« PreviousContinue »
and it was conceded to Gondomar on the occasion in question, only as a very exceptional and special favour, limited to the summer months of the current year, 1620, and granted to him then merely because James was desirous of winning his goodwill in favour of his cherished project of the Spanish match. Even so, the apartments allotted to him were not in the main building, but in one of the detached towers of the palace, a subtle distinction which greatly diminished his Excellency's gratification.
The King's return to Hampton Court took place, as usual, in the autumn; and in the month of January following, perhaps in order to allay any jealousy that might be aroused by the civilities shown to the Spanish ambassador at Hampton Court, the French ambassador was “nobly entertained with hawking and hunting” at the same place.
After this we find nothing to record in the annals of the palace until September, 1623, when a certain Dr. Whiting incurred the severe displeasure of the King for some sermon he preached before his Majesty in the chapel in the palace. What was the nature of the remarks that gave such great offence we do not know, though we may suspect that it was either some inadequacy in the recognition of the doctrine of the divine right of kings, or some other of James's pet dogmas, or an attack on the Spanish match, which, on the score of religion, was naturally very distasteful to the clergy. At any rate, the preacher's delinquency was thought so grave, that it resulted in his being had up before the Council, who wrote that they “found him penitent and submissive ; yet his offence requiring exemplary justice, they had committed him ; although the happy return of the Prince makes this day more fit for grace and gladness." In effect, Dr. Whiting was very soon after liberated, though on condition of being inhibited from preaching.
“The happy return of the Prince” was from his famous romantic expedition into Spain, whither he had gone with Buckingham, to sue in person for the hand of the Infanta.
The entente cordiale” was, however, of short duration ; and the match, very soon after the Prince's return, was entirely broken off ; so that when, at the end of September, 1624, the Spanish agent, who was acting as chargé d'affaires during the absence of the ambassador, came to Hampton
CHARLES 1. AND HIS WIFE.
Court, he was pointedly slighted and scarcely any notice taken of him.
This is the last reference to Hampton Court which we find during the reign of James I. Instead of Charles's marriage with the Infanta, a match was negotiated with the daughter of the King of France. But before the preliminaries were finally settled, "the Wonder of the World,” as James is styled in the dedication of the authorized version of the Bible, was no more.
CHARLES I.'s QUARREL WITH HIS QUEEN.
CHARLES I., in the earlier part of his reign, frequently visited Hampton Court, either for pleasure or to entertain distinguished foreigners, or sometimes to avoid the danger of the plague, which was on several occasions raging in London, when all communication between that city and the palace was forbidden. On this latter account it was that he came to make his first stay here as king about the 6th of July, 1625, three months after his accession to the throne, and two or three weeks after his marriage.
Accompanying him, of course, was his newly-married wife, then only fifteen years of age, Henrietta-Maria of France, daughter of Henri IV. and Marie de Medicis. She brought with her a large train of French followers and servants, consisting of a hundred and six persons, both men and women, and lay as well as clerical. At the head of the clergy, who numbered some thirty priests, was Daniel du Plessis, Bishop of Mende, the Queen's Grand Almoner, and Father Bérulle, her confessor, while her lay attendants included two ambassadors—the Marquis d'Effiat and M. de la Ville-aux-Clercsthe Comte de Tillières, her chamberlain, and many lords and ladies in waiting. Among her ladies was one deserving of special notice, namely, a certain Madame de Saint-Georges, who had been the Queen's companion and friend in her childhood, and who, by the overweening and pernicious influence she had acquired over the mind of the Queen, had already made much mischief between the newly-married pair. Charles, in fact, soon recognized in her one of those intriguing, confidential female friends, who so often fasten themselves on weak-minded women, and ruin the happiness of so many homes. He, therefore, quickly formed the determination of banishing her from Court altogether on the first provocation; and, in order to lose no time in marking his dislike to her, he declined, when starting for Hampton Court, to get into the large coach provided for himself, his wife, and her suite, that he might take instead a small one, where there was only room for two or three English Court ladies, but no seat for Madame de Saint-Georges.
This slight offered to her friend so annoyed the Queen, that she could not refrain from showing her resentment, though she had the tact to use expressions more playful than offensive.
Of this incident the Duke of Buckingham, if he was not a witness, was at any rate speedily informed by Charles, who made his favourite his confidant in everything, allowed him to interfere in his most private concerns, and made him the medium of communicating his wishes to his young wife. Accordingly, at once after their arrival at this palace, Buckingham sought an interview with the Queen to expostulate with her on her conduct towards Charles. As soon as he was ushered into her presence, he began in threatening language to tell her that the King, her husband, could no longer endure the
way in which she lived with him ; that if she did not change her demeanour towards him, means would be found to make her do so, which would render her the most miserable woman in the world; adding that as for himself, he understood well enough that he was in no great favour with her, but that he did not care a rap on that account, as he possessed the goodwill of his master, and that her illwill towards him would not benefit herself.
This extraordinary outburst, by which Buckingham seems to have hoped to terrify the Queen, and to acquire an ascendency over her youthful mind, surprised her greatly; but she answered calmly and prudently enough, that she was not aware of having given the King, her husband, any
CHARLES I.'S DISAGREEMENT WITH HIS WIFE.
cause to be angry with her, nor would she ever; and that, such being the case, she could not conceive that he should bear her any grudge; that to him only she looked for her joy and happiness; and that as to Buckingham, so far from wishing to be his enemy, she was anxious to treat him with all the consideration which was his due, if only he would behave towards her as he ought.
Next day the Duke, as though oblivious of his conduct of the day before, or as if he imagined that his insults were acts of courtesy, came again to her and coolly begged her to accept his wife, his sister, and his niece as ladies of her bedchamber. She replied that the late Queen of England had had but two ladies attending her in that capacity, and that she had brought three with her from France, with whom she was quite contented; but that nevertheless she was willing to refer the matter to the French ambassadors. On receiving this answer, Buckingham at once had recourse to them himself, and represented to them, as strongly as he could, how great might be the services he could render to the Queen and to France. They could not disregard the force of these considerations, and they were already arranging means whereby to satisfy him, when the Bishop of Mende overruling them made them consider seriously how hazardous it would be, for a young Queen like her, to put heretical women about her at her first coming into England, how scandalized all Catholics would be, both in England and abroad, and what the Pope would say. So convincing, indeed, did his arguments seem to them, that they put an end to the scheme, to the great annoyance of Buckingham, who, from that moment, conceived the most bitter hatred against him.
After the Queen had stayed a short time at Hampton Court, she went with the King to Windsor Castle, on account of the increase of the plague, which had now extended to the neighbourhood of Hampton Court, though it did not break out within the precincts of the Royal Manor, an immunity probably due to the admirable sanitary arrangements with which it had been endowed by Cardinal Wolsey.
The King and Queen remained away from Hampton Court for about two months, during which time the bickerings between Charles and Buckingham on one side, and Henrietta-Maria and Madame de Saint-Georges on the other, continued unabated. One of the chief sources of contention was the onerous nature of the stipulations in the marriage treaty for the free practice by the Queen and her attendants of the Catholic religion, and the reluctance the King showed to observe them, on account of their exceeding unpopularity in England.
Equally productive of trouble was the injudicious way in which the French ecclesiastics flaunted their exemption from the penal laws in the face of everyone. This was especially the case with the Queen's confessor, Father Bérulle, who was always by her side, and whose aggressiveness led to more than one discreditable scene.
One day when the King and Queen were dining together in public in the Presence Chamber, “Mr. Hacket (chaplain to the Lord Keeper Williams) being there to say grace, the confessor would have prevented him, but that Hacket shoved him away; whereupon the confessor went to the Queen's side, and was about to say grace again, but that the King, pulling the dishes unto him, and the carvers falling to the business, hindered. When dinner was done, the confessor thought, standing by the Queen, to have been before Mr. Hacket, but Mr. Hacket again got the start. The confessor, nevertheless, begins his grace as loud as Mr. Hacket, with such a confusion, that the King in great passion instantly rose from the table, and taking the Queen by the hand, retired into the bedchamber."
Conduct of this sort he, of course, put down to the malign influence of Madame de Saint-Georges; and it made him more than ever resolved to rid himself of the whole crew, which end he accordingly began to work immediately after his return to Hampton Court at the beginning of the month of November.
At this time the plague was still raging violently not only in London, but also in the neighbourhood of Kingston; and a proclamation was issued, prohibiting all communications between London, Southwark and Lambeth, and this palace.
Following his Majesty hither was the French ambassador, the Marquis of Blainville, who was very anxious to be lodged in the palace during his attendance on the Court, and who tried every manoeuvre he could think of to effect his purpose.