« PreviousContinue »
March, with a puissant army of English, Easterlings, Picardians, Flemings, and other nations that the Duke of Burgundy had sent him, had taken the field, and was going to oppose king Henry's forces, which were commanded by the Earl of Warwick, the Prince of Wales, and several Lords of that party. In short, the battle was bravely fought, and a vast number of men were killed and wounded on both sides, but at last Edward de la March gained the victory, and king Henry's army, partly by the treachery of the Duke of Clarence, and partly for want of conduct, was entirely defeated.
The poor young Prince of Wales, who was a lovely youth, was barbarously murdered after the action was over, and the valiant Earl of Warwick, finding himself betrayed, and scorning to fly, rushed violently into the thickest of his enemies, and was killed upon the spot. Thus died this great man, who was so desirous of serving his king and country, and who had cost king Henry so much money to bring him over and fix him in his interest.”
On the subject of the Duke of Burgundy’s death, he is apparently better acquainted than his predecessor; and, after describing the battle and the losses of the Burgundians, the pursuit of the Swiss, &c., he informs us, that,
“On Monday, which was twelfth-day, (A. D. 1476,) the Count di Campobasso met with a page that was taken prisoner, belonging to the Count de Chalon, who was with the Duke of Burgundy in the battle. This lad, upon examination, confessed the Duke of Burgundy was killed ; and the next day, upon diligent search after him, they found him stripped stark naked, and the bodies of fourteen men more in the same condition, at some distance from each other. The Duke was wounded in three places, and his body was known and distinguished from the rest by six particular marks; the chiefest of which was, the want of his upper teeth before, which were beaten out with a fall; the second was a scar in his throat, occasioned by the wound he received at the battle of Mont l'Hery; the third was, his great nails, which he always wore longer than any of his courtiers; the fourth was another scar upon his left shoulder; the fifth was a fistula in his right groin, and the last was a nail that grew into his little toe. And upon seeing all these abovementioned marks upon his body, his physician, the gentlemen of the bed-chamber, the Bastard of Burgundy, M. Olivier de la Marche, his chaplain, and several other officers that were taken prisoners by the Duke of Lorrain, unanimously agreed it was the body of their lord and master, the Duke of Burgundy."
With this extract, we conclude our survey of a work which we consider valuable for its authenticity, and the simplicity, piety, and honesty with which it is given, rather than the subjects it embraces, or the amusement it bestows.
ART. III.—The Court and Character of King James, whereunto
is added the Court of King Charles, continued unto the beginning of these unhappy times, with some observations upon
him instead of a character. Collected and perfected by Sir A. W. (Sir Anthony Weldon.) Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare. Published by authority. Printed at London by R. J. and are to be sold by J. Collins in Little Brittaine, 1651.
There is scarcely any epoch more truly interesting in our annals than the reign of James I. It is the grand division in our history. Up to that period, the spirit of the middle ages was predominant in our government, our opinions, and our manners; and to that period also, must we refer the commencement of those important changes, which, though gradual at first, were developed with such fearful rapidity in the reigns immediately subsequent, and which have ultimately produced such powerful effects on our national character. At the same time, the personal character of the sovereign, and of the many distinguished persons who formed his court, affords much matter for curious speculation; and we in general find, in the contemporary writers, very ample food for gratifying our curiosity. In addition to the work which forms the subject of the present article, Wilson and Osborn have both left us valuable memoirs of this reign. Wilson travelled over a great part of the continent, in company with Robert Devereux, the last Earl of Essex of that name, and from his intimate friendship with that nobleman, enjoyed opportunities of acquiring accurate information on all the most important transactions of James's reign. In addition to this, he had access to Essex's papers, and to those of Southampton, the friend of the great Earl of Essex. A fair character of this work, to which we shall frequently have occasion to refer, may be found in the notes appended to it in Kennet's Conplete History of England, (Vol. II. p. 661.) It certainly cannot be called an impartial history, yet, there is no reason to suspect the honesty of the writer.
Osborn's Traditional Memoirs of King James are not of equal value. They do not comprize more than one-half of James's reign, nor are they by any means copious in their details of facts. Ösborn, certainly, enjoyed occasions of informing himself upon the transactions of the times, and yet he has not succeeded in rendering his memoirs either very interesting or very useful. His office of Master of the Horse to the celebrated Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, must have made him familiar with the news of the court. His account of the appetite with which in his youth he devoured the court scandal, and his description of the news-mongers of that day are amusing enough. “It was the fashion of those times,” says he, "and did so continue until these, (when not only the mother but the daughters are ruined) for the principal gentry, lords, courtiers, and men of all professions, not merely mechanic, to meet in Paul's church by eleven, and walk in the middle aisle till twelve, and after dinner, from three till six; during which time, some discoursed of business, others of news. Now, in regard of the universal commerce, there happened little that did not first or last arrive there. And, I being young and wanting a more advantageous employment, did, during my abode in London, which was three-fourth parts of the year, associate myself at those hours with the choicest company I could pick out, amongst such as I found most inquisitive after affairs of state ; who being then myself in a daily attendance upon a hope (though a rotten one) of a future preferment, I appeared the more considerable, being as ready to satisfy, according to my weak abilities, their curiosity as they were mine ; who, out of a candid nature, were not ordinarily found to name an author easily lost in such a concourse, where his own report was not seldom within a few minutes returned to him for news by another. And these news-mongers, as they call them, did not only take the boldness to weigh the public, but most intrinsic actions of the state, which some courtier or other did betray to this society; amongst whom, divers being very rich, had great sums owing them by such as stood next the throne; who, by this means, were rendered in a manner their pensioners, so as I have found since little reason to question the truth of what I heard then, but much to confirm me in it.”-Osborn, sec. 20.
In addition to these writers, we may mention Melville's Memoirs, which, however, chiefly relate to Scottish affairs, and Saunderson's Complete History of Queen Mary of Scotland, and her Son King James of Great Britain. A vast body of information is likewise to be collected from the Memorials of Sir Ralph Winwood, and the other correspondence of various celebrated men of that period, which have been given to the public. Such are the chief original sources from which we may derive a correct acquaintance with the times of James I.
of Sir Anthony Weldon but little is known. What few notices of him remain are collected by the ingenious editor of The Secret History of the Court of James 1.* He is said to have been born in Kent, and his father was clerk of the kitchen
* Edited, very evidently, by Sir Walter Scott.
It is the great storehouse from which he has drawn all his historical materials for the Fortunes of Nigel.
to Queen Elizabeth. Sir Anthony was preferred to the office of one of the clerks of the Board of Green-Cloth, and in this capacity he accompanied the king on his visits to Scotland.
The character of the Scotch displeased him, and he gave vent to his spleen in a libel, in which he ridiculed them without either decency or mercy. This production, we are told by Wood*, he carelessly wrapped up in a record of the Board of Green Cloth, which circumstance, together with the handwriting, having ascertained the author, he was dismissed from his office, though his dismissal was softened down by a present of money and a pension. On the breaking out of the civil war, Weldon took part with the parliament, and was appointed chairman of the Kentish Committee, for the sequestration of the royalists' estates. The time of his death is uncertain.
It appears from the dedication, that these Memoirs were not intended to meet the public eye, and, indeed, Wood tells us, that they were shown in MS. to Lady Elizabeth Sedley (daughter of the celebrated Sir Henry Saville), who disapproved of them, and from whose possession they were afterwards surreptitiously obtained, and published. The second edition contains several additional articles. 1. The Court of King Charles, continued until the beginning of these unhappy times, &c. 2. Observations, instead of a Character, upon the King from his childhood. 3. Certain Observations before Queen Elizabeth's death.
Soon after the publication of Weldon's Memoirs, an answer to them appeared under the title of Aulicus Coquinaria, or a Vindication in answer to a pamphlet, entitled the Court and Character of King James. This singular title is in allusion to the office of our author's father, who, as we have related above, was clerk of the kitchen to Queen Elizabeth. Wood+ informs us, that the materials for this work were collected by Dr. Goodman, Bishop of Gloucester, and revised and put in order by William Saunderson, the author of the Complete History of King James. Indeed, from the incorrectness and poverty of style of both the history and the pamphlet, there is every reason to conclude that they are the productions of the same pen.
There are several circumstances in the reign of James I. which may be classed amongst those doubtful speculations, known to our lawyers by the name of ve.catæ questiones, and which have received various explanations, according to the in
• Wood's Athena, i. 729.
+ Wood's Athene, i. 729. Saunderson's Proem on the Reign and Death of King James, fo. 1656. And Harris's James 1. 207. Note.
formation or prejudices of those who have examined them. The death of Prince Henry, the eldest son of James, of whom the nation, with justice, entertained the highest hopes, is one of the most interesting of these often-mooted points. We confess, that we should have felt inclined to submit our own judgement, in this case, to the opinion which most of our modern historians have expressed, who are strongly opposed to the idea, that the prince died by poison, had not our attention been excited by a passage in a letter from the late Mr. Fox to Lord Lauderdale, in which that distinguished statesman expresses considerable doubt upon the question. “ I recollect," says he, " that the impression upon my mind was, that there was more reason than is generally allowed for suspecting that Prince Henry was poisoned by Somerset, and that the king knew of it after the fact.”* For our own parts, after a minute examination of all the facts and opinions relating to this mysterious affair, we confess we have found ourselves unable to form any very decided judgement; the evidence on both sides is so evenly balanced, that we can with difficulty perceive which scale preponderates. As we found the investigation a most interesting one, we have no hesitation in devoting a few of our pages to it, more especially as we are not aware of any work in which the whole transaction has been examined, with all the fulness and impartiality which ought to attend such inquiries.
The foundation of the suspicion that the prince died by poison, administered to him by the directions of the Earl of Somerset, is to be found in the jealousies and distastes which are reported to have existed between the prince and his father's favourite; and, indeed, there seems to be little doubt, that they were upon bad terms with one another. The prince's aversion probably originated in his contempt of that system of favouritism, of which Somerset was the creature; and, if we may believe the writers of the day, it was increased by the circumstance of Henry and Somerset being both attached to the same lady—the beautiful Countess of Essex, who afterwards rendered her name so infamously celebrated by her share in the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury.t It certainly does not
* See Lord Holland's preface to Fox's James II.
+ The authors who have asserted the fact of the prince's passion for Lady Essex are Wilson in Kennet, ii. 886. the writer of Aulicus Coquinaria. Secret Hist. of James I. ii. 239. and Sir Simon D'Ewes in a MS. life of himself, cited by Birch in his Life of Prince Henry, p. 402. On the other hand, we have the authority of Sir Charles Cornwallis, who was the prince's treasurer, and who assures us, that Henry never showed a particular inclination to any of the ladies of