Historical Reprints History Love Romances (2 Books in 1 Volume - Large Print)

Love Romances (2 Books in 1 Volume - Large Print)

Love Romances (2 Books in 1 Volume - Large Print)
Catalog # SKU3381
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Thornton Hall
ISBN 10: 1610337301
ISBN 13: 9781610337304
 
$49.95
Quantity

Description

Love Romances

Love Romances of the Aristocracy
Love Affairs of the Courts of Europe
Two Books in One Volume

by
Thornton Hall

My object in writing this book has been to present as many phases as possible of the strangely romantic story of the British Peerage, so that those who have not the time or facilities for exploring the library of books over which these stories are scattered, may be able, within the compass of a single volume, to review the panorama of our aristocracy, with its tragedy and comedy, its romance and pathos, its foibles and its follies, in a few hours of what I sincerely hope will prove agreeable reading. If my book gives to any reader a fraction of the pleasure I have derived from its writing, I shall be more than rewarded for a labour which has been to me a delight.

As love plays a prominent part in at least twenty of these stones, and is only really absent from one or two of them, I venture to hope that my good friends, the reviewers, who have been so kind to my previous books, will not find fault with my title, which, more accurately than a.ny other I can think of, describes the nature and scope of my book.

Large Print, 17 point font

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Excerpt:

Among the many fair and frail women who fed the flames of the "Merrie Monarch's" passion from the first day of his restoration to that last day, but one short week before his death, when Evelyn saw him "sitting and toying with his concubines," there was, it is said, only one of them all who really captured his royal and wayward heart, that loveliest, simplest, and most designing of prudes, La belle Stuart. When Barbara Villiers was enslaving Charles by her opulent charms, the queen of his many mistresses, Frances Stuart was growing to beautiful girlhood, an exile at the French Court, with no dream or care of her future conquest of a king. Her father, a son of Lord Blantyre, had carried his death-dealing sword through many a fight for the first Charles, a distant kinsman of his own; and, when the Stuart sun set in blood, had made good his escape to the friendly shores of France, where he had found a fresh field for his valour.

Meanwhile his daughter was happy in the charge of the widowed Queen Henrietta Maria, who although, as Cardinal de Retz tells us, she frequently "lacked a faggot to leave her bed in the Louvre," and even a crust to stay the pangs of hunger, proved a tender foster-mother to brave Walter Stuart's child, and watched her growth to beauty with a mother's pride.

Even before she emerged from short frocks, Frances Stuart had established herself as the pet par excellence of the Court of France. With Anne of Austria the little Scottish maiden was a prime favourite; every gallant, from "Monsieur" to the rakish Comte de Guise, loved to romp with her, and to join in her peals of childish laughter; and the King himself, Louis XIV., stole many a kiss, and was proud to be called her "big sweetheart." So devoted was His Majesty to La belle Ecossaise that, when her mother talked of taking her away to England, he begged that she would not remove so fair an ornament from his Court, and vowed that he would provide the child with a splendid dower and a noble husband if she would but allow her to remain.

But Madame Stuart had other designs for her pretty daughter; and when Henrietta Maria took boat to England to shine again at the Court of Whitehall, under her son's reign, Frances Stuart joined her retinue, and found herself transported from the schoolroom to the most brilliant and dangerous court in Europe. When this transformation came in her life Walter Stuart's daughter was just blossoming into as sweet and fragrant a flower as ever bloomed in woman's guise. Fair and graceful as a lily, with luxuriant brown hair, eyes of violet, and a proud, dainty little head, she had a figure which, although yet not fully formed, was faultless in its modelling and its exquisite grace. And these physical charms were allied to an unspoiled freshness, which combined the artless fascinations of the child with the allurements of the woman.

Such was Frances Stuart when she made her appearance at the Court of Charles II. as maid-of-honour, to his Queen, Catherine; and one can scarcely wonder that, even among the most beautiful women in England, the French "Mademoiselle," as she was called, was hailed as a new revelation of female fascination, especially as she brought with her the bubbling gaiety and passionate zest of life of the land of her exile.

To the "Merrie Monarch's" senses, sated with riper beauties and more stolid charms, this unspoiled child of nature was as a wild rose compared with exotic hot-house flowers. She was, he vowed, so "dainty, so fresh, so fragrant," that none but the sourest of anchorites could resist her-and he was no anchorite, as the world knew well. Almost at sight of her he fell madly in love with her, and brought to bear on her the battery of all his fascinations. Was ever maid placed, on the threshold of life, in so dangerous a predicament? For the King, who was her first lover, was also one of the most captivating men in England, a past-master in the conquest of woman. But, in response to all his advances, his honeyed words and oglings, the Stuart maid only laughed a merry childish laugh. She would romp with him, as she had done with the gallants at the French Court; to her he was only another "big playfellow" to tease and play with. She knew nothing of love, and did not wish to know more. He might kiss her-vraiment-why not? and that Charles made abundant use of this concession, we know, for we are told that "he would kiss her for half an hour at a time," caring little who looked on.

And all her other Whitehall lovers-a legion of them, from the Duke of Buckingham to the youngest page at Court, she treated in precisely the same way. Was it innocence or artfulness, this assumption of childish prudery? "She was a child," says Count Hamilton, "in all respects save playing with dolls"-a child who refused to grow into a woman, and yet, one shrewdly suspects that behind her childishness was a motive deeper than is usually associated with so much simplicity.

She infected the whole Court with her exuberant youthfulness. Basset-tables and boudoir intrigues were alike deserted to enjoy the new era of nursery games which she inaugurated. Jaded gallants and sedate Ladies of the Bedchamber mingled their shrieks of laughter in blind-man's buff and hunt-the-slipper with the Stuart maid as Lady of Misrule and arch-spirit of jollity. Pepys was shocked-or affected to be-one day by seeing all the great and fair ones of the Court squatting on the floor in the Whitehall gallery playing at "I love my love with an A because he is Amorous"; "I hate him with a B because he is Boring," and so on; and no doubt rocking with glee at some sally of wit, for, Pepys says, "some of them were very witty."

The little madcap even carried her games and toys into the sacred environment of the Audience Chamber. Seated on the floor, innocently exposing the prettiest pair of ankles in England, and surrounded by her big playfellows, she would challenge them to a competition in castle-building with cards; and when her carefully-reared edifice toppled to the ground she would break into a silvery peal of laughter, and clap her hands for the King to come and help her to rebuild it, for no less distinguished assistant would she allow to touch her cards. And Charles never failed to respond to the summons, though he were hobnobbing with chancellor or archbishop, and would be sent away happy, with a kiss for his pains. No wonder poor Pepys was horrified at such unseemly goings-on.

And equally small wonder that the King's mistresses and the great ladies of the Court cast many a jealous and vindictive glance on the child, who had power to lure away their slaves to her nursery shrine. The Duke of Buckingham, himself, was prouder to be her favourite playfellow than of all his conquests in the field of love. He wrote songs, and sang them for her pleasure; he kept her in a ripple of laughter for hours together by his stories and clever mimicry, and rushed to her side whenever she summoned him to build card-castles or to join in a romp-until what was "play to the child" began to prove a serious matter to the man of the world. He found that, while he was building castles or chasing the elusive fairy blindfolded, she had stolen his heart away; but when he ventured to tell his love to her she boxed his ears, and told him to run away and not be so naughty again.




616 pages - 8½ x 11 softcover
ISBN-10: 1610337301
ISBN-13: 9781610337304

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