Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

AT HIS MOTHER'S GRAVE.

281

soldiers are glad that the bishops are acquitted." "Do you call that nothing?" said James; and then repeated, "So much the worse for them." He might well be out of temper. His defeat had been complete and most humiliating. MACAULAY.

MEANINGS: 1. Verdict, judgment, decision. 2. Are extant, still exist. 3. Despatched, sent. 4. Suspense, anxious doubt and uncertainty. 5. Culprits, persons accused of crime. 6. Whitehall, the palace of the king. 7. Altercation, dispute. 8. Acquit, to declare innocent. 9. Convict, to declare guilty. 10. Libel, false statement against the character of a person. 11. Misdemeanour, crime. 12. Impeached, accused. 13. Acclamations, shouts of applause. 14. To outward signs of emotion, to giving way to their feelings. 15. Explosion, outbreak of feeling. 16. Intrepid, bold. 17. Violated, broken. 18. Prelates, bishops. 19. Took refuge, escaped. 20. Implored, begged for. 21. The capital, London. 22. Repaired, went. 23. Nuncio, the ambassador of the pope. 24. Courier, a swift messenger. 25. Express, special messenger.

AT HIS MOTHER'S GRAVE.

ESMOND came to this spot in one sunny evening of spring, and saw, amidst a thousand black crosses, casting their shadows across the grassy mounds, that particular one which marked his mother's resting-place. He fancied her, in tears and darkness, kneeling at the foot of the cross, under which her cares were buried. Surely he knelt down, and said his own prayer there, not in sorrow so much as in awe (for even his memory had no recollection of her), and in pity for the pangs' which the gentle soul in life had been made to suffer. To this cross she brought them; for this heavenly bridegroom she exchanged the husband who had wooed her, the traitor who had left her. A thousand such hillocks lay round about, the gentle daisies springing out of the grass over them, and each bearing its cross and requiescat. A nun, veiled in black, was kneeling hard by, at a sleeping sister's bedside (so fresh made, that the spring had scarce had time to spin a coverlid for it); beyond the cemetery walls you had glimpses of life and the world, and the spires and gables of the city. A bird came down from a roof opposite. and lit first on a cross, and then on the grass below it, whence it flew away presently with a leaf in its mouth; then came a sound of chanting from the chapel of the sisters hard by; others had long since filled the place which poor Mary Magdalene once had there, were kneeling at the same stall and hearing the same hymns and prayers in which her stricken heart had found consolation.

Might she sleep in peace-might she sleep in peace; and we too, when our struggles and pains are over! But the earth is the Lord's, as the heaven is; we are alike his creatures here and yonder. I took a little flower off the hillock and kissed it, and went my way like the bird that had just lighted on the cross by me, back into the world

again. Silent receptacle of death! tranquil depth of calm, out of reach of tempest and trouble. I felt as one who had been walking below the sea, and treading amidst the bones of shipwrecks.

THACKERAY.

MEANINGS: 1. Pangs, sharp pains. 2. Requiescat, May she rest in peace. 3. Chanting, singing hymns. 4. Stall, seat in the chapel. 5. Tranquil, quiet, undisturbed.

THE TRIAL OF CHARLOTTE CORDAY.

Ir is yellow July evening, the thirteenth of the month; eve of the Bastile day. Four years: what a road he has travelled;-and sits now, about half-past seven of the clock, stewing in slipper-bath; sore afflicted; ill of Revolution fever. Excessively sick and worn, poor man; with precisely elevenpence-halfpenny of ready money, in paper; with slipper-bath; strong three-footed stool for writing on, the while; and a squalid1 washerwoman, that is his domestic establishment in Medical-School Street; thither and not elsewhither has his road led him. Hark, a rap again! A musical woman's voice, refusing to be rejected; it is the citoyenne-who would do France a service. Marat, recognising from within, cries, Admit her. Charlotte Corday is admitted.

*

*

*

*

*

*

As for Charlotte Corday, her work is accomplished; the recompense of it is near and sure. The neighbours of the house flying at her, she "overturns some furniture," entrenches herself-till the gendarmes arrive; then quietly surrenders; goes quietly to the Abbaye Prison: SHE ALONE QUIET, all Paris resounding, in wonder,

in

rage - or admiration, round her.

On Wednesday morning, the thronged Palais de Justice and Revolutionary Tribunal can see her face; beautiful and calm: she dates it "fourth day of the Preparation of Peace.” A strange murran through the hall, at sight of her; you could not say of what character. Tinville has his indictments and tape-papers; the cutler of the Palais Royal will testify that he sold her the sheathknife: "All these details are needless," interrupted Charlotte;

mur

66

IT

66

IS I WHO KILLED MARAT." By whose instigation P3 By no one's." What tempted you then? "His crimes. I killed one man," added she, raising her voice, as they went on with their questions, "I killed one man to save a hundred thousand; a villain to save innocents; a savage wild-beast to give repose to my country. I was a Republican before the Revolution; I wanted energy." There is therefore nothing to be said. The public gazes astonished: the hasty limners sketch her features, Charlotte not disapproving: the men of law proceed with their formalities. The doom is DEATH as A MURDERESS.

never

THE LANDING OF WILLIAM III. IN ENGLAND.

283

On this same evening therefore, about half-past seven o'clock, from the gate of the Conciergerie," to a city all on tiptoe, the fatal cart issues; seated on it a fair young creature, sheeted in red smock of Murderess; so beautiful, serene, so full of life; journeying towards death,-alone amid the world. Many take off their hats, saluting reverently; for what heart but must be touched? Others growl and howl. Adam Lux, of Metz, declares that she is greater than Brutus; that it were beautiful to die with her; the head of this young man seems turned. At the Place de la Révolution, the countenance of Charlotte wears the same still smile. The executioners proceed to bind her feet; she resists, thinking it meant as an insult; on a word of explanation, she submits with cheerful apology! As the last act, all being now ready, they take the neckerchief from her neck; a blush of maidenly shame overspreads that fair face and neck; the cheeks were still tinged with it when the executioner lifted the severed head, to show it to the people. CARLYLE.

MEANINGS 1. Squalid, filthy. 2. Gendarmes, French police. 3. By whose instigation? Who prompted you to do this act ? 4. Conciergerie, a prison in Paris.

THE LANDING OF WILLIAM III. IN ENGLAND.

EXETER, in the meantime, was greatly agitated. Lamplugh, the bishop, as soon as he heard that the Dutch were at Torbay, set off in terror for London. The dean fled from the deanery. The magistrates were for the king, the body of the inhabitants for the prince. Everything was in confusion when, on the morning of Thursday, the eighth of November, a body of troops, under the command of Mordaunt, appeared before the city. With Mordaunt came Burnet, to whom William had intrusted the duty of protecting the clergy of the cathedral from injury and insult. The mayor and aldermen had ordered the gates to be closed, but yielded on the first summons. The deanery was prepared for the reception of the prince. On the following day, Friday the ninth, he arrived. The magistrates had been pressed to receive him in state at the entrance of the city, but had steadfastly refused. The pomp2 of that day, however, could well spare them. Such a sight had never been seen in Devonshire. Many of the citizens went forth half a day's journey to meet the champion of their religion. All the neighbouring villages poured forth their inhabitants. A great crowd, consisting chiefly of young peasants, brandishing their cudgels, had assembled on the top of Haldon Hill, whence the army, marching from Chudleigh, first descried the rich valley of the Exe, and the two massive towers rising from the cloud of smoke which overhung the capital of the west. The road, all down the long descent,

and through the plain to the banks of the river, was lined, mile after mile, with spectators. From the West Gate to the Cathedral Close, the pressing and shouting on each side was such as reminded Londoners of the crowds on the Lord Mayor's day. The houses were gaily decorated. Doors, windows, balconies, and roofs were thronged with gazers. Toilsome marches in the rain, through roads where one who travelled on foot sank at every step up to the ankles in clay, had not improved the appearance either of the men or of their accoutrements. But the people of Devonshire, altogether unused to the splendour of well-ordered camps, were overwhelmed with delight and awe. The Dutch army, composed

of men who had been born in various climates, and had served under various standards, presented an aspect at once grotesque, gorgeous, 10 and terrible to islanders who had, in general, a very indistinct notion of foreign countries. First rode Macclesfield at the head of two hundred gentlemen, mostly of English blood, glittering in helmets and cuirasses," and mounted on Flemish war horses. Each was attended by a negro, brought from the sugar plantations on the coast of Guinea. The citizens of Exeter, who had never seen so many specimens of the African race,12 gazed with wonder on those black faces set off by embroidered turbans and white feathers. Then, with drawn broadswords, came a squadron of Swedish horsemen in black armour and fur cloaks. They were regarded with a strange interest, for it was said that they were natives of a land where the ocean was frozen, and where the night lasted through half the year, and that they had themselves slain the huge bears whose skins they wore. Next, surrounded by a goodly company of gentlemen and pages, was borne aloft the prince's banner. On its broad folds the crowd which covered the roofs and filled the windows read with delight that memorable inscription,13 " "The Protestant religion and the liberties of England." But the shouts redoubled when, attended by forty running footmen, the prince himself appeared, armed on back and breast, wearing a white plume, and mounted on a white charger. With how martial an air he curbed his horse, how thoughtful and commanding was the expression of his ample forehead and falcon eye all observed with reverence and respect! Once those grave features relaxed into a smile. It was when an ancient woman-perhaps one of the zealous Puritans who, through twenty-eight years of persecution, had waited with firm faith for the consolation of Israel-perhaps the mother of some rebel who had perished in the carnage11 of Sedgemoor,15 or in the more fearful carnage of the Bloody Circuit-broke from the crowd, rushed through the drawn swords and curvetting horses, touched the hand of the deliverer, and cried out that now she was happy. Near to the prince was one who divided with him the gaze of the multitude. That, men said, was the great Count Schomberg, the first soldier in Europe, since Turenne and Condé

were

THE LANDING OF WILLIAM III. IN ENGLAND.

285

gone; the man whose genius and valour had saved the Portuguese monarchy on the field of Montes Claros, the man who had earned a still higher glory by resigning the truncheon of a marshal of France for the sake of the true religion. It was not forgotten that the two heroes who, indissolubly united's by their common Protestantism, were entering Exeter together, had twelve years before been opposed to each other under the walls of Maestrict, and that the energy of the young prince had not then been found a match for the cool science of the veteran19 who now rode in friendship by his side. Then came a long column of the whiskered infantry of Switzerland, distinguished in all the continental wars of two centuries by pre-eminent20 valour and discipline, but never till that week seen on English ground. And then

marched a succession of bands designated,"1 as was the fashion of that age, after their leaders, Bentinck, Solmes and Ginkel, Talmash and Mackay. With peculiar pleasure Englishmen might look on one gallant regiment which still bore the name of the honoured and lamented Ossory. The effect of the spectacle was heightened by the recollection of more than one renowned event in which the warriors now pouring through the West Gate had borne a share. For they had seen service very different from that of the Devonshire militia or of the camp at Hounslow. Some of them had repelled the fiery onset of the French on the field of Seneff: and others had crossed swords with the infidels23 in the cause of Christendom24 on that great day when the siege of Vienna was raised. The very senses of the multitude were fooled by imagination. News-letters conveyed to every part of the kingdom fabulous25 accounts of the size and strength of the invaders. It was affirmed that they were, with scarcely an exception, above six feet high; and that they carried such huge pikes, swords, and muskets, as had never before been seen in England. Nor did the wonder of the population diminish when the artillery arrived, twenty-one heavy pieces of brass cannon, which were with difficulty tugged along by sixteen cart horses to each. Much curiosity was excited by a strange structure mounted on wheels. It proved to be a movable smithy, fitted up with all tools and materials necessary for repairing arms and carriages. But nothing caused so much astonishment as the bridge of boats, which was laid with great speed on the Exe for the conveyance of waggons, and afterwards as speedily taken to pieces and carried away. It was made, if report said true, after a pattern contrived by the Christians who were warring against the Great Turk on the Danube. The foreigners inspired as much good-will as admiration. Their politic leader took care to distribute the quarters28 in such a manner as to cause the smallest possible inconvenience to the inhabitants of Exeter and of the neighbouring villages. The strictest discipline was kept up. Not only were pillage" and outrage effectually prevented, but

the

« AnteriorContinuar »