Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small]


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 cattle with all the eagerness, that the desire of empire and glory could ercite in a brave and youthful heart, elate with success. Stephen also much wished to bring the contest between them to a speedy decision: but while he and Eustace werec onsulting with William of Ipes, in whose affection they most confided, and by whose private advice they took all their measures, the Earl of Arundel, having assembled the English nobility and principal officers, spoke to this effect:

It is now above sixteen years, that, on a doubtful and disputed claim to the crown, the rage of civil war has almost continually infested this kingdom. During this melancholy period how much blood has been shed ' What devastations and misery have been brought on the people ! The laws have lost their force, the crown it's authority: licentiousness and impunity have shaken all the foundations of public security. This great and noble nation has been delivered a prey to the basest of foreigners, the abominable scum of Flanders, Brabant, and Bretagne, robbers rather than soldiers, restrained by no laws, divine or human, tied to no country, subject to no prince, instruments of all tyranny, violence, and oppression. At the same time, our cruel neighbours, the Welsh and the Scotch, calling themselves allies or auxiliaries to the Empress, but in reality enemies and destroyers of England, have broken their bounds, ravaged our borders, and taken from us whole provinces, which we can never hope to recover; while, instead of employing our united force against them, we continue thus madly, without any care of our public safety or national honour, to turn our swords against our own bosoms. What benefits have we gained, to compensate all these losses, or what do we expect? When Matilda was mistress of the kingdom, though her power was not yet confirmed, in what manner did she govern? Did she not make even those of her own faction and court regret the king? Was not her pride more intolerable still than his levity, her rapine than his profuseness? Were any years of his reign so grievous to the people, so offensive to the nobles, as the first days of hers? When she was driven out, did Stephen correct his former bad conduct? Did he dismiss his odious foreign iavourite; Did he discharge his lawless foreign hirelings, who had been so long the scourge and the reproach of England Have they not lived ever since upon free quarter, by plundering our houses and burning our cities? And now, to complete our miseries, a new army of foreigners, Angevins, Gascons, Poictevins, I know not who, are come over with Henry Plantagenet, the son of Matilda; and many more, no doubt, will be called to assist him, as soon as ever his affairs abroad will permit; by whose help, if he be victorious, England must pay the price of their services: our lands, our honours, must be the hire of these rapacious invaders. But suppose we should have the fortune to conquer for Stephen, what will be the consequence? Will victory teach him moderation? Will he learn from security that regard to our liberties, which he could not learn from danger ? Alas! the only fruit of our good success will be this; the estates of the Earl of Leicester, and others of our countrymen, who have now quitted the party of the king, will be forfeited; and new confiscations will accrue to William of Ipres.

. . But let us not hope, that, be our victory ever so complete, it will give any lasting peace to this kingdom. Should Henry fall in this battle, there are two other brothers to succeed to his claim, and support his faction, perhaps with less merit, but certainly with as much ambition as he. What shall we do then, to free ourselves from all these misfortunes? —Let us prefer the interest of our country to that of our party, and to all those passions, which are apt, in civil dissensions, to inflame zeal into madness, and render men the blind instruments of those 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 conquest itself is full of calamity, and our most happy victories' deserve to be celebrated only by tears. Nature herself is dismayed, and shrinks 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

136, *o too. o lorious to save the life of one o - co . at , to: and what a glory, must it o to us a Yo: save the lives d thousands of Englishmen, that must otherwise fall in this balle, and in many other battles, which hero. after may be fought on this quarrels. It is in our power to do. so—it is in our power to end the controversy, bot safely and , honourably; by an amicable agreement, not by the sword...: Stephen may enjoy the royal dignity for his life, and the succession may be secured to the young duke of Normandy,... with such a present rank in the state as belils the heir of the . crown. Even the bitterest enemies of the king must acknow-, ledge, that he is valiant, generous, and good-natured; o f: warmest friends cannot deny, that he has a great deal of ras - . ness and indiscretion. Both may therefore. conclude, that. he should not be deprived of the royal authority, but that, he ought to be restrained from a farther abuse of it; which

can be done by no means so certain and effectual as what I. propose: for thus his power will be tempered by the Pre

sence, the counsels, and influence of prince Henry; who, for his own interest in the weal of the kingdom which he is to inherit, will always have a right to interpose his advice, and even his authority, if it be necessary, against any future violation of our liberties; and to procure an effectual redress of our grievances, which we have hitherto sought in vain. If all the English in both armies unite, as I hope they may,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

in this plan of pacification, they will be able to give the law, to the foreigners, and oblige both the king and the duke to consent to it. This will secure the public tranquillily, and leave no secret stings of resentment, to rankle in the hearts, of a suffering party, and produce future disturbances. As. there will be no triumph, no insolence, no exclusive right to, favour on either side, there can be no shame, no anger, no uneasy desire of change. It will be the work of the whole; nation; and all must wish to support what all have estab., lished. The sons of Stephen indeed may endeavour to oppose it; but their efforts will be fruitless, and must end very. soon either in their submission, or their ruin. Nor have they. any reasonable cause to complain. Their father himself dio not come to the crown by hereditary right. He was elected. in preference to a woman and an infant, who were deemed not to be capable of ruling a kingdom. By that election our


civil," or stross Ash HARANGUES." or so is bound to him during his life; but Heither that 3 bond, uor the reason for which we chose him, will hold as to the choice of a 'successor.” Henry Plantagenet is now . grown up to an age of maturity, and every way qualified to " succeed to the crown. He is the grandson of a king whose memory is dear to us, and the nearest heir male to him in the course of descent: he appears to resemble him in all his good qualities, and to be worthy to reign over the Normans and English, whose noblest blood united enriches his veins.” Normandy has already submitted to him with pleasure. Why should we now divide that duchy from England, when * it is so greatly the interest of our nobility, to keep them always connected? If we had no other inducement, to make us desire a reconciliation between him and Stephen, this would be sufficient. Our estates in both countries will by these means be secured, which otherwise we must forfeit, in the one or the other, while Henry remains possessed of Normandy: and it will not be an easy matter, to drive him thence, even though we should compel him to retire from . England. But, by amicably compounding his quarrel with Stephen, we shall maintain all our interests, private and public. His greatuess abroad will increase the power of . this kingdom; it will make us respectable and formidable to France; England will be the head of all those ample", dominions, which extend from the British ocean to the Pyrenean mountains. By governing, in his youth, so many different states, he will learn to govern us; and come to the crown, after the decease of king Stephen, accomplished in all the arts of good policy. His mother has willingly resigned to him her pretensions, or rather she acknowledges, that his are superior: we therefore can have nothing to apprehend on that side. In every view, our peace, our safety, , the repose of our consciences, the quiet and happiness of our posterily, will be firmly established by the means I propose. . Let Stephen continue to wear the crown that we gave him, as long as he lives; but after his death let it descend to that prince, who alone can put an end to our unhappy divisions.” If you approve my advice, and will empower me to treatin:

our names, I will immediately convey your desires to the i. and the duke. . . . . ." . #3; Lyrreiron.! to, oro, . . . ** * * “. . . ;

[ocr errors]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . - on

* 1: . . . . . . . . . . . CHAP. Wiii. - * *



We have heard a great deal about parliamentary armies, and about an army continued from year to year. I have always been, Sir, and always shall be, against a standing army of any kind: to me it is a terrible thing, whether under that of parliamentary or any other designation; a standing army is still a standing army, whatever name it be called by; they are a body of men distinct from the body of the people; they are governed by different laws; and blind obedience, " and an entire submission to the orders of their commanding officer, is their only principle. The nations around us, Sir, are already enslaved, and have been enslaved by those very means; by means of their standing armies they have every one lost their liberties: it is indeed impossible, that the liberties of the people can be preserved in any country, where a numerous standing army is kept up. Shall we then take any of our measures from the example of our neighbours? No, Sir; on the contrary, from their misfortunes we ought to learn, to avoid those rocks, upon which they have split. It signifies nothing to tell me, that our army is commanded by such gentlemen as cannot be supposed to join in any measures for enslaving their country: it may be so; I hope it is so; I have a very good opiuion of many gentlemen now in the army; I believe they would not join in any such measures; but their lives are uncertain, nor can we be sure how long they may be continued in command; they may be all dismissed in a moment, and proper tools of power put in their room. Besides, Sir, we know the passions of men; we know how dangerous it is, to trust the best of men with too much power. Where was there a braver army than that under Julius Caesar? Where was there ever an army, that had served their country more faithfully? That ormy was commanded generally by the best citizens of Rome, by men of great fortune and figure in their country; yet that

« AnteriorContinuar »