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tion in which large masses of mankind are moved, is absurd even to idiotcy. If the truth of an opinion is only to be demonstrated when all the virtuous among men declare in its favour, and all the vicious against it, Christianity itself would shrink from such an ordeal. Yet Miss Strickland rakes up with exemplary diligence every calumny she can find against any Protestant, of whatever degree, and records it in her volumes as an argument against Protestantism. So much of the mischief that Miss Strickland's book has done arises from this misapprehension, and she is evi. dently so anxious to keep it up, that it may be worth-while to elucidate it somewhat more fully.
When a great question of religion is warmly debated by an entire people, and they are pretty equally divided upon it, (and such was the case in England during the progress of the Reformation, the motives which determine the mass of mankind to one or the other side of it are very various, and often very unworthy. With many it will be nothing better than prejudice or prepossession or sentiment. Such was most probably the case with the mistresses of James II, Catherine Sedleigh, and Arabella Churchill, of whose Protestantism Miss Strickland omits no possible opportunity of reminding her readers. This complication of motive in the partizans of a religious question becomes still more entangled when the question itself is mixed up with politics, which was preeminently the case in the times of the Stuarts. During the reigns of Charles II and his brother, Protestantism and Popery were merely the names of two political factions. The Protestantism of Buckingham and the Popery of Rochester were of this character. Neither of those profligates took the slightest interest in the religious question themselves. They merely took up the opinions which were most likely to be acceptable to their own friends and party. This had been likewise far too much the case in the preceding reigns. The motives of the adherents of either party will by no means bear examination in every instance. The honest heartfelt conviction that Protestantism was true and Popery a lie, had diffused itself very widely among the people of England ; but it has never been pretended, either that this conviction was the only motive which actuated the Protestants of those days in their opposition to Popery, or that they were all living examples of the moral power of the doctrines they had embraced. This being perfectly obvious, and never questioned by any one on any sidewhere, we ask, is the fairness, where the honesty, where the decency, of Miss Strickland's barefaced imposition upon the historical ignorance of her readers in this matter ?
There is yet another misapprehension, which we must endeavour
tion unticory. Popery in use it also is fundamer
to remove in limine, because it also is fundamental to Miss Strickland's theory. Popery in England, from the dawn of the Reformation until now, has never wanted its advocates, nor the Popish princes of England their eulogists. We grieve to add to this, that neither that bad cause nor its leaders have ever been in such a condition that it would not be worth the while of unprincipled persons to write for them. Such being the case, the writings of these partisans will necessarily furnish an abundant supply of materials for the construction of literary frauds like this which Miss Strickland is so successfully perpetrating.
Neither must the caution to which we have endeavoured to direct the reader's attention be forgotten bere also. No one doubts that many of the kings, princes and nobles that opposed the English Reformation were sincere in their attachment to the Roman Catholic faith, and believed themselves to be acting in accordance with the will of God. It is equally an unquestioned fact, that many of them were personally amiable and moral characters. This may also be the case with their adherents, and even with their eulogists. Their praises of their persecuting superiors may be perfectly sincere and well deserved. Nevertheless we contend that the writer who enlarges upon and exaggerates the more amiable traits in the Romanist potentates of England, and at the same time softens down, palliates, and even apologises for their religious enormities, grossly misleads her readers, under pretence of instructing them. A single instance of this practice will suffice.
Doubtless something may be said for the wickedest persons that ever appeared upon the earth. Even bloody Mary herself, like St. Dominic and Pope Innocent III., may have been a very strict devotee; a characteristic highly commendable in itself. Yet we submit, that to write a history of Queen Mary full of high-flown eulogies of her piety, and scarcely mentioning the four or five hundred men, women, and children, whom she burnt alive, because they were Protestants, during the five years of her reign (as Miss Strickland has done), is no more history, than the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet omitted is Shakspeare.
This is exactly the character of Miss Strickland's historical productions. With much parade of unpublished documents and elclusive information, she collects all that she can find which has been written by the partisans and flatterers of the Papist princes and nobles, adding largely to their eulogies from her own imagination. Indulging, at the same time, in a perfectly unmeasured liberty of vituperation at any unfortunate Protestant who may have ventured to hint at something which detracts in any measure from the spotless purity, the transparent sincerity, and the seraphic
piety of her heroes and heroines. For the Protestants, on the other hand, she collects from the same pure and unquestionable authorities all the calumnies that their incensed and bitter enemies have recorded against them; paying not the slightest regard to the refutations that appear on the very surface of our commonest histories. It is no fault of Miss Strickland's, if any Papist has one vice, or any Protestant one virtue. We shall presently see what a model of wedded perfection (according to our author) the people of England rejected in Mary d’Este; whereas, to judge by the hints she gives, the forthcoming lives of Queens Mary and Anne will be mere tissues of evil speaking, lying, and slandering, like that of Elizabeth. You may call this history, if you please, but it is history on the model of Madame D’Aulnay's Fairy Tales. The duchess Trognon sits for every Protestant queen, and the princess Graciosa for every Popish one!
We have however been detained too long from the volume before us, which is the beginning of the life of Mary d'Este, the second wife of the profligate, cold-hearted, and cruel James II. This princess was pretty, she dressed tastefully, the costume of the times became her figure remarkably well, and more than all, she was a zealous, bigotted, bitter Papist. After these, what could possibly be wanting to recommend her to the sympathies of Miss Strickland ? She shines forth in her pages a heroine of the first water! Miss Strickland's admiration of Queen Mary Beatrice enchants, entrances—we had almost said intoxicates her : for we certainly never before happened to meet with such English as that in which our author gives vent to her raptures of eulogy and applause, at least not in the use of any sober person. We cull a small bouquet from Miss Strickland's well-stocked parterres, to give our readers the opportunity of judging of her powers of fine writing.
The subject of our first extract shall be “Mary Beatrice going to England to marry the Duke of York, takes leave of the young duke of Modena her brother.”
“ Mary Beatrice and the princely boy whom she regarded in the twofold light of her brother and her sovereign, were at that guileless period of life, when the links of kindred affection are more closely twined than at any other, round hearts whose sensibilities are in their first exquisite bloom, and as yet unblighted by intercourse with a selfish world. No wonder that they, who had been debarred by the restraining etiquettes imposed on children of their elevated station from forming other intimacies, felt very keenly the pangs of rending asunder the bonds of that sweet friendship which had united them from their cradles. Very frequently, no doubt, had the sorrowful bride to be reminded, during that journey, of the exhortation of the royal psalmist : • Hearken, o daughter, and consider; forget also thine own people and thy father's house.'"-(pp. 47, 48.)
In our next extract Miss Strickland meditates upon the important historical fact of which we presume she is the exclusive discoverer, that the Earl of Peterborough, by whom the marriage was negociated, presented Mary Beatrice with jewels to the amount of £20,000 sterling, as a bridal offering from her unknown consort.
“Charms like hers, however, required not the aid of elaborate decorations; and her own classical taste disposed her to prefer a general simplicity of attire, except on those occasions, when the etiquette of royal ceremonials compelled her to assume the glittering trappings of a state toilette."-(p.50.)
Our next extract is an important one, which we recommend to the especial attention of our readers. Miss Strickland makes some profound philosophical remarks upon the gullibility of the people of England, a question upon which we take her to be a very high authority.
James honoured the ancient customs of the land over which he expected to rule, by admitting a portion of the honest, true-hearted classes, in whom the strength of a monarch depends, to witness the solemnization of his marriage with a princess whom he had taken to wife, in the hope of ber becomiag the mother of a line of kings. It was sound policy in him, not to make that ceremonial an exclusive show for the courtiers who had attended him from London, and the foreigners, who, notwithstanding his prudent caution to the Earl of Peterborough, had accompanied his Italian consort to England. He knew the national jealousy, the national pride of his countrymen, and that their affections are easily won, but more easily lost, by those who occupy high places. That they are terrible in their anger, but just in their feelings : their crimes being always imputable to the hearts of those by whom their feelings are perverted to the purposes of faction or bigotry. The English are, moreover, a sight-loving people; and, for the most part, inclined to regard the principal actors in a royal pageant with feelings of romantic enthusiasm. It was, therefore, well calculated, to increase bis popularity and counteract the malice of his enemies, for the sailor prince to take so excellent an opportunity for interesting their generous sympathies in favour of the innocent young creature against whom the republican faction was endeavouring to raise a general persecution.”—(pp. 55, 56.)
Deep thinking like this necessarily produces a feeling of exhaustion, to relieve which we are not surprised to find Miss Strickland displaying her powers in the light and sportive style, in the passage which immediately follows.
“ It is a little singular, that among the numerous spectators, gentle and simple, courtly and quaint, who witnessed the landing of Mary Beatrice that day, and, afterwards, the royal ceremonial of her marriage with the heir of the crown, not one should have left any little graphic record of the events of the day, with details of the dress and deportment of the bride, and her reception of the English ladies; the manner and order of the supper; with many other minor observances connected with the costume of those tiines, which his excellency of Peterborough has considered it beneath the dignity of an ambassador to chronicle, although few ambassadors have recorded so many pleasant adventures as he has done. Why was not that most minutely cirstantial of all diarists, Samuel Pepys, at the wedding of his royal master, the Duke of York, to count the pearls on the bride's stomacher, and to tell us
how rich and rare was the quality of her white and silver petticoat; and to marvel at the difference between her tall sylph-like figure and the obesity of her portly predecessor Anne Hyde?"- (p. 56.)
The point of this passage will escape the reader, should he chance to have forgotten that the Lady Anne Hyde, James's first wife, was the daughter of Lord Clarendon, and the mother of the princesses Mary and Anne. The heartless profligate whom it was her heavy misfortune to call her husband, having gained her affections, attempted to deceive her by a feigned marriage, which proved, contrary to his intentions, to be a real one. After a few years of splendid misery, during which her worthless husband repaid her boundless devotedness to him (which she carried so far as even to turn Papist when he did), by constant unsuccessful endeavours to cast imputations upon her chastity, she died, the victim of his abominable profligacies, transmitting to her two daughters that taint of constitution which consigned them both childless to untimely graves. These are circumstances which one might have anticipated would have excited the sympathies of a woman in favour of this hapless princess. But no! she was not very pretty; she was in the latter years of her life very fat; ? and, worse than all, she was the mother of two Protestant queens! What wonder then, that the unhappy duchess is the constant butt of Miss Strickland's wittiest sallies and coarsest and most unfeeling sarcasms. Thus the reader will find that even in her merry moods our fair author always keeps a watchful eye upon the object of her writing.
We cannot refrain from one other extract, which may give our readers some idea of the extent of enthusiasm with which Queen Mary is regarded by her eulogist.
" It was highly to the credit of so young a creature as Mary Beatrice, that her mind was too well regulated to be alloyed with the vanity which the flattering incense offered up at the shrine of her beauty by the greatest wits of the age, was calculated to excite in a female heart. The purity of her manners and conduct entitled her to universal respect. It was observed in that wanton licentious court, where voluptuousness stalked unmasked, and gloried in its shame, that the youthful Duchess of York afforded a bright example of feminine propriety and conjugal virtue. She appeared like a wedded Dian, walking through Paphian bowers, in her calm purity."-(p. 67.)
A WEDDED DIAN! Is not this fine ? But we are absolutely so overpowered with Miss Strickland's eloquence, that we feel quite unequal to a word of comment. We prefer assuaging our
1 Burnet's History of his own Times, vol. i. pp. 241, 333, &c. The doubt which has always hung, and yet hangs, upon the asserted offspring of Mary Beatrice, arises from the great vigour of their constitutions, which the physicians of the day asserted to be impossible of any child of James the Second's, or of the child of any wife with whom he had lived long. Id. 335, &c.
2 À not infrequent symptom of the disease of which she died.