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by Spanish writom suspicion och occurring
3. As she saw them bathed in tears around hier bed, she calmly said, “Do not weep for me, nor waste your time in fruitless prayers for my recovery, but pray rather for the salvation of my soul.” On receiving the extreme unction, she refused to have her feet exposed, as was usual on that occasion ; a circumstance, which, occurring at a time when there can be no suspicion of affectation, is often noticed by Spanish writers, as a proof of that sensitive delicacy and decorum which distinguished her through life. At length, having received the sacraments, and performed all the offices of a sincere and devout Christian, she gently expired a little before noon, on Wednesday, November 26, 1504, in the fiftyfourth year of her age, and thirtieth of her reign.
4. “My hand,” says Peter Martyr, in a letter written on the same day to the archbishop of Granada, “ falls powerless by my side, for very sorrow. The world has lost its noblest ornament; a loss to be deplored not only by Spain, which she has so long carried forward in the career of g!ory, but by every nation in Christendom ; for she was the mirror of every virtue, the shield of the innocent, and an avenging sword to the wicked. I know none of her sex, in ancient or modern times, who in my judgment is at all worthy to be named with this incomparable woman."
5. Her person, as mentioned in the early part of the narrative, was of the middle height, and well proportioned. She had a clear, fresh complexion, with light blue eyes and auburn hair,-a style of beauty exceedingly rare in Spain. Her features were regular, and universally allowed to be uncommonly handsome. The illusion which attaches to rank, more especially when united with engaging manners, might lead us to suspect some exaggeration in the encomiums so liberally lavished on her. But they would seem to be in a great measure justified by the portraits that remain of her, which combine a faultless symmetry of features with singular sweetness and intelligence of expression.
6. Her manners were most gracious and pleasing. They were marked by natural dignity and modest reserve, tempered by an affability which flowed from the kindness of her disposition. She was the last person to be approached with undue familiarity ; yet the respect which she imposed was
mingled with the strongest feelings of devotion and love. She showed great tact in accommodating herself to the peculiar situation and character of those around her. She appeared in arms at the head of her troops, and shrunk from none of the hardships of war. During the reforms introduced into the religious houses, she visited the nunneries in person, taking her needle-work with her, and passing the day in the society of the inmates.
7. When traveling in Galicia, she attired herself in the costume of the country, borrowing for that purpose the jewels and other ornaments of the ladies there, and returning them with liberal additions. By this condescending and captivating deportment, as well as by her higher qualities, she gained an ascendency over her turbulent subjects, which no king of Spain could ever boast.
8. She spoke the Castilian with much elegance and correctness. She had an easy fluency of discourse, which, though generally of a serious complexion, was occasionally seasoned with agreeable sallies, some of which have passed into proverbs. She was temperate even to abstemiousness in her diet, seldom or never tasting wine ; and so frugal in her table, that the daily expenses for herself and family did not exceed the moderate sum of forty ducats.
9. She was equally simple and economical in her apparel. On all public occasions, indeed, she displayed a royal magnificence; but she had no relish for it in private, and she freely gave away her clothes and jewels, as presents to her friends. Naturally of a sedate though cheerful temper, she had little taste for the frivolous amusements, which make up so much of a court life; and, if she encouraged the presence of minstrels and musicians in her palace, it was to wean her young nobility from the coarser and less intellectual pleasures to which they were addicted.
10. Among her moral qualities, the most conspicuous, perhaps, was her magnanimity. She betrayed nothing little or selfish, in thought or action. Her schemes were vast, and executed in the same noble spirit in which they were conceived. She never employed doubtful agents or sinister measures, but the most direct and open policy. She scorned to avail herself of advantages offered by the perfidy of others.
Where she had once given her confidence, she gave her hearty and steady support; and she was scrupulous to redeem any pledge she had made to those who ventured in her cause, however unpopular. She sustained Ximenes in all his obnoxious but salutary reforms. She seconded Columbus in the prosecution of his arduous enterprise, and shielded him from the calumny of his enemies.
11. She did the same good service to her favorite, Gonsalvo de Cordova ; and the day of her death was felt, and as it proved, truly felt by both, as the last of their good fortune. Artifice and duplicity were so abhorrent to her character, and so averse from her domestic policy, that when they appear in the foreign relations of Spain, it is certainly not imputable to her. She was incapable of harboring any petty distrust, or latent malice ; and, although stern in the execution and exaction of public justice, she made the most generous allowance, and even sometimes advances, to those who had personally injured her.
12. But the principle which gave a peculiar coloring to every feature of Isabella's mind, was piety. It shone forth from the very depths of her soul with a heavenly radiance, which illuminated her whole character. Fortunately, her earliest years had been passed in the rugged school of adversity, under the eye of a mother who implanted in her serious mind such strong principles of religion as nothing in after life had power to shake.
13. At an early age, in the flower of youth and beauty, she was introduced to her brother's court; but its blandishments, so dazzling to a young imagination, had no power over hers; for she was surrounded by a moral atmosphere of purity,
“ Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt.” Such was the decorum of her manners, that, though encompassed by false friends and open enemies, not the slightest reproach was breathed on her fair name in this corrupt and calumnious court.
14. She gave a liberal portion of her time to private devotions, as well as to the public exercises of religion. She expended large sums in useful charities, especially in the erection of hospitals and churches, and the more doubtful endowments of monasteries. Her piety was strikingly exhibited in that unfeigned humility, which, although the very essence of our faith, is so rarely found; and most rarely in those whose great powers and exalted stations seem to raise them above the level of ordinary mortals.
CVIII.—THE LATEST WAR-NEWS.
Sweet eyes by fruitless watching wronged,
2. She shudders when they tell the tale
Of some great battle lost and won !
Her heart falls like a stone !
3. She sees no conquering flag unfurled,
She hears no victory's brazen roar,
Perchance she'll kiss no more !
4. Ever there comes between her sight
And the glory that they rave about,
Of splendor hath gone out.
5. The midnight glory of his hair,
Where late her fingers, like a flood
Is stiff and dark-with blood !
6. She must not shriek, she must not moan,
She must not wring her quivering hands ;
Be bound with viewless bands.
7. Because her suffering life enfolds
Another dearer, feebler life,
And stills its torturing strife.
8. Yester ere, they say, a field was won.
Her eyes ask tidings of the fight;
Who lay out in the night.
9. In mercy tell her that his name
Was not upon that fatal list;
Dumb are the lips she's kissed.
10. Oh poor, pale child! Oh woman heart !
Its weakness triumphed o'er by strength ! Love teaching paih discipline's art
And conquering at length !
2. There are jewels of price in her roseate ears,
And gold round her white wrist coils;
In the chamber where she toils.
3. A rare bird sings in a gilded cage
At the open casement near ;
The dew of a falling tear !