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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 13



powerful Earl of Morear ; and shortly afterwards, on the death of Edward the Confessor, lie ascended the throne—a step which so exasperated William, that, bursting into a fit of vehement anger, he drove the bearer of the unpleasant news from his presence, hurriedly paced the hall, and unconsciously tying and untying the tasselled band of his cloak, hurled curses of defiance against the faithless Harold " Not enough is it," he passionately muttered, " that the dastardly usurper spurns his affianced bride, my lovely Adeliza ! but he must even clutch the crown ere it can descend on my head ! By the splendour of God ! the harvest of his aspiring ambition shall be snatched from bis covetous grasp, and William of Normandy yet reign England's king !" Although aware of the many difiicultics to be encountered in invading so powerful a country as England, William resolved, rather than the valuable sceptre should escape his grasp, to undertake the hazardous project. He, therefore, without delay, stated his intentions to his assembled nobles, who, conceiving the enterprizo far too hazardous, strongly objected to it. Already," said they, " we arc sufficiently impoverished by the duke's foreign wars, and, furthermore, we like not crossing the sea. Let us wait on our sovereign and inform him, and let our good i itz-Osborn, who is fairer-tongued than we, speak our message." To this arrangement Eitz-Osborn, who was one of their body, readily agreed ; but either from craft, or excess of loyalty, he quite forgot the purport of bis commission, and instead of telling the duke that they disapproved of the expedition, actually informed him that, being exceedingly pleased with the measure, they had cheerfully resolved to go with him over sea, and, to render victory more sure, they would each double the number of men which, as vassals, they were bound to bring into the field. These words astonished the assembled knights and barons, and so excited their ire against Eitz-Osborn, that they sorely abused him. " Man of fair tongue, thou Kest!" they exclaimed, with fiery execrations ; and a clamorous uproar ensued, so noisy and wild, that not a speaker could make'himself heard: " Thou liest, 1* itz-Osborn ! thou liest!" being the only cry audible amidst the babble and confusion. The duke retired from the exciting scene into his presence-chamber, sent for the refractory nobles one by one, and by remonstrances and magnificent promises, so overcame their scruples, that to what 1 itz-Osborn proffered they agreed ; each man undertaking to assistili the invasion of the Anglo-Saxon land, and, for the occasion, to double his services. William next requested aid from Philip of 1 ranee, offering, in return, in the event of success, to own him as his lord paramount of England, as well as of Normandy. But the French king had no faith m the project, and declared, that in its support he would not advance a pound of silver. Besides, he archly remarked to the Norman ambassador : " May not your royal master, by running after a crown's shadow., gain nothing, and lose what he still possesses ? Speed ye to your liege lord, and say, Philip would ask who is to take charge of Normandy in the absence of its royal duke ?" Although rebuffed by the French king, William speedily gathered the flower of Europe's chivalry under his renowned banner. The Counts of Brittany and Anjou encouraged their subjects to join his ranks, as also did the Emperor of G ermany, Henry IV,, who likewise undertook to preserve his dukedom from invasion during his absence ; and the Pope sent him a consecrated banner, and promulgated a bull, declaring the justice of his cause, and animating all Christians to flock to his standard. Besides other signal services, his fathcr-in-law, Baldwin of Flanders, fitted out sixty ships, filled with sturdy warriors, and entrusted them to Tostig, to make a descent on England. The traitor Saxon carried fire and sword into several villages on the British coast, but being come upon unawares by the intrepid Earl Morcar, he was driven to his ships, and sailed for Scotland, where, meeting with no encouragement, he directed his course to Norway, whose warlike king, Harfager, he persuaded to join him in attacking


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