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Reign of Edward IV. Part 2 page 6


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Edward dispatched an army to the borders of Scotland, under his brother Gloucester and Albany. He engaged to place Albany on the throne of James, and, in return, Albany, who was believed already to have two wives, was to marry one of Edward's daughters, for he never entered into a treaty without putting in a daughter as one item. With upwards of 22,000 men Gloucester and Albany reached Berwick, which speedily surrendered, though, the castle held out.

James, to meet this formidable attack, summoned the whole force of his kingdom to meet him on the Borough Muir, near Edinburgh, and at the head of 50,000 men advanced first to Soutra and thence to Lauder. But sedition was in his camp. Edward and Albany had opened communications with the discontented nobles. Albany, at the treaty of Fotheringay, where the Scottish scheme was made matter of compact, had assumed the title of Alexander, King of Scotland, and the adhesion of the principal chiefs of Scotland was confirmed by the impolicy of James, who had not only given to his favourite Cochrane, the architect, the bulk of the estates, along with the title, of the Earl of Mar, but now placed him in command of the artillery, and permitted him to excite the envy and indignation of the great barons by the splendour of his appointments. He paraded a body-guard of 300 men, clad in gorgeous livery, armed with battle-axes; when in armour, his helmet of polished steel, richly inlaid with gold, was borne before him; when in his civil costume, he wore a riding-suit of black velvet, a massive gold chain round his neck, and a hunting-horn tipped with gold, and richly studded with jewels, was slung from his shoulder. His tent blazoned through the camp the pride of its possessor, being of rich and showy silk, and stretched by gilded chains to its posts.

This foolish, and, as it proved, fatal ostentation, put the climax to the wrath of the nobles. They met in the church at Lauder to consult on the best means of securing the king, and thus fulfilling their pledge to Edward and Albany. It was unanimously agreed that the upstart Cochrane must be first made away with. But who should undertake this dangerous office? who should hang the bell round the neck of their tyrannous enemy the cat? was asked by Lord Grey. "Leave that to me!" exclaimed Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Angus, "I will bell the cat!" a speech which gave him, ever after, the cognomen of "Archibald Bell-the-Oat." In the very midst of this discussion Cochrane hearing of this assembly, and anxious to ascertain its object, but unconscious of its terrible design against himself, suddenly appeared before the barred door and knocked loudly. "Who is there?" asked Douglas of Lochleven, who guarded the door. "I, the Earl of Mar," replied Cochrane. "The victim has saved us all trouble," said Angus, and bade Douglas unbar the door. Cochrane stepped into their midst, clad in his usual rich attire, and with his riding-whip in his hand.

Angus snatched the gold chain from Cochrane's neck, exclaiming, "It ill befits thee to wear this collar! And that horn, too, thou hunter of mischief!" he added, plucking it from his side. Cochrane, a man of great firmness and courage, was astonished at this reception, and asked, "Is it jest or earnest?" The next moment told him what it was, for he was seized and bound, and the majority of the conspirators rushed to the royal tent, where they also secured Rogers, the musician, and several of the other favourites. These they hurried away, and hanged in a row with Cochrane, over the parapet of the bridge. Having next secured the royal person, the conspirators disbanded the army, and, leaving the country open to the advance of Albany and Gloucester, they marched back to Edinburgh, and consigned James to the safe keeping of the castle.

Albany and Gloucester quickly followed the conspirators to the Scottish capital, and the-re appeared now every prospect of the crown being placed on the head of Albany; but this was suddenly prevented by a new movement. The whole body of the Scottish nobles had joined in the destruction of the favourites, but there was a strong party of them who contemplated nothing further. The loyalty of this section of the aristocracy being well known to Angus and his friends, they had not ventured to communicate to them their design of deposing James. The moment that this became 'known to them, they quitted Edinburgh, collected an army, and planted themselves near Haddington, determined to keep in check any proceedings against the king. At the head of this loyal party were the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, the Bishop of Dunkeld, the Earl of Argyll, and Lord Evandale. They called on all loyal Scots to gather to their standard, and, being posted betwixt Edinburgh and the English border, threw Gloucester and his adherents into considerable anxiety as to their position. Albany, Gloucester, and the insurgent lords were glad to come to an accommodation. It was agreed that James should retain the crown; that Albany should receive a pardon and the restoration of his rank and estates; that the money paid by Edward as part of the dowry of Cecilia, should be repaid by the citizens of Edinburgh, and that Berwick and its castle should be ceded to England. Gloucester thereupon marched homeward, and Albany laid siege to the castle of Edinburgh, where the Earls of Atholl and Buchan still detained the king. He soon compelled them to capitulate, and James being now in the hands of Albany, the two brothers, in sign of perfect reconciliation, rode together on the same horse to the palace of Holyrood, and slept together in the same bed. the treason of Albany, however, only hid itself in his bosom for a season.

The Scotch difficulty being thus settled, Edward now turned his attention to Louis of France. Whilst the Scotch campaign had been proceeding, an occurrence had taken place which raised the wrath of Edward to its pitch. Mary of Burgundy had one day gone out hawking in the neighbourhood of Bruges, when her horse, in leaping a dyke, broke his girths, and threw her violently against a tree. She died in consequence, leaving three infant children, one of which, Margaret, was a little girl two years old. Mary herself was only twenty-five at the time of her death. No sooner did Louis hear of this, than he immediately demanded the infant Margaret for his son the Dauphin, totally regardless of the long-standing engagement with Edward for the Princess Elizabeth. Maximilian of Austria, the father of Margaret, was strongly opposed to the match, seeing too well that Louis only wanted to make himself master of the territories of the children. Louis, however, had intrigued with the people of Ghent, and they would insist upon the alliance. Margaret was delivered to the commissioners of Louis, who settled on her the provinces which he had taken from her mother. The French, who regarded this event as bringing to the kingdom some very fine territories, without the trouble and expense of a conquest, received the infant princess with great rejoicings.

The rage of Edward knew no bounds. He had been so often warned, both by his courtiers and by Parliament, that the crafty Louis would play him false, that he now vowed to take the most consummate vengeance upon him. The best means of inflicting the severest punishment on the King of France engrossed his whole soul, and occupied him day and night. This violent excitement, operating upon a constitution ruined by sensual indulgence, brought on an illness which, not attended to at first, soon terminated his existence. He died on the 9th of April, 1483, in the twenty-third year of his reign and the forty-first of his age. The approach of death awoke in him feelings of deep repentance. He ordered full restitution to be made to all whom he had wronged, or from whom he had extorted benevolences. But such orders were not likely to receive much attention from Gloucester, who became the source of power. Immediately after his death he was exposed on a board, naked from the waist upwards, for ten hours, so that the lords spiritual and temporal, and the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London might see that he had -received no violence. He was then buried in Westminster Abbey, with great pomp and ceremony.

Edward IV. was a man calculated to make a great figure in rude and martial times. He was handsome, lively of disposition, affable, and brave. So long as circumstances demanded daring and exertion in the field, he was triumphant and prosperous. Rapid in his resolves and in his movements, undaunted in his attacks, he was uniformly victorious; but peace at once unmanned him. With the last stroke of the sword and the last sound of the trumpet, he flung down his arms, and flew to riot and debauchery. Ever the conqueror in the field, he was always defeated in the city. He never could become conqueror over himself. By unrestrained indulgence he destroyed his constitution, and hurried on to early death. Whether in the battle-field or in the hour of peace, he was unrestrained by principle, and sullied his most brilliant laurels in the blood of the young, the innocent, and the victim incapable of resistance. He was magnificent in his costume, luxurious at table, and most licentious in his amours. As he advanced in years he grew corpulent, gross, and unhealthy. Ho had the faculty of never forgetting the face of any one whom he had once seen, or the name of any one who had done him an injury. There was no person of any prominence of whom he did not know the whole history; and he had a spy in almost every officer of his government, even to the extremities of his kingdom. By this means he was early informed of the slightest hostile movement, and by a rapid dash into the enemy's quarters he soon extinguished opposition. Such a man might be a brilliant, but could never be a good monarch. He attached no one to his fortunes; therefore all his attempts to knit up alliances failed; and his sons, left young and unprotected, speedily perished.

His children were, Edward, his eldest son and successor, born in the Sanctuary in 1470; Richard, Duke of York; Elizabeth, who was contracted to the Dauphin, but who became the queen of Henry VII.; Cecilia, contracted to James, afterwards IV. of Scotland, but married to John, Viscount "Welles; Anne, contracted to Philip of Burgundy, but married to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk; Bridget, who became a nun at Dartford; and Catherine, contracted to the Prince of Spain, but married to William Courtney, Earl of Devonshire. He left two natural children, a son by Elizabeth Lucie, named Arthur, who married the heiress of Lord Lisle, and succeeded to his title; and a daughter named Elizabeth, who married Thomas, Lord Lumley.

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