« AnteriorContinuar »
man go his own way. He was not afraid of an able man, as Lewis the eleventh was: but contrariwise, he was served by the ablest men that were to be found : without which his affairs could not have prospered as they did. For war, Bedford, Oxford, Surry, D'Aubigny, Brooke, Poynings: For other affairs, Morton, Fox, Bray, the prior of Lanthony, Warham, Urswick, Hussey, Frowick, and others. Neither did he care how cunning they were that he did employ : for he thought himself to have the master-reach. And as he chose well, so he held them up well; for it is a strange thing, that though he were a dark prince, and infinitely suspicious, and his times full of secret conspiracies and troubles; yet in twenty-four years reign, he never put down, or discomposed counsellor, or near servant, save only Stanley the lord chamberlain. As for the disposition of his subjects in general towards him, it stood thus with him; that of the three affections, which naturally tie the hearts of the subjects to their sovereigns, love, fear, and reverence; he had the last in height, the second in good measure, and so little of the first, as he was beholden to the other two.
He was a Prince, sad, serious, and full of thoughts, and secret observations, and full of notes and memorials of his own hand, especially touching persons. As, whom to employ, whom to reward, whom to inquire of, whom to beware of, what were the dependencies, what were the factions, and the like; keeping, as it were, a journal of his thoughts. There is to this day a merry tale; that his monkey, set on as it was thought by one of his chamber, tore his principal note-book all to pieces, when by chance it lay forth: whereat the court, which liked not those pensive accounts, was almost tickled with sport.
He was indeed full of apprehensions and suspicions; but as he did easily take them, so he did easily check them and master them; whereby they were not dangerous, but troubled himself more than others. It is true, his thoughts were so many, as they could not well always stand together; but that which did good one way, did hurt another. Neither did he at some
times weigh them arìght in their proportions. Cer: tainly, that rumour which did him so much mischief, that the duke of York should be saved, and alive, was, at the first, of his own nourishing; because he would have more reason not to reign in the right of his wife. He was affable, and both well and fair: spoken; and would use strange sweetness and blandishments of words, where he desired to effect or persuade any thing that he took to heart. He was rather studious than learned; reading most books that were of any worth, in the French tongue, yet he understood the Latin, as appeareth in that cardinal Hadrian and others, who could very well have written French, did use to write to him in Latin.
For his pleasures, there is no news of them; and yet by his instructions to Marsin and Stile, touching the Queen of Naples, it seemeth he could interrogate well touching beauty. He did by pleasures, as great Princes do by banquets, come and look a little upon them, and turn away. For never Prince was more wholly given to his affairs, nor in the more of himself: insomuch as in triumphs of justs and tourneys, and balls, and masks, which they then called disguises, he was rather a princely and gentle spectator, than seemed much to be delighted.
No doubt, in him, as in all men, and most of all in Kings, his fortune wrought upon his nature, and his nature upon his fortune. He attained to the crown, not only from a private fortune, which might endow him with moderation; but also from the fortune of an exiled man, which had quickened in him all seeds of observation and industry. And his times being rather prosperous than calm, had raised his confidence by success, but almost marred his nature by troubles. His wisdom, by often evading from perils, was turned rather into a dexterity to deliver himself from dangers, when they pressed him, than into a providence to prevent and remove them 'afar off. And even in nature, the sight of his mind was like some sights of eyes; rather strong at hand, than to carry afar off. For his wit increased upon the occasion: and so much the more, if the occasion were sharpened by danger. Again, whether it were the shortness of his foresight, or the strength of his will, or the dazling of his suspicions, or what it was ; certain it is, that the perpetual troubles of his fortunes, there being no more matter out of which they grew, could not have been without some great defects and main errors in his nature, customs, and proceedings, which he had enough to do to save and help with a thousand little industries and watches. But those do best appear in the story itself. Yet take him with all his defects, if a man should compare him with the Kings his concurrents in France and Spain, he shall find him more politic than Lewis the twelfth of France, and more entire and sincere than Ferdinando of Spain. But if you shall change Lewis the twelfth for Lewis the eleventh, who lived a little before, then the consort is more perfect. For that Lewis the eleventh, Ferdinando, and Henry, may be esteemed for the tres magi of Kings of those ages. To conclude, if this King did no greater matters, it was long of himself: for what he minded he compassed.
He was a 'comely personage, a little above just stature, well and straight limbed, but slender. His countenance was reverend, and a little like a churchman: and as it was not strange or dark, so neither was it winning or pleasing, but as the face of one well disposed. But it was to the disadvantage of the painter, for it was best when he spake.
His worth may bear a tale or two, that may put upon him somewhat that may seem divine. When the lady Margaret his mother had divers great suitors for marriage, she dreamed one night, that one in the likeness of a bishop in pontifical habit did tender her Edmund earl of Richmond, the King's father, for her husband, neither had she ever any child but the King, though she had three husbands. One day when King Henry the sixth, whose innocency gave him holiness, was washing his hands at a great feast, and cast his eye upon King Henry, then a young youth, he said; « This is the lad that shall possess quietly that, that
wę now strive for," But that, that was truly di
vine in him, was that he had the fortune of a true
He was born at Pembroke castle, and lieth buried
HISTORY OF THE REIGN
KING HENRY THE EIGHTH.
AFTER the decease of that wise and fortunate King, Henry the seventh, who died in the height of his prosperity, there followed, as useth to do, when the sun setteth so exceeding clear, one of the fairest mornings of a kingdom that hath been known in this land, or any where else. A young King about eighteen years of age, for stature, strength, making, and beauty, one of the goodliest persons of his time. And though he were given to pleasure, yet he was likewise desirous of glory; so that there was a passage open in his mind, by glory, for virtue. Neither was he unadorned with learning, though therein he came short of his brother Arthur. He had never any the least pique, difference, or jealousy with the King his father, which might give any occasion of altering court or council upon the change; but all things passed in a still. He was the first heir of the white and red rose; so that there was no discontented party now left in the kingdom, but all mens hearts turned towards him: and not only their hearts, but their eyes also; for he was the only son of the kingdom. He had no brother; which though it be a comfortable thing for Kings to have, yet it draw. eth the subjects eyes a little aside. And yet being a married man in those young years, it promised hope of speedy issue to succeed in the crown. Neither was there any Queen mother, who might share any way in the government, or clash with his counsellors for authority, while the King intended his pleasure. No such thing as any great and mighty subject, who might