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1316. Charles IV. 1322.
EDWARD THE SECOND.
“ Now, lighter humour, leave me and begone,
“ Your passion poor yields matter much too slight: “ To write these plagues that then were coming on,
“ Doth ask a pen of Ebon, and the night; “ If there be ghosts their murder that bemoane,
“Let them approach me, and in piteous plight, “ Howle, and about me with black tapers stand, “ To lend a sad light to my sadder hand.”
To illustrate his character, let us view his common amusements from an old French MS. of his private expences :
Item._Paye a Jak de scint Albon, peyntre de Roi qui daunsa devant le Roi sur une table, et lui fist grandement rire, &c.
The extract is long, and not easily understood from the obsoleteness of the language; but it proves that the King played at tossing up “ heads and tails” for farthings, besides rewarding the above-mentioned buffoon for making him laugh by dancing on a table; he remunerated another for tumbling off a horse before him. Moreover that he made a party on the water in a returned faggot barge, and bought cabbages of the gardeners on the banks of the Thames to compose his soup
“SAD was the hour, and luckless was the day,” When second Edward claim'd the regal sway;
A reign of imbecility and care,
Could turn of face or majesty of form,
Shield from misfortune's overwhelming tide, EDWARD had weather'd the relentless storm,
Nor under pangs unprecedented died.
The eye of beauty beams with dazz'ling light,
Yet brighter far the lustre of the mind : And dark and cold as drearest winter night
The soul to intellectual pleasure blind.
Immersed in soft effeminacy's down,
The feeble Prince his subjects good neglects For minions, who monopolize the crown, And stain the sceptre which their vice protects.
The pamper'd Gaveston, of favour vain,
First rous’d our angry Barons' slighted pride ; Till forced to banish him, the King with pain,
Escorts his darling to the vessel's side.
Soon he return'd, again in exile sent,
EDWARD once more his favourite recalls; The land o’erflows with furious discontent,
And, spite of royal frowns, the Gascon falls.*
Next in the list, two worthless Spencers came,
Whose arrogance the people's rage renew'd; Who peaceful England gave to quenchless flame,
And harmony exchanged for civil feud.
The Scotch too, mindful of their former woes,
When the first EDWARD with his spoilers came, At BANNOCKBOURN on their now humbled foes
Take great revenge and win eternal fame.
Baffled by BRUCE, the King of England bends To terms prescribed, that wars abroad may
* Gaveston returning in 1312, the whole kingdom was up in arms; the favourite was besieged in Scarborough, taken, and beheaded by the Earl of Warwick.
Yet loses all his best domestic friends
By follies which at home destroy his peace.
The SPENCERS driven from their native land,
For rude extortion and oppression sore; Turn pirates, and with fierce marauding band,
Infest the coast they oft had robb’d before.
Great LANCASTER* the Barons' phalanx leads,)
But Isabel, † the monarch’s angry wife,
(Jealous of influence the SPENCERS gain,6) Against her husband mingles in the strife, And thoughtless EDWARD quickly ceas'd to
Disgust had made the Queen repair
* Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, grandson of King Henry III.
+ Isabella of France, daughter of Philip le Bel, the greatest beauty of her age, whom Edward's father had in his dying moments conjured him to marry.
| The Spencers were recalled and loaded with fresh honours.They were, however, on the King's fortunes suffering a reverse, both executed by the Queen's and Mortimer's party.