« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
XXIV. THE ROSES UNITED.
Cousin of Buckingham,-and sage grave men,-
EDWARD IV. left two sons, Edward Prince of Wales, now king Edward V., and Richard Duke of York. They were both children ; the eldest was not more than twelve years of age. Edward V. was of course too young to govern alone; and his uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester, was therefore chosen protector. You may suppose, from what you have already heard, that Richard was not likely to prove a VOL. II.
very kind friend or protector to his little nephew. His only desire was to forward his own ambitious views—not to support Edward. He wished to be king; but as not merely the two young princes, but also the children of his eldest brother Clarence stood in his way to the throne, it was only through injustice and blood-shed that the Duke of Gloucester could expect to attain the object of his ambition. We have already met with many instances of the crown being gained by such means ; and Richard will add one more to the list of those who were so wicked, and so foolish too, as to sacrifice their peace of conscience, their true happiness here, and, awful thought! their eternal happiness hereafter, for the accomplishment of their vain schemes of ambition.
Richard began by ordering the arrest and execution of several persons who might have been dangerous to his interests; and in these acts he was advised and assisted by two noblemen, by name, Lord Hastings and the Duke of Buckingham. But there were others who must be removed, in some way or other, for the accomplishment of his purposes; particularly the young king himself, and his little brother ; and it was needful, for Richard's success, to find out whether Hastings and Buckingham would sanction him in this matter also. There was some doubt about Lord
Hastings; and on enquiry, Richard discovered that he was still a firm supporter of the interests of the two princes. Richard therefore determined upon the death of Hastings ; and without bringing him to trial, upon any wellfounded accusation against him, he laid his plan, appointed the executioners, and caused the unfortunate nobleman to be seized while sitting in council in the tower, carried away into the court, and then immediately beheaded upon a log of wood. The excuse which he made to the people for this unjust proceeding was, that Lord Hastings had been suddenly discovered guilty of certain crimes, and that his instant execution was necessary.
And now that another impediment was removed, Richard thought bis way to the throne was almost clear. Buckingham was on his side ; he was aware of Richard's aim and intentions, and quite disposed to assist him; not indeed from true friendship,--that could not be between two such men and for such a
purpose,-but for the furtherance of selfish views of his own. So it was arranged, that, in an assembly of the citizens of London, Buckingham should make a speech, and declare Richard's title to the crown, and talk of his virtues, and his powers, and his talents, and so work upon the feelings of the multitude as to induce them to accept him as their king. All this
was done ; and though the people in general were not so easily deluded into a belief of the just claims of the Duke of Gloucester as he had expected, yet a few voices were heard in the crowd crying, “ God save king Richard." ” This Buckingham thought quite sufficient; so he hastened to the Duke to tell him of the success of their scheme thus far, and to prepare for the next act of it,--the offer of the crown.
At first, Richard pretended modestly to refuse this offer; he spoke of young Edward as the rightful heir ; and exhorted the people to obey him. But then Buckingham declared, that if the Duke of Gloucester would not accept the crown, another king, and not Edward, would be chosen ; and so at last after a great deal of hesitation and persuasion, which had all been planned before-hand by himself and the Duke of Buckingham, Richard was prevailed upon to be king; and he accepted the honour, much in the hypocritical way represented in that supposed speech of his which you read at the head of this chapter. So now Richard had his will he was king. But could he enjoy the honour with any thing like peace of mind ? No; not while his little nephews were living; for they might rise up in his way, and oppose him even now; and therefore he determined to do-what? Actually to kill them :-young and innocent as those