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A.D. 1667, merce * was concluded with Spain, the instruc-
peace was proclaimed with Holland. The share which Lord Ashley had in this transaction was so well known to the States General, that, when , * The heads of this treaty, and one remarkable article in in his own handwriting, inter- the instructions was, that no lined and corrected in some searching of ships should be places, are among his papers; allowed.
a greater number would but make the despatch of business the more slow.'”
Clarendon, who disapproved of executing offices by commission as a method adapted rather to the genius of a republic than to that of a monarchy, among other objections“ put his majesty in mind that he must dismiss the Lord Ashley from his office of chancellor of the exchequer, if he did not make him commissioner of the treasury, and one of the quorum :" and he also pressed upon the king that it would be necessary to have persons to give some lustre to the others.
The king's answer was, that “ he did not care if he added the general to the others, but the Lord Ashley gave him some trouble ;” and, says Clarendon," he said enough to make it manifest that he thought him not fit to be amongst them, yet he knew not how to put him out of his place, but gave direction for preparing the commission for the treasury to the persons named before, and made the Lord Ashley only one of the commissioners and a major part to make a quorum ; which would quickly bring the government of the whole business into the hands of those three who were designed for it: and Ashley rather chose to be degraded than to dispute it.” — Life of Clarendon, p. 418.
they sent over their ambassadors, these had par- A.D. 1667. ticular orders to wait on him, and delivered him a letter, in which the States desired the continuance of his friendship.
Clarendon thought Ashley degraded, because it had always been usual in the choice of commissioners of the treasury, that the chancellor of the exchequer should be the sole person of the quorum.
Fall of the Earl of Clarendon.—Decline of the French interest
at Court.-Domestic measures. Satisfaction of the Parliament. — Triple Alliance negociated. — Permanent Committees of the Privy Council established.-Care for the Navy.
-Peace with Spain.-Conduct of the French King.-Terms of the Triple Alliance.- State of the English Council. — Influence of the Duke of York. — Lord Conway's Letter to Lord Ashley.-Memorial to the King.
A.D. 1667. On the 31st of August the seals were taken Lord Cla- from the Earl of Clarendon, and given to Sir
Orlando Bridgman, with the title of Lord Keeper. This is a critical part of Charles's reign ; for some short time before the dismission of Lord Clarendon, and some time after it, the king seemed to have broken loose from the fetters in which he had been and was afterwards chained: there was a general alteration in his conduct, and this short interval might justly be called the golden age of his government. It may be proper therefore to take notice of the many remarkable and truly national transactions which preceded and attended
that dismission; of the effects they had in the A.D.1667. different courts in Europe; and to point out by whose counsels they were most probably directed. Nor can it be amiss to show, at the same time, by Review of
his conduct. what means Lord Clarendon lost his interest with the king, and his credit with the public; and the apprehensions which France entertained that in him it was deprived of its principal support in the court of England.
Lord Clarendon had many powerful enemies both in the cabinet and throughout the nation: his haughty behaviour, which even his advocates have allowed, might occasion the first, and his ministerial conduct the latter. He had been a great promoter of the penal laws,* which could not but render him obnoxious to all the moderate party in the nation, and might make the friends, and even the enemies of the king, (if at that time he had any) look back with just apprehensions on the violent proceedings of Charles the First. The marriage of Lord Clarendon's daughter with the
* In his apology, at the beginning of the first volume of his essays, Lord Clarendon as sumes the merit of having been the chief promoter of one penal law, viz. “ that for calling the king a papist;" an act as fool
ish as it might have been made oppressive ; for from that time (as has been observed by a great man in the same high station) no man ever doubted the king's being one.
A.D. 1667. Duke of York; the marriage of the king with
the Infanta of Portugal subsequent to the former; the sale of Dunkirk, known at that time to be the chancellor's act; his attachment to the court of France, and his enmity to the court of Spain, had all contributed to render him very unpopular.
After his dismission, the commons impeached him at the bar of the house of lords; and, on the 12th of November, many circumstances, which have since been brought to light, tend to support some of the articles alleged against him. In that relating to the sale of Dunkirk, Count d'Estrades letters haye eyinced him to be the sole author of the sale of that important place; and these letters are corroborated by the testimony of Marshal Turenne.
Another article of the impeachment, viz. the sixth, " that he received great sums of money from the Company of Vintners, or some of them, or their agents, for enhancing the prices of wines, and for freeing them from the payment of legal penalties which they had incurred,” is supported even by those historians who have been his warmest advocates ; for in order to exculpate him from the clamour which at that time was general, that Clarendon House, (commonly called Dunkirk House,) was not built with any money he