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Flight and return of James IIPrevious page: Arrival of William of Orange
James still remained at Whitehall, vainly endeavouring to find some means of escape out of his difficulties, and at last determined to quit the kingdom; but having to put in at Faversham for ballast was recognised and rather rudely treated.
He had to return to Whitehall and open negotiations again with William, who sent word from Windsor that his guards were to be deployed around the palace and city, and that James must retire to some distant place.
James again took flight, and got as far as Rochester, but was persuaded to return, and on Sunday went publicly to Mass, and dined in public, a Jesuit saying grace (Evelyn was present and tells the tale).
At the Council he refused to assent to any of William's proposals, and then Evelyn sees the King take barge to go to Gravesend. William arrives and fills both St. James's and Whitehall with his Dutch guards and all the world goes to see the Prince at St. James's.
Evelyn describes him as very stately, serious and reserved, a demeanour from which he seems never to have departed. It was on this last memorable journey of James to Gravesend that the Great Seal of England was thrown into the Thames, to he afterwards fished out again.
William's consort, Mary the Second, did not arrive until some weeks afterwards, on February 12th, 1689. She and her taciturn husband were proclaimed Queen and King the next day.
Evelyn expresses himself as rather shocked at Mary's conduct. He expected she would have shown some seeming reluctance in assuming her father's crown, but she came into Whitehall laughing and jolly as to a wedding.
She rose early the next morning, and in her undress before her women were up, went about from room to room to see the convenience of Whitehall, lay in the same bed and apartment in which the late Queen lay, and within a night or two sat down to play at bassett as the Queen her predecessor had done.
This passage in Evelyn's diary requires a little explanation, because at first sight one would have thought that Mary would have been quite conversant with the palace at Whitehall.
But James II. had rebuilt the Queen's apartments there, facing south, along one side of the Privy Garden, and had added a new chapel as part of the suite, with a grand marble altarpiece, and a magnificent ceiling painted by Verrio. All this part of the palace was entirely new to Mary, and hence her curiosity, which under the circumstances was pardonable.
Next page: Fire in Whitehall ends an age of palaces
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