« السابقةمتابعة »
ON THE CONDUCT AND CHARACTER OF CHRISTINA, QUEEN OF SWEDEN.
THERE are few sovereigns in modern Europe who have been the subject of more applause and censure than Christina, Queen of Sweden. The voluntary abdication of her throne has been viewed by some in no other light than as an infamous desertion of her public duties, for the indulgence of ease and for the enjoyment of private pleasure; although others have professed to discern in that act, the rare and laudable moderation of the true philosopher. Her conversion to the Romish church filled one-half of Europe with grief, shame, and indignation, and has induced the Protestants too hastily to assert, that her mind, in the choice of her religion, was only influenced by a sense of interest; while, from that circumstance alone, the Catholics saw a thousand excellencies in her character, in which they would otherwise have found, perhaps, nothing but what was calculated to create alarm or to excite disgust. Her real learning has not been
more suspected than her real chastity, although the most unbounded panegyrics have been heaped upon both: in short, every great and good quality has been bestowed upon Christina by the zeal of her adherents, and every bad one by the malice of her enemies.
But though the immoderate approbation or immoderate aversion of several writers has led them into unjustifiable extremes, in speaking of Christina, yet it must be confessed, that the character of the daughter of Gustavus is too unimportant to merit the two ponderous quartos of her historian Arckenholtz*. It is not our design then to fill whole pages with a tedious enumeration, as he has done, of every trifling event in her varied life; yet with such a guide, and with the copious materials which he has provided, we may be enabled, in the shape of an historical essay, to lay before our readers those parts of her public and private life which are most deserving of their notice.
Christina was scarcely six years old, when a cannon ball, at Lutzen, put an end to the victorious career of her renowned father, Gustavus Adolphus, who had carried the desolation of war from the centre of Bohemia to the mouth of the Scheldt, from the banks of the Po to * See Memoires sur Christine, Reine de Suede, a Amsterdam, 1751.
the coasts of the Baltic, and had displayed to the oppressor of Germany, the Emperor Ferdinand, the tremendous uncertainty of human greatness. In the plan which the celebrated Oxenstiern, the friend and minister of that great hero, drew out for the regency, we may discern a regard for the rights of the nobility and for the liberties of the people, which reflects honour upon his memory, as it shews his dislike to that form of government which invests an individual with an unlimited authority.
At a very early age Christina is represented to have evinced a remarkable thirst for knowledge. We are solicited to believe, that in her infancy she had made such great proficiency in the Greek tongue, as to be capable of reading Thucidydes and Polybius, and of comparing the different merits of those historians. By the particular wish of the estates of Sweden, a great portion of her time was also devoted to the study of the Bible, as that book, they justly observe in an express memoir, is the source of all other histories. It will not be expected or desired that we should enter into any detail of the minority of Christina, nor upon the reciprocal and perhaps equally just complaints between her and her allies, when she had taken the reins of government into her own hands, as the re
lation of those circumstances would extend this essay beyond its proper limits.
One of the first acts of Christina's reign, which we esteem worthy of remembrance, was her confirming the title which Grotius had received from the Chancellor Oxenstiern, of Ambassador to France. By the fury of political and religious factions, that illustrious scholar had been driven from his country, and obliged to seek an asylum in France: upon his coming there Cardinal Richelieu had given him a pension, but soon withdrew it, because he did not flatter his literary talents*. Grotius had, however, attracted the notice of Gustavus Adolphus, and after his quitting France he was received at his court with every mark of respect suitable to his distinguished merit. In ratifying then the appointment of her chancellor, Christina had the satisfaction of rewarding a man of real genius and virtue, in a manner correspondent with her greatness; of mortifying the Hollanders, whom she disliked; and of deeply wounding the pride of the Cardinal, by enabling the object of his aversion to treat him with all the independence of an equal.
The chief cause of the Cardinal's displeasure against Grotius arose from his having omitted to praise him in the dedication of his immortal Treatise, De Jure Belli et Pacis, which he inscribed to Louis XIII. of France.
[1647.] Devoted to letters, and possessed not of the warlike spirit of her father, it is easy to conceive that the Queen of Sweden should feel extremely anxious for the conclusion of the peace of Westphalia: the obstacles which retarded that event arose more, however, from the animosity and jealousy of the different ministers, than even from the infinite variety of interests which they had to adjust. Count Oxenstiern, son of the great chancellor, and Alder Salvius, chancellor of the court, were the plenipotentiaries of Sweden; and greater division did not exist between them, than among those of France and Germany. The first was by no means disposed to exert his abilities for the effecting a general peace, because he considered the continuation of the war as no less favourable to the glory of Sweden, than prejudicial to the selfish views of France: on the other hand, Salvius, the favourite of the Queen, warmly entered into all her wishes upon that subject, and therefore endeavoured, as far as lay in his power, to frustrate the designs of his colleague. We are told of a discourse that Christina made to the senate when she appointed Salvius a member of that august assembly, although he was of mean extraction, which ought to be engraved in the hearts of all kings: "When it is a question of good advice and safe