The Good ‘ole Days!

Ask anyone who has sought to get on the right side of the public cash box and you’ll no doubt stumble upon an enthralling tale. The slander (because that’s what it’s always about) captures far more than the putative excesses of personal greed and selfish ambition. It will go far beyond any base insight into the less than judicial interpretations of legislation. It will reveal in the end the answer to the very question which ought to have been addressed at the outset; namely, the price to be paid? For some the matter is of no consequence particularly as most of what evolves from historic analysis is buried between the covers of a tome by a gentrified writer who as often as not retired to his country seat with his book and his bottle. But for the man who has to endure the consequence, the rebuttal is clear and compelling.

Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was King of Scotland from 1649 until 1651, and King of Scotland, England and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death in 1685.

Charles II was the eldest surviving child of Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and Henrietta Maria of France. After Charles I’s execution at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War, the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II king on 5 February 1649.


“In this frugality there was nothing laudable. Charles (the Second) was, as usual, niggardly in the wrong place, and munificent in the wrong place. The public service was starved that courtiers might be pampered. The expense of the navy, of the ordnance, of pensions to needy old officers, of missions to foreign courts, must seem small indeed to the present generation. But the personal favourites of the sovereign, his ministers, and the creatures of those ministers, were gorged with public money. Their salaries and pensions, when compared with the incomes of the nobility, the gentry, the commercial and professional men of that age, will appear enormous. The greatest estates in the kingdom then very little exceeded twenty thousand a year. The Duke of Ormond had twenty-two thousand a year. The Duke of Buckingham, before his extravagance had impaired his great property, had nineteen thousand six hundred a year. George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, who had been rewarded for his eminent services with immense grants of crown land, and who had been notorious both for covetousness and for parsimony, left fifteen thousand a year of real estate, and sixty thousand pounds in money which probably yielded seven per cent. These three Dukes were supposed to be three of the very richest subjects in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury can hardly have had five thousand a year. The average income of a temporal peer was estimated, by the best informed persons, at about three thousand a year, the average income of a baronet at nine hundred a year, the average income of a member of the House of Commons at less than eight hundred a year. A thousand a year was thought a large revenue for a barrister. Two thousand a year was hardly to be made in the Court of King’s Bench, except by the crown lawyers. ”

Excerpt From: Thomas Babington Macaulay. “The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 1.”

The ribbon of patronage always comes at a cost.  Infliction of the repercussion resounds from a miscalculation of the fealty.

In medieval Europe, the swearing of fealty took the form of an oath made by a vassal, or subordinate, to his lord. “Fealty” also referred to the duties incumbent upon a vassal that were owed to the lord, which consisted of service and aid.

One part of the oath of fealty included swearing to always remain faithful to the lord. The oath of fealty usually took place after the act of homage, when, by the symbolic act of kneeling before the lord and placing his hands between the hands of the lord, the vassal became the “man” of the lord. Usually, the lord also promised to provide for the vassal in some form, either through the granting of a fief or by some other manner of support. Typically, the oath took place upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint’s relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God. Fealty and homage were key elements of European feudalism.

If the alliance between the lord and vassal were bound only by commercial enterprise, the consequence of association is nothing but a business transaction wherein the assessment of goods and services is predetermined. Beyond such stricture the occasion to dissemble prevails. The first confession (assuming one were required for purgation) is the admission that parties on both sides of the rail are spirited in the identical manner as oneself. Seeing oneself in the mirror is always shocking upon any rendition.  Even if you don’t see in yourself what you see in others, you may possibly see the looming trace of the visage of an ancestor (itself a sobering acquaintance). In short it is seldom that looking back upon what amounts to “payment in kind” is either uplifting or lofty; the imperative of reciprocity is an unforgiving peril.

Regrettably for some the only way to escape this result is to avoid the skirmish in the first place. Frequently that division entails disassociation. You cannot bite or gnaw upon the hand that feeds if too far removed. Nor by contrast can you be seen or heard by the man in the other room. Already you no doubt discern the eclipse of involvement and the decline of patronage from the token of esteem, the rosette, the memento, the remembrancer.

Yet for others the knowledge is propulsion for alternate design. The sole practitioner of any profession is by nature a singular man. While I would not say there is a price to be paid upon any account, there are patently accommodations required. But the thought of public execution is a distant image.