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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 423



him to marry a Princess who had previously been rejected by his nephew of Scotland. The French monarch then offered him the choice of the two younger sisters of the Queen of Scots, declaring that in every respect they equalled their elder sister, whilst one of them was even her superior in beauty. Henry, who was scrupulously desirous to obtain a handsome and an accomplished wife, and, above all, wished to see and hear that she sung with taste, expression, and a sweet countenance, proposed to Francis that they should have a conference at Calais on pretence of business, and that this monarch should bring along with him the two Princesses of Guise, together with the finest ladies of royal birth in France, that Henry might take his choice. But Francis, whose spirit of gallantry was shocked with tbe proposal, replied, that he could not bring ladies of noble birth to market, like horses, to be chosen or rejected by the whim of the purchaser. Thus, after nearly a year spent in fruitless negotiation, Henry relinquished the idea of choosing a consort from the royal beauties of France, and growing tired of his wifeless state, he at length listened to the importunities of Cromwell, who sought to add to his own power and to strengthen the decaying cause of the reformation, by marrying the Xing to one of the Lutheran Princesses of Germany—a fatal error, which, in the sequel, cost him his life. The ladies Cromwell recommended to Henry with such nattering commendations were Anne of Cleves and her sister Emily, whose lather, the Duke of that name, had great interest amongst the Lutheran princes, and whose elder sister, Sybilla, was married to the Elector of Saxony, the head of the Protestant League. Anne of Cleves was born in September, 1516, and her sister Emily about two years afterwards. Sybilla, the wife of the Elector of Saxony, was notoriously one of the most beautiful, talented, and virtuous women of her times. Cromwell had calculated that the two younger sisters resembled her in these particulars ; but in this he was completely mistakeii. I Anne, with whom we alone have to deal, ! although virtuous, gentle, and soberminded, was devoid of beauty, talent, energy, and vivacity, and, with the single exception of needle-work, quite unaccomplished. On tbe receipt of nattering commen dations of Anne and her sister from Cromwell's agents at the courts of Cleves and Saxony, Henry sent his favourite artist, Hans Holbein, to take portraits to the life of the two Princesses. That of Anne, a highly flattering one, so well pleased Henry, that he resolved to pos sess himself of the original with all pos sible speed. The Elector of Saxony, who accredited the common report that Henry had poisoned his first wife, un justly beheaded tbe second, and killed the third in childbed by wilful neglect, was anxious to prevent the union of his gentle sister-in-law with such a heartless conjugal tyrant ; hut Cromwell's agent, Christopher Mount, quieted his scruples by an assurance that the report was a base exaggeration ; and that, as Henry could be best ruled through the influence of his wife, the cause of Protestantism would be greatly advanced by Anne's proposed marriage. In February, 1539, Anne's father died; but this event only caused a slight delay in the proceedings, as her mother, the sensible Mary, daughter and heiress of William, Duke of Juliers, and her brother, who succeeded to his father's crown and honors, were both anxious that Anne should wear the crown matrimonial of England. On the eleventh of August, Nicholas Wotton, Henry's commissioner for the marriage, addressed a dispatch to his sovereign, declaring that the council of the Duke of Clcves was hastening the preparations for the marriage, that Anne was free to marry, and not bound by the nuptial contract negotiated some years back between her father and the Duke of Lorraine ; that she had received a similar education to her sister Sybilla, was meek and gentle in disposition, was an excellent hand at her needle, was temperate and sober, could road and write her own language, but no other, and knew nothing whatever of music—


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