« PoprzedniaDalej »
tant services, can justify her attachment to that noble
Even the manners of the age, licentious as they were, are no apology for this unhappy passion ; nor can they induce us to look on that tragical and infamous scene which followed upon it with less abhorrence. Hamanity will draw a veil over this part of her character, which it cannot approve, and may, perhaps, prompt some to impute her actions to her situation, more than to her disposition; and to lament the unhappiness of the former, rather than to accuse the perverseness of the latter.Mary's sufferings exceed, both in degree and in duration, those tragical distresses which fancy has feigned, to excite sorrow and commiseration; and while we survey them, we are apt altogether to forget her frailties ; we think of her faults wiib less indignation, and approve of our tears, as if they were shed for a person who had at. tained much nearer to pure virtue.
With regard to the queen's person, a circumstance not to be omitted in writing the history of a female reign, all cotemporary authors agree in ascribing to Mary the utmost beauty of countenance, and elegance of shape, of which the human form is capable. Her hair was black, though according to the fashion of that age, she frequently wore borrowed locks, and of different colors. Her eyes were a dark gray, her complexion exquisitely fine, and her hands and arms remarkably delieate, both as to shape and color. Her stature was of an height that rose to the majestic. She danced, she walked and rode with equal grace.* Her taste for music was just; and she both sung and played upon the lute with uncommon skill. Towards the end of her life, she began to grow fat; and her long confinement, and the coldness of the houses in whicb she was imprisoned, brought on a rheumatism, which depriv. ed her of the use of her limbs. No man, says Brantome, ever beheld her person without admiration and love, or will read her history without sorrow.
IV.-Character of Queen Elizabeth.-Hume. HERE are few personages in history,who have been
more exposed to the calumny of enemies, and the adulation of friends, than Queen Elizabeth; and yet there is searce any, whose reputation has been more certainly
determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, and the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejadices ; and, obliging her detractors to abate much of their invective, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyric, have, at last, in spite of political factions, and what is more, of religious animosities, produced an uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigor, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance and address, are allowed to merit the highest praises; and appear not to have been surpassed by any person who ever filled a throne ; a conduct less rigorous, less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a perfect character. By the force of her mind, she controlled all her more active and stronger qualities, and prevented them from running into
Her heroism was exempted from all temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her enterprize from turbulency and a vain a'mbition; she guarded not herself, with equal care or equal success, from lesser infirmities—the rivalship of beauty, the desire of admiration, the jealousy of love, and the sallies of anger.
Her singular talents for government were founded equally on her temper and on her capacity. Endowed with a great command over herself, she soon obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over the people ; and, while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also en. gaged their affection by her pretended ones. Few sovereigns of England succeeded to the throne in more difficall circumstances, and none ever conducted the government with such uniform success and felicity, Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration, the true secret for managing religious factions, she preserved her people by her superior prudence, from those confusions in which thenlogical controversy had involved all the neighboring pations; and though her enemies were the most powerful princes of Europe, the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous, she was able, by her vigor, to make deep impressions on their state ; her own greatness, meanwhile, remaining untouched and unimpaired.
The wise ministers and brave warriors who floorished during her reign, share the praise of her success; but, instead of lessening the applause due to her, they make great addition to it. They owed, all of them, their advancement te ber choice ; they were supported by her constancy; and, with all their ability, they were never able to acquire an undue ascendant over her. In her family, in her court, in her kingdom, she remained equally mistress. The force of her tender passions was great over her, but the force of the mind was still superior; and the combat which her victory visibly cost her, only to display the firmness of her resolution, and the loftiness of her ambitious sentiments.
The fame of this princess, though it has surmounted the prejudices both of faction and of bigotry, yet lies still exposed to another prejudice, which is more durable, because more natural; and which, according to the different views in which we survey her, is capable of exalting beyond measure, or diminishing the lustre of her character. This prejudice is founded on the consideration of her sex. When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her qualities and extensive capacity ; but we are also apt to require some more sofiness of disposition, some greater lenity of temper, some of those amiable weaknesses by which her sex is distinguished. But the true method of estimating her merit is to lay aside all these considerations, and to consider her merely as a rational being, placed in authority, and trusted with the government of mankind. We may find it difficult to reconcile our fancy to her, as a wife or mistress; but her qualities as a sovereign, though with some considerable exception, are the objects of undisputed applause and apprdation, V.--Charles V's Resignation of his Dorninions.
ROBERTSON. HARLES resolved to resign his dominions to his son,
with a solemnity suitable to the importance of the transaction ; and to perform this last act of sovereignty with such formal pomp, as might leave an indelible impresion on the minds, not only of his subjects, but of his successor, With this view, he called Philip out of Eng.
land, where the peevish temper of his queen, which increased with the despair of having issue, rendered him extremely unhappy, and the jealousy of the English left him no hopes of obtaining the direction of their affairs. Having assembled the states of the Low Countries at Brussels, on the twenty-fifth of October, one thousand five hundred and fifty-five, Charles 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 u ords, 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 beir; and to serve him, with the same loyalty and zeal which they had manifested, during so long a course of years, in support of his government.
Charles then rose from his seat, and leaning on the shoulder of the Prince of Orange, because he was una. ble to stand without support, he addressed the audience ; and from a paper which he held in his hand, in order to assist his memory, he recounted with dignity, but withoat ostentation, all the great things which he had under. taken 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 ease, 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 vigor of his constitution was equal, in any degree, to the arduous office of governing such extensive dominions, he had never shunned labor, nor repined under fatigue ; that now, when his health was broken and his vigor 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 rerder them happy; 'that, instead of a sovereign worn ont with disease, and scarcely half alive, he gave them one in the prime of life, accustomed already to govern, and who added to the vigor of youth, all the attention and sagacity of maturer years; that if, during the course of a long administration, he had com. mitted any material error in government, or if under the pressure of so many, and great affairs, and amidst the at. tention which he had been obliged to give 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 the 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 upon his knees, and kissed his father's hand, “ If,” said he, " I had left you, by my death, this rich inheritance, to which I have made such large additions, some regard would have been justly due to my memory on that account; but now, when I voluntarily resign to you what I might have still retained, I may well expect the warmest expressions of thanks on your part. With these, however, I dispense; and shall consider your concern for the welfare of your subjects, and your love of them, as the best and most acceptable testimony of your gratitude to me. It is in your power, by a wise and virtuous administration to justify the extraordinary proof, which I this day give, of my paternal affections, and to demonstrate that you are worthy of the confidence which I repose in you. Preserve an inviolable regard for religion; maintain the Catholic faith in its purity; let the laws of your country be sacred to your eyes; encroach not on the rights and privileges of your people; and, if the time shall ever come, when you sbal wish to enjoy th e tranquillity of a private life,