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Cranmer had less courage at first. Terrified by the prospect of those tortures which awaited him, or overcome by the fond love of life, and by the flattery of artful men, who pompously represented the dignities to which his character still entitled him, if he would merit them by a recantation, he agreed, in an unguarded hour, to subscribe to the required doctrines.
But the court, no less perfidious than cruel, determined that this recantation should avail him nothing; that he should acknowledge his errors in the church before the people, and afterwards be led to execution. Whether Cranmer received secret intelligence of their design, or repented of his weakness, or both, is uncertain, but he surprised the audience by a declaration very
different from what was expected.
After explaining his sense of what he owed to God and his sovereign, “ There is one miscarriage in my life,” said he, "of which, above all others, I severely repent; and that is, the insincere declaration of faith to which I had the weakness to subscribe. But I take this
opportunity of atoning for my error, by a sincere and open recantation, and am willing to seal with my blood that doctrine which I firmly believe to be communicated from heaven.”
As his hand, he added, had erred, by betraying his heart, it should first be punished by a severe but just doom. He accordingly stretched it out as soon as he came to the stake, and, without discovering, either by his looks or motions, the least sign of weakness, or even feeling, he held it in the flames till it was entirely consumed.
His thoughts, to use the words of an elegant and learned historian, appeared to be totally occupied in reflecting on his former faults; and he called aloud several times, “ This hand has offended! this wicked hand has offended!” When it dropped off, he discovered a serenity in his countenance, as if satisfied with sacrificing to divine justice the instrument of his crime. And when the fire attacked his body, his soul, totally collected within itself, seemed superior to every external accident, and altogether inaccessible to pain.
Where shall the child of sorrow find
A place for calm repose ?
Pity the orphan's woes!
What friend to trust, but thee?
My God, remember me !
And bid my troubles cease;
Both mercy, grace, and peace.
But he that secret knows
Pity the orphan's woes!
LION AND DOG.
It was customary for those who were unable to pay sixpence for the sight of the wild beasts in the Tower, to bring a dog or a cat as a gift to the beasts, in lieu of money to the keeper. Among others, a man had brought a pretty black spaniel, which was thrown into the cage of the great lion. Immediately the little animal trembled and shivered, crouched, and threw itself on its back, put forth its tongue, and held up its paws, as if praying for mercy.
In the meantime, the lion, instead of devouring it, turned it over with one paw, and then turned it with the other. He smelled it, and seemed desirous of courting a further acquaintance. The keeper, on seeing this, brought a large mess of his own family dinner; but the lion kept aloof, and refused to eat, keeping his eye on the doy, and inviting him, as it were, to be his taster.
At length, the little animal's fears being somewhat abated, and his appetite quickened by the smell of the victuals, he approached slowly, and, with trembling, ventured to eat. The lion then advanced gently, and began to partake, and they finished their meal very quietly together.
From this day, a strict friendship commenced between them, consisting of great affection and tenderness on the part of the lion, and of the utmost confidence and boldness on the part of the dog; insomuch that he would lay himself down to sleep within the fangs and under the jaws of his terrible patron.
In about twelve months, the little spaniel sickened and died. For a time, the lion did not appear to conceive otherwise than that his favourite was asleep. He would continue to smell him, and then would stir him with his nose, and turn him over with his paws.
But, finding that all his efforts to wake him were vain, he would traverse his cage from end to end at a swift and uneasy pace. He would then stop, and look down upon him with a fixed and drooping regard, and again lift up his head, and roar for several minutes as the sound of distant thunder.
They attempted, but in vain, to convey the carcass from him. He watched it continually, and would suffer nothing to touch it. The keeper then endeavoured to tempt him with a variety of food, but he turned from all that was offered, with loathing.
They then put several living dogs in his cage, which he tore in pieces, but left their members on the floor. His passions being thus inflamed, he would grapple at the bars of his cage, as if enraged at his restraint from tearing those around him to pieces.
Again, as if quite spent, he would stretch himself by the remains of his beloved associate, lay his paws upon him, and take him to his bosom, and then utter his grief in deep and melancholy roaring, for the loss of his little playfellow, his late friend, the only companion of his den.
For five days he thus languished, and gradually declined, without taking any sustenance or admitting any comfort, till one morning he was found dead, with his head reclined on the carcass of his little friend. They were both interred together.
THE MOUSE'S PETITION.
Found in the trap, where he had been confined all night by Dr Priestly, for the sake of making experiments with different kinds of air.
O hear a pensive prisoner's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
Against the wretch's cries !
Within the wiry grate ; '.
Which brings impending fate.
And spurn'd a tyrant's chain,
A freeborn mouse detain !
Thy hospitable hearth;
A prize so little worth.
My frugal meals supply;
That slender boon deny,-
Are blessings widely given ;
The common gifts of Heaven.
To all compassion gives ;
And feels for all that lives.
A never dying flame,
In every form the same;
Beware, lest, in the worm you crush,
A brother's soul you find ;
Dislodge a kindred mind.
Be all of life we share,
That little all to spare.
With health and peace be crown'd,
Beneath thy roof be found.
Which men, like mice, may share,
And break the hidden snare !
LOUIS XII. OF FRANCE.
When Louis XII. had, by employing every engine of violence and policy, accomplished his designs, he fell into a lingering disorder, which warned him of his approaching dissolution. But, although he seemed to expect the stroke of death, with those horrors of mind that result from a consciousness of guilt and apprehensions of punishment, he resolved to support to the last moment his absolute power, and provided, by every possible means, against any attempts which the languid state of his health might encourage his nobles to make against his authority.
Concealing as much as possible his sickness, and causing reports of his convalescence to be daily circulated, he shut himself up in a castle, which he caused to be encompassed with massive bars of iron, of an extraordinary thickness, and at every corner were watch-towers, strongly guarded with soldiers.
The gate was shut, and the bridge drawn up every night; and, throughout the whole day, the captains guarded their posts with the same vigilance as in a place closely besieged. Within this impregnable fortress, Louis bade defiance to