Imagens das páginas

None of her women were suffered to come near her dead body, which was carried into a room ad, joining to the place of execution, where it lay for some days, covered with a coarse cloth torn from a billiard table. The block, the scaffold, the aprons of the executioners, and every thing stained with her blood, were reduced to ashes. Not long after, Elizabeth appointed her body to be buried in the cathedral of Peterborough with royal magnificence. But this vulgar artifice was employed in vain; the pageantry of a pompous funeral did not efface the memory of those injuries which laid Mary in her grave. James, soon after his accession to the English throne, ordered her body to be removed to Westminster Abbey, and to be depo❤ sited among the monarchs of England.

Such was the tragical death of Mary Queen of Scots, after a life of forty-four years and two months, almost nineteen years of which she passed in captivity. The political parties which were formed in the kingdom during her reign have subsisted, under various denominations, ever since that time. The rancour with which they were at first animated, hath descended to succeeding ages, and their prejudices as well as their rage, have been perpetuated, and even augmented. Among historians, who were under the dominion of all those passions, and who have either ascribed to her every virtuous and amiable quality, or have imputed to her all the vices of which the human heart is susceptible, we search in vain for Mary's real character. She neither merited the exaggerated praises of the one, nor the undistinguishing censure of the other.

To all the charms of beauty, and the utmost elegance of external form, she added those accomplishments which render their impression irresistible: polite, affable, insinuating, sprightly, and capable of speaking and of writing with equal ease and dignity. Sudden, however, and violent in all her attachments; because her heart was warın and unsuspicious. Impatient of contradiction; because she had been accustomed from her infancy to be treated as a queen. No stranger, on some occasions, to dissimulation; which, in that perfidious court where she received her education, was reckoned among the necessary arts of government. Not insensible of flattery, or unconscious of that pleasure with which almost every woman beholds the influence of her own beauty, Formed with the qualities which we love, not with the talents that we admire, she was an agreeable woman, rather than an illustrious queen. The vivacity of her spirit not sufficiently tempered with sound judgment, and the warmth of her heart, which was not at all times under the restraint of discretion, betrayed her both into errours and into crimes. To say that she was always unfortunate, will not account for that long and almost uninterrupted succession of calamities which befel her; we must likewise add, that she was often imprudent. Her passion for Darnly was rash, youthful, and excessive; and though the sudden transition to the opposite extreme, was the natural effect of her ill-requited love, and of his ingratitude, insolence, and brutality; yet neither these, nor Bothwell's artful address and important services, can justify her attachment to that nobleman. 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. Humanity will draw a veil over this part of her character which it cannot approve, and may, perhaps, prompt some to impute some of her actions to her situation, more than to her dispositions; and to lament the unhappiness of the former, rather than 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 with less indignation, and approve of our tears, as if they were shed for a person who had attained 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 contemporary ́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 colours. Her eyes were a dark grey; her complexion was exquisitely fine; and her hands and arms remarkably delicate, both as to shape and colour. 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 which she was imprisoned, brought on a rheumatism, which often deprived 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. Robertson.


THE principal thing which is made to serve for matter for king James's panegyric, is the constant peace he caused his subjects to enjoy. This cannot be said to be the effect of chance, since it clearly appears, it was his sole, or at least his chief aim, in the whole course of his administration. Nothing, say his friends, is more worthy a great king than such a design. But the same design loses all its merit, if the prince discovers by his conduct, that he preserves peace only out of fear, carelessness, excessive love of ease and repose; and king James's whole behaviour shows he acted from these motives, though he coloured it with the pretence of his affection for the people.

His liberality, which some praise him for, is exclaimed against by others as prodigality. These last pretend he gave without measure and discretion, without any regard to bis own wants, or the merit of those whom he heaped his favours upon.

As to his manners, writers are no less divided: some will have him to be looked on as a very wise and virtuous prince; whilst others speak of him as a prince of a dissolute life, given to drinking, and

a great swearer in common conversation, espe cially when in a passion. He is likewise taxed with dissolving the earl of Essex's marriage, the pardoning the earl and countess of Somerset, the death of sir Walter Raleigh, and the confidence wherewith in full parliament he called God to witness, that he never had any thoughts of giving the papists a toleration, which he could not affirm but by means of some mental reservation.

But whatever may be said for or against James's person, it is certain England never flourished less than in his reign; the English saw themselves exposed to the insults and jests of other nations, and all the world in general threw the blame on the king. Rapin.


SUCH was the unworthy and unexampled fate of Charles I. king of England, who fell a sacrifice to the most atrocious insolence of treason, in the forty-ninth year of his age, and in the twentyfourth of his reign. He was a prince of a middling stature, robust, and well-proportioned. His hair was of a dark colour, his forehead high, his complexion pale, his visage long, and his aspect melancholy. He excelled in riding, and other manly exercises; he inherited a good understanding from nature, and had cultivated it with great assiduity. His perception was clear and acute, his judgment solid and decisive; he possessed a refined taste for the liberal arts, and was a munificent patron to those who excelled in painting, sculpture, music


« AnteriorContinuar »