Изображения страниц

November, that the spirit of Christianity is one of love; and that instead of calling for vengeance on the heads of our enemies, we should imitate the example of Him who came "not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Whenever, then, we are warned, by past events, of the fearful evils with which the Romish system is associated, let us pray for those who are still unhappily under its influence, and beseech God to bring them out of darkness. and error, into the light and truth of a pure and scriptural faith.


And now, James, being safe from danger, began to attend to his subjects, and to the affairs of his kingdom. I told you that he was not a very skilful governor; but some of his measures were good, and he was particularly successful in his negotiations for the hitherto neglected country of Ireland. beth had put down insurrection, and reduced the rebels to obedience; but James did more, - he endeavoured to improve the people by milder measures. He established English laws among them, and caused them to be instructed in useful arts and manufactures; and thus they were brought into a state of greater comfort and civilization than they had yet enjoyed. Colonies from England and Scotland were sent into the province of Ulster, which had, since the rebellion, fallen under the power of the

English crown; and by them the land was divided into shares, cultivated, built upon, and inhabited; so that the north of Ireland, which had formerly been the most barbarous, now became the most civilized portion of the whole country.

But here let us leave, for the present, the general affairs of the country, and say something of the history of an individual who was one of the most celebrated men in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I,-I mean, Sir Walter Raleigh. You have already heard his name, and you will remember how he first gained the favour of Elizabeth by a well-timed act of courtesy and politeness. He experienced treatment of a very different kind in the subsequent part of his life. In the beginning of James's reign, he was accused of forming a conspiracy to subvert the government, the particulars of which are not very distinctly known. For this conspiracy however, Raleigh was tried, and sentenced to death, without, as it appears, sufficient ground for condemnation. His sentence was not followed by immediate execution, but he was confined as a prisoner in the Tower, and there he remained for the long period of fifteen years. Raleigh was not idle during that time. He did not give way to the indolence of hopeless grief, but resolutely employed himself in a work which, he believed,

would be pleasant and useful to future generations. This work was a History of the World, a book full of research and learning of all kinds. The occupation of Raleigh was useful to himself at the time, as well as to his fellowcountrymen in after years. It not only beguiled his long solitary hours, and gave a pleasant turn to his thoughts, but it interested others in his behalf, and people in general felt pity for a man who, with such talents, and genius, and industry, was condemned to pass year after year of his life within the walls of

a prison.

James himself began at last to think that it would be advantageous to employ his prisoner in an expedition, for which he was well fitted, to the gold mines of Guiana in South America. Raleigh had already made a voyage round the world, and was therefore likely to accomplish the undertaking according to the king's wishes; and the prospect of obtaining wealth was an inducement, a selfish one certainly, to set him free for a while, and permit him to go on this expedition. James did not, however, grant Raleigh a pardon; and he gave him a strict charge to make no hostile attempts upon the settlements of the Spaniards, who had possessed themselves of large territories in America; for a marriage had been planned between the Prince of Wales and the

Infanta, and therefore it was deemed necessary to continue on good terms with the king of Spain.

Raleigh accordingly commenced his voyage, and, in due time, reached the place of destination. But when there, a dispute unhappily arose, between Raleigh's party and the Spaniards, in which his own son was slain, and also the Spanish governor, who was related to Gondomar, at that time an ambassador resident in the court of London. As soon as Raleigh returned to England, he was arrested, and again committed to the Tower. Gondomar violently demanded vengeance, and James offered to deliver up the unfortunate Raleigh to the mercy of the king of Spain. This was declined; but it was determined that the former sentence pronounced against Raleigh should be carried into effect, and that he should suffer execution in London.

After sentence of death had been pronounced, Raleigh returned to his prison, and while there, awaiting the day of execution, he still continued engaged with his History. He had brought it down nearly to the time of the Christian Era, when its completion was prevented by the sad termination of the life of its illustrious author. The last lines written when he was in the immediate prospect of death, contain much beauty, and I am sure you will

read them with melancholy pleasure and interest. They are these:-"It is death alone that can suddenly make man know himself: he tells the proud and insolent that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant, makes them cry, complain, and repent; yea even to hate their forepast happiness. He takes the account of the rich, and proves him a beggar, a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing but in the gravel that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see their deformity and rottenness, and they acknowledge it. O eloquent, just, and mighty death! Whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou alone hast cast out of the world, and despised. Thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words,-Hic jacet.”

The day of execution arrived, and Raleigh was conducted to the scaffold. His calmness never forsook him; and when he had made all the last sad preparations with perfect composure, he asked to see the axe which was so soon to end his life. He took it in his hand, passed his fingers along the keen edge, and then, returning it to the executioner, he remarked with a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »