Abbildungen der Seite

persons who

Edinburgh, where he was received as a deliverer ; and settling the affairs of that lawless country under the management of Argyll, left it with reason to believe that it would prove as peaceable as he could wish.

The part which Cromwell bore in the tragedy that ensued, and the manner in which the hypocrisy, the coarseness, and the levity of his character were displayed, when, not having felt power or courage to prevent the wickedness, he took the lead in it himself, are known to all have any knowledge of English history. The powers of Europe had most of them secretly fomented the rebellion, and made no attempt to avert the catastrophe which it brought about. France more especially had acted treacherously toward the king; commenting upon which, in the earlier part of his history, Lord Clarendon has some memorable observations upon the impolicy as well as the injustice of such conduct," as if," he says, " the religion of princes were nothing but policy, and that they considered nothing more than to make all other kingdoms but their own miserable ; and because God hath reserved them to be tried only within his own jurisdiction, that he means to try them too by other laws and rules than he hath published to the world for his servants to walk by. Whereas they ought to consider that God hath placed them over his people as examples, and to give countenance to his laws by their own strict observation of them; and that as their subjects are to be defended and protected by their princes, so they themselves are to be assisted and supported by one another, the function of kings being an order by itself; and as a contempt and breach of every law is in the policy of state an offence against the person of the king, because there is a kind of violation offered to his person in the transgression of that rule, without which he can not govern ; so the rebellion of subjects against their prince ought to be looked upon by all other kings as an assault of their own sovereignty, and in some degree a design against monarchy itself, and consequently to be suppressed and extirpated, in what other kingdom soever it is, with the like concernment as if it were in their own bowels." Lord Bacon has noticed it as a defect in the his. torical part of learning that there is not an impartial and well attested Historia Nemesios. In such a history the miseries which France has undergone, and which Spain is undergoing and is to undergo, would exemplify the justice of Clarendon's remarks.

While other governments beheld the fate of Charles with an indifference as disreputable to their feelings as to their policy, and while the king of Spain adorned his palace by purchasing the choicest speciments of art with which Charles had enriched England, an honorable exception is to be made for Portugal and the house of Braganza. That house, in a time of extreme difficulty and danger, when it could ill afford to provoke another enemy, chose rather to incur the resentment and vengeance of the English commonwealth, than to refuse protection to Prince Rupert and the ships under his command; and when the parliamentary fleet entered the Tagus, and denounced war unless they were instantly delivered up, it was with difficulty that Prince Theodosius (whose untimely death may, perhaps, be considered as the greatest misfortune that ever befell the Portuguese) was dissuaded from going on board the Portuguese fleet himself, to join Prince Rupert, and give battle to his enemies. On that occasion the Braganzan family considered what was right and honorable, regardless of all meaner considerations ; they supplied Rupert fully, and would not suffer his pursuers to leave the port till two tides after he had sailed out with a full gale. They suffered severely for this, but they preserved their honor ; and as it behooves us not to forget this, so does it at this time especially behoove the Portuguese to remember in what manner the constant alliance and friendship of England, which for more than a hundred and sixty years has never been interrupted, was then deserved.

The levity which Cromwell displayed during that mockery of justice with which the king was sacrificed, Mr. Noble supposes to have been affected : and Mr. O. Cromwell endeavors to inval. idate the evidence upon which it has been record. ed and hitherto received. Its truth or falsehood would matter little in the fair estimate of his whole conduct, or of that particular act; and the thing itself is too consistent with other authentic anecdotes concerning him to be arbitrarily set aside. It is more remarkable that he went to look at the murdered king, opened the coffin himself, put his finger to the neck where it had been severed, and even inspecting the inside of the body, observed in how healthy a state it had been, and how well made for length of life. He had screwed his feelings as well as his conscience at this time to the sticking-place, and seems as if he had been resolved to make it known that he would shrink from nothing which might be necessary for his views. This was shown in the case of Lord Ca. pel, a man in all respects of exemplary virtue, and worthy of the highest honors that history can bestow, as one who performed his duty faithfully, and to the last, in the worst of times. Cromwell knew him personally, spoke of him as of a friend, and made his very virtues a reason for taking away his life! His affection to the public, he said, so much weighed down his private friendship, that he could not but tell the house the question was whether they would preserve their most bitter and most im. placable enemy; he knew the Lord Capel very well, and knew that he would be the last man in England who would forsake the royal interest; that he had great courage, industry, and generosity; that he had many friends who would always adhere to him; and that as long as he lived, what condition soever he was in, he would be a thorn in their sides ; and therefore, for the good of the commonwealth, he should vote for his death. This was delivered and heard as a proof of republican virtue. God deliver us from all such virtues as harden the heart!

Hobbes has affirmed that at the time of Lord Ca. pel's execution it was put to the question by the army, whether all who had borne arms for the king should be massacred or no, and the noes carried it by only two voices.* If this be true, Cromwell, we may be sure, was one of those who declared against it; when he shed blood it was upon a calculating policy, never for the appetite of blood : such acts were committed by him against a good nature, not in the indulgence of a depraved

Nor were the royalists the party of whom he was at that time most apprehensive ; they were broken and dispersed, their cause was abandoned by man, and the pulpit incendiaries preached, and perhaps persuaded both themselves and others, [* Arthur, Lord Capel, was executed 9th March, 1648.]


« ZurückWeiter »