« ПредишнаНапред »
Queen Ann Boleyn's last Letter to King Henry."
“ Your grace's displeasure, and my imprisonment, are things so strange unto me, as what to write, or what to excuse, I am altogether ignorant. Whereas you send unto me (willing me to confess a truth, and so obtain your favour) by such an one, whom you know to be mine ancient professed enemy. I no sooner received this message by him, than I rightly conceived your meaning; and if, as you say, confessing a truth, indeed, may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty perform your command.
“ But let not your grace ever imagine, that your poor wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a fault, where not so much as a thought thereof preceded. And to speak a truth, never prince had wife more loyal in all duty, and in all true affection, than you have ever found in Ann Boleyn: with which name and place I could willingly have contented myself, if God and your grace's pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I' at any time so far forget myself in my exaltation, or received queenship, but that I always looked for such an alteration as now I find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your grace's fancy, the least alteration I knew was fit and sufficient to draw that fancy to some other subject. You have chosen me, from a low estate, to be your queen and
companion, far beyond my desert and desire. If then you found me worthy of such honour, good your grace let not any light fancy, or bad counsel of mine enemies, withdraw your princely favour from me; neither let that stain, that unworthy stain, of a disloyal heart towards your good grace, ever cast so foul a blot on your most dutiful wife, and the infant princess your daughter. Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and judges; yea let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see either mine inno
: Cotton Lib. Otho, C. 10.
cency cleared, your suspicion and conscience satisfied, the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your grace may be freed from an open censure, and mine offence being so lawfully proved, your grace is at liberty, both before God and man, not only to execute worthy punishment on me as an unlawful wife, but to follow your affection, already settled on that party, for whose sake I am now as I
am, whose name I could some good while since have pointed unto, your grace being not ignorant of my suspicion therein.
“ But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great sin therein, and likewise mine enemies, the instruments thereof; and that he will not call you to a strict account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his general judgment seat, where both you and myself must shortly appear, and in whose judgment I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me) mine innocence shall be openly known and sufficiently cleared.
“ My last and only request shall be, that myself may only bear the burthen of your grace's displeasure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen who (as I understand) are likewise in strait imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your sight, if ever the name of Ann Boleyn hath been pleasing in your ears, then let me obtain this request, and I will so leave to trouble your grace any further, with mine earnest prayers to the Trinity to have your grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your actions. Frong my doleful prison in the Tower, this sixth of May. “ Your most loyal and ever faithful wife,
“ ANN BOLEYN."
No. 399. SATURDAY, JULY 7.
Ut nemo in sese tentat descendere !
HYPOCRISY, at the fashionable end of the town, is very different from hypocrisy in the city. The modish hypocrite endeavours to appear more vicious than he really is, the other kind of hypocrite more virtuous. The former is afraid of every thing that has the shew of religion in it, and would be thought engaged in many criminal gallantries and amours, which he is not guilty of. The latter assumes a face of sanctity, and covers a multitude of vices under a seeming religious deportment.
But there is another kind of hypocrisy, which differs from both these, and which I intend to make the subject of this paper: I mean that hypocrisy, by which a man does not only deceive the world, but very often imposes on himself; that hypocrisy, which conceals his own heart from him, and makes him believe he is more virtuous than he really is, and either not attend to his vices, or mistake even his vices for virtues. It is this fatal hypocrisy and self-deceit, which is taken notice of in those words, “Who can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me from secret faults.'
If the open professors of impiety deserve the utmost application and endeavours of moral writers to recover them from vice and folly, how much more may those lay a claim to their care and compassion, who are walking in the paths of death, while they fancy themselves engaged in a course of virtue! I shall endeavour, therefore, to lay down some rules for the discovery of those vices that lurk in the secret corners of the soul, and to shew my reader those methods by which he may arrive at a true and impartial knowledge of himself. The usual means prescribed for this purpose, are to examine ourselves by the rules which are laid down for our direction in sacred writ, and to compare our lives with
the life of that person who acted up to the perfection of human nature, and is the standing example, as well as the great guide and instructor, of those who receive his doctrines. Though these two heads cannot be too much insisted upon, I shall but just mention them, since they have been handled by many great and eminent writers.
I would therefore propose the following methods to the consideration of such as would find out their secret faults, and make a true estimate of themselves.
In the first place, let them consider well what are the characters which they bear among their enemies. Our friends very often flatter us, as much as our own hearts. They either do not see our faults, or conceal them from us, or soften them by their representations, after such a manner, that we think them too trivial to be taken notice of. An adversary, on the contrary, makes a stricter search into us, discovers every flaw and imperfection in our tempers, and though his malice may set them in too strong a light, it has generally some ground for what it advances. A friend exaggerates a man's virtues, an enemy inflames his crimes. A wise man should give a just attention to both of them, so far as they may tend to the improveinent of the one, and diminution of the other. Plutarch has written an essay on the benefits which a man may receive from his enemies, and, among the good fruits of enmity, mentions this in particular, that by the reproaches which it casts upon us we see the worst side of ourselves, and open our eyes to several blemishes and defects in our lives and conversations, which we should not have observed, without the help of such ill-natured monitors.
In order likewise to come at a true knowledge of ourselves, we should consider on the other hand how far we may deserve the praises and approbations which the world bestows upon us; whether the actions they cele
* And] And connects the subsequent verb has, with the preceding verbs makes, and discovers. The whole should have run thus, “and though his malice may set them in too strong a light, has generally some grounds for what he advances.”
brate proceed from laudable and worthy motives, and how far we are really possessed of the virtues which gain us applause amongst those with whom we converse. Such a reflection is absolutely necessary, if we consider how apt we are either to value or condemn ourselves by the opinions of others, and to sacrifice the report of our own hearts to the judgment of the world.
In the next place, that we may not deceive ourselves in a point of so much importance, we should not lay too great a stress on any supposed virtues we possess that are of a doubtful nature : and such we may esteem all those in which multitudes of men dissent from us, who are as good and wise as ourselves. We should always act with great cautiousness and circumspection, in points where it is not impossible that we may be deceived. Intemperate zeal, bigotry, and persecution, for any party or opinion, how praise-worthy soever they may appear to weak men of our own principles, produce infinite calamities among mankind, and are highly criminal in their own nature; and yet how many persons eminent for piety suffer such monstrous and absurd principles of action to take root in their minds under the colour of virtues ? For my own part, I must own I never yet knew any party so just and reasonable, that a man could follow it in its height and violence, and at the same time be innocent.
We should likewise be very apprehensive of those actions which proceed from natural constitution, favourite passions, particular education, or whatever promotes our worldly interest or advantage. In these and the like cases, a man's judgment is easily perverted, and a wrong bias hung upon his mind. These are the inlets of prejudice, the unguarded avenues of the mind, by which a thousand errors and secret faults find admission, without being observed or taken notice of. A wise man will suspect those actions to which he is directed by
* Report--judgment] I would rather transpose these two words, and say, "the judgment of our own hearts to the report of the world.” The world reports, but the heart judges.