Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

am, says Rhadamanthus, be pleased to file off to the left, and make room for the venerable matron that stands behind you. Old gertlewoman, says he, I think you are fourscore: You have heard the question-What have you been doing so long in the world ? Ah, sir, says she, i have been doing what i should not have done ; but I had made a firm resolution to have changed my life, if I had not been snatched off by an untimely end. Madam, says he, you will please to follow your leader; And spying another of the same age, interrogated her in the same form. To which the matron replied, I have been the wife of a husband who was as dear to me in his old age as in his youth, I have been a mother, and very happy iu nay children, whom I endeavored to bring up in every thing that is good. My eldest son is blest by the poor, and beloved by cvery one that knows him. I lived within my own family, and lefi it much more wealthy than i found it. Rhadamanthus, who knew the value of the old lady, smiled upon her in such a manner, that the keeper of Elysium, who knew his of. fice, reached out his hand to her. He no sooner touched her but her wrinkles vanished, her eyes sparkled, her cheeks glowed with blushes, and she appeared in full bloom and beauty. A young woman, observing that this officer, who conducted the happy to Elysium, was so great a beautifier, longed to be in his hands ; so that pressing through the crowd, she was the next that appeared at the bar: And being asked what she had been doing the five and twenty years that she had passed in the world ? I have endcavored, says she, ever since I came to years of discretion, to make myself lovely, and gain admirers. in order to it, 'passed my time in bot. tling up Maydew, inventing wiitewashes, mixing colors, cutting out patches, consulting my glass, suiving my complexion.- Rhadamanthus without hearing her out, gave i he sign to take her cff. Upon the approach of the keeper of Erebus, her color farled, her face was puckered up with wrinkles, and her whole person lost in deformily.

I was then surprised with a distant sound of a whole 'troop of females, that came forward, laughing, singing

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

and dancing. I was very desirous to know the reception they would meet with, and, withal, was very apprehensive that Rhadamanthue would spoil their mirth; but at their nearer approach, the noise grew so very great that it awakened me.

I lay some time, reflecting in myself on the oddness of this dream ; and could not forbear asking my own heart, what I was doing? | ansvered myself, was writing Guardians. If my readers make as good a use of this work as I design they shonld, I hope it will never be imputed to me, as a work that is vain and unprofitable.

I shall conclude this paper with recommending to them the same short selfexamination. If every one of them frequently lays his hand upon his heart, and considers what he is doing, it will check him in all the idle, or what is worse, the vicious moments of his lifc; lift up his mind when it is running on in a series of indifferent actions, and encourage him when he is engaged in those which are virtuous and laudable. In a word, it will very much alleviate that guilt, which the best of men have reason to acknowledge in their daily confessions of " leaving undone those things which they ought to have done, and of doing those things which they ought not to Lave done."

XVI.-Character of Francis I.-ROBERTSON. FRANCIS died at Rambouillet, on the last day of March in the fifty third year of his age, and the thirtythird of his reign. During twenty eight years of that time an avowed rivalship subsisted between him and the

emperor; which involved, not only their own donin. ions, but the greater part of Europe, in wars, prosecut, ed with the more violent animosity, and drawn out to' a greater length than had been known in any former period. Many circumstances contributed to boih. Their animosity was founded in opposition of interest, heightened by personal emulation, and exasperated, not only by mutual injuries, but by reciprocal insults. At the same time, whatever advantage one seemed to possess 10 wards gaining the ascendant, was wonderfully balanced by some favorable circumstance pecuilar to the other. The emperor's dominions were of great extent ; the French king's lay more compact ; Francis governed his kingdom with absolute power ; that of Charles was limited, but he supplied the want of authority by address : The troops of the former were more impetuous and en. terprising ; those of the latter better disciplined and more patient of fatigue.

The talents and abilities of the two monarchs were as different as the advantages which they possessed, and contributed no less to prolong the contest between them. Francis took his resolutions suddenly; prosecuted them, at first with warmth ; and pushed them into execution with a most adventurous courage ; but, being destitute of the perseverance necessary to surmount difficulties he ofien abandoned his designs, or relaxed the vigor of pursvity from impatience, and sometimes froin levity. Charles deliberated long,and determined with coolnesse But having once fixed his plan, he adhered to it with inflexible obstinacy; and neither danger nor discouragement could turn him aside from the execution of it.

The success of their enterprises was as different as their characters,and was as uniformly influencedby them. Francis, by his impetuous activity, often disconcerted the emperor's best laid schemes ; Charles, by a more calm, but steady prosecution of his designs, checked the rapidity of his rival's career, and baffled or repulsed his most vigorous efforts. The former, at the opening of a war or a campaign, broke in upon his enemy with the violence of a torrent, and carried all before him ; the latter, waiting until he saw the force of his rival begin to abate, recovered, in the end, not only all that he had lost, but made new acquisitions. Few of the French monarch's attempts towards conquest, whatever promising aspect they might wear at first, were conducted to an happy issue; many of the emperor's enterprises, even after they appeared desperate and impracticable, termi. nated in the most prosperous manner,

The degree, however, of their comparative merit and reputation, has not been fixed, either by strict scrutiny into their abilities for government, or by an impartial consideration of the greatnessand success of their under.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

takings; and Francis is one of those monarchs, who occupy a higher rank in the temple of fame, then either their talents or performances entitle them to hold. This pre-eminence he owed to many different circum. stances. The superiority which Charles acquired by the victory of Pavia, and which, from that period, he preserved through the remainder of his reign, was so manifest, that Francis' struggle against his exhorbitant and growing dominion, was viewed by most of the other powers not only with that partiality which naturally arises from those who gallantly maintain an unequal contest but with the favor due to one who was resisting a common enemy, and endeavoring to set bounds to a monarch, equally formidable to them all. The characters of princes, too, especially among their cotemporaries, depend, not only upon their talents for government, but upon their qualities as men. Francis, notwithstanding the many errors conspicuous in his foreign policy and domestic administration, was nevertheless, humane, beneficent, generous. He possessd dignity without pride, affability free from meanness, and cour. tesy exempt from deceit. All who had access to know him,and no man of inerit was ever denied that privilege,. respected and loved him. Captivated with his personal qualities, his subjects forgot his defects as a monarch; and admiring him, as the most accomplished and amiable gentleman in his dominions, they hardly murmured at acts of maladministration; which in a prince of less engaging disposition, would have been deemed unpardonable.

This admiration, however, must have been temporary only, and would have died away with the courtiers who bestowed it ; the illusion arising from his private virtues must have ceased, and posterity would have judged of his public conduct with its usual impartiality : But an. other circunstance prevented this ; and his name hath been transmitted to posterity with increasing reputation. Science and the arts had, at that time, made little progress in France. They were just beginning to advance beyond the limits of Italy, where they had revived, and which had hitherto been their only seat. Francis

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

took them immediately under his protection, and vied with Leo himself, in the zeal and munificence; with which he encouraged them.

He invited learned mento his court, he conversed with them familiarly, he employed them in business, he raised them to offices of dignity, and bonored them with his confidence. That race of men, not more prone to complain when denied the respect to which they fancy themselves entitled,than apt to be pleased when treated with the distinction which they consider as their due, thought they could not exceed in gratitude to such a benefactor, and strained their invention, and employed all their ingenuity, in panegyric.

Succeeding authors, warmed with their descriptions of Francis' bounty, adopted their encomiums, and refed upon them. The appellation of Father of Lettereg bestowed upon Francis, had rendered his memory sacred among historians; and they seem to have regarded it as a sort of impiety, to uncover his infirmities, or to point out his defects. Thus Francis, notwithstanding his inferior abilities and want of success, hath more than equalled the fame of Charles. The virtues which he . possessed as a man, have entitled him to greater admi... ration and praise than have been bestowed upon the extensive genius, and fortunate arts, of a more capableg, but less amiable rival..

XVII.-The Supper and Grace STERNE. A SHOE coming loose from the forefoot of the thill. horse, at the beginning of the ascent of mount Taurira, the postillion dismounted, twisted the shoe-off and put it in his pocket: As the ascent was of five or six miles, and that horse our main dependence, I made a point of having the shoe fastened on again as well as we could ; but the postillion had thrown away the nails, and the hammer in :he chaise box being of no great use without them, i submitted to go on.

He had not mounted half a mile higher, when com. ing to a flinty piece of road, the poor devil lost a second shoe, and from off his other forefoot. I then got out of the-chaise in good earnest; and, seeing a house about

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »