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stain of illegitimacy rested upon his birth, he would have filled the Scottish throne with as much honour as any of the Stuart race. But history, while she acknowledges his high talents, and much that was princely, nay, royal, in his conduct, cannot forget that ambition led him further than honour or loyalty warranted. Brave amongst the bravest, fair in presence and in favour, skilful to manage the most intricate affairs, to attach to himself those who were doubtful, to stun and overwhelm, by the suddenness and intrepidity of his enterprises, those who were resolute in resistance, he attained, and as to personal merit he certainly deserved, the highest place in the kingdom. But he abused, under the influence of strong temptation, the opportunities which his sister Mary's misfortunes and imprudence threw in his way; he supplanted his sovereign and benefactress in her power, and his history affords us one of those mixed characters, in which principle was so often sacrificed to policy, that we must condemn the statesman while we pity and regret the individual. Many events in his life countenance the charge that he himself aimed at the crown; and it is too true that he countenanced the fatal expedient of establishing an English, that is, a foreign and a hostile interest, in the councils of Scotland. But his death may be received as an atonement for his offences, and may serve to show how much more safe is the person of a real patriot than that of the mere head of a faction, who is accounted answerable for the offences of his meanest attendants. Sir Walter Scott.
THE EARL OF MORTON.
The earl of Morton, the last of the Scottish regents, was low in stature, had an engaging countenance, and possessed a form and habit vigorous and active. His natural capacity and endowments were uncommon, and his experience in the world and business was most ample. He had known the greatest changes of fortune; the evils of poverty and exile, the advantages of great wealth and exorbitant power, the blandishments of flattery, and the wretchedness of the most abject humiliation. He engaged himself in the pursuits of ambition with a pertinacity and ardour that could not be repressed nor fatigued; and he advanced in them with no fear of shame, and no desire of glory. He was rather insolent than haughty, rather cunning than wise, and more artificial than politic. In a period when every statesman was a soldier, he had talents for war as well as peace; but his courage was more undaunted in the cabinet than in the field. He was subtle, intriguing, and treacherous. He was stained with rebellion and murder; and from the incurable malignity of his nature, he was inclined to wanton in mischief, and to take a delight in the enormities of wickedness. He was close, cruel, covetous, and vindictive. He gratified without scruple the madness of his passions, and the whimseys of his caprice. His rapacity was heightened and deformed by insults. He was forward to encounter every species of execration and odium. The contempt of integrity, vOL. II. . X
which marked and polluted his public conduct, was also characteristic of his private life, and in both he disdained alike the censure and disapprobation of his compatriots. But while the vices of the man were not so pernicious as the crimes of the politician, they were accompanied with cultivation and lustre. His mode of living, though voluptuous, was tasteful. His palaces and gardens were splendid beyond the fashion of his age. His luxury had the charm of refinement; and while an ardent propensity carried him to the sex, his amours were delicate and elegant. He relieved the agitations and the cares of ambition with the smiles of beauty and the solacements of love. But while his passion for pleasure appears with some advantage amidst the deformities of his character, it was little suited to the complexion of his times. The austerity and gloom which the preachers had excited in the body of the people, and which stood in the place of religion, were hostile to gallantry in the greatest degree. His sensualities, though the most venal of all his errors, roused up against him the most general and the most indignant resentment. Odious with private corruptions, and execrable with public crimes, he exhausted the patience of an age accustomed to the most enormous profligacy. The jealousy of his enemies and the justice of his nation called him to expiate, upon the scaffold, the murder of his sovereign; and he ascended it without the consolation of one virtue. He had yet reconciled himself to heaven from partialities that are natural to man: and he relied with an assured hope upon entering into a happy immortality in another existence. His bursts of repentance and remorse were humiliating and instructive ; and terminated with propriety the tenour of a life which had never experienced the satisfaction and the transports of patriotism and probity.
The zeal which he had displayed in overturning popery, and in resisting the despotic projects of Mary of Lorraine, have distinguished and immortalized his name; and, upon the establishment of the Reformation, he continued to act with fortitude according to his principles. His piety was ardent, and his activity indefatigable; his integrity was superior to corruption; and his courage could not be shaken by dangers or death. In literature and learning his proficiency was slender and moderate; and to philosophy he was altogether a stranger. His heart was open, his judgment greater than his penetration, his temper severe, his behaviour rustic. The fears and contempt he entertained of popery were extravagant; and while he propagated the reformed doctrines he fancied he was advancing the purposes of Heaven. From his conviction that the ends he had in view were the noblest that can actuate a human creature, he was induced to imagine that he had a title to prosecute them by all the methods within his power. His motives of conduct were disinterested and upright; but the strain of his actions and life deserves not commendation. He was ever earnest to promote the glory of God; but he perceived not that this sublime maxim, in its unlimited exercise, consists not with the weakness and imperfections of man. It was pleaded by the murderers of Cardinal Beaton, and he scrupled not to consider it as a sufficient vindication of them. It was appealed to by Charles IX. as his apology for the massacre of Paris; and it was urged by Ravaillac as his justifying motive for the assassination of Henry IV. The most enormous crimes have been promoted by it, and it stimulated this reformer to cruel devastations and outrages. Charity, moderation, the love of peace, patience and humanity, were not in the number of his virtues. Papists as well as popery were the objects of his detestation; and though he had risen to eminence by exclaiming against the persecutions of priests, he was himself a persecutor. His suspicions that the queen was determined to reestablish the popish religion were rooted and uniform; and upon the most frivolous pretences he was strenuous to break that chain of cordiality which ought to bind together the prince and the people. He inveighed against her government, and insulted her person with virulence and indecency. It flattered his pride to violate the duties of a subject, and to scatter sedition. He affected to direct the politicians of his age; and the ascendant he maintained over the people drew to him their respect and obeisance. He delivered his sentiments to them with the most unbounded freedom; and he sought not to restrain or to