« PoprzedniaDalej »
from being a sign of manly courage (which dares not transgress the rules of any other virtue), that it is only a demonstration of brutish madness or diabolical possession. In both which last cases there use frequent examples to appear of such extraordinary force as may justly seem more wonderful and astonishing than the actions of Cromwell; neither is it stranger to believe that a whole nation should not be able to govern him and a mad army, than that five or six men should not be strong enough to bind a distracted girl. There is no man ever succeeds in one wickedness, but it gives him the boldness to attempt a greater. It was boldly done of Nero to kill his mother, and all the chief nobility of the empire; it was boldly done, to set the metropolis of the whole world on fire, and undauntedly play upon his harp whilst he saw it burning. I could reckon up five hundred boldnesses of that great person (for why should not he, too, be called so ?), who wanted, when he was to die, that courage which could hardly have failed any woman in the like necessity,
"It would look (I must confess) like envy, or too much partiality, if I should say that personal kind of courage had been deficient in the man we speak of; I am confident it was not: and yet I may venture, I think, to affirm, that no man ever bore the honour of so many victories, at the rate of fewer wounds and dangers of his own body; and though his valour might perhaps have given him a just pretension to one of the first charges in an army, it could not certainly be a sufficient ground for a title to the command of three nations.
"What then shall we say f that he did all this by witchcraft? He did so, indeed, in a great measure, by a sin that is called like it in the Scriptures. But, truly and unpassionately reflecting upon the advantages of his person, which might be thought to have produced those of his fortune, I can espy no other but extraordinary diligence and infinite dissimulation; and believe he was exalted above his nation, partly by his own faults, but chiefly for ours.
"We have brought him thus briefly (not through all his labyrinths) to the supreme usurped authority; and because you say it was great pity he did not live to command more kingdoms, be pleased to let me represent to you, in a few words, how well I conceive he governed these. And we will divide the consideration into that of his foreign and domestick actions. The first of his foreign, was a peace with our brethren of Holland (who were the first of our neighbours that God chastised for having had so great a hand in the encouraging and abetting our troubles at home): who would not imagine at first glimpse that this had been the most virtuous and laudable deed, that his whole life could have made any parade of? But no man can look upon all the circumstances, without perceiving, that it was purely the sale and sacrificing of the greatest advantages
that this country could ever hope, and was ready to reap, from a foreign war, to the private interests of his covetousness and ambition, and the security of his new and unsettled usurpation. No sooner is that danger past, but this Beatus Pacificus is kindling a fire in the northern world, and carrying a war two thousand miles off westwards. TWo millions a-year (besides all the vails of his protectorship) is as little capable to suffice now either his avarice or prodigality, as the two hundred pounds were, that he was born to. He must have his prey of the whole Indies both by sea and land, this great alligator. To satisfy our Anti-Solomon (who has made silver almost as rare as gold, and gold as precious stones in his new Jerusalem) we must go, ten thousand of his slaves, to fetch him riches from his fantastical Ophir. And, because his flatterers brag of him as the most fortunate prince (the Faustus, as well as Sylla, of our nation, whom God never forsook in any of his undertakings), I desire them to consider, how, since the English name was ever heard of, it never received so great and so infamous a blow as under the imprudent conduct of this unlucky Faustus : and herein let me admire the justice of God in this circumstance, that they who had enslaved their country (though a great army, which I wish may be observed by ours with trembling) should be so shamefully defeated by the hands of forty slaves. It was very ridiculous to see how prettily they en-, deavoured to hide this ignominy under the great
name of the conquest of Jamaica; as if a defeated army should have the impudence to brag afterwards of the victory, because, though they had fled out of the field of battle, yet they quartered that night in a village of the enemies. The war with Spain was a necessary consequence of this folly; and how much we have gotten by it, let the custom-house and exchange inform you; and, if he please to boast of the taking a part of the silver fleet (which indeed nobody else but he, who was the sole gainer, has cause to do), at least, let him give leave to the rest of the nation (which is the only loser) to complain of the loss of twelve hundred of her ships.
"But because it may here perhaps be answered, that his successes nearer home have extinguished the disgrace of so remote miscarriages, and that, Dunkirk ought more to be remembered for his glory, than' St. Domingo for his disadvantage; I must confess, as to the honour of the English courage, that they were not wanting upon that occasion (excepting only the fault of serving at least indirectly against their master), to the upholding of the renown of their warlike ancestors. But for his particular share of it, who sate still at home, and exposed them so frankly abroad, I can only say, that, for less money than he in the short time of his reign exacted from his fellow-subjects, some of our former princes (with the daily hazard of their own persons) have added to the dominion of England,
not only one town, but even a greater kingdom than itself. And this being all considerable as concerning his enterprises abroad, let us examine, in the next place, how much we owe him for his justice and good government at home.
"And, first, he found the commonwealth (as they then called it) in a ready stock of about 800,000 pounds; he left the commonwealth (as he had the impudent raillery still to call it) some two millions and an half in debt. He found our trade very much decayed indeed, in comparison of the golden times of our late princes; he left it as much again more decayed than he found it: and yet not only no prince in England, but no tyrant in the world, ever sought out more base or infamous means to raise monies. I shall only instance in one that he put in practice, and another that he attempted, but was frighted from the execution (even he) by the infamy of it. That which he put in practice was decimation * ; which was the most impudent breach of all public faith that the whole nation had given, and all private capitulations which himself had made, as the nation's general and servant, that can be found out (I believe) in all history, from any of the most barbarous generals of the most barbarous people. Which, because it has been most excel
* By decimation, is here meant, not the putting to death of every tenth man (which is the usual sense of this term), but the levying of the tenth penny on the estates of the Royalists. The word is so used by sii John Denham. Hv&D.