Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

general, nobly directed, had never known contradiction; and late in life, when his character was formed, he was forced into collision with difficulties with which the experience of discipline had not fitted him to contend. Education had done much for him, but his nature required more correction than his position had permitted, while unbroken prosperity and early independence of control had been his most serious misfortune. He had capacity, if his training had been equal to it, to be one of the greatest of men. With all his faults about him, he was still, perhaps, the greatest of his contemporaries, and the man best able of all living Englishmen to govern England, had he not been set to do it by the conditions of his birth.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The coronation of Anne Boleyn is another of Froude's finest descriptive efforts.

Henry VIII of England, after having been married for many years to Catharine of Aragon, who had been previously married to his younger brother, Prince Arthur, was so fascinated with the charms of Anne Boleyn that he caused bimself to be divorced from Catharine, upon pretended scruples of conscience in regard to his marriage to his brother's widow. The divorce of Henry VIII was, in its consequences, one of the most important events of the sixteenth century, as it was one of the principal causes that led to the separation of the English nation from the Roman Catholic communion. The Pope having refused to sanction the divorce of Henry from Catharine, it was pronounced by Cranmer, and Anne Boleyn was publicly acknowledged as Queen.

Henry VIII became the head of the Church in his own kingdom, and allegiance to the Pope was renounced. In a few years Anne

Boleyn was accused of infidelity to Henry, was tried, condemned, and executed. She was the mother of Queen Elizabeth. (See Miss Strickland's “Queens of England.")

1 On the morning of the 31st of May the families of the London citizens were stirring early in all houses. From Temple Bar to the Tower the streets were fresh strewed with gravel, the footpaths were railed off along the whole distance, and occupied on one side by the guilds, their workmen, and apprentices, on the other by the city constables and officials in their gaudy uniforms, “with their staves in hand for to cause the people to keep good room and order.” Cornhill and Gracechurch Street had dressed their fronts in scarlet and crimson, in arras and tapestry, and the rich carpet-work from Persia and the East. Cheapside, to outshine her rivals, was draped even more splendidly in cloth of gold and tissue and velvet. The sheriffs were pacing up and down on the great Flemish horses, hung with liveries, and all the windows were thronged with ladies crowding to see the procession 2 pass. At length the Tower guns opened, the grim gates

rolied back, and under the archway in the bright May sunshine the long column began slowly to defile. Two states only permitted their representatives to grace the scene with their presence-. Venice and France. It was, perhaps, to make the most of this isolated countenance that the French ambassador's train formed the van of the cavalcade. Twelve French knights came riding foremost in surcoats of blue velvet with sleeves of yellow silk, their horses trapped in blue, with white crosses powdered on their hangings. After them followed a troop of English gentlemen, two and two, and then the Knights of the Bath, “in gowns of violet, with hoods purfled with miniver like doctors.” Next, perhaps at a little interval, the abbots passed on, mitered in their robes; the barons

followed in crimson velvet, the bishops then, and then the earls and marquises, the dresses of each order increasing in elaborate gorgeousness. All these rode on in pairs. 3 Then came alone Audeley, lord-chancellor, and behind him the Venetian ambassador and the Archbishop of York; the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne and of Paris, not now with bugle and hunting-frock, but solemn with stole and crozier. Next the Lord-Mayor, with the city mace in hand, and Garter in his coat-of-arms; and then Lord William HowardBelted Will Howard, of the Scottish Border, Marshal of England. The officers of the Queen's household succeeded the Marshal in scarlet and gold, and the van of the procession was closed by the Duke of Suffolk, as high constable, with his silver wand. It is no easy matter to 4 picture to ourselves the blazing trail of splendor which in such a pageant must have drawn along the London streets—those streets which now we know so black and smoke-grimed, themselves then radiant with masses of color-gold and crimson and violet. Yet there it was, and there the sun could shine upon it, and tens of thousands of eyes were gazing on the scene out of the crowded lattices.

Glorious as the spectacle was, perhaps, however, it 5 passed unheeded. Those eyes were watching all for another object, which now drew near. In an open space behind the constable there was seen approaching “a white chariot,” drawn by two palfreys in white damask which swept the ground, a golden canopy borne above it making music with silver bells; and in the chariot sat the observed of all observers, the beautiful occasion of all this glittering homage; fortune's plaything of the hour, the Queen of England-queen at last-borne along upon the waves of this sea of glory, breathing the perfumed in

cense of greatness which she had risked her fair name, delicacy, her honor, her self-respect, to win; and she had

won it.

6 There she sat, dressed in white tissue robes, her fair

hair flowing loose over her shoulders, and her temples circled with a light coronet of gold and diamonds-most beautiful—loveliest, most favored, perhaps, as she seemed at that hour, of all England's daughters. Alas! “ within the hollow round” of that coronet

Kept death his court, and there the antick sate,
Scoffing her state and grinning at her pomp.
Allowing her a little breath, a little scene
To monarchize, be feared, and kill with looks,
Infusing her with self and vain conceit,
As if the flesh which walled about her life
Were brass impregnable; and humored thus,
Bored through her castle walls; and farewell, Queen.

7 Fatal gift of greatness (so dangerous ever), so more

than dangerous in these tremendous times when the fountains are broken loose of the great deeps of thought, and nations are in the throes of revolution; when ancient order and law and tradition are splitting in the social earthquake; and as the opposing forces wrestle to and fro, those unhappy ones who stand out above the crowd become the symbols of the struggle, and fall the victims of its alternating fortunes. And what if into an unsteady heart and brain, intoxicated with splendor, the outward chaos should find its way, converting the poor silly soul into an image of the same confusion—if conscience should be deposed from her high place, and the Pandora box be broken loose of passions and sensualities and follies, and at length there be nothing left of all which man or woman ought to value save hope of God's forgiveness. 8 Three short years have yet to pass, and again, on a

summer morning, Queen Anne Boleyn will leave the Tower of London, not radiant then with beauty on a gay errand of coronation, but a poor, wandering ghost, on a sad, tragic errand, from which she will never more return, passing away out of an earth where she may stay no longer into a presence where, nevertheless, we know that all is well for all of us, and therefore for her.

But let us not cloud her short-lived sunshine with the 9 shadow of the future. She went on in her loveliness, the peeresses following in their carriages, with the royal guard in their rear. In Fenchurch Street she was met by the children of the city schools, and at the corner of Gracechurch Street a masterpiece had been prepared of the pseudo-classic art, then so fashionable, by the merchants of the Styllyard. A Mount Parnassus had been constructed, and a Helican fountain upon it, playing into a basin, with four jets of Rhenish wine. On the top of the mountain sat Apollo, with Calliope at his feet, and on either side the remaining muses, holding lutes or harps, and singing each of them some “posy” or epigram in praise of the Queen, which was presented, after it had been sung, written in letters of gold.

From Gracechurch Street the procession passed to 10 Leadenhall, where there was a spectacle, in better taste, of the old English Catholic kind, quaint, perhaps, and forced, but truly, and even beautifully, emblematic. There was again a “little mountain,” which was hung with red and white roses; a gold ring was placed on the summit, on which, as the Queen appeared, a white falcon was made to “descend as out of sky”; "and then incon. tinent came down an angel, with great melody, and set a close crown of gold upon the falcon's head; and in the same pageant sat Saint Anne, with all her issue beneath her; and Mary Cleophas, with her four children, of the

« ElőzőTovább »