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

Court customs in the days of the merry monarch.--Dining in public.--The Duke of Tuscany's supper to the king.-- Entertainment of guests by mountebanks.--Gaming at court.--Lady Castlemaine's losses.--A fatal duel.--Dress of the period.-- Riding-habits first seen.--His majesty invents a national costume.--Introduction of the penny post.--Divorce suits are known.--Society of Antiquaries.--Lord Worcester's inventions. --The Duchess of Newcastle.

Few courts have been more brilliant than that of the merry monarch. All the beauty of fair women, the gallantry of brave men, and the gaiety of well-approved wits could compass, perpetually surrounded his majesty, making the royal palace a lordly pleasure house. Noble banquets, magnificent balls, and brilliant suppers followed each other in quick succession. Three times a week--on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays--the king and queen dined publicly in ancient state, whilst rare music was discoursed, and many ceremonies observed, amongst these being that each servitor of the royal table should eat some bread dipped in sauce of the dish he bore. On these occasions meats for the king's table were brought from the kitchen by yeomen of the guard, or beef-eaters. These men, selected as being amongst the handsomest, strongest, and tallest in England, were dressed in liveries of red cloth, faced with black velvet, having the king's cipher on the back, and on the breast the emblems of the Houses of York and Lancaster. By them the dishes were handed to the gentlemen in waiting, who served royalty upon their knees. "You see," said Charles one day to the Chevalier de Grammont, "how I am waited on." "I thank your majesty for the explanation," said the saucy Frenchman; "I thought they were begging pardon for offering you so bad a dinner." [This mode of serving the sovereign continued unto the coming of George I.]

The costliness and splendour of some royal entertainments require the description of an eye-witness to be fully realized. Evelyn, speaking of a great feast given to the Knights of the Garter in the banqueting-hall, tells us "the king sat on an elevated throne, at the upper end of the table alone, the knights at a table on the right hand, reaching all the length of the roome; over against them a cupboard of rich gilded plate; at the lower end the musick; on the balusters above, wind musick, trumpets, and kettle-drums. The king was served by the lords and pensioners who brought up the dishes. About the middle of the dinner the knights drank the king's health, then the king theirs, when the trumpets and musick plaid and sounded, the guns going off at the Tower. At the banquet came in the queene and stood by the king's left hand hand, but did not sit. Then was the banquetting stuff flung about the roome profusely. In truth the crowd was so great that I now staied no longer than this sport began for fear of disorder. The cheere was extraordinary, each knight having forty dishes to his messe, piled up five or six high."

Concerning the habit mentioned by Evelyn, of mobs rushing into banquet-halls, in order to possess themselves of all on which they could lay hands, many instances are mentioned. The Duke of Tuscany, amongst other authorities, narrates the inconvenience it caused at a supper he gave the king. When his majesty drove to the duke's residence he was preceded by trumpeters and torch- bearers, attended by the horse-guards and a retinue of courtiers, and accompanied by a vast crowd. On alighting from the coach the Duke of Tuscany, together with the noblemen and gentlemen of his household, received and conducted him through passages lighted by torches to the banquet-hall. From the ceiling of this saloon was suspended a chandelier of rock crystal, blazing with tapers; beneath it stood a circular table, at the upper end of which was placed a chair of state for the king. The whole entertainment was costly and magnificent. As many as eighty dishes were set upon the table; foreign wines, famous for great age and delicate flavour, sparkled in goblets of chased gold; and finally, a dessert of Italian fruits and Portuguese sweetmeats was served. But scarce had this been laid upon the board, when the impatient crowd which had gathered round the house and forced its way inside to witness the banquet, now violently burst into the saloon and carried away all that lay before them. Neither the presence of the king nor the appearance of his soldiers guarding the entrance with carbines was sufficient to prevent entrance or hinder pillage. Charles, used to such scenes, left the table and retired into the duke's private apartments.

A quaint and curious account of a less ceremonious and more convivial feast, also graced by the king's presence, was narrated by Sir Hugh Cholmely to a friend and gossip. This supper was given by Sir George Carteret, a man of pleasant humour, and moreover treasurer of the navy. By the time the meats were removed, the king and his courtiers waxed exceedingly merry, when Sir William Armorer, equerry to his majesty, came to him and swore, "'By God, sir,' says he, 'you are not so kind to the Duke of York of late as you used to be.' 'Not I?' says the king. 'Why so?' 'Why,' says he, 'if you are, let us drink his health.' 'Why, let us,' says the king. Then he fell on his knees and drank it; and having done, the king began to drink it. 'Nay, sir,' says Armorer; 'by God, you must do it on your knees!' So he did, and then all the company; and having done it, all fell acrying for joy, being all maudlin and kissing one another, the king the Duke of York, the Duke of York the king; and in such a maudlin pickle as never people were."

Throughout this reign the uttermost hospitality and good-fellowship abounded. Scarce a day passed that some noble house did not throw open its doors to a brilliant throng of guests; few nights grew to dawn that the vicinities of St. James's and Covent Garden were not made brilliant by the torches of those accompanying revellers to their homes. The fashionable hour for dinner was three of the clock, and for greater satisfaction of guests it now became the mode to entertain them after that meal with performances of mountebanks and musicians, Various diaries inform us of this custom. When my Lord Arlington had bidden his friends to a feast, he subsequently diverted them by the tricks of a fellow who swallowed a knife in a horn sheath, together with several pebbles, which he made rattle in his stomach, and produced again, to the wonder and amusement of all who beheld him. [At a great dinner given by this nobleman, Evelyn, who was present, tells us that Lord Stafford, the unfortunate nobleman afterwards executed on Tower Hill, "rose from the table in some disorder, because there were roses stuck about the fruite when the descert was set on the table; such an antipathie it seems he had to them, as once Lady St. Leger also had, and to that degree, that, as Sirr Kenelm Digby tell us, laying but a rose upon her cheeke when she was asleepe, it raised a blister; but Sir Kenelm was a teller of strange things."] The master of the mint, worthy Mr. Slingsby, a man of finer taste, delighted his guests with the performances of renowned good masters of music, one of whom, a German, played to great perfection on an instrument with five wire strings called the VOIL D'AMORE; whilst my Lord Sunderland treated his visitors to a sight of Richardson, the renowned fire eater, who was wont to devour brimstone on glowing coals; melt a beer-glass and eat it up; take a live coal on his tongue, on which he put a raw oyster, and let it remain there till it gaped and was quite broiled; take wax, pitch and sulphur, and drink them down flaming; hold a fiery hot iron between his teeth, and throw it about like a stone from hand to hand, and perform various other prodigious feats.

Other means of indoor amusement were practised in those days, which seem wholly incompatible with the gravity of the nation in these latter times. Pepys tells us that going to the court one day he found the Duke and Duchess of York, with all the great ladies, sitting upon a carpet on the ground playing "I love my love with an A, because he is so-and-so; and I hate him with an A, because of this and that;" and some of the ladies were mighty witty, and all of them very merry. Grown persons likewise indulged in games of blind man's buff, and amusements of a like character; whilst at one time, the king, queen, and the whole court falling into much extravagance, as Burnet says, "went about masked, and came into houses unknown, and danced there with a great deal of wild frolic. In all this they were so disguised, that without being in the secret, none could distinguish them. They were carried about in hackney chairs. Once the queen's chairmen, not knowing who she was, went from her; so she was alone and was much disturbed, and came to Whitehall in a hackney coach; some say it was in a cart."

Dancing was also a favourite and common amusement amongst all classes. Scarce a week went by that Whitehall was not lighted up for a ball, at which the king, queen, and courtiers danced bransles, corants, and French figures; [The bransle, or brawl, had all the characteristics of a country-dance; several persons taking part in it, and all at various times joining hands. The corant was a swift lively dance, in which two persons only took part, and was not unlike our modern galop.] and no night passed but such entertainments were likewise held in the city. Billiards and chess were also played, whilst gambling became a ruling passion. The queen, Duchess of York, and Duchess of Cleveland had each her card-table, around which courtiers thronged to win and lose prodigious sums. The latter being a thorough rake at heart, delighted in the excitement which hazard afforded; and the sums changing owners at her hoard were sometimes enormous. Occasionally she played for a thousand, or fifteen hundred pounds at a cast, and in a single night lost as much as twenty-five hundred guineas. It is related that once when playing basset she lost all her money; but, being unwilling to retire, and hopeful of regaining her losses, she asked young Churchill, on whom she had bestowed many favours, to lend her twenty pieces. Though the wily youth had a thousand before him on the table, he coolly refused her request, on the plea that the bank-- which he was then keeping--never lent. "Not a person in the place," says the narrator of this anecdote, "but blamed him; as to the duchess, her resentment burst out into a bleeding at her nose, and breaking of her lace, without which aid it is believed her vexation had killed her on the spot."

The courtly Evelyn speaks of a certain Twelfth-night, when the king opened the revels in his privy chamber by throwing dice, and losing one hundred pounds; and Pepys describes the groom-porters' rooms where gambling greatly obtained, and "where persons of the best quality do sit down with people of any, though meaner." Cursing and swearing, grumbling and rejoicing, were heard here to an accompanying rattle of guineas; the whole causing dense confusion. And amongst the figures crouching round the tables of this hell, that of my Lord St. Albans was conspicuous. So great, indeed, was his passion for gambling, that when approaching his eightieth year, and quite blind, he was unable to renounce his love for cards, but with the help of a servant who named them to him, indulged himself in this way as of yore.

As may be expected, disputes, frequently ending in duels, continually arose betwixt those who gambled. Although the king had, on his restoration, issued a proclamation against this common practice, threatening such as engaged in it with displeasure, declaring them incapable of holding any office in his service, and forbidding them to appear at court, yet but little attention was paid his words, and duels continually took place, Though most frequently resorted to as a means of avenging outraged honour, they were occasionally the result of misunderstanding. A pathetic story is told of a fatal encounter, caused by a trifle light as air, which took place in the year 1667 at Covent Garden, between Sir Henry Bellasis and Tom Porter --the same witty soul who wrote a play called "The Villain," which was performed at the Duke's Theatre, and described as "a pleasant tragedy."

These worthy gentlemen and loyal friends loved each other exceedingly. One fatal day, both were bidden to dine with Sir Robert Carr, at whose table it was known all men drank freely; and having feasted, they two talked apart, when bluff Sir Henry, giving words of counsel to honest Tom, from force of earnestness spoke louder than his wont. Marvelling at this, some of those standing apart said to each other, "Are they quarrelling, that they talk so high?" overhearing which the baronet replied in a merry tone, "No, I would have you know I never quarrel but I strike; and take that as a rule of mine." At these words Tom Porter, being anxious, after the manner of those who have drunk deep, to apprehend offence in speech of friend or foe, cried out he would like to see the man in England that durst give him a blow. Accepting this as a challenge, Sir Henry dealt him a stroke on the ear, which the other would have returned in anger but that they were speedily parted.

And presently Tom Porter, leaving the house full of resentment for the injury he had received, and of resolution to avenge it, met Mr. Dryden the poet, to whom he recounted the story. He concluded by requesting he might have his boy to bring him word which way Sir Henry Bellasis would drive, for fight he would that night, otherwise he felt sure they should be friends in the morning, and the blow would rest upon him. Dryden complying with his request, Tom Porter, still inflamed by fury, went to a neighbouring coffee-house, when presently word arrived Sir Harry's coach was coming that way. On this Tom Porter rushed out, stopped the horses, and bade the baronet alight. "Why," said the man, who but an hour before had been his best friend, "you will not hurt me in coming out, will you?" "No," answered the other shortly. Sir Henry then descended, and both drew their swords. Tom Porter asked him if he were ready, and hearing he was, they fought desperately, till of a sudden a sharp cry was heard; Sir Henry's weapon fell upon the ground, and he placed one hand to his side, from which blood flowed freely. Then calling his opponent to him, he looked in his face reproachfully, kissed him lovingly, and bade him seek safety. "For, Tom," said he, struggling hard to speak, "thou hast hurt me; but I will make shift to stand upon my legs till thou mayest withdraw, and the world not take notice of you, for," continued he, with much tenderness, "I would not have thee troubled for what thou hast done." And the little crowd who had gathered around carried him to his coach and twenty days later they followed him to his grave.

Throughout this merry reign, many fantastic changes took place in the costumes of courtiers and their followers. At the restoration, the dress most common to women of all ranks consisted of a gown with a laced stomacher and starched neckerchief, a sad-coloured cloak with a French hood, and a high- crowned hat. Such habiliments, admitting of little variety and less ornament, found no favour in the eyes of those who returned from foreign courts with the king, and therefore a change was gradually effected. The simple gown of wool and cotton gave place to loose and flowing draperies of silk and satin; the stiff neckerchief was removed to display fair shoulders and voluptuous breasts; the hat was bedecked by feathers of rare plumage and rich colour; the cloaks changed hues from sad to gay; the hoods being of "yellow bird's eye," and other bright tints. Indeed, the prodigal manner in which ladies of quality now exposed their bosoms, though pleasing to the court, became a matter of grave censure to worthy men. One of these in a pamphlet, entitled "A Just and Seasonable Reprehension of Naked Breasts and Shoulders," charges women of fashion with "overlacing their gown bodies, and so thrusting up their breasts in order that they might show them half-naked." It was not only at balls and in chambers of entertainment, he avowed, they appeared in this manner, but likewise at church, where their dress was "not only immodest, but sometimes impudent and lascivious;" for they braved all dangers to have the satisfaction of being seen, and the consolation of giving pleasure.

The riding-habit, first introduced in 1664 caused considerable notice, and no small amount of mirth. The garb, as it was called, consisted of a doublet buttoned up the breast, a coat with long skirts, a periwig and tall hat, so that women clad in this fashion might be mistaken for men, if it were not for the petticoat which dragged under the coat. At the commencement of the reign, ladies of the court wore their hair after the French fashion, cut short in front and frizzed upon the forehead. When the queen arrived, her hair was arranged A LA NEGLIGENCE, a mode declared mighty pretty; but presently a fashion came in vogue of wearing "false locks set on wyres to make them stand at a distance from the head; as fardingales made the clothes stand out in Queen Elizabeth's reign." Painting the face, which had been practised during the Commonwealth, became fashionable; as did likewise the use of patches and vizards or masks; which from the convenience they afforded wearers whilst witnessing an immoral play, or conducting a delicate intrigue, came greatly into use.

According to Randal Holmes's notes on dress, in the Harleian Library, the male costume at the restoration consisted of "a short-waisted doublet, and petticoat breeches--the lining, being lower than the breeches, is tied above the knees. The breeches are ornamented with ribands up to the pocket, and half their breadth upon the thigh; the waistband is set about with ribands, and the shirt hanging out over them." This dress gradually increased in richness and ornamentation: the doublet and breeches being changed from cloth to velvet and satin, the hat trimmed with plumes of gay feathers, and the neck adorned with bands of cambric, trimmed with Flanders and Brussels lace. The perfection and costliness to which the costume eventually reached is best shown by a description of Sir Richard Fanshaw ambassador of the king, as presented in the diary of his spouse. "Sir Richard was dressed," she writes, "in a very rich suit of clothes of a dark FILLEMONTE brocade, laced with silver and gold lace-- nine laces--every one as broad as my hand, and a little silver and gold lace laid between them, both of very curious workmanship; his suit was trimmed with scarlet taffety ribbon; his stockings of white silk upon long scarlet silk ones; his shoes black, with scarlet shoestrings and gaiters; his linen very fine, laced with rich Flanders lace; a black beaver buttoned on the left side with a jewel of twelve hundred pounds' value, a rich curious wrought gold chain, made in the Indies at which hung the king his master's picture, richly set with diamonds; on his fingers he wore two rich rings; his gloves trimmed with the same ribbon as his clothes."

The uttermost extravagance and luxury in dress now obtained; indeed, to such a passion and pride did it reach that the monarch resolved on giving it some check by inventing a suit of plainer pretensions, which should become the national costume, and admit no change.

This determination he solemnly declared to his council in October, 1666, and on the 14th of the month appeared clad in a long vest slashed with white silk, reaching the knee, having the sword girt over it, a loose coat, straight Spanish breeches ruffled with black ribbons, and buskins instead of shoes and stockings. Though the habit was pronounced decent and becoming to his majesty, and was quickly adopted by the courtiers, there were those amongst his friends who offered him a wager he would not persist in wearing it long. At this the king stated his resolution afresh of never changing; but before the month was out he had made an alteration, for inasmuch as the vest being slashed with white, was said by a wag to make the wearers look like magpies, his majesty changed the colour of the silk to black. This "manly and comely habit" might have become permanently the fashion, if the King of France, by way of ridiculing the merry monarch, had not caused his footmen to be clad in like manner. Therefore, in less than two years, this mode gave place to others more fantastical. The vest was retained, but the shape and material were altered; the surcoat of cloth was discarded for velvet and rich plush, adorned with buckles of precious stones and chains of gold; the Spanish leather boots were laid aside for high-heeled shoes with rosettes and silver buckles. Towards the close of the reign the costume became much plainer. Through all these varying fashions the periwig, introduced in 1663, held its own, increasing in length and luxuriance with time. On its first coming into general use, the clergy had cried out against it as ministering to the vanity and extravagance of the age; but in a while many of them adopted its use, for, as Granger remarks, "it was observed that a periwig procured many persons a respect and even veneration which they mere strangers to before, and to which they had not the least claim from their personal merit."

Amongst other strange innovations and various improvements known in this reign, the introduction of a penny post may be considered the most useful. King James I., of happy memory, had, in imitation of like regulations in other countries, established a general post for foreign parts; King Charles I. had given orders to Thomas Witherings, Esquire, his postmaster-general, to settle "a running post or two, to run night and day between Edinburgh, in Scotland, and the city of London, to go thither and back in six days;" but the organization of a penny post, for the conveyance of letters and parcels throughout the capital and suburbs, was reserved for the reign of the merry monarch. This beneficial scheme was originated by an upholsterer named Murray, who communicated it to one William Dockwra, a man who for over ten years had laboured with fidelity in the Custom House. Uniting their efforts, they, with great labour and vast expense, carried the plan into execution in the year 1680,

The principal office was stationed at the residence of William Dockwra, in Lime Street; seven sorting-houses and as many as four hundred receiving-houses were speedily established in the cities of London, Westminster, and the suburbs; and a great number of clerks and messengers were employed to collect, enter, and deliver parcels and letters not exceeding one pound in weight nor ten pounds in value. Stamps were used as an acknowledgment that postage was paid, and likewise to mark the hours when letters were sent out from the offices, by which, in case of delay, its cause might be traced to the messengers; and deliveries took place ten times in the vicinity of the Exchange and Inns of Court, and four times in the suburbs daily. All persons were requested to post their communications before six o'clock in the winter, and seven in the summer, on Saturday nights, "that the many poor men employed may have a little time to provide for their families against the Lord's Day." And it was moreover intimated that upon three days at Christmas, and two at Easter and Whitsuntide, as likewise upon the 30th of January, the post would not be delivered.

From the first this scheme promised success, the manner in which it was carried out being wholly admirable; yet there were many who raised their voices against it persistently. Porters and messengers declared it took away their means of subsistence; whilst those of higher grade were confident it was a contrivance of the papists, which enabled them to carry out their wicked schemes with greater security. But these illusions vanished with time; and the penny post became such a success that Government laid claim to it as a branch of the General Post Office, and annexed its revenues to the Crown. [In the year 1703 Queen Anne bestowed a grant on Elizabeth, Dowager countess of Thanet, to erect a penny post-office in Dublin, similar to that in existence in London.]

Another innovation in this interesting reign were stage-coaches, described as affording "admirable commodiousness both for men and women of better rank, to travel from London and to almost all the villages near this great city, that the like hath not been known in the world, wherein one may be transported to any place, sheltered from foul weather and foul ways, free from endamaging one's health or body by hard jogging or over-violent emotion, and this not only at a low price, as about a shilling for every five miles in a day; for the stage-coaches called flying coaches make forty or fifty miles in a day, as from London to Cambridge or Oxford, and that in the space of twelve hours, not counting the time for dining, setting forth not too early, nor coming in too late."

Likewise were divorce suits introduced whilst Charles II. sat upon the throne for the first time--if the case of Henry VIII. be excepted--when my Lord Rosse, in consequence of the misconduct of his lady, had a bill brought into the House of Lords for dissolving his marriage and enabling him to wed again. There being at this period, 1669, a project for divorcing the king from the queen, it was considered Lord Rosse's suit, if successful, would facilitate a like bill in favour of his majesty. After many and stormy debates his lordship gained his case by a majority of two votes. It is worth noting that two of the lords spiritual, Dr. Cosin, Bishop of Durham, and Dr. Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, voted in favour of the bill.

The social history of this remarkable reign would be incomplete without mention of the grace and patronage which Charles II. extended towards the Society of Antiquaries. This learned body, according to Stow, had been in existence since the days of Elizabeth; but for lack of royal acknowledgment of its worth and lore, was permitted to languish in neglect and finally become extinct. However, under the commonwealth the society had revived, from the fact that numbers of the nobility being unemployed in affairs of state, and having no court to attend, applied themselves whilst in retirement to the study of chemistry, mathematics, mechanism, and natural philosophy. The Duke of Devonshire, Marquis of Worcester, Viscount Brouncker, Honourable Robert Boyle, and Sir Robert Murray, built laboratories, made machines, opened mines, and perfected inventions. When the temper of the times permitted, these men, with various others of like tastes, drew together, held weekly meetings at Gresham College in Bishopsgate Street, discoursed on abstruse subjects, and heard erudite lectures, from Dr. Petty on chemistry, from Dr. Wren on astronomy, from Mr. Laurence Rooke on geometry; so that the Society of Antiquaries may be said to have been founded in the last years of the republic.

Now Charles II., having some knowledge of chemistry and science, looked upon the society with favourable eyes; and in the first year of his restoration desired to become one of its members; expressed satisfaction it had been placed upon a proper basis in his reign; represented the difficulty of its labours; suggested certain investigations, and declared his interest in all its movements. Moreover, in the year 1662 he bestowed on the society a charter in which he styled himself its founder and patron; presented it with a silver mace to be borne before the president on meeting days; and gave it the use of the royal arms for a seal. Nor did his concern for its welfare cease here. He was frequently present at its meetings, and occasionally witnessed, and assisted "with his own hands," in the performance of experiments. Some of these were of a singularly interesting character; amongst which may be mentioned infusion of the blood of an animal into the veins of a man. This took place in the year 1667, the subject being one Arthur Coga, a minister poor in worldly substance, who, in exchange for a guinea, consented to have the operation performed on him. Accordingly two surgeons of great skill and learning, named Lower and King, on a certain day injected twelve ounces of sheep's blood into his veins. After which he smoked an honest pipe in peace, drank a glass of good canary with relish, and found himself no worse in mind or body. And in two days more fourteen ounces of sheep's blood were substituted for eight of his own without loss of virility to him.

Nor were experiments in vivisection unknown to the Royal Society, as it was called, for the "Philosophical Transactions" speak of a dog being tied through the back above the spinal artery, thereby depriving him of motion until the artery was loosened, when he recovered; and again, it is recorded that Dr. Charleton cut the spleen out of a living dog with good success.

The weighty discourses of the learned men who constituted the society frequently delighted his majesty; though it must be confessed he sometimes laughed at them, and once sorely puzzled them by asking the following question. "Supposing," said Charles, assuming a serious expression, and speaking in a solemn tone, "two pails of water were placed in two different scales and weighed alike, and that a live bream or small fish was put into one, now why should not the pail in which it was placed weigh heavier than the other?" Most members were troubled to find the king a fitting reply, and many strange theories were advanced by way of explaining why the pail should not be found heavier, none of them being thought satisfactory. But at last a man sitting far down the table was heard to express an opinion, when those surrounding him laughed; hearing which the king, who had not caught his words, asked him to repeat them. "Why, your majesty," said he boldly, "I do believe the pail would weigh heavier." "Odds-fish!" cried Charles, bursting out into laughter, "you are right, my honest fellow!" and so the merriment became general.

The Royal Society was composed of men of quality with a genius for investigation, and men of learning eager for further knowledge. Persons of all nationalities, religions, and professions were admitted members; and it was continually enriched by the addition of curiosities, amongst which in particular were an herb which grew in the stomach of a thrush; the skin of a Moor tanned, with the beard and hair white; a clock, having movements directed by loadstone; an ostrich, whose young had been born alive; mummies; strange fish; and the hearts and livers of vipers. Likewise was the society endowed with gifts, amongst the most notable being the valuable library of Henry Howard, afterwards Duke of Norfolk.

Fostered by this society, science received its first impulse towards the astounding progress it has since achieved. Nay, in this reign the germs of some inventions were sown, which, subsequently springing into existence, have startled the world by their novelty, utility, and power, Monsieur Sorbiere, when in England, was shown a journal kept by Montconis, concerning the transactions of the Royal Society, in which several new devices, "which scarce can be believed unless seen," were described. Amongst these were an instrument for showing alterations in the weather, whether from heat, cold, wind, or rain; a method for blowing up ships; a process for purifying salt water, so that it could be drunk; and an instrument by which those ignorant of drawing could sketch and design any object. He also states Dr. Wallis had taught one born deaf and dumb to read.

In 1663, "the right honourable (and deservedly to be praised and admired) Edward Somerset, Marquis of Worcester," published a quaint volume entitled "A Century of the Names and Scantlings of such Inventions as at present I can call to mind to have tried and perfected, which (my former notes being lost) I have, at the instance of a powerful friend, endeavoured to set down in such a way as may sufficiently instruct me to put any of them in practice." Amongst these are enumerated false decks, such as in a moment should kill and take prisoners as many as should board the ship, without blowing her up, and in a quarter of an hour's time should recover their former shape without discovering the secret; a portable fortification, able to contain five hundred men, which in the space of six hours might be set up, and made cannon-proof; a dexterous tinder-box which served as a pistol, and was yet capable of lighting a fire or candle at any hour of the night without giving its possessor the trouble of stretching his hand from bed; a lock, the ways of opening which might be varied ten millions of times, but which on a stranger touching it would cause an alarm that could not be stopped, and would register what moneys had been taken from its keeping; a boat which would work against wind and tide; with various other discoveries to the number of one hundred, all arrived at from mathematical studies.

The means of propelling a boat against such disadvantages, to which the Marquis of Worcester alludes, was in all probability by steam-power. This he described as "an admirable and most forcible way to drive up water by fire," the secret of which he is believed to have first discovered. [Before the century was concluded, Captain Savery contrived a steam-engine which was certainly the first put to practical uses. It has been stated that he owed the knowledge of this invention to hints conveyed in Lord Worcester's little volume.] In the preface to his little book, the marquis states he had sacrificed from six to seven hundred thousand pounds in bringing his various inventions to perfection; after which it is satisfactory to find he derived some profit from one of them, conceived, as he says, "by heavenly inspiration." This was a water-engine for drying marsh-lands and mines, requiring neither pump, suckers, barrels, bellows, nor external nor additional help, save that afforded from its own operations. This engine Sorbiere describes as one of the most curious things he had a mind to see, and says one man by the help of this machine raised four large buckets full of water in an instant forty feet high, through a pipe eight inches long. An act of parliament was passed enabling the marquis to reap the benefit and profit from this invention, subject to a tenth part which was reserved for the king and his heirs.

The Royal Society soon became one of the foremost objects of interest in the city. Foreigners of distinction were conducted to its rooms that they might behold the visible signs of knowledge it could proudly boast; and women of culture were admitted to hear the lectures its members delivered.

Amongst these latter may be mentioned the eccentric Duchess of Newcastle; a lady who dressed her footmen in velvet coats, habited herself in antique gowns, wrote volumes of plays and poetry, desired the reputation of learning, and indulged in circumstances of pomp and state. Having expressed her desire to be present at one of the meetings of the Royal Society, the council prepared to receive her, not, it must be admitted, without some fear her extravagance would expose them to the ridicule of the town, and place them fit the mercy of ballad- mongers. So it happened one fair May-day, in the year 1667 a vast concourse of people had assembled to witness her arrival at Arundel House in the Strand, where the society held its meetings for some years after the burning of Gresham College. And she in good time reaching there, surrounded by her maids of honour, gentlemen in waiting, and lackeys, was met by the president, Viscount Brouncker, having his mace carried before him, and was conducted to the great room. When the meeting was over, various experiments were tried for her satisfaction; amongst others a piece of roasted mutton was turned into pure blood. The while she witnessed these sights, crowds of gallants gathered round her that they might catch and retain such fine things as fell from her lips; but she only cried out her wonder and admiration at all she saw; and at the end of her visit was conducted in state to her coach by several noble lords, notable amongst whom was a vastly pretty young man, Francis Seymour, fifth Duke of Somerset.


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