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singularly distinguished by talent and profligacy, and combined all the lofty and brilliant pretensions which, so combined, can make vice imposing and cast virtue into the shade: every aim, act, and thought, was a mockery of all grace and goodness, and the whole scene, with all its actors and actresses, was a vanity-fair of intrigue, corruption, infidelity, and indecency. Amidst this trying scene, the duke of Ormonde may be said to have " stood alone:" hated by the insolent courtier; feared by the corrupt and small-minded, but not malignant, monarch, who in the midst of his folly, weakness, and vice, had enough of natural good sense and tact to see and feel the real greatness of a servant of whom he was not worthy: an object of the most inveterate dislike to the miscreant combination of useless talents and efficient vices which ruled the ascendant at court; and of aversion and detestation to the abandoned women, whose favour was there the only road to a perverted respect and favour: the duke held his position unwarped from his high course and unabashed by the meretricious insolence of the court: neither assuming on one side the haughtiness of principle, nor on the other, condescending to countenance what he did not approve, or conciliate those whom he despised; but calmly and steadily watching for the occasion to do good, or neutralize evil. He was indeed disliked at court chiefly because he refused to countenance those degraded women, who humbled themselves that they might be exalted, in a sense widely differing from the divine precept; and the king, who was ruled entirely by these, and by persons who stooped to court their good offices, was compelled to preserve a demeanour of the utmost reserve to him, scarcely looking at him, and only addressing him when he could not avoid it. Nevertheless, he seldom failed to appear at court and take his place at the council, where he always gave his opinion frankly, and without either reserve or deference to any. Such was the general posture which he held in this interval: one far more trying to him than the embarrassments and emergencies of his official life. The remarks of his biographer on this period of his history should not be omitted:— "His grace remained for several years after in court, under great eclipse and mortifications; but, having a peculiar talent of bearing misfortunes with an invincible patience, the bystanders thought this to be the most glorious part of his life; and this was the very expression of his grace archbishop Sheldon to me on this occasion. However, in this state, he spared not to be chiefly instrumental to get the Irish innocents discharged from their quit-rents, and to free them also from satisfying the demands about the lapse-money,* &c, and to contribute in every thing to do them justice, notwithstanding their animosities against him."j'
The disfavour of the court did not protect the duke from the animosity of those who lived in the sunshine of its favour; even in disgrace his greatness could not be forgiven by those to whom to be virtuous alone was a full ground for the bitterest enmity; even in adversity and neglect, he was pursued with the animosity of defeated competition; his very existence seemed to cast a shadow on their baseness; and as he could not be disgraced by calumny or impeached
* Lapse-money was a snm of money deposited, which, if the purchase of lantls was not completed by a certain time, was to be forfeited by the act of settlement.
Vol. in. r
by real chicaneries, nothing remained bat anamination. We mar here instance the attempt to assassinate him by Blood, who, there is little doubt, was in the pay of Buckingham, although something maj be allowed for private enmity. Enmity alone, when the cause is considered, would not hare been sufficient to induce an attempt of such singular desperation: the prosecution of Blood, as an active ringleader of insurrection by the lord-lieutenant, was so merely official, that it was in a great measure divested of all personal character.
The duke had attended the prince of Orange to an entertainment made for him by the city of London, and was on his return home. The hour was late, and the night dark; he had reached St James* street, at the end of which he then resided in Clarendon house; his six footmen, who ordinarily walked on the street on each side of his coach, had loitered, and there was nobody near but the coachman, when suddenly as the coach entered the Hay Market, (then a road,) it was surrounded by five horsemen: they dragged the duke from the carriage, and mounted him on a horse behind the rider, who was a large and strong man. The coachman drove as fast as he could to Clarendon house, which was fortunately at hand, and there gave an alarm to the porter, and to a Mr James Clarke, who was waiting in the court; these immediately gave chase, and ordered the other servants to follow as fast as they could. In the mean time the mysterious horsemen pursued their way: they could have killed the duke with ease, and made their escape in the darkness of the night, but tho inveterate temper of Blood, or of his employer, was unsatisfied with such a simple execution of their intent. It was perhaps thought that assassination would lose its atrocity by using the implements of public justice) whatever was the feeling, Blood determined to hang tho duke at Tyburn. This resolution saved the duke; preserving his usual composure, he calculated that he should be pursued, and judged thut the principal chance in his favour would be secured by delay. Blood roue on for the purpose of preparing the gallows. The duke availed himself of the circumstance, and by struggling violently with tho miscreant who rode before him, he prevented him from going faster than a walk: they had got as far as Knightsbridge, when the duke, suddenly placing his foot under the man's, and clasping him firmly, threw himself off; and both coming to the ground, a struggle commenced in tho mud, in which the duke, though at the time of this incident, in his sixty-third year, resisted all the efforts of his antagonist until lord Berkeley's porter came out from Berkeley house, before which the struggle had taken place: the duke's own servants now also como up. On their appearance, the fellow disengaged himself, and got on horseback j but before he made his retreat he fired a case of pistols at the duke. It was however too dark for an aim, and ho was in too great a hurry to escape, as numbers of people had by this time taken the alarm, and a crowd was rushing together from ovory quarter. The duke was quite exhausted by the long struggle, and much wounded, bruised and shaken by the heavy fall, and it was found necessary to carry him home, where he was for some days confined to his bed.
The perpetrator of this daring outrage was not discovered for some time, until an attempt to steal the crown and regalia from the Tower, led to his seizure. The king, who seems to have had some weakness in favour of dissolute characters, was curious to see Blood, and to examine him himself, and the adroit ruffian had the tact to catch the character of his royal examiner at a glance. He won his favour by the assumption of the most cool audacity, acknowledged every fact, and gave such reasons as best suited the purpose and the temper of the king. Among other things, he was asked why be attempted the duke of Ormonde's life? he answered that the duke had caused his estate to be taken away, and that he and many others had bound themselves to be revenged. He now told the king that he had been engaged with others to assassinate himself, by shooting him "with a carabine from out of the reeds by the Thames' side, above Battersea, where he often went to swim: that the cause of his resolution was his majesty's severity over the consciences of the godly [he must have had strange ideas of godliness] in suppressing the freedom of their religious assemblies; but when he had taken his stand in the reeds for that purpose, his heart misgave him out of an awe of his majesty, and he not only relented himself, but diverted his companions from their design." He then told the king, "that he had laid himself sufficiently open to the law, and he might reasonably expect to feel the utmost of its rigour, for which he was prepared, and had no concern on his own account. But it would not prove a matter of such indifference to his majesty; for there were hundreds of his friends yet undiscovered, who were all bound to each other by the indispensable oaths of conspirators, to revenge the death of any of the fraternity upon those who should bring them to justice, which would expose the king and all his ministers to daily fears and apprehensions of a massacre. But on the other side, if his majesty would spare the lives of a few, he might oblige the hearts of many, who (as they had been seen to attempt daring mischiefs) would be as bold and enterprising (if received to pardon and favour) in performing eminent services to the crown."
The effect of this bravado upon the king might well have been calculated upon: Blood was pardoned. The dastardly spirit from which this mockery of mercy proceeded, was broadly distinguished from heroic magnanimity and royal clemency, by the derogatory and disgraceful addition of a pension and of royal favour. Decorum required that the duke's consent should be obtained, and Blood was desired to write to him: lord Arlington went from the king to inform his grace that it was his majesty's desire that he should pardon Blood: the duke answered, "that if the king could forgive him the stealing of his crown, he might easily forgive him the attempt on his life,* and since it was his majesty's pleasure, that was a reason sufficient for him, his lordship might spare the rest."f Blood was not only pardoned, but had an estate of £500 a-year settled on him in Ireland, and was admitted to that inner circle of court favour, to which indeed it is to be admitted, he was no inappropriate accession. To these remarks we may here add those with which Carte concludes his account of the transaction :—" No man more assiduous than he, in both the secretaries offices.
• Carte. f Ibid.
If any one had a business at court that stuck, he made his application to Blood, as the most industrious and successful solicitor, and many gentlemen courted his acquaintance, as the Indians pray to the devil that he may not hurt them. He was perpetually iu the royal apartments, and affected particularly to be in some room where the duke of Ormonde was, to the indignation of all others, though neglected and overlooked by his grace. All the world stood amazed at this mercy, countenance, and favour, shown to so atrocious a malefactor, the reason and meaning of which they could not see nor comprehend. The general opinion was, that Blood was put upon this assassination by the duke of Buckingham and the duchess of Cleveland, who both hated the duke of Ormonde mortally, and were powerful advocates to solicit and obtain his pardon. The reason assigned by the criminal for his attempt upon the duke was considered as a mere excuse, for his grace had done nothing particularly against him, more than against others concerned with him in the same - conspiracy, and put into the same proclamation. If Blood's estate at Sarney was forfeited for his treason, and upon his attainder granted by his majesty to Toby Barnes; or if his accomplices were executed after a full conviction, all this was done in the full course of government, and must have been done by any other lord-lieutenant, as well as the duke of Ormonde. Blood knew very well his own guilt, and had no reason to resent any thing in this proceeding of his grace; nor do acts merely ministerial use to produce in any, such resentments as cannot be satisfied without the assassination of a minister, who, in the discharge of his duty and the trust reposed in him by his prince, could not have spared his own father in the same case."* Carte adds several arguments to prove that there was no person so likely to be the instigator of this attempt as the duke of Buckingham. Among these, one of great weight is derived from the fact, that the designs of this splendid villain were materially interfered with by the mere presence of the duke of Ormonde. There was some discouragement in the very existence of an enemy whose character was hedged round by the respect of all the wise and good: the intrinsic value of whose opinions on every concern of importance gave him a degree of weight even in the council; and who, considering the unsettled and dangerous condition of Ireland, was still likely to be entrusted again with power, and to obtain without an effort, the restoration of those honours, appointments, and influence, which his unprincipled and in every way unworthy rival was working' through a hundred dirty channels to secure for himself and his accomplices.
We must, for the present, pass by the history of Irish affairs: they are indeed of little historical interest, and may be more fully brought together in some one of the following memoirs, as belonging to the train of events and circumstances which preceded and accompanied the revolution of 1688. During this period of his life—one of court disfavour, but of honour in the better judgment of Europe—the duke of Ormonde was engaged in the council upon the consideration of all matters relative to English or foreign affairs, but entirely excluded
* Vol. II.
from the committee on the affairs of Ireland. It is true that he was appealed to by that class of the Roman catholics, who had refused to accede to the communications of their brethren with the Roman court, and who had joined in the remonstrance: there was at this time a secret court-party in favour of the views of that court, and the ultrapapists were not only favoured, but their enmity against their more moderate and loyal brethren, seconded by acts of persecution which we shall not now detail. They applied to the duke, who wrote in their favour to the lord-lieutenant, but to no other purpose but that of drawing upon himself the mortification of a slight. We here add a part of one of the duke's letters on this subject, as it sufficiently explains the whole, and places his conduct in its proper light:—" And now, my lord, that you may not judge me to be impertinent in my interposition in the matter, and in your government, give me leave to tell you, why I take myself to lie under more than the ordinary obligation of a counsellor to mind his majesty of the remonstrators, and to endeavour to free them from the slavery and ruin prepared for them for that reason, however other pretences are taken up. Some of those very remonstrators, and other of their principles are and were those who opposed the rebellious violence of the nuncio and his party, when the king's authority then in my hands was invaded, and at length expelled that kingdom, for which they suffered great vexation in foreign parts, when the fear of the usurpers had driven them out of their own country. These are the men, who, on the king's return, in their remonstrance disowned the doctrine, upon which those proceedings of the nuncio were founded; and these are the men very particularly recommended by the king to my care and encouragement, during all the time of my government. And now, I leave it to your lordship to judge, whether in duty to the king, with safety to my reputation, or in honesty to them, I can receive so many complaints of oppression from them as I do, and not endeavour that at least they may quietly enjoy their share of that indulgence which his majesty vouchsafes to others of their profession, free from those disturbances which are given them upon that account by those who abetted the contrary proceedings. I have drawn this to a greater length than is necessary, being directed to one so reasonable as your excellency, but it is my desire to acquit myself from the imputation of so mean a thing as seems to be laid to my charge, and to show that in this matter I have done nothing but what may consist with my being as I am, —My lord, &c,
In 1673, the lady Thurles, mother to the duke, died at the advanced age of eighty-six. He had for some time meditated a visit to Ireland, and his determination was probably hastened by this event. He was perhaps also wearied with the long continuance of galling humiliations which he was compelled to sustain in his attendance at court, and under which any one but himself must long before have given way. By this time, at which we are arrived, these annoyances had greatly increased: so great was become the ascendance of the rout of knaves
* Carte, II.