Imágenes de páginas

ever may be the alarm now felt, or proclaimed from conviction or interest, of the advance of Catholicism, it will hardly be pronounced equally founded in cause as when the Act of Settlement was passed in 1702. No one, with the slightest tincture, "primis labris," of our history, will attempt an assimilation of the danger at these periods; and yet, that solemn Act, the special purpose of which was to guard the throne against the contamination of Popery, fixed the inheritance of the crown, not only on a comparatively remote claimant, but one far more closely and extensively related, in blood, to Papists than our young Prince.

The Princess Sophia, thus selected to found a new dynasty as the nearest Protestant successor to the Stuarts, when the existing descendants of James I., numbered fifty-four, I need scarcely state, was granddaughter to our James the First; but it may not be so generally known, that this preferred lady had a brother, a sister, a son, and a niece, with this niece's children, all Papists! Married in 1658 to ErnestAugustus, duke, and subsequently created, elector of Hanover, she had four brothers and two sisters. The eldest of the former, Charles Louis succeeded his father in the Palatinate; and the two next, Rupert and Maurice, signalised their valor, if not their skill, in our great civil war, under their uncle Charles, as may be seen in Clarendon. But the fourth, Edward, became a Catholic, and withdrew to France, where he married Anne de Gonzague, so highly appreciated by Madame de Motteville and the Cardinal de Retz, daughter of Charles, penultimate duke of Nevers of that family, in 1645. These three brothers left no


legitimate issue. Of her two elder sisters, Louisa Hollandina, (so named, from the refuge afforded the family on their expulsion from the Palatinate, in Holland,) and Henrietta Maria, the latter was the wife of Sigismund Racoczi, Prince of Transylvania, who died in 1652; and the former not only embraced the Catholic religion, but took the veil, and died at Maubuisson in France, at an advanced age, in 1709, in odor of sanctity, according to the records of the convent, so deep was the impression of her Catholic piety.

Our royal genealogist, Sandford, (Genealogical History, &c., 1707, p. 535,) represents this princess as one of the most learned ladies in Europe. (See Blackstone, book i., ch. 3.) Again, of Sophia's own seven sons, the third, Maximilian, engaged in the Venetian service, and declared himself a Catholic, in which persuasion he died in 1702, just as the Act of Settlement had passed. And of the two children, the offspring of her brother the Elector Palatine's marriage with Charlotte of Hesse-Cassel, the daughter Elizabeth-Charlotte, became the wife of Philip of Orleans, the ancestor of the King of the French, in 1671, having succeeded our accomplished HenriettaAnne, in that depraved man's conjugal bed.

If then, as maintained in the article referred to, the religion of Prince Albert's cousins be a legitimate source of apprehension or scruple as to his own, how infinitely less sensitive the past generation of Protestant England must have been, to a far greater peril than the present! And if, independently of the more numerous as well as much closer ties of the Brunswick branch, we institute a comparison

between the individuals, will George the First support a favorable parallel with our young Prince? Let the former's conduct to his wife, as we are instructed by Walpole and others, as well as his open maintenance of two German mistresses, (one the mother of Lady Chesterfield,) answer the question. Or will the profligate Regent of France, with his daughter, the abandoned Duchess of Berry, be matched with the husband of the Queen of Portugal, and the spouse of the Duke of Nemours? Nor must we overlook Sophia's eldest brother, George's uncle, Charles Louis, who during the life of his legitimate and unoffending consort, Charlotte, daughter of William V. Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, discarded her, and married the daughter of the Baron de Dagenfeld, by whom he had thirteen children, to whom he gave the title of Reingraves. By his lawful wife he had, in addition to the Duchess of Orleans, Charles, his successor in the Electorate, a weak

The enormity of this prince's immoralities fully justified the epitaph proposed for his mother-"Ci gît l'oisiveté,"-Here lieth idleness,—meant to convey its proverbial definition as the parent of every vice. Louis Philippe, his descendant, has little cause, truly, to boast of his progenitors in general. The founder of his race, Philip, only brother of Louis XIV., ever if we acquit him, as, I think, we should, of the alleged murder of his first wife, our interesting Henrietta-Anne, whose death is so impressively portrayed by Bossuet, yet stands arraigned of ineffable profligacy. He was father of the Regent, whose son Louis forms an honorable exception to this dissolute series of generations; for he was eminently learned, pious, and beneficent. He died in 1752, leaving a son, Louis Philippe, the stupid husband of the most licentious of women, so proclaimed, in fact, by her son, Egalité, (Louis Philippe Joseph,) himself the most debased of men, the emblem of princely degradation. But the King of the French has ever been distinguished for the exemplary deportment of his private life; nor, surely, has his conduct on the throne verified the prognostic or confirmed the judgment of his early instructress, Madame de Genlis, which denied him the attributes, and pronounced him disqualified competently to fulfil the duties of the royal station, as shewn at page 206-ante.

For this double and existed, indeed, high

prince, who died childless. concurrent marriage, there authority, and a memorable precedent, in Philip of Hesse-Cassel, called the Magnanimous! his wife's ancestor, who had been allowed this plurality under singular pretences, by the heads of the Reformation, in 1540. The document is still apparent, subscribed by Luther, Bucer, Melancthon, &c., and not impotently wielded, we may believe, as a weapon of aggression, in the terrible grasp of Bossuet, who first produced it to the astonished world, after above a century of suppression. Mr. Hallam, it is fair to add, (Constitutional History, chap. ii..) maintains that a similar indulgence had been offered to Henry VIII., by Clement VII., in September 1530, in order to prevent the threatened schism, as a mezzotermine, which, indeed, had already been recommended by Luther and Melancthon, rather than sanction the repudiation of so virtuous a wife as Catherine. Similar counsel was given by a pillar of the Anglican church, bishop Burnet, to Charles II. "I see nothing so strong against polygamy," says that Prelate, (His own Times, vol. i., p. 454,) "as to balance the great and visible imminent hazards, (the succession of James) if it be not allowed." (Dr. Lingard, xii., p. 248.) Joh. Lyserus, in his "Polygamia Triumphatrix," published under the pseudonym of Th. Alethæus, in 1682 (4to.,) produces numerous other testimonies of Luther and his disciples' sanction of polygamy, or such facilities of divorce, as would be nearly equivalent in purpose to it, pretty much as the law and practice now exists in Prussia, and, according to a well informed female traveller, a staunch Protestant

too, as was Lyserus, in Esthonia, whence, though exclusively under the Lutheran rule, the bible, we are likewise assured, is wholly banished. See "A Residence on the Shores of the Baltic, by a Lady"— vol. i., pp. 205 and 235-Lond., 1841—an instructive and interesting publication, attributed, we believe truly, to Miss Rigby, of Norwich.* But, relative to Clement's alleged and accommodating compromise. (See Lingard, Henry VIII., ch. iii.)

Catherine and Anne died within a few months of each other. The one has continued unassailed even by the breath of slander. Death procured her justice, and established her rights, as Camoens says of the unhappy Ignes de Castro

"O caso triste, e digno da memoria :
Que do sepulchro os homens desenterra,
Aconteceo da misera, e mesquinha,
Que despois de ser morta foi Rainha!"

Os Lusíadas, Canto iii., 118.

The other, (Anne,) in my conviction, innocent of the imputed criminality of her married life, (though the accusing evidence is quite as strong as that on which Mary Stuart is generally condemned,) assuredly died with a conscious untruth in her mouth, when, at the moment of execution, she emphatically declared of Henry-"That a gentler and more merciful prince was there never; and to me he was always a good, a gentle, and merciful lord." Nothing could be more opposed to the fact, or, necessarily, to her own persuasion, nor was it justified by her apprehensions for Elizabeth. It did not, and could not, influence the

This gifted lady was one of four children produced at one birth! which does not occur one in a million, or more.

« AnteriorContinuar »