« AnteriorContinuar »
tyrant's feelings, which, though affected even to tears, for the irreproachable Catherine, were moved to worse than the display of indifference on this sacrifice of the victim, alternately, of his love and hate-the unfortunate Anne. He espoused her successor the ensuing day; and her fate or conduct never elicited from her daughter a word of reproof, or attempt at vindication, we are assured, nor even, I believe, the mention of her name.
With respect to the daughters of Catherine and Anne, Miss Strickland, an impartial Protestant historian, may well be trusted. In concurrence with old Tom Fuller, Sir James Macintosh, and even the martyrologist Fox, she separates the private character of Mary from those deeds of horror, with which a systematic calumny has charged her memory— "deeds," pertinently adds this lady, "suggested and urged, for the greater part, by the very men who had armed her father with omnipotence of evil, and whose counsels had inflamed her brother's persecution of the Catholics." (History of English Queens, vol. v., p. 340, 415, &c.) And, at page 415, Miss Strickland quotes the authority of the virtuous and beautiful Lady Montague, in proof of the superior morality of Mary's court to that of Elizabeth. Her equal, too, in every accomplishment of mind and education, she had become, under the tuition of the learned Spaniard, J. L. Vives, (whose professional course at Oxford, Henry and Catherine occasionally attended, though his opposition to their divorce subsequently lost him the King's favor,) and of the first English scholar of the period, Thomas Linacre. The late Rev. Sidney Smith, (Works, vol. iii., p. 246,) says, in reference to
the persecution of Mary's reign, "That at least as many Catholics were put to death under Elizabeth, when Protestants equally persecuted Protestants”—a crime carried still further in the following century, when, observes Sir James Macintosh, (Works, vol. ii., p. 178,)" Lord Castlemaine, a zealous Catholic, had some color for asserting, that the persecution of Protestants by Protestants, such as that of our great allegorist, Bunyon, and others, in England, and of the Presbyterians in Scotland, after the restoration, was more violent than that of the Protestants by Catholics, under Mary."*
The similarity of her final doom to that of Anne Boleyn, may justify, as it suggests, a brief advertence to another royal victim, not, indeed, of a husband's altered affections, but of the versatility of popular favor. Marie-Antoinette, the idol, once, of Parisian enthusiasm, in Burke's recollection and delineation, is thus mentioned in the prison registry, and characterised in the Moniteur, after her execution:—“ La nommée Marie-Antoinette, dite Lorraine d'Autriche, veuve de Louis Capet, fut remise à l'exécuteur des jugemens criminels, et conduite à la Place de la Révolution pour y subir la peine de mort.......chargée des imprécations de ceux dont elle avait consommé la ruine. Son nom sera à jamais en horreur!" And the Moniteur, it must be recollected, has been the Protean depository of the acts and sentiments of each succeeding government, from the earliest days of the
By a singular oversight, Macintosh, in his Life of More, (Miscellaneous Works, vol. i., p. 469,) calls Catherine, at page 469, an Austrian Princess, though wholly unconnected in blood with that German house, and, by alliance, only in consequence of her sister's marriage with Philip of Austria.
Revolution, though originally entitled-"Le Logographe," when I remember it in the hands of Maret, afterwards Duc de Bassano. I also find that the address to Female Republicans, in the Feuille de Salut Public, (Lord Brougham's protégée,) contains a similar reference to the Queen.
The same Moniteur-indeed the same number-in allusion to the accomplished Madame Roland, thus expresses the feelings of the ruling power on her death-"La femme Roland, bel esprit.........fut un monstre sous tous les rapports." (19th Nov. 1793.) Often have I visited the room where this remarkable woman was incarcerated, in the gloomy prison of Ste Pélagie, and where she composed the interesting relation of the innocence of her youth, as well as the lamentable irreligion of her maturer years, which she made but too apparent in the acts and laws of her husband's administration-ostensibly his work, but, in reality, the emanation and digestion of her active spirit. And yet, even Machiavelli, in whom she was well read, and who, if not the avowed, was certainly the practical authority of that era, emphatically declares-" Everamente mai non fu alcuno ordinatore di leggi straordinarie," (equivalent here to revolutionary,) “che non ricoresse a Dio." (Discorsi sopra Tito-Livio, i.)
But, exclusively of the picture so strikingly demonstrative of the undisturbed repose and ease of mind, drawn in her Memoirs, while obedient to the doctrine and precepts of religion, her lately published correspondence in early youth, with a Convent friend, Sophie Carnot, a young lady of Amiens, presents a most attractive view of the happiness imparted by
the same source. She writes in 1773, and says, trouve dans ma religion le vrai chemin de la félicité: soumise à ses préceptes, je vis heureuse; je cherche mon Dieu, mon bonheur...... enfin je jouïs de moimême." The early days of Rousseau, Marmontel, Morellet, &c. form a similar contrast of existence and feeling with the turmoil of their subsequent years, when their first religious impressions were obliterated.
The especial object of the most rancorous hatred of Robespierre, her death, preceded only ten days (31st October 1793,) by the holocaust execution of her friends, the Girondins, seemed to sharpen the tyrant's sanguinary appetite, which subsequently luxuriated in those wholesale immolations that present so fearful a spectacle, and so impressive a lesson of unchained revolutionary fanaticism:—
"Utque feræ tigres nunquam posuêre furorem ;
Pollutas patitur sanguis mansuescere fauces."
The deeply-expressed disappointment of this gifted lady, in her cherished hopes and anticipated results of the Revolution -"O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!"-naturally recalls to our historical or classical remembrance, the similar exclamation attributed to Brutus, of his frustrated confidence in virtue, which he despondingly characterised as "an empty name, the mere slave of fortune." But, of the dying words of this "last of the Romans," after his defeat at Philippi, all that can be authenticated is a line, the 332nd of the Medca of Euripides, invoking the vengeance of heaven on the author of the existing evils—— Ζεύ, μὴ λάθοι σε τῶν δὲ ὅν αἴτιος κακῶν.”
which Appian (De Bellis Civil. lib. iii., p. 1063, ed. 1670,) applies to Marc Antony. Publius Volumnius, from whose narrative of the last moments of Brutus, of which he was witness, Plutarch (in Bruto, cap. 59,) relates the circumstance, could only recollect this single verse of the two pronounced by his great friend. What the other was, became, therefore, a matter of conjecture; but, however devoid of historical sanction, that it was depreciatory of virtue, though, consequently, little worthy of his high character, has obtained general belief; nor is any line to that effect to be found in the Medea, where it is usually supposed to be. But old Joshua Barnes confidently undertakes to supply the defective memory of Volumnius. According to him, Brutus must have added the very next verse to the above cited one, being the reply of Creon to Medea, which, with the slight mutation of ματαία into στρατιῶτα, would imply an invocation to some one of his military attendants to relieve him, by death, from his sufferings:
“Ερπ ̓, ὦ στρατιῶτα, καὶ μ' απαλλάξον πόνων.”
And we are told, by Dio-Cassius, (lib. 47,) that such an appeal to his companions, was made by Brutus, who found the friendly hand he solicited“παρεκάλεσε τίνα τῶν συνόντων ἵνα αὐτὸν ἀποκτείνη,”—in his literary associate, Strato, the Egean. (Velleius Paterculus, ii., 70.) Florus, lib. iv., cap. 7., says, "quam verum est quod moriens efflavit-" non in re, sed in verbo tantam esse virtutem"-which Alciatus has thus diluted in his "Emblematum libellus”—Patavii, 1621-4to.)