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8. He had been delirious, and had lain insensible some hours, but he had been overheard to murmur a very good prayer the day before. The whole country lamented his death. If you want to know the real worth of Oliver Cromwell, and his real services to his country, you can hardly do better than compare England under him, with England under Charles the Second.
Questions. What is meant by the “protectorate" of Oliver Cromwell? What “five months” are meant here? [He had agreed to allow this Parliament to sit at least five months.] Who was the king over the water"? Why so called ? [ See Notes, Charles II., Exercise V.] What does Mr. Dickens seem to think of Oliver Cromwell ?
What kind of a selection is this? What tone is required ? What degree of force ?
V.– ENGLAND UNDER CHARLES II.
CHARLES DICKENS. 1. There never were such profligate times in England as under Charles the Second. Whenever you see his portrait, with his swarthy, ill-looking face and great nose, you may fancy him in his court at Whitehall, surrounded by some of the very worst vagabonds in the kingdom (though they were lords and ladies ), drinking, gambling, indulging in vicious conversation, and committing every kind of profligate excess. It has been a fashion to call Charles the Second the “Merry Monarch.” Let me try to give you a general idea of some of the merry things that were done in the merry days when this merry gentleman sat upon his merry throne in merry England.
2. The first merry proceeding was, of course, to declare that he was one of the greatest, the wisest, and the noblest kings that ever shone, like the blessed sun itself, on this benighted carth. The next merry and pleasant piece of business was for the Parliament, in the humblest manner, to give him one million two hundred thousand pounds a year, and to settle upon him for life that old disputed tonnage and poundage which had been so bravely fought for. Then General Monk being made Earl of Albemarle, and a few other royalists similarly rewarded, the law went to work to see what was to be done to those persons (they were called regicides) who had been concerned in making a martyr of the late king.
3. Ten of these were merrily executed; that is to say, six of the judges, one of the council, Colonel Hacker, and another officer who had commanded the Guards, and Hugh Peters, a preacher, who had preached against the martyr with all his heart. These executions were so extremely merry that every horrible circumstance which Cromwell had abandoned was revived with appalling cruelty. The hearts of the sufferers were torn out of their living bodies; their bowels were burned before their faces; the executioner cut jokes to the next victim, as he rubbed his filthy hands together that were reeking with the blood of the last; and the heads of the dead were drawn on sledges with the living to the place of suffering. Still, even so merry a monarch could not force one of these dying men to say that he was sorry for what he had done. Nay, the most memorable thing said among them was, that if the thing were to do again, they would do it.
4. Sir Harry Vane, who had furnished the evidence against Strafford, and was one of the most staunch of the republicans, was also tried, found guilty, and ordered for execution. When he came upon the scaffold, on Tower Hill, after conducting his own defense with great power, his notes of what he had meant to say to the people were torn away from him, and the drums and trumpets were ordered to sound lustily and drown his voice; for the people had been so much impressed with what the regicides had calmly said with their last breath, that it was the custom now to have the drums and trumpets always upon the scaffold, ready to strike up. Vane said no more than this: “It is a bad cause which cannot bear the words of a dying man;" and bravely died.
4. These merry scenes were succeeded by another, perhaps even merrier. On the anniversary of the late king's death, the bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw were torn out of their graves in Westminster Abbey, dragged to Tyburn, hanged there on a gallows all day long, and then beheaded. Imagine the head of Oliver Cromwell set upon a pole, to be stared at by a brutal crowd, not one of whom would have dared to look the living Oliver in the face for half a moment! Think, after you have read this reign, what England was under Oliver Cromwell, who was torn out of his grave, and under this merry monarch, who sold it, like a merry Judas, over and over again.
5. Of course the remains of Oliver's wife and daughter were not to be spared either, though they had been most excellent women. The base clergy of that time gave up their bodies, which had been buried in the Abbey, and — to the eternal disgrace of England - they were thrown into a pit, together with the moldering bones of Pym, and of the brave and bold old Admiral Blake.
6. The clergy acted this disgraceful part because they hoped to get the Nonconformists, or Dissenters, thoroughly put down in this reign, and to have but one prayer-book and one service for all kinds of people, no matter what their private opinions were. This was pretty well, I think, for a
Protestant church, which had displaced the Romish church because people had a right to their own opinions in religious matters. However, they carried it with a high hand, and a prayer-book was agreed upon, in which the extremest opinions of Archbishop Laud were not forgotten. An act was passed, too, preventing any Dissenter from holding any office under any corporation. So the regular clergy, in their triumph, were soon as merry as the king. The army being by this time disbanded, and the king crowned, everything was to go on easily for evermore.
Questions. What is meant by “ tonnage"? "poundage”? [See dictionary. What had “General Monk” done to deserve being made Earl ? [ See Notes, Charles II.] Who are the "regular clergy”? “dissenters”? What seems to be the author's opinion of Charles II.?
OLIVER W. HOLMES. This selection is a poem addressed to the class of 1829, in IIarvard Collego, some thirty years after their graduation. The author, who retains, in a high degree, the freshness and joyousness of youth, addresses his classmates as “ boys”.
1. Has there any old fellow got mixed with the boys ? If there has, take him out, without making a noise. Hang the almanac's cheat and the catalogue's spite ! Old Time is a liar! we're twenty to-night!
2. We're twenty! We're twenty! Who says we are
more? He's tipsy,—young jackanapes !-show him the door! “Gray temples at twenty"? — Yes! white if we please; Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there's nothing can freeze!
3. Was it snowing I spoke of ? Excuse the mistake!
4. We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been
5. That fellow's the “Speaker,” the one on the right; “Mr. Mayor," my young one, how are you to-night? That's our “ Member of Congress,” we say when we chaff; There's the “ Reverend” - what's his name?- do n't make
me laugh. 6. That boy with the grave mathematical look Made believe he had written a wonderful book, And the Royal Society thought it was true ! So they chose him right in,-a good joke it was too!
7. There's a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain,
8. And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith;
9.—You hear that boy laughing? You think he's all fun; But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done; The children laugh loud as they troop to his call, And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!