Henry VIII And His Court
Part 2 out of 9
despises, and his pitiful weakness it laughs to scorn. Bah! Humanity
is such a wretched, miserable thing, that it only respects and
acknowledges him who makes it tremble. And people are such
contemptible, foolish children, that they have respect only for him
who makes them feel the lash daily, and every now and then whips a
few of them to death. Look at me, Kate: where is there a king who
has reigned longer and more happily than I? whom the people love
more and obey better than me? This arises from the fact that I have
already signed more than two hundred death-warrants, [Footnote:
Tytler, p. 428. Leti, vol. i, p. 187.] and because every one
believes that, if he does not obey me, I will without delay send his
head after the others!"
"Oh, you say you love me," murmured Catharine, "and you speak only
of blood and death while you are with me."
The king laughed. "You are right, Kate," said he, "and yet, believe
me, there are other thoughts slumbering in the depths of my heart,
and could you look down into it, you would not accuse me of coldness
and unkindness. I love you truly, my dear, virgin bride, and, to
prove it, you shall now ask a favor of me. Yes, Kate, make me a
request, and, whatever it may be, I pledge you my royal word, it
shall be granted you. Now, Kate, think, what will please you? Will
you have brilliants, or a castle by the sea, or, perhaps, a yacht?
Would you like fine horses, or it may be some one has offended you,
and you would like his head? If so, tell me, Kate, and you shall
have his head; a wink from me, and it drops at your feet. For I am
almighty and all-powerful, and no one is so innocent and pure, that
my will cannot find in him a crime which will cost him his life.
Speak, then, Kate; what would you have? What will gladden your
Catharine smiled in spite of her secret fear and horror. "Sire,"
said she, "you have given me so many brilliants, that I can shine
and glitter with them, as night does with her stars. If you give me
a castle by the sea, that is, at the same time, banishing me from
Whitehall and your presence; I wish, therefore, for no castle of my
own. I wish only to dwell with you in your castles, and my king's
abode shall be my only residence."
"Beautifully and wisely spoken," said the king; "I will remember
these words if ever your enemies endeavor to send you to a dwelling
and a castle other than that which your king occupies. The Tower is
also a castle, Kate, but I give you my royal word you shall never
occupy that castle. You want no treasures and no castles? It is,
then, somebody's head that you demand of me?"
"Yes, sire, it is the head of some one!"
"Ah, I guessed it, then," said the king with a laugh. "Now speak, my
little bloodthirsty queen, whose head will you have? Who shall be
brought to the block?"
"Sire, it is true I ask you for the head of a person," said
Catharine, in a tender, earnest tone, "but I wish not that head to
fall, but to be lifted up. I beg you for a human life--not to
destroy it, but, on the contrary, to adorn it with happiness and
joy. I wish to drag no one to prison, but to restore to one, dearly
beloved, the freedom, happiness, and splendid position which belong
to her. Sire, you have permitted me to ask a favor. Now, then, I beg
you to call the Princess Elizabeth to court. Let her reside with us
at Whitehall. Allow her to be ever near me, and share my happiness
and glory. Sire, only yesterday the Princess Elizabeth was far above
me in rank and position, but since your all-powerful might and grace
have to-day elevated me above all other women, I may now love the
Princess Elizabeth as my sister and dearest friend. Grant me this,
my king! Let Elizabeth come to us at Whitehall, and enjoy at our
court the honor which is her due." [Footnote: Leti, vol. i. p. 147.
Tytler. p. 410.]
The king did not reply immediately; but in his quiet and smiling air
one could read that his young consort's request had not angered him.
Something like an emotion flitted across his face, and his eyes were
for a moment dimmed with tears. Perhaps just then a pale, soul-
harrowing phantom passed before his mind, and a glance at the past
showed him the beautiful and unfortunate mother [Footnote: Ann
Boleyn] of Elizabeth, whom he had sentenced to a cruel death at the
hands of the public executioner, and whose last word nevertheless
was a blessing and a message of love for him.
He passionately seized Catharine's hand and pressed it to his lips.
"I thank you! You are unselfish and generous. That is a very rare
quality, and I shall always highly esteem you for it. But you are
also brave and courageous, for you have dared what nobody before you
has dared; you have twice on the same evening interceded for one
condemned and one fallen into disgrace. The fortunate, and those
favored by me, have always had many friends, but I have never yet
seen that the unfortunate and the exiled have also found friends.
You are different from these miserable, cringing courtiers;
different from this deceitful and trembling crowd, that with
chattering teeth fall down and worship me as their god and lord;
different from these pitiful, good-for-nothing mortals, who call
themselves my people, and who allow me to yoke them up, because they
are like the ox, which is obedient and serviceable, only because he
is so stupid as not to know his own might and strength. Ah, believe
me, Kate, I would be a milder and more merciful king, if the people
were not such an utterly stupid and contemptible thing; a dog, which
is so much the more submissive and gentle the more vou maltreat him.
You, Kate, you are different, and I am glad of it. You know, I have
forever banished Elizabeth from my court and from my heart, and
still you intercede for her. That is noble of you, and I love you
for it, and grant you your request. And that you may see how I love
and trust you, I will now reveal to you a secret: I have long since
wished to have Elizabeth with me, but I was ashamed, even to myself,
of this weakness. I have long yearned once again to look into my
daughter's large deep eyes, to be a kind and tender father to her,
and make some amends to her for the wrong I perhaps may have done to
her mother. For sometimes, in sleepless nights, Anne's beautiful
face comes up before me and gazes at me with mournful, mild look,
and my whole heart shudders before it. But I could not confess this
to anybody, for then they might say that I repented what I had done.
A king must be infallible, like God himself, and never, through
regret or desire to compensate, confess that he is a weak, erring
mortal, like others. You see why I repressed my longing and parental
tenderness, which was suspected by no one, and appeared to be a
heartless father, because nobody would help me and make it easy for
me to be a tender father. Ah, these courtiers! They are so stupid,
that they can understand only just what is echoed in our words; but
what our heart says, and longs for, of that they know nothing. But
you know, Kate; you are an acute woman, and a high-minded one
besides. Come, Kate, a thankful father gives you this kiss, and
this, ay, this, your husband gives you, my beautiful, charming
HENRY THE EIGHTH AND HIS WIVES.
The calm of night had now succeeded to the tempest of the day, and
after so much bustle, festivity, and rejoicing, deep quiet now
reigned in the palace of Whitehall, and throughout London. The happy
subjects of King Henry might, without danger, remain for a few hours
at least in their houses, and behind closed shutters and bolted
doors, either slumber and dream, or give themselves to their
devotional exercises, on account of which they had that day,
perhaps, been denounced as malefactors. They might, for a few hours,
resign themselves to the sweet, blissful dream of being freemen
untrammelled in belief and thought. For King Henry slept, and
likewise Gardiner and the lord chancellor had closed their watchful,
prying, devout, murderous eyes, and reposed awhile from the
Christian employment of ferreting out heretics.
And like the king, the entire households of both their majesties
were also asleep and resting from the festivities of the royal
wedding-day, which, in pomp and splendor, by far surpassed the five
It appeared, however, as though not all the court officials were
taking rest, and following the example of the king. For in a
chamber, not far from that of the royal pair, one could perceive,
from the bright beams streaming from the windows, in spite of the
heavy damask curtains which veiled them, that the lights were not
yet extinguished; and he who looked more closely would have observed
that now and then a human shadow was portrayed upon the curtain.
So the occupant of this chamber had not yet gone to rest, and
harassing must have been the thoughts which cause him to move so
restlessly to and fro.
This chamber was occupied by Lady Jane Douglas, first maid of honor
to the queen. The powerful influence of Gardiner, Bishop of
Winchester, had seconded Catharine's wish to have near her the dear
friend of her youth, and, without suspecting it, the queen had given
a helping hand to bring nearer to their accomplishment the schemes
which the hypocritical Gardiner was directing against her.
For Catharine knew not what changes had taken place in the character
of her friend in the four years in which she had not seen her. She
did not suspect how fatal her sojourn in the strongly Romish city of
Dublin had been to the easily impressible mind of her early
playmate, and how much it had transformed her whole being. Lady
Jane, once so sprightly and gay, had become a bigoted Romanist, who,
with fanatical zeal, believed that she was serving God when she
served the Church, and paid unreserved obedience to her priests.
Lady Jane Douglas had therefore--thanks to her fanaticism and the
teachings of the priests--become a complete dissembler. She could
smile, while in her heart she secretly brooded over hatred and
revenge. She could kiss the lips of those whose destruction she had
perhaps just sworn. She could preserve a harmless, innocent air,
while she observed everything, and took notice of every breath,
every smile, every movement of the eyelashes.
Hence it was very important for Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, to
bring his "friend" of the queen to court, and make of this disciple
of Loyola an ally and friend.
Lady Jane Douglas was alone; and, pacing up and down her room, she
thought over the events of the day.
Now, that no one was observing her, she had laid aside that gentle,
serious mien, which one was wont to see about her at other times;
her countenance betrayed in rapid changes all the various sad and
cheerful, tempestuous and tender feelings which agitated her.
She who had hitherto had only one aim before her eyes, to serve the
Church, and to consecrate her whole life to this service; she whose
heart had been hitherto open only to ambition and devotion, she felt
to-day wholly new and never-suspected feelings springing up within
her. A new thought had entered into her life, the woman was awakened
in her, and beat violently at that heart which devotion had overlaid
with a hard coating.
She had tried to collect herself in prayer, and to fill her soul so
entirely with the idea of God and her Church, that no earthly
thought or desire could find place therein. But ever and again arose
before her mind's eye the noble countenance of Henry Howard, ever
and again she fancied that she heard his earnest, melodious voice,
which made her heart shake and tremble like a magical incantation.
She had at first struggled against these sweet fancies, which forced
upon her such strange and undreamed-of thoughts; but at length the
woman in her got the better of the fanatical Romanist, and, dropping
into a seat, she surrendered herself to her dreams and fancies.
"Has he recognized me?" asked she of herself. "Does he still
remember that a year ago we saw each other daily at the king's court
"But no," added she mournfully," he knows nothing of it. He had then
eyes and sense only for his young wife. Ah, and she was beautiful
and lovely as one of the Graces. But I, am not I also beautiful? and
have not the noblest cavaliers paid me homage, and sighed for me in
unavailing love? How comes it, then, that where I would please,
there I am always overlooked? How comes it, that the only two men,
for whose notice I ever cared, have never shown any preference for
me? I felt that I loved Henry Howard, but this love was a sin, for
the Earl of Surrey was married. I therefore tore my heart from him
by violence, and gave it to God, because the only man whom I could
love did not return my affection. But even God and devotion are not
able to entirely fill a woman's heart. In my breast there was still
room for ambition; and since I could not be a happy wife, I would at
least be a powerful queen. Oh, everything was so well devised, so
nicely arranged! Gardiner had already spoken of me to the king, and
inclined him to his plan; and while I was hastening at his call from
Duma, hither, this little Catharine Parr comes between and snatches
him from me, and overturns all our schemes. I will never forgive
her. I will find a way to revenge myself. I will force her to leave
this place, which belongs to me, and if there is no other way for
it, she must go the way of the scaffold, as did Catharine Howard. I
will be Queen of England, I will--"
She suddenly interrupted her soliloquy, and listened. She thought
she heard a slight knock at the door. She was not mistaken; this
knock was now repeated, and indeed with a peculiar, significant
"It is my father!" said Lady Jane, and, as she resumed again her
grave and quiet air, she proceeded to open the door.
"Ah, you expected me, then?" said Lord Archibald Douglas, kissing
his daughter's forehead.
"Yes, I expected you, my father," replied Lady Jane with a smile. "I
knew that you would come to communicate to me your experiences and
observations during the day, and to give me directions for the
The earl seated himself on the ottoman, and drew his daughter down
"No one can overhear us, can they?"
"Nobody, my father! My women are sleeping in the fourth chamber from
here, and I have myself fastened the intervening doors. The anteroom
through which you came is, as you know, entirely empty, and nobody
can conceal himself there. It remains, then, only to fasten the door
leading thence into the corridor, in order to be secure from
She hastened into the anteroom to fasten the door.
"Now, my father, we are secure from listeners," said she, as she
returned and resumed her place on the ottoman.
"And the walls, my child? know you whether or no the walls are safe?
You look at me with an expression of doubt and surprise! My God,
what a harmless and innocent little maiden you still are! Have I not
constantly reiterated the great and wise lesson, 'Doubt everything
and mistrust everything, even what you see.' He who will make his
fortune at court, must first of all mistrust everybody, and consider
everybody his enemy, whom he is to flatter, because he can do him
harm, and whom he is to hug and kiss, until in some happy embrace he
can either plunge a dagger into his breast wholly unobserved, or
pour poison into his mouth. Trust neither men nor walls, Jane, for I
tell you, however smooth and innocent both may appear, still there
may he found an ambuscade behind the smooth exterior. But I will for
the present believe that these walls are innocent, and conceal no
listeners. I will believe it, because I know this room. Those were
fine and charming days in which I became acquainted with it. Then I
was yet young and handsome, and King Henry's sister was not yet
married to the King of Scotland, and we loved each other so dearly.
Ah, I could relate to you wonderful stories of those happy days. I
"But, my dear father," interrupted Lady Jane, secretly trembling at
the terrible prospect of being forced to listen yet again to the
story of his youthful love, which she had already heard times
without number, "but, my dear father, doubtless you have not come
hither so late at night in order to relate to me what I--forgive me,
my lord--what I long since knew. You will rather communicate to me
what your keen and unerring glance has discovered here."
"It is true," said Lord Douglas, sadly. "I now sometimes become
loquacious--a sure sign that I am growing old. I have, by no means,
come here to speak of the past, but of the present. Let us, then,
speak of it. Ah, I have to-day perceived much, seen much, observed
much, and the result of my observations is, you will be King Henry's
"Impossible, my lord!" exclaimed Lady Jane, whose countenance, in
spite of her will, assumed an expression of delight.
Her father remarked it. "My child," said he, "I observe that you
have not yet your features entirely under your control. You aimed
just now, for example, to play the coy and humble, and yet your face
had the expression of proud satisfaction. But this by the way! The
principal thing is, you will be King Henry's seventh wife! But in
order to become so, there is need for great heedfulness, a complete
knowledge of present relations, constant observation of all persons,
impenetrable dissimulation, and lastly, above all things, a very
intimate and profound knowledge of the king, of the history of his
reign, and of his character. Do you possess this knowledge? Know you
what it is to wish to become King Henry's seventh wife, and how you
must begin in order to attain this? Have you studied Henry's
"A little, perhaps, but certainly not sufficiently. For, as you
know, my lord, worldly matters have lain upon my heart less than the
holy Church, to whose service I have consecrated myself, and to
which I would have presented my whole being, my whole soul, my whole
heart, as a sacrifice, had not you yourself determined otherwise
concerning me. Ah, my father, had I been allowed to follow my
inclination, I would have retired into a convent in Scotland in
order to spend my life in quiet contemplation and pious penances,
and close my soul and ear to every profane sound. But my wishes have
not been regarded; and, by the mouth of His venerable and holy
priests, God has commanded me to remain in the world, and take upon
myself the yoke of greatness and regal splendor. If I then struggle
and strive to become queen, this is done, not because the vain pomp
and glory allure me, but solely because through me the Church, out
of which is no salvation, may find a fulcrum to operate on this weak
and fickle king, and because I am to bring him back again to the
only true faith."
"Very well played!" cried her father, who had stared her steadily in
the face while she was speaking. "On my word, very well played.
Everything was in perfect harmony, the gesticulation, the play of
the eyes, and the voice. My daughter, I withdraw my censure. You
have perfect control over yourself. But let us speak of King Henry.
We will now subject him to a thorough analysis, and no fibre of his
heart, no atom of his brain shall remain unnoticed by us. We will
observe him in his domestic, his political, and his religious life,
and get a perfectly clear view of every peculiarity of his
character, in order that we may deal with him accordingly. Let us,
then, speak first of his wives. Their lives and deaths afford you
excellent finger-posts; for I do not deny that it is an extremely
difficult and dangerous undertaking to be Henry's consort. There is
needed for it much personal courage and very great self-control.
Know you which, of all his wives, possessed these in the highest
degree? It was his first consort, Catharine of Aragon! By Heaven,
she was a sensible woman, and born a queen! Henry, avaricious as he
was, would gladly have given the best jewel in his crown, if he
could have detected but a shadow, the slightest trace of
unfaithfulness in her. But there was absolutely no means of sending
this woman to the scaffold, and at that time he was as yet too
cowardly and too virtuous to put her out of the way by poison. He,
therefore, endured her long, until she was an old woman with gray
hairs, and disagreeable for his eyes to look upon. So after he had
been married to her seventeen years, the good, pious king was all at
once seized with a conscientious scruple, and because he had read in
the Bible, 'Thou shalt not marry thy sister,' dreadful pangs of
conscience came upon the noble and crafty monarch. He fell upon his
knees and beat his breast, and cried: 'I have committed a great sin;
for I have married my brother's wife, and consequently my sister.
But I will make amends for it. I will dissolve this adulterous
marriage!'--Do you know, child, why he would dissolve it?"
"Because he loved Anne Boleyn!" said Jane, with a smile.
"Perfectly correct! Catharine had grown old, and Henry was still a
young man, and his blood shot through his veins like streams of
fire. Hut he was yet somewhat virtuous and timid, and the main
peculiarity of his character was as yet undeveloped. He was not yet
bloodthirsty, that is to say, he had not yet licked blood. But you
will see how with each new queen his desire for blood increased,
till at length it has now become a wasting disease. Had he then had
the system of lies that he now has, he would somehow have bribed a
slanderer, who would have declared that he was Catharine's lover.
But he was yet so innocent; he wanted yet to gratify his darling
lusts in a perfectly legal way. So Anne Boleyn must become his
queen, that he might love her. And in order to attain this, he threw
down the glove to the whole world, became an enemy to the pope, and
set himself in open opposition to the holy head of the Church.
Because the Holy Father would not dissolve his marriage, King Henry
became an apostate and atheist. He constituted himself head of his
Church, and, by virtue of his authority as such, he declared his
marriage with Catharine of Aragon null and void. He said that he had
not in his heart given his consent to this marriage, and that it had
not consequently been properly consummated.[Footnote: Burnet, vol.
i, p. 37.] It is true, Catharine had in the Princess Mary a living
witness of the consummation of her marriage, but what did the
enamored and selfish king care about that? Princess Mary was
declared a bastard, and the queen was now to be nothing more than
the widow of the Prince of Wales. It was strictly forbidden to
longer give the title and to show the honor due to a queen, to the
woman who for seventeen years had been Queen of England, and had
been treated and honored as such. No one was permitted to call her
anything but the Princess of Wales; and that nothing might disturb
the good people or the noble queen herself in this illusion,
Catharine was banished from the court and exiled to a castle, which
she had once occupied as consort of Arthur, Prince of Wales. And
Henry likewise allowed her only the attendance and pension which the
law appoints to the widow of the Prince of Wales.[Footnote: Burnet,
vol. i, p. 120.]
"I have ever held this to be one of the most prudent and subtle acts
of our exalted king, and in the whole history of this divorce the
king conducted himself with admirable consistency and resolution.
But this is to say, he was excited by opposition. Mark this, then,
my child, for this is the reason why I have spoken to you of these
things so much at length. Mark this, then: King Henry is every way
entirely unable to bear contradiction, or to be subjected to
restraint. If you wish to win him to any purpose, you must try to
draw him from it; you must surround it with difficulties and
hinderances. Therefore show yourself coy and indifferent; that will
excite him. Do not court his looks; then will he seek to encounter
yours. And when finally he loves you, dwell so long on your virtue
and your conscience, that at length Henry, in order to quiet your
conscience, will send this troublesome Catharine Parr to the block,
or do as he did with Catharine of Aragon, and declare that he did
not mentally give his consent to this marriage, and therefore
Catharine is no queen, but only Lord Neville's widow. Ah, since he
made himself high-priest of his Church, there is no impediment for
him in matters of this kind, for only God is mightier than he.
"The beautiful Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife, proved this. I have
seen her often, and I tell you, Jane, she was of wondrous beauty.
Whoever looked upon her, could not but love her, and he whom she
smiled upon felt himself fascinated and glorified. When she had
borne to the king the Princess Elizabeth, I heard him say, that he
had attained the summit of his happiness, the goal of his wishes,
for the queen had borne him a daughter, and so there was a regular
and legitimate successor to his throne. But this happiness lasted
only a brief time.
"The king conceived one day that Anne Boleyn was not, as he had
hitherto believed, the most beautiful woman in the world; but that
there were women still more beautiful at his court, who therefore
had a stronger vocation to become Queen of England. He had seen Jane
Seymour, and she without doubt was handsomer than Anne Boleyn, for
she was not as yet the king's consort, and there was an obstacle to
his possession of her--the Queen Anne Boleyn. This obstacle must be
go out of the way.
"Henry, by virtue of his plentitude of power, might again have been
divorced from his wife, but he did not like to repeat himself, he
wished to be always original; and no one was to be allowed to say
that his divorces were only the cloak of his capricious lewdness.
"He had divorced Catharine of Aragon on account of conscientious
scruples; therefore, some other means must be devised for Anne
"The shortest way to be rid of her was the scaffold. Why should not
Anne travel that road, since so many had gone it before her? for a
new force had entered into the king's life: the tiger had licked
blood! His instinct was aroused, and he recoiled no more from those
crimson rills which flowed in the veins of his subjects.
"He had given Lady Anne Boleyn the crimson mantle of royalty, why
then should she not give him her crimson blood? For this there was
wanted only a pretext, and this was soon found. Lady Rochfort was
Jane Seymour's aunt, and she found some men, of whom she asserted
that they had been lovers of the fair Anne Boleyn. She, as the
queen's first lady of the bed-chamber, could of course give the most
minute particulars concerning the matter, and the king believed her.
He believed her, though these four pretended lovers of the queen,
who were executed for their crime, all, with the exception of a
single one, asseverated that Anne Boleyn was innocent, and that they
had never been in her presence. The only one who accused the queen
of illicit intercourse with him was James Smeaton, a musician.
[Footnote: Tytler.] But he had been promised his life for this
confession. However, it was not thought advisable to keep this
promise, for fear that, when confronted with the queen, he might not
have the strength to sustain his assertion. But not to be altogether
unthankful to him for so useful a confession, they showed him the
favor of not executing him with the axe, but the more agreeable and
easier death of hanging was vouchsafed to him.[Footnote: Burnet,
vol. i, p. 205.]
"So the fair and lovely Anne Boleyn must lay her head upon the
block. The day on which this took place, the king had ordered a
great hunt, and early that morning we rode out to Epping Forest. The
king was at first unusually cheerful and humorous, and he commanded
me to ride near him, and tell him something from the chronique
scandaleuse of our court. He laughed at my spiteful remarks, and the
worse I calumniated, the merrier was the king. Finally, we halted;
the king had talked and laughed so much that he had at last become
hungry. So he encamped under an oak, and, in the midst of his suite
and his dogs, he took a breakfast, which pleased him very much,
although he had now become a little quieter and more silent, and
sometimes turned his face toward the direction of London with
visible restlessness and anxiety. But suddenly was heard from that
direction the dull sound of a cannon. We all knew that this was the
signal which was to make known to the king that Anne Boleyn's head
had fallen. We knew it, and a shudder ran through our whole frames.
The king alone smiled, and as he arose and took his weapon from my
hand, he said, with cheerful face, 'It is done, the business is
finished. Unleash the dogs, and let us follow the boar.' [Footnote:
The king's very words. Tytler, p. 383. The oak. under which this
took place is still pointed out in Epping Forest, and in fact is not
less remarkable as the oak of Charles II.]
"That," said Lord Douglas, sadly, "that was King Henry's funeral
discourse over his charming and innocent wife."
"Do you regret her, my father?" asked Lady Jane, with surprise. "But
Anne Boleyn was, it seems to me, an enemy of our Church, and an
adherent of the accursed new doctrine."
Her father shrugged his shoulders almost contemptuously. That did
not prevent Lady Anne from being one of the fairest and loveliest
women of Old England. And, besides, much as she inclined to the new
doctrine, she did us essential good service, for she it was who bore
the blame of Thomas More's death. Since he had not approved her
marriage with the king, she hated him, as the king hated him because
he would not take the oath of supremacy. Henry, however, would have
spared him, for, at that time, he still possessed some respect for
learning and virtue, and Thomas More was so renowned a scholar that
the king held him in reverence. But Anne Boleyn demanded his death,
and so Thomas More must be executed. Oh, believe me, Jane, that was
an important and sad hour for all England, the hour when Thomas More
laid his head upon the block. We only, we gay people in the palace
of Whitehall, we were cheerful and merry. We were dancing a new kind
of dance, the music of which was written by the king himself, for
you know the king is not merely an author, but also a composer, and
as he now writes pious books, so he then composed dances. [Footnote:
Granger's "Biographical History of England," vol. I, p. 137. of
Tytler, p. 354.] That evening, after we had danced till we were
tired, we played cards. Just as I had won a few guineas from the
king, the lieutenant of the Tower came with the tidings that the
execution was over, and gave us a description of the last moments of
the great scholar. The king threw down his cards, and, turning an
angry look on Anne Boleyn, said, in an agitated voice, 'You are to
blame for the death of this man!' Then he arose and withdrew to his
apartments, while no one was permitted to follow him, not even the
queen. [Footnote: Tytler, p. 354] You see, then, that Anne Boleyn
had a claim on our gratitude, for the death of Thomas More delivered
Old England from another great peril. Melanchthon and Bucer, and
with them several of the greatest pulpit orators of Germany, had set
out to come to London, and, as delegates of the Germanic Protestant
princes, to nominate the king as head of their alliance. But the
terrible news of the execution of their friend frightened them back,
and caused them to return when half-way here. [Footnote: Tytler, p.
357. Leti, vol. I, p. 180. Granger, vol. I, p. 119.]
"Peace, then, to the ashes of unhappy Anne Boleyn! However, she was
avenged too, avenged on her successor and rival, for whose sake she
was made to mount the scaffold--avenged on Jane Seymour."
"But she was the king's beloved wife," said Jane, "and when she died
the king mourned for her two years."
"He mourned!" exclaimed Lord Douglas, contemptuously. "He has
mourned for all his wives. Even for Anne Boleyn he put on mourning,
and in his white mourning apparel, the day after Anne's execution,
he led Jane Seymour to the marriage altar! This outward mourning,
what does it signify? Anne Boleyn also mourned for Catharine of
Aragon, whom she had pushed from the throne. For eight weeks she was
seen in yellow mourning on account of Henry's first wife; but Anne
Boleyn was a shrewd woman, and she knew very well that the yellow
mourning dress was exceedingly becoming to her."
"But the king's mourning was not merely external," said Lady Jane.
"He mourned really, for it was two years before he resolved on a new
Earl Douglas laughed. "But he cheered himself during these two years
of widowhood with a very beautiful mistress, the French Marchioness
de Montreuil, and he would have married her had not the prudent
beauty preferred returning to France, because she found it
altogether too dangerous to become Henry's consort. For it is not to
be denied, a baleful star hovers over Henry's queens, and none of
them has descended from the throne in a natural way."
"Yet, father, Jane Seymour did so in a very natural way; she died in
"Well, yes, in childbed. And yet by no natural death, for she could
have been saved. But Henry did not wish to save her. His love had
already grown cool, and when the physicians asked him whether they
should save the mother or the child, he replied, 'Save the child,
and let the mother die. I can get wives enough.' [Footnote: Burnet.]
Ah, my daughter, I hope you may not die such a natural death as Jane
Seymour did, for whom, as you say, the king mourned two years. But
after that period, something new, something altogether extraordinary
happened to the king. He fell in love with a picture, and because,
in his proud self-conceit, he was convinced that the fine picture
which Holbein had made of him, was not at all flattered, but
entirely true to nature, it did not occur to him that Holbein's
likeness of the Princess Anne of Cleves might be somewhat flattered,
and not altogether faithful. So the king fell in love with a
picture, and sent ambassadors to Germany to bring the original of
the portrait to England as his bride. He himself went to meet her at
Rochester, where she was to land. Ah, my child, I have witnessed
many queer and droll things in my eventful life, but the scene at
Rochester, however, is among my most spicy recollections. The king
was as enthusiastic as a poet, and deep in love as a youth of
twenty, and so began our romantic wedding-trip, on which Henry
disguised himself and took part in it, assuming the name of my
cousin. As the king's master of horse, I was honored with the
commission of carrying to the young queen the greeting of her ardent
husband, and begging her to receive the knight, who would deliver to
her a present from the king. She granted my request with a grin
which made visible a frightful row of yellow teeth. I opened the
door, and invited the king to enter. Ah, you ought to have witnessed
that scene! It is the only farcial passage in the bloody tragedy of
Henry's married life. You should have seen with what hasty
impatience the king rushed in, then suddenly, at the sight of her,
staggered back and stared at the princess. Slowly retiring, he
silently thrust into my hand the rich present that he had brought,
while at the same time he threw a look of flaming wrath on Lord
Cromwell, who had brought him the portrait of the princess and won
him to this marriage. The romantic, ardent lover vanished with this
look at his beloved. He approached the princess again--this time not
as a cavalier, but, with harsh and hasty words, he told her he was
the king himself. He bade her welcome in a few words, and gave her a
cold, formal embrace. He then hastily took my hand and drew me out
of the room, beckoning the rest to follow him. And when at length we
were out of the atmosphere of this poor ugly princess, and far
enough away from her, the king, with angry countenance, said to
Cromwell: 'Call you that a beauty? She is a Flanders mare, but no
princess.' [Footnote: Burnet, p. 174. Tytler, p. 417.] Anne's
ugliness was surely given her of God, that by it, the Church, in
which alone is salvation, might be delivered from the great danger
which threatened it. For had Anne of Cleves, the sister, niece,
granddaughter and aunt of all the Protestant princes of Germany,
been beautiful, incalculable danger would have threatened our
church. The king could not overcome his repugnance, and again his
conscience, which always appeared to be most tender and scrupulous,
when it was farthest from it and most regardless, must come to his
"The king declared that he had been only in appearance, not in his
innermost conscience, disposed to this marriage, from which he now
shrank back, because it would be, properly speaking, nothing more
than perfidy, perjury, and bigamy. For Anne's father had once
betrothed her to the son of the Duke of Lorraine, and had solemnly
pledged him his word to give her as a wife to the young duke as soon
as she was of age; rings had been exchanged and the marriage
contract already drawn up. Anne of Cleves, therefore, was virtually
already married, and Henry, with his tender conscience, could not
make one already married his wife. [Footnote: Burnet.] He made her,
therefore, his sister, and gave her the palace at Richmond for a
residence, in case she wished to remain in England. She accepted it;
her blood, which crept coldly and quietly through her veins, did not
rise at the thought of being despised and repudiated. She accepted
it, and remained in England.
"She was rejected because she was ugly; and now the king selected
Catharine Howard for his fifth consort, because she was pretty. Of
this marriage I know but little to tell you, for, at that time, I
had already gone to Dublin as minister, whither you soon followed
me. Catharine was very beautiful, and the king's heart, now growing
old, once more flamed high with youthful love. He loved her more
warmly than any other of his wives. He was so happy in her that,
kneeling down publicly in the church, with a loud voice he thanked
God for the happiness which his beautiful young queen afforded him.
But this did not last long. Even while the king was extolling it,
his happiness had reached its highest point, and the next day he was
dashed down into the abyss. I speak without poetical exaggeration,
my child. The day before, he thanked God for his happiness, and the
next morning Catharine Howard was already imprisoned and accused, as
an unfaithful wife, a shameless strumpet.[Footnote: Tytler, p. 432.]
More than seven lovers had preceded her royal spouse, and some of
them had accompanied her even on the progress through Yorkshire,
which she made with the king her husband. This time it was no
pretence, for he had not yet had time to fall in love with another
woman, and Catharine well knew how to enchain him and ever to kindle
new flames within him. But just because he loved her, he could not
forgive her for having deceived him. In love there is so much
cruelty and hatred; and Henry, who but yesterday lay at her feet,
burned to-day with rage and jealousy, as yesterday with love and
rapture. In his rage, however, he still loved her, and when he held
in his hand indubitable proof of her guilt, he wept like a child.
But since he could no longer be her lover, he would be her hangman;
since she had spotted the crimson of his royal mantle, he would dye
it afresh with her own crimson blood. And he did so. Catharine
Howard was forced to lay her beautiful head upon the block, as Anne
Boleyn had done before her; and Anne's death was now once more
avenged. Lady Rochfort had been Anne Boleyn's accuser, and her
testimony had brought that queen to the scaffold; but now she was
convicted of being Catharine Howard's assistant and confidante in
her love adventures, and with Catharine, Lady Rochfort also ascended
"Ah, the king needed a long time to recover from this blow. He
searched two years for a pure, uncontaminated virgin, who might
become his queen without danger of the scaffold. But he found none;
so he took then Lord Neville's widow, Catharine Parr. But you know,
my child, that Catharine is an unlucky name for Henry's queens. The
first Catharine he repudiated, the second he beheaded. What will he
do with the third?"
Lady Jane smiled. "Catharine does not love him," said she, "and I
believe she would willingly consent, like Anne of Cleves, to become
his sister, instead of his wife."
"Catharine does not love the king?" inquired Lord Douglas, in
breathless suspense. "She loves another, then!"
"No, my father! Her heart is yet like a sheet of white paper: no
single name is yet inscribed there."
"Then we must write a name there, and this name must drive her to
the scaffold, or into banishment," said her father impetuously. "It
is your business, my child, to take a steel graver, and in some way
write a name in Catharine's heart so deep and indelibly, that the
king may some day read it there."
FATHER AND DAUGHTER.
Both now kept silent for a long time. Lord Douglas had leaned back
on the ottoman, and, respiring heavily, seemed to breathe a little
from the exertion of his long discourse. But while he rested, his
large, piercing eyes were constantly turned to Jane, who, leaning
back on the cushion, was staring thoughtfully into the empty air,
and seemed to be entirely forgetful of her father's presence.
A cunning smile played for a moment over the countenance of the earl
as he observed her, but it quickly disappeared, and now deep folds
of care gathered on his brow. As he saw that Lady Jane was plunging
deeper and deeper into reverie, he at length laid his hand on her
shoulder and hastily asked, "What are you thinking of, Jane?"
She gave a sudden start, and looked at the earl with an embarrassed
"I am thinking of all that you have been saying to me, my father,"
replied she, calmly. "I am considering what benefit to our object I
can draw from it."
Lord Douglas shook his head, and smiled incredulously. At length he
said solemnly: "Take care, Jane, take care that your heart does not
deceive your head. If we would reach our aim here, you must, above
all things, maintain a cool heart and a cool head. Do you still
possess both, Jane?"
In confusion she cast down her eyes before his penetrating look.
Lord Douglas noticed it, and a passionate word was already on his
lips. But he kept it back. As a prudent diplomat, he knew that it is
often more politic to destroy a thing by ignoring it, than to enter
into an open contest with it. The feelings are like the dragons'
teeth of Theseus. If you contend with them, they always grow again
anew, and with renewed energy, out of the soil. Lord Douglas,
therefore, was very careful not to notice his daughter's confusion.
"Pardon me, my daughter, if, in my zeal and my tender care for you,
I go too far. I know that your dear and beautiful head is cool
enough to wear a crown. I know that in your heart dwell only
ambition and religion. Let us, then, further consider what we have
to do in order to attain our end.
"We have spoken of Henry as a husband, of Henry as a man; and I hope
you have drawn some useful lessons from the fate of his wives. You
have learned that it is necessary to possess all the good and all
the bad qualities of woman in order to control this stiff-necked and
tyrannical, this lustful and bigoted, this vain and sensual man,
whom the wrath of God has made King of England. You must, before all
things, be perfect master of the difficult art of coquetry. You must
become a female Proteus--today a Messalina, to-morrow a nun; to-day
one of the _literati_, to-morrow a playful child; you must ever seek
to surprise the king, to keep him on the stretch, to enliven him.
You must never give way to the dangerous feeling of security, for in
fact King Henry's wife is never safe. The axe always hangs over her
head, and you must ever consider your husband as only a fickle
lover, whom you must every day captivate anew."
"You speak as though I were already queen," said Lady Jane, smiling;
"and yet I cannot but think that, in order to come to that, many
difficulties are to be overcome, which may indeed perhaps be
"Insuperable!" exclaimed her father with a shrug of the shoulders.
"With the aid of the holy Church, no hinderance is insuperable.
Only, we must be perfectly acquainted with our end and our means. Do
not despise, then, to sound the character of this king ever and
again, and be certain you will always find in him some new hidden
recess, some surprising peculiarity. We have spoken of him as a
husband and the father of a family, but of his religious and
political standing I have as yet told you nothing. And yet that, my
child, is the principal point in his whole character.
"In the first place, then, Jane, I will tell you a secret. The king,
who has constituted himself high-priest of his Church--whom the pope
once called 'the Knight of the Truth and the Faith'--the king has at
the bottom of his heart no religion. He is a wavering reed, which
the wind turns this way to-day, and that way to-morrow. He knows not
his own will, and, coquetting with both parties, to-day he is a
heretic, in order to exhibit himself as a strong, unprejudiced,
enlightened man; to-morrow a Catholic, in order to show himself an
obedient and humble servant of God, who seeks and finds his
happiness only in love and piety. But for both confessions of faith
he possesses at heart a profound indifference; and had the pope at
that time placed no difficulties in his way, had he consented to his
divorce from Catharine, Henry would have always remained a very good
and active servant of the Catholic Church. But they were imprudent
enough to irritate him by contradiction; they stimulated his vanity
and pride to resistance; and so Henry became a church reformer, not
from conviction, but out of pure love of opposition. And that, my
child, you must never forget, for, by means of this lever, you may
very well convert him again to a devout, dutiful, and obedient
servant of our holy Church. He has renounced the pope, and usurped
the supremacy of the Church, but he cannot summon up courage to
carry out his work and throw himself wholly into the arms of the
Reformation. However much he has opposed the person of the pope,
still he has always remained devoted to the Church, although perhaps
he does not know it himself. He is no Catholic, and he hears mass;
he has broken up the monasteries, and yet forbids priests to marry;
he has the Lord's supper administered under both kinds, and believes
in the real transubstantiation of the wine into the Redeemer's holy
blood. He destroys the convents, and yet commands that vows of
chastity, spoken by man or woman, must be faithfully kept; and
lastly, auricular confession is still a necessary constituent of his
Church. And these he calls his six articles, [Footnote: Burnet, vol.
I, p. 259. Tytler, p. 402. Mioti, vol. I, p. 134.] and the
foundation of his English Church. Poor, short-sighted and vain man!
He knows not that he has done all this, only because he wanted to be
the pope himself, and he is nothing more than an anti-pope of the
Holy Father at Rome, whom he, in his blasphemous pride, dares call
'the Bishop of Rome.'"
"But, for this audacity," said Jane, with looks of burning rage,
"the anathema has struck him and laid a curse upon his head, and
given him up to the hatred, contempt, and scorn of his own subjects.
Therefore, the Holy Father has justly named him 'the apostate and
lost son, the blaspheming usurper of the holy Church.' Therefore,
the pope has declared his crown forfeited, and promised it to him
who will vanquish him by force of arms. Therefore, the pope has
forbidden any of his subjects to obey him, and respect and recognize
him as king."
"And yet he remains King of England, and his subjects still obey him
in slavish submission," exclaimed Earl Douglas, shrugging his
shoulders. "It is very unwise to go so far in threats, for one
should never threaten with punishment which he is not likewise able
to really execute. This Romish interdict has rather been an
advantage to the king, than done him harm, for it has forced the
king into haughtier opposition, and proved to his subjects that a
man irny roally be under an interdict, and yet in prosperity and the
full enjoyment of life."
"The pope's excommunication has not hurt the king at all; his throne
has not felt the slightest jar from it, but the apostasy of the king
has deprived the Holy See at Rome of a very perceptible support;
therefore we must bring the faithless king back to the holy Church,
for she needs him. And this, my daughter, is the work that God and
the will of His holy representative have placed in your hands. A
noble, glorious, and at the same time profitable work, for it makes
you a queen! But I repeat, be cautious, never irritate the king by
contradiction. Without their knowing it, we must lead the wavering
where salvation awaits them. For, as we have said, he is a waverer;
and in the haughty pride of his royalty, he has the presumption to
wish to stand above all parties, and to be himself able to found a
new Church, a Church which is neither Catholic nor Protestant, but
Ms Church; to which, in the six articles, the so-called 'Bloody
Statute' he has given its laws.
"He will not be Protestant nor Catholic, and, in order to show his
impartiality, he is an equally terrible persecutor of both parties.
So that it has come to pass that we must say, 'In England, Catholics
are hanged, and those not stich are burned.' [Footnote: Leti, vol.
I, p. 144. f Tytler, p. 38.] It gives the king pleasure to hold with
steady and cruel hand the balance between the two parties, and on
the same day that he has a papist incarcerated, because he has
disputed the king's supremacy, he has one of the reformed put upon
the rack, because he has denied the real transubstantiation of the
wine, or perhaps has dispiited concerning the necessity of auricular
confession. Indeed, during the last session of Parliament, five men
were hanged because they disputed the supremacy, and five others
burned because they professed the reformed views! And this evening,
Jane--this, the king's wedding-night--by the special order of the
king, who wanted to show his impartiality as head of the church,
Catholics and Protestants have been coupled together like dogs, and
hurried to the stake, the Catholics being condemned (is traitors,
and the others as heretics!)
"Oh," said Jane, shuddering and turning pale, "I will not be Queen
of England. I have a horror of this cruel, savage king, whose heart
is wholly without compassion or love.
Her father laughed. "Do you not then know, child, how you can make
the hyena gentle, and the tiger tame? You throw them again and again
a fresh prey, which they may devour, and since they love blood so
dearly, you constantly give them blood to drink, so that they may
never thirst for it. The king's only steady and unchanging
peculiarity is his cruelty and delight in blood; one then must
always have some food ready for these, then he will ever be a very
affectionate and gracious king and husband.
"And there is no lack of objects for this bloodthirstiness. There
are so many men and women at his court, and when he is precisely in
a bloodthirsty humor, it is all the same to Henry whose blood he
drinks. He has shed the blood of his wives and relatives; he has
executed those whom he called his most confidential friends; he has
sent the noblest men of his kingdom to the scaffold.
"Thomas More knew him very well, and in a few striking words he
summed up the whole of the king's character. Ah, it seems to me that
I see now the quiet and gentle face of this wise man, as I saw him
standing in yonder bay-window, and near him the king, his arms
around the neck of High-Chancellor More, and listening to his
discourse with a kind of reverential devotion. And when the king had
gone, I walked up to Thomas More and congratulated him on the high
and world-renowned favor in which he stood with the king. 'The king
really loves you,' said I. 'Yes,' replied he, with his quiet, sad
smile, 'yes, the king truly loves me. But that would not for one
moment hinder him from giving my head for a valuable diamond, a
beautiful woman, or a hand's breadth of land in France.' [Footnote:
Leti, vol. i, p 194.] He was right, and for a beautiful woman, the
head of this sage had to fall, of whom the most Christian emperor
and king, Charles V., said: ' Had I been the master of such a
servant, of whose ability and greatness we have had so much
experience for many years; had I possessed an adviser so wise and
earnest as Thomas More was, I would rather have lost the best city
of my realm, than so worthy a servant and counsellor.' [Footnote:
Tytler, p. 354.]
"No, Jane, be that your first and most sacred rule, never to trust
the king, and never reckon on the duration of his affection and the
manifestations of his favor. For, in the perfidy of his heart, it
often pleases him to load with tokens of his favor those whose
destruction he has already resolved upon, to adorn and decorate with
orders and jewels to-day those whom to-morrow he is going to put to
death. It flatters his self-complacency, like the lion, to play a
little with the puppy he is about to devour. Thus did he with
Cromwell, for many years his counsellor and friend, who had
committed no other crime than that of having first exhibited to the
king the portrait of the ugly Anne of Cleves, whom Holbein had
turned into a beauty. But the king took good care not to be angry
with Cromwell, or to reproach him for it. Much more--in recognition
of his great services, he raised him to the earldom of Essex,
decorated him with the Order of the Garter and appointed him lord
chamberlain; and then, when Cromwell felt perfectly secure and
proudly basked in the sunshine of royal favor, then all at once the
king had him arrested and dragged to the tower, in order to accuse
him of high treason. [Footnote: Ibid, p. 423.] And so Cromwellwas
executed, because Anne of Cleves did not please the king, and
because Hans Holbein had flattered her picture.
"But now we have had enough of the past, Jane. Now let us speak of
the present and of the future, my daughter. Let us now first of all
devise the means to overthrow this woman who stands in our way. When
she is once overthrown, it will not be very difficult for us to put
you in her place. For you are now here, near the king. The great
mistake in onr earlier efforts was, that we were not present and
could work only through go-betweens and confidants. The king did not
see you, and since the unlucky affair with Anne of Cleves he
mistrusts likenesses; I very well knew that, for I, my child,
confide in no one, not even in the most faithful and noblest
friends. I rely upon nobody but ourselves. Had we been here, you
would now be Queen of England instead of Catharine Parr. But, to our
misfortune, I was still the favorite of the Regent of Scotland, and
as such, I could not venture to approach Henry. It was necessary
that I should fall into disgrace there, in order to be again sure of
the king's favor here.
"So I fell into disgrace and fled with you hither. Now, then, here
we are, and let the fight begin. And you have to-day already taken
an important step toward our end. You have attracted the notice of
the king, and established yourself still more securely in the favor
of Catharine. I confess, Jane, I am charmed with your prudent
conduct. You have this day won the hearts of all parties, and it was
wonderfully shrewd in you to come to the aid of the Earl of Surrey,
as you at the same time won to you the heretical party, to which
Anne Askew belongs. Oh, it was indeed, Jane, a stroke of policy that
you made. For the Howard family is the most powerful and greatest at
court, and Henry, Earl of Surrey, is one of its noblest
representatives. Therefore we have now already a powerful party at
court, which has in view only the high and holy aim of securing a
victory for the holy Church, and which quietly and silently works
only for this--to again reconcile the king to the pope. Henry
Howard,Earl of Surrey, like bis father, the Duke of Norfolk, is a
good Catholic, as his niece Catharine Howard was; only she, besides
God and the Church, was a little too fond of the images of God--
fine-looking men. It was this that gave the victory to the other
party, and forced the Catholic to succumb to the heretical party at
court. Yes, for the moment, Cranmer with Catharine has got the
better of us, but soon Gardiner with Jane Douglas will overcome the
heretics, and send them to the scaffold. That is our plan, and, God
permitting, we will carry it out."
"But it will be a difficult undertaking," said Lady Jane, with a
sigh. "The queen is a pure, transparent soul; she has a shrewd head
and a clear glance. She is, moreover, guileless in her thoughts, and
recoils with true maidenly timidity from every sin."
"We must cure her of this timidity, and that is your task, Jane. You
must despoil her of these strict notions about virtue. With
flattering voice you must ensnare her heart, and entice it to sin."
"Oh, that is an infernal plot!" said Lady Jane, turning pale. "That,
my father, would be a crime, for that would be not only destroying
her earthly happiness, but also imperilling her soul. I must entice
her to a crime; that is your dishonorable demand! But I will not
obey you! It is true, I hate her, for she stands in the way of my
ambition. It is true I will destroy her, for she wears the crown
which I wish to possess; but never will I be so base as to pour into
her very heart the poison by which she shall fall. Let her seek the
poison for herself; I will not hold back her hand; I will not warn
her. Let her seek the ways of sin herself: I will not tell her that
she has erred; hut I will, from afar, dog her, and watch each step,
and listen for every word and sigh, and when she has committed a
crime, then I will betray her, and deliver her up to her judges.
That is what I can and will do. I will be the demon to drive her
from paradise in God's name, but not the serpent to entice her in
the devil's name to sin."
She paused, and, panting for breath, sunk back upon the cushion; but
her father's hand was laid upon her shoulder with a convulsive grip,
and pale with rage and with eyes flashing with anger, he stared at
A cry of terror burst from Lady Jane. She, who never had seen her
father but smiling and full of kindness, scarcely recognized that
countenance, distorted with rage. She could scarcely convince
herself that this man, with eyes darting fire, scowling eyebrows and
lips quivering with rage, was really her father.
"You will not?" exclaimed he, with a hollow, threatening voice. "You
dare rebel against the holy commands of the Church? Have you, then,
forgotten what you promised to the Holy Fathers, whose pupil you
are? Have you forgotten that the brothers and sisters of the Holy
League are permitted to have no other will than that of their
masters! Have you forgotten the sublime vow which you made to our
master, Ignatius Loyola? Answer me, unfaithful and disobedient
daughter of the Church! Repeat to me the oath which you took when he
received you into the holy Society of the Disciples of Jesus! Repeat
your oath, I say!"
As if constrained by an invisible power, Jane had arisen, and now
stood, her hands folded across her breast, submissive and trembling
before her father, whose erect, proud, and wrathful form towered
"I have sworn," said she, "to subject my own thought, and will, my
life, and endeavors, obediently to the will of the Holy Father. I
have sworn to be a blind tool in the hands of my masters, and to do
only what they command and enjoin. I have vowed to serve the holy
Church, in which alone is salvation, in every way and with all the
means at my command; and I will despise none of these means,
consider none trifling, disdain none, provided it leads to the end.
For the end sanctifies the means, and nothing is a sin which is done
for the honor of God and the Church!"
"Ad majorem Dei gloriam!" said her father, devoutly folding his
hands. "And you know what awaits you, if you violate your oath?"
"Earthly disgrace and eternal destruction await me. The curse of all
my brethren and sisters awaits me--eternal damnation and punishment.
With thousands of torments and tortures of the rack, will the Holy
Fathers put me to death; and as they kill my body and throw it as
food to the beasts of prey, they will curse my soul and deliver it
over to purgatory."
"And what awaits you if you remain faithful to your oath, and obey
the commands given you?"
"Honor and glory on earth, besides eternal blessedness in heaven."
"Then you will be a queen on earth and a queen in heaven. You know,
then, the sacred laws of the society, and you remember your oath?"
"I remember it."
"And you know that the holy Loyola, before he left us, gave the
Society of Jesus, in England, a master and general, whom all the
brethren and sisters must serve and submit to, to whom they owe
blind obedience and service without questioning?"
"I know it."
"And you know, likewise, by what sign the associates may recognize
"By Loyola's ring, which he wears on the forefinger of his right
"Behold here this ring!" said the earl, drawing his hand out of his
Lady Jane uttered a cry, and sank almost senseless at his feet.
Lord Douglas, smiling graciously, raised her in his arms. "You see,
Jane, I am not merely your father, but your master also. And you
will obey me, will you not?"
"I will obey!" said she, almost inaudibly, as she kissed the hand
with the fatal ring.
"You will be to Catharine Parr, as you have expressed it, the
serpent, that seduces her to sin?"
"You will beguile her into sin, and entice her to indulge a love
which must lead her to destruction?"
"I will do it, my father."
"I will now tell you whom she is to love, and who is to be the
instrument of destruction. You will so manage the queen that she
will love Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey."
Jane uttered a scream, and clung to the back of a chair to keep from
Her father observed her with penetrating, angry looks. "What means
this outcry? Why does this choice surprise you?" asked he.
Lady Jane had already gained her self-possession. "It surprised me,"
said she, "because the earl is betrothed."
A singular smile played about the earl's lips. "It is not the first
time," said he, "that even a man already married has become
dangerous to a woman's heart, and often the very impossibility of
possession adds fuel to the flames of love. Woman's heart is ever so
full of selfishness and contradiction."
Lady Jane cast down her eyes, and made no reply. She felt that the
piercing and penetrating look of her father was resting on her face.
She knew that, just then, he was reading her soul, although she did
not look at him.
"Then you no longer refuse?" asked he, at length. "You will inspire
the young queen with love for the Earl of Surrey?"
"I will endeavor to do it, my father."
"If you try, with a real and energetic determination to succeed, you
will prevail. For, as you said, the queen's heart is still free; it
is, then, like a fruitful soil, which is only waiting for some one
to sow the seed in it, to bring forth flowers and fruit. Catharine
Parr does not love the king; you will, then, teach her to love Henry
"Yet, my father," said Lady Jane, with a sarcastic smile, "to bring
about this result, one must, before all things, be acquainted with a
magic spell, through the might of which the earl will first glow
with love for Catharine. For the queen has a proud soul, and she
will never so forget her dignity as to love a man who is not
inflamed with an ardent passion for her. But the earl has not only a
bride, but, as it is said, a mistress also."
"Ah! you consider it, then, perfectly unworthy of a woman to love a
man who does not adore her?" asked the earl, in a significant tone.
"I am rejoiced to hear this from my daughter, and thus to he certain
that she will not fall in love with the Earl of Surrey, who is
everywhere else called 'the lady-killer.' And if you have informed
yourself in so surprising a manner as to the earl's private
relations, you have done so, without doubt, only because your
sagacious and subtle head has already guessed what commission I
would give you with respect to the earl. Besides, my daughter, you
are in error: and if a certain high, but not on that account the
less very unfortunate lady, should happen to really love the Earl of
Surrey, her lot will, perhaps, be the common one--to practise
An expression of joyful surprise passed over the countenance of Lady
Jane, while her father thus spoke; but it was forced to instantly
give way to a deathly paleness, as the earl added: "Henry Howard is
destined for Catharine Parr, and you are to help her to love so
hotly this proud, handsome earl, who is a faithful servant of the
Church, wherein alone is salvation, that she will forget all
considerations and all dangers."
Lady Jane ventured one more objection. She caught eagerly at her
father's words, to seek still for some way of escape.
"You call the earl a faithful servant of our Church," said she, "and
yet you would implicate him also in your dangerous plot? You have
not, then, my father, considered that it is just as pernicious to
love the queen as to be loved by her? And, without doubt, if love
for the Earl of Surrey bring the queen to the scaffold, the head of
the earl will fall at the same time, no matter whether he return her
love or not."
The earl shrugged his shoulders.
"When the question is about the weal of the Church and our holy
religion, the danger which, thereby, it may be, threatens one of our
number, must not frighten us back. Holy sacrifices must be always
offered to a holy cause. Well and good, then, let the earl's head
fall, provided the only saving Church gains new vigor from this
blood of martyrs. But see, Jane, the morning already begins to dawn,
and I must hasten to leave you, lest these courtiers, ever given to
slandering, may in some way or other take the father for a lover,
and cast suspicion on the immaculate virtue of my Jane. Farewell,
then, my daughter! We both, now, know our rôles, and will take care
to play them with success. You are the friend and confidante of the
queen, and I the harmless courtier, who tries, now and then, to gain
a smile from the king by some kind and merry jest. That is all.
Good-morning, then, Jane, and good-night. For you must sleep, my
child, so that your cheeks may remain fresh and your eyes bright.
The king hates pining pale-faces. Sleep, then, future Queen of
He gently kissed her forehead, and left the room with lingering
Lady Jane stood and listened to the sound of his footsteps gradually
dying away, when she sank on her knees, wholly crushed, utterly
"My God, my God!" murmured she, while streams of tears flooded her
face, "and I am to inspire the queen with love for the Earl of
Surrey, and I--I love him!"
The great levée was over. Sitting beside the king on the throne,
Catharine had received the congratulations of her court; and the
king's smiling look, and the tender words which, in undertone, he
now and then addressed to the queen, had manifested to the prudent
and expert courtiers that the king was to-day just as much enamored
of his young consort as he had been yesterday of his bride.
Therefore, every one exerted himself to please the queen, and to
catch every look, every smile, which she let fall, like sunbeams,
here and there, in order to see for whom they were intended, so that
they might, perchance, by this means, divine who were to be the
future favorites of the queen, and be the first to become intimate
But the young queen directed her looks to no one in particular. She
was friendly and smiling, yet one felt that this friendliness was
constrained, this smile full of sadness. The king alone did not
notice it. He was cheerful and happy, and it seemed to him,
therefore, that nobody at his court could dare sigh when he, the
king, was satisfied.
After the grand presentation, at which all the great and noble of
the realm had passed in formal procession before the royal pair, the
king had, according to the court etiquette of the time, given his
hand to his consort, led her down from the throne and conducted her
to the middle of the hall, in order to present to her the personages
in waiting at her court.
But this walk from the throne to the centre of the hall had greatly
fatigued the king; this promenade of thirty steps was for him a very
unusual and troublesome performance, and the king longed to change
to something else more agreeable. So he beckoned to the chief master
of ceremonies, and bade him open the door leading into the dining-
room. Then he ordered his "house equipage" to be brought up, and,
seating himself in it with the utmost stateliness, he had the sedan
kept at the queen's side, waiting impatiently till the presentation
should at last conclude, and Catharine accompany him to lunch.
The announcements of the maids of honor and female attendants had
been already made, and now came the gentlemen's turn.
The chief master of ceremonies read from his list the names of those
cavaliers who were, henceforth, to he in waiting near the queen, and
which names the king had written down with his own hand. And at each
new appointment a slight expression of pleased astonishment flitted
across the faces of the assembled courtiers, for it was always one
of the youngest, handsomest, and most amiable lords whom the master
of ceremonies had to name.
Perhaps the king proposed to play a cruel game at hazard, in
surrounding his consort with the young men of his court; he wished
to plunge her into the midst of danger, either to let her perish
there, or, by her avoiding danger, to be able to place the
unimpeachable virtue of his young wife in the clearest light.
The list had begun with the less important offices, and, ever
ascending higher, they now came to positions the highest and of
Still the queen's master of horse and the chamberlain had not been
named, and these were without doubt the most important charges at
the queen's court. For one or the other of these officers was always
very near the queen. When she was in the palace, the lord of the
chamber had to remain in the anteroom, and no one could approach the
queen but through his mediation. To him the queen had to give her
orders with regard to the schemes and pleasures of the day. He was
to contrive new diversions and amusements. He had the right of
joining the queen's narrow evening circle, and to stand behind the
queen's chair when the royal pair, at times, desired to sup without
This place of chief chamberlain was, therefore, a very important
one; for since it confined him a large part of the day in the
queen's presence, it was scarcely avoidable that the lord
chamberlain should become either the confidential and attentive
friend, or the malevolent and lurking enemy of the queen!
But the place of master of horse was of no less consequence. For as
soon as the queen left the palace, whether on foot or in a carriage,
whether to ride in the forest or to glide down the Thames in her
gilded yacht, the master of horse must be ever at her side, must
ever attend her. Indeed, this service was still more exclusive,
still more important. For, though the queen's apartments were open
to the lord chamberlain, yet, however, he was never alone with her.
The attending maids of honor were always present and prevented there
being any têtes-à-têtes or intimacy between the queen and her
But with the master of horse it was different--since many
opportunities presented themselves, when he could approach the queen
unnoticed, or at least speak to her without being overheard. He had
to offer her his hand to assist her in entering her carriage; he
could ride near the door of her coach; he accompanied her on water
excursions and pleasure rides, and these last were so much the more
important because they afforded him, to a certain extent,
opportunity for a tête-à-tête with the queen. For only the master of
horse was permitted to ride at her side; he even had precedence of
the ladies of the suite, so as to be able to give the queen
immediate assistance in case of any accident, or the stumbling of
her horse. Therefore, no one of the suite could perceive what the
queen said to the master of horse when he rode at her side.
It was understood, therefore, how influential this place might be.
Besides, when the queen was at Whitehall, the king was almost always
near her; while, thanks to his daily increasing corpulency, he was
not exactly in a condition to leave the palace otherwise than in a
It was therefore very natural that the whole company at court
awaited with eager attention and bated breath the moment when the
master of ceremonies would name these two important personages,
whose names had been kept so secret that nobody had yet learned
them. That morning, just before he handed the list to the master of
ceremonies, the king had written down these two names with his own
Not the court only, but also the king himself, was watching for
these two names. For he wished to see the effect of them, and, by
the different expression of faces, estimate the number of the
friends of these two nominees. The young queen alone exhibited the
same unconcerned affability; her heart only beat with uniform
calmness, for she did not once suspect the importance of the moment.
Even the voice of the master of ceremonies trembled slightly, as he
now read, "To the place of high chamberlain to the queen, his
majesty appoints my Lord Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey."
An approving murmur was heard, and almost all faces manifested glad
"He has a great many friends," muttered the king. "He is dangerous,
then!" An angry look darted from his eyes upon the young earl, who
was now approaching the queen, to bend his knee before her and to
press to his lips the proffered hand.
Behind the queen stood Lady Jane, and as she beheld thus close
before her the young man, so handsome, so long yearned for, and so
secretly adored; and as she thought of her oath, she felt a violent
pang, raging jealousy, killing hatred toward the young queen, who
had, it is true, without suspecting it, robbed her of the loved one,
and condemned her to the terrible torture of pandering to her.
The chief master of ceremonies now read in a loud solemn voice, "To
the place of master of horse, his majesty appoints my Lord Thomas
Seymour, Earl of Sudley."
It was very well that the king had at that moment directed his whole
attention to his courtiers, and sought to read in their appearance
the impression made by this nomination.
Had he observed his consort, he would have seen that an expression
of delighted surprise flitted across Catharine's countenance, and a
charming smile played round her lips.
But the king, as we have said, thought only of his court; he saw
only that the number of those who rejoiced at Seymour's appointment
did not come up to that of those who received Surrey's nomination
with so much applause.
Henry frowned and muttered to himself, "These Howards are too
powerful. I will keep a watchful eye upon them."
Thomas Seymour approached the queen, and, bending his knee before
her, kissed her hand. Catharine received him with a gracious smile.
"My lord," said she, "you will at once enter on service with me, and
indeed, as I hope, in such manner as will be acceptable to the whole
court. My lord, take the fleetest of your coursers, and hasten to
Castle Holt, where the Princess Elizabeth is staying. Carry her this
letter from her royal father, and she will follow you hither. Tell
her that I long to embrace in her a friend and sister, and that I
pray her to pardon me if I cannot give up to her exclusively the
heart of her king and father, but that I also must still keep a
place in the same for myself. Hasten to Castle Holt, my lord, and
bring us Princess Elizabeth."
THE KING'S FOOL.
Two years had passed away since the king's marriage, and still
Catharine Parr had always kept in favor with her husband; still her
enemies were foiled in their attempts to ruin her, and raise the
seventh queen to the throne.
Catharine had ever been cautious, ever discreet. She had always
preserved a cold heart and a cool head. Each morning she had said to
herself that this day might be her last; that some incautious word,
some inconsiderate act, might deprive her of her crown and her life.
For Henry's savage and cruel disposition seemed, like his
corpulency, to increase daily, and it needed only a trifle to
inflame him to the highest pitch of rage, rage which, each time,
fell with fatal stroke on him who aroused it.
A knowledge and consciousness of this had made the queen cautious.
She did not wish to die yet. She still loved life so much. She loved
it because it had as yet afforded her so little delight. She loved
it because she had so much happiness, so much rapture and enjoyment
yet to hope from it. She did not wish to die yet, for she was ever
waiting for that life of which she had a foretaste only in her
dreams, and which her palpitating and swelling heart told her was
ready to awake in her, and, with its sunny, brilliant eyes, arouse
her from the winter sleep of her existence.
It was a bright and beautiful spring day. Catharine wanted to avail
herself of it, to take a ride and forget for one brief hour that she
was a queen. She wanted to enjoy the woods, the sweet May breeze,
the song of birds, the green meadows, and to inhale in full draughts
the pure air.
She wanted to ride. Nobody suspected how much secret delight and
hidden rapture lay in these words. No one suspected that for months
she had been looking forward with pleasure to this ride, and
scarcely dared to wish for it, just because it would be the
fulfilment of her ardent wishes.
She was already dressed in her riding-habit, and the little red
velvet hat, with its long, drooping white feather, adorned her
beautiful head. Walking up and down the room, she was waiting only
for the return of the lord chamberlain, whom she had sent to the
king to inquire whether he wished to speak with her before her ride.
Suddenly the door opened, and a strange apparition showed itself on
the threshold. It was a small, compact masculine figure, clad in
vesture of crimson silk, which was trimmed in a style showy and
motley enough, with puffs and bows of all colors, and which, just on
account of its motley appearance, contrasted strangely enough with
the man's white hair, and earnest and sombre face.
"Ah, the king's fool," said Catharine, with a merry laugh. "Well,
John, what is it that brings you here? Do you bring me a message
from the king, or have you made a bold hit, and wish me to take you
again under my protection?"
"No, queen," said John Heywood, seriously, "I have made no bold hit,
nor do I bring a message from the king. I bring nothing but myself.
Ah, queen, I see you want to laugh, but I pray you forget for a
moment that John Heywood is the king's fool, and that it does not
become him to wear a serious face and indulge sad thoughts like
"Oh, I know that you are not merely the king's fool, but a poet
also," said Catharine, with a gracious smile.
"Yes," said he, "I am a poet, and therefore it is altogether proper
for me to wear this fool's cap, for poets are all fools, and it were
better for them to be hung on the nearest tree instead of being
permitted to run about in their crazy enthusiasm, and babble things
on account of which people of sense despise and ridicule them. I am
a poet, and therefore, queen, I have put on this fool's dress, which
places me under the king's protection, and allows me to say to him
all sorts of things which nobody else has the courage to speak out.
But to-day, queen, I come to you neither as a fool nor as a poet,
but I come to you because I wish to cling to your knees and kiss
your feet. I come because I wish to tell you that you have made John
Heywood forever your slave. He will from this time forth lie like a
dog before your threshold and guard you from every enemy and every
evil which may press upon you. Night and day he will be ready for
your service, and know neither repose nor rest, if it is necessary
to fulfil your command or your wish."
As he thus spoke, with trembling voice and eyes dimmed with tears,
he knelt down and bowed his head at Catharine's feet.
"But what have I done to inspire you with such a feeling of
thankfulness?" asked Catharine with astonishment. "How have I
deserved that you, the powerful and universally dreaded favorite of
the king, should dedicate yourself to my service?"
"What have you done?" said he. "My lady, you have saved my son from
the stake! They had condemned him--that handsome noble youth--
condemned him, because he had spoken respectfully of Thomas More;
because he said this great and noble man did right to die, rather
than be false to his convictions. Ah, nowadays, it requires such a
trifle to condemn a man to death! a couple of thoughtless words are
sufficient! And this miserable, lick-spittle Parliament, in its
dastardliness and worthlessness, always condemns and sentences,
because it knows that the king is always thirsty for blood, and
always wants the fires of the stake to keep him warm. So they had
condemned my son likewise, and they would have executed him, but for
you. But you, whom God has sent as an angel of reconciliation on
this regal throne reeking with blood; you who daily risk your life
and your crown to save the life of some one of those unfortunates
whom fanaticism and thirst for blood have sentenced, and to procure
their pardon, you have save my son also."
"How! that young man who was to be burned yesterday, was your son?"
"Yes, he was my son."
"And you did not tell the king so? and you did not intercede for
"Had I done so, he would have been irretrievably lost! For you well
know the king is so proud of his impartiality and his virtue! Oh,
had he known that Thomas is my son he would have condemned him to
death, to show the people that Henry the Eighth everywhere strikes
the guilty and punishes the sinner, whatever name he may bear, and
whoever may intercede for him. Ah, even your supplication would not
have softened him, for the high-priest of the English Church could
never have pardoned this young man for not being the legitimate son
of his father, for not having the right to bear his name, because
his mother was the spouse of another man whom Thomas must call
"Poor Heywood! Yes, now I understand. The king would, indeed, never
have forgiven this; and had he known it, your son would have
inevitably been condemned to the stake."
"You saved him, queen! Do you not believe now that I shall be
forever thankful to you?"
"I do believe it," said the queen, with a pleasant smile, as she
extended her hand for him to kiss. "I believe you, and I accept your
"And you will need it, queen, for a tempest is gathering over your
head, and soon the lightning will flash and the thunders roll."
"Oh, I fear not! I have strong nerves!" said Catharine, smiling.
"When a storm comes, it is but a refreshing of nature, and I have
always seen that after a storm the sun shines again."
"You are a brave soul!" swirl John Heywood, sadly.
"That is, I am conscious of no guilt!"
"But your enemies will invent a crime to charge you with. Ah, as
soon as it is the aim to calumniate a neighbor and plunge him in
misery, men are all poets!"
"But you just now said that poets are crack-brained, and should be
hung to the first tree. We will, therefore, treat these slanderers
as poets, that is all."
"No, that is not all!" said John Heywood, energetically. "For
slanderers are like earth-worms. You cut them in pieces, but instead
of thereby killing them, you multiply each one and give it several
"But what is it, then, that I am accused of?" exclaimed Catharine,
impatiently. "Does not my life lie open and clear before you all? Do
I ever take pains to have any secrets? Is not my heart like a glass
house, into which you can all look, to convince yourselves that it
is a soil wholly unfruitful, and that not a single poor little
flower grows there?"
"Though this be so, your enemies will sow weeds and make the king
believe that it is burning love which has grown up in your heart."
"How! They will accuse me of having a love-affair?" asked Catharine,
and her lips slightly trembled.
"I do not know their plans yet; but I will find them out. There is a
conspiracy at work. Therefore, queen, be on your guard! Trust
nobody, for foes are ever wont to conceal themselves under
hypocritical faces and deceiving words."
"If you know my enemies, name them to me!" said Catharine,
impatiently. "Name them to me, that I may beware of them."
"I have not come to accuse anybody, but to warn you. I shall,
therefore, take good care not to point out your enemies to you; but
I will name your friends to you."
"Ah, then, I have friends, too!" whispered Catharine, with a happy
"Yes, you have friends; and, indeed, such as are ready to give their
blood and life for you."
"Oh, name them, name them to me!" exclaimed Catharine, all of a
tremble with joyful expectation.
"I name first, Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury. He is your true
and staunch friend, on whom you can build. He loves you as queen,
and he prizes you as the associate whom God has sent him to bring to
completion, here at the court of this most Christian and bloody
king, the holy work of the Reformation, and to cause the light of
knowledge to illuminate this night of superstition and priestly
domination. Build strongly on Cranmer, for he is your surest and
most invariable supporter, and should he sink, your fall would
inevitably follow. Therefore, not only rely on him, but also protect
him, and look upon him as your brother; for what you do for him, you
do for yourself."
"Yes, you are right," said Catharine, thoughtfully. "Cranmer is a
noble and staunch friend; and often enough already he has protected
me, in the king's presence, against those little pin-prickings of my
enemies, which do not indeed kill, but which make the whole body
sore and faint."
"Protect him, and thus protect yourself."
"Well, and the other friends?"
"I have given Cranmer the precedence; but now, queen, I name myself
as the second of your friends. If Cranmer is your staff, I will be
your dog; and, believe me, so long as you have such a staff and so
faithful a dog, you are safe. Cranmer will warn you of every stone
that lies in your way, and I will bite and drive off the enemies,
who, hidden behind the thicket, lurk in the way to fall upon you
"I thank you! Really, I thank you!" said Catharine, heartily. "Well,
and what more?"
"More?" inquired Heywood with a sad smile.
"Mention a few more of my friends."
"Queen, it is a great deal, if one in a lifetime has found two
friends upon whom he can rely, and whose fidelity is not guided by
selfishness. You are perhaps the only crowned head that can boast of
"I am a woman," said Catharine, thoughtfully, "and many women
surround me and daily swear to me unchanging faithfulness and
attachment. How! are all these unworthy the title of friends? Is
even Lady Jane Douglas unworthy; she, whom I have called my friend
these many long years, and whom I trust as a sister? Tell me, John
Heywood, you who, as it is said, know everything, and search out
everything that takes place at court, tell me, is not Lady Jane
Douglas my friend?"
John Heywood suddenly became serious and gloomy, and looked on the
ground, absorbed in reflection. Then he swept his large, bright eyes
all around the room, in a scrutinizing manner, as if he wished to
convince himself that no listener was really concealed there, and
stepping close up to the queen, he whispered: "Trust her not; she is
a papist, and Gardiner is her friend."
"Ah, I suspected it," whispered Catharine, sadly.
"But listen, queen; give no expression to this suspicion by look, or
words, or by the slightest indication. Lull this viper into the
belief that you are harmless; lull her to sleep, queen. She is a
venomous and dangerous serpent, which must not be roused, lest,
before you suspect it, it bite you on the heel. Be always gracious,
always confidential, always friendly toward her. Only, queen, do not
tell her what you would not confide to Gardiner and Earl Douglas
likewise. Oh, believe me, she is like the lion in the doge's palace
at Venice. The secrets that you confide to her will become
accusations against you before the tribunal of blood."
Catharine shook her head with a smile. "You are too severe, John
Heywood. It is possible that the religion which she secretly
professes has estranged her heart from me, but she would never be
capable of betraying me, or of leaguing herself with my foes. No,
John, you are mistaken. It would be a crime to believe thus. My God,
what a wicked and wretched world it must be in which we could not
trust even our most faithful and dearest friends!"
"The world is indeed wicked and wretched, and one must despair of
it, or consider it a merry jest, with which the devil tickles our
noses. For me, it is such a jest, and therefore, queen, I have
become the king's fool, which at least gives me the right of
spurting out upon the crawling brood all the venom of the contempt I
feel for mankind, and of speaking the truth to those who have only
lies, by dripping honey, ever on their lips. The sages and poets are
the real fools of our day, and since I did not feel a vocation to be
a king, or a priest, a hangman, or a lamb for sacrifice, I became a
"Yes, a fool, that is to say, an epigrammatist, whose biting tongue
makes the whole court tremble."
"Since I cannot, like my royal master, have these criminals
executed, I give them a few sword-cuts with my tongue. Ah, I tell
you, you will much need this ally. Be on your guard, queen: I heard
this morning the first growl of the thunder, and in Lady Jane's eyes
I observed the stealthy lightning. Trust her not. Trust no one here
but your friends Cranmer and John Heywood."
"And you say, that in all this court, among all these brilliant
women, these brave cavaliers, the poor queen has not a single
friend, not a soul, whom she may trust, on whom she may lean? Oh,
John Heywood, think again, have pity on the poverty of a queen.
Think again. Say, only you two? No friend but you?"
And the queen's eyes filled with tears, which she tried in vain to
John Heywood saw it and sighed deeply. Better than the queen herself
perhaps, he had read the depths of her heart, and knew its deep
wound. But he also had sympathy with her pain, and wished to
mitigate it a little.
"I recollect," said he, gently and mournfully--"yes, I recollect,
you have yet a third friend at this court."
"Ah, a third friend!" exclaimed Catharine, and again her voice
sounded cheery and joyous. "Name him to me, name him! For you see
clearly I am burning with impatience to hear his name."
John Heywood looked into Catharine's glowing countenance with a
strange expression, at once searching and mournful, and for a moment
dropped his head upon his breast and sighed.
"Now, John, give me the name of this third friend."
"Do you not know him, queen?" asked Heywood, as he again stared
steadily in her face. Do you not know him? It is Thomas Seymour,
Earl of Sudley."
There passed as it were a sunbeam over Catharine's face, and she
uttered a low cry.
John Heywood said, sadly: "Queen, the sun strikes directly in your
face. Take care that it does not blind your bright eyes. Stand in
the shade, your majesty, for, hark! there comes one who might report
the sunshine in your face for a conflagration."
Just then the door opened, and Lady Jane appeared on the threshold.
She threw a quick, searching glance around the room, and an
imperceptible smile passed over her beautiful pale face.
"Your majesty," said she solemnly, "everything is ready. You can
begin your ride when it pleases you. The Princess Elizabeth awaits
you in the anteroom, and your master of horse already holds the
stirrup of your steed."
"And the lord chamberlain?" asked Catharine, blushing, "has he no
message from the king to bring me?"
"Ay!" said the Earl of Surrey as he entered. "His majesty bids me
tell the queen that she may extend her ride as far as she wishes.
The glorious weather is well worth that the Queen of England should
enjoy it, and enter into a contest with the sun."
"Oh, the king is the most gallant of cavaliers," said Catharine,
with a happy smile. "Now come, Jane, let us ride."
"Pardon me, your majesty," said Lady Jane, stepping back. "I cannot
to-day enjoy the privilege of accompanying your majesty. Lady Anne
Ettersville is to-day in attendance."
"Another time, then, Jane! And you, Earl Douglas, you ride with us?"
"The king, your majesty, has ordered me to his cabinet."
"Behold now a queen abandoned by all her friends!" said Catharine
cheerily, as with light, elastic step she passed through the hall to
"Here is something going on which I must fathom!" muttered John
Heywood, who had left the hall with the rest. "A mousetrap is set,
for the cats remain at home, and are hungry for their prey."
Lady Jane had remained behind in the hall with her father. Both had
stepped to the window, and were silently looking down into the yard,
where the brilliant cavalcade of the queen and her suite was moving
about in motley confusion.
Catharine had just mounted her palfrey; the noble animal,
recognizing his mistress, neighed loudly, and, giving a snort,
reared up with his noble burden.
Princess Elizabeth, who was close to the queen, uttered a cry of
alarm. "You will fall, queen," said she, "you ride such a wild
"Oh, no, indeed," said Catharine, smiling; "Hector is not wild. It
is with him as with me. This charming May air has made us both
mettlesome and happy. Away, then, my ladies and lords! our horses
must be to-day swift as birds. We ride to Epping Forest."
And through the open gateway dashed the cavalcade. The queen in
front; at her right, the Princess Elizabeth; at her left, the master
of horse, Thomas Seymour, Earl of Sudley.
When the train had disappeared, father and daughter stepped back
from the window, and looked at each other with strange, dark, and
"Well, Jane?" said Earl Douglas, at length. "She is still queen, and
the king becomes daily more unwieldy and ailing. It is time to give
him a seventh queen."
"Soon, my father, soon."
"Loves the queen Henry Howard at last?"
"Yes, he loves her!" said Jane, and her pale face was now colorless
as a winding-sheet.
"I ask, whether she loves him?"
"She will love him!" murmured Jane, and then suddenly mastering
herself, she continued: "but it is not enough to make the queen in
love; doubtless it would be still more efficient if some one could
instill a new love into the king. Did you see, father, with what
ardent looks his majesty yesterday watched me and the Duchess of
"Did I see it? The whole court talked about it."
"Well, now, my father, manage it so that the king may be heartily
bored to-day, and then bring him to me. He will find the Duchess of
Richmond with me."
"Ah, a glorious thought! You will surely be Henry's seventh queen."
"I will ruin Catharine Parr, for she is my rival, and I hate her!"
said Jane, with glowing cheeks and flashing eyes. "She has been
queen long enough, and I have bowed myself before her. Now she shall
fall in the dust before me, and I will set my foot upon her head."
It was a wondrous morning. The dew still lay on the grass of the
meadows, over which they had just ridden to reach the thicket of the
forest, in whose trees resounded the melodious voices of blithe
birds. Then they rode along the banks of a babbling forest stream,
and spied the deer that came forth into the glade on the other side,
as if they wanted, like the queen and her train, to listen to the
song of the birds and the murmuring of the fountains. Catharine felt
a nameless, blissful pleasure swell her bosom. She was to-day no
more the queen, surrounded by perils and foes; no more the wife of
an unloved, tyrannical husband; not the queen trammelled with the
shackles of etiquette. She was a free, happy woman, who, in
presageful, blissful trepidation, smiled at the future, and said to
each minute, "Stay, stay, for thou art so beautiful!"
It was a sweet, dreamy happiness, the happiness of that hour. With
glad heart, Catharine would have given her crown for it, could she
have prolonged this hour to an eternity.
He was at her side--he of whom John Heywood had said, that he was
among her most trustful and trusty friends. He was there; and even
if she did not dare to look at him often, often to speak to him, yet
she felt his presence, she perceived the glowing beams of his eyes,
which rested on her with consuming fire. Nobody could observe them.
For the court rode behind them, and before them and around them was
naught but Nature breathing and smiling with joy, naught but heaven
She had forgotten however that she was not quite alone, and that
while Thomas Seymour rode on her left, on her right was Princess
Elizabeth--that young girl of fourteen years--that child, who,
however, under the fire of suffering and the storms of adversity,
was early forced to precocious bloom, and whose heart, by the tears
and experience of her unhappy childhood, had acquired an early
ripeness. Elizabeth, a child in years, had already all the strength
and warmth of a woman's feelings. Elizabeth, the disowned and
disinherited princess, had inherited her father's pride and
ambition; and when she looked on the queen, and perceived that
little crown wrought on her velvet cap in diamond embroidery, she
felt in her bosom a sharp pang, and remembered, with feelings of
bitter grief, that this crown was destined never to adorn her head,
since the king, by solemn act of Parliament, had excluded her from
the succession to the throne. [Footnote: Tytler, p. 340] But for a
few weeks this pain had been more gentle, and less burning. Another
feeling had silenced it. Elizabeth who was never to be queen or
sovereign--Elizabeth might be a wife at least. Since she was denied
a crown, they should at least allow her instead a wife's happiness;
they should not grudge her the privilege of twining in her hair a
crown of myrtle.
She had been early taught to ever have a clear consciousness of all
her feelings; nor had she now shrunk from reading the depths of her
heart with steady and sure eye.
She knew that she loved, and that Thomas Seymour was the man whom
But the earl? Did he love her in return? Did he understand the
child's heart? Had he, beneath the childish face, already recognized
the passionate, proud woman? Had he guessed the secrets of this
soul, at once so maidenly and chaste, and yet so passionate and
Thomas Seymour never betrayed a secret, and what he had, it may be,
read in the eyes of the princess, and what he had, perhaps, spoken
to her in the quiet shady walks of Hampton Court, or in the long,
dark corridors of Whitehall, was known to no one save those two. For
Elizabeth had a strong, masculine soul; she needed no confidant to
share her secrets; and Thomas Seymour had feared even, like the
immortal hair-dresser of King Midas, to dig a hole and utter his
secret therein; for he knew very well that, if the reed grew up and
repeated his words, he might, for these words, lay his head on the
Poor Elizabeth! She did not even suspect the earl's secret and her
own were not, however, the same; she did not suspect that Thomas
Seymour, if he guessed her secret, might, perhaps, avail himself of
it to make thereof a brilliant foil for his own secret.
He had, like her, ever before his eyes the diamond crown on the head
of the young queen, and he had noticed well how old and feeble the
king had become of late.
As he now rode by the side of the two princesses, he felt his heart
swell with a proud joy, and bold and ambitious schemes alone
occupied his soul.
The two women understood nothing of this. They were both too much
occupied with their own thoughts; and while Catharine's eyes swept
with beaming look the landscape far and wide, the brow of the
princess was slightly clouded, and her sharp eye rested with a fixed
and watchful gaze on Thomas Seymour.
She had noticed the impassioned look which he had now and then
fastened on the queen. The slight, scarcely perceptible tremor of
his voice, when he spoke, had not escaped her.
Princess Elizabeth was jealous; she felt the first torturing motions
of that horrible disease which she had inherited from her father,
and in the feverish paroxysms of which the king had sent two of his
wives to the scaffold.
She was jealous, but not of the queen; much more, she dreamed not
that the queen might share and return Seymour's love. It never came
into her mind to accuse the queen of an understanding with the earl.
She was jealous only of the looks which he directed toward the
queen; and because she was watching those looks, she could not at
the same time read the eyes of her young stepmother also; she could
not see the gentle flames which, kindled by the fire of his looks,
glowed in hers.
Thomas Seymour had seen them, and had he now been alone with
Catharine, he would have thrown himself at her feet and confided to
her all the deep and dangerous secrets that he had so long harbored
in his breast; he would have left to her the choice of bringing him
to the block, or of accepting the love which he consecrated to her.
But there, behind them, were the spying, all-observing, all-
surmising courtiers; there was the Princess Elizabeth, who, had he
ventured to speak to the queen, would have conjectured from his
manner the words which she could not understand; for love sees so
clearly, and jealousy has such keen ears!
Catharine suspected nothing of the thoughts of her companions. She
alone was happy; she alone gave herself up with full soul to the
enjoyment of the moment. She drew in with intense delight the pure
air; she drank in the odor of the meadow blossoms; she listened with
thirsty ear to the murmuring song which the wind wafted to her from
the boughs of the trees. Her wishes extended not beyond the hour;
she rested in the full enjoyment of the presence of her beloved. He
was there--what needed she more to make her happy?
Her wishes extended not beyond this hour. She was only conscious how
delightful it was thus to be at her beloved's side, to breathe the
same air, to see the same sun, the same flowers on which his eyes
rested, and on which their glances at least might meet in kisses
which were denied to their lips.
But as they thus rode along, silent and meditative, each occupied
with his own thoughts, there came the assistance for which Thomas
Seymour had prayed, fluttering along in the shape of a fly.
At first this fly sported and buzzed about the nose of the fiery,
proud beast which the queen rode; and as no one noticed it, it was
not disturbed by Hector's tossing of his mane, but crept securely
and quietly to the top of the noble courser's head, pausing a little
here and there, and sinking his sting into the horse's flesh, so
that he reared and began loudly to neigh.
Back to Full Books