Page images

is an amusing abridgment, from the little details which it gives, in the nature of Travels:-

"The north parts of this country are so barren, that the inhabitants fetch their corn a thousand miles, and so cold in winter, that the very sap of their wood-fuel burning on the fire freezes at the brand's end where it drops. The mariners which were left on ship-board in the first English voyage thither, in going up only from the cabins to the hatches, had their breath so congealed by the cold, that they fell down as it were stifled.

σε Moscow hath a fair castle, four-square, upon a hill, two miles about, with brick walls very high, and some say eighteen foot thick, sixteen gates, and as many bulwarks. In the castle are kept the chief markets, and in winter on the river, being then firm ice. This river Moscua on the south-west side incloses the castle, wherein are nine fair churches, with round gilded towers, and the emperor's palace, which neither within nor without is equal for state to the king's houses in England, but rather like our buildings of old fashion, small windows, some of glass, some with latices or iron bars."

This was the Kremlin, whence the fortune of Bonaparte took flight.

The "History of England," by Milton, consists of six books. It comes down no lower than the

battle of Hastings. The heptarchy, whatever Hume may say, is very clearly depicted. The style of this work is manly, simple; and it is interspersed with reflections, nearly always relating to the time in which the historian wrote. The third book opens with a description of the state of society in Great Britain, at the period when the Romans left the island. He compares this state with that of England when she found herself deserted by rightful power, during the reign of Charles I. At the end of the fifth book, Milton deduces the causes which threw the Anglo-Saxons under the Norman yoke; he asks if the same causes of corruption may not again reduce his countrymen under the yoke of superstition and tyranny.

The imagination of the poet disdains not the fabulous origins of the Britons; he devotes many pages to the reigns of those monarchs of romance, who ruled England from Brutus, the great grandson of Æneas, to Cassibelaunus. In his way he meets with King Leir or Lear.

"Leir, who next reigned, had only three daughters, and no male issue; governed laudably, and built Caer-Leir, now Leicestre, on the bank of the Sora. But, at last, failing through age, he determines to bestow his daughters, and so among them to divide his kingdom. Yet first, to try which of them loved him best (a trial that might

have made him, had he known as wisely how to to try, as he seem'd to know how much the trying behoov'd him), he resolves a simple resolution, to ask them solemly in order; and which of them should profess largest, her to beleev. Gonorill the eldest, apprehending too well her father's weakness, makes answer, invoking heav'n, that she loved him above her soul. Therefore, quoth the old man, overjoyed, since thou so honour'st my declin'd age, to thee and the husband whom thou shalt choose I give the third part of my realm. So fair a speeding, for a few words soon uttered, was to Regan, the second, ample instruction what to say. She on the same demand spares no protesting, and the gods must witness, that otherwise to express her thoughts she knew not, but that she loved him above all creatures; and so receives an equal reward with her sister. But Cordeilla, the youngest, though hitherto best beloved, and now before her eyes the rich and present hire of a little easie soothing, the danger also, and the loss likely to betide plain dealing, yet moves not from the solid purpose of a sincere and vertuous answer. Father, saith she, my love towards you is as my duty bids,-what can a father seek, what can a child promise more? They who pretend beyond this flatter.

"When the old man, sorry to hear this, and

wishing her to recall those words, persisted asking, with a loiall sadness at her father's infirmity, but something on the sudden, harsh, and glancing rather at her sisters than speaking her own mind, Two waies only, saith she, I have to answer what you require mee; the former, your command is, I should recant; accept then this other which is left me; look how much you have, so much is your value, and so much I love you. Then, hear thou, quoth Leir, now all in passion, what thy ingratitude hath gained thee: because thou hast not reverenc'd thy aged father equall to thy sisters-part in my kingdom, or what else is mine, reck'n to have And without delay gives in marriage his other daughters; Gonorill to Maglaunus Duke of Albania, Regan to Herminus Duke of Cornwall, with them in present half his kingdom; the rest to follow at his death.


"In the mean while, Fame was not sparing to divulge the wisdom and other graces of Cordeilla, insomuch that Aganippus, a great king in Gaul (however he came by his Greek name) seeks her to wife, and, nothing alter'd at the loss of her dowry, receaves her gladly in such manner as she was sent. After this, King Leir, more and more drooping with years, became an easy prey to his daughters and thir husbands; who now by daily encroachments had seis'd the whole kingdom into thir hands,

and the old king is put to sojorn with his eldest daughter, attended only by three-score knights. But they, in a short while grudg'd at, as too numerous and disorderly for continual guests, are reduced to thirty. Not brooking that affront, the old king betakes him to his second daughter; but, there also discord soon arising between the servants of differing masters in one family five only are suffered to attend him. Then back again he returns to the other; hoping that she his eldest could not but have more pity on his gray hairs; but she now refuses to admitt him, unless he be content with one only of his followers. At last, the remembrance of his youngest, Cordeilla, comes to his thoughts, and now, acknowledging how true her words had bin, tho' with little hope from whom he had so injured, be it but to pay her the last recompence she can have from him, his confession of her wise forewarning, that so perhaps his misery, the proof and experiment of her wisdom, might something soften her, he takes his journey into France. Now might be seen a difference between the silent or downright-spok'n affection of som children to thir parents, and the talkative obsequiousness of others; while the hope of inheritance over-acts them, and on the tongue's end enlarges their duty Cordeilla, out of meer love, without the suspicion of expected reward, at the

« EelmineJätka »