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was seen by the same children to swim out a considerable way. They pursued their amusement, and took no further note of Stanley's proceedings.
A few days after the lifeless body of Stanley was found, with his hat tied on, as described by the boys, at no great distance from the spot where he had been last seen.
The ill-fated Caroline retired immediately to the nunnery of St. Brieux, where she still remains, secluded from every eye except those of the pious sisterhood. A year has now elapsed since the dreadful catastrophe, and yet her tears flow unceasingly. Time alone, and the consolations of an Almighty Father, can bring balm to her wounded spirit.
As the old man concluded those words he slowly arose, and pensively descending the hill by the steep path, which seemed almost suspended over the clear waters of the Rance, we reached the valley in silence, where he hastily, bade me adieu, apparently much affected by the sad history he had related, whilst I returned home by the ruined monastery of Lehon.
THE COTTER'S SUNDAY MORNING.
“ And • Let us worship God,' the Patriarch cried.”
Burns' “ Cotter's Saturday Night."
It is the fresh calm hour when all is still,
And soon he hears his busy bustling dame,
“ Robin work'd late last night, perchance," she cries ;
Young folks sleep all too sound in haste to rise.”
Erewhiles he pauseth, earnest to enforce
The morning meal is o'er, and gentle haste
Ah! simple Susan, are they then for him,
Well, Heaven views youth, when youth too oft views nought
And now their homeward way they cheerful wend,
KINGS OF ENGLAND.
To mark the rise and progress of those who have played an important part on the stage of our country's history; to record the events by which dynasties have been founded and annihilated, institutions, venerated for their antiquity, swept away, and again re-established; to trace the improvement commenced under the administration of one sovereign, carried on by a second, probably completed by a third, are occupations which combine amusement with edification, and unite the pleasure of research with the beneficial accumulation of historical knowledge. Such is our principal design in glancing at the lives of the English monarchs; but the records of the early kings, like that of the land which they governed, are involved in considerable obscurity. The arts and sciences had not begun to shed their benign light upon the general darkness; literature, so far as concerned Britain, was comparatively unknown; the people were chiefly engaged in internal war; while the only persons having any pretensions to learning were the monks, who, however, generally devoted their leisure and talents to penning the chronicles of abbots and saints. Conspicuous among the monastic orders was the celebrated historian Bede, a man of great erudition and untiring assiduity. His “Ecclesiastical History" embraces a period of nearly three centuries, and forms almost the only cabinet from which we have obtained a knowledge of the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries.
Though the conquest of Britain by the Romans introduced a degree of civilisation previously unknown, yet the system of legislation which they adopted tended so much to weaken the
power and destroy the bravery of the people, that they found themselves, after the Romans had left the island, totally unable to cope with the repeated attacks of the Picts and Scots. In this extremity, the Britons solicited the aid of the Saxons; who, desirous of settling among a people whose conquest they deemed an easy matter, welcomed to their shores the English ambassador. He stated the wishes of the nation which he represented in the following laudatory but importunate speech :
“ Illustrious and generous Saxons! The Britons, harassed and oppressed by the continual inroads of the Picts and Scots, their neighbours and enemies, send us to you to implore your assistance. The fame of your victories has reached
We are sensible your arms are irresistible, and, therefore, are come to sue for your protection. Britain for many years made a considerable part of the Roman empire, but, our masters having abandoned us, we know no nation more powerful than yourselves, or better able to protect us. Grant but our request, and, in return, we offer all that a rich and fertile country, such as our's is, can afford. Put what price you please on your protection: we shall submit to what terms you yourselves shall judge reasonable, provided by your aid we are enabled to drive the enemy out of our country'
We may well ask, Does this address proceed from those who so resolutely opposed the landing of the invincible Cæsar ?
The Saxons returned a characteristic answer : 6. Be assured the Saxons will stand by you in your pressing necessities." They accordingly landed on the English coast in the year 449, defeated the Picts and located themselves on the British soil, acquired additional power by the arrival of large numbers of their countrymen, the more ambitious and influential of whom assumed the sovereignty of separate portions of the island, till, by degrees, it became divided
into seven distinct kingdoms-hence called the Heptarchy—the last of which was founded in the year 582.
The disorganised state of England on the arrival of the Saxons presented them with a favourable opportunity not only for introducing the customs of Germany into the conquered territory, but of adapting the form of government existing in their native land to the requirements of Britain. Indeed, if we trace the source from which our present laws and institutions sprang, we shall find that many of them originated with the early Saxon monarchs, the successors of whom modified, repealed, and increased the number of their legislative enactments, according as civilisation progressed and society altered. The General Assembly by which the affairs of the Heptarchy were regulated, and to which the council of each kingdom was subordinate, was a type of the existing Houses of Parliament; while the regal prerogatives were nearly of the same character then as are those held by the sovereigns of the present dynasty. We do not wish to imply that the establishment of a representative constitution was entirely owing to the Saxons ; but we consider that, had they not granted that institution, imperfect and partial though it was, the public voice would for centuries have remained unheard. It is not in the nature of monarchs to enlarge the people's liberties, but after the nation had enjoyed the benefits resulting from a representative government, even sovereigns whose policy was of the most restrictive character feared to abridge the popular rights, while those of a more enlightened order increased their power, by allowing public opinion an opportunity of reaching the ruling authorities.
The first king who framed a system of laws was Ina, whose government of Wessex, for thirty-eight years, was distinguished not less for its wisdom than for its longevity. His code of laws received additions and improvements during the reigns of Egbert, Alfred, and subsequent monarchs. It is a singular feature in the Anglo-Saxon statutes, that the penalty attaching to nearly all crimes was a pecuniary one, varying in amount according to the rank of the individual upon whom the offence was committed: the only offences for which death was awarded, being treason, wilful murder, and theft. The humanity evinced in the enactments of later times must have been at a very low ebb, to have added to this short list many crimes for which execution was deemed the most proper punishment. When the day arrives on which capital punishments are wholly abolished, England may lay claim to the honour of having expunged from her statute-book that which had been venerated because of its ancient institution, and perpetuated because of its supposed efficiency.
The Anglo-Saxon crown was hereditary; but in some instances, provided the consent of the General Assembly were obtained, the throne might be occupied by those out of the direct line of royal blood. The coronation did not take place, as now, soon after the proclamation, but at the most suitable time, and occasionally in the open air. Many of the earlier monarchs were never crowned, while others personally performed the ceremony. Their principal prerogatives comprised the appointments both civil and military, the pardoning of criminals, the coining of money, and the right to confirm or annul laws proposed by the General Assembly.
The public revenue was obtained from three sources—taxes (levied according to the necessities of the state), the contribution of produce to the royal household, and the funds derivable from crown property: These receipts were, for a long period, fully equal to maintain the exalted position which a sovereign should occupy; but with the improvements gradually introduced into the military and naval departments, and the ambition on the part of kings to acquire foreign possessions, so the national disbursements augmented, and thus the comparatively light taxation imposed during the first few centuries of England's history, rose into a regular and heavy infliction of rates.
It appears, then, that the Saxon government formed the ground plan of our present constitution--a constitution that has always been Britain's most powerful bulwark, and against which tyranny may in vain level its attacks, despotism
in vain attempt to array its imperious rule: which neither the undisciplined ardour of the mob can injure, nor the assaults of the democrat destroy. It is worthy of remark, that though the Commonwealth was ably sustained for nearly twelve years by the talents of Cromwell alone, whose foreign policy is generally allowed to have been of the most successful character, yet the nation hailed with enthusiasm the accession of a prince belonging to the rightful line of kings; and many of those who were the Protector's most zealous supporters during his administration, became, after his decease, his most vehement detractors. Not only the British Commonwealth, but the French republic failed to enlist the popular sympathy and support, because Cromwell disregarded the House of Commons, through which alone the people's voice could be manifested, while Buona parte sacrificed peace, humanity, justice, and his country's prosperity, to ambition and lust for military conquests. Useless is the task of endeavouring to impose upon a nation that has once tasted the sweets of liberty a despotism, the invariable and continual tendency of which, must be to lessen freedom, to fetter the industrial energies of the people, and to substitute an unmixed evil for the benefit of a wise legislation.
Having thus glanced at some of the features of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy, we shall more particularly advert to the life of Egbert, the first English sovereign. The fact of his being the sole descendant of Cerdic, the illustrious founder of the West Saxon Kingdom, and the esteem with which he was regarded by the subjects of that state, not only naturally indicated that he would be their future monarch, but excited the envy of Bertric, the then reigning prince. Placed in this awkward position, Egbert wisely determined to retire to France, and there perfect his military knowledge, soften his rude Saxon manners, and cultivate those qualities which would enable him, with greater facility, to centre in one person the dominion of the Heptarchy. In no way could he have more effectually attained these objects than by visiting the refined court of Charlemagne, and rendering himself conversant with that monarch's enlightened administration. He remained there about twelve years, but on the death of Bertric, his countrymen despatched an embassy to solicit his occupation of the crown of his ancestors. To this request he acceded, and ascended the throne of Wessex in the year 800. This important kingdom comprised the counties of Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Dorsetshire; and while the other states of the Heptarchy had been rendered more or less tributary to Mercia, Wessex and its dependency, Sussex, continued secure from the inroads of the neighbouring powers.
Although the first few years of Egbert's reign were devoted, not to war, nor to the extension of his dominions, but to arranging the affairs of his subjects, he lost no opportunity, by means of which he might consummate the policy most congenial with his ambition. Before long, he collected his troops, and advanced against the Cornish Britons, whom he defeated at Camelford, in the year 809; and thus crushed in the bud that opposition which they, if unsubdued, would have offered to his subsequent designs.
It may readily be supposed that the original inhabitants of England should view with some little distrust the growing power of the Saxons, and endeavour as much to frustrate their schemes as to weaken their influence. Such was the procedure, not only of the Britons, but especially of the Welsh, who, deploring the downfal of their regal line, harrassed the Saxon princes on every available occasion.
The victory previously mentioned formed the prelude to others of a more important nature; for in 824 Egbert totally defeated the Mercians at Hellendun, conquered the counties of Kent and Essex, and annexed them to his own dominions. The kingdoms of East Anglia and Northumberland having been long involved in anarchy, peacefully surrendered themselves to the conqueror of the Heptarchy. They swore allegiance to the victorious Egbert, who, in order to render his government more popular, granted them, together with Mercia, the privilege of electing their rulers, on the condition of their being