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quote the lines, which Mrs. Jameson praises as “a
burst of female spite which is admirable:”—
“Not all these lords do vex me half so much,
It is not easy to understand why York and Buckingham are brought together as the detectors of the bad practices of Eleanor, and providing
“A sorry breakfast for my lord protector,”
seeing that York professed to espouse, at least seemingly, the cause of the Duke.
The story of Peter and his masteri is in Holinshed:—
* Eleanor’s baseness was not in her birth; she was the daughter of Reginald Lord Cobham of Sterborough, Sandford, 316. + Act i. Sc. 3. Jameson's Charact., ii. 251. t Act i. Sc: 3; and Actii. Sc. 3.
“In the same year also (1446), a certain armourer was appeached of treason by a servant of his own, for proof whereof a day was given them to fight in Smithfield, insomuch that in conflict the said armourer was overcome and slain, but yet by the misgoverning of himself; for on the morrow, when he should come to the field fresh and fasting, his neighbours came to him and gave him wine and strong drink” in such excessive sort, that he was therewith distempered, and reeled as he went, and so was slain without guilt. As for the false servant, he lived not long unpunished, for being convict of felony in court of assize, he was judged to be hanged, and so was at Tyburn.” t
This fight is mentioned by Fabyan, with its circumstances, and the fact is matter of record;S but I know not why Shakspeare, or the author of the old play, specifies the imputed treason as consisting in an assertion of York's claim to the crown.
Malone says,| that the other story, the detection of the pretended blindness or lameness, is taken from Sir Thomas More; the dramatist is more likely to have found it in Grafton."
The same scene contains a debate in council, upon the question whether York or Somerset should
be Regent of France. I have already shown that there is a doubt as to the date of this contest. * In the play, Gloucester takes the part of York, until he hears of the armourer's asserting his right to the crown, when he says:—
“Let Somerset be regent o'er the French,
I believe that this is so far correct, that Somerset's appointment to the regency occurred about the time of the trial by combat.
The second act exhibits the court hawking at St. Alban's, renews the quarrel between Gloucester and the Cardinal, and exhibits the Queen taking a decided part against the Lord Protector: the Cardinal, churchman as he is, agrees to fight a duel with Gloucester; indeed, makes the first overture towards this method of settling the dispute, for which there is no known authority. The Queen's part is taken from Holinshed.
The Chronicle already cited bears out the play pretty well, except as to dates.
“K. Henry. Stay, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester,
And go in peace, Humphrey, no less beloved
Though I may decidedly pronounce Shakspeare wrong in taking the Protector's staff from Duke Humphrey at the moment of his wife's condemnation, I cannot assign an exact date to the cessation of the protectorate.
At the time of Gloucester's death, Henry was in the twenty-sixth year of his age; the Duke must therefore have certainly ceased to be Protector for some years preceding that event.* I have quoted the passage in which Henry declares his continued favour to the retiring Protector. But it appears that for several years after the death of the Duke, attempts were repeatedly made by his friends in parliament to procure an acknowledgment of his innocence; but these were always unsuccessful so long as the government was in the hands of Henry himself. They succeeded when York obtained the power. I cannot agree with Lingard, that “no arguments could subdue the conviction or prejudice of the King.” Were not his advisers those who had criminated Gloucester?
When the scene changes to the parliament, which, following the Chronicle, is held at St. Edmund's Bury, the Queen breaks out against Gloucester:—
* See Lingard, v. 107; and the Rolls cited, v. 433-8. f Lingard, v. 124; from Wheth., 367.
“Can you not see P or will you not observe
Suffolk accuses him of participation with his Duchess, and each of his enemies flings an accusation.
“Cardinal. Did he not, contrary to form of law, Devise strange deaths for small offences done *
York. And did he not, in his protectorship, Levy great sums of money through the realm, For soldiers' pay in France, and never sent it 2 By means whereof the towns each day revolted.”
And when Gloucester appears, and is immediately “arrested of high treason, “York goes further:—
“”Tis thought, my lord, that you took bribes from France,