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toying with his concubines, Portsmouth, Cleveland, and Mazarin, etc., a French boy singing love-songs in that glorious gallery, whilst about twenty of the great courtiers and other dissolute persons were at basset round a large gallery-table, a bank of at least £2,000 in gold before them ; upon which two gentlemen who were with me made reflections with astonishment. Six days after, all was in the dust!"
To Evelyn's narrative it is necessary to add a few details. On the Thursday, when the King's illness was understood. to be mortal, two English bishops presented themselves at his bedside. He said he was sorry for all he had done amiss, accepted absolution from Bishop Ken, but steadily refused the Communion. The Duchess of Portsmouth, whose grief seems to have been sincere, informed the French Ambassador, Barillon, that the King was really a Catholic, and urged him to tell the Duke of York that, if any time were lost, his brother would die out of the pale of the Church. James hastened to ask the King whether he should send for a priest. "For God's sake, brother, do,” said the King, “and lose no time.” But then, considering the possible political consequences, he added: “Will you not expose yourself too much by doing it?” “Sir, though it cost me my life," answered the Duke, “I will bring one to you.” Not without some difficulty he found Father Huddleston, a Benedictine monk, whom he conveyed secretly up a back staircase, disguised by a flowing wig and a large cloak, and introduced into the royal bedchamber, where the Earls of Bath and Feversham were in attendance. Charles, it is said, received the priest with great joy and satisfaction, assuring him of his desire to die in the faith and communion of the Church Catholic; that he was most heartily sorry for the sins of his past life, and particularly for having deferred his conversion so long; that he trusted, nevertheless, in the merits of Christ; that he died in charity with all the world; that he forgave his enemies, and asked forgiveness of those whom he had in any way offended; and, lastly, declaring his resolve, if it pleased God that he should recover, with His assistance to amend his life. He then made confession of his whole life with exceeding tenderness of heart, and pronounced an act of contrition with great piety and compunction. He continued to make pious ejaculations, and frequently lifting up his hands, exclaimed, “Mercy, sweet Jesus, mercy," until the priest was ready to give him extreme unction. Afterwards, he raised himself up to receive the Sacrament, saying: “Let me meet my heavenly Lord in a better posture than lying on my bed.” Having communicated, he remarked to Huddleston, who had assisted him in his escape after the Battle of Worcester, “ You have saved me twice, first my body, and now my soul.”
The Queen sent to ask the dying man's pardon for any offence she might have committed. “ Alas, poor woman!” he said. “She beg my pardon! I beg hers with all my heart.” She had been present during the earlier stages of his illness. With the graceful urbanity that was natural to him, he apologised to his attendants for being so unconscionably long in dying. To the Duke of York he recommended the care of his natural children. He begged him also to be kind to the Duchess of Cleveland, and added, “Take care of Querouaille, and do not let poor Nelly starve."
A minute account of his last hours is given by the Rev. Francis Roper, chaplain to the Bishop of Ely, who was allowed to be present :
“The King showed himself,” he says, “ throughout his illness, one of the best-natured men that ever lived ; and, by abundance of fine things he said in reference to his soul, he showed he died as good a Christian: and the physicians, who have seen so many leave this world, do say they never saw the like as to his courage; so unconcerned he was as to death, though sensible to all degrees imaginable, to the very last. He every now and then would seem to wish for death, and beg the pardon of the standers by, and those that were employed about him, that he gave them so much trouble; that he hoped the work was almost over : he was weary of this world: he had had enough of it, and was going to a better. There was so much affection and tenderness expressed between the two royal brothers, the one upon the bed, the other almost drowned in tears upon his knees, and kissing of his dying brother's hand, as could not but extremely move the standers by. He thanked our present King for having always been the best of brothers and of friends, and begged his pardon for the several risks of fortune he had run on his account. He told him now he had freely left him all, and begged of God to bless him with a prosperous reign. . . . He blessed all his children one by one (except the Duke of Monmouth), pulling them to him on the bed. And then the bishops moved him, as he was the Lord's Anointed, and the father of his country, to bless them also, and all that were there present, and in them the whole body of his subjects. Whereupon, the room being full, all fell down upon their knees, and he raised himself on his bed and very solemnly blessed them all.”
On the morning of his death he asked the hour, and, being told it was six o'clock, “Open the curtains," he said, “that I may once more see day.” His sufferings were very severe, and at half-past eight it was with the utmost difficulty he could speak. As long as the power of speech remained he could be heard uttering the name of God, and begging pardon for his offences. Even when speechless, he showed by lifting up his hands, and by the expression of his countenance, the great thought that occupied his mind.
“He disposed himself to die,” says one authority, “with the piety and unconcernedness becoming a Christian, and the resolution becoming a King.” Bishop Burnet admits that “he went through the agonies of death with a calm and constancy that amazed all who were about him.” And Lord Chesterfield says that “he died as a good Christian, asking and praying often for God's and Christ's mercy; as a man of great and undaunted courage, in never repining at the loss of life, or for that of three kingdoms."
Charles II., when he died, was in the fifty-fifth year of his age, and the twenty-fifth year of his reign.
Samuel Pepys, the author of the well-known Diary, was descended from a younger branch of the ancient family of that name, who, early in the sixteenth century, settled at Cottenham, in Cambridgeshire. His father, John Pepys, was a citizen of London, and followed the trade of a tailor until 1660, when, having inherited from an elder brother a small estate at Brampton, near Huntingdon, he retired thither, and in this rural seclusion ended his days in 1680.
Samuel Pepys was born on the 23rd of February, 1633, either at Brampton or in London. It is certain that he received his early education at Huntingdon, and was thence removed to St. Paul's School. In 1650 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a sizar; but, before the period of academical residence began, was transferred to Magdalene, where, in 1651, he obtained a scholarship on Dr. Smith's foundation. There is no evidence in his later life that he profited to any great extent by the University teaching, while the Registrar's book of the College contains an entry which seems to show that he loved wine and “good company” over-much. On the 21st of October, 1653, Mr. John Wood, Registrar, records “ that Pepys and Hind were solemnly admonished by myself and Mr. Hill for having been scandalously overserved with drink the night before. This was done in the presence of all the Fellows then resident, in Mr. Hill's Chamber." It is to be hoped that the admonition did Mr. Pepys good!
At the age of twenty-three Mr. Pepys fell in love with a beautiful Somersetshire girl, named Elizabeth St. Michel, and, though without occupation or vocation, married her. She was only fifteen, and had no other dowry than her charming face and figure. The penniless but susceptible young couple were generously received into the household of the enamoured bridegroom's cousin, Sir Edward Montague (afterwards Earl of Sandwich), who, throughout his public career, continued to be a firm and liberal friend and patron. Pepys accompanied the gallant seaman on his expedition to the Sound, and, on his return, was appointed, through his kinsman's influence, to a clerkship in the Exchequer. In 1660, as secretary to the two Generals of the Fleet, he went to Scheveling on board Sir Edward's flag-ship to bring home Charles II. At the Restoration, Montague was rewarded