The title is part of a Dutch rhym. Interesting the fact that the Charles mentioned in the rhym and the Charles of this post maybe have nothing in common but dogs. But I love it. This post give us a vivid, but incomplete frame of the lighearted character of King Charles II.
The excerpts are taken from the publication of Osmund Airy: “Charles II” , if not otherwise indicated. This publication is downloadable at archive.org.
CHARLES’ DOZEN DOGS
“The King always lying in his own bedchamber, we had a bed placed each night to be near him, and when the page of the back stairs lighted us from the room where we undressed, on his retiring we shut up the door on the inside with a brass knob, and so went to bed. Several circumstances made the lodging very uneasy—the great grate being filled with Scotch coal that burned all night, a dozen dogs that came to our bed, and several pendulums that struck at the half, quarter, and all not going alike, it was a continual chiming. The King being constantly used to it, it was habitual.”—Thomas Bruce. (Charles II, Osmund Airy, p. 411)
THE KING’S ACTIVE HABITS
“The King’s magnificent constitution was supported by his active habits. Seldom he passed a day without visiting the tennis court “as early as there was light enough to see clearly. In the summer he was there at five in the morning. At eight, he told Clarendon* at Council, “I am now going to take my usual physicke at Tennis”. “He was devoted to every form of open-air sport, especially hunting. When not hunting, he generally walked three or four hours a day.”
“Long after eleven at night, [the King] sat writing to his sister, “So sleepye as I hope you will pardon the shortnesse of it,” and in three in the morning was on his horse for Audley End, where he used to stay for the race.”
*Edward Hyde Clarendon, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674)
HIS MILD TEMPER
“The urban nonchalance of Charles was but seldom ruffled, and the storm was soon over. One episode of a loss of self-control was when Henry Savile, one of his gentlemen voted for the address against Lauderdale in the House of Commons in 1678:
“The King was mightily displeased against him, and to so high a degree, that when he was late that night going to bed, and Savile coming in after his ordinary way, the King upon the first sight of him fell into such a passion, that his face and lips became as pale (almost ) as death, his cheeks and armes trembled, and then he said to Savile, ‘You Villayne, how dare you have the impudence to come into my presence when you are guilty of such baseness as you have shown this day. I doe now and from henceforth discharge you from my service, commanding you never to come any more into my presence, nor to any place where I shall happen to be.’
It surprised no one to hear that Savile was in attendance again in a few days.”
“The cup of pleasure was filled deep for [Charles], and he grasped it with both hands. But pleasure is not happiness. There is no happiness for him who lives and dies without beliefs, without enthusiasm, and without love.”—Osmund Airy.