Page images

adventurers exclaimed and threatened; the emissaries of Cortes, mingled with them, inflamed their rage; the ferment became general; the whole camp was almost in open mutiny; all demanding with eagerness to see their commander. Cortes was not slow in appearing; when with one voice, officers and soldiers expressed their astonishment and disappointment at the orders which they had received. It was unworthy, they cried, of the Castilian courage to be daunted at the first aspect of danger, and infamous to fly before any enemy appeared. For their parts, they were determined not to relinquish an enterprise which had hitherto been successful, and which tended so visibly to advance the glory and the interest of their country. Happy under his command, they would follow him with alacrity through every danger, in quest of those settlements and treasures which he had so long held out to their view; but if he chose rather to return, and tamely to give up his hopes of distinction and opulence to an envious rival, they would instantly choose another general to conduct them in that path of glory which he had not spirit to enter.

[Magdalene College Scholarships, 1848.]

181. THERE is nothing that more betrays a base ungenerous spirit than the giving of secret stabs to a man's reputation ; lampoons and satires, that are written with wit and spirit, are like poisoned darts, which not only inflict a wound, but make it incurable. For this reason I am very

much troubled when I see the talents of humour and ridicule in the possession of an ill-natured man. If, besides the accomplishments of being witty and illnatured, a man is vicious into the bargain, he is one of the most mischievous creatures that can enter into a civil society. His satire will then chiefly fall upon those who ought to be most exempt from it. Virtue, merit and everything that is praiseworthy, will be made the subject of ridicule and buffoonery. It must indeed be confessed, that a lampoon or a satire do not carry in them robbery or murder; but at the same time, how many are there that would not rather lose a considerable sum of money, or even life itself, than be set up as a mark of infamy and derision ? and, in this case a man should consider, that an injury is not to be measured by the notions of him that gives, but of him that receives it.

[Gonville and Caius College, 1848.]

182. For the first there is no other way but to meditate and ruminate well upon the effects of anger, how it troubles man's life; and the best time to do this, is to look back upon anger when the fit is thoroughly over. Seneca saith well, “ that anger is like rain, which breaks itself upon that it falls." The Scripture exhorteth us “ to possess our souls in patience ;" whosoever is out of patience, is out of possession of his soul. Men must not turn bees:

“And by inflicting wounds themselves destroy." Anger is certainly a kind of baseness, as it appears well in the weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns, children, women, old folks, sick folks. Only men must beware that they carry their anger rather with scorn than with fear, so that they may seem rather to be above the injury than below it, which is a thing easily done, if a man will give law to himself in it.

[St John's College Voluntary Classical, 1848.]

183. I HAD my time, as others have, who have good

learning bestowed upon them, to be sent to those places where, the opinion was, it might be soonest attained; and as the manner is, was not unstudied in those authors which are most commended. Whereof some were grave orators and historians, whose matter methought I loved indeed, but as my age then was, so I understood them; others were the smooth elegiac poets, whereof the schools are not scarce, whom both for the pleasing sound of their numerous writing, which in imitation I found most easy, and most agreeable to nature's part in me, and for their matter, which what it is, there be few who know not, I was so allured to read, that no recreation came to me better welcome. For that it was then those years with me which are excused, though they be least severe, I may be saved the labour to remember ye. Whence having observed them to account it the chief glory of their wit, in that they were ablest to judge, to praise, and by that could esteem themselves worthiest to love those high perfections, which under one or other name they took to celebrate; I thought with myself by every instinct and presage of nature, which is not wont to be false, that what emboldened them to this task, might with such diligence as they used embolden me; and that what judgment, wit, or elegance was my share, would herein best appear, and best value itself, by how much more wisely, and with more love of virtue I should choose (let rude ears be absent) the object of not unlike praises.

[Trinity College Scholarships, 1848.)

184. Nor do I so forget God as to adore the name of nature; which I define not with the schools, the principle of motion and rest, but that straight and regular line, that settled and constant course the wisdom of God hath ordained the actions of his creatures, according to their several kinds. To make a revolution every day is the nature of the sun, because of that necessary course which God hath ordained it, from which it cannot swerve but by a faculty from that voice which first gave it motion. Now this course of nature God seldom alters or perverts, but like an excellent artist hath so contrived his work, that with the selfsame instrument, without a new creation, he may effect his obscurest designs.

[Christ's College Scholarships, 1848.]

185. My lords, I should be ashamed if at this moment I attempted to use any sort of rhetorical blandishments whatever. Such artifices would neither be suitable to the body that I represent, to the cause which I sustain, or to my own individual disposition upon such an occasion. My lords, we know very well what these fallacious blandishments too frequently are. We know that they are used to captivate the benevolence of the Court, and to conciliate the affections of the tribunal rather to the person than to the cause. We know that they are used to stifle the remonstrances of conscience in the judge, and to reconcile it to the violation of his duty. We likewise know that they are too often used in great and important causes and more particularly in causes like this) to reconcile the prosecutor to the powerful factions of a protected criminal, and to the injury of those who have suffered by his crimes; thus inducing all parties to separate in a kind of good humour, as if they had nothing more than a verbal dispute to settle, or a slight quarrel over a table to compromise ; while nations, whole suffering nations, are left to beat the empty air with cries of misery and anguish, and to cast forth to an offended Heaven the imprecations of disappointment and despair.

[St Catharine's Hall, 1848.]

186. EIGHTEEN days were employed by the besiegers, to provide all the instruments of attack which antiquity had invented. Fascines were prepared to fill the ditches, scaling-ladders to ascend the walls. The largest trees of the forest supplied the timbers of four battering-rams: their heads were armed with iron : they were suspended by ropes, and each of them was worked by the labour of fifty men. The lofty wooden turrets moved on wheels or rollers, and formed a spacious platform of the level of the rampart.

On the morning of the nineteenth day, a general attack from the Prænestine gate to the Vatican: seven Gothic columns, with their military engines, advanced to the assault: and the Romans who lined the ramparts listened with doubt and anxiety to the cheerful assurances of their commander. As soon as the enemy approached the ditch, Belisarius himself drew the first arrow: and such was his strength and dexterity, that he transfixed the foremost of the barbarian leaders. A shout of applause and victory was reechoed along the wall. He drew a second arrow, and the stroke was followed with the same success and the same acclamation. The Roman general then gave the word that the archers should aim at the teams of oxen: they were instantly covered with mortal wounds: the towers which they drew remained useless and immoveable: and a single moment disconcerted the laborious projects of the king of the Goths. [Jesus College, 1848.]

187. No man is completely miserable without the loss of his liberty, and in the loss of that, all comforts

« PreviousContinue »