The King's aim was to frighten the country into reaction by the dread of civil strife; and his summons of the Parliament to Oxford was an appeal to the country against the disloyalty of the capital, and an adroit means of reviving the memories of the Civil War. With the same end he ordered his guards to accompany him, on the pretext of anticipated disorder; and Shaftesbury, himself terrified at the projects of the Court, aided the King's designs by appearing with his followers in arms on the plea of self-protection. Monmouth renewed his progresses through the country. Riots broke out in London. Revolt seemed at hand, and Charles hastened to conclude his secret negotiations with France. He verbally pledged himself to a policy of peace, in other words to withdrawal from any share in the Grand Alliance which William was building up, while Lewis promised a small subsidy which with the natural growth of the royal revenue sufficed to render Charles, if he remained at peace, independent of Parliamentary aids. The violence of the new Parliament played yet more effectually into the King's hands. The members of the House of Commons were the same as those who had been returned to the Parliaments he had just dissolved, and their temper was naturally embittered by the two dissolutions.
Their rejection of a new Limitation Bill brought forward by Halifax, which while granting James the title of King would have vested the actual functions of government in the Prince and Princess of Orange, alienated the more moderate and sensible of the Country party. The attempt of the Lower House to revive the panic by impeaching an informer named Fitzharris before the House of Lords, in defiance of the constitutional rule which entitled him as a commoner to a trial by his peers in the course of common law, did still more to throw public opinion on the side of the Crown. Shaftesbury's course, in fact, went wholly on a belief that the penury of the Treasury left Charles at his mercy, and that a refusal of supplies must wring from the King his assent to the Exclusion. But the gold of France had freed the King from his thraldom. He had used the Parliament simply to exhibit himself as a sovereign whose patience and conciliatory temper was rewarded with insult and violence; and now that his end was accomplished, he no sooner saw the Exclusion Bill re-introduced, than he suddenly dissolved the Houses after a month's sitting, and appealed in a royal declaration to the justice of the nation at large.
The appeal was met by an almost universal burst of loyalty. The Church rallied to the King; his declaration was read from every pulpit; and the Universities solemnly decided that " no religion, no law, no fault, no forfeiture," could avail to bar the sacred right of hereditary succession. The arrest of Shaftesbury on a charge of suborning false witnesses to the Plot marked the new strength of the Crown. London indeed was still true to him; the Middlesex Grand Jury ignored the bill of his indictment; and his discharge from the Tower was welcomed in every street with bonfires and ringing of bells. But a fresh impulse was given to the loyal enthusiasm of the country at large by the publication of a plan said to have been found among his papers, the plan of a secret association for the furtherance of the Exclusion, whose members bound themselves to obey the orders of Parliament even after its prorogation or dissolution by the Crown. So general was the reaction that Halifax advised the calling of a new Parliament in the belief that it would be a loyal one. William of Orange too visited England to take advantage of the turn of affairs to pin Charles to the policy of the Alliance; but the King met both counsels with evasion. He pushed boldly on in his new course.
He confirmed the loyalty of the Church by a renewed persecution of the Nonconformists, which drove Penn from England and thus brought about the settlement of Pennsylvania as a refuge for his fellow Quakers. He was soon strong enough to call back James to Court. Monmouth, who had resumed his progresses through the country as a means of checking the tide of reaction, was arrested. The friendship of a Tory mayor secured the nomination of Tory sheriffs in London, and the juries they packed left the life of every Exclusionist at the mercy of the Crown. Shaftesbury, alive to the new danger, plunged madly into conspiracies with a handful of adventurers as desperate as himself, hid himself in the City, where he boasted that ten thousand "brisk boys" were ready to appear at his call, and urged his friends to rise in arms. But their delays drove him to flight; and two months after his arrival in Holland, the soul of the great leader, great from his immense energy and the wonderful versatility of his genius, but whose genius and energy had ended in wrecking for the time the fortunes of English freedom, and in associating the noblest of causes with the vilest of crimes, found its first quiet in death.