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Charles The First’s Love Of The Fine Arts
by [?]

In his imprisonment at Carisbrook Castle, the author of the “Eikon Basilike” solaced his royal woes by composing a poem, entitled in the very style of this memorable volume, “Majesty in Misery, or an Imploration to the King of kings;” a title probably not his own, but like that volume, it contains stanzas fraught with the most tender and solemn feeling; such a subject, in the hands of such an author, was sure to produce poetry, although in the unpractised poet we may want the versifier. A few stanzas will illustrate this conception of part of his character:–

The fiercest furies that do daily tread
Upon my grief, my grey-discrowned head,
Are those that own my bounty for their bread.

With my own power my majesty they wound;
In the king’s name, the king himself uncrowned;
So doth the dust destroy the diamond.

After a pathetic description of his queen “forced in pilgrimage to seek a tomb,” and “Great Britain’s heir forced into France,” where,

Poor child, he weeps out his inheritance!

Charles continues:

They promise to erect my royal stem;
To make me great, to advance my diadem;
If I will first fall down and worship them!

But for refusal they devour my thrones,
Distress my children, and destroy my bones;
I fear they’ll force me to make bread of stones.

And implores, with a martyr’s piety, the Saviour’s forgiveness for those who were more misled than criminal:

Such as thou know’st do not know what they do.[199]

As a poet and a painter, Charles is not popularly known; but this article was due, to preserve the memory of the royal votary’s ardour and pure feelings for the love of the Fine Arts.[200]

[Footnote 189:
Sloane MSS. 5176, letter 367. ]

[Footnote 190:
See Gregorio Panzani’s Memoirs of his agency in England. This work long lay in manuscript, and was only known to us in the Catholic Dodd’s “Church History,” by partial extracts. It was at length translated from the Italian MS. and published by the Rev. Joseph Berington; a curious piece of our own secret history. ]

[Footnote 191:
Hume’s “History of England,” vii. 842. His authority is the “Parl. Hist.” xix. 88. ]

[Footnote 192:
Whitelocke’s “Memorials.” ]

[Footnote 193:
Harl. MSS. 4898. ]

[Footnote 194:
One of these pictures, “A Concert,” is now in our National Gallery. ]

[Footnote 195:
They were secured by Cromwell, who had intended to reproduce the designs at the tapestry-factory established in Mortlake, but the troubles of the kingdom hindered it. Charles II. very nearly sold them to France; Lord Danby intercepted the sale; when they were packed away in boxes, until the time of William III., who built the gallery at Hampton Court expressly for their exhibition. ]

[Footnote 196:
This picture is now one of the ornaments of Windsor Castle. ]

[Footnote 197:
These would appear to be copies of Andrea Mantegna’s “Triumphs of Julius Caesar,” the cartoons of which are still in the galleries of Hampton Court. ]

[Footnote 198:
Some may be curious to learn the price of gold and silver about 1650. It appears by this manuscript inventory that the silver sold at 4s. 11d. per oz. and gold at L3 10s.; so that the value of these metals has little varied during the last century and a half. ]

[Footnote 199:
This poem is omitted in the great edition of the king’s works, published after the Restoration; and was given by Burnet from a manuscript of his “Memoirs of the Dukes of Hamilton;” but it had been previously published in Perrenchief’s “Life of Charles the First.” It has been suspected that this poem is a pious fraud, and put forth in the king’s name–as likewise was the “Eikon Basilike.” One point I have since ascertained is, that Charles did write verses, as rugged as some of these. And in respect to the book, notwithstanding the artifice and the interpolations of Gauden, I believe that there are some passages which Charles only could have written. ]

[Footnote 200:
This article was composed without any recollection that a part of the subject had been anticipated by Lord Orford. In the “Anecdotes of Painting in England,” many curious particulars are noticed: the story of the king’s diamond seal had reached his lordship, and Vertue had a mutilated transcript of the inventory of the king’s pictures, etc., discovered in Moorfields; for, among others, more than thirty pages at the beginning relating to the plate and jewels were missing. The manuscript in the Harleian Collection is perfect. Lord Orford has also given an interesting anecdote to show the king’s discernment in the knowledge of the hands of the painters, which confirms the little anecdote I have related from the Farrars. But for a more intimate knowledge of this monarch’s intercourse with artists, I beg to refer to the third volume of my “Commentaries on the Life and Reign of Charles the First,” chapter the sixth, on “The Private Life of Charles the First.–Love of the Arts.” ]