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him to fix his affections on his ministers and companions. Jealousies and rivalry ensued, which ended in the celebrated commission of government, and the ruin,perhaps originally undeserved, of the royal favourites. When the king had recovered the exercise of his authority, he reigned in comparative tranquillity for a long period; but his conduct in the twenty-first and twenty-second years of his reign betrayed such a thirst for revenge, and habit of dissimulation, such despotic notions of government, and so fixed a purpose to rule without control, that no reader can be surprised at the catastrophe which followed. We may indeed abhor the wiles by which he was ensnared; may sympathize with him in his prison; and may condemn the policy which afterwards bereaved him of life: but at the same time we must acknowledge, that he deserved to be abandoned by the people, on whose liberties he had trampled; and to forfeit that authority which he sought to exalt above the laws and constitution of his country. Lingard.
The splendour which conquest threw round the person of Henry during his life still adheres to his memory four centuries after his death. But he was not only a warrior; he was also a statesman. The praise of constitutional courage he may share with many of his predecessors: he surpassed most of them in the skill with which he fomented the dissensions among his antagonists, and improved to the best advantage the unexpected events which chequered the busyscene of French politics. Success, however, gave a tinge of arrogance to his character. He did not sufficiently respect the prejudices, or spare the feelings of his new subjects: the pomp and superiority, which he displayed, mortified their vanity: and the deference which he exacted from the proudest of the French nobility was reluctantly yielded by men, who, under the weak reign of Charles, had been accustomed to trample on the authority of their sovereign. Continually engaged in war, he had little leisure to discharge the duties of a legislator: but he has been commended for his care to enforce the equal administration of justice; and was beloved by the lower classes, both in France and England, for the protection which he afforded them against the oppression of their superiors. To those who served him, if he were a stern, he was also a bountiful master: and though he punished severely, he rewarded with munificence. By military men he was beloved and adored: and the officers of the army in France resolved to prove the sincerity of that attachment which they professed for him while living, by the extraordinary pomp with which they paid the last duties to his remains. Lingard.
On that day expired the reign of Henry VI., a prince whose personal character commanded the respect of his very enemies, and whose misfortunes still claim the sympathy of the reader. He was virtuous and religious; humane, forgiving, and benevolent; but nature had denied him that health of body and fortitude of mind which could have enabled him to struggle through the peculiar difficulties of his situation. It would be unjust to attribute those difficulties to his misconduct: they arose from causes over which he had no control, the original defect in his descent, the duration of his minority, the dissensions of his uncles, and the frequent recurrence of corporal debility, generally accompanied with the privation of reason. Lingard.
Edward is said to have been the most accomplished, and, till he grew too unwieldy, the most handsome man of the age. The love of pleasure was his ruling passion. Few princes have been more magnificent in their dress, or more licentious in their amours: few have indulged more freely in the luxuries of the table. But such pursuits often interfered with his duties, and at last incapacitated him for active exertion. Even in youth, while he was fighting for the throne, he was always the last to join his adherents: and in manhood, when he was firmly seated on it, he entirely abandoned the charge of military affairs to his brother, the Duke of Gloucester. To the chief supporters of the opposite party he was cruel and unforgiving: the blood which he shed intimidated his friends no less than his foes: and both lords and commons during his reign, instead of contending, like their predecessors, for the establishment of rights, and the abolition of grievances, made it their principal study to gratify the royal pleasure. He was as suspicious as he was cruel. Every officer of government, every steward on his manors and farms, was employed as a spy on the conduct of all around him: they regularly made to the king reports of the state of the neighbourhood; and such was the fidelity of his memory, that it was difficult to mention any individual of any consequence, even in the most distant counties, with whose character, history, and influence he was not accurately acquainted. Hence every project of opposition to his government was suppressed almost as soon as it was formed; and Edward might have promised himself a long and prosperous reign, had not continual indulgence enervated his constitution, and sown the seeds of that malady which consigned him to the grave in the forty-first year of his age. He was buried with the usual pomp in the new chapel at Windsor. Lingard.
To Henry by his contemporaries was allotted the praise of political wisdom. He seems, indeed, to have been formed by nature for the circumstances in which accident had placed him. With a mind dark and mistrustful, tenacious of its own secrets, and adroit in divining the secrets of others, capable of employing the most unprincipled agents, and of descending to the meanest
artifices, he was able to unravel the plots, to detect the impostures, and to defeat the projects of all his opponents. But there was nothing open in his friendship, or generous in his enmity. His suspicions kept him always on his guard: he watched with jealousy the conduct of his very ministers; and never unbosomed himself with freedom even to his consort or his mother. It was his delight to throw an air of mystery over the most ordinary transactions: nor would pride or policy allow him, even when it appeared essential to his interests, to explain away the doubts, or satisfy the curiosity of his subjects. The consequence was, that no one knew what to believe, or what to expect. "All things," says Sir Thomas More, " were so covertly demeaned, one thing pretended and another meant, that there was nothing so plain and openly proved, but that yet, for the common custom of close and covert dealing, men had it ever inwardly suspect, as many well counterfeited jewels make the true mistrusted."
He appears to have been the first of our kings since the accession of Henry III. who confined his expenses within the limits of his income. But the civil wars had swept away those crowds of annuitants and creditors that formerly used to besiege the doors of the Exchequer: and the revenue of the crown came to him free from incumbrances, and augmented by forfeitures. Hence he was enabled to reign without the assistance of parliament: and, if he occasionally summoned the two houses, it was only when a decent pretext for demanding a supply afforded