Venice
December 1673

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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181-193

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'Venice: December 1673', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 181-193. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90367 Date accessed: 17 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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December 1673

Dec. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
249. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
We note the fresh conversation which you had with Arlington about the incident at Zante and what the Cavalier Hugons said to you. It will therefore be as well for you not to raise the question any more, even if the captain of the ship should arrive. Only in the event of your being provoked will it be necessary for you to be guided by the forms practised hitherto.
Ayes, 121. Noes, 4. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Dec. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
250. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke of York arrived at Dover on Wednesday evening, ten days ago. He lodged in the town, the height of the castle rendering it a convenient residence. On Thursday at the dinner hour as soon as his large barque was seen through the spy glass to push off from the frigate's side, he went down to the beach and was there just in time to receive his bride on her landing. She was accompanied by her mother, by Prince Rinaldo and by some other ladies and gentlemen of her suite. The only persons who entered the first coach were the duke, the two duchesses and the countess Rangoni. The prince went with Lord Peterborough in his coach. They proceeded thus to the residence where, after the princess had taken a little rest, they sent for the bishop of Oxford. After he had inquired of the Ambassador Peterborough about the king's commissions and the duke's powers for the marriage, he asked the bride and bridegroom their sentiments. Thereupon they declared themselves man and wife and the bishop proclaimed the marriage at the Court. A similar formality was practised by the archbishop of Canterbury at the marriage of the king and queen. Two hours afterwards a sumptuous supper was served with the greatest possible signs of rejoicing and in the night the marriage was consummated. According to the universal opinion of the English the duchess has a most beautiful figure and a handsome face and very worthy qualities.
After taking two days' rest the duke came towards London, being greeted on the way by the people with every mark of respect and rejoicing. On Wednesday he embarked in the barges and was met by the king near Greenwich, the vessels saluting with their cannon until he got to London. They landed at Whitehall and after seeing the queen, the duke with his bride and her suite proceeded to his own lodging at St. James'. The whole Court flocked thither and his Royal Highness received every demonstration of public joy, the bells having never ceased ringing throughout the night of Wednesday.
The foreign ministers have requested audiences and await their appointment. The duchess mother and Prince Rinaldo talk of departing. It was not until yesterday that the prince consented to give the title of “Excellency” to the peers of England. The greater part of them claim a place on his right hand in his own house, on which terms they will address him as “Highness.” The Spanish ambassador does not agree to this and prefers to reciprocate the title of “Excellency.”
The Spanish ambassador remarked to me that the duke of York was too partial to France, and that was the reason, not his marriage to a Catholic, why he suffers so much persecution at the moment. It would have been much better for him if he had taken the princess of Parma, whom he, Fresno, offered to him together with the governorship of Flanders. This is a secret hitherto unknown either to me or to any one else. There is another, namely that Colbert is blamed in France for having pushed this affair too much, rendering that country unpopular in England by reason of a marriage with a Catholic princess and one attached to the Court of Rome. But the truth is that the position of France is not growing worse as she is already detested in England and the people seek pretexts for breaking the alliance. But it is true that the duke suffers for the sake of France, his enemies having multiplied because he took his wife at their hands; and the chief victims are the Catholics, they being reserved no longer for religious zeal but solely for statecraft.
London, the 8th December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Dec. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
251. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
It seemed at the outset that the fire of religion, which certain politicians kindled for the purpose of diverting the king's attention from foreign war to domestic events, might be quenched at will by the incendiaries themselves; but now all are alarmed at the conflagration, the more so because the English are not very prone to foresee reverses nor do they show much address in providing for them. The populace, being roused by the thunder of popery and armed with the suspicion that it might be forcibly re-established in England, are capable of any excess. They are convinced that the law and zeal for the maintenance of liberty and religion justify anything. Resting his hopes on a republic the lowest Englishman in the land arrogates to himself the right to discuss both subjects.
The policy of William the Conqueror divided the English nobility by instituting the various grades of duke, marquis, earl, viscount and baron. They were averse from an equalisation of their own titles and still less would they consent to a republic, which must place them on a level with the people and destroy that aristocracy of which they are more proud than any other nation. In spite of this, party spirit makes them risk everything to their own destruction and they rush headlong into the vortex with utter recklessness.
The king, who thinks he can pacify everything by sauvity, issued the proclamation against the Catholics to humour the people. But although the Catholics are withdrawing to avoid the shock, the mob is still raging and those who have raised the storm are unable to allay it. The king, who does not wish to risk the crown during his own life and is careless about the subsequent fate of the monarchy, merely seeks a plaster whereby to gain time and meanwhile, forgetting the resentment he showed against many, he forgives everybody, listens to the plans of the dismissed chancellor who, to recover office, or rather to obtain the place of his enemy, the treasurer, is now trying to assume another mask. The various parts he played during the civil war are recorded in history and my letters show that, after reproaching his predecessor, Lord Bridgeman, with having scrupled to sign the declaration of Indulgence, he offered his services to the king for the support of the royal prerogative, in that and everything else, whereupon he was made chancellor. Subsequently at the beginning of the session of 1673, from fear of impeachment by parliament for the declaration and for his issue of writs out of chancery for new elections, he joined the parliamentary party, behaving with such violence that the king deprived him of the seal. In spite of this he now has the audacity to appear before his Majesty as the organ of the Spanish party. He offers the king the friendship and alliance of Spain, peace with Holland and money to defray the expenses of this last war. He also offers reconciliation with parliament and money besides if he will repudiate the queen and make a second marriage, so as to exclude by his own offspring the suspected Catholic progeny of the duke of York.
The importance of these projects may be estimated by the temptation of peace, money and internal quiet, which are thus placed at the king's disposal, but God knows what will be decided.
In the mean time, in order not to lose this opportunity, Rovigni offers the king 700,000l. for the alliance for next year; but on condition that he dissolves and prorogues parliament. The duke of York advocates this policy, but matters are not sufficiently digested to know the result.
London, the 8th December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Dec. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
252. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The gout from which Lord Arlington is suffering and the present events which harass him when the disease grants a respite, do not permit me to approach him for the definite answer I expected about the Sta. Giustina. I am however encouraged by one of his confidants to insist on the king writing a fresh letter to your Serenity, as I am assured that Arlington, convinced by me, now blames the conduct of the captain.
The ducali of the 28th October and 4th November throw additional light on the justice shown at Zante in the matter of the sailors of the Amicitia. This will enable me to assure the king of the Senate's excellent intentions and readiness to cultivate the best understanding and utterly confound the malignant reports that English subjects are ill treated in the Venetian dominions. The Ambassador Finch at Florence spoke to the Venetian Resident Corniani there about these reports not because he wished to go to negotiate the matter and, as his enemies said, receive a present at Venice, but because much worse things were said here than he repeated or than I ventured to report. I did not record the usual transports of this nation at their first outbreak, being certain that time would moderate them.
When Lord Arlington recovers I will acquaint your Serenity with the result of my exertions. I made a special effort for the sake of encouraging the merchants here to carry on the currant trade with Zante, against which Doddington, the late resident, declaims publicly, hoping in this way to render himself a zealous accredited minister, if not a necessary one. Yet the ships have been appointed as usual this year to lade currants at Zante, though by reason of the war they cannot sail without convoy. As these are still in the river, only the ships with fish will arrive at Venice.
With regard to the removal of the consul from Zante, who is always inclined to make mischief, I may succeed in making the attempt through a friend, without committing the republic especially as a belief that his removal was sought because he had zealously supported the interests of his countrymen would win him support and sympathy.
Sir [Thomas] Huggons does not start yet although he has taken leave and received money for his despatch. Some tell me that as he pledged himself so openly to the Court party in the last session he is in hope of some reward and of better employment. If it proves so there will be no lack of others to canvass the post, and I will forward the employment by all possible hints, according to circumstances.
The ducali at last bring me the bounty of 300 ducats for my expenses over the duke's marriage, which I receive as a gracious acknowledgment of my devoted service.
London, the 8th December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Dec. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
253. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The resolves of this government fluctuate incomprehensibly. The king does not know how to bind himself to any party or dares not do so. What he calls gaining time is termed loss of it by the duke of York, who urges him not to delay his decision until parliament opens. The duke considers the offers made by France the most advantageous, and that if the king accepted them he would be in a position to make either war or peace without parliament. His dependence on that body obviously causes him to break faith with France or, for her sake, to be worsted in his struggle with the two Houses, to the detriment of the royal authority. Yet the king makes no move. Some of the ministers have persuaded him that parliament, satisfied with his zeal against the Catholics, will unanimously grant the supplies. But it is more likely that the members in their hearts, under fair appearances, are merely aiming at preventing a fresh prorogation and at detaching the king from his engagements with France so that when the pinch comes they may compel him to annul the alliance. This will be his Majesty's stumbling block, for when refusing the support of France he imagines that he will always be in time to recover it and is confident that reason will move parliament to give him money. But the offers and bribes of Spain and the insinuations of the Dutch have fixed the root of so strong an antipathy that he will obtain no money until he breaks with the Most Christian.
Lord Arlington, speaking to me about the ease with which the Dutch would break with Spain, if it suited their interests, said that this was a defect peculiar to popular governments. The parliament men, with equal indiscretion, cursed the French alliance and unscrupulously insisted upon the king breaking his word in the face of the whole world, on the plea that his Majesty's pledge ended with the change in the circumstances and interests of the parties. But the others are deaf to the elegance of Arlington's speeches and threaten him with impeachment for his evil counsels. It is only now that he stems the tide which is running so strongly in favour of a rupture with France.
The truth is that the king, overwhelmed with debt, thinks more about obtaining money than of naval or military glory. Seeing how troublesome it is to contend with the multitude, there is every appearance that he will yield to it, though there is no certainty that the multitude will grant him what he expects.
In the mean time an envoy has been sent to the Prince of Orange, arousing the suspicions of Colbert, who told me he had received an intimation that as the war had produced results unanticipated by the English government and involving exceptional danger, the king proposed to avert greater mischief by making the best peace he could. I therefore conclude that necessity and the embarrassment of the English ministry rather than love of peace, induce them to recommend it, and that it may be made when least expected, unless the obstinacy of the Dutch cools the pacific bias of his Britannic Majesty.
London, the 15th December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Dec. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
254. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
If the external demonstrations of the whole Court are borne out by sincere respect for the duchess of York, her reception will be better than was expected, by reason of the rooted prejudice of the people against her religion. The queen went to visit her in state and the king is frequently with her, showing particular esteem. No one of quality in London has failed to kiss her hand. The foreign ministers have all offered their congratulations at public audiences, the Spanish ambassador alone having delayed doing so until to-morrow. I hope that I have furthered the republic's interests with their Highnesses; the duke assured me of his partiality for the Signory and his obligation for the compliments.
With regard to ceremonial the queen went to visit the duchess mother who sat on the tabouret. This honour is not accorded to any of the English duchesses, who avoid such rencounters. The mother also sits at the side of the duke's table on a chair like that of their royal Highnesses. The ambassadors have not yet paid their respects in her own apartment, although the French one offered to do so once for all.
Prince Rinaldo does not appear at the duke's table, being served in his own apartment. He still scruples to allow the English peers to place themselves on his right when they visit him, after having disputed the title of “Excellency,” so that now no one approaches him. They do not choose to follow the example of Lord Stafford, who, as the prince's apartment is in St. James's palace, considers it the house of the duke of York and not of the prince, to whom he says he conceded the right hand in the house of a third person.
As a matter of fact very little attention is paid to ceremonial at the English Court. They do not lay much stress on it; but it is reported that the prince wants the cardinal's hat, without depending either on Spain or France and is trying to get himself nominated by the queen of England, a step for which the present moment seems very ill chosen.
Two days ago, when I had begun to confer with Arlington in his bed chamber, we were interrupted by the duke of York, who came to visit him; so there was an end of private discussion. But I told Arlington of the treatment of the English sailors at Zante, pointing out the evil intentions of those who try to make mischief by their statements. He began to tell me that Sir [Thomas] Higgons had been licensed by his Majesty, was supplied with money for his despatch and commissioned to go to Venice and cultivate the best possible understanding between the two states. He had no time to say more, but unless I am much mistaken they are sensible of the misbehaviour of the English captain over the Sta Giustina and of the justice done in favour of the sailors at Zante and will accordingly do their best to cut short discussion and forget the past.
But Arlington shows less moderation in his dealings with the Ambassador Fresno, although at the moment England has no call for a quarrel with Spain. He heaps complaint on complaint about the capture of a single vessel, said by them to be English, whereas the Spanish ambassador produces a long list of Spanish ships captured by the English during the present war.
Dodington, late resident at Venice, died last week (fn. 1) . I mention this because of the special merit which he had claimed for himself.
London, the 15th December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Dec. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
255. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The government is brought to such a state of confusion that the king calls a cabinet council for the purpose of not listening to it; and the ministers hold forth in it so as not to be understood. Thus there is an end of that mutual understanding which is so necessary, above all at the present crisis. The king is aware of the animosities of his ministers and accordingly distrusts them, relying solely on his own judgment. They on their side, suspicious of his Majesty, will not unbosom themselves; indeed they cannot do so as they are certain of being betrayed since they publish each others' opinions; so secrecy and freedom of speech, the necessary bases of cabinet councils, are abolished. They seek to please the people and parliament, by which they believe themselves liable to be called to account, in preference to serving the king, who does not know how to rule them and does not choose to protect them.
Every evening of late the Council has sat to consider whether it was advisable to prorogue parliament for two months, and in the mean time attempt to obtain peace, or smoothe the difficulties about the money grant. Arlington alone ventured to suggest this, as the only means of saving the king from his difficulties. Buckingham and the treasurer intimated that if parliament found the war to be necessary they would grant the king sufficient funds, both of them seeking, at one blow, to break the French alliance and Arlington's neck. In the end they decided to assemble parliament.
The king, for his honour, would wish for better success in his war against the Dutch; but he is even more anxious to get money for his own need. Accordingly by saddling parliament with the onus of a precipitate peace he apparently aims at getting ready money for himself, declining that of France as insufficient for the war.
His Majesty does not calculate amiss if he succeeds in getting the money after breaking with France and making peace with Holland. But possibly all this may not suffice and parliament may demand further concessions, just as they did of his father.
In the meantime the king remains free, to the alarm of Colbert, who will stay on here. He is extremely afraid of parliament, especially as Prince Rupert is determined to accuse the French of misconduct in the last campaign; and Colbert of not allowing d'Estrées to come to London to justify himself, as he wished; all impartial Englishmen supporting him.
A matter of great consequence is the audience that Fresno had of the king yesterday evening which lasted an hour. He hinted to his Majesty the necessity for the queen of Spain to comply with Article 20 of the offensive alliance with the Dutch. (fn. 2) It is impossible to discover what conditions he proposed or what offices he performed on behalf of the Dutch; or what time he gave the king to accept. It appears that in case of refusal he was to declare war.
They flattered themselves here that the emperor, being occupied with Poland, and Spain weary of the indiscreet demands of the United Provinces and of their aversion to peace, the alliance would grow cool and her Catholic Majesty would decline to compromise herself further at the risk of being left in the lurch in the next campaign. If war is declared the opposite will happen, but well informed persons tell me that Spain has no wish to wage it and merely seeks by these bravadoes to encourage the faction in parliament and thus facilitate peace.
Mean time the Dutch, to avoid irritating the king, are holding back their answer to his reply to their first letters, he having declared that a paper war was unseemly, and indeed it might damage him even more in the eyes of his turbulent subjects. But with regard to the peace I feel sure that both the king and the Dutch listen to it on compulsion and the Spaniards, who talk most about war, are least of all inclined to wage it.
London, the 22nd December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Dec. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
256. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Preparations had been made for a ballet at the Court with musical interludes in French, and the performance was fixed for last Tuesday evening when everything was suddenly postponed. This was due to a punctilio of the English duchesses. Not being conceded the tabouret opposite the queen they refuse even to be present when the duchess of Modena is seated thereon. This agrees with their quitting the queen's chamber when the duchess of Modena seats herself. Accordingly she does not frequent it; but she observed audibly that they might well allow her to take precedence seeing they were subjects born, whereas she, in her own territories, raised money without parliament.
The ballet will be performed none the less and the duchess will be present under protest that in that place there is no precedence. As a fact there is not, for every one is seated, except those within the queen's circle, beyond which the duchesses very often place themselves.
The Ambassador Colbert, after asking the duchess of Modena to appoint an hour for audience, failed to avail himself of it when granted. As it is supposed that he acted thus to avoid meeting the Spanish ambassador who was going at the same time to audience of the duchess of York, the duchess of Modena has not called him to account. Some say it is because she will return through France, others because she knows that Colbert is too firmly seated to admit the validity of all her pretensions. No other ministers have seen her, but I do not neglect the opportunities afforded at Court of paying attention to this princess who always speaks highly of the republic and the glory of the late war (fn. 3) . I observe a like method with Prince Rinaldo, to avoid being the only minister to compliment him. He amuses himself by seeing the London sights, and they all talk of returning soon to Italy.
M. d'Anjou is about to leave for France. He expects a handsome present from this Court for the service rendered by him in this affair.
The appearance of peace calms the mental agitation of the duchesses of York and Modena; but the truth is that when once in harbour and that the king has no longer need of parliament, their case becoming one of religion without further reference to politics, they will always find fire under the ashes. The late chancellor continues to blow the coals in order that by a new marriage the king may exclude the popery imported by the duke of York. In the mean time the king, when urged by the duchess mother to allow her daughter to have her chapel, replied that it was inexpedient to draw upon himself the popular hatred at this moment. Thus after constantly disobliging the Catholics, the probable result will be that he completely fails to satisfy the rapacity of these indiscreet zealots.
The disturbances in Scotland are caused by the Presbyterians there. I enclose Lauderdale's speech which has only just appeared. There are upwards of twenty charges against him, so after hastening away from here to avoid impeachment by the English parliament, he met with worse treatment from that of Scotland.
London, the 22nd December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.257. Speech of the Duke of Lauderdale on the 12th November, 1673 (fn. 4) .
[English.]
Dec. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
258. Giovanni Giacomo Corniani, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
A resolution has been taken in France to impose a double gabelle upon foreign goods and particularly upon cloth from these parts. A great quantity of goods of this character has been exported into France, on passage and it went to Cales without paying duty as being destined for England and I also fancy that they were exempt from any charges at that mart, an advantage which was not enjoyed by the goods of the country itself. For this reason the quantity of foreign goods that gathered there was greater and moreover a large part of these, under this cover, was distributed about the kingdom itself, defrauding the gabelles. Tn the decree now issued they have added a special and very heavy charge upon every bale of foreign goods which shall be imported into France for passage to England. This second decree hits them harder than the first because by this way they proposed here to remedy to a great extent the injury inflicted by the edict of the British king because there is no difficulty in finding ways for introducing such merchandise clandestinely into that island from Cales, possibly with even more ease than by sending them direct by sea. It is certain that the whole community of those interested here lament that all the fates seem to have conspired together for the destruction of these unfortunate Arts of wool and silk, which in other days were powerful enough to wage war on the whole world.
Florence, the 23rd December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Dec. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
259. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Among all their expedients that of detaching the British king from his union with the Most Christian is gaining greatly in their estimation. To this end they have encouraged the parliamentarians in their opposition to the war. If this does not suffice for the attainment of their end, then, out of a vote for a million which was decided upon these last days, there will be transmitted considerable sums to London for the introduction of a treaty with the king himself with the same object of dissolving the partnership. The rest of the money will be divided between Catalonia and Germany.
Madrid, the 28th December, 1673.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
260. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As Lord Arlington is tied to his chair by gout I took advantage of a spare hour to visit him in order to get a more lively idea of his anxieties in the present crisis. Being more communicative from depression of spirits he would be more likely to let out a secret. I had no difficulty in getting him to talk. He told me he thought the world would find it strange that the Spaniards, who had never offered England their friendly mediation, should secretly league with Holland and then present themselves as peacemakers by means of an armed interference, threatening war if the king refuses the law which, in plain English, Holland, his open enemy, chooses to dictate to him. He went on to say that the first paragraph of the memorial presented by Fresno dilated on the zeal of the emperor who sought to oppose French usurpation by means of a league with Holland. It implies that Spain has been persuaded to do the like and that she offers peace immediately by virtue of the 20th article of the treaty. The conditions were: to strike to the king's flag, to await the mutual restitution of places and prizes captured outside Europe and the disbursement of 800,000 patacoons (fn. 5) ; as if the king ought instantly to content himself with the submission of the Dutch to his flag, without closely binding them to it, or that it were possible for him to give account of places and prizes that had changed hands a hundred or a thousand times. Still less would it become him to accept 200,000l. and consign to oblivion the question of the fisheries, or allow his subjects to perish in Surinam and forget the Indian trade. It was evident that the Spaniards, with the cry of peace, sought to beguile parliament into compelling the king to break with France. Spain was so passionately attached to the cause of Holland as to make war, no longer like a sovereign, sword in hand, but treacherously and by stirring up rebellion in England, a policy used by potentates only in extreme cases. This warrants the expectation that, after trampling on international law and breaking faith, they will go the length of attempting the lives of individual princes for public causes, the Spanish method being tantamount to arming the people of England, who have already exercised the right of beheading their king.
While Arlington was talking to me thus he betrayed the deepest distress, possibly because of the danger in which he imagines himself. He also told me that he suspected Spain would make reprisals on English property, although the treaty forbad such a proceeding until six months after the declaration of war. The king, adopting the means required by statesmanship, found an expedient in the accompanying reply, of which Arlington gave me a copy, believing that it would deter Spain from giving the pledges on which the Dutch insist, for the sake of saddling the Catholic with the whole war. The emperor could neither risk more nor gain more without causing jealousy to the princes of the empire. Montecucoli had acted with moderation, not allowing himself to be led into France by the United Provinces. In conclusion he expressed the fear that the alliance with France might be broken and the king's word scouted by parliament. This apprehension is shared by Colbert, it being evident that the king's zeal has cooled and that the partisans of France are alarmed, as they now declare themselves against the alliance.
I have also seen the Spanish ambassador who told me that the Dutch had made great offers. The truth is that the States were so elate and the Spaniards so sanguine about the result of this project of theirs (or rather of the Baron Lisola, the oracle consulted by Spain, contrary to the maxim of the country which eschews the advice of foreigners) that as superiors they thought they might dispense with the other concessions demanded by England, and by the strength and success of their alliance, dictate the law to this bewildered crown.
Fresno himself is embarrassed by the speedy and stringent reply given by the king of England. He knows it to be the work of Colbert, who seeks to secure himself by making the king declare his decision to abide by the mediation of Sweden, which, contrary to the wish of Spain, does not exclude the Most Christian from the treaty of peace. Fresno hoped to have time to swell the ranks of the enemies of the French alliance, whilst the king was discussing his reply. He is even more disturbed to see that the Dutch will urge Spain to wage a war for which she is not now prepared and may not even be inclined towards, as they have heard here that the queen threatens war to please Holland, but does not wish for it at any price.
Opinions about the policy of Spain are various. Some say that she thinks of detaching England from France solely in order to humble the Most Christian and to compel the Dutch to make peace; others that by war she expects to recover what is lost and to confine the Most Christian to Paris. But such a grandiose project seems ill suited to the present minority of the king.
London, the 29th December, 1673.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.261. The King's Reply given to the Ambassador Fresno. Dated at Whitehall, the 16th December, 1673 (fn. 6) . [English.]
Dec. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
262. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
To contradict the reports in circulation about a fresh prorogation of parliament the king issued a proclamation, dated the 10th December summoning the members to assemble on the 7th January, the date to which parliament was prorogued. The king expects in this way to gain popularity and to show the necessity for war, as the Dutch are averse from peace and he thinks he is justified in expecting speedy pecuniary supply. The arguments which he proposes to advance are so far unknown. He has not communicated them and the ministers do not venture to offer any suggestion. The king has to squeeze them for an hour before he can elicit a single word, their chief maxim being silence.
All loyal subjects hope that the king will meet with difficulties and extravagant demands on the part of parliament, so as to compel him to dismiss it and exercise such authority as may extirpate the present troubles. But for the last fifty years a struggle has been going on between the sword, which is wielded by the king, and the purse, which is in the hands of the people, who are on the winning side, and, having no bridle, make the more way. So it is doubtful whether the king would do well to exasperate the country by dissolving parliament, which is composed of desperate characters who will take oath to be revenged.
There is another even greater misfortune. The king has no heirs. The most moderate of the politicians suggest marrying the duke of York's daughter to the Prince of Orange, to secure the succession, meaning to exclude the duke of York and his future family, as Papists. Others propose to elect six regents who by degrees would reduce themselves to one single tyrant, for the English, by nature and by the constitution of the present government, are incapable of adapting themselves to a moderate and methodical republic. The people have begun to enjoy disorder and they delight in the hope of profiting by confusion. In order to humour them yet more the king has recently forbidden the Catholics to enter either the park or the palace of St. James, the residence of the duke of York, declaring that the whole is dependent on Whitehall. Thus he disobliges the Catholic party more and more, while he is uncertain of gaining their adversaries.
Under these circumstances the duchess of York is unable to render herself popular, the less so as, not understanding the national character, she fails to propitiate the people by courtesy or generosity. As she has opened a door in her private chapel at St. James', the agitators propose to complain about this in parliament.
The projects of Prince Rinaldo having been divulged, the public took the liberty of ridiculing and lampooning them, to the disgust of the whole of the Italian retinue. Peterborough and d'Anjou moreover complain of not having been rewarded for their share in the marriage. Motives for dissatisfaction and rancour multiply daily.
London, the 29th December, 1673.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 According to a letter from Thomas Derham he died as the result of a carouse at the “Bear” in Leadonhall Street. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1673–5, page 44.
2 The supplementary article by which Spain undertook to declare war on England if the efforts to bring about an accommodation with the Dutch should fail. Dumont: Corps Diplomatique, Vol. VII, pt. i, page 212.
3 i.e. the war of Candia.
4 There is a copy in S.P. Dom. Car, II, 337, No. 185. See Calendar 1673–5, pages 15–7, for an abstract.
5 A silver dollar current in the Spanish Netherlands, worth about 3 francs.
6 The text of the reply in Dutch is printed in Aitzema and Bos: Historien onses Tyds, pages 709–10.