Obrazy na stronie

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,

'T is 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 sent 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 l 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:

Curs'd be the man (what do I wish? as though

The wretch already were not so;
But curs'd on let him be) who thinks it brave

And great his countrey * to enslave;

Who seeks to overpoise alone

The balance of a nation;

Against the whole but naked state, Who in his own light scale makes up with arms the weight:

Who of his nation loves to be the first,

Though at the rate of being worst;
Who would be rather a great monster, than

A well-proportioned man.

Countrey.] This word, in the sense of patria, or as including in it the idea of a civil constitution, is always spelt by Mr. Cowley, I observe, with an e before y,—couatiey ;—in the tense of rus, without an e,—country; and this distinction, for the take of perspicuity, njay be worth preserving. Hum.

The son of earth with hundred hands Upon his three-pil'd mountain stands, Till thunder strikes him from the sky; The son of earth again in his earth's womb does lie.

What blood, confusion, ruin, to obtain

A short and miserable reign!
In what oblique and humble creeping wise

Does the mischievous serpent rise!

But even his forked tongue strikes dead:

When he has rear'd up his wicked head,

He murders with his mortal frown;
A basilisk he grows, if once he get a crown.

Bui no guards can oppose assaulting fears,

Or undermining tears, No more than doors or close-drawn curtains keep

The swarming dreams out, when we sleep.

That bloody conscience, too, of his

(For, oh, a rebel red-coat't is)

Does here his early hell begin; He sees his slaves without, his tyrant feels within.

Let, gracious God! let never more thine hand

Lift up this rod against our land! A tyrant is a rod and serpent too,

And brings worse plagues than Egypt knew.

What rivers stain'd with blood have been!

What storm and hail-shot have we seen!

What sores deform'd the ulcerous state! What darkness to be felt has buried us of late!

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;

Coine 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, Wegriev'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.

« PoprzedniaDalej »