Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 09.djvu/321

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Catherine
Catherine
315

discerning observers already anticipated difficulties (Chesterfield's Letters, p. 123). Charles was attracted by the simplicity and childishness of his wife, and prophesied eternal love and constancy. He amused himself with teaching her English, and laughed at her mistakes. On 27 May Charles and Catherine left Portsmouth, and on 29 May celebrated at Hampton Court the 'star-crown'd anniversary' of the former's birth and restoration (Exact Relation). There they remained for the early summer, and on 23 Aug. 'the most magnificent triumph ever seen on the Thames' accompanied their solemn entry to Whitehall, and ended the long and not very hearty festivities that had attended the union.

The troubles of life had already begun. 'The lady,' as Mrs. Palmer was called, had received the intelligence of Charles's marriage with a very ill grace. To soothe her violence Charles acknowledged her son, made her unwilling husband Earl of Castlemaine, and promised that she should be a lady of his wife's bedchamber; but Catherine instantly struck out her name from the list of her household. Yet within a few weeks Charles brought the lady to court, and publicly presented her to Catherine. At first the queen received her graciously, 'but the instant she knew who she was she was no sooner set in her chair but her colour changed, and tears gushed out of her eyes and her nose bled, and she fainted' (Clarendon, Continuation of his Life; cf. Clarendon to Ormonde, 17 July, in Lister, vol. iii. App. No. ciii. This plainly refers to the first interview, wrongly dated in the Continuation, as 'within a day or two of the queen's arrival at Hampton Court'). The queen was removed to another room, and the court broke up in confusion. A painful struggle ensued. Charles 'sought ease and refreshment in jolly company,' who held up to him the example of his grandfather, Henry IV. He applied to Clarendon to bring the queen to a sense of the helplessness of her position. The chancellor's first advances were met by 'so much passion and such a torrent of tears that there was nothing left for him to do but to retire.' Next day he found the queen more composed to receive his stiff and ungenial lecture, but when he 'insinuated what would be acceptable with reference to the lady, it raised all the rage and fury of yesterday, with fewer tears, the fire appearing in her eyes where the water was.' Catherine fiercely protested that she would rather go back to Portugal than yield so unworthily. The struggle continued for days. The dismissal of nearly all her Portuguese household, to whose impolitic prudery the courtiers attributed Catherine's determination, left her without friends or confidants. But Catherine's active remonstrances were ultimately exchanged for a passive resistance that was the prelude to a practical surrender. Lady Castlemaine took up her quarters at Hampton Court. The queen saw 'a universal mirth in all company but in hers, and in all places but her chamber.' At last she openly condoned the scandal. Clarendon, who had done his best to bring about this result, was mean enough to pretend that this unworthy concession damaged the queen both in public opinion and with her husband (the above account is taken entirely from Clarendon, Continuation of his Life, p. 1085-92, 4to edit. 1843). Henceforth Catherine received with kindness and forbearance the long series of her husband's mistresses (see e.g. Pepys, 24 Oct. and 23 Dec. 1662). She even showed kindnesses to her husband's bastards, befriended James Crofts, the future duke of Monmouth, though fiercely resisting his recognition, and, in after years, she gave a pension to the Duke of Grafton. Such command did she gain over herself that she never entered her own dressing-room without warning, lest she should surprise Charles toying with her maids (Pepys, 8 Feb. 1664). But sometimes her hot southern nature flamed up despite all her schooling (ib. 6 July 1663; cf. Reresby, Memoirs, p. 104).

In return for this complaisance, Charles treated his wife generally with kindness, sometimes with affection (e.g. Pepys, 7 Sept. 1662). Yet courtiers contrasted the gorgeous furniture of the apartments of favourite mistresses with the simple decorations of the queen's private rooms; though the simplicity of her tastes may have partly accounted for the difference, and she certainly possessed some costly furniture and decorations (e.g. Evelyn, 17 April 1673; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1665-6, p. 139; and see Pepys, 24 June 1664 and 9 June 1662). When at great court festivities the Duchesses of Cleveland and Portsmouth were rustling in rich silks and blazing with jewels, Catherine was simply dressed and without diamonds. Goodman the actor kept her waiting for the play till I 'his duchess' arrived. Aspirants for place and promotion neglected the wife for the powerful mistress. After the queen-mother's death, Catherine, whose circumstances then became much easier, often abandoned court altogether for her dower-mansion of Somerset House. Her ignorance or indifference to political matters made her the more careless of her absolute want of all political influence.

Catherine was suspected of exercising influence on state affairs in the interests of the catholic religion. In October 1662 she sent her