Page images
PDF
EPUB

archs to whose resting-place such a memo- | characteristic of the period of the reign, rial has been given.

mour.

The axe of the executioner terminated the troubled career of Charles I., on the scaffold before Whitehall. A universal groan broke from the multitude assembled upon the sad occasion, at the fatal stroke. A rush was made to dip handkerchiefs in the royal blood as a memento; but the troops put themselves in motion, cleared the streets, and the dismal tragedy ended. This is the testimony of Philip Henry, father of Matthew Henry, the commentator, who was present. The remains were interred at Windsor, in the same vault with those of Henry VIII. and Jane SeyA few devoted cavaliers attended the ceremony, and noticed the coïncidence between the coronation and the funeral of their master. On the former occasion the king chose to appear in a white robe, though this was opposed by his friends as contrary to the practice of his predeces sors and to popular ideas; for purple was considered the color appropriate to sovereignty. He was superstitiously reminded that, of two exceptions to the rule-Richard II. and Henry VI., who wore white satin at their coronations-both had come to a violent end. But Charles persisted in his purpose; the third "white king' was crowned; and he went to the grave in his favorite color. The snow fell heavily at the time, so as to cover the black velvet pall with a silvery mantle, on the passage of the bier from the Castle to St. George's Chapel. All knowledge of the precise place of interment was after wards lost, till the year 1813, when, in course of making some repairs, the workmen accidentally opened the vault; and, to clear up a doubtful point in history, its contents were examined in the presence of the Prince Regent, Sir Henry Halford, and others. There was a plain leaden coffin discovered, with two more. The former bore the inscription, in large legible characters, on a scroll of lead encircling it, "King Charles, 1648." It contained a wooden coffin, very much decayed, in which was the body, carefully wrapped up in cerecloth. Upon disclosing the face, the skin was found dark and discolored; the forehead and temples had lost little or nothing of their muscular substance; the cartilage of the nose was gone; the left eye was open and full, in the first moment of exposure, though it vanished almost immediately; and the pointed beard, so

was perfect. The shape of the face was a long oval; and its strong resemblance was instantly recognized to the coins, busts, and especially the pictures of Vandyke, by which it has been made familiar to us. When the head had been entirely disengaged from the attachments which confined it, it was found to be loose, and without any difficulty was taken up and held to view. It bore evident marks of having been severed by a heavy blow, inflicted with a very sharp instrument. The hair at the back was thick, but short, contrary to the prevailing fashion of the time; and had probably been cut off for the convenience of the executioner, or after death, to furnish friends with relics.

Oliver Cromwell departed this life at Whitehall, on the anniversary of the battles of Dunbar and Worcester, two of his greatest victories. A fearful storm raged in England and over nearly the whole of Europe on the preceding night and morn. The unchained winds disturbed the waters from the Baltic to the Bosphorus; the seas were strewed with wrecks from the coast of Norway to those of Italy and Spain; while towns and forests suffered by the hurricane, from the Grampians to the Apennines. The Protector had a state funeral in Westminster Abbey, the cost of which his representatives were afterwards called upon to pay; and, contrary to the maxim that "English vengeance wars not with the dead," his corpse was disgracefully disinterred, for the purpose of being treated with indignity. Contemporary accounts state that the heads of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw were exposed on the roof of Westminster Hall, and that the bodies were thrown into a neighboring hole, after being suspended on the gallows at Tyburn; but a tradition formerly existed among the inhabitants of Red Lion Square that they were interred in the conter of that particular locality. It is probably true, and not at all at variance with the other relations, for the gallows was frequently erected at the Holborn end of Fetter Lane, within a short distance of Red Lion Square. Most likely, therefore, the Protector slumbers his last sleep in the locality mentioned. But though discarded from the mausoleum of royalty and ignominiously treated, his name lives in history with far greater honor than that of his spiteful antagonists; and none of our legitimate sovereigns have, like him, been

panegyrized by four such eminent contemporaries as were Milton, Waller, Dryden, and Locke. Richard Cromwell, his son, and his successor for little more than seven months, after a long expatriation spent his last days, under a feigned name, at Cheshunt, where he died peacefully, in the reign of Queen Anne.

The dissolute life and disgraceful reign of Charles II. ended suddenly at Whitehall, and was justly followed by a neglected funeral. "The King," says Evelyn, chronicling the event, "was this night buried very obscurely in a vault, under Henry VII.'s Chapel, without any manner of pomp, and soon forgotten"-an apt commentary upon the wise man's observation: "So I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done." James II., a king for twelve years after his expatriation only in name, surrendered his nominal sovereignty at St. Germain's, near Paris. Vicissitudes, as strange in death as in life, seem to have attended this misguided man. He left his heart to the Dames de St. Marie, at Challiot. He bequeathed his brains to the old Scotch College in the Rue des Fosses St. Victor, in the chapel of which, now leased to a private school, there is a marble monument to his memory. An urn of bronze-gilt, containing the king's brains, formerly stood on the crown of this monument; but it was smashed, and the contents scattered over the ground during the French Revolution. The body itself was interred in the monastery of English Benedictine Monks, in the Rue du Faubourg St. Jacques. Upon the destruction of this building, it was exhumed, and, after being kept for some years in a temporary tomb in the neighborhood, it was transported to the parish church of St. Germain's, where a monument was placed over it by George IV.

William III. and Anne both died at Kensington Palace, and repose in Westminster Abbey. George I., arrested by the hand of death while traveling abroad,

expired at Osnaburgh, on the very same bed on which he was born, and was laid by the side of his ancestors in a vault beneath the Schlosskirche at Hanover. George II. departed this life at Kensing ton, and, under circumstances of some interest, was laid in Westminster Abbey. As a proof of his respect for his consort, Queen Caroline, who had preceded him to the grave, he left directions for their remains to be mingled together. The order was obeyed, by the two coffins being placed in a large stone sarcophagus, when the sides of the wooden coffins nearest each other were withdrawn. This was a tradition merely at the Abbey, till confirmed in the year 1837. At that time the vault was opened, under authority of a Secretary of State's warrant, in order to remove a child of the Duke of Cumberland's, late King of Hanover, which had been buried in it, to Windsor. Dr. Milman superintended the disinterment, which took place by night. In the middle of the vault, towards one end, the large stone sarcophagus was seen, with the two sides of the coffins, which had been withdrawn, standing up against the wall.

Windsor was the scene of the death and burial of the three next sovereignsGeorge III., George IV., and William IV. They lie in the Royal Dormitory, to the east of St. George's Chapel, where all the members of the reigning family, deceased in England, have been placed, since its application to the purpose of a mausoleum, with the exception of the Duke of Sussex, buried by his own desire in Kensal Green Cemetery, and the unhappy wife of George IV., who was removed to Brunswick. Every heart will unite in the wish that long may it be before another crowned head is laid low in that regal sepulcher! and that, whenever the event occurs, a justly-honored and beloved sovereign may come to the grave in peace, as a shock of corn is gathered in its season. These reminiscences of royalty in its ruins emphatically suggest the moral of the poet:

"The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things."

From the Quarterly Review.

ORATORY-ELOQUENCE-PUBLIC SPEAKING.*

IN an admirable address to the Univer- himself that "he had been at all times a sity of Aberdeen, Lord Stanhope has re- slower and more painstaking workman cently proved to the students, by numer- than would ever be guessed from the ous happy illustrations drawn from the result." Pope tells us that in his boyhood lives of eminent men in the various depart-" he lisped in numbers, for the numbers ments of literature and science, that suc- came; "but if they came unsought, it cess is only to be obtained by industry. He repudiated the notion of heaven-born genius, if by that term is meant genius which spontaneously pours forth its stores without labor or study. The greatest talent, like the richest soil, only yields its choicest fruits to persevering tillage. If there is one branch of excellence which more than another has been supposed to be the gift of untutored nature, it is the faculty of verse; if there is one poet more than another who derived his inspiration from the innate passions of his heated mind, and who appeared to possess the power of embodying fervid feelings in glowing rhymes without the smallest effort, it was unquestionably Lord Byron. Yet in a conversation, quoted by Lord Stanhope, he asserted that it was nonsense to talk of extemporizing verse. The prodigious quantity which he wrote during his short life is no less a proof of his dili gence than of his fertility. Mr. Trelawny represents him as spending the larger part of his waking hours in meditating his works; and no physician or lawyer in extensive practice ever followed their professions with more dogged perseverance. His friend Moore, whose songs and tales have a far-fetched prettiness which indicates greater elaboration, confesses of

[blocks in formation]

was a felicity which forsook him as his understanding matured. Though by no means a voluminous writer, considering the many years he worked at his craft, Swift complained that he was never at leisure for conversation, because he "had always some poetical scheme in his head.” He was in the habit of jotting down in the night, as he lay in bed, any striking thought or lucky expression which passed through his mind, lest it should be forgotten before morning. He recorded lines or fragments of lines, which he hoped to turn to account at a future period, and allowed not a crumb to fall to the ground. What he composed with care, he corrected with patience. He kept his pieces by him long before consigning them to the press; he read them to his friends, and invited their criticism; and his condensed couplets, which seem "finished more through happiness than pains,” really owe their first quality to the last. As we ascend higher the same truth is equally ap parent. Milton's studies are revealed in every page of the "Paradise Lost." One of the most original of poets in his concep tions and style, his particular phrases and allusions may be tracked in all the best literature both ancient and modern which existed before his day. He who invoked his muse to raise him to the "height of his great argument" did by that very expression intimate how vast an effort he considered to be necessary to treat worthily so sublime a theme, as in his Lycidas he had declared, that "to scorn delights and live laborious days" was the indispensable condition of fame. Of the habits of Shakspeare we know nothing, except that the players boasted that he never blotted a line, which only proves that, he must have matured his conceptions before

committing them to paper. The knowledge of human nature is a matter of experience and not of intuition; and at least he must have been a diligent reader of men if he had been a careless reader of books. He must, however, have studied these not a little also, for his language in his poetical dialogue is not the language of conversation alone. Nor is there any poet whose effusions bear the impress of more severe thought, which not only impregnates, but sometimes obscures, his "thick-coming fancies." If internal evidence is to be a guide, he, as little as any one, could have dispensed with previous meditation and preliminary discipline.

ters"

Wherever prose-writers have been remarkable for some particular quality, it will be equally found that the point in which they have excelled was one upon which they had bestowed commensurate pains. Those, for example, who are distinguished for the beauty of their style have acquired their skill as the artist acquires his power of drawing-not by contenting themselves with the first rude and rapid draught, but by repeated references to better models, by an incessant renewal of their attempts, and by the untiring correction of defects. Every one knows that Pascal wrote each of his "Provincial Letmany times over. The draught of his "Epoques de la Nature" which Buffon sent to the press was the eleventh. The Benedictine editor of Bossuet's works stated that his manuscripts were bleared over with such numerous interlineations that they were nearly illegible. Burke penned his political pamphlets three times at least before they were put into type, and then he required to have a large margin for his manifold corrections. Sterne was incessantly employed for six months in perfecting one very diminutive volume. "I mention this," says Paley, to whom we owe our knowledge of the fact, "for the sake of those who are not sufficiently apprised that in writing, as in many other things, ease is not the result of negligence, but the perfection of art." The proposition that uncommon excellence arises from the concurrence of great talents with great industry is supported by so many examples that they might be produced by the score. The extraordinary effect, indeed, of sustained application might almost seem to countenance the saying of Buffon, that "genius was patience." The idle may dream over the fancied possession of in

66

tuitive powers which they never display. Those who enter the arena and engage in the contest know that strength can not be put forth without strenuous exertion, nor skill be manifested without assiduous practice.

Of all the attainments which Lord Stanhope, in his graceful and attractive speech, showed to depend upon cultivation, none more needed to be dwelt upon before a body of students than that of oratory. There is no accomplishment which even when possessed in a moderate degree raises its possessor to consideration with equal rapidity, none for which there is so constant a demand in the church, in the senate, or at the bar, and none, strange to say, which is so little studied by the majority of aspirants. Dr. King, in his "Anecdotes of his Own Time," which was written in 1760, complains that the want of a proper power of expression was a universal defect in the English nation. Many admirable scholars whom he had known could not speak with propriety in a common conversation, whereas among the French and Italians he had met with few learned men who did not talk with ease and elegance. The only three persons of his acquaintance among our own countrymen who expressed themselves in a manner which would have been pronounced excellent if every thing they uttered had been committed to writing, were Bishop Atterbury, Dr. Gower,* and Dr. Johnson. That his pupils might acquire the art of speaking with correctness and facility, he used to recommend them to get by heart a page of some English classic every morning, and the method was often attended with complete success. There is still the same disproportion as in his day between the extensive learning of the educated classes and their capability of imparting it. Great pains are taken at our schools and universities to obtain knowledge, but upon the mode of conveying it in a way which shall be pleasing and forcible, no pains are bestowed at all. It is as if years should be spent in collecting materials for the construction of a mighty edifice without any attempt to dispose them in an order which would secure beauty, strength, or convenience. Lord Chesterfield was forever impressing upon his son the necessity, if he wished to be listened to, of acquiring an elegant style

* He was Provost of Worcester College, Oxford.

oral, and in many parishes the clergy have adopted the practice of giving secular lectures, which succeed or fail in exact proportion as the lecturer is a proficient in the art of speaking. Tawdry bombast and low humor will, indeed, excite the admiration of unrefined rustics as well as the higher products of the intellect, but no learning, however abundant, ever commands the ears of these audiences, unless it is set off by some extrinsic charm. A gulf is left between the mind of the speaker and that of the hearer, and until this strait can be bridged, the long antecedent journey is more than half in vain. Nor need there be any fear that, if elocution and style were more cultivated, a torrent of tedious declamation would be let loose upon the world. Study, by improving taste, increases fastidiousness; and is rather calculated to check than to encourage an ill-timed loquacity. Clergymen and lawyers, at all events, are obliged by their calling to address public assemblies; and the sole question which remains to them is, whether they will do it well or ill.

and a good delivery. He appealed to the | school, will never be conducted in any instances within his own experience of the marked degree through the medium of applause which followed those who pos- books. Their chief instruction must be sessed these advantages, and of the uselessness without them of the most solid acquirements. Lord Townshend, he said, who invariably spoke with sound argument and abundant knowledge, was heard with impatience and ridicule, because his diction was always vulgar and frequently ungrammatical, his cadences false, and his voice inharmonious; whereas the Duke of Argyle, whose matter was flimsy, and hisreasoning the weakest ever addressed to an intelligent assembly, "charmed, warmed, and ravished his audience," by a noble air, a melodious voice, a just emphasis, and a polished style. Lord Cowper and Sir William Wyndham prevailed chiefly by the same means. By his own account, Lord Chesterfield himself afforded an illustration of the truth of his position when he introduced his bill into the House of Lords for reforming the Calendar. He knew little of the matter, and resolved to supply the deficiency by wellrounded periods, and a careful delivery. "This," he continues, "succeeded, and ever will succeed; they thought I inform ed, because I pleased them; and many of them affirmed that I had made the whole very clear to them when, God knows, I had not even attempted it." Lord Macclesfield, who was a profound astronomer, followed, and with a perfect mastery of the subject, and with as much lucidity as the question permitted, furnished a real explanation of it, but, as his sentences were not so good as those of Lord Chesterfield, "the preference," says the latter, was most unanimously though most unjustly given to me." Upon every occasion he had found, in like manner, that weight without lustre was lead.

[ocr errors]

The total inattention to this truth is not, therefore, a matter of inferior moment. Hundreds of ripe scholars are unable in consequence to bring their attainments to bear upon the understandings of those whom it is their business to inform. Unadorned sense, dry reasoning, a hard, flat, and colorless style make no impression except that of weariness. It is not only in Parliament and the pulpit that the faculty is required of rendering knowledge and argument attractive. Those who observe the effects upon the lower orders of bodily toil, must be sensible that their education, from the time they leave

The vulgar, said Lord Chesterfield, look upon a fine speaker as a supernatural being, and endowed with some peculiar gift of heaven. He himself maintained that a good speaker was as much a mechanic as a good shoemaker, and that the two trades were equally to be learned by the same amount of application. In this there was some degree of exaggeration, but he was much nearer the truth that those who are deterred from every attempt to improve by the erroneous idea that unless the power is intuitive it never can be acquired. They might consider by what long repeated efforts a child learns to talk and read, or the years they pored over Greek and Latin before they gained a mastery over these tongues, and they would not infer, because they felt no inherent aptitude for speaking, that, therefore, nature had denied them the capaci ty. So much is it a matter of industry that, if any school-boy were asked to select the most conspicuous example of defects subdued and excellence attained by indefatigable perseverance, he would certainly name the first of orators. The most eloquent of Romans went through a training as severe as that of the illustri

« PreviousContinue »