« ElőzőTovább »
inflamed the vulgar. When his messenger, Sir Walter Mauny, delivered the terms, consternation and pale dismay were impressed on every countenance. To a long and dead silence, deep sighs and groans succeeded, till Eustace St. Pierre, getting up to a little eminence, thus addressed the assembly: My friends, we are brought to great straits this day. We must either yield to the terms of our cruel and ensnaring conquerer, or give up our tender infants, our wives and daughters, to the bloody and brutal lusts of the violating soldiers. Is there any expedient left, whereby we may avoid the guilt and infamy of delivering up those who have suffered every misery with you, on the one hand;—or the desolation and horror of a sacked city on the other? There is, my friends; there is one expedient left; a gracious, an excellent, a godlike expedient! Is there any here to whom virtue is dearer than life ?-Let him offer himself an oblation for the safety of his people! He shall not fail of a blessed approbation from that Power, who offered up his only Son, for the salvation of mankind." He spoke-but an universal silence ensued. Each man looked around for the example of that virtue and magnanimity, which all wished to approve in themselves, though they wanted the resolution. At length St. Pierre resumed, "I doubt not there are many here as ready, nay, more zealous of this martyrdom, than I can be; though the station to which I am raised, by the captivity of Lord Vienne, imparts a right to be the first in giving my life for your sakes. I give it freely; -I give it cheerfully. Who comes next?" "Your son,' exclaimed a youth, not yet come to maturtiy." Ah, my child!" cried St. Pierre, "I am then twice sacrificed.-But no:-1 have rather begotten thee a second time. Thy years are few, but full, my son. The victim of virtue has reached the utmost purpose and goal of mortality. Who next, my friends? This is the hour of heroes." "Your kinsman," cried John de Aire. "Your kinsman," cried James Wissant. "Your kinsman," cried Peter Wissant.-" Ah!" exclaimed Sir Walter Mauny, bursting into tears, "Why was not I a citizen of Calais !" The sixth victim was still wanting, but was quickly supplied by lot, from numbers who were now emulous of so ennobling an example. The keys of the city were then delivered to Sir Walter. He took the six prisoners into his custody; then ordered the gates to be opened, and gave charge to his attendants to conduct the remaining citizens, with their families, through the camp of
the English. Before they departed, however, they desired permission to take their last adieu of their deliverers.-What a parting! What a scene! They crowded, with their wives and children, about St. Pierre and his fellow prisoners.-They embraced-they clung around-they fell prostrate before them. They groaned-they wept aloud-and the joint clamour of their mourning passed the gates of the city, and was heard throughout the English camp. The English, by this time, were apprized of what passed within Calais. They heard the voice of lamentation, and their souls were touched with compassion. Each of the soldiers prepared a portion of his own victuals, to welcome and entertain the half-famished inhabitants; and they loaded them with as much as their present weakness was able to bear, in order to supply them with sustenance by the way. At length St. Pierre and his fellow victims appeared under the conduct of Sir Walter and a guard. All the tents of the English were instantly emptied. The soldiers poured from all parts, and arranged themselves on each side, to behold, to contemplate, to admire, this little band of patriots, as they passed. They bowed down to them on all sides. They murmured their applause of that virtue, which they could not but revere, even in enemies; and they regarded those ropes which they had voluntarily assumed about their necks, as ensigns of greater dignity than that of the British garter.As soon as they had reached the presence, "Mauny," says the monarch," are these the principle inhabitants of Calais?""They are," says Mauny: "They are not only the principal men of Calais-they are the principal men of France, my Lord, if virtue has any share in the act of ennobling." "Were they delivered peaceably?" says Edward. "Was there no resistance, no commotion among the people?" "Not in the least, my Lord; the people would all have perished, rather than have delivered the least of these to your majesty. They are self-delivered, self-devoted; and come to offer up their inestimable heads, as an ample equiv alent for the ransom of thousands." Edward was secretly piqued at this reply of Sir Walter: but he knew the privi ledge of a British subject, and suppressed his resentment. "Experience," says he, " has ever shown, that lenity only serves to invite people to new crimes. Severity, at times, is indispensably necessary to compel subjects to submission, by punishment and example. Go," he cried to an officer, "lead these men to execution."
At this instant a sound of triumph 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. The stage on which they would suffer, would be to them a stage of honour, but a stage of shame to Edward; a reproach on his conquests; an indelible disgrace to his name.-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, you 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 persons 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 tokens 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 St. Pierre; it is now that I tremble for you, Edward only wins our cities, but Phillippa conquers hearts."
I.-On Grace in Writing.
I WILL not undertake to mark out, with any sort of precision, that idea which I would express by the word Grace; and perhaps it can no more be clearly described,than justly defined. To give you, however, a general intimation of what I mean, when I apply that term to compositions of genius, I would resemble it to that easy air, which so remarkably distinguishes certain persons of a genteel and liberal cast. It consists not only in the particular beauty of single parts, but arises from the general symmetry and construction of the whole.-An author may be just in his sentiments, lively in his figures, and clear in his expression; yet may have no claim to be admitted into the rank of finished writers. The several members must be so agreeably united, as mutually to reflect beauty upon each other; their arrangement must be so happily disposed, as not to admit of the least transposition, without manifest prejudice io the entire piece. The thoughts, the metaphors, the allusions, and the diction, should appear easy and natural, and seem to arise like so many spontaneous productions, rather than as the effects of art or labour.
Whatever, therefore, is forced or affected in the sentiments; whatever is pompous or pedantic in the expression, is the very reverse of Grace. Her mien is neither that of a prude nor coquette; she is regular without formality, and sprightly, without being fantastical. Grace, in short, is to good writing, what a proper light is to a fine picture: It not only shows all the figures in their several proportions and
relations, but shows them in the most advantageous man
As gentility, (to resume my former illustration) appears in the minutest action, and improves the most inconsiderable gesture; so grace is discovered in the placing even the single word, or the turn of a mere expletive. Neither is this inexpressible quality confined to one species of composition only, but extends to all the various kinds;-to the humble pastoral, as well as to the lofty epic;-from the slightest letter, to the most solemn discourse.
I know not whether Sir William Temple may not be considered as the first of our prose authors, who introduced a graceful manner into our language. At least that quality does not seem to have appeared early, or spread far among us. But wheresoever we may look for its origin, it is certainly to be found in its highest perfection, in the essays of a gentlemen, whose writings will be distinguished so long as politeness and good sense have any admirers. That becoming air which Tully esteemed the criterion of fine composition, and which every reader, he says, imagines so easy to be imitated, yet will find so difficult to attain, is the prevailing characteristic of all that excellent author's most elegant performances. In a word, one may justly apply to him what Plato, in his allegorical language, says of Aristophanes, that the Graces, having searched all the world round for a temple, wherein they might forever dwell, settled at last in the breast of Mr. Addison.
II. On the Structure of Animals.
THOSE who were skilful in anatomy among the ancients, concluded from the outward and inward make of a human body, that it was the work of a being transcendently wise and powerful. As the world grew more enlightened in this art, their discoveries gave them fresh opportunities of admiring the conduct of Providence, in the formation of a human body. Galen was converted by his dissections, and could not but own a Supreme Being, upon a survey of his handy work. There were, indeed, many parts of which the old anatomists did not know the certain use; but as they saw that most of those which they examined were adapted, with admirable art, to their several functions, they did not question but those, whose uses they could not determine, were contrived with the same wisdom, for respective ends and purposes. Since the circulation of the blood has been