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STORY AND PORTRAIT OF AMY ROBSART.
of sharing either the Scotch or the English throne dazzled his imagination. To both of these speculations, Amy was an insurmountable obstacle; and he resolved to remove it by her immediate destruction. How this was effected is a matter of some doubt. All that we know of it is contained in the following narrations: “Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, à very goodly personage, being a great favourite to Queen Elizabeth, it was thought, and commonly reported, that had he been a bachelor or widower, the Queen would have made him her husband. To this end, to free himself from all obstacles, he, with flattering entreaties, desires his wife to repose herself at Cumnor, in Berkshire, at his servant Anthony Foster's house, who then lived in the manor house of this place; and also prescribed to Sir Varney, a promoter of this design, at his coming hither, that he should first attempt to poison her, and if that did not take effect, then by any way whatsoever to despatch her.” The poisoning scheme, Aubrey says, not succeeding, the foul instruments of Leicester's villany effected their purpose in the following manner: “Sir Richard Varney, who, by the Earl's order, remained with her alone on the day of her death, and Foster, who had that day forcibly sent away all her servants from her to Abingdon fair, about three miles' distance from this place; these two persons first stifling her, or else strangling her, afterwards flung her down a pair of stairs, and broke her neck, using much violence upon her; yet caused it to be reported that she fell down of herself, believing the world would have thought it a mischance, and not have suspected the villany. As soon as she was murdered, they made haste to bury her, before the coroner had given in his inquest, which the Earl himself condemned, as not done advisedly; and her father, Sir John Robsart, hearing, came with all speed hither, caused her corpse to be taken up, the coroner to sit upon her, and further enquiry to be made concerning this business to the full. But it was generally thought that the earl stopped his mouth; who, to show the great love he bore to her while alive, and what a grief the loss of so virtuous a lady was to his tender heart, caused her body to be buried in St. Mary's Church, Oxford, with great pomp and solemnity. It is also remarkable that Dr. Babington, the earl's chaplain, preaching the funeral sermon, tripped once or twice in his speech, recommending to their memories that virtuous lady so pitifully murdered, instead of saying so pitifully slain.”
It is evident that the above particulars are given by Aubrey from
the celebrated book, written by Parsons the Jesuit, entitled “Leicester's Commonwealth ;” but “he has omitted,” says Warner, “ several curious circumstances respecting the attempt to poison the unhappy lady, which throw some light on the practices of the time, and the diabolical character of the Earl.” The book consists of a dialogue between a scholar, a gentleman, and a lawyer :-"Lawyer. Here the lawyer began to laugh a-pace, both at the device and at the minister; and said, “Now, truly, if my Lord's contracts hold no better, but hath so many infirmities with subtleties, and by places besides, I would be loth that he were married to my daughter, mean as she is.' But yet,' quoth the gentleman, 'I had rather of the two be his wife, for the time, than his guest, especially if the Italian chirurgeon, or physician,* be at hand.' "True it is,' saith the lawyer; 'for he doth not poison his wives, whereof I somewhat marvel at his first wife: I muse why he chose rather to make her away by open violence than by some Italian comfortive.'
Hereof,' said the gentleman, 'may be divers reasons alleged. First: that he was not at that time so skilful in those Italian wares, nor had about him so fit physicians and chirurgeons for the purpose; nor yet do I think that his mind was so settled then in mischief, as it hath been since; for you know that men are not desperate the first day, but do enter into mischief by degrees, and with some doubt, or staggering of conscience, at the beginning; and so he, at that time, might be desirous to have his wife made away with, for that she letted him in his designments, but yet not so strong-hearted as to appoint out the particular manner of her death, but rather to leave that to the discretion of the murderer. Secondly: it is not, also, unlike that he perscribed 20 Sir Richard Varney, at his going thither, that he should first attempt to
kill her by poison, and if that took not place, then by any other way howsoever to despatch her. This I prove by the report of old Dr. Bayly, who then lived in Oxford — another manner of man than he who now liveth about my lord of the same name and was professor of the physic lecture in the same university. This learned grave man
reported for most certain, that there was a practice in Cumnor, among the conspirators, to have poisoned the poor lady a little before she was killed, which was attempted in this order: they, seeing
. This was Doctor Julio, or Giuglio. Camden says that the disgrace of Archbishop Grindal was owing “to his having condemned the unlawful mar
riage of this Julio, an Italian physician, with another man's wife, while Leicester in vain opposed his pro ceedings therein."
RETROSPECT — VIEW OF TIIE GATE-HOUSE.
the good lady sad and heavy—as one that well knew, by her other handling, that her death was not far off—began to persuade her that her disease was abundance of melancholy and other humours, and therefore would needs counsel her to take some potion; which she absolutely refusing to do, as suspecting still the worst, they sent one day-unawares to her—for Dr. Bayly, and desired him to persuade her to take some little potion at his hands, and they would send to fetch the same at Oxford, upon his prescription, meaning to have added, also, somewhat of their own for her comfort, as the doctor, upon just cause, suspected. Seeing their great importunity, and the small need which the good lady had of physic, therefore he flatly denied their request; misdoubting, as he afterwards reported, lest, if they had poisoned her under the name of his potion, he might have been hanged for a colour of their sin. Marry, the said doctor remained well assured that this way taking no place, she should not long escape violence, as after ensued.”—Sec. Mem.
In taking leave of Kenilworth, one cannot but regret with Fuller that so splendid a structure should have passed so rapidly into a mass of ruins; and that, not by the slow waste of tiine—not by the frequency of siege, nor the
severity of tempests,—but by the wanton hand of aggression. “I am not stocked with charity,” says this quaint writer, " to pity the miners thereof, if the materials of this castle answered not their expectation who destroyed it. Some castles," he adds, “ have been demolished for security, which I behold destroyed, se defendendo,' without offence; others demolished in the heat of wars, which I look upon as Castle Slaughter: but I cannot excuse the destruction of this Castle from wilful murder, being done in cold blood since the end of the wars."
“Hark! 'twas a stone that from yon turret top
Dropp'd heavily upon the sod below.
Summary.-Consulting the ground-plan of Kenilworth, we find that the dungeons lay at the western extremity of the castle, the part which is now most ruinous. They were situated under Mervyn's Tower—a sallyport of the castle, and which we apprehend formed, with Cæsar's Tower, the substance of the original fortress-probably Saxon. This portion of the ruins we examined, but found it a mere shapeless heap, with some indications of strong vaultings, sufficient to justify the belief of their having been places of confinement in the ruder and more warlike days of the Barony. Kenilworth, in the absence of additions absolutely modern, affords specimens of the architecture of more various periods than most English castles. The Keep, or Cæsar's Tower (p. 214), corresponds in some important points with the recognized specimens of Saxon building extant at Bamborough, showing the same narrow buttresses traversing the entire elevation; and a window remaining on the eastern face of the Keep, narrow, with a circular arch, and diminishing inward to a mere slit, is of a corresponding time. Supposing the body of the Keep to date before the Norman Conquest, we take the wings to be of Norman addition, from their being similar to the castle at Newcastle-on-Tyne, built immediately after the Conquest. Some portions on the western side indicate additions made about the time of Edward the Third, by John of Gaunt, and called Lancaster's Building (p. 224); some of the windows of the great Hall (p. 220–222) are beautiful examples of this period. Near this quarter, on the south-western angle of the group, are some turrets constructed so as to be defended by three archers back to back, the loopholes extending outwards, and giving them the means of annoying an invading party under a sufficient cover. In Leicester Buildings (p. 231) are some elegant remains, particularly a superb oriel; and in this part are the details of a very delicate and elaborate style.
The Gate-House (p. 232) is comparatively recent; and some tall gabled
ENVIRONS-SEAL OF THE PRIORY.
curious variety o
puritanic-looking dwellings patched upon it, in an ungainly fashion, may from their aspect have been the work of those commissioners of the Parliament who made such havoc upon the venerable pile committed to their charge. -MS. Notes, A. May, 1842.
Environs.—The Priory of Kenilworth—of which our notice must be very brief (p. 215)-originally occupied a considerable space, which is indicated by the remains of foundations, a perfect portion of which--the base of the Chapter House—was exposed by the sexton while digging in the churchyard. This has been cleared, and exhibits the base of an octagonal building with buttresses, adjacent to which is the burialplace of the Priors, which has probably been a cloister: the graves are marked by stone slabs bearing a curious variety of sculptured crosses. The remaining portions of the Priory are all of the early pointed style, with the exception of the Chapel, which evinces, by the peculiar construction of the window, a very early period. The roof of the Chapel has been richly decorated with projecting heads sculptured in a good style; one of these lies in the interior of the Priory Gate-House. The parish Church immediately adjacent to the Priory, has a richly-ornamented circular door, and in the tower a pleasing chime of bells, one of which, originally belonging to the Priory, retains its monastic habit of duly chiming the matins and curfew. The writer was much struck with the effect of the former, on waking early on the first morning of his sojourn in Kenilworth, and making inquiry of the sexton in the course of the day, was informed that it was one of his functions to announce the dawn and sunset in this manner daily throughout the year.–From MS. Notes by an eminent Artist, communicated to the Editor.
The Town of Kenilworth, in addition to the few particulars which will be found scattered through the preceding pages, has nothing of paramount interest for the stranger. It extends along the post-road for nearly a mile, and contains various schools (liberally supported), almshouses, and other charities, which reflect the greatest credit on their founders and patrons. The population is considerably upwards of three thousand, but with very little trade. The parish church contains a splendid window of modern stained glass, contributed by the late Bishop of Lichfield when Master of