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been executed in Cornwall, for the more terror; but being advertised that the country was yet unquiet and boiling, he thought better not to irritate the people further. All the rest were pardoned by proclamation, and to take out their pardons under seal, as many as would. So that, more than the blood drawn in the field, the king did satisfy himself with the lives of only three offenders, for the expiation of this great rebellion.
LORD Bacon. The King of Scotland, though he would not formally retract his judgment of Perkin, wherein he had engaged himself so far; yet in his private opinion, upon, often speech with the Englishmen, and divers other advertisements, began to suspect him for a counterfeit. Wherefore in a noble fashion he called him unto him, and recounted the benefits and favours that he had done him in making him his ally, and in provoking a mighty and opulent king by an offensive war in his quarrel, for the space of two years together ; nay more, that he had refused an honourable peace, whereof he had a fair offer, if he would have delivered him; and that, to keep his promise with him, he had deeply offended both his nobles and people whom he might not hold in any long discontent; and therefore required him to think of his own fortunes, and to choose out some fitter place for his exile : telling him withal, that he could not say, but the English had forsaken him before the Scottish, for that, upon two several trials, none had declared themselves on his side ; but nevertheless he would make good what he said to him at his first receiving, which was that he should not repent him for putting himself into his hands; for that he would not cast him off, but help him with shipping and means to transport him where he should desire. Perkin, not descending at all from his stage-like greatness, answered the king in few words, that he saw his time was not yet come; but whatsoever his fortunes were, he should both think and speak, honour of the king. Taking his leave, he would not think on Flanders, doubting it was but hollow ground for him since the treaty of the archduke, concluded the year before ; but took his lady, and such followers as would not leave him, and sailed over into Ireland.
All this while the rebellion of Cornwall, whereof we have spoken, seemed to have no relation to Perkin ; save that perhaps Perkin's proclamation had stricken upon the right vein, in promising to lay down exactions and payments, and so had made them now and then have a kind thought on Perkin. But now these bubbles by much stirring began to meet, as they use to do upon the top of water. The king's lenity, by that time the Cornish rebels who were taken and pardoned, and, as it was said, many of them sold by them that had taken them, for twelve pence and two shillings a piece, were come down into their country, had rather emboldened them than reclaimed them; insomuch as they stuck not to say to their neighbours and countrymen, that the king did well to pardon them, for that he knew he should leave few subjects in England, if he hanged all that were of their mind; and began whetting and inciting one another to renew the commotion. Some of the subtilest of them, hearing of Perkin's being in Ireland, found means to send to him to let him know, that if he would come over to them they would serve him.
When Perkin heard this news, he began to take heart again, and advised upon it with his council, which were principally three ; Herne, a mercer that had fled for debt ; Skelton, a tailor ; and Astley, a scrivener ; for Secretary Frion was gone..
These told him, that he was mightily overseen, both when he went into Kent, and when he went into Scotland ; the one being a place so near London, and under the king's nose ; and the other a nation so distasted with the people of England, that if they had loved him never so well, yet they could never have taken his part in that company. But if he had been so happy as to have been in Cornwall at the first, when the people began to take arms there, he had been crowned at Westminster before this time. For, these kings, as he had now experience, would sell poor princes for shoes. But he must rely wholly upon people ; and therefore advised him to sail over with all possible speed into Cornwall ; which accordingly he did, having in his company four small barks, with some six score or seven score fighting men. He arrived in September at Whitsand-Bay, and forth with came to Bodmin, the blacksmith's town ; where there assembled unto him to the number of three thousand men of the rude people. There he set forth a new proclamation, stroking the people with fair promises, and humouring them with invectives against the king and his government. And as it fareth with smoke, that never loseth itself till it be at the highest ; he did now before his end raise his style, entitling himself no more Richard, Duke of York, but Richard the Fourth, King of England. His council advised him by all means to make himself master of some good walled town ; as well to make his men find the sweetness of rich spoils, and to allure to him all loose and lost people, by like hopes of booty; as to be a sure retreat to his forces, in case they should have any ill day, or unlucky chance in the field. Wherefore they took heart to them, and went on, and besieged the city of Exeter, the principal town for strength and wealth in those parts. .
Perkin, hearing this thunder of arms, and preparations against him from so many parts, raised his siege, and marched to Taunton ; beginning already to squint one eye upon the crown and another upon the sanctuary; though the Cornish men were become, like metal often fired and quenched, churlish, and that would sooner break than bow; swearing and vowing not to leave him, till the uttermost drop of their blood were spilt. He was at his rising from Exeter between six and seven thousand strong, many having come unto him after he was set before Exeter, upon fame of so great an enterprise, and to partake of the spoil ; though upon the raising of his siege some did slip away. When he was come near Taunton, he dissembled all fear, and seemed all the day to use diligence in preparing all things ready to fight. But about midnight he fled with three score horse to Bewdley in the New Forest, where he and divers of his company registered themselves sanctuarymen, leaving his Cornish men to the four winds; but yet thereby easing them of their vow, and using his wonted compassion, not to be by when his subjects' blood should be spilt. The king, as soon as he heard of Perkin's flight, sent presently five hundred horse to pursue and apprehend him, before he should get either to the sea, or to that same little island called a sanctuary. But they came too late for the latter of these. Therefore all they could do, was to beset the sanctuary, and to maintain a strong watch about it, till the king's pleasure were further known. As for the rest of the rebels, they, being destituted of their head, without stroke stricken, submitted themselves unto the king's mercy. And the king, who commonly drew blood, as physicians do, rather to save life than to spill it, and was never cruel when he was secure ; now he saw the danger was past, pardoned them all in the end, except some few desperate persons, which he reserved to be executed, the better to set off his mercy towards the rest. There were also sent with all speed some horse to St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, where the lady Catharine Gordon was left by her husband, whom in all fortunes she entirely loved ; adding the virtues of a wife to the virtues of her sex. The king sent in the greater diligence, not knowing whether she might be with child, whereby
the business would not have ended in Perkin's person. When she was brought to the king, it was commonly said, that the king received her not only with compassion, but with affection ; pity giving more impression to her excellent beauty. Wherefore comforting her, to serve as well his eye as his fame, he sent her to his queen to remain with her; giving her very honourable allowance for the support of her estate, which she enjoyed both during the king's life and many years after. The name of the white rose, which had been given to her husband's false title, was continued in common speech to her true beauty...
The king did also, while he was at Exeter, appoint the lord Darcy, and others, commissioners, for the fining of all such as were of any value, or had any hand or partaking in the aid or comfort of Perkin, or the Cornish men, either in the field or in the flight.
These commissioners proceeded with such strictness and severity, as did much obscure the king's mercy in sparing of blood, with the bleeding of so mnch treasure. Perkin was brought unto the king's court, but not to the king's presence ; though the king, to satisfy his curiosity, saw him sometimes out of a window, or in passage. He was in shew at liberty, but guarded with all care and watch that was possible, and willed to follow the king to London. But from his first appearance upon the stage, in his new person of a sycophant, or juggler, instead of his former person of a prince, all men may think how he was exposed to the derision not only of the courtiers, but also of the common people, who flocked about him as he went along: that one might know afar off where the owl was by the flight of birds ; some mocking, some wondering, some cursing, some prying and picking matter out of his countenance and gesture to talk of: so that the false honour and respects, which he had so long enjoyed, was plentifully repaid in scorn and contempt. As soon as he was comə to London, the king gave also the city the solace of this Maygame ; for be was conveyed leisurely on horseback, but not in any iguominious fashion, through Cheapside and Cornhill, to the Tower, and from thence back again unto Westminster, with the churm of a thousand taunts and reproaches. But to amend the show, there followed a little distance of Perkin, an inward counsellor of his, one that had been serjeant farrier to the king. This fellow, when Perkin took sanctuary, chose rather to take an holy habit than an holy place, and clad himself like an hermit, and in that weed wandered about the country, till he was discovered and taken. But this man was bound hand and foot upon the horse, and came not back with Perkin, but was left at the Tower, and within few days after executed. Soon after, now that Perkin could tell better what himself was, he was diligently examined ; and after his confession taken, an extract was made of such parts of them as were thought fit to be divulged, which was printed and dispersed abroad; wherein the king did himself no right ; for as there was a laboured tale of particulars, of Perkin's father and mother, and grandsire and grandmother, and uncles and cousins, by names and sirnames, and from what places he travelled up and down; so there was little or nothing to purpose of anything concerning his designs, or any practices that had been held with him ; nor the duchess of Burgundy herself, that all the world did take knowledge of, as the person that had put life and being into the whole business, so much as named or pointed at. So that men missing of that they looked for, looked about for they knew not what, and were in more doubt than hefore; but the king chose rather not to satisfy, than to kindle coals.
It was not long but Perkin, who was made of quicksilver, which is hard to hold or imprison, began to stir. For deceiving his keepers, he took him to his heels, and made speed to the sea-coasts. But presently all corners were laid for him, and such diligent pursuit and search made, as he was fain to turn back, and get him to
the house of Bethlehem, called the priory of Sheen (which had the privilege of Sanctuary), and put himself into the hands of the prior of that monastery. The prior was thought an holy man, and much reverenced in those days. He came to the king, and besought the king for Perkin's life only, leaving him otherwise to the king's discretion. Many about the king were again more hot than ever, to have the king take him forth and hang him. But the king, that had an high stomach, and could not hate any that he despised, bid, “Take him forth, and set the knave in the stock ;" and so promising the prior his life, he caused him to be brought forth. And within two or three days after, upon a scaffold set up in the palace court at Westrainster, he was fettered and set in the stocks for the whole day. And the next day after, the like was done by him at the cross in Cheapside, and in both places he read his confession, of which we made mention before; and was from Cheapside conveyed and laid up in the Tower...
But it was ordained, that this winding-ivy of a Plantagenet should kill the true tree itself. For Perkin, after he had been awhile in the Tower, began to insinuate himself into the favour and kindness of his keepers, servants to the lieutenant of the Tower, Sir John Digby, being four in number ; Strangeways, Blewet, Astwood, and Long Roger. These varlets, with mountains of promises, he sought to corrupt, to obtain his escape ; but knowing well, that his own fortunes were made so contemptible, as he could feed no man's hopes, and by hopes he must work, for rewards he had none, he had contrived with himself a vast and tragical plot ; which was, to draw into his company Edward Plantagenet, earl of Warwick, then prisoner in the Tower ; whom the weary life of a long imprisonment, and the often and renewing fears of being put to death, had softened to take any impression of counsel for his liberty. This young prince he thought these servants would look upon, though not upon himself ; and therefore, after that by some message by one or two of them, he had tasted of the earl's consent; it was agreed that these four should murder their master, the lieutenant, secretly, in the night, and make their best of such money and portable goods of his, as they should find ready at hand, and get the keys of the Tower, and presently let forth Perkin and the earl. But this conspiracy was revealed in time, before it could be executed. And in this again the opinion of the king's great wisdom did surcharge him with a sinister fame, that Perkin was but his bait, to entrap the earl of Warwick. And in the very instant while this conspiracy was in working, as if that also had been the king's industry, it was fatal, that there should break forth a counterfeit earl of Warwick, a cordwainer's son, whose name was Ralph Wilford ; a young man taught and set on by an Augustin friar, called Patrick. They both from the parts of Suffolk came forwards into Kent, where they did not only privily and underhand give out that this Wilford was the true earl of Warwick, but also the friar, finding some light credence in the people, took the boldness in the pulpit to declare as much, and to incite the people to come in to his aid. Whereupon they were both presently apprehended, and the young fellow executed, and the friar condemned to perpetual imprisonment. This also happening so opportunely, to represent the danger to the king's estate from the earl of Warwick, and thereby to colour the king's severity that followed ; together with the madness of the friar so vainly and desperately to divulge a treason, before it had gotten any manner of strength : and the saving of the friar's life, which nevertheless was, indeed, but the privileges of his order; and the pity in the common people, which if it run in a strong stream, doth ever cast up scandal and envy, made it generally rather talked than believed that all was but the king's device. But howsoever it were, hereupon Perkin, that had offended against grace now the third time, was at the last proceeded with, and by commissioners of oyer and determiner, arraigned at Westminster, upon divers
treasons committed and perpetrated after his coming on land, within this kingdom, for so the judges advised, for that he was a foreigner, and condemned, and a few days after executed at Tyburn; where he did again openly read his confession, and take it upon his death to be true. This was the end of this little cockatrice of a king, that was able to destroy those that did not espy him first. It was one of the longest plays of that kind that hath been in memory, and might perhaps have had another end, if he had not met with a king both wise, stout, and fortunate.
148.-THE TRAGEDY OF PERKIN WARBECK.
Rev. JAMES WHITE. [The story of Perkin Warbeck will always be interesting to the readers of English history from the mystery that hangs over the nature of his claims. Lord Bacon takes an unfavourable view of his pretensions, as may be expected from his character and the period in which he wrote. It would not have been safe in the reign of a Tudor to have maintained the legitimacy of the son of Edward the Fourth. Yet even through the hostile account of the courtiers of the powers that were, it is easy to perceive that the Pretender possessed great and estimable qualities. His expostulation with the Scottish James against the unnecessary severity of his treatment of the English peasantry, shows either his wise policy or his good heart. His being acknowledged by the Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward, his marriage with a lady of the blood royal of Scotland, his reception by many of the adherents of Henry, and his acquaintance with the personages and circumstances of the English court, are difficult to understand on the theory of his being a low and cunningly tutored impostor.
By some, his noble appearance and resemblance to the handsome Edward are accounted for by supposing him to have been a natural son of that dissolute king; but others, and especially Mr. Bailey in his interesting history of the Tower, have advanced very strong arguments in favour of his legitimacy, and the truth of the story of his escape. Mr. Bailey sees no convincing proof of the murder of the two princes from the discovery of the children's bones under a staircase in the Tower, and finds reasons for justifying or excusing the recantation of his claims, which Perkin Warbeck publicly made a short time before his execution. That Henry the Seventh cleared the way for the ill-omened marriage of his son Arthur with Catherine of Castille by the deaths of Edward Earl of Warwick and Perkin Warbeck is well known ; and perhaps a confession wrung from a person at the point of death, deluded to the last with hopes of pardon, deserted by his supporters, and probably worked upon by the priests in alliance with the throne, is not much to be relied on as a proof of his imposture. It is even possible to suppose, that for a time he may have been persuaded of the falsehood of his claims, and brought to distrust the recollections of his childhood, which the lapse of so many years and such varied adventures must have rendered obscure and confused.]
Enter Henry, Urswick, Attendants, Guards.
Your grace forgets