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He spent little of his time in reading and study, and still less in thinking. So indifferent was he to his situation, that it is said that had Cromwell offered him a good round pension he would have readily resigned to him his title to the crown.
On all occasions he was accustomed to say, without any regard to truth, what he thought would be most acceptable, so that his words and promises flowed very freely, and in the end no one had the least confidence in his professions. He entertained a most infamous opinion of mankind, believing that people in all their actions are actuated solely by self-interest; hence he never manifested any gratitude towards those who had assisted him in his adversity, and his favours were as readily conferred on the enemies of his family as those who had shed their blood in its defence. During the more active part of his life he was so completely given up to sloth and pleasure that he scarcely took any part in public affairs, and they were left entirely to the management of his brother and ministers. Though he was anxious to become absolute, and overturn both the religion and liberties of the people, yet he was so mean and selfish in his nature, that he was too cowardly to run the risk, and too indolent to take the trouble so great an undertaking required. He had an appearance of gentleness in his out. ward deportment, but his heart was void of humanity, and in the end of his reign he became cruel. Merciful from indifference or caprice, he sometimes pardoned the most enormous crimes, even blood itself; but after the Act of Indemnity, a measure originating more in policy than humanity, he never forgave an offence which menaced his own personal safety. In his hating business and his love of pleasure, his raising his favourites and trusting them entirely, his pulling them down and hating them excessively, his art of covering the deepest designs, especially revenge, with an appearance of gentleness and affability, he strongly resembled the Roman Emperor Tiberius ; but if their vices were equal, the Roman tyrant far surpassed Charles in ability, wisdom, foresight, and industry.
Kings of England, p. 158.
CHRONICLE. 1661, April 23. The king crowned at Westminster : he was at that time in his 30th year. 1662, May 21. The marriage between Charles and the Infanta of Portugal was solemnised at Portsmouth. June 14, Sir Henry Vane beheaded on Tower. hill for high treason. Oct. 17. Dunkirk sold to the French king for £500,000. 1665. War proclaimed against the Dutch. June 3. The English obtained a victory over the Dutch off Harwich, taking eighteen capital ships, and destroying fourteen more. July 27. The king and court removed to Salisbury on account of the plague. 1667, June 11. The Dutch sailed up the Medway as far as Chatham, made themselves masters of Sheerness, and burnt the Royal Oak, the Loyal London, and the Great James, with several other English men-of-war. They likewise burnt a
magazine full of stores to the value of £40,000, and blew up the fortifications, retiring with the loss of only two of their ships, which ran aground and were burnt by themselves. The English, apprehensive of their coming up to London-bridge, sunk thirteen ships at Woolwich and four at Blackwall. August 30. The great seal taken from Lord Clarendon. Nov. 12. Lord Clarendon impeached of high treason. 1668, Jan. 13. Sir William Temple concludes the triple alliance by which England, Holland, and Sweden bind themselves to assist Spain against the ambition of France under Louis XIV. Jan. 16. Duel between the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Shrewsbury, in which the former had one of his seconds killed on the spot, and Shrewsbury was mortally wounded; it is said that Lady Shrewsbury, in the dress of a page, held the duke's horse while he was fighting with her husband. 1670. In this year the celebrated Mr. Prynne died. 1671, May 9. Blood attempts to steal the regalia from the Tower; the Monument, erected in memory of the great fire, was begun this year by Sir Christopher Wren, and finished 1677. 1674, June. About this time died John Milton, the author of “Paradise Lost.' 1678. Titus Oats and Dr. Tonge give information of the Popish plot. 1682, Nov. 30. Prince Rupert died, and was buried in Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster. 1683, June 14. The Ryehouse Plot discovered. July 2. Lord William Russel tried and convicted of high treason. July 20. Lord William Russel beheaded in Lincoln's-inn-fields. 28. Sir George Jeffreys, the infamous judge, made Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Nov. 7. Algernon Sidney arraigned at the King's Bench bar for high treason ; 21st he was brought to trial ; 26th condemned; and on the 7th Dec. beheaded on Tower-hill. 1684. About the beginning of December began a very hard frost, which continued to the 5th of February without intermission; the 'Thames was frozen, and covered with booths as at a fair; coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from other stairs; an ox was roasted whole, bulls baited, and the like. Dec. 13. Charles proposed the erecting Chelsea College into an hospital for decayed cavaliers. 1685, Feb. 2. The king was seized with a fit of apoplexy, and died on the 6th at Whitehall. In this reign muslin was first manufactured in England, and the use of tea as an ordinary beverage was adopted. Masquerading was in great vogue among the ladies of the court; the Queen, the Duchess of Richmond, and the Duchess of Buckingham went, in the disguise of country lasses, to a fair at Audley End, but they were quickly discovered by their fanciful dresses and affected speaking, and frightened away. It was common for ladies of quality to patch their faces, and wear masks, when they appeared at the playhouse, or any other public place where they wished to be unknown.
REIGN OF JAMES II.
THE DUKE OF MONMOUTH. James, Duke of Monmouth, was one of the many natural sons of Charles II. by Lucy Walters, and born about ten years before the restoration. He possessed all the qualities which could gain the affections of the populace--a distinguished valour, an affable address, a thoughtless generosity, a graceful person. He rose still higher in public favour, by reason of the universal hatred to which James, on account of his religion, was opposed. Monmouth's capacity was mean, his temper pliant; so that, notwithstanding his great popularity, he had never been dangerous to the king, had he not implicitly resigned himself to the guidance of Shaftesbury, a man
of most restless temper, subtle wit, and abandoned principles. That daring politician had flattered Monmouth with the hope of succeeding to the crown. The story of a contract of marriage, passed between the late king and Monmouth's mother, and secretly kept in a certain black box, had been industriously spread abroad, and was greedily swallowed by the multitude. As the horrors of popery pressed hard upon them, it was not improbable that they should incline to adopt that fiction, or to commit an open violation on the right of succession. But Charles, before his death, in order to cut off all such expectations, as well as to remove the apprehensions of James, took care in full council to make a declaration of Monmouth's illegitimacy, and to deny all promise of marriage with his mother.
Monmouth afterwards became an exile on the Continent; but his hopes of the succession were by no means destroyed. After the accession of James, in conjunction with the Earl of Argyle, he determined to make an effort to dispossess his rival by force. He landed at Lime, in Dorsetshire, with scarcely a hundred followers ; yet so popular was his name, that in the space of four days he had assembled above two thousand horse and foot. The Duke of Albemarle, son to General Monk, who had restored the royal family, assembled the militia of Devonshire to the number of 4,000 men, in order to oppose the insurgents, but observing that his troops bore a great affection to Monmouth, he thought proper to retire. Monmouth, though he had given many proofs of personal courage, had not the promptitude and vigour of mind necessary to this undertaking. From an ill-grounded diffidence in his men he neglected to attack Albemarle, an easy enterprise, by which he would have encouraged his adhererts, and have supplied himself with armis. Lord Gray, who commanded his horse, discovered himself to be a notorious coward ; being sent out with a small party, he saw a few of the militia, and ran away, but his men stood firm, and the militia ran from them; yet such was the
easiness of Monmouth's temper, that he continued Gray in his command. The insurgents next marched to Taunton, which gladly received them, and made considerable addition to their numbers. Twenty young maids, of some rank, presented Monmouth with a pair of colours of their handy work, together with a copy of the bible. *
He here was persuaded to take upon himself the title of king, and assert his legitimacy, a point which till then he had declined the discussion of. His numbers now had increased to 6,000, and he was obliged every day, for want of arms, to dismiss a great many who crowded to his standard. He entered Bridgewater, Wells, and Frome; and was proclaimed in all these places. But forgetting that such enterprises can only succeed by the most adventurous courage, he allowed the expectations of the people to languish, and although in possession of all the country for more than a fortnight, he attempted nothing considerable.
While Monmouth was wasting his time in the west, the king was making vigorous preparations to oppose him. Six regiments of British troops were called over from Holland; the army was considerably augmented, and regular forces, to the number of 3,000, were despatched, under the command of Feversham and Churchill, to check the progress of the rebels.
Monmouth observing that no considerable men joined him, finding that an insurrection which was projected in the city had not taken place, and hearing that Argyle, his confederate, was
* These unfortunate children were afterwards singled out as especial victims for the rapacity of the queen's ladies, who, like their royal mistress, traded in pardons, and realised large sums from the supporters of Monmouth; their tender mercies are thus described by Mr. Macaulay, in his History of England, vol. i., p. 649:
“They exacted a thousand pounds from Roger Hoare, a merchant of Bridgewater, who had contributed to the military chest of the rebel army. But the prey on which they pounced most eagerly was one which it might have been thought that even the most ungentle natures would have spared. Already some of the girls who had presented the standard to Monmouth, at Taunton, had cruelly expiated this offence; one of them had been thrown into a prison where an infectious malady was raging ; she had sickened and died there. Another had presented herself at the bar before Jeffreys, to beg for mercy. “ Take her, jailor," vociferated the judge, with one of those frowns which had often struck terror into stouter hearts than hers. She burst into tears, drew ber hood over her face, followed the jailor out of court, fell ill of fright, and in a few hours was a corpse. Most of the young ladies, however, who had walked in the procession were still alive. Some of them were under ten years of age. All had acted under the orders of their schoolmistress, without knowing that they were committing a crime. The queen's maids of honour asked the royal permission to wring money out of the parents of the poor children; and permission was granted. An order was sent down to Taunton that all these little girls should be seized and imprisoned. Sir Francis Warre, of Hestercombe, the Tory member for Bridgewater, was requested to undertake the office of exacting the ransom ; he was charged to declare in strong language that the maids of honour would not endure delay, that they were determined to prosecute to outlawry, unless a reasonable sum were forthcoming, and by that reasonable sum was meant seven thousand pounds. Warre excused himself from taking any part in a transaction so scandalous. The maids of honour then requested William Penn to act for them, and Penn accepted the commission. In the end the ladies were forced to content themselves with less than a third part of what they had demanded.
already defeated and taken, sunk into such despondency, that he at once resolved to withdraw himself, and leave his unhappy fol. lowers to their fate. His followers exhibited more courage than their leader, and seemed determined to adhere to him in every fortune. The negligent disposition made by Feversham invited Monmouth to attack the king's army at Sedgemoor, near Bridgewater ; and his men in this action showed what a native courage and a principle of duty, even when unassisted by discipline, is able to perform. They threw the veteran forces into disorder, drove them from their ground, continued the fight till their ammunition failed them, and would at last have obtained a victory, had not the misconduct of Monmouth, and the cowardice of Gray, prevented it. After a combat of three hours the rebels gaye way, and were followed with great slaughter. About 1,500 men fell in the battle and pursuit. And thus concluded in a few weeks this rashly undertaken and badly conducted enterprise.
Monmouth fled from the field of battle above twenty miles, till his horse sunk under him; he then changed his clothes with a peasant, in order to conceal himself. The peasant was discovered by the pursuers, who now redoubled the diligence of their search. At last the unhappy Monmouth was found lying at the bottom of a ditch, and covered with fern, his body depressed with fatigue and hunger, his mind by the memory of past misfortunes, by the prospect of future disasters. Human nature is unequal to such calamitous situations, much more the temper of a man, softened by early prosperity, and accustomed to value himself solely on military bravery. He burst into tears when seized by his enemies, and he seemed still to indulge the fond hope and desire of life. Though he might have known, from the unrelenting severity of James's temper, that no mercy could be expected, he wrote him the most submissive letters, and conjured him to spare the issue of a brother who had ever been so strongly attached to his interests. James finding such symptoms of depression and despondency in his prisoner, admitted him to his presence, in hopes of extorting a discovery of his accomplices; but Monmouth would not purchase life, however loved, at the price of so much infamy. Finding all efforts vain he assumed courage from despair, and prepared himself for death with a spirit better suited to his rank and character.
This favourite of the people was attended to the scaffold with a plentiful effusion of tears. When he saw the axe he touched it, and said it was not sharp enough. He gave the hangman only half the usual fee, and told him that if he cut off his head cleverly, and not so butcherly as he did the unfortunate Russell's, his man would give him the rest. This precaution served only to dismay the executioner; he struck a feeble blow on Monmouth, who, raising his head from the block, looked him in the face, as if reproaching him for his failure. He gently laid down his head a second time, and the executioner struck him again and again to no purpose ; he then threw aside the axe, and said he was inca