or, LONDON UNDER CHARLES II.
By J. FITZGERALD MOLLOY
Original Transcriber's Note:
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TO THOMAS HARDY, ESQ.
DEAR MR. HARDY,
In common with all readers of the English language, I owe you a debt of gratitude, the which I rejoice to acknowledge, even in so poor a manner as by dedicating this work to you.
Faithfully yours always,
J. FITZGERALD MOLLOY.
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.
No social history of the court of Charles II. has heretofore been written. The Grammont Memoirs, devoid of date and detail, and addressed "to those who read only for amusement," present but brief imperfect sketches of the wits and beauties who thronged the court of the merry monarch whilst the brilliant Frenchman sojourned in England. Pepys, during the first nine years of the Restoration, narrates such gossip as reached him regarding Whitehall and the practices that obtained there. Evelyn records some trifling actions of the king and his courtiers, with a view of pointing a moral, rather than from a desire of adorning a tale.
To supply this want in our literature, I have endeavoured to present a picture of the domestic life of a king, whose name recalls pages of the brightest romance and strangest gallantry in our chronicles. To this I have added a study of London during his reign, taken as far as possible from rare, and invariably from authentic sources. It will readily be seen this work, embracing such subjects, could alone have resulted from careful study and untiring consultation of diaries, records, memoirs, letters, pamphlets, tracts, and papers left by contemporaries familiar with the court and capital. The accomplishment of such a task necessitated an expenditure of time, and devotion to labour, such as in these fretful and impatient days is seldom bestowed on work.
As in previous volumes I have writ no fact is set down without authority, so likewise the same rule is pursued in these; and for such as desire to test the accuracy thereof, or follow at further length statements necessarily abbreviated, a list is appended of the principal literature consulted. And inasmuch as I have found pleasure in this work, so may my gentle readers derive profit therefrom; and as I have laboured, so may they enjoy. Expressing which fair wishes, and moreover commending myself unto their love and service, I humbly take my leave.
J. FITZGERALD MOLLOY.
LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL BOOKS, PAMPHLETS, TRACTS, AND NEWSPAPERS, CONSULTED IN WRITING THIS VOLUME.
"Elenchus Motuum Nuperorum." Heath's "Flagellum; or, the Life and Death of Oliver Cromwell." Banks' "Life of Cromwell." "Review of the Political Life of Cromwell." "A Modest Vindication of Oliver Cromwell." "The Machivilian Cromwellist." Kimber's "Life of Cromwell." "The World Mistaken in Oliver Cromwell"(1668). "A Letter of Comfort to Richard Cromwell." "Letters from Fairfax to Cromwell." "Cromwell's Letters and Speeches." "A Collection of Several Passages concerning Cromwell in his Sickness." "The Protector's Declaration against the Royal Family of the Stuarts." "Memoirs of Cromwell and his Children, supposed to be written by himself." "Narrative of the Proceedings of the English Army in Scotland." "An Account of the Last Houres of the late renowned Oliver, Lord Protector" (1659). "Sedition Scourged." Heath's "Chronicles of the late Intestine War." Welwood's "Memoirs of Transactions in England." "Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, M.P., in the year 1640." Forster's "Statesmen of the Commonwealth." "Killing No Murther." Thurloe's "State Papers." Lord Clarendon's "State Papers." Tatham's "Aqua Triumphalis." "The Public Intelligencer." "Mercurius Politicus." "The Parliamentary Intelligencer." Lyon's "Personal History of Charles II." "The Boscobel Tracts, relating to the Escape of Charles II." "An Exact Narrative of his Majesty's Escape from Worcester." Several Passages relating to the "Declared King of Scots both by Sea and Land." "Charles II.'s Declaration to his Loving Subjects in the Kingdom of England." "England's Joy; or, a Relation of the most Remarkable Passages from his Majesty's Arrival at Dover to his Entrance at Whitehall." "Copies of Two Papers written by the King." "His Majesty's Gracious Message to General Monk." "King Charles, His Starre." "A Speech spoken by a Blew-Coat of Christ's Hospital to his Sacred Majesty." "Monarchy Revived." "The History of Charles II., by a Person of Quality." Lady Fanshawe's "Memoirs." "The Character of Charles II., written by an Impartial Hand and exposed to Public View." "Sports and Pastimes of the English People." "A History of Domestic Manners and Sentiments in England." Wright's "Homes of Other Days." Idalcomb's "Anecdotes of Manners and Customs of London." Pepys' "Diary." Evelyn's "Diary." Grammont's "Memoirs." Lord Romney's "Diary of the Times of Charles II." "The Life and Adventures of Colonel Blood." "Diary of Dr. Edward Lake, Court Chaplain." Bishop Burnet's "History of His Own Times." Oldmixon's "Court Tales." Madame Dunois' "Memoirs of the English Court." Heath's "Glories and Triumphs of Charles II." "Continuation of the Life of Edward, Earl of Clarendon." "Original Correspondence of Lord Clarendon." "The Memoirs of Sir John Reresby." Lister's "Life of Clarendon. Brain Fairfax's "Memoirs of the Duke of Buckingham." "Letters of Philip, Second Earl of Chesterfield." Aubrey's "Memoirs." "The Life of Mr. Anthony a Wood, written by Himself." Elias Ashmole's "Memoirs of his Life." Luttrell's "Diary." "The Althorp Memoirs" (privately printed). Lord Broghill's "Memoirs." "Memoir of Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland" (privately printed). Aubrey's "Lives of Eminent Men." Count Magalotti's "Travels in England." "The Secret History of Whitehall: consisting of Secret Memoirs which have hitherto lain conceal'd as not being discoverable by any other hand." "Athenae Oxonienses." Lord Rochester's Works. Brown's "Miscellanea Aulica." The Works of Andrew Marvell. "State Tracts, relating to the Government from the year 1660 to 1689." "Antiquities of the Crown and State of Old England." "Narrative of the Families exposed to the Great Plague of London." "Loimologia; or, an Historical Account of the Plague in 1665." "A Collection of very Valuable and Scarce Pieces relating to the Last Plague in 1665." "London's Dreadful Visitation." "Letter of Dr, Hedges to a Person of Quality." "God's Terrible Voice in the City: a Narrative of the late Dreadful Judgments by Plague and Fire." "Pestis; a Collection of Scarce Papers relating to the Plague." "An Account of the Fire of London, published by authority." Lord Clarendon's "Account of the Great Fire." "A Voyage into England, containing many things relating to the State of Learning, Religion, and other Curiosities of that Kingdom," by Mons. Sorbiere. Carte's "Life of James, Duke of Ormond." Carte's "History of England." Lord Somers' "Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts." "Memoirs of the Duchess of Mazarine." "Secret History of the Duchess of Portsmouth." St. Evremond's "Memoirs." "Curialia; or, an Historical Account of some Branches of the Royal Household." "Parliamentary History." Oldmixon's "History of the Stuarts." Ellis's "Original Letters." Charles James Fox's "History of James II." Sir George L'Estrange's "Brief History of the Times." Lord Romney's "Diary of the Times of Charles II." Clarke's "Life of James II." "Vindication of the English Catholics." "The Tryals, Conviction and Sentence of Titus Oates." "A Modest Vindication of Oates." "Tracts on the Popish Plot." Macpherson's "Original Papers." A. Marvell's "Account of Popery." "An Exact Discovery of the Mystery of Iniquity as Practised among the Jesuits." Smith's "Streets of London." "London Cries." Seymour's "Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster." Stow's "Survey of London and Westminster." "Angliae Metropolis." Dr. Laune's "Present State of London, 1681." Sir Roger North's "Examn." "The Character of a Coffee House." Stow's "Chronicles of Fashion." Fairholt's "Costume in England." "A Just and Seasonable Reprehension of Naked Breasts and Shoulders." Sir William Petty's "Observations of the City of London." John Ogilvy's "London Surveyed." R. Burton's "Historical Remarks." Dr. Birch's "History of the Royal Society of London." "A Century of Inventions." Wild's "History of the Royal Society." "The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society." Richardson's "Life of Milton." Philip's "Life of Milton." Johnson's "Lives of the Poets." Aubrey's "Collections for the Life of Milton." Langbaine's "Lives and Characters of the English Dramatic Poets." "Some Remarkable Passages in the Life of Mr. Wycherley." "Some Account of what Occurred at the King's Death," by Richard Huddlestone, O.S.B. "A True Narrative of the late King's Death."
Cromwell is sick unto death.—Fears and suspicions.—Killing no Murder.—A memorable storm.—The end of all.—Richard Cromwell made Protector,—He refuses to shed blood. Disturbance and dissatisfaction.—Downfall of Richard.—Charles Stuart proclaimed king.—Rejoicement of the nation.—The king comes into his own.—Entry into London.—Public joy and festivity.
The story of the king's escape.—He accepts the Covenant, and lands in Scotland.—Crowned at Scone.—Proclaimed king at Carlisle.—The battle of Worcester,—Bravery of Charles.—Disloyalty of the Scottish cavalry.—The Royalists defeated.—The king's flight.—Seeks refuge in Boscobel Wood. The faithful Pendrells.—Striving to cross the Severn.—Hiding in an oak tree.—Sheltered by Master Lane. Sets out with Mistress Lane.—Perilous escapes.—On the road.—The king is recognised.—Strange adventures.—His last night in England.
Celebration of the king's return. Those who flocked to Whitehall.—My Lord Cleveland's gentlemen.—Sir Thomas Allen's supper.—Touching for king's evil.—That none might lose their labour—The man with the fungus nose.—The memory of the regicides.—Cromwell's effigy.—Ghastly scene at Tyburn.—The king's clemency.—The Coronation procession.—Sights and scenes by the way.—His majesty is crowned
The king's character.—His proverbial grace.—He tells a story well.—"A warmth and sweetness of the blood."—Beautiful Barbara Palmer.—Her intrigue with my Lord Chesterfield.—James, Duke of York. His early days.—Escape from St. James's.—Fights in the service of France.—Marriage with Anne Hyde.—Sensation at Court.—The Duke of Gloucester's death.—The Princess of Orange.—Schemes against the Duke of York's peace.—The "lewd informer."—Anne Hyde is acknowledged Duchess of York.
Morality of the restoration.—Puritan piety.—Cromwell's intrigues.—Conduct of women under the Republic.—Some notable courtiers.—The Duke of Ormond and his family.—Lord St. Albans and Henry Jermyn.—His Grace of Buckingham and Mistress Fairfax.—Lord Rochester.—Delights all hearts.—The king's projected marriage.—Catherine of Braganza.—His majesty's speech.—A royal love-letter.—The new queen sets sail.
The king's intrigue with Barbara Palmer.—The queen arrives at Portsmouth.—Visited by the Duke of York.—The king leaves town.—First interview with his bride.—His letter to the lord chancellor.—Royal marriage and festivities.—Arrival at Hampton Court Palace.—Prospects of a happy union.—Lady Castlemaine gives birth to a second child.—The king's infatuation.—Mistress and wife.—The queen's misery.—The king's cruelty.—Lord Clarendon's messages.—His majesty resolves to break the queen's spirit.—End of the domestic quarrel.
Their majesties arrive at Whitehall.—My Lady Castlemaine a spectator.—Young Mr. Crofts.—New arrivals at court.—The Hamilton family.—The Chevalier de Grammont.—Mrs. Middleton and Miss Kirke.—At the queen's ball.—La belle Hamilton.—The queen mother at Somerset House.—The Duke of Monmouth's marriage.—Fair Frances Stuart.—Those who court her favour.—The king's passion.
The Duke of York's intrigues.—My Lady Chesterfield and his royal highness.—The story of Lady Southesk's love,—Lord Arran plays the guitar.—Lord Chesterfield is jealous.—The countess is taken from court.—Mistress Margaret Brooks and the king.—Lady Denham and the duke.—Sir John goes mad.—My lady is poisoned.
Court life under the merry monarch.—Riding in Hyde Park.—Sailing on the Thames.—Ball at Whitehall.—Petit soupers.—What happened at Lady Gerrard's.—Lady Castlemaine quarrels with the king.—Flight to Richmond.—The queen falls ill.—The king's grief and remorse.—Her majesty speaks.—Her secret sorrow finds voice in delirium.—Frances Stuart has hopes.—The queen recovers.
Notorious courtiers.—My Lord Rochester's satires.—Places a watch on certain ladies of quality.—His majesty becomes indignant.—Rochester retires to the country.—Dons a disguise and returns to town.—Practises astrology.—Two maids of honour seek adventure.—Mishaps which befell them.—Rochester forgiven.—The Duke of Buckingham.—Lady Shrewsbury and her victims.—Captain Howard's duel.—Lord Shrewsbury avenges his honour.—A strange story.—Colonel Blood attempts an abduction.—Endeavours to steal the regalia.—The king converses with him.
Terror falls upon the people.—Rumours of a plague.—A sign in the heavens.—Flight from the capital.—Preparations against the dreaded enemy.—Dr. Boghurst's testimony.—God's terrible voice in the city.—Rules made by the lord mayor.—Massacre of animals.—O, dire death!—Spread of the distemper.—Horrible sights.—State of the deserted capital.—"Bring out your dead."—Ashes to ashes.—Fires are lighted.—Relief of the poor.—The mortality bills.
A cry of fire by night.—Fright and confusion.—The lord mayor is unmanned.—Spread of the flames.—Condition of the streets.—Distressful scenes.—Destruction of the Royal Exchange.—Efforts of the king and the Duke of York.—Strange rumours and alarms, St. Paul's is doomed.—The flames checked.—A ruined city as seen by day and night.—Wretched state of the people.—Investigation into the origin of the fire.—A new city arises.
The court repairs to Oxford—Lady Castlemaine's son.—Their majesties return to Whitehall.—The king quarrels with his mistress.—Miss Stuart contemplates marriage.—Lady Castlemaine attempts revenge.—Charles makes an unpleasant discovery.—The maid of honour elopes.—His majesty rows down the Thames.—Lady Castlemaine's intrigues.—Fresh quarrels at court.—The king on his knees.
The kingdom in peril.—The chancellor falls under his majesty's displeasure.—The Duke of Buckingham's mimicry.—Lady Castlemaine's malice.—Lord Clarendon's fall.—The Duke of Ormond offends the king's mistress.—She covers him with abuse.—Plots against the Duke of York.—Schemes for a royal divorce.—Moll Davis and Nell Gwynn.—The king and the comedian.—Lady Castlemaine abandons herself to great disorders.—Young Jack Spencer.—The countess intrigues with an acrobat.—Talk of the town.—The mistress created a duchess.
Louise de Querouaille.—The Triple Alliance.—Louise is created Duchess of Portsmouth,—Her grace and the impudent comedian.—Madam Ellen moves in society. The young Duke of St. Albans.—Strange story of the Duchess of Mazarine.—Entertaining the wits at Chelsea.—Luxurious suppers.—profligacy and wit.
A storm threatens the kingdom—The Duke of York is touched in his conscience.—His interview with Father Simons.—The king declares his mind.—The Duchess of York becomes a catholic.—The circumstances of her death.—The Test Act introduced.—Agitation of the nation.—The Duke of York marries again.—Lord Shaftesbury's schemes.—The Duke of Monmouth.—William of Orange and the Princess Mary.—Their marriage and departure from England.
The threatened storm bursts.—History of Titus Oates and Dr. Tonge.—A dark scheme concocted.—The king is warned of danger.—The narrative of a horrid plot laid before the treasurer.—Forged letters.—Titus Oates before the council.—His blunders.—A mysterious murder.—Terror of the citizens.—Lord Shaftesbury's schemes.—Papists are banished from the capital.—Catholic peers committed to the Tower.—Oates is encouraged.
Reward for the discovery of murderers.—Bedlow's character and evidence.—His strange story.—Development of the "horrid plot."—William Staley is made a victim.—Three Jesuits hung.—Titus Oates pronounced the saviour of his country.—Striving to ruin the queen.—Monstrous story of Bedlow and Oates.—The king protects her majesty.—Five Jesuits executed.—Fresh rumours concerning the papists.—Bill to exclude the Duke of York.—Lord Stafford is tried.—Scene at Tower Hill.—Fate of the conspirators.
London under Charles II.—Condition and appearance of the thoroughfares.—Coffee is first drunk in the capital.—Taverns and their frequenters.—The city by night.—Wicked people do creep about.—Companies of young gentlemen.—The Duke of Monmouth kills a beadle.—Sir Charles Sedley's frolic.—Stately houses of the nobility.—St. James's Park.—Amusement of the town.—At Bartholomew Fair.—Bull, bear, and dog fights.—Some quaint sports.
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.
A period rich in literature.—John Milton's early life.—Writing "Paradise Lost."—Its publication and success.—His later works and death.—John Dryden gossips with wits and players.—Lord Rochester's revenge.—Elkanah Settle.—John Crowne.—Thomas Otway rich in miseries.—Dryden assailed by villains.—The ingenious Abraham Cowley.—The author of "Hudibras."—Young Will Wycherley and Lady Castlemaine. The story of his marriage.—Andrew Marvell, poet and politician.—John Bunyan.
Time's flight leaves the king unchanged.—The Rye House conspiracy.—Profligacy of the court.—The three duchesses.—The king is taken ill.—The capital in consternation.—Dr. Ken questions his majesty.—A Benedictine monk is sent for.—Charles professes catholicity and receives the Sacraments.—Farewell to all.—His last night on earth.—Daybreak and death.—He rests in peace.
or, LONDON UNDER CHARLES II.
Cromwell is sick unto death.—Fears and suspicions.—Killing no Murder.—A memorable storm.—The end of all.—Richard Cromwell made Protector.—He refuses to shed blood.—Disturbance and dissatisfaction.—Downfall of Richard.—Charles Stuart proclaimed king.—Rejoicement of the nation.—The king comes into his own.—Entry into London.—Public joy and satisfaction.
On the 30th of January, 1649, Charles I. was beheaded. In the last days of August in the year of grace 1658, Oliver Cromwell lay sick unto death at the Palace of Whitehall. On the 27th day of June in the previous year, he had, in the Presence of the Judges of the land, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City, and Members of Parliament assembled at Westminster Hall, seated himself on the coronation chair of the Stuarts, assumed the title of Lord Protector, donned a robe of violet velvet, girt his loins with a sword of state, and grasped the sceptre, symbolic of kingly power. From that hour distrust beset his days, his nights were fraught with fear. All his keen and subtle foresight, his strong and restless energies, had since then been exerted in suppressing plots against his power, and detecting schemes against his life, concocted by the Republicans whose liberty he had betrayed, and by the Royalists whose king he had beheaded.
Soon after he had assumed the title of Lord High Protector, a most daring pamphlet, openly advocating his assassination, was circulated in vast numbers throughout the kingdom. It was entitled "Killing no Murder," and was dedicated in language outrageously bold to His Highness Oliver Cromwell. "To your Highness justly belongs the honour of dying for the people," it stated, "and it cannot but be an unspeakable consolation to you, in the last moments of your life, to consider with how much benefit to the world you are likely to leave it. It is then only, my lord, the titles you now usurp will be truly yours; you will then be, indeed, the deliverer of your country, and free it from a bondage little inferior to that from which Moses delivered his, you will then be that true reformer which you would now be thought; religion shall then be restored, liberty asserted, and Parliaments have those privileges they have sought for. All this we hope from your Highness's happy expiration. To hasten this great good is the chief end of my writing this paper; and if it have the effects I hope it will, your Highness will quickly be out of the reach of men's malice, and your enemies will only be able to wound you in your memory, which strokes you will not feel."
The possession of life becomes dearest when its forfeiture is threatened, and therefore Cromwell took all possible means to guard against treachery—the only foe he feared, and feared exceedingly. "His sleeps were disturbed with the apprehensions of those dangers the day presented unto him in the approaches of any strange face, whose motion he would most fixedly attend," writes James Heath, gentleman, in his "Chronicles," published in 1675. "Above all, he very carefully observed such whose mind or aspect were featured with any chearful and debonair lineaments; for such he boded were they that would despatch him; to that purpose he always went secretly armed, both offensive and defensive; and never stirred without a great guard. In his usual journey between Whitehall and Hampton Court, by several roads, he drove full speed in the summer time, making such a dust with his life-guard, part before and part behinde, at a convenient distance, for fear of choaking him with it, that one could hardly see for a quarter of an hour together, and always came in some private way or other." The same authority, in his "Life of Cromwell," states of him, "It was his constant custom to shift and change his lodging, to which he passed through twenty several locks, and out of which he had four or five ways to avoid pursuit." Welwood, in his "Memoirs," adds the Protector wore a coat of mail beneath his dress, and carried a poniard under his cloak.
Nor was this all. According to the "Chronicle of the late Intestine War," Cromwell "would sometimes pretend to be merry, and invite persons, of whom he had some suspicion, to his cups, and then drill out of their open hearts such secrets as he wisht for. He had freaks also to divert the vexations of his misgiving thoughts, calling on by the beat of drum his footguards, like a kennel of hounds to snatch away the scraps and reliques of his table. He said every man's hand was against him, and that he ran daily into further perplexities, out of which it was impossible to extricate, or secure himself therein, without running into further danger; so that he began to alter much in the tenour of his former converse, and to run and transform into the manners of the ancient tyrants, thinking to please and mitigate his own tortures with the sufferings of others."
But now the fate his vigilance had hitherto combated at last overtook him in a manner impossible to evade. He was attacked by divers infirmities, but for some time made no outward sign of his suffering, until one day five physicians came and waited on him, as Dr. George Bate states in his ELENCHUS MOTUUM NUPERORUM. And one of them, feeling his pulse, declared his Highness suffered from an intermittent fever; hearing which "he looked pale, fell into a cold sweat, almost fainted away, and orders himself to be carried to bed." His fright, however, was but momentary. He was resolved to live. He had succeeded in raising himself to a position of vast power, but had failed in attaining the great object of his ambition—the crowned sovereignty of the nation he had stirred to its centre, and conquered to its furthest limits. Brought face to face with death, his indomitable will, which had shaped untoward circumstances to his accord with a force like unto fate itself, now determined to conquer his shadowy enemy which alone intercepted his path to the throne. Therefore as he lay in bed he said to those around him with that sanctity of speech which had cloaked his cruellest deeds and dissembled his most ambitious designs, "I would be willing to live to be further serviceable to God and his people."
As desires of waking hours are answered in sleep, so in response to his nervous craving for life he had delusive assurances of health through the special bounty of Providence. He was therefore presently able to announce he "had very great discoveries of the Lord to him in his sickness, and hath some certainty of being restored;" as Fleetwood, his son-in-law, wrote on the 24th of August in this same year.
Accordingly, when one of the physicians came to him next morning, the High Protector said, "Why do you look sad?" To which the man of lore replied evasively, "So it becomes anyone who had the weighty care of his life and health upon him." Then Cromwell to this purpose spoke: "You think I shall die; I tell you I shall not die this bout; I am sure on't. Don't think I am mad. I speak the words of truth upon surer grounds than Galen or your Hippocrates furnish you with. God Almighty himself hath given that answer, not to my prayers alone, but also to the prayers of those who entertain a stricter commerce and greater intimacy with him. Ye may have skill in the nature of things, yet nature can do more than all physicians put together, and God is far above nature." The doctor besought him to rest, and left the room. Outside he met one of his colleagues, to whom he gave it as his opinion their patient had grown light-headed, and he repeated the words which Cromwell had spoken. "Then," said his brother-physician, "you are certainly a stranger in this house; don't you know what was done last night? The chaplain and all their friends being dispersed into several parts of the palace have prayed to God for his health, and they all heard the voice of God saying, 'He will recover,' and so they are all certain of it."
"Never, indeed, was there a greater stock of prayers going on for any man," as Thurlow, his secretary, writes. So sure were those around him that Providence must hearken to and grant the fulfilment of such desires as they thought well to express, that, as Thomas Goodwin, one of Cromwell's chaplains, said, "We asked not for the Protector's life, for we were assured He had too great things for this man to do, to remove him yet; but we prayed for his speedy recovery, because his life and presence were so necessary to divers things then of great moment to be despatched." When this Puritanical fanatic was presently disappointed, Bishop Burnet narrates "he had the impudence to say to God, 'Thou hast deceived us.'"
Meanwhile the Protector lay writhing in pain and terror. His mind was sorely troubled at remembrance of the last words spoken by his daughter Elizabeth, who had threatened judgments upon him because of his refusal to save the King; whilst his body was grievously racked with a tertian fever, and a foul humour which, beginning in his foot, worked its way steadily to his heart. Moreover, some insight regarding his future seemed given to him in his last days, for he appeared, as Ludlow, his contemporary, states, "above all concerned for the reproaches he saw men would cast upon his name, in tramping upon his ashes when dead."
On the 30th of August his danger became evident even to himself, and all hope of life left him. For hours after the certain approach of death became undeniably certain, he remained quiet and speechless, seemingly heedless of the exhortation and prayers of his chaplains, till suddenly turning to one of them, he whispered, "Tell me, is it possible to fall from grace?" The preacher had a soothing reply ready: "It is not," he answered. "Then," exclaimed this unhappy man, whose soul was red with the blood of thousands of his countrymen, "I am safe, for I know I was once in grace." Anon he cries out, whilst tossing wildly on his bed, "Lord, although I am a miserable and a wretched creature, I am in covenant with Thee through grace, and I may and will come to Thee for Thy people. Pardon such as desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm. And give us a good night if it be Thy pleasure. Amen."
It was now the 2nd of September. As the evening of that day approached he fell into a stupor, and those who watched him thought the end had come.
Within the darkened chamber in Whitehall all was silence and gloom; without all was tumult and fear. Before the gates of the palace a turbulent crowd of soldiers and citizens had gathered in impatient anxiety. Those he had raised to power, those whose fortunes depended on his life, were steeped in gloom; those whose principles he had outraged by his usurpation, those whose position he had crushed by his sway, rejoiced at heart. Not only the capital, but the whole nation, was divided into factions which one strong hand alone had been able to control; and terror, begotten by dire remembrances of civil war and bloodshed, abode with all lovers of peace.
As evening closed in, the elements appeared in unison with the distracted condition of the kingdom. Dark clouds, seeming of ominous import to men's minds, gathered in the heavens, to be presently torn asunder and hurried in wild flight by tempestuous winds across the troubled sky. As night deepened, the gale steadily increased, until it raged in boundless fury above the whole island and the seas that rolled around its shores. In town houses rocked on their foundations, turrets and steeples were flung from their places; in the country great trees were uprooted, corn-stacks levelled to the ground, and winter fruits destroyed; whilst at sea ships sank to rise no more. This memorable storm lasted all night, and continued until three o'clock next afternoon, when Cromwell expired.
His body was immediately embalmed, but was of necessity interred in great haste. Westminster Abbey, the last home of kings and princes, was selected as the fittest resting-place for the regicide. Though it was impossible to honour his remains by stately ceremonials, his followers were not content to let the occasion of his death pass with-out commemoration. They therefore had a waxen image of him made, which they resolved to surround with all the pomp and circumstances of royalty. For this purpose they carried it to Somerset House—one of the late King's palaces—and placed it on a couch of crimson velvet beneath a canopy of state. Upon its shoulders they hung a purple mantle, in its right hand they placed a golden sceptre, and by its side they laid an imperial crown, probably the same which, according to Welwood, the Protector had secretly caused to be made and conveyed to Whitehall with a view to his coronation. The walls and ceiling of the room in which the effigy lay were covered by sable velvet; the passages leading to it crowded with soldiery. After a few weeks the town grew tired of this sight, when the waxen image was taken to another apartment, hung with rich velvets and golden tissue, and otherwise adorned to symbolize heaven, when it was placed upon a throne, clad "in a shirt of fine Holland lace, doublet and breeches of Spanish fashion with great skirts, silk stockings, shoe-strings and gaiters suitable, and black Spanish leather shoes." Over this attire was flung a cloak of purple velvet, and on his head was placed a crown with many precious stones. The room was then lit, as Ludlow narrates, "by four or five hundred candles set in flat shining candlesticks, so placed round near the roof that the light they gave seemed like the rays of the sun, by all which he was represented to be now in a state of glory." Lest, indeed, there should be any doubt as to the place where his soul abode, Sterry, the Puritan preacher, imparted the information to all, that the Protector "now sat with Christ at the right hand of the Father."
But this pomp and state in no may overawed the people, who, by pelting with mire Cromwell's escutcheon placed above the great gate of Somerset House gave evidence of the contempt in which they held his memory. After a lapse of over two months from the day of his death, the effigy was carried to Westminster Abbey with more than regal ceremony, the expenses of his lying-in-state and of his funeral procession amounting, as stated by Walker and Noble, to upwards of L29,000. "It was the joyfullest funeral I ever saw," writes Evelyn, "for there were none that cried but dogs, which the soldiers hooted away with a barbarous noise, drinking and taking tobacco as they went."
A little while before his death Cromwell had named his eldest surviving son, Richard, as his successor, and he was accordingly declared Protector, with the apparent consent of the council, soldiers, and citizens. Nor did the declaration cause any excitement, "There is not a dog who wags his tongue, so profound is the calm which we are in," writes Thurlow to Oliver's second son, Henry, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. But if the nation in its dejection made no signs of resistance, neither did it give any indications of satisfaction, and Richard was proclaimed "with as few expressions of joy as had ever been observed on a like occasion." For a brief while a stupor seemed to lull the factious party spirit which was shortly to plunge the country into fresh difficulties. The Cromwellians and Republicans foresaw resistless strife, and the Royalists quietly and hopefully abided results.
Nor had they long to wait. In the new Parliament assembled in January, 1659, the Republicans showed themselves numerous and bold beyond measure, and hesitated to recognise Richard Cromwell as successor to the Protectorate. However, on the 14th of the following month the Cromwellians gained the upper hand, when Richard was confirmed in his title of "Lord Protector, and First Magistrate of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with all the territories depending thereon." Further discussion quickly followed. "One party thinks the Protectorate cannot last; the other that the Republican cannot raise itself again; the indifferent hope that both will be right. It is easy to foretell the upshot," writes Hyde. The disunion spread rapidly and widely; not only was the Parliament divided against itself, but so likewise was the army; and the new Protector had neither the courage nor the ability to put down strife with a strong hand. Richard Cromwell was a man of peaceful disposition, gentle manners and unambitious mind, whom fate had forced into a position for which he was in no way fitted. By one of those strange contradictions which nature sometimes produces, he differed in all things from his father; for not only was he pleasure-loving, joyous, and humane, but he was, moreover, a Royalist at heart, and continued in friendship with the Cavaliers up to the period of his proclamation as Protector. It has been stated that, falling on his knees, he entreated his father to spare the life of Charles I.; it is certain he remained inactive whilst the civil wars devastated the land; and there is evidence to show that, during the seven months and twenty-eight days of his Protectorship, he shrank from the perpetration of cruelty and crime. Accordingly, when those who had at first supported his authority eventually conspired against him, he refrained from using his power to crush them. At this his friends were wrath. "It is time to look about you," said Lord Howard, speaking with the bluntness of a friend. "Empire and command are not now the question. Your person, your life are in peril. You are the son of Cromwell; show yourself worthy to be his son. This business requires a bold stroke, and must be supported by a good head. Do not suffer yourself to be daunted. I will rid you of your enemies: do you stand by me, and only back my zeal for your honour with your name; my head shall answer for the consequences."
Colonel Ingoldsby seconded the advice Lord Howard gave, but Richard Cromwell hearkened to neither. "I have never done anybody any harm, and never will," said he, "will not have a drop of blood spilt for the preservation of my greatness, which is a burden to me." At this Lord Howard was indignant. "Do you think," he asked, "this moderation of yours will repair the wrong your family has committed by its elevation? Everybody knows that by violence your father procured the death of the late king, and kept his sons in banishment: mercy in the present state of affairs is unreasonable. Lay aside this pussillanimity; every moment is precious; your enemies spend the time in acting which we waste in consulting." "Talk no more of it," answered the Protector. "I am thankful for your friendship, but violent counsels suit not with me."
The climax was at hand; his fall was but a question of time. "A wonderfull and suddaine change in ye face of ye publiq," writes Evelyn, on the 25th of April, 1659. "Ye new Protector Richard slighted; several pretenders and parties strove for the Government; all anarchy and confusion. Lord have mercy on us!"
Before the month of May had expired, the House of Commons commissioned two of its members to bid Richard Cromwell leave the palace of Whitehall, and obtain his signature to a deed wherein he acknowledged complete submission to Parliament. His brief inglorious reign was therefore at an end. "As with other men," he wrote to the House of Commons, "I expect protection from the present Government: I do hold myself obliged to demean myself with all the peaceableness under it, and to procure, to the utmost of my power, that all in whom I have any interest to do the same." He retired into Hampshire, where he dwelt as a private gentleman. His brother Henry resigned his position as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and settled in Cambridgeshire. From this time the name of Cromwell was no longer a power in the land.
During two years subsequent to the death of Oliver the government of England underwent various changes, and the kingdom suffered many disorders; until, being heartily sick of anarchy, the people desired a king might once more reign over them accordingly, they turned their eyes towards the son of him whom "the boldest villany that ever any nation saw" had sent to the block. And the time being ripe, Charles Stuart, then an exile in Breda, despatched Sir John Grenville with royal letters to both Houses of Parliament, likewise to the Lord Mayor of London and members of the Common Council, to Monk, commander of the forces, and Montagu, admiral of the fleet. These letters were received with so universal a joy and applause, that Parliament forthwith ordained Charles Stuart should be proclaimed "the most potent, mighty, and undoubted King of England, Scotland and Ireland." Moreover, both Houses agreed that an honourable body of Commissioners, all men of great quality and birth, should be sent to the king with letters, humbly begging his majesty would be pleased to hasten his long-desired return into England. And because they knew full well the royal exchequer was empty, Parliament ordered these noble gentlemen to carry with them a present of fifty thousand pieces of gold to the king, together with ten thousand to his brother of York, and five thousand to his brother of Gloucester. Nor was the City of London backwards in sending expressions of loyalty and tokens of homage and devotion; to evince which twenty valiant men and worthy citizens were despatched with messages of goodwill towards him, and presents in gold to the amount of twelve thousand pounds.
And presently Admiral Montagu arriving with his fleet upon the coast of Holland, awaited his majesty near Scheveling; and all things being in readiness the king with his royal brothers and a most noble train set sail for England.
It came to pass that on the 25th day of May, 1660, a vast concourse of nobility, gentry, and citizens had assembled at Dover to meet and greet their sovereign king, Charles II., on his landing. On the fair morning of that day a sound of cannon thundering from the castle announced that the fleet, consisting of "near forty sail of great men-of-war," which conveyed his majesty to his own, was in sight; whereon an innumerable crowd betook its joyful way to the shore. The sun was most gloriously bright, the sky cloudless, the sea calm. Far out upon the blue horizon white-winged ships could be clearly discerned. By three o'clock in the afternoon they had reached the harbour, when the king, embarking in a galley most richly adorned, was rowed to shore. Then cannon roared once more from the castle, and were answered from the beach; bells rang from church towers, and a mighty shout went up from the hearts of the people.
In the midst of these rejoicings Charles II. landed, and the gallant General Monk, who had been mainly instrumental in bringing his royal master to the throne without loss of blood, now fell upon his knees to greet his majesty. The king raised the general from the ground, embraced and kissed him. Then the nobility hastened to pay their duty likewise, and the Mayor and Aldermen of Dover presented him with a most loyal address. And presently, with the roar of cannon, the clangour of bells, the sound of music, and the shouts of a great multitude ringing in his ears, the king advanced on his way towards Canterbury. At the gates of this ancient city he was met by the mayor and aldermen, and was presented by them with a golden tankard, Here he spent the following day, which being Sunday, he went with a great train to the cathedral, where service according to the Church of England, long disused by the Puritans, was restored, to the satisfaction of many.
Setting out from Canterbury on Monday, the 29th of May—which was, moreover, the anniversary of his birth—he journeyed to Blackheath, where he reviewed the forces drawn up with great pomp and military splendour to greet him, and bestowed many gracious expressions on them. Then, having received assurances of their loyal homage through their commander, Colonel Knight, he turned towards London town. And the nearer he approached, the more dense became crowds thronging to meet him; the fields on either side the long white road being filled with persons of all conditions, who cheered him lustily. As he passed they flung leaves of trees and sweet May flowers beneath his horse's feet, and waved green boughs on high, And when he came to St. George's Fields, there was my lord mayor in his robes of new velvet, wearing his collar of wrought gold, and attended by his aldermen in brave apparel likewise. Going down on his knees my lord mayor presented the king with the city sword, which his majesty with some happy expressions of confidence gave back into his good keeping, having first struck him with it upon the shoulder and bade him rise up Sir Thomas Allen. Whereon that worthy man rose to his feet and conducted the king to a large and richly adorned pavilion, and entertained him at a splendid collation, it being then one of the clock. And being refreshed his majesty set forth again, and entered the city, which had never before shown so brave and goodly an appearance as on this May day, when all the world seemed mad with joy.
From London Bridge even to Whitehall Palace the way was lined on one side by the train-bands of the city, and on the other by the city companies in their rich livery gowns; to which were added a number of gentlemen volunteers, all in white doublets, commanded by Sir John Stanel. Across the streets hung garlands of spring flowers that made the air most sweet, and at the corners thereof were arches of white hawthorn in full bloom, bedecked with streamers of gay colours. From wooden railed balconies, jutting windows, and quaint gables hung fair tapestries, rich silks, and stuffs of brilliant hues; and from the high red chimneys, grey turrets, and lofty spires, floated flags bearing the royal arms of England, and banners inscribed with such mottoes as loyalty and affection could suggest. The windows and galleries were filled with ladies of quality in bright dresses; the roofs and scaffolding, with citizens of all classes, who awaited with eager and joyous faces to salute their lord and king.
And presently, far down the line of streets, a sound was heard of innumerable voices cheering most lustily, which every minute became nearer and louder, till at last a blare of trumpets was distinguished, followed by martial music, and the tramp and confusion of a rushing crowd which suddenly parted on all sides. Then there burst on view the first sight of that brave and glorious cavalcade to the number of twenty thousand, which ushered the king back unto his own. First came a troop of young and comely gentlemen, three hundred in all, representing the pride and valour of the kingdom, wearing cloth of silver doublets and brandishing naked swords which flashed in the sunlight. Then another company, less by a hundred in number, habited in rich velvet coats, their footmen clad in purple liveries; and next a goodly troop under the command of Sir John Robinson, all dressed in buff coats with cloth of silver sleeves, and green scarves most handsome to behold. These were followed by a brave troop in blue doublets adorned with silver lace, carrying banners of red silk fringed with gold. Then came trumpets, and seven footmen in sea-green and silver liveries, bearing banners of blue silk, followed by a troop in grey and blue to the number of two hundred and twenty, and led by the most noble the Earl of Northampton. After various other companies, all brave in apparel, came two trumpets bearing his majesty's arms, followed by the sheriffs' men in red cloaks and silver lace, and by a great body of gentlemen in black velvet coats with gold chains. Next rode six hundred brave citizens, twelve ministers, the king's life guards, led by Sir Gilbert Gerrard, the city marshals with eight footmen, the city waits and officers, the sheriffs and aldermen in scarlet gowns, the maces and heralds in great splendour, the lord mayor carrying a naked sword in his strong right hand, the Duke of Buckingham, and General Monk, soon to be created Duke of Albermarle.
Now other heralds sound their trumpets with blasts that make all hearts beat quicker; church bells ring far louder than before; voices are raised to their highest pitch, excitement reaches its zenith, for here, mounted on a stately horse caparisoned in royal purple and adorned with gold, rides King Charles himself; on his right hand his brother of York, on his left his brother of Gloucester. Handkerchiefs are waved, flowers are flung before his way, words of welcome fall upon his ear, in answer to which he bows with stately grace, smiles most pleasantly, and gives such signs of delight as "cheared the hearts of all loyal subjects even to extasie and transportation." Last of all came five regiments of cavalry, with back, breast, and head piece, which "diversified the show with delight and terrour." John Evelyn stood in the Strand and watched the procession pass, when that worthy man thanked God the king had been restored without bloodshed, and by the very army that had rebelled against him. "For such a restauration was never mention'd in any history ancient or modern, since the returne of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; nor so joyfull a day and so bright ever seene in this nation, this hapning when to expect or effect it was past all human policy."
For full seven hours this "most pompous show that ever was" wound its way through the city, until at nine of the clock in the evening it brought his majesty to the palace of Whitehall, where the late king had "laid down his sacred head to be struck off upon a block," almost twelve years before. Then the lord mayor and his aldermen took their goodly leave, and the king entered into the banquet hall, where the lords and commons awaited him, and where an address was made to him by the Earl of Manchester, Speaker to the House of Peers, congratulating him on his miraculous preservation and happy restoration to his crown and dignity after so long and so severe a suppression of his just right and title. Likewise his lordship besought his majesty to be the upright assertor of the laws and maintainer of the liberties of his subjects. "So," said the noble earl, "shall judgment run down like a river, and justice like a mighty stream, and God, the God of your mercy, who hath so miraculously preserved you, will establish your throne in righteousness and peace." Then the king made a just and brief reply, and retired to supper and to rest.
The worthy citizens, however, were not satisfied that their rejoicements should end here, and "as soon as night came," says Dr. Bate, "an artificial day was begun again, the whole city seeming to be one great light, as, indeed, properly it was a luminary of loyalty, the bonfires continuing till daybreak, fed by a constant supply of wood, and maintained with an equal excess of gladness and fewel." Wine flowed from public fountains, volleys of shot were discharged from houses of the nobility, drums and other musical instruments played in the streets, citizens danced most joyfully in open places, and the effigy of Cromwell was burned, together with the arms of the Commonwealth with expressions of great delight.
The story of the king's escape.—He accepts the Covenant and lands in Scotland.—Crowned at Scone.—Proclaimed king at Carlisle.—The battle of Worcester.—Bravery of Charles.—Disloyalty of the Scottish cavalry.—The Royalists defeated.—The King's flight.—Seeks refuge in Boscobel Wood.—The faithful Pendrells.—Striving to cross the Severn.—Hiding in an oak tree.—Sheltered by Master Lane.—Sets out with Mistress Lane.—Perilous escapes.—On the road.—The king is recognised.—Strange adventures.—His last night in England.
That King Charles had been miraculously preserved, as my Lord Manchester set forth, there can be no doubt. His courageous efforts to regain the Crown at the battle of Worcester and his subsequent escapes from the vigilant pursuits of the Cromwellian soldiers, would, if set down in justice and with detail, present a story more entertaining than any romance ever written. Here they must of necessity be mentioned with brevity.
In the year 1645, Charles I., having suffered the loss of many great battles, became fearful of the danger which threatened his family and himself. He therefore ordered his son Charles, who had already retired into the west, to seek refuge in the Scilly Isles. The prince complied with his desires, and went from thence to Paris, where his mother, Henrietta Maria, had already taken shelter, and, after a short stay with her, travelled to the Hague. Soon after the king was beheaded, the Scots, who regarded that foul act with great abhorrence, invited Charles to come into their kingdom, provided he accepted certain hard conditions, which left the government of all civil business in the hands of Parliament, and the regulation of all religious matters in charge of the Presbyterians. No other prospect of regaining his rights, and of enabling him to fight for his throne presenting itself, he accepted what was known as the Covenant, and landed in Scotland in 1650. He was received with the respect due to a monarch, but placed under the surveillance forced on a prisoner. The fanatical Presbyterians, jealous of that potent influence which his blithe ways exercised over all with whom he associated, neither permitted him to attend the council nor command the army; they, however, preached to him incessantly, admonished him of his sins and those of his parents, guarded him as a captive, and treated him as a puppet. Meanwhile Cromwell, being made aware of his presence in the kingdom, advanced at the head of a powerful body into Scotland, fought and won the battle of Dunbar, stormed and captured Leith, and took his triumphal way towards Edinburgh town. Charles was at this time in Perth, and being impatient at his enforced inaction whilst battles were fought in his name, and lives lost in his cause, made his escape from the Covenanters, with the determination of arousing the Royalists who lay in the north. But the Scots soon overtook and recaptured him. However, this decisive action awoke them to a better understanding of the deference due to his position, and therefore they crowned him at Scone on the first day of the year 1651, with much solemnity, and subsequently made him commander of the army.
After spending some months in reorganizing the troops, he boldly declared his intention of marching into England, and fighting the rebel force. Accordingly, on the 31st of July, 1651, he set out from Sterling with an army of between eleven and twelve thousand men. At Carlisle he was proclaimed king, and a declaration was published in his name, granting free grace and pardon to all his subjects in England, of whatever nature or cause their offences, saving Cromwell, Bradshaw and Cooke. He then marched to Lancashire, and on the 23rd of August unfurled the Royal standard at Worcester, amidst the enthusiastic acclamations of his troops and the loyal demonstrations of the citizens. Weary of civil strife, depressed with fear of Cromwell's severities, and distrustful of the Presbyterians, who chiefly composed the young king's army, the Royalists had not gathered to his standard in such numbers as he had anticipated. His troops, since leaving Scotland, had been reinforced merely by two thousand men; but Charles had hopes that fresh recruits would join him when news of the rising got noised abroad.
The Republicans were filled with dismay at the king's determined action, but were prompt to make a counter-move, Accordingly, additional troops were levied, London was left to be defended by volunteers, and Cromwell, heading an army of thirty-four thousand men, marched against the Royalists. On the 28th of August, they drew near Worcester, and on the 3rd of September the battle was fought which will remain for ever famous in the annals of civil war. On the morning of that day, the king, ascending the cathedral tower, saw the enemy's forces advancing towards Worcester: before reaching the city, it was necessary they should cross the Severn, and, in order to prevent this if possible, Charles hurried down and directed that some of his troops, under the command of Montgomery, should defend Powick Bridge; whilst he stationed others under Colonel Pitscottie lower down, at a point of the river towards which the Republicans were marching with pontoons, by means of which they intended to cross. The young king, hopeful of victory and full of enthusiasm, rode speedily out at the head of his troops and placed them at their various stations. Scarcely had he done so, when he became aware that the main body of the enemy had opened an artillery fire on Fort Royal, which guarded the city on the south-east side. He therefore galloped back in hot haste to headquarters, and reconnoitred the advanced posts eastward of the city, in full front of the enemy's fire. Meanwhile Montgomery, having exhausted his ammunition, was obliged to retreat in disorder from Powick Bridge, followed by the Cromwellians. The king now courageously resolved to attack the enemy's camp at Perry Wood, which lay south-east of Worcester. Accordingly he marched out with the flower of his Highland infantry and the English cavaliers, led by the Dukes of Hamilton and Buckingham. Cromwell, seeing this, hastened to intercept the king's march, whereon a fierce battle was bravely fought on either side. Nothing could be more valiant than the conduct of the young king, who showed himself wholly regardless of his life in the fierce struggle for his rights. Twice was his horse shot under him; but increasing danger seemed but to animate him to greater daring. So bravely did his army fight likewise, that the Republicans at first gave way before them. For upwards of four hours the engagement raged with great fierceness. Cromwell subsequently declared it was "as stiff a contest as he had ever seen," and his experience was great. Success seemed now to crown the Royalists, anon to favour the Roundheads. The great crisis of the day at length arrived: the Cromwellians began to waver and give way just as the Royalist cavalry had expended their ammunition; the king had still three thousand Scotch cavalry in the rear under the command of Leslie, who had not yet been called into action. He therefore ordered them to advance; but, to his horror, not one of these men, who had looked on as passive spectators, made a movement. In this hour, when victory or defeat hung upon a thread the Scots ignominiously failed their king. Charles instantly saw he was undone. The English cavalry continued to fight bravely, in their desperation using the butt ends of their muskets; but they were gradually compelled to give way before the enemy, who, seeing their condition, had renewed the attack. The Royalists therefore fell back into the city. When the king re-entered Worcester he saw before him a scene of the most disastrous confusion. Royalists and Republicans encountered and fought each other in every thoroughfare; the air was filled with the report of muskets, the imprecations of soldiers, the groans of wounded men, and the shrieks of women. The streets ran red with blood. At such a sight his heart sank within him, but, manning himself for fresh efforts, he called his troops together and sought to incite them with courage to make a final charge. "I would rather," he cried out, "you would shoot me than keep me alive to see the sad consequences of this fatal day." Those who heard him were disheartened: it was too late to retrieve their heavy losses: most of them refused to heed him; many sought safety in flight. Then the young king's friends, gathering round, besought him to make good his escape; and accordingly, with a sad heart, he rode out of St. Martin's Gate humbled and defeated. In order to cover his retreat from the enemy now advancing, my Lord Cleveland, Sir James Hamilton, Colonel Careless, and some other worthy gentlemen defended Sudbury Gate, towards which the main body of the Republicans approached. They held this position a sufficient time to gain the end for which it was undertaken. But at length the Republicans, forcing open the gate, marched upon the fort, defended by fifteen hundred soldiers under Colonel Drummond. This loyal man refusing to surrender, the fort was speedily stormed; and he and those of his men who survived the attack were mercilessly put to the sword.
Dr. George Bate gives a quaint and striking picture of what followed. "Deplorable and sad was the countenance of the town after that," writes he; "the victorious soldiers on the one hand killing, breaking into houses, plundering, sacking, roaring, and threatening; on the other hand, the subdued flying, turning their backs to be cut and slashed, and with outstretched hands begging quarter; some, in vain resisting, sold their lives as dear as they could, whilst the citizens to no purpose prayed, lamented, and bewailed. All the streets are strewed with dead and mangled bodies. Here were to be seen some that begged relief, and then again others weltering in their own gore, who desired that at once an end might be put to their lives and miseries. The dead bodies lay unburied for the space of three days or more, which was a loathsome spectacle that increased the horror of the action."
Concerning his subsequent dangers and narrow escapes, the king, in his days of peace and prosperity, was wont to discourse at length, for they had left impressions on his mind which lasted through life. Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon, his Lord High Chancellor, Dr. George Bate, his learned physician, and Samuel Pepys, Esquire, sometime Surveyor-General to the Victualling Office, have preserved the records of that time of peril, as told by his majesty. True, their various stories differ in minor details, but they agree in principal facts. The king had not ridden many miles from Worcester when he found himself surrounded by about four thousand of his army, including the Scots under the command of Leslie. Though they would not fight for him, they were ready enough to fly with him. At first he thought of betaking himself to Scotland; but having had sad proof of the untrustworthy character of those with whom he travelled, he feared they would further betray him if pursued by the enemy. He therefore resolved to reach London before the news of his defeat arrived thither, and make his escape from thence; but this scheme presented many difficulties. Amongst the persons of quality who accompanied him were my Lord Duke of Buckingham, the Earls of Derby and Lauderdale, and the Lords Wilmot and Talbot. During their journey it fell from my Lord Derby's lips, that when he had been defeated at Wigan, one Pendrell, an honest labourer and a Papist, had sheltered him in Boscobel House, not far distant from where they then rode. Hearing this, the king resolved to trust this same faithful fellow, and for the present seek such refuge as Pendrell could afford. It was not easy, however, for his majesty to escape the Scots; but when night came, he and his gentlemen slipped away from the high road, which the others continued to pursue, and made for Boscobel Wood, led by Charles Giffard, a loyal gentleman and true. The house they sought was situated between Tong Castle and Brewood, in a woody place most fitting for retreat; it was, moreover, six and twenty miles from Worcester, and stood in Shropshire, on the borders of Staffordshire.
In order to gain this haven of rest, it was necessary for them to pass through Stourbridge, where a troop of the Republican army lay quartered. Midnight had fallen ere they reached the town, which was now wrapt in darkness, and was, moreover, perfectly still. The king and his friends, dismounting, led their horses through the echoing streets as softly as possible, being filled the while with dire apprehensions. Safely leaving it, they rode into the wood until they came to the old convent of Whiteladies, once the home of Cistercian nuns, who had long since been driven from their peaceful retreat. The house was now the habitation of the Giffard family, with whom George Pendrell lived as servant. On being aroused, he came forth with a lantern, and admitted them, when Charles Giffard made known to him in whose presence he stood, and acquainted him with their situation. Thereupon the honest fellow promised to serve the king faithfully, and sent immediately for his brothers four: William, who took charge of Boscobel House, not far removed; Humphrey, who was miller at Whiteladies; Richard, who lived at Hobbal Grange; and John, who was a woodman, and dwelt hard by. When they had all arrived, Lord Derby showed them the king's majesty, and besought them for God's sake, for their loyalty's sake, and as they valued all that was high and sacred, to keep him safe, and forthwith seek some place of decent shelter where he might securely lurk. This they readily swore to compass, though they risked their lives in the attempt.
It being considered that greater safety lay in the king being unattended, his loyal friends departed from him with many prayers and hopes for a joyful reunion: all of them save my Lords Wilmot and Buckingham set out to join Leslie's company, that they might proceed together towards Scotland; but they had not marched six miles in company with the Scots when these three thousand men and more were overtaken and were routed by a single troop of the enemy's horse, and my Lord Derby, being taken, was condemned and executed. Lords Wilmot and Buckingham set out for London, to which place it was agreed the king should follow them.
When his majesty's friends had departed, the Pendrells undertook to disguise him; towards which end one of them cut the long locks reaching his shoulders, another rubbed his hands and face with dust, and a third brought him a suit of clothes. "The habit of the king," says Pepys, "was a very greasy old grey steeple-crowned hat, with the brims turned up, without lining or hatband, the sweat appearing two inches deep through it round the band place; a green cloth jump-coat, threadbare, even to the threads being worn white, and breeches of the same, with long knees down to the garter; with an old sweaty leathern doublet, a pair of white flannel stockings next to his legs, and upon them a pair of old green yarn stockings, all worn and darned at the knees, with their feet cut off: his shoes were old, all slashed for the ease of his feet, with little rolls of paper between his toes to keep them from galling; and an old coarse shirt, patched both at the neck and hands, of that very coarse sort which go by the name of nogging shirts."
When Charles was attired in this fashion, Richard Pendrell opened a back door and led him out into the wood; not a moment too soon, for within half an hour Colonel Ashenhurst, with a company of Cromwell's soldiers, rode up to Whiteladies, rushed into the house, searched every chamber and secret place, pulled down the wainscoting, and otherwise devastated the mansion in the search for the king. A damp cold September morning now lengthened to a day of gloom and depression. Rain fell in heavy torrents, dripped from the leafless branches of trees, and saturated the thick undergrowth and shrubs where his majesty lay hidden. Owing to the condition of the weather, the soldiers neglected to search Boscobel Wood; and, after uttering many threats and imprecations, withdrew from Whiteladies. When he considered himself quite alone, Richard Pendrell ventured forth, taking with him a billhook, that if observed he might seem engaged in trimming hedges; and drawing near the spot where his majesty lay, assured him of his safety. Later on he besought an old woman, his neighbour, to take victuals into the wood to a labourer she would find there. Without hesitation the good woman carried some eggs, bread, butter, and milk towards the spot indicated to her. On seeing her the king was much alarmed fearing recognition and dreading her garrulity; wherefore he said to her: "Can you be true to anyone who hath served the king?" Upon which she readily made answer: "Yes, sir; I'd die sooner than betray you." Being reassured at this, he ate heartily.
When night fell, Richard brought him into the house again, and the king, now abandoning his intention of proceeding to London, expressed his anxiety to reach Wales where he had many friends, and which afforded him ready opportunities of escaping from the kingdom. Pendrell expressed himself willing to conduct him thither. Accordingly, about nine of the clock, they set out with the determination of crossing the Severn, intending to pass over a ferry between Bridgenorth and Shrewsbury. When they had walked some hours they drew near a water-mill. "We could see the miller," said the king in relating the story, "as I believe, sitting at the mill-door, he being in white clothes, it being a very dark night. He called out sturdily, 'Who goes there?' Upon which Richard Pendrell answered, 'Neighbours going home,' or suchlike words. Whereupon the miller cried out: 'If you be neighbours, stand, or I will knock you down.' Upon which, we believing there was company in the house, Richard bade me follow him close, and he ran to a gate that went up a dirty lane up a hill. The miller cried out: 'Rogues—rogues!' And thereupon some men came out of the mill after us, which I believe were soldiers; so we fell a-running, both of us up the lane as long as we could run, it being very deep and very dirty, till at last I bade him leap over a hedge, and lie still to hear if anybody followed us—which we did, and continued lying down upon the ground about half an hour, when, hearing nobody come, we continued our way."
This led to the house of an honest gentleman named Woolfe, living at Madeley, who was a Catholic, and loyal to his king, and as such was known to the Pendrells. When they drew near to his house, Richard, leaving his majesty in a field, went forward and asked this worthy man if he would shelter one who had taken part in the battle of Worcester; whereon he made answer he would not venture his neck for any man unless it were the king himself, upon which Pendrell made known to him it was his majesty who sought refuge from him. Mr. Woolfe came out immediately and carried the king by a back way into a barn, where he hid him for the day, it being considered unsafe for him to stay a longer period there, as two companies of militia were at that time stationed in the town, and were very likely to search the house at any minute. Moreover he advised his majesty by no means to adventure crossing the Severn, as the strictest guard was then kept at the ferries to prevent any Royalist fugitives from escaping into Wales. The king was therefore obliged to retrace his steps, and now sought Boscobel House, not far distant from his first resting-place of Whiteladies. Arriving there, he remained secreted in the wood, whilst Richard went to see if soldiers were in occupation of the dwelling. There was no one there, however, but Colonel Careless, the same good man and true who had helped to keep Sudbury Gate whilst Charles made his escape.
The Colonel had been hiding in the forest, and, being sore pressed by hunger, had come to beg a little bread. Being informed where the king was, he came forth with great joy, and, the house not being considered a safe refuge, they both climbed into the branches of a leafy oak, situated in an open part of the wood, from whence they could see all round them. They carried with them some bread and cheese and small beer, and stayed there that day. "While we were in the tree," says the king, "we saw soldiers going up and down in the thicket of the wood, searching for persons escaped, we seeing them now and then peeping out of the wood." When this danger had passed away, the king, worn out by his sore fatigues, laid his head on his friend's breast and slept in his arms. At night they descended, and going to Boscobel House, were shown a secret hiding-place, such as were then to be found in the mansions of all Catholic families, called the priests' hole a little confined closet built between two walls, in the principal stack of chimneys, and having a couple of exits for the better escape of those compelled to seek its shelter. Here the king rested in peace for a day and a night.
Meanwhile Humphrey Pendrell went into Shifnal to pay his taxes; and it being known he had come from Whiteladies, he was questioned closely as to whether he knew aught of Charles Stuart. On stoutly denying all knowledge of him, he was told that any man who discovered him would gain a thousand pounds, but he that sheltered him would suffer death without mercy; these being the terms of a proclamation just issued. This the honest miller on his return narrated to the king, swearing roundly he would run all risks for his sake. It chanced at this time one of the Pendrells heard that my Lord Wilmot who had not been able to make his way to London, was hiding in a very secure place, at the house of a gentleman named Whitegrave, above seven miles distant. This coming to the king's knowledge, he became anxious to see his faithful friend and hold communication with him. Accordingly one of the Pendrells was despatched to request Lord Wilmot to meet his majesty that night, in a field close by Mr. Whitegrave's house. And the time of night being come, the king was impatient of delay; but his feet were sore from the rough shoes he had worn on his journey, so that he was scarce able to walk; therefore he was mounted on Humphrey's mill-horse, and, the four loyal brothers forming a guard, they directed their way towards Moseley. The king's eagerness to see Wilmot being great, he complained of the horse's slow pace. "Can you blame him, my liege," said Humphrey, who loved a jest, "that he goes heavily, having the weight of three kingdoms on his back?"
When they had travelled with him a great part of the journey it was thought safer three of them should withdraw themselves. They therefore turned away; but scarcely had they gone when the king, who, being lost in thought, had remained unconscious of their departure, suddenly stopped, and caused John, who remained, to speedily summon them back. When they returned he gave them his hand to kiss, and, with that charm of manner which never failed in winning friends, said to them sadly, "My sorrows make me forget myself. I earnestly thank you all."
They kissed his hand heartily, and prayed God to save him. In the days of his prosperity he remembered their kindness and rewarded their loyalty.
Arriving at the trysting place the king found Mr. Whitegrave, a Benedictine monk named Father Huddlestone, Sir John Preston, and his brother awaiting him. It may be mentioned here this monk was destined, many years later, to play an important part in the closing scene of his majesty's life. Mr. Whitegrave conducted Charles with great show of respect to his house, where the king spoke with my Lord Wilmot, feasted well, and rested safe that night. Next morning the worthy host had private notice given that a company of soldiers were on their way to arrest him as one who had served in the king's army. He, being innocent of this charge, did not avoid them, but received them boldly at his door, spoke confidently in his own defence, and referred them to the testimony of his neighbours, whereon they departed quietly.
It was feared, however, the house was no longer safe, and that another refuge had best be sought for his majesty. Therefore, Father Huddlestone informed the king of an honest gentleman, the owner of a fair estate some six miles removed, who was generous and exceedingly beloved, and the eldest justice of peace in the county of Stafford. This gentleman was named Lane, "a very zealous Protestant, yet he lived with so much civility and candour towards the Catholics, that they would all trust him as much as they would any of their own profession." The king, however, not being willing to surprise this worthy man, immediately despatched the Benedictine to make certain of his welcome; receiving due assurances of which he and Lord Willmot set out by night for Master Lane's mansion, where they were heartily received, and where Charles rested some days in blessed security. Knowing, however, in what risk he placed those who sheltered him, and how vigilant the pursuit after him, he became most anxious for his safe delivery out of the kingdom. To this end it was desirable he should draw near the west coast, and await an opportunity of sailing from thence for France.
The members of Master Lane's family then living with him consisted of a son and a daughter: the former a man of fearless courage and integrity, the latter a gentlewoman of good wit and discretion, as will be seen hereafter. Consulting, amongst themselves as to the best means of compassing the king's escape, it was resolved Mistress Lane should visit a kinswoman of hers with whom she had been bred, that had married one Norton, and was now residing within five miles of Bristol. It was likewise decided she should ride on her journey thence behind the king, he being habited in her father's livery, and acting as her servant; and for greater safety her sister and her sister's husband were to accompany them on the road. Mistress Jane Lane then procured from a colonel of the rebel army a passport for herself and her servant, her sister and her brother-in-law, to travel without molestation to her cousin Mistress Norton, who was ready to lie in. With this security Jane set out, her brother bearing them company part of the way, with a hawk upon his fist and two or three spaniels at his heels, which warranted him keeping the king and his friends in sight without seeming to be of their company.
The first day's journey was not accomplished without an exciting incident. The horse ridden by Mistress Lane and the king—now bearing the name of William Jackson—lost a shoe; and being come to Bromsgrove, he must dismount and lead the animal to the village blacksmith.
"As I was holding my horse's foot," said his majesty, when narrating the story to Mr. Pepys, "I asked the smith what news. He told me that there was no news that he knew of, since the good news of the beating the rogues of the Scots. I asked him whether there was none of the English taken that joined with the Scots, He answered he did not hear if that rogue, Charles Stuart, were taken; but some of the others, he said, were taken. I told him that if that rogue were taken, he deserved to be hanged more than all the rest, for bringing in the Scots. Upon which he said I spoke like an honest man; and so we parted."
At the end of the first day's journey they were met by Lord Wilmot at the inn; and he continued to join them wherever they rested at night, without appearing to travel with them by day. Mistress Lane took all possible care to guard the king against recognition, stating at every house of accommodation where they tarried he was "a neighbour's son whom her father had lent her to ride before her in hope that he would the sooner recover from a quartan ague with which he had been miserably afflicted, and was not yet free." Which story served as sufficient excuse for his going to bed betimes, and so avoiding the company of servants. At the end of three days they arrived at their destination. Jane Lane was warmly received by her cousin, and the whole party made heartily welcome. Jane, however, did not entrust her secret to Mistress Norton's keeping, but repeated her tale of the good youth being newly recovered from ague, and desired a chamber might be provided for him, and a good fire made that he might retire early to bed. Her desires being obeyed, the king withdrew, and was served with an excellent good supper by the butler, a worthy fellow named Pope, who had been a trooper in the army of Charles I., of blessed memory.
"The next morning" said the king continuing his strange story, "I arose pretty early, having a very good stomach, and went to the buttery-hatch to get my breakfast, where I found Pope and two or three other men in the room, and we all fell to eating bread and butter, to which he gave us very good ale and sack. And as I was sitting there, there was one that looked like a country fellow sat just by me, who, talking, gave so particular an account of the battle of Worcester to the rest of the company that I concluded he must be one of Cromwell's soldiers. But I, asking how he came to give so good an account of that battle, he told me he was in the King's regiment, by which I thought he meant one Colonel King's regiment. But questioning him further, I perceived he had been in my regiment of Guards, in Major Broughton's company—that was my Major in the battle. I asked him what kind of man I was; to which he answered by describing exactly both my clothes and my horse, and then, looking upon me, he told me that the king was at least three fingers taller than I. Upon which I made what haste I could out of the buttery, for fear he should indeed know me, as being more afraid when I knew he was one of our own soldiers than when I took him for one of the enemy's. So Pope and I went into the hall, and just as we came into it Mistress Norton was coming by through it; upon which I, plucking off my hat and standing with it in my hand as she passed by, Pope looked very earnestly in my face. But I took no notice of it, but put on my hat again and went away, walking out of the house into the field."
When he returned, however, the butler followed him into a private room, and going down on his stiff knees, said, with tears in his old eyes, he was rejoiced to see his majesty in safety. The king affected to laugh at him, and asked him what he meant; but Pope told him he knew him well, for before he was a trooper in his father's service he had been falconer to Sir Thomas Jermyn, groom of the bedchamber to the king when he was a boy. Charles saw it was useless longer to deny himself, and therefore said he believed him to be a very honest man, and besought he would not reveal what he knew to anyone. This the old man readily promised, and faithfully kept his word. Having spent a couple of days at Norton's, the king, by advice of Lord Wilmot, went to the house of a true friend and loyal man, one Colonel Windham, who lived at Trent. This town was notable as a very hotbed of republicanism; a proof of which was afforded his majesty on the very day of his entrance. As he rode into the principal street, still disguised as a waiting man to Mistress Lane, he heard a great ringing of bells, and the tumult of many voices, and saw a vast concourse of people gathered in the churchyard close by. On asking the cause he was informed one of Cromwell's troopers was telling the people he had killed Charles Stuart, whose buff coat he then wore; whereon the rebels rang the church bells, and were about to make a great bonfire for joy.
Having brought him to Trent, Mistress Lane returned home, carrying with her the king's friendship and gratitude, of which he gave her ample proof when he came unto the throne. Charles stayed at Colonel Windham's over a week, whilst that gallant man was secretly striving to hire a ship for his majesty's safe transportation into France. Presently succeeding in this object, the king, yet wearing his livery, and now riding before Mistress Judith Coningsby, cousin of Colonel Windham, started with high hopes for Lyme; but at the last moment the captain of the vessel failed him, and he was again left in a state of painful uncertainty and danger. Lord Wilmot was sent to ascertain the cause of this disappointment, and for greater safety the king rode on to Burport with his friends. Being come to the outskirts of the town, they were alarmed at finding the streets in a state of confusion, and full of Cromwell's soldiers, fifteen hundred of whom were about to embark for Jersey. His majesty's coolness and presence of mind did not fail him; he resolved to ride boldly into the town, and hire a chamber at the best inn. The yard of the hostelry was likewise crowded with troopers; but this did not dismay his majesty.
"I alighted," said he, "and taking the horses, thought it the best way to go blundering in among them, and lead them through the middle of the soldiers into the stable; which I did, and they were very angry with me for my rudeness. As soon as I came into the stable I took the bridle off the horses, and called the ostler to me to help me, and to give the horses some oats. And as the hostler was helping me to feed the horses, 'Sure, sir,' says he, 'I know your face?' which was no very pleasant question to me. But I thought the best way was to ask him where he had lived, or whether he had always lived there or no. He told me that he was but newly come thither; that he was born in Exeter, and had been ostler in an inn there, hard by one Mr. Potter's, a merchant in whose house I had lain in the time of the war. So I thought it best to give the fellow no further occasion of thinking where he had seen me, for fear he should guess right at last; therefore I told him, 'Friend, certainly you have seen me then at Mr. Potter's, for I served him a good while above a year.' 'Oh,' says he, 'then I remember you a boy there;' and with that was put off from thinking any more on it, but desired that we might drink a pot of beer together, which I excused by saying that I must go wait on my master, and get his dinner ready for him; but told him that my master was going to London, and would return about three weeks hence, when he would be there, and I would not fail to drink a pot with him."
The king and his friends, having dined at the inn, got word that the master of the ship, suspecting that it was some dangerous employment he had been hired for, absolutely refused to fulfil his contract. Therefore they, being sad at heart and fearful, retraced their steps to Trent, and presently his majesty went further into Sussex, and abode with a staunch Royalist, one Colonel Gunter, who resided within four miles of Salisbury. This excellent man at last succeeded in hiring a ship to carry away the king, and so Charles made another journey to Brighthelmstone, where he met the captain of the vessel and the merchant that had hired her on behalf of Colonel Gunter, both of whom had been kept in ignorance of their future passenger's identity. Arriving at Brighthelmstone, they entered an inn and ordered supper, during which the captain more than once looked hard at the king. And the meal being ended, the captain called the merchant aside and said he was not dealt with fairly, inasmuch as he had not been told the king was the person to be conveyed from thence. The merchant, not being so wise as the master, denied such was the case; but the honest fellow told him not to be troubled. "For I think," said he, "I do God and my country good service in preserving the king: and by the grace of God I will venture my life and all for him, and set him safely on shore, if I can, in France."