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affection necessary to secure her fidelity. Thus unfortunately situated, the king saw, admired, and seduced her. Shore, disdaining to share a wife even with a monarch, resigned all pretensions to her person ; and the lady immediately became the admiration of the day-the infatuated mistress, not the virtuous wife.
“ Proper she was, and fair,” says Sir Thomas More; “ nothing in her body that you could have changed, but if you would have wished her somewhat higher. This say they that knew her in her youth. Some said and judged that she had been well favoured, and some judged the contrary ; whose judgement seemeth like as men guess the beauty of one long before departed, by a shape taken out of a charnel-house; and this judgement was in the time of king Henry VIII. (in the eighteenth year of whose reign she died) when she had nothing but a rivelled skin and bone.”
The extreme suavity of manners, the benevolence, the wit, and generosity of the unhappy Jane, rendered her an object of commiseration to the congregation at St. Paul's, when she was condemned to do penance for her sins, by order of the bishop of London, at the command of the duke of Gloucester, who pursued her, as the mistress of Hastings, with unrelenting and unmanly hatred.
“ He caused her,” says Sir Thomas, “ to go before a cross, one Sunday, at pro
cession, with a taper in her hand. In the which she went in countenance and pace demure so womanly; and albeit she was out of all array, saving her kirtle only, yet went she so fair and lovely, namely, when the wondering of the people cast a comely red in her cheeks (of the which before she had most miss), that her great shame won her much praise amongst those that were more amorous of her body than curious of her soul; and many good folk that hated her living, and were glad to see sin corrected, yet pitied they more her penance than rejoiced at it; when they considered, that the Protector did it more of a corrupt intent than any virtuous affection."
From these anecdotes of Jane Shore, and her penance, it will be perceived, that one custom, not very honourable to those who exercised it, was in full vigour--that of keeping mistresses. The king thought himself entitled perhaps to greater indulgence, in this particular, than his subjects: he therefore had three.
Edward was in the habit of saying he possessed three concubines, who had each their peculiar qualities. Shore was the merriest ; another the wisest; and the third the most pious harlot in the realm, who could not be prevailed upon to leave the church for any enticement beyond the king's wishes. The ladies he alluded to, being of
more importance in life than Shore, were therefore nameless.
If we admit as founded in fact all that has been said of Richard III. as a base and artful usurper, tyrant, and murderer, we must blush at being of his species. It seems extremely probable that he possessed strong natural abilities, which, had they been governed by a liberal and manly spirit, might have rendered him an honour to the nobility. Under those circumstances, he would not have aspired to the throne. The very knowledge that he did possess it, fixes his character for infamy, beyond any historic doubts.
The custom of taking Sanctuary was confined within bounds in London; as the abbey of St. Peter's, Westminster, and St. Martin's-le-grand, were the only places allowed that privilege, which seems to have been coeval with the foundation of the former. Amongst the virtuous who fled there for refuge, was the widow of Edward IV. with her son, the duke of York. This step greatly embarrassed the duke of Gloucester and his friends ; who were at a loss how to capture them, without violating the rights of the church — a measure then too dangerous even for a vindictive, artful, and cruel usurper. In relating the particulars of this event, Sir Thomas More, in his life of Edward the Fifth, gives several circumstances which occurred in the council explanatory of the Sanctuary.
The archbishop of Canterbury mentioned the antiquity of the custom ; and the fact that not one king, who had borne the sceptre of England, had ever attempted to interfere with it: so well convinced they were of its importance in preserving the lives of the innocent. He therefore recommended persuasives only to accomplish their wishes.
The duke of Buckingham insinuated, that the Sanctuary would be considered as a very trifling obstacle by the people, were they disposed to demand the queen ; which he hypocritically deprecated, though he could not help thinking good men might less value its privileges, without committing a serious offence against religion ; not that he would, by any means, interfere with so venerable an institution: yet he would, without scruple, oppose a similar were it now first introduced. He admitted it was a deed of piety, that men deprived of their property by shipwreck, and other means, should have a place of refuge from the malice of their creditors. Besides, he acknowledged there were advantages attending it, when civil contentions forced the partizans of either side to take asylum from the terrors of the axe. But, instead of this commendable use of the Sanctuary, it was known to abound with thieves and murderers. “ Now, look," said the duke, “ how few Sanctuary-men there be whom necessity or misfortune compelled to go thither :
and then see, on the other side, what a sort there be commonly therein, of such whom wilful unthriftiness hath brought to nought; what a rabble of thieves, murderers, and malicious heinous traitors be, and that in two places especially, the one at the elbow of the city, and the other in the very bowels. I dare well avow it, if you weigh the good that they do with the hurt that cometh of them, ye shall find it much better to lose both than to have both.
“ And this I say, although they were not abused as they now be, and so long have been, that I fear me ever they will be, while men be afraid to set their hands to the amendment; as though God and St. Peter were the patrons of ungracious living
“ Now, unthrifts riot and run in debt upon boldness of these places ; yea, and rich men run thither with poor men's goods; where they build, there they spend, and bid their creditors go
whistle. Men's wives run thither with their husbands' plate, and say they dare not abide with their husbands for beating. Thieves bring thither stolen goods, and live thereon: there devise they new robberies nightly; and steal out, and rob, rive, and kill men; and come again into those places, as though those places gave them not only a safeguard for the harm that they have done, but a licence also to do more mischief.”