Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY V.: ON THE RESTORATION OF 1660, A PROPOS OF A WORK ENTITLED AN HISTORICAL ESSAY ON THE REIGN OF CHARLES THE SECOND, BY JULES BERTHEVIN. - The Historical Essays and Narratives of the Merovingian Era
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ESSAY V.: ON THE RESTORATION OF 1660, A PROPOS OF A WORK ENTITLED “AN HISTORICAL ESSAY ON THE REIGN OF CHARLES THE SECOND, BY JULES BERTHEVIN.” - Augustin Thierry, The Historical Essays and Narratives of the Merovingian Era 
The Historical Essays, published under the Title of “Dix Ans d’Études historiques,” and Narratives of the Merovingian Era; or, Scenes of the Sixth Century, with an Autobiographical Preface (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1845).
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ON THE RESTORATION OF 1660, A PROPOS OF A WORK ENTITLED “AN HISTORICAL ESSAY ON THE REIGN OF CHARLES THE SECOND, BY JULES BERTHEVIN.”
At the death of Cromwell, discord broke out in the army which had inherited his power, and the hope of liberty, after ten years of oppression, became general in England. General George Monck’s presence of mind soon destroyed these hopes. He adopted the plan of calling in Cromwell’s former rivals in support of Cromwell’s government; a treaty was concluded between Monck for the army and Charles II., for the Royalists; and the son of Charles I. was brought back in triumph to London by the very troops which had escorted Charles I. to the scaffold. This is what the writers of the history of England have called the restoration. During those days of noisy festivity and debauchery, whilst the populace, forgetting vanquished liberty, got drunk with the conquerors, the patriots, pursued in the king’s name, as they had been in the Protector’s, concealed themselves or took flight: Sydney and Ludlow crossed the seas; Vane and Harrison were imprisoned.
After the first rejoicings, after the division of places, pensions, titles, profits and honours, after the fathful servants of the usurped tyranny had received, according to the terms of the treaty of alliance, commissions signed with the royal seal, the king, regardless of this same treaty, desired to shed blood and revenge the affront of his defeats, under pretence of revenging his father. His new courtiers, those whose fortune had been made by the death of Charles I., offered no resistance to this excess of filial piety. They even had the infamy to sit among the judges of those who were called regicides, and send to the scaffold ten men who had been their friends, and who, in judging the king, had only executed their orders, intimated at the edge of the sword. It was with that blood that they signed the promise of fidelity to the new as well as to the old authority.
But this was not all; it was requisite for the nation to learn that patriotism without regicide, and even averse to regicide, was not the less deserving of death. Henry Vane and Sydney had disdained to be concerned in the ignoble murder of a captive king: Henry Vane was given up to the executioner; and hired assassins pursued Sydney even into exile. It was the Princess Henrietta, the sister of Charles II., the ornament of Louis XIV.’s balls, the Princess Henrietta, young, beautiful, and sensitive, who, from her residence in France, was better able to direct these expeditions, and who took upon herself to give orders and a salary to the murders. Every head of an outlaw was to be paid thirty crowns.
The inviolable asylum which the people of Holland offered to the English patriots, kindled the hatred of the rulers of England against this free nation; Charles II. declared war with it under false pretexts of commerce. His fleets attacked unexpectedly the ships of the Batavian merchants, who, far from revenging themselves by cowardly reprisals, avowed that the English were their friends, and that in arming against their despot, they were fighting for them. The English nation prayed for their victory, and when Ruyter and de Witt burned Charles II.’s ships within view of London, when Charles, frightened, demanded assistance of the Parliament, Parliament for sole answer drew up a bill which disbanded all the troops. Superficial minds will fail to understand this conduct, inspired by a grander patriotism than what is vulgarly so called. The king was not astonished to see those whose liberty was destroyed by his power, united by hope and interest with the free people whose ruin he was endeavouring to consummate. He suspended the execution of his projects; but, during the truce, he meditated a vaster plan. He reflected that he was not the only king in Europe, and that consequently there were men as annoyed as he was by the sight of Dutch independence; he thought of Louis XIV.
The ray of light which appeared to Charles II., also struck the King of France; a secret alliance was concluded, and the two monarchs engaged to unite with all their might against the United Provinces, to destroy the government of those provinces, and to restore to the princes of Orange a nominal authority. After having implored God to bless this enterprise, undertaken for his sole glory, the two kings sent out a hundred and thirty ships of war, and a hundred and thirty thousand men, against the handful of freemen who enriched by their labour, and honoured by their independence, the provinces of Batavia.
The merchantmen of the Dutch were pursued on the seas, and surprised by means of infamous stratagems; that nation was insulted in manifestos filled in advance with all the pride of the victory which despotism promised itself over the only men who were without masters; and this people, as at first, answered only by protestations of friendship towards the nations whose pretended representatives outraged it and burned its cities. But fortune did not attend the good cause; the soldiers of Louis XIV. encamped at the gate of Amsterdam. The citizens burst the dykes of the sea, and inundated their own dwellings to preserve them from slavery. Unfortunately there were still ambitious men and traitors in Holland; these took part with the aggressors; and the Prince of Orange, to whom these kings destined the supreme authority, received it at the hands of the populace which had risen against its magistrates. The two greatest citizens of modern times, the brothers de Witt, perished beneath the blows of traitors. Liberty perished with them; the design of the kings was fulfilled.
During these combats against the liberty of a foreign nation, Charles II. did not forget that he was to efface every vestige of independence in the three countries which fate had placed under his rule. Scotland, like England, had seen some heads fall; but soon it was struck in the mass. The religion of the Scotch was Presbyterianism, a religion without pomp, without prelates, and the somewhat harsh austerity of which inspired the mind with pride and daring. A decree issued in London, ordered the Scotch to cease to be Presbyterians; judges, executioners and soldiers were sent to compel to obedience men whose most sacred right was violated by this decree. Thousands of half-savage mountaineers were sent against them; pillage, burnings, and massacres spread everywhere. Women even were not spared; and for fear that the recital of these horrors should, from compassion, rouse the courage of the English nation, it was forbidden, under pain of death, to cross the frontiers of Scotland.
All these exploits, so well calculated to insure power, promised it long years of repose; and it would doubtless have enjoyed them had it been able to keep united within itself. But the plague of internal discord afflicted it in the midst of its successes. The government of the restoration was divided between two classes of men formerly enemies. In the first days of this great union, the more lively sentiment of their common interests, and the fumes of wine, had entirely reconciled them; they had embraced like brothers; but soon afterwards, relapsing under the weight of habit, they hated each other as rivals. Charles II. affected a difficult impartiality towards all. Too skilful not to feel that the traitors to liberty are the best instruments against it, he gave the Cromwellites the greatest portion of authority, reserving pensions to indemnify his old friends. These were indignant at their experience being despised; they complained of the king; they murmured; and from murmurs they came to plots. They undertook to dethrone Charles II. and to make his brother, the Duke of York, who was better disposed for their interests, king. Such was the origin of this popish conspiracy, so celebrated in the history of England, and so called because the principal parts were played by Catholics. Charles II., experienced and discreet, wished to stifle all rumour of the plot, feeling that it was in his power to disarm the conspirators without violence. The imprudence of a minister rendered his efforts useless; and he then hastened to put an end to the inquiries, by the punishment of some Jesuits and a lord, whom he might have saved. Then immediately changing his policy, he brought back to himself by new favours, the Papists, the nobles, and the heads of the clergy. This faction was satisfied; but the other murmered in its turn: the apostates of the revolution, those who had quelled it first, feared to see the fruit of their victories pass into other hands. In their alarm, they ventured to speak of patriotism, and to invoke the assistance of the patriots. The patriots, led on by a vague hope, replied to their call. Thus arose the famous opposition of 1678, the first example of that systematic opposition which has perpetuated itself in England. Charles II. was irritated by this league, which confounded all his ideas; less enlightened than his successors, he thought his government in danger, when he heard the Shaftesburys once more attesting the independence which they had abjured, and hold out their hands to the citizens whom they had sold for places. Made fierce and cruel by fear, he surrounded himself with spies, false witnesses, and corrupt judges, and with their assistance filled the prisons and stained the scaffolds with blood. In return for this violence, the opposition conspired; it conspired, not after the manner of the English people, not for liberty, but in the way of the Popish malecontents, to have a king of their own choice. These had laboured for the Duke of York; the new male-contents laboured for the Duke of Monmouth, Charles II.’s natural child. Whilst the better to insure their projects, they increased in attentions to the friends of the nation, Sydney, just returned after twenty years of exile, on his side thought of rallying the true partisans of that ancient cause, so often defeated and never despaired of. The chiefs of the opposing party sought him; Sydney did not conceal his plans from them; and they, without agreeing with him as to the object of the war to be undertaken, showed themselves disposed to pursue in concert two plans very different from one another, the awakening of liberty, and a change of master. The death of the king did not enter into Sydney’s plan, nor even into the plan of those malecontents who, like Lord Russell, had any grandeur of soul; this murder, secretly plotted by a few subaltern malecontents, was imputed to them both. Russell and Sydney perished.
Equally intrepid on the scaffold, both offered an example of greatness of soul; but Lord Russell, whilst accusing despotism, reproached it with levelling: “There are no more nobles,” said he; whilst Sydney conceived no greatness but that of virtue and genius: he had armed himself only to acquire the peace of independence.*
Such are the events which compose the period of the history of England, which bears the name of Charles II. M. Jules Berthevin has told them simply, exactly, but without understanding them. His work is full of sincerity, but weak. The author blames Charles II. for having broken his promises and made unjust wars; for having persecuted, surrounded himself with hired villains, and having been false and cruel; and in the same page he praises him for the ambitious enterprises which led him to this infamy; he praises him “for having sought to possess himself of the noble appanage of his fathers, for having endeavoured to find in authority the right of forcing the people to be happy, and withdrawing his subjects and himself from the caprices of tumultuous assemblies.” The author begs to be forgiven, because he ventures “to throw some interest over Sydney’s last moments.” We do not see to whom M.Jules Berthevin offers these apologies. No man of feeling, whatever his party or situation, will owe him ill-will for not calumniating the great Sydney. Besides, a writer owes nobody an account of his own conscience; and the writer who is not liberal, requires more than any other to appear to depend on himself alone. As his opinions have no logical value, it is only by the force of moral dignity that they can pretend to any respect.
[* ] Sidney had taken for his motto the following verses:—....... Manus hæc immica tyrannisEnse petit placidum sub libertate quietem.