Page images
PDF
EPUB

homager: That King Henry knew well what went upon it in example, if neighitour Princes should patronise and comfort rebels against the law of nations and of leagues : Nevertheless that their master was not ignorant that the King had been beholding to the Duke of Brittaine in his adversity, as on the other side they knew he would not forget also the readiness of their King in aiding him when the Duke of Brittaine or his mercenary counsellors failed trim, and would have betrayed him; and that there was a great difference between the courtesies received from their master and the Duke of Brittaine, for that the Duke's might have ends of utility and bargain, whereas their master's could not have proceeded but out of entire affection ; for that if it had been measured by a politic line, it had been better for his affairs that a tyrant should have reigned in England, troubled and hated, than such a Prince whose virtues could not fail to make him great and potent, whensoever he was comen to be master of his affairs : But howsoever it stood for the point of obligation which the King might owe to the Duke of Brittaine, yet their master was well

It is the same form which we have further on (pp. 134-145), merchants strangers; for so it is written in the MS.; the double plural, without any comma between. So it was usual in Bacon's time to say “letters patents;” not "letters patent." In the edition of 1622 “ merchants strangers" is printed "merchant-strangers." According to which rule “subjects traitors” would be corrected into “subject-traitors.” But I rather think that the true modern equivalents would be “stranger-merchants," and "traitor-subjects."

The anomaly may have arisen either out of the practice (then usual) of placing the adjective after its substantive, (when, in the case of words that might be used either as adjectives or substantives, the plural without the final s would sometimes sound odd); or simply from the preservation occasionally of the French form of a phrase with which the ear had become familiar in French

:

[ocr errors]

assured it would not divert King Henry of England from doing that that was just, nor ever embark him in so ill-grounded à quarrel : Therefore since this war which their master was now to make was but to deliver himself from imminent dangers, their King hoped the King would shew the like affection to the conservation of their master's estate, as their master had (when time was) shewed to the King's acquisition of his kingdom: At the least that according to the inclination which the King had ever professed of peace, he would look on and stand neutral; for that their master could not with reason press him to undertake part in the war, being so newly settled and recovered from intestine seditions. But touching the mystery of re-annexing of the duchy of Brittaine to the crown of France, either by war or by marriage with the daughter of Brittaine, the ambassadors bare aloof from it as from a rock, knowing that it made most against them; and therefore by all means declined any mention thereof, but contrariwise interlaced in their conference with the King the assured purpose of their master to match with the daughter of Maximilian'; and entertained the King also with some wandering discourses 2 of their King's purpose to recover by arms

1 This point is not mentioned by Polydore Vergil; who seems to have been the only authority with previous historians for all these transactions. And hence it would appear that Bacon had some independent source of information. The rest he might have inferred from Polydore's narrative: but this (unless he had some other authority) he must have invented; which he could have no object in doing. The thing is worth remarking; because as Bacon undoubtedly composed the speeches in this history on the Thucydidean principle, (ώς αν έδόκουν εμοί έκαστοι περί των αει πα. υόντι ν τα δεόντα μάλιστείπειν, έχoμένω ότι εγγύτατα της ξυμπάσης γνώμης των αληθώς λεχθέντων,) it might be suspected that he framed his narrative upon the same principle; and if he had nothing besides Poiy dore and the old chroniclers (who do little more than translate Polydore)

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

his right to the kingdom of Naples, by an expedition in person ; all to remove the•King from all jealousy of any design in these hither parts upon Brittaine, otherwise than for quenching of the fire which he feared might be kindled in his own estate.

The King, after advice taken with his counsel, made answer to the ambassadors. And first returned their compliment, shewing he was right glad of the French King's reception of those towns from Maximilian. Then he familiarly related some particular passages of his own adventures and victory passed. As to the business of Brittaine, the King answered in few words ; that the French King and the Duke of Brittaine were the two persons to whom he was most obliged of all men; and that he should think himself very unhappy if things should go so between them, as he should not be able to acquit himself in gratitude towards them both; and that there was means for him, as a Christian King and a common friend to them, to satisfy all obligations both to God and man, but to offer himself for a mediator of an accord and peace between them ; by which course he doubted not but their King's estate and honour both, would be preserved with more safety and less envy than by a war; and that he would spare no cost or pains, no if it were

no

to go upon, it would appear that a good deal of it was mere invention. We know however that in other parts of the history Bacon had independent evidence, which is still extant and accessible; and there is no reason to conclude that what is extant was all he had. The fire in the Cottonian Library in 1731 may easily have destroyed the evidence of those parts of che narrative which are not accounted for, as another such fire would in all probability destroy the evidence of many which are. It is a fact that he volumes relating to the times of Henry VII. have suffered much. These remarks apply also to the passage about " envy," a little further on, which is not to be found in Polydore.

to go on pilgrimage, for so good an effect; and concluded that in this great affair, which he took so much to heart, he would express himself more fully' by an ambassage, which he would speedily dispatch unto the French King for that purpose. And in this sort the French ambassadors were dismissed: the King avoidmg to understand any thing touching the re-annexing of Brittaine, as the ambassadors had avoided to mention it; save that he gave a little touch of it in the word envy. And so it was, that the King was neither so shallow nor so ill advertised as not to perceive the intention of the French for the investing himself of Brittaine. But first, he was utterly unwilling (howsoever he gave out) to enter into a war with France. A fame of a war he liked well, but not an achievement; for the one he thought would make him richer, and the other poorer; and he was possessed with many secret fears ? touching his own people; which he was therefore loth to arm, and put weapons into their hands. Yet notwithstanding, as a prudent and courageous Prince, he was not so averse from a war, but that he was resolved to choose it rather than to have Brittaine carried by France ; being so great and opulent a duchy,

i So ed. 1622. The MS. omits “fully."

2 He had also a special reason for delaying a war with France at this time, which is not mentioned in the histories, but may be gathered from the Calendar of Patent Rolls, 3 Hen. VII. During the spring of 1488 some danger was hanging over his own coasts, probably from Ireland. From entries in the Calendar dated the 19th and 20th of February (1487-8) we find that forces were then “ about to proceed to sea in three Spanish ships in resistance of the King's enemies," under command of Sir Charles Somerset. And again on the 4th of May following we find writs for the impressment of soldiers, &c., — "an armed force being about to be sent against the King's enemies congregating on the sen," --- also under command of Sir Charles Somerset. (See vol. ii. p. 130.)

Who these enemies were, the Calendar does not state; but a previons entry in the same volume (p. 105), though of later date, indicates the quarter from which danger was to be feared. On the 25th of May a writ was issued to Richard Eggecombe, Knt. the King's counsellor and comptroller of his household, empowering him to nssure to such as come from Ireland to trent on matters concerning the sound rule of peace in that land, a bafe advent, stay, and return;" and further “ to admit to the King's graco all subjects of the said land that may submit themselves," &c. And at

pp. 108, 9, we find a number of general pardons for Irishmen, bearing the same date. These proceedings indicate probably the suppression of the danger for the time. For during the rest of the summer we learn (Leland, iv. p. 243.) that the King was engaged in hunting and sporting, and in the autumn, he was free, as I shall show a little further on, to take more active measures for the succour of Brittany.

On the 1st of October following, the King's uncle, the Duke of Bedford, was made Lieutenant of Ireland for a year. (Cal. Pat. Rols, vol. iii. p. 14.)

I am the rather disposed to think that defence against Ireland and not succour to Brittany was the object of this voyage, because it seems to have been at this time that Lord Woodville's project of raising volunteers in aid of the Duke of Brittany (see p. 110) was countermanded. " My lord hath been with the King in Windsor," (says William Paston, writing from Hedingham, the Earl of Oxford's castle, to his brother, on the 13th of May (1488).) " at St. George's feast; and there at the same feast were both the ambassadors of Bretaigne and of Flanders, as well from the King of the Romans as from the young Duke; but I cannot shew you the certain whether we shall have with them war or peace; but I understand for certain that all such captains as went to the sea in Lent, that is to say Sir Charles Somerset, Sir Richard Hawte, and Sir William Vampage, maketh them ready to go to the sea again as shortly as they can; to what intent I cannot say. Also whereas it was said that my Lord Wodevyle and other should have gone over into Bretaigne to have aided the Duke of Bretaigne, I cannot tell of none such aid; but upon that saying there came many men to Southampton, where it was said that he should have taken shipping, to have waited upon him over; and so when he was countermanded, those that resorted thither to have gone over with him tarried there still, in hope that they should have been licensed to have gone over; and when they saw no likelihood that they should have license, there was 200 of them that got iaem into a Bretaigne ship,” &c. &c. He goes on to say how these 270 arrived in Brittany, where they then were. - See Paston Letters, vo: « p. 367.

D'Argentré (xiii. 41.) mentions an embassy sent by the Duke of Brittany to England in September, 1487, and adds that Henry who was then rery busy (avoit lors bien des affaires) some time after sent some troops

nid him, who were at the battle of St. Aubin, – but not above 500 men; alluding no doubt to Lord Woodville's company.

« PreviousContinue »