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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 10



ti vatïng charms of person. Her air was dignified without being haughty, her speech éloquent, soft, and musical, and, as lier quick versatile mind was educated with the greatest care, she grew up, in the language of an old chronicler, "the pearl of beauty, the perfection of goodness, and the mirror of womanly accomplishments ; nobly patronizing the learned, and, with a queenly hand, encouraging the arts and refinements of the times." Her childhood was passed in quiet retirement : but the bloom of youthful maidenhood had scarcely tinged her features with womanly charms, when her beauty and accomplishments, her noble descent, and the power and wealth of her father, the Earl of Flanders, induced many of the neighbouring princes to seek her band in marriage. Of these, the most ardent and persevering was her cousin, William, the young Duke of Normandy, surnamedthe iiastard, who desired this union, less as an act of political policy, than to satisfy the burning longings of love, But the cautious Karl of .Flanders considered that William held his ducal crown by an uncertain tenure ; and a yet stronger objection had Matilda to the match— her affections having been bestowed on lirithric, the Karl of Gloucester, a wealthy Saxon noble, who had visited the court of her father as an ambassador from Edward tin Confessor. William, however, having determined Dn this marriage, was not to be discouraged by difficulties. The intrigues of j ealous rivals, the opposition of inveterate foes, the many objections raised by the parents and kindred of Matilda, and even her own cool replies, but increased the glow of his burning ardour, and prompted him to redouble his exertions. Driven to desperation by the failure of négociations and entreaties during a lapse of more than six years, he, in 1047, suddenly presented himself before his fair cousin, when she was returning from early mass, in the ancient city of Bruges, and with wildly glaring eyes, and lips quivering with passion, accused her of loving Brithric. "Know ye, cousin," ho continued, in bitter, reproachful tones, "Edward, England's king, has named me his heir, and, by the holy cross, the Saxon churl who dares aspire to thy baud, shall, oro long, be crushed by the vengeance of our royal resentment Γ ''Mighty words—easily spoken, and, verily, proof not of greatness, nor valour," observed the princess, to whom the tale appeared a boastful improbability. Then bursting into a tit of malicious laughter, she exclaimed, " The doubtful Duke of Normandy, monarch of England; an excellent joke, truly ! But had not my politic cousin better say Emperor of all Christendom?" These sarcastic remarks, uttered with derisive scorn, so excited the fury of William, that, in a frenzy of auger, he seized Matilda, dragged her along the ground, rolled her in a muddy pool, boat lier severely, and leaving her more dead than alive, mounted his charger, and gallopped from the town, before the patrols heard of his brutal doings. History saith not what emboldened him, after such outrageous conduct, to again enter Matilda's presence. Although, as that princess's passion for Brithric—the greatest obstruction to the progress of his protracted courtshipwas about this time changed to hate, by the coolness of the Saxon earl himself, who positively refused to marry her, it is not improbable that, either from a dread or admiration of his prowess, or, perhaps, both, she overlooked his enormities, and gave him her heart. Be this as it may, it is a historical fact, that in 10Ò2, the royal cousins were married, with great pomp and rejoicings, the ceremony being performed at Augi, a eastle m Normandy, belonging to William, and whither Matilda was conveyed by her illustrious relatives, and a numerous train of nobles and knights. William was the illegitimate son of Duke Hubert of Normandy, surnamcd the Devil, of whom so many strange legends are still current in the north of ranee. His mother was the beautiful Arlotta, the daughter of a tanner in the town of Falaise. Duke Bobert had no other issue, and he "was so pleased with the vigour, handsomeness, and early promise, of the infant William, that, with


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