페이지 이미지
[ocr errors]

and a brother-in-law, and the revival of his grandfather's claim of superiority over that kingdom, were both unreasonable and ungenerous; and he allowed himself to be too soon seduced by the glaring prospects of French conquest, from the acquisition of a point which was practicable, and which might really, if attained, have been of lasting utility to his country and to his successors. But the glory of a conqueror is so dazzling to the vulgar, and the animosity of nations so extreme, that the fruitless desolation of so fine a part of Europe as France, is totally disregarded by us, and never considered as a blemish in the character or conduct of this prince; and indeed, from the unfortunate state of human nature, it will commonly happen that a sovereign of great genius, such as Edward, who usually finds every thing easy in the domestic government, will turn himself towards military enterprises, where alone he meets opposition, and where he has full exercise for his industry and capacity. Died 21st of June, aged 61, in the 51st year of his reign.

[ocr errors]

There are few great 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 scarce 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 prejudices; and, obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, 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 vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, and


[ocr errors]

s ~ * a ". - * \g. * filled a throne. A conduct less vig o less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a perfect character. the force of her mind, she controlled all her more active and stronger qualities, and prevented them from running into excess. Her heroism was exempt from all temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her active spirit from turbulency and a vain ambition. 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 of herself, she obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over her people; and, while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also engaged their affection by her pretended ones. Few sovereigns of England succeeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances; and none ever conducted the government with such uniform success and felicity. Enough 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 theological controversy had involved all the neighbouring nations; and though her enemies were the most powerful princes in Europe, the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous, she was able by her vigour to make deep impressions on their state; her own greatness meanwhile untouched and unimpaired. The wise ministers and brave warriors, who flourished 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 to her choice; they were supported by

** * * ,

vigilance, are allowed to merit the her constancy; and, with all their abil

highest praise, and appear not to have

ity, they were never able to acquire

been surpassed by any person who ever any undue ascendant over her. In her

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

was still superior; and the combat, which her victory visibly cost her, serves 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 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 either of exalting beyond measure, or diminishing, the lustre of her character. This prejudice is founded in consideration of her sex. When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her great qualities and extensive capacity; but we are apt also to require some more softness 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 those considerations, and consider her merely as a rational being, placed in authority, and entrusted with the government of mankind. We may find it difficult to reconcile our fancy to her as a wife or a mistress; but her qualities as a sovereign, though with some considerable exceptions, are the object of undisputed applause and approbation.


There was a gentleman, called Roger More, who, though of a narrow fortune, was descended from an ancient Irish family, and was much celebrated among his countrymen for valour and capacity. This man first formed the project of expelling the English, and asserting the independence of his native country. He secretly went from chieftain to chieftain, and roused up every latent principle of discontent. He maintained

a close correspondence with Lord Maguire and Sir Phelim O'Neale, the most powerful of the old Irish. By conversations, by letters, by his emissaries, he represented to his countrymen the motives of a revolt, and he engaged all the heads of the native Irish in the conspiracy. The English of the pale, as they were called, or the old English planters, being all catholics, it was hoped, would afterwards join the party, which restored their religion to its ancient splendour and authority. The intention was, that Sir Phelim &No. and the other conspirators, should begin an insurrection on one day, throughout the provinces, and should attack all the English settlements; and that, on the very same day, Lord Maguire and Roger More should surprise the Castle of Dublin. The commencement of this revolt was fixed on the approach of winter, that there might be more difficulty in transporting forces from England. Succours to themselves and supplies of arms they expected from France, in consequence of a promise made them by Cardinal Richelieu; and many Irish officers, who served in the Spanish troops, had engaged to join them, as soon as they saw an insurrection entered upon by their catholic brethren. News, which every day arrived from England, of the fury expressed by the Commons against all papists, struck fresh terror into the Irish nation, and both stimulated the conspirators to execute their fatal purpose, and gave them assured hopes of the concurrence of all their countrymen. Such propensity to a revolt was discovered in all the Irish, that it was deemed unnecessary, as it was dangerous, to entrust the secret to many hands; and the appointed day drew nigh, nor had any discovery been yet made to the government. The king, indeed, had received information from his ambassadors, that something was in agitation among the Irish in foreign parts: but though he gave warning to the administration in Ireland, the intelligence was entirely neglected. Secret rumours, likewise, were heard of some approaching conspiracy; but no attention was paid to them. The Earl of Leicester, whom the king had appointed lieutenant, remained in London. The two justices, Sir William Parsons and Sir John Borlace, were men of small abilities; and, by an inconvenience, common to all factious times, owed their advancement to nothing but their zeal for that party, by whom every thing was now governed. Tranquil from their ignorance and inexperience, these men indulged themselves in the most profound repose on the very brink of destruction. But they were awakened from their security, on the very day before that which was appointed for the commencement of hostilities. The Castle of Dublin, by which the capital was commanded, contained arms for 10,000 men, with thirty-five pieces of cannon, and a proportionable quantity of ammunition: yet was this important place guarded, and that too without any care, by no greater force than fifty men. Maguire and More were already in town with a numerous band of their retainers; others were expected that night, and next morning they were to enter upon that they esteemed the easiest of all enterprises, the surprisal of the castle. O'Conolly, an Irishman, but a protestant, betrayed the conspiracy to Parsons. The justice and council fled immediately, for safety, into the castle, and reinforced the guards. The alarm was conveyed to the city, and all the protestants prepared for defence. More escaped: Maguire was taken; and Mahone, one of the conspirators, being likewise seized, first discovered to the justices the project of a general insurrection, and redoubled the apprehensions which were already universally diffused throughout Dublin. But though O'Conolly's discovery saved the castle from a surprise, the confession extorted from Mahone came too late to prevent the intended insurrection. O'Neale and his confederates had already taken arms in Ulster. The Irish, everywhere intermingled with the English, needed but a hint from their

leaders and priests to begin hostilities against a people, whom they hated on account of their religion, and envied for their riches and prosperity. The houses, cattle, and goods, of the unwary English were first seized. They who heard of the commotions in their neighbourhood, instead of deserting their habitations, and assembling together for mutual protection, remained at home, in hopes of defending their property; and fell thus separately into the hands of their enemies. After rapacity had fully exerted itself, cruelty, and the most barbarous that ever, in any nation, was known or heard of, began its operations. A universal massacre commenced of the English, now defenceless, and passively resigned to their inhuman foes. No age, no sex, no condition was spared. The wife weeping for her butchered husband, and embracing her helpless children, was pierced with them, and perished by the same stroke. The old, the young, the vigorous, the infirm, underwent a like fate, and were confounded in one common ruin. In vain did flight save from the first assault: destruction was everywhere let loose, and met the hunted victims at every turn. In vain was recourse had to relations, to companions, to friends. All connexions were dissolved, and death was dealt by that hand, from which protection was implored and expected. Without provocation, without opposition, the astonished English, living in profound peace and full security, were massacred by their nearest neighbours, with whom they had long upheld a continued intercourse of kindness and good offices. But death was the lightest punishment inflicted by those enraged rebels: all the tortures, which wanton cruelty could devise, all the lingering pains of body, the anguish of mind, the agonies of despair, could not satiate revenge excited without injury, and cruelty derived from no cause. To enter into particulars would shock the least delicate humanity. Such enormities, though attested by undoubted evidence, appear almost incredible. Depraved nature, even perverted religion, encouraged by the utmost licence, reaches not to such a pitch of ferocity; unless the pity inherent in human breasts be destroyed by that contagion of example which transports men beyond all the usual motives of conduct and behaviour. The weaker sex themselves, naturally tender to their own sufferings, and compassionate to those of others, here emulated their more robust companions in the practice of every cruelty. Even children, taught by the example, and encouraged by the exhortations of their parents, essayed their feeble blows on the dead carcasses or defenceless children of the English. The very avarice of the Irish was not a sufficient restraint to their cruelty. Such was their frenzy, that the cattle, which they had seized, and by rapine made their own, yet, because they bore the name of English, were wantonly slaughtered, or, when covered with wounds, turned loose into the woods and deserts. The stately buildings or commodious habitations of the planters, as if upbraiding the sloth and ignorance of the natives, were consumed with fire, or laid level with the ground. And where the miserable owners, shut up in their houses, and preparing for defence, perished in the flames, together with their wives and children, a double triumph was afforded to their insulting foes. If anywhere a number assembled together, assuming courage from despair, were resolved to sweeten death by revenge on their assassins, they were dis

armed by capitulations and promises of safety, confirmed by the most solemn oaths. But no sooner had they surrendered, than the rebels, with perfidy equal to their cruelty made them share the fate of their unhappy countrymen.

Others, more ingenious still in their barbarity, tempted their prisoners, by the fond love of life, to embrue their hands in the blood of friends, brothers, and parents; and having thus rendered them accomplices in guilt, gave them that death which they sought to shun by deserving it.

Amidst all these enormities, the sacred name of religion resounded on every side, not to stop the hands of these murderers, but to enforce their blows, and to steel their hearts against every movement of human or social sympathy. The English, as heretics, abhorred of God, and detestable to all holy men, were marked out by the priests for slaughter; and, of all actions, to rid the world of these declared enemies to catholic faith and piety, was represented as the most meritorious. Nature, which, in that rude people, was sufficiently inclined to atrocious deeds, was farther stimulated by precept; and national prejudices were empoisoned by those aversions, more deadly and incurable, which arose from an enraged superstition. While death finished the sufferings of each victim, the bigoted assassins, with joy and exultation, still echoed in his expiring ears, that these agonies were but the commencement of torments, infinite and eternal.


DWARD GIBBON, the author of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' was born at Putney, Surrey, in 1737. As a youth he was passionately fond of all sorts of reading, but he soon showed a decided taste for historical works. In 1753 he became a Roman Catholic. Upon the discovery of this fact, his father Rent him to Lausanne in Switzerland, where in 1754 he became again converted to protestantism. In 1758 he returned to England, and entered the Hampshire inilitia, in which he remained till 1762, when he travelled in France and Italy. After his return to England he undertook (1770) the commencement of his great work.

In 1774 he entered parliament, and retained his seat for four years; but he did not particularly distinguish himself there. The first volume of his ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' appeared in 1777, and met with very great success. The second and third volumes were published in 1781; after the appearance of which he went a second time to Lausanne and finished the work: the three additional volumes appeared in 1788. After his return Gibbon resided in London till 1793, when he again made a visit to Lausanne, but came back to England in the same year; and died in 1794. The great fault of his history is disbelief in the Christian religion, implied in several of the chapters. The style is flowing and easy, and many of the events are described almost with a dramatic force. On the whole,


The appellation of Great has been often bestowed, and sometimes deserved, but Charlemagne is the only prince in whose favour the title has been indissolubly blended with the name. That name, with the addition of saint, is inserted in the Roman calendar; and the saint, by a rare felicity, is crowned with the praises of the historians and philosophers of an enlightened age. His real merit is doubtless enhanced by the barbarism of the nation and the times from which he emerged: but the apparent magnitude of an object is likewise enlarged by an unequal comparison; and the ruins of Palmyra derive a casual splendour from the nakedmess of the surrounding desert. Without injustice to his fame I may discern some blemishes in the sanctity and greatness of the restorer of the western empire. Of his moral virtues, chastity is not the most conspicuous: but the public happiness could not be materially injured by his nine wives, the various indulgence of meaner or more transient amours, the multitude of his bastards whom he bestowed on the church, and the long celibacy and licentious manners of his daughters. I shall be scarcely permitted to accuse the ambition of a conqueror; but in a day of equal retribution the sons of his brother Carloman, the Merovingian princes of Aquitain, and the four thousand five hundred Saxons who were beheaded on the same spot, would have something to allege against the justice and humanity of Charlemagne. His treatment of the vanquished Saxons was an abuse of the right of conquest: his laws were not less sanguinary than his arms, and in the discussion of his motives whatever is subtracted from bigotry must be imputed to temper. The sedentary reader is amazed by his incessant activity of mind and body; and his subjects and enemies were not less astonished at his sudden presence

the book possesses great interest, which considering its length is well sustained to the end. His autobiography is well worth reading.

at the moment when they believed him at the most distant extremity of the empire: neither peace nor war, nor summer nor winter, were a season of repose; and our fancy cannot easily reconcile the annals of his reign with the geography of his expeditions. But this activity was a national rather than a personal virtue; the vagrant life of a Frank was spent in the chase, in pilgrimage, in military adventures; and the journeys of Charlemagne were distinguished only by a more numerous train and a more important purpose. His military renown must be tried by the scrutiny of his troops, his enemies, and his actions. Alexander conquered with the arms of Philip, but the two heroes who preceded Charlemagne bequeathed him their name, their example, and the companions of their victories. At the head of his veteran and superior armies he oppressed the savage or degenerate nations who were incapable of confederating for their common safety: nor did he ever encounter an equal antagonist in numbers, in discipline, or in arms. The science of war has been lost and revived with the arts of peace; but his campaigns are not illustrated by any siege or battle of singular difficulty and success; and he might behold with envy the Saracen trophies of his grandfather. After the Spanish expedition his rear guard was defeated in the Pyrenean mountains; and the soldiers, whose situation was irretrievable, and whose valour was useless, might accuse with their last breath the want of skill or caution of their general. I touch with reverence the laws of Charlemagne, so highly applauded by a respectable judge. They compose not a system but a series of occasional and minute edicts, for the correction of abuses, the reformation of manners, the economy of his farms, the care of his poultry, and even the sale of his eggs. He wished to improve the laws and the character of the Franks; and his

« 이전계속 »