Yet noble friends, his mixture with our blood,
Even with our own, shall no way interrupt
A general peace.


Pedro D'Ayala was ambassador from Ferdinand and Isabella to the king of England. There was something congenial in the craft and gravity of this man with the cautious policy of Henry. When the latter complained of the vexation occasioned him by the counterfeit Plantagenet, and the favour he met with in Scotland, D'Ayala offered to use his influence and counsel to terminate these feuds. He found James out of humour with York's ill success among the English, weary of a siege, where impregnable stone walls were his only enemies, uneasy at the advance of Surrey; pliable, therefore, to all his arguments. A week after D'Ayala's arrival, the Scots had recrossed the Tweed, the king and his nobles had returned to Edinburgh, and York to Katherine.

Richard's northern sun was set, and but for this fair star he had been left darkling. "When the English general in his turn crossed the Tweed, and ravaged Scotland, he was looked on by its inhabitants as the cause of their disasters; and, but that some loving friends were still true to him, he had been deserted in the land which so lately was a temple of refuge to him. The earl of Huntley exerted himself to prevent his falling into too deep disgrace in the eyes of Scotland, and was present at the consultations of the exiles to urge some new attempt in some other part of King Henry's dominions. York was anxious to wash out the memory of his overthrow; so that this check, which seemed so final to his hopes, but operated as an incentive to further exertions. Yet whither should he go? the whole earth was closed upon him. The territory of Burgundy, which had so long been his home, was forbidden. France—Concressault, who was his attached friend, dissuaded him from encountering a mortifying repulse there. Even his own Spain would refuse to receive him, now that D'Ayala had shown himself his enemy; but, no, he was not so far reduced to beg a refuge at the limits of civilization; still he had his sword, his cause, his friends.

A stranger came, an unexpected visitant from over the sea, to decide his vacillating counsels. The man was aged and silver-haired, smooth in his manners, soft-voiced, yet with quick grey eyes and compressed lips, indications of talent and resolution and subtlety. Frion saw him first, and, deceived by his almost fawning manners into an idea of his insignificance, asked his purpose and name. The stranger with the utmost gentleness refused to disclose his object to any but the prince; and Frion, with great show of insolence, refused to introduce him to his presence. "Then without thy leave, sir knave," said the old man calmly, "I must force my way."

Astley, the poor scrivener of Canterbury, was present. This honest, simple-hearted fellow, had shown so much worth, so much zeal, so much humbleness with such fidelity, that he had become a favourite in York's court, and principally with the Lady Katherine. Frion hated him, for he was his opposite, but pretended to despise him, and to use him as an underling. Astley meekly submitted, and at last gained a kind of favour in the Frenchman's eyes by the deference and respect of his manner. The stranger, with the readiness of one accustomed to select agents for his will, addressed him, bidding him announce to his highness a gentleman from Ireland. "And be assured," he said, "the duke will ill-requite any tardiness on thy part."

An angry burst from Frion interrupted him. This man, rarely off his guard, but roused now by recent mortifications, forgot himself in the violence he displayed, which strangely contrasted with the soft tranquillity of the stranger, and Astley's modest, but very determined annunciation of his resolve to convey the message to the prince. Frion, from loud words, was about to proceed to acts, when Lord Barry entered—Barry, who felt Scotland as a limbo of despair, who was for ever urging Richard to visit Ireland, to whom the court life of the English was something like a trim-fenced park to a new caught lion. Barry saw the stranger—his eyes lighted up, nay, danced with sudden joy: with no gentle hand he thrust Frion away, and then bent his knee, asking a blessing of the prior of Kilmainham; and in the same breath eagerly demanded what had brought the venerable man from Buttevant across the dangerous seas.

Keating's presence gave new life to York's councils: he brought an invitation from Maurice of Desmond to the duke. The earl had, since Richard's departure, been occupied in training troops, and so fortifying himself as to enable him to rise against Poynings, whose regular government, and above all, whose predilection for the Butlers, caused him to be detested by the Geraldines. Hurried on by hatred and revenge, Desmond resolved to do that which would be most dreaded and abhorred of Henry—to assume the badge of the White Rose, and to set up the pretensions of young Richard. The tidings were that York was a loved and honoured guest in Edinburgh; and the impetuous Desmond feared that he would hardly be induced to abandon King James's powerful alliance, for the friendship of a wild Irish chieftain. The very invitation must be committed to no mean or witless hands: the difficulties appeared so great, that the measure was on the point of being abandoned, when the prior of Kilmainham, who, in the extreme of age, awoke to fresh life at a prospect of regaining his lost consequence, offered himself to undertake the arduous task. His views went far beyond the earl's: he hoped to make the king of Scotland an active party in his plots, and to contrive a simultaneous invasion of England from the north and from the west. Already his turbulent and grasping spirit saw Irish and Scotch meeting midway in England, and with conjoined forces dethroning Tudor, and dictating terms to his successor. He came too late: he came to find a peace nearly concluded between James and Henry; the White Rose fallen into disregard; and his arrival looked, upon as the best hope, the last refuge of his fallen party.

Richard on the instant accepted his invitation. To a generous heart the feeling of enforced kindness succeeding to spontaneous affection, is intolerable. The very generosity of his own disposition made him recoil from exacting a reluctant boon from his sometime friend. To live a pensioner among the turbulent, arrogant Scots, was not to be thought of. The earl of Huntley, in fond expectation of his daughter's greatness, would have despised him had he remained inactive. Even Katherine was solicitous to leave Scotland—she knew her countrymen; and, ready as she was to give up every exalted aim, and to make her husband's happiness in the retired quiet of private life, she knew that insult and feud would attend his further tarrying among the Scotch.

York had been for nearly a year the guest of King James; twelve months, in all their long-drawn train of weeks and days, had paced over the wide earth, marking it with change: each one had left its trace in the soul of Richard. There is something frightful, to a spirit partly tired of the world, to find that their life is to be acquainted with no durable prosperity; that happiness is but a modification of a train of events, which, like the fleeting birth of flowers, varies the year with different hues. But York was still too young to be aweary even of disappointment; he met the winter of his fortunes with cheerful fortitude, so that a kind of shame visited James, inspired by the respect his injured friend so well merited.

The capricious, but really noble heart of the Scottish king was at this time put to a hard trial. One of the preliminaries of peace, most insisted upon by Henry, was, that his rival should be given up to him:—this was, at the word, refused. But even to dismiss him from his kingdom, seemed so dastardly an act towards one allied to him by his own choice, that the swelling heart of the cavalier could not yet tame itself to the statesman's necessity. Some of his subjects, meanwhile, were ready enough to cut the Gordian knot by which he was entangled. Tudor had many emissaries in Edinburgh; and Lord Moray, Lord Buchan, and the dark Both well, whose enmity had become fierce personal hate, were still egged on by various letters and messages from England to some deed of sanguinary violence.

Sir John Ramsay was sought out by Frion. That goodly diplomatist must have entertained a high opinion of his mollifying eloquence, when he dared encounter the hot temper of him he had dishonoured in the eyes of the English prince, and of his own countryman Hamilton. But Frion knew that in offering revenge he bought pardon: he was of little mark in Ramsay's eyes, while the man he had injured, and whom he consequently detested beyond every other, survived to tell the grating tale of the defeated villany of the assassin, and the godlike magnanimity of him who pardoned.

Frion's own feelings, which had vacillated, were now fixed to betray the prince. He had wavered, because he had a kind of personal affection for the noble adventurer. Somehow he managed to fancy him a creature of his own: he had worked so long, and at one time so well for him, that he had fostered the vain belief that his dearest hopes, and best pretensions, would vanish like morning mist, if he blew unkindly on them. It was not so: James had been his friend; Huntley had given him his daughter without his interference; and the Irish project, with Keating at its head, who treated Frion with galling contempt, filled up the measure of his discontents. If anything else had been needed, the Lady Katherine's favour to Astley, and some offices of trust, in which York himself had used him, sufficed to add the last sting to malice. "If they wil not let me make, they shall rue the day when I shall mar; learn shall they, that Frion can clip an eagle's wings even in its pride of flight."

It is common to say that there is honour among thieves and villains. It is not honour; but an acknowledged loss of shame and conscience, and a mutual trust in the instinctive hatred the bad must bear the good, which strongly unites them. In spite of the Frenchman's former treachery, Balmayne felt that he could now confide, that his guilt would stretch far enough to encircle in its embrace the very act he desired; and he again trusted, and used him as the chief agent of his plots.

The earl of Surrey was ravaging Scotland; and King James, with the chivalrous spirit of the times, challenged him to single combat. The earl, in answer, refused to place his master's interests at the hazard of his single prowess, though ready for any other cause to accept the honour tendered him. The herald that brought this reply, Frion reported to Richard to be charged with a letter to him. Its purpose was to declare, that though, while aided and comforted by the enemies of England, the earl warred against him, yet the Howard remembered the ancient attachments of his house; and that, if the White Rose, wholly renouncing the Scotch, would trust to the honour of the representative of a race of nobles, the army now in the field to his detriment should be turned to an engine of advantage. "Time pressed," the letter concluded by saying—"and if the duke of York were willing to give his sails to the favouring wind, let him repair with a small company to Greenock, where he would find zealous and powerful friends."

At first this intimation filled the prince with exultation and delight. The time was at last come when he should lead the native nobility of England to the field, and meet his enemy in worthy guise. There was but one check; he could not join Surrey, while Surrey was in arms against his once generous friend; so that, by a strange shifting of events, he now became anxious for peace between Scotland and England; eager that the seal should be set that destroyed the alliance and amity which had so lately been the sole hope of his life. Neville and Plantagenet entered into his views; and while, seemingly at the bottom of Fortune's scale, a new spirit of gladness animated this little knot of Englishmen.

For one thing young Richard was not prepared: the preliminaries of peace he knew were arranged, and he was aware that its conclusion would take the sword out of James's hand. They had rarely met lately; and this, while it lessened the familiarity, rather added to the apparent kindness of their interviews. There was in both these young princes a genuine warmth of heart, and brightness of spirit, that drew them close whenever they did meet. James honoured the integrity and the unconquered soul of the outcast monarch, while his own genius, his vivacity, and polished courtesy, in spite of his caprice and late falling off, spread a charm around that forced admiration and affection even from him he injured. It was at this period, that, notwithstanding their real disunion, Richard felt it as strange to find his royal host confused in manner, and backward of speech. They had been at a hunting party, where Lord Moray's haughty glance of triumph, and the sneer that curled the earl of Buchan's lip, would have disclosed some victory gained by them, had York deigned to regard their aspects. At length, after much hesitation, while riding apart from his peers, James asked—"If there were any news from the Lady Margaret of Burgundy?"

"Sir Roderick Lalayne returned to her a month ago," replied York, "and with him went my dear and zealous Lady Brampton, to urge fresh succour for one, to whom fortune has so long shown a wintry face, that methinks spring must at last be nigh at hand, herald of bright, blossoming summer."

"What promises then my lady duchess?" said the king, eagerly.

"Alas! her promises are as blank as her power," replied Richard. "Even when the old dukes of Burgundy were as emperors in Christendom, they were but as provosts and city-magistrates in the free towns of Flanders; and these towns resolve on peace with England."

"It is the cry of the world," said James, with a sigh; "this Tudor is a mighty man. Why, even I, a Scot, a warrior, and a king, am forced to join the universal voice, and exclaim, 'Peace with England,' even though my honour is the sacrifice."

"Your majesty imparts no strange truth to me," said York. "I have long known that this must be; but surely you speak in soreness of spirit, when you speak of the sacrifice of honour. I thought the terms agreed on were favourable to Scotland?"

"King Henry demanded, in the first place, the delivery of your highness into his hands." James blushed deeply as he said these words.

"Or he will come seize me," rejoined the duke, with a laugh. "In good hour I will deliver myself, if he will walk through the bristling lances, and set at naught the wide-mouthed cannon that will bellow in his path."

"Have you then new hopes?" cried the king; "oh! say but so; and half my shame, and all my sorrow vanishes. Say that you have hope of speedy good in some other country; for I have sworn, ere April wear into May, Scotland shall be made poor by your highness's absence."

A long pause followed these words. James felt as if he had given words to his own concealed dishonour, and struck his iron-girdled side with the bitter thought. "O! spirit of my father, this may not atone; but I must pay also in shame and torturous self-contempt for my heavy guilt." A sudden blow, a precipitous fall when unaware his feet had reached the crumbling brink of a beetling precipice, would not have made such commotion in Richard's heart, as the forced and frightful conviction that the friend he had trusted heaped this insult on him. For the first time in his life, perhaps, pride conquered every other feeling; for reproach had been more friendly, than the spirit that impelled him, with a placid voice, and a glance of haughty condescension, to reply:—"Now that your majesty dismisses me, I find it fittest season to thank you heartily for your many favours. That you deny me to the suit of your new ally, and send me forth scathless from your kingdom, is the very least of these. Shall I forget that, when, a wanderer and a stranger, I came hither, you were a brother to me? That when an outcast from the world, Scotland became a home of smiles, and its king my dearest friend? These are lesser favours; for your love was of more value to me than your power, though you used it for my benefit; and, when you gave me the Lady Katherine, I incurred such a debt of gratitude, that it were uncancelled, though you cast me, bound hand and foot, at Tudor's footstool. That I am bankrupt even in thanks, is my worst misery; yet, if the eye of favour, which I believe Fortune is now opening on me, brighten into noon-day splendour, let James of Scotland ask, and, when England shall be added to his now barren name, Richard will give, though it were himself."

"Gentle cousin," replied the king, "you gloss with horrid words a bitter pill to both; for though the scath seem yours, mine is the punishment. I lose what I can ill spare, a kinsman and a friend."

"Never!" cried York; "Scotland bids a realmless monarch, a beggar prince, depart: the king of Scotland, moved by strong state necessity, is no longer the ally of the disinherited orphan of Edward the Fourth: but James is Richard's friend; he will rejoice, when he sees him, borne with the flowing tide, rise from lowness to the highest top at which he aims. And now, dear my lord, grant me one other boon. I am about to depart, even of my own will; dismiss then every rankling feeling; lay no more to your generous, wounded heart, a need, which is even more mine than yours; but let smiles and love attend your kinsman to the end, unalloyed by a deeper regret, than that fate wills it, and we must separate."