Obrazy na stronie


Though this sudden, unusual, and dreadful object might have quelled a greater courage than mine; yet so it pleased God (for there is nothing bolder than a man in a vision) that I was not at all daunted, but asked him resolutely and briefly "What art thou?" And he said, "I am called the north-west principality, his highness, the protector of the commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions belonging thereto; for I am that angel, to whom the Almighty has committed the government of those three kingdoms; which tho seest from this place." And I answered and said, "If it be so, sir, it seems to me that for almost these twenty years past, your highness has been absent from your charge: for not only if any angel, but if any wise and honest man, had since that time been our governor, we should not have wandered thus long in these laborious and endless labyrinths of confusion, but either not have entered at all into them, or at least have returned back ere we had absolutely lost our way; but, instead of your highness, we have had since such a protector, as was his predecessor Richard the third to the king his nephew; for he presently slew the commonwealth, which he pretended to protect, and set up himself in the place of it: a little less guilty indeed in one respect, because the other slew an innocent, and this man did but murder a murderer. Such a protector we have had, as we would have been glad to have changed for an enemy, and rather have received a constant Turk, than this every month's apostate; such a protector, as man is to his flocks which he shears, and sells, ordevours himself, and I would fain know what the wolf, which he protects him from, could do more. Such a protector" and as I was proceeding, methoughts his highness began to put on a displeased and threatening countenance, as men use to do when their dearest friends happen to be traduced in their company; which gave me the first rise of jealousy against him, for I did not believe that Cromwell among all his foreign correspondences had ever held any with angels. However I was not hardened enough yet to venture a quarrel with him then and therefore (as if I had spoken to the protector himself in Whitehall) I desired him "that his highness would please to pardon me, if I had unwittingly spoken any thing to the disparagement of a person, whose relations to his highness I had not the honour to know."

At which he told me "that he had no other concernment for his late highness, than as he took him to be the greatest man that ever was of the English nation, if not (said he) of the whole world; which gives me a just title to the defence of his reputation, since I now account myself, as it were, a naturalised English angel, by having had so long the management of the affairs of that country. And pray, countryman, (said he, very kindly and very flatteringly) for I would not have you fall into the general error of the world, that detests and decries so extraordinary a virtue, What can be more extraordinary than that a person of mean birth, no fortune, no eminent qualities of body, which have sometimes, or of mind, which have often, raised men to the highest dignities, should have the courage to at

tempt, and the happiness to succeed in, so improbable a design, as the destruction of one of the most ancient and most solidly-founded monarchies upon the Earth? that he should have the power or boldness to put his prince and master to an open and infamous death; to banish that numerous and strongly-allied family; to do all this under the name and wages of a parliament; to trample upon them too as he pleased, and to spurn them out of doors when he grew weary of them; to raise up a new and unheard-of monster out of their ashes; to stifle that in the very infancy, and set himself above all things that ever were called sovereign in England; to oppress all his enemies by arms, and all his friends afterwards by artifice; to serve all parties patiently for a while, and to command them victoriously at last; to over-run each corner of the three nations, and overcome with equal facility both the riches of the south and the poverty of the north; to be feared and courted by all foreign princes, and adopted a brother to the gods of the Earth; to call together parliaments with a word of his pen, and scatter them again with the breath of his mouth : to be humbly and daily petitioned that he would please to be hired, at the rate of two millions a year, to be the master of those who had hired him before to be their servant; to have the es tates and lives of three kingdoms as much at his disposal, as was the little inheritance of his fa ther, and to be as noble and liberal in the spending of them; and lastly (for there is no end of all the particulars of his glory) to bequeath all this with one word to his posterity; to die with peace at home, and triumph abroad; to be buried among kings, and with more than regal solemnity; and to leave a name behind him, not to be extinguished, but with the whole world; which, as it is now too little for his praises, sa might have been too for his conquests, if the short line of his human life could have been stretched out to the extent of his immortal de signs1?"

By this speech, I began to understand perfectly well what kind of angel his pretended highness was; and having fortified myself privately with a short mental prayer, and with the sign of the cross (not out of any superstition to the sign, but as a recognition of my baptism in Christ), I grew a little bolder, and replied in this manner: "I should not venture to oppose what you are pleased to say in commendation of the late great, and (I confess) extraordinary person, but that I remember Christ forbids us to give assent to any other doctrine but what himself has taught us, even though it should be delivered by an angel; and if such you be, sir, it may be you have spoken all this rather to try than to tempt my frailty: for sure I am, that we must renounce or forget all the laws of the New and Old Testament, and those which are the foundation of both, even the laws of moral and natural honesty, if we approve of the actions of

Mr. Hume has inserted this character of Cromwell, but altered, as he says, in some particulars from the original, in his History of Great Britain. HURD,

that man whom I suppose you commend by irony.

"There would be no end to instance in the particulars of all his wickedness; but, to sum up a part of it briefly, What can be more extraordinarily wicked, than for a person, such as yourself, qualify him rightly, to endeavour not only to exalt himself above, but to trample upon, all his equals and betters? to pretend freedom for all men, and under the help of that pretence to make all men his servants? to take arms against taxes as scarce two hundred thousand pounds a year, and to raise them himself to above two millions? to quarrel for the loss of three or four ears, and to strike off three or four hundred heads? to fight against an imaginary suspicion of I know not what? two thousand guards to be fetched for the king, I know not from whence,and to keep up for himself no less than forty thousand? to pretend the defence of parliaments, and violently to dissolve all, even of his own calling, and almost choosing to undertake the reformation of religion, and to rob it even to the very skin, and then to expose it naked to the rage of all sects and heresies? to set up counsels of rapine, and courts of murder? to fight against the king under a commission for him; to take him forcibly out of the hands of those for whom he had conquered him; to draw him into his net, with protestations and vows of fidelity, and when he had caught him in it, to butcher him, with as little shame, as conscience or humanity, in the open face of the whole world? to receive a commission for the king and parliament, to murder (as I said) the one, and destroy no less impudently the other? to fight against monarchy when he declared for it, and declare against it when he contrived for it in his own person? to abase perfidiously and supplant ingratefully his own general first, and afterwards most of those officers, who, with the loss of their honour, and hazard of their souls, had lifted him up to the top of his unreasonable ambitions? to break his faith with all enemies and with all friends equally; and to make no less frequent use of the most solemn perjuries, than the looser sort of people do of customary oaths? to usurp three kingdoms without any shadow of the least pretensions, and to govern them as unjustly as he got them? to set himself up as an idol (which we know, as St. Paul says, in itself is nothing), and make the very streets of London like the valley of Hinnon, by burning the bowels of men as a sacrifice to his Molochship? to seek to entail this usurpation upon his posterity, and with it an endless war upon the nation? and lastly, by the severest judgment of Almighty God, to die hardened, and mad, and unrepentant, with the curses of the present age, and the detestation of all to succeed?"

Though I had much more to say, (for the life of man is so short, that it allows not time enough to speak against a tyrant) yet, because I had a mind to hear how my strange adversary would behave himself upon this subject, and to give even the devil (as they say) his right and fair play in a disputation, I stopped here, and expected (not without the frailty of a little fear) 2 Sir Thomas Fairfax.

that he should have broke into a violent passion in behalf of his favourite: but he on the contrary very calmly, and with the dove-like innocency of a serpent that was not yet warmed enough to sting, thus replied to me;

"It is not so much out of my affection to that person whom we discourse of, (whose greatness is too solid to be shaken by the breath of an oratory) as for your own sake (honest countryman) whom I conceive to err, rather by mistake than out of malice, that I shall endeavour to reform your uncharitable and unjust opinion. And, in the first place, I must needs put you in mind of a sentence of the most ancient of the heathen divines, that you men are acquainted withal,

Οὐχ ̓ ὅσιαν καλαμένοισιν ἐπ ̓ ἀνδράσιν εὐχείαᾶσθαι.

'Tis wicked with insulting feet to tread Upon the monuments of the dead.

And the intention of the reproof there, is no less proper for this subject; for it is spoken to a person who was proud and insolent against those dead men, to whom he had been humble and obedient whilst they lived."

"Your highness may please (said I) to add the verse that follows, as no less proper for this subject:

Whom God's just doom and their own sins have


Already to their punishment.

"But I take this to be the rule in the case,that, when we fix any infamy upon deceased persons, it should not be done out of hatred to the dead, but out of love and charity to the living: that the curses, which only remain in men's thoughts, and dare not come forth against tyrants (because they are tyrants) whilst they are so, may at least be for ever settled and engraven upon their memories, to deter all others from the like wickedness; which else, in the time of their foolish prosperity, the flattery of their own hearts, and of other men's tongues, would not suffer them to perceive. Ambition is so subtile a tempter, and the corruption of human nature so susceptible of the temptation, that a man can hardly resist it, be he never so much forewarned of the evil consequences; much less if he find not only the concurrence of the present, but the approbation too of following ages, which have the liberty to judge more freely. The mischief of tyranny is too great even in the shortest time that it can continue; it is endless and insupportable, if the example be to reign too; and if a Lambert must be invited to follow the steps of a Cromwell, as well by the voice of honour, as by the sight of power and riches. Though it may seem to some fantastically, yet was it wisely, done of the Syracusans, to implead with the forms of their ordinary justice, to condemn and destroy, even the statues of all their tyrants: if it were possible to cut them out of all history, and to extinguish their very names, I am of opinion that it ought to be done; but, since they have left behind them too deep wounds to be ever closed up without a scar, at least let us set such a mark upon their memory,

that men of the same wicked inclinations may be no less affrighted with their lasting ignominy, than enticed by their momentary glories. And, that your highness may perceive, that I speak not all this out of any private animosity against the person of the late protector, I assure you, upon my faith, that I bear no more hatred to his name, than I do to that of Marius or Sylla, who never did me, or any friend of mine, the least injury;" and with that, transported by a holy fury, I fell into this sudden rapture:

[blocks in formation]

How has it snatch'd our flocks and herds away!
And made even of our sons a prey!
What croaking sects and vermin has it sent,
The restless nation to torment!

What greedy troops, what armed power
Of flies and locusts, to devour

The land, which every where they fill! Nor fly they, Lord! away; no, they devour it still.

Come the eleventh plague, rather than this should be;

Come sink us rather in the sea.

Come rather pestilence, and reap us down; Come God's sword rather than our own.

Let rather Roman come again,

Or Saxon, Norman, or the Dane:

In all the bonds we ever bore,

We griev'd, we sigh'd, we wept; we never blush'd before.

If by our sins the divine justice be
Call'd to this last extremity,

Let some denouncing Jonas first be sent,
To try, if England can repent.
Methinks, at least, some prodigy,
Some dreadful comet from on high,

Should terribly forewarn the Earth, As of good princes death, so of a tyrant's birth."

Here, the spirit of verse beginning a little to fail, I stopt: and his highness, smiling, said, "I was glad to see you engaged in the enclosure of metre; for, if you had staid in the open plain of declaiming against the word tyrant, I must have had patience for half a dozen hours, till you had tired yourself as well as me. But pray, countryman, to avoid this sciomacy, or imaginary combat with words, let me know, sir, what you mean by the name of tyrant, for I remember that, among your ancient authors, not only all kings, but even Jupiter himself (your juvans pater) is so termed; and perhaps, as it was used formerly in a good sense, so we shall find it, upon better consideration, to be still a good thing for the benefit and peace of mankind; at least, it will appear whether your interpretation of it may be justly applied to the person, who is now the subject of our discourse."

"I call him (said I) a tyrant, who either intrudes himself forcibly into the government of his fellow-citizens without any legal authority over them; or who, having a just title to the government of a people, abuses it to the destruction or tormenting of them. So that all tyrants are at the same time usurpers, either of the whole, or at least of a part, of that power which they assume to themselves; and no less are they to be accounted rebels, since no man can usurp authority over others, but by rebelling against them who had it before, or at least against those laws which were his superiors: and in all these senses no history can afford us a more evident example of tyranny, or more out of all possibility of excuse or palliation, than that of the person whom you are pleased to defend; whether we consider his reiterated rebellions against all his superiors, or his usurpation of the supreme power to himself, or his tyranny in the exercise of it: and, if law

[ocr errors]

serves, no doubt, to have the command of her (even as his highness had) by the desire of the seamen and passengers themselves. And do but consider, lastly, (for I omit a multitude of weighty things, that might be spoken upon this noble ar

ful princes have been esteemed tyrants, by not containing themselves within the bounds of those laws which have been left them, as the sphere of their authority, by their fore-fathers, what shall we say of that man, who, having by right no power at all in this nation, could not content him-gument) do but consider seriously and impartially with yourself, what admirable parts of wit and prudence, what indefatigable diligence and (dis-invincible courage, must of necessity have concurred in the person of that man, who, from so contemptible beginnings (as I observed before) and through so many thousand difficulties, was able not only to make himself the greatest and most absolute monarch of this nation, but to add to it the entire conquest of Ireland and Scotland (which the whole force of the world, joined with the Roman virtue, could never attain to); and to crown all this with illustrious and heroical undertakings and successes upon all our foreign enemies: do but (I say again) consider this, and you will confess, that his prodigious merits were a better title to imperial dignity, than the blood of an hundred royal progenitors; and will rather lament that he lived not to overcome more nations than envy him the conquest and dominion of

self with that which had satisfied the most ambitious of our princes? nay, not with those vastly extended limits of sovereignty, which he daining all which had been prescribed and observed before) was pleased (out of great modesty) to set to himself; not abstaining from rebellion and usurpation even against his own laws, as well as those of the nation?"



"Whoever you are," said I, (my indignation making me somewhat bolder) "your discourse, methinks, becomes as little the person of a tutelar angel, as Cromwell's actions did that of a protector.

"Hold, friend, (said his highness, pulling me by my arm) for I see your zeal is transporting you again; whether the protector were a tyrant in the exorbitant exercise of his power, we shall see anon; it is requisite to examine, first, whether he were so in the usurpation of it. I say, that not only he, but no man else, ever was, or can be so; and that for these reasons. First, because all power belongs only to God, who is the source and fountain of it, as kings are of all honours in their dominions. Princes are but his viceroys in the little provinces of this world; and to some he gives their places for a few years, to some for their lives, and to others (upon ends or deserts best known to himself, or merely for his undisputable good pleasure) he bestows, as it were, leases upon them, and their posterity, It is upon these principles, that all the great for such a date of time as is prefixed in that pa- crimes of the world have been committed, and tent of their destiny, which is not legible to you most particularly those which I have had the mismen below. Neither is it more unlawful for fortune to see in my own time, and in my own Oliver to succeed Charles in the kingdom of Eng-country. If these be to be allowed, we must land, when God so disposes of it, than it had break up human society, retire into the woods, been for him to have succeeded the lord Strafford and equally there stand upon our guards against in the lieutenancy of Ireland, if he had been ap- our brethren mankind, and our rebels the wild pointed to it by the king then reigning. Men beasts. For, if there can be no usurpation upon are in both the cases obliged to obey him whom the rights of a whole nation, there can be none they see actually invested with the authority, by most certainly upon those of a private person; that sovereign from whom he ought to derive it, and, if the robbers of countries be God's vicegewithout disputing or examining the causes, either rents, there is no doubt but the thieves and banof the removal of the one, or the preferment of ditos, and murderers, are his under-officers. It the other. Secondly, because all power is at- is true which you say, that God is the source and tained, either by the election and consent of the fountain of all power; and it is no less true, that people (and that takes away your objection of he is the creator of serpents, as well as angels; forcible intrusion); or else by a conquest of them nor does his goodness fail of its ends, even in the (and that gives such a legal authority as you malice of his own creatures. What power he mention to be wanting in the usurpation of a suffers the Devil to exercise in this world, is too tyrant); so that either this title is right, and then apparent by our daily experience; and by nothere are no usurpers, or else it is a wrong one, thing more than the late monstrous iniquities and then there are none else but usurpers, if which you dispute for, and patronize in England: you examine the original pretences of the princes but would you infer from thence, that the power of the world. Thirdly, (which, quitting the dis- of the Devil is a just and lawful one; and that all pute in general, is a particular justification of his men ought, as well as most men do, obey him? highness) the government of England was totally God is the fountain of all powers; but some flow broken and dissolved, and extinguished by the from the right hand (as it were) of his goodness, confusions of a civil war; so that his highness and others from the left hand of his justice; and could not be accused to have possessed himself the world, like an island between these two rivers, violently of the ancient building of the common- is sometimes refreshed and nourished by the one wealth, but to have prudently and peaceably and sometimes over-run and ruined by the other; built up a new one out of the ruins and ashes of and (to continue a little farther the allegory) the former; and he, who after a deplorable ship- we are never overwhelmed with the latter, till, wreck, can with extraordinary industry gather either by our malice or negligence, we have together the dispersed and broken planks and stopped and dammed up the former. pieces of it, and with no less wonderful art and felicity so rejoin them, as to make a new vessel more tight and beautiful than the old one, de

"But to come a little closer to your argument or rather the image of an argument, your similitude. If Cromwell had come to command in re

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]



miserable conquest remain then in his majesty ; and didst thou suffer him to be destroyed, with more barbarity than if he had been conquered even by savages and canibals? Was it for king and parliament that we fought; and has it fared with them just as with the army which we fought against, the one part being slain, and the other fled? It appears therefore plainly, that Cromwell was not a conqueror, but a thief and robber of the rights of the king and parliament, and an usurper upon those of the people. I do not here deny conquest to be sometimes (though it be very rarely) a true title; but I deny this to be a true conquest. Sure I am, that the race of our princes came not in by such a one. One nation may conquer another sometimes justly; and if it be unjustly, yet still it is a true conquest, and they are to answer for the injustice only to God Almighty (having nothing else in authority above them) and not as particular rebels to their country, which is, and ought always to be, their superior and their lord. If perhaps we find usurpation instead of conquest in the original titles of some royal families abroad, (as no doubt there have been many usurpers, before ours, though none in so impudent and execrable a manner) all I can say for them is, that their title was very weak, till, by length of time, and the death of all juster pretenders, it became to be the true, because it was the only one.

"Your third defence of his highness (as your highness pleases to call him) enters in most seasonably after his pretence of conquest; for then a man may say any thing. The government was broken; who broke it? It was dissolved; who dissolved it? It was extinguished; who was it, but Cromwell, who not only put out the light, but cast away even the very snuff of it? As if a man should murder a whole family, and then possess himself of the house, because it is better that he, than that only rats, should live there. Jesus God! (said I, and at that word I perceived my


"The right, certainly, of conquest can only be exercised upon those against whom the war is declared, and the victory obtained. So that no whole nation can be said to be conquered, but by foreign force. In all civil wars, men are so far from stating the quarrel against their country, that they do it only against a person or party, which they really believe, or at least pretend, to be pernicious to it; neither can there be any just cause for the destruction of a part of the body, but when it is done for the preservation and safety of the whole. It is our country that raises = men in the quarrel, our country that arms, our country that pays, them, our country that autho-pretended angel to give a start and trembled, but rizes the undertaking, and by that distinguishes I took no notice of it, and went on) this were a it from rapine and murder; lastly it is our coun- wicked pretension, even though the whole fatry that directs and commands the army, and is mily were destroyed; but the heirs (blessed be indeed their general. So that to say, in civil God!) are yet surviving, and likely to out-live wars, that the prevailing party conquers their all heirs of their dispossessors, besides their infacountry, is to say, the country conquers itself. my. Rode, caper, vitem, &c. There will And, if the general only of that party be the con- be yet wine enough left for the sacrifice of those queror, the army, by which he is made so, is wild beasts, that have made so much spoil in the no less conquered than the army which is beaten, vineyard. But did Cromwell think, like Nero, and have as little reason to triumph in that vic- to set the city on fire, only that he might have tory, by which they lose both their honour and the honour of being founder of a new and more liberty. So that, if Cromwell conquered any beautiful one? He could not have such a shadow party, it was only that against which he was of virtue in his wickedness; he meant only to rob sent; and what that was must appear by his more securely and more richly in midst of the commission. It was (says that) against a com- combustion; he little thought then that he should pany of evil counsellors, and disaffected persons, ever have been able to make himself master of who kept the king from a good intelligence and the palace, as well as plunder the goods of the conjunction with his people. It was not then commonwealth. He was glad to see the public against the people. It is so far from being so, vessel (the sovereign of the seas) in as desperate that even of that party which was beaten, the a condition as his own little canoe, and thought conquest did not belong to Cromwell, but to the only, with some scattered planks of that great parliament which employed him in their service, shipwreck, to make a better fisherboat for himor rather indeed to the king and parliament, for self. But when he saw that, by the drowning of whose service (if there had been any faith in the master, (whom he himself treacherously men's vows and protestations) the wars were un- knocked on the head, as he was swimming for dertaken. Merciful God! did the right of this his life) by the flight and dispersion of others,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

land, in the place of the late lord Strafford, I should have yielded obedience, not for the equipage, and the strength, and the guards which he brought with him, but for the commission which he should first have showed me from our common sovereign that sent him; and, if he could have done that from God Almighty, I would have obeyed him too in England; but that he was so far from being able to do, that, on the contrary, read nothing but commands, and even public proclamations, from God Almighty, not to admit him.


"Your second argument is, that he had the same right for his authority, that is the foundation of all others, even the right of conquest. Are we then so unhappy as to be conquered by the person whom we hired at a daily rate, like a labourer, to conquer others for us? Did we furnish him with arms, only to draw and try upon our enemies. (as we, it seems, falsely thought them) and keep them for ever sheathed in the bowels of his friends? Did we fight for liberty against our prince, that we might become slaves to our servant? This is such an impudent pretence, as neither he nor any of his flatterers for him had ever the face to mention. Though it can hardly be spoken or thought of without passion, yet I shall, if you please, argue it more calmly than the case deserves.

« PoprzedniaDalej »