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LXXXVII. - ANECDOTE OF THE CHEVALIER BAYARD.
[This incident in the life of the Chevalier Bayard — the pride of French chivalry, and the knight without fear and without reproach — is taken from Sketches of Vene tian History, forming part of Murray's Family Library; but the original is found in the memoirs of the chevalier by his secretary. In 1512, Brescia, a flourisbing town in the north of Italy, and at that time belonging to the Venetian territory, was taken, after a bloody resistance, by the French under Gaston de Foix. Bayard, in leading on the troops to the assault, received a very severe wound in the thigh, by a pike. After the capture of the city, the narrative thus proceeds :-)
BAYARD meantime was placed upon a door torn from its hinges, and carried to the best looking house at hand. Its owner was a rich gentleman, who had sought asylum in a neighboring monastery; and his lady and two daughters, young maidens of extraordinary beauty, had concealed themselves beneath some straw in a granary,“ under the protection of our Lord.” The mother, when she heard the knocking at the wicket, opened it, "as awaiting the mercy of God with constancy ;” and Bayard, notwithstanding his own great pain, observing her piteous agony, incontinently placed sentinels at the gate, and ordered them to prohibit all entrance; well knowing that his name was a watchword of defence. He then assured the noble dame of protection, inquired into her condition, and despatching some archers for her husband's relief, received him courteously, and entreated him to believe he lodged none other than a friend. His wound confined him for five weeks, nor was it closed when he remounted his horse and rejoined his comrades.
Before his departure, the lady of the house -still considering herself and family as prisoners, and her mansion and whole property as the lawful property of her guest, yet perceiving his gentleness of demeanor - thought to prevail on him to compound for a moderate ransom ; and having placed two thousand five hundred ducats in a basket, she besought his acceptance of it on her knees. Bayard raised her at the moment, asked her the sum, and seated her beside himself. Ka then assured her that had she presented him with three hundred thousand crowns, they would not gratify him so much as the good cheer which he had tasted under her roof; and he requested permission to bid adieu to her daughters. “ The damsels,” says the chronicler, “were fair, virtuous, and well trained, and had afforded much pastime to the chevalier during his illness, by their choice singing, playing on the lute and spinet, and their much cunning needlework.”
When they entered the chamber, they thanked him with deep gratitude, as the guardian of their honor; and the good knight, almost weeping at their gentleness and humility, answered, “Fair maidens, you are doing that which it is rather my part to do — to thank you for the good company which you have afforded me, and for which I am greatly bound and obliged to you. You know that we knight adventurers are ill provided with goodly toys for ladies' eyes, and for my part, I am sorely grieved not to be better furnished, in order that I might offer you some love token, as is
your due. But your lady mother here has given me two thousand five hundred ducats, which lie on that table, and I present each of you with one thousand as an aid in
your marriage portions ; for my recompense I ask no more than that you will be pleased to pray God for my welfare.” Then turning to the lady of the house, he continued, “ These remaining five hundred ducats I take, madam, to my own use; and I request you to distribute them among the poor nuns who have been pillaged, and whose necessities no one can better know than yourself; and herewith I take my leave.”
After having dined, as he quitted his chamber to take horse, the two fair damsels met him, each bearing a little offering which she had worked during his confinement. One consisted of two rich bracelets, woven with marvellous delicacy from her own beauteous hair and fine gold and silver threads; the other was a crimson satin
embroidered with much subtilty. Greatly did the brave knight thank them for this last courtesy, saying that such presents from so lovely hands were worth ten thousand crowns; then gal
lantly fastening the bracelets on his arm and the purse on his sleeve, he vowed to wear them both for the honor of their fair donors, while his life endured ; and so he mounted and rode on.
LXXXVIII. - WOLSEY AND CROMWELL.
(WILLIAM SAAKSPEARE was born at Stratford-on-Avon, in England, April 24, 1564, and died April 25, 1616. Very little is known of the events of his life, and of his personal character snd habits. He married young, went to London immediately after his marriage, became an actor, a dramatic author, and a shareholder in one of the London theatres; acquired considerable property, and retired to his native place a few years before his death, and there lived in ease and honor. He was the author of thirty-five plays, (rejecting those of doubtful authenticity,) written between 1590 and 1613, besides poems and sonnets.
Shakspeare is pronounced by Mr. Hallam, a most conscientious critic and careful writer, to be the greatest name in all literature. It would, of course, be impossible, in the compass of a notice like this, to do any thing like justice to the universality of his powers, his boundless fertility of invention, his dramatic judgment, his wit, humor, and pathos, his sharp observation, and his profound knowledge of the human heart. Nor is it easy to point out to the young reader, within a reasonable compass, the best sources of information and criticism; for the editions of Shakspeare are numberless, and the books that have been written about him would alone make a considerable library. The following works, however, may be read and consulted with profit: Drake's Shakspeare and his Times, Hazlitt's Lectures, Mrs. Jameson's Characteristics of Women, Dr. Johnson's preface, Schlegel's Lectures on Dramatic Literature, Coleridge's Lectures on Shakspeare, the notes and introductory notices in Knight's pictorial edition, together with the biography prefixed, and, especially, the criticism upon Shakspeare contained in Hallam’s Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries.
Shakspeare's life and writings teach two lessons; which, as they are not very obvious to the apprehension of the young, and as they have a somewhat practical bear. ing upon life, may be here set down. He is an instance directly opposed to the Byronio notion that great genius and great unhappiness invariably go together. We have every reason to believe that his temperament was cheerful and joyous, and that is certainly the spirit of his writings. He is often tragic, but never morbid. In the next place, Shakspeare is a proof that the highest poetical genius is not inconsistent with practical and successful business habits. There can be no doubt that he was himself an •xcellent man of business, for he accumulated an ample fortune within a few years, and by occupations in which punctuality, economy, and method are particularly im. portant.
The following scene is taken from the historical play of King Henry VIII. Cardinal Wolsey had been prime minister of England, the possessor of enormous wealth and unbounded power, but, in losing the favor of the king, had lost all. Cromwell was a friend and member of his household, who remained faithful to his benefactor in his fallen fortunes.]
Wol. FAREWELL, a long farewell, to all my greatness This is the state of man: To-day he puts forth The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms, And bears his blushing honors thick upon The third day comes a frost, a killing frost, And — when he thinks, good easy man, full surely His greatness is a-ripening — nips his root; And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured, Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders, This many summers, in a sea of glory; But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride At length broke under me, and now has left me, Weary and old with service, to the
mercy Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me. Vain
pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye! I feel my heart new opened. O, how wretched Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favors ! There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to, That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin, * More pangs
and fears than wars or women have And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, Never to hope again. —
Enter CROMWELL, amazedly. Why, how Cromwell ?
Crom. I have no power to speak, sir.
Wol. What, amazed
Crom. How does your grace ?
Wol. Why, well;
* That is, the ruin which princes inflict
A still and quiet conscience. The king has cured me,
and from these shoulders,
Crom. I am glad your grace has made that right use of it.
Wol. I hope I have. I am able now, methinks,
Crom. The heaviest, and the worst,
Wol. God bless him !
Crom. The next is, that Sir Thomas More is chosen
Wol. That's somewhat sudden;
Crom. That Cranmer is returned with welcome,
Wol. That's news, indeed.
Crom. Last, that the Lady Anne,* Whom the king hath in secrecy long married, This day was viewed in open, as his queen, Going to chapel ; and the voice is now Only about her coronation. Wol. There was the weight that pulled me down ! 0 Crom
well, The king has gone beyond me; all my glories,
* Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.