Sivut kuvina

secure the obedience of the vassal to the sovereign, has never failed in any instance of preserving a vanquished people in obedience to the conquerors.

The English lords built strong castles on their demesnes ; they put themselves at the head of the tribes, whose chiefs they had slain ; they assumed the Irish garb and manners; and thus partly by force, partly by policy, the first English families took a firm root in Ireland. It was indeed long before they were able entirely to subdue the island to the laws of England; but the continual efforts of the Irish, for more than four hundred years, proved insufficient to dislodge them.



[From "Henry II.' by Thomas Max.] [The following poem, by one of our early poets, is founded upon the most commonly received tradition. The real history of Rosamond de Clifford is very obscure: we extract the following brief account from the Pictorial History of England

“ The history of the 'Fair Rosamond,' has been enveloped in romantic traditions which have scarcely any foundation in truth, but which have taken so firm a hold on the popular mind, and have been identified with so much poetry, that it is peither an easy nor a pleasant task to dissipate the fanciful illusion, and unpeople the bower in the sylvan shades of Woodstock. Rosamond de Clifford was the daughter of a baron of Herefordshire, the beautiful site of whose antique castle, in the valley of the Wye, is pointed out to the traveller between the town of the Welsh Hay and the city of Hereford, at a point where the most romantic of rivers, after foaming through its rocky, narrow bed in Wales, sweeps freely and tranquilly through an open English valley of surpassing loveliness. Henry became enamoured of her in his youth, before he was a king, and the connexion continued for many years ; but long before his death, and even long before his quarrel with his wife and legitimate sons (with which it appears she had notbing to do), Rosamond retired to lead a religious and penitent life, into the little nunnery' of Godestow, in the 'rich meadows of Evenlod, near unto Oxford.”

“ As Henry still preserved gentle and generous feelings towards the object of his youthful and ardent passion, he made many donations to the little nunnery,' on her account; and when she died (some time at least, before the first rebellion) the nuns, in gratitude to one who had been both directly and indirectly their benefactress, buried her in their choir, hung a silken pall over her tomb, and kept tapers constantly burning around it. These few lines, we believe, comprise all that is really known of the fair Rosamond. The legend, so familiar to the childhood of all of us, was of later and gradual growth, not being the product of one imagination. The chronicler Brompton, who wrote in the time of Edward III., or more than a century and a half after the event, gave the first description we possess of the secret bower of Rosamond. He says, that in order that she might not be easily taken unawares by the queen' (ne forsan a regina facile deprehenderetur) Henry constructed, near Wodestocke,' a bower for this ‘most sightly maiden,' (puellæ spectatissimæ), of wonderful contrivance, and not unlike the Dædalean labyrinth ; but he speaks only of a device against surprise, and intimates in clear terms, that Rosamond died a natural death. The clue of silk, and the poison-bowl forced on her fair and gentle rival, by the jealous and revengeful Eleanor, were additions of a still more modern date."


Fair Rosamond within her bower of late,
(While these sad storms had shaken Henry's state

And he from England last had absent been)
Retir'd herself : nor had that star been seen
To shine abroad, or with her lustre grace
The woods, or walks adjoining to the place.

About those places, while the times were free,
Oft with a train of her attendants, she
For pleasure walk'd; and like the Huntress Queen,
With her light nymphs, was by the people seen.
Thither the country lads and swains, that near
To Woodstock dwelt, would come to gaze on her.
Their jolly May-games there would they present,
Their harmless sports and rustic merriment,
To give this beauteous paragon delight.
Nor that officious service would she slight !
But their rude pastimes gently entertain,
When oft some forward and ambitious swain,
That durst presume (unhappy lad !) to look
Too near that sparkling beauty, planet-struck
Return'd from thence, and his hard hap did wail.
What now (Alas !) can wake or fair avail
His love-sick mind ? no whitsun-ale can please,
No jingling morris-dancers give him ease ;
The pipe and tabor have no sound at all,
Nor to the may-pole can his measures call !
Although invited by the merriest lasses,
How little for those former joys he passes ?
But sits at home with folded arms; or goes
To carve on beeches' barks his piercing woes
And too ambitious love. Cupid, they say,
Had stol'n from Venus then : and lurking lay
About the fields and villages, that nigh
To Woodstock were, as once in Arcady
He did before, and taught the rural swains
Love's oratory, and persuasive strains.
But now fair Rosamond had from the sight
Of all withdrawn; as in a cloud, her light
Enveloped long, and she immured close
Within her bower, since these sad stirs arose,
For fear of cruel foes ; relying on
The strength and safeguard of the place alone :
If any place of strength enough could be
Against a queen's enraged jealousy.

Now came that fatal day, ordain'd to see
Th' eclipse of beauty, and for ever be
Accurst by woful lovers, all alone
Into her chamber, Rosamond was gone;
Where (as if fates into her soul had sent
A secret notice of their dire intent)
Afflicting thoughts possessed her as she sate
She sadly weigh'd her own unhappy state,
Her feared dangers, and how far (alas)
From her relief engaged Henry was.

But most of all, while pearly drops distain'd
Her rosy cheeks, she secretly complain'd,
And wail'd her honour's loss, wishing in vain
She could recal her virgin state again ;
When that unblemish'd form, so much admir'd,
Was by a thousand noble youths desir'd,
And might have mov'd a monarch's lawful flame.
Sometimes she thought how some more happy dame
By such a beauty, as was hers, had won,
From meanest birth, the honour of a throne ;
And what to some could highest glories gain,
To her had purchas'd nothing but a stain.
There, when she found her crime, she check'd again
That high aspiring thought, and 'gan complain,
How much (alas) the too too dazzling light
Of royal lustre had misled her sight;
0! then she wish'd her beauties ne'er had been
Renown'd! that she had ne'er at court been seen :
Nor too much pleas'd enamour'd Henry's eye.
While thus she sadly mus’d, a ruthful cry
Had pierc'd her tender ear, and in the sound
Was pam'd (she thought) unhappy Rosamond.
(The cry was utter'd by her grieved maid,
From whom that clue was taken, that betray'd
Her lady's life), and while she doubting fear'd,
Too soon the fatal certainty appear'd ;
For with her train the wrathful queen was there ;
Oh! who can tell what cold and killing fear
Through every part of Rosamond was shook ?
The rosy tincture her sweet cheeks forsook,
And like an ivory statue did she show
Of life and motion reft; had she been so
Transform'd indeed, how kind the fates had been,
How pitiful to her! nay, to the queen !
Even she herself did seem to entertain
Some ruth, but straight revenge return'd again,
And fill'd her furious breast. “Strumpet (quoth she)
I need not speak at all; my sight may be
Enough expression of my wrongs, and what
The consequence must prove of such a hate.
Here, take this poison'd cup (for in her hand
A poison'd cup she had), and do not stand
To parley now: but drink it presently,
Or else by tortures be resolv'd to die.
Thy doom is set.” Pale trembling Rosamond
Receives the cup, and kneeling on the ground,
When dull amazement somewhat had forsook
Her breast, thus humbly to the queen she spoke.

“I dare not hope you should so far relent,
Great queen, as to forgive the punishment
That to my foul offence is justly due.
Nor will I vainly plead excuse, to shew

By what strong arts I was at first betray'd,
Or tell how many subtle snares were laid
To catch mine honour. These, though ne'er so true,
Can bring no recompense at all to you,
Nor just excuse to my abhorred crime.
Instead of sudden death, I crave but time,
Which shall be styld no time of life but death,
In which I may with my condemned breath,
While grief and penance make me hourly die,
Pour out my prayers for your prosperity ;
Or take revenge on this offending face,
That did procure you wrorg, and my disgrace,
Make poisonous leprosies o'erspread my skin ;
And punish that, that made your Henry sin.
Better content will such a vengeance give
To you ; that he should loathe me whilst I live,
Than that he should extend (if thus I die)
His lasting pity to my memory,
And you be forc'd to see, when I am dead,
Those tears, perchance, which he for me will shed:
For though my worthless self deserve from him
No tears in death; yet when he weighs my crime,
Of which he knows how great a part was his,
And what I suffer as a sacrifice
For that offence, 't will grieve his soul to be
The cause of such a double tragedy."

“No more (reply'd the furious queen) ; have done ;
Delay no longer, lest thy chance be gone,
And that a sterner death for thee remain.”
No more did Rosamond entreat in vain ;
But forc'd by hard necessity to yield,
Drank of the fatal potion that she held.
And with it enter'd the grim tyrant death :
Yet gave such respite, that her dying breath
Might beg forgiveness from the heavenly throne,
And pardon those that her destruction
Had doubly wrought. “Forgive, oh Lord,” said she,
“ Him that dishonour'd, her that murder'd me.
Yet let me speak, for truth's sake, angry queen :

you had spar'd my life, I might have been
In time to come th' example of your glory ;
Not of your shame, as now ; for when the story
Of hapless Rosamond is read, the best
And holiest people, as they will detest
My crime, and call it foul, they will abhor,
And call unjust, the rage of Elianor,
And in this act of yours it will be thought
King Henry's sorrow, not his love you sought.”
And now so far the vepom's force assail'd
Her vital parts, that life with language fail'd.
That well-built palace where the Graces made
Their chief abode, where thousand Cupids play'd

And couch'd their shafts, whose structure did delight
Ev'n nature's self, is now demolish'd quite,
Ne'er to be rais'd again ; the untimely stroke
Of death, that precious cabinet has broke,
That Henry's pleased heart so long had held.
With sudden mourning now the house is fill'd;
Nor can the queen's attendants, though they fear
Her wrath, from weeping at that sight forbear,
By rough north blasts so blooming roses fade
So crushed falls the lily's tender blade.
Her hearse at Godstowe Abbey they inter,
Where sad and lasting monuments of her,
For many years did to the world remain.
Nought did the queen by this dire slaughter gain,
But more her lord's displeasure aggravate ;
And now when he return'd in prosperous state,
This act was cause, together with that crime,
Of raising his unnatural sons 'gainst him,
That she so long in prison was detain'd,
And whilst he lived, her freedom never gain'd.


G. L. CRAIK. From the · Pictorial History of England.' Among the things that most strike us on first looking at this period of our legai and judicial history are the substitution of general and central for local judicatures, and the appointment of judges regularly trained to a knowledge of the law, to preside in the several courts. Soon after the conquest great inconveniences appear to have been felt from the adminstration of justice in the county courts, hundred courts, and courts baron. These inconveniences arose from various causes, of which the principal, according to Sir Mathew Hale, were the three following :- 1st. The IGNORANCE of the judges, who were the freeholders of the county. “ For,” says Hale, “although the aldernian or chief constable of every hundred was always to be a man learned in the laws, and although not only the freeholders, but the bishops, barons and great men, were, by the laws of king Henry I., appointed to attend the county court, yet they seldom attended there, or, if they did, in process of time they neglected to study the English laws, as great men usually do.” 2ndly. The GREAT VARIETY of laws, the effect of several independent jurisdictions. Glanville says, “The customs of the lords' courts are so numerous and various that it is scarcely possible to reduce them into writing.” 3rdly. The corruption and intimidation practised ; for all the business of any moment was carried by parties and factions.

It is probable, however, that we are to seek for the main causes of the subversion of the ancient system in certain changes which the very principle of that system was itself producing, and which we shall now proceed to consider.

Of these changes the most important and fundamental was the establishment of the trial by jury. The essential principle of the original Saxon mode of trial was the submission of the matter in dispute, in some form or other, to what was heid to be the arbitration of Heaven. There was no interference of the human judgment,—no attempt to arrive at the truth by weighing and comparing the adverse probabilities ; the question was not held to be a question of probabilities at all ; it was conceived to be capable of a solution as certain as any question in arithmetio.

« EdellinenJatka »