صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Richard, J it was consonant to the manners of that bas. barous and turbuleut age, and not till after the queen's party bad taken up arms. That the execution of Lord Hastings, who had first engaged with Richard against the queen, and whom Sir Thomas More confesses Richard was luth to lose, can be accounted for by nothing but absolute necessity, and the law of self-defence. That Richard's assumption of the protectorate was in every respecí agreeable to the laws and usage; was probably bestowed on hiin by the universal consent of tlie council and peers, and was a strong indication that he had then no thought of questioning the right of his nephew. That the tale of Richard aspersing the chastity of his own mother is incredible; it appearing that he lived with her in perfect harmony, and lodged with her in her palace at that very time. That it is as little credible that Richard gained the crown by a sermon of Dr. Shaw, and a speech of the Duke of Buckingham, if the people ouly laughed at those orators. That there had been a precontract or marriage between Edward the Fourth and Lady Eleanor Talbot * ; and that Richard's claim to the crown was founded on the illegitimacy of Edward's children. That a convention of the nobility, clergy, and people, invited him to accept the crown on that title. That the ensuing parliament ratified the act of the convention, and confirmed the bastardy of Edward's children. That nothing can be more improbable than Richard's having taken no mesures before he left London to have his nephews mur ered, if he had had any such intention. That the story of Sir James Tirrei, as related by Sir Thomas More, is a notorious falsehood ; Sir James Tirrel being at that time inaster of the horse, in which capacity he had walked at Richard's coronation. That Tirrel's jealousy of Sir Richard Ratcliffe is another palpable falsehood; Tirrel beiny already preferred, and Rateliffe absent, That all that relates to Sir Robert Brakenbury is no less false : Brakenbury either being too good a man to die for a tyrant or murderer, or too bad a man to have rea' fused being his accomplice. That Sir Thomas More and Lord Bacon hoth confess that many doubted whether the two princes were murdered in Richard days or not; and it certainly never was proved that they were murdered by Richard's order. That Sir Thomas

* Or Butler, by marriage.

More relied on nameless and uncertain authority: that it appears bydates and facts that his authorities were bad and false ; that if Sir James Tirrel and Dighton had really committed the murder and confessed it, and if Perkin Warbeck had made a voluntary, clear, and probable confession of his iinposture, there could have remained no doubt of the murder. That Green, the nameless page, and Will Slaughter, having never been questioned about the murder, there is no reason to believe what is related of them in the supposed tragedy. That Sir James Tirrel not being aitainted on the death of Richard, but having, on the contrary, been employed in great services by Henry the Seventh, it is not probable that he was one of the murderers. That Lord Bacon owning that Tirrel's confession did not please the king so well as Dighton's ; that Tirrel's imprisonment and execution some years afterwards for a new treason, of which we have no evidence, and which appears to have been mere suspicion, destroy all probability of his guilt in the supposed murder of the children. That the impunity of Dighton, if really guilty, was scandalous; and can only be accounted for on the supposition of his being a false witness to serve Henry's cause against Perkin Warbeck. That the silence of the two archbishops, and Henry's not daring to specify the murder of the princes in the act of attainder against Richard, wears all the appearance of their not having been murdered. That Richard's tenderness and kindness to the Earl of Warwick, proceeding so far as to proclaim him his successor, betrays ño symptom of that cruel nature which would not stick at assassinating any competitor. That it is indubitable that Richard's first idea was to keep the crown but till Edward the Fifth should attain the age of twenty-four. That with this view he did not create his own son Prince of Wales till after he had proved the bastardy of his brother's children. That there is no proof that those children were murdered. That Richard made, or intended to make, his nephew, Edward the Fifth, walk at his coronation. That there is strong presumption, from the parliament-roll and from the Chronicle of Croyland, that both princes were living some time after Sir Thoinas More fixes the date of their deaths. That when his own son was dead, Richard was so far from' intending to get rid of his wife, that he proclaimed his nephews, first the Earl of Warwick, and then the Earl of Lincoln, his heirs apparent. That there is not the least probability of his having poisoned his wife, who died of a languishing distemper: that no proof was ever pretended to be given of it; that a bare supposition of such a crime, without proofs or very strong presumptions, is scarce ever to be credited. That he seems to have had no intention of marrying his niece, but to have amused her with the hopes of that match, to prevent her marrying Richmond. That Buck would not have dared to quote her letter as extant in the Earl of Arundel's library, if it had not been there: that others of Buck's assertions having been corroborated by subsequent discoveries, leave no doubt of his veracity on this; and that letter disculpates Richard from poisoning his wife; and only shews the impatience of his niece to be queen. That it is probable the queen dowager knew her second son was living, and connived at the appearance of Lambert Simpel, to feel the temper of the nation. That Henry VII. certainly thought that she and the Earl of Lincoln were privy to the existence of Richard Duke of York, and that Henry lived in terror of his appearance. That the different conduct of Henry, with regard to Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, implies how different an opinion he had of them ; that, in the first case, he used the most natural and most rational methods to prove him an iinpostor; whereas his whole behaviour in Perkin's case was mysterious, and betrayed his belief or doubt that Warbeck was the true Duke of York. That it was morally impossible for the Duchess of Burgundy, at the distance of twenty-seven years, to instruct a Flemish lad so perfectly in all that had passed in the court of England, that he would not have been detected in a few hours. That she could not inform him, nor could he know, what had passed in the tower, unless he was the true Duke of York. That if he was not the true Duke of York, Henry had nothing to do but to confront him with Tirrel and Dighton, and the imposture must have been discovered. That Perkin, never being confronted with the queen-dowager, and the princesses her daughters, proves that Henry did not dare to trust to their acknowledging him. That if he was not the true Duke of York, he might have been detected by not knowing the queens and princesses, if shewn to him, without his being told who they were. That it is not pretended that Perkin ever failed in language, accent, or circumstances; and that his likeness to Edward the Fourth is als

lowed. That there are gross and manifest blunders in his pretended confession. That Henry was so afraid of not. ascertaining a good account of the purity of his English accent, that he makes him learn English twice over.

That Lord Bacon did not dare to adhere to this ridiculous account; but forges another, though, in reality, not much more credible. That a number of Henry's best friends, as the Lord Chamberlain, who placed the crown on his head, knights of the garter, and men of the fairest characters, being persuaded that Perkin was the true, Duke of York, and dying for that belief, without recanting, makes it very rash to deny that he was so. That the proclamation in Rymer's Fædera against Jane Shore, for plotting with the Marquis Dorset, not with Lord Hastings, destroys all the credit of Sir Thomas More, as to what relates to the latter peer.

In short, that Henry's character, as we have received it from his own apologists, is so much worse and more hateful than Richard's, that we may well believe Henry invented and propagated by far the greater part of the slanders against Richard : that Henry, not Richard, probably put to death the true Duke of York, as he did the Earl of Warwick; and that we are not certain whether Edward the Fifth was murdered; nor, if he was, by whose order he was murdered.

After all that has been said, it is scarce necessary to add a word on the supposed discovery that was made of the skeletons of the two youny princes, in the reign of Charles the Second. Two skeletons found in that dark abyss of so many secret transactions, with no marks to ascertain the time, or the age of their interinent, can certainly verify nothing. We must believe both princes died there, before we can believe that their bones were found there: and upon what that belief can be founded, or how we shall cease to doubt whether Perkin Warbeck was not one of those children, I am at a loss to guess.

As little is it requisite to argue on the grants made by Richard the Third to his supposed accomplices in that murder, because the argument will serve either way. It was very natural that they, who had tasted most of Richard's, bounty, should be suspected as the instruments of his crimes. But till it can be proved that those crimes were committed, it is in vain to bring evidence to show who assisted him in perpetrating them. Indeed one knows not what to think of the death of Edward the Fifth: one qan neither entirely acquit Richard of it, nur condemn

him; because there are no proofs on either side; and though a court of justice would, from that defect of evidence, absolve him ; opinion may fluctuate backwards and forwards, and at last remain in suspense, * For the younger brother, the balance seems to incline greatly on the side of Perkin Warbeck, as the true Duke of York ; and if one was saved, one knows not how nor why to believe that Richard destroyed only the elder.

We must leave this whole story dark, though not near so dark as we found it; and it is perhaps as wise to be uncertain on one portion of our history, as to believe so much as is believed in all histories, though very probably as falsely delivered to us as the period which we have here been examining.

O'KEEFE'S “ PATRICK IN PRUSSIA.” The principal incident in this laughable little Opera was suggested by the following Anecdote of the great King of Prussia :

The King used to dress in so plain a manner, that, when he travelled about his states, such of his subjects as did not know him treated him with no other respect than they would an ordinary man. Once, as he was riding about Berlin, without attendants, and very plainly clad, he perceived a young woman digging in the fields, of a gigantic stature, being near seven feet high. It is well known that the King had a particular predilection for tall men; and as his greatest passion lay that way, he spared no expense to procure them from all parts of Europe, for forming, as he did, his regiment of giants and grenadiers out of them. At sight of this tall woman, he jinagiped that a couple of the kind must produce very large chil. dren. He dismounted, and, coming up to the peasant, entered into conversation with her, and was overjoyed to hear that she was but nineteen years old, still a virgin, and that her father was a shoemaker. Hereupon he sat dawn, and wrote the following note to the Colonel of his guards :

You are to marry the bearer of this nute with the tallest of my grenadiers. Take care that the ceremony be performed immediately, and in your presence. You must be responsible to me for the execution of this order. 'Tis absolute; and the least delay will make you criminal in my sight.' .

The King gave this letter to the young woman, without informing her of its contents, and ordered her to deliver

« السابقةمتابعة »