+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

made Lord High Admiraland the Chief
Commander of the gallant English forces
that had dispersed the Spanish Armada, was
displaced to make room for him. He had
the whole kingdom at his disposal, and his
mother sold all the profits and honours of
the State, as if she had kept a shop. He
blazed all over with diamonds and other
precious stones, from his hat-band and his
ear-rings to his shoes. Yet he was an
ignorant, presumptuous, swaggering compound
of knave and fool, with nothing but
his beauty and his dancing to recommend
him. This is the gentleman who called himself
his Majesty's dog and slave, and called
his Majesty Your Sowship. His Sowship
called him STEENIE; it is supposed, because
that was a nickname for Stephen, and because
Saint Stephen was generally represented in
pictures as a handsome saint.

His Sowship was driven sometimes to his
wits'-end by his trimming between the general
dislike of the Catholic religion at home, and
his desire to wheedle and flatter it abroad, as
his only means of getting a rich princess for
his son's wife: a part of whose fortune he
might cram into his greasy pockets. Prince
Charlesor as his Sowship called him, Baby
Charlesbeing now PRINCE OF WALES, the
old project of a marriage with the Spanish
King's daughter had been revived for him;
and as she could not marry a Protestant
without leave from the Pope, his Sowship
himself secretly and meanly wrote to his
Infallibility, asking for it. The negotiation
for this Spanish marriage takes up a larger
space in great books than you can imagine,
but the upshot of it all, is, that when it had
been held off by the Spanish Court for a long
time, Baby Charles and Steenie set off in
disguise as Mr. Thomas Smith and Mr. John
Smith, to see the Spanish Princess; that Baby
Charles pretended to be desperately in love
with her, and jumped off walls to look at
her, and made a considerable idiot of himself
in a good many ways; that she was called
Princess of Wales, and that the whole Spanish
Court believed Baby Charles to be all but
dying for her sake, as he expressly told them
he was; that Baby Charles and Steenie came
back to England, and were received with as
much rapture as if they had been a blessing
to it; that Baby Charles had actually fallen
in love with HENRIETTA MARIA, the French
King's sister, whom he had seen in Paris;
that he thought it a wonderfully fine
and princely thing to have deceived the
Spaniards, all through; and that he openly
said, with a chuckle, as soon as he was safe
and sound at home again, that the Spaniards
were great fools to have believed him.

Like most dishonest men, the Prince and
the favourite complained that the people
whom they had deluded were dishonest. They
made such misrepresentations of the treachery
of the Spaniards in this business of the Spanish
match, that the English nation became eager
for a war with them. Although the gravest
Spaniards laughed at the idea of his Sowship
in a warlike attitude, the Parliament
granted money for the beginning of hostilities,
and the treaties with Spain were publicly
declared to be at an end. The Spanish ambassador
in Londonprobably with the help
of the fallen favourite, the Earl of Somerset
being unable to obtain speech with his
Sowship, slipped a paper into his hand, declaring
that he was a prisoner in his own
house and was entirely governed by Buckingham
and his creatures. The first effect of
this letter was, that his Sowship began to
cry and whine, and took Baby Charles away
from Steenie, and went down to Windsor,
gabbling all sorts of nonsense. The end
of it was that his Sowship hugged his
dog and slave, and said he was quite

He had given the Prince and the favourite
almost unlimited power to settle anything
with the Pope as to the Spanish marriage;
and he now, with a view to the French one,
signed a treaty that all Roman Catholics in
England should exercise their religion freely,
and should never be required to take any
oath contrary thereto. In return for this,
and for other concessions much less to be
defended, Henrietta Maria was to become
the Prince's wife, and was to bring him a
fortune of eight hundred thousand crowns.

His Sowship's eyes were getting red with
eagerly looking for the money, when the end
of a gluttonous life came upon him; and, after
a fortnight's illness, on Sunday the twenty-seventh
of March, one thousand six hundred
and twenty-five, he died. He had reigned
twenty-two years, and was fifty-nine years
old. I know of nothing more abominable in
history than the adulation that was lavished
on this King, and the vice and corruption that
such a barefaced habit of lying produced in
his court. It is much to be doubted whether
one man of honour, and not utterly self-disgraced,
kept his place near James the First.
Lord Bacon, that able and wise philosopher,
as the first Judge in the Kingdom in this
reign, became a public spectacle of dishonesty
and corruption; and in his base flattery of his
Sowship, and in his crawling servility to his
dog and slave, disgraced himself even more.
But, a creature like his Sowship set upon a
throne is like the Plague, and everybody
receives infection from him.

Now ready, Price 3s. 6d.,
To be completed in three Volumes, of the same size and price.
Collected and revised from " Household Words,"
With a Table of Dates.
The First Volume may also be had of all Booksellers.