free ebooks

A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Che non havessero niente affatto

[481] Ruszdorf ii. 547.

[482] Al. Contarini: 'Che sempre suppose ne havessero poca cognitione, ma che adesso credeva, che non havessero niente affatto.'



For some years nothing had surprised foreigners who came to England so much as the wide severance between the government and the nation. Upon the one side they saw the King, the favourite, and his adherents; upon the other every one else. The King had lost much of the popularity which he had enjoyed when he ascended the throne; but a genuine hatred was directed against the arbitrary government of the Duke. Although it had been repressed out of regard to the King, it had again broken loose: the less practical result it produced, the more it filled all hearts.

Burdened with this hatred, and with the ground shaking under him, Buckingham was nevertheless revolving the largest enterprises in his brain. He repelled with scorn the charge of still keeping up an intercourse with Spain; that was contrary to his obligations to the Protestants. He himself, so he said, had concluded the alliances between England and Denmark and the States-General; and he wished also to abide by them. Without doubt overtures had been made on the part of Spain, and had been responded to on the part of England; but their relations had in fact been such as had led to no result. On the contrary, negotiations with France, which certainly offered some prospect of success, had been opened through the mediation of the Venetian ambassadors resident at the two courts. The English were ready to waive all other points at issue if the other side would resolve to show some indulgence, especially if they would conclude some tolerable arrangement with Rochelle. The forces of both powers would then undertake the war against the Spanish monarchy, and against the advance of the Emperor in Germany. The French army would turn its steps to Italy; the English fleet would go to the aid of the Danes: it was expected that these attacks would exert an enormous influence in all directions.[483] Buckingham was still engrossed with designs against Spain, in spite of secret but only pretended overtures to that power. He intended to attack the Spanish monarchy at the source of its greatness, in the West Indies; and by a combination of forces on the Continent to wrest the Palatinate from it, and thereby to destroy the position which it had won on the Middle Rhine. A strange ambition, although in keeping with the age and with his personal character, appears to have been connected with this design. It had entered into his head to marry his daughter to the Electoral Prince Palatine, and perhaps to give his daughter the appearance of a higher rank by getting himself declared independent prince of some West Indian conquest--Jamaica had attracted his ambition[484]:--a hope not altogether chimerical; for he was still all-powerful with Charles. Foreigners were astonished that he undertook the most extensive negotiations before he had given his sovereign notice of them. Not unlike James I he cherished the hope that the threatening attitude which he took up, even if he did not strike a blow, would dispose the French to make concessions and would restore the former understanding between them. If this were not the case, he was determined to undertake the relief of Rochelle with all his energies.

The condition of the English navy was such that he might reasonably promise himself success. We have credible information according to which Buckingham had made it half as large again as it had been in the time of Elizabeth. He had increased it from 14,000 tons burden to 22,000: he had put the dockyards and magazines at Chatham, Deptford, Woolwich, and Portsmouth into good repair; and a number of large vessels had been built under his orders. Already in May an English squadron had made an attempt to relieve Rochelle: but the commanders on that occasion would not undertake the responsibility of exposing the ships entrusted to them, to the great danger which threatened them if they made the attempt: they were apprehensive of being called to account. Buckingham was not fettered by considerations of this kind. He had had engines of extraordinary dimensions constructed, which it was expected would rend with irresistible power the mole in front of the harbour, by which Rochelle was cut off.[485] And who shall say that success would have been impossible?

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us