Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

narch his passion for Julia, and to implore him to give any information in his power as to the place to which she had been conducted. To select an opportunity for this hazardous inquiry was no easy task, for Lady Castlemaine had caused him to be excluded from the private parties of the King, although his official situation under her Majesty authorised his presence at all the public entertainments of the Court. Against individual audiences, formally requested, Charles had long set his face, for fear of an assault, as he termed every remonstrance touching his present conduct, or any appeal to his former promises : and Jocelyn had therefore no alternative but to address him at some of the Court festivals. The first gala that had been given since the Fire was already announced, and as his Majesty had really exerted himself with an unusual energy upon that occasion, by going in his barge to the Tower to order the blowing up of the houses about the Graff, and subsequently on horseback towards the city, as we

.

[ocr errors]

have already shown; his courtiers and the ministers of his pleasures determined to show their sense of his merits by enlivening the announced entertainment with an extraordinary festivity. True, it was a strange season to choose when the city had just suffered so heavy a judgment; when, in addition to the numbers of the middling classes who had been suddenly reduced to beggary, it was calculated that above two hundred thousand of the poorer sort were scattered about the suburbs, sleeping under tents, or beneath the open sky, on the point of perishing from hunger and utter destitution; but the Court of Charles the Second was never squeamish when an outrage could be offered to every feeling of commiseration or decency, and the preparations accordingly continued, as if there was a signal triumph to celebrate, instead of so dreadful a calamity to deplore.

To do all honour to the occasion, his Majesty resolved to appear for the first time in the new dress which he meant to introduce at court, and

accordingly, having discarded the doublet and stiff collar, bands and cloak, he invested himself solemnly with his Persian attire, being a long richly embroidered cassock of black cloth, pinked with white silk under it, brought close to the body, with a girdle set with precious stones, and a handsome tunick over the whole. The legs were ruffled with black ribbon, and jewelled buckles at the knee and foot were substituted for garters and shoe-strings, the tout ensemble forming a very rich, manly, and becoming garment, which several of the great courtiers had already adopted in compliance with his Majesty's wishes.

The place of entertainment was the Court theatre, where, after some exquisite Italian singing by two eunuchs and a woman, there was a grand masque and ball, in which the King and Queen, with all their distinguished visitants, performed various graceful dances in slow movement; the splendour of their dresses, the sweetness of the music, which consisted entirely of

wind instruments, and the brilliant decorations of the saloon, constituting altogether a scene of rare elegance, combined with unrivalled magnificence. The King having resumed his seat after the dancing, and being at that moment surrounded by only a few of his more intimate associates, Jocelyn considered it a favourable opportunity for his purpose ; and imploring his Majesty's pardon for the liberty, which he attributed to a deep attachment for the lady in question, he humbly stated the information he required.

6 Gadzooks! that is very true,” cried the King, choosing to misunderstand the object of his solicitation—“I remember you were to have fifty pieces for preventing a wench from singeing her petticoats ; my treasurer shall

pay

them to you.”

“I beg to assure your Majesty,” said Jocelyn, “ that I was not influenced by any hope of reward, nor do I claim it: but, if your Majesty would condescend to inform me where--"

“ Tush! Sir,” cried Charles, interrupting him_" must the King be answerable for every pretty Perdita that chooses to jilt her lover ?"

“ Your Majesty may perhaps have forgotten,” continued Jocelyn,

66 that the

person

who accompanied the lady in the carriage received instructions”

“ Enough, Sir, enough !" interposed Charles, with a stern look, and at the same time slightly colouring—“ I am not to be questioned as to what orders I may give, nor do I recollect that the Queen's private Secretary is of his Majesty's Privy Council.” , Turning his back upon Jo celyn after this pointed rebuff, he exclaimed to the Duke of Buckingham—“ What say you, George, to this white pinking of the vest ? methinks 'twere better without it: and this black ruffling of the leg, as if it were a pigeon's, shall we discard it for a peach-coloured silk stocking ? Pronounce, my urbiter elegantiarum, my monarch of the mode, for in foppery and frippery I acknowledge thee to be infallible.”

« ZurückWeiter »