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entertained. “The man,” says Evelyn, “had not only a daring, but a villainous unmerciful look, a false countenance; but very well-spoken, and dangerously insinuating."

Early in 1662, the Duke of Buckingham had been engaged in practices against the court: he had disguised deep designs by affecting the

mere man of pleasure. Never was there such splendor as at Wallingford House---such wit and gallantry; such perfect good-breeding; such apparently open-handed hospitality. At those splendid banquets, John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, a man whom the muses were fond to inspire, but ashamed to avow,” showed his “ beautiful face," as it was called; and chimed in with that wit for which the age was famous. The frequenters at Wallingford House gloried in their indelicacy. “One is amazed," Horace Walpole observes, at hearing the age of Charles II. called polite.” The Puritans have affected to call every thing by a Scripture name; the newcomers affected to call every thing by its right name;

“As if preposterously they would.confess

A forced hypocrisy in wickedness.” Walpole compares the age of Charles II. to that of Aristoph

.“ which called its own grossness polite.”. How bitterly he decries the stale poems of the time as a heap of senseless ribaldry ;" how truly he shows that licentiousness weakens as well as depraves the judgment. “When Satyrs are brought to court,” he observes, “no wonder the Graces would not trust themselves there."

The Cabal is said, however, to have been concocted, not at Wallingford House, but at Ham House, near Kingston-onThames.

In this stately old manor-house, the abode of the Tollemache family, the memory of Charles II. and of his court seems to linger still

. Ham House was intended for the residence of Henry, Prince of Wales, and was built in 1610. It stands near the river Thames; and is flanked by noble avenues of elm and

; of chestnut trees, down which one may almost, as it were, hear the king's talk with his courtiers; see Arlington approach with the well-known patch across his nose; or spy out the lovely, childish Miss Stuart and her future husband, the Duke of Richmond, slipping behind into the garden, lest the jealous, mortified king should catch a sight of the “conscious lovers."

This stately structure was given by Charles II., in 1672, to the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale: she, the supposed mistress of Cromwell; he, the cruel, hateful Lauderdale of the Cabal. This detestable couple, however, furnished with massive grandeur the apartments of Ham House. They had the ceilings painted by Verrio; the furniture was rich, and even the

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bellows and brushes in some of the rooms are of silver filigree. One room is furnished with yellow damask, still rich, though faded; the very seats on which Charles, looking around him, saw Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley (the infamous Shaftesbury), and Lauderdale—and knew not, good easy man, that he was looking on a band of traitors—are still there. Nay, he even sat to Sir Peter Lely for a portrait for this very place -in which schemes for the ruin of the kingdom were concocted. All, probably, was smooth and pleasing to the monarch as he ranged down the fine gallery, ninety-two feet long; or sat at dinner amid his foes in that hall, surrounded with an open gallery; or disported himself on the river's green brink. Nay, one may even fancy Nell Gwynn taking a day's pleasure in this then lone and ever sweet locality. We hear her swearing, as she was wont to do, perchance at the dim looking-glasses, her own house in Pall Mall, given her by the king, having been filled

up for the comedian, entirely, ceiling and all, with looking-glass. How bold and pretty she looked in her undress, even Pepys-no very sound moralist, though a vast hypocrite -tells us: Nelly, “all unready” was “very pretty, prettier far than he thought." But to see how she was “painted,” would, he thought, “make a man mad.”

“Madame Ellen,” as after her elevation, as it was termed, she was called, might, since she held long a great sway over Charles's fancy, be suffered to scamper about Ham Housewhere her merry laugh perhaps scandalized the now saintly Duchess of Lauderdale, just to impose on the world; for Neil was regarded as the Protestant champion of the court, in opposition to her French rival, the Duchess of Portsmouth.

Let us suppose that she has been at Ham House, and is gone off to Pall Mall again, where she can see her painted face in every turn. The king has departed, and Killigrew, who, at all events, is loyal, and the true-hearted Duke of Richmond, all are away to London. In yon sanctimonious-looking closet, next to the duchess's bedchamber, with her psalter and her prayer-book on her desk, which is fixed to her great chair, and that very cane which still hangs there serving as her support from that closet, murmur and wrangle the component parts of that which was never mentioned without fear—the Cabal. They dare not trust themselves in the gallery; there is tapestry there, and we all know what coverts there are for eaves-droppers and spiders in tapestried walls; then the great cardinal spiders do so click . there, are so like the death-watch, that Villiers, who is inveterately superstitious, will not abide there. The hall, with its inclosing galleries, and the buttery near, are manifestly unsafe. So they herd, nay, crouch, mutter, and concoct that fearful



treachery which, as far as their country is concerned, has been a thing apart in our annals. Englishmen are turbulent, ambitious, unscrupulous; but the craft of Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale-the subtlety of Ashley, seem hardly conceivable either in a Scot or a Southern.

These meetings had their natural consequence. One leaves Lauderdale, Arlington, Ashley, and Clifford, to their fate. But the career of Villiers inspires more interest. He seemed born for better things. Like many men of genius, he was so credulous that the faith he pinned on one Heydon, an astrologer, at this time, perhaps buoyed him up with false hopes. Be it as it may, his plots now tended to open insurrection. In 1666 a proclamation had been issued for his apprehension—he having then absconded. On this occasion he was saved by the act of one whom he had injured grossly—his wife. She managed to outride the sergeant-at-arms, and to warn him of his danger. She had borne his infidelities, after the fashion of the day, as a matter of course: jealousy was then an impertinence-constancy, a chimera; and her husband, whatever his conduct, had ever treated her with kindness of manner: he had that charm, that attribute of his family, in perfection, and it had fascinated Mary Fairfax.

He fled, and played for a year successfully the pranks of his youth. At last, worn out, he talked of giving himself up to justice. “Mr. Fenn, at the table, says that he hath been taken by the watch two or three times of late, at unseasonable hours, but so disguised they did not know him ; and when I come home, by and by, Mr. Lowther tells me that the Duke of Buckingham do dine publickly this day at Wadlow's, at the Sun Tavern; and is mighty merry, and sent word to the Lieutenant of the Tower, that he would come to him as soon as he had dined.

While in the Tower—to which he was again committedBuckingham's pardon was solicited by Lady Castlemaine; on which account the king was very angry with her; called her a meddling “jade;" she calling him "fool,” and saying if he was not a fool he never would suffer his best subjects to be imprisoned—referring to Buckingham. And not only did she ask his liberty, but the restitution of his places. No wonder there was discontent when such things were done, and public affairs were in such a state. We must again quote the graphic, terse language of Pepys :—"It was computed that the Parliament had given the king for this war only, besides all prizes, and besides the £200,000 which he was to spend of his own revenue, to guard the sea, above £5,000,000, and odd £100,000; which is a most prodigious sum. Sir H. Cholmly, as a true

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English gentleman, do decry the king's expenses of his privy purse, which in King James's time did not rise to above £5000 a year, and in King Charles's to £10,000, do now cost us above £100,000, besides the great charge of the monarchy, as the Duke of York has £100,000 of it, and other limbs of the royal family.”

In consequence of Lady Castlemaine's intervention, Villiers was restored to liberty-a strange instance, as Pepys remarks, of the “fool's play” of the age. Buckingham was now as presuming as ever: he had a theatre of his own, and he soon showed his usual arrogance by beating Henry Killigrew on the stage, and taking away his coat and sword; all very “innocently” done, according to Pepys. In July he appeared in his place in the House of Lords, as “ brisk as ever, and sat in his robes, “which,” says Pepys, “is a monstrous thing that a man should be proclaimed against, and put in the Tower, and released without any trial, and yet not restored to his places."

We next find the duke intrusted with a mission to France, in concert with Lords Halifax and Arlington. In the year 1680, he was threatened with an impeachment, in which, with his usual skill, he managed to exculpate himself by blaming Lord Arlington. The House of Commons passed a vote for his removal; and he entered the ranks of the opposition.

But this career of public meanness and private profligacy was drawing to a close. Alcibiades no longer_his frame wasted by vice-his spirits broken by pecuniary difficultiesBuckingham's importance visibly sank away. “He remained, at last,” to borrow the words of Hume,“ as incapable of doing hurt as he had ever been little desirous of doing good to mankind.” His fortune had now dwindled down to £300 a year in land; he sold Wallingford House, and removed into the City.

And now the fruits of his adversity, not, we hope too late, began to appear. Like Lord Rochester, who had ordered all his immoral works to be burnt, Buckingham now wished to retrieve the past. In 1685 he wrote the religious works which form so striking a contrast with his other productions.

That he had been up to the very time of his ruin perfectly impervious to remorse, dead also to shame, is amply manifested by his conduct soon after his duel with the Earl of Shrewsbury.

Sir George Etherege had brought out a new play at the Duke of York's Theatre. It was called, “She Would if she Could.” Plays in those days began at what we now consider our luncheon hour. Though Pepys arrived at the theatre at




two o'clock-his wife having gone before—about a thousand people had been put back from the pit. At last, seeing his wife in the eighteen-penny-box, he “made shift” to get there, and there saw," but lord !” (his own words are inimitable) “how dull, and how silly the play, there being nothing in the world good in it, and few people pleased in it. The king was there; but I sat mightily behind and could see but little, and hear not at all. The play being done, I into the pit to look for my wife, it being dark and raining, but could not find her; and so staid going between the two doors and through the pit an hour and half, I think, after the play was done; the people staying there till the rain was over, and to talk to one anoth

And among the rest, here was the Duke of Buckingham to-day openly in the pit; and there I found him with my Lord Buckhurst, and Sedley, and Etheridge the poet, the last of whom I did hear mightily find fault with the actors, that they were out of humor, and had not their parts perfect, and that Harris did do nothing, nor could so much as sing a ketch in it; and so was mightily concerned, while all the rest did, through the whole pit, blame the play as a silly, dull thing, though there was something very roguish and witty; but the design of the play, and end, mighty insipid.”

Buckingham had held out to his Puritan friends the hope of his conversion for some years; and when they attempted to convert him, he had appointed a time for them to finish their work. They kept their promise, and found him in the most profligate society. It was indeed impossible to know in what directions his fancies might take him, when we find him believing in the predictions

of a poor fellow, in a wretched lodging, near Tower Hill, who, having cast his nativity, assured the duke he would be king.

He had continued for years to live with the Countess of Shrewsbury, and two months after her husband's death, had taken her to his home. Then, at last, the Duchess of Buckingham indignantly observed, that she and the countess could not possibly live together. “So I thought, madam,” was the reply. “I have therefore ordered your coach to take you to your father's.” It has been asserted that Dr. Sprat, the duke's chaplain, actually married him to Lady Shrewsbury, and that his legal wife thenceforth was styled "The Duchess-dowager.”

He retreated with his mistress to Claverdon, near Windsor, situated on the summit of a hill which is washed by the Thames. It is a noble building, with a great terrace in front, under which are twenty-six niches, in which Buckingham had intended to place twenty-six statues as large as life; and in the middle is an alcove, with stairs. Here he lived with the infamous count


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