« AnteriorContinuar »
rance, incredulity, and insolence, which had created him so much unnecessary disquiet, and had so often obstructed the prosecution of his well-concerted plan; and passing, in the warmth of their admiration, from one extreme to another, they now pronounced the man, whom they had so lately reviled and threatened, to be a person inspired by heaven, with sagacity and fortitude more than human, in order to accomplish a design so far beyond the ideas and conceptions of all former ages. As soon as the sun arose, all the boats were manned and armed. They rowed towards the island with their colors displayed, warlike music, and other martial pomp; and as they approached the coast, they saw it covered with a multitude of people, whom the novelty of the spectacle had drawn together, and whose attitudes and gestures expressed wonder and astonishment at the strange objects which presented themselves to their view.
Columbus was the first European who set foot in the New World which he had discovered. He landed in a rich dress, and with a naked sword in his hand. His men followed, and, kneeling down, they all kissed the ground which they had long desired to see. They next erected a crucifix, and prostrating themselves before it, returned thanks to God for conducting their voyage to such a happy issue. They then took solemn possession of the country for the crown of Castile and Leon, with all the formalities with which the Portuguese were accustomed to take possession of their new discoveries.
The Spaniards, while thus employed, were surrounded by many of the natives, who gazed, in silent admiration, upon actions which they could not comprehend, and of which they did not foresee the consequences. The dress of the Spaniards, the whiteness of their skins, their beards, their arms, appeared strange and surprising. The vast machines, in which they had traversed the ocean, that seemed to move upon the water with wings, and uttered a dreadful sound resembling thunder, accompanied with lightning and smoke, struck them with such terror that
they began to respect their new guests as a superior order of beings, and concluded that they were children of the sun, who had descended to visit the earth. The Europeans were hardly less amazed at the scene now before them. Every herb, and shrub, and tree, was different from those which flourished in Europe. The soil seemed to be rich, but bore few marks of cultivation. The climate, even to Spaniards, felt warm, though extremely delightful. The inhabitants were entirely naked; their black hair, long and uncurled, floated upon their shoulders, or was bound in tresses around their heads; they had no beards; their complexion was of a dusky copper color; their features singular rather than disagreeable; their aspect gentle and timid. Though not tall they were well shaped and active. Their faces, and other parts of their body, were fantastically painted with glaring colors. They were shy at first, through fear, but soon became familiar with the Spaniards, and, with transports of joy, received from them hawks' bells, glass beads, and other baubles; in return for which they gave such provisions as they had, and some cotton yarn, the only commodity of value which they could produce.
Towards evening, Columbus returned to his ships, accompanied by many of the islanders in their boats, which they called canoes; and, though rudely formed out of the trunk of a single tree, they rowed them with surprising dexterity. Thus in the first interview between the inhabitants of the old world and those of the new, every thing was conducted arnicably, and to their mutual satisfaction. The former, enlightened and ambitious, formed already vast ideas with respect to the advantages which they might derive from those regions that began to open to their view. The latter, simple and undiscerning, had no foresight of the calamities and desolation, which were now approaching their country.
EXECUTION OF THE EARL OF ARGYLE.
Fox's History of James II.—page 148, 8vo.
On the 30th of June, 1685, the Earl of Argyle was brought from the castle, first to the Laigh Council House, and thence to the place of execution. Before he left the castle, he had his dinner at the usual hour, at which he discoursed, not only calmly, but even cheerfully, with Mr. Chateris and others. After dinner he retired, as was his custom, to his bed-chamber, where, it is recorded, he slept quietly for about a quarter of an hour. While he was in bed, one of the members of the council came, and intimated to the attendants, a desire to speak with himupon being told that the Earl was asleep, and had left orders not to be disturbed, the manager disbelieved the account, which he considered as a devise to avoid further questionings. To satisfy him, the door of the bedchamber was half opened, and then he beheld, enjoying a sweet and tranquil slumber, the man who by the doom of him and his fellows, was to die within the short space of two hours! Struck with the sight, he hurried out of the room, quitted the castle with the utmost precipitation, and hid himself in the lodgings of an acquaintance who lived near, where he threw himself upon the first bed that presented itself, and had every appearance of a man suffering the most excruciating torture. His friend, who was apprised of the state he was in, and who naturally concluded he was ill, offered him some wine. He refused, saying, "no, no, that will not help me; I have been to Argyle, and saw him sleeping as pleasantly as ever man did, within one hour of eternity, but as for me The name of the person to whom this anecdote relates is not mentioned, and the truth of it may therefore be fairly considered as liable to that degree of doubt with which men of judgment receive every species of traditional history. Woodrow, however, whose veracity is above sus
picion, says he had it from the most unquestionable authority. It is not in itself unlikely, and who is there that would not wish it true? What a satisfactory spectacle to a philosophical mind, to see the oppressor in the zenith of his power, envying his victim! What an acknowledgment of the superiority of virtue! What an affecting and forcible testimony of the value of that peace of mind which innocence can alone confer! We know not who this man was, but when we reflect that the guilt which agonized him, was probably incurred from some vain title, or at least for some increase of wealth which he did not want, and possibly knew not how to enjoy, our disgust is turned into something like compassion, for that very foolish class of men, whom the world calls wise in their generation.
Soon after this short repose, Argyle was brought, according to order, to the Laigh Council House, from which place is dated the letter to his wife, and from thence to the place of execution. On the scaffold he had some discourse, as well with Mr. Annand, a minister appointed by government to attend him, as with Mr. Chateris. He desired both of them to pray for him, and prayed himself with much fervor and devotion. The speech which he made to the people, was such as might be expected from the passages already related. The same mixture of firmness and mildness is conspicuous in every part of it. "We ought not" said he "to despise our afflictions, nor to faint under them. We should not suffer ourselves to be exasperated against the instruments of our troubles, nor by fraudulent or pusillanimous compliance, bring guilt upon ourselves-faint hearts are usually false hearts, choosing sin rather than suffering." He offers his prayers for the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, and that an end may be put to their present trials. Having then asked pardon for his own faults, both of God and man, he would have concluded, but being reminded that he had said nothing of the royal family, he adds, that he refers in this matter to what he had said at
his trial concerning the test: that he prayed there never might be wanting one of the royal family to support the Protestant religion: and if any of them had swerved from the true faith, he prayed God to turn their hearts: but at any rate to save his people from their machinations. When he had ended, he turned to the south side of the scaffold and said, "gentlemen, I pray you, do not misconstruct my behavior this day-I freely forgive all men their wrongs and injuries done against me, as I desire to be forgiven of God." He then embraced his friends, gave some tokens of his remembrance to his sonin-law, Lord Maitland, for his daughter and grandchildren, stript himself of part of his apparel, of which he likewise made presents, and laid his head upon the block. Having uttered a short prayer, he gave the signal to the executioner, which was instantly obeyed, and his head severed from his body.
Such were the last hours, and such the final close of this great man's life. May the like happy serenity, in such dreadful circumstances, and a death equally glorious, be the lot of all, whom tyranny of whatever description or denomination, shall, in any age, or in any country, call to expiate their virtues on the scaffold!
BATTLE OF HASTINGS.-Lingard.
THE spot which Harold had selected for this important contest was called Senlac, nine miles from Hastings, an eminence opening to the south, and covered on the back by an extensive wood. As his troops arrived he posted them on the declivity in one compact and immense mass. In the center waved the royal standard, the figure of a warrior in the act of fighting, worked in thread of gold, and ornamented with precious stones. By its side stood Harold and his two brothers, Gurth and Leofwin; and around them the rest of the army, every