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“ Canst thou, wilt thou yield thus to them ?
O break forth, and fly to me!
These fond arms shall shelter thee.” “ 'Tis in vain, in vain, Alcanzor,
Spies surround me, bars secure; Scarce I steal this last dear moment,
While my damsel keeps the door. “ Hark, I hear my father storming !
Hark, I hear my mother chide! I must go : farewell for ever!
Gracious Alla be thy guide ! ”
END OF THE THIRD BOOK.
Richard of Almaigne, “ A ballad made by one of the adherents to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, soon after the battle of Lewes, which was fought May 14, 1264,"-affords a curious specimen of ancient satire, and shows that the liberty assumed by the good people of this realm, of abusing their kings and princes at pleasure, is a privilege of very long standing.
To render this antique libel intelligible, the reader is to understand that just before the battle of Lewes, which proved so fatal to the interests of Henry III., the barons had offered bis brother Richard, King of the Romans, 30,0001. to procure a peace upon such terms as would have divested Henry of all his regal power, and therefore the treaty proved abortive. The consequences of that battle are well known: the king, Prince Edward his son, his brother Ricbard, and many of his friends, fell into the hands of their enemies; while two great barons of the king's party, John, Earl of Warren, and Hugh Bigot, the king's Justiciary, had been glad to escape into France.
In the 1st stanza the aforesaid sum of 30,0001. is alluded to; but, with the usual misrepresentation of party malevolence, is asserted to have been the exorbitant demand of the king's brother.
With regard to the 2nd stanza, the reader is to note that Richard, along with the earldom of Cornwall, had the honours of Wallingford and Eyre confirmed to him on his marriage with Sanchia, daughter of the Count of Provence, in 1243. Windsor Castle was the chief fortress belonging to the king, and had been garrisoned by foreigners; a circumstance which furnishes out the burthen of each stanza.
The 3rd stanza alludes to a remarkable circumstance which bappened on the day of the battle of Lewes. After the battle was lost, Richard, King of the Romans, took refuge in a windmill, which he barricadoed, and maintained for some time against the barons, but in the evening was obliged to surrender.—See a very full account of this in the Chronicle of Mailros. Oxon. 1684, p. 229.
The 4th stanza is of obvious interpretation; Richard, who had been elected king of the Romans in 1256, and had afterwards gone over to take possession of his dignity, was in the year 1259 about to return into England, when the barons raised a popular ciamour, that he was bringing with him foreigners to overrun the kingdom : upon which he was forced to dismiss almost all his followers, otherwise the barons would have opposed his landing.
In the 5th stanza, the writer regrets the escape of the Earl of Warren; and in the 6th and 7th stanzas, insinuates that, if he and Sir Hugh Bigot once fell into the hands of their adversaries, they should never more return home: a circumstance which fixes the date of this ballad ; for, in the year 1265, both these noblemen landed in South Wales, and the royal party soon after gained the ascendant.-See Holinshed, Rapin, &c.
The following is copied from a very ancient MS, in the British Museum. [Harl. MSS. 2253, s. 23.] This MS. is judged, from the peculiarities of the writing, to be not later than the time of Richard II.; th being everywhere expressed by the character þ; the y is pointed, after the Saxon manner, and the í hath an oblique stroke over it.
Prefixed to this ancient libel on government was a small design, which the engraver intended should correspond with the subject. On the one side a Satyr (emblem of Petulance and Ridicule) is trampling on the ensigns of Royalty; on the other, Faction, under the mask of Liberty, is exciting Ignorance and Popular Rage to deface the royal image, which stands on a pedestal inscribed MAGNA CHARTA, to denote that the rights of the king, as well as those of the people, are founded on the laws; and that to attack one, is in effect to demolish both.
SITTETH alle stille, ant herkneth to me;
Ant so he dude moro.
Tricthen shalt thou never more.
To helpe Wyndesore.
Ver. 2, kyn. MS.
The Kyng of Alemaigne gederede ys host,
To store Wyndesore.
For love of Wyndesore.
To help of Wyndesore.
To helpe Wyndesore.
Ant that reweth sore
Forsoke thyn emes lore.
** This ballad will rise in its importance with the reader, when he finds that it is even believed to have occasioned a law in our StatuteBook, viz. “ Against slanderous reports or tales, to cause discord betwixt king and people.”— Westm. Primer, c. xxxiv. anno 3 Edw. I. That it had this effect, is the opinion of an eminent writer.-See Observations upon the Statutes, &c., 4to, and edit. 1766, p. 71.
However, in the Harl. Collection may be found other satirical and defamatory rhymes of the same age, that might have their share in contributing to this first law against libels.
On the Death of K. Edward the First. We have here an early attempt at Elegy. Edward I. died July 7, 1307, in the 35th year of his reign, and 69th of his age. This poem appears to have been composed soon after his death. According to the modes of thinking peculiar to those times, the writer dwells more upon his devotion, than his skill in government; and pays less attention to the martial and political abilities of this great monarch, in which he had no equal, than to some little weaknesses of superstition, which he had in common with all his contemporaries. The king had in the decline of life vowed an expedition to the Holy Land; but finding his end approach, he dedicated the sum of 32,0001. to the maintenance of a large body of knights (140 say historians, 80 says our poet), who were to carry his heart with them into Palestine. This dying command of the king was never performed. Our poet, with the honest prejudices of an Englishman, attributes this failure to the advice of the king of France, whose daughter Isabel, the young monarch, who succeeded, immediately married. But the truth is, Edward and his destructive favourite, Piers Gaveston, spent the money upon their pleasures. To do the greater honour to the memory of his hero, our poet puts his eloge in the mouth of the Pope, with the same poetic licence as a more modern bard would have introduced Britannia, or the Genius of Europe, pouring forth his praises.
This antique elegy is extracted from the same MS. volume as the preceding article; is found with the same peculiarities of writing and orthography; and, though written at near the distance of half a contury, contains little or no variation of idiom: whereas the next following poem, by Chaucer, which was probably written not more than 50 or 60 years after this, exhibits almost a new language. This seems to countenance the opinion of some antiquaries, that this great poet made considerable innovations in his mother tongue, and introduced many terms and new modes of speech from other languages.
ALLE, that beoth of huerte trewe,
A stounde herkneth to my song
That maketh me syke, ant sorewe among;