« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
tianity; a fourth carried on the controversy against the Reformers; a portion were at liberty to cultivate polite literature; while the greater part continued to be employed either in carrying on the education of Catholic Europe, or in the government of their society, and in ascertaining the ability and disposition of the junior members, so that well-qualified men might be selected for the extraordinary variety of offices in their immense commonwealth. The most famous Constitutionalists, the most skilful casuists, the ablest schoolmasters, the most celebrated professors, the best teachers of the humblest mechanical arts, the missionaries who could most bravely encounter martyrdom, or who with the most patient skill could infuse the rudiments of religion into the minds of ignorant tribes or prejudiced nations, were the growth of their fertile schools.
SIR JAs. MACKINTOSH, Review of the Causes of Revolution. 1688.
RESIGNATION OF CHARLES V.
This great Emperor, in the plenitude of his power, and in possession of all the honors which can flatter the heart of man, took the extraordinary resolution to resign his kingdoms; and to withdraw entirely from any concern in business or the affairs of this world, in order that he might spend the remainder of his days in retirement and solitude.
Though it requires neither deep reflection, nor extraordinary discernment, to discover that the state of royalty is not exempt from cares and disappointments; though most of those who are exalted to a throne, find solicitude, and satiety, and disgust, to be their perpetual attendants, in that envied pre-eminence; yet, to descend voluntarily from the supreme to a subordinate station, and to relinquish the possession of power in order to attain the enjoyment of happiness, seems to be an effort too great for the human mind.
Several instances, indeed, occur in history, of monarchs who have quitted a throne, and have ended their days in retirement. But they were either weak princes, who took this resolution rashly, and repented of it as soon as it was taken; or unfortunate princes, from whose hands some strong rival had wrested their sceptre, and compelled them to descend with reluctance into a private station.
Diocletian is, perhaps, the only prince capable of holding the reins of government, who ever resigned them from deliberate choice; and who continued, during many years, to enjoy the tranquillity of retirement, without fetching one penitent sigh, or casting back one look of desire toward the power or dignity which he had abandoned.
No wonder, then, that Charles' resignation should fill all Europe with astonishment, and give rise, both among his contemporaries and among the historians of that period, to various conjectures concerning the motives which determined a prince, whose ruling passion had been uniformly the love of power, at the age of fifty-six, when objects of ambition operate with full force on the mind, and are pursued with the greatest ardor, to take a resolution so singular and unexpected.
The Emperor, in pursuance of his determination, having assembled the States of the Low Countries at Brussels, seated himself, for the last time, in the chair of state; on one side of which was placed his son, and on the other his sister, the queen of Hungary, regent of the Netherlands, with a splendid retinue of the grandees of Spain, and princes of the empire standing behind him.
The president of the council of Flanders, by his command, explained in a few words his intention in calling this extraordinary meeting of the state. He then read the instrument of resignation by which Charles surrendered to his son Philip all his territories, jurisdiction, and authority in the Low Countries; absolving his subjects there from their oath of allegiance to him, which he required them to transfer to Philip, his lawful heir ; and to serve him with the same loyalty and zeal that they had manifested during so long a course of years, in support of his government.
Charles then rose from his seat, and leaning on the shoulder of the Prince of Orange, because he was unable to stand without support, he addressed himself to the audience; and, from a paper which he held in his hand, in order to assist his memory,
, he recounted with dignity, but without ostentation, all the great things which he had undertaken and performed since the commencement of his administration.
He observed, that from the seventeenth year of his age, he had dedicated all his thoughts and at
, tention to public objects, reserving no portion of his time for the indulgence of his ease, and very little for the enjoyment of private pleasures; that either in a pacific or hostile manner, he had visited Germany nine times, Spain six times, France four times, Italy seven times, and the Low Countries ten times, England twice, Africa as often, and had made eleven voyages by sea.
That while his health permitted him to discharge his duty, and the vigor of his constitution was equal in any degree to the arduous office of governing dominions so extensive, he had never shunned labor nor repined under fatigue; that now when his health was broken, and his vigor exhausted by the rage of an incurable distemper his growing infirmities admonished him to retire.
Nor was he so fond of reigning, as to retain the sceptre in an impotent hand which was no longer able to protect his subjects, or to render them happy; that instead of a sovereign worn out with diseases, and scarcely half alive, he gave them one in the prime of life, accustomed already to govern, and who added to the vigor of youth all the attention and sagacity of maturer years.
That if during the course of a long administration, he had committed any material error in gov