Page images

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 fell prostrate before them. They groaned ; they wept aloud; and the clamour of their mourning passed the gates of the city, and was heard throughout the camp.

At length Saint Pierre and his fellow victims appeared under the conduct of Sir WALTER and his guard. All the tents of the English were instantly emptied. The soldiers poured from all parts, and arranged themselves on each side, to admire this little band of patriots as they passed. They murmured their applause of that virtue which they could not but revere even in enemies ; and they regarded those ropes which they had assumed about their necks, as ensigns of greater dignity than that of the British Garter.

As soon as they had reached the royal presence, “ MAUNY,(says the king), “ are these the principal inhabitants of Calats?” “ They are,” (says MauNY): “ they are not only the principal men of Calais; they

the principal men of FRANCE, my lord, if virtue " has any share in the act of ennobling.

« Were they 65 delivered peaceably.(says EDWARD);


was there

4 U 2

6 no

66 Not

no resistance, no commotion among the peoplein the least, my lord. They are self-delivered, felf-devoted, and come to offer up their inestimable heads, as an ample equivalent for the ransom of thousands."

The king, who was incensed at the difficulty of the fiege, ordered them to be carried to immediate execution ; nor could all the remonftrances of his courtiers divert him from his purpose.—But what neither a regard to his. own interelt and honour, the dictates of justice, nor the feelings of humanity could effect, was accomplished by the influence of conjugal affection. The queen, who was then advanced in pregnancy, being informed of the particulars respecting the fix victims, flew into her husband's presence, threw herself on her knees before him, and, with tears in her eyes, besought him not to stain his character with an indelible mark of infamy, by committing such a barbarous deed. EDWARD could refuse nothing to a wife whom he fo tenderly loved, and efpecially in her situation; and the queen, not satisfied with having faved the lives of the fix burghers, conducted them to her tent, where the applauded their virtue, regaled them plentifully, and having made them a present of money and clothes, sent them back to their fellowcitizens.


[blocks in formation]

PĻEASURE and PAIN, says FONTENELLE, which are two sentiments so different in themselves, differ not much in their cause. From the instances of tickling, it appears, that the movement of pleasure, pushed a little too far, becomes pain; and that the movement of pain a little moderated be. comes pleasure.

It is by sympathy that we enter into the concerns of others; that we are moved as they are moved, and are never suffered to be indifferent spectators of almost any thing which men can do or suffer. For sympathy must be considered as a sort of substitution, by which we are put into the place of another man, and affected in many respects as he is affected. It is by this principle chiefly that poetry, painting, and the other arts of peace, transfuse their passions from one breast to another, and are often capable of exciting a delight from wretchedness, misery, and even death itself. This taken as a fact, has been the cause of much reasoning. The satisfaction has been

commonly commonly attributed, first, to the comfort we receive in considering that so melancholy a story is no more than a fiction; and next, to the contemplation of our own freedom from the evils which we see represented. But I believe the nearer any tragedy approaches to reality, and the further it removes us from any idea of fiction, the more exquisite is the gratification. Do we not read the authentic histories of scenes of this nature with as much pleasure as romances or poems, where the incidents are fictitious ?' The prosperity of no empire, nor the grandeur of no king, can so agreeably affect in the reading, as the ruin of the state of Macedon, and the distress of its unhappy prince. Such a catastrophe touches us in history as much as the destruction of Troy does in fable. Our delight, in cases of this kind, is very greatly heightened, if the sufferer be some excellent person, who finks under an unworthy fortune. SCIPIO and Cato are both virtuous characters; but we are more deeply affected by the violent death of the one, and the ruin of the great cause he adhered to, than with the deserved triumphs and uninterrupted prosperity of the other; for every emotion of the mind produces delight, except when the sensation presses upon us too close.


Thus Lord CLARENDON, when he approaches towards the catastrophe of the royal party, supposes that his narration must then become infinitely disagreeable; and he hurries over the beheading of King CHARLES, without giving us one circumstance of his death. He considers it as too horrid a scene to be contemplated with any fatisfaction, or even without the utmost pain and averfion. He himself, as well as the readers of that age, were too deeply concerned in the events, and felt a pain, which an historian and a reader of another age would regard as the most pathetic and interesting, and by consequence the most agreeable.

Nature has formed us for activity, and the emotions of the soul are sources of delight, be the exciting causes what they will: for I am convinced, we have a degree of delight, and that no small one, in the real misfortunes and pains of others; for let the affection be what it will in appearance, if it does not make us fly from them, in this case I conceive we must have a delight or pleasure of some species or other. If this passion was simply painful, we should fhun, with the greatest care, all persons and places that could excite such a sensation. But the case is widely


« PreviousContinue »