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ernment; or if under the pressure of so many and great affairs, and amid the attention which he had been obliged to give to them he had either neglected or injured any of his subjects, he now implored their forgiveness.
That for his part, he should ever retain a grateful sense of their fidelity and attachment, and would carry the remembrance of it along with him to the place of his retreat, as his sweetest consolation, as well as the best reward for all his services; and in his last prayers to Almighty God would pour forth his ardent wishes for their welfare.
Then turning toward Philip, who fell on his knees and kissed his father's hand, “If,” said he, “I had left you by my death this rich inheritance to which I had made such large additions, some regard would have been justly due to my memory on that account; but now, when I voluntarily resign to you what I might have still retained, I may well expect the warmest expression of thanks on your part.
“With these, however, I dispense, and shall consider your concern for the welfare of your subjects and your love of them, as the best and most acceptable testimony of your gratitude to me. It is in your power, by a wise and virtuous administration, to justify the extraordinary proof which I give
this day of my paternal affection, and to demonstrate that you are worthy of the confidence which I repose in you.
“Preserve an inviolable regard for religion ; maintain the Catholic faith in its purity; let the laws of your country be sacred in your eyes ; encroach not on the rights and privileges of your people; and if the time shall ever come when you shall wish to enjoy the tranquillity of private life, may you have a son endowed with such qualities that you can resign your sceptre to him with as much satisfaction as I give up mine to you.'
As soon as Charles had finished this long address to his subjects, and to their new sovereign, he sunk into the chair exhausted and ready to faint with the fatigue of so extraordinary an effort. During his discourse, the whole audience melted into tears; some from admiration of his magnanimity; others softened by the expressions of
; tenderness toward his son, and of love to his people; and all were affected with the deepest sorrow at losing a sovereign who had distinguished the Netherlands, his native country, with particular marks of his regard and attachment.
A few weeks after the resignation of the Netherlands, Charles, in an assembly no less splendid, and with a ceremonial equally pompous, resigned to his son the crowns of Spain, with all the territories depending on them, both in the old and in the new world.
Of all these vast possessions, he reserved nothing for himself but an annual pension of a hundred thousand crowns, to defray the charges of his family and to afford him a small sum for acts of beneficence and charity.
Nothing now remained to detain him from that retreat for which he languished. Everything having been prepared some time for his voyage, he set out for Zuitberg in Zealand, where the fleet had orders to rendezvous.
In his way thither, he passed through Ghent; and after stopping there a few days, to indulge that tender and pleasing melancholy, which arises in the mind of every man in the decline of life, on visiting the place of his nativity, and viewing the scenes and objects familiar to him in his early youth, he pursued his journey, accompanied by his son Philip, his daughter the archduchess, his sisters the dowager queens of France and Hungary, Maximilian his son-in-law, and a numerous retinue of the Flemish nobility.
Before he went on board, he dismissed them, with marks of his attention or regard ; and taking leave of Philip with all the tenderness of a father who embraced his son for the last time, he
set sail under convoy of a large fleet of Spanish, Flemish, and English ships.
His voyage was prosperous, and agreeable ; and he arrived at Laredo in Biscay, on the eleventh day after he left Zealand. As soon as he landed, he fell prostrate on the ground; and considering
. himself now as dead to the world, he kissed the earth, and said, “ Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked I now return to thee, thou common mother of mankind."
From Laredo he proceeded to Valladolid. There he took a last and tender leave of his two sisters; whom he would not permit to accompany him to his solitude, though they entreated it with tears ; not only that they might have the consolation of contributing, by their attendance and care, to mitigate or to soothe his sufferings, but that they might reap instruction and benefit, by joining with him in those pious exercises to which he had consecrated the remainder of his days.
From Valladolid, he continued his journey to Plazencia in Estremadura. He had passed through that city a great many years before; and having been struck at that time with the delightful situation of the monastery of St. Justus, belonging to the order of St. Jerome, not many miles distant from that place, he had then observed to some of his attendants, that this was a spot to which Diocletian might have retired with pleasure.
The impression had remained so strong on his mind, that he pitched upon it as the place of his retreat. It was seated in a vale of no great extent, watered by a small brook, and surrounded by rising grounds, covered with lofty trees. From the nature of the soil, as well as the temperature of the climate, it was esteemed the most healthful and delicious situation in Spain.
Some months before his resignation, he had sent an architect thither, to add a new apartment to the monastery, for his accommodation ; but he gave strict orders that the style of the building should be such as suited his present station, rather than his former dignity. It consisted only of six rooms, four of them in the form of friars' cells, with naked walls; the other two, each twenty feet square, were hung with brown cloth, and furnished in the most simple manner.
They were on a level with the ground, with a door on one side into a garden, of which Charles himself had given the plan, and had filled it with various plants, which he purposed to cultivate with his own hands. On the other side, they communicated with the chapel of the monastery, in which he was to perform his devotions.