Imatges de pÓgina

And, as he comes along, he still proclaims
His arms are only to remove from thee

The duke of Somerset, whom he terms a traitor. [K. Henry.] Was ever king that joy’d an earthly throne,

And could command no more content than I ?
No sooner was I crept out of my cradle,
But I was made a king at nine months old :
Ah! never subject long’d to be a king,
As I do long and wish to be a subject.
Just as a ship that, having 'scaped a tempest,
Is straightway calm'd and boarded by a pirate,
So stands my state, 'twixt York and Cade, distress'd.
But now is Čade driven back, his men dispers’d;
And now is York in arms :
I pray thee, Buckingham, go meet with him,
And ask him, what's the reason of these arms;
Tell him, I'll send duke Edmund to the Tower;
—'Twere wise, until his army be dismiss'd ;
And be not rough with him, my lord of Buckingham ;
For he is fierce, and cannot brook hard language.
-Come, wife, let's in, and learn to govern better;
For yet may England curse my wretched reign.


It was in 1452 that the duke of York first appeared in arms with hostile demonstrations toward the reigning house, but under pretence that his sole object was the removal of the duke of Somerset from the king's councils. Buckingham, going to meet him, persuaded him to an interview; at which York found that he had allowed himself to be entrapped: in consequence of which, he moderated even his ostensible pretensions, and, agreeing to dismiss his forces, retired for a time to his seat at Wigmore on the borders of Wales. But two years after, when circumstances had strengthened the hands of his party, the Lancastrians were obliged to send Somerset to the Tower, and to make York protector of England, on the occasion of a sickness which befel the king, and reduced him for a time to total incapacity. On the recovery of the king, the Lancastrians endeavoured to annul these acts; to maintain the effect of which, York collected an army, and successfully fought the first battle of St. Albans, namely, in 1455, when Somerset was killed. Still the two parties were able to maintain their struggles with no decisive advantage to either. In 1458 a reconciliation was outwardly effected; but this was soon broken ; and toward the end of the following year was fought the battle of Bloreheath on the borders of Staffordshire. This proved in favour of the Yorkists; but some desertions from their side obliged their leaders to retreat for a season, till the parties again faced each other, in 1460 at Northampton. Here some of the leaders on both sides were slain, among whom were Shrewsbury and Buckingham ; but the Yorkists were victorious and the king was taken prisoner. In the same year a parliament was held at Westminster, in which the claims of the rival houses were discussed. The result was, that while the crown was confirmed to Henry for his life, he was obliged to resign the succession to the house of York, and thus to prejudice the claim of his son. with her infant son, had, in the mean time, fled from the lost field of Northampton; and, collecting a large army in the north, she marched southward to recover her son's right. York, with an inferior force, hastened to stop her; and the battle of Wakefield was the consequence, which was fought at the close of the same year.

The queen,




In the battle of Wakefield, Dec. 24, 1460, the duke of York was slain, and three thousand of the Yorkists fell. Clifford, the queen's general, murdered with his own hands, in cold blood, the youthful earl of Rutland, the second of York's four sons, in revenge for the death of the elder Clifford, his father, who perished at St. Alban’s. The earl of Salisbury, and other noblemen, were beheaded when the battle was over, by what they called martial law. After this success the queen divided her army; of which the smaller division, commanded by Pembroke, was defeated at Mortimer's Cross by young Edward, now become duke of York; but the larger division, which she herself accompanied, was successful against Warwick at the second battle of St. Alban's, where the king again fell into the hands of his own party. The queen was, however, obliged to retreat again to the north, where she increased her army. The Yorkists followed her, and gained the battle of Towton, on the 29th March, 1461. In the mean time, the young Edward, duke of York, had secured the suffrage of the Londoners, and mounted the throne as Edward IV.

Edward and Richard, the eldest and youngest sons of Richard duke of York, have made their way successfully to a plain near Mortimer's Cross, in Herefordshire, thus far in ignorance of their father's fate at Wakefield. A messenger

has arriced from thence, and we are to imagine the young men listening to him,-Edward with head averted to hide his tears,—Richard with a stern fierce countenance in which the traits of grief are quite obliterated by the emotions of stronger revenge : the messenger speaks : [Messenger.] My lords, I was a woful looker-on,

What time the noble duke of York was slain.
Environ'd as he was by many foes,
He stood against them all; till weak, at last,
By many


father was subdued ;
But slaughter'd only by the ireful arm
Of unrelenting Clifford, and the queen.
She crown'd the dying duke, and in despite
Laugh'd in his face; and, when with grief he wept,
Gave him, to dry his tears, a napkin steep'd
In youthful Rutland's blood, by Clifford slain.
Then, after many scorns and taunts, bei’ng dead,
His head they took; and rais'd it on the gates

Of York, the saddest sight that e’er I view’d. [Edward.] Alas! our prop to lean upon is gone!

Our staff, our stay! O Clifford, thou hast slain
The flower of Europe for his chivalry ;
And treacherously hast thou vanquish'd him,
Who, hand to hand, could well have vanquish'd thee.

O never henceforth shall I joy again!
[Richard.] I cannot weep; for all my body's moisture

Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart :
Nor can my tongue unload my heart's great burthen.
Richard, I bear thy name; I 'll venge thy death,
Or die attempting it.—And if that thou
Be truly born that princely eagle's bird,


Show thy descent by gazing 'gainst the sun.
Beyond thy ducal chair, look to the throne;
For that is thine, or else thou art not his.

The earl of Warwick and other noblemen of the York party here make their appearance in advance of their forces : Richard continues speaking:

Great lord of Warwick, if we should recount
Our baleful news, and stab, at each word's utterance,
Our poniards in our flesh till all were told,

The wounds would give less anguish than our words. [Warwick.] I know your news; the duke of York is slain.

Ten days ago I drown'd it in my tears.
And now, to add more measure to your woes,
I come to tell of things since then befallen.
Soon as the tidings came of your defeat,
I, then in London, keeper of the king,
Muster'd my soldiers, gather'd flocks of friends,
And march'd forthwith to intercept the queen,
The king being still with me: short tale to make,
We at Saint Alban's met, and straightway fought;
But whether 'twas the presence of the king,
Who look'd full gently on his warlike queen,
That robb’d my soldiers of their spleen and hatred ;
Or whether 'twas report of her success,
And more than common fear of Clifford's rigour,
I cannot judge,—but, to confess the truth,
Their weapons came and went like lightning: ours,
Like to the flails that lazy threshers use.
I cheer'd my men with justice of our cause,
With promise of high pay, and great rewards;
But all in vain ; they had no heart to fight,

we, in them, no hope to win the day.
The king escap'd us, and has join'd the queen.
Lord George your brother, Norfolk, and myself,
Hearing that you were more successful here,
Are come in haste, post haste to join with you.

[Rich.] 'Twas odds, methinks, when valiant Warwick fled:

Oft have I heard his praises in pursuit,

But ne'er till now his scandal in retiring. [Warwick.] Nor now my scandal, Richard, dost thou hear.

For thou shalt know this strong right hand of mine
Would pluck the diadem from Henry's head,

Were he as bold in war as fam’d for praying. [Richard.] I know it well, lord Warwick : blame me not;

'Tis love I bear thy glories makes me speak.
But, in this troublous time, what's to be done ?
Shall we go throw away our coats of steel,
And number A-ve-Maries with our beads ?
Or shall we, on the helmets of our foes,

Tell our devotions by the blows we sound ? [Warwick.] Why therefore Warwick came to seek you out. The queen, I think, is thirty thousand strong:

Let our united power be five-and-twenty,
And we again will back our foaming steeds,
Again we'll raise the cry—“Charge, charge the foe,”
But never once again turn back and fly.
Lord Edward,
No longer earl of Marche, but duke of York,
The next degree, remember, is the throne:
For king of England shalt thou be proclaim'd
In every borough as we pass along;
And he that throws not up his cap for joy,
Shall for the fault make forfeit of his head.
Stay we no longer dreaming of renown,

But sound the trumpets, and about our task.

queen retires northward : our thoughts must anticipate her; and, taking stand at the gates of the city of York, we must imagine the approach of King Henry, Margaret, the young prince, Clifford, Northumberland, and others. The queen, pointing to the summit of the gates, addresses her husband : [Q. Marg.] Behold, my lord, the welcome gates of York,

Surmounted by the head of that arch-enemy,

« AnteriorContinua »