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very delicious whips; and the little boys tasted all round, and they all thought they were very nice.
They carried some out to the horse, who swallowed it down very quickly.
“ That is just what he wanted," said Mrs. Peterkin; “now he will certainly go!" . So they all got into the carriage again, and put in the currants and the gooseberries and the flowers ; and Elizabeth Eliza shook the reins, and they all clucked; but still the horse would not go!
“We must either give up our ride,” said Mrs. Peterkin, mournfully, “or else send over to the lady from Philadelphia, and see what she will say."
The little boys jumped out as quickly as they could ; they were eager to go and ask the lady from Philadelphia. Elizabeth Eliza went with them, while her mother took the reins.
They found that the lady from Philadelphia was very ill that day, and was in her bed. But when she was told what the trouble was,
kindly said they might draw up the curtain from the window at the foot of the bed, and open the blinds, and she would see. Then she asked for her opera-glass, and looked through it, across the way, up the street, to Mrs. Peterkin's door.
After she had looked through the glass, she laid it down, leaned her head back against the pillow, for she was very tired, and then said, “Why don't you unchain the horse from the horse-post ?”
Elizabeth Eliza and the little boys looked at one another, and then hurried back to the house and told their mother. The horse was untied, and they all went to ride.
Lucretia P. Hale.
THE 'HE twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth witnessed the
height of the Feudal System in England, and the commencement of its decline. The complete reversal of that system did not occur for long ages after, but the first effective blow of the many strokes that toppled Feudalism to the dust was given at Runnymede in the year 1215.
Feudalism was the exact reverse of Republicanism. In the latter, the basis of honor and power is in the people, and on that foundation are built up all the several classes of officials, finishing with the Chief Magistrate himself as the crowning stone of the edifice. Under the Feudal System, the source of honor and the seat of power was the king, from whom all the governing classes took their power, and on whom they were made dependent. His influence extended downward through every rank to the common peo
ple, who were mere machines to do the bidding of those in authority. When William the Conqueror vanquished England, he took possession of the land as his personal property, and divided the greater part among the chief men of his army, in payment for their services in the conquest. These principal barons thus became the chief tenants of the Crown, bound by the conditions of the grant to acknowledge, at stated periods, their allegiance to the king, and bound also to render him aid in men and money whenever
Under the great barons were lesser barons, or knights, holding land from and owing service to their lords, in like manner as those lords held land from and owed service to the king. The knights had free yeomen bound to them in similar manner, whilst the great mass of the common people
- conquered Saxons were bond-slaves to one or another class of landowners, or held a position somewhere between actual slavery and freedom. Thus every class owed military service to the class above it, was liable to fines and taxes at the will of its immediate superiors, and was subjected to many other oppressive restrictions. Marriages could only take place by the consent of the lord to whom the contracting parties owed duty as tenants, and that consent was frequently purchased with a heavy fine. Over all the king reigned supreme, and his order to collect an army or raise money for his own purposes was felt in calls for men and money through all the grades of people.
For the common people, who had neither titles nor lands, no sort of consideration was shown. In addition to other forms of oppression to which they were subjected, barbarous forest laws treated them with cruel severity. An unlicensed person who killed, or even chased, one of the thousands of deer that roamed over the broad forest wastes made by levelling hamlets and villages with the ground, was subjected to punishments of revolting cruelty, or even death, — the life of a deer being considered of more value than the life of a man.
It has been said that all who were untitled, or who did not hold land, were slaves to one or other of the more favored classes. There was an exception to this rule. The dwellers in cities were free from service to any one but the king himself; and the bondman who succeeded in escaping to a city, and remained unmolested there a year and a day, became forever after a free
Thus the population of the cities was steadily increased by the number of fugitives seeking shelter ; and as the cities grew stronger they became less inclined to surrender any of these fugitives to the titled land-owners who claimed them.
Such was the Feudal System in England when King John began his reign. It can easily be imagined that such an organization of society would be apt to create dissatisfaction throughout every class. The king railed at his nobles because of their tardy compliance with his demands for men and money. The greater nobles, in drawing on their inferiors to meet the royal exactions, added to the demand enough to supply their own requirements. The lesser lords and knights in turn forced their subordinates to give liberally, whilst the wretched commonalty were reduced to griping
hunger and abject misery in their ineffectual efforts to meet the hard extortions of their superiors.
With King John upon the throne, what there was of evil in the Feudal system became fully developed, what there might be of good disappeared from sight. There was no good feature in the king's character, no bound to his tyranny and oppression. His licentiousness and cruelty made some of the greater nobles furious with anger, and eager to revenge personal wrongs. His fair young nephew, Arthur of Brittany, the rightful heir to the English crown, was cruelly murdered by his order. At once a tyrant and a coward, he treated his subjects with cruelty, and robbed them without compunction, and at the same time made abject submission to the Pope of Rome, professing himself his mere servant. The kingdom of England he professed to hold from the Pope in the same manner that the nobles held their lands of the king, and bound himself to pay a tribute yearly to his acknowledged lord. Having made war on France, he set out to invade that country; but suddenly concluded a shameful peace, and turned his hordes of foreign soldiers, hired to fight for money, to rob, burn, outrage, and murder his own English subjects, rich and poor, churchman and lay. In fact, he treated his subjects as hated enemies, harassing them in every possible way.
It was a high day in the thriving and busy town of St. Edmund's Bury. The feast day of the great Saxon king and saint had come, and with the first light of that raw November day the roads were crowded with people on foot and on horseback, all making towards the town named after the saint, and where his body lay entombed. Barons and knights rode proudly on prancing steeds ; noble ladies, on gently ambling palfreys, were followed by squires and pages. A never-ending stream of commoner folk, staff in hand, trudged along the dusty highways.
The good people of the town were busily preparing for the reception and care of the vast crowd. The nobles and dames of rank rode straight to the great abbey, whose gates were opened wide to receive them; and on the refectory tables stores of provision were spread for their refreshment. The others visited their relatives, or the acquaintances they had made on previous visits. The sturdy archers and pikemen who had done hard duty in France or in the Holy Land sought out their comrades in long marches and fierce battles, and told, over the leather bottle of “jolly good ale and old,” tales of the glorious days when Richard of the Lion Heart led them against the Paynim, or when they overran the fair fields of France with fire and sword. Those who had neither friend nor comrade to entertain them sat by the roadside, or in the churchyard, and ate the food they had brought with them, or satisfied their hunger and thirst at the booths, put up in the churchyard for the refreshment of weary travellers and to “turn an honest Penny” for the booth-keepers.
The doors of the great church stood wide open, and up the broad steps tramped a motley crowd. Rich and poor, baron and churl, titled dame and blowzy milkmaid, pushed in side by side, marched reverently up the broad aisles, and dropped on their knees before the high altar, all ablaze with