« AnteriorContinuar »
court of Rome, showed all that love of mystery, and practised those arts, which are usually prompted by love or by ambition; she engaged in an intrigue to become a Catholic. In this she showed herself a true
The first to whom she revealed her inclinations was a Jesuit, An tonio Macedo, confessor of the Portuguese ambassador, Pinto Pereira. Pereira spoke only Portuguese, and employed his confessor as interpreter. The queen derived a strange pleasure at the audiences which she gave to the ambassador, in carrying on a religious controversy with his interpreter, while Pereira imagined he was discussing state affairs; and thus, in the presence of a third person who understood nothing that passed, disclosing to Macedo her most secret thoughts and boldest speculations.
All on a sudden Macedo disappeared from Stockholm. The queen pretended to have search made for him, and to send people in pursuit of him; while she herself had despatched him to Rome to communicate her intentions to the general of the Jesuits, and to entreat him to send to her two or three members of his order in whom he could confide.
In February, 1652, they arrived in Stockholm. They were two young men who gave themselves out as travelling Italian nobles, and were thereupon introduced to her table. She instantly suspected who they were, and as they walked into the dining-room immediately before her, she asked one of them, in a low voice, whether by chance he had any letters for her; he answered, without turning round, that he had ; she enjoined him to silence by one hurried word; immediately after dinner she sent her most confidential servant, Johann Holm, to fetch the letters, and the following morning the fathers themselves were conducted in the profoundest secrecy to the palace.
Emissaries from Rome now entered the royal abode of Gustavus Adolphus, to confer with his daughter concerning her conversion to that faith of which he was the most formidable antagonist. The poculiar charm of this transaction to Christina was, that no one had the slightest suspicion of it.
The two Jesuits at first intended to adhere to the rules of the catechism, but they soon saw that such means were wholly inapplicable here. The queen proposed far different questions from any for which they were prepared ;-whether there was any ultimate distinction between good and evil, or whether every thing resolved itself into the utility or mischievousness of an action? How the doubts which may suggest themselves on the subject of an overruling providence were to be removed? Whether the soul of man is really immortal? Whether it be not most expedient for every man to follow the religion of his country externally, and to live after the laws of reason? Such were the problems which they were required to solve. They do not tell us what were their answers; they say that during this conversation thoughts passed through their minds such as they had never been conscious of before, and had instantly vanished; that the queen was under the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost. The truth is, she was under the influence of a strong bias, which gave completeness to every argument and strength to every conviction. They recurred most frequently to the principle mentioned above,—that the world could not be without the true religion ; and to this proposition was appended a second, -that among all that existed the Catholic was the most in accordance with reason. • Our main endeavour was,” say the Jesuits, “ to prove that the articles of our holy religion are above reason, but in no respect contrary to reason." The chief difficulties were, the invocation of saints and the worship of images and relics. “But her majesty apprehended," continue they, " with penetrating mind the whole force of the arguments we adduced ; otherwise we should have needed a long time for our discussion.” She also spoke to them of the difficulties which would present themselves, even if she were determined on avowing her conversion, as to the mode of accomplishing it. Sometimes these appeared to her insuperable. One day, when she had another interview with the Jesuits, she declared to them that they had better return home, that the matter was utterly impracticable, and that she thought she should never be able to become a sincere and earnest Catholic. The good fathers were amazed; they urged every argument and consideration that could confirm her in her intentions; placed God and eternity before her, and pronounced her doubts an assault of Satan. It is perfectly characteristic of her that she was more determined upon her conversion at that very mo, ment than at any of their previous conferences. say,” exclaimed she suddenly, “ if I were nearer becoming a Catholic than you think?” “I cannot describe the feeling,” says the Jesuit, from whom we have the report of this transaction, “which we experienced; we felt as if raised from the dead. The queen inquired whether
pope could not grant permission to receive the Lord's Supper once a year, according to the Lutheran rite. We answered, that he could not." "Then,” said she, ** there is no help, I must resign the crown.”
This, indeed, was the point to which her thoughts daily tended more and more.
The affairs of her kingdom did not always go on smoothly. As opposed to the powerful aristocracy which held compactly together, the queen, with her immediate attendants collected from various lands, with the heir to the throne whom she had imposed upon the country, and the Count Magnus de la Gardie, on whom she bestowed her confidence, but whom the old Swedish nobles never would recognise as their equal in birth, formed a party which was regarded as foreign. Her boundless liberality had exhausted the finances, and the moment seemed impending in which all the resources of the country would be at an end. As early as October, 1651, she announced to the estates her intention of abdicating. This was instantly after she had despatched Antonio Macedo to Rome. She however suffered herself to be persuaded to change her determination. The high chancellor entreated her not to be influenced by the financial difficulties; he assured her that means would be found to maintain undiminished the splendour and dignity of the crown. She clearly perceived too that her abdication would not appear to the world so heroic as she had at first believed. When, shortly after, Prince Frederic of Hesse was meditating a similar step, she expressly dissuaded him from it; not exactly on religious grounds, but she begged him to remember that a man who changes his religion is hated by the party he leaves, and despised by that he joins. Gradually, however, these reflections ceased to have any effect on her own mind. It was in vain that she tried, by repeated nominations, to make herself a party in the national council, which she increased from twenty. eight to thirty-nine members; the consideration enjoyed by the House of Oxenstierna, which for a time had been obscured, was revived by family alliances, by the force of habit, and by the talents which seemed hereditary in that race; on several important questions, for example the arrangement with Brandenburg, the queen was in a minority. Count Magnus de la Gardie, too, lost her favour. Money began really to fail, and was often insufficient for the daily expenses of the household. She now began to consider whether it would not be better to stipulate for a yearly pension, and, escaping all the exhortations and arguments of
fanatical preachers, who could discover nothing in the state of her mind or in her conduct but a romantic wonder ----an apostasy from the religion and the manners of the country,--go to live after her heart's desire in a foreign land. Business had already become disgusting to her, and she never saw her secretary enter the room without an oppression on her spirits. The only society in which she took any pleasure was that of Don Antonio Pimentel, the ish ambassador, who was the companion of all her social pleasures and amusements, and was admitted to the meetings of the order of the Amaranth which she had founded, and the members of which were obliged to take a sort of vow of celibacy. Don Antonio was aware of her leanings towards Catholicism, and communicated them to his master, who promised to receive the queen into his dominions, and to prepare the pope for her conversion. Meanwhile the Jesuits with whom she had.conferred had returned to Rome, and had taken some preliminary steps.
w no longer to be deterred from her purposes by any arguments or considerations. Her letter to the French ambassador Chanut shows how little she reckoned on the approbation of the world ; but this, as she declared, gave her no uneasiness : she should be happy, strong in herself, without fear before God ør man, and from the haven in which she had taken refuge should contemplate the miseries of those who were still tossed about by the storms of life. Her only solicitude was to secure her pension in such a manner that she could never be deprived of it. On the 24th of June, 1654, the ceremony of abdication was per
Notwithstanding all the discontents which the government of the
queen had occasioned, yet high and low were deeply affected at this solemn and final renunciation of her country, by the last scion of the illustrious race of Vasa. The aged Count Brahe refused to take back the crown which three years before he had placed upon her brow; he held the bond between prince and subject to be indissoluble, and.consequently this transaction illegal. The queen was obliged to take off the crown from her own head; it was only from her hand that he would receive it. Stripped of all the regal insignia, attired in a simple white dress, the queen then received the farewell homage of her estates. After the others, appeared the speaker or marshal of the boors; “a plain country fellow in clouted shoon and all other habits answerable.” After a homely and affectionate expostulation with the queen," he
took her by the band," says Whitelocke, “and shaked it heartily, and kissed it two or three times; then, turning his back to her, he pulled out of his pocket a foul handkerchief, and wiped the tears from his eyes, and in the same posture as he came up he returned back to his place again.”
Meanwhile all her thoughts and schemes were directed to other lands; she did not choose to remain a moment longer in a country in which she had surrendered the sovereign power to another. She had already sent away her valuables; and whilst the fleet which was to convey her to Wismar was getting ready she seized the first favourable moment to escape in disguise from the oppressive supervision which her former subjects exercised over her, and to reach Hamburg accompanied only by a few confidential servants.
She now began her travels through Europe.
No sooner had she reached Brussels than she privately made profession of the Catholic faith, which she publicly repeated in Innsbruck; attracted by the promise of the pope's benediction, she hastened onwards to Italy, and left her crown and sceptre as a votive offering on the shrine of our Lady of Loretto. The Venetian ambassadors were astonished at the preparations which had been made in all the cities of the Roman territory to give her a magnificent reception. Pope Alexander, whose vanity was gratified that so illustrious a conversion had occurred in his pontificate, exhausted the apostolic treasury to celebrate the event with due solemnity: Christina entered Rome not as a penitent, but in triumph.
173.—THE MOON. We select some of the passages of our poets which celebrate the beauties of our glorious satellite.
And first, the famous description of the “refulgent lamp of night" which Pope has adapted from Homer:
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,