Imágenes de páginas





[ocr errors]

"THE nobility of the Spensers," writes the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, "has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough, but I exhort them to consider the Faëry Queene' the most precious jewel in their coronet. Our immortal Fielding was of the younger branch of the Earls of Denbigh, who drew their origin from the Counts of Hapsburgh, the lineal descendants of Eltrico, in the seventh century Duke of Alsace. Far different have been the fortunes of the English and German divisions of the family of Hapsburgh : the former, the knights and sheriffs of Leicestershire, have slowly risen to the dignity of a peerage; the latter, the emperors of Germany and kings of Spain, have threatened the liberties of the Old, and invaded the treasures of the New World. The successors of Charles V. may disdain their brethren in England; but the romance of 'Tom Jones'—that exquisite picture of humour and mannerswill outlive the palace of the Escurial and the imperial Eagle of Austria." I

This gorgeous sketch of the antiquity of the Fielding family is not the mere creation of a luxuriant fancy. A manuscript genealogy is extant, which traces their descent. (1) Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works.


from Geoffrey, Count of Hapsburgh, who, being deprived of his possessions, and smarting under the oppression of his son Rodolph, Emperor of Germany-like many other chieftains in the days of knight-errantry-came to England, to offer his services to Henry III., who was then engaged in warfare with his revolted barons. Having settled in this country, he assumed the surname of Feilding, or Filding, as a memorial of his family pretensions to the dominion of Lauffenberg and Rinfilding. Count Geoffrey brought his valour to a good market, for his patron, King Henry, bestowed upon him divers rents and fees, of a considerable amount in the whole, for his support and maintenance. The descendants of the illustrious exile took an active part in most of the civil broils which have since vexed the realm of England. His great-grandson, Sir William Feilding, was a staunch adherent of the house of Lancaster during the war of the Roses, and fell at Tewkesbury. Sir Everard Feilding-who was Sir William's eldest son and successor-was sheriff of the counties of Warwick and Leicester, and commanded the army of Edward IV. at the battle of Stoke. At a later period, in the war between Charles I. and his Parliament, the Feildings also greatly signalised themselves. Sir William Feilding (who in 1620 had been created Baron and Viscount Feilding, and in 1622 Earl of Denbigh) fought stoutly for the royal prerogative, and fell, mortally wounded, on the 3rd of April, 1643, in a skirmish near Birmingham. His son Basil, who succeeded to his title and honours, also took an active part in this memorable struggle, but under a different banner. Civil strife, which divided the truest and staunchest friends, and pointed the swords of so many near and dear relatives against each other, arrayed the father and son upon opposite sides on the same battle-field. At Edgehill, the Earl of Denbigh fought under the royal standard, whilst his son Basil held a command in the parliament horse, and was stationed on the right wing of Essex's division, which broke

« AnteriorContinuar »