Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

challenged in combat by Robert de Momford, a knight, eye-witness thereof, and by him overcome in a duel. Whereupon his large inheritance was confiscated to the king, and he himself, partly thrust, partly going into a convent, hid his head in a cowl, under which, betwixt shame and sanctity, he blushed out the remainder of his life.” -Worthies. Article, Bedfordshire.

Sir Edward Harwood, Knt." I have read of a bird, which hath a face like, and yet will prey

* The fine imagination of Fuller has done what might have been pronounced impossible : it has given an interest, and a holy character, to coward infamy. Nothing can be more beautiful than the concluding account of the last days, and expiatory retirement, of poor

Henry de Essex. The address with which the whole of this little story is told is most consummate: the charm of it seems to consist in a perpetual balance of antitheses not too violently opposed, and the consequent activity of mind in which the reader is kept :-“ Betwixt traitor and coward”—“ baseness to do, boldness to deny"“partly thrust, partly going, into a convent”-“betwixt shame and sanctity.” The reader by this artifice is taken into a kind of partnership with the writer,—his judgment is exercised in settling the preponderance,- he feels as if he were consulted as to the issue. But the modern historian Alings at once the dead weight of his own judgment into the scale, and settles the matter.

[blocks in formation]

upon, a man; who coming to the water to drink, and finding there by reflection, that he had killed one like himself, pineth away by degrees, and never afterwards enjoyeth itself. * Such in some sort the condition of Sir Edward. This accident, that he had killed one in a private quarrel, put a period to his carnal mirth, and was a covering to his eyes all the days of his life. No possible provocations could afterwards tempt him to a duel ; and no wonder that one's conscience loathed that whereof he had surfeited. He refused all challenges with more honour than others accepted them; it being well known, that he would set his foot as far in the face of his enemy as any man alive.”-Worthies. Art. Lincolnshire.

* I do not know where Fuller read of this bird; but a more awful and affecting story, and moralizing of a story, in Natural History, or rather in that Fabulous Natural History, where poets and mythologists found the Phenix and the Unicorn, and “ other strange fowl,” is no where extant. It is a fable which Sir Thomas Browne, if he had heard of it, would have exploded among his Vulgar Errors; but the delight which he would have taken in the discussing of its probabilities, would have shewn that the truth of the fact, though the avowed object of his search, was not so much the motive which put him upon the investigation, 'as those hidden affinities and poetical analogies,-those essential verities in the application of strangé fable, which made him linger with such reluctant delay among the last fading lights of popular tradition ; and not seldom to conjure up a superstition, that had been long extinct, from its dusty grave, to inter it himself with greater ceremonies and solemnities of burial.

Decayed Gentry.-" It happened in the reign of King James, when Henry Earl of Huntingdon was Lieutenant of Leicestershire, that a labourer's son in that county was pressed into the wars; as I take it, to go over with Count Mansfield. The old man at Leicester requested his son might be discharged, as being the only staff of his age, who by his industry maintained him and his mother. The Earl demanded his name, which the man for a long time was loth to tell (as suspecting it a fault for so poor a man to confess the truth), at last he told his name was Hastings. “ Cousin Hastings,” said the Earl,

we cannot all be top branches of the tree, though we all spring from the same root; your son, my kinsman, shall not be pressed.” So good was the meeting of modesty in a poor, with courtesy in an honourable person, and gentry ! believe in both. And I have reason to believe, that some who justly own the surnames and blood of Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets (though ignorant of their own extractions), are hid in the heap of common people, where they find that under a thatched cottage, which some of their ancestors could not enjoy in a leaded castle, contentment, with quiet and security."-Worthies. Art. Of Shire-Reeves or Shiriffes.

Tenderness of Conscience in a Tradesman. Thomas Curson, born in Allhallows, Lombardstreet, armourer, dwelt without Bishopsgate. It happened that a staye-player borrowed a rusty musket, which had lain long leger in his shop :. now though his part were comical, he therewith acted an unexpected tragedy, killing one of the standers by, the gun casually going off on the stage, which he suspected not to be charged. O the difference of divers men in the tenderness of their consciences; some are scarce touched with a wound, whilst others are wounded with a touch therein. This poor armourer was highly afflicted therewith, though done against his will, yea without his knowledge, in his absence, by another, out of mere chance. Hereupon he resolved to give all his estate to pious uses : no sooner had he gotten a round sum, but presently he posted with it in his apron to the Court of Aldermen,

and was in pain till by their direction he had settled it for the relief of poor in his own and other parishes, and disposed of some hundreds of pounds accordingly, as I am credibly informed by the then churchwardens of the said parish. Thus as he conceived himself casually (though at a great distance) to have occasioned the death of one, he was the immediate and direct cause of giving a comfortable living to many."

Burning of Wickliffe's Body by Order of the Council of Constance.- .“ Hitherto (A. D. 1428] the corpse of John Wickliffe had quietly slept in his grave about forty-one years after his death, till his body was reduced to bones, and his bones almost to dust. For though the earth in the chancel of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where he was interred, hath not so quick a digestion with the earth of Aceldama, to consume flesh in twenty-four hours, yet such the appetite thereof, and all other English graves, to leave small reversions of a body after so many years. But now such the spleen of the Council of Constance, as they not only cursed his memory as dying an obstinate heretic, but ordered that his bones (with this charitable caution,-if it may be discerned from the bodies of other faithful people)

« НазадПродовжити »