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The Castle of CARLISLE was founded by William Rufus. He was the restorer of the city, after it had remained for two centuries in ruins through the Danish ravages. The Red King was a real benefactor to the people at this northern extremity of his kingdom. He first placed here a colony of Flemings, an industrious and skilful race, and then encouraged an immigration of husbandmen from the south, to instruct the poor and ignorant inhabitants in the arts of agriculture. We must not consider that these Norman kings were all tyrants.
The Castle of ALNWICK, the noble seat of the Percies, was a place of strength soon after the Norman Conquest. In the reign of Rufus it was besieged by Malcolm the Third, of Scotland, who here lost his life, as did his son Prince Edward. Before the Norman Conquest the castle and barony of Alnwick belonged to Gilbert Tyson, who was slain fighting against the invader, by the side of his Saxon king. The Conqueror gave the granddaughter of Gilbert in marriage to Ivo de Vescy, one of his Norman followers; and the Lords de Vescy enjoyed the fair possessions down to the time of Edward I. The Castle of BAMBOROUGH, in Northumberland, carries us back into a remoter antiquity. It was the palace, according to the moukish historians, of the kings of Northumberland, and built by king Ida, who began his reign about 559. Roger Hovenden, who wrote in 1192, describes it, under the name of Bebba, as a very strong city.” Rufus blockaded the castle in 1085, when it was in the possession of Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland. The keep of Bamborough is very similar in its appearance to the keeps of the Tower of London, of Rochester, and of Dover. It is built of remarkably small stones ; the walls are eleven feet thick on one side, and nine feet on three sides. This castle, situated upon an almost perpendicular rock, close to the sea, which rises about one hundred and fifty feet above low water mark, had originally no interid appliances of luxury or even of comfort. Grose says, “Here were no chimneys The only fire-place in it was a grate in the middle of a large room, supposed to have been the guard-room, where some stones in the middle of the floor are burned red. The floor was all of stone, supported by arches. This room had a window in it, near the top, three feet square, possibly intended to let out the smoke ; all the other rooms were lighted only by slits or chinks in the wall, six inches broad, except in the gables of the roof, each of which had a window one foot broad.” One of the most remarkable objects in this ancient castle is a draw-well, which was discovered about seventy years ago, upon cleaning out the sand and rubbish of a vaulted cellar or dungeon. It is a hundred and forty-five feet deep, and is cut through the solid basaltic rock into the sandstone below. When we look at the history of this castle, from the time when it was assaulted by Penda, the Pagan king of the Mercians, its plunder by the Danes, its siege by Rufus, its assault by the Yorkists in 1463, and so onward through seven centuries of civil strife, it is consoling to reflect upon the uses to which this stronghold is now applied. It was bought with the property attached to it by Nathaniel Lord Crewe, bishop of Durham, and bequeathed by him to charitable purposes in 1720. The old fortress has now been completely repaired. Its gloomy rooms, through whose loop-holes the sun could scarcely penetrate, have been converted into schools. Boys are here daily taught, and twenty poor girls are lodged, clothed, and educated till fit for service. The towers, whence the warder once looked out in constant watchfulness against an enemy's approach, are now changed into signal stations, to warn the sailor against that dangerous cluster of rocks called the Fern Islands; and signals are also arranged for announcing when a vessel is in distress to the fishermen of Holy Island. Life-boats are here kept, and shelter is offered for any reasonable period to such as may be shipwrecked on this dreary coast. The estates thus devoted to purposes of charity now yield a magnificent income of more than eight thousand a year. Not only are the poor taught, but the sick are relieved in this hospitable fortress. In the infirmary, to which part of the building is applied, the wants of a thousand persons are annually administered to. Much is still left out of these large funds; and the residue is devoted to the augmentation of small benefices, to the building and enlarging of churches, to the foundation and support of schools, and to exhibitions for young men going to the Universities. When William Rufus besieged this rock of Bamborough, Robert de Mowbray had a steward within the walls, who would have defended it to the death, had not the king brought out the earl his master, who was a prisoner, with a threat that his eyes should be put out unless the castle surrendered. This was a faithful steward. Lord Crewe had an equally faithful steward, after a different fashion, in Dr. Sharpe, Archdeacon of Northumberland, who devised the various means of best applying this noble bequest, and resided on this stormy rock to see that those means were properly administered,
45—THE DEATH OF THE RED KING.
THIERRY. The Saxons, persecuted for transgressions against the laws of the chase, even more vigorously by the Red King, than by his father, had no other means of revenge than by calling him, in derision the keeper of the woods and of the deer, and by spreading sinister reports about these forests, into which no man of the English race was allowed to enter, armed, under pain of death. They said that the devil, under all sorts of horrible forms, had there appeared to the Normans, and had tolu them of the dreadful fate that he had in reserve for the King and his councillors. This popular superstition was strengthened by the singular chance which rendered hunting in the forests of England, and above all in the New Forest, so fatal to the Conqueror's race. In the year 1081, Richard, the eldest son of William the bastard, had there mortally wounded himself; in the month of May of the year 1100, Richard, the son of Duke Robert, and nephew of the Red King, was killed there by an arrow imprudently drawn, and, by a most curious coincidence, the king perished there also, in the same manner, in the month of July of the same year.
On the morning of the last day of his life, he had a great feast with his friends in Winchester Castle, after which he prepared for the proposed chace. Whilst he was going on his horse and joking with his guests, a workman presented him with six new arrows ; he examined them, praised the workmanship, took four for himself, and gave the other two to Walter Tyrrel, saying, “Good marksmen should have good arms." Walter Tyrrel was a Frenchman, who had great possessions in the county of Poix and in Ponthieu ; he was the king's most familiar friend, and assiduous attendant. At the moment of starting, there entered a monk, from the convent of St. Peter at Gloucester, who brought William despatches from his abbot. This abbot, a Norman by birth, named Serlon, sent word to the king, in some anxiety, that one of his monks, (probably of the English race), had had in his sleep a vision of bad omen ; that he had seen Jesus Christ seated on a throne, and at his feet a woman supplicating him in these words ; “ Saviour of the human race, look down with pity on thy people groaning under the yoke of William.” On hearing this message the king laughed loudly : “Do they take me for an Englishman," he said, “ with their dreams? Do they fancy that I am one of those fools who abandon their course and their business because an old woman dreams or speczes ? Come, Walter de Poix, to horse !"
Henry, the king's brother, William de Breteuil, and several other nobles accompanied him to the forest; the hunters dispersed; but Walter Tyrrel remained
beside him, and their dogs hunted together. They had taken up their station,
On the first rumour of the king's death, all who attended the hunt left the forest in haste to see after their interest. His brother Henry made for Winchester and the royal treasure, and the corpse of Willian Rufus remained on the ground, abandoned like that of the Conqueror had been. Some charcoal-burners, who found it, pierced by the arrow, put it on their cart, wrapped in old linen, through which the blood dropped all along the road. Thus were the remains of the second Norman king conveyed to Winchester, where Henry had already arrived, and imperiously demanded the keys of the royal treasure. Whilst the keepers were hesitating, William de Breteuil arrived in breathless haste from the forest, to oppose this demand. “Thou and I,” he said to Henry, “ought loyally to keep the faith that We promised to thy brother, Duke Robert ; he has received our oath of homage ; and, absent or present, he has the right.” A violent quarrel ensued ; Henry drew his sword, and soon, with the help of the assembled crowd, took possession of the royal treasure and the regalia.
46.—THE NEW FOREST.
“Now fast beside the pathway stood
A melancholy place;
To lengthen out his chace.
She flicker'd with her wing ;
But croak'd upon the king." But Mr. Rose does not rest the machinery of his ballad upon tradition alone, or the assertions of prejudiced chroniclers. Adverting to the disbelief of Voltaire in the early history of the New Forest, he points out, in his notes to the poem, what Voltaire did not know, that 'Domesday-Book' establishes the fact that many thousand acres were afforested after the time of Edward the Confessor. The testimony which Mr. Rose himself supplied from his local knowledge is exceedingly curious. “ The idea that no vestiges of ancient buildings yet exist in the New Forest, is utterly unfounded, though the fact is certainly little known, and almost confined to the small circle of keepers and ancient inhabitants. In many spots, though no ruins are visible above ground, either the enceinte of erections is to be traced, by the elevation of the earth, or fragments of building-materials have been discovered on turning up the surface. The names also of those places would almost, if other evidence were wanting, substantiate the general fact, and even the nature of each individual edifice. . . . . The total rasure of buildings, and the scanty remains of materials under the surface, appear at first a singular circumstance. But it is to be observed, that the mansions, and even the churches of the Anglo-Saxons, were built of the slightest materials, frequently of wood ; and that of all countries a forest is the least favourable to the preservation of ruins. As they are the property of the crown, neither the pride nor interest of individuals is concerned in their preservation. . . . . This absence of remains of ruins above the surface need not, therefore, lead us to despair of further discoveries, and these are, perhaps, yet designated by the names of places. May we not consider the termination of hom and ton, yet annexed to some woodlands, as evidence of the former existence of hamlets and towns?” The historical truth, as it appears to us, may be collected from these interesting notices of Mr. Rose's local researches. The remains of buildings are few, and scattered over a considerable district. The names which still exist afford the best indication that the abodes of men were formerly more
The truth lies between the sceptism of Voltaire as to any depopulation having taken place, and the poetical exaggeration of Pope, in his Windsor Forest :'
“The fields are ravished from industrious swains,
From men their cities, and from gods their fanes :
The hollow winds through naked temples roar." The fact is, that from the very nature of the soil no large population could have heen here supported in the days of imperfect agriculture. The lower lands are for the most part marshy; the higher ridges are sterile sand. Gilpin has sensibly pointed this out in his book on 'Forest Scenery:'—“How could William have spread such depopulation in a country which, from the nature of it, must have been from the first very thinly inhabited ? The ancient Ytene was undoubtedly a woody tract long before the times of William. Voltaire's idea, therefore, of planting a forest is absurd, and is founded on a total ignorance of the country. He took his ideas merely from a French forest, which is artificially planted, and laid out in vistas and alleys. It is probable that William rather opened his chaces by cutting down wood, than that he had occasion to plant more. Besides, though the internal strata of the soil of New Forest are admirably adapted to produce timber, yet the surface of it is in general poor, and could never have admitted, even if the times had
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 one 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 churl was feared and oppressed. There is a lesson still to be taught by the condition 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 trade
Outstretch'd amid the gorse