Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

country would fain have it a match between him and her; and, truly,' says Sir Roger, ‘if I had not been engaged, perhaps I could not have done better.'

His discourse was broken off by his man's telling him he had called a coach. Upon our going to it, after having cast his eye upon the wheels, he asked the coachman if his axle-tree was good. Upon the fellow's telling him he would warrant it, the knight turned to me, told me he looked like an honest man, and went in without further ceremony.

We had not gone far, when Sir Roger, popping out his head, called the coachman down from his box, and upon presenting himself at the window, asked him if he smoked. As I was considering what this would end in, he bade him stop by the way at any good tobacconist's, and take in a roll of the best Virginia. Nothing material happened in the remaining part of our journey, till we were set down at the west end of the Abbey.

As we went up the body of the church, the knight pointed at the trophies upon one of the new monuments, and cried out : “A brave man, I warrant him !' Passing afterwards by Sir Cloudesley Shovel, he flung his head that way, and cried : “Sir Cloudesley Shovel! a very gallant man!' As we stood before Busby's tomb, the knight uttered himself again after the same manner : ‘Dr Busby! a great man! he whipped my grandfather ; a very great man! I should have gone to him myself, if I had not been a blockhead ; a very great man !'

We were immediately conducted into the little chapel on the right hand. Sir Roger, planting himself at our historian's elbow, was very attentive to everything he said, particularly to the account he gave us of the lord who had cut off the king of Morocco's head. Among several other figures, he was very well pleased to see the statesman Cecil upon his knees; and concluding them all to be great men, was conducted to the figure which represents that martyr to good housewifery who died by the prick of a needle. Upon our interpreter's telling us that she was a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth, the knight was very inquisitive into her name and family ; and after having regarded her finger for some time, ‘I wonder,' says he, that Sir Richard Baker has said nothing of her in his Chronicle.

We were then conveyed to the two coronation-chairs, where my old friend, after having heard that the stone underneath the most ancient of them, which was brought from Scotland, was called

Jacob's pillar, sat himself down in the chair ; and looking like the figure of an old Gothic king, asked our interpreter, 'what authority they had to say that Jacob had ever been in Scotland ?' The fellow, instead of returning him an answer, told him that he hoped his honour would pay his forfeit. I could observe Sir Roger a little ruffled upon being thus trepanned ; but our guide not insisting upon his demand, the knight soon recovered his goodhumour, and whispered in my ear, that “if Will Wimble were with us, and saw those two chairs, it would go hard, but he would get a tobacco-stopper out of one or t'other of them.'

Sir Roger, in the next place, laid his hand upon Edward III.'s sword, and leaning upon the pommel of it, gave us the whole history of the Black Prince ; concluding, that in Sir Richard Baker's opinion, Edward III. was one of the greatest princes that ever sat upon the English throne.

We were then shewn Edward the Confessor's tomb ; upon which Sir Roger acquainted us that he was the first who touched for the evil :' and afterwards Henry IV.'s; upon which he shook his head, and told us there was fine reading in the casualties of that reign !'

Our conductor then pointed to that monument where there is a figure of one of our English kings without a head; and upon giving us to know that the head, which was of beaten silver, had been stolen away several years since ; 'Some Whig, I'll warrant you, says Sir Roger : ‘you ought to lock up your kings better ; they will carry off the body too, if you do not take care.?

The glorious names of Henry V. and Queen Elizabeth gave the knight great opportunities of shining, and of doing justice to Sir Richard Baker, 'who,' as our knight observed with some surprise, “had a great many kings in him whose monuments he had not seen in the Abbey.'

For my own part, I could not but be pleased to see the knight shew such an honest passion for the glory of his country, and such a respectful gratitude to the memory of its princes.

I must not omit that the benevolence of my good old friend, which flows out towards every one he converses with, made him very kind to our interpreter, whom he looked upon as an extraordinary man ; for which reason he shook him by the hand at parting, telling him that he should be very glad to see him at his lodgings, and talk over these matters with him more at leisure.

LORD SHAFTESBURY: 1671-1713.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury, attracted much

attention during the reign of Queen Anne by his numerous publications concerning the operations of the human mind, the most of which were collected into one work, entitled Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times.

THE DEITY UNFOLDED IN HIS WORKS.

From The Moralists.

How oblique and faintly looks the sun on yonder climates, far removed from him ! How tedious are the winters there! How deep the horrors of the night, and how uncomfortable even the light of day! The freezing winds employ their fiercest breath, yet are not spent with blowing. The sea, which elsewhere is scarce confined within its limits, lies here immured in walls of crystal. The snow covers the hills, and almost fills the lowest valleys. How wide and deep it lies, incumbent o'er the plains, hiding the sluggish rivers, the shrubs and trees, the dens of beasts, and mansions of distressed and feeble men! See where they lie confined, hardly secure against the raging cold, or the attacks of the wild beasts, now masters of the wasted field, and forced by hunger out of the naked wood. Yet not disheartened (such is the force of human breasts), but thus provided for by art and prudence, the kind compensating gifts of Heaven, men and their herds may wait for a release. For, at length, the sun approaching melts the snow, sets longing men at liberty, and affords them means and time to make provision against the next return of cold. It breaks the icy fetters of the main, where vast sea-monsters pierce through floating islands, with arms which can withstand the crystal rock ; whilst others, who of themselves seem great as islands, are by their bulk alone armed against all but man, whose superiority over creatures of such stupendous size and force should make him mindful of his privilege of reason, and force him humbly to adore the great composer of these wondrous frames, and author of his own superior wisdom.

But leaving these dull climates, so little favoured by the sun, for those happier regions, on which he looks more kindly, making perpetual summer, how great an alteration do we find ? His purer light confounds weak-sighted mortals, pierced by his scorching beams. Scarce can they tread the glowing ground. The air they breathe cannot enough abate the fire which burns within their panting breasts.

Their bodies melt. O'ercome and fainting, they seek the shade, and wait the cool refreshments of the night. Yet oft the bounteous Creator bestows other refreshments. He casts a veil of clouds before them, and raises gentle gales ; favoured by which, the men and beasts pursue their labours, and plants refreshed by dews and showers can gladly bear the warmest sunbeams.

And here the varying scene opens to new wonders. We see a country rich with gems, but richer with the fragrant spices it affords. How gravely move the largest of land-creatures on the banks of this fair river! How ponderous are their arms, and vast their strength, with courage, and a sense superior to the other beasts ! Yet are they tamed (we see) by mankind, and brought even to fight their battles rather as allies and confederates than as slaves. But let us turn our eyes towards these smaller and more curious objects—the numerous and devouring insects on the trees in these wide plains. How shining, strong, and lasting are the subtle threads spun from their artful mouths! Who beside the All-wise has taught them to compose the beautiful soft shells, in which recluse and buried, yet still alive, they undergo such a surprising change, when not destroyed by men, who clothe and adorn themselves with the labours and lives of these weak creatures, and are proud of wearing such inglorious spoils ? How sumptuously apparelled, gay, and splendid are all the various insects which feed on the other plants of this warm region! How beautiful the plants themselves in all their various growths, from the triumphant palm down to the humble moss !

Now may we see that happy country where precious gums and balsams flow from trees, and nature yields her most delicious fruits. How tame and tractable, how patient of labour and of thirst, are those large creatures, who, lifting up their lofty heads, go led and laden through those dry and barren places! Their shape and temper shew them framed by nature to submit to man, and fitted for his service, who from hence ought to be more sensible of his wants, and of the divine bounty thus supplying them.

But behold! through a vast tract of sky before us, the mighty

Atlas rears his lofty head, covered with snow, above the clouds. Beneath the mountain's foot the rocky country rises into hills, a proper basis of the ponderous mass above, where huge embodied rocks lie piled on one another, and seem to prop the high arch of heaven. See! with what trembling steps poor mankind tread the narrow brink of the deep precipices! From whence, with giddy horror, they look down, mistrusting even the ground which bears them, whilst they hear the hollow sound of torrents underneath, and see the ruin of the impending rock, with falling trees which hang with their roots upwards, and seem to drive more ruin after them. Here thoughtless men, seized with the newness of such objects, become thoughtful, and willingly contemplate the incessant changes of this earth's surface. They see, as in one instant, the revolutions of past ages, the fleeting forms of things, and the decay even of this our globe, whose youth and first formation they consider, whilst the apparent spoil and irreparable breaches of the wasted mountain shew them the world itself only as a noble ruin, and make them think of its approaching period. But here midway the mountain, a specious border of thick wood harbours our wearied travellers, who now are come among the ever-green and lofty pines, the firs, and noble cedars, whose towering heads seem endless in the sky, the rest of trees appearing only as shrubs beside them. And here a different horror seizes our sheltered travellers, when they see the day diminished by the deep shades of the vast wood ; which closing thick above, spreads darkness and eternal night below. The faint and gloomy light looks horrid as the shade itself; and the profound stillness of these places imposes silence upon men, struck with the hoarse echoings of every sound within the spacious caverns of the wood. Here space astonishes. Silence itself seems pregnant; whilst an unknown force works on the mind, and dubious objects move the wakeful sense. Mysterious voices are either heard or fancied, and various forms of deity seem to present themselves, and appear more manifest in these sacred sylvan scenes, such as of old gave rise to temples, and favoured the religion of the ancient world. Even we ourselves, who in plain characters may read divinity from so many bright parts of earth, choose rather these obscurer places to spell out that mysterious Being, which to our weak eyes appears at best under a veil of cloud.

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »