« PreviousContinue »
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life, ' .'
Which her own clay shall cover, heap'd and pent, Rider and horse,-friend, foe, -in one red burial blent!
CHARLES BRANDON, AND MARY QUEEN OF
The fortune of Charles Brandon was remarkable. He was an honest man, yet the favourite of a despot. He was brave, handsome, accomplished, possessed even delicacy of sentiment ; yet he retained his favour to the last. He even had the perilous honour of being beloved by the despot's sister, without having the least claim to it by birth; and yet, instead of its destroying them both, he was allowed to be her husband.
Charles Brandon was the son of Sir William Brandon, whose skull was cleaved at Bosworth by Richard the Third, while bearing the standard of the Duke of Richmond. Richard dashed at the standard, and appears to have been thrown from his horse by Sir William, whose strength and courage however could not save him from the angry desperation of the king.
But Time, whose wheeles with various motion runne,
Sir John Beaumont's “ Bosworth Field.”.
The father's fate must doubtless have had its effect in securing the fortunes of the son. Young Brandorr, we believe, grew up with Henry the Seventh's children,
and was the playmate of his future king and bride. The prince, as he increased in years, seems to have carried the idea of Brandon with him like that of a second self; and the princess, whose affection was not hindered from becoming personal by any thing sisterly, nor on the other hand allowed to waste itself in too equal familiarity, may have felt a double impulse given to it by the great improbability of ber ever being suffered to become his wife. Royal females in most countries have certainly none of the advantages of their rank, whatever the males may have. Mary was destined to taste the usual bitterness of their lot, but she was amply repaid. At the conclusion of the war with France, she was married to the old king Louis the Twelfth, who witnessed from a couch the exploits of her future husband at the tournaments. The doings of Charles Brandon that time were long remembered. The love between him and the young queen was suspected by the French court; and he had just seen her enter Paris in the midst of a gorgeous procession, like Aurora come to marry Tithonus. He dealt his chivalry about him accordingly with such irresistible vigour, that the Dauphin, in a fit of jealousy, secretly introduced into the contest a huge German, who was thought to be of a strength incomparable. But Brandon grappled with him, and with seeming disdain and detection so pommelled him about the head with the hilt of his sword, that the blood burst through the vizor. Imagine the feelings of the queen, when he came and made her an offering of the German's shield. Drayton, in his Heroical Epistles, we know not on what authority, tells us that on one occasion during the combats, perhaps this particular one, she could not help saying out loud, “Hurt not 'my sweet Charles," or words to that effect. He then pleasantly represents her as doing away suspicion by falling to commendation of the Dauphin, and affecting not to know who the conquering knight was:-an ignorance not very probable; but the knights sometimes disguised themselves purposely.
The old king did not long survive his festivities. He died in less than three months, on the first day of the year 1515; and Brandon, who had been created duke of Suffolk the year before, re-appeared at the French court, with letters of condolence, and more persuasive looks. The royal widow was young, beautiful, and rich: and it was likely that her hand would be sought by many princely lovers; but she was now resolved to reward herself for her late sacrifice, and in less than two months she privately married her first love. The queen, says a homely but not mean poet (Warner, in his Albion's England), thought that to cast too many doubts
Were oft to erre no lesse
The gentel queen did guesse,
Or last, had likelyhood,
Were dastardly withstood.
To either's equal good.
Henry showed great anger at first, real or pretended; but he had not then been pampered into unbearable self-will by a long reign of tyranny. He soon forgave his sister and friend; and they were publicly wedded at Greenwich on the 13th of May.
It was during the festivities on this occasion, (at least we believe so, for we have not the chivalrous Lord Herbert's life of Henry VIII. by us, which is most probably the authority for the story; and being a good thing, it is omitted, as usual, by his historians), that Charles Brandon gave a proof of the fineness of his nature, equally just towards himself, and conciliating towards the jealous. He appeared at a tournament on a saddle-cloth, made half of frize and half of cloth of gold, and with a motto on each half. One of the mottos ran thus:
Cloth of frize, be not too bold,
The other :
Cloth of gold, do not despise,
Though thou art match'd with cloth of frize. It is this beautiful piece of sentiment which puts a heart into his history, and makes it worthy remembering
STORY OF TWO HIGHLANDERS.
THERE is perhaps no quality of the mind in which mankind differ more, than in a prompt readiness either to act or answer to the point, in the most imminent and sudden dangers and difficulties; of which the following is a most pleasant instance.
On the banks of the Albany River, which falls into Hudson's Bay, there is, amongst others, a small colony settled, which is mostly made up of emigrants from the Highlands of Scotland.—Though the soil of the valleys contiguous to the river is exceedingly rich and fertile, yet the winter being so long and severe, these people do not labour too incessantly in agriculture, but depend for the most part upon their skill in hunting and fishing for their subsistence; there being commonly abundance of both game and fish.
Two young kinsmen, both Macdonalds, went out one day into these boundless woods to hunt, each of them armed with a well-charged gun in his hand, and a skene-dhu, or Highland dirk, by his side. They shaped their course towards a small stream which descends from the mountains to the north-west of the river; on the banks of which they knew there were still a few wild swine remaining; and, of all other creatures, they wished most to meet with one of them ; little doubting but that they would overcome even a pair of them, if chance should direct them to their lurking places, though they were reported to be so remarkable both
for their strength and ferocity. They were not at all successful, having neglected the common game in searching for these animals; and a little before sunset they returned homeward, without having shot any thing save one wild turkey. But when they least expected it, to their infinite joy they discovered a deep pit or cayern, which contained a large litter of fine half-grown pigs, and none of the old ones with them. This was a prize indeed; so, without losing a moment, Donald said to the other, “Mack, you pe te littlest man, creep you in and durk te little sows, and I'll be keeping vatch at te door." Mack complied without hesitation-gave his gun to Donald-unsheathed his skene-dhu-and crept into the cave, head foremost ; but after he was all out of sight, save the brogues, he stopped short, and called back, “ But Lord, Tonald, be shoor to keep out te ould wons.” “ Ton't you pe fearing that, man,” said Donald.
The cave was deep, but there was abundance of room in the further end, where Mack, with his sharp skenedhu, now commenced the work of death. He was scarcely well begun, when Donald perceived a monstrous wild boar advancing upon him, roaring, and grinding his tusks, while the fire of rage gleamed from his eyes. Donald said not a word, for fear of alarming his friend; besides, the savage was so hard upon him ere he was aware, that he scarcely had time for any thing : so setting himself firm, and cocking his gun, he took his aim; but, that the shot might prove the more certain death, he suffered the boar to come within a few paces of him before he ventured to fire. He at last drew the fatal trigger, expecting to blow out his eyes, brains and all. Merciful Heaven! the gun missed fire, or flashed in the pan, I am not sure which. There was no time to lose. Donald dashed the piece in the animal's face, turned his back, and fled with precipitation. The boar pursued him only for a short space, for having heard the cries of his suffering young ones, as he passed the mouth of the den, he hasted back to their rescue. Most men would have given all up for