« ZurückWeiter »
allowed, any high degree of cultivation." But, whatever view we take of this historical question, the scenery of the New Forest is indissolubly associated with the memory of the two first Norman hunter-kings. There is probably no place in England which in its general aspect appears for centuries to have undergone so little change. The very people are unchanged. After walking in a summer afternoon for several miles amongst thick glades, guided only by the course of the declining sun,
“ Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough briar," we came, in the low ground between Beaulieu and Denny Lodge, upon two peasants gathering a miserable crop of rowan. To our questions as to the proper path, they gave a grin, which expressed as much cunning as idiotcy, and pointed to a course which led us directly to the edge of a bog. They were low of stature, and coarse in feature. The collar of the Saxon slave was not upon their necks, but they were the descendants of the slave, through a long line who had been here toiling in hopeless ignorance for seven centuries. Their mental chains have never been loosened. A mile or two farther we encountered a tall and erect man, in a peculiar costume, half peasant, half huntsman. He had the frank manners of oue of nature's gentlemen, and insisted upon going with us a part of the way which we sought to Lyndhurst. His family, too, had been settled here, time out of mind. He was the descendant of the Norman huntsman, who had been trusted and encouraged, whilst the Saxon ehurl was feared and oppressed. There is a lesson still to be taught by the eondition of the two races in the primitive wilds of the New Forest,
But we are digressing from our proper theme. In these thick coverts, we find not many trees, and especially oaks, of that enormous size which indicates the growth of centuries. The forest has been neglected. Trees of every variety, with underwood in proportion, have oppressed each the other's luxuriance, Now and then a vigorous tree has shot up above its neighbours; but the general aspect is that of continuous wood, of very slow and stunted growth, with occasional ranges of low wet land almost wholly devoid of wood. There are many spots, undoubtedly, of what we call picturesque beauty ; but the primitive solitariness of the place is its great charm. We are speaking, of course, of those parts which must be visited by a pedestrian ; for the high roads necessarily lead through the most cultivated lands, passing through a few villages which have nothing of the air of belonging to so wild and primitive a region. Lyndhurst, the prettiest of towns, is the capital of the Forest. Here its courts, with their peculiar jurisdiction, are held in a hall of no great antiquity ; but in that hall hangs the stirrup which tradition, from time immemorial, asserts was attached to the saddle from which William Rufus fell, when struck by the glancing arrow of Walter Tyrell. There is a circumstance even more remarkably associated with tradition, to be found in the little village of Minested. It is recorded that the man who picked up the body of the Red king was named Purkess ; that he was a charcoal-burner ; and that he conveyed the body to Winchester in the cart which he employed in his trade. Over the door of a little shop in that village we saw the name of Purkess in 1843-a veritable relic of the old times. Mr. Rose has recorded the fact in prose and verse, of the charcoalburner's descendants still living in this spot, and still possessing one horse and cart, and no more :
"A Minestead churl, whose wonted traile
Outstretch'd amid the gorse
The monarch found ; and in his wain
Convey'd the bleeding corse.
Even the selfsame spot:
Nor less the children's lot.
And still, in merry Lyndhurst hall,
Who lists, the sight may see;
The memorable tree."
The "fair stone,” which was erected by Lord Delaware in 1745, is now put into an iron case, of supreme ugliness ; and we are informed as follows :-“ This stone having been much mutilated, and the inscriptions on each of its three sides defaced, this more durable memorial, with the original inscriptions, was erected in the year 1841, by William Sturges Bourne, Warden." Another century will see whether this boast of durability will be of any account. In the time of Leland, there was a chapel built on the spot. It would be a wise act of the Crown, to whom this land belongs, to found a school here--a better way of continuing a record than Lord Delaware's stone, or Mr. Sturges Bourne's iron. The history of their country, its constitution, it privileges—the duties and rights of Englishmen-things which are not taught to the children of our labouring millions—might worthily commence to be taught on the spot where the Norman tyrant fell, leaving successors who one by one came to the knowledge that the people were something not to be despised or neglected. The following is the inscription on the original stone :
“ Here stood the oak-tree on which the arrow, shot by Sir William Tyrrel, at a stag, glanced,
and struck King William II., surnamed Rufus, on the breast; of which stroke he in
stantly died, on the second of August, 1100. “ King William II., surnamed Rufus, being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart be.
longing to one Purkess, and drawn from hence to Winchester, and buried in the cathedral
church of that city. “That the spot where an event so memorable had happened might not hereafter be unknown,
this stone was set up by John Lord Delaware, who had seen the tree growing in this place, anno 1745."
47.-WALTER TYRREL AND WILLIAM RUFUS.
Rufus. Tyrrel, spur onward ! we must not await
Tyrrel. Behold, my liege ! hither they troop amain,
Over my pales? the dolts
Please you, my liege,
Rufus. Why not have ridden round
Tyrrel (galloping forward.) Ho! my lord bishop!
Tyrre. My lord ! your presence ; but before the king ;
Bishop. The king shall hear of this. I recognise
And Sir Walter Tyrrel
Bishop. Ay, by God's grace ! pert losel !
Bishop. Varlet ! I may chastise this insolence.
Tyrrel. I like those feathers; but there crows no cock
Bishop. God's blood ! were I no bishop --
Then thy own
Bishop. Whip that hound aside ! O Christ!
Tyrrel. The scent lies well ; pity no more
Rufus. Which of you broke my palings down?
No doubt he does ; but you,
[7'yrrel rides towards him. Sir Walter! may I task your courtesy To find me any of my followers ?
Stay with me; I want thee, Tyrrel !
Rufus, Where are the lords?
Gone past your grace, bare headed,
Well, prick them on.
They hunt not in the summer.
Sir! not unless
Rufus. Flowers! and leave flowers too ?
Only some half-wild,
Rufus. What lies beyond this close briar hedge, that smells
Tyrrel. A poor low cottage : the dry marl-pit shields it,
I am fain to laugh
At thy rank minstrelsy. A poor low cottage !
Tyrrel. It may be so.
No; it may not be so.
Tyrrel. Hall, chapel, chamber, cellar, turret, grange,
O my liege !
Make me no confidant
Nor you, my liege ! nor any :
Thou 'rt at bay ;
Tyrrel. My father's house is (like my father) gone :
Rufus. And stand against thy king !
How many yokes
Rufus. He kept good oheer, they tell me.
Ay! and none beside ?
No daughter ?
I thought it.
Tyrrel. Grace ! pity! mercy on her !