Part 4 out of 8
selection, he was lieutenant-governor of the province, and as chief
justice, had issued the so-called Writs of Assistance, which brought
upon him the anger of the colonists. Under these Writs it was possible
for a constable, or other public officer, to enter any building and
take therefrom goods upon which the duty had not been paid. In the
hands of tyrannical officers, these Writs would entirely destroy the
privacy of any family. When the Stamp Act was passed, Hutchinson
accepted it as legal, though he had opposed it on principle. By this
action he brought upon himself the intense animosity of the colonists.]
Oliver, [Footnote: Andrew Oliver was, on the passage of the Stamp Act,
appointed distributer for Massachusetts. This displeased the people,
and less than two weeks before the mob attacked the Hutchinson house,
Oliver was hanged in effigy, and a new building, supposed to be
intended for his office, was burned to the ground. This did not allay
the excitement of the colonists, who followed Oliver and threatened him
so savagely that he finally promised not to receive the stamps. Later
the mob, hearing that he still intended to serve, took him to the
"Liberty Tree," and under threats of hanging, forced him to swear that
he had never intended to distribute the stamps. When Hutchinson became
governor in 1770, Oliver was given the lieutenant-governorship, in
which position he wrote letters that brought him again into antagonism
with the colonists, and the British government was asked to remove him
from office.] Storey, Hallowell, and other men whom King George
delighted to honor were reviled as traitors to the country. Now and
then, perhaps, an officer of the Crown passed along the street, wearing
the gold-laced hat, white wig, and embroidered waistcoat which were the
fashion of the day.
But when the people beheld him they set up a wild and angry howl, and
their faces had an evil aspect, which was made more terrible by the
flickering blaze of the bonfire.
"I should like to throw the traitor right into that blaze!" perhaps one
fierce rioter would say.
"Yes, and all his brethren, too!" another might reply; "and the
governor and old Tommy Hutchinson into the hottest of it!"
"And the Earl of Bute [Footnote: The Earl of Bute was a British
statesman who, as secretary of state, became most unpopular not only in
the colonies, but in England itself. He was an ancient supporter of
royal authority, and exacted the most unquestioning obedience from his
inferiors.] along with them!" muttered a third, "and burn the whole
pack of them under King George's nose! No matter if it singed him!"
Some such expressions as these, either shouted aloud or muttered under
the breath, were doubtless heard in King Street. The mob, meanwhile,
were growing fiercer and fiercer, and seemed ready even to set the town
on fire for the sake of burning the king's friends out of house and
home. And yet, angry as they were, they sometimes broke into a loud
roar of laughter, as if mischief and destruction were their sport.
But we must now leave the rioters for a time, and take a peep into the
lieutenant-governor's splendid mansion. It was a large brick house
decorated with Ionic pilasters, and stood in Garden Court Street near
the North Square.
While the angry mob in King Street were shouting his name, Lieutenant-
Governor Hutchinson sat quietly in Grandfather's chair, unsuspicious of
the evil that was about to fall upon his head. His beloved family were
in the room with him. He had thrown off his embroidered coat and
powdered wig, and had on a loose flowing gown and purple velvet cap. He
had likewise laid aside the cares of state and all the thoughts that
had wearied and perplexed him throughout the day.
Perhaps in the enjoyment of his home he had forgotten all about the
Stamp Act, and scarcely remembered that there was a king across the
ocean who had resolved to make tributaries of the New Englanders.
Possibly, too, he had forgotten his own ambition, and would not have
exchanged his situation at that moment to be governor or even a lord.
[Illustration: "FATHER, DO YOU NOT HEAR?"]
The wax candles were now lighted, and showed a handsome room well
provided with rich furniture. On the walls hung the pictures of
Hutchinson's ancestors, who had been eminent men in their day and were
honorably remembered in the history of the country. Every object served
to mark the residence of a rich, aristocratic gentleman who held
himself high above the common people and could have nothing to fear
from them. In the corner of a room, thrown carelessly upon a chair,
were the scarlet robes of the chief justice. This high office, as well
as those of lieutenant-governor, councilor, and judge of the probate,
was filled by Hutchinson.
Who or what could disturb the domestic quiet of such a great and
powerful personage as now sat in Grandfather's chair?
The lieutenant-governor's favorite daughter sat by his side. She leaned
on the arm of our great chair and looked up affectionately into her
father's face, rejoicing to perceive that a quiet smile was on his
lips. But suddenly a shade came across her countenance. She seemed to
listen attentively, as if to catch a distant sound.
"What is the matter, my child?" inquired Hutchinson.
"Father, do you not hear a tumult in the streets?" said she.
The lieutenant-governor listened. But his ears were duller than those
of his daughter: he could hear nothing more terrible than the sound of
a summer breeze sighing among the tops of the elm trees.
"No, foolish child!" he replied, playfully patting her cheek. "There is
no tumult. Our Boston mobs are satisfied with what mischief they have
already done. The king's friends need not tremble."
So Hutchinson resumed his pleasant and peaceful meditations, and again
forgot that there were any troubles in the world. But his family were
alarmed, and could not help straining their ears to catch the slightest
sound. More and more distinctly they heard shouts, and then the
trampling of many feet. While they were listening one of the neighbors
rushed breathless into the room.
"A mob! a terrible mob!" cried he. "They have broken into Mr. Storey's
house and into Mr. Hallowell's, and have made themselves drunk with the
liquors in his cellar, and now they are coming hither, as wild as so
many tigers. Flee, lieutenant-governor, for your life! for your life!"
"Father, dear father, make haste!" shrieked his children.
But Hutchinson would not hearken to them. He was an old lawyer, and he
could not realize that the people would do anything so utterly lawless
as to assault him in his peaceful home. He was one of King George's
chief officers, and it would be an insult and outrage upon the king
himself if the lieutenant-governor should suffer any wrong.
"Have no fears on my account," said he. "I am perfectly safe. The
king's name shall be my protection."
Yet he bade his family retire into one of the neighboring houses. His
daughter would have remained, but he forced her away.
The huzzas and riotous uproar of the mob were now heard close at hand.
The sound was terrible, and struck Hutchinson with the same sort of
dread as if an enraged wild beast had broken loose and were roaring for
its prey. He crept softly to the window. There he beheld an immense
concourse of people filling all the street and rolling onward to his
house. It was like a tempestuous flood that had swelled beyond its
bounds and would sweep everything before it. Hutchinson trembled; he
felt at that moment that the wrath of the people was a thousandfold
more terrible than the wrath of a king. That was a moment when a
loyalist and an aristocrat like Hutchinson might have learned how
powerless are kings, nobles, and great men when the low and humble
range themselves against them. King George could do nothing for his
servant now. Had King George been there he could have done nothing for
himself. If Hutchinson had understood this lesson and remembered it, he
need not in after years have been an exile from his native country, nor
finally have laid his bones in a distant land.
[Footnote: THE RIOTERS BROKE INTO THE HOUSE]
There was now a rush against the doors of the house. The people sent up
a hoarse cry. At this instant the lieutenant-governor's daughter, whom
he had supposed to be in a place of safety, ran into the room and threw
her arms around him. She had returned by a private entrance.
"Father, are you mad?" cried she. "Will the king's name protect you
now? Come with me or they will have your life."
"True," muttered Hutchinson to himself; "what care these roarers for
the name of king? I must flee, or they will trample me down on the
floor of my own dwelling."
Hurrying away, he and his daughter made their escape by the private
passage at the moment when the rioters broke into the house. The
foremost of them rushed up the staircase and entered the room which
Hutchinson had just quitted. There they beheld our good old chair
facing them with quiet dignity, while the lion's head seemed to move
its jaws in the unsteady light of their torches. Perhaps the stately
aspect of our venerable friend, which had stood firm through a century
and a half of trouble, arrested them for an instant. But they were
thrust forward by those behind, and the chair lay overthrown.
Then began the work of destruction. The carved and polished mahogany
tables were shattered with heavy clubs and hewn to splinters with axes.
The marble hearths and mantelpieces were broken. The volumes of
Hutchinson's library, so precious to a studious man, were torn out of
their covers and the leaves sent flying out of the windows. Manuscripts
containing secrets of our country's history which are now lost forever
were scattered to the winds. The old ancestral portraits whose fixed
countenances looked down on the wild scene were rent from the walls.
The mob triumphed in their downfall and destruction, as if these
pictures of Hutchinson's forefathers had committed the same offenses as
their descendants. A tall looking-glass which had hitherto presented a
reflection of the enraged and drunken multitude was now smashed into a
thousand fragments. We gladly dismiss the scene from the mirror of our
Before morning dawned the walls of the house were all that remained.
The interior was a dismal scene of ruin. A shower pattered in at the
broken windows, and when Hutchinson and his family returned they stood
shivering in the same room where the last evening had seen them so
peaceful and happy.
[Illustration: North Church Tower, Boston]
THE BOSTON MASSACRE
[Footnote: From _Grandfather's Chair_.]
_By_ NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
It was now the 3d of March, 1770. The sunset music of the British
regiments was heard as usual throughout the town. The shrill fife and
rattling drum awoke the echoes in King Street while the last ray of
sunshine was lingering on the cupola of the Town-house. And now all the
sentinels were posted. One of them marched up and down before the
custom-house, treading a short path through the snow and longing for
the time when they would be dismissed to the warm fireside of the
guard-room. Meanwhile, Captain Preston was perhaps sitting in our great
chair before the hearth of the British Coffee-house. In the course of
the evening there were two or three slight commotions which seemed to
indicate that trouble was at hand. Small parties of young men stood at
the corners of the streets or walked along the narrow pavements. Squads
of soldiers who were dismissed from duty passed by them, shoulder to
shoulder, with the regular step which they had learned at the drill.
Whenever these encounters took place it appeared to be the object of
the young men to treat the soldiers with as much incivility as
"Turn out, you lobster-backs!" one would say.
"Crowd them off the sidewalks!" another would cry. "A red-coat has no
right in Boston streets!"
"Oh, you rebel rascals!" perhaps the soldiers would reply, glaring
fiercely at the young men. "Some day or other we'll make our way
through Boston streets at the point of the bayonet!"
One or twice such disputes as these brought on a scuffle, which passed
off, however, without attracting much notice. About eight o'clock, for
some unknown cause, an alarm bell rang loudly and hurriedly.
At the sound many people ran out of their houses, supposing it to be an
alarm of fire. But there were no flames to be seen, nor was there any
smell of smoke in the clear, frosty air, so that most of the townsmen
went back to their own firesides and sat talking with their wives and
children about the calamities of the times. Others who were younger and
less prudent remained in the streets, for there seems to have been a
presentiment that some strange event was on the eve of taking place.
Later in the evening, not far from nine o'clock several young men
passed by the Town-house and walked down King Street. The sentinel was
still on his post in front of the custom-house, pacing to and fro,
while as he turned a gleam of light from some neighboring window
glittered on the barrel of his musket.
At no great distance were the barracks and the guard-house, where his
comrades were probably telling stories of battle and bloodshed.
Down toward the custom-house, as I told you, came a party of wild young
men. When they drew near the sentinel he halted on his post and took
his musket from his shoulder, ready to present the bayonet at their
[Illustration: NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 1804-1864]
"Who goes there?" he cried, in the gruff, peremptory tones of a
The young men, being Boston boys, felt as if they had a right to walk
their own streets without being accountable to a British red-coat, even
though he challenged them in King George's name. They made some rude
answer to the sentinel. There was a dispute, or perhaps a scuffle.
Other soldiers heard the noise, and ran hastily from the barracks to
assist their comrades. At the same time many of the townspeople rushed
into King Street by various avenues and gathered in a crowd round about
the custom-house. It seemed wonderful how such a multitude had smarted
up all of a sudden.
The wrongs and insults which the people had been suffering for many
months now kindled them into a rage. They threw snowballs and lumps of
ice at the soldiers. As the tumult grew louder it reached the ears of
Captain Preston, the officer of the day. He immediately ordered eight
soldiers of the main guard to take their muskets and follow him. They
marched across the street, forcing their way roughly through the crowd
and pricking the townspeople with their bayonets.
A gentleman (it was Henry Knox, afterward general of the American
artillery) caught Captain Preston's arm.
"For Heaven's sake, sir," exclaimed he, "take heed what you do or there
will be bloodshed!"
"Stand aside!" answered Captain Preston haughtily. "Do not interfere,
sir. Leave me to manage the affair."
Arriving at the sentinel's post, Captain Preston drew up his men in a
semicircle with their faces to the crowd and their rear to the custom-
house. When the people saw the officer and beheld the threatening
attitude with which the soldiers fronted them their rage became almost
"Fire, you lobster-backs!" bellowed some.
"You dare not fire, you cowardly red-coats!" cried others.
"Rush upon them!" shouted many voices. "Drive the rascals to their
barracks! Down with them! Down with them! Let them fire if they dare!"
Amid the uproar the soldiers stood glaring at the people with the
fierceness of men whose trade was to shed blood.
Oh, what a crisis had now arrived! Up to this very moment the angry
feelings between England and America might have been pacified. England
had but to stretch out the hand of reconciliation and acknowledge that
she had hitherto mistaken her rights, but would do so no more. Then the
ancient bond of brotherhood would again have been knit together as
firmly as in old times. The habit of loyalty which had grown as strong
as instinct was not utterly overcome. The perils shared, the victories
won in the Old French War, when the soldiers of the colonies fought
side by side with their comrades from beyond the sea, were unforgotten
yet. England was still that beloved country which the colonists called
their home. King George, though he had frowned upon America, was still
reverenced as a father.
But should the king's soldiers shed one drop of American blood, then it
was a quarrel to the death. Never, never would America rest satisfied
until she had torn down the royal authority and trampled it in the
"Fire if you dare, villains!" hoarsely shouted the people while the
muzzles of the muskets were turned upon them. "You dare not fire!"
[Illustration: THE SOLDIERS FIRED]
They appeared ready to rush upon the leveled bayonets. Captain Preston
waved his sword and uttered a command which could not be distinctly
heard amid the uproar of shouts that issued from a hundred throats. But
his soldiers deemed that he had spoken the fatal mandate, "Fire!" The
flash of their muskets lighted up the street, and the report rang
loudly between the edifices. It was said, too, that the figure of a man
with a cloth hanging down over his face was seen to step into the
balcony of the custom-house and discharge a musket at the crowd.
A gush of smoke had overspread the scene. It rose heavily, as if it
were loath to reveal the dreadful spectacle beneath it. Eleven of the
sons of New England lay stretched upon the street. Some, sorely
wounded, were struggling to rise again. Others stirred not nor groaned,
for they were past all pain. Blood was streaming upon the snow, and
that purple stain in the midst of King Street, though it melted away in
the next day's sun, was never forgotten nor forgiven by the people.
The town drums beat to arms, the alarm bells rang, and an immense
multitude rushed into King Street. Many of them had weapons in their
hands. The British prepared to defend themselves. A whole regiment was
drawn up in the street expecting an attack, for the townsmen appeared
ready to throw themselves upon the bayonets.
Governor Hutchinson hurried to the spot and besought the people to have
patience, promising that strict justice should be done. A day or two
afterward the British troops were withdrawn from town and stationed at
Castle William. Captain Preston and the eight soldiers were tried for
murder, but none of them were found guilty. The judges told the jury
that the insults and violence which had been offered to the soldiers
justified them in firing at the mob.
[Illustration: THE STEED SWEPT ON]
_By_ THOMAS BUCHANAN READ
Up from the South at break of day,
Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,
The affrighted air with a shudder bore,
Like a herald in haste, to the chieftain's door,
The terrible grumble and rumble and roar,
Telling the battle was on once more,
And Sheridan twenty miles away.
And wider still those billows of war
Thundered along the horizon's bar,
And louder yet into Winchester rolled
The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,
Making the blood of the listener cold
As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,
With Sheridan twenty miles away.
But there is a road from Winchester town,
A good, broad highway leading down;
And there through the flash of the morning light,
A steed as black as the steeds of night,
Was seen to pass as with eagle flight.
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with the utmost speed;
Hills rose and fell,--but his heart was gay,
With Sheridan fifteen miles away.
* * * * *
Under his spurning feet the road
Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed,
And the landscape sped away behind
Like an ocean flying before the wind;
And the steed, like a bark fed with furnace ire,
Swept on with his wuld eyes full of fire;
But, lo! he is nearing his heart's desire,
He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,
With Sheridan only five miles away.
The first that the General saw were the groups
Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops;
What was done,--what to do,--a glance told him both,
And, striking his spurs with a terrible oath,
He dashed down the line mid a storm of huzzas,
And the wave of retreat checked its course there because
The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
With foam and with dust the black charger was gray,
By the flash of his eye, and his nostril's play
He seemed to the whole great army to say,
"I have brought you Sheridan all the way
From Winchester, down to save the day!"
Hurrah, hurrah for Sheridan!
Hurrah, hurrah, for horse and man!
And when their statues are placed on high,
Under the dome of the Union sky,--
To the American soldier's Temple of Fame,--
There with the glorious General's name
Be it said in letters both bold and bright:
"Here is the steed that saved the day
By carrying Sheridan into the fight,
From Winchester,--twenty miles away!"
JOAN OF ARC
[Footnote: The body of this selection has been much condensed, though
the introduction is as De Quincey wrote it.]
_By_ THOMAS DE QUINCEY
What is to be thought of _her_? What is to be thought of the poor
shepherd girl from the hills and forests of Lorraine, [Footnote:
Lorraine lay between France and Germany.] that--like the Hebrew
shepherd boy [Footnote: David.] from the hills and forests of Judea--
rose suddenly out of the quiet, out of the safety, out of the religious
inspiration, rooted in deep pastoral solitudes, to a station in the van
of armies, and to the more perilous station at the right hand of kings?
The Hebrew boy inaugurated his patriotic mission by an _act_, by a
victorious _act_, [Footnote: The killing of Goliath.] such as no
man could deny. But so did the girl of Lorraine, if we read her story
as it was read by those who saw her nearest. Adverse armies bore
witness to the boy as no pretender; but so they did to the gentle girl.
Judged by the voices of all who saw them _from a station of good-will_,
both were found true and loyal to any promises involved in their first
acts. Enemies it was that made the difference between their subsequent
fortunes. The boy rose to a splendour and a noonday prosperity, both
personal and public, that rang through the records of his people, and
became a by-word amongst his posterity for a thousand years, until the
sceptre was departing from Judah. [Footnote: See _Genesis_ XLIX: 10.]
The poor, forsaken girl, on the contrary, drank not herself from that
cup of rest which she had secured for France. She never sang together
with the songs that rose in her native Domrémy as echoes to the
departing steps of invaders. She mingled not in the festal dances at
Vaucouleurs which celebrated in rapture the redemption of France. No!
for her voice was then silent; no! for her feet were dust. Pure,
innocent, noble-hearted girl! whom, from earliest youth, ever I believed
in as full of truth and self-sacrifice, this was amongst the pledges for
_thy_ truth, that never once--no, not for a moment of weakness--didst
thou revel in the vision of coronets and honour from man. Coronets for
thee! Oh no! Honours, if they come when all is over, are for those that
share thy blood. Daughter of Domrémy, when the gratitude of thy king
shall awaken, thou wilt be sleeping the sleep of the dead. Call her,
King of France, but she will not hear thee. Cite her by the apparitors
to come and receive a robe of honour, but she will be found _en
contumace._ [Footnote: _In contempt_ is the phrase we now apply to a
person who fails to appear when summoned to appear in court.] When the
thunders of universal France, as even yet may happen, shall proclaim the
grandeur of the poor shepherd girl that gave up all for her country, thy
ear, young shepherd girl, will have been deaf for five centuries. To
suffer and to do, that was thy portion in this life; that was thy
destiny; and not for a moment was it hidden from thyself. Life, thou
saidst, is short; and the sleep which is in the grave is long; let me
use that life, so transitory, for the glory of those heavenly dreams
destined to comfort the sleep which is so long! This pure creature--pure
from every suspicion of even a visionary self-interest, even as she was
pure in senses more obvious--never once did this holy child, as regarded
herself, relax from her belief in the darkness that was traveling to
meet her. She might not prefigure the very manner of her death; she saw
not in vision, perhaps, the aerial altitude of the fiery scaffold, the
spectators without end on every road pouring into Rouen as to a
coronation, the surging smoke, the volleying flames, the hostile faces
all around, the pitying eye that lurked but here and there, until
nature and imperishable truth broke loose from artificial restraints;--
these might not be apparent through the mists of the hurrying future.
But the voice that called her to death, _that_ she heard for ever.
[Illustration: JOAN OF ARC _Statue by Chapu, Luxembourg, Paris _]
Great was the throne of France even in those days, and great was he
that sat upon it; but well Joanna knew that not the throne, nor he that
sat upon it, was for _her_; but, on the contrary, that she was for
_them_; not she by them, but they by her, should rise from the dust.
Gorgeous were the lilies of France, [Footnote: The royal emblem
of France was the _fleur-de-lys_ or iris, but in translation the
phrase appears _lily-flower_.] and for centuries had the privilege
to spread their beauty over land and sea, until, in another century,
the wrath of God and man combined to wither them; but well Joanna knew,
early at Domrémy she had read that bitter truth, that the lilies of
France would decorate no garland for _her_. Flower nor bud, bell
nor blossom, would ever bloom for _her_!
* * * * *
Joanna, as we in England should call her, but, according to her own
statement, Jeanne (or, as M. Michelet asserts, Jean) D'Arc, was born at
Domrémy, a village on the marches of Lorraine and Champagne, and
dependent upon the town of Vaucoulcurs. Domrémy stood upon the
frontiers, and, like other frontiers, produced a _mixed_ race,
representing the _cis_ [Footnote: _This side_.] and the _trans_
[Footnote: _Across_; the other side.]. A river (it is true) formed the
boundary-line at this point--the river Meuse; and _that_, in old days,
might have divided the populations; but in these days it did not: there
were bridges, there were ferries, and weddings crossed from the right
bank to the left. Here lay two great roads, not so much for travelers
that were few, as for armies that were too many by half. These two
roads, one of which was the great highroad between France and Germany,
_decussated_ at this very point; which is a learned way of saying that
they formed a St. Andrew's Cross, or letter X. I hope the compositor
will choose a good large X; in which case the point of intersection, the
_locus_ [Footnote: _Point_ or _place_.] of conflux and intersection for
these four diverging arms, will finish the reader's geographical
education, by showing him to a hair's-breadth where it was that Domrémy
stood. That great four-headed road was a perpetual memento to patriotic
ardour. To say "This way lies the road to Paris, and that other way to
Aix-la-Chapelle; this to Prague, that to Vienna," nourished the warfare
of the heart by daily ministrations of sense. The eye that watched for
the gleams of lance or helmet from the hostile frontier, the ear that
listened for the groaning of wheels, made the high-road itself, with
its relations to centres so remote, into a manual of patriotic duty.
The situation, therefore, _locally_, of Joanna was full of profound
suggestions to a heart that listened for the stealthy steps of change
and fear that too surely were in motion. But, if the place were grand,
the time, the burden of the time, was far more so. The air overhead in
its upper chambers was _hurtling_ with the obscure sound; was dark with
sullen fermenting of storms that had been gathering for a hundred and
thirty years. The battle of Agincourt in Joanna's childhood had reopened
the wounds of France. Crécy and Poictiers, those withering overthrows
for the chivalry of France, had, before Agincourt occurred, been
tranquilized by more than half-a-century; but this resurrection of their
trumpet wails made the whole series of battles and endless skirmishes
take their stations as parts in one drama. The graves that had closed
sixty years ago seemed to fly open in sympathy with a sorrow that echoed
their own. The monarchy of France laboured in extremity, rocked and
reeled like a ship fighting with the darkness of monsoons. The madness
of the poor king (Charles VI) falling in at such a crisis trebled the
awfulness of the time. Even the wild story of the incident which had
immediately occasioned the explosion of this madness--the case of a man
unknown, gloomy, and perhaps maniacal himself, coming out of a forest at
noonday, laying his hand upon the bridle of the king's horse, checking
him for a moment to say, "Oh, king, thou art betrayed," and then
vanishing, no man knew whither, as he had appeared for no man knew
what--fell in with the universal prostration of mind that laid France on
her knees, as before the slow unweaving of some ancient prophetic doom.
The famines, the extraordinary diseases, the insurrections of the
peasantry up and down Europe--these were chords struck from the same
mysterious harp; but these were transitory chords. There had been others
of deeper and more ominous sound. The termination of the Crusades, the
destruction of the Templars, the Papal interdicts, the tragedies caused
or suffered by the house of Anjou, and by the Emperor--these were full
of a more permanent significance.
These were the loftiest peaks of the cloudland in the skies that to the
scientific gazer first caught the colours of the new morning in
advance. But the whole vast range alike of sweeping glooms overhead
dwelt upon all meditative minds, even upon those that could not
distinguish the tendencies nor decipher the forms. It was, therefore,
not her own age alone as affected by its immediate calamities that lay
with such weight upon Joanna's mind, but her own age as one section in
a vast mysterious drama, unweaving through a century back, and drawing
nearer continually to some dreadful crisis. Cataracts and rapids were
heard roaring ahead; and signs were seen far back, by help of old men's
memories, which answered secretly to signs now coming forward on the
eye, even as locks answer to keys. It was not wonderful that in such a
haunted solitude, with such a haunted heart, Joanna should see angelic
visions, and hear angelic voices. These voices whispered to her for
ever the duty, self-imposed, of delivering France. Five years she
listened to these monitory voices with internal struggles. At length
she could resist no longer. Doubt gave way; and she left her home for
ever in order to present herself at the dauphin's court.
The education of this poor girl was mean according to the present
standard: was ineffably grand, according to a purer philosophic
standard: and only not good for our age because for us it would be
unattainable. She read nothing, for she could not read; but she had
heard others read parts of the Roman martyrology. She wept in sympathy
with the sad _Misereres_ [Footnote: The penitential psalm which, set to
music, is one of the most impressive Roman Catholic chants.] of the
Romish Church; she rose to heaven with the glad triumphant _Te Deums_
[Footnote: _Te Deum laudamus_ means "We praise thee, O God" Grand
anthems of triumph and thanksgiving are here called "Te Deums" from the
first words of an ancient Latin hymn.] of Rome; she drew her comfort and
her vital strength from the rites of the same Church. But, next after
these spiritual advantages, she owed most to the advantages of her
situation. The fountain of Domrémy was on the brink of a boundless
forest; and it was haunted to that degree by fairies that the parish
priest (_curé_) was obliged to read mass there once a year, in order to
keep them in any decent bounds. Fairies are important, even in a
statistical view: certain weeds mark poverty in the soil; fairies mark
its solitude. As surely as the wolf retires before cities does the fairy
sequester herself from the haunts of the licensed victualer. A village
is too much for her nervous delicacy: at most, she can tolerate a
distant view of a hamlet. We may judge, therefore, by the uneasiness and
extra trouble which they gave to the parson, in what strength the
fairies mustered at Domrémy, and, by a satisfactory consequence, how
thinly sown with men and women must have been that region even in its
inhabited spots. But the forests of Domrémy--those were the glories of
the land: for in them abode mysterious powers and ancient secrets that
towered into tragic strength. "Abbeys there were, and abbey windows,"--
"like Moorish temples of the Hindoos,"--that exercised even princely
power both in Lorraine and in the German Diets. These had their sweet
bells that pierced the forests for many a league at matins or vespers,
and each its own dreamy legend. Few enough, and scattered enough, were
these abbeys, so as in no degree to disturb the deep solitude of the
region; yet many enough to spread a network or awning of Christian
sanctity over what else might have seemed a heathen wilderness. This
sort of religious talisman being secured, a man the most afraid of
ghosts (like myself, suppose, or the reader) becomes armed into courage
to wander for days in their sylvan recesses. About six hundred years
before Joanna's childhood, Charlemagne was known to have hunted there.
That, of itself, was a grand incident in the traditions of a forest or a
chase. In these vast forests, also, were to be found (if anywhere to be
found) those mysterious fawns that tempted solitary hunters into
visionary and perilous pursuits. Here was seen (if anywhere seen) that
ancient stag who was already nine hundred years old, but possibly a
hundred or two more, when met by Charlemagne; and the thing was put
beyond doubt by the inscription upon his golden collar. I believe
Charlemagne knighted the stag; and, if ever he is met again by a king,
he ought to be made an earl, or, being upon the marches of France, a
marquis. Observe, I don't absolutely vouch for all these things; my own
opinion varies. On a fine breezy forenoon I am audaciously sceptical;
but as twilight sets in my credulity grows steadily, till it becomes
equal to anything that could be desired.
Such traditions, or any others that (like the stag) connect distant
generations with each other, are, for that cause, sublime; and the
sense of the shadowy, connected with such appearances that reveal
themselves or not according to circumstances, leaves a colouring of
sanctity over ancient forests, even in those minds that utterly reject
the legend as a fact.
But, apart from all distinct stories of that order, in any solitary
frontier between two great empires--as here, for instance, or in the
desert between Syria and the Euphrates--there is an inevitable
tendency, in minds of any deep sensibility, to people the solitudes
with phantom images of powers that were of old so vast. Joanna,
therefore, in her quiet occupation of a shepherdess, would be led
continually to brood over the political condition of her country by the
traditions of the past no less than by the mementos of the local
It is not requisite for the honour of Joanna, nor is there in this
place room, to pursue her brief career of _action_. That, though
wonderful, forms the earthly part of her story; the spiritual part is
the saintly passion of her imprisonment, trial, and execution. It is
sufficient, as concerns the former section of Joanna's life, to say
that she fulfilled, to the height of her promises, the restoration of
the prostrate throne. France had become--a province of England, and for
the ruin of both, if such a yoke could be maintained. Dreadful
pecuniary exhaustion caused the English energy to droop; and that
critical opening _La Pucelle_ used with a corresponding felicity
of audacity and suddenness (that were in themselves portentous) for
introducing the wedge of French native resources, for rekindling the
national pride, and for planting the dauphin once more upon his feet.
When Joanna appeared, he had been on the point of giving up the
struggle with the English, distressed as they were, and of flying to
the south of France. She taught him to blush for such abject counsels.
She liberated Orleans, that great city, so decisive by its fate for the
issue of the war, and then beleaguered by the English with an elaborate
application of engineering skill unprecedented in Europe. Entering the
city after sunset on the 29th of April, she sang mass on Sunday, May 8,
for the entire disappearance of the besieging force. On the 29th of
June she fought and gained over the English the decisive battle of
Patay; on the 9th of July she took Troyes by a coup-de-main [Footnote:
An unexpected and powerful attack] from a mixed garrison of English and
Burgundians; on the 15th of that month she carried the dauphin into
Rheims; on Sunday the 17th she crowned him; and there she rested from
her labour of triumph. All that was to be _done_ she had now
accomplished: what remained was--to _suffer_.
But she, the child that, at nineteen, had wrought wonders so great for
France, was she not elated? Did she not lose, as men so often
_have_ lost, all sobriety of mind when standing upon the pinnacle
of success so giddy? Let her enemies declare. During the progress of
her movement, and in the centre of ferocious struggles, she had
manifested the temper of her feelings by the pity which she had
everywhere expressed for the suffering enemy. She forwarded to the
English leaders a touching invitation to unite with the French as
brothers, in a common crusade against infidels--thus opening the road
for a soldierly retreat. She interposed to protect the captive or the
wounded; she mourned over the excesses of her countrymen; she threw
herself off her horse to kneel by the dying English soldier, and to
comfort him with such ministrations, physical or spiritual, as his
situation allowed. "_Nolebat_," says the evidence, "_uti ense suo, aut
quemquam interficere_." [Footnote: She wished not to kill anyone with
her sword] She sheltered the English that invoked her aid in her own
quarters. She wept as she beheld, stretched on the field of battle, so
many brave enemies that had died without confession. And, as regarded
herself, her elation expressed itself thus:--On the day when, she had
finished her work, she wept; for she knew that, when her _triumphal_
task was done, her end must be approaching. Her aspirations pointed only
to a place which seemed to her more than usually full of natural piety,
as one in which it would give her pleasure to die. And she uttered,
between smiles and tears, as a wish that inexpressibly fascinated her
heart, and yet was half-fantastic, a broken prayer that God would return
her to the solitudes from which he had drawn her, and suffer her to
become a shepherdess once more. It was a natural prayer, because nature
has laid a necessity upon every human heart to seek for rest and to
shrink from torment. Yet, again, it was a half-fantastic prayer,
because, from childhood upwards, visions that she had no power to
mistrust, and the voices which sounded in her ear for ever, had long
since persuaded her mind that for _her_ no such prayer could be granted.
Too well she felt that her mission must be worked out to the end, and
that the end was now at hand. All went wrong from this time. She herself
had created the _funds_ out of which the French restoration should grow:
but she was not suffered to witness their development, or their
prosperous application. More than one military plan was entered upon
which she did not approve. But she still continued to expose her person
as before. Severe wounds had not taught her caution. And at length, in a
sortie from Compičgne (whether through treacherous collusion on the part
of her own friends is doubtful to this day), she was made prisoner by
the Burgundians; and finally surrendered to the English.
Now came her trial. This trial, moving of course under English
influence, was conducted in chief by the Bishop of Beauvais. He was a
Frenchman, sold to English interests, and hoping, by favour of the
English leaders, to reach the highest preferment.
Never from the foundations of the earth was there such a trial as this,
if it were laid open in all its beauty of defence, and all its
bullishness of attack. Oh, child of France! shepherdess; peasant girl!
trodden under foot by all around thee, how I honour thy flashing
intellect, quick as God's lightning, and true as God's lightning to its
mark, that ran before France and laggard Europe by many a century,
confounding the malice of the ensnarer, and making dumb the oracles of
On Easter Sunday, when the trial had been long proceeding, the poor
girl fell so ill as to cause a belief that she had been poisoned. It
was not poison. Nobody had any interest in hastening a death so
certain. M. Michelet, whose sympathies with all feelings are so quick
that one would gladly see them always as justly directed, reads the
case most truly. Joanna had a twofold malady. She was visited by a
paroxysm of the complaint called _home-sickness_. The cruel nature
of her imprisonment, and its length, could not but point her solitary
thoughts, in darkness and in chains (for chained she was), to Domrémy.
And the season, which was the most heavenly period of the spring, added
stings to this yearning. That was one of her maladies--_nostalgia_, as
medicine calls it; the other was weariness and exhaustion from daily
combats with malice. She saw that everybody hated her, and thirsted for
her blood; nay, many kind-hearted creatures that would have pitied her
profoundly, as regarded all political charges, had their natural
feelings warped by the belief that she had dealings with fiendish
powers. She knew she was to die; that was _not_ the misery; the misery
was that this consummation could not be reached without so much
intermediate strife, as if she were contending for some chance (where
chance was none) of happiness, or were dreaming for a moment of escaping
the inevitable. Why, then, _did_ she contend? Knowing that she would
reap nothing from answering her persecutors, why did she not retire by
silence from the superfluous contest? It was because her quick and eager
loyalty to truth would not suffer her to see it darkened by frauds which
_she_ could expose, but others, even of candid listeners, perhaps, could
not; it was through that imperishable grandeur of soul which taught her
to submit meekly and without a struggle to her punishment, but taught
her _not_ to submit--no, not for a moment--to calumny as to facts, or to
misconstruction as to motives. Besides, there were secretaries all
around the court taking down her words. That was meant for no good to
_her_. But the end does not always correspond to the meaning. And
Joanna might say to herself, "These words that will be used against me
tomorrow and the next day perhaps in some nobler generation may rise
again for my justification."
On the Wednesday after Trinity Sunday in 1431, being then about
nineteen years of age, the Maid of Arc underwent her martyrdom. She was
conducted before mid-day, guarded by eight hundred spearmen, to a
platform of prodigious height, constructed of wooden billets supported
by occasional walls of lath and plaster, and traversed by hollow spaces
in every direction for the creation of air-currents. The pile "struck
terror," says M. Michelet, "by its height;" and, as usual, the English
purpose in this is viewed as one of pure malignity. But there are two
ways of explaining all that. It is probable that the purpose was
The circumstantial incidents of the execution, unless with more space
than I can now command, I should be unwilling to relate. I should fear
to injure, by imperfect report, a martyrdom which to myself appears so
unspeakably grand. Yet I shall, in parting, allude to one or two traits
in Joanna's demeanour on the scaffold, and to one or two in that of the
bystanders. The reader ought to be reminded that Joanna D'Arc was
subjected to an unusually unfair trial of opinion. Any of the elder
Christian martyrs had not much to fear of _personal_ rancour. The martyr
was chiefly regarded as the enemy of Caesar; at times, also, where any
knowledge of the Christian faith and morals existed, with the enmity
that arises spontaneously in the worldly against the spiritual. But the
martyr, though disloyal, was not supposed to be therefore anti-national;
and still less was _individually_ hateful. What was hated (if anything)
belonged to his class, not to himself separately. Now, Joanna, if hated
at all, was hated personally, and in Rouen on national grounds. Hence
there would be a certainty of calumny arising against _her_ such as
would not affect martyrs in general. That being the case, it would
follow of necessity that some people would impute to her a willingness
to recant. No innocence could escape _that_. Now, had she really
testified this willingness on the scaffold, it would have argued nothing
at all but the weakness of a genial nature shrinking from the instant
approach of torment. And those will often pity that weakness most who,
in their own persons, would yield to it least. Meantime, there never was
a calumny uttered that drew less support from the recorded
circumstances. It rests upon no _positive_ testimony, and it has a
weight of contradicting testimony to stem.
Now, I affirm that she did not recant. I throw the _onus_ [Footnote:
Burden.] of the argument not on presumable tendencies of nature, but on
the known facts of that morning's execution, as recorded by multitudes.
What else, I demand, than mere weight of metal, absolute nobility of
deportment, broke the vast line of battle then arrayed against her? What
else but her meek, saintly demeanour won, from the enemies that till now
had believed her a witch, tears of rapturous admiration? "Ten thousand
men," says M. Michelet himself--"ten thousand men wept"; and of these
ten thousand the majority were political enemies knitted together by
cords of superstition. What else was it but her constancy, united with
her angelic gentleness, that drove the fanatic English soldier--who had
sworn to throw a faggot on her scaffold, as _his_ tribute of abhorrence,
that _did_ so, that fulfilled his vow--suddenly to turn away a penitent
for life, saying everywhere that he had seen a dove rising upon wings to
heaven from the ashes where she had stood? What else drove the
executioner to kneel at every shrine for pardon to _his_ share in the
tragedy? And, if all this were insufficient, then I cite the closing act
of her life as valid on her behalf, were all other testimonies against
her. The executioner had been directed to apply his torch from below. He
did so. The fiery smoke rose upwards in billowing volumes. A Dominican
monk was then standing almost at her side. Wrapped up in his sublime
office, he saw not the danger, but still persisted in his prayers. Even
then, when the last enemy was racing up the fiery stairs to seize her,
even at that moment did this noblest of girls think only for _him_, the
one friend that would not forsake her, and not for herself; bidding him
with her last breath to care for his own preservation, but to leave
_her_ to God. That girl, whose latest breath ascended in this sublime
expression of self-oblivion, did not utter the word _recant_ either with
her lips or in her heart. No, she did not, though one should rise from
the dead to swear it.
* * * * *
The shepherd girl that had delivered France--she, from her dungeon,
she, from her baiting at the stake, she, from her duel with fire, as
she entered her last dream--saw Domrémy, saw the fountain of Domrémy,
saw the pomp of forests in which her childhood had wandered. That
Easter festival which man had denied to her languishing heart--that
resurrection of springtime, which the darkness of dungeons had
intercepted from _her_, hungering after the glorious liberty of
forests--were by God given back into her hands, as jewels that had been
stolen from her by robbers. With those, perhaps (for the minutes of
dreams can stretch into ages), was given back to her by God the bliss
of childhood. By special privilege for _her_ might be created, in
this farewell dream, a second childhood, innocent as the first; but
not, like _that_, sad with the gloom of a fearful mission in the
rear. This mission had now been fulfilled. The storm was weathered; the
skirts even of that mighty storm were drawing off. The blood that she
was to reckon for had been exacted; the tears that she was to shed in
secret had been paid to the last. The hatred to herself in all eyes had
been faced steadily, had been suffered, had been survived. And in her
last fight upon the scaffold she had triumphed gloriously; victoriously
she had tasted the stings of death. For all, except this comfort from
her farewell dream, she had died--died, amidst the tears of ten
thousand enemies died, amidst the drums and trumpets of armies--died,
amidst peals redoubling upon peals, volleys upon volleys, from the
saluting clarions of martyrs.
Bishop of Beauvais! because the guilt-burdened man is in dreams haunted
and waylaid by the most frightful of his crimes, and because upon that
fluctuating mirror-rising (like the mocking mirrors of _mirage_ in
Arabian deserts) from the fens of death--most of all are reflected the
sweet countenances which the man has laid in ruins; therefore I know,
bishop, that you also, entering your final dream, saw Domrémy. That
fountain, of which the witnesses spoke so much, showed itself to your
eyes in pure morning dews; but neither dews, nor the holy dawn, could
cleanse away the bright spots of innocent blood upon its surface. By
the fountain, bishop, you saw a woman seated, that hid her face. But,
as _you_ draw near, the woman raises her wasted features. Would Domrémy
know them again for the features of her child? Ah, but _you_ know them,
bishop, well! Oh, mercy! what a groan was _that_ which the servants,
waiting outside the bishop's dream at his bedside, heard from his
labouring heart, as at this moment he turned away from the fountain and
the woman, seeking rest in the forests afar off. Yet not _so_ to escape
the woman, whom once again he must behold before he dies. In the forests
to which he prays for pity, will he find a respite? What a tumult, what
a gathering of feet is there! In glades where only wild deer should run,
armies and nations are assembling. There is the Bishop of Beauvais,
clinging to the shelter of thickets. What building is that which hands
so rapid are raising? Is it a martyr's scaffold? Will they burn the
child of Domrémy a second time? No: it is a tribunal that rises to the
clouds. Shall my Lord of Beauvais sit again upon the judgment-seat, and
again number the hours for the innocent? Ah no! he is the prisoner at
the bar. Already all is waiting: the mighty audience is gathered, the
Court is hurrying to their seats, the witnesses are arrayed, the judge
is taking his place. My lord, have you no counsel? "Counsel I have none:
in heaven above, or on earth beneath, counsellor there is none now that
would take a brief from _me:_ all are silent." Is it, indeed, come to
this? Alas! the time is short, the tumult is wondrous, the crowd
stretches away into infinity, but yet I will search in it for somebody
to take your brief; I know of somebody that will be your counsel. Who
is this that cometh from Domrémy? Who is she in bloody coronation robes
from Rheims? Who is she that cometh with blackened flesh from walking
the furnaces of Rouen? This is she, the shepherd girl, counsellor that
had none for herself, whom I choose, bishop, for yours. She it is, I
engage, that shall take my lord's brief. She it is, bishop, that would
plead for you: yes, bishop, SHE--when heaven and earth are silent.
_By_ CARDINAL WISEMAN
Note.--The selection following has been adapted from _Fabiola_, or _The
Church of the Catacombs_, a tale by Cardinal Wiseman. Pancratius, one of
the early Christian martyrs, was a boy of fourteen at the time the story
opens and was but little older at his death. At school his nobility
incurred the enmity of Corvinus, whose hatred lead to the early
denunciation of Pancratius.
When the Roman emperor decided to exterminate the Christians and sought
to publish the bloody edict, Pancratius in a perilous attempt succeeded
in tearing down and burning the royal proclamation. Corvinus had a
narrow escape from the emperor's wrath, and his hatred of Pancratius
increased. Unable to secure another victim, Corvinus seized his old
schoolmaster and gave him up to torture and death at the hands of his
pupils. On his return from this bloody expedition, Corvinus, drunken
and reckless, was thrown from his chariot into a canal and would have
drowned had not Pancratius rescued him. At that time Pancratius
recovered the knife with which he had cut down the edict and which was
kept by Corvinus as evidence against the young Christian. Ignorant of
his rescuer's name, Corvinus still sought for Pancratius, and this
selection shows how he succeeded.
At length they came near one of the chambers which flanked the eastern
side of the longer arm of the hall. [Footnote: Corvinus and his,
companion are searching among the Christian captives at work on the
baths of Diocletian for suitable men to fight the lions in the
amphitheater.] In one of them they saw a number of convicts (if we must
use the term) resting after their labor. The center of the group was an
old man, most venerable in appearance, with a long white beard
streaming on his breast, mild in aspect, gentle in word, cheerful in
his feeble action. It was the confessor Saturninus, now in his
eightieth year, yet loaded with two heavy chains. At each side were the
more youthful laborers, Cyriacus and Sisinnius, of whom it is recorded,
that in addition to their own task-work, one on each side, they bore up
his bonds. Indeed, we are told that their particular delight was, over
and above their own assigned portion of toil, to help their weaker
brethren, and perform their work for them.
Several other captives lay on the ground about the old man's feet, as
he, seated on a block of marble, was talking to them with a sweet
gravity, which riveted their attention, and seemed to make them forget
their sufferings. What was he saying to them? Was he requiting Cyriacus
for his extraordinary charity by telling him that, in commemoration of
it, a portion of the immense pile which they were toiling to raise
would be dedicated to God under his invocation, become a title, and
close its line of titulars by an illustrious name? Or was he recounting
another more glorious vision, how this smaller oratory was to be
superseded and absorbed by a glorious temple in honour of the Queen of
Angels, which should comprise that entire superb hall, with its
vestibule, under the directing skill of the mightiest artistic genius
that the world should ever see? [Footnote: Michelangelo--The noble and
beautiful church of Sta Maria degh Angeli was made by him out of the
central hall and circular vestibule. The floor was afterwards raised,
and thus the pillars were shortened and the height of the building
diminished by several feet.] What more consoling thought could have
been vouchsafed to those poor oppressed captives than that they were
not so much erecting baths for the luxury of a heathen people, or the
prodigality of a wicked emperor, as in truth building up one of the
stateliest churches in which the true God is worshiped, and the Virgin
Mother, who bore Him incarnate, is affectionately honoured?
From a distance Corvinus saw the group, and pausing, asked the
superintendent the names of those who composed it. He enumerated them
readily; then added, "You may as well take that old man, if you like;
for he is not worth his keep so far as work goes."
"Thank you," replied Corvinus; "a pretty figure he would cut in the
amphitheater. The people are not to be put off with decrepit old
creatures, whom a single stroke of a bear's or tiger's paw kills
outright. They like to see young blood flowing, and plenty of life
struggling against wounds and blows before death comes to decide the
contest. But there is one there whom you have not named. His face is
turned from us; he has not the prisoner's garb, nor any kind of fetter.
Who can it be?"
"I do not know his name," answered Rabirius; "but he is a fine youth,
who spends much of his time among the convicts, relieves them and even
at times helps them in their work. He pays, of course, well for being
allowed all this; so it is not our business to ask questions."
"But it is mine, though," said Corvinus sharply; and he advanced for
this purpose. The voice caught the stranger's ear, and he turned round
Corvinus sprang upon him with the eye and action of a wild beast,
seized him, and called out with exultation, "Fetter him instantly. This
time, at least, Pancratius, thou shalt not escape."
* * * * *
Pancratius, with some twenty more, fettered and chained together, was
led through the streets to prison. As they were thus dragged along,
staggering and stumbling helplessly, they were unmercifully struck by
the guards who conducted them; and any persons near enough to reach
them dealt them blows and kicks without remorse. Those further off
pelted them with stones or offal, and assailed them with insulting
ribaldry. They reached the Mamertine prison at last, and were thrust
down into it, and found there already other victims, of both sexes,
awaiting their time of sacrifice. The youth had just time, while he was
being handcuffed, to request one of the captors to inform his mother
and Sebastian of what had happened; and he slipt his purse into his
A prison in ancient Rome was not the place to which a poor man might
court committal, hoping there to enjoy better fare and lodging than he
did at home. Two or three of these dungeons, for they are nothing
better, still remain; and a brief description of the one which we have
mentioned will give our readers some idea of what confessorship cost,
independent of martyrdom.
The Mamertine prison is composed of two square subterranean chambers,
one below the other, with only one round aperture in the center of each
vault, through which alone light, air, food, furniture, and men could
pass. When the upper story was full, we may imagine how much of the two
first could reach the lower. No other means of ventilation, drainage,
or access could exist. The walls, of large stone blocks, had, or rather
have, rings fastened into them, for securing the prisoners, but many
used to be laid on the floor, with their feet fastened in the stocks;
and the ingenious cruelty of the persecutors often increased the
discomfort of the damp stone floor, by strewing with broken potsherds
this only bed allowed to the mangled limbs and welted backs of the
* * * * *
Pancratius and his companions stood before the judge, for it wanted
only three days to the _munus,_ or games, at which they were to "fight
with wild beasts."
"What art thou?" he asked of one.
"I am a Christian, by the help of God," was the rejoinder.
At length, after having put similar questions and received similar
answers from all the others, except from one wretched man, who, to the
grief of the rest, wavered and agreed to offer sacrifice, the prefect
turned to Pancratius, and thus addressed him: "And now, insolent youth,
who hadst the audacity to tear down the Edict of the divine emperors,
even for thee there shall be mercy if yet thou wilt sacrifice to the
gods. Show thus at once thy piety and thy wisdom, for thou art yet but
Pancratius signed himself with the sign of the saving cross, and calmly
replied, "I am the servant of Christ. Him I acknowledge by my mouth,
hold firm in my heart, _incessantly adore_. This youth which you
behold in me has the--wisdom of grey hairs, if it worship but one God.
But your gods, with those who adore them, are destined to eternal
"Strike him on the mouth for his blasphemy, and beat him with rods,"
exclaimed the angry judge.
"I thank thee," replied meekly the noble youth, "that thus I suffer
some of the same punishment as was inflicted on my Lord."
The prefect then pronounced sentence in the usual form. "Lucianus,
Pancratius, Rusticus, and others, and the women Secunda and Rufina, who
have all owned themselves Christians, and refuse to obey the sacred
emperor, or worship the gods of Rome, we order to be exposed to wild
beasts in the Flavian amphitheater."
The mob howled with delight and hatred, and accompanied the confessors
back to their prison with this rough music, but they were gradually
overawed by the dignity of their gait, and the shining calmness of
their countenances. Some men asserted that they must have perfumed
themselves, for they could perceive a fragrant atmosphere surrounding
* * * * *
The morning broke light and frosty; and the sun, glittering on the
gilded ornaments of the temples and other public buildings, seemed to
array them in holiday splendor. And the people, too, soon come forth
into the streets in their gayest attire, decked out with unusual
richness. The various streams converge towards the Flavian
amphitheater, now better known by the name of the Coliseum. Each one
directs his steps to the arch indicated by the number of his ticket,
and thus the huge monster keeps sucking in by degrees that stream of
life, which soon animates and enlivens its oval tiers over tiers of
steps, till its interior is tapestried all round with human faces, and
its walls seem to rock and wave to and fro, by the swaying of the
living mass. And, after this shall have been gorged with blood and
inflamed with fury, it will melt once more, and rush out in a thick
continuous flow through the many avenues by which it entered, now
bearing their fitting name of _Vomitoria;_ for never did a more
polluted stream of the dregs and pests of humanity issue from an
unbecoming reservoir, through ill-assorted channels, than the Roman
mob, drunk with the blood of martyrs, gushing forth from the pores of
The emperor came to the games surrounded by his court, with all the
pomp and circumstance which befitted an imperial festival, keen as any
of his subjects to witness the cruel games, and to feed his eyes with a
feast of carnage. His throne was on the eastern side of the
amphitheater, where a large space, called the _pulvinar,_ was
reserved, and richly decorated for the imperial court.
Various sports succeeded one another; and many a gladiator, killed or
wounded, had sprinkled the bright sand with blood, when the people,
eager for fiercer combats, began to call, or roar, for the Christians
and the wild beasts. It is time, therefore, for us to think of our
Before the citizens were astir, they had been removed from the prison
to a strong chamber called the _spoliatorium,_ the press-room,
where their fetters and chains were removed. An attempt was made to
dress them gaudily as heathen priests and priestesses; but they
resisted, urging that as they had come spontaneously to the fight, it
was unfair to make them appear in a disguise which they abhorred.
During the early part of the day they remained thus together
encouraging one another, and singing the Divine praises, in spite of
the shouts which drowned their voices from time to time.
While they were thus engaged, Corvinus entered, and, with a look of
insolent triumph, thus accosted Pancratius:
"Thanks to the gods, the day is come which I have long desired. It has
been a tiresome and tough struggle between us who should fall
uppermost. I have won it."
"How sayest thou, Corvinus; when and how have I contended with thee?"
"Always--everywhere. Thou hast haunted me in my dreams; thou hast
danced before me like a meteor, and I have tried in vain to grasp thee.
Thou hast been my tormentor, my evil genius. I have hated thee; devoted
thee to the infernal gods; cursed thee and loathed thee; and now my day
of vengeance is come."
"Methinks," replied Pancratius, smiling, "this does not look like a
combat. It has been all on one side; for _I_ have done none of these
things towards thee."
"No? thinkest thou that I believe thee, when thou hast lain ever as a
viper on my path, to bite my heel and overthrow me?"
"Where, I again ask?"
"Everywhere, I repeat. At school; in the Forum; in the cemetery; in my
father's own court. Yes, everywhere."
"And nowhere else but where thou hast named? When thy chariot was
dashed furiously along the Appian way, didst thou not hear the tramp of
horses' hoofs trying to overtake thee?"
"Wretch!" exclaimed the prefect's son in a fury; "and was it thy
accursed steed which, purposely urged forward, frightened mine, and
nearly caused my death?"
"No, Corvinus, hear me calmly. It is the last time we shall speak
together. I was travelling quietly with a companion towards Rome, after
having paid the last rites to our master Cassianus" (Corvinus winced,
for he knew not this before), "when I heard the clatter of a runaway
chariot, and then, indeed, I put spurs to my horse; and it is well for
thee that I did."
"Because I reached thee just in time--when thy strength was nearly
exhausted, and thy blood almost frozen by repeated plunges in the cold
canal; and when thy arm, already benumbed, had let go its last stay,
and thou wast falling backwards for the last time into the water. I saw
thee--I knew thee, as I took hold of thee, insensible. I had in my
grasp the murderer of one most dear to me. Divine justice seemed to
have overtaken him; there was only my will between him and his doom. It
was my day of vengeance, and I fully gratified it."
"Ha! and how, pray?"
"By drawing thee out, and laying thee on the bank, and chafing thee
till thy heart resumed its functions; and then consigning thee to thy
servants, rescued from death."
"Thou liest!" screamed Corvinus; "my servants told me that _they_ drew
"And did they give thee my knife, together with thy leopard-skin purse,
which I found on the ground, after I had dragged thee forth?"
"No; they said the purse was lost in the canal. It _was_ a leopard-skin
purse, the gift of an African sorceress. What sayest thou of the knife?"
"That it is here, see it, still rusty with the water; thy purse I gave
to thy slaves; my own knife I retained for myself; look at it again.
Dost thou believe me now? Have I been always a viper on thy path?"
Too ungenerous to acknowledge that he had been conquered in the
struggle between them, Corvinus only felt himself withered, degraded,
before his late school fellow, crumbled like a clot of dust in his
hands. His very heart seemed to him to blush. He felt sick, and
staggered, hung down his head, and sneaked away. He cursed the games,
the emperor, the yelling rabble, the roaring beasts, his horses and
chariot, his slaves, his father, himself--but he could not, for his
life, curse Pancratius.
He had reached the door, when the youth called him back. He turned and
looked at him with a glance of respect, almost approaching to love.
Pancratius put his hand on his arm, and said, "Corvinus, I have freely
forgiven thee. There is One above, who cannot forgive without
repentance. Seek pardon from Him."
Corvinus slunk away, and appeared no more that day. He lost the sight
on which his coarse imagination had gloated for days, which he had
longed for during months.
As he was leaving the prisoners, the _lanista_, or master of the
gladiators, entered the room and summoned them to the combat. They
hastily embraced one another, and took leave on earth. They entered the
arena, or pit of the amphitheater, opposite the imperial seat, and had
to pass between two files of _venatores_, or huntsmen, who had the
care of the wild beasts, each armed with a heavy whip wherewith he
inflicted a blow on every one, as he went by him. They were then
brought forward, singly or in groups, as the people desired, or the
directors of the spectacle chose. Sometimes the intended prey was
placed on an elevated platform to be more conspicuous; at another time
he was tied up to posts to be more helpless. A favorite sport was to
bundle up a female victim in a net, and expose her to be rolled,
tossed, or gored by wild cattle. One encounter with a single wild beast
often finished the martyr's course; while occasionally three or four
were successively let loose, without their inflicting a mortal wound.
But we must content ourselves with following the last steps of our
youthful hero, Pancratius. As he was passing through the corridor that
led to the amphitheater, he saw Sebastian standing on one side, with a
lady closely enwrapped in her mantle, and veiled. He at once recognized
her, stopped before her, knelt, and taking her hand, affectionately
kissed it. "Bless me, my dear mother," he said, "in this your promised
"See, my child, the heavens," she replied, "and look up thither, where
Christ with His saints expecteth thee. Fight the good fight, for thy
soul's sake, and show thyself faithful and steadfast in thy Saviour's
love. Remember him too whose relic thou bearest round thy neck."
[Footnote: The father of Pancratius had suffered martyrdom, and the
relic mentioned was stained with the parent's blood.]
"Its price shall be doubled in thine eyes, my sweet mother, ere many
hours are over."
"On, on, an let us have none of this fooling," said the _lanista_,
with a stroke of his cane.
Lucina retreated; while Sebastian pressed the hand of her son, and
whispered in his ear, "Courage, dearest boy; may God bless you! I shall
be close behind the emperor; give me a last look there, and--your
Pancratius soon stood in the midst of the arena, the last of the
faithful band. He had been reserved, in hopes that the sight of others'
sufferings might shake his constancy; but the effect had been the
reverse. He took his stand where he was placed, and his yet delicate
frame contrasted with the swarthy and brawny limbs of the executioners
who surrounded him. They now left him alone; and we cannot better
describe him than Eusebius, an eye-witness, does a youth a few years
"You might have seen a tender youth, who had not yet entered his
twentieth year, standing without fetters, with his hands stretched
forth in the form of a cross, and praying to God most attentively, with
a fixed and untrembling heart; not retiring from the place where he
first stood, nor swerving the least, while bears and leopards,
breathing fury and death in their very snort, were just rushing on to
tear his limbs in pieces. And yet, I know not how, their jaws seemed
seized and closed by some divine and mysterious power, and they drew
Such was the attitude, and such the privilege of our heroic youth. The
mob were frantic, as they saw one wild beast after another careering
madly round him, roaring and lashing its sides with its tail, while he
seemed placed in a charmed circle, which they could not approach. A
furious bull, let loose upon him, dashed madly forward, with his neck
bent down, then stopped suddenly, as though he had struck his head
against a wall, pawed the ground, and scattered the dust around him,
"Provoke him, thou coward!" roared out, still louder, the enraged
Pancratius awoke as from a trance, and waving his arms, ran towards his
enemy; but the savage brute, as if a lion had been rushing on him,
turned round, and ran away towards the entrance, where, meeting his
keeper, he tossed him high into the air. All were disconcerted except
the brave youth, who had resumed his attitude of prayer; when one of
the crowd shouted out, "He has a charm round his neck; he is a
sorcerer!" The whole multitude reechoed the cry, till the emperor,
having commanded silence, called out to him, "Take that amulet from thy
neck, and cast it from thee."
"Sire," replied the youth, with a musical voice, that rang sweetly
through the hushed amphitheater, "it is no charm that I wear, but a
memorial of my father, who in this very place made gloriously the same
confession which I now humbly make: I am a Christian; and for love of
Jesus Christ, God and man, I gladly give my life. Do not take from me
this only legacy. Try once more; it was a panther which gave him his
crown; perhaps it will bestow the same on me."
For an instant there was dead silence; the multitude seemed softened,
won. The graceful form of the gallant youth, his now inspired
countenance, the thrilling music of his voice, the intrepidity of his
speech, and his generous self-devotion to his cause, had wrought upon
that cowardly herd. Pancratius felt it, and his heart quailed before
their mercy more than before their rage; he had promised himself heaven
that day; was he to be disappointed? Tears started into his eyes, as
stretching forth his arms once more in the form of a cross, he called
"Today; oh yes, today, most blessed Lord, is the appointed day of Thy
coming. Tarry not longer; show now Thy mercy to me who in Thee
"The panther!" shouted out a voice. "The panther!" responded twenty.
"The panther!" thundered forth a hundred thousand, in a chorus like the
roaring of an avalanche. A cage started up, as if by magic, from the
midst of the sand, and as it rose, its side fell down, and freed the
captive of the desert. With one graceful bound the elegant savage
gained its liberty; and, though enraged by darkness, confinement, and
hunger, it seemed almost playful as it leaped and turned about. At last
it caught sight of its prey. All its feline cunning and cruelty seemed
to return and to conspire together in animating the cautious and
treacherous movements of its velvet-clothed frame. The whole
amphitheater was as silent as if it had been a hermit's cell, while
every eye was intent, watching the stealthy approaches of the sleek
brute to its victim. Pancratius was still standing in the same place,
facing the emperor, apparently so absorbed in higher thoughts as not to
heed the movements of his enemy. The panther had stolen round him, as
if disdaining to attack him except in front. Crouching upon its breast,
slowly advancing one paw before another, it had gained its measured
distance, and there it lay for some moments of breathless suspense. A
deep snarling growl, an elastic spring through the air, and it was seen
gathered up with its hind feet on the chest and its fangs and fore
claws on the throat of the martyr.
He stood erect for a moment, brought his right hand to his mouth, and
looking up at Sebastian with a smile, directed to him, by a graceful
wave of his arm, the last salutation of his lip--and fell. The arteries
of the neck had been severed, and the slumber of martyrdom at once
settled on his eyelids. His blood softened, brightened, enriched, and
blended inseparably with that of his father. The mother's sacrifice had
ALFRED THE GREAT
[Footnote: This selection is taken from _A Child's History of
England_. Much of the history of Alfred is traditional, and it is
not at all probable that Dickens's picture is strictly true.]
_By_ CHARLES DICKENS
Alfred the Great was a young man, three and twenty years of age, when
he became king. [Footnote: Alfred was a grandson of Egbert, the first
king of England. Ethelwulf, son of Egbert, and his three older sons had
been kings of England, when in 871 Alfred ascended the throne.] Twice
in his childhood he had been taken to Rome, where the Saxon nobles were
in the habit of going on journeys which they supposed to be religious;
and once he had stayed for some time in Paris. Learning, however, was
so little cared for then, that at twelve years old he had not been
taught to read; although, of the four sons of King Ethelwulf, he, the
youngest, was the favorite. But he had--as most men who grow up to be
great and good are generally found to have had--an excellent mother;
and, one day, this lady, whose name was Osburgha, happened, as she was
sitting among her sons, to read a book of Saxon poetry. The art of
printing was not known until long and long after that period, and the
book, which was written, was what is called "illuminated," with
beautiful bright letters, richly painted. The brothers admiring it very
much, their mother said, "I will give it to that one of you four
princes who first learns to read." Alfred sought out a tutor that very
day, applied himself to learn with great diligence, and soon won the
book. He was proud of it all his life.
This great king, in the first year of his reign, fought nine battles
with the Danes. He made some treaties with them too, by which the false
Danes swore that they would quit the country. They pretended to
consider that they had taken a very solemn oath in swearing this upon
the holy bracelets that they wore, and which were always buried with
them when they died; but they cared little for it, for they thought
nothing of breaking oaths, and treaties too, as soon as it suited their
purpose, and coming back again to fight, plunder, and burn, as usual.
One fatal winter, in the fourth year of King Alfred's reign, they
spread themselves in great numbers over the whole of England; and so
dispersed and routed the king's soldiers that the king was left alone,
and was obliged to disguise himself as a common peasant, and to take
refuge in the cottage of one of his cowherds who did not know his face.
Here, King Alfred, while the Danes sought him far and wide, was left
alone one day, by the cowherd's wife, to watch some cakes which she put
to bake upon the hearth. But, being at work upon his bows and arrows,
with which he hoped to punish the false Danes when a brighter time
should come, and thinking deeply of his poor unhappy subjects whom the
Danes chased through the land, his noble mind forgot the cakes, and
they were burnt. "What!" said the cowherd's wife, who scolded him well
when she came back, and little thought she was scolding the king, "you
will be ready enough to eat them by and by, and yet you cannot watch
them, idle dog?"
At length, the Devonshire men made head against a new host of Danes who
landed on their coast; killed their chief, and captured their flag, on
which was represented the likeness of a Raven--a very fit bird for a
thievish army like that, I think. The loss of their standard troubled
the Danes greatly, for they believed it to be enchanted--woven by the
three daughters of one father in a single afternoon--and they had a
story among themselves that when they were victorious in battle, the
Raven stretched his wings and seemed to fly; and that when they were
defeated, he would droop. He had good reason to droop now, if he could
have done anything half so sensible; for King Alfred joined the
Devonshire men, made a camp with them on a piece of firm ground in the
midst of a bog in Somersetshire, and prepared for a great attempt for
vengeance on the Danes, and the deliverance of his oppressed people.
But first, as it was important to know how numerous those pestilent
Danes were, and how they were fortified, King Alfred, being a good
musician, disguised himself as a gleeman or minstrel, and went, with
his harp, to the Danish camp. He played and sang in the very tent of
Guthrum, the Danish leader, and entertained the Danes as they caroused.
While he seemed to think of nothing but his music, he was watchful of
their tents, their arms, their discipline, everything that he desired
to know. And right soon did this great king entertain them to a
different tune; for, summoning all his true followers to meet him at an
appointed place, where they received him with joyful shouts and tears,
as the monarch whom many of them had given up for lost or dead, he put
himself at their head, marched on the Danish camp, defeated the Danes
with great slaughter, and besieged them for fourteen days to prevent
their escape. But, being as merciful as he was good and brave, he then,
instead of killing them, proposed peace, on condition that they should
altogether depart from the western part of England and settle in the
east, and that Guthrum should become a Christian in remembrance of the
Divine religion which now taught his conqueror, the noble Alfred, to
forgive the enemy who had so often injured him. This Guthrum did. At
his baptism, King Alfred was his godfather. And Guthrum was an
honorable chief who well deserved that clemency; for, ever afterwards,
he was loyal and faithful to the king. The Danes under him were
faithful too. They plundered and burned no more, but worked like honest
men. They ploughed, and sowed, and reaped, and led good honest English
lives. And I hope the children of those Danes played, many a time, with
Saxon children in the sunny fields; and that Danish young men fell in
love with Saxon girls, and married them; and that English travelers,
benighted at the doors of Danish cottages, often went in for shelter
until morning; and that Danes and Saxons sat by the red fire, friends,
talking of King Alfred the Great.
All the Danes were not like these under Guthrum; for after some years,
more of them came over, in the old plundering and burning way-among
them a fierce pirate of the name of Hastings, who had the boldness to
sail up the Thames to Gravesend with eighty ships. For three years
there was a war with these Danes; and there was a famine in the
country, too, and a plague, both upon human creatures and beasts. But
King Alfred, whose mighty heart never failed him, built large ships
nevertheless, with which to pursue the pirates on the sea; and he
encouraged his soldiers, by his brave example, to fight valiantly
against them on the shore. At last, he drove them all away, and then
there was repose in England.
As great and good in peace as he was great and good in war, King Alfred
never rested from his labors to improve his people. He loved to talk
with clever men and with travelers from foreign countries, and to write
down what they told him for his people to read. He had studied Latin
after learning to read English, and now another of his labors was to
translate Latin books into the English-Saxon tongue, that his people
might be interested and improved by their contents.[Footnote: He is
said to have translated large portions of the Bible into Anglo Saxon.]
He made just laws, that they might live more happily and freely; he
turned away all partial judges that no wrong might be done them; he was
so careful of their property, and punished robbers so severely, that it
was a common thing to say that under the great King Alfred garlands of
golden chains and jewels might have hung across the streets, and no man
would have touched one. He founded schools; he patiently heard causes
himself in his court of justice, the great desires of his heart were to
do right to all his subjects, and to leave England better, wiser,
happier in all ways, than he found it.
[Illustration: ALFRED ALLOWS THE CAKES TO BURN]
His industry in these efforts was quite astonishing. Every day he
divided into certain portions, and in each portion devoted himself to a
certain pursuit. That he might divide his time exactly, he had wax
torches or candles made, which were all of the same size, were notched
across at regular distances, and were always kept burning. Thus, as the
candles burnt down, he divided the day into notches almost as
accurately as we now divide it into hours upon the clock. But when the
candles were first invented, it was found that the wind and draughts of
air, blowing into the palace through the doors and windows and through
the chinks in the wall, caused them to gutter and burn unequally. To
prevent this, the king had them put into cases formed of wood and white
horn. And these were the first lanthorns [Footnote: This is the early
form of our word _lantern_.] ever made in England. All this time he was
afflicted with a terrible unknown disease, which caused him violent and
frequent pain that nothing could relieve. He bore it, as he had borne
all the troubles of his life, like a brave, good man, until he was
fifty-three years old; and then, having reigned thirty years, he died.
He died in the year nine hundred and one; but long ago as that is, his
fame, and the love and gratitude with which his subjects regarded him,
are freshly remembered to the present hour.
THE BURIAL OF MOSES
_By_ CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER
NOTE.-The biblical account of the death of Moses, upon which _The Burial
of Moses_ is based, is given in the thirty-fourth chapter of
_Deuteronomy_, and reads as follows:
And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo,
to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho.
And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan.
And all Napthtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the
land of Judah, unto the utmost sea.
And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm
trees, unto Zoar.
And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto
Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy
seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt
not go over thither.
So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab,
according to the word of the Lord.
And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-
peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
By Nebo's lonely mountain,
On this side Jordan's wave,
In a vale in the land of Moab
There lies a lonely grave.
And no man knows that sepulchre,
And no man saw it e'er,
For the angels of God upturned the sod,
And laid the dead man there.
That was the grandest funeral
That ever passed on earth;
But no man heard the trampling,
Or saw the train go forth--
Noiselessly as the daylight
Comes back when night is done,
And the crimson streak on ocean's cheek
Grows into the great sun.
Noiselessly as the springtime
Her crown of verdure weaves,
And all the trees on all the hills
Open their thousand leaves;
So without sound of music,
Or voice of them that wept,
Silently down from the mountain's crown
The great procession swept.
Perchance the bald old eagle,
On gray Beth-peor's height,
Out of his lonely eyrie
Looked on the wondrous sight;
Perchance the lion stalking,
Still shuns that hallowed spot,
For beast and bird have seen and heard
That which man knoweth not.
But when the warrior dieth,
His comrades in the war,
With arms reversed and muffled drums,
Follow his funeral car;
They show the banners taken,
They tell his battles won,
And after him lead his masterless steed,
While peals the minute gun.
Amid the noblest of the land
We lay the sage to rest,
And give the bard an honored place
With costly marble drest,
In the great minster transept,
Where lights like glories fall,
And the organ rings, and the sweet choir sings,
Along the emblazoned wall.
This was the truest warrior
That ever buckled sword;
This the most gifted poet
That ever breathed a word.
And never earth's philosopher
Traced with his golden pen
On the deathless page truths half so sage
As he wrote down for men.
And had he not high honor?--
The hillside for a pall,
To lie in state, while angels wait,
With stars for tapers tall;
And the dark rock-pines, like tossing plumes,
Over his bier to wave,
And God's own hand in that lonely land
To lay him in the grave,--
In that strange grave without a name,
Whence his uncoffined clay
Shall break again, O wondrous thought!
Before the judgment day,
And stand with glory wrapt around
On the hills he never trod;
And speak of the strife, that won our life,
With the incarnate son of God.
O lonely grave in Moab's land!
O dark Beth-peor's hill!
Speak to these curious hearts of ours,
And teach them to be still.
God hath his mysteries of grace,
Ways that we cannot tell;
He hides them deep, like the hidden sleep
Of him He loved so well.
BERNARDO DEL CARPIO
_By_ FELICIA HEMANS
NOTE.--Bernardo del Carpio, a Spanish warrior and grandee, having made
many ineffectual attempts to procure the release of his father, the
Count Saldana, declared war against King Alphonso of Asturias. At the
close of the struggle, the king agreed to terms by which he rendered up
his prisoner to Bernardo, in exchange for the castle of Carpio and the
captives confined therein. When the warrior pressed forward to greet
his father, whom he had not seen for many years, he found a corpse on
The warrior bowed his crested head, and tamed his heart of fire,
And sued the haughty king to free his long imprisoned sire:
"I bring thee here my fortress keys, I bring my captive train,
I pledge thee faith, my liege, my lord! O, break my father's chain!"
"Rise! Rise! even now thy father comes, a ransomed man this day!
Mount thy good horse: and thou and I will meet him on his way."
Then lightly rose that loyal son, and bounded on his steed,
And urged, as if with lance in rest, the charger's foamy speed.
And, lo, from far, as on they pressed, there came a glittering band,
With one that midst them stately rode, as a leader in the land:
"Now haste, Bernardo, haste! for there, in very truth, is he,
The father whom thy faithful heart hath yearned so long to see."
His dark eye flashed, his proud breast heaved, his cheek's hue
came and went;
He reached that gray-haired chieftain's side, and there,
A lowly knee to earth he bent, his father's hand he took,--
What was there in its touch that all his fiery spirit shook?
That hand was cold,--a frozen thing,--it dropped from his like lead;
He looked up to the face above,--the face was of the dead!
A plume waved o'er the noble brow,--the brow was fixed and white;
He met, at last, his father's eyes,--but in them was no sight!
Up from the ground he sprang and gazed; but who could paint that
They hushed their very hearts that saw its horror and amaze:
They might have chained him, as before that stony form he stood;
For the power was stricken from his arm, and from his lip the blood.
"Father!" at length, he murmured low, and wept like childhood then:
Talk not of grief till thou hast seen the tears of warlike men!
He thought on all his glorious hopes, and all his young renown;
He flung his falchion from his side, and in the dust sat down.
Then covering with his steel-gloved hands his darkly mournful brow,--
"No more, there is no more," he said, "to lift the sword for now;
My king is false,--my hope betrayed! My father,--O the worth,
The glory, and the loveliness are passed away from earth!
"I thought to stand where banners waved, my sire, beside thee, yet;
I would that there our kindred blood on Spain's free soil had met!
Thou wouldst have known my spirit, then; for thee my fields were won;
And thou hast perished in thy chains, as though thou hadst no son!"
Then, starting from the ground once more, he seized the monarch's
Amidst the pale and wildered looks of all the courtier train;
And with a fierce, o'ermastering grasp, the rearing war-horse led,
And sternly set them face to face,--the king before the dead:
"Came I not forth, upon thy pledge, my father's hand to kiss?
Be still, and gaze thou on, false king! and tell me what is this?
The voice, the glance, the heart I sought,--give answer, where
If thou wouldst clear thy perjured soul, send life through this
"Into these glassy eyes put light;--be still! keep down thine ire!
Bid these white lips a blessing speak,--this earth is not my sire:
Give me back him for whom I strove,--for whom my blood was shed.
Thou canst not?--and a king!--his dust be mountains on thy head!"
He loosed the steed,--his slack hand fell; upon the silent face
He cast one long, deep, troubled look, then turned from that sad
His hope was crushed, his after fate untold in martial strain:
His banner led the spears no more amidst the hills of Spain.
You will never meet a more interesting character in history than David,
the great king of the Israelites, who, it is usually claimed, reigned
from about 1055 B.C. to 1015 B.C. Under David the Jews reached the
height of their power, and he is regarded as their greatest conqueror.
A full biography would be an account of a succession of battles with
his enemies the Philistines in which he was always victorious unless,
as a punishment for some of the sins his fiery nature led him into, he
was temporarily in defeat. Out of the many instances which the Bible
gives, we have selected as the most vivid and interesting the accounts
of his victory over Goliath, his relations to Saul and Jonathan and the
rebellion of his own son Absalom. The story is told as it appears in
Hebrew scriptures and is taken from the first and second books of
Samuel, but in order to make the story continuous the arrangement of
the verses has been changed somewhat. For greater clearness, the scheme
of paragraphing has been changed, quotation marks have been used, and
other departures made from the old form of printing in bibles.
The interesting story is told with all the vivid directness of the
Jewish scriptures, and every one must admire the poetic beauty so
characteristic of oriental writings. David's compact with Jonathan, his
sad lament over the death of his traitorous son, and the grand anthem
which he sings in gratitude for his victories, show that the great king
was more than a warrior and ruler.
In truth, David was as much a poet and musician as he was a warrior and
king, for not only did he, by his skill on the harp, quiet the raging
fury of Saul's anger, but he wrote, also, the grandest psalms in
existence. The _Twenty-third Psalm_ and the _One Hundred Third Psalm_
which, among others, are printed elsewhere in this work, are fine
examples of his skill and art.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle against
Israel. And Saul and the men or Israel were gathered together and set
the battle in array against the Philistines.
And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel
stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between
And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named
Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And the staff
of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six
hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them,
"Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am I not a Philistine
and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you and let him come down
to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be
your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall
ye be our servants, and serve us. I defy the armies of Israel this day;
give me a man, that we may fight together."
When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were
dismayed, and greatly afraid.
Now there was a man whose name was Jesse, and he had eight sons, and
the three eldest followed Saul to the battle. And David, his youngest
son, fed his father's sheep at Bethlehem.
And the Philistine drew near, morning and evening, and presented
himself forty days.
And Jesse said unto David, his son, "Take now to thy brethren an ephah
of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy
brethren; and carry these ten cheeses unto the captain and their
thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge."
And David rose up early in the morning, and left his sheep with a
keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to
the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for
the battle, for Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array,
army against army.
And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage,
and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.
And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the
Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the
Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard
And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and
were sore afraid. And then the men of Israel said, "Have ye seen this
man that is come up?"
Aid David spake to the men that stood by him saying, "What shall be
done to the man that killeth this Philistine and taketh away the
reproach from Israel? Who is this Philistine that he should defy the
armies of the living God?"
And the people answered him after this manner, saying, "The man who
killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give
him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel."
And David's eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men, and his
anger was kindled against David and he said, "Why comest thou down
hither, and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness?
I know thy pride and the naughtiness of thine heart, for thou art come
down that thou mightest see the battle."
And David said, "What have I now done? Is there not a cause?"
And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner:
and the people answered again after the former manner.
And when the words were heard that David spake, some one rehearsed them
before Saul, and he sent for David.
And David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy
servant will go and fight with this Philistine."
And Saul said to David, "Thou art not able to go against this
Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of
war from his youth."
And David said unto Saul, "Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and
there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock. And I
went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth:
and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him,
and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this
Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of
the living God.
"The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the
paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this
And Saul said unto David, "Go, and the Lord be with thee."
And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass
upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded
his sword upon his armour, and he essayed to go. But David said unto
Saul, "I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them."
And David put them off him; and he took his staff in his hand, and
chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a
shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his
hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.
And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that
bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about,
and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and
of a fair countenance.
[Illustration: DAVID MEETS GOLIATH]
And the Philistine said unto David, "Am I a dog, that thou comest to me
with staves?" And he cursed David by his gods, and said, "Come to me
and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts
of the field."
Then said David to the Philistine, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and
with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the
Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite
thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of
the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to
the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is
a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth
not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will
give you into our hands."
And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh
to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the
Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone,
and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone
sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone,
and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the
hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and
took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him,
and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their
champion was dead, they fled.
And the men of Israel and Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the
Philistines; and the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way
even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. And the children of Israel returned
from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.
And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem,
but he put his armour in his tent.
Now when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto
Abner, the captain of the host, "Abner, whose son is this youth?"
And Abner answered, "As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell."
And the king said, "Inquire thou whose son the stripling is."
And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took
him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his
And Saul said to him, "Whose son art thou, thou young man?"
And David answered, "I am the son of thy servant Jesse the
And Saul took him that day and would let him go no more to his father's
house. And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him and behaved
himself wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was
accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of
DAVID AND SAUL AND JONATHAN
Now Saul, king of Israel, had a son Jonathan whom he dearly loved, a
brave warrior and a noble man.
When David, returning from his victory over Goliath, told the story of
his fight, Jonathan stood by, a listener.
And when David had made an end of speaking, the soul of Jonathan was
knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
And it came to pass, when David was returned from the slaughter of the
Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel,
singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and
with instruments of music.
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, "Saul hath
slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."
And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said,
"They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have
ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?"
And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was
departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him
his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the
And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with
him. Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he
was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he
went out and came in before them.
And Michal, Saul's daughter, loved David: and they told Saul, and the
thing pleased him.
Saul said, "I will give him her that she may be a snare to him and that
the hand of the Philistines may be against him." Wherefore Saul said to
David, "Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law."
And David said unto Saul, "Who am I? and what is my life, or my
father's family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?"
And Saul commanded his servants, saying, "Commune with David secretly,
and say, 'Behold the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants
love thee; now, therefore, be the king's son-in-law.'"