ePub 版

apartment to the monastery, for his accommodation; but he gave strict orders that the style of the building should be such as suited his present situation rather than his former dignity. It consisted only of six rooms; four of them in the form of friars' cells, with naked walls: the other two, each twenty feet square, were hung with brown cloth, and furnished in the most simple manner. They were all on a level with the ground, with a door on one side into a garden, of which Charles himself had given the plan, and which he had filled with various plants, intending to cultivate them with his own hands.


The presages of discovering land were now so numerous and promising, that he deemed them infallible. For some days the sounding line reached the bottom, and the soil which it brought up indicated land to be at no great distance. The flocks of birds increased, and were composed not only of sea-fowl, but of such land-birds as could not be supposed to fly far from the shore. The crew of the Pinta observed a cane floating, which seemed to have been newly cut, and likewise a piece of timber artificially carved. The sailors aboard the Nigna took up the branch of a tree with red berries perfectly fresh. The clouds around the setting sun assumed a new appearance; the air was more mild and warm, and during night the wind became unequal and variable. From all these symptoms Columbus was so confident of being near land, that on the evening of the eleventh of October, after public prayers for success, he ordered the sails to be furled, and the ships to lie to, keeping strict watch lest they should be driven ashore in the night. During this interval of suspense and expectation, no man shut his eyes; all kept upon deck, gazing intently towards that quarter where they expected to discover the land, which had so long been the object of their wishes.

About two hours before midnight, Columbus, standing on the forecastle, observed a light at a distance, and privately pointed it out to Pedro Guttierez, a page of the queen's wardrobe. Guttierez perceived it, and calling to Salcedo, comptroller of the fleet, all three saw it in motion, as if it were carried from place to place. A little after midnight, the joyful sound of land! land! was heard from the Pinta, which kept always ahead of the other ships. But having been so often deceived by fallacious appearances, every man was now become slow of belief, and waited in all the anguish of uncertainty and impatience for the return of day. As soon as morning dawned, all doubts and fears were dispelled. From every ship an island was seen about two leagues to the north, whoso flat and verdant fields, well stored with wood, and watered with many rivulets, presented the aspect of a delightful country. The crew of the Pinta instantly began the Te Deum, as a hymn of thanksgiving to God, and were joined by those of the other ships, with tears of joy and transports of congratulation. This office of gratitude to Heaven was followed by an act of justice to their commander. They threw themselves at the feet of Columbus, with feelings of self-condemnation, mingled with reverence. They implored him to pardon their ignorance, incredulity, and insolence, which had created him so much unnecessary disquiet, and had so often obstructed the prosecution of his well-concerted plan; and passing, in the warmth of their admiration, from one extreme to another, they now pronounced the man whom they had so lately reviled and threatened, to be a person inspired by Heaven with sagacity and fortitude more than human, in order to accomplish a design so far beyond the ideas and conception of all former ages.

As soon as the sun arose, all their boats were manned and armed. They rowed towards the island with their colors displayed, with warlike music, and other martial pomp. As they approached the coast, they saw it covered with a multitude of people, whom the novelty of the spectacle had drawn together, whose attitudes and gestures expressed wonder and astonishment at the strange objects which presented themselves to their view. Columbus was the first European who set foot on the new world which he had discovered. He landed in a rich dress, and with B naked sword in his hand. His men followed, and, kneeling down they all kissed the ground which they had so long desired to see. They next erected a crucifix, and, prostrating themselves before it, returned thanks to God for conducting their voyage to such a happy issue. They then took solemn possession of the country for the crown of Castile and Leon, with all the formalities which the Portuguese were accustomed to observe in acts of this kind in their new discoveries.

EDWARD GIBBON. 1737—1794.

Or the life of Edward Gibbon, the learned author of " The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,'' it will not be necessary for us to ■five any sketch of our own, as he himself has given us such an admirable one, in his work entitled, "Memoirs of My Life and Writings."1 From it, we make the following extracts, which, meagre as they are, will but serve, we trust, to excite in those of our readers who have not seen it, sufficient enri Osity to desire to make themselves familiar with the work itself.1

• The writer of a very able criticism on Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, in the Quarterly Review, (vol xll. p. 37.\) thus felicitously nnd Justly clmraclerttea the life of Gibbon :—"It Is, perhaps, the best specimen of Autobiography in the English InnguAge- Descending from the lofty level of his. HIS BIRTH.

I was born at Putney, in the county of Surrey, the 27th of April, in the year one thousand seven hundred and thirtyseven; the first child of the marriage of Edward Gibbon, Esq., and of Judith Porten. My lot might have been that of a slave, a savage, or a peasant; nor can I reflect without pleasure on the bounty of Nature, which cast my birth in a free and civilized country, in an age of science and philosophy, in a family of honorable rank, and decently endowed with the gifts of fortune. • * So feeble was my constitution, so precarious my life, that, in the baptism of my brothers, my father's prudence successivelyrepeated my Christian name of Edward, that, in case of the departure of the eldest son, this patronymic appellation might be still perpetuated in the family. To preserve and rear so frail a being, the most tender assiduity was scarcely sufficient; the care of my mind was too frequently neglected for the care of my health: compassion always suggested an excuse for the indulgence of the master, or the idleness of the pupil; and the chain of my education was broken, as often as I was recalled from the school of learning to the bed of sickness.


As soon as the use of speech had prepared my infant reason for the admission of knowledge, I was taught the arts of reading, writing, and arithmetic. In my childhood I was praised for the readiness with which I could multiply and divide, by memory alone, two sums of several figures: such praise encouraged my youthful talent.

At the age of seven I was delivered into the hands of Mr. John Kirkly, who exercised, about eighteen months, the office of domestic tutor. In my ninth year I was sent to Kingston-uponThames, to a school of about seventy boys, which was kept by Dr. Wooddeson. My studies were too frequently interrupted by sickness; and after a residence here of nearly two years, 1 was recalled, December, 1747, by my mother's death. I was too young to feel the importance of my loss; and the image of her person and conversation is faintly imprinted in my memory. My poor father was inconsolable. I can never forget the scene of our

History, and relaxing tlie stately march which he maintains throughout that work, Into a more natural and easy pace, this encltanting writer, with an case, spirit, and vigor peculiar to himself, oc-nducts his readers through a sickly childhood, a neglected and desultory education, and a youth frasti-,1 In the unpromising and unsctiolarlikc occupation of a militia officer, to the period when he resolufl) applied the energies of his genius to a severe course of voluntary study, w hlch in the ijM>eo of \ fe» years rendered him a consummate master of Kouian antiquity, and lastly produced the ■ ffiitnry of toe Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.'"

2 X 5S«

first interview, some weeks after the fatal event; the awful silence, the room hung with black, the mid-day tapers, his sighs and tears; his praises of my mother, a saint in heaven; his solemn adjuration that I would cherish her memory and imitate her virtues; and the fervor with which he kissed and blessed me as the sole surviving pledge of their loves.

In his twelfth year he went to Westminster School, where he resided for three years, and then went to Oxford. His reading while here was very multifarious and extensive, but, turning Papist, his father removed him at the age of sixteen and sent him to Lausanne, in Switzerland, and placed him under the tuition of a Calvinistic minister, by the name of Pavilliard. Here he spent five years, during which time he made astonishing proficiency in his studies, and he ever spoke of his excellent instructor in terms of the highest affection and respect. He thus speaks of


I hesitate, from the apprehension of ridicule, when I approach the delicate subject of my early love. By this word I do not mean the polite attention, the gallantry, without hope or design, which has originated in the spirit of chivalry, and is interwoven with the texture of French manners. I understand by this passion the union of desire, friendship, and tenderness, which is inflamed by a single female, which prefers her to the rest ot her sex, and which seeks her possession as the supreme or the sole happiness of our being. I need not blush at recollecting the object of my choice; and though my love was disappointed of success, I am rather proud that I was once capable of feeling such a pure and exalted sentiment. The personal attractions of Mademoiselle Susan Curchod were embellished by the virtues and talents of the mind. Her fortune was humble, but her family was respectable. Her mother, a native of France, had preferred her religion to her country. The profession of her father did not extinguish the moderation and philosophy of his temper, and he lived content, with a small salary and laborious duty, in the obscure lot of minister of Crassy, in the mountains that separate the Pays de Vaud from the county of Burgundy. In the solitude of a sequestered village he bestowed a liberal and even learned education on his only daughter. She surpassed his hopes by her proficiency in the sciences and languages; and in her short visits to some relations at Lausanne, the wit, the beauty, and erudition of MademoiseLe Curchod were the theme of universal applause. The report of such a prodigy awakened my curiosity; I saw and ioved. I found her learned without pedantry, lively in conversation, pure in sentiment, and elegant in manners; and the first xudden emotion was fortified by the habits and knowledge of a more familiar acquaintance. She permitted me to make her two or three visits at her father's house. I passed some happy days there, in the mountains of Burgundy, and her parents honorably encouraged the connection. In a calm retirement the gay vanity of youth no longer fluttered in her bosom; she listened to the voice of truth and passion; and I might presume to hope that I had made some impression on a virtuous heart. At Crassy and Lausanne I indulged my dream of felicity: but on my return to England, I soon discovered that my father would not hear of this strange alliance, and that without his consent I Was myself destitute and helpless. After a painful struggle, I yielded to my fate: [ sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son; my wound was insensibly healed by time, absence, and the habits of a new life. My cure was accelerated by a faithful report of the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the lady herself; and my love subsided in friendship and esteem. The minister of Crassy soon afterwards died; his stipend died with him; his daughter retired to Geneva, where, by teaching young ladies, she earned a hard subsistence for herself and her mother; but in her lowest distress she maintained a spotless reputation and a dignified behavior. A rich banker of Pans, a citizen of Geneva, had the good fortune and good sense to discover and possess this inestimable treasure; and in the capital of taste and luxury she resisted the temptations of wealth, as she had sustained the hardships of indigence. The genius of her husband has exalted him to the most conspicuous station in Europe. In every change of prosperity and disgrace he has reclined on the bosom of a faithful friend; and Mademoiselle Curchod is now the wife of M. Necker, the minister, and perhaps the legislator, of the French monarchy.1

After spending nearly five years at Lausanne, he returned to England in May, 1758. The following is his account of


It was not without some awe and apprehension that I approached the presence of my father. My infancy, to speak the truth, had been neglected at home; the severity of his look and language at our last parting still dwelt on my memory; nor could I form any notion of his character or my probable receptii n They were both more agreeable than I could expect. The do mestic discipline of our ancestors has been relaxed by the philosophy and softness of the age; and if my father remembered that he had trembled before a stern parent, it was only to adopt with his own son an opposite mode of behavior. He received me as

1 It is curious to speculate on the effect which a union with a female of Buch pure dignity or ccft racter and calm religious principle, might have had on the character and opinions of Gibbon.

« 上一頁繼續 »