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and imbitter our parting. Life sues the young like a new acquaintance; the companion, as yet unexhausted, is at once instructive and amusing; its company pleases, yet for all this it is but little regarded. To us, who are declined in years,
like an old friend ; its jests have been anticipated in former conversation; it has no new story to make us smile, no new improvement with which to surprise, yet still we love it; destitute of every enjoyment, still we love it; husband the wasting treasure with increasing frugality, and feel all the poignancy of anguish in the fatal separation.
Sir Philip Mordaunt was young, beautiful, sincere, brave, an Englishman. He had a complete fortune of his own, and the love of the king his master, which was equivalent to riches. Life opened all her treasures before him, and promised a long succession of future happiness. He came, tasted of the entertainment, but was disgusted even at the beginning. He professed an aversion to living, was tired of walking round the same circle; had tried every enjoyment, and found them all grow weaker at every repetition. “ If life be in youth so displeasing," cried he to himself, “what will it appear when age comes on? if it be at present indifferent, sure it will then be execrable.” This thought imbittered every reflection ; till at last, with all the serenity of perverted reason, he ended the debate with a pistol! Had this self-deluded man been apprised that existence grows more desirable to us the longer we exist, he would have then faced old age without shrinking; he would have boldly dared to live, and served that society by his future assiduity which he basely injured by his desertion.
[DAVID HUME is extensively known both as a metaphysician and a historian. His History of Great Britain, though not a work of the highest authority, is yet one of the most easy, elegant, and interesting historical narratives in the language. The extract which follows is from this very popular book.]
Death and Character of Queen Elizabeth. Some incidents happened which revived her tenderness for Essex, and filled her with the deepest sorrow for the consent which she had unwarily given to his execution.
The Earl of Essex, after his return from the fortunate expedition against Cadiz, observing the increase of the queen's fond attachment towards him, took occasion to regret that the necessity of her service required him often to be absent from her person, and exposed him to all those ill offices which his enemies, more assiduous in their attendance, could employ against him. She was moved with this tender jealousy; and making him the present of a ring, desired him to keep that pledge of her affection, and assured him that into whatever disgrace he should fall, whatever prejudices she might be induced to entertain against him, yet if he sent her that ring, she would immediately, upon the sight of it, recall her former tenderness, would afford him a patient hearing, and would lend a favourable ear to his apology. 24
Essex, notwithstanding all his misfortunes, reserved this precious gift to the last extremity; but after his trial and condemnation, he resolved to try the experiment, and he committed the ring to the Countess of Nottingham, whom he desired to deliver it to the queen. The countess was prevailed on by her husband, the mortal enemy of Essex, not to execute the commission ; and Elizabeth, who still expected that her favourite would make this last appeal to her tenderness, and who ascribed the neglect of it to his invincible obstinacy, was after much delay and many internal combats, pushed by resentment and policy to sign the warrant for his execution.
The Countess of Nottingham, falling into sickness, and affected with the near approach of death, was seized with remorse for her conduct; and having obtained a visit from the queen, she craved her pardon, and revealed to her the fatal secret. The
queen, astonished with this incident, burst into a furious passion: she shook the dying countess in her bed; and crying to her that God might pardon r, but she never could, she broke from her, and thenceforth resigned herself over to the deepest and most incurable melancholy. She rejected all consolation; she even refused food and sustenance: and, throwing herself on the floor, she remained sullen and immovable, feeding her thoughts on her afflictions, and declaring life and existence an insufferable burden to her. Few words she uttered; and they were all expressive of some inward grief which she cared not to reveal; but sighs and groans were the chief vent which she
gave to her despondency, and which, though they dis
covered her sorrows, were never able to ease or
Ten days and nights she lay upon the carpet, leaning on cushions which her maids brought her; and her physicians could not persuade her to allow herself to be put to bed, much less to make trial of any remedies which they prescribed to her. Her anxious mind at last had so long preyed on her frail body that her end was visibly approaching; and the council being assembled, sent the keeper, admiral, and secretary, to know her will in regard to her successor. She answered with a faint voice that as she had held a regal sceptre, she desired no other than a royal successor. Cecil requesting her to explain herself more particularly, she subjoined that she would have a king to succeed her; and who should that be but her nearest kinsman, the King of Scots? Being then advised by the Archbishop of Canterbury to fix her thoughts upon God, she replied that she did so, nor did her mind in the least wander from him. Her voice soon after left her; her senses failed; she fell into a lethargic slumber, which continued some hours, and she expired gently, without further struggle or convulsion (March 24), in the seventieth year of her age, and forty-fifth of her reign.
So dark a cloud overcast the evening of that day, which had shone out with a mighty lustre in the eyes of all Europe. 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 scarcely 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 a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, and address, are allowed to merit the highest praises, and appear not to have been surpassed by any person that 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 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 of anger.
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 engaged their affections by her pretended ones 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 tole