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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 35



ropoan monarca.. Eut in this life of seclusion she appears to have enjoyed hut little happiness. Her aunt Christina's unceasing efforts to induce her to take the veil, a measure which she had determined not to adopt, greatly disquieted her mind, and she was personally endangered by the malice of a Norman knight, who told William Kufus that Edgar had brought his sister's children to England, only with a view to dispossess the Normans of the crown. But the lied King, who, despite the viciousness of his character, had always treated both Edgar Athclingund his adopted orphans with kindness, disregarded the malicious report, and the officious miseliief-maker was for his foul scandal challenged and slain in single combat by Edgar's friend, Arthur Ethclbert. Whilst Matilda was an inmate of Wilton Abbey, the Duke of Brittany, then a widower, arrived in England, and after first obtaining the consent of his brother-in-law, William Itufus, proffered her his hand in marriage. But she rejected the offer of the " grandfather wooer," as she humorously styled the mature suitor, with scorn, and declared she would rather take the veil, abhorrent as it was to her, than consent to so unsuitable a match. Shortly afterwards, the Earl of Surrey, William Warren, a powerful baron, and a nephew to the lied King, became enamoured of her, and, singular to relate, young, handsome, and wealthy as he was, she no more favoured his suit than that of Ids grave predeces sor, the Duke of Brittany ; her excuse being, that she intended shortly to take the veil. It, however, appears probable that her real motive for rejecting the Earl's addresses, was the secret passion she en tertained for the young Prince Henry of Normandy, a passion which doubtless was encouraged to the full by her priest and guardian, Turgot, who, being a deep thinking, clear-sighted Saxon, at once perceived the advantages that would ac crue to his suffering countrymen, by the union upon the throne of the royal Saxon and Norman lines. At this period Henry was exceedingly poor ; income he had none, and his sole dependence was on his capricious brother, the Bed King. Like his kindred, he was passionately fond of hunting, and, for lack of a horse, pursued the game on foot. From this circumstance. Warren, and other wealthy nobles, sarcastically nicknamed him Deer's-foot, an insult which he never forgave. Henry's poverty, however, was not the effect of his own extravagance, as his father, William the Conqueror, when he died, left him but five thousand pounds of silver, which, says the chronicler Speed, so annoyed the young Beauclcrc, that he remonstrated with his sire for bequeathing him such a paltry pittance. " What," said he, " can I do with the silver, without castle or domain to support my dignity ?" "Trust in Cod, and patiently Avait the events of time," answered the dying monarch ; " for behold, thou most favoured of my sons, thou inheritor of all my greatness, although to Hubert and William I give the crowns of Normandy and England, thy brothers go before thee but for a brief period ; soon will their reigns be over, and all my possessions and wealth become thine." Unsatisfactory as this short but solemn prediction appeared, at the time, to the landless Prince, it was actually fulfilled to the very letter. The rays of but twenty summer suns had kissed the Conqueror's tomb, when the triumphant Henry wore the crowns of the united dominions of England and Normandy. It is recorded that at the period of his adversity, Henry was Matilda's accepted lover. But when, or under what cir cumstances.the fair princess won his heart, historv saith not. Probably he accom panied Edgar Atheliug or the Duke of Brittany on their visits to her at Wilton Abbey, and thus was enabled to converse with her, and behold her without the veil, which she cast aside on every possi ble occasion. Be this as it may, we are told by a contemporary chronicler, that long before circumstances admitted of their union— " The rovai pair loved speciallie, lint durst not wed for povcrtie ; Domains and laud Η none had Henri, And Maude of Scotland, fairest she, Hud nothing hut her pedigree. Then, Saxons-Normans, moan with me. For Princess Maude and young Henri.™


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