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he did respect her. And when it is considered that she was educated in the seclusion of a convent, and was profoundly ignorant of the world, its usages, and its history, till she became the wife of Charles, and therefore must have depended solely on the intuitive instincts of her own head and heart—her own good sense and feelings—to direct her course ; for counsellors she had none, or such only as would, if they could, have led her to her ruin; we think it no common praise to say, that that course was not only blameless but highly honourable.
We have spoken of some discrepancies in her conduct; we might have confined ourselves to the singular number, for, with the exception of her sudden and unexpected familiarity with Lady Castlemaine, we recollect no other; and for this we think Miss Strickland has suggested not only a sufficient, but even a favourable solution ; in the fear which Catharine might have entertained, that if she furher opposed the will of her unreasonable husband, she might have endangered the permanence of his good-will to Portugal, and that, too, at a crisis when the withdrawment of his friendship would have been a death-blow to the new-born independence of the country. If the action were blameable, the motive may excuse it; with all who are fallible themselves it ought to do so.
The queen, of her own free will, was not entangled in the maze of politics ; but the peculiar circumstances of the king and kingdom, the objections of the nation to the accession of the Duke of York, and the unscrupulous proceedings of his enemies and her's, have invested a part of the life of Catharine with a political importance which it would not otherwise have attained. As she brought no heir to the kingdom, nothing of course intervened between the accession of James, but the life of King Charles; and it became the object of those statesmen who wished to exclude the duke from the succession, to provide the king, if possible, another heir. This, they concluded, was only to be done by procuring for the king another wife; and as Charles had steadily refused to countenance their scheme for divorcing him from Catharine, for that which he justly said was no fault of hers, and for the sole and sufficiently obvious purpose of excluding from the throne a brother to whom he was strongly and steadily attached, they did not scruple to attempt the gaining of their end by implicating Catherine in the popish plot. In this case also, the king, much to his credit, stood forth as her defender; till, the credit of Oates and Bedlow being lost, and the practices of Shaftesbury exposed, the poor queen was at length allowed to live in peace,
On the death of Charles, which took place unexpectedly, in February, 1685, the relative position of Catharine was of course completely altered; she could be no longer an object of animosity or jealousy to any party; and James II. and his queen appear to have treated her with the greatest kindness. She remained in England for some years after the accession of William, and quitted it finally in the Spring of 1692, having lived in it for seven years after her widowhood, and thirty years altogether, wanting seven weeks. After her return to her native country, she proved herself to be possessed of powers of mind, and talents for government, which had been held so completely in abeyance during her residence in England, that the existence of them was not even suspected. She governed her native country with such success during the temporary withdrawment of her brother, Don Pedro, that in the following year, when he was laid aside by dangerous illness, she was constituted Queen Regent of Portugal, and carried on a most successful war against Philip of Anjou, the French King of Spain. She survived till 1706.
We have no particular objection to make to any of the authorities on which this latter biography is founded; though we consider it necessary to notice some of the inferences which Miss Strickland has deduced from them. There are two or three persons against whom she appears to be determined to discharge a shaft, whenever she can find one; and the party historians of the times on which she has been writing, will furnish her with plenty : but this does not appear to satisfy her, unless she adds a barb or two herself. William the Third, Bishop Burnett, and Algernon Sidney, are especial marks for her archery. Perhaps, William the Third is no great favourite of ours; he might have little head, and still less heart: but though a man may have but little heart, it does not follow that that little should be altogether bad; and where the proof of its depravity is offered in the shape of a proceeding which would militate against his own interest, the fact is doubly questionable. Catharine had sent a message by our ambassador to the prince and princess of Orange, instead of writing to them; and this, says Miss Strickland,
. May appear somewhat cool, considering the nearness of the connexion ; but Catharine was no dissembler, and she had little reason to feel kindness for those who had encouraged the fabrications of the murderous false witness, that had so recently been aimed against her life, in the business of the popish plot. Catharine had probably pretty correct information of the share the prince of Orange had in that great iniquity, which he afterwards proclaimed to the whole world, by pensioning the notorious tool of the exclusionists, Titus Oates.'— p. 429.
Now, in the first place, it does not follow, that if William
'encouraged'the exclusionists in their policy, he also encouraged them in procuring 'false witness ’ to carry out their plans; he might not even know that they employed it; he left, in all probability, the details to them : and whatever might have been his object, it never would have been the destruction of Queen Catharine, unless he was labouring with one hand to prevent that which he was forwarding with the other. The setting aside of James from the succession he might have wished, in order to secure his own; but for the very same reason it was his interest to prevent both the death and repudiation of the queen ; since the immediate effect of either would have been, that Charles would have taken another consort, by whom, in all probability, he might have had children, who would have excluded William from the throne. As to the pensioning of Oates, the case is not fairly stated. The pension was conferred in the first instance by Charles the Second, to the amount of £1,200 ; James the Second took away the pension, and subjected Oates to deprivation and severe corporal punishment; which, though richly deserved, were nevertheless a violation of the constitution, and of the laws of the land; while they were endured by Oates with a calmness and firmness of mind, which almost entitle him to something like respect.* .
William the Third restored to Oates, not his original pension, but little more than one half of it, £700 we believe; with which that worthy himself, and his party were so little satisfied, that it was made for some time a constant cause of complaint. It is idle to say, that Charles did not wish to pension Oates, but that William did it willingly ; because there is no authority for the assertion ;-if the two monarchs rewarded Oates of their own accord, Charles was worse than William, for he gave the larger pension ; if it was the work of their respective ministers, Wil. liam was no worse than Charles : probably they both yielded to the clamour of the times.
Algernon Sidney has of late years been made the object of attack by every jacobite, tory, conservative, protectionist, 'aut quocunque alio nomine vocatur,' who delights in bolstering up the cause of arbitrary power.
They have tried their best to support it, and have verified the old proverb that 'bad is the best ;' and now comes Miss Strick. land, and, in addition to the props and buttresses already applied, with her little lady-like hammer, and some small complacency, drives in two tin tacks, to assist in keeping up the fabric.
That Sidney was not perfect we are quite ready to admit, but he was much more so than the majority of the public men of
• Dr. Calamy, who was an eye witness of part of his public sufferings, is our authority for this statement.
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his day. Against his private character no one can cast reflections; and we see no reason why his political morality should be tried by another test than that of his contemporaries. They seemed to consider that the end sanctified the means, and most of them, it must be granted, acted in conformity with the maxim. We were quite aware that Sidney accepted money from the king of France; but the admissions of Miss Strickland herself, (for we will try her on her own merits, without reference to any graver authority,) are quite sufficient to show for what purpose he accepted it.
• The following passage, quoted by the present accomplished premier of France, M. Guizot,' (we knew it all before, without M.Guizot,) * in his noble work, the Course of Civilization, from the notes kept by Louis xiv. of the personal transactions of the year 1666, will show the principles of the all but deified Algernon Sidney in their true colours.' It will so: and we beg the attention of the reader to our italics.
I had this morning,' says Louis, 'a conversation with M. de Sidney, an English gentleman, who has made me understand the possibility of re-animating the republican party in England. M. de Sidney demands of me, for that purpose, 400,000 livres. I have told him that I could not give him more than 200,000. He has engaged me to draw from Switzerland, another English gentleman of the name of Ludlow, and to confer with him on the same design. Ludlow himself, in his memoir, says, 'I have received from the French government an invitation to come to Paris, to discuss the affairs of my country, but I distrust the French government.'-p. 365, and note. Barillon, who informs Louis that he has given the money ordered, to Sidney, bears testimony to his consistency, by saying, 'he always appeared to me to have the same sentiments, and not to have changed maxims.'-p. 422, note.
Sidney was an enthusiastic republican, a hater of tyranny, civil and religious. Granted, that he did not pursue his ends in accordance with the stricter and better maxims of the nine
* Miss Strickland takes another opportunity (p. 158, note) of lauding M. Guizot, for having made a discovery which (she says) has escaped the research of our English writers, viz., that President Bradshaw, fearing an inbreak’ of the people, at the trial of the king, had his high-crowned puritan hat lined with iron.' Why, everybody knows that : the hat itself is in existence; we have seen it ourselves, we believe in the museum at Oxford :- if our memory serves us rightly, a black hat with a narrow brim, and a crown somewhat high and tapering, lined inside with strips of iron vertically arranged. Whether it is the real hat, we cannot pretend to say nor does it signify : the very circumstance that such a hat is shown in one of our national depositories, is sufficient proof that the fact itself is perfectly notorious. VOL. XX.
teenth century; but if he is to be judged of fairly, it must be hy comparing him with the opinions and practices of statesmen of his own age, and not with those of another and a more enlightened era. In his accession to the Rye-house plot we do not believe; but even if he had participated in it, his trial, the manner in which he was convicted, and his execution, were violations of law and justice quite as flagrant as those which were committed in the case of the Viscount Strafford; on whose hard and unmerited fate. Miss Strickland is so pathetic :-we do not blame the pathos, but only the partiality with which it is bestowed.
The following short extract may serve to show the animus of Miss Strickland towards Algernon Sidney; and therefore to determine, quoad hoc, the value of her strictures on him.
· This change (to confidence and kindness between Charles and Catharine,) was contemplated with uneasiness by men whose bearts the demon of party had hardened againsť every good feeling and virtuous sympathy. Mr. Sidney, in a letter to the Prince of Orange, dated June 28th, says, “I delivered a compliment from your Highness to the Duchess of Portsmouth, which she took extremely well; but it will do you little good, for she hath no more credit with the king; and these ministers are persuading the king to send her away, and think by it to reconcile themselves to the people. Thus .we see,' says Miss S, the decline of this vile woman's political influence, which had been no less disgraceful to the king, than pernicious to the realm, is regretted by the tool and spy of William, &c.'--p. 438, 439.
If our readers can see any thing like regret in this sentence, or any thing more than a plain statement of facts, their perspi. cacity must be much greater than ours. If the demon of party has not hardened Miss Strickland's heart, he seems at least to have perverted her judgment. Of this we shall offer a concluding proof in one of her attacks on Bishop Burnet.
Describing the last illness and conduct of Charles II.-
· Burnet also affirms, that the king recommended the Duchess of Portsmouth, over and over again, to his brother, saying, he had always loved her, and now loved her to the last.' Now, Barillon. the only person present who mentions the name of this woman at all, merely says, 'that the king twice recommended the Duchess of Portsmouth, and her son the Duke of Richmond, to his brother, and also bis other children.'—p. 454. That is, Barillon' merely says,' just the same thing as Burnet: for unless Miss Strickland means to shelter herself behind some such miserable subterfuge as saying, that the word ' over premises that the matter had been mentioned before, and that therefore ' over and over again' must mean at least three times,