« PreviousContinue »
in his realm ; curbing licentiousness with a strong. hand, which, in the tumultuous state of his government, was a great and difficult work.
How well he performed it, we may learn even from the testimony of a contemporary Saxon historian, who says, that during his reign, a man might have travelled in perfect security all over the kingdom, with his bosom full of gold; nor durst any kill another, in re-. venge of the greatest offences, nor offer violence to the chastity of a woman. But it was a poor compensation, that the highways were safe, when the courts of justice were dens of thieves, and when almost every man in authority, or in office, used his power to oppress and pillage the people.
The king himself did not only tolerate, but encourage, support, and even share these extortions. Though the greatness of the ancient landed estate of the crown, and the feudal profits to which he was legally entitled, rendered him one of the richest monarchs in Europe, he was not content with all that opulence; but by authorizing the sheriffs, who collected his revenues in the several counties, to practise the most grievous vexa ations and abuses, for the raising of them higher, by a perpetual auction of the crown lands : so that none of his tenants could be secure of possession, if any other would come and offer more ; by various iniquities in the court of Exchequer, which was entirely Norman; by forfeitures wrongfully taken; and, lastly, by arbitrary and illegal taxations, he drew into his treasury much too great a proportion of the wealth of his kingdom.
It must, however, be owned, that if his avarice was insatiably and unjustly rapacious, it was not meanly parsimonious, nor of that sordid kind, which brings on a prince dishonour and contempt. He supported the dignity of his crown with a decent magnificence, and though he never was lavish, he sometimes was liberal, anore especially to his soldiers and to the church. But
looking on money as a necessary means of maintaining and increasing power, he desired to accumulate as much as he could, rather, perhaps, from an ambitious than a covetous nature; at least his avarice, was subservient to his ambition, and he laid up wealth in his coffers, as he did arms in his magazines, to be drawn out, when any proper occasion required it, for the defence and enlargement of his dominions. -. Upon the whole, he had many great qualities, but few virtues ; and if those actions which most particularly distinguish the man or the king are impartially considered, we shall find, that in his character, there is much to admire, but still more to abhor.
THE BIRTH OF SENSIBILITY.
NE beautiful serene summer evening, after ram
bling in a grove of laurels till the lamp of night arose and gilded the objects around me, I seated myself on the banks of a winding river. A weepingwillow spread over me its branches, which, drooping, swept the stream. An antique tower, partly in ruins, mantled in ivy, and surrounded with yew and cypress, was the only building to be seen.
I had been reading a melancholy tale, which, in strong colours, impressed itself on my memory, and led me to reflect on the strange pleasure we sometimes feel in perusing the most tragical story.
- What,” can occasion it? Can the human heart-delight in the misfortunes of another? Forbid it, Heaven!” My eyes were fixed on the surface of the water : the soft beams of Luna sported on the waves ; all Nature seemed hushed to repose : when a gentle slumber stole over my senses, and methought a being, of an angelic form, seated herself beside me. A mantle, of the palest sapphire, hung over her shoulders to the ground; auburn hair fell in waving curls on her fine neck; and a white veil, almost transparent, shaded her face: as she lifted it up, she sighed, and continued for some moments silent. Never did I behold a countenance so delicate; and, notwithstanding a smile played upon her coral lips, her lovely blue eyes were surcharged with tears, and resembled violets dropping with dew. Beneath her veil she wore a wreath of jasmine and mingled amaranths.
“ Wonder not,” said she, in accents soft as the breath of Zephyr, “ that a state of woe can please. I ain called Sensibility, and have been from infancy your constant companion. My sire was Humanity, and my Mother Sympathy. I (the offspring of their loves) was born in a cavern, overshadowed by myrtles and orange trees, at the foot of Parnassus, and consigned to the care of Melpomene, who fed me with honey from Hybla, and lulled me to rest with plaintive songs and melancholy music. On one side of the cavern ran a stream from Helicon, and in the trees around it the doves and nightingales built their nests. I make it my sole care to augment the felicity of some favoured mortals, who, nevertheless, repine at my influence, and would gladly be under the dominion of Apathy. Alas! how inconsiderate! If the rose has thorns, has it not a vermeil tincture and ambrosial sweetness? If the woodbine droops, laden with the dew-drops of the morning, when the sun has exhaled them, will it not be refreshed, and breathe richer fragrance? So if a heart be touched with a story of distress, it will at the same time experience delightful sensations. If the tears often flow, say, can you call it weakness? Can you wish to be divested of this genuine test of tenderness, and desire the departure of Sensibility ?"
"Ah! no, fair nymph!--still deign to be my at
tendant: teach me to sigh with the wretched, and with the happy to rejoice. I am now sensible that the pleasure which arises from the legends of Sorrow, owes its origin to the certain knowledge that our hearts are not callous to the finer feelings; but that we have some generous joys, and generous cares, beyond ourselves!”
Scarcely had I pronounced these words, when the loud tolling of the village. bell broke the fetters in which Morpheus had bound me, and dispelled the airy illusion,
THE FEMALE SEX DESCRIBED.
H! how little acquainted are they with the laws
of Nature, who, in their opinion of the two sexes, look for nothing further than the pleasures of sense! They are only culling the flowers of life, without once tasting its fruit. The fair sex!--that is tho phrase of our men of pleasure; women are known to them under no other idea. But the sex is fair only to persons who have no other faculty except that of eyesight. Besides this, it is (to those who have a heart) the creative sex, which, at the peril of life, carries man for nine months in the womb : and the cherishing sex, which suckles him, and cherishes him in infancy. It is the pious sex, which conducts him to the altar while he is yet a child, and teaches him to draw in, with the milk of the breast, the love of religion, which the cruel policy of men would frequently render odious to him. It is the pacific sex, which sheds not the blood of a fellow-creature; the sympathizing sex, which ministers to the sick, and handles without hurting them!
JUSTICE VANQUISHING THE FORCE OF
A PERSIAN TALE.
PERSIAN monarch, highly celebrated for hu
manity, had his army encamped upon the plains of Avala; and one day, as he was walking unattended by his guards, he was accosted by a peasant, who appeared to be labouring under affliction.
The man, after apologizing for the temerity of his conduct, briefly informed the Sultan of the injury he had sustained : and, after expatiating upon the beauty and fidelity of his wife, told him that an officer had forcibly entered his dwelling, and, after driving him from the presence of the object of his affection, had compelled her to listen to his illicit love.
The Sultan, shocked at this instance of depravity, instantly resolved to punish the perpetrator of it; but as the man was not able to identify the person of the aggressor, it was necess
essary to act with caution and circumspection. After assuring the peasant that he would avenge the injury he had sustained, and make an example of the man who had destroyed his repose, he desired him not to mention the affair to any one; but if the officer presumed to repeat his visits, instantly to fly to him for protection.
Satisfied with this assurance of his Sovereign's favour, the poor man gratefully retired; and as several days elapsed without his receiving any molestation, he began to fear that he should not be able to discover his insidious rival. At length, however, he perceived him enter, and again he was banished from his peaceful home. But instead of wandering round the spot