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duchess of Valentinois to direct public affairs at their BOOK , pleasure. They soon prevailed on the king to nominate – plenipotentiaries to treat of peace. Philip did the same. 1558.
The abbey of Cercamp was fixed on as the place of congress; and all military operations were immediately terminated by a suspension of arms.
While these preliminary steps were taking towards a Death of treaty which restored tranquillity to Europe, Charles V., Charles V. whose ambition had so long disturbed it, ended his days in the monastery of St Justus. When Charles entered this retreat, he formed such a plan of life for himself as would have suited the condition of a private gentleman of a moderate fortune. His table was neat, but plain; bis domestics few; his intercourse with them familiar ; all the cumbersome and ceremonious forms of attendance on bis 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, together with his deliverance from the burdens and cares of government, procured him, at first, a considerable remission from the acute pains with which he had been long tormented, he enjoyed, perhaps, more complete satisfaction in this humble solitude, than all his grandeur had ever yielded him. 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.
Other amusements and other objects now occupied him. His amuse: Sometimes he cultivated the plants in his garden with his ments in
his retreat. own hands; sometimes he rode out to the neighbouring wood on a little horse, the only one that he kept, attended hy a single servant,on foot. When his infirmities con
BOOK fined him to his apartment, which often happened, and
deprived him of these more active recreations, he either 1558.
Bdmitted a few gentlemen who resided near the monastery to visit him, and entertained them familiarly at his table, or he employed himself in studying mechanical principles, and in forming curious works of mechanism, of which he had always been remarkably fond, and to which his genius was peculiarly turned. With this view, he had engaged Turriano, one of the most ingenious artists of that age, to accompany him in his retreat. He laboured together with him in framing models of the most useful machines, as well as in making experiments with regard to their respective powers, and it was not seldom that the ideas of the monarch assisted or perfected the inventions of the artist. He relieved his mind, at intervals, with slighter and more fantastic works of mechanism, in fashioning puppets, which, by the structure of internal springs, mimicked the gestures and actions of men, to the astonishment of the ignorant monks, who, beholding movements which they could not comprehend, sometimes distrusted their own senses, and sometimes suspected Charles and Turriano of being in compact with invisible powers. He was particularly curious with regard to the construction of clocks and watches ; and having found, after repeated trials, that he could not bring any two of them to go exactly alike, he reflected, it is said, with a mixture of surprise as well as regret on his own folly, in having bestowed so much time and labour on the more vain attempt of bringing mankind to a precise uniformity of sentiment concerning the profound and mysterious doctrines of religion.
But in what manner soever Charles disposed of the rest His more serious oc- of his time, he constantly reserved a considerable portion cupations. of it for religioas exercises. He regularly attended divine
service in the chapel of the monastery, every morning and evening; he took great pleasure in reading books of devotion, particularly the works of St Augustine and St Bernard; and conversed much with his confessor, and the prior of the monastery, on pious subjects. Thus BOOK
XII. did Charles pass the first year of his retreat, in a manner not unbecoming a man perfectly disengaged from the af- 1558. fairs of the present life, and standing on the confines of a future world; either in innocent amusemnents, which soothed his pains, and relieved a mind worn out with excessive application to business, or in devout occupaLions, which he deemed necessary in preparing for another state.
But about six months before his death, the gout, after the causes a longer intermission than usual, returned with a propor- of his
death. tional increase of violence. His shattered constitution Irad not vigour enough remaining to withstand such a shock. It enfeebled his mind as much as his body; and from this period we hardly discern any traces of that sound and masculine understanding which distinguished Charles among his contemporaries. An illiberal and timid superstition depressed his spirit. He had no relish for amusements of any kind. He endeavoured to conform, in his manner of living, to all the rigour of monastic austerity. He desired no other society than that of monks, and was almost continually employed with them in chanting the hymns of the Missal. As an expiation for his sins, he gave bimself the discipline in secret, with such severity, that the whip of cords which he employed as the instrument of his punishment; was found after his decease tinged with his blood. Nor was he satisfied with these acts of mortification, which, however severe, were not unexampled. The timorous and distrustful solicitude which always accompanies superstition, still continued to disquiet him, and depreciating all the devout exercises in which he had bitherto been engaged, prompted him to aim at something extraordinary, at some new and singular act of piety, that would display his zeal and merit the favour of Heaven. The act on which he fixed was as wild and uncommon as any that superstition ever suggested to a weak and disordered fancy. He resolved to celebrate bis own obsequies before his death. He ordered his tomb to
BOOK be erected in the chapel of the monastery. His domes:
tics marched thither in funeral procession, with black ta1558.
pers in their hands. He himself followed in his shroud. He was laid in his coffin with much solemnity. The service for the dead was chanted, and Charles joined in the prayers which were offered up for the rest of his soul, mingling his tears with those wbich his attendants shed, as if they had been celebrating a real funeral. The cere. mony closed with sprinkling holy water on the coffin, in the usual form, and all the assistants retiring, the doors of the chapel were shut. Then Charles rose out of the coffin, and withdrew to his apartment, full of those awful sentiments which such a singular solemnity was calculated to inspire. But either the fatiguing length of the ceremony, or the impression which the image of death left on his mind, affected him so much, that next day he was seized with a fever. His feeble frame could not long resist its violence, and he expired on the twenty-first of September, after a life of fifty-eight years, six months,
and twenty-five days). His chao
As Charles was the first prince of the age in rank and dignity, the part which he acted, whether we consider the greatness, the variety, or the success of his undertakings, was the most conspicuous. It is from an attentive observation of his conduct, not from the exaggerated praises of the Spanish historians, or the undistinguishing censure of the French, that a just idea of Charles's genius and abilities is to be collected. He possessed qualities so peculiar, that they strongly mark his character, and not only distinguish him from the princes who were his contemporaries, but account for that superiority over them which he so long maintained. In forming hiş schemes, he was, by nature, as well as by habit, cautious and considerate. Born with talents which unfolded themselves slowly, and were late in attaining maturity, he was accustomed to ponder every subject that demanded lus con
y Strada de Bello Bag. Ii», i, n. 1'. 'Thuan 723. Sandtry. ii, 609, &c. Miniana Contin. Marianæ, vui. iv, 210. Vera y Zuniga Vida de Carios, p. 111.
sideration, with a careful and deliberate attention. He BOOK bent the whole force of his mind towards it; and dsvelling upon it with a serious application, undiverted by pleasure, and hardly relaxed by any amusement, he revolved it in silence in his own breast. He then communicated the matter to his ministers; and, after hearing their opinions, took his resoiution with a decisive firmness, which seldom follows such slow, and seemingly hesitating consultations. Of consequence, Charles's measures, instead of resembling the desultory and irregular sallies of Henry VIII. or Francis I. had the appearance of a consistent system, in which all the parts were arranged, all the efiects were foreseen, and even every accident was provided for, His promptitude in execution was no less remarkable than his patience in deliberation. He did not discover greater sagacity in his choice of the measures which it was proper to pursue, than fertility of genius in finding out the means for rendering his pursuit of them successfui: Though he had naturally so little of the martial turn, that during the most ardent and bustling period of life, he remained in the cabinet inactive, yet when he chose ať length to appear at the head of his armies, his mind was so formed for vigorous exertions, in every direction, that he acquired such knowledge in the art of war, and such talents for cominand, as rendered him equal in reputation and success to the most able generals of the age. But Charles possessed, in the most eminent degree, the science which is of greatest importance to a monarch, that of knowing men, and of adapting their talents to the various departments which he allotted to them. From the deatlı of Chievres to the end of his reign, be employed no general in the field, no minister in the cabinet, no ambassador to a foreign court, no governor of a province, whose abilities were inadequate to the trust which he reposed in them. Though destitute of that bewitching aftability of manners which gained Francis the hearts of all who approached his person, he was no stranger to the virtues which secure fidelity and attachment. He placed na... VOL. VI.