Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

laid him at my mercy, I had not lived to endure this affliction, nor he to be the insulting instrument of my dishonour. But time, and this sad trial, hath taught me patience, and learned me how to know the height of my misfortunes; which (if my divining spirit err not) will not be long unseen and unrevenged. Am I unworthy to be seen? I am then unfit to live, and will receive it as a well-becoming pity, if my death may send me hence, from this so great a sorrow.'

When he had thus ended, and, with a few manly tears, smothered in the depth of that heart-breaking sigh, that enforced his silence, he was, by one of his attendance, made this rough uncivil answer.

'My Lord, your wife and children are jealous, and fearful of your cruel furious nature, whereof both they and the kingdom have too true a knowledge to trust you: besides, they are informed, your resolution is to do them mischief, if they approach your danger. This keeps your queen from you she once so truly loved.'

'My qucen,' quoth he, 'hath she that remaining title, while I, that made her so, am less than nothing? Alas, poor wretched woman! hath she, nor could she find no other more tolerable excuse than this, so faint a pretended fear and danger? Is there a possibility in her suspicion? or have I the means (if I were so resolved) to do it, that am here a poor forsaken man, as far from power as comfort? And, fellow, thou that takest so audacious and sawcy a liberty, to character thy sovereign's disposition, which thou art bound to honour, and not to question: know, Edward's heart is as free from thy base aspersion, as thine from truth or honesty.'

When he had ended these words, he retires himself to his chamber, sad and melancholy, believing his case was hard and desperate, when so base a groom durst face to face affront him.

The queen and Mortimer, revelling now in the height of their ambition and felicity, had yet a wary eye to the main; which they knew did principally rest on the safeguard and sure keeping of the deposed king. Though they had all the marks and essential parts of an absolute sovereignity, the name alone excepted; yet they had unquiet and troubled thoughts, in the fear and imagination of losing it. They saw their plausible incomes were dully continued, and there was a beginning murmur against the manner of their proceedings. They knew there was no constancy in the people, that would be as ready to take them off, as they were to bring them on, in any new stirring or innovation. The Lords, that were their principal supporters, were content, but not satisfied, all things concurring to make them suspect their own condition. 4

Edward, the father's faults, were extenuated; his vices ascribed to those that had betrayed him; and his estate infinitely pitied, that had so dishonourable an usage, far short of what injustice appertained to the honour of his first calling. These reports made their ears tingle, and incite them in time to think upon some befitting remedy. Many ways and devices are thought upon, but they are all subject to some manifest imperfection. On this, Mortimer falls to the matter roundly, and tells the queen plainly, that there is no way left to make all sure, but absolutely to take away the cause, and to leave the party by Edward's death hopeless, that, by his life, sought to make a new combustion.

The queen, whose heart was yet innocent of so deep a transgression, was deeply and inwardly troubled with this unhappy proposition. She believed his sufferings were already greater than his faults, and was unwilling to stain the opinion of her worth and virtue, with so foul an act of injustice. She was assured it could not be so done, but it would be discovered; if the eyes of men could be blinded, yet, that all-knowing power of heaven would reveal and punish it. Such deep actions of crying sins are seldom long unrevenged; which made her most unwilling, that her consent should pass, or be assistant. To kill a king, her husband, that had once so dearly loved her, was more than an act of blood; nor could she expect, but that the son, grown up, would revenge the death of the father. 'Therefore,' quoth she, 'sweet Mortimer, let us resolve rather any other hazard, than this which is waited on with so great infamy and certain ruin.'

Mortimer replies,' madam, who hath the benefit of time, and neglects the advantage, if he fall, is justly unworthy pity or compassion. Have you exposed yourself to all the bitter trials of fortune, fuffering, so meanly, so many miseries; and having overcome them according to your desire, are you willing to return to your own condition, and former sorrow? If it be so, Mortimer is wretched, in sacrificing his devotion and heart to such a female weakness. In cases of extremity, a tenderness of conscience begets a certain danger, nor is it disproportionable so to continue a crown, that by blood was gotten and surprised; had Edward known I should have lived to see his ruin, my head had paid my ransom. The impressions of fear make his subject less in sense than apparition; think not me of so poor a brain, but I as well know how to work as move it; such actions are not to be done, but such a way as may prevent proof, if not suspicion. But why do I seek thus to charm your cars, if you be willing he shall live, let him; let the inclining people set him free, to call you to an account for his oppression; let him parallel his Spencer's death in your affliction; perhaps he will spare you for your brother's sake, who, he knows, so dearly loves you, and did so bravely witness it in your affliction; perhaps he will suffer you still to guide the crown, and your fair son to wear it. If you be pleased, you may abide the trial. Mortimer's resolved, since you neglect his judgment, you will as soon forget his service, which he will in time prevent, before it be debarred.'

With this, he flings away, as if he meant, to give his words a real execution. The amazed queen pursues and overtakes him.

'Stay, gentle Mortimer,' quoth she, 'forgive my error, I am a woman fitter to take advice than to give it. Think not I prize thy love so little as to lose thee. If Edward must die, I will not seek to divert it; only I thus much beg, I may not be partaker, or privy to the time, means, or manner.'

'Madam, leave that to me, who will, alone, both undertake the act and danger; all I require from you, is, but to seal a warrant to change, his former keepers.'

Sir Morris Barkley had been tampered withal, and was so far front consent, that he plainly declared he did abhor the action. This answer suddenly dischargeth him, and commits his master's guard to Sir Thomas Gourney, and his former partner, Mattrevers. They, having received both their warrant and prisoner, conveigh him to Cork-castle, the place in all the world he most hated. Some say, he was foretold, by certain magick spells, that this place was to him both fatal and ominous. But, whatsoever the cause was, he was, at his first arrival, deeply sad and passionate. His keepers, to repel this humour, and make him less suspicious, feed him with pleasant discourse, and better entertainment, while his misgiving spirit was heavy, sad, and melancholy.

The night before his death, he supped heartily, and went to bed betimes; scarcely were his heavy eyes locked up in silent slumber, when his forsworn traiterous murderers enter his chamber, and, finding him asleep, inhumanly and barbarously stifled him, before he could avoid or resist it. The writers differ mainly in the manner of his death, but all conclude him murdered; yet so, that the way, on search and view, could not be known or discovered. A small passage of time gave the most part of all these actors of his death an end fit for their deserts, and this so bloody an action. Their several relations and confessions occasion so many various reports, and different kinds of writing; the truth whereof is not much material, since all agree, he came to an unnatural and untimely death.

Thus fell that unhappy king, Edward the second, who was son and father to two of the most glorious kings that ever held the monarchy of the English nation. Main reasons are given probable enough to instance the necessity of his fall, which, questionless, were the secondary means to work it. But his doom was registered by that inscrutable providence of heaven, who, with the self-same sentence, punished both him, and Richard the second, his great grandchild, Who were guilty of the same offences. The example of these two so unfortunate kings, may be justly a leading precedent to all posterity.

Certainly, we have had other kings as faulty and vicious, that have overlived their errors, and died not by a violent hand, but by the ordinary and easy course of nature. The condition and quality of these was not, in themselves, more perilous and exorbitant, than hurtful and dangerous to the estate, peace, and tranquillity of the whole kingdom. If, by height of youth, height of fortune, or a corrupt natural inclination, the royal affections loosely fly at random; yet, if it extend no farther than the satisfaction of the proper appetite, it- may obscure the glory, but not supplant the strength and welfare of a monarchy. But when it is, in itself, not only vicious and ill affected, but doth patrocine and maintain it in others, not blushing in such a justification, it is a forerunning and presaging evidence, that betokens a fatal and unpitied ruin.

It is too much in a king, that hath so great a charge delivered to hb care and custody, to be dissolute, or wantonly given; but when it falls into a second error, which makes more kings than one in the self-same kingdom, he opens the way to his own destruction. The subjects hearts, as they are obliged, so are they continued by the majesty and goodness of a king; if either of these prove prostitute, it unties the links of duty and allegiance, and hunts after change and innovation.

It is of so singular and great a consequence, that kings ought to be well advised, and sparingly to accumulate their honours and favours, wherein both the time, person, and occasion, ought to be both worthy and weighty; for the eye of the subject waits curiously on his actions, which, finding them degenerating from his own greatness, and inclinable to their oppression, vary their integrity to a murmuring discontent, which is the harbinger to a revolt and mischief. Nor is it proper (if the sovereign's affections must dote) that the object of their weakness should sway the government of the kingdom. Such an intermixtion begets confusion and error, and is attended by a perpetual envy and hatred.

Is it possible, but there must be perpetual error and injustice, where all things are carried more by favour and affection, than law and reason? Or can the lesser fountains be clear, when the main spring that feeds them is tainted and polluted? Alas, common and familiar experience tells, that the actions and principal use of a favourite, is to make good, by his strength and favour, those designs that are, in themselves, unjust, perverse, and insupportable. ,

A good cause, in the integrity of time, needs no protection but its own innocence. But where the sacred rules of justice are inverted, the sincerity of the law abused, the conscience of the judge corrupted or enforced, and all things made mercenary, or carried by indirect favour; what expectation can there be, but that kingdom, which is the theatre of so infamous a practice, should fall speedily into a fearful and desperate convulsion? Though the histories of these times are plentifully stored, and few commonwealths are free from the examples of this na- >ture; yet I shall not need any other instance, than the story of this unfortunate prince, whose time presents a perfect mirror, wherein ensuing kings may see how full of danger and hazard it is, for one man's love, to sell the affections and peace of the whole kingdom.

Had Edward, in his own particular, been far worse than he was, he might have still subsisted; but when for his inglorious minions, Gaveston and Spencer, who successively engross him, he fell to those injurious and dissolute actions, that made all men, and the kingdom, pray to their insolent and imperious humours, he quickly found both heaven and earth resolved to work his ruin. Not only his own, but theirs, and those of their ignoble agents, were made his proper errors; which took so wholly from him the love and hearts of his subjects, that he found neither arms nor tongue to defend him. A more remarkable misery, I think, no time of ours produceth; that brings this king to destruction, without so much as any one kinsman, friend, or subject, that declared himself in his quarrel.

But he found the climacterick year of his reign, before he did expect it: and made that unhappy castle, which he ever hated, the witness of his cruel murder; where I must leave him, 'till he find a more honourable place of burial, and my weary pen a fortunate subject, that may invite it to some other new relation.

A LETTER

mom The

NOBILITY, BARONS, AND COMMONS OF SCOTLAND,

IN THE YEAR MCCCXX,

Yet extant, under all tic Seals of the Nobility,
DIRECTED TO POPE JORff:

Wherein they declare their firm resolutions to adhere to their King, Ro* bert the Bruce, as the Restorer of the safety and liberties of the People, and as having the true right of succession: but, withal, they notwithstanding declare, That, if the King should offer to subvert their civil liberties, they will disown him as an enemy, and choose another to be King for their own defence. Translated from the original, in Latin, as it is inserted by Sir George Mackenzy of Rosehaugh, in his 'Observations on Precedency, &c. Quarto, containing eight pages.

SANCTISSIMO Patri in Christo, ac Domino, Joanni, Divina Providentia, Sacrosanctae Romans & Universalis Ecclesiae summo Pontifici, filii sui humiles& devoti, Duncanus, Comes de Fyfe, Thomas Ranulphi, Comes Moravia, Dominus Manniae, & Vallis Annandiae, Patricius de Dura bar, Comes Marchiae, Malisius, Comes de Strathern, Maleolmus, Comes de Levenox, Willielmus, Comes de Ross, Magnus, Comes de Cathaniae & Orcadian. & Willielmus, Comes de Sutherlandiae, Walterus, Senescallus Scotiae, Willielmus de Soules, Buttellarius Scotiae, Jacobus, Dominus de Douglas, Rogerus de Moubray, David, Dominusde Brechine, David de Graham, Ingelramus de Umfravile, Joannes de Monteith, Custos Commitatus de Monteith, Alexander Fraaier, Gilbertus de

'HTO Our Most Holy Father in A Christ, and our Lord, John, by the Divine Providence, Chief Bishop of the most Holy Roman and Universal Church,yourhumble and devoted Sons, Duncan, Earl of Fyfe, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Murray, Lord Mannia, and Annandale, Patrick dc Dumbar, Earl of March, Malisius, Earl of Strathern, Maleolm, Earl of Lenox, William, Earl of Ross, Magnus, Earl of Caithness and Orkney, William, Earl of Sutherland, Walter, Steward of Scotland, William de Soules, Buttclarius of Scotland, James, Lord Douglas, Roger de Mowbray, David, Lord Brechin, David de Grahame, Ingelramus deUmfravile, John de Monteith, Warder of the County of Monteith, Alexander Frazer, Gilbert de Hay, Constable of Scotland, Robert de Keith, Mar

« ZurückWeiter »