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Henry Howard Earl Of Surrey








The great court festival, so long expected, was at last to take place
today. Knights and lords were preparing for the tournament; poets and
scholars for the feast of the poets. For the witty and brave king wished
to unite the two in this festival today, in order to give the world a
rare and great example of a king who could claim all virtue and wisdom
as his own; who could be equally great as a hero and as a divine;
equally great as a poet and as a philosopher and a scholar.

The knights were to fight for the honor of their ladies; the poets were
to sing their songs, and John Heywood to bring out his merry farces. Ay,
even the great scholars were to have a part in this festival; for the
king had specially, for this, summoned to London from Cambridge, where
he was then professor in the university, his former teacher in the Greek
language, the great scholar Croke, to whom belonged the merit of having
first made the learned world of Germany, as well as of England, again
acquainted with the poets of Greece. [Footnote: Tytler, p. 307.] He
wished to recite with Croke some scenes from Sophocles to his wondering
court; and though, to be sure, there was no one there who understood
the Greek tongue, yet all, without doubt, must be enraptured with the
wonderful music of the Greek and the amazing erudition of the king.

Preparations were going on everywhere; arrangements were being made;
every one was making his toilet, whether it were the toilet of the mind
or of the body.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, made his also; that is to say, he had
retired to his cabinet, and was busy filing away at the sonnets which
he expected to recite to-day, and in which he lauded the beauty and the
grace of the fair Geraldine.

He had the paper in his hand, and was lying on the velvet ottoman which
stood before his writing-table.

Had Lady Jane Douglas seen him now, she would have been filled with
painful rapture to observe how, with head leaned back on the cushion,
his large blue eyes raised dreamily to heaven, he smiled and whispered
gentle words.

He was wholly absorbed in sweet reminiscences; he was thinking of those
rapturous, blessed hours which he a few days before had spent with his
Geraldine; and as he thought of them he adored her, and repeated to her
anew in his mind his oath of eternal love and inviolable truth.

His enthusiastic spirit was completely filled with a sweet melancholy;
and he felt perfectly intoxicated by the magical happiness afforded him
by his Geraldine.

She was his--his at last! After struggles so long and painful, after
such bitter renunciation, and such mournful resignation, happiness had
at last arisen for him; the never expected had at last become indeed a
reality. Catharine loved him. With a sacred oath she had sworn to him
that she would one day become his wife; that she would become his wife
before God and man.

But when is the day to come on which he may show her to the world as
his consort? When will she be at length relieved from the burden of her
royal crown? When at length will fall from her those golden chains that
bind her to a tyrannical and bloodthirsty husband--to the cruel and
arrogant king? When will Catharine at length cease to be queen, in order
to become Lady Surrey?

Strange! As he asked himself this, there ran over him a shudder, and an
unaccountable dread fell upon his soul.

It seemed to him as if a voice whispered to him: "Thou wilt never live
to see that day! The king, old as he is, will nevertheless live longer
than thou! Prepare thyself to die, for death is already at thy door!"

And it was not the first time that he had heard that voice. Often before
it had spoken to him, and always with the same words, the same warning.
Often it seemed to him in his dreams as if he felt a cutting pain
about the neck; and he had seen a scaffold, from which his own head was
rolling down.

Henry Howard was superstitious; for he was a poet, and to poets it is
given to perceive the mysterious connection between the visible and the
invisible world; to believe that supernatural powers and invisible forms
surround man, and either protect him or else curse him.

There were hours in which he believed in the reality of his dreams--in
which he did not doubt of that melancholy and horrible fate which they
foretold.

Formerly he had given himself up to it with smiling resignation; but
now--since he loved Catharine, since she belonged to him--now he would
not die. Now, when life held out to him its most enchanting enjoyments,
its intoxicating delights--now he would not leave them--now he dreaded
to die. He was therefore cautious and prudent; and, knowing the king's
malicious, savage, and jealous character, he had always been extremely
careful to avoid everything that might excite him, that might arouse the
royal hyena from his slumbers.

But it seemed to him as though the king bore him and his family a
special spite; as though he could never forgive them that the consort
whom he most loved, and who had the most bitterly wronged him, had
sprung from their stock. In the king's every word and every look, Henry
Howard felt and was sensible of this secret resentment of the king; he
suspected that Henry was only watching for the favorable moment when he
could seize and strangle him.

He was therefore on his guard. For now, when Geraldine loved him, his
life belonged no longer to himself alone; she loved him; she had a claim
on him; his days were, therefore, hallowed in his own eyes.

So he had kept silence under the petty annoyances and vexations of the
king. He had taken it even without murmuring, and without demanding
satisfaction, when the king had suddenly recalled him from the army that
was fighting against France, and of which he was commander-in-chief, and
in his stead had sent Lord Hertford, Earl of Sudley, to the army which
was encamped before Boulogne and Montreuil. He had quietly and without
resentment returned to his palace; and since he could no longer be a
general and warrior, he became again a scholar and poet. His palace was
now again the resort of the scholars and writers of England; and he was
always ready, with true princely munificence, to assist oppressed and
despised talent; to afford the persecuted scholar an asylum in his
palace. He it was who saved the learned Fox from starvation, and took
him into his house, where Horatius Junius and the poet Churchyard,
afterward so celebrated, had both found a home--the former as his
physician and the latter as his page. [Footnote: Nott's Life of the Earl
of Surrey]

Love, the arts, and the sciences, caused the wounds that the king had
given his ambition, to heal over; and he now felt no more rancor; now
he almost thanked the king. For to his recall only did he owe his good
fortune; and Henry, who had wished to injure him, had given him his
sweetest pleasure.

He now smiled as he thought how Henry, who had taken from him the baton,
had, without knowing it, given him in return his own queen, and had
exalted him when he wished to humble him.

He smiled, and again took in hand the poem in which he wished to
celebrate in song, at the court festival that day, the honor and
praise of his lady-love, whom no one knew, or even suspected--the fair
Geraldine.

"The verses are stiff," muttered he; "this language is so poor! It has
not the power of expressing all that fulness of adoration and ecstasy
which I feel. Petrarch was more fortunate in this respect. His
beautiful, flexible language sounds like music, and it is, even just by
itself, the harmonious accompaniment of his love. Ah, Petrarch, I envy
thee, and yet would not be like thee. For thine was a mournful and
bitter-sweet lot. Laura never loved thee; and she was the mother of
twelve children, not a single one of whom belonged to thee."

He laughed with a sense of his own proud success in love, and seized
Petrarch's sonnets, which lay near him on the table, to compare his own
new sonnet with a similar one of Petrarch's.

He was so absorbed in these meditations, that he had not at all observed
that the hanging which concealed the door behind him was pushed aside,
and a marvellous young woman, resplendent with diamonds and sparkling
with jewelry, entered his cabinet.

For an instant she stood still upon the threshold, and with a smile
observed the earl, who was more and more absorbed in his reading.

She was of imposing beauty; her large eyes blazed and glowed like a
volcano; her lofty brow seemed in all respects designed to wear a crown.
And, indeed, it was a ducal coronet that sparkled on her black hair,
which in long ringlets curled down to her full, voluptuous shoulders.
Her tall and majestic form was clad in a white satin dress, richly
trimmed with ermine and pearls; two clasps of costly brilliants held
fast to her shoulders the small mantilla of crimson velvet, faced with
ermine, which covered her back and fell down to her waist.

Thus appeared the Duchess of Richmond, the widow of King Henry's natural
son, Henry Richmond; the sister of Lord Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey;
and the daughter of the noble Duke of Norfolk.

Since her husband had died and left her a widow at twenty, she resided
in her brother's palace, and had placed herself under his protection,
and in the world they were known as "the affectionate brother and
sister."

Ah, how little knew the world, which is ever wont to judge from
appearances, of the hatred and the love of these two; how little
suspicion had it of the real sentiments of this brother and sister!

Henry Howard had offered his sister his palace as her residence,
because he hoped by his presence to lay on her impulsive and voluptuous
disposition a restraint which should compel her not to overstep the
bounds of custom and decency. Lady Richmond had accepted this offer of
his palace because she was obliged to; inasmuch as the avaracious and
parsimonious king gave his son's widow only a meagre income, and her own
means she had squandered and lavishly thrown away upon her lovers.

Henry Howard had thus acted for the honor of his name; but he loved not
his sister; nay, he despised her. But the Duchess of Richmond hated
her brother, because her proud heart felt humbled by him, and under
obligations of gratitude.

But their hatred and their contempt were a secret that they both
preserved in the depths of the heart, and which they scarcely dared
confess to themselves. Both had veiled this their inmost feeling with
a show of affection, and only once in a while was one betrayed to the
other by some lightly dropped word or unregarded look.





Next: Brother And Sister

Previous: Princess Elizabeth



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