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citizens, whom the devastations of war, and Stephen's exactions had reduced to such a state of distress that they were in immediate fear of a famine, implored the queen to have pity on them, and to delay the imposition of fresh taxes, until they were relieved from their present misery. “The king has left us nothing," the deputies of the citizens said to her in a submissive tone. “I understand," replied the daughter of Henry I., with a disdainful air, “you have given all to my adversary, you have conspired with him against me, and you expect me to spare you." The citizens of London being forced to pay the tax, took this opportunity of making a humble request to the queen.“ Restore to us,” was their demand, “ the good laws of thy great uncle, Edward, in the place of those of thy father, king Henry, which are bad and too harsh for us.” But, as though she were ashamed of her maternal ancestors, and had abjured her Saxon descent, Matilda was enraged at this request, treated those who had thus dared to address as if they had been guilty of the greatest insolence, and uttered terrible menaces against them. Wounded to the depths of the heart, but dissembling their vexation, the citizens returned to their hall of council, where the Normans, less suspicious than formerly, now allowed them to assemble, to arrange between themselves, by common accord, the sharing of the taxes ; for the government had adopted the custom of levying a general tax on each town, without troubling themselves as to the mode in which the demand was met by individual contributors.

Queen Matilda was awaiting in full security, either in the Conqueror's tower, or in William Rufus's palace, at Westminster, the return of the citizen's deputies, to offer her on their knees the sacks of gold that she had demanded from them, when suddenly the bells of the town sounded an alarm, and the streets and squares were filled with crowds of people. From each house sallied a man armed with the first warlike instrument on which he could lay his hand. An ancient writer compares the multitude which tumultuously gathered together, to bees issuing from the bive. The queen and her Norman and Angevin men-at-arms, seeing themselves surrounded, and not daring to risk, in the narrow crooked streets, a conflict in which superiority of arms and military science could be of no use to them, quickly mounted horse and fled. They had scarcely passed the last houses in the suburb, when a troop of English hastened to the apartments which they had inhabited, forced open the doors, and not finding them there, plundered all that they had left. The queen galloped towards Oxford, with her barons and knights; who at intervals detached themselves, one by one, from the cortège, to make their escape with greater safety, alone, by cross-roads, and by-ways ; Matilda entered Oxford, accompanied by her brother, the Earl of Gloucester, and the small number of those who had found this road the most convenient for themselves, or who had overlooked their own safety in consideration for hers.

In fact, there was little danger; for the inhabitants of London, satisfied with having chased the new queen of England from their walls, did not attempt to pursue her. Their insurrection, the result of an outbreak of indignation, with no previously concerted plan, and unconnected with any other movement, was not the first step of a national insurrection. The expulsion of Matilda and her adherents, did not turn to the advantage of the English people, but to that of Stephen's partisans. The latter quickly re-entered London, occupied the city, and filled it with their troops, under the pretence of an alliance with the citizens. The wife of the captive king repaired to London, and took up her quarters there ; and all that the citizens then gained was the privilege of enlisting to the number of a thousand men with casques and hauberks, among the troops that assembled in the name of Stephen of Blois, and of serving as auxiliaries of the Normans under William and Roger de la Chesnage.

The bishop of Winchester, seeing his brother's party regaining some strength, deserted the opposite side, and declared again for the prisoner at Bristol ; he set up Stephen's banner on Windsor Castle, and on his episcopal residence, which he had fortified and embattled like a castle. Robert of Gloucester and the partisans of Matilda came and laid siege to it. The garrison of the castle, built in the middle of the town, set fire to the houses to annoy the besiegers; and, at the same time, the army of London, attacking them unawares, obliged them to take refuge in the churches, which were then set fire to, in order to drive them out. Robert of Gloucester was taken prisoner, and his followers dispersed. Barons and knights, throwing away their arms, and marching on foot, in order not to be recognised, traversed the towns and villages under false names. But besides the partisans of the king, who pressed them closely, they encountered other enemies on their road, the Saxon peasants and serfs, who were as remorseless to them in their defeat as they had formerly been to the opposite faction. They arrested the progress of these proud Normans, who, in spite of their attempts at disguise, were betrayed by their language, and drove them along with whips. The bishop of Canterbury, some other bishops, and numbers of great lords were maltreated in this manner, and stripped of their clothing. Thus this war was to the English a cause both of misery and of joy, of that frantic joy which is experienced, in the midst of suffering, by rendering evil for evil. The grand-son of a man slain at Hastings would feel a moment's pleasure when he found the life of a Norman in his power, and the Englishwomen, who had plied the distaff in the service of the high Norman ladies, joyfully recounted the story of the sufferings of queen Matilda on her departure from Oxford : how she fled, accompanied only by three men-at-arms, in the night, on foot, through the snow, and how she had passed, in great alarm, close to the enemy's posts, hearing the voice of the sentinels, and the sound of the military signals.



KEATS. “As soon as Keats had finished Otho,' Mr. Brown suggested to him the character and reign of King Stephen, beginning with his defeat by the Empress Maud, and ending with the death of his son Eustace, as a fine subject for an English historical tragedy. This Keats undertook, assuming to himself, however, the whole conduct of the drama, and wrote some hundred and thirty lines."

Moncton Milnes's Life of Keats.
SCENE I. Field of Battle.
Alarum. Enter King Stephen, Knights, and Soldiers.
Stephen. If shame can on a soldier's vein-swoll'n front
Spread deeper crimson than the battle's toil,
Blush in your casing helmets ! for see, see !
Yonder my chivalry, my pride of war,
Wrench'd with an iron hand from firm array,
Are routed loose upon the plashy meads,
Of honour forfeit. O, that my known voice
Could reach your dastard ears, and fright you more !
Fly, cowards, fly! Glocester is at your backs!
Throw your slack bridles o'er the flurried manes,
Ply well the rowel with faint trembling heels,
Scampering to death at last !
First Knight.

The enemy
Bears his flaunt standard close upon their rear.

Second Knight. Sure of a bloody prey, seeing the fens
Will swamp them girth-deep.

Over head and ears,
No matter ! 'Tis a gallant enemy ;
How like a comet he goes streaming on.
But we must plague him in the flank,-hey, friends ?
We are well breath'd,—follow !

Enter Earl Baldwin and Soldiers, as defeated.

De Redvers!
What is the monstrous bugbear that can fright
Baldwin ?

Baldwin. No scare-crow, but the fortunate star
Of boisterous Chester, whose fell truncheon now
Points level to the goal of victory.
This way he comes, and if you would maintain
Your person unaffronted by vile odds,
Take horse, my lord.

And which way spur for life?
Now I thank Heaven I am in the toils,
That soldiers may bear witness how my arm
Can burst the meshes. Not the eagle more
Loves to beat up against a tyrannous blast,
Than I to meet the torrent of my foes.
This is a brag,--be 't so,—but if I fall
Carve it upon my scutcheon'd sepulchre.
On, fellow soldiers ! Earl of Redvers, back
Not twenty Earls of Chester shall brow-beat
The diadem.

[E.reunt. Alarum. SCENE II. Another part of the Field. Trumpets sounding a Victory. Enter Glocester, Knights, and Forces.

Glocester. Now may we lift our bruised visors up,
And take the flattering freshness of the air,
While the wide din of battle dies away
Into times past, yet to be echoed sure
In the silent pages of our chroniclers.

First Knight. Will Stephen's death be mark'd there, my good lord,
Or that we gave him lodging in yon towers ?
Glocester. Fain would I know the great usurper's fate.

Enter two Captains severally.
First Captain. My lord !
Second Captain. Most noble earl !
First Captain. The king-
Second Captain. The empress greets-
Glocester. What of the king ?
First Captain.

He sole and lone maintains
A hopeless bustle ʼmid our swarming arms,
And with a nimble savageness attacks,
Escapes, makes fiercer onset, then anew
Eludes death, giving death to most that dare
Trespass within the circuit of his sword !
He must by this have fallen. Baldwin is taken ;

And for the Duke of Bretagne, like a stag
He flies, for the Welsh beagles to hunt down.
God save the Empress !

Now our dreaded queen:
What message from her Highness ?
Second Captain.

Royal Maud
From the throng'd towers of Lincoln hath look'd down,
Like Pallas from the walls of Ilion,
And seen her enemies havock'd at her feet.
She greets most noble Glocester from her heart,
Intreating him, his captains, and brave knights,
To grace a banquet. The high city gates
Are envious which shall see your triumph pass ;
The streets are full of music.

Enter Second Knight.

Whence come you ? Second Knight. From Stephen, my good prince, Stephen ! Stephen !

Glocester. Why do you made such echoing of his name?

Second Knight. Because I think, my lord, he is no man,
But a fierce demon, 'nointed safe from wounds,
And misbaptised with a Christian name.

Glocester. A mighty soldier !-Does he still hold out ?

Second Knight. He shames our victory. His valour still
Keeps elbow-room amid our eager swords,
And holds our bladed falchions all aloof
His gleaming battle-axe being slaughter-sick,
Smote on the morion of a Flemish knight,
Broke short in his hand ; upon the which he flung
The heft away with such a vengeful force,
It paunch'd the Earl of Chester's horse, who then
Spleen-hearted came in full career at him.

Glocester. Did no one take him at a vantage then ?

Second Knight. Three then with tiger leap upon him flew,
Whom, with his sword swift-drawn and nimbly held,
He stung away again, and stood to breathe,
Smiling. Anon upon him rush'd once more
A throng of foes, and in this renew'd strife,
My sword met his and spapp'd off at the hilt.

Glocester. Come, lead me to this man—and let us move
In silence, pot insulting his sad doom
With clamorous trumpets. To the Empress bear
My salutation as befits the time.

Exeunt Glocester and Forces.
SCENE III. The Field of Battle.

Enter Stephen unarmed.
Stephen. Another sword! And what if I could seize
One from Bellona's gleaming armoury,
Or choose the fairest of her sheaved spears !
Where are my enemies? Here, close at hand,
Here come the testy brood. O, for a sword !

I'm faint-a biting sword! A noble sword !
A hedge-stake-or a ponderous stone to hurl
With brawny vengeance, like the labourer Cain.
Come on! Farewell my kingdom, and all hail
Thou superb, plumed, and helmeted renown,
All hail—I would not truck this brilliant day
To rule in Pylos with a Nestor's beard-
Come on!

Enter De Kaims and Knights, &c.
De Kaims. Is't madness or a hunger after death
That makes thee thus unarm'd throw taunts at us
Yield, Stephen, or my sword's point dips in
The gloomy current of a traitor's heart.

Stephen. Do it, De Kaims, I will not budge an inch.
De Kaims. Yes, of thy madness thou shalt take the meed.
Stephen. Darest thou ?
De Kaims.

How dare, against a man disarm'd ?
Stephen. What weapons has the lion but himself ?
Come not near me, De Kaims, or by the price
Of all the glory I have won this day,
Being a king, I will not yield alive
To any but the second man of the realm,
Robert of Glocester.

De Kaims. Thou shalt vail to me.

Stephen. Shall I, when I have sworn against it, sir ?
Thou think’st it brave to take a breathing king,
That, on a court-day bow'd to haughty Maud,
The awed presence-chamber may be bold
To whisper, there's the man who took alive
Stephen-me-prisoner. Certes, De Kaims,
The ambition is a noble one.

De Kaims.
And, Stephen, I must compass it.

Do not tempt me to throttle you on the gorge,
Or with my gauntlet crush your hollow breast,
Just when your knighthood is grown ripe and full
For lordship.

A Soldier. Is an honest yeoman's spear
Of no use at a need ? Take that.

Ah, dastard !
De Kaims. What, you are vulnerable ! my prisoner

Stephen. No, not yet. I disclaim it, and demand
Death as a sovereign right unto a king
Who 'sdains to yield to any but his peer,
If not in title, yet in noble deeds,
The Earl of Glocester Stab to the hilt, De Kaims,
For I will never by mean hands be led
From this so famous field. Do you hear! Be quick!

Trumpets. Enter the Earl of Chester and Knights.

'Tis true,

No, no,

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