« ZurückWeiter »
la weak constitution both of body and mind ; the
régency was vested in a woman, and that woman a Castilian; the nation was involved in a war, and this respecting the title to the crown itself ; the nobility were almost all of them embarked in feuds and contentions with each other ; so that
the queen scarcely knew whom she was to trust, ** or how she should be obeyed. Her conduct, how
ever, was vigorous and prudent. By marrying her only daughter, the princess Catherine, to Charles II. of England, she procured the
valuable assistance of that country, A.D. - which enabled her to gain the glorious
1665. victory of Montesclaros, that broke the Spanish power, and fixed the fate of the kingdom, though not of its king.
Alonzo's education had been neglected, and his intellects besides were poor. He was fond of low company, and it is said that his mother rather encouraged than checked his foibles, in order to exalt her younger son Don Pedro, to whom she was more partial, and who more natural abilities. Those who hoped to profit by exciting a misunderstanding between the young king and his mother, did not fail to
point out to Alonzo this unjust preference; 34 and the jealousy excited on this account, kept
him at a distance from court. The queen had governed with universal applause during his minority, but attempting to continue her power, she was driven from the direction of affairs by the favourites of the king. On her death-bed she exhorted her sons to concord ;- but they remained as opposite in sentiments as in person and mind. -Just before the death of the queen-mother, H 3
who certainly possessed masculine endowments as a ruler and a politician, the king had married the princess of Nemours, though a report had been spread that he was impotent. The young queen on her arrival seems to have won the heart of Don Pedro, as he did hers; and this probably led to all the singular events that ensued.
Alonzo was subject to the most furious fits of passion : he was capricious and inconstant; and among those who approached his person he was thought to be insane. His brother Pedro now treated him with every mark of external respect and attention; but secretly endeavoured to win over the citizens of Lisbon, and particularly the clergy, by an affectation of piety and generosity.
The strange conduct of the king, which was a mixture of imbecility and madness, gradually alienated the affections of his courtiers; and the queen and Don Pedro, who seem perfectly to have understood each other, took care to heighten this by every aggravation, under the affected mask of pity and excuse. At last he found him. self, through their intrigues, without friends and without counsellors; and to add to his distress, the queen retired to a convent, from whence she sent him a letter full of reproaches for his treatment of her, and of insinuations against his virility, under the delicate expression, “ you know I cannot be yours.”
By a preconcerted plan a council was immediately assembled, in which it was declared, that it was necessary to the welfare of the state that Alonzo should abdicate the crown, and his brother Pedro supply his place. This resolu. tion was presented to the king, but he refused
to comply, till Pedro, entering the palace, caused his brother to be arrested. A person,
suborned for the purpose, endeavoured to persuade him, that if he resigned he would reccver his liberty, Having acceded to this, it was next proposed that he should sign a declaration, signifying that his marriage was void. He requested time, however, to confer with the doctors of the church on this subject, which being granted, he complied with this request also. Alonzo was then formally deposed; but, in order to save appearances, his brother Pedro was only declared regent.
Don Pedro was only twenty-one years A. D. of age when he assumed this high of
1667. fice, and, on account of his youth, some were inclined to believe that he was not the contriver of the revolution. The queen, indeed, was nearly of the same age, but she was of a nation and sex full of intrigue, and there can be little doubt of her being the moving principle, the very soul of what took place.
Alonzo seemed to take little notice of the change in his situation during the day; but, when evening approached, finding himself deserted and alone, he begged his brother to send him John, the whipper-in, by way of company. This humble request, whether dictated by the bitterness of grief, or the delirium of despair, so much affected Don Pedro, that he burst into tears, in commiseration of his brother's unhappy fate, a sensibility which does honour to his heart; but the queen, who was dead to every tender feeling, as far as regarded Alonzo, voucshafed not a single sigh at the contemplation of his reverses.
In an assembly of the states, the deposition of Alonzo and the regency of Pedro were confirmed. One of the first cares of the latter was to re-establish the police of Lisbon, which Alonzo's own example had tended to destroy. To such a pitch of folly or madness had he arrived, that he used to run through the streets in the night, and strike every person he met. He is even accused of having wounded several who fell in his way during these nocturnal excursions. It is, therefore, little to be wondered at, that his manners were offensive to his queen, and that when she found herself emancipated from him she should wish to remain on the throne, and share it with a husband more agreeable to her taste.
To save appearances, however, it was necessary to amuse the public with the idea, that her marriage with Don Pedro would be an affair of policy and prudence rather than of love. The princess of Nemours gave out that she wished to be legally freed from her former ties, merely to recover her dowry, and retire to France. The marriage was declared void, with the consent of Alonzo, who acknowledged the truth of his queen's insinuations or open assertions against him; but the states, as unwilling or unable to return her portion as she was little disposed to claim it, by a finesse, in which neither party was deceived, pressed her to remain among
them, and to espouse Don Pedro as a discharge for the debt. A novelist would have worked up this scene between the ex-queen and the deputation of the states, with all the attributes of crimson blushes and delicate embarrassment; but we shall observe the gravity
of history, and say, that she only kept a decent silence, which was construed into assent.
The deputies of the states next waited on Don Pedro, and represented this marriage as necessary for the tranquillity of the kingdom, as well as for his own interest and happiness. The regent had already given the princess of Nemours his heart, and he made no hesitation in offering her his hand. Thus every thing was settled to the mutual satisfaction of both
par ties principally concerned, as well as of the ostensible agents in the business.
Few marriages, indeed, had been conducted with more diplomatic form, or presented a more singular union. The nuptials were celebrated with great pomp; and Alonzo, in his prison, first heard the news by the thundering of cannon. At first he appeared a little surprised and agitated at the intelligence, but, soon recovering himself, said, that “he pitied his brother, who he did not doubt would soon be as much tired of the French woman as he had been.' This proves that Alonzo was as indifferent as his former queen could possibly be, and that no affection was wounded by their separation.
Don Pedro, however, though ambition silenced the voice of conscience, it could not stifle the feelings of nature.
He could not endure an object perpetually before his eyes that filled him with self-reproach, and therefore transported his brother to the island of Tercera, a safe and agreeable retreat, where he might enjoy the pleasures of the chase without interruption. But fortune was not yet weary of persecuting