« PreviousContinue »
wanton prince to become gossip in so mean a house, and might make a man think, that he might indeed have in him some base blood of the house of York; so at the least, though that were not, it might give the occasion to the boy, in being called King Edward's godson, or perhaps in sport King Edward's son, to entertain such thoughts into his head. For tutor he had none, for ought that appears, as Lambert Simnel had, until he came unto the lady Margaret, who instructed him.
Thus therefore it came to pass: There was a townsman of Tournay, that had borne office in that town, whose name was John Osbeck, a convert Jew, married to Catharine de Faro, whose business drew him to live for a time with his wife at London, in King Edward the fourth's days. 15 During which time he had a son by her, and being known in court, the King either out of a religious nobleness, because he was a convert, or upon some private acquaintance, did him the honour to be godfather to his child, and named him Peter. But afterwards proving a dainty and effeminate 20 youth, he was commonly called by the diminutive of his
name, Peter-kin, or Perkin. For as for the name of Warbeck, it was given him when they did but guess at it, before examinations had been taken. But yet he had been so much talked on by that name, as it stuck by him after his 25 true name of Osbeck was known. While he was a young child, his parents returned with him to Tournay. Then was he placed in a house of a kinsman of his, called John Stenbeck, at Antwerp, and so roved up and down between Antwerp and Tournay, and other towns of Flanders, for a 30 good time; living much in English company, and having the English tongue perfect. In which time, being grown a comely youth, he was brought by some of the espials of the lady Margaret into her presence. Who viewing him.
well, and seeing that he had a face and personage that would bear a noble fortune; and finding him otherwise of a fine spirit and winning behaviour; thought she had now found a curious piece of marble, to carve out an image of a duke of York. She kept him by her a great while, but 5 with extreme secrecy. The while she instructed him by many cabinet conferences. First, in princely behaviour and gesture; teaching him how he should keep state, and yet with a modest sense of his misfortunes. Then she informed him of all the circumstances and particulars that 10 concerned the person of Richard duke of York, which he was to act; describing unto him the personages, lineaments, and features of the King and Queen his pretended parents; and of his brother, sisters, and divers others, that were nearest him in his childhood; together with all passages, 15 some secret, some common, that were fit for a child's memory, until the death of King Edward. Then she added the particulars of the time from the King's death, until he and his brother were committed to the Tower, as well during the time he was abroad, as while he was in 20 sanctuary. As for the times while he was in the Tower, and the manner of his brother's death, and his own escape; she knew they were things that a very few could control. And therefore she taught him only to tell a smooth and likely tale of those matters; warning him not to vary from 25 it. It was agreed likewise between them, what account he should give of his peregrination abroad, intermixing many things which were true, and such as they knew others could testify, for the credit of the rest; but still making them to hang together with the part he was to play. She taught 30 him likewise how to avoid sundry captious and tempting questions, which were like to be asked of him. But in this she found him of himself so nimble and shifting, as
she trusted much to his own wit and readiness; and therefore laboured the less in it. Lastly, she raised his thoughts with some present rewards, and farther promises; setting before him chiefly the glory and fortune of a crown, if 5 things went well, and a sure refuge to her court, if the worst should fall. After such time as she thought he was perfect in his lesson, she began to cast with herself from what coast this blazing star should first appear; and at what time. It must be upon the horizon of Ireland; for there had 10 the like meteor strong influence before. The time of the apparition to be, when the King should be engaged into a war with France. But well she knew, that whatsoever should come from her, would be held suspected. And therefore,
if he should go out of Flanders immediately into Ireland, 15 she might be thought to have some hand in it. And besides, the time was not yet ripe; for that the two Kings were then upon terms of peace. Therefore she wheeled about; and to put all suspicion afar off, and loth to keep him any longer by her, for that she knew secrets are not 20 long-lived, she sent him unknown into Portugal, with the lady Brampton, an English lady, that embarked for Portugal at that time; with some privado of her own, to have an eye upon him, and there he was to remain, and to expect her farther directions. In the mean time she 25 omitted not to prepare things for his better welcome and accepting, not only in the kingdom of Ireland, but in the court of France. He continued in Portugal about a year; and by that time the King of England called his parliament, as hath been said, and declared open war against France. 30 Now did the sign reign, and the constellation was come, under which Perkin should appear. And therefore he was straight sent unto by the duchess to go for Ireland, according to the first designment. In Ireland he did arrive
at the town of Cork. When he was thither come, his own tale was, when he made his confession afterwards, that the Irishmen, finding him in some good clothes, came flocking about him, and bare him down that he was the duke of Clarence that had been there before. And after, that he 5 was Richard the third's base son. And lastly, that he was Richard duke of York, second son to Edward the fourth. But that he, for his part, renounced all these things, and offered to swear upon the holy Evangelists, that he was no such man; till at last they forced it upon him, and 10 bade him fear nothing, and so forth. But the truth is, that immediately upon his coming into Ireland, he took upon him the said person of the duke of York, and drew unto him complices and partakers by all the means he could devise. Insomuch as he wrote his letters unto the earls of 15 Desmond and Kildare, to come in to his aid, and be of his party; the originals of which letters are yet extant.
Somewhat before this time, the duchess had also gained unto her a near servant of King Henry's own, one Stephen Frion, his secretary for the French tongue; an active man, 20 but turbulent and discontented. This Frion had fled over to Charles the French King, and put himself into his service, at such time as he began to be in open enmity with the King. Now King Charles, when he understood of the person and attempts of Perkin, ready of himself to embrace 25 all advantages against the King of England, instigated by Frion, and formerly prepared by the lady Margaret, forthwith despatched one Lucas and this Frion, in the nature of ambassadors, to Perkin, to advertise him of the King's good inclination to him, and that he was resolved to aid him to 30 recover his right against King Henry, an usurper of England, and an enemy of France; and wished him to come over unto him at Paris. Perkin thought himself in heaven now
that he was invited by so great a King in so honourable a manner. And imparting unto his friends in Ireland for their encouragement, how fortune called him, and what great hopes he had, sailed presently into France. When he was 5 come to the court of France, the King received him with great honour; saluted, and styled him by the name of the duke of York; lodged him, and accommodated him in great state. And the better to give him the representation and the countenance of a Prince, assigned him a guard for his 10 person, whereof the lord Congresall was captain. The cour tiers likewise, though it be ill mocking with the French, applied themselves to their King's bent, seeing there was reason of state for it. At the same time there repaired unto Perkin divers Englishmen of quality; Sir George Nevile, 15 Sir John Taylor, and about one hundred more; and amongst the rest, this Stephen Frion, of whom we spake, who followed his fortune both then and for a long time after, and was indeed his principal counsellor and instrument in all his proceedings. But all this on the French King's part was 20 but a trick, the better to bow King Henry to peace. And therefore, upon the first grain of incense, that was sacrificed upon the altar of peace at Boulogne, Perkin was smoked: away. Yet would not the French King deliver him up to King Henry, as he was laboured to do, for his honour's sake, but warned him away, and dismissed him. Perkin on his part was as ready to be gone, doubting he might be caught up under-hand. He therefore took his way into Flanders, unto the duchess of Burgundy; pretending that having been variously tossed by fortune, he directed his 30 course thither as to a safe harbour: no ways taking knowledge that he had ever been there before, but as if that had been his first address. The duchess, on the other part, made it as new and strange to see him; pretending, at the