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such a ruthful ryot," that they were let out ; and then the “lord cardinal” took leave of them-not with solemn form and priestly blessing--but with tears," shaking every one by the hand." No such love did his brutal master ever obtain, for no such kindliness was he capable of feeling. Most of us have a strange notion that Wolsey was an old man, but he never saw threescore years. He had but just completed his fifty-ninth year when he died.
Gorgeous was Wolsey's whole plan ; the great quadrangle is the largest in England ; for the college chapel he took the chief church in Oxford, and his scholars were a hundred and one. We watched with much interest, the first night we spent in Oxford, for the first stroke of “mighty Tom,” who each night a booms” his hundred and one tolls to summon the students home, just as he did three hundred and thirty years, and more, ago. The tone is very fine, though not so deep as St. Paul's; and the effect, tolling on, tolling on, through the now deserted streets-for few students remained-was strangely solemn.
A fine hall, with fan-traceried ceiling, supported by a beautiful clustered pillar, leads to the staircase, wide enough, as the saying is, “ for a coach and six;" and this leads to the “Westminster hall of Oxford,” the stately hall of Christ Church. How many a crowned head, how many a greater uncrowned one, has stood in this hall ! Here Elizabeth listened to long speeches in choice Latin, and answered in still choicer Greek. Here Charles kept his court, until he went forth to the fatal battle of Naseby; and then this hall welcomed the great leaders of the Parliament army. Fairfax was received here with fitting honours, and here that "ruler by God's grace and the might of his own mind," great Oliver, was feasted. That the victor of Naseby should become chancellor of Oxford has often awakened ridicule ; but a University which selected a Wellington to the same office, could scarcely, save from political prejudice, assert that a Cromwell was unfit. And here Charles II. laughed and revelled, and held his disgraceful parliament of 1681 ; and hither came James, anticipating the time when high mass would be sung in the cathedral hard by. But lengthened, indeed, would be the list of those celebrated in history, who have trod this hall. We must not, however, pass over the visit in 1814 of the “first gentleman in Europe," with the Emperor of Russia, and King of Prussia ; and how when, like the royal personages of a far older day, "his heart was merry with wine," he called for the college book, and condescendingly signed his name in it as student of Christ Church!
But how crowding are the historical recollections which make every walk about Oxford so suggestive. What memories of great men, of great events, of influences that are yet working around us, will even the inferior colleges the more remote streets supply. Here is pleasant Wadham, where Wren---marvellous youth, and marvellous old man-studied, and where Dr. Wilkins first suggested the plan of the Royal Society. And here is Pembroke College, close beside that venerable relic of the long past, St. Aldate's church. Pembroke College-where
the tall uncouth sizar, in threadbare coat and worn-out shoes, bore in proud silence the laugh of the ignorant, and the scorn of the purseproud, brave Samuel Johnson, who went forth to fight so nobly his stern life-battle,-never losing self-respect, never losing the respect of others, until Oxford and all England knew that in that struggling man of letters a true hero had fought his way. And here is Lincoln College, and, lingering in its pleasant garden, our eyes may rest upon the fair traceried windows of its chapel, and we may call to mind young John Wesley dutifully attending service there, unconscious as yet that not beneath fretted roofs, not within so-called “consecrated walls,” but in the crowded highway, and on the wide moor, he should call thousands to repentance. And here, too, at one of these study windows, his brother Charles might sit, poring over the Latin fathers, and dwelling upon those rich treasures of mediæval hymnology, until he caught their very echo in his beautiful hymns. And here George Whitfield, most warm-hearted of men, often met them for earnest prayer and Christian converse, while their scoffing fellow-students sung their riotous songs, and swore, and drank confusion to the Methodists. Very curious is it to mark, how Oxford, in so many instances, with the bane has provided also the antidote, even from the time when Wyckliffe lifted up his unsupported voice in her schools. She sent forth Ridley, and Latimer, as well as Gardiner ; and the same University that gave Land to the Church of England, gave Owen and Howe to the “church universal.” Filmer and Carte might stand forth to advocate “the right divine of kings to govern wrong," but a far nobler name, John Locke, stands foremost amongst the asserters of freedom. And strange is it that high church, Jacobite Oxford, should have nursed in her bosom those men who dealt the heaviest blow that “high churchism” had ever received --men who scattered “Methodism” broadcast over the length and breadth of the land ;-while only as yesterday, side by side with the mischievous teachings of Oriel College, came forth the nobler, the loftier teachings of one of its own members, Thomas Arnold.
No wonder that, with all these, and a thousand more, suggestive associations, Oxford is an interesting city. But, then, she is also the beautiful city; and thus is like a pleasant book, illustrated on every page by exquisite pictures. And passing along, not her noble High Street alone, but her quiet, picturesque side-streets and bye-ways, still there is something to attract the eye by its exceeding beauty-a beauty that we rarely meet with elsewhere. Fair arched gateways, giving glimpses within of gardens in one flush of gorgeous colouring; rich traceried windows, jutting out into sunny oriels ; antique porches, round which flowers twine, and where in old time the maiden sat twirling her distaff, or neighbour stood chatting with neighbour, as the sun went down. The endless variety of the domestic architecture of the Middle Ages strikes you here. From the quaint ornaments on the high pointed gable, to the decorations of the porch, their countless diversity and beauty bear testimony to the exhaustless
riches of that style which can “expand into a hall or shrink into a turret, coil into a staircase or spring into a spire, with undegraded grace and unexhausted energy : subtle, flexible, like a fiery serpent. but ever attentive to the voice of the charmer."
Many had been our pleasant visions of the “olden times," but the beautiful reality was before us now, as we wandered through those picturesque streets; and long could we have sojourned there-each day finding out some new historical association for our thoughts, some new object for our sketch-book. “Farewell, beautiful Oxford," was our parting thought, as we quitted the fair city ; “ peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces :" a nonconformist, the descendant of nonconformists, can yet heartily say, “ Peace be upon thee !"
THE EARTH'S OLD AGE.
The knell of another year will have tolled when these paragraphs meet the reader's eye. We grow older with every beat of the pendulum. The human structure is an apparatus which has been wound up for a brief run of three-score years and ten. For each of us, whose bodily machinery is permitted to play out its task without interruption, there must come a time when the vital force will begin to languish; when our capital of strength will appear to be exhausted; when the nervous power, which now works the limbs with such splendid efficiency, will trickle from its source in penurious driblets ; when the gateways of sensation will be obstructed, or some of them entirely closed; and when the mind, participating in the frailties of the frame, will perhaps squander its little remnant of vigour in the dreams and inanities of dotage.
Now, if old age produces its effects upon man and beast-upon tree and flower-why should it not tell upon the earth we inhabit! After sixty centuries of historic existence, to say nothing of the previous geological eras, would it be any wonder if the world had lost something of its sprightliness and vitality ? Or, if burdened with a load of infirmities, it were now sinking into a state of hopeless decrepitude !
Let us venture to sketch a few of the consequences which might be supposed to result, were the great forces of Nature—the agencies which give activity to the phenomena of our globe--subject to the law
of decline and decay. For the purposes of this waking dream, we will put forward the clock of Time some hundreds of years, at the least.*
Look up. The sun has nearly reached the zenith; but, instead of flooding the earth with the fine golden radiance of former days, it bathes it with a feeble twilight, even at high noon. The glowing disc upon which men could not gaze without burning the delicate balls of vision, or raising a crowd of phantom suns to haunt the trembling retina, may now be eyed with perfect impunity. In the most cloudless sky the luminary shines with a dull red glare, such as it exhibited in better days when battling with the morning mists, or when its beams were ploughing their way through sheets of fog. Why is this? The fountain of light is obviously failing. And is it surprising that such should be the case? For ages the great orb of day has been pouring out its streams of splendour without a moment's intermission. Not only has it lit up the group of globes for which it was specially constructed, but its emanations have occupied so huge a sphere of space, that not a single cosmical chip, not a stray atom of world-dust floating between us and Sirius, has been left in positive darkness. What artificial luminary could support such a prodigal issue of brilliancy, and not be beggared in a day? The sun is a lamp. All lamps and fires, as far as we know, require to be periodically recruited. Sir Isaac Newton thought that comets might be intended to serve as solar fuel; and that some of these wanderers, after fluttering round the sun like gigantic moths, fell into the furnace, and supplied it with fresh luminous material. All lamps and fires, too, demand occasional dressing. Why should not the sun? If that body is never trimmed from age to age, is it any marvel that its light should at last begin to wane? Great spots, we know, frequently make their appearance on its surface. Some of these have been distinctly perceptible to the naked eye. In the first year of Augustus, according to Plutarch, its brightness was so much impaired, that people could look it in the face without effort. In the ninth year of Justinian, it is said to have suffered under some peculiar obscuration for upwards of fourteen months. The acreage of some of these maculæ is enormous. In certain cases they have been calculated to extend over several hundreds of millions of square miles. Many persons have attributed them to the smoke and fumes arising from the body of the orb, and overcasting its fair front like the carbonaceous clouds which so often disfigure our landscapes at home. By others, as by Galileo and Maupertuis, they have been ascribed to the scoriæ floating on the liquid matter of which the sun was supposed to consist. The better opinion, however, is, that these solar stains are simply openings in the atmosphere, or photosphere, of the orb—rents which are easily made, and as easily healed; for they sometimes appear
* In a fancy sketch like this, it is scarcely necessary to say that some licence of .anguage, not admissible in a purely scientific subject, may be fairly claimed and as courteously conceded. The reader is also requested to excuse certain incon. gruities which are almost inseparable from a topic of conjectural treatment.
very suddenly, and usually close up in the course of a few days at the furthest. Would it be extravagant if, in our ignorance of the precise cause of these variations, we inferred that the luminary was subject to internal changes which might seriously impair, and in the end wholly extinguish, its lustre ? Might not fancy be justified in suspecting that the hour will come when the sun shall lie on the bosom of space-a burnt-out orb—a huge blackened cinder; and when the planets shall perform their rounds, draped in sackcloth, like a funeral procession of worlds weeping for some starry chieftain, some leader amongst the hierarchy of light, who has gone down to darkness and death?
Or if, adopting the undulatory theory, we remember that, in order to produce a red ray, the sun must throw the ether into such rapid motion that it will vibrate 458 billions of times in a second, could we expect that this prodigious activity would be maintained for ever! Once let the powers of the luminary fall below that mark, and his disc would be blotted out from view, for his influence would cease to be visible to eyes constructed like our own. . Let this be as it may, however. · Now that is to say, at the time to which we have transported the reader in imagination—the Lord of Day no longer comes forth from his chamber in the East like a bridegroom radiant with gladness, or like a strong man rejoicing to run a race; but with saddened face and blunted beams-his golden smiles all gone—he pursues his weary way across the heavens. Nature has suffered sympathetically from the change. The earth has thrown off its green vesture, and the landscape wears a sickly garb, in place of the rich livery of the sun. The flowers are no longer steeped in vivid dyes, and the plants that continue to grow are pallid in hue and consumptive in texture. There is no gorgeous petalling in the gardenno glittering plumage in the grove ; gone is the bloom on beauty's cheek, and dim the fire in valour's eye. And since all organic life is in some degree dependent upon “holy light, offspring of Heaven, first born,” the fading efflux of brightness from the central orb intimates too plainly that the earth's years are numbered, whilst the blanched vegetation shows that it is already putting on the white hairs of senility. It would seem to be quite true that
“This huge rotundity we tread grows old,
Concurrently with this change, the temperature of the globe is also reduced. For the larger portion of the year, you cannot venture out without furs or mantles to protect you from the cold. The icy caps of the Polar regions are gradually expanding, and, having invaded the mid-zones, are threatening to overlap the whole earth. Mountains, once green to their summits, are now crested with perpetual snow. Glaciers are crawling down with deadly step into tropical vales, where