Venice
February 1674, 1-15

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1947

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204-213

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'Venice: February 1674, 1-15', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 204-213. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90369 Date accessed: 20 October 2014.


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February 1674, 1–15

Feb. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
275. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Supported by the justice of his cause and by a great number of friends Lord Arlington succeeded in suspending the motion of the Commons who seemed at first inclined to petition the king to remove him from the royal presence and from his employments, like Buckingham and Lauderdale. He was accused of having corresponded with the Dutch during the last war and of too great leanings towards France in the present one. Cases were quoted and evidence offered of his partiality towards the Catholics of England and Ireland. Modiford, late governor of Jamaica, who was imprisoned here for the satisfaction of the Spaniards, complained of Arlington as if he had kept him all this time in the Tower without cause or proper formalities, of his own authority. (fn. 1) Arlington's rivals were unable sufficiently to prove any of the charges and his friends moved for a committee to examine whether he were guilty of treason and to accuse him to the Upper House, the competent tribunal, that sentence may be passed according to law. Arlington obtained this concession and having thus freed himself from the judicature of the Commons, he no longer dreads the articles which they may send up to the Lords, being sure of establishing his innocence.
With this example the duke of Buckingham proposes to appeal to the Commons for the revision of his crimes and that they may accuse him to the Upper House and leave him to be judged by his peers according to law. Should he succeed, the same course will be attempted by Lauderdale, now on his way from Scotland, and all the ministers might re-establish themselves, unless the Lower House obstinately refuses to grant the king money so long as he retains them. This is a new fashion, adopted by the Commons for the purpose of intruding on the judicature of the peers.
Reports having circulated that the Catholics intended to arm to free themselves by force from the penal statutes, the Lower House began to discuss the matter two days ago. They proposed a new oath, a new method of accusing, convicting and passing sentence on the Catholics in a few days, whereas at present by favour of the law and of the time they remain unconvicted for at least a year, and consequently at liberty, their property untouched. The Commons did not proceed further; but to-morrow the House is called to sit in committee. This is when all the members or a certain number meet for some great matter to discuss it in detail and report afterwards to the Chamber. To-morrow also they will investigate the causes of the war and the motives and conditions for peace, to lay the result before his Majesty together with such offers of money as they may think fit.
In the mean time they know that two couriers, the one from Cologne to the king, the other from the Hague to the Spanish ambassador, bring the offers from the Dutch to strike to the king's flag with such declarations as his Majesty may please; to release the English subjects at Surinam, to surrender the fortresses taken in the Indies; to send ambassadors to London to arrange a commercial treaty for the India trade and to give 200,000l. for the expenses of the war. In the matter of the fisheries the Dutch concede nothing and everyone is waiting to see what decision his Majesty may take about breaking his word and the alliance with France, while making for himself alone an advantageous peace with Holland, to please his subjects.
London, the 2nd February, 1673. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
276. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Their worships here have petitioned the king to issue a proclamation for fasts and prayers thoughout the kingdom, while they are merely seeking to betray each other and do their utmost to destroy the public tranquillity. The duke of York and the treasurer have been for three hours in the king's closet where it was said that the members of parliament were seeking to remove his Majesty's ministers and then take the liberty of giving him others to their own taste who, by gradually assuming supreme authority, would make themselves the regents of the crown, owning more dependence on parliament than affection for the king to the ruin of the monarchy. Considering the original constitution of the Lower House there were laws to keep it within the bounds of moderation. The majority of the members were a mob of folk of little consequence who trade upon the king's good nature. Once they were shorn of their privileges through the dissolution of parliament they would die naked in the debtors' prisons. There would be no fear of their having the inclination or the means to avail themselves of the present crisis for plotting against the crown. It was true that the prestige of the members had increased of late, many noblemen and persons of the wealthiest families being among them. The House was not satisfied as of yore with being merely consulted about supply, as persons skilled in economics and acquainted with the readiest ways of obtaining ready money from the public; they now claimed to go further and examine the reasons for taxation. But they had not sufficient support to maintain the claim that the Lower House had lawful authority to investigate the motive, as every one knows that they only have the right to discuss the manner of taxation. Much ill humour had been aroused, but a fire of straw was less dangerous than one of wood, although it made more smoke and if the king had boldly shown his face and authority the factions would have all disbanded.
I am assured that his Majesty replied as follows: from long observation he is aware that the English by nature rush violently against any barrier that opposes them. Mistaking expedients for retreats they are to be tamed by having their vanity fed with the vain glory of popular power. It has always been dangerous to draw the sword on the multitude and it would be fatal for the kings of England, whom all parties would abandon when it becomes a question of the liberty of the country, their most confidential servants betraying them. So he had determined to give the people an open field in order to curb them the better when they were tired with their gallop, and they had not yet meddled with any of the royal prerogatives.
The duke of York has been deeply hurt by the declaration of the peers that as heir presumptive he must take the oath of allegiance like the rest. The ex-lord chancellor added to this that he must sit on the dukes' bench and not in the chair on the king's left hand, the place destined for the prince of Wales, the chair on the right being reserved for the king of Scotland. The duke can offer no resistance and anticipated even worse treatment. Knowing that he represents the cause of the crown and religion the Commons feel even more rancour against him than they have shown against the impeached ministers. A pamphlet has appeared accusing him of being a Catholic and holding him responsible for such disastrous consequences as may thus affect the quiet of the realm.
His Royal Highness has no hope in any other remedy than peace and yet he knows that the king does not hasten it for the sake of giving France time to become a party to the treaties. To this effect the English plenipotentiaries at Cologne have requested that before the treaty is signed certain points respecting the India trade may be settled. All this will cause delay and in the mean time as an alliance may be concluded between Sweden, Bavaria, Hanonia and Neuburg, the Most Christian may allow himself to be induced to make peace as he did in 1667 when compelled by the triple alliance.
The Swedish mediator, baron de Spaar, is coming to London, and Tott goes to France. This may possibly favour a general peace. But the Dutch are purchasing peace from England solely out of regard for Spain, after scornfully rejecting it in January, owing to disputes among themselves, while the king here hesitates to accept it only from shame at breaking his word to France before the whole world. So it only remains for the Most Christian to find time and place for taking part in the treaties which in the end will benefit Spain, despite the Dutch, to the disgust of Monterey and to the mortification of Lisola, who controls the machine and expects to confound France.
London, the 2nd February, 1673. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 2.
Collegio
Secreta.
Esposizioni
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
277. Memorial presented by the Consul of England.
Your Serenity will know what happened last year in the port of Genoa. That republic permitted the arming of a Dutch ship by subjects of their territory to go privateering against the merchant ships of the two crowns of England and France. This was deeply resented by those powers although that corsair gave pledges not to attack any ship of any nation whatsoever in the waters of that jurisdiction. This notwithstanding, that offence has caused great mischief the more so as those generals had been previously warned by the ministers of the crowns aforesaid.
To avoid similar disorders it is my duty to give notice to your Serenity that these same Hollanders or others under that flag have these last days armed in this port the ship San Nicolo Grande. This ship encountering the English ship Concordia in the Gulf fired some shots against it. But the latter being a quick sailer, although laden with some 600 cases of sugar, succeeded in arriving in safety and the others could not do what they intended. But besides this, from what is being said, other Dutch ships are arming here similarly, since they are expecting the arrival of 12 English ships with divers merchandise, under convoy as far as the Gulf. If they proceed without arms and assistance they cannot fail to encounter these armed ships and will become their prey in some place or other, which will certainly be taken ill by the king, my master
[Italian.]
Feb. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
278. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Yesterday evening at a late hour the Consul Hayles here came to the doors of the Collegio and caused the enclosed paper to be transmitted to us. As the first step of an inquiry we at once got hold of the bill of lading of the ship Concordia, which arrived on the 30th ult. and we find that the statement of the captain does not correspond with what the consul represents. Thus you will see from the copy that he clearly states that he has not seen ships. We also note with some astonishment the representation itself made in England. At the same time we are not neglecting to collect evidence in order to discover the truth, not only with what concerns the ship San Niccolo Grande but the others, which he says came armed. The notices which we are forwarding to you will serve to keep you on the alert to find out what the consul has written home. We were unable to have the information demanded yesterday evening because the Senate was not in session. Whenever it may be necessary you will bear witness to the firm determination of the Senate itself not to allow anything that may be of prejudice to the nation and the particular consideration which is given to the safe navigation of the Gulf. When the information which we have ordered reaches us we will forward to you such further instructions on the subject as may appear necessary.
That there be forwarded to the magistracy all'Armar a copy of the paper presented by the consul Hayles and of the statement of the captain of the ship Concordia and that they be charged to use all diligence to discover the truth about what the consul represents, both with respect to the ship San Niccolo Grande and the others which he says were armed by the Dutch, and to make a report thereupon a soon as possible in our Collegio for illumination and to enable suitable steps to be taken.
Ayes, 108. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
Feb. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
279. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The close negotiations which it has come out are being held by the mediators at Cologne with the plenipotentiaries of England and the pressure used by the latter to induce those of the Most Christian to relax their pretensions to facilitate the peace, flatter the hopes of those who are anxious to believe it near at hand and make them imagine that although there are separate negotiations of France with Holland, the decisions of the one will not be too greatly disconnected with those of the other. Such opinions are proclaimed everywhere and every one knows that the Most Christian, detached from his Britannic Majesty, will not have sufficiently powerful forces at sea to balance those of the States. This only goes to confirm the more that peace must be the necessary expedient if they cannot continue the war in unison.
Nevertheless from the preparations which are being made and which seem to be practically completed for the coming campaign, from the rich treasure in cash which has been sent over to London and from all the industry shown here to keep that king constant to his promised resolution not to consent to peace unless compelled, they conclude that these transactions which are going forward, are conducted in concert to make it appear to those Chambers that it is not the aim of sticking to the good pleasure of the Most Christian which is delaying the realisation of the boon, but the meagre and indecorous proposals of the Dutch are what have impeded it. They wish to see by such means whether the Dutch are really resolved to agree to all the pretensions of England, because in that case, gaining time over the negotiations, they will afford an opportunity to France to be able to procure it for herself also, so as not to be subject to more difficult straits through such a separation. But if afterwards the Dutch will not agree to the conditions proposed, the British king will make use of this means to make it appear to the Chambers that no other motives force him to continue the war than the obstinacy of the States who refuse conditions adjusted to the decorum of that crown. In this manner he will facilitate the granting of the subventions for which he sighs and can reserve those which he has obtained from this side for a better occasion. They say also that if he is able, without noise, to postpone parliament to another time, he will attempt it, although, from what one sees, it will not prove easy since those Chambers are resolved that they will decide something.
Here they are in possession of the most perfect intentions of his Majesty towards the interests of this crown and he gives assurances that notwithstanding all the confusion that has boiled up in that kingdom by reason of this alliance, he will not bring himself to take any prejudicial steps unless forced to do so by necessity.
Paris, the 7th February.
[Italian.]
Feb. 7.
Senate
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
280. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The government here has consumed several days in long consultations upon the replies sent by the Ambassador Fresno of the declarations of his Britannic Majesty as to whether they should decide to declare war or merely prohibit trade with England. Up to the present moment they have not decided to take any step and I am inclined to believe that the letters from Flanders, which are none too satisfactory and the steadfast leaning of Caesar to a good peace will cause the Spaniards to avoid fresh commitments.
Madrid, the 7th February, 1673. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
281. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Last Saturday morning the Commons began to examine the causes of the war and the arguments in favour of peace when, unexpectedly, the king sent for them to the House of Lords where they found his Majesty in his robes. Most of the members suspected a prorogation, but his Majesty proceeded to inform them that he had received an offer of peace from the Dutch ambassador. He asked for their advice, having no doubt that they would have especial care for his honour and the safety of the nation. I also enclose a translation of the letter from the Dutch and another of the articles for the peace, all of which parliament examined for two days. The replies of the two Houses, practically in the same terms signified that having considered his Majesty's gracious communication their opinion was that he might open negotiations with a view to peace.
So far as parliament is concerned the negotiation for peace is confined to this and nothing was said subsequently about providing the king with money as he has not announced his intention. The general opinion is that the articles offered by the Dutch are more suitable than civil. Thus, as regards the flag, they represent it as a matter of ceremony, implying clearly that out of regard to the king personally they consign to silence all such distinctions as had been sifted in disproof of the crown's right to the salute. The Provinces will not bind themselves to anything touching the India trade so that they may be able, after the peace is signed, not to settle anything, as was the case after the peace of Breda. It is said that they have spoken scurrilously about the English at Surinam, as if the king had not remonstrated upon facts and had invented complaints. In conclusion the refusal to give satisfaction about the fisheries is considered the more vexatious because the Dutch insinuate that this is because of the alliance with France. After all, although the king has not yet openly pleaded it, every moderate person considers it a sufficient reason for his Majesty to refuse to treat with the Dutch independently of France; yet in spite of this the States take the liberty to slander the alliance grossly, knowing how odious it is to the English nation.
The commissioners appointed by the Lower House to investigate the charges against Lord Arlington find nothing on which to convict him. It seems that the Commons no longer incline to these impeachments, for the day before yesterday they merely spoke against Arlington's brother in respect of private matters. (fn. 2)
A petition was also presented by Mr. Bernard Howard, a cadet of that family, asking exemption from the laws against the Catholic. (fn. 3) He was favoured with some very handsome personal compliments, but did not obtain his request. Tacked on to the reply were many reflections against the Catholics showing how much matter the House has ready, with the intention of discussing it, when the subject comes to be treated expressly.
To-day, the 30th January, old style, parliament does not sit, a fast being celebrated in memory of the death of Charles I, whom they revere here as a martyr.
London, the 9th February, 1673. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
282. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The bait thrown out by the two Houses concerning the peace was taken by the king at the suggestion of the duke of Ormonde and Lord Arlington whose object was to settle it speedily and then to hasten the prorogation of their enemy the parliament. The king assented, not from any hope that parliament, irritated by the proceedings of the Dutch, would give him money for the war; but to get approval of the articles of peace whereby to justify himself to the world for breaking faith with France, on the plea of popular clamour, and reconcile the nation to the terms, whether good or bad, when they had the approval of parliament. Every one was surprised at the reply of the two Houses, whose tone of indifference gave it sufficiently to be understood that they were inclined towards peace, thus gratifying the people, who desire it, but without committing themselves to examine or approve the terms. This follows the maxim of those who say that as the king alone began the war, he alone must end it and give an account of it to the country and the world. In short, not having taken notice of the proceedings of the Dutch they would not burden themselves with the obligation to give his Majesty money for such unpopular hostilities. In the mean time they are well pleased that he should continue to have need of them, which is the fundamental cause of their being assembled.
The king has not taken any steps since, but I am told that he will refer the treaty to Cologne, so as to profit by time and perhaps in the mean time there may be an opening for France to become a party to the treaties, in spite of the difficulties which are constantly being raised by the Dutch and their allies.
Rovigni fancied that he could give a display of his skill by a most important negotiation with this Court. He told the king that his affairs had not yet gone so far as to be irremediable. His subjects had the bit in their mouths and their leaders were good for nothing but to show vain dissensions. His Majesty could only justify his desertion of the Most Christian by obvious necessity, and he would suggest a remedy to turn the tide. He then produced a memorial for presentation to parliament showing that England ought not to break faith with her ally, nor could she do so in her own interests. At the moment the king was induced to allow this memorial to circulate in the two Houses, but on perceiving the failure of his attempt, he retracted, saying that the nation was inflexible and it would only make things worse.
Rovigni seems rather disgusted by his disappointment, though he does not yet talk of withdrawing. If he has not entirely suppressed the memorial I hope to send it to your Serenity.
The Spanish ambassador knew nothing about this and is similarly misinformed about many other matters, having neither reporters nor friends; but while he sleeps the English nation, from its own sympathies, watches over his business.
The hurricane is about to burst over the Catholics and the duke of York, the most exalted among them, is the most exposed to the danger. It is whispered that parliament will deprive him of the wardship of his two daughters by the late duchess; but it is impossible to foresee to-day what will happen to-morrow, they are so thoroughly ephemeral here.
London, the 9th February, 1673. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
283. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Here they do not build upon those negotiations and apparently they do not wish to detach themselves from the transactions at Cologne. It would be an easy thing if England were compelled to establish the peace with Holland upon terms satisfactory to the Chambers there, that the king there should take action, as mediator, to procure it for this crown also, endeavouring by his means to induce the Most Christian to recognise the passports for the deputies of Lorraine and under that form, before publishing the peace arranged separately from France, to try all means to get it to turn out general among all the princes.
Some conversation that I had on Saturday at Versailles with the Sig. di Locar, the British ambassador, who had come to have an audience of his Majesty, and the numerous conferences held by his Excellency these last days with the Secretary Pompona as well as secret audiences with the king give one the impression that his negotiations are concerned with representing the necessity for his king to adhere to the peace, being forced to this from seeing that their Chambers consider the terms honourable without that of an acceptance on the part of the Dutch about the contributions for the fishery which it was thought might stay those negotiations and cause the alliance to continue. But in this state of affairs they say that he justifies the decision of the British king that he must entertain the peace in order not to throw the affairs of his country into greater confusion. Some contend that it is already established and they only delay publication to see if by means of the manoeuvres of the British king it can be made general for all. Locar told me that the chief difficulty at Cologne was that of passports. Then when an opening was found for granting them, the negotiations would go forward and he gave me to understand that he might have orders to procure them. This is certain, that the business which has obliged him to present himself at the Court on a snowy day when suffering from a fever, makes it known to be of great consequence and that matters are at close grips so that there will come to light very speedily either a separate peace between England and Holland or a general one for all. It is said that for this Baron Spaar, one of the Swedish mediators, has proceeded to London with instructions of a kind to secure this result.
Paris, the 14th February, 1674.
[Italian.]
Feb. 15.
Collegio
Secreta.
Esposizioni
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
284. Memorial sent to the Savii by the Most Christian Ambassador (fn. 4) through the consul of the nation.
A Dutchman named Morens, who has lived for some years at Venice, sent into the Gulf a very few days ago a ship which he has caused to be armed, to go against the subjects of the king, my master and those of the king of Great Britain, and he actually attacked an English ship in the Gulf. Your Serenity sees the harm that may be done to the service of his Majesty and the affront committed by this person against your authority, which is the more worthy of punishment because I understand that this Dutchman is a naturalised Venetian and consequently cannot claim that this is permitted to subjects of your Serenity. I therefore beg humbly that you will take action in accordance with your customary prudence and justice and direct that such improprieties shall not occur in the future.
Similarly I have learned that this Morens with other Flemish merchants is causing a number of ships to be laded with saltpetre and match ostensibly for Hamburg but actually to be distributed at Amsterdam. These are commodities that cannot be exported from here without the permission of your Serenity and I have thought it right to give the information in the confidence of receiving in this particular the proof of your continued zeal for the service of my king who, for his part will always embrace gladly opportunities of showing his regard for your Serenity.
[Italian, from the French.]

Footnotes

1 The charge was of illegal commitment to the Tower of Sir Thomas and his son Charles.—Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IX, page 295. See also Cal. S.P Dom., 1673–5, page 154.
2 The only reference in the Journals is under date 28 Jan.: “that Mr. Barty and Mr. How do desire the lord chief baron to give order for speeding up the matter of Sir John Bennet's account pending in the exchequer.”—Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IX, page 296.
3 The eighth son of Henry Frederick, earl of Arundel, Surrey and Norfolk, and brother of Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk and of Henry Howard earl of Norwich.
4 Jean Antoine de Mesmes, comte d'Avaux.