Diary of the times of Charles II/Volume 1/Mr. Harbord to Mr. Sidney, August 18


Grafton Park, August 18th.

The last night, yours of the 18th instant came, and brought me the good news of your good health, which I assure you no man wishes more heartily than myself. Our friend Mr. Montague is now at Newport Pagnell, on his way to Northampton, to be chosen there, which he will without difficulty or opposition, and indeed without any considerable expense, which, added to the favour which his lady hath lately done him, makes him happy enough till the meeting of parliament. As for myself, I have had a rub in my matters at Thetford. My Lord Chamberlain, thinking it very hard that his servant Sir Joseph [2] should so constantly be chosen under his nose and quite exclude him, writ to him to desist in favour of his brother; and in answer, that worthy gentleman begged his pardon as for himself, but offered his assistance to bring Sir John Bennet into my place. Whether he could have effected it or no, I know not, but my Lord Chamberlain most generously declined that motion. However, these contests put off my election till Friday last, and me from having an account of it till this morning, which saith that on Thursday last the precept came to the mayor, and that the very next morning Sir Joseph and myself were unanimously chosen without the least opposition, so that matter is over. I have done Sir W. Temple all the good I can at Cambridge, and I do not doubt that he will be chosen there also. Sir Henry Capel will be elected in two if not in three places; as at Tewkesbury, his old borough: for the county of Brecknock, in Wales; and for Shoreham in Sussex; for Mr. Hales, to whom he inclined to surrender that interest, is chosen at Hythe, one of the Cinque Ports. But that you may be assured of my care, I have sent my deputy auditor into Cornwall, to Launceston, to secure my being chosen there, and to tell them that I design to be with them as soon as I received their answer, which I expect every hour, and so ride a journey of 300 miles on horseback outright, and this without compliment is done to serve yourself and Sir W. Temple, that so which of you wants it may have it; the preference being wholly yours. So that I think yoa will without a doubt be a member, as is your brother Algernon. I assure you that I never fail my friends, nor will I ever be wanting to do you all the service in my power.

I am overjoyed to hear the news you give of the Prince; I wish we were as wise, and understood our interests as well, and had justice and courage in our hearts to pursue it. I have not the honour to be known to his Highness, but, I assure you, that no man in this kingdom wishes him better, nor is more his friend than myself, nor loves the honest plain-dealing people more than I do, for such I ever found the common Hollander to be in his calling, be it great or small. What foreign interests, foreign courts, councils, and money, may have introduced among the bigger sort, I know not, but I hope they are too wise to part with their religion and liberties to him, who waits hourly an opportunity to ravish both theirs and ours, unless the wisdom of these two nations, by a strict conjunction and that honesty maintained on both sides, prevent it, which, I hope, considering the station you are in, will depend much on you to further.

If you can find an opportunity to recommend me to his Highness' good opinion, pray do it heartily. You know the plain paths I tread. I hear his ways are such, which is the great ground of the great value I have for him, and the service I would gladly pay him on all occasions.

I do not find any great gall in the new elections, but even that not only men in places, but long parliament men, and even my Lord Danby's pensioners, come in promiscuously. So that I trust in God the same calmness in the House will answer that of the kingdom; and that we may yet live to see our poor religion unshaken, and our liberties preserved, his Majesty live in great honour and plenty, and England make that figure in the world she ought and must do, unless God, tired of his (continual blessings bestowed upon us, intend for our ingratitude to plunge us into those miseries which threaten so apparently this kingdom.

I am. Sir,
Your most faithful servant,

W. Harbord.

  1. This Mr. Harbord, who "loves honest, plain-dealing people." might well have his fears of "what foreign interests, foreign courts, councils, and money, may have introduced among the bigger sort," having himself pocketed some, though not much, of the French King's money. The sum for which he is set down in Barillon's list is 500 guineas. "Mr. Harbord," says Barillon, writing to his master in 1678, "is another of those whom I have made use of, and who bore an active part in the affair of the Treasurer and the disbanding of the troops, but it would be difficult to employ him at present. He has considerable credit among people in the country. He would be more fit, if a minister were to be attacked, than be will be to speak in parliament against an alliance which the Court would make and the other party hinder. These four (Baker, Lyttleton, Powle, and Harbord), have touched what was promised them, when the disbanding of the troops should be finished and the High Treasurer removed from affairs." And again he writes: " Mr. Harbord is the same whom I engaged in the affair of the High Treasurer. He is a friend of Mr. Montague's, but has not the same connections with the Duke of Monmouth; on the contrary, he appears to be in the Prince of Orange's interest. Through him I have engaged many persons of great credit in Parliament and in London. He is an active, vigilant man, from whom I have very good information, and who has a great desire to make his fortune by means of France."—Dalrymple's Mem. i. 358.
    During Charles's reign, Harbord was one of the most violent opponents of the Court party. He took a very active part with Montague against Dauby, and was one of the warmest advocates in the House for the Bill of Exclusion. No wonder, therefore, that he left England soon after the accession of James, attended upon the Prince of Orange, and engaged heartily in his cause at the time of the revolution. "I," says the Earl of Clarendon, "and my company supped together at my lodgings (Hungerford); Sir John Hotham and William Harbord supped with us. They discoursed much against the meeting of Parliament, which was summoned, saying that, by their having been so long out of England, attending upon the Prince of Orange, they could not expect to be chosen, if they had not time to go down into their counties, as if it could not be a good Parliament, in case those gentlemen were not in it Mr. Harbord said he had drawn his sword against the King, that he had no need of his pardon, but that they would bring the King to ask pardon of them, for the wrongs be bad done. In a word, their discourse was so seditions, that I was easily confirmed in my opinion, that no good was intended by them who came over with the Prince."—Clarendon's Diary, ii. 219.
    What office or place was conferred upon Harbord after the revolution does not appear; but from the following amusing account of a quarrel which took place in the House of Commons, in 1689, between himself and Mr. Bertie, and which was adjusted in the usual parliamentary way, it seems that he was then employed in the "King's business."
    Mr. Hampden. I have taken notice of some angry words betwixt these two gentlemen; I move that they may stand up, man by man, and engage, upon their honours, not to proceed further in this difference.
    The Speaker. Let both the gentlemen stand up at one time, and no priority or precedency in the declaration.
    Mr. Harbord. The gentleman [Mr. Bertie] is of too much honour to engage one that has not the use of either of his hands. If I have been ill used, I cannot pass my word not to proceed farther without satisfaction; therefore, pray consider with yourselves what you have to do. It is a hard thing for me to acknowledge that I have received an injury, and require no reparation for it.
    The Speaker. The two gentlemen say nothing; you must lay the commands of the house upon them to declare.
    Mr. Harbord. I do not conceive myself injured at all.
    Mr. Bertie. I apprehended Harbord reflected upon me as a Pensioner. I thought I was reflected upon about the election at Westbury.
    Mr. Garroway. The whole these gentlemen stand upon is a punctilio, who shall stand up first and declare. I would write both their names and put them in a hat, and let them draw out and declare.
    Mr. Bertie. If Harbord will say he intended no personal reflection upon me, I will be satisfied.
    The Speaker. It is no dishonour to put these persons under resraint, for it is your work and order; and then friends may interpose.
    Mr. Harbord. Do you think imprisoning me would frighten me to petition for release? I do not think myself injured, and can it be thought a man of my age would quarrel when I am not injured? If you do commit me, what will became of the King's business?****
    Mr. Harbord. To put an end to this, write down what I should say, and I will say it, and obey you.
    The Speaker proposed these words to be spoken by the two gentlemen, viz.—"I do promise, upon my word and honour, not to prosecute any quarrel upon this occasion;" which was accordingly done.
  2. Sir Joseph Williamson.