Imatges de pàgina

imminent danger, and subsequently the conquest of Calais, which the King immediately besieged and won, and which remained in the possession of the English from that day to the reign of Queen Mary.

From that time the Prince became the darling of the English, and the terror of the French ; and whether from this terror, or from the black armour which he wore on that day, and which contrasted with the fairness of his complexion, he was called by them, "Le Prince Noir," the Black Prince, and from them the name has passed to us; so that all his other sounding titles, by which the old poems call him—"Prince of Wales, Duke of Aquitaine," are lost in the one memorable name which he won for himself in his first fight at Cressy.

A. P. Stanley.




I AM the last of noble Edward's sons,
Of whom thy father, Prince of Wales, was first :
In war was never lion raged more fierce,
In peace was never gentle lamb more mild,
Than was that young and princely gentleman.
His face thou hast, for even so look'd he,
Accomplish'd with the number of thy hours;
But when he frown'd, it was against the French
And not against his friends ; his noble hand

Did win what he did spend, and spent not that
Which his triumphant father's hand had won;
His hands were guilty of no kindred blood,
But bloody with the enemies of his kin.
O Richard ! York is too far gone with grief,
Or else he never would compare between.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

WHEN we stand by the grave of a remarkable man, it is always an interesting and instructive question to ask—especially by the grave of such a man, and in such a place—What evil is there, which we trust is buried with him in his tomb ? What good is there, which may still live after him? What is it, that, taking him from first to last, his life and his death teach us?

First, then, the thought which we most naturally connect with the name of the Black Prince, is the wars of the English and French-the victories of England over France. Out of those wars much noble feeling sprung,-feelings of chivalry and courtesy and respect to our enemies, and (perhaps a doubtful boon) of unshaken confidence in ourselves. Such feelings are amongst our most precious inheritances, and all honour be to him who first inspired them into the hearts of his countrymen, never to be again extinct. But it is a matter of still greater thankfulness to remember, as we look at the worn-out armour of the Black Prince, that those wars of English conquest are buried with him, never to be revived. Other wars may arise in the unknown future still before usbut such wars as he and his father waged, we shall, we may thankfully hope, see no more again

* From Historical Memorials of Canterbury.

for ever.

We shall never again see a King of England, or a Prince of Wales, taking advantage of a legal quibble to conquer a great neighbouring country, and laying waste with fire and sword a civilized kingdom, from mere self-aggrandisement. We have seen how, on the eve of the battle of, Poitiers, one good man, with a patience and charity truly heroic, did strive by all that Christian wisdom and forbearance could urge to stop that unhallowed warfare. It is a satisfaction to think that his wish is accomplished ; that what he laboured to effect almost as a hopeless project, has now well-nigh become the law of the civilized world. It is true, that the wars of Edward III, and the Black Prince were renewed again on a more frightful scale in the next century, renewed at the instigation of an Archbishop of Canterbury, who strove thus to avert the storm which seemed to him to be threatening the Church : but these were the last, and the tomb and college of Chichele are themselves lasting monuments of the deep remorse for his sin, which smote his declining years. With him finished the last trace of those bloody wars : may nothing ever arise, in our time or our children's, to break the bond of peace between England and France, which is the bond of the peace of the world!

Secondly, he brings before us all that is most characteristic of the ages of chivalry. You have heard of his courtesy, his reverence to age and authority, his generosity to his fallen enemy. But before I speak of this more at length, here also I must in justice remind you that the evil as well as the good of chivalry was seen in him, and that this evil, like that which I spoke of just now, is also, I trust, buried with him. One single instance will show what I mean.

In those disastrous years which ushered in the close of his life, a rebellion arose in his French province of Gascony, provoked by his wasteful expenditure. One of the chief towns where the insurgents held out, was Limoges. The Prince, though then labouring under his fatal illness, besieged and took it; and as soon as it was taken, he gave orders that his soldiers should massacre every one that they found; whilst he himself, too ill to walk or ride, was carried through the streets in a litter, looking on at the carnage. Men, women, and children, threw themselves on their knees, as he passed on through the devoted city, crying, “Mercy, mercy!" But he went on relentlessly; and the massacre went on, till struck by the gallantry of three French knights, whom he saw fighting in one of the squares against fearful odds, he ordered it to cease.

Now, for this dreadful scene there were doubtless many excuses—the irritation of illness, the affection for his father, whose dignity he thought outraged by so determined a resistance, and the indignation against the ingratitude of a city on which he had bestowed many favours. But what is especially to be observed, is not so much the cruelty of the individual man, as the great imperfection of that kind of virtue which could allow of such cruelty. Dreadful as this scene seems to us, to men of that time it seemed quite natural. The poet who recorded it, had nothing more to say concerning it, than that

“All the townsmen were taken or slain

By the noble Prince of price,
Whereat great joy had all around,

Those who were his friends;
And his enemies were

Sorely grieved, and repented
That they had begun the war against him.”


This strange contradiction arose from one single

The Black Prince, and those who looked up to him as their pattern-chivalrous, kind, and generous as they were to their equals and to their immediate dependents—had no sense of what was due to the poor, to the middle, and the humbler classes generally. He could be touched by the sight of a captive king, or at the gallantry of the three French gentlemen; but he had no ears to hear, no eyes to see, the cries and groans of the fathers, and mothers, and children, of the poorer citizens, who were not bound to him by the laws

« AnteriorContinua »