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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Thomas Carew and Queen Henrietta Maria

Here's a little anecdote from the early 1630s that I hadn't come across before, which may or may not be true:
Queen Henrietta Maria. -- Thomas Carew, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, going to light King Charles into her chamber, saw [Henry] Jermyn Lord St. Albans with his arm around her neck; -- he stumbled and put out the light; -- Jermyn escaped. Carew never told the King, and the King never knew it. The Queen heaped favours on Carew.
Historic Manuscripts Commission, 7th Report, p. 244.

There's one other little detail worth mentioning: In 1636, William Davenant, servant to her Queen's Majesty, dedicated The Platonic Lovers to Jermyn. Nice.

  • At 4/11/2006 11:52:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    That's a great story; who's reporting it?

    Speaking of Carew, I love these lines from his elegy for John Donne:

    Here lies a king that ruled, as he thought fit,
    The universal monarchy of wit ...

    Great lines, perfectly capturing the combination of decorum, orderliness, and political high-handedness that characterized Charles's court (in addition to claiming Donne as a patron poet of that monarchical style--rather as Laud tried to claim Lancelot Andrews, posthumously, as a predecessor). There are some connections between wit--which encompasses not merely cleverness but also propriety and sprezzatura as a sense of kairos--and the decorum that Carew displays in this anecdote, where even his turning a blind eye is cast as an accidental "stumble" so as not to imply that he actually "put out the light" as a result of what he witnessed.


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