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O'er the sepulchre profound
The treasure of the wondrous tomb, &c.--Henry longed to possess the spear, sword and shield of Arthur, from a superstitious belief that these relics of a hero would aid him in his warlike enterprises. This superstition was not peculiar to Henry; it seems to be common among religious princes of the Catholic faith. A similar circumstance is recorded of King Don Alphonso, the last Spanish king of that name. He sent to the tomb of the Cid, a renowned hero of Spain, for the cross which that warrior was accustomed to wear when he went to battle, and had it made into one for himself, “because of the faith which he had, that through it, (by means of some mysterious operation of it) he should obtain the victory.”
His barbed courser, &c. The horses used in European wars before the discovery of gunpowder, were sometimes defended by a harness of mail.— Barbed courser signifies a horse thus caparisoned, or arrayed.
MRS. HEMANS. This lady is among the most eminent of living writers She resides in Wales, but her poetry is exceedingly ada mired in this country. Piety, various knowledge, elegant taste, and great sweetness and power of expression, with fervent and tender affections, are the characteristics of Mrs. Hemans' poetic genius.
BURIAL OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR. Mrs. Hemans has taken the subject of these verses from Sismondi's Historie des Francais, a book not accessible to me, but the verses are in themselves so clear and picturesque, that they need little illustration.
William, the conqueror of England, was a French prince, a Duke of Normandy, and he had no humane feeling for his subjects in any part of his dominions. In England he depopulated a considerable tract of country, and caused it to remain uncultivated as a hunting ground. This was thenceforward called the New Forest. William had as little respect for the rights of his Norman as for his British subjects, when they interfered with his pleasure. He was thrown from his horse, and died in consequence, in his 64th year. He was interred at Caen: in Normandy. The circumstances of his interment are finely told by Mrs. Hemans :
"Lowly upon his bier
The royal conqueror lay,
Silent in war-array.
Crowds mutely gazing streamid,
Through mists of insence gleam'd ::
The stately priest had said
To the glory of the dead.
"By the violated hearth
Which made way for yon proud shrine, By the harvests which this earth
Hath borne to me and mine ;
ok not i es so de Ill.
a Fred umane. inions 2 of com
By the home ev'n here o'erthrown,
On my children's native spot,
Cumber our birth-place not!
· Will my sire's unransom'd field
O'er which your censers wave,
Soft slumber in the grave ?
Which we cherish'd many a year,
And heave against his bier.
The land that I have tillid,
Hath yet its brooding breast
And it shall not give him rest.
Here each proud column's bed
Where no wrong against him cries !
Shame glow'd on each dark face
Of those proud and steel-girt men,
For their leader's dust e’en then.
Whose banner flew so far!
The name, a nation's star!
From a heart which wrongs had riven-
That were but heard in Heaven?”
This scene is very impressive. While the body of William lies in one of those splendid and spacious churches called minsters or cathedrals, and vast numbers crowd into the aisles to witness the funeral ceremonywhile censers pour forth their fragrance, and lamps their streaming light upon barons and steel-girt men, assembled around their dead lord--and the requiem, or solemn hymn for the dead, resounds from the vaulted roofsas the monarch is lowered into his last bed, an injured peasant demands, in behalf of others who have suffered like oppressions with himself, that the spoiler shall not slumber there ; and in consequence of this daring and awful remonstrance, the king's attendants are obliged to purchase a grave for him in another place.
William of Normandy, among other acts of arbitrary power which he committed in England, depopulated a considerable tract of country, destroyed the villages, with the churches and enclosures, and changed a cultivated region to a wilderness, that it might serve thereafter for a hunting ground. This tract is called the New Forest. Mr. Pope, early in the eighteenth century, in his poem of Windsor Forest, describes the beauty and prosperity of that part of England in the reign of Queen Anne, and
contrasts that happy state, with the wretchedness of Britain under her former tyrants.
“Not thus the land appeard in ages past,
The lonely lords of empty wilds and woods :
Whom e'en the Saxon spar’d, and bloody Dane,