|64. Account of England, by Pietro Mocenigo. (fn. 2) |
The British crown, formed by the serious troubles of foreign and civil wars, has raised itself at the present time to constitute a powerful dyke to restrain the course of victorious princes, serving as a counterpoise for balancing the crowns, and gives peace to the Christian world.
It arises from this that I, Pietro Mocenigo, in obedience to the order to report to your Serenity on the state of this country, undertake the task with dutiful promptness, trusting to the great kindness of the Senate, which will have compassion on my imperfections as it had the generosity to put up with my weaknesses in the course of the embassy.
I beg, therefore, to state that as naval forces are the most important for states, England, in consequence comes to be one of the greatest powers, since her strength is founded on naval forces. This country has the Ocean for its territory where by the practice of navigation it carries on trade with the world or establishes its dominions by the mobile fortresses of its ships. These combining strength and speed, extend the glorious traffic of their own valour to the ends of the earth.
Being so formidable to other nations England has the less cause to fear the forces of foreigners, the nature of her position constituting her security, as well as her application to the command of the sea. As the sea causes wealth and arms to flourish in that island, so the land blesses the country by its fertility, affording abundant crops for sustenance. If they lack wine there is abundance of bread, while rich mines of tin, lead and iron make good this omission and allow the inhabitants the convenience of exchanging their own for the goods of others.
The abundance of the country appears in the condition of the people, as the blemish of mendicity is not seen, even among the lowest. But the wealth of the city of London, with a population of 600,000 and over, shows it more easily, as the mercantile class abounds there and from that centre a precious capital is manufactured with most important results for trade. The mart has not experienced the failure of a single merchant. This is matched by the marvel that when the city was rebuilt, the use of wood for the walls was replaced by that of stone, and the city is renewed, magnificent and sumptuous, after an interval that was no longer than was required for the removal of the debris left by the fire.
To the greatness of this most noble realm is joined the subjection of those of Scotland and Ireland, the latter fertile and inhabited by a warlike race, the former conspicuous as the ancient patrimony of the royal house. It would be rendered more fortunate if the union were carried out of which I wrote to your Serenity, when by incorporation with the fine body (corpo specioso) of Great Britain Scotland would come to receive the quality of England, the two nations interchanging naturalisation with mutual correspondence.
The crown has extended its power to the ends of the earth, possessing states in the four parts of the world. From Europe it has advanced to make considerable acquisitions in America; in Asia it possesses ports of the Indies, as well as important fortresses in Africa. New England, Virginia and a part of Florida are vast countries on the continent of America of the English dominion. These together with the most important island of Jamaica and those of Barbados, San Cristoforo and others adjacent, as well as a great stretch of isolated territory towards the north, called Newfoundland, are the foundations of the British power in that new world which, peopled by English colonists and by Moors bought in Guinea and transported thither to cultivate the soil, prove of great consequence to the interests of the crown as well as to the importance of trade.
In the East Indies England possesses the islands of Bombaim, near Goa, obtained from the king of Portugal as dowry of the queen, as well as the ports of Sorat and Bantam, which serve as a place of repair for the ships of the company, and as a mart for the trade of China and of the kingdoms of the East.
The ports of Africa are some fortresses on the Guinea coast and in the province of Gailont, the very considerable fortress of Tanger. The English make great capital of this place, important for its position and of great consequence to the crown. The designs for building the mole I submitted to the Senate in my despatches, and I need not trouble your Excellencies with it now. Up to the present, however, it has been nothing but a very heavy expense to the king, as the protection of the mole is difficult, in deep water, where work is difficult. Here also, while they are losing hope of opening that mart for trade with the kingdoms of Morocco and the Holy Land, their fears increase about the tricks of the barbarians, and they are obliged to keep a large garrison and to watch over its safety.
The British crown being adorned with such jewels, his Majesty relies on the greatness of the kingdom and the power of the nation. Now that the country is enjoying the tranquillity of peace, since it is strongly defended by nature, the troops are limited to the guards of the king and of the royal house alone, to the number of four to five thousand good horse and foot, comprising also the few soldiers kept in garrison at Windsor castle and for the defence of some posts on the frontier of France. In Scotland 3000 foot and a few horse, divided out in quarters and garrisons, are maintained out of the exchequer of that country. In Ireland 6000 foot and 1000 horse paid also from the revenues of the country, form the garrison of the island.
At sea the king had thirty ships of war, twenty of them against the corsairs of Algiers and ten serving on convoy duty for the merchant ships. But in the Arsenal of the kingdom 140 ships are in reserve with the furnishings for equipping a most powerful fleet. The inferior ones carry forty to fifty guns, and the larger ones up to 120. The crews of the latter amount to 800 men and those of the former to 200 and more. With equal numbers the English fleet will always be stronger than the Dutch one, because as the ports of the Provinces are not deep enough the Dutch cannot build ships as large as the English ones. To the fleet of war frigates the king can always have merchant ships added, capable of being armed, of which the nation possesses from three to four thousand, for trade. From the number of these merchantmen your Excellencies may conclude how great is the trade which this country has in all parts of the world. As it is important to be acquainted with the trade of England, the Senate will suffer me to trace its history from the beginning, showing how, in a short time trade has blossomed out and made such progress in that island, that money is drawn to it by the devices of the traders.
Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, who in government overcame the disabilities of her sex and would have deserved a great name if she had not founded her dominion upon the persecution of the Catholics, has the merit of this great work. This lady, as proud as she was sagacious, succeeded in reducing the trade of the Hanse towns, who were then the only ones who carried on trade in the north, the English then being content to enjoy the fruits of their rich country in peace, leaving to other nations to transport their own wool and minerals, in exchange for what they required. Your Excellencies will observe that this change of trade in the north was the origin of the in jury to this city, which had been the emporium of the world, because that nation, allured by the profits of trade, caused its own ships to pass through the Strait into the Mediterranean, unlike the Hanseatic (fn. 3) ships which had as their goal the ports of Spain and Portugal on the Ocean.
The foundation upon which the queen built the trade of the country was the action of the companies, the people being encouraged to compete by the grant of privileges, the exportation of wool forbidden and the manufacture of cloth enjoined. This essential work being directed with close application, she had the satisfaction of seeing various companies of traders formed in London in a short time, both for the North and for the Mediterranean and for the East Indies, and with these prospering, the nation applied itself also the trade of Africa, one company being formed for Guinea and another for the Canaries.
At this point I think it my duty to explain to the Senate the nature of these companies, so that you may appreciate the greatness as well as the importance of the trade to England. I will begin with the Levant or Turkey Company, which is of the greatest consequence in connection with the interests of your Excellencies. Its foundations are laid on the ruin wrought by the war on the trade of this city, the English having entered into competition with the other nations in the marts of the Levant at the favourable conjuncture through the absence of the Venetian consuls. The Turkey Company is a collection of merchants who, for having introduced the trade in the Levant, obtained from Queen Elizabeth the privilege of the monopoly of that trade. One who is not a member of that Company cannot trade except by a contribution of 20 per cent., and as this is excessive, it is not embraced by any one. It is true that the way to enter the Company is open by the payment of a competent sum of money. The Company has no capital or common fund for trading, each one trading freely his own private capital according to his own judgment, without any connection with his fellow members. Every trader is obliged to contribute to the Company so much per cent. of his own effects, in order to make the provision necessary for paying for the embassy at Constantinople, the consuls at the marts and for the presents to the Basha, in the event of accidents. This money is collected, administered and expended by the heads of the Company, elected as presidents.
Their greatest trade is at the marts of Constantinople, Smyrna, Aleppo and Alexandretta, where they dispose of a prodigious quantity of cloth. It is estimated that the total of 50,000 pieces of cloth is exported from England every year, but of a common quality for the use of the lower classes. These are manufactured from the wool of the country by rich merchants, who are not subjected to any tax whatsoever in the production of their cloth, so that they can sell it at low prices, attracting a crowd of buyers and reaping the advantage.
In addition to cloth trade is increased by the transport of lead, tin, iron ware, materials of every sort. Thus when the war of Candia was raging, the merchants derived large profits from the transmission of gunpowder and of all sorts of materials required for the war, in competition with the Dutch, whose merchants, from motives of gain, brought the rope to sell to those who were to hang them. This Company besides a quantity of pepper (fn. 4) also transmits to the Levant in cash to the amount of 200,000 pieces of eight, and an even greater sum when it is able to profit by the issue of money of base alloy.
From the mart of Alexandria the English ships have already been withdrawn, that trade being abandoned for lack of cargo. as they get their linen from more convenient parts, as they do sugar and spices which are obtained by England in great abundance from their own dominions in America and the East Indies. But while the Levant trade is much greater than that of the States of Holland, that of the East Indies is out of harmony with (fn. 5) such prosperity.
For the East India trade likewise a company has been founded in London different from that of the Levant. This is built upon the collection of a rich capital administered by heads or presidents of past times. The capital of this company is much reduced at the present time and the trade damaged by the sagacity of the Dutch, who have possessed themselves little by little of many fortresses in those parts, introducing garrisons and armed warships in those seas. Having thus made themselves arbiters of the navigation, they have obliged the kings and princes of the Indies, who are lords of the best ports, not to give trade to English ships; and they do not even stop short of the use of violence, (fn. 6) justified on the ground of having war with the Indians, to whom it was not proper to bring trade and succour from Europe. But this is not the affair of the present relation, and I shall not enlarge upon the procedure, the cruelty and the strength of the Dutch in the Indies, to the prejudice of the English and the other European nations. It is enough to let the Senate know that the Dutch company has attained to such power in those parts that it maintains ordinarily 30,000 combatants on land; eighty (fn. 7) ships of war always armed at sea besides seventy ships in reserve in those ports, to be armed in case of need.
Besides the diminution of trade the English company also suffered injury by the export of gold from the country, as they had to conduct this trade with 200,000l. sterling in actual gold, since they only had a few effects to exchange against the treasures of the East; a consideration that makes it probable that such trade for England or peace with Holland will not last for long.
Such a forecast was experienced by the Guinea Company. In the last war with Holland the English were driven from the coasts of Africa, and having lost the fortresses which they had there, only Cormantin being left, their merchant ships became a prey to the Dutch, as well as the trade in slaves and the whole of their traffic in those seas, so that the company was ruined and left without the capital which it had for founding the trade.
The Muscovy Company also is dissolved, the privileges which the English nation enjoyed in the port of St. Michael Archangel having been taken away by the Grand Duke because of the civil wars. Accordingly all the trade of the North and of the Baltic remains free to every one who wishes to engage in it, there being no other company at present, except for the city of Hamburg, for the cloth trade.
There was another company for the Canary Islands, which based practically all its business on the wines which are brought from there to England. But as the king considered that it would serve the public better to leave this trade free to any one, the company is now abolished and this traffic at present goes under the name of Spanish trade. This is of the greatest importance and from it money enters England for a million pieces of eight a year, besides wine; the kingdoms of Spain providing themselves with wollen manufactures of all kinds, especially baizes, with lead and tin. Trade with France, on the other hand, is different, whither a quantity of money goes to pay for the wines, aquavita, and textiles which England lacks.
The trade of America is also free to every English subject to practise. It progresses steadily and becomes more flourishing. The cultivation of Jamaica is developed, the islands of Barbados and St. Christopher colonised and industry introduced into the provinces of New England, Virginia and Florida. Such is the trade of England, extended throughout the whole world which raises the crown to a great pitch of esteem, showing that commerce is the true basis of the greatness of states, setting up that formidable power, navigation, which carries on its wings the glories of the principality throughout the universe.
To avoid abusing the patience of the Senate by this digression I go on to say something about the parliament, a most essential part of the kingdom of England. Parliament is the representative of the whole kingdom, over which the royal person presides as chief, with the nobility and people as members. The nobility forms the Upper House, in which the first born of the titled classes take part, and the archbishops and bishops, representing the clergy, also take part. The Lower House is composed of deputies chosen by the towns and counties; but though they represent the people, the members chosen are practically all noble cadets of family, indeed many are the eldest sons of lords, who have not the right to enter the Upper House while their fathers are alive.
It rests with the king to summon and dismiss parliament, which cannot be assembled except by the royal authority, which is such that even if the two Houses have agreed upon a law, it is null unless it receives the royal assent. The provision of money depends upon parliament, since the ordinary revenues barely suffice for the expenses in time of peace. It appears then that for making war on other powers, authority rests with the king and the means with parliament.
The tranquillity of the country and the power of the nation depend upon the perfect harmony between the royal authority and the Houses of parliament, and this harmony is the sole remedy for cutting off the seditious novelties which swarm, owing to the differences in religion. Having wandered from the path of the true faith that people applies itself to discover the good way in that labyrinth of confessions, and from the interpretation of the bible everybody imagines that he will find again what was commanded by Christ and instituted in the primitive church. From this arises the multiplicity of sects, which are as numerous as those who profess to read the Holy Scriptures. I will not weary your Excellencies by giving an account of a thousand foolish fantasies. I will merely state briefly the chief of the schisms produced among that people.
Your Excellencies must know that there are three kinds of religion in England. I leave out the Catholic, as it would be an offence to mingle it with the impurity of these false opinions. Its condition and the honour received from your minister, to whom its interests were confided, have been reported by me on several occasions, The three kinds of religion, segregated from the Roman Catholic are the Protestant, the Presbyterian and the Sectaries. The one set up by the apostacy is called Protestant, and is professed by the king and the Anglican clergy. It accepts the government of bishops for the church and is friendly to the monarchy. The Presbyterian or Puritan, cavilling over the purity of religion, rejects the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the idea of the absolute authority of the priests. This with its principles inclines its followers to an aristocratic government. The third, of the Sectaries, splits up into very many sects. As they differ but little from each other it is enough to mention the four chief ones, which are Independents, Quakers, Anabaptists and Fifth Monarchy. I will not weary your Excellencies by describing the nature of their lunatic opinions. It is enough to say that they are the declared and bitter enemies of the monarchy, always preaching democratic government, communistic life, and the liberty accorded to man by nature. They believe that there is no other superior but God; that reverence (fn. 8) is due to Him and not to men. They admit the practice of official and civil life but they do not even respect the person of the king himself by raising their hats. The country abounds in fanatics of this sort, and as the city of London abounds in Presbyterians the Protestant party is reduced to a scanty following. Such is the condition of the people and dominion of the king of England, from which it is not difficult to appreciate his superfine prudence, which amid so many agitations gives quiet to the kingdom and allows all Europe to enjoy the results of his admirable direction.
King Charles II has attained the age of 41 years and has learned from his well known misfortunes not to fear the aspect of either good or bad fortune. He is of a generous and intrepid spirit, with a quick and ready intelligence full of good qualities and of scientific knowledge, which, joined with a natural affability, win him at once affection and respect. He possesses many tongues, but the one he uses most is French. He understands Italian but does not care to speak it.
His own pleasures do not distract his attention from attending to the serious affairs of government. He is assiduous at the councils and over important matters, consulting only those who enjoy his most intimate confidence. By his adroitness he has reduced the sentiments of the members of parliament to submission to himself, and has extracted from that assembly all that he could desire for the quiet of the country and for the greatness of the crown. In the eleven years since his restoration he has obtained extraordinary provisions of money to the amount of 12 millions sterling, not only to make war, in order to remove the injury done to English trade by the States of Holland, but to meet other expenses touching the service of the country.
The ordinary revenue of the king is about 1,200,000l. sterling a year, raised from the customs duties on wine, tobacco, beer, and a constant tax upon hearths. This revenue is exiguous for the very heavy expenses which the king has, to maintain the royal household, the Court, the ministers, the ambassadors, the ships of war to guard the seas, the guards of the army, and the charge of the fortress of Tanger. All these costs are incurred with great generosity, as they do not know what economy is in that country, indeed charges increase in accordance with the rank of the person. The king is very heavily charged in all the expenses which he has to bear, and in addition the royal purse has many holes by which money flows out, running in crooked streams to feed the aridity (fn. 9) of private domains. His Majesty would be glad (fn. 10) to render the queen fertile, as the birth of a prince of Wales, heir to the crown, would bring down the blessings of the people, with acclamations of the greatest content among them all.
The queen is the sister of Don Alfonso and Don Pietro of Portugal. She came to England with a rich dowry of territory, jewels and promises of ready money. She is a princess endowed with distinguished mental (di animo) qualities and of admirable virtue and prudence. She keeps aloof from business, and does not meddle in the least with the public or private affairs of the country. She is beloved by persons of every sort and the very enemies of the Catholic name admit her goodness. But the fact that she has given no children to the kingdom detracts somewhat from the veneration and glory that she would otherwise enjoy. Of the highest importance is the benefit that the Catholic faith receives from her intense piety, because by maintaining a formal church with cloisters of religion, monastic habits and the performance of the divine offices, she causes the free exercise of the Roman Church to glow amid the fog of these heresies.
At this point I may refer to the ample privilege of the ambassadors to keep an open chapel, with an abundance of masses and parochial exercises, in all freedom and drawing an admirable concourse. I take credit to myself for having, in competition with the ambassadors of France and Spain, caused the piety of the most serene republic to shine forth, giving facilities for daily access to the church, without any consideration for the considerable expense which the maintenance of a formal parish involves.
Very convenient also was the chapel of the queen mother, which she kept in London in her own royal palace of Somerset (fn. 11) in spite of her having established her domicile in France. (fn. 12) The chapel was served by French Capuchins until her death. The singular qualities of that queen are known to the world. She came to England to receive a crown of thorns. Her life was a perpetual martyrdom. She experienced the dreadful spectacle of the king, her husband, and the wretchedness and misery of her royal children. Of five children that she brought into the world only the king and the duke of York are still alive. The duke of Gloucester, the duchess of Orleans and the princess of Orange all died in the flower of their youth. Of these I need say no more than what is generally reported, that they were princes of eminent qualities befitting their birth.
Divine Providence has preserved the duke of York, the foundation of the royal House, a prince as good as he is prudent. Arrived at the age of thirty seven (fn. 13) his most kindly bearing displays the great qualities of his spirit. The king shows the affection and esteem that he professes for his Highness by a generous assignment of appanages, decorating him with influential titles and admitting him to the confidence of important transactions. By the recently deceased countess of Clarendon, eldest daughter of the lord chancellor, his wife, he has three daughters and a son, the duke of Cambridge. But his very delicate constitution and frequent attacks of deadly sickness, when he has not yet completed five years, show that his survival cannot be counted upon. This consideration will cause the duke, his father, to decide speedily about his marriage, since he is the legitimate heir of the kingdom.
After this offspring there is no one to question the preeminence of the prince of Orange who, as son of the eldest sister, is the nearest to the crown. That prince is tenderly loved by the king, whose support will count for much for the prince's restoration by the provinces of Holland to the conspicuous position of his ancestors. In consideration of his Majesty he has been admitted by the Lords States to their council of State and an attempt will be made to secure for him a large pension and the title of captain general of the Provinces, a position held with distinction by his progenitors. When he arrived in England the king had it declared and enregistered that he was to have precedence before Prince Rupert, brother of the Elector Palatine, as being nearest to the royal stock.
Prince Rupert is son of the Princess Elizabeth called the queen of Bohemia, sister of the late king of England and wife of the late elector Palatine. The prince made the Court of London his domicile, fighting for the king in the civil wars, in which he gave conspicuous proof of his valour, as he did in the last war against the Dutch, distinguishing himself by his courage in command of a squadron of the fleet. He is 51 years of age and enjoys a royal pension of 6000l. sterling. He is appointed governor of Windsor Castle, and a member of the Council of State, being admitted to the confidence of the cabinet. He has no appanage from his brother the elector, indeed he refused what was offered him on condition of restoring the jewels of his mother, which he appropriated after her death, which took place in London. Amicable relations between the brothers being upset by this pretension, the prince will always enjoy the protection of the king here, who is not well disposed to the elector. According to report, at the time of the troubles in England that prince treated with parliament to obtain the crown, as being of the blood royal. (fn. 14)
Connected with the royal house are the dukes of Richmond and Monmouth, (fn. 15) the latter a natural son of the present king, a youth of noble disposition, the former a branch of the House of Stuart. But as the princes of the blood and the king's brothers, although acknowledged, cut no figure in England, so as they do not rank as princes the only privilege they enjoy is their consideration as distinguished lords of this Court, both being members of the order of the Garter.
Having thus described the persons of the royal house I think that the next subject in order will be an account of the ministry of the earl of Clarendon, lord chancellor of England, to whom the king, in the guise of a favourite, entrusted the direction of all the interests of the realm. I think it necessary that the reasons for his ascendency should be known as well as those for his fall.
The loyalty which Edward, earl of Clarendon professed for the crown was quite properly the foundations of his greatness. As a lawyer and member of parliament of the Lower House, he always espoused the royal side, even after the fatal and deplorable accident of King Charles I. Leaving England with all his family, he showed what the true loyalty of subjects ought to be by following the fate of his natural prince, the legitimate heir to the throne. When by the Divine mercy the portentous pilgrimage of the king was ended and he was recalled by his people to his throne, the earl received the office of lord chancellor in reward, as a token of the royal gratitude, and was thus made keeper of the great seal as a sign of authority and esteem.
A few months after this good fortune he had the consolation of seeing the marriage of his eldest daughter to the duke of York, and believed that in this way he had fixed a nail in the wheel of Fortune. His activity in affairs, his ready wit and his eloquence won him favour in the generous mind of the king. Taking in his hands the reins of government he showed that his capacity was equal to directing that great machine. But being a man of austere character, in that great good fortune, he allowed himself to be carried away easily to the errors of excessive felicity. His spirit being uplifted by ambition he considered it convenient for his greatness to raise up the base condition of those who abased themselves to him, despising the decorous reserve of the nobility. As a greater support to his fortune, he made it his policy to introduce the Cromwellians to the ministries of the Court, with the idea of winning over that party also, since he believed that the king's own party could not possibly fail him. It was also a maxim of his to keep out of the government gentlemen of distinction deserving well of the crown, so that, by insinuating themselves into the king's grace they should not prejudice his favour.
He also looked for support from his dealing with the religious question. Professing a belief in Presbyterianism he considered it a clever stroke to win that party, which is very large in England, or, according to others, by following the dogmas of that creed, with hypocrisy as an object, he wished to make a display to the world of piety and zeal. But this over sagacious policy produced results different from his intentions. By these methods he stirred up a countless number of enemies. Envy being aroused the complaints of the Court against the immoderate authority of the minister penetrated to the king's ears, and it was not difficult to arrange for his fall.
In political affairs also his open leaning towards France contributed to his fall, through his having facilitated the sale of Dunkirk to that crown, and his having persuaded the conclusion of the marriage with the Infanta of Portugal, to render difficult the reconquest of that country by Spain. Moreover his lack of good will towards the government of the United Provinces was believed to be an active cause of the Dutch war. If his favour had continued the Dutch would not have been supported or the guarantee of Flanders undertaken by the treaty of the triple alliance. His policy was to keep England neutral, as a spectator of the quarrels between the two crowns, and since it was now apparent that the country would have no reason to fear the greatness of the victor, he considered that it was the better course to amuse himself in watching the beginning and the issue of the war in the Low Countries, devoting himself in the mean time to restoring the finances of the country, in establishing trade, in conciliating the feuds and quarrels of the Court and in soothing the spirit of the people, ill pleased with the unseemly conclusion of the Dutch war. These principles of neutrality were interpreted as the result of his dependence on France, and accordingly, the Spanish ministers with those of Holland bringing fuel to the disposition of his enemies, he was seriously accused in parliament of treasonable offences.
The charges of the Lower House being accepted, as the friend of novelty and glorying in bringing down that colossus, and approved by the other House, in which were the members of the old nobility, his declared enemies, abandoned by the king, who was tired of favouring him, his fall was inevitable. Although it was easy to defend himself against the charges he thought it wise to take himself off, in order not to risk his head, knowing the difficulty of quieting the passion of an excited multitude. In his absence he was condemned to death by the authority of parliament and as his relief depends on that body it will always be difficult to obtain a pardon, which will be resisted by a most bitter opposition, not less of his enemies than of the present ministers, fearful lest, at his reappearance, they may be driven from the posts which they enjoy, as well as by those of the Spanish and Dutch parties. In the mean time he is living in retirement at Montpellier in Languedoc, with the tacit consent of the Most Christian.
With the fall of the chancellor the government changed its aspect. To follow a different course from that pursued by that minister other principles, objects and aims were adopted for the crown. Upon the ruins of this person the duke of Buchincan, his declared enemy, and Lord Arlinton, secretary of state, built the advantage of their own influence with the king, the first of a lofty spirit and the other endowed with a mature judgment. These two, meditating upon what might redound to the greatness of the country and the glory of their master, and considering the disadvantages of neutrality, took steps to adopt a policy which they believed to be the ancient principle of the crown. Their advice was to hold the balance level between the powerful monarchies of the two crowns, saying that this equilibrium had always been the fundamental rule of England. It was this policy which had rendered her the arbiter of the Christian world, for by supplying succour now to France and now to Spain, she had both kings at her disposal, always exacting from one crown and the other what she desired. By these means the English have laid down the law to their friends and enemies, more by treaties than by the violence of arms, glorying that the peace and war of Europe have on many occasions had to depend upon the British crown. Having proposed this policy to themselves to render the reign of their sovereign glorious, they adapted their advice to the king accordingly, thus causing a complete change from the policy adopted by the chancellor.
From this change of government the ability of the duke of Buckingham was made to shine forth and he had an opportunity to reestablish himself in his Majesty's favour. He is the son of the late duke of Buckingham, the king's favourite, and inherits the merits and the distinguished position of his father, while he enjoys the most conspicuous marks of the royal favour. He is a knight of the order of the Garter, high steward of the palace, a member of the council of state and a confidant of the privy cabinet. His eloquence has served not only to win him credit in the parliament, but to win respect for the Court. As he goes in search of popular applause, he appears independent of religion, for not having any, he tries, with the name, to render himself benevolent to all. He cultivates the leaders of the parties in parliament, who, united with his favourites, form a large party for him. To win universal popularity he is lavish in expenditure. He neglects the management of his private affairs and for the ruin of his fortune he has reports spread of his great generosity. Most attentive to all the internal affairs of the kingdom, he is anxious to make himself appear important to the people. For the rest he likes to please himself. He does not hold tight the reins of government which Fortune offers him, to direct all the affairs of the crown. He has no issue by his wife, daughter of Farfaix, whom he was compelled to marry in order to recover possession of his property, occupied by that person in the civil wars. This Farfaix still survives, living in retirement in the country, as a shining example of the king's clemency.
The power of Buckingham was displayed to the world in the fall of the chancellor, his manifest enemy. It has also beaten down the duke of Ormond, sometime Viceroy of Ireland, who was completely dependent upon the chancellor himself, (fn. 16) and was one of the most faithful ministers of the king, distinguished with the order of the Garter, with the office of High Steward and a member of the Council of State. He forms a large faction in the parliament to counterbalance that of Buckingham, though the latter enjoys the popularity with persons of every condition; yet the duke of Ormond enjoys the complete regard of all the nobility. In their differences the king will not appear as a partisan, but is equally gracious to both of them.
The late General Monch, called duke of Albemarle was not of such a nature (fn. 17) but being remote from all attachments, adopted no other party than that of satisfying the king, his master, who by all the most conspicuous marks possible displayed the royal gratitude, recognising his out standing merit so that he always blessed the heroic resolution he took, and considered himself most content with his lot, in which he enjoyed great tranquillity and reputation.
Arlinton, the secretary of state is the most polite and obliging minister that the English Court has. He does not need to call witnesses to prove his loyalty to the king as he carries on his own face the glorious and indelible mark of it, received in battle in the civil wars. (fn. 18) He followed the king constantly in his exile, employed his talent at the Court of Spain, where he resided a long time, to implore assistance for the unhappy state of his prince from the Catholic crown. At present he enjoys titles and fortune in reward for his services, recognised by the king's goodness. As a consequence of his office his attention to all the internal and external affairs of the realm has established him strongly and deservedly in the king's regard, so much so that after the chancellor's f all he had the satisfaction of seeing all the interests of the crown pass through his hands.
As he is a man who is circumspect in affairs, so, with his fine prudence knowing the inconstancy of the country, he proceeds very deliberately in dealing with serious matters and contingencies, and so while ripe in consultation he is correspondingly slow in execution, proceeding with hesitating steps in all matters of interest, which is the reason for the slowness of the negotiations at that Court. He has no enemies except those who are moved by envy and as he is the one with whom the foreign ministers deal, he gives them complete satisfaction in negotiating, fulfilling all his duties with courtesy, skill and candour. The Spaniards and the Dutch are pleased to see him in the confidence of the king and minister of England while the French neglect no opportunity to win him for their side.
The other secretary of state Sir Trevves (fn. 19) does not cut such a figure, having obtained the appointment from the king's kindness, out of consideration for Arlinton himself, making capital out of his experience in the affairs of the kingdom and because with the title of envoy at the Court of France he had taken care of the interests of Flanders while the peace treaty of Aix la Chapelle passed through his hands.
The archbishop of Canterbury also takes part in the council of state, the chief prelate in England and head of the Protestant religion, but as he enters it by special prerogative, so he does not interfere at all in political affairs.
Finally the lord keeper (fn. 20) has a seat in the Council. The duties of this minister are to see to the punctual execution of the laws of the realm. At the present moment he is supplying the place of the lord chancellor. He is a man whose goodness equals his ability.
I pass rapidly over the other ministers and those well deserving of the crown, such as the earl of Laderdel, who with the title of secretary of state for Scotland resides at London, a noble of no mediocre ability; and I say nothing of the earl of Bristol, most devoted to the king, who at present is honoured at Court for having declared himself a Catholic. In addition to his merits his position at Court is enhanced by the nobleness of his birth and because in parliament he displayed the power of his eloquence in the enmity he professed against the chancellor because he had prevented the marriage with the princess of Parma.
These are the most distinguished persons who at the present time form the Court of England. Such are the ministers whom the king at present employs in his prudence to direct the external and internal affairs of the crown, in conformity with their advice, to make capital of the friendship of Holland, to interest himself in the affairs of Flanders, and to conclude the peace of Aix la Chapelle, establishing the treaty of the triple alliance and arbitrate the differences between the crowns. As a consequence his Majesty is being raised to a position of the greatest estimation, feared by his subjects, venerated by foreigners, flattered by princes, desired by the crowns, coming prominently forward with the glorious title of chief of the alliance and arbiter of the forces of the north. (fn. 21)
To proceed towards the close of this account I think it apposite to consider the foreign relations of England, as a crown which takes in the whole circuit of the world, having interests of trade and commerce with every part of it.
Beginning with the emperor, I may say that Germany being entirely Continental, and the dominions of Caesar in particular away from the sea, England does not consider that it has any interests in those parts, and consequently their friendship is merely formal, such as princes have between themselves in common, but varied in accordance with the interests of the Courts. In the interest which both these potentates take in preserving the peace of Europe, there is reciprocal correspondence. Worthy of attention are the negotiations set on foot at present by the desire of the emperor to be (fn. 22) included in the triple alliance, since he can never hope for any succour from England in a rupture of the peace against the Turks, as fears of reprisal and the loss of the trade which the English nation has in the Levant are too powerful.
But France, on the other hand is a state in great part watered by the sea and in full view of England, so not only are there interests of every sort between the two realms, but a natural antipathy in their sentiments which arouses the emulation of the crowns. The disposition of the Most Christian to extend commerce, form companies and turn his attention to America increases the spleen of the nation. They watch with resentment the interest of the French in their naval forces, and their plans for progress and profit in every part of the world. With feelings of natural aversion added to all this jealousy there is never room for sincere confidence. Yet they exchange the signs of friendly relations, and ministers have recently been welcomed in both Courts. But whatever forwardness may appear in conceding trifling satisfactions is more than balanced by the resistance that will always be offered to any consent to matters of serious concern, and this is shown by the very slight progress with the commercial treaty proposed by the Ambassador Colbert, and little better success is to be expected in the future.
England has different feelings towards the crown of Spain, as the spirits of the two nations are not so opposite. Thus the people, forgetful of the designs of the Spaniards against the country and its government, and having no other object than self interest, changing their policy according to the exigencies of the times, considers the designs of Philip II as airy machinations of the Court of Rome. So with the past buried in oblivion, they have no suspicion of the Catholic, indeed, since the weakness of the monarchy rather excites compassion than jealousy, they cannot help supporting him, rather than leave him exposed to the evil influences of the present time. To this end, in considering the peace with Portugal, the king of England has claimed to be rendering a service to the Catholic crown no less than contributing to the quiet of his brother in law. The same object also led to the arrangement of the peace of Aix la Chapelle in which a barrier was set up for the losses in Flanders, the benefit being increased by the reunion of Franche Comté. In the matter of the navigation in America, the causes of dispute have now ceased by the treaty recently arranged at Madrid, the prejudices of which will always make its conclusion more deeply felt by Spain. The aim of England to cause the Court of Spain to put a special value on friendly relations will at all times be the needs of the Mediterranean trade, and therefore to encourage the Catholic to remain true, turning him away from treaties with the Most Christian, for the exchange of Flanders, which in matters of policy is the one and only sting for keeping the English within bounds (che e nelle materie politiche l'unico aculeo a tener gl'Inglesi in officio.)
With the crowns of Sweden and Denmark the king encourages cordial relations which are necessary for the trade of his subjects and for the interests of the princes of the North. With the kingdom of Poland the need for friendly relations is less than it is with the Muscovite, for reasons of trade, embassies having been sent by both parties since the king's restoration.
As the British queen is sister of the royal House of Portugal, and because of the convenience of the ports of that country for English navigation it might be expected that close correspondence would exist between those two crowns. Nevertheless as the king of England disapproves of the policy of Don Pietro, the ruler, friendly relations have cooled, as is shown by the disapproval of the peace renewed with the Catholic in the name of Don Pietro, which had already been made through his mediation in the name of Don Alfonso. The queen also refused to act as godmother at the christening of the prince's daughter (fn. 23) although she was invited and even begged. The omission to complete the queen's dowry is another reason which has cooled the friendship; but apart from these accidental considerations the correspondence between the two kingdoms, both from policy and for trade will always be corelative.
Another kind of correspondence exists between England and the States General of the United Provinces. Holland is more respected than loved and it may be said that the friendship with that government is due to interest and not to affection. The loss inflicted on English trade through the power acquired by those States at sea, the affairs of the East Indies, the fishing carried on in English waters without recognising the crown and the interests of the prince of Orange, are all causes for disagreement. Nevertheless, in consideration of the aggrandisement of the crown of France, which they view with feelings intensified by natural antipathy, these injuries are suffered, and their attention is directed to the prudence of good relations. They consider that their forces united are sufficient to more than counterbalance any opposing force whatsoever, and are well aware that quarrels and wars between the two nations are only playing the game of the third, as by destroying each other they are losing the trade and leaving others to reap the profit. Upon such considerations England is obliged to have good relations with the government of the States General, which are cultivated by Dutch ministers in London with close attention.
The crown also has good relations with the Ottoman Porte because of the great trade carried on by the nation at all the marts of the Turkish dominion. The king is careful to avoid causes of quarrel, so as to give no occasion for the barbarous practice of that people to make reprisals which would be most disturbing to the people and to trade.
With Tafilet the new king of Morocco and Fez they have begun to open up relations with the object of securing the fortress of Tanger by a treaty and to open the mart there to the trade of Africa; but the dubious nature of negotiations with that barbarian makes the opening of pourparlers difficult, and there is also the doubt whether he will keep his word after he has given it. Thus the mission of the earl of Arundel thither has proved useless, indeed he did not venture to go outside Tanger.
England also has treaties of peace with the corsairs of Barbary; but those pirates glory in breaking their word, especially to princes, and it is useless to attach any importance to their promises.
To conclude I may say that the English have no relations in Italy except with those princes who have a seaboard, using their ports for the convenience of navigation. Towards the duke of Savoy, who is a blood relation, the friendly disposition of the king is shown, his Majesty having learned with pleasure of the opening of the mart at the port of Villa franca free to the ships of his nation, although it was done for the duke's own advantage, to introduce the trade of his own dominions. Similarly the Grand Duke of Tuscany is esteemed in England, the port of Leghorn, which is so suitable for navigation and the Mediterranean trade, having become famous. They also avail themselves of the ports of the riviera of Genoa.
The sincere and cordial friendship with your Serenity is well known to all, cultivated in time passed on both sides, with equal satisfaction in matters of trade, those of the navigation of the Mediterranean and the interests of the state. These were strong motives to induce England to cultivate perfect relations with the republic. It was disturbed later by the accidents of the civil wars followed by that of your Excellencies with the Turk, through which English trade flourished exceedingly in the Levant marts upon the ruins of our own, and this caused the crown to become very circumspect. When I had the honour to be the first ordinary ambassador after the restoration I did my utmost to stimulate the friendship of the nation, although the king's is the same as he has inherited from his ancestors towards the most serene republic. His generous spirit felt remorseful at being unable to join with the other princes of Christendom for the relief of Candia, being alarmed by the peril of imminent loss to his subjects, and suspicious of the irresolution of the Dutch, who, nevertheless, were ready to declare their willingness to work in unison for the good of the common cause. In the absence of succour the king showed his friendly disposition by his orders to his ambassador at Constantinople, not only to forbid English ships to serve the Turks, but that he should give his voice to further the interests of your Excellencies at the Porte. He also offered his mediation, being anxious to see the relief of a prince who was so old and sincere a friend.
The importance of the trade with the states of your Excellencies consists in the transport of salt fish from England and in the purchase of currants at the islands of Zante and Cephalonia. The trade in salt fish is reduced to little more than the necessary provision of our city, since Lombardy and practically the whole of the main land is supplied from Leghorn, where the charges are lower, as I have reported to the Senate in my despatches. I may venture to add that the decrees made on this subject in view of the Ambassador extraordinary Falcombridge are not an adequate remedy, as it is easy to calculate the difference in cost from Leghorn to Lombardy, as compared with what the merchants have to pay on every barrel of herrings brought to or taken from this city.
The other matter of the currants is of great importance to the public interests. Since that trade is conducted with ready money it is for the wisdom of the Senate to encourage a nation, which is fond of that fruit, by issuing orders for the better treatment of English ships, which, it may be hoped will be punctually carried out by the state's representatives. In this matter the merits of the actual Proveditori, Vendramino and Pisani shine forth, through their vigilance in the state's service, which has caused a concourse of ships to obtain great cargoes.
In that Court as the representative of your Excellencies I enjoyed the greatest marks of esteem. They agreed that the briefs of the pope to be presented to the queen should pass through my hands. I was always received most kindly by all of the royal house, by ministers and by persons of every sort. But the kindness shown by the earl of Arundel goes far beyond what is ordinary. He is now duke of Norfolk, a title newly obtained or restored by the king's munificence. (fn. 24) He shows the utmost devotion to the interests of your Serenity, admitting that he owes the survival of his house to the piety of the Senate, which refused to hand over his elder brother, who is sick at Padua, to the hands of Cromwell, who repeatedly asked for him. This motive combined with the hereditary disposition of his ancestors to favour the Venetian nation, has inspired him with the ambition to appear a Venetian among the English, as among Venetians he makes himself known as English, desirous of serving your Excellencies. His brothers entertain the same sentiments, notably Lord Philip, the queen's grand almoner, who from his exemplary life and the distinction of his birth is the ornament of the Catholic religion in that country.
I end by referring to the kind consideration of your Excellencies, rejoicing that I have served without sparing so that the inconveniences suffered for my adored country are a source of honour and gratification, the more so as my services have not been entirely disapproved by the Senate. Various distinguished persons from Italy favoured the mission and embassy and five illustrious sons of this city added lustre to it namely Andrea Tron, son of Nicolo; Ascanio Giustinian, son of Cavalier Zuanne; Agostino Morosini, son of the late Procurator Alvise; Alvise Mocenigo son of the Procuratore Piero and Verita Zenobio. The first two reached England with me and added splendour to the first functions; the others arrived later and appeared with suitable bravery.
The Secretary Alberti carried out all his duties with diligence and loyalty, and he also, by the rule of the state service, had to draw on his private resources to meet the very heavy expenses of that Court. With ready submission he accepted the commands of your Excellencies, and without regarding the excessive obligations of Spain, he abandoned the career as a testimony of his devotion. But as his talents are equal to his condition I should be very remiss if I did not bear the fullest witness how richly he deserves the favour and recognition of the state.
At my departure the king manifested his generosity by presenting me with his portrait framed in diamonds. I lay this at your Serenity's feet and if the Senate judges me worthy and allows me to keep it, the favour will be appreciated by me as a reward for my labours and as some help to make good the serious losses which I have suffered.
1671. Read in Senate on 9th June.