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I hate the sea with land on our lea,
A merrier life for me !
No rock lurks here, no shoal is found
In all this ocean wide !
But yet if there's one that is born to be drown'd-
There's depth enough in this tide.-
I hate the sea with land on our lea,
A merrier life for me.-
Prince. Ill omen'd croaker, with your rock and shoal,
You've cast a shadow o'er my sister's face
That drowns the flush that wine and joy had given.
Countess. I think 'twere better to embark.-
You heed not what an idle minstrel sings.
tess. No, William ; I should fear
he were pilot;
His hand would scarcely guide the helra so surely
As now it guides the tune along the chords
Prince (looking to the harbour.) Hark! mirth on board—'Tis right;
'twere pity, sister,
If happiness were a lubber all his days,
And never went to sea.
I wish, dear brother,
They made not happiness so dolphin-like,
With so much of the fish in't; it may visit
Its native element. Let's stay the right :
To morrow we shall sail, and if the wind
Blow not the harder, we shall catch the king
A sleeping in the calm.
No! we'll aboard :
And pass the silken sails where dallying winds
Do make their cradle not their working ground;
And scarce the lazy helmsman shall have time
To say an ave 'gainst a witch's presence
Ere the White Ship, with sixty silver oars,
Faint from his vision like a spectral shape ;
And we shall touch the shores of England first,
Tho' Henry gained the start by six good hours.
You fear not, sister ? See how calm the waves !
Lying in lazy folds like the huge snake
when gorged, coil up its glossy length And sleep so calmly.
Countess. (alarmed.) Dreaming of fresh food
And ready for the spring. Stay here the night-
You are too happy ; too o'erjoyed, my brother ;
So crowned with these deep vine leaves that their spirit
Has slipt within, and your poor soul lies sleeping
Half buried 'neath the clusters of Champagne !
Prince. Then cover it all over ! for no King
E’er rested 'neath so rich a canopy !
But here the Pilot comes. (Enter Pilot). What weather, master
Hope we to night ?
Pilot (flustered with wine.) I call it not weather at all-
'Tis but the corpse of weather, wanting breath,
As wanting breath man's but the corpse of man-
So as you said, sir—(takes a flagon from servitor and drinks.)
Prince! my service to ye-
Milksoppy weather-weather only fit
For painted boats; weather, where little maids
Some fifteen years or so, might stretch a helm
Of ostrich plume and steer a nautilus shell
As well as I could steer the good White ship.
Countess (more alarmed.) Have you been long a pilot ?
Never a time.
When I was anything else.
Countess. And know the sca?
Pilot. As if I had married her like the Doge of Venice ;
And rule her better ;—and care less for her frowns
Than e'er a husband in the realm of France-
[Music and dancing heard on board.
Prince. Away! the sound of merry feet on deck
Beats the pulsed air to music—Your fair hand ;-
Sister—your heart holds a divided blood
Drawn from two founts, one lingly, one a churl's-
Let the red half find mastery in the struggle,
And glow 'mid terror like a rose in snow-
Countess (with an effort.) The daughter of a King knows nought of terror: Come, brother; and the lightest step and voice Shall be your sister's. Prince. Way there ; sound the horn !
Horn is sounded. Exeunt towards the ship.
The Castle in Dover.—Henry.—Hubert of Chester.
Henry. So long detained, and not a wind in heaven
To stir the pear-tree blossom.
Heeds not of wind-Along the shores of France
His Highness, doubtless, draws a line of light
With his ships' gilded prow—and into nooks
And calm recesses where the rivers creep,
Between high flowery banks, his course is borne
Up to the inland levels,—there they'll land
And dance, or sitting round some babbling fountain
Listen to Eustace' songs.
'Twould please me better
If William cared to share our troubles more-
To taste his pleasures less. Once more, I pray you,
Go to the toppling cliff and watch their coming.
We sit in judgment here, and it werd uit
Our heir should help this arm now feeble grown,
To bear the upright sword.
Enter Arnulf of Lancaster. - Yvo his son, bound; guards, &c. -
Is there no hope ?
No throb of pity for a father's grief
Within that heart filled with a father's joys ?
Henry. Arnulf of Lancaster, if lowlier state
Were ours, we might have ears to hear the throb ;
But there's a tumult in the soul of kings
That drowns all voices save the trumpet tongue
Of justice ; we have doom'd your son to death.
Yvo. As Heaven bears witness 'twas no treasonous aid
I promised to your Norman rebels.
Rests with the Judges who with searching eyes
Viewed the whole cause; their voice pronounced you guilty.-
It fits not the King's office to withstand
The course of RIGHT, which as a mighty river,
Passing right onward from the throne of God,
Enriches every land through which it flows !
Woe be to him who checks that sacred stream,
Diverts it, -stains it—or to fraudulent use
Turns its clear waters. They have doom'd your
I meddle not. I stir not.
Oh my liege S
He is mine only son.
I say no word
Against the justice that has spoke the doom ;
You are a King. Ah sir, you are a father
Now greyed with age as I am ; we were young
Together, and our sons were friends and playmates ;-
If, as a King, your hand obdurate holds
The unbending scale, let Yvo owe his life
To mercy !—to the sweet companionship
'Tween him and princely William.
For short space
Let me at least have room for secret speech
Henry. But to shew you that his heart
Is fixed as mine in such a cause as this,
You shall survive his coming by an hour.
But build no hope of safety on delay-
If you were nearer to my blood than he is
And you, brave Arnulf, were you twice my brother,
Nothing should change his fate. He dies. Retire.
Arnulf. You shall not hear me claim your ruth again.
Come, son,-you've ever been my pride, my hope,
And now I see you dying pulse by pulse,
I would, sir king, I had known how hard your heart
Ere I had emptied these poor veins of blood
In Brenneville field—and you, my gallant Yvo,
You bled there too. I take you in my arms
Apd plant this woman's kiss upon your
Where late your dying mother's lips were placed ;
Then to my lonely home, and desolate hearth.
Compe Yvo-If the time should e'er arrive
That one soft word would save your William's life
I pray you think of this
[they are retiring. Henry.
I cannot bend-
Enter Hubert—hurriedly—a Mariner.
Hubert. Oh sir, prepare !-encase your soul in steel
For fierce and biting as a falchion's blade
The dreadful news I bring-
A prisoner ?
Hubert. Oh worse imprisoned in such binding chains
That nought shall loose them till the judgment day!
Henry. How? dead ?-
Even so—Here stands a man whose tongue
Shall frame the words mine has no power to utter
Henry. (to the Mariner.) Speak, and be bold; stand not in breathless
There is no greatness in a sonless King.
Mariner. 'Tis grief not fear. Last night the crescent moon
Looked down on a calm deep without a wave
Doubtful of which was heaven and which was sea :
On the smooth water glided the White Ship
With mirth and music filling all the air
My lord the Prince and Countess de la Perche-
Henry. My Marie too !-proceed-
-Headed the band
Of Knights and noble ladies in the dance;
Goblets went round, and from the fiery lip
Of passion gush'd, at times, the stream of song.
Scated in groups, hiding them from the moon
Behind the shadowing mast, the brave and fair
Looked o'er the side and counted as they dript
The pearls that sparkled from the chiming oars,
Or talked of home, and pressed each other's hands.
Sudden a shock startled that happy dream!
The blinded Helmsman reeling from his cup,
Looked round in vain. Another shock! Ah me!
And the white ship groan'd like a living thing
As the black waters rushed within her planks,
And mingled with the screams and shouts and fears
That filled all hearts and ears. But soon a boat
Was hauled to th' side ;—within it stept the Prince,
And ere the rest could follow, the brave crew
Which manned it, pushed away ;-a look he cast
On the now reeling ship, and at the side
-Her clasp'd hands raised within the calm moon light,
And nothing saying, ---the young Countess stood :
“ Back! back again !” we heard Prince William say
“My sister must be saved or I will die.”
Henry. Thank God for that!
And back he forced the boat,--
But when within the spring of desperate men,
'The small boat came, leaping as if from death,
But findiug death more surely by their leap,
Knight, noble, seaman-aye, the timorous maid
Rushed struggling from the wreck ; and with a plunge
Down went the tiny bark, and the white sea
Was streaked by pallid faces, uttering cries
That ne'er shall leave these ears ; and 'mong them all
Clasping his sister, with a look to Heaven,
Henry. This you saw ?
I did, my liege ;
And grasp'd the loosen'd cordage of the ship
That still lay quivering on the fatal rock,
And gained the mast. There all the night I stood
Alone amid that desert of blank sea,
Till the cold sun arose ; and nothing moved
Moveless and silent all; distant or near
No sound,—but ever the unruffled tide
Lay ’neath the heaven a sheet of steel or glass.
Henry. Stay here and be my friend. You tell the tale
Manly, as to a man. Hubert, these lips
Have smiled their last ; the salt sea holds my joy.
Arnulf (coming forward). Better the salt sea than the crimson grave
That your remorseless hand has dug for me.
I bade you think, when came death's bitterness,
On me and mine.
Arnulf, the stroke of grief
That bruised my heart has broke the sceptre too.
Come hither, Yvo. He has press'd this hand
And looked upon that face; you never more
Shall feel his grasp nor stand within his eye;
But you shall live. Embrace your father, Yvo,
And be, a month, the comrade of his joy ;
Then come to me, and there shall be between us
A bond that nothing on this earth shall sever.
54.-OPPRESSIONS OF THE PEOPLE.
From the Pictorial History of England.' Both the Conqueror and his son Henry have the character of having been strict administrators of the laws, and rigorously exact and severe in the punishment of offences against the public peace. The Saxon Chronicler says that, in the time of the former, a girl loaded with gold might have passed safely through all parts of the kingdom. In like manner the same authority tells us, that, under the government of Henry, “whoso bore his burden of gold and silver, durst no man say to him nought but good.” The maintenance of so effective a system of police must, no doubt, have made a great difference between these reigns and those of Rufus and Stephen—in both of which robbery ranged the kingdom almost without restraint, and, in the latter especially, the whole land was almost given up as a prey to anarchy and the power of the strongest. But still even this supremacy of the law was in many respects an oppressive bondage to the subject. In this, as in everything else, the main object of the government was the protection and augmentation of the royal revenue ; and it may be correctly enough affirmed, that private robbery and depredation were prohibited and punished chiefly on the principle that no inter