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EXULTATION OF LORD HASTINGS.
Lord Stanley observed to Hastings, that he disliked these double councils; “For whilst we," said he, “talk of one matter in one place, little wot we whereof they talk in the other." But lord Hastings gave him to understand, that he had a friend, Catesby, who would let nothing be concluded by the party at Crosby House, but “it should be in his ears, before it were well out of their mouths.”
The morning after this conversation, lord Howard's son called early on Hastings, to go June 13. with him to the Tower. And, landing on the wharf, they met there with a pursuivant, whom lord Hastings happened to recollect having seen on that same spot, when he had been conveyed thither as a prisoner in the days of lord Rivers' influence. So he now called to the officer, and said, “Ah, fellow! dost thou remember how I once met thee here with a heavy heart?" "Yes, my lord,” said the officer, "that I remember right well. But, thank God, they gat no good, and you no harm thereby.” “In faith, man," said he, “I was never so sorry, nor ever stood in such great fear of my life, as I did when thou and I met here. But lo! how the world is turned! My enemies now stand in danger; as thou mayest hap to hear more hereafter. And I was never in my life so merry, nor ever in such security.” He alluded, as the pursuivant would afterwards understand, to the secret order which he knew had been just issued, for beheading earl Rivers, and the others shut up with him in Pomfret castle.
At 9 o'clock the protector came to the council in the Tower. And, with the careless air of one who had nothing weighty on his mind, he spoke to Morton, bishop of Ely, about the good strawberries in his garden at Ely-place, in Holborn, and, requesting him to send for a dish, withdrew again. But, without opening the subject himself, he had employed Catesby to sound Lord Hastings, as to his willingness to see king Edward's children put aside, to make way for a sovereign more able to serve his friends; and had learnt, that he was resolved to be faithful to his late royal master's heir.
In little more than an hour, therefore, the duke returned to the council chamber, knitting his brows and biting his lips, so that the councillors could not but observe the change in his looks. And, after a short pause, he abruptly asked, what punishment they deserved who had been plotting his death? It would occur to lord Hastings, that the protector wanted but an excuse to colour his making away with the queen's relations; so he was the first to answer,
Let them die the death of traitors." “ Then see,” said the duke, baring his own left arm, and showing it shrunk and withered, “See how my brother's wife and the harlot Shore have wasted my body with their sorceries." As the councillors present well knew, that his arm had been in the same state for years, they now plainly saw that he meant but to make a quarrel with some one. Jane Shore was a noted adulteress, who had lived with the late king in open sin ; and since his death, lord Hastings had taken her to himself, after the same wicked manner. He was now, therefore, fain to be the answerer on his own account; so he said, "Certainly, my lord, if they have done so heinously, they should be punished accordingly." "Dost thou serve me with ifs and ands ?” exclaimed the duke, " I tell thee they have done it. And that will I make good on thy body, traitor.” With which words he struck his fist hard upon the council table; and the signal made some one without cry • Treason !' And armed men rushed into the room.
A blow was aimed at the lord Stanley, which he avoided by shrinking under the table; yet not
so but that his head was grazed. Archbishop Rotherham and bishop Morton were carried off to prison; and the duke tauntingly bade Hastings to speak with a
EXECUTION OF LORD HASTINGS.
priest, and confess his sins, " for, by St. Paul,” said he, “ I will not dine till I see thy head.” It was in vain that lord Hastings asked for what he was to die? The soldiers conducted him no farther than to a piece of timber under the chapel wall; on which he was made to lay his head forthwith, and they struck it off. So soon after boasting that he might securely take his ease, eat, drink, and be merry, did this poor sinner hear the words, This hour shall thy soul be required of thee *. Yet he perhaps died thinking himself far from ill prepared. For he had made his will two years before ; and in it, besides several bequests to different convents, on condition of their providing daily prayers for his soul for ever, he had “charged his executors, as soon as they should hear of his death, to make a thousand priests say a thousand placebos and diriges, with a thousand masses for his soul; and every priest to have gd. for this: and that all the same should be done in one day, if it be reasonably possible.” In the interval he had been leading a most sinful life; though the care for his soul, expressed in his will, could not have been inserted out of hypocrisy. But the Romish religion encouraged the fatal delusion, that the prayers of its priests, thus bought, would do instead of personal holiness; and therefore rendered it unnecessary t.
Having seen his order obeyed, the protector, as he had said, sat down to dinner ; whilst the mayor and some merchants of note were sent for. When they came, he and the duke of Buckingham showed themselves to the wondering citizens in such rusty armour as men of their rank were never used to wear; and told them, that a plot of lord Hastings,
* Luke xii. 19, 20.
+ In the same will, lord Hastings reckons among his possessions the guardianship of the earl of Shrewsbury, and of two other gentlemen, which the late king had given him; and he directs that the right of disposing of these wards in marriage should be sold by his executors, to raise money for certain purposes.
for their destruction had been discovered but at ten o'clock; and so suddenly as to leave them no time to prepare themselves otherwise for the danger; nor to devise any other security, than to cause him to be beheaded on the spot. A herald had also been dispatched into the city to post up a proclamation, describing the wickedness of lord Hastings' life; and how the protector had been saved, by the unexpected detection of that lord's devices. But men noticed, that the proclamation was at such length and so clearly penned, that a merchant, reflecting on the very short time since the pretended discovery, remarked to another who was reading it with him, " that parchment must have been written with a prophet's hand.”
When the protector had thus removed from the council the only persons likely to make any opposition to the measures he had now resolved on taking against his brother's children, it became his next object to get the duke of York out of sanctuary.
For this purpose, he proceeded to WestJune 16. minster on the Monday following in his barge, taking with him several nobles and prelates, besides a number of armed men. On their arrival at the Abbey stairs, cardinal Bourchier, archbishop of Canterbury, was sent in to speak with the Queen, and persuade her to give up this younger son to his care; that he might be sent to the Tower to cheer up his brother the king, who longed, she was told, to see him. It was impossible that such an excuse for separating her son from her, should be credited by her as the real motive. But the Queen had seen the manner in which the protector had come up the river, and knew his character too well to doubt but that he would use force, if his will were resisted. So calling for the duke of York, she pressed him to her arms, and delivering him to the cardinal, she turned away to hide her tears and her terror from the
poor boy; who was conducted by his uncle, with much
outward respect, to the young king's apartments in the Tower.
To draw the attention of the people to his brother's vices, the duke now sent officers to strip Jane Shore of all the gifts the late king or others had made her; and took for himself her plate and jewels to the value of 30001. Whilst she was sent to prison; and then compelled to walk barefoot, and half naked along the chief streets of London, with a lighted taper in her hand, by way of penance ; for the protector affected a great abhorrence of the sin of adultery; and spoke of it, in his proclamations, as likely to bring the curse of God upon the nation. And his emissaries were directed to say, among the people, that to let Edward's children reign was to connive at such wickedness; for that the duke's mother had conceived the late king Edward himself in adultery, whilst her husband the duke of York was abroad in France; and that Edward had been betrothed to the Lady Eleanor Boteler, who being still alive when he took the queen to wife, this second marriage, must, they said, have been null, and the young king and his brother no better than illegitimate children.
By this time a body of armed Welshmen, from the duke of Buckingham's Brecknock tenantry, had come to London, on his summons. And troops were known to be moving southward from Yorkshire, in compliance with the protector's requisition. So that the citizens might be expected to be as fully aware of the danger of not meeting the protector's wishes, as the execution of lord Hastings had made the nobility; and his agents were now accordingly directed to propose to the Londoners, undisguisedly, the setting aside of the king. As the suggestion was obviously high treason, the city magistrates should have committed the proposers to prison forthwith ; but Shaw the mayor had been either seduced or terrified, into abetting the duke's designs; and his brother, a priest,