HotFreeBooks.com
History of King Charles II of England
by Jacob Abbott
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

HISTORY OF KING CHARLES THE SECOND OF ENGLAND.

BY JACOB ABBOTT.



PREFACE.



The author of this series has made it his special object to confine himself very strictly, even in the most minute details which he records, to historic truth. The narratives are not tales founded upon history, but history itself, without any embellishment or any deviations from the strict truth, so far as it can now be discovered by an attentive examination of the annals written at the time when the events themselves occurred. In writing the narratives, the author has endeavored to avail himself of the best sources of information which this country affords; and though, of course, there must be in these volumes, as in all historical accounts, more or less of imperfection and error, there is no intentional embellishment. Nothing is stated, not even the most minute and apparently imaginary details, without what was deemed good historical authority. The readers, therefore, may rely upon the record as the truth, and nothing but the truth, so far as an honest purpose and a careful examination have been effectual in ascertaining it.



CONTENTS.



Chapter

I. INFANCY

II. PRINCE CHARLES'S MOTHER

III. QUEEN HENRIETTA'S FLIGHT

IV. ESCAPE OF THE CHILDREN

V. THE PRINCE'S RECEPTION AT PARIS

VI. NEGOTIATIONS WITH ANNE MARIA

VII. THE ROYAL OAK OF BOSCOBEL

VIII. THE KING'S ESCAPE TO FRANCE

IX. THE RESTORATION

X. THE MARRIAGE

XI. CHARACTER AND REIGN

XII. CONCLUSION



CHAPTER I.

INFANCY.



King Charles the Second was the son and successor of King Charles the First. These two are the only kings of the name of Charles that have appeared, thus far, in the line of English sovereigns. Nor is it very probable that there will soon be another. The reigns of both these monarchs were stained and tarnished with many vices and crimes, and darkened by national disasters of every kind, and the name is thus connected with so many painful associations in the minds of men, that it seems to have been dropped, by common consent, in all branches of the royal family.

The reign of Charles the First, as will be seen by the history of his life in this series, was characterized by a long and obstinate contest between the king and the people, which brought on, at last, a civil war, in which the king was defeated and taken prisoner, and in the end beheaded on a block, before one of his own palaces. During the last stages of this terrible contest, and before Charles way himself taken prisoner, he was, as it were, a fugitive and an outlaw in his own dominions. His wife and family were scattered in various foreign lands, his cities and castles were in the hands of his enemies, and his oldest son, the prince Charles, was the object of special hostility. The prince incurred, therefore, a great many dangers, and suffered many heavy calamities in his early years. He lived to see these calamities pass away, and, after they were gone, he enjoyed, so far as his own personal safety and welfare were concerned, a tranquil and prosperous life. The storm, however, of trial and suffering which enveloped the evening of his father's days, darkened the morning of his own. The life of Charles the First was a river rising gently, from quiet springs, in a scene of verdure and sunshine, and flowing gradually into rugged and gloomy regions, where at last it falls into a terrific abyss, enveloped in darkness and storms. That of Charles the Second, on the other hand, rising in the wild and rugged mountains where the parent stream was engulfed, commences its course by leaping frightfully from precipice to precipice, with turbid and foaming waters, but emerges at last into a smooth and smiling land, and flows through it prosperously to the sea.

Prince Charles's mother, the wife of Charles the First, was a French princess. Her name was Henrietta Maria. She was unaccomplished, beautiful, and very spirited woman. She was a Catholic, and the English people, who were very decided in their hostility to the Catholic faith, were extremely jealous of her. They watched all her movements with the utmost suspicion. They were very unwilling that an heir to the crown should arise in her family. The animosity which they felt against her husband the king, which was becoming every day more and more bitter, seemed to be doubly inveterate and intense toward her. They published pamphlets, in which they called her a daughter of Heth, a Canaanite, and an idolatress, and expressed hopes that from such a worse than pagan stock no progeny should ever spring.

Henrietta was at this time—1630—twenty-one years of age, and had been married about four years. She had had one son, who had died a few days after his birth. Of course, she did not lead a very happy life in England. Her husband the king, like the majority of the English people, was a Protestant, and the difference was a far more important circumstance in those days than it would be now; though even now a difference in religious faith, on points which either party deems essential, is, in married life, an obstacle to domestic happiness, which comes to no termination, and admits of no cure. If it were possible for reason and reflection to control the impetuous impulses of youthful hearts, such differences of religious faith would be regarded, where they exist, as an insurmountable objection to a matrimonial union.

The queen, made thus unhappy by religious dissensions with her husband, and by the public odium of which she was the object, lived in considerable retirement and seclusion at St. James's Palace, in Westminster, which is the western part of London. Here her second son, the subject of this history, was born, in May, 1630, which was ten years after the landing of the pilgrims on the Plymouth rock. The babe was very far from being pretty, though he grew up at last to be quite a handsome man. King Charles was very much pleased at the birth of his son. He rode into London the next morning at the head of a long train of guards and noble attendants, to the great cathedral church of St. Paul's, to render thanks publicly to God for the birth of his child and the safety of the queen. While this procession was going through the streets, all London being out to gaze upon it, the attention of the vast crowd was attracted to the appearance of a star glimmering faintly in the sky at midday. This is an occurrence not very uncommon, though it seldom, perhaps, occurs when it has so many observers to witness it. The star was doubtless Venus, which, in certain circumstances, is often bright enough to be seen when the sun is above the horizon. The populace of London, however, who were not in those days very profound astronomers, regarded the shining of the star as a supernatural occurrence altogether, and as portending the future greatness and glory of the prince whose natal day it thus unexpectedly adorned.

Preparations were made for the baptism of the young prince in July. The baptism of a prince is an important affair, and there was one circumstance which gave a peculiar interest to that of the infant Charles. The Reformation had not been long established in England, and this happened to be the first occasion on which an heir to the English crown had been baptized since the Liturgy of the English Church had been arranged. There is a chapel connected with the palace of St. James, as is usual with royal palaces in Europe, and even, in fact, with the private castles and mansions of the higher nobility. The baptism took place there. On such occasions it is usual for certain persons to appear as sponsors, as they are called, who undertake to answer for the safe and careful instruction of the child in the principles of the Christian faith. This is, of course, mainly a form, the real function of the sponsors being confined, as it would appear, to making magnificent presents to their young godchild, in acknowledgment of the distinguished honor conferred upon them by their designation to the office which they hold. The sponsors, on this occasion, were certain royal personages in France, the relatives of the queen. They could not appear personally, and so they appointed proxies from among the higher nobility of England, who appeared at the baptism in their stead, and made the presents to the child. One of these proxies was a duchess, whose gift was a jewel valued at a sum in English money equal to thirty thousand dollars.

The oldest son of a king of England receives the title of Prince of Wales; and there was an ancient custom of the realm, that an infant prince of Wales should be under the care, in his earliest years, of a Welsh nurse, so that the first words which he should learn to speak might be the vernacular language of his principality. Such a nurse was provided for Charles. Rockers for his cradle were appointed, and many other officers of his household, all the arrangements being made in a very magnificent and sumptuous manner. It is the custom in England to pay fees to the servants by which a lady or gentleman is attended, even when a guest in private dwellings; and some idea may be formed of the scale on which the pageantry of this occasion was conducted, from the fact that one of the lady sponsors who rode to the palace in the queen's carriage, which was sent for her on this occasion, paid a sum equal to fifty dollars each to six running footmen who attended the carriage, and a hundred dollars to the coachman; while a number of knights who came on horseback and in armor to attend upon the carriage, as it moved to the palace, received each a gratuity of two hundred and fifty dollars. The state dresses on the occasion of this baptism were very costly and splendid, being of white satin trimmed with crimson.

The little prince was thus an object of great attention at the very commencement of his days, His mother had his portrait painted, and sent it to her mother in France. She did not, however, in the letters which accompanied the picture, though his mother, praise the beauty of her child. She said, in fact, that he was so ugly that she was ashamed of him, though his size and plumpness, she added, atoned for the want of beauty. And then he was so comically serious and grave in the expression of his countenance! the queen said she verily believed that he was wiser than herself.

As the young prince advanced in years, the religious and political difficulties in the English nation increased, and by the time that he had arrived at an age when he could begin to receive impressions from the conversation and intercourse of those around him, the Parliament began to be very jealous of the influence which his mother might exert. They were extremely anxious that he should be educated a Protestant, and were very much afraid that his mother would contrive to initiate him secretly into the ideas and practices of the Catholic faith.

She insisted that she did not attempt to do this, and perhaps she did not; but in those days it was often considered right to make false pretensions and to deceive, so far as this was necessary to promote the cause of true religion. The queen did certainly make some efforts to instill Catholic principles into the minds of some of her children; for she had other children after the birth of Charles. She gave a daughter a crucifix one day, which is a little image of Christ upon the cross, made usually of ivory, or silver, or gold, and also a rosary, which is a string of beads, by means of which the Catholics are assisted to count their prayers. Henrietta gave these things to her daughter secretly, and told her to hide them in her pocket, and taught her how to use them. The Parliament considered such attempts to influence the minds of the royal children as very heinous sins, and they made such arrangements for secluding the young prince Charles from his mother, and putting the others under the guidance of Protestant teachers and governors, as very much interfered with Henrietta's desires to enjoy the society of her children. Since England was a Protestant realm, a Catholic lady, in marrying an English king, ought not to have expected, perhaps, to have been allowed to bring up her children in her own faith; still, it must have been very hard for a mother to be forbidden to teach her own children what she undoubtedly believed was the only possible means of securing for them the favor and protection of Heaven.

There is in London a vast storehouse of books, manuscripts, relics, curiosities, pictures, and other memorials of by-gone days, called the British Museum. Among the old records here preserved are various letters written by Henrietta, and one or two by Charles, the young prince, during his childhood. Here is one, for instance, written by Henrietta to her child, when the little prince was but eight years of age, chiding him for not being willing to take his medicine. He was at that time under the charge of Lord Newcastle.

"CHARLES,—I am sorry that I must begin my first letter with chiding you, because I hear that you will not take phisicke, I hope it was onlie for this day, and that to-morrow you will do it for if you will not, I must come to you, and make you take it, for it is for your health. I have given order to mi Lord of Newcastle to send mi word to-night whether you will or not. Therefore I hope you will not give me the paines to goe; and so I rest, your affectionate mother, HENRIETTE MARIE."

The letter was addressed

"To MI DEARE SONNE the Prince."

The queen must have taken special pains with this her first letter to her son, for, with all its faults of orthography, it is very much more correct than most of the epistles which she attempted to write in English. She was very imperfectly acquainted with the English language, using, as she almost always did, in her domestic intercourse, her own native tongue.

Time passed on, and the difficulties and contests between King Charles and his people and Parliament became more and more exciting and alarming. One after another of the king's most devoted and faithful ministers was arrested, tried, condemned, and beheaded, notwithstanding all the efforts which their sovereign master could make to save them. Parties were formed, and party spirit ran very high. Tumults were continually breaking out about the palaces, which threatened the personal safety of the king and queen. Henrietta herself was a special object of the hatred which these outbreaks expressed. The king himself was half distracted by the overwhelming difficulties of his position. Bad as it was in England, it was still worse in Scotland. There was an actual rebellion there, and the urgency of the danger in that quarter was so great that Charles concluded to go there, leaving the poor queen at home to take care of herself and her little ones as well as she could, with the few remaining means of protection yet left at her disposal.

There was an ancient mansion, called Oatlands, not very far from London, where the queen generally resided during the absence of her husband. It was a lonely place, on low and level ground, and surrounded by moats filled with water, over which those who wished to enter passed by draw bridges. Henrietta chose this place for her residence because she thought she should be safer there from mobs and violence. She kept the children all there except the Prince of Wales, who was not allowed to be wholly under her care. He, how ever, often visited his mother, and she sometimes visited him.

During the absence of her husband, Queen Henrietta was subjected to many severe and heavy trials. Her communications with him were often interrupted and broken. She felt a very warm interest in the prosperity and success of his expedition, and sometimes the tidings she received from him encouraged her to hope that all might yet be well. Here, for instance, is a note which she addressed one day to an officer who had sent her a letter from the king, that had come enclosed to him. It is written in a broken English, which shows how imperfectly the foreign lady had learned the language of her adopted country. They who understand the French language will be interested in observing that most of the errors which the writer falls into are those which result naturally from the usages of her mother tongue.

Queen Henrietta to Sir Edward Nicholas.

"MAISTRE NICHOLAS,—I have reseaved your letter, and that you send me from the king, which writes me word he as been vere well reseaved in Scotland; that both the armi and the people have shewed a creat joy to see the king, and such that theay say was never seen before. Pray God it may continue. Your friend, HENRIETTE MARIE R."

At one time during the king's absence in Scotland the Parliament threatened to take the queen's children all away from her, for fear, as they said, that she would make papists of them. This danger alarmed and distressed the queen exceedingly. She declared that she did not intend or desire to bring up her children in the Catholic faith. She knew this was contrary to the wish of the king her husband, as well as of the people of England. In order to diminish the danger that the children would be taken away, she left Oatlands herself, and went to reside at other palaces, only going occasionally to visit her children. Though she was thus absent from them in person, her heart was with them all the time, and she was watching with great solicitude and anxiety for any indications of a design on the part of her enemies to come and take them away.

At last she received intelligence that an armed force was ordered to assemble one night in the vicinity of Oatlands to seize her children, under the pretext that the queen was herself forming plans for removing them out of the country and taking them to France. Henrietta was a lady of great spirit and energy, and this threatened danger to her children aroused all her powers. She sent immediately to all the friends about her on whom she could rely, and asked them to come, armed and equipped, and with as many followers as they could muster, to the park at Oatlands that night. There were also then in and near London a number of officers of the army, absent from their posts on furlough. She sent similar orders to these. All obeyed the summons with eager alacrity. The queen mustered and armed her own household, too, down to the lowest servants of the kitchen. By these means quite a little army was collected in the park at Oatlands, the separate parties coming in, one after another, in the evening and night. This guard patrolled the grounds till morning, the queen herself animating them by her presence and energy. The children, whom the excited mother was thus guarding, like a lioness defending her young, were all the time within the mansion, awaiting in infantile terror some dreadful calamity, they scarcely knew what, which all this excitement seemed to portend.

The names and ages of the queen's children at this time were as follows:

Charles, prince of Wales, the subject of this story, eleven.

Mary, ten. Young as she was, she was already married, having been espoused a short time before to William, prince of Orange, who was one year older than herself.

James, duke of York, seven. He became afterward King James II.

Elizabeth, six.

Henry, an infant only a few months old.

The night passed away without any attack, though a considerable force assembled in the vicinity, which was, however, soon after disbanded. The queen's fears were, nevertheless, not allayed. She began to make arrangements for escaping from the kingdom in ease it should become necessary to do so. She sent a certain faithful friend and servant to Portsmouth with orders to get some vessels ready, so that she could fly there with her children and embark at a moment's notice, if these dangers and alarms should continue.

She did not, however, have occasion to avail herself of these preparations. Affairs seemed to take a more favorable turn. The king came back from Scotland. He was received by his people, on his arrival, with apparent cordiality and good will. The queen was, of course, rejoiced to welcome him home, and she felt relieved and protected by his presence. The city of London, which had been the main seat of disaffection and hostility to the royal family, began to show symptoms of returning loyalty and friendly regard. In reciprocation for this, the king determined on making a grand entry into the city, to pay a sort of visit to the authorities. He rode, on this occasion, in a splendid chariot of state, with the little prince by his side. Queen Henrietta came next, in an open carriage of her own, and the other children, with other carriages, followed in the train. A long cortege of guards and attendants, richly dressed and magnificently mounted, preceded and followed the royal family, while the streets were lined with thousands of spectators, who waved handkerchiefs and banners, and shouted God save the king! In the midst of this scene of excitement and triumph, Henrietta rode quietly along, her anxieties relieved, her sorrows and trials ended, and her heart bounding with happiness and hope. She was once more, as she conceived, reunited to her husband and her children, and reconciled to the people of her realm. She thought her troubles were over Alas! they had, on the contrary, scarcely begun.



CHAPTER II.

PRINCE CHARLES'S MOTHER.



The indications and promises of returning peace and happiness which gave Prince Charles's mother so much animation and hope after the return of her husband from Scotland were all very superficial and fallacious. The real grounds of the quarrel between the king and his Parliament, and of the feelings of alienation and ill will cherished toward the queen, were all, unfortunately, as deep and extensive as ever; and the storm, which lulled treacherously for a little time, broke forth soon afterward anew, with a frightful violence which it was evident that nothing could withstand. This new onset of disaster and calamity was produced in such a way that Henrietta had to reproach herself with being the cause of its coming.

She had often represented to the king that, in her opinion, one main cause of the difficulties he had suffered was that he did not act efficiently and decidedly, and like a man, in putting down the opposition manifested against him on the part of his subjects; and now, soon after his return from Scotland, on some new spirit of disaffection showing itself in Parliament, she urged him to act at once energetically and promptly against it. She proposed to him to take an armed force with him, and proceed boldly to the halls where the Parliament was assembled, and arrest the leaders of the party who were opposed to him. There were five of them who were specially prominent. The queen believed that if these five men were seized and imprisoned in the Tower, the rest would be intimidated and overawed, and the monarch's lost authority and power would be restored again.

The king was persuaded, partly by the dictates of his own judgment, and partly by the urgency of the queen, to make the attempt. The circumstances of this case, so far as the action of the king was concerned in them, are fully related in the history of Charles the First. Here we have only to speak of the queen, who was left in a state of great suspense and anxiety in her palace at Whitehall while her husband was gone on his dangerous mission.

The plan of the king to make this irruption into the great legislative assembly of the nation had been kept, so they supposed, a very profound secret, lest the members whom he was going to arrest should receive warning of their danger and fly. When the time arrived, the king bade Henrietta farewell, saying that she might wait there an hour, and if she received no ill news from him during that time, she might be sure that he had been successful, and that he was once more master of his kingdom. The queen remained in the apartment where the king had left her, looking continually at the watch which she held before her, and counting the minutes impatiently as the hands moved slowly on. She had with her one confidential friend, the Lady Carlisle, who sat with her and seemed to share her solicitude, though she had not been entrusted with the secret. The time passed on. No ill tidings came; and at length the hour fully expired, and Henrietta, able to contain herself no longer, exclaimed with exultation, "Rejoice with me; the hour is gone. From this time my husband is master of his realm. His enemies in Parliament are all arrested before this time, and his kingdom is henceforth his own."

It certainly is possible for kings and queens to have faithful friends, but there are so many motives and inducements to falsehood and treachery in court, that it is not possible, generally, for them to distinguish false friends from true. The Lady Carlisle was a confederate with some of the very men whom Charles had gone to arrest. On receiving this intimation of their danger, she sent immediately to the houses of Parliament, which were very near at hand, and the obnoxious members received warning in time to fly. The hour had indeed elapsed, but the king had met with several unexpected delays, both in his preparations for going, and on his way to the House of Commons, so that when at last he entered, the members were gone. His attempt, however, unsuccessful as it was, evoked a general storm of indignation and anger, producing thus all the exasperation which was to have been expected from the measure, without in any degree accomplishing its end. The poor queen was overwhelmed with confusion and dismay when she learned the result. She had urged her husband forward to an extremely dangerous and desperate measure, and then by her thoughtless indiscretion had completely defeated the end. A universal and utterly uncontrollable excitement burst like a clap of thunder upon the country as this outrage, as they termed it, of the king became known, and the queen was utterly appalled at the extent and magnitude of the mischief she had done.

The mischief was irremediable. The spirit of resentment and indignation which the king's action had aroused, expressed itself in such tumultuous and riotous proceedings as to render the continuance of the royal family in London no longer safe. They accordingly removed up the river to Hampton Court, a famous palace on the Thames, not many miles from the city. There they remained but a very short time. The dangers which beset them were evidently increasing. It was manifest that the king must either give up what he deemed the just rights and prerogatives of the crown, or prepare to maintain them by war. The queen urged him to choose the latter alternative. To raise the means for doing this, she proposed that she should herself leave the country, taking with her, her jewels, and such other articles of great value as could be easily carried away, and by means of them and her personal exertions, raise funds and forces to aid her husband in the approaching struggle.

The king yielded to the necessity which seemed to compel the adoption of this plan. He accordingly set off to accompany Henrietta to the shore. She took with her the young Princess Mary; in fact, the ostensible object of her journey was to convey her to her young husband, the Prince of Orange, in Holland. In such infantile marriages as theirs, it is not customary, though the marriage ceremony be performed, for the wedded pair to live together till they arrive at years a little more mature.

The queen was to embark at Dover. Dover was in those days the great port of egress from England to the Continent. There was, and is still, a great castle on the cliffs to guard the harbor and the town. These cliffs are picturesque and high, falling off abruptly in chalky precipices to the sea. Among them at one place is a sort of dell, by which there is a gradual descent to the water. King Charles stood upon the shore when Henrietta sailed away, watching the ship as it receded from his view, with tears in his eyes. With all the faults, characteristic of her nation, which Henrietta possessed, she was now his best and truest friend, and when she was gone he felt that he was left desolate and alone in the midst of the appalling dangers by which he was environed.

The king went back to Hampton Court. Parliament sent him a request that he would come and reside nearer to the capital, and enjoined upon him particularly not to remove the young Prince of Wales. In the mean time they began to gather together their forces, and to provide munitions of war. The king did the same. He sent the young prince to the western part of the kingdom, and retired himself to the northward, to the city of York, which he made his head-quarters. In a word, both parties prepared for war.

In the mean time, Queen Henrietta was very successful in her attempts to obtain aid for her husband in Holland. Her misfortunes awakened pity, with which, through her beauty, and the graces of her conversation and address, there was mingled a feeling analogous to love. Then, besides, there was something in her spirit of earnest and courageous devotion to her husband in the hours of his calamity that won for her a strong degree of admiration and respect.

There are no efforts which are so efficient and powerful in the accomplishment of their end as those which a faithful wife makes to rescue and save her husband. The heart, generally so timid, seems to be inspired on such occasions with a preternatural courage, and the arm, at other times so feeble and helpless, is nerved with unexpected strength. Every one is ready to second and help such efforts, and she who makes them is surprised at her success, and wonders at the extent and efficiency of the powers which she finds herself so unexpectedly able to wield.

The queen interested all classes in Holland in her plans, and by her personal credit, and the security of her diamonds and rubies, she borrowed large sums of money from the government, from the banks, and from private merchants. The sums which she thus raised amounted to two millions of pounds sterling, equal to nearly ten millions of dollars. While these negotiations were going on she remained in Holland, with her little daughter, the bride, under her care, whose education she was carrying forward all the time with the help of suitable masters; for, though married, Mary was yet a child. The little husband was going on at the same time with his studies too.

Henrietta remained in Holland a year. She expended a part of her money in purchasing military stores and supplies for her husband, and then set sail with them, and with the money not expended, to join the king. The voyage was a very extraordinary one. A great gale of wind began to blow from the northeast soon after the ships left the port, which increased in violence for nine days, until at length the sea was lashed to such a state of fury that the company lost all hope of ever reaching the land. The queen had with her a large train of attendants, both ladies and gentlemen; and there were also in her suit a number of Catholic priests, who always accompanied her as the chaplains and confessors of her household. These persons had all been extremely sick, and had been tied into their beds on account of the excessive rolling of the ship, and their own exhaustion and helplessness. The danger increased, until at last it became so extremely imminent that all the self-possession of the passengers was entirely gone. In such protracted storms, the surges of the sea strike the ship with terrific force, and vast volumes of water fall heavily upon the decks, threatening instant destruction—the ship plunging awfully after the shock, as if sinking to rise no more. At such moments, the noble ladies who accompanied the queen on this voyage would be overwhelmed with terror, and they filled the cabins with their shrieks of dismay. All this time the queen herself was quiet and composed. She told the ladies not to fear, for "queens of England were never drowned."

At one time, when the storm was at its height, the whole party were entirely overwhelmed with consternation and terror. Two of the ships were engulfed and lost. The queen's company thought that their own was sinking. They came crowding into the cabin where the priests were lying, sick and helpless, and began all together to confess their sins to them, in the Catholic mode, eager in these their last moments, as they supposed, to relieve their consciences in any way from the burdens of guilt which oppressed them. The queen herself did not participate in these fears. She ridiculed the absurd confessions, and rebuked the senseless panic to which the terrified penitents were yielding; and whenever any mitigation of the violence of the gale made it possible to do any thing to divert the minds of her company, she tried to make amusement out of the odd and strange dilemmas in which they were continually placed, and the ludicrous disasters and accidents which were always befalling her servants and officers of state, in their attempts to continue the etiquette and ceremony proper in attendance upon a queen, and from which even the violence of such a storm, and the imminence of such danger, could not excuse them. After a fortnight of danger, terror, and distress, the ships that remained of the little squadron succeeded in getting back to the port from which they had sailed.

The queen, however, did not despair. After a few days of rest and refreshment she set sail again, though it was now in the dead of winter. The result of this second attempt was a prosperous voyage, and the little fleet arrived in due time at Burlington, on the English coast, where the queen landed her money and her stores. She had, however, after all, a very narrow escape, for she was very closely pursued on her voyage by an English squadron. They came into port the night after she had landed, and the next morning she was awakened by the crashing of cannon balls and the bursting of bomb shells in the houses around her, and found, on hastily rising, that the village was under a bombardment from the ships of her enemies. She hurried on some sort of dress, and sallied forth with her attendants to escape into the fields. This incident is related fully in the history of her husband, Charles the First; but there is one circumstance, not there detailed, which illustrates very strikingly that strange combination of mental greatness and energy worthy of a queen, with a simplicity of affections and tastes which we should scarcely expect in a child, that marked Henrietta's character. She had a small dog. Its name was Mike. They say it was an ugly little animal, too, in all eyes but her own. This dog accompanied her on the voyage, and landed with her on the English shore. On the morning, however, when she fled from her bed to escape from the balls and bomb shells of the English ships, she recollected, after getting a short distance from the house, that Mike was left behind. She immediately returned, ran up to her chamber again, seized Mike, who was sleeping unconsciously upon her bed, and bore the little pet away from the scene of ruin which the balls and bursting shells were making, all astonished, no doubt, at so hurried and violent an abduction. The party gained the open fields, and seeking shelter in a dry trench, which ran along the margin of a field, they crouched there together till the commander of the ships was tired of firing.

The queen's destination was York, the great and ancient capital of the north of England York was the head quarters of King Charles's army, though he himself was not there at this time. As soon as news of the queen's arrival reached York, the general in command there sent down to the coast a detachment of two thousand men to escort the heroine, and the stores and money which she had brought, to her husband's capital. At the head of this force she marched in triumph across the country, with a long train of ordnance and baggage wagons loaded with supplies. There were six pieces of cannon, and two hundred and fifty wagons loaded with the money which she had obtained in Holland. The whole country was excited with enthusiasm at the spectacle. The enthusiasm was increased by the air and bearing of the queen, who, proud and happy at this successful result of all her dangers and toils, rode on horseback at the head of her army like a general, spoke frankly to the soldiers, sought no shelter from the sun and rain, and ate her meals, like the rest of the army, in a bivouac in the open field. She had been the means, in some degree, of leading the king into his difficulties, by the too vigorous measures she had urged him to take in the case of the attempted parliamentary arrest. She seems to have been determined to make that spirit of resolution and energy in her, which caused the mischief then, atone for it by its efficient usefulness now. She stopped on her march to summon and take a town, which had been hitherto in the hands of her husband's enemies, adding thus the glory of a conquest to the other triumphs of the day.

In fact, the queen's heart was filled with pride and pleasure at this conclusion of her enterprise, as is very manifest from the frequent letters which she wrote to her husband at the time. The king's cause revived. They gradually approached each other in the operations which they severally conducted, until at last the king, after a great and successful battle, set off at the head of a large escort to come and meet his wife. They met in the vale of Keynton, near Edgehill, which is on the southern borders of Warwickshire, near the center of the island. The meeting was, of course, one of the greatest excitement and pleasure. Charles praised the high courage and faithful affection of his devoted wife, and she was filled with happiness in enjoying the love and gratitude of her husband.

The pressure of outward misfortune and calamity has always the same strong tendency as was manifest in this case to invigorate anew all the ties of conjugal and domestic affection, and thus to create the happiness which it seems to the world to destroy. In the early part of Charles and Henrietta's married life, while every thing external went smoothly and prosperously with them, they were very far from being happy. They destroyed each other's peace by petty disputes and jars about things of little consequence, in which they each had scarcely any interest except a desire to carry the point and triumph over the other. King Charles himself preserved a record of one of these disputes. The queen had received, at the time of her marriage, certain estates, consisting of houses and lands, the income of which was to be at her disposal, and she wished to appoint certain treasurers to take charge of this property. She had made out a list of these officers in consultation with her mother. She gave this list to Charles one night, after he was himself in bed. He said he would look at it in the morning, but that she must remember that, by the marriage treaty, he was to appoint those officers. She said, in reply, that a part of those whom she had named were English. The king said that he would look at the paper in the morning, and such of the English names as he approved he would confirm, but that he could not appoint any Frenchmen. The queen answered that she and her mother had selected the men whom she had named, and she would not have any body else. Charles rejoined that the business was not either in her power or her mother's, and if she relied on such an influence to effect her wishes, he would not appoint any body that she recommended. The queen was very much hurt at this, and began to be angry. She said that if she could not put in whom she chose, to have the care of her property, she would not have any such property. He might take back her houses and lands, and allow her what he pleased in money in its stead. Charles replied by telling her to remember whom she was speaking to; that he could not be treated in that manner; and then the queen, giving way to lamentations and tears, said she was wretched and miserable; every thing that she wanted was denied her, and whatever she recommended was refused on the very account of her recommendation. Charles tried to speak, but she would not hear; she went on with her lamentations and complaints, interrupted only by her own sobs of passion and grief.

The reader may perhaps imagine that this must have been an extreme and unusual instance of dissension between this royal pair; but it was not. Cases of far greater excitement and violence sometimes occurred. The French servants and attendants, whom the queen very naturally preferred, and upon whom the king was as naturally inclined to look with suspicion and ill will, were a continual source of disagreement between them. At last, one afternoon, the king, happening to come into that part of the palace at Whitehall where the queen's apartments were situated, and which was called "the queen's side", found there a number of her gentlemen and lady attendants in a great frolic, capering and dancing in a way which the gay Frenchmen probably considered nothing extraordinary, but which King Charles regarded as very irreverent and unsuitable conduct to be witnessed in the presence of an English queen. He was very much displeased. He advanced to Henrietta, took her by the arm, conducted her sternly to his own side of the palace, brought her into one of his own apartments, and locked the door. He then sent an officer to direct all the French servants and attendants in the queen's apartments to leave the palace immediately, and repair to Somerset House, which was not far distant, and remain there till they received further orders. The officer executed these commands in a very rough manner. The French women shrieked and cried, and filled the court yard of the palace with their clamor; but the officer paid no regard to this noise. He turned them all out of the apartments, and locked the doors after them.

The queen was rendered quite frantic with vexation and rage at these proceedings. She flew to the windows to see and to bid farewell to her friends, and to offer them expressions of her sympathy. The king pulled her away, telling her to be quiet and submit, for he was determined that they should go. The queen was determined that she would not submit. She attempted to open the windows; the king held them down. Excited now to a perfect frenzy in the struggle, she began to break out the panes with her fist, while Charles exerted all his force to restrain and confine her, by grasping her wrists and endeavoring to force her away. What a contrast between the low and sordid selfishness and jealousy evinced in such dissensions as these, and the lofty and heroic devotedness and fidelity which this wife afterward evinced for her husband in the harassing cares the stormy voyages, and the martial exposures and fatigues which she endured for his sake! And yet, notwithstanding this great apparent contrast, and the wide difference in the estimation which mankind form of the conduct of the actor in these different scenes, still we can see that it is, after all, the impulse of the same lofty and indomitable spirit which acted in both. The soul itself of the queen was not altered, nor even the character of her action. The change was in the object and aim. In the one case she was contending against the authority of a husband, to gain petty and useless victories in domestic strife; in the other, the same spirit and energy were expended in encountering the storms and tempests of outward adversity to sustain her husband and protect her children. Thus the change was a change of circumstances rather than of character.

The change was, however, none the less important on that account in its influence on the king. It restored to him the affection and sympathy of his wife, and filled his heart with inward happiness. It was a joyous change to him, though it was produced by sufferings and sorrows; for it was the very pressure of outward calamity that made his wife his friend again, and restored his domestic peace. In how many thousand instances is the same effect produced in a still more striking manner, though on a less conspicuous stage, than in the case of this royal pair! And how many thousands of outwardly prosperous families there are, from which domestic peace and happiness are gone, and nothing but the pressure from without of affliction or calamity can ever restore them!

In consequence, in a great measure, of Henrietta's efficient help, the king's affairs greatly improved, and, for a time, it seemed as if he would gain an ultimate and final victory over his enemies, and recover his lost dominion. He advanced to Oxford, and made his head quarters there, and commenced the preparations for once more getting possession of the palaces and fortresses of London. He called together a Parliament at Oxford; some members came, and were regularly organized in the two houses of Lords and Commons, while the rest remained at London and continued their sittings there. Thus there were two governments, two Parliaments, and two capitals in England, and the whole realm was rent and distracted by the respective claims of these contending powers over the allegiance of the subjects and the government of the realm.



CHAPTER III.

QUEEN HENRIETTA'S FLIGHT.



The brightening of the prospects in King Charles's affairs which was produced, for a time, by the queen's vigorous and energetic action, proved to be only a temporary gleam after all. The clouds and darkness soon returned again, and brooded over his horizon more gloomily than ever. The Parliament raised and organized new and more powerful armies. The great Republican general, Oliver Cromwell, who afterward became so celebrated as the Protector in the time of the Commonwealth, came into the field, and was very successful in all his military plans. Other Republican generals appeared in all parts of the kingdom, and fought with great determination and great success, driving the armies of the king before them wherever they moved, and reducing town after town, and castle after castle, until it began to appear evident that the whole kingdom would soon fall into their hands.

In the mean time, the family of the queen were very much separated from each other, the children having been left in various places, exposed each to different privations and dangers. Two or three of them were in London in the hands of their father's enemies. Mary, the young bride of the Prince of Orange, was in Holland. Prince Charles, the oldest son, who was now about fourteen years of age, was at the head of one of his father's armies in the west of England. Of course, such a boy could not be expected to accomplish any thing as a general, or even to exercise any real military command. He, however, had his place at the head of a considerable force, and though there were generals with him to conduct all the operations, and to direct the soldiery, they were nominally the lieutenants of the prince, and acted, in all cases, in their young commander's name. Their great duty was, however, after all, to take care of their charge; and the army which accompanied Charles was thus rather an escort and a guard, to secure his safety, than a force from which any aid was to be expected in the recovery of the kingdom.

The queen did every thing in her power to sustain the sinking fortunes of her husband, but in vain. At length, in June, 1644, she found herself unable to continue any longer such warlike and masculine exposures and toils. It became necessary for her to seek some place of retreat, where she could enjoy, for a time at least, the quiet and repose now essential to the preservation of her life. Oxford was no longer a place of safety. The Parliament had ordered her impeachment on account of her having brought in arms and munitions of war from foreign lands, to disturb, as they said, the peace of the kingdom. The Parliamentary armies were advancing toward Oxford, and she was threatened with being shut up and besieged there. She accordingly left Oxford, and went down to the sea- coast to Exeter, a strongly fortified place, on a hill surrounded in part by other hills, and very near the sea. There was a palace within the walls, where the queen thought she could enjoy, for a time at least, the needed seclusion and repose. The king accompanied her for a few miles on her journey, to a place called Abingdon, which is in the neighborhood of Oxford, and there the unhappy pair bade each other farewell, with much grief and many tears. They never met again.

Henrietta continued her sorrowful journey alone. She reached the sea- coast in the south-western part of England, where Exeter is situated, and shut herself up in the place of her retreat. She was in a state of great destitution, for Charles's circumstances were now so reduced that he could afford her very little aid. She sent across the Channel to her friends in France, asking them to help her. They sent immediately the supplies that she needed—articles of clothing, a considerable sum of money, and a nurse. She retained the clothing and the nurse, and a little of the money; the rest she sent to Charles. She was, however, now herself tolerably provided for in her new home, and here, a few weeks afterward, her sixth child was born. It was a daughter.

The queen's long continued exertions and exposures had seriously impaired her health, and she lay, feeble and low, in her sick chamber for about ten days, when she learned to her dismay that one of the Parliamentary generals was advancing at the head of his army to attack the town which she had made her refuge. This general's name was Essex. The queen sent a messenger out to meet Essex, asking him to allow her to withdraw from the town before he should invest it with his armies. She said that she was very weak and feeble, and unable to endure the privations and alarms which the inhabitants of a besieged town have necessarily to bear; and she asked his permission, therefore, to retire to Bristol, till her health should be restored. Essex replied that he could not give her permission to retire from Exeter; that, in fact, the object of his coming there was to escort her to London, to bring her before Parliament, to answer to the charge of treason.

The queen perceived immediately that nothing but the most prompt and resolute action could enable her to escape the impending danger. She had but little bodily strength remaining, but that little was stimulated and renewed by the mental resolution and energy which, as is usual in temperaments like hers, burned all the brighter in proportion to the urgency of the danger which called it into action. She rose from her sick bed, and began to concert measures for making her escape. She confided her plan to three trusty friends, one gentleman, one lady, and her confessor, who, as her spiritual teacher and guide, was her constant companion. She disguised herself and these her attendants, and succeeded in getting through the gates of Exeter without attracting any observation. This was before Essex arrived. She found, however, before she went far, that the van of the army was approaching, and she had to seek refuge in a hut till her enemies had passed. She concealed herself among some straw, her attendants seeking such other hiding places as were at hand. It was two days before the bodies of soldiery had all passed so as to make it safe for the queen to come out of her retreat. The hut would seem to have been uninhabited, as the accounts state that she remained all this time without food, though this seems to be an almost incredible degree of privation and exposure for an English queen. At any rate, she remained during all this time in a state of great mental anxiety and alarm, for there were parties of soldiery constantly going by, with a tumult and noise which kept her in continual terror. Their harsh and dissonant voices, heard sometimes in angry quarrels and sometimes in mirth, were always frightful. In fact, for a helpless woman in a situation like that of the queen, the mood of reckless and brutal mirth in such savages was perhaps more to be dreaded than that of their anger.

At one time the queen overheard a party of these soldiers talking about her. They knew that to get possession of the papist queen was the object of their expedition. They spoke of getting her head and carrying it to London, saying that Parliament had offered a reward of fifty thousand crowns for it, and expressed the savage pleasure which it would give them to secure this prize, by imprecations and oaths.

They did not, however, discover their intended victim. After the whole army passed, the queen ventured cautiously forth from her retreat; the little party got together again, and, still retaining their disguises, moved on over the road by which the soldiers had come, and which was in the shocking condition that a road and a country always exhibit where an army has been marching. Faint and exhausted with sickness, abstinence, and the effects of long continued anxiety and fear, the queen had scarcely strength to go on. She persevered, however, and at length found a second refuge in a cabin in a wood. She was going to Plymouth, which is forty or fifty miles from Exeter, to the south-west, and is the great port and naval station of the English, in that quarter of the island.

She stopped at this cabin for a little time to rest, and to wait for some other friends and members of her household from the palace in Exeter to join her. Those friends were to wait until they found that the queen succeeded in making her escape, and then they were to follow, each in a different way, and all assuming such disguises as would most effectually help to conceal them. There was one of the party whom it must have been somewhat difficult to disguise. It was a dwarf, named Geoffrey Hudson, who had been a long time in the service of Henrietta as a personal attendant and messenger. It was the fancy of queens and princesses in those days to have such personages in their train. The oddity of the idea pleased them, and the smaller the dimensions of such a servitor, the greater was his value. In modern times all this is changed. Tall footmen now, in the families of the great, receive salaries in proportion to the number of inches in their stature, and the dwarfs go to the museums, to be exhibited, for a price, to the common wonder of mankind.

The manner in which Sir Geoffrey Hudson was introduced into the service of the queen was as odd as his figure. It was just after she was married, and when she was about eighteen years old. She had two dwarfs then already, a gentleman and a lady, or, as they termed it then, a cavalier and a dame, and, to carry out the whimsical idea, she had arranged a match between these two, and had them married. Now there was in her court at that time a wild and thoughtless nobleman, a great friend and constant companion of her husband Charles the First, named Buckingham. An account of his various exploits is given in our history of Charles the First. Buckingham happened to hear of this Geoffrey Hudson, who was then a boy of seven or eight years of age, living with his parents somewhere in the interior of England. He sent for him, and had him brought secretly to his house, and made an arrangement to have him enter the service of the queen, without, however, saying any thing of his design to her. He then invited the queen and her husband to visit him at his palace; and when the time for luncheon arrived, one day, he conducted the party into the dining saloon to partake of some refreshment. There was upon the table, among other viands, what appeared to be a large venison pie. The company gathered around the table, and a servant proceeded to cut the pie, and on his breaking and raising a piece of the crust, out stepped the young dwarf upon the table, splendidly dressed and armed, and, advancing toward the queen, he kneeled before her, and begged to be received into her train. Her majesty was very much pleased with the addition itself thus made to her household, as well as diverted by the odd manner in which her new attendant was introduced into her service.

The youthful dwarf was then only eighteen inches high, and he continued so until he was thirty years of age, when, to every body's surprise, he began to grow. He grew quite rapidly, and, for a time, there was a prospect that he would be entirely spoiled, as his whole value had consisted thus far in his littleness. He attained the height of three feet and a half, and there the mysterious principle of organic expansion, the most mysterious and inexplicable, perhaps, that is exhibited in all the phenomena of life, seemed to be finally exhausted, and, though he lived to be nearly seventy years of age, he grew no more.

Notwithstanding the bodily infirmity, whatever it may have been, which prevented his growth, the dwarf possessed a considerable degree of mental capacity and courage. He did not bear, however, very good- naturedly, the jests and gibes of which he was the continual object, from the unfeeling courtiers, who often took pleasure in teasing him and in getting him into all sorts of absurd and ridiculous situations. At last his patience was entirely exhausted, and he challenged one of his tormentors, whose name was Crofts, to a duel. Crofts accepted the challenge, and, being determined to persevere in his fun to the end, appeared on the battle ground armed only with a squirt. This raised a laugh, of course, but it did not tend much to cool the injured Lilliputian's anger. He sternly insisted on another meeting, and with real weapons. Crofts had expected to have turned off the whole affair in a joke, but he found this could not be done; and public opinion among the courtiers around him compelled him finally to accept the challenge in earnest. The parties met on horseback, to put them more nearly on an equality. They fought with pistols. Crofts was killed upon the spot.

After this Hudson was treated with more respect. He was entrusted by the queen with many commissions, and sometimes business was committed to him which required no little capacity, judgment, and courage. He was now, at the time of the queen's escape from Exeter, of his full stature, but as this was only three and a half feet, he encountered great danger in attempting to find his way out of the city and through the advancing columns of the army to rejoin the queen. He persevered, however, and reached her safely at last in the cabin in the wood. The babe, not yet two weeks old, was necessarily left behind. She was left in charge of Lady Morton, whom the queen appointed her governess. Lady Morton was young and beautiful. She was possessed of great strength and energy of character, and she devoted herself with her whole soul to preserving the life and securing the safety of her little charge.

The queen and her party had to traverse a wild and desolate forest, many miles in extent, on the way to Plymouth. The name of it was Dartmoor Forest. Lonely as it was, however, the party was safer in it than in the open and inhabited country, which was all disturbed and in commotion, as every country necessarily is in time of civil war. As the queen drew near to Plymouth, she found that, for some reason, it would not be safe to enter that town, and so the whole party went on, continuing their journey farther to the westward still.

Now there is one important sea-port to the westward of Plymouth which is called Falmouth, and near it, on a high promontory jutting into the sea, is a large and strong castle, called Pendennis Castle. This castle was, at the time of the queen's escape, in the hands of the king's friends, and she determined, accordingly, to seek refuge there. The whole party arrived here safely on the 29th of June. They were all completely worn out and exhausted by the fatigues, privations, and exposures of their terrible journey.

The queen had determined to make her escape as soon as possible to France. She could no longer be of any service to the king in England; her resources were exhausted, and her personal health was so feeble that she must have been a burden to his cause, and not a help, if she had remained. There was a ship from Holland in the harbor. The Prince of Orange, it will be recollected, who had married the queen's oldest daughter, was a prince of Holland, and this vessel was under his direction. Some writers say it was sent to Falmouth by him to be ready for his mother-in-law, in case she should wish to make her escape from England. Others speak of it as being there accidentally at this time. However this may be, it was immediately placed at Queen Henrietta's disposal, and she determined to embark in it on the following morning. She knew very well that, as soon as Essex should have heard of her escape, parties would be scouring the country in all directions in pursuit of her, and that, although the castle where she had found a temporary refuge was strong, it was not best to incur the risk of being shut up and besieged in it.

She accordingly embarked, with all her company, on board the Dutch ship on the very morning after her arrival, and immediately put to sea. They made all sail for the coast of France, intending to land at Dieppe. Dieppe is almost precisely east of Falmouth, two or three hundred miles from it, up the English Channel. As it is on the other side of the Channel, it would lie to the south of Falmouth, were it not that both the French and English coasts trend here to the northward.

Some time before they arrived at their port, they perceived some ships in the offing that seemed to be pursuing them. They endeavored to escape, but their pursuers gained rapidly upon them, and at length fired a gun as a signal for the queen's vessel to stop. The ball came bounding over the water toward them, but did no harm. Of course there was a scene of universal commotion and panic on board the queen's ship. Some wanted to fire back upon the pursuers, some wished to stop and surrender, and others shrieked and cried, and were overwhelmed with uncontrollable emotions of terror.

In the midst of this dreadful scene of confusion, the queen, as was usual with her in such emergencies, retained all her self-possession, and though weak and helpless before, felt a fresh strength and energy now, which the imminence itself of the danger seemed to inspire. She was excited, it is true, as well as the rest, but it was, in her case, the excitement of courage and resolution, and not of senseless terror and despair. She ascended to the deck; she took the direct command of the ship; she gave instructions to the pilot how to steer; and, though there was a storm coming on, she ordered every sail to be set, that the ship might be driven as rapidly as possible through the water. She forbade the captain to fire back upon their pursuers, fearing that such firing would occasion delay; and she gave distinct and positive orders to the captain, that so soon as it should appear that all hope of escape was gone, and that they must inevitably fall into the hands of their enemies, he was to set fire to the magazine of gunpowder, in order that they might all be destroyed by the explosion.

In the mean time all the ships, pursuers and pursued, were rapidly nearing the French coast. The fugitives were hoping to reach their port. They were also hoping every moment to see some friendly French ships appear in sight to rescue them. To balance this double hope, there was a double fear. There were their pursuers behind them, whose shots were continually booming over the water, threatening them with destruction, and there was a storm arising which, with the great press of sail that they were carrying, brought with it a danger, perhaps, more imminent still.

It happened that these hopes and fears were all realized, and nearly at the same time. A shot struck the ship, producing a great shock, and throwing all on board into terrible consternation. It damaged the rigging, bringing down the rent sails and broken cordage to the deck, and thus stopped the vessel's way. At the same moment some French vessels came in sight, and, as soon as they understood the case, bore down full sail to rescue the disabled vessel. The pursuers, changing suddenly their pursuit to flight, altered their course and moved slowly away. The storm, however, increased, and, preventing them from making the harbor of Dieppe, drove them along the shore, threatening every moment to dash them upon the rocks and breakers. At length the queen's vessel succeeded in getting into a rocky cove, where they were sheltered from the winds and waves, and found a chance to land. The queen ordered out the boat, and was set ashore with her attendants on the rocks. She climbed over them, wet as they were with the dashing spray, and slippery with sea weed. The little party, drenched with the rain, and exhausted and forlorn, wandered along the shore till they came to a little village of fishermen's huts. The queen went into the first wretched cabin which offered itself, and lay down upon the straw in the corner for rest and sleep.

The tidings immediately spread all over the region that the Queen of England had landed on the coast, and produced, of course, universal excitement. The gentry in the neighborhood flocked down the next morning, in their carriages, to offer Henrietta their aid. They supplied her wants, invited her to their houses, and offered her their equipages to take her wherever she should decide to go. What she wanted was seclusion and rest. They accordingly conveyed her, at her request, to the Baths of Bourbon, where she remained some time, until, in fact, her health and strength were in some measure restored. Great personages of state were sent to her here from Paris, with money and all other necessary supplies, and in due time she was escorted in state to the city, and established in great magnificence and splendor in the Louvre, which was then one of the principal palaces of the capital.

Notwithstanding the outward change which was thus made in the circumstances of the exiled queen, she was very unhappy. As the excitement of her danger and her efforts to escape it passed away, her spirits sunk, her beauty faded, and her countenance assumed the wan and haggard expression of despair. She mourned over the ruin of her husband's hopes, and her separation from him and from her children, with perpetual tears. She called to mind continually the image of the little babe, not yet three weeks old, whom she had left so defenseless in the very midst of her enemies. She longed to get some tidings of the child, and reproached herself sometimes for having thus, as it were, abandoned her.

The localities which were the scenes of these events have been made very famous by them, and traditional tales of Queen Henrietta's residence in Exeter, and of her romantic escape from it, have been handed down there, from generation to generation, to the present day. They caused her portrait to be painted too, and hung it up in the city hall of Exeter as a memorial of their royal visitor. The palace where the little infant was born has long since passed away, but the portrait hangs in the Guildhall still.



CHAPTER IV.

ESCAPE OF THE CHILDREN.



We left the mother of Prince Charles, at the close of the last chapter, in the palace of the Louvre in Paris. Though all her wants were now supplied, and though she lived in royal state in a magnificent palace on the banks of the Seine, still she was disconsolate and unhappy. She had, indeed, succeeded in effecting her own escape from the terrible dangers which had threatened her family in England, but she had left her husband and children behind, and she could not really enjoy herself the shelter which she had found from the storm, as long as those whom she so ardently loved were still out, exposed to all its fury. She had six children. Prince Charles, the oldest, was in the western part of England, in camp, acting nominally as the commander of an army, and fighting for his father's throne. He was now fourteen years of age. Next to him was Mary, the wife of the Prince of Orange, who was safe in Holland. She was one year younger than Charles. James, the third child, whose title was now Duke of York, was about ten. He had been left in Oxford when that city was surrendered, and had been taken captive there by the Republican army. The general in command sent him to London a prisoner. It was hard for such a child to be a captive, but then there was one solace in his lot. By being sent to London he rejoined his little sister Elizabeth and his brother Henry, who had remained there all the time. Henry was three years old and Elizabeth was six. These children, being too young, as was supposed, to attempt an escape, were not very closely confined. They were entrusted to the charge of some of the nobility, and lived in one of the London palaces. James was a very thoughtful and considerate boy, and had been enough with his father in his campaigns to understand something of the terrible dangers with which the family were surrounded. The other children were too young to know or care about them, and played blindman's buff and hide and go seek in the great saloons of the palace with as much infantile glee as if their father and mother were as safe and happy as ever.

Though they felt thus no uneasiness and anxiety for themselves, their exiled mother mourned for them, and was oppressed by the most foreboding fears for their personal safety. She thought, however, still more frequently of the babe, and felt a still greater solicitude for her, left as she had been, at so exceedingly tender an age, in a situation of the most extreme and imminent danger. She felt somewhat guilty in having yielded her reluctant consent, for political reasons, to have her other children educated in what she believed a false system of religious faith, and she now prayed earnestly to God to spare the life of this her last and dearest child, and vowed in her anguish that, if the babe were ever restored to her, she would break through all restrictions, and bring her up a true believer. This vow she afterward earnestly fulfilled.

The child, it will be recollected, was left, when Henrietta escaped from Exeter, in the care of the Countess of Morton, a young and beautiful, and also a very intelligent and energetic lady. The child had a visit from its father soon after its mother left it. King Charles, as soon as he heard that Essex was advancing to besiege Exeter, where he knew that the queen had sought refuge, and was, of course, exposed to fall into his power, hastened with an army to her rescue. He arrived in time to prevent Essex from getting possession of the place. He, in fact, drove the besieger away from the town, and entered it himself in triumph. The queen was gone, but he found the child.

The king gazed upon the little stranger with a mixture of joy and sorrow. He caused it to be baptized, and named it Henrietta Anne. The name Henrietta was from the mother; Anne was the name of Henrietta's sister-in-law in Paris, who had been very kind to her in all her troubles. The king made ample arrangements for supplying Lady Morton with money out of the revenues of the town of Exeter, and, thinking that the child would be as safe in Exeter as any where, left her there, and went away to resume again his desperate conflicts with his political foes.

Lady Morton remained for some time at Exeter, but the king's cause every where declined. His armies were conquered, his towns were taken, and he was compelled at last to give himself up a prisoner. Exeter, as well as all the other strongholds in the kingdom, fell into the hands of the parliamentary armies. They sent Lady Morton and the little Henrietta to London, and soon afterward provided them with a home in the mansion at Oatlands, where the queen herself and her other children had lived before. It was a quiet and safe retreat, but Lady Morton was very little satisfied with the plan of remaining there. She wished very much to get the babe back to its mother again in Paris. She heard, at length, of rumors that a plan was forming by the Parliament to take the child out of her charge, and she then resolved to attempt an escape at all hazards.

Henrietta Anne was now two years old, and was beginning to talk a little. When asked what was her name, they had taught her to attempt to reply princess, though she did not succeed in uttering more than the first letters of the word, her answer being, in fact, prah. Lady Morton conceived the idea of making her escape across the country in the disguise of a beggar woman, changing, at the same time, the princess into a boy. She was herself very tall, and graceful, and beautiful, and it was hard for her to make herself look old and ugly. She, however, made a hump for her back out of a bundle of linen, and stooped in her gait to counterfeit age. She dressed herself in soiled and ragged clothes, disfigured her face by reversing the contrivances with which ladies in very fashionable life are said sometimes to produce artificial youth and beauty, and with the child in a bundle on her back, and a staff in her hand, she watched for a favorable opportunity to escape stealthily from the palace, in the forlorn hope of walking in that way undetected to Dover, a march of fifty miles, through a country filled with enemies.

Little Henrietta was to be a boy, and as people on the way might ask the child its name, Lady Morton was obliged to select one for her which would fit, in some degree, her usual reply to such a question. She chose the name Pierre, which sounds, at least, as much like prah as princess does. The poor child, though not old enough to speak distinctly, was still old enough to talk a great deal. She was very indignant at the vile dress which she was compelled to wear, and at being called a beggar boy. She persisted in telling every body whom she met that she was not a boy, nor a beggar, nor Pierre, but the princess saying it all, however, very fortunately, in such an unintelligible way, that it only alarmed Lady Morton, without, however, attracting the attention of those who heard it, or giving them any information.

Contrary to every reasonable expectation, Lady Morton succeeded in her wild and romantic attempt. She reached Dover in safety. She made arrangements for crossing in the packet boat, which then, as now, plied from Dover to Calais. She landed at length safely on the French coast, where she threw off her disguise, resumed her natural grace and beauty, made known her true name and character, and traveled in ease and safety to Paris. The excitement and the intoxicating joy which Henrietta experienced when she got her darling child once more in her arms, can be imagined, perhaps, even by the most sedate American mother; but the wild and frantic violence of her expressions of it, none but those who are conversant with the French character and French manners can know.

It was not very far from the time of little Henrietta's escape from her father's enemies in London, though, in fact, before it, that Prince Charles made his escape from the island too. His father, finding that his cause was becoming desperate, gave orders to those who had charge of his son to retreat to the southwestern coast of the island, and if the Republican armies should press hard upon him there, he was to make his escape, if necessary, by sea.

The southwestern part of England is a long, mountainous promontory, constituting the county of Cornwall. It is a wild and secluded region, and the range which forms it seems to extend for twenty or thirty miles under the sea, where it rises again to the surface, forming a little group of islands, more wild and rugged even than the land. These are the Scilly Isles. They lie secluded and solitary, and are known chiefly to mankind through the ships that seek shelter among them in storms. Prince Charles retreated from post to post through Cornwall, the danger becoming more and more imminent every day, till at last it became necessary to fly from the country altogether. He embarked on board a vessel, and went first to the Scilly Isles.

From Scilly he sailed eastward toward the coast of France. He landed first at the island of Jersey, which, though it is very near the French coast, and is inhabited by a French population, is under the English government. Here the prince met with a very cordial reception, as the authorities were strongly attached to his father's cause. Jersey is a beautiful isle and, far enough south to enjoy a genial climate, where flowers bloom and fruits ripen in the warm sunbeams, which are here no longer intercepted by the driving mists and rains which sweep almost perceptibly along the hill sides and fields of England.

Prince Charles did not, however, remain long in Jersey. His destination was Paris. He passed, therefore, across to the main land, and traveled to the capital. He was received with great honors at his mother's new home, in the palace of the Louvre, as a royal prince, and heir apparent to the British crown. He was now sixteen. The adventures which he met with on his arrival will be the subject of the next chapter.

James, the Duke of York, remained still in London. He continued there for two years, during which time his father's affairs went totally to ruin. The unfortunate king, after his armies were all defeated, and his cause was finally given up by his friends, and he had surrendered himself a prisoner to his enemies, was taken from castle to castle, every where strongly guarded and very closely confined. At length, worn down with privations and sufferings, and despairing of all hope of relief, he was taken to London to be tried for his life. James, in the mean time, with his brother, the little Duke of Gloucester, and his sister Elizabeth, were kept in St. James's Palace, as has already been stated, under the care of an officer to whom they had been given in charge.

The queen was particularly anxious to have James make his escape. He was older than the others, and in case of the death of Charles, would be, of course, the next heir to the crown. He did, in fact, live till after the close of his brother's reign, and succeeded him, under the title of James the Second. His being thus in the direct line of succession made his father and mother very desirous of effecting his rescue, while the Parliament were strongly desirous, for the same reason, of keeping him safely. His governor received, therefore, a special charge to take the most effectual precautions to prevent his escape, and, for this purpose, not to allow of his having any communication whatever with his parents or his absent friends. The governor took all necessary measures to prevent such intercourse, and, as an additional precaution, made James promise that he would not receive any letter from any person unless it came through him.

James's mother, however, not knowing these circumstances, wrote a letter to him, and sent it by a trusty messenger, directing him to watch for some opportunity to deliver it unobserved. Now there is a certain game of ball, called tennis, which was formerly a favorite amusement in England and on the Continent of Europe, and which, in fact, continues to be played there still. It requires an oblong enclosure, surrounded by high walls, against which the balls rebound. Such an enclosure is called a tennis court. It was customary to build such tennis courts in most of the royal palaces. There was one at St. James's Palace, where the young James, it seems, used sometimes to play. [Footnote: It was to such a tennis court at Versailles that the great National Assembly of France adjourned when the king excluded them from their hall, at the commencement of the great Revolution, and where they took the famous oath not to separate till they had established a constitution, which has been so celebrated in history as the Oath of the Tennis Court.] Strangers had the opportunity of seeing the young prince in his coming and going to and from this place of amusement, and the queen's messenger determined to offer him the letter there. He accordingly tendered it to him stealthily, as he was passing, saying, "Take this; it is from your mother."

James drew back, replying, "I can not take it. I have promised that I will not."

The messenger reported to the queen that he offered the letter to James, and that he refused to receive it. His mother was very much displeased, and wondered what such a strange refusal could mean.

Although James thus failed to receive his communication, he was allowed at length, once or twice, to have an interview with his father, and in these interviews the king recommended to him to make his escape, if he could, and to join his mother in France. James determined to obey this injunction, and immediately set to work to plan his escape. He was fifteen years of age, and, of course, old enough to exercise some little invention.

He was accustomed, as we have already stated, to join the younger children in games of hide and go seek. He began now to search for the most recondite hiding places, where he could not be found, and when he had concealed himself in such a place, he would remain there for a very long time, until his playmates had given up the search in despair. Then, at length, after having been missing for half an hour, he would reappear of his own accord. He thought that by this plan he should get the children and the attendants accustomed to his being for a long time out of sight, so that, when at length he should finally disappear, their attention would not be seriously attracted to the circumstance until he should have had time to get well set out upon his journey.

He had, like his mother, a little dog, but, unlike her, he was not so strongly attached to it as to be willing to endanger his life to avoid a separation. When the time arrived, therefore, to set out on his secret journey, he locked the dog up in his room, to prevent its following him, and thus increasing the probability of his being recognized and brought back. He then engaged his brother and sister and his other playmates in the palace in a game of hide and go seek. He went off ostensibly to hide, but, instead of doing so, he stole out of the palace gates in company with a friend named Banfield, and a footman. It was in the rear of the palace that he made his exit, at a sort of postern gate, which opened upon an extensive park. After crossing the park, the party hurried on through London, and then directed their course down the River Thames toward Gravesend, a port near the mouth of the river, where they intended to embark for Holland. They had taken the precaution to disguise themselves. James wore a wig, which, changing the color and appearance of his hair, seemed to give a totally new expression to his face. He substituted other clothes, too, for those which he was usually accustomed to wear. The whole party succeeded thus in traversing the country without detection. They reached Gravesend, embarked on board a vessel there, and sailed to Holland, where James joined the Prince of Orange and his sister, and sent word to his mother that he had arrived there in safety.

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse