Sunday, 22 August 2010

bare suspicions, naked conjectures, blackest malice

… The Prince of Wales was seized with a distemper, which at first was not thought dangerous. It begun on 10th October, a few days before the Elector Palatine's arrival: but he himself believed it of little consequence, that he accompanied the Elector everywhere for some days. He was not forced to keep his bed till the 25th of the same month, and died the 6th of November, at the age of 18 years (5).
Hw was one of the most accomplished Princes that ever was, I will not say in England but in all Europe, if we may believe what Historians relate of him. He was sober, chaste, temperate, religious, full of honour and probity. He was never heard to swear, though the example of his Father and the whole Court, was but apt to corrupt him in that respect (6). He took great delight in the conversation of men of honour; and those who were not reckoned as such, were looked upon with a very ill eye at his Court. He had naturally a greatness of mind, noble and generous thoughts; and was as much displeased with trifles, as his Father was fond of them. He frequently said, if ever he mounted the Throne, his first care should be to try to reconcile the Puritans to the Church of England. As this could not be done without concessions on each side, and as such a condescension was directly contrary to the temper of the Court and Clergy, he was suspected to countenance Puritanism. He was naturally gentle and affable: but however, in his carriage had a noble stateliness without affectation, which commanded esteem and respect. He shewed a warlike genius, in his passionate fondness for all martial exercises. A French Ambassador coming to take his leave of him, found him tossing the Pike, and asking him, what service he would command him to his Master? The Prince bid him tell him, what he was doing. In short, to say all in a word, though he was eighteen years old when he died, no Historian has taxed him with any vice. The King his Father is said to have been jealous of him, and to ask one day, If his Son would bury him alive (7)? I pass over in silence many things said upon this occasion, particularly what some Authors would insinuate, that the King caused him to be poisoned. In such case, the proofs ought to be as clear as the sun, and I find in the most inveterate Historians against King James, only bare suspicions and naked conjectures, which probably were the fruits of the blackest malice. Others are contented with accusing the Viscount Rochester of this crime, but without any manner of proof. Some slight presumptions, which I shall have occasion to speak of elsewhere, may have helped to breed this suspicion, which indeed was spread immediately after the Prince's death. Wherefore his head and body were ordered to be laid open in the preference of many Physicians and Surgeons, who gave their opinion upon Oath, that no marks of poison appeared (8). But what reflected most upon the King, was his commanding that no person should appear at Court in mourning; …

(6) Being once hunting the Stag, a Butcher's dog chanced to kill the Stag, and spoil the sport, which the Prince not resenting, the Huntsmen and Company, to incense him against the Butcher, told him, "if his Father had been served so, he would have sworn so as no Man could have endured it." Away, (says the Prince) all the Pleasure in the World is not worth an Oath. This R. Coke the Historian had from his Father, who was about the Prince's age.
(8) They gave their Opinions on November 7, under their hands as follows, his Liver wan and paler than ordinary. His Gall without Choler, and distended with Wind. His Spleen unnaturally balck; his Lungs spotted, with much Corruption. The Diaphragma blackish; and the Head full of Blood in some places, and in others of Water. As if (says Wilson) no poison could produce such effects, p.690. See Historic. Narrat. c. 15. Howes says, he died of a malignant Fever, which reigned that year in most parts of the land, and carried away a great number of people of all sorts and ages, p.1004

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