Page images
PDF
EPUB

Finally, the improvement effected in the condition of mankind by advances in physical science as applied to the useful purposes of life, is very far from being limited to their direct consequences in the more abundant supply of their physical wants, and the increase of our comforts. Great as these benefits are, they are yet but steps to others of a still higher kind. The successful results of our experiments and reasonings in natural philosophy, and the incalculable advantages which experience, systematically consulted and dispassionately reasoned on, has conferred in matters purely physical, tend of necessity to impress something of the well-weighed and progressive character of science on the more complicated conduct of our social and moral relations. It is thus that legislation and politics become gradually regarded as experimental sciences, and history, not, as formerly, the mere record of tyrannies and slaughters, which, by immortalising the execrable actions of one age, perpetuates the ambition of committing them in every succeeding one, but as the archive of experiments, successful and unsuccessful, gradually accumulating towards the solution of the grand problem-how the advantages of government are to be secured with the least possible inconvenience to the governed. The celebrated apophthegm, that nations never profit by experience, becomes yearly more and more untrue. Political economy, at least, is found to have sound principles, founded in the moral and physical nature of man, which, however lost sight of in particular measures—however even temporarily controverted and borne down by clamour-have yet a stronger and stronger testimony borne to them in each succeeding generation, by which they must, sooner or later, prevail. The idea once conceived and verified, that great and noble ends are to be achieved, by which the condition of the whole human species shall be permanently bettered, by bringing into exercise a sufficient quantity of sober thoughts, and by a proper adaptation of means, is of itself sufficient to set us earnestly on reflecting what ends are truly great and noble, either in themselves, or as conducive to others of a still loftier character; because we are not now, as heretofore, hopeless of attaining them. It is not now equally harmless and insignificant, whether we are right or wrong; since we are no longer supinely and helplessly carried down the stream of events, but feel ourselves capable of buffeting at least with its waves, and perhaps of riding triumphantly over them: for why should we despair that the reason which has enabled us to subdue all nature to our purposes, should (if permitted and assisted by the providence of God) achieve a far more difficult conquest; and ultimately find some means of enabling the collective wisdom of mankind to bear down those obstacles which individual short-sightedness, selfishness, and passion, oppose to all improvements, and by which the highest hopes are continually blighted, and the fairest prospects marred.

2.- THE PITEOUS DEATH OF THE SON OF GASTON DE FOIX.

FROISSART.

[THERE are few who have not heard of JOHN FROISSART, the most graphic of the old chroniclers. He was born at Valenciennes, about 1337, and early in life was dedicated to the church. He was scarcely twenty years old when he began to write a history of the English wars in France, chiefly compiled from another chronicler. This history he brings down to the battle of Poitiers in 1356; after which period his Chronicle has all the value of contemporary observation. His opportunities as an observer were very great; he was in the confidence of many of the sovereigns and nobles of his time, and was especially attached to the court of Edward III., being secretary to Queen Philippa. He closed a life, compounded of travel and ease, of labour and luxury, of native honesty and courtly arts, about the beginning of the fifteenth century. His description of the manner of life at the Count of Foix's house at Orthes

is one of the most picturesque of his passages; and a short extract may fitly introduce the quaint and touching story of the death of his son, which we give in Lord Berners' old translation: "At midnight, when he came out of his chamber into the hall to supper, he had ever before him twelve torches burning, borne by twelve varlets, standing before his table all supper. They gave a great light, and the hall was ever full of knights and squires, and many other tables were dressed to sup who would. There was none should speak to him at his table but if he were called. His meat was lightly, wild fowl, the legs and wings only, and in the day hẹ did eat and drink but little. He had great pleasure in harmony of instruments; he could do it right well himself: he would have songs sung before him. He would gladly see conceits and fantasies at his table, and when he had seen it, then he would send it to the other tables bravely; all this I considered and advised. And ere I came to his court I had been in many courts of kings, dukes, princes, counts, and great ladies; but I was never in none that so well liked me. Nor there was none more rejoiced in deeds of arms than the count did; there was seen in his hall, chamber, and court, knights and squires of honour going up and down, and talking of arms and of amours: all honour there was found, all manner of tidings of every realm and country there might be heard, for out of every country there was resort, for the valiantness of this count."

Froissart describes his own intense curiosity to know "how Gaston, the count's son, died;" but no one would satisfy him. At last "so much I enquired, that an ancient squire, and a notable man, shewed the matter to me," and began thus -]

"True it is," quoth he, "that the Count of Foix and my Lady of Foix, his wife, agreeth not well together, nor have not done of a long season, and the discord between them was first moved by the King of Navarre, who was brother to the lady: for the King of Navarre pledged himself for the Duke Dalbret, whom the Count of Foix had in prison, for the sum of fifty thousand francs; and the Count of Foix, who knew that the King of Navarre was crafty and malicious, in the beginning would not trust him, wherewith the Countess of Foix had great displeasure and indiguation against the count her husband, and said to him:—

[ocr errors]

'Sir, ye repute but small honour in the King of Navarre, my brother, when yo will not trust him for fifty thousand francs: though ye have no more of the Armagnacs, nor of the house of Dalbret, than ye have, it ought to suffice. And also, sir, ye know well ye should assign out my dower, which amounteth to fifty thousand francs, which ye should put into the hands of my brother, the King of Navarre; wherefore, sir, ye cannot be evil paid.'

“'Dame,' quoth he, 'ye say truth; but if I thought that the King of Navarre would stop the payment for that cause, the Lord Dalbret should never have gone out of Orthes, and so I should have been paid to the last penny; and since ye desire it, I will do it; not for the love of you, but for the love of my son.'

"So by these words, and by the King of Navarre's obligation, who became debtor to the Count of Foix, the Lord Dalbret was delivered quit, and became French, and was married in France to the sister of the Duke of Burbon, and paid at his ease to the King of Navarre the sum of fifty thousand francs for his ransom, for the which sum the king was bound to the Count of Foix; but he would not send it to the count. "Then the Count of Foix said to his wife-Dame, ye must go into Navarre to the king your brother, and shew him how I am not well content with him, that he will not send me that he hath received of mine.'

"The lady answered, how that she was ready to go at his commandment. And so she departed, and rode to Pampeluna to the king her brother, who received her with much joy. The lady did her message from point to point.

“Then the king answered-'Fair lady, the sum of money is yours. The count should give it for your dower; it shall never go out of the realm of Navarre since I have it in possession.'

"Ah, Sir,' quoth the lady, 'by this ye shall set great hate between the count,

LONDON:

SAVILL AND EDWARDS, PRINTERS, CHANDOS STREET,

COVENT GARDEN.

ADVERTISEMENT.

It is remarkable that in none of the Publications of a cheap and popular character are the people addressed as if they were the possessors of the greatest Literature of the modern world. Their ability to read is either applied to the most exciting and dangerous ends; or modern ingenuity is taxed to produce some new and mostly ephemeral literary currency. Of the treasures in their STANDARD WRITERS they know little or nothing. I propose to publish, in FIFTY-TWO WEEKLY SHEETS, at ThreeHalf pence each,

HALF-HOURS WITH THE BEST AUTHORS;

Selected and arranged by me, with short biographical and critical notices. My plan is to confine the selection, whether in POETRY or PROSE-whether ESSAYS-CHARACTERS — STORIES—DESCRIPTIVE, NARRATIVE, or DRAMATIC VERSE — REMARKABLE ADVENTURES-MORAL and RELIGIOUS EXHORTATIONS-to pieces of sufficient length to Occupy half an hour's ordinary reading—or to pieces which can be so connected as to supply the same amount of instruction and amusement. EACH WEEKLY NUMBER WILL CONTAIN SEVEN HALF-HOURS, of a varied character; every seventh day being selected from some theological writer of universal acceptation and authority. The larger extracts, forming distinct "Half-Hours," are selected from about two hundred and sixty different writers. In the smaller pieces, which are grouped under some general head, will be found selections from about forty writers, who have not contributed to the larger extracts. The work, therefore, will contain

SPECIMENS OF THREE HUNDRED WRITERS.

Each Number will consist of Twenty-four large Octavo pages. The issue for the year -OR HALF AN HOUR'S READING FOR EVERY DAY IN THE YEAR,-will thus be formed of Twelve Hundred and forty pages equal in quantity to six ordinary octavo volumes, to be purchased for six shillings and sixpence, in Weekly Payments of Three Half-pence. The Weekly Numbers will form Thirteen Monthly Parts, which may be arranged in Four Quarters or Volumes.

90, Fleet Street, March 9, 1850.

CHARLES KNIGHT.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

FRONTISPIECE, Containing Portraits of Spenser Jeremy Taylor-Lord Bacon-Dr. Johnson

« PreviousContinue »