Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, Secretary of State to Charles II

Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, Secretary of State to Charles II

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Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, Secretary of State to Charles II

Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, Secretary of State to Charles II

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Excerpt

The Ministers of Charles II were not chosen for their honesty, nor were they retained in office for services rendered the state. Yet, as the King himself was far from dull-witted, so the men whom he advanced were always intelligent and sometimes exceptionally able. If they accomplished little to their credit, it is not because they were sunk in frivolity and vice, as is commonly assumed, but because they served a lazy, venal, and capricious master, whose government was perpetually on the edge--and frequently over the edge--of bankruptcy. The errors of the Cabal Ministry, in particular, have been more cordially recognized than its difficulties, and the five men who composed it have been execrated without being sufficiently known. Least known of the five, save by the testimony of his bitterest enemies, is Arlington. Yet, during the twelve years in which he was Secretary of State, no measure of importance was contemplated by the government without his participation, and in questions of foreign policy his knowledge and experience gave him the deciding voice. For five years, from the fall of Clarendon in 1667 to the his influence with the King made him the greatest personage in England.

To deal with any part of the social history of this reign which--as only Mr. Chesterton could say--"attracts us morally", is not the intention of this essay. Its purpose is rather to determine the extent of Arling-

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