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posed in the summer season, I resolved to endeavour to prevent the sale of it, and accordingly procured a motion to be made at the sitting down of the House to that end, which took effect as I desired. For this I was very much blamed by my good friend, Sir Henry Vane, as a thing which was contrary to the interests of a commonwealth. He said that such places might justly be accounted amongst those things that prove Temptations to Ambitious Men, and exceedingly tend to sharpen their appetite to ascend the Throne. But for my own part, as I was free from any sinister design in this action, so I was of opinion that the temptation of sovereign power would prove a far stronger motive to aspire by the sword to gain the sceptre, which, when once attained, would soon be made use of to force the people to supply the want of such accommodation.”
The palace, accordingly, was not sold, neither was the intention of disposing of its furniture persevered in; and for the next six months or so, the question as to what use it should be put to, was left undetermined. But when Monk, in the month of February following, soon after his arrival in London, declared for a free parliament, and brought back the secluded members to the Long Parliament, a proposal was brought forward in the House for settling the Honour and Manor of Hampton Court, with its parks and other appurtenances upon him and his heirs; and the bill for it was read a first time on the 25th of February, and a second time two days after. But this proposal Monk thought a snare of his opponents to bind him against the King; and he used all his influence with those members who were friendly to him to have the bill rejected.
This was accordingly done, but, by way of compensation, a sum of £20,000 was voted to him on March 15th, 1660, together with the custody and stewardship of Hampton Court Manor and Park for life.
The Restoration, which Monk was so instrumental in bringing about, took place, it will be remembered, just two months and a half after this, and one of the first acts of the restored monarch was to confirm Monk in the offices of lieutenant, keeper, ranger and steward of Hampton Court, with its parks and warrens, which he accordingly retained until his death.
CHARLES II.'S IMPROVEMENTS.
The resumption by King Charles of the possession of this palace was marked also by the redecorating and refurnishing of many of the rooms for occupation by the Court; and several alterations and repairs in the structure of the building were also put in hand. The Tennis Court, especially, was considerably improved. Charles had always been fond of tennis, and with his return the game, which had, of course, been condemned by the Puritans as ungodly and sinful, revived a great deal and came into much fashionable vogue. Pending the completion of the new courts he was building in London, the King frequently played in this one, not only, it would seem, when in residence in this palace, but also when staying in London, whence he would come down to have a game of tennis, like many players of the present day.
A letter of one Stephen Charlton, written to Sir R. Leveson about six months after his accession to the throne, and now preserved among the Duke of Sutherland's papers, gives us a glimpse of his habits in this respect : “ London, 21" Jan. 1660-1. The King is in very good health and goes to Hampton Court often, and back again the same day, but very private. Most of his exercise is in the Tennis Court in the morning, when he doth not ride abroad; and when he doth ride abroad, he is on horseback by break of day, and most commonly back before noon.” He appears to have been a fair player; but the way in which his servile courtiers flattered him in this as in other things, utterly disgusted Pepys, who writes : “To the Tennis Court, and there saw the King play at tennis, and others; but to see how the King's play was extolled without any cause at all was a loathsome sight, though sometimes, indeed, he did play very well and deserved to be commended; but such open flattery is beastly.”
Charles II. was rather fond of gardening, and one of his first cares after his accession was the putting of the gardens here in order, French gardeners being sent for to improve them, and a Mr. May being appointed supervisor of them. Later on in his reign, Rose, the royal head gardener, planted some very famous dwarf yew trees here, which were long celebrated as being the finest in England.
To Charles II. also we owe the first laying out of the
Home Park in its present form—the planting of the great avenues of lime trees, radiating from the centre of the East Front of the palace, and the digging of the great canal, extending from the same front towards the river to a distance of three-quarters of a mile. This fact is worthy of note, as hitherto it has been erroneously stated that it was William III. who carried out these works. The avenues are symptoms of the influence of that French taste, which Charles imbibed only too strongly in many directions, during his sojourn abroad; while the canal, fringed with rows of lime trees, is clearly a reminiscence of the Dutch scenery, with which he became familiar during his residence in Holland.
The King's restoration to the throne of his ancestors was followed, exactly two years after, by his marriage to Catherine of Braganza, Infanta of Portugal, who, having sailed from Lisbon on the 23rd of April, St. George's Day, arrived off Portsmouth on the 14th of May, and came ashore when she had recovered from the effects of the journey, about a week after. On the day of her landing she received her first visit from Charles, and the very next day, the 21st of May, these two very new acquaintances were married.
After staying two or three days at Portsmouth, the “happy pair” set out for Hampton Court—where it had been arranged that they should spend their honeymoon—"as well," says the chronicler, "for the salubrity as majesty of it, being one of the most magnificent structures of all the royal palaces”; and here, after stopping for a night at Windsor Castle, they arrived on the 29th of May, Charles's birthday, and the anniversary of his entry into London after the Restoration.
Their progress hither took place in great state, in a chariot drawn by six horses, and accompanied by footmen, runners, men-at-arms, and a stream of carriages, in which were the ladies and gentlemen of the Court, and of wagons and carts, which carried the guarda-infantas—that is, the fardingales of the Queen and her ladies, without which," as Charles somewhat complainingly remarked, "there is no stirring.” The royal coach must have driven across the bridge over the moat in front of the Great Gateway, through the First Court, to the foot of the Great Hall stairs under
MARRIAGE OF CHARLES II.
Anne Boleyn's archway, where they alighted, and passed up the stairs through two lines of guards, followed by the Comtesses of Pontevel and Penalva, the Countess of Suffolk, and other ladies and officers of the household. Under the screens of the Great Hall were assembled the Lord Chancellor Clarendon, the Lord Treasurer, and the Counsellors of State, who received the royal pair, and went before them up through the Hall and the Great Watching Chamber, to the Presence Chamber. Here they were greeted by the foreign ministers, who were present to offer the congratulations of their respective sovereigns on the marriage.
The new Queen then proceeded through a suite of several State Rooms, in which were gathered, according to their degrees and several qualifications, the nobility, the lords and ladies of the Court, and others. After receiving their homage, the Queen retired to her own room.
The same night the Duchess of York came from London in her barge to pay her respects to her Majesty, and was received at the Privy Garden Gate by the waterside by King Charles himself, who, taking her by the hand, led her to the Queen, who received her in her bed-chamber. The Duchess offered to kiss her hand, but the Queen prevented her by raising her up and kissing her. The royal family then seated themselves near the Queen's bed, and conversed with her.
Next morning the Queen was dressed by eleven o'clock, and received several ladies, among them the wife of Sir Richard Fanshawe, whom the reader will remember as being with Charles I. at Hampton Court just before his escape, and who had performed the office of groomsman to Charles II. at his marriage at Portsmouth. Lady Fanshawe tells us that she “had the honour from the King, who was then present, to tell the Queen who I was, saying many kind things to ingratiate me with her Majesty, whereupon her Majesty gave her hand to me to kiss, with promises of her future favour.”
The rest of that day was probably spent in making the acquaintance of the various courtiers; and on the next, the 31st, the judges came to compliment her on her arrival. On June and her Majesty received in state the Lord Mayor and aldermen of the city of London, who, by Sir William Wylde, their recorder (who pronounced a Spanish oration), presented her with a gold cup and £1,000 in it. On this and other days she also received addresses from the nobility, and the submissions of several deputies for the cities and towns of England.
John Evelyn, the diarist, also came down from London to Hampton Court, and saw the Queen dining in public; and was afterwards taken by the Duke of Ormonde to be presented to her, and kiss her hand. His impression of her was tolerably favourable, for he states that "she was yet of the handsomest countenance of all the rest, and though low of stature, prettily shaped, languishing and excellent eyes, her teeth wronging her mouth by sticking a little too far out: for the rest lovely enough.”
But to say that she was "of the handsomest countenance" of any of the Portuguese ladies who followed in her train, was not a very high commendation; for never, according to the universal opinion, both at Court and among the public, had a pack of such hideous, odious, disagreeable women been gathered together to attend a Queen. Lord Clarendon, who was not disposed to be censorious in this regard, stigmatized them as “old, ugly and proud, and incapable of any conversation with persons of quality and a liberal education”; while the vivacious De Grammont, after saying that the Queen herself lent but little brilliancy to the Court where she came to reign, gives a caustic account of her retinue. It was composed, he says, of the Countess de Panétra, who came with her from Portugal, in the quality of lady of the bed-chamber; “six frights, who called themselves Maids of Honour, and a Duenna, another Monster, who took the title of governess to these extraordinary beauties.”
The Court was not less critical of the gentlemen in attendance on the Queen. Among these, especially, was one Taurauvédez, who called himself Don Pedro Francisco de Silva, and who, though extremely handsome, "was," says De Grammont, “a greater fool than all of the rest of the Portuguese put together, and more vain of his names than his person.” On him the Duke of Buckingham fastened the nickname of “Peter of the Wood,” which so enraged him