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CHARACTER OF WILLIAM III.
WILLIAM III. was in his person of the middle stature, a thin body, and delicate constitution, subject to an asthma and continual cough from his infancy. He had an aquiline nose, sparkling eyes, a large forehead, and grave solemn aspect. He was very sparing of speech; his conversation was dry, and his manner disgusting, except in battle, when his deportment was free, spirited, and animating. In courage, fortitude, and equanimity, he rivalled the most eminent warriors of antiquity; and his natural sagacity made amends for the defects of his education, which had not been properly superintended. He was religious, temperate, generally just and sincere, a stranger to violent transports of passion, and might have passed for one of the best princes of the age in which he lived, had he never ascended the throne of Great Britain. But the distinguishing criterion of his character was ambition; to this he sacrificed the punctilios of honour and decorum, in deposing his own father-in-law and uncle; and this he gratified at the expense of the nation that raised him to sovereign authority. He aspired to the honour of acting as umpire in all the contests of Europe; and the second object of his attention was, the prosperity of that country to which he owed his birth and extraction. Whether he really thought the interests of the continent and Great Britain were inseparable, or sought only to drag England into the confederacy as a convenient ally; certain it is, he involved these kingdoms in foreign connections, which, in all probability, will be productive of their ruin. In order to establish this favourite
point, he scrupled not to employ all the engines of corruption, by which means the morals of the nation were totally debauched. He procured a parliamentary sanction for a standing army, which now seems to be interwoven in the constitution. He introduced the pernicious practice of borrowing upon remote funds; an expedient that necessarily hatched a brood of usurers, brokers, and stock-jobbers, to prey upon the vitals of their country. He entailed upon the nation a growing debt, and a system of politics big with misery, despair, and destruction. To sum up his character in a few words, William was a fatalist in religion, indefatigable in war, enterprising in politics, dead to all the warm and generous emotions of the human heart, a cold relation, an indifferent husband, a disagreeable man, an ungracious prince, and an impèrious sovereign. Smollett.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE REVOLUTION OF 1688. FEW men at that time looked forward enough, to foresee the necessary consequences of the new constitution, of the revenue that was soon afterwards formed, or of the method of funding that immediately took place; which, absurd as they are, have continued ever since, till it is become scarce possible to alter them. Few people, I say, foresaw how the creation of funds, and the multiplication of taxes, would increase yearly the power of the crown, and bring our liberties, by a natural and necessary progression, into more real, though less apparent danger, than they were in before the Revolution. The excessive ill hus
bandry practised from the very beginning of king William's reign, and which laid the foundations of all we feel and all we fear, was not the effect of ignorance, mistake, or what we call chance, but of design and scheme in those who had the sway at that time. I am not so uncharitable, however, as to believe, that they intended to bring upon their country all the mischiefs that we, who came after them, experience and apprehend. No; they saw the measures they took singly, and unrelatively alone to some immediate object. The notion of attaching men to the new government, by tempting them to embark their fortunes on the same bottom, was a reason of state to some: the notion of creating a new, that is, a monied interest, in opposition to the landed interest, or as a balance to it, and of acquiring a superior influence in the city of London, at least, by establishment of great corporations, was a reason of party to others: and I make no doubt that the opportunity of amassing immense estates by the managements of funds, by trafficking in paper, and by all the arts of jobbing, was a reason of private interest to those who supported and improved this scheme of iniquity, if not to those who devised it. They looked no further. Nay; we, who came after them, and have long tasted the bitter fruits of the corruption they planted, were far from taking such an alarm at our distress, and our danger, as they deserved, till the most remote and fatal effect of causes, laid by the last generation, was very near becoming an object of experience in this. Bolingbroke.
CHARACTER OF ANNE.
THUS died Anne Stuart, queen of Great Britain, and one of the best and greatest monarchs that ever filled that throne. What was most remarkable, was a clear harmonious voice, always admired in her graceful delivery of her speeches to parliament, insomuch, that it used to be a common saying in the mouth of every one, that her very speech was music.' Good-nature, the true characteristic of the Stuarts, predominated in her temper, which was a compound of benevolence, generosity, indolence, and timidity, but not without a due sensibility of any slight which she thought was offered to her person or her dignity; to these all her actions, both as a monarch and as a woman, may be ascribed; these were the sources both of her virtues and her failings; her greatest blessing upon earth was that entire union of affections and inclinations between her and her royal consort; which made them a perfect pattern of conjugal love. She was a fond and tender mother, an easy and indulgent mistress, and a most gracious sovereign; but she had more than once reason to repent her giving up her heart, and trusting her secrets without reserve to her favourites. She retained to the last the principle of that true religion which she had imbibed early, being devout without affectation, and charitable without ostentation. She had a great reverence for clergymen eminent for learning and good lives, and was particularly beneficent to the poorer sort of them, of which she left an evidence which bears her name, and will perpetuate both that and her bounty to all succeeding generations. Chamberlaine.
CHARACTER OF LORD TOWNSHEND.
LORD Townshend, by very long experience and unwearied application, was certainly an able man of business, which was his only passion. His parts were neither above nor below it; they were rather slow, a defect of the safer side. He required time to form his opinion; but when formed, he adhered to it with invincible firmness, not to say obstinacy, whether right or wrong, and was impatient of contradiction.
He was a most ungraceful and confused speaker in the house of lords, inelegant in his language, perplexed in his arguments, but always near the stress of the question.
His manners were coarse, rustic, and seemingly brutal; but his nature was by no means so; for he was a kind husband to both his wives, a most indulgent father to all his children, and a benevolent master to his servants; sure tests of real goodnature, for no man can long together simulate or dissimulate at home.
He was a warm friend, and a warm enemy; defects, if defects they are, inseparable in human nature, and often accompanying the most generous minds.
Never minister had cleaner hands than he had. Mere domestic economy was his only care as to money; for he did not add one acre to his estate, and left his younger children very moderately provided for, though he had been in considerable and lucrative employments near thirty years.
As he only loved power for the sake of power, in order to preserve it, he was obliged to have a most