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Secret History Of Charles The First, And His Queen Henrietta
by [?]

And, indeed, when the awful events she had witnessed were one by one registered in her melancholy mind, the sensibility of the woman subdued the natural haughtiness of her character; but, true woman! the feeling creature of circumstances, at the Restoration she resumed it, and when the new court of Charles the Second would not endure her obsolete haughtiness, the dowager-queen left it in all the full bitterness of her spirit. An habitual gloom, and the meagreness of grief, during the commonwealth, had changed a countenance once the most lively; and her eyes, whose dark and dazzling lustre was ever celebrated, then only shone in tears. When she told her physician, Sir Theodore Mayerne, that she found her understanding was failing her, and seemed terrified lest it was approaching to madness, the court physician, hardly courtly to fallen majesty, replied, “Madam, fear not that; for you are already mad.” Henrietta had lived to contemplate the awful changes of her reign, without comprehending them.

Waller, in the profusion of poetical decoration, makes Henrietta so beautiful, that her beauty would affect every lover “more than his private loves.” She was “the whole world’s mistress.” A portrait in crayons of Henrietta at Hampton-court sadly reduces all his poetry, for the miraculous was only in the fancy of the court-poet. But there may be some truth in what he says of the eyes of Henrietta:–

Such eyes as yours, on Jove himself, had thrown
As bright and fierce a lightning as his own.

And in another poem there is one characteristic line:–
—- such radiant eyes,
Such lovely motion, and such sharp replies.

In a MS. letter of the times, the writer describes the queen as “nimble and quick, black-eyed, brown-haired, and a brave lady.”[203] In the MS. journal of Sir Symonds D’Ewes, who saw the queen on her first arrival in London, cold and puritanic as was that antiquary, he notices with some warmth “the features of her face, which were much enlivened by her radiant and sparkling black eye.”[204] She appears to have possessed French vivacity both in her manners and her conversation: in the history of a queen, an accurate conception of her person enters for something.

Her talents were not of that order which could influence the revolutions of a people. Her natural dispositions might have allowed her to become a politician of the toilet, and she might have practised those slighter artifices, which may be considered as so many political coquetries. But Machiavelian principles, and involved intrigues, of which she has been so freely accused, could never have entered into her character. At first she tried all the fertile inventions of a woman to persuade the king that she was his humblest creature, and the good people of England that she was quite in love with them. Now that we know that no female was ever more deeply tainted with Catholic bigotry, and that, haughty as she was, this princess suffered the most insulting superstitions, inflicted as penances by her priests, for this very marriage with a Protestant prince, the following new facts relating to her first arrival in England curiously contrast with the mortified feelings she must have endured by the violent suppression of her real ones.

We must first bring forward a remarkable and unnoticed document in the Embassies of Marshal Bassompierre.[205] It is nothing less than a most solemn obligation contracted with the Pope and her brother the King of France, to educate her children as Catholics, and only to choose Catholics to attend them. Had this been known either to Charles or to the English nation, Henrietta could never have been permitted to ascend the English throne. The fate of both her sons shows how faithfully she performed this treasonable contract. This piece of secret history opens the concealed cause of those deep impressions of that faith which both monarchs sucked in with their milk; that triumph of the cradle over the grave which most men experience; Charles the Second died a Catholic, James the Second lived as one.