Henry William Herbert
The Knights of England, France, and Scotland by Henry William Herbert Summary
Example in this ebook THE SAXON’S OATH. “My tongue hath sworn, but still my mind is free.” The son of Godwin was the flower of the whole Saxon race. The jealousies which had disturbed the mind of Edward the Confessor had long since passed away; and Harold, whom he once had looked upon with eyes of personal aversion, he now regarded almost as his own son. Yet still the Saxon hostages—Ulfnoth, and the young son of Swerga, who in the time of his mad predilection for the Normans, and his unnatural distrust of his own countrymen, had been delivered for safe keeping to William, duke of Normandy—still lingered, melancholy exiles, far from the white cliffs of their native land. And now, for the first time since their departure, did the aspect of affairs appear propitious for their liberation; and Harold, brother of one, and uncle of the other, full of proud confidence in his own intellect and valor, applied to Edward for permission that he might cross the English channel, and, personally visiting the Norman, bring back the hostages in honor and security to the dear land of their forefathers. The countenance of the Confessor fell at the request; and, conscious probably in his own heart of some rash promise made in days long past, and long repented, to the ambitious William, he manifested a degree of agitation amounting almost to alarm. “Harold,” he said, after a long pause of deliberation—“Harold, my son, since you have made me this request, and that your noble heart seems set on its accomplishment, it shall not be my part to do constraint or violence to your affectionate and patriotic wishes. Go, then, if such be your resolve, but go without my leave, and contrary to my advice. It is not that I would not have your brother and your kinsman home, but that I do distrust the means of their deliverance; and sure I am, that should you go in person, some terrible disaster shall befall ourselves and this our country. Well do I know Duke William; well do I know his spirit—brave, crafty, daring, deep, ambitious, and designing. You, too, he hates especially, nor will he grant you anything, save at a price that shall draw down an overwhelming ruin on you who pay it, and on the throne of which you are the glory and the stay. If we would have these hostages delivered at a less ransom than the downfall of our Saxon dynasty—the misery of merry England—another messenger than thou must seek the wily Norman. Be it, however, as thou wilt, my friend, my kinsman, and my son.” Oh, sage advice, and admirable counsel! advice how fatally neglected—counsel how sadly frustrated! Gallant, and brave, and young; fraught with a noble sense of his own powers, a full reliance on his own honorable purposes; untaught as yet in that, the hardest lesson of the world’s hardest school, distrust of others, suspicion of all men—Harold set forth upon his journey, as it were, on an excursion in pursuit of pleasure. Surrounded by a train of blithe companions, gallantly mounted, gorgeously attired, with falcon upon fist, and greyhounds bounding by his side, gayly and merrily he started, on a serene autumnal morning, for the coast of Sussex. There he took ship; and scarcely was he out of sight of land, when, as it were at once to justify the words of Edward, the wind, which had been on his embarkation the fairest that could blow from heaven, suddenly shifted round, the sky was overcast with vast clouds of a leaden hue, the waves tossed wildly with an ominous and hollow murmur; and, ere the first day had elapsed, as fierce a tempest burst upon his laboring barks as ever baffled mariner among the perilous shoals and sandbanks of the narrow seas. Hopeless almost of safety, worn out with unaccustomed toil and hard privations, for three days and as many nights they battled with the stormy waters; and on the morning of the fourth, To be continue in this ebook...