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The History Of England - Content Post by :jamesfw Category :Nonfictions Author :Jane Austen Date :May 2011 Read :2709

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The History Of England - Content

HENRY the 4th

Henry the 4th ascended the throne of England much to his own
satisfaction in the year 1399, after having prevailed on his
cousin and predecessor Richard the 2nd, to resign it to him, and
to retire for the rest of his life to Pomfret Castle, where he
happened to be murdered. It is to be supposed that Henry was
married, since he had certainly four sons, but it is not in my
power to inform the Reader who was his wife. Be this as it may,
he did not live for ever, but falling ill, his son the Prince of
Wales came and took away the crown; whereupon the King made a
long speech, for which I must refer the Reader to Shakespear's
Plays, and the Prince made a still longer. Things being thus
settled between them the King died, and was succeeded by his son
Henry who had previously beat Sir William Gascoigne.


HENRY the 5th

This Prince after he succeeded to the throne grew quite reformed
and amiable, forsaking all his dissipated companions, and never
thrashing Sir William again. During his reign, Lord Cobham was
burnt alive, but I forget what for. His Majesty then turned his
thoughts to France, where he went and fought the famous Battle of
Agincourt. He afterwards married the King's daughter Catherine,
a very agreable woman by Shakespear's account. In spite of all
this however he died, and was succeeded by his son Henry.


HENRY the 6th

I cannot say much for this Monarch's sense. Nor would I if I
could, for he was a Lancastrian. I suppose you know all about
the Wars between him and the Duke of York who was of the right
side; if you do not, you had better read some other History, for
I shall not be very diffuse in this, meaning by it only to vent
my spleen AGAINST, and shew my Hatred TO all those people whose
parties or principles do not suit with mine, and not to give
information. This King married Margaret of Anjou, a Woman whose
distresses and misfortunes were so great as almost to make me who
hate her, pity her. It was in this reign that Joan of Arc lived
and made such a ROW among the English. They should not have
burnt her --but they did. There were several Battles between the
Yorkists and Lancastrians, in which the former (as they ought)
usually conquered. At length they were entirely overcome; The
King was murdered--The Queen was sent home--and Edward the 4th
ascended the Throne.


EDWARD the 4th

This Monarch was famous only for his Beauty and his Courage, of
which the Picture we have here given of him, and his undaunted
Behaviour in marrying one Woman while he was engaged to another,
are sufficient proofs. His Wife was Elizabeth Woodville, a Widow
who, poor Woman! was afterwards confined in a Convent by that
Monster of Iniquity and Avarice Henry the 7th. One of Edward's
Mistresses was Jane Shore, who has had a play written about her,
but it is a tragedy and therefore not worth reading. Having
performed all these noble actions, his Majesty died, and was
succeeded by his son.


EDWARD the 5th

This unfortunate Prince lived so little a while that nobody had
him to draw his picture. He was murdered by his Uncle's
Contrivance, whose name was Richard the 3rd.


RICHARD the 3rd

The Character of this Prince has been in general very severely
treated by Historians, but as he was a YORK, I am rather inclined
to suppose him a very respectable Man. It has indeed been
confidently asserted that he killed his two Nephews and his Wife,
but it has also been declared that he did not kill his two
Nephews, which I am inclined to beleive true; and if this is the
case, it may also be affirmed that he did not kill his Wife, for
if Perkin Warbeck was really the Duke of York, why might not
Lambert Simnel be the Widow of Richard. Whether innocent or
guilty, he did not reign long in peace, for Henry Tudor E. of
Richmond as great a villain as ever lived, made a great fuss
about getting the Crown and having killed the King at the battle
of Bosworth, he succeeded to it.


HENRY the 7th

This Monarch soon after his accession married the Princess
Elizabeth of York, by which alliance he plainly proved that he
thought his own right inferior to hers, tho' he pretended to the
contrary. By this Marriage he had two sons and two daughters,
the elder of which Daughters was married to the King of Scotland
and had the happiness of being grandmother to one of the first
Characters in the World. But of HER, I shall have occasion to
speak more at large in future. The youngest, Mary, married first
the King of France and secondly the D. of Suffolk, by whom she
had one daughter, afterwards the Mother of Lady Jane Grey, who
tho' inferior to her lovely Cousin the Queen of Scots, was yet an
amiable young woman and famous for reading Greek while other
people were hunting. It was in the reign of Henry the 7th that
Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel before mentioned made their
appearance, the former of whom was set in the stocks, took
shelter in Beaulieu Abbey, and was beheaded with the Earl of
Warwick, and the latter was taken into the Kings kitchen. His
Majesty died and was succeeded by his son Henry whose only merit
was his not being quite so bad as his daughter Elizabeth.


HENRY the 8th

It would be an affront to my Readers were I to suppose that they
were not as well acquainted with the particulars of this King's
reign as I am myself. It will therefore be saving THEM the task
of reading again what they have read before, and MYSELF the
trouble of writing what I do not perfectly recollect, by giving
only a slight sketch of the principal Events which marked his
reign. Among these may be ranked Cardinal Wolsey's telling the
father Abbott of Leicester Abbey that "he was come to lay his
bones among them," the reformation in Religion and the King's
riding through the streets of London with Anna Bullen. It is
however but Justice, and my Duty to declare that this amiable
Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was
accused, and of which her Beauty, her Elegance, and her
Sprightliness were sufficient proofs, not to mention her solemn
Protestations of Innocence, the weakness of the Charges against
her, and the King's Character; all of which add some
confirmation, tho' perhaps but slight ones when in comparison
with those before alledged in her favour. Tho' I do not profess
giving many dates, yet as I think it proper to give some and
shall of course make choice of those which it is most necessary
for the Reader to know, I think it right to inform him that her
letter to the King was dated on the 6th of May. The Crimes and
Cruelties of this Prince, were too numerous to be mentioned, (as
this history I trust has fully shown;) and nothing can be said in
his vindication, but that his abolishing Religious Houses and
leaving them to the ruinous depredations of time has been of
infinite use to the landscape of England in general, which
probably was a principal motive for his doing it, since otherwise
why should a Man who was of no Religion himself be at so much
trouble to abolish one which had for ages been established in the
Kingdom. His Majesty's 5th Wife was the Duke of Norfolk's Neice
who, tho' universally acquitted of the crimes for which she was
beheaded, has been by many people supposed to have led an
abandoned life before her Marriage--of this however I have many
doubts, since she was a relation of that noble Duke of Norfolk
who was so warm in the Queen of Scotland's cause, and who at last
fell a victim to it. The Kings last wife contrived to survive
him, but with difficulty effected it. He was succeeded by his
only son Edward.


EDWARD the 6th

As this prince was only nine years old at the time of his
Father's death, he was considered by many people as too young to
govern, and the late King happening to be of the same opinion,
his mother's Brother the Duke of Somerset was chosen Protector of
the realm during his minority. This Man was on the whole of a
very amiable Character, and is somewhat of a favourite with me,
tho' I would by no means pretend to affirm that he was equal to
those first of Men Robert Earl of Essex, Delamere, or Gilpin. He
was beheaded, of which he might with reason have been proud, had
he known that such was the death of Mary Queen of Scotland; but
as it was impossible that he should be conscious of what had
never happened, it does not appear that he felt particularly
delighted with the manner of it. After his decease the Duke of
Northumberland had the care of the King and the Kingdom, and
performed his trust of both so well that the King died and the
Kingdom was left to his daughter in law the Lady Jane Grey, who
has been already mentioned as reading Greek. Whether she really
understood that language or whether such a study proceeded only
from an excess of vanity for which I beleive she was always
rather remarkable, is uncertain. Whatever might be the cause,
she preserved the same appearance of knowledge, and contempt of
what was generally esteemed pleasure, during the whole of her
life, for she declared herself displeased with being appointed
Queen, and while conducting to the scaffold, she wrote a sentence
in Latin and another in Greek on seeing the dead Body of her
Husband accidentally passing that way.


MARY

This woman had the good luck of being advanced to the throne of
England, in spite of the superior pretensions, Merit, and Beauty
of her Cousins Mary Queen of Scotland and Jane Grey. Nor can I
pity the Kingdom for the misfortunes they experienced during her
Reign, since they fully deserved them, for having allowed her to
succeed her Brother--which was a double peice of folly, since
they might have foreseen that as she died without children, she
would be succeeded by that disgrace to humanity, that pest of
society, Elizabeth. Many were the people who fell martyrs to the
protestant Religion during her reign; I suppose not fewer than a
dozen. She married Philip King of Spain who in her sister's
reign was famous for building Armadas. She died without issue,
and then the dreadful moment came in which the destroyer of all
comfort, the deceitful Betrayer of trust reposed in her, and the
Murderess of her Cousin succeeded to the Throne.----


ELIZABETH

It was the peculiar misfortune of this Woman to have bad
Ministers---Since wicked as she herself was, she could not have
committed such extensive mischeif, had not these vile and
abandoned Men connived at, and encouraged her in her Crimes. I
know that it has by many people been asserted and beleived that
Lord Burleigh, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the rest of those who
filled the cheif offices of State were deserving, experienced,
and able Ministers. But oh! how blinded such writers and such
Readers must be to true Merit, to Merit despised, neglected and
defamed, if they can persist in such opinions when they reflect
that these men, these boasted men were such scandals to their
Country and their sex as to allow and assist their Queen in
confining for the space of nineteen years, a WOMAN who if the
claims of Relationship and Merit were of no avail, yet as a Queen
and as one who condescended to place confidence in her, had every
reason to expect assistance and protection; and at length in
allowing Elizabeth to bring this amiable Woman to an untimely,
unmerited, and scandalous Death. Can any one if he reflects but
for a moment on this blot, this everlasting blot upon their
understanding and their Character, allow any praise to Lord
Burleigh or Sir Francis Walsingham? Oh! what must this
bewitching Princess whose only freind was then the Duke of
Norfolk, and whose only ones now Mr Whitaker, Mrs Lefroy, Mrs
Knight and myself, who was abandoned by her son, confined by her
Cousin, abused, reproached and vilified by all, what must not her
most noble mind have suffered when informed that Elizabeth had
given orders for her Death! Yet she bore it with a most unshaken
fortitude, firm in her mind; constant in her Religion; and
prepared herself to meet the cruel fate to which she was doomed,
with a magnanimity that would alone proceed from conscious
Innocence. And yet could you Reader have beleived it possible
that some hardened and zealous Protestants have even abused her
for that steadfastness in the Catholic Religion which reflected
on her so much credit? But this is a striking proof of THEIR
narrow souls and prejudiced Judgements who accuse her. She was
executed in the Great Hall at Fortheringay Castle (sacred Place!)
on Wednesday the 8th of February 1586--to the everlasting
Reproach of Elizabeth, her Ministers, and of England in general.
It may not be unnecessary before I entirely conclude my account
of this ill-fated Queen, to observe that she had been accused of
several crimes during the time of her reigning in Scotland, of
which I now most seriously do assure my Reader that she was
entirely innocent; having never been guilty of anything more than
Imprudencies into which she was betrayed by the openness of her
Heart, her Youth, and her Education. Having I trust by this
assurance entirely done away every Suspicion and every doubt
which might have arisen in the Reader's mind, from what other
Historians have written of her, I shall proceed to mention the
remaining Events that marked Elizabeth's reign. It was about
this time that Sir Francis Drake the first English Navigator who
sailed round the World, lived, to be the ornament of his Country
and his profession. Yet great as he was, and justly celebrated
as a sailor, I cannot help foreseeing that he will be equalled in
this or the next Century by one who tho' now but young, already
promises to answer all the ardent and sanguine expectations of
his Relations and Freinds, amongst whom I may class the amiable
Lady to whom this work is dedicated, and my no less amiable self.

Though of a different profession, and shining in a different
sphere of Life, yet equally conspicuous in the Character of an
Earl, as Drake was in that of a Sailor, was Robert Devereux Lord
Essex. This unfortunate young Man was not unlike in character to
that equally unfortunate one FREDERIC DELAMERE. The simile may
be carried still farther, and Elizabeth the torment of Essex may
be compared to the Emmeline of Delamere. It would be endless to
recount the misfortunes of this noble and gallant Earl. It is
sufficient to say that he was beheaded on the 25th of Feb, after
having been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, after having clapped his
hand on his sword, and after performing many other services to
his Country. Elizabeth did not long survive his loss, and died
so miserable that were it not an injury to the memory of Mary I
should pity her.


JAMES the 1st

Though this King had some faults, among which and as the most
principal, was his allowing his Mother's death, yet considered on
the whole I cannot help liking him. He married Anne of Denmark,
and had several Children; fortunately for him his eldest son
Prince Henry died before his father or he might have experienced
the evils which befell his unfortunate Brother.

As I am myself partial to the roman catholic religion, it is with
infinite regret that I am obliged to blame the Behaviour of any
Member of it: yet Truth being I think very excusable in an
Historian, I am necessitated to say that in this reign the roman
Catholics of England did not behave like Gentlemen to the
protestants. Their Behaviour indeed to the Royal Family and both
Houses of Parliament might justly be considered by them as very
uncivil, and even Sir Henry Percy tho' certainly the best bred
man of the party, had none of that general politeness which is so
universally pleasing, as his attentions were entirely confined to
Lord Mounteagle.

Sir Walter Raleigh flourished in this and the preceeding reign,
and is by many people held in great veneration and respect--But
as he was an enemy of the noble Essex, I have nothing to say in
praise of him, and must refer all those who may wish to be
acquainted with the particulars of his life, to Mr Sheridan's
play of the Critic, where they will find many interesting
anecdotes as well of him as of his friend Sir Christopher
Hatton.--His Majesty was of that amiable disposition which
inclines to Freindship, and in such points was possessed of a
keener penetration in discovering Merit than many other people.
I once heard an excellent Sharade on a Carpet, of which the
subject I am now on reminds me, and as I think it may afford my
Readers some amusement to FIND IT OUT, I shall here take the
liberty of presenting it to them.

SHARADE
My first is what my second was to King James the 1st, and you
tread on my whole.

The principal favourites of his Majesty were Car, who was
afterwards created Earl of Somerset and whose name perhaps may
have some share in the above mentioned Sharade, and George
Villiers afterwards Duke of Buckingham. On his Majesty's death
he was succeeded by his son Charles.


CHARLES the 1st

This amiable Monarch seems born to have suffered misfortunes
equal to those of his lovely Grandmother; misfortunes which he
could not deserve since he was her descendant. Never certainly
were there before so many detestable Characters at one time in
England as in this Period of its History; never were amiable men
so scarce. The number of them throughout the whole Kingdom
amounting only to FIVE, besides the inhabitants of Oxford who
were always loyal to their King and faithful to his interests.
The names of this noble five who never forgot the duty of the
subject, or swerved from their attachment to his Majesty, were as
follows--The King himself, ever stedfast in his own support
--Archbishop Laud, Earl of Strafford, Viscount Faulkland and Duke
of Ormond, who were scarcely less strenuous or zealous in the
cause. While the VILLIANS of the time would make too long a list
to be written or read; I shall therefore content myself with
mentioning the leaders of the Gang. Cromwell, Fairfax, Hampden,
and Pym may be considered as the original Causers of all the
disturbances, Distresses, and Civil Wars in which England for
many years was embroiled. In this reign as well as in that of
Elizabeth, I am obliged in spite of my attachment to the Scotch,
to consider them as equally guilty with the generality of the
English, since they dared to think differently from their
Sovereign, to forget the Adoration which as STUARTS it was their
Duty to pay them, to rebel against, dethrone and imprison the
unfortunate Mary; to oppose, to deceive, and to sell the no less
unfortunate Charles. The Events of this Monarch's reign are too
numerous for my pen, and indeed the recital of any Events (except
what I make myself) is uninteresting to me; my principal reason
for undertaking the History of England being to Prove the
innocence of the Queen of Scotland, which I flatter myself with
having effectually done, and to abuse Elizabeth, tho' I am rather
fearful of having fallen short in the latter part of my scheme.
--As therefore it is not my intention to give any particular
account of the distresses into which this King was involved
through the misconduct and Cruelty of his Parliament, I shall
satisfy myself with vindicating him from the Reproach of
Arbitrary and tyrannical Government with which he has often been
charged. This, I feel, is not difficult to be done, for with one
argument I am certain of satisfying every sensible and well
disposed person whose opinions have been properly guided by a
good Education--and this Argument is that he was a STUART.

Finis
Saturday Nov: 26th 1791.

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