Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

His steps are not upon thy paths,—thy fields

Are not a spoil for him,—thou dost arise And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields

For earth's destruction thou dost all despise, Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,

And sendest him, shivering in thy playful spray
And howling, to his gods, where haply lies

His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth :—there let him lay.

The armaments which thunder-strike the walls

Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake, And monarchs tremble in their capitals,

The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make Their clay creator the vain title take

Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war,These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,

They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee

Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? Thy waters wasted them while they were free,

And many a tyrant since ; their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage ; their decay

Has dried up realms to deserts :—not so thou ; Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play,

Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure browSuch as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

Thou glorious mirror ! where the Almighty's form

Glasses itself in tempests ; in all time,-
Calm or convulsed, in breeze, or gale, or storm,

Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime

Dark-heaving, -boundless, endless, and sublime

The image of Eternity—the throne
Of the Invisible ; even from out thy slime

The monsters of the deep are made ; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy

Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like my bubbles onward : from a boy

I wantoned with thy breakers—they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea

Made them a terror—twas a pleasing fear,
For I was as it were a child of thee,

And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane, as I do here.

LORD BYRON.

THE CHARACTER OF ELIZABETH,

THERE are few great personages in history who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies and the adulation of friends, than Queen Elizabeth ; and yet there is scarcely any whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, and the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejudices ; and obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have at last, in spite of political factions, and, what is more, of religious animosities, produced a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, address, are allowed to merit the highest praises, and appear not to have been surpassed by any person that ever filled a throne: a conduct less rigorous, less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a

a

perfect character. By the force of her mind she controlled all her more active and stronger qualities, and prevented them from running into excess : her heroism was exempt from temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her active temper from turbulency and a vain ambition : she guarded not herself with equal care or equal success from lesser infirmities ; the rivalship of beauty, the desire of admiration, the jealousy of love, and the sallies of anger.

Her singular talents for government were founded equally on her temper and on her capacity. Endowed with a great command over herself, she soon obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over her people ; and while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also engaged their affections by her pretended ones. Few sovereigns of England succeeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances ; and none ever conducted the government with such uniform success and felicity. Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration, the true secret for managing religious factions, she preserved her people, by her superior prudence, from those confusions in which theological controversy had involved all the neighbouring nations : and though her enemies were the most powerful princes of Europe, the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous, she was able by her vigour to make deep impressions on their states : her own greatness, meanwhile, remained untouched and unimpaired.

The wise ministers and brave warriors who flourished under her reign, share the praise of her success ; but instead of lessening the applause due to her, they make great addition to it. They owed all of them their advancement to her choice ; they were supported by her constancy ; and, with all their abilities, they were never able to acquire any undue ascendant over her. In her family, in her court, in her kingdom, she remained equally mistress : the force of the tender passions was great over her, but the force of her mind was still superior ; and the combat which her victory visibly cost her, serves only to display the firmness of her resolution, and the loftiness of her ambitious sentiments.

The fame of this princess, though it has surmounted the prejudices both of faction and bigotry, yet lies still exposed to another prejudice, which is more durable because more natural, and which, according to the different views in which we survey her, is capable either of exalting beyond measure, or diminishing the lustre of her character. This prejudice is founded on the consideration of her sex, When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her great qualities and extensive capacity ; but we are also apt to require some more softness of disposition, some greater lenity of temper, some of those amiable weaknesses by which her sex is distinguished. But the true method of estimating her merit, is to lay aside all these considerations, and consider her merely as a rational being placed in authority, and intrusted with the government of mankind. We may find it difficult to reconcile our fancy to her as a wife or a mistress ; but her qualities as a sovereign, though with some considerable exceptions, are the object of undisputed applause and approbation.

DAVID HUME.

THE CHARACTER OF LORD FALKLAND.

In this unhappy battle was slain the Lord Viscount Falkland, a person of such prodigious parts of learning and knowledge, of that inimitable sweetness and delight in conve

versation, of so flowing and obliging a humanity and goodness to mankind, and of that primitive simplicity and integrity of life, that if there were no other brand upon this odious and accursed Civil War, than that single loss, it must be most infamous, and execrable to all posterity.

Before this Parliament, his condition of life was so happy that it was hardly capable of improvement. Before he came

to be twenty years of age, he was master of a noble fortune. His education for some years had been in Ireland, where his father was Lord Deputy ; so that, when he returned into England, to the possession of his fortune, he was unentangled with any acquaintances or friends, which usually grow up by the custom of conversation; and therefore was able to make a pure election of his company; which he chose by other rules than were prescribed to the young nobility of that time. And it cannot be denied, though he admitted some few to his friendship, for the agreeableness of their natures, and their undoubted affection to him, that his familiarity and friendship, for the most part, was with men of the most eminent and sublime parts, and of untouched reputation in point of integrity, and such men had a title to his bosom.

He was a great cherisher of wit, and fancy, and good parts in any man ; and, if he found them clouded with poverty or want, a most liberal and bountiful patron towards them, even above his fortune; of which in those administrations, he was such a dispenser, as if he had been trusted with it to such uses; and if there had been the least of vice in his expense, he might have been thought too prodigal.

He was constant and pertinacious in whatever he resolved to do, and not to be wearied by any pains that were necessary to that end. And therefore, having once resolved not to see London, which he loved above all places, till he had perfectly learned the Greek tongue, he went to his own house in the country, and pursued it with that indefatigable industry, that it will not be believed in how short a time he was master of it, and accurately read all the Greek historians.

In this time, his house being within ten miles of Oxford, he contracted familiarity and friendship with the most polite and accurate men of that university ; who found such an immenseness of wit, and such a solidity of judgment in him, so infinite a fancy, bound in by a most logical ratiocination, such a vast knowledge, that he was not ignorant in anything, yet such an excessive humility, as if he had known nothing,

« ZurückWeiter »