Imágenes de páginas

rifling the ocean: ftimulated by avarice, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor: unfatiated by the Eaft and by the Weft: the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage, to flaughter, to ufurp under false titles, they call empire; and when they make a defert, they call it peace.

OUR children and relations are, by the appointment of Nature, rendered the dearest of all things to us. These are torn away by levies to foreign fervitude. Our wives and fifters, though they fhould efcape the violation of hostile force, are polluted under the names of friendship and hospitality. Oureflates and poffeffions are confumed in tributes ; our grain in contributions. Even the powers of our bodies are worn down amidst stripes and infults, in clearing woods and draining marthes. Wretches born to flavery are first bought, and afterwards fed by their mafters: Britain continually buys, continually feeds her own fervitude. And as among domeftic flaves every new comer ferves for the fcorn and derifion of his fellows; fo, in this ancient houfehold of the world, we, as the last and vileft, are, fought out for destruction. For we have neither cultivated lands, nor mines, nor harbours, which can induce them to preserve us for our labours; and our valour and unfubmitting fpirit will only render us more obnoxious to our imperious mafters; while the very remoteness and fecrecy of our fituation, in proportion as it conduces to fecurity, will tend to inspire fufpicion. Since then all hopes of forgivenefs are vain, let thofe at length affume courage, to whom glory, to whom fafety is dear. The Brigantines, even under a female leader, had force enough to burn the enemy's fettlements. to storm their camps; and, if success had not introduced negligence and inactivity, would have been able entirely to throw off the yoke: And fhall not we, untouched, unfubdued, and truggling not for the acquifition, but the continuance of

[blocks in formation]

liberty, declare at the very first onfet what kind of men Caledonia has referved for her defence?

CAN you imagine that the Romans are as brave in war as they are infolent in peace? Acquiring renown from our difcords and diffenfions, they convert the errours of their enemies to the glory of their own army; an army compounded of the most different nations, which, as fuccefs alone has kept together, misfortune will certainly diffipate. Unless, indeed, you can fuppofe that Gauls, and Germans, and (I blush to fay it) even Britons, lavishing their blood for a foreign ftate, to which they have been longer foes than fubjects, will be retained by loyalty and affection! Terrour and dread alone, weak bonds of attachment, are the ties by which they are restrained; and when thefe are once broken, those who cease to fear will begin to hate. Every incitement to victory is on our fide. The Romans have no wives to animate them; no parents to upbraid their flight. Moft of them have either no habitation, or a diftant one. Few in number, ignorant of the country, looking around in filent horrour at the woods, feas, and a haven itfelf unknown to them, they are delivered by the gods, as it were, imprisoned and bound, into our hands. Be not terrified with an idle fhow, and the glitter of filver and gold, which can neither protect nor wound. In the very ranks of the enemy we shall find our own bands. The Britons will acknowledge their own caufe. The Gauls will recollect their former liberty. The Germans will defert them, as the Ufiii have lately done. Nor is there any thing formidable behind them: Ungarrifoned forts; colonies of invalides; municipal towns diftempered and distracted between unjust masters and ill-obeying fubjects. Here is your general; here your army. There, tributes, mines, and all the train of fervile punishments; which whether to bear eternally, or instantly to revenge, this field must determine. March then to battle, and think of your ances tors and your poderity.

[ocr errors]



Propofing an Accommodation


IN the midst of a wide and open plain, Henry found Stephen encamped, and pitched his own tents within a quarter of a mile of him, preparing for battle with all the eagerness, that the defire of empire and glory could excite in a brave and youthful heart, elate with fuccefs. Stephen alfo much wished to bring the contest between them to a speedy decifion: but while he and Euftace were confulting with William of Ipres, in whose affection they maft confided, and by whose private advice they took all their measures, the Earl of Arunel, having affembed the English nobility, and principal officers, spoke to this effea:

Ir is now above fixteen years, that, on a doubtful and difputed claim to the crown, the rage of civil war has almoft continually infefted this kingdom. During this melancholy period how much blood has been shed! What devastations and mifery have been brought on the people! The laws have loft their force, the crown its authority; licentioufnefs and impunity have fhaken all the four dations of public fecurity. This great and noble nation has been delivered a prey to the bafeit of foreigners, the abominable fcum of Flanders, Brabant, and Bretagne, robbers rather than foldiers, reftrained by no laws, divine or human, tied to no country, fubject to no prince, inftruments of ail tyranny, violence, and oppreffion. At the fame time, our cruel neighbours, the Welsh and the Scotch, calling themfelves allies or auxiliaries: to the Empress, but in reality enemies and destroyers of Eng land, have broken their bounds, ravaged our borders, and taken from us whole provinces, which we never can hope to Recover; while, inftead of employing our united force against



them, we continue thus madly, without any care of our public fafety or national honour, to turn our fwords againft our own bofoms. What benefits have we gained, to compen. fate all thefe loffes, or what do we expect? When Matilda was mistress of the kingdom, though her power was not yet confirmed, in what manner did the govern? Did the not make even thofe of her own faction and court regret the king? Was not her pride more intolerable ftill than his levity, her rapine than his profuseness? Were any years of his reign fo grievous to the people, fo offenfive to the nobles, as the first days of hers? When she was driven out, did Stephen correct his former bad conduct ? Did he difmifs his odious foreign favourite? Did he discharge his lawless foreign hirelings, who had been fo long the fcourge and the reproach of England? Have they not lived ever fince upon free quarter, by plundering our houses and burning our cities? And now, to complete our miferies, a new army of foreigners, Angevins, Gafcons, Poitevins, I know not who, are come over with Henry Plantagenet, the fon of Matilda; and many more, no doubt, will be called to affift him as foon as ever his affairs abroad will permit; by whose help, if he be victorious, England muft pay the price of their fervices our lands, our honours, must be the hire of thefe rapacious invaders. But fuppofe we Thould have the fortune to conquer for Stephen, what will be the confe quence? Will. victory teach him moderation? Will he learn from fecurity that regard to our liberties, which he could not learn from danger? Alas! the only fruit of our good fuccefs will be this; the eftates of the Earl of Lei. cefter, and others of our countrymen, who have now quitted the party of the king, will be forfeited; and new confifcations will accrue to William of Ipres.

BUT let us not hope, that be our victory ever fo complete, it will give any lafting peace to this kingdom. Should Henry fall in this battle, there are two other brothers to


fucceed to his claim, and fupport his faction, perhaps with lefs merit, but certainly with as much ambition as he. What hall we do then to free ourselves from all these misfortunes? -Let us prefer the intereft of our country to that of our party, and to all thofe paffions, which are apt, in civil diffenfions, to inflame zeal into madness, and render men the blind inftruments of thofe very evils, which they fight to avoid. Let us prevent all the crimes and all the horrours that attend a war of this kind, in which conqueft itself is full of calamity, and our most happy victories deferve to be celebrated only by tears. Nature herfelf is difmayed, and fhrinks back from a combat, where every blow that we strike may murder a friend, a relation, a parent. Let us hearken to her voice, which commands us to refrain from that guilt. Is there one of us here, who would not think it a happy and glorious act, to fave the life of one of his countrymen ? What a felicity then, and what a glory, must it be to us all, if we fave the lives of thousands of Englishmen, that muft otherwife fall in this battle, and in many other battles, which, hereafter, may be fought on this quarrel! It is in our power to do fo-it is in our power to end the controverfy, both fafely and honourably; by an amicable agreement, not by the fword. Stephen may enjoy the royal dignity for his life, and the fucceffion may be fecured to the young Duke of Normandy, with fuch a prefent rank in the ftate as befits the heir of the crown. Even the bitterest enemies of the king muft acknowledge that he is valiant, generous, and good natured; his warmeft friends cannot deny that he has a great deal of rashness and indiscretion. Both may therefore 44 conclude, that he should not be deprived of the royal authority, but that he ought to be reftrained from a further abuse of it; which can be done by no means fo certain and effectual as what I propofe: for thus his power will be tempered by the prefence, the counfels, and influence of prince Henry; who from his own intereft in the weal of the kingdom which

H 6

« AnteriorContinuar »