Venice
June 1671, 11-20

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1939

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73-79

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'Venice: June 1671, 11-20', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 37: 1671-1672 (1939), pp. 73-79. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90310 Date accessed: 27 November 2014.


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June 1671, 11–20

June 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
65. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The proceedings of the United Provinces have at last convinced England that they prefer their own quiet to what is due to the allies; so she is compelled prudently to ponder the matter, gain time and avoid rebuffs. I mentioned in my last that the States were urging the queen to comply with the demands of the Most Christian, but also advocating a close union for all eventualities, to resist innovation by force of arms. This coupled with the haughty demands made at this Court prove how much the Provinces distrust the English alliance. Things having come to this pass and England, being determined not to be the first to abandon the alliance and still less to sacrifice her own interests in endeavouring to persuade the Provinces that there will always be time to bluster and that at present the malady requires gentler remedies, perceived that the Most Christian was inclined to settle the boundaries by way of arbitration, and that it was desirable to ask him to do so, to remove the cause for a breach. If this were done suspicion would cease and with the moral certainty of quiet there would be no expense.
Borel does not yet accept this argument, but seems to allow that it is England's interest to give good advice and maintain quiet, first for herself and then for others, nor have the negotiations of the whole of the past week gone further than this. The government here foresees the disastrous effects of discord and finding itself esteemed and courted by France endeavours to preserve the present state of affairs, which seems the least perilous, as worse results are anticipated from innovation.
Letters have accordingly been written to Sweden for sending a minister or giving powers to the one now in London. In the mean time negotiations will be carried on through the whole of next winter.
The duke of Guise left two days ago for the French Court, well satisfied with the endless civilities received by him here from that of England. On the other hand the resident from Hamburg leaves London without having succeeded in his negotiations. He came to take leave of me and said he had been unable to decide whether his city was or was not to pay for the cost of the English ships burned by the Dutch during the war, nor, after great efforts had he been able to settle the amount of damages, which one side estimated at double as much as the other. So the question remains undecided. In like manner the secrets revealed by Blood, the robber of the crown jewels, are hidden among the acts of his examination. He was formerly a professed rebel, but before then a faithful and good servant of the late king, and universal curiosity is excited by his trial.
London, the 12th June, 1671.
[Italian.]
June 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
66. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday last the king and queen, the duke of York and the whole Court deserted London for Windsor where the chief personages of the whole kingdom gathered. The curiosity of the foreign ministers took them also to witness the ceremony of an investiture of the knights of the Garter. St. George's festival was postponed until the 29th May, old style and then celebrated in the chapel of Windsor castle where the king of Sweden, the duke of Saxony and the duke of Albemarle were installed. The earls of Carlisle and Winchelsea were proxies for the first two and received their robes. The duke of Albemarle was invested with his and will preserve them as a conspicuous mark of honour and one which is new to the family, the king having generously confirmed to him the mark of favour which he bestowed on his father when he effected the restoration.
Three whole days were passed in ceremonies and grand banquets, with illuminations, fireworks and bonfires. The king proposes to remain out of London for the field sports of this season and the Court follows him, while the queen, who came to London for two days at Ascension, will resume her country diversions tomorrow and receive the compliments of the foreign ministers, with whom I must share this inconvenience.
The government and the ambassadors being thus idle there is no news worth reporting. No fresh negotiations have passed between England and Holland besides those mentioned last week. There is not much doing here in respect of the arbitration, about which Molina says scarcely a word, though he is not in such a hurry to start for Paris as at first. To me he merely said that the French had at last obtained their intent, having brought the neighbouring powers to give way to them in the peace or to seek a remedy in war, which they so much deprecated. Holland, who complained of England, was much more disturbed than the queen, his mistress, and Spain would seek her own quiet by means of arbitration.
I may say here that the reason of Molina for delaying his departure is not the receipt of fresh instructions or because of important public business, but because he does not wish Ognate to succeed him, and he has sent an express to Spain to that effect. If he does not succeed in depriving Ognate of his post he will certainly cut short the period of his employment in London.
The French ambassador suspected that the Spaniard's protracted stay concealed some mystery; but being convinced of the truth, he takes advantage of the change of plan, expatiating to the ministers on the trust which England may place in the excellent advice and good fortune of the Most Christian. He has repeated to others what he said to me about the exchange of fortresses, saying that as it was now a question of deciding boundaries, the Most Christian would consent to the arrangement provided the Spaniards adapted themselves to his demands. Your Excellencies will hear from Madrid on what foundation this rests, as I cannot find that Colbert has yet made any proposal to this Court.
The marriage of the duke of York remains on the footing mentioned, and so far no one furthers the proposals or hazards the innovation. But a great stir is made because, for the convenience of the chapel service, the queen has removed from her apartments at St. James and taken the whole of Somerset House, with the intention of living there. I may add that her sole object is convenience, and she does not cease to cohabit with the king in the usual apartments at Whitehall. Besides the convenience for her own devotions, her Majesty seeks that of the Catholics in general and so chose to establish the church more in the centre of the city; the number of Catholics having so multiplied that the chapels do not suffice for them not even those of France, Spain, Portugal and your Serenity.
In this matter I hope I am in accordance with the wishes of your Excellencies, sacrificing my property for the need of the poor Catholics, which all redounds to the glory of the republic and is universally blessed by them, above all because they enjoy better convenience and divine service at this house for which I gladly pay 100l. yearly, rents having risen extremely in London, although as yet your Serenity has not granted me that relief which is usual at this and other Courts.
London, the 12th June, 1671.
[Italian.]
June 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
67. Carlo Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The news of the capture of Panama in America (fn. 1) achieved by the English has aroused the most bitter feelings in the minds of the ministers here. The importance of the position, which cuts the communications between Mexico and Peru and enforces a long circuit by Buenos Aires and which holds out inducements for further progress, are all considerations which render the burden and importance of the loss the more sensible. But worse if possible is the doubt that this has happened, if not by the order, at least with the consent of the British king himself. The case is examined and pondered with various judgments. All the accounts agree that there was a landing of 2000 men; that the governor finding himself with forces unequal to the defence, had consumed the greater part of the dwellings by ordering them to be set on fire; that the English then set to work to rebuild them and to fortify themselves against any attack that might be made against them, thus giving clear evidence of their hope and intention to maintain themselves there in permanence.
The Count of Pegnoranda, who arranged the peace of last year with the English minister Godolphin, upon which the ink is scarcely dry, has made the most bitter complaint to him. He enlarged upon the breach of faith the violation of compacts and infringement of the law of nations. In this way the sacred knot was untied and the laws not only of friendship but of nature were broken. The way was thrown open to fraud, the bond of their own pledged word was contemned. It meant nothing less than the prescription of all communication and commerce. Confidence became merely a lure when pledges were only kept so long as there was no opportunity for breaking them. The eighth article of the treaty was quite explicit which reciprocally forbad trade in their own ports to the subjects of the other prince, to say nothing of the practice of hostilities so publicly. The minister defends himself by asserting freely that the action complained of is the work of corsairs; that the king himself cannot restrain them or set limits to their voyages.
The truth of the matter is that the Count of Molina reported some months ago that if an opportunity occurred for some conquest in the Indies, it would not be neglected. Moreover after the last peace with France it was established with prudent foresight that they should maintain ten ships for the custody and defence of those most important positions. This has not been carried into effect and hence the loss which they have suffered.
Madrid, the 17th June, 1671.
[Italian.]
June 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
68. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king and the whole Court, including the chief ministers, whose attention to domestic and foreign affairs does not at all relax, remain in the country. The Dutch ambassador Borel is the only one now in London, but says that he is serving the United Provinces in idleness, not having received any favourable reply to his proposals. When I visited him lately he spoke very confidentially about the internal policy of the States, saying that they were not now inclined, as at first, to make resounding proposals, as those negotiated by Van Beuninghen had all failed. He urged England to declare against France; Holland promising to favour the interests of the prince of Orange. As his Majesty is not greatly inclined towards these, no other means had been found for inducing him to comply. The Pensionary de Wit had always been of a contrary opinion to Van Beuninghen and equally averse from aggrandising Orange, while firm in keeping the ear of France open. To this effect he proposed and carried the despatch of the Ambassador Grotius to Paris; whereupon Van Beuninghen in disgust resigned the post of burgomaster and retired into the country.
Thus far Borel spoke plainly to me, but in discussing the issue of the negotiations at Paris he wandered over various projects for remedying past disorders, always becoming vague in his opinion about the issue. The only point I gathered was that the current policy of the States is at all costs to avoid a rupture with the Most Christian King, but rather to parley with him, so as not to leave themselves in urgent need of their neighbours and particularly of England. But with all this Borel does not remit his instances, and he would like to stand armed under equal pledges. He added definitely that neither the king nor the Council in France were inclined towards war, but this should not induce them to rely upon the present apparent calm.
During the present week there were confident reports of the adjustment having at length been concluded between France and Lorraine. But as I believe this to be a mere echo of the first rumours and as it has merely served as a topic for the Spanish ministers, I delay reporting the effect produced on the English ministers, knowing that they withdrew to avoid giving assistance to the duke, on whose word and intentions they did not rely.
Confirmation of the victory gained over the Algerines at Bugia by Sir Edward Spragge is awaited with impatience. As the news comes from Marseilles your Excellencies will know whether the twelve ships of the corsairs were burned, as all London believes.
I have received the ducali of the 16th and 22nd May. I understand the Signory's opinion of the search made in the English resident's bread boat. I will make use of it in case of need, but so far Lord Arlington has said nothing to me about it, an evident proof that Doddington is moderate and abstains from writing and pressing the matter further.
London, the 19th June, 1671.
[Italian.]
June.
Cl. VII,
Cod. MDCLXX,
Bibl. S. Marco,
Venice.
69. Relation of the Success obtained against the Turks of Argiers at Bugia by His Majesty's Fleet under the command of Sir Edward Spragge. (fn. 2)
On the 20th April, when cruising off Argier the frigates Mary, Hampshire, Portsmouth and Advice were met, who reported that several Argier men of war were at Bugia. A council of war was called and it was decided to endeavour to destroy them. The Hampshire and Portsmouth left to cruise off Argier. On the 30th the fleet got into Bugia Bay and encountered a gale which seemed likely to carry it and the fireships upon the enemy. But by the time that the fleet got within half a shot of the castles and forts it became dead calm. The winds being uncertain it was decided to make the attempt upon them at night with boats. About 12 on the 2nd May all the boats were sent out with the Eagle fireship under Lieutenant Nugent. The attempt failed owing to the miscarriage of the fireships. But for this the enemy ships might have been destroyed without the loss of a man. On the following day the enemy unrigged all their ships and made a boom. On Monday the 8th of May they received several recruits probably from Argier, who were welcomed by the firing of guns and the flying of colours. About noon the ships were brought broadside on and ordered to anchor in 4 fathoms of water, close under the walls. The battery continued for two hours. A pinnace was sent in to cut the boom, a task that was very bravely performed. A fireship was then sent in and destroyed all the ships in the port, ten in all, seven of them being the best men of war at Argier. A Dutchman who escaped from Argier reports that great execution was done, the castle and town miserably torn and old Treky, the admiral wounded. The ships had been purposely commanded by the Divan to find out the English and fight them wherever they met.
List of ships burned, with the number of their guns and the names of their commanders.
List of the killed and wounded in His Majesty's fleet, numbering 17 and 41 respectively.
[English. A pamphlet of 8 pages, with a map.]
June 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
70. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 29th May. With regard to the letters of the duke of York our object was merely to supply you with information for such fresh occasions as might present themselves, as no reply from him is expected at present. We wish however that in any further discussion on the subject that you shall contrive to put it aside adroitly and let the matter drop, since it is utterly impracticable to send thither the copies of letters requested.
Ayes, 106. Noes, 0. Neutral, 5.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 The attack on Panama by Henry Morgan, who sailed from San Domingo in December 1670. The Spanish governor was Don Juan Perez de Guzman, president of Panama.
2 See Cal. S.P. Dom., 1671, pp. 234–5.