« ÎnapoiContinuați »
by grief arising from his last disaster. His sudden death was suspicious, as well as the conjuncture at which he died, immediately after the suppression of a rebellion, which seemed to declare that Edward would never be quiet, while the head of the house of Lancaster remained alive: and lastly, the suspicion is confirmed by the characters of the reigning king and his brother Richard, who were bloody, barbarous, and unrelenting. Very đifferent was the disposition of the ill-fated Henry, who, without any princely virtue or qualification, was totally free from cruelty or revenge; on the contrary, he could not, without reluctance, consent to the punishment of those malefactors who were sacrificed to the public safety; and frequently sustained indignities of the grossest nature, without discovering the least mark of resentment. He was chaste, pious, compassionate, and charitable; and so inoffensive, that the bishop, who was his confessor for ten years, declares, that in all that time he had never committed any sin that required penance or rebuke. In a word, he would have adorned a cloister, though he disgraced a crown; and was rather respectable for those vices he wanted, than for those virtues he possessed. He founded the colleges of Eton and Windsor, and King's College in Cambridge, for the reception of those scholars who had begun their studies at Eton.
On the morning that succeeded his death, his body was exposed at St. Paul's Church, in order to prevent unfavourable conjectures, and, next day, sent by water to the abbey of Chertsey, where he was interred: but it was afterwards removed, by order of Richard III., to Windsor, and there buried with great funeral solemnity.
CHARACTER OF EDWARD IV.
WHEN Edward ascended the throne, he was one of the handsomest men in England, and perhaps in Europe. His noble mien, his free and easy way, his affable carriage, won the hearts of all at first sight. These qualities gained him esteem and affection, which stood him in great stead in several circumstances of his life. For some time he was exceedingly liberal: but at length he grew covetous, not so much from his natural temper, as out of a necessity to bear the immediate expenses which his pleasures ran him into.
Though he had a great deal of wit, and a sound judgment, he committed, however, several overa sights. But the crimes Edward is most justly charged with, are his cruelty, perjury, and incon-. tinence. The first appears in the great number of princes and lords he put to death on the scaffold, after he had taken them in battle. If there ever was reason to show mercy in case of rebellion, it was at that fatal time, when it was almost inpossible to stand neuter, and so difficult to choose the justest side between the two houses that were contending for the crown.
And yet we do not see that Edward had any regard to that consideration. As for Edward's incontinence, one may say, that his whole life was. one continued scene of excess that way; he had abundance of mistresses, but especially three, of whom he said, that one was the merriest, the other the wittiest, and the other the holiest in the world, since she would not stir from the church but when he sent for her. What is most astonishing in the life of this prince is his good fortune, which seemed to be prodigious.
He was raised to the throne, after the loss of two battles, one by the duke his father, the other by the earl of Warwick, who was devoted to the house of York. The head of the father was still upon the walls of York, when the son was proclaimed in London.
Edward escaped, as it were, by miracle, out of his confinement at Middleham. He was restored to the throne, or at least received into London, at his return from Holland, before he had overcome, and whilst his fortune yet depended upon the issue of a battle, which the earl of Warwick was ready to give him. In a word, he was ever victorious in all the battles wherein he fought in person. Edward died the 9th of April, in the 42d year of his age, after a reign of twenty-two years and one month.
IMMEDIATELY after the death of the fourth Edward, his son was proclaimed king of England, by the name of Edward V. though that young prince was but just turned of twelve years of age, never received the crown, nor exercised any function of royalty; so that the interval between the death of his father, and the usurpation of his uncle, the duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III. was properly an interregnum, during which the uncle took his measures for wresting the crown from his nephew.
CHARACTER OF RICHARD III. THOSE historians who favour Richard, for even he has met partizans among later writers, maintain that he was well qualified for government, had he legally obtained it; and that he committed no crimes but such as were necessary to procure him possession of the crown; but this is a very poor apology, when it is confessed that he was ready to commit the most horrid crimes which appeared necessary for that purpose ; and it is certain that all his courage and capacity, qualities in which he really seems not to have been deficient, would never have made compensation to the people, for the danger of the precedent, and for the contagious example of vice and murder, exalted upon the throne. This prince was of small stature, hump-backed, and had a very harsh disagreeable visage; so that his body was in every particular no less deformed than his mind.
CHARACTER OF HENRY VII.
The reign of Henry VII. was in the main for. tonate for his people at home, and honourable abroad. He put an end to the civil wars with which the nation had been so long harassed; he maintained peace and order to the state; he depressed the former exorbitant power of the nobility; and, together with the friendship of some foreign princes, he acquired the consideration and regard of all.
He loved peace, without fearing war; thongh agitated with criminal suspicions of his servants and ministers, he discovered no timidity, either in the conduct of his affairs, or in the day of battle; and, though often severe in his punishments, he was commonly less actuated by revenge than by the maxims of policy.
The services which he rendered his people were derived from his views of private interest, rather than the motives of public spirit; and where he deviated from selfish regards, it was unknown to himself, and ever from malignant prejudices, or the mean projects of avarice; not from the sallies of passion, or allurements of pleasure ; still less from the benign motives of friendship and generosity.
His capacity was excellent, but somewhat contracted by the narrowness of his heart; he possessed insinuation and address, but never employed these talents except some great point of interest was to be gained; and while he neglected to conciliate the affections of his people, he often felt the danger of resting his authority on their fear and reverence alone. He was always extremely attentive to his affairs; but possessed not the faculty of seeing far into futurity; and was more expert at promoting a remedy for his mistakes,