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February, 1685, in the 36th year of his reign, and 54th of
his age.

Prayers were solemnly made in all the churches, espe-
cially in both the Court Chapels, where the chaplains
relieved one another every half quarter of an hour from
the time he began to be in danger till he expired, ac-
cording to the form prescribed in the Church offices.
Those who assisted his Majesty's devotions were, the
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London, Dur-
ham, and Ely, but more especially Dr. Ken, the Bishop
of Bath and Wells.* It is said they exceedingly urged

*The account given of this by Charles's brother and successor, is,
that when the King's life was wholly despaired of, and it was time



2o6 DIARY OF London

the receiving Holy Sacrament, but his Majesty told them
he would consider of it, which he did so long till it was
too late. Others whispered that the Bishops and Lords,
except the Earls of Bath and Feversham, being ordered
to withdraw the night before, Huddleston, the priest,
had presumed to administer the Popish offices. He gave
his breeches and keys to the Duke who was almost con-
tinually kneeling by his bedside, and in tears. He also
recommended to him the care of his natural children, all
except the Duke of Monmouth, now in Holland, and in
his displeasure. He entreated the Queen to pardon him
( not without cause) ; who a little before had sent a Bishop
to excuse her not more frequently visiting him, in regard
of her excessive grief, and withal that his Majesty would
forgive it if at any time she had offended him. He spoke
to the Duke to be kind to the Duchess of Cleveland,
and especially Portsmouth, and that Nelly might not
starve.

Thus died King Charles H., of a vigorous and robust
constitution, and in all appearance promising a long life.
He was a prince of many virtues, and many great imper-

to prepare for another world, two Bishops came to do their function,
who reading the prayers appointed in the Common Praj^er Book on
that occasion, when they came to the place where usually they exhort
a sick person to make a confession of his sins, the Bishop of Bath
and Wells, who was one of them, advertised him, it was not of ob-
ligation; and after a short exhortation, asked him if he was sorry
for his sins ? which the King saying he was, the Bishop pronounced
the absolution, and then, asked him if he pleased to receive the
Sacrament ? to which the King made no reply ; and being pressed by
the Bishop several times, gave no other answer but that it was time
enough, or that he would think of it.

King James adds, that he stood all the while hv the bedside, and
seeing the King would not receive the Sacrament from them, and
knowing his sentiments, he desired the company to stand a little
from the bed, and then asked the King whether he should send for a
priest, to which the King replied: "For God's sake, brother, do, and
lose no time.» The Duke said he would bring one to him; but none
could be found except Father Huddleston, who had been so assistant
in the King's escape from Worcester; he was brought up a back
staircase, and the company were desired to withdraw, but he (the
Duke of York) not thinking fit that he should be left alone vrith the
King, desired the Earl of Bath, a Lord of the Bedchamber, and the
Earl of Feversham, Captain of the Guard, should stay; the rest being
gone. Father Huddleston was introduced, and administered the Sacra-
ment. — « Lif e of James II. »



i685 JOHN EVELYN 207

fections; debonair, easy of access, not bloody nor cruel;
his countenance fierce, his voice great, proper of person,
every motion became him ; a lover of the sea, and skillful
in shipping; not affecting other studies, yet he had a
laboratory, and knew of many empirical medicines, and
the easier mechanical mathematics; he loved planting and
building, and brought in a politer way of living, which
passed to luxury and intolerable expense. He had a
particular talent in telling a story, and facetious pas-
sages, of which he had innumerable; this made some
buffoons and vicious wretches too presumptuous and
familiar, not worthy the favor they abused. He took
delight in having a number of little spaniels follow him
and lie in his bedchamber, where he often suffered the
bitches to puppy and give suck, which rendered it very
offensive, and indeed made the whole court nasty and
stinking. He would doubtless have been an excellent
prince, had he been less addicted to women, who made
him uneasy, and always in want to supply their unmeas-
urable profusion, to the detriment of many indigent per-
sons who had signally served both him and his father.
He frequently and easily changed favorites to his great
prejudice.

As to other public transactions, and unhappy miscar-
riages, 'tis not here I intend to number them; but cer-
tainly never had King more glorious opportunities to
have made himself, his people, and all Europe happy, and
prevented innumerable mischiefs, had not his too easy
nature resigned him to be managed by crafty men, and
some abandoned and profane wretches who corrupted his
otherwise sufficient parts, disciplined as he had been by
many afflictions during his banishment, which gave him
much experience and knowledge of men and things; but
those wicked creatures took him from off all application
becoming so great a King. The history of his reign
will certainly be the most wonderful for the variety of
matter and accidents, above any extant in former ages:
the sad tragical death of his father, his banishment and
hardships, his miraculous restoration, conspiracies against
him, parliaments, wars, plagues, fires, comets, revolutions
abroad happening in his time, with a thousand other par-
ticulars. He was ever kind to me, and very gracious
upon all occasions, and therefore I cannot without ingrati-



2o8 DIARY OF London

tude but deplore his loss, which for many respects, as
well as duty, I do with all my soul.

His Majesty being dead, the Duke, now King James
II , went immediately to Council, and before entering
into any business, passionately declaring his sorrow,
told their Lordships, that since the succession had fallen
to him, he would endeavor to follow the example of his
predecessor in his clemency and tenderness to his people ;
that, however he had been misrepresented as affecting
arbitrary power, they should find the contrary ; for that the
laws of England had made the King as great a monarch
as tie could desire; that he would endeavor to maintain
the Government both in Church and State, as by law es-
tablished, its principles being so firm for monarchy, and
the members of it showing themselves so good and loyal
subjects ; * and that, as he would never depart from the
just rights and prerogatives of the Crown, so he would
never invade any man's property, but as he had often
adventured his life in defense of the nation, so he would
still proceed, and preserve it in all its lawful rights and
liberties.

* This is the substance (and very nearly the words employed) of what
is stated by King James II. in the MS. printed in his life; but in that
MS. are some words which Evelyn has omitted. For example, after
speaking of the members of the Church of England as good and loyal
subjects, the King adds,



Online LibraryMichael DraytonUniversal classics library (Volume 10) → online text (page 20 of 34)