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He was born at Wallingford House, in Westminster, 30th of January, 1627 ; and christened 14th of February, by Dr. Laud, then Bishop of Bath and Wells. After he had been carefully trained under several tutors, he was sent to Cambridge for a time, and then travelled into foreign countries. Upon his return, which was after the breaking out of the civil wars, he went to Oxford to the king, and entered of Christ Church. When the king's cause declined, he attended Prince Charles, with whom he went afterwards to Scotland, and was present at the battle of Worcester in 1651; whence he escaped and got beyond sea, and was made knight of the garter. Afterwards he stole over to England, made his court to Lady Mary, the daughter and heiress of Lord Fairfax, and married her the 19th of November, 1657 ; by which policy he obtained all or most of his estate, which before was lost to him. After the Restoration, he was computed to be possessed of 20,0001. per annum, and, by the royal favour, placed in reach of the first posts and offices of the kingdom. He became one of the gentlemen of the bed-chamber, one of the privy council, lord
lieutenant of Yorkshire, and at length master of the horse. Yet he had no wisdom, no prudence, no steadiness, and could, in short, have been of use in no court but such a one as Charles the Second's, where wit, and humour, and buffoonery, and immorality, and irreligion, made up the great business of the king and ministry. Thus the main employment of Buckingham was to ridicule and mimic, at which he had an excellent talent ; and it is well known that he used equally to ridicule the witty Charles and his grave chancellor Clarendon,
whose solemnity doubtless must have been a fine subject for him. At length, however, he grew mischievous as well as witty ; and much as he had obtained the king's favour, by promoting every thing to gratify that monarch's passions, he afterwards lost it, and fell into disgrace. “The duke's being denied the post of president of the north, was (says Carte) probably the reason of his disaffection to the king. Just before the recess of the parliament, one Dr. John Heydon was taken up for treasonable practices, in sowing a sedition in the navy, and engaging persons in a conspiracy to seize the Tower. The man was a pretender to great skill in astrology, but had lost much of his reputation by prognosticating the hanging of Oliver to his son Richard Cromwell and Thurloe, who came to him in disguise for the calculation of nativities, being dressed like distressed cavaliers. He was for that put into prison, and continued in confinement sixteen months, whilst Cromwell outlived the prediction four years. This insignificant fellow was mighty great with the Duke of Buckingham, who, notwithstanding the vanity of the art, and the notorious ignorance of the professor of it, made him cast not only his own, but the king's nativity; a matter of dangerous curiosity, and condemned by a statute which could only be said to be antiquated, because it had not for a long time been put in execution. This fellow he had likewise employed, among others, to excite the seamen to mutiny, as he had given money to other rogues to put on jackets to personate seamen, and to go about the country begging in that garb, and exclaiming for want of pay, while the people, oppressed with taxes, were cheated of their money by the great officers of the crown. Heydon pretended to have been in all the duke's secrets for near four years past, and that he had been all that time designing against the king and his government; that his grace thought the present season favourable for the execution of his design, and had his agents at work in the navy and in the kingdom, to ripen the general discontents of the people, and dispose them to action; that he had been importuned by him to head the first party he could get together, and engage in an insurrection, the duke declaring his readiness to appear and join in the undertaking as soon as the affair was begun. Some to whom Heydon unbosomed himself, and had been employed by him to carry letters to the Duke of Buckingham, discovered the design. Heydon was taken up, and a sergeant-at-arms sent with a warrant by his majesty's express order to take up the duke, who, having defended his house by force, for some time at least, found means to escape. The king knew Buckingham to be capable of the blackest designs, and was highly incensed at him for his conduct last sessions, and insinuating that spirit into the Commons which had been so much to the detriment of the public service. He could not forbear expressing himself with more bitterness against the duke than was ever dropped from him upon any other occasion. When he was solicited in his behalf, he frankly said, that he had been the cause of continuing the war; for the Dutch would have made a very low submission, had the parliament continued their first vigorous vote of supplying him ; but the duke's cabals had lessened his interest both abroad and at home, with regard to the support of the war. In consequence of this resentment, the king put him out of the privy council, bed-chamber,
BUCKINGHAM THREATENED BY THE EARL OF OSSERY IN THE PRESENCE OF KING CHARLES. and lieutenancy of York, ordering him likewise to be struck out of all commissions. His grace absconding, a proclamation was issued out requiring his appearance and surrender of himself by a certain
Notwithstanding this appearance of resentment against him, yet Charles, who was far from being of an implacable temper, took Buckingham again into favour, after he had made an humble submission. He was restored to his place in the council and in the bed-chamber in 1667, and seemed perfectly confirmed in the good graces of the king, who was perhaps too much charmed with his wit to consider him an enemy.
In the year 1670, the duke was supposed to be concerned in Blood's attempt on the life of the Duke of Ormond. This scheme was to have conveyed that nobleman to Tyburn, and there to have hanged him; for which purpose he was taken out of his coach in St. James's-street, and carried away by Blood and his son beyond Devonshire House, Piccadilly, but then rescued. Blood afterwards endeavoured to steal the crown out of the Tower, but was seized ; however, he was not only pardoned, but had an estate of five hundred pounds a-year given him in Ireland, and admitted into an intimacy with the king. Carte supposes that no man was more likely to encourage Blood in this attempt than the Duke of Buckingham, who, he says, was the most profligate man of his time, and had so little honour in him that he would engage in any scheme to gratify an irregular passion. The Duke of Ormond had acted with some severity against him, when he was detected in the attempt of unhinging the government, which had excited so much resentment as to vent itself in this manner. Carte likewise charges the Duchess of Cleveland with conspiring against Ormond, but has given no reasons why he thinks she instigated the attempt. The duchess was cousin to the Duke of Buckingham ; but it appears, in the annals of gallantry of those times, that she never loved him, nor is it probable she engaged with him in so dangerous a scheme.
" That Buckingham was a conspirator against Ormond (says Carte) cannot well be questioned after the following relation, which I had from a gentleman (Robert Lesly, of Glaslough, in the county of Monaghan, esquire) whose veracity and memory none that knew him will ever doubt, who received it from the mouth of Dr. Turner, Bishop of Ely. The Earl of Ossory came in one day, not long after the affair, and seeing the Duke of Buckingham standing by the king, his colour rose, and he spoke to this effect: 'My lord, I know well that you are at the bottom of this late attempt of Blood's upon my father; and therefore I give you fair warning, if my father comes to a violent end by sword or pistol, or the more secret way of poison, I shall not be at a loss to know the first author of it: I shall consider you as the assassin ; I shall treat you as such ; and wherever I meet you, I shall pistol you, though you stood behind the king's chair; and I tell it you in his majesty's presence, that you may be sure I shall keep my word.'"
In June 1671 he was installed chancellor of Cambridge; and the same year was sent ambassador to the king of France, who, being much pleased with his person, and more with his errand, entertained