Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

CHA P.“ north? Be feared and courted by all foreign

66 princes, and be adopted a brother to the gods of 1658. “ the earth? Call together parliaments with a word

“ of his pen, and scatter them again with the breath 6 of his mouth ? Reduce to subjection a warlike and “ discontented nation, by means of a mutinous ar“ my ? Command a mutinous army by means of se“ ditious and factious officers ? Be humbly and daily " petitioned, that he would be pleased, at the rate 6 of millions a year, to be hired as master of those * who had hired him before to be their servant ? “ Have the estates and lives of three nations as " much at his disposal as was once the little inhe“ ritance of his father, and be as noble and liberal “ in the spending of them ? And, lastly, (for there " is no end of enumerating every particular of his “ glory,) with one word bequeath all this power "and splendour to his posterity? Die possessed of * peace at home, and triumph abroad? Be buried 6 among kings, and with more than regal solem" nity; and leave a name behind him not to be ex“ tinguished but with the whole world; which as it “ was too little for his praise, so might it have been " for his conquests, if the short line of his mortal “ life could have stretched out to the extent of his “ immortal designs."

My intention is not to disfigure this picture, drawn by so masterly a hand: I shall only endeavour to remove from it somewhat of the marvellous; a circumstance, which, on all occasions, gives much ground for doubt and suspicion. It seems to me, that the circumstance of Cromwel's life, in which his abilities are principally discovered, is his rising from a private station, in opposition to so many rivals, so much advanced before him, to a high command and authority in the army. His great courage, his signal military talents, his eminent dexterity and address, were all requisite for this important acquisi

tion, tion. Yet will not this promotion appear the effect of c H A P. supernatural abilities, when we consider, that Fair. be fax himself, a private gentleman, who had not the 1658. advantage of a seat in parliament, had, through the same steps, attained even a superior rank, and, if

endued with common capacity and penetration, had . - been able to retain it. To incite such an army to rebellion against the parliament, required no un common art or industry: To have kept them in obedience had been the more difficult enterprise. When the breach was once formed between the military and civil powers, a supreme and absolute authority, from that moment, is devolved on the general; and if he be afterwards pleased to employ: artifice or policy, it may be regarded, on most occasions, as great condescension, if not as superfluous caution. That Cromwel was ever able really to blind or over-reach either the king or the republicans, does not appear: As they possessed no means of resisting the force under his command, they were glad to temporise with him, and, by seeming to be deceived, wait for opportunities of freeing themselves from his dominion. If he seduced the milie tary fanatics, it is to be considered, that their interests and his evidently concurred, that their igno- , rance and low education exposed them to the grossest imposition, and that he himself was at bottom as frantic an enthusiast as the worst of them, and, in order to obtain their confidence, needed but to dis

play those vulgar and ridiculous habits, which he · had early acquired, and on which he set so high a

value. An army is so forcible, and at the same time so coarse a weapon, that any hand, which wields it, may, without much dexterity, perform any operation, and attain any ascendant, in human society.

The domestic administration of Cromwel, though it discovers great abilities, was conducted without , any plan either of liberty or arbitrary power: PerVOL. VII.

haps,

Oclochough qual espec

CH A P. haps, his difficult situation admitted of neither. His LXI.

foreign enterprises, though full of intrepidity, were 1658. pernicious to national interest, and seem more the

result of impetuous fury or narrow prejudices, than of cool foresight and deliberation. An eminent personage, however, he was in many respects, and even a superior genius; but unequal and irregular in his operations. And though not defective in any talent, except that of elocution, the abilities, which in him were most admirable, and which most contributed to his marvellous success, were the magnanimous resolution of his enterprises, and his peculiar dexterity in discovering the characters, and practicing on the weaknesses of mankind.

Ir we survey the moral character of Cromwel with that indulgence which is due to the blindness and infirmities of the human species, we shall not be inclined to load his memory with such violent reproaches as those which his enemies usually throw upon it. Amidst the passions and prejudices of that period, that he should prefer the parliamentary to the royal cause, will not appear extraordinary ; since, even at present, some men of sense and knowledge are disposed to think that the question, with regard to the justice of the quarrel, may be regarded as doubtful and uncertain. The murder of the king, the most atrocious of all his actions, was to him covered under a mighty cloud of republican and fanatical illusions; and it is not impossible, but he might believe it, as many others did, the most meritorious action that he could perform. His subsequent usurpation was the effect of necessity, as well as of ambition; nor is it easy to see, how the various factions could at that time have been restrained, without a mixture of military and arbitrary authority. The private deportment of Cromwel, as a son, a husband, a father, a friend, is exposed to no considerable censure, if it does not rather merit praise. And, upon the whole, his character does

not

not appear more extraordinary and unusual by the CH A P. mixture of so much absurdity with so much pene

LXI. tration, than by his tempering such violent ambi- 1658. tion and such enraged fanaticism with so much regard to justice and humanity.

CROMWEL was in the fifty-ninth year of his age when he died. He was of a robust frame of body, and of a manly, though not of an agreeable aspect. He left only two sons, Richard and Henry; and three daughters, one married to general Fleetwood, another to lord Fauconberg, a third to lord Rich. His father died when he was young. His mother lived till after he was protector; and, contrary to her orders, he buried her with great pomp in Westminster Abbey. She could not be persuaded that his power or person was ever in safety. At every noise which she heard, she exclaimed, that her son was murdered; and was never satisfied that he was alive, if she did not receive frequent visits from him. She was a decent woman; and, by her frugality and industry, had raised and educated a nu-.. merous family upon a small fortune. She'had even been obliged to set up a brewery at Huntingdon, which she managed to good advantage. Hence Cromwel, in the invectives of that age, is often stigmatised with the name of the brewer. Ludlow, by way of insult, mentions the great accession, which he would receive to his royal revenues upon his mother's death, who possessed a jointure of sixty pounds a year upon his estate. She was of a good family, of the name of Stuart ; remotely allied, as is by some supposed, to the royal family.

C H A P. LXII.

Richard acknowledged protector-A parliament-Ca

bal of Walling ford House-Richard deposed Long parliament or Rump restored-Conspiracy of the royalists Insurrection Suppressed-Parliament expelled-Committee of safety, Foreign af. fairs General Monk-Monk declares for the parliament-Parliament restored-Monk enters London, declares for a free parliament --Secluded members restored-Long parliament dissolved-New parliament - The Restoration-Manners and arts.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. ALL the arts of Cromwel's policy had been so · LXIL.

S A often practised, that they began to lose their „1658. effect; and his power, instead of being confirmed

by time and success, seemed every day to become more uncertain and precarious. His friends the most closely connected with him, and his counsellors the most trusted, were entering into cabals against his authority; and, with all his penetration into the characters of men, he could not find any ministers on whom he could rely. Men of probity and honour, he knew, would not submit to be the instruments of an usurpation violent and illegal: Those who were free from the restraint of principle, might betray, from interest, that cause, in which, from no better motives, they had inlisted themselves.

Even those on whom he conferred any favour, e shtete never deemed the recompense an equivalent for the sacrifices which they made to obtain it: Whoever

was

« PreviousContinue »