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perior; and the combat which her victory visibly cost her, serves only to display the firmness of her resolution,

and the loftiness of her ambitious sentiments. 9 The fame of this princess, though it has surmounted the prejudices both of faction and bigotry, yet lies still exposed to another prejudice, which is more durable because more natural, and which, according to the different views in which we survey her, is capable either of exalting beyond measure or diminishing the luster of her character. This prejudice is founded on the consideration of her sex When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her great qualities and extensive capacity ; but we are also apt to require some more softness of disposition,

some greater lenity of temper, some of those amiable 10 weaknesses by which her sex is distinguished. But the

true method of estimating her merit is to lay aside all these considerations, and consider her merely as a rational being placed in anthority, and intrusted with the government of mankind. We may find it difficult to reconcile our fancy to her as a wife or a mistress; but her qualities as a sovereign, though with some considerable exceptions, are the object of undisputed applause and approbation.

CHARACTER OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.

ROBERTSON's

HISTORY OF SOOTLAND."

Robertson's character of Mary Stuart is drawn with his usual sobriety and gravity. Perhaps no woman that ever lived was 80 endowed with the gift of fascination, the faculty of taking men captive at her will. John Knox, the Scottish reformer, was one of the few men of her time who seems to have been impervious to her

unconscious of that pleasure with which almost every woman beholds the influence of her own beauty. Formed 2 with the qualities which we love, not with the talents that we admire, she was an agreeable woman rather than an illustrious queen. The vivacity of her spirit, not sufficiently tempered with sound judgment, and the warmth of her heart, which was not at all times under the reinto crimes. To say that she was always unfortunate straint of discretion, betrayed her both into errors and will not account for that long and almost uninterrupted succession of calamities which befell her; we must likewise add that she was often imprudent. Her passion for Darnley was rash, youthful, and excessive. And though 3 the sudden transition to the opposite extreme was the natural effect of her ill-requited love, and of his ingratiwell's artful address and important services can justify tude, insolence, and brutality, yet neither these nor Bothher attachment to that nobleman. the age, licentious as they were, are no apology for this

HISTORICAL READINGS.

241

charms. After the lapse of three centuries, her sway over the imagination has not abated, and no historical character of the sixteenth century is the subject of more controversy and investigation.

To all the charms of beauty and the utmost elegance 1 of external form, she added those accomplishments which render their impression irresistible. Polite, affable, insinuating, sprightly, and capable of speaking and of writing with equal ease and dignity. Sudden, however, and violent in all her attachments, because her heart was warm and unsuspicious. Impatient of contradiction, because she had been accustomed from her infancy to be treated as a queen. No stranger,

No stranger, on some occasions, to dissimulation, which, in that perfidious court where she received her education, was reckoned among the necessary arts of government. Not insensible of flattery, or

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unhappy passion; nor can they induce us to look on that tragical and infamous scene which followed upon it with less abhorrence. Humanity will draw a veil over this part of her character which it can not approve, and may, perhaps, prompt some to impute her actions to her situation more than to her dispositions, and to lament the unhappiness of the former rather than accuse the perverseness of the latter. 4 With regard to the queen's person, a circumstance

not to be omitted in writing the history of a female reign, all contemporary authors agree in ascribing to Mary the utmost beauty of countenance and elegance of shape of which the human form is capable. Her hair was black, though, according to the fashion of that age, she frequently wore borrowed locks, and of different colors. Her eyes were a dark gray, her complexion was exquisitely fine, and her hands and arms remarkably delicate, both as to shape and color. Her stature was of a height that rose to the majestic. She danced, she walked, and rode with equal grace. Her taste for music was just, and she both sang and played upon the lute with uncommon skill. Toward the end of her life she began to grow fat, and her long confinement and the coldness of the houses in which she had been imprisoned, brought on a rheumatism, which deprived her of the use of her limbs. “No man,” says Brantome, “ever beheld her person without admiration and love, or will read her history without sorrow.”

DISCOVERY OF AMERICA.

ROBERTSON'S “HISTORY

OF AMERICA."

It is a singular fact in connection with the history of Columbus, that he died in ignorance of the magnitude of his own discoveries. He never touched the mainland of North America, and to the last was probably not aware that he had brought a new continent to light. Claims have been set up in favor of an earlier discovery of America by the Danes or Norsemen, who probably made soine temporary settlements on the New England coast. The student will find some very entertaining reading in Anderson's “America not Discovered by Columbus,” but its conclusions should be accepted with considerable reserve. They can scarcely be regarded, even if they be true, as detracting essentially from the glory and renown due to Columbus as the discoverer of America.

Next morning, being Friday, the third day of August, 1 in the year 1492, Columbus set sail, a little before sunrise, in the presence of a vast crowd of spectators, who sent up their supplications to Heaven for the prosperous issue of the voyage, which they wished rather than expected. Columbus steered directly for the Canary Islands, and arrived there without any occurrence that would have deserved notice on any other occasion. But in a voyage of such expectation and importance, every circumstance was the object of attention

Upon the 1st of October they were, according to the 2 admiral's reckoning, seven hundred and seventy leagues to the west of the Canaries; but, lest his men should be intimidated by the prodigious length of the navigation, he gave out that they had proceeded only five hundred and eighty-four leagues; and, fortunately for Columbus, neither his own pilot nor those of the other ships had skili sufficient to correct this error and discover the deceit. They had now been above three weeks at sea; they

had proceeded far beyond what former navigators had attempted or deemed possible; all their prognostics of discovery, drawn from the flight of birds and other circumstances, had proved fallacious; the appearances of land, with which their own credulity or the artifice of their commander had from time to time flattered and amused them, had been altogether illusive, and their prospect of success seemed now to be as distant as ever. 3 These reflections occurred often to men who had no other object or occupation than to reason and discourse concerning the intention and circumstances of their expedition. They made impression at first upon the ignorant and timid, and, extending by degrees to such as were better informed or more resolute, the contagion spread at length from ship to ship. From secret whispers or murmurings they proceeded to open cabals and public complaints. They taxed their sovereign with inconsiderate credulity, in paying such regard to the vain promises and rash conjectures of an indigent foreigner, as to hazard the lives of so many of her own subjects in prosecuting a chimerical scheme. They affirmed that they had fully performed their duty by venturing so far in an unknown and hopeless course, and could incur no blame for refusing to follow any longer a desperate adventurer to cer4 tain destruction. They contended that it was necessary to think of returning to Spain while their crazy vessels were still in a condition to keep the sea, but expressed their fears that the attempt would prove vain, as the wind, which had hitherto been so favorable to their course, must render it impossible to sail in the opposite direction. All agreed that Columbus should be compelled by force to adopt a measure on which their common safety depended. Some of the more audacious proposed, as the most expeditious and certain method for

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