Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

of Carlos and his stepmother, we should not hesitate to explain by that means the whole scene at the convent. But there exists no direct historical evidence on this point. Even the Prince of Orange, who accuses Philip of having murdered his wife four months after he had destroyed his son, ascribes that crime not to jealousy, but to a desire of marrying his own niece, Anne of Austria.*

It is not among the least remarkable features of that fatality which made Philip a kind of evil genius to his son, that both his second and his third wife, Isabella of Valois and Anne of Austria, had been the destined brides of Carlos. The supplanted Prince was only fifteen when he had to attend his father in the character of brideman at the marriage ceremony with Isabella. At so young an age it is probable he did not feel the bitterness of such an insult. The Queen, who was only a year younger, and had never seen Carlos, may have been indifferent to which of the two the policy of the French court had destined her. As both grew up, the relation in which they had stood at one time, might conspire, however, with the freedom of intercourse authorized by the subsequent affinity, to place them in a situation too trying for their peace and virtue. Thuanus, on the authority of Foix, mentions that Carlos, upon leaving the queen's apartments, to which be had a free access, was often heard to exclaim that “his father had taken away his wife. The rashness and publicity of these exclamations, however, tend to disprove the existence of a criminal intimacy ; while the undisguised grief manifested by the Queen during the Prince's imprisonment, and her unavailing request to be allowed the liberty of seeing him before his death f, are strong indications of conscious and unsuspecting innocence.

Nothing in the moral composition of Carlos bespeaks a tendency to deep, settled, and impassioned love. If ever he allowed himself a regret for the loss of Isabella, the proposed match with his cousin Anne of Austria seems to have removed the smart of that injury from his mind. Anne was Spanish by birth, and had spent part of her childhood with Carlos. It is possible, therefore, that some traces of early affection were ready to assume the character of love on the near approach of possession ; and that the Prince's impatience under that policy, whatever might be its source, which made his father delay the match from year to year, arose alike from affection for his intended bride, and a natural desire to break off for a while from the restraints of the Spanish palace, by a journey to the imperial court of his uncle.

It is reported that Mons and Montigni, the unfortunate deputies who ventured to plead the cause of the Flemings in the capital of Spain, had, in some secret conferences, invited Carlos to fly to the Netherlands, and assume the sovereignty of those provinces by the aid of the Protestants. But we feel more inclined to believe this a mere pretext for the death of the deputies ş, than to allow the possibility of such interviews under the eye of Philip himself. It is a fact, however, that Carlos meditated a flight either to the Netherlands or to Germany, in 1565. The vehemence of his character, and that ignorance of the world, which must attend all princes brought up under a system similar to that of the Spanish Court, made Carlos proceed in the execution of his wild scheme with the most absurd disregard of caution and prudence. He addressed letters to some of the first noblemen, asking their aid and support for an important object, which were answered in general terms of respectful attachment to his person, and readiness to assist him in every thing consistent with the writers' duty to their King. The Count of Gelbes and the Marquis of Tabera, accepted the Prince's invitation to accompany him in the intended flight, and nothing seemed to oppose it but the difficulty of raising the sum which was conceived as absolutely necessary for the success of the undertaking.

* See Watson's Philip II. v. III. Appendix.

+ Auditæ et ex juvene crebræ voces, cum ex conclavi Elizabethæ reginæ, cum qua familiares sermones babebat, egrederetur, quasi sibi a patre ereptam uxorem indignante. Thuanns, ubi supra.

# Both facts are attested by Cabrera.

§ The Marquis of Mons died in prison some months before the execution of his colleague the Baron of Montigni.

It would be difficult, however, to believe that such a plot could be carried on within the palace of the Spanish Tiberius, without his being acquainted with every word which dropped from the Prince. If the unhappy youth was not allowed by his father's emissaries, who assumed the language of conspirators, to proceed to his utter ruin on this occasion, it was probably owing to Philip's confidence in the wildness and impracticability of the scheme.

The idea of a flight out of Spain was abandoned by Carlos till the latter end of 1567. His father's determination to prevent the intended match with Anne of Austria was too visible in his conduct and policy; and the ardent and offended youth was driven again to the rash step of trying an escape to Germany.

As money could not be procured at Madrid, he authorized his chamberlain to borrow it in the provinces, especially Andalusia, furnishing him with receipts under his own hand which might be filled as occasion required. The chamberlain travelled unmolested through Spain, and arrived at Madrid about the end of 67 or the beginning of 68, with the money he had been able to collect. The King, who, spider-like, seemed not to observe the victim that thus incautiously was every moment more and more involved in his toils, continued at the Escurial, apparently employed in superintending the building. Carlos, now confident of success, thought he might induce his bastard uncle, Don Juan de Austria, to share his projects and fortunes. Austria's courage and gallantry had not exempted him from the vices of servility and dissimulation ; and he did not disdain the office of a spy. He pretended to enter readily and willingly into his nephew's plans, promised to join him in the flight, and conveyed the whole secret to Philip.

The night of the 18th of January, 1568, had been fixed for quitting Madrid, when, on the evening of the preceding day, Carlos learnt with surprise that his father was at the Pardo, six miles from Madrid, where he had held a secret conference with Don Juan de Austria. Anxious to clear his doubts, and still trusting his uncle, the Prince questioned him, and was, again deceived by the most earnest assurances of friendship.

The King had in the mean time proceeded to Madrid, and was already in the palace. The next day, being Sunday, Carlos was obliged to attend mass with his father and the rest of the royal family.

*

Suspicions against his uncle were now fast rising in his breast, and he took the earliest opportunity, after the church service, to desire Austria's presence in his own apartments. Here the evasive answers of the false friend disclosed at once to the harassed mind of Carlos the abyss on the brink of which he was placed. Mad with rage at the treachery of such a near relative, he drew his sword against Austria, who, unwilling to use the same weapon against the heir of the crown, retreated in haste towards the door, and called the servants to his assistance.

Carlos, aware of his danger, and the impossibility of avoiding it, lay on his couch the rest of the day, without tasting any food till about eight in the evening. He then retired to bed, fastening, as he supposed, the door when his attendants retired. It was, however, a useless precaution. Foix, the contriver of the night-bolt, had been employed by the King's secret orders to alter it so ingeniously that it might allow the door to be opened, while it seemed to secure it inside.*

The clock had struck eleven, when the King, wearing a cuirass over his usual dress, and a casque on his head, was observed by the Prince's porter coming down the principal stairs of the palace. He was attended by six of his favourite grandees, and twelve privates of the guards. Arrived at the outward door of the apartments, Philip ordered the porter to lock it up, and to prevent the intrusion of any person whatever, as he valued his own life.

Carlos lay in a profound sleep, when the Duke of Lerma, to whom he professed great attachment, approached the bed, and seized the arms which the Prince constantly kept by his side. Roused by the noise, the unfortunate young man leaped from the bed, and searching for his pistols, appeared ready to make a desperate effort in his own defence, but, seeing the King, who had cautiously stayed behind the group of attendants, he gave himself up for lost, and surrendered. Philip left him in charge to the Duke of Feria, who was invested with the command in chief of the other five grandees, and the guards that were constantly to be stationed at the entrance of the apartment.

A commission was issued the next day for the secret trial of the Prince, by the Cardinal Espinosa, Ruy Gomez de Silva, Prince of Evoli, and two members of the Royal Council. The papers which had been seized in the Prince's apartments, were laid before them, and some witnesses were examined. As a precedent to be followed in the trial, the process, for treason, against the Prince of Viana, son and heir of John of Aragon, Philip's great grandfather, was translated from the Catalonian dialect, and laid, by the King's orders, before the judges.

Instructions on the treatment of the Prince in his confinement were soon after issued by the King, who displayed in them all the ingenuity of a practised despot, with natural timidity for his counsellor and unbounded power for his means. The watch prescribed was so strict that it obliged one of the six noblemen, by turns, to stand day and night near the prisoner. To allow any message to, or communication with, the Prince, was made treason. The subjects of conversation between Carlos and his jailors had been limited and defined. All observations on his present situation, all allusions to his circumstances, were strictly forbidden. During the six months which preceded his death,

* Thuanus, ubi supra.

no one but the King's own physician was allowed to see the Prince; and even that confidential personage, whom it would be difficult to clear from the imputation of having lent his art for the destruction of his patient, was never permitted to see him but in the presence of Carlos's bitterest enemy, Ruy Gomez de Silva.

While the secret trial was proceeding through all the tedious forms of Spanish judicature, the wretched prisoner, now driven to despair, had formed the determination of causing his own death by the only means which had been left in his power. He once threw himself into the fire which, during the early part of his confinement, was used to warm the room. As the summer advanced, he had his bed daily covered with ice, on which he lay till the cold had penetrated his whole frame. Anxious to encrease the violence of a fever which had seized upon him, he alternately exhausted the remaining strength of his stomach by a fast of two or three days, and a subsequent repletion of the most indigestible food.

His father was soon aware that little or no violence would be necessary for the attainment of his wishes. Nothing can be more evident, from all the circumstances of the case, than that the cold-blooded, calculating tyrant depended on the desperate efforts of the prisoner, and that mixed system of liberty and restraint under which he was kept, for a speedy dissolution, without the least appearance of violence.

Philip had not long to await the result of his deep-laid plans. The investigation, or summary, was brought to a close in July; and the report being laid before the King, it was found to declare the hereditary Prince guilty to death. The judges, however, recommended the prisoner to mercy. Philip, with tears, declared to them that the love of justice and his own subjects was, in his heart, paramount to all the tenderest feelings of nature. But as the Prince's health was fast declining, it was to be hoped he should be spared the necessity of using violence in the execution of the law ; that his only anxiety, at present, was concerning his son's eternal welfare ; and provided the

young man could be persuaded to apply for absolution to a priest, a step which he had hitherto refused with invincible obstinacy, he should be easy as to the rest.

Increasing weakness of body and mind, together with a letter of his confessor, threatening the dying young man with the interference of the Inquisition, induced him to ask for sacramental confession. Before he received absolution, Carlos charged the priest with a message entreating his father's pardon. It was readily granted. Nevertheless, the spiritual concerns of the Prince being now thus happily settled, the King's physician administered a powerful medicine, which produced the most alarming symptoms. Carlos survived till the next day, though almost deprived of bis faculties.

A character like Philip's will lose no opportunity of procuring ease to the conscience by means of those religious forms which so effectually silence doubt and remorse in the real bigot. To make the sign of the cross with the right hand is, in Spain, called blessing: This ceremony, performed by a parent upon a dying child, is believed essential to the repose of his soul. Philip, who had so cruelly blasted his son's happiness in this life, was most anxious to procure him every advantage in the next. Ilearing, therefore, in the night of the 24th of July, that the Prince was on the point of breathing his last, he stole near the bed, concealed behind the Prince of Evoli, Ruy Gomez de Silva, and the Grand Prior of Jerusalem, brother of the Duke of Alva; and stretching his hand between their shoulders made the mysterious sign and retired. Carlos expired soon after,

Philip had tears at command, which he did not withhold on this occasion. Nor did he spare pomp and splendour in the funeral. His divines, moreover, declared to the public that the Prince had died with the most ardent and orthodox feelings of Catholic piety.

One circumstance, among the obscure events of this melancholy history, strikes us as perfectly singular,—that of no person having suffered in consequence of the Prince's conspiracy; whilst many concerned in these transactions were promoted to places of honour and emolument.* Considering Philip's tyrannical and unrelenting temper, this fact cannot be accounted for but by the supposition of a horrible plot against Carlos. Indeed, whatever may be the truth of the accusations which have been made against the odious tyrant—whether he sacrificed an innocent son to his own lust and ambition, or led him into criminal views by the treacherous officiousness of the emissaries whom he placed about his person, it would certainly require the pen of Dante to assign him an adequate punishment in the place of final retribution. History can do no more than class him with the most execrable monsters that have alike oppressed and disgraced humanity.

STANZAS.

I MAY not think-I must not moralize!
For it is only in the lucid pause
Of sense and consciousness that feeling sleeps
And woos her to her own forgetfulness.
Onward I must! But how, or where, or wherefore,
Is more than mystery. No hope shall hallow
The bitter hardships of a dreary day;
No dream of lightness shall divert the sleep
Of midnight misery; and when I wake
To wander in the wild cold blast of morn,
Glory will bend no look of brightness on me,
To chase the shadow from my darken'd soul.
But I must wander still without a wish
To win me happiness; my goal ungain’d
Because unknown: the sorrow yet to come
Unseen; and all my future fate clear’d up
Like infancy unchristen’d in the grave.

P.

Among the last was the Duke of Lerma, of whose behaviour, on the Prince's death, Cabrera speaks in these quaint and mysterious words :--“ Sintio mucho el Conde de Lerma la muerte del Principe, porque le amaba y por ser tan temprana ; mas con prudencia que no le mostró parcial, conveniente demostracion. Su Magestad la dio de agradecido al Conde, haciendole gentilhombre de su camara, y dandole una encomienda de Calatrava."- -" The Count of Lerma was much grieved by the Prince's death, both from love to the deceased and on account of his prematúre fate; but he acted with prudence, avoiding any marks of partiality. A wise proceeding, indeed. The King shewed also his gratitude to the Count, by making him a lord of his bedchamber, and bestowing on him a commandery of Calatrava.

« AnteriorContinuar »