Imagini ale paginilor

but as soon as the wind rises the branches of the neighbouring trees become interwoven, and then the Sloth seizes hold of them, and

pursues his journey in safety. There is seldom an entire day of calm in these forests. The trade-wind generally sets in about ten o'clock in the morning, and thus the Sloth may set off after breakfast, and get a considerable way before dinner. He travels at a good round pace ; and were you to see him pass from tree to tree, as I have done, you would never think of calling him a Sloth.

Thus it would appear that the different histories we have of this quadruped are erroneous on two accounts : first, that the writers of them, deterred by difficulties and local annoyances, have not paid sufficient attention to him in his native haunts; and, secondly, they have described him in a situation in which he was never intended by nature to cut a figure - I mean on the ground. The Sloth is as much at a loss to proceed on his journey upon a smooth and level floor, as a man would be who had to walk a mile in stilts upon a line of featherbeds.

One day, as we were crossing the Essequibo, I saw a large two-toed Sloth on the ground upon the bank; how he had got there, nobody could tell: the Indian said he had never surprised a Sloth in such a situation before : he would hardly have come there to drink, for both above and below the place the branches of the trees touched the water, and afforded him an easy and safe access to it. Be this as it may, though the trees were not above twenty yards from him, he could not make his way through the sand time enough to escape before we landed. As soon as we got up to him he threw himself upon his back, and defended himself in gallant style with his fore-legs. “Come, poor fellow,” said I to him, “ If thou hast got into a hobble to-day, thou shalt not suffer for it: I'll take no advantage of thee in misfortune ; the forest is large enough both for thee and me to rove in: go thy ways up above, and enjoy thyself in these endless wilds; it is more than probable thou wilt never have another interview with man. So fare thee well.” On saying this, I took a long stick which was lying there, held it for him to hook on, and then conveyed him to a high and stately mora. He ascended with wonderful rapidity, and in about a minute he was almost at the top of the tree. He now went off in a side direction, and caught hold of the branch of a neighbouring tree ; he then proceeded towards the heart of the forest. I stood looking on, lost in amazement at his singular mode of progress. I followed him with my eye till the intervening branches closed in betwixt us; and then I lost sight for ever of the two-toed Sloth. I was going to add, that I never saw a Sloth take to his heels in such earnest; but the expression will not do, for the Sloth has no heels.

That which naturalists have advanced, of his being so tenacious of life, is perfectly true. I saw the heart of one beat for half an hour after it was taken out of the body. The wourali poison seems to be the only thing that will kill it quickly. On reference to a former part of these wanderings, it will be seen that a poisoned arrow killed the Sloth in about ten minutes.

So much for this harmless, unoffending animal. He holds a conspicuous place in the catalogue of the animals of the New World. Though naturalists have made no mention of what follows, still it is not less true on that account. The Sloth is the only quadruped known, which spends its whole life from the branch of a tree, suspended by his feet. I have paid uncommon attention to him in his native haunts. The monkey and squirrel will seize a branch with their fore-feet, and pull themselves up, and rest or run upon it ; but the Sloth, after seizing it, still remains suspended, and suspended moves along under the branch, till he can lay hold of another. Whenever I have seen him in his native woods, whether at rest, or asleep, or on his travels, I have always observed that he was suspended from the branch of a tree. When his form and anatomy are attentively considered, it will appear evident that the Sloth cannot be at ease in any situation, where his body is higher, or above his feet. We will now take our leave of him.


CAVENDISH. It chanced at a certain season that the king had an urgent occasion to send an ambassador unto the Emperor Maximilian, who lay at that present in the low country of Flanders, not far from Calais. The Bishop of Winchester and Sir Thomas Lovell, whom the king most highly esteemed, as chief among his counsellors, (the king one day counselling and debating with them upon this embassy,) saw they had a con

venient occasion to prefer the king's chaplain, whose excellent wit, eloquence, and learning, they highly commended to the king. The king giving ear unto them, and being a prince of an excellent judgment and modesty, commanded them to bring his chaplain, whom they so much commended, before his grace's presence. At whose repair thither, to prove the wit of his chaplain, the king fell in communication with him in matters of weight and gravity, and, perceiving his wit to be very fine, thought him sufficient to be put in authority and trust with this embassy; and commanded him thereupon to prepare himself to this enterprise and journey, and for his dépêche* to repair to his grace and his trusty counsellors aforesaid, of whom he should receive his commission and instructions. By means whereof he had then a due occasion to repair from time to time into the king's presence, who perceived him more and more to be a very wise man, and of a good entendmentt. And after his dépêche he took his leave of the king at Richmond about noon, and so came to London with speed, about four of the clock, where then the barge of Gravesend was ready to launch forth, both with a prosperous tide and wind. Without any farther abode he entered the barge, and so passed forth. His happy speed was such that he arrived at Gravesend within little more than three hours, where he tarried no longer than his post horses were provided ; and travelling so speedily with post horses, that he came to Dover the next morning early, whereas the passengers were ready, under sail displayed, to sail to Calais. Into which

farther abode, he entered and sailed forth with them, so that he arrived at Calais within three hours, and having three post horses in a readiness, departed incontinent, making such hasty speed, that he was that night with the emperor; who, having understanding of the coming of the king of England's ambassador, would in no wise defer the time, but sent incontinent for him (his affection unto King Henry the Seventh was such that he rejoiced when he had an occasion to show him pleasure). The ambassador, having opportunity, disclosed the sum of his embassy unto the emperor, of whom he required speedy expedition, the which was granted; so that the ext day he was clearly despatched, with all the king's requests fully accomplished. At which time he made no farther tarriance, but with post horses rode incontinent that night toward Calais again, conducted thither with such * Despatch.

passengers, without any

+ Understanding.

number of horsemen as the emperor had appointed, and was at the opening of the gates there, where the passengers were as ready to return into England as they were before in his advancing; insomuch that he arrived at Dover by ten of the clock before noon; and having post horses in a readiness came to the court at Richmond that night. Where he, taking his rest for that time until the morning, repaired to the king at his first coming out of his grace's bedchamber, toward his closet to hear mass. Whom (when he saw) he checked him for that he was not past on his journey. Sir,” quoth he, “ if it may

stand with your highness's pleasure, I have already been with the emperor. and despatched your affairs, I trust, to your grace's contentation." And with that delivered unto the king the emperor's letters of credence. The king, being in a great confuse and wonder of his hasty speed with ready furniture of all his proceedings, dissimuled all his imagination and wonder in that matter, and demanded of him whether he encountered not his pursuivant, the which he sent unto him (supposing him not to be scantly out of London) with letters concerning a very necessary cause, neglected in his commission and instructions, the which the king coveted much to be sped. “Yes, forsooth, sire," quoth he, “ I encountered him yesterday by the way; and having no understanding by your grace's letters of your pleasure therein, have, notwithstanding been so bold, upon mine own discretion (perceiving that matter to be very necessary in that behalf) to despatch the same. And forasmuch as I have exceeded your grace's commission, I most humbly require your gracious remission and pardon.” The king, rejoicing inwardly not a little, said again, “ We do not only pardon you thereof, but also give you our princely thanks, both for the proceeding therein, and also for your good and speedy exploit,” commanding him for that time to take his rest, and to repair again to him after dinner for the farther relation of his embassy. The king then went to mass; and after at convenient time he went to dinner.

It is not to to be doubted but that this ambassador hath been since his return with his great friends, the Bishop of Winchester and Sir Thomas Lovell, to whom he hath declared the effect of all his speedy progress; nor yet what joy they conceived thereof. And after his departure from the king in the morning, his highness sent for the bishop and Sir Thomas Lovell, to whom he declared the wonderful expedition of his ambassador, commending therewith his excellent wit, and in

especial the invention and advancing of the matter left out of his commission and instructions. The king's words rejoiced these worthy counsellors not a little, forasmuch as he was of their preferment.

Then, when this ambassador remembered the king's commandment, and saw the time draw fast on of his repair before the king and his council, he prepared him in a readiness, and resorted unto the place assigned by the king, to declare his embassy. Without all doubt he reported the effect of all his affairs and proceedings so exactly, with such gravity and eloquence that all the council that heard him could do no less but commend him, esteeming his expedition to be almost beyond the capacity of man. The king, of his mere motion and gracious consideration, gave him at that time for his diligent and faithful service, the deanery of Lincoln, which at that time was one of the worthiest spiritual promotions that he gave under the degree of a bishopric. And thus from thenceforward he grew more and more into estimation and authority, and after was promoted by the king to be his almoner. Here may all men note the chances of Fortune that followeth some whom she listeth to promote, and even so to some her favour is contrary, though they should travail never so much, with all the urgent diligence and painful study that they could devise or imagine ; whereof, for my part, I have tasted of the experience. Now ye

shall understand that all this tale that I have declared of his good expedition in the king's embassy, I received it of his own mouth and report, after his fall, lying at that time in the great park of Richmond, I being then there attending upon him ; taking an occasion upon divers communications to tell me this journey, with all the circumstances as I have here before rehearsed.


[ocr errors]

[In`this volume (No. 121) we have given some of the passages of the Poets' description of Summer. We now add some farther extracts connected with that season, and we commence with Mrs. Barbauld's Summer Evening's Meditation. There are some splendid lines in this poem, and Leigh Hunt justly says, that it presents to the reader's imagination the picture of a fine-minded female wrapt up in thought and devotion."]



« ÎnapoiContinuați »