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SIR WILLIAM STANLEY.
Ah! then, the reason of those meals
Fair Valentine! dear Valentine !
SIR WILLIAM STANLEY.
“ The crimes of Richard III.," writes a great English historian,* “were so horrid, and so shocking to humanity, that the natural sentiments of men, without any political or public views, were sufficient to render his government unstable; and every person of probity and honour was earnest to prevent the sceptre from being any longer polluted by the bloody and faithless hand which held it.” Under these circumstances it was determined to bring this great national cause to final arbitrament by force of arms; and H ry, Earl of Richmond, supported by the Earl of Oxford, Sir Gilbert Talbot, Sir John Savage, the Earl of Pembroke, Sir William Brandon, Sir John Cheyney, and other knights and nobles, appeared in the field, though with a very inferior force, as the competitor of the reigning monarch.
It is the twenty-second of August, 1485; and the Field of Bosworth, near Leicester, is “ bristling with spears.” For some time the fortune of the day continues doubtful; and the issue is still dubious, when Sir William STANLEY appears in the field, and declares for the Earl of Richmond. His sudden presence, while it inspires Henry's adherents with new hope and vigour, throws those of Richard into dismay and confusion. The king, sensible of his now almost hopeless situation, casts around the field a glance of mingled desperation and despair; and descrying his rival at no great distance, rushes towards him with a fury that bespeaks his hope, that either Henry's death or his own will speedily decide the victory. He kills with his own hand the Earl of Richmond's standard-bearer, Sir William Brandon, and unhorses Sir John Cheyney. Now he reaches Henry himself, and closes with him, hand to hand. It is the decisive moment ! Sir William Stanley, rushing forward with five thousand horse, breaks through the embattled lines, surrounds King Richard, and decides the fate of the day. Richard falls, covered with blood and wounds; and Sir William STANLEY, instantly fetching from the royal tent a species of coronet which the deceased monarch
had worn, places it upon the brow of the victorious Earl, and exclaims, while thousands echo the exclamation—"LONG LIVE KING HENRY THE SEVENTH !"
This, it might be thought, were a service too important to be forgotten. The subsequent history, however, of Sir William Stanley, is calculated to afford a warning to those who, occupying stations of dignity, may be disposed too implicitly to put their “ trust in princes.”
Ten years have passed away, and there has appeared a dangerous pretender to King Henry's throne. Perkin Warbeck, professing himself to be the younger of the two sons of Edward IV., believed to have been both of them murdered in the Tower, by order of the usurper Richard III., has landed in England, and has assumed the name of Richard Plantagenet. The Duchess of Burgundy, ostensibly after a long and severe scrutiny, has declared herself satisfied of the justice of his claims, has embraced him as her nephew, the veritable Duke of York; and distinguishes him, on all occasions, by the appellation of THE WHITE ROSE OF ENGLAND. Many nobles and gentlemen have joined his standard; and among all his adherents, none is more active than Sir Robert Clifford.
In time the bubble bursts. The pretended Duke of York is discovered to be an impostor; Sir Robert Clifford, in order to obtain his own pardon, agrees to betray his accomplices; and among the names of other knights and gentlemen, whom he asserts to have espoused the cause of the detected impostor, gives up that of his friend, Sir WILLIAM STANLEY. On inquiry, indeed, it appears, that the only charge which Sir Robert can bring against his friend, is simply, that Sir William Stanley, in a conversation with himself, had observed, that if he certainly knew the young man, Perkin Warbeck, to be indeed the son of Edward IV., (by whose signal favour Sir William had been distinguished,) he, for one, would never draw his sword against him.
This is “the head and front of his offending,” but it matters not; the tide of royal favour has turned; and King Henry VII. has forgotten the service rendered to the Earl of Richmond, by the gallant knight who some few years before had literally placed the crown on his head on Bosworth Field.
On the 15th of February, 1495, the brave Sir WILLIAM STANLEY,—not for an overt act of treason, but for an expression, uttered in the supposed security of friendship,-was tried and condemned ; and on the following day publicly beheaded on Tower Hill.
The substance of these historical facts is admirably embodied in the following spirited verses, written by the late lamented L. E. L., and snpposed to be recited by the gray-headed servant of the unfortunate Sir William STANLEY.
King Henry sate amid his court, and of the nobles there,