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THERE are few great personages in history who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies, and the adulation of friends, than Queen Elizabeth, and yet there is scarce 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 an uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, 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 exempt from all temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her active temper from turbulency and a vain ambition.
She guarded not herself with equal care or equal success from lesser infirmities—the rivalship of beauty, the desire of admiration, the jealousy of love, and the sallies
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 her people ; and while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also enjoyed their affection by her pretended
Few sovereigns of England succeeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances; and none ever conducted the government with such 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 controversies 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 remained untouched and unimpaired.
The wise ministers and brave warriors who flourished during her reign share the praises 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 any 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 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 diminishing, the lustre of her character. This prejudice is 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 great 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 consider her merely as a rational being, placed in authority, and entrusted with the government of mankind. We may find it difficult to reconcile our fancy to her as a wife or mis
tress; but her qualities as a sovereign, though with some considerable exceptions, are the object of undisputed applause and approbation.
TO THE NIGHTINGALE.
[John Keats, the gifted and the dreamy, was born in London 1796; he was intended for a surgeon, and published his mystical poem "Endymion” before he was twenty, a circumstance that ought to have procured for it a kindly consideration-but nothing was too young or too innocent for the savages of "The Quarterly," We have gone, in these later days, into the other extreme, and works are noticed” now-seldom criticised. Gifford, who began life as a shoemaker, was “snob” enough to write that he saw nothing in Keats but “folly and fine words.” It was thus that this Jefferys of the press, with his 3001. a year as master of the band of Gentlemen Pensioners, and his 60
a year as Controller Lotteries—this chairman of a legalised swindle-passed his judg. ment on young poets-hearing no evidence, weighing no case! And who reads Gifford himself now? Has anybody in her Majesty's dominions, during the last twenty years, opened a page of the “Baviad,” mildewing away in old libraries on undusted shelves? while poor Keats has been often re-printed. Had the cheap press existed in Gifford's time, he would never have dared to do what he did do, knowing how impossible it is for the opinion of one man to make or mar a reputation.
In Keats's case the shot did not hit, for before the article appeared the young poet was taken to Italy to die; he could not outstrip that galloping consumption that had seized him. He was buried in the strangers' ground” in Rome, where he died Dec. 27, 1820.
That Keats was frequently obscure is not to be denied; his ideas began to flow before he had acquired the method to arrange them in order. What could be expected from a boy of twenty? But there was displayed in his writings an immense amount of imagi. nation both in "Endymion,” and that fragment “Hyperion.” “The Eve of St. John” is perhaps his most finished composition, and the “Robin Hood” is a fine silt, as good as any of the many ballads that have been written on the subject.] My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
In some melodious plot
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
And purple-stained mouth ;
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret,
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
And leaden-eyed despairs ;
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
But here there is no light,
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable montlı endows
And mid-May's eldest child,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves,
Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
In such an ecstasy!
To thy high requiem become a sod.
No hungry generations tread thee down;
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
The same that oft-times hath
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. Adieu ! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,