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And, pretty child, sleep doubtless, and secure,
O heaven !-I thank you, Hubert.
K. John. Five moons ?
Old men, and beldames, in the streets
K. John. Why seek'st thou to possess me with these fears ?
Hub. None had, my lord ! why, did you not provoke me?
K. John. It is the curse of kings to be attended
Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
K. John, 0, when the last account 'twixt heaven and earth
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
Hub. My lord.
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or made a pause,
Hub. Arm you against your other enemies,
K. John. Doth Arthur live ? O, haste thee to the peers,
If I get down, and do not break my limbs,
From the National Shakspere.' It is unquestionably to be deplored that the greatest writers of imagination have sometimes embodied events not only unsupported by the facts of history, but utterly opposed to them. We are not speaking of those deviations from the actual succession of events,—those omissions of minor particulars ---those groupings of characters who were really never brought together,—which the poet knowingly abandons himself to, that he may accomplish the great purposes of his art, the first, of which, in a drama especially, is unity of action. Such a license has Shakspere taken in 'King John;' and who can doubt that, poetically, he was right? But there is a limit even to the mastery of the poet, when he is dealing with the broad truths of history ; for the poetical truth would be destroyed if the historical truth were utterly disregarded. For example, if the grand scenes between Arthur and Hubert, and between Hubert and John, were entirely contradicted by the truth of history, there would be an abatement even of the irresistible power of these matchless scenes. Had the proper bistorians led us to believe that no attempt was made to deprive Arthur of his sight—that his death was not the result of the dark suspicions and cowardly fears of his uncle—that the manner of his death was so clear that he who held him captive was absolved from all suspicion of treachery,—then the poet would indeed have left an impression on the mind which even the historical truth could with difficulty have overcome ; but he would not have left that complete and overwhelming impression of the reality of his scenes, he could not have produced our implicit belief in the sad story, as he tells it, of Arthur of Brittany, -he could not have rendered it impossible for any one to recur to that story, who has read this Act of 'King John,' and not think of the dark prison where the iron was hot and the executioner ready, but where nature, speaking in words such as none but the greatest poet of nature could have furnished, made the fire and the iron “deny their office," and the executioner leave the poor boy, for a while, to “ sleep doubtless and secure.” Fortunate is it that we have no records to hold up which should say that Shakspere built this imniortal scene upon a rotten foundation. The story, as told by Holinshed, is deeply interesting ; and we cannot read it without feeling how skilfully the poet has followed it :
" It is said that King John caused his nephew Arthur to be brought before him at Falaise, and there went about to persuade him all that he could to forsake his friendship and alliance with the French king, and to lean and stick to him his natural uncle. But Arthur, like one that wanted good counsel, and abounding too much in his own wilful opinion, made a presumptuous answer, not only denying so to do, but also commanding King John to restore unto him the realms of England, with all those other lands and possessions which King Richard had in his hand at the hour of his death. For sith the same appertaineth to him by right of inheritance, he assured him, except restitution were made the sooner, he should not long continue quiet. King John, being sore moved by such words thus uttered by his nephew, appointed as before is said) that he should be strictly kept in prison, as first in Falaise, and after at Roan, within the new castle there,
“Shortly after King John coming over into England caused himself to be crowned again at Canterbury, by the hands of Hubert, the archbishop there, on the fourteenth of April, and then went back again into Normandy, where, immediately upon his arrival, a rumour was spread through all France, of the death of his nephew Arthur. True it is that great suit was made to have Arthur set at liberty, as well by the French king, as by William de Miches, a valiant baron of Poitou, and divers other noblemen of the Britains, who, when they could not prevail in their suit, they banded themselves together, and joining in confederacy with Robert Earl of Alanson, the Viscount Beaumont, William de Fulgiers, and other, they began to levy sharp wars against King John in divers places, insomuch (as it was thought) that so long as Arthur lived, there would be no quiet in those parts ; whereupon it was reported, that King John, through persuasion of his counsellors, appointed certain persons to go into Falaise, where Arthur was kept in prison, under the charge of Hubert de Burgh, and there to put out the young gentleman's eyes.
“ But through such resistance as he made against one of the tormentors that came to execute the king's command (for the other rather forsook their prince and country, than they would consent to obey the king's authority therein) and such lamentable words as he uttered, Hubert de Burgh did preserve him from that injury, not doubting but rather to have thanks than displeasure at the kiug's hands, for delivering him of such infamy as would have redounded unto his highness, if the young gentleman had been so cruelly dealt withal. For he considered, that King John had resolved upon this point only in his heat and fury (which moveth men to undertake many an inconvenient enterprise, unbeseeming the person of a common man, much more reproachful to a prince, all men in that mood being more foolish and furious, and prone to accomplish the perverse conceits of their ill possessed hearts; as one saith right well,
pronus in iarm
Omne scelus, quoties concepta bile tumescit), and that afterwards, upon better advisement, he would both repent himself so to have commanded, and give them small thank that should see it put in execution. Howbeit, to satisfy his mind for the time, and to stay the rage of the Britains, he caused it to be bruited abroad through the country, that the king's commandment was fulfilled, and that Arthur also, through sorrow and grief, was departed out of this life. For the space of fifteen days this rumour incessantly ran through both the realms of England and France, and there was ringing for him through towns and villages, as it had been for his funerals. It was also bruited, that his body was buried in the monastery of Saint Andrews of the Cisteaux order.
“ But when the Britains were nothing pacified, but rather kindled more vehemently to work all the mischief they could devise, in revenge of their sovereign's death, there was no remedy but to signify abroad again that Arthu was as yet living, and in health. Now when the king heard the truth of all this matter, he was nothing displeased for that his commandment was not executed, sith there were divers of his captains which uttered in plain words, that he should not find knights to keep his castles, if he dealt so cruelly with his nephew. For if it chanced any of them to be taken by the King of France, or other their adversaries, they should be sure to taste of the like cup. But now touching the manner in very deed of the end of this Arthur, writers make sundry reports. Nevertheless certain it is, that in the year next ensuing, he was removed from Falaise unto the castle or tower of Roan, out of which there was not any that would confess that ever he saw him go
alive. Some have written that as he essayed to have escaped out of prison, and proving to climb over the walls of the castle, he fell into the river of Seine, and so was drowned. Other write, that through very grief and languor he pined away and died of natural sickness. But some affirm that King John secretly caused him to be murdered and made away, so as it is not thoroughly agreed upon, in what sort he finished his days; but verily King John was had in great suspicion, whether worthily or not, the Lord knoweth.”
Wisely has the old chronicler said, “ verily King John was had in great suspicion, whether worthily or not, the Lord knoweth ;" and wisely has Shakspere taken the least offensive mode of Arthur's death, which was to be found noticed in the obscure records of those times. It is, all things considered, most probable that Arthur perished at Rouen. The darkest of the stories connected with his death is that which makes him on the night of the 3rd April, 1203, awakened from his sleep, and led to the foot of the castle of Rouen, which the Seine washed. There, say the French historians, he entered a boat, in which sate John and Peter de Maulac, his esquire. Terror took possession of the unhappy boy, and he threw himself at his uncle's feet ;-but John came to do or to witness a deed of horror, and with his own hand he slow his nephew, and the deep waters of the river received the body of his victim.
85.—KING JOHN AND THE PAPAL POWER.-I.
HUME. The papal chair was in 1201 filled by Innocent III., who having attained that dignity at the age of thirty-seven years, and being endowed with a lofty and enterprising genius, gave full scope to his ambition, and attempted, perhaps more openly than any of his predecessors, to convert that superiority which was yielded him by all the European princes, into a real dominion over them. The hierarchy, protected by the Roman pontiff, had already carried to an enormous height its usurpations upon the civil power; but in order to extend them further, and render them useful to the court of Rome, it was necessary to reduce the ecclesiastics themselves under an absolute monarchy, and to make them entirely dependent on their spiritual leader. For this purpose, Innocent first attempted to impose taxes at pleasure upon the clergy, and in the first year of this century, taking advantage of the popular frenzy for crusades, he sent collectors over all Europe, who levied by his authority, the fortieth of all ecclesiastical revenues for the relief of the Holy Land, and received the voluntary contributions of the laity to a like amount. The same year Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, attempted another innovation, favourable to ecclesiastical and papal power. In the king's absence, he summoned by his legantine authority, a synod of all the English clergy, contrary to the inhibition of Geoffrey Fitz-Peter, the chief justiciary; and no proper censure was ever passed on this encroachment, the first of the kind, upon the royal power. But a favourable incident soon after happened, which enabled so aspiring a pontiff as Innocent, to extend still farther his usurpations on so contemptible a prince as John.
Hubert, the primate, died in 1205 ; and as the monks or canons of Christchurch, Canterbury, possessed a right of voting in the election of their archbishop, some of the juniors of the order, who lay in wait for that event, met clandestinely the very night of Hubert's death ; and without any congé d'élire from the king, chose Reginald, their sub-prior, for the successor ; installed him in the archiepiscopal throne before midnight ; and, having enjoined him the strictest secrecy, sont