Venice
November 1674

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

Pages

305-317

Annotate

Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Venice: November 1674', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 305-317. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90379 Date accessed: 18 September 2014.


Highlight

(Min 3 characters)

November 1674

1674.
Nov. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
400. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king returned to London on Saturday and on Monday he went to visit the queen at Hampton Court, omitting no external snow of civility that might demonstrate his esteem for her. Contrary to her usual custom, stifling the pangs of jealousy by which she is tormented, her Majesty made an effort to amuse herself during the whole of this last season with hunting and dancing. Last evening she returned unwillingly to London, where the customary freedoms of the king and even more the flaunting of his mistresses dispirit her and render her incapable of disguising her sorrows by any sort of indifference. Her malady increases daily and is incurable and she has lost the hope of such reconciliation as might be obtained through offspring, her bed having been deserted these many months by the king.
Last evening the Dutch ambassadors, Reede and Van Harem terminated their final audiences by taking leave of the queen. They asked for a promise that she would urge the king to maintain the good understanding with the States, adding that the prince of Orange was impatient for the peace in order that he may come to London. Odik expresses himself much more clearly on this last point, but without help from Van Beuninghen, who remains here in a separate dwelling as the representative of the United Provinces, whereas Odik, in a way, assumes the role of serving the prince of Orange.
Efforts are being made to form a party of ministers well affected to the prince of Orange, at the head of which Arlington places himself; but he is unable to enlist any of the dependents of the duke of York who cannot yet reconcile himself to the negotiation for the marriage. To remove his jealousy they propose to suspend all negotiations until after the delivery of the duchess, as if she had a son all female claims to inherit would be shut out, including Orange's, even if he should marry the duke's eldest daughter, the cause of these jealousies. This half measure does not satisfy the duke and it is of no use even to the prince, who requires an immediate prop to enable him to resist his enemies after the peace.
Orange himself informs the cabinet that the United Provinces are hastening the peace. They are now considering an embassy to Spain to represent to the government there that another campaign would probably do less for peace than treaties, which might be made during the winter. I am also told that they declare themselves unable and unwilling to bear the burden of the war any longer. From this it may be inferred that Spain will of necessity consent to the treaties.
Monterey says that the allies can more easily spare ten men than the Most Christian can one. By not persisting they will lose what they and the league have spent, as only conquests could compensate for the expenditure. He pretends that the emperor has made sufficient amends by removing Susa from his command and this should satisfy Orange, who makes him no answer. In the mean time the prince has sent an express here to announce the surrender of Grave, to show his prowess. (fn. 1)
In imitation of the Dutch, Monterey has repealed the prohibition against French wines. On this these prejudiced English remark that his successor will have one fault less to correct. But actually he is thinking solely of himself and lets everything go to ruin, while he no longer talks of sending the envoy hither.
Extraordinary agitation prevails at the Court as this is the moment for deciding the future policy of the government. As practically all the ministers think it wise policy to second parliament and to get clear of France they propose to welcome Orange so that the Most Christian may side with the States, against whom it would then be easy to exasperate this nation and thus divide if not utterly destroy the United Provinces who are considered dangerous neighbours.
The Swedish resident has announced the arrival of Wrangel in Pomerania and his king's order to Oxenstern to speak in strong terms at Vienna. By this means they expect to remove the impediments to the peace negotiations.
London, the 2nd November, 1674.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
401. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
All impartial persons, not only the Catholics, approve of my not having attempted to release the chaplain by clamour or Court favour. The animosity of the people has been partially appeased by his patience and submission to the law. I gave up all thought of claiming him as my dependent there being too many instances of the gross violation of ambassadorial privileges. Every one here disapproved of my requesting his release as a favour because it would have exposed all priests to danger, the foreign ministers to abusive practice and the inconvenience of constantly asking for fresh pardons and the king to the reproach of granting them. The propensity of the people here to mortify foreign ministers and to multiply the quarrels between the king and parliament is monstrous. I also gave up the idea of buying the gaolers and keys of the prison lest it should encourage them to take another prisoner who would have been worse treated. Our sole object is to obtain a public trial in order to save the other priests, satisfying the mob by appearances. If it has fallen to your Serenity's minister to toil for others it serves to exalt the republic's character for piety. The queen said to a friend of mine last evening that all good Catholics were bound to pray for the Signory because of this proceeding and to set a good example she herself would thank me at the first opportunity.
After many consultations with the lawyers the chaplain was provided with all possible arguments for his defence. As the ordinary bench appointed to try him was not of the highest intelligence and a body of them tainted (contaminate), being mean and ignorant fellows, we were glad that they referred the case to the King's Bench, composed of none but men thoroughly acquainted with the law and incapable of misconstruing it either from passion or ignorance. We hope to obtain an acquittal which will be the better from the high character of the Court while the populace will be gratified in proportion to the sensation caused. This will help to make the priests more secure, as when every one knows that it is difficult if not impossible to convict, no one will accuse them. Today is the first of the term in the Court and next term sentence may possibly be passed. I spare no exertion for a good result in accordance with the instructions in the ducali of the 29th September and for the service and honour of the state.
London, the 2nd November, 1674.
[Italian.]
Nov. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
402. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters. Enclose what has been received from Messina about the capture of an English ship by a pirate. For the rest the Senate rejoices at the decision of the noble Gerolamo Venier to cross over to see that country, because from such an experience he will, with his acuteness, render himself the more distinguished and fruitful for the service of his country.
Ayes, 85. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
Nov. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
403. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassadors Reed and Van Haren departed, but were driven back by contrary winds. At the same time orders arrived from the States for the return of Van Beuninghen and Odik as they propose to appoint an ambassador in ordinary for London. All four complain in unison of the partiality shown by the king for France. They have been unable to persuade him either to join their league or to listen to any separate treaty, despite all their offers. Many of the ministers are warm in favour of France. They maintain that it would show too great weakness in the king if by a voluntary act he confirmed his breach of promise although parliament had forced him to be guilty of it, and it would be unjust to unite for the ruin of a monarch merely because he is great and glorious. Others, supported by the populace and parliament, rejoin that the Most Christian is indeed too great and glorious to be allowed any increase and it is the interest of England and his neighbours to humble him. His Majesty is combated by these conflicting opinions, but avoiding extremes according to his wont he will be guided by circumstances. Thus he always leaves it to time and chance to settle his most important affairs.
In the mean time strong factions are being formed in the Court and there never was so much fuel seen on the hearth. The Presbyterians, through their leaders, are parleying with Lauderdale. They promise parliament's compliance with the king's wishes if he will detach himself from France, still betraying the fear that with her aid he proposes to introduce absolute monarchy in England and to re-establish the Catholic faith. The leaders themselves know very well that no such danger exists but their object is to captivate the people and thus obtain credit for their future undertakings, gaining the point against the king, from, whom they expect reward for their present moderation.
Lauderdale who has no need of any fresh disturbances, would like to secure this faction and speaks about it daily to the duke of York, with whom he acts in concert, but the duke does not trust the offers particularly as they entail the necessity of satisfying the prince of Orange about the marriage, from which he is still averse.
Such is the troubled state of domestic affairs. Yet no pains are spared for mediating the peace though without deviating in the least from the partiality of obligation professed towards France, which, if dispensed with might so greatly quiet the suspicions of the allies.
Great hopes are placed in the Swedish army that it may compel the empire to treat, but on the other hand, while it was supposed that the protests of the Dutch in favour of peace might take effect on Spain, it is now suspected that they merely aim at selling themselves at a higher price to the allies, easing themselves of the contributions for the war, though they would like it to go on if it could be waged at the risk and cost of others, so that they might take their revenge on the Most Christian.
The English government, in short, lives in an atmosphere of suspicion and the news of Monterey's confirmation as governor of Flanders makes them despair of a good understanding with Spain.
Repeated complaints have been made to Monterey about the Ostend corsairs who often capture English vessels. But Locard in Paris has been ordered not to insist on the punishment of the French corsair who took a ship under English colours, as Ruvigni prevailed on the ministers not to make complaints at this juncture.

The ducali of the 6th October reached me six days ago, but Secretary Coventry who is charged with the affairs of Venice, being confined to his bed by gout, I have not yet had an opportunity of obeying the Signory's commands.
When it was expected that the judges of the King's Bench would decide the case of the accused chaplain, they washed their hands of it, saying that an inferior Court could not compel them to undertake any trial. From the very first all the parties have shifted the embarrassment from one to the other and I no longer know what course to pursue to arrive at a favourable result; but I will act in accordance with the Senate's orders.
London, the 8th November, 1674.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
404. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
This is not the first time that I have said that the king takes counsel solely from accidents, omitting such precautions as keep a government together. His partisans blame the British constitution in which the popular element predominates too much. Wise men prove that the laws of this country are more favourable than those of any other for the maintenance of the royal authority. They give the crown an ample share in the distribution of favours, the right to interpret the laws in the matter of punishment and full power to remit any sentence passed on a population which is humble in spirit under the lash and insupportable in its license. So it is evident that the fault is with the incapacity or venality of the ministers. This seems only too well proved by facts, for the king never had the courage to dismiss the ministers whom he found at the helm on his restoration, nor yet their successors who followed one another like a halter made up of many strands which are always united. The consequence is that these men are now ungratefully bent on depressing the royal authority lest some day, when roused, it establish itself to the utter exclusion of those treacherous practices, whereby they now thrust themselves into the government and influence.
At this moment every closet rings with remarks of this sort, owing to a sudden decision of the Court about the affairs of the prince of Orange from which it is argued that fresh troubles are overhanging England, for with governments one false step always brings others as a consequence. It has been discovered that the prince is forming confidential relations with the Most Christian, who promises his support in this matter abroad, and in Holland that of the Lowenstein faction which will secure him in the post he now holds, in time of peace, because he has an army at his command. The English ministry is panic stricken by this from fear of some treaty being made that might prove fatal to the country.
Orange pretends that he has been insulted by the Imperialists who have often deserted him in action and always thwarted his plans. He is irritated by the vindications of Susa who exhibits letters from Prince Lobkovitz giving orders in conformity with those executed. It is not only these public declarations which point to an agreement with the Most Christian for it is known that the prince aims at gaining the good will of the States to whom he could not render a greater service than by reconciling them to France as they are convinced that they were wrong in exasperating the Most Christian by their arrogance, when disasters might have been averted by humility. Henceforth they will prefer to be tormented by jealousy rather than be burned in war.
This is the fear of the English who believe that by dearly bought experience Holland has learned not to undertake the defence of her neighbours out of vanity and is therefore too wise to embarrass herself again for the Spaniards or others near at hand. So the ministers here suspect that the Provinces, giving up the ambitious project of keeping the balance of Northern Europe, will resume the ancient union with France if not their ancient dependence. That country cannot ruin them because their greatness is based on commerce and navigation towards which it is not inclined. This is the point which touches England to the quick, because when once this lesson brings Holland back to her former moderation her navigation and trade will revive thoroughly and by thrift and industry she will deprive England of both.
To avert such harmony between the Provinces and France the king has decided to send to the Hague the earls of Arlington and Ossory, who both have Dutch wives. (fn. 2) The public pretext given for this mission is that they may negotiate the marriage of Orange to the duke of York's eldest daughter. The secret instructions charge them to deter the prince from the negotiations with France. But it is to be hoped first that they may not arrive too late and second that Orange, finding himself with the best cards in his hand and having rendered England pliant by his vigorous policy, may not prove obstinate, being a young man of first impressions, and do his worst. Some here who consider themselves the best informed say that such are the results of ill timed resolves and that as Holland has been rendered wise by time and Orange is aware of his strength England can expect nothing but trouble.
It is also supposed that to finish his game, Orange is in correspondence with the Presbyterians here, fomenting the jealousy of Catholicism and keeping the kingdom divided; taking his revenge also on the duke of York who is not loved by the Dutch in general nor by Orange on account of the jealousy over the succession. Neither is Arlington of those most attached to the duke, and seeking to win popularity in Holland after deserving so ill of her by taking the part of France, he will try to gain favour with the Dutch by telling them among other things that he induced the king to repeal the act of indulgence.
I now record a great project on foot for the purpose of countermining the intrigues of the United Provinces and at the same time regulating the internal affairs of this country which are also in a confused state. The people have already been invited to ponder the practice of the Dutch, who admit every religion to entice persons of all creeds to their territory, and their efforts to monopolise trade which will succeed whenever they have a real union with France. It is hinted that the remedy, without shedding blood and one that would draw money from every quarter to England, is to grant liberty of conscience when foreigners would flock to England. By enabling them to purchase landed property estates would increase in value, not only from being cultivated but from the facility of selling them. A good official register would be kept of both sales and mortgages to relieve purchasers of any apprehension about the employment of their money, and lastly London would be made a free port, the king being assigned other revenues in lieu of the customs which amount to over 55,000l. a month.
By these means they hope not only to lure all the Dutch, who feel the inconvenience of their ports, the heavy taxation and the narrowness of their territory, but also to remedy the lack of population here, for the cultivation of the soil and consumption of its produce, to extend English trade and, what matters more, to tranquillise the people and unite them which will never be the case until all men either adopt one religion or enjoy liberty of conscience.
The last evening I was visiting one of the leaders of the Presbyterians. Some twenty of them came to his house and from a closet there he allowed me to listen to the arrangements being made by them for the support of these projects, as they also suffer from the penal statutes. If the duke of York has the skill and good fortune to get this affair well under weigh he will find other friends to follow the example of the Presbyterians and by seizing the opportunity overcome those difficulties which are only increased and rendered insuperable by the use of open force.
London, the 16th November, 1674.
[Italian.]
Nov. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
405. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Gout had nailed Arlington to his bed for two days, but he took courage and embarked on Tuesday last with the Ambassador Odik, the earl of Ossory and Lord Latimer, all England looking on. There are various opinions about the reasons for these movements, but information from all quarters agrees with what I wrote last week.
The suspicion of an impending agreement between the Provinces and France is increased by three journeys made by Estrades, governor of Maastricht, who went to Holland incognito. So far as I can gather the negotiations are on the following footing: the States realise the unhappy consequences of following the advice of de Witt who, from treachery or ambition persuaded them to espouse the cause of their neighbours and to try to stop the progress of the Most Christian. They have decided, after so costly an experiment, to resume their ancient alliance with France. They therefore approve of the negotiations of Orange who, under the protection of the Most Christian, reinstates the Lowenstein faction. As the republic's benefactor he expects for the future to be helped by that party to retain possession of his dignities, of which they had previously deprived him from a jealousy which he flatters himself is now entirely eradicated and thinks he can henceforth trust himself in their hands.
France satisfied with having chastised the arrogance of Holland, prefers to have her as a friend that she may compete with England, rather than witness her destruction, as the Most Christian has no rivalry with the Provinces about trade or anything else. So he accepts the offers of Orange especially for the purpose of breaking up the alliance and dominating Spain and the affairs of the empire.
Such are the motives and conditions of the agreement and some say that it is already concluded and that Orange only delays its publication to justify himself with the Spaniards, for appearance's sake. But if Arlington and his colleagues arrive in time they will try to persuade the prince not to desert the Spaniards who form the bulwark of the United Provinces, which had suffered so much on their account and needed only a little more labour to perfect the work and establish a solid peace to secure which they had lavished so much blood and treasure. They will also tell the prince that it is dangerous for him to revive the Lowenstein faction and put himself in their hands. They had shown themselves ungrateful to the memory of his ancestors and would be his own irreconcileable enemy, their object being republican liberty which is incompatible with the dignities he holds.
Thus by blandishment and promises they will try to thwart such confidential relations as Holland might seek to establish with France, though it is not believed that they will offer Orange the hand of the duke's daughter who does not favour the alliance. As Arlington is accompanied by Lord Latimer, whose father the treasurer is of the contrary party and entirely dependent on York, it is supposed that he will have been ordered to watch Arlington's proceedings at close quarters, as they do not trust him entirely.
In this state of agitation does England now find herself, awaiting the need for sudden changes. A great minister said to me with a smile that the quarrel had been begun by France and Holland whose spirits entered into Spain and England causing them to make the most violent contortions. Now they are shattered, like bodies out of which devils have been cast. If the present negotiations with the Presbyterians succeed and they allow themselves to be won over to the king's side, the parallel will be improved. It has been suggested to them to hold a conference with the bishops, of whom twelve are to be appointed for the reconciliation of their opinions. But while the Presbyterians desire this to free themselves from the persecution to which they are subjected as Nonconformists, the bishops, headed by Winchester and Salisbury, oppose the measure, not solely from religious zeal but because they know that once the Presbyterians are admitted they will, by their wealth and intelligence obtain the distribution of church preferment, to the exclusion of the Protestants. The bishops therefore preach to the effect that they cannot understand how the king should wish to encourage the union of the Nonconformists, as it would be more politic to divide and confound them. It is the bishops who oppose the project for liberty of conscience, being aware of the steady diminution in the number of the Protestants.
The lawyers cavil at the institution of a register for the entry of all purchases or sales of landed property, as their vintage would be at an end if a good method was adopted for the prevention of law suits. Pernickety persons suspect that the proposal to suppress the customs and to assign other funds to the king is a trap whereby to get so flourishing a revenue out of his hands, giving him instead some other, that it may fail, when he would literally be compelled to beg his maintenance of parliament. Thus at the very outset the scheme for inviting foreigners and all the Dutch to England, falls to the ground.
London, the 23rd November, 1674.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
406. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I had hoped this week to explain to Secretary Coventry the inconveniences involved in the innovations on which the Consul Hayles insists, but the gout has prevented him from transacting any business. I did not think it to the advantage of the state to discuss the matter with others because here in London the less importance one gives to any affair the more easily it is accomplished, though I keep the question before the merchants so that in case of opportunity they may oppose the measure, as I have many friends who by no means approve of it.
I spoke to Lord Falcombridge, sometime ambassador at Venice, about the currant trade. We happened to be near the king so I got him to mention to his Majesty the facilities obtained from your Serenity for the salt fish trade and the orders issued for the good treatment of British subjects at Zante. Falcombridge bore this out having come round to my opinion that even if all the profits derived from the sale of salt fish were to be invested in currants, provided the merchants lose no capital, though they may make no profits, it is still to the advantage of the nation to encourage the trade, for the sake of the shipping, which is the chief asset of England. The king told me he had never believed the unfavourable accounts in circulation about the trade and that the merchants might well be satisfied to leave a good part of the money derived from the sale of salt fish for the purchase of currants. He confessed to me that he was aware that there was a remarkable quantity of other sorts of goods that were sent to Venice from England.
But all this will not revive the trade unless the merchants are convinced of its advantage. So the state would do well to listen to the petitions and make some resounding regulation to attract them, especially by facilitating the sale of salt fish. The merchants think themselves aggrieved by the art of the salters, and when the exportation of salt fish from here to Venice is doubled the English will take more goods for the returns and more currants from Zante.
In accordance with the ducali of the 26th October I am doing my best to arrange the affair of the Venetian glass. With regard to trade and the wealth this nation derives therefrom I may say that the 100l. shares of the Guinea Company which was re-founded barely two years ago are already selling at the price of 150l. The duke of York who advocated the re-establishment of this company in the cabinet and set an example by investing his own capital in it, told me that their expectations were so high that none of the proprietors would sell their shares. But if the Dutch make peace with France, English trade will prosper less. It has never been so brisk in London as since the reconciliation with the United Provinces, from whom and from the French this country has carried it off completely.
The Board of Trade is occupying itself about the trade between this country and France, where England is supposed to leave much capital. They purchase for hard cash without any exchange of goods, wines, silks, druggets and textiles. But as parliament showed some concern about this matter it may possibly be discussed next session. On Tuesday last the two Houses met according to the usual formality, as they were prorogued until the 10th November. They will not meet again before the 13th April next.
London, the 23rd November, 1674.
[Italian.]
Nov. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti,
Venetian
Archives.
407. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
The Senate rejoices at the prospect of a happy issue in the matter of the chaplain. It commends his action and is glad that it met with the approval of the queen. He is to continue to act forbearance until the very end of the business and to send his report thereon in due course.
Ayes, 137. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Nov. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Archives.
408. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Concerning the negotiations with Spaar. Representations are constantly being made to him that the royal intentions be not delayed. They seem to want that crown to be pledged to their side in arms rather than neutral to negotiate a peace. It may be that they believe that they can afterwards unite it with England to limit to the others those conditions which the Spaniards wanted to have limited to France.
The Ambassador Locard, whom I often see, was at this house the day before yesterday. He told me that his king would always have a sincere intention for the good of all with a particular desire to achieve an issue satisfactory to the parties. He had offered mediation with this sole object, and from the manner in which it would be conducted the princes concerned would be able to recognise how much he had at heart the boon of peace between all. He touched adroitly upon the condition that had been put in the consent to the mediation but he also made me aware that it was sufficient for his king to be considered and that he did not shut out the possible nomination of many others with whom he would always be very glad to confer in order to procure in concert the quiet that has become necessary for every one. He told me that he had some conferences with the Sieur di Pompona but that precise instructions upon the form to be observed had not yet reached him from London. He thought that the most difficult thing would be the choice of the place. London was a long way from Madrid and Vienna and too near this side. If the negotiations were conducted at one of the three Courts, Vienna, Paris or Madrid the ministers who were appointed to negotiate could not carry on their work without showing more partiality for the party at hand than for the distant one. It would not prove so easy a matter to get them to agree upon a place which was not altogether remote from every suspicion and where they could observe the forms which had been in use at Cologne. The minister pointed out that peace was become equally necessary for Spain and for France. Both crowns were becoming increasingly aware that the demands of arms were constantly increasing and the prejudice becoming greater. He intimated that the affairs of Messina would not have reached their present state if the Spaniards had not shown themselves somewhat obstinate in their wish to hold up the negotiations upon the supposition that they could force the Most Christian to agree to those conditions to which they pretend here that they will not even listen, much less agree to as being too prejudicial and indecorous to the position in which this crown at present finds itself.
To-day this minister is to proceed to the Court, I suppose in order to see how firings are going, whether Sweden will be considered and if a third may be admitted with the crowns.
Paris, the 28th November, 1674.
[Italian.]
Nov. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
409. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Court is extraordinarily anxious for news of the result of Arlington's negotiations in Holland. They are afraid that the prince of Orange may declare himself French. The Spaniards maintain that he will conclude nothing without their consent. This is the last hope of entering on a treaty of mediation for a general peace. All the advices agree that Holland is treating with France, but if an alliance is formed between them it will not be so easy to make peace for Spain and the agreement for the empire, especially if the declaration of Sweden is confirmed. Confused accounts have arrived of Wrangel's invasion of the territories of the elector of Brandenburg. The Danish envoy believes this and states clearly that if Sweden declares for France his king will be unable to delay fulfilling the treaties with Brandenburgh and he would be seconded by Holland. This is all that is said publicly about the present emergencies.
Although it is extremely important for England to prevent Orange from, treating with France, most of the ministers hope that Arlington will fail, some because they envy him the opportunity of deserving well of his country, others because they wish the prince to lose his credit with the people utterly by attaching himself closely to the Most Christian, and to be thrust out of the line of succession in consequence. These are the duke of York's friends who in every way seek to fix the crown on him or his successors, if the king dies before him without heirs. This is the grand affair of the day in England, in which the king lends a helping hand to render his subjects unanimous; knowing that if any civil disturbance should arise or any fresh necessity for defence against neighbouring powers, he himself would be in danger while this division lasts and the crown would fall from his head.
The many and, striking proofs given by the duke of York that he is a Catholic make the people afraid of him lest he not only compel them to change their religion but also render himself an absolute monarch. The populace believes blindly that popish princes positively tyrannise and they always figure themselves as like French subjects. This is the basis of all the late events. Experience has shown that the king is averse from strong remedies and that his ministers lack either the courage or loyalty to apply them. So the new cabinet has recourse to strokes of address which I will now describe.
The duke of York finds that he was wrong in trying to unite the Protestant Church and obtain its support. The bishops are men of small talent, generally of ordinary birth and even less courage, and with scanty benefices. Accordingly they have few adherents and are but lightly esteemed. They have no experience and were never capable of preaching against the disturbances. The duke has therefore decided to sail upon another tack, allowing the leaders of the Presbyterians to approach him, whereas he has previously treated them with contempt and disdained their services, being perhaps doubtful of their loyalty.
This sect of the Presbyterians is dericed directly from the Protestant religion with the difference that it denies the ecclesiastical hierarchy. But it comprises the clearest intellects and the longest purses in the kingdom so that on every account it has a great ascendency in England. If the Court takes the Presbyterians into its confidence and gives them a taste of what is going, affairs will doubtless take another turn, this party of men of substance being preferred to a fickle faithless band of mercenaries such as those who have been the ministers and confidants of the Court since the restoration. In spite of this the king weighs the great danger of placing himself in the hands of a faction, easily elated, capable of aspiring to whatever can pervert the public mind, and too strong to be corrected or discarded when once in possession. But great evils call for extreme remedies such as that of a crown raising a faction which, in England, cannot exist without the temptation to spread itself into a republic.
Happen what may the Court has thrown the bait to the Presbyterians. It tells them they are wrong in opposing the duke's succession. He is not only the legitimate heir but practically the only one, the nearest, the best. They would be excusable if they preferred some other more acceptable prince, but they imprudently throw themselves into a fresh civil war at the risk of being devoured by their neighbours, all for the sake of avoiding what God has ordained. Beginning the sermon, in which the Presbyterians take exceptional delight, they add that the fault with which the duke is reproached by his enemies is really constancy not obstinacy. He has never broken his word; he was indefatigable for his friends; he afforded an angelic example; he was of incorruptable virtue ami preferred it to any other quality in all those he had promoted whether in Court or in the army and navy. Were God to permit him to change his religion and become a, Papist, it would be in vain for the people to dispute his right to the crown as it belonged to him by the laws. The Presbyterians in particular might hope to improve, their condition as the duke would be firm in maintaining such liberty as he might give them, whereas at present the king by his inconstancy, endangers them daily. Finally the duke is too wise to attempt to impose any religion on a nation so alert for the maintenance of its liberties. Further he is prudent and brave; he applies himself to the naval service and encourages trade, which are the foundations of England. Every one should thank God for having given them so good a prince and desire nothing but such a king for the country. These representations with other even stronger insinuations have been circulated and meet with universal approval; but matters which depend on the multitude are liable to so many perils that one knows not what to prognosticate.
In the mean time lest the bishops, whose zeal prevented them from doing any good, should do mischief from malice, the king decided to convoke and charge them to consider means for suppressing popery, to prevent them from artfully declaring that his Majesty connives at it. (fn. 3) With the remedy left in the hands of the bishops themselves, the blame will fall on them.
The question of the union of the bishops with the Presbyterians will be an affair of long digestion as the Protestants do not want any fellow guests to share with them the sweetmeat of ecclesiastical benefices and the Presbyterian leaders are quite agreed in this respect with the Court, since it is in their interest to keep themselves dependent on it, while the interest of the Court is to keep the people divided so as to rule them, in one way or another.

London, the 30th November, 1674.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 On 26th October.
2 Ossory married Amelia, eldest daughter of Henry de Beverweert, lord of Auverquerque, and of Elizabeth, daughter of the count of Horn.
3 Among the state papers there is a letter of Williamson of 31 Oct. to the archbishop of York and the bishops of Worcester, Chester and Winchester, expressing the king's wish for certain bishops to meet in London and advise him about religion and the interests of the Church and in particular what might further be necessary to be done for the preservation and security of the Protestant religion. Veil. S.P. Dom., 1673–5, page 390.