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All join in hate to me. The very maids
Say they falsely
William. There is a bitter taunting in your words,-
Wolfstan. What ! you'd have soothing words to clear your path
William. I have enriched our holy mother church, With wealth so vast that gold fills every shrine.
Wolfstan. Blasphemous gold, that fills the shrine with curses.
William. There's not a plain in all our English realm
They'll spurn the wealth
A film is on my eye,
Where a red flame rose up to heaveu
William. I would that Forest ne'er had stretched its bounds, Nor trenched upon the homes of living men.
Wolfstan. Have you forgot that pleasant eve in June,
William. There were so many—and I fired them all.
Wolfstan. But this the blackest of your deeds of shame.
By pityless stabs in that old grandsire's breast.
William. Pardon-oh! pardon-let me die in silence.
Wolfstan. No—the last sound that fills your failing car
lone cell l've thought upon that oath,
Have mercy, father!
Let that peace
I clutch my fingers thus,
William. Is there no hope ? give but one little sign,
Burial Ground at Caen. A Coffin lying beside an open Grave.
Enter Friar Eustace and four l'easants. Friar. Death sheds ro holiness around this man,
Toil-wearied boors who met us on the way
Father, we hope
I fear to touch them,
Friar. He was the mightiest Conqueror earth e'er saw, And ruled the greatest kingdoms of the world.
Peasant. Howbeit he was a murderer I've heard tell
Friar. The Holy Abbot promised to be here
Woe! woe to all! forbear !
Look where curls the smoke
[An alurum bell is rung.
May I lift the lid
No-back a space,
Abbot. Quick ! brother Eustace, into sacred earth
Asselyn. Stop! I command you. Here I plant my foot
It held my fathers' graves ; but swollen in pride,
Abbot. This is no time for bargain and for sale,
Asselyn. 'Tis but these narrow feet of burial soil
[They put the coffin hurriedly into the grave and disperse.
42.-CHARACTER OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.
From the Penny Cyclopædia.' The character of the Conqueror has been graphically sketched by the Saxon chronicler from personal knowledge For we looked on him,' says the writer,
and some while lived in his herd (on his hirede).' The feature that had chiefly impressed itself upon this close observer was what he calls his starkness, by which he seems to mean his unbending strength of will and firmness or tenacity of purpose. Thrce times in the course of his description he remarks this. But while he was stark beyond all measure, and very savage to those who withstood him, the honest chronicler states, on the other hand, that he was mild to good men who loved God, and that he was a very wise man, as well as very rich, and more worthful and strong than any of his ancestors. William indeed was far from being all devil, any more than his father (Robert le Diable), whom he seems to have a good deal resembled, and who was complimented by his contemporaries with the epithet of the Magnificent, as well as with the other expressive surname by which he is commonly remembered. With all his ferocity, William ovinced throughout his life a reverence both for the ordinances and the ministers of religion ; and, although he would not suffer either his clergy or the pope to erect within his kingdom an ecclesiastical dominion separate from and independent of that of the crown, he showed himself anxious on all occasions to maintain the respectability of the church by promoting able men to the chief places in it, as well as by upholding it in its legal rights and powers. That he was eminently endowed with the qualities, both moral and intellectual, that raise men above their fellows, is abundantly proved by what he did. Few men have projected the influence of their genius across s0 wide an expanse both of time and space as the founder of the Norman dynasty in England. In moral disposition William was passionate and ruthless ; but he does not appear to have been vindictive, nor even, properly speaking, cruel or bloodthirsty, notwithstanding the destructive character of some of his military operations. There was nothing weak, nothing little about this great king. In his latter
days, the chronicler intimates, he fell into the vices of avarice and greediness ; but this love of money was only one of the forms assumed by his love of power, the natural passion of all superior minds. So one of the forms in which the energy and ardour of his character were displayed was his passion for the chace. “So much he loved the high-deer (hea deor), naively writes the Saxon annalist, as if he had been their father. It is plain indeed that the deer and other ferae naturae . had quite as much of his affection as his children, and somewhat more than his subjects. “He made laws,' says the chronicler, 'that whosoever should slay hart or hind, him man should blind. As he forbade the slaying of harts, so also did he of boars. He also decreed about hares, that they should go free.'
The principal portion of the laws of the Conqueror that has come down to us consists of a capitulary which is said to have been drawn up and agreed upon in an assembly of the principal persons of the realm whom he called together about the year 1070. It is for the most part a selection of the laws previously in force in the Saxon times, according to their last general revision by Canute the Great. It exists both in Latin and in Romance, or old French ; and the Latin version, which
; is preserved in the history attributed to Ingulphus, has usually been reckoned the original ; but Sir Francis Palgrave, who has printed both versions from better manuscripts than had been before employed, in his 'Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth, Proofs and Illustrations, lxxxviii.-civ., has advanced some reasons for believing that these laws of the Conqueror were most probably originally written in Latin, which was the language in which legal documents were commonly drawn up in England for some ages after this date. The common statement that William attempted to abolish the English tongue and to substitute the French, whether in the courts of law or in the ordinary intercourse of life, rests upon no good authority, and is irreconcilable with well-ascertained facts.
The wife of William the Conqueror was Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V., Earl of Flanders, surnamed the Gentle He married her before he acquired the crown of England, and she died 2nd November, 1083. Their children were, Robert, whom his father called Gambaron (Roundlegs) and Courthose (Shorthose), who died a prisoner in the castle of Cardiff in 1134 ; Richard, who was gored to death by a stag in the New Forest; William, by whom he was succeeded on the English throne ; Henry, who succeeded William ; Cecilia, who became abbess of the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Caen, and died there 13th July, 1126 ; Constance, who was married to Alan, Earl of Bretagne and Richmond, but died without issue; Adeliza, who died young before the Conquest; Adela, who married Stephen, Earl of Plois, by whom she became the mother of Stephen, king of England, and who afterwards took the veil, and died in the nunnery of Mareigny in France about 1137 ; Gundred, who married William de Warrenne, Earl of Surrey, and died in childbed at Castleacre in Norfolk, 27th May, 1085; and Agatha, who was contracted to Alphonso, king of Leon and Castile, but died before her marriage. He had also a natural son, William de Peveril, by Maud, daughter of Ingelric, a Saxon nobleman, who afterwards married Ranulph de Peveril.
William Rufus, on his road to England, had been apprised of his father's death, at the port of Wissant, near Calais. He hastened to Winchester, where the royal treasure was deposited, and gaining over William de Pont-de-l'Arche, the keeper of the treasury, by his promises, he got possession of the bags. He had it carefully