« PreviousContinue »
and she appeared in full bloom and beauty. 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 endeavored, says. sh ever since I came to years of discretion to make myself lovely, and gain admirers. In order to do it, I passed my time in bottling up Maydew, inventing whitewashes, mixing colors, utting out patches, consulting my glass, suiting my complexion.-Rhadamanthus, without hearing her out, gave the sign to take her off. Upon the approach of the keeper of Erebus, her color faded, her face was puckered up with wrinkles, and her whole person lost in deformity.
I was then surprised with a distant sound of a whole troop of females, that came forward, laughing, singing and dancing. I was very desirous to know the reception they would meet with, and, withal, was very apprehensive that Rhadamanthus 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? I answered myself, that I was writing Guardians. If my readers make as good a use of this work as I design they should, 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 self-examination. 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 life; 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 have done."
XVI-Character of Francis I-ROBERTSON RANCIS died at Rambouillet, on the last day of March in the fifty-third year of his age, and the thirty-third 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 dominions, but the greater part of Europe, in wars, prosecuted with the more violent animosity, and drawn out to a greater length than had been known in any former period. Many circumstances contributed to both. 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 towards gaining the ascendant, was wonderfully balanced by some favorable circumstance peculiar 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 enterprizing; 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 often abandoned his designs, or relaxed the vigor of pursuit, from impatience, and sometimes from levity. Charles deliberated long, and determined with coolness: 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 uniformly influenced by 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, terminated 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 greatness and success of their undertakings; and Francis is one of those monarchs, who occupy a higher rank in the temple of fame, than either their talents or performances entitle them to hold. This pre-eminence he owed to many different circumstances. 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 exorbitant 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 endeavouring to set bounds to a monarch, equally formidaable to them all. The characters of princes, too, especially among their cotemporaries, depend, not only upon their talents for government, but upon their quali ties as men. Francis, notwithstanding the many errors conspicuous in his foreign policy and domestic administration, was nevertheless, humane, beneficent, generous. He possessed dignity without pride, affability free from meanness, and courtesy exempt from deceit. All who had access to know him, and no man of merit was ever denied that privilege, respected and loved him. Cap tivated 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 another circumstance 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 took them immediately under his protection, and vied with Leo himself, in the zeal and munificence, with which he encouraged them. He invited learned men to his court, he conversed with them familiarly, he employed them in business, he raised them to offices of dignity, and honored 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 inven tion, and employed all their ingenuity, in panegyric.
Succeeding authors, warmed with their descriptions of Francis' bounty, adopted their encomiums, and refined upon them. The appellation of Father of Letters, 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 admiration and praise than have heen bestowed upon the extensive genius and fortunate arts, of a more capable, but less ami able rival.
XVII.-The Supper and Grace.-STERNE.
SHOE coming loose from the forefoot of the thill-
rira, the postillion dismounted, twisted the shoe off and p it in his pocket: As the ascent was of five or six mles, and that horse our main dependance, 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 the chaise box being of no great use without them, I submitted to go on.
He had not mounted half a mile higher, when coming 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 a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal ado I prevailed upon the postillion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and every thing about it, as we drew near> er, soon reconciled me to the disaster. It was a little farm house, surrounded with about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much corn; and close to the house on one side, was a potagerie of an acre and a half, full of every thing which could make plenty in a French peasant's house; and on the other side, was a little wood, which furnished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the house; so I left the postillion to manage his point as he could; and for mine, I walked directly into the house,
The family consisted of an old grey headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons in law, and their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them.
They were all sitting down together to their lentilsoup: A large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table; and a flaggon of wine at each end of it promised joy through the stages of the repast-it was a feast of love.
The old man rose up to meet me, and with a respectful cordiality would have me sit down at the table. My heart was sit down the moment I entered the room; so I sat down at once, like a son of the family; and to invest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and taking up the loaf, cut myself a hearty luncheon; and, as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcome mixed with thanks, that i had not seemed to doubt it.