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property, and claimed their lands : on these occasions the ladies were often treated in a barbarous manner.

A remarkable instance of this may be found in Shakspeare's Tragedy of Macbeth. Macbeth, a Scottish nobleman, invited Duncan, king of Scotland, to his castle, and there murdered him, that he might be king instead of Duncan. On the murder of the king, his two sons fled from Scotland in fear of their lives. Macduff, a Scottish lord, followed Malcolm, one of the young princes, into England ; upon which the usurper Macbeth was so enraged that he vowed to revenge himself upon Macduff for his desertion. In order to do this, Macbeth resolved upon killing Macduff's innocent family, which he had left behind, and he accordingly gave orders for this cruel act. When the bloody work was done, Rosse, a friend of the unfortunate family, escaped into England to inform Macduff of it. He found him talking to Malcolm, and after preparing his mind, relates the event.

Rosse. Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes savagely slaughtered !

Malcolm. Merciful heaven!
Macduff. My children too ?

Rosse. Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.

Macd. And I must be from thence !My wife kill'd too ?

Rosse. I have said.

Mai. Let us make medicine of our great revenge, To cure this deadly grief.

Macd. He has no children !-- All my pretty ones ?

Rosse. All.
Macd. What, all my pretty chickens and their dam ?"

Macbeth, Act IV., Scene 3.

you say all ?


Malcolm, it may be observed, proposes to make amends for this cruel injury by some great revenge," that is, by some act of equal cruelty to the murderers of Macduff's wife and children. This was the way in which people at that time usually endeavoured to satisfy themselves, but they only continued a strife which the descendants of both parties felt bound never to forget nor forgive ; and which, many long years after the first offence was given, caused fresh quarrels, murders, and destruction of property.

In this state of violence and danger many people lived in constant and great fear, and were always prepared to expect, and to

defend themselves against an enemy. The rich lived in strong castles, surrounded by walls and gates, a watch was kept to look out for the approach of their foes; and, before the discovery of gunpowder and the use of fire arms, the knights—that is, the gentlemen soldiers—used generally to wear armour.

Then, as at all times, there were good men—some who were not weak and timid, or ferocious and cruel, who could not see the acts of these barbarians without indignation against them, and compassion for the unfortunate victims of their cruelty. The distress of the ladies, above all, inspired the just and the generous with a desire to serve them, and to save them from the dreadful calamities to which they were exposed. Many noblemen and brave soldiers devoted themselves to the redress of injuries inflicted upon all good persons, and particularly upon the young and the beautiful of the female sex. These formed what is called the order of Chivalry. .

The young men who composed the order of Chivalry could not be admitted into it unless they possessed strength and courage, and were distinguished by truth and honour ; and this being known, made ambitious youths desirous to be so distinguished, that they might be worthy to assert justice, and to defend innocence ; that they might become objects of admiration and praise, and form at once the protectors and ornaments of society. To be all this it was necessary that they should not only be fearless and powerful, but that they should also be pleasing and interesting ; that they should perfectly understand the use of arms to prevail over their enemies, and be masters of every graceful accomplishment to inspire the affection of their friends.

Many arts of little use at this time, were then necessary, and these arts exhibited much grace and skill. The management of fiery horses, the throwing of the pike, (a sharp instrument used in ancient warfare,) and the exercise of the bow, were taught to young men with as much, and more pains than dancing, fencing, and music now require. Horsemanship, archery, &c. require great presence of mind and strength of body, and show elegance of person and quickness of thought to the utmost advantage.

For a long time Chivalry did much good, but at length it went out of use, because laws were made and enforced that compelled people to live peaceably together, so that the arts that belonged to Chivalry only served for amusement, and Knights or Champions used to practise a sort of mock fighting, as a mere trial of strength and skill, not intending to kill one another, but to spare the life of him who should be proved the weakest ; and the most beautiful lady present at the encounter, used to give a prize to the victorious knight. These public spectacles were at last given up, but not all at once, for so late as the year 1600, and afterwards, we read of young gentlemen who were taught all the exercises of Chivalry.

These remarks do not refer exclusively to the preceding extract from Spenser, but they also serve to explain other pieces in this collection. The distressed condition of Una exemplifies the sufferings to which the young and beautiful were exposed in a rude age, and the devotedness of her attendant is a further illustration of the sentiments and services of a disinterested knight-errant in behalf of endangered innocence.


“ There grew an aged tree on the

A goodly Oak sometime had it been,
With arms full strong and largely displayed,
But of their leaves they were disarrayed :
The body big and mightily pight,
Throughly rooted, and of wondrous height;
Whilom* had been the king of the field,
And mochel masit to the husband did yield,
And with his nuts larded many swine,
But now the gray moss marred his rine,
His bared boughs were beaten with storms,
His top was bald, and wasted with worms,
His honour decayed, his braunches sere. I

Hard by his side grew a bragging Breere,
Which proudly thrust into th' element,
And seemed to threat the firmament:
It was imbellisht with blossoms fair,
And thereto age wonted to repair ;
The shepherd's daughters to gather flowres,
To paint their garlands with his colowres;
And in his small bushes used to shroud,
The sweet nightingale singing so loud,
Which made this foolish Breere wax so bold,
That on a time he cast him to scold,
And sneb the good Oak, for he was old.

"Why stand'st there (quoth he) thou brutish block ?
Nor for fruit nor for shadow serves thy stock ;

* Formerly,

† Many acorns.


Seest how fresh my flowers been spread,
Died in lily white and crimson red,
With leaves engrained in lusty green,
Colours meet to cloath a maiden queen ?
Thy waste bigness but cumbers the ground,
And dirks the beauty of my blossoms round :
The mouldy moss, which thee accloyeth,
My cinnamon smell too much annoyeth:
Wherefore soon I rede* thee hence remove,
Lest thou the price of my displeasure prove."

So spake this bold Breere with great disdain,
Little him answered the Oak again,
But yielded, with shame and grief adawed,†
That of a weed he was over-crawed. I

It chaunced after upon a day,
The husband-man's self to come that way,
Of custom to surview his ground,
And his trees of state in compass round:
Him when the spightful Breere had espyed,
He causeless complained, and loudly cried
Unto his lord, stirring up stern strife :

O my liege Lord! the god of my life,
Please you pond your suppliant's plaint,
Caused of wrong and cruel constraint,
Which I your poor vassal daily endure ;
And but your goodness the same secure,
Am like for desperate dole|| to die,
Through felonous force of mine enemy.

Greatly aghast with this piteous plea, Him rested the good man on the lea. And bad the Breere in his plaint proceed. With painted words then gan this proud weed (As most used ambitions folk) His coloured crime with craft to cloke.

Ah, my Sovereign ! lord of creatures all, Thou placer of plants both humble and tall, Was not I planted of thine own hand, To be the primrose of all thy land, With flowering blossoms to furnish the prime, And scarlet berries in sommer-time ? How falls it then that this faded Oak,

* Advise

† Dejected. § Consider.

# Triumphed over Il Grief.


Whose body is sore, whose branches broke,
Whose naked arms stretch unto the fire,
Unto such tyranny doth aspire,
Hindering with his shade my lovely light,
And robbing me of the sweet sun's sight?
So beat his old boughs my tender side,
That oft the bloud springeth from woundes wide ;
Untimely my flowers forced to fall,
That been the honour of your coronal ;*
And oft he lets his canker-worms light
Upon my branches, to work me more spight,
And of his hoary locks doth cast,
Wherewith my fresh flowerets been defast :
For this, and many more such outrage,
Craving your godlyhead to assuage
The rancorous rigour of his might;
Nought ask I, but onely to hold my right,
Submitting me to your good sufferance,
And praying to be guarded from grievaunce.

To this the Oak cast him to reply
Well as he couth ; but his enemy
Had kindled such coles of displeasure,
That the good man nould† stay his leisure,
But home him hasted with furious heat,
Encreasing his wrath with many a threat ;
His harmful hatchet he hent‡ in hand,
(Alas ! that it so ready should stand!)
And to the field alone he speedeth,
(Aye little help to harm there needeth)
Anger nould let him speak to the tree,
Enaunter his rage mought cooled be,
But to the root bent his sturdy stroke,
And made many wounds in the waste Oak-

The axe's edge did oft turn again,
As half unwilling to cut the grain,
Seemed the senseless iron did fear,
Or to wrong holy eld did forbear ;
For it had been an antient tree,
Sacred with many a mystery.
And often cross with the priests's crew,
And often hallowed with holy water dew;
But like fancies weren foolery.

* Wreath of flowers, chaplet.

† Would not.

‡ Took:

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