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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 33



MATILDA ries " Maud the Good," and by some historians styled Matilda of Scotland. We cannot much err in naming 1077 as the year of her birth ; as in that year it was, that Robert of Normandy, whom William the Conqueror had dispatched to the North, to drive the invading Scotch over the border, on finding his forces unequal to his task, wisely made peace with the Scottish King, paid a friendly visit to the court of Scotland, and stood godfather to the infant Matilda. The early years of Matilda the Good were passed with her parents in Scotland, nntl her preceptor was her mother's confessor, the pious and learned Turgot, It was from the excellent precepts and worthy examples of her illustrious mother, Margaret, and of the good Turgot, that she received those early lessons of iiety and virtue, which so imbued her fleart with christian charity, that in womanhood she became a sister of kindness to the rich, and a mother of mercy and affection to the poor, giving alms to the needy, affording consolation to the afllicted, and shielding the weak and the oppressed from the tyranny of the powerful and the overbearing. Whilst Matilda was yet but a child, her aunt, Christina Atheling, abbess of Rumsey, in Hampshire, became extremely anxious that she should be consecrated to the church. Put the pious Queen of Scotland told Christina that Malcolm would never sanction Matilda's taking the veil. *' Γ am not so sure of that," said the Abbess, drily ; " for rude and unlearned though he be, his will is ruled *by his heart-deep love for you. Margaret, he is your slave, and durst not refuse what you firmly demand. Behold, already you have converted him and his attendants from Paganism to Christianity, and by discountenancing the excesses and low carousings in which ho and his lords were wont to indulge, you have driven barbarism from the court, introduced civilization into the land, and established order and decorum in the royal castle. "True," answered Margaret, "what you say may bo correct, and it delights me to hear the country's advancement in religion, morals, and learning attributed ATllELING. to the ennobling example of our court, for then, sister, I think my efforts have not been vain; although, on the point you are urging, I fear Malcolm will never be ruled." " Dear Q.uocn," interrupted the Ab bess, who was annoyed at Margaret's misgivings, " in you Malcolm reposes unbounded confidence. You are the do mestic ruler of his realms. You have introduced the arts and learning into his very household. Nay, at your bidding, virtue has been exalted and vice crushed, and yet, now you bow to the whims of your uncouth lord, and scruple to dedi cate your fair daughter to the service of the Most High. Oh 'Margaret! Marga ret ! whither has your courage fled ? Come hither, dear niece,** she murmured, in tones of affection, addressed to the Princess, '· by my hands the holy deed shall be done." When, having placed the scapulary on Matilda, she trium phantly shouted, "There, darling, wear it to the 'day of your death, and may the curses of the holy cross rest on him who dares to remove it from thy virgin shoulders." At this instant Malcolm entered the hall, accompanied by the Duke of Brittanv, who was there on a visit to the Scottish monarch. On beholding Matilda attired as a nun, he, in a fit of fury, snatched the conventual adornments from her person, torn them into shreds, and turning to the Duke of Brittany, said, " Ah, my lord, that child is far too beautiful for a nun ; she shall one day become the queen of a mighty realm." Margaret and her pious sister used their every exertions to gain their end, but, at least in this case, Malcolm was not to be overcome. Entreaties and threats were alike vain, and in the height of his rage, lie swore that whoever dared to broach the subject again in his presence, should feel the weight of his resentment. He then took the sobbing Princess in his arms, tenderly kissed her, and told her she must not think of leaving her father, to be a nun. The little Matilda, fearing punishment if her mother or aunt heard her reply, pressed her lips to Malcolm's ear, and whispered that nothing on earth should make her


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