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awaken softer feelings in a heart too prone to bitterness and scorn ; therefore am I looking at them now, in the calm of this August evening, to soothe me, and hush my repinings, for I long for rest and peace-rest which I have never known, peace which I have never attained in this world.
I began my young life with toil, toil for my daily bread; necessity was my task-master, and a stern tyrant he proved. Then came a brief interval of happiness, so brief that it passed ere I had fully realized its possession. I in. herited a small legacy, not much, but a sufficiency for her and me. I might have made it more, there was an excellent opportunity, but I loathed the drudgery of a business life, the wear and tear of mind and body for money, money, always money, so I left my chance in other hands, and he who profited by it is now a millionaire. What matter ! I could not work as he has worked, even in those days of youth and strength; I had no heart for the toil, and later there was still less need for exertion, with none but myself whom to work for.
I have been a schemer and a planner all my life, but I have had no energy for working out a single idea. What castles I have built ! In what theories I have indulged for the amelioration and regeneration of the human race.
But those theories have never been put in practice, and those castles have crumbled into space. People say I am before the age in which I live. I do not know whether it be so or not, but I do know that the age and I have not got on well together. Everything I ever undertook has failed in my hands. Other men speculate eagerly, rashly, and succeed. I have been led into speculations cautiously, reluctantly; but whether in railways or in mines, all that I ventured, and more than all, was lost. So nothing remained to me but such work as others found for me, work which from my very soul I abhor. Ah, those relics ! they appeal to me mutely, bidding me stay my murmurs. She is at rest. Yet a little while and I shall be as she is.
I suppose there must have been some great deficiency in my character to prevent success, or else, as she would say, failure is a part of the probation appointed me. Let me look awhile at that tiny glove, and recall the evening when I first saw it on her hand, when she lost it mysteriously, never to find it
Even now I can see the group that gathered round the piano, as she sang, at my bidding, the songs that I never wearied of hearing from her lips. The quiet, delicate mother, the merry, loving sisters, and the guests who were to grace the bridal of the morrow. I see them all, and I hear again the sweet melody of her voice in that old, old song, now doubly cherished for her sake
“ There's not in the wild world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet." But the thought of that exquisite music makes me sadder than it is wise to be, now that, in this world, it is hushed to me for ever. So the little glove shall be hidden away once more, and I will look for awhile at the acacia's faded bloom. That grew not on British soil: I plucked it far away in Germany, whither we had gone for our bridal tour; not to any of the gay places of fashionable resort, but to a quiet, out-of-the-way nook, half town, half village, having the great attraction of being surrounded by most lovely scenery, which we could explore day after day, as we listed, without assistance from guide or guide-book. Scenery with which I had been familiar in long-past days of school-life, when the acacia avenue was a favourite haunt of mine if I played truant, which I often did-more's the pity !-yet never seemed its blossom so fragrant as at that midnight hour when I paced up and down in the moonlight with my newly wedded wife beside me. She asked for a remembrance of that evening; and from a branch drooping low over our heads
I culled this blossom, which, years afterwards, I found in a book of poems we had read that day together. The flower has faded, but the memory of that hour is fresh as though it had fled but yesterday, and I can see the glorious lustre of those deep, full eyes kindling beneath my gaze, as her low, soft voice repeated a woman's simple thoughts upon the use of flowers :
“ To comfort man, to whisper hope,
Whene'er his faith is dim,
Will much more care for him." Surely that thought should comfort me now, if I could but cherish it; but other words than these have haunted me for life,—words ever in my heart and brain, seeming to mar, even as they have foreshadowed, my destiny
“ Unstable as water thou shalt not excel." I heard them first in a village church, the text of a simple sermon, addressed to a simple, truth-loving congregation; but the preacher was my father, and I felt that I must have suggested the topic of that most earnest discourse. Every word seemed a home-thrust. "Unstable as water" I had ever proved, even under his anxious care, although already in my childish days giving evidence of talents which even he thought superior. I excelled in nothing, loved nothing which demanded energy and perseverance; and excellence is unattainable without stability of purpose. This has been the bane of my life, the canker corroding all the powers of my mind. I have had brilliant ideas by the score, and energy enough to attempt many things; but no heart, no earnestness of will to do more than attempt. It is said that every human being born into this world " has a mission to fulfil," a destiny to accomplish. I have failed to discover, or to fulfil mine, unless it be that I exemplify by my purposeless, wasted life, the impossibility of success, even in the smallest matter, without perseverance, and so may serve as a warning to others, likeminded with myself.
I began life with high hopes and strong resolutions—hopes and aspirations that were to benefit others, resolutions that were to bring fame and “ achieve greatness" for myself. I end life with those hopes blighted, and those resolutions unregarded, unacted upon : too old to improve in character now, too near the grave for perseverance in any one thing to avail ought either to myself or others.
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth," let the dead acacia repose once more in the sandal-wood box; my hopes have faded in quick succession one after another, but they have left no pleasant memories, like those awakened by this faded spray. Had she lived, perhaps, my hopes might not have perished without fruition : my schemes might have resulted in something else than disappointment.
It is useless to record all the projects in which I have taken a transient interest, some set on foot by others, some originating with myself. At one time I rejoiced in a grand invention, no matter what its nature : my ideas were submitted to a scientific man, one of influence and standing; he approved, he recognized their practicability, promised that if I would work them out, his patronage should ensure success—that my fortune should be made, and my name famous. Before that promise could be fulfilled, my patron died, and I had no energy to seek another, no further interest in carrying out my intentions : a fresh idea had taken possession of my unstable brain, and my invention still remains my own, and will doubtless perish with its originator. Next, I took pupils, to whom I imparted instructions upon a plan of my own,
which was to supersede all other plans of “ learning made easy,” agreeable alike to the teacher and the taught. How it was I know not, but the pupils I secured “
were not those most suitable for elucidating my theory; so I gave up teaching, and took to writing about it, and the pamphlets, which were introductory to the system I intended laying before certain heads of colleges of my acquaintance, found admission and acceptance with some who might have been of much service in making known my system” when perfected.But this it never was, this scheme shared the fate of many another, and my heaps of MSS. and unpublished printed matter in connexion with it, were all stowed away in a trunk, from whence they have never since emerged.
My last scheme was to turn author. I had friends in the literary world, editors of magazines and newspapers, who, upon my application, assured me that they could find space for “a short article" occasionally. I began a dozen, but never finished one. The working out of a subject proved tedious when the first ideas had been jotted down. Thus it is that I have passed a lifetime in attempting much, and accomplishing nothing! I have blamed fate, and friends, and foes, for failures the result of my own folly. Ah, me! it is a weary life;--so thought not the owner of this soft chesnut curl í hold in my hand. Surely all bitter repinings and useless murmurs should give place to feelings gentler and holier as I twine it round my fingers and gaze upon that small gold ring—the one she cut off upon her death-bed and gave me, the other I drew from her hand when life had flown, and the last kiss had been pressed upon her thin, unanswering lips. Ah, my gentle monitress ! you were indeed “taken from the evil to come,” life was sweet to you when you left it, in your young beauty, with a heart still a stranger to aught but love and thankfulness. I weep for myself, for you I shed no tears—better to go down in your summer glory, sinking, as yonder sun sinks, calmly to rest, but leaving a memory of light behind-than have lived on, leaning upon my instability, trusting in a broken reed !
And now the relics are put away again-put away for the last time; but the bitter mood is past, and the sorrows of life and its disappointments seem softening around me as my days are drawing to a close.
The stars are looking upon me with their “holy eyes, and peace is entering into my soul. I own that I have wasted the talents given me, but I own it with a bowed and broken heart; and God is gracious, judging not as man judgeth, for doth not the Maker best know where His work is weakest, and when it is most tried ?
Y. S. N.
THE GREAT ARMADA FIGHT.
BY W. J. OSTELL.
" Attend, all ye who list to hear our noble England's praise ;
I tell of the thrice famous deeds she wrought in ancient days,
Macaulay. NINE generations of men have come and gone since our England shocked the haughty Spaniard, and scattered his invincible Armada to the stormy winds and waters that guard our coasts. It is as a twice-told tale, we know, but some, and such, stories never grow old; so, once again, we will repeat the
story of the great Armada fight that brought all England as one man to the Salamis of our liberty in the summer of 1588.
That wise ruler, true English woman, and somewhat haughty sovereign, who, in her public conduct, nobly justified her motto of “ Semper eadem," (always the same,) our “good Queen Bess,” was not to be hoodwinked by the subtle Spaniard, nor his astute, saturnine monarch, Philip II. Twelve months before the Armada sailed she had sent the father of our sea-lions, Sir Francis Drake, to look after the Spanish fleet announced for the Indies, which service our great seaman performed by an experimental trip to Cadiz, menacing and silencing towns and forts, capturing and burning ships, and bringing home abundance of prize-money to his owners; for these expedi. tions of our earlier naval warfare were a joint-stock affair, and in this instance her Majesty subscribed four capital ships, and the merchants of London twenty-six, great and small. There was other gain than the pillage of this voyage. The Spaniard learnt to feel an unnatural dread of the daredevil heretic, and the English seaman to despise the unwieldly leviathans of his enemy.
His “Catholic Majesty" of Spain (the then largest kingdom in Europe) and the Indies, (the New World), had, what he doubtless considered as well. founded, claims to the absolute dominion of our little heretic island. Was he not by his wife Mary's desire her successor? Had not the beautiful Mary Queen of Scots devised her claim to him? Was he not a descendant of John of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III.? And, beyond all, had not the Pope-whom Protestant Englishmen_then called only Bishop of Romegiven him England as a fief? When Elizabeth ascended the throne, he had wooed our Virgin Queen-but unsuccessfully. Ambition was enflamed by this affront, and, prompted by his ghostly father, Sextus V., the papal champion undertook his crusade, towards which his Holiness was to contribute a million crowns, payable when England was taken.
In 1586 the note of preparation was sounded. For two years the work went stealthily on. Dockyards and arsenals were alive with malicious industry, and all the resources of the mightiest and wealthiest kingdom in Europe were being strained for the great secret enterprise. But wary Walsingham ferreted it out, and throughout England and Wales, tower and hamlet rose in arms, and men's hearts were in their work of desperate defence.
To describe the Armada in minute detail is beyond our scope ; it is sufficient to give its larger features. In all the ports of Sicily, Naples, Spain, and Portugal—so extended was Spanish dominion-artisans were employed in building vessels of uncommon size and force ; naval stores were bought at a great expense ; provisions amassed, and armies levied and quartered in the maritime towns of Spain. The military preparations in Flanders were no less formidable. The Armada itself consisted of 130 vessels, twelve of which were named after the Apostles, and others after the Saints of the Romish calendar; 100 of these were galleons of a larger size than had been seen in Europe before. These had on board 19,295 veteran soldiers, 8,456 mariners, 2,088 galley-slaves, and 2,630 great pieces of brass ordnance." The Duke of Parma,” says Hume, "had in the Netherlands an army of 34,000 men, and had employed all the carpenters whom he could procure, either in Flanders or in Lower Germany, and the coast of the Baltic, and he built at Dunkirk and Nieuport, but especially at Antwerp, a great number of boats and flat-bottomed vessels, for the transmission of his infantry and cavalry.” In this outfit must not be overlooked 180 priests, furnished with the engines of their warfare, viz., scourges and other instruments of torture.
But our land was astir, and girding its might for the great struggle for all that freemen ever hold dear-religion, liberty, and their birthland. France was neutral, being torn by her third civil war of Catholic and Huguenot ; turbulent Ireland was temporarily quiescent; and Scotland, notwithstanding the execution by Elizabeth of its Queen, was prepared to march against the enemy of the common faith and liberty, if the Armada should succeed in landing. But “ Britain's best bulwarks were (and are) her wooden walls; and all the ports of the kingdom sent quickly their allotted quota. London's rich citizens sent thirty instead of fifteen, and the gentry and nobility hired, armed, and manned forty-three ships at their own expense. The Catholics still Englishmen, served as volunteers in ships they helped to equip. Lord Howard, Earl of Effingham and Nottingham, was our Admiral, having as his assistants, Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, the most renowned seamen of Europe. The principal fleet was stationed at Plymouth, while a smaller one, of forty ships, lay off Dunkirk, to intercept thé Duke of Parma. The total number of seamen in England was only about 14,000 men. The Royal Navy consisted of but twenty-eight sail, many of which were of small size, none of them exceeding the bulk of our larger frigates. Our only, and great, advantage lay in our stout sailors, who, accustomed to tempestuous seas, and to expose themselves to all dangers, had then, as now, the daring and dexterity which are typified by the name of a British sailor. Howard Ear) Effingham possessed a rare union of courage and judgment; and safely did England rely on her chosen Lord High Admiral, his able lieutenants, and her own well-tried and proved mariners. The army of England showed strong in numbers, for in the “good old times” each man knew the use of arms, and at Tilbury, in Essex, under the Earl of Leicester, were stationed 22,000 men; along the south coast 20,000 men were disposed; and the principal army, to guard the Queen's person and the capital, mustered 34,000 foot and 2,000 horse. But what could the 80,000 raw troops do against the 50,000 veterans, under the Duke of Parma, the most consummate general of his age? They were not tested; but as Earl Stair answered Frederick of Prussia, the grenadier-maker, “Half the number would have tried.” But, one fixed battle, and the troops overthrown, and the conqueror's mission would have been almost accomplished. England's best battle-field was the sea, and her best warriors her seamen, in this her great emergency. How they answered to the call of Queen and country is in the story of the overthrow of the “Invincible Armada."
On the 29th of May the Armada set sail from the Tagus. But disaster befell it from the beginning, despite the Papal benediction. Its Admiral, the Marquis of Santa Croce, the ablest seaman of Spain, sickened and died, and the Vice-Admiral soon followed his chief. Their successor was an illustrious nobleman, but no seaman, The day after leaving Lisbon a violent storm played havoc with the Spanish fleet, and forced it to put into Corunna to refit.
On came the Armada, and entered the Channel. Trusting to false intelligence derived from a captured fishing-boat, its Admiral ventured to disobey his strict orders of joining the Duke of Parma, and resolved to sail to Plymouth, and secure all the glory of conquest singly. About sunset, on July 19th, the Armada made the Lizard Point, and mistook it for the Ram Head, near Plymouth. An English pirate, one Thomas Fleming, had fallen in with the enemy, escaped, and ran into Plymouth with the warning:
“Forthwith a guard at every gun was placed along the wall ;