Venice
September 1674

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1947

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287-296

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'Venice: September 1674', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 38: 1673-1675 (1947), pp. 287-296. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90377 Date accessed: 01 August 2014.


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September 1674

Sept. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
377. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, Senato, to the Doge and Senate.
Before proceeding to Paris, where he is now accredited, Spaar has again conferred with the ministers here and they have agreed to urge the emperor to release Furstemberg and the money seized at Cologne while Spaar urges the Most Christian to grant passports to the envoy from Lorraine; Lockhart, who will soon return to Paris, backing him.
Despite these efforts they do not expect to advance the treaties in the least until the campaign is over and they still suspect Spain of preferring the mediation of Rome and Venice. Spaar asked me openly in the king's presence what the republic thought of the mediation. I said the Senate was impartial but was always desirous of the blessings of peace and quiet, in accordance with its ancient policy.
They are convinced here that the allies will only accept the mediation of England and Sweden from necessity alone, on account of their partiality for France. This king is about to declare for the Most Christian, whose pension, with the recent addition of 400,000 crowns, makes a yearly total of a million. But the Swedes pretend that the troops raised by them and landed in Pomerania will benefit both French and Spaniards and merely serve to facilitate peace. England also is distrusted by the allies, especially by the Spaniards, who call themselves the bulwark of England and claim her partiality; indeed it is said that they count on parliament compelling the king to declare himself for them. This project does not seem practicable as there is a difference between persuading the king to make peace by depriving him of the sinews of war, and rendering him inclined to it by the offer of money for hostilities. Besides this the nation is aware of its mistake in ending the war with Holland, when by a little patience they might have gained the disputed points. The English now begin to wish for a fresh rupture, which they deem necessary to remedy the affronts and injuries received by them from the Dutch.
The Court rejoices at the embarrassments of Monterey who, they say, got together 70,000 men with more haste than judgment and led them to battle with more phlegm than courage. He has now retired to Brussels so that the generals may act according to their own interests, live upon the Spanish supplies and consume the produce of the territory unprofitably.
The lord keeper has not chosen to interfere for the release of my chaplain and none of the secretaries of state will sign the order for his transportation, in accordance with the last proclamation, which parliament contests, denying the king's right to suspend acts. I spoke again to the king about it, who said he was anxious to maintain the privileges of the foreign ministers. He expressed his satisfaction with my conduct throughout my mission and promised the release of the chaplain. I am sure he means to keep the promise, but he will meet with great difficulties and I therefore await his return to London where he may be able to enforce obedience. It is no longer a question of privileges, the case having become one of national interest in which the whole country is passionately concerned; so I act with moderation to avoid committing your Serenity. I still hope that some compromise may be devised to save the chaplain's life and give him his liberty and that I shall obtain some special mark of the king's care to preserve diplomatic privileges so far as he is allowed under existing circumstances. This is as much as can be expected.
Windsor, the 7th September, 1674.
[Italian.]
Sept. 11.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Esposizioni
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
378. The envoy extraordinary of England came into the Collegio and was made to sit above the Savii of Terra Ferma. Being covered he handed his credentials to me, the secretary. This was read at once and he spoke afterwards in Latin in conformity with the written memorial, which he left. In the absence of the Doge the senior councillor, Francesco Bernardo said that they rejoiced to see him after the discomforts of so long a journey. They reciprocated the cordial sentiments of his Majesty and they would always be glad to see the envoy and render him every satisfaction and every wish of his king. After this the envoy rose, without saying any more and went out, after making the usual reverences.
[Italian.]
The Memorial.
379. Dominus meus invictissimus Mag. Brit. Rex augustissimae reipub. Venet. Salutem, diuturnum imperium et omnia prospera precatur.
Non vos latere potest, ser. princeps et excelsi patres, quo studio, quantaque benevolentia potentissimi Angliae Reges hanc inclytam rempub. per tot jam secula complexi sunt, nec ullo tempore tam amicis regibus defuere offitia vestra. Hoc certe notatu non indignum est, et Anglos et Venetos pro rerum vicissitudine cum summis terrarum orbis potestatibus et bella et pacem habuisse; inter Anglos autem et Venetos ab utriusque gentis incunabulis intemerata pax fuit.
Ad hujus veritatis elucidationem non longius progrediar quam ad vestri Senatus ostium, ubi taurum leonem aggredientem depictum vidi, symbolum sine dubio foederis Cameracensis quum Potentiae Vestrae infensi Europae Principes de delendo nomine Veneto cogitarunt. Ibi in scuto supra tauri caput vidi aquilam Lilia vidi et divi Petri claves cum omnium fere Europae Principum insignibus. Sed inter tot infesta signa leones Anglicos videre non potui, immo illic non videndi sunt. Absit, ut divi Georgii leones leoni divi Marci infesti sint, cum tota pene Europa ad Venetiarum excidium properaret, Anglus solus amicus aut certe non hostis fuit.
Ad colendam hanc priscam inter nobiles gentes amicitiam ser. Rex, dom. meus me hac terrarum misit mihique in mandatis dedit ut ser. vestram certiorem facerem se caritate in rempub. Venetam a nemine majorum vinci posse sed in omni re vobis ad futurum quae vel ad commoda vestra augenda, vel ad dignitatem vestram tuendam pertinet.
Quod ad me attinet, ubi primum, mihi innotuit ser. Regem negotiorum suorum causa me peragre mittendum decrevisse Legatus sum vos mihi potissimum datos, ad quos venirem; quum enim lego res vestras et mecum reputo quam diu stetis hoc florentissimum imperium quod neque conjurati Christiani orbis Principes, nec horrenda Ottomanorum arma evertere potuerunt quum compertum habeo vestram in rebus secundis bonam mentem in adversis constantiam et quo caeteros mortales superare videmini inviolabilem patriae amorem, fateor equidem in incerto esse verum magis virtutem vestram an propitios huic reipub. Deus admirari debeam.
379A. The credentials. (fn. 1)
Sept. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
380. To the King of Great Britain.
Sir Thomas Higons, your Majesty's envoy extraordinary to our republic, has handed in his royal letters. The sentiments which we observe in these confirm the ancient and sincere affection which has always been courteously demonstrated to us by your Majesty and your glorious predecessors to which we respond on our side with true, constant and cordial observance. Sir Thomas Higons, in his capacity of minister of your crown and as one worthy to sustain that honour, will always find free access to us at every request that he makes and he will always receive every possible satisfaction. He himself will be able to inform your Majesty more diffusely of our affectionate expressions and we are similarly directing our Secretary Alberti to repeat the same in delivering these present letters into your royal hands, with which we wish you long years and continual prosperity.
Ayes, 146. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Sept. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
381. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
Cavalier Higons, the envoy extraordinary, had his first audience yesterday and presented his credentials with an appropriate office. His Majesty's letter was received with due esteem. We enclose a copy of the reply given to the envoy together with a letter for the king which you will present with suitable representations of the content of the republic at having a British minister in residence.
Ayes, 146. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Sept. 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
382. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Court returned to London at the beginning of the week, as arranged. The duchess of York came down from Windsor by the river because of her pregnancy, now in the fifth month, and the whole kingdom is looking for a male heir to the crown. On this account the duchess will not go to Newmarket. The queen also remains in London where the princes now are, in idleness, and they will go to their field sports by themselves.
Temple writes from Holland that he has made his public entry but for negotiation he says the constant reply of the States is that they will deliberate about mediation but can come to no decision without the allies. The Swedish ambassador at the Hague finds himself in the same position, but here some are beginning to suspect that the States are thinking of a reconciliation with France, although Ruvigni declares that the Most Christian has no fancy for separate treaties.
It seems that the entire English nation is beginning to resent the proceedings of Holland. They see how slowly her deputies advance the settlement of the trade disputes. But the Court does not yet rely upon this concurrence of popular opinion. On the contrary they are preparing to resist such exertions as may be made in parliament by the remains of the Spanish faction for the purpose of pledging the king to the allies, his Majesty's chief object being to extricate himself from the embarrassments of the war, pay his debts, restore the credit of the treasury and replenish it. The present lord treasurer succeeds marvellously in this, having paid both the fleet and the army already, whereas his predecessors with the same revenue, could scarcely make it suffice for the ordinary expenditure. This comforting fact will procure great respect for the king when he enters parliament, as is usual when his subjects think he has no need of them. Many persons flatter themselves that he may hope for a prompt and generous subsidy.
The question of the succession seems already quite buried and that of religion will be the most debated as the whole nation is deeply interested in the matter. It is incredible how strongly parents become exasperated against their children and what differences of opinion prevail in families.
Large numbers of Catholics have been brought before the justices in all the counties and above all in London. They are unable to devise means for saving their property, while the priests are in hiding everywhere from fear of persecution.
Since the king's return to London nothing has been done for my chaplain, no cabinet council having been held. At the first meeting they will discuss ways for avoiding trouble, of which there must be a great deal. I shall take care not to commit your Serenity in a matter embittered by persistence and obstinacy, as it is a question about right or propriety with an entire population which has no self restraint and no bridle strong enough for its guidance.
London, the 14th September, 1674.
[Italian.]
Sept. 15.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Esposizioni
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
383. The English envoy extraordinary being summoned to the Collegio, he spoke as follows in the Latin tongue before the Senate's decision was read to him:
In my audience last Tuesday I expressed very fully his Majesty's affection and goodwill for your Excellencies and my own devotion to the republic. I think it superfluous to repeat the same and I have no doubt that the reply I am summoned to hear will correspond.
After the Senate's deliberation had been read he rose without adding anything more and passed into the other room where he had a copy of it taken by his secretary, and then he left.
[Italian.]
Sept. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
384. Ascanio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I was with the Sig. di Gremonville the day before yesterday. In talking about current affairs he told me it was necessary the mediation should fall into the hands of the pope and of the most serene republic, since it was clear that England very soon would be forced to take some step contrary to the interest of this side while Sweden also was under the necessity of taking sides. This would certainly have caused the mediation to fall, but here they considered your Serenity as a prince who did not greatly desire the greatness of France.
Paris, the 19th September, 1674.
[Italian: deciphered.]
Sept. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
385. Girolamo Zeno, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The British and Swedish ministers are employing all their arts to secure the composition of existing differences entrusted to the arbitrament of their sovereigns. But the inclinations of the Court are averse from this and they make known their intention to let the war go on during the appropriate season and to obtain advantages in order subsequently to reduce France to admissible negotiations for peace.
The English take it ill that the forces of Holland hold all the authority and reputation at sea and at the approaching meeting of the Chambers there will be a clamorous agitation for England to arm vigorously in the coming year, or to come to an agreement for the reduction of the naval forces of the States, or to make an effort to bring about peace between the hostile powers by main force.
The Ambassador Fresno has written to the marchesa, his wife to set out for Spain, and they are in expectation of his arrival in these realms.
Madrid, the 19th September, 1674.
[Italian.]
Sept. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
386. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The last letters from Vienna bring agreeable news to this Court about the mediation. The emperor has declared himself willing to accept that of England or Sweden if Spain will do so also. In consequence of this instructions have been sent to Godolphin at Madrid to urge a declaration which it is supposed the Catholic cannot avoid since England put so much trust in him over the dispute with Holland a few months ago. The Swedish ambassador would like to leave for France to keep the Most Christian in line, in the hope of obtaining a common consent at last. But before he leaves London he wants to see what this government will do after this change.
The earl of St. Albans has resigned the chamberlain's staff, which the king bestows on Arlington, appointing Sir Joseph Williamson to be secretary in his stead. No one knows as yet to which party he inclines as he has always turned a deaf ear to the hints of foreign ministers. Although brought up in the midst of these domestic factions and partial to those of the parliament he has kept the public in doubt about his politics.
Spaar obtained orders for Locard, who went to France last week, to confirm the Most Christian in his pacific intentions and Temple has again been told to urge the States to treat. They replied to his first overtures in general terms but said they could not decide without their allies. The three Dutch ambassadors here use similar language, but Odik who is related to Arlington through his wife, (fn. 2) and professes especial devotion to the prince of Orange, presents other confidential proposals, indicating a tendency on the part of the prince to comply with the wishes of this Court, so that during the peace England may second his plans for establishing his dynasty in Holland.
The depths of these projects cannot yet be sounded but the Dutch ambassadors show distrust of them and blame Odik, who resides in a house apart, for placing the portrait of the prince under a canopy as a mark of veneration, an innovation. The consequences of these beginnings will deserve consideration in proportion to the advance of the peace, about which I will keep on the alert.
After pondering the affair of my chaplain I have decided not to urge the Council to release him, but I shall let him stand his trial in the usual way, without defending him as my dependent. I must premise that the privileges of foreign ministers in England are very restricted. They do not extend to the protection of any British criminal and in 1654 the brother of the Portuguese ambassador was put to death for an act of very justifiable homicide. Still less can foreign ministers protect traitors, priests being condemned as such by the laws. I could only beg the king for his release as a favour or for banishment. Either course would be difficult for his Majesty, as parliament and the populace would have said that such an act proved his severity to priests to be a sham or there would have been an outcry accusing the king of usurping authority to suspend the laws. In the next place they would every day have arrested one of our chaplains and it would have been in the power of any rascal to take them all from us and send us daily begging to the king. By such means the agitators would have succeeded in maltreating the priests and compromising the king with parliament. To avoid this it has been decided to risk this chaplain in order to save all the others, and allow him to be tried, in the certainty that he cannot be condemned as by the laws here it is not sufficient for the witness to swear to having seen him perform mass, listen to confession etc., but they must testify to having been present when he received orders or he must himself confess to it. On the supposition that no honest judge will convict him, it has been decided to risk a trial that the people may see the difficulty of convicting a priest and so give up accusing them. At the worst, if he is condemned, the king has promised to pardon him by his prerogative to suspend sentence. The custom is a reprieve for 101 years for those condemned to death, on condition that when the term is up they shall present themselves to be hanged. This scheme would have succeeded, but yesterday and to day, the days appointed for hearing criminal cases, the two chief justices did not choose to take their seats on the Bench, to avoid taking part in the acquittal of the prisoner whom they could not conscientiously condemn, and the lord mayor told him that the witnesses against him were not ready so he had nothing to say and the priest must go back to prison and remain there until next term. As this will not begin for months it will be necessary to think of some fresh means for securing his release. In the mean time there is no danger of his being found guilty. It has been necessary for me to employ much industry and as many friends as I could get together to attain my object without compromising my official position or your Serenity.
London, the 21st September, 1674.
[Italian.]
Sept. 22.
Senato
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
387. To the Secretary Alberti in England.
The Senate regrets the misfortune which has occurred to the chaplain. We commend the adroitness you have shown in the matter and we observe with satisfaction that you have found his Majesty of a mind to favour his release. In the face of the difficulties which are encountered through the parliament and the subject matter, which is delicate, all prudent circumspection is rendered necessary and the continuation precisely of the tact shown in order to procure the exemption of the priest from the last severity. We are confident that you will know how to conduct yourself well in this in a measure corresponding to the need and as is required by the character of the government, and we shall wait to hear what the issue may be.
Ayes, 112. Noes, 2. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Sept. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
388. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The result of the war is awaited by this Court with extraordinary indifference. Intelligence has come from all sides of the march of the allies towards the French conquests in the Low Countries and that they had already laid siege to Oudenarde, which seemed likely to fall. Here they try to make a merit of their neutrality, but the reason for it is their firm conviction that the allies cannot much improve their condition by war and consequently the steps they have taken in favour of peace will not be lost. They have great hopes of settling the terms of the peace conjointly with Sweden. Both crowns count on obliging France on this occasion and tighten their confidential relations with her in anticipation of what other powers may do hereafter. To this end the Ambassador Spaar is still in London to see whether any sudden event will change the situation and also to witness the installation of the new secretary Williamson, who seems to depend entirely on the will of his Majesty and to be attached solely to his service.
Sir [Gabriel] Sylvius who was sent to Holland immediately after the war, has just returned. He says he left the Provinces inclined to a general peace provided it can he made secure to them. He adds that the dissensions in the government are reviving, that jealousy of the prince of Orange increases and he suspects them of plotting to remove him from that post to which they restored him in their need. Sylvius is the prince's creature, the same who has been sent to him on several occasions with secret instructions from his Majesty. It has transpired that he is the bearer of some project from Orange to which Odik is privy; but the other ambassadors know nothing and the Court is quite in the dark on the subject.
The Signory will have heard of the Dutch charges against Ruiter of being responsible for the failure of their American expedition, though he only had to take the troops out and it was for the Count of Horne to land them and answer for the success of their attack on the French. (fn. 3) It was supposed here that Ruiter would resent such treatment by leaving the service and courting England, but as he is a remnant of the de Wet faction, on which account he is now subjected to such rigorous censure, it is not probable that he will seek redress through Orange and his partisans.
London, the 28th September, 1674.
Postscript: Advices have just come of the victory of the prince of Condée over the allies and the confusion of their armies. On this basis it is hoped to construct the treaties of peace and the Council is discussing the means of furthering them.
[Italian.]
Sept. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
389. Girolamo Alberti, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Enclosed with the ducali of the 25th August I find the report of the Five Savii alia Mercanzia. This constrains me to repeat that it is a question worthy of the state's consideration whether it is advantageous or not to forbid the exportation of glass sheets from Murano. In the year 1666 the republic thought fit to publish a law against such exports at the instance of the mirror makers who complained that merchants sent the rough plates to be polished in other countries. It would undoubtedly be advantageous for the republic's subjects to retain in Venice both the manufacture of sheet glass and the art of polishing it. But if foreigners refuse to purchase the polished sheets, and that risk is incurred by their exporting rough sheets from Venice, they are compelled to procure them elsewhere. The Senate will realise that the mirror makers get no advantage from the law as it does not produce the intended monopoly in their favour. On the other hand it ruins the glass workers as the mirror makers will not buy the sheets of them, there being no sale for the article when polished and the merchants cannot take them, as export is forbidden. Thus glass making is ruined in order to protect the polishing trade and both will leave Venice unless the state provides some remedy. Here in London certain merchants tell me that they preferred the rough sheets of Venetian glass to any other make, but your Excellencies may not think it desirable to encourage them to return to Venice at the cost of repealing the law against exportation and of aggrieving the mirror makers. I can only submit that the speediest way to end the mischief and ruin the glass industry of France and England would be to supply this country with unpolished sheets of Venetian glass. If Venice did not polish a single sheet for two or three years that period would suffice to destroy the English glass works and then the law might be revived, if thought necessary, and foreigners would not be able to get mirrors elsewhere than at Venice. To this end I continue to encourage a friend of mine to undertake the glass trade. I made proposals to him a year ago and informed the Inquisitors of State, but the disturbances in parliament chilled his ardour in the fear that they might pass some act against foreign manufactures at the next session.
With regard to currants the difficulty is evident and the dissatisfaction of the English merchants with that trade is notorious, so I am confirmed in my opinion that unless some arrangements are made or the demands of Higgons are granted the English will progressively abandon the importation of currants from Zante and Cephalonia. But it is true that the English would find it difficult to live without currants or to adapt themselves to those of the Morea, so I hope they will be persuaded to continue the trade which I will advocate strongly to the merchants on the exchange here.
London, the 28th September, 1674.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Printed at page 274 above, dated 3 September, o.s,
2 Odijk was the second son of Louis of Nassau, heer van Beverweerd, a natural son of Prince Maurice. His sister Isabella married Arlington.
3 In February Ruyter suggested to the prince of Orange to attack the French Antilles. An expedition was fitted out but owing to various delays it did not reach the West Indies until July. By that time the French had been warned and were fully prepared. An attack on Martinique was repulsed with loss and the Dutch were forced to abandon the enterprise. Le Clere: Hist. des Provinces Unis, Vol. III, pp. 359, 360.