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Royalty Restored or London under Charles II. by J. Fitzgerald Molloy

Part 3 out of 7

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admiration is delicate in its colours, and finished in its
details. "Her forehead," he writes, "was open, white, and
smooth; her hair was well set, and fell with ease into that
natural order which it is so difficult to imitate. Her
complexion was possessed of a certain freshness, not to be
equalled by borrowed colours; her eyes were not large, but they
were lovely, and capable of expressing whatever she pleased; her
mouth was full of graces, and her contour uncommonly perfect; nor
was her nose, which was small, delicate, and turned up, the least
ornament of so lovely a face. She had the finest shape, the
loveliest neck, and most beautiful arms in the world; she was
majestic and graceful in all her movements; and she was the
original after which all the ladies copied in their taste and air
of dress."

Now, about the same time the Hamiltons arrived at court, there
likewise appeared at Whitehall one whose fame as a wit, and whose
reputation as a gallant, had preceded him. This was the
celebrated Chevalier de Grammont, whose father was supposed to be
son of Henry the Great of France. The chevalier had been
destined by his mother for the church, the good soul being
anxious he should lead the life of a saint; but the youth was
desirous of joining the army, and following the career of a
soldier. Being remarkable for ingenuity, he conceived a plan by
which he might gratify his mother's wishes and satisfy his own
desires at the same time. He therefore accepted the abbacy his
brother procured for him; but on appearing at court to return
thanks for his preferment, comported himself with a military air.
Furthermore, his dress was combined of the habit and bands
pertaining to an ecclesiastic, and the buskins and spurs
belonging to a soldier. Such an amalgamation had never before
been witnessed, and caused general attention; the court was
amazed at his daring, but Richelieu was amused by his boldness.
His brother regarded his appearance in the dual character of
priest and soldier as a freak, and on his return home asked him
gravely to which profession he meant to attach himself. The
youth answered he was resolved "to renounce the church for the
salvation of his soul," upon condition that he retained his
beneficed abbacy. It may be added, he kept this resolution.

A soldier he therefore became, and subsequently a courtier. His
valour in war and luck in gambling won him the admiration of the
camp; whilst his ardour in love and genius for intrigue gained
him the esteem of the court, but finally lost him the favour of
his king. For attaching himself to one of the maids of honour,
Mademoiselle La Motte Houdancourt, whom his most Christian
Majesty Louis XIV. had already honoured with his regard,
Grammont was banished from the French court.

Accordingly, in the second year of the merry monarch's reign he
presented himself at Whitehall, and was received by Charles with
a graciousness that served to obliterate the memory of his late
misfortune. Nor were the courtiers less warm in their greetings
than his majesty. The men hailed him as an agreeable companion;
the ladies intimated he need not wholly abandon those tender
diversions for which he had shown such natural talent and
received such high reputation at the court of Louis XIV. He
therefore promptly attached himself to the king, whose parties he
invariably attended, and whose pleasures he continually devised;
made friends with the most distinguished nobles, whom he charmed
by the grace of his manner and extravagance of his
entertainments; and took early opportunities of proving to the
satisfaction of many of the fairer sex that his character as a
gallant had by no means been exaggerated by report.

Amongst those to whom he paid especial attention were Mrs.
Middleton, a woman of fashion, and Miss Kirk, a maid of honour,
to whom Hamilton, in his memoirs of Grammont, gives the
fictitious name of Warmestre. The former was at this time in her
seventeenth summer, and had been two years a wife. Her
exquisitely fair complexion, light auburn hair, and dark hazel
eyes constituted her a remarkably beautiful woman. Miss Kirk was
of a different type of loveliness, inasmuch as her skin was
brown, her eyes dark, and her complexion brilliant. As Mrs.
Middleton was at this time but little known at court, Grammont
found some difficulty in obtaining an introduction to her as
promptly as he desired; but feeling anxious to make her
acquaintance, and being no laggard in love, he without hesitation
applied to her porter for admittance, and took one of her lovers
into his confidence. This latter gallant rejoiced in the name of
Jones, and subsequently became Earl of Ranelagh. In the fulness
of his heart towards one who experienced a fellow feeling, he
resolved to aid Grammont in gaining the lady's favours. This
generosity being prompted by the fact that the chevalier would
rid him of a rival whom he feared, and at the same time relieve
him of an expense he could ill afford, the lady having certain
notions of magnificence which her husband's income was unable to

Mrs. Middleton received the chevalier with good grace; but he
found her more ready to receive the presents he offered, than to
grant the privileges he required. Miss Kirk, on the other hand,
was not only flattered by his attentions, but was willing to use
every means in her power to preserve a continuance of his
friendship; Therefore out of gratitude for graces received from
one of the ladies, and in expectation of favours desired from the
other, Grammont made them the handsomest presents. Perfumed
gloves, pocket looking-glasses, apricot paste, came every week
from Paris for their benefit; whilst more substantial offerings
in the shape of jewellery, diamonds, and guineas were procured
for them in London, all of which they made no hesitation to

It happened one night, whilst Grammont was yet in pursuit of Mrs.
Middleton, that the queen gave a ball. In hope of winning her
husband's affection, by studying his pleasures and suiting
herself to his ways, her majesty had become a changed woman. She
now professed a passion for dancing, wore decollete costumes, and
strove to surpass those surrounding her in her desire for gaiety.
Accordingly her balls were the most brilliant spectacles the
court had yet witnessed; she taking care to assemble the fairest
women of the day, and the most distinguished men. Now amongst
the latter was the Chevalier de Grammont; and amidst the former,
Mrs. Middleton and Miss Hamilton.

Of all the court beauties, "la belle Hamilton" was one of whom
Grammont had seen least and heard most; but that which had been
told him of her charms seemed, now that he beheld her, wholly
inadequate to express her loveliness. Therefore, his eyes
followed her alone, as her graceful figure glided in the dance
adown the ball-room, lighted with a thousand tapers, and
brilliant with every type of beauty. And when presently she
rested, it was with an unusual flutter at his heart that this
gallant, heretofore so daring in love, sought her company,
addressed her, and listened with strange pleasure to the music of
her voice. From that night he courted Mrs. Middleton no more,
but devoted himself to "la belle Hamilton," who subsequently
became his wife.

Meanwhile, the merry monarch behaved as if he had no higher
purpose in life than that of following his pleasures. "The king
is as decomposed [dissipated] as ever," the lord chancellor
writes to the Duke of Ormond, in a letter preserved in the
Bodleian library, "and looks as little after his business; which
breaks my heart, and makes me and other of your friends weary of
our lives. He seeks for his satisfaction and delight in other
company, which do not love him so well as you and I do." His days
were spent in pursuing love, feasting sumptuously, interchanging
wit, and enjoying all that seemed good to the senses. Pepys, who
never fails to make mention of the court when actual experience
or friendly gossip enables him, throws many pleasant lights upon
the ways of the monarch and his courtiers.

For instance, he tells us that one Lord's day--the same on which
this excellent man had been to Whitehall chapel, and heard a
sermon by the Dean of Ely on returning to the old ways, and,
moreover, a most tuneful anthem sung by Captain Cooke, with
symphonies between--whom should he meet but the great chirurgeon,
Mr. Pierce, who carried him to Somerset House, and into the queen
mother's presence-chamber. And there, on the left hand of
Henrietta Maria, sat the young queen, whom Mr. Pepys had never
seen before, and now thought that "though she be not very
charming, yet she hath a good, modest, and innocent look, which
is pleasing." Here, likewise, he saw the king's mistress, and the
young Duke of Monmouth, "who, I perceive," Pepys continues, "do
hang much upon my Lady Castlemaine, and is always with her; and I
hear the queenes, both of them, are mighty kind to him. By-and-
by in comes the king, and anon the duke and his duchesse; so
that, they being all together, was such a sight as I never could
almost have happened to see with so much ease and leisure. They
staid till it was dark, and then went away; the king and his
queene, and my Lady Castlemaine and young Crofts, in one coach,
and the rest in other coaches. Here were great stores of great
ladies. The king and queen were very merry; and he would have
made the queene mother believe that the queene was with child,
and said that she said so. And the young queene answered, 'You
lye,' which was the first English word that I ever heard her say,
which made the king good sport."

Others besides Mr. Pepys had begun to notice that the young Duke
of Monmouth hung much upon the Countess of Castlemaine, and that
her ladyship lavished caresses upon him. Whether this was to
provoke the uneasiness of his majesty, who she hoped might find
employment for the lad elsewhere, or to express her genuine
affection for him, it is impossible to say. However, the duke
being come to an age when the endearments of such a woman might
have undesired effects upon him, the king resolved to remove him
from her influence, and at the same time secure his fortune by

He therefore selected a bride for him, in the person of Lady Anne
Scott, a young gentlewoman of virtue and excellence, who was only
child of Francis, Earl of Buccleugh, and the greatest heiress in
Great Britain. Their nuptials were celebrated on the 20th of
April, 1663, the bridegroom at this time not having reached his
fifteenth birthday, whilst the bride was younger by a year. The
duke on his marriage assumed his wife's family name, Scott; and
some years later--in 1673--both were created Duke and Duchess of
Buccleugh. From this union the family now bearing that title has
descended. A great supper was given at Whitehall on the
marriage-night, and for many days there were stately festivities
held to celebrate the event with becoming magnificence.

Now at one of the court balls held at this time, the woman of all
others who attracted most attention and gained universal
admiration was Frances Stuart, maid of honour to Queen Catherine.
She was only daughter of a gallant gentleman, one Walter Stuart,
and grand-daughter of Lord Blantyre. Her family had suffered
sore loss in the cause of Charles I., by reason of which, like
many others, it sought refuge in France. This young gentlewoman
was therefore bred in that country, and was, moreover, attached
to the court of the queen mother, in whose suite she travelled
into England. Her beauty was sufficient to attract the attention
of Louis XIV., who, loath to lose so fair an ornament from his
court, requested her mother would permit her to remain, saying,
he "loved her not as a mistress, but as one that would marry as
well as any lady in France."

No doubt Mrs. Stuart understood the motives of his majesty's
interested kindness, of which, however, she declined availing
herself, and therefore departed with her daughter for England.
At the time of her appearance at Whitehall, Frances Stuart was in
her fifteenth year. Even in a court distinguished by the beauty
of women, her loveliness was declared unsurpassed. Her features
were regular and refined, her complexion fair as alabaster, her
hair bright and luxuriant, her eyes of violet hue; moreover, her
figure being tall, straight, and shapely, her movements possessed
an air of exquisite grace. An exact idea of her lineaments may
be gained unto this day, from the fact that Philip Rotier, the
medallist, who loved her true, represented her likeness in the
face of Britannia on the reverse of coins; and so faithful was
the likeness, we are assured, that no one who had ever seen her
could mistake who had sat as model of the figure.

Soon after her arrival in England, she was appointed one of the
maids of honour to Queen Catherine, and as such was present at
all festivities of the court. Now, at one of the great balls
given in honour of the Duke of Monmouth's nuptials, the fair
Frances Stuart appeared in the full lustre of her charms. Her
beauty, her grace, and her youth completely eclipsed the more
showy gifts of my Lady Castlemaine, who on this occasion looked
pale and thin, she being in the commencement of another
pregnancy, "which the king was pleased to place to his own
account." The merry monarch had before this time been attracted
by the fair maid of honour, but now it was evident his heart had
found a new object of admiration in her surpassing beauty.
Henceforth he boldly made love to her. The countess was not much
disturbed by this, for she possessed great faith in her own
charms and implicit belief in her power over the king. Besides,
she had sufficient knowledge of mankind to comprehend that to
offer opposition in pursuit of love is the most certain method to
foster its growth. She therefore resolved to seek Miss Stuart's
society, cultivate her friendship, and constantly bring her into
contact with his majesty. This would not only prove to the
satisfaction of the court she had no fear of losing her
sovereignty over the monarch, but, by keeping him engaged with
the maid of honour, would likewise divert his attention from an
intrigue the countess was then carrying on with Henry Jermyn.
Accordingly, she made overtures of friendship to Miss Stuart,
invited her to private parties, and appeared continually with her
in public.

Concerning these ladies and the merry monarch, Pepys narrates a
strange story which Captain Ferrers told him as they "walked
finely" in the park. This was, that at an entertainment given by
my Lady Castlemaine, towards the end of which his majesty played
at being married with fair Frances Stuart, "with ring and all
other ceremonies of Church service, and ribbands, and a sack
posset [A drink composed of milk, wine, and spices.] in bed, and
flinging the stocking. My Lady Castlemaine looked on the while,
evincing neither anger nor jealousy, but entering into the
diversion with great spirit." Nor was this the only indiscretion
of which she was culpable, for, in the full confidence of her
charms, she frequently kept Miss Stuart to stay with her. "The
king," says Hamilton, "who seldom neglected to visit the countess
before she rose, seldom failed likewise to find Miss Stuart with
her. The most indifferent objects have charms in a new
attachment; however, the imprudent countess was not jealous of
this rival's appearing with her, in such a situation, being
confident that, whenever she thought fit, she could triumph over
all the advantages which these opportunities could afford Miss

No doubt Lady Castlemaine's imprudences arose from knowledge that
Miss Stuart was devoid of tact, and incapable of turning
opportunities to her own advantage in the king's regard. For
though the maid of honour was richly endowed with beauty, she was
wholly devoid of wit. She was not only a child in years, but
likewise in behaviour. She laughed at every remark made her,
delighted in playing blind man's buff, and was never more happy
than when building castles of cards. At this latter amusement
she continually employed herself whilst the deepest play was
taking place in her apartments; being always attended by groups
of courtiers, who were either attracted by the charm of her
beauty, or were eager to make court through her favour. As she
sat upon the floor, intent on her favourite occupation, they on
their knees handed her cards, traced out designs for her, or
built elaborate structures rivalling her own.

Amongst those who attended her in this manner was the gay,
graceful, and profligate Duke of Buckingham, who became enamoured
of her loveliness. Not only did he raise the most wonderful of
card mansions for her delight, but having a good voice, and she
possessing a passion for music, he invented songs and sung them
to pleasure her. Moreover, he told her the wittiest stories,
turned the courtiers into the greatest ridicule for her
entertainment, and made her acquainted with the most diverting
scandals. Finally, he professed his ardent love for her; but at
this the fair Stuart either felt, or feigned, intense
astonishment, and so repulsed him that he abandoned the pursuit
of an amour over which he had wasted so much time, and
thenceforth deprived himself of her company.

His attentions were, however, soon replaced by those of the Earl
of Arlington, a lord of the bedchamber, and a man of grave
address and great ambition. Owing to this latter trait his
lordship was desirous of winning the good graces of Miss Stuart
in the present, in hopes of governing his majesty in the future,
when she became the king's mistress. But these sage and
provident intentions of his were speedily overturned, for early
in the course of their acquaintance, when he had commenced to
tell her a story, his manner so forcibly reminded her of
Buckingham's mimicry of him, that she burst out laughing in the
earl's face. This being utterly uncalled for by the
circumstances of his tale, and still less by the manner of its
narration, Lord Arlington, who was serious, punctilious, and
proud, became enraged, abruptly left her presence, and abandoned
his schemes of governing the king through so frivolous a medium.

A man who had better chances of success in winning this beautiful
girl was George Hamilton, whose name has been already mentioned.
It was not, however, his graceful person, or elegant manner, but
his performance of a trick which gained her attention. It
happened one night that an Irish peer, old Lord Carlingford, was
diverting her by showing how she might hold a burning candle in
her mouth a considerable time without its being extinguished.
This was a source of uncommon delight to her; seeing which,
George Hamilton thought he would give her still further
entertainment. For being furnished by nature with a wide mouth,
he placed within it two lighted candles, and walked three times
round the room without extinguishing them, whilst the fair Stuart
clapped her pretty hands in delight, and shouted aloud with

A man who could accomplish such a feat was worthy of becoming a
favourite. She at once admitted him to terms of familiarity; and
he had a hundred chances of paying her the attentions he greatly
desired, and which she freely accepted. Grammont, foreseeing
that Hamilton would incur the royal displeasure if his love for
Miss Stuart became known to the king, besought him to abandon his
addresses; but this advice did not at first sound pleasant to the
lover's ears. "Since the court has been in the country," said
he, "I have had a hundred opportunities of seeing her, which I
had not before. You know that the dishabille of the bath is a
great convenience for those ladies, who, strictly adhering to all
the rules of decorum, are yet desirous to display all their
charms and attractions. Miss Stuart is so fully acquainted with
the advantages she possesses over all other women, that it is
hardly possible to praise any lady at court for a well-turned
arm, and a fine leg but she is ever ready to dispute the point by
demonstration; and I really believe that, with a little address,
it would not be difficult to induce her to strip naked, without
ever reflecting upon what she was doing. After all, a man must
be very insensible to remain unconcerned and unmoved on such
happy occasions."

Hamilton was therefore not willing to renounce Miss Stuart, but
upon Grammont showing that attentions paid the lady would
certainly provoke the king's anger, he resolved on sacrificing
love to interest, and abandoning the company of the fair maid of
honour for evermore. The truth was, his majesty loved her
exceedingly, as was indeed evident, for he constantly sought her
presence, talked to her at the drawing-rooms as if no one else
were by, and kissed her "to the observation of all the world."
But though she allowed Charles such liberties, she refused to
become his mistress, notwithstanding the splendid settlements and
high titles with which the monarch engaged to reward the
sacrifice of her virtue. And so, though a king, it was not given
him to be obeyed in all. And though generally loved for his easy
ways and gracious manners, he was continually harassed by his
mistresses, reproved by his chancellor, and ridiculed by his
courtiers. Indeed, they now spoke of him in his absence as "Old
Rowley;" the reason of which is given by Richardson. "There was
an old goat," writes he, "in the privy garden, that they had
given this name to; a rank lecherous devil, that everybody knew
and used to stroke, because he was good-humoured and familiar;
and so they applied this name to the king."


The Duke of York's intrigues.--My Lady Chesterfield and his royal
highness--The story of Lady Southesk's love.--Lord Arran plays
the guitar.--Lord Chesterfield is jealous.--The countess is taken
from court.--Mistress Margaret Brooke and the king.--Lady Denham
and the duke.--Sir John goes mad.--My lady is poisoned.

The while his majesty devoted himself to pleasure and intrigue,
neglectful of affairs of state, and heedless of public scandal,
his brother of York, whose disposition was not less amorous,
likewise followed the bent of his inclinations. Soon after her
appearance at court he professed himself in love with the
beautiful Elizabeth Hamilton, whom to behold was to admire. But
the duke being a married man, and she a virtuous woman, he dared
not address her on the subject of his affection, and was
therefore obliged to confine the expression of his feelings to
glances. These she refused to interpret; and he, becoming weary
of a pursuit which promised no happy results, turned his
attentions to the Countess of Chesterfield, who seemed in no way
loath to receive them.

This charming woman had married my Lord Chesterfield in
compliance with a family arrangement; and discovered too soon she
had no place in the heart of him whose life she shared. His
coldness to her was only equalled by his ardour for Lady
Castlemaine, whose lover he continued to remain after his
marriage. The affection his wife had offered and he had
repulsed, in the dawn of their wedded life, changed by degrees to
disdain and hatred.

Now as chamberlain to the queen my Lord Chesterfield had,
apartments in the palace, by reason of which the countess became
an habituee of the court. The moral atmosphere of Whitehall was
not calculated to strengthen her conjugal virtue, but its
perpetual gaiety was destined to dissipate her sense of neglect.
It was not possible for a woman endowed with so much beauty, and
possessed of such engaging manners, to be disregarded, in a court
entirely devoted to love and gallantry; and accordingly she soon
became an object of general admiration. This was by no means
pleasing to my Lord Chesterfield, who, though he had wilfully
repulsed her affections, was selfishly opposed to their bestowal
upon others. Accordingly he became watchful of her conduct, and
jealous of her admirers.

Prominent amongst these were James Hamilton and the Duke of York.
The former was her cousin, and her husband's confidant, in
consequence of which my lord failed to associate him with the
suspicion he entertained towards all other men who approached
her: the latter he regarded with the uttermost distrust. His
royal highness had before now disturbed the happy confidence
which husbands had placed in their wives, as my Lord Carnegy
could testify.

The story which hangs thereby had, a little while before the duke
fell in love with Lady Chesterfield, afforded vast amusement to
the court, and was yet fresh in the recollection of many. It
happened that his royal highness became enamoured of my Lady
Carnegy, daughter of the gallant Duke of Hamilton, and friend of
the gay Lady Castlemaine. Lady Carnegy loved pleasure mightily,
painted her face "devilishly," and drove in the park flauntingly.
She was endowed with considerable beauty of form and great
tenderness of heart, as many gallants acknowledged with
gratitude. Now when the Duke of York made advances to her, she
received them with all the satisfaction he could desire; an
intimacy therefore followed, which she was the better able to
entertain on account of her husband's absence in Scotland.
Whilst my Lord Carnegy was in that country, his father, the Earl
of Southesk, died, and he succeeded to the title and estates. In
due time the new earl returned to London and his wife, and was
greeted by rumours of the friendship which in his absence had
sprung up between my lady and the duke. These, as became a good
husband, he refused to believe, until such time as he was enabled
to prove their veracity. Now, though his royal highness did not
cease to honour my lady with his visits on her husband's return,
yet out of respect to decorum, and in order to silence scandalous
tongues, he from that time invariably called on her accompanied
by a friend.

It therefore came to pass that one day he requested an honest,
foolish Irishman, Dick Talbot, afterwards Duke of Tyrconnel, to
attend him in his visit to the lady. He could scarcely have
selected a man more unfitted to the occasion, inasmuch as Talbot
was wholly devoid of tact, and possessed a mind apt to wander at
large at critical moments. He had but recently returned from
Portugal, and was not aware my Lord Carnegy had in the meantime
become Earl of Southesk, nor had he ever met the lady who shared
that title until introduced to her by the duke. When that
ceremony had been duly performed and a few sentences interchanged
between them, Talbot, acting on instructions previously received,
retired into an ante-room and took his post at a window that he
might divert himself by viewing the street, and observing those
who approached the house.

Here he remained for some time, but the study of mankind which
the view admitted did not afford sufficient interest to prevent
him becoming absorbed in his own thoughts, and indifferent to all
objects surrounding him. From this mental condition he was
presently aroused by seeing a carriage draw up to the door, and
its occupant descend and quickly enter the house. Talbot was so
forgetful of his duty that he omitted apprising the duke of this
fact or making any movement until the door of the ante-room
opened, when he turned round to face the intruder. Then he
started forward and cried out, "Welcome, Carnegy!" for it was
no other than he. "Welcome my good fellow! Where the devil have
you been, that I have never been able to set eyes on you since we
were at Brussels! What business brought you here?" he continued
in the same breath; and then added in a tone of banter, "Do you
likewise wish to see Lady Southesk; if this is your intention, my
poor friend, you may go away again; for I must inform you the
Duke of York is in love with her, and I will tell you in
confidence that at this very time he is in her chamber."

My Lord Southesk was overwhelmed with shame and confusion, and
not knowing how to act, immediately returned to his coach, Talbot
attending him to the door as his friend, and advising him to seek
a mistress elsewhere. He then went back to his post, and with
some impatience awaited the Duke's return, that he might tell him
what had happened. And in due time, when he had narrated the
story, he was much surprised that neither his royal highness nor
the countess saw any humour in the fact of Lord Carnegy's
discomfiture. It served, however, to make the duke break off his
connection with the lady, and likewise to amuse the town.

Remembering this incident, my Lord Chesterfield kept a watchful
eye upon the duke, who he observed made advances towards the
countess, which she, in her generosity, had not the heart to
repulse. But, as his royal highness could see her only in
presence of the court, my lord derived some satisfaction from
knowing he was witness to such civilities as had yet passed
between them. The duke was, however, anxious to have a more
particular occasion of conversing with my lady, and in
accomplishing this desire her brother Lord Arran was willing to
aid him.

It happened about this time an Italian, named Francisco Corbeta,
who played with great perfection on the guitar, arrived at court.
His performances excited the wonder and delight of all who heard
him, and the instrument which produced such melody speedily
became fashionable at court, to such an extent, that a universal
strumming was heard by day and by night: throughout the palace
of Whitehall. The Duke of York, being devoted to music, was
amongst those who strove to rival Signor Francisco's performance;
whilst my Lord Arran, by the delicacy of his execution, almost
equalled the great musician. The while Francisco's popularity
increased, his fame reaching its zenith when he composed a
saraband, to learn which became the ambition of all delighting in
the guitar.

Now one day the duke, not thinking himself perfect in this piece,
requested Lord Arran to play it over for him. My lord being a
courteous man, was anxious to oblige his royal highness, and in
order that the saraband might be heard to greatest advantage, was
desirous of performing it upon the best instrument at court,
which it was unhesitatingly acknowledged belonged to my Lady
Chesterfield. Accordingly, Lord Arran led the duke to his
sister's apartments. Here they found not only the guitar and my
lady, but likewise my lord, who was no less astonished than
disturbed by their visit. Then my Lord Arran commenced the
famous saraband, whilst the duke commenced to ogle my lady, and
she to return his glances in kind, as if both were unconscious of
her husband's presence. So delightful did they find the
saraband, that Lord Arran was obliged to repeat it at least
twenty times, to the great mortification of the earl, who could
scarcely contain his violent rage and jealousy. His torture was
presently increased to an immeasurable degree, by a summons he
received from the queen to attend her in his capacity of lord
chamberlain, during an audience she was about, to give the
Muscovite ambassador.

He had from the first suspected the visit, with which he was
honoured, to have been preconcerted by his wife and the duke; and
he now began to think her majesty was likewise connected with a
plot destined to rob him of his peace and blight his honour.
However, he was obliged to obey the queen's summons and depart.
Nor had he been many minutes absent when Lord Arran entered the
presence-chamber where the audience was being held, unaccompanied
by the duke, at which Lord Chesterfield's jealous fears were
strengthened a thousandfold. Before night came he was satisfied
he held sufficient proof of his wife's infidelity.

This conviction caused him intense anxiety and pain; he walked
about his apartments abstracted and brooding on the wrongs from
which he suffered; avoided all who came in his way; and
maintained strict silence as to that which disturbed his peace,
until next day, when he met James Hamilton. To him he confided
an account of the troubles which beset him. After speaking of
the visit paid by his royal highness, and the part enacted by my
Lord Arran, whom he described as "one of the silliest creatures
in England, with his guitar, and his other whims and follies," he
went on to say that when Hamilton had heard him out, he would be
enabled to judge whether the visit ended in perfect innocence or
not. "Lady Chesterfield is amiable, it must be acknowledged,"
said he, "but she is far from being such a miracle of beauty as
she supposes herself: you know she has ugly feet; but perhaps
you are not acquainted that she has still worse legs. They are
short and thick, and to remedy these defects as much as possible,
she seldom wears any other than green stockings. I went
yesterday to Miss Stuart's after the audience of those damned
Muscovites: the king arrived there just before me; and as if the
duke had sworn to pursue me wherever I went that day, he came in
just after me. The conversation turned upon the extraordinary
appearance of the ambassadors. I know not where that fool Crofts
had heard that all these Muscovites had handsome wives; and that
all their wives had handsome legs. Upon this the king
maintained, that no woman ever had such handsome legs as Miss
Stuart; and she to prove the truth of his majesty's assertion,
with the greatest imaginable ease, immediately showed her leg
above the knee. Some were ready to prostrate themselves in order
to adore its beauty, for indeed none can be handsomer; but the
duke alone began to criticize upon it. He contended that it was
too slender, and that as for himself he would give nothing for a
leg that was not thicker and shorter, and concluded by saying
that no leg was worth anything without green stockings; now this
in my opinion was a sufficient demonstration that he had just
seen green stockings, and had them fresh in his remembrance."

At hearing this story, Hamilton, being deeply in love with Lady
Chesterfield, was scarcely less agitated or less jealous than her
lord; but he was obliged to conceal his feelings. Therefore,
assuming the tone of an impartial hearer, he shrugged his
shoulders, declared appearances were often deceitful, and
maintained that even if she had given herself airs to encourage
the duke, there were no grounds to show she had been culpable of
improprieties. My lord expressed himself much obliged to his
friend for the interest he had shown in his troubles, and after
exchanging a few compliments they parted. Hamilton, full of
wrath, returned home, and wrote a letter replete with violent
expostulations and tender reproaches to the woman he loved. This
he delivered to her secretly at the next opportunity. She
received it from him with a smile, which scared all doubts of her
frailty from his mind, and with a pressure of his hand which
awoke the tenderest feelings in his heart.

He was now convinced her husband had allowed jealousy to blind
him, and had magnified his unworthy suspicions to assurances of
guilt. Is this view Hamilton was fully confirmed by a letter he
received from her the following day in answer to his own. "Are
you not," said she, "ashamed to give any credit to the visions of
a jealous fellow, who brought nothing else with him from Italy?
Is it possible that the story of the green stockings, upon which
he has founded his suspicions, should have imposed upon you,
accompanied as it is with such pitiful circumstances? Since he
has made you his confidant, why did not he boast of breaking in
pieces my poor harmless guitar? This exploit, perhaps, might
have convinced you more than all the rest; recollect yourself,
and if you are really in love with me, thank fortune for a
groundless jealousy, which diverts to another quarter the
attention he might pay to my attachment for the most amiable and
the most dangerous man at court."

Anointed by this flattering unction, such wounds as Hamilton had
experienced were quickly healed; alas, only to bleed afresh at
the certain knowledge that this charming woman had been making
him her dupe! For soon after, in a moment of indiscretion, and
whilst the whole court, including her majesty, was assembled in
the card-room, my lady there permitted the duke a liberty which
confirmed her husband in his suspicions of their intimacy.
Hamilton at hearing this was wild with fury, and advised Lord
Chesterfield to carry her away from the allurements of the court,
and seclude her in one of his country mansions. This was an
advice to which the earl listened with complaisance, and carried
out with despatch, to her intense mortification.

The whole court was amused by the story, but dismayed at the
punishment my lord inflicted upon his lady. Anthony Hamilton
declares that in England "they looked with astonishment upon a
man who could be so uncivil as to be jealous of his wife; and in
the city of London it was a prodigy, till that time unknown, to
see a husband have recourse to violent means to prevent what
jealousy fears, and what it always deserves." He adds, they
endeavoured to excuse my lord by laying all the blame on his bad
education, which made "all the mothers vow to God that none of
their sons should ever set a foot in Italy, lest they should
bring back with them that infamous custom of laying restraint
upon their wives."

By the departure of Lady Chesterfield the court lost one of its
most brilliant ornaments forever, for the unhappy countess never
again returned to the gay scene of her adventures. For three
long years she endured banishment at Bretby in Derbyshire, and
then died, it was believed, from the effects of poison. For my
lord, never having his suspicions of her intrigue cleared,
insisted on her taking the sacrament by way of pledging her
innocence; on which occasion he, in league with his chaplain,
mixed poison in the sacred wine, as result of which she died.
This shocking story gained credence not only with the public, but
with members of his own family; inasmuch as his daughter-in-law,
Lady Gertrude Stanhope, after she had quarrelled with him, would,
when she sat at his table, drink only of such wine and water as a
trusty servant of hers procured.

This intrigue of the duke had given much uneasiness to his
duchess, who had complained to the king and to her father, and
had, moreover, set a watch upon the movements of his royal
highness. But such measures did not avail to make him a faithful
husband, and no sooner was Lady Chesterfield removed from his
sight, than Lady Denham took her place in his affections. This
latter mentioned gentlewoman was daughter of a valiant baronet,
Sir William Brooke, and niece to a worthless peer, the Earl of
Bristol. The earl had, on the king's restoration, cherished
ambitious schemes to obtain the merry monarch's favour; for which
purpose he sought to commend himself by ministering to the royal

Accordingly he entertained the king as became a loyal gentleman,
giving him luxurious banquets and agreeable suppers, to which, by
way of adding to his majesty's greater satisfaction, the noble
host invited his nieces, Mistress Brooke and her sister. The
wily earl had, indeed, conceived a plan the better to forward his
interests with the king, and was desirous one of these
gentlewomen should subdue his majesty's heart, and become his
mistress. Margaret Brooke, the elder of the maidens, was at this
time in her eighteenth year, and was in the full flower of such
loveliness as was presented by a fair complexion, light brown
hair, and dark grey eyes. The merry monarch's susceptible heart
was soon won by her beauty; the charming lady's amorous
disposition was speedily conquered by his gallantry, and nothing
prevented her becoming his mistress save Lady Castlemaine's

This, however, proved an insurmountable obstacle; for the
countess, hearing rumours of the pleasures which were enjoyed at
my Lord Bristol's table, insisted on attending the king thither,
and soon gave his gracious majesty an intimation he dared not
disregard--that she would not suffer Miss Brooke as a rival.
Margaret Brooke was grievously disappointed; but the Duke of York
beginning his attentions at the point where his majesty
discontinued them, she was soon consoled for loss of the
monarch's affection by the ardour of his brother's love. But a
short time after, probably foreseeing the ambiguous position in
which she stood, she forsook her lover, and accepted a husband in
the person of Sir John Denham.

This worthy knight was a man of parts; inasmuch as he was a
soldier, a poet, and a gamester. At the time of his marriage he
had passed his fiftieth year; moreover, he limped painfully and
carried a crutch. His appearance, indeed, was far from imposing.
According to Aubrey, he was tall, had long legs, and was
"incurvelting at his shoulders; his hair was but thin and flaxen,
with a moist curl; his gait slow and rather astalking; his eye
was a kind of light goose-grey, not big, but it had a strange
piercingness, not as to shining and glory, but when he conversed
he looked into your very thoughts." His personal defects,
however, were to a great degree compensated for by his great
wealth. Moreover he was surveyor-general of his majesty's works,
had a town house in Scotland Yard, and a country residence at
Waltham Cross in Essex. But there are some deficiencies for
which wealth does not atone, as no doubt Lady Denham promptly
discovered; for, before a year of her married life had passed,
she renewed her intrigue with the Duke of York. His love for her
seemed to have increased a thousandfold since fate had given her
to the possession of another. At royal drawing-rooms he took
her aside and talked to her "in the sight of all the world," and
whenever she moved away from him he followed her like a dog.

Indeed, he made no effort to screen his passion, for not only did
he make love to her in presence of the court, but he visited her
at noonday, attended by his gentlemen, before all the town. Nor
did Lady Denham desire to conceal the honour with which, she
considered, this amour covered her, but openly declared she would
"not be his mistress, as Mrs. Price, to go up and down the privy
stairs, but will be owned publicly;" and in this respect she
obtained her desire. Meanwhile Sir John was rendered miserable;
and, indeed, his desperation soon overthrew his reason, and
rendered him a lunatic. This affection first appeared during a
journey he made to the famous free-stone quarries near Portland
in Dorset. When he came within a mile of his destination, he
suddenly turned back, and proceeded to Hounslow, where he
demanded rents for lands he had disposed of years before; and
then hastening to town sought out the king and informed him he
was the Holy Ghost.

This madness lasted but a short time; and the first use he made
of his recovered senses was to plot vengeance on his wife. Now
there was one honour which she coveted above all others, that of
being appointed a lady of the bedchamber to the Duchess of York.
This her royal lover, following the example of his majesty,
sought to obtain for her; but the duchess, who had already
suffered many indignities by reason of her husband's
improprieties, refused him this request, which would render her
liable to continual insult in her own court. The duke, however,
had a strong will, and the duchess was on the point of yielding
to his demand, when rumour announced that Lady Denham had been
taken suddenly ill, and scandal declared she had been poisoned.
The wildest sensation followed. His royal highness, stricken
with remorse and terror, hastened to Scotland Yard and sought his
beloved mistress, who told him she believed herself poisoned, and
felt she was now dying. The most eminent physicians were
speedily summoned, but their skill proved of no avail, for she
gradually became worse, and finally died, leaving instructions
that her body should be opened after death, in order that search
might be made for the fatal drug.

The surgeons followed these directions, as we learn from the
Orrery state papers, but no trace of poison was discovered. For
all that the public had no doubt her husband had destroyed her
life, and Hamilton tells us the populace "had a design of tearing
Sir John in pieces as soon as he should come abroad; but he shut
himself up to bewail her death, until their fury was appeased by
a magnificent funeral, at which he distributed four times more
burnt wine than had ever been drunk at any burial in England."

As for the duke, he was sorely troubled for her loss, and
declared he should never have a public mistress again.


Court life under the merry monarch.--Riding in Hyde Park.
--Sailing on the Thames.--Ball at Whitehall.--Petit soupers.
--What happened at Lady Gerrard's.--Lady Castlemaine quarrels
with the king.--Flight to Richmond.--The queen falls ill.--The
king's grief and remorse.--Her majesty speaks.--Her secret sorrow
finds voice in delirium.--Frances Stuart has hopes.--The queen

Views of court life during the first years of the merry monarch's
reign, obtainable from works of his contemporaries, present a
series of brilliant, changeful, and interesting pictures. Scarce
a day passed that their majesties, attended by a goodly throng of
courtiers, went not abroad, to the vast delight of the town: and
rarely a night sped by unmarked by some magnificent
entertainment, to the great satisfaction of the court. At noon
it was a custom of the king and queen, surrounded by maids of
honour and gentlemen in waiting, the whole forming a gladsome and
gallant crowd, to ride in coaches or on horseback in Hyde Park:
which place has been described as "a field near the town, used by
the king and nobility for the freshness of the air, and goodly

Here in a railed-off circle, known as the ring, and situated in
the northern half of the park, the whole world of fashion and
beauty diverted itself. Noble gallants wearing broad-brimmed
hats and waving plumes, doublets of velvet, and ruffles of rich
lace; and fair women with flowing locks and dainty patches,
attired in satin gowns, and cloaks wrought with embroidery, drove
round and round, exchanging salutations and smiles as they
passed. Here it was good Mr. Pepys saw the Countess of
Castlemaine, among many fine ladies, lying "impudently upon her
back in her coach asleep, with her mouth wide open." And on
another occasion the same ingenious gentleman observed the king
and my lady pass and repass in their respective coaches, they
greeting one another at every turn.

But Mr. Pepys gives us another picture, in which he shows us the
king riding right gallantly beside his queen, and therefore
presents him to better advantage. This excellent gossip,
sauntering down Pall Mall one bright summer day, it being the
middle of July, in the year 1663, met the queen mother walking
there, led by her supposed husband, the Earl of St. Albans. And,
hearing the king and queen rode abroad with the ladies of honour
to the park, and seeing a great crowd of gallants awaiting their
return, he also stayed, walking up and down the while. "By-and-
by," says he, "the king and queene, who looked in this dress (a
white laced waistcoate and a crimson short pettycoate, and her
hair dressed A LA NEGLIGENCE) mighty pretty; and the king rode
hand in hand with her. Here was also my Lady Castlemaine riding
amongst the rest of the ladies; but the king took, methought, no
notice of her; nor when they light did anybody press (as she
seemed to expect, and staid for it) to take her down, but was
taken down by her own gentlemen. She looked mighty out of
humour, and had a yellow plume in her hat (which all took notice
of), and yet is very handsome. I followed them up into
Whitehall, and into the queene's presence, where all the ladies
walked, talking and fiddling with their hats and feathers, and
changing and trying one another's by one another's heads, and
laughing. But it was the finest sight to me, considering their
great beautys and dress, that ever I did see in my life. But,
above all, Mrs. Stuart in this dresse with her hat cocked and a
red plume, with her sweet eye, little Roman nose, and excellent
taille, is now the greatest beauty I ever saw, I think, in my
life; and, if ever woman can, do exceed my Lady Castlemaine, at
least in this dresse: nor do I wonder if the king changes, which
I verily believe is the reason of his coldness to my Lady

Having returned from the park, dined at noon, walked in the
palace gardens, or played cards till evening came, their
majesties, surrounded by a brilliant and joyous court, would in
summer time descend the broad steps leading from Whitehall to the
Thames, and embark upon the water for greater diversion. Never
was there so goodly a sight, seldom so merry a company. The
barges in which they sailed were draped to the water's edge with
bright fabrics, hung with curtains of rich silk, and further
adorned with gay pennants. And, as the long procession of boats,
filled with fair women and gallant men, followed their majesties
adown the placid Thames towards pleasant Richmond, my Lord Arran
would delight the ears of all by his performance on the guitar;
the fair Stuart would sing French songs in her sweet childlike
voice; or a concert of music would suddenly resound from the
banks, being placed there to surprise by some ingenious courtier.

And presently landing on grassy meads, delightful to sight by
freshness of their colour, and sweet to scent from odour of their
herbs, the court would sup right heartily; laugh, drink, and make
love most merrily, until early shadows stole across the summer
sky, and night-dews fell upon the thirsty earth. Then king,
queen, and courtiers once more embarking, would sail slowly back,
whilst the moon rose betimes in the heavens, and the barges
streaked the waters with silver lines.

At other times magnificent entertainments filled the nights with
light and revelry. Pepys tells us of a great ball he witnessed
in the last month of the year 1662 at the palace of Whitehall.
He was carried thither by Mr. Povy, a member of the Tangier
Commission, and taken at first to the Duke of York's chambers,
where his royal highness and the duchess were at supper; and from
thence "into a room where the ball was to be, crammed with fine
ladies, the greatest of the court. By-and-by comes the king and
queene, the duke and duchess, and all the great ones; and, after
seating themselves, the king takes out the Duchess of York; and
the duke the Duchess of Buckingham; the Duke of Monmouth my Lady
Castlemaine; and so other lords other ladies; and they danced the
bransle. After that, the king led a lady a single coranto; and
then the rest of the lords, one after another, other ladies:
very noble it was, and great pleasure to see. Then to country
dances: the king leading the first. Of the ladies that danced,
the Duke of Monmouth's lady, and my Lady Castlemaine, and a
daughter of Sir Harry de Vicke's were the best. The manner was,
when the king dances, all the ladies in the room, and his queene
herself, stand up: and indeed he dances rarely, and much better
than the Duke of York."

PETIT SOUPERS were another form of entertainments, greatly
enjoyed by Charles, and accordingly much in vogue with his
courtiers. The Chevalier de Grammont had principally helped to
make them fashionable, his suppers being served With the greatest
elegance, attended by the choicest wits, and occasionally
favoured with the presence of majesty itself. Nor were Lady
Gerrard's PETIT SOUPERS less brilliant, or her company less
distinguished. Her ladyship boasted of French parentage and
understood the art of pleasing to perfection; and accordingly at
her board wine flowed, wit sparkled, and love obtained in the
happiest manner. Now it happened one of her delightful
entertainments was destined to gain a notoriety she by no means
coveted, and concerning which the French ambassador, Count de
Comminges, wrote pleasantly enough to the Marquis de Lionne.

It came to pass that Lady Gerrard, who loved the queen, requested
the honour of their majesties to sup with her. She, moreover,
invited some of the courtiers, amongst whom she did not include
my Lady Castlemaine. On the appointed night the king and queen
duly arrived; the other guests had already assembled; and the
hour gave fair promise of entertainment. But presently, when
supper was announced, his majesty was missing, and on inquiry it
was discovered he had left the house for Lady Castlemaine's
lodgings, where he spent the evening. Such an insult as this so
openly dealt the queen, and such an indignity put upon the
hostess, caused the greatest agitation to all present; and
subsequently afforded subject for scandalous gossip to the town.
It moreover showed that the monarch was yet an abject slave of
his mistress, whose charms entangled him irresistibly. At least
four times a week he supped with her, returning at early morning
from her lodgings, in a stealthy way, through the privy gardens,
a proceeding of which the sentries took much notice, joked
unbecomingly, and gossiped freely.

Now in order to avoid further observation at such times, and
silence rumours which consequently obtained, his majesty removed
the countess from her lodgings in that part of the palace divided
by the road leading to Westminster from the chief block, and
furnished her with apartments next his own chamber. The poor
queen, who had sought by every means in her power to win his
affection, was sorely grieved at this action, and moreover
depressed by the neglect to which she was continually subjected.
Sometimes four months were allowed to pass without his deigning
to sup with her, though the whole court was aware he constantly
paid that honour to her infamous rival. But knowing how
unavailing reproach would be, she held her peace; and feeling
how obtrusive her sorrow would seem, she hid her tears. Now and
again, however, a look would flash in her eyes, and an answer
rise to her lips, which showed how deeply she felt her bitter
wrongs. "I wonder your majesty has the patience to sit so long
adressing," said my Lady Castlemaine to her one morning when she
found her yet in the dresser's hands. "I have so much reason to
use patience," answered the neglected wife, "that I can very well
bear with it."

And so the countess continued to reign paramount in his majesty's
favour until the middle of July, 1663, when a rumour spread
through the town that she had quarrelled with the king, and had
consequently fallen from her high estate. The cause of
disagreement between the monarch and his mistress is narrated by
the French ambassador in a letter to Louis XIV.

By this time the fair Stuart had so increased in his majesty's
favour, that my Lady Castlemaine began to see the indiscretion of
which she had been guilty in bringing her so constantly into his
presence, and moreover to fear her influence over his fickle
heart. Accordingly she refused to invite the maid of honour to
her apartments, or entertain her at her assemblies. At this the
king became exceedingly wrathful, and told my lady he would not
enter her rooms again unless Miss Stuart was there. Thereon the
charming countess flew into a violent passion, roundly abused his
majesty, called her carriage, and protesting she would never
again enter the palace of Whitehall, drove off in a rage to the
residence of her uncle at Richmond. The monarch had not expected
his words would cause such fury, nor did he desire her departure;
and no sooner had she gone than he began to regret her absence
and long for her return.

Therefore next morning he made pretence of hunting, and turning
his horse's head in the direction of Richmond, called on his
mistress, when he apologized to and made friends with her. She
therefore returned and exercised her old ascendancy over him once
more. It is probable his majesty was the more anxious to pacify
her, from the fact that she was now far advanced in her third
pregnancy; for two months later she gave birth to her second son,
who was baptized Henry Fitzroy, and subsequently created Duke of

And it happened about this time, that the queen, falling ill,
drew near unto death. On Friday, the 14th October, 1663, a fever
took possession of her, when the doctors were summoned, her head
shaven, and pigeons put to her feet. Her illness, however,
rapidly increased, and believing she was about to leave a world
in which her young life had known so much sorrow, she made her
will, put her affairs in order, and received extreme unction.
Upon this the king, mindful of grievous injuries he had done
her, was sorely troubled in his heart, and going to her chamber,
flung himself at the foot of her bed and burst into tears; as the
French ambassador narrates.

It is said women love best men who treat them worst. If this be
so, God, alone who made them knows wherefore; for it is given no
man to understand them in all. Now her majesty proved no
exception to this rule regarding the unreasonableness of her sex
in placing their affections most on those who regard them least;
for she was devoted to the king. Therefore the evidence of his
grief at prospect of her loss touched her deeper than all words
can say, and with much sweetness she sought to soothe and console

She told him she had no desire to live, and no sorrow to die,
save, indeed, that caused by parting from him. She hoped he
would soon wed a consort more worthy of his love than she had
been; one who would contribute more to his happiness and the
satisfaction of the nation than she had. And now they were about
to part, she had two requests to make: that he would never
separate his interests from those of the king her brother, or
cease to protect her distressed nation; and that her body might
be sent back to Portugal and laid in the tomb of her ancestors.
At this the king, yet on his knees beside her, interrupted her
only by his sobs, hearing which she wept likewise; and so
overcome was he by grief that he was obliged to be led from her

The court was saddened by her majesty's illness, for she had won
the goodwill of all by the kindness of her disposition and
gentleness of her manner; the city was likewise afflicted, for
the people thought so good a queen could not fail in time to
reclaim even so erratic a husband; and trade became suddenly
depressed. Crowds gathered by night and by day outside the
palace to learn the most recent change in her majesty's condition
many thinking her death inevitable, because the doctors had
pronounced her recovery impossible. And for days her soul
hovered betwixt two worlds.

On the night of the 19th, a fierce storm raged over England; and
Mr. Pepys, being waked by the roaring of mighty winds, turned to
his wife and said: "I pray God I hear not of the death of any
great person, this wind is so high." And fearing the queen might
have departed, he rose betimes, and took coach to the palace that
he might make inquiries concerning her, but found her majesty was
still living. She was now, however, unconscious; and gave free
voice to the secret sorrow which underlay her life, because she
had not borne children to the king. Had she given him heirs, she
felt assured he would certainly love her as well as he loved his
mistresses; and would feel as proud of her offspring as of those
borne him by other women. But though she had proved capable of
becoming a mother on more than one occasion, it pleased heaven to
leave her childless, to her great grief. Therefore in her
delirium, desires shaped themselves to realities, and she
believed she had given birth to three children, two boys and a
girl. The latter she fancied much resembled the king, but she
was troubled that one of the boys was plain featured. And seeing
her grief at this, his majesty, who stood by, sought in pity to
console her, saying the boy was indeed pretty; at which she
brightened visibly, and answering him said: "Nay, if it be like
you, it is a fine boy indeed, and I would be very well pleased
with it." This delusion continued through her illness, and so
strongly did it force itself upon her mind, that one morning when
she was on her way to recovery, on waking suddenly and seeing the
doctor bending over her, she exclaimed, "How do the children?"

Now all this time, whilst the shadow of death lay upon the
palace, and laughter and music were no longer heard within its
walls, there was one of its inmates who pondered much upon the
great fortune which the future might have in keeping for her.
This was fair Frances Stuart, who, not having yielded to the
king's request by becoming his mistress, now entertained high
hopes of being made his wife. In this dream she was, moreover,
flattered by an unusual deference and high respect paid her by
the court since the beginning of her majesty's illness. The king
continued his attentions to her; for though he had proved himself
"fondly disconsolate" and wept sorely for her majesty, he never
during her sickness omitted an opportunity of conversing with
Miss Stuart, or neglected supping with Lady Castlemaine. But the
hopes entertained by the maid of honour were speedily overthrown,
for contrary to all expectation the queen recovered, and was so
well on the 10th November as to "bespeak herself a new gowne"

And so the court remained unchanged, and life went on as before;
the queen growing gradually stronger, the king making love to
Miss Stuart by day, and visiting Lady Castlemaine by night. And
it happened one evening when he went to sup with the latter there
was a chine of beef to roast, and no fire to cook it because the
Thames had flooded the kitchen. Hearing which, the countess
called out to the cook, "Zounds, you must set the house on fire
but it shall he roasted!" And roasted it was.


Notorious courtiers.--My Lord Rochester's satires.--Places a
watch on certain ladies of quality.--His majesty becomes
indignant.--Rochester retires to the country.--Dons a disguise
and returns to town.--Practises astrology.--Two maids of honour
seek adventure.--Mishaps which befell them.--Rochester forgiven.
--The Duke of Buckingham.--Lady Shrewsbury and her victims.--
Captain Howard's duel.--Lord Shrewsbury avenges his honour.--A
strange story.--Colonel Blood attempts an abduction.--Endeavours
to steal the regalia.--The king converses with him.

Prominent among the courtiers, and foremost amid the friends of
his majesty, were two noblemen distinguished alike for their
physical grace, exceeding wit, and notable eccentricity. These
were the Earl of Rochester, and his Grace of Buckingham; gallants
both, whose respective careers were so intimately connected with
the court as to make further chronicle of them necessary in these

My Lord Rochester, though younger in years than the duke, was
superior to him in wit, comeliness, and attraction. Nor was
there a more conspicuous figure observable in the palace of
Whitehall than this same earl, who was ever foremost in pursuit
of such pleasures as wine begets and love appeases. His mirth
was the most buoyant, his conversation the most agreeable, his
manner the most engaging in the world; whence he became "the
delight and wonder of men, the love and dotage of women." A
courtier possessed of so happy a disposition, and endowed with
such brilliant talents, could not fail in pleasing the king; who
vastly enjoyed his society, but was occasionally obliged to
banish his person from court, when his eccentric conduct rendered
him intolerable, or his bitter satire aimed at royalty. For it
was given no other man in his age to blend merry wit and caustic
ridicule so happily together; therefore those who read his lines
were forced to laugh at his fancy, even whilst hurt by his irony.

Now in order to keep this talent in constant practice, he was
wont to celebrate in inimitable verse such events, be they
private or public, as happened at court, or befell the courtiers;
and inasmuch as his subjects were frequently of a licentious
nature, his lines were generally of a scandalous character. He
therefore became the public censor of court folly; and so
unerringly did his barbed shafts hit the weaknesses at which they
aimed, that his productions were equally the terror of those he
victimized, and the delight of those he spared.

This liberal use of satire he was wont to excuse on the plea
there were some who could not be kept in order, or admonished, by
other means. Therefore, having the virtue of his friends keenly
at heart, an ingenious plan occurred to him by which he might
secretly discover their vices, and publicly reprove them. In
order that he might fulfil this purpose to his greater
satisfaction, he promptly sought and found a footman, who, by
virtue of his employment, was well acquainted with the courtiers.
This man the "noble and beautiful earl" furnished with a red coat
and a musket, that he might pass as a sentinel, and then placed
him every night throughout one winter at the doors of certain
ladies of quality whom he suspected of carrying on intrigues.

In this disguise the footman readily passed as a soldier
stationed at his post by command of his officer, and was thus
enabled to note what gentlemen called on the suspected ladies at
unreasonable but not unfashionable hours. Accordingly, my lord
made many surprising discoveries, and when he had gained
sufficient information on such delicate points, he quietly
retired into the country, that he might with greater ease devote
himself to the composition of those lively verses which he
subsequently circulated through the court, to the wonder and
dismay of many, and the delight and profit of few.

To these lampoons no name was attached, and my lord took
precautions that their authorship should not be satisfactorily
proved, no matter how sagely suspected. Moreover, in his
conversation he was judicious enough to keep the weapon of his
satire in reserve; sheathing its fatal keenness in a bewitching
softness of civility until occasion required its use; when forth
it flashed all the brighter for its covering, all the sharper for
its rest. And satire being absent from his speech, humour ever
waited on his words; and never was he more extravagantly gay than
when assisting at the pleasant suppers given by the merry monarch
to his choicest friends.

Here, whilst drinking deep of ruddy wine from goblets of old
gold, he narrated his strange experiences, and illustrated them
with flashes of his wit. for it was the habit of this eccentric
earl, when refinements of the court began to pall upon him, or
his absence from Whitehall became a necessity, to seek fresh
adventure and intrigue disguised as a porter, a beggar, or a
ballad-monger. And so carefully did he hide his identity in the
character he assumed, that his most intimate friends failed to
recognise his personality.

No doubt the follies in which he indulged were in some measure
due to the eccentricity ever attendant upon genius; but they were
probably likewise occasioned by craving for excitement begotten
of drink. For my lord loved wine exceedingly; and when he drew
near unto death in the dawn of his manhood, confessed to Bishop
Burnet that for five years he was continually drunk: "Not that
he was all the while under the visible effects of it, but his
blood was so inflamed, that he was not in all that time cool
enough to be perfectly master of himself." Charles delighted in
the society of this gay courtier, because of his erratic
adventures, and his love of wine. Moreover, the licentious
verses which it was the earl's good pleasure to compose, the
names of some of which no decent lips would whisper in this age
of happy innocence, afforded the monarch extravagant enjoyment.
Withal his majesty's satisfaction in Lord Rochester's wit was not
always to be counted upon, as it proved. For it came to pass one
night at the close of a royal supper, during which the earl had
drunk deep, that with great goodwill to afford the king
diversion, he handed his majesty what he believed was a satire on
a courtier, more remarkable for its humour than its decency.
Whereon Charles, with anticipation of much delight, opened the
folded page, when he was surprised to see, not a copy of verses,
but an unflattering description of himself, which ran as follows:

"Here lies our mutton-eating king,
Whose word no man relies on;
Who never said a foolish thing,
And never did a wise one."

Now the king, though the best tempered of men and most lenient of
masters, was naturally wrathful at this verbal character: the
more so because recognising its faithfulness at a glance. He
therefore upbraided Rochester with ingratitude, and banished him
from the court.

Nothing dismayed, my lord retired into the country; but in a
short time, growing weary of pastoral solitude which gave him an
appetite for adventure it could not wholly supply, he returned
privately to town, and assuming a disguise, took up his residence
in the city. Here exercising his characteristic tact, and great
capacity for pleasing, he speedily made friends with wealthy
merchants and worthy aldermen, who subsequently invited him to
their hospitable tables, and introduced him to their gracious

And as his conversation had not failed to delight the husbands,
neither were his charms unsuccessful in affording satisfaction to
their wives. To the one he railed against the impotence of the
king's ministers, to the other he declaimed upon the wickedness
of his majesty's mistresses; and to both his denunciations were
equally sincere and acceptable. But his bitterest words were
reserved for such courtiers as Rochester, Buckingham, and
Killigrew, whose dissipated lives were the scandal of all honest
men, the terror of all virtuous women: insolent fellows,
moreover, who had the impudence to boast that city ladies were
not so faithful to their husbands as was generally supposed, and,
moreover, the boldness to assert that they painted. Indeed, he
marvelled much, that since such men were frequenters of
Whitehall, sacred fire from heaven had not long since descended
and consumed the royal palace to ashes. Such virtuous sentiments
as these, expressed by so gallant a man, made him acceptable in
many homes: and the result was he speedily became surfeited by
banquets, suppers, and other hospitalities, to which the
excellent but credulous citizens bade him heartily welcome.

He therefore disappeared from their midst one day as suddenly and
unaccountably as he had come amongst them. He did not, however,
take himself afar, but donning a new disguise, retreated to a
more distant part of the city: for an idea had occurred to him
which he determined speedily to put in practice. This was to
assume the character and bearing of a sage astrologer and learned
physician, at once capable of reading the past, and laying bare
the future of all who consulted him; also of healing diseases of
and preventing mishaps to such as visited him. Accordingly,
having taken lodgings in Tower Street, at a goldsmith's house,
situated next the Black Swan, he prepared himself for practice,
adopted the title of doctor, the name of Alexander Bendo, and
issued bills headed by the royal arms, containing the most
remarkable and impudent manifesto perhaps ever set forth by any

Copies of this may yet be seen in early editions of his works.
It was addressed to all gentlemen, ladies, and others, whether of
the city, town, or country, to whom Alexander Bendo wished health
and prosperity. He had come amongst them because the great
metropolis of England had ever been infested by numerous quacks,
whose arrogant confidence, backed by their ignorance, had enabled
them to impose on the public; either by premeditated cheats in
physic, chymical and galenic, in astrology, physiognomy,
palmistry, mathematics, alchymy, and even government itself. Of
which latter he did not propose to discourse, or meddle with,
since it in no way belonged to his trade or vocation, which he
thanked God he found much more safe, equally honest, and more
profitable. But he, Alexander Bendo, had with unswerving
faithfulness and untiring assiduity for years courted the arts
and sciences, and had learned dark secrets and received signal
favours from them. He was therefore prepared to take part
against unlearned wretches, and arrant quacks, whose impudent
addresses and saucy pretences had brought scandal upon sage and
learned men.

However, in a wicked world like this, where virtue was so exactly
counterfeited, and hypocrisy was generally successful, it would
be hard for him, a stranger, to escape censure. But indeed he
would submit to be considered a mountebank if he were discovered
to be one. Having made which statement, he proceeded to draw an
ingenious comparison between a mountebank and a politician,
suitable to all ages and dimes, but especially to this century
and country. Both, he intimated, are fain to supply the lack of
higher abilities to which they pretend, with craft; and attract
attention by undertaking strange things which can never be
performed. By both the people are pleased and deluded; the
expectation of good in the future drawing their eyes from the
certainty of evil in the present.

The sage Alexander Bendo then discoursed of miraculous cures
which he could effect, but he would set down no word in his bill
which bore an unclean sound. It was enough that he made himself
understood, but indeed he had seen physicians' bills containing
things of which no man who walked warily before God could
approve. Concerning astrological predictions, physiognomy,
divination by dreams, and otherwise, he would say, if it did not
look like ostentation, he had seldom failed, but had often been
of service; and to those who came to him he would guarantee
satisfaction. Nor would he be ashamed to avow his willingness to
practise rare secrets, for the help, conservation, and
augmentation of beauty and comeliness; an endowment granted for
the better establishment of mutual love between man and woman,
and as such highly valuable to both. The knowledge of secrets
like this he had gathered during journeys through France and
Italy, in which countries he had spent his life since he was
fifteen years old. Those who had travelled in the latter country
knew what a miracle art there performs in behalf of beauty; how
women of forty bear the same countenance as those of fifteen,
ages being in no way distinguished by appearances; whereas in
England, by looking at a horse in the mouth and a woman in the
face, it was possible to tell the number of their years. He
could, therefore, give such remedies as would render those who
came to him perfectly fair; clearing and preserving them from all
spots, freckles, pimples, marks of small-pox, or traces of
accidents. He would, moreover, cure the teeth, clear the breath,
take away fatness, and add flesh.

A man who vouched to perform such wonders was not long without
patients. At first these were drawn from his immediate
neighbourhood, but soon his fame reached the heart of the city.
Accordingly, many ladies of whose hospitality he had partaken,
and of whose secrets he had become possessed, hurried to consult
him; and the marvellous insight he betrayed regarding their past,
and strange predictions he pronounced concerning their future,
filled them with amazement, and occasionally with alarm. And
they, proclaiming the marvels of his wisdom, widened the circle
of his reputation, until his name was spoken within the precincts
of Whitehall.

Curiosity concerning so remarkable a man at once beset the minds
of certain ladies at court, who either feared or expected much
from the future, and were anxious to peer into such secrets as it
held concerning themselves. But dreading the notoriety their
presence would naturally cause in the vicinity of Tower Street, a
spot to them unknown, they, acting with a prudence not invariably
characteristic of their conduct, sent their maids to ascertain
from personal experience if the astrologer's wisdom was in truth
as marvellous as reported. Now, when these appeared in fear and
trembling before the great Alexander Bendo, the knowledge he
revealed concerning themselves, and their mistresses likewise,
was so wonderful that it exceeded all expectation. Accordingly,
the maids returned to court with such testimonies concerning the
lore of this star-reader, as fired afresh their mistresses'
desires to see and converse with him in their proper persons.

It therefore came to pass that Miss Price and Miss Jennings,
maids of honour both--the one to the queen, the other to the
Duchess of York--boldly resolved to visit Doctor Bendo, and learn
what the future held for them. Miss Price was a lady who
delighted in adventure; Miss Jennings was a gentlewoman of
spirit; both looked forward to their visit with excitement and
interest. It happened one night, when the court had gone to the
playhouse, these ladies, who had excused themselves from
attending the queen and the duchess, dressed as orange girls, and
taking baskets of fruit under their arms, quickly crossed the
park, and entered a hackney-coach at Whitehall Gate. Bidding the
driver convey them to Tower Street, they rattled merrily enough
over the uneven streets until they came close to the theatre,
when, being in high spirits and feeling anxious to test the value
of their disguise, they resolved to alight from their conveyance,
enter the playhouse, and offer their wares for sale in presence
of the court.

Accordingly, paying the driver, they descended from the coach,
and running between the lines of chairs gathered round the
theatre, gained the door. Now, who should arrive at that moment
but the beau Sidney, attired in the bravery of waving feathers,
fluttering ribbons, and rich-hued velvets. And as he paused to
adjust his curls to his greater satisfaction before entering the
playhouse, Miss Price went boldly forward and asked him to buy
her fine oranges; but so engaged was he in his occupation, that
he did not deign to make reply, but passed into the theatre
without turning his glance upon her. Miss Jennings, however,
fared somewhat differently; and with less satisfaction to
herself; for, perceiving another courtier, none other than Tom
Killigrew, a rare wit and lover of pleasure, she went up to him
and offered her fruit for sale. These he declined to buy; but
chucking her under the chin, and glancing at her with an air of
familiarity, invited her to bring her oranges to his lodgings
next morning. On this Miss Jennings, who was as virtuous as
lovely, pushed him away with violence, and forgetting the
character she assumed, commenced rebuking his insolence, much to
the amusement and surprise of the bystanders. Fearing detection
of their identity, Miss Price pulled her forcibly away from the

Miss Jennings was after this incident anxious to forego her visit
to the astrologer, and return to Whitehall, but her companion
declaring this would be a shameful want of spirit, they once more
entered a hackney-coach, and requested they might be driven to
the lodgings of the learned Doctor Bendo. Their adventures for
the evening were unfortunately not yet at an end; for just as
they entered Tower Street they saw Henry Brinker, one of the
gentlemen of the bedchamber to the Duke of York. Now it happened
this courtier had been dining with a citizen of worth and wealth,
whose house he was about to leave the moment the maids of honour
drove by. They, knowing him to be a man remarkable for his
gallantries, were anxious to avoid his observation, and therefore
directed the driver to proceed a few doors beyond their
destination; but he, having caught sight of two pretty orange
wenches, followed the coach and promptly stepping up as they
alighted, made some bold observations to them. On this both
turned away their heads that they might avoid his gaze, a
proceeding which caused him to observe them with closer scrutiny,
when he immediately recognised them, without however intimating
his knowledge. He therefore fell to teasing them, and finally
left them with no very pleasant remarks ringing in their ears,
concerning the virtue which obtained among maids of honour, for
he did not doubt their disguise was assumed for purposes of

Overwhelmed with confusion, they walked towards the goldsmith's
shop, over which the oracle delivered wisdom; but being no longer
in a humour to heed his words, they presently resolved on driving
back to Whitehall with all possible speed. But alas! on turning
round they beheld their driver waging war with a crowd which had
gathered about his vehicle; for having left their oranges in the
coach, some boys had essayed to help themselves, whereon the man
fell foul of them. But he, being one against many, was like to
fare badly at their hands; seeing which, the maids of honour
persuaded him to let the crowd take the fruit and drive them back
at once. This conduct had not the effect of appeasing those who
profited by its generosity; for the gentlewomen were greeted with
most foul abuse, and many unworthy charges were laid to their
account in language more vigorous than polished. And having at
last arrived in safety at Whitehall, they resolved never to sally
forth in search of adventure again.

After various strange experiences in his character as doctor of
medicine and teller of fortunes, of the weakness of human nature
and strength of common credulity, the learned Alexander Bendo
vanished from the city; and about the same time the gallant Earl
of Rochester appeared at court, where he sought for and obtained
the merry monarch's pardon. The wonderful stories he was enabled
to relate, piquant in detail, and sparkling with wit, rendered it
delightful to the king, in whose favour he soon regained his
former supremacy. Nay, Charles even determined to enrich and
reward him, not indeed from the resources of his privy purse, his
majesty's income being all too little for his mistresses'
rapacity, but by uniting him to a charming woman and an heiress.

The lady whom his majesty selected for this purpose was Elizabeth
Mallett, daughter of Lord Hawley of Donamore. Now this
gentlewoman had a fortune of two thousand five hundred a year, a
considerable sum in those days, and one which gained her many
suitors; amongst whom Lord Hinchingbrook was commended by her
family, and Lord Rochester by the king. Now the latter nobleman,
having but a poor estate, was anxious to obtain her wealth, and
fearful of losing his suit: and being uncertain as to whether he
could gain her consent to marry him by fair means, he resolved to
obtain it by execution of a daring scheme.

This was to carry her off by force, an action which highly
commended itself to his adventurous spirit. Accordingly he
selected a night on which the heiress supped at Whitehall with
her friend Miss Stuart, for conducting his enterprise. It
therefore happened that as Elizabeth Mallett was returning home
from the palace in company with her grandfather, their coach was
suddenly stopped at Charing Cross. Apprehending some danger,
Lord Hawley looked out, and by the red light of a score of
torches flashing through darkness, saw he was surrounded by a
band of armed men, both afoot and on horse. Their action was
prompt and decisive, for before either my lord or his
granddaughter was aware of their intention, the latter was
seized, forcibly lifted from the coach, and transferred to
another which awaited close at hand. This was driven by six
horses, and occupied by two women, who received the heiress with
all possible respect. No sooner had she been placed in the coach
than the horses were set to a gallop, and away she sped,
surrounded by a company of horsemen.

Lord Hawley was cast into the uttermost grief and passion by this
outrage; but his condition did not prevent him speedily gathering
a number of friends and retainers, in company with whom he gave
chase to those who had abducted his granddaughter; and so fast
did they ride that Mistress Mallett was overtaken at Uxbridge,
and carried back in safety to town. For this outrageous attempt,
my Lord Rochester was by the king's command committed to the
Tower, there to await his majesty's good pleasure. It seemed now
as if the earl's chance of gaining the heiress had passed away
for ever; inasmuch as Charles regarded the attempted abduction
with vast displeasure, and my Lord Hawley with terrible

But the ways of women being inexplicable, it happened in a brief
while Mistress Mallett was inclined to regret my Lord Rochester's
imprisonment, and therefore moved to have him released; and,
moreover, she was subsequently pleased to regard his suit and
accept him as her wedded lord. It speaks favourably for his
character that with all his faults she loved him well: nor did
Rochester, though occasionally unfaithful, ever treat her with
unkindness. At times the old spirit of restlessness and passion
for adventure would master him, when he would withdraw himself
from her society for weeks and months. But she, though sadly
afflicted by such conduct, did not resent it. "If I could have
been troubled at anything, when I had the happiness of receiving
a letter from you," she writes to him on one occasion when he had
absented himself from her for long, "I should be so because you
did not name a time when I might hope to see you, the uncertainty
of which very much afflicts me." And again the poor patient wife
tells him, "Lay your commands upon me, what I am to do, and
though it be to forget my children, and the long hope I have
lived in of seeing you, yet I will endeavour to obey you; or in
memory only torment myself, without giving you the trouble of
putting you in mind that there lives such a creature as your
faithful humble servant." At length dissipation undermined his
naturally strong constitution; and for months this once most gay
and gallant man, this "noble and beautiful earl," lay dying of
that cruel disease consumption. The while such thoughts as come
to those who reason of life's vanities beset him; and as he
descended into the valley of shadows, the folly of this world's
ways was made clear to him. And repenting of his sins, he died
in peace with God and man at the age of three-and-thirty.

George Villiers second Duke of Buckingham, was not less notable
than my Lord Rochester. By turns he played such diverse parts in
life's strange comedy as that of a spendthrift and a miser, a
profligate and a philosopher, a statesman who sought the ruin of
his country, and a courtier who pandered to the pleasures of his
king. But inasmuch as this history is concerned with the social
rather than the political life of those mentioned in its pages,
place must be given to such adventures as were connected with the
court and courtiers. Buckingham's were chiefly concerned with
his intrigues, which, alas! were many and strange; for though
his wife was loving and virtuous, she was likewise lean and
brown, and wholly incapable of controlling his erring fancies.
Perhaps it was knowledge of her lack of comeliness which helped
her to bear the burden of his follies; for according to Madame
Dunois, though the duchess knew he was continually engaged in
amours, she, by virtue of a patience uncommon to her sex, forbore
mentioning the subject to him, and "had complaisance enough to
entertain his mistresses, and even lodge them in her house, all
which she suffered because she loved him."

The most remarkable of his intrigues was that which connected his
name with the Countess of Shrewsbury. Her ladyship, was daughter
of the second Earl of Cardigan, and wife of the eleventh Earl of
Shrewsbury. She was married a year previous to the restoration,
and upon the establishment of the court at Whitehall had become
one of its most distinguished beauties. Nor was she less famed
for the loveliness of her person than for the generosity of her
disposition; inasmuch as none who professed themselves desirous
of her affection were ever allowed to languish in despair. She
therefore had many admirers, some of whom were destined to suffer
for the distinction her friendship conferred.

Now one of the first to gain her attachment was the young Earl of
Arran, the grace of whose bearing and ardour of whose character
were alike notable to the court. The verses he sung her to an
accompaniment of his guitar, and the glances he gave her
indicative of his passion, might have melted a heart less cold
than hers. Accordingly they gained him a friendship which, by
reason of her vast benevolence, many were subsequently destined
to share. Now it chanced that the little Jermyn, who had already
succeeded in winning the affections of such notable women as the
poor Princess of Orange and my Lady Castlemaine, and had besides
conducted a series of minor intrigues with various ladies
connected with the court, was somewhat piqued that Lady
Shrewsbury had accepted my Lord Arran's attentions without
encouraging his. For Henry Jermyn, by virtue of the fascinations
he exercised and the consequent reputation he enjoyed, expected
to be wooed by such women as desired his love.

But when, later on, Lord Arran's devotion to the lady was
succeeded by that of Thomas Howard, brother to the Earl of
Carlisle, and captain of the guards, Jermyn was thoroughly
incensed, and resolved to make an exception in favour of the
countess by beginning those civilities which act as preludes to
intrigue. My lady, who was not judicious enough to be off with
the old love before she was on with the new, accepted Jermyn's
advances with an eagerness that gave promise of further favours.
This was highly displeasing to Howard, a brave and generous man,
who under an exterior of passive calmness concealed a spirit of
fearless courage. Though not desirous of picking a quarrel with
his rival, he was unwilling to suffer his impertinent
interference. Jermyn, on the other hand, not being aware of
Howard's real character, sought an early opportunity of insulting
him. Such being their dispositions, a quarrel speedily ensued,
which happened in this manner.

One fair summer day Captain Howard gave an entertainment at
Spring Gardens, in honour of the countess. These gardens were
situated close by Charing Cross, and opened into the spacious
walks of St. James's Park. Bounded on one side by a grove, and
containing leafy arbours and numerous thickets, the gardens were
"contrived to all the advantages of gallantry." The scene of
many an intrigue, they were constantly frequented by denizens of
the court and dwellers in the city, to whom they afforded
recreation and pleasure. In the centre of these fair gardens
stood a cabaret, or house of entertainment, where repasts were
served at exceeding high prices, and much good wine was drunk.
Here it was Captain Howard received my Lady Shrewsbury and a
goodly company, spread a delicate banquet for them, and for their
better diversion provided some excellent music played upon the
bagpipes, by a soldier noted for his execution on that

Jermyn hearing of the great preparations Captain Howard made,
resolved to be present on the occasion; and accordingly, before
the hour appointed for dinner, betook himself to the garden, and
as if he had arrived there by accident, strolled leisurely down
the broad pleasant paths, bordered by pinks and fragrant roses
clustering in the hedgerows. And presently drawing nigh the
cabaret, he tarried there until the countess, rich in physical
graces, with sunny smiles upon her lips, and amorous light in her
eyes, stepped forth upon the balcony and greeted him. Whereon
his heart took fire: and entering the house, he joined her where
she stood, and held pleasant converse with her. Inflated by his
success, he resolved on making himself disagreeable to the host,
and therefore ventured to criticize the entertainment, and
ridicule the music, which he voted barbarous to civilized ears.
And to such an extent did he outrage Thomas Howard, that the
gallant captain, being more of a soldier than a courtier, and
therefore preferring passages at arms to those of wit, could
scarce refrain from drawing his sword and demanding the
satisfaction due to him.

However, he subdued his wrath till the day was spent, and early
next morning sent a challenge to his rival. Accordingly they met
with fierce intent, and the duel which followed ended almost
fatally for Jermyn, who was carried from the scene of encounter
bleeding from three wounds caused by his antagonist's sword.

The unfortunate issue of this fight deprived Lady Shrewsbury of
two lovers; for Howard, having rendered Jermyn unable to perform
the part of a gallant, was obliged to fly from the country and
remain abroad some time.

In their stead the countess sought consolation in the
companionship of Thomas Killigrew, a handsome man and a notable
courtier. She therefore had no regrets for the past: and he was
entirely happy in the present, so that he boasted of his
felicities to all acquaintance, in general, and to his friend the
Duke of Buckingham in particular. It was Killigrew's constant
habit to sup with his grace, on which occasions his conversation
invariably turned on her ladyship, when, his imagination being
heated by wine, he freely endowed her with the perfections of a
goddess. To such descriptions the duke could not listen unmoved;
and therefore resolved to judge for himself if indeed the
countess was such a model of loveliness as Killigrew represented.
Accordingly, at the first opportunity which presented itself, the
duke made love to her, and she, nothing averse to his attentions,
encouraged his affections. Killigrew was much aggrieved at this
unexpected turn of affairs, and bitterly reproached the countess;
but she, being mistress of the situation, boldly denied all
knowledge of him.

This was more than he expected or could endure, and he
consequently abused her roundly in all companies, characterizing
the charms of which he once boasted as faults he could not
endure; ridiculing her airs, and denouncing her conduct. Reports
of his comments and discourses speedily reached Lady Shrewsbury's
ears; and he was privately warned that if he did not desist means
would be taken to silence him effectually. Not being wise enough
to accept this hint he continued to vilify her. The result was,
one night when returning from the Duke of York's apartments he
was suddenly waylaid in St. James's Park, and three passes of a
sword made at him through his chair, one of which pierced his
arm. Not doubting they had despatched him to a better world, His
assailants made their escape; and my Lady Shrewsbury, who
singularly enough happened to be passing at the time in her
coach, and had stopped to witness the proceedings, drove off as
speedily as six horses could carry her.

Knowing it would be impossible to trace the villainy which had
prompted this deed to its source, Killigrew said not a word
concerning the murderous attempt, and henceforth held his peace
regarding his late mistress's imperfections. For some time she
continued her intrigue with the Duke of Buckingham without
interference. But in an evil hour it happened the Earl of
Shrewsbury, who had long entertained a philosophical indifference
towards her previous amours, now undertook to defend his honour,
which it was clear his Grace of Buckingham had sadly injured.

Accordingly he challenged the duke to combat, and in due time
they met face to face in a field by Barnes Elms. His grace had
as seconds Sir Robert Holmes and Captain William Jenkins; the
earl being supported by Sir John Talbot and Bernard Howard, son
of my Lord Arundel. The fight was brief and bloody; Lord
Shrewsbury, being run through the body, was carried from the
field in an insensible condition. The duke received but a slight
wound, but his friend Captain Jenkins was killed upon the spot.
The while swords clashed, blood flowed, and lives hung in a
balance, the woman who wrought this evil stood close by,
disguised as a page, holding the bridle of her lover's horse, as
Lord Orford mentions.

In consequence of this duel the Duke of Buckingham absented
himself from the capital; but two months after its occurrence
King Charles was pleased, "in contemplation of the services
heretofore done to his majesty by most of the persons engaged in
the late duel or rencontre, to graciously pardon the said
offence." Three months after the day on which he fought, Lord
Shrewsbury died from effects of his wounds, when the duke boldly
carried the widow to his home. The poor duchess, who had
patiently borne many wrongs, could not stand this grievous and
public insult, and declared she would not live under the same
roof with so shameless a woman. "So I thought, madam," rejoined
her profligate lord, "and have therefore ordered your coach to
convey you to your father."

The countess continued to live with her paramour; nor was the
court scandalized. The queen, it is true, openly espoused the
cause of the outraged duchess, and sought to enlist sympathy on
her behalf; but so low was the tone of public morality that her
words were unheeded, and no voice was raised in protest against
this glaring infamy. Nay, the duke went further still in his
efforts towards injuring the wife to whom he owed so much, and
who loved him over-well; as he caused his chaplain, the Rev.
Thomas Sprat, to marry him to my Lady Shrewsbury; and
subsequently conferred on the son to which she gave birth, and
for whom the king stood godfather, his second title of Earl of
Coventry. His wife was henceforth styled by the courtiers
Dowager Duchess of Buckingham. It is worthy of mention that the
Rev. Thomas Sprat in good time became Bishop of Rochester, and,
it is written, "an ornament to the church among those of the
highest order."

One of the most extraordinary characters which figured in this
reign was Thomas Blood, sometimes styled colonel. He was
remarkable for his great strength, high courage, and love of
adventure. The son of an Irish blacksmith, he had, on the
outbreak of civil warfare in his native country, joined
Cromwell's army; and for the bravery he evinced was raised to the
rank of lieutenant, rewarded by a substantial grant of land, and
finally made a justice of the peace. At the restoration he was
deprived of this honour, as he was likewise of the property he
called his, which was returned to its rightful owner, an honest
royalist. Wholly dissatisfied with a government which dealt him
such hardships, he organised a plot to raise an insurrection in
Ireland, storm Dublin Castle, and seize the Duke of Ormond, then
lord lieutenant. This dark scheme was discovered by his grace;
the chief conspirators were accordingly seized, with the
exception of Blood, who succeeded in making his escape to
Holland. His fellow traitors were tried and duly executed.

From Holland, Blood journeyed into England, where, becoming
acquainted with some republicans, he entered into projects with
them calculated to disturb the nation's peace; which fact
becoming known, he was obliged to seek refuge in Scotland. Here
he found fresh employment for his restless energies, and in the
year 1666 succeeded in stirring up some malcontents to rebellion.
The revolt being quelled, he escaped to Ireland; and after a
short stay in that country returned once more to England, where
he sought security in disguise.

He lived here in peace until 1670, when he made an attempt no
less remarkable for its ingenuity than notable for its villainy.
Towards the end of that year the Prince of Orange, being in
London, was invited by the lord mayor to a civic banquet.
Thither the Duke of Ormond attended him, and subsequently
accompanied him to St. James's, where the prince then stayed. A
short distance from the palace gates stood Clarendon House, where
the duke then resided, and towards which he immediately drove, on
taking leave of his royal highness. Scarce had he proceeded a
dozen yards up St. James's Street, when his coach was suddenly
stopped by a band of armed and mounted men, who, hurriedly
surrounding his grace, dragged him from the carriage and mounted
him on a horse behind a stalwart rider. Word of command being
then given, the gang started at a brisk pace down Piccadilly.
Prompted by enemies of the duke, as well as urged by his own
desires to avenge his loss of property and the death of his
fellow-conspirators, Blood resolved to hang him upon the gallows
at Tyburn. That he might accomplish this end with greater speed
and security, he, leaving his victim securely buckled and tied to
the fellow behind whom he had been mounted, galloped forward in
advance to adjust the rope to the gallows, and make other
necessary preparations.

No sooner did the echo of his horse's hoofs die away, than the
duke, recovering the stupor this sudden attack had caused, became
aware that now was his opportunity to effect escape, if, indeed,
such were possible. He to whom his grace was secured was a burly
man possessed of great strength; the which Lord Ormond, being now
past his sixtieth year, had not. However, life was dear to him,
and therefore he began struggling with the fellow; and finally
getting his foot under the villain's, he unhorsed him, when both
fell heavily to the ground. Meanwhile his grace's coach having
driven to Clarendon House, the footmen had given an account of
the daring manner in which his abduction had been effected. On
this an alarm was immediately raised, and the porter, servants,
and others hastened down Piccadilly in search of their master,
fast as good horses could carry them.

They had proceeded as far as the village of Knightsbridge, when
reports of muskets, cries for help, and sounds of a scuffle they
could not see for darkness, fell upon their ears, and filled them
with alarm. The whole neighbourhood seemed startled, lights
flashed, dogs barked, and many persons rushed towards the scene
of encounter. Aware of this, the miscreants who had carried off
the duke discharged their pistols at him, and leaving him, as
they supposed, for dead, fled to avoid capture, and were seen or
heard of no more. His grace was carried in an insensible
condition to a neighbouring house, but not having received
serious hurt, recovered in a few days. The court and town were
strangely alarmed by this outrage; nor as time passed was there
any clue obtained to its perpetrators, though the king offered a
thousand pounds reward for their discovery.

The duke and his family, however, had little doubt his grace of
Buckingham was instigator of the deed; and Lord Ossory was
resolved the latter should be made aware of their conviction.
Therefore, entering the royal drawing-room one day, he saw the
duke standing beside his majesty, and going forward addressed
him. "My lord," said he in a bold tone, whilst he looked him
full in the face, "I know well that you are at the bottom of this
late attempt upon my father; and I give you fair warning, if my
father comes to a violent end by sword or pistol, or if he dies
by the hand of a ruffian, or by the more secret way of poison, I
shall not be at a loss to know the first author of it: I shall
consider you as the assassin; I shall treat you as such; and
wherever I meet you I shall pistol you, though you stood behind
the king's chair; and I tell you it in his majesty's presence,
that you may be sure I shall keep my word." No further attempt
was made upon the Duke of Ormond's life.

Scarce six months elapsed from date of the essayed abduction,
before Blood endeavoured to steal the regalia and royal jewels
preserved in the Tower. The courage which prompted the design is
not more remarkable than the skill which sought to effect it;
both were worthy a man of genius. In the month of April, 1671,
Blood, attired in the cassock, cloak, and canonical girdle of a
clergyman, together with a lady, whom he represented as his wife,
visited the Tower on purpose to see the crown. With their desire
Mr. Edwards, the keeper, an elderly man and a worthy, readily
complied. It chanced they were no sooner in the room where the
regalia was kept, than the lady found herself taken suddenly and
unaccountably ill, and indeed feared she must die; before bidding
adieu to life, she begged for a little whisky. This was promptly
brought her, and Mrs. Edwards, who now appeared upon the scene,
invited the poor gentlewoman to rest upon her bed. Whilst she
complied with this kind request, the clergyman and Edwards had
time to improve their acquaintance, which indeed bade fair
towards speedily ripening into friendship.

And presently the lady recovering, she and her spouse took their
leave with many expressions of gratitude and respect. Four days
later, the good parson called on Mrs. Edwards, in order to
present her with four pairs of fine new gloves, which she was
pleased to receive. This gracious act paved the way to further
friendship, which at last found its climax in a proposal of
marriage made by the parson on behalf of his nephew, for the hand
of young Mistress Edwards. "You have a pretty gentlewoman for
your daughter," said the clergyman, "and I have a young nephew,
who has two or three hundred pounds a year in land, and is at my
disposal; if your daughter be free, and you approve of it, I will
bring him hither to see her, and we will endeavour to make a
match of it."

To this project Edwards readily consented, and invited the
clergyman and the young man to spend a day with him when they
could discourse on the subject with greater leisure and more
satisfaction. This was cordially agreed to by the parson, who,
with the bridegroom elect and two of his friends, presented
themselves on the appointed date, as early as seven of the clock
in the morning. Edwards was up betimes; but the good clergyman,
apologizing for the untimely hour of their arrival, which he
attributed to his nephew's eagerness for sight of his mistress,
declared he would not enter the keeper's apartments until Mrs.
Edwards was ready to receive them. However, in order to pass the
time, he begged his host might show the jewels to their young

With this petition Edwards complied readily enough. One of the
men, protesting he did not care to see the treasures, waited at
the door; the other three entered with the keeper, who was no
sooner inside the room than a cloak was thrown over his head, a
gag, constructed of wood with a hole in it by which he might
breathe, clapped into his mouth, and the more effectually to
prevent him making a noise, an iron ring was fastened to his
nose. He was told if he attempted an alarm he would be instantly
killed, but if he remained quiet his life should be spared.
Blood and his two accomplices then seized upon the crown, orb,
and sceptre, seeing which, Edwards made as much noise as he
possibly could by stamping on the floor, whereon the robbers
struck him with a mallet on the head, stabbed him with a short
sword in the side, and left him, as they thought, for dead.
Blood then secured the regalia under his cloak, one of his
companions put the orb into his breeches pocket, whilst the other
proceeded to file the sceptre that it might be more conveniently

Now, at this moment it happened the keeper's son, who had been
absent in Flanders, returned to his father's home. He who stood
sentinel asked him with whom he would speak, whereon young
Edwards said he belonged to the house, and so passed to the
apartments where his family resided. The other giving notice of
his arrival, the robbers hastened to depart, leaving the sceptre
behind them. No sooner had they gone, than the old man struggled
to his feet, dragged the gag from his mouth, and cried out in
fright: "Treason--murder--murder--treason!" On this his
daughter rushed down, and seeing the condition of her father, and
noting the absence of the regalia, continued his cry, adding,
"The crown is stolen--thieves--thieves!"

Young Edwards and another who heard her, Captain Beekman, now
gave pursuit to the robbers, who had already got beyond the main
guard. Word was instantly shouted to the warder of the
drawbridge to stop the villains, but Blood was equal to this
emergency; coolly advancing, he discharged his pistol at the man,
who instantly fell. The thieves then crossed the bridge, passed
through the outward gate, and made for the street close by, where
their horses awaited them, crying the while, "Stop thief! stop
thief!" Before they advanced far, Captain Beekman came up with
Blood, who, turning quickly round, fired his second pistol at the
head of his pursuer; but Beekman, suddenly stooping, escaped
injury, and sprang at the throat of his intended assassin. A
struggle then ensued. Blood was a man of powerful physique, but
Beekman was lithe and vigorous, and succeeded in holding the
rogue until help arrived. In the contest, the regalia fell to
the ground, when a fair diamond and a priceless pearl were lost;
they were, however, eventually recovered. The other thieves were
likewise captured, and all of them secured in the Tower.

Certain death now faced Blood; but the wonderful luck which had
befriended him during life did not desert him now. At this time
the Duke of Buckingham was high in favour with the king, and
desirous of saving one who had secretly served him; or fearing
exposure if Blood made a full confession, his grace impressed
Charles with a desire to see the man who had perpetrated so
daring a deed, saying he must be one possessed of extraordinary
spirit. Giving ready ear to his words, the monarch consented to
have an interview with the robber, for which purpose he gave
orders Blood should be brought to Whitehall.

Those who heard of the king's resolution felt satisfied Blood
need not despair of life; "for surely," said Sir Robert
Southwell, on becoming aware of his majesty's design, "no king
should wish to see a malefactor but with intentions to pardon
him." Now Blood, being a man of genius, resolved to play his
part during the audience in a manner which would favourably
impress the king. Therefore when Charles asked him how he had
dared attempt so bold a robbery, Blood made answer he had lost a
fine property by the crown, and was resolved to recover it with
the crown. Diverted by his audacity his majesty questioned him
further, when Blood confessed to his attempted abduction of the
Duke of Ormond, but refused to name his accomplices. Nay, he
narrated various other adventures, showing them in a romantic
light; and finally concluded by telling the king he had once
entered into a design to take his sacred life by rushing upon him
with a carbine from out of the reeds by the Thames side, above
Battersea, when he went to swim there; but he was so awed by
majesty his heart misgave him, and he not only relented, but
persuaded the remainder of his associates from such an intention.

This strange interview resulted in Charles pardoning Blood his
many crimes. The Duke of Ormond, at his majesty's request,
likewise forgave him. Nor did the king's interest in the villain
end here; for he gave him a pension of five hundred pounds a
year, and admitted him to his private friendship. Blood was
therefore constantly at court, and made one of that strange
assembly of wits and profligates which surrounded the throne.
"No man," says Carte the historian, "was more assiduous than he.
If anyone had a business at court that stuck, he made his
application to Blood as the most industrious and successful
solicitor; and many gentlemen courted his acquaintance, as the
Indians pray to the devil, that he may not hurt them. He was
perpetually in the royal apartments, and affected particularly to
be in the same room where the Duke of Ormond was, to the
indignation of all others, though neglected and overlooked by his


Terror falls upon the people.--Rumours of a plague.--A sign in
the heavens.--Flight from the capital.--Preparations against the
dreaded enemy.--Dr. Boghurst's testimony.--God's terrible voice
in the city.--Rules made by the lord mayor.--Massacre of
animals.--O, dire death!--Spread of the distemper.--Horrible
sights.--State of the deserted capital.--"Bring out your dead."
--ashes to ashes.--Fires are lighted.--Relief of the poor.--The
mortality bills.

It came to pass during the fifth month of the year 1665, that a
great terror fell upon the city of London; even as a sombre cloud
darkens the midday sky. For it was whispered abroad a plague had
come amongst the people, fears of which had been entertained, and
signs of which had been obvious for some time. During the
previous November a few persons had fallen victims to this
dreaded pestilence, but the weather being cold and the atmosphere
clear, it had made no progress till April. In that month two men
had died of this most foul disease; and in the first week of May
its victims numbered nine; and yet another fortnight and it had
hurried seventeen citizens to the grave.

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