תמונות בעמוד

England, by referring them to one who had greater ability to resist solicitation with firmness. Of the four confidential counsellors by whose advice Charles was almost exclusively directed after the death of Oliver Cromwell, Hyde * bore the greatest share of business, and was believed to possess the greatest influence. The measures he recommended were tempered with sagacity, prudence, and moderation. The chancellor was a witness of the Restoration; he was with Charles at Canterbury, in his progress to London, followed his triumphal entry into the capitol, and took his seat on the first of June, 1660, as speaker of the House of Lords : he also sat on the same day in the Court of Chancery. In the same year his daughter became the wife of the Duke of York; and by this marriage Hyde was rendered the progenitor of two queens of England, Mary and Anne. At the coronation, in 1661, the earldom of Clarendon was conferred upon him, accompanied with a present from the king of twenty thousand pounds.

Clarendon enjoyed the office of chancellor till 1665, when, having incurred the popular displeasure by some of his measures, and raised up many bitter enemies in the court by his opposition to the dissoluteness and extravagance which there prevailed, he resigned the great seal at his majesty's command, and was soon after compelled to withdraw from the kingdom. He retired into France, where he occupied several years in completing his History of the Rebellion, and died at Rouen, on the ninth of December, 1673. His remains were afterwards brought to England and interred on the north side of King Henry the Seventh's chapel, in Westminster Abbey.

The History of the Rebellion,' Clarendon's great work, is not written in the studied manner usually observed in historical compositions, but in an easy flowing conversational style; and it is generally esteemed for the lively descriptions which the author gives, from his own knowledge and observations, of his most eminent contemporaries. The events are narrated with that freshness and minuteness which no writer but one concerned in them could have attained; but in judging of the characters and transactions described, some allowance must be made for the political prejudices of the author, which, as we have already observed, were those of a moderate and virtuous royalist. The principal faults of his style are prolixity and want of clearness: the narrative is also frequently interrupted by the introduction of minute discussions of accessory matters.

Lord Clarendon wrote also a variety of shorter works, among which are a life of himself, a reply to the 'Leviathan' of Hobbes, and an admirable Essay on an Active and Contemplative Life, and why the One should be preferred before the Other. This last work is peculiarly valuable, as the production of a man who, to a sound and vigorous understanding, added rare knowledge of the world, and much experience of life, both active and retired. He strongly maintains the superiority of an active course, as having the greater tendency to promote, not only the happiness and usefulness, but also the virtue of the individual. In the year 1811, a work of Lord Clarendon's, which had till that time remained in manuscript, was published under the

title of Religion and Policy, and the Countenance and Assistance they should give to each other ; with a Survey of the Power and Jurisdiction of the Pope in the Dominions of other Princes. The principal object of the work is to show the injury that religion has sustained by the pope's assumption of temporal authority, and that it is incumbent on Catholics living under Protestant governments to pay no regard to papal authority, in opposition to their own sovereigns. The following sketches of Charles the First and of Oliver Cromwell show Clarendon's style to great advantage :

CHARACTER OF CHARLES I. But it will not be unnecessary to add a short character of his person, that posterity may know the inestimable loss which the nation then underwent, in being deprived of a prince whose example would have had a greater influence upon the manners and piety of the nation, than the most strict laws can have. To speak first of his private qualifications as a man, before the mention of his princely and royal virtues ; he was, if ever any, the most worthy of the title of an honest man; so great a lover of justice, that no temptation could dispose him to a wrongful action, except it was so disguised to him that he believed it to be just. He had a tenderness and compassion of nature which restrained him from ever doing a hard-hearted thing; and, therefore, he was so apt to grant pardon to malefactors, that the judges of the land represented to him the damage and insecurity to the public that flowed from such his indulgence. And then he restrained himself from pardoning either murders or highway robberies, and quickly discerned the fruits of his severity by a wonderful reformation of those enormities. He was very punctual and regular in his devotions ; he was never known to enter upon his recreations or sports, though never so early in the morning, before he had been at public prayers ; so that on hunting days, his chaplains were bound to a very early attendance. He was likewise very strict in observing the hours of his private cabinet devotions, and was so severe an exacter of gravity and reverence in all mention of religion, that he could never'endure any light or profane word, with what sharpness of wit soever it was covered; and though he was well pleased and delighted with reading verses made upon any occasion, no man durst bring before him any thing that was profane or unclean. That kind of wit had never any countenance then. He was so great an example of conjugal affec tion, that they who did not imitate him in that particular, durst not brag of thei Kiberty; and he did not only permit, but direct his bishops to prosecute those scan dalous vices, in the ecclesiastical courts, against persons of eminence, and near rela tion to his service.

His kingly virtues had some mixture and allay that hindered them from shining ir full lustre, and from producing those fruits they should have been attended with He was not in his nature very bountiful, though he gave very much. This appeared more after the Duke of Buckingham's death, after which those showers fell very rarely; and he paused too long in giving, which made those to whom he gave less sensible of the benefit. He kept state to the full, which made his court very order ly, no man presuming to be seen in a place where he had no pretence to be. He saw and observed men long before he received them about his person; and did not love strangers, nor very confident men. He was a patient hearer of causes, which he fre. quently accustomed himself to at the council board, and judged very well, and was dexterous in the mediating part; so that he often put an end to causes by persua sion, which the stubbornness of men's tumours made dilatory in courts of justice.

He was very fearless in his person; but, in his riper years, not very enterprising He had an excellent understanding, but was not confident enough of it; which made him oftentimes change his opinion for a worse, and follow the advice of men thal

did not judge so well as himself. This made him more irresolute than the conjuncture of his affairs would admit; if he had been of a rougher and more imperious nature, he would have found more respect and duty. And his not applying some se vere cures to approaching evils proceeded from the lenity of his nature, and the tenderness of his conscience, which, in all cases of blood, made him choose the softer way, and not hearken to severe counsels, how reasonably soever urged. This only restrained him from pursuing his advantage in the first Scottish expedition, when, humanly speaking, he might have reduced that nation to the most entire obedience that could have been wished. But no man can say he had then many who advised him to it, but the contrary, by a wonderful indisposition all his council had to the war or any other fatigue. He was always a great lover of the Scottish nation, haying not only been born there, but educated by that people, and besieged by them always, having few English about him till he was king; and the major number of his servants being still of that nation, who he thought could never fail him. And among these, no man had such an ascendant over him, by the humblest insinuations, as Duke Hamilton had.

As he excelled in all other virtues, so in temperance he was so strict, that he abhorred all debauchery to that degree, that, at a great festival solemnity, where he once was, when very many of the nobility of the English and Scots were entertained, being told by one who withdrew from thence, what vast draughts of wine they drank, and, that there was one earl who had drank most of the rest down, and was not himself moved or altered,' the king said, 'that he deserved to be hanged;' and that earl coming shortly after into the room where his majesty was, in some gayety, to show how unhurt he was from that battle, the king sent one to bid him withdraw from his majesty's presence; nor did he in some days after appear before him.

So many miraculous circumstances contributed to his ruin, that men might well think that heaven and earth conspired it. Though he was, from the first declension of his power, so much betrayed by his own servants, that there were very few who remained faithful to him, yet that treachery proceeded not always from any treasonable purpose to do him any harm, but from particular and personal animosities against other men. And afterward, the terror all men were under of the parliament, and the guilt they were conscious of themselves, made them watch all opportunities to make themselves gracious to those who could do them good ; and so they became spies upon their master, and from one piece of knavery were hardened and confirmed to undertake another, till at last they had no hope of preservation but by the destruction of their master. And after all this, when a man might reasonably believe that less than a universal defection of three nations could not have reduced a great king to so ugly a fate, it is most certain that, in that very hour, when he was thus wickedly murdered in the sight of the sun, he had as great a share in the hearts and affections of his subjects in general, was as much beloved, esteemed, and longed for by the people in general of the three nations, as any of his predecessors had ever been. To conclude, he was the worthiest gentleman, the best master, the best friend, the best husband, the best father, and the best Christian, that the age in which he lived produced. And if he were not the greatest king, if he were without some parts and qualities which have made some kings great and happy, no other prince was ever unhappy who was possessed of half his virtues and endowments, and so much without any kind of vice.

CHARACTER OF OLIVER CROMWELL. He was one of those men, quos vituperare ne inimici quidem possunt, nisi ut simul laudent, whom his very enemies could not condemn without commending him at the same time; for he could never have done half that mischief without great parts of courage, industry, and judgment. He must have had a wonderful understanding in the natures and humours of men, and as great a dexterity in applying

them ; who, from a private and obscure birth (though of a good family), without interest or estate, alliance or friendship, could raise himself to such a height, and compound and knead such opposite and contradictory tempers, humours, and interests, into a consistence, that contributed to his designs, and to their own destruction ; whilst himself grew insensibly powerful enough to cut off those by whom he had climbed, in the instant that they projected to demolish their own building. What was said of Cinna may very justly be said of him, ausum eum, quæ nemo auderet bonus, perfecisse, quæ a nullo, nisi fortissimo, perfici possent—[* He attempted those things which no good man durst have ventured on, and achieved those in which none but a valiant and great man could have succeeded.'] Without doubt, no man, with more wickedness ever attempted any thing, or brought to pass what he desired more wickedly, more in the face and contempt of religion and moral honesty. Yet wickedness as great as his could never have accomplished those designs without the assistance of a great spirit, an admirable circumspection and sagacity, and a most magnanimous resolution.

When he appeared first in the parliament, he seemed to have a person in no degree gracious, no ornament of discourse, none of those talents which use to conciliate the affections of the stander-by. Yet as he grew into place and authority, his parts seemed to be raised, as if he had had concealed faculties, till he had occasion to use them; and when he was to act the part of a great man, he did it without any indecency, notwithstanding the want of custom.

After he was confirmed and invested Protector by the humble petition and advice, he consulted with very few upon any action of importance, nor communicated any enterprise he resolved upon with more than those who were to have principal parts in the execution of it; nor with them sooner than was absolutely necessary. What he once resolved, in which he was not rash, he would not be dissuaded from, nor endure any contradiction of his power and authority, but extorted obedience from them who were not willing to yield it.

Thus he subdued a spirit that had been often troublesome to the most sovereign power, and made Westminster Hall as obedient and subservient to his commands as any of the rest of his quarters. In all other matters which did not concern the life of his jurisdiction, he seemed to have great reverence for the law, rarely interposing between party and party. As he proceeded with this kind of indignation and haughtiness with those who were refractory, and durst contend with his greatness, so toward all who complied with his good pleasure, and courted his protection, he used great civility, generosity, and bounty.

To reduce three nations, which perfectly hated him, to an entire obedience to all his dictates; to awe and govern those nations by an army that was indevoted to him, and wished his ruin, was an instance of a very prodigious address. But his greatness at home was but a shadow of the glory he had abroad. It was hard to discover which feared him most, France, Spain, or the Low Countries, where his friendship was current at the value he put upon it. As they did all sacrifice their honour and their interest to his pleasure, so there is nothing he could have demanded that either of them would have denied him. *

To conclude his character: Cromwell was not so far a man of blood as to forlow Machiavel's method ; which prescribes, upon a total alteration of government, as a thing absolutely necessary, to cut off all the heads of those, and extirpate their families, who are friends to the old one. It was confidently reported, that in the council of officers it was more than once proposed, that there might be a general massacre of all the royal party, as the only expedient to secure the government,' but that Cromwell would never consent to it; it may be, out of too great a contempt of his enemies. In a word, as he was guilty of many crimes against which damnation is denounced, and for which hell-fire is prepared, so ho had some good qualities which have caused the memory of some men in all ages

to be celebrated; and he will be looked upon by a posterity as a brave wicked man.

Brief notices of Sir Matthew Hale and James Harrington will close our present remarks.

MATTHEW Hale was born at Aldersly, in Gloucester, on the first of November, 1609. His father being puritanically inclined, placed him under the care of Staunton, a noted puritan preacher of that period, by whom he was well prepared for the university, and, in 1626, he entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he laid the foundation of that learning and knowledge on which he afterward raised so vast a superstructure. In 1629, he entered Lincoln's Inn as a student of law, and from the time of his admission at the bar he rose gradually until he reached the very top of his profession. He was elevated to the bench by Oliver Cromwell, and by Charles the Second, was, in 1660, knighted, and made chief baron of the exchequer; and eleven years after appointed Lord Chief Justice of the king's bench. Amidst the immorality of Charles the Second's reign, Sir Matthew Hale stands out with peculiar lustre, as an impartial, incorruptible, and determined administrator of justice. Though of a benevolent and devout, as well as righteous disposition, his manners are said to have been extremely austere. He died of dropsy, on the twenty-fifth of December 1676, and was buried, in accordance with his own request, in the churchyard of Aldersly, among his ancestors.

Besides his celebrity as a judge, Sir Matthew Hale acquired very considerable literary reputation. The productions of his pen, which are many and various, relate chiefly to natural philosophy, divinity, and law. His religious opinions were Calvinistical : and his chief theological work, entitled Contemplations, Moral and Divine, still retains very considerable popularity. As a specimen of his style, we present the following letter of advice to his children :


DEAR CHILDREN-I thank God I came well to Farrington this day, about five o'clock. And as I have some leisure time at my inn, I can not spend it more to my own satisfaction, and your benefit, than, by a letter, to give you some good counsel. The subject shall be concerning your speech; because much of the good or evil that befalls persons arises from the well or ill managing of their conversation. When I have leisure and opportunity, I shall give you my directions on other subjects.

Never speak any thing for a truth which you know or believe to be false. Lying is a great sin against God, who gave us a tongue to speak the truth, and not falsehood. It is a great offence against humanity itself; for, where there is no regard to truth, there can be no safe society between man and man. And it is an injury to the speaker; for, besides the disgrace which it brings upon him, it occasions so much baseness of mind, that he can scarcely tell truth, or avoid lying, even when he has no colour of Decessity for it; and, in time, he comes to such a pass, that as other people can not believe he speaks truth, so he himself scarcely knows when he tells a falsehood.

As you must be careful not to lie, so you must avoid coming near it. You must

« הקודםהמשך »