Page images

notwithstanding his cruelty, his extortion, his violence, his arbitrary administration, this prince not only acquired the regard of his subjects, but never was the object of their hatred: he seems even, in some degree, to have possessed their love and affection. His exterior qualities were advantageous, and fit to captivate the multitude; his magnificence and personal bravery rendered him illustrious to vulgar eyes; and it may be said with truth, that the English in that age were so thoroughly subdued that, like eastern slaves, they were inclined to admire even those acts of violence and tyranny which were exercised over themselves, and at their own expense.

History of England.

CHARACTER OF QUEEN ELIZABETH. Some incidents happened which revived her tenderness for Essex, and filled her with the deepest sorrow for the consent which she had unwarily given to his execution.

The Earl of Essex, after his return from the fortunate expedition against Cadiz, observing the increase of the queen's fond attachment towards him, took occasion to regret that the necessity of the service required him often to be absent from her person, and exposed him to all those ill offices which his enemies, more assiduous in their attendance, could employ against him. She was moved with this tender jealousy; and making him the present of a ring, desired him to keep that pledge of her affection, and assured him that into whatever disgrace he should fall, whatever prejudices she might be induced to entertain against him, yet if he sent her that ring, she would immediately upon sight of it recall her former tenderness, would afford him a patient hearing, and would lend a favourable ear to his apology. Essex, notwithstanding all his misfortunes, reserved this precious gift to the last extremity; but after his trial and condemnation he resolved to try the experiment, and he committed the ring to the Countess of Nottingham, whom he desired to deliver it to the queen. The countess was prevailed on by her husband, the mortal enemy of Essex, not to execute the commission; and Elizabeth, who still expected that her favourite would make this last appeal to her tenderness, and who ascribed the neglect of it to his invincible obstinacy, was, after much delay and many internal combats, pushed by resentment and policy to sign the warrant for his execution. The Countess of Nottingham falling into sickness, and affected with the near approach of death, was seized with remorse for her conduct; and having obtained a visit from the queen, she craved her pardon, and revealed to her the fatal

secret. The queen, astonished with this incident, burst into a furious passion: she shook the dying countess in her bed; and crying to her that God might pardon her, but she never could, she broke from her, and thenceforth resigned herself over to the deepest and most incurable melancholy. She rejected all consolation: she even refused food and sustenance; and, throwing herself on the floor, she remained sullen and immovable, feeding her thoughts on her afflic tions, and declaring life and existence an insufferable burden to her. Few words she uttered; and they were all expressive of some inward grief which she cared not to reveal: but sighs and groans were the chief vent which she gave to her despondency, and which, though they discovered her sorrows, were never able to ease or assuage them. Ten days and nights she lay upon the carpet, leaning on cushions which her maids brought her; and her physicians could not persuade her to allow herself to be put to bed, much less to make trial of any remedies which they prescribed to her. Her anxious mind at last had so long preyed on her frail body, that her end was visibly approaching; and the council being assembled, sent the keeper, admiral, and secretary to know her will with regard to her successor. She answered with a faint voice that as she had held a regal sceptre, she desired no other than a royal successor. Cecil requesting her to explain herself more particularly, she subjoined that she would have a king to succeed her; and who should that be but her nearest kinsman, the King of Scots? Being then advised by the Archbishop of Canterbury to fix her thoughts upon God, she replied that she did so, nor did her mind in the least wander from him. Her voice soon after left her; her senses failed; she fell into a lethargic slumber, which continued some hours, and she expired gently, without farther struggle or convulsion (March 24), in the seventieth year of her age and forty-fifth of her reign. So dark a cloud overcast the evening of that day which had shone out with a mighty lustre in the eyes of all Europe! 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 scarcely 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 a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigour, 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 that 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 excess: her heroism was exempt from temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her active temper from turbulency and 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 over herself, she soon obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over her people; and while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also engaged their affections 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. Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration,-the true secret for maintaining 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 of Europe, the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous, she was able by her vigour to make deep impressions on their states; her own greatness meanwhile remained untouched and unimpaired.

The wise ministers and brave warriors who flourished under 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 her constancy, and with all their abilities, they were never able to acquire any undue ascendant over her. In her family, in her court, in her kingdom, she remained equally mistress: the force of the tender passions was great over her, but the force of her mind 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 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 great qualities and extensive capacity; but we are also apt 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 these considerations, and consider her merely as a rational being placed in authority, and intrusted 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. History of England.

JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU, born at Geneva, Switzerland, 1712, died 1778, was the author of many works, of which, and of the career of their author, we shall make no attempt to give a description in a volume of English selections. A specimen of his style, so far as that can be judged of in a translation (which we find in Knight's Half-Hours with the Best Authors, vol. ii, 276-280), we herewith present.

"Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau, The apostle of affliction, he who threw Enchantment over passion, and from woe Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew The breath which made him wretched; yet he knew

How to make madness beautiful, and cast

O'er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they pass'd

The eyes which o'er them shed tears feelingly and



[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]


I can hardly tell you, sir, how concerned I have been to see that you consider me the most miserable of men. The world, no doubt, thinks as you do, and that also distresses me. Oh! why is not the existence I have enjoyed known to the whole universe! every one would wish to procure for himself a similar lot, peace would reign upon the earth, man would no longer think of injuring his fellows, and the wicked would no longer be found, for none would have an interest in being wicked. But what then did I enjoy when I was alone? Myself; the entire universe; all that is; all that can be; all that is beautiful in the world of sense; all that is imaginable in the world of intellect. I gathered around me all that could delight my heart; my desires were the limit of my pleasures. No, never have the voluptuous known such enjoyments; and I have derived a hundred times more happiness from my chimeras than they from their realities.

steps in the fear that some one would take possession of me before I could escape; but when once I could turn a certain corner, with what a beating heart, with what a flutter of joy, I began to breathe, as I felt that I was safe; and I said, Here now am I my own master for the rest of the day! I went on then at a more tranquil pace to seek some wild spot in the forest, some desert place, where nothing indicating the hand of man announced slavery and power, -some refuge to which I could believe I was the first to penetrate, and where no wearying third could step in to interpose between nature and me. It was there that she seemed to display before my eyes an ever new magnificence. The gold of the broom, and the purple of the heath, struck my sight with a splendour that touched my heart. The majesty of the trees that covered me with their shadow, the delicacy of the shrubs that flourished around me, the astonishing variety of the herbs and flowers that I crushed beneath my feet, kept my mind in a continued alternation of observing and of admiring. This assemblage of so many interesting objects contending for my attention, attracting me incessantly from one to the other, fostered my dreamy and idle humour, and often made me repeat to myself, No, "even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

When my sufferings make me measure sadly the length of the night, and the agitation of fever prevents me from enjoying a The spot thus adorned could not long resingle instant of sleep, I often divert my main a desert to my imagination. I soon mind from my present state in thinking of peopled it with beings after my own heart, the various events of my life; and repent- and dismissing opinion, prejudice, and all ance, sweet recollections, regrets, emotions, factitious passions, I brought to these sanchelp to make me for some moments forget tuaries of nature men worthy of inhabiting my sufferings. What period do you think, them. I formed with these a charming sir, I recall most frequently and most will- society, of which I did not feel myself uningly in my dreams? Not the pleasures of worthy. I made a golden age according to my youth they were too rare, too much my fancy, and, filling up these bright days mingled with bitterness, and are now too with all the scenes of my life that had left distant. I recall the period of my seclu- the tenderest recollections, and with all that sion, of my solitary walks, of the fleeting my heart still longed for, I affected myself but delicious days that I have passed entirely to tears over the true pleasures of humanity, by myself, with my good and simple house--pleasures so delicious, so pure, and yet so keeper, with my beloved dog, my old cat, with the birds of the field, the hinds of the forest, with all nature, and her inconceivable Author. In getting up before the sun to contemplate its rising from my garden, when a beautiful day was commencing, my first wish was that no letters or visits might come to disturb the charm. After having devoted the morning to various duties, that I fulfilled with pleasure, because I could have put them off to another time, I hastened to dine, that I might escape from importunate people, and insure a longer afternoon. Before one o'clock, even on the hottest days, I started in the heat of the sun with my faithful Achates, hastening my

far from men! Oh, if in these moments any ideas of Paris, of the age, and of my little author vanity, disturbed my reveries, with what contempt I drove them instantly away, to give myself up entirely to the exquisite sentiments with which my soul was filled. Yet, in the midst of all this, I confess the nothingness of my chimeras would sometimes appear, and sudden me in a moment. If all my dreams had turned to reality, they would not have sufficed,-I should still have imagined, dreamed, desired. I discovered in myself an inexplicable void that nothing could have filled,-a certain yearning of my heart towards another kind of happiness, of which I had no definite idea, but of which

I felt the want. Ah, sir, this even was an enjoyment, for I was filled with a lively sense of what it was, and with a delightful sadness of which I should not have wished to be deprived.

From the surface of the earth I soon raised my thoughts to all the beings of Nature, to the universal system of things, to the incomprehensible Being who enters into all. Then, as my mind was lost in this immensity, I did not think, I did not reason, I did not philosophize. I felt, with a kind of voluptuousness, as if bowed down by the weight of this universe; I gave myself up with rapture to this confusion of grand ideas. I delighted in imagination to lose myself in space; my heart, confined within the limits of the mortal, found not room: I was stifled in the universe; I would have sprung into the infinite. I think that, could I have unveiled all the mysteries of Nature, my sensations would have been less delicious than was this bewildering ecstasy, to which my mind abandoned itself without control, and which, in the excitement of my transports, made me sometimes exclaim, "Oh, Great Being! oh, Great Being!" with out being able to say or think more. Thus glided on in a continued rapture the most charming days that ever human creature passed; and when the setting sun made me think of retiring, astonished at the flight of time, I thought I had not taken sufficient advantage of my day; I fancied I might have enjoyed it more; and, to regain the lost time, I said-I will come back to-morrow.

I returned slowly home, my head a little fatigued, but my heart content. I reposed agreeably on my return, abandoning myself to the impression of objects, but without thinking, without imagining, without doing anything beyond feeling the calm and the happiness of my situation. I found the cloth laid upon the terrace: I supped with a good appetite, amidst my little household. No feeling of servitude or dependence disturbed the good will that united us all. My dog himself was my friend, not my slave. We had always the same wish; but he never obeyed me. My gaiety during the whole evening testified to my having been alone the whole day. I was very different when I had seen company. Then I was rarely contented with others, and never with myself. In the evening I was cross and taciturn. This remark was made by my housekeeper; and since she has told me so I have always found it true, when I watched myself. Lastly, after having again taken in the evening a few turns in my garden, or sung an air to my spinnet, I found in my bed repose of body and soul a hundred times sweeter than sleep itself.

These were the days that have made the true happiness of my life, a happiness without bitterness, without weariness, without regret, and to which I would willingly have limited my existence. Yes, sir, let such days as these fill up my eternity; I do not ask for others, nor imagine that I am much less happy in these exquisite contemplations than the heavenly spirits. But a suffering body deprives the mind of its liberty: henceforth I am not alone; I have a guest who importunes me; I must free myself of it to be myself. The trial that I have made of these sweet enjoyments serves only to make me with less alarm await the time when I shall taste them without interruption.

Letter to the President de Malesherbes, 1762.


born 1713, on leaving Cambridge obtained the living of Sutton, Yorkshire, and Jan. 16, 1740-41, a prebend in York Cathedral, and subsequently the living of Stillington, Yorkshire; curate of Coxwold, Yorkshire, 1760; resided chiefly in France, 1762-1767; died in London, 1768. He was the author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, 1759-1767, 9 vols. 12mo, and later editions; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, by Mr. Yorick. 1768, 2 vols. 12mo; Sermons collected, 1760-1769, 7 vols., and again, 1775, 6 vols. 12mo, 1777, 6 vols. 12mo,

etc. Several collections of his Letters were

published, 1775, 3 vols. 12mo, etc.; and collective editions of his Works appeared 1780, 10 vols. crown 8vo, etc.; see Bohn's Lowndes, 2509-2511. The edition before us bears date, Lond., H. G. Bohn, 1853, 8vo. His Tristram Shandy and the Sentimental Journey are distinguished for wit and indecency.

"His style is . . . at times the most rapid, the most happy, the most idiomatic, of any that is to be found. It is the pure essence of English conversational style. His works consist only of morceaux,-of brilliant passages. I wonder that Goldsmith, who ought to have known better, should call him a dull fellow.' His wit is poignant, though artificial; and his characters (though the ground work of some of them had been laid before) have yet invaluable original differences; and the spirit of the execution, the master-strokes constantly thrown into them, are not to be surpassed. It is sufficient to name them:-Yorick, Dr. Slop, Mr. Shandy, My Uncle Toby, Trim, Susanna, and the Widow Wadman."-HAZLITT: Lects, on the English Comic Writers, Lect. VI.: On the English Novelists

"Sterne may be recorded as at once one of the most affected, and one of the most simple of writers, -as one of the greatest plagiarists, and one of the most original geniuses, that England has produced."


"He fatigues me with his perpetual disquiet, and his uneasy appeals to my risible or sentimental

and candid disquisition in this matter.-You are a person free from as many narrow prejudices of education as most inen; and

faculties. He is always looking in my face, watching his effect, uncertain whether I think him an impostor or not; posture-making, coaxing, and imploring me. 'See what sensibility I have-own now that I am very clever-do cry now; you can't-if I may presume to penetrate farther into resist this."-THACKERAY: English Humourists of the Eighteenth Cent., Lect. VI.; and see his Lect, on Charity and Humour, his Roundabout Papers, Dec. 1862, crown 8vo, and Lond. Athen., 1862, ii. 739.


I would sooner undertake to explain the hardest problem in Geometry than pretend to account for it that a gentleman of my father's great good sense-knowing as the reader must have observed him, and curious too in philosophy,-wise also in political reasoning, and in polemical (as he will find) no way ignorant-could be capable of entertaining a notion in his head, so out of the common track, that I fear the reader, when I come to mention it to him, if he is of the least of a choleric temper, will immediately throw the book by; if mercurial, he will laugh most heartily at it;-and if he is of a grave and saturnine cast, he will, at first sight, absolutely condemn it as fanciful and extravagant; and that was in respect to the choice and imposition of Christian names, on which he thought a great deal more depended than what superficial minds were capable of conceiving.

His opinion in this matter was, That there was a strange kind of magic basis, which good or bad names, as he called them, irresistibly impressed upon our characters and conduct.


The hero of Cervantes argued not the point with more seriousness,— -nor had he inore faith or more to say-on the powers of Necromancy in dishonouring his deeds,on DULCENIA's name in shedding lustre upon them, than my father had on those of TRISMAGISTUS OR ARCHIMEDES, on the one hand, or of NYKY and SIMKIN on the other. How many CESARS and POMPEYS, he would say, by mere inspiration of the names have been rendered worthy of them! And how many, he would add, are there who might have done exceedingly well in the world had not their characters and spirits been totally depressed and NICODEMUS'D into nothing!

you-of a liberality of genius above bearing down an opinion merely because it wants friends. Your son!-your dear son-from whose sweet and open temper you have so much to expect, your BILLY, Sir,—would you for the world have called him JUDAS? Would you, my dear Sir, he would say, laying his hand upon your breast with the genteelest address,-and in that soft and irresistible piano of voice, which the nature of the argumentum ad hominem absolutely requires,-Would you, Sir, if a Jew of a godfather had proposed the name of your child, and offered you his purse along with it, would you have consented to such a desecration of him?—..

Your greatness of mind in this action, which I admire, with that generous contempt of money which you show me in the whole transaction, is really noble; -and what renders it more so is the principle of it;

the workings of a parent's love upon the truth and conviction of this very hypothesis, namely, that was your son called JUDAS,the sordid and treacherous idea so inseparable from the name would have accompanied him through life like his shadow, and, in the end, made a miser and a rascal of him, in spite, Sir, of your example.

Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,
Ch. xix.


born about 1715 to 1719, died 1773, was the editor of The Adventurer (1752–1754), and author of 70 or 72 of its 140 numbers; published some Tales.-Edgar and Emmeline, and Almoran and Hamet,-1761: edited Swift's Works and Letters, with his Life (see Bohn's Lowndes, 2557); was author of Zimri, and other plays, of a translation of Telemachus, and of papers in The Gentleman's Magazine; and in 1773 (3 vols. 4to) gave to the world an Account of the Voyages of Byron, Wallis, Cartaret, and Cook, by which he gained £6000.

I see plainly, Sir, by your looks (or as the case happened), my father would say,-that you do not heartily subscribe to this opinion "His imagination was fertile and brilliant, his of mine,-which to those, he would add, diction, pure, elegant, and unaffected. . . His who have not carefully sifted it to the bot- manners were polished and affable, and his convertom,-I own has an air more of fancy than sation has been described as uncommonly fascinatof solid reasoning in it;-and yet, my dear ing."-DR. DRAKE: Literary Life of Dr. HawkesSir, if I may presume to know your char-worth: Dr. Drake's Essays, vol. v., q. v. acter, I am morally assured I should hazard little in stating a case to you-not as a party in the dispute, but as a judge, and trusting my appeal upon it to your own good sense


No species of writing affords so general entertainment as the relation of events; but

« EelmineJätka »