Page images

They set themselves in armour bright

These mischiefs to prevent,
With all the yeomen brave and bold

That were in fruitful Kent.

At Canterbury did they meet

Upon a certain day, With sword and spear, with bill and bow,

And stopped the Conqueror's way. " Let us not yield like bondmen poor

To Frenchmen in their pride, But keep our ancient liberty

What chance so e'er betide,

“And rather die in bloody field,

With manly courage pressed, Than to endure the servile yoke

Which we so much detest.”

Thus did the Kentish commons cry

Unto their leaders still,
And so marched forth in warlike sort,

And stand at Swanscombe Hill.

There in the woods they hid themselves,

Under the shadow green, Thereby to get them vantage good

Of all their foes unseen.

And for the Conqueror's coming there

They privily laid wait,
And thereby suddenly appalled

His lofty high conceit;
For when they spiéd his approach

In place as they did stand,
Then marchéd they to him with speed,

Each one a bough in hand.
So that unto the Conqueror's sight,

Amazéd as he stood,
They seemed to be a walking grove,

Or else a moving wood.
The shape of men he could not see,

The boughs did hide them so ;
And now his heart with fear did quake

To see a forest go.

Before, behind, and on each side,

As he did cast his eye,
He spied the wood with sober pace

Approach to him full nigh.
But when the Kentishmen had thus

Enclosed the Conqueror round,
Most suddenly they drew their swords

And threw their boughs to ground.

Their banners they display in sight,

Their trumpets sound a charge, Their rattling drums strike up alarms,

Their troops stretch out at large. "The Conqueror with all his train

Were hereat sore aghast,
And most in peril when they thought

All peril had been past.
Unto the Kentishmen he sent,

The cause to understand-
For what intent and for what cause

They took this war in hand;
To whom they made this short reply :,

“For liberty we fight,
And to enjoy King Edward's laws,

The which we hold our right.” Then said the dreadful Conqueror :

“ You shall have what you will Your ancient customs and

your laws
So that you will be still ;
"And each thing else that you will crave

With reason at my hand,
So you will but acknowledge me

Chief king of fair England."
The Kentishmen agreed thereto,

And laid their arms aside ;
And by this means King Edward's laws

In Kent do still abide.
And in no place in England else

Those customs do remain,
Which they by manly policy
Did of Duke William gain.



Life of Columbus.



HRISTOPHER COLUMBUS was born in the city of

Genoa, about the year 1435, of poor but respectable parents. He was the son of a wool-comber, and his ancestors seem to have followed this trade for many generations. Some attempts have been made to show that he was of noble descent; but his son

Fernando wisely remarked on this subject, “I am of opinion that I should derive less dignity from any nobility of ancestry, than from being the son of such a father.”

While very young, Columbus was taught reading, writing, grammar, and arithmetic, and made some progress in drawing. He soon showed a strong desire for geographical knowledge, and a liking for the sea. His father, seeing the bent of his mind, gave him an education which would be useful to him in a seafaring life. For this purpose he spent a short time in the University of Pavia; but the thorough acquaintance which he afterwards showed with science must have been the result of diligent self-schooling, and of casual hours of study

Shortly after leaving the University he began his life as a sailor, not being more than fourteen years of age. Very little is known of this period of his life. The first voyage in which we hear of his being engaged was in a naval expedition fitted out at Genoa in 1459 to make a descent upon Naples; but at this time he was twenty-four years of age. There is reason to believe that he distinguished himself in this struggle, which lasted about four years.

The last anecdote we have of this obscure part of his life is given by his son Fernando. He says that his father sailed for some time with Colombo the younger, a famous corsair, who was so terrible for his deeds that the Moorish mothers used to frighten their unruly children with his name.


This bold rover waylaid four Venetian galleys, richly laden, on their return voyage from Flanders, and attacked them with his squadron on the Portuguese coast between Lisbon and Cape St. Vincent. This battle lasted from morning until evening, with great bloodshed on both sides. The vessels grappled with each other, and the crews fought hand to hand and from ship to ship. The vessel commanded by Columbus was engaged with a huge Venetian galley. They threw hand-grenades and other fiery missiles, and the galley was wrapped in flames. The vessels, being fastened together by chains, could not be separated, and both became a mere blazing mass of fire. The crews threw themselves into the sea. Columbus seized an oar which was floating near him, and, being an expert swimmer, gained the shore, though fully two leagues distant. After recovering from his exhaustion he went to Lisbon, where he found many of his Genoese fellow-countrymen, who persuaded him to take up his residence there.

The period of modern discovery had begun shortly before the time of Columbus, and was pursued with great activity by the small kingdom of Portugal. The Canary Islands had been re-discovered in the fourteenth century, and this had encouraged people to try and discover other unknown places. The greatest encouragement given to this movement was that which Prince John of Portugal gave to it, about the year 1470. This prince was the son of John the First of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, sister of Henry the Fourth of England. Thus our English king, Henry IV., was his uncle. He studied geography very carefully, and came to the conclusion that it was possible to sail round Africa, and, by keeping along its shores, to arrive at India.

There are several things the young reader must bear in mind, if he wishes to understand properly this history. At this time the middle and lower parts of Africa were entirely unknown, and the only road to India was by way of the Mediterranean and Red Seas. The great object of the commercial people in those days was to find a way to get to India altogether by sea. Ships coming from India to Europe through the Red Sea had to unload their cargo at the Isthmus of Suez; it had then to be conveyed overland sixty or seventy miles, and put in another ship at

this was

Alexandria to go to Italy, Spain, or England. exceedingly troublesome; and, therefore, no wonde men were very

anxious to find some means of getting to Ins? altogether by sea. As yet the Cape of Good Hope had ) been discovered.

Men had at this time very vague notions of geogr., why. The wisest of them had come to the conclusion that the earth is round, and that, consequently, by going in a straigi, line from east to west the traveller must come to the same oint from which he set out. It was on this principle that Columbus, when he set out in 1492, steered his course to the west. He thought he must come to India that way if he only went far enough. He was perfectly right; only he had no notion that there was an immense continent between Spain and India- a w World, almost as large as the Old World !

While at Lisbon, Columbus married a lady of rank, the daughter of a famous navigator who was at that

me dead. His mother-in-law gave him all the charts, and ji rnals, and manuscripts of her deceased husband, which Coluuwus eagerly studied. He supported his wife and family by makin maps and charts; and, though his means were scanty, he devott a part to the education of his younger brothers, and the suprort of his aged father at Genoa.

We have a record of the determination of Columbus to seek a western rout to India in the year 1474. He was told by a famous geographer that the distance could not be more than 4,000 miles in a direct line from Lisbon.

There is a copy still preserved of a quaint map in use in those days, which would surprise boys who learn geography in these days. The Atlantic Ocean is given, though not by name; but on the other side of it, instead of America, the coast of India is seen. Very quaint and singular remarks are appended to some of the islands and countries. The following description is given of a large island which appears where the West Indies is in our maps :

“In this island the spices grow; there are syrens in the sea; it has its own kings and language; the people idolaters; the richest island in the east for spices, precious stones, and gold.” Just below the equator are a group of little islands, which are thus described : “ These are ten islands, called

[ocr errors]


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »