« PreviousContinue »
monarchs, must impress us as an embodiment of high moral grandeur—as a really honest man. How all Wolsey's grandeur fades away, and his moral meanness comes out to the eye of posterity ! How to the same eye, amidst the gloom of his affliction, emerges the radiant form of More! Time destroys many illusions, rectifies many errors, and often anticipates the judgments of another world.
THE INDIAN GIRL'S LAMENT.
An Indian girl was sitting where
Her lover, slain in battle, slept;
Came down o'er eyes that wept;
“I've pulled away the shrubs that grew
Too close above thy sleeping head,
Their shadows o'er thy bed,
“It was a weary, weary road
That led thee to the pleasant coast
Hast met thy father's ghost;
“ 'Twas I the broidered mocsen made,
That shod thee for that distant land : 'Twas I thy bow and arrows laid
Beside thy still cold hand; Thy bow in many a battle bent, Thy arrows never vainly sent.
“With wampum-belts I crossed thy breast,
And wrapped thee in the bison's hide,
In plenty by thy side,
“Thou'rt happy now, for thou hast passed
The long dark journey of the grave, And in the land of light, at last
Hast joined the good and brave; Amid the flushed and balmy air, The bravest and the loveliest there.
“Yet, oft to thine own Indian maid
Even there thy thoughts will earthward strayTo her who sits where thou wert laid,
And weeps the hours away,
“And thou, by one of those still lakes
That in a shining cluster lie,
The image of the sky,
My spirit sent to join the blest,
From that bright land of rest,
W. C. Bryant.
WE have seen Sir Thomas More in “the marble chair.” In 1534, he was tried for denying the king's ecclesiastical supremacy.
The subjoined description of his appearance on the occasion is admirable. “On the morning of the trial,” says Lord Campbell in his Lives of the Chancellors, “More was led on foot in a coarse woollen gown through the most frequented streets, from the Tower to Westminster Hall. The colour of his hair, which had become grey since he last appeared in public; his face, which though still cheerful was pale and emaciated; his bent posture and his feeble steps, which he was obliged to support with his staff, showed the rigour of his confinement, and excited the sympathy of the people, instead of impressing them, as was intended, with dread of the royal authority. When, sordidly dressed, he held up his hand as a criminal in that place where, arrayed in his magisterial robes and surrounded by crowds who watched his smile, he had been accustomed on his knees to ask his father's blessing before mounting his own tribunal to determine, as sole judge, on the most important rights of the highest subjects in the realm, a general feeling of horror and commiseration ran through the spectators; and after the lapse of three centuries, during which statesmen, prelates, and kings have been unjustly brought to trial under the same roof, considering the splendour of his talents, the greatness of his acquirements, and the innocence of his life, we must still regard his murder as the blackest crime that ever has been perpetrated in England under the forms of law.”
* From Shades and Echoes of Old London, by kind permission of the Religious Tract Society.
More's defence, as he sat in a chair, being too infirm to stand, was very able and touching, and made such an impression that he was near being acquitted ; when Rich, the solicitor-general, leaving the bar, presented himself as witness, to bear testimony against the chancellor. This extraordinary proceeding was enough to startle even prejudiced jurors, and the reply of More to the evidence so tendered produced a deep impression, in consequence of which the cause of the prosecution was again imperilled; but the chief commissioner Audley came to the rescue of the court, and by his summing up procured a verdict of guilty against the prisoner.
No state trial which had ever occurred before, produced such excitement as attended that of Lord Strafford in the reign of Charles I. We have described the crowds which flocked to the judicial combat outside the hall, in the days of Richard II. ; but that was the index of a local and confined interest, compared with the wide-spread feeling of the seventeenth century, when tire liberties and religious rights of the country had been assailed by the arbitrary proceedings of the Star Chamber, which have made that place a name of notoriety and infamy. At the same time, too, the three kingdoms were agitated by the great question of the relative powers of parliaments and of kings. · In attacking Strafford, a principle was involved as well as a person ;' and great and important as was the person, the principle was infinitely greater and more important still. All Europe and the world might well look on with throbbing interest when this remarkable man was tried. A throne was erected in Westminster Hall for the king ; cabinets hung with arras? were placed on each side; before the throne were seats for the peers, and woolsacks for the judges, and stages for the House of Commons. The Scotch and Irish commissioners were to be present, and to occupy the two upper rows of benches. An inclosed dock and bench, fenced in, were appointed for the prisoner.