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become almost symbolic. With the name and creed of Rome were linked the memories of Philip and Guy Fawkes and Bloody Mary. Apart from any purely religious motive, it stood for foreign tyranny, for national humiliation, for everything that was calculated to annoy and injure Englishmen. The Martyr King, whatever else he had been, was at heart a loyal Churchman, and had sealed his faith upon the scaffold. The Cavaliers of the Restoration Parliament, albeit they might persecute the preachers, had no intention of mitigating the laws against the priests.
But the new King had come under influences of a different kind. His mother's volatile nature was at least fixed in devotion to the Roman Church, and Charles had inherited his character from her side. There had been no English Church for him and his little Court of exiles, and some of the courtiers, two of whom afterwards became members of the Cabal, succumbed to the religious influences around them. It is not to be wondered at that the young exile sought the Roman Church, like Nicodemus, by night. Nor, amid the ruin of his prospects, did he scruple to seek the support of the Catholic powers, and even of the Pope himself, in the forlorn hope of getting back his crown. Thus it came about, that although the King returned to a loyal people, and surrounded by a halo of divine right, he was tainted by the one defect that must in time move even Cavaliers and bishops to rise in mutiny.
True, the evil day was at least postponed owing to Charles' character. He was telling the truth when he remarked to his more stubborn and less attractive brother,
They will never kill me to make you King." Religion of any sort sat lightly upon him. He was not one of those men who will die, or even suffer, for a faith. The philosopher he loved most was not Bellarmine or St. Thomas, but Hobbes of Malmesbury. Like so many men of Latin
blood, he was probably attracted by the sensuous aspect of the Church's teaching. We may, perhaps, compare his faith with that of a modern statesman philosopher, who holds the riddle of the Universe to be so hard, that he is fain to adopt the one of many doubtful solutions which seems the most suitable. Even when he dreamed of restoring Catholicism in England, he made it a condition that his own power should be practically unfettered by that of the Pope, and when he was hard pressed he was quite ready to make public profession of his attachment to the Church of England, and even to connive at the cruellest injustice of Protestant fanaticism. He would infinitely have preferred running the risk of hell in the next life, to going on his travels in this one.
It was not only in religion that the King's foreign sympathies betrayed themselves. He was naturally in love with everything French, and he lived at a time when French ideals were beginning to dominate Europe. Louis XIV had come into the heritage of the cardinals. France was united under the most perfect and efficient despotism which the world had seen since the fall of Imperial Rome. Those of us who admire that enormous palace at Versailles, with its accommodation for ten thousand souls, seldom realize the deep-laid policy of which that building is the expression. For the turbulent French nobility, which had been in constant league with the foreigner, and which had proved too strong for so many kings and statesmen, was here confined in splendid but absolute durance. For the greater part of the year, the duc or comte was compelled to dance attendance upon the King, and even in the short time he was able to snatch upon his own estate, he was subject to constant espionage. For the recalcitrant, there was always the army or the Bastille. Thus fortified, it was no wonder that the glory of Le Roi Soleil aroused the envy and the emulation of less fortunate sovereigns.
Charles II was half French by birth, and wholly French by sympathy. The state to which Louis had attained was that of which he dreamed. Even a Cavalier Parliament was a degrading necessity, of which Louis would have made short work. The few regiments of guards which that Parliament grudgingly allowed him to retain were a mockery of the great armies which mustered under Condé and Turenne. Something at least he could do towards Gallicizing England. He made his Court a cheap and vulgar imitation of Versailles. The vice which had there been redeemed by infinite delicacy, appeared in swinish grossness at Whitehall. Some exquisite and fragile blossoms did indeed spring out of a soil thus manured. Sedley and Rochester live in a few precious lyrics; the rapier play of Wycherley's dialogue is none the less brilliant because the combatants are ankle-deep in filth. But all the memoirs of the reign agree in depicting the heartless grossness of the Court, in which one fair lady could quite casually expose her legs for public examination, or a baby, which had been born in the midst of the revels, could be carried off for dissection by the King and his courtiers. "No man," says Clarendon, “hath been seen to blush in the face since the King's return." Charles even appears to have made some attempt to emulate the grand monarch's autocracy, by prescribing a dress for his courtiers. But all was evidently counterfeit. The conditions which had produced Versailles did not exist in England, and a Court ceremonial needs to grow up as naturally as a flower. Besides, the average Englishman of all classes had an inherited repugnance to the French. His religion taught him to hate the Frenchman as a Papist, his constitutional instincts to scorn him as a slave, his drama and traditions to look upon him as a natural enemy, a boastful fellow in every respect his inferior. These prejudices were sure to revolt against any such policy as that of Charles II.
At the beginning of the reign, the King's sympathies were baulked of expression by the personality of his chief Minister; Clarendon, despite his long years of exile abroad, was a staunch and patriotic Englishman His solicitude for his country's welfare is evident again and again throughout the course of his historical masterpiece, and he was enamoured, in a manner characteristically English, of our Church and Constitution. He was the last man to be a party to any scheme for setting up popery, or even a despotism modelled upon Versailles. He treated Parliament with a lofty superciliousness, which helped towards his own undoing, but he would not undo the best work even of Pym. Privilege and prerogative were equally sacred in his eyes. His ideal was that of the Elizabethan statesman-a strong central power based upon law, and not an irresponsible tyranny without any law at all. He would not have had his master pursue a policy of revenge, but would have united the whole nation under the Crown, only repressing those elements of it which he believed to be incurably disruptive. In all good faith and loyalty, he held up an ideal essentially British before a master whose sympathies were French.
No wonder that he incurred shame and disgrace at the hands of a king to whom gratitude was a thing unknown. Clarendon's old-fashioned virtue was sadly out of place in the new Court. He regarded its license, so different from anything which had obtained under the last king, with open disapproval. The grave and decent ceremonial with which he surrounded his great office of Chancellor, was abhorrent to men whose conceptions of ministerial responsibility were so accommodating as those of Buckingham. It gave copious amusement to Charles and the courtiers to see this wretch, the Zimri of Dryden, making game of the proven and upright Clarendon, and it was to the mercy of such men that his master could abandon one who had grown grey in his service.
Indeed, Charles was beginning to need a victim. Even loyalty is not proof against constant disloyalty in return. Charles was a traitor indeed to the brave gentlemen who had placed him on the throne of Alfred and Elizabeth. Soon it began to be seen that all was not in tune between the most belauded of monarchs and the most devoted of Parliaments. Perhaps, as Mr. Abbot has suggested in the "Historical Review," the Cavalier complexion of the Parliament, at the outset, has been somewhat exaggerated, and certainly more than a hundred members could be found to go into the lobbies against burning the Solemn League and Covenant. But the open satisfaction of the King is enough to show, that though it may not have been as Royalist as James II's first Parliament, it was for practical purposes all the King could have desired. The first excesses of the Restoration provoked little opposition, though even Pepys looked askance at the outrage perpetrated upon the remains of such a brave Englishman as Cromwell. It was a more serious matter when Dunkirk, that second Calais, which Cromwell's arms had secured for England, was tamely handed over to Louis for a few rascal counters. The opposition to this was faint at first, but it grew into a storm, which presently was diverted from Charles on to the head of his Minister.
It was a shock to the loyalty of old Cavaliers, who had been ruined in the cause, when they saw the money which might have been devoted to their redress sacrificed to the licentiousness of a wasteful and Gallicized Court. Members of Parliament, in particular, were beginning to doubt whether the money they voted for supply would be expended in the interests of their country, and from this it was but a step to demanding control over the money voted. Thus the prerogative was once more trenched upon. Again, to Again, to a people accustomed to see
the hand of God
in everything, the two frightful calami