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Richard, Earl of Clare. The original name of this Strongbow was Tonnebruge, a name which fhows his Danish origin, Dannebrog being the great Danish standard. This Richard Tonnebruge, therefore, was doubtlefs defcended from a ftout northman, the standard-bearer of the Dannebrog, when the northmen seized Normandy. In the Norman transmigration the name had been corrupted into Tonnebruge, and in England foon became further corrupted into Strongbow. These Strongbows were fine fellows. Richard, the grandson of the original Richard, conquered Ireland, and married the daughter of Dermot, king of Leinster, and held Dublin, making over, however, his conquests to king Henry II. of England. His daughter Isabella married William, Marshal of England, and founded the illustrious family of the Earls of Pembroke. The husband of Isabel Strongbow, the first Earl of Pembroke, was one of the greatest men that England has produced. Dugdale fays of him,-"This illuftrious peer was the greatest warrior in a period of warfare, and the most loyal subject in an age of rebellion by the united influence of wisdom and valour he supported the tottering crown of king John, broke the confederacy of the barons, who had fworn allegiance to Louis, dauphin of France, drove away the foreign ufurper, fixed Henry III. on the throne of his ancestors, and gave peace to his distracted country."
And all this is moft true. For though it has suited our historians to go on affirming and re-affirming the tale that the barons won the Magna Charta from king John at Runnymede; and though, like parrots, we go on talking of "the barons of Runnymede," and of their winning Magna Charta ; the truth is that they never did win Magna Charta, and that the charter of king John never was our Magna Charta, but the True, the barons forced John to fign a
charter of Henry III.
charter at Runnymede, but John well knew that, by all the laws of nations, a thing obtained by force is not a valid thing : therefore, no fooner was the charter signed than he repudiated it: and the barons, knowing quite as well that a forced contract thus repudiated was no contract at all, took up arms to compel him again to acknowledge their charter. But, so far from this, John, backed by the brave Earl of Pembroke, resisted, and beat the barons at every point. What then did these same much-lauded barons? They did a most shameful and unpatriotic deed. They offered the crown of England to Louis, dauphin of France, which, had he obtained it, would have reduced this country for ever to a mere province of France. But John beat both the barons and their king Louis of France: and when John died, there was found in his pocket, fays Carte the historian, a letter figned by forty of these barons, offering to refign all queftion of the charter, if he would restore them again to their titles and estates. Neither living nor dying, however, did John do this, but treated the barons as traitors.
When he was dead, the brave feamen of Dover, putting Hugh de Burgh at their head, and the brave archers of England, putting William de Collingham at their head, determined to settle the matter with the barons, and drive away their French king. At this time Louis and the barons held London and the south of England, and were powerfully supported by the King of Scots in the north, and the Prince of Wales in the weft; but the freemen of England, the failors and archers, beat them all, and compelled the Dauphin to flee into his ships at the mouth of the Thames. They deftroyed all his ships except fifteen, with which he got him away. And then, these freemen of England having faved England from a French as well as a Norman invasion, marched up to London, and com
pelled the king to grant them a new and better charter than that of John. The king, Henry III., was but a boy of ten years old, but this brave Earl of Pembroke was his guardian and regent of the kingdom, and by his advice Henry granted a new charter, containing a new clause, ordering the demolition of every caftle built or rebuilt during the wars of the barons. This charter was not now figned in the presence of the king and the barons only, but in that of the king and the united parliament; for the reprefentatives of the burghs are expreffly mentioned as fitting in the parliament of 1265. Befides the Great Charter, the people now demanded and obtained the Charter of the Foreft-a mighty boon, by which all the forests enclosed fince the days of Henry II. were thrown open, and the deadly foreft laws were deprived of their bloody and capital power. This is the true story of the Great Charter of England, as related by Matthew Paris, Rhymer, Carte, and other historians, not won by rebellious and traitorous barons, who would have fold us for ever to France, but by the people of England themselves, who should not allow themselves to be lightly defrauded of their glory. This is what Dugdale means by saying that the brave Pembroke "broke the confederacy of the barons, who had fworn allegiance to Louis, dauphin of France, and drove away the foreign ufurper." The great men of Dugdale's time knew what was our true hiftory, and would not allow it to be falfified: and Blackstone in his "Commentaries," and in his "Effay on Magna Charta” fully fubftantiates these great facts, and says that the charter of John never was our charter, but the far better charter of Henry III.;—that we had other and better charters than John's, both before and after his time, and that his charter, which never became the charter of the realm, would never have been heard of but for his war against the barons.
My ftout and infeparable friend was greatly amazed at this revelation that the charter of Runnymede was of no more value than a bill drawn on a party who difhonours it; but I said, “Think of that and talk of that at home, but now call to mind that extraordinary men have been prisoners within these walls. Here the good and learned bishop, Jeremy Taylor, was incarcerated in 1656, on a charge of being privy to an infurrection of the royalists. And here," I faid, “in the south-eastern extremity of the first court, you see the tower still called Henry Marten's Tower, where Marten, one of the regicides, was confined. This was one of the most determined republicans of his time. He was the friend of Harrington, Sydney, Wildman, Neville, and other men who had imbibed all the republican ideas of ancient Greece and Rome. He it was who, walking between the Parliament House and Westminster with Mr. Hyde, afterwards the famous Lord Chancellor Clarendon, long before the civil war, startled him by saying, “I do not think one man wife enough to govern us all!" He was the right-hand man of Cromwell, till Cromwell himself aimed at sovereign power. He it was who, when the high court of justice appointed to try Charles I. were puzzled on what authority they should try him, rofe and faid, "In the names of the commons and parliament affembled, and of all the good people of England." And when Charles himself demanded on what authority they prefumed to try him, he was answered in those words. He would have been executed with the rest of the regicides, but for his latter oppofition to Cromwell. On that account his punishment was commuted to perpetual imprisonment.
Marten was a prisoner in this tower twenty years, but his imprisonment was by no means rigorous. His wife was permitted to refide with him; he had the full enjoyment of his
property, which was large, and was allowed to receive vifits, and to pay vifits, in company with a guard, to the neighbouring gentry, especially to a Mr. H. Pierre, at whose house a fine portrait of him was preserved.
CHEPSTOW, MARTEN'S TOWER.
Southey in his early and democratic poems drew a most gloomy and exaggerated picture of Marten's imprisonment here: