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ANNE OF CLEVES.
As Henry remained two years a widower, it was supposed that his grief for the death of Jane Seymour had prevented his thoughts from being directed to another choice; but the truth is, that very soon after her death, he determined to marry again, and felt no other indecision, but as to the person whom he intended to honour with his hand. Unwilling this time to bestow it on a subject, he rather wished to select some foreign Princess, whose birth should be nearer his own, and by means of whose alliance, his affairs might receive a considerable accession of security and dignity"; policy, therefore, and not affection, was to be the basis of his fourth nuptials. The Duchess-Dowager of Milan, the Duchess-Dowager of Longueville, her sister, and Mary of Bourbon-Vendôme, were successively proposed to him, but they were rejected either from political considerations, or from more private motives. He was as scrupulous with regard to the person of his wives, as if his heart had been really susceptible of a delicate passion; and he was unwilling to trust any relations, or even pictures, on these important occasions. He proposed to Francis the First, that they should have a conference at Calais, under pretence of business, and that this monarch should bring with him the princesses, and the finest ladies of high rank in that kingdom, that he might make his choice among them; but the gallant spirit of Francis revolted at so indelicate a proposal. He was impressed with too much respect, he said, for the fair sex, to carry ladies of the first rank, like geldings to a market, there to be chosen, or rejected, by the humour of the purchaser. Thus disappointed on the side of France, Henry turned his eyes to the families of Germany, being desirous of consolidating the protestant interest, by an alliance with the Princes of the Smalcaldic league--Cromwell, at length, proposed to him a marriage with the Princess Anne of Cleves, to which the King assented.
She was the daughter of John, Duke of Cleves. She seems to have excited little curiosity or interest, previous to her arrival in England. The treaty of marriage had begun with her father; but some difficulties intervening, the negociation was suspended. It was revived, and completed, with Duke William, her brother. The match was opposed by the Elector of Saxony, who had married Sybilla, the elder sister of Anne; but Henry, who had been seduced by a flattering picture of Hans Holbein, was the more peremptory in carrying on his suit. His taste either led him to the admiration of tall and robust women; or he might imagine, that they were better suited to him, who was now grown somewhat corpulent. By those who had seen the Princess of Cleves, he was informed, that she possessed those essential requisites; he therefore gave orders for her immediate journey to England. Impatient to be satisfied with regard to the person of his bride, he went privately to Rochester, where he could examine her upobserved, and unknown; but his expectations were cruelly damped—he found hier tall, indeed, and her proportions were as striking ÁNGLAND.] ANNE OF CLEVES. as his most enlarged fancy could suggest; but she was extremely plain, and entirely destitute of dignity, or grace. He swore that they had brought him a great Flanders mare, and that he could not possibly bear her any affection.
To complete his dissatisfaction, she could speak no language but Dutch, of which he was utterly ignorant. On his return to Greenwich, he pathetically lamented his hard case,-and was little consoled by his courtiers, who told him, that kings could not, like private persons, chuse for themselves, but must receive their wives from the judgment and fancy of others.
He was indeed so disgusted with his choice, that he deliberated in council, whether the match should not be dissolved, and Anne sent back to her own country; but the situation of his affairs was, at this period of time, unusually critical. The Emperor was then at Paris on a visit to the King of France, and Henry suspected them of some design inimical to his interests. It was necessary to form a counterbalancing league among the Princes of Germany. He knew that if he dismissed the Princess of Cleves, such an affront would be highly resented by her family and friends, who were sufficiently powerful, when united, to revenge any insult wantovly offered them. He was, therefore, notwithstanding his aversion to her, under the necessity of completing the marriage, and told Cromwell, “ that as matters had gone so far, he must e'en put his neck into the collar.'
They were accordingly married on the 6th of January, with the usual pomp. Cromwell, who had promoted this union with a perseverance which was fatal to himself,
and whose interest was so nearly concerned in the degree of favour which the new Queen was to enjoy, was anxious to learn from the King, on the morning following the marriage, whether he now liked his spouse better; but Henry said he hated her more than ever :-That her person was still more disagreeable on a nearer approach-that, he had not consummated the marriage—and believed he never should. He then entered into some explanations, which strongly marked his disgust and aversion. He even suspected her deficiency in a point upon which he always expressed the nicest delicacy. He, however, continued to be civil to Anne, and seemed to repose usual confidence in Cromwell; but the rage and discontent which he felt at the ill-assorted marriage thus effected principally by his means, though concealed awhile, burst at length upon that unfortunate minister. Upon the most frivolous pretences he was tried, condemned, and executed. He was a man of prudence, industry, and abilities, worthy of a better master, and a better fate.
The Queen herself seems to have been blessed with a happy insensibility of temper. The King's dislike, which he publicly avowed, and which indeed was visible to all the world, appears to have given her very little trouble or concern, nor was the German phlegm of her disposition disturbed by the mortifications which she daily experienced. That she was not destitute of capacity and intelligence may be surmised from the readiness with which she acquired the English language, and the facility with which she spoke it, even before her marriage was announced. At length the King's aversion becoming too powerful for his endurance, he resolved to