Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

THA NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRAPY

ASTOR, LENGE

TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

England-The War with Holland

1075 had been granted a large sum of money by Parliament with which to build a navy, whereupon he and his associates promptly squandered it in profligacy. The few ships he had were ready to fall to pieces, while their crews were on the verge of mutiny, because they had not been paid for months. On board the Dutch fleet were many English sailors who had deserted in disgust, hoping thereby to bring their sovereign to a sense of his duty. After burning several partially built men-of-war at Chatham, the invaders made their own terms of peace.

Charles had shown himself as ambitious as his father to rule without a Parliament, but he must have money. How to get it without the help of Parliament was the great problem of his reign. He found out a way at last, and though none could have been more shameful, he eagerly used it. Louis XIV. of France, the greatest monarch in Europe, was anxious to conquer Holland, that he might add it to his own kingdom and extend the power of Romanism. He made the secret treaty of Dover with Charles (May 22, 1670), by which the latter, for the price of £300,000, was to aid him in carrying out this scheme for destroying the liberty and Protestant faith of Holland. It was agreed still further that this degraded English King was to receive a pension of £200,000 a year, to date from the time he should publicly declare himself a Catholic.

Since his pay depended upon his carrying out the bargain, Charles set to work to earn the money. He brought on a war with the Dutch, but quickly found he must have more funds with which to carry it through. There was then lying in the Government treasury a sum equal to $10,000,000 in these days, which was pledged to repay the leading merchants and bankers who had made loans to the Government. The King deliberately stole this enormous sum and used most of it in pandering to his vices. A financial panic resulted, which ruined some of the oldest firms in London.

Charles' declaration of war against Holland in 1672 earned him the first bribe promised by the King of France, and he was hungry for the second, but was too cautious to come out openly as a Catholic. The nearest he dared go was to issue a proclamation of indulgence to all religions, and under this he may have intended to bestow special favors on the Catholics. Parliament replied, however, by requiring every government officer to declare himself a Protestant. This compelled the Duke of York, the next heir to the throne, to resign as Lord High Admiral, for he was a Catholic and not such a coward as to be ashamed of his religious belief.

Charles was frightened by the vigor of Parliament, and tried to wheedle it into granting him more money by marrying his niece, the Princess Mary, to William of Orange, head of the Dutch republic and the foremost Protestant on

the Continent.

Thus peace was once more made with Holland only two years

after the declaration of war.

The King was in the midst of his treacherous scheming when a vile wretch, Titus Oates, startled everybody by declaring that he had unearthed a horrifying plot among the Catholics, who were preparing to burn London, slaughter all the inhabitants, kill the King, and restore their religion. The people became frenzied with terror. Numbers of innocent persons were flung into prison; many of them were executed. Despite the hideous character of Oates, he was generally believed, and he swore away lives through a morbid craving for notoriety. There seems to have been not the slightest foundation for all his horrible charges, and the craze soon abated.

The Royal Society for the Discussion of Scientific Questions was organized during the reign of Charles II. The most amazing superstition prevailed among the educated as well as the lower classes, and there was need of some one to brush away the mists that seemed to veil all eyes. Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most remarkable mathematicians that ever lived, was born in Lincolnshire in 1642, and received the best education the times could afford. It is said that in 1665, while sitting in his garden at Woolsthorpe, the fall of an apple suggested to him the most magnificent of all his discoveries-the law of universal gravitation. He was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1671, and through many ingenious experiments brought his great discovery to perfection, unfolding it in his famous work, entitled "Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica." He was president of the Royal Society from 1703 till his death, twenty-four years later, being re-elected each year. The discovery named and many others have given Newton an illustrious rank among the greatest scientists of any age.

The Magna Charta had declared that no freeman should suffer arbitrary imprisonment, but many ways were found of breaking the law. So, in 1679, Parliament passed the famous Habeas Corpus Act, which declared that no man should be detained long in prison on a criminal charge without being brought before a judge, who should inquire into the legality of the imprisonment and arrange for a speedy trial. This merciful and just provision is one of the most precious rights guaranteed in our own country and in other leading civilized nations. It can be overridden only under stress of great public peril.

It was at this time that the two political parties came to be known by the respective names of Whig and Tory, which still prevail, though, of course, the meaning of the terms has undergone many shadings and changes. The first Whigs were the Scotch Puritans or Covenanters who rejected the Episcopacy which Charles I. tried to force upon them. The word was a term of reproach, as was that of Tory when applied to the Roman Catholic outlaws of Ireland.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRAPY

ASTER, LANGI TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

« ÎnapoiContinuă »