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longer successful in the English court. The committee of council which is first named in the regulation lately mentioned was that for foreign affairs. This came afterwards to be called the cabinet-council; and the persons that composed it were the Duke of York, Prince Rupert, the Duke of Buckingham, Duke of Ormond, Earl of Lauderdale, Lord Ashley, Lord Arlington, Sir Thomas Clifford, and Secretary Morrice. They were soon divided into two parties. Prince Rupert, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Ashley, and Secretary Morrice, endeavoured to draw the king off from that strict union in which he had been engaged with the court of France from the Restoration; whilst the Duke of York and Sir Thomas Clifford laboured to carry him back into his former attachment to France; and in this they too quickly prevailed. They were supported by the counsels and money of France, and the king's natural bias turned him that way; a bias which was not a little strengthened by his secret inclination to popery, and the Duke of York's and Clifford's impetuous zeal for that religion. To this zeal the king's indolence, and perhaps fear, made him too ready to submit. What confirms this last suggestion is, the saying of Sir Thomas
Clifford himself; who, as he came out of the house of commons, when the members had been expressing their joy in the triple alliance, spoke aloud, “Well, for all this noise, we must have another war with the Dutch before it be long."?
From whomsoever the first thought of the triple alliance proceeded, it was undoubtedly a wise and important scheme for the interests of this country, and of Europe in general. It is submitted to the reader whether the following considerations do not render it somewhat probable that the design of it might be suggested by Lord Ashley. He had the principal hand in drawing instructions for the treaty of commerce with Spain ; he was, it is evident, in possession of Monsieur de Lyonne's memorial, and consequently well acquainted with the ambitious designs of
77 At this very time Charles was making overtures to the French court. A correspondence with this view was being carried on between Buckingham and the Duchess of Orleans. Charles assured Rouvigny, the French ambassador, that he would be extremely glad to enter into the strictest union with Louis, and that he would willingly make a treaty with him as between gentleman and gentleman, as he preferred his word to all the parchment in the world.
These attempts were several times renewed during this summer, but Louis stood aloof. He wanted either confidence to trust, or gold to satisfy, his royal suitor.-- Dalrymple.
France, of the growing power of which he always expressed the greatest jealousy: he was, at that time, high in the favour of the king, * and had a great influence over him. These considerations are strengthened by the letter in the note,t which is inserted here, though out of time, to show the reputation which Lord Ashley had acquired in the kingdom of Sweden.
* Some time before the king had passed several days at Lord Asbley's house in the
Stockholm, Jan. 1, + MY LORD, 1672-3.
The choice of your excellency’s noble person to the chancellorship of England hath rejoiced this whole kingdom, and especially me, by reason of the great obligations which your bounty hath laid on me during my abode there. This preferment and dignity was due long since to your high merits; and I do humbly
assure your excellency, that it
78 Whatever may be thought of these reasons for transferring to Lord Ashley part of the honour of the triple alliance, they cannot be much strengthened by this letter, which is evidently a mere ordinary letter of compliment. Unless some better evidence than this can be produced, Sir William Temple must remain in possession of the credit which every one has hitherto ascribed to him.
From about this time the Duke of York's
power in the court was undoubtedly the prevailYork pre- ing one, and perhaps it was so before, though the
king would not permit himself to be carried on so precipitately as the duke and Clifford wished to have done. The popish interest was working secretly and in the dark; and the most prudent and effectual way to check and disappoint it, was by countermining it, and cutting off those springs from which it received its nourishment and spirit.
Our historians have said that the whole of King Charles's revenue was dissipated among his favourites and mistresses; but as the king was a secret papist, it is not improbable that part of it was employed in promoting the popish religion ; and the following account may show that the revenue of Ireland was diverted into that current.
There were great abuses in the management of this revenue. Out of the money appointed for the civil and military establishment, large sums had been applied for other purposes, and particularly for supporting in a private manner the popish interest. This was suspected by a considerable man in Ireland, who, being alarmed at it, thought necessary to communicate his suspicions to some person in England that would have
weight enough to remedy the grievance, and on whose abilities, and zeal for the protestant cause, he might rely. Though unknown to Lord Ashley, he, by means of Lord Conway, acquainted him with it. Lord Ashley procured an immediate and express order for an account of the receipts and disbursements for seven years, ending the 20th of March 1666; and, in the mean time, sent some queries to Lord Conway, to which he desired that proper answers and such farther information as could be obtained might be conveyed to him by a private and trusty messenger.
Upon receiving the order from England, the accounts were huddled up. Great sums, which had been raised for the year 1667, were anticipated in order to stop the gaps in the accounts of the preceding years; and by these accounts it appeared that, though vast sums had been paid, no reference was made to the establishments by which they had been directed. Large payments also were set down as made on his majesty's letters, the lord lieutenant's orders, concordatums, and impress warrants, without any notice to whom they were paid or on what considerations. Thus the treasury was almost exhausted; and thirteen months' arrears were due to the army, which raised a general discontent among the forces.