Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox Russell.

The rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance online

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natural and mechanical curiosities," and the telescopes which he
had had erected in St. James's Park.

At the close of 1684, the King was much taken up with
experiments on the property of mercury, and only a few weeks
before his death he was occupied with a process for trying to fix it.
Buckingham, we know, joined him in this hobby —

" Chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon."

Besides chemistry, surgery and medicine greatly interested
King Charles, These tastes he apparently transmitted to his
grandson, Charles Lennox, second Duke of Richmond, who, in
1749, was a Doctor of Physic and a Fellow of the Royal College
of Physicians, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the
same love of science has come out in more than one of his
descendants in later times.

To go back to Louise, the writer whom we have already

quoted says : " The Duchess of Portsmouth was more clever,


SM< PHTKR LKLY, f-ilix. II.
(From a paintino in possession of the Duke of Rirlimoml)

The Real Louise de Keroualle

more successful, and (be it added) more virtuous than her rivals,
and at the same time less popular than any of them. There is
something which extorts an unwilling admiration in the perti-
nacity with which she pursued and finally gained the highest
rank and the fullest recognition in her own country^ as well as
in England." Most of the great families in England recog-
nised her. The Arlingtons, the Sunderlands, the Arundels, the
Cliffords, the Lauderdales, and the young Duchess of York were
her great friends. The Russells, the Cavendishes, and the Butlers
stood aloof. The Duchess of Portsmouth once sent word to
the old Duchess of Ormond that she would dine with her on
such a day ; the honour was not declined, but the Duchess of
Ormond made her granddaughters leave the house, and received
the Duchess of Portsmouth alone with no one but her chaplain !
But it was very seldom that she received any rebuffs. We even
hear of Queen Catherine being her partner at loo, and when
the Act was passed in 1678 obliging all persons to take a test
against Popery, and a proviso was inserted in favour of the
Queen and nine ladies about her person, she required all her
attendants to cast lots, but named the Duchess of Portsmouth
as excepted ; and once when Phyllis Temple, the Maid-of-
honour, was rude to the Duchess, the Queen deprived the
young lady of a quarter's salary. This shows to a certain extent
that the Queen had no special personal animosity against the
Duchess of Portsmouth,^ though the King must have required
all his well-known tact to keep the balance. The following
original letters of his addressed to the Duchess, which we have
before us, show this : —

" My dear Life, — I will come to-morrow either to dinner

* See the statement quoted on page 20.

- The Duchess of Portsmouth always behaved towards the Queen with the
deepest respect.

49 D

The Real Louise de Keroualle

or immediately after, and then wil settel all, but certainly I
shal not mind the Queen when you are in the case. Adieu : I
am yours."

And then the following : —

"My dear Life, — There was a mesage from the Queen
to-day to desire the ladys to dine att their table and to invite
strangers, and there being a good deal of company, I can't come
till after dinner. Adieu, my Life."

It is no wonder, therefore, that the Duchess of Portsmouth
had a certain pride in her position. She considered herself
" maitresse en titre " and quite on a different footing from
Nell Gwyn and such like. Both the Duchess and Nell Gwyn
were at Oxford during the memorable Parliament of 1681,
and it was probably on this occasion that, when some one in
the crowd looked into the Duchess's carriage and called her a

bad name, coupling her with the actress, she said, " Me no ,

if me thought me ware, me would cut mine own throat."

The extravagance of the Duchess seems to have been un-
bounded, and King Charles denied her nothing. Carte tells a
story showing her love of acquisition and his subservience to
her wishes. When the daughter of his sister Henrietta was
engaged to the King of Spain, King Charles ordered the famous
jeweller Laguse to make a fine ornament of gems, which was
to cost _;/^ 1 5,000, and which Lord Ossory was to take her as
a present from his Majesty ; but when the jewel was shown to
the Duchess of Portsmouth, she admired it so much that the
King gave it to her. Evelyn says that " the Duchess of Ports-
mouth's splendid apartments at Whitehall were luxuriously
furnished, and with ten times the richness and glory of the
Queen's, such massy pieces of plate — whole tables, stands, &c.,


I'll-.UKK MU.NARll, pinx.

Louise dh Kekol.allb, Duchess of Portsmouth.

(From the paintin,i» in the National Portrait Gallery)


The Real Louise de Keroualle

of incredible value ! " and at a later period, in describing her
rooms, he says : " Here I saw the new fabric of French tapestry ;
for design, tenderness of work, and incomparable imitation of
the best paintings, beyond anything I had ever beheld. Some
pieces had Versailles, St. Germain, and other palaces of the
French King, with hunting figures and landscapes, exotic
fowls, and all to the life rarely done. Then for Japan cabinets,
screens, pendule clocks, great vases of wrought plate, tables,
stands, chimney furniture, sconces, branches, braseras,^ &c., all
of a massy silver, and out of number, besides some of his
Majesty's best paintings."

In 1682 these apartments were pulled down and rebuilt
three times to please the Duchess. Their ultimate fate was
destruction by a fire in 1691, which burnt "all the buildings
over the stone gallery at Whitehall to the waterside." Besides
her apartments at Whitehall, the Duchess had a house out of
London — at Kensington — from 1775 till 1788, nearly opposite
Kensington Palace gates, and here she used to retire for change
of air. Afterwards Elphinstone kept a school there, and Dr.
Johnson used to visit him. Then it became a Roman Catholic
boarding-house, in which Mrs. Inchbald died in 1821 ; and in
quite modern times it was a " maison de sante." Now it no
longer exists.

Out of evil good may come, and there is no doubt that
Louise de Keroualle did much to encourage " les beaux-arts " in
England, and greatly advanced the taste of our country by the
introduction of many French artists in various departments.
During the Civil War and the Protectorate, those branches of
trade allied to ornamental art, which bring employment to the

' i.e. brasiere, a movable hearth of silver for coals, transportable into any
room, much used in Spain. (Evelyn's " Fop Dictionary," 1690.)


The Real Louise de Keroualle

higher classes of artisans and mechanics, were wholly extin-
guished, John Addington Symonds talks of " the Puritan
hostility of Culture," and civilisation had gone back many
degrees between the years 1640 and 1660.

The Duchess of Portsmouth had many French workmen
brought over to England, and Colbert helped her to establish royal
workshops. The epoch of Le Grand Monarque was remarkable
in the history of art. Those were the days of Andre Charles
Boule, and the Duchess had his pupils in London ; and Charles
Le Brun, too, of the famous Gobelin factory, a painter by pro-
fession, but who designed for her ormolu mounts. The magnifi-
cent patronage she gave to artists drew them to our shores
in multitudes. Lely was succeeded by Kneller ; the two Vande-
veldes, Varelst, Verrio, Wissing, Gascar, and Laguerre were
amongst those who worked for her. The Duchess also had
over from Paris Le Notre, the French landscape gardener, to lay
out and improve St. James's Park, which King Charles had
begun immediately after the Restoration. It was Le Notre who
planted the avenue of trees at the Mall on the north side of
the Park. The walk on the south side was lined with aviaries
containing birds. Edward Storey was the keeper of the birds
and had a house at the entrance, hence the name Storey's Gate.
Wet or fine. King Charles was in the habit of going out every
morning to feed the ducks in the canal and his other birds,
many of those there now being said to be their descendants.
The King's friends were always lamenting the little care he
took of his health, especially the way he exposed himself to
wet and cold.

It was after a hawking expedition, early in the autumn of
1679, that he had what the doctors called "an intermittent
tertian," and in the following spring his condition caused the


The Real Louise de Keroualle

greatest alarm. The Dowager-Countess of Sunderland, in
writing to Mr. Sidney, on the loth May, says: "I was then,
like most others, out of my wits with the King being ill, and
greater distraction never was anywhere for the time. Thanks
be to God it did not last long; yesterday he was very well, but
I take the less comfort in it, because he had taken the ' Jesuits
powder ; ^ the fits he had did not last above two or three
hours." Young Lady Sunderland (Sacharissa) writes the same
day : " We have all been sadly alarmed with the King being
sick, but he is now very well again, and I hope will continue so,
if he can be kept from fishing when a dog would not be
abroad." Fishing was one of the favourite amusements of
Kmg Charles, and no amount of bad weather stopped him from
pursuing his sport, the Thames at Datchet being one of his
favoured spots. Apparently these fits to which the King was
subject were of the nature of ague, and "Jesuits' powder"
was nothing but quinquinna or Peruvian bark, called also chin-
chona, from its valuable properties having been just estab-
lished in 1640 by the cure of the Comitissa del Cinchon,
wife of the Spanish Viceroy at Peru. It was called "Jesuits'
powder" from the interest the Cardinal de Lugo and the
Jesuits took in its distribution. On its first introduction into
Europe it was reprobated by many eminent physicians; hence
when it was given to King Charles it caused great distrust
in the minds of many bigoted persons. Sir William Temple in
his " Essay on Health " alludes to these suspicions. Sir Leoline
Jenkins, writing a few days after the attack, says : " I had
the honour to see his Majesty perfectly recovered of his
aguish distemper," and he goes on to say " he was abroad
at prayers in the public oratory. He dined with the Queen
and had a very good appetite, and the physicians are in no


The Real Louise de Keroualle

apprehension, blessed be God for it ! of the returning of his

About four months later King Charles was seized with
" an intermittent fever of so malignant a character that his
life was in danger. Great excitement prevailed, and, of course,
according to the monomania of the period, the illness was
attributed to poison. Lady Sunderland writes : " I believe yet
that there is scarce anybody beyond Temple Bar that believes
his distemper proceeded from anything but poison, though as
little like it as if he had fallen from a horse ... if the Privy
Councillors had not used their authority to keep the crowds
out of the King's chamber he had been smothered : the bed-
chamber men could do nothing to prevent it." The King,
however, speedily recovered under the care of Dr. Micklethwaite,
who was in consequence knighted.

Notwithstanding these warnings King Charles took no
care of himself, and on the 2nd of February 1685 he had a
fit of apoplexy, which was followed by several others ; and
on the 5th it was obvious that he was dying. At first the
Duchess of Portsmouth sat by his bed and supported his head,
but when the Queen came she retired to her own apartments,
and desired Ken, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, to take the
Duke of Richmond, now thirteen years old, to receive his
father's last blessing. The King, we are told, frequently re-
commended the Duchess of Portsmouth and her son to his
successor, " in terms," says Burnet, " as melting as he could
fetch out."

On the second day of the King's seizure, Barillon found
the Duchess in her apartments overwhelmed with affliction, but
instead of speaking of her own grief or her own affairs, she was
keenly anxious for the state of the King's soul. " Nobody,"


The Real Louise de Keroualle

said she, " tells him of his condition or speaks to him of God ;
the Duke of York thinks only of his affairs. Go to him, I
conjure you, and warn him to think of what can be done to
save the King's soul — lose no time, for if it is deferred it will
be too late; the King is really a Catholic, but he will die with-
out being reconciled to the Church, his bedroom is full of
Protestant clergymen."

Whatever religious tendency King Charles had, there can be
little doubt that it was in the direction of Roman Catholicism.
He imbibed its first principles from his mother Henrietta
Maria, who was a devoted mother and a bigoted Catholic, and
it was the religion of the only two other women whom he had
really loved, his sister and the Duchess of Portsmouth, It was
said that Father John Huddleston^ had brought him some
religious works to read during his concealment at Moseley
Hall after he left Boscobel, and certainly King Charles had given
thought to it at times. Two papers written on the subject in
his own hand, and found after his death in his strong box,
showed signs of study and reasoning. The story is well known
of how, in consequence of the Duchess of Portsmouth's
entreaties, the Duke of York managed to introduce privately
into the royal bedchamber a priest, on ascertaining from his
brother that it was his earnest desire ; that the only available
priest happened to be the same Father Huddleston to whom
we have alluded ; and that King Charles died in the profession
of the Catholic faith.

Lord Chesterfield, who was with him during the last forty-

* Father Huddleston, whose name is for ever associated with King Charles II.,
was the second son of Joseph Huddleston of Faringdon Hall, near Preston. When
the King arrived at Moseley Hall, the house of Mr. Thomas Whitgreave, he was
there acting as tutor to two of Mr. Whitgreave's nephews, Francis Reynolds and
Thomas Paylin, and also to Sir John Preston.


The Real Louise de Keroualle

eight hours of his life, says " he died as a good Christian, praying
often for God's and Christ's mercy ; as a man of great and
undaunted courage and as a good-natured man in a thousand
ways," and " hoped," he said, " that he should climb up to
heaven's gates."

On the morning of Friday, the 6th of February 1685, all
the churches were full, and when the prayer for the King was
read, loud groans and sobs showed how deeply he was loved.
The end came quietly at noon. The Duke of York and Mary
Beatrice were with him to the last, and an eye-witness writes
that the new Queen " was a most passionate mourner, and
thought a crown dearly bought with the loss of such a brother,"
her own words being, '* I was so greatly afflicted for the death
of King Charles that I dared not give free vent to my grief,
lest I should be suspected of hypocrisy. I had loved him very
dearly, and with reason, for he was very amiable, and had
shown me much kindness."

Almost the last words that King Charles said to his brother
were to implore him to look after the Duchess of Portsmouth
and her son ; " I have always loved her," he said, " and I die
loving her." The first visit of condolence which the new King
paid was to her, and he gave her many assurances of his
friendship and protection. The Duchess gave herself up to an
agony of grief, which even Macaulay allows " was not wholly
selfish." She continued to hold her apartments at Whitehall,
but six months after King Charles's death she went to Versailles,
where Louis XIV. received her with great kindness. It is said
that she took over with her a large sum of money besides her
jewels, and she lived at first with considerable splendour. When
not in Paris she occasionally occupied the old family house in
Brest, opposite the ancient church in the rue des Sept Saints,


The Real Louise de Keroualle

then the aristocratic quarter of the town, and the Duchess also
went periodically to her chateau of Keroualle, which she had
had decorated with mythological paintings, some of which still
remain on the ceilings, including a representation of the story
of Andromeda and Perseus — the daughter of Cepheus, chained
to a rock, being the likeness, it is said, of herself !

The Duchess was accompanied when she left England by
her young son, the Duke of Richmond, who was then fourteen
years of age. He had been given by King Charles the appoint-
ment of Master of the Horse, which during his minority was
placed in the hands of three commissioners, Henry Guy, Theo-
philus Oglethorpe, and Charles Adderley. But soon after
King James's accession to the throne, the office was removed
from him, at which the young Duke felt so aggrieved that
he left England in great dudgeon, and soon after he arrived in
France became a naturalised French subject. The French Court
was much pleased with him, and the following lines appeared at

the time : —

" Ce n'est pas ta mine charmante,
Aimable My lord, qui m'enchante,
Mais ton esprit, vif et brillant,
Puise dans le sein de ta mere,
Et qui fait que dans cinquante ans,
Comma aujourd'hui tu sauras plaire."

The Duchess was now most earnestly desirous that her son
should embrace the Roman Catholic religion. For this purpose
she wrote to Louis XIV. as to " les moyens de convertir le
due de Richmond," and the King suggested placing him in
the hands of Bossuet, to whom a letter was sent saying, " Sa
majeste est bien persuade que la conversion de M. le due de
Richmond ne peut estre en meilleurs mains que les vostres,
mais elle croit que ce n'est pas assez de lui donner un


The Real Louise de Keroualle

precepteur catholique et de bonnes moeurs si en mesmes
temps on ne congedie son gouverneur huguenot." All this
was accomplished with the desired result. The ceremony of
the young Duke's reception into the Catholic Church was
very impressive. It took place at Fontainebleau on the 2ist
October 1685, and was conducted by M. de Meaux (Bossuet),
whose splendid oratory on this occasion enthralled all his
hearers. He preached on the gospel of the day, taking for
his text Matthew xxii. 20 and Luke xiv. 25, and melted, it
is said, the Court to tears. Madame la Dauphine was in trans-
ports and spoke of nothing else. " Jamais je n'ai ou'f parler
comme il fait," said she ; " il me fait un plaisir que je ne puis
exprimer, et plus je I'entends plus je I'admire." Twelve years
later, to the great grief of his mother, the Duke of Rich-
mond declared himself a Protestant, his re-conversion to the
Anglican Church taking place in Lambeth Palace on Whit-
sunday, May 15, 1692. The Duke had returned to England
on the accession of William III., and the following year took
his seat in the House of Lords. King William is said to
have taken a great fancy to him. He made him one of his
aides-de-camp, and as such the young Duke saw active service
in Flanders, and was at the battles of Steinkerque and Ner-
winde, where he gave great proofs of valour.

Konigsm.arck writes from the camp at Halle to a friend
as follows : " In a previous letter I told you that there were
very few distinguished-looking men in the train of the King
or the Elector ; but if I had seen the Duke of Richmond (now
in his twenty-first year), son of the Duchess of Portsmouth,
sooner, I should not have said so, for he is the most charming
youth. He unites to perfect manners an air of great distinction;
he is well-made, and has a handsome face and fine eyes."


Chakm:s LiiNNox, First Dlkb of Richmond.

From a Mezzotint at S-walhm'jicld fiy I. Fatcr, after the Fainting by Sir Godfrey h'neller, Fart. (1731).

The Real Louise de Keroualle

Spring Macky describes the Duke ^ some years later as
" a gentleman good-natured to a fault, very well-bred, with
many good things in him, an enemy to business, very credulous,
well-shaped, black complexion, much like King Charles."
Swift calls him " a shallow coxcomb." The Duke's manners,
learnt at the Court of Versailles, were not likely to appeal to
the Dean. Hearne lamented that the Duke of Richmond
was " a man that struck in v/ith everything that was Whiggish
and opposite to true monarchical principles." He certainly
did not approve of his uncle King James's measures, and was
one of those who joined the celebrated association called
the Kit-Cat Club, which pre-eminently laboured for the Pro-
testant succession. His portrait, painted by Kneller, hung over
the chimneypiece at Barn Elms in Surrey, the house of
Jacob Jonson, the secretary, where the club often met.

The Duke married, on the loth January 1693, when he
was only twenty-one, Anne, Lady Belasyse, a widow of twenty.
She was nee Bruce, the daughter of Francis, Lord Brudenell,
son and heir of the Earl of Cardigan (whom he predeceased),
and her first husband was Henry, second Baron Belasyse of
Worlaby. There are several portraits of her at Goodwood
by Kneller and Lely, one of which we give here.

The Duchess of Portsmouth was very friendly with her
daughter-in-law, and we have before us most affectionate letters
that passed between them. The Duchess was sponsor to the
eldest daughter of her son, born in 1694, and called Louise
after her, the christening taking place at St. James's, Piccadilly,
and she lived to see her married to James, Earl of Berkeley,
and become the mother of two children ; but she must have
been rather shocked at her bad manners, for Lady Louise
' " Characters of the Court of Great Britain.'


The Real Louise de Keroualle

appears to have been a wild tomboy ! Swift in his " Journal

to Stella" writes, on the 6th June 171 1, about a practical

joke played on him by her which does not sound dignified

for a married woman, though it is fair to say she was only

sixteen. The Dean writes: "It put me in as perfect a passion

as ever I was in my life at the greatest affront or provocation.

I dined with Lady Betty Germain and there was the young

Earl of Berkeley and his fine lady. I never saw her before

nor think her near so handsome as she passes for. Lady

Berkeley after dinner clapped my hat on another lady's head,

and she in roguery put it upon the rails. I minded them not,

but in two minutes they called me to the window, and Lady

Carteret showed me my hat out of her window five doors

off, where I was forced to walk to it and pay her and old

Lady Weymouth a visit Vv'ith some more bell-dames." This

little hoyden, we conclude, must have sobered down, as in two

years she was appointed Lady-of-the-Bedchamber to Caroline,

Princess of Wales. If her life was a merry one it was of

short duration, for three years later it came to an end,

small-pox carrying her off at the age of twenty-three.

The first Duke of Richmond must have rented Goodwood

from the Compton family before he bought it in 1720, as when

the Grand Duke of Tuscany came on a visit to William III., that

King took him there to stay with the young Duke, and they

hunted together with the Charlton pack of hounds, the first ever

established in this country. Charlton, which is near Goodwood,

was the Melton-Mowbray of the day, and was brought into fashion

by the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth, who hunted there

when staying with Ford, Lord Grey, and these two kept a couple

of packs of foxhounds at Charlton. The writer's grandfather

had a gamekeeper who died in 1 807 aged ninety-four, who had


The Real Louise de Keroualle

heard his grandfather speak of Monmouth and his particular
love for Charlton, the Duke saying to him jestingly that when
he was King he would come and hold his court there ! — so
early were his hopes of the Crown alluded to. A letter still
extant, dated February 17, 1670, from Bishop Carlton to the
Metropolitan, makes apologies for the apparent want of loyalty
shown by the inhabitants of Chichester, who made so much of the
Duke of Monmouth and received him with bonfires and ringing
of bells and finally conveyed him in state to the Cathedral 1

Lord Burlington built a banqueting-hall at Charlton for the
votaries of the chase, which was called Foxhall, from the gilt
fox surmounting a tall flagstaff erected in front of it — a gift
from Henrietta, Duchess of Bolton, Monmouth's daughter, who
was a constant visitor there. The first Duchess of Richmond
with her daughter. Lady Anne Lennox, held evening assemblies
at Foxhall, and at one of them the Duchess of Portsmouth was
present. Soon after the Duchess of Richmond died, and the

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Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 5 of 22)