Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
 
The King’s Coming to Oxon
By Anthony Wood (1632–1695)
 
From The Life and Times

ABOUT one or two of the clock in the afternoon, upon notice of the King’s (Charles II.) approach, went from the Cross Inn and other inns adjoining James (Bertie) Lord Norrys, Lord Lieutenant, with the loyal gentry of the county, to meet his majesty coming from Windsor (across the road) by Tetsworth to meet the queen, who came straight from London. He (the said Lord Norrys) had two or three horses of state led before him, richly adorned. After him went Sir Thomas Spencer, Bt., in the head of one of the militia troops of the county. And after him Captain Henry Bertie (the lord lieutenant’s brother) in the head of another troop, with two horses of state in the like livery as those before; with trumpets sounding, having the lord’s livery on, and flags to their trumpets containing the lord’s arms and quarterings. Between two and three of the clock proceeded by twos on foot from the Guildshall down the High Street about eighteen constables of the city and suburbs of Oxon with their painted and gilt staves. Next to them were the four sergeants-at-mace, two on foot and two on horseback, with their silver staves erected. Then the macebearer, and town-clerk (John Paynton) with a chain of silver gilt about his neck (a Royalist this day, and when the times serve a Cromwellian). After these rode the loyal mayor, John Bowell, Esq., in his scarlet gown, and a livery on one side walking by his horse, and on the other the recorder on horseback in his black gown. After them the aldermen, thirteen baylives, and such that had been baylives, to the number of about twenty-four, all in scarlet gowns, faced with fur, and each person with a livery servant by his side, to lead their horses in case they should strike out and disturb the formality. After these rode, by twos also, the rest of the house and common council (about sixty in number) in their black gowns, faced with fur. All which being come to the east gate made a stop. Soon after the king approaching within the gate, the mayor, recorder, and some of the scarleteers alighted, while the rest put themselves out to march before the king. The coach being by the king commanded to stand, the mayor and recorder knelt down on a mat by the coach side, the latter of which (being the city mouth), very smoothly spake an English speech. Which, being concluded, the mayor surrendered up the gestamen of his authority. Which being graciously returned (and thereupon a rich pair of gloves was delivered to his majesty and another to the queen) they mounted and marched bare-headed the same way they went, not in like order as they went down, but the black first, then the scarleteers next, and just before the king’s coach the mayor with the mace on his shoulder, respectively put thereon by the mace-bearer. Behind their majesties’ coach marched the life-guard and after them other coaches of his majesty’s retinue. Then went the lord-lieutenant, high sheriff, gentry of the county, and their liveries; among whom was one of the knights of the shire called Sir Philip Harcourt, who though of most ancient and noble extract and of a generous and sweet nature, yet fame tells us that he is tinged with Presbyterian leaven, but whether he will appear so in the parliament house we cannot yet tell. And lastly went the county troops, buff-coated and well horsed. In this order they passed to Quatervoys (the market place) and thence down the South Street to Christ Church, where their majesties intend to lodge during their abode in this place. But that which is most to be noted is that all the way the king passed were such shoutings, acclamations, and ringing of bells, made by loyal hearts and smart lads of the laity of Oxon, that the air was so much pierced that the clouds seemed to divide. The general cry was “Long live King Charles,” and many drawing up to the very coach window cried “Let the king live, and the devil hang up all Roundheads,” at which his majesty smiled and seemed well pleased. The throng and violence of people to express their affections was such that the coach was scarce able to pass. The youths were all on fire, and when love and joy are mixed, cannot but follow rudeness and boisterousness. Their hats did continually fly, and, seriously, had you been there, you would have thought that they would have thrown away their very heads and legs. Here was an arm for joy flung out of joint and there a leg displaced, but by what art they can find their way back let the Royal Society tell you. ’Twas observed by some of our curiosi that as the king passed westward up the High Street, the small rain that then fell, which was driven by the west wind, was returned back all the way in that street at least a man’s length by the very strength of voices and hummings. This perhaps might be thought incredible, but I’ll assure you, I, being then in a stationer’s shop, did partly observe it in myself, and had I not been so much diverted by the zealous rage of young blood, I might have given it in upon mine oath. At the king’s coming into the most spacious quadrangle of Christ Church, what by the shouts and the melodious ringing of the ten stately bells there, the college sounded and the buildings did learn from its scholars to echo forth his majesty’s welcome. You might have heard it ring again and again: “Welcome! welcome!! thrice welcome!!! Charles the great!”
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  After nine at night were bonfires made in several streets, wherein were only wanting rumps and cropped ears to make the flame burn merrily; and at some were tables of refection erected by our bonny youths, who being e’en mad with joy, forced all that passed by to carouse on their knees a health to their beloved Charles.  2
 
 
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