Pauline • Link
from L&M Companion
cr. Baron Arlington 1665, Earl 1672 (1618-85). Diplomatist and politician; Keeper of the Privy Purse 1661-2; Secretary of State 1662-74; also (inter alia) Commissioner of Prizes 1664-7, Admiralty Commissioner 1673-9, Tangier Commissioner 1680-4. His association with Ned Montagu did nothing to endear him to Pepys, but, that apart, he was to Pepys--as to most of his contemporaries--pompous, over-ambitious and lacking in solid ability. He rose to power by court intrigue and the favour of royal mistresses, and used it to promote the catholicising policies of the King. His career was at its height during the Cabal ministry when the Secret Treaty of Dover (1670) was made with Louis XIV, but after his attempted impeachment in 1674, he ceased to exercise any real influence. He was received into the church of Rome on his deathbed. In his biographer's words, his conscience 'could have accommodated itself easily to the necessity of bowing in the house of Rimmon, though for a lifetime'. His London house was Goring (later Arlington) House, on the site of Buckingham Palace. He spent lavishly both on that and on his great country house at Euston, Norf.
His wife (b. Isabella van Beverweerd, m. 1666) lived until 1718.
Pedro • Link
Arlington (Benett)…Antonia Fraser…King Charles II.
"Arlington had little in common with the magisterial figures who had supported, advised and even overborne the young King in exile. Twelve years older than the King, ten years younger than Clarendon, he was in essence a civil servant. Clarendon wrote of him crossly that "he could dictate; he could not lead". But Arlington could also serve, and that was the type of man that the King was beginning to need in an age where the theoretical rights of King and Parliament were amorphous, yet their practical relationship had to be hammered out day after day.He was given the Privy Purse in October 1662 when he replaced the ageing Nicholas as Secretary of State.
Arlington had a particular love and interest in Spain, having begun his career on a diplomatic mission there in 1657. Soon affairs of Spain, France, Portugal and Holland were channelled through him rather than the other Secretary of State, Sir William Morrice; Arlington took advantage of his knowledge of languages, an attribute not shared by his English contemporaries. With his rich dress, like that of a Spanish grandee, his air of formality described as "his Castilian bearing", a strange piece of sticking-plaster across his nose (relic of a war wound), Arlington was something of an outward oddity in the Court of King Charles. But the intimacy he soon enjoyed with the King was based on usefulness: he was given lodging from which he could easily reach the royal apartments by private staircase. As time would show, it was the subservient Arlington, and not Clarendon, who represented the type of King's advisers in the future."
Pedro • Link
Bennet and Spain.
Bennet's appointment to Secretary of State was not popular with many as he had spent several years in Spain. He had negotiated a secret treaty returning Jamaica and Dunkirk to Spain, when Charles was in exile. Since the Restoration he had been trying to get the King to honour it. The French Ambassador regularly refered to him as "The Spaniard".
Some additional links on Bennet, the first has additional background information and the second portraits.
From Grammont's footnotes
Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, principal secretary of state, and lord-chamberlain to King Charles II.: a nobleman whose practices, during that reign, have not left his character free from reproach. Mr. Macpherson says of him, that he "supplied the place of extensive talents by an artful management of such as he possessed. Accommodating in his principles, and easy in his address, he pleased when he was known to deceive; and his manner acquired to him a kind of influence where he commanded no respect. He was little calculated for bold measures, on account of his natural timidity; and that defect created an opinion of his moderation that was ascribed to virtue. His facility to adopt new measures was forgotten in his readiness to acknowledge the errors of the old. The deficiency of his integrity was forgiven in the decency of his dishonesty. Too weak not to be superstitious, yet possessing too much sense to own his adherence to the church of Rome, he lived a Protestant in his outward profession, but he died a Catholic. Timidity was the chief characteristic of his mind; and that being known, he was even commanded by cowards. He was the man of the least genius of the party; but he had most experience in that slow and constant current of business, which, perhaps, suits affairs of state better than the violent exertions of men of grea parts." -- Original Papers, vol. i. Lord Arlington died July 28, 1685
Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington, secretary of state and lord chamberlain to Charles II. was educated at Christ-Church in Oxford, where he distinguished himself by several pieces of poetry, which are printed in different collections of occasional verses. In the reign of Charles I. he was one of the under-secretaries to George, lord Digby, secretary of state; and afterwards entered a volunteer into the royal army, where he received many honourable wounds. He followed the fortunes of Charles II. with whom he was long a wanderer; and was employed by him in several embassies, before and after the Restoration. He had an uncommon talent at raillery and ridicule, and employed these low arts to undermine the credit of the lord chancellor Clarendon; and when his own credit began to decline, the same arts were returned upon himself. He was one of the cabinet council, notorious by the name of the Cabal, to which much of the political infamy of this reign will for ever adhere. They advised the king to shut up the exchequer, and persuaded him that his interest was unconnected with that of his people. Ob. July 28, 1685, Æt. 67.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1779.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.