Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Text of the Governor-General's Restoration Day Speech

On Restoration Day, 2008.
My Fellow Loyal Subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen in this Realm, it is my privilege to address you on this the three hundred forty-eighth anniversary of the Triumphal return of HM King Charles the second and the Restoration of the Monarchy.

His parents, Charles I and Henrietta Maria (daughter of Henry IV of France), who had been married in 1626, had a child named Charles James born to them in March 1629, but who did not live above a day. Their second infant, who was destined to live and to reign, saw the light on the 29th of May 1630, his birth being distinguished by the appearance, it was said, of a star at midday.

The restoration of the king, after a twelve years' interregnum from the death of his father, naturally brought into public view some of the remarkable events of his intermediate life. None took a more prominent place than what had happened in September 1651, immediately after his Scottish army had been overthrown by Cromwell at Worcester. It was heretofore obscurely, but now became clearly known, that the royal person had for a day been concealed in a bushy oak in a Shropshire forest, while the Commonwealth's troopers were ranging about in search of the fugitives from the late battle. The incident was romantic and striking in itself, and, in proportion to the joy in having the king once more in his legal place, was the interest felt in the tree by which he had been to all appearance providentially preserved. The ROYAL OAK accordingly became one of the familiar domestic ideas of the English people. A spray of oak in the hat was the badge of a loyalist on the recurrence of the Restoration-day. A picture of an oak tree, with a crowned figure sitting amidst the branches, and a few dragoons scouring about the neighbouring ground, was assumed as a sign upon many a tavern in town and country. Some taverns still bear at least the name—one in Paddington, near London). And 'Oak Apple-day' became a convertible term for the Restoration-day among the rustic population.

It was on his thirtieth birthday, the 29th of May 1660, that the distresses and vicissitudes of his early life were closed by his triumphal entry as king into London. His restoration might properly be dated from the 8th of May, when he was proclaimed as sovereign of the three kingdoms in London: but the day of his entry into the metropolis, being also his birthday, was adopted as the date of that happy event. Never had England known a day of greater happiness. Defend the Commonwealth who may—make a hero of Protector Oliver with highest eloquence and deftest literary art—the intoxicated delight of the people in getting quit of them, and all connected with them, is their sufficient condemnation. The truth is, it had all along been a government of great difficulty, and a government of difficulty must needs be tyrannical. The old monarchy, ill-conducted as it had been under Charles I, shone white by comparison. It was happiness overmuch for the nation to get back under it, with or without guarantees for its better behaviour in future. An army lately in rebellion joyfully marshalled the king along from Dover to London.

Thousands of mounted gentleman joined the escort, brandishing their swords, and shouting with inexpressible joy.' Evelyn saw the king arrive, and set down a note of it in his diary. He speaks of the way strewed with flowers; the streets hung with tapestry; the bells madly ringing; the fountains running with wine; the magistrates and the companies all out in their ceremonial dresses—chains of gold, and banners; nobles in cloth of silver and gold; the windows and balconies full of ladies; ’trumpets, music, and myriads of people flocking even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven hours in passing the city, even from two in the afternoon till nine at night.' 'It was the Lord's doing,' he piously adds; unable to account for so happy a revolution as coming about by the ordinary chain of causes and effects.

It belongs more particularly to the purpose to state, that among the acts passed by parliament immediately after, was one enacting 'That in all succeeding ages the 29th of May be celebrated in every church and chapel in England, and the dominions thereof, by rendering thanks to God for the king's peaceable restoration to actual possession and exercise of his legal authority over his subjects,' &c. The service for the Restoration, like that for the preservation from the Gunpowder Treason, and the death of Charles I, was kept up till the year 1859.

These solemn holidays are restored from this day forward on the Calendar of this Government.

At the coronation of Charles II, the first triumphal arch erected in Leadenhall Street, near Lime Street, for the king to pass under on his way from the Tower to Westminster, is described in Ogilby's contemporary account of the ceremony as having in its centre a figure of Charles, royally attired, behind whom, 'on a large table, is deciphered the Royal Oak bearing crowns and sceptres instead of acorns; amongst the leaves, in a label
"----------- Miraturque novas Frondes et non sua poma."
(----------- Leaves unknown Admiring, and strange apples not her own.)

The dispensers of patronage under the Restoration had no enviable office. The entry of Charles II into his kingdom was no sooner known, than all who had any claim, however slight, upon royal consideration, hastened to exercise the right of petition. Ignoring the Convention of Breda, by which the king bound himself to respect the status quo as far as possible, the nobility and gentry sought to recover their alienated estates, clergymen prayed to be rein-stated in the pulpits from which they had been ejected, and old placeholders demanded the removal of those who had pushed them from their official stools. Secretary Nicholas was overwhelmed with claims on account of risks run, sufferings endured, goods supplied, and money advanced on behalf of the good cause; petitions which might have been endorsed, like that of the captain who entreated the wherewithal to supply his wants and pay his debts, 'The king says he cannot grant anything in this kind till his own estates be better settled.'

The brief abstracts of the memorials of less active partisans speak even more eloquently of the misery wrought by civil strife. Thomas Freebody solicits admission among the poor knights of Windsor, having been imprisoned seven times, banished twice, and compelled on three occasions to find sureties for a thousand pounds. James Towers was forced, on account of his loyalty, to throw dice for his life; and, winning the cast, was banished. Thomas Holyoke, a clergyman, saw his aged father forced from his habitation, his mother beaten so that her death was hastened, his servant killed, while he was deprived of property bringing in £300 a-year, and obliged to live on the charity of commiserating friends. Another clergyman recounts how he suffered imprisonment for three years, and was twice corporally punished for preaching against rebellion and using the Common Prayer-book.

Sir Edward Pierce, advocate at Doctors' Commons, followed Charles I to York as judge marshal of the army, which he augmented by a regiment of horse. He lost thereby his property, his profession, and his books; 'was decimated and imprisoned, yet wrote and published at much danger and expense many things very serviceable to king and church.'

There is a well-known anecdote of a silent man, who, riding over a bridge, turned about and asked his servant if he liked eggs, to which the servant answered, 'Yes;' whereupon nothing more passed till next year, when, riding over the same bridge, he turned about to his servant once more, and said, 'How?' to which. the instant answer was, 'Poached, sir.' Even this sinks, as an example of long intermission of discourse, beside an anecdote of a minister of Campsie, near Glasgow. It is stated that the worthy pastor, whose name was Archibald Denniston, was put out of his charge in 1655, and not replaced till after the Restoration. He had, before leaving his charge, begun a discourse, and finished the first head. At his return in 1661, he took up the second, calmly introducing it with the remark that 'the times were altered, but the doctrines of the gospel were always the same.'

The interregnum in England lasted 12 years. Our own fair dominion has now be unlawfully separated from its rightful crown for two hundred years. Nonetheless, though the times have altered, still the doctrines of the Gospels, and of Proper Governance have not.

We shall have again our Sovereign, and we will one day again enjoy the fruits of God and Crown Governance.

Bo Register, Marquess of Mobile, Baron Von Servers of Fayette,
Her Majesty's Governor-General in and for the Dominion of British West Florida

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