« AnteriorContinuar »
“Ilet your words be made good, my lord king," said de Montfort; “keep your covenant with me, and replace those expenses I have *borne for you to the notorious beggary of my own earldom.” The 'king, seeing his brother Richard pass over in the council to de Montfort's side; seeing Gloucester, Hereford, and the greatest nobles prepared to champion him ; broke into violent passion, and let fall the ‘epithet of “false traitor.'. Upon this, it is said, the impetuous earl threw the lie in Henry's teeth. “You are a king,' he added, “Who believes that you are a Christian? Of what use, indeed, “would be Christian confession to you, without repentance and ‘ atonement 2. But were you not a king, you should atone and “repent that insult to my name.’ ‘I shall never repent of any“thing so much,' retorted Henry, “as that I allowed you to grow ‘and fatten within my dominions.’ And so the council broke up, and this strange scene ended. De Montfort returned to Guienne, and opposed Prince Edward's government; but was again in England, when the dark necessity of a parliament presented itself to Henry again. I do not advert to those incidents which have chiefly occupied the histories of this reign, but which seem of trifling import to what has been dwelt on here. The miserable wars in France and Gascony, the disputes and bickerings with Scotland and with Wales, the negotiations for the crown of Sicily (accepted by Henry for his younger son Edmund, after Richard had refused it to become king of the Romans); these things have no veritable interest or conceivable importance for us. But many causes arising out of them, increased the troubles of the king; and it was with despondent humility and submission he met de Montfort and the parliament on the 3rd of May 1253. At the suggestion of their great leader, the barons had resolved to surround this new pledge and promise of the king with such circumstance of solemnity and dread, as would give a new and more striking character to its certain subsequent violation. In the great hall of Westminster, the prelates assembled with the barons and the king. The Great Charters were unrolled and read; and the awful curse was pronounced by the archbishop, which “excommunicated, “anathematised, and cut off from the threshold of holy church, all “who should by art or device, in any manner, secretly or openly, ‘violate, diminish, or change, by word or writing, by deed or • advice, either the liberties of the church, or the liberties and “free customs contained in the go Charter or the Charter of N
‘Forests." Rymer, in describing this scene, adds that the original charter of King John was afterwards produced, and that in testimony to posterity of this dread confirmation of it, the king, the prelates, and the barons impressed their seals. It is certain that while the sentence was read by the archbishop, the king held his hand upon his heart in token of earnest assent; and that when at the close the prelates and abbots, dashing their lighted tapers on the ground, exclaimed, as the flames went out in smoke and ashes, “So may the soul of every one who incurs this sentence “stink and be extinguished in hell!” the king made answer aloud: “So help me, God, as I shall observe and keep all these things! ‘as I am a Christian man; as I am a knight; as I am a king, ‘anointed and crowned' It would seem incredible that one short year should have witnessed the outrage of these sacred oaths, but that it rests on authority which cannot be disputed. Soon after the ceremony, with the money obtained by consenting to it, the king went over into Gascony, recovered those parts of the province that had fallen into the hands of the Spaniards, and concluded a treaty of peace with the king of Castile. Keeping the treaty secret, however, he sent over into England for new subsidies, as though continued necessities of the war demanded them. At the same time he petitioned the clergy for an aid, on pretence of a new crusade. The Queen, associated with his brother Richard, was Regent in his absence; and a letter written to her husband now exists in the Tower, containin singular confirmation of the course of events above detailed, of the jealous watchfulness abroad in every class, and of the rapid advance of the crisis which de Montfort was to turn to that memorable use of which we feel the blessings to this hour. It is plain from this letter that the king's word was believed by none. It is plain that the subsidies would not be given. It has not been concealed from the greatest ones of the court that the renewed violation of the Great Charter will exact retribution and punishment. Thus runs the most remarkable passage of this epistle of Eleanor to Henry, as published from the original Latin manuscript now lying in the Tower : ‘The archbishops and bishops answered us that if the King of ‘Castile should come against you in Gascony each of them would ‘assist you from his own property, so that you would be under ‘perpetual obligations to them ; but with regard to granting you “an aid from their clergy, they could do nothing without the assent “of the said clergy; nor do they believe that the clergy can be “induced to give you any help, unless the tenth of clerical goods “granted to you for the first year of the crusade, which should “begin in the present year, might be relaxed at once by your “letters patent, and the collection of the said tenth for the “...said crusade, for the two following years, might be put in “respite up to the term of two years before your passage to the “Holy Land; and they will give diligence and treat with the ‘clergy submitted to them, to induce them to assist you according ‘to that form with a tenth of their benefices, in case the King of ‘Castile should attack you in Gascony; but at the departure of “the bearer of these presents no subsidy had as yet been granted ‘by the aforesaid clergy. Moreover, as we have elsewhere signi“fied to you, if the King of Castile should come against you in ‘Gascony, all the earls and barons of your kingdom, who are able ‘to cross the sea, will come to you in Gascony, with all their ‘power; but from the other laymen who do not sail over to you “we do not think that we can obtain any help for your use, unless “you write to your lieutenants in England firmly to maintain “your great charters of liberties, and to let this be distinctly per“ceived by your letters to each sheriff of your kingdom, and ‘publicly proclaimed through each county of the said kingdom; “since, by this means, they would be more strongly animated ‘cheerfully to grant you aid; for many persons complain that the “aforesaid charters are not kept by your sheriffs and other “bailiffs as they ought to be kept. Yet it has been said, by learned and candid historians, that the praise of good intention and strict religious observance must not be denied to Henry the Third. It is a somewhat dangerous mode of defending such a character. A man can hardly be said to have religious impressions, who took every impression submitted to him and retained not one. His waxen heart, cor cereum, was the phrase applied to him in his own age. And when, some few years later, the poet Dante (how the great men cluster in these days of opening Freedom Roger Bacon was now amazing the monks in his Oxford cell) put him into purgatory, it was in the character of a simpleton. You find him there, among children; punished by, nothing heavier than darkness and solitude; as one who has been useless in life. Yet was this incapable and irresolute prince very far from useless. Under a man more resolute and capable, Freedom must have made less rapid strides. We are, in this as in all else,
taught to bow submissively to the Providential scheme, and wait with humbleness till the truth is entirely known. From this long, most miserable, most distracted reign, sprang that which in later, years took the awful and majestic shape of the constitutional liberties of England, The next parliament of Henry the Third was the MAD PARLIAMENT of Oxford. The chapter which illustrates it and closes the reign, will also illustrate the truth of Burke's noble image: “Always acting as if in the presence of canonised forefathers, the spirit of Freedom carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records, evidences, and titles.’
THE PRIvateER's MAN, ONE HUNDRED YEARs ago. By CAPTAIN MARRYAT, R.N. 2 volumes. Longman & Co.
The present novel is an attempt to simulate the adventures of a race of men whose daring in danger and thirst of plunder have been long upon record, in the unchristian system of warfare pursued by those countries that profess to be Christians. The form of the work is that of extracts from the log-book of his vessel, made to oblige a lady, who desired to know something of the privateer's man's career at sea. The narrative is not, it must be admitted, in the exact style of the supposed date when the occurrences it describes took place, the phraseolo being too modern for illusion; but this it would have been no easy o to rectify, and may be dispensed with by the majority of readers, in times when a just discrimination in literary matters is so rare. Not much resembling those other publications in the production of which Captain Marryat's pen has been fertile, there is here a saving object in a moral end, from the present work holding up to our abhorrence the detestable evil of war, under one of its most man-degrading aspects; and this is no slight praise, amply compensating for any little deficiency of merit in the composition of the story, or the delineation of the characters that are placed before us.
There is no greater want of deep o than we find in other novels; but there is more of adventure and less variety of character. The hero himself has indeed no great personal interest; he is the instrument of a moral end rather than the delineation of a character.
He commences his active life by an attack on the property of a West India planter, where he is driven back to his vessel, which is attacked in turn by an overwhelming force, and captured, after an action as gallant as the well-remembered contest between the Terrible and Vengeance privateers in one of our past wars. Adventure then treads upon the heel of adventure, until the hero imbibes a distaste for the unhallowed course of life he pursues. He turns trader, and goes through various adventures among Portuguese and Indians in South America. Dangers surround him here; he is sent to labour in the diamond mines, and of these a particular account is given, with the author's escape, and return home, where he marries. Innumerable pictures of a sea life and the situations into which those who embrace the profession are drawn, will be found in this work, sketched by the hand of a master. If the writer be not as happy in the present as in some of his former productions, there is still a good deal of very interesting narrative that will not fail to fix the reader's attention, and while affording him no slight amusement, unfold some of those evils or rather crimes, which the vicious rulers of nations sanction when they make war to gratify false pride or regal vengeance, under the pretence of supporting national honour, and of systematizing religious hypocrisy, from declaring at the same time their law of government to be the rule of faith, they condemn in their actions. The pictures of Indian life given in these adventures, appear to us more allied with the usages of the races north of the Isthmus of Darien than those to the southward; but we are perhaps hypercritical. The introduction of the Liverpool merchant and his daughter imparts something of a humanizing character to the work, and aid in the denouement—but it would require more than can be afforded here, to enter farther upon the merits and defects of a book which to our seeming must repose upon a sound practical moral for its highest recommendation.
The THREE STUDENTs of GRAY's INN. A Novel, in Three Volumes. By WILLIAM Hughes, Esq. T. C. Newby.
THE author of this novel claims the authorship of an article in “Blackwood's Magazine,” entitled, “It’s all for the Best;” and it is to be presumed, upon that ground pleads for the character of a novelist here. There is some difference, *... between the diffuse character of a novel like the present, and the condensation of a story comprised in a few pages that may really confer a merit upon the writer of one which does not attach to the other. There is in the present work a sufficiency of the materials usually worked up into the three orthodox volumes of which that species of composition is expected to consist. We have love, old-maidenship, roguish attorneys, peers, squires, admirals, colonels, a quack-doctor progeny, some distress, and a little —a very little sentiment. We have marvellous virtue in high places,