페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

New Forest, some courtiers, out of pity to the Hampshire villagers, urged the king to make Charnwood his hunting forest; and that William sternly asked the remonstrant "whether it was wished that he should break his neck, as he understood Charnwood was full of rocks and caves."

Charnwood is especially rich in historical association. The then possessor of one of its manors, called for its beauty Beaumanor, was, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, of sufficient importance to receive from this imperious sovereign the following amusing letter, under the authority of the privy seal.

BY THE QUEENE.

Trustie and wel-beloved, we greete you well. The contynual greate charges which wee have for the necessarie defence of and preservation of our dominions and subjects, are so notorious as neede not to be otherwise declared then may justlie be conceaved by all our loving subjectes, being but of common understanding. And therefore, at this presente, finding cause of increase and contynuance of such charges exceeding all other meanes; and not mynding to presse our subjectes with anie presente free gift of monie, but only to be supplied with some reasonable pencion by waie of loane for onne yeare's space; wee have made speciall choice of suche our loving subjectes as are knowne to be of abilitie; amongest which we accompte yow one; and therefore, we require yow, by these presentes, to lend us the some of fyftie poundes for the space of one yeare, and the some to be payd unto Benedict Barnham or Thomes Looe, aldermen, by us appointed as collectors thereof; which we promise to pay to yow or your assignees, at the end of one yeare, in the receipte or exchequer, upon giving this privie seale subscribed by the said collectors, testifieing the receipte hereof. Geven under our privie seale, at our pallace, Westm'r, the xxvi th daie of January, in the xxxixth year of our raigne.

THOMAS KING.

Charley, another manor in the forest, in the early part of the thirteenth century passed by marriage into the possession of Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan; a relative of John or "the Red" Comyn, of Badenoch, stabbed in passion on his giving him the lie, by Bruce, in the chapel of the Grey Friars, at Dumfries, and immediately dispatched by

Kirkpatrick's bloody dirk
Making sure of murderer's work.

History and poetry are sometimes sadly at variance. The real Bruce, though unquestionably a man of unbounded valour and enterprise, at one period of his life served under Edward against his own country as a mercenary. There appears every reason for supposing that real patriotism had no very great share in the motives which induced him to take up arms against Edward. Altogether, he appears very different from the lofty-minded and chivalrous hero of Scott's Lord of the Isles; and as an historic character was very far from deserving the

magnificent address then spoken by the abbot to his fictitious representative.

One of the most celebrated spots in or near the forest is Bradgatesuccessively belonging to the Earls of Leicester, and the families of the Ferrars and the Greys. It was in the beautiful park of Bradgate, while in possession of the last mentioned family, that the lovely, amiable, gifted, but unfortunate lady Jane Grey was found by Roger Ascham, tutor to Queen Elizabeth, reading the Phoedo of Plato, while the rest of the company were hunting in the park. Mr. Potter gives an appropriate notice of this almost angelic creature, who, in the words of Fuller, "had the innocency of childhood, the beauty of youth, the solidity of middle, the gravity of old age, and all at eighteen; the birth of a princess, the learning of a clerk, the life of a saint, and the death of a malefactor for her parent's offences." His notice of the park itself is this:

Its venerable feature of stern moorland wilderness,-its venerable and gnarled oaks,—its undulating surface, interspersed with rock, wood, and streamlet,the beautiful view afforded from its prospect tower, called “ Old John," and above all, the quiet beauty of the rocky valley,—are truly objects that no pilgrim tourist can behold without delight;-and when to all is superadded the remembrance "amid these scenes the Lady Jane strayed, studied, wept," that person must be a stranger to the sensibilities of our nature whose mind fails to derive deep enjoyment from such a spot. The author of the School of the Heart"-the Hulscan Lecturer of the last and present year-thus rapturously speaks of a visit to Bradgate in that month in which Englishmen have been said to "hang, drown, shoot." "The glooms of November! Take us to our forest scenery,-set us down in the deep valley of Ulverscroft, or in the fantastic glen on the Newton Lingford side of Bradgate. Look at that ruined tower,-how its sombre majesty is set off and duly cinctured by ash and elm and oak, with their gloomy masses of colour; the yet unscattered mist just frames the picture for you,—the bare hills are all shut out, and alone in their beauty, the Abbey and its nurseling the farm, and their old ancestral woods lie there in quiet decay; the leaves ever and anon floating down, and the slow winding cattle being the only moving objects in the vale of peace. Now to Bradgate:-Did gilding ever surpass the glories of those fern-covered hills? Yon oaks, of a thousand shapes and hues-(and under them in all her beauty and innocence the Lady Jane wandered,)—this fragrance from the decaying year, this babbling steam that collects the brooding mist,-yon old crumbling gables and turrets that pierce the dull distance,―these are your November glooms. And look at the deer-not the smooth sleek gentlemen of the undulating paddock, misnamed a pack,—but wild and bold, and stately as they move among the bright fern or under the ancient oaks; and the twinkle twinkle of innumerable rabbits as they hide themselves at our approach. Now the. curtain of mist has been lifted, the glorious sun is high. Mount yon hill of grey rocks,-look round you on wood and wold,-on tower and town,-on many a happy home with its coloured fringe of timber,-on the cloudless, boundless, and all-covering sky, and then tell us of the glooms of November!"

Several legendary tales are connected with spots in the forest; and with one of these we will close our brief and imperfect notice. The scientific and historical details, which comprise a large portion of the work, as well as the numerous beautiful illustrations, can be only enjoyed by those who have access to the volume itself.

LEGEND OF THE HANGMAN'S STONE.

It happen'd but twice in the tide of time,
And but once since the conqueror came,
That all shepherd men were in bed at ten,
And all Whytwyk wights the same.

There were fat red deer in old Bardon Park,
Fat hogs on the great Joe's Head,

Fat goats in crowds on the grey Lubclouds,
Fat sheep in the Forest shed.

There were coneys in store upon the Warren Hill,
And hares upon Long Cliff dell;

And a pheasant whirred if a foot was stirred
In the Haw of the Holy well.

There were trout in shoals in the Charley brook,
And pike in the abbot's lake,

And herons in flocks under Whytwyk's rocks
Their nightly rest would take.

All these were the cause why the shepherd men,
And the Whytwyk wights the same,

Never slumber'd when the clock told ten,

But watch'd for the sylvan game.

What matter that wardens and trusty regarders,

Look'd well to the forest right;

The shepherd encroachers were aye practised poachers,
And their day was the " noon of night."

[merged small][ocr errors]

John of Oxley had watch'd on the round Cat Hill,

He had harried all Timber Wood.

Each rabbit and hare said "ha! ha!" to his snare,
But the venison he knew was good.

A herd were resting beneath the broad oak—
(The ranger he knew was abed):
The shaft he drew on his well-tired yew,
And a gallant hart lay dead.

He tied its legs, and he hoisted his prize,
And he toil'd over Lubcloud brow;

He reached the tall stone standing out and alone,
Standing then as it standeth now.

With his back to the stone he rested his load,
And he chuckled with glee to think

That the rest of his way on the down hill lay,
And his wife would have spiced the strong drink.

That rest of the way John of Oxley ne'er trod :
The spiced ale was untouched by him ;
In the morning grey there were looks that way,
But the mountain mists were dim.

Days pass'd and he came not-his children play'd
And wept-then gambolled again;

They saw with surprise that their mother's wet eyes
Were still on the hills-in vain!

A swineherd was passing o'er Great Joe's Head,
When he noticed a motionless man ;

He shouted in vain-no reply could he gain,—
So down to the grey stone he ran:

All was clear. There was Oxley on one side the stone,
On the other the down-hanging deer;

The burden had slipp'd, and his neck it had nipp'd: He was hang'd by his prize-all was clear !

The gallows still stands upon Shepeshed high lands,
As a mark for the poacher to own,

How the wicked will get within their own net,
And 'tis still called the Grey Hangman's Stone.

213

ART. VIII.

1. Collection des Chroniques Nationales Françaises. Par M. BUCHON. 36 tom. Paris, 1826.

2. Histoire de Bertrand du Guesclin. 2 tom.

We took occasion in a former number of this journal to offer some remarks upon the manners and customs of England during the reign of Edward the Third, as well as generally upon the domestic policy of that prince; we now resume the general subject of that reign, and propose on the present occasion to consider some of the principal foreign wars which Edward's wise government at home enabled him to carry on with success.

The military events of the reign of Edward the Third divide themselves naturally into five great periods of ten years each, ending severally with the claim upon France, the battles of Crecy, of Poictiers, of Najara, and the death of the King,

The dawn of Edward's reign under the inauspicious influence of the Queen and Mortimer, gave little promise of its meridian lustre. The strength due to his grandfather's government had been effaced by the weakness and wickedness of that of his father. But although the royal office had fallen into disrepute, the cruel death of Edward the Second raised a mighty disgust against all who ordered or sanctioned the deed. Neither were the nobles who had put down the minions of the late king himself, at all disposed to be ruled by one of their own body and the paramour of the queen. Edward, though none could attribute to him any share in his father's death, shared at first in some degree in the obloquy cast upon his murderers. He began his reign under the influence of their faction. Their acts became his acts; and they made use of his tender age to sanction their ulterior measures. Men felt that he had risen upon his father's fall, that the young plant had been watered in blood. Fortunately for the kingdom, Mortimer and the Queen were weak as they were wicked. After a disgraceful campaign they concluded a dishonourable peace with Scotland, and thus wounded the English pride in its most tender point. The government was so weak at home that they dared not assume a dignified tone in its disputes with foreign powers. After claiming the regency of France for the young king, he was permitted to pay personal homage to his rival. Men contrasted the death of Robert Bruce, ripe in years and covered with glory, with the corresponding proceedings in England. The execution of the Earl of Kent was felt to be as much a murder as that of his brother.

At this time an unlooked-for prospect of better things appeared in the rising qualities of the young king. Edward, when nineteen years old crossed the seas to pay homage for Guyenne, Ponthieu, and Montrevil, feudal countries held under the crown of France. Philip

« 이전계속 »