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left her a widow. These and similar circumstances have led some persons to suppose, in opposition to much testimony, that the Lady Geraldine, to whom the poet addressed so many amatory strains, was only an imaginary personage; or, in the case that her reality should prove incontestible, to draw conclusions very unfavourable to the moral character of her lover.
The first appearance of Lord Surrey in public life is recorded by Holinshed to have been at the meeting between Henry VIII. and Francis I. at the Champ d'Or. Instead of returning with his sovereign from that gorgeous display of barbaric magnificence, he seems to have remained a short time at the French court, in company with the Duke of Richmond, natural son of the King, and who shortly afterward married Surrey's sister. He was again present in England at the coronation of Anne Boleyn his relative, and in the following year was destined to hear sentence of death pronounced on her by his own father. Dr. Nott mentions an anecdote that Henry passed the day of the execution in the amusement of hunting in Epping-forest, and was married on that same evening to the Lady Jane Seymour: but this is contrary to a tradition which we have heard, that the latter ceremony took place at Marwell near Winchester, a distance from Epping that would have rendered a much longer interval necessary between the execution of the one wife and the marriage of the other. It is not to be supposed that Surrey contemplated such scenes as these with indifference: but misfortune shortly came still nearer to his own home. In the same year, his uncle was attainted for high treason, and sent to the Tower; and he lost his early friend the young Duke of Richmond by a natural death. It was soon after this last event,' says the biographer, that Surrey is supposed to have taken his romantic tour in Italy, where we are told that he maintained, in obedience to the fair Geraldine's commands, in tilts and tournaments the superiority of her charms to those of all her sex. As there is something pleasing in the picture here drawn of an high-minded and honourable lover thus gallantly employed, I feel some reluctance in stating that the whole of this romantic story is purely fiction. Different persons receive pleasure from different sources, which is here clearly the case with reference to Dr. Nott and ourselves. To us, we confess, it would have been no subject of particularly pleasant contemplation, that Surrey had been so very honourable and high-minded as to leave an amiable wife and children, in order to proclaim through the cities of Italy, if not his own incontinence, at least his estrangement from that person who
had the only just claim to his affections. A prudent biographer would have rather softened the faults and apologized for the errors of his hero, than have obtruded them on his readers in the shape of approval and commendation.
We are assured, however, that this story of the tilts and tournaments is entirely false *, and that Geraldine was at this time only seven years
age. If such were the case, she could have been but ten years old in 1539, the year in which the editor deems it probable that Surrey's attachment to the haughty fair one first commenced; while the lover must at this time have been in his twenty-fourth year. – We will sum up a few of the leading events in Surrey's public life before we revert to this extraordinary story.
In the latter end of the year 1540, Lord Surrey began to take an active part in public affairs
. He was employed by the King to put some of the English possessions on the other side of the Channel in a proper state of defence, and acquitted himself well in that service. In 1542, he was made a knight of the Garter, which was then a strong proof of royal favour. In the following year, war having been declared against the Scotch, he served a campaign in the north under his father, but on his return to London exhibited some traits very inconsistent with the serious and grave demeanour for which he appears usually to have been remarkable.
• After his return from the northern expedition, Surrey resided chiefly in London. We collect this from a singular occurrence, which is interesting as it marks the romantic turn of Surrey's mind ; and enables us to form some opinion as to the nature of his sentiments on the subject of religion.
• On the first of April, Surrey was summoned before the Privy Council to answer to two charges which had been brought against him. The one was for having eaten flesh in Lent, contrary to the Royal prohibition. The other was a charge of an extraordinary nature. He was accused of having walked at night in an unseemly and disorderly manner through the streets of London, breaking windows with a cross-bow.
• To the first charge Surrey replied by alleging a licence; and on this point he held himself absolved, though he admitted that he
* The story rests chiefly on a book intitled “ The Adventures of Jack Wilton,” from which large extracts are given in the Appendix. This work appears to be a curious and early specimen of fictitious travels, holding a mean situation, in point of the probability of the incidents related, between Don Quixote and Robinson rusoe. Wilton describes himself as having joined Lord Surrey in Italy, and there witnessed his knightly feats: but the whole seems purely imaginary.
had eaten flesh more openly than, in strict propriety, he ought to have done.
"The truth of the second charge he allowed ; and as far as it was a breach of the peace, he submitted himself to such punishment as the Privy Council should think proper to inflict. He besought them, however, not to impute the offence to a light and disorderly turn of mind ; such as would disgrace him at his years, and be unworthy of his rank and station in life,
"“. My motive,” he said, “ was a religious one, though I confess that it lies open to misconstruction. It grieved me, my Lords, to see the licentious manners of the citizens of London. They resembled the manners of Papal Rome in her corruptest state, and not those of a Christian communion. Was I to suffer these unhappy men to perish without warning ? That common charity forbade. The remonstrances of their spiritual pastors had been urged, I knew, in vain. I therefore went at midnight through the streets, and shot from my cross-bow at their windows, that the stones passing noiseless through the air, and breaking in suddenly upon their guilty secrecy, might remind them of the suddenness of that punishment which the Scriptures tell us Divine Justice will inflict on impenitent sinners; and so lead them to a reformation of manners.”*'.
We are wholly unable to participate in the sentiments of the editor, when he designates what to us appears a mad piece of levity as a proof of a romantic turn of mind. The ingenuity of Surrey's defence must be peculiar, to have that weight with a reverend divine in the nineteenth century in which it was to all appearance deficient with the Privy Council in the sixteenth : but surely it is ludicrous to be told, that “an enthusiastic mode of contemplating common objects' developes itself in the feat of breaking windows with a cross-bow! This mode of contemplation, however, caused Surrey to be confined in the Fleet-prison : but how long he remained there is uncertain. On the rupture with France which ensued, he went to the Continent, probably as a volunteer, under Sir J. Wallop, who commanded the English forces, in order to perfect himself in the art of war; on which occasion, and while engaged at the siege of Landrecy, his commander gives him the following character: 6 My Lord of Surrey seems to have lost no time since his arrival at the army, for he visiteth all things that be meet for a man of war to look upon for his learning; and such a seige hath not been seen this long time in these parties, and things devised for the getting of a town as this is; and although they have been slow in doing the same, yet it groweth now to a right good perfection.”
** Sec “ Satire against the Citizens of London,” p. 53.
On marks of royal favour, however, did not yet decline. In the succeeding year, Surrey was appointed to the command of Boulogne; and although at his arrival he found it in a most defenceless state, he preserved this place to the English crown by his zeal and activity. During his absence from court, the clouds began to gather around him and his family. The first notice of the coming storm reached him in an order to quit his government, and return to England; though the command was not accompanied by any marks of disapprobation. He did not hesitate to comply immediately with the royal mandate: but, as he considered Lord Hertford to be the cause of his removal, he spoke of him in terms of bitter reproach and undisguised contempt. His inconsiderate expressions, used under the sting of provocation, were reported to the King; and in consequence the gallant youth was committed a prisoner to Windsor-Castle, (a spot endeared to him under very different circumstances,) shortly after his arrival in England: but this confinement was not of long duration, and he appears, after he was enlarged, even to have assisted at some ceremonies at court. On the 12th of December 1546, however, he was again arrested, and sent prisoner to the tower of London; and the committal of the Duke of Norfolk shortly followed.
The attainder of this noble Duke and of his gallant son, under a charge of high treason, a few days previous to the death of Henry the Eighth, being historical facts by no means unimportant, are probably better known to the generality of readers than many other events of the same reign. The charges exhibited against them appear frivolous in the ex-. treme even had they been substantiated, but the majority of them were fairly rebutted by the accused; and the whole story presents a terrible scene of domestic as well as political debasement. The clomestic depravity of the age discloses itself in the breach of all honourable confidence between members of the same family, and the array of the nearest relatives of the accused on the side of the accuser; while the political degradation is shewn in the motives of the accusers themselves, barely and negligently disguised, and in the means which they took to insure their objects. Lord Surrey, having been condemned, was beheaded on Tower-hill, as it is generally supposed, in the thirtieth year of his age, on the nineteenth or twenty-first of January (it is uncertain which) 1547 *; when,
* Lord Surrey is said to have been first buried in the church of All-Hallows, Barking, and to have been afterward removed by his