« PreviousContinue »
In presenting the following pages to the world, the writer deems some apology necessary for their introduction. Known only to a limited circle of readers as the author of a Prize Essay in connexion with an ancient religious society, he would have remained in the contented enjoyment of so unobtrusive a position, had not a desire to employ his pen upon politics and polemics, themes inadmissible in his former work, induced him to venture before the public upon this occasion as an uninvited guest. He has for some time observed with regret the existence of conflicting opinions with reference to eventful passages of our national history, whence has originated a wish to express his own views on these subjects, which must be regarded as his excuse for adding another to the numerous historical treatises already in existence.
With respect to the plan of the work, it should be stated that several chapters were originally distinct essays, not intended to constitute part of a series—a fact that must explain any want of arrangement that may be detected upon a critical perusal, although it is to be hoped that this defect has been in some degree remedied by the order in which the topics are brought forward. A general review of British history forms the introductory chapter, for the purpose of comprehending the political antecedents of the English Revolution; after which, its several characteristics are discussed under five distinguished names, of whom one, the author of " Paradise Lost," is regarded in an almost exclusively literary aspect, the public transactions of his time being included in the notice of his contemporaries.
Of these characters, that of Oliver Cromwell is alone held up to reprobation; and the writer is not only aware that in this he has opposed the prevailing tendencies of the age, but is also conscious that many of his sentiments do not coincide with those of any particular political party or religious denomination. In these respects, he has to crave the indulgence of his readers, and to refer to the universally admitted right of every one to maintain and diffuse his con