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THE COURTIER OF THE REIGN OF CHARLES II.1
BY MRS. C. GORE.
CHAPTER XI. But while the pursuits and projects of Lovell House were thus methodically ordained, in the wide world of national destiny great events were come to pass. Time, “ the setter up and puller down of princes," at length brought back to the British throne a prince of the contemned line of Stuarts ; and the people of England, so eager in bestowing the crown of martyrdom upon Charles I., proved equally enthusiastic in bestowing a temporal crown upon Charles II. He who had removed the speaker's mace from the House of Parliament as "a glittering bauble,” slept in a royal grave; and in place of the austere simplicity of the Protector, another glittering bauble was decreed to his royal successor !
The kingdom, from one extremity to the other, rang with loyal acclamations; and Charles, while listening to the addresses, proclamations, attestations, and declarations of his faithful people, was fully justified in his ejaculation to General Monk, “ 'Tis sure my own fault that I came not before ; since not a man in my dominions but seems to have been wearing his heart out with wishes for my restoration!”
The details of those earliest days of unquiet sovereignty are not for our pages. Even the king, though arrived at the sober age thirty years, grew almost sick of his calling, so perplexed were his initiatory councils by the difficulty of propitiating the adversaries by whose overtures he had been brought back, and the friends by whose evil counsels he had been kept away—between soothing the impatience of injured royalists to whom he had nothing to give, and of Cromwellians from whom he had everything to take away. As rough a contest was necessary to enable his majesty to re-establish prelacy in his kingdom, as there had been for General Monk to re-establish his majesty; and every now and then “ the sword of the Lord and of Gideon was suddenly brandished by the hand of some inspired millennarian, in mortal combat with the constitutional swords of justice
Nor were these struggles and contentions between the frogs and their log always of a nature to be described in the ironical tone of the fabulist. While Monk had peremptorily and rashly silenced in parliament those sage propositions for a modification of the kingly power, which might have secured the house of Stuart from the humiliation of being driven a second time from the throne, at Breda King Charles bad made conditions of his own invention. From the promised indemnity he had excluded all those whom parliament might adjudge to have been aiders and abettors in the death of Charles the Martyr. As a son, it was pronounced impossible for him to pardon
1 Continued froin p. 92. Oct, 1838,--VOL. XxuI.NO. XC.
the slayers of his father—as a sovereign, to pardon the slayers of an anointed king; and the kind-hearted and merciful prince considered himself fortunate that warrants of execution were not forced upon his signature by the ultra-royalists, for much more than half a hundred of his subjects. Providence, as if indignant at this revengeful spilling of blood, laid the heavy hand of retribution upon the royal family; and while all this hanging and heading proceeded, within six months of Charles's accession to the throne, his young and promising brother, the Duke of Gloucester, and his eldest sister, the Princess of Orange, were conveyed to the grave of their ancestors.
A stroke far deeper, however, than even the loss of her children, awaited the haughty heart of Henrietta Maria, when, overlooking the offences committed against herself in exile, she visited the re-royalised kingdom of her son for the purpose of “ looking after her dower." It was scarce a sufficient consolation to her vindictive spirit that the bodies of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw, were dislodged from their graves, dragged on a hurdle to Tyburn, suspended upon the same gibbet, and their heads decapitated, and placed as a ghastly warning in front of Westminster Hall—so long as she was compelled by the will of the king to salute publicly at court, as daughter and Duchess of York, the offspring of Chancellor Hyde and his low-born wife!
But heart-burnings, public or private, could not last for ever. In process of time, the king and his minister had executed all they dared, and spared all they chose; while the people were enabled to compute to a fraction at how many millions cost they were to purchase back their well-beloved sovereign. The revenues of the crown were settled-the Penderels duly rewarded—the religion of the land was by law established—the royal oak consecrated—and the husband of Mistress Palmer- that mother of many dukes-elevated to the ennoblement of partnership in a royal firm. And when at length the direful tragedy of kingly retribution had been crowned by the farce of dragging Sir Henry Mildmay, Wallop, and others, on hurdles to Tyburn, with halters round their necks, his majesty, weary of legislating for the past, began to be of opinion that it was time to enjoy himself for the present, without much regard for the future. He found that he had angered the royalists by showing them too little countenance, and the republicans too much. He found that he had offended the republicans by showing them the rigour of the law in place of the rigour of the gospel. All were discontented, .so long as he strove to please them; and he consequently set about the more welcome task of pleasing himself.
To assist such an office, good and faithful servants and loving subjects, fair and unfair, were more readily to be found than for the arduous duties of regulating corporations, passing acts of uniformity, or conjuring out of that weakest of strong boxes—the Exchequerthe sum of 1,200,0001., indispensable to stop the mouths of the most clamorous of his majesty's creditors.
In addition to the sweet little Barbara," Countess of Castlemaine in esse, and Duchess of Cleveland in posse, there were the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Rochester--the handsome Sydney—the pompous Earl of St. Albans, and his vain and giddy nephew, Harry Jermyn,--the Earls of Arran and Ossory__and the dissolute Killigrew, who governed the privacy of their prince as readily as Clarendon, Ormond, Southampton, Sandwich, Nicholas, and Morrice, his public measures.
In spite of debts and reminiscences-nay, in spite of the spectacle of that hateful window from whence the last Charles Stuart had stepped from the throne to the block-Whitehall was now the gayest and noisiest of any royal caravansary in the civilised world. Courtiers and courtesans, musicians, jugglers, and mountebanks, found ready entertainment within its walls; all the king's subjects, in fact, were welcome there, saving those threadbare cavaliers, who, having sacrificed all but their swords in the royal cause, were received with the coldness due to needy dependents.
Too old to frisk and caper
in the king's pastimes-too poor to game or dice at the king's bank-too proud to pick up the crumbs that fell from the king's table-sneered at by ushers and pages, and gravely assured by ministers that the regi. cides had been executed, and Oliver's remains insulted only to do them pleasure-nothing remained for them but to retreat unhonoured to their provinces, to eat the bitter bread of humiliation for the remainder of their days.
Among these postulants for the favours of the court, Sir Richard Lovell disdained to class himself. More truly rejoiced at heart by the event of the royal restoration than those who had flung themselves into the Dover road, or beset the antechambers of Westminster, to offer their gratuitous gratulations to the prince whom none of them had wagged a finger to aid in restoring to the throne of his ancestors, Sir Richard and Lady Lovell contented themselves with stimulating the slumbering loyalty of the tenantry by liberal donations, and festivities in honour of the great event. Not all the entreaties of good Mistress Corbet, now resident in London as carekeeper of the establishment of her son, could induce Lady Lovell to visit the metropolis, and witness the splendid rejoicings of court and city~ not all the invitations of his early friends, the now Lords Anglesey and Hollis, could determine the old general to witness the triumph of the cause for which he had sacrificed so largely.
The veteran felt keenly that it was not from them those pressing invitations should have emanated. The smiles of Barbara Grandison, or the buffooneries of Killigrew, need not have effaced from the recollection of Charles Stuart the words wrung from him on the field of Worcester, on beholding the mangled remains of one of the best and bravest of his adherents; that “ never king had lost a better subject, and that never subject's memory should be more honoured than that of the brave Lord Lovell, should fickle fortune ever again establish the throne he had fallen to defend.”
“ Was it for a few peevish words spoken by hot Dick Lovell in reprehension of faults that might have moved the man of Uz himself to break bounds—to efface so sacred an engagement ?" cried the veteran, when discussing with young Master Shum the motives of his refrainment from court. “ Nay, nay, nay! 'tis not in visitation upon any error of mine that his majesty disdains to show the slightest token of honour to our family. The fellow wants heart. Charles Stuart (that I should have to say as much of the Lord's anointed !) is the god of his own idolatry. Dick Lovell, and every other Lovell
, hath slipped out of his memory: and though 'tis affirmed that this continued sojourn of my graceless nephew in Italy, when everything conspires to recal him to England, is on business undertaken at the king's instance, I do verily believe that the device of the sheaf of arrows (given to our house, as you may have heard, by Richard the Crusader, in gratitude for a rescue of his person, effected at peril of his life, by Wilfrid the first Baron de Lovelle) hath no more favour in his sight than a cook's cleaver, or a jester's cap and bells. For five centuries, Master Shum, hath the loyalty of our line been recorded. Heralds, histories, and tombstones tell of our service to the kings of England. But 'tis as well, perhaps, that the honours of the house will wither in my unfertile branch ; for, as I am a christian man, had I a son to train in the way he should go, it should be as the friend of the people, rather than as the slave of the throne."
“ If I might presume to advise your worship’s excellence," whispered Master Shum, looking cautiously round the steward's room of Lovell House, wherein those dangerous doctrines were broached, " I would fain remind you that the best house in the land hath eaves-droppers: and that words like these, unhandsomely repeated at Westminster
Might bring down on the head of the old cavalier the same measure of vengeance which yielded to the scaffold the nobleman who at Scone did place a kingly crown on the proscribed head of the second Charles Stuart !" cried Sir Richard Lovell. 66 I know it, man-I know that all record of my faithful service is as fairly evaporated as that of certain bonds for sums wanted by the king at primero at St. Germains with Rochester and Killigrew; but economised with hard self-denial by Dick Lovell out of the noble income remitted to his use by his lady niece.”
“ And have you then no document to show for these loans ?” demanded the punctilious auditor, with an air of interest.
“ Had I parchments thrice engrossed and attested, I would shred them into tailors' measures rather than molest my sovereign with reminders of a debt he seems inclined to forget,” cried the cavalier, twisting his gray moustouche. " But, in sooth, I have not so much as the tinder that flitted from the brasier wherein I Aung the bonds forced upon me in requital by the king ; when, on certain propositions wherewith it is needless now to entertain you, I was moved to indignant contempt of a signature once loved and honoured as the signmanual of my sovereign !"
“ It was a rash and unadvised proceeding," observed the formal young auditor ;
“since, without such evidence of the credit, I fear the sums in question can never be legally recoverable."
“ Who talked of recovery?” cried Sir Richard, almost in a rage. I spoke of this only in extenuation of my ill-blood towards this newfangled court. The king had forgotten his obligations; and though I do not forgive his ingratitude, God witness for me, I forgive him his debt. What want I of coin ? The noble creature who hath adopted
me as a father, and whom I love as dearly as ever father loved a child, provideth for my wants and wishes ere I am conscious of their existence. Substance hath she, even to abounding, that I am relieved from scruple or delicacy touching acceptance. It is not in worldly gear the dear soul is wanting, and as neither the reformation of her scapegrace lord nor her enfranchisement by divorce is likely to be accomplished by my reconciliation with the court, no fear of old Dickons sacrificing one tittle of his self-respect by prancing at Whitehall among the ropedancers and led captains that grace the mummeries of the new court.”
But while such were the contempts of a few stanch cavaliers, who kept aloof without being missed or sought for, hundreds and thousands of giddy-witted courtiers were not wanting to swell the pageants of Whitehall, and augment the embarrassments of the king.
“What news to-day, mad wag ?" demanded the Duke of Buckingham of Tom Killegrew, as he sauntered into the gallery leading to the saloon preceding his Majesty's apartment, one fine day in April of the second year following the king's restoration.
“ None of any moment,” replied the licensed jester of the royal circle," saving that our Rosana, having thrown aside her palmer's weeds, is coming into bloom with the daffodils, having graced the royal supper-table last night in a suit of gold-coloured breast-knots, which tint is henceforward in her honour to be denounced king's yellow.”
“ 'Tis an ill-boding colour, if the old proverb run true !" cried Buckingham, with a contemptuous smile ; but what then ? Rowley, like the man in the play, doth defy augury,' even as this wantón minion doth defy jealousy. But hast thou no rarer hors d'æuvre of scandal to supply me with appetite for the royal breakfast, to which I am bidden a guest ?”.
“No scandal, an't like your grace," cried Killigrew, brushing a grain of dust from his pourpoint of scabious velvet. 'Tis rather a melancholy fact than a tattling jest, that Harry Jermyn, (who hath ever the fortune to inherit the cast suits of the Duke of Buckingham,) whether the livery be that of Mary of Orange, or the fair and universal Shrewsbury, is like to have the colours of the latter plucked from his sleeve by no less a personage than sober Tom Howard, -a man sage and methodical in his loves as others in their devotions. But your grace will need no whet for your chocolate and pasty this morning," continued Killigrew, changing his vein when he observed the Duke change colour at his news. “ All the evil-speaking, lying, and slandering, that all the states of Italy can furnish, await you at table. Lovell arrived last night, some ten minutes after the hour of his majesty's petit coucher, and is at this moment enjoying the honours of his majesty's petit lever.”
“Lovell !” cried Buckingham, knitting his brows with a still darker expression of displeasure ; “it is true, then, that Rowley hath been in close communication with him touching the jades at Parma.”
“What jades at Parma ?” demanded Killigrew, with an air of surprise, that announced him less forward than the arrogant Buckingham in the secrets of his master.