O UR Prince Charles now becomes, by the death of his father, King Charles the Second, both of England and of Scotland. That is, he becomes so in theory, according to the principles of the English Constitution, though, in fact, he is a fugitive and an exile still. Notwithstanding his exclusion, however, from the exercise of what he considered his right to reign, he was acknowledged as king by all true Royalists in England, and by all the continental powers. They would not aid him to recover his throne, but in the courts and royal palaces which he visited he was regarded as a king, and was treated, in form at least, with all the consideration and honor which belonged to royalty.
Queen Henrietta was overwhelmed with grief and despair when she learned the dreadful tidings of the execution of her husband. At the time when these tidings came to her, she was involved, also, in many other sufferings and trials. As was intimated in the last chapter, serious difficulties had occurred between the royal family of France and the government and people of the city of Paris, from which a sort of insurrection had resulted, and the young king and his mother, together with all the principal personages of the court, had been compelled to fly from the city, in the night, to save their lives. They went in a train of twenty or thirty carriages, by torch light, having kept their plan a profound secret until the moment of their departure. The young king was asleep in his bed until the time arrived, when they took him up and put him into the carriage. Anne Maria, whose rank and wealth gave her a great deal of influence and power, took sides, in some degree, with the Parisians in this contest, so that her aunt, the queen regent, considered her as an enemy rather than a friend. She, however, took her with them in their flight; but Anne Maria, being very much out of humor, did all she could to tease and torment the party all the way. When they awoke her and informed her of their proposed escape from Paris, she was, as she says in her memoirs, very much delighted, for she knew that the movement was very unwise, and would get her aunt, the queen regent, and all their friends, into serious difficulties.
She dressed herself as quick as she could, came down stairs, and proceeded to enter the queen regent's coach, saying that she wanted to have one or the other of certain seats—naming the best places—as she had no idea, she said, of being exposed to cold, or riding uncomfortably on such a night. The queen told her that those seats were for herself and another lady of high rank who was with her, to which Anne Maria replied, "Oh, very well; I suppose young ladies ought to give up to old people."
Evasion of Louis XIV.
In the course of conversation, as they were preparing to ride away, the queen asked Anne Maria if she was not surprised at being called up to go on such an expedition. "Oh no," said she; "my father" (that is, Gaston, the duke of Orleans) "told me all about it beforehand." This was not true, as she says herself in her own account of these transactions. She knew nothing about the plan until she was called from her bed. She said this, therefore, only to tease her aunt by the false pretension that the secret had been confided to her. Her aunt, however, did not believe her, and said, "Then why did you go to bed, if you knew what was going on?" "Oh," replied Anne Maria, "I thought it would be a good plan to get some sleep, as I did not know whether I should even have a bed to lie upon to-morrow night."
The party of fugitives exhibited a scene of great terror and confusion, as they were assembling and crowding into their carriages, before they left the court of the Palais Royal. It was past midnight, in the month of January, and there was no moon. Called up suddenly as they were from their beds, and frightened with imaginary dangers, they all pressed forward, eager to go; and so hurried was their departure, that they took with them very scanty supplies, even for their most ordinary wants. At length they drove away. They passed rapidly out of the city. They proceeded to an ancient palace and castle called St. Germain's, about ten miles northeast of Paris. Anne Maria amused herself with the fears, and difficulties, and privations which the others suffered, and she gives an account of the first night they spent in the place of their retreat, which, as it illustrates her temperament and character, the reader will like, perhaps, to see.
"I slept in a very handsome room, well painted, well gilded, and large, with very little fire, and no windows, which is not very agreeable in the month of January. I slept on mattresses, which were laid upon the floor, and my sister, who had no bed, slept with me. I was obliged to sing to get her to sleep, and then her slumber did not last long, so that she disturbed mine. She tossed about, felt me near her, woke up, and exclaimed that she saw the beast, so I was obliged to sing again to put her to sleep, and in that way I passed the night. Judge whether this was an agreeable situation for one who had had little or no sleep the night before, and who had been ill all winter with colds. However, the fatigue and exposure of this expedition cured me.
"In a short time my father gave me his room, but as nobody knew I was there, I was awoke in the night by a noise. I drew back my curtain, and was astonished to find my chamber filled with men in large buff skin collars, and who appeared surprised to see me, and knew me as little as I did them. I had no change of linen, and when I wanted any thing washed, it was done in the night, while I was in bed. I had no women to arrange my hair and dress me, which is very inconvenient. Still I did not lose my gayety, and they were in admiration at my making no complaint; and it is true that I am a creature that can make the most of every thing, and am greatly above trifles."
To feel any commiseration for this young lady, on account of the alarm which she may be supposed to have experienced at seeing all those strange men in her chamber, would be sympathy thrown away, for her nerves were not of a sensibility to be affected much by such a circumstance as that. In fact, as the difficulties between the young king's government and the Parisians increased, Anne Maria played quite the part of a heroine. She went back and forth to Paris in her carriage, through the mob, when nobody else dared to go. She sometimes headed troops, and escorted ladies and gentlemen when they were afraid to go alone. Once she relieved a town, and once she took the command of the cannon of the Bastille, and issued her orders to fire with it upon the troops, with a composure which would have done honor to any veteran officer of artillery. We can not go into all these things here in detail, as they would lead us too far away from the subject of this narrative. We only allude to them, to give our readers some distinct idea of the temperament and character of the rich and blooming beauty whom young King Charles was wishing so ardently to make his bride.
During the time that these difficulties continued in Paris, Queen Henrietta's situation was extremely unhappy. She was shut up in the palace of the Louvre, which became now her prison rather than her home. She was separated from the royal family; her son, the king, was generally absent in Holland or in Jersey, and her palace was often surrounded by mobs; whenever she ventured out in her carriage, she was threatened with violence and outrage by the populace in such a manner as to make her retreat as soon as possible to the protection of the palace walls. Her pecuniary means, too, were exhausted. She sold her jewels, from time to time, as long as they lasted, and then contracted debts which her creditors were continually pressing her to pay. Her friends at St. Germain's could not help her otherwise than by asking her to come to them. This she at last concluded to do, and she made her escape from Paris, under the escort of Anne Maria, who came to the city for the purpose of conducting her, and who succeeded, though with infinite difficulty, in securing a safe passage for Henrietta through the crowds of creditors and political foes who threatened to prevent her journey. These troubles were all, however, at last settled, and in the autumn (1649) the whole party returned again to Paris.
In the mean time the young King Charles was contriving schemes for getting possession of his realm. It will be recollected that his sister Mary, who married the Prince of Orange, was at this time residing at the Hague, a city in Holland, near the sea. Charles went often there. It was a sort of rendezvous for those who had been obliged to leave England on account of their attachment to his father's fortunes, and who, now that the father was dead, transferred their loyalty to the son. They felt a very strong desire that Charles's plans for getting possession of his kingdom should succeed, and they were willing to do every thing in their power to promote his success. It must not be supposed, however, that they were governed in this by a disinterested principle of fidelity to Charles himself personally, or to the justice of his cause. Their own re-establishment in wealth and power was at stake as well as his, and they were ready to make common cause with him, knowing that they could save themselves from ruin only by reinstating him.
Charles had his privy council and a sort of court at the Hague, and he arranged channels of communication, centering there, for collecting intelligence from England and Scotland, and through these he watched in every way for the opening of an opportunity to assert his rights to the British crown. He went, too, to Jersey, where the authorities and the inhabitants were on his side, and both there and at the Hague he busied himself with plans for raising funds and levying troops, and securing co-operation from those of the people of England who still remained loyal. Ireland was generally in his favor too, and he seriously meditated an expedition there. His mother was unwilling to have him engage in these schemes. She was afraid he would, sooner or later, involve himself in dangers from which he could not extricate himself, and that he would end by being plunged into the same pit of destruction that had engulfed his father.
Amid all these political schemes, however, Charles did not forget Anne Maria. He was eager to secure her for his bride; for her fortune, and the power and influence of her connections, would aid him very much in recovering his throne. Her hope of marrying the Emperor of Germany, too, was gone, for that potentate had chosen another wife. Charles therefore continued his attentions to the young lady. She would not give him any distinct and decisive answer, but kept the subject in a state of perpetual negotiation. She was, in fact, growing more and more discontented and unhappy in disposition all the time. Her favorite plan of marrying the emperor had been thwarted, in part, by the difficulties which her friends—her father and her aunt especially—had contrived secretly to throw in the way, while outwardly and ostensibly they appeared to be doing all in their power to promote her wishes. They did not wish to have her married at all, as by this event the management of her vast fortune would pass out of their hands. She discovered this, their double dealing, when it was too late, and she was overwhelmed with vexation and chagrin.
Things being in this state, Charles sent a special messenger, at one time, from the Hague, with instructions to make a formal proposal to Anne Maria, and to see if he could not bring the affair to a close. The name of this messenger was Lord Germain.
The queen regent and her father urged Anne Maria now to consent to the proposal. They told her that Charles's prospects were brightening—that they themselves were going to render him powerful protection—that he had already acquired several allies—that there were whole provinces in England that were in his favor; and that all Ireland, which was, as it were, a kingdom in itself, was on his side. Whether they seriously desired that Anne Maria would consent to Charles's proposals, or only urged, for effect, what they knew very well she would persist in refusing, it is impossible to ascertain. If this latter were their design, it seemed likely to fail, for Anne Maria appeared to yield. She was sorry, she said, that the situation of affairs in Paris was not such as to allow of the French government giving Charles effectual help in gaining possession of the throne; but still, notwithstanding that, she was ready to do what ever they might think best to command.
Lord Germain then said that he should proceed directly to Holland and escort Charles to France, and he wanted Anne Maria to give him a direct and positive reply; for if she would really accept his proposal, he would come at once to court and claim her as his bride; otherwise he must proceed to Ireland, for the state of his affairs demanded his presence there. But if she would accept his proposal, he would immediately come to Paris, and have the marriage ceremony performed, and then he would remain afterward some days with her, that she might enjoy the honors and distinctions to which she would become entitled as the queen consort of a mighty realm. He would then, if she liked the plan, take her to Saint Germain's, where his mother, her aunt, was then residing, and establish her there while he was recovering his kingdom; or, if she preferred it, she might take up her residence in Paris, where she had been accustomed to live.
To this the young lady replied that the last mentioned plan, that is, that she should continue to live at Paris after being married to Charles, was one that she could not think of. She should feel altogether unwilling to remain and enjoy the gayeties and festivities of Paris while her husband was at the head of his armies, exposed to all the dangers and privations of a camp; nor should she consider it right to go on incurring the expenses which a lady of her rank and position must necessarily bear in such a city, while he was perhaps embarrassed and distressed with the difficulties of providing funds for his own and his followers' necessities. She should feel, in fact, bound, if she were to become his wife, to do all in her power to assist him; and it would end, she foresaw, in her having to dispose of all her property, and expend the avails in aiding him to recover his kingdom. This, she said, she confessed alarmed her. It was a great sacrifice for her to make, reared as she had been in opulence and luxury.
Lord Germain replied that all this was doubtless true, but then, on the other hand, he would venture to remind her that there was no other suitable match for her in Europe. He then went on to name the principal personages. The Emperor of Germany and the King of Spain were both married. Some other monarch was just about to espouse a Spanish princess. Others whom he named were too young; others, again, too old; and a certain prince whom he mentioned had been married, he said, these ten years, and his wife was in excellent health, so that every species of hope seemed to be cut off in that quarter.
This conversation leading to no decisive result, Lord Germain renewed the subject after a few days, and pressed Anne Maria for a final answer. She said, now, that she had a very high regard for Queen Henrietta, and, indeed, a very strong affection for her; so strong that she should be willing to waive, for Henrietta's sake, all her objections to the disadvantages of Charles's position; but there was one objection which she felt that she could not surmount, and that was his religion. He was a Protestant, while she was a Catholic. Charles must remove this difficulty himself, which, if he had any regard for her, he certainly would be willing to do, since she would have to make so many sacrifices for him. Lord Germain, however, immediately discouraged this idea. He said that the position of Charles in respect to his kingdom was such as to render it impossible for him to change his religious faith. In fact, if he were to do so, he would be compelled to give up, at once, all hope of ever getting possession of his throne. Anne Maria knew this very well. The plea, however, made an excellent excuse to defend herself with from Lord Germain's importunities. She adhered to it, therefore, pertinaciously; the negotiation was broken off, and Lord Germain went away.
Young adventurers like Charles, who wish to marry great heiresses, have always to exercise a great deal of patience, and to submit to a great many postponements and delays, even though they are successful in the end; and sovereign princes are not excepted, any more than other men, from this necessity. Dependent as woman is during all the earlier and all the later years of her life, and subjected as she is to the control, and too often, alas! to the caprice and injustice of man, there is a period—brief, it is true—when she is herself in power; and such characters as Anne Maria like to exercise their authority, while they feel that they possess it, with a pretty high hand. Charles seems to have felt the necessity of submitting to the inconvenience of Anne Maria's capricious delays, and, as long as she only continued to make excuses and objections instead of giving him a direct and positive refusal, he was led to persevere. Accordingly, not long after the conversations which his messenger had held with the lady as already described, he determined to come himself to France, and see if he could not accomplish something by his own personal exertions. He accordingly advanced to Péronne, which was not far from the frontier, and sent forward a courier to announce his approach. The royal family concluded to go out in their carriages to meet him. They were at this time at a famous royal resort a few leagues from Paris, called Compiegne. Charles was to dine at Compiegne, and then to proceed on toward Paris, where he had business to transact connected with his political plans.
Anne Maria gives a minute account of the ride of the royal family to meet Charles on his approach to Compiegne, and of the interview with him, on her part, which attended it. She dressed herself in the morning, she says, with great care, and had her hair curled, which she seldom did except on very special occasions. When she entered the carriage to go out to meet the king, the queen regent, observing her appearance, said archly, "How easy it is to tell when young ladies expect to meet their lovers." Anne Maria says that she had a great mind to tell her, in reply, that it was easy, for those who had had a great deal of experience in preparing to meet lovers themselves. She did not, however, say this, and the forbearance seems to show that there was, after all, the latent element of discretion and respect for superiors in her character, though it showed itself so seldom in action.
They rode out several miles to meet the coming king; and when the two parties met, they all alighted, and saluted each other by the road side, the ladies and gentlemen that accompanied them standing around. Anne Maria noticed that Charles addressed the king and queen regent first, and then her. After a short delay they got into their carriages again—King Charles entering the carriage with their majesties and Anne Maria—and they rode together thus back to Compiegne.
Anne Maria, however, does not seem to have been in a mood to be pleased. She says that Charles began to talk with the king—Louis XIV.—who was now twelve years old, about the dogs and horses, and the hunting customs in the country of the Prince of Orange. He talked on these subjects fluently enough in the French language, but when afterward the queen regent, who would naturally be interested in a different class of topics, asked him about the affairs of his own kingdom and his plans for recovering it, he excused himself by saying that he did not speak French well enough to give her the information. Anne Maria says she determined from that moment not to conclude the marriage, "for I conceived a very poor opinion of him, being a king, and at his age, to have no knowledge of his affairs." Such minds as Anne Maria's are seldom very logical; but such an inference as this, that he was ignorant of his own affairs because he declined explaining plans whose success depended on secrecy in such a company as that, and in a language with which, though he could talk about dogs and horses in it, he was still very imperfectly acquainted, is far too great a jump from premises to conclusion to be honestly made. It is very evident that Anne Maria was not disposed to be pleased.
They arrived at Compiegne. As the king was going on that evening, dinner was served soon after they arrived. Anne Maria says he ate no ortolans, a very expensive and rare dish of little birds, which had been prepared expressly for this dinner in honor of the royal guest, "but flung himself upon a piece of beef and a shoulder of mutton, as if there had been nothing else at table. After dinner, when we were in the drawing room, the queen amused herself with the other ladies and gentlemen, and left him with me. He was a quarter of an hour without speaking a word; but I am willing to believe that his silence was the result of respect rather than any want of passion, though on this occasion, I frankly confess, I could have wished it less plainly exhibited. After a while, getting tired of his tediousness, I called another lady to my side, to see if she could not make him talk. She succeeded. Presently one of the gentlemen of the party came to me and said, He kept looking at you all dinner time, and is looking at you still. To which I replied, He has plenty of time to look at me before he will please me, if he does not speak. The gentleman rejoined, Oh, he has said tender things enough to you, no doubt, only you don't like to admit it. To which I answered, Come and seat yourself by me the next time he is at my side, and hear for yourself how he talks about it." She says she then went and addressed the king herself, asking him various questions about persons who were in his suite, and that he answered them all with an air of mere common politeness, without any gallantry at all.
Finally, the hour for the departure of Charles and his party arrived, and the carriages came to the door. The French king, together with his mother and Anne Maria, and the usual attendants, accompanied them some miles into the forest on their way, and then, all alighting, as they had done when they met in the morning, they took leave of each other with the usual ceremonies of such occasions. Charles, after bidding King Louis farewell, advanced with Lord Germain, who was present in his suite at that time, to Anne Maria, and she gives the following rather petulant account of what passed: "'I believe,' said Charles, 'that my Lord Germain, who speaks French better than I do, has explained to you my sentiments and my intention. I am your very obedient servant.' I answered that I was equally his obedient servant. Germain paid me a great number of compliments, the king standing by. After they were over, the king bowed and departed."
Charles, who had been all his life living roughly in camps, felt naturally ill at ease in the brilliant scenes of ceremony and splendor which the French court presented; and this embarrassment was greatly increased by the haughty air and manner, and the ill-concealed raillery of the lady whose favorable regard he was so anxious to secure. His imperfect knowledge of the language, and his sense of the gloomy uncertainty of his own prospects in life, tended strongly to increase his distrust of himself and his timidity. We should have wished that he could have experienced somewhat kinder treatment from the object of his regard, were it not that his character, and especially his subsequent history, show that he was entirely mercenary and selfish himself in seeking her hand. If we can ever, in any instance, pardon the caprice and wanton cruelty of a coquette, it is when these qualities are exercised in thwarting the designs of a heartless speculator, who is endeavoring to fill his coffers with money by offering in exchange for it a mere worthless counterfeit of love.
Charles seems to have been totally discouraged by the result of this unfortunate dinner party at Compiegne. He went to Paris, and from Paris he went to St. Germain's, where he remained for several months with his mother, revolving in his mind his fallen fortunes, and forming almost hopeless schemes for seeking to restore them. In the mean time, the wife whom the Emperor of Germany had married instead of Anne Maria, died, and the young belle sprang immediately into the excitement of a new hope of attaining the great object of her ambition after all. The emperor was fifty years of age, and had four children, but he was the Emperor of Germany, and that made amends for all. Anne Maria immediately began to lay her trains again for becoming his bride. What her plans were, and how they succeeded, we shall, perhaps, have occasion hereafter to describe.
Though her heart was thus set upon having the emperor for her husband, she did not like, in the mean time, quite to give up her younger and more agreeable beau. Besides, her plans of marrying the emperor might fail, and Charles might succeed in recovering his kingdom. It was best, therefore, not to bring the negotiation with him to too absolute a close. When the time arrived, therefore, for Charles to take his departure, she thought she would just ride out to St. Germain's and pay her respects to Queen Henrietta, and bid the young king good-by.
Neither Queen Henrietta nor her son attempted to renew the negotiation of his suite on the occasion of this visit. The queen told Anne Maria, on the other hand, that she supposed she ought to congratulate her on the death of the Empress of Germany, for, though the negotiation for her marriage with him had failed on a former occasion, she had no doubt it would be resumed now, and would be successful. Anne Maria replied, with an air of indifference, that she did not know or think any thing about it. The queen then said that she knew of a young man, not very far from them, who thought that a king of nineteen years of age was better for a husband than a man of fifty, a widower with four children, even if he was an emperor. "However," said she, "we do not know what turn things may take. My son may succeed in recovering his kingdom, and then, perhaps, if you should be in a situation to do so, you may listen more favorably to his addresses."
Anne Maria was not to return directly back to Paris. She was going to visit her sisters, who lived at a little distance beyond. The Duke of York, that is, Henrietta's son James, then fourteen or fifteen years old, proposed to accompany her. She consented. Charles then proposed to go too. Anne Maria objected to this, saying that it was not quite proper. She had no objection to James's going, as he was a mere youth. Queen Henrietta removed her objection by offering to join the party herself; so they all went together. Anne Maria says that Charles treated her with great politeness and attention all the way, and paid her many compliments, but made no attempt to bring up again, in any way, the question of his suit. She was very glad he did not, she says, for her mind being now occupied with the plan of marrying the emperor, nothing that he could have said would have done any good.
Thus the question was considered as virtually settled, and King Charles, soon after, turned his thoughts toward executing the plans which he had been long revolving for the recovery of his kingdom.