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also sounding and accompanied with a great train of men at arms, and other of his friends and servants. At his coming to Westminster, he entered the palace; and, passing forth directly through the great hall, staid not till he came to the chamber where the king and lords used to sit in the parliament-time, commonly called the upper house, or chamber of the peers; and being there entered, stept up unto the throne royal, and there laying his hand upon the cloth of state, seemed as if he meant to take possession of that which was his right, (for he held his hand so upon that cloth a good pretty while,) and, after withdrawing his hand, turned his face towards the people, beholding their pressing together, and marking what countenance they made. Whilst he then stood and beheld the people, supposing they rejoiced to see his presence, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Thomas Bourchier) came to him, and, after due salutations, asked him if he would come and see the king, with which demand he, seeming to take disdain, answered briefly and in few words, thus: 'I remember not that I know any within this realm, but that it beseemeth him rather to come and see my person, than I go and see his. The duke went to the most principal lodging that the king had within all his palace, breaking up the locks and doors, and so lodged himself therein, more like a king than a duke."
After many objections, and an assertion from Henry of his right, unaccompanied by the manful * Hol., 261.
defiance which Shakspeare puts into his mouth; the compromise was proposed and accepted as in the play. I know not upon what authority Exeter is selected as foremost in acknowledging the right of the Duke of York; for he is named by Holinshed, among the lords who, with Queen Margaret at their head, refused to acknowledge the new settlement of the crown, and assembled their forces in order to defeat it.* And a more ancient authority tells us, that he absented himself, with Somerset, Northumberland, and Devon, from the meeting in which the Yorkists obtained this advantage;† and we shall see presently that he fought under the queen.‡
The play, after correctly representing the hostile protest of the chiefs of the Lancastrian party, brings forward Edward and Richard, the two sons of York, lamenting their father's concession of his rights during Henry's life, and calling upon him to disregard his oath of allegiance to Henry. Edward urges him boldly to break his oath for the sake of the crown; Richard argues sophistically for the unlawfulness of the oath; and York has
* Hol., 268.
+ W. Wyrc., 483.
It is said (Banks, iii. 290), that he married Anne, the daughter of York; but as he was divorced from her, (I know not when or why), there was probably no close attachment to her family.
just been persuaded, when he is advertised of the queen's advance with twenty thousand men, to besiege him in his castle. This is the first of a series of imputations, the justice of which I shall have hereafter to examine, upon the morality of Richard, afterwards Duke of Gloucester. It is clear that the present imputation cannot be sustained, as Richard was at this time only eight years old. Edward, Earl of March, his eldest brother, was eighteen, and may therefore possibly have urged his father to hostilities. But there is no reason to believe that either Edward or his father contemplated hostilities, before the queen put herself in warlike array.
In the battle of Wakefield which ensued, York was defeated, as in the play, and put to death, though there is some doubt whether he was slain in the battle or beheaded afterwards.*
For the paper crown there is the authority of old writers as well as of Holinshed:
"Some write (for he had mentioned that York was
* Dec. 30, 1460. Lingard, 164; Hol., 269; W. Wyrcester (485) says that he was slain in battle; and so the Chronicle in Leland, 498; but Wethamstede (489) says, that he was taken alive. The Croyland Cont., 530, may be construed either way.
+ W. Wyrc., Wheth., and Croyl. Cont. as above; but according to the first, it was the dead York that was crowned.
slain in battle, and his head presented to the queen upon a pole), that the duke was taken alive, and, in derision, caused to stand upon a mole-hill, on whose head they put a garland instead of a crown, which they had fashioned or made of sedges or bulrushes; and having so crowned him with that garland, they kneeled down before him as the Jews did unto Christ, in scorn, saying to him, Hail king without rule, hail king without heritage, hail duke and prince without people or possessions.' And at length, having thus scorned him with these and divers other the like despiteful words, they struck off his head, which (as you have heard) they presented to the queen."
And this latter is the story in Wethamstede. But I must say, that in amplifying the reproaches which the Lancastrians heaped upon their captive, the poet has not improved upon his original in language, while his interpolations are as contrary to chronology as to good taste.
"What! was it you that would be England's king?
And made a preachment of your high descent?
I do not find in Holinshed, or elsewhere, the foundation of the lines that follow:
"Look, York; I stained this napkin with the blood,
Made issue from the bosom of the boy :
There is much more in the same strain, and York's reply does not fall short of the provocation; but enough of this, which I hope is not Shakspeare's.
I know not in what sense Mrs. Jameson speaks of "the celebrated speech"* of York. She says truly, that the story of the napkin is not historical; but she goes too far in saying, that the decapitation of York after the battle (which she assumes as the true version) was "not done by the order of Margaret." Surely, the queen was the responsible commander.
"The Lord Clifford perceiving where the Earl of Rutland was conveyed out of the field by one of his father's chaplains, and (schoolmaster to the same earl), and overtaking him, stabbed him to the heart with a dagger as he kneeled afore him. This earl was but a child at that time, of twelve years of age, when neither his tender years nor dolorous countenance, while hold
* Charact., ii. 254.