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them. “I shall see who will follow me,” was his reply; “and, if I understand the temper of the youth of this country, I shall have people enough.” Waiting for nothing, he reached the port almost unattended, and embarked immediately, although it blew a storm. The sailors entreated him to have patience till the weather should abate, and the wind become more favourable. But he made answer, “I never neard of a king that was shipwrecked. Weigh anchor, and you will see that the winds will be with us !” He has been extolled for this act of characteristic impatience and resolution, because the event happened to be fortunate: celerity was of great importance; and the news of his landing, as it was concluded that he came in force, sufficed for raising the siege. It was not in him a bravado in imitation of Caesar: that well-known story was known to very few in those ages, — the Red King had neither inclination nor leisure for learning ; and it was even more in character with him than with Caesar, the act itself being of more daring and less reasonable hardihood. On the other hand, he has been condemned, and with more justice, as manifesting here a spirit of audacious impiety, for which, among his other vices, he was peculiarly noted; and there are writers who, falling into an opposite extreme, have presumed to say that this special sin was visited by a special judgment upon the person of his nephew, Prince William, - the pride and hope of his father, and, indeed, of the English nation, who saw in him the representative, by his mother's side, of the old Anglo-Saxon line. William's bravado would, no doubt, be remembered after that catastrophe with poignant feelings by the bereaved father; but Henry Beauclerc had in his own conscience an unerring witness that his own sins of ambition had too surely deserved such a chastisement. Many shipwrecks have been attended with far greater loss of lives, and with far more dreadful circumstances; but none can ever have produced so general an emotion in this country, nor has any single event ever been the occasion here of so much national suffering, as this, which opened the way for Stephen's usurpation.
After a successful campaign in France, happily concluded through the pope's mediation by a peace, Henry embarked from Barfleur for England, with this his only legitimate son, then recently married, and in his seventeenth year. One of the finest vessels in the fleet was a galley of fifty oars, called “The White Ship,” and commanded by a certain Thomas Fitzstephens, whose grandfather had carried over the Conqueror when he invaded the kingdom which he won. Upon this ground Fitzstephens solicited the honour of now conveying the king, upon an occasion as much more joyful as it was less momentous. Henry was pleased with a request preferred for such a motive ; and, though having chosen a vessel for himself, he did not think proper to alter his own arrangements, he left Prince William, with the rest of his family, and their friends and attendants, to take their passage in the White Ship ; and embarking towards evening on the 25th of November, in fair weather, he sailed for England. There were with the Prince his natural brother Richard, and their sister the Lady Marie, Countess of Perch, Richard, Earl of Chester with his wife, who was the king's niece, and her brother the Prince's governor, and the flower of the young nobility both of Normandy and England, 140 in number, eighteen being women of the first rank: these and their retinue amounting, with the crew, to about 300 persons. The prince, being detained a little after his father, imprudently ordered three casks of wine to be distributed among the men; and the captain, as well as the sailors, drunk, in the joy of his heart, too freely; and promised to overtake every ship that had sailed before them. Accordingly he hoisted all sail, and plied all oars. The evening had closed before they started, but it was bright moonlight; the men exerted themselves under all the excitement of hilarity and pride of emulation, dreaming of no danger; the captain and the helmsman, under the same excitement, were unmindful of any ; and when the ship was going through the water with all the stress of oars and sails, she struck upon a rock, called the Catee-raze, with such violence that several planks were started, and she instantly began to fill. A boat was immediately lowered, and the Prince was escaping in it, — which he might easily have done, for the shore was at no great distance, — when his sister, whom there had been no time to take off, or who in the horror of the moment had been forgotten, shrieked out to him to save her. It was better to die than turn a deaf ear to that call: he ordered the boat to put back and take her in ; but such numbers leapt into it at the same time that the boat was swamped and all perished. The ship also presently went down with all on board: only two persons, the one a young noble, son of Gilbert de Aquila, the other a butcher of Rouen, saved themselves: by climbing the mast, and clinging to the top, they kept their heads above water. Fitzstephens rose after the vessel had sunk, and might have taken the same chance of preservation; but calling to mind, after the first instinctive effort, that he had been the unhappy occasion of this great calamity, and dreading the reproaches, and perhaps the punishment that awaited him, he preferred present death as the least evil. The youth became exhausted during the night; and commending his poor companion to God's mercy with his last words, he lost his hold, and sunk. The butcher held on till morning, when he was seen from the shore and saved; and from him, being the only survivor, the circumstances of the tragedy were learnt.
53.-THE WRECK OF THE WHITE SHIP.
Enter Prince William : Countess de la Perche—Lords, Ladies and Minstrels. Servitors with golden flagons. A confused noise of revelry is heard before they enter.
Prince (crowned with vine-leaves.) Here stand There comes a
I hate the sea with land on our lea, A merrier life for me ! III. No rock lurks here, no shoal is found In all this ocean wide But yet if there's one that is born to be drown'd— There's depth enough in this tideI hate the sea with land on our lea, A merrier life for me.— Prince. Ill omen'd croaker, with your rock and shoal, You've cast a shadow o'er my sister's face That drowns the flush that wine and joy had given. Countess. I think 'twere better to embark.Prince. So sadly 7– You heed not what an idle minstrel sings. Countess. No, William ; I should fear if he were pilot; His hand would scarcely guide the helm so surely As now it guides the tune along the chords— Prince (looking to the harbour) Hark! mirth on board—"Tis right; 'twere pity, sister, If happiness were a lubber all his days, And never went to sea. Countess. I wish, dear brother, They made not happiness so dolphin-like, With so much of the fish in't ; it may visit Its native element. Let's stay the night:— To morrow we shall sail, and if the wind Blow not the harder, we shall catch the king A sleeping in the calm. Prince. No! we'll aboard: And pass the silken sails where dallying winds Do make their cradle not their working ground; And scarce the lazy helmsman shall have time To say an ave 'gainst a witch's presence Ere the White Ship, with sixty silver oars, Faint from his vision like a spectral shape; And we shall touch the shores of England first, Tho' Henry gained the start by six good hours. You fear not, sister | See how calm the waves — Lying in lazy folds like the huge snake We saw, when gorged, coil up its glossy length And sleep so calmly. Countess. (alarmed.) Dreaming of fresh food And ready for the spring. Stay here the night— You are too happy; too o'erjoyed, my brother; So crowned with these deep vine leaves that their spirit Has slipt within, and your poor soul lies sleeping Half buried 'neath the clusters of Champagne : Prince. Then cover it all over ! for no King E'er rested 'neath so rich a canopy But here the Pilot comes. (Enter Pilot). What weather, master, Hope we to night !
Pilot (flustered with wine.) I call it not weather at all— 'Tis but the corpse of weather, wanting breath, As wanting breath man's but the corpse of man— So as you said, sir—(takes a flagon from servitor and drinks.) Prince my service to ye— Milksoppy weather—weather only fit For painted boats; weather, where little maids Some fifteen years or so, might stretch a helm Of ostrich plume and steer a nautilus shell As well as I could steer the good White ship. Countess (more alarmed.) Have you been long a pilot ? Pilot. Never a time. When I was anything else. Countess. And know the sea? Pilot. As if I had married her like the Doge of Venice; And rule her better;-and care less for her frowns Than e'er a husband in the realm of France— [Music and dancing heard on board. Prince. Away ! the sound of merry feet on deck Beats the pulsed air to music—Your fair hand ;Sister—your heart holds a divided blood Drawn from two founts, one kingly, one a churl’s— Let the red half find mastery in the struggle, And glow 'mid terror like a rose in snow— Countess (with an effort.) The daughter of a King knows nought of terror: Come, brother; and the lightest step and voice Shall be your sister's. Prince. Way there; sound the horn Horn is sounded. Eveunt towards the ship.
Henry. So long detained, and not a wind in heaven
Hubert. Pleasure, sir,
Henry. "Twould please me better
Arnulf. Is there no hope 1
No throb of pity for a father's grief
Henry. Arnulf of Lancaster, if lowlier state
Yvo. As Heaven bears witness 'twas no treasonous aid
Arnulf. Oh my liege —
'vo. For short space
Let me at least have room for secret speech
Henry. But to shew you that his heart
Arnulf. You shall not hear me claim your ruth again.