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

Part 7 out of 7

Probably from fear an intrigue with such a prominent figure
would, if indulged in, quickly become known to the king, she
refused to encourage Buckingham's love. His grace was not only a
passionate lover, but likewise a revengeful man; accordingly, he
resolved to punish my lady for her lack of good taste. It
therefore became his habit to speak of her intrigues before the
court, and to name the individuals who received her favours. Now
Wycherley, being amongst these, grew fearful his amour with the
duchess should become known to the king, from whom at this time
he expected an appointment. Accordingly, he besought his good
friends, Lord Rochester and Sir Charles Sedley, to remonstrate on
his behalf with the duke. These gentlemen undertook that kindly
office, and in order to make the rivals acquainted, besought his
grace to sup with the playwright. The duke complying with their
request, met Wycherley in a friendly spirit, and soon professed
himself delighted with his wit; nay, before the feast was over he
drank his health in a bumper of red wine, and declared himself
Mr. Wycherley's very good friend and faithful servant henceforth.

Moreover, he was as good as his word; for, being master of the
horse, he soon after appointed Wycherley an equerry, and
subsequently gave him a commission as captain of a regiment of
which he was colonel. Nor did the duke's services to the
dramatist end here; for when occasion offered he introduced him
to the merry monarch, and so pleased was the king with the
author's conversational powers that he admitted him to his
friendship. His majesty's regard for Wycherley gradually
ripened, and once when he lay ill of fever at his lodgings in Bow
Street, Covent Garden, the merry monarch visited him, cheered him
with words of kindness, and promised he would send him to
Montpelier when he was well enough to travel. For this good
purpose Charles sent him five hundred pounds, and Wycherley spent
the winter of 1679 abroad.

Previous to this date he had written, besides his first comedy,
three others which had been received with great favour by the
town, viz., "The Gentleman Dancing Master," "The Country Wife,"
and "The Plain Dealer." Soon after his return to England the
crisis of his life arrived, and he married. His introduction to
the lady whom fate ordained to become his wife is not the least
singular episode in a remarkable biography. Being at Tunbridge
Wells, then a place of fashion and liberty, he was one day
walking with a friend named Fairbeard. And it happened as they
were passing a book-stall they overheard a gentlewoman inquire
for the "Plain Dealer."

"Madam," says Mr. Fairbeard, uncovering, "since you are for the
'Plain Dealer,' there he is for you;" whereon he led Wycherley
towards her.

"This lady," says that gentleman, making her a profound bow, "can
bear plain speaking; for she appears to be so accomplished, that
what would be compliment said to others, spoken to her would be
plain dealing."

"No truly, sir," replied the lady; "I am not without my faults,
like the rest of my sex; and yet, notwithstanding all my faults,
I love plain dealing, and never am more fond of it than when it
points out my errors."

"Then, madam," said Mr. Fairbeard, "you and the plain dealer seem
designed by heaven for each other."

These pretty speeches having been delivered and received with
every mark of civility, Mr. Wycherley made his exit with the
lady, who was none other than the Countess of Drogheda, a young
widow gifted with beauty and endowed by fortune. Day by day he
waited on her at her lodging, accompanied her in her walks, and
attended her to the assemblies. Finally, when she returned to
town he married her. It is sad yet true the union did not result
in perfect happiness. Mr. Wycherley had a reputation for
gallantry, the Countess of Drogheda was the victim of suspicion.
Knowing jealousy is beget by love, and mindful of sacrifices she
had made in marrying him, Wycherley behaved towards her with much
kindness. In compliance with her wishes he desisted visiting the
court, a place she probably knew from experience was rife with
temptation; and moreover when he cracked a bottle of wine with
convivial friends at the Cock Tavern, opposite his lodgings in
Bow Street, he, for the greater satisfaction of his wife, would
leave the windows open of the room in which he sat, that she
might from the vantage ground of her home see there were no
hussies in the company.

As proof of her love, she, when dying, settled her fortune upon
him; but unhappily his just right was disputed by her family.
The case therefore went into litigation, for the expenses of
which, together with other debts, Wycherley was cast into prison.
Here the brilliant wit, clever writer, and boon companion, was
allowed to remain seven long years. When released from this vile
bondage, another king than the merry monarch occupied the English

The name of Andrew Marvel is inseparably connected with this
period. He was born in the year 1620 in the town of Kingston-
upon-Hull; his father being a clever school-master, worthy
minister, and "an excellent preacher, who never broached what he
had never brewed, but that which he had studied some compitent
time before." At the age of fifteen, Andrew Marvell was sent to
Trinity College, Cambridge. But he had not long been there when
he withdrew himself, lured, as some authorities state, by wiles
of the wicked Jesuits; repulsed, as others say, by severities of
the head of his college. Leaving the university, he set out for
London, where his father, who hastened thither in search of him,
found him examining some old volumes on a book-stall. He was
prevailed to return to his college, where, in 1638, he took his
degree as bachelor of arts.

On the completion of his studies and death of his father, he
travelled through Holland, France, and Italy. Whilst abroad he
began to produce those satirical verses such as were destined to
render him famous. One of his earliest efforts in this direction
was aimed at the Abbe de Maniban, a learned ecclesiastic, whose
chief fault in Marvell's eyes lay in the fact of his professing
to judge characters from handwriting.

Whilst in Italy, Andrew Marvell met John Milton, and they having
many tastes and convictions in common, became fast friends. In
1653, the former returned to England, and for some time acted as
tutor to Mistress Fairfax; he being an excellent scholar, and a
great master of the Latin tongue. He now led a peaceful and
obscure life until 1657. In that year, Milton, "laying aside,"
as he wrote, "those jealousies, and that emulation which mine own
condition might suggest to me," introduced him to Bradshaw; soon
after which he was made assistant-secretary to Milton, who was
then in the service of Cromwell.

He had not been long engaged in this capacity, when the usurper
died; and Marvell's occupation being gone, the goodly burgesses
of the town of Hull, who loved him well, elected him as their
representative in parliament, for which service, in accordance
with a custom of the time, he was paid. The salary, it is true,
was not large, amounting to two shillings a day for borough
members; yet when kindly feeling and honest satisfaction mutually
existed between elector and representative, as in Marvell's case,
the wage was at times supplemented by such acceptable additions
as home-cured pork and home-brewed ale, "We must first give you
thanks," wrote Marvell on one occasion to his constituents, on
the receipt of a cask of beer, "for the kind present you have
pleased to send us, which will give occasion to us to remember
you often; but the quantity is so great, that it might make sober
men forgetful."

He now, in the warfare of political life, made free use of his
keen wit and bitter sarcasm as serviceable weapons. These were
chiefly employed in exposing measures he considered calculated to
ruin the country, though they might gratify the king. However,
he had no hatred of monarchy, but would occasionally divert
Charles by the sharpness of his satire and brilliancy of his wit.
Considering how valuable these would be if employed in service of
the court, Charles resolved to tempt Marvell's integrity. For
this purpose the Lord Treasurer Danby sought and found him in his
chamber, situated in the second floor of a mean house standing in
a court off the Strand. Groping his way up the dark and narrow
staircase of the domicile, the great minister stumbled, and
falling against a door, was precipitated into Marvell's
apartment, head foremost. Surprised at his appearance, the
satirist asked my Lord Danby if he had not mistaken his way.
"No," said the courtier with a bow, "not since I have found Mr.
Marvell." He then proceeded to tell him that the king, being
impressed by a high sense of his abilities, was desirous of
serving him. Apprehending what services were expected in return,
Marvell answered that he who accepted favours from the court was
bound to vote in its interests. "Nay," said my lord, "his
majesty but desires to know if there is any place at court you
would accept." On which Marvell replied he could receive nothing
with honour, for either he must treat the king with ingratitude
by refusing compliance with court measures, or be a traitor to
his country by yielding to them. The only favour he therefore
begged was, that his majesty would esteem him a loyal subject;
the truer to his interests in refusing his offers than he would
be by accepting them. It is stated that Lord Danby, surprised at
so much purity in an age of corruption, furthermore tempted him
with a bag of gold, which Marvell obstinately refused to accept.

He died suddenly in the year 1678, leaving behind him a
reputation for humour and satire which has rarely been excelled.

Besides these poets and dramatists, there were other great men,
who as prose writers, helped to render the literary history of
the period remarkable for its brilliancy. Amongst these were
Lord Clarendon, High Chancellor of England, concerning whom much
has already been said; and Thomas Hobbs of Malmesbury, better
known as author of "The History of the Causes of the Civil War,"
and of "Human Nature," than as a translator of the Iliad and the
Odyssey. Dr. Gilbert Burnet, author of "The History of his Own
Times;" and Dr. Ralph Cudworth, author of "The True Intellectual
System of the Universe," were likewise men of note. But one
whose name is far more familiar than any writer of his time is
John Bunyan, author of "The Pilgrim's Progress."

He was the son of a tinker, and was born within a mile of Bedford
town in the year 1628. He imbibed at an early age the spirit of
Puritanism, fought in the civil wars, took to himself a wife, and
turned preacher. Six months after the merry monarch landed,
Bunyan was flung into Bedford gaol, where, rather than refrain
from puritanical discourses, in the utterance of which he
believed himself divinely inspired, he remained, with some short
intervals of liberty, for twelve years. When offered freedom at
the price of silence, he replied, "If you let me out to-day, I
will preach to-morrow." Nay, even in his confinement he
delivered sermons to his fellow-prisoners; and presently he
commenced to write. His convictions leading him to attack the
liturgy of the Church of England, and the religion of the
Quakers, his productions became popular amongst dissenters. At
length, by an act annulling the penal statutes against Protestant
Nonconformists and Roman Catholics, passed in 1671, he was
liberated. When he left prison he carried with him a portion of
his "Pilgrim's Progress," which was soon after completed and
published, though at what date remains uncertain. In 1678 a
second edition was printed, and such was the growth of its
popularity, that six editions were issued within the following
four years.

Now he became famous, his lot was far different from what it had
been; his sermons were heard by eager audiences, his counsel was
sought by those in trouble, his prayers were regarded as the
utterances of inspiration. Once a year he rode, attended by vast
crowds, from Bedford Town to London City, that he might preach to
those burdened by sin; and from the capital he made a circuit of
the country, where he was hailed as a prophet. His life extended
beyond the reign of King Charles; his influence lasted till his


Time's flight leaves the king unchanged.--The Rye House
conspiracy.--Profligacy of the court.--The three duchesses.--The
king is taken ill.--The capital in consternation.--Dr. Ken
questions his majesty.--A Benedictine monk sent for.--Charles
professes catholicity and receives the Sacraments.--Farewell to
all.--His last night on earth.--Daybreak and death.--He rests in

His majesty's habits changed but little with the flight of time,
To the end of his reign the court continued brilliant and
profligate. Wits, courtezans, and adventurers crowded the royal
drawing-rooms, and conversed without restraint; the monarch
pursued his pleasures with unsatiated zest, taking to himself two
new mistresses, Lady Shannon and Catherine Peg, who respectively
bore him a daughter and a son, duly created Countess of Yarmouth
and Earl of Plymouth. For a while, indeed, a shadow fell upon
the life of the merry monarch, when, in 1683, he was roused to a
sense of danger by discovery of the Rye House conspiracy.

This foul plot, entered into by the Whigs on failure of the
Exclusion Bill, had for its object the murder of his majesty and
of the Duke of York. Before arriving at maturity its existence
and intentions were revealed by one of the conspirators, when
William Lord Russell, the Earl of Essex, and Algernon Sidney,
second son of the Earl of Leicester, were arrested and charged
with high treason. My Lord Essex died in the Tower by his own
hand; Lord Russell was condemned on testimony of one witness, and
duly executed; as was likewise Algernon Sidney, whose writings on
Republicanism were used as evidence against him. On the
revelation of this wicked scheme the country became wildly
excited, and the king grievously afflicted. A melancholy seized
upon his majesty, who stirred not abroad without double guards;
and the private doors of Whitehall and avenues of the park were

From this condition, however, he gradually recovered, and resumed
his usual habits. Accordingly, we find him engaged in "luxurious
dalliance and prophaneness" with the Duchess of Mazarine, and
visiting the Duchess of Portsmouth betimes in her chamber, where
that bold and voluptuous woman, fresh risen from bed, sat in
loose garments talking to the king and his gallants, the while
her maids combed her beautiful hair.

"I can never forget," says John Evelyn, writing on the 4th of
February, 1685, "the inexpressible luxury and prophaneness,
gaming, and all dissoluteness, and as it were total
forgetfullnesse of God (it being Sunday evening), which this day
se'nnight I was witnesse of, the king sitting and toying with his
concubines, Portsmouth, Cleveland, and Mazarine, etc., a French
boy singing love songs in that glorious gallery, whilst about
twenty of the greate courtiers and other dissolute persons were
at basset round a large table, a bank of at least two thousand in
gold before them, upon which two gentlemen who were with me made
reflexions with astonishment. Six days after was all in the

For now the end of all things had come for Charles Stuart. It
happened on the morning of the 2nd of February, 1685, the day
being Monday, the king whilst in his bedroom was seized by an
apoplectic fit, when crying out, he fell back in his chair, and
lay as one dead. Wildly alarmed, his attendants summoned Dr.
King, the physician in waiting, who immediately bled him, and had
him carried to bed. Then tidings spread throughout the palace,
that his majesty hovered betwixt life and death; which should
claim him no man might say. Whereon the Duke of York hastened to
his bedside, as did likewise the queen, her face blanched, her
eyes wild with terror. His majesty after some time recovering
consciousness, slowly realized his sad condition. Then he
conceived a fear, the stronger as begotten by conviction, that
the sands of his life had run their course. Throughout that day
and the next he fainted frequently, and showed symptoms of
epilepsy. On Wednesday he was cupped and bled in both jugulars;
but on Thursday he was pronounced better, when the physicians,
anxious to welcome hope, spoke of his probable recovery.

But, alas, the same evening he grew restless, and signs of fever
became apparent. Jesuits' powders, then of great repute, were
given him, but with no good result. Complaining of a pain in his
side, the doctors drew twelve ounces more of blood from him.
Exhaustion then set in; all hope of life was over.

Meanwhile, the capital was in a state of consternation. Prayers
for his majesty's recovery were offered up in all churches
throughout the city; likewise in the royal chapels, where the
clergy relieved each other every quarter of an hour. Crowds
gathered by day and night without the palace gates, eager to
learn the latest change in the king's condition from those who
passed to and fro. Inside Whitehall all was confusion. Members
of the Privy Council assembled in the room adjoining that where
the monarch lay; politicians and ambassadors conversed in
whispers in the disordered apartments; courtiers of all degrees
flocked through the corridors bearing signs of deep concern upon
their countenances.

And amongst others who sought his majesty's presence was the
Archbishop of Canterbury, together with the Bishops of London,
Durham, Ely, and Bath and Wells; all being anxious to render
spiritual services to the king. Of these good men, Charles liked
best Dr. Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, having most faith in his
honesty. For, when his lordship was a prebend of Winchester, it
had happened Charles passed through that city, accompanied by
Nell Gwynn, when Dr. Ken refused to receive her beneath his roof
even at the king's request. This proof of integrity so pleased
his majesty, that he gave him the next vacant bishopric by way of
reward. And now, his lordship being at hand, he read prayers for
the Sick from out the Common Prayer Book for his benefit, until
coming to that part where the dying are exhorted to make
confession of their sins, when the bishop paused and said such
was not obligatory. He then asked his majesty if he were sorry
for the iniquities of his life? when the sick man, whose heart
was exceeding heavy, replied he was; whereon the bishop
pronounced absolution, and asked him if he would receive the
Sacrament. To this Charles made no reply, until the same
question had been repeated several times, when his majesty
answered he would think of it.

The Duke of York, who stood by the while, noting the king's
answer, and aware of his tendencies towards Catholicism, bade
those who had gathered round stand aside; and then, bending over
him, asked in a low tone if he might send for a priest. A look
of unspeakable relief came into the king's face, and he answered,
"For God's sake do, brother, and lose no time." Then another
thought flashing across his mind, he said, "But will not this
expose you to much danger?" James made answer, "Though it cost
me my life I will bring you a priest." He then hurried into the
next room, where, among all the courtiers, he could find no man
he could trust, save a foreigner, one Count Castelmachlor.
Calling him aside, he secretly despatched him in search of a

Between seven and eight o'clock that evening, Father Huddleston,
the Benedictine friar who had aided the king's escape after the
battle of Worcester, awaited at the queen's back stairs the
signal to appear in his majesty's presence. The duke being made
aware of the fact, announced it to the king, who thereon ordered
all in his room to withdraw; but James, mindful that slander
might afterwards charge him with killing his brother, begged the
Earl of Bath, the lord of the bedchamber then in waiting, and the
Earl of Feversham, captain of the guard, might stay--saying to
the king it was not fitting he should be unattended in his weak
condition. These gentlemen therefore remained. And no sooner
had all others departed than the monk was admitted by a private
entrance to the chamber. The king received him with great joy
and satisfaction, stating he was anxious to die in the communion
of the catholic church, and declaring he was sorry for the wrongs
of his past life, which he yet hoped might be pardoned through
the merits of Christ.

He then, as we read in the Stuart Papers, "with exceeding
compunction and tenderness of heart," made an exact confession of
his sins, after which he repeated an act of contrition, and
received absolution. He next desired to have the other
Sacraments of the church proper to his condition administered to
him: on which the Benedictine asked if he desired to receive the
Eucharist; eagerly he replied, "If I am worthy pray fail not to
let me have it." Then Father Huddleston, after some exhortation,
prepared to give him the Sacrament; when the dying man,
struggling to raise himself, exclaimed, "Let me meet my heavenly
Lord in a better posture than lying in bed." But the priest
begged he would not move, and then gave him the Communion, which
he received with every sign of fervour. And for some time he
prayed earnestly, the monk and the duke kneeling by the while,
silence obtaining in the room. This was presently broken by the
sad and solemn tones of the priest's voice, reading a
commendation of the soul to its Maker: the which being ended,
the Benedictine, with tears in his eyes, took leave of his
majesty. "Ah," said Charles, "you once saved my body; you have
now saved my soul." Then the monk gave him his benediction, and
departed as quietly as he had come.

Then those waiting without were once more admitted to the room,
when Charles nerved himself to take a sad farewell of those
around him. He first publicly thanked his brother for the
services and affection he had ever rendered him through life, and
extolled his obedience and submission to his commands. Giving
him his keys, he said he had left him all he possessed, and
prayed God would bless him with a happy and prosperous reign.
Finally, he recommended all his children to him by name,
excepting only the Duke of Monmouth then in Holland, and
suffering from the king's displeasure; and besought him to extend
his kindness towards the Duchesses of Portsmouth and Cleveland;
"and do not," said he, "let poor Nelly starve." Whilst these
commands were addressed him, the duke had flung himself on his
knees by the bedside, and, bursting into tears, kissed his
brother's hand.

The queen, who had scarce left his majesty since the beginning of
his illness, was at this time absent, her love and grief not
permitting her to endure this afflicting scene. He spoke most
tenderly of her; and when presently she sent a message praying he
would pardon her absence in regard to her excessive grief, and
forgive her withal if at any time she had offended him, he
replied, "Alas, poor woman! She beg my pardon?--I beg hers, with
all my heart." He next summoned his children to him, one by one,
and addressing them with words of advice, embraced them heartily
and blessed them fervently. And he being the Lord's anointed,
the bishops present besought he would give them his benediction
likewise, and all that were present, and in them the whole body
of his subjects; in compliance with which request he, with some
difficulty, raised himself, and all falling on their knees, he
blessed them fervently. Then they arose and departed.

Silence fell upon the palace; night wore slowly away. Charles
tossed upon his bed racked with pain, but no complaint escaped
his lips. Those who watched him in the semi-darkened room heard
him ask God to accept his sufferings in atonement for his sins.
Then, speaking aloud, he declared himself weary of life, and
hoped soon to reach a better world. Courteous to the last, he
begged pardon for the trouble he gave, inasmuch as he was long in
dying. And anon he slumbered, and quickly woke again in agony
and prayed with zeal. Never had time moved with slower passage
for him; not hours, but weeks, seemed to elapse between each
stroke of the clock; and yet around him was darkness and tardy
night. But after much weary waiting, morning was at hand, the
time-piece struck six. "Draw the curtains," said the dying man,
"that I may once more see day." The grey light of a February
dawn, scarce brightened to eastward a cheerless sky; but he
hailed this herald of sunrise with infinite relief and terrible
regret; relief that he had lived to see another day; regret that
no more morns should break for him.

His soul tore itself from his body with fierce struggles and
bitter pain. It was hard for him to die, but he composed himself
to enter eternity "with the piety becoming a Christian, and the
resolution becoming a king;" as his brother narrates. About ten
o'clock on Friday morning, February 6th, 1685, he found relief in
unconsciousness; before midday chimed he was dead. He had
reached the fifty-fifth year of his life, and the twenty-fifth
year of his reign.

His illegitimate progeny was numerous, numbering fifteen, besides
those who died in infancy. These were the Duke of Monmouth and a
daughter married to William Sarsfield, children of Lucy Walters;
the Dukes of Southampton, Grafton, and Northumberland, the
Countesses of Litchfield and of Sussex, and a daughter Barbara.
who became a nun, children of the Duchess of Cleveland; the Duke
of Richmond, son of the Duchess of Portsmouth; the Duke of St.
Albans, and a son James, children of Nell Gwynn; Lady
Derwentwater, daughter of Moll Davis; the Countess of Yarmouth,
daughter of Lady Shannon; and the Earl of Plymouth, son of
Catherine Peg.

For seven days the remains of the late king lay in state; on the
eighth they were placed in Westminster Abbey. The ceremony was
of necessity conducted in a semi-private manner for by reason of
his majesty dying in the Catholic religion, his brother
considered it desirable the ceremonies prescribed for the
occasion by the English church should be dispensed with.
Therefore, in order to avoid disputes or scandal, the king was
laid in the tomb without ostentation. At night his remains were
carried from the painted chamber in Westminster sanctuary to the
abbey. The procession, headed by the servants of the nobility,
of James II., and his queen, of the dowager queen, and of the
late king, was followed by the barons, bishops, and, peers
according to their rank; the officers of the household, and the
Archbishop of Canterbury. Then came all that was mortal of his
late majesty, borne under a canopy of velvet, supported by six
gentlemen of the privy chamber, the pall being held by six earls.
Prince George of Denmark--subsequently husband of Queen Anne--
acted as chief mourner, attended by the Dukes of Somerset and
Beaufort, and sixteen earls. One of the kings of Arms carried
the crown and cushion, the train being closed by the king's band
of gentlemen pensioners, and the yeomen of the guard.

At the abbey entrance the dean and prebendaries, attended by
torch bearers, and followed by a surpliced choir, met the
remains, and joined the procession, the slow pacing figures of
which seemed spectral in this hour and place; then the sad
cortege passed solemnly through the grey old abbey, the choir
chanting sorrowfully the while, the yellow flare of torches
marking the prevailing gloom. And being come to the chapel of
Henry VII., the body of the merry monarch was suffered there to
rest in peace.


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