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The English were strongly fortified in
their position by lines of trenches and pali-
sades ; and within these defences they were
marshalled according to the Danish fashion
shield against shield, presenting an im-
penetrable front to the enemy. The men of
Kent formed the vanguard, for it was their
privilege to be the first in the strife. The
Durgesses of London, in like manner,
claimed and obtained the honour of being
the royal body-guard, and they were drawn
up around the standard. At the foot of this
manner stood Harold, with his brothers,
Leofwin and Gurth, and a chosen body of
the bravest thanes.

Before the Normans began their march,
and very early in the morning of the feast
of St. Calixtus, William had assembled his



barons around him, and exhorted them to
maintain his righteous cause. As the in-
vaders drew nigh, Harold saw a division
advancing, composed of the volunteers from
the county of Boulogne and from the Ami-
ennois, under the command of William Fitz-
Osbern and Roger Montgomery. " It is the
duke," exclaimed Harold, " and little shall
I fear him. By my forces will his be four
times outnumbered !" Gurth shook his head,
and expatiated on the strength of the Nor-
man cavalry, as opposed to the foot-soldiers
of England ; but their discourse was stopped
by the appearance of the combined cohorts
under Aimeric, Viscount of Thouars, and
Alan Fergant of Brittany. Harold's heart
sunk at the sight, and he broke out into
passionate exclamations of fear and dismay.
But now the third and last division of the
Norman army was drawing nigh. The con-
secrated Gonfanon floats amidst the forest of
spears, and Harold is now too well aware
that he beholds the ranks which are com-
manded in person by the Duke of Nor-

Immediately before the duke rode Taille-
fer, the minstrel, singing, with a loud and
clear voice, the lay of Charlemagne and Ro-
land, and the emprises of the Paladins who
had fallen in the dolorous pass of Ronce-
vaux. Taillefer, as his guerdon, had craved
permission to strike the first blow, for he
was a valiant warrior emulating the deeds
which he sung: his appellation, Taille-fer,
is probably to be considered not as his real
name, but as an epithet derived from his
strength and prowess ; and he fully justified
his demand, by transfixing the first English-
man whom he attacked, and by felling the
second to the ground. The battle now be-
came general, and raged with the greatest
fury. The Normans advanced beyond the
English lines, but they were driven back,
and forced into a trench, where horses and
riders fell upon each other in fearful confu-
sion. More Normans were slain here than
in any other part of the field. The alarm
spread; the light troops left in the charge
of the baggage and the stores thought that
all was lost, and were about to take flight ;
but the fierce Odo, bishop of Bayeux, the
duke's half-brother, and who was better fitted
for the shield than for the mitre, succeeded
in reassuring them, and then, returning to
the field, and rushing into that part where
the battle was hottest, he fought as the
stoutest of the warriors engaged in the con-

From nine in the morning till three in the
afternoon, the successes on either side were
nearly balanced. The charges of the Nor-
man cavalry gave them great advantage,
but the English phalanx repelled their ene-
mies ; and the soldiers were so well pro-
tected by their targets, that the artillery of
the Normans was long discharged in vain.
The bowmen, seeing that they had failed to
make any impression, altered the direction
of their shafts, and instead of shooting point-
blank, the flights of arrows were directed
upwards, so that the points came down upon
the heads of the men of England, and the
iron shower fell with murderous effect. The
English ranks were exceedingly distressed
by the volleys, yet they still stood firm ; and
the Normans now employed a stratagem to
decoy their opponents out of their intrench-
ments. A feigned retreat on their part
induced the English to pursue them with
great heat. The Normans suddenly wheeled
about, and a new and fierce battle was
urged. The field was covered with separate
bands of foemen, each engaged with one
another. Here, the English yielded there,
they conquered. One English thane, armed
with a battle-axe, spread dismay amongst
the Frenchmen. He was cut down by
Roger de Montgomery. The Normans have
preserved the name of the Norman baron,
but that of the Englishman is lost in obli-
vion. Some other English thanes are also
praised as having singly, and by their per-
sonal prowess, delayed the ruin of their
countrymen and country.

At one period of the battle, the Normans
were nearly routed. The cry was raised that
the duke was slain, and they began to fly in
every direction. William threw off his hel-
met, and galloping through the squadrons,
rallied his barons, though not without great
difficulty. Harold, on his part, used every
possible exertion, and was distinguished as
the most active and bravest among the sol-
diers in the host which he led on to destruc-
tion. A Norman arrow wounded him in the
left eye ; he dropped from his steed in agony,
and was borne to the foot of the standard.
The English began to give way, or rather to
retreat to the standard as their rallying-
point. The Normans encircled them, and
fought desperately to reach this goal. Robert
Fitz-Ernest had almost seized the banner,
but he was killed in the attempt. William
led his troops on with the intention, it is
said, of measuring his sword with Harold.
He did encounter an English horseman,



from whom he received such a stroke upon
his helmet, that he was nearly brought to
the ground. The Normans flew to the aid
of their sovereign, and the bold Englishman
was pierced by their lances. About the
same time the tide of battle took a momen-
tary turn. The Kentish men and East
Saxons rallied, and repelled the Norman
barons ; but Harold was not amongst them ;
and William led on his troops with desper-
ate intrepidity. In the thick crowd of the
assailants and the assailed, the hoofs of the
horses were plunged deep into the gore of
the dead and the dying. Gurth was at the
foot of the standard, without hope, but with-
out fear : he fell by the falchion of William.
The English banner was cast down, and the
Gonfanon planted in its place announced
that William of Normandy was the conque-
ror. It was now late in the evening. The
English troops were entirely broken, yet no
Englishman would surrender. The conflict
continued in many parts of the bloody field
long after dark.

By William's orders, a spot close to the
Gonfanon was cleared, and he caused his
pavilion to be pitched among the corpses
which were heaped around. He there supped
with his barons ; and they feasted among
the dead ; but when he contemplated the
fearful slaughter, a natural feeling of pity,
perhaps allied to repentance, arose in his
stern mind ; and the Abbey of Battle, in
which the prayer was to be offered up per-
petually for the repose of the souls of all
who had fallen in the conflict, was at once
the monument of his triumph and the token
of his piety. The abbey was most richly en-
dowed, and all the land for one league
round about was annexed to the Battle fran-
chise. The abbot was freed from the au-
thority of the Metropolitan of Canterbury,
and invested with archiepiscopal jurisdic-
tion. The high-altar was erected on the
very spot where Harold's standard had
waved ; and the roll, deposited in the ar-
chives of the monastery, recorded the names
of those who had fought with the Conqueror,
and amongst whom the lands of broad Eng-
land were divided. But all the pomp and
solemnity has passed away like a dream.
The " perpetual prayer " has ceased for
ever the roll of Battle is rent. The shields
of the Norman lineages are trodden in the
dust the abbey is levelled with the ground
and a dank and reedy pool fills the spot
where the foundations of the choir have
been uncovered, merely for the gaze of the

idle visitor, or the instruction of the moping


First-love will with the heart remain

When its hopes are all gone by ;
As frail rose-blossoms still retain

Their fragrance when they die :
And joy's first dreams will haunt the mind

With the shades 'mid which they sprung,
As summer leaves the stems behind

On which spring's blossoms hung.

Mary, I dare not call thee dear,

I' ve lost that right so long ;
Yet once again I vex thine ear

With memory's idle song.
I felt a pride to name thy name,

But now that pride hath flown,
And burning blushes speak my shame,

That thus I love thee on.

How loath to part, how fond to meet,

Had we two used to be ;
At sunset, with what eager feet

I hastened unto thee !
Scarce nine days passed us ere we met

In spring, nay, wintry weather ;
Now nine years' suns have risen and set,

Nor found us once together.

Thy face was so familiar grown,

Thyself so often nigh,
A moment's memory when alone,

Would bring thee in mine eye ;
But now my very dreams forget

That witching look to trace ;
Though there thy beauty lingers yet,

It wears a stranger's face.

When last that gentle cheek I prest,

And heard thee feign adieu,
I little thought that seeming jest

Would prove a word so true 1
A fate like this hath oft befell

Even loftier hopes than ours ;
Spring bids full many buds to swell,

That ne'er can grow to flowers.



published occasional poems of that description named
vert de societe, whose highest object is to gild the social


hour. They were exaggerated in compliment and adu-
lation, and wittily parodied iu the Rejected Addresses. As
a companion, Mr. Spencer was much prized by the bril-
liant circles of the metropolis ; bnt, if we may credit an
anecdote told by Rogers, he must have been heartless
and artificial. Moore wished that Spencer should bail
him when he was in custody after the affair of the duel
with Jeffrey. " Spencer did not seem much inclined to do
BO, remarking that he could not well go out, for it was
already twelve o'clock, and he had to be dressed by four."
Spencer, falling into pecuniary difficulties, removed to
Paris, where he died. His poems were collected and
published in 1835. Mr. Spencer translated the Leonora
of Burger with great success, and in a vein of similar
excellence composed some original ballads, one of which,
marked by simplicity and pathos, we subjoin :

The spearmen heard the bugle sound,

And cheerily smiled the morn ;
And many a brach, and many a hound,

Obeyed Llewelyn's horn.

And etill he blew a louder blast,

And gave a lustier cheer :
" Come, Gelert, come, wert never last

Llewelyn's horn to hear.

"Oh, where doth faithful Gelert roam,

The flower of all his race ;
So true, so brave a lamb at home,

A lion in the chase ?"

'Twas only at Llewelyn's board

The faithful Gelert fed ;
He watched, he served, he cheered his lord,

And sentinelled his bed.

In sooth he was a peerless hound,

The gift of royal John :
But now no Gelert could be found,

And all the chase rode on.

And now, as o'er the rocks and dells

The gallant eludings rise,
All Snowdon's craggy chaos yells

The many-mingled cries !

That day Llewelyn little loved
The chase of hart and hare ;

And scant and small the bounty proved,
For Gelert was not there.

Unpleased, Llewelyn homeward hied,

When, near the portal seat,
His truant Gelert he espied,

Bounding his lord to greet.

But when he gained his castle-door,

Aghast the chieftain stood ;
The hound all o' er was smeared with gore ;

His lips, his fangs, ran blood.

Llewelyn gazed with fierce surprise ;

Unused such looks to meet,
His favourite checked his joyful guise,

And crouched, and licked his feet.

Onward, in haste, Llewelyn passed,

And on went Gelert too ;
And still, where'er his eyes he cast,

Fresh blood-gouts shocked his view.

O'erturned his infant's bed he found,
With blood-stained covert rent ;

And all around, the walls and ground
With recent blood besprent.

He called his child no voice replied

He searched with terror wild ;
Blood, blood he found on every side,

But nowhere found his child.

" Hell-hound ! my child's by thee devoured,' 1

The frantic father cried ;
And to the hilt his vengeful sword

He plunged in Gelert' s side.

His suppliant looks, as prone he fell,

No pity could impart ;
But still his Gelert' s dying yell

Passed heavy o'er his heart.

Aroused by Gelert' s dying yell,
Some slumberer wakened nigh :

What words the parent's joy could tell
To hear his infant's cry !

Concealed beneath a tumbled heap
His hurried search had missed,

All glowing from his rosy sleep,
The cherub boy he kissed.

Nor scathe had he, nor harm, nor dread,

But, the same couch beneath,
Lay a gaunt wolf, all torn and dead,

Tremendous still in death.

Ah, what was then Llewelyn's pain !

For now the truth was clear ;
His gallant hound the wolf had slain

To save Llewelyn's heir.

Vain, vain was all Lewellyn's woe ;

" Best of thy kind, adieu !
The frantic blow which laid thee low

This heart shall ever rue."



And now a gallant tomb they raise,
With costly sculpture decked ;

And marbles storied with his praise
Poor Gelert's bones protect.

There, never could the spearman pass,

Or forester unmoved ;
There, oft the tear-besprinkled grass

Llewelyn's sorroW proved.

And there he hung his horn and spear,

And there, as evening fell,
In fancy's ear he oft would hear

Poor Gelert's dying yell.

And, till great Snowdon's rocks grow old,
And cease the storm to brave,

The consecrated spot shall hold
The name of " Gelert's Grave."


Too late I stayed forgive the crime ;

Unheeded flew the hours ;
How noiseless falls the foot of Time,

That only treads on flowers !

What eye with clear account remarks

The ebbing of the glass,
Vfhen all its sands are diamond sparks,

That dazzle as they pass !

Oh, who to sober measurement
Time's happy swiftness brings,

When birds of Paradise have lent
Their plumage for his wings.


When midnight o'er the moonless skies
Her pall of transient death has spread,

When mortals sleep, when spectres rise,
And nought is wakeful but the dead ;

No bloodless shape my way pursues,
No sheeted ghost my couch annoys ;

Visions more sad my fancy views,
Visions of long-departed joys !

The shade of youthful hope is there,
That lingered long, and latest died ;

Ambition all dissolved to air,

With phantom honours by his side.

What empty shadows glimmer nigh ?

They once were Friendship, Truth, and Love!
Oh, die to thought, to memory die,

Since lifeless to my heart ye prove !

These last two verses, Sir Walter Scott,
who knew and esteemed Spencer, quotes in
his diary, terming them fine lines," and
expressive of his own feelings amidst the
wreck and desolation of his fortunes at


[ ROBERT BARNABAS BUOUGH, born in the City of Lon-
don, 10th April, 1828. Spent the early years of his life
in Liverpool and Manchester. Afterwards went to Lon-
don, where his genius was speedily acknowledged. His
writings, published in a collected form, are widely read.
Died at Manchester, 2Gth June, 1880.]

GODIVA, not for countless tomes
Of war's and kingcraft's leaden history,

Would I thy charming legend lose,

Or view it in the bloodless huea
Of fabled myth or mystery.

Thou tiny pearl of demagogues !

Thou blue-eyed rebel blushing traitor f
Thou sans-culotte, with dimpled toes,
Whoso red cap is an opening rose

Thou trembling agitator !

We must believe in thce. Our ranks

Of champions loom with faces grimy
Fierce Tylers, from the anvil torn,
Rough-chested Tells, with palms of horn,
Foul Cades, from ditches slimy !

Knit brows, fierce eyes, and sunken chocks

Fill up the vista stern and shady ;
Our one bright speck wo cannot spara,
Our regiment's sole vivandiiiro

Our little dainty lady !

No, she was true! the story oM

As any crumbling.Saxon castle,
Firm at its base : she lived, and moved,
And breathed, and all around her 1 uved

Lord, lackey, hound, and vassul.

She loved the Earl Leofrlc, her lord,
Nor cared with his fierce moods to wrestle,

]5y prntest more than eyelids rod.

Would he but pat her golden head,
'Twould in his rudo breast nestle.



She loved the palfrey, o'er th? plain
That galloped to her voice's chi-.rup ;

His surly grooms she thought were kind ;

Noble and true she deemed th<; hind
Who, cringing, held her stirrup.

The peacocks on the lawn she loved

But none the less their homely grey mates.

The kennel yelped as near she drew ;

A crippled, ugly cur or two
Were her especial playmates.

She loved all things beneath the sun.

Into the toad's bright eyes, unstr.rtled,
She laughing gazed. Within the brake
She'd wonder " Had she hurt the snake

That out upon her dai tied ?"

Into the peasant's tree-built hut,
With reeking walls and greasy tables,

She loved to run fur draughts of milk ;

The children mauled her robe of silk,
And pulled to bits her sables.

They made her sad ; she loved them all
Each lout a friend, each drab a sister.

Why praise her beauty goodness so ?

Why, when she loft them, bow so low?
None of them ever kissed her.

Within the town 'twas worse than all ;

Where anvil clanked, and furnace rumbled ;
There workmen, starved and trampled, met,
Thought, talked, and planned a churlish set :

Embittered no whit humbled.

They railed at her their tyrant's bride,

When, like a mouse, she peeped among them ;
They met her frightened smiles with " Go ! "
Her bungling proffered love with " No ! "
What had she done to wrong them ?

For wronged they were, she felt it soro

Else, whence such faces wan and gloomy ?
In emoke, and filth, and discontent,
Why thousands, thus in alleys pent ;
And earth so rich and roomy?

She could not tell. But she would give

Her soul, the people's wrongs to lighten ;
Or if she might not, in, their smoke,
Would they but let her, with them choke,
Nor off with rude words frighten.

What could she do ? Dark r.:mours came
That 'twas the earl, her lord and master,

Caused all their wrong. Alas ! the day ;

She loved him, too. What means essay
The double.-f.4J disaster

To turn aside ? The moment came ;

The town, new taxed, moaned fierce and sadly :
" How free them from this tax ? " said she ;
" Ride naked through the town," laughed he.

"I will," she answered, "gladly."

And gladly to her bower she fled,
This more than virgin, gaily singing;

And stripped a form, that morn had blushed

All over, by a rude fly brushed,
Her garden-bath o'erwinging.

And gladly on her palfrey sprung,

That quick the echoing stones awaked.
" They will be freed," she sang, " and ho
Shall know no harm." Rose-red went she,
That she was proud, not naked.

She galloped through the glaring street

'Tis true as written gospel holy.
'Tis also true, thank God ! that all
Tha meanest mean, the smallest small

The vilest of the lowly

Kept within doors . . . save one alone,

And here, I own, my faith gets weaker.
'Tis said, a rascal from behind
A shutter peeped, and God struck blind
The soulless, prying sneaker.

I would not have a miracle

Bring doubt upon my darling story ;
God does not thus avenge the true,
But leaves their wrongs to me and you,
To right them in their glory.

Punished the miscreant was, no doubt,
Indignantly with pump and gutter ;
But he who, of enslaved mankind
The martyr pure could mock, was blind
Ere he undid the shutter 1


[LUDWIO TIECK, a German poet and critic (1773-1853)
began his long literary life with a series of romances,
lie lived in Dresden from 1819 to 1840, when he was in-
vited to Berlin, and pensioned by the king of Prussia.
Ho wrote dramas, poems, and four volumes of critical
works, full of acuteness and knowledge. His transla-
tion of Don Quixote, and his " Shakespeare Vorschule,"
added much to his fame. He belongs distinctly to the
Romantic school in poetry.]

Look all around thee ! How the spring advances I
Xew life is playing through the gay, green trees;

See how, in yonder bower, the light leaf dances
To the bird's tread, and to the quivering breeze !


How every blossom in the sunlight glances !

The winter-frost to his dark cavern flees,
And earth, warm-wakened, feels through every vein
The kindling influence of the vernal rain.

Now silvery streamlets, from the mountain stealing,
Dance joyously the verdant vales along ;

Cold fear no more the songster's tongue is stealing ;
Down in the thick, dark grove is heard his song ;

And, all their bright and lovely hues revealing,
A thousand plants the field and forest throng ;

Light comes upon the earth in radiant showers,

And mingling rainbows play among the flowers.


[JOHANN LUDWIQ UilLAXD, a German poet, born at
Tubingen, 1787, died there 1862, where he was pro-
fessjr of th? German language and literatu.-e. Ilij
ballads and lyrical poems placed him at the head of the
Suabiau school of poets.]

The shepherd of che Alps am I,
The castles far beneath me lie ;
Here first the rud-Jy sunlight gleams,
Here linger last the parting beams.
The mountain boy am I !

Here is the river's fountain-head,
I drink it from its stony bed .
As forth it leaps with joyous shout,
I seize it, ere it gushes out.
The mountain boy am I !

The mountain is my own domain ;
It calls its storms from sea and plain :
From north to south they howl afar ;
My voice is heard amid their war.
The mountain boy am I !

And when the tocsin sounds alarms,
And mountain bale-fires call to arms,
Then I descend, I join my king,
My sword I wave, my lay I sing.
The mountain boy am I !

The lightnings far beneath me lie ;
High stand I here in clear blue sky;
I know them, and to them I call ;
In quiet leave my father's hall.
The mountain boy am 1 1


Many a year is in its grave,
Since I crossed this restless wave ;
And the evening, fair as ever,
Shines on ruin, rock, and river.

Then in this same boat beside
Sat two comrades old and tried,
One with all a father's truth,
One with all the fire of youth.

One on earth in silence wrought,
And his grave in silence sought ;
But the younger, brighter form
Passed in battle and in storm.

So, whene'er I turn my eye
Back upon the days gone by,
Saddening thoughts of friends come o'er me,
Friends that closed their course before me.

But what binds us, friend to friend,
But that soul with soul can blend 1
Soul-like were those hours of yore ;
Let us walk in soul once more.

Take, boatman, thrice thy fee,

Take, I give it willingly ;

For, invisible to thee,

Spirits twain have crossed with me.

Johann Ludivig Uhland.


[FR[FI>EICH RUCKERT, one of the finest Gerirtf.j; lyrical
poets (1789-18G6), became an accomplished Oriental
scholar and professor of Eastern languages at Erlangen,
afterwards residing at Berlin. His translations from the
Persian and Arabic are very fine, and his original poems
are distinguished by power and sweetness],

How bird-like o'er the flakes of snow
, Its fairy footsteps flew !

And on its soft and childish brow
How delicate the hue !

And expectation wings its feet,

And stirs its infant smile ;
The merry bells their chimes repeat ;

The child stands still the while.

Then clasps in joy its little hand ;

Then marks the Christian dome ;
The stranger child, in strangar land,

Feels now as if at home.

It runs along the sparkling ground ;

Its face with gladness beams ;
It frolics in the blaze around,

Which from each window gleams.

The shadows dance upon the wall,

Reflected from the trees ;
And from the branches, green and tall.

The glittering gifts it sees.



It views within the lighted hall
The charm of social love ;

0, what a joyous festival !
' T is sanctioned from above.

But now the childish heart 'a unstrung:
" Where is my taper's light?
And why no evergreen been hung
With toys for me to-night ?

" In my sweet home there was a band

Of holy love for me ;
A mother's kind and tender hand
Once decked my Christmas-tree.

"0, someone take me 'neath the blaze

Of those light tapers, do !
And, children, I can feel the plays ;

Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 31 of 75)