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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Charles V.

  • [King of Spain and the Netherlands; born in Ghent, February, 1500; became king, 1516; elected Emperor of Germany, 1519; defeated Francis I. of France, at Pavia, 1525; in opposition to a second coalition, his army under the Constable de Bourbon took Rome, 1527; attacked the Protestant princes of Germany, 1547, but was defeated at Innspruck, and put to flight; abdicated his hereditary dominions in favor of his son Philip, and resigned the imperial crown, 1555; retired to the monastery of St. Just in Spain, where he died, Sept. 21, 1558.]
  • Then he never snuffed a candle with his fingers.

  • Reading upon the tombstone of a Spanish grandee, “Here lies one who never knew fear.”—BOSWELL’S Johnson, 1769.
  • Marshal Lannes said to a colonel who punished a young officer for cowardice in his first engagement, “Know, colonel, that no one but a poltroon will boast that he never was afraid.” Julian the Apostate declared that “the only inheritance I have received from my ancestors is a soul incapable of fear;” and the Regent Morton did not exaggerate, when he said at the grave of John Knox, Nov. 26, 1572, “Here lies one who never feared the face of mortal man.”
  • When Charles saw Martin Luther for the first time, the plain appearance of the reformer caused the emperor to say, “That man certainly will never induce me to turn heretic” (Hic certe nunquam efficeret ut hereticus evaderem). Years afterwards, when Charles had deposed the rebellious Elector of Saxony, and the Duke of Alva wished to disturb Luther’s grave at Wittenberg, the monarch, more magnanimous than the subject, refused, saying, “I wage war against the living, not the dead! Let him rest in peace: he is before his judge.”
  • When his staff urged him not to expose himself in action, he replied, “Name me an emperor who was ever struck by a cannonball.”
  • What a beautiful retreat for another Diocletian!

  • Passing through the valley of St. Just, in Estramadura, Spain, to which he retired on his abdication. Diocletian, the Roman emperor, closed a reign marred only by a persecution of the Christians, by abdicating, A.D. 305, in favor of Galerius, and retired to cultivate his garden at Salona, in Dalmatia. He replied to the urgent wish of his former colleague, Maximian, that he should resume power, by saying, “If Maximian could see the cabbages planted by my own hands at Salona, I should no longer be urged to relinquish the enjoyment of happiness for the pursuit of power.” It was otherwise with Charles; and the interest he still took in the affairs of the empire led Philip II. to say when Cardinal Granvella remarked, “It is a year ago to-day that your father abdicated,” “And a year ago to-day that he began to repent of it.” The day after his abdication, Charles presented his secretary to Philip with the words, “The present I make you to-day, my son, is greater than that I made you yesterday.”
  • When his jester asked him if he raised his cap to him because he was no longer emperor, he replied, “No, Pedro, but because I have nothing but this poor courtesy to give you.”
  • How absurd to try to make two men think alike on matters of religion, when I cannot make two time-pieces agree!

  • Robertson states that the emperor was particularly curious with regard to the mechanism of clocks and watches; and, having found after repeated trials that he could not bring any two of them to go exactly alike, he reflected with a mixture of surprise and regret on his own folly in having bestowed so much time and labor on the more vain attempt of bringing mankind to a precise uniformity of sentiment concerning the profound and mysterious doctrines of religion.—History of the Reign of Charles V. This anecdote, however, lacks authenticity; for Robertson only gives it as a report. It rests, indeed, upon no trustworthy foundation, and is inconsistent with the views upon religious subjects, especially in regard to the Protestant reformation, which Charles expressed during his life at St. Just.
  • The emperor’s first motto was Nondum (“Not yet”); exchanged for Plus ultra (“More beyond”), “the audacious phrase,” says Sainte-Beuve, “which gave the lie to the Pillars of Hercules,”—the limit of the world to the ancients, but a mere outpost of Spanish dominion.