The Thrust of Greatness Part 8

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Magnanimity was natural to him, a by-product perhaps of two other virtues of which he showed ample evidence: honesty and modesty. There is a well-known story of Charles losing way when and falling in with an old Spanish peasant, with whom he exchanged greeting and began to pass the time of the day. The conversation came round to the subject of politics, and the old man said that he had seen the reigns of five kings, of whom the best, he reckoned, had been Ferdinand, and the worst `this one we have now, always gadding about abroad, instead of staying in Spain, where he belongs, While Charles was attempting to justify himself, the other members of his hunting party came up and revealed his identity.

The old man then said bluntly that had known he was speaking to king, he would have spoken even more plainly; and far from being offended, Charles was so delighted that he insisted upon giving the man’s daughter a dowry as a souvenir of their meeting.

Of course, he also had his faults; it would be absurd pretend that that he that mythical creature a chevalier sans pea ET sans reproach. After long and patient efforts to reconcile the opposing religious faction of his day, when at last was forced by the rigidity of the protestants and the intransigence of the more bigoted Catholics to recognize that compromise was impossible, he resorted to draconian measures in an attempt to restore unity to the Church, and he has been blamed for the severity of his treatment of those whom he considered to be irredeemable heretics; but it would be unfair to condemn him too harshly for this.