CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES

(Detail of Children of Charles I.)

The Prince Charles of our picture was the son of Charles I. and Henrietta Maria, and bore the title of the Prince of Wales. He was born on the morning of May 29, 1630, and there was great rejoicing in the royal household that he was a fine strong baby. The king at once rode in state to St. Paul's Cathedral to give thanks for the birth of an heir. While the procession was on its way a bright star appeared in the noonday sky. This was hailed as a good omen, and an epigram was composed on the occasion:—

"When to Paul's Cross the grateful King drew near,
A shining star did in the heavens appear.
Thou that consultest with bright mysteries
Tell me what this bright wanderer signifies?"
"Now there is born a valiant prince i' the west,
That shall eclipse the kingdoms of the east."

A month later the baby's baptism was celebrated with great solemnity in the chapel at St. James. The famous Laud, Bishop of London, officiated, and the sponsors were Louis XIII. of France, Marie de Médicis, and the Elector Palatine, all represented by proxies. There were wonderful christening presents, among them a jewel of great value brought by the old Duchess of Richmond.

The new-born prince did not grow into a pretty baby. Even his mother, who would naturally wish to praise him, wrote to a friend in France that he was "so ugly she was ashamed of him." "But," she added, "his size and fatness supply the want of beauty. I wish you could see the gentleman, for he has no ordinary mien; he is so serious in all that he does that I cannot help deeming him far wiser than myself." A few years later the child became a pretty boy, with a fine figure, brown complexion, and large, bright black eyes. His mouth, however, remained very ugly.

The prince's earliest years were passed happily, and no one could have foreseen the stormy experiences through which he must pass before he should inherit the throne of his father. The king and queen were devoted to each other and to their children. There was a younger boy, Prince James, and three sisters, to complete the family circle.[16] It is pleasant to imagine them at play in the royal nursery.

[16] That is, Princess Mary, Princess Elizabeth, and Princess Anne. Prince Henry was only an infant when the family circle was broken up, and Princess Henrietta was not born until 1644, while the Civil War was actually in progress.

The young Prince of Wales had for his governor the Earl of Newcastle. We read of a letter written at the age of eight and addressed to this nobleman.

CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES Royal Gallery, Turin
CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES
Royal Gallery, Turin

The contents refer wittily to the governor's advice about taking medicine:—

"My lord,

"I would not have you take too much phisike for it doth always make me worse; and I think it will doe the like with you. I ride every day, and am ready to follow any other directions from you. Make haste back to him that loves you,

"Charles P."

We see from this that the boy was early taught to ride, and was doubtless trained in all manly sports. In the Stuart household dogs were the favorite pets, and the young Charles seems always to have been accompanied by one, now a collie, now a spaniel, now a great boarhound. The queen had a peculiar fancy for dwarfs, which were in this period common playthings of royalty. Little Geoffrey Hudson, eighteen inches high, was an important member of the court, having been presented to Henrietta Maria in a huge pie.[17]

[17] As we read in Scott's novel, Peveril of the Peak.

In our picture Prince Charles is about five years old. At this age, in our modern fashions, a boy is dressed quite differently from a girl. Here, however, the little prince's finery and his round lace cap somewhat belie his manliness. Yet his short hair cut in a straight fringe across the forehead is his boy's prerogative. The wide lace collar was worn by men as well as boys, as we may see in the portraits of the king and of the Duke of Lennox. We speak of it to-day as a "Van Dyck collar."

The child has a winning face, with large round eyes and a mouth which the flattering painter has shaped like a Cupid's bow. Though the expression is perfectly child-like, there is a certain dignity in the pose of the head, which makes the boy appear mature beyond his years. Evidently Van Dyck meant everybody to know that this was a prince.