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barbarous age, he was deprived of historians worthy to transmit his fame to posterity; and we wish to see him delineated in more lively colours, and with more particular strokes, that we might at least perceive some of those small specks and blemishes, from which, as a man, it is impossible he could be entirely exempted.
Character of QUEEN ELIZABETH.
THERE are few personages in history, who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies, and the adulation of friends, than queen Elizabeth; and yet there scarcely is any, whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, and the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejudices; and, obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have, at last, in spite of political factions, and what is more, of religious animosities, produced a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, and address, are allowed to merit the highest praises; and appear not to have been surpassed by any person who ever filled a throne: a conduct less rigorous, less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a perfect character. By the force of her mind, she controlled all her more active, and stronger qualities; and prevented them from running into excess. Her heroism was exempted from all temerity; her frugality from avarice; her friendship from partiality; her enterprise from turbulency and a vain ambition. She guarded not herself, with equal care, or equal success, from less infirmities? the rivalship of
beauty, the desire of admiration, the jealousy of love, and the sallies of anger.
Her singular talents for government, were founded equally on her temper and on her capacity. Endowed with a great command over herself, she soon obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over the people. Few sovereigns of England succeeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances; and none ever conducted the government with so uniform success and felicity.Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration, the true secret for managing religious factions, she preserved her people, by her superior prudence, from those confusions in which theological controversy had involved all the neighbouring nations; and though her enemies were the most powerful princes of Europe, the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous, she was able,, by her vigour, to make deep impressions on their state; her own greatness meanwhile remaining untouched and unimpaired..
The wise ministers and brave men who flourished during her reign, share the praise of her success; but instead of lessening the applause due to her, they make great addition to it. They owed, all of them, their advancement to her choice; they were supported by her constancy; and, with all their ability, they were never able to acquire an undue ascendant over her. In her family, in her court, in her kingdom, she remained. equally mistress. The force of the tender passions was great over her, but the force of her mind was still superior: and the combat which her victory visibly cost her, serves only to display the firmness of her resolution, and the loftiness of her ambitious sentiments..
The fame of this princess, though it has surmounted the prejudices both of faction and of bigotry, yet lies still exposed to another prejudice, which is more durable, because more natural; and which, according to the different views in which we survey her, is capable either of exalting beyond measure, or diminish
This prejudice is
ing the lustre of her character. founded on the consideration of her sex. When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her qualities and extensive capacity; but we are also apt to require some more softness of disposition, some greater lenity of temper, some of those amiable weaknesses by which her sex is distinguished. But the true method of estimating her merit, is, to lay aside all these considerations; and to consider her merely as a rational being, placed in authority, and intrusted with the government of mankind.
The slavery of vice.
THE slavery produced by vice appears in the dependence under which it brings the sinner, to circumstances of external fortune. One of the favourite characters of liberty, is the independence it bestows. He who is truly a freeman, is above all servile compliances, and abject subjection. He is able to rest upon himself; and while he regards his superiors with proper defe rence, neither debases himself by cringing to them, nor is tempted to purchase their favour by dishonourable means. But the sinner has forfeited every privilege of this nature. His passions and habits render him an absolute dependent on the world, and the world's favour; on the uncertain goods of fortune, and the fickle humours of mep. For it is by these he subsists, and among these his happiness is sought; according as his passions determine him to pursue pleasures, riches, or preferments. Having no fund within himself whence to draw enjoyment, his only resource is in things withHis hopes and fears all hang upon the world He partakes in all its vicissitudes; and is moved and
shaken by every wind of fortune. This is to be, in the strictest sense, a slave to the world.
Religion and virtue, on the other hand, confer on the mind principles of noble independence. "The upright man is satisfied from himself. He despises not the advantages of fortune, but he centres not his happiness in them. With a moderate share of them he can be contented; and contentment is felicity. Happy in his own integrity, conscious of the esteem of good men, reposing firm trust in the providence, and the promises of God, he is exempted from servile dependence on other things. He can wrap himself up in a good conscience, and look forward, without terror, to the change of the world. Let all things shift around him as they please, he believes that, by the Divine ordination, they shall be made to work together in the issue for his good; and therefore, having much to hope from God, and little to fear from the world, he can be easy in every state. One who possesses within himself such an establishment of mind, is truly free. But shall I call that man free, who has nothing that is his own, property assured; whose very heart is not his own, but rendered the appendage of external things, and the sport of fortune? Is that man free, let his outward condition be ever so splendid, whom his imperious passions detain at their call, whom they send forth at their pleasure, to drudge and toil, and to beg his only enjoyment from the casualities of the world? Is he free, who must flatter and lie to compass his ends; who must bear with this man's caprice, and that man's scorn; must profess friendship where he hates, and respect where he contemns; who is not at liberty to appear in his own colours, nor to speak his own sentiments; who dares not be honest, lest he should be poor!-Believe it, no chains bind so hard, no fetters are so heavy, as those which fasten the corrupted heart to this treacherous world; no dependence is more contemptible than that under which the volup
tuous, the covetous, or the ambitious man, lies to the means of pleasure, gain, or power. Yet this is the boasted liberty, which vice promises, as the recompense of setting us free from the salutary restraints of virtue.
The man of integrity.
Br will not take much time to delineate the charac ter of the man of integrity, as by its nature it is a plain one, and easily understood. He is one, who makes it his constant rule to follow the road of duty, according as the word of God, and the voice of his conscience, point it out to him. He is not guided merely by affections, which may sometimes give the colour of virtue to a loose and unstable character. The upright man is guided by a fixed principle of mind, which determines him to esteem nothing but what is honourable; and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy, in moral conduct. Hence we find him ever the same; at all times, the trusty friend, the affectionate relation, the conscientious man of business, the pious worshipper, the public spirited citi zen. He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him; for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be, full of truth, candour, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path, but the fair and direct one; and would much rather fail of success, than attain it by reproachful means. He never shows us a smiling countenance, while he meditates evil against us in his heart. He never praises us among our friends; and then joins in traducing us among our enemies. We shall never find one part of his character at variance with another. In his manners, he is simple and unaffected; in all his proceedings, open and consistent.