The fickle sun of “merrie England” shone forth in unusual splendor; and, as if resolved to bless the august ceremony on which it gazed, permitted not a cloud to shadow the lustrous beams, which, darted their floods of light through the gorgeous casements of Westminster Abbey, in whose sacred precincts was then celebrating the bridal of the young heir of England, with a fair and gentle daughter of Spain. It was a scene to interest the coldest heart—not for the state and splendor of the accoutrements, nor the high rank of the parties principally concerned, nor for the many renowned characters of church, state, and chivalry there assembled; it was the extreme youth and touching expression, impressed on the features, of both bride and bridegroom.
Neither Arthur, Prince of Wales, nor Catherine, Infanta of Arragon, had yet numbered eighteen years, the first fresh season of joyous life; but on neither countenance could be traced the hilarity and thoughtlessness, natural to their age. The fair, transparent brow of the young Prince, under which the blue veins could be clearly seen, till lost beneath the rich chesnut curls, that parted on his brow, fell loosely on either shoulder; the large and deep blue eye, which was ever half concealed beneath the long, dark lash, as if some untold languor caused the eyelid to droop so heavily; the delicate pink of his downless cheek, the brilliant hue on his lips, even his peculiar smile, all seemed to whisper the coming ill, that one so dear to Englishmen would not linger with them to fulfil the sweet promise of his youth.
Beauty is, perhaps, too strong a word to apply to the youthful bride. It was the pensive sadness of her mild and pleasing features that so attracted—natural enough to her position in a strange land, and the thoughts of early severance from a mother she idolized, but recalled some twenty years afterwards as the dim shadow of the sorrowing future, glooming through the gay promise of the present. And there, too, was Prince Henry, then only in his twelfth year, bearing in his flashing eye and constantly varying expression of brow and mouth, true index of those passions which were one day to shake Europe to the centre; and presenting in his whole appearance a striking contrast to his brother, and drawing around him, even while yet so young, the hottest and wildest spirits of his father’s court, who, while they loved the person, scorned the gentle amusements of the Prince of Wales.
Henry the Seventh and his hapless consort, Elizabeth of York, were, of course, present—the one rejoicing in the conclusion of a marriage for which he had been in treaty the last seven years, and which was at last purchased at the cost of innocent blood; the other beholding only her precious son, whose gentle and peculiarly domestic virtues, were her sweetest solace for conjugal neglect and ill-concealed dislike.