Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lord Leicester, brought his hounds into the county. His huntsman was William Jones, whom Mr. Meynell called 'the • best in England.' Lord Maynard went even further and declared he would sooner sit in his company than in the

company of half the Melton Mowbray gentlemen.' Mr. Coke himself, besides being a fox-hunter, is now remembered by many as a friend of agriculture: it is, however, forgotten by most persons that he was the inventor of the * Billy Coke' hat.

The vast popularity which fox-hunting attained in this country, in the course of so short a time, might incline a philosophic writer to inquire into the causes. We must resist the temptation of entering upon the origin of the taste for field sports, or their morality. Fox-hunting, more than any other diversion of that nature, has in it all the best elements of sport.' That word has been so misapplied that we almost hesitate to use it without defining its sense. But a definition is difficult to find ; and every blackguard on a racecourse thinks himself a sportsman,' and is called so by others. But racing is not sport; for every sport essentially includes the capture, or killing, of an animal, and, we hasten to add, of a wild animal. We may again quote Mr. Paget.

The word "sport" now is made to cover a multitude of things which to my mind should be classed under another name. Hunting the carted stag and the drag may be pleasant and harmless amusements, but they are not sport; and the same may be said of a bagged fox. To further illustrate my meaning I should say it is sport to hunt the rat with terriers on his own ground, but to first catch that animal and then turn him out before dogs is not sport. Shooting pigeons from a trap is certainly not sport, but it is a very nice point where the line should be drawn in shooting pbeasants that only the evening before have fed from the keeper's hand. ... One often hears the expression

outdoor sports,' and I always wonder what kind of sport it is that can be enjoyed indoors. My idea of sport is pursuing a wild beast or bird in the open air and in the country where the object of pursuit has been bred. You may think this rather a narrow-minded view, but that is how it appears to me. The man who had a thousand pheasants down from Leadenhall Market and, turning them out of his attic windows, shot them as they rocketted over high elm trees, may have had some pretty shooting, but I do not think that any one could call it sport. I have never done any hawking, but that I should certainly call sport. Nearly all forms of fishing also deserve the name, whether it be the higher art with the fly or the humble angling for coarse fish in a sluggish river.'

nevehangin sareer to districts of being morbefore the

It would be useless to deny that the golden age of foxhunting is over. Hounds, horses, and huntsmen were probably never better than they are now. But the face of the country is changing. The golden age lasted from the end of Mr. Meynell's career to the fifties. Now railways have turned some of the fairest districts of England into the likeness of a gridiron; wire is everywhere being more generally used for fencing purposes ; foxes must give way before the increased culture of pheasants for shooting. But, in spite of agricultural depression and everything else combined, more men hunt now than ever did before, which makes us believe that it will be a very long time before the sport is extinct.

ART. V.-1. Oliver Cromwell. By the Right Hon. John

MORLEY, M.P. London: Macmillan & Co., 1900. 2. Oliver Cromwell. By THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Westminster:

Constable & Co., 1900. 3. Cromwell's Place in History: founded on Six Lectures

delivered in the University of Oxford. By SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER, D.C.L. London, New York, and Bombay :

Longmans, Green, & Co., 1900. 4. Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans in England.

By CHARLES FIRTH, M.A. New York and London: G. P.

Putnam's Sons, 1900. 5. Oliver Cromwell. By FREDERIC HARRISON. London and

New York: Macmillan & Co., 1889. 6. Oliver Cromwell the Protector : an Appreciation based on

Contemporary Evidence. By REGINALD F. D. PALGRAVE, C.B. London : Sampson Low & Marston, 1890. The lapse of some two hundred and fifty years has done - little to diminish the interest that Englishmen take in the career and character of Oliver Cromwell. The violent political reaction towards Royalty that followed the fall of the Commonwealth influenced generations of writers, and for many a long day served to blind men to the great qualities of one who is now almost universally recognised as among the noblest of the rulers that ever bore sway in England. For at length the fame of Cromwell received ample vindication, and his portrait, drawn by the hand of genius, now holds a secure place in the historical imaginations of men. Carlyle, with his admiration of strength, his hatred of shams, his love, of what seemed to him the sole realities and veracities in a disjointed and confused world, kindled the enthusiasm of his generation. Here at last, said that great man, is the true Cromwell. Let his own letters and speeches, and his own deeds, tell us what he was. Let us discard once for all the follies, the flunkyisms, and the malice of the commentators, editors, historians, pamphleteers, &c., who have aspersed his memory ; and so doing, we shall see Cromwell as Milton saw him

our chief of men, who through a cloud
Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
To peace and truth his glorious way has ploughed.'

Thus Cromwell the Regicide gave place to Cromwell the Hero. The blows he struck were struck in a noble cause one that was not to be won without the giving and receiving of hard knocks. If the necessities of the time had made him a military dictator, none the less was this but an essential step to the end which he was always pursuing—the establishment of civil and religious freedom in his own country, and the safeguarding of England against foreign, and especially Spanish enmity. To this effect argued, or rather stormed, Carlyle.

In the last resort it is the function of history to judge. Carlyle was a great, a very great historian, who with conspicuous ability and unexampled success brought home to the minds of men the deep causes that underlay and controlled the movements of time. The qualities that made him great were, however, other than judicial, and the rhetorical splendour of his advocacy of the cause of Cromwell will hardly entitle him to claim for his client in all its completeness the final verdict of history. In the long run, exaggeration, however telling for the time, inevitably produces reaction, and it is not surprising that writers of to-day should subject to calm inquiry the soundness of the conclusions reached in all the enthusiasm of hero-worship by a writer of distinguished genius half a century ago. In the last few years, and on both sides of the Atlantic, the character of Cromwell has attracted the attention of the most eminent historians and writers of the day; whilst only in the last few weeks Mr. John Morley and Mr. Roosevelt have produced discriminating studies of the career of the great Protector which, though they do justice to his manifold great qualities, would certainly not have satisfied Carlyle. How much better it would have been for the world and for England, sighs the American historian, had Cromwell possessed the self-denying patriotism, the character free from every taint of personal ambition, that distinguished Washington! How much trouble and disgrace would have been averted from England, thinks the English statesman, had Cromwell been less addicted, by unconscious love of power and impatience of opposition, to personal absolute rule ! That Cromwell identified his own cause with the will of God is indisputable, and his sincerity is nowadays seldom questioned; but it would be a dangerous conclusion not easily admissible by English statesmanship that such a plea entitled him, regardless of all else, to the grateful admiration of posterity. To such a man as Carlyle the very violence of

England, sier it would may not have se to his man

the view whichhere is much to stary governm

Cromwell, the thoroughness with which he swept away or trampled underfoot mere constitutional fictions, as they seemed to his biographer, was irresistibly attractive. To the best class of English statesmen, on the other hand, violence, especially military violence, done to constitutional forms has always been abhorrent. It is a bad basis upon which to build a system of order and popular freedom. In the view which Mr. Morley takes of the character of Cromwell, and there is much to support it, Cromwellian rule was inconsistent with parliamentary government. Yet it was the parliamentary system for which the civil wars were fought, and upon which the liberties of Englishmen were to be built. Cromwell's desire was for a settlement' of the civil and religious troubles that since the meeting of the Long Parliament had distracted his countrymen. He believed that Englishmen could only be governed by a parliament, and he favoured the institution of an Upper House. But in practice he could never work with a parliament at all, and his reliance for the maintenance of his position throughout his reign was solely on the army.

Mr. Morley, in his preface, pays a graceful and welldeserved compliment to those heroes of research '-Mr. Gardiner, “the master-historian of the seventeenth century,' and Mr. Firth, by whose efforts modern readers have been able to acquire an intimate acquaintance with the principal actors of the civil wars, and a far more full knowledge than was formerly attainable of the incidents and details of that struggle, and of the events in the years following upon it. He owes them, however, no apology for venturing to trespass on ground they have made their own. As time goes on it seems probable that there will be a greater division of labour than heretofore in the writing of history. Into the ever increasing accumalation of materials available to the historian it will be the business of one man to mine, and of another to smelt or refine the ore which has been extracted. Readers do not wish to be buried in details or to be prevented from seeing the wood by the trees. Gibbon was able, in eleven octavo volumes, to tell the story of the world for some fourteen hundred years and to philosophise upon it as he went along. Investigation and narration were combined with profound meditation in the production of that immortal work. It is not the fault of modern writers that the history of ten years spreads itself over more pages than were formerly required for a thousand. As regards biography, the result is clear enough--the upgrowth of a

« PreviousContinue »