself. If mortal man could or ever honestly tried to bridge over the gulf between the executive and the legislature, Charles could have done, and (to an extent blindly and unconsciously) he honestly tried to do. If he failed it was only because the problem was constitutionally unripe for settlement. It is not given to any man, even a Charles II or a Temple, to anticipate half a century of historic development. But this is not the man at whose door or on whose tomb we should lay the charge of a craving after absolutism. And, as to Popery, let it not be forgotten that having been betrayed by his own people into the hands of Louis, that monarch repayed the compliment to England by betraying her King back again to her. Louis prompted and selected and put on paper the words which he wanted Charles to use in negotiation and in treaty, and he took care that those words should be such as should compromise Charles on the score of Popery. Louis's first essay in this field of treachery took place in the days of the Triple Alliance, when he launched the Pretender James Stuart, the supposed illegitimate, but purely mythical, son of Charles, whose mission it was to convert his supposed father to Popery. But this was a clumsy effort ludicrously clumsyand Louis saw its vulnerability and mended his attack. When he penned the Treaty of Dover he found the true way, and it proved superbly successful, so successful that he bewitched the understanding not only of seventeenth-century England, but of historians from his day to our own.
Wm. A. Shaw.