Friday, May 21, 2010

Jane the Fool Meets Xit LeGrand: Ainsworth's THE TOWER OF LONDON Excerpt

I enjoy scouting Jane the Fool mentions in Wm. Harrison Ainsworth's chewy historical romance THE TOWER OF LONDON, published in 1858. Here's the bit where 2-foot-tall Sir Narcissus "Xit" LeGrand meets Jane for the first time, as Mary Tudor arrives at the Tower to depose Jane Grey and claim the throne for herself, and it also refers to the giants, Og, Gog and Magog, who may have been Henry VIII's illegitimate sons:

At the By-ward Tower she [Queen Mary] was received by Lord Clinton, and a train of nobles. On either side of the gate stood Gog and Magog. Both giants made a profound obeisance' as she passed. A few steps further, her course was checked by Og and Xit. Prostrating himself before her, the elder giant assisted his diminutive companion to clamber upon his back, and as soon as he had gained this position, the dwarf knelt down, and offered the keys of the fortress to the queen. Mary was much diverted at the incident, nor was she less surprised at the vast size of Og and his brethren—than at the resemblance they presented to her royal father. Guessing what was passing through her mind, and regardless of consequences as of decorum, Xit remarked,—
"Your majesty, I perceive, is struck with the likeness of my worthy friend Og to your late sire, King Henry VIII, of high and renowned memory. You will not, therefore, be surprised, when I inform you that he is his—"

Before another word could bo uttered, Og, who had been greatly alarmed at the preamble, arose with such suddenness, that Xit was precipitated to the ground.

"Pardon me, your majesty," cried the giant, in great confusion, " it is true what the accursed imp says. I have the honour to be indirectly related to your highness. God's death, sirrah, I have half a mind to set my foot upon thee and crush thee. Thou art ever in mischief."

The look and gesture which accompanied this exclamation, were so indescribably like their royal parent, that neither the queen nor the Princess Elizabeth could forbear laughing.

As to Xit, the occurrence gained him a new friend in the person of Jane the Fool, who ran up as he was limping off with a crest-fallen look, and begged her majesty's permission to take charge of him. This was granted, and the dwarf proceeded with the royal cortege. On learning the name of his protectress, Xit observed,—

"You are wrongfully designated, sweetheart. Jane the Queen was Jane the Fool—you are Jane the Wise."

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