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become to every Englishman. For the true measure of a nation's life is in the intensity of its love and reverence for what is good and great in its past history. As noble families delight to hand down in sacred tradition the memory of ancestors who have made them rich in honour, so noble nations walk daily in solemn and joyous reverence among the memories of their great dead. And as dishonour of parents is the surest sign of individual worthlessness, so the fatalest symptom of national decay is disregard of the wisdom, and disdain of the example of the men whom God has bidden us hold in perpetual remembrance, and the lesson of whose lives is the most precious knowledge which we can bring home to the mind of our children. I see the truth of this bitterly enough every day. Victoria is unique among British dependencies for her happy fortune and her energy; as yet she is the most English offshoot of the old parent stem. But there are signs that this inheritance of race and habit is already in decay. Amongst our youth it only survives in its baser forms. The universal disregard of parental rule and authority, the extinction of the sanctities of home, and lack of ideals of beauty and heroic valour, are swiftly and surely debasing the people here, and unless Providence interpose to correct the national character by some severe discipline, the future of this land will be a warning to the world. Victoria has yet to learn that the foundations of national prosperity and greatness are laid in the eternal laws of right and toil, in those habits of thought and action which the conscience and common sense alike of the best of mankind have delighted to revere and to trust.
The Puritan struggle with iniquity in Church and State began to interest me in boyhood, and as I'grew to know it and understand it better, and became familiar with the commanding minds who made the history of England very great in their time, I felt a desire to give my idea of the age and of its people an abiding shape, and so there arose in my mind the outline of a drama having for its central figure the leading man of the first period of the Puritan Revolution, John Hampden. I trust there will never be a time in the future of England when the name of Hampden will not call up feelings of a very noble kind in the minds of Englishmen. He stands in the front rank of heroic men, distinguished alike for chivalric piety and disinterested patriotism, a man who deserved for his valour and his truth to be the leader of a mighty nation towards the destinies in store for it. His private life was without blemish, his public life never dishonoured by weakness or selfishness, and as if God had determined that nothing should be wanting to him which could claim the interest of his countrymen in time to come, he was appointed to meet his death on the field of battle. Something of the sorrow which moved the hearts of good men of that day comes home to us, as in imagination we watch the broken figure slowly retiring from the fight on Chalgrove Field. Yet who would wish his death to have been otherwise ?
In public affairs Hampden was the friend and associate of Pym; but he was somewhat reserved in Parliament;
not a man of many words," says Clarendon, "but a most weighty speaker.” He had not the power to sway the masses which characterized "the King of the Commons," though in persuasive power over a more select class he does not appear to have yielded to the popular leader. The fascination which he exercised over men like Falkland is churlishly acknowledged by Lord Clarendon, who tells us that “ he had a wonderful art of governing men, and leading them into his principles and inclinations.” But as a man of action rather than of words there was no man in England his superior, and only one his equal. He was the relative and intimate friend of a far greater man than Pym, an Englishman “king by Divine right” if ever man was; fitted by Almighty God to stand in the first rank of the greatest rulers who have reigned since the world began. The friendship of Cromwell and Hampden is singularly beautiful. The few glimpses which are left us of it are amongst the truest things of the kind in history. It stands alone, this great friendship, so generously appreciative, so full of fellowfeeling. Hampden was the only man in England who for many a year saw and felt the kingliness of Cromwell; Cromwell was the only man in England who could weigh in the scale of his own magnanimity, the penetrative wisdom, the statesmanlike talent, and the holy and chivalrous nature of his cousin. The famed friendships of the ancient world are dwarfed beside the love and fellowship of these two great Englishmen of the seventeenth century. When the time comes for Egnland to see and estimate aright the Puritan period of her history, the value of this friendship will be taken into account.
These men set themselves, with the earnestness of men who feel that they are eternally accountable to God, to redress the wrongs, and find a satisfactory answer to the needs of their time. The problem presents itself to us again under a new form, and the lesson of two and a half centuries ago requires to be learnt anew. Every succeeding year hears louder the imperative demand that the relations of Englishmen to each other shall be established on a juster basis than that of the formulas of modern political economy; on a thorough recognition of the claims of a God-made and God-owned humanity, instead of the Gospel of the Money Market, and the doctrine of the eternal dearness of Cash, and the eternal cheapness of souls.
To embrace in one drama the whole action of the Puritan revolution is impossible. It divides itself in the early period, and moves along in grand parallelism, with Hampden and Strafford as centres of interest. The action is welded into one again in the great soul of Cromwell, and marches with the speed of his victories to its culmination. Lastly, there is that most tragic of all spectacles, the fall of a nation from its high place of honour to baseness and cowardice, which invests the reign of Charles the Second with a mournfulness and desolation beside which the individual woes of ancient tragedy dwindle into insignificance.
So, reader, this little piece of English work with all its shortcomings, goes forth into the world. In simple, Saxon speech, truly my mother tongue, I have tried to show some portions of our story as they appeared to me. Like some small English songster borne to far-off lands, that amidst the gloom and glory of unbroken forests keeps a remembrance of green fields, and pipes snatches of old music to its lonely heart; so I, Englishborn, and taught to love England, have sung songs of her in a strange land, happy to think, that in some heart unknown to me, they may call up a throb of genuine English feeling.