Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 3, 1519-1523. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1867.
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Preface, Section 6
While these difficulties and dangers sprung up Hydralike in the court, the camp, in Paris and the provinces, the allied sovereigns had been actively and successfully employed in surrounding the perplexed monarch with a network of hostilities. The aid of the Swiss had been effectually neutralized; Venice, formerly the faithful ally and humble dependant of France, had been induced by Pace to abandon its former faith, and join the league against the Christian king.
To detach the Venetians from France was a measure of prime necessity; not so much for their mercantile importance as for the influence of their example on the rest of Italy. They had always been the warmest and most constant allies of France. They had frequently been solicited and threatened by the late and the present Emperor, but without effect. The imperial ambassadors at Venice had spent weeks in alternately menacing them with the Emperor's displeasure, or alluring them by the promise of his gratitude. In vain. The Seignory remained unmoved; it despised the one, it distrusted the other. As usual, the imperial envoys haggled for money. They desired a loan—"a recognition," as Pace calls it—"of 500,000 ducats to be made to the Emperor." The Venetians offered 200,000 ducats, to be paid in ten years. The smallness of the sum was bad enough, the delay worse. At last they consented to abandon France, and join the confederacy against her; but not until they had extorted a promise from Pace that he would obtain a commission from the king of England to act as conservator of the peace and mediator in any difficulties that might happen to arise. They desired the English ambassador to signify to his master, that nothing had induced them to this agreement with the Emperor so much as their wish to preserve the amity of England. Let the compliment count for what it is worth; it is evident that Pace was the main instrument of the league, and without him it would never have been concluded. (fn. 1)
The decision of the Seignory had been probably quickened by a measure deemed justifiable in those days. By the usages of war, the limits of which were not then very strictly defined, an embargo was laid on the Venetian galleys trading to England on the security of mutual amity. They were detained under various pretences as if they had belonged to a hostile power. In vain Suriano, the Venetian ambassador, urged upon Wolsey the propriety of releasing them. The Venetian galleys (he wrote) detained day by day at Southampton are ir- reparably injured. The crews have deserted the ships; some are perishing with hunger, others are compelled to beg their bread; most of the sailors are returning in the ships of the Genoese merchants, and there will not be men enough to man the galleys. The masters, he said, had spent all their money during their long detention, and their goods were spoiled by worms and moths. (fn. 2) His remonstrances were unavailing. If the Venetians were not friends and allies with England, they must be considered and treated as its enemies. They must then make up their minds to redeem their losses by sacrificing their friendship with France, or redouble them if they adhered to their ancient alliance. The Seignory preferred the former alternative; and its defection for a time struck a death-blow to French supremacy in Italy. "We shall soon leave the French king without a friend," wrote Pace to Wolsey in the moment of triumph; "the Gallic eagle before long will not have a single feather to fly with." (fn. 3) The embargo was taken off before the treaty was concluded, but not before the favorable resolution of the Seignory had been known. The final adjustment of the terms between the Emperor and the Venetians was delayed by the death of the Doge, and other causes, until the 29th of July. But long before that date Francis saw his sun sinking rapidly in the peninsula. In a letter to Pace Wolsey informs him that the King had discharged the Venetian galleys, and allowed them to depart;—a favor, he thinks, which ought to be "thankfully accepted and substantially regarded!" But with this agreeable intelligence he coupled the announcement, that after the enlarging of the said galleys, as the King was fitting out a fleet at Portsmouth, which lacked certain pieces of artillery, "I of myself, without any consent of their ambassadors here resident, or [of] the patrons of the galleys, willing for the love that I bore them to show a confirmation of their good minds towards the King's grace, took upon me to borrow out of the said galleys six great pieces of artillery; that is to say, of every galley two pieces, trusting that the said Duke and Senate will be contented!" (fn. 4) Such are the liberties and the duties of friendship.
In the face of so formidable a combination a king of less spirit or more prudence than Francis would have succumbed, and made terms with his enemies. And to terms of accommodation Charles was at all events ready to listen. He had no desire for the conquest of France, least of all to share it with his powerful ally, and his more powerful minister, who was too cautious to be deceived, too cold to be blinded, by the Emperor's protestations. (fn. 5) In the hours of their most intimate alliance the Cardinal never scrupled to treat as chimerical the ample professions of the Emperor, the prodigious armies he was raising, the sums he engaged himself to pay. His ambassadors fretted, bristled up and chafed at these repeated indignities, and never scrupled to repeat them with interest to the Emperor. (fn. 6) But their anger and their explanations were alike unheeded. Wolsey was convinced that the Emperor either would not, or more probably could not, help either himself or his friends. The despatches of Sampson and Jerningham from the Emperor's court left no room for doubt on that subject. (fn. 7)
But Francis would neither abandon his enterprise, nor bate an inch of his pretensions. Though he must have known that he was not popular, and had not deserved popularity,—though his extravagance, his reckless ambition, his disastrous government, joined to the avarice of Louise of Savoy, had alienated from him the affection of his kingdom,—he determined, in this most trying moment of his fortunes, to throw himself on the patriotism of his subjects. The magnitude of the danger was, in fact, his best security. The time was not so distant but that the memory of what France had suffered through the disaffection of its great feudal nobles, and their alliance with England, was comparatively recent;—recent, and still bitter. Communal France and feudal France still flowed on like two parallel streams, side by side, but their waters scarcely intermingled. A war with England, a dread of dismemberment, the imperilment of their own independence in the captivity of their King;—these were powerful incentives to union, irresistible arguments for consolidation, a genesis of internal strength and vigor. They carried France in comparative safety, not only through all the imprudence and excesses of such a reign as that of Francis I., but through the mad follies of Charles IX. and the devastating wars of the Huguenots. Out of the winepress of the 17th century Germany emerged weak, trembling and disorganized; England, dismembered of its national head and national church; France, as the dictator of the Old World, and, but for the senseless ambition of its rulers, little less than absolute monarch of the New.
On the 24th of August (fn. 8) the duke of Suffolk crossed over to Calais at the head of the largest army which, as Wolsey informed Sampson and Jerningham, had been despatched from these shores for a hundred years. (fn. 9) He was joined in the first week of September (fn. 10) by 3,000 horse of the Low Countries, 4,000 lanceknights, wagons and limoners for transporting the troops, commanded by count de Buren. To assist in the invasion, 10,000 Almains, under Felix count Furstemberg, marched in the direction of Bresse, on the eastern frontier; whilst the Emperor, as usual behindhand, had arranged to occupy Guienne. (fn. 11) As usual also, the requisite number of horses and limoners to be provided by Margaret of Savoy were not forthcoming at the critical moment. (fn. 12) Indifferent to the war, or more probably unwilling to bear any part in the burthens of it, the Flemish subjects of Charles excused themselves from furnishing the necessary contingents. Disaffected and ill paid, the Germans under count Furstemberg clamored for wages; were ready to leave their ranks and return. It had been stipulated at the outset that the Emperor should advance them their first month's pay; but it was evident that he was in no condition to fulfil his engagement. Remonstrances were useless; it was incumbent on Henry to find the money or abandon the enterprise, after he had proceeded so far and incurred so much trouble and expense. He preferred the former, and transmitted the pay for 10,000 lanceknights. Again he experienced the bad faith of his confederate. After the money had been advanced, it was found that the whole available force under count Felix, instead of numbering 10,000, did not exceed 6,000. Many had deserted already, others were preparing to follow their example. (fn. 13) The delay, the subterfuges, the transparent apologies of lady Margaret and the Emperor's ambassadors, proved a sore trial to Wolsey's temper.
"His Grace," writes More to Wolsey, "commanded me to write unto your Grace, on his behalf, that it might like you to take the pain to devise a good round letter unto my lady Margaret, in your own name, to stir them forward in the provision of such things; as their slackness hitherto much hath hindered the common affairs. His Highness saith that such dealing so often used, and never otherwise, may well give him cause hereafter better to be advised ere he enter into a charge again for their defence, if this be not amended; and so he required your Grace to write unto her." (fn. 14)
All this time Francis was shut up in Lyons with about 25,000 foot and 2,000 men-at-arms. (fn. 15) The rest of his available forces had been despatched either into Scotland to the aid of the duke of Albany, or into Italy to recover the Milanese. With the exception of Boulogne, Therouenne, Dourlens and other places on the frontiers, which were strongly fortified, the towns in the interior were wholly unprepared for a siege. They had neither ramparts nor garrisons. An open road to Paris offered no obstacle to the enemy's progress. To amuse his foes,—to delay, if possible, the time (for the season was advancing), and retard their march,—Francis sent La Tremouille into Picardy. But this able and active general found the whole country utterly defenceless. To the well appointed and disciplined troops of Suffolk and De Buren he had nothing to oppose except raw and hasty levies raised from the untrained peasantry in the pressure of the hour. (fn. 16)
The English and imperial commanders differed as to the plan of operations. Jealous of the designs of Charles, convinced that he would employ the confederate troops for his own purposes, without regarding the general interests of the allies, Henry had resolved on besieging Boulogne. "As touching the consultation of the siege to be laid to Boulogne or abandoned," writes More to Wolsey, "his Highness hath commanded me to write unto your Grace, that, notwithstanding the reasons of the lord Isilstein (Buren) with the mind of my lady Margaret and the Emperor too, his Grace is, for the prudent reasons mentioned in your Grace's letter, determinately resolved to have the said siege experimented; whereof, as your Grace writeth, what may hap to fall, who but God can tell? And all the preparations purveyed for that way, to be now suddenly set aside, or converted where they cannot serve, sending his army far off into the enemy's land, where we should trust to their provision, of whose slackness and hard handling proof hath been had ere this, and yet no proof had of the Duke's (Bourbon's) fastness, his Highness verily thinketh, as your Grace hath most prudently written, that there were no wisdom therein. And his Grace saith, that your Grace hit the nail on the head, where ye write that the Burgundians would be upon their own frontiers, to the end our money should be spent among them, and their frontiers defended, and themselves resort to their own houses." (fn. 17)
The Imperialists objected that Boulogne was impregnable. (fn. 18) If their opinion were well founded, the truth coincided with their interests. It was the policy of Charles to conduct the war at the expense of his ally. If his troops were employed in besieging Boulogne, he must keep other garrisons in pay to protect his Flemish subjects on the French frontier. Seconding ostensibly the designs of England upon France, he was contriving to throw upon the English king the protection of his Flemish dominions. Disengaged from the necessity of their defence, he could concentrate all his strength on the South, secure Navarre, retake Pampeluna, and extend his dominions beyond the Pyrenees. So, careful of his own interests, he fluttered between Burgos and Corunna, perplexing his English allies by his apparent irresolution, and callous to their reproaches.
For reasons not clearly ascertained,—probably at the suggestion of Bourbon, from whom Sir John Russell had now returned,—certainly from no undue partiality to the Emperor's interests, as M. Michelet erroneously surmises,—Wolsey was induced to abandon the idea of laying siege to Boulogne. His letter to the King announcing and apologising for that change has not been preserved; (fn. 19) but the tenor of it may be gathered from a letter written by More to Wolsey at the King's command. It is equally honorable to the great minister and his royal master, and will help to dissipate the misconceptions industriously circulated and lately revived to the prejudice of both. For that reason I give the more important portions of it at length: (fn. 20) —
"It may like your good Grace to be advertised that the King's highness, by the hands of his servant, Sir John Russell, of whose well-achieved errand [to Bourbon] his Grace taketh great pleasure, hath received your most prudent letter, containing your wise and substantial counsel and advice concerning the siege of Boulogne to be left off at the present time, and his army with proclamations of liberty and forbearing to burn, to proceed and march forward unto the places devised by the duke of Bourbon; which places, as your Grace upon credible report from all parties is informed, shall easily be taken without any resistance; wherein your Grace perceiveth great appearance of winning some great part of France, or at leastwise all that is on this side the water of Somme, which should be as honorable and beneficial unto his Grace and also more tenable than all Normandy, Gascoigne and Guienne; requiring his Highness, therefore, that your Grace might with all possible diligence be advertised of his mind and pleasure in the premises, to the end that ye might advertise my lord of Suffolk of the same; and that it would like his Grace to take in good part your foresaid advice and opinion, without arrecting (attributing) any lightness to your Grace, though the same were of another sort now than was contained in your late letters addressed unto me; forasmuch as this declaration of the duke of Bourbon, and his counsel thereupon given, with the good semblance, and grounds and considerations thereof, causeth your Grace to change your opinion.
"The King has commanded me to write unto your Grace first concerning this point, that his Highness not only doth not arrect the change of your Grace's opinion to any lightness, but also right well considereth that it proceedeth of a very constant and unchangeable purpose, to the furtherance and advancement of his affairs. And as his Highness esteemeth nothing in counsel more perilous than [for] one to persever in the maintenance of his advice because he hath once given it, so thinketh he that councillor very commendable which, though there were no change in the matter, yet forbeareth not to declare the change of his own opinion, if he either perceive, or think that he perceiveth, the contrary of his former counsel more profitable. Wherefore, in the change of your Grace's opinion in this matter his Highness not only seeth no manner likelihood of lightness, but also perceiveth, commendeth and most affectuously thanketh your faithful diligence and high wisdom, so deeply pondering and so substantially advertising his Highness of such considerations as (the matter so greatly changed) move your Grace to change your opinion, and to give your prudent advice to the changing of the manner and fashion of his affairs."
For sentiments so noble and so generous, the ministers and subjects of Henry VIII. might readily forgive the occasional outbursts of a capricious and imperious temper. In the exhibition of these better qualities, though afterwards blunted by age and indulgence, yet never wholly extinguished, we divine the true secret of that fascination which, in spite of all his faults,—and they were neither few nor trivial,—Henry VIII. exercised over those who surrounded him. To no Sovereign did ministers ever dedicate themselves, head and heart, body and soul, with more intense devotion. It mattered not whether they were reformers or anti-reformers, Catholics or Protestants; attached, like More, to ancient traditions, or, like Cromwell, identifying the prosperity of the nation and the cause of religion with the unlimited prerogatives of the crown. No fatigue, no pains, no sacrifices, were too great. There was a heroism in serving a King who, though no hero himself, understood—none better—the true temper of manhood. If he was an exacting, he was also an intelligent, master; if he expected much, he had discernment enough to appreciate services. In his general impartiality, in the coolness and strength of his judgment, except where his passions were concerned, whenever his ministers tendered advice, they were sure of receiving that most grateful of all recognitions to those who volunteer advice,—a full, patient and unbiassed attention. Consequently his praise was coveted as famishing men crave for bread, or drowning men for deliverances, and his censure was dreaded as no King's censure ever was. Men may dislike the reproofs, but no man values the praise, of a weak or a dissolute monarch. No man sacrifices his energies, his brains and his purposes to a blind and undiscriminating idol. Had Henry been the wilful, capricious and self-indulgent monarch he is sometimes represented, the intense personal devotion of such men as Wolsey, Cromwell, More, Gardiner, Fitzwilliam, so unlike each other in all respects, this one excepted, would have been the most unintel- ligible paradox in history. Weakness is incapable of devotion; folly does not understand the meaning of sacrifice.
Fully acquitting the Cardinal of inconsistency, in the letter already referred to, the King examines the grounds on which Wolsey had changed his opinions in a minute and masterly way. He states in clear and forcible language his reasons for adhering to his former convictions. I have not room to insert them here. This difference, however, may be observed in the King's judgment and Wolsey's, Bourbon's, and De Buren's. They trusted for the success of their plan on that most uncertain and fallacious of all calculations to which military men can surrender their judgment—the blunders and inefficiency of their enemy. The King proceeded on the sounder hypothesis that the French king would not unlikely do "as his Highness would himself, if he were in (as our Lord keep him out of) the like case;" that is, he would attack and defeat his enemies in detail before they could consolidate their powers. The one Horatius, fresh and on his own field, is more than a match for the three isolated Curiatii. Strange is it that this indisputable military axiom, the sum and generalization of military experience, should have sprung up as it were, and stood palpably bodied forth to the mind of the Roman even before his experience began. The result, at which others arrive by a long and costly process, flashed as an intuition on the clear mirror of his practical mind. And now, after 3,000 years, true and fresh as ever, it is never to be transgressed without its Nemesis!
But the King's judgment, justified by the taking of Boulogne at a later period of his reign, was not allowed on this occasion to have its way. The combined forces of the English and Imperialists, numbering rather more than 20,000, advanced from Calais, and, without experiencing any opposition, devastated the country as far as Montdidier. Montdidier was surrendered on the 27th of October. After occupying Roye and Nesle, the troops returned once more to the sea coast in the beginning of November, having accomplished nothing of substantial importance commensurate with the labor and expense of the campaign. From accident or design neither Bourbon nor the Emperor co-operated with the Duke, who returned to Calais, much to the disgust of his royal master; justifying the conviction that, whatever might be Suffolk's personal bravery, he possessed none of the qualities required in a great general. (fn. 21)
Paris, meantime, was in the greatest alarm, expecting daily the approach of the enemy. A post had been despatched to Francis, still at Lyons, to advertise him of the danger of his capital. On the 31st of October Chabot de Brion entered the city, followed the next day by the duke of Vendôme. They had been sent by Francis to concert measures with its inhabitants for its safety. The speech delivered by Brion to the parliament, assembled on this occasion, was exactly calculated to inspire them with the resolution of defending themselves to the last extremity. In vehement and vivid language he denounced the treason of Bourbon. The Constable, he said, was a traitor not less to his country than his King. He had combined with their national enemies to bring France into subjection, and only waited for the time when the King had crossed the mountains, to divide its native land among strangers. It had already been arranged, he told them, that England should have l'Ile de France, Picardy, Normandy, and Guienne; and the king of England be crowned at St. Denis; Burgundy, Champagne, Dauphiné, Languedoc and Provence were to be allotted to the Emperor; whilst the duke of Bourbon, with a pension of 50,000 crowns, and the addition to his patrimonial estates of Poitou, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and the neighboring counties, should be recognized as regent by Charles and Henry, and hold his office at their discretion. Then, turning his hearer's thoughts in another direction, he insisted on the deep and undying affection which their King had always entertained for his capital. "Sooner than lose Paris," he exclaimed, "our liege lord would sacrifice his life, and all that is dear to him. He is ready to defend you. He is determined to live and die with you. As he cannot be amongst you himself, he has resolved to send his wife, his children, his mother, all that he has, as pledges of his presence; for he is convinced that if he should lose all, and save Paris,—Paris safe,—all will be saved." (fn. 22)
It is needless to say that this speech was received with acclamation. The citizens exerted themselves to the utmost; they imposed a tax upon themselves to provide soldiers for defence; repaired the ramparts; cleared the ditches. But Suffolk in the mean time had returned to Calais.
Whilst the thoughts of Henry and his minister were thus engrossed by the war, an event of the utmost importance had occurred nearer home:—this was the invasion of England by the Scots, under the duke of Albany. The treaty of marriage concluded between France and England in the latter end of 1518 had left Scotland at the mercy of its ancient and more powerful rival. No alternative remained except to comply with the comprehension provided for it by France in the negociations with England. (fn. 23) But so long as Dacre remained warden of the Marches, such comprehension was little more than nominal. It did not prevent him from intriguing with the Scottish lords; it did not diminish those incursions on the borders, for which his own tenantry and his neighbors needed no additional incitement beyond the spur of traditional feuds and the inextinguishable desire of plunder. No man knew better than Dacre how to avail himself of the hot blood and evil passions fostered by these aggressions; none was more skilful than he in fomenting quarrels among the evil-disposed or discontented of the Scottish nobility,—"the fiddling stick," in his own expressive language, "to hold Scotland in cumber and business." (fn. 24)
Into the treaty between Henry VIII. and Francis I. a secret clause had been introduced, unknown to all parties except the principal contrahents, stipulating that Albany should not be permitted to return to Scotland during the minority of James V. (fn. 25) He was at that time residing at Paris; and although Francis could have as little right to detain him as Henry to demand his detention, it was thought, as the Duke had married a French lady, and his property was in France, still more as his influence in Scotland depended on the support and countenance he received from the French King, that it would be comparatively an easy task to hinder his return, or at least to render it ineffectual. Whether the engagement would be strictly observed, depended entirely on the good faith of Francis himself,—a slender tie at best;—and Wolsey, in a letter to Dacre, commanded him to keep a sharp look out, without relying too much on the promise made by their new confederate. (fn. 26) But though Scotland was the ancient ally of France,—was not to be sacrificed at any cost, still less for want of a little duplicity,—it did not serve the interests of Francis at present to violate his promise. Nor, in the face of so much danger and uncertainty, was Albany inclined to cross the sea, at the hazard of being taken prisoner by the English fleet, and of expiating his offences in the Tower. Yet every day he remained away his influence in Scotland declined. Every year brought James V. nearer his majority; and the natural authority of his mother, supported by English money and English interest, bid fair to eclipse the little power he still retained in Scotland, and reduce him to the condition of a subject.
The annals of Scotland are, unfortunately, involved in so much obscurity that it is not easy to find a firm footing, or follow any clear or steady light, in tracing this period of its history. What intrigues were set on foot by Albany (if any) to procure or hasten his return, is unknown; but it is not probable that he would tamely permit himself to be treated as an exile, and make no effort to regain his liberty and his influence. From a note appended to the letter of the Estates of Scotland, already referred to, it appears that Albany, in conjunction with Paniter, the Scotch Secretary of State, was already employing his influence with Leo X. to induce his Holiness to interfere and urge upon the French king the importance of restoring him to Scotland. The result of this application is uncertain. But whilst they were thus attempting to gain their object by an indirect course that promised little success, an accident threw into their paths unsolicited advantages which their most dexterous policy could never have secured.
In no one respect had Margaret's expectations been realized at her return to Scotland in 1517. She was mortified at discovering that her political influence was now more feeble than ever. Disgusted at the neglect of Angus, her husband, who had attempted to grasp the reins during her absence, and was indifferent to her person as well as her pretensions,—exasperated, if popular tradition may be trusted, at the transfer of his attentions to another lady,—Margaret had resolved on a divorce. In a letter written to her brother Henry in the spring of 1519 she expatiated on her various grievances. She had been badly treated, she said, by the Scotch lords; her income ought to have been 9,000l. a year, and she could never obtain more than 2,000l.; instead of being supported by Angus, she had been much molested by him ever since her return, and her troubles were increasing daily. She complained that the bishop of Dunkeld (Gawin Douglas, the celebrated translator of Virgil), his father's brother, and others of his kinsmen, had caused Angus to deal sharply with her; that he would have compelled her to surrender her marriage settlement, and on her refusal had seized her estates at Newark, and detained her revenues. She proposed to send a servant to inform her brother of his misdeeds, which were too long to describe; adding that she and her husband had not met these six months, and she was resolved to part with him "if she might by God's law, and with honor to herself; for he loved her not." (fn. 27)
The letter is curious, as showing the lax notions which prevailed among the Tudors on the subject of divorce, and still more for the naive ignorance it displays of her brother's character. For Margaret expressed a hope that he would aid her in this resolution, and "be kind to her "when it came to this point," avowing that she would never marry but where he wished, and would never part with him, whatever she might do with her husband.
The answer she received was such as all but herself would have anticipated. Henry sent her a stern message and stinging rebuke by Henry Chadworth, an Observant Friar, remonstrating with her on her intended separation from her husband, and "her reported suspicious "living." Nor did Dacre or Wolsey fail to second the King's reproaches in terms more bitter than decorous. Ostensibly the friar succeeded so well in his mission that, notwithstanding the opposition of Arran and the Chancellor, to whom the Queen showed the letter, Margaret consented to be reconciled to her husband, and Angus expressed his gratitude to Henry at the result. (fn. 28)
But the reconciliation was neither sincere nor lasting; and as the quarrel grew wider between them, Margaret threw herself into the arms of Arran and the opposite party,—that is, into the arms of those who were opposed to England, and whose supremacy was bound up with the aggrandizement of Albany. Contrary, therefore, to her former policy, she was now no less anxious for Albany's return than she had formerly been anxious for his banishment. Nor was Albany backward in meeting her advances. He sent her a letter, stating that, as he was prevented from visiting Scotland, he wished that, with the consent of the Lords, she should take the reins. (fn. 29) Nothing could be better calculated to secure her favor and gain her confidence than such a proposal; nothing was better contrived to render Angus more unpalatable to the Queen, or her reconciliation with him more desperate. In acknowledgment of her gratitude Margaret wrote more pressing letters, soliciting his return; she expressed herself satisfied with his conduct, and was willing to entrust her own dignity, and the safety of her son, to Albany's keeping.
Such vacillation was unpalatable enough to the English court. For months had the King and the Cardinal been using their endeavors to exclude Albany from Scotland; not without hopes of success. If they prospered in their purpose, Scotland, as Dacre expressed his conviction, would go to ruin for lack of justice; the Scotch lords would never consent to be ruled by one of their peers, and their ancient feuds would be revived with greater animosity than ever. (fn. 30) To be frustrated of hopes, so near their accomplishment, and from a quarter so little expected, was a bitter disappointment. Dacre, than whom no one was better fitted by temper, by training, by the callousness of continual Bor- der warfare, and the roughness of hand and heart begotten of such employment, to act the part of a stern and inflexible monitor, was selected to remonstrate with Margaret on her misconduct. He fulfilled his mission duly. He expressed his astonishment that, considering the suspicious circumstances attending the death of her son, and Albany's "brutal oaths and promises," she had ventured to infringe the articles stipulated in the treaty with France for keeping the Duke out of Scotland,—arrangements, as he asserted, exclusively contrived to protect her own interests. He desired her to assure him, under her own hand, for he would accept no other evidence, whether the report of her having written to Francis, desiring Albany's return, was well founded. He hoped she would be able to deny it, or give satisfactory reasons for her conduct, that he might inform her brother accordingly. If, unhappily, the facts should prove to be as they were reported, he assured her that her brother would "take less aspect" to her causes, and show himself much less cordial than he had done hitherto. (fn. 31)
For an English subject, of no rank or authority, to write in such a fashion to an independent Sovereign, was a presumption few princes would have tolerated. Her reply (fn. 32) was in a milder tone than, under the circumstances, could have been anticipated. She admitted that she had formerly desired the removal of Albany, but justified herself from the charge of inconsistency on the ground that she had done so believing that the Scottish lords would have put an end to their disputes, and have suffered her to enjoy her rights in peace according to their promise. She insisted, on the contrary, that she had been treated with no consideration, and had never experienced less respect than since her last coming into Scotland. Her repeated complaints to her brother and the Cardinal, she told Dacre, had received no answer. She excused her invitation to Albany, on the plea that a letter had been indited to him in French by his own desire and that of the lords; and when she was required to sign it she could not resist their importunity, lest she should imperil the welfare of her son and his realm. "My Lord," she continued, not "without some show of reason, I pray you remember that and you were in another realm where you should live your life, ye would do that ye might to please them, so that they should not have any mistrust of you; and so must I; for and I should refuse to have written when I was desired, the Duke and the lords would have thought that I had stopped his coming, and there-through I might get evil."
But the truth is that Margaret's alliance with Albany at this time was much more intimate than she was willing to admit, or than Dacre, with his dreaded Arguseyes, had been able to discover. She had fully resolved already, not only to part with Angus, but if possible to obtain a divorce. To accomplish this object, Albany's friendship was indispensible. As he disposed of all the ecclesiastical benefices in Scotland, and had consequently great influence in the papal court, success would be certain, if he could be persuaded to further her suit; at all events, so long as she continued on bad terms with him, his opposition at the court of Rome would prove a formidable, if not an insurmountable, obstacle to her wishes. What steps were taken by the Duke in this matter, at what time he first lent himself to Margaret's purposes, it is impossible, in the absence of documentary tary evidence, to state precisely. But it appears by a letter from De Giglis, the bishop of Worcester, to Wolsey, that the Duke had obtained leave from Francis to visit Rome, and was expected there in April 1520. (fn. 33) He was certainly there in June the same year. He must have returned to Paris a short time after the Field of the Cloth of Gold, for he was nominally put under arrest by Francis, and was already at liberty in November. (fn. 34) Long after he had left Rome his factor was still employed at the Roman court in soliciting Margaret's divorce; (fn. 35) for, as in the more famous case of her brother, such suits were not easily or rapidly determined.
The alliance of Albany and Margaret was a perilous gash to the authority of Angus and to English influence in Scotland. As afterwards in the days of Queen Mary, it was the policy of England to neutralize the independence of Scotland, by fomenting disputes among the nobles;—many of whom were ready to accept English gold, and sacrifice the welfare of their country to [party vengeance, or party aggrandizement. In both cases the policy of England had the same object; it aimed at rendering the sovereign hateful to the mass of the nation, at no time much inclined to respect the royal authority. But in Mary's case, English statesmen, either more keen-sighted or more favored by circumstances, cultivated the good will and courted the support of the commons; and the commons, in return, trampled on and neglected by the lords, and equally indifferent which party of the aristocracy gained the ascendancy, held steadily to the friendship of England, and saw in its predominance a better chance for their own prosperity and aggrandizement than in the rule of their native sovereigns, or the arbitrary conduct of their native nobility. Henry VIII. had no such advantages, or failed to perceive and secure them; and so long as Margaret was ready to be guided by his counsels, no other arts for ensuring political predominance in Scotland were sought for or desired. Supported by her zealous but interested aid, backed by Angus and the Homes, really if not nominally possessed of the young King's person, Albany banished, the Scottish communication with the continent intercepted,—the King and the Cardinal might justly consider that English influence was supreme in Scotland, and neglect all further precautions to secure it. If the Scots wished to live in peace and safety, friendship with England was indispensible. At every full moon, destructive forays carried fire and sword to their homesteads; villages, castles and monasteries were given indiscriminately to the flames; border hate and border warfare recognized no distinction of age or sex, of things sacred or profane. Devastation, followed by famine and by pestilence, and persisted in with unrelenting severity, was the never-failing scourge by which the Scots were taught to feel the consequence of English hostility. And as this age stamps out a cattle plague, so that age stamped out religious, moral, political and national plagues, or what they considered to be such, by fire and sword, by the rack or the headsman's axe. It was the rule of the strong; the justice and righteousness of which no one in those days thought of disputing.
But the quarrels between Angus and Margaret gave encouragement to the opposite party, of which Arran was the head. It was the policy of the latter to promote Albany's return. His presence was considered not only as a guarantee for the national independence of Scot- land, but as a pledge of help from France, and a defiance to England. For these reasons various applications had been made to Francis in the Duke's favor; but without immediate success. The return of Albany would have been the signal for war with England; and Francis was already engaged too deeply in hostilities with the Emperor to augment the forces of his enemy by acceding to the wishes of Albany's partizans. (fn. 36) To gain time, to pacify the dissensions of the nobles, and excuse himself from complying with their requests, Francis sent two ambassadors into Scotland (fn. 37) in the autumn of 1520.
War at that juncture did not suit the purposes or inclinations of either nation. England was in fact not less anxious for peace than Scotland. More was to be gained by policy than by the sword. Already by indirect means Henry had contrived to make the French king the unconscious instrument of his wishes. If he could be induced to persevere in his resolution, and keep Albany in France, the Duke's interests would be effectually weakened, his party divided, and Margaret, by threats or by cajolery, might be detached from the cause she had so inconsiderately adopted. (fn. 38) So Wolsey, or rather Dacre, his representative in the North, set to work to carry out this policy strictly to the letter. Money was offered to the more needy or less scrupulous of the Scottish lords; English protection, or refuge in the English borders, was extended to those whose turbulence and disaffection made even Scotland too strict and constrained a residence for their disorderly habits; and Margaret was lectured, taunted, threatened, in a style which Tudor blood was rarely accustomed to brook with patience.
The adherents of the Duke lost neither hope nor heart. They redoubled their efforts at the court of France to procure the return of Albany. Rumors circulated, no one knew how, or from what quarter, that the Duke was to land in Scotland in company with the exile De la Pole, the White Rose. Backed by the power of France, Scotland was to give a new king to England, and trample in the dust its proud and unrelenting enemies. (fn. 39) The growing discontents between the courts of France and England lent plausibility to these reports. With what anxiety and jealousy the rumor was regarded by Henry VIII. and the Cardinal,—what efforts were used to throw discredit upon it,—how incessant, how strict, how eager, was the watch kept upon Albany's movement, will be seen by the letters of the English ambassadors. The Duke's familiarity with Francis, his preparations, his ships, his real or imaginary projects, his threats, promises and intentions, were all closely scrutinized, analyzed, and weighed in the sensitive balance of jealousy and suspicion. He came and went with more than feline rapidity and noiselessness. When every one felt convinced that he had started on his mission, and would be next heard of at the head of a victorious army in Scotland, suddenly, to the amazement of all, he would reappear in the French court, and falsify all anticipations. One night, about the 1st or 2nd of October 1521, he was missed: "Albany," writes Fitzwilliam to Wolsey on the 4th, in cipher and breathless haste,—Albany has left the court; but whither I cannot tell, "nor whether he will return." Again, on the 6th, and again in cipher, as before: "As for the duke of Albany, I cannot learn whither he has gone: some show me he is gone to my Lady (the mother of Francis I.), but whether it be true or not, I know not." The next time, that is some weeks later, he is heard of in Scotland; but how he got there, and when and where he landed, no one could tell. (fn. 40)
It was not without feelings of triumph that Margaret wrote on the 4th of December, from Edinburgh, to Dacre—(whom, with all her professions of regard, she must have cordially detested, and not the least because of the necessity of such professions),—that Albany had returned. The grammar, the handwriting, and the spelling of her letter, always very uncouth and generally unintelligible, are on this occasion more uncouth and diconnected than usual. The flurry of her spirits, her feminine delight at this opportunity of retaliating on Dacre's superciliousness, seem to have been too strong for her logic, and to have overpowered her small grasp of syntax—feeble at the best. But the reader shall judge for himself, for here are her very words. I could not think of inflicting upon him her spelling and punctuation. (fn. 41)
"My lord Dacre, I commend me to you, and wit ye that my lord duke of Albany, governor of Scotland, is come for to do service to the King my son and to the realm, and to help me to be answered and obeyed of my living, the which I have great need of; for there was never gentlewoman of my estate so evil intreated, and my living holden from me, as I have written often times to you of before. Suppose ye erar (rather) hindered me than furthered me, which had not been your part to do: not the less, since my lord Governor is come into this realm for the good of it, and will for his part help to entertain the amity and peace betwixt the King's grace my brother's said realm and this; wherefore I trust it will be siklike the King my brother's mind to do the same, as I trust it has not been his mind otherwise. Suppose his servants have not done their part in the keeping of the same, but as yet I pray you my lord to do it that ye should do of reason for the king's grace my brother's and your master's honor, for he should keep it that he promised, and specially to this realm, considering the King my son is so tender to his Grace, and I never failed to him nor shall not.
"I would have thought to have had thank of the King's grace my brother, and of the realm of England, that I have kept a good part to this realm, both for his honor and mine; or else all the world might have spoken evil of me to have done the contrary to the King my son and the weal of this realm, which could not have been well guided without the duke of Albany [being] governor of this realm, for my son the King is not of age to do it himself.
"But, my Lord, I know well ye have done your part to hinder me at the King's grace my brother's hand. Why may ye not fail to me, when ye fail to the King's grace my brother? And better mend in time ne to be worse. Which an ye do not, it will be occasion to this realm and my lord Governor to do such like as ye have done; which is receiving of rebels and maintaining of them which an ye do not mend, it will be laid to your charge hereafter by the King's grace my brother.
"My lord, I write sharply and plainly to you, for I have good cause both for the King my son's sake and mine own; for ye have fortified my lord of Angus against me, and counselled him to trouble me, in the contrary of the band that ye caused me to take of him, which ye would break again; which ye should not have done to your master's sister. And your answer, what shall be your part, that I and this world may happen to; (fn. 42) and God keep you. Written at Edinburgh, 4 Dec.
What an outburst of smouldering wrath, what a torrent of indignation ! But it fell upon Dacre with as much effect as the rain might have pattered against any of his own granite rocks. An iron man, too long accustomed, by his wild and irregular mode of life, to the tears of women and children, and the muttered curses of dying men, Dacre neither crumbled into dust at her disapprobation, nor quailed before her anger. More mortifying still, he showed himself not only insensible to her sarcasms, but careless in his own vindication, and fully prepared to repeat his offences. In the guise of a letter he read her a lecture on her own misconduct more in the style of a prince than of a subject replying to a queen. His answer is a model of consummate coolness, unflinching self-confidence, and grave rebuke. His measured tone, his stony coldness, his supreme indifference to her praise or censure, form a striking contrast to Margaret's waspish, spasmodic, and undignified attack. But under that stony coldness he contrived to convey as much contempt and anger, though couched in phrases of seeming courtesy and respect, as Dacre in his prudence dared to exhibit. Bitter throughout, the letter culminates at its close in a concentrated shower of gall and wormwood, beneath which the offended woman and imprudent Queen must have shrunk and cowered, in vain regret at her own folly and misconduct. Here it is (fn. 43) :—
"Madam, I recommend me unto your Grace, and have received your writing by a messenger this bearer. And whereas ye advertise me that the duke of Albany, your governor of Scotland, is come to do service to the King your son and his realm, and to help you to be answered of your living; and that I rather hindered your Grace than furthered; and that your said governor is come for peace, and will for his part entreat the unity and peace between my Sovereign your brother's realm and Scotland; and that my Sovereign's servants have not done their part in keeping of the same; and that ye pray me that I should do that I ought to do, upon reason, for the King my sovereign's honor; and that his highness should keep that he promises to that realm; and that ye never faulted to my sovereign, nor shall not do; and that your Grace thought to have had thanks of my Sovereign and his realm that ye have kept so great a party, both for his honor and yours, or else all the world would have spoken ill of your Grace to him, doing the contrary, for the weal of your son and his realm; and that your said son should not have been well guided without the duke of Albany your governor; and that ye are informed that I have hindered you at my Sovereign's hand, and why should not I fail to you when I fail to my sovereign Lord; and better to mend betime than to do worse, which will be occasion to the governor to do the same which I have done,—that is, receiving of rebels, and maintaining of them,—the which, if I mend not, will be laid to my charge; and that your Grace writes plainly to me because of your son's sake and your own; and that I have given my lord of Angus counsel against you for your trouble, in such things as I gave you counsel in to take of him, the which I would break again; and that I should not so do to my Sovereign's sister; and that I should give you answer what your Grace and that realm might lippen to;—
"Madam, to make you answer of your writing, that is to me right hard and difficult, because ye have made it by the advice of the duke of Albany, for his pleasure. And what suspicion my sovereign Lord and his realm will think that the said Duke should have the keeping of the King your son my sovereign Lord's nephew, and of his realm and subjects, in rule and governance, seeing the pretended title that the said Duke claimeth to the crown, ye being so favorably assenting to the same; Madam, I fear me ye forget natural affection and provident reason, and is abused with sinister council and blind persuasions; and what desire may be imprinted in the hearts of highminded men to aspire to high dignities, in the which case often times the fear of God and the shame of the world is laid apart; and if all this suspicion come of your Grace to the King your brother and his council, how his Highness will esteem your light dealing, so little regarding your son his nephew;—I will refer that to his high pleasure. And as unto the keeping of the peace, and receiving of rebels and maintaining of them, Madam, I have made answer thereof to the Duke, which is, that there is none receipt to my knowledge; nor no breach nor occasion of breach of peace be of the party of England; so I have in commandment of his highness along all his marches to do.
"Madam, where ye say ye never faulted to my Sovereign, but deserved thanks of his Highness and his realm for keeping of his honor and yours, I pray God his Grace may take it so in form thereof. And where your Grace saith I have hindered you at my Sovereign's hand, and that I can not be true to my sovereign Lord, when I cannot be true to you; Madam it becomes not me to make such information as ye allege. And as to my truth and duty of allegiance, I am sure of myself; I fear not; would God in mine opinion ye were as sure of yourself, no comparison made to a great prince's birth as your Grace is, to a poor wretch and subject as I am.
"And whereas ye are informed that I should give counsel to my lord of Angus against your Grace in such things as I gave you counsel to take of him; Madam, I gave him never counsel, but that it might stand with your honor according to my duty, as I am bound to do, for your Grace. And inasmuch as ye took him to be your husband, at your pleasure, without consent or counsel of your brother, my Sovereign, or any other of his natural subjects, it were your honor to resort to him, according as ye are bound by the laws of God, or else to show the cause why, by the order of justice, for the declaration of your conscience.
"Madam, I humbly beseech your Grace to pardon me of my rude writing, for my truth leads me. If I otherwise should write, I should flatter your Grace, and not to say by mine opinion as I suppose. As our Lord knoweth, who have your Grace in keeping.
"At Norham, 8th December."
So contemptuous a letter, so disparaging to Margaret's judgment, conduct and abilities, on which she prided herself, was ill calculated to gain her esteem or disarm her resentment in the hour of her triumph. She wrote the day after to Henry, reiterating her assertion that Albany had come into Scotland for the good of her son. Her son, she said, was young,—the realm deficient in good rule and justice; and the Duke's presence would prove the best remedy for these evils. As if to insinuate the intimate nature of that alliance which had now sprung up between herself and the Duke, the latter had written six days before to Dacre, accusing him of harboring Scotch fugitives, and threatening to disclose his misdeeds to the king of England: whilst Margaret, in a letter to her brother, complains that his subjects received "rebels "and broken men;" and, to leave no doubt at whom this accusation was levelled, added that she had remonstrated with Dacre for neglecting his duty, and only received from him a sharp letter in reply. He ought to be commanded, she said, to keep better rule upon the Borders; his imputations on her actions proceeded from malice; whilst Albany ever since his arrival had paid her great deference, and consulted her wishes on all occasions.
Is it to be imagined that Margaret was so ignorant of her brother's temper as to suppose that her remonstrances would produce any other effect than a passing fit of irritation? Could she think that Henry would share her views, and mark his displeasure of Dacre's conduct by disgracing him? If her letters, as it suited Dacre's purpose to insinuate, were really dictated by Albany, and not written freely by herself in the varying passions of the hour, the Duke deserved for these exhibitions of laborious spite and petty malice the contempt which was afterwards showered upon him by both nations. But this hypothesis is hardly compatible with the effect produced by Albany's presence on his own people. His reappearance restored fresh confidence to his adherents, and struck his enemies with unimaginable terrors. In their uncertainty and bewilderment they despatched Gawin Douglas, the bishop of Dunkeld, to England, with instructions to represent their danger, and desiring him to learn "what supply the King's grace would do them." Their statements, like those of violent partizans, must be read with caution; but, with the largest allowance for exaggeration and misstatement, natural on such occasions, it is clear that Margaret was now closely united with Albany, and that English influence had suddenly collapsed. The Queen, they reported, was much inclined to the Duke's pleasure; the two were always together, either forenoon or afternoon; a divorce between her and Angus was in contemplation; on his arrival the Duke had visited the Queen at Stirling, had gone in her company first to Linlithgow, and afterwards to Edinburgh, where the King was then residing. Here the Duke had, on receiving the keys of the Castle, delivered them to the Queen, who returned them to Albany. They complained that to secure her favor he had enriched her servants and promoted her favorites: he had made the bishop of Glasgow archbishop of St. Andrew's, and advanced the abbot of Holyrood to the see of Glasgow: whilst Cantley, so often mentioned in this correspondence, was enriched with the abbey of Kilwinning and two other benefices.
These assertions lost nothing of their pungency and significance in the mouth of the bishop of Dunkeld. Facts were indiscriminately marshalled with fiction, the wildest surmises with probable inferences. In his memorial against the Duke, addressed by the Bishop to those who were not likely to be exact or critical in testing the accuracy of his statement, (fn. 44) Albany was stigmatized as the son of a rebel, without a foot of land in Scotland or France, incapable of being the King's tutor, or of holding any office. His conduct, said his episcopal denouncer, was actuated by the sole motive of fear, and all his measures were taken accordingly. He had removed the King "of right tender age," from the castle of Stirling, where he was well at ease, "to the windy and right unpleasant castle and rock of Edinburgh." He had "stuffed" Dunbar, Dumbarton, Inchgarvy and Stirling with Frenchmen; while the royal residences and revenues were appropriated by his favorites or foreigners, "whilk are but very knaves." "The King's rich gowns of most fine cloth of gold, furred with finest sables, he has analit" (wasted), continues the Bishop, "together with the hangings and apparellings of his chambers palit of purple and velvet cramosyn, and made clothing thereof to some of his pages and servants, and has coined in placks (groats) the King's great silver stoups, double gilt, that in the whole mounts to one right great sum." To add to his offences he had sold three of the King's great ships, worth 300,000 francs, with their ordnance; (fn. 45) had disposed of lands, forfeitures, wardships, marriages, benefices, bishoprics, at his plea- sure. Since his return, continues the exasperated prelate, his wrath kindling at the recital, he has imposed a tax upon Scotland of 25,000l. Scotch; has made Robert Barton, the pirate, controller; "and one Master John Campbell, ane bastard briber, quhilk had not five shillings' worth of good of his own," has been appointed treasurer. By their cunning management the King had been brought into debt 12,000l. Scotch; and yet he was so badly clothed that until his natural sister, the countess of Morton, took compassion upon him, he had scarcely honest hose or doublet; and when Albany and the Queen sent him cloth of silver and gold for gowns, these shameless officers had refused to furnish the lining!
Not satisfied with these grievous accusations the Bishop proceeded to charge Albany with having poisoned or starved the duke of Ross;—a statement for which there was as little foundation as for many others contained in his memorial. He compares Albany to Richard III., who paved his way to the throne by the murder of his nephews. "Gif," he concludes, "this duke of Albany's father had died at (in) the faith and peace of his prince, and not rebel or banished, yet then he has alive an elder brother, Alexander Stewart, commendator of Scone and Inchcaffray, not in holy orders, but a man able to marry, begotten on the duke of Albany's first wife, umquhile daughter to the earl of Orkney. All that he does, therefore, is without authority, and in defiance of the States of Scotland, who declared he should not be reputed governor unless he had returned before the 1st of August."
Whatever exaggeration or falsehood there might have been in these details, it is clear from the general purport of them that Albany had returned to Scotland resolved to exercise plenary authority as governor, and that the Queen and the nobles had shown no desire to counter-act his wishes. He deposed the officers of Angus on his arrival; summoned a parliament; cited the lords who had fled to appear and defend themselves; and acted with so much apparent vigor and resolution, that Angus was obliged to seek and obtain reconciliation through Margaret's intercession. As English influence declined, a spirit of unity appeared to prevail. With Margaret devoted to Albany, Angus and his brother George in voluntary exile, the Homes unable to show themselves, the Duke was triumphant and experienced little opposition. (fn. 46) To the poor bishop of Dunkeld the blow was fatal. Denounced at home as a traitor, and deprived of his bishopric, (fn. 47) his mission to England, as the representative of the disaffected lords, seemed little better than a mockery. Confused, ill at ease, uncertain how far the disaffection of his relative Angus would be visited on himself, he wrote to the Cardinal in the following deprecatory and sorrowful terms:—
"Please it your Grace, sin I heard the tidings and writings of yesterday, I am and have been so dolorous and full of vehement annoy that I dare not aventure [to] come in your presence, whilk causes me thus write to your noble Grace; beseeching the same of your great goodness to have companence (compassion) of me, desolate and woeful wight. Albeit I grant I have deserved punition, and am under the King's mercy and yours, not for any fault or demerit of my own, but by reason of their untruth that caused me labor for the weal of their Prince and their security, whilk now has (have) their own confusion and perpetual shame, and has served me, as your Grace may consider, that solicited the King's highness and your Grace to write and do for them so oftentimes, and so largely, in divers sorts, as well to their support and comfort; whereof now I must needs underlie your mercy. Albeit I doubt not but your high prudence considers profoundly my part thereof, and my whole true mind all time but (without) any dissimulance, that in good faith am further deceived in this matter than any others, by reason whereof I am so full of sorrow and displeasure, that I am weary of my own life, and promise to God and your noble Grace, as your humble servant and a true Christian priest, that I shall never have nor take way with the duke of Albany, the unworthy earl of Angus, nor no others that assists to the said Duke, but (without) your express command and advice; nor never shall pass into Scotland, but at your pleasure, so long as this wicked Duke is therein, or has rule thereof. And I trust my brother and other my friends will use my counsel; albeit yon young witless fool has run upon his own mischief by continual persuasion of wily, subtle men, and for lack of good counsel; showing to him, I doubt not, many feigned letters and wonderful terrors, that the lord Hume and others would pass in and leave him alone; and that I would be taken and holden here; and that Galter, the Duke's secretary, had appointed with the King's highness for his destruction, and the Duke to marry the Queen. I doubt not sich things, and mickle mair, has been said."
Then, after expressing his regret that a letter which he had sent from Hampton Court to his brother had not been despatched at an earlier opportunity, he expresses a wish—the uncharitableness of which may be forgiven in the pressure of his misery,—"I beseech God that I may see him (Angus) really punished for his demerits, and promise broken made to the King's highness and me his uncle, and shall be glad to solicit the King's highness and your Grace to this effect at all my power." (fn. 48)
Henry and his ministers had been inclined in the first instance to treat Albany's arrival in Scotland with contempt. They declined to acknowledge the Duke's authority, or enter into any negociations with Scotland, so long as he was permitted to remain. In conformity with this resolution, Henry wrote to the Estates, accusing the Duke of attempting to procure a divorce for the Queen, with the intent of marrying her himself, and he urged them not to assist Albany, on pain of his displeasure. (fn. 49) To his sister Margaret, for whom he never entertained any strong affection, he addressed a letter, in terms of unusual bitterness: he reproached her for being so easily abused by Albany; for her familiarity with him, unbecoming a queen and a woman; and accused her of a clandestine attempt to get rid of her husband, with a view to marry the Duke. The Estates of Scotland replied in a firm and temperate letter, declining to accede to his proposals, and denying his imputations. The Duke, they asserted, was the lawful governor of their sovereign,—had been repeatedly called by them to that office,—and had never interfered with the custody of the King's person, or with any appointment in his household. They expressed their surprise that Henry should believe, that one "who had been nursed with so great honor, and had so tender familiarity with popes and great princes," would contrive any harm against their sovereign's person, or induce the Queen to abandon her husband. If the king of England, they added, with great tact, and perfect knowledge of the man with whom they had to deal, still insisted on the dismissal of Albany, no other alternative would be left for them, except to publish to the world, and to all Christian princes, the necessity they were under, either of depriving Albany, unjustly, of the office lawfully belonging to him, or of submitting to the peril of being invaded by England.
Margaret's reply was couched in a different strain, but was not less resolute than theirs. Her Tudor blood was fired at the insults to which she had been exposed under the mask of advice and charity. She remonstrated with Henry for his sharp and unkind letter. In reply to his insinuations of her being so easily abused by the Duke, she taxed her brother for his credulity and weakness in trusting to false reports. He possessed but little sense, she told him, of his own dignity, in permitting slanderous reports to be circulated to her discredit, and suffering the Cardinal openly to repeat at the council-table that she loved the Governor to her dishonor. Her rumored divorce from Angus was a scandal, forged, she said, by the bishop of Dunkeld, and had never been contemplated by herself or Albany. Then, with something like a threat, she added, that when the proper season arrived she should be ready to justify her conduct; for she had retained copies of her correspondence with the king of England, and by them it would appear to the world that his threat of invasion was groundless and unjustifiable. Had Albany intended wrong to her son, she would have been the first to discover it. She had long hoped, she said, that her brother would have sheltered her from injury; but her hopes had been vain, and now she had found a better friend in Albany than in any other. She concluded by saying, that Scotland desired peace with England, if it could be had, but if peace could not be had with honor, it would never consent to banish Albany. (fn. 50)
If the King imagined, as he reasonably might, that these were not the genuine sentiments of the Queen and the nation, but the "abusion" of Albany, he soon found himself undeceived. Acting under this impression, Clarencieux had been despatched to Scotland, partly at Margaret's own desire, partly, no doubt, from a wish to ascertain [more precisely Albany's influence with the Lords. The herald reached Edinburgh on Candlemas Eve, and found the Queen, not in Holyrood Palace, or in the Castle of Edinburgh (as might have been expected), but lodging in the house of a burgess. On presenting his letters, and hearing what he had to say, Margaret, to use his own expression, was marvellously abashed, saying she perceived that the King held her in great and heinous displeasure, owing to the evil reports he had received. She admitted to the English envoy that she had desired Albany's return to Scotland, confirming most of the particulars already detailed in her letters. She had been well treated, she said, ever since his arrival, her son was well kept, and neither of them had anything to fear from the Duke. This account of herself was confirmed, six days after, by the Duke, in whose presence, and in that of the herald, she repeated her expressions of gratitude to Albany.
On Sunday, being Candlemas Day, (fn. 51) Clarencieux delivered the King's letters to Albany, at Holyrood House. After dinner he sent for the herald to his chamber, and, prefacing what he had to say by some remarks on the bitterness of the King's letter, stated that he had come into Scotland at the invitation of the Lords. He had taken a solemn vow, he said, to return at a proper opportunity, and nothing should tempt him to violate his oath. But as the Lords had appointed him Governor, he would risk life and property in their service. Then glancing at Henry's coarse insinuation of his "damnable abusion" of the King's sister, and his attempt to marry her, he told the herald that when he was last at Rome Margaret had requested him to obtain for her a divorce, as she was unkindly treated by Angus; but he swore by the Sacrament, which he had seen that day between the priest's hands, he never intended to marry her; and he marvelled that the King should think so ill of his sister, and that the Cardinal should have stated openly in the council chamber that the Duke treated the Queen as if she were his wife or his concubine. He expressed his desire to be on friendly terms with England, but if he were attacked he would do the best to defend himself.
The herald met with no better success at his interview with the Lords, then assembled in Parliament at the Tolbooth. On delivering his charge to the chancellor of Scotland, he desired that the King's letter might be read aloud, in the hope of creating a division among them, or eliciting some expressions of disapprobation from those who were thought unfavorable to the Duke. But in this also he was disappointed.
He was received, as he tells Wolsey, with "grim and angry looks," both of "high and low." It requires no effort of imagination to picture the blanched and menacing features of these ancient rivals of England, exasperated to the uttermost by repeated injuries; more accustomed to war and bloodshed than counsel and debate; resembling rather a gathering of grim soldiers than a peaceful assemblage of senators. The representative of England stood before them, wearing on his tabard the insignia of that nation they most hated. He carried in his hands a letter, conceived in terms more dictatorial than any Scotchman would have tolerated from his native and lawful sovereign.
The herald was desired to withdraw; he was told, on his return, that they had unanimously invited the Duke, and would on no account dismiss him. If, as Henry said, France had joined with himself against Albany, they felt little obliged by such conduct. But, even if England, France and the Emperor were united, they had chosen the Governor, and with the Governor they were resolved to live and die. (fn. 52)
It was impossible to mistake the meaning of this declaration, or to expect any diversion in the King's favor. If the King had believed Dacre's insinuation, that Albany was unpopular with the Lords, that he and his preparations might be treated with contempt, it was clear from Clarencieux's letters that Dacre had been mistaken. So Henry altered his tone, and deemed it wise to prepare for the worst. He sent the bishop of Carlisle to assist Dacre in preparing for the defence of the Borders, (fn. 53) expressing at the same time his intentions to despatch some nobleman into Yorkshire, as his lieutenant, and place the country north of the Trent in a state of readiness. The fortifications of Berwick were ordered to be strengthened; the Homes were apprised that they would be supported in their disaffection, and a sharp watch was kept upon the motions of Albany. Both countries prepared for war.
But in reality neither desired war. Just then the energies of England were taxed to the utmost in preparing for the invasion of France. Every day the Emperor and his ministers were calling upon England to give proof of its sincerity, by an open declaration of hostilities. The money due from France for the surrender of Tournay was not forthcoming; the treasury was exhausted; the loans, in spite of every effort to collect them, and induce prepayment, came in slowly and reluctantly. Border raids might be made and conducted at the expense of the Border gentlemen; but they were uncertain and ineffectual instruments for retarding the advance of an army, well appointed, and led by the Scotch lords, thirsting for retaliation. On the other hand, Albany was fettered by his French engagements. He could not hope to retain his authority unless he were well supported. If the Scottish lords found the men, they looked to Albany to find the money and munitions of war. But Francis was too hardly pressed to provide either. "There are not eighteen barrels of gunpowder in all Scotland," writes Dacre to Wolsey, "and the great Lords will have no war." (fn. 54) And though Dacre's information was not always to be implicitly relied on, yet on this occasion his assertion was confirmed by evidence of no less an authority than Albany himself. In a letter of the 17th of April, (fn. 55) Albany tells his French correspondent that the Scotch parliament had been dismissed until the 12th of May; and in that time, if they did not obtain a favorable answer from the French king, they would certainly make terms with England. "The Scotch lords say that the war is merely for the advantage of France, and unless the king of France will issue a bold declaration, and send sufficient assistance, they do not care to stir, as they are weary of fighting for others."
Nor was this far from the truth. The chief object of Albany's visit to Scotland was not so much to help Scotland against its ancient enemies, to secure for himself either the Scottish crown, or the hand of Margaret, as to create a diversion, if possible, in favor of France. Francis hoped that England, hampered by a Scotch in vasion, would gladly listen to the dictates of peace, and in that peace France would be comprehended as the ancient ally of Scotland. Nothing shows more completely the depth of humiliation to which France was reduced at the commencement of 1522 than that its monarch, the proudest and gayest in the world, the competitor for empire, the paragon of chivalry and haulte courage, should have condescended to purchase peace at such a price, and seek immunity from war, by the hand and instrumentality of his humble friend and Scotch dependant. (fn. 56) Failing of a peace, he might yet hope to divert England from its purpose of invading France, or divide its powers, by fomenting an insurrection on its northern frontier. Albany was disappointed in both designs. His proposals for a truce, in which France should be comprehended, were rejected by the King and Wolsey with the utmost disdain. The great English minister penetrated the flimsy disguise at once, and treated the Duke's overtures with unconcealed contempt. He regarded Albany's interference much in the same light as that of a cur interposing itself between "two fell-opposed opposites" with a folly equalled only by its presumption. (fn. 57) By short prorogations of the truce, devised by Dacre, Albany's preparations were frittered away, and he fell under the suspicions of the French king in consequence of his inaction.
In the middle of May 1522 (fn. 58) the aid long expected from France arrived, but it was wholly inadequate to the emergency. That same month Francis had been defied by England, and he was no longer in a condition to provide for the safety of his humble ally. Later in the year (Aug. 13th) he was under the necessity of sending an ambassador to Scotland to explain the difficulties of his own position, and express his regret at his inability to render further assistance. The Scotch lords, after many delays, consented at last to an invasion of England on the 2d of September. (fn. 59) But their resolution was formed too late. Before the close of the month Albany and Margaret had entered into negociations for peace with Dacre and the captain of Berwick. (fn. 60) After some little coquetting on both sides, cessation of hostilities was agreed upon;—by Albany, with apparent sincerity, for, from some reason not well ascertained, he thought it needful to return to the continent, either to justify himself to the king of France, or to procure additional aid;—by Dacre, from policy, to win delay, foment suspicion among the Lords, create confusion in Scotland, and invade it when disunited. He was acquainted with the country better than any of his contemporaries; was less scrupulous also than others of the means he employed, whether force or fraud. But in consequence of these very qualities he was exposed to the jealousy and dislike of all who were associated with him; and his powers of annoyance were crippled in proportion.
Unknown to the lords of Scotland, the negociations between Albany and Dacre were carried on with great secrecy. Under a show of invading England, Albany advanced to the English borders, (fn. 61) in the direction of Carlisle. Had he pushed on with vigor he might have dictated his own terms; for Carlisle was defenceless; and the earl of Shrewsbury, the English commander, was still at York, unable to advance for lack of supplies. (fn. 62) The Borders were wholly unprepared. The earl of West-moreland could only travel in a litter. Most of the chief captains were dead; and the plague had raged with so much severity in the North that in Durham alone 3,000 able-bodied men had been carried off by the infection. Through dread of its virulence, the harness in the infected houses was useless; for the soldiers refused to touch it. Besides, as was too common in these Border wars, no spirit of unity prevailed among the inhabitants of different localities. The East Marches preyed upon the West; the West on the East and the Middle Marches. Hosts of thieves, lured by hope of indiscriminate plunder, infested the markets, robbed the houses, and burned the mills, indifferent whether they belonged to Scotland or England;—or rather, preferring those of the latter, as the booty was richer and more easily taken. (fn. 63) No treaty had been signed. The English reinforcements had not yet arrived; and the English border lords hung back, declining to stir until their wages were paid. Albany moved from Dumfries to Annan. A few hours' rapid march would have brought him under the walls of Carlisle, feebly defended by crumbling ramparts and ditches, and insufficient ordnance. But Albany, deficient alike in judgment and resolution, was engrossed with the single thought of truce. He suffered himself to be insulted and deceived by Dacre. Nothing shows more early the characters of the two men than their conduct and correspondence on this occasion. Though the danger was great and imminent, Dacre bated not a jot of his haughty and imperious demeanor. Some little time before, in defiance of the law of nations, he had imprisoned Carrick, Albany's herald; and now, with a temerity characteristic of his nature, he ventured to send one of his own servants, without a safeconduct, into the midst of Albany's camp, nominally under the pretext of carrying a message, really to ascertain the condition of Albany's powers. Such acts of audacity very few commanders, even of less rank and authority than Albany, would have allowed to pass without reprisals. But Albany, after a faint remonstrance, suffered his indignation to evaporate in words, and passed over the insult only to encourage its repetition.
The 9th of September had arrived, and Dacre was under the necessity of returning an immediate answer to Albany's proposals. He was then staying at Carlisle. The distance between himself and the Duke was so short that it was difficult to find any pretext for further delay. A direct refusal of Albany's terms would have brought the Duke and his army in a few hours to the walls of Carlisle; compliance was the same as accepting Albany's demand;—besides Dacre had as yet received no communications from England. To protract the time, (fn. 64) he pretended to the messenger who brought the Duke's letter with a French superscription, that he did not understand that language, and sent him back to procure a Scotch translation of it, or bring with him a French interpreter.
Albany, with singular fatuity, allowed his opportunities to slip from his hand. On the 11th September he signed an agreement with Dacre at Solam Chapel for an abstinence of one month; thus dissipating the hopes of his own party, and allowing his enemies abundant time for preparation. His chief resources were at Edinburgh; his ships at Leith. He could only procure scanty supplies by sea from Dumbarton, or transport provisions and munitions of war by land, over the roughest ground, now rapidly becoming impassable at the approach of winter; whilst the English fleet, commanding the eastern shores from Newcastle to Berwick, and the western from Chester to Carlisle, needed only time to assemble its powers, and had war or peace at its option.
Dacre might well be proud of his victory,—for a victory it was,—gained at a small cost, in the face of great odds, solely by his own daring and skill. His own account of the matter, sent in a letter to Wolsey the day after, (fn. 65) displays in vivid colors the boldness and genius of the man.
"My Lord, I beseech your Grace of pardon that I have not advertised you from time to time, according to my duty; but the matters were so difficult, and of so great importance, and had so long tract of time and times, that I could not certify your Grace of anything till now of the conclusion, like as ye may perceive, as everything is passed between the queen of Scots, the duke of Albany and me, by their principal letters and mine answers again, enclosed in a packet, which your Grace shall receive herewith.
"Please it your Grace, according to my writing sent you from Norham, the duke of Albany with the main power of Scotland mustered a little from Edinburgh, the second day of this instant month of September, and so came forward, sending the earl of Arran his lieutenant with his vanward to the East Borders, who set up his tents a little from Home Castle in our sight, being within four miles of Warkes Castle; and from thence the said Lieu- tenant removed towards these We[st] Borders, and fell in company of the Duke, at which time I was in Berwick, where I put in 250 soldiers of the King's garrisons, and also 300 of the country, and for the same made provision of victual for their sustentation; and by reason of the said victual all corns kept the old price, and rose nothing; and I, knowe[ing] of the hasty return of the said Duke, discharged the crew of the country wh[ich] was taken in, and paid them wages for a day; and thereupon I rode from Berwick to these West Borders at post, and came hither upon Saturday last past; where, according to my said writing from Norham, there was neither gun, b[ow] or arrow in readiness, and the town assaultable, whereby there was no remedy for keeping of the same, but only strength of men; by reason whereof I was ... enforced to despoil all mine own houses of such ordnance as was in them, and brought it thither, and appointed and put in the town 1,600 men in wages, besides the inhabitants of the same, making my son captain thereof, which was to his great danger, and to me little comfort, remembering I have but one. Albeit, for the King's honor, and for surety of his castle and town, I could [no] less do, seeing I and my brother Sir Christopher might not be spared from the f[ield], my lord Lieutenant being absent, whose wages I have paid hithertowards at the King's pleasure.
"Upon Sunday the seventh day, the duke of Albany with his army and ordnance came to the castle of Milke, within 12 miles of this said city; and by such w[ords] as passed between the said Duke and me, sent unto your Grace in the foresaid p[acket], your Grace may perceive the time was tracted unto Wednesday at 11 of the clock, when as the said Duke set up his tents upon the Debateable Ground five miles of this said city, where I came unto'his presence on Thursday, [having] certain hostages delivered for me into England, that is to say, the lord Max[well] and the treasurer of Scotland.
"At my going towards the said Duke, half a mile from him where he lay, two earls of Scotland met me, and conveyed me unto his hall, whereas he and all the lords were about him; and after my duty done unto him, I removed something backward, saying with an high voice, 'My Lord, what displeasure has my Sovereign done unto you, that ye with this great army are come hither to invade his realm? marvelling that all ye my lords will be aiding to the same, remembering the nighness and proximity of blood betwixt my Sovereign and yours. I come hither for no treaty, but at the instance and desire of my Lord here present.' Whereupon the Duke, with certain of the lords, went into one chamber within his said hall, and took me with them; where after long reasoning, communication, and debating, with such persuasions and sharp words as I did give them, the earls of Huntley, Argyle, Arran, and others, fearing as well the King's army, as also the continuance of mortal war which would have followed upon their beginning, gave plain answer that for no love, favor, desire, or fair promise of the French king they would in no wise attempt war against England, nor invade the same, so they might be sure to have peace of the King's highness. And so I departed, and was brought to one other tent; whereas I had good cheer made by certain lords appointed, and there fell to communication and reasoning how the matter might be best brought to pass. Whereupon indentures were drawn; whereof the one part, signed and sealed, ye shall receive in the foresaid packet.
"My lord, the army of Scotland was of so great puissance of men, above the number of 4 score thousand, and victual for the same, and so well stored of artillery, above 45 pieces of brass and 1,000 hagbushes carted upon trestles, besides handguns innumerable, that in manner, God being indifferent, it had been impossible to have withstood them; like as Thomas Musgrave, the King's servant, being there present with me, will inform the King's highness and your Grace at length, which comes up with diligence for that purpose. For I assure your Grace, our power in the time could not have been 16,000, and those that came forward came with the worse will that ever did men, and some great men there is that would not come forward, worthy punishment; and therefore, seeing the imminent danger of the castle of Warke, which William Ellerker, captain of the same, having 100 men in his retinue, after the sight of the Duke's vanward and tents set up, left waste; and so of force I was driven to suffer the Grayes of Northumberland, by the advice of my lord Warden, [to] enter in the same castle for keeping of it; and also remembering the small power that we were here, and the weakness of this city, wanting ordnance, which by all likelihood could not have been kept, afore I had seen and viewed their puissance and artillery, and over that for safeguard of this whole country of Cumberland, which all utterly had been destroyed and burnt without remedy hereafter, if the foresaid army had come in it:—therefore I condescended to the said minute of abstinence, humbly beseeching your Grace to be good solicitor and mean for me unto the King's highness, that he take no displeasure with me, being so bold to take abstinence, having none authority or commission. But inasmuch as by means thereof their army are skaled, and that they foliously have taken abstinence with me that had none authority, but only by my words, saying that I had commission, which I could not at that time come to it, it is at the King's pleasure whether he will accept it or not; and, under your correction, I think it good that this month be accepted, and upon the queen of Scots' desire, which it is thought she will make, that the King's highness condescend to the same abstinence for the space of another month, for these considerations ensuing: first, that in that time an honorable ambassade may be sent up upon the safeconduct now granted, at the request of the said queen of Scots, which shall make a great division between the Duke and the lords of Scotland, remembering their former sayings to the said Duke afore me; and further they have offered me they are glad and willing to desire peace of the King's highness and to y ... no meddling with France, and for surety thereof to make bands or lie such hostages as reasonably shall be thought, and so the continuance of the duke of Albany in Scotland shall be neither profit nor pleasure to the French king.
"And for the sure custody of the king of Scots, out of the suspicious keeping of the said Duke, so that he be in the keeping of Scotchmen, true Scotch lords, they can be contented, upon communication at the up coming of the ambassadors, as shall be devised.
"And if the King's highness be not content with these ways, then his Highness m[ust] see money sent down for payment of his garrison's wages for the next month, [which] beginneth in the hinder end of this month, amounting to the sum of 600l., like as it d[oth] appear in the foot of the declaration in the keeping of Sir John Darcy, knt.; a[nd if] he say that he has not the said declaration, then it is in the keeping of W[m.] Hasilwodd.
"My Lord, inasmuch as it is determined that at the end of the next month my lord Percy for the East and Middle Marches, and I for the West Marches, shall take the charge of them, it shall be more honor to the King that the garrisons be discharged rat[her] in the time of this abstinence than when it is plain war.
"And as for the castle of Warke, which stands in great danger, as is afore specified, and the same being furnished with men and ordnance may do more annoyance [to] the Scots than Berwick, and in mine opinion there can no gun go through the wall of it; therefore I think it good that Master Hert, who is now with the lord of Shrewsbury, be commanded to come in these quarters hastily to see and view as well Berwick, Warke, and this city of Carlisle, as also all along the marches, where I shall bear him company, to the intent that he and I may make certificate to the King's highness and your Grace now at Michaelmas term, the order, form and manner of everything at length, with our opinions on the same, what is best to be done; for 20s. spended in time with provision shall go as far, as well in works as in victuals, as shall 40s. in the time of a necessity when thing must needs be done.
"If my lord Lieutenant had come forward, he should have been deceived of such ordnance as is in Berwick, that was appointed for the field; for when I had caused all the same ordnance to be put in areadiness, and for the expedition and receiving of the same sent mine own cart wheels to Berwick, the captain would not suffer the same ordnance to be taken out of the town, notwithstanding that I showed unto him the article in the King's instructions containing his high pleasure anenst the same, but by his writing ready to be showed he gave answer that he could depart with none, but only a slange of iron, a sacre and two falcons. And the Blessed Trinity preserve your Grace. At Carlisle, the 12th day of September, at four of the clock in the morning.
"Yours with his service,
On communicating the news to the King, the Cardinal broke out into expressions of admiration foreign to his usual habits. He perceived at once the greatness of the advantages thus gained, and the total extinction of that danger which had threatened at one time to defeat the measures on which his thoughts and energies had been concentrated for the last two years. Such a signal success was nothing less than a stroke from Heaven; operatio dextræ Excelsi, as he termed it. (fn. 66) Yet the precedent was dangerous. Dacre had acted entirely on his own responsibility. Shrewsbury, when the news arrived, had disbanded his army without waiting for orders, and had retired sick and weary to his home. The fault was a noble one; fortunate in its results, but a fault still,—felix culpa; and as Henry, jealous of the least neglect, and severe in punishing the slightest contempt of his authority, might not regard it in a favorable light, the Cardinal, with great skill and judgment, endeavored to anticipate and disarm his resentment. After expatiating on the loss it would be to the French king, who reckoned that this invasion of Scotland would "stand him in stead of a great army," he thus proceeds: "Albeit, Sir, this abstinence of war was suddenly taken and agreed unto without your authority or pleasure known, yet I can-not but see it is to be accounted as felix culpa, and that, your Grace being therewith contented, and taking respect to the state of your affairs northwards, many good effects may thereof ensue; and at the least I see no other remedy but that ye must take all that is done in good part, making virtue of necessity. How-beit, to be plain, there hath been too much boldness on your folks' part, as well in taking truce and dis- charging your army without your knowledge, as in the duke of Albany great folly in dissolving so great an army, so sumptuously set forth and advanced, without doing any manner act or exploit, upon a bare abstinence of war, concluded without any commission or authority. Nevertheless, the cause of the premises, as may be conjectured, hath only been, quia trepidaverunt timore ubi non erat timor."
The King appears to have adopted this sensible advice of his minister; for, not long after, Dacre acknowledged a letter of thanks received from the King for the services he had rendered on this occasion. (fn. 67)
Disbanding his army, Albany repaired to Edinburgh, vainly endeavoring, in conjunction with Margaret, to have France comprehended in the truce. If at the head of a powerful army the Duke was unable to carry his point, it was not to be expected that Dacre or Wolsey would listen for a moment to a disagreeable proposal, backed simply by wishes or threats. After a few ineffectual efforts, made probably with a view of excusing his inability and mismanagement to Francis I., he abandoned the attempt. On the 23rd of October the Duke left Edinburgh for Stirling, appointing as regents certain bishops and lords devoted to his interests, and sailed for France from Dumbarton, on Monday, 27th October, promising to return before Assumption Day (Aug. 15), or resign his authority. (fn. 68)
Scotch historians are at a loss to discover an adequate cause for so ignoble a termination of Albany's campaign. At no time in their history, with the exception, perhaps, of the battle of Flodden, had the Scots been able to bring a more numerous or better appointed army into the field; at no time had a more favorable opportunity presented itself for striking a blow at their ancient enemies with such disastrous effect. The English were not only unprepared, but the largest body which Shrewsbury had proposed to detach from his main army to meet the Scots consisted of no more than 20,000 men. Actuated by a narrow spirit of self-interest and self-defence, unwilling to stir from their own country, and leave their homes exposed to the enemy, the Border chiefs, disunited among themselves, delayed to march to the assistance of Dacre. Yet it seems unjust to attribute exclusively to the incapacity and cowardice of Albany an inglorious truce, to which the lords of Scotland were no less a party than himself. Of disunion in their councils, we have no contemporary evidence. The only explanation probable is to be found in the want of adequate support from France. (fn. 69) It appears to me that Albany never intended, from the very first, to venture a battle. Under pretence of menacing the Borders, he was covering his design of negociating with Dacre. By an assumption of warlike demonstrations he saved his credit with the majority of his adherents; perhaps, also, the number and efficiency of his preparations were exaggerated by Dacre, from whose letters the account of them is exclusively derived. Or, after all, he might have been acting on the French maxim, reculer pour mieux sauter.
But, whatever might be the cause, the policy of Albany was fatal to his party and his influence. His adherents, deprived of their chief, were more liable to fall a prey to the intrigues of the English government. It was no longer difficult, by flattery and fair promises, to detach Margaret from the Duke, to inspire her with the intoxicating thought that through her influence alone England had been induced to make its late concessions to Albany, and would be guided exclusively in its conduct towards Scotland by her wishes and her instructions. It was easy for Dacre to insinuate that Albany's presence in Scotland was the only obstacle to the supremacy she coveted so long and so earnestly. His banishment, she was taught to believe, would free her from designs which, courteous in appearance, were intended in reality to deprive her of all authority, and render her dependent on a party unfavorable alike to herself and her son. The design succeeded; and from this period Margaret's letters betray, not only a change in her sentiments towards Albany, but a quivering, restless anxiety to impress upon the Scotch a due sense of that importance which she wished to possess, and always failed to achieve. It is amusing to watch her incessant efforts to invest herself with a factitious dignity in the eyes of her people, and make them believe that she was omnipotent with her powerful brother. She repeatedly urges upon him, in her correspondence, and at this time more frequently than ever, the necessity of letting it be known that his friendship or hostility to Scotland would be determined by her advice and her wishes. She aimed at being the sole mediator between the two countries. By her powerful intercession alone, the sword was to be sheathed or resumed.
But whilst Dacre and Wolsey together assiduously pursued this line of policy towards the Queen, the Car- dinal was preparing measures for isolating Scotland completely from all hope of foreign aid, and, gathering up the undivided power of England, to launch it with full and irresistible effect against its pertinacious foe. The mistakes in the last year's campaign, fortunate as it had proved to England from the folly and incapacity of Albany, had opened Wolsey's eyes to the danger of undertaking two great wars at the same time. He had been taught the necessity of providing a more efficient force than the hasty and reluctant levies of the Borders; he had seen the folly of diminishing the efficiency of those forces by want of promptitude in the payment of their wages, or provision of arms and ammunition. In the previous year he had evidently underrated the strength, activity and importance of his adversary. He had never supposed that Albany would have advanced with an army so large and so well appointed to the very walls of Carlisle and Berwick. Wisely calculating the magnitude of the danger he had so providentially escaped, he resolved never again to run the same hazard, or trust to a similar caprice of fortune. Instead of the sickly earl of Shrewsbury, he pitched upon the earl of Surrey, who had been engaged since 1522 in scouring the Channel, and making descents on the French coasts. There could be no fitter general than Surrey to take the command of the forces against Scotland, for Surrey had seen service in various forms and in different countries. By his influence in the North, by his high rank and family connexions, he was able to exact from the turbulent gentlemen and noblemen of the Borders that obedience and respect they refused to yield to one chosen from among themselves, whatever his merits or his abilities: whilst long experience of office, unblemished reputation as a soldier, and the share he had had in the victory at Flodden, seemed to point out Surrey as qualified above all others for so important and hazardous an employment.
In the choice of such a general Wolsey showed that he did not underrate the magnitude and importance of the struggle. It was the clearest and most convincing evidence of the valor of his opponents, and of the resistance he expected from them. Nor was this all. An enemy so resolute as the Scotch, and animated against England by the strongest national aversion, demanded his undivided energies. But how could this object be obtained? How, with a great continental war upon his hands, could he strike so effectual a blow against the power of the Scotch, that they should never trouble him again? Fortunately the vacillation of the Emperor furnished him with the desired opportunity. From weariness of the war or a desire to enhance his own importance in the eyes of his ally, Charles, at the close of 1522, had desired his ambassadors in England to communicate to Wolsey a copy of certain overtures for a truce which had been submitted to him by the king of France. (fn. 70) Without caring to ascertain how far the offer was sincere, Wolsey perceived his advantage in it. As the king of France had endeavored to extort a truce out of the supposed necessities of England, by means of the duke of Albany, might not his own policy be turned upon the inventor? Might not France be induced, in consequence of its difficulties, to purchase peace at the sacrifice of its confederate? If the negociation succeeded, and Francis, forgetful of his honor, should consent to a truce without comprehending Scotland, then would Scotland be left to the undivided power and vengeance of England; if it failed, yet the discussion of such a proposition would create suspicion in the mind of the Scots, as if the French king valued their alliance only for his own purposes. Accordingly Wolsey instructed the English ambassadors at Valladolid to represent to the Emperor, that a "better and more politic mean" could not be imagined for avoiding superfluous charges,—especially as the Emperor found so much difficulty in making the necessary preparations,—than to condescend to a truce with the king of France for this year; "the same to be no other" than a mere cessation and desisting from hostility, not comprehending the realm of Scotland. If, however, the truce could not be had without the comprehension of Scotland, the King hoped, he said, "so speedily to advance" his enterprises on this side, that the stroke should be struck before the treaty was concluded.
To obviate unfavorable conjectures, if it should be imagined that such a wish had emanated from the King or from the Emperor, Wolsey took the precaution of writing to the Pope; suggesting that his Holiness, who was anxious for the peace of Christendom, should, as of himself, make the necessary proposition to the three powers. To quicken the sluggish resolves of the Emperor, he was given clearly to understand that, in the event of the war being continued, he would be expected to furnish his stipulated quota of men and money; and these Wolsey well knew that Charles would be unwilling or unable to provide. He was to be further informed that he must not expect any extra aid from England, as it was now so busily occupied at home. This is the key of Wolsey's policy towards Scotland;—and this is the meaning of that desire of his for a temporary truce with France, which otherwise seems inexplicable.
It was scarcely to be expected that such an arrangement would be accepted by the Emperor or his council, indifferent to any interests except their own. It was more important, as it was more agreeable, to them, to have the war carried on by England against France, of which they should reap the fruits, than that the powers and resources of England should be expended in an expedition against Scotland, from which they had nothing to fear. In a long memorial addressed to his ambas- sadors, the Emperor endeavored to combat this new proposal of the Cardinal's. He contended for the importance of combined and energetic operations against France now, when that kingdom was entangled in so many difficulties. He was willing, he said, to render assistance, if Henry would carry the war into Guienne, and he had collected for that purpose a million and a half of ducats. But the promises of Charles never corresponded to his performances, and Wolsey was too well aware of the value of his offers to depart from the measures he had resolved to adopt.
By Dacre's arrangement, the truce with Scotland had been prorogued from month to month only, and the last prorogation had expired. The option of extending it remained with England; the lords of Scotland desired a further prorogation; but Wolsey had other intentions. On February 26th, the earl of Surrey was appointed lieutenant-general of the army against Scotland, and commissions for musters were sent into all the northern counties. (fn. 71)
The earl arrived at Newcastle on the 10th of April, intending to fix his head quarters at Berwick. And now the same brutal and indiscriminate warfare was transferred to Scotland which the year before had marked the invasion of France. The country was devastated by incessant and furious inroads; Eccles, Ednam, Stichell, Kelso, and the whole track as far as Makerston, were given to the sword. At Eccles the invaders were met by a convent of nuns, who surrendered the keys of the abbey, with a promise to cast down in a few days their walls and defences; if they failed, as Dacre informed Surrey, Sir William Bulmer was prepared to burn their abbey about their ears;—so little respect was shown to the weak, the innocent and the sacred in these terrible wars. From Home Castle to Dunse, and all along the East border, from Roxburgh and Kelso, between the Tweed and the Teviot, southward to Jedburgh, and Ferniehurst, the whole country was a smoking waste.
Should Albany arrive, wrote Wolsey on the 30th August, to the English ambassadors with the Emperor, all Teviotdale and the March have been so destroyed, "that there is left neither house, fortress, village, tree, cattle, corn or other succor for man; insomuch as some of the people which fled from the same, and afterwards returned, finding no sustentation, were compelled to come into England, begging bread, which oftentimes when they eat, they die incontinently for the hunger passed; and with no imprisonment, cutting of their ears, burning them in the face, or otherwise, can be kept away. Such is the punishment of Almighty God to those that be the disturbers of good peace, rest and quiet in Christendom." (fn. 72)
The language of Dacre is not less terrible: "If these raids are done well," he exclaims, in a tone of triumph, (fn. 73) "2,000 of the garrison may be discharged, and 1,000 only remain on the borders." By such solitude it was hoped that no troops would be required, and the King's treasure spared:—whilst a desert, more impassable than the sea, more sterile than its shore, would thus be interposed between Scotland and England. But, adds Dacre, "the captains must be told to command their retinues to burn, or they will not take the trouble to do it." Undeterred by the horror or uncertainty of border frays, some of the more sanguine or thrifty inhabitants of the Scottish borders had protected their poor dwellings with a more durable covering than the ordinary thatch. Such precautions defied the sloth or mischief of the soldiers, and Dacre desired to be furnished with 300 sixpenny axes, for distribution among his captains, as a more effectual instrument for the work of destruction.
Meanwhile, the Scotch lords, divided among themselves, and left, by the absence of Albany, without any central authority, could form no general plan of action, nor agree upon any effectual method of resistance. The commons, stung with resentment for sufferings which they had done nothing to provoke and could do nothing to prevent, turned their anger against the French and the terrified adherents of the duke of Albany. Denounced as the authors of all these miseries, the unhappy foreigners would have fallen victims to the fury of the populace, had they not anticipated its vengeance by retreating into the castle of Dunbar with all their artillery. (fn. 74)
"The King has heard," says Wolsey in a letter to Dacre, "from the Friars Observants, who have returned into Scotland, that the Scotch, perceiving how they are deluded by the French faction, are beginning to alter their minds. The French have retired to the castle of Dunbar, where they have most of their artillery, living in great dread and fear of themselves, and doubting to be served as La Batie was,"—that is, massacred. He suggests to Dacre, that if any man of note would attempt the enterprise,—that is, fall upon the French, as the Homes had cut off La Batie,—and would undertake to hang the bell about the cat's neck, Albany's faction might be "briefly extincted." (fn. 75)
It is not needful to translate these expressions into plainer English. The Scots were enemies; they were "weasels," and were therefore to be hunted down with as little compunction as vermin. Who can doubt it? The dictates of humanity were out of the question.