HumanitiesWeb HumanitiesWeb
WelcomeHistoryLiteratureArtMusicPhilosophyResourcesHelp
Sort By Author Sort By Title
pixel

Resources
Sort By Author
Sort By Title

Search

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

& etc
FEEDBACK

(C)1998-2013
All Rights Reserved.

Site last updated
26 June, 2013
Royalty Restored or London under Charles II
Chapter VI.
by Molloy, J. Fitzgerald


The king's intrigue with Barbara Palmer.--The queen arrives at Portsmouth.--Visited by the Duke of York.--The king leaves town, --First interview with his bride.--His letter to the lord chancellor.--Royal marriage and festivities.--Arrival at Hampton Court Palace.--Prospects of a happy union.--Lady Castlemaine gives birth to a second child.--The king's infatuation.--Mistress and wife.--The queen's misery.--The king's cruelty.--Lord Clarendon's messages.--His majesty resolves to break the queen's spirit.--End of the domestic quarrel.

Whilst the king conducted the negotiations of his marriage with Catherine of Braganza, he likewise continued the pursuit of his intrigue with Barbara Palmer. The unhappy fascination which this vile woman exercised over his majesty increased with time; and though his ministers declared a suitable marriage would reform his ways, his courtiers concluded he had no intention of abandoning his mistress in favour of his wife. For Barbara Palmer, dreading the loss of her royal lover and the forfeiture of wealth accruing from this connection, had firmly bound him in her toils. Moreover, in order that he might continually abide under her influence, she conceived a scheme which would of necessity bring her into constant intercourse with him and the young queen. She therefore demanded he would appoint her one of the ladies of the bedchamber to her majesty, to which he, heedless of the insult this would fix upon his wife, readily consented.

In order to qualify Barbara Palmer for such a position, it was necessary she should be raised to the peerage. This could only be accomplished by ennobling her husband, unless public decency were wholly ignored, and she was created a peeress in her own right, whilst he remained a commoner. After some faint show of hesitation, Roger Palmer accepted the honours thrust upon him by reason of his wife's infamy. On the 11th of December, 1661, he was created Earl of Castlemaine, and Baron Limerick in the peerage of Ireland, when the royal favourite became a countess.

And now the merry month of May being arrived, the queen was speedily expected; and on the night of the 13th joyful tidings reached London that the "Royal Charles," accompanied by the fleet, was in sight of Portsmouth. At which news there was great rejoicing throughout the town, church bells ringing merrily, and bonfires blazing brightly; but before the Countess of Castlemaine's house, where the king, according to his custom was at supper, there was no fire, though such signs of joy burned "at all the rest of the doors almost in the streets, which was much observed."

Next day the fleet arrived in the harbour of Portsmouth, about four in the afternoon. Heath says the people gathered to receive the bride with all possible demonstrations of honour, "the nobility and gentry and multitudes of Londoners, in most rich apparel and in great numbers, waiting on the shore for her landing; and the mayor and aldermen and principal persons of that corporation being in their gowns, and with a present and a speech ready to entertain her; the cannon and small shot, both from round that town and the whole fleet echoing to one another the loud proclamations of their joy." These good people were, however, destined to disappointment; for though the bride was impatient to land, because suffering from prostration consequent on a rough voyage and severe illness, she was not, in observance of court etiquette, permitted to leave the ship until the king arrived. This did not take place until six days later, Charles being detained in town by reason of some important bills then passing in Parliament, which it was necessary for him to sign. He had, however, despatched his royal brother of York, then Lord High Admiral of England, to meet her at sea, and give her greeting in his name. Accordingly the duke had encountered the fleet at the Isle of Wight, and gone on board the queen's ship, when she received him in her cabin seated under a canopy on a chair of state. His royal highness expressed his joy at her arrival, presented "his majesty's high respects and his exceeding affection for her," and paid her many compliments. Lord Chesterfield, who had been appointed chamberlain to the queen, tells us: "Although James, in consequence of his near connection with the sovereign, might have saluted the royal bride, he did not avail himself of this privilege, out of a delicate regard to his majesty's feelings, that he might be the first man to offer that compliment to his queen; she coming out of a country where it was not the fashion." The Duke of York presented some noblemen who had accompanied him; after which she introduced the members of her suite. The queen and her brother-in-law then held a conversation in the Spanish language, when James assured her of his affection, and besought her to accept his services. To these compliments she replied in like manner, when he arose to depart. The queen advanced three paces with him, not withstanding that he protested against such courtesy, bidding her remember her rank. At this she smiled, and answered with much sweetness, "She wished to do that out of affection, which she was not obliged to do"--a reply which made a favourable impression on his mind. Whilst she continued on board, the duke and his suite visited her daily, entering freely into conversation with her, and finding her "a most agreeable lady." Probably at the desire of the king, she left the ship before his arrival, and was conveyed to his majesty's house at Portsmouth, where she was received by the Countess of Suffolk, first lady of the bedchamber, and four other ladies who had been appointed members of her household. One of her first requests to these was--as may be learned from a letter of Lord Sandwich, preserved in the Bodleian library--"that they would put her in that habit they thought would be most pleasing to the king." Before leaving the "Royal Charles" she spoke to all the officers of the ship, thanked them for their services, and permitted them to kiss her hand. She then presented a collar of gold to the captain, and gave money to be distributed among the crew.

When at length the parliamentary business was concluded, the king found himself in readiness to depart. The last words he addressed to his faithful commons before starting are worth recording: "The mention of my wife's arrival," said he, in the pleasant familiar tone it was his wont to use, "puts me in mind to desire you to put that compliment upon her, that her entrance into this town may be made with more decency than the ways will now suffer it to be; and to that purpose I pray you would quickly pass such laws as are before you, in order to the mending those ways, that she may not find Whitehall surrounded with water."

At nine o'clock on the night of the 19th of May, his majesty left London in Lord Northumberland's carriage, on his way to Portsmouth. Arriving at Kingston an hour later, he entered Lord Chesterfield's coach, which awaited him there by appointment, and drove to Guildford, at which town he slept the night. In the morning he was up betimes, and posted to Portsmouth, where he arrived at noon. The queen, being ill of a slight fever, was yet in bed: but the king, all impatient to see the bride which heaven had sent him, sought admittance to her chamber. The poor princess evidently did not look to advantage; for his majesty told Colonel Legg he thought at first glance "they had brought him a bat instead of a woman." On further acquaintance, however, she seemed to have afforded more pleasure to the king's sight, for the next day he expressed the satisfaction he felt concerning her, in a letter addressed to the lord chancellor, which is preserved in the library of the British Museum, and runs as follows:

"PORTSMOUTH, 21st May
(Eight in the Morning).

"I arrived here yesterday about two in the afternoon, and, as soon as I had shifted myself, I went into, my wife's chamber, whom I found in bed, by reason of a little cough and some inclination to a fever: but I believe she will find herself very well in the morning when she wakes. I can now only give you an account of what I have seen abed, which, in short, is, her face is not so exact as to be called a beauty, though her eyes are excellent good, and not anything in her face that in the least degree can shock one: on the contrary, she hath as much agreeableness in her looks altogether as ever I saw; and if I have any skill in physiognomy, which I think I have, she must be as good a woman as ever was born. Her conversation, as much as I can perceive, is very good, for she has wit enough, and a most agreeable voice. You would wonder to see how well acquainted we are already. In a word, I think myself very happy; for I am confident our two humours will agree very well together. I have no more to say: my Lord Lieutenant will give you an account of the rest."

The king was attended by Lord Sandwich during this interview, and his lordship, in a letter addressed to the lord chancellor, informed him the meeting between his majesty and the infanta. "hath been with much contentment on both sides, and that we are like to be very happy in their conjunction." Next morning the Countess of Suffolk, and other ladies appointed to wait upon the bride, dressed her according to the English fashion, in "a habit they thought would be most pleasing to the king," in which she was married. The ceremony was first performed according to the rites of the Catholic Church, by the Rev. Lord Aubigny, brother to the Duke of Richmond, in the queen's bedchamber; that apartment being selected for the purpose, as affording a privacy necessary to be maintained, by reason of the prejudice then existing towards Catholicism. There were present the Duke of York, Philip, afterwards Cardinal Howard, and five Portuguese, all of whom were bound over to keep the strictest secrecy concerning what they witnessed. Later in the day, Dr. Sheldon, Bishop of London, married their majesties according to the form prescribed by the Church of England. The latter ceremony took place in the presence chamber. A rail divided the apartment, at the upper part of which the king and queen, the bishops, the Spanish Ambassador, and Sir Richard Fanshaw stood; the lower portion being crowded by the court. When Dr. Sheldon had declared their majesties married, the Countess of Suffolk, according to a custom of the time, detached the ribbons from the bride's dress, and, cutting them in pieces, distributed them amongst those present.

Feasting, balls, and diversions of all kinds followed the celebration of the royal nuptials, and for a time the king was delighted with his bride. Four days after the marriage he writes again to the lord chancellor in most cheerful tone:

"My brother will tell you of all that passes here, which I hope will be to your satisfaction. I am sure 'tis so much to mine that I cannot easily tell you how happy I think myself, and must be the worst man living (which I hope I am not) if I be not a good husband. I am confident never two humours were better fitted together than ours are. We cannot stir from hence till Tuesday, by reason that there is not carts to be had to-morrow to transport all our GUARDE INFANTAS, without which there is no stirring: so you are not to expect me till Thursday night at Hampton Court."

They did not reach the palace until the 29th of May, that being the king's birthday, and, moreover, the anniversary of his entrance into London; a date which the Queen's arrival now caused to be celebrated with triple magnificence and joy. When the coach that conveyed their majesties drew near, the whole palace seemed astir with happy excitement. Double lines of soldiers, both horse and foot, lined the way from the gates to the entrance. In the great hall the lord chancellor, foreign ambassadors, judges, and councillors of state awaited to pay homage to their majesties; whilst in various apartments were the nobility and men of quality, with their ladies, ranged according to their rank, being all eager to kiss the new queen's hand. Sure never was such show of gladness. Bells rang people cheered, bonfires blazed.

In the evening news was brought that the Duchess of York was being rowed to Hampton from town; hearing which, the king, with a blithe heart, betook his way to meet her through the garden, now bright with spring flowers and fragrant with sweet scents, till he arrived at the gate by which the silver streak of the pleasant Thames flowed past. And presently on this calm May eve the sound of oars splashing in the tide was heard, and anon a barge came in sight, hung with silken curtains and emblazoned with the arms of royalty. From this the Duchess of York disembarked, aided by the king. When she had offered her congratulations to him, he, taking her hand, led her to his bride, that such fair speeches might be repeated to her majesty. And coming into the queen's presence the duchess would have gone upon her knees and kissed her majesty's hand; but Catherine raised her in her arms, and kissed her on the cheek. Then amidst much joy the happy evening waned to night.

The royal palace of Hampton Court, in which Charles had decided on spending his honeymoon, had been raised by the magnificent Wolsey in the plenitude of his power as a place of recreation. Since his downfall it had been used by royalty as a summer residence, it being in truth a stately pleasure house. The great pile contained upwards of four hundred rooms. The principal apartments had cedar or gilded and frescoed ceilings, and walls hung with rare tapestries and curtains heavy with gold. Moreover, these rooms contained furniture of most skilful design and costly manufacture, and were adorned by the choice works of such masters of their art as Holbein, Bellini, Vansomer, Rubens, and Raphael; and withal enriched with Indian cabinets, such as never were seen in England before, which the queen had brought with her from Portugal.

The great hall had been the scene of many sumptuous banquets. The chapel was rich in carved designs. Her majesty's bedroom, with its curtains of crimson silk, its vast mirror and toilet of beaten and massive gold, was a splendid apartment--the more so from its state bed, which Evelyn says was "an embroidery of silver on crimson velvet, and cost L8,000, being a present made by the States of Holland, when his majesty returned, and had formerly been given by them to our king's sister, ye Princess of Orange, and being bought of her againe, was now presented to ye king." Around this noble residence, where the court was wont to tarry in summer months, stretched broad and flowerful gardens, with wide parterres, noble statues, sparkling fountains, and marble vases; and beyond lay the park, planted "with swete rows of lime-trees."

And here all day long, in the fair summer time of this year, pleasure held boundless sway. Sauntering in balmy gardens, or seeking shelter from sun-rays in green glades and leafy groves, their majesties, surrounded by their brilliant court, chased bright hours away in frolic and pleasantry from noon till night. Then revelry, gaining new life, began once more, when courtly figures danced graceful measures to sounds of mirthful strains, under the lustre of innumerable lights.

For a while it seemed as if a brave prospect of happiness was in store for the young queen. Her love for her husband, her delight in his affection, her pride in his accomplishments, together with her simplicity, innocence, and naivete, completely won his heart. These claims to his affection were, moreover, strengthened by the charms of her person. Lord Chesterfield, a man whom experience of the sex had made critical, writes that she "was exactly shaped, has lovely hands, excellent eyes, a good countenance, a pleasing voice, fine hair, and, in a word, what an understanding man would wish for in a wife." Notwithstanding the attractions of her majesty's person which he enumerates, he adds his fears that "all these will hardly make things run in the right channel; but, if it should, our court will require a new modelling." In this note of alarm he forebodes danger to come. A man of his majesty's character, witty and careless, weak and voluptuous, was not likely to reconstruct his court, or reclaim it from ways he loved. Nor was his union calculated to exercise a lasting impression on him. The affection he bore his wife in the first weeks of their married life was due to the novelty he found in her society, together with the absence of temptation in the shape of his mistress. Constancy to the marriage vow was scarcely to be expected from a man whose morals had never been shackled by restraint; yet faithlessness to a bride was scarcely to be anticipated ere the honeymoon had waned. This was, however, the unhappy fate which awaited Catherine of Braganza.

It happened early in the month of June, whilst the court was at Hampton, my Lady Castlemaine, who had remained in town through illness, gave birth to a second child. The infant was baptized Charles Palmer, adopted by the king as his own, and as such subsequently created Duke of Southampton. This event seemed to renew all his majesty's tenderness towards her. Wearied by the charm of innocence in the person of his wife, his weak nature yielded to the attraction of vice in that of his mistress. He, therefore, frequently left Hampton Court that he might ride to London, visit the countess, and fritter away some hours in her presence; being heedless alike of the insult he dealt the queen, and the scandal he gave the nation.

The while my Lord Castlemaine lived with the lady who shared his title, and whom he called his wife; but their continuance to abide in harmony and goodwill was, soon after the birth of this child, interrupted for ever. My lord was certainly a loyal subject, but he was likewise a religious man, as may be judged, not by that which has been recorded, but from the narration which follows. Having been bred a Catholic, he was anxious his wife's son should be enrolled a member of the same community. To this end he had him baptized by a priest, a proceeding of which the king wholly disapproved; not because his majesty was attached to any religion in particular, but rather that he resented interference with the infant whom he rested satisfied was his own child. Accordingly, by the king's command, Lady Castlemaine's son was rebaptized by the rector of St. Margaret's, Westminster, in the presence of his majesty, the Earl of Oxford, and the Countess of Suffolk, first lady of the bedchamber to the queen and aunt to the king's mistress.

This exasperated my Lord Castlemaine to such a degree that high words passed between him and his lady: on which he resolved to part from her for ever. However, she was more prompt to act in the matter than he; for, taking advantage of his absence one day, she packed up her jewels, plate, and household treasures, and departed to the residence of her uncle, Colonel Edward Villiers, at Richmond. This step was probably taken, if not by his majesty's suggestion, at least with his full approval; for the house she selected brought her within an easy distance of Hampton Court, into which the king designed promptly to introduce her.

Now rumour of the king's liason had spread beyond the English nation, and had been whispered even at the secluded court of Portugal, into the ears of the bride elect. And the queen regent, dreading the trouble this might draw upon her daughter, had counselled her never to admit his majesty's mistress into her presence. This advice the young queen determined to act upon; and accordingly when Charles, a couple of days after their marriage, presented her with a list of those appointed to her household--amongst whom was my Lady Castlemaine--her majesty drew a pen across the name of the dreaded favourite. The king, if surprised or indignant, made no remark at the time, but none the less held to the resolution he had taken of appointing the countess a lady of the bedchamber. No further attempt of intruding his mistress's presence upon his wife was made until Lady Castlemaine came to Richmond.

It happened on the afternoon of the day on which the favourite arrived her majesty sat in the great drawing-room, surrounded by a brilliant throng of noble and beautiful women and gay and gallant men. The windows of the apartment stood open; outside fountains splashed in the sun; music played in a distant glade: and all the world seemed glad. And as the queen listened to pleasant sounds of wit and gossip, murmuring around her, the courtiers, at sound of a well-known footstep, suddenly ceasing their discourse, fell back on either side adown the room. At that moment the king entered, leading a lady apparelled in magnificent attire, the contour of whose face and outline of whose figure distinguished her as a woman of supreme and sensuous loveliness.

His majesty, suceedingly rich in waving feathers, glittering satins, and fluttering ribbons, returned the gracious bows of his courtiers to right and left; and, unconscious of the curious and perplexed looks they interchanged, advanced to where his wife sat, and introduced my Lady Castlemaine. Her majesty bowed and extended her hand, which the countess, having first courtesyed profoundly, raised to her lips. The queen either had not caught the name, or had disassociated it from that of her husband's mistress; but in an instant the character of the woman presented, and the insult the king had inflicted, flashed upon her mind. Coming so suddenly, it was more than she could bear; all colour fled from her face, tears rushed to her eyes, blood gushed from her nostrils, and she fell senseless to the floor.

Such strong evidence of the degree in which his young wife felt the indignity forced upon her, by no means softened his majesty's heart towards her, but rather roused his indignation at what he considered public defiance of his authority. But as his nature was remote from roughness, and his disposition inclined to ease, he at first tried to gain his desire by persuasion, and therefore besought the queen she would suffer his mistress to become a lady of the bedchamber. But whenever the subject was mentioned to her majesty, she burst into tears, and would not give heed to his words. Charles therefore, incensed on his side, deserted her company, and sought the society of those ever ready to entertain him. And as the greater number of his courtiers were fully as licentious as himself, they had no desire he should become subject to his wife, or alter the evil tenor of his ways.

Therefore in their conversation they cited to him the example of his grandfather, King James I., of glorious memory, who had not dissembled his passions, nor suffered the same to become a reproach to those who returned his love; but had obliged his queen to bear with their company, and treat them with grace and favour; and had, moreover, raised his natural children to the degree of princes of the blood. They told Charles he had inherited the disposition of his grandsire, and they were sure he would treat the objects of his affection in like manner as that king had done. Lady Castlemaine, her friends moreover argued, had, by reason of her love for his majesty, parted from her husband; and now that she had been so publicly made an object of the queen's indignation, she would, if abandoned by him, meet with rude contempt from the world. To such discourses as these the king lent a willing ear, the more as they encouraged him to act according to his desires. He was therefore fully determined to support his mistress; and firmly resolved to subdue his wife.

Meanwhile, all joyousness vanished from the court; the queen seemed thoroughly dejected, the king bitterly disappointed, and the courtiers grievously disturbed. Moreover, rumours of the trouble which had risen between their majesties became noised abroad, and gave the people occasion of speaking indifferently of their lord the king. Now Charles in his unhappiness betook himself to the chancellor, who was not only his sage adviser and trusted friend, but who had already gained the esteem and confidence of the queen. My lord, by reason of his services to the late king, and his friendship towards his present majesty, took to himself the privilege of speaking with freedom and boldness whenever his advice was asked by the monarch. As Burnet tells us, the worthy chancellor would never make any application to the king's mistress, nor allow anything to pass the seal in which she was named; nor would he ever consent to visit her, which the bishop considered "was maintaining the decencies of virtue in a very solemn manner." The king knowing my lord was the only one of all the strangers surrounding the queen whom she believed devoted to her service, and to whose advice she would hearken with trust, therefore bade him represent to her the advisability of obedience.

Whereon the chancellor boldly pointed out to him "the hard- heartedness and cruelty of laying such a command upon the queen, which flesh and blood could not comply with." He also begged to remind the monarch of what he had heard him say upon the occasion of a like indignity being offered by a neighbouring king to his queen, inasmuch as he had compelled her to endure the presence of his mistress at court. On hearing which King Charles avowed it was "a piece of ill-nature that he could never be guilty of; and if ever he should be guilty of having a mistress after he had a wife, which he hoped he should never be, she should never come where his wife was; he would never add that to the vexation, of which she would have enough without it." Finally my lord added that pursuit of the course his majesty had resolved on, was a most certain way to lose the respect and affections of his people; that the excesses he had already fallen into had in some degree lost him ground in their good esteem, but that his continuance of them would "break the hearts of all his friends, and be grateful only to those who desired the destruction of monarchy."

Charles heard him with some impatience, but in his reply betrayed that graciousness of manner which, never forsaking him, went far in securing the favour of those with whom he conversed. He commenced by telling the chancellor he felt assured his words were prompted by the affection in which he held him; and then having by a pathway of courteous speeches found his way to the old man's heart, his majesty broached the subject uppermost in his mind. His conscience and his honour, he said, for he laid claim to both, led him to repair the ruin he had caused Lady Castlemaine's reputation by promoting her to the position of a lady of the bedchamber; and his gratitude prompted him to avow a friendship for her, "which he owed as well to the memory of her father as to her own person," and therefore he would not be restrained from her company and her conversation.

Moreover, he had proceeded so far in the business, that if not successful Lady Castlemaine would be subjected to all imaginable contempt, and be exposed to universal ridicule. If, he added, the queen conformed to his wishes in this regard, it would be the only hard thing he should ever require of her; and, indeed, she might make it very easy, for my lady must behave with all possible respect in her presence, otherwise she should never see his face again. Then he begged the chancellor to wait upon her majesty, lay bare his arguments, and urge her to receive the countess with some show of favour. The chancellor, though not pleased with his mission, yet in hope of healing private discord and averting public scandal, undertook to counsel the queen to obedience, and accordingly waited on her in her private apartments.

Now her majesty's education had been such as kept her in complete ignorance of the world's ways. The greater part of her life had been spent in the peaceful retirement of a convent, which she left for her mother's country palace, a home scarcely less secluded. Maynard, in a letter preserved in the State Paper Office, written from Lisbon when the royal marriage was proposed, says the infanta, "as sweete a disposition princess as everr was borne," was "bred hugely retired. She hath," he continues, "hardly been tenn tymes out of the palace in her life. In five years tyme she was not out of doores, untill she hurde of his majestie's intentions to make her queen of Ingland, since which she hath been to visit two saintes in the city; and very shortly shee intends to pay her devotion to some saintes in the country."

From a life of innocence she was brought for the first time face to face with vice, by one who should have been foremost in shielding her from its contact. All her training taught her to avoid the contamination sought to be forced upon her; all her new-born love for her husband prompted her to loathe the mistress who shared his affections. A stranger in a strange land, a slighted queen, a neglected wife, an outraged woman, her sufferings were bitter, Her wrongs were hard to bear. Therefore when my lord chancellor came and made known the object of his visit, she broke into a passion of tears, and could not speak from force of sobs that seemed to rend her heart, and wholly choked her utterance.

The chancellor then retired with some dismay, but waited on her again next day, when he found her more calm. She begged he would excuse the outburst of feeling he had witnessed, but added very pitifully that when she thought of her misfortunes "she sometimes gave vent to that passion which was ready to break her heart." The advice, or, as he terms it, "the evidence of his devotion," which the chancellor gave was worthy of a courtier and a philosopher. He told the young queen he doubted "she was little beholden to her education, that had given her no better information of the follies and iniquities of mankind; of which he presumed the climate from whence she came could have given more instances than this cold region would afford." Had she been properly instructed, he furthermore hinted, she would never have thought herself so miserable, or her condition so insupportable; and indeed he could not comprehend the reason of her loud complaint.

At this she could no longer suppress the tears which came into her dark eyes, and cried out she did not expect to find her husband in love with another woman. Then my lord besought her submission to the king; but she remained unshaken in the resolution she had formed. She was ready to ask his majesty's pardon for tiny passion or peevishness she had been guilty of, but added, "the fire appearing in her eyes where the water was," she would never endure the presence of his mistress; and rather than submit to such insult she would "put herself on board any little vessel" and return to Lisbon.

Back went the chancellor, with a heavy heart and a troubled face, to the king. He softened the queen's words as much as possible, and assured his majesty her resistance to his will proceeded "from the great passion of love she had for him, which transported her beyond the limits of reason." But this excuse, which should have rejoiced a husband's heart, only irritated his majesty's temper. That night a violent quarrel took place between the husband and wife, yet scarce more than bride and bridegroom. When they had retired, the king--being inflamed with the words of his courtiers, who assured him the dispute had now resolved itself into a question of who should govern--reproached the queen with stubbornness and want of duty; upon which she answered by charging him with tyranny and lack of affection. One word borrowed another, till, in his anger, he used threats when she declared she would leave the kingdom. "The passion and noise of the night reached too many ears to be a secret the next day," says the chancellor, "and the whole court was full of that which ought to have been known to nobody."

When the royal pair met next morning, they neither looked at nor spoke to each other. Days passed full of depression and gloom for the young wife, who spent most of her time in seclusion, whilst the king sought distraction in the society of his courtiers. The chancellor, after his second interview with the queen, absented himself from court, not wishing to be furthermore drawn into a quarrel which he saw himself powerless to heal. During his absence the king wrote him a letter which evinced determination to carry out his design. This epistle, preserved in the library of the British Museum, runs as follows:

"HAMPTON COURT, THURSDAY MORNING.

"I forgot when you were here last to desire you to give Broderich good council not to meddle any more with what concerns my Lady Castlemaine, and to let him have a care how he is the author of any scandalous reports; for if I find him guilty of any such thing, I will make him repent it to the last moment of his life.

"And now I am entered on this matter, I think it very necessary to give you a little good council in it, lest you may think that by making a farther stir in the business you may divert me from my resolution, which all the world shall never do; and I wish I may be unhappy in this world and in the world to come, if I fail in the least degree of what I have resolved, which is of making my Lady Castlemaine of my wife's bedchamber. And whosoever I find in any endeavours to hinder this resolution of mine (except it be only to myself), I will be his enemy to the last moment of my life. You know how true a friend I have been to you; if you will oblige me eternally, make this business as easy to me as you can, of what opinion soever you are of; for I am resolved to go through with this matter, let what will come on it, which again I solemnly swear before Almighty God.

"Therefore, if you desire to have the continuance of my friendship, meddle no more with this business except it be to bear down all false and scandalous reports, and to facilitate what I am sure my honour is so much concerned in. And whosoever I find is to be my Lady Castlemaine's enemy in this matter, I do promise, upon my word, to be his enemy as long as I live. You may show this letter to my lord lieutenant, and if you have both a mind to oblige me, carry yourselves like friends to me in this matter."

The chancellor was, soon after the receipt of this letter, summoned to Hampton Court, when his majesty, with some passion, declared the quarrel was spoken of everywhere, and wholly to his disadvantage. He was therefore anxious to end it at once, and commanded my lord to wait again upon the queen, and persuade her to his wishes. The chancellor informed the king he "had much rather spend his pains in endeavouring to convert his majesty from pursuing his resolution, which he did in his conscience believe to be unjust, than in persuading her majesty to comply with it, which yet he would very heartily do." Saying which, he departed on his errand; to which the queen answered, her conscience would not allow her to consent that the king's mistress should be one of her attendants. Then the chancellor besought his royal master, saying he hoped he might be no more consulted with, nor employed concerning an affair, in which he had been so unsuccessful.

By reason of this opposition the king was now more resolved than ever to honour his mistress and humble his wife; and, with a cruelty unusual to his nature, determined to break her majesty's spirit, and force her into obedience.

On coming to England the young bride had brought in her train some Portuguese gentlewomen and nobles, whom she was anxious to employ in various offices about her person, that she might not feel quite in the midst of strangers. These his majesty believed were in some measure answerable for the queen's resistance to his desires, and therefore decided on sending them back to their own country; knowing moreover, this was an act which would sorely grieve her majesty. Therefore, without first deigning to inform, the Queen of Portugal, he named a day for them to embark. This was a sad blow to the hopes of the Portuguese, who had entertained high expectations of being placed in advantageous circumstances about the court; nor did the king by any show of liberality help to lessen their disappointment. The queen was indeed afflicted at the prospect of their loss; and her mortification was the greater because, having received no money since she came into the kingdom, it was out of her power to make them compensation for their services.

The thought of being deprived of her people in her present unhappy condition rendered her so miserable, that she besought the king to allow some of them to remain; and, likewise, she employed others to make the same petition on her behalf. Therefore one of her ladies, the Countess of Penalva, who had been her attendant since childhood, and who now, because of weakness of sight and other infirmities, scarce ever left her apartments, was allowed to stay, as were likewise "those necessary to her religion," and some servants employed in her kitchen.

But these were not the only means the king took to thwart her majesty and all connected with her. He upbraided the Portuguese ambassador for not having instructed the queen "enough to make her unconcerned in what had been before her time, and in which she could not reasonably be concerned." Moreover he reproached him with the fact of the queen regent having sent only half the marriage portion; and so harassed was the ambassador by royal wrath, that he took to his bed, "and sustained such a fever as brought him to the brink of the grave." Regarding that part of the dowry which had arrived, Charles behaved in an equally ungracious and undignified manner. He instructed the officers of the revenue to use all strictness in its valuation, and not make any allowances. And because Diego de Silva--whom the queen had designed for her treasurer, and who on that account had undertaken to see the money paid in London--did not make sufficient haste in the settlement of his accounts, he was by the king's command cast into prison.

These various affronts grievously afflicted her majesty, but the insults she had to endure before the whole court wounded her far more. For meanwhile the king lodged his mistress in the royal household, and every day she was present in the drawing-room, when his majesty entered into pleasant conversation with her, while his wife sat patiently by, as wholly unheeded as if unseen. When the queen occasionally rose and indignantly left the apartment to relieve her anguish by a storm of tears, it may be one or two of the courtiers followed her, but the vast number of the brilliant throng remained; and Lord Clarendon adds, "they, too, often said those things aloud which nobody ought to have whispered."

Charles no longer appeared with the grave and troubled expression his face had worn at the commencement of the quarrel, but seemed full of pleasantry and eager for enjoyment. Those surrounding him took their tone from the monarch, and followed his example the more because he "did shew no countenance to any that belong to the queen." Her majesty, on the contrary, took her misery to heart, and showed dejection by the sadness of her face and listlessness of her gait. There was universal diversion in all company but hers; sounds of laughter rang all day and far into the night in every apartment of the palace but those appropriated to her use. Charles steadily avoided her, and the attendants who replaced her countrywomen showed more deference to the king's mistress than to his queen. The solitary condition to which the helpless foreigner and forsaken wife was reduced increased day by day, her gloom deepened hour by hour, until, worn out by the unequal conflict, her spirit broke. "At last," says Lord Clarendon, "when it was least expected or suspected, the queen on a sudden let herself fall, first to conversation, and then to familiarity, and even, in the same instant, to a confidence with the lady; was merry with her in public, talked kindly of her, and in private used no lady more friendly."

From that hour her majesty never interfered with the king's amours, and never again did a quarrel rise between them even to the day of his death.

Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works