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pleased, the money he might have in his pocket. CHAPTER All the other ministers had combated, as might be expected, sentiments so extraordinary; and without entering into the general question of the comparative value of different forms of government, maintained that his Majesty could, and ought to govern countries so distant, in the manner that should appear to him most suitable for preserving or augmenting the strength and riches of the mother country. It had been therefore resolved, that the government and council of the Provinces under the new charter, should not be obliged to call assemblies of the colonists for the purpose of imposing taxes, or making other important regulations, but should do what they thought fit, without rendering any account of their actions, except to his Britannick Majesty. The affair having been so decided with a concurrence only short of unanimity, was no longer considered as a matter of importance, nor would it be worth recording, if the Duke of York and the French court had not fastened upon it, * as affording the best evidence of the danger to be apprehended from having a man of Halifax's principles in any situation of trust or power. There is something curious in discovering, that, even at this early period, a question relative to
Vide Barillon's Dispatches, 7th Dec. 1684. Appendix, p. vii.
1685. Feb. 6.
Chapter North American liberty, and even to North American
taxation, was considered as the test of principles friendly, or adverse, to arbitrary power at home. But the truth is, that among the several controversies which have arisen, there is no other wherein the natural rights of man on the one hand, and the authority of artificial institution on the other, as applied respectively, by the Whigs and Tories, to the English constitution, are so fairly put in issue, nor by which the line of separation between the two parties is so strongly and distinctly marked.
There is some reason for believing that the court of Versailles had either wholly discontinued, or at least had become very remiss in, the payments of Charles's pension; and it is not unlikely that this consideration may have induced him either really to think of calling a parliament, or at least to threaten Lewis with such a measure, in order to make that prince more punctual in performing his part of their secret treaty. But whether or not any secret change was really intended, or if it were, to what extent, and to what objects directed, are points which cannot now be ascertained, no publick steps having ever been taken in this affair, and his Majesty's intentions, if in truth he had any such, becoming abortive by the sudden illness which seized him on the first of
February 1685, and which, in a few days afterwards, CHAPTER put an end to his reign and life. His death was by many, supposed to have been the effect of poison; bút although there is reason to believe that this suspicion was harboured by persons very near to him, and among others, as I have heard, by the Dutchess of Portsmouth, it appears, upon the whole, to rest upon very slender foundations.*
With respect to the character of this Prince, upon His Characthe delineation of which so much pains have been employed, by the various writers who treat of the history of his time, it must be confessed that the facts which have been noticed in the foregoing pages, furnish but too many illustrations of the more unfavourable parts of it. From these we may collect, that his ambition was directed solely. against his subjects, while he was completely indifferent concerning the figure which he or they might make in the general affairs of Europe; and that his desire of power was more unmixed with love of glory than
* Mr. Fox had this report from the family of his mother, greatgrandaughter to the Dutchess of Portsmouth.-The Dutchess of Portsmouth lived to a very advanced age, and retained her faculties to the period of her death, which happened in 1734, at Aubigny.-Mr. Fox's mother, when very young, saw her at that place; and many of the Lenox family, with whom Mr. Fox was subsequently acquainted, had, no doubt, frequently conversed with her.
CHAPTER that of any other man whom history has recorded ;
that he was unprincipled, ungrateful, mean, and treacherous, to which may be added, vindictive, and remorseless. For Burnet, in refusing to him the praise of clemency and forgiveness seems to be perfectly justifiable, nor is it conceivable upon what pretence his partizans have taken this ground of panegyrick. I doubt whether a single instance can be produced, of his having spared the life of anyone whom motives, either of policy, or of revenge, prompted him to destroy. To alledge that of Monmouth, as it would be an affront to human nature, so would it likewise imply the most severe of all satires against the monarch himself, and we may add too an undeserved one. For in order to consider it as an act of meritorious forbearance on his part, that he did not follow the example of Constantine, and Philip the Second, by imbruing his hands in the blood of his son, we must first suppose him to have been wholly void of every natural affection, which does not appear to have been the case. His declaration, that he would have pardoned Essex, being made when that nobleman was dead, and not followed by any act evincing its sincerity, can surely obtain no credit from men of sense. If he had really had the intention, he ought not to have made such a declaration,
unless he accompanied it with some mark of kind- CHAPTER ness to the relations, or with some act of mercy to the friends, of the deceased. Considering it as a mere piece of hypocrisy, we cannot help looking upon it as one of the most odious passages of his life. This ill-timed boast of his intended mercy, and the brutal taunt with which he accompanied his mitigation, (if so it may be called,) of Russel's sentence, shew his insensibility and hardness to have been such, that in questions where right feelings were concerned, his good sense, and even the good taste for which he has been so much extolled, seemed wholly to desert him.
On the other hand, it would be want of candour His good to maintain, that Charles was entirely destitute of good qualities; nor was the propriety of Burnet's comparison between him and Tiberius ever felt, I imagine, by any one but its author. He was gay and affable, and, if incapable of the sentiments belonging to pride of a laudable sort, he was at least free from haughtiness and insolence. The praise of politeness, which the Stoicks are not perhaps wrong in classing among the moral virtues, provided they admit it to be one of the lowest order, has never been denied him, and he had in an eminent degree that facility of temper which, though considered by some moralists as nearly allied to vice, yet, inasmuch as it