Images de page
PDF
ePub

mamely, that “the king bad not fair play for his life.” Burnet says plainly, that “ Short suspected poison, and talked more freely of it than any Protestant durst ventnre to do at the time." He adds, that “ Short himself was taken suddenly ill, upon taking a large draught of wormwood wine, in the house of a Popish patient near the Tower; and while on his death-bed, he told Lower, and Millington, and other physicians, that he believed he himself was poisoned, for having spoken too freely of the king's death.”+ Mulgrave states the same report in these words, which, coming from a professed Tory, are entitled to the greater credit: “ I am obliged to observe, that the most knowing and most deserving of all his physicians did not only believe him poisoned, but thought himself so tvo, not long after, for having declared his opinion a little too boldly.” | North, in confutation of this report, has interpreted Short's expression, as meaning nothing more than that the king's malady was mistaken by his physicians, who, by their improper prescriptions, deprived nature of fair play ; || and he appeals to all the eminent physicians who attended Dr Short in his last illness, whether he did not fall a victim to his own bold method, in using the cortex. Upon the whole, whatever opinion this individual physician may have adopted through mistake, or affectation of singularity, and whatever credit faction, or indeed popular prejudice in general, may have given to such rumours at the time, there appears no solid reason to believe that Charles died of poiso9. Both Burnet and Mulgrave say, that they never heard a hint that his brother was accessary to such a crime; and it is very unlikely that any zealous Catholic should have had either opportunity, or inclination, to hasten the reign of a prince of that religion, by the unsolicited service of poisoning his brother. The other physicians, several of whom, Lower, for example, were Whigs, as well as Protestants, gave no countenance to this rumour, which was circulated by a Catholic. And, as the symptoms of the king's disorder are decidedly apoplectic, the report may be added to those with which history abounds, and which are raised and believed only because an extraordinary end is thought most fit for the eminent and powerful.

Short, as we have incidentally noticed, survived his royal patient but a few months. He was succeeded in his practice by Ratcliffe, the famous Tory physician of Queen Anne's reign.

+ Burnet's History of his own Times. End of Book III.

# Character of Charles II., Sheffield Duke of Buckingham's Works, Vol. II. p. 65.

ll One Dr Stokeham is said to have alleged, that the king's fit was epileptic, not apoplectic, and that bleeding was er diametro wrong.

VOL. X.

Note V.
All that on earth he held most dear,
He recommended to his care,

To whom both heaven

The right had giren, And his own love bequeathed supreme command.-P. 68. The historical accounts of the dying requests of Charles are contradictory and obscure. It seems certain, that he earnestly recommended his favourite mistress, the Duchess of Portsmouth, to the protection of his successor. He had always, he said, loved her, and he now loved her at the last. The Bishop of Bath presented to him his natural son, the Duke of Richmond ; whom he blessed, and recommended, with his other children, to his successor's protection; adding, “ Do not let poor Nelly

starve." He seems to have said nothing of the Duke of Monmouth, once so much beloved, and whom, shortly before, he entertained thoughts of recalling from banishment, and replacing in favour; perhaps he thought, any recommendation to James of a rival so hated would be ineffectual. Burnet says, he spoke not a word of the queen. Echard, on the contrary, affirms, that, at the exhortation of the Bishop of Bath, Charles sent for the queen, and asked and receive ed her pardon for the injuries he had done her bed. t In Fountainhall's Manuscript, the queen is said to have sent a message, requesting his pardon if she had ever offended him : lady!” replied the dying monarch," she never offended me; I have too often injured her.” | This account seems more probable than that of Echard; for so public a circumstance, as a personal visit from the queen to her husband's death-bed, could hardly have been disputed by contemporaries.

Alas, poor

Note VI.
The officious muses came along,

A gay harmonious quire, like angels ever young ;
The

muse, that mourns him now, his happy triumph sung.-P. 73, In Dryden's Life, we had occasion to remark the effect of the Restoration upon literature. It was not certainly its least impor

* Nell Gwyn.

+ Echard's History, p. 1046. 4 Dalrymple's Memoirs, 8vo, vol. i. p. 66.

tant benefit, that it opened our poet's own way to distinction; which is thus celebrated by Baber:

-till blest years brought Cæsar home again,
Dryden to purpose never drew his pen.
He, happy favourite of the tuneful uine !
Came with an early offering to your shrine;
Embalmed in deathless verse the monarch's fame;
Verse, which shall keep it fresh in youthful prime,
When Rustal's sacred gift must yield to time.

Note VII. Faith is a Christian's and a subject's test.-P. 78. James, as well as his poet, was not slack in intimating to his subjects, that he expected them to possess a proper portion of this saving virtue. And, that they might not want an opportunity of exercising it, he was pleased, by his own royal proclamation, to continue the payment of the duties of the custom-house, which had been granted by parliament only during his brother's life.

[blocks in formation]
« PrécédentContinuer »