Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

together, and in a so long continued possibility of excusing dishonour, and regaining liberty; to sit, as it were, snoaring in a captive and servile condition, and to be fed with the bread of captivity, were more proper to an Asiatick nation (those natis ad servitutem, as Tully calls them) than to one of Europe, and to any European, than a Teutonick, and indeed to tame creatures and cattle, than to those that profess them. selves free-born men.

But let us a little reflect upon the nature and quality of these conquerors, with their conquest over us, perhaps, they may be such, as, for their dignity, may say unto our nation, as that hero in the poet:

Solamen habeto
Mortis, ab Æmonio quod sis jugulatus Achille.

And their domination over us such, as against the right and equity whereof there is no pleading: But, alas ! what was that tenth worthy, whom we are not ashamed even still to sirname our conqueror, but a Norman bastard, as a Scottish writer well terms him, or, at best, a vassal-duke of a French province; and what his Argyraspides, bis gallant followers the Normans, but a people compacted of the Norwegians and Neustrians, that is, of the off-scowering and dro:s of the Teutonick and Gallick nations, whose ambitious leader, upon a pretence of a various title to this crown, intruding upon us in a time of disadvantage, and being thereupon put to try it out by the sword with his then usurping competitor, by subtlety, not valour, obtained the hand over him, and so, as legatee and kinsman of St. Edward, the last rightful English King, and, upon his specious and fair vows, and promises, to preserve inviolate our laws and liberties, was admitted to the throne? So that all the alteration and dishonour that followed was, by his villainous perjuriousness and treachery, introduced upon us, and that title of a conqueror was not at first, but by the flattery of succeeding times attributed to him, and hath been ever since, by our sordid treachery against our country, continued; whereas, had he assumed it at first (as was well observed by an illustrious personage of our neighbour-nation, the Scots, who are generally more sensible of our dishonour in this respect, than most of ourselves; perhaps, worthily mindful of the ancient extraction of the most and chief of their south-landers from the English blood; as he, I say, háth well observed in a late speech of his made to his majesty) he must either have come short of his ambitious ends, or have sought after a new people to have exercised bis title upon, so odious at that time was the title of a conquered nation to our ancestors.

But admit it were so, that he won this land by the sword, as he and his followers afterwards buasted, and that he obtained such a dismal victory over us, as the Norman writers predicate; whereas, notwithstanding, if we may believe Æmilius Veronensis, in his French history, a more impartial writer in this cause, there was no such matter; who, taxing those Norman writers of arrogance, reports that the truth of it was, that our English soldiers, whom Harold, the usurping king, brought into the field against the Normans, were no less displeased

with him, than with his adversaries; and that they only put themselves in a posture of defence, without caring to offend the enemy, and that, when, in the beginning of the battle, Harold chanced to be slain by an arrow, the controversy was presently ended, without more blood-shed, an agreement made, and the Norman admitted in respect of his claim, and upon his promises afore-mentioned; this he reports. But were it so, that our English nation was directly vanquished and conquered by the Normans, at the sound whereof every true Englishman's stomach may well rise, have not we more than once requited their nation in the like kind? how often have our armies vanquished and conquered, not only Normandy, but also France itself, whereof the other is but a vassalprovinces and why one victory of theirs over us should be of more moment and effect against us, than so many of ours against them? I see no other cause or reason, than injuriousness towards us, and retchlesness in us.

But were it so also, that the Norman race were as lawful lords, and domineered by the same right, of an absolute conquest over us, as the Turks do, at this day, over the Grecians, betwixt whose case and ours, religion excepted, there is a near affinity; will any reasonable man be so unjust, or any Englishman be so impious,' as to define it for unlaw. ful in us, to endeavour to recover our right, and lost honour and liberty? would any man be so absurd, as to stigmatize and detest it for rebellion in the Greeks, to shake off

, if they were able, the Turkish yoke, and to recover from that enenıy's usurpation their ancient honour, laws, liberty, and language, that now lie overwhelmed and buried in Turcism, as ours in Normanism? Surely, we ourselves should condemn them, if they would not endeavour it, while our own laws attribute not, to the wrongful disseizer, any such right to his forceably gotten possessions, but that he may, with more right, be redisseized by the first owner, or his heirs. And indeed, it were so far from injuriousness, both in the Greeks and us, to dispossess the usurpers, that, in the mean time, we are most injurious, 10 ourselves, our progenitors, and our posterity, while we so traiterously yield up, to those robbers, what our ancestors so dearly purchased, and preserved for us to enjoy, and afterwards to transmit, and leave to their and our name and blood, in all succeeding ages. But, in this, we are far more inexcusable than the Greeks, for that they never yet enjoyed the means of a deliverance, which we, either in a fair or forceable way, scarce ever wanted; and surely, if our right doth call, our honour doth cry out upon us, that, if our progenitors massacred the Danish garisons that usurped over them, we should not, like the Jews, ear-boared slaves, for ever serve the progeny of their subjects, the Norwegians; that we, who instead of being conquered with other nations, by Charlemain, have conquered even the French themselves, would not live captives to their vassals, the Normans; and that, since our ancestors never submitted their necks to the yoke of Rome, we should not suffer ours to be for ever wedded to one brought over from Neustria, the meanest shire of one of Rome's (anciently) captive provinces, unless, perhaps, it be more honourable for our country to be a Norman municipium, than a Roman province; to use the Norman laws, than the civil of the empire, and the Norman

GS

language, rather than the Latin; any of which notwithstanding, the Roman emperors, during their prevailing over some skirts of our ancient country of Germany, as Batavia, Rhætia, and the borders of the Rhine, never obtruded on our countrymen there, but desiring only, for their worth, their personal assistance in the wars, permitted them, and them only of all nations, the continuance of their own laws, language, and liberties in all things. But all these, we, their degenerate posterity, have, in a large degree, betrayed to the usurpation of a Norman colony

But if we think we have not yet received shame enough by this Norman conquest, in being thereby stripped and spoiled of all that stock of honour, which might have descended to us from our ancestors, and of all that our nation had to take pleasure in; we want not a further degree of the same shame to consider ourselves in, that is, as we are by this pretended conquest cast into such a predicament and condition, as makes us incapable of acquiring new honour ever after, so long as we remain therein; the evidence of this we may descry in our own laws, wherein we find, that such, as are in the nature of villains, are incapable of enjoying free-hold lands, but, though they purchase never so much, it belongs all to their lords. Should the Turks janisaries, under their master's conduct, conquer the whole world, yet could they not justly gain to themselves the name of men of honour, but only of stout and dutiful slaves; which is also illustrated by that apophthegm of Tully, who defining the way for one that would attain to highness, tunc, saith he, incipiat aliis imperare, cum suis iniquissimis dominis parere desierit ; let him first: unslave himself, before he talk of getting honour in inslaving others; and therefore, though both France and Spain should be by us never so often conquered, yet could our name thereby take no true lustre, till it be cleared of this fast-sticking blemish, and that we have unconquered ourselves; but as an ill-humoured, or deformed body, is not rectified by nourishment, but finds its pravity to increase and dilate with itself, so should onr name and fame, by our atchievements, be extended to the world's, both temporal and local, ends; yet thither also would our disgrace accompany it in equal characters, and proclaiming that we are a conquered, and still captive people, quash all honour, that otherwise might accrue or adhere to us.

I should be voluminous, should I fully describe how injurious and dishonourable it is to our nation for to continue under the title and effects of this pretended conquest, being such as we see and feel even the barbarous and contemptible Irish to be more than sensible and impatient of the like, while, with so much hazard of their lives and fortunes, and, against such formidable opposition, they endeavour the excussion thereof. But I am far enough from exhorting to an imitation of their violent and horrid practice, we feel too much thereof among us, although for lighter ends; neither, I hope, is any such way needful, since we all, from the greatest to the least, profess ourselves Eng. lish, and would seem to aim at the honour of the English name, his majesty, for his part, having, by many passages, shewed himself the most indulgent patron thereof, and our nobility and commons on both sides contending, or, at least, pretending, for no other ; none, I hope,

amongst us dissenting, that, if any should oppugn it, he were worthy to be proscribed and prosecuted either as a viperous malignant, or as a public adversary. So that it is but the carcase of an enemy that we have to remove out of our territories, even the carcase and bones of the Norman duke's injurious and detested perpetrations, much more meriting to be dug up, and cast out of our land, than those relicks of his body that were so unsepulchred from his grave in Caen. Let us therefore, until we have wiped off this shame of our nation, and demolished the monuments thereot, no more talk of honour, as being a thing that we have least to do withal, but, yielding that and the glory to the Norman name, reserve unto ourselves nothing but the inheritance of shame and confusion of face; yea, let us either confess and profess ourselves for ever mere vassals and slaves, or else attempt to uncaptive ourselves, the end and scope of this whole discourse, that is, effectually, yet orderly and legally, to endeavour these following particulars:

1. That William, sirnamed the Conqueror, be stripped of that insolent title (which himself scarce ever assumed after his victory, much less pretended to before, but hath been since imposed on him hy Norman arrogance and our servile flattery), and that he be either reputed amongst our lawful kings by force of St. Edward's legacy, or adjudged an usurper; however, that he may no longer stand for the alpha of our kings in the royal catalogue.

2. That the title to the crown be ungrounded from any pretended conquest over this nation, and that his majesty be pleased to derive his righi from St. Edward's legacy, and the blood of the precedent English kings, to whom he is the undoubted heir; and that he restore the ancient English arms into the royal standard.

3. That all the Norman nobility and progeny, amongst us, repudiate their names and titles brought over from Normandy, assuming others consistible with the honour of this nation, and disclaim all right to their possessions here, as heirs and successors to any pretended conquerors.

4. That all laws and 'usages introduced from Normandy be, eo nomine, abolished, and a supply made from St. Edward's laws, or the civil, and that our laws be divested of their French rags, (as king James. of worthy memory once royally motioned) and restored into the English or Latin tongue, unless, perhaps, it may seem honourable for Englishmen to be still in the mouth of their own laws no further free than frenchified, and that they only, of all mockal men, should imprison their laws in the language of their enemies.

5. That our language be cleared of the Norman and French invasion upon it, and depravation of it, by purging it of all words and terms of that descent, supplying it from the old Saxon and the learned tongues, and otherwise correcting it, whereby it may be advanced to the quality of an honourable and sufficient language, than which there is scarce a greater point in a nation's honour and happiness,

To which may also be added the removal of an indignity of kin to the former in quality, though not in cause, namely, the advancing of the French arms above ours in the royal standard, as if, by our ances.

tors conquest of that nation, we had merited nothing but the public subjection of our honour to theirs: the Scots, though an inferior nation, denying us any such privilege in their own kingdom.

These things thus obtained, and Normanism thus abolished, we may then, and then only, have comfort in our name, as after our excussion of that which is utterly destructive to the honour of our nation, which is the motive unto us to demand and require these things; neither want there reasons sufficient on the other side, why they may and ought to be granted, some whereof are these:

1. For his majesty, it will be no prejudice to his title, nor impeachment of the honour of his blood, should he wave his descent from Normandy, but rather an improvement of the same, by how much it is more honourable to be derived from free kings, than vassal dukes, and from Saxony, the heart and noblest part of Germany, than from Neustria or Norway; and it will, moreover, settle him as well in the true affections, as on the throne of this nation, which none of his predecessors, since the pretended conquest, could rightly enjoy, there being too much tincture of domination in their rule, and of captivity in our obedience. And this is confirmed by that love and honour which the most glorious kings of this realm have here gained by their inclining this way; witness Henry the first, approved and beloved above his Norman predecessors, who, for that sole purpose, took to wife Edgar Atheling's niece, the female heir of the English blood; next, Edward the first, whose memory is no less acceptable for his being the first reviver of that name in that line, than for his inlarging the honour and dominion of this state: thirdly, Edward the third, the most glorious, renowned, and precious of all our kings, not only for his famous victories, but withal, for restoring, in a goud degree, the use and honour of the English tongue, formerly exiled, by Normanism, into contempt and obscurity. To which purpose also it is observable, that none of our kings since William the pretended conqueror, and his son, have bore their name, the imposing whereof on our princes, their royal parents seem purposely to have avoided as justly odious to the English nation; whereas, with what honour they have continually used both the name and shrine of St. Edward, I need pot recount. And if these kings so lately after the conqueror, and while the orman blood ran almost fresh in their veins, thought it their duty, in some sort, to profess, for the English name, against Normanism, how little mis-becoming will it be for his majesty, after 244 so many ages ingraftment into this nation, and disunion from the other, and having in him, for one stream of the Norman blood, two of the true English, to profess himself altogether English, and to advance that nation to the greatest lustre he can, whereof he professeth himself the natural head; yea, it will so far transfer him above the honour and felicity of his predecessors, as it is more honourable and happy for a prince to be called and accounted the natural father of his country, than the exotick lord of the same, of which titles the very tyrants of Rome were ambitious for the former, but rejected and detested even the one half of the latter.

2. For the Norman progeny, they may consider, that themselves, as Norwegians, are originally, as Verstegan hath well observed, of one

« AnteriorContinuar »