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look up to the Lord as “his Suepherd;" happier in ascribing all his success to Divine favour, than to the posicy of his councils, or to the force of his arms!
7. How many instances of divine goodness arose before him in pleasing resembrance, when, with such relish, he speaks of the green pastures and still waters, beside which God had led him; of his cup which he had made to overflow; and of the table which he had prepared for him in the presence of his enemies !" With what perfect tranquillity does he look forward to the time of his passing through “the valley of the shadow of death ;" unappalled by that spectre, whose most distant appearance blasts the prosperity of sinners! He fears no evil, as long as “the rod and the staff" of his Divine Shepherd are with him; and, through all the unknown periods of this and of future existence, commits himself to his guidance with secure and triumphant hope: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.'
8. What a purified, sentimental enjoyment of prosperity is here exhibited! How different from that gross relish of worldly pleasures, which belongs to those who behold only the terrestrial side of things; who raise their views to no higher objects than the succession of human contingencies, and the weak efforts of human ability ; who have no protector or patron in the heavens, to enliven their prosperity, or to warm their hearts with gratitude and trust!
SECTION XXIII. Virtue, when deeply rooted, is not subject to the influence of
fortune. 1. The city of Sidon having surrendered to Alexander, he ordered Hephestion to bestow the crown on him whom the Sidonians should think most worthy of that honour. Hephestion being at that time resident with two young men of distinction, offered them the kingdom; but they refused it, telling him that it was contrary to the laws of their country, to admit any one to that honour, who was not of the royal family.
2. He then, having expressed his admiration of their disinterest. ed spirit, desired them to name one of the royal race, who might remember that he had received the crown through their hands. Overlooking many, who would have been ambitious of this high honour, they made choice of Abdolonymus, whose singular merit had rendered him conspicuous, even in the vale of obscurity. Though remotely related to the royal family, a series of misfortunes had reduced him to the necessity of cultivating a garden, for a small stipend, in the suburbs of the city.
3. While Abdolonymus was busily employed in weeding his garden, the two friends of Hephestion, bearing in their hands the ensigns of royalty, approached him, and saluted him king: They informed him that Alexander had appointed him to that office; and required him immediately to exchange his rustick garb, and utensils of husbandry, for the regal robe and sceptre. At the same time, they admonished him, when he should be seated on the throne, and have a nation in his power, not to forget the humble condition from which he had been raised.
4. All this, at the first, appeared to Abdolonymus as an illusion of the fancy, or an insult offered to his poverty. He requested them not to trouble him farther with their impertinent jests; and to find some other way of amusing themselves, which might leave him in the peaceable enjoyment of his obscure habitation. At length, however, they convinced him, that they were serious in their proposal ; and prevailed upon him to accept thé regal office, and accompany them to the palace.
5. No sooner was he in possession of the government, than pride and envy created him enemies; who whispered their murmurs in every place, till at last they reached the ear of Alexander. He commanded the new-elected prince to be sent for; and inquired of him, with what temper of mind he had borne his poverty. “Would to Heaven,” replied Abdolonymus," that I may be able to bear my crown with equal moderation : for when I possessed little, I wanted nothing: these hands supplied me with whatever I desired.” From this answer, Alexander formed so high an idea of his wisdom, that he confirmed the choice which had been made ; and annexed a neighbouring province to the government of Sidon.
SECTION XXIV. The Speech of FABRICIUS, a Roman ambassador, to king Pyrr.
hus, who aitempted to bribe him to his interests, by the offer of a great sum of money.
1. With regard to my poverty, the king has, indeed, been justly informed. My whole estate consists in a house of but inean appearance, and a little spot of ground; from which, by my own labour, I draw my support. But if, by any means, thou hast been persuaded to think that this poverty renders me of less consequence in my own country, or in any degree unhappy, thou art greatly deceived.
2. I have no reason to complain of fortune : she supplies me with all that nature requires; and if I am without superfluities, I am also free from the desire of them. With these, I confess I should be more able to succour the necessitous, the only advantage for which the wealthy are to be envied; but small as my possessions are, I can still contribute something to the support of the state, and the assistance of my friends.
3. With respect to honours, my country places me, poor as I am, upon a level with the richest for Rome knows no qualifications for great employments, but virtue and ability. She appointe me to officiate in the most august ceremonies of religion; she intrusts me with the command of her armies; she confides to my care the most important negotiations. My poverty does not lessen the weight and influence of my counsels in the senate.
4. The Roman people honour me for that very poverty, which king Pyrrhus considers as a disgrace. They know the many opportunities I have had to enrich myself, without censure; they are convinced of my disinterested zeal for their prosperity: and if I have any thing to complain of, in the return they make me, it is only the excess of their applause. What value, then, can I put upon thy gold and silver ? What king can add any thing to my fortune? Always attentive to discharge the duties incumbent upon
me, I have a mind free from self-reproach ; and I have an honest fame.
SECTION X-XV. Character of James I. king of England. 1. No prince, so little enterprising and so inoffensive, was ever so much exposed to the opposite extremes of calumny and flat. tery, of satire and panegyrick. And the factions which began in his time, being still continued, have made his character be as much disputed to this day, as is commonly that of princes who are our contemporaries.
2. Many virtues, however, it must be owned, he was possessed of; but not one of them pure, or free from the contagion of the neighbouring vices. His generosity bordered on profusion, his learning on pedantry, his pacifick disposition on pusillanimity, his wisdom on cunning, his friendship on light fancy and boyish fondness.
3. While he imagined that he was only maintaining his own authority, he may perhaps be suspected in some of his actions, and still more of his pretensions, to have encroached on the liberties of his people. While he endeavoured, by an exact neutrality, to acquire the good will of all his neighbours, he was able to preserve fully the esteem and regard of none. His capacity was considerable, but fitter to discourse on general maxims, than to conduct any intricate business.
4. His intentions were just, but more adapted to the conduct of private life, than to the government of kingdoms. Awkward in his person, and ungainly in his manners, he was ill qualified to command respect: partial and undiscerning in his affections, he was little fitted to acquire general love. Of a feeble temper, more than of a frugal judgement; exposed to our ridicule from his vanity, but exempt from our hatred by his freedom from pride and arrogance.
5. And, upon the whole, it may be pronounced of his character, that all his qualities were sullied with weakness, and embellished by humanity. Political courage he was certainly devoid of; and from thence chiefly is derived the strong prejudice, which prevails against his personal bravery: an inference, however, which must be owned, from general experience, to be extremely fallacious.
SECTION XXVI. CHARLES V. emperor of Germany, resigns his dominions, and
retires from the world. 1. Tais great emperor, in the plenitude of his power, and in possession of all the honours which can flatter the heart of man, took the extraordinary resolution, to resign his kingdoms; and to withdraw entirely from any concern in business or the affairs of this world, in order that he might spend the remainder of his days in retirement and solitude.
2. Though it requires neither deep reflection, nor extraordinary discernment, to discover that the state of royalty is not exempt from cares and disappointments; though most of those who are exalted t, 1 throne, find solicitude, and satiety, and disgust, to be their perpetual attendants, in that envied pre-eminence; yet, to
descend voluntarily from the supreme to a subordinate station, and to relinquish the possession of power in order to attain the enjoyment of happiness, seems to be an effort too great for the human mind.
3. Several instances, indeed, occur in history, of monarchs who have quitted a throne, and have ended their days in retirement. But they were either weak princes, who took this resolution rashly, and repented of it as soon as it was taken; or unfortunate princes, from whose hands some strong rival had wrested their sceptre, and compelled them to descend with reluctance into a private station.
4. Dioclesian is, perhaps, the only prince capable of holding the reins of government, who ever resigned them from deliberate choice;
and who continued, during many years, to enjoy the tranquillity of retirement, without fetching one penitent sigh, or casting back one look of desire, towards the power or dignity which he had abandoned.
5. No wonder, then, that Charles's resignation should fill all Europe with astonishment; and give rise, both among his contemporaries, and among the historians of that period, to various conjectures concerning the motives which determined a prince, whose ruling passion had been uniformly the love of power, at the age of fifty-six, when objects of ambition operate with full force on the mind, and are pursued with the greatest ardour, to take a resolution so singular and unexpected.
6. The emperor, in pursuance of his determination, having assembled the states of the Low Countries at Brussels, seated himself, for the last time, in the chair of state ; on one side of which was placed his son, and on the other, his sister the queen of Hungary, regent of the Netherlands, with a splendid retinue of the grandees of Spain and princes of the empire standing behind him.
7. The president of the council of Flanders, by his command, explained, in a few words, his intention in calling this extraordinary meeting of the states. He then read the instrument of resignation, by which Charles surrendered to his son Philip all his territories, jurisdiction, and authority in the Low Countries; absolving his subjects there from their oath of allegiance to him, which he required them to transfer to Philip his lawful heir; and to serve him with the same loyalty and zeal that they had manifested, during so long a course of years, in support of his government.
8. Charles then rose from his seat, and leaning on the shoulder of the prince of Orange, because he was unable to stand without support, he addressed himself to the audience; and, from a paper which he held in his hand, in order to assist his memory, he recounted, with dignity, but without ostentation, all the great things which he had undertaken and performed, since the commencement of his administration.
9. He observed, that from the seventeenth year of his age, he had dedicated all his thoughts and attention to publick objects, reserving no portion of his time for the indulgence of his ease, and very little for the enjoyment of private pleasure ; that either in a pacifick or hostile manner, he had visited Germany nine times, Spain six times, France four times, Italy seven times, the Low Countries
ten times, England twice, Africa as often, and had made eleven voyages by sea ; that while his health permitted him to discharge his duty, and the vigour of his consitution was equal, in any degree, to the arduous office of governing dominions so extensive, he had never shunned labour, nor repined under fatigue; that
now, when his health was broken, and his vigour exhausted by the rage of an incurable distemper, his growing infirmities admonished hiin to retire; nor was he so fond of reigning, as to retain the sceptre in an impotent hand, which was no longer able to protect his subjects, or to render them happy; that instead of a sovereign worn out with diseases, and scarcely half alive, he gave them one in the prime of life, accustomed already to govern, and who added to the vigour of youth all the attention and sagacity of maturer years ; that if, during the course of a long administration, he had committed any material errour in government, or if, under the pressure of so many and great affairs, and amidst the attention which he had been obliged to give to them, he had either neglected or injured any of his subjects, he now implored their forgiveness ; that, for his part, he should ever retain a grateful sense of their fidelity and attachment, and would carry the remembrance of it along with him to the place of his retreat, as his sweetest consolation, as well as the best reward for all his services; and in his last prayers to Almighty God, would pour forth his ardent wishes for their welfare.
10. Then turning towards Philip, who fell on his knees and kissed his father's hand,”“ If,” says he, “I had left you, by my death, this rich inheritance, to which I have made such large additions, some regard would have been justly due to my memory on that account; but now, when I voluntarily resign to you what I might have still retained, I may well expect the warmest expressions of thanks on your part. With these, however, I dispense; and shall consider your concern for the welfare of your subjects, and your love of them, as the best and most acceptable testimony of your gratitude to me. It is in your power, by a wise and virtuous administration, to justify the extraordinary proof which I give this day of my paternal affection, and to demonstrate that you are worthy of the confidence which I repose in you. Preserve an inviolable regard for religion; maintain the Catholick faith in its purity; let the laws of your country be sacred in your eyes; encroach not on the rights and privileges of your people; and if the time shall ever come, when you shall wish to enjoy the tranquillity of private life, may you have a son endowed with such qualities, that you can resign your sceptre to him, with as much satisfaction as I give up mine to you.”
11. As soon as Charles had finished this long address to his sub. jects, and to their new sovereign, he sunk into the chair, exhausted and ready to faint with the fatigue of so extraordinary an effort. During his discourse, the whole audience melted into tears; some from admiration of his magnanimity; others softened by the expressions of tenderness towards his son, and of love to his people; and all were affected with the deepest sorrow, at losing a sovereign, who had distinguished the Netherlands, his native country, with particular marks of his regard and attachment.