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Here was stationed Rupert of the Rhine, in obedience to his master's summons, waiting to receive the invaders. Philosophy, reading, and the fine arts had to be once more cast aside for the sword an l battle cry of former days. The Dutch fleet came on proudly, as though now that they had forced their way so far, they thought nobody could dare to oppose them. All seemed quiet, and they believed themselves safe, but in a moment Upnor Castle opened upon them with a blaze and roar of fire. Quick and hot it rained upon the bewildered vessels, who lurched and swayed beneath it, while one after another their masts fell with a crashing noise, in answer to the rattling guns, and the sailors, as soon as ever they could get the ships about, fled panic-struck and dismayed at the sudden and much too warm welcome they had received from the hands of the far-famed Rupert. This put an end to the business. No Dutchman cared to show his face again in the Thames after that short visit, and the Prince, feeling comfortably assured that they would hardly return any more for the present, went back again to his peaceful studies at Windsor, being determined, so far as it was possible for him, to keep away from the Court. He was appointed governor of Windsor Castle, and the King allowed him to have his leisure time in peace, for, however much he might have wished to honour him for his great services to the cause of the Cavaliers, he yet could never have found in Rupert a congenial companion or friend.
In 1672 his services were yet once more claimed by Charles. The discontents and jealousies be
tween England and Holland had been for a while silenced, but not got rid of, and therefore Rupert, so successful before, was again summoned to take command of the royal fleet. The Prince was at this time fifty-three years of age, but was ready and active still for service, though without the impetuous haste and burning desire for glory that had marked his earlier years. He had seen how much of vanity and bitterness is to be found in all earthly pursuits and ambitions, even when fully gratified; and he had seen too, in his time, how heavily sorrow may bear down upon the highest rank and truest virtues.
The people “all over the kingdom” rejoiced that Rupert was again chosen to be their champion. They knew “his high courage, conduct, and long experience, in affairs military by sea and land.” But above all it would appear, from an old
” pamphlet of the times, the people rejoiced that their champion should be such a true and constant Protestant as Rupert had ever shown himself to be in all changes of fortune : for at this time Roman Catholics were, to the dismay of the masses of the people, known to be making themselves very popular and important in many
of the circles nearest royalty, while James Duke of York, the heir-apparent to the throne, was an avowed Romanist. Several actions took place with various results, in which Rupert acquitted himself with his usual gallantry, though the Prince bad but a half heart in the enterprise, for Charles had opened up a system of double dealing, in which he strove by underhand means to make terms with France, while ostensibly he sent men and ships to give her battle.
In August 1673 the Prince took part in an action against the Dutch, which was the last active service he ever appeared in. Immediately afterwards he retired from a war in which he could feel no interest, and which without gaining any desirable object, or carrying out any duty, was expensive and annoying to the English people.
Henceforward there is not much to tell of the concluding years of Rupert's life. Few events broke the monotony of these last years, when the Prince rested in olå England. His life has been compared to a stormy day, closing in with a quiet evening. The first wild gust of the tempest broke over his head, when, while still an infant, he shared in the flight of his parents from Bohemia. During his childhood the atmosphere continued sullen and angry; his father's unhappy wanderings and death, and his mother's struggles with poverty, were the accompaniments of his years of study in Holland. His long and dreary imprisonment, at an age and time when he burned to fight for his father's ancient rights in the Palatinate of the Rhine, fell like a persistent rain on all his hopes. The years he spent in fierce contention amid the horrors of civil war, fighting with all his energies for the honour and safety of his hapless uncle, passed by like a furious thunderstorm, leaving devastation behind it. His vain efforts when driven from land, to support the royal cause at sea, were like the fitful gusts of the dying tempest, until at length the wind sunk to a permanent lull, as the worn-out philosopher-warrior, the old champion-chief of the Cavaliers, retired to end his days in his high tower at Windsor Castle.
The testimony of an old writer to his character at this time is very interesting. “In respect to his private life," he writes, “he was so just, so beneficent, so courteous, that his memory remained dear to all who knew him. This I
say of my own knowledge, having often heard old people in Berkshire speak in raptures of Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert died on November 29, 1682, in the sixty-third year of his age, at peace with all the worid.
His name should be dear to all loyal subjects and good Churchmen, as of one who, however unfortunate and unsuccessful, fought with devotion and unstained courage for his King and our beloved Church.
* Campbell's Admirals, vol. ii. 230.
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