Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

country shoes.

He had no sooner set his foot within Lady Augusta's elegant drawing-room, than he found himself unable to utter a word; not from bashfulness though, or even feeling towards Cecil May, but from the child nearly stifling him with her repeated hugs of joy, and welcome, and all sorts of pleasant reasons that prevented her speaking also. And I think, ma'am, it must have been quite a curious sight, and what you gentlefolks call a subject for a painter, that pretty little creature in her silk and lace, with her soft creamy cheeks, and long fair curls, clinging round the neck of a brown-faced old man in a coloured handkerchief and coarse checked shirt, who shaved but once a week! Besides, old Mark Jawley's no beauty, I can tell you, at the best of times.

“Oh! my dear Mr. Jawley ! cries Cecil, 'grandmamma has just given me the twenty pounds to do what I like with ; but you can see plain enough that I don't want twenty pounds now; and I'm sure that you do—that is, (and the little sensible thing began to colour up) in your business I mean, Mr. Jawley ; and you know very well it was you found out all about the starling; because I had never seen one before in my life ; so it's honestly and justly yours, Mr. Jawley ?'

“The poor old man's face was all mottled over with agitation ; and when he could take his eyes off the little girl, he bowed low to her ladyship, and seemed as though he didn't know which way to look at all.

“My heart alive!' he at last blurted out, only to hear her! and only to look at her! so pretty and genteel! and dressed as she ought to be. But I humbly hope your ladyship will pardon my boldness for taking notice of Miss now.'

“Oh! don't–don't Mr. Jawley, please,' cries out Cecil, “pray don't call me Miss : for if it wasn't for dear grandmamma I'd change this fine frock for my patched one, and my old shabby bonnet that I wore when

you loved me; so call me Cecil, Mr. Jawley ; call me Cecil May as you used to do, or I shall think that you love me no longer.'

“ Mark could scarce stand this, as he often declares.

“My dear little girl!' he at last said: 'little Cecil May, then, if you wish it, God bless thee, my pretty one, and keep thee for many years to come. You're going to live now as is your right, my dear; and all my prayer is, that you may never forget what I said to you this very morning, about the ways of Providence. Never forget that, Cecil May, whatever befals you, never forget that; and poor old Mark Jawley can wish you no greater blessing all the days of your life!

“And now, madam, you may pretty well guess how happily was the ending for all parties ; not forgetting even the pretty starling, who, in his own handsome cage again, says · Cecil,

pretty Cecil,' to often remind both old and young how the simplest means can work out the most important ends. Her ladyship, I'm told, made a handsome addition to the twenty pounds presented by the grateful Cecil to her old friend, Mark Jawley. Mr. Oldways lost no time in arranging about the remains of the poor lady at the cottage, with every consideration due to the feelings of her repentant parent; and Miss Cecil May now rides about with her governess, as you saw her a while ago, for all the village to rejoice in her happy change of fortune, just at the time so much needed; and when you remember that, curious as it is, the circumstance is a real fact,*

ܪ

* The remarkable coincidence of facts of which the writer has availed herself is briefly as follows :- A poor widow, left in extreme destitution, on a night-watch by the remains of her deceased husband, was lamenting the utter hopelessness of her situation, yet with that pious trust ever the solace of the right-minded, when suddenly a little bird flew in at the open window, and settled upon the head of the corpse. There it remained till day-break, when it flew into her bosom. It proved to be a strayed favourite, for which a handsome reward had been offered; thus relieving the widow's immediate distress, and raising her up an opulent friend for the rest of her days. With this remarkable and pleasing anecdote the writer has been favoured by a talented friend, who has been much on the Continent, where it is well authenticated.

and an addition to the many wonderful proofs of Divine protection, I'm sure, madam, you'll kindly pardon my homely way of telling it; particularly when you call to mind that it isn't always fine words that signify, but their meaning in the lesson they serve to convey."

It seemed to me quite impossible not to heartily concur with the above reasoning, however, as my cottage-hostess had observed, simple its medium: and as the sun was by this time once more“ glorious in his strength,” and a light refreshing breeze had very expeditiously swept the pathway, I determined upon again pursuing my ramble. Accompanying my thanks, therefore, for the hospitality so timely rendered, with more solid tokens of acknowledgment, I turned from the cottage-door, with, I confess, my heart cheered, and spirits all the lighter, for the tale to which I had just listened : for surely it is always pleasant to hear of merited reward, just restitution, and the acknowledgment of error, by repentance and amendment. “ Yes,” I mentally ejaculated, “surely the rain is over and gone, and the flowers appear on the earth, when hearts thus unfold to the wakening light from heaven." It was in this pleasing frame that I paused to contemplate that redeeming loveliness of all earthly storms, the glorious heaven-tinted arch_type declared of His immutable covenant, who hath “set his bow in the clouds, as a sign for perpetual generations,” that “war shall cease to all the ends of the earth,” and “the voice of the turtle be heard in our land.”

ODE TO JUNE.
Month of the lovely Rose !
Whose lips of perfume, and of Summer joys,

Speak with an universal tongue ;
Kind antidote to Winter and its woes,
That with a sunny charm that never cloys,

And with a lustrous beam on all things flung,
Sends forth sweet Nature in a guise so gay,
As if the earth held general holiday, —

How the pulse quickens,

And the heart beats high ;
How sickness sickens
Into ruddy health,

As the unclouded sky
Unfurls its canopy of brightest blue,
Spread o'er the treasury of thy commonwealth.

Birds, Beasts, and Man
Feel the strong impulse of the glowing scene;

Each living atom of Creation's plan,
Beheld by philosophic eye serene,

Seems maddened to the view.
In every sphere, position, place, and station,
Joy holds dominion o'er a smiling nation.

PORTAL OF SUMMER! for thou truly art
The door that leads to Flora's flowery shrine-
Some might be tempted much to pass thee by
Unthank’d, and all unsung ; but I
Must not thus

ght thy golden month divine.
In haste I've flung this simple rosary,

Wove from the gushing homage of my heart:
For HEALTH, for HAPPINESS, for MIND IN TUNE,
Still will I sing thy praises-lovely, lovely JUNE.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

OF

THE KINGS

KINGS OF ENGLAND.

EDWARD I., ATHELSTAN, EDMUND I., EDRED, EDWY, EDGAR, EDWARD

II., ETHELRED II., EDMUND II.

The history of the monarch is the history of the age in which he lives. Some sovereigns exert an influence, far and wide, not only over their own country, but over the dominions of foreign potentates; others are content to follow in the tracks of their predecessors, caring little about their subjects' wants, apathetic upon all matters affecting the public weal, satisfying every lawless inclination and vice, and leaving the kingdom to be governed by the sycophant courtiers who pander to their vicious tastes. Such were the kings from whom the ranks of despots and tyrants have been recruited, who have retarded, instead of advanced, their country's welfare, and who have ever formed the stumblingblocks to the progress of civilisation. Such, too, were some of the monarchs whose names are placed at the head of this article.

Edward I., Alfred's eldest son, ascended the throne in the year 901. His right to the crown was disputed by Ethelwald, the son of Ethelred I., but his claim was soon extinguished by his defeat and death, and that of several of his adherents, in an attack near Bury. This victory enabled the king to conclude an advantageous peace with the disaffected East Anglian Danes, who, in common with the Northumbrians, had proved themselves a very troublesome people. But success never forsook his military exertions. He reduced them to submission, obliged the Scottish king to acknowledge his supremacy, and, in conjunction with his heroic sister Ethelfled, devoted his energies to fortifying his dominions. Truly, the mantle of Alfred descended upon the person of this masculine-minded lady. For more than ten years she ruled the kingdom of Mercia with surprising wisdom; was ever foremost in quelling the Danish insurrections in her territory; and, by her sound advice and comprehensive intellect, she not only aided Edward, but proved herself worthy of her illustrious ancestry. After her death, in 992, the Northumbrian Danes assailed her late dominions. The king's troops, however, commanded by his sons, Athelstan, Edmund, and Edred, encountered them, and though they obtained no decided advantage, yet Mercia was freed from the presence of the invaders. A very important victory was shortly after gained over the Danes, who had penetrated into Wales, with the hope of conquering that country. A battle ensued in Sher

Forest, the insurgents were vanquished, and the heads of the two leaders fixed upon the gates of Chester !

At this period the pontifical power was materially felt in England. The absence of bishops over the West Saxons provoked the displeasure of Pope Formosus, who pronounced a malediction upon the king and his subjects. A council was immediately convened. Plegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, was despatched upon a pilgrimage to Rome, to bestow gifts upon his holiness (which of course appeased his anger), and on his return seven additional bishops were appointed to preside over the principal cities in Wessex. Would that ecclesiastical affairs had occupied less of the public attention. The spirit of Christianity is complete toleration to all religious sects and classes, but it seems to have been the policy of the pope and his subordinates to expel every species of religion, except that of which they were the time-honoured representatives.

Edward died at Faringdon, in the twenty-fourth year of his reign, leaving his dominions in tranquillity and prosperity. Winchester Cathedral contains his remains. Though the son of the renowned Alfred, he did not inherit his father's manifold intellectual excellen ies. He was careful in the education of his children, of whom there were five sons and nine daughters. One of his sons devoted himself to literature, and in that respect resembled his grandfather ; but, excepting Athelstan, their education did not exercise so beneficial an influence over them as we might reasonably have anticipated. His administration was wise, vigorous, and on the whole successful; he fortified the principal towns, introduced improvements in the law, promoted the matrimonial alliance of the Continental sovereigns with the English royal family-one of his daughters having become the consort of Charles, the French monarch-and consolidated his power by the favourable results of his numerous military enterprises. Though he held direct sway over a larger extent of territory than his predecessor, he appears to have kept his people in subjection more from the force of his arms than from the esteem with which they regarded him.

Athelstan, his eldest son, having been elected king, was crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the market-place of Kingston-upon-Thames, A.D. 925. He was born in the year 895, and, from his engaging manners, as well as considerable mental endowments, he became a great favourite with his grandfather Alfred, who, according to William of Malmesbury, "devoutly prayed that his government might be prosperous," and "gave him a scarlet cloak, a belt studded with diamonds, and a Saxon sword with a golden scabbard.” In this courtly manner was the young prince dedicated to a military life. He did not disappoint the favourable hopes that were entertained of his future administration, for shortly after his accession he rendered Northumberland still more tributary to Wessex than had previously been the case; he demolished the Danish fortress erected at York, and distributed the spoils obtained by his conquests among his troops, thus weakening the Danish, but strengthening the English power. From the Welsh, who again attempted to throw off their allegiance, he exacted a yearly tribute of twenty pounds of gold, three hundred pounds of silver, and five thousand oxen, besides limiting the boundary of their country to the river Wye, and that of the West Britons to the river Tamar. This last measure was necessary to repress the insurgent spirit of the Cornish men, some of whom, as well as those inhabiting the contiguous counties, having settled in Exeter, and shown themselves rather a formidable people, he compelled to evacuate that city; after which, he surrounded it with fortifications, and, from its favourable position as a place for commerce, it soon rose into importance, and became a wealthy trading town.

There was, however, in Athelstan's administration, a dark blot, which neither the extent of his munificence, nor the glory of his reign, will ever obliterate. We refer to his treatment of his eldest brother, Edwin. Though the latter repeatedly professed his fidelity and adherence, the king believed he sought to dethrone him; to avert which, he expelled him from the country, by placing him, and his presumed accomplice, in a boat, without rudder or oars, and committing them to the fury of the ocean.

Edwin threw himself into the sea; but his attendant rescued his corpse, and by some means landed it near Dover. This escape, deemed by Athelstan a judgment of Providence for his inhuman deed, excited in the heart of the unnatural brother great remorse; and induced him to undergo a penance of seven years, in the hope of expiating a crime of such magnitude. The old chronicler, William of Malmesbury, throws considerable doubt over the truth of this circumstance, on account of the affection which Athelstan evinced towards his other brothers, and the care which he exercised over their education; but we see no reason to coincide in this opinion, especially as there are numerous instances on record, in which the ties of relationship have been disregarded and the most sacred promises broken, in order to obtain the object that ambition, or self-interest, may have prompted those concerned to possess,

In the present case, Athelstan feared that his regal position might have been endangered by Edwin's alleged hostility, and, therefore, scrupled not to resort to any expedient which would rid him of his foe, although that foe was his brother.

We next find the English monarch quelling the storm which gathered in the dominions of Constantine, the Scotch king. He had formed the design, in

conjunction with a tributary prince, of invading Athelstan's territories; but the latter soon restored peace, and, as an earnest of his intentions to submit to the conqueror's authority, Constantine sent his son with numerous presents to the West-Saxon Court. During the interregnum of tranquillity that now followed, Athelstan aided his nephew, Louis IV. (son of Charles the Simple), in establishing him on the French throne. In the meanwhile, however, the Scotch king, with several of the neighbouring chiefs, and a large body of Danish pirates, entered into a coalition to descend upon the northern part of England; and, after four years of active preparation, they commenced the campaign by sailing up the Humber in six hundred and fifteen ships, computed to contain thirty thousand troops. A battle ensued at Brunsbury, where Athelstan, surrounded by a brave and large army, overthrew the enemy: the engagement continued from sunrise to sunset-a great number of the assailants perished, including five kings, twelve earls, and warriors of minor rank. Constantine escaped, but his eldest son was killed. The fame of this victory has been celebrated in poetry by the Saxon bards: they have commemorated the exploit in enthusiastic language, and handed it down to posterity as a matter worthy of exciting the “spirit of song.”

Athelstan having now calmed all opposition, held the sceptre in the utmost security. Not only was his sovereignty over England readily acknowledged ; but the important position which the island assumed by the supremacy of his arms, led the European monarchs to regard him with more than ordinary admiration. Harold, King of Norway, whose son, Haco, was educated at the Saxon court, presented him with a ship, having a golden prow, sails of costly manufacture, and surrounded with gilded shields. Harold's ambassadors were entertained at York, in a style of magnificence, that proved the wealth which the country possessed.

This singularly-fortunate prince died on the 22nd of October, A. D. 940, at the age of forty-six; and after an admirable reign of fifteen years. The brilliant character of his administration, both with respect to civil and military affairs, will challenge comparison with that of many of his most able predecessors. He promoted learning, commerce, and agriculture, regarded with special attention the rights of the poor, modified the legislative enactments, and gave large donations to the church, for which the monkish historians have not failed to depict his life in glowing colours. Much of the splendour associated with his name arose from the connections which his sisters, with his wish, formed with the Continental sovereigns; one of them having married Otho the Great, Emperor of Germany, who governed with vigour and success for thirty-seven years, while some of the rest were allied to princes of less renown. Athelstan's body was taken from Gloucester (where he died), and interred at Malmesbury. We cannot more appropriately conclude this sketch than by quoting a few lines from an Anglo-Saxon poet, written on the occasion of his coronation, and to the truth of which the hero's life bore ample testimony :

“Of royal race, a noble stem

Has chased our darkness like a gem :
Great Athelstan, his country's pride,
Whose virtue never turns aside;
Sent by his father to the schools—
Patient he bore their rigid rules;
Next clothed in youth's attractive charms,
Studied the harsher lore of arms,
Which soon confessed his knowledge keen,
As after in the sovereign seen;
And called to guide the regal helm,

Like Edward, wisely ruled the realm." * Edmund the First, surnamed the Elder, succeeded to the throne, which his brother Athelstan had occupied with so much glory to himself and benefit to

* William of Malmesbury's chronicle.

« AnteriorContinuar »