« AnteriorContinuar »
From such a school it might have been expected that a young man who wanted neither abilities nor amiable qualities would have come forth a great and good king.
5. Charles came forth from that school with social habits, with polite and engaging manners, and with some talent for lively conversation; addicted beyond measure to sensual indulgence, fond of sauntering and of frivolous amusements, incapable of self-denial and of exertion, without faith in human virtue or in human attachment, without desire of renown, and without sensibility to reproach.
6. According to him, every person was to be bought. But some people haggled more about their price than others; and when this haggling was very obstinate and very skillful, it was called by some fine name. The chief trick by which clever men kept up the price of their abilities was called integrity. * * * *
7. The love of God, the love of country, the love of family, the love of friends, were phrases of the same sort, — delicate and convenient synonyms for the love of self. Thinking thus of mankind, Charles naturally cared very little what they thought of him. Honor and shame were scarcely more to him than light and darkness to the blind. His contempt of flattery has been highly commended, but seems, when viewed in connection with the rest of his character, to deserve no commendation.
8. It is possible, to be below flattery, as well as above it. One who trusts nobody will not trust sycophants. One who does not value real glory will not value its counterfeit. It is creditable to Charles' temper that, ill as he thought of his species, he never became a misanthrope. He saw little in men but what was hateful. Yet he did not hate them. Nay, he was so far humane that it was highly disagreeable to him to see their sufferings or to hear their complaints.
9. This, however, is a sort of humanity which, though amiable and laudable in a private man whose power to help or hurt is bounded by a narrow circle, has in princes often been rather a vice than a virtue. More than one well-disposed ruler has given up whole provinces to rapine and oppression, merely from a wish to see none but happy faces round his own board and in his own walks.
10. No man is fit to govern great societies who hesitates about disobliging the few who have access to him for the sake of the many whom he will never see. The facility of Charles was such as has perhaps never been found in any man of equal sense. He was a slave, without being a dupe. Worthless men and women, to the very bottom of whose hearts he saw, and whom he knew to be destitute of affection for him and undeserving of his confidence, could easily wheedle him out of titles, places, domains, state secrets, and pardons.
11. He bestowed much; yet he neither enjoyed the pleasure nor acquired the fame of beneficence. He never gave spontaneously; but it was painful to him to refuse. The consequence was, that his bounty generally went, not to those who deserved it best, nor even to those whom he liked best, but to the most shameless and importunate suitor who could obtain an audience.
12. The motives which governed the political conduct of Charles the Second differed widely from those by which his predecessor and his successor were actuated. He was not a man to be imposed upon by the patriarchal theory of government, and the doctrine of divine right. He was utterly without ambition. He detested business, and would sooner have abdicated his crown than have undergone the trouble of really directing the administration.
13. Such was his aversion to toil, and such his ignorance of affairs, that the very clerks who attended him when he sat in council could not refrain from sneering at his frivolous remarks, and at his childish impatience. Neither gratitude nor revenge had any share in determining his course; for never was there a mind on which both services and injuries left such faint and transitory impressions.
14. He wished merely to be a king such as Louis the Fifteenth of France afterwards was; a king who could drawwithout limit on the treasury for the gratification of his private tastes, who could hire with wealth and honors persons capable of assisting him to kill the time, and who, even when the state was brought by maladministration to the depths of humiliation and to the brink of ruin, could still exclude unwelcome truth, and refuse to see and hear whatever might disturb his luxurious repose.
15. For these ends, and for these ends alone, he wished to obtain arbitrary power, if it could be obtained without risk or trouble. In the religious disputes which divided his Protestant subjects his conscience was not at all interested. For his o'pinions oscillated in a state of contented suspense between infidelity and popery. But, though his conscience was neutral in the quarrel between the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians, his taste was by no means so.
16. His favorite vices were precisely those to which the Puritans were least indulgent. He could not get through one day without the help of diversions which the Puritans regarded as sinful. As a man eminently well-bred and keenly sensible of the ridiculous, he was moved to contemptuous mirth by the Puritan oddities.
17. He had, indeed, some reason to dislike the rigid sect. He had, at the age when the passions are most impetuous, and when levity is most pardonable, spent some months in Scotland, a king in name, but in fact a state prisoner in the hands of austere Presbyterians. Not content with requiring him to conform to their worship and to subscribe their covenant, they had watched all his motions, and lectured him on all his youthful follies.
18. He had been compelled to give reluctant attendance at endless prayers and sermons, and might think himself fortunate when he was not insolently reminded from the pulpit of his own frailties, of his father's tyranny, and of his mother's idolatry. Indeed, he had been so miserable during this part of his life, that the defeat which made him again a wanderer might be regarded as a deliverance rather than as a calamity. Under the influence of such feelings as these, Charles wi\s desirous to depress the party which had resisted his father.
Paris. —N. P. Willis.
1. The most forcible lesson one learns at Paris is the value of time and money. I have always been told, erroneously, that it was a place to waste both. You could do so much with another hour, if you had it, and buy so much with another dollar, if you could afford it, that the reflected economy upon what you can command is inevitable.
2. As to the worth of time, for instance, there are some twelve or fourteen gratuitous lectures every day at the Sorbonne, the School of Medicine, and the College of France, by men like Cuvier, Say, Spurzheim,* and others, each in his professed pursuit the most eminent, perhaps, in the world; and there are the Louvre, and the Royal Library, and the
* The first syllable of this name is pronounced as if there were a t before the z.
Mazarin Library, and similar public institutions, all open to gratuitous use,* with obsequious attendants, warm rooms, materials for writing, and perfect seclusion; to say nothing of the thousand interesting but less useful resorts with which Paris abounds, such as exhibitions of flowers, porcelains, mosaics, and curious handiwork of every description, and (more amusing and time-killing still) the never-ending changes of sights in the public places, from distinguished foreigners down to miracles of educated monkeys.
3. Life seems most provokingly short, as you look at it. Then, for money, you are more puzzled how to spend a poor pitiful franc in Paris (it will buy so many things you want) than you would be in America with the outlay of a month's income. Be as idle and extravagant as you will, your idle hours look you in the face as they pass, to know whether, in spite of the increase of their value, you really mean to waste them; and the money that slipped through your pocket you know not how at home, sticks embarrassed to your fingers, from the mere multiplicity of demands made for it.
4. There are shops, all over Paris, where every article is fixed at the price of twenty-five cents! They contain everything you want, except a wife and fire-wood — the only two things difficult to be got in France. (The latter, with or without a pun, is much the dearer of the two.) I wonder that they are not bought out and sent over to America on speculation. There is scarce an article in them that would not be held cheap with us at five times its purchase.
5. There are bronze standishes for ink, sand and wafers, pearl paper-cutters, spice-lamps, decanters, essence-bottles, sets of china, table-bells of all devices, mantel-ornaments, vases of artificial flowers, kitchen utensils, dog-collars, canes, guard-chains, chessmen, whips, hammers, brushes, and everything that is either convenient or pretty. You might freight a ship with them, and all good and well-finished, at twentyfive cents the set.
* Highly as we appreciate the blessings of our own political institutions, the old world — at least, some parts of it—may furnish us one contrast in its own favor; and that is the freedom with which their most valuable institutions.are thrown open to the gratuitous use of the public. What blessing could the liberality of our government, state or national, bestow, of more universal extent, and of greater value, than the open doors of large and valuable libraries, galleries of paintings, halls of statuary, and collections of the curiosities of nature and of art, with public baths, gymnasiums, &c., &c. 7
The Apollo Belvidere and the Venus de Medici*—Originai
1. The two most splendid specimens of ancient sculpture which now remain are the statues of Apollo Belvidere and of Venus de Medici; the former of which is in the Vatican'! in Rome, the latter in the ducal gallery at Florence.
2. The Apollo takes its name from the pavilion of Belvidere in the Vatican, where it is at present deposited. It was found at the end of the fifteenth century, in the ruins of Antium, an ancient city of the Volsci, on the Tuscan Sea, destroyed by the Saracens. It was carried to Paris in 1797, but, with other treasures of art, was restored to Rome in 1815. It is pronounced the best and most perfect specimen of sculpture that art can produce.
3. The Venus de Medici, " the statue which enchants the world," was discovered in the villa of Adrian at Tivoli, the favorite country-seat of the ancient Romans, and carried to Florence in 1695, where it was named from the noble family of the Medici, into whose possession it fell. When discovered, it was broken into thirteen pieces, and a Florentine sculptor was employed to restore it.
4. This beautiful specimen of art is four feet eleven inches and four twelfths in height, and has long been the subject of the highest admiration of all who have been so fortunate as to behold it, "exceeding, beyond all competition, every image of loveliness, painted or sculptured, that one has ever before seen." One of our gifted countrymen, in speaking of this remarkable specimen of art, says, "Her divine beauty filled and satisfied my eye as nothing else ever did. It is as unlike a thing to the casts we see of it as one thing could well be unlike another.
5. -"There is an atmosphere of fame and circumstantial interest about the Venus, which bewilders the fancy almost as much as her loveliness does the eye. She has been gazed upon and admired by troops of pilgrims, each of whom it were worth half a life to have met at her pedestal. The painters, the poets, the talent and beauty, that have come there from
* The last syllable of this name is pronounced che.
t The Vatican is the most extensive and celebrated palace of modern Rome. It received its name from the Vatican Hill, on which it was built. It contains, as is said, eleven thousand rooms. It was formerly the residence of the popes.