Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

this truly spirited, honest, and rational vritet, in proof of his opinion; but the proposition is so self-evident, that to mention them were fuperfluous. We cannot, however, take leave of him, without tranflating the last section of his book. It is as follows.

• I imagine to myself, that I see the beloved disciple of Jesus rise from the dead, and on our usual day of swearing enter the fenate-house. He views the venerable fathers of their country, whose grave and folemn aspects befpeak them engaged in business of great importance. This makes him attentive. He liftens to the reading of a great number of obligations, laws, ordinances, commandments, statutes, and regulations of government, all falutary, and calculated to promote the happiness of the community; insomuch, that each individual, not only in conscience, but for his own sake, should rejoice in the observance. He becomes greatly delighted, and exclaims in congratulation, how they love each other !' But his joy is loon interrupted with a murmur of curses, when swearing, they all wish, that in case of disobedience, the hand which they hold up, may be consumed by fire from heaven, their tongue rot in their mouth, their eyes see no more light, their ears hear no more sounds, that thunder may shatter their teeth, their lungs be stifled, and that torture may tear their limbs, and burst their bowels. Here the holy disciple quakes and trembles. He remembers the hardned Jews, calling down a curse upon themfelves : his blood be upon us and on our children! Which curse hath been so juftly accomplished, that they have severely felt its weight for near two thousand years. Tears fall from his eyes; his heart bleeds', &c.

Thus have we endeavoured to give our readers some idea of this remarkable book; remarkable, as well on account of the freedom, strength, and truth, of its sentiments, as for the persecution it has brought upon its worthy author.

When we consider the merit of this performance, the piety and irreproachable character of the writer, and that it was published among a people who pride themselves in their liberty, and pretend to abhor the persecuting spirit of the church of Rome, we are astonished at the consequences of its pubo lication ! But when, on the other hand, we consider, their vernors as capable of exacting such horrid curses from their poor Tubjects; and when we remember them as the perfecutors of the honest Rousseau, our astonishment ceases, and we have nothing left, but to invite the excellent author to take refuge in à country where he will probably meet with more justice and humanity

But

Hifloiré

go

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Hitoire de la Vie de Henry IV. Roi de France et de Navarre, &c.

That is, the History of the Life of Henry IV. King of France
and Navarre. By M. De Bury. 12mo. 4 vol. Paris, 1766.

HERE is scarce any species of writing, that is more

instructive to the philosopher, or agreeable to such as read only for their amusement, than the lives of those who have made a distinguished figure in the highest stations of life. General history often throws a false light on the characters of such persons; the splendor, which surrounds them dazzles the eye, and prevents our having a elear and distinct view of them: but when they lay aside the badges of their dignity, and descend, from the height of their exalted stations, to the common level, of humanity; when we are allowed to take view of them as fathers, husbands, masters, friends, and companions ; when we are admitted to their tables, and their diversions, and mix with them in the humble amusements, and agreeable relaxations of domestic life, we can then form a just idea of their characters; and whilft our self-love is agreeably flattered in being admitted to a familiar intercourse with such illustrious personages, we clearly perceive that men are the same in every rank and station of life.

The work now before us, therefore, must be acceptable to readers of every class; and indeed deservedly. Besides an account of the great actions which Henry the fourth performed in the eyes of all Europe, it contains many agreeable and interesting particulars, not generally known, which throw light upon the character of that great prince. It will be readily ima. gined that the Author has made great use of Sully's Memoirs; as Sully, however, confined himself principally to these things in which he himself was concerned as a minifter, the Reader will find in this history a great many facts omitted by the Duke, and collected, with great care, from a variety of Authors, by M. De Bury: whose principal design is to display the real character and private life of his hero. The discerning Reader will probably think that he treats the blemishes and imperfections of Henry's character with too much tenderness; his work, however, notwithstanding this, has no inconfiderable degree of merit. His stile is clear, easy, and natural ; his reflections few, but judicious, and such as naturally arise from the facts which he relates.

He concludes his history with a comparison between Henry and Philip of Macedon. As this part of his work contains the principal features in the portraits of these two great princes, we shall present our Readers with some extracts from it.

In the twenty-fixth book of Sully's Memoirs we are tol}, that Henry, being one day at dinner with the Duke, and the conversation happening to turn upon thote great men whore APP, vol. xxxiv.

Oo

actions

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

actions are celebrated in history, asked Sully which of them all he most wished him to resemble?-If Sully had been well acquainted with the history of Greece, our Author tells us, he would have found, among the heroes who are celebrated in it, a prince, whose virtues, àtchievements, good and bad fortune, &c. had so perfect a resemblance to those of Henry, that he might have drawn an exact parallel between them. This prince was Philip, whose conformity of character with that of Henry, he now endeavours to fhew.

When Amyntas, King of Macedon, died, he left three sons, Alexander, Perdiccas, and Philip. According to the order of nature, the youngest of the three could never expect to mount the throne; this circumstance, however, was the cause of his grandeur. ' Being sent to Thebes as an hostage, for reasons of state, he was committed to the care of Epaminondas, the greatest captain and the wisest man of Greece ; who took care to give him the best education in every respect that a prince could receive, and by which Philip knew admirably well how to profit.

When Henry came into the world, he was still at a greater distance from ihe crown which providence designed for him, than Philip was from that of Macedonia. Four Princes, who might have a numerous progeny, seemed to exclude him from all possibility of ever reaching the throne. He reached it, however, with this difference, that his poffeffion of it was lawful, whereas that of Philip appeared to be an usurpation ; for after the death of his two elder brothers, he took possession of the crown, hy excluding young Amyntas his nephew, whose guardian he was; unless we say, that

the uncle might lawfully exclude the nephew, as there were precedents for it in the history of Macedonia.

These two princes, born with the finest capacities that na. ture can bestow, derived great advantages from their education, which enabled them to make those solid reflections, which adversity always suggests to brave and generous minds.

The education of Henry was not so brilliant as that of Philip, who was instructed in all the sciences known to the Greeks, the most ingenious and polite people in the world. Accordingly he surpassed all the princes who went before him in eloquence, philosophy, the knowledge of war and politics. Henry was educated by his mother the Queen of Navarre, and by Flor. Chretien, a man pretty well acquainted with history and polite literature, but who had not acquired that extenfire knowledge which those who were at the head of the Greek re. public were poffelled of, and with whom Philip had particular connections in his youth,

It is with reason the Greeks boast of the eloquence of Philip; but it was not that kind of eloquence which imposes upon republicans, who are fond of ingenious and sprighdy turns, and who suffer themselves, to be seduced by the charms of a beautiful elocution. It was a species of eloquence which he had formed himself, nervous; fimple, manly, full of reason and good sense, the only eloquence fit for kings,

turns,

Henry the Fourth had not perhaps carefully studied the works of Demosthenes, and Cicero ; indeed he had not time for this : he had however a true, simple, and persuasive eloquence, as appears by his letters and those speeches of his which are still extant. Both Philip and he excelled in quick and sprightly repartees. Several of their apothegms and bons mats are still preserved, full of good sense and pleasantry. Those of Henry I have related occasionally; Philip's may be seen in the life I have given of him.

Henry and Philip were instructed in the military art by the example and counsels of the two greatest captains of their times, Epaminondas and Coligny, under whom they learned to obey before they commanded.' Both these princes profited so much by the instructions of their masters, that they were without dispute the greatest captains of the age they lived in, and surpassed all those who went before them.

i When Philip mounted the throne of Macedon, he found his kingdom almost intirely invaded by his neighbours who were laying it waste, and his Grandees acting in concert with them, that each might secure to himself a Thare of the provinces. We have seen in the life of Henry, what the condition of France was when he came to the crown. · The greatest part of his nobles deserted him, invited foreigners to allilt and support them, and seized the revenues of the state. But both these princes, superiour to adversity, and founding their hopes and their glory upon their courage, boldly attacked their enemies, beat them in several engagements, and forced them to return to their allegiance. The victories of Argues and Ivry confounded the league, as that which Philip gained over Bardillus, King of the Illyrians, made him master of Macedon, and that at Cherona, of all Greece.

One of the noblest qualities these princes were possessed of, was their attention to make their subjects happy and their dominions flourish. If their designs were not always crowned with success, 'it was because they were not always masters of those circumstances which do not depend upon the power or foresight of man; but they never loft light of these glorious objects. Philip had no sooner driven his foreign enemies from his dominions, and established the tranquillity of his people, than he made himself niaster of Amphipolis, a city which belonged to his predecessors, and which had an excellent harbour. He ordered Aeets to be equipped, with which he attacked the Athe. nians, who had made themselves lords at sea, and obliged them to give his subjects a Häre in their commerce. 002

No

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

and /

No body knew. better than he how to avail himself of the advantages he gained over his enemies. Being defirous to'pu. nish the Thracians for the ravages they committed upon his territories, he entered their country, and took poffefsion of that pårt of their dominions which was most convenient for him. As he knew they had golden mincs, which they neglected, he sent a colony of Macedonians to the city of Crenides, opened the mines, and drew a considerable sum of money from them every year. If Henry had no gold nor silver mires in his dominions, he had others in the produce of France and the industry of its inhabitants, who only wanted to be encouraged to have their commerce protected. Accordingly he took the most care to have the roads repaired, rivers rendered navigable, and manufactures established, and gave every encouragement to agriculfure. If he had it not in his power to intcreafe, so much as he could have wished, the maritime commerce of his subjects, which before his reign they were almost utter ftrangers to, he at least laid the foundations of it.

Both these princes shewed equal abilities in regard to their revenues. The finances were never in such good order, since the foundation of the French monarchy, as they were in the reign of Henry' the fourth. He was the first who knew the true sources of them, and made 'the noblest and best use of them. When Philip came to the třrone, his finances were in as great disorder as those of Henry, and, with equal ability be restored them without oppresling his subje&ts. As both these

princes, in the beginning of their reigns; were greatly diftrefied 2 for want of money, they knew the value of it; accordingly

they used it with tnat æconomy which is so neceffary in kings without avarice and without prodigality. They knew that true fenerosity confifts in rewarding those who have deserved well of the flate, ard in employing their treasures only upon what is useful and neceflary:

Henry and Philip were equal in point of courage, which they often, indeed, carried to temerity. They were not fertible that true valour has its boundaries ascertained by reason, which obliges a brave man to encounter, with intrepidity, ihose dangers that come in his way, without aspiring after the foolith ambition of going in quest of them.

This is the picture drawn of Philip by Demofthenes, his greatest enemy, whom a regard to truth otliged to do him the justice he deserved." He is, says he, an indefatigable warriour, aétive, present upon every occafion, fupporting the severeft fatit, des, regardless of feep, and the difference of feasons; an inui epid hero, who darts through every obstacle, and thruffs himself into the midst of dangers.--I faw the same Philip, (say's be on another occasion) after the loss of an eye, wounded in che leg, &c. tl.row himself into the midit of their combar, reading

« AnteriorContinuar »