Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

manding influence of Cromwell; who likewise promoted a contribution in behalf of the sufferers throughout the kingdom. The persecution is occasionally mentioned by Mr. Evelyn, but we do not find the slightest allusion any where to the author of their relief. This is unfair,

Our readers will be amused with the following entry. The pious Charles, it seems, suffered not the miraculous endowment of royalty to sleep; for within six weeks after his res, toration,

• His Majestie began first to touch for ye evil, according to costome, thus: his Matie sitting under his State in the Banquetting House, the Chirurgeons cause the sick to be brought or led up to the throne, where they kneeling, ye King strokes their faces or cheekes with both his hands at once, at which instant a Chaplaine in his formalities says, "He put his hands upon them, and he healed them.” This is sayd to every one in particular. When they have ben all touch'd they come up againe in the same order, and the other Chaplaine kneeling, and having Angel gold strung on white ribbon on his arme, delivers them one by one to his Matie, who puts them about the necks of the touched as they passe, whilst the first Chaplaine repeats, “ That is ye true light who came into ye world.” Then followes an Epistle (as at first a Gospell) with the Liturgy, prayers for the sick, with some alter. ation, lastly ye blessing; and then the Lo. Chamberlaine and Comptroller of the Household bring a basin, ewer and towell, for his Matie to wash.'

In another entry, twenty-four years afterward, we find " that there was so great a concourse of people, with their children, to be touched for the evil, that 6 or 7 were crushed to death by pressing at the Chirurgeon's door for tickets.' (Vol.i. p. 571.) That the king should avail himself of the wretched credulity of his subjects to impress them with a belief that he was sent from heaven, and invested with super-human powers, is not very surprising: but it is perfectly unimaginable how men of science should lend themselves to such stupid and impious delusions. Yet we here find that professional men were solicited for tickets of admission; and one of the most eminent surgeons of his day, Richard Wiseman, who attended the King's army during the civil wars, and who wrote a most entertaining and valuable professional work on surgery, has a book “ On the Cure of the Evill by the King's Touch.” The introductory chapter is curious and amusing, Chirurgeon,” says he, “shall find upon trial the contumaciousness of this disease, he will find reason of acknowleging the goodnesse of God, who hath dealt so bountifully with this nation, in giving the kings of it (at least from Edward the Confessor downwards) an extraordinary power in the miraculous cure thereof. This our Chronicles have all along testified; and the personal experience of many thousands now living can witness for his Majesty that now reigneth, &c., having exercised that faculty with wonderful success, not only here, but beyond the seas, in Flanders, Holland, and France itself; the king of this last pretends to a gift of the same kind,” &c. &c.

lous

6 When the young

A controversy existed “ in the days of Malmsburiensis, whether the cure of the evil were a peculiar reward of the King's holiness, or an hereditary faculty of the English crown;" and some apprehension, it seems, was entertained lest it should be taken away “ upon our departure from the Church of Rome.” Since Elizabeth, however, performed the cure, there could be no doubt as to the fact of its continuance. The Catholics did not pretend to deny it, but some one asserted most provokingly that she performed that cure, non virtute propriâ, sed virtute signà crucis.

“ As if the signe of the Cross,” says Wiseman, with all imaginable simplicity, were sufficient to work a miracle ! What would he now say, if he were living and had seen it done by three generations of Kings without the signe of the Cross ? - I myself have been a frequent eye-witness of many hundreds of cures performed by his Majestie's touch alone, and those many of them such as had tired out the endeavours of able chirurgeons before they came thither. It were endless to recite what I myself have seen, and what I have received acknowlegements of by letter, &c.

- It is needless also to remember what miracles of this nature were performed by the very bloud of his late Majesty, of blessed memory, after whose decollation by the inhumane barbarity of the regicides, the reliques of that were gathered on chips and in handkerchicfs by the pious devotees, who could not but think so great a suffering in so honourable and pious a cause would be attended by an extraordinary assistance of God, and some more than ordinary miracle. Nor did their faith deceive them in this point, there being so many hundred that found the benefit of it. If his dead bloud were accompanied with so much virtue, what shall we say of his living image, the inheritor of his cause and kingdom, &c. This we are sure, the miracle is not ceased.”

Wiseman, however, acknowleges that, in this “fantastical age, such is the obstinacy and infidelity of some persons, that, although they cannot avoid the notoriety of experience, they will impute the cures only to the journeys that people take, and change of air; to the effects of imagination; and to the wearing of gold.” At the first and second objections he laughs; a journey to Whitehall could give but little exercise or change of air to the inhabitants of London; and hundreds of infants have been cured, too young “ to imagine any thing of the majesty, or other secret ways of divinity that

attend

attend kings." The third objection, he acknowleges, “ hath more of colour in it, because many that have been touched, have, upon loss of their gold, felt returns of their 'malady which, upon recovery of that, have vanished.” This seems a clencher :- but credulity is as ingenious and as obstinate as infidelity; and the worthy chirurgeon jumps over the difficulty at once :

“ His Majestie's royal father, in his great extremity of poverty had not gold to bestow, but instead of it gave silver, and sometimes nothing, yet in all those cases did cure ; and those that were cured by his bloud wore no gold. Now, whereas upon the loss of gold, some have found damage; I would know whether any of them were relieved by the wearing of any other gold than what the King gave them? This is certain, that many that lost their gold continued sound; and whereas others did not, it may rather be imputed to secret Providence, which would give the persons concerned that obligation of being mindful of their benefactor.” [Wiseman's Surgery, b. iv. chap. 1.]

Charles was crowned on the 23d of April, 1661. Mr. Evelyn, who was present at the ceremony, gives a description of it, (vol. i. 335.) and mentions a remarkable appeal to the people, which was little regarded at the time, probably, but which they remembered, and felt its full value, during the reign of his successor. His Majesty being placed on an elevated throne before the altar, “ the Bishop of London (the Archbishop of Canterbury being sick) went to every side of the throne to present the King to the people, ASKING IF THEY WOULD HAVE HIM FOR THEIR KING AND DO HIM HOMAGE; at this they shouted four times, God save King Charles the Second.”

The years 1665 and 1666 were among the most calamitous that London, not to say England, had ever known: but seasons of calamity quicken the latent virtues into life, and excite them into ten-fold action; and it is delightful to see the sympathizing and fearless activity, at the peril of his life, exhibited by Mr. Evelyn when his duty called him into the midst of pestilence and war. The number of sick, wounded, and prisoners, taken in our engagements at this time with the Dutch fleets, was prodigious; and he was perfectly indefatigable in furnishing these poor wretches with provisions and accommodation, at a time, too, when the plague was raging in London. In his Diary, he says, Sept. 7. 1665,

• Came home, there perishing neere 10,000 poore creatures weekly; however I went all along the Citty and suburbs from Kent Streete to St. James's, a dismal passage, and dangerous to see so many coffines expos'd in the streetes, now thin of people;

the

the shops shut up, and all in mourneful silence, as not knowing whose turn might be the next. I went to ye Duke of Albemarle for a pest-ship, to wait on our infected men, who were not a few.'

· Sept. 11. To London, and went thro' ye whole Citty, having occasion to alight out of the coach in severall places about buisinesse of mony, when I was environ’d with multitudes of poore pestiferous creatures begging almes; the shops universally shut up, a dreadful prospect! I din’d with my Lo. General; was to receive 10,000l. and had guards to convey both myselfe and it, and so returned home, thro' God's infinite mercy.'

In the year following, broke out the great fire in London, of which a minute and frightful account is given. We shall extract a part of it:

• Sept. 2. This fatal night about ten, began that deplorable fire neere Fish Streete in London.

* 3. I had public prayers at home. The fire continuing, after dinner I took coach with my wife and sonn and went to the Bank side in Southwark, where we beheld that dismal spectacle, the whole Citty in dreadfull flames neare the water side; all the houses from the Bridge, all Thames Street, and upwards towards Cheapeside, downe to the Three Cranes, were now consum'd: and so returned exceedinge astonished what would become of the rest.

• The fire having continu'd all this night (if I may call that night which was light as day for 10 miles round about, after a dreadfull manner) when conspiring with a fierce eastern wind in a very drie season; I went on foote to the same place, and saw ye whole south part of ye Citty burning from Cheapeside to ye Thames, and all along Cornehill (for it likewise kindl’d back against ye wind as well as forward), Tower Streete, Fen-church Streete, Gracious Streete, and so along to Bainard's Castle, and was now taking hold of St. Paule's Church, to which the scaffolds contributed exceedingly. The conflagration was so universal, and the people so astonish'd, that from the beginning, I know not by what despondency or fate, they hardly stirr'd to quench it, so that there was nothing heard or seene but crying out and lamentation, running about like distracted creatures, without at all attempting to save even their goods; such a strange consternation there was upon them, so as it burned both in breadth and length, the Churches, Publiq Halls, Exchange, Hospitals, Monuments, and ornaments, leaping after a prodigious nianner from house to house and streete to streete, at greate distances one from ye other; for ye beate with a long set of faire and warme weather had even ignited the aire and prepar'd the materials to conceive the fire, which devour'd after an incredible manner, houses, furniture, and every thing. Here we saw the Thames cover'd with goods floating, all the barges and boates laden with what some had time and courage to save, as, on ye other, ye carts, &c. carrying out to the fields, which for many miles were strew'd with moveables of all

sorts,

[ocr errors]

sorts, and tents erecting to shelter both people and what goods they could get away. Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle! such as happly the world had not seene the like since the foundation of it, nor be outdon till the universal conflagration of it. All the skie was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, and the light seene above 40 miles round about for many nights. God grant mine.eyes may never behold the like, who now saw above 10,000 houses all in one flame; the noise and cracking and thunder of the impetuous flames, ye shreiking of women and children, the hurry of people, the fall of Towers, Houses and Churches, was like an hideous storme, and the aire all about so hot and inflam’d that at the last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forc'd to stand still and let ye flames burn on, which they did for neere two miles in length and one in bredth. The clowds also of smoke were dismall, and reach'd upon computation neer 50 miles in length. Thus I left it this afternoone burning, a resemblance of Sodom, or the last day. It forcibly call'd to my mind that passage - non enim hic habemus stabilem civitatem : the ruines resembling the picture of Troy. London was, but is no more! Thus I returned.

4. The burning still rages, and it was now gotten as far as the Inner Temple; all Fleet Streete, the Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill, Warwick Lane, Newgate, Paules Chaine, Watling Streete, now Aaming, and most of it reduc'd to ashes ; the stones of Paules flew like granados, ye mealting lead running downe the streetes in a streame, and the very pavements glowing with fiery rednesse, so as no horse nor man was able to tread on them, and the demolition had stopp'd all the passages, so that no help could be applied. The eastern wind still more impetuously driving the flames forward. Nothing but ye Almighty power of God was able to stop them, for vaine was ye help of man.'

The state of the inhabitants was piteous beyond all description : those who walked about the ruins, when the conflagration had abated, appeared like men in some dismal desert, or city laid waste by an enemy; to which was added the stench that came from some poor creatures' bodies, beds, and combustible goods. The bye-lanes and narrower streets, says Mr. Evelyn, were quite filled up with rubbish, and no person could have possibly known where he was, but by the ruins of some church or hall that had a remarkable tower or pinnacle remaining. I went towards Islington and Highgate, where one might have seene 200,000 people of all ranks and degrees, dispersed and lying along by their heapes of what they could save from the fire, deploring their losse, and tho'ready 'to perish for hunger and destitution, yet not asking one penny for reliefe, which appeared to me a stranger sight' than any I had yet beheld.' To add even to this dreadful calamity and confusion, an alarm was spread that the Dutch and French were not only landed, but were actually

entering

« ZurückWeiter »