Upon general grounds Charles was now willing enough to leave Jersey. The bluff firmness of Sir George Carteret, and the grave counsels of Nicholas, by whom the lieutenant-governor was usually backed up, were unwelcome to a sovereign; and his tiny kingdom afforded but little compensation, especially when he was forbidden to visit it, and was virtually prisoner on an almost insulated corner thereof. For Carteret and Nicholas had heard of his nocturnal adventure, and had extorted a promise from him not to go on land without their knowledge. They had also taken other precautions in the same behalf, which were perhaps more trustworthy.
It was finally determined that the king and his retinue should leave the island. The Scots’ invitation was accepted on the terms proposed by what it was agreed to call “the committee of estates;” and Breda, in Holland, was named as the place where the final agreement should be engrossed and signed by the high contracting parties. Here Charles would be safe in the protection of his brother-in-law, the Prince of Orange, until matters should be ripe for his departure to Scotland.
Since the events related in the foregoing chapters nearly two years had gone by. Jersey had been saved from intrigues of the Queen and Lord Jermyn. Charles had gone to France, and thence to Holland, followed by the Duke of York, his brother, and later by Sir Edward Nicholas and the other members of his council and court. The lieutenant-governor, freed from even the slight control afforded by their presence, had given full scope to the worse parts of his peculiar and complicated character. More than ever was his administration of his native island marked by unblushing egotism. Oppressive, grasping, unguarded in speech, and almost unrestrained in action, he seemed, from one point of view, the model of a sordid, short-sighted despot, making hay while the sun shone. But he had a fund of caution which kept him from proceeding quite to extremes, and his energy and ability were undeniable, as was also his attention to business. Hence, while feared and even hated, he was still respected and obeyed. Most of the militia officers were his creatures, as were also—as we have already seen—the civil, judicial, and legislative officers of the little republic. The seat of his government was at S. Helier, while S. Aubin, on the opposite point of the bay, was filled with his skippers and their crews, and the traders who profited by their piratical proceedings. Hardly a week passed but some rich prize—usually an English merchantman—was brought in there, to be condemned by Carteret’s court, and sold, together with her cargo, while the unfortunate mariners who had manned her were left to their own resources. Adventurers from all parts flocked to Jersey, to share the gains of this new and irregular trade, while the lawful commerce of England was menaced as with a cancer. With the