By water with Mr. Hill towards my Lord’s lodging and so to my Lord. With him to Whitehall, where I left him and went to Mr. Holmes to deliver him the horse of Dixwell’s that had staid there fourteen days at the Bell.
So to my Lord’s lodgings, where Tom Guy came to me, and there staid to see the King touch people for the King’s evil. But he did not come at all, it rayned so; and the poor people were forced to stand all the morning in the rain in the garden. Afterward he touched them in the Banquetting-house.1
Met with Mr. Chetwind, and dined with him at Hargrave’s, the Cornchandler, in St. Martin’s Lane, where a good dinner, where he showed me some good pictures, and an instrument he called an Angelique. With him to London, changing all my Dutch money at Backwell’s for English, and then to Cardinal’s Cap, where he and the City Remembrancer who paid for all.
Back to Westminster, where my Lord was, and discoursed with him awhile about his family affairs. So he went away, I home and wrote letters into the country, and to bed.
- This ceremony is usually traced to Edward the Confessor, but there is no direct evidence of the early Norman kings having touched for the evil. Sir John Fortescue, in his defence of the House of Lancaster against that of York, argued that the crown could not descend to a female, because the Queen is not qualified by the form of anointing her, used at the coronation, to cure the disease called the King’s evil. Burn asserts, “History of Parish Registers,” 1862, p. 179, that “between 1660 and 1682, 92,107 persons were touched for the evil.” Everyone coming to the court for that purpose, brought a certificate signed by the minister and churchwardens, that he had not at any time been touched by His Majesty. The practice was supposed to have expired with the Stuarts, but the point being disputed, reference was made to the library of the Duke of Sussex, and four several Oxford editions of the Book of Common Prayer were found, all printed after the accession of the house of Hanover, and all containing, as an integral part of the service, “The Office for the Healing.” The stamp of gold with which the King crossed the sore of the sick person was called an angel, and of the value of ten shillings. It had a hole bored through it, through which a ribbon was drawn, and the angel was hanged about the patient’s neck till the cure was perfected. The stamp has the impression of St. Michael the Archangel on one side, and a ship in full sail on the other. “My Lord Anglesey had a daughter cured of the King’s evil with three others on Tuesday.” — MS. Letter of William Greenhill to Lady Bacon, dated December 31st, 1629, preserved at Audley End. Charles II. “touched” before he came to the throne. “It is certain that the King hath very often touched the sick, as well at Breda, where he touched 260 from Saturday the 17 of April to Sunday the 23 of May, as at Bruges and Bruxels, during the residence he made there; and the English assure … it was not without success, since it was the experience that drew thither every day, a great number of those diseased even from the most remote provinces of Germany.” — Sir William Lower’s Relation of the Voiage and Residence which Charles the II. hath made in Holland, Hague, 1660, p. 78. Sir William Lower gives a long account of the touching for the evil by Charles before the Restoration. ↩