Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

though with difficulty, to cry aloud for justice. “Pooi souls !” said the king to one of his attendants, “ for a little money they would do as much against their commanders.” Some of them were allowed to go the utmost length of brutal insolence, and to spit in his face, as he was conducted along the passage to the court. To excite a sentiment of pity was the only effect which this inhuman insult was able to produce upon him.

4. The people, though under the rod of lawless, unlimited power, could not forbear, with the most ardent prayers, pouring forth their wishes for his preservation; and, in his present distress, they avowed him, by their generous tears, for their monarch, whom, in their misguided fury, they had before so violently rejected. The king was softened at this moving scene, and expressed his gratitude for their dutiful affection. One soldier, too, seized by contagious sympathy, demanded from Heaven a blessing on oppressed and fallen majesty: his officer, overhearing the prayer, beat him to the ground in the king's presence. « The punishment, methinks, exceeds the offense :" this was the reflection which Charles formed on that occasion

5. As soon as the intention of trying the king was known in foreign countries, so enormous an action was exclaimed against by the general voice of reason and humanity; and all the men, under whatever form of government they were born, rejected this ex. ample, as the utmost effort of undisguised usurpation, and the most heinous insult on law and justice. The French ambassador, by orders from his court, interposed in the king's behalf: the Dutch employed their good offices: the Scots exclaimed and protested against the violence: the queen, the prince, wrote pathetic letters to the parliament. All solicitations were found fruitless with men whose resolutions were fixed and irrevocable.

6. Three days were allowed the king between his sentence and his execution. This interval he passed with great tranquillity, chiefly in reading and devotion. All his family that remained in England, were allowed access to him. It consisted only of the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Gloucester; for the Duke of York had made his escape. Gloucester was little more than an infant; the princess, notwithstanding her tender

years, showed an advanced judgment; and the calamities of her family had made a deep impression upon her. After many pious consolations and advices, the king gave her in charge to tell the queen, that, during the whole course of his life, he had never once, even in thought, failed in his fidelity towards her; and that his conjugal tenderness and his life should have ac equal duration,

7. To the young duke, too, he could not forbear giving some advice, in order to season his mind with early principles of loyalty and obedience towards his brother, who was so soon to be his sovereign. Holding him on his knee, he said : “Now they will cut off thy father's head.” At these words the child looked very steadfastly upon him. “Mark, child ! what I say: they will cut off my head! and, perhaps, make thee a king: but mark what I say; thou must not be a king as long as thy brothers Charles and James are alive. They will cut off thy brothers' heads, when they can catch them! And thy head, too, they will cut off at last! Therefore, I charge thee, do not be made a king by them !” The duke sighing, replied: "I will be torn in pieces first !” So determined an answer from one of so tender years, filled the king's eyes with tears of joy and admiration.

8. Every night during this interval the king slept as sound as usual ; though the noise of workmen employed in framing the scaffold, and other preparations for his execution, continually resounded in his ears. The morning of the fatal day he rose early, and, calling Herbert, one of his attendants, he bade him employ more than usual care in dressing him, and preparing him for so great and so joyful a solemnity. Bishop Juxon, a man endowed with the same mild and steady virtues by which the king himself was so much distinguished, assisted him in his devotions, and paid the last melancholy duties to his friend and sovereign.

9. The street before Whitehall was the place destined for the execution ; for it was intended, by choosing that very place, in sight of his own palace, to display more evidently the triumph of popular justice over royal majesty. When the king came upon the scaffold, he found it so surrounded with soldiers that he could not expect to be heard by any of the people: he addressed, therefore, his discourse to the few persons who were about him; particularly Colonel Tomlinson, to whose care he had lately been committed, and upon whom, as upon others, his amiable deportment wrought an entire conversion.

10. IIe justified his own innocence in the late fatal wars; and observed that he had not taken arms till after the parliament : had enlisted forces : nor had he any other object, in his warlike operations, than to preserve that authority entire which his predecessors had transmitted to him. He threw not, however, the blame upon the parliament, but was more inclined to think that ill instruments had interposed, and raised in them fears and jealousies with regard to his intentions. Though innocent towards his people, he acknowledged the equity of his execution in the eyes of his Maker; and observed that an unjust sentence which he had suffered to take effect, was now punished by an unjust sentence upon himself.

11. He forgave all his enemies, even the chief instruments of his death; but exhorted them and the whole nation to return to the ways of peace, by paying obedience to their lawful sovereign, his son and successor. When he was preparing himself for the block, Bishop Juxon * called to him: “There is, sir, but one stage more, which, though turbulent and troublesome, is yet a very short one. Consider, it will soon carry you a great way; it will carry you from earth to Heaven; and there you shall find, to your great joy, the prize to which you hasten, a crown of glory.“I go," replied the king, “ from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can have place."

it one blow was his head severed from his body. A man in a isor performed the office of executioner; another, in a like dis. guise, held up to the spectators the head streaming with blood, and cried aloud: “This is the head of a traitor !”

* This learned and pious prelate was, after the execution of the king, to whom he was devotedly attached, deprived of his bishopric and imprisoned, because he would not disclose his last conversation with the king

EXERCISE CXXVIII.

Thomas CAMPBELL was born in Glasgow, Scotland, July 15th, 1777, and died in Boulogne, France, June, 1844. He was, even in early life, a devoted student; being specially distinguished as a classical scholar. He was a poet, also, from his very boyhood. In 1799 he published his splendid poem, entitled “The PLEASURES OF Hope;" a work which at once gave him the highest literary distinction. After this, he traveled about for some years: bringing out, every now and then, one of those famous smaller pieces, as The Exile of Erin," Lochiel's Warning," &c., which are now familiar to all the reading world. For a long time after this, he seems to have been principally ongaged in writing by contract for booksellers : living, for that purpose, in or near the city of London. He was an ardent patriot, and shared largely the enthusiasm of the times. Tu his exertions, mainly, the London University oyes its foundation; and it is no mean proof of the estimation in which he was held, as a judicious friend of learning, that he was twice or three times elected (first in 1826) Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow. Towards the last, however, many circumstances conspired to embitter his life, and we read the nature of his grief in his own melancholy words,My wife is dead, my son is mad, and my harp unstrung." Still, however, he continued to write and to travel, till 1843; when, settling down in France, he there spent the short and sad remainder of his life. His poems are still 30 well known, so popular, and so duly appreciated, that any specification of their leading characteristics would seem almost superfluous.

PASSAGES FROM “THE PLEASURES OF HOPE.”

THOMAS CAMPBELL

1.

HOPE KINDLED BY DISTANT OBJECTS.
At summer eve, when heaven's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering hills below,
Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye,
Whosc sun-bright summit mingles with the sky ?
Why do those cliffs of shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smiling near ?-
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
Thus, with delight we linger to survey
The promised joys of life's unmeasured way,
Thus, from afar, each dim-discover'd scene
More pleasing seems than all the past have been,
And every form that fancy can repair
From dark oblivion, glows divinely there.

II.

HOPE LINGERED WHEN ALL ELSE HAD FLEL.

Primeval Hope, the Aonian * Muses say,
When Man and Nature mourned their first decay;
When every form of death, and every woe,
Shot from malignant stars to earth below;
When Murder bared her arm, and rampant War
Yoked the red dragons of her iron car,
When Peace and Mercy, banished from the plain,
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heaven again;
All, all forsook the friendless, guilty mind,
But Hope, the charmer, linger'd still behind.

IIT.

HOPE ANIMATES THE HERO.
Friend of the brave ! in peril's darkest hour,
Intrepid Virtue looks to thee for power ;
To thee the heart its trembling homage yields,
On stormy floods, and carnage-covered fields,
When front to front the bannered hosts combipe,
Halt ere they close, and form the dreadful line.
When all is still on Death's devoted soil,
The march-worn soldier mingles for the toil !
As rings his glittering tube, he lifts on high
The dauntless brow, and spirit-speaking eye,
Hails in his heart the triumph yet to come,
And hears thy stormy music in the drum!

[ocr errors]

HOPE INVOKED TO CHEER THE HOME OF POVERTY.
Propitious Power! when rankling cares annoy
The sacred home of Hymenean joy ;

* Aonian, that is, Grecian ; Aonia being the earlier name of Boeotia, in which was situated Mount Helicon, the fabled abode of the Muses

« AnteriorContinuar »