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Tarious conjectares concerning the motives which determined a prince, whose ruling passion had been uniformly the love of power, at the age of filty-six, when objects of ambition operate with full force on the mind, and are pursued with the greatest ardour, to take a resolution so singular and unexpected.
6 The emperor, in pursuance of his determination, having assembled the states of the Low Countries at Brussels, seated himself, for the last tims, in the chair of state: on one side of which was placed his son, and on the other, his sister the queen of Hungary, regent of the Netherlands, with a splendid retinue of the grandees of Spain and princes of the empire standing behind him.
7 The president of the council of Flanders, by his command, explained, in a few words, his intention in calling this extraordinary meeting of the states. He then read the instrument of resignation, by which Charles surrendered to his son Philip all his territories, jurisdiction, and authority in the Low Countries ; absolving, his subjects there from their oath of allegiance to him, which he required them to transfer to Philip his lawful heir ; and to serve him with the same loyalty and zeal that they had manifested, during so long a course of years, in support of his government.
8 Charles then rose from his seat, and leaning on the shoul. der of the prince of Orange, because he was unable to stand without support, he addressed himself to the audience; and, from a paper which he held in his hand, in order to assist his memory, he recounted, with dignity, but without ostentation, all the great things which he had undertaken and performed, since the commencement of his administration.
9 He observed, that from the seventeenth year of his age, he had dedicated all his thoughts and attention to public objects, reserving no portion of his time for the indulgence of his ease, and very little for the enjoyment of private pleasure; that either in a pacific or hostile manner, he had visited Germany nine times, Spain six times, France four times, Italy seven times, the Low Countries ten times, England twice, Alrica as often, and had made eleven voyages by sea ; that while his health permitted him to discharge his duty, and the vigour of his constitution was equal, in any
degree, to the arduous office of governing dominions so extensive, he had never shunned labour, nor repined under fatigue ; that now, when his health was broken, and his vigour exhausted by the rage of an incurable distemper, his growing infirınities admonished him to retire ; por was he so fond of reigning, as to retain the septre in an impotent hand, which was no longer able to protect his subjects, or to render them happy; that instead of a sovereign worn out with diseases, and scarcely half alive, he gave them one in the prime of life, accustomed already to govern, and who added to the vigour of youth, all the attention and sagacity of maturer years; that if during the course of a long administration, he had committed any material error in government, or if, under the pressure of so many and great affairs, and amidst the attention which he had been obliged to give to them, he had either neglected or injured any of his subjects, he now implored their forgiveness; that, for his part, he should ever retain a grateful sense of their fidelity and attachment, and would carry the remembrance of it along with him to the place of his retreat, as his sweetest consolation, as well as the best reward for all his services; and in his last prayers to Almighty God, would pour forth his ardent wishes for their welfare.
10 Then turning towards Philip, who fell on his kness and kissed his father's hand,“ If,” says he," I had left you, by my death, this rich inheritance, to which I have made such large additions, some regard would have been justly duc to my memory on that account; but now, when I'voluntarily resign to you what I might have still retained, I may well expect the warmest expressions of thanks on your part. With these, however, I dispense; and shall consider your concern for the welfare of your subjects, and your love of them, as the best and most acceptable testimony of your gratitude to me. It is in your power, by a wise and virtuous administration, to justify the extraordinary proof which I give this" day of my paternal affection, and
to demonstrate that you are worthy of the confidence which I repose in you. Preserve an inviolable regard for religion ; maintain the Catholic faith in its purity ; let the laws of your country, be sacred in your eyes; encroach not on the rights and privileges of your people; and if the time shall ever come, when you shall wish to enjoy the tranquillity, of private life, may you have a son endowed with such qualities, that you can resign your sceptre to him, with as much satisfaction as I give up mine to you."
11 As soon as Charles had finished this long address to his subjects, and to their new sovereign, he sunk into the chair, exhausted and ready to faint with the fatigue of so extraordinary an effort. During his discourse, the whole audience melted into tears ; some from admiration of his magnanimity; others softened by the expressions of tenderness towards his son, and of love to his people; and all were affected with the deepest sorrow, at losrag'a
sovereign, who had die
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tinguished the Netherlands, his nativa country, with particular marks of his regard and attachment.
The same subject continued. FEW weeks after the resignation of the Netherlands, emonial equally pompous, resigned to his son the crowns of Spain, with all the territories depending on them, both in the old and in the new world. Of all these vast possessions, he reserved nothing for himself, but an annual pension of a hundred thousand crowns, to defray the charges of his family, and to afford him a small sum for acts of beneficence and charity.
2 Nothing now remained to detain him from that retreat for which he languished. Every thing having been prepared some time for his voyage, he set out for
Zuitburgh in Zealand, where the fleet had orders to rendezvous. In his way thither, he passed through Ghent: and after stopping there a few days, to indulge that tender and pleasing melancholy, which arises in the mind of every man in the decline of life, on visiting the place of his nativity, and viewing the scenes and objects familiar to him in his early youth, he pursued his journey, accompanied by his son Philip, his daughter the archduchess, his sisters the dowager queens of France and Hungary, Maximilian his son-in-law, and a numerous retinue of the Flemish nobility. Before he went on board, he dismissed them, with marks of his attention and regard; and taking leave of Philip with all the tenderness of a father who em raced his son for the last time, he set sail under convoy of a large fleet of Spanish, Flemish, and English ships.
3 His voyage was prosperous and agreeable; and he arrived at Laredo in Biscay, on the eleventh day after he left Zealand As soon as he landed, he fell prostrate on the ground; and considering himself now as dead to the world, he kissed the earth, and said, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked I now return to thee, thou common mother of mankind." From Laredo he proceeded to Valladolid. There he took a last and tender leave of his two sisters; whom he would not permit to accompany him to his solitude, though they entreated it with tears: not only that they might have the consolation of contributing, by their attendance and care, to mitigate or to sooth his sufferings, but that they might reap instruction and benefit, by joining with him in those pious exercises, to which he had consecrated the remainder of his days.
4 From Valladolid, he continued his journey to Plazencia in Estreinadura. He hari passed through that city a great many years before; and having been struck at that time with the delightful situation of the monastery of St. Justus, belonging to the order of St. Jerome, not many miles distant from that place, he had then observed to some of his attendants, that this was a spot to which Dioclesian might have retired with pleasure. The impression had remained so strong on his mind, that he pitched upon it as the place of his retreat.
5 It was seated in a vale of no great extent, watered by a small brook, and surrounded by rising grounds, covered with lofty trees.' From the nature of the soil, as well as the temperature of the climate, it was esteemed the most healthful and delicious situation in Spain.
6 Some months before his resignation, he had sentan architect thither, to add a new apartment to the monastery, for his accommodation; but he gave strict orders that the style of the building should be such as suited his present station, rather than his former dignity. It consisted only of six rooms, four of them in the form of friars' cells, with naked walls ; the other two, each twenty feet square, were hung with brown cloth, and furnished in the most simple manner. They were all on a level with the ground ; with a door on one side into a garden, of which Charles himself had given the plan, and had filled it with various plants, which he proposed to cultivate with his own hands. On the other side, they communicated with the chapel of the monastery, in which he was to perform his devotions.
7 Into this humble retreat, hardly sufficient for the comfortable accommodation of, a private gentleman, did Charles enter, with twelve domestics only. He buried there, in solitude and silence, his grandeur, his ambition, together with all those vast projects, which, during half a century, had alarmed and agitated Europe; filling every kingdom in it, by turns, with the terror of his arms, and the dread of being subjected
8 In this retirement, Charles formed such a plan of life for himself, as would have suited the condition of a private person of a moderate fortune. His table was neat but plain; his domestics few; his intercourse with them familiar ; all the cumbersome and ceremonious forms of attendance on his person were entirely abolished, as destructive of that social ease and tranquillity, which he courted, in order to sooth the remainder of his days. As the mildness of the climate, togeth er with his deliverance from the burdens and cares of gov ernment, procured him, at first, a considerable remission od, he enjoyed, perhaps, more complete satisfaction in thiş
to his power.
humble solitude, than all his grandeur had ever yielded him.
14 The ambitious thoughts and projects which had so long engrossed and disquieted him, were quite effaced from his mind. Far from taking any part in the political transactions of the princes of Europe, he restrained his curiosity even from any inquiry concerning them; and he seemed to view the busy scene which he had abandoned, with all the contempt and indifference arising from his thorough experience of its vanity, as well as from the pleasing reflection of having disentangled himself from its cares.
Necessary knowledge easily attained.
NOTE. In the first chapter, the Compiler has exhibited a considerable var sety of poetical construction, for the young reader's preparatory cercises