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

Celebration of the Kings return.--Those who flocked to Whitehall My Lord Cleveland's gentlemen.--Sir Thomas Allen's supper.-- Touching for King's evil.--That none might lose their labour.-- The man with the fungus nose.--The memory of the regicides.-- Cromwell's effigy.--Ghastly scene at Tyburn.--The King's clemency.--The Coronation procession.--Sights and scenes by the way.--His Majesty is crowned.

The return of the king and his court was a signal for universal joy throughout the nation in general and the capital in particular. For weeks and months subsequent to his majesty's triumphal entry, the town did not subside from its condition of excitement and revelry to its customary quietude and sobriety. Feasts by day were succeeded by entertainments at night; "and under colour of drinking the king's health," says Bishop Burnet, "there were great disorder and much riot."

It seemed as if the people could not sufficiently express their delight at the presence of the young king amongst them, or satisfy their desire of seeing him. When clad in rich velvets and costly lace, adorned with many jewels and waving feathers, he walked in Hyde Park attended by an "abundance of gallantry," or went to Whitehall Chapel, where "the organs and singing-men in surplices" were first heard by Mr. Pepys, a vast crowd of loyal subjects attended him on his way. Likewise, when, preceded by heralds, he journeyed by water in his barge to open Parliament, the river was crowded with innumerable boats, and the banks lined with a great concourse anxious for sight of him. Nor were his subjects satisfied by the glimpses obtained of him on such occasions; they must needs behold their king surrounded by the insignia of royalty in the palace of his ancestors, and flocked thither in numbers. "The eagerness of men, women, and children to see his majesty, and kisse his hands was so greate," says Evelyn, "that he had scarce leisure to eate for some dayes, coming as they did from all parts of the nation: and the king being as willing to give them that satisfaction, would have none kept out, but gave free access to all sorts of people." Indeed his loyal subjects were no less pleased with him than he with them; and in faith he was sorry, he declared, in that delicate strain of irony that ran like a bright thread throughout the whole pattern of his speech, he had not come over before, for every man he encountered was glad to see him.

Day after day, week after week, the Palace of Whitehall presented a scene of ceaseless bustle. Courtiers, ambassadors, politicians, soldiers, and citizens crowded the antechambers, flocked through the galleries, and tarried in the courtyards. Deputations from all the shires and chief towns in the three kingdoms, bearing messages of congratulation and loyalty, were presented to the king. First of all came the worshipful lord mayor, aldermen and council of the city of London, in great pomp and state; when the common-sergeant made a speech to his majesty respecting the affection of the city towards him, and the lord mayor, on hospitable thoughts intent, besought the honour of his company to dinner, the which Charles promised him most readily. And the same day the commissioners from Ireland presented themselves, headed by Sir James Barry, who delivered himself of a fine address regarding the love his majesty's Irish subjects bore him; as proof of which he presented the monarch with a bill for twenty thousand pounds, that had been duly accepted by Alderman Thomas Viner, a right wealthy man and true. Likewise came the deputy steward and burgesses of the city of Westminster, arrayed in the glory of new scarlet gowns; and the French, Italian, and Dutch ministers, when Monsieur Stoope pronounced an harangue with great eloquence. Also the vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, with divers doctors, bachelors of divinity, proctors, and masters of arts of the same learned university, who, having first met at the Temple Church, went by two and two, according to their seniority, to Essex House, that they might wait on the most noble the Marquis of Hertford, then chancellor. Accompanied by him, and preceded by eight esquires and yeomen beadles, having their staves, and three of them wearing gold chains, they presented themselves before the king, and spoke him words of loyalty and greeting. The heads of the colleges and halls of Cambridge, with some masters of arts, in like manner journeyed to Whitehall, when Dr. Love delivered a learned Latin oration, expressive of their devotion to royalty in the person of their most illustrious monarch.

Amongst others came, one day, my Lord Cleveland at the head of a hundred gentlemen, many of them being officers who had formerly served under him, and other gentlemen who had ridden to meet the king when coming unto his own; and having arrived at Whitehall, they knelt down in the matted gallery, when his majesty "was pleased to walk along," says MERCURIUS PUBLICUS, "and give everyone of them the honour to kiss his hand, which favour was so highly received by them, that they could no longer stifle their joy, but as his majesty was walking out (a thing thought unusual at court) they brake out into a loud shouting."

Then the nobility entertained the king and his royal brothers with much magnificence, his Excellency Lord General Monk first giving at his residence in the Cockpit, a great supper, after which "he entertained his majesty with several sorts of musick;" Next Earl Pembroke gave a rare banquet; also the Duke of Buckingham, my Lord Lumley, and many others. Nor was my lord mayor, Sir Thomas Allen, behindhand in extending hospitality to the king, whom he invited to sup with him. This feast, having no connection with the civic entertainments, was held at good Sir Thomas's house. The royal brothers of York and Gloucester were likewise bidden, together with several of the nobility and gentry of high degree. Previous to supper being served, the lord mayor brought his majesty a napkin dipped in rose-water, and offered it kneeling; when his majesty had wiped his hands, he sat down at a table raised by an ascent, the Duke of York on his right hand, and the Duke of Gloucester on his left. They were served with three several courses, at each of which the tablecloth was shifted, and at every dish which his majesty or the dukes tasted, the napkins were moreover changed. At another table in the same room sat his Excellency the Lord General, the Duke of Buckingham, the Marquis of Ormond, the Earl of Oxford, Earl of Norwich, Earl of St. Albans, Lords De la Ware, Sands, Berkeley, and several other of the nobility, with knights and gentlemen of great quality. Sir John Robinson, alderman of London, proposed his majesty's health, which was pledged standing by all present. His majesty was the while entertained with a variety of rare music. This supper was given on the 16th of June; and a couple of weeks later, on the 5th of July, the king went "with as much pompe and splendour as any earthly prince could do to the greate Citty feast, the first they had invited him to since his returne."

But whilst entertainments were given, and diversions occupied the town, Charles was called upon to touch for the evil, an affliction then most prevalent throughout the kingdom. According to a time-honoured belief which obtained until the coming of George I., when faith in the divinity of kings was no longer possible to the most ignorant, the monarch's touch was credited with healing this most grievous disease. Majesty in those days was sacred, and superstition rife. Accordingly we read in MERCURIUS PUBLICUS that, "The kingdom having for a long time, by reason of his majesty's absence, been troubled with the evil, great numbers flocked for cure. Saturday being appointed by his majesty to touch such as were so troubled, a great company of poor afflicted creatures were met together, many brought in chairs and baskets; and being appointed by his majesty to repair to the banqueting house, the king sat in a chair of state, where he stroked all that were brought to him, and then put about each of their necks a white ribbon with an angel of gold on it. In this manner his majesty stroked above six hundred; and such was his princely patience and tenderness to the poor afflicted creatures, that though it took up a long time, the king, being never weary of well doing, was pleased to make inquiry whether there were any more that had not been touched. After prayers were ended the Duke of Buckingham brought a towel, and the Earl of Pembroke a basin and ewer, who, after they had made their obeysance to his majesty, kneeled down till his majesty had washed."

This was on the 23rd of June, a few days earlier than the date fixed by Evelyn as that on which the king first began "touch for ye evil." A week later we find he stroked as many as two hundred and fifty persons. Friday was then appointed as the day for those suffering from this disease to come before the king; it was moreover decided that only two hundred persons should be presented each week and these were first to repair to Mr. Knight, his majesty's surgeon, living at the Cross Guns, in Russell Street, Covent Garden, over against the Rose tavern, for tickets of admission. "That none might lose their labour." the same Mr. Knight made it known to the public he would be at home on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from two till six of the clock; and if any person of quality should send for him he would wait upon them at their lodgings. The disease must indeed have been rife: week after week those afflicted continued to present themselves, and we read that, towards the end of July, "notwithstanding all discouragements by the hot weather and the multitude of sick and infirm people, his majesty abated not one of his accustomed number, but touched full two hundred: an high conviction of all such physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries that pretend self- preservation when the languishing patient requires their assistance." Indeed, there were some who placed boundless faith in the king's power of healing by touch; amongst whom was one Avis Evans, whom Aubrey, in his "Miscellanies," records "had a fungus nose, and said it was revealed to him that the king's hand would cure him. And at the first coming of King Charles II. into St. James's Park, he kissed the king's hand, and rubbed his nose with it, which disturbed the king, but cured him."

The universal joy which filled the nation at the restoration of his majesty was accompanied, as might be expected, by bitter hatred towards the leaders of Republicanism, especially towards such as had condemned the late king to death. The chief objects of popular horror now, however, lay in their graves; but the sanctity of death was neither permitted to save their memories from vituperation nor their remains from moltestation. Accordingly, through many days in June the effigy of Cromwell, which had been crowned with a royal diadem, draped with a purple mantle, in Somerset House, and afterwards borne with all imaginable pomp to Westminster Abbey, was now exposed at one of the windows at Whitehall with a rope fixed round its neck, by way of hinting at the death which the original deserved. But this mark of execration was not sufficient to satisfy the public mind, and seven months later, on the 30th of January, 1661, the anniversary of the murder of Charles I., the bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton, and John Bradshaw were taken from their resting places in Westminster Abbey, and drawn on hurdles to Tyburn, the well-known site of public executions. "All the way the universal outcry and curses of the people went along with them," says MERCURIUS PUBLICUS. "When these three carcasses arrived at Tyburn, they were pulled out of their coffins, and hanged at the several angles of that triple tree, where they hung till the sun was set; after which they were taken down, their heads cut off; and their loathsome trunks thrown into a deep hole under the gallows. The heads of those three notorious regicides, Oliver Cromwell, John Bradshaw, and Ireton are set upon poles on the top of Westminster Hall by the common hangman. Bradshaw placed in the middle (over that part where the monstrous high court of justice sat), Cromwell and his son-in-law Ireton on either side of Bradshaw."

Before this ghastly execution took place, Parliament had brought to justice such offenders against the late king's government and life as were in its power. According to the declaration made by the king at Breda, a full and general pardon was extended to all rebellious subjects, excepting such persons as should be hereafter excepted by Parliament. By reason of this clause, some who had been most violent in their persecution of royalty were committed to the Tower before the arrival of his majesty, others fled from the country, but had, on another proclamation summoning them to surrender themselves, returned in hope of obtaining pardon. Thirty in all were tried at the Old Bailey before the Commissioners of Oyer and Terminer and a special jury of knights and gentlemen of quality in the county of Middlesex. Twenty-nine of these were condemned to death. The king was singularly free from desires of revenge; but many of his council were strangers to clemency, and, under the guise of loyalty to the crown, sought satisfaction for private wrongs by urging severest measures. The monarch, however, shrank from staining the commencement of his reign with bloodshed and advocated mercy. In a speech delivered to the House of Lords he insisted that, as a point of honour, he was bound to make good the assurances given in his proclamation of Breda, "which if I had not made," he continued, "I am persuaded that neither I nor you had now been here. I pray, therefore, let us not deceive those who brought or permitted us to come together; and I earnestly desire you to depart from all particular animosities and revenge or memory of past provocations." Accordingly, but ten of those on whom sentence of death had been passed were executed, the remainder being committed to the Tower. That they were not also hung was, according to the mild and merciful Dr. Reeves, Dean of Westminster, "a main cause of God's punishing the land" in the future time. For those destined to suffer, a gibbet was erected at Charing Cross, that the traitors might in their last moments see the spot where the late king had been executed. Having been half hung, they were taken down, when their heads were severed from their trunks and set up on poles at the south-east end of Westminster Hall, whilst their bodies were quartered and exposed upon the city gates.

Burnet tells us that "the regicides being odious beyond all expression, the trials and executions of the first who suffered were run to by crowds, and all the people seemed pleased with the sight;" yet by degrees these cruel and ghastly spectacles became distasteful and disgusting. "I saw not their executions," says Evelyn, speaking of four of the traitors who had suffered death on the 17th of October, "but met their quarters mangled and cutt and reeking as they were brought from the gallows in baskets on the hurdle. Oh the miraculous providence of God!"

Seven months later, the people were diverted by the more cheerful pageant of the king's coronation, which was conducted with great magnificence. "Two days," as Heath narrates, "were allotted to the consummation of this great and most celebrated action, the wonder, admiration and delight of all persons, both foreign and domestick." Early on the morning of the 22nd of May, the day being Monday, the king left Whitehall, by water, for the Tower, in order that he might, according to ancient custom, proceed through the city to Westminster Abbey. It was noticed that it had previously rained for a month together, but on this and the next day "it pleased God that not one drop fell on the king's triumph." At ten o'clock the roaring of cannon announced the procession had left the Tower on its way to Whitehall, where his majesty was to rest the night. The splendour of the pageant was such as had never before been witnessed. The procession was headed by the king's council at law, the masters of chancery and judges, who were followed by the lords according to their rank, so numerous in all, that those who rode first reached Fleet Street, whilst the king was yet in the Tower.

No expense was spared by those who formed part of that wonderful cavalcade, towards rendering their appearance magnificent. Heath tells us it was incredible to think "what costly cloathes were worn that day. The cloaks could hardly be seen what silk or satin they were made of, for the gold and silver laces and embroidery that was laid upon them; the like also was seen on their foot-cloathes. Besides the inestimable value and treasures of diamonds, pearls, and other jewels worn upon their backs and in their hats, not to mention the sumptuous and rich liveries of their pages and footmen, some suits of liveries amounting to fifteen hundred pounds." Nor had the city hesitated in lavishing vast sums towards decorating the streets through which the king was to pass. Four triumphal arches were erected, that were left standing for a year in memory of this joyful day. These were "composed" by John Ogilby, Esquire; and were respectively erected in Leadenhall Street, the Exchange on Cornhill, Wood Street, and Fleet Street.

The thoroughfares were newly gravelled, railed all the way on both sides, and lined with the city companies and trained bands. The "relation of his majesty's entertainment passing through the City of London," as narrated by John Ogilby, and by the papers of the day, is extremely quaint and interesting, but too long for detailed description. During the monarch's progress through "Crouched Friers," he was diverted with music discoursed by a band of eight waits, placed upon a stage. At Aldgate, and at several other stages of his journey, he was received in like manner. Arriving at the great arch in Leadenhall Street, his ears were greeted by sounds of trumpets and drums playing marches; when they had finishes, a short scene was enacted on a balcony of the arch, by figures representing Monarchy, Rebellion, and Loyalty. Then the great procession wended its way to the East India House, situate in the same street, when the East India Company took occasion to express their dutiful affections, in a manner "wholly designed by person of quality." As the king advanced, a youth in an Indian habit, attended by two blackamoors, knelt down before his majesty's horse, and delivered himself of some execrable verse, which he had no sooner ended than another youth in an Indian vest, mounted on a camel, was led forwards and delivered some lines praying his majesty's subjects might never see the sun set on his crown or dignity. The camel, it my be noticed, bore panniers filled with pearls, spices, and silks, destined to be scattered among the spectators. At Cornhill was a conduit, surmounted by eight wenches representing nymphs--a sight which must have rejoiced the king's heart; and on the tower of this same fountain sounded "a noise of seven trumpets." Another fountain flowed with wine and water; and on his way the king heard several speeches delivered by various symbolic figures. One of these, who made a particularly fine harangue, represented the River Thames, as a gentleman whose "garment loose and flowing, coloured blue and white, waved like water, flags and ozier-like long hair falling o'er his shoulders; his beard long, sea-green, and white." And so by slow degrees the king came to Temple Bar, where he was entertained by "a view of a delightful boscage, full of several beasts, both tame and savage, as also several living figures and music of eight waits." And having passed through Temple Bar into his ancient and native city of Westminster, the head bailiff in a scarlet robe and the high constable, likewise in scarlet, on behalf of the dean, chapter, city, and liberty, received his majesty with great expressions of joy.

Never had there been so goodly a show so grand a procession; the citizens, still delighted with their young king, had certainly excelled in doing him honour, and some foreigners, Heaton says, "acknowledged themselves never to have seen among all the great magnificences of the world any to come near or equal this: even the vaunting French confessed their pomps of the late marriage with the Infanta of Spain, at their majesties' entrance into Paris, to be inferior in its state, gallantry, and riches unto this most illustrious cavalcade." Amongst those who witnessed the procession was Mr. Pepys, who has left us a realistic description, without which this picture would be incomplete. He tells us he arose early on this day; and the vain fellow says he made himself as fine as could be, putting on his velvet coat for the first time, though he had it made half a year before. "And being ready," he continues, "Sir W. Batten, my lady, and his two daughters, and his son and wife, and Sir W. Pen and his son and I, went to Mr. Young's, the flag-maker, in Corne-hill; and there we had a good room to ourselves, with wine and good cake, and saw the show very well. In which it is impossible to relate the glory of this day, expressed in the clothes of them that rid, and their horses and horses' clothes; among others, my Lord Sandwich's embroidery and diamonds were ordinary among them. The Knights of the Bath was a brave sight of itself. Remarquable were the two men that represent the two Dukes of Normandy and Aquitane. My Lord Monk rode bare after the king, and led in his hand a spare horse, as being Master of the Horse. The king, in a most rich embroidered suit and cloak, looked most noble. Wadlow, the vintner, at the Devil, in Fleet Street, did lead a fine company of soldiers, all young comely men in white doublets. There followed the Vice-Chamberlain, Sir G. Carteret, and a company of men all like Turkes. The streets all gravelled, and the houses hung with carpets before them, made brave show; and the ladies out of the windows, one of which over against us, I took much notice of, and spoke of her, which made good sport among us. So glorious was the show with gold and silver, that we were not able to look at it, our eyes at last being so much overcome with it. Both the king and the Duke of York took notice of us as they saw us at the window. The show being ended, Mr. Young did give us a dinner, at which we were very merry and pleased above imagination at what we have seen."

The next day, being the feast of St. George, patron of England, the king went in procession from Whitehall to Westminster Abbey, where he was solemnly crowned in the presence of a vast number of peers and bishops. After which, surrounded by the same brilliant company, he passed from the Abbey to Westminster Hall, the way being covered with blue cloth, and lined with spectators to the number of ten thousand. Here his majesty and the lords, spiritual and temporal, dined sumptuously, whilst many fine ceremonies were observed, music of all sorts was played, and a great crowd of pretty ladies looked down from the galleries. And when the banquet was over, and a general pardon had been read by the lord chancellor, and the champion had drank out of the king's gold cup, Charles betook himself to Whitehall. Then, after two days of fair weather, it suddenly "fell a-raining, and thundering and lightning," says Pepys, "as I have not seen it do for some years; which people did take great notice of."


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