Letter to Carterhaugh from Whitehall, April
It seems months since I have written, but a lifetime of events have occurred since! First, Stephen arrived home unhurt at the end of March after that skirmish with the Dutch. He surprised me by showing up at the Banqueting House during the Gods and Goddesses Ball and took me in his arms. A lovely end to the evening.
For me, at least. Our dear Queen Catherine lost the baby she has so hoped for and then her mother died, so we all donned more somber colors in mourning. I took private pleasure in seeing how lovely and fresh Mrs. Frances Stuart looked and how pale and unkempt Lady Castlemaine looked without her paint and powder.
Whitehall in spring blooms with intrigue and new arrivals. The Duke and Duchess of Hamilton have come to stay in the palace, and the Queen Mother has also come to visit her son, I presume. At a recent gathering, she took ill and was quickly attended in the Queen's chambers. Upon recovering, she blamed the Protestants for her illness
I fear my ward Elizabeth Malet may soon be remanded back to her stepfather, as she has fallen in with bad company, namely John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester. I know that she sneaks about with him though she demurs in acknowledging it. Too many people have informed me otherwise, though I have yet to mention it to Stephen. He already thinks poorly of Rochester.
On a brighter note, Stephen also returned with trunks and crates of glorious fabric taken from a Dutch ship. Our dressmakers have been busy creating gorgeous gowns, styled with elements of French, Italian, and Dutch design, all to create a very English look in our Court! Naturally, I get my pick of them first, but I also offer them to the Queen and Frances too.
Stephen has been down to the docks and Whitehall every day this week and I fear it means he will be returning to sea shortly. He speaks of us sailing to Ireland to assess his family's landholdings the King restored when he was made Earl, but I've no desire to leave London anytime soon, especially with the King's birthday celebration on 21 May.
Now, for the news I have not even hinted at, but eager to reveal: Castlemaine is banished! She angered the King over a matter I do not know of, but it was enough for him to order her to her husband's country estate for an indefinite period! Perhaps I am too giddy, as I myself was sent from Court for a few days for publicly posting a rude verse about Castlemaine by that Rochester, but that has subsided in the wake of her breach with the King.
I must close, Rose dearest. I long to see you soon!