Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

by it. Hereafter, should he be tempted to tyrannize over the stubborn race of Englishmen, let him remember little Noll Cromwell and his own bloody nose.”

10. So the king finished his dinner and departed; and for many a long year the childish quarrel between Prince Charles and Noll Cromwell was forgotten. But when old King James was dead, and Charles sat upon his throne, he seemed to forget that he was but a man, and that his meanest subjects were men as well as he. He wished to have the property and lives of the people of England entirely at his own disposal. But the Puritans, and all who loved liberty, rose against him, and beat him in many battles.

11. Throughout this war between the king and nobles on one side and the people of England on the other, there was a famous leader, who did more toward the ruin of royal authority than all the rest. The contest seemed like a wrestling-match between King Charles and this strong man. And the king was overthrown.

12. When the discrowned monarch was brought to trial, that warlike leader sat in the judgment-hall. Many judges were present besides himself; but he alone had the power to save King Charles, or to doom him to the scaffold. After sentence was pronounced, he was entreated by his own children, on their knees, to rescue his majesty from death.

13. “No!” said he sternly. “Better that one man should perish than that the whole country should be ruined for his sake. It is resolved that he shall die ! ”

14. When Charles, no longer a king, was led to the

scaffold, his great enemy stood at a window of the royal palace of Whitehall. He beheld the poor victim of pride, and an evil education, and misused power, as he laid his head upon the block. He looked on while the executioner lifted the fatal axe and smote off that anointed head at a single blow.

15. At night, when the body of Charles was laid in the coffin, in a gloomy chamber, the general entered, lighting himself with a torch. Its gleam showed that he was now growing old; his visage was scarred with many battle-marks; his brow was wrinkled with care.

. Probably there was not a single trait that belonged to the little Noll who had battled so stoutly with Prince Charles. Yet this was hé !

16. He lifted the coffin-lid, and caused the light of his torch to fall upon the dead monarch's face. Then his mind went back over all the marvellous events that had brought the hereditary King of England to this dishonored coffin, and had raised himself to the possession of kingly power.

17. “Why was it,” said Cromwell to himself, or might have said, “why was it that this great king fell, and that poor Noll Cromwell has gained all the power of the realm ?” King Charles had fallen, because, in his manhood, the same as when a child, he disdained to feel that every human creature was his brother. He deemed himself a superior being, and fancied that his subjects were created only for a king to rule over. And Cromwell rose, because, in spite of his many faults, he mainly fought for the rights of his fellowmen.

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.

XLVII. - AN INCIDENT OF THE FRENCH CAMP.

You know we French stormed Ratisbon :

A mile or so away,
On a little mound, Napoleon

Stood on our storming-day;
With neck out-thrust, you fancy how,

Legs wide, arms locked behind,
As if to balance the prone brow,

Oppressive with its mind.

Just as perhaps he mused, “ My plans

That soar, to earth may fall.
Let once my army-leader, Lannes,

Waver at yonder wall,” —
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew

A rider, bound on bound
Full-galloping; nor bridle drew

Until he reached the mound.

Then off there flung in smiling joy,

And held himself erect
By just his horse's mane, a boy:

You hardly could suspect —
So tight he kept his lips compressed,

Scarce any blood came through —
You looked twice ere you saw his breast

Was all but shot in two.

“Well,” cried he, “ Emperor, by God's grace

We've got you Ratisbon !

The marshal's in the market-place,

And you'll be there anon
To see your flag-bird flap his vans

Where I, to heart's desire,
Perched him!” The chief's eye flashed; his plans

Soared up again like fire.

The chief's eye flashed; but presently

Softened itself, as sheathes
A film the mother eagle's eye

When her bruised eaglet breathes.
“ You're wounded !” “ Nay,” his soldier's pride

Touched to the quick, he said :
“ I'm killed, sire!” and, his chief beside,
Smiling, the boy fell dead.

ROBERT BROWNING.

oo0:00

XLVIII. — THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER.

I.

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight's last

gleaming ? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the peril

ous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly

streaming;

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still

there: O say,

does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On that shore, dimly seen through the mist of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: 'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner; O, long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave !

And where are the foes who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war, and the battle's confusion, A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pol

lution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave; And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave !

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war's desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued

land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a

nation!

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »