Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY, WOOLWICH, January 1869. PRINCE HENRY, sumamed the Navigator, was the originator of one of the greatest revolutions that has ever affected the destinies of mankind. At a remarkable crisis of human affairs he turned the attention of the civilised world to the ocean as the true link between nations, and directed towards it the immemorial traffic by land between Europe and the Asiatic continent. He first reduced navigation to a science, at least for any practical results ; it was owing to him in a great measure that the mariner was enabled to abandon the coast and turn boldly towards the open sea : he formed the school of the first seamen who braved the terrors of the untried Atlantic ; but for him and the ideas which be diffused, Vasco de Gama, Magellan, and even Columbus might have never traversed the illimitable ocean. Nor should it be forgotten that this eminent man has other claims to general admiration. In the age of Henry the Fifth and of Talbot he was reckoned one of the most heroic of soldiers ; he was a pattern of antique chivalry and faith ; and, in circumstances when unscrupulous ambition might have placed a sceptre within his reach, he approved himself no ordinary statesman and a patriot of unsullied virtue.

R. H. MAJOR.

A BASIN of water spilt on Mrs Masham's gown deprived the Duke of Marlborough of his command, and led to the inglorious peace of Utrecht. Louis XIV. was plunged into the most desolating wars because his minister was nettled at his finding fault with a window, and wished to give him another occupation. A single verse of Frederick II. of Prussia on the Abbé de Bernis, and a jest on Madame de Pompadour, led to the battle of Rosbach. A personal pique between Maria Antoinette and the Duke of Orleans precipitated the first expulsion of the Bourbons. . Commodus, Domitian, and Caligula fell victims, not to their public tyranny, but to private vengeance. And an order to make Cromwell disembark from the ship in which he would have sailed to America, destroyed both king and commonwealth.

BYRON.

CIVIL SERVICE OF INDIA, 1859. FRANCIS died at Rambouillet, on the last day of March, in the fifty-third year of his age, and the thirty-third of his reign. During twenty-eight years of that time an avowed rivalship subsisted between him and the emperor, which involved not only their own dominions, but the greater part of Europe, in wars, which were prosecuted with more violent animosity, and drawn out to a greater length, than had been known at any former period. Many circumstances contributed to this. Their animosity was founded in opposition of interest, heightened by personal emulation, and exasperated not only by mutual injuries, but by reciprocal insults. At the same time, whatever advantage one seemed to possess towards gaining the ascendant, was wonderfully balanced by some favourable circumstances peculiar to the other. The emperor's dominions were of greater extent; the French king's lay more compact : Francis governed his kingdom with absolute power; that of Charles was limited, but he supplied the want of authority by address : the troops of the former were more impetuous and enterprising ; those of the latter better disciplined, and more patient of fatigue. The talents and abilities of the two monarchs were as different as the advantages which they possessed, and contributed no less to prolong the contest between them.

ROBERTSON.

OUR present repose is no more proof of inability to act, than the state of inertness and inactivity in which I have seen those mighty masses above your town is a proof that they are devoid of strength, and incapable of being fitted out for action. You well know, gentlemen, how soon one of those stupendous masses, none reposing on their shadows in perfect stillness—how soon, upon any call of patriotism or of necessity, it would assume the likeness of an animated thing, instinct with life and emotion-how soon it would ruffle as it were its swelling plumage-how quickly would it put forth all its beauty and its bravery, collect its scattered elements of strength, and awaken its dormant thunder. Such is one of these magnificent machines when springing from inaction into a display of its might, such is England herself, while apparently passive and motionless she silently concentrates the power to be put forth on an adequate occasion. But God forbid that occasion should arise.

GEORGE CANNING.

CIVIL SERVICE OF INDIA, 1861.

The last of the Incas. PIZARRO saw that the hour had come. He waved a white scarf in the air, the appointed signal. The fatal gun was fired from the fortress ; then springing into the squares, the Spanish captain and his followers shouted the old war-cry of “St Jago, and at them !” It was answered by the battle-cry of every Spaniard in the city, as, rushing from the avenues of the great walls in which they were concealed, they threw themselves into the midst of the Indian crowd. The latter, taken by surprise, stunned by the report of artillery and muskets, the echoes of which reverberated like thunder from the surrounding buildings, and blinded by the smoke, were seized with a panic; they knew not whither to fly. . . . . All were trampled down under the fierce charge of the cavalry, who dealt their blows right and left without sparing, while their swords carried dismay into the hearts of the wretched natives, who now, for the first time, saw the horse and his rider in all their terrors. . . . . The fight, or rather the massacre, continued hot around the Inca, whose person was the great object of the assault. His faithful nobles, rallying about him, threw themselves in the way of the assailants, and strove, by tearing them from their saddles, or, at least, by offering their own bosoms, to shield their beloved master. .... The Indian monarch, stunned and bewildered, saw his faithful subjects falling round him, without hardly comprehending his situation. ....

The struggle now became fiercer than ever round the royal litter. It reeled more and more, and at length several nobles who supported it, having been slain, it was overturned, . . . . and the unhappy monarch, strongly secured, was removed to a neighbouring building, where he was carefully guarded. All attempt at resistance now ceased. Every man thought only of his own safety.

PRESCOTT, Conquest of Peru.

CIVIL SERVICE OF INDIA, 1862.

An Earthquake in London, 1750.
“Portents and prodigies are grown so frequent,

That they have lost their name.” My text is not literally true; but as far as earthquakes go towards lowering the price of wonderful commodities, to be sure we are overstocked. We have had a second, much more violent than the first ; and you must not be surprised if, by next post, you hear of a burning mountain sprung up in Smithfield. In the night between Wednesday and Thursday last, (exactly a month since the first shock,) the earth had a shivering fit between one and two; but so slight that, if no more had followed, I don't believe it would have been noticed. I had been awoke, and had scarce dozed again,-on a sudden I felt my bolster lift up my head; I thought somebody was getting from under my bed, but soon found it was a strong earthquake, that lasted nearly half a minute, with a violent vibration and great roaring. I rang my bell ; my servant came in, frightened out of his senses ; in an instant, we heard all the windows in the neighbourhood flung up. I got up and found people running into the street, but saw no mischief done : there has been some,—two old houses flung down, several chimneys, and much china-ware. .... Several people are going out of town; they say they are not frightened, but that it is such fine weather, “ Lord ! we cannot help going into the country!”.... A parson, who came into White's the morning of earthquake the first, and heard bets laid whether it was an earthquake or blowing up of powder-mills, went away exceedingly scandalised, and said, “I protest, they are such an impious set of people, I believe if the last trumpet was to sound, they would bet puppet-show against judgment.”

HORACE WALPOLE.

CIVIL SERVICE OF INDIA, 1863. His smile was frank, his voice clear and hearty, his address open, and much superior to his apparent rank of life, claiming somewhat of equality, yet conceding a great deal of respect. We walked on briskly.

“We have a beautiful country, sir," said my hero. “It is like walking through a garden. A pure mind, sir, loves the country; for my part, I am always disposed to burst out into thanksgiving to Providence when I behold its works, and, like the valleys in the Psalm, I am ready to laugh and sing.”

65. An enthusiast,” said I,“ as well as a philosopher ! perhaps I have the honour of addressing a poet also.”

“Why sir,” replied the man, “I have made verses in my life ; but perhaps your honour will let me return the suspicion. Are you not a favourite of the muse ?”.

“I cannot say that I am," said I. “I value myself only on my common sense.”

“ Common sense!” repeated my companion ; “Ah, that is not my forte, sir. You, I dare say, are one of those gentlemen whom it is very difficult to take in ; for my part, I have been a dupe all my life; a child might cheat me! I am the most unsuspicious person in the world.”

“ Too candid by half,” thought I. “This man is certainly a rascal.” .

B. LYTTON.

CIVIL SERVICE OF INDIA, 1865.

STYLE is the dress of thoughts, and let them be ever so just, if your style is homely, coarse, and vulgar, they will appear to as much disadvantage, and be as ill received as your person, though ever so well-proportioned, would, if dressed in rags, dirt, and tatters. It is not every understanding that can judge of matter; but every ear can, and does judge more or less of style.

Mind your diction. In whatever language you either write or speak, contract a habit of correctness and elegance. Consider

« AnteriorContinuar »