Imágenes de páginas

we are in the full enjoyment of the benefits resulting from the arrangement-had they still lived to urge their claims, the question would probably have never been at rest. It is impossible not to perceive throughout the interference of God for the preservation of protestantism.

“All things were now made ready for filling the throne, and the very night before it was to be done, the princess arrived safely. It had been given out, that she was not pleased with the late transactions, both with relation to her father, and the present settlement. Upon which the prince wrote to her, that it was necessary at first she should appear so cheerful, that nobody might be discouraged by her looks, or be led to apprehend she was uneasy by reason of what had been done. This made her put on a great air of gaiety when she came to Whitehall, and as may be imagined, had great crowds of all sorts coming to wait on her. 'I confess I was one of those that censured this in my thoughts,” adds the historian-“I thought a little more seriousness had done as well when she came into her father's palace, and was to be set on his throne next day. I had never seen the least indecency in any part of her conduct before ; which made this appear to me so extraordinary, that some days after I took the liberty to ask her, how it came that what she saw in soʻsad a Revolution, as to her father's person, made not a greater impression on her. She took this freedom with her usual goodness; and she assured me that she felt the sense of it very lively on her thoughts. But she told me that the letters that had been writ to her obliged her to put on a cheerfulness, in which she might perhaps go too far, because she was obeying directions, and acting a part which was not


natural to her." We have now to consider Mary as queen of England -a’ most unenviable greatness under the circumstances in which she became so, and at a period of so much disorder and corruption. 6 A peaceful reign was not to be expected, and though William kept his throne se



[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

curely, it was through a succession of broils, invasions, insurrections, and continually attempted assassinations. Beside the efforts of James to regain his throne, and endless political contentions, William found himself distracted with the religious dissensions of the people, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Dissenters of every denomination were contending for privilege and power, while piety and devotion were almost equally lost amongst all. William was constrained more than once to wish he had never been king of England, and was on the point of leaving the kingdom, and committing the go. vernment to the queen. In the midst of all this confuşion, James appeared in Ireland, and while William was obliged to repair thither to meet his enemies in the field, Mary was left in charge of the administration at home. It was a new scene to her; she had for above sixteen months made so little figure in business, that those who imagined that every woman of sense loved to be meddling, concluded that she had a small proportion of it, because she lived so abstracted from all affairs. Her behaviour was indeed very exemplary: she was exactly regular both in her private and publick devotions : she was much in her closet and read a great deal : she was often busy at work, and seemed to employ her time and thoughts in any thing rather than matters of state: her conversation was lively and obliging; every thing in her was easy and natural; she was singular in great charities to the poor; of whom, as there are always great numbers about courts, so the crowds of persons of quality who fled from Ireland, drew from her liberal supplies : all this was nothing to the publick. If the king talked with her of affairs, it was in so private a way, that few seemed to believe it; Lord Shrewsbury said that the king had upon many occasions said to him, that though he could not hit on the right way of pleasing England, he was confident she would; and that we should all be very happy under her. During her temporary administration, the queen balanced all things with an extra

[ocr errors]

ordinary temper; and became universally beloved and admired by all around her."

Meantime the dangers increased on every side. James bad some success in Ireland, the French were masters at sea, and William, beside the perils of the field, had good reason to fear assassination from his popish subjects. “In all this time of fear and disorder, the queen showed an extraordinary firmness ; for though she was fall of dismal thoughts, yet she put on her ordinary cheerfulness when she appeared in publick, and shewed no unbecoming concern: her behaviour was in all respects heroical; she apprehended the greatness of our danger ; but she committed herself to God, and was resolved to expose herself, if occasion should require it;" for invasion in England was feared from the French, while William was engaged in Ireland. The battle of the Boyne greatly lessened these dangers: when news of it was brought to Mary, her joy seemed in suspense, till she heard that the late king, her father, had escaped. Speaking of the state of the country soon after this, the historian writes

si It had been happy for us, if such dismal accidents had struck us with a deeper sense of the judgment of God. We were indeed brought to more of an outward face of virtue and sobriety: and the great example that the king and queen set the nation, had made some cona siderable alterations as to publick practices; a disbelief of revealed religion, and a profane mocking at the Christian faith, and the mysteries of it, became avoided and scandalous. The queen, in the king's absence, gave orders to execute the laws against drunkenness, swearing, and the profanation of the Lord's day: and sent directions over England to all magistrates to do their duty in executing them; to which the king joined his authority, upon his return to England. Yet the Re formation of manners, which some zealous men studied to promote, went on but slowly: many of the inferior magistrates were not only very remiss, but very faulty

[ocr errors]

themselves; they did all they could to discourage those who endeavoured to have vice suppressed and punished: and it must be confessed, that the behaviour of many clergymen gave atheists no small advantage.”

“ Upon the whole, the nation was falling under such a general corruption, both as to morals and principles, and that was so much spread among all sorts of people, that it gave us great apprehensions of heavy judgments from Heaven."

Mary's pious mind must naturally, suffer much front the contemplation of her people's corruption, feeling in some degree herself responsible for their improvement; yet finding it beyond even the power and influence of royalty to infuse that principle of religion, which could alone give a check to their immoralities. We find in another account of her that this was in fact the case, and that Mary's mind suffered much depression on account of her ill success- “ How good soever she was in her: self, she carried a heavy load upon her mind: the deep sense she had of the guilt and judgments that were hanging over us, as no doubt it gave her many afflicting thoughts in the presence of God, so it broke often out in many sad strains, to those to whom she gave her thoughts freer vent. The impieties' and blasphemies; the open contempt of religion, and the scorn of virtue, that she heard on all sides, and in so many different corners of the nation, gave her a secret horror, and offered so black a prospect, that it filled her with melancholy reflections, and engaged her in much secret mourn. ing. This touched her the more sensibly, when she heard that some, who pretended to much zeal for the crown, and the present establishment, seemed from thence to think they had some right to be indulged in their licentiousness and other irregularities. She often said, Can a blessing be expected from such hands, or any thing that must pass through them?? She had a just esteem for all persons as she found them truly vir tuous and religious: nor could any other considerations

have a great effect upon her, when these were wanting. She made a great difference between those that were convinced of the principles of religion, how fatally soever they might be shut up from having their due effect on them, and those who had quite thrown them off: where these were quite extinguished, no hope was left, nor foundation to build upon; but where they remained, how feeble or inactive soever, there was a seed still within them, that at some time or other, and

upon some happy occasion might shoot and grow. Next to open iniquity, the coldness, the want of heat and life in those who pretended to religion, the deadness and disunion of the whole body of Protestants, and the weakness, the humours, and affectations, of some who seemed to have good intentions, did very sensibly affect her. She said often with feeling and cutting regret, Can such dry bones live?' The last great project that her thoughts were working upon, with relation to a noble and royal provision for maimed and decayed seamen, was particularly designed to be so constituted, as to put them in a probable way of ending their days in the fear of God.” She hearkened carefully to every thing that seemed to give some hope that the next generation should be better than the present, with particular attention. She heard of a spirit of piety and devotion that was spreading itself among the youth of this great city with a true satisfaction; she inquired often and much about it, and was glad to hear it went on and prevailed. “ She lamented that whereas the devotions of the Church of Rome were all show, and made up of pomp and pageantry, that we were too bare and naked, and practised not enough to entertain a serious temper, or a warm and affectionate heart: we might have light enough to direct, but we wanted flame to raise an exalted devotion."

(To be continued.)

« AnteriorContinuar »