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In the midst of his murderous plans against his nephews, the accomplished villain of Shakspeare instructs his agent, Catesby, to
"rumour it abroad, That Anne, my wife, is very grievous sick ;" and tells him to “ Inquire me out some mean-born gentleman,
Whom I will marry straight to Clarence's daughter.
The boy is foolish, and I fear not him ;" and adds,
“I must be married to my brother's daughter.”
And in the next, he congratulates himself on the execution of all his plans, except the last. He has put young Clarence (Earl of Warwick) in prison, and has “meanly married” his sister ; -his wife is dead, and so are the children of Edward. “ Now, for I know the Bretagne Richmond aims
At young Elizabeth, my brother's daughter,
It is true that he placed Warwick in confinement; and that Margaret was married to Sir
der," is unsupported. I own, however, that I deem the notion, that one prince escaped and the other was murdered, as little supported by probability as by evidence.
Richard Pole; but Pole could not accurately be called mean, except in comparison with royalty. Nor does it appear that he was married at the instigation of Richard, or, indeed, that the marriage occurred during Richard's life. Sir Richard Pole was connected with the family of Henry VII.,* who made him a Knight of the Garter.
It is clearly insinuated by our poet, that the life of Queen Anne was shortened by her husband's means, and this is the last of the imputed murders which I have to notice. This charge rests on More alone ; nor does he affirm the fact. Richard, he says, had spread a rumour of her death :
“Now, when the queen heard tell that so horrible a rumour of her death was sprung amongst the commonalty, she sore suspected and judged the world to be almost an end with her. And in that sorrowful agony, she with lamentable countenance and sorrowful cheer, repaired to the presence of the king her husband, demanding of him what it should mean,
* He was the son of Geoffrey Pole of Buckinghamshire, by Edith, daughter of Sir Oliver St. John, and Margaret Beauchamp, afterwards wife of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and mother to the Countess of Richmond, the mother of Henry VII.-See Coll. Topograph., i. 295, 310. He was a K.G., but probably not until the time of Henry VII.
that he had adjudged her worthy to die. The king answered her with fair words, and with smiling and flattering leasings comforted her, and bid her be of good cheer, for (to his knowledge) she should have no other cause. But howsoever that it fortuned, that either by inward thought and pensiveness of heart, or by infection of poison which is affirmed to be most likely, within few days after, the queen departed out of this transitory life, and was with due solemnity buried in the church of St. Peter at Westminster."*
I find nothing in Fabyan ; the Croyland Continuator says, that Anne died of a languishing disorder ; t I see no reason whatever for believing that she was murdered.
Richard's intention to marry his niece Elizabeth, is in More, I who says that her mother was gained over by promises of advantage to her family, as well as by Richard's “ wily wit.” It is also mentioned in connexion with Queen Anne's death, by the Croyland Continuator.
• Hol., 430.
† “ Regina vehementissimè ægrotare cæpit, cujus languor ideo magis atque magis excrecisse censebatur, quod rex ipse thori sui consertium omnino aspernabitur.
Quid plura ? Circa medium Martii sequentis, in die magno eclipsis solis quæ tunc temporis accidebat, obiit præfata Anna Regina.” Croyl. Cont., p. 572.
| Hol., 529, 533; Croyl. Cont., 572.
He says that many things happened of bad example, which is disagreeable to relate, but he cannot avoid mentioning. He then tells us, that much scandal was excited among the people, as well as among the peers and prelates, by the appearance of Queen Anne and the Princess Elizabeth at Richard's court in dresses precisely similar, whence it was inferred, that either by a divorce, or by the death of the queen, Richard entertained the idea of marrying Elizabeth.* But the marriage was so unpopular, that he was advised by his closest adherents to deny that he had projected it.
As in the case of his first wife, Richard's wooings is performed upon the stage; and he talks over the queen dowager, who begins by imputing to him a whole catalogue of crimes, into giving her daughter, as he had talked over Anne into marrying him herself. It is not without reason that he calls her, “ Relenting fool, and shallow, changing, woman.”
It clearly appears from a document published by Sir Henry Ellis, † that the queen dowager, after her marriagewith Edward had been declared
* Croyl., 568. Then follows the passage about the queen's sickness, already quoted. See Lingard, 262.
+ Letters, second series, i. 149. See Turner, 494.
void, was invited to send her four daughters to Richard's court, where they were to receive pecuniary allowances, and to be well treated, and married to gentlemen. And it appears from the story in the Croyland Continuation, that she accepted this invitation
Lingard,* as well as Walpole, † gives credence to a story in Buck, from which it would appear, not only that the queen dowager consented to give her daughter to Richard, but that the young Elizabeth herself was ambitious of the proffered honour; that she wrote a letter to the Duke of Norfolk, “ desiring him to be a mediator for her to the king, on the behalf of the marriage propounded between them, who was her only joy and master in this world, and she was his in heart and thought, withal insinuating that the better part of February was past, and that she feared the queen (whose death in that month had been predicted by physicians) would never die.”
I own that I doubt the truth of this story. If I could believe it, I should certainly be very
+ P.151. See Kennet, i. 568. Buck says that this letter, in his time, was in the cabinet of Thomas, Earl of Arundel and Surry. Mr. Howard of Corby has kindly procured a search to be made for this curious paper; but it cannot be found.
* P. 264.