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PAGE 3

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

When Henrietta was on her way to England, a legate from Rome arrested her at Amiens, requiring the princess to undergo a penance, which was to last sixteen days, for marrying Charles without the papal dispensation. The queen stopped her journey, and wrote to inform the king of the occasion. Charles, who was then waiting for her at Canterbury, replied, that if Henrietta did not instantly proceed, he would return alone to London. Henrietta doubtless sighed for the Pope and the penance, but she set off the day she received the king’s letter. The king, either by his wisdom or his impatience, detected the aim of the Roman pontiff, who, had he been permitted to arrest the progress of a Queen of England for sixteen days in the face of all Europe, would thus have obtained a tacit supremacy over a British monarch.

When the king arrived at Canterbury, although not at the moment prepared to receive him, Henrietta flew to meet him, and with all her spontaneous grace and native vivacity, kneeling at his feet, she kissed his hand, while the king, bending over her, wrapped her in his arms, and kissed her with many kisses. This royal and youthful pair, unusual with those of their rank, met with the eagerness of lovers, and the first words of Henrietta were those of devotion; Sire! je suis venue en ce pays de votre majeste pour etre usee et commandee de vous.[206] It had been rumoured that she was of a very short stature, but, reaching to the king’s shoulder, his eyes were cast down to her feet, seemingly observing whether she used art to increase her height. Anticipating his thoughts, and playfully showing her feet, she declared, that “she stood upon her own feet, for thus high I am, and neither higher nor lower.” After an hour’s conversation in privacy, Henrietta took her dinner surrounded by the court; and the king, who had already dined, performing the office of her carver, cut a pheasant and some venison. By the side of the queen stood her ghostly confessor, solemnly reminding her that this was the eve of John the Baptist, and was to be fasted, exhorting her to be cautious that she set no scandalous example on her first arrival. But Charles and his court were now to be gained over, as well as John the Baptist. She affected to eat very heartily of the forbidden meat, which gave great comfort, it seems, to several of her new heretical subjects then present: but we may conceive the pangs of so confirmed a devotee. She carried her dissimulation so far, that being asked about this time whether she could abide a Huguenot? she replied, “Why not? was not my father one?” Her ready smiles, the graceful wave of her hand, the many “good signs of hope,” as a contemporary in a manuscript letter expresses it, induced many of the English to believe that Henrietta might even become one of themselves! Sir Symonds D’Ewes, as appears by his manuscript diary, was struck by “her deportment to her women, and her looks to her servants, which were so sweet and humble!”[207] However, this was in the first days of her arrival, and these “sweet and humble looks” were not constant ones; for a courier at Whitehall, writing to a friend, observes that “the queen, however little of stature, yet is of a pleasing countenance, if she be pleased, otherwise full of spirit and vigour, and seems of more than ordinary resolution;” and he adds an incident of one of her “frowns.” The room in which the queen was at dinner, being somewhat over-heated with the fire and company, “she drove us all out of the chamber. I suppose none but a queen could have cast such a scowl.”[208] We may already detect the fair waxen mask melting away on the features it covered, even in one short month!