Royalty Restored or London under Charles II.
J. Fitzgerald Molloy

Part 6 out of 7

conspiracy "to poison the king, subvert the government, and
introduce popery." During the examination, Evelyn tells us, "the
bench was crowded with the judges, lord mayor, justices, and
innumerable spectators." After a tedious trial of nine hours,
the jury brought the prisoners in not guilty, "without," says
Evelyn, "sufficient disadvantage and reflection on witnesses,
especially on Oates and Bedlow."

As my Lord Shaftesbury had not yet succeeded in his desired
project of excluding the Duke of York from succession, the
symptoms of change in public opinion were thoroughly distasteful
to him. He therefore resolved to check them immediately, and
stimulate the agitation and fear that had for many months reigned
paramount through out the nation. For this purpose he had
recourse to his former method of circulating wild and baseless
reports. Accordingly a rumour was soon brought before the House
of Commons of a horrible plot hatched by the papists to burn
London to the ground. This, it was alleged, would be effected by
a servant-maid setting a clothes-press on fire in the house of
her master, situated in Fetter Lane. Two vile Irishmen were to
feed the flames, and meanwhile the catholics would rise in
rebellion, and, assisted by an army of sixty thousand French
soldiers, kill the king, and put all protestants to the sword.
Though this tale was in due time discredited, yet it served its
purpose in the present. The violent alarm it caused had not
subsided when another terrible story, started on the excellent
authority of Lord Shaftesbury's cook, added a new terror. This
stated the Duke of York had placed himself at the head of the
French troops, with intention of landing in England, murdering
the king and forcing papacy on his subjects. The scare was
sufficiently effectual to cause Parliament to petition his
majesty that he might revoke all licenses recently granted
catholic householders to reside in the capital; and order the
execution of all priests who administered sacraments or
celebrated mass within the kingdom. Soon after this address,
Lord Russell was sent by the Commons to the Peers, requesting
their concurrence in the statement that "the Duke of York's being
a papist, the hope of his coming to the crown had given the
greatest countenance and encouragement to the conspiracies and
designs of the papists." And now, in May, 1679, the condition of
popular feeling promising well for its success. the Bill of
Exclusion was introduced, ordaining that "James, Duke of York
should be incapable of inheriting the crowns of England and
Ireland; that on the demise of his majesty without heirs of his
body, his dominions should devolve, as if the Duke of York were
also dead, on that person next in succession who had always
professed the protestant religion established by law." This
passed the House of Commons by a majority of seventy-nine votes.

Alarmed by this bill, Charles resolved to show signs of
resentment, and at the same time check the increasing power of
the Commons, by a sudden and decisive movement. Therefore,
without previously hinting at his intentions, he prorogued
parliament before the bill was sent to the House of Lords. This
was a keen surprise to all, and a bitter disappointment to
Shaftesbury, who vowed those who advised the king to this measure
should answer for it with their heads. Owing to various delays,
the Bill of Exclusion was not brought before the Peers until
eighteen months later. Its introduction was followed by a debate
lasting six hours, in which Shaftesbury distinguished himself by
his force and bitterness. At nine o'clock at night the House
divided, when the measure was rejected by a majority of thirty-
three votes, amongst which were those of the fourteen bishops

Mortified by this unexpected decision, the violent passions of
the defeated party hurried them on to seek the blood of those
peers lodged in the Tower. Of the five, William Howard, Viscount
Stafford--youngest son of the Earl of Arran, and nephew of the
Duke of Norfolk--was selected to be first put upon his trial;
inasmuch as, being over sixty years, and a sufferer from many
infirmities, it was judged he would be the least capable of
making a vigorous defence. Three perjured witnesses swore he had
plotted against the king's life, but no proof was forthcoming to
support their evidence. Notwithstanding this was "bespattered
and falsified in almost every point," it was received as
authentic by the judges, who made a national cause of his
prosecution, and considered no punishment too severe for a
papist. After a trial of five days sentence of death was
pronounced upon him, and on the 29th of December, 1680, he was
beheaded on Tower Hill.

Like those who had suffered from similar charges, he protested
his innocence to the last; but his words met with a reception
different from theirs. Their dying speeches had been greeted by
groans, hisses, and signs of insatiable fury; but his
declarations fell upon silent and sympathizing hearts. When he
had made denial of the crimes of which he was accused, a great
cry rose from the mob, "We believe you--we believe you, my lord;"
and then a single voice calling out "God bless you!" the words
were taken up and repeated by a vast throng, so that the last
sounds he heard on earth were those of prayer. He died with a
firmness worthy of his caste. Having laid his head upon the
block, the executioner brandished his axe in the air, and then
set it quietly down at his feet. Raising his head, Lord Stafford
inquired the cause of delay; the executioner replied he awaited a
sign. "Take your time," said he who stood at the verge of
eternity; "I shall make no sign." He who held the axe in his
hand hesitated a second, and then said in a low and troubled
voice, "Do you forgive me, sir?" To which Lord Stafford made
brief answer, "I do." Then he laid his head again upon the
blood-stained block. Once more the glitter of steel flashed
through the air, a groan arose from the crowd, and Lord
Stafford's head was severed from his body.

A reaction now set in, and gained strength daily. The remaining
peers were in due time liberated; the blood of innocent victims
was no longer shed; and the Duke of York was recalled. Such was
the end of the popish plot, which, says Archdeacon Eachard,
"after the strictest and coolest examinations, and after a full
length of time, the government could find very little foundation
to support so vast a fabrick, besides downright swearing and
assurance; not a gun, sword, nor dagger, not a flask of powder or
dark lanthorn, to effect this strange villainy, and with the
exception of Coleman's writings, not one slip of an original
letter of commission among those great numbers alledged to uphold
the reputation of the discoveries."

Concerning those through whose malice such disturbance was
wrought, and so much blood shed, a few words may be added.
Within twelve months of Lord Stafford's execution, Shaftesbury
was charged with high treason, but escaping condemnation, fled
from further molestation to Holland, where, after a residence of
six weeks, he died. Tonge departed this life in 1680,
unbenefited by the monstrous plot he had so skilfully devised;
and in the same year Bedlow was carried to the grave after an
illness of four days. Oates survived to meet a share of the
ignominy and punishment due to his crimes. After a residence of
three years in Whitehall, he was driven out of the palace on
account of "certain misdemeanors laid to his charge," and
deprived of his salary. Two years later, in May, 1683, he was
accused of calling the Duke of York a traitor, and using
scandalous words towards his royal highness. Upon hearing of the
case the jury fined him one hundred thousand pounds. Unable to
pay the sum, he was cast into prison, where he remained six
years, until liberated in the reign of William and Mary, His
punishment was not, however, at an end. At the Michaelmas term
of 1684 he was accused of having wilfully perjured himself at the
late trials. As he pleaded not guilty, his case was appointed to
be heard at the King's Bench Court. His trial did not take place
until May, 1685, on which occasion the lord chief justice, in
summing up the evidence, declared, "There does not remain the
slightest doubt that Oates is the blackest and most perjured
villain on the face of the earth."

After a quarter of an hour's absence from court, the jury
returned a verdict of guilty, and sentence was pronounced against
him. He was stripped of his canonical habit; forced to walk
through all the courts of Westminster Hall proclaiming his
crimes; to stand an hour on the pillory opposite Westminster Hall
gate on Monday; an hour on the pillory at the Royal Exchange on
Tuesday; and on Wednesday he was tied to a cart and whipt at the
hands of the common hangman from Aldgate to Newgate, in the
presence, says Eachard, "of innumerable spectators, who had a
more than ordinary curiosity to see the sight."


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

During the first six years of the merry monarch's reign, London
town, east of Temple Bar, consisted of narrow and tortuous
streets of quaintly gabled houses, pitched roofed and plaster
fronted. Scarce four years had passed after the devastating fire
which laid this portion of the capital in ashes, when a new and
stately city rose upon the ruins of the old. Thoroughfares lying
close by the Thames, which were wont to suffer from inundations,
were raised; those which from limited breadth had caused
inconvenience and bred pestilence were made wide; warehouses and
dwellings of solid brick and carved stone, with doors, window-
frames, and breastsummers of stout oak, replaced irregular though
not unpicturesque habitations; whilst the halls of companies,
eminent taverns, and abodes of great merchants, were now built
"with fair courtyards before them, and pleasant gardens behind
them, and fair spacious rooms and galleries in them, little
inferior to some princes' palaces." Moreover, churches designed
by the genius of Christopher Wren, adorned with spires, steeples,
and minarets, intersected the capital at all points.

This new, handsome, and populous city presented an animated, ever
changing, and merry scene. From "the high street which is called
the Strand," far eastwards, great painted signs, emblazoned with
heraldic arms, or ornamented with pictures of grotesque birds and
animals, swung above shop-doors and taverns. Stalls laden with
wares of every description, "set out with decorations as valuable
as those of the stage," extended into the thoroughfares. In the
new Exchange, built by the worshipful company of mercers at a
cost of eight thousand pounds, and adorned by a fair statue of
King Charles II. in the habit of a Roman emperor, were galleries
containing rows of very rich shops, displaying manufactures and
ornaments of rare description, served by young men known as
apprentices, and likewise by comely wenches.

At corners and nooks of streets, under eaves of churches and
great buildings, and other places of shelter, sat followers of
various trades and vendors of divers commodities, each in the
place which had become his from daily association and long habit.
These good people, together with keepers of stalls and shops,
extolled their wares in deafening shouts; snatches of song,
shouts of laughter, and the clang of pewter vessels came in
bursts of discord from open tavern doors; women discoursed with
or abused each other, according to their temper and inclination
as they leaned from the jutting small-paned windows and open
balconies of their homesteads; hackney coaches or "hell carts,"
as they drove by, cast filth and refuse lying in kennels upon the
clothes of passengers; the carriers of sedan-chairs deposited
their burthens to fight for right of way in narrow passages and
round crowded corners.

Through the busy concourse flowing up and down the thoroughfares
from dawn to dusk, street-criers took their way, bearing wares
upon their heads in wicker baskets, before them on broad trays,
or slung upon their backs in goodly packs. And as they passed,
their voices rose above the general din, calling "Fair lemons and
oranges, oranges and citrons!" "Cherries, sweet cherries, ripe
and red!" "New flounders and great plaice; buy my dish of great
eels!" "Rosemary and sweet briar; who'll buy my lavender?"
"Fresh cheese and cream!" "Lily-white vinegar!" "Dainty
sausages!" which calls, being frequently intoned to staves of
melody, fell with pleasant sounds upon the ear. [These hawkers
so seriously interfered with legitimate traders, that in 1694
they were forbidden to sell any goods or merchandise in any
public place within the city or liberties, except in open markets
and fairs, on penalty of forty shillings for each offence, both
to buyers and sellers.] Moreover, to these divers sights and
sounds were added ballad singers, who piped ditties upon topics
of the day; quacks who sold nostrums and magic potions; dancers
who performed on tight-ropes; wandering musicians; fire-eaters of
great renown; exhibitors of dancing dolls, and such like
itinerants "as make show of motions and strange sights," all of
whom were obliged to have and to hold "a license in red and black
letters, under the hand and seal of Thomas Killigrew, Esq.,
master of the revels to his sacred majesty Charles II."

Adown the Strand, Fleet Street, and in that part of the city
adjoining the Exchange, coffee-houses abounded in great numbers.
Coffee, which in this reign became a favourite beverage, was
introduced into London a couple of years before the restoration.
It had, however, been brought into England at a much earlier
period. John Evelyn, in the year 1638, speaks of it being drunk
at Oxford, where there came to his college "one Nathaniel
Conoposis out of Greece, from Cyrill the patriarch of
Constantinople, who, returning many years after, was made Bishop
of Smyrna." Twelve good years later, a coffee-house was opened
at Oxford by one Jacobs, a Jew, where this beverage was imbibed
"by some who delighted in novelty." It was, however, according
to Oldys the antiquarian, untasted in the capital till a Turkey
merchant named Edwards brought to London a Ragusan youth named
Pasqua Rosee, who prepared this drink for him daily. The
eagerness to taste the strange beverage drawing too much company
to his board, Edwards allowed the lad, together with a servant of
his son-in-law, to sell it publicly; whence coffee was first sold
in St. Michael's Alley in Cornhill by Pasqua Rosee, "at the sign
of his own head," about the year 1658.

Though coffee-drinkers first met with much ridicule from wits
about town, and writers of broadsheet ballads, the beverage
became gradually popular, and houses for its sale quickly
multiplied. Famous amongst these, in the reign of the merry
monarch, besides that already mentioned, was Garraway's in
Exchange Alley; the Rainbow, by the Inner Temple Gate; Dick's,
situated at No. 8, Fleet Street; Jacobs', the proprietor of which
moved in 1671 from Oxford to Southampton Buildings, Holborn; the
Grecian in the Strand, "conducted without ostentation or noise;"
the Westminster, noted as a resort of peers and members of
parliament; and Will's, in Russell Street, frequented by the poet

These houses, the forerunners of clubs, were, according to their
situation and convenience, frequented by noblemen and men of
quality, courtiers, foreign ministers, politicians, members of
learned professions, wits, citizens of various grades, and all
who loved to exchange greetings and gossip with their neighbours
and friends. Within these low-ceilinged comfortable coffee-house
rooms, fitted with strong benches and oak chairs, where the black
beverage was drunk from handless wide brimmed cups, Pepys passed
many cheerful hours, hearing much of the news he so happily
narrates, and holding pleasant discourse with many notable men.
It was in a coffee-house he encountered Major Waters, "a deaf and
most amorous melancholy gentleman, who is under a despayer in
love, which makes him bad company, though a most good-natured
man." And in such a place he listened to "some simple discourse
about quakers being charmed by a string about their wrists;" and
saw a certain merchant named Hill "that is a master of most sorts
of musique and other things, the universal character, art of
memory, counterfeiting of hands, and other most excellent

In days before newspapers came into universal circulation, and
general meetings were known, coffee-houses became recognised
centres for exchange of thought and advocacy of political action.
Aware of this, the government, under leadership of Danby, not
desiring to have its motives too freely canvassed, in 1675 issued
an order that such "places of resort for idle and disaffected
persons" should be closed. Alarmed by this command, the keepers
of such houses petitioned for its withdrawal, at the same time
faithfully promising libels should not be read under their roofs.
They were therefore permitted to carry on their business by

Next in point of interest to coffee-houses were taverns where men
came to make merry, in an age when simplicity and good fellowship
largely obtained. As in coffee-houses, gossip was the order of
the day in such places, each tavern being in itself "a broacher
of more news than hogsheads, and more jests than news." Those of
good standing and fair renown could boast rows of bright flagons
ranged on shelves round panelled walls; of hosts, rotund in
person and genial in manner; and of civil drawers, who could
claim good breeding. The Bear, at the bridge-foot, situated at
the Southwark side, was well known to men of gallantry and women
of pleasure; and was, moreover, famous as the spot where the Duke
of Richmond awaited Mistress Stuart on her escape from Whitehall.
The Boar's Head, in Eastcheap, which gained pleasant mention in
the plays of William Shakespeare, when rebuilt, after the great
fire, became a famous resort. The Three Cranes, in the Vintry,
was sacred to the shade of rare Ben Jonson. The White Bear's
Head, in Abchurch Lane, where French dinners were served from
five shillings a head "to a guinea, or what sum you pleased," was
the resort of cavaliers, The Rose Tavern, in the Poultry, was
famous for its excellent ale, and no less for its mighty pretty
hostess, to whom the king had kissed hands as he rode by on his
entry. The Rummer was likewise of some note, inasmuch as it was
kept by one Samuel Prior, uncle to Matthew Prior, the ingenious
poet. On the balcony of the Cock, near Covent Garden, Sir
Charles Sedley had stood naked in a drunken frolic; and at the
King's Head, over against the Inner Temple Gate, Shaftesbury and
his friends laid their plots, coming out afterwards on the double
balcony in front, as North describes them, "with hats and no
peruques, pipes in their mouths, merry faces and dilated throats,
for vocal encouragement of the canaglia below."

All day long the streets were crowded by those whom business or
diversion carried abroad; but when night fell apace, the keepers
of stalls and shops speedily secured their wares and fastened
their doors, whilst the honest citizen and his family kept within
house. For the streets being unlighted, darkness fell upon them,
relieved only as some person of wealth rode homewards from
visiting a friend, or a band of late revellers returned from a
feast, when the glare of flambeaux, carried by their attendants,
for a moment brought the outlines of houses into relief, or
flashed red light upon their diamond panes, leaving all in
profound gloom on disappearing.

The condition of the thoroughfares favouring the inclination of
many loose persons, they wandered at large, dealing mischief to
those whose duty took them abroad. From the year 1556, in the
reign of Queen Mary, "fit persons with suitable strength" had
been appointed to walk the streets and watch the city by night;
to protect those in danger, arrest suspected persons, warn
householders of danger by fire and candle, help the poor, pray
for the dead, and preserve the peace. These burly individuals
were known as watch or bell men; one was appointed for each ward,
whose duty it was to pass through the district he guarded ringing
his bell, "and when that ceaseth," says Stow, "he salutes his
masters and mistresses with his rhymes, suitable to the seasons
and festivals of the year, and bids them look to their lights."

In the third year of the reign of King Charles II., whilst Sir
John Robinson was mayor of London town, divers good orders were
made by him and his common council for the better service of
these watches. The principal of these set forth that each should
be accompanied by a constable and a beadle selected from the
inhabitants of their respective wards, who should be required in
turn to render voluntary service in guarding the city, from nine
of the clock at night till seven in the morning, from Michaelmas
to the 1st of April; and from that date until the 31st of March,
from ten at night till five in the morning.

These rules were not, however, vigorously carried out; the
volunteers were frequently unwilling to do duty, or when, fearful
of fine, they went abroad, they usually spent their time in
tippling in ale-houses, so that, as Delaune remarks, "a great
many wicked persons capable of the blackest villainies do creep
about, as daily and sad experience shows." It was not only those
who, with drawn swords, darted from some deep porch or sheltering
buttress, in hopes of enriching themselves at their neighbour's
expense, that were to be dreaded. It was a fashion of the time
for companies of young gentlemen to saunter forth in numbers
after route or supper, when, being merry with wine and eager for
adventure, they were brave enough to waylay the honest citizen
and abduct his wife, beat the watch and smash his lantern, bedaub
signboards and wrench knockers, overturn a sedan-chair and
vanquish the carriers, sing roystering songs under the casements
of peaceful sleepers, and play strange pranks to which they were
prompted by young blood and high spirits.

Among those who made prominent figures in such unholy sports was
the king's eldest son, my Lord Duke of Monmouth. He and his
young grace of Albemarle--son to that gallant soldier now
deceased, who was instrumental in restoring his majesty--together
with some seven or eight young gentlemen, whilst on their rounds
one Sunday morning encountered a beadle, whose quaint and
ponderous figure presented itself to their blithe minds as a fit
object for diversion in lieu of better. Accordingly they
accosted him with rough words and unceremonious usage, the which
he resenting, they came to boisterous threats and many blows,
that ended only when the poor fellow lay with outstretched limbs
stark dead upon the pavement. Sir Charles Sedley and Lord
Brockhurst were also notable as having been engaged in another
piece of what has been called "frolick and debauchery," when
"they ran up and down all night almost naked through the streets,
at last fighting and being beaten by the watch, and clapped up
all night."

It was not until the last years of the merry monarch's reign that
there was introduced "an ingenious and useful invention for the
good of this great city, calculated to secure one's goods,
estates, and person; to prevent fires, robberies and
housebreakings, and several accidents and casualties by falls to
which man is liable by walking in the dark" This was a scheme for
lighting the streets, by placing an oil-lamp in front of every
tenth house on each side of the way, from Michaelmas to Lady-day,
every night from six of the clock till twelve, beginning the
third night after every full moon, and ending on the sixth night
after every new moon; one hundred and twenty nights in all. The
originator of this plan was one Edward Hemming, of London,
gentleman. His project was at first ridiculed and opposed by
"narrow-souled and self-interested people," who were no doubt
children of darkness and doers of evil deeds; but was eventually
hailed with delight by all honest men, one of whom, gifted with
considerable imagination, declared these poor oil-lamps "seemed
but one great solar light that turned nocturnal shades to

In this reign the city proper was confined eastward of Temple
Bar; to the west lay the palaces of Somerset House and Whitehall,
the stately parks, and great houses of the nobility surrounded by
wide gardens and wooded grounds. Monsieur Sorbiere, who in this
reign made a journey into England, an account of which he
subsequently published "to divert a person of quality who loved
him extremely," resided close by Covent Garden during his stay.
It was usual, he writes, for people in the district to say, "I go
to London," for "indeed 'tis a journey for those who live near
Westminster. 'Tis true," he adds, "they may sometimes get
thither in a quarter of an hour by water, which they cannot do in
less than two hours by land, for I am persuaded no less time will
be necessary to go from one end of its suburb to the other." For
a crown a week this ingenious and travelled gentleman had
lodgings in Covent Garden, not far removed from Salisbury House,
a vicinity which he avows was "certainly the finest place in the
suburbs." Covent Garden itself has been described by John
Strype, native of the city of London, as "a curious large and
airy square enclosed by rails, between which railes and houses
runs a fair street." The square, or, as it was commonly called,
garden, was well gravelled for greater accommodation of those who
wished to take the air; and that its surface might more quickly
dry after rain, it was raised by an easy ascent to the centre,
where stood a sundial fixed on a black marble pillar, at the base
of which were stone steps, "whereon the weary' might rest."

The west side of the square was flanked by the handsome portico
of St. Paul's Church, erected at the expense of Francis, Earl of
Bedford, from designs by Mr. Inigo Jones; the south side opened
to Bedford Gardens, "where there is a small grotto of trees, most
pleasant in the summer season. Here, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and
Saturdays, a market was held, well stocked with roots, fruits,
herbs, and flowers. On the north and east sides stood large and
stately houses of persons of quality and consideration, the
fronts of which, being supported by strong pillars, afforded
broad walks, known as the Piazza, and found convenient in wet and
sultry weather.

Here amongst other houses was that of my Lord Brouncker, where
Mr. Pepys enjoyed a most noble French dinner and much good
discourse, in return for which he gave much satisfaction by the
singing of a new ballad, to wit, Lord Dorset's famous song, "To
all ye ladies now on land." Not far distant, its face turned to
the Strand, was the stately residence of the Duke of Bedford, a
large dark building, fronted by a great courtyard, and backed by
spacious gardens enclosed by red-brick walls. Likewise in the
Strand stood Arundel House, the residence of Henry Frederick
Howard, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, and Earl Marshal of England;
Hatfield House, built by Thomas Hatfield, Bishop of Durham, as a
town residence for himself and his heirs lawfully begotten; York
House, richly adorned with the arms of Villiers and Manners--one
gloomy chamber of which was shown as that wherein its late noble
owner, George, first Duke of Buckingham, was stabbed by Felton;
Worcester House, at one time occupied by Lord Chancellor
Clarendon; and Essex House, situated near St. Clement Danes, the
town residence of Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, "a sober, wise,
judicious, and pondering person, not illiterate beyond the rate
of most noblemen of this age."

There were also many other noble mansions lying westward, amongst
them being those of the Dukes of Ormond and Norfolk in St.
James's Square, which was built at this time; Berkeley House,
which stood on the site now occupied by Berkeley Square, a
magnificent structure containing a staircase of cedar wood, and
great suites of lofty rooms; Leicester House, situated in
Leicester Fields, subsequently known as Leicester Square, behind
which stretched a goodly common; Goring House, "a very pretty
villa furnished with silver jars, vases, cabinets, and other rich
furniture, even to wantonnesse and profusion," on the site of
which Burlington Street now stands; Clarendon House, a princely
residence, combining "state, use, solidity, and beauty,"
surrounded by fair gardens, that presently gave place to Bond
Street; Southampton House, standing, as Evelyn says, in "a noble
piazza--a little town," now known as Bloomsbury Square, whose
pleasant grounds commanded a full view of the rising hills of
Hampstead and Highgate; and Montagu House, described as a palace
built in the French fashion, standing on the ground now occupied
by the British Museum, which in this reign was backed by lonely
fields, the dread scenes of "robbery, murder, and every species
of depravity and wickedness of which the heart can think."

Besides the grounds and gardens surrounding these stately
mansions, a further aspect of space and freshness was added to
the capital by public parks. Foremost amongst these was St.
James's, to which the merry monarch added several fields, and for
its greater advantage employed Monsieur La Notre, the famous
French landscape-gardener. Amongst the improvements this
ingenious man effected were planting trees of stately height,
contriving a canal one hundred feet broad and two hundred and
eighty feet long, with a decoy and duck island, [The goodnatured
Charles made Monsieur St. Evremond governor of Duck Island, to
which position he attached a salary much appreciated by the
exile. The island was removed in 1790 to make room for fresh
improvements.] and making a pleasant pathway bordered by an
aviary on either side, usually called Bird Cage Walk. An
enclosure for deer was formed in the centre of the park; not far
removed was the famous Physic Garden, where oranges were first
seen in England; and at the western end, where Buckingham Palace
has been erected, stood Arlington House, described as "a most
neat box, and sweetly seated amongst gardens, enjoying the
prospect of the park and the adjoining fields."

The great attraction of St. James's Park was the Mall, which
Monsieur Sorbiere tells us was a walk "eight hundred and fifty
paces in length, beset with rows of large trees, and near a small
wood, from whence you may see a fine mead, a long canal,
Westminster Abbey, and the suburbs, which afford an admirable
prospect." This path was skirted by a wooded border, and at the
extreme end was set with iron hoops, "for the purpose of playing
a game with a ball called the mall." ["Our Pall Mall is, I
believe, derived from paille maille, a game somewhat analogous to
cricket, and imported from France in the reign of the second
Charles. It was formerly played in St. James's Park, and in the
exercise of the sport a small hammer or mallet was used to strike
the ball. I think it worth noting that the Malhe crest is a
mailed arm and hand, the latter grasping a mallet."--NOTES AND
QUERIES, 1st series, vol. iii. p. 351.]

In St. James's Park Samuel Pepys first saw the Duke of York
playing at "pelemele"; and likewise in 1662 witnessed with
astonishment people skate upon the ice there, skates having been
just introduced from Holland; on another occasion he enjoyed the
spectacle of Lords Castlehaven and Arran running down and killing
a stout buck for a wager before the king. And one sultry July
day, meeting an acquaintance here, the merry soul took him to the
farther end, where, seating himself under a tree in a corner, he
sung him some blithesome songs. It was likewise in St. James's
Park the Duke of York, meeting John Milton one day, asked him if
his blindness was not to be regarded as a just punishment from
heaven, due to his having written against the martyred king. "If
so, sir," replied the great poet and staunch republican, "what
must we think of his majesty's execution upon a scaffold?" To
which question his royal highness vouchsafed no reply.

It was a favourite custom of his majesty, who invariably rose
betimes, to saunter in the park whilst the day was young and pass
an hour or two in stroking the heads of his feathered favourites
in the aviary, feeding the fowls in the pond with biscuits, and
playing with the crowd of spaniels ever attending his walks. For
his greater amusement he had brought together in the park a rare
and valuable collection of birds and beasts; amongst which were,
according to a quaint authority, "an onocratylus, or pelican, a
fowl between a stork and a swan--a melancholy water-fowl brought
from Astracan by the Russian ambassador." This writer tells us,
"It was diverting to see how the pelican would toss up and turn a
flat fish, plaice or flounder, to get it right into its gullet at
its lower beak, which being filmy stretches to a prodigious
wideness when it devours a great fish. Here was also a small
water-fowl, not bigger than a more-hen, that went almost quite
erect like the penguin of America. It would eate as much fish as
its whole body weighed, yet ye body did not appear to swell the
bigger. The Solan geese here are also great devourers, and are
said soon to exhaust all ye fish in a pond. Here was a curious
sort of poultry not much exceeding the size of a tame pidgeon,
with legs so short as their crops seemed to touch ye earth; a
milk-white raven; a stork which was a rarity at this season,
seeing he was loose and could fly loftily; two Balearian cranes,
one of which having had one of his leggs broken, and cut off
above the knee, had a wooden or boxen leg and thigh, with a
joint so accurately made that ye creature could walke and use it
as well as if it had ben natural; it was made by a souldier. The
park was at this time stored with numerous flocks of severall
sorts of ordinary and extraordinary wild fowle breeding about the
decoy, which, looking neere so greate a citty, and among such a
concourse of souldiers and people, is a singular and diverting
thing. There are also deere of several countries, white, spotted
like leopards; antelopes, an elk, red deere, roebucks, staggs,
Guinea goates, Arabian sheepe, etc. There are withy-potts or
nests for the wild fowle to lay their eggs in, a little above ye
surface of ye water."

Hyde Park, lying close by, likewise afforded a pleasant and
convenient spot for recreation. Here, in a large circle railed
off and known as the Ring, the world of quality and fashion took
the air in coaches. The king and queen, surrounded by a goodly
throng of maids of honour and gentlemen in waiting, were wont to
ride here on summer evenings, whilst courtiers and citizens
looked on the brilliant cavalcade with loyal delight. Horse and
foot races were occasionally held in the park, as were reviews
likewise, Cosmo, Grand Duke of Tuscany, "a very jolly and good
comely man," whilst visiting England in 1669, was entertained by
his majesty with a military parade held here one Sunday in May.

On arriving at Hyde Park, he found a great concourse of people
and carriages waiting the coming of his majesty, who presently
appeared with the Duke of York and many lords and gentlemen of
the court. Having acknowledged an enthusiastic greeting, Charles
retired under shade of some trees, in order to protect himself
from the sun, and then gave orders for the troops to march past.
"The whole corps," says the Grand Duke, "consisted of two
regiments of infantry, and one of cavalry, and of three companies
of the body-guard, which was granted to the king by parliament
since his return, and was formed of six hundred horsemen, each
armed with carabines and pistols, all well mounted and dressed,
which are uniform in every; thing but colour. When they had
marched by, without firing either a volley or a salve, his
majesty dismounted from his horse, and entering his carriage,
retired to Whitehall."

Besides such diversions as were enjoyed in the parks, the people
had various other sources of public amusement; amongst these
puppet-shows, exhibitions of strength and agility, bear-baiting,
cock-fighting, and dancing obtained. Until the restoration,
puppet-shows had not been seen for years; for these droll dolls,
being regarded as direct agents of Satan, were discountenanced by
the puritans. With the coming of his majesty they returned in
vast numbers, and were hailed with great delight by the people.
One of these exhibitions which found special favour with the
town, and speedily drew great audiences of gallants and ladies of
quality, was situated within the rails of Covent Garden. And so
perfect were the marionettes of this booth in the performance of
divers sad tragedies and gay comedies, that they had the honour
of receiving a royal command to play before their majesties at
Whitehall. Amongst the most famous tumblers, or, as they were
then styled, posturemakers, of this reign were Jacob Hall the
friend of my Lady Castlemaine, and Joseph Clarke, beloved by the
citizens. Though the latter was "a well-made man and rather
gross than thin," we are told he "exhibited in the most natural
manner almost every species of deformity and dislocation; he
could dislocate his vertebrae so as to render himself a shocking
spectacle; he could also assume all the uncouth faces he had seen
at a quaker's meeting, at the theatre, or any public place. He
was likewise the plague of all the tailors about town. He would
send for one of them to take measure of him, but would so
contrive it as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his
shoulders; when his clothes were brought home and tried upon him,
the deformity was removed into the other shoulder, upon which the
tailor begged pardon for the mistake, and mended it as fast as he
could; but on another trial found him as straight-shouldered a
man as one would desire to see, but a little unfortunate in a
hump back. In fact, this wandering tumour puzzled all the
workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so
changeable a customer."

Florian Marchand, "the water-spouter," was another performer who
enjoyed considerable fame. Such was the dexterity of this
conjurer that, "drinking only fountaine-water, he rendered out of
his mouth in severall glasses all sorts of wine and sweete
waters." A Turk, who walked up an almost perpendicular line by
means of his toes, danced blindfold on a tight rope with a boy
dangling from his feet, and stood on his head on the top of a
high mast, shared an equal popularity with Barbara Vanbeck, the
bearded woman, and "a monstrous beast, called a dromedary."
These wondrous sights, together with various others of a like
kind, which were scattered throughout the town and suburbs during
the greater part of the year, assembled in full strength at the
fairs of St. Margaret, Southwark, and St. Bartholomew, in
Smithfield. These gatherings, which usually lasted a fortnight,
were looked forward to with considerable pleasure, and frequented
not only by citizens bent on sport, but by courtiers in search of

Nay, even her majesty was tempted on one occasion to go a-
fairing, as we gather from a letter addressed to Sir Robert
Paston, contained in Ives's select papers. "Last week," says the
writer thereof, "the queen, the Duchess of Richmond, and the
Duchess of Buckingham had a frolick to disguise themselves like
country lasses, in red petticoates, waistcoates, etc., and so goe
see the faire. Sir Bernard Gascoign, on a cart jade, rode before
the queen; another stranger before the Duchess of Buckingham, and
Mr. Roper before Richmond. They had all so overdone it in their
disguise, and look'd so much more like antiques than country
volk, that as soon as they came to the faire, the people began to
goe after them; but the queen going to a booth to buy a pair of
yellow stockins for her sweethart, and Sir Bernard asking for a
pair of gloves, sticht with blew, for his sweethart, they were
soon, by their gebrish, found to be strangers, which drew a
bigger flock about them. One amongst them [who] had seen the
queen at dinner, knew her, and was proud of her knowledge. This
soon brought all the faire into a crowd to stare at the queen.
Being thus discovered, they as soon as they could got to their
horses; but as many of the faire as had horses, got up with their
wives, children, sweetharts, or neighbours behind them, to get as
much gape as they could till they brought them to the court gate.
Thus by ill conduct was a merry frolick turned into a penance."

On another occasion my Lady Castlemaine went to Bartholomew fair
to see the puppets play "Patient Grissel;" and there was the
street "full of people expecting her coming out," who, when she
appeared, "suffered her with great respect to take the coach."
Not only the king's mistress, but likewise the whole court went
to St. Margaret's fair to see "an Italian wench daunce and
performe all the tricks on the high rope to admiration; and
monkies and apes do other feates of activity." "They," says a
quaint author, "were gallantly clad A LA MODE, went upright,
saluted the company, bowing and pulling off their hats, with as
good a grace as if instructed by a dancing master. They turned
heels over head with a basket having eggs in it, without breaking
any; also with lighted candles on their heads, without
extinguishing them; and with vessells of water without spilling a

The cruel sport of bull and bear baiting was also commonly
practised. Seated round an amphitheatre, the people witnessed
these unfortunate animals being torn to pieces by dogs, the
owners of which frequently jumped into the arena to urge them to
their sanguinary work, on the result of which great wagers
depended. Indignation arising against those who witnessed such
sights may be somewhat appeased by the knowledge that infuriated
bulls occasionally tossed the torn and bleeding carcases of their
tormentors into the faces and laps of spectators. Pepys
frequently speaks of dense crowds which assembled to witness this
form of cruelty, which he designates as good sport; and Evelyn
speaks of a gallant steed that, under the pretence that he had
killed a man, was baited by dogs, but fought so hard for his life
"the fiercest of them could not fasten on him till he was run
through with swords." Not only bull and bear baiting, cock and
dog fighting were encouraged, but prize combats between man and
man were regarded as sources of great diversion. Pepys gives a
vivid picture of a furious encounter he, in common with a great
and excited crowd, witnessed at the bear-garden stairs, at
Bankside, between a butcher and a waterman. "The former," says
he, "had the better all along, till by-and-by the latter dropped
his sword out of his hand; and the butcher, whether not seeing
his sword dropped I know not, but did give him a cut over the
wrist, so as he was disabled to fight any longer. But Lord! to
see how in a minute the whole stage was full of watermen to
revenge the foul play, and the butchers to defend their fellow,
though most blamed him; and then they all fell to it to knocking
down and cutting many on each side. It was pleasant to see, but
that I stood in the pit, and feared that in the tumult I might
get some hurt."

Among the more healthy sports which obtained during the reign
were horse-racing, tennis, and bowling. The monarch had, at vast
expense, built a house and stables at Newmarket, where he and his
court regularly repaired, to witness racing. Here likewise the
king and "ye jolly blades enjoyed dauncing, feasting, and
revelling, more resembling a luxurious and abandoned route than a
Christian court." He had likewise a tennis-court and bowling
green at Whitehall, where at noonday and towards eve, blithe
lords, and ladies in brave apparel, might be seen at play.
Bowling was a game to which the people were much devoted, every
suburban tavern having its green, where good friends and honest
neighbours challenged each other's strength and skill. And
amongst other pleasant sports and customs were those practised on
May-day, when maids rose betimes to bathe their faces in dew,
that they might become sweet-complexioned to men's sight; and
milk-maids with garlands of spring flowers upon their pails, and
posies in their breasts, danced to the merry music of fiddles
adown the streets.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

The men of genius who lived in the days of the merry monarch have
rendered his reign, like that of Elizabeth, illustrious in the
annals of literature. The fact of "Paradise Lost," the
"Pilgrim's Progress," "Hudibras," and "Alexander's Feast" being
given to the world whilst Charles II. occupied the throne, would
have sufficiently marked the epoch as one exceeding in
intellectual brilliancy; but besides these works, an abundance of
plays, poems, satires, treatises, and histories added fresh
lustre to this remarkable age.

At the period of the restoration, John Milton had reached his
fifty-second year. He had studied in the University of
Cambridge; published the "Masque of Comus;" likewise a treatise
against the Established Church; taught school at Aldersgate
Street; married a wife and advocated divorce; printed a pamphlet
to compose the minds of those disturbed by the murder of Charles
I.; as also a defence of his murderers, justifying the monarch's
execution, for which the author was awarded a thousand pounds;
had become secretary to Cromwell, whom he stooped to flatter; and
had even, on the advent of his majesty's return, written and set
forth "A Ready and Easy Way to establish a Free Commonwealth."
["To your virtue," writes John Milton to Oliver Cromwell,
"overpowering and resistless, every man gives way, except some
who, without equal qualifications, aspire to equal honours, who
envy the distinctions of merit greater than their own, and who
have yet to learn that, in the coalition of human society,
nothing is more pleasing to God, or more agreeable to reason,
than that the highest mind should have the sovereign power.
Such, sir, are you, by general confession: such are the things
achieved by you, the greatest and most glorious of our
countrymen, the director of our public councils, the leader of
unconquered armies the father of your country; for by that title
does every good man hail you with sincere and voluntary praise."]

On the landing of Charles II. Milton withdrew to the privacy
afforded by a residence in Bartholomew Close, near West
Smithfield. For a time he was apprehensive of punishment. His
pamphlet justifying the late king's execution was, with others of
a like kind, burned by the common hangman; but though parliament
ordered the attorney-general would prosecute the authors of these
works, Milton was neither seized nor brought to trial. Soon
after his arrival, Charles published an act of grace promising
free pardon to those instrumental in overthrowing his father's
government, with the exception of such as had contrived his
death; and inasmuch as Milton had but justified that monstrous
act after it had taken place, he escaped condemnation. Moreover,
he received a special pardon, which passed the privy seal in
December, 1660. His escape has been attributed to his friend
Davenant. This loyal soldier had, when taken by Cromwell's
troopers in the civil war, been condemned to speedy death; from
which, by Milton's intercession, he escaped; an act of mercy
Davenant now repaid in kind, by appealing to his friends in
behalf of the republican's safety.

Having secured his freedom, Milton lived in peace and obscurity
in Jewin Street, near Aldersgate Street. During the commonwealth
his first wife, the mother of his three children, had died; on
which he sought solace and companionship in a union with
Catherine Woodcock, who survived her marriage but twelve months;
and being left free once more, he, in the year of grace 1661,
entered into the bonds of holy matrimony for a third time, with
Elizabeth Minshul, a lady of excellent family and shrewish
temper, who rendered his daughters miserable in their father's
lifetime, and defrauded them after his death.

In order to support his family he continued to keep a school, and
likewise employed himself in writing "Paradise Lost" the
composition of which he had begun five years previously. From
his youth upwards he had been ambitious to furnish the world with
some important work; and prevision of resulting fame had given
him strength and fortitude in periods of difficulty and
depression. And now the time had arrived for realization of his
dream, though stricken by blindness, harassed by an unquiet wife,
and threatened by poverty, he laboured sore for fame. The more
fully to enjoy quiet necessary to his mental condition, he
removed to a house in Artillery Walk, Bunhill Fields. His life
was one of simplicity. He rose as early as four o'clock in
summer and five in winter, and being "smit with the love of
sacred song," had a chapter of the Bible read to him; studied
until twelve, dined frugally at one, and afterwards held
discourse with such friends as came to visit him.

One of these was Thomas Elwood, a quaker much esteemed amongst
good men, who, in order that he might enjoy the advantages of the
poet's conversation, read Latin to him every afternoon save
Sunday. The whilst his voice rose and fell in regular monotony,
the blind man drank his words with thirsty ears; and so acute
were the senses remaining to him, that when Elwood read what he
did not understand, Milton perceived it by the inflection of his
voice, and stopped him to explain the passage. In fair weather
the poet wandered abroad, enjoying the fragrance of sweet pasture
land, and the warmth of glad sunlight he might not behold. And
anon, seated in a high-backed chair without his door, his
straight pale face full of repose and dignity, his light brown
hair falling in curls upon his shoulders, his large grey eyes,
"clear to outward view of blemish or of spot," fixed on vacancy,
his figure clad in coarse cloth--he received those who sought his

In their absence the poet spent solitary hours conning over as
many lines of the great poem as his memory could store, until one
of his friends arrived, and relieved him by taking the staazas
down. Frequently his nephew, Edward Philips, performed this task
for him. To him Milton was in the habit of showing his work as
it advanced, and Philips states he found it frequently required
correction in orthography and punctuation, by reason of the
various hands which had written it. As summer advanced, he was
no longer favoured by a sight of the poem; inquiring the reason
of which, Milton told him "his vein never happily flowed but from
the autumnal equinox to the vernal; and that whatever he
attempted at other times was never to his satisfaction, though he
courted his fancy never so much."

In the year 1665 "Paradise Lost" was completed, but no steps
were taken towards its publication, as the author, in company
with his neighbours, fled from the dreaded plague. The following
year the citizens were harassed by losses sustained from the
great fire, so that Milton did not seek to dispose of his poem
until 1667; when, on the 27th of April, it was sold to Samuel
Simmons, a publisher residing in Aldersgate Street. The
agreement entered into stated Milton should receive an immediate
payment of five pounds, with the stipulation that he should be
given an equal sum on sale of thirteen hundred copies of the
first edition, and five pounds on disposal of the same number of
the second edition, and yet five pounds more after another such
sale of the third edition. Each edition was to number fifteen
hundred books. Two years after the publication of "Paradise
Lost," its author received the second payment of five pounds;
five years later a third payment was made him; before the fourth
fell due his life had been set free from care.

From the first his poem had come in contact with a few receptive
minds, and borne the blessed fruit of appreciation. Richardson
recounts that Sir John Denham, a poet and man of culture, one
morning brought a sheet of the great epic fresh from the press to
his friend Sir George Hungerford. "Why, what have you there?"
asked the latter. "Part of the noblest poem that was ever
written in any, language or in any age," said Sir John, as he
laid the pages before him. And a few weeks later my Lord
Dorset, looking over a bookstall in Little Britain, found a copy
of this work, which he opened carelessly at first, until he met
some passages which struck him with surprise and filled him with
admiration: observing which the honest bookseller besought him
to speak in favour of the poem, for it lay upon his hands like so
much waste-paper. My lord bought a copy, carried it home, read
and sent it to Dryden, who, in due time returning the volume,
expressed his opinion of its merits in flattering terms. "The
author," said he, "cuts us all out--aye, even the ancients too."

Such instances as these were, however, few in number. That the
work did not meet with wider appreciation and quicker sale is not
surprising when it is called to mind that from 1623 to 1664 but
two editions of Shakespeare's works, comprising in all about one
thousand copies, had been printed. In an age when learning was
by no means universal, and polite reading uncommon, it was indeed
a scource of congratulation, rather than a topic for
commiseration, that the work of a republican had in two years
reached a sale of thirteen hundred copies.

Before a third edition was required his fame had spread. The
house in which he had been born, in Bread Street, was shown with
pride to foreign visitors; parents sent their sons to read to
him, that they might reap the benefit of his remarks. The latter
testimony to his genius was a tribute the blind poet appreciated.
But it happened there were times and seasons when these obliging
youths were not at hand, or when it was inconvenient for him to
receive them. On such occasions he demanded that his daughters
should read him the books he required, though these were
frequently written in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Italian, and Spanish
--languages of which they were wholly ignorant. The torment this
inflicted on those striving to pronounce unaccustomed words which
had no meaning to their ears, and the torture endured by him, may
readily be conceived. Expressions of complaint on the one side,
and of pain on the other, continually interrupted the readings,
which were eventually wholly abandoned; the poet sending his
children, whose education was so limited that they were unable to
write, to learn "ingenious sorts of manufacture proper for women,
particularly embroideries in gold and Silver."

When in 1665 Milton had shown his poem to Elwood, the good quaker
observed, "Thou hast said a great deal upon Paradise Lost: what
hast thou to say upon Paradise Found?" This question resting in
the poet's mind, in due time produced fruit; for no sooner had
his first poem been published than he set about composing the
latter, which, under the name of "Paradise Regained," was given
to the world in 1670 "This," said he to Elwood, "is owing to
you; for you put it into my head by the question which you put to
me, which otherwise I had not thought of." This poem, he
believed, had merits far superior to those of "Paradise Lost,"
which he could not bear to hear praised in preference to
"Paradise Regained." In the same year he published "Samson
Agonistes," and two years later a treatise on "Logic," and
another on "True Religion, Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and the
Best Methods to Prevent the Growth of Popery." In this, the mind
which had soared to heaven and descended to hell in its boundless
flight, argues that catholics should not be allowed the right of
public or private worship. In the last year of his life he
republished his "Juvenile Poems," together with "Familiar
Epistles in Latin."

He had now reached his sixty-sixth year. His life had been
saddened by blindness, his health enfeebled by illness, his
domesticity troubled by his first marriage and his last, his
desires disappointed by the result of political events. So that
when, on the 10th of November, 1674, death summoned him, he
departed without regret.

Amongst those who visited Milton was John Dryden, whom the author
of "Paradise Lost" regarded as "a good rhymester, but no poet,"
an opinion with which posterity has not held. At the
restoration, John Dryden was in his twenty-ninth year. The son
of Sir Erasmus Dryden, Baronet, of Canons Ashby, he enjoyed an
income of two hundred pounds a year, a sum then considered
sufficient to defray the expenses of a young man of good
breeding. He had passed through Westminster School, taken a
degree at Cambridge, written a eulogistic stanza on the death of
Cromwell, and a joyous poem on the happy restoration of the merry

Three years after the arrival of his majesty, Dryden's comedy
entitled "The Wild Gallant" was produced, this being the first of
twenty-eight plays which followed. In the year 1668 he had the
honour to succeed Sir William Davenant as poet laureate, the
salary attached to which office was one hundred pounds a year and
a tierce of wine. His dignity was moreover enhanced, though his
happiness was by no means increased, by his marriage with the
Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the Earl of Berkshire. For my
lady's temper sorely marred the poet's peace, and left such
impressions upon his mind, that to the end of his days his
invectives against the bonds of matrimony were bitter and deep.
In justice it must be mentioned the Lady Elizabeth's mental
condition was supposed to be unsettled; a conjecture which was
proved true by a madness which befell her, subsequent to her
husband's death.

Dryden was now a well known figure in town, consorting with men
of the highest quality and parts, and gossiping with wits and
players who frequented Will's coffee-house. Here, indeed, a
special chair was appropriated to his use; which being placed by
the fire in winter, and on the balcony in summer, he was pleased
to designate as his winter and his summer seat. At Will's he was
wont to hold forth on the ingenuity of his plays, the perfection
of his poems, and the truth of astrology. It was whilst leaving
this coffee house one night a memorable occurrence befell the
poet, of which more anon.

It happened at one time the brilliant, poetical, and mercurial
Earl of Rochester extended his favour and friendship towards
Dryden, gratified by which, the poet had, after the manner of
those days, dedicated a play to him, "Marriage a la Mode." This
favour his lordship received with graciousness, and no doubt
repaid with liberality. After a while, Dryden, led by choice or
interest, sought a new patron in the person of the Earl of
Mulgrave. For this nobleman Rochester had long entertained a
bitter animosity, which had arisen from rivalry, and had been
intensified from the fact that Rochester, refusing to fight him,
had been branded as a coward. Not daring to attack the peer,
Rochester resolved to avenge himself upon the poet. In order to
effect his humiliation, the earl at once bestowed his favour on
Elkanah Settle, a playwright and poet of mean abilities. He had
originally been master of a puppet-show, had written verses to
order for city pageants, and produced a tragedy in heroic verse,
entitled "Cambyses, King of Persia."

His patron being at this time in favour with the king, introduced
Settle to the notice of the court, and induced the courtiers to
play his second tragedy, "The Empress of Morocco," at Whitehall,
before their majesties. This honour, which Dryden, though poet
laureate, had never received, gave Elkanah Settle unmerited
notoriety; the benefit of which was apparent by the applause his
tragedy received when subsequently produced at the Duke's Theatre
in Dorset Gardens. Nor did the honour and profit which "The
Empress of Morocco" brought him end here; it was published by
William Cademan, and had the distinction of being the first
English play ever illustrated, or sold for the price of two
shillings. It was scarce to be expected, in an age when men
ventilated their merest grievances by the publication of
pamphlets, Dryden could refrain from pointing out to the public
the mistake into which they had fallen by honouring this man.
Nor was he singular in his feelings of animosity. The poets
Shadwell and Crowne, believing themselves ignored and neglected,
whilst their rival was enriched and exalted, joined Dryden in
writing a merciless criticism upon Settle's tragedy. This was
entitled "The Empress of Morocco, or some few erratas to be
printed instead of the sculptures [Illustrations.], with the
second edition of the play." In this Settle was described as "an
animal of a most deplored intellect, without reading and
understanding;" whilst his play was characterized as "a tale told
by an idiot, full of noise and fury signifying nothing." To
these remarks and others of like quality, Settle replied in the
same strain, so that the quarrel diverted the town and even
disturbed the quiet of the universities. Time did ample justice
to both men; lowering Settle to play the part of a dragon in a
booth at Bartholomew Fair, and consecrating Dryden to

Before the clamour resulting from this dispute had ended,
Rochester, fickle and eccentric, grew weary of his PROTEGE and
consequently abandoned him. He had not, however, tired of
humiliating the laureate, and to mortify him the more, introduced
a new poet at court, This was John Crowne, a man then little
known to the town, and now best remembered as author of "Sir
Courtly Nice," a comedy of wit and entertainment. So well did he
succeed in obtaining favour at court, through Rochester's
influence, that the queen ordered him to write a masque. This
command he immediately obeyed, producing "Calisto, or the Chaste
Nymph," which was acted at Whitehall by the Duke of York's fair
daughters, the Princesses Mary and Anne, together with many
gracious ladies and noble lords. Dryden, probably the better to
hide the mortification he felt at seeing his office as laureate
unceremoniously usurped, offered to write an epilogue for the
occasion; but this service was, through Rochester's interference,
rejected. The masque proved a brilliant success; "the dancing,
singing, and music, which were all in the highest perfection, and
the graceful action, incomparable beauty, and splendid habits of
those ladies who accompanied them, afforded the spectators
extraordinary delight." "Calisto" was therefore performed thirty

The author's gratitude for his lordship's patronage was only
equalled by his disappointment upon its hasty withdrawal.
Growing weary of him, Rochester found a more worthy object for
his favour in Thomas Otway, a poet rich in all the miseries which
afflicted genius in those days. Son of the rector of Woolbeding,
pupil at Winchester School, and commoner of Christchurch,
Cambridge, he had on his arrival in town vainly sought employment
as an actor, and barely earned bread as a play-writer. Before he
became a PROTEGE of my Lord Rochester he had written
"Alcibiades," a tragedy, he being then, in 1665, in his twenty-
fifth year. His next play was "Don Carlos, Prince of Spain,"
which, through the earl's influence, gained great success. In
the preface to this tragedy he acknowledges his unspeakable
obligations to my lord, who he says made it his business to
establish "Don Carlos" in the good opinion of the king and of his
royal highness the Duke of York. Unwarned by the fate of his
predecessors, and heedless of the fickleness of his patron, he
basked in hope in the present, mercifully unconscious of the
cruel death by starvation which awaited him in the future. Alas!
Rochester not only forsook him, but loaded him with satire in a
poem entitled "Session of the Poets."

In verses which he wrote soon after, entitled "An Allusion to the
Tenth Satire," Rochester likewise attacked Dryden; who, in the
preface of his "All for Love," replied in like manner. Then
there appeared an "Essay on Satire," which ridiculed the king,
dealt severely with his mistresses, said uncivil things of the
courtiers in general, and of my Lord Rochester in particular.
The noble earl was indeed described as being "lewd in every
limb," affected in his wit, mean in his actions, and cowardly in
his disposition. Now, though this was conceived and brought
forth by my Lord Mulgrave, Rochester suspected Dryden of its
authorship, and resolved to punish him forthwith. Accordingly on
the night of the 18th of December, 1679, when Dryden was passing
through Rose Street, Covent Garden, on his homeward way from
Will's Coffee House, he was waylaid by some ruffians, and, before
he could draw his sword, promptly surrounded and severely beaten.

This occurrence caused considerable sensation throughout the
town, and though surmises arose in many minds as to who had hired
the bravoes, it was found impossible to prove them. In hope of
gaining some clue to the instigator of the attack, Dryden caused
the following advertisement to be inserted in the LONDON GAZETTE
AND DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE for three consecutive days: "Whereas
John Dryden, Esq., was on Monday, the 18th instant, at night,
barbarously assaulted and wounded in Rose Street, in Covent
Garden, by divers men unknown; if any person shall make discovery
of the said offenders to the said Mr. Dryden, or to any justice
of the peace, he shall not only receive fifty pounds, which is
deposited in the hands of Mr. Blanchard Goldsmith, next door to
Temple Bar, for the said purpose; but if he be a principal or an
accessory in the said fact, his majesty is graciously pleased to
promise him his pardon for the same."

Dryden sought no opportunity for revenge; for which restraint,
outliving Rochester, and having a noble mind and generous
disposition, he was no doubt glad at heart. Not only did he
survive the earl, but likewise the king. To the company and
conversation of that gracious sovereign the poet was frequently
admitted, a privilege which resulted in satisfaction and pleasure
to both. One pleasant day towards the end of his majesty's
reign, whilst they walked in the Mall, Charles said to him, "If I
were a poet, and indeed I think I am poor enough to be one, I
would write a satire on sedition." Taking this hint, Dryden
speedily set himself to work, and brought a poem on such a
subject to his royal master, who rewarded him with a hundred
broad pieces.

Amongst Dryden's friends was the excellent and ingenious Abraham
Cowley, whose youth had given the promise of distinction his
manhood fulfilled. It is related that when quite a lad, he found
in the window recess of his mother's apartment a copy of
Spencer's "Faerie Queene." Opening the book, he read it with
delight, and his receptive mind reflecting the poet's fire, he
resolved likewise to exercise the art of poesy. In 1628, when at
the age of ten, he wrote "The Tragic History of Pyramus and
Thisbe;" five years later he published a volume of poems; and
whilst yet a schoolboy wrote his pastoral comedy, "Love's

When at St. John's College, Oxford, he gave proof of his loyalty
by writing a poem entitled the "Puritan and the Papist," which
gained him the friendship of courtiers. On the Queen of Charles
I. taking refuge in France, he soon followed her, and becoming
secretary to the Earl of St. Albans, conducted the correspondence
between her majesty and the king, ciphering and deciphering their
letters, and such as were sent or received by those immediately
concerned in the cause of royalty. In this situation he remained
until four years previous to the restoration, when he was sent
into England for the purpose of observing the condition of the
nation, and reporting the same. Scarce had he set foot in London
when he was seized, examined, and only liberated on a friend
offering bail for him to the amount of one thousand pounds.

The better to disguise the object of his visit, and lull
suspicions of republicans, he took out the degree of Doctor of
Physic at Oxford; after which he retired into Kent, where he
devoted a great portion of his time to the study of botany and
the composition of poetry. On Cromwell's death he hastened to
France, and remained there until the king's return; which he
celebrated by a song of triumph. Like hundreds of others who had
served Charles in his exile, he looked forward to gratitude and
reward, but met disappointment and neglect. Amongst the numerous
places and employments the change of government opened in court
and state, not one was offered the loyal poet.

Nay, his hardships did not end here; for having, in 1663,
produced his merry comedy, "Cutter of Coleman Street," it was
treated with severity as a censure upon the king. Feeling over-
nervous to witness the result of its first representation, the
poet absented himself from the playhouse; but thither his friends
Dryden and Sprat sped, hoping they might be able to bear him
tidings of its triumph. When they returned to him at night and
told him of its fate, "he received the news of its ill success,"
says Sprat, "not with so much firmness as might have been
expected from so great a man." Of all intent to satirize the
king he was entirely innocent--a fact he set before the public in
the preface to his play on its publication. Having, he argues,
followed the fallen fortunes of the royal family so long, it was
unlikely he would select the time of their restoration to quarrel
with them.

Feeling his grievances acutely, he now published a poem called
"The Complaint," which met with but little success; whereon,
depressed by ill-fortune and disgusted by ingratitude, he sought
consolation in the peace of a country life. Through the
influence of his old friend, Lord St. Albans, and the Duke of
Buckingham, he obtained a lease of the queen's lands at Chertsey,
which produced him an income of about three hundred pounds a
year--a sum sufficient for his few wants and moderate desires.
He resided here but two years, when he died, on the 28th of July,
1667. Milton, on hearing of his death, was troubled. The three
greatest English poets, he declared, were Spenser, Shakespeare,
and Cowley.

The ungrateful neglect with which he was treated in life was
sought to be atoned for by useless honours paid him after death.
His remains were first conveyed to Wallingford House, then a
residence of the Duke of Buckingham, from whence they were
carried in a coach drawn by six horses, and followed by all the
men of letters and wits of the town, divers stately bishops,
courtiers, and men of quality, whose carriages exceeded one
hundred in number, to Westminster Abbey. Here the Poet was laid
at rest beside Geoffrey Chaucer, and not far removed from gentle
Spenser, whose words had first inspired his happy muse.

The literary wealth of this reign was furthermore enhanced by the
genius of Butler, the inimitable author of "Hudibras," concerning
whom little is known, save that he was born in 1612, and spent
his life in poverty. He passed some years as clerk to a justice
of the peace; he also served a great man's steward, and acted as
secretary to Sir Samuel Luke, one of Cromwell's officers. With
those of the commonwealth he held no part; that he was a royalist
at heart his great satire indicates. The first part of this was
published in the third year of the restoration, and was
introduced to the notice of his majesty by my Lord Dorset. So
delighted was the monarch by its wit that its lines were
continually on his lips, an example speedily followed by the
courtiers. It was considered certain a man possessing such
brilliant genius and loyal nature would be rewarded with place or
pension; but neither boon was bestowed upon him. Resting his
hopes on future achievements, the second part of "Hudibras"
appeared in 1664; but again his recompense was delayed.
Clarendon made him promises of valuable employments, which were
never fulfilled; and to soothe his disappointment the king sent
him a present of three hundred guineas.

Indignant at the neglect from which he suffered, his friend
Wycherley spoke to the Duke of Buckingham on his behalf, saying
it was a shame to the court a man of Butler's parts should be
allowed to suffer want. With this his grace readily agreed, and
promised to use his influence towards remedying the poet's ill-
fortune; but time went by, and his condition remained unaltered.
Whereon Wycherley conceived the idea of bringing Butler and the
duke together, that the latter might the more certainly remember
him. He therefore succeeded in making his grace name an hour and
place in which they might meet. So it came to pass they were
together one day at the Roebuck Tavern; but scarce had Buckingham
opened his lips when a pimp of his acquaintance--"the creature
was likewise a knight"--passed by with a couple of ladies. To a
man of Buckingham's character the temptation was too seductive to
be neglected; accordingly, he darted after those who allured him,
leaving the needy poet, whom he saw no more. Butler lived until
1680, dying in poverty. Longueville, having in vain solicited a
subscription to defray the expenses of the poet's burial in
Westminster Abbey, laid him to rest in the churchyard of Covent

Wycherley, the friend of Butler, though a child of the Muses, was
superior to poverty. He was born in the year of grace 1640, and
early in life sent for his better education into France.
Returning to England soon after the king had come unto his own,
young Wycherley entered Queen's College, Oxford, from whence he
departed without obtaining a degree. He then betook himself to
town, and became a law student. The Temple, however, had less
attraction for him than the playhouse. Indeed, before leaving
Oxford he had, written a couple of comedies--to wit, "Love in a
Wood," and "The Gentleman Dancing Master," a fact entitling him
to be considered a man of parts. Not satisfied with this
distinction, he soon developed tastes for pleasures of the town,
and became a man of fashion. His wit illuminated choice
gatherings of congenial spirits at coffee-houses; his epigrams
were repeated by boon companions in the precincts of the court.

In the year 1672 his comedy "Love in a Wood" was produced. It
immediately gained universal favour, and, moreover, speedily
attracted the attention of his majesty's mistress, the Duchess of
Cleveland. Wycherley was a man well to look upon: her grace was
a lady eager for adventure. Desiring his acquaintance, and
impatient of delay, she introduced herself to his notice in a
manner eminently characteristic of the age. It happened when
driving one day through Pall Mall, she encountered Wycherley
riding in his coach in an opposite direction. Thrusting her head
out of the window of her vehicle, she saluted the author with a
title unknown to the conversations of polite society in the
present day.

The fashionable playwright understanding the motive which
prompted her remark, hastily ordered his coach to follow hers;
and, overtaking her, uncovered and began a speech becoming so
ardent a gallant.

"Madam," said he, "you have been pleased to bestow a title on me
which belongs only to the fortunate. Will your ladyship be at
the play to-night?"

"Well," replied her grace, well pleased at this beginning, "what
if I am there?"

"Why, then," answered he, "I will be there to wait on your
ladyship, though I disappoint a fine woman who has made me an

"So," said this frail daughter of Eve, greedily swallowing his
flattery, "you are sure to disappoint a woman who has favoured
you for one who has not?"

"Yes," quoth he, readily enough, "if the one who has not favoured
me is the finer woman of the two. But he who can be constant to
your ladyship till he can find a finer, is sure to die your

That night her grace sat in the front row of the king's box at
Drury Lane playhouse, and sure enough there was handsome Will
Wycherley sitting in the pit underneath. The gentleman cast his
eyes upwards and sighed; the lady looked down and played with her
fan; after which preliminaries they fell into conversation which
both found far more interesting than the comedy then being
enacted before their eyes. This was the beginning of an intimacy
concerning which the court made merry, and of which the town
spoke scandal. My lady disguised herself as a country wench, and
visited his chambers, Mr. Wycherley dedicated his play, "Love in
a Wood," to her in elegant phraseology, He was of opinion that
she stood as little in need of flattery as her beauty did of art;
he was anxious to let the world know he was the greatest admirer
she had; and he was desirous of returning her his grateful
acknowledgment for the favours he had received from her.

The interest of this romance was presently intensified by the
introduction of a rival in the person of the Duke of Buckingham.


Back to Full Books