« PreviousContinue »
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 servitude. Our wives and sisters, though they should escape the violation of hostile force, are polluted under the names of friendship and hospitality. Our estates and possessions are consumed in tributes; our grain in contributions. Even the pow ers of our bodies are worn down amidst stripes and insults in clearing woods and draining marshes. Wretches born to slavery are first bought, and afterwards fed by their masters: Britain continually buys, continually feeds her own servitude. And as among domestic slaves every new comer serves for the scorn and derision of his fellows so, in this ancient household of the world, we, as the last and vilest, are sought 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 unsubmitting spirit will only render us more obnoxious to our imperious masters; while the very remoteness and secrecy of our situation in proportion as it conduces to security, will tend to inspire suspicion. Since then all hopes of forgiveness are vain, let those at length assume courage, to whom glory, to whom safety is dear. The Brigantines, even under a female leader, had force enough to burn the enemy's settlements, to storm thair camps; and, if success had, not introduced negligence, and inactivity, would have Been able entirely to throw off the yoke and shall not we, untouched, unsubdued, and struggling not for the acquisition, but the continuance of liberty, declare at the very first onset what kind of men Caledonia has reserved for her defence ?
Can you imagine that the Romans are as brave in war as they are insolent in peace? Acquiring renown from. our discords and dissentions, they convert the errors of their enemies to the glory of their own army; an army compounded of the most different nations, which as suc
cess alone has kept together, misfortune will certainly dissipate. Unless, indeed, you can suppose that Gauls, and Germans, and (I blush to say it) even Britons, lavishing their blood for a foreign state, to which they have been longer foes than subjects, will be retained by loyalty and affection! Terror and dread alone, weak bonds of attachment! are the ties by which they are restrained; and when these are once broken, those who cease to fear will begin to bate. Every incitement to victory is on our side. The Romans have, no wives to animate them; no parents to upbraid their flight. Most of them have either no habitation, or a distant one. Few in number, ignorant of the country, looking around in silent horror at the woods, seas, and a haven itself unknown to them, they are delivered by the gods, as it were, imprisoned and bound, into our hands. Be not terrified with an idle shew, and the glitter of silver and gold, which can neither protect nor wound. In the very ranks of the enemy we shall find our own bands. The Britains will acknowledge their own case. The Gauls will recollect their former liberty. The Germans will desert them, as the Usipii have lately done. Nor is there any thing formidable behind them: Ungarrisoned forts; colonies of invalids; municipal towns distempered and distracted between unjust masters, and ill-obeying subjects. Here is your general; here your army. There, tributes, mines, and all the train of servile punishments; which whether to bear eternally, or instantly to revenge, this field must determine. March then to battle, and think of your ancestors and your posterity.
THE EARL OF ARUNDEL'S SPEECH, PROPOSING. AN ACCOMODATION BETWEEN HENRY II. AND STEPHEN.
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 a battle with all the eagerness, that the desire of empire and glory could excite, 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 were consult ing with William of Ipres, 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 its 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 Welch and the Scotch, calling themselves 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 provinges, which we never can 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 greivous to the people, so offensive to the nobles, as the first day of her's? When she was driven out, did Stephen correct his former bad conduct? Did he dismiss his odious foreign favorite? Did he discharge his lawless foreign hirleings, 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 pernit; by whose help, if he be vietorious, 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 confications 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 kingdomShould 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 horrors 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 glorious act, to save the life of one of his Countrymen? What a felicity then, and what a glory, must it be to us all, if we save the lives of thousands of Englishmen, that must otherwise fall in this battle, and in many other battles, which hearafter may befou ght on this quarrel? It is in our power to do so-It is in our power to end the controversy, both safely and honorably; 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 befits the heir of the crown. Even the bitterest enemies of the king must acknowledge, that he is valiant, generous, and good natured; his warmest friends cannot deny, that he has a great deal of rashness 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 furthey abuse of it; which can be done by no means, 80