The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

At the expiration of a quarter of an hour, the queen, who had been summoned by Lord Guilford Dudley, reappeared. The great door was then instantly thrown open by two officials with white wands, and, attended by Northumberland, to whom she gave her hand, traversing a second long gallery, she descended a broad flight of steps, and entered upon another range of buildings, which has since shared the fate of the old palace, but which then, extending in a northerly direction, and flanked on the right by a fortification denominated the Wardrobe Tower, connected the royal apartments with the White Tower. Taking her way through various halls, chambers, and passages in this pile, Jane, at length, arrived at the foot of a wide stone staircase, on mounting which she found herself in a large and lofty chamber, with a massive roof crossed and supported by ponderous beams of timber. This room, which was situated within the White Tower, and which Jane was apprised adjoined the council-chamber, was filled with armed men. Smiling at this formidable assemblage, Northumberland directed the queen towards a circular-arched opening in the wall on the right, and led her into a narrow vaulted gallery formed in the thickness of the wall. A few steps brought them to another narrow gallery, branching off on the left, along which they proceeded. Arrived at a wide opening in the wall, a thick curtain was then drawn aside by two attendants, and Jane was ushered into the council-chamber. The sight which met her gaze was magnificent beyond description. The vast hall, resembling in all respects the antechamber she had just quitted, except that it was infinitely more spacious, with its massive roof hung with banners and its wooden pillars decorated with velvet and tapestry, was crowded to excess with all the principal persons and their attendants who had formed her retinue in her passage along the river, grouped according to their respective ranks. At the upper end of the chamber, beneath a golden canopy, was placed the throne; on the right of which stood the members of the privy council, and on the left the bishops. Opposite to the throne, at the lower extremity of the room, the walls were hung with a thick curtain of black velvet, on which was displayed a large silver scutcheon charged with the royal blazon. Before this curtain was drawn up a line of arquebusiers, each with a caliver upon his shoulder.

No sooner was the queen seated, than Northumberland, who had placed himself at the foot of the throne, prostrated himself, and besought her permission to lay before the lords of the council a despatch, just received from the Lady Mary; which being accorded, he arose, and, turning towards them, unfolded a paper, and addressed them in a stern tone as follows: “My lords,” he began, “it will scarcely surprise you to be informed that the Lady Mary, in the letter I here hold, given under her signet, and dated from Kenninghall in Norfolk, lays claim to the imperial crown of this realm, and requires and charges you, of your allegiance, which you owe to her, and to none other—it is so written, my lords—to employ yourselves for the honour and surety of her person only; and furthermore, to cause her right and title to the crown and government of the realm to be proclaimed within the city of London and other places, as to your wisdoms shall seem good. Now, my lords, what say you? What answer will you make to these insolent demands—to these idle and imaginary claims?”

“None whatever,” replied the Earl of Pembroke; “we will treat them with the scorn they merit.”

“That may not be, my lord,” observed Queen Jane; “your silence will be misconstrued.”

“Ay, marry will it,” rejoined Northumberland, glancing fiercely at the earl; “and your advice, my lord of Pembroke, savours strongly of disloyalty. I will tell you how you shall answer this misguided lady. You shall advertise her, firstly, that on the death of our sovereign lord, Edward the Sixth, Queen Jane became invested and possessed with the just and right title in the imperial crown of this realm, not only by good order of ancient laws, but also by our late sovereign lord’s letters-patent, signed with his own hand, and sealed with the great seal of England, in presence of the most part of the nobles, councillors, judges, and divers other grave and sage personages, assenting to and subscribing the same. You shall next tell her, that having sworn allegiance to Queen Jane, you can offer it to no other, except you would fall into grievous and unspeakable enormities. You shall also remind her, that by the divorce made between the king of famous memory, King Henry the Eighth, and the lady Catherine her mother, confirmed by sundry acts of parliament yet in force, she was justly made illegitimate and unheritable to the crown of this realm. And lastly, you shall require her to surcease, by any pretence, to vex and molest our sovereign lady Queen Jane, or her subjects from their true faith and allegiance unto her grace. This, my lords, is the answer you shall return.”

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200