Venice
January 1675

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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330-347

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'Venice: January 1675', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 330-347. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90381 Date accessed: 29 August 2014.


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January 1675

1675.
Jan. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
421. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The baron de Bergheik arrived in London at the beginning of the week and went to Court, showing commissions direct from Spain. To carry these out he says he will remain here even after the arrival of the envoy Ronquillo, if necessary, although he also is expected within a month. It is impossible to find out what business Bergheik can have apart from Ronquillo but Lauderdale told me two evenings ago that there is now little hope of negotiating a treaty of peace.
Several ships have come from Holland with disbanded English soldiers who curse the Dutch service into which they rushed with great hopes. But Arlington cannot yet tear himself away from the prince's side, averring that he is afraid to face the contrary winds. He adds that the Provinces have confounded the Swedish ambassador by declaring themselves in favour of Brandenburg and their belief that Wrangel will not move. But nothing is discoverable about Arlington's dealings with the prince of Orange; it is merely asserted that Orange is very circumspect about accepting the offers of England or contracting intimacy with her.
The duke of York, being suspicious of Arlington's attempts, has him narrowly watched to see whether he is going on with the plan for inducing Orange to think of this crown, or whether he is negotiating some other treaty without instructions or contrary to the king's service.
Meanwhile the duke's negotiations with the nonconformists offer the fairest prospects and if the sequel corresponds with these beginnings it will prove one of the grandest affairs ever witnessed in London.
The suspicions entertained against Lauderdale have now vanished. He and the treasurer have begun to treat jointly with the bishops, the one on the pretext of saving himself from the persecution with which he is threatened by parliament, the other protesting that he prefers the Protestant religion, the service of the country and its liberties to any private interest of his own. Your Serenity must know that the bishops are just now more opposed than ever to the nonconformists and consequently to the duke of York, who is supposed to be the head of the Papists. Making a national interest of what is really religious jealousy they are trying to bring the parliament party over to their side, committing it to the defence of the liberties of the people by supporting the alleged bulwark of religion, now assailed by the nonconformists.
Lauderdale and the treasurer concur in these opinions in order to share in their counsels and do so at the instigation of the king and duke. His Highness admitted this to my friend, as a very great secret, to remove his scruples about continuing the work if it was opposed by two such powerful ministers as Lauderdale and Danby whom he suspected of being ordered to act thus by the king, without the duke's knowledge. My friend believes his Highness and without questioning the good faith of these two ministers in obeying and continuing the game in the approaching struggle, he is not afraid to pursue his task. Yesterday morning he presented to the duke a form of general pardon for the nonconformists, saying that if the king does not think fit to sign it at the present moment when the bishops are sitting for the purpose of proceeding against them, their would patiently await another opportunity. But he insists on the king standing by the pardon granted to the nonconformists of Bristol, lest the royal prerogative in this matter be invalidated; and the king and duke administered fraternal correction to the archbishop of Canterbury, who pretends that he is innocent. On the other hand my friend has persuaded some of the duke's enemies to assure him that they know the crown to be his due even if he changes his religion, to the misfortune of the kingdom; that they are glad to hear of his determination to uphold the privileges and liberties of the people and the laws of the realm; that if he would move the king to summon parliament they would combine for the purpose of giving his Majesty all just satisfaction, the suspicions of the people having been removed, particularly about the French alliance. I may add that France will perhaps be the scape goat, reserved for popular indignation, and if nothing else is done they will attack her here in the delicate matter of trade. This is all that the Most Christian will have gained by alliance with England despite the antipathy of the populace, a result which will serve him as an example for the future.
All these efforts are for the purpose of calming the people in order subsequently to obtain money, settle accounts with the bankers and pay the royal debts. But the duke cannot yet venture to have the two Houses assembled for fear that the parliamentary party together with the clergy may offer the king every satisfaction on condition that he abandons the nonconformists and the duke, whose triumph they foresee, and thus take advantage of his Majesty's extreme inconstancy. Therefore, before parliament assembles the duke intends to make sure of the power of the nonconformists and so to restrain the zeal of the bishops and the ambition of the parliamentarians that they may not scruple to allow the nonconformists to pray to God in their own fashion.
London, the 4th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
422. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After preparing several friends to oppose the new consulage at Venice I went to Secretary Coventry and told him I was sorry to hear that Sir [Thomas] Higgons had renewed the demands about the consulage when I had imagined that in consequence of the many reasons given to Consul Hayles he had abandoned the project. I told him that the merchants of Venice complain of the injury done them and the London merchants also urged me to obtain redress. As he was not acquainted with the matter I would explain it.
At the outset each ship paid 5 ducats only, raised in the time of Consul Jones to 30. He was succeeded by Hayles who demanded ½ ducat per ton. He represented to the Council of Trade here that in this way consulage would he shared in proportion to the size of ships and this would yield him nearly 2000 ducats instead of 600 which he used to get, too small a sum to maintain him suitably at Venice. In consequence of this the Council issued a decree in his favour on 23 December, 1672. but the Levant Company had always felt the detriment whilst the merchants at Venice appealed to the republic not to admit the demand, declaring that it would seriously hinder trade. I said it was unjust to burden merchandise with the consulage and Hayles only proposed to remedy the abuse by dividing it. It was even less reasonable to do this for the enrichment of an individual. To levy consulage in accordance with Hayles' plan all goods must be measured by the ton, involving a greater disproportion than reckoning by the tonnage of ships, owing to the immense difference in the value of goods. Hayles claims consulage from the republic's subjects and from others as if they were English and on goods from Spain, Portugal and everywhere else. The Senate was concerned to facilitate trade and assist Venetian subjects and it would be an anomaly to sanction a new and unprecedented charge after they had taken off import duties and reduced those on salt fish, showing in this and other matters a constant partiality for the English. Even if Hayles received only 2000 ducats, a considerable sum at Venice, the practise would turn to a monopoly through frequent consignments to his house. All impositions exacted by private persons increase with time and oppress the subject and trade. Hayles is now asking to exact consulage on imports. Next year he will want it on exports and the example will move the consuls at Zante and Cephalonia, though no such custom prevails at any Italian port. I asked him to inquire of Mr. Slingsby, late secretary to the Council for Trade, (fn. 1) who would tell him how desirable it is for the English not to trammel their navigation and he should ask the opinion of the Levant Company.
Coventry told me that the subject was quite new to him. On his return from the country where he meant to pass the holidays, he would discuss the matter, feeling sure that it had not been well digested and that those who make demands do not always use the utmost discretion. I hope to convince him of the unfitness of the measure and then, without committing the republic, get the king to cancel the last decree and thus sever the matter from its root. A refusal at Venice, although based on the clearest reasons, would never convince or quiet Hayles who will try to convince them that your Serenity holds the king's recommendations in small account.
The absence of Coventry delays the sending of the chaplain over sea as he has to notify the royal order. The king offers to release the priest but the queen and all the Catholics know that it is desirable to have him sent out of England, in order that a show of severity may mitigate popular excitement. The Portuguese ambassador and I see that it is to our interest not to get into some fresh difficulty by obtaining too much favour from the king, and on this account I thanked his Majesty and asked him to have the priest sent over sea. He has consented and the formal order is all that is lacking. So this affair may perhaps guarantee us against similar accidents for the future, as the accusers are disappointed both in their malice and in their expectation of the reward of 15l., though they had the satisfaction of making me spend much more, both for the keep of the prisoner and for lawyers' fees, as a further claim on my purse already drained by this most costly ministry.
London, the 4th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Enclosure.
423. Memorandum on the Consulage. (fn. 2)
An alteration in the consulage may be proposed from two motives, a better division according to the tonnage of ships or to increase the consul's emoluments. In order to equalise the consulage of 30 ducats levied on all ships the sole remedy would be to calculate it on the tonnage when all would go smoothly without any innovation of consequence and without hazarding by new methods which are always dangerous unless absolutely necessary, that prosperous course which trade is now taking.
It is admitted that the object is the benefit of the consul, so that he may live in splendour. The consulage might be raised to 40 ducats according to the practice of the consuls at Cadiz and Malaga, who exact 35, while the consul at Lisbon levies 50 reals, which are ¼ more than the ducat.
If the king wishes to relieve the captains, although they voluntarily increased the consulage from 10 to 15 ducats and from 15 to 30, there might be an additional charge for the freight of the goods, to supply the whole or part of the sum required. By this plan the captain would be relieved with no great burden on the goods, it being limited to 15 pence per ton.
The proposal to exempt ships from consulage and to lay the whole burden on goods is not only contrary to the nature of consulage, which was instituted for the needs of the ships and captains, but also the practice of all English consuls except those in the Levant, to whom the company gives a definite salary, reserving the proceeds of the consulage for the public service.
It is difficult to believe that his Majesty can overlook these examples, instituted for the protection of trade, or care so little about Venice as to allow innovations for the benefit of the consul which might be done in other ways.
Another important point is that any surcharge on trade always upsets trade and it is the more inopportune in the present case as the republic is now labouring to encourage trade and is only waiting for information to proceed further in the matter.
As a genera] principle it is the sovereign who imposes taxes, allowing the subject to have as little to do with them as possible. The latter collects them and it rarely happens that they are not increased by industry or rapacity, causing confusion and injury that are often unbearable for trade.
The other project for levying a penny in the pound as consulage is not in the least digested, as the substance of the business depends on the tariff. The surcharge on goods would condemn them to provide for the consul while ships have the benefit of his assistance without acknowledgment, but everything would be uncertain and unlimited whereas the king may only intend a slight increase in the consulage at Venice.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.
424. A True Information of the new Consulage at Venice. (fn. 3)
The ancient consulage of 5 ducats per ship is now raised to 30 which comes to about 600 per annum. But Hayles not satisfied with that desires ½ a ducat per ton, giving the Council of Trade to understand that by so doing the consulage would be settled more equally and be better supplied with the sum of above 2,000 ducats per ann.. and so obtained an order the 23rd Dec, 1672.
The Turkey Company was always sensible of the prejudice of such a new practice and the merchants at Venice appealed to the Senate against it. They protested (1) that it was unwise to charge the consulage on the merchants to clear the ships of the same when Hayles only proposed to gather the consulage proportionably to the size of the ships; (2) that there would be less proportion in gathering the consulage on goods per ton than in an even consulage from great and little ships; (3) that Hayles expects to exact consulage from the goods of Venetian subjects and those of other nations; (4) that it is the republic's just concern to ease the trade after so many special favours done to this nation, and it would not be profitable to the English to prejudice their own navigations by hindering the loading of their ships; (5) that if Hayles should get no more than 2,000 ducats this new practice would turn into a monopoly with the frequency of the commissions to him and that all impositions gathered by particular persons increase with time and oppress the subject and trade; (6) that Hayles desired to this day, leave to exact consulage of merchandise at their coming in, and the next year he will expect it at their going out, when the consuls in Zante and Cephalonia shall expect the same, though never seen before in any port of Italy.
There are several more reasons, but the above are enough to disapprove it.
[English.]
Jan. 7.
Collegio
Secreta.
Esposizioni
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
425. Presented by the Secretary of the English Envoy.
Three months ago I was in this Collegio to recommend to your Serenity the affair of the English consul with a request to cause contribution to be made to him of ½ a ducat on every ton of merchandise brought on English ships. As I have not so far received any reply I am repeating the request and press your Serenity to give me a categorical decision so that I may immediately inform his Majesty of my activities and for the relief of the poor consul. If your Serenity does not see fit to settle the matter in the way proposed I shall be glad to hear your intentions upon this, for the satisfaction of the king, my master and the relief of the consul.
[Italian.]
Jan. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
426. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I happened to meet a leading minister in the exchange of compliments for Christmas. He chose to tell me confidentially that although they had replied to the offer of mediation in terms that gave an assurance that it would be embraced, they remained a long time without any communication on the subject. He further did me the honour to confide to me the circumscribed orders sent from here on the subject to their minister, Don Emanuel di Lira, resident at the Hague, to the effect that he was to take the step only in case he recognised that the States were manifestly desirous of the peace on their own account. From this one can understand sufficiently the prudence of the government. The policy of this monarchy, which I have so often intimated, is directed secretly to the continuation of the war and it aims especially at persevering in the campaign of the immediate future. It is true that they make known the object and publish their intention with the sole aim of procuring advantages, so that they may attain to a more easy and enduring composition.
The jealousies conceived over the news from London of the union of the Dutch with France seem here to have quite vanished, indeed, from the assurances of their minister, they promise themselves firmness in the alliance in the new campaign and in addition they are making dispositions for a vigorous armament. Moreover it is believed that the English are making a fuss so that the French may not come to terms with Holland.
Of the negotiations of Arlington with Orange nothing has transpired so far except that, after long conferences, that minister has sent one of his gentlemen to London with all speed and they are waiting, with anxious curiosity, for the publication of the ensuing treaty. They have also despatched a courier post to Ronchiglio, to get him to hasten his progress towards England. He is to reside with the title of envoy of this crown at that Court so that the Spanish ministry there may not be vacant under such pressing circumstances.
Madrid, the 10th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
427. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
At this moment when the government here is expecting some apology from Spain to mitigate the disagreements with Monterey, who always opposed the measures of England, Bergeich is beginning his negotiations with complaints. Whereas the king has repeatedly made demands against the Ostend corsairs, Bergeich maintains that, as all the trade of France is covered by the English, they deserve to be punished by his Majesty. Van Beuninghen has offered to join Bergeich in his complaints and to support the interests of Spain, clearly showing the disposition of the States to enter upon a quarrel with this crown even on behalf of others. The truth is that Van Beuninghen has no great esteem for this Court. He is the one who a few years ago was unable to persuade England to join against France, rendered Holland distrustful of this country and brought about the alliance with Spain, in consequence of which the king here rushed into the arms of France. He is the minister who thwarts the suggestions of Arlington and has revived the jealousies of the States about Orange, to whom they would have sent to demand account of his negotiations with the English had not the Pensionary Fagel deterred them, advising them not to make bad blood at this juncture. I feel sure that one of Arlington's commissions was to suggest to Orange the regard he ought to have for England and the expediency of rendering himself popular there so as to take advantage of whatever might happen through default of heirs to the crown. For this reason he should do his utmost to prevent any hostile decision of the States against England.
As the Dutch have lost all esteem for this country, a panic has seized the Court about a surprise, especially with the opportunity afforded by the next campaign, when they will have the command of the sea, with a fleet at the mouths of the English ports. Here they are aware of their own weakness but, what is worse, the Dutch know it also, and Orange, unmindful of his own personal interests, assumes the passions of the United Provinces and gives haughty answers.
The Spaniards are quite as much offended with Orange as England is. They fancy that he has cooled and therefore arrogantly demand a decision, threatening to harass him by his old domestic enemy. But so far he will not pledge himself to furnish the contributions for the emperor next year and insists on seeing 20,000 men in the field in Flanders.
In spite of all these divisions and jealousies the Spaniards will not listen to pacific counsels and nothing more is said here on the subject, just as if some military movement on the Rhine might prepare matters for the peace before the beginning of the campaign.
In proportion to its loss of prestige with neighbouring powers the Court here exerts itself to adjust domestic affairs which discredit the government. People are anxiously awaiting the king's decision after the reply given him by the bishops, who suggest the enforcement of the laws as the true way to suppress Popery and the nonconformists. (fn. 4) It is not known what decision may be expected but in the mean time the war has in a way begun between the bishops and the nonconformists. The former are held up to obloquy by the latter who maintain that the bishops with misplaced zeal choose to molest the majority of the kingdom, sparing neither the lives nor property of those who only seek to serve God in peace. They threaten publicly to emigrate to Holland with their substance and families, capital too precious for England to yield to her rival. But in private they all club to support York and to follow his fortune, being determined to wait and see whether he is willing and able to support them. It is apprehended that the king, from fear of making a great stroke with the nonconformists, will prefer to ruin himself rather than run the risk, a fresh maxim of prudence and reserve that will yield but slight benefit to the cause.
London, the 11th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
428. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As soon as letters arrived from the Algerines in reply to the king's promising to pay ransom for the slaves, the news was circulated throughout the country to contradict reports that even those corsairs treated the crown of England with disrespect and to maintain the repute of the flag and commercial activity, which is of such vital importance for the exchequer. The Algerine government expresses especial esteem for his Majesty and an extraordinary desire to keep the peace. To avert any cause for dissatisfaction they propose half measures to remove such difficulties as arise when ships meet and when search is made for English property. They also offer to declare war against Tripoli if it refuses to make peace with England, pretending to pay many other compliments that they may make sure of the expected ransom, though possibly they have not much intention of keeping their promises. (fn. 5)
In compliance with a petition presented by the city of London the king was pleased to accept its freedom, which was presented to him in a gold box, the seal being in another also of gold and jewelled. (fn. 6) In the boxes the king found a memorial in which the Lord Mayor and aldermen beg him to annex the borough, promising to rule the inhabitants properly. The citizens anticipate great benefit from this for their gilds, which now suffer from competition with the tradesmen in the borough who have a great share of the traffic without contributing to the many burdens to which the citizens of London are liable. This will be a question for the next session of parliament, but not this other matter now brought forward by the people of Wales. The Welshmen, having rendered considerable services to the late king during the civil wars, he honoured them with gracious letters and a general privilege to trade freely. So they now petition his Majesty not to vitiate their franchise by excluding them from the Guinea trade; but so far the king has not modified the proclamation granting an exclusive privilege to the Guinea Company.
I have received the ducali of the 15th December. I find that Higgons has not yet written about the consulage. Coventry is still in the country but as soon as he returns I will urge him to take the matter in hand to rid your Excellencies of importunity.
To obtain the release of the chaplain I asked the king to give the order to Secretary Williamson, but owing to some flaw in it the execution is delayed. I have no doubt that I can send him to France on Monday from which he may not return under penalty of undergoing his sentence. By this means the animosity against the Catholics has been allayed. They are extremely satisfied as they have always feared that too great clemency on the king's part might rouse popular wrath against them.
London, the 11th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
venetian
Archives.
429. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Enclose copy of a memorial presented by the envoy of England on Monday asking for a reply, and of the reply given to him, which it was thought expedient not to delay any longer. The Senate is waiting to hear of the carrying out of the instructions sent to him on the subject. They have received no letters from those parts this week.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 2. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Jan. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
430. In the Pregadi on the 12th January, 1674. [M.V.]
That a notary extraordinary of the ducal chancery be sent to read the following to the envoy of England:
The memorial which you presented a while ago in the interest of the consul has not been left without due consideration. The change in the benefit to the said consul of ½ a ducat upon every ton of goods brought by English ships instead of the original impost of 30 ducats per ship is considered to be a serious burden upon trade and a considerable charge upon the merchants. This has given us cause to consider carefully the nature of the matter. In the mean time we have written about these interests to our secretary Alberti in London and we are awaiting his reply. When this has reached us the matter will be taken in hand to deliberate upon what will be considered convenient with the object, which we always cherish of an abundant and flourishing trade as well as of the advantage, no less of the subjects of his Britannic Majesty as of those of our republic, as we have always made apparent upon all occasions and as you also have experienced upon every occasion that has presented itself.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 2. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Jan. 14.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Esposizioni,
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
431. In obedience to the commands of your Excellencies I, Isidoro Santorio, went to the house of the English envoy to read him the attached office. With every courtesy he came to meet me at the stairs and putting me on his right proceeded to the apartments. After the office had been read and his secretary directed to take a copy, he said that he should await with impatience the replies that should reach your Excellencies from London because he hoped that upon them suitable decisions would be taken for the relief of the consul who, for the last two years, has not enjoyed any advantage. At this I took leave.
[Italian.]
Jan. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
432. In the Pregadi, the 16th January, 1674. [M.V.]
That the paper presented by the consul of England be sent to the magistracy of the Five Savii alla Mercanzia who are charged to hear what he has to say about the consulage and to make their report thereon after they have heard the merchants.
That a copy of the article in the paper presented by the consul of England concerning the debt due to him by the magistracy of the Avogaria be sent to the Avogadori de Comun and that they be directed to console him by giving him satisfaction for what is due to him, as settled by the decrees on the matter and as is just and proper.
Ayes, 108. Noes, 2. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Jan. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
433. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The persistent contrary winds having at last dropped, Lords Arlington, Ossory and Latimer came at last to London where the Court received them graciously. They said they had reduced the expectations of the Dutch East India Company which would instruct its commissioners here to adjust the difficulty and that the States would complete the payment due for the peace; but I fancy the prince of Orange claims the money for a debt due from this crown to his family. They add that they have obtained the consent of the United Provinces to accept the mediation of England without proviso, whereas hitherto they have pretended that they must act jointly with Sweden. They also announce that the Spaniards say that England should declare herself in favour of Spain as Sweden has done with France. Thereupon an Englishman remarked to a Spaniard with a smile that the Catholic did not give the pensions of the Most Christian. Finally the ambassadors say they remarked with surprise that the Dutch showed little hesitation about accepting the pope's mediation, saying that they have no cause to distrust him on the score of religion, as they have been supported for the most part by Catholic powers. I myself have remarked that Arlington was surprised by the news of the Most Christian's acceptance of papal mediation, perhaps foreseeing that France is beginning to suspect England and so takes others into her confidence. But conjectures about Arlington's secret negotiations are of two sorts, as I will try to explain.
All parties agree that England, finding herself weak and in confusion, is anxious to gain Orange and soothe the United Provinces. But some believe that Arlington merely reminded the prince of the king's tender affection for him and his desire to establish him in his post, that being the ancient policy of England. Others maintain that the English ministry has gone so far as to offer the king's mediation to obtain for him excellent terms of peace from the Most Christian. To substantiate this opinion they say that the English proposed the suspension of hostilities at sea, and reveal in secret that the Most Christian withdrew from his conquests at the persuasion of the king here, who promised to reconcile him to the Dutch and bring them over to his side. These opinions differ widely and I cannot venture to say which is right. The first deny that the king could wish to negotiate a union between Holland and France as it must be fatal to England from the facility afforded to the United Provinces for injuring this country and likely to increase the temptation to do so. The king also might have to join Spain in order to prevent the loss of England's bulwark, Flanders.
The others make a distinction between the interest of the country and the projects of the Court, at present diametrically opposed. They aver that there is no doubt of the bias of the king and ministers in favour of France and of their anxiety to keep her friendly in order to counterbalance the rebellious spirits in this country. They mean by good offices with Holland to atone at any cost to the Most Christian for breaking faith with him, especially as England, by detaching Orange from the allies, would to some extent make herself arbiter of all these disputes, establishing confidential relations with France and Holland and laying down the law to Spain.
All these are conjectures, but I find definitely that Orange does not show entire confidence in England. He has refused the suspension of hostilities at sea, relying on them as the most effective means for drawing off France. For the rest he protested to Arlington that he never had and never would have any separate treaty with the Most Christian.
Neither the English nor the Spaniards believe him and the latter complain of the king here for having proposed a separate armistice, pointing to a bias for France. The ministers reply that the naval war concerned Holland alone or at least she was the one chiefly interested, so that the other allies were not affected. The Spaniards are not satisfied with this miserable reply and are becoming more and more exasperated. They threaten, indeed, if the king here does not join them, to make his subjects rebel. Such are the weapons with which they seek to fight their enemies. London, the 18th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian: deciphered.]
Jan. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
434. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since the return of the English nobles from Holland all talk in the closets (fn. 7) relates to the state of that republic. Although accounts vary according to prejudice, some preferring the republic to the prince, all are agreed about the following points.
All Dutchmen claim that their republic has immortalised itself by its successful resistance to France but when it comes to giving praise for the way it was done, some publicly extol the prince of Orange, while others whisper that after they have defended their liberty against the foreign invader there remains the danger of losing it among themselves. These are the members of the Lowenstein faction which has been joined by all the choice spirits in Holland. The foresee how much the exaltation of the prince favours absolute power and seek to preserve the liberty of the republic, though at present they dare not proclaim such sentiments. So true it is that the most capable are of this faction that the prince, not finding other men of talent, is compelled to employ them, both at home and in embassies, hoping perhaps to detach them from the party especially if, by establishing himself more firmly in authority, he could make them despair of abasing him. At the moment he is paying 90,000 men with the Dutch republic's money, which he administers without giving any account of it. Besides having all these troops at his disposal the appointments in his gift and his supremacy over the courts of law are effective throughout the Provinces but especially in Zutphen, Overyssel and Gelderland through the magistracies whom he appointed there after freeing them from the French. In the province of Utrecht the governor, Prince Maurice, acts by his orders, while Friesland is similarly dependent on him, being ruled by his cousin, the prince of Nassau. (fn. 8) Zeeland has always assisted him and interested herself in his advancement whereas Holland shows coldness, although it is the most considerable province, contributing 57 per cent. on all occasions of national military expenditure. The province of Holland was the first to offer six millions of crowns as her share for the next campaign. Later on his Highness sent Odik, late ambassador here, to Zeeland to urge an offer from that province also.
The entire population is convinced that the prince will be in no hurry to make peace and disband the forces, so as not to risk his authority. Many indeed suspect that he will be the last to disarm and that he will first of all seek to secure to himself his restored dignities and it may be in vain for others to seek to turn him from his purpose.
The Catholics have much improved their condition in the United Provinces. The liberty they enjoyed has been enlarged because the republic has been especially succoured by the Catholic powers in a war which had been represented to the people as a war of religion. The prince of Orange therefore, in reply to the hints about his marriage, said that he should consult his conscience with regard to his wife's religion, and similarly gratify his taste with regard to her personal beauty, but that there was still plenty of time for him to decide.
Tromp, the late admiral, has come to London and Count Horne is expected in a week. It is said to be in acknowledgment of the complimentary mission of Arlington and the others to Orange, but they have no definite character and it is not known that they have any business to transact.
London, the 18th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
435. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England. to the Doge and Senate.
An express to Ruvigni from Paris has brought news of Turenne's victory. (fn. 9) His Majesty announced the particulars joyfully. As it had been reported that France would renounce the projects of peace he gave assurance of keeping her as well disposed towards this as before and that she would not fail in her promise or raise her demands.
The nonconformists cavil at this intelligence more than any one else as they fear that the Court will swerve from its agreements with them, in proportion to the revival of friendship with France, in whose favour many of them suspect the king of negotiating in his treaties with Orange, greatly to their own prejudice and contrary to the interests of the nation. Their leaders are extremely distressed, at this, fearing that their followers will distrust them and that the duke of York will lose credit with the faction, particularly as the king has not yet signed the pardon which they are so anxiously expecting as earnest for the duke's zeal to preserve the property and liberty of all men. In the mean time they have drawn up two papers, one showing how important it is for the country and the king not to interrupt the flow of commerce and the customs by using severity against the dissenters; the other showing that the act against them cannot be enforced because it is contrary to the fundamental laws of the realm, which do not allow any one to be condemned save by twelve jurymen, whereas the penal statute would convict and condemn them summarily.

This key has never yet been touched in England and if the note resounds as the nonconformists expect, the Catholics also wight hope for some alleviation, although at present they keep in retirement and aloof from all parties and pledges.
The poor chaplain is still in prison owing to some flaws in the order for his release. But last evening the king assured me of his intention to be obeyed and said that the lord keeper had found a remedy for everything. I continue my efforts and am equally alert about the consulage. When Coventry returned from the country my friend spoke to him, explaining many matters detrimental to the nation and went so far as to say that in the Council of Trade it had been proposed to take away the consul from Venice to save the cost of maintaining him, as he was useless. My friend is to have another conference with the secretary, when he will deliver the papers, I hope next week. I fancy they have written to Higgons to take information on the subject, so I do not think he will repeat his demands without further orders.
London, the 17th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 21.
Senato
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
436. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Last Sunday evening the 20th inst. at 5 o'clock the duchess of York was seized with the pangs of child birth, which lasted until half past eight when she was delivered of a daughter. (fn. 10) Both are doing extremely well. The nation expected her to give a male heir to the crown. This is now only a hope but it is well founded as the duke's sound health and the excellent constitution of the duchess promise fresh offspring on which God's blessing is required for the comfort and quiet of these realms. I have been ill of a fever which I hope is passing, but it has delayed my congratulations. I am sending this by a gentleman who is being sent in haste to Modena with orders to go on to Rome.
London, the 21st January, 1674. [M.V.]
Postscript: After consigning the original to the gentleman who left for Italy two hours ago I send this duplicate by way of Lyons.
[Italian.]
Jan. 25.
Senato
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
437. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The letters from Flanders and Holland confirm Turenne's victory over the allies. To the additional satisfaction of the Court M. Ruvigni announces that to facilitate the peace the Most Christian, in spite of his successes, agrees to smooth all difficulties that delayed the treaties. The ministers here flatter themselves that this overture and the necessities of the allies may ere long bring about the mediation. Yet a Spanish minister told an English peer that to persevere in the war was not obstinacy but the usual result of the prudent and profound statesmanship of Spain. For a whole year she had never inclined towards the Most Christian and if the faulty execution of her policy did not match with its soundness that was not a reason for changing it. The vast Spanish monarchy was not affected by small accidents nor was it influenced by other powers, like many inferior crowns which made war and peace from day to day. His queen knew the emperor and the empire to be sufficiently alarmed and that Holland would defend the rest of Flanders which was her bulwark. Madrid would merely defray the cost of the war in Catalonia and the wretched rebels at Messina longed for nothing but to resume their allegiance. Spain had never made war at so cheap a rate. If she were unfortunately to become a party to a provisional peace, it was quite certain that, with the armies and allies disunited, the Most Christian would come next year and swallow them one by one. While they remained united it was too large a mouthful. Turning to examine the French offers, he said that peace could not be negotiated in any Dutch city as no papal minister would go there, although the government of the United Provinces admits an apostolic commissary. In conclusion he laughed at the offer of a truce, as if the Most Christian required breathing time.
The Spaniards talk in this tone at Court, which disapproves of it. It leaves them concerned about the present armament. England is fitting out a larger number of ships than is usual at this season, when the ships at sea are relieved, and therefore the Spaniards announce her intention of taking part in the next campaign. I cannot find that there is any exceptional movement, principally because the means for making it are wanting. The treasurer has only just been able to pay the cost of the last fleet, by employing all his industry. It is very true that England would like to have it in her power to persuade the allies to make peace, with arms in her hand, but I cannot find that any plans have been settled though it is certain that Spain makes no amends to England for the reprisals of the Ostend corsairs. Baron Bergheik who came to offer compensation, claimed at first to have orders from Spain and to be treated as the queen's envoy; but as he never received or showed letters from the Court, he had to submit to be treated as the mere envoy of Monterey, when he at length obtained audience of the king and duke. He has not seen the queen of England except in the public chamber as a private gentleman. If Monterey leaves in a fortnight, as permitted, the ministers here expect to have a better understanding with any other governor of Flanders. It is pretended that the count with excess of zeal opposed England with outrageous vehemence, without the respect due to this crown. They suppose here that he is leaving Flanders in despair. It has transpired that his enemies, the duke of Villa Ermosa, general of the cavalry, and Montalto wrote to Spain after the affair of Seneff, laying all the blame on his want of courage, after having tried to discredit him in every way. The Court here believes that he will find it difficult to rehabilitate himself in Spain.
London, the 25th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
438. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
It is greatly to be feared that an accumulation of causes for dissatisfaction may cool the good understanding between this country and Spain. The Court here also despairs of a reconciliation with Holland, finding the prince of Orange elated by his good fortune. Arlington reports him as having prevailed on the Dutch to maintain an army of 50,000 men in time of peace and to repeal a law which forbids the republic's servants to take military service with foreigners. He showed them the mistake of not keeping troops to preserve peace in the republic's territory because on principle they encouraged war. seeing that in their late need all the treasure of the States could scarcely find them troops and friends for their defence. If the prince gains this point and succeeds in establishing a fund for the maintenance of 50,000 men who, with a numerous train of expectants will be dependent on him, he will not only have the force in his own hands but will abolish the fundamental institution of the republic which was so opposed to his aggrandisement and he will draw crowned heads to treat with him. All the allies have done so already as they know him to favour war from personal interest. On the other hand they place no trust in the Provinces, being aware of the readiness with which those folk would break faith and alliances to buy peace which is their element. Orange attracted by this favourable show, seeks to continue the war so as to gain marches upon the republic. Arlington says that in consequence of this he will not at present listen to negotiations with France, from fear in particular that the Spaniards may become suspicious and rouse the populace, thwarting his designs instead of seconding them as at present. The queen of Spain to please him, had desired Monterey to resign the command of the armies to him and Villa Hermosa, the governor ad interim would do the like and that at the next campaign he would be at the head of the army in Flanders, as it seems that at Madrid they seek to entice him by all means to defend what remains of the province.
The king is not sorry that the prince should possess himself of the government but would like him to draw closer to himself. On the other hand he bears with him foreseeing how jealous the prince would render the allies if he bound himself prematurely to England.
In spite of this they are laying the groundwork of a good understanding and although I find some indications of Ruvigni's anxiety to have overtures made to Orange in favour of France, I am not sure about it. When Count Horne arrives something more may perhaps be elicited as Arlington is. seen with Ruvigni every day, indicating the pursuit of some project. As for Tromp he passes his time at perpetual feasts as he is not a man of business, the king also being present. But Van Beuninghen, who never quits his side, observes every tiling and these last few days he seems more friendly to England.
The Spanish envoy is extremely suspicious of this ministry and always writes to Madrid that the Court is French; if it had the means it would declare itself more decidedly than Sweden and it would be very important to have other mediators in the confidence of Spain. I know he mentioned the most serene republic but the friend who told me said the envoy expressed himself as having no doubt that the prudent senators of Venice would know how to reserve for some other occasion the return of the favours they had received from the Most Christian and that in the present affair they would have regard for the balance, because of the consequences to Italy. But lie added that the Dutch distrusted Venice and he did not know why private matters of small consequence should have disturbed the good harmony.
London, the 25th January, 1674. [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 25.
Senato
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
439. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the Court now maintains good correspondence with France and perhaps several of the ministers do not refuse money from Ruvigni, the government is closing with the nonconformists who, by the first article of their demands, require the abandonment of France, to dispel the suspicion of the people that his Majesty seeks the support of that crown to crush the liberty of the subject and impose the religion by violence. The mines of these nonconformists have already begun to explode and the Presbyterians and Independents declare openly that when the maintenance of law and liberty is secured to them by the king and duke their lives and property shall be at the disposal of the crown. They had brought over the parliamentary party to this opinion and the members most opposed to the Court would have come to ask pardon for the past and acknowledge that it was in the interest of the kingdom to join his Majesty, admitting that even if the duke were a Papist it would be well to make the best of a bad bargain and obtain from him the most favourable terms possible seeing that nature and law made him heir to the throne. But as the king is doomed to do everything out of season, he sent for the disgraced chancellor from the country, the oracle of the parliament party, to give him his pardon before he asked, for it, as arranged. By such tenderheartedness his Majesty gives without return and at the same time renders his loyal servants mistrustful.
The duke wanted to prevent so impetuous an act of clemency and Lauderdale and the treasurer were even more anxious about it as they are bitter enemies of Shaftesbury and apprehensive of his cabal by means of which he has always held the best posts under all parties, royalists and rebels alike. Arlington also is afraid, having offended Shaftesbury, the more so as he is now supported only by the French faction which must fail in England if they revive that of Spain through whose money Shaftesbury made all the disturbances in the late sessions of parliament. Arlington has also offended the duke of York extremely by offering his daughter to Orange; so he dreads ruin from all parties.

Your Serenity will have received the news of the delivery of the duchess of York. On Wednesday morning all the foreign ministers, including myself went to offer congratulations to the duke. The same afternoon the bishop of Durham christened the child by the name of Catterina Laura, the duke of Monmouth and the duke's two daughters assisting at the font. The infant and duchess are in good health and there is every promise of fresh offspring in due season.
I have the ducali of the 3rd inst. I am advancing the matter of the consulage as much as the natural slowness of the English allows. I have spoken to Coventry who told me that Higgons had written to him that your Serenity, being unwilling to give a refusal, delayed the replies, but he expressed his esteem for the republic. I said I hoped he would mention how unsuitable many of the innovations were and that he could always rely on the predilection of the state for the English. I trust the affair will take a good turn and that Hayles will have burned his fingers by starting this novelty, as they are thinking here of abolishing the consulship altogether.
London, the 25th January, 1074. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics eciphered.]

Footnotes

1 Henry Slingsby at this time secretary to the Council for Foreign Plantations.
2 This is not in the files with the despatches, but is taken from the Letter Book in St. Mark's Library, CI. VII Cod. 1672.
3 This also is from the Letter Book,
4 Presumably the reply given by the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Durham, Winchester, Salisbury, Peterborough, Rochester, Chichester and Chester. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1673–5, pp. 548–9.
5 The letters from Algiers were of 18 November. The State Papers only contain extracts in which the Algerines ask the king to forbid his subjects to sail in any ships but those of their own nation. The treaty on which the negotiations were based was that of 29 Nov., 1671, S.P. Barbary States, Vol. II.
6 The freedom of the city was presented to Charles by the Lord Mayor, Alderman and Commonalty of London on 18 December in the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall. Maitland: History of London, page 299.
7 Gabinetti. It is possible that he means the coffee houses.
8 Henry Casimir, prince of Nassau Dietz, son of Albertina second daughter of Henry Frederick, prince of Orange, by William Frederick, count of Nassau Dietz.
9 At Colmar on 5 January, over Frederick William of Brandenburg, the “Great Elector.”
10 Christened Caterina Laura.