Page images

constituted a mine of theological treasures, from whence Protestant churches and evangelical divines have drawn without limit, and sometimes without acknowledgment. The act of uniformity, as is well known, severed two thousand of the best clergy in England from an Establishment which could ill afford to lose the flower of its pastorate, and for which it paid heavy penalties in subsequent generations, when the coldness and sterility of Tillotson or Stillingfleet were succeeded by the latitudinarianism of Hoadley and the Arianism of Jortin and his admirers. But we must not stray too far from our subject.

4. The civil contest may fairly include the brief period of the commonwealth and protectorate: for in reality the flames of royalism, although beaten down, and kept down for a certain number of years, were yet never extinguished. To those who agree with the views entertained by the author of the Lives of Eminent British Statesmen in the Cabinet Cyclopædia, and which have recently occupied several articles in this Journal, the portraits by Dr. Vaughan of Oliver Cromwell and his satellites will seem the least satisfactory portion of his labors. There will, however, be no occasion to follow him through the fights of Edgehill, Marston Moor, Naseby, Preston, Dunbar, or Worcester. His reprobation of the barbarous murder of Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas at Colchester, we fully anticipated ; and we think it does him honor as an historian unbiassed by politics. Our favorite, Sir Henry Vane, occupies a position and space far less prominent than we imagine he ought to have done. In glancing at the major-generals of the great protector, we cannot moreover help being of opinion, that greater indignation might fairly have been expressed, without in any way breaking in upon that general calmness which we so much admire, and which on ordinary occasions best becomes the style and impartiality of faithful narrative. Instead of this, we are quietly informed, with no more force than would be adopted in announcing a series of forthcoming lectures from University College, that Cromwell, like most other usurpers, became a tyrant rather in support of his authority, than to gratify his inclination ;—that whenever his parliaments withheld supplies, he extorted them by the sword;

that when certain conspiracies were threatened, he precluded their consequences by placing the leading nobility and gentry under arrest, until they should find bail for peaceable conduct? Why,--could not Charles the First, or his wicked children and their ministers, have urged the same pleas, mutato nomine, for all their oppressions; and that too with an infinitely better grace than Oliver Cromwell? They acted consistently with certain rules and principles which corruption, and despotism, and circumstances had caused to become part and parcel of their inner man. The Protector had set out upon a system directly opposed to theirs, and had risen upon the strength of it to sovereign power, which when once within his grasp, he too frequently wielded like any other tyrant! More knowledge of the constitution, more patriotic professions, nobler ideas of government, politics, and religion, as well as talents beyond all comparison greater and more splendid than theirs, distinguished the mighty patron of these major-generals ; whom honest Richard Baxter compared to the colonels and barons of William the Conqueror. We should rather have mentioned in the text, than in a mere foot-note at the bottom of a page, so striking an indication of absolutisin as the prohibition of any weekly newspaper without permission from government; so that the eight weekly journals previously existing, were thus arbitrarily and scandalously reduced to two! In what respect was this worse than, or indeed taking into account what we have already hinted at, in what respect was it so bad, as one of those royal proclamations which the profligate Stuarts were ever anxious to invest with that authority which could alone belong by law to the regulations of the united legislature; or in other words to an act of parliament ? Dr. Vaughan, we feel persuaded, will take these amicable animadversions in the same spirit in which they are intended to be offered; and which we conclude by reminding him of the old Esopian fable, with its picturesque wood-engraving so familiar to our childish associations, of the wolf looking in upon the shepherds when regaling themselves with a shoulder of mutton!

This reminds us, however, that when he mentions Charles the First as at length consenting in 1648, with still smaller modifications, to the obnoxious propositions of the two houses, and yet not agreeing even at that crisis to the abolition of episcopacy, or even the alienation of its wealth for ever, he seems to us, as if endeavoring to establish a distinction without a difference on behalf of royal consistency. Dr. Vaughan admits that his majesty allowed their restoration to be dependent on the pleasure of parliament! But that party in parliament, with which he was then treating at Newport, which Hallam says may be called for the sake of convenience Presbyterian, but which was in fact constitutional, would surely have vanished into annihilation, at the merest possible prospect of seeing again either mitres or crosiers, just as ghosts are said to depart at cock-crowing. To all intents and purposes, the unhappy monarch preferred in this instance even the remote chance of recovering his crown, to the preservation of his conscience, in that very point for which he has been canonized as a martyr by the Church of England. Nor does it much mend the matter to discover, that according to his own papers, and his own most intimate adherents, he thus dealt with his powerful adversaries, whom he was now calling his friends, with no other idea than to forget all his most solemn engagements so soon as circumstances might permit. Upon the whole, in most other places and passages, the perfidy of this infatuated monarch is perspicuously exhibited; although we are indeed happy to remark that it seems always done with that tenderness towards an antagonist which it behoves every Christian man to manifest. All we ask for is to have precisely the same sort of measure shown towards the other side; especially since it happens to be our own party. Generally speaking, as we have the greatest pleasure in admitting, such desires are realized; and perhaps it is from this very circumstance that we feel rather more jealous about the exception, even when it thus occurs with comparative rarity. The historian points out ably the difficulties with which the commonwealth was encompassed through its very defective authority. He does not fail to notice the severities against the royalists, almost unavoidable as we may admit they were on launching the new republic; particularly when it is recollected that its genuine supporters were perhaps not more than a fifth of the nation. He glances at the curious trials of John Lilburne, as well as at the Irish and Scotch invasions, the former stained with atrocities suffi• ciently horrible.' Meanwhile Presbyterianism grew so thoroughly disaffected, through the coldness manifested towards its idol kirk, that it seemed difficult to say whether that or episcopacy haunted oftenest the night dreams of the celebrated Council of State, of which the immortal Sir Henry Vane constituted the life and soul. Their foreign policy then passes over the page, comprising the revival of our respectability and influence amongst continental states, as also the manner in which British spirit wrenched the trident of the ocean from Holland, humbled Portugal, tamed France, and intimidated Spain. Under James, the finger of scorn had been turned upon us, from one end of Europe to the other. Blake and Cromwell soon changed the whole face of affairs. The celebrated conduct of the latter, on the 20th April, 1653, in dispersing the parliament, we should ourselves have described, as already intimated, in other terms than our author has done ; feeling perfectly satisfied to follow out the views entertained of that audacious transaction by a patriot so pure as Sir Henry Vane; nor being at all attracted to any opposite course by the sentiments of an article in the twenty-fifth volume of the Quarterly Review, alluded to by Dr. Vaughan ; yet admitted to be a singular which to find remarkable candor on such a subject.

Under the Protectorate we have a sketch given of the convention and proceedings of the Little Parliament. From its dissolution it may be said that Oliver Cromwell openly vaulted



into his seat of sovereignty. The famous Instrument of Government follows, with the successive attempts which the executive made to compose jarring elements, and exorcise order out of chaos. Cromwell, indeed, like the present King of the French, lived, moved, and slept, when he slept at all, amidst intrigue and conspiracy. It is well known that he paid high for secret information, as well he might; for on no other terms could he either have existed or reigned. His domestic policy, like the ear of Dionysius, collected every rumor from afar, being at once potent, almost omnipresent, and always mysterious. War, labor, and trade throve : not a few of the military officers waxed fat and kicked: the Presbyterians, after the execution of Doctor Love, made long faces and prayed in deep silence : republicanism swaggered : royalism plotted assassination amidst potations so deep, that each malicious intention leaked out: foreign states wondered at what was come to pass : the exiled son of Charles abandoned himself to debauchery : whilst his ridiculous ministers were getting thin upon disappointed hopes and short commons, or his mother Henrietta was keeping her bed from a want of clean linen! On the whole religion flourished; more correct notions about civil and religious liberty struck their roots deeper and wider amongst large masses of people; and the Protector himself, after deliberations which once seemed interminable, at length declined a crown. More than its legitimate prerogative, he was already in possession of; and after announcing his final negative, he underwent a second ceremonial of inauguration upon the strength of a document entitled the Humble Petition and Advice, which more fully defined his authority, and enabled him to nominate his successor. The keys of Dunkirk were soon afterwards laid at his feet. The court of Madrid had to surrender Jamaica ; its once dreaded might, at which the world turned pale, having clearly departed. But his highness felt stronger abroad than at home. There his soul lay am

mong lions, and he had to show an iron hand. He played with, then deluded, and then controlled all the parties in succession, which struggled and roared around him. Scotch, Irish, English, the adorers of the General Assembly, worshippers of the Pope and the Virgin, lovers of prelacy and rich ecclesiastical pluralities, found indeed nothing to nourish the idea of having matters their own wilful way; being all obliged to keep body and soul together, as well as they could, upon some not very clearly defined expectation. The monsters of the arctic regions, who are said to pass a long polar winter, just kept breathing by sucking their paws, were faithful representatives of these several factions. · Oliver maintained,' observes Dr. Vaughan, “and with much plausibility, that the sal'vation of the country depended on his preventing the complete

'success of any one of the parties mentioned, and his difficult

effort in consequence was to balance them against each other, • until the time should come when an amalgamation might be 'safely attempted. His experiments in regard to parliaments • tended more and more to facilitate a settlement founded on * principles of rational compromise; but the effect of them all

was to make it evident that the enmities of the several factions 'were not in his time sufficiently controlled by reason and 'humanity, to allow the country to share in the prosperity and

greatness which it might otherwise have derived from his larger and more equitable policy.' His interference with Savoy on behalf of the persecuted Waldenses deserves all the praise which has been bestowed on it; and which was in fact neither more nor less than the result of that scheme of spiritual tolerance in which Independency gloried. Yet how incomplete this really was, may be seen from his stern refusal of its advantages to both Catholics and Protestant episcopalians. The Romanists, indeed, rendered to civil government in that age only a divided allegiance, and therefore, according to the indistinct notions then prevalent as to what form the rights of conscience, had no claim in the opinion of Protestant statesmen for anything more than a very restricted protection. It was possibly presumed, though certainly not with justice, that there was an analogy between this case and that of the members of the late Church of England. Both episcopacy and its liturgy were proscribed. Their adherents could not be styled well-affected to the protectorate, doubtless ; yet they had no foreign predilections; nor even, when Charles their Martyr was at the top of his career, would they ever let him have introduced any continental mercenaries to enslave these kingdoms. The ordinance of 1656, which went to exclude the episcopalian clergy from livings and fellowships, or from being even employed as schoolmasters, chaplains, or private tutors, was beyond question a wicked one. Those of this communion who were disposed to live quietly, ought to have been let alone, by law, and not merely suffered to remain unmolested, through the good nature or caprice of a military dictator; and the same rule, in our judgment, ought to have been applied even to Catholics. Dr. Vaughan gives, in this stage of his subject, a rapid survey of the increase of sects, describing successively though briefly the Quakers, Ranters, Muggletonians, Fifth Monarchy men, and Unitarians. The meeting of the Independents at the Savoy, although summoned before the death of Cromwell, did not assemble until after that event. The accession and speedy abdication of Richard made way for the Restoration.

5. Amidst fits of enthusiasm, the tide of public opinion, whether above or under ground, had been setting so strongly

« PreviousContinue »