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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 290



284 HENRY'S ABILITY. [XI. than that : for the painters of his portrait have succeeded in giving him an individuality and a humanity which shows either that he possessed a remarkable physique, or that they took more pains with him than they did with his wives—the deadly-lively sort of ladies whose portraits are, if not a justification, at least a colourable occasion for understanding the readiness with which he put them away. Henry's portrait, I said, would fill any canvas ; and, allowing for what must be allowed for, dress, expression, and attitude, it must be allowed to be the portrait of a personable king. His mental abilities I rank very high : he had been carefully educated by good scholars, and had made remarkable progress ; not so great, Lord Bacon tells us, as his brother Arthur ; but still remarkable at a remarkable time : he did not let his knowledge acquired in boyhood fade out of his mind : after his accession he must have continued his reading ; his book against Luther, which, whatever assistance he may have received, was in conception and execution entirely his own, was an extraordinary work for a young king; and the intelligent interest which, down to the last, he showed in religious and other ecclesiastical questions, even when he was most capricious and peremptory, evinces both memory and a real appreciation of subjects on which contemporary kings thought it sinful to think at all. If it were not for the miserable self-will and self-worship which runs through these, there might be something to admire. Well, it is not for us to judge. The king is apart from other men in his opportunities, in his excuses, in his temptations ; even in his responsibility for the direct results of his acts ; and he must stand alone in the judgment. But I will leave the remaining sentiments or reflexions which suggest " themselves, to be justified after the review of the reign which s I propose to take now. The first question, who were Henry's responsible advisers,


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