Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

even usual English; and our laws and language being not only thus laudable, but also congenite, and appropriate to our name and nation, were most essential parts of our honour, and no less dear unto us, and that worthily, than our blood, and so the pleasant subjects of our delight and study; as also our princes and nobility, being no less naturally our own, were the just objects of our zeal and affection, as was testified in that title of the Prince Edgar Atheling, who was stiled England's darling, for his blood's sake, and in opposition to the Norman.

And is it then suitable to the dignity, or tolerable to the spirit of this our nation, that, after so noble an extraction and descent, such honourable atchievements performed, so much done and suffered for our liberty and honour, against the most mighty of monarchs, and puissant nations; and, after such privileges conferred on us from heaven, we should have our spirits so broken, and un-teutonised, by one unfortunate battle, as for above five hundred years together, and even for eternity, not only to remain, but contentedly to rest under the disgraceful title of a conquered nation, and in captivity and vassalage to a foreign power

Siccine in antiquam virtutem animosque viriles
Et pater Æneas & avunculus excitat Hector?

a

Did our ancestors, therefore, shake off the Roman yoke, with the slaughter of their legions, and, during the whole age of that empire, as Tacitus confesseth, resist the puissance thereof, that the honour and freedom of their blood might be reserved for an untainted prey to a fu. ture conqueror? Could not they endure the sight of a Cæsarian trophy, set up by Germanicus in their land? And can we not only endure, but embrace the title and ensigns of a conquest over us, that even still triumphs in our land, in her full insolence, while we can turn our eyes and meditations no where about us, but we meet with some object that reproacheth us as captives. If we address a look toward our laws, they still scorn to speak otherwise, than in the conqueror's language, and are (if Master Daniel and others write true) for the most part, his introductions, shutting up the remaining liberties of our nation, under the name and notion of franchises, as if we were no further to be accounted free, than infranchised, that is, adopted into the quality of Frenchmen, or made denizens of France, whereby, the first point, that occurs to the reader of our laws, is our shame. If we survey our language, we there meet with so much tincture of Normanism, that some have esteemed it for a dialect of the Gallick. If we contemplate the heraldry and titles of our nobility, there is scarce any other matter than inventories of foreign villages, that speak them to be pot of English blood; but tell us, as their ancestors sometimes told King John, that their progenitors conquered this land by the sword. And, lastly, if we but hear the royal title rehearsed, we hear it likewise attended with a post conquestum; so that we cannot move with our senses, but we hear the chains of our captivity rattle, and are put in mind that we are slaves. Vinci humanum est, no people but may be overcome;

that

may be born withal; but sub victoria acquiescere, for so many hundred years

together, and in a so long continued possibility of excusing dishonour, and regaining liberty; to sit, as it were, snoaring in a captive and ser• vile condition, and to be fed with the bread of captivity, were more proper to an Asiatick nation (those natis ad servitutem, as Tully calls them) than to one of Europe, and to any European, than a Teutonick, and indeed to tame creatures and cattle, than to those that profess them. selves free-born men.

But let us a little reflect upon the nature and quality of these conquerors, with their conquest over us, perhaps, they may be such, as, for their dignity, may say unto our nation, as that hero in the poet:

Solamen habeto
Mortis, ab Æmonio quod sis jugulatus Achille.

And their domination over us such, as against the right and equity whereof there is no pleading: But, alas ! what was that tenth worthy, whom we are not ashamed even still to sirname our conqueror, but a Norman bastard, as a Scottish writer well terms him, or, at best, a vassal-duke of a French province; and what his Argyraspides, his gallant followers the Normans, but a people compacted of the Norwegians and Neustrians, that is, of the off-scowering and dro;s of the Teutonick and Gallick nations, whose ambitious leader, upon a pretence of a various title to this crown, intruding upon us in a time of disadvantage, and being thereupon put to try it out by the sword with his then usurping competitor, by subtlety, not valour, obtained the hand over him, and so, as legatee and kinsman of St. Edward, the last rightful English King, and, upon his specious and fair vows, and promises, to preserve inviolate our laws and liberties, was admitted to the throne? So that all the alteration and dishonour that followed was, by his villainous perjuriousness and treachery, introduced upon us, and that title of a conqueror was not at first, but by the flattery of succeeding times attributed to him, and hath been ever since, by our sordid treachery against our country, continued; whereas, had he assumed it at first (as was well observed by an illustrious personage of our neighbour-nation, the Scots, who are generally more sensible of our dishonour in this respect, than most of ourselves; perhaps, worthily mindful of the ancient extraction of the most and chief of their south-landers from the English blood; as he, I say, hath well observed in a late speech of his made to his majesty) he must either have come short of his ambitious ends, or have sought after a new people to have exercised his title upon, so odious at that time was the title of a conquered nation to our ancestors.

But admit it were so, that he won this land by the sword, as he and his followers afterwards buasted, and that he obtained such a disma! victory over us, as the Norman writers predicate; whereas, notwithstanding, if we may believe Æmilius Veronensis, in his French history, a more impartial writer in this cause, there was no such matter; who, taxing those Norman writers of arrogance, reports that the truth of it was, that our English soldiers, whom Harold, the usurping king, brought into the field against the Normans, were no less displeased

a

with him, than with his adversaries; and that they only put themselves in a posture of defence, without caring to offend the enemy, and that, when, in the beginning of the battle, Harold chanced to be slain by an arrow, the controversy was presently ended, without more blood-shed, an agreement made, and the Norman admitted in respect of his claim, and upon his promises afore-mentioned; this he reports. But were it so, that our English nation was directly vanquished and conquered by the Normans, at the sound whereof every true Englishman's stomach may well rise, have not we more than once requited their nation in the like kind? how often have our armies vanquished and conquered, not only Normandy, but also France itself, whereof the other is but a vassalprovince? and why one victory of theirs over us should be of more moment and effect against us, than so many of ours against them? I see no other cause or reason, than injuriousness towards us, and retchlesness in us.

But were it so also, that the Norman race were as lawful lords, and domineered by the same right, of an absolute conquest over us, as the Turks do, at this day, over the Grecians, betwixt whose case and ours, religion excepted, there is a near affinity; will any reasonable man be so unjust, or any Englishman be so impious, as to define it for unlawful in us, to endeavour to recover our right, and lost honour and liberty? would any man be so absurd, as to stigmatize and detest it for rebellion in the Greeks, to shake off, if they were able, the Turkish yoke, and to recover from that enemy's usurpation their ancient honour, laivs, liberty, and language, that now lie overwhelmed and buried in Turcism, as ours in Normanism? Surely, we ourselves should condemn them, if they would not endeavourit, while our own laws attribute not, to the wrongful disseizer, any such right to his forceably gotten possessions, but that he may, with more right, be redisseized by the first owner, or his heirs. And indeed, it were so far from injuriousness, both in the Greeks and us, to dispossess the usurpers, that, in the mean time, we are most injurious to ourselves, our progenitors, and our posterity, while we so traiterously yield up, to those robbers, what our ancestors so dearly purchased, and preserved for us to enjoy, and afterwards to transmit, and leave to their and our name and blood, in all succeeding ages. But, in this, we are far more inexcusable than the Greeks, for that they never yet enjoyed the means of a deliverance, which we, either in a fair or forceable way, scarce ever wanted; and surely, if our right doth call, our honour doth cry out upon us, that, if our progenitors massacred the Danish garisons that usurped over them, we should not. like the Jews, ear-boared slaves, for ever serve the progeny of their subjects, the Norwegians; that we, who instead of being conquered with other nations, by Charlemain, have conquered even the French themselves, would not live captives to their vassals, the Normans; and that, since our ancestors never submitted their necks to the yoke of Rome, we should not suffer ours to be for ever wedded to one brought over from Neustria, the meanest shire of one of Rome's (anciently) captive provinces, unless, perhaps, it be more honourable for our country to be a Norman municipium, than a Roman province; to use the Norman laws, than the civil of the empire, and the Norman

language, rather than the Latin; any of which notwithstanding, thit Roman emperors, during their prevailing over some skirts of our ancient country of Germany, as Batavia, Rhætia, and the borders of the Rhine, never obtruded on our countrymen there, but desiring only, for their worth, their personal assistance in the wars, permitted them, and then only of all nations, the continuance of their own laws, language, and liberties in all things. But all these, we, their degenerate posterity, have, in a large degree, betrayed to the usurpation of a Norman colony.

But if we think we have not yet received shame enough by this Norman conquest, in being thereby stripped and spoiled of all that stock of honour, which might have descended to us from our ancestors, and of all that our nation had to take pleasure in; we want not a further degree of the same shame to consider ourselves in, that is, as we are by this pretended conquest cast into such a predicament and condition, as makes us incapable of acquiring new honour ever after, so long as we remain therein; the evidence of this we may descry in our own laws, wherein we find, that such, as are in the uature of villains, are incapable of enjoying free-hold lands, but, though they purchase never so much, it belongs alí to their lords. Should the Turks janisaries, under their master's conduct, conquer the whole world, yet could they not justly gain to themselves the name of men of honour, but only of stout and dutiful slaves; which is also illustrated by that apophthegm of Tully, who defining the way for one that would attain to highness, tunc, saith be, incipiat aliis imperare, cum suis iniquissimis dominis parere desierit ; let him first unslave himself, before he talk of getting honour in inslaving others; and therefore, though both France and Spain should be by us never so often conquered, yet could our name thereby take no true lustre, till it be cleared of this fast-sticking blemish, and that we have unconquered ourselves; but as an ill-humoured, or deformed body, is not rectified by nourishment, but finds its pravity to increase and dilate with itself, so should onr name and fame, by our atchievements, be extended to the world's, both temporal and local, ends; yet thither also would our disgrace accompany it in equal characters, and proclaiming that we are a conquered, and still captive people, quash all honour, that otherwise might accrue or adhere to us.

I should be voluminous, should I fully describe how injurious and dishonourable it is to our nation for to continue under the title and effects of this pretended conquest, being such as we see and feel even the barbarous and contemptible Irish to be more than sensible and impatient of the like, while, with so much hazard of their lives and fortunes, and, against such formidable opposition, they endeavour the excussion thereof. But I am far enough from exhorting to an imitation of their violent and horrid practice, we feel too much thereof among us, although for lighter ends; neither, I hope, is any such way needful, since we all, from the greatest to the least, profess ourselves Eng. lish, and would seem to aim at the honour of the English name, his majesty, for his part, having, by many passages, shewed himself the most indulgent patron thereof, and our nobility and commons on both sides contending, or, at least, pretending, for no other; none, I hope,

amongst us dissenting, that, if any should oppugn it, he were worthy to be proscribed and prosecuted either as a viperous malignant, or as a public adversary. So that it is but the carcase of an enemy that we have to remove out of our territories, even the carcase and bones of the Norman duke's injurious and detested perpetrations, much more meriting to be dug up, and cast out of our land, than those relicks of his body that were so unsepulchred from his grave in Caen. Let us thereforé, until we have wiped off this shame of our nation, and demolished the monuments thereof, no more talk of honour, as being a thing that we have least to do withal, but, yielding that and the glory to the Norman name, reserve unto ourselves nothing but the inheritance of shame and confusion of face; yea, let us either confess and profess ourselves for ever mere vassals and slaves, or else attempt to uncaptive ourselves, the end and scope of this whole discourse, that is, effectually, yet orderly and legally, to endeavour these following particulars:

1. That William, sirnamed the Conqueror, be stripped of that insolent title (which himself scarce ever assumed after his victory, much less pretended to before, but hath been since imposed on him hy Norman arrogance and our servile flattery), and that he be either reputed amongst our lawful kings by force of Et. Edward's legacy, or adjudged an usurper; however, that he may no longer stand for the alpha of our kings in the royal catalogue.

2. That the title to the crown be ungrounded from any pretended conquest over this nation, and that his majesty be pleased to derive his right from St. Edward's legacy, and the blood of the precedent English kings, to whom he is the undoubted heir; and that he restore the ancient English arms into the royal standard.

3. That all the Norman nobility and progeny, amongst us, repudiate their names and titles brought over from Normandy, assuming others consistible with the honour of this nation, and disclaim all right to their possessions here, as heirs and successors to any pretended conquerors.

4. That all laws and usages introduced from Normandy be, eo nomine, abolished, and a supply made from St. Edward's laws, or the civil, and that our laws be divested of their French rags, (as king James of worthy memory once royally motioned) and restored into the English or Latin tongue, unless, perhaps, it may seem honourable for Englishmen to be still in the mouth of their own laws no further free than frenchified, and that they only, of all mortal men, should imprison their laws in the language of their enemies.

5. That our language be cleared of the Norman and French invasion upon it, and depravation of it, by purging it of all words and terms of that descent, supplying it from the old Saxon and the learned tongues, and otherwise correcting it, whereby it may be advanced to the quality of an honourable and sufficient language, than which there is scarce a greater point in a nation's honour and happiness.

To which may also be added the removal of an indignity of kin to the former in quality, though not in cause, namely, the advancing of the French arms above ours in the royal standard, as if, by our ances

« ForrigeFortsæt »