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1.- A PICTURE OF ANGLO-NORMAN DAYS.
[The following admirable piece of historico-descriptive writing forms the opening chapter of Scott's romance of Ivanhoe.]
In that pleasant 1 district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant a town of Doncaster. The remains of this extensive wood are still to be seen at the noble seats of Wentworth, of Wharncliffe Park, and around Rotherham. Here haunted of yore the fabulous Dragon of Wantley ;4 here were fought many of the most desperate battles during the Civil War of the Roses ; 5 and here also flourished in ancient times those bands of gallant outlaws, whose deeds have been rendered so popular in English song. 6
Such being our chief scene, the date of our story refers to a period towards the end of the reign of Rich
1 In that pleasant, etc. What|two factions into which the counkind of sentence, rhetorically? try was divided upheld the two
pleasant. Improve the sen- several claims to the throne put tence by substituting a synonym. forth by the house (family) of York
3 Doncaster. Locate this town. and the house of Lancaster, whose
4 Dragon of Wantley, a monster badges were the white and the red that figures in English folk-lore. rose respectively. The accession of
5 War of the Roses. A disastrous Henry VII. (1456-1509) may be said civil contest which desolated Eng- to have terminated this civil war. land during the thirty years from o outlaws... song. As the bal1455 to 1485: so called because the l lad of Robin Hood.
ard the First, when his return from his long captivity had become an event rather wished than hoped for by his despairing subjects, who were in the mean time subjected to every species of subordinate oppression.
The nobles, whose power had become exorbitant 2 during the reign of Stephen, and whom the prudence of Henry the Second 3 had scarcely reduced into some degree of subjection to the Crown, had now resumed their ancient license in its utmost extent; despising the feeble interference of the English Council of State, fortifying their castles, increasing the number of their dependents, reducing all around them to a state of vassalage,* and striving by every means in their power to place themselves each at the head of such forces as might enable him to make a figure 5 in the national convulsions which appeared to be impending.
The situation of the inferior gentry, or franklins6 as they were called, who, by the law and spirit of the English constitution, were entitled to hold themselves independent of feudal' tyranny, became now unusually precarious. If, as was most generally the case, they placed themselves under the protection of any of the petty kings in their vicinity, accepted of feudal offices in his household, or bound themselves, by mutual trea
1 Richard the First, king of Eng 8 Henry the Second, king of land during the latter part of the England from 1154 to 1189. twelfth century. He took part in 4 vassalage. See Webster. the third Crusade, on his return 5 make a figure. Explain. from which he was held prisoner 6 franklin (connected with frank by the Archduke of Austria for = free), a small landholder in old about two years.
English times. 2 exorbitant, excessive.
7 feudal. See Webster.
ties of alliance and protection, to support him in hiid enterprises, they might, indeed, purchase temporary repose;1 but it must be with the sacrifice of that independence which was so dear to every English bosom, and at the certain hazard 2 of being involved as a party in whatever rash expedition the ambition of their protector might lead him to undertake.
On the other hand, such and so multiplied were the means of vexation and oppression possessed by the great barons, that they never wanted the pretext,4 and seldom the will, to harass and pursue, even to the very edge of destruction, any of their less powerful neighbors, who attempted to separate themselves from their authority, and to trust for their protection, during the dangers of the times, to their own inoffensive conduct, and to the laws of the land.
A circumstance which greatly tended to enhance the tyranny of the nobility, and the sufferings of the inferior classes, arose from the consequences of the Norman conquest by Duke William of Normandy6 Four generations had not sufficed to blend the hostile blood of the Normans and Anglo-Saxons, or to unite, by common language and mutual interests, two hostile races, one of which still felt the elation of triumph,
1 temporary repose. Explain. 6 Duke William of Normandy. 2 hazard. Give a synonym.
This prince invaded and conquered 3 barons. Equivalent to nobles, England in 1066, and made the used in a previous paragraph. Anglo-Saxon inhabitants subject 4 pretext. See Glossary.
to the Normans, whom he brought 5 inoffensive. What is the force over in large numbers. of the prefix in? Give other ex
7 elation (literally uplifting), amples of in in composition. pride.
while the other groaned under all the consequences of defeat. The power had been completely placed in the hands of the Norman nobility, by the event of the battle of Hastings; and it had been used, as our histories assure us, with no moderate hand.
The whole race of Saxon princes and nobles had been extirpated 2 or disinherited, with few or no exceptions; nor were the numbers great who possessed land in the country of their fathers, even as proprietors of the second or of yet inferior classes. The royal policy had long been to weaken, by every means, legal or illegal, the strength of a part of the population which was justly considered as nourishing the most inveterate antipathy 4 to their victor. All the monarchs of the Norman race had shown the most marked predilections for their Norman subjects; the laws of the chase, and many others equally unknown to the milder and more free spirit of the Saxon constitution, had been fixed upon the necks? of the subjugated 8 inhabitants, to add weight as it were, to the feuda! chains with which they were loaded.
At court, and in the castles of the great nobles, where the pomp and state of a court was emulated,9 Normanties of alliance and protection, to support him in huis enterprises, they might, indeed, purchase temporary repose; but it must be with the sacrifice of that independence which was so dear to every English bosom, and at the certain hazard 2 of being involved as a party in whatever rash expedition the ambition of their protector might lead him to undertake.
1 event, result.
of this whole period, will be found 2 extirpated. Explain.
in Freeman's History of the Norman 3 illegal=not legal. The prefix Conquest. il is a form of in, meaning not. 7 iixed upon the necks. Sub
4 antipathy. Give a synonym. stitute a literal for this figurative
5 predilection, regard, favorit- expression. ism.
8 subjugated. Note how the ad6 laws of the chase. An adjective continues the figure. mirable account of these laws, and 9 emulated, rivaled, imitated.
On the other hand, such and so multiplied were the means of vexation and oppression possessed by the ġreat barons, that they never wanted the pretext," and seldom the will, to harass and pursue, even to the very edge of destruction, any of their less powerful neighbors, who attempted to separate themselves from the authority, and to trust for their protection, during dangers of the times, to their own inoffensive 5 cat and to the laws of the land.
A circumstance which greatly tended to en tyranny of the nobility, and the suffering ferior classes, arose from the consequenc man conquest by Duke William of Not generations had not sufficed to blend of the Normans and Anglo-Saxon common language and mutuali races, one of which still felt th