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How Anne Boleyn Received Proof Of Henry's Passion For Jane Seymour






Of Henry's Attachment To Jane Seymour








ON the anniversary of Saint George, 1536, and exactly seven years from
the opening of this chronicle, Henry assembled the knights-companions
within Windsor Castle to hold the grand feast of the most noble Order of
the Garter.

Many important events had occurred in the wide interval thus suffered
to elapse. Wolsey had long since sunk under his reverses--for he never
regained the royal favour after his dismissal--and had expired at
Leicester Abbey, on the 26th November 1530.

But the sufferings of Catherine of Arragon were prolonged up to the
commencement of the year under consideration. After the divorce and the
elevation of Anne Boleyn to the throne in her stead, she withdrew to
Kimbolten Castle, where she dwelt in the greatest retirement, under the
style of the Princess Dowager. Finding her end approaching, she sent
a humble message to the king, imploring him to allow her one last
interview with her daughter, that she might bestow her blessing upon
her; but the request was refused.

A touching letter, however, which she wrote to the king on her
death-bed, moved him to tears; and having ejaculated a few expressions
of his sense of her many noble qualities, he retired to his closet
to indulge his grief in secret. Solemn obsequies were ordered to be
performed at Windsor and Greenwich on the day of her interment, and the
king and the whole of his retinue put on mourning for her.

With this arrangement Anne Boleyn cared not to comply. Though she
had attained the summit of her ambition; though the divorce had been
pronounced, and she was crowned queen; though she had given birth to a
daughter--the Princess Elizabeth, afterwards the illustrious queen of
that name two years before; and though she could have no reasonable
apprehensions from her, the injured Catherine, during her lifetime,
had always been an object of dread to her. She heard of her death
with undisguised satisfaction, clapped her hands, exclaiming to her
attendants, "Now I am indeed queen!" and put the crowning point to her
unfeeling conduct by decorating herself and her dames in the gayest
apparel on the day of the funeral.

Alas! she little knew that at that very moment the work of retribution
commenced, and that the wrongs of the injured queen, whose memory she
thus outraged, were soon to be terribly and bloodily avenged.

Other changes had likewise taken place, which may be here recorded. The
Earl of Surrey had made the tour of France, Italy, and the Empire,
and had fully kept his word, by proclaiming the supremacy of the Fair
Geraldine's beauty at all tilts and tournaments, at which he constantly
bore away the prize. But the greatest reward, and that which he hoped
would crown his fidelity--the hand of his mistress--was not reserved for
him.

At the expiration of three years, he returned home, polished by travel,
and accounted one of the bravest and most accomplished cavaliers of the
day. His reputation had preceded him, and he was received with marks of
the highest distinction and favour by Henry, as well as by Anne Boleyn.
But the king was still averse to the match, and forbade the Fair
Geraldine to return to court.

Finding so much opposition on all sides, the earl was at last brought to
assent to the wish of the Fair Geraldine, that their engagement should
be broken off. In her letters, she assured him that her love had
undergone no abatement--and never would do so--but that she felt they
must give up all idea of an union.

These letters, probably the result of some manoeuvring on his own part,
set on foot by the royal mandate, were warmly seconded by the Duke of
Norfolk, and after many and long solicitations, he succeeded in wringing
from his son a reluctant acquiescence to the arrangement.

The disappointment produced its natural consequences on the ardent
temperament of the young earl, and completely chilled and blighted his
feelings. He became moody and discontented; took little share in the
amusement and pastimes going forward; and from being the blithest
cavalier at court, became the saddest. The change in his demeanour did
not escape the notice of Anne Boleyn, who easily divined the cause, and
she essayed by raillery and other arts to wean him from his grief. But
all was for some time of no avail. The earl continued inconsolable. At
last, however, by the instrumentality of the queen and his father, he
was contracted to the Lady Frances Vere, daughter of the Earl of Oxford,
and was married to her in 1535.

Long before this the Duke of Richmond had been wedded to the Lady Mary
Howard.

For some time previous to the present era of this chronicle, Anne Boleyn
had observed a growing coolness towards her on the part of the king,
and latterly it had become evident that his passion for her was fast
subsiding, if indeed it had not altogether expired.

Though Anne had never truly loved her royal consort, and though at that
very time she was secretly encouraging the regards of another, she
felt troubled by this change, and watched all the king's movements
with jealous anxiety, to ascertain if any one had supplanted her in his
affections.

At length her vigilance was rewarded by discovering a rival in one
of the loveliest of her dames, Jane Seymour. This fair creature, the
daughter of Sir John Seymour, of Wolff Hall, in Wiltshire, and who was
afterwards, it is almost needless to say, raised to as high a dignity
as Anne Boleyn herself, was now in the very pride of her beauty. Tall,
exquisitely proportioned, with a complexion of the utmost brilliancy and
delicacy, large liquid blue eyes, bright chestnut tresses, and lovely
features, she possessed charms that could not fall to captivate the
amorous monarch. It seems marvellous that Anne Boleyn should have such
an attendant; but perhaps she felt confident in her own attractions.

Skilled in intrigue herself, Anne, now that her eyes were opened,
perceived all the allurements thrown out by Jane to ensnare the king,
and she intercepted many a furtive glance between them. Still she did
not dare to interfere. The fierceness of Henry's temper kept her in awe,
and she knew well that the slightest opposition would only make him the
more determined to run counter to her will. Trusting, therefore, to get
rid of Jane Seymour by some stratagem, she resolved not to attempt to
dismiss her, except as a last resource.

A slight incident occurred, which occasioned a departure from the
prudent course she had laid down to herself.

Accompanied by her dames, she was traversing the great gallery of the
palace at Greenwich, when she caught the reflection of Jane Seymour,
who was following her, in a mirror, regarding a jewelled miniature.
She instantly turned round at the sight, and Jane, in great confusion,
thrust the picture into her bosom.

"Ah I what have you there?" cried Anne.

"A picture of my father, Sir John Seymour," replied Jane, blushing
deeply.

"Let me look at it," cried Anne, snatching the picture from her. "Ah!
call you this your father? To my thinking it is much more like my royal
husband. Answer me frankly, minion--answer me, as you value your life!
Did the king give you this?"

"I must decline answering the question," replied Jane, who by this time
had recovered her composure.

"Ah! am I to be thus insolently treated by one of my own dames?" cried
Anne.

"I intend no disrespect to your majesty," replied Jane, "and I will,
since you insist upon it, freely confess that I received the portrait
from the king. I did not conceive there could be any harm in doing so,
because I saw your majesty present your own portrait, the other day, to
Sir Henry Norris."

Anne Boleyn turned as pale as death, and Jane Seymour perceived that she
had her in her power.

"I gave the portrait to Sir Henry as a recompense for an important
service he rendered me," said Anne, after a slight pause.

"No doubt," replied Jane; "and I marvel not that he should press it so
fervently to his lips, seeing he must value the gift highly. The king
likewise bestowed his portrait upon me for rendering him a service."

"And what was that?" asked Anne.

"Nay, there your majesty must hold me excused," replied the other. "It
were to betray his highness's confidence to declare it. I must refer you
to him for explanation."

"Well, you are in the right to keep the secret," said Anne, forcing a
laugh. "I dare say there is no harm in the portrait--indeed, I am
sure there is not, if it was given with the same intent that mine was
bestowed upon Norris. And so we will say no more upon the matter, except
that I beg you to be discreet with the king. If others should comment
upon your conduct, I may be compelled to dismiss you."

"Your majesty shall be obeyed," said Jane, with a look that intimated
that the request had but slight weight with her.

"Catherine will be avenged by means of this woman," muttered Anne as
she turned away. "I already feel some of the torments with which she
threatened me. And she suspects Norris. I must impress more caution
on him. Ah! when a man loves deeply, as he loves me, due restraint is
seldom maintained."

But though alarmed, Anne was by no means aware of the critical position
in which she stood. She could not persuade herself that she had
entirely lost her influence with the king; and she thought that when his
momentary passion had subsided, it would return to its old channels.

She was mistaken. Jane Seymour was absolute mistress of his heart; and
Anne was now as great a bar to him as she had before been an attraction.
Had her conduct been irreproachable, it might have been difficult to
remove her; but, unfortunately, she had placed herself at his mercy, by
yielding to the impulses of vanity, and secretly encouraging the passion
of Sir Henry Norris, groom of the stole.

This favoured personage was somewhat above the middle Size, squarely and
strongly built. His features were regularly and finely formed, and he
had a ruddy complexion, brown curling hair, good teeth, and fine eyes
of a clear blue. He possessed great personal strength, was expert in all
manly exercises, and shone especially at the jousts and the manege. He
was of an ardent temperament, and Anne Boleyn had inspired him with so
desperate a passion that he set at nought the fearful risk he ran to
obtain her favour.

In all this seemed traceable the hand of fate--in Henry's passion for
Jane Seymour, and Anne's insane regard for Norris--as if in this way,
and by the same means in which she herself had been wronged, the injured
Catherine of Arragon was to be avenged.

How far Henry's suspicions of his consort's regard for Norris had been
roused did not at the time appear. Whatever he felt in secret, he took
care that no outward manifestation should betray him. On the contrary he
loaded Norris, who had always been a favourite with him, with new marks
of regard, and encouraged rather than interdicted his approach to the
queen.

Things were in this state when the court proceeded to Windsor, as before
related, on Saint George's day.





Next: How Anne Boleyn Received Proof Of Henry's Passion For Jane Seymour

Previous: How The Train Was Fired And What Followed The Explosion



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