Abbildungen der Seite

highly improper and seditious? Don't you know that by crying out "Shame!" in that way, you insult not only every monarch, but every ministry that ever existed? Shame, indeed! Shame on you, for daring to insult our late excellent Whig Ministry, our present admirable Conservative Cabinet, Sir Robert, Lord John, and all, every minister that ever governed us. They all promise to better us, they all never do so. Learn respect for your betters, young people, and do not break out into such premature rebellion. [The children being silent, Miss T. put on a less severe countenance and continued]—

I will tell you a pleasant joke of that wag, his late Majesty King William Rufus. He put the kingdom into a great fury against the Normans, saying, I have no doubt, that they were our natural enemies, and called a huge army together, with which, he said, he would go and annihilate them. The army was obliged to assemble, for by the laws of the country each nobleman, knight, thane, and landholder was bound according to the value of his land to furnish so many soldiers, knowing that the King would come down on their estates else; and so being all come together, and ready to cross the water, the King made them a speech.

[ocr errors]

Friends, Countrymen, and Fellow Soldiers (said he); companions of my toil, my feelings, and my fame; the eyes of Europe are upon you. You are about to embark on a most dangerous enterprise; you will have to undergo the horrors of a sea voyage, of which I need not describe to you the discomforts (the army began to look very blue). You will be landed in a hostile country, which has been laid waste by me already in my first invasions, as also by the accursed policy of the despot who governs it. [Cries of "Down with Robert Shorthose !" "No tyranny!" "No Normans!"] In this afflicted naked country the greater part of you will inevitably starve; a considerable number will be cut to pieces by the ferocious Norman soldiery; and even if it please Heaven to crown my just cause with success, what will my triumph benefit you, my friends? You will be none the better for it; but will come back many of you without your arms and legs, and not a penny richer than when you went. [Immense sensation.] "Now, I appeal to you as men, as Englishmen, as fathers of families, will it not be better to make a peaceful and honourable compromise than to enter upon any such campaign? Yes! I knew you would say yes, as becomes men of sense, men of honourEnglishmen, in a word. [Hear, hear.] I ask you, then-your Sovereign and father asks you-will it not be better to pay me ten shillings apiece all round, and go home to your happy families -to your lovely wives, who will thus run no risk of losing the

[ocr errors]

partners of their beds—to smiling children, who may still for many, many years have their fathers to bless, maintain, and educate them? Officers, carry the hats round, and take the sense of the army."

Putting his handkerchief to his eyes, the beneficent monarch here sat down and what was the consequence of his affecting appeal? The hats were sent round-the whole army saw the propriety of subscribing-fifteen thousand pounds were paid down. on the spot a bloody war was avoided-and thus, as the King said, all parties were benefited.

For all this, however, he was not long before he had them out again, and took a great number of his towns and castles from his brother Robert. At last he got possession of his whole dukedom; for at this time all Europe was seized with a strange fit of frenzy and hatred against the Turks; one Peter, a hermit, went abroad preaching hatred against these unbelievers, and the necessity of taking Palestine from them, and murdering every mother's son of them. No less than a million of men set off on this errand. Three hundred thousand of them marched ahead, without food or forethought, expecting that Heaven would provide them with nourishment on their march, and give them the victory over the Saracens. But this pious body was cut to pieces; and as for the doings of the other seven hundred thousand, what heroes commanded them, what dangers they overcame, what enchanters they destroyed, how they took the Holy City, and what came of their conquest—all this may be read in the veracious history of one Tasso, but has nothing to do with the history of William Rufus.

That shrewd monarch would not allow his islanders to meddle with the business; but his brother, honest Robert, quite sick of fighting, drinking, and governing in his own country, longed to go to Palestine, and having no money (as usual), William gave him a sum for which the other handed over his inheritance to him; and so Robert was got rid of, and William became King of England and Duke of Normandy.

But he did not keep his kingdoms long. There is a tract of land called the New Forest, in Hampshire, which has been called so ever since the Conqueror's time. Once it was a thriving district covered with farms and villages and churches, with many people living in it. But conquering King William had a fancy to have a hunting-ground there. Churches and villages he burnt down; orchards and cornfields he laid waste; men, women, and children he drove pitilessly away, and gave up the land to boar and deer. So the people starved and died, and he had his hunting-ground. And such a keen sportsman was he, and so tender and humane towards the dumb animals, that he gave orders, if any man killed

a boar, a deer, or even a hare, he should be killed, or have his eyes put out. Up to a late period, our country enjoyed many of the blessings of that noble code of laws.

His Majesty King William Rufus loved sport as well as his Royal father, and this New Forest above all. There were all sorts of legends concerning it. The people said (but this was, no doubt, from their superstitious hatred of his Majesty's person and race), that, on account of the crimes the Conqueror had committed in the spot, it was destined to be fatal to his family. One of Rufus's brothers, and his nephew, were actually killed while hunting there ; and one morning in the year 1100, when his Majesty was going out hunting, a monk came and prophesied death to him, and warned him to stay at home.

But the scent was lying well on the ground; the King ordered the prophet a purse of money, and rode off with his dogs.

He was found dead in the wood, with an arrow in his breast; and nobody knows who shot it: and what's more, my loves, I fear nobody cares. A Frenchman by the name of Tyrrell was supposed to have done the deed; but Tyrrell denied the charge altogether. His Royal Highness Prince Henry was hunting with the King when the accident took place, and as poor Robert Shorthose was away fighting the Turks, Prince Henry slipped into his brother's shoes, and ruled over the land of England.

Talking about shoes, a dreadful religious disturbance occurred in England à propos de bottes. It was the fashion to wear these with

immense long toes; and the priests, who could pardon all sorts of crimes, wouldn't pardon the long-toed boots. You laugh? It is a fact, upon my word; and what is more, these popes and priests, who could set up kings and pull them down, and send off millions of people to fight in crusades, never were strong enough to overcome the long-toed boots. The FASHION was stronger than the Pope; and long toes continued to flourish in spite of his curses, and never yielded a single inch until—until SQUARE-TOES came in.




E have still a little more to hear of honest Robert Shorthose. With his usual luck, the poor fellow came posting back from Jerusalem, a month after his brother Henry had taken possession of the English crown; and though at first he made a great noise, and got an army together, with which, as he was a

valiant captain, he might have done his brother some hurt, yet the latter purchased him off with some money, of which Shorthose was always in want, and the two came to a compromise, it being agreed that Robert should keep Normandy, and Henry England, and that the survivor should have both.

So Shorthose went home with the money his brother gave him, and lived and made merry as long as it lasted; and the historians say that he was such a spendthrift of a fellow, and kept such a Castle Rackrent of a house, that he was compelled to lie in bed several days for want of a pair of breeches.

[Much laughter at the imperturbed way in which Miss TICKLETOBY pronounced the fatal word "breeches." But Henry, for all the agreement, would not let his brother keep possession of that fine Dukedom of Normandy. He picked continual quarrels with him, and ended by taking possession of the Duchy, and of Shortlegs, in spite of his bravery, whom he shut up in a castle, where he lived for near five-and-twenty years after. His fate inspires one with some regret, for he was a frank open fellow, and had once, in a siege, saved from starvation this very brother who robbed him; but he was a fool, and did not know how to keep what he had, and Henry was wise; so it was better for all parties that poor Shortlegs should go to the wall. Peace be with him! We shall hear no more of him; but it is something in the midst of all these lying, swindling tyrants and knaves, to find a man who, dissolute and brutal as he was, was yet an honest fellow.

King Henry, the first of his name, was, from his scholarship (which, I take it, was no great things; and am sure that many a young lady in this seminary knows more than ever he did), surnamed Beauclerc-a sharp, shifty fellow, steering clear amidst all the glooms and troubles of his times, and somehow always arriving at his end. He was admired by all Europe for his wisdom. He had two fair kingdoms which had once been riotous and disorderly, but which he made quiet and profitable; and that there might be no doubts about the succession to the throne, he caused his son, Prince William, to be crowned co-king with him, and thus put the matter beyond a doubt.

There was, however, one obstacle, and this was the death of Prince William. He was drowned, and his father never smiled after. And after all his fighting and shuffling, and swindling and cleverness and care, he had to die and leave his throne to be fought for between his daughter, and his nephew, one Stephen; of the particulars of whose reign it need only be said, that they fought for the crown, like the Devil and the baker, and sometimes one had

it and sometimes the other. At last Stephen died, and Maude's son, Henry II., came to reign over us in the year 1154.

He was a great prince, wise, brave, and tender-hearted; and he would have done much for his country, too, which was attached to him, if the clergy and the ladies had left him a moment's peace.

For a delicate female [a blush covered Miss T.'s countenance with roses as she spoke]—the subject which I am now called upon to treat is—ahem!—somewhat dangerous. The fact is, the King had married in very early life a lady possessing a vast deal of money, but an indifferent reputation, and who, having been wicked when young, became very jealous being old, as I am given to understand is not unfrequently the case with my interesting sex.

Queen Eleanor bore four sons to her husband, who was dotingly fond of them all, and did not, I have reason to suppose, bestow upon them that correction-[a great sensation in the school]— which is necessary for all young people, to prevent their becoming self-willed and licentious in manhood. Such, I am sorry to say, were all the young Princes. The elder, whom, to prevent mistakes, his father had crowned during his lifetime, no sooner was crowned, than he modestly proposed to his father to give up his kingdom to him, and when he refused, rebelled, and fled to the King of France for protection. All his brothers rebelled, too;there was no end to the trouble and perplexity which the unhappy King had to suffer.


I have said that the Queen was jealous, and, oh! I am ashamed to confess, when speaking of his late Sacred Majesty, a King of England, that the Queen, in this instance, had good cause. worthless, wicked, naughty, abandoned, profligate, vile, improper, good-for-nothing creature, whom historians, forsooth, have handed down to us under the name of Fair Rosamund (Fair Rosamund, indeed! a pretty pass things are come to, when hussies like this are to be bepraised and bepitied!)-I say, a most wicked, horrid, and abandoned person, by name Miss Rosamund Clifford, had weaned the King's affections from his lady, Queen Eleanor.

Suppose she was old and contumacious: * do not people marry "for better, for worse"? Suppose she had a bad temper, and a worse character, when the King married her Majesty did not he know what sort of a wife he was taking?—A pretty pass would the world come to, if men were allowed to give up their wives

* We grieve to remark that Miss Tickletoby, with a violence of language that is not uncommon amongst the pure and aged of her sex, loses no opportunity of twitting Queen Eleanor, and abusing Fair Rosamund. Surely that unhappy woman's fate ought to disarm some of the wrath of the virgin Tickletoby.

« ZurückWeiter »