« VorigeDoorgaan »
and that I shall live the less time for having lived this, and the day past. These, and the like expressions, which he uttered often, may be said to be his enjoyment of heaven, before he enjoyed it. The Sunday before his death, he rose suddenly from his bed or couch, called for one of his instruments, took it into his hand, and said, “My God, my God,
6 • My music shall find thee,
And every string
Shall have his attribute to sing :'
• The Sundays of Man's life,
More plentiful than hope.'”]
O day most calm, most bright,
Thy torch doth show the way.
Till thy release appear.
The which he doth not fill.
Which parts their ranks and orders;
More plentiful than hope.
15.-THE HISTORY OF PERKIN WARBECK.
Bacon. (FRANCIS Bacon is one of the most prominent names in English literature. His · Essays' are in the hands of many persons ; his · Novum Organon' is talked of by more. He is execrated as the corrupt judge and faithless friend; he is venerated under the name of the father of the inductive philosophy. His foibles, as well as his merits, have been perhaps equally exaggerated. This is not the place to enter upon the disputed passages of his political career; nor to inquire how much he borrowed from the ancient philosophy, which he is sup. posed to have overturned. That he was a man, in many respects, of the very highest order of intellect no one can doubt; that he was “the wisest, greatest, meanest of mankind,” may be safely disputed. It is sufficient here to mention that he was the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Keeper of the Great Seal-was born in 1561, and died in 1626. The following extract is from his * History of Henry VII.'—a book much neglected, although a remarkable specimen of clear and vivid narrative, and judicious reflection. Those who desire to become acquainted with the writings of Bacon, especially with his philosophical works, cannot do better than study ther in the masterly Analysis by Mr. Craik, published in · Knight's Weekly Volume.]
This youth of whom we are now to speak was such a mercurial as the like hath seldom been known, and could make his own part if at any time he chanced to be out. Wherefore, this being one of the strangest examples of a personation that ever was in elder or later times, it deserveth to be discovered and related at the fullalthough the king's manner of shewing things by pieces and by dark lights hath so muffled it, that it hath been left almost as a mystery to this day.
The Lady Margaret,* whom the king's friends called Juno, because she was to him as Juno was to Æneas, stirring both heaven and hell to do him mischief, for a foundation of her particular practices against him, did continually, by all means possible, nourish, maintain, and divulge the Aying opinion that Richard, Duke of York, second son to Edward the Fourth, was not murdered in the Tower, as was given out, but saved alive. For that those who were employed in that barbarous fact, having destroyed the elder brother, were stricken with remorse and compassion towards the younger, and set him privily at liberty to seek his fortune.
There was a townsman of Tournay, that had borne office in that town, whose name was John Osbeck, a convert Jew, married to Catherine de Faro, whose business drew him to live for a time with his wife at London, in King Edward the Fourth's days. During which time he had a son by her, and veing known in the 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 god-father to his child, and named him Peter. But afterwards, proving a dainty and effeminate youth, he was commonly called by the diminutive of his name Peterkin 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 of by that name, as it stuck by him after his
• Sister to Edward IV., and widow of Charles le Téméraire, Duke of Burgundy. 1ST QUARTER,
true name of Osbeck was known. While he was a young child, his parents returned with him to Tournay. There he was placed in the 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 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 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 concerned the person of Richard, Duke of York, which he was to act, describing unto him the personages, lincaments, and features of the king and queen, his pretended parents; and of his brother and sisters, and divers others, that were nearest him in his childhood; together with all passages, 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 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 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 him likewise how to avoid sundry captious and tempting questions which were liked to be asked of him. But in this she found him 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 further promises, setting before him chiefly the glory and fortune of a crown if 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 the like meteor strong influence before. The time of the apparition to be when the king should be engaged in 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, 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 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 fnrther directions. In the mean time she 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. 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 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 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 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, 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 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 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 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 person, whereof the Lord Congresall was captain. The courtiers 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 Neville, 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 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 Boloign, 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. And Perkin, on his part, was as ready to be gone, doubting he might be caught up underhand. He therefore took his way into Flanders, unto the Duchess of Burgundy, pretending that, having been variously tossed by fortune, he directed his course thither as to a safe harbour, noways 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 strange to see him, pretending, at the first, that she was taught and made wise, by the example of Lambert Simnell, how she did admit of any counterfeit stuff, though, even in that, she said, she was not fully satisfied. She pretended at the first, and that was ever in the presence of others, to pose him and sift him, thereby to try whether he were indeed the very Duke of York or no. But seeming to receive full satisfaction by his answers, she then feigned herself to be transported, with a kind of astonishment, mixt of joy and wonder, at his miraculous deliverance, receiving him as if he were
risen froin death to life, and inferring that God, who had in such wonderful manner preserved him from death, did likewise reserve bim for some great and prosperous fortune. As for his dismission out of France, they interpreted it, not as if he were detected or neglected for a counterfeit deceiver, but contrariwise, that it did show manifestly unto the world that he was some great matter, for that it was his abandoning that, in effect, made the peace, being no more but the sacrificing of a poor distressed prince unto the utility and ambition of two mighty monarchs. Neither was Perkin, for his part, wanting to himself, either in gracious or princely behaviour, or in ready and apposite answers, or in contenting and caressing those that did apply themselves unto him, or in petty scorn and disdain to those that seemed to doubt of him ; but in all things did notably acquit himself, insomuch as it was generally believed, as well amongst great persons as amongst the vulgar, that he was indeed Duke Richard. Nay, himself, with long and continual counterfeiting, and with oft telling a lie, was turned by habit almost into the thing he seemed to be, and from a liar to a believer. The duchess, therefore, as in a case out of doubt, did him all princely honour, calling him always by the name of her nephew, and giving the delicate title of the white rose of England, and appointed him a guard of thirty persons, halberdiers, clad in a party-coloured livery of murrey and blue, to attend his person. Her court, likewise, and generally the Dutch and strangers, in their usage towards him, expressed no less respect.
The news hereof came blazing and thundering over into England, that the Duke of York was sure alive. As for the name of Perkin Warbeck, it was not at that time come to light, but all the news ran upon the Duke of York; that he had been entertained in Ireland, bought and sold in France, and was now plainly avowed and in great honour in Flanders. These fames took hold of divers ; in some upon discontent, in some upon ambition, in some upon levity and desire of change, and in some few upon conscience and belief, but in most upon simplicity, and in divers out of dependence upon some of the better sort, who did in secret favour and nourish these bruits. And it was not long ere these rumours of novelty had begotten others of scandal and murmur against the king and his government, taxing him for a great taxer of his people, and discountenancer of his nobility. The loss of Britain and the peace with France were not forgotten. But chiefly they fell upon the wrong that he did his queen, in that he did not reign in her right. Wherefore, they said, that God had now brought to light a masculine branch of the House of York, that would not be at his courtesy, howsoever he did depress his poor lady. And yet, as it fareth with things which are current with the multitude, and which they affect, these fames grew so general, as the authors were lost in the generality of the speakers; they being like running weeds that have no certain root, or like footings up and down, impossible to be traced. But after awhile these ill humours drew to an head, and settled secretly in some eminent persons, which were Sir William Stanley, lord chamberlain of the king's household, the Lord Fitzwater, Sir Simon Mountfort, and Sir Thomas Thwaites. These entered into a secret conspiracy to favour Duke Richard's title. Nevertheless none engaged their fortunes in this business openly but two, Sir Robert Clifford and Master William Barley, who sailed over into Flanders, sent, indeed, from the party of the conspirators here, to understand the truth of those things that passed there, and not without some help of monies from hence ; provisionally to be delivered, if they found and were satisfied that there was truth in these pretences. The person of Sir Robert Clifford, being a gentleman of fame and family, was extremely welcome to the Lady Margaret, who, after she had conference with him, brought him to the sight of Perkin, with whom he had often speech and discourse. So that in the end, won either by the duchess to affect, or by Perkin to believe, he wrote back into England, that he knew the