« VorigeDoorgaan »
commanded it), when he wist it was done, piteously bewailed and sorrowfully repented.
Richard, the third son, of whom we now entreat, was in wit and courage equal with either of them ; in body and prowess, far under them both ; little of stature, ill-featured of limbs, crook-backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right, hard favoured of visage, and such as is in states called warly, in other men otherwise ; he was malicious, wrathful, envious, and from before his birth ever froward. It is for truth reported, that the duchess, his mother, had so much ado in her travail, that she could not be delivered of him uncut; and that he came into the world with the feet forward, as men be born outward, and (as the fame runneth) also not untoothed; whether men, of hatred, report above the truth, or else that nature changed her course in his beginning, who in the course of his life many things unnaturally committed. None evil captain was he in the war, as to which his disposition was more metely than for peace. Sundry victories had he, and sometimes overthrows, but never in default as for his own person, either of hardiness or politic order. Free was he called of dispence, and somewhat above his power liberal. With large gifts he gat him unstedfast friendship, for which he was fain to pill and spoil in other places and get him stedfast hatred. He was close and secret, a deep dissembler, lowly of countenance, arrogant of heart, outwardly companionable where he inwardly hated, not letting to kiss whom he thought to kill ; dispiteous and cruel, not for evil will alway, but after for
ambition, and either for the surety or increase of his estate. Friend and foe was muchwhat indifferent where his advantage grew; he spared no man's death whose life withstood his purpose.
He slew with his own hands King Henry VI (being prisoner in the Tower) as men constantly say; and that without commandment or knowledge of the king, who would undoubtedly, if he had intended that thing, have appointed that butcherly office to some other than his own bornbrother. Some wise men also ween, that his drift covertly conveyed, lacked not in helping forth his brother of Clarence to his death; which he resisted openly, howbeit somewhat (as men deemed) more faintly than he that were heartily minded to his wealth. And they who thus deem, think that he long time in King Edward's life forethought to be king, in case that the king his brother (whose life he looked that evil diet should shorten), should happen to decease (as indeed he did), while his children were young. And they deem, that for this intent he was glad of his brother's death the duke of Clarence, whose life must needs have hindered him so intending, whether the same duke of Clarence had kept him true to his nephew the young king, or enterprised to be king himself. But of all this point is there no certainty, and whoso divineth upon conjectures may as well shoot too far as too short. Howbeit this have I by credible information learned, that the self night in which King Edward died, one Mystlebrooke long ere morning cime in great haste to the house of one Pottyer, dwelling in Redcross-street without Cripplegate, and when he was with hasty rapping quickly letten-in, he shewed unto Pottyer that King Edward was departed. By my truth man, quoth Pottyer, then will my master the duke of Gloucester be king. What cause he had so to think, hard it is to say, whether he being toward him any thing knew that he such thing purposed, or otherwise had any inkling thereof; for he was not likely to speak it of nought.
But now to return to the course of this history. Were it that the duke of Gloucester had of old foreminded this conclusion, or was now at first thereunto moved and put in hope, by the occasion of the tender age of the young princes his nephews (as opportunity and likelihood of speed putteth a man in courage of that he never intended), certain is it that he contrived their destruction, with the usurpation of the regal dignity upon himself. And forasmuch as he well wist and helped to maintain a long-continued grudge and heart-burning between the queen's kindred and the king's blood, either party envying other's authority, he now thought that their division should be (as it was indeed) a farthering beginning to the pursuit of his intent, and a sure ground for the foundation of all his building; if he might first, under the pretext of revenging old displeasure, abuse the anger and ignorance of the one party to the destruction of the other, and then win to his purpose as many as he could, and those that could not be won might be lost exe they looked therefore. For of one thing was he certain,
that if his intent were perceived, he should soon have made peace between the both parties with his own blood.
King Edward in his life, albeit that this dissention between his friends somewhat irked him, yet in his good health he somewhat the less regarded it, because he thought whatsoever business should fall between them, himself should alway be able to rule both the parties. But in his last sickness, when he perceived his natural strength so sore enfeebled that he despaired all recovery, then he considering the youth of his children, albeit he nothing less mistrusted than that that happened, yet well foreseeing that many harms might grow by their debate, while the youth of his children should lack discretion of themselves and good counsel of their friends (of which either party should counsel for their own commodity, and rather by pleasant advice to win themselves favour, than by profitable advertisement to do the children good), he called some of them before him that were at variance, and in especial the Lord Marquis Dorset, the queen’s son by her first husband, and Richard the Lord Ilastings, a noble man then lord-chamberlain, against whom the queen specially grudged for the great favour the king bare him, and also for that she thought him secretly familiar with the king in wanton company. Her kindred also bare him sore, as well for that the king had made him captain of Calais (which office the Lord Rivers, brother to the queen, claimed of the king's former promise), as for divers other great gifts which he received, that they looked for. When these lords, with divers others of both the parties, were come in presence, the king lifting-up himself and underset with pillows, as it is reported, on this wise said unto them.
· My lords, my dear kinsmen and allies, in what plight I lie, ye see and I feel. By which the less while I look to live with ye, the more deeply am I moved to care in what case I leave ye; for such as I leave ye, such be my children like to find ye. Who, if they should (that God forbid!) find ye at variance, might hap to fall themselves at war ere their discretion would serve to set ye at peace. Ye see their youth, of which I reckon the only surety to rest in your concord. For it sufficeth not that all ye love them, if each of ye hate other. If they were men, your faithfulness haply would suffice. But childhood must be maintained by men's authority, and slippery youth underpropped with elder counsel, which neither they can have but ye give it, nor ye give it if ye agree not. For where each laboureth to break that the other maketh, and, for hatred of each other's person, impugneth each other's counsel, there must it needs be long ere any good conclusion go forward. And also while either party laboureth to be chief, Aattery shall have more place than plain and faithful advice. Of which must needs ensue the evil bringing-up of the prince, whose mind in tender youth infected, shall readily fall to mischief and riot, and draw down with it this noble realm to ruin. But if grace turn him to wisdom, which if God send, then they who by evil means before pleased him best, shall after fall farthest out of favour;