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Charles the Fifth

CHARLES the Fifth spoke five languages: the Flemish, the German, the Spanish, the French, and the Italian. He used to say, that to employ the vulgar languages according to the use for which they were most proper, he would speak Italian to the ladies, French to men, German to horses, and Spanish to God. He used also to say, the Portuguese appeared to be madmen, and were so; the Spaniards appeared to be wise, and were not; the Italians appeared to be wise, and were so; the French appeared to be madmen, and were not—That the Germans spoke like carmen, the English like simpletons, the Italians like lovers, the French like masters, and the Spaniards like kings.

This Emperor—who, though he thus censures our English modesty, is indebted to our country for his best-written Life—was called by the Sicilians, Scipio Africanus; by the Italians, David; by the French, Hercules; by the Turks, Julius Cæsar; by the Africans, Hannibal; by the Germans, Charlemagne; and by the Spaniards, Alexander the Great. These are the titles of adulation. One is almost tempted to call him by a grosser name, when one reflects on his folly in quitting a crown, which had long been the idol of his ambition, to sink into a solitary retreat, with a pension that was never paid to him; and, having no more the power of disturbing the tranquillity of Europe, to tyrannize over a few melancholy Monks; and, as Fenelon expresses it, “every day to become ennuyé with having nothing to do but praying to God, winding his watch, and continually scolding the poor unhappy novices,” whose great curse it was, to be associated with him, who had been the most potent monarch on earth.