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when in danger of being totally expelled by a foreign power, and of either ending his life miserably in a prison, or seeking shelter as a fugitive from the pursuit of his enemies.

The prejudices against this prince were so violent, that he was believed to have sent an embassy to the emperor of Morocco, and to have offered to change his religion and become Mahometan, in order to purchase the protection of that monarch; but, though that story is told us on plausible authority, it is in itself utterly improbable, except that there is nothing so incredible as may not become likely from the folly and wickedness of John. Hume.

CHARACTER OF HENRY III.

THE most obvious circumstance of Henry the Third's character, is his incapacity for government, which rendered him as much a prisoner in the hands of his own ministers and favourites, and as little at his own disposal, as when detained a captive in the hands of his enemies. From this source, rather than from insincerity and treachery, arose his negligence in observing his promises; and he was too easily induced for the sake of present convenience, to sacrifice the lasting advantages arising from the trust and confidence of his people. Hence were derived his profusion to favourites, his attachment to strangers, the variableness of his conduct, his hasty resentments, and his sudden forgiveness and return of affection. Instead of reducing the dangerous power of his

nobles, by obliging them to observe the laws to wards their inferiors, and setting them the salutary example in his own government, he was seduced to imitate their conduct, and to make his arbitrary will, or rather that of his ministers, the rule of his actions.

Instead of accommodating himself, by a strict frugality, to the embarrassed situation to which his revenue had been left, by the military expedition of his uncle, the dissipations of his father, and the usurpations of the barons; he was tempted to levy money by irregular exactions, which, without enriching himself, impoverished, or at least disgusted, his people. Of all men, nature seemed least to have fitted him for being a tyrant; yet are there instances of oppression in his reign, which, though derived from the precedents left him by his predecessors, had been carefully guarded against by the great charter; and are inconsistent with all rules of good government; and, on the whole, we may say, that greater abilities, with his good dispositions, would have prevented him from falling into his faults; or, with worse dispositions, would have enabled him to maintain and defend them.

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CHARACTER OF EDWARD I.

THE enterprizes finished by this prince, and the projects which he formed, and brought very near to a conclusion, were more prudent, and more regularly conducted, and more advantageous to the solid interest of this kingdom, than those which

were undertaken in any reign either of his ancestors or successors. He restored authority to the government, disordered by the weakness of his father; he maintained the laws against all the efforts of his turbulent barons; he fully annexed to the crown the principality of Wales; he took the wisest and most effectual measures for reducing Scotland to a like condition; and though the equity of this latter enterprise may reasonably be questioned, the circumstances of the two kingdoms promised such success, and the advantage was so visible, of uniting the whole island under one head, that those who give great indulgence to reasons of state in the measures of princes, will not be apt to regard this part of his conduct with much severity.

But Edward, however exceptionable his character may appear on the head of justice, is the model of a politic and warlike king. He possessed industry, penetration, courage, vigour, and enterprize. He was frugal in all expenses that were not necessary; he knew how to open the public treasures on proper occasions; he punished criminals with severity; he was gracious and affable to his servants and courtiers; and being of a majestic figure,expert at ali bodily exercise, and in the main well-proportioned in his limbs, notwithstanding the great length of his legs, he was as well qualified to captivate the populace by his exterior appearance, as to gain the approbation of men of sense by his more solid virtue.

Hume.

VOL. IV.

CHARACTER OF EDWARD 11.

It is not easy to imagine a man more innocent or inoffensive than this unhappy king; nor a prince less fitted for governing that fierce and turbulent people subjected to his authority. He was obliged to devolve on others the weight of government, which he had neither ability nor inclination to bear; the same indolence and want of penetration led him to make choice of ministers and favourites, which were not always best qualified for the trust committed to them. The seditious grandees, pleased with his weakness, and complaining of it, under pretence of attacking his ministers, insulted his person, and invaded his authority; and the impatient populace, ignorant of the source of their grievances, threw all the blame upon the king, and increased the public disorders by their faction and insolence. It was in vain to look for protection from the laws, whose voice, always feeble in those times, was not heard in the din of arms; what could not defend the king, was less able to give shelter to any one of his people; the whole machine of government was torn in pieces, with fury and violence; and men, instead of complaining against the manners of the age, and the form of their constitution, which required the most steady and the most skilful hand to conduct them, imputed all errours to the person who had the misfortune to be intrusted with the reins of empire.

Hume.

CHARACTER OF EDWARD III.

THE English are apt to consider with peculiar fondness the history of Edward the Third, and to esteem his reign, as it was one of the longest, the most glorious also, which occurs in the annals of the nation. The ascendant which they began to have over France, their rival and national enemy, makes them cast their eyes on this period with great complacency, and sanctifies every measure which Edward embraced for that end. But the domestic government is really more admirable than his foreign victories; and England enjoyed, by his prudence and vigour of administration, a longer interval of domestic peace and tranquillity, than she had been blest with in any former period, or than she experienced for many years after. He gained the affections of the great, and curbed their licentiousness: he made them feel his power without their daring, or even being inclined to murmur at it; his affable and obliging behaviour, his munificence and generosity, made them submit with pleasure to his dominion; his valour and conduct made them successful in most of their enterprises; and their unquiet spirits, directed against a public enemy, had no leisure to breed disturbances, to which they were naturally so much inclined, and which the form of the government seemed so much to authorize. This was the chief benefit which resulted from Edward's victories and conquests. His foreign wars were, in other respects, neither founded in justice, nor directed to any very salutary purpose. His attempt against the king of Scotland, a minor, and

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