« ZurückWeiter »
power." “We have nothing to ask of your majesty," said Eustace, save what you cannot refuse us." "What is that "" "Your esteem, my lord," said Eustace, and went out with his companions.
At this instant a sound of trumpets was heard throughout the camp. The queen had just arrived with a powerful reinforcement of gallant troops. Sir Walter Mauny flew to receive her majesty, and briefly informed her of the particulars respecting the six victims.
As soon as she had been welcomed by Edward and his court, she desired a private audience. "My lord," said she, "the question I am to enter upon is not touching the lives of a few mechanics, it respects the honour of the English nation; it respects the glory of my Edward, my husband, my king. You think you have sentenced six of your enemies to death. No, my lord; they have sentenced themselves; and their execution would be the execution of their own orders, not the orders of Edward. They have behaved themselves worthily; they have behaved themselves greatly. I cannot but respect, while I envy them, for leaving us no share in the honour of this action, save that of granting a poor, an indispensable pardon. I admit they have deserved every thing that is evil at your hands. They have proved the most inveterate and efficacious of your enemies. They alone have withstood the rapid course of your conquests, and have withheld from you the crown to which you were born. Is it therefore that you would reward them? that you would gratify their desires? that you would indulge their ambition, and inwreathe them with everlasting glory and applause? But, if such a death would exalt mechanics over the fame of the most illustrious heroes, how would the name of Edward, with all his triumphs, be tarnished thereby? Would it not be said, that magnanimity and virtue are grown odious in the eyes of the monarch of Britain? and that the objects whom he destines to the punishment of felons, are the very men who deserve the praise
and esteem of mankind? The stage on which they would suffer, would be to them a stage of honour, but a stage of shame to Edward; a reproach to his conquests; an indelible disgrace to his name. No, my lord. Let us rather disappoint these haughty burghers, who wish to invest themselves with glory at our expense. We cannot wholly deprive them of the merit of a sacrifice so nobly intended, but we may cut them short of their desires: in the place of that death, by which their glory would be consummate, let us bury them under gifts; let us put them to confusion with applauses: we shall thereby defeat them of that popular opinion, which never fails to attend those who suffer in the cause of virtue.” "I am convinced: you have prevailed. Be it so," replied Edward; "prevent the execution; have them instantly before us." They came; when the queen, with an aspect and accents diffusing sweetness, thus bespoke them: "Natives of France, and inhabitants of Calais, ye have put us to a vast expense of blood and treasure in the recovery of our just and natural inheritance, but you have acted up to the best of an erroneous judgment; and we admire and honour in you that valour and virtue, by which we are so long kept out of our rightful possessions. You noble burghers; you excellent citizens! though you were tenfold the enemies of our person and our throne, we can feel nothing on our part, save respect and affection for you. You have been sufficiently tested. We loose your chains; we snatch you from the scaffold; and we thank you for that lesson of humiliation which you teach us, when you show us that excellence is not of blood, of title, or station; that virtue gives a dignity superior to that of kings; and that those whom the Almighty informs with sentiments like yours, are justly and eminently raised above all human distinctions. You are now free to depart to your kinsfolk, your countrymen, to all those whose lives and liberties you have so nobly redeemed, provided you refuse not the token of our esteem. Yet, we would rather bind you to ourselves
by every endearing obligation; and, for this purpose, we offer to you your choice of the gifts and honours that Edward has to bestow. Rivals for fame, but always friends to virtue, we wish that England were entitled to call you her sons." Ah, my country!" exclaimed Pierre, "it is now that I tremble for you. Edward only wins our cities; but Philippa conquers our hearts." "Brave St. Pierre," said the queen, “wherefore look you so dejected?" "Ah, madam!” replied St. Pierre, “when I meet with such another opportunity of dying, I shall not regret that I survived this day."
VII. THE CHOICE OF HERCULES.
WHEN Hercules was in that part of his youth in which it was natural for him to consider what course of life he ought to pursue, he one day retired into a desert, where the silence and solitude of the place very much favoured his meditations. As he was musing on his present condition, and very much perplexed in himself on the state of life he should choose, he saw two women of a larger stature than ordinary approaching towards him. One of them had a very noble air, and graceful deportment; her beauty was natural and easy, her person clean and unspotted, her eyes cast towards the ground with an agreeable reserve, her motion and behaviour full of modesty, and her raiment as white as snow. The other had a great deal of health and floridness in her countenance, which she had helped with an artificial white and red; and she endeavoured to appear more graceful than ordinary in her mien, by a mixture of affectation in all her gestures. She had a wonderful confidence and assurance in her looks, and all the variety of colours in her dress that she thought were the most proper to show her complexion to advantage. She cast her eyes upon herself, then turned them on those that were present, to see how they liked her; and often looked on the figure she made in her own shadow. Upon her nearer approach to Hercules,
she stepped before the other lady, who came forward with a regular composed carriage; and, running up to him, accosted him after the following manner:
"My dear Hercules," says she, "I find you are very much divided in your thoughts upon the way of life that you ought to choose: be my friend, and follow me; I will lead you into the possession of pleasure, and out of the reach of pain, and remove you from all the noise and disquietude of business. The affairs of either war or peace shall have no power to disturb you. Your whole employment shall be to make your life easy, and to entertain every sense with its proper gratifications. Sumptuous tables, beds of roses, clouds of perfumes, concerts of music, crowds of beauties, are all in readiness to receive you. Come along with me into this region of delights, this world of pleasure, and bid farewell for ever to care, to pain, to business."
Hercules, hearing the lady talk after this manner, desired to know her name; to which she answered, "My friends, and those who are well acquainted with me, call me Happiness; but my enemies, and those who would injure my reputation, have given me the name of Pleasure.”
By this time the other lady was come up, who addressed herself to the young hero in a very different manner.
“Hercules,” says she, "I offer myself to you, because I know you are descended from the gods, and give proofs of that descent by your love of virtue, and application to the studies proper for your age. This makes me hope you will gain, both for yourself and me, an immortal reputation. But, before I invite you into my society and friendship, I will be open and sincere with you, and must lay down this as an established truth, that there is nothing truly valuable which can be purchased without pains and labour. The gods have set a price upon every real and noble pleasure. If you would gain the favour of the Deity, you must be at the pains of worshipping him; if the friendship of good men, you must study to oblige them; if you would be
honoured by your country, you must take care to serve it; in short, if you would be eminent in war or peace, you must become master of all the qualifications that can make you so. These are the only terms and conditions upon which I can propose happiness." The goddess of Pleasure here broke in upon her discourse. "You see," said she, "Hercules, by her own confession, the way to her pleasures is long and difficult; whereas that which I propose is short and easy." "Alas!" said the other lady, whose visage glowed with passion, made up of scorn and pity, "what are the pleasures you propose? To eat before you are hungry, drink before you are athirst, sleep before you are tired; to gratify appetites before they are raised, and raise such appetites as nature never planted. You never heard the most delicious music, which is the praise of one's self; nor saw the most beautiful object, which is the work of one's own hands. Your votaries pass away their youth in a dream of mistaken pleasures, while they are hoarding up anguish, torment, and remorse for old age.
'As for me, I am the friend of gods and of good men, an agreeable companion to the artisan, an household guardian to the fathers of families, a patron and protector of servants, an associate in all true and generous friendships. The banquets of my votaries are never costly, but always delicious; for none eat and drink at them who are not invited by hunger and thirst. Their slumbers are sound, and their wakings cheerful. My young men have the pleasure of hearing themselves praised by those who are in years; and those who are in years, of being honoured by those who are young. In a word, my followers are favoured by the gods, beloved by their acquaintance, esteemed by their country, and, after the close of their labours, honoured by posterity."
We know, by the life of this memorable hero, to which of these two ladies he gave up his heart: and I believe every one who reads this, will do him the justice to approve his choice.