The following sections of this BookRags Literature Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.
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The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: "Social Concerns", "Thematic Overview", "Techniques", "Literary Precedents", "Key Questions", "Related Titles", "Adaptations", "Related Web Sites". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|INCIDENT IN THE LIFE OF DR. JOHNSON.||4|
|THE OLD PHILOSOPHER AND THE YOUNG LADY.||5|
|WORK IN THE WORLD.||16|
|CASTLES IN THE AIR.||18|
|THE DEATH OF NELSON.||20|
|LEARNING TO RIDE.||25|
|MOSES AT THE FAIR||27|
|WHANG THE MILLER.||29|
|NECESSITY THE MOTHER OF INVENTION.||36|
|GROWTH OF EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY.||49|
|THE BLACK PRINCE.||65|
|THE ASSEMBLY OF URI.||66|
|MY WINTER GARDEN.||70|
|ASPECTS OF NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN COUNTRIES.||72|
|COLUMBUS IN SIGHT OF LAND.||77|
|ROBBED IN THE DESERT.||82|
|THE VENERABLE BEDE.||87|
|THE DEATH OF ANSELM.||89|
|THE MURDER OF BECKET.||91|
|THE DEATH OF ELIZABETH||94|
|THE BATTLE OF NASEBY.||101|
|THE PILGRIMS AND GIANT DESPAIR.||103|
|A HARD WINTER.||108|
|A PORTENTOUS SUMMER.||110|
|CHARACTER OF SIR WALTER SCOTT.||111|
|THE PORTEOUS MOB.||114|
|THE CRIMEAN WAR.||126|
|THE PLEASURES OF A LIFE OF LABOUR.||132|
|THE FLIGHT OF BIRDS.||135|
|THE BATTLE OF CORUNNA.||138|
|BATTLE OF ALBUERA.||140|
|CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE AT BALAKLAVA.||142|
|THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.||143|
|ACROSS THE DESERT OF NUBIA.||153|
|A SHIPWRECK ON THE ARABIAN COAST.||156|
|AN ARABIAN TOWN.||158|
|THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAIL.||162|
|VISIT TO SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY’S COUNTRY SEAT.||164|
|THE DEAD ASS.||165|
Incident in the life of Dr. Johnson Warner’s Tour in the Northern Counties.
The old philosopher and the young lady Jane Taylor
Barbara S—— Charles Lamb
Dr. Arnold Tom Brown’s School Days
BOYHOOD’S work [ditto]
Work in the world [ditto]
Castles in the air Addison
The death of Nelson Southey
LEARNING TO RIDE T. Hughes
MOSES AT THE FAIR Goldsmith
WHANG THE MILLER [ditto]
AN ESCAPE Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
NECESSITY THE MOTHER OF INVENTION [ditto]
LABRADOR Southey’s Omniana
GROWTH OF EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY Robertson
A WHALE HUNT Scott
A SHIPWRECK Charles Kingsley
THE BLACK PRINCE Dean Stanley
THE ASSEMBLY OF URI E.A. Freeman
MY WINTER GARDEN Charles Kingsley
ASPECTS OF NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN COUNTRIES John Ruskin
COLUMBUS IN SIGHT OF LAND Washington Irving
COLUMBUS SHIPWRECKED [ditto]
ROBBED IN THE DESERT Mungo Park
ARISTIDES Plutarch’s Lives
THE VENERABLE BEDE J.R. Green
THE DEATH OF ANSELM Dean Church
THE MURDER OF BECKET Dean Stanley
THE DEATH OF ELIZABETH J.R. Green
THE BATTLE OF NASEBY Defoe
THE PILGRIMS AND GIANT DESPAIR Bunyan
A HARD WINTER Rev. Gilbert White
A PORTENTOUS SUMMER [ditto]
A THUNDERSTORM [ditto]
CHARACTER OF SIR WALTER SCOTT J. Lockhart
MUMPS’S HALL Scott
THE PORTEOUS MOB [ditto]
THE PORTEOUS MOB (continued) [ditto]
JOSIAH WEDGWOOD Speech by Mr. Gladstone
THE CRIMEAN WAR Speech by Mr. Disraeli
NATIONAL MORALITY Speech by Mr. Bright
THE PLEASURES OF A LIFE OF LABOUR Hugh Miller
THE FLIGHT OF BIRDS Rev. Gilbert White
THE BATTLE OF CORUNNA Napier
BATTLE OF ALBUERA Napier
CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE AT BALAKLAVA The “Times” Correspondent
AFRICAN HOSPITALITY Mungo Park
ACROSS THE DESERT OF NUBIA Bruce’s Travels
A SHIPWRECK ON THE ARABIAN COAST W.G. Palgrave
AN ARABIAN TOWN W.G. Palgrave
THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAIL Sir Thomas Malory
VISIT TO SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY’S COUNTRY SEAT Addison
THE DEAD ASS Sterne
THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH H.W. Longfellow
MEN OF ENGLAND Campbell
A BALLAD Goldsmith
A PSALM OF LIFE H.W. Longfellow
THE ANT AND THE CATERPILLAR Cunningham
REPORT OF AN ADJUDGED CASE Couper
THE INCHCAPE BELL Southey
BATTLE OF THE BALME Campbell
THE CHAMELEON Merrick
A WISH Pope
A SEA SONG Cunningham
ON THE LOSS OF THE ‘ROYAL GEORGE’ Cowper
RULE BRITANNIA Thomson
ANCIENT GREECE Byron
THE TEMPLE OF FAME Pope
A HAPPY LIFE Sir Henry Wotton
MAN’S SERVANTS George Herbert
VIRTUE George Herbert
DEATH THE CONQUEROR James Shirley
THE PASSIONS Collins
THE VISION OF BELSHAZZAR Byron
YE MARINERS OF ENGLAND Campbell
A SHIPWRECK Byron
THE HAPPY WARRIOR Wordsworth
THE TROSACHS Scott
LOCHIEL’S WARNING Campbell
REST FROM BATTLE Pope
THE SAXON AND THE GAEL Scott
THE SAXON AND THE GAEL (continued) Scott
THE WINTER EVENING Cowper
HYMN TO DIANA Ben Jonson
THE VILLAGE Goldsmith
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE Shakespeare
IL PENSEROSO Milton
Throughout this book, and the next, you will find passages taken from the writings of the best English authors. But the passages are not all equal, nor are they all such as we would call “the best,” and the more you read and are able to judge them for yourselves, the better you will be able to see what is the difference between the best and those that are not so good.
By the best authors are meant those who have written most skilfully in prose and verse. Some of these have written in prose, because they wished to tell us something more fully and freely than they could do if they tied themselves to lines of an equal number of syllables, or ending with the same sound, as men do when they write poetry. Others have written in verse, because they wished rather to make us think over and over again about the same thing, and, by doing so, to teach us, gradually, how much we could learn from one thing; if we think sufficiently long and carefully about it; and, besides this, they knew that rhythmical or musical language would keep longest in our memory anything which they wished to remain there; and by being stored up in our mind, would enrich us in all our lives after.
In these books you will find pieces taken from authors both in prose and verse. But of the authors who have made themselves famous by the books which they have written in our language, many had to be set aside. Because many writers, though their books are famous, have written so long ago, that the language which they use, though it is really the same language as our own, is yet so old-fashioned that it is not readily understood. By and by, when you are older, you may read these books, and find it interesting to notice how the language is gradually changing; so that, though we can easily understand what our grandfathers or our great grandfathers wrote, yet we cannot understand, without carefully studying it, what was written by our own ancestors a thousand, or even five hundred, years ago.
The first thing, however, that you have to do—and, perhaps, this book may help you to do it—is to learn what is the best way of writing or speaking our own language of the present day. You cannot learn this better than by reading and remembering what has been written by men, who, because they were very great, or because they laboured very hard, have obtained a great command over the language. When we speak of obtaining a command over language we mean that they have been able to say, in simple, plain words, exactly what they mean. This is not so easy a matter as you may at first think it to be. Those who write well do not use roundabout ways of saying a thing, or they might weary us; they do not use words or expressions which might mean one or other of two things, or they might confuse us; they do not use bombastic language, or language which is like a vulgar and too gaudy dress, or they might make us laugh at them; they do not use exaggerated language, or, worse than all, they might deceive us. If you look at many books which are written at the present day, or at many of the newspapers which appear every morning, you will find that those who write them often forget these rules; and after we have read for a short time what they have written, we are doubtful about what they mean, and only sure that they are trying to attract foolish people, who like bombastic language as they like too gaudy dress, and are caring little whether what they write is strictly true or not.
It is, therefore, very important that you should take as your examples those who have written very well and very carefully, and who have been afraid lest by any idle or careless expression they might either lead people to lose sight of what is true, or might injure our language, which has grown up so slowly, which is so dear to us, and the beauty of which we might, nevertheless, so easily throw away.
As you read specimens of what these authors have written, you will find that they excel chiefly in the following ways:
First. They tell us just what they mean; neither more nor less.
Secondly. They never leave us doubtful as to anything we ought to know in order to understand them. If they tell us a story, they make us feel as if we saw all that they tell us, actually taking place.
Thirdly. They are very careful never to use a word unless it is necessary; never to think a word so worthless a thing that it can be dragged in only because it sounds well.
Fourthly. When they rouse our feelings, they do so, not that they may merely excite or amuse us, but that they may make us sympathise more fully with what they have to tell.
In these matters they are mostly alike; but in other matters you will find that they differ from each other greatly. Our language has come from two sources. One of these is the English language as talked by our remote ancestors, the other is the Latin language, which came to us through French, and from which we borrowed a great deal when our language was getting into the form it now has. Many of our words and expressions, therefore, are Old English, while others are borrowed from Latin. Some authors prefer to use, where they can, old English words and expressions, which are shorter, plainer, and more direct; others prefer the Latin words, which are more ornamental and elaborate, and perhaps fit for explaining what is obscure, and for showing us the difference between things that are very like. This is one great contrast; and there are others which you will see for yourselves as you go on. And while you notice carefully what is good in each, you should be careful not to imitate too exactly the peculiarities, which may be the faults, in any one.
* * * * *
During the last visit Dr. Johnson paid to Lichfield, the friends with whom he was staying missed him one morning at the breakfast-table. On inquiring after him of the servants, they understood he had set off from Lichfield at a very early hour, without mentioning to any of the family whither he was going. The day passed without the return of the illustrious guest, and the party began to be very uneasy on his account, when, just before the supper-hour, the door opened, and the doctor stalked into the room. A solemn silence of a few minutes ensued, nobody daring to inquire the cause of his absence, which was at last relieved by Johnson addressing the lady of the house in the following manner:—“Madam, I beg your pardon for the abruptness of my departure from your house this morning, but I was constrained to it by my conscience. Fifty years ago, madam, on this day, I committed a breach of filial piety, which has ever since lain heavy on my mind, and has not till this day been expiated. My father, as you recollect, was a bookseller, and had long been in the habit of attending Lichfield market, and opening a stall for the sale of his books during that day. Confined to his bed by indisposition, he requested me, this time fifty years ago, to visit the market, and attend the stall in his place. But, madam, my pride prevented me from doing my duty, and I gave my father a refusal. To do away the sin of this
Warner’s Tour in the
[Notes: Dr. Samuel Johnson, born 1709, died 1784 By hard and unaided toil he won his way to the front rank among the literary men of his day. He deserves the honour of having been the first to free literature from the thraldom of patronage.
Filial piety. Piety is used here not in a religious sense, but in its stricter sense of dutifulness. In Virgil “the Pious Aneas” means “Aneas who showed dutifulness to his father.”]
* * * * *
“Alas!” exclaimed a silver-headed sage, “how narrow is the utmost extent of human knowledge! I have spent my life in acquiring knowledge, but how little do I know! The farther I attempt to penetrate the secrets of nature, the more I am bewildered and benighted. Beyond a certain limit all is but conjecture: so that the advantage of the learned over the ignorant consists greatly in having ascertained how little is to be known.
“It is true that I can measure the sun, and compute the distances of the planets; I can calculate their periodical movements, and even ascertain the laws by which they perform their sublime revolutions; but with regard to their construction, to the beings which inhabit them, their condition and circumstances, what do I know more than the clown?— Delighting to examine the economy of nature in our own world, I have analyzed the elements, and given names to their component parts. And yet, should I not be as much at a loss to explain the burning of fire, or to account for the liquid quality of water, as the vulgar, who use and enjoy them without thought or examination?—I remark, that all bodies, unsupported, fall to the ground, and I am taught to account for this by the law of gravitation. But what have I gained here more than a term? Does it convey to my mind any idea of the nature of that mysterious and invisible chain which draws all things to a common centre?—Pursuing the track of the naturalist, I have learned to distinguish the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms, and to divide these into their distinct tribes and families;—but can I tell, after all this toil, whence a single blade of grass derives its vitality?—Could the most minute researches enable me to discover the exquisite pencil that paints the flower of the field? and have I ever detected the secret that gives their brilliant dye to the ruby and the emerald, or the art that enamels
“Alas! then, what have I gained by my laborious researches but an humbling conviction of my weakness and ignorance! Of how little has man, at his best estate, to boast! What folly in him to glory in his contracted powers, or to value himself upon his imperfect acquisitions!”
* * * * *
“Well!” exclaimed a young lady, just returned from school, “my education is at last finished: indeed, it would be strange if, after five years’ hard application, anything were left incomplete. Happily, it is all over now, and I have nothing to do but exercise my various accomplishments.
“Let me see!—as to French, I am mistress of that, and speak it, if possible, with more fluency than English. Italian I can read with ease, and pronounce very well, as well at least, and better, than any of my friends; and that is all one need wish for in Italian. Music I have learned till I am perfectly sick of it. But, now that we have a grand piano, it will be delightful to play when we have company. And then there are my Italian songs, which everybody allows I sing with taste, and as it is what so few people can pretend to, I am particularly glad that I can. My drawings are universally admired, especially the shells and flowers, which are beautiful, certainly: besides this, I have a decided taste in all kinds of fancy ornaments. And then, my dancing and waltzing, in which our master himself owned that he could take me no farther;—just the figure for it certainly! it would be unpardonable if I did not excel. As to common things, geography, and history, and poetry, and philosophy, thank my stars, I have got through them all! so that I may consider myself not only perfectly accomplished, but also thoroughly well informed.
“Well, to be sure, how much I have fagged through; the only wonder is that one head can contain it all!”
[Note: “Blackstone’s Commentaries” The great standard work on the theory and practice of the English law; written by Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780).]
* * * * *
THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH.
Under a spreading
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp,
and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
Week in, week
out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.
And children coming
home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.
He goes on Sunday
to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him
like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!
[Notes: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the foremost among contemporary American poets. Born in 1807. His chief poems are ‘Evangeline’ and ‘Hiawatha.’
His face is like the tan. Tan is the bark of the oak, bruised and broken for tanning leather.
Thus at the flaming forge of life, &c. = As iron is softened at the forge and beaten into shape on the anvil, so by the trials and circumstances of life, our thoughts and actions are influenced and our characters and destinies decided. The metaphor is made more complicated by being broken up.]
* * * * *
MEN OF ENGLAND.
Men of England!
Rights that cost your sires their blood!
Men whose undegenerate spirit
Has been proved on land and flood:
By the foes ye’ve
By the glorious deeds ye’ve done,
Trophies captured—breaches mounted,
Navies conquer’d—kingdoms won!
Hence but fruitless wreaths of fame,
If the virtues of your fathers
Glow not in your hearts the same.
What are monuments
Where no public virtues bloom?
What avail in lands of slavery
Trophied temples, arch, and tomb?
the world revere us
For our people’s rights and laws,
And the breasts of civic heroes
Bared in Freedom’s holy cause.
Yours are Hampden’s Russell’s
Sydney’s matchless shade is your,—
Martyrs in heroic story,
Worth a thousand Agincourts!
We’re the sons of sires
Crown’d and mitred tyranny:
They defied the field and scaffold,
For their birthrights—so will we.
[Notes: Thomas Campbell, born 1777, died 1844. Author of the ‘Pleasures of Hope,’ ‘Gertrude of Wyoming,’ and many lyrics. His poetry is careful, scholarlike and polished. Men whose undegenerate spirit, &c. In prose, this would run, “(Ye) men whose spirit has been proved (to be) undegenerate,” &c. The word “undegenerate,” which is introduced only as an epithet, is the real predicate of the sentence.
By the foes ye’ve fought uncounted. “Uncounted” agreeing with “foes.”
Fruitless wreaths of fame. A poetical figure, taken from the wreaths of laurel given as prizes in the ancient games of Greece. “Past history will give fame to a country, but nothing more fruitful than fame, unless its virtues are kept alive.”
Trophied temples, i.e., Temples hung (after the fashion of the ancients) with trophies.
Arch, i.e., the triumphal arch erected by the Romans in honour of victorious generals.
Pageants = “these are nought but pageants.”
And (for) the beasts of civic heroes. Civic heroes, those who have striven for the rights of their fellow citizens.
Hampden, i.e., John Hampden (born 1594, died 1643), the maintainer of the rights of the people in the reign of Charles I. He resisted the imposition of ship-money, and died in a skirmish at Chalgrove during the Civil War.
Russell, i.e., Lord William Russell, beheaded in 1683, in the reign of Charles II. on a charge of treason. He had resisted the Court in its aims at establishing the doctrine of passive obedience.
Sydney, i.e., Algernon Sydney. The friend of Russell, who met with the same fate in the same year.
Sydney’s matchless shade. Shade = spirit or memory.
Agincourt. The victory won by Henry V. in France, in 1415.
Crown’d and mitred tyranny. Explain this.]
* * * * *
On the noon of the 14th of November, 1743, just as the clock had struck one, Barbara S——, with her accustomed punctuality, ascended the long, rabbling staircase, with awkward interposed landing-places, which led to the office, or rather a sort of box with a desk in it, whereat sat the then Treasurer of the Old Bath Theatre. All over the island it was the custom, and remains so I believe to this day, for the players to receive their weekly stipend on the Saturday. It was not much that Barbara had to claim.
This little maid had just entered her eleventh year; but her important station at the theatre, as it seemed to her, with the benefits which she felt to accrue from her pious application of her small earnings, had given an air of womanhood her steps and to her behaviour. You would have taken her to have been at least five years older. Till latterly she had merely been employed in choruses, or where children were wanted to fill up the scene. But the manager, observing a diligence and adroitness in her above her age, had for some few months past intrusted to her the performance of whole parts. You may guess the self-consequence of the promoted Barbara.
* * * * *
The parents of Barbara had been in reputable circumstances. The father had practised, I believe, as an apothecary in the town. But his practice, from causes for which he was himself to blame, or perhaps from that pure infelicity which accompanies some people in their walk through life, and which it is impossible to lay at the door of imprudence, was now reduced to nothing. They were, in fact, in the very teeth of starvation, when the manager, who knew and respected them in better days, took the little Barbara into his company.
At the period I commenced with, her slender earnings were the sole support of the family, including two younger sisters. I must throw a veil over some mortifying circumstances. Enough to say, that her Saturday’s pittance was the only chance of a Sunday’s meal of meat.
This was the little starved, meritorious maid, stood before old Ravenscroft, the treasurer, for her Saturday’s payment. Ravenscroft was a man, I have heard many old theatrical people besides herself say, of all men least calculated for a treasurer. He had no head for accounts, paid away at random, kept scarce any books, and summing up at the week’s end, if he found himself a pound or so deficient, blest himself that it was no more.
Now Barbara’s weekly stipend was a bare half-guinea. By mistake he popped into her hand a whole one.
Barbara tripped away.
She was entirely unconscious at first of the mistake:
Ravenscroft would never have discovered it.
But when she had got down to the first of those uncouth landing-places she became sensible of an unusual weight of metal pressing her little hand.
Now, mark the dilemma.
She was by nature a good child. From her parents and those about her she had imbibed no contrary influence. But then they had taught her nothing. Poor men’s smoky cabins are not always porticoes of moral philosophy. This little maid had no instinct to evil, but then she might be said to have no fixed principle. She had heard honesty commended, but never dreamed of its application to herself. She thought of it as something which concerned grown-up people, men and women. She had never known temptation, or thought of preparing resistance against it.
Her first impulse was to go back to the old treasurer, and explain to him his blunder. He was already so confused with age, besides a natural want of punctuality, that she would have had some difficulty in making him understand it. She saw that in an instant. And then it was such a bit of money: and then the image of a larger allowance of butcher’s meat on their table next day came across her, till her little eyes glistened, and her mouth moistened. But then Mr. Ravenscroft had always been so good-natured, had stood her friend behind the scenes, and even recommended her promotion to some of her little parts. But again the old man was reputed to be worth a world of money. He was supposed to have fifty pounds a year clear of the theatre. And then came staring upon her the figures of her little stockingless and shoeless sisters. And when she looked at her own neat white cotton stockings, which her situation at the theatre had made it indispensable for her mother to provide for her, with hard straining and pinching from the family stock, and thought how glad she should be to cover their poor feet with the same, and how then they could accompany her to rehearsals, which they had hitherto been precluded from doing, by reason of their unfashionable attire,—in these thoughts she reached the second landing-place—the second, I mean, from the top—for there was still another left to traverse.
Now, virtue, support Barbara!
And that never-failing friend did step in; for at that moment a strength not her own, I have heard her say, was revealed to her—a reason above reasoning—and without her own agency, as it seemed (for she never felt her feet to move), she found herself transported back to the individual desk she had just quitted, and her hand in the old hand of Ravenscroft, who in silence took back the refunded treasure, and who had been sitting (good man) insensible to the lapse of minutes, which to her were anxious ages; and from that moment a deep peace fell upon her heart, and she knew the quality of honesty.
A year or two’s unrepining application to her profession brightened up the feet and the prospects of her little sisters, set the whole family upon their legs again, and released her from the difficulty of discussing moral dogmas upon a landing-place.
Essays of Elia, by CHARLES LAMB.
* * * * *
“Turn, gentle Hermit of
And guide my lonely way
To where yon taper cheers the vale
With hospitable ray.
“For here forlorn and
lost I tread,
With fainting steps and slow,
Where wilds, immeasurably spread,
Seem lengthening as I go.”
“Forbear, my son,”
the Hermit cries,
“To tempt the dangerous gloom;
For yonder faithless phantom flies
To lure thee to thy doom.
“Here to the houseless
child of want
My door is open still;
And, though my portion is but scant,
I give it with good will.
“Then turn to-night, and
Whate’er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.
“No flocks that range
the valley free
To slaughter I condemn;
Taught by that Power that pities me,
I learn to pity them:
“But from the mountain’s
A guiltless feast I bring;
A scrip with herbs and fruits supplied,
And water from the spring.
“Then, pilgrim turn; thy
All earth-born cares are wrong:
Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long.”
Soft as the dew from heaven
His gentle accents fell:
The modest stranger lowly bends,
And follows to the cell.
Far in a wilderness obscure
The lonely mansion lay,
A refuge to the neighbouring poor,
And strangers led astray.
No stores beneath its humble
Required a master’s care;
The wicket, opening with a latch,
Received the harmless pair.
And now, when busy crowds retire
To take their evening rest,
The Hermit trimm’d his little fire,
And cheer’d his pensive guest;
And spread his vegetable store,
And gaily pressed, and smiled;
And, skill’d in legendary lore,
The lingering hours beguiled.
Around, in sympathetic mirth,
Its tricks the kitten tries,
The cricket chirrups on the hearth,
The crackling faggot flies.
But nothing could a charm impart
To soothe the stranger’s woe;
For grief was heavy at his heart,
And tears began to flow.
His rising cares the Hermit
With answering care oppress’d;
And, “Whence, unhappy youth,” he cried,
“The sorrows of thy breast?”
“From better habitations
Reluctant dost thou rove?
Or grieve for friendship unreturn’d,
Or unregarded love?”
“Alas! the joys that fortune
Are trifling, and decay;
And those who prize the paltry things,
More trifling still are they.”
“And what is friendship
but a name,
A charm that lulls to sleep;
A shade that follows wealth or fame,
But leaves the wretch to weep?”
“And love is still an
The modern fair one’s jest;
On earth unseen, or only found
To warm the turtle’s nest.”
“For shame, fond youth,
thy sorrows hush,
And spurn the sex,” he said;
But while he spoke, a rising blush
His love-lorn guest betray’d.
Surprised he sees new beauties
Swift mantling to the view;
Like colours o’er the morning skies,
As bright, as transient too.
The bashful look, the rising
Alternate spread alarms:
The lovely stranger stands confess’d
A maid in all her charms.
And, “Ah! forgive a stranger
A wretch forlorn,” she cried;
“Whose feet unhallow’d thus intrude
Where Heaven and you reside.”
“But let a maid thy pity
Whom love has taught to stray;
Who seeks for rest, but finds despair
Companion of her way.”
“My father lived beside
A wealthy lord was he;
And all his wealth was mark’d as mine,
He had but only me.”
“To win me from his tender
Unnumber’d suitors came,
Who praised me for imputed charms,
And felt, or feign’d, a flame.”
“Each hour a mercenary
With richest proffers strove:
Amongst the rest, young Edwin bow’d,
But never talk’d of love.”
“In humble, simple habit
No wealth nor power had he:
Wisdom and worth were all he had,
But these were all to me.
“And when, beside me in
He caroll’d lays of love,
His breath lent fragrance to the gale,
And music to the grove.
“The blossom opening to
The dews of heaven refined,
Could nought of purity display
To emulate his mind.
“The dew, the blossom
on the tree,
With charms inconstant shine:
Their charms were his, but, woe to me,
Their constancy was mine.
“For still I tried each
Importunate and vain;
And, while his passion touch’d my heart,
I triumph’d in his pain:
“Till, quite dejected
with my scorn,
He left me to my pride;
And sought a solitude forlorn,
In secret, where he died.
“But mine the sorrow,
mine the fault,
And well my life shall pay:
I’ll seek the solitude he sought,
And stretch me where he lay.
“And there, forlorn, despairing,
I’ll lay me down and die;
’Twas so for me that Edwin did,
And so for him will I.”
“Forbid it, Heaven!”
the Hermit cried,
And clasp’d her to his breast:
The wondering fair one turn’d to chide—
’Twas Edwin’s self that press’d!
“Turn, Angelina, ever
My charmer, turn to see
Thy own, thy long-lost Edwin here,
Restored to love and thee.
“Thus let me hold thee
to my heart,
And every care resign:
And shall we never, never part,
My life—my all that’s mine?
“No, never from this hour
We’ll live and love so true,
The sigh that rends thy constant heart
Shall break thy Edwin’s too.”
[Notes: Oliver Goldsmith, poet and novelist. The friend and contemporary of Johnson, Burke, and Reynolds. Born 1728, died 1774.
This poem is introduced into ‘The Vicar of Wakefield,’ and Goldsmith there says of it, “It is at least free from the false taste of loading the lines with epithets;” or as he puts it more fully “a string of epithets that improve the sound without carrying on the sense.”
“Immeasurably spread” = spread to an immeasurable length.
No flocks that range the valleys free. “Free” may be joined either with flocks or with valley.
Note the position of the negative, “No flocks that range,” &c. = I do not condemn the flocks that range.
Guiltless feast. Because it does not involve the death of a fellow-creature.
Scrip. A purse or wallet; a word of Teutonic origin. Distinguish from scrip, a writing or certificate, from the Latin word scribo, I write.
Far in a wilderness obscure. Obscure goes with mansion, not with wilderness.
And gaily pressed (him to eat).
With answering care, i.e., with sympathetic care.
A charm that lulls to sleep. Charm is here in its proper sense: that of a thing pleasing to the fancy is derivative.
A shade that follows wealth or fame. A shade = a ghost or phantom.
Swift mantling, &c. Spreading quickly over, like a cloak or mantle.
Where heaven and you reside = where you, whose only thoughts are of Heaven, reside.
Whom love has taught to stray. This use of the word “taught” for “made” or “forced,” is taken from a Latin idiom, as in Virgil, “He teaches the woods to ring with the name of Amaryllis.” It is stronger than “made” or “forced,” and implies, as here, that she had forgotten all but the wandering life that is now hers.
He had but only me. But or only is redundant.
To emulate his mind = to be equal to his mind in purity.
Their constancy was mine. This verse has often been accused of violating sense; but, however artificial the expression may be, neither the sense is obscure, nor the way of expressing it inaccurate. It is evidently only another way of saying “in the little they had of constancy they resembled me as they resembled him in their charms.”]
* * * * *
We listened, as all boys in their better moods will listen (ay, and men too, for the matter of that), to a man whom we felt to be, with all his heart and soul and strength, striving against whatever was mean and unmanly and unrighteous in our little world. It was not the cold, clear voice of one giving advice and warning from serene heights to those who were struggling and sinning below, but the warm, living voice of one who was fighting for us, and by our sides, and calling on us to help him and ourselves and one another. And so, wearily and little by little, but surely and steadily on the whole, was brought home to the young boy, for the first time, the meaning of his life: that it was no fool’s or sluggard’s paradise into which he had wandered by chance, but a battle-field ordained from of old, where there are no spectators, but the youngest must take his side, and the stakes are life and death. And he who roused this consciousness in them showed them, at the same time, by every word he spoke in the pulpit, and
It was this quality, above all others, which moved such boys as Tom Brown, who had nothing whatever remarkable about him except excess of boyishness; by which I mean animal life in its fullest measure; good nature and honest impulses, hatred of injustice and meanness, and thoughtlessness enough to sink a three-decker. And so, during the next two years, in which it was more than doubtful whether he would get good or evil from the school, and before any steady purpose or principle grew up in him, whatever his week’s sins and shortcomings might have been, he hardly ever left the chapel on Sunday evenings without a serious resolve to stand by and follow the doctor, and a feeling that it was only cowardice (the incarnation of all other sins in such a boy’s mind) which hindered him from doing so with all his heart.
Tom Brown’s School Days.
[Note: Dr. Arnold, the head-master of Rugby School, died 1842. His life, which gives an account of the work done by him to promote education, has been written by Dean Stanley.]
* * * * *
Patriots have toil’d,
and in their country’s cause
Bled nobly; and their deeds, as they deserve,
Receive proud recompense. We give in charge
Their names to the sweet lyre. The Historic Muse,
Proud of the treasure, marches with it down
To latest times; and Sculpture, in her turn,
Gives bond in stone and ever-during brass
To guard them, and to immortalize her trust.
But fairer wreaths are due—though never paid—
To those who, posted at the shrine of Truth,
Have fallen in her defence. A patriot’s blood,
Well spent in such a strife, may earn indeed,
And for a time ensure, to his loved land
The sweets of liberty and equal laws;
But martyrs struggle for a brighter prize,
And win it with more pain. Their blood is shed
In confirmation of the noblest claim,—
Our claim to feed upon immortal truth,
To walk with God, to be divinely free,
To soar and to anticipate the skies.—
Yet few remember them! They lived unknown,
Till persecution dragged them into fame,
And chased them up to Heaven.
[Notes:_William Cowper_ (born 1731, died 1800), the author of ’The Task,’ ‘Progress of Error,’ ‘Truth,’ and many other poems; all marked by the same pure thought and chaste language.
This poem is written in what is called “blank verse,” i.e., verse in which the lines do not rhyme, the rhythm depending on the measure of the verse.
To the sweet lyre = To the poet, whose lyre (or poetry) is to keep their names alive.
The Historic Muse. The ancients held that there were nine Muses or Goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences; and of these, one was the Muse of History.
Gives bond in stone, &c. = Pledges herself. The pith of the phrase is in its almost homely simplicity, the more striking in its contrast with the classical allusions by which it is surrounded.
Her trust, i.e., what is trusted to her.
To anticipate the skies = to ennoble our life and so approach that higher life we hope for after death.
Till persecution dragged them into fame = forced them by its cruelty to become famous against their will.
No marble tells us whither. Because they have no tombstone and no epitaph.]
* * * * *
A PSALM OF LIFE.
Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
“Dust thou art, to dust returnest;”
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act that each to-morrow
Finds us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field
In the Bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;—
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.
[Notes:_Art is long, and time is fleeting_. A translation from the Latin, Ars longa, vita brevis est.
The metaphor in the last two stanzas in this page is strangely mixed. Footprints could hardly be seen by those sailing over the main.]
* * * * *
In no place in the world has individual character more weight than at a public school. Remember this, I beseech you, all you boys who are getting into the upper forms. Now is the time in all your lives, probably, when you may have more wide influence for good or evil in the society you live in than you ever can have again. Quit yourselves like men, then; speak up, and strike out, if necessary, for whatsoever is true, and manly, and lovely, and of good report; never try to be popular, but only to do your duty, and help others to do theirs, and you may leave the tone of feeling in the school higher than you found it, and so be doing good, which no living soul can measure, to generations of your countrymen yet unborn. For boys follow one another in herds like sheep, for good or evil; they hate thinking, and have rarely any settled principles. Every school, indeed, has its own traditionary standard of right and wrong, which cannot be transgressed with impunity, marking certain things as low and blackguard, and certain others as lawful and right. This standard is ever varying, though it changes only slowly, and little by little; and, subject only to such standard, it is the leading boys for the time being who give the tone to all the rest, and make the school either a noble institution for the training of Christian Englishmen, or a place where a young boy will get more evil than he would if he were turned out to make his way in London streets, or anything between these two extremes.
* * * * *
“I want to be at work in the world,” said Tom, “and not dawdling away three years at Oxford.”
“What do you mean by ‘at work in the world?’” said the master, pausing, with his lips close to his saucerful of tea, and peering at Tom over it.
“Well, I mean real work; one’s profession, whatever one will have really to do, and make one’s living by. I want to be doing some real good, feeling that I am not only at play in the world,” answered Tom, rather puzzled to find out himself what he really did mean.
“You are mixing up two very different things in your head, I think, Brown,” said the master, putting down the empty saucer, “and you ought to get clear about them. You talk of ‘working to get your living,’ and ‘doing some real good in the world,’ in the same breath. Now, you may be getting a very good living in a profession, and yet doing no good at all in the world, but quite the contrary, at the same time. Keep the latter
Tom Brown’s School Days.
* * * * *
THE ANT AND THE CATERPILLAR
As an ant, of his talents
Was trotting, with consequence, over the plain,
A worm, in his progress remarkably slow,
Cried—“Bless your good worship wherever you go;
I hope your great mightiness won’t take it ill,
I pay my respects with a hearty good-will.”
With a look of contempt, and impertinent pride,
“Begone, you vile reptile,” his antship replied;
“Go—go, and lament your contemptible state,
But first—look at me—see my limbs how complete;
I guide all my motions with freedom and ease,
Run backward and forward, and turn when I please;
Of nature (grown weary) you shocking essay!
I spurn you thus from me—crawl out of my way.”
The reptile, insulted and vex’d to the soul,
Crept onwards, and hid himself close in his hole;
But nature, determined to end his distress,
Soon sent him abroad in a butterfly’s dress.
Erelong the proud ant, as repassing the road,
(Fatigued from the harvest, and tugging his load),
The beau on a violet-bank he beheld,
Whose vesture, in glory, a monarch’s excelled;
His plumage expanded—’twas rare to behold
So lovely a mixture of purple and gold.
The ant, quite amazed at a figure so gay,
Bow’d low with respect, and was trudging away.
“Stop, friend,” says the butterfly; “don’t be surprised,
I once was the reptile you spurn’d and despised;
But now I can mount, in the sunbeams I play,
While you must for ever drudge on in your way.”
[Note: Of nature (grown weary) you shocking essay = you wretched attempt (= essay) by nature, when she had grown weary.]
* * * * *
OF AN ADJUDGED CASE, NOT TO BE FOUND IN
ANY OF THE BOOKS.
Between Nose and Eyes a strange
The spectacles set them unhappily wrong;
The point in dispute was, as all the world knows,
To which the said spectacles ought to belong.
So Tongue was the lawyer,
and argued the cause,
With a great deal of skill, and a wig full of learning,
While chief baron Ear sat to balance the laws,
So fam’d for his talent in nicely discerning.
In behalf of the Nose it will
And your lordship, he said, will undoubtedly find,
That the nose has had spectacles always in wear,
Which amounts to possession time out of mind.
Then holding the spectacles
up to the court—
Your lordship observes they are made with a straddle,
As wide as the ridge of the nose is; in short,
Designed to sit close to it, just like a saddle.
Again, would your lordship
a moment suppose
(’Tis a case that has happen’d, and may be again)
That the visage or countenance had not a nose,
Pray who would, or who could, wear spectacles then?
On the whole it appears, and
my argument shows,
With a reasoning the court will never condemn,
That the spectacles plainly were made for the Nose,
And the Nose was as plainly intended for them.
Then shifting his side as a lawyer
He pleaded again in behalf of the Eyes;
But what were his arguments few people know,
For the court did not think they were equally wise.
So his lordship decreed, with a
grave, solemn tone,
Decisive and clear, without one if or but—
That, whenever the Nose put his Spectacles on,
By daylight or candlelight—Eyes should be shut!
* * * * *
Alnaschar was a very idle fellow, that never would set his hand to any business during his father’s life. When his father died he left him to the value of a hundred drachmas in Persian money. Alnaschar, in order to make the best of it, laid it out in bottles, glasses, and the finest earthenware. These he piled up in a large open basket; and, having made choice of a very little shop, placed the basket at his feet, and leaned his back upon the wall in expectation of customers. As he sat in this posture, with his eyes upon the basket, he fell into a most amusing train of thought, and was overheard by one of his neighbours, as he talked to himself in the following manner:—“This basket,” says he, “cost me at the wholesale merchant’s a hundred drachmas, which is all I had in the world. I shall quickly make two hundred of it by selling it in retail. These two hundred drachmas will in a very little while rise to four hundred; which, of course, will amount in time to four thousand. Four thousand drachmas cannot fail of making eight thousand. As soon as by these means I am master of ten thousand, I will lay aside my trade of a glass-man and turn jeweller. I shall then deal in diamonds, pearls, and all sorts of rich stones. When I
“When I have brought the princess to my house, I shall take particular care to breed her in due respect for me. To this end I shall confine her to her own apartments, make her a short visit, and talk but little to her. Her women will represent to me that she is inconsolable by reason of my unkindness; but I shall still remain inexorable. Her mother will then come and bring her daughter to me, as I am seated on a sofa. The daughter, with tears in her eyes, will fling herself at my feet, and beg me to receive her into my favour. Then will I, to imprint her with a thorough veneration for my person, draw up my legs, and spurn her from me with my foot in such a manner that she shall fall down several paces from the sofa.”
Alnaschar was entirely swallowed up in his vision, and could not forbear acting with his foot what he had in his thoughts: so that, unluckily striking his basket of brittle ware, which was the foundation of all his grandeur, he kicked his glasses to a great distance from him into the street, and broke them into ten thousand pieces.
[Note: Joseph Addison, born 1672, died 1719. Chiefly famous as a critic and essayist. His calm sense and judgment, and the attraction of his style, have rendered his writings favourites from his own time to ours.]
* * * * *
THE INCHCAPE BELL.
on the air, no swell on the sea,
The ship was still as she might be:
The sails from heaven received no motion;
The keel was steady in the ocean.
sign nor sound of shock,
The waves flow’d o’er the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
abbot of Aberbrothock
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On the waves of the storm it floated and swung,
And louder and louder its warning rung.
rock was hid by the tempest swell,
The mariners heard the warning bell,
And then they knew the perilous rock,
And blessed the abbot of Aberbrothock.
of the Inchcape Bell was seen,
A darker spot on the ocean green.
Sir Ralph the Rover walked the deck,
And he fix’d his eye on the darker speck.
was on the bell and float,—
Quoth he, “My men, put down the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,—
I’ll plague the priest of Aberbrothock!”.
was lower’d, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go.
Sir Ralph leant over from the boat,
And cut the bell from off the float.
the bell with a gurgling sound;
The bubbles rose, and burst around.
Quoth he, “Who next comes to the rock
Won’t bless the priest of Aberbrothock!”
the Rover sail’d away;
He scour’d the sea for many a day;
And now, grown rich with plunder’d store,
He steers his way for Scotland’s shore.
a haze o’erspread the sky,
They could not see the sun on high;
The wind had blown a gale all day;
At evening it hath died away.
hear,” said one, “the breakers roar?
For yonder, methinks, should be the shore.
Now, where we are, I cannot tell,—
I wish we heard the Inchcape Bell.”
no sound—the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along:
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
“Oh heavens! it is the Inchcape Rock!”
Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
And cursed himself in his despair;
And waves rush in on every side,
The ship sinks fast beneath the tide.
[Notes: Robert Southey, born 1774, died 1848. Poet Laureate and author of numerous works in prose and verse.]
Quoth. Saxon Cwaethan, to say. A Perfect now used only in the first and third persons singular of the present indicative; the nominative following the verb.
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock. Notice the effective use of alliteration (i.e., the recurrence of words beginning with the same letter), which is the basis of old-English rhythm.]
* * * * *
It had been part of Nelson’s prayer that the British fleet might be distinguished by humanity in the victory he expected. Setting an example himself, he twice gave orders to cease firing upon the ‘Redoubtable,’ supposing that she had struck because her great guns were silent; for, as she carried no flag, there was no means of instantly ascertaining the fact. From this ship, which he had thus twice spared, he received his death. A ball, fired from her mizen-top, which, in the then situation of the two vessels, was not more than fifteen yards from that part of the deck where he was standing, struck the epaulette on his left shoulder, about a quarter after one, just in the heat of action. He fell upon his face, on the spot which was covered with his poor secretary’s blood. Hardy (his captain), who was a few steps from him, turning round, saw three men raising him up.
“They have done for me at last, Hardy,” said he.
“I hope not,” cried Hardy. “Yes,” he replied, “my backbone is shot through.”
Yet even now, not for a moment losing his presence of mind, he observed, as they were carrying him down the ladder, that the tiller ropes, which had been shot away, were not yet replaced, and ordered that new ones should be rove immediately; then, that he might not be seen by the crew, he took out his handkerchief, and covered his face and his stars. Had he but concealed these badges of honour from the enemy, England, perhaps, would not have had cause to receive with sorrow the news of the battle of Trafalgar. The cockpit was crowded with wounded and dying men, over whose bodies he was with some difficulty conveyed, and laid upon a pallet in the midshipmen’s berth. It was soon perceived, upon examination, that the wound was mortal. This, however, was concealed from all except Captain Hardy, the chaplain, and the medical attendants. He himself being certain, from the sensation in his back, and the gush of blood he felt momently within his breast, that no human care could avail him, insisted that the surgeon should leave him, and attend to those to whom he might be useful; “For,” said he, “you can do nothing for me.” All that could be done was to fan him with paper, and frequently to give him lemonade to alleviate his intense thirst. He was in great pain, and expressed much anxiety for the event of the action, which now began to declare itself. As often as a ship struck, the crew of the ‘Victory’ hurrahed, and at every hurrah a visible expression of joy gleamed in the eyes and marked the countenance of the dying hero.
But he became impatient to see Captain Hardy; and as that officer, though often sent for, could not leave the deck, Nelson feared some fatal cause prevented him, and repeatedly cried, “Will no one bring Hardy to me? He must be killed! He is surely dead!”
An hour and ten minutes elapsed from the time when Nelson received his wound before Hardy could come to him. They shook hands in silence, Hardy in vain struggling to suppress the feelings of that most painful yet sublimest moment. “Well, Hardy,” said Nelson, “how goes the day with us?” “Very well,” replied Hardy; “ten ships have struck, but five of the van have tacked, and show an intention to bear down upon the ‘Victory.’ I have called two or three of our fresh ships round, and have no doubt of giving them a drubbing.” “I hope,” said Nelson, “none of our ships have struck?” Hardy answered, “There was no fear of that.” Then, and not till then, Nelson spoke of himself. “I am a dead man, Hardy,” said he; “I am going fast; it will be all over with me soon; come nearer to me.” Hardy observed that he hoped Mr. Beattie (the surgeon) could yet hold out some prospect of life. “Oh no,” he replied, “it is impossible; my back is shot through—Beattie will tell you so.” Captain Hardy then once more shook hands with him, and, with a heart almost bursting, hastened upon deck.
By this time all feeling below the breast was gone; and Nelson, having made the surgeon ascertain this, said to him, “You know I am gone; I know it—I feel something rising in my breast (putting his hand on his left side) which tells me so.” And upon Beattie’s inquiring whether his pain was very great, he replied, “So great, that he wished he were dead.” “Yet,” said he, in a lower voice, “one would like to live a little longer too!”
Captain Hardy, some fifty minutes after he had left the cockpit, returned, and again taking the hand of his dying friend and commander, congratulated him on having gained a complete victory. How many of the enemy were taken, he did not know, as it was impossible to perceive them distinctly, but fourteen or fifteen at least. “That’s well,” cried Nelson, “but I bargained for twenty.” And then, in a stronger voice, he said, “Anchor,! Hardy, anchor.” Hardy upon this hinted that Admiral Collingwood would take upon himself the direction of affairs. “Not while I live, Hardy,” said the dying Nelson, ineffectually endeavouring to raise himself from the bed; “do you anchor.” His previous order for preparing to anchor had shown how clearly he foresaw the necessity of this. Presently, calling Hardy back, he said to him in a low voice, “Don’t throw me overboard,” and he desired that he might be buried by his parents, unless it should please the king to order otherwise. “Kiss me, Hardy,” said he. Hardy knelt down and kissed his cheek, and Nelson said, “Now, I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty.” Hardy stood over him in silence for a moment or two, then knelt again and kissed his forehead. “Who is that?” said Nelson; and being informed, he replied, “God bless you, Hardy.” And Hardy then left him for ever.
[Note:_The death of Nelson_ took place at the Battle of Trafalgar, 1805.]
* * * * *
BATTLE OF THE BALTIC.
and the North,
Sing the glorious day’s renown,
When to battle fierce came forth
All the might of Denmark’s crown,
And her arms along the deep proudly shone;
By each gun the lighted brand,
In a bold, determined hand,
And the Prince of all the land
Led them on.
Lay their bulwarks on the brine;
While the sign of battle flew
On the lofty British line:
It was ten of April morn by the chime:
As they drifted on their path,
There was silence deep as death;
And the boldest held his breath
For a time.
might of England flushed
To anticipate the scene;
And her van the fleeter rushed
O’er the deadly space between.
“Hearts of oak!” our captains cried; when each gun
From its adamantine lips
Spread a death-shade round the ships.
Like the hurricane eclipse
Of the sun.
And the havoc did not slack,
Till a feebler cheer the Dane
To our cheering sent us back;—
Their shots along the deep slowly boom;—
Then cease—and all is wail,
As they strike the shattered sail;
Or, in conflagration pale,
Light the gloom.
the victor then,
As he hailed them o’er the wave,
“Ye are brothers! ye are men!
And we conquer but to save:—
So peace instead of death let us bring;
But yield, proud foe, thy fleet,
With the crews, at England’s feet,
And make submission meet
To our king.”
blest our chief
That he gave her wounds repose;
And the sounds of joy and grief
From her people wildly rose,
As Death withdrew his shades from the day
While the sun looked smiling bright
O’er a wide and woeful sight,
Where the fires of funeral light
Old England, raise!
For the tidings of thy might,
By the festal cities’ blaze,
Whilst the wine-cup shines in light;
And yet amidst that joy and uproar,
Let us think of them that sleep,
Full many a fathom deep,
By thy wild and stormy steep,
Brave hearts! to Britain’s pride
Once so faithful and so true,
On the deck of fame that died;—
With the gallant good Riou;—
Soft sigh the winds of heaven o’er their grave!
While the billow mournful rolls,
And the mermaid’s song condoles;
Singing glory to the souls
Of the brave!
[Notes: This is the first specimen of the “ode” in this book. Notice the variety in length between the lines, and draw up a scheme of the rhymes in each stanza. The battle was fought, and Copenhagen bombarded, in April, 1801.
It was ten of April morn by the chime. It was ten o’clock on the morning in April.
Like the hurricane eclipse. The eclipse of the sun in storm.]
* * * * *
Oh, young Lochinvar is come
out of the west,
Through all the wide border his steed is the best;
And, save his good broad-sword, he weapon had none;
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone!
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar!
He stay’d not for brake,
and he stopped not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none—
But, ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late;
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar!
So boldly he entered the Netherby
Among bridesmen, and kinsmen, and brothers, and all!—
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword—
For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word—
“Oh come ye in peace here, or come ye in war?—
Or to dance at our bridal? young Lord Lochinvar!”
“I long woo’d
your daughter, my suit you denied:
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide!
And now am I come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine!
There be maidens in Scotland, more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar!”
The bride kissed the goblet,
the knight took it up,
He quaffed off the wine, and he threw down the cup!
She looked down to blush, and she looked up to sigh—
With a smile on her lip, and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar—
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar,
So stately his form, and so
lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace!
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume,
And the bride-maidens whispered, “’Twere better by far
To have matched our fair cousin with young Lochinvar!”
One touch to her hand, and
one word in her ear,
When they reached the hall door, and the charger stood
So light to the croup the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow!” cried young
There was mounting ’mong
Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran;
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lea,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see!
So daring in love, and so
dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?
[Notes: Lochinvar. The song sung by Dame Heron in ‘Marmion,’ one of Scott’s longest and most famous poems. The fame of Scott (1771-1832) rests partly on these poems, but much more on the novels, in which he is excelled by no one.
He stay’d not for brake. Brake, a word of Scandinavian origin, means a place overgrown with brambles; from the crackling noise they make as one passes over them.
Love swells like the Solway. For a scene in which the rapid advance of the Solway tide is described, see the beginning of Scott’s novel of ‘Redgauntlet.’
Galliard. A gay rollicker. Used also in Chaucer.
Scaur. A rough, broken ground. The same word as scar.]
* * * * *
Some time before my father had bought a small Shetland pony for us, Moggy by name, upon which we were to complete our own education in riding, we had already mastered the rudiments under the care of our grandfather’s coachman. He had been in our family thirty years, and we were as fond of him as if he had been a relation. He had taught us to sit up and hold the bridle, while he led a quiet old cob up and down with a leading rein. But, now that Moggy was come, we were to make quite a new step in horsemanship. Our parents had a theory that boys must teach themselves, and that a saddle (except for propriety, when we rode to a neighbour’s house to carry a message, or had to appear otherwise in public) was a hindrance rather than a help. So, after our morning’s lessons, the coachman used to take us to the paddock in which Moggy lived, put her bridle on, and leave us to our own devices. I could see that that moment was from the first one of keen enjoyment to my brother. He would scramble up on her back, while she went on grazing—without caring to bring her to the elm stool in the corner of the field, which was our mounting place—pull her head up, kick his heels into her sides, and go scampering away round the paddock with the keenest delight. He was Moggy’s master from the first day, though she not unfrequently managed to get rid of him by sharp turns, or stopping dead short in her gallop. She knew it quite well; and, just as well, that she was mistress as soon as I was on her back. For weeks it never came to my turn, without my wishing myself anywhere else. George would give me a lift up, and start her. She would trot a few yards, and then begin grazing, notwithstanding my timid expostulations and gentle pullings at her
Memoir of a Brother. T. HUGHES.
* * * * *
it been my lot to mark
A proud, conceited, talking spark,
With eyes that hardly served at most
To guard their master ’gainst a post:
Yet round the world the blade has been
To see whatever can be seen.
Returning from his finished tour,
Grown ten times perter than before.
Whatever word you chance to drop,
The travelled fool your mouth will stop:
“Sir, if my judgment you’ll allow—
I’ve seen—and sure I ought to know.”
So begs you’d pay a due submission
And acquiesce in his decision.
Two travellers of such a cast,
As o’er Arabia’s wilds they passed,
And on their way in friendly chat,
Now talked of this, and now of that:
Discoursed a while, ’mongst other matter,
Of the chameleon’s form and nature.
“A stranger animal,” cries one,
“Sure never lived beneath the sun;
A lizard’s body, lean and long,
A fish’s head, a serpent’s tongue,
Its foot with triple claw disjoined;
And what a length of tail behind!
How slow its pace! And then its hue—
Who ever saw so fine a blue?”—
“Hold there,” the other quick replies,
“’Tis green; I saw it with these eyes
As late with open mouth it lay,
And warmed it in the sunny ray;
Stretched at its ease the beast I viewed,
And saw it eat the air for food.”
“I’ve seen it, sir, as well as you,
And must again affirm it blue:
At leisure I the beast surveyed
Extended in the cooling shade.”
“’Tis green, ’tis green, sir, I assure you.”
“Green!” cried the other in a fury:
“Why, do you think I’ve lost my eyes?”
“’Twere no great loss,” the friend replies,
“For if they always serve you thus,
You’ll find them of but little use.”
So high at last the contest rose,
From words they almost came to blows,
When luckily came by a third:
To him the question they referred,
And begged he’d tell them if he knew,
Whether the thing was green or blue?
“Sirs,” cries the umpire, “cease your pother,
* * * * *
All this conversation, however, was only preparatory to another scheme; and indeed I dreaded as much. This was nothing less than that, as we were now to hold up our heads a little higher in the world, it would be proper to sell the colt, which was grown old, at a neighbouring fair, and buy us a horse that would carry us single or double upon an occasion, and make a pretty appearance at church, or upon a visit. This at first I opposed stoutly; but it was stoutly defended. However, as I weakened, my antagonist gained strength, till at last it was resolved to part with him. As the fair happened on the following day, I had intentions of going myself; but my wife persuaded me that I had got a cold, and nothing could prevail upon her to permit me from home. “No, my dear,” said she, “our son Moses is a discreet boy, and can buy and sell to a very good advantage: you know all our great bargains are of his purchasing. He always stands out and higgles, and actually tires them till he gets a bargain.”
As I had some opinion of my son’s prudence, I was willing enough to entrust him with this commission; and the next morning I perceived his sisters mighty busy in fitting out Moses for the fair; trimming his hair, brushing his buckles, and cocking his hat with pins. The business of the toilet being over, we had at last the satisfaction of seeing him mounted upon the colt, with a deal box before him to bring home groceries in. He had on a coat made of that cloth they call “thunder-and-lightning,” which, though grown too short, was much too good to be thrown away. His waistcoat was of gosling green, and his sisters had tied his hair with a broad black riband. We all followed him several paces from the door, bawling after him, “Good luck! good luck!” till we could see him no longer. ***
I changed the subject by seeming to wonder what could keep our son so long at the fair, as it was now almost nightfall. “Never mind our son,” cried my wife; “depend upon it, he knows what he is about. I’ll warrant we’ll never see him sell his hen of a rainy day. I have seen him bring such bargains as would amaze one. I’ll tell you a good story about that, that will make you split your sides with laughing. But, as I live, yonder comes Moses, without a horse, and the box on his back.”
As she spoke, Moses came slowly on foot, and sweating under the deal box, which he had strapped round his shoulders like a pedlar. “Welcome, welcome, Moses! Well, my boy, what have you brought us from the fair?” “I have brought you myself,” cried Moses, with a sly look, and resting the box on the dresser. “Ay, Moses,” cried my wife, “that we know; but where is the horse?” “I have sold him,” cried Moses, “for three pounds five shillings and twopence.” “Well done, my good boy,” returned she; “I knew you would touch them off. Between ourselves, three pounds five shillings and twopence is no bad day’s work. Come, let us have it then.” “I have brought back no money,” cried Moses again. “I have laid it all out in a bargain, and here it is,” pulling out a bundle from his breast; “here they are; a gross of green spectacles, with silver rims and shagreen cases.” “A gross of green spectacles!” repeated my wife, in a faint voice. “And you have parted with the colt, and brought us back nothing but a gross of green paltry spectacles!” “Dear mother,” cried the boy, “why won’t you listen to reason? I had them a dead bargain, or I should not have brought them. The silver rims alone will sell for double the money.” “A fig for the silver rims,” cried my wife, in a passion: “I dare swear they won’t sell for above half the money at the rate of broken silver, five shillings an ounce.” “You need be under no uneasiness,” cried I, “about selling the rims, for they are not worth sixpence; for I perceive they are only copper varnished over.” “What!” cried my wife, “not silver! the rims not silver?” “No,” cried I, “no more silver than your saucepan.” “And so,” returned she, “we have parted with the colt, and have only got a gross of green spectacles, with copper rims and shagreen cases? A murrain take such trumpery! The blockhead has been imposed upon, and should have known his company better.” “There, my dear,” cried I, “you are wrong; he should not have known them at all.” “Marry, hang the idiot!” returned she, “to bring me such stuff: if I had them I would throw them in the fire.” “There again you are wrong, my dear,” cried I, “for though they be copper, we will keep them by us, as copper spectacles, you know, are better than nothing.”
By this time the unfortunate Moses was undeceived. He now saw that he had been imposed upon by a prowling sharper, who, observing his figure, had marked him for an easy prey. I therefore asked the circumstances of his deception. He sold the horse, it seems, and walked the fair in search of another. A reverend-looking man brought him to a tent, under pretence of having one to sell. “Here,” continued Moses, “we met another man, very well dressed, who desired to borrow twenty pounds upon these, saying that he wanted money, and would dispose of them for a third of the value. The first gentleman, who pretended to be my friend, whispered me to buy them, and cautioned me not to let so good an offer pass. I sent for Mr. Flamborough, and they talked him up as finely as they did me; and so at last we were persuaded to buy the two gross between us.”
[Note: Moses at the fair. This is an incident taken from Goldsmith’s novel, ‘The Vicar of Wakefield.’ The narrator throughout is the Vicar himself, who tells us the simple joys and sorrows of his family, and the foibles of each member of it.]
* * * * *
Happy the man whose wish and
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose
fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter, fire.
Blest who can unconcernedly
Hours, days, and years, glide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study
Together mixed; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please,
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
[Notes: Alexander Pope, born 1688, died 1744. The author of numerous poems and translations, all of them marked by the same lucid thought and polished versification. The Essay on Man, the Satires and Epistles, and the translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, are amongst the most important.
Write a paraphrase of the first two stanzas.]
* * * * *
Whang, the miller, was naturally avaricious; nobody loved money better than he, or more respected those that had it. When people would talk of a rich man in company, Whang would say, “I know him very well; he and I are intimate; he stood for a child of mine.” But if ever a poor man was mentioned, he had not the least knowledge of the man; he might be very well for aught he knew; but he was not fond of many acquaintances, and loved to choose his company.
Whang, however, with all his eagerness for riches, was in reality poor; he had nothing but the profits of his mill to support him; but though these were small, they were certain; while his mill stood and went, he was sure of eating; and his frugality was such that he every day laid some money by, which he would at intervals count and contemplate with much satisfaction. Yet still his acquisitions were not equal to his desires; he only found himself above want, whereas he desired to be possessed of affluence.
One day, as he was indulging these wishes, he was informed that a neighbour of his had found a pan of money under ground, having dreamed of it three nights running before. These tidings were daggers to the heart of poor Whang. “Here am I,” says he, “toiling and moiling from morning till night for a few paltry farthings, while neighbour Hunks only goes quietly to bed, and dreams himself into thousands before morning. Oh that I could dream like him! with what pleasure would I dig round the pan; how slily would I carry it home; not even nay wife should see me; and then, oh, the pleasure of thrusting one’s hand into a heap of gold up to the elbow!”
Such reflections only served to make the miller unhappy; he discontinued his former assiduity; he was quite disgusted with small gains, and his customers began to forsake him. Every day he repeated the wish, and every night laid himself down in order to dream. Fortune, that was for a long time unkind, at last, however, seemed to smile upon his distresses, and indulged him with the wished-for vision. He dreamed that under a certain part of the foundation of his mill there was concealed a monstrous pan of gold and diamonds, buried deep in the ground, and covered with a large flat stone. He rose up, thanked the stars that were at last pleased to take pity on his sufferings, and concealed his good luck from every person, as is usual in money dreams, in order to have the vision repeated the two succeeding nights, by which he should be certain of its veracity. His wishes in this also were answered; he still dreamed of the same pan of money, in the very same place.
Now, therefore, it was past a doubt; so, getting up early the third morning, he repairs alone, with a mattock in his hand, to the mill, and began to undermine that part of the wall which the vision directed. The first omen of success that he met was a broken mug; digging still deeper, he turns up a house tile, quite new and entire. At last, after much digging, he came to the broad flat stone, but then so large, that it was beyond one man’s strength to remove it. “Here,” cried he, in raptures, to himself, “here it is! under this stone there is room for a very large pan of diamonds indeed! I must e’en go home to my wife, and tell her the whole affair, and get her to assist me in turning it up.” Away, therefore, he goes, and acquaints his wife with every circumstance of their good fortune. Her raptures on this occasion may easily be imagined; she flew round his neck, and embraced him in an agony of joy: but those transports, however, did not delay their eagerness to know the exact sum; returning, therefore, speedily together to the place where Whang had been digging, there they found—not indeed the expected treasure, but the mill, their only support, undermined and fallen.
[Note: He stood for a child of mine, i.e., stood as godfather for a child of mine.]
* * * * *
A SEA SONG.
A wet sheet
and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast,
And fills the white and rustling sail
And bends the gallant mast.
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While, like the eagle free,
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lee.
a soft and gentle wind,
I heard a fair one cry:
But give to me the snoring breeze
And white waves heaving high.
And white waves heaving high, my lads,
A good ship, tight and free,
The world of waters is our home,
And merry men are we.
There’s tempest in yon
And lightning in yon cloud;
And hark the music, mariners!
The wind is piping loud.
The wind is piping loud, my boys,
The lightning flashes free;
While the hollow oak our palace is,
Our heritage the sea.
[Note: A wet sheet. The sheet is the rope fastened to the lower corner of a sail to retain it in position.]
* * * * *
ON THE LOSS OF THE ‘ROYAL GEORGE.’
The brave that are no more;
All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast by their native shore!
of the brave,
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel,
And laid her on her side.
A land breeze
shook the shrouds,
And she was overset;
Down went the ‘Royal George,’
With all her crew complete.
Brave Kempenfeldt is gone;
His last sea-fight is fought;
His work of glory done.
It was not
in the battle;
No tempest gave the shock;
She sprang no fatal leak;
She ran upon no rock.
was in its sheath;
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfeldt went down,
With twice four hundred men.
Once dreaded by our foes!
And mingle with our cup,
The tear that England owes.
Her timbers yet are sound,
And she may float again,
Full-charged with England’s thunder,
And plough the distant main.
But Kempenfeldt is gone,
His victories are o’er;
And he and his eight hundred
Shall plough the wave no more.
[Note: The Royal George. A ship of war, which went down with Admiral Kempenfeldt and her crew off Spithead in 1782, while undergoing a partial careening.]
* * * * *
After we had rowed, or rather driven, about a league and a half, as we reckoned it, a raging wave, mountain-like, came rolling astern of us, and plainly bade us expect our end. In a word, it took us with such a fury that it overset the boat at once; and, separating us as well from the boat as from one another, gave us not time hardly to say, “O God!” for we were all swallowed up in a moment.
Nothing can describe the confusion of thought which I felt when I sunk into the water; for though I swam very well, yet I could not deliver myself from the waves, so as to draw breath, till that wave having driven me, or rather carried me a vast way on towards the shore, and having spent itself, went back, and left me upon the land almost dry, but half dead from the water I took in. I had so much presence of mind as well as breath left, that, seeing myself nearer the mainland than I expected, I got upon my feet, and endeavoured to make on towards the land as fast as I could, before another wave should return, and take me up again. But I soon found it was impossible to avoid it; for I saw the sea come after me as high as a great hill, and as furious as an enemy, which I had no means or strength to contend with; my business was to hold my breath, and raise myself upon the water, if I could: and so by swimming to preserve my breathing, and pilot myself towards the shore, if possible; my greatest concern now being, that the sea, as it would carry me a great way towards the shore when it came on, might not carry me back again with it when it gave back towards the sea.
The wave that came upon me again, buried me at once twenty or thirty feet deep in its own body; and I could feel myself carried with a mighty force and swiftness towards the shore a very great way; but I held my breath, and assisted myself to swim still forward with all my might. I was ready to burst with holding my breath, when, as I felt myself rising up, so, to my immediate relief, I found my head and hands shoot out above the surface of the water; and though it was not two seconds of time that I could keep myself so, yet it relieved me greatly, gave me breath and new courage. I was covered again with water a good while, but not so long but I held it out; and finding the water had spent itself, and began to return, I struck forward against the return of the waves, and felt ground again with my feet. I stood still a few moments to recover breath, and till the water went from me, and then took to my heels, and run with what strength I had farther towards the shore. But neither would this deliver me from the fury of the sea, which came pouring in after me again, and twice more I was lifted up by the waves, and carried forwards as before, the shore being very flat.
The last time of these two had well near been fatal to me; for the sea having hurried me along as before, landed me, or rather dashed me against a piece of a rock, and that with such force as it left me senseless, and indeed helpless, as to my own deliverance; for the blow taking my side and breast, beat the breath, as it were, quite out of my body; and had it returned again immediately, I must have been strangled in the water; but I recovered a little before the return of the waves, and seeing I should be covered again with the water, I resolved to hold fast by a piece of the rock, and so to hold my breath, if possible, till the wave went back; now as the waves were not so high as at first, being near land, I held my hold till the wave abated, and then fetched another run, which brought me so near the shore that the next wave, though it went over me, yet did not so swallow me up as to carry me away, and the next run I took, I got to the main land, where, to my great comfort, I clambered up the clifts of the shore, and sat me down upon the grass, free from danger, and quite out of the reach of the water.
DEFOE’S Robinson Crusoe.
[Notes: Daniel Defoe, born 1663, died 1731. He was prominent as a political writer, but his later fame has rested chiefly on his works of fiction, of which ‘Robinson Crusoe’ (from which this extract is taken) is the most important.
“Gave us not time hardly to say.” This to us has the effect of a double negative. But if we take “hardly” in its strict sense, the sentence is clear: “did not give us time, even with difficulty, to say.”
(at foot)."As I felt myself rising up, so to my immediate relief.” Note this use of as and so, in a way which now sounds archaic.
Run. The older form, for which we would use ran.
“That with such force, as it left me,” &c. For as, we would now use that.
Clifts of the shore. Like clefts, broken openings in the shore.]
* * * * *
When Britain first, at Heaven’s
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sung this strain:
Rule, Britannia, rule the waves,
Britons never will be slaves!
The nations, not so blessed
Must in their turn to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
Still more majestic shalt thou
More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
tyrants ne’er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe and thy renown.
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main:
And every shore it circles thine.
The Muses, still with freedom
Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blessed isle! with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair:
Rule, Britannia, rule the waves,
Britons never will be slaves!
[Notes: James Thomson, born 1700, died 1748. He was educated for the Scotch ministry, but came to London, and commenced his career as a poet by the series of poems called the ‘Seasons,’ descriptive of scenes in nature.
The Muses, i.e., the Sciences and Arts, which flourish best where there are free institutions.]
* * * * *
There was a sound of revelry by night, And Belgium’s capital had gathered then Her Beauty and her Chivalry; and bright The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men; A thousand hearts beat happily; and when Music arose with its voluptuous swell, Soft eyes look’d love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage-bell;— But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Did ye not
hear it?—No; ’twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o’er the stony street:
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet—
But hark!—That heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! arm! it is—it is—the cannon’s opening roar!
and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush’d at the praise of their own loveliness:
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne’er might be repeated; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise?
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed, The mustering squadron, and the clattering car, Went pouring forward with impetuous speed, And swiftly forming in the ranks of war; And the deep thunder peal on peal afar; And near, the beat of the alarming drum Roused up the soldier ere the morning-star; While throng’d the citizens, with terror dumb, Or whispering, with white lips,—“The foe! they come! they come!”
waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature’s tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e’er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave,—alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass,
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure; when this fiery mass
Of living valour, rolling on the foe
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low!
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty’s circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms,—the day
Battle’s magnificently stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o’er it, which when rent
The earth is cover’d thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover—heap’d and pent,
Rider and horse,—friend, foe,—in one red burial blent!
[Notes:_Waterloo_. Fought, 1815, between Napoleon on one side, and Wellington and Blucher (the Prussian General) on the other. Its result was the defeat of Napoleon, and his imprisonment by the Allies in St. Helena. The festivities held at Brussels, the headquarters of the British Army, on the eve of the battle, were rudely disturbed by the news that the action had already begun.
Ardennes. A district on the frontier of France, bordering on Belgium.
Ivry. The battle in which Henry IV., in the struggle for the crown of France, completely routed the forces of the Catholic League (1590).
My white plume shine. The white plume was the distinctive mark of the House of Bourbon.
Oriflamme, or Auriflamme (lit. Flame of Gold), originally the banner of the Abbey of St. Denis, afterwards appropriated by the crown of France. “Let the helmet of Navarre (Henry’s own country) be to-day the Royal Standard of France.”
Culverin. A piece of artillery of long range.
The fiery Duke (of Mayenne).
Pricking fast. Cf. “a gentle knight was pricking o’er the plain” (Spencer).
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Almayne. The allies of the League. Almayne or Almen, a district in the Netherlands.
* * * * *
The King is come to marshal us,
in all his armour drest,
And he has bound a snow-white plume upon his gallant crest.
He look’d upon his people, and a tear was in his eye:
He look’d upon the traitors, and his glance was stern and
Right graciously he smiled on us, as roll’d from wing to
Down all our line a deafening shout, “God save our Lord the
“And if my standard-bearer fall, as fall full well he may,
For never saw I promise yet of such a bloody fray,
Press where ye see my white plume shine, amidst the ranks
And be your Oriflamme to-day the helmet of Navarre.”
Hurrah! the foes are moving.
Hark to the mingled din
Of fife, and steed, and trump, and drum, and roaring
The fiery Duke is pricking fast across St. Andre’s plain,
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Almayne.
Now by the lips of those we love, fair gentlemen of France,
Charge for the Golden Lilies,—upon them with the lance!
A thousand spurs are striking deep, a thousand
Now, God be praised, the day
is ours! Mayenne hath turned
D’Aumale hath cried for quarter. The Flemish Count is
Their ranks are breaking like thin clouds before a Biscay
The field is heap’d with bleeding steeds, and flags, and
And then we thought on vengeance, and, all along our van,
“Remember St. Bartholomew!” was pass’d from man to man:
But out spake gentle Henry, “No Frenchman is my foe;
Down, down, with every foreigner! but let your brethren
Oh! was there ever such a knight, in friendship or in war,
As our Sovereign Lord, King Henry, the soldier of Navarre!
Ho! maidens of Vienna; ho!
matrons of Lucerne;
Weep, weep, and rend your hair for those who never shall
Ho! Philip, send, for charity, thy Mexican pistoles,
That Antwerp monks may sing a mass for thy poor spearmen’s
Ho! gallant nobles of the League, look that your arms be
Ho! burghers of St. Genevieve, keep watch and ward to-
For our God hath crush’d the tyrant, our God hath raised
And mock’d the counsel of the wise, and the valour of the
Then glory to His holy name, from whom all glories are;
And glory to our Sovereign Lord, King Henry of Navarre!
[Notes: D’Aumale, The Duke of; another leader of the League.
The Flemish Court. Count Egmont, the son of the Count Egmont, whose death on the scaffold in 1568, in consequence of the resistance he offered to the tyranny of Philip II. of Spain, has made the name famous. The son, on the other hand, was the attached servant of Philip II.; and was unnatural enough to say, when reminded of his father, “Talk not of him, he deserved his death.”
Remember St. Bartholomew, i.e., the massacre of the Protestants on St. Bartholomew’s day, 1572.
Maidens of Vienna: matrons of Lucerne. In reference to the Austrian and Swiss Allies of the League.
Thy Mexican pistoles. Alluding to the riches gained by the Spanish monarchy from her American colonies.
Ho! burghers of St. Genevieve = citizens of Paris, of which St. Genevieve was held to be the patron saint.]
* * * * *
And now I began to apply myself to make such necessary things as I found I most wanted, as particularly a chair or a table; for without these I was not able to enjoy the few comforts I had in the world; I could not write or eat, or do several things with so much pleasure without a table.
So I went to work; and here I must needs observe that, as reason is the substance and original of the mathematics, so by stating and squaring everything by reason, and by making the most rational judgment of things, every man may be in time master of every mechanic art. I had never handled a tool in my life, and yet in time, by labour, application, and contrivance, I found at last that I wanted nothing but I could have made it, especially if I had had tools; however, I made abundance of things, even without tools, and some with no more tools than an adze and a hatchet, which perhaps were never made that way before, and that with infinite labour; for example, if I wanted a board, I had no other way but to cut down a tree, set it on an edge before me, and hew it flat on either side with my axe, till I had brought it to be as thin as a plank, and then dubb it smooth with my adze. It is true, by this method, I could make but one board out of a whole tree, but this I had no remedy for but patience, any more than I had for the prodigious deal of time and labour which it took me up to make a plank or board; but my time or labour was little worth, and so it was as well employed one way as another.
However, I made me a table and a chair, as I observed above, in the first place, and this I did out of the short pieces of boards that I brought on my raft from the ship: but when I had wrought out some boards, as above, I made large shelves of the breadth of a foot and a half one over another, all along one side of my cave, to lay all my tools, nails, and iron-work, and in a word, to separate everything at large in their places, that I might come easily at them; I knocked pieces into the wall of the rock to hang my guns and all things that would hang up. So that had my cave been to be seen, it looked like a general magazine of all necessary things, and I had everything so ready at my hand, that it was a great pleasure to me to see all my goods in such order, and especially to find my stock of all necessaries so great.
DEFOE’S Robinson Crusoe.
[Notes: Reason is the substance and original of the mathematics. Original here = origin or foundation.]
The most rational judgment = the judgment most in accordance with reason.]
* * * * *
the unforgotten brave!
Whose land from plain to mountain-cave
Was Freedom’s home or Glory’s grave!
Shrine of the mighty! can it be
That this is all remains of thee?
Approach, thou craven crouching slave:
Say, is not this Thermopylae?
These waters blue that round you lave,—
Oh servile offspring of the free!—
Pronounce what sea, what shore is this?
The gulf, the rock of Salamis!
These scenes, their story not unknown,
[Notes: Lord Byron, born 1788, died 1824. The most powerful English poet of the early part of this century.
Thermapylae. The pass at which Leonidas and his Spartans resisted the approach of the Persians (B.C. 480).
Salamis. Where the Athenians fought the great naval battle which destroyed the Persian fleet, and secured the liberties of Greece.]
* * * * *
THE TEMPLE OF FAME.
The Temple shakes, the sounding
Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold,
Raised on a thousand pillars wreathed around
With laurel-foliage and with eagles crowned;
Of bright transparent beryl were the walls,
The friezes gold, and gold the capitals:
As heaven with stars, the roof with jewels glows,
And ever-living lamps depend in rows.
Full in the passage of each spacious gate
The sage historians in white garments wait:
Graved o’er their seats, the form of Time was found,
His scythe reversed, and both his pinions bound.
Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms
In bloody fields pursued renown in arms.
High on a throne, with trophies charged, I viewed
The youth that all things but himself subdued;
His feet on sceptres and tiaras trode,
And his horned head belied the Libyan god.
There Caesar, graced with both Minervas, shone;
Caesar, the world’s great master, and his own;
Unmoved, superior still in every state,
And scarce detested in his country’s fate.
But chief were those, who not for empire fought,
[Notes: Alexander Pope. (See previous note on Pope.) The hint of this poem is taken from one by Chaucer, called ‘The House of Fame.’
Depend in rows. Depend in its proper and literal meaning, “hang down.”
The youth that all things but himself subdued = Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.).
His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod. Tiaras, in reference to his conquests over the Asiatic monarchies.
His horned head belied the Libyan god. “The desire to be thought the son of Jupiter Ammon caused him to wear the horns of that god, and to represent the same upon his coins.” (Pope’s note.) Libyan = African.
Caesar graced with both Minervas, i.e., by warlike and literary genius; as the conqueror of Gaul and the writer of the ‘Commentaries.’
Scarce detested in his country’s fate. Whom even the enslaving of his country scarce makes us detest.
Epaminondas (died 362 B.C.), the maintainer of Theban independence.
Timoleon, of Corinth, who slew his brother when he found him aspiring to be tyrant in the state (died 337 B.C.).
Scipio. The conqueror of Carthage, which was long the rival of Rome.
Aurelius, i.e., Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180 A.D.), Emperor of Rome; one of the brightest characters in Roman history.
Socrates. The great Greek philosopher, who, in maintaining truth, incurred the charge of infecting the young men of Athens with impiety, and was put to death by being made to drink hemlock. His life and teaching are known to us through the writings of his disciple, Plato.
He whom ungrateful Athens, &c., i.e., Aristides (see page 171), distinguished by the surname of The Just. He was unjust, Pope means, only when he signed the shell for his own condemnation.
Phocion. An Athenian general and statesman (402-318 B.C.), put to death by Polysperchon. He injured rather than helped the liberties of Athens.
Agis, “King of Sparta, who endeavoured to restore his state to greatness by a radical agrarian reform, was after a mock trial murdered in prison, B.C. 241.” Ward.
Cato, who, to escape disgrace amid the evils which befell his country, stabbed himself in 46 B.C.
Brutus his ill Genius meets no more. See the account of the Eve of Philippi in Book IV.
The wars of Troy. Described by Homer in his Iliad.
Tydides (Diomede) wounds the Cyprian Queen (Venus). A scene described in the Iliad.
Hector. Slew Patroclus, the friend of Achilles, and in revenge was dragged by him round the walls of Troy.
The Mantuan, i.e., the Roman poet Virgil, author of the Aeneid, born at Mantua (70-19 B.C.)
Eliza = Elissa, or Dido, whose misfortunes are described in the Aeneid.
Aeneas bending with his aged sire. Aeneas carried his father, Anchises, from the flames of Troy on his shoulders.
Arms and the Man. The opening words of the Aeneid.
Pindar. Of Thebes, who holds the first place among the lyric poets of Greece. The character and subjects of his poetry, of which the portions remaining to us are the Triumphal Odes, celebrating victories gained in the great games of Greece, are indicated by the lines that follow.
Happy Horace (65-8 B.C.). The epithet is used to describe the lightsome and genial tone of Horace’s poetry. Ausonian lyre = Italian song. Ausonia is a poetical name for Italy.
Alcoeus and Sappho. Two of the early lyric poets of Greece.
A work outlasting monumental brass. This line is suggested by one of Horace, when he describes his work as “a monument more lasting than brass.”
The Julian star, and great Augustus here. Referring to the Imperial house and its representative, Augustus, Horace’s chief patron.
Stagyrite. Aristotle, the great philosopher of Greece (384-322 B.C.), born at Stagira. Pope here shortens the second syllable by a poetical licence.
Tully. Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great orator, statesman, and writer of Rome. For saving the city from the conspiracy of Catiline, he was honoured with the title of “Father of his country.”
Narrative old age. Talkative old age.
Unlike successes equal merits found = The same desert found now success, now failure.]
* * * * *
The following narrative is from the periodical account of the Moravian Missions. It contains some of the most impressive descriptions I ever remember to have read.
Brother Samuel Liebiseh was at the time of this occurrence entrusted with the general care of the brethren’s missions on the coast of Labrador. The duties of his office required a visit to Okkak, the most northern of our settlements, and about one hundred and fifty English miles distant from Nain, the place where he resided. Brother William Turner being appointed to accompany him, they left Nain together on March the 11th, 1782, early in the morning, with very clear weather, the stars shining with uncommon lustre. The sledge was driven by the baptised Esquimaux Mark, and another sledge with Esquimaux joined company.
An Esquimaux sledge is drawn by a species of dogs, not unlike a wolf in shape. Like them, they never bark, but howl disagreeably. They are kept by the Esquimaux in greater or larger packs or teams, in proportion to the affluence of the master. They quietly submit to be harnessed for their work, and are treated with little mercy by the heathen Esquimaux, who make them do hard duty for the small quantity of food they allow them. This consists chiefly in offal, old skins, entrails, such parts of whale-flesh as are unfit for other use, rotten whale-fins, &c.; and if they are not provided with this kind of dog’s meat, they leave them to go and seek dead fish or muscles upon the beach.
When pinched with hunger they will swallow almost anything, and on a journey it is necessary to secure the harness within the snow-house over night, lest, by devouring it, they should render it impossible to proceed in the morning. When the travellers arrive at their night quarters, and the dogs are unharnessed, they are left to burrow on the snow, where they please, and in the morning are sure to come at their driver’s call, when they receive some food. Their strength and speed; even with a hungry stomach, is astonishing. In fastening them to the sledge, care is taken not to let them go abreast. They are tied by separate thongs, of unequal lengths, to a horizontal bar in the fore part of the sledge; an old knowing one leads the way, running ten or twenty paces ahead, directed by the driver’s whip, which is of great length, and can be well managed only by an Esquimaux. The other dogs follow like a flock of sheep. If one of them receives a lash, he generally bites his neighbour, and the bite goes round.
To return to our travellers. The sledge contained five men, one woman, and a child. All were in good spirits, and appearances being much in their favour, they hoped to reach Okkak in safety in two or three days. The track over the frozen sea was in the best possible order, and they went with ease at the rate of six or seven miles an hour. After they had passed the islands in the bay of Nain, they kept at a considerable distance from the coast, both to gain the smoothest part of the ice, and to weather the high rocky promontory of Kiglapeit. About eight o’clock they met a sledge with Esquimaux turning in from the sea. After the usual salutation, the Esquimaux, alighting, held some conversation, as is their general practice, the result of which was, that some hints were thrown out by the strange Esquimaux that it might be better to return. However, as the missionaries saw no reason whatever for it, and only suspected that the Esquimaux wished to enjoy the company of their friends a little longer, they proceeded. After some time, their own Esquimaux hinted that there was a ground swell under the ice. It was then hardly perceptible, except on lying down and applying the ear close to the ice, when a hollow, disagreeably grating and roaring noise was heard, as if ascending from the abyss. The weather remained clear, except towards the east, where a bank of light clouds appeared, interspersed with some dark streaks. But the wind being strong from the north-west, nothing less than a sudden change of weather was expected. The sun had now reached its height, and there was as yet little or no alteration in the appearance of the sky. But the motion of the sea under the ice had grown more perceptible, so as rather to alarm the travellers, and they began to think it prudent to keep closer to the shore. The ice had cracks and large fissures in many places, some of which formed chasms of one or two feet wide; but as they are not uncommon even in its best state, and the dogs easily leap over them, the sledge following without danger, they are only terrible to new comers.
As soon as the sun declined towards the west, the wind increased and rose to a storm, the bank of clouds from the east began to ascend, and the dark streaks to put themselves in motion against the wind. The snow was violently driven about by partial whirlwinds, both on the ice, and from off the peaks of the high mountains, and filled the air. At the same time the ground-swell had increased so much that its effect upon the ice became very extraordinary and alarming. The sledges, instead of gliding along smoothly upon an even surface, sometimes ran with violence after the dogs, and shortly after seemed with difficulty to ascend the rising hill; for the elasticity of so vast a body of ice, of many leagues square, supported by a troubled sea, though in some places three or four yards in thickness, would, in some degree, occasion an undulatory motion not unlike that of a sheet of paper accommodating itself to the surface of a rippling stream. Noises were now likewise distinctly heard in many directions, like the report of cannon, owing to the bursting of the ice at some distance.
The Esquimaux, therefore, drove with all haste towards the shore, intending to take up their night-quarters on the south side of the Nivak. But as it plainly appeared that the ice would break and disperse in the open sea, Mark advised to push forward to the north of the Nivak, from whence he hoped the track to Okkak might still remain entire. To this proposal the company agreed; but when the sledges approached the coast, the prospect before them was truly terrific. The ice having broken loose from the rocks, was forced up and down, grinding and breaking into a thousand pieces against the precipices, with a tremendous noise, which, added to the raging of the wind, and the snow driving about in the air, deprived the travellers almost of the power of hearing and seeing anything distinctly.
To make the land at any risk was now the only hope left, but it was with the utmost difficulty the frighted dogs could be forced forward, the whole body of ice sinking frequently below the surface of the rocks, then rising above it. As the only moment to land was when it gained the level of the coast, the attempt was extremely nice and hazardous. However, by God’s mercy, it succeeded; both sledges gained the shore, and were drawn up the beach with much difficulty.
The travellers had hardly time to reflect with gratitude to God on their safety, when that part of the ice from which they had just now made good their landing burst asunder, and the water, forcing itself from below, covered and precipitated it into the sea. In an instant, as if by a signal given, the whole mass of ice, extending for several miles from the coast, and as far as the eye could reach, began to burst and be overwhelmed by the immense waves. The sight was tremendous and awfully grand: the large fields of ice, raising themselves out of the water, striking against each other and plunging into the deep with
[Note: But high above desert renowned = Let it be renowned high above desert.]
* * * * *
A HAPPY LIFE.
is he born or taught,
That serveth not another’s will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his highest skill.
not his masters are;
Whose soul is still prepared for death;
Not tied unto the world with care
Of prince’s ear, or vulgar breath.
his life from rumours freed;
Whose conscience is his strong retreat:
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
Nor ruin make oppressors great.
none whom chance doth raise,
Or vice: who never understood
How deepest wounds are given with praise;
Nor rules of state, but rules of good.
Who God doth late and early
More of his grace than gifts to lend;
And entertains the harmless day
With a well-chosen book or friend.
This man is freed from servile
Of hope to rise or fear to fall;
Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.
SIR HENRY WOTTON.
[Notes: Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639). A poet, ambassador, and miscellaneous writer, in the reign of James I.
Born or taught = whether from natural character or by training.
Nor ruin make oppressors great = nor his ruin, &c.
How deepest wounds are given with praise. How praise may only cover some concealed injury.]
* * * * *
us the winds do blow;
The earth doth rest, heaven move, and fountains flow.
Nothing we see but means our good,
As our delight, or as our treasure:
The whole is either cupboard of our food,
Or cabinet of pleasure.
stars have us to bed;
Night draws the curtain, which the sun withdraws;
Music and light attend our head;
All things unto our flesh are kind
In their descent and being; to our mind
In their ascent and cause.
servants wait on Man
Than he’ll take notice of. In every path
He treads down that which doth befriend him,
When sickness makes him pale and wan.
O mighty love! Man is one world, and hath
Another to attend him.
then, My God, Thou hast
So brave a palace built, O dwell in it,
That it may dwell with Thee at last!
Till then afford us so much wit
That, as the world serves us, we may serve Thee,
And both thy servants be.
[Notes: George Herbert (1593-1632). A clergyman of the Church of England, the author of many religious works in prose and poetry. His poetry is overfull of conceits, but in spite of these is eminently graceful and rich with fancy.
The stars have its to led, i.e., conduct, or show us to bed.
All things unto our flesh are kind, &c., i.e., as they minister to the needs of our body here below, so they minister to the mind by leading us to think of the Higher Cause that brings them into being. The words descent and accent are not to be pressed; they are rather balanced one against the other, according to the fashion of the day.]
* * * * *
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;
For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My music shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.
[Note:——The bridal of the earth and sky, i.e., in which all the beauties of sky and earth are united.]
* * * * *
DEATH THE CONQUEROR.
The glories of our blood and
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate:
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap
And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
But their strong nerves at last must yield,
They tame but one another still.
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon death’s purple altar now
See, where the victor-victim bleeds;
All heads must come
To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.
[Notes: James Shirley (1594-1666). A dramatic poet.
And plant fresh laurels when they kill = even by the death they spread around them in war, they may win new laurel-wreaths by victory.
Purple. As stained with blood.]
* * * * *
Various improvements in the system of jurisprudence, and administration of justice, occasioned a change in manners, of great importance and of extensive effect. They gave rise to a distinction of professions; they obliged men to cultivate different talents, and to aim at different accomplishments, in order to qualify themselves for the various departments and functions which became necessary in society. Among uncivilized nations there is but one profession honourable, that of arms. All the ingenuity and vigour of the human mind are exerted in acquiring military skill or address. The functions of peace are few and simple, and require no particular course of education or of study as a preparation for discharging them. This was the state of Europe during several centuries. Every gentleman, born a soldier, scorned any other occupation; he was taught no science but that of war; even his exercises and pastimes were feats of martial prowess. Nor did the judicial character, which persons of noble birth were alone entitled to assume, demand any degree of knowledge beyond that which such untutored soldiers possessed. To recollect a few traditionary customs which time had confirmed, and rendered respectable; to mark out the lists of battle with due formality; to observe the issue of the combat; and to pronounce whether it had been conducted according to the laws of arms, included everything that a baron, who acted as a judge, found it necessary to understand.
But when the forms of legal proceedings were fixed, when the rules of decision were committed to writing, and collected into a body, law became a science, the knowledge of which required a regular course of study, together with long attention to the practice of courts. Martial and illiterate nobles had neither leisure nor inclination to undertake a task so laborious, as well as so foreign from all the occupations which they deemed entertaining, or suitable to their rank. They gradually relinquished their places in courts of justice, where their ignorance exposed them to contempt. They became, weary of attending to the discussion of cases, which grew too intricate for them to comprehend. Not only the judicial determination of points which were the subject of controversy, but the conduct of all legal business and transactions, was committed to persons trained by previous study and application to the knowledge of law. An order of men, to whom their fellow-citizens had daily recourse for advice, and to whom they looked up for decision
While improvements, so important with respect to the state of society and the administration of justice, gradually made progress in Europe, sentiments more liberal and generous had begun to animate the nobles. These were inspired by the spirit of chivalry, which, though considered, commonly, as a wild institution, the effect of caprice, and the source of extravagance, arose naturally from the state of society at that period, and had a very serious influence in refining the manners of the European nations. The feudal state was a state of almost perpetual war, rapine, and anarchy, during which the weak and unarmed were exposed to insults or injuries. The power of the sovereign was too limited to prevent these wrongs; and the administration of justice too feeble to redress them. The most effectual protection against violence and oppression was often found to be that which the valour and generosity of private persons afforded. The same spirit of enterprise which had prompted so many gentlemen to take arms in defence of the oppressed pilgrims in Palestine, incited others to declare themselves the patrons and avengers of injured innocence at home. When the final reduction of the Holy Land under the dominion of infidels put an end to these foreign expeditions, the latter was the only employment left for the activity and courage of adventurers. To check the insolence of overgrown oppressors; to rescue the helpless from captivity; to protect or to avenge women, orphans, and ecclesiastics, who could not bear arms in their own defence; to redress wrongs, and to remove grievances, were deemed acts of the highest prowess and merit. Valour, humanity, courtesy, justice, honour, were the characteristic qualities of chivalry. To these was added religion, which mingled itself with every passion and institution during the Middle Ages, and, by infusing a large proportion of enthusiastic zeal, gave them such force as carried them to romantic excess. Men were trained to knighthood by a long previous discipline; they were admitted into the order by solemnities no less devout than pompous; every person of noble birth courted that honour; it was deemed a distinction superior to royalty; and monarchs were proud to receive it from the hands of private gentlemen.
This singular institution, in which valour, gallantry, and religion, were so strangely blended, was wonderfully adapted to the taste and genius of martial nobles; and its effects were soon visible in their manners. War was carried on with less ferocity, when humanity came to be deemed the ornament of knighthood no less than courage. More gentle and polished manners were introduced, when courtesy was recommended as the most amiable of knightly virtues. Violence and oppression decreased, when it was reckoned meritorious to check and to punish them. A scrupulous adherence to truth, with the most religious attention to fulfil every engagement, became the distinguishing characteristic of a gentleman, because chivalry was regarded as the school of honour, and inculcated the most delicate sensibility with respect to those points. The admiration of these qualities, together with the high distinctions and prerogatives conferred on knighthood in every part of Europe, inspired persons of noble birth on some occasions with a species of military fanaticism, and led them to extravagant enterprises. But they deeply imprinted on their minds the principles of generosity and honour. These were strengthened by everything that can affect the senses or touch the heart. The wild exploits of those romantic knights who sallied forth in quest of adventures are well known, and have been treated with proper ridicule. The political and permanent effects of the spirit of chivalry have been less observed. Perhaps the humanity which accompanies all the operations of war, the refinements of gallantry, and the point of honour, the three chief circumstances which distinguished modern from ancient manners, may be ascribed in a great measure to this institution, which has appeared whimsical to superficial observers, but by its effects has proved of great benefit to mankind. The sentiments which chivalry inspired had a wonderful influence on manners and conduct during the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. They were so deeply rooted, that they continued to operate after the vigour and reputation of the institution itself began to decline. Some considerable transactions recorded in the following history resemble the adventurous exploits of chivalry, rather than the well-regulated operations of sound policy. Some of the most eminent personages, whose characters will be delineated, were strongly tinctured with this romantic spirit. Francis I. was ambitious to distinguish himself by all the qualities of an accomplished knight, and endeavoured to imitate the enterprising genius of chivalry in war, as well as its pomp and courtesy during peace. The fame which the French monarch acquired by these splendid actions, so far dazzled his more temperate rival, that he departed on some occasions from his usual prudence and moderation, and emulated Francis in deeds of prowess or of gallantry.
The progress of science and the cultivation of literature had considerable effect in changing the manners of the European nations, and introducing that civility and refinement by which they are now distinguished. At the time when their empire was overturned, the Romans, though they had lost that correct taste which has rendered the productions of their ancestors standards of excellence, and models of imitation for succeeding ages, still preserved their love of letters, and cultivated the arts with great ardour. But rude barbarians were so far from being struck with any admiration of these unknown accomplishments, that they despised them. They were not arrived at that state of society, when those faculties of the human mind which have beauty and elegance for their objects begin to unfold themselves. They were strangers to most of those wants and desires which are the parents of ingenious invention; and as they did not comprehend either the merit or utility of the Roman arts, they destroyed the monuments of them, with an industry not inferior to that with which their posterity have since studied to preserve or to recover them. The convulsions occasioned by the settlement of so many unpolished tribes in the empire; the frequent as well as violent revolutions in every kingdom which they established; together with the interior defects in the form of government which they introduced, banished security and leisure. They prevented the growth of taste, or the culture of science, and kept Europe, during several centuries, in that state of ignorance which has been already described. But the events and institutions which I have enumerated produced great alterations in society. As soon as their operation, in restoring liberty and independence to one part of the community, began to be felt; as soon as they began to communicate to all the members of society some taste of the advantages arising from commerce, from public order, and from personal security, the human mind became conscious of powers which it did not formerly perceive, and fond of occupations or pursuits of which it was formerly incapable. Towards the beginning of the twelfth century, we discern the first symptoms of its awakening from that lethargy in which it had been long sunk, and observe it turning with curiosity and attention towards new objects.
[Notes: Francis I. (1494-1547). King of France; the contemporary of Henry VIII. and of Charles V., Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The constant rivalry and ever recurring wars between Francis and the latter, occupy a great part of European history during the first half of the 16th century.
His more temperate rival, i.e., Charles V.
At the time when their empire was overturned, the Romans, &c. In 410 A.D., by the incursions of the Goths.]
* * * * *
(AN ODE FOR MUSIC.)
heavenly maid, was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
Thronged around her magic cell,
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possessed beyond the Muse’s painting:
By turns they felt the glowing mind
Disturbed, delighted, raised, refined,—
Till once, ’tis said, when all were fired,
Filled with fury, rapt, inspired,
From the supporting myrtles round
They snatched her instruments of sound;
And, as they oft had heard, apart,
Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
Each, for Madness ruled the hour,
Would prove his own expressive power.
his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords bewildered laid,
And back recoiled, he knew not why,
E’en at the sound himself had made.
rushed: his eyes on fire,
In lightnings owned his secret stings;
In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
And swept with hurried hand the strings.
measures, wan Despair—
Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled:
A solemn, strange, and mingled air,
’Twas sad by fits, by starts ’twas wild.
O Hope, with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure?
Still it whispered promised pleasure,
And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail;
Still would her touch the scene prolong;
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
She called on Echo still through all the song;
And, where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close;
And hope, enchanted, smiled, and waved her golden
And longer had she sung:—but,
with a frown,
Revenge impatient rose:
He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder down,
And, with a withering look,
The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne’er prophetic sounds so full of woe!
And ever and anon he beat
The doubling drum with furious heat:
And though sometimes, each dreary
Dejected Pity at his side,
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien,
While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought
Sad proof of thy distressful state!
Of differing themes the veering song was mixed;
And now it courted Love, now raving called on Hate.
upraised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sat retired;
And from her wild sequestered seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,
oh, how altered was its sprightlier tone!
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
The hunter’s call to Faun and Dryad known!
The oak-crowned Sisters and their chaste-eyed Queen,
Satyrs and Sylvan boys, were seen
Peeping from forth their alleys green.
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear,
And Sport leaped up, and seized his beechen spear.
Joy’s ecstatic trial;
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addressed;
But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol
Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best:
They would have thought, who heard the strain,
They saw in Tempe’s vale her native maids,
Amidst the festal-sounding shades,
To some unwearied minstrel dancing;
While, as his flying fingers kissed the strings,
Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic round;
Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound;
And he, amidst his frolic play,
As if he would the charming air repay,
Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.
O Music! sphere-descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom’s aid!
Why, goddess, why, to us denied,
Lay’st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
As in that loved, Athenian bower
You learned an all-commanding power.
Thy mimic soul; O nymph endeared!
Can well recall what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart
Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art?
Arise, as in that elder time,
Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime!
Thy wonders in that god-like age,
Fill thy recording Sister’s page;—
’Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age,
E’en all at once together found
Cecilia’s mingled world of sound;—
O bid our vain endeavours cease:
Revive the just designs of Greece:
Return in all thy simple state!
Confirm the tales her sons relate!
[Notes: William Collins (1720-1756). A poet, who throughout life struggled with adversity, and who, though he produced little, refined everything he wrote with a most fastidious taste and with elaborate care.
Shell, according to a fashion common with the poets of the first half of the 18th century, stands for lyre. The Latin word testudo, a shell is often so used.
Possessed beyond the Muse’s painting = enthralled beyond what poetry can describe.
His own expressive power, i.e., his power to express his own feelings.
In lightnings owned his secret stings = in lightning-like touches confessed the hidden fury which inspired him.
Veering song. The ever-changeful song.
Her wild sequestered seat. Sequestered properly is used of something which, being in dispute, is deposited in a third person’s hands: hence of something set apart or in retirement.
Round a holy calm diffusing = diffusing around a holy calm.
Buskin. A boot reaching above the ankle. Gemmed = sparkling as with gems.
Faun and Dryad_. Creatures with whom ancient mythology peopled the woods.
Their chaste-eyed Queen = Diana.
Brown exercise. Exercise is here personified and represented as brown and sunburnt.
Viol. A stringed musical instrument.
In Tempe’s vale. In Thessaly, especially connected with the worship of Apollo, the god of poetry and music.
Sphere-descended maid. A metaphor common with the poets, and taken from a Greek fancy most elaborately described in Plato’s ‘Republic,’ where the system of the universe is pictured as a series of whorls linked in harmony.
Thy mimic soul. Thy soul apt to imitate.
Devote = devoted. A form more close to that of the Latin participle, from which it is derived.
Thy recording Sister = the Muse of History.
Cecilia’s mingled world of sound = the organ. So St. Cecilia is called in Dryden’s Ode, “Inventress of the vocal frame.”
The just designs = the well-conceived, artistic designs.]
* * * * *
“A WHALE HUNT.”
A tide of unusual height had carried the whale over a large bar of sand, into the voe or creek in which he was now lying. So soon as he found the water ebbing, he became sensible of his danger, and had made desperate efforts to get over the shallow water, where the waves broke on the bar but hitherto he had rather injured than mended his condition, having got himself partly aground, and lying therefore particularly exposed to the meditated attack. At this moment the enemy came down upon him. The front ranks consisted of the young and hardy, armed in the miscellaneous manner we have described; while, to witness and animate their efforts, the young women, and the elderly persons of both sexes, took their place among the rocks, which overhung the scene of action.
As the boats had to double a little headland, ere they opened the mouth of the voe, those who came by land to the shores of the inlet had time to make the necessary reconnaissances upon the force and situation of the enemy, on whom they were about to commence a simultaneous attack by land and sea.
This duty, the stout-hearted and experienced general—for so the Udaller might be termed—would entrust to no eyes but his own; and, indeed, his external appearance, and his sage conduct, rendered him alike qualified for the command which he enjoyed. His gold-laced hat was exchanged for a bearskin cap, his suit of blue broadcloth, with its scarlet lining, and loops, and frogs of bullion, had given place to a red flannel jacket, with buttons of black horn, over which he wore a seal-skin shirt curiously seamed and plaited on the bosom, such as are used by the Esquimaux, and sometimes by the Greenland whale-fishers. Sea-boots of a formidable size completed his dress, and in his hand he held a large whaling-knife, which he brandished, as if impatient to employ it in the operation of flinching the huge animal which lay before them,—that is, the act of separating its flesh from its bones. Upon closer examination, however, he was obliged to confess that the sport to which he had conducted his friends, however much it corresponded with the magnificent scale of his hospitality, was likely to be attended with its own peculiar dangers and difficulties.
The animal, upwards of sixty feet in length, was lying perfectly still, in a deep part of the voe into which it had weltered, and where it seemed to await the return of tide, of which it was probably assured by instinct. A council of experienced harpooners was instantly called, and it was agreed that an effort should be made to noose the tail of this torpid leviathan, by casting a cable around it, to be made fast by anchors to the shore, and thus to secure against his escape, in case the tide should make before they were able to dispatch him. Three boats were destined to this delicate piece of service, one of which the Udaller himself proposed to command, while Cleveland and Mertoun were to direct the two others. This being decided, they sat down on the strand, waiting with impatience until the naval part of the force should arrive in the voe. It was during this interval, that Triptolemus Yellowley, after measuring with his eyes the extraordinary size of the whale, observed, that in his poor mind, “A wain with six owsen, or with sixty owsen either, if they were the owsen of the country, could not drag siccan a huge creature from the water, where it was now lying, to the sea-beach.”
Trifling as this remark may seem to the reader, it was connected with a subject which always fired the blood of the old Udaller, who, glancing upon Triptolemus a quick and stern look, asked him what it signified, supposing a hundred oxen could not drag the whale upon the beach? Mr. Yellowley, though not much liking the tone with which the question was put, felt that his dignity and his profit compelled him to answer as follows:—“Nay, sir; you know yourself, Master Magnus Troil, and every one knows that knows anything, that whales of siccan size as may not be masterfully dragged on shore by the instrumentality of one wain with six owsen, are the right and property of the Admiral, who is at this time the same noble lord who is, moreover, Chamberlain of these isles.”
“And I tell you, Mr. Triptolemus Yellowley,” said the Udaller, “as I would tell your master if he were here, that every man who risks his life to bring that fish ashore, shall have an equal and partition, according to our ancient and lovable Norse custom and wont; nay, if there is so much as a woman looking on, that will but touch the cable, she will be partner with us. All shall share that lend a hand, and never a one else. So you, Master Factor, shall be busy as well as other folk, and think yourself lucky to share like other folk. Jump into that boat” (for the boats had by this time pulled round the headland), “and you, my lads, make way for the factor in the stern-sheets—he shall be the first man this day that shall strike the fish.”
The three boats destined for this perilous service now approached the dark mass, which lay like an islet in the deepest part of the voe, and suffered them to approach without showing any sign of animation. Silently, and with such precaution as the extreme delicacy of the operation required, the intrepid adventurers, after the failure of their first attempt, and the expenditure of considerable time, succeeded in casting a cable around the body of the torpid monster, and in carrying the ends of it ashore, when a hundred hands were instantly employed in securing them. But ere this was accomplished, the tide began to make fast, and the Udaller informed his assistants that either the fish must be killed or at least greatly wounded ere the depth of water on the bar was sufficient to float him; or that he was not unlikely to escape from their joint prowess.
“Wherefore,” said he, “we must set to work, and the factor shall have the honour to make the first throw.”
The valiant Triptolemus caught the word; and it is necessary to say that the patience of the whale, in suffering himself to be noosed without resistance, had abated his terrors, and very much lowered the creature in his opinion. He protested the fish had no more wit, and scarcely more activity, than a black snail; and, influenced by this undue contempt of the adversary, he waited neither for a farther signal, nor a better weapon, nor a more suitable position, but, rising in his energy, hurled his graip with all his force against the unfortunate monster. The boats had not yet retreated from him to the distance necessary to ensure safety, when this injudicious commencement of the war took place.
Magnus Troil, who had only jested with the factor, and had reserved the launching the first spear against the whale to some much more skilful hand, had just time to exclaim, “Mind yourselves, lads, or we are all stamped!” when the monster, roused at once from inactivity by the blow of the factor’s missile, blew, with a noise resembling the explosion of a steam-engine, a huge shower of water into the air, and at the same time began to lash the waves with its tail in every direction. The boat in which Magnus presided received the shower of brine
While this was doing, the other boats had also pulled off to safer distance, and now, from these as well as from the shore, the unfortunate native of the deep was overwhelmed by all kinds of missiles—harpoons and spears flew against him on all sides—guns were fired, and each various means of annoyance plied which could excite him to exhaust his strength in useless rage. When the animal found that he was locked in by shallows on all sides, and became sensible, at the same time, of the strain of the cable on his body, the convulsive efforts which he made to escape, accompanied with sounds resembling deep and loud groans, would have moved the compassion of all but a practised whale-fisher. The repeated showers which he spouted into the air began now to be mingled with blood, and the waves which surrounded him assumed the same crimson appearance. Meantime the attempts of the assailants were redoubled; but Mordaunt Mertoun and Cleveland, in particular, exerted themselves to the uttermost, contending who should display most courage in approaching the monster, so tremendous in its agonies, and should inflict the most deep and deadly wounds upon its huge bulk.
The contest seemed at last pretty well over; for although the animal continued from time to time to make frantic exertions for liberty, yet its strength appeared so much exhausted, that, even with the assistance of the tide, which had now risen considerably, it was thought it could scarcely extricate itself.
Magnus gave the signal to venture nearer to the whale, calling out at the same time, “Close in, lads, she is not half so mad now—the Factor may look for a winter’s oil for the two lamps at Harfra—pull close in, lads.”
Ere his orders could be obeyed, the other two boats had anticipated his purpose; and Mordaunt Mertoun, eager to distinguish himself above Cleveland, had with the whole strength he possessed, plunged a half-pike into the body of the animal. But the leviathan, like a nation whose resources appear totally exhausted by previous losses and calamities, collected his whole remaining force for an effort, which proved at once desperate and successful. The wound, last received had probably reached through his external defences of blubber, and attained some very sensitive part of the system; for he roared loud, as he sent to the sky a mingled sheet of brine and blood, and snapping the strong cable like a twig, overset Mertoun’s boat with a blow of his tail, shot himself, by a mighty effort, over the bar, upon which the tide had now risen considerably, and made out to sea, carrying with him a whole grove of the implements which had been planted in his body, and leaving behind him, on the waters, a dark red trace of his course.
[Notes:  Waggon.
* * * * *
VISION OF BELSHAZZAR.
was on his throne.
The Satraps throng’d the hall:
A thousand bright lamps shone
O’er that high festival.
A thousand cups of gold,
In Judah deem’d divine—
Jehovah’s vessels hold
The godless heathen’s wine!
same hour and hall,
The fingers of a hand
Came forth against the wall.
And wrote as if on sand:
The fingers of a man;—
A solitary hand
Along the letters ran,
And traced them like a wand.
saw, and shook,
And bade no more rejoice;
All bloodless wax’d his look,
And tremulous his voice.
“Let the men of lore appear,
The wisest of the earth,
And expound the words of fear,
Which mar our royal mirth.”
seers are good,
But here they have no skill;
And the unknown letters stood
Untold and awful still.
And Babel’s men of age
Are wise and deep in lore;
But now they were not sage,
They saw—but knew no more.
in the land,
A stranger and a youth,
He heard the king’s command,
He saw that writing’s truth.
The lamps around were bright,
The prophecy in view;
He read it on that night,—
The morrow proved it true.
grave is made,
His kingdom pass’d away,
He, in the balance weigh’d,
Is light and worthless clay;
The shroud his robe of state,
His canopy the stone;
The Mede is at his gate!
The Persian on his throne!”
[Notes: Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, lived probably in the 6th century B.C. He was defeated by the Medes and Persians combined.
Satraps. The governors or magistrates of provinces.
A thousand cups of gold, &c. Taken in the captivity of Judah.
A captive in the land = the Prophet Daniel.]
* * * * *
YE MARINERS OF ENGLAND.
That guard our native seas,
Whose flag has braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze!
Your glorious standard launch again,
To match another foe!
And sweep through the deep,
While the stormy winds do blow;
And the battle rages loud and long,
And the stormy winds do blow.
of your fathers
Shall start from every wave!—
For the deck it was their field of fame,
And ocean was their grave;
Where Blake and mighty Nelson fell,
Your manly hearts shall glow,
As ye sweep
through the deep
While the stormy winds do blow;
While the battle rages loud and long,
And the stormy winds do blow.
needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep;
Her march is o’er the mountain-waves,
Her home is on the deep.
With thunders from her native oak,
She quells the floods below,
As they roar on the shore,
When the stormy winds do blow.
While the battle rages loud and long,
And the stormy winds do blow.
flag of England
Shall yet terrific burn;
Till danger’s troubled night depart,
And the star of peace return.
Then, then, ye ocean warriors!
Your song and feast shall flow
To the fame of your name,
When the storm has ceased to blow;
When the fiery fight is heard no more,
And the storm has ceased to blow.
[Notes: Blake. Robert Blake (1598-1657), an English admiral under Cromwell, chiefly distinguished for his victories over the Dutch.]
* * * * *
One morning I can remember well, how we watched from the Hartland Cliffs a great barque, which came drifting and rolling in before the western gale, while we followed her up the coast, parsons and sportsmen, farmers and Preventive men, with the Manby’s mortar lumbering behind us in a cart, through stone gaps and track-ways, from headland to headland. The maddening excitement of expectation as she ran wildly towards the cliffs at our feet, and then sheered off again inexplicably;—her foremast and bowsprit, I recollect, were gone short off by the deck; a few rags of sail fluttered from her main and mizen. But with all straining of eyes and glasses, we could discern no sign of man on board. Well I recollect the mingled disappointment and admiration of the Preventive men, as a fresh set of salvors appeared in view, in the form of a boat’s crew of Clovelly fishermen; how we watched breathlessly the little black speck crawling and struggling up in the teeth of the gale, under the shelter of the land, till, when the ship had rounded a point into smoother water, she seized on her like some tiny spider on a huge unwieldy fly; and then how one still smaller black speck showed aloft on the main-yard, and another—and then the desperate efforts to get the topsail set—and how we saw it tear out of their hands again, and again, and again, and almost fancied we could hear the thunder
The ship was breaking up; and we sat by her like hopeless physicians by a deathbed-side, to watch the last struggle,—and “the effects of the deceased.” I recollect our literally warping ourselves down to the beach, holding on by rocks and posts. There was a saddened awe-struck silence, even upon the gentleman from Lloyd’s with the pen behind his ear. A sudden turn of the clouds let in a wild gleam of moonshine upon the white leaping heads of the breakers, and on the pyramid of the Black-church Rock, which stands in summer in such calm grandeur gazing down on the smiling bay, with the white sand of Braunton and the red cliffs of Portledge shining through its two vast arches; and against a slab of rock on the right, for years afterwards discoloured with her paint, lay the ship, rising slowly on every surge, to drop again with a piteous crash as the wave fell back from the cliff, and dragged the roaring pebbles back with it under the coming wall of foam. You have heard of ships at the last moment crying aloud like living things in agony? I heard it then, as the stumps of her masts rocked and reeled in her, and every plank and joint strained and screamed with the dreadful tension.
A horrible image—a human being shrieking on the rack; rose up before me at those strange semi-human cries, and would not be put away—and I tried to turn, and yet my eyes were riveted on the black mass, which seemed vainly to implore the help of man against the stern ministers of the Omnipotent.
Still she seemed to linger in the death-struggle, and we turned at last away; when, lo! a wave, huger than all before it, rushed up the boulders towards us. We had just time to save ourselves. A dull, thunderous groan, as if a mountain had collapsed, rose above the roar of the tempest; and we all turned with an instinctive knowledge of what had happened, just in time to see the huge mass melt away into the boiling white, and vanish for evermore. And then the very raving of the wind seemed hushed with awe; the very breakers plunged more silently towards the shore, with something of a sullen compunction; and as we stood and strained our eyes into the gloom, one black plank after another crawled up out of the darkness upon the head of the coming surge, and threw itself at our feet like the corpse of a drowning man, too spent to struggle more.
* * * * *
from sea to sky the wild farewell,—
Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave,—
Then some leaped overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave;
And the sea yawned around her like a hell,
And down she sucked with her the whirling wave,
Like one who grapples with his enemy,
And strives to strangle him before he die.
And first one universal shriek
Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash
Of echoing thunder; and then all was hushed,
Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash
Of billows; but at intervals there gushed,
Accompanied with a convulsive splash,
A solitary shriek, the bubbling cry
Of some strong swimmer in his agony.
* * * * *
THE HAPPY WARRIOR.
Who is the
happy Warrior? Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?
—It is the generous Spirit, who when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright:
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn:
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care;
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
In face of these doth exercise a power
Which is our human nature’s highest dower;
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
[Notes: Turns his necessity to glorious gain. Turns the necessity which lies on him of fellowship with pain, and fear, and bloodshed, into glorious gain.
More skilful in self knowledge, even more pure, as tempted more. “His self-knowledge and his purity are all the greater because of the temptations he has had to withstand.”
Whose law is reason = whose every action is obedient to reason.
In himself possess his own desire. According to Aristotle, virtuous activity is the highest reward the good man can attain; virtue has no end beyond action; according to the modern proverb, “Virtue is its own reward.”
More brave for this, that he hath much to love. Here also Wordsworth follows Aristotle in his description of the virtue of manliness. The good man, according to Aristotle, is most brave of all in encountering “the awful moment of great issues,” in that he has the most to lose by death.
Not content that former worth stand fast. Not content to rest on the foundation of accomplished good and worthy deeds, solid though it be.
Finds comfort in himself. Compare: “In himself possess his own desire.”]
* * * * *
He was the first great English captain, who showed what English soldiers were, and what they could do against Frenchmen, and against all the world. He was the first English Prince who showed what it was to be a true gentleman. He was the first, but he was not the last. We have seen how, when he died, Englishmen thought that all their hopes had died with him. But we know that it was not so; we know that the life of a great nation is not bound up in the life of a single man; we know that the valour and the courtesy and the chivalry of England are not buried in the grave of the Plantagenet Prince. It needs only a glance round the country, to see that the high character of an English gentleman, of which the Black Prince was the noble pattern, is still to be found everywhere; and has since his time been spreading itself more and more through classes, which in his time seemed incapable of reaching it. It needs only a glance down the names of our own Cathedral (of Canterbury); and the tablets on the walls, with their tattered flags, will tell you in a moment that he, as he lies up there aloft, with his head resting on his helmet, and his spurs on his feet, is but the first of a long line of English heroes—that the brave men who fought at Sobraon and Feroozeshah are the true descendants of those who fought at Cressy and Poitiers.
And not to soldiers only, but to all who are engaged in the long warfare of life, is his conduct an example. To unite in our lives the two qualities expressed in his motto, “High spirit” and “reverent service,” is to be, indeed, not only a true gentleman and a true soldier, but a true Christian also. To show to all who differ from us, not only in war but in peace, that delicate forbearance, that fear of hurting another’s feelings, that happy art of saying the right thing to the right person, which he showed to the captive king, would indeed add a grace and a charm to the whole course of this troublesome world, such as none can afford to lose, whether high or low. Happy are they, who having this gift by birth and station, use it for its highest purposes; still more happy are they, who having it not by birth and station, have acquired it, as it may be acquired, by Christian gentleness and Christian charity.
And, lastly, to act in all the various difficulties of our every-day life, with that coolness, and calmness, and faith in a higher power than his own, which he showed when the appalling danger of his situation burst upon him at Poitiers, would smooth a hundred difficulties, and ensure a hundred victories. We often think that we have no power in ourselves, no advantages of position, to help us against our many temptations, to overcome the many obstacles we encounter. Let us take our stand by the Black Prince’s tomb, and go back once more in thought to the distant fields of France. A slight rise in the wild upland plain, a steep lane through vineyards and underwood, this was all that he had, humanly speaking, on his side; but he turned it to the utmost use of which it could be made, and won the most glorious of battles. So, in like manner, our advantages may be slight—hardly perceptible to any but ourselves—let us turn them to account, and the results will be a hundredfold; we have only to adopt the Black Prince’s bold and cheering words, when first he saw his enemies, “God is my help. I must fight them as best I can;” adding that lofty, yet resigned and humble prayer, which he uttered when the battle was announced to be inevitable, and which has since become a proverb, “God defend the right.”
DEAN STANLEY’S Memorials of Canterbury.
[Notes: The Black Prince. Edward, the son of Edward III, and father of Richard II. He not only won for the English the renown of conquest, but befriended the early efforts after liberty. His untimely death plunged England into the evils of a long minority under his son. The one stain on his name is his massacre of the townsfolk of Limoges.
“Reverent service,” or “I serve” (Ich dien), the motto adopted by the Black Prince from the King of Bohemia, his defeated foe.
Poitiers. His victory won over the French king, John, whom he took prisoner (1356).]
* * * * *
Let me ask you to follow me in spirit to the very home and birth-place of freedom, to the land where we need not myth or fable to add aught to the fresh and gladdening feeling with which we for the first time tread the soil and drink the air of the immemorial democracy of Uri. It is one of the opening days of May: it is the morning of Sunday; for men then deem that the better the day the better the deed; they deem that the Creator cannot be more truly honoured than in using, in His fear and in His presence, the highest of the gifts which He has bestowed on man. But deem not that, because the day of Christian worship is chosen for the great yearly assembly of a Christian commonwealth, the more direct sacred duties of the day are forgotten. Before we, in our luxurious island, have lifted ourselves from our beds, the men of the mountains, Catholic and Protestant alike, have already paid the morning’s worship in God’s temple. They have heard the mass of the priest, or they have listened to the sermon of the pastor, before some of us have awakened to the fact that the morn of the holy day has come. And when I saw men thronging the crowded church, or kneeling, for want of space within, on the bare ground beside the open door, and when I saw them marching thence to do the highest duties of men and citizens, I could hardly forbear thinking of the saying of Holy Writ, that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” From the market-place of Altdorf, the little capital of the Canton, the procession makes its way to the place of meeting at Bozlingen. First marches the little army of the Canton, an army whose weapons can never be used save to drive back an invader from their land. Over their heads floats the banner, the bull’s head of Uri, the ensign which led men to victory on the fields of Sempach and Morgarten. And before them all, on the shoulders of men clad in a garb of ages past, are borne the famous horns, the spoils of the wild bull of ancient days, the very horns whose blast struck such dread into the fearless heart of Charles of Burgundy. Then, with their lictors before them, come the magistrates of the commonwealth on horseback, the chief magistrate, the Landammann, with his sword by his side. The people follow the chiefs whom they have chosen to the place of meeting, a circle in a green meadow with a pine forest rising above their heads and a mighty spur of the mountain range facing them on the other side of the valley. The multitude of the freemen take their seats around the chief ruler of the commonwealth, whose term of office comes that day to an end. The Assembly opens; a short space is first given to prayer, silent prayer offered up by each man in the temple of God’s own rearing. Then comes the business of the day. If changes in the law are demanded, they are then laid before the vote of the Assembly, in which each citizen of full age has an equal vote and an equal right of speech. The yearly magistrates have now discharged all their duties;
E. A. FREEMAN.
[Notes: Uri. A Swiss canton which, early in the 14th century, united with Unterwalden and Schwytz to form the Swiss Confederation.
Sempach (1386) and Morgarten (1315), both great victories won by the Swiss over the Austrians.
——Charles the Bold of Burgundy was defeated by the Swiss in 1476 at Morat.
_ Perikles_. A great orator and statesman, who, in the middle of the 5th century, B.C., guided the policy of Athens, and made her the centre of literature, philosophy, and art.
_ Phokion _. An Athenian statesman of the 4th century B.C., who opposed Demosthenes in his efforts to resist Philip of Macedon. His reactionary policy was atoned for by the uprightness of his character.]
* * * * *
liberty alone that gives the flower
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume;
And we are weeds without it. All constraint,
Except what wisdom lays on evil men,
Is evil: hurts the faculties, impedes
Their progress in the road of science: blinds
The eyesight of Discovery; and begets,
In those that suffer it, a sordid mind
[Notes: Hampden—Sydney. (See previous note on them)
He that takes deep in his soft credulity, &c., i.e., he that credulously takes in the impression which demagogues, who claim to speak on behalf of liberty, intend that he should take.
Delude. A violent torrent, displacing earth in its course.
Strid. A yawning chasm between rocks.
The Battle of Culloden (1746) closed the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 by the defeat of the Highlanders, and with it the last hopes of the Stuart cause. The Duke of Cumberland was the leader of the Hanoverian army.]
* * * * *
No one is less inclined to depreciate that magnificent winter-garden at the Crystal Palace: yet let me, if I choose, prefer my own; I argue that, in the first place, it is far larger. You may drive, I hear, through the grand one at Chatsworth for a quarter of a mile. You may ride through mine for fifteen miles on end. I prefer, too, to any glass roof which Sir Joseph Paxton ever planned, that dome above my head some three miles high, of soft dappled grey and yellow cloud, through the vast lattice-work whereof the blue sky peeps, and sheds down tender gleams on yellow bogs, and softly rounded heather knolls, and pale chalk ranges gleaming far away. But, above all, I glory in my evergreens. What winter-garden can compare for them with mine? True, I have but four kinds—Scotch fir, holly, furze, and the heath; and by way of relief to them, only brows of brown fern, sheets of yellow bog-grass, and here and there a leafless birch, whose purple tresses are even more lovely to my eye than those fragrant green ones which she puts on in spring. Well: in painting as in music, what effects are more grand than those produced by the scientific combination, in endless new variety, of a few simple elements? Enough for me is the one purple birch; the bright hollies round its stem sparkling with scarlet beads; the furze-patch, rich with its lacework of interwoven light and shade, tipped here and there with a golden bud; the deep soft heather carpet, which invites you to lie down and dream for hours; and behind all, the wall of red fir-stems, and the dark fir-roof with its jagged edges a mile long, against the soft grey sky.
An ugly, straight-edged, monotonous fir-plantation? Well, I like it, outside and inside. I need no saw-edge of mountain peaks to stir up my imagination with the sense of the sublime, while I can watch the saw-edge of those fir peaks against the red sunset. They are my Alps; little ones, it may be: but after all, as I asked before, what is size? A phantom of our brain; an optical delusion. Grandeur, if you will consider wisely, consists in form, and not in size: and to the eye of the philosopher, the curve drawn on a paper two inches long, is just as magnificent, just as symbolic of divine mysteries and melodies, as when embodied in the span of some
The March breeze is chilly: but I can be always warm if I like in my winter-garden. I turn my horse’s head to the red wall of fir-stems, and leap over the furze-grown bank into my cathedral, wherein if there be no saints, there are likewise no priestcraft and no idols; but endless vistas of smooth red green-veined shafts holding up the warm dark roof, lessening away into endless gloom, paved with rich brown fir-needle—a carpet at which Nature has been at work for forty years. Red shafts, green roof, and here and there a pane of blue sky—neither Owen Jones nor Willement can improve upon that ecclesiastical ornamentation,—while for incense I have the fresh healthy turpentine fragrance, far sweeter to my nostrils than the stifling narcotic odour which fills a Roman Catholic cathedral. There is not a breath of air within: but the breeze sighs over the roof above in a soft whisper. I shut my eyes and listen. Surely that is the murmur of the summer sea upon the summer sands in Devon far away. I hear the innumerable wavelets spend themselves gently upon the shore, and die away to rise again. And with the innumerable wave-sighs come innumerable memories, and faces which I shall never see again upon this earth. I will not tell even you of that, old friend. It has two notes, two keys rather, that Eolian-harp of fir-needles above my head; according as the wind is east or west, the needles dry or wet. This easterly key of to-day is shriller, more cheerful, warmer in sound, though the day itself be colder: but grander still, as well as softer, is the sad soughing key in which the south-west wind roars on, rain-laden, over the forest, and calls me forth—being a minute philosopher—to catch trout in the nearest chalk-stream.
The breeze is gone a while; and I am in perfect silence—a silence which may be heard. Not a sound; and not a moving object; absolutely none. The absence of animal life is solemn, startling. That ring-dove, who was cooing half a mile away, has hushed his moan; that flock of long-tailed titmice, which were twinging and pecking about the fir-cones a few minutes since, are gone: and now there is not even a gnat to quiver in the slant sun-rays. Did a spider run over these dead leaves, I almost fancy I could hear his footfall. The creaking of the saddle, the soft step of the mare upon the fir-needles, jar my
* * * * *
The charts of the world which have been drawn up by modern science have thrown into a narrow space the expression of a vast amount of knowledge, but I have never yet seen any pictorial enough to enable the spectator to imagine the kind of contrast in physical character which exists between northern and southern countries. We know the differences in detail, but we have not that broad glance or grasp which would enable us to feel them in their fulness. We know that gentians grow on the Alps, and olives on the Apennines; but we do not enough conceive for ourselves that variegated mosaic of the world’s surface which a bird sees in its migration, that difference between the district of the gentian and of the olive which the stork and the swallow see far off, as they lean upon the sirocco wind. Let us, for a moment, try to raise ourselves even above the level of their flight, and imagine the Mediterranean lying beneath us like an irregular lake, and all its ancient promontories sleeping in the sun; here and there an angry spot of thunder, a grey stain of storm, moving upon the burning field; and here and there a fixed wreath of white volcano smoke, surrounded by its circle of ashes; but for the most part a great peacefulness of light, Syria and Greece, Italy and Spain, laid like pieces of a golden pavement into the sea-blue, chased, as we stoop nearer to them, with bossy beaten work of mountain chains, and glowing softly with terraced gardens, and flowers heavy with frankincense, mixed among masses of laurel and orange, and plumy palm, that abate with their grey-green shadows the burning of the marble rocks, and of the ledges of the porphyry sloping under lucent sand. Then let us pass farther towards the north, until we see the orient colours change gradually into a vast belt of rainy green, where the pastures of Switzerland, and poplar valleys of France, and dark forests of the Danube and Carpathians stretch from the mouths of the Loire to those of the Volga, seen through clefts in grey swirls of rain-cloud and flaky veils of the mist of the brooks, spreading low along the pasture lands; and then, farther north still, to see the earth heave into mighty masses of leaden rock and heathy moor, bordering with a broad waste of gloomy purple that belt of field and wood, and splintering into irregular and grisly islands amidst the northern seas beaten by storm, and chilled by
* * * * *
The western waves
of ebbing day
Rolled o’er the glen their level way;
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
Was bathed in floods of living fire.
But not a setting beam could glow
Within the dark ravines below,
Where twined the path, in shadow hid,
Bound many a rocky pyramid,
Shooting abruptly from the dell
Its thunder-splintered pinnacle;
Bound many an insulated mass,
The native bulwarks of the pass,
Huge as the tower which builders vain
Presumptuous piled on Shinar’s plain.
The rocky summits, split and rent,
Formed turret, dome, or battlement.
Or seemed fantastically set
With cupola or minaret,
Wild crests as pagod ever decked,
Or mosque of eastern architect.
Boon nature scattered,
free and wild,
Each plant or flower, the mountain’s child.
Here eglantine embalmed the air,
Hawthorn and hazel mingled there;
The primrose pale and violet flower,
Found in each cliff a narrow bower;
Foxglove and nightshade, side by side,
Emblems of punishment and pride,
Grouped their dark hues with every stain,
The weather-beaten crags retain.
With boughs that quaked at every breath,
Grey birch and aspen wept beneath;
Aloft the ash and warrior oak
Cast anchor in the rifted rock;
And higher yet the pine tree hung
His shatter’d trunk, and frequent flung,
Where seemed the cliffs to meet on high,
His boughs athwart the narrowed sky
Highest of all, where white peaks glanced,
Where glistening streamers waved and danced,
The wanderer’s eye could barely view
The summer heaven’s delicious blue;
So wondrous wild, the whole might seem
The scenery of a fairy dream.
Onward, amid the copse ’gan peep
A narrow inlet still and deep,
Affording scarce such breadth of brim,
As served the wild duck’s brood to swim;
Lost for a space, through thickets veering,
But broader when again appearing,
Tall rocks and tufted knolls their face
Could on the dark blue mirror trace;
And farther as the hunter stray’d,
Still broader sweep its channels made.
The shaggy mounds no longer stood,
Emerging from entangled wood,
But, wave-encircled, seemed to float,
Like castle girdled with its moat;
Yet broader floods extending still,
Divide them from their parent hill,
Till each, retiring, claims to be
An islet in an inland sea.
And now, to issue
from the glen,
No pathway meets the wanderer’s ken,
Unless he climb, with footing nice,
A far projecting precipice.
The broom’s tough roots his ladder made,
The hazel saplings lent their aid;
And thus an airy point he won.
Where, gleaming with the setting sun,
One burnish’d sheet of living gold,
Loch-Katrine lay beneath him rolled;
In all her length far winding lay,
With promontory, creek, and bay,
And islands that, empurpled bright,
Floated amid the livelier light;
* * * * *
Lochiel! Lochiel! beware of the day
When the Lowlands shall meet thee in battle array!
For a field of the dead rushes red on my sight,
And the clans of Culloden are scattered in fight;
They rally, they bleed, for their kingdom and crown;
Wo, wo to the riders that trample them down!
Proud Cumberland prances, insulting the slain,
And their hoof-beaten bosoms are trod to the plain.
But hark! through the fast-flashing lightning of war,
What steed to the desert flies frantic and far?
’Tis thine, O Glenullin! whose bride shall await,
Like a love-lighted watchfire, all night at the gate.
A steed comes at morning; no rider is there;
But its bridle is red with the sign of despair.
Weep, Albyn, to death and captivity led!
O weep, but thy tears cannot number the dead;
For a merciless sword on Culloden shall wave,
Culloden! that reeks with the blood of the brave.
Go preach to the coward, thou death-
Or, if gory Culloden so dreadful appear,
Draw, dotard, around thy old wavering sight
This mantle, to cover the phantoms of fright.
Ha! laugh’st thou, Lochiel, my vision to
Proud bird of the mountain, thy plume shall be torn!
Say, rushed the bold eagle exultingly forth
From his home, in the dark-rolling clouds of the north?
Lo! the death-shot of foemen outspeeding, he rode
Companionless, bearing destruction abroad;
But down let him stoop from his havoc on high!
Ah! home let him speed, for the spoiler is nigh.
Why flames the far summit? Why shoot to the blast
Those embers, like stars from the firmament cast?
’Tis the fire shower of ruin, all dreadfully driven
From his eyrie that beacons the darkness of heaven.
Oh, crested Lochiel! the peerless in might,
Whose banners arise on the battlements’ height,
Heaven’s fire is around thee, to blast and to burn:
Return to thy dwelling! all lonely return!
For the blackness of ashes shall mark where it stood,
And a wild mother scream o’er her famishing brood.
False wizard, avaunt! I have marshalled my
Their swords are a thousand, their bosoms are one!
They are true to the last of their blood and their
And like reapers descend to the harvest of death.
Then welcome be Cumberland’s steed to the shock!
Let him dash his proud foam like a wave on the rock!
But we to his kindred, and we to his cause,
When Albyn her claymore indignantly draws;
When her bonneted chieftains to victory crowd,
Clanranald the dauntless, and Moray the proud;
All plaided and plumed in their tartan array——
Lochiel! beware of the day!
For, dark and despairing, my sight I may seal,
But man cannot cover what God would reveal.
’Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.
I tell thee, Culloden’s dread echoes shall ring,
With the bloodhounds that bark for thy fugitive king.
Lo! anointed by heaven with the vials of wrath,
Behold, where he flies on his desolate path!
Now in darkness and billows he sweeps from my sight;
Rise! rise! ye wild tempests, and cover his flight!—
’Tis finished. Their thunders are hushed on the moors;
Culloden is lost, and my country deplores.
But where is the iron-bound prisoner? Where?
For the red eye of battle is shut in despair.
Say, mounts he the ocean-wave, banished, forlorn,
Like a limb from his country cast bleeding and torn?
Ah, no! for a darker departure is near,—
The war drum is muffled, and black is the bier;
His death bell is tolling! Oh, mercy! dispel
Yon sight that it freezes my spirit to tell!
Life flutters convulsed in his quivering limbs,
And his blood-streaming nostril in agony swims;
Accursed be the faggots that blaze at his feet,
Where his heart shall be thrown, ere it ceases to beat,
With the smoke of its ashes to poison the gale——
Down, soothless insulter! I trust not the
For never shall Albyn a destiny meet
So black with dishonour, so foul with retreat.
Though my perishing ranks should be strewed in their
Like ocean weeds heaped on the surf-beaten shore,
Lochiel, untainted by flight or by chains,
While the kindling of life in his bosom remains,
Shall victor exult, or in death be laid low,
With his back to the field, and his feet to the foe!
And leaving in battle no blot on his name,
Look proudly to heaven from the death-bed of fame.
[Note: Life flutters convulsed &c. Describes the barbarous death which awaited the traitor according to the statute book of England, as it then stood. This was the penalty dealt to the rebels of 1745.]
* * * * *
For three days they stood in this direction, and the further they went the more frequent and encouraging were the signs of land. Flights of small birds of various colours, some of them such as sing in the fields, came flying about the ships, and then continued towards the south-west, and others were heard also flying by in the night. Tunny fish played about the smooth sea, and a heron, a pelican, and a duck, were seen, all bound in the same direction. The herbage which floated by was fresh and green, as if recently from land, and the air, Columbus observes, was sweet and fragrant as April breezes in Seville.
All these, however, were regarded by the crews as so many delusions beguiling them on to destruction; and when, on the evening of the third day, they beheld the sun go down upon a shoreless horizon, they broke forth into turbulent clamour. They exclaimed against this obstinacy in tempting fate by continuing on into a boundless sea. They insisted upon turning home, and abandoning the voyage as hopeless. Columbus endeavoured to pacify them by gentle words and promises of large rewards; but finding that they only increased in clamour, he assumed a decided tone. He told them it was useless to murmur; the expedition had been sent by the sovereigns to seek the Indies, and, happen what might, he was determined to persevere, until, by the blessing of God, he should accomplish the enterprise.
Columbus was now at open defiance with his crew, and his situation became desperate. Fortunately the manifestations of the vicinity of land were such on the following day as no longer to admit a doubt. Beside a quantity of fresh weeds, such as grow in rivers, they saw a green fish of a kind which keeps about rocks; then a branch of thorn with berries on it, and recently separated from the tree, floated by them; then they picked up a reed, a small board, and, above all, a staff artificially carved. All gloom and mutiny now gave way to sanguine expectation; and throughout the day each one was eagerly on the watch, in hopes of being the first to discover the long-sought-for land.
In the evening, when, according to invariable custom on board of the admiral’s ship, the mariners had sung the vesper hymn to the Virgin, he made an impressive address to his crew. He pointed out the goodness of God in thus conducting them by soft and favouring breezes across a tranquil ocean, cheering their hopes continually with fresh signs, increasing as their fears augmented, and thus leading and guiding them to a promised land. He now reminded them of the orders he had given on leaving the Canaries, that, after sailing westward seven hundred leagues, they should not make sail after midnight. Present appearances authorized such a precaution. He thought it probable they would make land that very night; he ordered, therefore, a vigilant look-out to be kept from the forecastle, promising to whomsoever should make the discovery a doublet of velvet, in addition to the pension to be given by the sovereigns.
The breeze had been fresh all day, with more sea than usual, and they had made great progress. At sunset they had stood again to the west, and were ploughing the waves at a rapid rate, the Pinta keeping the lead from her superior sailing. The greatest animation prevailed throughout the ships; not an eye was closed that night. As the evening darkened, Columbus took his station on the top of the castle or cabin on the high poop of his vessel, ranging his eye along the dusky horizon, and maintaining an intense and unremitting watch. About ten o’clock he thought he beheld a light glimmering at a great distance. Fearing his eager hopes might deceive him, he called to Pedro Gutierrez, gentleman of the king’s bedchamber, and inquired whether he saw such a light: the latter replied in the affirmative. Doubtful whether it might not be some delusion of the fancy, Columbus called Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, and made the same inquiry. By the time the latter had ascended the round-house, the light had disappeared. They saw it once or twice afterwards in sudden and passing gleams, as if it were a torch in the bark of a fisherman, rising and sinking with the waves, or in the hand of some person on shore, borne up and down as he walked from house to house. So transient and uncertain were these gleams, that few attached any importance to them; Columbus, however, considered them as certain signs of land, and, moreover, that the land was inhabited.
They continued their course until two in the morning, when a gun from the Pinta gave the joyful signal of land. It was first descried by a mariner named Rodrigo de Triana; but the reward was afterwards adjudged to the admiral, for having previously perceived the light. The land was now clearly seen about two leagues distant, whereupon they took in sail, and laid to, waiting impatiently for the dawn.
The thoughts and feelings of Columbus in this little space of time must have been tumultuous and intense. At length, in spite of every difficulty and danger, he had accomplished his object. The great mystery of the ocean was revealed; his theory, which had been the scoff of sages, was triumphantly established; he had secured to himself a glory durable as the world itself.
It is difficult to conceive the feelings of such a man, at such a moment, or the conjectures which must have thronged upon his mind, as to the land before him, covered with darkness. That it was fruitful was evident from the vegetables which floated from its shores. He thought, too, that he perceived the fragrance of aromatic groves. The moving light he had beheld proved it the residence of man. But what were its inhabitants? Were they like those of the other parts of the globe, or were they some strange and monstrous race, such as the imagination was prone in those times to give to all remote and unknown regions? Had he come upon some wild island far in the Indian Sea, or was this the famed Cipango itself, the object of his golden fancies? A thousand speculations of the kind must have swarmed upon him, as, with his anxious crews, he waited for the night to pass away; wondering whether the morning light would reveal a savage wilderness, or dawn upon spicy groves, and glittering fanes, and gilded cities, and all the splendour of oriental civilization.
It was on Friday morning, the 12th of October, that Columbus first beheld the New World. As the day dawned he saw before him a level island, several leagues in extent, and covered with trees like a continual orchard. Though apparently uncultivated, it was populous, for the inhabitants were seen issuing from all parts of the woods and running to the shore. They were perfectly naked, and, as they stood gazing at the ships, appeared by their attitudes and gestures to be lost in astonishment. Columbus made signal for the ships to cast anchor, and the boats to be manned and armed. He entered his own boat, richly attired in scarlet, and holding the royal standard; whilst Martin Alonzo Pinzon, and Vincent Yanez his brother, put off in company in their boats, each with a banner of the enterprize emblazoned with a green cross, having on either side the letters F. and Y., the initials of the Castilian monarchs Fernando and Ysabel, surmounted by crowns.
As he approached the shore, Columbus, who was disposed for all kinds of agreeable impressions, was delighted with the purity and suavity of the atmosphere, the crystal transparency of the sea, and the extraordinary beauty of the vegetation. He beheld, also, fruits of an unknown kind upon the trees which overhung the shores. On landing he threw himself on his knees, kissed the earth, and returned thanks to God with tears of joy. His example was followed by the rest, whose hearts indeed overflowed with the same feelings of gratitude, Columbus then rising, drew his sword, displayed the royal standard, and assembling round him the two captains, with Rodrigo de Escobedo, notary of the armament, Rodrigo Sanchez, and the rest who had landed, he took solemn possession in the name of the Castilian sovereigns, giving the island the name of San Salvador. Having complied with the requisite forms and ceremonies, he called upon all present to take the oath of obedience to him, as admiral and viceroy, representing the persons of the sovereigns.
The feelings of the crew now burst forth in the most extravagant transports. They had recently considered themselves devoted men, hurrying forward to destruction; they now looked upon themselves as favourites of fortune, and gave themselves up to the most unbounded joy. They thronged around the admiral with overflowing zeal, some embracing him, others kissing his hands. Those who had been most mutinous and turbulent during the voyage, were now most devoted and enthusiastic. Some begged favours of him, as if he had already wealth and honours in his gift. Many abject spirits, who had outraged him by their insolence, now crouched at his feet, begging pardon for all the trouble they had caused him, and promising the blindest obedience for the future.
[Notes: Columbus. Christopher Columbus of Genoa (born 1430, died 1506), the discoverer of America. His first expedition was made in 1492.
“The reward was afterwards adjudged to the admiral.” This has often been alleged, and apparently with considerable reason, as a stain upon the name of Columbus.]
* * * * *
On the morning of the 24th of December, Columbus set sail from Port St. Thomas before sunrise, and steered to the eastward, with an intention of anchoring at the harbour of the cacique Guacanagari. The wind was from the land, but so light as scarcely to fill the sails, and the ships made but little progress. At eleven o’clock at night, being Christmas eve, they were within a league or a league and a half of the residence of the cacique; and Columbus, who had hitherto kept watch, finding the sea calm and smooth, and the ship almost motionless, retired to rest, not having slept the preceding night. He was, in general, extremely wakeful on his coasting voyages, passing whole nights upon deck in all weathers; never trusting to the watchfulness of others where there was any difficulty or danger to be provided against. In the present instance he felt perfectly secure; not merely on account of profound calm, but because the boats on the preceding day, in their visit to the cacique, had reconnoitred the coast, and had reported that there were neither rocks nor shoals in their course.
No sooner had he retired, than the steersman gave the helm in charge to one of the ship-boys, and went to sleep. This was in direct violation of an invariable order of the admiral, that the helm should never be intrusted to the boys. The rest of the mariners who had the watch took like advantage of the absence of Columbus, and in a little while the whole crew was buried in sleep. In the meantime the treacherous currents, which run swiftly along this coast, carried the vessel quietly, but with force, upon a sand-bank. The heedless boy had not noticed the breakers, although they made a roaring that might have been heard a league. No sooner, however, did he feel the rudder strike, and hear the tumult of the rushing sea, than he began to cry for aid. Columbus, whose careful thoughts never permitted him to sleep profoundly, was the first on deck. The master of the ship, whose duty it was to have been on watch, next made his appearance, followed by others of the crew, half awake. The admiral ordered them to take the boat and carry out an anchor astern, to warp the vessel off. The master and the sailors sprang into the boat; but, confused as men are apt to be when suddenly awakened by an alarm, instead of obeying the commands of Columbus, they rowed off to the other caravel, about half a league to windward.
In the meantime the master had reached the caravel, and made known the perilous state in which he had left the vessel. He was reproached with his pusillanimous desertion; the commander of the caravel manned his boat and hastened to the relief of the admiral, followed by the recreant master, covered with shame and confusion.
It was too late to save the ship, the current having set her more upon the bank. The admiral, seeing that his boat had deserted him, that the ship had swung across the stream, and that the water was continually gaining upon her, ordered the mast to be cut away, in the hope of lightening her sufficiently to float her off. Every effort was in vain. The keel was firmly bedded in the sand; the shock had opened several seams; while the swell of the breakers, striking her broadside, left her each moment more and more aground, until she fell over on one side. Fortunately the weather continued calm, otherwise the ship must have gone to pieces, and the whole crew might have perished amidst the currents and breakers.
The admiral and her men took refuge on board the caravel. Diego de Arana, chief judge of the armament, and Pedro Gutierrez, the king’s butler, were immediately sent on shore as envoys to the cacique Guaeanagari, to inform him of the intended visit of the admiral, and of his disastrous shipwreck. In the meantime, as a light wind had sprung up from shore, and the admiral was ignorant of his situation, and of the rocks and banks that might be lurking around him, he lay to until daylight.
The habitation of the cacique was about a league and a half from the wreck. When he heard of the misfortune of his guest, he manifested the utmost affliction, and even shed tears. He immediately sent all his people, with all the canoes, large and small, that could be mustered; and so active were they in their assistance, that in a little while the vessel was unloaded. The cacique himself, and his brothers and relatives, rendered all the aid in their power, both on sea and land; keeping vigilant guard that everything should be conducted with order, and the property secured from injury or theft. From time to time, he sent some one of his family, or some principal person of his attendants, to console and cheer the admiral, assuring him that everything he possessed should be at his disposal.
Never, in a civilized country, were the vaunted rites of hospitality more scrupulously observed, than by this uncultivated savage. All the effects landed from the ships were deposited near his dwelling; and an armed guard surrounded them all night, until houses could be prepared in which to store them. There seemed, however, even among the common people, no disposition to take advantage of the misfortune of the stranger. Although they beheld what must in their eyes have been inestimable treasures, cast, as it were, upon their shores, and open to depredation, yet there was not the least attempt to pilfer, nor, in transporting the effects from the ships, had they appropriated the most trifling article. On the contrary, a general sympathy was visible in their countenances and actions; and to have witnessed their concern, one would have supposed the misfortune to have happened to themselves.
“So loving, so tractable, so peaceable are these people,” says Columbus in his journal, “that I swear to your Majesties, there is not in the world a better nation, nor a better land. They love their neighbours as themselves; and their discourse is ever sweet and gentle, and accompanied with a smile; and though it is true that they are naked, yet their manners are decorous and praiseworthy.”
[Note: Cacique. The chief of an Indian tribe. The word was adopted by the Spaniards from the language of the natives of San Domingo.
* * * * *
I departed from Kooma, accompanied by two shepherds, who were going towards Sibidooloo. The road was very steep and rocky, and as my horse had hurt his feet much, he travelled slowly and with great difficulty; for in many places the ascent was so sharp, and the declivities so great, that if he had made one false step, he must inevitably have been dashed to pieces. The herds being anxious to proceed, gave themselves little trouble about me or my horse, and kept walking on at a considerable distance. It was about eleven o’clock, as I stopped to drink a little water at a rivulet (my companions being near a quarter of a mile before me), that I heard some people calling to each other, and presently a loud screaming, as from a person in great distress. I immediately conjectured that a lion had taken one of the shepherds, and mounted my horse to have a better view of what had happened. The noise, however, ceased; and I rode slowly towards the place from whence I thought it proceeded, calling out, but without receiving any answer. In a little time, however, I perceived one of the shepherds lying among the long grass near the road; and, though I could see no blood upon him, concluded he was dead. But when I came close to him, he whispered to me to stop, telling me that a party of armed men had seized upon his companion, and shot two arrows at himself as he was making his escape. I stopped to consider what course to take, and looking round, saw at a little distance a man sitting upon the stump of a tree; I distinguished also the heads of six or seven more; sitting among the grass, with muskets in their hands. I had now no hopes of escaping, and therefore determined to ride forward towards them. As I approached them, I was in hopes they were elephant hunters, and by way of opening the conversation, inquired if they had shot anything; but, without returning an answer, one of them ordered me to dismount; and then, as if recollecting himself, waved with his hand for me to proceed. I accordingly rode past, and had with some difficulty crossed a deep rivulet, when I heard somebody holloa; and looking back, saw those I took for elephant hunters now running after me, and calling out to me to turn back. I stopped until they were all come up, when they informed me that the King of the Foulahs had sent them on purpose to bring me, my horse, and everything that belonged to me, to Fooladoo, and that therefore I must turn back, and go along with them. Without hesitating a moment, I turned round and followed them, and we travelled together near a quarter of a mile without exchanging a word. When coming to a dark place of the wood, one of them said, in the Mandingo language, “This place
[Note: Mungo Park. Born in Selkirkshire in 1771; set out on his first African exploration in 1795. His object was to explore the Niger; and this he had done to a great extent when he was murdered (as is supposed) by the natives in 1805.]
* * * * *
REST FROM BATTLE.
in ocean sunk the lamp of light,
And drew behind the cloudy veil of night;
The conquering Trojans mourn his beams decayed;
The Greeks rejoicing bless the friendly shade.
The victors keep the field: and Hector calls
A martial council near the navy walls:
These to Scamander’s bank apart he led,
Where thinly scattered lay the heaps of dead.
The assembled chiefs, descending on the ground,
Attend his order, and their prince surround.
A massy spear he bore of mighty strength,
Of full ten cubits was the lance’s length;
The point was brass, refulgent to behold,
Fixed to the wood with circling rings of gold:
The noble Hector on his lance reclined,
And bending forward, thus revealed his mind:
“Ye valiant Trojans, with attention hear!
Ye Dardan bands, and generous aids, give ear!
This day, we hoped, would wrap in conquering flame
Greece with her ships, and crown our toils with fame.
But darkness now, to save the cowards, falls,
And guards them trembling in their wooden walls.
Obey the night, and use her peaceful hours,
Our steeds to forage, and refresh our powers.
Straight from the town be sheep and oxen sought,
And strengthening bread and generous wine be brought.
Wide o’er the field, high blazing to the sky,
Let numerous fires the absent sun supply,
The flaming piles with plenteous fuel raise,
Till the bright morn her purple beam displays;
Lest, in the silence and the shades of night,
Greece on her sable ships attempt her flight.
Not unmolested let the wretches gain
Their lofty decks, or safely cleave the main:
Some hostile wound let every dart bestow,
Some lasting token of the Phrygian foe:
spoke. From all his host around
Shouts of applause along the shores resound.
Each from the yoke the smoking steeds untied,
And fixed their headstalls to his chariot-side.
Fat sheep and oxen from the town are led,
With generous wine, and all-sustaining bread.
Full hecatombs lay burning on the shore;
The winds to heaven the curling vapours bore;
Ungrateful offering to the immortal powers!
Whose wrath hung heavy o’er the Trojan towers;
Nor Priam nor his sons obtained their grace;
Proud Troy they hated, and her guilty race.
The troops exulting sat in order round,
And beaming fires illumined all the ground.
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night!
O’er heaven’s clear azure spreads her sacred light,
When not a breath disturbs the deep serene,
And not a cloud o’ercasts the solemn scene;
Around her throne the vivid planets roll,
And stars unnumbered gild the glowing pole;
O’er the dark trees a yellower verdure shed,
And tip with silver every mountain’s head.
[Notes:_Rest from battle_. This is part of Pope’s translation of the Iliad of Homer (Book 8, l. 605).
Stamander. One of the rivers in the neighbourhood of Troy.
Dardan bands. Trojan lands. Dardanus was the mythical ancestor of the Trojans.
Generous aids = allies.
From age inglorious and black death secure = safe from inglorious age and from black death.
Hecatombs. Sacrifices of 100 oxen.
Ungrateful offering = unpleasing offering.
Xanthus. The other river in the neighbourhood of Troy.
Umbered = thrown into shadow, and glimmering in the darkness.]
* * * * *
Aristides at first was loved and respected for his surname of the Just, and afterwards envied as much; the latter, chiefly by the management of Themistocles, who gave it out among the people that Aristides had abolished the courts of judicature, by drawing the arbitration of all causes to himself, and so was insensibly gaining sovereign power, though without guards and the other ensigns of it. The people, elevated with the late victory at Marathon, thought themselves capable of everything, and the highest respect little enough for them. Uneasy, therefore, at finding any one citizen rose to such extraordinary honour and distinction, they assembled at Athens from all the towns in Attica, and banished Aristides by the Ostracism; disguising their envy of his character under the specious pretence of guarding against tyranny.
For the Ostracism was not a punishment for crimes and misdemeanours, but was very decently called an humbling and lessening of some excessive influence and power. In reality it was a mild gratification of envy; for by this means, whoever was offended at the growing greatness of another, discharged his spleen, not in anything cruel or inhuman, but only in voting a ten years’ banishment. But when it once began to fall upon mean and profligate persons, it was for ever after entirely laid aside; Hyperbolus being the last that was exiled by it.
The reason of its turning upon such a wretch was this. Alcibiades and Nicias, who were persons of the greatest interest in Athens, had each his party; but perceiving that the people were going to proceed to the Ostracism, and that one of them was likely to suffer by it, they consulted together, and joining interests, caused it to fall upon Hyperbolus. Hereupon the people, full of indignation at finding this kind of punishment dishonoured and turned into ridicule, abolished it entirely.
The Ostracism (to give a summary account of it) was conducted in the following manner. Every citizen took a piece of a broken pot, or a shell, on which he wrote the name of the person he wanted to have banished, and carried it to a part of the market-place that was enclosed with wooden rails. The magistrates then counted the number of the shells; and if it amounted not to six thousand, the Ostracism stood for nothing: if it did, they sorted the shells, and the person whose name was found on the greatest number, was declared an exile for ten years, but with permission to enjoy his estate.
At the time that Aristides was banished, when the people were inscribing the names on the shells, it is reported that an illiterate burgher came to Aristides, whom he took for some ordinary person, and, giving him his shell, desired him to write Aristides upon it. The good man, surprised at the adventure, asked him “Whether Aristides had ever injured him?” “No,” said he, “nor do I even know him; but it vexes me to hear him everywhere called the Just.” Aristides made no answer, but took the shell, and having written his own name upon it, returned it to the man. When he quitted Athens, he lifted up his hands towards heaven, and, agreeably to his character, made a prayer, very different from that of Achilles; namely, “That the people of Athens might never see the day which should force them to remember Aristides.”
[Notes: Aristides. A prominent citizen of Athens (about the year 490 B.C.) opposed to the more advanced policy of Themistocles, who wished to make the city rely entirely upon her naval power. He was ostracised in 489, but afterwards restored.
Marathon. The victory gained over the Persian invaders, 490 B.C.]
* * * * *
Baeda—the venerable Bede as later times styled him—was born about ten years after the Synod of Whitby, beneath the shade of a great abbey which Benedict Biscop was rearing by the mouth of the Wear. His youth was trained and his long tranquil life was wholly spent in an offshoot of Benedict’s house which was founded by his scholar Ceolfrid. Baeda never stirred from Jarrow. “I spent my whole life in the same monastery,” he says, “and while attentive to the rule of my order and the service of the Church, my constant pleasure
But the noblest proof of his love of England lies in the work which immortalizes his name. In his ’Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation,’ Baeda was at once the founder of medieval history and the first English historian. All that we really know of the century and a half that follows the landing of Augustine, we know from him. Wherever his own personal observation extended, the story is told with admirable detail and force. He is hardly less full or accurate in the portions which he owed to his Kentish friends, Alewine and Nothelm. What he owed to no informant was his own exquisite faculty of story-telling, and yet no story of his own telling is so touching as the story of his death. Two weeks before the Easter of 735 the old man was seized with an extreme weakness and loss of breath. He still preserved, however, his usual pleasantness and gay good-humour, and in spite of prolonged sleeplessness continued his lectures to the pupils about him. Verses of his own English tongue broke from time to time from the master’s lip—rude rhymes that told how before the “need-fare,” Death’s stern “must-go,” none can enough bethink him what is to be his doom for good or ill. The tears of Baeda’s scholars mingled with his song. “We never read without weeping,” writes one of then. So the days rolled on to Ascension-tide, and still master and pupils toiled at their work, for Baeda longed to bring to an end his version of St. John’s Gospel into the English tongue, and his extracts from Bishop Isidore. “I don’t want my boys to read a lie,” he answered those who would have had him rest, “or to work to no purpose, after I am gone.” A few days before Ascension-tide his sickness grew upon him, but he spent the whole day in teaching, only saying cheerfully to his scholars, “Learn with what speed you may; I know not how long I may last.” The dawn broke on another sleepless night, and again the old man called his scholars round him and bade them write. “There is still a chapter wanting,” said the scribe, as the morning drew on, “and it is hard for thee to question thyself any longer.” “It is easily done,” said Baeda; “take thy pen and write quickly.” Amid tears and farewells the day wore on to eventide. “There is yet one sentence unwritten, dear master,” said the boy. “Write it quickly,” bade the dying man. “It is finished now,” said the little scribe at last. “You speak truth,” said the master; “all is finished now.” Placed upon the pavement, his head supported in his scholar’s arms, his face turned to the spot where he was wont to pray, Baeda chaunted the solemn “Glory to God.” As his voice reached the close of his song, he passed quietly away.
J. R. GREEN.
[Note: Baeda. The father of literature and learning in England (656-735 A.D.).]
* * * * *
Anselm’s life was drawing to its close. The re-enactment and confirmation by the authority of the great Whitsuntide Assembly of the canons of the Synod of London against clerical marriage, and a dispute with two of the Northern bishops—his old friend Ralph Flambard, and the archbishop-elect of York, who, apparently reckoning on Anselm’s age and bad health, was scheming to evade the odious obligation of acknowledging the paramount claims of the see of Canterbury—were all that marked the last year of his life. A little more than a year before his own death, he had to bury his old and faithful friend—a friend first in the cloister of Bee, and then in the troubled days of his English primacy—the great builder, Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester. Anselm’s last days shall be told in the words of one who had the best right to record the end of him whom he had loved so simply and so loyally—his attendant Eadmer.
“During these events (of the last two years of his life) he wrote a treatise ’Concerning the Agreement of Foreknowledge, Predestination, and the Grace of God, with Free Will,’ in which contrary to his wont, he found difficulty in composition; for after his illness at Bury St. Edmund’s, as long as he was spared to this life, he was weaker than before; so that, when he was moving from place to place, he was from that time carried in a litter, instead of riding on horseback. He was tried, also, by frequent and sharp sicknesses, so that we scarce dared promise him life. He, however, never left off his old way of living, but was always engaged in godly meditations, or holy exhortations, or other good work.
“In the third year after King Henry had recalled him from his second banishment, every kind of food by which nature is sustained became loathsome to him. He used to eat, however, putting force on himself, knowing that he could not live without food; and in this way he somehow or another dragged on life through half a year, gradually failing day by day in body, though in vigour of mind he was still the same as he used to be. So being strong in spirit, though but very feeble in the flesh, he could not go to his oratory on foot; but from his strong desire to attend the consecration of the Lord’s body, which he venerated with a special feeling of devotion, he caused himself to be carried thither every day in a chair. We who attended on him tried to prevail on him to desist, because it fatigued him so much; but we succeeded, and that with difficulty, only four days before he died.
“From that time he took to his bed? and, with gasping breath, continued to exhort all who had the privilege of drawing near him to live to God, each in his own order. Palm Sunday had dawned, and we, as usual, were sitting round him; one of us said to him, ’Lord father, we are given to understand that you are going to leave the world for your Lord’s Easter court.’ He answered, ’If His will be so, I shall gladly obey His will. But
“On the following Tuesday, towards evening, he was no longer able to speak intelligibly. Ralph, Bishop of Rochester, asked him to bestow his absolution and blessing on us who were present, and on his other children, and also on the king and queen with their children, and the people of the land who had kept themselves under God in his obedience. He raised his right hand, as if he was suffering nothing, and made the sign of the Holy Cross; and then dropped his head and sank down. The congregation of the brethren were already chanting matins in the great church, when one of those who watched about our father the book of the Gospels and read before him the history of the Passion, which was to be read that day at the mass. But when he came to our Lord’s words, ’Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table,’ he began to draw his breath more slowly. We saw that he was just going, so he was removed from his bed, and laid upon sackcloth and ashes. And thus, the whole family of his children being collected round him, he gave up his last breath into the hands of his Creator, and slept in peace.”
[Note:_Anselm_. An Italian by birth (1033-1109), was Abbot of Bee, in Normandy, and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, in both succeeding his countryman Lanfranc. He was famous as a scholastic philosopher; and, as a Churchman, he struggled long for the liberties of the Church with William II. and Henry I.]
* * * * *
The vespers had already begun, and the monks were singing the service in the choir, when two boys rushed up the nave, announcing, more by their terrified gestures than by their words, that the soldiers were bursting into the palace and monastery. Instantly the service was thrown into the utmost confusion; part remained at prayer, part fled into the numerous hiding-places the vast fabric affords; and part went down the steps of the choir into the transept to meet the little band at the door. “Come in, come in!” exclaimed one of them; “Come in, and let us die together.” The Archbishop continued to stand outside, and said, “Go and finish the service. So long as you keep in the entrance, I shall not come in.” They fell back a few paces, and he stepped within the door, but, finding the whole place thronged with people, he paused on
* * * * *
The knights, who had been checked for a moment by the sight of the closed door, on seeing it unexpectedly thrown open, rushed into the church. It was, we must remember, about five o’clock in a winter evening; the shades of night were gathering, and were deepened into a still darker gloom within the high and massive walls of the vast cathedral, which was only illuminated here and there by the solitary lamps burning before the altars. The twilight, lengthening from the shortest day a fortnight before, was but just sufficient to reveal the outline of objects.
* * * * *
In the dim twilight they could just discern a group of figures mounting the steps of the eastern staircase. One of the knights called out to them, “Stay.” Another, “Where is Thomas Becket, traitor to the King?” No answer was returned. None could have been expected by any one who remembered the indignant silence with which Becket had swept by when the same words had been applied by Randulf of Broc at Northampton. Fitzurse rushed forward, and, stumbling against one of the monks on the lower
The well-known horror which in that age was felt at an act of sacrilege, together with the sight of the crowds who were rushing in from the town through the nave, turned their efforts for the next few moments to carrying him out of the church. Fitzurse threw down the axe, and tried to drag him out by the collar of his long cloak, calling, “Come with us—you are our prisoner.” “I will not fly, you detestable fellow,” was Becket’s reply, roused to his usual vehemence, and wrenching the cloak out of Fitzurse’s grasp. The three knights struggled violently to put him on Tracy’s shoulders. Becket set his back against the pillar, and resisted with all his might, whilst Grim, vehemently remonstrating, threw his arms around him to aid his efforts. In the scuffle, Becket fastened upon Tracy, shook him by his coat of mail, and exerting his great strength, flung him down on the pavement. It was hopeless to carry on the attempt to remove him. And in the final struggle which now began, Fitzurse, as before, took the lead. He approached with his drawn sword, and waving it over his head, cried, “Strike, strike!” but merely dashed off his cap. Tracy sprang forward and struck a more decided blow.
* * * * *
The blood from the first blow was trickling down his face in a thin streak; he wiped it with his arm, and when he saw the stain, he said, “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” At the third blow, he sank on his knees—his arms falling, but his hands still joined as if in prayer. With his face turned towards the altar of St. Benedict, he murmured in a low voice, “For the name of Jesus, and the defence of the Church, I am willing to die.” Without moving hand or foot, he fell fiat on his face as he spoke, and with such dignity that his mantle, which extended from head to foot, was not disarranged. In this posture he received a tremendous blow, aimed with such violence that the scalp or crown of the head was severed from the skull, and the sword snapped in two on the marble pavement. Hugh of Horsea planted his foot on the neck of the corpse, thrust his sword into the ghastly wound, and scattered the brains over the pavement. “Let us go—let us go,” he said, in conclusion, “the traitor is dead; he will rise no more.”
[Note: Thomas Becket (1119-1170). Chancellor and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry II.; maintained a heroic, though perhaps ambitious and undesirable struggle with that king for the independence of the clergy; and ended his life by assassination at the hands of certain of Henry’s servants.]
* * * * *
The triumph of her lieutenant, Mountjoy, flung its lustre over the last days of Elizabeth, but no outer triumph could break the gloom which gathered round the dying queen. Lonely as she had always been, her loneliness deepened as she drew towards the grave. The statesmen and warriors of her earlier days had dropped one by one from her council board; and their successors were watching her last moments, and intriguing for favour in the coming reign. The old splendour of her court waned and disappeared. Only officials remained about her, “the other of the council and nobility estrange themselves by all occasions.” As she passed along in her progresses, the people, whose applause she courted, remained cold and silent. The temper of the age, in fact, was changing and isolating her as it changed. Her own England, the England which had grown up around her, serious, moral, prosaic, shrank coldly from this child of earth, and the renascence, brilliant, fanciful, unscrupulous, irreligious. She had enjoyed life as the men of her day enjoyed it, and now that they were gone she clung to it with a fierce tenacity. She hunted, she danced, she jested with her young favourites, she coquetted, and scolded, and frolicked at sixty-seven as she had done at thirty. “The queen,” wrote a courtier, a few months before her death, “was never so gallant these many years, nor so set upon jollity.” She persisted, in spite of opposition, in her gorgeous progresses from country-house to country-house.
[Notes: Mountjoy. The Queen’s lieutenant in Ireland, who had had considerable success in dealing with the Irish rebels.
This chill of ... the renascence. In her irreligion, as well as in her brilliancy and fancy, Elizabeth might fitly be called the child or product of the Pagan renascence or new birth, as the return to the freedom of classic literature, so powerful in the England of her day, was called.
Thy father = the great Lord Burghley, who guided the counsels of the Queen throughout all the earlier part of her reign.
The Suffolk claim, i.e., the claim derived from Mary, the sister of Henry VIII., who married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. James, who succeeded Elizabeth, was descended from the elder sister, Margaret, married to James IV. of Scotland.]
* * * * *
THE SAXON AND THE GAEL.
was the road to trace,
The guide, abating of his pace,
Led slowly through the pass’s jaws,
And ask’d Fitz-James by what strange cause
He sought these wilds? traversed by few,
Without a pass from Roderick Dhu.
“Brave Gael, my pass, in danger tried,
Hangs in my belt, and by my side;
Yet sooth to tell,” the Saxon said,
“I dreamed not now to claim its aid.
When here but three days since, I came,
Bewildered in pursuit of game,
All seemed as peaceful and as still
As the mist slumbering on yon hill:
Thy dangerous chief was then afar,
Nor soon expected back from war.”
“But, Stranger, peaceful since you came,
Bewildered in the mountain game,
Whence the bold boast by which you show
Vich-Alpine’s vowed and mortal foe?”
“Warrior, but yester-morn, I knew
Nought of thy Chieftain, Roderick Dhu,
Save as an outlaw’d desperate man,
The chief of a rebellious clan,
Who in the Regent’s court and sight,
With ruffian dagger stabbed a knight;
Yet this alone might from his part
Sever each true and loyal heart.”
Wrathful at such arraignment foul,
Dark lowered the clansman’s sable scowl.
A space he paused, then sternly said,—
“And heard’st thou why he drew his blade?
Heards’t thou that shameful word and blow
Brought Roderick’s vengeance on his foe?
What reck’d the Chieftain if he stood
On Highland-heath, or Holy-Rood?
He rights such wrong where it is given,
If it were in the court of heaven.”
“Still was it outrage:—yet, ’tis true,
Not then claimed sovereignty his due;
While Albany, with feeble hand,
Held borrowed truncheon of command,
The young King mew’d in Stirling tower,
Was stranger to respect and power.
But then, thy Chieftain’s robber life!
Winning mean prey by causeless strife,
Wrenching from ruined lowland swain
His herds and harvest reared in vain,
Methinks a soul like thine should scorn
The spoils from such foul foray borne.”
The Gael beheld him grim the while,
And answered with disdainful smile,—
“Saxon, from yonder mountain high,
I marked thee send delighted eye
Far to the south and east, where lay
Extended in succession gay,
Deep waving fields and pastures green,
With gentle slopes and groves between:—
These fertile plains, that softened vale,
Were once the birthright of the Gael;
The stranger came with iron hand,
And from our fathers reft the land.
* * * * *
in silence strode before,
And reached that torrent’s sounding shore,
Which, daughter of three mighty lakes,
From Vennachar in silver breaks
Sweeps through the plain, and ceaseless mines,
On Bochastle the mouldering lines.
Where “Rome, the Empress of the world.
Of yore her eagle wings unfurl’d.
And here his course the Chieftain staid;
Threw down his target and his plaid,
And to the Lowland warrior said:—
“Bold Saxon! to his promise just,
Vich-Alpine has discharged his trust.
This murderous Chief, this ruthless man.
This head of a rebellious clan,
Hath led thee safe, through watch and ward,
Far past Clan-Alpine’s outmost guard.
Now, man to man, and steel to steel,
A Chieftain’s vengeance thou shalt feel,
See, here, all vantageless, I stand,
Armed like thyself, with single brand:
For this is Coilantogle ford,
And thou must keep thee with thy sword.”
The Saxon paused:—“I ne’er delayed,
When foeman bade me draw my blade;
Nay more, brave Chief, I vow’d thy death:
Yet sure thy fair and generous faith,
And my deep debt for life preserved,
A better meed have well deserved:—
Can nought but blood our feud atone?
Are there no means?”—“No, stranger, none!
And hear,—to fire thy flagging zeal,—
The Saxon cause rests on thy steel;
For thus spoke Fate by prophet bred
Between the living and the dead:
“Who spills the foremost foeman’s life,
His party conquers in the strife.”—
“Then by my word,” the Saxon said,
“The riddle is already read.
Seek yonder brake beneath the cliff,—
There lies Red Murdoch, stark and stiff.
Thus Fate has solved her prophecy,
Then yield to Fate, and not to me.
To James, at Stirling, let us go,
When, if thou wilt be still his foe,
Or if the King shall not agree
To grant thee grace and favour free,
I plight mine honour, oath, and word,
That, to thy native strengths restored,
With each advantage shalt thou stand,
That aids thee now to guard thy land.”—
Dark lightning flashed from Roderick’s eye—
“Soars thy presumption then so high,
Because a wretched kern ye slew,
Homage to name to Roderick Dhu?
He yields not, he, to man nor Fate!
Thou add’st but fuel to my hate:—
My clansman’s blood demands revenge.—
Not yet prepared?—By Heaven, I change
My thought, and hold thy valour light
As that of some vain carpet-knight,
[Notes: Fitz-James is James V. in disguise.
Holy Rood, or Holy Cross, where was the royal palace of the Scottish kings.
Albany. The Duke of Albany, who was regent of Scotland during part of the minority of James V.
Where Rome, the Empress, &c. And where remnants of Roman encampments are still to be traced.]
* * * * *
BY five o’clock in the morning, the whole army, in order of battle, began to descry the enemy from the rising grounds about a mile from Naseby, and moved towards them. They were drawn up on a little ascent in a large common fallow-field, in one line, extending from one side of the field to the other, the field something more than a mile over; our army in the same order, in one line, with the reserves.
The king led the main battle of foot, Prince Rupert the right wing of the horse, and Sir Marmaduke Langdale the left. Of the enemy Fairfax and Skippon led the body, Cromwell and Roseter the right, and Ireton the left. The numbers of both armies so equal, as not to differ five hundred men, save that the king had most horse by about one thousand, and Fairfax most foot by about five hundred. The number was in each army about eighteen thousand men.
The armies coming close up, the wings engaged first. The prince with his right wing charged with his wonted fury, and drove all the parliament’s wing of horse, one division excepted, clear out of the field. Ireton, who commanded this wing, give him his due, rallied often, and fought like a lion; but our wing bore down all before them, and pursued them with a terrible execution.
Ireton, seeing one division of his horse left, repaired to them, and keeping his ground, fell foul of a brigade of our foot, who coming up to the head of the line, he like a madman charges them with his horse. But they with their pikes tore them to pieces; so that this division was entirely ruined. Ireton himself, thrust through the thigh with a pike, wounded in the face with a halberd, was unhorsed and taken prisoner.
Cromwell, who commanded the parliament’s right wing, charged Sir Marmaduke Langdale with extraordinary fury; but he, an old tried soldier, stood firm, and received the charge with equal gallantry, exchanging all their shot, carabines, and pistols, and then fell on sword in hand, Roseter and Whaley had the better on the point of the wing, and routed two divisions of horse, pushed them behind the reserves, where they rallied, and charged again, but were at last defeated; the rest of the horse, now charged in the flank, retreated fighting, and were pushed behind the reserves of foot.
While this was doing, the foot engaged with equal fierceness, and for two hours there was a terrible fire. The king’s foot, backed with gallant officers, and full of rage at the rout of their horse, bore down the enemy’s brigade led by Skippon. The old man wounded, bleeding, retreats to their reserves. All the foot, except the general’s brigade, were thus driven into the reserves, where their officers rallied them, and brought them on to a fresh charge; and here the horse having driven our horse above a quarter of a mile from the foot, face about, and fall in on the rear of the foot.
Had our right wing done thus, the day had been secured; but Prince Rupert, according to his custom, following the flying enemy, never concerned himself with the safety of those behind; and yet he returned sooner than he had done in like cases too. At our return we found all in confusion, our foot broken, all but one brigade, which, though charged in the front, flank, and rear, could not be broken, till Sir Thomas Fairfax himself came up to the charge with fresh men, and then they were rather cut in pieces than beaten; for they stood with their pikes charged every way to the last extremity.
In this condition, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, we saw the king rallying his horse, and preparing to renew the fight; and our wing of horse coming up to him, gave him opportunity to draw up a large body of horse; so large, that all the enemy’s horse facing us, stood still and looked on, but did not think fit to charge us, till their foot, who had entirely broken our main battle, were put into order again, and brought up to us.
The officers about the king advised his majesty rather to draw off; for, since our foot were lost, it would be too much odds to expose the horse to the fury of their whole army, and would be but sacrificing his best troops, without any hopes of success.
The king, though with great regret at the loss of his foot, yet seeing there was no other hope, took this advice, and retreated in good order to Harborough, and from thence to Leicester.
This was the occasion of the enemy having so great a number of prisoners; for the horse being thus gone off, the foot had no means to make their retreat, and were obliged to yield themselves. Commissary-General Ireton being taken by a captain of foot, makes the captain his prisoner, to save his life, and gives him his liberty for his courtesy before.
Cromwell and Roseter, with all the enemy’s horse, followed us as far as Leicester, and killed all that they could lay hold on straggling from the body, but durst not attempt to charge us in a body. The king expecting the enemy would come to Leicester, removes to Ashby-de-la-Zouch, where we had some time to recollect ourselves.
This was the most fatal action of the whole war; not so much for the loss of our cannon, ammunition, and baggage, of which the enemy boasted so much, but as it was impossible for the king ever to retrieve it. The foot, the best that he was ever master of, could never be supplied; his army in the west was exposed to certain ruin; the north overrun with the Scots; in short, the case grew desperate, and the king was once upon the point of bidding us all disband, and shift for ourselves.
We lost in this fight not above two thousand slain, and the parliament near as many, but the prisoners were a great number; the whole body of foot being, as I have said, dispersed, there were four thousand five hundred prisoners, besides four hundred officers, two thousand horses, twelve pieces of cannon, forty barrels of powder; all the king’s baggage, coaches, most of his servants, and his secretary; with his cabinet of letters, of which the parliament made great improvement, and, basely enough, caused his private letters between his majesty and the queen, her majesty’s letters to the king, and a great deal of such stuff, to be printed.
[Note: The battle of Naseby, fought on June 14th, 1645. The king’s forces were routed, and his cannon and baggage fell into the enemy’s hands. Not only was the loss heavy, but it was made more serious by his correspondence falling into the hands of the parliamentary leaders, which exposed his dealings with the Irish Roman Catholics. The most remarkable point about this description is the air of reality which Defoe gives to his account of an event which took place nearly twenty years before his birth.]
* * * * *
Now there was, not far from the place where they lay, a castle, called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair, and it was in his grounds they now were sleeping; wherefore he, getting up in the morning early, and walking up and down in his fields, caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds. Then with a grim and surly voice he bid them awake, and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds. They told him that they were pilgrims, and that they had lost their way. Then said the giant. You have this night trespassed on me by trampling in and lying on my grounds, and therefore you must go along with me. So they were forced to go, because he was stronger than they. They also had but little to say, for they knew themselves in a fault. The giant, therefore, drove them
Now Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence; so when he was gone to bed, he told his wife what he had done, to wit, that he had taken a couple of prisoners, and cast them into his dungeon for trespassing on his grounds. Then he asked her also what he had best to do further to them. So she asked him what they were, whence they came, and whither they were bound, and he told her. Then she counselled him, that when he arose in the morning he should beat them without mercy. So when he arose, he getteth him a grievous crabtree cudgel, and goes down into the dungeon to them, and there first falls to rating of them as if they were dogs, although they never gave him a word of distaste. Then he falls upon them, and beats them fearfully, in such sort that they were not able to help themselves, or to turn them upon the floor. This done, he withdraws, and leaves them there to condole their misery, and to mourn under their distress: so all that day they spent their time in nothing but sighs and bitter lamentations. The next night, she, talking with her husband further about them, and understanding that they were yet alive, did advise him to counsel them to make away with themselves. So when morning was come, he goes to them in a surly manner, as before, and perceiving them to be very sore with the stripes that he had given them the day before, he told them, that since they were never like to come out of that place, their only way would be forthwith to make an end of themselves, either with knife, halter, or poison; for why, said he, should you choose to live, seeing it is attended with so much bitterness? But they desired him to let them go. With that he looked ugly upon them, and, rushing to them, had doubtless made an end of them himself, but that he fell into one of his fits (for he sometimes, in sunshiny weather, fell into fits), and lost for a time the use of his hands; wherefore he withdrew, and left them as before to consider what to do.
Well, towards evening the giant goes down into the dungeon again, to see if his prisoners had taken his counsel. But when he came there, he found them alive; and, truly, alive was all; for now, what for want of bread and water, and by reason of the wounds they received when he beat them, they could do little but breathe. But, I say, he found them alive; at which he fell into a grievous rage, and told them, that seeing they had disobeyed his counsel, it should be worse with them than if they had never been born.
At this they trembled greatly, and I think that Christian fell into a swoon: but coming a little to himself again, they renewed their discourse about the giant’s counsel, and whether yet they had best take it or no.
Now night being come again, and the giant and his wife being in bed, she asked him concerning the prisoners, and if they had taken his counsel; to which he replied. They are sturdy rogues; they choose rather to bear all hardships than to make away with themselves. Then said she, Take them into the castle-yard to-morrow, and show them the bones and skulls of those that thou hast already despatched, and make them believe, ere a week comes to an end, thou wilt tear them in pieces, as thou hast done their fellows before them.
So when the morning was come, the giant goes to them again, and takes them into the castle-yard, and shows them as his wife had bidden him. These, said he, were pilgrims as you are once, and they trespassed on my grounds as you have done; and when I thought fit, I tore them in pieces; and so within ten days I will do you. Go get you down to your den again. And with that he beat them all the way thither. They lay therefore all day on Saturday in lamentable case as before. Now when night was come, and when Mrs. Diffidence and her husband the giant were got to bed, they began to renew their discourse of the prisoners; and withal the old giant wondered that he could neither by his blows nor counsel bring them to an end. And with that his wife replied, I fear, said she, that they live in hopes that some will come to relieve them, or that they have picklocks about them, by the means of which they hope to escape. And sayest thou so, my dear? said the giant; I will therefore search them in the morning.
Well, on Saturday about midnight, they began to pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day.
Now, a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, broke out into this passionate speech: What a fool, quoth he, am I, to lie in a dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubtful Castle. Then said Hopeful, That’s good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom and try.
Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon-door, whose bolt, as he turned the key, gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out. Then he went to the outward door that leads into the castle-yard, and with his key opened that door also. After that he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened too, but that lock went desperately hard, yet the key did open it. Then they thrust open the gate to make their escape with speed; but that gate, as it opened, made such a creaking, that it waked Giant Despair, who, hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail; for his fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then, they went on, and came to the king’s highway again, and so were safe, because they were out of his jurisdiction.
[Note: John Bunyan (1628-1688), the Puritan tinker, author of the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’]
* * * * *
THE WINTER EVENING.
the twanging horn o’er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright!—
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter’d boots, strapped waist, and frozen locks!
News from all nations lumb’ring at his back.
True to his charge, the close-pack’d load behind.
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destined inn;
And, having dropp’d th’ expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
To him indiff’rent whether grief or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writer’s cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill.
Or charged with am’rous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But oh the important budget; usher’d in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings? have our troops awak’d?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugged,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
And jewell’d turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh—I long to know them all;
I burn to set the imprison’d wranglers free,
And give them voice and utt’rance once again.
the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer, but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such his evening, who with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeez’d
And bor’d with elbow-points through both his sides.
Outscolds the ranting actor on the stage;
Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb.
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots bursting with heroic rage,
Or placemen, all tranquillity and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
To peep at such a world; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on the uninjur’d ear.
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanc’d
To some secure and more than mortal height.
That liberates and exempts me from them all
It turns submitted to my view, turns round
With all its generations; I behold
The tumult, and am still. The sound of war
Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me;
Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride
And avarice that make man a wolf to man;
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats
By which he speaks the language of his heart,
And sigh, but never tremble at the bound.
[Note:_Katerfelto_. A quack then exhibiting in London.]
* * * * *
There were some circumstances attending the remarkable frost of January 1776 so singular and striking, that a short detail of them may not be unacceptable.
The most certain way to be exact will be to copy the passages from my journal, which were taken from time to time, as things occurred. But it may be proper previously to remark, that the first week in January was uncommonly wet, and drowned with vast rain from every quarter; from whence may be inferred, as there is great reason to believe is the case, that intense frosts seldom take place till the earth is completely glutted and chilled with water; and hence dry autumns are seldom followed by rigorous winters.
January 7th.—Snow driving all the day, which was followed by frost, sleet, and some snow, till the twelfth, when a prodigious mass overwhelmed all the works of men, drifting over the tops of the gates, and filling the hollow lanes.
On the 14th, the writer was obliged to be much abroad; and thinks he never before, or since, has encountered such rugged Siberian weather. Many of the narrow roads are now filled above the tops of the hedges; through which the snow was driven in most romantic and grotesque shapes, so striking to the imagination as not to be seen without wonder and pleasure. The poultry dared not stir out of their roosting-places; for cocks and hens are so dazzled and confounded by the glare of the snow, that they would soon perish without assistance. The hares also lay sullenly in their seats, and would not move till compelled by hunger; being conscious, poor animals, that the drifts and heaps treacherously betray their footsteps, and prove fatal to numbers of them.
From the 14th, the snow continued to increase, and began to stop the road-waggons and coaches, which could no longer keep in their regular stages; and especially on the western roads, where the fall appears to have been greater than in the south. The company at Bath, that wanted to attend the Queen’s birthday, were strangely incommoded; many carriages of persons who got, in their way to town from Bath, as far as Marlborough, after strange embarrassment, here came to a dead stop. The ladies fretted, and offered large rewards to labourers if they would shovel them a track to London; but the relentless heaps of snow were too bulky to be removed; and so the 18th passed over, leaving the company in very uncomfortable circumstances at the Castle and other inns.
On the 20th, the sun shone out for the first time since the frost began; a circumstance that has been remarked before, much in favour of vegetation. All this time the cold was not very intense, for the thermometer stood at 29 deg., 28 deg. 25 deg. and thereabout; but on the 21st it descended to 20 deg.. The birds now began to be in a very pitiable and starving condition. Tamed by the season, sky-larks settled in the streets of towns, because they saw the ground was bare; rooks frequented dung-hills close to houses; hares now came into men’s gardens, and scraping away the snow, devoured such plants as they could find.
On the 22nd, the author had occasion to go to London; through a sort of Laplandian scene very wild and grotesque indeed. But the metropolis itself exhibited a still more singular appearance than the country; for, being bedded deep in snow, the pavement could not be touched by the wheels or the horses’ feet, so that the carriages ran about without the least noise. Such an exemption from din and clatter was strange, but not pleasant; it seemed to convey an uncomfortable idea of desolation.
On the 27th, much snow fell all day, and in the evening the frost became very intense. At South Lambeth, for the four following nights, the thermometer fell to 11 deg., 7 deg., 0 deg., 6 deg.; and at Selborne to 7 deg., 6 deg., 10 deg.; and on the 31st of January, just before sunrise, with rime on the trees, and on the tube of the glass, the quicksilver sunk exactly to zero, being 32 deg. below freezing point; but by eleven in the morning, though in the shade, it sprung up to 16-1/2 deg.—a most unusual degree of cold this for the south of England. During these four nights the cold was so penetrating that it occasioned ice in warm and protected chambers; and in the day the wind was so keen that persons of robust constitutions could scarcely endure to face it. The Thames was at once so frozen over, both above and below the bridge, that crowds ran about on the ice. The streets were now strangely encumbered with snow, which crumbled and trod dusty, mid, turning gray, resembled bay-salt; what had fallen on the roofs was so perfectly dry, that from first to last it lay twenty-six days on the houses in the city—a longer time than had been remembered by the oldest housekeepers living. According to all appearances, we might now have expected the continuance of this rigorous weather for weeks to come, since every night increased in severity; but behold, without any apparent on the 1st of February a thaw took place, and some rain followed before night; making good the observation, that frosts often go off, as it were, at once, without any gradual declension of cold. On the 2nd of February, the thaw persisted; and on the 3rd, swarms of little insects were frisking and sporting in a court-yard at South Lambeth, as if they had felt no frost. Why the juices in the small bodies and smaller limbs of such minute beings are not frozen, is a matter of curious inquiry.
REV. GILBERT WHITE.
[Note: Rev. Gilbert White (1720-1793), author of the ’Natural History of Selborne,’ one of the most charming books on natural history in the language.]
* * * * *
The, summer of the year 1783 was an amazing and portentous one, and full of horrible phenomena; for, besides the alarming meteors and tremendous thunder and storms that affrighted and distressed the different counties of this kingdom, the peculiar haze, or smoky fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man. By my journal I find that I had noticed this strange occurrence from June 23 to July 20 inclusive, during which period the wind varied to every quarter, without making any alteration in the air. The sun, at noon, looked as black as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured feruginous light on the ground and floors of rooms, but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. All the time the heat was so intense that butchers’ meat could hardly be eaten the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic, and riding irksome. The country-people began to look with a superstitious awe at the red, lowering aspect of the sun; and, indeed, there was reason for the most enlightened person to be apprehensive, for all the while Calabria, and part of the isle of Sicily, were torn and convulsed with earthquakes; and about that juncture a volcano sprang out of the sea on the coast of Norway. On this occasion Milton’s noble simile of the sun, in his first book of ‘Paradise Lost,’ frequently occurred to my mind; and it is indeed particularly applicable, because, towards the end, it alludes to a superstitious kind of dread with which the minds of men are always impressed by such strange and unusual phenomena:—
“As when the sun, new risen,
Looks through the horizontal, misty air
Shorn of his beams; or, from behind the moon.
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
REV. GILBERT WHITE.
* * * * *
On the 5th of June, 1784, the thermometer in the morning being at 64, and at noon at 70, the barometer at 29.6 1/2, and the wind north, I observed a blue mist, smelling strongly of sulphur, hang along our sloping woods, and seeming to indicate that thunder was at hand. I was called in about two in the afternoon, and so missed seeing the gathering of the clouds in the north, which they who were abroad assured me had something uncommon in its appearance. At about a quarter
Though the clouds at South Lambeth, near London, were at that juncture thin and light, and no storm was in sight, nor within hearing, yet the air was strongly electric; for the bells of an electric machine at that place rang repeatedly, and fierce sparks were discharged.
REV. GILBERT WHITE.
* * * * *
About half-past one P.M. on the 21st of September, 1832, Sir Walter Scott breathed his last, in the presence of all his children. It was a beautiful day—so warm, that every window was wide open—and so perfectly still, that the sound of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible as we knelt around the bed, and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes. No sculptor ever modelled a more majestic image of repose.
It will, I presume, be allowed that no human character, which we have the opportunity of studying with equal minuteness, had fewer faults mixed up in its texture. The grand virtue of fortitude, the basis of all others, was never displayed in higher perfection than in him; and it was, as perhaps true courage always is, combined with an equally admirable spirit of kindness and humanity. His pride, if we must call it so, undebased by the least tincture of mere vanity, was intertwined with a most exquisite charity, and was not inconsistent with true humility. If ever the principle of kindliness was incarnated in a mere man, it was in him; and real kindliness can never be but modest. In the social relations of life, where men are most effectually tried, no spot can be detected in him. He was a patient, dutiful, reverent son; a generous, compassionate, tender husband; an honest, careful, and most affectionate father. Never was a more virtuous or a happier fireside than his. The influence of his mighty genius shadowed it imperceptibly; his calm good sense, and his angelic sweetness of heart and temper, regulated and softened a strict but paternal discipline. His children, as they grew up, understood by degrees the high privilege of their birth; but the profoundest sense of his greatness never disturbed their confidence in his goodness. The buoyant play of his spirits made him sit young among the young; parent and son seemed to live in brotherhood together; and the chivalry of his imagination threw a certain air of courteous gallantry into his relations with his daughters, which gave a very peculiar grace to the fondness of their intercourse.
Perhaps the most touching evidence of the lasting tenderness of his early domestic feelings was exhibited to his executors, when they opened his repositories in search of his testament, the evening after his burial. On lifting up his desk we found arranged in careful order a series of little objects, which had obviously been so placed there that his eye might rest on them every morning before he began his tasks. These were the old-fashioned boxes that had garnished his mother’s toilet when he, a sickly child, slept in her dressing-room; the silver taper-stand which the young advocate had bought for her with his first five-guinea fee; a row of small packets inscribed with her hand, and containing the hair of those of her offspring that had died before her; his father’s snuff-box and pencil-case; and more things of the like sort, recalling the “old familiar faces.” The same feeling was apparent in all the arrangement of his private apartment. Pictures of his father and mother were the only ones in his dressing-room. The clumsy antique cabinets that stood there—things of a very different class from the beautiful and costly productions in the public rooms below—had all belonged to the furniture of George’s Square. Even his father’s rickety washing-stand, with all its cramped appurtenances, though exceedingly
* * * * *
There is, or rather I should say there was, a little inn, called Mumps’s Hall—that is, being interpreted, Beggar’s Hotel—near to Gilsland, which had not then attained its present fame as a Spa. It was a hedge alehouse, where the Border farmers of either country often stopped to refresh themselves and their nags, in their way to and from the fairs and trysts in Cumberland, and especially those who came from or went to Scotland, through a barren and lonely district, without either road or pathway, emphatically called the Waste of Bewcastle. At the period when the adventure about to be described is supposed to have taken place, there were many instances of attacks by freebooters, on those who travelled through this wild district; and Mumps’s Hall had a bad reputation for harbouring the banditti who committed such depredations.
An old and sturdy yeoman belonging to the Scottish side, by surname an Armstrong or Elliot, but well known by his sobriquet of Fighting Charlie of Liddesdale, and still remembered for the courage he displayed in the frequent frays which took place on the Border fifty or sixty years since, had the following adventure in the Waste, one of many which gave its character to the place:—
Charlie had been at Stagshaw-bank fair, had sold his sheep or cattle, or whatever he had brought to market, and was on his return to Liddesdale. There were then no country banks where cash could be deposited, and bills received instead, which greatly encouraged robbery in that wild country, as the objects of plunder were usually fraught with gold. The robbers had spies in the fair, by means of whom they generally knew whose purse was best stocked, and who took a lonely and desolate road homeward—those, in short, who were best worth robbing, and likely to be most easily robbed.
All this Charlie knew full well; but he had a pair of excellent pistols, and a dauntless heart. He stopped at Mumps’s Hall, notwithstanding the evil character of the place. His horse was accommodated where it might have the necessary rest and feed of corn; and the landlady used all the influence in her power to induce him to stop all night. The landlord was from home, she said, and it was ill passing the Waste, as twilight must needs descend on him before he gained the Scottish side, which was reckoned the safest. But fighting Charlie, though he suffered himself to be detained later than was prudent, did not account Mumps’s Hall a safe place to quarter in during the night. He tore himself away, therefore, from Meg’s good fare and kind words, and mounted his nag, having first examined his pistols, and tried by the ramrod whether the charge remained in them.
He proceeded a mile or two, at a round trot, when, as the Waste stretched black before him, apprehensions began to awaken in his mind, partly arising out of Meg’s unusual kindness, which he could not help thinking had rather a suspicious appearance. He therefore resolved to reload his pistols, lest the powder had become damp; but what was his surprise, when he drew the charge, to find neither powder nor ball, while each barrel had been carefully filled with tow, up to the space which the loading had occupied! and, the priming of the weapons being left untouched, nothing but actually drawing and examining the charge could have discovered the inefficiency of his arms till the fatal minute arrived when their services were required. Charlie reloaded his pistols with care and accuracy, having now no doubt that he was to be waylaid and assaulted. He was not far engaged in the Waste, which was then, and is now, traversed only by such routes as are described in the text, when two or three fellows, disguised and variously armed, started from a moss-hag, while, by a glance behind him (for, marching, as the Spaniard says, with his beard on his shoulder, he reconnoitred in every direction), Charlie instantly saw retreat was impossible, as other two stout men appeared behind him at some distance. The Borderer lost not a moment in taking his resolution, and boldly trotted against his enemies in front, who called loudly on him to stand and deliver. Charlie spurred on, and presented his pistol. “A fig for your pistol!” said the foremost robber, whom Charlie to his dying day protested he believed to have been the landlord of Mumps’s Hall—“A fig for your pistol! I care not a curse for it.”—“Ay, lad,” said the deep voice of Fighting Charlie, “but the tow’s out now”. He had no occasion to utter another word; the rogues, surprised at finding a man of redoubted courage well armed, instead of being defenceless, took to the moss in every direction, and he passed on his way without further molestation.
* * * * *
The magistrates, after vain attempts to make themselves heard and obeyed, possessing no means of enforcing their authority, were constrained to abandon the field to the rioters, and retreat in all speed from the showers of missiles that whistled around their ears.
The passive resistance of the Tolbooth-gate promised to do more to baffle the purpose of the mob than the active interference of the magistrates. The heavy sledge-hammers continued to din against it without intermission, and with a noise which, echoed from the lofty buildings around the spot, seemed enough to have alarmed the garrison in the Castle. It was circulated among the rioters that the troops would march down to disperse them, unless they could execute their purpose without loss of time; or that even without quitting the fortress, the garrison might obtain the same end by throwing a bomb or two upon the street.
Urged by such motives for apprehension, they eagerly relieved each other at the labour of assailing the Tolbooth door; yet such was its strength, that it still defied their efforts. At length, a voice was heard to pronounce the words, “Try it with fire!” The rioters, with an unanimous shout, called for combustibles, and as all their wishes seemed to be instantly supplied, they were soon in possession of two or three empty tar-barrels. A huge red glaring bonfire speedily arose close to the door of the prison, sending up a tall column of smoke and flame against its antique turrets and strongly-grated windows, and illuminating the ferocious and wild gestures of the rioters who surrounded the place, as well as the pale and anxious groups of those who, from windows in the vicinage, watched the progress of this alarming scene. The mob fed the fire with whatever they could find fit for the purpose. The flames roared and crackled among the heaps of nourishment piled on the fire, and a terrible shout soon announced that the door had kindled, and was in the act of being destroyed. The fire was suffered to decay, but, long ere it was quite extinguished, the most forward of the rioters rushed, in their impatience, one after another, over its yet smouldering remains. Thick showers of sparkles rose high in the air, as man after man bounded over the glowing embers, and disturbed them in their passage. It was now obvious to Butler, and all others who were present, that the rioters would be instantly in possession of their victim, and have it in their power to work their pleasure upon him, whatever that might be.
The unhappy object of this remarkable disturbance had been that day delivered from the apprehension of a public execution, and his joy was the greater, as he had some reason to question whether government would have run the risk of unpopularity by interfering in his favour, after he had been legally convicted by the verdict of a jury, of a crime so very obnoxious. Relieved from this doubtful state of mind, his heart was merry within him, and he thought, in the emphatic
It was, therefore, in the hour of unalloyed mirth, when this unfortunate wretch was “full of bread,” hot with wine, and high in mis-timed and ill-grounded confidence, and, alas! with all his sins full blown, when the first distant shouts of the rioters mingled with the song of merriment and intemperance. The hurried call of the jailor to the guests, requiring them instantly to depart, and his yet more hasty intimation that a dreadful and determined mob had possessed themselves of the city gates and guard-house, were the first explanation of these fearful clamours.
Porteous might, however, have eluded the fury from which the force of authority could not protect him, had he thought of slipping on some disguise, and leading the prison along with his guests. It is probable that the jailor might have connived at his escape, or even that, in the hurry of this alarming contingency, he might not have observed it. But Porteous and his friends alike wanted presence of mind to suggest or execute such a plan of escape. The former hastily fled from a place where their own safety seemed compromised, and the latter, in a state resembling stupefaction, awaited in his apartment the termination of the enterprise of the rioters. The cessation of the clang of the instruments with which they had at first attempted to force the door, gave him momentary relief. The flattering hopes that the military had marched into the city, either from the Castle or from the suburbs, and that the rioters were intimidated and dispersing, were soon destroyed by the broad and glaring-light of the flames, which, illuminating through the grated window every corner of his apartment, plainly showed that the mob, determined on their fatal purpose, had adopted a means of forcing entrance equally desperate and certain.
The sudden glare of light suggested to the stupefied and astonished object of popular hatred the possibility of concealment or escape. To rush to the chimney, to ascend it at the risk of suffocation, were the only means which seem to have occurred to him; but his progress was speedily stopped by one of those iron gratings, which are, for the sake of security, usually placed across the vents of buildings designed for imprisonment. The bars, however, which impeded his farther progress, served to support him in the situation which he had gained, and he seized them with the tenacious grasp of one who esteemed himself clinging to his last hope of existence. The lurid light, which had filled the apartment, lowered and died away; the sound of shouts was heard within the walls, and on the narrow and winding stair, which, cased within one of the turrets, gave access to the upper apartments of the prison. The huzza of the rioters was answered by a shout wild and desperate as their own, the cry, namely, of the imprisoned felons, who, expecting to be liberated in the general confusion, welcomed the mob as their deliverers. By some of these the apartment of Porteous was pointed out to his enemies. The obstacle of the lock and bolts was soon overcome, and from his hiding-place the unfortunate man heard his enemies search every corner of the apartment, with oaths and maledictions, which would but shock the reader if we recorded them, but which served to prove, could it have admitted of doubt, the settled purpose of soul with which they sought his destruction.
A place of concealment so obvious to suspicion and scrutiny as that which Porteous had chosen, could not long screen him from detection. He was dragged from his lurking place, with a violence which seemed to argue an intention to put him to death on the spot. More than one weapon was directed towards him, when one of the rioters, the same whose female disguise had been particularly noticed by Butler, interfered in an authoritative tone. “Are ye mad?” he said, “or would ye execute an act of justice as if it were a crime and a cruelty? This sacrifice will lose half its savour if we do not offer it at the very horns of the altar. We will have him die where a murderer should die, on the common gibbet—we will have him die where he spilled the blood of so many innocents!”
A loud shout of applause followed the proposal, and the cry, “To the gallows with the murderer!—to the Grassmarket with him!” echoed on all hands.
“Let no man hurt him,” continued the speaker; “let him make his peace with God, if he can; we will not kill both his soul and body.”
“What time did he give better folk for preparing their account?” answered several voices. “Let us mete to him with the same measure he measured to them.”
But the opinion of the spokesman better suited the temper of those he addressed, a temper rather stubborn than impetuous, sedate though ferocious, and desirous of colouring their cruel and revengeful action with a show of justice and moderation.
[Notes: The Porteous Mob occurred in 1736. At the execution of a smuggler named Wilson, a slight commotion amongst the crowd was made by Captain Porteous the occasion for ordering his men who were on guard to fire upon the people. He was tried and sentenced to death, but reprieved by Queen Caroline, then regent in the absence of George II. The reprieve was held so unjust by the people that they stormed the Tolbooth, and hanged Porteous, who was a prisoner there.]
* * * * *
THE PORTEOUS MOB—continued.
The tumult was now transferred from the inside to the outside of the Tolbooth. The mob had brought their destined victim forth, and were about to conduct him to the common place of execution, which they had fixed as the scene of his death. The leader, whom they had distinguished by the name of Madge Wildfire, had been summoned to assist at the procession by the impatient shouts of his confederates.
“I will ensure you five hundred pounds,” said the unhappy man, grasping Wildfire’s hand,—“five hundred pounds for to save my life.”
The other answered in the same undertone, and returning his grasp with one equally convulsive. “Five hundred-height of coined gold should not save you—Remember Wilson!”
A deep pause of a minute ensued, when Wildfire added, in a more composed tone, “Make your peace with Heaven. Where is the clergyman?”
Butler, who, in great terror and anxiety, had been detained within a few yards of the Tolbooth door, to wait the event of the search after Porteous, was now brought forward, and commanded to walk by the prisoner’s side, and to prepare him for immediate death.
They had suffered the unfortunate Porteous to put on his night-gown and slippers, as he had thrown off his coat and shoes, in order to facilitate his attempted escape up the chimney. In this garb he was now mounted on the hands of two of the rioters, clasped together, so as to form what is called in Scotland, “The King’s Cushion.” Butler was placed close to his side, and repeatedly urged to perform a duty always the most painful which can be imposed on a clergyman deserving of the name, and now rendered more so by the peculiar and horrid circumstances of the criminal’s case. Porteous at first uttered some supplications for mercy, but when he found that there was no chance that these would be attended to, his military education, and the natural stubbornness of his disposition, combined to support his spirits.
The procession now moved forward with a slow and determined pace. It was enlightened by many blazing links and torches; for the actors of this work were so far from affecting any secrecy on the occasion, that they seemed even to court observation. Their principal leaders kept close to the person of the prisoner, whose pallid yet stubborn features were seen distinctly by the torch-light, as his person was raised considerably
The rioters, on their part, continued to act with the same air of deliberate confidence and security which had marked all their proceedings. When the object of their resentment dropped one of his slippers, they stopped, sought for it, and replaced it upon his foot with great deliberation. As they descended the Bow towards the fatal spot where they designed to complete their purpose, it was suggested that there should be a rope kept in readiness. For this purpose the booth of a man who dealt in cordage was forced open, a coil of rope fit for their purpose was selected to serve as a halter, and the dealer next morning found that a guinea had been left on his counter in exchange; so anxious were the perpetrators of this daring action to show that they meditated not the slightest wrong or infraction of law, excepting so far so as Porteous was himself concerned.
Leading, or carrying along with them, in this determined and regular manner, the object of their vengeance, they at length reached the place of common execution, the scene of his crime, and destined spot of his sufferings. Several of the rioters (if they should not rather be described as conspirators) endeavoured to remove the stone which filled up the socket in which the end of the fatal tree was sunk when it was erected for its fatal purpose; others sought for the means of constructing a temporary gibbet, the place in which the gallows itself was deposited being reported too secure to be forced, without much loss of time. Butler endeavoured to avail himself of the delay afforded by these circumstances, to turn the people from their desperate design. “For God’s sake,” he exclaimed, “remember it is the image of your Creator which you are about to deface in the person of this unfortunate man! Wretched as he is, and wicked as he may be, he has a share in every promise of Scripture, and you cannot destroy him in impenitence without blotting his name from the Book of Life—Do not destroy soul and body; give time for preparation.”
“What time had they,” returned a stern voice, “whom he murdered on this very spot?—The laws both of God and man call for his death.”
“But what, my friends,” insisted Butler, with a generous disregard to his own safety—“what hath constituted you his judges?”
“We are not his judges,” replied the same person; “he has been already judged and condemned by lawful authority. We are those whom Heaven, and our righteous anger, have stirred up to execute judgment, when a corrupt government would have protected a murderer.”
“I am none,” said the unfortunate Porteous: “that which you charge upon me fell out in self-defence, in the lawful exercise of my duty.”
“Away with him—away with him!” was the general cry. “Why do you trifle away time in making a gallows?—that dyester’s pole is good enough for the homicide.”
The unhappy man was forced to his fate with remorseless rapidity. Butler, separated from him by the press, escaped the last horrors of his struggles. Unnoticed by those who had hitherto detained him as a prisoner, he fled from the fatal spot, without much caring in what direction his course lay. A loud shout proclaimed the stern delight with which the agents of this deed regarded its completion. Butler, then, at the opening into the low street called the Cowgate, cast back a terrified glance, and, by the red and dusky light of the torches, he could discern a figure wavering and struggling as it hung suspended above the heads of the multitude, and could even observe men striking at it with their Lochaberaxes and partisans. The sight was of a nature to double his horror, and to add wings to his flight.
* * * * *
forth the horse!’—the horse was brought;
In truth, he was a noble steed,
A Tartar of the Ukraine breed,
Who look’d as though the speed of thought
Were in his limbs; but he was wild,
Wild as the wild deer, and untaught,
With spur and bridle undefiled—
’T was but a day he had been caught;
And snorting, with erected mane,
And struggling fiercely, but in vain,
In the full foam of wrath and dread
To me the desert-born was led:
They bound me on, that menial throng;
Upon his back with many a thong;
Then loosed him with a sudden lash—
Away!—away!—and on we dash!
Torrents less rapid and less rash.
* * * * *
away, my steed and I,
Upon the pinions of the wind,
All human dwellings left behind;
We sped like meteors through the sky,
When with its crackling sound the night
Is chequer’d with the northern light:
Town—village—none were on our track.
But a wild plain of far extent,
And bounded by a forest black;
And, save the scarce seen battlement
On distant heights of some stronghold,
Against the Tartars built of old,
No trace of man. The year before
A Turkish army had march’d o’er;
And where the Spahi’s hoof hath trod,
The verdure flies the bloody sod:
The sky was dull, and dim, and gray,
And a low breeze crept moaning by—
I could have answered with a sigh—
near’d the wild wood—’t was
I saw no bounds on either side;
’T was studded with old sturdy trees,
That bent not to the roughest breeze
Which howls down from Siberia’s waste,
And strips the forest in its haste,—
But these were few and far between,
Set thick with shrubs more young and green.
Luxuriant with their annual leaves,
Ere strown by those autumnal eves
That nip the forest’s foliage dead,
Discolour’d with a lifeless red,
Which stands thereon like stiffen’d gore
Upon the slain when battle’s o’er,
And some long winter’s night hath shed
Its frost o’er every tombless head,
So cold and stark the raven’s beak
May peck unpierced each frozen cheek:
’T was a wild waste of underwood,
And here and there a chestnut stood,
The strong oak, and the hardy pine;
But far apart—and well it were,
Or else a different lot were mine—
The boughs gave way, and did not tear
My limbs; and I found strength to bear
My wounds, already scarr’d with cold;
My bonds forbade to loose my hold.
We rustled through the leaves like wind,
Left shrubs, and trees, and wolves behind;
By night I heard them on the track,
Their troop came hard upon our back,
With their long gallop, which can tire
The hound’s deep hate, and hunter’s fire:
Where’er we flew they follow’d on,
Nor left us with the morning sun.
Behind I saw them, scarce a rood,
At day-break winding through the wood,
And through the night had heard their feet
Their stealing, rustling step repeat.
* * * * *
wood was past; ’twas more than noon,
But chill the air, although in June;
Or it might be my veins ran cold—
Prolong’d endurance tames the bold;
And I was then not what I seem,
But headlong as a wintry stream,
And wore my feelings out before
I well could count their causes o’er:
And what with fury, fear, and wrath,
The tortures which beset my path,
Cold, hunger, sorrow, shame, distress.
Thus bound in nature’s nakedness;
Sprung from a race whose rising blood,
When stirr’d beyond its calmer mood,
And trodden hard upon, is like
The rattle-snake’s, in act to strike,
What marvel if this worn-out trunk
Beneath its woes a moment sunk?
The earth gave way, the skies roll’d round.
I seem’d to sink upon the ground;
But err’d, for I was fastly bound.
My heart turn’d sick, my brain grew sore.
And throbb’d awhile, then beat no more:
The skies spun like a mighty wheel;
I saw the trees like drunkards reel
And a slight flash sprang o’er my eyes,
Which saw no farther: he who dies
Can die no more than then I died.
O’ertortured by that ghastly ride,
I felt the blackness come and go.
“My thoughts came back;
where was I?
And numb, and giddy: pulse by pulse
Life reassumed its lingering hold,
And throb by throb,—till grown a pang
Which for a moment would convulse,
My blood reflow’d, though thick and chill;
My ear with uncouth noises rang,
My heart began once more to thrill;
My sight return’d, though dim; alas!
And thicken’d, as it were, with glass.
Methought the dash of waves was nigh;
There was a gleam too of the sky,
Studded with stars;—it is no dream;
The wild horse swims the wilder stream!
The bright broad river’s gushing tide
Sleeps, winding onward, far and wide,
And we are half-way, struggling o’er
To yon unknown and silent shore.
The waters broke my hollow trance,
And with a temporary strength
My stiffen’d limbs were rebaptized.
My courser’s broad breast proudly braves,
And dashes off the ascending waves.
We reach the slippery shore at length,
A haven I but little prized,
For all behind was dark and drear,
And all before was night and fear.
How many hours of night or day
In those suspended pangs I lay.
I could not tell; I scarcely knew
If this were human breath I drew.
glossy skin and dripping mane,
And reeling limbs, and reeking flank,
The wild steed’s sinewy nerves still strain
Up the repelling bank.
We gain the top: a boundless plain
Spreads through the shadow of the night,
we went—but slack and slow;
His savage force at length o’erspent,
The drooping courser, faint and low,
All feebly foaming went.
A sickly infant had had power
To guide him forward in that hour;
But useless all to me:
His new-born tameness nought avail’d—
My limbs were bound; my force had fail’d,
Perchance, had they been free.
With feeble effort still I tried
To rend the bonds so starkly tied,
But still it was in vain;
My limbs were only wrung the more,
And soon the idle strife gave o’er,
Which but prolonged their pain:
The dizzy race seem’d almost done,
Although no goal was nearly won:
Rome streaks announced the coming sun—
How slow, alas! he came!
Methought that mist of dawning gray
Would never dapple into day;
How heavily it roll’d away—
Before the eastern flame
Rose crimson, and deposed the stars,
And call’d the radiance from their cars,
And fill’d the earth, from his deep throne.
“Up rose the sun; the mists were curl’d
Back from the solitary world
Which lay around, behind, before.
What booted it to traverse o’er
Plain, forest, river? Man nor brute,
Nor dint of hoof, nor print of foot,
Lay in the wild luxuriant soil;
No sign of travel, none of toil;
The very air was mute;
And not an insect’s shrill small horn.
Nor matin bird’s new voice was borne
From herb nor thicket. Many a werst,
Panting as if his heart would burst.
The weary brute still stagger’d on:
And still we were—or seem’d—alone.
At length, while reeling on our way.
Methought I heard a courser neigh,
From out yon tuft of blackening firs.
Is it the wind those branches stirs?
No, no! from out the forest prance
A trampling troop; I see them come!
In one vast
[Notes: Mazeppa (1645-1709) was at first in the service of the King of Poland, but on account of a charge brought against him suffered the penalty described in the poem. He afterwards joined the Cossacks and became their leader; was in favour for a time with Peter the Great; but finally joined Charles XII., and died soon after the battle of Pultowa (1709), in which Charles was defeated by Peter.
Ukraine ("a frontier"), a district lying on the borders of Poland and Russia.
Werst. A Russian measure of distance.]
* * * * *
We make our first introduction to Wedgwood about the year 1741, as the youngest of a family of thirteen children, and as put to earn his bread, at eleven years of age, in the trade of his father, and in the branch of a thrower. Then comes the well-known small-pox: the settling of the dregs of the disease in the lower part of the leg: and the amputation of the limb, rendering him lame for life. It is not often that we have such palpable occasion to record our obligations to the small-pox. But, in the wonderful ways of Providence, that disease, which came to him as a two-fold scourge, was probably the occasion of his subsequent excellence. It prevented him from growing up to the active vigorous English workman, possessed of all his limbs, and knowing right well the use of them; it put him upon considering whether, as he could not be that, he might not be something else, and something greater. It sent his mind inwards; it drove him to meditate upon the laws and secrets of his art. The result was, that he arrived at a perception and a grasp of them which might, perhaps, have been envied, certainly have been owned, by an Athenian potter. Relentless criticism has long since torn to pieces the old legend of King Numa, receiving in a cavern, from the Nymph Egeria, the laws that were to govern Rome. But no criticism can shake the record of that illness and mutilation of the boy Josiah Wedgwood, which made for him a cavern of his bedroom, and an oracle of his own inquiring, searching, meditative, and fruitful mind.
From those early days of suffering, weary perhaps to him as they went by, but bright surely in the retrospect both to him and us, a mark seems at once to have been set upon his career. But those, who would dwell upon his history, have still to deplore that many of the materials are wanting. It is not creditable to his country or his art, that the Life of Wedgwood should still remain unwritten. Here is a man, who, in the well-chosen words of his epitaph, “converted a rude and inconsiderable manufacture into an elegant art, and an important branch of national commerce.” Here is a man, who, beginning as it were from zero, and unaided by the national or royal gifts which were found necessary to uphold the glories of Sevres, of Chelsea, and of Dresden, produced works truer, perhaps, to the inexorable laws of art, than the fine fabrics that proceeded from those establishments, and scarcely less attractive to the public taste. Here is a man, who found his business cooped up within a narrow valley by the want of even tolerable communications, and who, while he devoted his mind to the lifting that business from meanness, ugliness, and weakness, to the highest excellence of material and form, had surplus energy enough to take a leading part in great engineering works like the Grand Trunk Canal from the Mersey to the Trent; which made the raw material of his industry abundant and cheap, which supplied a vent for the manufactured article, and opened for it materially
Speech by MR. GLADSTONE.
* * * * *
There is one point upon which I could have wished that the noble Lord had also touched—I know there were so many subjects that he could not avoid touching that I share the admiration of the House at the completeness with which he seemed to have mastered all his themes; but when the noble Lord recalled to our recollection the deeds of admirable valour and of heroic conduct which have been achieved upon the heights of Alma, of Balaklava, and of Inkermann, I could have wished that he had also publicly recognized that the deeds of heroism in this campaign had not been merely confined to the field of battle. We ought to remember the precious lives given to the pestilence of Varna and to the inhospitable shores of the Black Sea; these men, in my opinion, were animated by as heroic a spirit as those who have yielded up their lives amid the flash of artillery and the triumphant sound of trumpets. No, Sir, language cannot do justice to the endurance of our troops under the extreme and terrible privations which circumstances have obliged them to endure. The high spirit of an English gentleman might have sustained him under circumstances which he could not have anticipated to encounter; but the same proud patience has been found among the rank and file. And it is these moral qualities that have contributed as much as others apparently more brilliant to those great victories which we are now acknowledging.
Sir, the noble Lord has taken a wise and gracious course in combining with the thanks which he is about to propose to the British army and navy the thanks also of the House of Commons to the army of our allies. Sir, that alliance which has now for some time prevailed between the two great countries of France and Britain has in peace been productive of advantage, but it is the test to which it has been put by recent circumstances that, in my opinion, will tend more than any other cause to confirm and consolidate that intimate union. That alliance, Sir, is one that does not depend upon dynasties or diplomacy. It is one which has been sanctioned by names to which we all look up with respect or with feelings even of a higher character. The alliance between France and England was inaugurated by the imperial mind of Elizabeth, and sanctioned by the profound sagacity of Cromwell; it exists now not more from feelings of mutual interest than from feelings of mutual respect, and I believe it will be maintained by a noble spirit of emulation.
Sir, there is still another point upon which, although with hesitation, I will advert for a moment. I am distrustful of my own ability to deal becomingly with a theme on which the noble Lord so well touched; but nevertheless I feel that I must refer to it. I was glad to hear from the noble Lord that he intends to propose a vote of condolence with the relatives of those who have fallen in this contest. Sir, we have already felt, even in this chamber of public assemblage, how bitter have been the consequences of this war. We cannot throw our eyes over the accustomed benches, where we miss many a gallant and genial face, without feeling our hearts ache, our spirits sadden, and even our eyes moisten. But if that be our feeling here when we miss the long companions of our public lives and labours, what must be the anguish and desolation which now darken so many hearths! Never, Sir, has the youthful blood of this country been so profusely lavished as it has been in this contest,—never has a greater sacrifice been made, and for ends which more fully sanctify the sacrifice. But we can hardly hope now, in the greenness of the wound, that even these reflections can serve as a source of solace. Young women who have become widows almost as soon as they had become wives—mothers who have lost not only their sons, but the brethren of those sons—heads of families who have seen abruptly close all their hopes of an hereditary line—these are pangs which even the consciousness of duty performed, which even the lustre of glory won, cannot easily or speedily alleviate and assuage. But let us indulge at least in the hope, in the conviction, that the time will come when the proceedings of this evening may be to such persons a source of consolation—when sorrow for the memory of those that are departed may be mitigated by the recollection that their death is at least associated with imperishable deeds, with a noble cause, and with a nation’s gratitude.
Speech by MR. DISRAELI.
* * * * *
I believe there is no permanent greatness to a nation except it be based upon morality. I do not care for military greatness or military renown. I care for the condition of the people among whom I live. There is no man in England who is less likely to speak irreverently of the Crown and Monarchy of England than I am; but crowns, coronets, mitres, military display, the pomp of war, wide colonies, and a huge empire, are, in my view, all trifles light as air, and not worth considering, unless with them you can have a fair share of comfort, contentment, and happiness among the great body of the people. Palaces, baronial castles, great halls, stately mansions, do not make a nation. The nation in every country dwells in the cottage; and unless the light of your Constitution can shine there, unless the beauty of your legislation and the excellence of your statesmanship are impressed there on the feelings and condition of the people, rely upon it you have yet to learn the duties of government.
I have not, as you have observed, pleaded that this country should remain without adequate and scientific means of defence. I acknowledge it to be the duty of your statesmen, acting upon the known opinions and principles of ninety-nine out of every hundred persons in the country, at all times, with all possible moderation, but with all possible efficiency, to take steps which shall preserve order within and on the confines of your kingdom. But I shall repudiate and denounce the expenditure of every shilling, the engagement of every man, the employment of every ship which has no object but intermeddling in the affairs of other countries, and endeavouring to extend the boundaries of an Empire which is already large enough to satisfy the greatest ambition, and I fear is much too large for the highest statesmanship to which any man has yet attained.
The most ancient of profane historians has told us that the Scythians of his time were a very warlike people, and that they elevated an old cimeter upon a platform as a symbol of Mars, for to Mars alone, I believe, they built altars and offered sacrifices. To this cimeter they offered sacrifices of horses and cattle, the main wealth of the country, and more costly sacrifices than to all the rest of their gods. I often ask myself whether we are at all advanced in one respect beyond those Scythians. What are our contributions to charity, to education, to morality, to religion, to justice, and to civil government, when compared with the wealth we expend in sacrifices to the old cimeter? Two nights ago I addressed in this hall a vast assembly composed to a great extent of your countrymen who have no political power, who are at work from the dawn of the day to the evening, and who have therefore limited means of informing themselves on these great subjects. Now I am privileged to speak to a somewhat different audience. You represent those of your great community who have a more complete education, who have on some points greater intelligence, and in whose hands reside the power and influence of the district. I am speaking, too, within the hearing of those whose gentle nature, whose finer instincts, whose purer minds, have not suffered as some of us have suffered in the turmoil and strife of life. You can mould opinion, you can create political power,—you cannot think a good thought on this subject and communicate it to your neighbours,—you cannot make these points topics of discussion in your social circles and more general meetings, without affecting sensibly and speedily the course which the Government of your country will pursue. May I ask you, then, to believe, as I do most devoutly believe, that the moral law was not written for men alone in their individual character, but that it was written as well for nations, and for nations great as this of which we are citizens. If nations reject and deride that moral law, there is a penalty which will inevitably follow. It may not come at once, it may not come in our lifetime; but, rely upon it, the great Italian is not a poet only, but a prophet, when he says—
“The sword of heaven
is not in haste to smite,
Nor yet doth linger.”
We have experience, we have beacons, we have landmarks enough. We know what the past has cost us, we know how much and how far we have wandered, but we are not left without a guide. It is true, we have not, as an ancient people had, Urim and Thummim—those oraculous gems on Aaron’s breast—from which to take counsel, but we have the unchangeable and eternal principles of the moral law to guide us, and only so far as we walk by that guidance can we be permanently a great nation, or our people a happy people.
Speech by MR. BRIGHT.
* * * * *
HYMN TO DIANA.
huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair.
State in wonted manner keep.
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright!
not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia’s shining orb was made
Heaven to clear, when day did close.
Bless us then with wished sight,
Goddess excellently bright!
Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal-shining quiver:
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe how short soever;
Thou that mak’st a day of night,
Goddess excellently bright!
[Notes: Ben Jonson (1574-1637), poet and dramatist; the contemporary and friend of Shakespeare, with more than his learning, but far less than his genius and imagination.]
* * * * *
Of Cerberus and blackest midnight born,
In Stygian cave forlorn,
’Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights
Find out some uncouth cell,
Where brooding darkness spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-raven sings;
There, under ebon shades, and low-brow’d rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
In heaven yclep’d Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing Mirth;
Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,
With two sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore:
* * * * *
thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Jest, and youthful jollity,
Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe’s cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport that wrinkled care derides,
And laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it, as you go,
On the light
[Notes: L’Allegro the Cheerful man: as Il Penseroso, the Thoughtful man, (the title of the companion poem).
Cerberus. The dog that guarded the infernal regions.
Cimmerian. The Cimmerians were a race dwelling beyond the ocean stream, in utter darkness.
Euphrosyne Mirth or gladness.
In unreproved pleasures = In innocent pleasures.
Then to come = Then (admit me) to come.
Corydon and Thyrsis. Names for a rustic couple taken from the mythology of the Latin poets. So Phillis and Thestylis.
Rebecks. Musical instruments like fiddles.
Junkets. Pieces of cheese or something of the kind.
By friar’s lantern = Jack o’ Lantern or Will o’ the Wisp.
In weeds of peace = the dress worn in time of peace.
Hymen. God of wedlock.
Jonson. (See previous note to Ben Jonson.)
Sock. The shoe worn on the ancient stage by comedians as the buskin was by tragedians.
Lydian airs. Soft and soothing, as opposed to the Dorian airs, which expressed the rough and harsh element in ancient music.]
* * * * *
I wish to show you how possible it is to enjoy much happiness in very mean employments. Cowper tells us that labour, though the primal curse, “has been softened into mercy;” and I think that, even had he not done so, I would have found out the fact for myself. It was twenty years last February since I set out a little before sunrise to make my first acquaintance with a life of labour and restraint, and I have rarely had a heavier heart than on that morning. I was but a thin, loose-jointed boy at the time—fond of the pretty intangibilities of romance, and of dreaming when broad awake; and, woful change! I was now going to work at what Burns has instanced in his “Twa Dogs” as one of the most disagreeable of all employments—to work in a quarry. Bating the passing uneasiness occasioned by a few gloomy anticipations, the portion of my life which had already gone by had been happy beyond the common lot. I had been a wanderer among rocks and wood—a reader of curious books when I could get them—a gleaner of old traditionary stories; and now I was going to exchange all my day-dreams, and all my amusements, for the kind of life in which men toil every day that they may be enabled to eat, and eat every day that they may be enabled to toil!
The quarry in which I wrought lay on the southern side of a noble inland bay, or frith rather, with a little clear stream on the one side, and a thick fir wood on the other. It had been opened in the old red sandstone of the district, and was overtopped by a huge bank of diluvial clay, which rose over it in some places to the height of nearly thirty feet, and which at this time was rent and shivered, wherever it presented an open front to the weather, by a recent frost. A heap of loose fragments, which had fallen from above blocked up the face of the quarry, and my first employment was to clear them away. The friction of the shovel soon blistered my hands, but the pain was by no means very severe, and I wrought hard and willingly, that I might see how the huge strata below, which presented so firm and unbroken a frontage, were to be torn up and removed. Picks, and wedges, and levers, were applied by my brother workmen; and
This was no very formidable beginning of the course of life I had so much dreaded. To be sure, my hands were a little sore, and I felt nearly as much fatigued as if I had been climbing among the rocks; but I had wrought and been useful, and had yet enjoyed the day fully as much as usual. It was no small matter, too, that the evening, converted by a rare transmutation into the delicious “blink of rest,” which Burns so truthfully describes, was all my own. I was as light of heart next morning as any of my fellow-workmen. There had been a smart frost during the night, and the rime lay white on the grass as we passed onwards through the fields; but the sun rose in a clear atmosphere, and the day mellowed, as it advanced, into one of those delightful days of early spring which give so pleasing an earnest of whatever is mild and genial in the better half of the year! All the workmen rested at mid-day, and I went to enjoy my half-hour alone on a mossy knoll in the neighbouring wood, which commands through the trees a wide prospect of the bay and the opposite shore. There was not a wrinkle on the water, nor a cloud in the sky, and the branches were as moveless in the calm as if they had been traced on canvas. From a wooded promontory that stretched half-way across the frith, there ascended a thin column of smoke. It rose straight as the line of a plummet for more than a thousand yards, and then, on reaching a thinner stratum of
The gunpowder had loosened a large mass in one of the inferior strata, and our first employment, on resuming our labours, was to raise it from its bed. I assisted the other workmen in placing it on edge, and was much struck by the appearance of the platform on which it had rested. The entire surface was ridged and furrowed like a bank of sand that had been left by the tide an hour before. I could trace every bend and curvature, every cross-hollow and counter-ridge of the corresponding phenomena; for the resemblance was no half-resemblance—it was the thing itself; and I had observed it a hundred and a hundred times when sailing my little schooner in the shallows left by the ebb. But what had become of the waves that had thus fretted the solid rock, or of what element had they been composed? I felt as completely at fault as Robinson Crusoe did on his discovering the print of the man’s foot on the sand. The evening furnished me with still further cause of wonder. We raised another block in a different part of the quarry, and found that the area of a circular depression in the stratum below was broken and flawed in every direction, as if it had been the bottom of a pool, recently dried up, which had shrunk and split in the hardening. Several large stones came rolling down from the diluvium in the course of the afternoon. They were of different qualities from the sandstone below, and from one another; and, what was more wonderful still, they were all rounded and water-worn, as if they had been tossed about in the sea, or the bed of a river, for hundreds of years. There could not, surely, be a more conclusive proof that the bank which had enclosed them so long could not have been created on the rock on which it rested. No workman ever manufactures a half-worn article, and the stones were all half-worn! And if not the bank, why then the sandstone underneath? I was lost in conjecture, and found I had food enough for thought that evening, without once thinking of the unhappiness of a life of labour.
* * * * *
A good ornithologist should be able to distinguish birds by their air, as well as by their colours and shape, on the ground as well as on the wing, and in the bush as well as in the hand. For, though it must not be said that every species of birds has a manner peculiar to itself, yet there is somewhat in most kinds at least that at first sight discriminates them, and enables a judicious observer to pronounce upon them with some certainty.
Thus, kites and buzzards sail round in circles, with wings expanded and motionless; and it is from their gliding manner that the former are still called, in the north of England, gleads, from the Saxon verb glidan, to glide. The kestrel, or windhover, has a peculiar mode of hanging in the air in one place, his wings all the while being briskly agitated. Hen-harriers fly low over heaths or fields of corn, and beat the ground regularly like a pointer or setting-dog. Owls move in a buoyant manner, as if lighter than the air; they seem to want ballast. There is a peculiarity belonging to ravens that must draw the attention even of the most incurious—they spend all their leisure time in striking and cuffing each other on the wing in a kind of playful skirmish; and when they move from one place to another, frequently turn on their backs with a loud croak, and seem to be falling on the ground. When this odd gesture betides them, they are scratching themselves with one foot, and thus lose the centre of gravity. Rooks sometimes dive and tumble in a frolicsome manner; crows and daws swagger in their walk; woodpeckers fly with an undulating motion, opening and closing their wings at every stroke, and so are always rising and falling in curves. All of this kind use their tails, which incline downwards, as a support while they run up trees. Parrots, like all other hooked-clawed birds, walk awkwardly, and make use of their bill as a third foot, climbing and descending with ridiculous caution. Cocks, hens, partridges, and pheasants, etc., parade and walk gracefully, and run nimbly; but fly with difficulty, with an impetuous whirring, and in a straight line. Magpies and jays flutter with powerless wings, and make no dispatch; herons seem encumbered with too much sail for their light bodies; but these vast hollow wings are necessary in carrying burdens, such as large fishes, and the like; pigeons, and particularly the sort called smiters, have a way of clashing their wings, the one against the other, over their backs, with a loud snap; another variety, called tumblers, turn themselves over in the air. The kingfisher darts along like an arrow; fern-owls, or goat-suckers, glance in the dusk over the tops of trees like a meteor; starlings, as it were, swim along, while missel-thrushes use a wild and desultory flight; swallows sweep over the surface of the ground and water, and distinguish themselves
REV. GILBERT WHITE.
* * * * *
Sweet was the sound, when
oft at evening’s close
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose.
There as I past with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came softened from below;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that lowed to meet their young,
The noisy geese that gabbled o’er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school,
The watch-dog’s voice that bayed the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
For all the bloomy flush of life is fled.
All but yon widowed, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashing spring:
She, wretched matron, forced in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till mom;
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
And still, where many a garden-flower grows wild;
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher’s modest mansion rose,
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e’er had changed, nor wished to change his place;
Unpractised he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More skilled to raise the
* * * * *
All the encumbrances being shipped on the morning of the 16th, it was intended to embark the fighting men in the coming night, and this difficult operation would probably have been happily effected; but a glorious event was destined to give a more graceful, though melancholy, termination to the campaign. About two o’clock a general movement of the French line gave notice of an approaching battle, and the British infantry, fourteen thousand five hundred strong, occupied their position. Baird’s division on the right, and governed by the oblique direction of the ridge, approached the enemy; Hope’s division, forming the centre and left, although on strong ground abutting on the Mero, was of necessity withheld, so that the French battery on the rocks raked the whole line of battle. One of Baird’s brigades was in column behind the right, and one of Hope’s behind the left; Paget’s reserve posted at the village of Airis, behind the centre, looked down the valley separating the right of the position front the hills occupied by the French cavalry. A battalion detached from the reserve kept these horsemen in check, and was itself connected with the main body by a chain of skirmishers extended across the valley. Fraser’s division held the heights immediately before the gates of Corunna, watching the coast road, but it was also ready to succour any point.
When Laborde’s division arrived, the French force was not less than twenty thousand men, and the Duke of Dalmatia made no idle evolutions of display. Distributing his lighter guns along the front of his position, he opened a fire from the heavy battery on his left, and instantly descended the mountain, with three columns covered by clouds of skirmishers. The British pickets were driven back in disorder, and the village of Elvina was carried by the first French column.
The ground about that village was intersected by stone walls and hollow roads; a severe scrambling fight ensued, the French were forced back with great loss, and the fiftieth regiment entering the village with the retiring mass, drove it, after a second struggle in the street, quite beyond the houses. Seeing this, the general ordered up a battalion of the guards to fill the void in the line made by the advance of those regiments; whereupon, the forty-second, mistaking his intention, retired, with exception of the grenadiers; and at that moment, the enemy being reinforced, renewed the fight beyond the village. Major Napier, commanding the fiftieth, was wounded and taken prisoner, and Elvina then became the scene of another contest; which being observed by the Commander-in-Chief, he addressed a few animating words to the forty-second, and caused it to return to the attack. Paget had now descended into the valley, and the line of the skirmishers being thus supported, vigorously checked the advance of the enemy’s troops in that quarter, while the fourth regiment galled their flank; at the same time the centre and left of the army also became engaged, Baird was severely wounded, and a furious action ensued along the line, in the valley, and on the hills.
General Sir John Moore, while earnestly watching the result of the fight about the village of Elvina, was struck on the left breast by a cannon-shot; the shock threw him from his horse with violence; yet he rose again in a sitting posture, his countenance unchanged, and his steadfast eye still fixed upon the regiments engaged in his front, no sigh betraying a sensation of pain. In a few moments, when he saw the troops were gaining ground, his countenance brightened, and he suffered himself to be taken to the rear. Then was seen the dreadful nature of his hurt. As the soldiers placed him in a blanket, his sword got entangled, and the hilt entered the wound; Captain Hardinge, a staff officer, attempted to take it off, but the dying man stopped him, saying: “It is as well as it is. I had rather it should go out of the field with me;” and in that manner, so becoming to a soldier, Moore was borne from the fight.
Notwithstanding this great disaster, the troops gained ground. The reserve overthrowing everything in the valley, forced La Houssaye’s dismounted dragoons to retire, and thus turning the enemy, approached the eminence upon which the great battery was posted. In the centre, the obstinate dispute for Elvina terminated in favour of the British; and when the night set in, their line was considerably advanced beyond the original position of the morning, while the French were falling back in confusion. If Fraser’s division had been brought into action along with the reserve, the enemy could hardly have escaped a signal overthrow; for the little ammunition Soult had been able to bring up was nearly exhausted, the river Mero was in full tide behind him, and the difficult communication by
From the spot where he fell, the general was carried to the town by his soldiers; his blood flowed fast, and the torture of the wound was great; yet the unshaken firmness of his mind made those about him, seeing the resolution of his countenance, express a hope of his recovery. He looked steadfastly at the injury for a moment, and said, “No, I feel that to be impossible.” Several times he caused his attendants to stop and turn round, that he might behold the field of battle; and when the firing indicated the advance of the British, he discovered his satisfaction and permitted the bearers to proceed. When brought to his lodgings, the surgeons examined his wound; there was no hope, the pain increased, he spoke with difficulty. At intervals, he asked if the French were beaten, and addressing his old friend, Colonel Anderson, said, “You know I always wished to die this way.” Again he asked if the enemy were defeated, and being told they were, said, “It is a great satisfaction to me to know we have beaten the French.” His countenance continued firm, his thoughts clear; once only when he spoke of his mother he became agitated; but he often inquired after the safety of his friends and the officers of his staff, and he did not even in this moment forget to recommend those whose merit had given them claims to promotion. When life was nearly extinct, with an unsubdued spirit, as if anticipating the baseness of his posthumous calumniators, he exclaimed, “I hope the people of England will be satisfied! I hope my country will do me justice!” In a few minutes afterwards he died; and his corpse, wrapped in a military cloak, was interred by the officers of his staff, in the citadel of Corunna. The guns of the enemy paid his funeral honours, and Soult, with a noble feeling of respect for his valour, raised a monument to his memory on the field of battle.
[Note:_Battle of Corunna_. The French army having proclaimed Joseph Buonaparte, King of Spain, the Spanish people rose as one man in protest, and sought and obtained the aid of England. The English armies were at first driven back by Napoleon; but the force under Sir John Moore saved its honour in the fight before Corunna, 16th January, 1809, which enabled it to embark in safety.]
* * * * *
The fourth division was composed of two brigades: one of Portuguese under General Harvey; the other, under Sir William Myers, consisting of the seventh and twenty-third regiments, was called the Fusilier Brigade; Harvey’s Portuguese were immediately pushed in between Lumley’s dragoons and the hill, where they were charged by some French cavalry, whom they beat off, and meantime Cole led his fusiliers up the contested height. At this time six guns were in the enemy’s possession, the whole of Werle’s reserves were coming forward to reinforce the front column of the French, the remnant of Houghton’s brigade could no longer maintain its ground, the field was heaped with carcasses, the lancers were riding furiously about the captured artillery on the upper parts of the hill, and behind all, Hamilton’s Portuguese and Alten’s Germans, now withdrawing from the bridge, seemed to be in full retreat. Soon, however, Cole’s fusiliers, flanked by a battalion of the Lusitanian legion under Colonel Hawkshawe, mounted the hill, drove off the lancers, recovered five of the captured guns and one colour, and appeared on the right of Houghton’s brigade, precisely as Abercrombie passed it on the left.
Such a gallant line, issuing from the midst of the smoke, and rapidly separating itself from the confused and broken multitude, startled the enemy’s masses, which were increasing and pressing onwards as to an assured victory; they wavered, hesitated, and then vomiting forth a storm of fire, hastily endeavoured to enlarge their front, while a fearful discharge of grape from all their artillery whistled through the British ranks. Myers was killed, Cole and the three colonels, Ellis, Blakeney, and Hawkshawe, fell wounded, and the fusilier battalions, struck by the iron tempest, reeled and staggered like sinking ships; but suddenly and sternly recovering, they closed on their terrible enemies, and then was seen with what a strength and majesty the British soldier fights. In vain did Soult with voice and gesture animate his Frenchmen; in vain did the hardiest veterans break from the crowded columns and sacrifice their lives to gain time for the mass to open out on such a fair field; in vain did the mass itself bear up, and, fiercely striving, fire indiscriminately upon friends and foes, while the horsemen, hovering on the flank, threatened to charge the advancing line. Nothing could stop that astonishing infantry. No sudden burst of undisciplined valour, no nervous enthusiasm weakened the stability of their order, their flashing eyes were bent on the dark columns in their front, their measured tread shook the ground, their dreadful volleys swept away the head of every formation, their deafening shouts overpowered the dissonant cries that broke from all parts of the tumultuous crowd, as slowly and with a horrid carnage it was pushed by the incessant vigour of the attack to the farthest edge of the hill. In vain did the French reserves mix with the struggling multitude to sustain the fight; their efforts only increased the irremediable confusion, and the mighty mass, breaking off like a loosened cliff, went headlong down the steep; the rain flowed after in streams discoloured with blood, and eighteen hundred unwounded men, the remnant of six thousand unconquerable British soldiers, stood triumphant on the fatal hill!
[Note: Battle of Albuera, in which the English and Spanish armies won a victory over the French under Marshal Soult, on 16th May, 1811.]
* * * * *
The whole brigade scarcely made one efficient regiment according to the number of continental armies; and yet it was more than we could spare. As they passed towards the front, the Russians opened on them from the guns in the redoubt on the right with volleys of musketry and rifles. They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war. We could scarcely believe the evidence of our senses! Surely that handful of men are not going to charge an army in position? Alas! it was but too true; their desperate valour knew no bounds, and far indeed was it removed from its so-called better part—discretion. They advanced in two lines, quickening their pace as they closed towards the enemy. A more fearful spectacle was never witnessed than by those who, without the power to aid, beheld their heroic countrymen rushing to the arms of death. At the distance of twelve hundred yards the whole line of the enemy belched forth, from thirty iron mouths, a flood of smoke and flame through which hissed the deadly balls. Their flight was marked by instant gaps in our ranks, by dead men and horses, by steeds flying wounded or riderless across the plain. The first line is broken, it is joined by the second; they never halt or check their speed for an instant; with diminished ranks, thinned by those thirty guns, which the Russians had laid with the most deadly accuracy, with a halo of flashing steel above their heads, and with a cheer which was many a noble fellow’s death-cry, they flew into the smoke of the batteries; but ere they were lost to view the plain was strewn with their bodies and with the carcasses of horses. They were exposed to an oblique fire from the batteries on the hills on both sides, as well as to a direct fire of musketry. Through the clouds of smoke we could see their sabres flashing as they rode up to the guns and dashed between them, cutting down the gunners as they stood. We saw them riding through the guns, as I have said: to our delight we saw them returning, after breaking through a column of Russian infantry, and scattering them like chaff, when the flank fire of the battery on the hill swept them down, scattered and broken as they were. Wounded men and dismounted troopers flying towards us told the sad tale: demigods could not have done what we had failed to do. At the very moment when they were about to retreat, an enormous mass of lancers was hurled on their flank. Colonel Shewell, of the 8th Hussars, saw the danger, and rode his few men straight at them, cutting his way through with fearful loss. The other regiments turned and engaged in a desperate encounter. With courage
The “Times” Correspondent.
* * * * *
SCENE.—Venice. A Court of Justice.
Enter the_ DUKE, the
BASSANIO, GATIANO, SALARINO, SALANIO, and
Duke. What, is Antonio here?
Ant. Ready, so please your grace.
Duke. I am sorry for thee; thou art come
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Uncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.
Ant. I have heard
Your grace hath ta’en great pains to qualify
His rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate
And that no lawful means can carry me
Out of his envy’s reach, I do oppose
My patience to his fury, and am arm’d
To suffer, with a quietness of spirit,
The very tyranny and rage of his.
Duke. Go one, and call the Jew into the court,
Salan. He is ready at the door: he comes, my lord.
Duke. Make room, and let him stand
before our face.
Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
That thou but lead’st this fashion of thy malice
To the last hour of act; and then ’tis thought
Thou’lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange
Than is thy strange apparent cruelty;
And where thou now exact’st the penalty,
(Which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh),
Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture,
But, touch’d with human gentleness and love,
Forgive a moiety of the principal;
Glancing an eye of pity on his losses,
That have of late so huddled on his back,
Enow to press a royal merchant down
And pluck commiseration of his state
From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint,
From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train’d
To offices of tender courtesy.
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
Shy. I have possess’d your grace
of what I purpose;
And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn
To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
If you deny it, let the danger light
Upon your charter and your city’s freedom.
You’ll ask me, why I rather choose to have
A weight of carrion flesh than to receive
Three thousand ducats; I’ll not answer that:
But, say, it is my humour; is it answer’d?
* * * * *
Bass. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man, To excuse the current of thy cruelty.
Shy. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
* * * * *
Ant. I pray you, think you question with
You may as well go stand upon the beach
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops and to make no noise,
When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven;
You may as well do any thing most hard,
As seek to soften that—than which what’s harder?—
His Jewish heart: therefore, I do beseech you,
Make no more offers, use no farther means,
But with all brief and plain conveniency
Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.
Bass. For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
Shy, If every ducat in six thousand ducats Were in six parts, and every part a ducat, I would not draw them; I would have my bond.
Duke. How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?
Shy. What judgment shall I dread,
doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchased slave,
Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules,
You use in abject and in slavish parts,
Because you bought them: shall I say to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
Why sweat they under burthens? let their beds
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates
Be season’d with such viands? You will answer
“The slaves are ours:” so do I answer you;
The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought; ’tis mine, and I will have it:
If you deny me, fie upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice:
I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?
Duke. Upon my power, I may dismiss
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
Come here to-day.
Salar. My lord, here stays without A messenger with letters from the doctor, New come from Padua.
Duke. Bring us the letters; call the messenger.
Enter NERISSA, dressed like a lawyer’s clerk.
Duke. Came you from Padua, from Bellario?
Ner. From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace.
[Presenting a letter.
Bass. Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
Shy. To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.
Gra. Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, Thou mak’st thy knife keen; but no metal can, No, not the hangman’s axe, bear half the keenness Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?
Shy. No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
* * * * *
Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend A young and learned doctor to our court:— Where is he?
Ner. He attendeth here hard by, To know your answer, whether you’ll admit him.
Duke. With all my heart. Some three or four of you, Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
* * * * *
Enter PORTIA, dressed like a doctor of laws.
Duke. Give me your hand. Came you from old Bellario?
Por. I did, my lord.
Duke. You are welcome: take your place. Are you acquainted with the difference That holds this present question in the court?
Por. I am informed thoroughly of the cause. Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?
Duke. Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
Por. Is your name Shylock?
Shy. Shylock is my name.
Por. Of a strange nature is the suit
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
You stand within his danger, do you not?
Ant. Ay, so he says.
Por. Do you confess the bond?
Ant. I do.
Por. Then must the Jew be merciful.
Shy. On what compulsion must I? tell me that.
Por. The quality of mercy is not strain’d;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this scepter’d sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself:
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ’gainst the merchant there.
Shy. My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond.
Por. Is he not able to discharge the money?
Bass. Yes, here I tender it for him
in the court;
Yea, twice the sum: if that will not suffice;
I will be bound to pay it ten times o’er,
On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart:
If this will not suffice, it must appear
That malice bears down truth. And I beseech you,
Wrest once the law to your authority:
To do a great right, do a little wrong,
And curb this cruel devil of his will.
Por. It must not be; there is no power
Can alter a decree established:
’Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error, by the same example,
Will rush into the state: it cannot be.
Shy. A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel! O wise young judge, how do I honour thee!
Por. I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
Shy. Here ’tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.
Por. Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offer’d thee.
Shy. An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven: Shall I lay perjury upon my soul? No, not for Venice.
Por. Why, this bond is forfeit;
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant’s heart. Be merciful:
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.
Shy. When it is paid according to the tenour.
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law, your exposition
Hath been most sound: I charge you by the law,
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me: I stay here on my bond.
Ant. Most heartily I do beseech the court To give the judgment.
Por. Why then, thus it is: You must prepare your bosom for his knife.
Shy. O noble judge! O excellent young man!
Por. For the intent and purpose of the law Hath full relation to the penalty, Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
Shy. ’Tis very true: O wise and upright judge! How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
Por. Therefore lay bare your bosom.
Shy. Ay, his breast: So says the bond; doth it not, noble judge? “Nearest his heart:” those are the very words.
Por. It is so. Are there balance here to weigh The flesh?
Shy. I have them ready.
Por. Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge, To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.
Shy. Is it so nominated in the bond?
Por. It is not so express’d: but what of that? ’Twere good you do so much for charity.
Shy. I cannot find it; ’tis not in the bond.
Por. Come, merchant, have you anything to say?
Ant. But little: I am arm’d
and well prepared.
Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well!
Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom: it is still her use
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of such a misery doth she cut me off.
Commend me to your honourable wife:
Tell her the process of Antonio’s end;
Say how I loved you, speak me fair in death.
* * * * *
Shy. We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.
Por. A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine: The court awards it, and the law doth give it.
Shy. Most rightful judge!
Por. And you must cut this flesh from off his breast: The law allows it, and the court awards it.
Shy. Most learned judge! A sentence; come, prepare.
Por. Tarry a little; there is something
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh:”
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
Gra. O upright judge! Mark, Jew: O learned judge!
Shy. Is that the law?
Por. Thyself shalt see the act: For, as thou urgest justice, be assured Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest.
Gra. O learned judge! Mark, Jew; a learned judge!
Shy. I take this offer, then; pay the bond thrice, And let the Christian go.
Bass. Here is the money.
Por. Soft! The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste: He shall have nothing but the penalty.
Gra. O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!
Por. Therefore prepare thee to cut
off the flesh.
Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
But just a pound of flesh: if thou cut’st more
Or less than a just pound, be it but so much
As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
Or the division of the twentieth part
Of one poor scruple; nay, if the scale do turn
But in the estimation of a hair,
Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.
Gra. A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew! Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip.
Por. Why doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture.
Shy. Give me my principal, and let me go.
Bass. I have it ready for thee; here it is.
Por. He hath refused it in the open court: He shall have merely justice and his bond.
Gra. A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel! I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
Shy. Shall I not have barely my principal?
Por. Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture, To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.
Shy. Why, then the devil give him good of it! I’ll stay no longer question.
Por. Tarry, Jew:
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be proved against an alien,
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party ’gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half
Comes to the privy coffer of the state;
And the offender’s life lies in the mercy
Of the duke only, ’gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand’st;
For it appears, by manifest proceeding,
That indirectly and directly too
Thou hast contrived against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr’d
The danger formerly by me rehearsed.
Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the duke.
Gra. Beg that thou mayst have leave
to hang thyself:
And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord;
Therefore, thou must be hang’d at the state’s charge.
Duke. That thou shalt see the difference
of our spirit,
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it:
For half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s;
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.
Por. Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.
Shy. Nay, take my life and all; pardon
You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live.
Por. What mercy can you render him, Antonio?
Gra. A halter gratis; nothing else, for God’s sake.
Ant. So please my lord the duke, and
all the court
To quit the fine for one half of his goods;
I am content, so he will let me have
The other half in use, to render it,
Upon his death, unto the gentleman
That lately stole his daughter.
* * * * *
Por. Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say?
Shy. I am content.
[Notes: Merchant of Venice. Obdurate, with the second syllable long, which modern usage makes short.
Frellen—agitated. A form of participial termination frequently found in Shakespeare, as strucken, &c. It is preserved in eaten, given, &c.
Within his danger = in danger of him.
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine = which with humility on your part may be commuted for a fine.]
* * * * *
Hence vain deluding Joys,
The brood of Folly, without father bred!
How little you bestead,
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys!
Dwell in some idle brain,
And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sunbeams.
Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus’ train.
But hail, thou
Goddess, sage and holy!
Hail, divinest Melancholy!
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And therefore to our weaker view
O’erlaid with black, staid Wisdom’s hue:
Black, but such as in esteem
Prince Memnon’s sister might beseem
Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove
To set her beauty’s praise above
The Sea-Nymphs, and their powers offended;
Yet thou art higher far descended;
Thee bright-haired Vesta, long of yore
To solitary Saturn bore;
His daughter she; in Saturn’s reign
Such mixture was not held a stain:
Oft in glimmering bowers and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida’s inmost grove,
While yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come, pensive nun, devout and pure,
Sober, steadfast, and demure
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train
And sable stole of cyprus lawn,
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With even step and musing gait,
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes;
There, held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
With a sad leaden downward cast,
Thou fix them on the earth as fast;
And join with thee calm Peace and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet.
And hears the Muses in a ring
Aye round about Jove’s altar sing;
And add to these retired Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure;
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
’Less Philomel will deign a song
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of Night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o’er the accustomed oak;
—Sweet bird, that shunn’st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy;
Thee, chauntress, oft, the woods among
I woo, to hear thy even-song;
And missing thee, I walk unseen,
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering Moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the heaven’s wide pathless way;
And oft, as if her head she bowed,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off Curfew sound
Over some wide-watered shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar.
Or, if the air will not permit,
Some still, removed place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
Far from all resort of mirth,
[Notes: Il Penscioso = the thoughtful man.
Bestead = help, stand in good stead.
Fond = foolish; its old meaning.
Pensioners. A word taken from the name of Elizabeth’s body-guard. Compare “the cowslips tall her pensioners be” (’Midsummer Night’s Dream’).
Prince Memnon, of Ethiopia, fairest of warriors, slain by Achilles (Homer’s Odyssey, Book xi.). His sister was Hemora.
Starred Ethiop Queen = Cassiope, wife of King Cepheus, who was placed among the stars.
Sea-nymphs = Nereids.
Vesta_, the Goddess of the hearth; here for Retirement. Saturn, as having introduced, according to the mythology, civilization, here stands for culture.
Commercing = holding communion with. Notice the accentuation.
Forget thyself to marble = forget thyself till thou are still and silent as marble.
Hist along = bring along with a hush. Hist is connected with hush.
Philomel = the nightingale.
Cynthia = the moon.
Dragon yoke. Compare “Night’s swift dragons,” (’Midsummer Night’s Dream’).
Removed place = remote or retired place. Compare “some removed ground” in ‘Hamlet.’
Nightly = by night. Sometimes it means “every night successively.”
Thrice-great Hermes, a translation of Hermes Trismegistus, a fabulous king of Egypt, held to be the inventor of Alchemy and Astronomy.
Unsphere, draw from his sphere or station.
The immortal mind. Plato treats of the immortality of the soul chiefly in the Phaedo. The demon, with Socrates, is the attendant genius of an individual; with Plato it is more general; and the assigning the demons to the four elements is a notion of the later Platonists.
Sceptered pall = royal robe.
Presenting Thebes, &c. These lines represent the subjects of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the great tragic poets of Athens.
Musaeus, here for some bard of the distant past, generally. Musaeus, in mythology, is a bard of Thrace, and son of Orpheus.
Half-told the story of Cambuscan bold. The Squire’s Tale in Chaucer, which is broken off in the middle.
Camball, Cambuscan’s son. Algarsife and Canace, his wife and daughter.
Frounced. Used of hair twisted and curled.
The Attic Boy = Cephalus, loved by Eos, the Morning.
A shower still = a soft shower.
Sylvan = Pan or Sylvanus.
Cloister’s pale = cloister’s enclosure.
Massy proof. Massive and proof against the weight above them.]
* * * * *
As we approached the town, I was fortunate enough to overtake the fugitive Kaartans to whose kindness I had been so much indebted in my journey through Bambarra. They readily agreed to introduce me to the King; and we rode together through some marshy ground where, as I was anxiously looking around for the river, one of them called out, geo affili (see the water), and looking forwards, I saw with infinite pleasure the great object of my mission—the long sought for majestic Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward. I hastened to the brink, and having drank of the water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer to the Great Ruler of all things, for having thus far crowned my endeavours with success.
The circumstance of the Niger’s flowing towards the east, and its collateral points, did not, however, excite my surprise; for although I had left Europe in great hesitation on this subject, and rather believed that it ran in the contrary direction, I had made such frequent inquiries during my progress concerning this river, and received from negroes of different nations such clear and decisive assurance that its general course was towards the rising sun, as scarce left any doubt on my mind; and more especially as I knew that Major Houghton had collected similar information in the same manner.
I waited more than two hours without having an opportunity of crossing the river; during which time, the people who had crossed carried information to Mansong, the King, that a white man was waiting for a passage, and was coming to see him. He immediately sent over one of his chief men, who informed me that the King could not possibly see me until he knew what had brought me into his country; and that I must not presume to cross the river without the King’s permission. He therefore advised me to lodge
* * * * *
After a prayer of peace, we committed ourselves to the Desert. Our party consisted of Ismael the Turk, two Greek servants besides Georgis, who was almost blind and useless, two Barbarins, who took care of the camels, Idris, and a young man a relation of his; in all nine persons. We were all well armed with blunderbusses, swords, pistols, and double-barrelled guns, except Idris and his lad, who had lances, the only arms they could use. Five or six naked wretches of the Turcorory joined us at the watering place, much against my will, for I knew that we should probably be reduced to the disagreeable alternative of either seeing them perish of thirst before our eyes, or, by assisting them, running a great risk of perishing along with them.
We left Gooz on the 9th of November, at noon, and halted at the little village of Hassa, where we filled our water-skins—an operation which occupied a whole day, as we had to take every means to secure them from leaking or evaporation. While the camels were loading, I bathed myself with infinite pleasure for a long half hour in the Nile, and thus took leave of my old acquaintance, very doubtful if we should ever meet again. We then turned to the north-east, leaving the Nile, and entering into a bare desert of fixed gravel, without trees, and of a very disagreeable whitish colour, mixed with small pieces of white marble, like alabaster. Our camels, we found, were too heavily loaded; but we comforted ourselves with the reflection, that this fault would be remedied by the daily consumption of our provisions. We had been travelling only two days when our misfortunes began, from a circumstance we had not attended to. Our shoes, that had long needed repair, became at last absolutely useless, and our feet were much inflamed by the burning sand.
On the 13th, we saw, about a mile to the northwest of us, Hambily, a rock not considerable in size, but, from the plain country in which it is situated, having the appearance of a great tower or castle. South of it were too smaller hills, forming, along with it, landmarks of the utmost consequence to caravans, because they are too considerable in size to be at any time covered by the moving sands. We alighted on the following day among some acacia trees, after travelling about twenty miles. We were here at once surprised and terrified by a sight, surely one of the most magnificent in the world. In that vast expanse of desert, we saw a number of prodigious pillars of sand at different distances, at one time moving with great celerity, at another stalking on with majestic slowness. At intervals we thought they were coming to overwhelm us; and again they would retreat, so as to be almost out of sight, their tops reaching to the very clouds. There the tops often separated from the bodies; and these, once disjoined, dispersed in the air, and did not appear more. Sometimes they were broken near the middle, as if struck with a large cannon shot.
From this day subordination, though it did not entirely cease, rapidly declined; all was discontent, murmuring, and fear. Our water was greatly diminished, and that terrible death by thirst began to stare us in the face, owing, in a great measure, to our own imprudence. Ismael, who had been left sentinel over the skins of water, had slept so soundly, that a Turcorory had opened one of the skins that had not been touched, in order to serve himself out of it at his own discretion. I suppose that, hearing somebody stir, and fearing detection, the Turcorory had withdrawn himself as speedily as possible, without tying up the month of the girba, which we found in the morning with scarce a quart of water in it.
On the 16th, our men, if not gay, were in better spirits than I had seen them since we left Gooz. The rugged top of Chiggre was before us, and we knew that there we would solace ourselves with plenty of good water. As we were advancing, Idris suddenly cried out, “Fall upon your faces, for here is the simoom!” I saw from the southeast a haze come, in colour like the purple part of the rainbow, but not so compressed or thick. It did not occupy twenty yards in breadth, and was about twelve feet high from the ground. It was a kind of blush upon the air, and moved very rapidly, for I scarce could turn to fall upon the ground, with my head to the northward, when I felt the heat of its current plainly upon my face. We all lay flat on the ground, as if dead, till Idris told us it was blown over. The meteor or purple haze which I saw was indeed past, but the light air that still blew was of a heat to threaten suffocation. For my part, I found distinctly in my breast that I had imbibed a part of it, nor was I free from an asthmatic sensation till I had been some months in Italy, at the baths of Poretta, nearly two years afterwards.
This phenomenon of the simoom, unexpected by us, though foreseen by Idris, caused us all to relapse into our former despondency. It still continued to blow, so as to exhaust us entirely, though the blast was so weak as scarcely would have raised a leaf from the ground. Towards evening it ceased; and a cooling breeze came from the north, blowing five or six minutes at a time, and then falling calm. We reached Chiggre that night, very much fatigued.
[Note:_James Bruce_ (born 1730, died 1794), the African traveller; one of the early explorers of the Nile.]
* * * * *
Another hour of struggle! It was past midnight, or thereabout, and the storm, instead of abating, blew stronger and stronger. A passenger, one of the three on the beam astern, felt too numb and wearied out to retain his hold by the spar any longer; he left it, and swimming with a desperate effort up to the boat, begged in God’s name to be taken in. Some were for granting his request, others for denying; at last two sailors, moved with pity, laid hold of his arms where he clung to the boat’s side, and helped him in. We were now thirteen together, and the boat rode lower down in the water and with more danger than ever: it was literally a hand’s breadth between life and death. Soon after another, Ibraheem by name, and also a passenger, made a similar attempt to gain admittance. To comply would have been sheer madness; but the poor wretch clung to the gunwale, and struggled to clamber over, till the nearest of the crew, after vainly entreating him to quit hold and return to the beam, saying, “It is your only chance of life, you must keep to it,” loosened his grasp by main force, and flung him back into the sea, where he disappeared for ever. “Has Ibraheem reached you?” called out the captain to the sailor now alone astride of the spar. “Ibraheem is drowned,” came the answer across the waves. “Is drowned,” all repeated in an undertone, adding, “and we too shall soon be drowned also.” In fact, such seemed the only probable end of all our endeavours. For the storm redoubled in violence; the baling could no longer keep up with the rate at which the waves entered; the boat became waterlogged; the water poured in hissing on every side: she was sinking, and we were yet far out in the open sea.
“Plunge for it!” a second time shouted the captain. “Plunge who may, I will stay by the boat so long as the boat stays by me,” thought I, and kept my place. Yoosef, fortunately for him, was lying like a corpse, past fear or motion; but four of our party, one a sailor and the other three passengers, thinking that all hope of the boat was now over, and that nothing remained them but the spar, jumped into the sea. Their loss saved the remainder; the boat lightened and righted for a moment, the pilot and I baled away desperately; she rose clear once more of the water. Those in her were now nine in all—eight men and a boy, the captain’s nephew.
Meanwhile the sea was running mountains; and during the paroxysm of struggle, while the boat pitched heavily, the cord attached from her stern to the beam snapped asunder. One man was on the spar. Yet a minute or so the moonlight showed us the heads of the five survivors as they tried to regain the boat; had they done it we were all lost; then a huge wave separated them from us. “May God have mercy on the poor drowning men!” exclaimed the captain: their bodies were washed ashore three or four days later. We now remained sole survivors—if, indeed, we were to prove so.
Our men rowed hard, and the night wore on; at last the coast came in full view. Before us was a high black rock, jutting out into the foaming sea, whence it rose sheer like the wall of a fortress; at some distance on the left a peculiar glimmer and a long white line of breakers assured me of the existence of an even and sandy beach. The three sailors now at the oars, and the passenger who had taken the place of the fourth, grown reckless by long toil under the momentary expectation of death, and longing to see an end anyhow to this protracted misery, were for pushing the boat on the rocks, because the nearest land, and thus having it all over as soon as possible. This would have been certain destruction. The captain and pilot, well nigh stupefied by what they had undergone, offered no opposition. I saw that a vigorous effort must be made; so I laid hold of them both, shook them to arouse their attention, and bade them take heed to what the rowers were about; adding that it was sheer suicide, and that our only hope of life was to bear up for the sandy creek, which I pointed out to them at a short distance.
Thus awakened from their lethargy, they started up, and joined with me in expostulating with the sailors. But the men doggedly answered that they could hold out no more; that wherever the land was nearest they would make for it, come what might; and with this they pulled on straight towards the cliff.
The captain hastily thrust the rudder into the pilot’s hand, and springing on one of the sailors, pushed him from the bench and seized his oar, while I did the same to another on the opposite side; and we now got the boat’s head round towards the bay. The refractory sailors, ashamed of their own faintheartedness, begged pardon, and promised to act henceforth according to our orders. We gave them back their oars, very glad to see a strife so dangerous, especially at such a moment, soon at an end; and the men pulled for left, though full half an hour’s rowing yet remained between us and the breakers; and the course which we had to hold was more hazardous than before, because it laid the boat almost parallel with the sweep of the water: but half an hour! yet I thought we should never come opposite the desired spot.
At last we neared it, and then a new danger appeared. The first row of breakers, rolling like a cataract, was still far off shore, at least a hundred yards; and between it and the beach appeared a white yeast of raging waters, evidently ten or twelve feet deep, through which, weary as we all were, and benumbed with the night-chill and the unceasing splash of the spray over us, I felt it to be very doubtful whether we should have strength to struggle. But there was no avoiding it; and when we drew near the long white line which glittered like a watchfire in the night, I called out to Yoosef and the lad, both of whom lay plunged in deathlike stupor, to rise and get ready for the hard swim, now inevitable. They stood up, the sailors laid aside their oars, and a moment after the curling wave capsized the boat, and sent her down as though she had been struck by a cannon-shot, while we remained to fight for our lives in the sea.
Confident in my own swimming powers, but doubtful how far those of Yoosef might reach, I at once turned to look for him; and seeing him close by me in the water, I caught hold of him, telling him to hold fast on, and I would help him to land. But, with much presence of mind, he thrust back my grasp, exclaiming, “Save yourself! I am a good swimmer; never fear for me.” The captain and the young sailor laid hold of the boy, the captain’s nephew, one on either side, and struck out with him for the shore. It was a desperate effort; every wave overwhelmed us in its burst, and carried us back in its eddy, while I drank much more salt water than was at all desirable. At last, after some minutes, long as hours, I touched land, and scrambled up the sandy beach as though the avenger of blood had been behind me. One by one the rest came ashore—some stark naked, having cast off or lost their remaining clothes in the whirling eddies; others yet retaining some part of their dress. Every one looked around to see whether his companions arrived; and when all nine stood together on the beach, all cast themselves prostrate on the sands, to thank Heaven for a new lease of life granted after much danger and so many comrades lost.
* * * * *
Perhaps my readers will not think it loss of time to accompany us on a morning visit to the camp and market, to the village gardens and wells; such visits we often paid, not without interest and pleasure.
Warm though Raseem is, its mornings, at least at this time of year (the latter part of September), were delightful. In a pure and mistless sky, the sun rises over the measureless plain, while the early breeze is yet cool and invigorating, a privilege enjoyed almost invariably in Arabia, but wanting too often in Egypt in the west, and India in the east. At this hour we would often thread the streets by which we had first entered the town, and go betimes to the
Having made our morning household purchases at the fair, and the sun being now an hour or more above the horizon, we think it time to visit the market-place of the town, which would hardly be open sooner. We re-enter the city gate, and pass on our way by our house door, where we leave our bundle of eatables, and regain the high street of Berezdah. Before long we reach a high arch across the road; this gate divides the market from the rest of the quarter. We enter. First of all we see a long range of butchers’ shops on either side, thickly hung with flesh of sheep and camel, and very dirtily kept. Were not the air pure and the climate healthy, the plague would assuredly be endemic here; but in Arabia no special harm seems to follow. We hasten on, and next pass a series of cloth and linen warehouses, stocked partly with home-manufacture, but more imported; Bagdad cloaks and head-gear, for instance; Syrian shawls and Egyptian slippers. Here markets follow the law general throughout the East, that all shops or stores of the same description should be clustered together; a system whose advantages on the whole outweigh its inconveniences, at least for small towns like these, in the large cities and capitals of Europe, greater extent of locality requires evidently a different method of arrangement: it might be awkward for the inhabitants of Hyde Park were no hatters to be found nearer than the Tower. But what is Berezdah
Through such obstacles we have found or made our way, and are now amid leather and shoemakers’ shops, then among copper and iron-smiths, till at last we emerge on the central town-square, not a bad one either, nor very irregular, considering that it is in Raseem. About half one side is taken up by the great mosque, an edifice nearly two centuries old, judging by its style and appearance, but it bears on no part of it either date or inscription. A crack running up one side of the tower bears witness to an earthquake said to have occurred here about thirty years since.
Another side of the square is formed by an open gallery. In its shade groups of citizens are seated discussing news or business. The central space is occupied by camels and by bales of various goods, among which the coffee of Yemen, henna, and saffron, bear a large part.
From this square several diverging streets run out, each containing a market-place for this or that ware, and all ending in portals dividing them from the ordinary habitations. The vegetable and fruit market is very extensive, and kept almost exclusively by women; so are also the shops for grocery and spices.
Rock-salt of remarkable purity and whiteness, from Western Raseem, is a common article of sale, and enormous flakes of it, often beautifully crystallized, lay piled up at the shop doors. Sometimes a Persian stood by, trying his skill at purchase or exchange; but these pilgrims were in general shy of entering the town, where, truly, they were not in the best repute. Well-dressed, grave-looking townsmen abound, their yellow wand of lotus-wood in their hands, and their kerchiefs loosely thrown over their heads.
The whole town has an aspect of old but declining prosperity. There are few new houses, but many falling into ruin. The faces, too, of most we meet are serious, and their voices in an undertone. Silk dresses are prohibited by the dominant faction, and tobacco can only be smoked within doors, and by stealth.
Enough of the town: the streets are narrow, hot, and dusty; the day, too, advances; but the gardens are yet cool. So we dash at a venture through a labyrinth of byways and crossways till we find ourselves in the wide street that runs immediately along but inside the walls.
Here is a side gate, but half ruined, with great folding doors, and no one to open them. The wall of one of the flanking towers has, however, been broken in, and from thence we hope to find outlet on the gardens outside. We clamber in, and after mounting a heap of rubbish, once the foot of a winding staircase, have before us a window looking right on the gardens. Fortunately we are not the first to try this short cut, and the truant boys of the town have sufficiently enlarged the aperture and piled up stones on the ground outside to render the passage tolerably easy; we follow the indication, and in another minute stand in the open air without the walls. The breeze is fresh, and will continue so till noon. Before us are high palm-trees and dark shadows; the ground is velvet-green with the autumn crop of maize and vetches, and intersected by a labyrinth of watercourses, some dry, others flowing, for the wells are at work.
These wells are much the same throughout Arabia; their only diversity is in size and depth, but their hydraulic machinery is everywhere alike. Over the well’s month is fixed a crossbeam, supported high in air on pillars of wood or stone on either side, and on this beam are from three to six small wheels, over which pass the ropes of as many large leather buckets, each containing nearly twice the ordinary English measure. These are let down into the depth, and then drawn up again by camels or asses, who pace slowly backwards or forwards on an inclined plane leading from the edge of the well itself to a pit prolonged for some distance. When the buckets rise to the verge, they tilt over and pour out their contents by a broad channel into a reservoir hard by, from which part the watercourses that irrigate the garden. The supply thus obtained is necessarily discontinuous, and much inferior to what a little more skill in mechanism affords in Egypt and Syria; while the awkward shaping and not unfrequently the ragged condition of the buckets themselves causes half the liquid to fall back into the well before it reaches the brim. The creaking, singing noise of the wheels, the rush of water as the buckets attain their turning-point, the unceasing splash of their overflow dripping back into the source, all are a message of life and moisture very welcome in this dry and stilly region, and may be heard far off amid the sandhills, a first intimation to the sun-scorched traveller of his approach to a cooler resting-place.
* * * * *
What virtue is so fitting
for a knight,
Or for a lady whom a knight should love,
As courtesy; to bear themselves aright
To all of each degree as doth behove?
For whether they be placed high above
Or low beneath, yet ought they well to know
Their good: that none them rightly may reprove
Of rudeness for not yielding what they owe:
Great skill it is such duties
[Notes: Edmund Spenser (born 1552, died 1599), the poet who, in Elizabeth’s reign, revived the poetry of England, which since Chaucer’s day, two centuries before, had been flagging.
Gracious are by kind, i.e., by nature. Kind properly means nature.
Good thewes = good manners or virtues. As thew passes into the meaning “muscle,” so virtue (from vis, strength) originally means manlike valour.]
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Then the King and all estates went home unto Camelot, and so went to evensong to the great minster. And so after upon that to supper, and every knight sat in his own place as they were toforehand. Then anon they heard cracking and crying of thunder, that them thought the place should all to-drive. In the midst of this blast entered a sunbeam more clearer by seven times than ever they saw day, and all they were alighted of the grace of the Holy Ghost. Then began every knight to behold other, and either saw other by their seeming fairer than ever they saw afore. Not for then there was no knight might speak one word a great while, and so they looked every man on other, as they had been dumb. Then there entered into the hall the Holy Grail, covered with white samite, but there was none might see it, nor who bare it. And there was all the hall full filled with good odours, and every knight had such meats and drinks as he best loved in this world; and when the Holy Grail had been borne through the hall, then the holy vessel departed suddenly, that they wist not where it became. Then had they all breath to speak. And then the King yielded thankings unto God of His good grace that He had sent them. “Certes,” said the King, “we ought to thank our Lord Jesu greatly, for that he hath shewed us this day at the reverence of this high feast of Pentecost.” “Now,” said Sir Gawaine, “we have been served this day of what meats and drinks we thought on, but one thing beguiled us: we might not see the Holy Grail, it was so preciously covered; wherefore I will make here avow, that to-morn, without longer abiding, I shall labour in the quest of the Sancgreal, that I shall hold me out a twelvemonth and a day, or more if need be, and never shall I return again unto the court till I have seen it more openly than it hath been seen here; and if I may not speed, I shall return again as he that may not be against the will of our Lord Jesu Christ.” When they of the Table Round heard Sir Gawaine say so, they arose up the most party, and made such avows as Sir Gawaine had made.
Anon as King Arthur heard this he was greatly displeased, for he wist well that they might not again say their avows. “Alas!” said King Arthur unto Sir Gawaine, “ye have nigh slain me with the avow and promise that ye have made. For through you ye have bereft me of the fairest fellowship and the truest of knighthood that ever were seen together in any realm of the world. For when they depart from hence, I am sure they all shall never meet more in this world, for they shall die many in the quest. And so it forethinketh me a little, for I have loved them as well as my life, wherefore it shall grieve me right sore the departition of this fellowship. For I have had an old custom to have them in my fellowship.” And therewith the tears filled in his eyes. And then he said, “Gawaine, Gawaine, ye have set me in great sorrow. For I have great doubt that my true fellowship shall never meet here again.” “Ah,” said Sir Launcelot, “comfort yourself, for it shall be unto us as a great honour, and much more than if we died in any other places, for of death we be sure.” “Ah, Launcelot,” said the King, “the great love that I have had unto you all the days of my life maketh me to say such doleful words; for never Christian king had never so many worthy men at this table as I have had this day at the Round Table, and that is my great sorrow.” When the queen, ladies, and gentlewomen wist these tidings, they had such sorrow and heaviness that there might no tongue tell it, for those knights had holden them in honour and charity.
And when all were armed, save their shields and their helms, then they came to their fellowship, which all were ready in the same wise for to go to the minster to hear their service.
Then, after the service was done, the King would wit how many had taken the quest of the Holy Grail, and to account them he prayed them all. Then found they by tale an hundred and fifty, and all were knights of the Round Table. And then they put on their helms and departed, and recommended them all wholly unto the queen, and there was weeping and great sorrow.
And so they mounted upon their horses and rode through the streets of Camelot, and there was weeping of the rich and poor, and the King turned away, and might not speak for weeping. So within a while they came to a city and a castle that hight Vagon. There they entered into the castle, and the lord of that castle was an old man that hight Vagon, and he was a good man of his living, and set open the gates, and made them all the good cheer that he might. And so on the morrow they were all accorded that they should depart every each from other. And then they departed on the morrow with weeping and mourning cheer, and every knight took the way that him best liked.
SIR THOMAS MALORY.
[Notes: The Quest of the Holy Grail. This is taken from the ’Mort d’Arthur,’ written about the end of the fifteenth century by Sir Thomas Malory, and one of the first books printed in England by Caxton. King Arthur was at the head and centre of the company of Knights of the Table Bound. The Holy Grail, or the Sangreal, was the dish said to have held the Paschal lamb at the Last Supper, and to have been possessed by Joseph of Arimathea.
Notice throughout this piece the archaic phrases used.]
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Having often received an invitation from my friend Sir Roger de Coverley to pass away a month with him in the country, I last week accompanied him thither, and am settled with him for some time at his country-house, where I intend to form several of my ensuing speculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my humour, lets me rise and go to bed when I please, dine at his own table or in my own chamber, as I think fit, sit still and say nothing without bidding me be merry.
I am the more at ease in Sir Roger’s family, because it consists of sober and staid persons; for, as the knight is the best master in the world, he seldom changes his servants; and as he is beloved by all about, his servants never care for leaving him; by this means his domestics are all in years, and grown old with their master. You would take his valet de chambre for his brother; his butler is grey-headed, his groom is one of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks of a Privy Counsellor. You see the goodness of the master even in the old house-dog, and in a grey pad that is kept in the stable with great care and tenderness, out of regard for his past services, though he has been useless for several years.
I could not but observe, with a great deal of pleasure, the joy that appeared in the countenance of these ancient domestics upon my friend’s arrival at his country-seat. Some of them could not refrain from tears at the sight of their old master; every one of them pressed forward to do something for him, and seemed discouraged if they were not employed. At the same time the good old knight, with a mixture of a father and the master of the family, tempered the inquiries after his own affairs with several kind questions about themselves. This humanity and good-nature engages everybody to him, so that when he is pleasant upon any of them, all his family are in good-humour, and none so much as the person he diverts himself with. On the contrary, if he coughs, or betrays any infirmity of old age, it is easy for a stander-by to observe a secret concern in the looks of all his servants.
My chief companion, when Sir Roger is diverting himself in the woods or the fields, is a very venerable man who is ever with Sir Roger, and has lived at his house in the nature of a chaplain above thirty years. This gentleman is a person of good sense and some learning; of a very regular life and obliging conversation: he heartily loves Sir Roger, and knows that he is very much in the old knight’s esteem, so that he lives in the family rather as a relation than a dependent.
I have observed in several of my papers, that my friend Sir Roger, amidst all his good qualities, is something of a humorist; and that his virtues, as well as imperfections, are, as it were, tinged by a certain extravagance which makes them particularly his, and distinguishes them from those of other men. This cast of mind, as it is generally very innocent in itself, so it renders his conversation highly agreeable, and more delightful than the same degree of sense and virtue would appear in their common and ordinary colours. As I was walking with him last night, he asked me how I liked the good man I have just now mentioned? And without staying for an answer, told me, “That he was afraid of being insulted with Latin and Greek at his own table; for which reason he desired a particular friend of his at the University to find him out a clergyman rather of plain sense than much learning; of a good aspect, a clear voice, a sociable temper, and, if possible, a man that understood a little of backgammon. My friend,” says Sir Roger, “found me out this gentleman, who, besides the endowments required of him, is, they tell me, a good scholar, though he does not show it. I have given him the parsonage of the parish; and, because I know his value, have settled upon him a good annuity for life. If he outlives me, he shall find that he was higher in my esteem than perhaps he thinks he is. He has now been with me thirty years, and though he does not know I have taken notice of it, has never in all that time asked anything of me for himself, though he is every day soliciting me for something in behalf of one or other of my tenants, his parishioners. There has not been a law-suit in the parish since he has lived among them: if any dispute arises, they apply themselves to him for the decision; if they do not acquiesce in his judgment, which I think never happened above once or twice, at most, they appeal to me. At his first settling with me, I made him a present of all the good sermons that have been printed in English, and only begged of him that every Sunday he would pronounce one of them in the pulpit. Accordingly, he has digested them into such a series, that they follow one another naturally, and make a continued series of practical divinity.”
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“And this,” said he, putting the remains of a crust into his wallet, “and this should have been thy portion,” said he, “hadst thou been alive to have shared it with me.” I thought by the accent it had been an apostrophe to his child; but ’twas to his ass, and to the very ass we had seen dead on the road. The man seemed to lament it much; and it instantly brought into my mind Sancho’s lamentation for his; but he did it with more true touches of nature.
The mourner was sitting on a stone bench at the door, with the ass’s pannel and its bridle on one side, which he took up from time to time—then laid them down—looked at them—and shook his head. He then took his crust of bread out of his wallet again, as if to eat it; held it some time in his hand—then laid it upon the bit of his ass’s bridle—looked wistfully at the little arrangement he had made—and then gave a sigh.
The simplicity of his grief drew numbers about him, and La Fleur among the rest, whilst the horses were getting ready; as I continued sitting in the postchaise, I could see and hear over their heads.
He said he had come last from Spain, where he had been from the farthest borders of Franconia; and he had got so far on his return home, when his ass died. Every one seemed desirous to know what business could have taken so old and poor a man so far a journey from his own home.
“It had pleased heaven,” he said, “to bless him with three sons, the finest lads in all Germany; but having in one week lost two of them by the small-pox, and the youngest falling ill of the same distemper, he was afraid of being bereft of them all; and made a vow, if Heaven would not take him from him also, he would go in gratitude to St. Iago, in Spain.”
When the mourner got thus far on his story, he stopped to pay nature her tribute, and wept bitterly.
He said Heaven had accepted the conditions, and that he had set out from his cottage, with this poor creature, who had been a patient partner of his journey—that it had eat the same bread with him all the way, and was unto him as a friend.
Everybody who stood about heard the poor fellow with concern. La Fleur offered him money; the mourner said he did not want it; it was not the value of the ass, but the loss of him. “The ass,” he said, “he was assured, loved him;” and upon this, told them a long story of a mischance upon their passage over the Pyrenean mountains, which had separated them from each other three days; during which time the ass had sought him as much as he had sought the ass, and they had neither scarce eat or drank till they met.
“Thou hast one comfort, friend,” said I, “at least in the loss of the poor beast; I’m sure thou hast been a merciful master to him.” “Alas!” said the mourner, “I thought so when he was alive; but now he is dead I think otherwise. I fear the weight of myself and my afflictions together have been too much for him—they have shortened the poor creature’s days, and I fear I have them to answer for.” “Shame on the world!” said I to myself. “Did we love each other as this poor soul but loved his ass, ’twould be something.”