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he did not scruple to sacrifice the feelings of humanity, the lives of his subjects, and the interests of his country. And nothing could have induced or enabled his people to bear the load of taxes with which they were encumbered in his reign, but the love and admiration of his person, the fame of his victories, and the excellent laws and regulations which the parliament enacted with his advice and concurrence.
CHARACTER OF RICHARD II. ALL the writers who have transmitted to us the history of Richard, composed their works during the reign of the Lancastrian princes; and candour requires that we should not give entire credit to the reproaches which have been thrown upon his memory. But, after making all proper abatements, he still appears to have been a weak prince, and unfit for government; less for want of natural parts and capacity, than of solid judgment and good education. He was violent in his temper, profuse in his expenses, fond of idle show and magnificence, devoted to favourites, and addicted to pleasure ; passions, all of them, the most inconsistent with a prudent economy, and consequently dangerous in a limited and mixed government. Had he possessed the talents of gaining, and, still more, of overawing his great barons, he might have escaped all the misfortunes of his reign, and been allowed to carry much further his oppressions over his people, if he really was guilty of any, without their daring to rebel, or even
murmur against him. But when the grandees were tempted, by his want of prudence and rigour, to resist his authority, and execute the most violent enterprises upon him, he was naturally led to seek for an opportunity of retaliation ; justice was neglected; the lives of the chief nobility sacrificed ; and all these evils seem to have proceeded more from a settled design of establishing arbitrary power, than from the insolence of victory, and the necessities of king's situation. The manners, indeed, of the age, were the chief sources of such violence; laws, which were feebly executed in peaceable times, lost all their authority in public convulsions. Both parties were alike guilty; or, if any difference may be remarked between them, we shall find the authority of the crown, being more legal, was commonly carried, when it prevailed, to less desperate extremities than those of aristocracy, Hume.
CHARACTER OF HENRY IV. The great popularity which Henry enjoyed before he attained the crown, and which had so much aided him in the acquisition of it, was entirely lost, many years before the end of his reign, and he governed the people more by terrour than affection, more by his own policy than their sense of duty and allegiance. When men came to reflect in cold blood on the crinies which led him to the throne, and the rebellion against his prince; the deposition of a lawful king, guilty sometimes of oppression, but more frequently of imprndences; the exclusion of the true heir; the murder of his sovereign and near relation; these were such enormities, as drew on him the hatred of his subjects, sanctified all the rebellions against him, and made the executions, though not remarkably severe, which he found necessary for the maintenance of his authority, appear cruel as well as iniquitous to his people. Yet, without pretending to apologize for these crimes, which must ever be held in detestation, it may be remarked, that he was insensibly led into this blameable conduct by a train of incidents, which few men possess virtue enongh to withstand. The injustice with which his predecessor had treated him, in first condemning him to banishment, and then despoiling him of his patrimony, made him naturally think of revenge, and of recovering his lost rights; the headstrong zeal of the people hurried bim into the throne; the care of his own security, as well as his ambition, made him an usurper; and the steps have always been so few between the prisons of princes and their graves, that we need not wonder that Richard's fate was no exception to the general rule. All these considerations made the king's situation, if he retained any sense of virtue, very much to be lamented; and the inquietudes with which he possessed his envied greatness, and the remorses by which, it is said, he was continually haunted, rendered him an object of our pity, even when seated upon the throne. But it must be owned, that his prudence, vi. gilance, and foresight in maintaining his power, were admirable ; his command of temper remarkable; his courage, both military and political, without blemish : and he possessed many qualities, which fitted him for his high station, and which rendered his usurpation of it, though pernicious in after times, rather salutary, during his own reign, to the English nation. Hume.
CHARACTER OF HENRY V.
This prince possessed many eminent virtues; and, if we give indulgence to ambition in a monarch, or rank it, as the vulgar do, among his virtues, they were unstained by any considerable blemish; his abilities appeared equally in the cabinet and in the field : the boldness of his enterprises was no less remarkable than his personal valour in conducting them. He had the talent of attaching his friends by affability, and gaining his enemies by address and clemency.
The English, dazzled by the lustre of his character, and still more by that of his victories, were reconciled to the defects of his title. The French almost forgot he was an enemy; and his care of maintaining justice in his civil administration, and preserving discipline in his armies, made some amends to both nations for the calamities inseparable from those wars in which his short reign was almost occupied. That he could forgive the earl of Marche, who had a better right to the throne than himself, is a siire proof of his magnanimity; and that the earl relied so on his friendship, is no less a proof of his established character for candour and sincerity.
There remain, in history, few instances of such VOL, IV.
mutual trust; and still fewer, where neither found reason to repent it.
The exterior figure of this great prince, as well as his deportment, was engaging. His stature was somewhat above the middle size; his countenance beautiful, his limbs genteel and slender, but full of vigour; and he excelled in all warlike and manly exercises.
CHARACTER OF HENRY VI.
• This insurrection * in all probability hastened the death of the unfortonate Henry, who was found dead in the Tower, in which he had been confined since the restoration of Edward. The greater part of historians have alleged, that he was assassinated by the duke of Gloucester, who was a prince of the most brutal disposition; while some moderns, from an affectation of singularity, affirm that Henry died of grief and vexation. This doubt, might have been the case; and it must be owned that nothing appears in history, from which either Edward or Richard could be convicted of having contrived or perpetrated his murder: but, at the same time, we must observe some concurring circumstances that amount to strong presumption against the reigning monarch. Henry was of a hale constitution, but just turned of fifty, naturally insensible of affliction, and hackneyed in the vicissitudes of fortune, so that one would not expect he should have died of age and infirmity, or that his life would have been affected
* Revolt of Falconbridge.