Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

fifty minutes after he had left the cockpit, returned, and again taking the hand of his dying friend and commander, congratulated him on having gained a complete victory. How many of the enemy were taken he did not know, as it was impossible to perceive them distinctly, but fourteen or fifteen at least. - That's well,” cried Nelson, “ but I bargained for twenty.” And then, in a stronger voice, he said : “Anchor, Hardy, anchor." Hardy, upon this, hinted that Admiral Collingwood would take upon himself the direction of affairs. “ Not while I live, Hardy,” said the dying Nelson, ineffectually endeavouring to raise himself from the bed : “ do you anchor.” His previous orders for preparing to anchor had shown how clearly he foresaw the necessity of this. Presently calling Hardy back, he said to him in a low voice, “ Don't throw me overboard ;” and he desired that he might be buried by his parents, unless it should please the king to order otherwise. Then reverting to private feelings : " Take care of my dear Lady Hamilton, Hardy ; take care of poor Lady Hamilton. Kiss me, Hardy,” said he. Hardy knelt down and kissed his cheek ; and Nelson said, “Now I am satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty !” Hardy stood over him in silence for a moment or two, then knelt again and kissed his forehead. " Who is that ?" said Nelson ; and being informed, he replied, “God bless you, Hardy.” And Hardy then left him for ever. Nelson now desired to be turned upon his right side, and said, “I wish I had not left the deck ; for I shall soon be gone.” indeed, rapidly approaching. He said to the chaplain, “ Doctor, , I have not been a great sinner ;” and after

66 Remember that I leave Lady Hamilton and my daughter Horatia as a legacy to my country.” His articulation now became difficult; but he was distinctly heard to say, “ Thank God, I have done my duty!” These words he repeatedly pronounced, and they were the last words which he uttered. He expired at thirty minutes after four, three hours and a quarter after he had received his wound.

The death of Nelson was felt in England as something more than a public calamity ; men started at the intelligence, and turned pale, as if they had heard of the loss of a dear friend. An object of our admiration and affection, of our pride and of our hopes, was suddenly taken from us ; and it seemed as if we had never till then known how deeply we loved and reverenced hiin. What the country had lost in its great naval hero—the greatest of our own and of all former times—was scarcely taken into the

Death was,

short pause,

account of grief. So perfectly, indeed, had he performed his part, that the maritime war, after the battle of Trafalgar, was considered at an end.

The fleets of the enemy were not merely defeated but destroyed ; new navies must be built, and a new race of seamen reared for them, before the possibility of their invading our shores could again be contemplated. It was not, therefore, from any selfish reflection upon the magnitude of our loss that we mourned for him : the general sorrow was of a higher character.

The people of England grieved that funeral ceremonies, and public monuments, and posthumous rewards, were all which they could now bestow upon him whom the king, the legislature, and the nation would have alike delighted to honour ; whom every tongue would have blessed ; whose presence in every village through which he might have passed would have wakened the church-bells, have given schoolboys a holiday, have drawn children from their sports to gaze upon him, and “old men from the chimney-corner” to look upon Nelson ere they died. The victory of Trafalgar was celebrated indeed with the usual forms of rejoicing, but they were without joy ; for such already was the glory of the British navy, through Nelson's surpassing genius, that it scarcely seemed to receive any addition from the most signal victory that ever was achieved upon the seas; and the destruction of this mighty fleet, by which all the maritime schemes of France were totally frustrated, hardly appeared to add to our security or strength ; for while Nelson was living to watch the combined squadrons of the enemy, we felt ourselves as secure as now, when they were no longer in existence.

There was reason to suppose, from the appearances upon opening his body, that in the course of nature he might have attained, like his father, to a good old age. Yet he cannot be said to have fallen prematurely whose work was done ; nor ought he to be lamented, who died so full of honours, and at the height of human fame. The most triumphant death is that of the martyr; the most awful, that of the martyred patriot ; the most splendid, that of the hero in the hour of victory ; and if the chariot and the horses of fire had been vouchsafed for Nelson's translation, he could scarcely have departed in a brighter blaze of glory. He has left us, not indeed his mantle of inspiration, but a name and an example which are at this hour inspiring thousands of the youth of England—a name which is our pride, and an example which will continue to be our shield and our strength. Thus it is that the spirits of the great and the wise continue to live and to act after them.

READING.—(John LOCKE.) THERE is not seldom to be found, even amongst those who aim at knowledge, men, who with an unwearied industry employ their whole time in books, who scarce allow themselves time to eat or sleep, but read, and read, and read on, and yet make no great advances in real knowledge, though there be no defect in their intellectual faculties to which their little progress can be imputed. The mistake here is, that it is usually supposed that by reading, the author's knowledge is transferred into the reader's understanding; and so it is, but not by bare reading, but by reading and understanding what he writ. Whereby I mean, not barely comprehending what is affirmed or denied in each proposition (though that great readers do not think themselves concerned precisely to do), but to see and follow the train of his reasonings, observe the strength and clearness of their connexion, and examine upon what they bottom. Without this a man may read the discourses of a very rational author, writ in a language and in propositions that he very well understands, and yet acquire not one jot of his knowledge ; which consisting only in the perceived, certain, or probable connexion of the ideas made use of in his reasonings, the reader's knowledge is no further increased, than he perceives that, so much as he sees of this connexion, so much he knows of the truth or probability of that author's opinions.

MARIE ANTOINETTE, QUEEN OF FRANCE.—(BURKE.) It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles ; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in-glittering like the morning star full of life, and splendour, and joy. Oh! what a revolution ! and what a heart must I have to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall ! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to that enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom ; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leapt from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.

But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded ; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness.-From Reflections on the Revolution in France.

THE DEAD Ass.--(STERNE.) “And this,” said he (putting the remains of a crust into his wallet), —"and this should have been thy portion,” said he, “hadst thou been alive to have shared it with me. I thought, by the accent, it had been an apostrophe to his child, but it was to his ass ; and to the very ass we had seen dead on the road, which had occasioned La Fleur's misadventure. The man seemed to lament it much ; and it instantly brought into my mind Sancho's lamentation for his ; but he did it with more true touches of nature.

The mourner was sitting upon a stone bench at the door, with the ass's pannel and its bridle on one side, which he took up from time to time—then laid them down-looked at them, and shook his head. He then took his crust of bread out of his wallet again, as if to eat it, held it some time in his hand--then laid it upon the bit of his ass's bridle— looked wistfully at the little arrangements he had made, and then gave a sigh.

The simplicity of his grief drew numbers about him, and La Fleur among the rest, while the horses were getting ready : as I continued sitting in the post-chaise, I could see and hear over their heads.

He said he had come last from Spain, where he had been from the farthest borders of Franconia ; and had got so far on his return home, when the ass died. Every one seemed desirous to know what business could have taken so old and poor a man so far a journey from his own home.

It had pleased Heaven, he said, to bless him with three sons, the finest lads in all Germany ; but, having in one week lost two of them by the smallpox, and the youngest falling ill of the same distemper, he was afraid of being bereft of them all, and made a vow, if Heaven would not take him from him also, he would go in gratitude to St. Iago in Spain.

When the mourner got thus far in his story, he stopped, to pay nature her tribute, and wept bitterly.

He said Heaven had accepted the conditions, and that he had set out from his cottage with this poor creature, who had been a patient partner of his journey ; that it had eaten the same bread with him all the way, and was unto him as a friend.

Everybody who stood about heard the poor fellow with coucern ; La Fleur offered him money : The mourner said he did not want it--it was not the value of the ass, but the loss of him. The ass, he said he was assured, loved him ; and, upon this, told them a long story of a mischance upon their passage over the Pyrenean mountains, which had separated them from each other three days, during which time the ass had sought him as much as he had sought the ass, and that neither had scarce eaten nor drunk till they met.

“ Thou hast one comfort, friend," said I, “ at least, in the loss of thy poor beast ; I am sure thou hast been a merciful master to him.” “Alas !” said the mourner, “I thought so when he was alive, but now he is dead I think otherwise. I fear the weight of myself and my afflictions together, have been too much for him ; they have shortened the poor creature's days, and I fear I have them to answer for.”

Shame on the world ! (said I to myself.) but love each other as this poor soul loved his ass, 'twould be something

Did we

THE LOVE OF NATURE.—(DR. BEATTIE—Abridged.) It is strange to observe the callousness of some men, before whom all the glories of heaven and earth pass in daily succession,

« PredošláPokračovať »