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to complain of fortune; she supplies me with all that nature requires; and if I am without superfluities, I am also free from the desire of them. With these, I confess I should be more able to succour the necessitous, the only advantage for which the wealthy are to be envied: but small as my possessions are, I can still contribute something to the support of the state, and the assistance of my friends. With respect to honours, my country places me, poor as I am, upon
level with the richest: for Rome knows no qualifications for great employments, but virtue and ability. She appoints me to officiate in the most august ceremonies of religion; she entrusts me with the command of her armies; she coufides to my care the most important negociations. My poverty does not lessen the weight and influence of my counsels in the senate. The Roman people honour me for that very poverty, which king Pyrrhus considers as a disgrace. They know the many opportunities I have had to enrich myself, without censure; they are convinced of my disinterested zeal for their prosperity: and if I have any thing to complain of, in the return they make me, it is only the excess of their applause. What value, then, can I put upon thy gold and silver? What king can add any thing to my fortune? Always attentive to discharge the duties incumbent upon me, I have a mind free from self-reproach; and I have an honest fame,
Character of JAMES I. king of England.
NO PRINCE, so little enterprising and so inoffensive, was ever so much exposed to the opposite extremes of calumny and lattery, of satire and panegyric. And the factions which began in his time, being still continued, have made his character be as much disputed
to this day, as is commonly that of princes who are our contemporaries. Many virtues, however, it must be owned, he was possessed of; but not one of them pure, or free from the contagion of the neighbouring vices. His generosity bordered on profusion, his learning on pedantry, his pacific disposition on pusillanimity, his wisdom on cunning, his friendship on light fancy and boyish fondness. While he imagined that he was only maintaining his own authority, he may perhaps be suspected in some of his actions, and still more of his pretensions, to have encroached on the liberties of his people. While he endeavoured, by an exact neutrality, to acquire the good will of all his neighbours, he was able to preserve fully the esteem and regard of none. His capacity was considerable, but fitter to discourse op general maxims, than to conduct any intricate business.
His intentions were just, but more adapted to the conduct of private life, than to the government of kingdoms. Awkward in his person, and ungainly in his manners, he was ill qualified to command respect: partial and undiscerning in his affections, he was little fitted to acquire general love. Of a feeble temper, more than of a frugal judgment; exposed to our ridicule from his vanity, but exempt from our hatred by his freedom from pride and arrogance. And, upon the whole, it may be pronounced of his character, that all his qualities were sullied with weakness, and embellished by humanity. Political courage he was certainly devoid of; and from thence chiefly is derived the strong prejudice, which prevails against his personal bravery; an inference, however, which must be owned, from general experience, to be extremely fallacious..
CHARLES V. emperor of Germany, resigns his dominions, and retires from the world.
THIS great emperor, in the plenitude of his power, and in possession of all the honours which can flatter the heart of man, took the extraordinary resolution, to resign his kingdoms; and to withdraw entirely from any concern in business or the affairs of this world, in order that he might spend the remainder of his days in retirement and solitude. Though it requires neither deep reflection, nor extraordinary discernment, to discover that the state of royalty is not exempt from cares and disappointments; though most of those who are exalted to a throne, find solicitude, and, satiety, and disgust, to be their perpetual attendants, in that en vied pre-eminence; yet, to descend voluntarily from the supreme to a subordinate station, and to relinquish the possession of power in order to attain the enjoyment of happiness, seems to be an effort too great for the human mind. Several instances, indeed, occur in history, of monarchs who have quitted a throne, and have ended their days in retirement. But they were either weak princes, who took this resolution rashly, and repented of it as soon as it was taken; or unfortunate princes, from whose hands some strong rival had wrested their sceptre, and compelled them to descend with reluctance into a private station. Dioclesian is, perhaps, the only prince capable of holding the reins of government, who ever resigned them from deliberate choice; and who continued, during many years, to enjoy the tranquillity of retirement, without fetching one penitent sigh, or casting back one look of desire, towards the power or dignity which he had abandoned.
No wonder, then, that Charles's resignation should
fill all Europe with astonishment; and give rise, both among his contemporaries, and among the historians of that period, to various conjectures concerning the motives which determined a prince, whose ruling passion had been uniformly the love of power, at the age of fifty-six, when objects of ambition operate with full force on the mind, and are pursued with the greatest ardour, to take a resolution so singular and unexpected.
The emperor, in pursuance of his determination, having assembled the states of the Low Countries at Brussels, seated himself, for the last time, in the chair of state; on one side of which was placed his son, and on the other, his sister the queen of Hungary, regent of the Netherlands, with a splendid retinue of the grandees of Spain and princes of the empire standing behind him. The president of the council of Flanders, by his command, explained, in a few words, his intention in calling this extraordinary meeting of the states, He then read the instrument of resignation, by which Charles surrendered to his son Philip all his territories, jurisdiction, and authority in the Low Countries; absolving his subjects there from their oath of allegiance to him, which he required them to transfer to Philip his lawful heir; and to serve him with the same loyalty and zeal that they had manifested, during so long a course of years, in support of his govern
Charles then rose from his seat, and leaning on the shoulder of the Prince of Orange, because he was unable to stand without support, he addressed himself to the audience; and, from a paper which he held in his hand, in order to assist his memory, he recounted, with dignity, but without ostentation, all the great things which he had undertaken and performed, since the commencement of his administration. He observed, that from the seventeenth year of his age, he had dedicated all his thoughts and attention to public objects,
reserving no portion of his time for the indulgence of his case, and very little for the enjoyment of private pleasure; that either in a pacific or hostile manner, he had visited Germany nine times, Spain six times, France four times, Italy seven times, the Low Countries ten times, England twice, Africa as often, and had made eleven voyages by sea; that while his health permitted him to discharge his duty, and the vigour of his constitution was equal, in any degree, to the arduous office of governing dominions so extensive, he had never shunned labour, nor repined under fatigue; that now, when his health was broken, and his vigour exhausted by the rage of an incurable distemper, his growing infirmities admonished him to retire; nor was he so fond of reigning, as to retain the sceptre in an impotent hand, which was no longer able to protect his subjects, or to render them happy; that instead of a sovereign worn out with disease, and scarcely half alive, he gave them one in the prime of life, accustomed already to govern, and who added to the vigour of youth, all the attention and sagacity of maturer years; that if, during the course of a long administration, he had committed any material error in government, or if, under the pressure of so many and great affairs, and amidst the attention which he had been obliged to give to them, he had either neglected or injured any of his subjects, he now implored their forgiveness; that, for his part, he should ever retain a grateful sense of their fidelity and attachment, and would carry the remembrance of it along with him to the place of his retreat, as his sweetest consolation, as well as the best reward for all his services; and in his last prayers to Almighty God, would pour forth his ardent wishes for their welfare.
Then turning towards Philip, who fell on his knees and kissed his father's hand, "If," says he, "I had left you, by my death, this rich inheritance, to which I have made such large additions, some regard would