« AnteriorContinuar »
I hate the French, because they are all slaves, and wear wooden shoes.?
Though we had no arms, one Englishman is able to beat five French at any time; so we went down to the door, where both the sentries were posted, and, rushing upon them, seized their arms in a moment, and knocked them down. From thence nine of us ran together to the quay; and, seizing the first boat we met, got out of the harbour, and put to sea. We had not been here three days before we were taken up by the Dorset privateer, who were glad of so many good hands; and we consented to run our chance. However, we had not as much good luck as we expected. In three days we fell in with the Pompadour privateer, of forty guns, while we had but twenty-three; so to it we went yardarm and yard-arm. The fight lasted for three hours; and I verily believe we should have taken the Frenchman, had we but had some more men left behind ; but, unfortunately, we lost all our men just as we were going to get the victory.
1 The same author, in the “The Good-natured Man," (Act III.,) has given a still more amusing account of the prejudices which the lower order of the people formerly entertained towards the French. Such prejudices were in those days encouraged, not only in these countries but also in Europe generally. It is gratifying to think, however, that since the Schoolmaster came abroad they are fast disappearing. The following admirable observations on this point are from M. Willm's excellent Treatise on Popular Education:*—“To dispose our youth towards patriotism, to make them love France, and be ready to devote themselves for her in the hour of danger, it is not necessary to inspire them with hatred towards foreigners: education can be quite national and quite French without ceasing to be human. France is powerful enough to have no need of fortifying herself by hatred for other nations; and she may allow ancient prejudices to fall, without being thereby weakened. In the books we place in the hands of our children, I would not imitate the example set in some parts of Germany, where patriotism seems to be made to consist principally in horror of the French name. just war arise, and our soldiers will fight the enemy, inspired solely by a love of their country and by duty. To such declamations of hatred against foreigners, I am happy and proud to be able to oppose the noble words, recently uttered by one of our most illustrious writers. • Patriotism is the first sentiment, the first duty of man, whom nature binds to his country before all things, by the ties of family, and of nature, which is only the family enlarged.' Why is it sweet to die for one's country? Because it is to die for more than ourself, for something divine, for the continuance, for the perpetuity of that immortal family which has brought us forth, and from which we have received
But there are two kinds of patriotism : there is one composed of the hatreds, prejudices, and gross antipathies which nations, rendered brutal by governments interested in disuniting them, cherish against each other. This patriotism is cheap; all it requires is, to be ignorant, to hate, and revile. There is another, which, whilst it loves its own country above every thing, allows its sympathies to flow beyond the barriers of race, of language, or of territories, and regards the various nationalities as part of that great whole, of which the various nations are so many rays, but of which civilization is the centre: it is the patriotism of religion, it is that of philosophers, it is that of the greatest men of the state, and it was that of the nien of 1789.'” * See Introduction, page 24.
“I was once more in the power of the French; and I believe it would have gone hard with me had I been brought back to Brest; but, by good fortune, we were re-taken by the Viper. I had almost forgot to tell you, that, in that engagement, I was wounded in two places : I lost four fingers of the left hand, and my leg was shot off. If I had had the good fortune to have lost my leg and the use of my hand on board'a king's ship, and not on board a privateer, I should have been entitled to clothing and maintenance during the rest of my life; but that was not my chance : one man is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and another with a wooden ladle. However, blessed be God! I enjoy good health, and will for ever love liberty and Old England. Liberty, property, and Old England for ever, huzza !"
Thus saying, he limped off, leaving me in admiration at his intrepidity and content; nor could I avoid acknowledging, that an habitual acquaintance with misery serves better than philosophy to teach us to despise it.
VI.-THE SIEGE OF CALAIS.
EDWARD III., after the battle of Cressy, laid siege to Calais. He had fortified his camp in so impregnable a manner, that all the efforts of France proved ineffectual to raise the siege, or throw succours into the city. The citizens, under Count Vienne, their gallant governor, made an admirable defence. France had now put the sickle into her second harvest since Edward, with his victorious army, sat down before the town. The eyes of all Europe were intent on the issue. At length famine did more for Edward than arms. After suffering unheard-of calamities, they resolved to attempt the enemy's camp. They boldly sallied forth: the English joined battle; and, after a long and desperate engagement, Count Vienne was taken prisoner, and the citizens who survived the slaughter retired within their gates. The command devolving upon Eustace St. Pierre, a man of mean birth, but of exalted virtue, he offered to capitulate with Edward, provided he permitted them to depart with life and liberty. Edward, to avoid the imputation of cruelty, consented to spare the bulk of the plebeians, provided they delivered up to him six of their principal citizens with halters about their necks, as victims of due atonement for that spirit of rebellion with which they had inflamed the vulgar. When his messenger, Sir Walter Mauny, delivered the terms, consternation and pale dismay were impressed on every countenance. To a long and dead silence, deep sighs and groans succeeded, till Eustace St. Pierre, getting up to a little eminence, thus addressed the assembly :—“My friends, we are brought to great straits this day. We must either yield to the terms of our cruel and ensnaring conqueror, or yield up our tender infants, our wives, and daughters to the mercy of the bloodthirsty and brutal soldiers. Is there any expedient left whereby we may avoid the guilt and infamy of delivering up those who have suffered every misery with you on the one hand, or the desolation and horror of a sacked city on the other? There is, my friends, there is one expedient left -a gracious, an excellent, a god-like expedient! Is there any here to whom virtue is dearer than life? Let him offer himself an oblation for the safety of his people ; he shall not fail of a blessed approbation from that Power who offered up his only Son for the salvation of mankind.” He spoke; but an universal silence ensued. Each man looked around for the example of that virtue and magnanimity which all wished to approve in themselves, though they wanted the resolution. At length St. Pierre resumed :-“I doubt not but there are many here as ready, nay, more zealous of this martyrdom than I can be, though the station to which I am raised by the captivity of Lord Vienne, imparts a right to be the first in giving my life for your sakes. I give it freely: I give it cheerfully. Who comes next?”. "Your son,” exclaimed a youth not yet come to maturity, “Ah, my child,” cried St. Pierre, “I am then twice sacrificed. But, no, I have rather begotten thee a second time. Thy years are few, but full, my son. The victim of virtue has reached the utmost purpose and goal of mortality. Who next, my friends ? This is the hour of heroes ! _“Your kinsman!” cried John de Aire. “Your kinsman!” cried James Wissant. “ Your kinsman !” cried Peter Wissant. “Ah!” exclaimed Sir Walter Mauny, bursting into tears; "why was not I a citizen of Calais ?” The sixth victim was still wanting, but was quickly supplied by lot from numbers who were now emulous of so ennobling an example. The keys of the city were then delivered to Sir Walter. He took the six prisoners into his custody; then ordered the gates to be opened, and gave charge to his attendants to conduct the remaining citizens, with their families, through the camp of the English. Before they departed, however, they desired permission to take their last adieu of their deliverers. What a parting! what a scene! They crowded, with their wives and children, about St. Pierre and his fellow-prisoners. They embraced; they clung around; they fell prostrate before them. They groaned; they wept aloud; and the joint clamour of their mourning passed the gates of the city, and was heard throughout the English camp. The English by this time were apprised of what passed within Calais. They heard the voice of lamentation, and their souls were touched with compassion : each of the soldiers prepared a portion of their own victuals to welcome and entertain the half-famished inhabitants; and they loaded them with as much as their present weakness was able to bear, in order to supply them with sustenance by the way. At length St. Pierre and his fellow-victims appeared under the conduct of Sir Walter and a guard. All the tents of the English were instantly emptied. The soldiers poured from all parts, and arranged themselves on each side, to behold, to contemplate, to admire this little band of patriots, as they passed. They bowed down to them on all sides. They murmured their applause of that virtue which they could not but revere even in enemies ; and they regarded those ropes, which they had voluntarily assumed about their necks, as ensigns of greater dignity than that of the British garter. As soon as they had reached the presence, “ Mauny,” says the monarch, “ are these the principal inhabitants of Calais ?” They are," says Mauny; "they are not only the principal men of Calais, they are the principal men of France, my lord, if virtue has any share in the act of ennobling." · Were they delivered peaceably ?"
Edward; was there no resistance, no commotion
among the people ?” “Not in the least, my lord; the people would all have perished, rather than have delivered the least of these to your majesty. They are self-delivered, self-devoted, and come to offer up their inestimable heads as an example equivalent for the ransom of thousands.” Edward was secretly piqued at this reply of Sir Walter; but he knew the privilege of a British subject, and suppressed his resentment. Experience,” says he, “ has ever shown, that lenity only serves to invite people to new crimes. Severity at times is indispensably necessary to deter subjects into submission, by punishment and example. Go,” he cried to an officer, “ lead these men to execution. Your rebellion," continued he, addressing himself to St. Pierre, “ your rebellion against me, the natural heir of your crown, is highly aggravated by your present presumption and affront of my