Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE HISTORY OF PRINCE ARTHUR.

349

of the castle, who had a love for him, and was a merciful, tender man, that Hubert could not bear it. To his eternal honor, he prevented the torture from being performed ; and, at his own risk, sent the savages away.

8. The chaffed and disappointed king bethought himself of the stabbing suggestion next; and, with his shuffling manner and his cruel face, proposed it to one William de Bray. “I am a gentleman and not an executioner," said William de Bray, and left the presence with disdain.

9. But it was not difficult for a king to hire a murderer in those days. King John found one for his money, and sent him down to the castle of Falaise. “On what errand dost thou come ?”' said Hubert to this fellow. “To dispatch young Arthur," he returned. “Go back to him who sent thee,” answered Hubert, "and say that I will do it!"

10. King John, věry well knowing that Hubert would never do it, but that he evasively sent this reply to save the prince or gain time, dispatched messengers to convey the young prisoner to the castle of Rouen. Arthur was soon forced from the kird Hubert,--of whom he had never stood in greater need than then, --carried away by night, and lodged in his new prison : where, through his grated window, he could hear the deep waters of the river Seine rippling against the stone wall below.

11. One dark night, as he lay sleeping, dreaming, perhaps, of rescue by those unfortunate gentlemen who were obscurely suffering and dying in his cause, he was roused, and bidden by his jailer to come down the staircase to the foot of the tower. He hỏrriedly dressed himself, and obeyed.

12. When they came to the bottom of the winding stairs, and ¿ the night air from the river blew upon their faces, the jailer trod

upon his torch, and put it out. Then Arthur, in the darkness, was hurriedly drawn into a solitary boat; and in that boat he found his uncle and one other man.

13. He knelt to them, and prayed them not to murder him. Deaf to his entreaties, they stabbed him, and sunk his body in the river with heavy stones. When the spring morning broke, the tower-door was closed, the boat was gone, the river sparkled on its way, and never more was any trace of the poor boy beheld by mortal eyes.

CHARLES DICKENS. · Rou' en, (r8'en), a city of France, sixty-eight miles N. W. of Paris.

SECTION XXXII.

I.

[ocr errors]

150. THE NATURE OF TRUE ELOQUENCE. HEN public bodies are to be addressed on monerilous

occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable in speech further than it is connected with high intellectual and moral endowments.' Clearnèss, force, and earnèstnèss are the qualities which produce conviction.

2. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It can not be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshaled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion.

3. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all inay aspire after it: they can not reach it. It comes, if it come at all, like the out-breaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous,' original, native force.

4. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, their children, and their country, hang on the decision of the hour. Then, words have lost their power, rhetoric* is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked, and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities.

5. Then, pātriotism is eloquent; then, self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, out-running the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit,

1 En dow' ments, gifts, qualities, tory; the art of speaking with proor faculties, bestowed by the Crea- priety, elegance, and force. tor; that which is bestowed, or set- 6 Pā' tri ot ism, love of one's

country; the passion which aims to Compass, (kům' pas), surround; serve one's country. secure ; gain.

Con cěp'tion, apprehension; idei Spon tā' ne ous, arising from in- 'De dăc' tions, inferences drawn ternal feeling ; voluntary; springing from assertions; conclusions.

Logic, the art of thinking and

tled on.

2

6

3

up

of itself.

8

* Rhot' o ric, the science of ora- reasoning justly.

ARNOLD WINKELRIED.

351

speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, inforining every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward, to his object--this, this is eloquence; or, rather it is something greater and higher than all eloquence-it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action.

DANIEL WEBSTER.

II.
151. ARNOLD WINKELRIED.

"MAK

AKE way for liberty !” he cried ;

Made way for liberty,and died l-
It must not be : this day, this hour,
Annihilates' the oppressor's power!
All Switzerland is in the field,
She will not fly, she can not yield,
She must not fall : her better fate

Here gives her an immortal date.
2. Few were the numbers she could boast,
But
every

freeman was a host,"
And felt as though himself were he
On whose sole arm hung victory.
It did depend on one indeed :
Behold him-Arnold Winkelried!
There sounds not to the trump of fame

The echo of a nobler name.
3. Unmarked he stood amid the throng,

In rumination deep and long,
Till you might see, with sudden grace,
The věry thought come o'er bis face;
And by the motion of his form,
Anticipate the rising storm ;
And, by the uplifting of his brow,

Tell where the bolt would strike, and how.
4. But 'twas no sooner thought than done!

The field was in a moment won :-
“Make way for liberty!” he cried,
Then ran, with arms extended wide,

1 An ni' hi lāte, to reduce to noth. men formed into a body for war; a ing; to destroy.

multitude or throng; any great · Höst, an army; a number of number.

As if his dearest friend to clasp ;
Ten spears he swept within his grasp :
“Make way for liberty !” he cried-
Their keen points met from side to side ;
He bowed among

them like a tree,
And thus made way for liberty.
5. Swift to the breach his comrādes fly-

“Make way for liberty !" they cry, ,
And through the Austrian phalanx dart,
As rushed the spears through Arnold's heart,
While instantaneous as his fall,
Rout, ruin, panic, scattered all;
An earthquake could not overthrow
A city with a surer blow.
Thus Switzerland again was free ;
Thus death made way for liberty!

JAMES MONTGOMERY.

III.

152. CRIME ITS OWN DETECTER.

GAINST the prisoner at the bar, as an individual, I can not

have the slightèst prejudice. I would not do him the smallèst injury or injustice. But I do not affect to be indifferent to the discovery and the punishment of this deep guilt. I cheerfully share in the opprobrium, how much soever it may be, which is cast on those who feel and manifest an anxious concern that all who had a part in planning, or a hand in executing, this deed of midnight assassination,' may be brought to answer for their enormous crime at the bar of public justice.

2. Gentlemen, this is a most extraordinary case. respects, it has hardly a precedent anywhere-certainly none in our New England history. An agèd man, without an enemy in the world, in his own house, and in his own bed, is made the victim of a butcherly murder, for mere pay. Deep sleep had fallen on the destined victim, and on all beneath his roof. A healthful old man, to whom sleep was sweet—the first sound slumbers of the night hold him in their soft, but strong embrace.

* As săs'sin a' tion, the act of murdering by secret assault, or by sudden violence.

In some CRIME ITS OWN DETECTER.

353

3. The assassin enters through the window, already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment; with noiseless foot, he paces the lonely hall, half-lighted by the moon; he winds up the ascent' of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chămber. Of this he moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it turns on its hinges; and he enters, and beholds his victim before him.

4. The room was uncommonly light. The face of the innocènt sleeper was turned from the murderer ; and the beams of the moon, resting on the gray locks of his agèd temple, showed him where to strike. The fatal blow is given, and the victim passes, without a struggle or a motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death!

5. It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work ; and he yệt plies the dagger, though it was obvious that life had been destroyed by the blow of the bludgeon.' He even raises the agèd arm, that he may not fail in his aim at the heart, and replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard !? To finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! he feels it, and ascertains that it beats no longer!

6. It is accomplished! The deed is done! He retreats-retraces his steps to the window, passes through as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murder; no eye has seen him, no ear has heard him ; the secret is his own, and he is safe !

7. Ah, gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be safe nowhere. The whole creation of God has nēither nook nor corner, where the guilty can bestow it and say it is safe.

Not to speak of that eye which glances through all disguises, and beholds every thing as in the splendor of noonsuch secrets of guilt are never safe : murder will out.

8. True it is that Providence hath so ordained, and doth so govern things, that those who break the great law of heaven, by shedding man's blood, seldom succeed in avoiding discovery. Especially in a case exciting so much attention as this, discovery must and will come, sooner or later. A thousand eyes turn at once to explore every man, every thing, every circumstance, connected with the time and place; a thousand ears cătch every whisper ; a thousand excited minds intently dwell on the scene ;

* Bludgeon, (blůd'jun), a short stick or club. stick, with one end loaded, or thicker 2 Poniard, (pån’ yard), a small and heavier than the other; a thick dagger.

« AnteriorContinuar »