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ESCAPE OF CHARLES THE SECOND.
(The death of the King was followed by the conquest of
Ireland and Scotland. Both were wrought by Oliver Cromwell, who had done much to win the victories of Marston Moor and Naseby, and who became, on the resignation of Fairfax, Lord General of the Parliamentary Army. He subdued Ireland by measures of ruthless severity; invaded Scotland, which had proclaimed Charles, the son of the dead King, as its sovereign; won a great victory at Dunbar, and drove the young “King of Scots," as he was called, to march into England, in hope of raising a fresh civil war. At Worcester he was overtaken by Cromwell, utterly defeated, and driven to flight. He first sought shelter at a house in the valley of the Severn.]
WHITELADIES was the first asylum of Charles; he arrived there at daybreak on the fourth of September, scarcely twelve hours after having escaped from Worcester. He immediately cut off his hair, stained his hands and face, and assumed the coarse and threadbare garments of a peasant; and five brothers Penderell, all of them labourers, woodmen or domestics in the service of Mr. Giffard, undertook to secure his safety. “ This is the King,” said Mr. Giffard to William Penderell; “thou must have a care of him, and preserve him as thou didst me." They accordingly took Charles to Boscobel House, and concealed him in the adjoining woods. It was raining heavily: Richard Penderell procured a blanket, and spread it for the King under one of the largest trees; while his sister, Mrs. Yates, brought a supply of bread, milk, eggs, and butter. “Good woman,” said Charles to her, “can you be faithful to a distressed Cavalier ?” “Yes, Sir,” she replied, “and I will die .sooner than betray you.” Some soldiers passed on the outskirts of the wood, but did not enter it, because the storm was more violent over the wood than in the open fields. On the next day, the King concealed himself among the leafy branches of a large oak, and from this cover he could see the soldiers scouring the country in search of him. One night he left his hidingplace, to endeavour to cross the Severn, and take refuge in Wales; but as he was passing a mill with Richard Penderell, his guide, the miller called out, “Who goes there?” “Neighbours going home," answered Penderell. “ If you be neighbours, stand," cried the miller, " or I will knock you down." They fled as fast as they could, and were pursued for some time by several men who came out of the mill with the miller. In another of their attempts to escape, while fording a small river, the King, who was a good swimmer, helped his guide across, as he was unable to swim.
He wandered for seven days in this manner through the country, changing his place of refuge almost daily, sometimes hidden beneath the hay in a barn, sometimes concealed in one of those obscure hiding-places which served as a retreat to the proscribed Catholic priests; hearing or seeing, at every moment, the republican soldiers who had been sent in search of him. In concert with his faithful guards, and with Lord Wilmot, who had rejoined him, he resolved to make for the sea-coast, near Bristol, in the hope of being able to find a vessel to take him over to France. He now changed his disguise, assumed a servant's livery instead of his peasant's garb, and set off on horseback, under the name of William Jackson, carrying behind him his mistress, Miss Jane Lane, sister of Colonel Lane, of Bentley, his last piace of refuge in Staffordshire, “ Will,” said the colonel to him at starting, “ thou must give my sister thy hand to help her to mount : " but the King, unused to such offices, gave her the wrong hand. “What a goodly horseman my daughter has got to ride before her,” said old Mrs. Lane, the colonel's mother, who was watching their departure, though unacquainted with the secret. They set off, but they had scarcely ridden two hours, when the King's horse cast a shoe, and they halted at a little village to get another shoe. “As I was holding the horse's foot,” says the King in his narrative of his escape, “ I asked the smith what news. He told me that there was no news that he knew of, since the good news of the beating of those rogues, the Scots. I asked him whether there were none of the English taken that had joined with the Scots. He answered that some of them were taken, but he did not hear that that rogue, Charles Stuart, had been taken yet. I told him that, if that rogue were taken, he deserved to be hanged more than all the rest, for bringing in the Scots. Upon which he said that I spoke like an honest man; and so we parted.”
On the 13th of September he reached Abbotsleigh, near Bristol, the residence of Mr. Norton, a cousin of Colonel Lane. He there learned, to his great sorrow, that there was not in the port of Bristol any vessel on board which he could embark ; and he was obliged to remain in the house four days. Under pretence of indisposition, he was indulged in a separate chamber, and by Miss Lane's request, particular care was taken of him. He was really much harassed and fatigued, though but little inclined to endure patiently either hunger or ennui. On the morning after his arrival, he rose early, and went to the buttery-hatch to get his breakfast, where he found Pope, the butler, and two or three other servants; "and,” he says, “we all fell to
eating bread and butter, to which Pope gave us very good ale and sack. As I was sitting there, there was one that looked like a country fellow sat just by me, who gave so particular an account of the battle of Worcester to the rest of the company, that I concluded he must be one of Cromwell's soldiers. But I asking him how he came to give so good an account of that battle ; he told me he was in the King's regiment; and on questioning him further, I perceived that he had been in my regiment of guards. I asked him what kind of a man I was? To which he answered by describing exactly both my clothes and my horse ; and then looking upon me, he told me that the King was at least three fingers taller than I. Upon which I made what haste I could out of the buttery, for fear he should indeed know me; being more afraid when I knew he was one of our own soldiers, than when I took him for one of the enemy's.”
Charles had no sooner returned to his room, than one of his companions came to him in great agitation, and said : “What shall we do? I am afraid Pope the butler knows you, for he says very positively to me that it is you, but I have denied it." Charles had already learned that, in positions of danger, bold confidence is often no less a source of safety than a necessity; he sent for the butler, told him all, and received from him, during his stay at Mr. Norton's house, the most intelligent and most devoted care.
But attentions, even when shown most discreetly, sometimes prove most compromising; at the end of four days Charles had to seek a new asylum : and on the 14th of September, he left Abbotsieigh for Trent House, in the same county, the residence of Colonel Wyndham, a staunch Royalist. In 1636, six years before the outbreak of the war between Charles I. and his Parliament, Sir Thoma
Wyndham, the Colonel's father, when on the point of death, had said to his five sons- -“ My sons, we have hitherto seen serene and quiet times, but now prepare yourselves for cloudy and troublesome. I command you to honour and obey our gracious sovereign, and in all times to adhere to the crown; and though the crown should hang upon a bush, I charge you forsake it not." The injunctions of the dying
were obeyed; three of his sons and one of his grandsons fell on the battle-field, fighting for Charles I.; and Colonel Wyndham, who had also served with honour in the royal army, was, in 1651, a prisoner on parole in his own house. He received the King with the utmost devotedness, and set to work immediately to obtain some means of embarkation for him in one of the neighbouring ports.
[For some time, however, these efforts were fruitless, and so close a watch was kept that Charles was forced to leave the Dorset coast in despair, and return to Colonel Wyndham’s.]
Charles remained for eleven days at Trent House, still seeking, but in vain, the means of transport to France. It then became necessary for him once more to change his residence. Colonel Wyndham was informed that his house was becoming more and more suspected; and ere long, troops arrived in the neighbourhood. On the 6th of October, the King left Trent House to take refuge at Hele House, the residence of Mr. Hyde in Wiltshire ; where he would be nearer the small sea-ports of Sussex, at one of which his friends hoped to be able to procure him a vessel. They at last succeeded in obtaining one, and on the morning of the 13th of October, Charles left his last hiding-place, escorted by a few faithful friends, who had brought their dogs, as if for a coursing expedition on the downs. They slept at Hambledon, in Hampshire, at the house of a brother-in-law of Colonel Gunter, one of the