Diary of the times of Charles II/Volume 1/Sir Richard Bulstrode to Mr. Sidney, September 10

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Bruzelles, Sept. 10th, 1679.


I was in so great disorder when I last wrote to you the night before his Royal Highness' departure, that I had not time to collect myself, for which reason I did forget much of what I had to say. The chief thing of concern was the sudden and unexpected journey his Highness was undertaking, which put this Court into a great consternation, and the Catholic party in it into a great rage; and truly we are all betwixt great hopes and fears till we hear how his Majesty doth, and how his Royal Highness hath been received.[2] Our last letters told us the King's indisposition was much abated, that the ague was the only thing feared, which yet the physicians hoped would go off; our having no news since Tuesday makes us believe the best, or else we should have had more expresses.

Before his Highness' departure he changed his resolution of sending Mr. Porter to France and Spain, from the advices he received from the Ambassador, dissuading him from it: whereupon Mr. Tufton was nominated, but no time fixed for his going till my Lord Ossory should be despatched from England; and, Mr. Tufton having gone for England, I am not able to say when he shall go.

The Duke made so great haste, that, having sent his horses in relay, we suppose he reached Calais on Friday night; if so, I fear my Lord Peterborough was left behind, being unlikely to continue that journey, and I much doubt whether Mr. Churchill could perform it, and then his Highness would have no person with him but his chirurgeon.

The night before his Highness went, he declared Mr. Nicholas of his bedchamber, who went also for England, by the way of Neuport, with Mr. Tufton.

We are in great hopes that the Duchesse, with the two Princesses, will soon follow his Highness; though others are of a contrary sentiment, believing the Duke will rather return hither, wherein I hope they will be mistaken, and shall willingly pardon their error.

His Excellency the Duke of V. Hermosa is returned this night from Namur, and we are making great preparations for a solemn entertainment on Sunday, for the marriage, which they say will be very magnificent; but I doubt that, as much as the Marquis de los Balbazos at Fontainbleau, which fell much short of expectation.

I have nothing more worthy of your notice, and shall end your trouble with acknowledging your last favour, and begging you to believe that I am, with perfect respect and esteem.


Your most humble and obedient servant,

R. Bulstrode.

  1. Sir Richard Bulstrode was the son of the author of some Law Reports; he was born in 1610. He left the Law to serve under King Charles I., of whose army he was Adjutant and Quarter Master General. He was knighted in 1675, and was at this time the Envoy at Brussels.—Preface to his Letters.
  2. The following is James's own account of his journey and his reception.—"Upon the 8th of September he began his journey from Brusells, acquainting nobody but the Duchess with his intentions, and took only my Lord Peterborough, Mr. Churchill, and a Barber with him; leaving order with Sir Richard Bulstrode to acquaint the Duke of Villa Hermosa with the occasion of his sudden departure. The first night he arrived at Armentiers, and the next at Calais; but, the wind blowing fresh and contrary, could not get out till the 10th in the evening, and the next morning landed at Dover in a French shallop (not being discovered, by reason of the disguise he had put himself in, neither by the crew, nor at Dover itself, except by the Port Master, who was an honest man and held his tongue): he took port from thence, leaving my Lord Peterborough behind, who was not able to go so fast, and arrived that night at London. As soon as he light, he called a hackney-coach, and went first to Mr. Frowd, the Post Master, to know what news, where he found to his great satisfaction that the King was much better; from thence he went to Sir Allen Apsley's house, where he lay all night, and sent for Mr. Hyde and Mr. Godolphin. They told him his coming was still a secret; that neither the Duke of Monmouth, nor any of his gang, knew or suspected it; and therefore they advised him to make all the haste he could to Windsor, while the thing was undiscovered. Accordingly, he came thither the next morning by seven o'clock, just as his Majesty was shaving, and was himself the first man that advertised him of his arrival.
    "The King, though seemingly surprised, received him very kindly; and the Duke, after his compliments and telling his Majesty how extreme glad he was to find him so well recovered, pursued his directions; and speaking aloud, sayd, He hoped his Majesty would pardon him for coming without his leave, considering the occasion, but that, as he had already gone out of England in obedience to his Majesty's commands, so now that he had the satisfaction of seeing him, he was ready to go into any part of the world he should appoint.
    "This scene being over, all the Courtiers flocked about him to make their compliments, his enemies as well as his friends."—Clarke's Life of James I., 565.