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Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Concluded). page 22

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"But when the king's fifth wife had lost her head,
Yet he mislikes the life to live alone;
And once resolved the sixth time for to wed,
He sought outright to make his choice of one:
That choice was chance right happy for us all -
It brewed our bliss, and rid us quite from thrall."

When Henry opened to Catherine Parr his intention to make her his wife, she is said to have been struck with consternation; and, though a matron of the highest virtue, she frankly told him that "it was better to be his mistress than his wife." Henry, however, was a suitor who listened to no scruples or objections; and even with the most prudent woman, a crown being concerned, these scruples soon vanished. Catherine was scarcely a widow when her hand had been sought by Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane, and uncle to the heir-apparent, who was considered the handsomest man of the Court. She is said to have listened willingly to his suit; but on the appearance of the great and terrible lover, who took off the heads of queens and rivals with as little ceremony as a cook would cut off the head of a goose, Seymour shrunk in affright aside, and Catherine became a queen. The marriage took place on the 12th of July, 1543, in the queen's closet at Hampton Court. The ceremony was performed by Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester. The two princesses, Mary and Elizabeth, and the king's niece, Margaret Douglas, were present; and the queen was attended by her sister, Mrs. Herbert, afterwards Countess of Pembroke, the Duchess of Suffolk, Anne, Countess of Hertford, and Lady Jane Dudley. Soon after the marriage, her uncle, Lord Parr of Horton, was made Lord Chamberlain, and her brother was created Earl of Essex. Yet circumstances almost immediately showed the danger which surrounded her. Gardiner, the bigoted Bishop of Winchester, who had married her, saw, nevertheless, her elevation with the deepest inward hatred; and within a fortnight after her marriage, he was plotting her destruction, and commenced by an attack on those about the Court and its vicinity, who were known as holders of her views. A tool of his, one Dr. London, who had been amongst the busiest of Cromwell's agents in the spoliation of the abbeys, but who had now become as busy an agent of the Papist party, which was in the ascendant, commenced by giving information of a society of Reformers in Windsor, who were believed to receive countenance from members of the Royal household. London made a list of these persons, and stated the charges against them, which Gardiner laid before the king, praying that a search might be made for books of the new heresy. Henry granted the search so far as it regarded the town, but excepted the castle, being pretty well aware that the queen's closets would not bear too close a scrutiny. Marbeck, a chorister, was speedily arrested for having in his possession a Bible and a Latin concordance in progress. With him, were arrested, as his accomplices, Anthony Pason, a priest, Robert Test-wood, and Henry Filmer. Marbeck was saved by some influential interference, but the three others were burnt, after having been pressed closely, and with added assurances of pardon, to criminate personages within the palace, but in vain. This preliminary step having succeeded, higher game was aimed at. Dr. Haines, Dean of Exeter and Prebendary of Windsor, Sir Philip Hoby and his lady, Sir Thomas Carden, and other members of the Royal household, were denounced by London and his coadjutor Symonds. This evident approach towards her own person, seems to have roused Catherine Parr, who sent a bold and trusty servant into court, who exposed the collusion of Ockham, clerk of the court, and London. Ockham was arrested, and his papers seized, which at once revealed the foul plot betwixt himself, London, and Symonds. These miscreants were sent for and examined, and not knowing that their letters to Ockham were seized, they speedily proved their own villany, and were condemned to ride, with their faces to the horses' tails, to the pillory in Windsor. Such were the critical circumstances of Queen Catherine Parr, even in her honeymoon. In these plots the destruction of Cranmer was not lost sight of, but his time was not come; the favour of the king still defended him.

The spring of 1544 opened with active preparations for Henry's campaign in France. During the winter, Gonzaga, the viceroy of Sicily, was dispatched to London by Charles, to arrange the plan of operations. An admirable one was devised, had Henry been the man to assist in carrying it out. The emperor was to enter France by Champagne, and Henry by Picardy, and, instead of staying to besiege the towns on the route, they were to dash on to Paris, where, their forces uniting, they might consider themselves masters of the French capital, or in a position to dictate terms to Francis. In May the Imperialists were in the field, and Henry landed at Calais in June, and by the middle of July he was within the bounds of France at the head of 20,000 English and 15,000 Imperialists.

But neither of the invaders kept to their original plan. Charles stopped by the way to reduce Luxembourg, Ligne, and St. Didier. Had Henry, however, pushed on with his imposing army to Paris, Francis would have been at the mercy of the allies. But Henry, ambitions to rival the military successes of Charles, and take towns too, instead of making the capital his object, turned aside to besiege Boulogne and Montreuil. The imperial ambassador, sensible of the fatality of this proceeding, urged Henry with all his eloquence during eleven days to push on: and Charles, to take from him any further excuse for delay, hastened forward along the right bank of the Marne, avoiding all the fortified towns. Bur when once Henry had undertaken an object, opposition only increased his resolution, and he lost all consciousness of everything but the one idea of asserting his mastery. In vain, therefore, did Charles send messengers imploring him to advance; for more than two months he continued besieging Boulogne, and the golden opportunity was lost.

Francis seized on the delay to make terms with Charles. He sent to him a Spanish monk of the name of Guzman, and a near relative of Charles's confessor, proposing offers of accommodation. Charles readily listened to them, and sent to Henry to learn his demands. These demands were something enormous, and whilst Francis demurred. Charles continued his march, and arrived at Chateau-Thierry, almost in the vicinity of Paris. The circumstances of both Francis and Charles now mutually inclined them to open separate negotiations. Francis saw a foreign army menacing his capital, but Charles, on the other hand, saw the French army constantly increasing betwixt him and his strange ally, whom nothing could induce to move from the walls of Boulogne. Under these circumstances Charles consented to offer Francis the terms which he had demanded before the war, and which he had refused; but now came the news that the English had taken Boulogne, and the French king at once accepted them. The Treaty of Crespi, as this was called, bound the two sovereigns to unite for the defence of Christendom against the Turks, and to unite their families by the marriage of the second son of Francis with a daughter of Charles, Henry, on his part, having placed a strong garrison in Boulogne, raised the siege of Montreuil, and returned to England like a great conqueror, as he always did, from his distant campaigns.

If Henry's campaign in Prance did him little honour, that which had been going on in Scotland under his commanders and allies, did him still less. His trusty friends, Angus, Lennox, Cassilis, and Glencairn, who had sworn in their bond to remain faithful to him till they had reduced Scotland to his yoke, in January, 1544, entered into the same compact with Arran, in order to escape a forfeiture of their estates for their repeated treasons, solemnly binding "themselves, and all other their complices and partakers, to remain true, faithful, and obedient to their sovereign lady and her authority; to assist the lord-governor for defence of the realms against their old enemies of England, to support the liberties of Holy Church, and to maintain the true Christian faith." As hostages for the faithful observance of this agreement, Sir George Douglas, the brother of Angus, and the eldest son of Glencairn, the Master of Kilmaurs, were surrendered to Arran. Yet within less than two months did these infamous and doubly-perjured traitors send an earnest entreaty to the King of England to hasten his preparations for the invasion of the country, and accompanied it by a plan of operations. These were, that a strong army should proceed by land, a numerous fleet, carrying an additional force, should go by sea, and it was added, that it would act as a most useful diversion, if ten or twelve ships were sent to the western coast to act on the Earl of Argyll's country - a suggestion, no doubt, thrown in by Glencairn, Argyll's bitter enemy. A stratagem of the same kind had been successfully employed before by Glencairn's advice; and the Highland chiefs imprisoned in the castles of Edinburgh and Dunbar were liberated on condition that they should harry the lands of Argyll. The disaffected barons urged Henry to put these plans in execution before the arrival of the French army; but this advice was followed in such a loose and desultory manner, that it failed of the overwhelming effect which it must have had, if ably executed.

Henry, fuming with rage against the cardinal and the Scotch generally, exerted himself, as fast as an empty exchequer would allow, to muster the necessary army of invasion; and during the time which this occupied, he busied himself with concerting a plot of the most diabolical kind - the seizure or assassination of Beaton. Such dark transactions as this, which were only too frequent in the reigns of both Henry and Elizabeth, would not now be believed, if they did not stand in the abundant handwriting of the parties engaged in them in the State Paper Office. On the 17th of April, Crighton of Brunston, a spy of Sadler's, dispatched to the Earl of Hertford, then at Newcastle, an emissary of the name of Wishart, who made him aware of a plot for this purpose. Kirkaldy of Grange, the Master of Rothes - eldest son to the Earl of Rothes - and one John Charteris, were, he said, prepared to capture or kill the cardinal, if assured of the necessary support from England. Hertford immediately dispatched Wishart to London express, where the king, having in a private interview heard the particulars from Wishart, entered into the scheme most heartily, promising the conspirators every protection in his power if they were successful. The cardinal, however, at this time became aware of the base design, and took precautions for his safety; only, however, to defer for a time the execution of this atrocious deed by the same hands, urged o-n by this detestable monarch.

By the end of April, Henry was prepared to pour on Scotland the vial of his murderous wrath. A fleet of a hundred sail appeared, under the command of Lord Lisle, the High Admiral of England, suddenly in the Forth. The Scotch seem to have by no means been dreaming of such a visitant, and its appearance threw the capital into the greatest consternation. In four days, such was the absence of preparation, such the public paralysis, that Hertford was permitted to land his troops and his artillery without the sight of a single soldier. He had advanced from Granton to Leith when Arran and the cardinal threw themselves in his way with a miserable handful of followers, who were instantly dispersed and Leith given up to plunder.

The citizens of Edinburgh, finding themselves deserted by the governor, flew to arms, under the command of Otterburn of Roidhall, the provost of the city. Otter-burn proceeded to the English camp, and, obtaining an interview with Lord Hertford, complained of this unlooked-for invasion, and offered to accommodate all differences. But Hertford returned a haughty answer, that he was not come to negotiate, for which he had no power, but to lay waste town and country with fire and sword unless the young queen were delivered to him. The people of Edinburgh, on hearing this insolent message, vowed to perish to a man rather than condescend to such baseness. They set about to defend their walls and sustain the attack of the enemy; but they found that Otterburn, who had tampered secretly with the English before this, had stolen unobserved away. They appointed a new provost, and manned their walls so stoutly that they compelled Hertford to fetch up his battering ordnance from Leith. Seeing very soon that it was impossible to defend their gates from this heavy ordnance, they silently collected as much of their property as they could carry, and abandoned the town. Hertford took possession of it; and then sought to reduce the castle. But finding this useless, he set fire to the city; and, reinforced by 4,000 horse, under Lord Eure, he employed himself in laying waste the surrounding country with a savage ferocity, which no doubt had been commanded by the bitter malice of the English king.

On the 15th of May, Arran, having assembled a considerable force, and liberated Angus and his brother, Sir George Douglas, in the hope of winning them over by such clemency, marched rapidly towards Edinburgh. The English, however, did not wait for his arrival. Lord Lisle embarked a portion of the troops at Leith again, and Lord Hertford led away the remainder by land. Both by land and water the English commanders continued their buccaneering outrages, doing all the mischief and inflicting all the misery they could. Lord Lisle seized the two largest Scottish vessels in the harbour of Leith, and burnt the rest; he then sailed along the coast, plundering and destroying all the villages and country within reach. Lord Hertford, on his part, laid Seaton, Haddington, Eenton, and Dunbar in ashes, and returned into England, leaving behind him a trail of desolation. Such was the insane and ridiculous manner in which Henry VIII. wooed the little Queen of Scotland for his son.

Lord Hertford, who conducted himself solely as the punctual agent of the monarch, confessed to those around him that Henry had done too little for a conqueror, and far too much for a suitor. He expressly refused to allow any sparing of the estates of his Scottish confederates, and this impolitic phrenzy soon produced its natural fruits in the desertion and bitter hostility of many of them. Angus, Sir George Douglas, and their numerous and powerful adherents, whose demesnes lay near the borders, and who had so long laboured with a most renegade zeal and ability for his advantage, abandoned his cause in disgust, and went over to the cardinal. The only nobles left to Henry were Lennox and Glencairn - Lennox, a man weak, treacherous and vacillating; Glencairn, a host in himself, a man of great ability and extensive influence, but of no patriotism. So little did the cruel ravages of his country by Henry affect him, that we find him and Lennox, on the 17th of May, entering into a most extraordinary treaty with the English king at Carlisle. By this Henry promised Glencairn and his son, the Master of Kilmaurs, ample pensions, and to Lennox, the government of Scotland, and the hand of Lady Margaret Douglas, the daughter of Margaret, the sister of Henry. For this these traitor barons promised to acknowledge Henry as the Protector of Scotland - sad irony! - to exert themselves to the utmost of their power to deliver over to him the young queen, and the chief fortresses of the country, the town and castle of Dumbarton, the isle and castle of Bute.

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