Page images

they knew not what, and were in more doubt than before: but the King chose rather not to satisfy, than to kindle coals. At that time also it did not appear by any new examinations or commitments, that any other person of quality was discovered or appeached, though the King's 5 closeness made that a doubt dormant.

About this time a great fire in the night-time suddenly began at the King's palace at Shene, near unto the King's own lodgings, whereby a great part of the building was consumed, with much costly household stuff; which gave the King occasion of building from the ground that fine pile of Richmond, which is now standing.



Somewhat before this time also, there fell out a memorable accident: There was one Sebastian Gabato, a Venetian, dwelling in Bristol, a man seen and expert in cosmography and navigation. This man seeing the success, and emulating perhaps the enterprise of Christophorus Columbus in that fortunate discovery towards the south-west, which had been by him made some six years before, conceited with himself, that lands might likewise be discovered 20 towards the north-west. And surely it may be he had more firm and pregnant conjectures of it, than Columbus had of this at the first. For the two great islands of the old and new world, being, in the shape and making of them, broad towards the north, and pointed towards the south; it is 25 likely, that the discovery first began where the lands did

nearest meet. And there had been before that time a discovery of some lands, which they took to be islands, and were indeed the continent of America, towards the northwest. And it may be, that some relation of this nature coming afterwards to the knowledge of Columbus, and by him suppressed (desirous rather to make his enterprise the child of his science and fortune, than the follower of a


former discovery), did give him better assurance, that all was not sea, from the west of Europe and Africa unto Asia, than either Seneca's prophecy or Plato's antiquities, or the nature of the tides and landwinds, and the like, which were the 5 conjectures that were given out, whereupon he should have relied though I am not ignorant, that it was likewise laid unto the casual and wind-beaten discovery, a little before, of a Spanish pilot, who died in the house of Columbus. But this Gabato bearing the King in hand, that he would find 10 out an island endued with rich commodities, procured him to man and victual a ship at Bristol, for the discovery of that island: with whom ventured also three small ships of London merchants, fraught with some gross and slight wares, fit for commerce with barbarous people. He sailed, 15 as he affirmed at his return, and made a chart thereof, very far westwards, with a quarter of the north, on the north side of Tierra de Labrador, until he came to the latitude of sixty seven degrees and a half, finding the seas still open. It is certain also, that the King's fortune had a tender of that 20 great empire of the West Indies. Neither was it a refusal on the King's part, but a delay by accident, that put by so great an acquest: for Christophorus Columbus, refused by the King of Portugal, who would not embrace at once both east and west, employed his brother Bartholomæus Colum25 bus unto King Henry, to negotiate for his discovery: and it so fortuned, that he was taken by pirates at sea, by which accidental impediment he was long ere he came to the King so long, that before he had obtained a capitulation with the King for his brother, the enterprise by him was 30 achieved, and so the West Indies by providence were then reserved for the crown of Castile. Yet this sharpened the King so, that not only in this voyage, but again in the sixteenth year of his reign, and likewise in the eighteenth

thereof, he granted forth new commissions for the discovery and investing of unknown lands.

[ocr errors]


In this fourteenth year also, by God's wonderful providence, that boweth things unto his will, and hangeth great weights upon small wires, there fell out a trifling and unto- 5 ward accident, that drew on great and happy effects. During the truce with Scotland, there were certain Scottish young gentlemen that came into Norham town, and there made merry with some of the English of the town: and having little to do, went sometimes forth, and would stand looking upon the castle. Some of the garrison of the castle, observing this their doing twice or thrice, and having not their minds purged of the late ill blood of hostility, either suspected them, or quarrelled them for spies: whereupon they fell at ill words, and from words to blows; so that many 15 were wounded of either side, and the Scottish men, being strangers in the town, had the worst; insomuch that some of them were slain, and the rest made haste home. The matter being complained on, and often debated before the wardens of the marches of both sides, and no good order taken; the King of Scotland took it to himself, and being much kindled, sent a herald to the King to make protestation, that if reparation were not done, according to the conditions of the truce, his King did denounce war. The King, who had often tried fortune, and was inclined to peace, made answer, that what had been done, was utterly against his will, and without his privity; but if the garrison soldiers had been in fault, he would see them punished, and the truce in all points to be preserved. But this answer seemed to the Scottish King but a delay, to make the com- 30 plaint breathe out with time; and therefore it did rather exasperate him than satisfy him. Bishop Fox, understanding from the King that the Scottish King was still discontent



and impatient, being troubled that the occasion of breaking of the truce should grow from his men, sent many humble and deprecatory letters to the Scottish King to appease him. Whereupon King James, mollified by the bishop's submis5 sive and eloquent letters, wrote back unto him, that he was in part moved by his letters, yet he should not be fully satisfied, except he spake with him, as well about the compounding of the present differences, as about other matters that might concern the good of both kingdoms. The 10 bishop, advising first with the King, took his journey for Scotland. The meeting was at Melross, an abbey of the Cistercians, where the King then abode. The King first roundly uttered unto the bishop his offence conceived for the insolent breach of truce, by his men of Norham castle: 15 whereunto bishop Fox made such humble and smooth answer, as it was like oil into the wound, whereby it began to heal and this was done in the presence of the King and his council. After, the King spake with the bishop apart, and opened himself unto him, saying, that these temporary 20 truces and peaces were soon made, and soon broken, but

that he desired a straiter amity with the King of England; discovering his mind, that if the King would give him in marriage the lady Margaret, his eldest daughter, that indeed might be a knot indissoluble. That he knew well what 25 place and authority the bishop deservedly had with his master: therefore, if he would take the business to heart, and deal in it effectually, he doubted not but it would succeed well. The bishop answered soberly, that he thought himself rather happy than worthy to be an instrument in such a 30 matter, but would do his best endeavour. Wherefore the bishop returning to the King, and giving account what had passed, and finding the King more than well disposed in it, gave the King advice; first to proceed to a conclusion of

peace, and then to go on with the treaty of marriage by degrees. Hereupon a peace was concluded, which was published a little before Christmas, in the fourteenth year of the King's reign, to continue for both the Kings' lives, and the over-liver of them, and a year after. In this peace 5 there was an article contained, that no Englishman should enter into Scotland, and no Scottishman into England, without letters commendatory from the Kings of either nation. This at the first sight might seem a means to continue a strangeness between the nations; but it was done to 10 lock in the borderers.

This year there was also born to the King a third son, who was christened by the name of Edmund, and shortly after died. And much about the same time came news of the death of Charles the French King, for whom there were 15 celebrated solemn and princely obsequies.

It was not long but Perkin, who was made of quicksilver, which is hard to hold or imprison, began to stir. For deceiving his keepers, he took him to his heels, and made speed to the sea-coasts. But presently all corners were laid 20 for him, and such diligent pursuit and search made, as he was fain to turn back, and get him to the house of Bethlehem, called the priory of Shene (which had the privilege of sanctuary), and put himself into the hands of the prior of that monastery. The prior was thought an holy man, and 25 much reverenced in those days. He came to the King, and besought the King for Perkin's life only, leaving him otherwise to the King's discretion. Many about the King were again more hot than ever, to have the King to take him forth and hang him. But the King, that had a high stomach 30 and could not hate any that he despised, bid, “Take him "forth, and set the knave in the stocks;" and so promising the prior his life, he caused him to be brought forth. And

« PreviousContinue »