Page images
PDF
EPUB

disposed to be well satisfied, when, at length, Count Rudolf of Habsburg was chosen Emperor. His estates were small, his family was undistinguished, and his power consequently could not be great. Such was the idea of the German nobles and princes; but they speedily found themselves mistaken. Rudolf lost no time in increasing the dignity of his house by matrimonial alliances; and at once called upon the princes of Germany to do homage for their fiefs. However unwillingly, all obeyed but Ottokar, who, though occupying Austria, Steyermark, Krain, and Karinthia, declined to hold himself as a vassal of the Emperor. Rudolf was bound by his coronation oath to reunite these provinces with the empire; and upon Ottokar's refusal to do homáge, declared him under the ban. Ottokar was not in a position to make war upon Rudolf with much chance of success, for he was troubled with great discontent among his Bohemian subjects; and moreover, the Pope gave his countenance to Rudolf, because he had renounced all the rights for which the Emperors had contended with Rome during the past three hundred years. On the other hand, Rudolf, King of the Romans though he was, could not at present raise a large army among his vassals. All therefore depended upon whether Hungary should espouse the cause of the Emperor or of Ottokar. The latter tried to win over his late enemies to his side, but the negotiations failed. Erzsébet, the Queen-mother, could not forget that Ottokar had driven her and her husband from Steyermark; and she therefore lent a ready ear to the flattery and promises of Rudolf; who began the war as soon as he was assured of Hungary's assistance. Ottokar was defeated, obliged to give up all his lately-acquired possessions, and to do homage for Bohemia and Moravia. To strengthen the peaceful relations, a son of Rudolf married a daughter of Ottokar. But the powerful vassal had stood too high to be able to bear the humiliation with patience; and Rudolf, fearing him, and feeling that he was still too powerful, acted ungenerously towards him, extorted from him one concession after another, and finally took under his protection Ottokar's rebellious barons. Ottokar felt that he must either fall lower and lower, or else venture all in another war. He chose the latter alternative, being encouraged thereto by the discontent prevailing in Austria, who liked not at all her new Duke Albrecht, son of Rudolf, since he had increased her taxes, and subjected her to the extortions and excesses of his Rhenish troops. The Duke of Bavaria, disappointed in his hope of receiving Upper Austria, began to draw nearer again to his old ally; and as for the German princes, their zeal in Rudolf's behalf had perceptibly cooled, as his power had increased. So much the more need had Rudolf of Hungary; and Hungary, flattered by his fair words, entered into a league with him, little guessing how, by helping to establish the power of the Habsburgs, she was actually forging her own chains for future years.

The league with Hungary was just concluded, when Rudolf received a letter from Ottokar bitterly complaining of the encouragement given by him to his rebellious barons; and the Emperor, feeling sure of Hungary, determined to break with him at once. In a terrible battle, fought near the March, where Rudolf himself narrowly escaped, Ottokar was slain. (1278.) The Emperor had lost his most formidable foe; and Hungary the enemy with whom she had been at war more or less during the last thirty years; but she gained nothing else by the blood and treasure she had layished in Rudolf's service, save indeed the jewels stolen by the Princess Anna, part of the booty taken on the field of battle, and a few banners, to be hung up as trophies in the church at Stuhlweissenburg. She was even farther now from winning her 'natural boundary' in the west, than she had been thirty years ago. Rudolf wrote indeed a most courteous letter to László, expressing his deep gratitude for the assistance which had freed him from his troublesome vassal; but the fruits of the victory he kept entirely for himself, namely, the permanent possession in his family of Austria, Steyermark, and Krain. Karinthia he bestowed on Count Meinhard of Tyrol as a reward for his inconsiderable assistance ; but the Hungarians, having no further need of them, he dismissed at once to their homes. True to the policy expressed in the famous distich, which has been the motto of the Habsburgs for many generations, and the chief promoter of their fortunes, Rudolf betrothed his daughter Guta to the young King of Bohemia, Wenzel II. ; and his son Rudolf to Wenzel's sister Agnes. The marriage with László's brother, András, had been prevented by the death of the Prince.

(To be continued.)

*

THE CAGED LION.

CHAPTER XVI.

THE CAGE OPEN.

MORE than a year had passed, and it was March when Malcolm was descending the stone stair that leads so picturesquely beneath the archway of its tower up to the hall of the College of St. Mary Winton, then really New College. He had been residing there with Dr. Bennet, associating with the young members of the foundation educated at Winchester, and studying with all the freshness of a recent institution. It had been a very happy time for him, within the grey stone walls that pleasantly recalled Coldingham, though without Coldingham's defensive aspect, and with ample food for the mind, which had again returned to its natural state of enquiring reflection and ardour for knowledge. Daily Malcolm woke early, attended Matins and Mass in the chapel,

* Bella gerant alii ; tu, felix Austria, nube

Nam quæ Mars aliis dat tibi regna Venus. VOL. 8.

24

PART 46.

studied grammar and logic, mastered difficult passages in the Fathers, or copied out portions for himself in the chamber which he as a gentleman commoner, as we should call him, possessed, instead of living in a common dormitory with the other scholars. Or in the open cloister he listened and took notes of the lectures of the fellows and tutors of the college, and seated on a bench or walking up and down, received special instructions. Then ensued the meal, spread in the hall, the period of recreation, in walks in the meadows, or in the licensed sports, or on the river, fresh studies, chapel, and a social but quiet evening over the supper in the hall. All this was varied by Latin sermons at St. Mary's, or disputations and lectures by notable doctors, and public arguments between scholars, by which they absolutely fought out their degrees. There were few colleges as yet, and those resident in them were the élite; beyond, there was a great mob of scholars living in rooms as they could, generally very poor, and often very disorderly; but they did not mar the quiet semi-monastic stillness within the foundations, and to Malcolm it seemed as if the truly congenial home was opened.

The curriculum of science began to reveal itself to him with all the stages so inviting to a mind conscious of power and longing for cultivation. The books, the learned atmosphere, the infinite possibilities, were delightful to him, and opened a more delightful future. His metaphysical Scottish mind delighted in the scholastic arguments that were now first set before him, and his readiness, appreciation, and eager power of acquiring, surprised his teachers, and made him the pride of New College.

When he looked back at his year of court and camp, he could only marvel at having ever preferred them! In war his want of bodily strength would make real distinction impossible; here he felt himself excelling; here was absolute enjoyment, and of a kind without drawback. Scholarship must be his true element and study-the deep universal study of the sisterhood of science that the University offered was his veritable vocation. Surely it was not without significance that the ring that shone on his finger betrothed him to Esclairmonde, the Light of the World, for though in person the maiden was never to be his own, she was the emblem to him of the pure virgin light of truth and wisdom that he would be for ever wooing, and winning only to see further lights beyond. Human nature felt a pang at the knowledge that he was bound to deliver up the ring and resign his connection with that fair and stately maiden; but the pain that had been sore at first had diminished under the sense that he stood in a post of generous trust, and that his sacrifice was the passport to her grateful esteem. He knew her to be with Lady Montagu, awaiting a vacancy at St. Katharine's, and this would be the signal for dissolving the contract of marriage, after which his present vision was to bestow Lilias upon Patrick, make over his estates to them, take minor orders, and set forth for Italy, there to pursue those deeper studies in theology and language for which Padua and Bologna were famous. It was many months since he had heard of Lilias; but this did not give him any great uneasiness, for messengers were few, and letter-writing far from being a common practice. He had himself written at every turningpoint of his life, and sent his letters when the King communicated with Scotland; but from his sister he had heard nothing.

He had lately won his first degree as Bachelor of Arts, and was descending the stair from the Hall after a Lenten meal on salt-fish, when he saw below him the well-known figure of King James's English servant, who doffing his cap held out to him a small strip of folded paper, fastened by a piece of crimson silk, and the royal seal. It only bore the words :

" To our right trusty and well-beloved Cousin the Lord Malcolm Stewart of

Glenuskie this letter be taken. Dear Cousin,

We greet you well, and pray you to come to us without loss of time, having need of you, we being a free man and no captive.

Yours,

James R. Written at the Castle of Windsor this St, David's Day, 1424.

A free man—the words kept ringing in Malcolm's ears while he hastened to obtain license from Warden John Bonke, and to take leave of Dr. Bennet. He had not left Oxford since the beginning of his residence there. Vacations were not general dispersions when ways

and means of transit were scarce and tardy, and Malcolm had been long without seeing his king. Joy on his sovereign's account and his country's seemed to swallow up all other thought; as to himself—when he bade bis friends and masters farewell, he declared it was merely for a time, and when they shook their heads and augured otherwise, he replied, Nay, think you I could live in the Cimmerian darkness yonder? dear Sirs! Our poor country hath nothing better than mere monastery schools, and the light of science having once shone on me, I cannot but dwell in her courts for ever! Soon shall I be altogether her son and slave!'

Nevertheless, Malcolm was full of eagerness, and pressed on rapidly through the lanes between Oxford and Windsor, rejoicing to find himself amid the noble trees of the forest, over which arose in all its grandeur the Castle and Round Tower, as beautiful though less unique than now, and bearing on it the royal standard, for the little King was still nursed there.

Under the vaulted gateway James—with Patrick and Bairdsbrae behind him—met Malcolm, and threw his arms round him, crying, “Ay, kiss me, boy, 'tis a king and no caitiff you kiss now! Another six weeks, and then for the mountain and the mour and the bonnie north countree.'

"And why not for a month ?' was Malcolm's question, as hand and eye and face responded heartily.

6

“Why? Why, because moneys must be told down, and treaties signed ; ay, and Lent is no time for weddings, nor March for southland roses to travel to our cold winds. Ay, Malcolm, you see a bridegroom that is to be! Did you think I was going home without her?'

'I did not think you would be in such glee even at being free, my Lord, if you were.' * And now, Malcolm, ken ye

of
ony

fair Scottish lassie-a cousin of mine ain, who could be had to countenance my bride at our wedding, and ride with us thereafter to Scotland ?' 'I know whom your Grace means,' said Malcolm, smiling.

An if you do, maybe, Malcolm, sin she bides not far frae the border, ye'd do me the favour of riding with Sir Patrick here, and bringing her to the bridal,' said the King, making his accent more home-like and Scottish than Malcolm had ever heard it before.

The happiness of that spring afternoon was surpassing. The King linked his arm into Malcolm's, and walked up and down with him on the slopes, telling him all that had led to this consommation ; how Walter Stewart and his brothers had become so insolent and violent as to pass the endurance of their father, the Regent, as well as of all honest Scots ; and how after secret negociations and vain endeavours to obtain from him a pledge of indemnity for all that had happened, the matter had been at length opened with Glocester, Beaufort, and the Council. The Scottish nation, with Albany at the head, was really recalling the King. This was the condition on which Henry. V. had always declared that he should be liberated; these were the terms on which he had always hoped to return, and his patience was at last rewarded. Bedford had sent his joyful consent, and all was now concluded. James was really free, and waited only for his marriage.

'I would not tell you, Malcolm, while there might yet be a slip between cup and lip,' said the King; it might have hindered the humanities, and yet I needed you as much when I was glad as when all seemed like to fail !'

“You had Patrick,' said Malcolm.

'Patrick's a tall and trusty fellow,' said the King, with a shrewd wit, and like to be a right-hand man; but there's something in you, Malcolm, that makes a man turn to you for fellow-feeling, even as to a wife.'

Nevertheless, the King and Patrick had grown much attached to each other, though the latter being no lover of books, had wearied sorely of the sojourn at Windsor, which the King himself only found endurable by much study and reflection. Their only variety had been keeping Christmas at Hertford with Queen Catherine, "sorry pastime,' as Drummond reported it to him, though gladdened to the King by Joan Beaufort's presence, in all her charms.

“The Demoiselle of Luxemburg was there too, statelier than ever,' said James. “She is now at Middleham Castle, with the Lady Montagu, and

« PreviousContinue »