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most enlightened of mankind, foremost amongst whom is the hallowed name of John Milton. “Guard it, I beseech you,” says a speaker at one of our mutual improvement societies, from oppression on the one hand, and from ungovernable license on the other.”

Sir Richard Maitland, a Scottish poet, who "relieved,” says Robert Chambers, “the duties of his situation as a judge and statesman in advanced life, by composing some moral and conversational pieces, and collecting, into the well-known manuscript that bears his name, the best productions of his contemporaries,” now dies at his elegant retirement of Lethington Castle, in East Lothian, at the good old age of ninety years,

This year was born, at Grace Dieu, in Leicestershire, Francis Beaumont, the dramatist, son of Judge Beaumont; John Ford, another dramatist, whose baptism is registered at Islington, in Devonshire, on the seventeenth of April ; and Cornelius Poelemberg, a painter, at Utrecht.

Seven Romish priests are this year executed at Tyburn; two at the Isle of Wight; one at Gloucester ; and two priests, two laymen, and a lady, at York. The lady having refused to plead, is crushed to death as the law in such cases directed. Her husband is banished ; and her chil. dren being asked questions in theology, are brutally whipped for answering as they have been taught by their mother, and the eldest, who is only twelve years old, is sent to prison for the good of his soul. Pity that men will not think of that beautifnl passage in the writings of the old Hebrew prophet, Micah, (chap. vi., verse 8th,) “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?" and so leave off all persecution in the name of their Maker.

SHAKSPERE'S TWENTY-FOURTH YEAR.

A.D.

On the eighth of February, Mary Queen of Scots 1587.

mounts the scaffold, and stands beside the heads

man's axe. Human nature, awfully belied as it is, is ever on the side of virtue, if it be but allowed fair-play ; and the voice of mercy pleads loudly for the unfortunate captive Mary, in the breast of her cousin Elizabeth,

against the deep damnation of” her “taking off.” But her ministers ply her with reasons of state policy ; they work on her weaknesses until they obtain her reluctant consent; wily Walsingham and the rest tell her all manner

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of lies, and persuade her that her life can never be safe whilst her cousin Mary lives ; they swear that foreign troops are already landed in the kingdom to support the captive's claim to the throne ; and Elizabeth “curdles up her blood," and signs the awful mandate for cousin's murder. There is a poor player who would tell her the great truth, that

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There is no sure foundation set on blood ;
No certain life achieved by other's death ;"

but then Shakspere is not in her council, and all her statesmen thirst for the victim's blood. Well, Mary bows her aching head to the block; she sees, for the last time, the watchet sky, and feels the struggling beams of a February sun shine faintly upon her ; the sinewy headsman swings the ponderous axe aloft ; it descends upon a neck graceful enough for any goddesss in the mythology ; and the lovely head of Mary rolls upon the scaffold, and the purple flood that so lately chased up and bown her veins, is crying to Heaven for vengeance.

Admiral Drake now burns a hundred ships at Cadiz; for such are the glories of war. Davis' Straits are discovered by the navigator whose name they bear. The puritans introduce a bill into parliament for church reform, which occasions Elizabeth to commit several of them to the Tower—quite a sovereign remedy for all reforms in the reign of Elizabeth. Seven Romish priests are executed in various parts of England-viz., three at York, one at Dorchester, another at Stafford, another at Gloucester, and another at Chard, in Somersetshire. One of these victims, Stephen Rousham (the one executed at Gloucester), who had been sent to the Tower by wily Walsingham, for “ eighteen whole months and thirteen days” is said to have been kept in “ that dungeon called Little Ease," a cell described as “of so small dimensions, and so constructed, that the prisoner could neither stand, walk, sit, or lie in it at full length,” but was required to draw

in a squatting posture,” and so remain until it pleased the tormentors to liberate him.

Christopher Marlow now takes his degree of Master of Arts at Bene’t College, Cambridge; John (afterwards Doctor) Donne leaves Oxford for Cambridge; Richard Hakluyt publishes a second volume of voyages to America ; a second edition of Holingshed's “Chronicle” is printed, to which poor Stow, with his usual industry, contributes ; William Camden issues a second edition of his Latin “History of Britain,” which as yet only forms a 12mo

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himself up

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volume. The whole works of George Gascoigne are collected and published. Archbishop Whitgift is graciously pleased to permit the “Decameron” of Boccaccio to be printed; and the bishop of London allows the “ Amarous Fiametta” of the same illustrious author to be published, along with other Italian books. Thomas Underdowne issues an English version of the “ Ethiopics” of Heliodorus the sophist, to a story in which Shakspere has made the Duke allude in the " Twelfth Night,” (act v., scene 1st).

" Why should I not, had I the heart to do it,
Like the Egyptian thief, at point of death,

Kill what I love?" Adriana Saravia, D.D., a native of Artois, now comes to England, and is made master of the free school of Southampton, and will one day rise to preferment in the Church of England, and be chosen one of the translators of the authorised version of the Bible. The queen's players visit Stratford-upon-Avon ; and two years later we find William Shakspere a salaried member of that company. Poor Tasso, after being cruelly confined for upwards of seven years as a lunatic in the Hospital of St. Ann, at Ferrarra, by the Duke Alphonso, is at last allowed his liberty, and resumes his literary labours.

Joost van der Vondel, who is often called the Dutch Shakspere, was this year born at Cologne, from whence his parents, who were anabaptists, removed to Holland in his childhood. As a poet, he produced metrical versions of the Psalms, as well as translations from Virgil and Ovid, and was the author of several satires and tragedies. Arthur Johnston, the Scottish poet, was also born this year, at Caskieben, near Aberdeen.

John Fox, the martyrologist, dies in London this year, and is interred in the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, on the twentieth of April, having reached the age of “threescore years and ten.” He was born at Boston, in Lincolnshire, in the year 1517, and educated at Brazen-nose College, Oxford, where he was chamber-fellow with Alexander Nowell, (afterwards dean of St. Paul's, who wrote the catechism now used by the Church of England); in 1545, he was expelled from the university on a charge of heresy. Deserted by his friends, he was reduced to great poverty, but found an asylum with Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecot, near Stratford-upon-Avon, as tutor to the knight's family, and whilst in that capacity, married a woman of Coventry, with whose family he for some time resided. Towards the reign of Harry VIII, he went to London, where he was in great danger of being hungered to death, but was saved by some kind Samaritan, who had noticed his wretched look in St. Paul's cathedral, and could not pass him by as the priests and Levites did, without ministering to his necessities. The name of this good soul is not recorded, but “virtue is its own reward.” Brave John Fox trusted in God and his own exertions, and by-andbye obtained a situation as tutor in the family of the Duchess of Richmond, at Rye-gate, in Surrey ; but the cruel and cowardly persecution in Mary's reign, drove him from his native land; through Antwerp and Strasburg he wandered with his wife, and obtained bread at Basle by correcting the press for the celebrated printer, John Oporinus. Elizabeth ascended the throne, and John Fox returned to England. Through the interest of Secretary Cecil, he obtained a stall in Durham Cathedral, which he did not long retain. The Duke of Norfolk, who had been his pupil at Rye-gate, obtained his reluctant consent to accept of a prebend at Salisbury Cathedral, but Fox, being of puritanical principles, refused any higher preferment in the church. In 1563, he published his celebrated “Acts and Monuments of the Church,” on which he had spent eleven years' labour.

A.D.

SHAKSPERE'S TWENTY-FIFTH YEAR.

It is a memorable year in English history; the year 1588.

of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. For five years

the king of Spain has been gathering all his strength for an attack upon England, which once subdued, would leave the Low Countries a prey to Spanish rapacity. In all the ports of Sicily, Naples, Spain, and Portugal, large vessels have been building for the expedition. In Spain, in Flanders, in Italy, and in some parts of Germany, troops are raised for the conquest of England. An army of thirty-four thousand men is assembled in the Netherlands, ready to be transported to England; and all the carpenters that can be found in Flanders, in Lower Germany, and the coasts of the Baltic, have been building flat-bottomed vessels to transport the troops, men, and horses. The nobility of Italy and Spain vie with each other to share the “ honour" of crushing the rising liberties of the world, of which England seems destined to become the bulwark. Secret as their preparations has been, England is on the alert. But the historian Hume shall speak for me :

" All the English sailors in England amounted, at that time, to about fourteen thousand men. The size of the English shipping was in general so small, that except a few of the queen's ships of war, there were not four vessels belonging to the merchants which exceeded four hundred tons. The royal navy consisted only of twenty-eight sail, many of which were of small size ; none of them exceeded the bulk of our largest frigates, and most of them deserved rather the name of pinnaces than of ships. The only advantage of the English fleet consisted in the dexterity and courage of the seamen, who, being accustomed to sail in tempestuous seas, and expose themselves to all dangers, as much exceeded in this particular the Spanish mariners, as their vessels were inferior in size and force to those of that nation. All the commercial towns of England were required to furnish ships for reinforcing this small navy; and they discovered, on the present occasion, great alacrity in defending their liberty and religion against those imminent perils with which they were menaced. The citizens of London, in order to show their zeal in the common cause, instead of fifteen vessels, which they were commanded tu equip, voluntarily fitted out double that number. The gentry and nobility hired, and armed, and manned, forty-three ships at their own charge ; and all the loans which the queen demanded were frankly granted by the persons applied to. Lord Howard of Effingham, a man of courage and capacity, was admiral, and took on him the command of the navy ; Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, the most renowned seaman in Europe, served under him. The principal fleet was stationed at Plymouth. A smaller squadron, consisting of forty ressels, English and Flemish, was commanded by Lord Seymour, second son of Protector Somerset ; and lay off Dunkirk, in order to intercept the Duke of Parma. - The land forces of England, compared to those of Spain, possessed contrary qualities to its naval power; they were more numerous than the enemy, but much inferior in discipline, reputa. tion, and experience. An army of twenty thousand men was disposed in different bodies along the south coasts and orders were given them, if they could not prevent the landing of the Spaniards, to retire backwards, to waste the country round, and to wait for reinforcements from the neighbouring counties, before they approached the enemy. A body of twenty-two thousand foot, and a thousand horse, under the command of the Earl of Leicester, was stationed at Tilbury, in order to defend the capital. The principal army consisted of thirty-four thousand foot, and was commanded by Lord Hunsdon. These forces were reserved for guarding the queen's person, and were appointed to march whithersoever the enemy should appear. The fate of England, if all the Spanish armies should be able to land, seemed to depend on the issue of a single battle ; and men of reflection entertained the most dismal apprehensions, when they considered the force of fifty thousand veteran Spaniards, commanded by experienced officers, under the Duke of Parma, the most consumate general of the age; and compared this formidable armament with the military power which England, not enervated by peace, but long disused to war, could muster against it."

It is but fair to state, that though the pope, Sixtus V., “had fulminated a new bull of excommunication against

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