Изображения страниц

and the religious differences tended greatly to divide the several states. The Emperor finding it necessary to call them together for the

purpose of conducting the war against the Turks, assembled at the City of Spires in 1529. On this occasion the doctrines of Luther were once more discussed and finally condemned. The Elector Frederick was now dead, but John his successor, with five other princes, protested against that decree, and 14 cities joined in the protestation on the 19th April, 1529. After a considerable time spent in disputes with the Emperor, these Protestants being assembled at a General Diet at Augsburg, presented a dieclaration of their faith drawn up by Melancthon, and since known as 6 the Confession of Augsburg,' declaring their interpretation of the Christian doctrines, and their reasons for separating from the Romish Church,

Thus was accomplished the weighty work of the Reformation, which Luther had begun almost singly, and lived to see established by the unwearied labours of himself and his followers. He continued to exert himself in the great cause he had undertaken, and was incessantly engaged in advancing the truths he had promulgated.

In 1534 he put forth his celebrated translation of the Bible into German, which was received with extraordinary delight, and read with avidity by all ranks of people.

In 1546 he revisited his native country of Mansfeld. Before his departure he preached his last Sermon at Wittemberg, on the 17th of January, and proceeded by easy journies, then rapidly declining in health, until he was overtaken by death on the 18th of February following, expiring in the 63d year of his age. By order of the Elector of Saxony, his remains were conveyed back to Wittemberg, where they were interred with great funeral pomp, his beloved friend Melancthon pronouncing his funeral oration.

In forming a judgment of Luther's character from the relation of his friends and enemies, all are agreed in acknowledging the extraordinary powers with which he was endowed by Divine Providence, for the purpose of accomplishing the great work of the Reformation. All speak of his eloquence, his wisdom, his learning, as surpassing any of his contemporaries. His opponents admit the purity of his moral conduct, while his advocates acknowledge that natural irritability of his temper which he himself deeply deplored, and which he was at infinite pains to subdue. His too great propensity to ridicule the errors of his antagonists deducted somewhat from the gravity of his arguments, but the irresistible force of his eloquence, the clearness of his views, and the dexterity with which he exposed all their artifices, secured him the victory in every disputation. In his endeavours to bring down the natural turbulence of his disposition, he betook himself to the most rigid fasting and self-denial. From authentic accounts of his private life we learn, that in all his proceedings he sought Divine aid by earnest prayer, to accomplish the great object for which he laboured. He entered upon no work without solemn dedication of himself to God. From this short review of his character and labours, it will appear



that no man was ever more blessed with the qualifications necessary to the success of his undertaking : but while friends and foes alike were amazed at the mighty compass of his faculties; while assemblies of princes and prelates sat astonished at his powers, and were enchanted by the wonders of his eloquence; he relied on no human means for success, but depended alone in the aid of that Holy Spirit, which is the Fountain of all wisdom.'



'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end

be like his.'

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The British Patriot ;





The death of George III. has broken the great link which united the history of the present age, with that of a generation which has passed away. The extraordinary length of this Prince's reign was a bond of connection between the actions, characters and manners of our own times, and events whose interest is forgotten, names whose power is no more, and habits whose influence is extinct. There are few domestic circles where there is a living record in whom the remembrances of manhood go back to the commencement of the reign of George III; and who can adequately describe the prevailing modes and principles of that day. Our late King came to the Throne in extreme youth ; and he has sat in that honoured seat (nominally indeed for the last nine years, though never absent from the affectionate consideration of his people) until he had attained the fullness of old age. His reign therefore occupies a larger space than any other in our chronicles. It extends very nearly to a period of sixty years; and perhaps every one of those years has been marked hy some event whose effects may be traced in the general history of the human race.

Of the public affairs of this period, important as it is prolonged, it would be quite impossible, within our prescribed limits, to givea detailed review which should be at all satisfactory. During this time North America has been won and lost. An Empire has been founded in India, whose extent almost surpasses the remarkable stories of ancient conquests. Colonies have been added to the British Crown, which complete the chain of our maritime power and commercial intercourse. Mighty revolutions have shaken other states to their foundations, while the great principles of order have been upheld in our own country. For twenty years, with a transient interruption, a war of unexampled magnitude was waged with a government, which aimed at the dominion of the world; the tyranny was put down, and Great Britain, in asserting her own independence, broke the fetters of the other European nations. Events of this magnitude belong to the calm and dispassionate consideration of history. We have only to notice such portions of these, and of other memorable facts, as, looking to the peculiar nature of our limited monarchy, may be supposed to have received a direction from the personal character of our late venerable King.

George III. the second child of Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George II. and of Augusta, Princess of Saxe-Gotha, was born in Norfolk-house, St. James's-square, on the 4th June (according to the alteration of style), in the year 1738.

His father died when the young prince was 13 years of age. His education was therefore prin, cipally regulated by the care of his mother, who appears to have been ever anxious to impress upon him the principles of conscientious integrity and habitual piety. His subsequent character, both as a monarch and a man, is the best proof of the success of this truly maternal solicitude. There has been a general belief that the political instructors of the late King were anxious to turn him aside from those constitutional principles, upon which his ancestors had obtained the Crown of Great Britain. But let it be remembered, that there never has existed a Sovereign more scrupulously exact in his adhe, rence to the laws, or more devotedly attached to the just and lawful rights of his people. This consideration either disproves the statea ment that this Prince was educated upon an illiberal system; or mani, fests that the soundness of his understanding, and the goodness of his heart, uniformly led him to reject any evil advice, and, as he himself expressed on bis accession, to consider the civil and religious rights of his subjects equally dear with the most valuable prerogatives of his Crown,

To those who are curious, at this distance of time, to trace the formation of their late Sovereign's mind, we offer the following extracts from the Diary of a celebrated Courtier, Bubb Doddingtona person who was in habits of intimacy with the mother of the

young Prince, and whose testimony may be depended upon in this par ticular:

• I took the liberty to ask her' (the Princess of Wales)' what she thought the real disposition of the Prince to be? She said, that I knew him almost as well as she did; that he was very honest, but that she wished that he was a little more forward and less childish, at his age (he was then 15); that she hoped his preceptors would improve him. That she did not observe the Prince to take very particularly to any body about him but to his brother Edward, and she was very glad of it, for the young people of quality were so ill educated, and so very vicions, that they frightened her. I told ber, I thought it a great happiness that he shewed no disposition to any great excesses, and begged to know what were his affections and passions, She repeated that he was a very honest boy, and that his chief passion seemed to be for Edward. The Prince seemed to have a very tender regard for the memory of his father, and she encouraged it as much as she could. I humbly begged that she would cultivate and improve the personal influence which her many virtues, as well as natural affection, gave her over the Prince. She expressed herself civilly for the regard I testified for her, and said she could have nothing so much at heart as to see bim do well and make the pation happy.'

In a subsequent conversation the mother of the young Prince, whose education was a matter of such public importance, thus dem scribed his dispositions

• He was not a wild, dissipated boy, but good-datured and cheerful, with a serious cast upon the whole-those about him knew him no more than if they had never seen him; he was not quick, but with those he was acquainted, applicable and intelligent, His education had given her mach paid, bis

book learning she was no judge of, though she supposed it small or useless ; but she hoped he might have been instructed in the general understanding of things.

The preceding extracts certainly offer no very important information ; but a character is oftentimes disclosed by particulars which may at first sight appear trifling. We may learn from these details, that the late King's strict integrity, his domestic habits, his aversion to dissipation, his kind-heartedness, his cheerful but yet reflecting temper, were very early manifest to those about him. The British nation has reason to be thankful that his qualities were more sound than brilliant; and that the purity and simplicity of his youthful miņd weré afterwards displayed in those virtues, which constituted the value of his example, and the blessing of his government.

George III. having recently completed his 22d year, ascended the Throne on the 25th October, 1760. The death of George II. was unexpected. The young Sovereign was somewhat embarrassed by the novelty of his situation; but in his first public act the good sense and modesty of his character were manifested, in the following address to his Council :

* The loss that I and the nation have sustained by the death of the King, my grandfather, would have been severely felt at any time; but coming at so critical a juncture and so unexpected, it is by many circumstances angmented, and the weight now falling on ine much increased : I feel my own insufficiency to support it as I wish, but, animated by the tenderest affection for my native country, and depending upon the advice, experience, and abilities of your Lordships, on the support of every honest man, I enter with cheerfulness into this arduous situation, and shall make it the business of my life to promote, in every thing, the glory and happiness of these kingdoms, to preserve and strengthen the Constitution in both Church and State; and as I moont the Throne in the midst of an expensive, but just and necessary war,

I shall endeavour to prosecute it in a manner the most likely to bring on an honourable and lasting peace, in concert with my allies.'

The late King appears to have entered upon the sacred duties of his station, with the deepest sense of their importance, with the most pure and entire love of his country and its laws, and with a steady assurance that the happiness of a people is best indicated by their advancement in morals and religion. The following is an extract, from his first address to his Parliament:

• Boro and educated in this Country, I glory in the name of Briton, and the peculiar happiness of my life will ever consist in promoting the welfaro of a people whose loyalty and warm affection to me I consider as the greatest and most permanent security of my Throne; and I doubt not but their steadiness in those principles will equal the firmness of my invariable resolution to adhere to and strengthen this excellent Constitution in Church and State ; and to maintain the toleration inviolable. The civil and religious rights of my loving subjects are equally dear to me with the most valuable prerogatives of my Crown, and as the surest foundation of the whole and the best means to draw down the Divine favour on my reign, it is my fixed purpose to countenance and encourage the practice of true religion and yirtae.

It is generally understood that the sentiments which the Sovereign delivers to the Legislature, are principally calculated to express the principles of the administration to which his affairs are entrusted. But in the instance before us, in addition to our experience that sentiments such as these were the habitual feelings of our late Sove-'

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »