17 NOVEMBER 1855, Page 25



THE reign of Philip the Second of Spain was remarkable not only for the world-wide affairs in which the extent of the King's do- minions involved him, and the greatness of many of the events with which he was connected ; his reign was a turning-point of time. Henry the Seventh of England, and Louis the Eleventh of France, by depressing the feudal nobility and lending a hand to the burghers or middle classes, may be said to mark the boundary- line between the mediaeval and modern social systems. Un- der their successors, Charles the Fifth, Francis the First, and Henry the Eighth, the political idea of the balance of power originated; and the broad outlines of Europe much as it ex- isted till the French Revolution were laid down. The reign of Philip witnessed the final decline of the feudal or mediae- val systems and opinions, and the formation of those of the modern world. The Popedom passed away as a material power, capable not exactly of waging war—for that the Church was never strong enough to do—but of moving temporal powers to wage war for Church purposes. When the seamanship of Drake and the tem- pests of the North Sea destroyed the Armada, the scheme of Papal crusades perished never to revive. The insurrection of the Netherlands was the first example of popular opposition to rulers based upon some general feeling of the rights of man, in addition to the claims of national privileges or customs apart from tempo- rary grievances : an example soon followed in England under Charles the First, and later in America and France. The empire and the power given to Philip by his father were wasted or de- stroyed by Philip during his own life. The prestige of the Em- peror and the Colonial possessions sustained for half a century the repute of Spanish power, but Philip left its real power at nearly as low an ebb as it continued till the French Revolution.

The ignorant bigotry, the slow tenacity of purpose, the cold- blooded cruelty, which distinguished the Spaniard of that age, were combined in Philip with the hypocritical cunning of a Jesuit. His sustained resolution, if not his strength of character, and a reserve which had the appearance of depth and inspired terror, enabled him to imprint not only his own policy but his own cha- racter upon his government. Sometimes, as in the case of Alva, his agents were as cruel and unscrupulous as himself, without the feeling which Philip seems to have entertained, that his people were his property or flock, and ought not to be injured or impoverished unless his own dignity or the Catholic religion was at stake, when everything must finally give way : we say finally, for his nature was dissimulating and procrastinating, so that he acted slowly even against heretics.

The revolting character of his government, the religious bigotry that ever animated him, with the facility of writing and publication in the Netherlands, and in England in a less degree, have stamped the features of his reign and its character broadly into history. Of late, new materials have been made available. A more critical spirit has within these thirty or forty years applied itself to materials that always existed, if the disposition and industry had existed to search for them—as public collections of documents, and rare books. Since 1844, more secret sources of Spanish history have been opened to the world by the admission of scholars to the ancient archives of Simancas ; which Mr. Stirling in his " Cloister Life of Charles the Fifth," and some French writers, have turned to good account. The growing liberality of the age has given greater facilities to the examination of state papers. Attention has been directed to collections always perhaps acces- sible to persons with interest, time, and money, but whose very existence was almost forgotten. Unflagging zeal has analyzed their contents, and in many cases published the pith of the collection. In this important work France and Belgium have been very forward. This country has spent a good deal of money —probably equal to thirty or forty millions of francs ; and the most conspicuous result is a building without an approach, and not applied to its ostensible object. Of these resources Mr. Prescott has availed himself; but his preface informs the reader that the most valuable assistance has been rendered him by his friend Don Pascual de Gayangos, Pro- fessor of Arabic at Madrid. This scholar not only " devoted him- self with unwearied assiduity to the examination of many of the principal collections both in England and on the Continent," as well as the national archives of Simancas ; he also brought to his other qualifications " a remarkable facility, such as long prac- tice only can give, in deciphering the mysterious handwriting of the sixteenth century " ; a labour which the historian's imperfect • History of the Reign of Phi* the Second, King of Spain. By William II. Prescott, Corresponding Memberrkf the Institute of France, of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid, 8sc. Volu es I. and II. Published by Bentley.

sight would have rendered impossible even if he had possessed the requisite skill.

The result of all these additional sources of information is a great deal of new light upon the secret consultations, advices, and policy of the Court of Philip in relation to the affairs of Flanders. -Much light also is thrown upon the traits of individuals, as unfolded in their correspondence ; some mysteries are cleared up—as the secret execution or rather murder of Montigny, and the romantic halo which lovers of the wonderful have thrown about Don Carlos. Upon the broad policy of Philip, upon the broad features of his character and that of his chief agents, fresh knowledge produces no change. They stand out as popular impression ever has re- ceived them—cruel, remorseless, bloody, dark, hypocritical, and vindictive, their revenge calculating and malignant without even the excuse of passion. The literary execution of the book is charming. The style is so easy, pellucid, and balanced in its sentences, that the reader is car- ried along without trouble, almost without thought. The images in description or narrative are so well selected and well placed, the sentiments are always so elegant and appropriate, the conclu- sions mostly so fair if not always just, that the reader travels with his author-companion in the most delightful manner. The critic will be apt to think there is something too much of what in art might be termed pretty. The uniformity is not weari- some by its monotony, but it wants that life and impressiveness which a style varying with the nature of its subject produces. The adoption of a system or manner of composition occasionally induces the author to miss the exact meaning of his authorities, as well as to lose somewhat of their spirit or character. Thus, in a sort of letter or remonstrance to Philip by the Flemish Lords, they close with an apology : for, in Mr. Prescott's words, "they were no haranguers or orators, but men accustomed to act rather than to talk, as was suited to persons of their quality." In the original, the dignity is rather more sustained if not more boastful ; the hit at Cardinal Granvelle, a man of no de- scent, is more pointed. " Que ne sommes point de nature grans orateurs ou haranguers, et plus accoustumez d bein faire, qu'd bein dire, comme aussy it est mieuex gent a gens de notre quality." When Philip at last wrote a clear account of his policy not of his slaughterous intent) to the Council of the Netherlands, Viglius de- scribes its reception. " Dieu wait qua risaiges ils out monstres, et qua mesoontentement ile out, voyans l'absolute volunte du Roy." This the historian renders by " God knows what wry faces were made in the Council on learning the absolute will of his Majesty." When the Council broke up, Mr. Prescott describes the Prince of Orange as exclaiming : " William was heard to exclaim, ' Now we shall see the beginning of a fine tragedy.' " The indiscreet openness implied by this phrase seems very contrary to the cau- tions character of " William the Taciturn"; nor did the Prince exclaim, but whisper, "Qua conclusione acceptk, Princeps Auria- cencis cuidam in aurem digit (qui post id retulit) quasi betas glo- riabundasque : viauros nos brevi egregim tragedia3 mitium." It is probably an invention altogether, to represent the Prince as a predetermined revolter.

The loftier character of the historian, according to the require- ments of the present age, is hardly reached by Mr. Prescott. His narrative is not superficial, but he seldom gets very far below the surface. His judgment is fair and tolerant, but it can hardly be called penetrating or profound. He seems deficient in that knowledge of political and economical philosophy, and of that broad acquaintance with the arts, the laws, and the manners of men, which modern historians are supposed to possess : at least, if he has the knowledge he does not display it. In substance, he way be described as belonging to a former school, whore a per- spicuous and elegant style was a prime requisite of the historian, and an accurate reflex of his materials was deemed more necessary than a fusion of the whole to develop new properties. Combined with taste, industry, and general information, these 9ualities produce a more attractive narrative than when the story is stopped by reflections or disquisitions, even if possessing the very pith and spirit of philosophy, still more when impeded by longwinded discussions. As we have said already, the History of the Reign of Philip the Second is a charming book. It has, how- ever, a touch of bookmaking; not in the common way of tasteless expansion, or even for the purpose of using up good matter, but it is too episodical. The resignation of his power by Charles the Fifth, though described with unapproachable skill by one of Mr. Pres- cott's masters, Robertson, was necessary as an introduction to the accession of Philip. The Emperor's Spanish retirement, except when his opinion might influence events, was a mere episode, now the less necessary because Mr. Stirling has told the story with more fulness than can ever be proper save in a special work. The direct wars of Philip with Turkey and the Corsair States of Barbary are connected with his history. The defence of Malta by the Knights Hospitallers against the forces of Solyman the Magnificent bad

little more to do with Spain than with any other Southward country, beyond the fact that, after long delay, the Viceroy of Naples sent assistance to the besieged. The story, too, may be read in the pages of Vertot or his numerous borrowers. The full account of Philip's marriage and residence in England, proper to his life, is per- haps less so to his reign. The descriptions of pageants and ceremonies seem numerous, if not too prominent. In the general idea of history individual story may fill too large a space—as the entrapment, imprisonment, and (scarcely) legal murder of Egmont, Howie, and Montigny. These things are all very attractively done; the fate of the three noble martyrs to the cruelty of Philip and .Alva are among the most interesting .parts of the history. But time and space have to be considered in books. The two volumes be- fore us contain upwards of a thousand pages, yet they are little more than introductory. The curtain drops on the opening revolt in the Netherlands, the causes which led to it having been well and fully narrated. The government of Spain is only briefly en- tered upon. The conquest of Portugal, and the general policy of the King, which was finally to work the ruin of Spain though not ostensibly of himself, are not even approached. If all histories were written upon this scale, life would not suffice for one branch of letters.

Mr. Prescott's researches appear to have led him to a somewhat more favourable view of Philip's character than the world ge- nerally entertains, though without blinding him to the King's ob- vious faults. As yet we see no reason for this more lenient view, unless it be that his tyranny was not hasty or gratuitous : there was a considered purpose in his actions. That he was conscientious in his policy, and prepared to sacrifice his life to his convictions, is probably true : but a man is responsible for a wrong conviction. Whether he had any natural affection may be doubted. He had a sense of family duty. This is shown by his reverence to his father, and his conduct to his natural sister • and brother, the Duchess of Parma and Don John of Austria. John, too, came upon him by surprise after his father's death, up to which time the relationship was a secret except to the Emperor's major-domo and confidential officer Quixada.

Instances may be adduced against this opinion,—as —as his treat- ment of Don Carlos. But in such cases, we think what is called his " conscience " came into operation, and it was a conscience that would stretch about as far as an accommodating casuistry would pull it. The ease of Don Carlos, however, was a difficult matter; and though Mr. Prescott leans more to that ill-conditioned youth than we think the facts justify, he has put an end to the idle nonsense of romancists. The Prince seems to have been really though perhaps not obviously mad. The passive insanity of his great-grandmother Joanna, that touched his grandfather the Em- peror with melancholy, and possibly originated some of his father Philip's worst peculiarities, appeared actively in Carlos. We know from Mr. Stirling how frowardly the boy conducted himself to his grandfather on his arrival in Spain, and how bad an opinion the Emperor formed of him. When placed under other tutors, he exhibited no interest in his book studies, or even in the manly sports and exercises essential to a gentleman of that day. One of his amusements is said to have been roasting game alive, that was brought to him, apparently, as pets or curiosities. He had that sense of personal consequence which sticks by princes to the very last, and probably by people in general. Madmen are observed to be more affected by personal slights than by other circumstances connected with their condition.

" On the 22d of the same month, Carlos was formally recognized by the Cortes of Castile as heir to the crown. On this occasion the different members of the Royal Family were present, together with the great nobles and the representatives of the commons. The Prince rode in the procession an a white horse, superbly caparisoned, while his dress, resplendent with jewels, formed a sad contrast to the sallow and sickly countenance of its wearer. Ha performed his part of the ceremony with dignity and feeling. When Joanna his aunt and his uncle Don John of Austria, after taking the oath, would have knelt, according to custom, to kiss his hand, he would not allow it, but affectionately raised and embraced them. But when the Duke of Alva inadvertently omitted the latter act of obeisance, the Prince re- ceived him so coldly, that the haughty nobleman, rebuked by his manner, perceived his error, and humblraoknowledged

Not long after this, Carlos fell down a flight of steps. Besides some injury to the skull which rendered trepanning necessary, he was affected with a violent fever, and for some time his life was de- spaired of. The King, notwithstanding the disappointment he must have felt at the conduct of his heir, showed upon this occa- sion as much tenderness as it was in his nature to display. The Prince on his recovery exhibited no amendment, but the reverse.

" There is good reason to suppose that the blow on his head did some per- manent injury to the brain. At least this may be inferred from the absurd eccentricities of his subsequent conduct, and the reckless manner in which he abandoned himself to the gratification of his passions. In 1565, on his recovery from one of those attacks of quartan fever which still beset him, Philip remarked, with a sigh, to the French Minister, St. Sulpice, ' that he hoped his repeated warnings might restrain the Prince, for the future, from making such fatal inroads on his health.' But the unfortunate young man pro- fited as little by such warnings as by his own experience. Persona about the court at this period have left us many stories of his mad humours, which formed the current scandal at Madrid. Brantdme, who was there in 1564, says that Carlos would patrol the streets with a number of young nobles, of the same lawless habits with himself, assaulting the passengers with drawn swords, kissing the women, and insulting even ladies of the highest rank with the most opprobrious epithets. " It was the fashion for the young gallants of the court to wear very large boots. Carlos had his made even larger than usual, to accommodate a pair of pistols. Philip, in order to prevent the mischievous practice, ordered his son's boots to be made of smaller dimensions. But when the trootmaker brought them to the palace, Carlos, in a rage, gave him a beating ; and then, order-. ing the leather to be cut in pieces and stewed, he forced the unlucky me-

chanic to swallow this unsavoury fricassee—as much as he could get down of it—on the spot.

" On one occasion, he made a.violent assault on his governor, Don Garcia de Toledo, for some slight cause of offence. On another, he would have thrown his Chamberlain, Don Alonzo de Cdrdova, out of the window. These noblemen complained to Philip, and besought him to release them from a service where they were exposed to affronts which they could not resent."

Even Alva himself did not escape his capricious humour. He might have entertained some dislike to the great soldier from the oversight already mentioned, and clung to it with the tenacity of mania. The more immediate cause wasjealousy. He wanted to go to the Netherlands as Governor, instead of Alva.

" As the Duke came to pay his respects to him previous to his departure, the Prince fiercely said, ' You are not to go to Flanders ; I will go there myself.' Alva endeavoured to pacify him, saying that it was too dangerous a mission for the heir to the throne ; that he was going to quiet the troubles of the country, and prepare it for the coming of the Ring, when the Prince could accompany his father, if his presence could be spared in Castile. But this explanation served only to irritate Carlos the more ; and, drawing his dagger, be turned suddenly on the Duke, exclaiming, You shall not go ; if you do, I will kill you.' A struggle ensued—an awkward one for Alva— as to have injured the heir-apparent might have been construed into treason. Fortunately, being much the stronger of the two, he grappled with Carlos, and held him tight, while the latter exhausted hie strength in ineffectual struggles to escape. But no sooner was the Prince released, than be turned again, with the fury of a madman, on the Duke, who again closed with him, when the noise of the fray brought in one of the Chamberlains from an ad- joining room ; and Carlos, extricating himself from the iron grasp of his ad- versary, withdrew to his own apartment. " Such an outrage on the person of his Minister was regarded by Philip as an indignity to himself. It widened the breach, already too wide, between father and son ; and so great was their estrangement, that when living in the same palace they seem to have had no communication with each other."

Independently of his disappointment, Philip must have been peculiarly shocked by these scandals and outrages, being himself so grave and decorous in his personal conduct; while thoughtful people looked with apprehension on the prospects of the empire under such a monarch. A story is told in a manuscript, written by one of the Prince's household, which, whether the origin of the conduct be guilt or madness, justified the King in adopting re- straining measures.

" While these negotiations were in progress, [for raising a loan to enable Carlos to fly the kingdom,) a circumstance occurred exhibiting the conduct of Carlos in suoh a light that it may claim the shelter of insanity. The story is told by one of the Prince's household, an ayuda de camera, or gentleman of the chamber, who was present at the scene, which he describes with much simplicity.

" For some days, his master, he tells us, had no rest, frequently repeat- ing, that ' he desired to kill a man with whom he had a quarrel.' The same thing he said—without, however, intimating who the man was—to his uncle, Don John of Austria, in whom he seems to have placed unbounded confidence. This was near Christmas, in 1567. It was oustomary on the 28th of December, the day of the Innocents, for the members of the Royal Family to appear together, and take the sacrament in public. Carlos, in order to prepare for this, on the preceding evening went to the church of St. Jerome, to confess and receive absolution. But the confessor, when he heard the strange avowal of his murderous appetite, refused to grant absolution. Carlos applied to another ecclesiastic, but with as little success. In vain he endeavoured to argue the case. They recommended him to send for more learned divines, and take their opinion. He did so forthwith ; and no less than fourteen monks from the convent of Our Lady of Atocha, and two from another quarter, were brought together to settle this strange point of ca- suistry. Greatly shocked, they were unanimous in their opinion, that, under the circumstances, absolution could not be granted. Carlos next inquired whether he might not be allowed to receive an unconsecrated wafer, which would obviate the scandal that his omitting to take the sacrament would in- fallibly occasion in the court. The reverend body were thrown into fresh consternation by this proposal. The Prior of Atocha, who was among the number, wishing to draw from Carlos the name of his enemy, told him that this intelligence might possibly have some influence on the judgment of the divines. The Prince replied, that his father was the person, and that he wished to have his life !' The Prior calmly inquired if any one was to aid him in the designs against his father. But Canoe only repeated his former declaration ; and two hours after midnight the conclave broke up in un- speakable dismay. A messenger was despatched to the Escorial, where the King then was, to acquaint him with the whole affair."

Such was the ill-conditioned youth whom novelists, poetasters, and playwrights, have elevated to the position of a hero of ro- mance. That restraint of some kind was indispensable, is evident. That it was stricter and possibly more galling than was necessary, seems to have been the case. The arrest made under Philip's personal inspection, and the subsequent imprisonment, are told in detail by Mr. Prescott. The cause of death he cannot settle : whether it was natural—severe confinement and mental irritation operating upon a sickly constitution continually obnoxious to dia.. ease ; or whether natural consequences were aggravated by tempta- tions to irregular living and most imprudent conduct, so as de- signedly to hasten his end ; or whether he was directly taken off. The former is the most charitable conclusion ; and, according to the accounts of the Papal and Tuscan Ministers, it is the truth. Even the Nuncio, however, could know nothing but what he was told.

"The mental excitement under which he laboured, combined with the want of air and exercise, produced its natural effect upon his health. Every day he became more and more emaciated ; while the fever which had so long preyed on his constitution now burned in his veins with greater fury than ever. To allay the intolerable heat, he resorted to such desperate expedients as seemed to intimate, says the Papal Nuncio, that, if debarred from laying violent hands on himself, he would accomplish the same end in a slower way, but not less sure. He deluged the floor with water, not a little to the incon- venience of the companions of his prison, and walked about for hours, half naked, with bare feet, on the cold pavement. He caused a warming-pan filled with ice and snow to be introduced several times in a night into his bed, and let it remain there for hours together. As if this were not enough, he would gulp down such draughts of snow-water as distance any achieve- ment on record in the annals of hydropathy. He pursued the same mad course in respect to what he ate. He would abstain from food an incredible number of days, and then, indulging in proportion to his former abstinence,

would devour a pastry of four partridges, with all the paste, at a sitting, washing it down with three gallons or more of iced water ! "No constitution could long withstand such violent assaults as these. The constitution of Carlos gradually sank under them. His stomach, debilitated by long inaction, refused to perform the extraordinary tasks that were im- posed on it. He was attacked by incessant vomiting ; dysentery set in ; and his strength rapidly failed. The physician, °Hoare's, who alone saw the patient, consulted with his brethren in the apartments of Buy Gomez. Their remedies failed to restore the exhausted energies of nature ; and it was soon evident that the days of Carlos were numbered. "To no one could such an announcement have given less concern than to Carlos; for be had impatiently looked to death as to his release. From this hour he seemed to discard all earthly troubles from his mind, as he fixed his thoughts steadfastly on the future. At his own request, his confessor, Chavres, and Suarez, his almoner, were summoned, and assisted him with their spiritual consolations."