The King was not displeased with his squire's sturdiness, but made him a knight, gave him a pension of 500l. a year, and desired him to surrender his prisoner to the Queen, as his own representative. This was accordingly done, and King David was lodged in the Tower of London. Soon after, three days before All Saint's Day, there was a large and gay fleet to be seen crossing from the white cliffs of Dover, and the King, his son, and his knights rode down to the landing place to welcome plump, fair haired Queen Philippa, and all her train of ladies, who had come in great numbers to visit their husbands, fathers, or brothers in the wooden town.
Then there was a great Court, and numerous feasts and dances, and the knights and squires were constantly striving who could do the bravest deed of prowess to please the ladies. The King of France had placed numerous knights and men-at-arms in the neighboring towns and castles, and there were constant fights whenever the English went out foraging, and many bold deeds that were much admired were done. The great point was to keep provisions out of the town, and there was much fighting between the French who tried to bring in supplies, and the English who intercepted them. Very little was brought in by land, and Sir Jean de Vienne and his garrison would have been quite starved but for two sailors of Abbeville, named Marant and Mestriel, who knew the coast thoroughly, and often, in the dark autumn evenings, would guide in a whole fleet of little boats, loaded with bread and meat for the starving men within the city. They were often chased by King Edward's vessels, and were sometimes very nearly taken, but they always managed to escape, and thus they still enabled the garrison to hold out.
So all the winter passed, Christmas was kept with brilliant feastings and high merriment by the King and his Queen in their wooden palace outside, and with lean cheeks and scanty fare by the besieged within. Lent was strictly observed perforce by the besieged, and Easter brought a betrothal in the English camp; a very unwilling one on the part of the bridegroom, the young Count of Flanders, who loved the French much better than the English, and had only been tormented into giving his consent by his unruly vassals because they depended on the wool of English sheep for their cloth works. So, though King Edward's daughter Isabel was a beautiful fair-haired girl of fifteen, the young Count would scarcely look at her; and in the last week before the marriage day, while her robes and her jewels were being prepared, and her father and mother were arranging the presents they should make to all their Court on the wedding day, the bridegroom, when out hawking, gave his attendants the slip, and galloped off to Paris, where he was welcomed by King Philippe.
This made Edward very wrathful, and more than ever determined to take Calais. About Whitsuntide he completed a great wooden castle upon the seashore, and placed in it numerous warlike engines, with forty men-at- arms and 200 archers, who kept such a watch upon the harbour that not even the two Abbeville sailors could enter it, without having their boats crushed and sunk by the great stones that the mangonels launched upon them. The townspeople began to feel what hunger really was, but their spirits were kept up by the hope that their King was at last collecting an army for their rescue.
And Philippe did collect all his forces, a great and noble army, and came one night to the hill of Sangate, just behind the English army, the knights' armor glancing and their pennons flying in the moonlight, so as to be a beautiful sight to the hungry garrison who could see the white tents pitched upon the hillside. Still there were but two roads by which the French could reach their friends in the town—one along the seacoast, the other by a marshy road higher up the country, and there was but one bridge by which the river could be crossed. The English King's fleet could prevent any troops from passing along the coast road, the Earl of Derby guarded the bridge, and there was a great tower, strongly fortified, close upon Calais. There were a few skirmishes, but the French King, finding it difficult to force his way to relieve the town, sent a party of knights with a challenge to King Edward to come out of his camp and do battle upon a fair field.
To this Edward made answer, that he had been nearly a year before Calais, and had spent large sums of money on the siege, and that he had nearly become master of the place, so that he had no intention of coming out only to gratify his adversary, who must try some other road if he could not make his way in by that before him.
Three days were spent in parleys, and then, without the slightest effort to rescue the brave, patient men within the town, away went King Philippe of France, with all his men, and the garrison saw the host that had crowded the hill of Sangate melt away like a summer cloud.
August had come again, and they had suffered privation for a whole year for the sake of the King who deserted them at their utmost need. They were in so grievous a state of hunger and distress that the hardiest could endure no more, for ever since Whitsuntide no fresh provisions had reached them. The Governor, therefore, went to the battlements and made signs that he wished to hold a parley, and the King appointed Lord Basset and Sir Walter Mauny to meet him, and appoint the terms of surrender.
The Governor owned that the garrison was reduced to the greatest extremity of distress, and requested that the King would be contented with obtaining the city and fortress, leaving the soldiers and inhabitants to depart in peace.
But Sir Walter Mauny was forced to make answer that the King, his lord, was so much enraged at the delay and expense that Calais had cost him, that he would only consent to receive the whole on unconditional terms, leaving him free to slay, or to ransom, or make prisoners whomsoever he pleased, and he was known to consider that there was a heavy reckoning to pay, both for the trouble the siege had cost him and the damage the Calesians had previously done to his ships.
The brave answer was: 'These conditions are too hard for us. We are but a small number of knights and squires, who have loyally served our lord and master as you would have done, and have suffered much ill and disquiet, but we will endure far more than any man has done in such a post, before we consent that the smallest boy in the town shall fare worse than ourselves. I therefore entreat you, for pity's sake, to return to the King and beg him to have compassion, for I have such an opinion of his gallantry that I think he will alter his mind.'
The King's mind seemed, however, sternly made up; and all that Sir Walter Mauny and the barons of the council could obtain from him was that he would pardon the garrison and townsmen on condition that six of the chief citizens should present themselves to him, coming forth with bare feet and heads, with halters round their necks, carrying the keys of the town, and becoming absolutely his own to punish for their obstinacy as he should think fit.
On hearing this reply, Sir Jean de Vienne begged Sir Walter Mauny to wait till he could consult the citizens, and, repairing to the marketplace, he caused a great bell to be rung, at sound of which all the inhabitants came together in the town hall. When he told them of these hard terms he could not refrain from weeping bitterly, and wailing and lamentation arose all round him. Should all starve together, or sacrifice their best and most honored after all suffering in common so long?
Then a voice was heard; it was that of the richest burgher in the town, Eustache de St. Pierre. 'Messieurs high and low,' he said, 'it would be a sad pity to suffer so many people to die through hunger, if it could be prevented; and to hinder it would be meritorious in the eyes of our Saviour. I have such faith and trust in finding grace before God, if I die to save my townsmen, that I name myself as the first of the six.'
As the burgher ceased, his fellow townsmen wept aloud, and many, amid tears and groans, threw themselves at his feet in a transport of grief and gratitude. Another citizen, very rich and respected, rose up and said, 'I will be second to my comrade, Eustache.' His name was Jean Daire. After him, Jacques Wissant, another very rich man, offered himself as companion to these, who were both his cousins; and his brother Pierre would not be left behind: and two more, unnamed, made up this gallant band of men willing to offer their lives for the rescue of their fellow townsmen.
Sir Jean de Vienne mounted a little horse—for he had been wounded, and was still lame—and came to the gate with them, followed by all the people of the town, weeping and wailing, yet, for their own sakes and their children's not daring to prevent the sacrifice. The gates were opened, the governor and the six passed out, and the gates were again shut behind them. Sir Jean then rode up to Sir Walter Mauny, and told him how these burghers had voluntarily offered themselves, begging him to do all in his power to save them; and Sir Walter promised with his whole heart to plead their cause. De Vienne then went back into the town, full of heaviness and anxiety; and the six citizens were led by Sir Walter to the presence of the King, in his full Court. They all knelt down, and the foremost said: 'Most gallant King, you see before you six burghers of Calais, who have all been capital merchants, and who bring you the keys of the castle and town. We yield ourselves to your absolute will and pleasure, in order to save the remainder of the inhabitants of Calais, who have suffered much distress and misery. Condescend, therefore, out of your nobleness of mind, to have pity on us.'
Strong emotion was excited among all the barons and knights who stood round, as they saw the resigned countenances, pale and thin with patiently endured hunger, of these venerable men, offering themselves in the cause of their fellow townsmen. Many tears of pity were shed; but the King still showed himself implacable, and commanded that they should be led away, and their heads stricken off. Sir Walter Mauny interceded for them with all his might, even telling the King that such an execution would tarnish his honor, and that reprisals would be made on his own garrisons; and all the nobles joined in entreating pardon for the citizens, but still without effect; and the headsman had been actually sent for, when Queen Philippa, her eyes streaming with tears, threw herself on her knees amongst the captives, and said, 'Ah, gentle sir, since I have crossed the sea, with much danger, to see you, I have never asked you one favor; now I beg as a boon to myself, for the sake of the Son of the Blessed Mary, and for your love to me, that you will be merciful to these men!'
For some time the King looked at her in silence; then he exclaimed: 'Dame, dame, would that you had been anywhere than here! You have entreated in such a manner that I cannot refuse you; I therefore give these men to you, to do as you please with.'
Joyfully did Queen Philippa conduct the six citizens to her own apartments, where she made them welcome, sent them new garments, entertained them with a plentiful dinner, and dismissed them each with a gift of six nobles. After this, Sir Walter Mauny entered the city, and took possession of it; retaining Sir Jean de Vienne and the other knights and squires till they should ransom themselves, and sending out the old French inhabitants; for the King was resolved to people the city entirely of English, in order to gain a thoroughly strong hold of this first step in France.
The King and Queen took up their abode in the city; and the houses of Jean Daire were, it appears, granted to the Queen—perhaps, because she considered the man himself as her charge, and wished to secure them for him—and her little daughter Margaret was, shortly after, born in one of his houses. Eustache de St. Pierre was taken into high favor, and placed in charge of the new citizens whom the King placed in the city.
Indeed, as this story is told by no chronicler but Froissart, some have doubted of it, and thought the violent resentment thus imputed to Edward III inconsistent with his general character; but it is evident that the men of Calais had given him strong provocation by attacks on his shipping—piracies which are not easily forgiven—and that he considered that he had a right to make an example of them. It is not unlikely that he might, after all, have intended to forgive them, and have given the Queen the grace of obtaining their pardon, so as to excuse himself from the fulfillment of some over-hasty threat. But, however this may have been, nothing can lessen the glory of the six grave and patient men who went forth, by their own free will, to meet what might be a cruel and disgraceful death, in order to obtain the safety of their fellow- townsmen.
Very recently, in the summer of 1864, an instance has occurred of self- devotion worthy to be recorded with that of Eustache de St. Pierre. The City of Palmyra, in Tennessee, one of the Southern States of America, had been occupied by a Federal army. An officer of this army was assassinated, and, on the cruel and mistaken system of taking reprisals, the general arrested ten of the principal inhabitants, and condemned them to be shot, as deeming the city responsible for the lives of his officers. One of them was the highly respected father of a large family, and could ill be spared. A young man, not related to him, upon this, came forward and insisted on being taken in his stead, as a less valuable life. And great as was the distress of his friend, this generous substitution was carried out, and not only spared a father to his children, but showed how the sharpest strokes of barbarity can still elicit light from the dark stone—light that but for these blows might have slept unseen.
THE BATTLE OF SEMPACH
Nothing in history has been more remarkable than the union of the cantons and cities of the little republic of Switzerland. Of differing races, languages, and, latterly, even religions—unlike in habits, tastes, opinions and costumes—they have, however, been held together, as it were, by pressure from without, and one spirit of patriotism has kept the little mountain republic complete for five hundred years.
Originally the lands were fiefs of the Holy Roman Empire, the city municipalities owning the Emperor for their lord, and the great family of Hapsburg, in whom the Empire became at length hereditary, was in reality Swiss, the county that gave them title lying in the canton of Aargau. Rodolf of Hapsburg was elected leader of the burghers of Zurich, long before he was chosen to the Empire; and he continued a Swiss in heart, retaining his mountaineer's open simplicity and honesty to the end of his life. Privileges were granted by him to the cities and the nobles, and the country was loyal and prosperous in his reign.
His son Albert, the same who was slain by his nephew Johann, as before- mentioned, permitted those tyrannies of his bailiffs which goaded the Swiss to their celebrated revolt, and commenced the long series of wars with the House of Hapsburgor, as it was now termed, of Austria—which finally established their independence.
On the one side, the Dukes of Austria and their ponderous German chivalry wanted to reduce the cantons and cities to vassalage, not to the Imperial Crown, a distant and scarcely felt obligation, but to the Duchy of Austria; on the other, the hardy mountain peasants and stout burghers well knew their true position, and were aware that to admit the Austrian usurpation would expose their young men to be drawn upon for the Duke's wars, cause their property to be subject to perpetual rapacious exactions, and fill their hills with castles for ducal bailiffs, who would be little better than licensed robbers. No wonder, then, that the generations of William Tell and Arnold Melchthal bequeathed a resolute purpose of resistance to their descendants.
It was in 1397, ninety years since the first assertion of Swiss independence, when Leopold the Handsome, Duke of Austria, a bold but misproud and violent prince, involved himself in one of the constant quarrels with the Swiss that were always arising on account of the insulting exactions of toll and tribute in the Austrian border cities. A sharp war broke out, and the Swiss city of Lucerne took the opportunity of destroying the Austrian castle of Rothemburg, where the tolls had been particularly vexatious, and of admitting to their league the cities of Sempach and Richensee.
Leopold and all the neighboring nobles united their forces. Hatred and contempt of the Swiss, as low-born and presumptuous, spurred them on; and twenty messengers reached the Duke in one day, with promises of support, in his march against Sempach and Lucerne. He had sent a large force in the direction of Zurich with Johann Bonstetten, and advanced himself with 4,000 horse and 1,400 foot upon Sempach. Zurich undertook its own defense, and the Forest cantons sent their brave peasants to the support of Lucerne and Sempach, but only to the number of 1,300, who, on the 9th of July, took post in the woods around the little lake of Sempach.
Meanwhile, Leopold's troops rode round the walls of the little city, insulting the inhabitants, one holding up a halter, which he said was for the chief magistrate; and another, pointing to the reckless waste that his comrades were perpetrating on the fields, shouted, 'Send a breakfast to the reapers.' The burgomaster pointed to the wood where his allies lay hid, and answered, 'My masters of Lucerne and their friends will bring it.'
The story of that day was told by one of the burghers who fought in the ranks of Lucerne, a shoemaker, named Albert Tchudi, who was both a brave warrior and a master-singer; and as his ballad was translated by another master-singer, Sir Walter Scott, and is the spirited record of an eyewitness, we will quote from him some of his descriptions of the battle and its golden deed.
The Duke's wiser friends proposed to wait till he could be joined by Bonstetten and the troops who had gone towards Zurich, and the Baron von Hasenburg (i.e. hare-rock) strongly urged this prudent counsel; but—
'O, Hare-Castle, thou heart of hare!' Fierce Oxenstiern he cried, 'Shalt see then how the game will fare,' The taunted knight replied.'
'This very noon,' said the younger knight to the Duke, 'we will deliver up to you this handful of villains.'
'And thus they to each other said, 'Yon handful down to hew Will be no boastful tale to tell The peasants are so few.'
Characteristically enough, the doughty cobbler describes how the first execution that took place was the lopping off the long-peaked toes of the boots that the gentlemen wore chained to their knees, and which would have impeded them on foot; since it had been decided that the horses were too much tired to be serviceable in the action.
'There was lacing then of helmets bright, And closing ranks amain, The peaks they hewed from their boot points Might well nigh load a wain.'
They were drawn up in a solid compact body, presenting an unbroken line of spears, projecting beyond the wall of gay shields and polished impenetrable armor.
The Swiss were not only few in number, but armor was scarce among them; some had only boards fastened on their arms by way of shields, some had halberts, which had been used by their fathers at the battle of Morgarten, others two-handed swords and battleaxes. They drew themselves up in the form of a wedge and
'The gallant Swiss confederates then They prayed to God aloud, And He displayed His rainbow fair, Against a swarthy cloud.'
Then they rushed upon the serried spears, but in vain. 'The game was nothing sweet.'
The banner of Lucerne was in the utmost danger, the Landamman was slain, and sixty of his men, and not an Austrian had been wounded. The flanks of the Austrian host began to advance so as to enclose the small peasant force, and involve it in irremediable destruction. A moment of dismay and stillness ensued. Then Arnold von Winkelried of Unterwalden, with an eagle glance saw the only means of saving his country, and, with the decision of a man who dares by dying to do all things, shouted aloud: 'I will open a passage.'
'I have a virtuous wife at home, A wife and infant son: I leave them to my country's care, The field shall yet be won!' He rushed against the Austrian band In desperate career, And with his body, breast, and hand, Bore down each hostile spear; Four lances splintered on his crest, Six shivered in his side, Still on the serried files he pressed, He broke their ranks and died!'
The very weight of the desperate charge of this self-devoted man opened a breach in the line of spears. In rushed the Swiss wedge, and the weight of the nobles' armor and length of their spears was only encumbering. They began to fall before the Swiss blows, and Duke Leopold was urged to fly. 'I had rather die honorably than live with dishonor,' he said. He saw his standard bearer struck to the ground, and seizing his banner from his hand, waved it over his head, and threw himself among the thickest of the foe. His corpse was found amid a heap of slain, and no less then 2000 of his companions perished with him, of whom a third are said to have been counts, barons and knights.
'Then lost was banner, spear and shield At Sempach in the flight; The cloister vaults at Konigsfeldt Hold many an Austrian knight.'
The Swiss only lost 200; but, as they were spent with the excessive heat of the July sun, they did not pursue their enemies. They gave thanks on the battlefield to the God of victories, and the next day buried the dead, carrying Duke Leopold and twenty-seven of his most illustrious companions to the Abbey of Konigsfeldt, where they buried him in the old tomb of his forefathers, the lords of Aargau, who had been laid there in the good old times, before the house of Hapsburg had grown arrogant with success.
As to the master-singer, he tells us of himself that
'A merry man was he, I wot, The night he made the lay, Returning from the bloody spot, Where God had judged the day.'
On every 9th of July subsequently, the people of the country have been wont to assemble on the battlefield, around four stone crosses which mark the spot. A priest from a pulpit in the open air gives a thanksgiving sermon on the victory that ensured the freedom of Switzerland, and another reads the narrative of the battle, and the roll of the brave 200, who, after Winkelried's example, gave their lives in the cause. All this is in the face of the mountains and the lake now lying in summer stillness, and the harvest fields whose crops are secure from marauders, and the congregation then proceed to the small chapel, the walls of which are painted with the deed of Arnold von Winkelried, and the other distinguished achievements of the confederates, and masses are sung for the souls of those who were slain. No wonder that men thus nurtured in the memory of such actions were, even to the fall of the French monarchy, among the most trustworthy soldiery of Europe.
THE CONSTANT PRINCE
The illustrious days of Portugal were during the century and a half of the dynasty termed the House of Aviz, because its founder, Dom Joao I. had been grand master of the military order of Aviz.
His right to the throne was questionable, or more truly null, and he had only obtained the crown from the desire of the nation to be independent of Castile, and by the assistance of our own John of Gaunt, whose daughter, Philippa of Lancaster, became his wife, thus connecting the glories of his line with our own house of Plantagenet.
Philippa was greatly beloved in Portugal, and was a most noble-minded woman, who infused her own spirit into her children. She had five sons, and when they all had attained an age to be admitted to the order of knighthood, their father proposed to give a grand tournament in which they might evince their prowess. This, however, seemed but play to the high-spirited youths, who had no doubt fed upon the story of the manner in which their uncle, the Black Prince, whose name was borne by the eldest, had won his spurs at Crecy. Their entreaty was, not to be carpet—knights dubbed in time of peace, and King Joao on the other hand objected to entering on a war merely for the sake of knighting his sons. At last Dom Fernando, the youngest of the brothers, a lad of fourteen, proposed that their knighthood should be earned by an expedition to take Ceuta from the Moors. A war with the infidel never came amiss, and was in fact regarded as a sacred duty; moreover, Ceuta was a nest of corsairs who infested the whole Mediterranean coast. Up to the nineteenth century the seaports along the African coast of the Mediterranean were the hives of pirates, whose small rapid vessels were the terror of every unarmed ship that sailed in those waters, and whose descents upon the coasts of Spain, France, and Italy rendered life and property constantly insecure. A regular system of kidnapping prevailed; prisoners had their fixed price, and were carried off to labour in the African dockyards, or to be chained to the benches of the Moorish ships which their oars propelled, until either a ransom could be procured from their friends, or they could be persuaded to become renegades, or death put an end to their sufferings. A captivity among the Moors was by no means an uncommon circumstance even in the lives of Englishmen down to the eighteenth century, and pious persons frequently bequeathed sums of money for the ransom of the poorer captives.
Ceuta, perched upon the southern Pillar of Hercules, was one of the most perilous of these dens of robbery, and to seize it might well appear a worthy action, not only to the fiery princes, but to their cautious father. He kept his designs absolutely secret, and contrived to obtain a plan of the town by causing one of his vessels to put in there as in quest of provisions, while, to cover his preparations for war, he sent a public challenge to the Count of Holland, and a secret message at the same time, with the assurance that it was only a blind. These proceedings were certainly underhand, and partook of treachery; but they were probably excused in the King's own mind by the notion, that no faith was to be kept with unbelievers, and, moreover, such people as the Ceutans were likely never to be wanting in the supply of pretexts for attack.
Just as all was ready, the plague broke out in Lisbon, and the Queen fell sick of it. Her husband would not leave her, and just before her death she sent for all her sons, and gave to each a sword, charging them to defend the widow and orphan, and to fight against the infidel. In the full freshness of their sorrow, the King and his sons set sail from the Bay of Lagos, in the August of 1415, with 59 galleys, 33 ships of war, and 120 transports; the largest fleet ever yet sent forth by the little kingdom, and the first that had left a Peninsular port with the banners and streamers of which the more northern armaments were so profuse.
The governor of Ceuta, Zala ben Zala, was not unprepared for the attack, and had collected 5,000 allies to resist the Christians; but a great storm having dispersed the fleet on the first day of its appearance, he thought the danger over, and dismissed his friends On the 14th August, however, the whole fleet again appeared, and the King, in a little boat, directed the landing of his men, led by his sons, the Infantes Duarte and Henrique. The Moors gave way before them, and they entered the city with 500 men, among the flying enemy, and there, after a period of much danger, were joined by their brother Pedro. The three fought their way to a mosque, where they defended themselves till the King with the rest of his army made their way in. Zala ben Zala fled to the citadel, but, after one assault, quitted it in the night.
The Christian captives were released, the mosque purified and consecrated as a cathedral, a bishop was appointed, and the King gave the government of the place to Dom Pedro de Menezes, a knight of such known fidelity that the King would not suffer him to take the oath of allegiance. An attempt was made by the Moors four years later to recover the place; but the Infantes Pedro and Henrique hurried from Portugal to succor Menezes, and drove back the besiegers; whereupon the Moors murdered their King, Abu Sayd, on whom they laid the blame of the disaster.
On the very day, eighteen years later, of the taking of Ceuta, King Joao died of the plague at Lisbon, on the 14th of August, 1433. Duarte came to the throne; and, a few months after, his young brother, Fernando, persuaded him into fitting out another expedition to Africa, of which Tangier should be the object.
Duarte doubted of the justice of the war, and referred the question to the Pope, who decided against it; but the answer came too late, the preparations were made, and the Infantes Henrique and Fernando took the command. Henrique was a most enlightened prince, a great mathematician and naval discoverer, but he does not appear to have made good use of his abilities on the present occasion; for, on arriving at Ceuta, and reviewing the troops, they proved to have but 8,000, instead of 14,000, as they had intended. Still they proceeded, Henrique by land and Fernando by sea, and laid siege to Tangier, which was defended by their old enemy, Zala ben Zala. Everything was against them; their scaling ladders were too short to reach to the top of the walls, and the Moors had time to collect in enormous numbers for the relief of the city, under the command of the kings of Fez and Morocco.
The little Christian army was caught as in a net, and, after a day's hard fighting, saw the necessity of re-embarking. All was arranged for this to be done at night; but a vile traitor, chaplain to the army, passed over to the Moors, and revealed their intention. The beach was guarded, and the retreat cut off. Another day of fighting passed, and at night hunger reduced them to eating their horses.
It was necessary to come to terms, and messengers were sent to treat with the two kings. The only terms on which the army could be allowed to depart were that one of the Infantes should remain as a hostage for the delivery of Ceuta to the Moors. For this purpose Fernando offered himself, though it was exceedingly doubtful whether Ceuta would be restored; and the Spanish poet, Calderon, puts into his mouth a generous message to his brother the King, that they both were Christian princes, and that his liberty was not to be weighed in the scale with their father's fairest conquest.
Henrique was forced thus to leave his brave brother, and return with the remnants of his army to Ceuta, where he fell sick with grief and vexation. He sent the fleet home; but it met with a great storm, and many vessels were driven on the coast of Andalusia, where, by orders of the King, the battered sailors and defeated soldiers were most kindly and generously treated.
Dom Duarte, having in the meantime found out with how insufficient an army his brothers had been sent forth, had equipped a fresh fleet, the arrival of which at Ceuta cheered Henrique with hope of rescuing his brother; but it was soon followed by express orders from the King that Henrique should give up all such projects and return home. He was obliged to comply, but, unable to look Duarte in the face, he retired to his own estates at the Algarve.
Duarte convoked the States-general of the kingdom, to consider whether Ceuta should be yielded to purchase his brother's freedom. They decided that the place was too important to be parted with, but undertook to raise any sum of money for the ransom; and if this were not accepted, proposed to ask the Pope to proclaim a crusade for his rescue.
At first Fernando was treated well, and kept at Tangier as an honorable prisoner; but disappointment enraged the Moors, and he was thrown into a dungeon, starved, and maltreated. All this usage he endured with the utmost calmness and resolution, and could by no means be threatened into entreating for liberty to be won at the cost of the now Christian city where his knighthood had been won.
His brother Duarte meantime endeavored to raise the country for his deliverance; but the plague was still desolating Portugal, so that it was impossible to collect an army, and the infection at length seized on the King himself, from a letter which he incautiously opened, and he died, in his thirty-eighth year, in 1438, the sixth year of his reign and the second of his brother's captivity. His successor, Affonso V., was a child of six years old, and quarrels and disputes between the Queen Mother and the Infante Dom Pedro rendered the chance of redeeming the captivity of Fernando less and less.
The King of Castille, and even the Moorish King of Granada, shocked at his sufferings and touched by his constancy, proposed to unite their forces against Tangier for his deliverance; but the effect of this was that Zala ben Zala made him over to Muley Xeques, the King of Fez, by whom he was thrown into a dungeon without light or air. After a time, he was brought back to daylight, but only to toil among the other Christian slaves, to whom he was a model of patience, resignation, and kindness. Even his enemies became struck with admiration of his high qualities, and the King of Fez declared that he even deserved to be a Mahometan!
At last, in 1443, Fernando's captivity ended, but only by his death. Muley Xeque caused a tall tower to be erected on his tomb, in memory of the victory of Tangier; but in 1473, two sons of Muley being made prisoners by the Portuguese, one was ransomed for the body of Dom Fernando, who was then solemnly laid in the vaults of the beautiful Abbey of Batalha on the field of Aljubarota, which had given his father the throne. Universal honor attended the name of the Constant Prince, the Portuguese Regulus; and seldom as the Spanish admire anything Portuguese, a fine drama of the poet Calderon is founded upon that noble spirit which preferred dreary captivity to the yielding up his father's conquest to the enemies of his country and religion. Nor was this constancy thrown away; Ceuta remained a Christian city. It was held by Portugal till the house of Aviz was extinguished in Dom Sebastiao, and since that time has belonged to the crown of Spain.
THE CARNIVAL OF PERTH
It was bedtime, and the old vaulted chambers of the Dominican monastery at Perth echoed with sounds that would seem incongruous in such a home of austerity, but that the disturbed state of Scotland rendered it the habit of her kings to attach their palaces to convents, that they themselves might benefit by the 'peace of the Church', which was in general accorded to all sacred spots.
Thus it was that Christmas and Carnival time of 1435-6 had been spent by the Court in the cloisters of Perth, and the dance, the song, and the tourney had strangely contrasted with the grave and self-denying habits to which the Dominicans were devoted in their neighboring cells. The festive season was nearly at an end, for it was the 20th of February; but the evening had been more than usually gay, and had been spent in games at chess, tables, or backgammon, reading romances of chivalry, harping, and singing. King James himself, brave and handsome, and in the prime of life, was the blithest of the whole joyous party. He was the most accomplished man in his dominions; for though he had been basely kept a prisoner at Windsor throughout his boyhood by Henry IV of England, an education had been bestowed on him far above what he would have otherwise obtained; and he was naturally a man of great ability, refinement, and strength of character. Not only was he a perfect knight on horseback, but in wrestling and running, throwing the hammer, and 'putting the stane', he had scarcely a rival, and he was skilled in all the learned lore of the time, wrote poetry, composed music both sacred and profane, and was a complete minstrel, able to sing beautifully and to play on the harp and organ. His Queen, the beautiful Joan Beaufort, had been the lady of his minstrelsy in the days of his captivity, ever since he had watched her walking on the slopes of Windsor Park, and wooed her in verses that are still preserved. They had now been eleven years married, and their Court was one bright spot of civilization, refinement, and grace, amid the savagery of Scotland. And now, after the pleasant social evening, the Queen, with her long fair hair unbound, was sitting under the hands of her tire-women, who were preparing her for the nights rest; and the King, in his furred nightgown, was standing before the bright fire on the hearth of the wide chimney, laughing and talking with the attendant ladies.
Yet dark hints had already been whispered, which might have cast a shadow over that careless mirth. Always fierce and vindictive, the Scots had been growing more and more lawless and savage ever since the disputed succession of Bruce and Balliol had unsettled all royal authority, and led to one perpetual war with the English. The twenty years of James's captivity had been the worst of all—almost every noble was a robber chief; Scottish Borderer preyed upon English Borderer, Highlander upon Lowlander, knight upon traveler, everyone who had armor upon him who had not; each clan was at deadly feud with its neighbour; blood was shed like water from end to end of the miserable land, and the higher the birth of the offender the greater the impunity he claimed.
Indeed, James himself had been brought next to the throne by one of the most savage and horrible murders ever perpetrated—that of his elder brother, David, by his own uncle; and he himself had probably been only saved from sharing the like fate by being sent out of the kingdom. His earnest words on his return to take the rule of this unhappy realm were these: 'Let God but grant me life, and there shall not be a spot in my realm where the key shall not keep the castle, and the bracken bush the cow, though I should lead the life of a dog to accomplish it.'
This great purpose had been before James through the eleven years of his reign, and he had worked it out resolutely. The lawless nobles would not brook his ruling hand, and strong and bitter was the hatred that had arisen against him. In many of his transactions he was far from blameless: he was sometimes tempted to craft, sometimes to tyranny; but his object was always a high and kingly one, though he was led by the horrid wickedness of the men he had to deal with more than once to forget that evil is not to be overcome with evil, but with good. In the main, it was his high and uncompromising resolution to enforce the laws upon high and low alike that led to the nobles' conspiracies against him; though, if he had always been true to his purpose of swerving neither to the right nor to the left, he might have avoided the last fatal offence that armed the murderer against his life.
The chief misdoers in the long period of anarchy had been his uncles and cousins; nor was it till after his eldest uncle's death that his return home had been possible. With a strong hand had he avenged upon the princes and their followers the many miseries they had inflicted upon his people; and in carrying out these measures he had seized upon the great earldom of Strathern, which had descended to one of their party in right of his wife, declaring that it could not be inherited by a female. In this he appears to have acted unjustly, from the strong desire to avail himself by any pretext of an opportunity of breaking the overweening power of the great turbulent nobles; and, to make up for the loss, he created the new earldom of Menteith, for the young Malise Graham, the son of the dispossessed earl. But the proud and vindictive Grahams were not thus to be pacified. Sir Robert Graham, the uncle of the young earl, drew off into the Highlands, and there formed a conspiracy among other discontented men who hated the resolute government that repressed their violence. Men of princely blood joined in the plot, and 300 Highland catherans were ready to accompany the expedition that promised the delights of war and plunder.
Even when the hard-worked King was setting forth to enjoy his holiday at Perth, the traitors had fixed upon that spot as the place of his doom; but the scheme was known to so many, that it could not be kept entirely secret, and warnings began to gather round the King. When, on his way to Perth, he was about to cross the Firth of Forth, the wild figure of a Highland woman appeared at his bridle rein, and solemnly warned him 'that, if he crossed that water, he would never return alive'. He was struck by the apparition, and bade one of his knights to enquire of her what she meant; but the knight must have been a dullard or a traitor, for he told the King that the woman was either mad or drunk, and no notice was taken of her warning.
There was likewise a saying abroad in Scotland, that the new year, 1436, should see the death of a king; and this same carnival night, James, while playing at chess with a young friend, whom he was wont to call the king of love, laughingly observed that 'it must be you or I, since there are but two kings in Scotland—therefore, look well to yourself'.
Little did the blithe monarch guess that at that moment one of the conspirators, touched by a moment's misgiving, was hovering round, seeking in vain for an opportunity of giving him warning; that even then his chamberlain and kinsman, Sir Robert Stewart, was enabling the traitors to place boards across the moat for their passage, and to remove the bolts and bars of all the doors in their way. And the Highland woman was at the door, earnestly entreating to see the King, if but for one moment! The message was even brought to him, but, alas! he bade her wait till the morrow, and she turned away, declaring that she should never more see his face!
And now, as before said, the feast was over, and the King stood, gaily chatting with his wife and her ladies, when the clang of arms was heard, and the glare of torches in the court below flashed on the windows. The ladies flew to secure the doors. Alas! the bolts and bars were gone! Too late the warnings returned upon the King's mind, and he knew it was he alone who was sought. He tried to escape by the windows, but here the bars were but too firm. Then he seized the tongs, and tore up a board in the floor, by which he let himself down into the vault below, just as the murderers came rushing along the passage, slaying on their way a page named Walter Straiton.
There was no bar to the door. Yes, there was. Catherine Douglas, worthy of her name, worthy of the cognizance of the bleeding heart, thrust her arm through the empty staples to gain for her sovereign a few moments more for escape and safety! But though true as steel, the brave arm was not as strong. It was quickly broken. She was thrust fainting aside, and the ruffians rushed in. Queen Joan stood in the midst of the room, with her hair streaming round her, and her mantle thrown hastily on. Some of the wretches even struck and wounded her, but Graham called them off, and bade them search for the King. They sought him in vain in every corner of the women's apartments, and dispersed through the other rooms in search of their prey. The ladies began to hope that the citizens and nobles in the town were coming to their help, and that the King might have escaped through an opening that led from the vault into the tennis court. Presently, however, the King called to them to draw him up again, for he had not been able to get out of the vault, having a few days before caused the hole to be bricked up, because his tennis balls used to fly into it and be lost. In trying to draw him up by the sheets, Elizabeth Douglas, another of the ladies, was actually pulled down into the vault; the noise was heard by the assassins, who were still watching outside, and they returned.
There is no need to tell of the foul and cruel slaughter that ensued, nor of the barbarous vengeance that visited it. Our tale is of golden, not of brazen deeds; and if we have turned our eyes for a moment to the Bloody Carnival of Perth, it is for the sake of the King, who was too upright for his bloodthirsty subjects, and, above all, for that of the noble-hearted lady whose frail arm was the guardian of her sovereign's life in the extremity of peril.
In like manner, on the dreadful 6th of October, 1787, when the infuriated mob of Paris had been incited by the revolutionary leaders to rush to Versailles in pursuit of the royal family, whose absence they fancied deprived them of bread and liberty, a woman shared the honor of saving her sovereign's life, at least for that time.
The confusion of the day, with the multitude thronging the courts and park of Versailles, uttering the most frightful threats and insults, had been beyond all description; but there had been a pause at night, and at two o'clock, poor Queen Marie Antoinette, spent with horror and fatigue, at last went to bed, advising her ladies to do the same; but their anxiety was too great, and they sat up at her door. At half-past four they heard musket shots, and loud shouts, and while one awakened the Queen, the other, Madame Auguier, flew towards the place whence the noise came. As she opened the door, she found one of the royal bodyguards, with his face covered with blood, holding his musket so as to bar the door while the furious mob were striking at him. He turned to the lady, and cried, 'Save the Queen, madame, they are come to murder her!' Quick as lightning, Madame Auguier shut and bolted the door, rushed to the Queen's bedside, and dragged her to the opposite door, with a petticoat just thrown over her. Behold, the door was fastened on the other side! The ladies knocked violently, the King's valet opened it, and in a few minutes the whole family were in safety in the King's apartments. M. de Miomandre, the brave guardsman, who used his musket to guard the Queen's door instead of to defend himself, fell wounded; but his comrade, M. de Repaire, at once took his place, and, according to one account, was slain, and the next day his head, set upon a pike, was borne before the carriage in which the royal family were escorted back to Paris.
M. de Miomandre, however, recovered from his wounds, and a few weeks after, the Queen, hearing that his loyalty had made him a mark for the hatred of the mob, sent for him to desire him to quit Paris. She said that gold could not repay such a service as his had been, but she hoped one day to be able to recompense him more as he deserved; meanwhile, she hoped he would consider that as a sister might advance a timely sum to a brother, so she might offer him enough to defray his expenses at Paris, and to provide for his journey. In a private audience then he kissed her hand, and those of the King and his saintly sister, Elizabeth, while the Queen gratefully expressed her thanks, and the King stood by, with tears in his eyes, but withheld by his awkward bashfulness from expressing the feelings that overpowered him.
Madame Auguier, and her sister, Madame Campan, continued with their royal lady until the next stage in that miserable downfall of all that was high and noble in unhappy France. She lived through the horrors of the Revolution, and her daughter became the wife of Marshal Ney.
Well it is that the darkening firmament does but show the stars, and that when treason and murder surge round the fated chambers of royalty, their foulness and violence do but enhance the loyal self-sacrifice of such doorkeepers as Catherine Douglas, Madame Auguier, or M. de Miomandre.
'Such deeds can woman's spirit do, O Catherine Douglas, brave and true! Let Scotland keep thy holy name Still first upon her ranks of fame.'
THE CROWN OF ST. STEPHEN
Of all the possessions of the old kingdom of Hungary, none was more valued than what was called the Crown of St. Stephen, so called from one, which had, in the year 1000, been presented by Pope Sylvester II. to Stephen, the second Christian Duke, and first King of Hungary. A crown and a cross were given to him for his coronation, which took place in the Church of the Holy Virgin, at Alba Regale, also called in German Weissenburg, where thenceforth the Kings of Hungary were anointed to begin their troubled reigns, and at the close of them were laid to rest beneath the pavement, where most of them might have used the same epitaph as the old Italian leader: 'He rests here, who never rested before'. For it was a wild realm, bordered on all sides by foes, with Poland, Bohemia, and Austria, ever casting greedy eyes upon it, and afterwards with the Turk upon the southern border, while the Magyars, or Hungarian nobles, themselves were a fierce and untameable race, bold and generous, but brooking little control, claiming a voice in choosing their own Sovereign, and to resist him, even by force of arms, if he broke the laws. No prince had a right to their allegiance unless he had been crowned with St. Stephen's Crown; but if he had once worn that sacred circle, he thenceforth was held as the only lawful monarch, unless he should flagrantly violate the Constitution. In 1076, another crown had been given by the Greek Emperor to Geysa, King of Hungary, and the sacred crown combined the two. It had the two arches of the Roman crown, and the gold circlet of the Constantinopolitan; and the difference of workmanship was evident.
In the year 1439 died King Albert, who had been appointed King of Hungary in right of his wife, Queen Elizabeth. He left a little daughter only four years old, and as the Magyars had never been governed by a female hand, they proposed to send and offer their crown, and the hand of their young widowed Queen, to Wladislas, the King of Poland. But Elizabeth had hopes of another child, and in case it should be a son, she had no mind to give away its rights to its father's throne. How, then, was she to help herself among the proud and determined nobles of her Court? One thing was certain, that if once the Polish king were crowned with St. Stephen's crown, it would be his own fault if he were not King of Hungary as long as he lived; but if the crown were not to be found, of course he could not receive it, and the fealty of the nobles would not be pledged to him.
The most trustworthy person she had about her was Helen Kottenner, the lady who had the charge of her little daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and to her she confided her desire that the crown might be secured, so as to prevent the Polish party from getting access to it. Helen herself has written down the history of these strange events, and of her own struggles of mind, at the risk she ran, and the doubt whether good would come of the intrigue; and there can be no doubt that, whether the Queen's conduct were praiseworthy or not, Helen dared a great peril for the sake purely of loyalty and fidelity. 'The Queen's commands', she says, 'sorely troubled me; for it was a dangerous venture for me and my little children, and I turned it over in my mind what I should do, for I had no one to take counsel of but God alone; and I thought if I did it not, and evil arose therefrom, I should be guilty before God and the world. So I consented to risk my life on this difficult undertaking; but desired to have someone to help me.' This was permitted; but the first person to whom the Lady of Kottenner confided her intention, a Croat, lost his color from alarm, looked like one half-dead, and went at once in search of his horse. The next thing that was heard of him was that he had had a bad fall from his horse, and had been obliged to return to Croatia, and the Queen remained much alarmed at her plans being known to one so faint-hearted. However, a more courageous confidant was afterwards found in a Hungarian gentleman, whose name has become illegible in Helen's old manuscript.
The crown was in the vaults of the strong Castle of Plintenburg, also called Vissegrad, which stands upon a bend of the Danube, about twelve miles from the twin cities of Buda and Pesth. It was in a case within a chest, sealed with many seals, and since the King's death, it had been brought up by the nobles, who closely guarded both it and the Queen, into her apartments, and there examined and replaced in the chest. The next night, one of the Queen's ladies upset a wax taper, without being aware of it, and before the fire was discovered, and put out, the corner of the chest was singed, and a hole burnt in the blue velvet cushion that lay on the top. Upon this, the lords had caused the chest to be taken down again into the vault, and had fastened the doors with many locks and with seals. The Castle had further been put into the charge of Ladislas von Gara, the Queen's cousin, and Ban, or hereditary commander, of the border troops, and he had given it over to a Burggraf, or seneschal, who had placed his bed in the chamber where was the door leading to the vaults.
The Queen removed to Komorn, a castle higher up the Danube, in charge of her faithful cousin, Count Ulric of Eily, taking with her her little daughter Elizabeth, Helen Kottenner, and two other ladies. This was the first stage on the journey to Presburg, where the nobles had wished to lodge the Queen, and from thence she sent back Helen to bring the rest of the maids of honor and her goods to join her at Komorn. It was early spring, and snow was still on the ground, and the Lady of Kottenner and her faithful nameless assistant travelled in a sledge; but two Hungarian noblemen went with them, and they had to be most careful in concealing their arrangements. Helen had with her the Queen's signet, and keys; and her friend had a file in each shoe, and keys under his black velvet dress.
On arriving in the evening, they found that the Burggraf had fallen ill, and could not sleep in the chamber leading to the vault, because it belonged to the ladies' chambers, and that he had therefore put a cloth over the padlock of the door and sealed it. There was a stove in the room, and the maidens began to pack up their clothes there, an operation that lasted till eight o'clock; while Helen's friend stood there, talking and jesting with them, trying all the while to hide the files, and contriving to say to Helen: 'Take care that we have a light.' So she begged the old housekeeper to give her plenty of wax tapers, as she had many prayers to say. At last everyone was gone to bed, and there only remained in the room with Helen, an old woman, whom she had brought with her, who knew no German, and was fast asleep. Then the accomplice came back through the chapel, which opened into this same hall. He had on his black velvet gown and felt shoes, and was followed by a servant, who, Helen says, was bound to him by oath, and had the same Christian name as himself, this being evidently an additional bond of fidelity. Helen, who had received from the Queen all the keys to this outer room, let them in, and, after the Burggraf's cloth and seal had been removed, they unlocked the padlock, and the other two locks of the outer door of the vault, and the two men descended into it. There were several other doors, whose chains required to be filed through, and their seals and locks broken, and to the ears of the waiting Helen the noise appeared fatally loud. She says, 'I devoutly prayed to God and the Holy Virgin, that they would support and help me; yet I was in greater anxiety for my soul than for my life, and I prayed to God that He would be merciful to my soul, and rather let me die at once there, than that anything should happen against his will, or that should bring misfortune on my country and people.'
She fancied she heard a noise of armed men at the chapel door, but finding nothing there, believed—not in her own nervous agitation, a thing not yet invented—that it was a spirit, and returning to her prayers, vowed, poor lady, to make a pilgrimage to St. Maria Zell, in Styria, if the Holy Virgin's intercessions obtained their success, and till the pilgrimage could be made, 'to forego every Saturday night my feather bed!' After another false alarm at a supposed noise at the maiden's door, she ventured into the vault to see how her companions were getting on, when she found they had filed away all the locks, except that of the case containing the crown, and this they were obliged to burn, in spite of their apprehension that the smell and smoke might be observed. They then shut up the chest, replaced the padlocks and chains with those they had brought for the purpose, and renewed the seals with the Queen's signet, which bearing the royal arms, would baffle detection that the seals had been tampered with. They then took the crown into the chapel, where they found a red velvet cushion, so large that by taking out some of the stuffing a hiding place was made in which the crown was deposited, and the cushion sewn up over it.
By this time day was dawning, the maidens were dressing, and it was the hour for setting off for Komorn. The old woman who had waited on them came to the Lady of Kottenner to have her wages paid, and be dismissed to Buda. While she was waiting, she began to remark on a strange thing lying by the stove, which, to the Lady Helen's great dismay, she perceived to be a bit of the case in which the crown was kept. She tried to prevent the old woman from noticing it, pushed it into the hottest part of the stove, and, by way of further precaution, took the old woman away with her, on the plea of asking the Queen to make her a bedeswoman at Vienna, and this was granted to her.
When all was ready, the gentleman desired his servant to take the cushion and put it into the sledge designed for himself and the Lady of Kottenner. The man took it on his shoulders, hiding it under an old ox- hide, with the tail hanging down, to the laughter of all beholders. Helen further records the trying to get some breakfast in the marketplace and finding nothing but herrings, also the going to mass, and the care she took not to sit upon the holy crown, though she had to sit on its cushion in the sledge. They dined at an inn, but took care to keep the cushion in sight, and then in the dusk crossed the Danube on the ice, which was becoming very thin, and halfway across it broke under the maidens' carriage, so that Helen expected to be lost in the Danube, crown and all. However, though many packages were lost under the ice, her sledge got safe over, as well as all the ladies, some of whom she took into her conveyance, and all safely arrived at the castle of Komorn late in the evening.
The very hour of their arrival a babe was born to the Queen, and to her exceeding joy it was a son. Count von Eily, hearing 'that a king and friend was born to him', had bonfires lighted, and a torchlight procession on the ice that same night, and early in the morning came the Archbishop of Gran to christen the child. The Queen wished her faithful Helen to be godmother, but she refused in favor of some lady whose family it was probably needful to propitiate. She took off the little princess Elizabeth's mourning for her father and dressed her in red and gold, all the maidens appeared in gay apparel, and there was great rejoicing and thanksgiving when the babe was christened Ladislas, after a sainted King of Hungary.
The peril was, however, far from ended; for many of the Magyars had no notion of accepting an infant for their king, and by Easter, the King of Poland was advancing upon Buda, to claim the realm to which he had been invited. No one had discovered the abstraction of the crown, and Elizabeth's object was to take her child to Weissenburg, and there have him crowned, so as to disconcert the Polish party. She had sent to Buda for cloth of gold to make him a coronation dress, but it did not come in time, and Helen therefore shut herself into the chapel at Komorn, and, with doors fast bolted, cut up a rich and beautiful vestment of his grandfather's, the emperor Sigismund, of red and gold, with silver spots, and made it into a tiny coronation robe, with surplice and humeral (or shoulder-piece), the stole and banner, the gloves and shoes. The Queen was much alarmed by a report that the Polish party meant to stop her on her way to Weissenburg; and if the baggage should be seized and searched, the discovery of the crown might have fatal consequences. Helen, on this, observed that the King was more important than the crown, and that the best way would be to keep them together; so she wrapped up the crown in a cloth, and hid it under the mattress of his cradle, with a long spoon for mixing his pap upon the top, so, said the Queen, he might take care of his crown himself.
On Tuesday before Whit Sunday the party set out, escorted by Count Ulric, and several other knights and nobles. After crossing the Danube in a large boat, the Queen and her little girl were placed in a carriage, or more probably a litter, the other ladies rode, and the cradle and its precious contents were carried by four men; but this the poor little Lassla, as Helen shortens his lengthy name, resented so much, that he began to scream so loud that she was forced to dismount and carry him in her arms, along a road rendered swampy by much rain.
They found all the villages deserted by the peasants, who had fled into the woods, and as most of their lords were of the other party, they expected an attack, so the little king was put into the carriage with his mother and sister, and the ladies formed a circle round it 'that if anyone shot at the carriage we might receive the stroke'. When the danger was over the child was taken out again, for he would be content nowhere but in the arms of either his nurse or of faithful Helen, who took turns to carry him on foot nearly all the way, sometimes in a high wind which covered them with dust, sometimes in great heat, sometimes in rain so heavy that Helen's fur pelisse, with which she covered his cradle, had to be wrung out several times. They slept at an inn, round which the gentlemen lighted a circle of fires, and kept watch all night.
Weissenburg was loyal, five hundred armed gentlemen came out to meet them, and on Whitsun Eve they entered the city, Helen carrying her little king in her arms in the midst of a circle of these five hundred holding their naked swords aloft. On Whit Sunday, Helen rose early, bathed the little fellow, who was twelve weeks old that day, and dressed him. He was then carried in her arms to the church, beside his mother. According to the old Hungarian customs, the choir door was closed—the burghers were within, and would not open till the new monarch should have taken the great coronation oath to respect the Hungarian liberties and laws.
This oath was taken by the Queen in the name of her son, the doors were opened, and all the train entered, the little princess being lifted up to stand by the organ, lest she should be hurt in the throng. First Helen held her charge up to be confirmed, and then she had to hold him while he was knighted, with a richly adorned sword bearing the motto 'Indestructible', and by a stout Hungarian knight called Mikosch Weida, who struck with such a goodwill that Helen felt the blow on her arm, and the Queen cried out to him not to hurt the child.
The Archbishop of Gran anointed the little creature, dressed him in the red and gold robe, and put on his head the holy crown, and the people admired to see how straight he held up his neck under it; indeed, they admired the loudness and strength of his cries, when, as the good lady records, 'the noble king had little pleasure in his coronation for he wept aloud'. She had to hold him up for the rest of the service, while Count Ulric of Eily held the crown over his head, and afterwards to seat him in a chair in St. Peter's Church, and then he was carried home in his cradle, with the count holding the crown over his head, and the other regalia borne before him.
And thus Ladislas became King of Hungary at twelve weeks old, and was then carried off by his mother into Austria for safety. Whether this secret robbery of the crown, and coronation by stealth, was wise or just on the mother's part is a question not easy of answer—though of course she deemed it her duty to do her utmost for her child's rights. Of Helen Kottenner's deep fidelity and conscientious feeling there can be no doubt, and her having acted with her eyes fully open to the risk she ran, her trust in Heaven overcoming her fears and terrors, rendered her truly a heroine.
The crown has had many other adventures, and afterwards was kept in an apartment of its own, in the castle of Ofen, with an antechamber guarded by two grenadiers. The door was of iron, with three locks, and the crown itself was contained in an iron chest with five seals. All this, however, did not prevent it from being taken away and lost in the Revolution of 1849.
GEORGE THE TRILLER
'Why, Lady dear, so sad of cheer? Hast waked the livelong night?' 'My dreams foreshow my children's woe, Ernst bold and Albrecht bright.
'From the dark glades of forest shades There rushed a raging boar, Two sapling oaks with cruel strokes His crooked tusks uptore.'
'Ah, Lady dear, dismiss thy fear Of phantoms haunting sleep!' 'The giant knight, Sir Konrad hight, Hath vowed a vengeance deep.
'My Lord, o'erbold, hath kept his gold, And scornful answer spake: 'Kunz, wisdom learn, nor strive to burn The fish within their lake.'
'See, o'er the plain, with all his train, My Lord to Leipzig riding; Some danger near my children dear My dream is sure betiding.'
'The warder waits before the gates, The castle rock is steep, The massive walls protect the halls, Thy children safely sleep.'
'T is night's full noon, fair shines the moon On Altenburg's old halls, The silver beams in tranquil streams Rest on the ivied walls.
Within their tower the midnight hour Has wrapt the babes in sleep, With unclosed eyes their mother lies To listen and to weep.
What sudden sound is stirring round? What clang thrills on her ear? Is it the breeze amid the trees Re-echoing her fear?
Swift from her bed, in sudden dread, She to her lattice flies: Oh! sight of woe, from far below Behold a ladder rise:
And from yon tower, her children's bower, Lo! Giant Kunz descending! Ernst, in his clasp of iron grasp, His cries with hers is blending.
'Oh! hear my prayer, my children spare, The sum shall be restored; Nay, twenty-fold returned the gold, Thou know'st how true my Lord.'
With mocking grace he bowed his face: 'Lady, my greetings take; Thy Lord may learn how I can burn The fish within their lake.'
Oh! double fright, a second knight Upon the ladder frail, And in his arm, with wild alarm, A child uplifts his wail!
Would she had wings! She wildly springs To rouse her slumbering train; Bolted without, her door so stout Resists her efforts vain!
No mortal ear her calls can hear, The robbers laugh below; Her God alone may hear her moan, Or mark her hour of woe.
A cry below, 'Oh! let me go, I am no prince's brother; Their playmate I—Oh! hear my cry Restore me to my mother!'
With anguish sore she shakes the door. Once more Sir Kunz is rearing His giant head. His errand sped She sees him reappearing.
Her second child in terror wild Is struggling in his hold; Entreaties vain she pours again, Still laughs the robber bold.
'I greet thee well, the Elector tell How Kunz his counsel takes, And let him learn that I can burn The fish within their lakes.'
'Swift, swift, good steed, death's on thy speed, Gain Isenburg ere morn; Though far the way, there lodged our prey, We laugh the Prince to scorn.
'There Konrad's den and merry men Will safely hold the boys— The Prince shall grieve long ere we leave Our hold upon his joys.
'But hark! but hark! how through the dark The castle bell is tolling, From tower and town o'er wood and down, The like alarm notes rolling.
'The peal rings out! echoes the shout! All Saxony's astir; Groom, turn aside, swift must we ride Through the lone wood of fir.'
Far on before, of men a score Prince Ernst bore still sleeping; Thundering as fast, Kunz came the last, Carrying young Albrecht weeping.
The clanging bell with distant swell Dies on the morning air, Bohemia's ground another bound Will reach, and safety there.
The morn's fresh beam lights a cool stream, Charger and knight are weary, He draws his rein, the child's sad plain He meets with accents cheery.
'Sir Konrad good, be mild of mood, A fearsome giant thou! For love of heaven, one drop be given To cool my throbbing brow!'
Kunz' savage heart feels pity's smart, He soothes the worn-out child, Bathes his hot cheeks, and bending seeks For woodland berries wild.
A deep-toned bark! A figure dark, Smoke grimed and sun embrowned, Comes through the wood in wondering mood, And by his side a hound.
'Oh, to my aid, I am betrayed, The Elector's son forlorn, From out my bed these men of dread Have this night hither borne!'
'Peace, if thou 'rt wise,' the false groom cries, And aims a murderous blow; His pole-axe long, his arm so strong, Must lay young Albrecht low.
See, turned aside, the weapon glide The woodman's pole along, To Albrecht's clasp his friendly grasp Pledges redress from wrong.
Loud the hound's note as at the throat Of the false groom he flies; Back at the sounds Sir Konrad bounds: 'Off hands, base churl,' he cries.
The robber lord with mighty sword, Mailed limbs of giant strength— The woodman stout, all arms without, Save his pole's timber length—
Unequal fight! Yet for the right The woodman holds the field; Now left, now right, repels the knight, His pole full stoutly wields.
His whistle clear rings full of cheer, And lo! his comrades true, All swarth and lusty, with fire poles trusty, Burst on Sir Konrad's view.
His horse's rein he grasps amain Into his selle to spring, His gold-spurred heel his stirrup's steel Has caught, his weapons ring.
His frightened steed with wildest speed Careers with many a bound; Sir Konrad's heel fast holds the steel, His head is on the ground.
The peasants round lift from the ground His form in woeful plight, To convent cell, for keeping well, Bear back the robber knight.
'Our dear young lord, what may afford A charcoal-burners' store We freely spread, milk, honey, bread, Our heated kiln before!'
Three mournful days the mother prays, And weeps the children's fate; The prince in vain has scoured the plain— A sound is at the gate.
The mother hears, her head she rears, She lifts her eager finger— 'Rejoice, rejoice, 't is Albrecht's voice, Open! Oh, wherefore linger?'
See, cap in hand the woodman stand— Mother, no more of weeping— His hound well tried is at his side, Before him Albrecht leaping,
Cries, 'Father dear, my friend is here! My mother! Oh, my mother! The giant knight he put to flight, The good dog tore the other.'
Oh! who the joy that greets the boy, Or who the thanks may tell, Oh how they hail the woodman's tale, How he had 'trilled him well!'
[Footnote: Trillen, to shake; a word analogous to our rill, to shake the voice in singing]
'I trilled him well,' he still will tell In homely phrase his story, To those who sought to know how wrought An unarmed hand such glory.
That mother sad again is glad, Her home no more bereft; For news is brought Ernst may be sought Within the Devil's Cleft.
That cave within, these men of sin Had learnt their leader's fall, The prince to sell they proffered well At price of grace to all.
Another day and Earnest lay, Safe on his mother's breast; Thus to her sorrow a gladsome morrow Had brought her joy and rest.
The giant knight was judged aright, Sentenced to death he lay; The elector mild, since safe his child, Sent forth the doom to stay.
But all to late, and o'er the gate Of Freiburg's council hall Sir Konrad's head, with features dread, The traitor's eyes appal.
The scullion Hans who wrought their plans, And oped the window grate, Whose faith was sold for Konrad's gold, He met a traitor's fate
Behold how gay the wood to-day, The little church how fair, What banners wave, what tap'stry brave Covers its carvings rare!
A goodly train—the parents twain, And here the princess two, Here with his pole, George, stout of soul, And all his comrades true.
High swells the chant, all jubilant, And each boy bending low, Humbly lays down the wrapping gown He wore the night of woe.
Beside them lay a smock of grey, All grimed with blood and smoke; A thankful sign to Heaven benign, That spared the sapling oak.
'What prize would'st hold, thou 'Triller bold', Who trilled well for my son?' 'Leave to cut wood, my Lord, so good, Near where the fight was won.'
'Nay, Triller mine, the land be thine, My trusty giant-killer, A farm and house I and my spouse Grant free to George the Triller!'
Years hundred four, and half a score, Those robes have held their place; The Triller's deed has grateful meed From Albrecht's royal race.
The child rescued by George the Triller's Golden Deed was the ancestor of the late Prince Consort, and thus of our future line of kings. He was the son of the Elector Friedrich the mild of Saxony, and of Margarethe of Austria, whose dream presaged her children's danger. The Elector had incurred the vengeance of the robber baron, Sir Konrad of Kauffingen, who, from his huge stature, was known as the Giant Ritter, by refusing to make up to him the sum of 4000 gulden which he had had to pay for his ransom after being made prisoner in the Elector's service. In reply to his threats, all the answer that the robber knight received was the proverbial one, 'Do not try to burn the fish in the ponds, Kunz.'
Stung by the irony, Kunz bribed the elector's scullion, by name Hans Schwabe, to admit him and nine chosen comrades into the Castle of Altenburg on the night of the 7th of July, 1455, when the Elector was to be at Leipzig. Strange to say, this scullion was able to write, for a letter is extant from him to Sir Konrad, engaging to open the window immediately above the steep precipice, which on that side was deemed a sufficient protection to the castle, and to fasten a rope ladder by which to ascend the crags. This window can still be traced, though thenceforth it was bricked up. It gave access to the children's apartments, and on his way to them, the robber drew the bolt of their mother's door, so that though, awakened by the noise, she rushed to her window, she was a captive in her own apartment, and could not give the alarm, nor do anything but join her vain entreaties to the cries of her helpless children. It was the little son of the Count von Bardi whom Wilhelm von Mosen brought down by mistake for young Albrecht, and Kunz, while hurrying up to exchange the children, bade the rest of his band hasten on to secure the elder prince without waiting for him. He followed in a few seconds with Albrecht in his arms, and his servant Schweinitz riding after him, but he never overtook the main body. Their object was to reach Konrad's own Castle of Isenburg on the frontiers of Bohemia, but they quickly heard the alarm bells ringing, and beheld beacons lighted upon every hill. They were forced to betake themselves to the forests, and about half-way, Prince Ernst's captors, not daring to go any father, hid themselves and him in a cavern called the Devil's Cleft on the right bank of the River Mulde.
Kunz himself rode on till the sun had risen, and he was within so few miles of his castle that the terror of his name was likely to be a sufficient protection. Himself and his horse were, however, spent by the wild midnight ride, and on the border of the wood of Eterlein, near the monastery of Grunheim, he halted, and finding the poor child grievously exhausted and feverish, he lifted him down, gave him water, and went himself in search of wood strawberries for his refreshment, leaving the two horses in the charge of Schweinitz. The servant dozed in his saddle, and meanwhile the charcoal-burner, George Schmidt, attracted by the sounds, came out of the wood, where all night he had been attending to the kiln, hollowed in the earth, and heaped with earth and roots of trees, where a continual charring of wood was going on. Little Albrecht no sooner saw this man than he sprang to him, and telling his name and rank, entreated to be rescued from these cruel men. The servant awaking, leapt down and struck a deadly blow at the boy's head with his pole-ax, but it was parried by the charcoal-burner, who interposing with one hand the strong wooden pole he used for stirring his kiln, dragged the little prince aside with the other, and at the same time set his great dog upon the servant. Sir Konrad at once hurried back, but the valiant charcoal- burner still held his ground, dangerous as the fight was between the peasant unarmed except for the long pole, and the fully accoutered knight of gigantic size and strength. However, a whistle from George soon brought a gang of his comrades to his aid, and Kunz, finding himself surrounded, tried to leap into his saddle, and break through the throng by weight of man and horse, but his spur became entangled, the horse ran away, and he was dragged along with his head on the ground till he was taken up by the peasants and carried to the convent of Grunheim, whence he was sent to Zwickau, and was thence transported heavily ironed to Freiburg, where he was beheaded on the 14th of July, only a week after his act of violence. The Elector, in his joy at the recovery of even one child, was generous enough to send a pardon, but the messenger reached Freiburg too late, and a stone in the marketplace still marks the place of doom, while the grim effigy of Sir Konrad's head grins over the door of the Rathhaus. It was a pity Friedrich's mildness did not extend to sparing torture as well as death to his treacherous scullion, but perhaps a servant's power of injuring his master was thought a reason for surrounding such instances of betrayal with special horrors.
The party hidden in the Devil's Cleft overheard the peasants in the wood talking of the fall of the giant of Kauffingen, and, becoming alarmed for themselves, they sent to the Governor of the neighboring castle of Hartenstein to offer to restore Prince Ernst, provided they were promised a full pardon. The boy had been given up as dead, and intense were the rejoicings of the parents at his restoration. The Devil's Cleft changed its name to the Prince's Cleft, and the tree where Albrecht had lain was called the Prince's Oak, and still remains as a witness to the story, as do the moth-eaten garments of the princely children, and the smock of the charcoal-burner, which they offered up in token of thanksgiving at the little forest church of Ebendorff, near the scene of the rescue.
'I trillirt the knaves right well,' was honest George's way of telling the story of his exploit, not only a brave one, but amounting even to self-devotion when we remember that the robber baron was his near neighbour, and a terror to all around. The word Triller took the place of his surname, and when the sole reward he asked was leave freely to cut wood in the forest, the Elector gave him a piece of land of his own in the parish of Eversbach. In 1855 there was a grand celebration of the rescue of the Saxon princes on the 9th of July, the four hundredth anniversary, with a great procession of foresters and charcoal-burners to the 'Triller's Brewery', which stands where George's hut and kiln were once placed. Three of his descendants then figured in the procession, but since that time all have died, and the family of the Trillers is now extinct.
SIR THOMAS MORE'S DAUGHTER
We have seen how dim and doubtful was the belief that upbore the grave and beautiful Antigone in her self-sacrifice; but there have been women who have been as brave and devoted in their care of the mortal remains of their friends—not from the heathen fancy that the weal of the dead depended on such rites, but from their earnest love, and with a fuller trust beyond.
Such was the spirit of Beatrix, a noble maiden of Rome, who shared the Christian faith of her two brothers, Simplicius and Faustinus, at the end of the third century. For many years there had been no persecution, and the Christians were living at peace, worshipping freely, and venturing even to raise churches. Young people had grown up to whom the being thrown to the lions, beheaded, or burnt for the faith's sake, was but a story of the times gone by. But under the Emperor Diocletian all was changed. The old heathen gods must be worshipped, incense must be burnt to the statue of the Emperor, or torture and death were the punishment. The two brothers Simplicius and Faustinus were thus asked to deny their faith, and resolutely refused. They were cruelly tortured, and at length beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the tawny waters of the Tiber. Their sister Beatrix had taken refuge with a poor devout Christian woman, named Lucina. But she did not desert her brothers in death; she made her way in secret to the bank of the river, watching to see whether the stream might bear down the corpses so dear to her. Driven along, so as to rest upon the bank, she found them at last, and, by the help of Lucina, she laid them in the grave in the cemetery called Ad Ursum Pileatum. For seven months she remained in her shelter, but she was at last denounced, and was brought before the tribunal, where she made answer that nothing should induce her to adore gods made of wood and stone. She was strangled in her prison, and her corpse being cast out, was taken home by Lucina, and buried beside her brothers. It was, indeed, a favorite charitable work of the Christian widows at Rome to provide for the burial of the martyrs; and as for the most part they were poor old obscure women, they could perform this good work with far less notice than could persons of more mark.
But nearer home, our own country shows a truly Christian Antigone, resembling the Greek lady, both in her dutifulness to the living, and in her tender care for the dead. This was Margaret, the favorite daughter of sir Thomas More, the true-hearted, faithful statesman of King Henry VIII.
Margaret's home had been an exceedingly happy one. Her father, Sir Thomas More, was a man of the utmost worth, and was both earnestly religious and conscientious, and of a sweetness of manner and playfulness of fancy that endeared him to everyone. He was one of the most affectionate and dutiful of sons to his aged father, Sir John More; and when the son was Lord Chancellor, while the father was only a judge, Sir Thomas, on his way to his court, never failed to kneel down before his father in public, and ask his blessing. Never was the old saying, that a dutiful child had dutiful children, better exemplified than in the More family. In the times when it was usual for parents to be very stern with children, and keep them at a great distance, sometimes making them stand in their presence, and striking them for any slight offence, Sir Thomas More thought it his duty to be friendly and affectionate with them, to talk to them, and to enter into their confidence; and he was rewarded with their full love and duty.
He had four children—Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John. His much- loved wife died when they were all very young, and he thought it for their good to marry a widow, Mrs. Alice Middleton, with one daughter named Margaret, and he likewise adopted an orphan called Margaret Giggs. With this household he lived in a beautiful large house at Chelsea, with well-trimmed gardens sloping down to the Thames; and this was the resort of the most learned and able men, both English and visitors from abroad, who delighted in pacing the shady walks, listening to the wit and wisdom of Sir Thomas, or conversing with the daughters, who had been highly educated, and had much of their father's humor and sprightliness. Even Henry VIII. himself, then one of the most brilliant and graceful gentlemen of his time, would sometimes arrive in his royal barge, and talk theology or astronomy with Sir Thomas; or, it might be, crack jests with him and his daughters, or listen to the music in which all were skilled, even Lady More having been persuaded in her old age to learn to play on various instruments, including the flute. The daughters were early given in marriage, and with their husbands, continued to live under their father's roof. Margaret's husband was William Roper, a young lawyer, of whom Sir Thomas was very fond, and his household at Chelsea was thus a large and joyous family home of children and grandchildren, delighting in the kind, bright smiles of the open face under the square cap, that the great painter Holbein has sent down to us as a familiar sight.
But these glad days were not to last for ever. The trying times of the reign of Henry VIII. were beginning, and the question had been stirred whether the King's marriage with Katherine of Aragon had been a lawful one. When Sir Thomas More found that the King was determined to take his own course, and to divorce himself without permission from the Pope, it was against his conscience to remain in office when acts were being done which he could not think right or lawful. He therefore resigned his office as Lord Chancellor, and, feeling himself free from the load and temptation, his gay spirits rose higher than ever. His manner of communicating the change to his wife, who had been very proud of his state and dignity, was thus. At church, when the service was over, it had always been the custom for one of his attendants to summon Lady More by coming to her closet door, and saying, 'Madam, my lord is gone.' On the day after his resignation, he himself stepped up, and with a low bow said, 'Madam, my lord is gone,' for in good soothe he was no longer Chancellor, but only plain Sir Thomas.
He thoroughly enjoyed his leisure, but he was not long left in tranquillity. When Anne Boleyn was crowned, he was invited to be present, and twenty pounds were offered him to buy a suitably splendid dress for the occasion; but his conscience would not allow him to accept the invitation, though he well knew the terrible peril he ran by offending the King and Queen. Thenceforth there was a determination to ruin him. First, he was accused of taking bribes when administering justice. It was said that a gilt cup had been given to him as a New Year's gift, by one lady, and a pair of gloves filled with gold coins by another; but it turned out, on examination, that he had drunk the wine out of the cup, and accepted the gloves, because it was ill manners to refuse a lady's gift, yet he had in both cases given back the gold.
Next, a charge was brought that he had been leaguing with a half-crazy woman called the Nun of Kent, who had said violent things about the King. He was sent for to be examined by Henry and his Council, and this he well knew was the interview on which his safety would turn, since the accusation was a mere pretext, and the real purpose of the King was to see whether he would go along with him in breaking away from Rome—a proceeding that Sir Thomas, both as churchman and as lawyer, could not think legal. Whether we agree or not in his views, it must always be remembered that he ran into danger by speaking the truth, and doing what he thought right. He really loved his master, and he knew the humor of Henry VIII., and the temptation was sore; but when he came down from his conference with the King in the Tower, and was rowed down the river to Chelsea, he was so merry that William Roper, who had been waiting for him in the boat, thought he must be safe, and said, as they landed and walked up the garden—
'I trust, sir, all is well, since you are so merry?'
'It is so, indeed, son, thank God!'
'Are you then, sir, put out of the bill?'
'Wouldest thou know, son why I am so joyful? In good faith I rejoice that I have given the devil a foul fall; because I have with those lords gone so far that without great shame I can never go back,' he answered, meaning that he had been enabled to hold so firmly to his opinions, and speak them out so boldly, that henceforth the temptation to dissemble them and please the King would be much lessened. That he had held his purpose in spite of the weakness of mortal nature, was true joy to him, though he was so well aware of the consequences that when his daughter Margaret came to him the next day with the glad tidings that the charge against him had been given up, he calmly answered her, 'In faith, Meg, what is put off is not given up.'
One day, when he had asked Margaret how the world went with the new Queen, and she replied, 'In faith, father, never better; there is nothing else in the court but dancing and sporting,' he replied, with sad foresight, 'Never better. Alas, Meg! it pitieth me to remember unto what misery, poor soul, she will shortly come. These dances of hers will prove such dances that she will spurn off our heads like footballs, but it will not be long ere her head will take the same dance.'
So entirely did he expect to be summoned by a pursuivant that he thought it would lessen the fright of his family if a sham summons were brought. So he caused a great knocking to be made while all were at dinner, and the sham pursuivant went through all the forms of citing him, and the whole household were in much alarm, till he explained the jest; but the earnest came only a few days afterwards. On the 13th of April of 1534, arrived the real pursuivant to summon him to Lambeth, there to take the oath of supremacy, declaring that the King was the head of the Church of England, and that the Pope had no authority there. He knew what the refusal would bring on him. He went first to church, and then, not trusting himself to be unmanned by his love for his children and grandchildren, instead of letting them, as usual, come down to the water side, with tender kisses and merry farewells, he shut the wicket gate of the garden upon them all, and only allowed his son-in-law Roper to accompany him, whispering into his ear, 'I thank our Lord, the field is won.'
Conscience had triumphed over affection, and he was thankful, though for the last time he looked on the trees he had planted, and the happy home he had loved. Before the council, he undertook to swear to some clauses in the oath which were connected with the safety of the realm; but he refused to take that part of the oath which related to the King's power over the Church. It is said that the King would thus have been satisfied, but that the Queen urged him further. At any rate, after being four days under the charge of the Abbot of Westminister, Sir Thomas was sent to the Tower of London. There his wife—a plain, dull woman, utterly unable to understand the point of conscience—came and scolded him for being so foolish as to lie there in a close, filthy prison, and be shut up with rats and mice, instead of enjoying the favor of the King. He heard all she had to say, and answered, 'I pray thee, good Mrs. Alice, tell me one thing—is not this house as near heaven as my own?' To which she had no better answer than 'Tilly vally, tilly vally.' But, in spite of her folly, she loved him faithfully; and when all his property was seized, she sold even her clothes to obtain necessaries for him in prison.
His chief comfort was, however, in visits and letters from his daughter Margaret, who was fully able to enter into the spirit that preferred death to transgression. He was tried in Westminster Hall, on the 1st of July, and, as he had fully expected, sentenced to death. He was taken back along the river to the Tower. On the wharf his loving Margaret was waiting for her last look. She broke through the guard of soldiers with bills and halberds, threw her arms round his neck, and kissed him, unable to say any word but 'Oh, my father!—oh, my father!' He blessed her, and told her that whatsoever she might suffer, it was not without the will of God, and she must therefore be patient. After having once parted with him, she suddenly turned back again, ran to him, and, clinging round his neck, kissed him over and over again—a sight at which the guards themselves wept. She never saw him again; but the night before his execution he wrote to her a letter with a piece of charcoal, with tender remembrances to all the family, and saying to her, 'I never liked your manner better than when you kissed me last; for I am most pleased when daughterly love and dear charity have no leisure to look to worldly courtesy.' He likewise made it his especial request that she might be permitted to be present at his burial.
His hope was sure and steadfast, and his heart so firm that he did not even cease from humorous sayings. When he mounted the crazy ladder of the scaffold he said, 'Master Lieutenant, I pray you see me safe up; and for my coming down let me shift for myself.' And he desired the executioner to give him time to put his beard out of the way of the stroke, 'since that had never offended his Highness'.