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function of royalty; so that the interval between the death of his father, and the usurpation of his uncle, the duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III. was properly an interregnum, during which the uncle took his measures for wresting the crown from his nephew.


THOSE historians who favour Richard, for even he has met partizans among later writers, maintain that he was well qualified for government, had he legally obtained it; and that he committed no crimes but such as were necessary to procure him possession of the crown; but this is a very poor apology, when it is confessed that he was ready to commit the most horrid crimes which appeared necessary for that purpose; and it is certain that all his courage and capacity, qualities in which he really seems not to have been deficient, would never have made compensation to the people, for the danger of the precedent, and for the contagious example of vice and murder, exalted upon the throne. This prince was of small stature, hump-backed, and had a very harsh disagreeable visage; so that his body was in every particular no less deformed than his mind.



THE reign of Henry VII. was in the main fortanate for his people at home, and honourable

abroad. He put an end to the civil wars with which the nation had been so long harassed; he maintained peace and order to the state; he depressed the former exorbitant power of the nobility; and, together with the friendship of some foreign princes, he acquired the consideration and regard of all.

He loved peace, without fearing war; though agitated with criminal suspicions of his servants and ministers, he discovered no timidity, either in the conduct of his affairs, or in the day of battle; and, though often severe in his punishments, he was commonly less actuated by revenge than by the maxims of policy.

The services which he rendered his people were derived from his views of private interest, rather than the motives of public spirit; and where he deviated from selfish regards, it was unknown to himself, and ever from malignant prejudices, or the mean projects of avarice; not from the sallies of passion, or allurements of pleasure; still less from the benign motives of friendship and generosity.

His capacity was excellent, but somewhat contracted by the narrowness of his heart; he possessed insinuation and address, but never employed these talents except some great point of interest was to be gained; and while he neglected to conciliate the affections of his people, he often felt the danger of resting his authority on their fear and reverence alone. He was always extremely attentive to his affairs; but possessed not the faculty of seeing far into futurity; and was more expert at promoting a remedy for his mistakes,

than judicious in avoiding them. Avarice was on the whole his ruling passion; and he remained an instance almost singular, of a man placed in a high station, and possessed of talents for great affairs, in whom that passion predominated above ambition. Even among private persons, avarice is nothing but a species of ambition, and is chiefly incited by the prospect of that regard, distinction, and consideration, which attends on riches.



As Luther was raised up by Providence to be the author of one of the greatest and most interesting revolutions recorded in history, there is not any person, perhaps, whose character has been drawn with such opposite colours. In his own age, one party, struck with horrour and inflamed with rage, when they saw with what a daring hand he overturned every thing which they held to be sacred, or valued as beneficial, imputed to him not only all the defects and vices of a man, but the qualities of a demon. The other, warmed with admiration and gratitude, which they thought he merited, as the restorer of light and liberty to the Christian church, ascribed to him perfections above the condition of humanity; and viewed all his actions with a veneration bordering on that, which should be paid to those only who are guided by the immediate inspiration of Heaven. It is his own conduct, not the undistinguishing censure, nor the exaggerated praise of his contemporaries, which ought to regulate the opinions of the present age

concerning him. Zeal for what he regarded as truth, undaunted intrepidity to maintain it, abilities both natural and acquired to defend it, and unwearied industry to propagate it, are virtues which shine so conspicuously in every part of his behaviour, that even his enemies must allow him to have possessed them in an eminent degree. To these may be added, with equal justice, such purity, and even austerity of manners, as became one who assumed the character of a reformer; such sanctity of life as suited the doctrine which he delivered; and such perfect disinterestedness, as affords no slight presumption of his sincerity. Superior to all selfish considerations, a stranger to the elegances of life, and despising its pleasures, he left the honours and emoluments of the church to his disciples; remaining satisfied himself in his original state of professor in the university, and pastor to the town of Wittemberg, with the moderate appointments annexed to these offices.

His extraordinary qualities were alloyed with no inconsiderable mixture of human frailty, and human passions. These, however, were of such a nature, that they cannot be imputed to malevolence or corruption of heart, but seem to have taken their rise from the same source with many of his virtues. His mind, forcible and vehement in all its operations, roused by great objects, or agitated by violent passions, broke out, on many occasions, with an impetuosity which astonishes men of feebler spirits, or such as are placed in a more tranquil situation. By carrying some praiseworthy dispositions to excess, he bordered sometimes on what was culpable, and was often be

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trayed into actions which exposed him to censure. His confidence that his own opinions were well founded, approached to arrogance; his courage in asserting them, to rashness; his firmness in adhering to them, to obstinacy; and his zeal in confuting his adversaries, to rage and scurrility. Accustomed himself to consider every thing as subordinate to truth, he expected the same deference for it from other men; and, without making any allowances for their timidity or prejudices, he poured forth, against those who disappointed him in this particular, a torrent of invective mingled with contempt. Regardless of any distinction of rank or character, when his doctrines were attacked, he chastised all his adversaries, indiscriminately, with the same rough hand: neither the royal dignity of Henry VIII. nor the eminent learning and ability of Erasmus, screened them from the abuse with which he treated Tetzel or Eccius. But these indecencies of which Luther was guilty, must not be imputed wholly to the violence of his temper. They ought to be charged in part on the manners of the age. Among a rude people, nnacquainted with those maxims, which, by putting continual restraint on the passions of individuals, have polished society, and rendered it agreeable, disputes of every kind were managed with heat, and strong emotions were uttered in their natural language, without reserve or delicacy. At the same time, the works of learned men were all composed in Latin; and they were not only authorized, by the example of eminent writers in that language, to use their antagonists with the most illiberal scurrility; but, in a dead tongue, in

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