The Baldwin Library
fc University of Florida
THE QUEEN'S STORY BOOK
QUEEN'S STORY BOOK
BEING HISTORICAL STORIES COLLECTED OUT OF ENGLISH ROMANTIC LITERATURE IN ILLUSTRATION OF THE REIGNS OF ENGLISH MONARCHS FROM THE CONQUEST TO QUEEN VICTORIA
WITH AN INTRODUCTION
GEORGE LAURENCE GOMME
W. H. ROBINSON
WESTMINSTER ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & CO 2 WHITEHALL GARDENS 1898
BUTLER & TANNER, THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS, FROME, AND LONDON.
TO MY WIFE
IN the Kings Story Book issued last year I ventured upon a new departure in books designed to amuse, and the venture answered every expectation. It supplied specimens of our romantic prose literature to many who would gladly know more of what English literature has to say of English history. But of course the mine was not exhausted, and in the present volume, designed upon the same principle as its predecessor, further contributions are presented. The great masters Scott and Thackeray, together with Lytton, John Gait, Ainsworth and others, are again called upon, while specimens from writers not used in the former volumeDaniel Defoe, Thomas Love Peacock, Lord Beaconsfield and others, together with stories from Lord Berner's Elizabethan translation of Froissart's chronicleare now included. Most people who love the masters of English literature have their favourite passages, passages that have been read through dozens of times, and always with equal zest. To present many such passages as separate stories will, I think, be an acceptable offering to the fireside literature of our day.
The history presented by this volume begins with the events which crowned the great victory at Hastings. These events have passed from history to tradition, and from tradition back again into historical fiction. The woful search of Edith for the dead body of her beloved Harold the King is a theme which reaches the young through a more subtle channel than that of text-book or class lecture. They learn it as they learn about King Alfred and the cakes and about Cinderellathat is, in a manner not to be stated with categorical nicety and precision, for it seems to have come to them through the air they breathe. And delightful it is to know of these few germs of traditional stories growing
up from English history, for, unlike most people with a history, the English do not, so to speak, live with it. They keep it afar off as a thing that concerns them not, except as a matter of training or of individual taste. But the fair form of Edith and that grisly search among the dead is nearer to the popular mind than most other events. Sir Charles Napier's not very well known story of this episode is characteristic enough, flavoured though it is with a morality which does not belong to the age of the event. For William II. I have chosen the story of an anonymous writer of some considerable power. He depicts the King on the eve of the rebellion of Stephen of Aumale; and the tyranny of the monarch, the feeling of the nobles, the position of Flambard, all assembled at the council, are powerfully shown. "Now, afore God and His holy saints exclaims Hugh, Earl of Chester, from the crown of thy head downward, and from the sole of thy foot upward, William of England thou art, past thought and speech, a matchless tyrant!" Henry I. is not represented in this volume ; there is no romance which illustrates his reign. The story of Matilda at Reading Abbey is by Charles Macfarlane, and though perhaps not true of this particular abbey, is typical of the position assumed by Matilda during her brief triumph on the English throne.
The story of fair Rosamond's death at the hands of Queen Eleanor begins the rule of the Plantagenets. This is another story belonging to history proper which has descended to popular tradition. The episode in this volume is written by Thomas Miller, and is perhaps one of the least satisfactory stories in the volume, though perhaps it does not do much violence to the character of this vindictive queen. For that great hero of romance, Richard Cceur de Lion, Thomas Love Peacock's fine story of Maid Marian is chosen, and Richard stands out well in close analogy to the episode dealt with by Scott. The reign of John is not represented, and Henry III. and his queen are only introduced by a slight picture of their court taken from one of the forgotten novels of Mrs. Radcliffe. Miss Porter's romance of the Scottish Chiefs supplies the story for Edward I.'s reign, but this once popular romance is not of a sufficiently high quality to be able to stand in contrast with the rest of
the volume. Both the great Scottish hero and the great English king are somewhat stunted compared with their true position. The next three reigns are represented by extracts from Froissart's chronicle in Lord Berner's translation. To the charms of the Tudor English are added the delightful touches of the original chronicles, and I am sure these specimens of a famous historian will be welcomed. The adventures of Queen Isabella in France, whither she went to seek aid against her miserable husband, Edward II., are particularly delightful, showing how gold and silver are the metals whereby love is attained both of gentlemen and of poor soldiers." The well-known battle of NeviPs Cross fought by Queen Philippa during the absence of Edward III. before Calais and the deposition of Richard II. are the two events in illustration of these reigns. I fancy that the story of Henry's treatment of Richard II. will be new to many readers.
The House of Lancaster has not been the subject of many romances, romantic though the period and events are. Henry IV. is not represented by a separate story, and for Henry V. I have chosen a scene from James' Agincourt. It represents the king in his changed character as monarch, with reminiscences of the wild young prince; and though this author's romances are, of course, very inferior in character, this particular story is not altogether unhappy in its delineation of London and the events of a coronation. Of the disastrous reign of Henry VI., the far-famed exploits of Joan of Arc are a fitting representation, and Miss Manning's extremely fine picture supplies a very capital story, a story that does not lose by contrast with the recently published work of Mark Twain. Joan's thoroughness of purpose comes out in every sentence put into her mouth, and altogether there is the ring of truth about this story. It is very terrible and very grand is Joan's remark when she -hears cannon shot for the first time, and the reader feels it too.
The Yorkists are represented by a description of King Edward IV.'s court by Lord Lytton, a description which is more ornate and more telling, perhaps, as a story than anything which has gone before. It lets one, so to speak, into the secrets of the royal household, and makes one feel
on confidential terms with the dissolute and able monarch. Warwick's deep character and Clarence's wayward youth-fulness are also well delineated in this clever bit of writing. The young Edward V. is not represented, and Richard III. is told of by Mary Shelley in the events which immediately followed his death, the character of Perkin Warbeck appearing to do duty for Richard Duke of York, whom he impersonated.
The Tudor sovereigns introduce us to other events. From Mrs. Shelley's romance is chosen the story which shows up Henry VII.'s selfishness and cynical cruelty, and one of the best of Ainsworth's stories supplies the illustration of Henry VIII.'s reign, in the fall of Cardinal Wolsey and the rise of Anne Boleyn. Ainsworth is always true to localities, and Windsor Castle appears very close to us when reading this story. It was during this reign that the style of "Majesty" was applied to an English sovereign, and it is interesting to note that in this respect all the authors who have written in the earlier reigns correctly represent the court etiquette. Edward VI. is not represented, and Ainsworth is again called upon to supply the story for Mary's reign, the Queen's marriage with the hated Spaniard forming a very taking narrative with its exhibition of court intrigue and personal details. For the reign of Elizabeth, the great genius of Scott supplies the story, and although it is perhaps one of his least satisfactory works, it is astonishing how grandly the work of the master stands out. The story of Amy Robsart is a fine one, and all the picturesqueness of that famous court masque at Kenilworth comes upon the reader with welcome freshness. Elizabeth's queenly dignity and womanly feeling were surely never better displayed than here, while the gallantry of Raleigh and the fickle inconstancy of Leicester are only touches of the same hand that illumines the darkness of past ages by the Queen's natural allusion to my godson Harrington," who could tell her of the fairy she had read of in some Italian rhymes.
But the Stuart period shows Scott at his best. Who could wish a better picture of King James than that taken from Nigel} The humour of the whole thing is always counterbalanced by the unconscious dignity of the narra-
tive, and though we laugh at the pedantic old monarch, we love him nevertheless. Scott's James the First is the King who will always live, for he is so human. There is probably nothing more quaintly humorous in the realm of fiction than the story of the King teaching his jeweller how to present a petitionit is a story that every one has read hundreds of times. I have appealed to Daniel Defoe to supply a narrative of the battle of Edgehill, to illustrate the reign of Charles I. The story will be welcome, even if only on account of its delightful simplicity and truthful description of the battle and its results. Scott again contributes when we come to Charles II., and the court scene taken from Peveril of the Peak gives us the merry monarch to the very life. This is one of the longest stories in the book, but it could not have been shortened. John Gait tells the story of Argyle's fall in the reign of James II., and this episode is a great turning-point in the history of this fateful reign. For William and Mary we first come upon a story of William Makepeace Thackeray, and the faithfulness of the picture, the irony with which the sham sentiment of Lady Castlewood is shown up, the little glimpse we get of Dick Steele, Scholar Dick, are all delightful. For the reign of Anne I have chosen the greatest story in the whole book. It is from Thackeray's Esmond. Looked at in whatever way it is possible, I think this remarkable piece of writing is perhaps truer to history than even historical narrative itself. There is no foundation, so far as I know, for the actual episode supposed to have taken place, but it is the one episode which would account for all the circumstances of this great event. And the detail is so splendid. The coach going across the country from Kensington to Chelsea is at once a touch of illuminating truth, and the truth subordinated to the place proper to its right understanding. The sorry pettiness of the w hole surroundings, the stirring -picture of indignant renunciation of the prince by two loyal adherents, the grim humour of the French training of the princethere is scarcely a line that is not indicative of the master's hand, and those who have read this story so often will again read it in its present place with all the old delight.
The period of the Guelphs opens up new scenes. The
results of 1715, rather than the events themselves, are pour-trayed for us by Sir Walter Scott in the story taken from Rob Roy. Then for George II. Thackeray leads us into the court of the King with its pettiness and its insincerity, its red-faced king and his red-faced son, its obsequious courtiers and its fawning bishops, the great solemn Pitt, and withal the simplicity if not the commonplaceness of the whole affair. It is a biting but not an untrue narrative. The accession of George III. brings us back again to the Stuarts and to Scott, and it is not uninteresting to note that our Queen's grandfather was in touch with the romanticism of the Stuart episode. The story told by Scott has some foundation in fact, and certainly in probability. For George IV. and William IV. there are no representative stories, and the series closes with a description of one of the scenes of the Chartist riots belonging to the reign of the Queen and told by Lord Beaconsfield. Even these events seem too far off to belong to the present reign. Inspired by the genius of a great romancist, the story, though marking an unpleasant episode of this great reign, is good in all respects, and at all events serves to show those of this generation how much we have advanced since such things were possible.
No alteration is made in the original narrative except to leave out irrelevant passages and allusions, and very occasionally to alter a sentence slightly so as to avoid inconsistencies in the scheme of a short story. Otherwise each story is lifted from its place in the original work to the place assigned to it in this collection. Thus the whole volume deals with events of our English history as they are related in romantic literature.
24, Dorset Square, N.W.
[The reigns of Henry I., John, Henry IV., Edward V., Edward VI., George IV., and William IV. are not represented,]
1. William I. : From Queen to Queen. Sir Charles Napier I
2. William II. : At the Disposal of the King. Anonymous 7
3. Stephen : How Matilda, Queen and Empress, treated
Reading Abbey .... Charles Macfarlane 17
4. Henry II. : The Queen at Fair Rosamond's Bower.
T. Miller 31
5. Richard I. : How the Queen of the Forest met the King
of the Land..... Thomas Love Peacock 39
6. Henry III. : King and Queen at Court Mrs. Radcliffe 51
7. Edward I. : For Wallace or for King Edward.
Jane Porter 55
8. Edward II. : How Queen Isabella left the King her Hus-
band........ Froissart 69
9. Edward III. : The Queen wins a Battle Froissart 74 10. Richard II. : The Deposition of the King Froissart 78
. 11. Henry V. : At the Coronation of the King.
G. P. F. fames 86
12. Henry VI. : The Beginning of the English Defeat in
France.......Miss Manning 103
13. Edward IV. : At the Court of King Edward. Lord Lytton 117
14. Richard III. : The King is DeadWho shall be King ?
Mary W. Shelley 132
15. Henry VII. : The Marriage of a Queen.
Mary W. Shelley 140
16. Henry VIII. : The Rise of a New Queen
Harrison Ainsworth 146
17. Mary : When England and Spain were Friends.
Harrison Ainsworth 170
18. Elizabeth : How the Queen visited her Favourite at
Kenilworth ..... Sir Walter Scott 185
19. James I. : The King and his Jeweller. Sir Walter Scott 247
20. Charles I. : The Battle of Edgehill Daniel Defoe 264
21. Charles II. : How King Charles dealt with Friends and
Foes...... Sir Walter Scott 277
22. James II. : The Fall of Argyle. John Gait 315
23. William and Mary: Plotting for the Stuarts.
W. M. Thackeray 324
24. ANNE : The Passing of the Crown from the Stuarts
W. M. Thackeray 340
25. George I. : The First Fight for the Fallen Stuarts.
Sir Walter Scott 378
26. George II. : The King's Drawing-room.
W. M. Thackeray 411
27. George III. : How the Gage of the Guelphs was taken
up ..... Sir Walter Scott 419
28. Victoria : A Story of the Chartist Riots.
Lord Bcaconsficld 427
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
TO FACE PAGE
" And proceeded to Waltham" ..... Frontispiece "But our Prior spoke out with a right manful voice .24 "And before the images of Madonna and Child knelt fair Rosamond" ...... .... 34
"Leaning, in true Sherwood fashion, with his back against a
" By his subtle wit he set great discord between the King and
Queen70 And ever as they rode forward they met more people -78 It was what the Italians call a Supreme Moment .114 Was reclining on a bench beside a lady .... 120 "Mynheer Jahn was somewhat loth to part with the little Prince" 138
" Pressed her hand to his lips ".......142
"' I attend your pleasure, Madam,' said Wolsey 154
"' Farewell for ever, then,' rejoined Dudley .... 182 While she spoke thus, Dudley bowed deeply "... 204 '.It is a curious and vera artificial sculpture,' said the King 256 "Who had more than once visited his confinement 292 "She was invited one afternoon to view certain articles of female
" Once or twice little Harry acted as their messenger 326 The Prince started up in his bed ...... 372
" But all was silent, all was solitary" ..... 388
" My uncle surveyed me with attention ".....422
From Queen to Queen
SCARCELY had the victorious army of the Normans given up pursuit, through the obscurity, and reassembled on the field of its triumph, than the pale moon arose, casting her effulgence over the ensanguined battleground : thousands and tens of thousands there lay, all grim and ghastly to the view; the silvery light displayed their gashes, and showed the blood of life yet trickling from the wound. Here and there the imprisoned soul still shook its mortal habitation with convulsive quiverings, marking approaching death; and faint moanings, testifying man's cruelty, still floated on the air from distant parts of the field.
"Now," exclaimed the Conqueror, "let us kneel and thank the Almighty, who has given us this great victory."
As he said this, the remnants of the Neustrian army laid their stained weapons down, kneeled, and raised their bloody hands in solemn invocation to the Deity. Odo, gory and mitred, chanted forth hymns of peace and goodwill towards man, and thankfulness, and masses for the slain!
In truth it was a very blasphemy, and some could not give thanks that night: stern as William Malet was, he wept for the friends of those bloodless bodies that lay bleaching around in heaps. Sixty thousand Saxons there weltered in their blood; and the men who had done this
butchery were kneeling to the God of all, amidst the impious havoc!
When prayers were over they began to inter the slain Normans, writing down as killed the names of all those who answered not when called; of these there were above twenty thousandin sooth it was a hardly-earned victory.
While thus employed a fresh scene of woe took place: the two monks of Waltham presented themselves to the Conqueror. They were followed by a long train of holy men, and came over that desecrated hill chanting a requiem for the dead. As the solemn harmony flung its floating strains upon the still air, the soldiers ceased to speak or move, all listening to the mournful melody. The procession wound slowly down the steep, threading among the slain, where scant space was found for living foot to fall unwet with human gore. The sacred band advanced, exalting the reproachful crucifix amidst the sacrilegious desolation; censers in front cast incense, whose curling smoke caught the moonbeams, and circling upwards seemed, in conjunction with that solemn dirge, more acceptable to Heaven than did the fierce Odo's exultant prayers.
The tonsured supplicants came to demand in God's name that they might inter the dead.
" Mercy, great Conqueror mercy to the vanquished "
" It is granted to all," answered William; I war not with the dead! and I will prove my words, holy fathers, even now in your presence. Where is the knight who smote the dead body of Harold with his sword? Bring him before me." The knight came forth: Give me thy sword," said the duke, and in a voice of anger that always made those about him quail. The knight tremblingly obeyed. William, taking the weapon in his gauntleted hands, broke it into pieces.
" There, base and recreant soldier know that he who insults a dead enemy is as much disgraced as he who turns his back upon a living one Get thee hence !"
The caitiff sneaked away, condemned and cast out by all.
" Now, holy fathers, do such honour to the dead as best beseemeth you, without further let or hindrance."
"Sire!" said the monks, "we still crave a boon at thy hands : in the name of the Saviour of the world, grant us the body of Harold ? "
William paused for a moment; but the natural generosity of his disposition, not being opposed by any political advantage, swayed him.
" Granted, even that traitor's corpse; but ye will have some trouble ere ye find it amidst the heaps of slain. Sir William Malet, hie thee with these good monks, and take such order that none insult them, nor offer indignity to the body of Harold, nor to any Saxon, dead or alive. Where Harold fell, and where his standard stood, shall a convent be erected in memory of this great battle."
The monks bowed to the victor, and proceeded up the height.
On arriving there the moonlight fell upon an awful sight. A kneeling female figure, her white garments steeped in blood, hung over the disfigured corpse of Harold; a profusion of hair hid her head, but her lips seemed to be pressed to his. The fatal arrow drawn from the wound lay before her, and hillocks of slain rose about her, out of which she had drawn the mangled corpse. As they approached, she raised her headit was Editha! Her beauteous face was greatly agitated. I will not quit him kill me if ye will, murderers ye shall not divide me from him now." With a violent tone she spoke, dropped a cross she held, and clasped the dead body in her arms with maniac look and energy, raising it from the ground and pressing the head to her breast.
."Dear lady," said Wulstan, "knowest thou not thy friends? We are all thine own."
" Then who is that Normanwhat does he here ? Ha Sir William Malet, is it thou ? Get thee hence, thou mur-
derer of the Saxons Look here, bloodthirsty man, and see what ye have done Hence from my sight, or finish thy hateful work, and add the blood of Editha to that which now clots upon thy horrid weapon; it is the only Saxon blood that Editha can spare thee, and dying she will bless the hand that sheds it."
Malet did not answer, and the good monk saw that he could not answer.
" Lady," said he, we have leave to bear the body hence to Waltham ; and this good knight-"
"Callestthou a Norman good? O Wulstan Wulstan cast thine eyes here, and all around, and with thy Saxon tongue canst thou call Normans good ? "
" Dear lady of the Saxons patience, patience Behold this !" said the monk as he picked up her crucifix; let not that fall! for quitting it, what shall support us in this world of miserieswith it, what shall we fear ? "
"Father, thy reproof is just, but call not the Normans good, and tell this Norman to go hence from the sight of Editha."
" Let us all hence, that we may pay the last homage to the body of the King, and inter his mortal remains with due religious rites at Waltham; and let us hasten, for day will soon dawn and the victor may change his will, and then who shall say him nay ? "
" O God, I am in thine hands I see there is one way in which these hateful Normans can yet make Editha tremble"; again she kissed the cold lips of Harold and rose up to let the monks take his body, which they laid upon a bier, and proceeded to Waltham.
The rumour soon spread that the Saxon people would be safe if they came to bury the dead, and that sorrowful field was quickly covered with wailing and distracted women and children.
Then the Normans marched towards Dover, and being
fearful of the danger to which Editha was exposed, Sir William Malet followed her to Waltham; the Conqueror had given him strict charge to maintain all that country in tranquillity and free from pillagefor so his policy demanded.
When Editha and her melancholy train approached Waltham, she was met by a vast multitude of unarmed Saxons, men, women, and children; and as the bloody corpse of the slain King passed by lamentations arose, and loud wailings filled the air. Then, moved by some sudden impulse, and with one accord, that great throng of mourners fell upon their knees in silence and in prayers for the slain.
" Stop," cried Editha to the bearers of the body ; set him down, and on these hallowed relics let me pray in the midst of the people for whom he has fallen."
There was a small tumulus hard by, and on this spot, where the bones of inhumated warriors reposed, they laid the lifeless hero of the Saxons. Editha kneeled beside the remains of her husband, her lips moved in silent prayer, a few big tears rolled down her wan face, and her eyes were bent with an expression of doubt on those disfigured features, as if yet searching for life; then hopelessly raising her looks to heaven, like one imploring pity in this dread moment of bitterest agony, she prayed inwardly. And all that multitude prayed with her; and thousands were there, like her bereaved of all; and thousands still poured in upon that vast crowd, fresh, horror-stricken, from the field of desolation, while convulsive sobs and maniac screams here and there disturbed the religious silence.
Then sung the monks a loud Saxon dirge in honour of -the fallen. Editha stooped over the body, and her rich hair hid the tears which streamed upon the face of Harold, mingling with his blood. The assembled Saxons joined in the hymn, and when the sacred song ceased, the body was again raised and borne to the grave within the chapel; but not by the monkstwelve Saxon warriors whose wounds were fresh, burst from the crowd.
" Lady, we fled not from the field; we long lay senseless amidst the slaughter; we stood by thy husband in many a battle, we deserted him not yesterday, and we will yet die fighting upon his body, if so the Normans please, for not without a blow shall the guards of Harold fall. Like these weapons," said they, showing their battle-axes gory and gapped, "we are injured, but not yet broken."
Editha held out her hand to the speaker, but had no power to do more; they kissed her proffered hand, lifted the body of their lifeless monarch, and, as the solemn dirge again arose, they bore him to the tomb.
The earth was now cast upon the coffin of Harold. It fell with a sound that jarred, ruthless, cold, withering, upon the heart of Editha. It was the last sound she heard. She sunk lifeless in the arms of those who stood around her.
When she recovered, she found herself in bed; her weeping companions were by her side. The good Wulstan entered; he reasoned with the sorrowing queen, but Editha found consolation in her own reflection alone, which told her that life swiftly passesthat health and strength were not bestowed upon her to cast away as things of no value.
Time gradually produced a state of resignation to her life of sorrow, and when Matilda came to England the following letter told her, that her predecessor on the throne still lived :
"Editha to Matilda. "To thee, Matilda, I send the crown I once wore. While shared with Harold, this gift of the Saxons was dear to me. Harold is slain ; the Saxons are no longer a people. Take then their crown, and let it bespeak thy protection for the oppressed."
Sir Charles Napier, William the Conqueror.
At the Disposal of the King
FIVE days after Robert de Mowbray had been proclaimed a traitor at the cross of Winchester, his title and government annulled and all his possessions confiscated to the crown, a knight, Alberic du Coci, burst suddenly, and with streaming brow and flashing eyes, into the presence of King William and his minister Flambard.
" News, mighty Sovereign!" he exclaimed, hurrying to the royal seat, and flinging himself upon one knee, almost breathless with haste and excitement.
"News?" said the King. What news, Brazen-brow? they should be passing good, in amends of thy saucy bluntness !"
" Pardon, my gracious Liege," returned the vassal, hot love forgets cold form. My news are passing evil, if your Grace stir not with the fairer speed for their telling. The arch-rebel, De Mowbray, is up and doing with a mighty power in the North He hath spread banner at York, at Durham, at Alnwick, and at Bamborough ; and, at the four gates of each, with voice of herald and blast of trumpet, proclaimed Stephen de Albemarle King of England."
Rufus bounded from his seat.
" Oh, spacious villain he cried; oh, mighty traitor hath he but one head ? one life ? King, saidst thou ? Oh, monstrous rebel! hast thou a dog, Du Coci, that would lap Earl's blood, ha ?"
" Better, my Liege," said the Knight, a sword to shed it for your Grace, if it be God's pleasure; but, by my faith, there will lack ten thousand besides, and sharp and true ones. Stephen himself-"
"Ho! what of him?" shouted the Monarch"what of our traitor-cousin, in Hell's name?what of the doubly-damned De Albemarle ? "
" Sped to De Mowbray," answered Sir Alberic ; some say at Yorksome further south; but, all agree, with a vast strength, levied in the midland shires as he trooped north. Their numbers, or equipment, or what traitor-names have joined them, as leaders or as allies, God knows, my Sovereign Liege, not I."
" Why! we will march and see What recks it ? ho summon De Miles where sleeps Montgomery in this pinch ? Get thee to bed, good Ranulph ; no market now for thy politic wares."
"Tushtush, my Liegefairer than ever," said Flambard; "wit is sharper than steel, and shall yet be at higher price. Hark, Du Coci, where didst thou, of all men, basket up these tidings ? "
"Further north," replied Sir Alberic, "than I have knowledge of tower and town to tell ye. I have been scouring in bootless quest of one that fiends, surely, have snatched from earth, and met, by the way, with those who had fast knowledge that this is sooth; the rather, that they themselves were hot upon the spur to join King StephenI pray Heaven and your Grace to pardon me the word."
"Oh, gracious fool!" cried Rufus, "to let hence his prating daughter and her champion Thou wert right, Ranulphit is they that have carried the lit torch to this pile of treason He waited but for themha Blackhearted villains Their heads shall answer it. What nothing but tricks of treason ? Whither away, my Lord Justiciary ? "
" To summon aid and council, I," said Flambard, and
that with such speed as horse, and herald, and trumpet-call can do it. By God, my Liege, we must have gold if it be dug for in men's hearts, where, as I live and breathe, I think the greedy villains hide it from us in these pinches. For What with these accursed Welsh wars; and your Grace's over-sea doings; and building huge halls and castles, and fair dwellings, forsooth, for lurdane priests and joult-headed friars ; and granting boons to all askers ; and giving largesses as though your exchequer were a heaped mountain; I can tell ye, Sir King, moneys have grown rarer with us here in Winchester than unicorns' horns."-
And, thus saying, the Procurator Fiscal vanished from the chamber.
"Command me, mighty Sovereign," said Du Coci, whither must I the whilst this storm is brewing ? "
" Northward," said Rufus, as though a legion of fiends drove thee! or, by my Father's soul! lacking De Waleric for their fence, our towers of Monkchester-on-Tyne will fall into the rebels' hands."
" Past prayer, my Liege," replied the Knight, for, if the black truth must out, they are already stormed and taken."
The Monarch stamped with a fury that shook the oaken chamber, and filled it with the dust of the strewed rushes. Fortunately, however, the sudden entrance of Montgomery and De Miles, whom the Justiciary had opportunely met in the castle-hall, broke upon his idle paroxysms. Immediately all were in their element. There was sparkling of fierce eyes ; grasping of hands ; swearing of bitter oaths ; and rapid suggestion of measures better fitted for wreaking the royal anger than frantic words and gestures.
"For thy life, Du Coci," said Flambard, "ride thou with the Lord Marshal's hests, whither he bids, and see that twenty pursuivants-at-arms (less may not serve) be here in tabard and in saddle within an hour. Our writs to every Sheriff in the realm must fly with their best wings; or towns
and towers beyond the Trent will fall to the rebels by the round score, ere we have power a-foot to strike a stroke "
"AVrite then, good Ranulph," said the King, "Dispatch dispatch Bid the stout Sheriffs ride day and night, and summon all 'twixt sixty and sixteen. If they slumber or tarry,fire-brand and battle-axe for that! God's curse upon the sleepy villains that lost our Castle-upon-Tyne aye, and on thee, Du Coci, if thou amend not the evil chance with speed. Away we will take thought to give thee needful force."
Sir Alberic hurried from the chamber. De Tunbridge and a few other of the higher crown-vassals, joined the royal military conclave; and, on the other hand, the Chamberlain, the Chancellor, and the Treasurer were summoned in aid of the toiling Flambard, whose active mind had already determined upon a hundred measures.
We pass to the Great Council, which, by the hour of noon, was assembled with a fulness that crowded even that vast hall to excess. Every Baron that the festival had drawn to Winchester, lay and spiritual, was there. No man caring or daring to be absent after a summons so peremptory. Instantly as the Monarch assumed his throne, a herald, upon the Marshal's right hand, blew three times a warning trumpet-note of proclamation, and then, another, upon the left, stepping a little in advance, announced in a loud voice the rebellion of De Mowbray and De Albemarle. A mixed sound of surprise and execration rose and swelled on every side, but, when the King, starting to his feet, demanded "What comfort and what counsel his loyal lieges gave him in such straits ? every lay-baron present, except two, followed the example of Montgomery and De Miles, who, suddenly, drawing their heavy swords, and waving them aloft, swore a deep oath, that with those and their good lances alone they would give comfort and counsel to their Sovereign !"
" I go, my Liege," said the Marshal, "to fling abroad the first of a thousand banners; but, were ten lances the full muster of your battle against the high traitor, De Mowbray, one of the ten were I! So help me God and his liege-saint, St. George !"
" And I! exclaimed the Constable.
" And I! echoed De Tunbridge.
" And I !" broke in full concert from the assemblage ; followed by a shout of acclamation which seemed to ring and vibrate along the bannered walls, and the carved roof-work of the hall.
" Now, by St. Luke's face these are sounds for a King's ear and a King's heart; aye, and a King's thanks, were he the best and strongest that ever yet was bearded by rebellion Thanks, therefore, my loyal and right-trusty lieges But, look !" he added, pointing to the two whom we have already alluded to as exceptions"even in this goodly quiver there are broken shafts. Marshal of England, ask yonder Knights, if such they be, why they, and they alone, fling scorn upon our presence with shut lips, sheathed brands, and scowling brows ? scorn upon us, we say, and every token of others' fealty. Bid them make answer, on their lives."
There was a dead silence, as Rufus, his eye kindling, though he retained his seat, continued to point alternately to the objects of his resentment; whom the general enthusiasm, indeed, now placed in strong and ungracious contrast with all around.
Montgomery strode midway between the parties malecon-tent; but they did not wait to be formally challenged.
"Marshal of England," said Hugh-le-Loup, his voice hoarse and tremulous with passion, "ask yonder King and his Justiciary, if it be sooth, that, at the banquet of yester-even, whither nor I nor mine were bidden guests, the hand and dowry of Maud de Aquila, my kinswoman and ward, were gaged, by a royal oath, as price and guerdon for De
Mowbray's head, struck off by whatsoever hand ? Ask this and give me answer."
The words were scarcely uttered before Reginald de Lacy, upon his part also, confronted the Earl of Shrewsbury, and began with a like haughty formula,
" Marshal of England, ask yonder King and his Justiciary, if it be sooth, that, in the list of towns in Normandyj marked out for grinding levies of men and armsor, failing these, of such scutage-tax as would drain every coffer within their wallsmy town of Mans be also written down ? mine by the self-same right that seats his father's son upon yon throne of England. Ask this, and give me answer."
The audacity of these questions seemed literally to suspend the breath of all who heard. But the spirit of the Conqueror had boiled up in William Rufus.
" Now, by the Mother of Heaven he exclaimed, starting to his feet, I am answered and will make answer, were it the first and the last time that ever a true King answered a false traitor !"
" Traitor cried Hugh-le-Loup, turning fiercely upon the Sovereign, thy father, Sir King, thy mightier and more kingly father, had other speech and other bearing for one who was of the first and strongest to buckle mail, and scatter treasure, that a poor feudatory Duke might be transmewted into a free Monarch. But let pass. Sword nor treasure of mine shall out till I be answered touching this banquet boast. Is't sooth or not ? "
The King, who, it is said, for the first time in his life, looked white with passion instead of red, strode up to the offended and offending Earl, and, with a glare which Lupus hardly sustained, replied from between his grinding teeth:
" Sooth, thou audacious villain sooth as Heaven! Art answered? ha? Why, we have pampered thee with gifts and favour till pride and swollen surquedry gorge thee to cracking But, know, thou full-fed banqueter upon the
fruits of mine and my dead father's largesse, that I will yet work my pleasure with thee for good or evil; aye, as the potter with his clay, mould thee to what I list; and where, and when; thee, and thine earldom; treasure, and sword and life; thy gross body" he added, scornfully, "and thy fair kinswoman gnash fangs at that, Sir Wolf! For, as I live and breathe, the daughter of De Aquila is no more ward of thine than she is Queen of Heaven."
Rage and insulted pride seemed to dilate even the full portly dimensions of Hugh Vras.
"Now, afore God and his holy saints!" he exclaimed, from the crown of thy head downward, and from the sole of thy foot upward, William of England! thou art, past thought and speech, a matchless tryant! if it stand thus with Maud de Aquila....."
" If vociferated the King, stamping furiously" sound trumpets yet again "
And, as the heralds obeyed, he strode heavily upon the steps of the throne, but without seating himselfthen as the peal of the horn died away
" Here," he continued, though tampering with rebellion hath barred thee from our banquets, here, at least, thou art a guest, bidden or unbidden; and here let thy own ears warn thee. Mark He that shall bring the traitor De Mowbray's head,hacked off, or still upon the rebel trunk, it recks not;now, by my sceptre and my soul on him (be he the meanest horse-boy of our camp !) on him will I bestow this vaunted beauty, this Maud de Aquila, for wife, for slave, or what not, even as his pleasure is she, and her every knight's-fee, manor and tower, forest and field. Our Lord Justiciary, and thou, Earl Marshal, look that a herald-at-arms make proclamation thus, at every market cross and city gate."
The Earl of Chester struck with both hands clenched upon a brow literally black with contending passions; and it seemed to all present as if the violence of his emotions
must find speedy vent, either in execrations or tears. A struggle, fearful while it lasted, gave him mastery over both. Pacing slowly, but with little firmness, through the hall, he passed the King, the Marshal, and the Justiciary, and, taking from his baldric the sword which was given to him by the Conqueror, delivered it, without a word, into the hand of De Miles. As the constable received it with reluctant awkwardness, Lupus pointed to the inscription upon the blade, "Hugo comes Cestria," and then, with shaken finger, to the chafed Rufus, whose burning eye followed the gesture, well understanding it as a tacit renunciation of allegiance upon the Earl's part.
The latter, with recovered firmness of step, but looking deadly pale, then made for the hall door, saying to the Barons who thronged between,
" I pray you let me pass ;this hall grows hot."
" Wouldst cool thee in the north;" said Rufus, ha, Cousin Earl ? "
" My Lord of Chester," said Flambard, speaking now for the first time, "is cousin also to De Albemarle; look well, my Liege, to that. If choice between be question of near blood, a sparrow's feather will turn the scale."
" Hell-born and bred exclaimed the Earl, mine is indeed the blood of kings, and dost thou, mean, undescended caitiff! dare to lift finger or wag tongue against me ? "
" Not," replied the sneering favourite, as he held before him the intercepted letter from De Mowbray, and pointed, insultingly, to the bitter passage" if thou canst leave turning and changing, and blowing hot and cold with the same breath, and looking now backward, now forward' ha ? mighty Earl!"
The hand of Lupus was upon his dagger; but so also was the hand of another upon him, and a voice murmured, Not yet, nor herebe calm."
He looked daggers, but used none," and again moved for the door.
"Tarry," said the King, "and take again thy sword. Aye, and an oath upon its cross-hilt, under the beards of these holy bishops and abbots, that thou wilt meet us, in five days, with all thy power, levied both west and east of Offa's Dyke"
The Earl indeed took back the sword, but it was only to throw it upon the lowest step of the throne ; I will meet thee, Cousin King," he said equivocally, "with all my power."
"Attach him of high treason," said the Justiciar)', and the Marshal passed between Lupus and the door, but did not lay hand upon him, nor repeat the words of arrest; for there was that in the eyes of every Baron near, which admonished forbearance. The Earl of Chester, indeed, could draw no assurance or countenance from his own baronage of the Palatinate, the Great Council being formed exclusively of crown-tenants; but many of these had known him for a munificent friend, and shared the princely hospitality of Chester Castle. His cause, too, especially against the hated Flambard, was that of the whole body of English nobles, who, however loyally determined to support Rufus himself through the rebellion, were far from willing that the hand of regal prerogative should lie heavy upon one individual of their order.
" My Liege," said De Miles aloud, this wound craves staunching; and not that your Justiciary should rend it wider. I, for one, will fight against De Mowbray while I have blood to shed, or flesh to hack; but these quillets of lawthese matters of wardship, and of heirship, that stir your Grace against Hugh Lupusthese are targets beyond my archery; and, by holy Saint Mary Sir Justiciary," (turning abruptly to Flambard,) "plainly, and at a word, I will back ye therein neither with sword nor speech."
There was a distinct buzz of approbation after this candid avowal. Some did not scruple to say aloud, "It is well said, noble Milo; by Mary-mother, we are like-minded
with the good Constable and there were grim smiles of satisfaction upon almost every face.
"I, also, my Liege," said Montgomery, willing enough to go with the stream, in spite of the glance of Rufus, "I also crave that this storm be overblown. Hugh Lupus is mine enemy; but so God help me, as I will not crush him with the hand of office till he be traitor manifest! If there be any amongst these noble peers whom I offend by this, let them pronounce, and I will bow me to their censure."
But there was not a single gainsaying voice.
Flambard, who, during all this, had placed one foot upon the lowest step of the throne, now murmured in the King's ear, Let pass, my Liege, and be the shame on me." Then, aloud, Pardon, great King ; very hardly did I look for rebuke at your Grace's hand, nor that the voice of all your lieges should thus be surety for Hugh Lupus' faith; I pray God, their pledges be redeemed and touching the hot words of arrest your Grace reproves me for, I say but as it is written, (if these holy bishops be well remembered,) 1 The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.' "
He stretched his arm towards the Marshal, who, in his turn, waved for free passage to the Earl of Chester. All fell back with alacrity, to mark their triumph over the minister; and, with a measured step, without a single word of parting reverence, Hugh-le-Loup and Reginald de Lacy quitted the royal hall.
Anon., Rufus; or, the Red Ring.
How Matilda Queen and Empress Treated Reading Abbey
NOW some of the baronage and clergy did send messengers into Anjou to invite the Empress Matilda into England, and to give her assurance good that they would place her upon the throne of her late father. And the ex-Empress, being a woman of a high spirit, did presently come over with her half-brother the Earl of Gloucester, and one hundred and forty knights; and the two nephews of the late Bishop Roger and many of the optimates did renounce their allegiance to King Stephen and join her standard. Bishop Nigel, who would have continued to hold the castle of Devizes if it had not been for that fearful fast, went into the Isle of Ely, his own diocese, and there amidst the bogs and fens, and on the very spot where Hereward the Lord of Brunn had withstood William the Conqueror, he raised a great rampart and collected a great force against Stephen. In other parts our bishops were seen mounted on war-horses, clad in armour, and directing in the battle or the siege : and many and bloody were the battles which were fought during two years, and until King Stephen was surprised and defeated in the great battle of Lincoln, and taken prisoner by the Earl of Gloucester, the half-brother of the Empress. Stephen was now thrown into a dungeon in Bristowe Castle, and his brother the Bishop of Winchester and legatus acknowledged the right and title of the Empress q.s. 17 c
and led her in triumph to his cathedral church at Winchester, and there blessed all who should be obedient to her, and cursed all who should refuse to submit to her authority. And this being done, Stephen's brother, the bishop and legate aforesaid, did convene an assembly of churchmen to ratify her accession. At this synod the said legate bore testimony against his brother, and said that God had pronounced judgment against him ; and the great churchmen, to whom it chiefly belongs to elect kings and ordain them, did elect Matilda to fill the place which Stephen's demerits had vacated. Yet some of the clergy there who did not think that they could be so easily discharged of the oaths they had taken unto Stephen, or move so far in this matter without a direct command from our lord the pope, and many lords there were, as well of the laity as of the clergy, who did not like Matilda the better for knowing more of her. But not one felt more unhappy at these changes than our good lord abbat, who came back from the last meeting of the clergy at Winchester well nigh broken-hearted; for, albeit he lamented his errors, he had much affection for King Stephen and great reverence to the obligations of an oath, and very earnestly desired peace and happiness to the country.
Affairs were in this state, and the flames of civil war were raging all round us, and the health of our good lord abbat was daily breaking more and more, when the Empress Matilda passed through Reading without stopping at our abbey to say an orison at her father's grave, being on her way to Westminster, there to be crowned and anointed by those who had crowned King Stephen only six years ago. But the citizens of London, who were very bold and powerful, loved Stephen more than Matilda, and before the coronation dresses could be got ready they rose upon her and drove her from the city, flying on horseback and at first almost alone, as she did. This time the daughter of the Beauclerc found it opportune to come to our abbey, for
she wanted food, lodging, and raiment, and knew not where else to procure them. A messenger on a foundered horse announced that she was coming, and by the time the man had put his beast into our lord abbat's stable, a great cloud of dust was seen rolling on the road beyond the Kennet from the eastward.
" Medea fert tristes succosshe is coming, and will bring poisons with her She cometh in a whirlwind," said our good lord abbat, and albeit she is her father's daughter the lawfully begotten daughter of this house (though some men do say the contrary), it grieves me that she cometh at all. Last year, and at this same season of the year, we did lodge and entertain King Stephen, and prayed God to bless him; and now must I feast this wandering woman and cry God save Queen Matilda? The unlettered and rustical people be slow of comprehension, yet will they not have their hearts turned from us by seeing these rapid shiftings and changings ? And so soon as the commoner sort lose their faith or belief in the principles of their betters, crime and havoc will have it all their own way. This people this already mixed people of Saxons and Normanswill go backwards into blood, and there will be war between cottage and cottage as well as between castle and castle! "
The Empress-queen arrived at our gates, and with a numerous atrendance ; for some had followed by getting stealthily out of London, and some had joined her on the road. Sooth to say she was an imperious, and despotical, and loud-voiced, manlike woman, and of a very imposing presence. Maugre her hasty flight she had a coronet of gold on her head, and a jewel like a star on her breast, and her garments were of purple and gold. A foreign lord, with a truculent countenance, bore a naked sword before her, and another knight, with a visage no less stern, carried a jewelled sceptre
'"Tis mine own father's house," said she as she came within our gates, "'tis the gift and doing of mine own
father, of blessed memory, and much, oh monks did you wrong him and me by entertaining within these walls the foul usurper Stephen. The usurper is rotting in the nethermost dungeon of Bristowe Castle, and there let him die: but, oh abbat, lead me to my dear father's tomb, that I may say a prayer for the good of his soul; and see in the coining place what money thou hast in hand, for much do I lack money, and must for the nonce be a borrower Bid thy people make ready a banquet in the hall, for we be all fasting and right hungry; and send into the township and call forth each man that hath a horse and a sword, in order that he may follow us to Oxenford, and help to be our guard upon the way. Do these few things, oh abbat, and I will yet hold thee in good esteem. The land rings with thy great wealth and power. By Notre Dame of Anjou! 'tis a goodly house, and the walls be strong, and the ditch round about broad and deepby the holy visage of St. Luke I will not hence to-night though all the rebel citizens of London, that do swarm like bees from their hives, should follow me so far."
Our good lord abbat could do little more than bow and cross himself, and our prior of the bellicose humour, who partook in our abbat's affection for King Stephen, reddened in the face and turned aside his face and grinded his teeth, and muttered down his own throat, Beshrew the distaff! The Beauclerc, her sire, was more courteous unto clerks!"
Our sub-prior, being of a more supple nature, and being, moreover, not without his hopes of being nominated to the abbatial dignity so soon as our lord abbat should be laid under the chancel of the abbey church, kneeled before the Empress-queen, and then formed some of the monks in processionale, and began leading the way to the sepulchre of Henricus Primus. But this roused the abbat and threw the thoughts of our prior into another channel, and the lord abbat said in a grim and loud whisper unto the sub-prior, I am chief here, and none must move without my
bidding "; and the prior said without an essay at a whisper, Oh, sub, seek not to climb above me "
The proud woman reddened and said, "If ye would honour me, oh monks, as your Queen, make haste to do it! An ye will not, I can get me in without your ceremonies. No time have I to lose, and money and aid must be forthcoming !"
Then up spake the lord abbat Edward and said in a loud voice, Oh dread ladie, when that King of peace and lion of justice, Rex pads et leo justitia, did found this house, he did give us his royal charter, wherein he said, Let no person, great or small, whether by violence or as a due custom, exact anything or take anything from the persons, lands, or possessions whatsoever belonging unto the monastery of Reading; nor levy any money, nor ask any tax for the building of bridges or castles, for carriages or for horses for carrying; nor lay any custom or subsidy, whether for shipmoney or tribute-money or for presents; nor ."'
" Oh abbat of the close fist," said Matilda, I only want to borrow."
"But we may not lend without full consent of all our chapter monks in chapter assembled," quoth the prior.
"And the foundation charter of Henricus Primus," said our abbat, recommends all the successors of the said royal founder to observe the charter as they wish for the divine favour and preservation, and pronounces a malediction upon any one that shall infringe or diminish his donations. Dread ladie, thou art the Beauclerc's daughter : the curse of a father is hard to bear "
There was some whispering and sign-making among her followers ; but the imperious woman said not a word : she only stretched out her right hand and pointed forward, into the interior of our abbey.
We now formed in more proper order and went through the church to the Beauclerc's grave, on the broad slab of
which there burned unceasing lamps, and sweet incense renewed every hour, and at the edge of which there was ever some brother of the house telling his beads and praying for the defunct King, the founder of the house. Dim was the spot, for death is darkness, and too much light suits ill with the decaying flesh and bones of mortal man, be he king or plough-hind; yet, as the Empress-queen entered, our acolytes touched the tips of three hundred and sixty-five taperssweet smelling tapers made of the wax brought from Gascony and Spain and Italieand in an instant that dim sepulchral place was flooded with light, the converging rays meeting and shining brightest upon the black slab and the graven epitaph which began with the proud titles of the Beauclerc King, and which ended with that passage from holy writ which saith that all is vanity here below.
Matilda knelt and put her lips to that black slab (which she safely might do, for it was kept clear of all dirt and dust, it being the sole occupation of one of the lay brothers of our house to rub it every day and keep it clean), and she said an orison, of the shortest, and made some show of shedding tears; but then she quickly rose, and would have gone forth from the vault or cappella. But the lord abbat was not minded that the first visit paid by his daughter to the tomb of her father should pass off with so little ceremony and devotion ; and, he himself taking the lead with his deep solemn voice, the Officium de Functorum, or Service for the Dead, was recited and chanted. The Empress-queen was somewhat awed and moved, and there seemed to be penitential tears in her eyes as we chaunted Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur ; but at the last requiem seternam she flung away from the place and began to talk with a loud shrill voice of worldly affairs and of battles and siegesfor the royal-born woman had the heart of a warrior, and her grandfather the great Conqueror was not more ambitious or avid of dominion than she.
When we had well feasted Matilda and those who followed her in the abbat's apartment, we hoped she would be gone, for it was a long and fine day of June, well nigh upon the feast of St. John, and she well might have ridden half way to Oxenford before nightfall; but she soon gave the abbat to understand that she had no intention of going so soon. Without blushing she did ask how and where we monks could lodge her and her women for the night, telling us that she could not think of sleeping in the town, seeing that it was but poorly defended by walls and bulwarks. The abbat looked at the prior, and all the fathers looked at one another with astonishment, but the ungodly waiting-women, who came all from Anjou and other foreign parts, only smiled and simpered as they gazed at one another and observed our exceeding great confusion.
"In truth, royal dame," said our lord abbat, "it is against the rule of our order to lodge females within our walls."
" But I am your Queen, oh abbat," said Matilda, and this is a royal abbey, and my sire founded it and endowed it! Have I not, as my father's daughter and lawful sovereign of this realm, the right to an exemption from the severity of your ordinances ? "
" Ladie," quoth the abbat, I will not that you have such right, or that the rule of St. Benedict is in any case to be set aside."
" But it hath been set aside," said Matilda, and queens and their honourable damsels have slept in royal abbeys before now."
- "That," quoth the abbat, was before the Norman conquest, when, through the indolence, carelessness, and gluttony of the Saxon monks, the statutes of our order were generally ill observed."
" But I tell thee, oh stubborn monk, that I, the Empress-queen, that I, thy liege ladie Matilda, have slept and sojourned in half the abbeys and priories of England !"
'"Tis because of these civil wars which have so long raged to the destruction of all discipline and order, and to the utter undoing of this poor people of England I, by the grace of God, abbat of Reading, would not shape my conduct after the pattern of some abbats and priors that be in this land, or willingly allow that which they perchance may have permitted without protest, and to the spiritual dishonour of their houses."
Here the eyes of the Empress-queen flashed fire, and wrathful and scornful was the voice with which she said unto our good lord abbat, in presence of most of the community :
" Shaveling, I am here, and will here tarry so long as it suits my occasions I believe thy traitorous affection for my false cousin Stephen hath more to do with thine obstinacy than any reverence thou bearest to the rules of thine order. But, monk, 'tis too late! thou shouldest have kept thy gates closed! I and my maidens are within thy house, and these my faithful knights will see thee and thy brethren slain between the horns of the altar rather than see the Queen of England thrust out like a vagrant beggar from the abbey her own father founded "
As the Empress-queen said these words the knights knit their brows and made a rattling with their swords. This did much terrify the major part of our community, and I, Felix, being then of a timorous nature, and a great lover of peace, as became my profession, did creep towards the door of the hall. But our prior spoke out with a right manful voice against the insults put upon our good abbat, telling the Empress-queen to her face that respect and reverence were due to the church even from the greatest of princes : that her father, of renowned and happy memory, would not so have treated the hum blestservant of the church; and that if this unseemly business should be put to the issue of armsif swords should be drawn over her royal father's graveit might peradventure happen that the armed
" But our Prior spoke out with a right manful voice."
retainers of the abbey would prove as good men as these outlandish knights, and that the fathers and brothers of the house would fight for their lives, as other servants of the church had ofttimes been constrained to do in these turbulent, lawless, ungodly days.
At this discourse of our bellicose prior the Empress-queen turned pale and her lip quivered, though more through wrath than fear, as it seemed to me; but her knights left off noising with their swords; and one of them, a native knight, spoke words of gentleness and accommodation, and put it as an entreaty rather than as a command, that the Queen should be allowed to infringe our rules for only one night.
"My conscience doth forbid it," said our lord abbat, "for it may be made a precedent, to the great injury and decay of our discipline. Therefore do I solemnly enter my protest against it. But as I would not see this holy house defiled by strife and blood, nor attempt a forcible expulsion, I will quit mine apartments."
And so saying, the lord abbat withdrew, and was followed by all of us. The Queen slept in the abbat's bed ; her maidens on the rushes, which were carried into that chamber from the abbat's hall; and the knights and men-at-arms slept in the Aula Magna.
But before sleeping, the Empress-queen did many things, for it still wanted some hours of the Ave Maria, and many were the stormy thoughts that were working in her brain. Two of her knights we allowed to go out of the house by the postern gate, but farther ingress we granted to none; and not only did our armed retainers keep watch for us, but our monks, under the vigilant eye of the prior, did also keep watch and ward all through that evening and night, for we feared some extreme mischief; and it would not have failed to happen if Matilda had been enabled to get her partisans in greater force within the house. In truth, not many of our community knew that night what sleep
was. The materials for an abundant supper were furnished to the Empress-queen and her people; and some of these last were singing ungodly songs in the abbat's great hall when our church-bell tolled the midnight hour ; yea, there was a noise of singing, and a running to and fro, and a squealing of womanly voices long after that, to the great sorrow and shame of the fathers of our house.
From all ungodjy guests libera nos 1 Although they had feasted so late at night, the people of the Empress did make an early call for a matutinal refection ; and our good chamberlain and coquinarius and cellarius were made to bestir themselves by times, and sundry of our lay brothers and servitors, to the great endangering of their souls, were made to run with viands and drink into our lord abbat's hall, -and there wait upon the daughter of the Beauclerc and her foreign black-eyed damsels, who did shoot love-looks at them and discompose their monastic sobriety and gravity by laying their hands upon their sleeves and twitching their hoods for this thing and that (for the young Jezebels spoke no English), and by singing snatches of love songs at them, even as the false syrens of old did unto the wise Ulysses. Certes, the founder of our order, the blessed Benedict, did know what he was a-doing when he condemned and prohibited the resort of women to our houses and their in-dwelling with monks. Monks are mortal, and mortal flesh is weak : et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
It was still an early hour, not much more than half way between prima and tertia, when more troubles came upon us. The two knights who had been sent forth by the daughter of the Beauclerc to make an espial into the condition of the country, and to summon her friends unto her, returned to our gate with a large company of knights and men-at-arms, and demanded to be readmitted. Our good abbat, calling together the fathers of the house, held counsel with them; and it was agreed that to admit so great a company of men of war would be perilous to our com-
munity; and even our bellicose prior did opine that our people would be too few to protect the abbey if these men without should be joined to those the Empress had within. It was our prior who addressed that great company from the porter's window over the gateway, telling them that the two knights who had come from London with the Empress might be readmitted, but that our doors would not be unbarred even unto them unless the rest of that armed host went to a distance into the King's Mead. Hereat there arose a loud clamour from those knights and men-at-arms, with great reproaches and threats. Yea, one of those knights, Sir Richard a. Chambre, who was in after time known for a most faithless man, and a variable, changing 1 sides as often as the moon doth change her face, did call our lord abbat apostate monk and traitor, and did threaten our good house with storm and spoliation. The major part of us had gathered in front of the house to see and hear what was passing; but, alack we were soon made to run towards the back of the abbey, for while Sir Richard a. Chambre was discoursing in this unseemly strain, and shaking his mailed fist at the iron bars through which he could scantly see the tip of our prior's nose, a knight on foot, who wore black mail and a black plume in his casque, and who never raised his visor and scarce spoke word after these few, came running round the eastern angle of the abbey walls, shouting, 'Tis open 'tis ours Win in, in the name of Matilda "
The voice that said these few words seemed to not a few of us to have been heard before, but we had no time to think of that. The armed host set up a shout, and ran round for our postern gate, which openeth upon the Ken-net, and we all began to run for the same, our lord abbat wringing his hands, and saying, The postern the postern Some traitor hath betrayed us "
When we came into the paved quadrangle, we found some of our retainers hastily putting on their armour; but
when we came into the garden, we found it thronged with men already armed, and we saw the postern wide open and many more warriors rushing in through it: the evil men who had stayed with the Queen, and who had so much abused our hospitality, had already joined the new comers, and the united and still increasing force was so great that we could not hope to expel them and save our house from robbery and profanation. Our very prior smote his breast in despair. But our good abbat, though of a less bellicose humour, had no fear of the profane intruders, for he stood up in the midst of them and upbraided them roundly, and threatened to lay an interdict upon them all for the thing that they were doing. But anon the Empress herself came forth with one that waved a flag over her head, and at sight hereof the sinful men set up a shouting and fell to a kissing, some the flag, which was but a small and soiled thing, and someon their kneesthe hand of the Beauclerc's daughter; and while this was passing, those foreign damsels came salting and skipping, and clapping their hands and talking Anjou French, into the garden. There was one of them attired in a short green kirtle, that had the smallest and prettiest feet, and the largest and blackest eyes, and the longest and blackest eyelashes, and the laughingest face, that ever man did behold in these parts of the world; and she danced near to me on those tiny pretty feet, and glanced at me such glances from those black eyes, that my heart thumped against my ribs; but the saints gave me strength and protection, and I pulled my hood over my eyes and fell to telling my beads, and thus, when others were backsliders, I, Felix the novice, was enabled to stand steadfast in my faith.
The Empress had taken no heed of our lord abbat, or of any of us; but when she had done welcoming the knights that came to do her service, and, imprimis, to escort her on her way to Oxenford, she turned unto the abbat and said,
" Monk, thou art too weak to cope with a Queen, the daughter of a King, the widow of an Emperor, and one from whom many kings will spring. But by thy perversity, which we think amounts to treason, thou hast incurred the penalty of deprivation; and when we have time for such matters, or at the very next meeting of a synod of bishops and abbats, I will see that thou art both deprived and imprisoned."
" That synod," said our abbat very mildly, will not sit so soon, and from any synod I can appeal to his holiness the Pope."
"Fool!" quoth Matilda, with the ugliest curl of the lip I ever beheld; obstinate fool! the Pope's legate is our well-beloved subject and friend, the Bishop of Winchester."
" See that you keep his allegiance! He hath put you upon a throne, and can pull you down therefrom !"
So spake our prior, who could not stomach the irreverent treatment the Countess of Anjou put upon his superior, and who knew that Matilda had in various ways broken her compact with him, and done deeds highly displeasing to King Stephen's brother, the tough-hearted Bishop of Winchester.
" Beshrew me !" quoth Matilda; but these Reading monks be proud of stomach and rebellious Sir Walleren of Mantes, drive them into their church, and see that they quit it not while we tarry here."
" I will," said the foreign knight; and also will I see that they do sing the Salve, Regina."
At this Sir Walleren and other unknightly knights drew their swords and called up their retainers; and before this ungodly host the abbat and prior and the monks were all compelled to retreat into the church, leaving the whole range of the abbey to those who had so unrighteously invaded it. But as soon as we were in the choir, instead of singing a Salve, Regi?ia, we did chant In te, Domine, speravi.
A strong guard was put at the church-door and in the cloisters; but it was not needed, as we could oppose no resistance to those who were now robbing our house ; and as it had been determined, therefore, that all who had come into the church should remain, with psalmody and prayer, until these men of violence should take their departure from the abbey, or complete their wickedness by driving us from it. As they ransacked our house as though it had been a castle taken by storm, and as they shouted and made such loud noises as soldiers use when a castle or a town has been successfully stormed, we only chanted the louder in the choir. For full two hours did these partisans of Matilda ransack the abbey, with none to say them nay. At the end of that time they had gotten all that they considered worth taking.
"And now," quoth the violent daughter of the Beauclerc, "let us ride on our way for Oxenford. Methinks we be now strong enough to defy all traitors on the road."
And she struck with her riding-wand the grey palfrey, which it much grieved our abbat to lose, and, followed by her knights and her leering and laughing foreign damsels, she rode out at our gate, and with a great host departed from Reading.
C. Macfarlane, A Legend of Heading Abbey.
The Queen at Fair Rosamond's Bower
QUEEN ELEANOR had just parted with the King previous to his embarkation; the tramp of his steed was fast dying upon her ear, and she stood in the same position as when she took her cold farewell of him. As the tramp of the charger's hoofs sounded more and more remote, she gradually raised herself from her musing position, until her whole figure became erect, and she stood with head elevated, and flashing eyes that glared with almost a savage fury. He is gone," said she aloud, and after a long pause, "and will no longer interpose, like a shield between me and my vengeance : the hour of my revenge is at hand; nor will I delay the deed for which it hungers." She took up a small silver bell, and having rung it, her attendant, Oliphant Ugglethred, entered the apartment.
" Are all in readiness ?" said Eleanor, in a bold and brief tone, and with a look that would well have become acommander on the eve of battle.
"All as your highness ordered," replied Ugglethred.
" And the Leech ? inquired Eleanor, her countenance
changing as she spoke, "hast seen him, and-" she
paused, as if afraid to finish the sentence.
" Obtained a phial of poison strong enough to kill Satan himself," said the ruffian; better never entered the lip of Crusader or Saracen."
" Speak not so loud, lest we should be overheard," said Eleanor, casting her dark eyes cautiously around the apartment. But how," added she, suddenly changing her mood after having walked to and fro in the apartment, how shall we gain admittance to the palace of Woodstock ? "
"They have no orders to keep out your highness," replied Oliphant, as I learned from one who hath but little love for the minstrel, but, on the contrary, are to treat you as if nothing was amiss."
"Then tomorrow will we take up our abode at Woodstock," said the Queen, and until then we leave all to thy management." So saying, she quitted the apartment.
The next day Eleanor arrived at the palace of Woodstock, and drawing up with her retinue, demanded entrance; while Oliphant Ugglethred with half a score of soldiers were stationed in an adjacent thicket. As the drawbridge was down, only the huge bars of the portcullis prevented the party from making good their entry; but a man-at-arms who was pacing to and fro within the gloomy postern, refused to raise the grated doorway without the governor's orders.
"The Queen of England demands admission, sirrah," said Eleanor, waving back the attendant who had in vain sued for entrance, and riding up to the strong fastness, "and unless the portcullis is instantly upraised, may doom you to waver over the battlements of the postern."
"Were it King Henry himself," replied the warrior, still pacing to and fro with the partisan in his hand, he knows a sentinel's duty, and must bide the coming of the governor."
Meantime De Whycherly arrived, to whom the keeping of the palace was entrusted, and without further parley, ordered the Queen's instant admission, adding, My orders extend not to the entry of your Highness' attendants."
"We take the command upon ourselves," replied Eleanor
haughtily ; and while she spoke, the horsemen, with Ugglethred at their head, drew up. "At least," added she, seeing that the knight was about to make some resistance, so far as it regardeth our own attendants, I trust that your orders extend not to my followers."
"So far as it regardeth the time of watchraising the drawbridge at sunset, and admitting none after that hour," said the knight, "my commands must be enforced during the King's absence."
"We shall not need to break your rules," replied Eleanor, glancing at Ugglethred j if we chance to prolong our sports beyond that period, we can return by the postern that faces the pleasance." So saying, she rode into the court-yard, and resigning her palfrey to an attendant, entered the hall of the palace.
Twice did Queen Eleanor attempt to reach the abode of Rosamond, but was unable to discover the right course through the labyrinth; and even Ugglethred gave up the search in despair. Two days elapsed, and then they were able to explore the labyrinth.
Passage after passage did they traverse, Eleanor still leading the way with her garments disordered; and she waved her torch to and fronow to look down into some of those gloomy depths which had never been explored for ages; then again to examine the distant darkness, and see if there was any outlet through the arched roof.
Suddenly the Queen rushed on holding the torch to the ground, and having gone back for some space, she again led the way, exclaiming with a shrill, savage laugh, which sounded awfully through the vaulted avenues, She forgot to put up her silk before she departed; and although she went somewhat quicker than a snail, yet here is her trail! "
Ugglethred held his torch to the ground;it was even as she said,Rosamond in her flight had dropped the clew of scarlet silk from her lap, and as one end was passed
through the sheath in her girdle, it became unwound, and at once betrayed her path.
There was now no further difficulty; the few menials who waited upon, and might yet have aided Rosamond, had flown to such hiding-places as were only known to themselves. Gamas Gobbo alone dared to show his teeth before them ; but he, like a dog, kept barking and retreating, until one of the soldiers made a cut at him with his sword, and he fled before them.
True as a bloodhound to its track, did Eleanor follow the silken clue,she came to the foot of the towerit was still there :step by step, like a silent guide, it pointed out the way ;there was no obstacle,not an arm was uplifted to contest the passage. They entered the chief apartment, which was dark, until their torches broke the gloom, and before the images of Madonna and child, with clasped hands, and cheeks bedewed with tears, knelt fair Rosamond.
Eleanor stood for a few moments over her victim, like a dark thunder-cloud lowering above the goodly oak, before the bolt is launched that prostrates it for ever. As her tall figure drew nearer, the form of Rosamond seemed to shrink before it; like a dove burying itself in its nest, while the wings of the fierce hawk flap coldly above her.
She ventured to turn her head as she knelt,it was an unconscious movement,her eyes also raised themselves of their own accord,it might be that she looked up towards Heaven ; but there only glared the fiery comet that denoted death,the revengeful countenance of Eleanor hung over her. She uttered a loud shriek, and fell upon the floor.
" Hast thou got the phial from Belton ? said Eleanor.
"It is there !" said Ugglethred, pointing to the table, without evincing the least emotion; but she will need a goblet to quaff it from."
" Here is one," said Eleanor, taking a silver cup from a niche, and examining it minutely ; the very goblet," added
" And before the images of Madonna and Child knelt fair Rosamond."
she, which I gave to Henry in France, and in which I drank to him at our own nuptials :cursed be the remembrance But here is that which will sweeten the bitter draught," continued she, emptying the poison into the goblet; rouse her, Ugglethred, to pledge the health of Henry of England."
"What would you with me?" said Rosamond, starting up wildly, and throwing her hair back ; what wrong have I done, that ye cast such menacing looks upon me ? Whom have I injured, that ye seek to harm me? "
Eleanor drew her mantle back with one hand, and fixing her baleful glance upon her like the fabled basilisk, as if she would strike her dead with her eyes; while a coldblooded scorn curled her haughty lips, and her nostrils dilated like that of a savage when he is said to smell the blood of his enemy, as she exclaimed, Cunning harlot! I do but demean myself to waste a word upon thee. Is it nothing to step in between me and the affections of the King ? to lay out thy allurements and wean him from his Queen ?to sow dissension in our bosoms, and cause him to leave the mighty affairs of his realms to hold dalliance with a strumpet like thyself ? Couldst thou fly at none other game? Would none but a king suit thy dainty taste, to pinch and play with thy pallid cheeks? Poor pitiful wretch I do thee too much honour to administer with my own hand the death that shall crown thy ambition."
" I am not what thou hast named me," said Rosamond in a low, but firm voice. God is witness that I am not! that I have never sought to sow dissension between thee and his Highness; but that long before I heard of thy
name, or knew-" she pausedburied her face in her
hands, and added," Heaven knows my innocence "
" What art thou then ?speak said Eleanor, springing forward and grasping her by the arm, and dragging her towards the light, with as much ease, as if she had but seized the wrist of a child. Art thou his wife ?Down on
thy knees, and swear, by the Holy Virgin, that thou wert married to Henry before he knew me, and I will forgive thee. Bring me the damning proofs added she, her voice rising as she spoke, "and confirm it in the eyes of all England, and I will give thee such a dower as never fell to the share of a Norman daughter. Thou tremblest!" continued she, grasping her wrist tighter : thy voice falters thou liest!" and she drove her back with such force that Rosamond would have fallen had she not caught by the figure of the Madonna.
" Holy Virgin, protect me !" said Rosamond, folding her hands, and lifting up her beautiful eyes to Heaven, while her fair cheeks were pale as death ; grant me strength to endure this trial, then take me to thyself."
" There is some mystery in this affair," said Ugglethred, turning to Eleanor ; "were it not better to await the return of the King, and confront them face to face ? "
" Hold thy peace, fool," replied the angry Queen; "art thou also in league with Rosamond ; and seekest to elude my vengeance by gaining time ? No added she sternly, and seizing the goblet as she spoke, her day of mercy is past. Here," continued she, holding the cup in one hand and brandishing the dagger in the other, I give thee thy choice, drain me this goblet to the very dregs, or with my own hand I will let out thy lustful blood."
" Oh, have mercy on me !" exclaimed Rosamond, throwing herself on her knees, and laying hold of Eleanor's garment. Thou art thyself a mother oh, spare me for the sake of my children."
" Wert thou my daughter, I would show thee no mercy," replied the cruel Queen; loose thy hold, viper! and implore me no longer, lest I set my heel upon all thy poisonous brood, and crush them as I would the eggs of a cockatrice. Answer me, wilt thou drink, or compel me to defile my hands with thy blood ? "
" Oh, spare my life," continued Rosamond, still kneeling ;
" let me not taste of death so young ; leave me to end my days in the Nunnery of Godstow, and I will never look upon Henry's face again, never set foot beyond those sacred walls."
" Thy words will as soon remove the strong walls of this tower from their place as me from my purpose," replied Eleanor, her brow growing darker as she spoke. "I am no reed to be shaken by every ripple: hadst thou an hundred tongues to plead with, they should not save thy life. Thou shalt die therefore, choose thy death instantly. I have nursed my revenge too long to abandon it at a moment like this."
" Grant me then a brief space for prayer," said Rosamond, in a more collected manner; and may Heaven show you more mercy at the hour of death than you now extend to me."
"The moon is climbing above the dark trees," said Eleanor, glancing through the casement, and gazing on the bright orb of night, which was fast scaling the topmost branches. When she hath past the highest bough, thou shalt die."
" Then is my hour indeed at hand," replied Rosamond, glancing at the sign, and without averting her face she folded her hands in prayer. Her lips moved, but still her eyes were fixed upon the moon; and although it arose calm and cloudless up a summer sky, thickly clustered with stars, yet never to her fancy did it make such speed, when sailing through the stormy heavens, it passed cloud after cloud like an arrow. She tried in vain to pray. She remembered the days when she had gazed through the same casement awaiting the return of Henry. Then her memory flew to her father's castle. She tried in vain to pray. The remembrance of other days came gushing upon her heart, and she fell with her face upon the floor, and wept bitterly.
Eleanor also watched with impatience the rising orb;
half her disk already stood bold and bare upon the brow of Heaven, making the deep blue of night around her look darker. But the Queen's face still retained the same cold, cruel expression ; not a cloud had faded from her brow ; her compressed lips and steady eye told that she was firm to her purpose.
" It is time," said Eleanor, in a voice which, like the sound of the last trumpet, when it shall awaken the dead, caused Rosamond to spring instantly upon her feet, and, without uttering a word, she held out her arm for the goblet. With steady hand and fixed eye, and such a look as would have driven the blood back into the boldest heart, did Eleanor deliver the cup to her trembling victim. Rosamond held it in her hand for a moment, uplifted her eyes to Heaven, while her lips were seen to move, she then closed themdrained the cup to the dregs,and uttering a deep groan, fell upon the floor.
T. Miller, Fair Rosamond.
How the Queen of the Forest met the King of the Land
ROBIN and Marian dwelt and reigned in the forest, ranging the glades and the greenwoods from the matins of the lark to the vespers of the nightingale, and administering natural justice according to Robin's ideas of rectifying the inequalities of human condition : raising genial dews from the bags of the rich and idle, and returning them in fertilising showers on the poor and industrious : an operation which more enlightened statesmen have happily reversed, to the unspeakable benefit of the community at large. The light footsteps of Marian were impressed on the morning dew beside the firmer step of her lover, and they shook its large drops about them as they cleared themselves a passage through the thick tall fern, without any fear of catching cold, which was not much in fashion in the twelfth century. Robin was as hospitable as Cathmor for seven men stood on seven paths to call the strangers to his feast. It is true, he superadded the small improvement of making the stranger pay for it: than which what could be more generous ? For Cathmor was himself the prime giver of his feast, whereas Robin was only the agent to a series of strangers, who provided in turn for the entertainment of their successors ; which is carrying the disinterestedness of hospitality to its acme. Marian often killed the deer,
Which Scarlet dressed, and Friar Tuck blessed, While Little John wandered in search of a guest.
Robin was very devout, though there was great unity in his religion : it was exclusively given to our Lady the Virgin, and he never set forth in a morning till he had said three prayers, and had heard the sweet voice of his Marian singing a hymn to their mutual patroness. Each of his men had, as usual, a patron saint according to his name or taste. The friar chose a saint for himself, and fixed on Saint Botolph, whom he euphonised into Saint Bottle, and maintained that he was that very Panomphic Pantagruelian saint well known in ancient France as a female divinity by the name of La Dive Bouteille, whose oracular monosyllable, Trincq," is celebrated and understood by all nations, and is expounded by the learned doctor Alcofribas, who has treated at large on the subject, to signify drink." Saint Bottle, then, was the saint of Friar Tuck, who did not yield even to Robin and Marian in the assiduity of his devotions to his chosen patron. Such was their summer life, and in their winter caves they had sufficient furniture, ample provender, store of old wine, and assuredly no lack of fuel, with joyous music and pleasant discourse to charm away the season of darkness and storms.
Many moons had waxed and waned, when on the afternoon of a lovely summer day a lusty, broad-boned knight was riding through the forest of Sherwood. The sun shone brilliantly on the full green foliage, and afforded the knight a fine opportunity of observing picturesque effects, of which it is to be feared he did not avail himself. But he had not proceeded far before he had an opportunity of observing something much more interesting, namely a fine young outlaw leaning, in the true Sherwood fashion, with his back against a tree. The knight was preparing to ask the stranger a question, the answer to which, if correctly given, would have relieved him from a doubt that pressed heavily on his mind, as to whether he was in the right road or the wrong, when the youth prevented the inquiry by saying : In God's name, sir knight, you are late to your
"Leaning in true Sherwood fashion, with his back against a tree."
meals. My master has tarried dinner for you these three hours."
" I doubt," said the knight, I am not he you wot of. I am nowhere bidden to-day, and I know none in this vicinage."
"We feared," said the youth, "your memory would be treacherous : therefore am I stationed here to refresh it."
" Who is your master ? said the knight; and where does he abide ? "
"My master," said the youth, "is called Robin Hood, and he abides hard by."
" And what knows he of me ? said the knight.
" He knows you," answered the youth, as he does every wayfaring knight and friar, by instinct."
" Gramercy," said the knight; then I understand his bidding : but how if I say I will not come ? "
" I am enjoined to bring you," said the youth. If persuasion avail not, I must use other argument."
"Say'st thou so?" said the knight; "I doubt if thy stripling rhetoric would convince me."
"That," said the young forester, "we will see."
"We are not equally matched, boy," said the knight. I should get less honour by thy conquest, than grief by thy injury."
" Perhaps," said the youth, my strength is more than my seeming, and my cunning more than my strength. Therefore let it please your knighthood to dismount."
" It shall please my knighthood to chastise thy presumption," said the knight, springing from his saddle.
Hereupon, which in those days was usually the result of a meeting between any two persons anywhere, they proceeded to fight.
The knight had in an uncommon degree both strength and skill: the forester had less strength, but not less skill than the knight, and showed such a mastery of his weapon as reduced the latter to great admiration,
They had not fought many minutes by the forest clock, the sun; and had as yet done each other no worse injury than that the knight had wounded the forester's jerkin, and the forester had disabled the knight's plume; when they were interrupted by a voice from a thicket, exclaiming, "Well fought, girl: well fought. Mass, that had nigh been a shrewd hit. Thou owesthim for that, lass. Marry, stand by, I'll pay him for thee."
The knight turning to the voice, beheld a tall friar issuing from the thicket, brandishing a ponderous cudgel.
" Who art thou ? said the knight.
" I am the church militant of Sherwood," answered the friar. Why art thou in arms against our lady queen ? "
"What meanest thou?" said the knight.
" Truly, this," said the friar, is our liege lady of the forest, against whom I do apprehend thee in overt act of treason. What sayest thou for thyself?"
" I say," answered the knight, that if this be indeed a lady, man never yet held me so long."
"Spoken," said the friar, "like one who hath done execution. Hast thou thy stomach full of steel ? Wilt thou diversify thy repast with a taste of my oak-graff ? Or wilt thou incline thine heart to our vension, which truly is cooling ? Wilt thou fight ? or wilt thou dine ? or wilt thou fight and dine ? or wilt thou dine and fight ? I am for thee, choose as thou mayest."
" I will dine," said the knight; for with lady I never fought before, and with friar I never fought yet, and with neither will I ever fight knowingly : and if this be the queen of the forest, I will not, being in her own dominions, be backward to do her homage."
So saying, he kissed the hand of Marian, who was pleased most graciously to express her approbation.
" Gramercy, sir knight," said the friar, I laud thee for thy courtesy, which I deem to be no less than thy valour. Now do thou follow me, while I follow my nose, which
scents the pleasant odour of roast from the depth of the forest recesses. I will lead thy horse, and do thou-, lead my lady."
The knight took Marian's hand, and followed the friar, who walked before them, singing :
When the wind blows, when the wind blows From where under buck the dry log glows,
What guide can you follow,
O'er break and o'er hollow, So true as a ghostly, ghostly nose?
They proceeded, following their infallible guide, first along a light elastic greensward under the shade of lofty and widespreading trees that skirted a sunny opening of the forest, then along labyrinthine paths, which the deer, the outlaw, or the woodman had made, through the close shoots of the young coppices, through the thick undergrowth of the ancient woods, through beds of gigantic fern that filled the narrow glades and waved their green feathery heads above the plume of the knight. Along these sylvan alleys they walked in single file ; the friar singing and pioneering in the van, the horse plunging and floundering behind the friar, the lady following "in maiden meditation fancy-free," and the knight bringing up the rear, much marvelling at the strange company into which his stars had thrown him. Their path had expanded sufficiently to allow the knight to take Marian's hand again, when they arrived in the august presence of Robin Hood and his court.
Robin's table was spread under a high overarching canopy of living boughs, on the edge of a natural lawn of verdure, starred with flowers, through which a swift transparent rivulet ran, sparkling in the sun. The board was covered with abundance of choice food and excellent liquor, not without the comeliness of snow-white linen and the splendour of costly plate, which the sheriff of Nottingham had unwillingly contributed to supply, at the same time with an excellent cook, whom Little John's art had spirited
away to the forest with the contents of his master's silver scullery.
An hundred foresters were here assembled, overready for their dinner, some seated at the table and some lying in groups under the trees.
Robin made courteous welcome to the knight, who took his seat between Robin and Marian at the festal board; at which was already placed one strange guest in the person of a portly monk, sitting between little John and Scarlet, with his rotund physiognomy elongated into an unnatural oval by the conjoint influence of sorrow and fear: sorrow for the departed contents of his travelling treasury, a good-looking valise which was hanging empty on a bough; and fear for his personal safety, of which all the flasks and pasties before him could not give him assurance. The appearance of the knight, however, cheered him up with a semblance of protection, and gave him just sufficient courage to demolish a cygnet and a numble-pie, which he diluted with the contents of two flasks of canary sack.
But wine, which sometimes creates and often increases joy, doth also, upon occasion, heighten sorrow : and so it fared now with our portly monk, who had no sooner explained away his portion of provender, than he began to weep and bewail himself bitterly.
"Why dost thou weep, man?" said Robin Hood. "Thou hast done thine embassy justly, and shalt have thy Lady's grace."
"Alack! alack!" said the monk: "no embassy had I, luckless sinner, as well thou wottest, but to take to my abbey in safety the treasure whereof thou hast despoiled me."
"Propound me his case," said Friar Tuck, "and I will give him ghostly counsel."
"You well remember," said Robin Hood, the sorrowful knight, who dined with us here twelve months and a day gone by."
"Well do I," said Friar Tuck. "His lands were in jeopardy with a certain abbot, who would allow no longer day for their redemption. Whereupon you lent to him the four hundred pounds which he needed, and which he was to repay this day, though he had no better security to give than our Lady the Virgin."
" I never desired better," said Robin, for she never yet failed to send me my pay; and here is one of her own flock, this faithful and well-favoured monk of St. Mary's, hath brought it me duly, principal and interest to a penny, as Little John can testify, who told it forth. To be sure, he denied having it, but that was to prove our faith. We sought and found it."
" I know nothing of your knight," said the monk : and the money was our own, as the Virgin shall bless me."
"She shall bless thee," said Friar Tuck, "for a faithful messenger."
The monk resumed his wailing. Little John brought him his horse. Robin gave him leave to depart. He sprang with singular nimbleness into the saddle, and vanished without saying, God give you good day.
The stranger knight laughed heartily as the monk rode off.
" They say, sir knight," said Friar Tuck, they should laugh who win : but thou laughest who art likely to lose."
" I have won," said the knight, a good dinner, some mirth, and some knowledge : and I cannot lose by paying for them."
"Bravely said," answered Robin. "Still it becomes thee to pay: for it is not meet that a poor forester should treat a rich knight. How much money hast thou with thee ?"
"Troth, I know not," said the knight. Sometimes much, sometimes little, sometimes none. But search, and what thou findest keep : and for the sake of thy kind heart and open hand, be it what it may, I shall wish it were more."
"Then, since thou sayest so," said Robin, not a penny will I touch. Many a false churl comes hither, and disburses against his will: and till there is lack of these, I prey not on true men.''
"Thou art thyself a true man, right well I judge, Robin," said the stranger knight, "and seemest more like one bred in court than to thy present outlaw life."
" Our life," said the friar, is a craft, an art, and a mystery. How much of it, think you, could be learned at court ? "
" Indeed, I cannot say," said the stranger knight: but I should apprehend very little."
"And so should I," said the friar : "for we should find very little of our bold open practice, but should hear abundance of praise of our principles. To live in seeming fellowship and secret rivalry; to have a hand for all, and a heart for none; to be everybody's acquaintance, and nobody's friend; to meditate the ruin of all on whom we smile, and to dread the secret stratagems of all who smile on us; to pilfer honours and despoil fortunes, not by fighting in daylight, but by sapping in darkness : these are arts which the court can teach, but which we, by 'r Lady, have not learned. But let your court minstrel tune up his throat to the praise of your court hero, then come our principles into play: then is our practice extolled : not by the same name, for their Richard is a hero, and our Robin is a thief: marry, your hero guts an exchequer, while your thief disembowls a portmanteau; your hero sacks a city, while your thief sacks a cellar : your hero marauds on a larger scale, and that is all the difference, for the principle and the virtue are one: but two of a trade cannot agree: therefore your hero makes laws to get rid of your thief, and gives him an ill name that he may hang him : for might is right, and the strong make laws for the weak, and they that make laws to serve their own turn do also make morals to give colour to their laws. "
"Your comparison, friar," said the stranger, "fails in this: that your thief fights for profit, and your hero for honour. I have fought under the banners of Richard, and if, as you phrase it, he guts exchequers, and sacks cities, it is not to win treasure for himself, but to furnish forth the means of his greater and more glorious aim."
"Misconceive me not, sir knight," said the friar. "We all love and honour King Richard, and here is a deep draught to his health: but I would show you, that we foresters are miscalled by opprobrious names, and that our virtues, though they follow at humble distance, are yet truly akin to those of Cceur-de-Lion. I say not that Richard is a thief, but I say that Robin is a hero : and for honour did ever yet man, miscalled thief, win greater honour than Robin ? Do not all men grace him with some honourable epithet ? The most gentle thief, the most courteous thief, the most bountiful thief, yea, and the most honest thief. Richard is courteous, bountiful, honest, and valiant, but so also is Robin : it is the false word that makes the unjust distinction. They are twin spirits, and should be friends, but that fortune hath differently cast their lot; but their names shall descend together to the latest days, as the flower of their age and of England ; for in the pure principles of freebootery have they excelled all men; and to the principles of freebootery, diversely developed, belong all the qualities to which song and story concede renown."
" And you may add, friar," said Marian, that Robin, no less than Richard, is king in his own dominion; and that if his subjects be fewer, yet are they more uniformly loyal."
"I would, fair lady," said the stranger, "that thy latter observation were not so true. But I nothing doubt, Robin, that if Richard could hear your friar, and see you and your lady as I now do, there is not a man in England whom he would take by the hand more cordially than yourself."
"Gramercy, sir knight," said Robin--But his speech
was cut short by Little John calling, Hark "
All listened. A distant trampling of horses was heard. The sounds approached rapidly, and at length a group of horsemen glittering in holiday dresses was visible among the trees.
" God's my life said Robin, what means this ? To arms, my merrymen all."
"No arms, Robin," said the foremost horseman, riding up and springing from his saddle. Have you forgotten Sir William of the Lee ? "
"No, by my fay," said Robin: "and right welcome again to Sherwood."
Little John bustled to re-array the disorganized economy of the table, and replace the dilapidations of the provender.
" I come late, Robin," said Sir William, but I came by a wrestling, where I found a good yeoman wrongfully beset by a crowd of sturdy varlets, and I staid to do him right."
"I thank thee for that, in God's name," said Robin, "as if thy good service had been to myself."
"And here," said the knight, is thy four hundred pounds; and my men have brought thee an hundred bows and as many well-furnished quivers, which I beseech thee to receive and to use as a poor token of my grateful kindness to thee: for me and my wife and children didst thou redeem from beggary."
"The bows and arrows," said Robin, "will I joyfully receive : but of thy money, not a penny. It is paid already. My Lady, who was thy security, hath sent it me for thee."
Sir William pressed, but Robin was inflexible.
"It is paid," said Robin, "as this good knight can testify, who saw my Lady's messenger depart but now."
Sir William looked round to the stranger knight, and instantly fell on his knees, saying, God save King Richard.''
The foresters, friar and all, dropped on their knees together, and repeated in chorus : "God save King Richard."
" Rise, rise," said Richard, smiling: Robin is king here, as his lady hath shown. I have heard much of thee, Robin, both of thy present and thy former state. And this, thy fair forest-queen, is, if tales say true, the Lady Matilda Fitzwater."
Marian signed acknowledgment.
" Your father," said the King, has approved his fidelity to me, by the loss of his lands, which the newness of my return, and many public cares, has not yet given me time to restore : but this justice shall be done to him, and to thee also, Robin, if thou wilt leave thy forest-life and resume thy earldom, and be a peer of Cceur-de-Lion : for braver heart and juster hand I never yet found."
Robin looked round on his men,
"Your followers," said the King, "shallhave free pardon, and such of them as thou wilt part with shall have maintenance from me; and if ever I confess to priest, it shall be to thy friar."
" Gramercy to your majesty," said the friar; and my inflictions shall be flasks of canary; and if the number be (as in grave cases I may, peradventure, make it) too great for one frail mortality, I will relieve you by vicarious penance, and pour down my own throat the redundancy of the burden."
Robin and his followers embraced the King's proposal. A joyful meeting soon followed with the baron and Sir Guy of Gamwell: and Richard himself honoured with his own presence a formal solemnization of the nuptials of our lovers, whom he constantly distinguished with his peculiar regard.
The friar could not say, Farewell to the forest, without something of a heavy heart : and he sang as he turned his back upon its bounds, occasionally reverting his head :
Ye woods, that oft at sultry noon
Have o'er me spread your massy shade : Ye gushing streams, whose murmured tune
Has in my ear sweet music made, While, where the dancing pebbles show
Deep in the restless mountain-pool The gelid water's upward flow,
My second flask was laid to cool:
Ye pleasant sights of leaf and flower :
Ye pleasant sounds of bird and bee : Ye sports of deer in sylvan power :
Ye feasts beneath the greenwood tree : Ye bashings in the vernal sun :
Ye slumbers in the summer dell : Ye trophies that this arm has won :
And must you hear your friar's farewell ?
But the friar's farewell was not destined to be eternal. He was domiciled as the family confessor of the Earl and Countess of Huntingdon, who led a discreet and courtly life, and kept up old hospitality in all its munificence, till the death of King Richard and the usurpation of John, by placing their enemy in power, compelled them to return to their greenwood sovereignty; which, it is probable, they would have before done from choice, if their love of sylvan liberty had not been counteracted by their desire to retain the friendship of Cceur-de-Lion. Their old and tried adherents, the friar among the foremost, flocked again round their forest-banner; and in merry Sherwood they long lived together, the lady still retaining her former name of Maid Marian, though the appellation was then as much a misnomer as that of Little John.
Thomas Love Peacock, Maid Marian,
King and Queen at Court
THE King kept state with the Earl of Cornwall, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Lincoln, Henry de Wernham, his chaplain, who also had the custody of the Great Seal, the Earl of Norfolk, the Earl of Hereford, and a number of other nobles of the realm ; but the Queen kept her state apart.
The King's great chamber was marvellous to behold. There were twenty-five wax-lights held by esquires of the household, all in the King's livery, gentils as they were; also twenty-five wax torches were fixed high up over the tapestry. The walls were gorgeous with the story of Troy-town in ancient tapestries.
There were, that night, playing in the chamber, the King's twelve minstrels, all clothed, for his honour and dignity, in sumptuous livery, with their virger to order their pipings and blowings. There were, besides, the children of the chapel singing, at times, from the brown gallery; so that, the doors being open, you might have heard them through all that side of the castle; and those, who sat afar off in the great hall, needed none other music.
There also was Maister Henry, the versifier, whose ballad of the Giant of Cornwall was this night rehearsed to the harp by Richard, the King's harper, as was his famous Chronicle of Charlemagne, which lasted till his Highness was well-nigh weary, when he jocularly called out, having
tasted of his golden cup, that Henry should have a butt of wine with his wages, if he would shorten his ballads by one-half.
That night, the King played at "Checkere" with the Earl of Norfo.'k, on a board laid with jasper and chrystal, the checkmen being of the same. Some said the kings and queens were of ebony, studded over with jewels, but of this I know not.
But, the finest sight of all was the going of the chamberlain to the cupboard, accompanied of three nobles of the highest estate in the realm that were there present (save the King's family), to receive the King's cup and spice-plates ; and then the bringing up of the voide before his Highness. And, first, the usher, having assembled the King's sewers, their towels about their necks, with the four esquires of the body and the knights and esquires of the household, to the number of seventeen; these, with divers other officers, being met at the cupboard, the Chamberlain took the King's towel, and, having kissed it, as the custom is, delivered it to the Earl of Norfolk, he being of the highest estate, who reverently received the same, and laid it safely upon his shoulder. Then the said chamberlain gave the gold spice-plates covered to the Earl of Hereford ; and then the King's cup of massive gold, covered also, to the Earl of Warwick. At the same time were given to the knights of the household the Archbishop's spice-plate and cup, covered also, to be carried up by the space of one minute after the King's.
And, certes, it was a goodly sight to see all these nobles and gentils marching up the great chamber (the minstrels playing the while), compassed about with esquires, bearing great lights to the number of thirteen, especial care being taken, as the manner all times has been at the voide, that the lights were odd in number.
When this array drew near to the King, he, standing up under his cloth of estate, which was rolled up high, with the young Prince Edward on one hand and the Archbishop
KING AND QUEEN AT COURT 53
on the other, the Chamberlain taking the covers from off the spice-plates, gave assaye unto the Earl of Gloucester. The King, before he took his spice, made a beck to the Archbishop, that he should take his first; and the knights having advanced, as they well knew would be seemly, the Archbishop forthwith obeyed.
But, when the Chamberlain uncovered the cup, all the minstrels in the chamber blew up louder than ever, and so held on till his Highness took the ypocras, so that every roof in the castle rung with joy.
The King and Archbishop being served, his Highness's cup and spice-plates were again covered, but not so the Archbishop's. Then were the spice and cup carried to Prince Edward and the Earl of Cornwall, by the knights; to the bishops by the esquires of the household, and to the other estates by the esquires also. Which being done, his Highness forthwith departed for all night," the trumpets blowing before him. Then, were three healths drunk, one to the King, one to the Queen, and one to the Prince Edward; after which it were not meet that the assemblage should remain, and straight the great chamber was avoyded of all there present.
The Queen that night sat in her bower with all her ladies. There were mynstrelsy and dancing to the harp and viol. The Lady Barbara was the marveil of all, that beheld her moving to the sound of viols like unto some sprite, rather than to a poor mortal. Prince Edward danced with her a round, and the Queen often honoured her with her pleasing 'speech.
The dancing being ended, Pierre, a Norman and the Queen's chief minstrel, apparelled in the guise of his country, sang some of his ballads on the harp, in his own tongue, which, albeit were they not esteemed like unto Maister Henry's, yet did they not displease. But belike, if his Highness had been there at first, he would have bidden him to shorten his ballad by one-half.
A more pleasureful sight could not be than the Queen's bower, as it was at that time, where she sat in estate, under a cloth of gold, her ladies standing about her chair, and her maidens on either hand, below the steps of her throne ; and two young damsels of surpassing beauty and richly bedight, sitting on the first step at her feet; the same that were used so to sit when her Highness kept state in the great hall at festivals.
The arched roof was curiously wrought in that fashion which King Henry had newly brought into favour; and, besides these lights, a great crystal lamp that hung from the roof shone over the chamber and upon the goodly assemblage, as they looked upon the Lady Barbara, passing so winningly in the dance. That night the Earl of Richmond bore the Queen's spice-plate, and Sir Philip de Kinton her cup.
When the Lady Barbara had ended her'dance, the Queen called her to her chair ; and, making her take of the sweetmeats from her own plate, spoke commendable words to her, as did his Highness King Henry. Then the Queen, turning to the Lady Gloucester, took from her hands a girdle, richly beset with jewels, and, clasping it on the Lady Barbara, kissed her, and bade her wear it ever, for her sake and for her honour. Her Highness then stretched out her hand to Sir Gaston, who, kneeling, put it to his lips. May you, sir knight," said her Highness, "as well deserve this lady, as she deserves this token of my regard!"
Then the King said many gracious things, and seemed so merry of heart, that he made all around him gladsome ; till, the voide being ended, he went forth with the Queen, the trumpets blowing before them; and the chamber was then speedily avoided for all night.
Mrs. Ratcliffe, Gaston de Blondeville.
For Wallace or for King Edward.
WALLACE drew up his army in order for the new battle near a convent of Cistercian monks, on the narrow plain of Dalkeith. The two rivers Esk, flowing on each side of the little phalanx, formed a temporary barrier between it and the pressing legions of De Warenne. The earl's troops seemed countless, while the Southron lords who led them on, being elated by the representations which had been given to them of the disunited state of the Scottish army, and the consequent dismay which had seized their hitherto all-conquering commander, bore down upon the Scots with an impetuosity which threatened their universal destruction.
The sky was obscured; an awful stillness reigned through the air, and the spirits of the mighty dead seemed leaning from their clouds, to witness this last struggle of their sons. Fate did indeed hover over the opposing armies. She descended on the head of Wallace, and dictated from amidst his waving plumes. She pointed his spear, she wielded his flaming sword, she charged with him in the dreadful shock of battle. De Warenne saw his foremost thousands fall. He heard the shouts of the Scots, the cries of his men, and the plains of Stirling rose to his remembrance. He, descending the hill to lead forward himself, was met and almost overwhelmed by his flying troops; horses without riders, men without shield or sword, but all in dismay
rushed past him. He called to them, he waved the royal standard, he urged, he reproached, he rallied, and led them back again. The fight recommenced. Long and bloody was the conflict. De Warenne fought for conquest, and to recover a lost reputation. Wallace contended for his country; and to show himself always worthy of her latest blessing before he should go hence, and be no more seen."
The issue declared for Scotland. But the ground was covered with the slain, and Wallace chased a wounded foe with troops which dropped as they pursued. At sight of the melancholy state of his intrepid soldiers, he tried to check their ardour, but in vain. It is for Wallace that we conquer cried they ; and we die, or prove him the only captain in this ungrateful country !"
Night compelled them to halt; and while they rested on their arms, Wallace was satisfied that he had destroyed the power of De Warenne.
The splendour of this victory struck to the souls of the council of Stirling; but with no touch of remorse. Scotland being again rescued from the vengeance of her implacable foe, the disaffected lords in the citadel affected to spurn at her preservation, declaring to the Regent that they would rather bear the yoke of the veriest tyrant in the world than owe a moment of freedom to the man who (they pretended to believe) had conspired against their lives. And they had a weighty reason for this decision : though De Warenne was beaten, his wife was a victor. She had made Edward triumphant in the venal hearts of her kinsmen; gold, and her persuasions, with promises of future honours from the King of England, had sealed them entirely his. All but the Regent were ready to commit everything into the hands of Edward. The rising favour of these other lords with the court of England induced him to recollect that he might rule as the unrivalled friend of Bruce, should that prince live; or, in case of his death, he
might have it in his own power to assume the Scottish throne untrammelled. These thoughts made him fluctuate, and his country found him as undetermined in treason as unstable in fidelity.
Immediately on the victory at Dalkeith, Kirkpatrick (eager to be the first communicator of such welcome news to Lennox, who had planted himself as a watch at Stirling) withdrew secretly from Wallace's camp; and hoping to move the gratitude of the refractory lords, entered full of honest joy into the midst of their council.
He proclaimed the success of his commander. His answer was accusation and insult. All that had been charged against the too fortunate Wallace was re-urged with added acrimony. Treachery to the State, hypocrisy in morals, fanaticism in religionno stigma was too extravagant, too contradictory, to be affixed to his name. They who had been hurt in a recent fray in the hall, pointed to their still smarting wounds, and called upon Lennox to say if they did not plead against so dangerous a man.
" Dangerous to your crimes, and ruinous to your ambition !" cried Kirkpatrick; "for so help me God, as I believe, that an honester man than Sir William Wallace lives not in Scotland, and that ye know! And his virtues overtopping your littleness, ye would uproot the greatness which ye cannot equal."
This speech, which a burst of indignation had wrested from him, brought down the wrath of the whole party upon himself. Lord Athol, yet stung with his old wound, furiously struck him; Kirkpatrick drew his sword, and the two chiefs commenced a furious combat, each determined on the extirpation of the other. Gasping with almost the last breathing of life, neither could be torn from their desperate revenge, till many were hurt in attempting to separate them ; and then the two were carried off insensible and covered with wounds.
When this sad news was transmitted to Sir William
Wallace, it found him on the banks of the Esk, just returned from the citadel of Berwick, where, once more master of that fortress, he had dictated the terms of a conqueror and a patriot.
In the scene of his former victories, the romantic shades of Hawthorndean, he now pitched his triumphant camp, and from its verdant bounds despatched the requisite orders to the garrison castles on the borders. While employed in this duty, his heart was wrung by an account of the newly aroused storm in the citadel of Stirling; but as some equivalent, the chieftains of Midlothian poured in to him on every side ; and acknowledging him their protector, he again found himself the idol of gratitude, and the almost deified object of trust. At such a moment, when with one voice they were disclaiming all participation in the insurgent proceedings at Stirling, another messenger arrived from Lord Lennox, to conjure him, if he would avoid open violence or secret treachery, to march his victorious troops immediately to that city, and seize the assembled abthanes at once as traitors to their country. "Resume the regency," added he, which you only know how to conduct, and crush a treason which, increasing hourly, now walks openly in the day, threatening all that is virtuous, or faithful to you."
He did not hesitate to decide against this counsel; for, in following it, it could not be one adversary he must strike, but thousands.
" I am only a brother to my countrymen," said he to himself, and have no right to force them to their duty. When their king appears, then these rebellious heads may be made to bow." While he mused upon the letter of Lennox, Ruthven entered, and the friends returned together into the council-tent. But all there was changed. Most of the Lothian chieftains had also received messengers from their friends in Stirling. Allegations against Wallace, arguments to prove the policy of submitting themselves and
their properties to the protection of a great and generous King, though a foreigner, rather than to risk all by attaching themselves to the fortunes of a private person who made their services the ladder of his ambition," were the contents of their packets ; and they had been sufficient to shake the easy faith to which they were addressed. On the re-entrance of Wallace, the chieftains stole suspicious glances at each other, and without a word glided severally out of the tent.
Next morning, instead of coming as usual directly to their acknowledged protector, the Lothian chieftains were seen at different parts of the camp closely conversing in groups, and when any of Wallace's officers approached they separated or withdrew to a greater distance. This strange conduct Wallace attributed to its right source, and thought of Bruce with a sigh when he contemplated the variable substance of these men's minds. However, he was so convinced that nothing but the proclamation of Bruce, and that prince's personal exertions, could preserve his country from falling again into the snare from which he had just snatched it, that he was preparing to set out for Perthshire with such persuasions when Ker hastily entered his tent. He was followed by the Lord Soulis, Lord Buchan, and several other chiefs of equally hostile intentions. Soulis did not hesitate to declare his errand.
" We come, Sir William Wallace, by the command of the Regent and the assembled abthanes of Scotland, to take these brave troops, which have performed such good service to their country, from the power of a man who, we have every reason to believe, means to, turn their arms against the liberties of the realm. Without a pardon from the states; without the signature of the Regent; in contempt of the court which, having found you guilty of high treason, had in mercy delayed to pronounce sentence on your crime, you have presumed to place yourself at the head of the national troops, and to take to yourself the
merit of a victory won by their prowess alone Your designs are known, and the authority you have despised is now roused to punish. You are to accompany us this day to Stirling. We have brought a guard of four thousand men to compel your obedience."
Before the indignant Wallace could utter the answer his wrongs dictated, Bothwell, who at sight of the Regent's troops had hastened to his general's tent, entered, followed by his chieftains.
" Were your guard forty thousand instead of four," cried he,- they should not force our commander from usthey should not extinguish the glory of Scotland beneath the traitorous devices of hell-engendered envy and murderous cowardice !"
Soulis turned on him with eyes of fire, and laid his hand on his sword.
" Ay, cowardice reiterated Bothwell. "The midnight ravisher, the slanderer of virtue, the betrayer of his country, knows in his heart that he fears to draw aught but the assassin's steel. He dreads the sceptre of honour : Wallace must fall, that vice and her votaries may reign in Scotland. A thousand brave Scots lie under these sods, and a thousand yet survive who may share their graves; but they never will relinquish their invincible leader into the hands of traitors !"
The clamours of the citadel of Stirling now resounded through the tent of Wallace. Invectives, accusations, threatenings, reproaches, and revilings, joined in one turbulent uproar. Again swords were drawn, and Wallace, in attempting to beat down the weapons of Soulis and Buchan, aimed at BothwelPs heart, must have received the point of Soulis' in his own body had he not grasped the blade, and, wrenching it out of the chief's hand, broke it into shivers. Such be the fate of every sword which Scot draws against Scot!" cried he. Put up your weapons, my friends. The arm of Wallace is not shrunk that he could not defend
himself did he think that violence were necessary. Hear my determination, once and for ever!" added he. I acknowledge no authority in Scotland but the laws. The present Regent and his abthanes outrage them in every ordinance, and I should indeed be a traitor to my country did I submit to such men's behests. I shall not obey their summons to Stirling, neither will I permit a hostile arm to be raised in this camp against their delegates, unless the violence begins with them. This is my answer." Uttering these words, he motioned Bothwell to follow him, and left the tent.
Crossing a rude plank-bridge which then lay over the Esk, he met Lord Ruthven, accompanied by Lord Sinclair. The latter came to inform Wallace that ambassadors from Edward awaited his presence at Roslyn.
" They come to offer peace to our distracted country," cried Sinclair.
"Then," answered Wallace, "I shall not delay going where I may hear the terms."
Horses were brought; and during their short ride, to prevent the impassioned representations of the still raging Bothwell, Wallace communicated to his not less indignant friends the particulars of the scene he had left. These contentions must be terminated," added he; "and with God's blessing, a few days and they shall be so !"
" Heaven grant it!" returned Sinclair, thinking he referred to the proposed negotiation. If Edward's offers be at all reasonable, I would urge you to accept them; otherwise, invasion from without and civil commotion within will probably make a desert of poor Scotland."
Ruthven interrupted him: Despair not, my lord! Whatever be the fate of this embassy, let us remember that it is our steadiest friend who decides, and that his arm is still with us to repel invasion, to chastise treason !"
Arrived at the gate of Roslyn, Wallace, regardless of those ceremonials which often delay the business they
pretend to dignify, entered at once into the hall where the ambassadors sat. Baron Hilton was one, and Le de Spencer (father to the young and violent envoy of that name) was the other. At sight of the Scottish chief they rose, and the good baron, believing he came on a propitious errand, smiling, said, Sir William Wallace, it is your private ear I am commanded to seek." While speaking he looked on Sinclair and the other lords.
" These chiefs are as myself," replied Wallace. But I will not impede your embassy by crossing the wishes of your master in a trifle." He then turned to his friends: Indulge the monarch of England in making me the first acquainted with that which can only be a message to the whole nation."
The chiefs withdrew; and Hilton, without further parley, opened his mission. He said that King Edward, more than ever impressed with the wondrous military talents of Sir William Wallace, and solicitous to make a friend of so heroic an enemy, had sent him an offer of grace, which, if he contemned, must be the last. He offered him a theatre whereon he might display his peerless endowments to the admiration of the worldthe kingdom of Ireland, with its yet unreaped fields of glory, and all the ample riches of its abundant provinces should be his. Edward only required, in return for this royal gift, that he should abandon the cause of Scotland, swear fealty to him for Ireland, and resign into his hands one whom he had proscribed as the most ungrateful of traitors. In double acknowledgment for the latter sacrifice, Wallace need only send to England a list of those Scottish lords against whom he bore resentment, and their fates should be ordered according to his dictates. Edward concluded his offers by inviting him immediately to London to be invested with his new sovereignty; and Hilton ended his address by showing him the madness of abiding in a country where almost every chief, secretly or openly, carried a dagger against his life;
and therefore he exhorted him no longer to contend for a nation so unworthy of freedom, that it bore with impatience the only man who had the courage to maintain its inde pendence by virtue alone.
Wallace replied calmly, and without hesitation: To this message an honest man can make but one reply. As well might your sovereign exact of me to dethrone the angels of heaven, as to require me to subscribe to his proposals. They do but mock me; and aware of my rejection, they are thus delivered, to throw the whole blame of this cruelly persecuting war upon me. Edward knows that as a knight, a true Scot, and a man, I should dishonour myself to accept even life, ay, or the lives of all my kindred, upon these terms."
Hilton interrupted him by declaring the sincerity of Edward, and contrasting it with the ingratitude of the people whom he had served, he conjured him, with every persuasive of rhetoric, every entreaty dictated by a mind that revered the very firmness he strove to shake, to relinquish his faithless country, and become the friend of a king ready to receive him with open arms.
Wallace shook his head, and with an incredulous smile which spoke his thoughts of Edward, while his eyes beamed kindness upon Hilton, he answered: Can the man who would bribe me to betray a friend be faithful in his friendship? But that is not the weight with me. I was not brought up in those schools, my good baron, which teach that sound policy or true self-interest can be separated from virtue. When I was a boy, my father often repeated to me this proverb :
" Dico tibi verum, honestas, optima rerum, Nunquam servili sub nexu vivitur fili.'
I learned it then; I have since made it the standard of my actions, and I answer your monarch in a word. Were all my countrymen to resign their claims to the liberty which
is their right, I alone would declare the independence of my country; and by God's assistance, while I live, acknowledge no other master than the laws of St. David, and the legitimate heir of his blood."
Baron Hilton turned sorrowfully away, and Le de Spencer rose :
" Sir William Wallace, my part of the embassy must be delivered to you in the assembly of your chieftains "
" In the congregation of my camp," returned he; and opening the door of the ante-room, in which his friends stood, he sent to summon his chiefs to the platform before the council-tent.
When Wallace approached his tent, he found not only the captains of his own army, but the followers of Soulis and the chieftains of Lothian. He looked on this range of his enemies with a fearless eye, and passing through the crowd, took his station beside the ambassadors on the platform of the tent. The venerable Hilton turned away with tears on his veteran cheeks as the chief advanced, and Le de Spencer came forward to speak. Wallace, with a dignified action, requested his leave for a few minutes, and then, addressing the congregated warriors, unfolded to them the offer of Edward to him and his reply.
"And now," added he, "the ambassador of England is at liberty to declare his master's alternative."
Le de Spencer again advanced, but the acclamations with which the followers of Wallace acknowledged the nobleness of his answer excited such an opposite clamour on the side of the Soulis party that Le de Spencer was obliged to mount a war-carriage which stood near, and to vociferate long and loudly for silence before he could be heard. But the first words which caught the ears of his audience acted like a spell, and seemed to hold them in breathless attention.
"Since Sir William Wallace rejects the grace of his liege lord, Edward, King of England, offered to him this
once, and never to be again repeated, thus saith the King in his clemency to the earls, barons, knights, and commonalty of Scotland To every one of them, chief and vassal, excepting the aforesaid incorrigible rebel, he, the royal Edward, grants an amnesty of all their past treasons against his sacred person and rule, provided that within twenty-four hours after they hear the words of this proclamation, they acknowledge their disloyalty, with repentance, and laying down their arms, swear eternal fealty to their only lawful ruler, Edward, the lord of the whole island from sea to sea."
Le de Spencer then proclaimed the King of England to be now on the borders with an army of a hundred thousand men, ready to march with fire and sword into the heart of the kingdom, and put to the rack all of every sex, age, and condition, who should venture to dispute his rights.
" Yield," added he, while you may yet not only grasp the mercy extended to you, but the rewards and the honours he is ready to bestow. Adhere to that unhappy man, and by to-morrow's sunset your offended King will be on these hills, and then mercy shall be no more! Death is the doom of Sir William Wallace, and a similar fate to every Scot who after this hour dares to give him food, shelter, or succour. He is the prisoner of King Edward, and thus I demand him at your hands !"
Wallace spoke not, but with an unmoved countenance looked around upon the assembly. BothwelPs full soul then forced utterance from his labouring breast:
"Tell your Sovereign," cried he, that he mistakes. We are the conquerors who ought to dictate terms of peace Wallace is our invincible leader, our redeemer from slavery, the earthly hope in whom we trust, and it is not in the power of men nor devils to bribe us to betray our benefactor. Away to your King, and tell him that Andrew Q.s. F
Murray and every honest Scot is ready to live or to die by the side of Sir William Wallace."
" And by this good sword I swear the same cried Ruthven.
" And so do I!" rejoined Scrymgeour, or may the standard of Scotland be my winding-sheet! "
" Or may the Clyde swallow us up quick exclaimed Lockhart of Lee, shaking his mailed hand at the ambassadors.
. But not another chief spoke for Wallace. Even Sinclair was intimidated, and like others who wished him well, he feared to utter his sentiments. But mostoh shame to Scotland and to mancast up their bonnets and cried aloud, Long live King Edward, the only legitimate lord of Scotland !"
At this outcry, which was echoed even by some in whom he had confided, while it pealed around him like a burst of thunder, Wallace threw out his arms, as if he would yet protect Scotland from herself,
" Oh, desolate people exclaimed he, in a voice of piercing woe, too credulous of fair speeches, and not aware of the calamities which are coming upon you Call to remembrance the miseries you have suffered, and start, before it be too late, from this-last snare of your oppressor Have I yet to tell ye that his embrace is death ? Oh look yet to heaven and ye shall find a rescue "
"Seize that rebellious man," cried Soulis to his marshals. In the name of the King of England, I command you."
"And in the name of the King of kings, I denounce death on him who attempts it !" exclaimed Bothwell, throwing himself between Wallace and the men; put forth a hostile hand towards him, and this bugle shall call a thousand resolute swords to lay this platform in blood "
Soulis, followed by his knights, pressed forward to execute this treason himself, Scrymgeour, Ruthven, Lockhart,
and Ker rushed before their friend. Edwin, starting forward, drew his sword, and the clash of steel was heard. Bothwell and Soulis grappled together, the falchion of Ruthven gleamed amidst a hundred swords, and blood flowed around. The voice, the arm of Wallace, in vain sought to enforce peace; he was not heard, he was not felt in the dreadful warfare. Ker fell with a gasp at his feet, and breathed no more.
At that moment Bothwell, having disabled Soulis, would have blown his bugle to call up his men to a general conflict, but Wallace snatched the horn from his hand, and springing upon the very war-carriage from which Le de Spencer had proclaimed Edward's embassy, he drew forth his sword, and stretching the mighty arm that held it over the throng, he exclaimed,
" Peace, men of Scotland and for the last time hear the voice of William Wallace."
A dead silence immediately ensued, and he proceeded,
"If you have aught of nobleness within ye, if a delusion more fell than witchcraft has not blinded your senses, look beyond this field of horror, and behold your country free. Edward in these apparent demands sues for peace. Did we not drive his armies into the sea ? And were we resolved, he never could cross our borders more. What is it then you do, when you again put your necks under his yoke ? Did he not seek to bribe me to betray you ? and yet when I refuse to purchase life and the world's rewards by such baseness, you you forget that you are free-born Scots, that you are the victors, and he the vanquished; and you give, not sell, your birthright to the demands of a tyrant! You yield yourselves to his extortions, his oppressions, his revenge Think not he will spare the people he would have sold to purchase his bitterest enemy, or allow them to live unmanacled who possess the power of resistance. On the day in which you are in his hands you will feel that you have exchanged honour for disgrace, liberty
for bondage, life for death I draw this sword for you no more. But there yet lives a prince, a descendant of the royal heroes of Scotland, whom Providence may conduct to be your preserver. Reject the proposals of Edward, dare to defend the freedom you now possess, and that prince will soon appear to crown your patriotism with glory and happiness "
" We acknowledge no prince but King Edward of England !" cried Buchan.
The exclamation was reiterated by a most disgraceful majority on the ground. Wallace was transfixed.
" Then," cried Le de Spencer, in the first pause of the tumult, "to every man, woman, and child throughout the realm of Scotland, excepting Sir William Wallace, I proclaim in the name of King Edward pardon and peace."
At these words several hundred Scottish chieftains dropped on their knees before Le de Spencer, and murmured their vows of fealty.
Indignant, grieved, Wallace took his helmet from his head, and throwing his sword into the hand of Bothwell,
"That weapon," cried he, "which I wrested from this very King Edward, and with which I twice drove him from our borders, I give to you. I relinquish a soldier's name, on the spot where I humbled England three times in one day, where I now see my victorious country deliver herself bound into the grasp of the vanquished I go without sword or buckler from this dishonoured field, and what Scot, my public or private enemy, will dare to strike the un^ guarded head of William Wallace ? "
As he spoke, he threw his shield and helmet to the ground, and, leaping from the war-carriage, took his course through the parting ranks of his enemies, who, awe-struck, or kept in check by a suspicion that others might not second the attack they would have made on him, durst not lift an arm or breathe a word as he passed.
Jane Porter, The Scottish Chiefs.
How Queen Isabella left the King her Husband
KING EDWARD THE SECOND, father to the noble King Edward the Third, governed right diversely his realm by the exhortation of Sir Hugh Spencer, who had been nourished with him since the beginning of his youth ; the which Sir Hugh had so enticed the King, that his father and he were the greatest masters in all the realm, and by envy thought to surmount all other barons of England; whereby after the great discomfiture that the Scots had made at Stirling, great murmuring there arose in England between the noble barons and the King's council, and namely, against Sir Hugh Spencer. They put on him, that by his counsel they were discomfited, and that he was favourable to the King of Scots. And on this point the barons had divers times communication together, to be advised what they might do; whereof Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who was uncle to the King, was chief. And anon, when Sir Hugh Spencer had espied this, he purveyed for remedy, for he was so great with the King, and so near him, that he was more beloved with the King than all the world after.
So on a day he came to the King, and said : Sir, certain lords of your realm have made alliance together against you; and without ye take heed thereto betimes, they purpose to put you out of your realm": and so by his malicious means he caused that the King made all the said
lords to be taken, and their heads to be stricken off without delay, and without knowledge or answer to any cause. First of all Sir Thomas Earl of Lancaster, who was a noble and a wise, holy knight, and hath done since many fair miracles in Pontefract, where he was beheaded, for the which deed the said Sir Hugh Spencer achieved great hate in all the realm, and specially of the Queen, and of the Earl of Kent, brother to the King.
And when he perceived the displeasure of the Queen, by his subtle wit he set great discord between the King and the Queen, so that the King would not see the Queen, nor come in her company; the which discord endured a long space. Then was it shewed to the Queen secretly, and to the Earl of Kent, that without they took good heed to themselves, they were likely to be destroyed; for Sir Hugh Spencer was about to purchase much trouble to them. Then the Queen secretly did purvey to go into France, and took her way as on pilgrimage to Saint Thomas of Canterbury, and so to Winchelsea; and in the night went into a ship that was ready for her, and her young son Edward with her, and the Earl of Kent and Sir Roger Mortimer; and in another ship they had put all their purveyance, and had wind at will, and the next morning they arrived in the haven of Boulogne.
When Queen Isabel was arrived at Boulogne, and her son with her, and the Earl of Kent, the captains and abbot of the town came against her, and joyously received her and her company into the abbey, and there she abode two days : then she departed, and rode so long by her journeys, that she arrived at Paris. Then King Charles, her brother, who was informed of her coming, sent to meet her divers of the greatest lords of his realm, as the Lord Sir Robert dArtois, the Lord of Coucy, the Lord of Sully, the Lord of Roye, and divers other, who honourably did receive her, and brought her into the city of Paris to the King her brother. And when the King saw his sister, whom he had
not seen long before, as she should have entered into his chamber he met her, and took her in his arms, and kissed her, and said : Ye be welcome, fair sister, with my fair nephew your son "; and took them by the hands, and led them forth.
The Queen, who had no great joy at her heart, but that she was so near to the King her brother, she would have kneeled down two or three times at the feet of the King, but the King would not suffer her, but held her still by the right hand, demanding right sweetly of her estate and business. And she answered him right sagely, and lamentably recounted to him all the felonies and injuries done to her by Sir Hugh Spencer, and required him of his aid and comfort.
When the noble King Charles of France had heard his sister's lamentation, who weepingly had shewed him all her need and business, he said to her: "Fair sister, appease yourself; for by the faith I owe to God and to Saint Denis, I shall right well purvey for you some remedy."
The Queen then kneeled down, whether the King would or not, and said: My right dear lord and fair brother, I pray God reward you."
The King then took her in his arms, and led her into another chamber, the which was apparelled for her, and for the young Edward her son, and so departed from her, and caused at his costs and charges all things to be delivered that was behoveful for her and for her son.
After it was not long, but that for this occasion Charles, King of France, assembled together many great lords and barons of the realm of France, to have their counsel and good advice how they should ordain for the need and business of his sister Queen of England. Then it was counselled to the King, that he should let the Queen his sister to purchase for herself friends, whereas she would, in the realm of France, or in any other place, and himself to feign and be not known thereof; for, they said, to move
war with the King of England, and to bring his own realm into hatred, it were nothing appertinent nor profitable to him, nor to his realm. But, they concluded, that conveniently he might aid her with gold and silver, for that is the metal whereby love is attained, both of gentlemen and of poor soldiers. And to this counsel and advice accorded the King, and caused this to be shewed to the Queen privily by Sir Robert dArtois, who as then was one of the greatest lords of all France.
Then the Queen, as secretly as she could, she ordained for her voyage, and made her purveyance; but she could not do it so secretly, but Sir Hugh Spencer had knowledge thereof. Then he thought to win and withdraw the King of France from her by great gifts, and so sent secret messengers into France with great plenty of gold and silver and rich jewels, and specially to the King, and his privy council; and did so much that, in short space, the King of France and all his privy council were as cold to help the Queen in her voyage, as they had before great desire to do it. And the King brake all that voyage, and defended every person in his realm, on pain of banishing the same, that none should be so hardy to go with the Queen to bring her again into England. And yet the said Sir Hugh Spencer advised him of more malice, and bethought him how he might get again the Queen into England, to be under the King's danger and his. Then he caused the King to write to the holy father the Pope affectuously, desiring him that he would send and write to the King of France, that he should send the Queen his wife again into England; for he will acquit himself to God and the world, and that it was not his fault that she departed from him; for he would nothing to her but all love and good faith, such as he ought to hold in marriage. Also there were like letters written to the cardinals, devised by many subtle ways, the which all may not be written here.
Also he sent gold and silver great plenty to divers
cardinals and prelates, such as were most nearest and secretest with the Pope, and right sage and able ambassadors were sent on this message; and they led the Pope in such wise by their gifts and subtle ways, that he wrote to the King of France that, on pain of cursing, he should send his sister Isabel into England to the King her husband.
These letters were brought to the King of France by the Bishop of Saintes, whom the Pope sent in that legation. And when the King had read the letters, he caused them to be shewn to the Queen his sister, whom he had not seen of long space before, commanding her hastily to avoid his realm, or else he would cause her to avoid with shame.
Froissarfs Chronicle, by Lord Berners, cap. vi.-viii
The Queen Wins a Battle
WHEN the King of England had besieged Calais, and lay there, the Scots determined to make war into England, and to be revenged of such hurts as they had taken before : for they said then, how that the realm of England was void of men of war; for they were, as they said, with the King of England before Calais, and some in Bretagne, Poitou, and Gascony: the French King did what he could to stir the Scots to that war, to the intent that the King of England should break up his siege, and return to defend his own realm. The King of Scots made his summons to be at Perth, on the river of Tay, in Scotland; thither came earls, barons, and prelates of Scotland, and there agreed, that in all haste possible, they should enter England; to come in that journey was desired John of the out Isles, who governed the wild Scots, for to him they obeyed, and to no man else ; he came with a three thousand of the most outrageous people in all that country.
When all the Scots were assembled, they were of one and other, a fifty thousand fighting men; they could not make their assembly so secret, but that the Queen of England, who was as then in the marches of the North, about York, knew all their dealing : then she sent all about for men, and lay herself at York; then all men of war and archers came to Newcastle with the Queen. In the mean season, the King of Scots departed from Perth and went to Dun-
fermline the first day; the next day they passed a little arm of the sea, and so came to Stirling, and then to Edinburgh: then they numbered their company, and they were a three thousand men of arms, knights, and squires, and a thirty thousand of other, on hackneys: then they came to Roxburgh, the first fortress English on that part; captain there was Sir William Montague. The Scots passed by without any assault-making, and so went forth, burning and destroying the country of Northumberland, and their couriers ran to York, and burnt as much as was without the walls, and returned again to their host, within a day's journey of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The Queen of England, who desired to defend her country, came to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and there tarried for her men, who came daily from all parts. When the Scots knew that the Englishmen assembled at Newcastle, they drew thitherward, and their couriers came running before the town) and at their returning, they burnt certain small hamlets thereabout, so that the smoke thereof came into the town of Newcastle. Some of the Englishmen would have issued out, to have fought with them that made the fires, but the captains would not suffer them to issue out.
The next day the King of Scots, with a forty thousand men, one and other, came and lodged within three little English mile of Newcastle, in the land of the Lord Nevill, and the King sent to them within the town, that if they would issue out into the field, he would fight with them gladly. The lords and prelates of England said they were content to adventure their lives with the right and heritage of the King of England, their master; then they all issued out of the town, and were in number a twelve hundred men of arms, three thousand archers, and seven thousand of other, with the Welshmen.
Then the Scots came and lodged against them, near together : then every man was set in order of battle : then
the Queen came among her men, and there was ordained four battles, one to aid another : the first had in governance the Bishop of Durham, and the Lord Percy: the second the Archbishop of York, and the Lord Nevill: the third the Bishop of Lincoln, and the Lord Mowbray : the fourth the Lord Edward de Balliol, captain of Berwick, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Lord Ros : every battle had like number, after their quantity. The Queen went from battle to battle, desiring them to do their devoir, to defend the honour of her lord the King of England, and in the name of God, every man to be of good heart and courage, promising them, that to her power she would remember them as well or better, as though her lord the King were there personally. Then the Queen departed from them, recommending them to God and to Saint George.
Then anon after, the battles of the Scots began to set forward, and in like wise so did the Englishmen ; then the archers began to shoot on both parties, but the shot of the Scots endured but a short space, but the archers of England shot so fiercely, so that when the battles approached, there was a hard battle; they began at nine, and endured till noon: the Scots had great axes, sharp and hard, and gave with them many great strokes ; howbeit, finally the Englishmen obtained the place and victory, but they lost many of their men. There were slain of the Scots, the Earl of Fife, the Earl of Buchan, the Earl of Dunbar, the Earl of Sutherland, the Earl of Strathern, the Earl of Mar, the Earl John Douglas, and the Lord Alexander Ramsay, who bare the King's banner, and divers other knights and squires. And there the King was taken, who fought valiantly, and was sore hurt; a squire of Northumberland took him, called John Copeland, and as soon as he had taken the King, he went with him out of the field, with eight of his servants with him, and so rode all that day, till he was a fifteen leagues from the place of the battle, and at night he came to a castle called Ogle; and then he said he would not
deliver the King of Scots to no man nor woman living, but all only to the King of England, his lord. The same day there was also taken in the field the Earl Moray, the Earl of March, the Lord William Douglas, the Lord Robert Vesey, the Bishop of Aberdeen, the Bishop of .St. Andrew's, and divers other knights and barons. And there were slain of one and other a fifteen thousand, and the others saved themselves as well as they might: this battle was beside Newcastle, the year of our Lord MCCCXLVL, the Saturday next after Saint Michael.
Then the Queen made good provision for the city of York, the castle of Roxburgh, the city of Durham, the town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and in all other garrisons on the marches of Scotland, and left in those marches the Lord Percy, and the Lord Nevill, as governors there: then the Queen departed from York towards London. Then she set the King of Scots in the strong Tower of London, and the Earl Moray, and all other prisoners, and set good keeping over them. Then she went to Dover, and there took the sea, and had so good wind, that in a short space she arrived before Calais, three days before the feast of All Saints, for whose coming the King made a great feast and dinner, to all the lords and ladies that were there ; the Queen brought many ladies and damosels with her, as well to accompany her, as to see their husbands, fathers, brothers, and other friends that lay at siege there before Calais, and had done a long space.
Froissart's Chronicle, by Lord Berners, cap. cxxxvii.-cxxxix.
The Deposition of the King
THE Duke of Bretagne and die Earl of Derby were lovingly concluded together, and when all thing was ready, the duke and the earl came thither, and when the wind served the Earl of Derby and his company took the sea; he had with him three ships of war to conduct him into England, and the further they sailed the better wind they had, so that within two days and two nights they arrived at Plymouth in England, and issued out of their ships; and entered into the town little and little. The baily of Plymouth, who had charge of the town under the King, had great marvel when he saw so much people and men of war enter into the town ; but the Bishop of Canterbury appeased him, and said how they were men of war that would do no harm in the realm of England, sent thither by the Duke of Bretagne to serve the King and the realm. Therewith the baily was content, and the Earl of Derby kept himself so privy in a chamber, that none of the town knew him.
Then the Bishop of Canterbury wrote letters signed with his hand to London, signifying the coming of the Earl of Derby, and sent them by a sufficient man in post, who took fresh horses by the way, and came to London the same day at night, and passed over the bridge and so came to the mayor's lodging, who as then was a-bed; and as soon as the
mayor knew that a messenger was come from the Bishop of
" And ever as they rode forward they met more people."