Imatges de pàgina
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kept open table suitable for the entertainment of guests of exalted rank. His purveyors procured from a great distance, at a great expense, the choicest and most delicate provisions. The earls and barons esteemed it an honour to visit him, and no foreigner coming to his mansion departed thence without receiving a present of hounds or falcons, of horses, or of rich apparel. The lords sent him their young sons to serve in his household, and to be educated near him: he maintained these for some time, then equipped them at all points as knights, furnishing them at his own expense with every requisite of military officers."

It must have been thought a grand thing to be a king's favourite, and thus to have all this great wealth and honour, and luxury at command. There were multitudes who envied Thomas à Becket his rapid advancement and grandeur; but he really was not in an enviable position. He was going on in a dangerous course, even as regards the present life. All his prosperity depended on the king's favour; and it will be seen how uncertain this was. But besides this, we may be almost sure that he was neglecting that which was of the greatest importance for that which, in comparison, was of no importance whatever. Nominally, indeed, Thomas à Becket was a servant of God, and a minister of the Gospel of God; but there is nothing in this part of his history to show that he had any true piety in his heart, or any anxiety for the souls of men entrusted to his care.

Froin “ Stories of Old England" (by kind permission of R. T. S.).

XXX.

THE ARMADA.

ATTEND, all ye who list to hear our noble England's

praise; I tell of the thrice famous deeds she wrought in ancient

days, When that great fleet invincible against her böre, in vain, The richest spoils of Mexico, the stoutest hearts of Spain.

It was about the lovely close of a warm summer's day, There came a gallant merchant ship full sail to Ply

mouth bay; The crew had seen Castile's 1 black fleet, beyond Aurigny's

isle, At earliest twilight, on the waves lie heaving many a mile. At sunrise she escaped their van, by God's especial grace ; And the tall Pinta, till the noon, had held her close in

chase. Forthwith a guard at every gun, was placed along the wall; The beacon blazed upon the roof of Edgecumbe's lofty

hall; Many a light fishing bark put out to pry along the coast; And with loose rein, and bloody spur, rode inland many

a post.

With his white hair unbonnetted, the stout old sheriff And haughtily the trumpets peal, and gaily dance the

comes ; Behind him march the halberdiers ;? before him sound

the drums : The yeomen, round the market cross make clear an

ample space, For there behoves him to set up the standard of Her Grace;3

bells, As slow upon the labouring wind the royal blazon swells. Look how the lion of the sea lifts up his ancient crown, And underneath his deadly paw treads the gay lilies4 down! So stalked he when he turned to flight, on that famed

Picard 5 field, Bohemia's plume, and Genoa's bow, and Cæsar's eagle

shield : So glared he when, at Agincourt, in wrath he turned to bay, And crushed and torn beneath his claws the princely

hunters lay. Ho! strike the flagstaff deep, Sir Knight! ho ! scatter

flowers, fair maid ! Ho! gunners ! fire a loud salute ! ho, gallants ! draw

your blades ! Thou sun, shine on her joyously! ye breezes, waft her

wide! Our glorious semper eadem ! 6. the banner of our pride !

The fresh’ning.breeze of eve unfurled that banner's massy

foldThe parting gleam of sunshine kissed that haughty scroll

of gold; Night sank upon the dusky beach, and on the purple sea, Such night in England ne'er had been, nor ne'er again

shall be. From Eddystone to Berwick bounds, from Lynn to

Milford bay, That time of slumber was as bright-as busy as the day; For swift to east, and swift to west, the ghastly war

flame spread High on St. Michael's Mount it shone-it shone on

Beachy Head :

Far o'er the deep the Spaniard saw, along each southern

shire, Cape beyond cape, in endless range, those twinkling

points of fire. The fisher left his skiff to rock on Tamar's glittering

waves; The rugged miners poured to war, from Mendip's sunless

caves ; 8 O'er Longleat's towers, or Cranbourne's oak, 10 the fiery

herald flew; And roused the shepherds of Stonehenge-the rangers

of Beaulieu. Right sharp and quick the bells rang out all night from

Bristol town; And, ere the day, three hundred horse had met on Clifton

Down.

The sentinel on Whitehall gate looked forth into the night, And saw o'erhanging Richmond Hill that streak of blood

red light : Then bugle's note, and cannon's roar, the death-like

silence broke, And with one start, and with one cry, the royal city 11 woke; At once, on all her stately gates, arose the answering fires; At once the wild alarum clashed from all her reeling

spires ; From all the batteries of the tower pealed loud the voice

of fear : And all the thousand masts of Thames sent back a louder

cheer: And from the farthest wards was heard the rush of hurry

ing feet, And the broad streams of flags and pikes rush down each

roaring street :

And broader still became the blaze, and louder still the

din, As fast from every village round the horse came spurring

in;

And eastward straight, for wild Blackheath, the war-like

errand went; And roused, in many an ancient hall, the gallant squires

of Kent. Southward, for Surrey's pleasant hills, flew those bright

couriers forth; High on bleak Hampstead's swarthy moor, they started

for the north ; And on, and on, without a pause, untired they bounded

still ; All night from tower to tower they sprang; all night

from hill to hill : Till the proud peak unfurled the flag o'er Derwent's rocky

dales ; Till like volcanoes flared to heaven the stormy hills of

Wales; Till twelve fair counties saw the blaze on Malvern's

lonely height, Till streamed in crimson, on the wind, the Wrekin's crest

of light, Till, broad. and fierce, the star came forth, on Ely's

stately fane, And town and hamlet rose in arms, o'er all the boundless

plain; Till Belvoir's lordly terraces the sign to Lincoln sent, And Lincoln sped the message on o'er the wide vale of

Trent; Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burnt on Gaunt's embattled

pile, 12 And the red glare of Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle.

Macaulay.

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