« EdellinenJatka »
strict constitutional restraints, should venture to assume the regal name and dignity. The sentiments of Cromwell were widely different. He was not what he had been; nor would it be just to consider the change which his views had undergone, as the effect, merely of selfish ambition. When he came up to the Long Parliament, he brought with him from his rural retreat little knowledge of books, no experience of great affairs, and a temper galled by the long tyranny of the government and of the hierarchy. He had, during the thirteen years which followed, gone through a political education of no common kind. He had been a chief actor in a succession of revolutions. He had been long the soul, and at last the head of a party. He had commanded armies, won battles, negotiated treaties, subdued, pacified, and regulated kingdoms. It would have been strange indeed if his notions had been still the same as in the days when his mind was principally occupied by his fields and his religion, and when the greatest events which diversified the course of his life were a cattle fair, or a prayermeeting at Huntingdon. He saw that some schemes of innovation for which he had once been zealous, whether good or bad in themselves, were opposed to the general feeling of the country, and that, if he persevered in those schemes, he had nothing before him but constant troubles, which must be suppressed by the constant use of the sword. He therefore wished to restore, in all essentials, that ancient constitution which the majority of the people had always loved, and for which they now pined. The course afterwards taken by Monk, was not open to Cromwell. The memory of one terrible day separated the great regicide forever from the House of Stuart. What remained was, that he should mount the ancient English throne, and reign according to the ancient English polity. If he could effect this, he might hope that the wounds of the lacerated state should heal fast. Great numbers of homest and quiet men would speedily rally round him. Those royalists whose attachment was rather to institutions than to persons, to the kingly office than to King Charles the First or King Charles the Second, would soon kiss the hand of King Oliver. The peers, who now remained sullenly at their country houses, and refused to take any part in public affairs, would, when summoned to their House by the writ of a king in possession, gladly resume their ancient-functions. North- amberland and Bedford, Manchester and Pembroke, would
be proud to bear the crown and the spurs, the sceptre and the globe, before the restorer of aristocracy. A sentiment of loyalty would gradually bind the people to the new dynasty; and, on the decease of the founder of that dynasty, the royal dignity might descend with general acquiescence to his posterity. * The ablest royalists were of opinion that these views were correct, and that, if Cromwell had been permitted to follow his own judgment, the exiled line would never have been restored. But his plan was directly opposed to the feelings of the only class which he dared not offend. The name of king was hateful to the soldiers. *Some of them were indeed unwilling to see the administration in the hands of any single person. The great majority, however, were disposed to support their general as elective first magistrate of a commonwealth, against all factions which might resist his authority; but they would not consent that he should assume the regal title, or that the dignity, which was the just reward of his personal merit, should be declared hereditary in his family. All that was left to him was, to give to the new republic a constitution as like the constitution of the old monarchy as the army would bear. That his elevation to power might not seem to be his own mere act, he convoked a council, composed partly of persons on whose support he could depend, and partly of persons whose opposition he might safely defy. This assembly, which he called a parliament, and which the populace nicknamed, from one of the most conspicuous members, Barebone's Parliament, after exposing itself, during a short time, to the public contempt, surrendered back to the general the powers which it had received from him, and left him at liberty to frame a plan of government. His plan bore, from the first, a considerable resemblance to the old English constitution; but, in a few years, he thought it safe to proceed further, and to restore almost every part of the ancient system under new names and forms. The title of king was not revived ; but the kingly prerogatives were intrusted to a lord high protector. The sovereign was called, not His Majesty, but His Highness. He was not crowned and anointed in Westminster Abbey, but was solemnly enthroned, girt with a sword of state, clad in a robe of purple, and presented with a rich Bible, in Westminster Hall. His office was not declared hereditary; but he was permitted to name his successor; and mone could doubt that he would name his son. were seated, to which few of the old nobles were invited, at 1 from which almost all those old nobles who were invited turnc d disdainfully away.
: How Oliver's parliaments were constituted, however, was
... practically of little moment; for he possessed the means of conducting the administration without their support, and in defiance of their opposition. His wish seems to have been to govern constitutionally, and to substitute the empire of the laws for that of the sword. But he soon found that, hated as he was both by royalists and Presbyterians, he could be safe only by being absolute. The first House of Commons which the people elected by his command, questioned his authority, and was dissolved without having passed a single act. His second House of Commons, though it recognized him as Pro
tector, and would gladly have made him king, obstinately refused to acknowledge his new lords. He had no course left but to dissolve the parliament. “God,” he exclaimed, at parting, “be judge between you and me!”
Yet was the energy of the Protector's administration in no wise relaxed by these dissensions. Those soldiers who would not suffer him to assume the kingly title stood by him when he ventured on acts of power as high as any English king has ever attempted. The government, therefore, though in form a republic, was in truth a despotism, moderated only by the wisdom, the sobermindedness, and the magnanimity, of the despot. The country was divided into military districts; those districts were placed under the command of Major-Generals. Every insurrectionary movement was promptly put down and punished. The fear inspired by the power of one sword in so strong, steady, and expert a hand, quelled the spirit both of Cavaliers and levellers. The loyal gentry declared that they were still as ready as ever to risk their lives for the old government and the old dynasty, if there were the slightest hope of success; but to rush at the head of their serving men and tenants on the pikes of brigades victorious in a hundred battles and sieges, would be a frantic waste of innocent and honorable blood. Both Royalists and Republicans, having no hope. in open resistance, began to revolve dark schemes of assassination; but the Protector's intelligence was good ; his vigilance was unremitting; and, whenever he moved beyond the walls of his palace, the drawn swords and cuirasses of his trusty body-guards encompassed him thick on every side. Had he been a cruel, licentious, and rapacious prince, the nation might have found courage in despair, and might have made a convulsive effort to free itself from military domination. But the grievances which the country suffered, though such as excited serious discontent, were by no means such as: impel great masses of men to stake their lives, their fortunes, and the welfare of their families, against fearful odds. The taxation, though heavier than it had been under the Stuarts, was not heavy when compared with that of the neighboring states and with the resources of England. Property was secure. Even the Cavalier, who refrained from giving disturbance to the new settlement, enjoyed in peace whatever the civil troubles had left him. The laws were violated only in cases where the safety of the Protector's person and government were concerned. Justice was administered between man and man with an exactness and purity not before known. Under no English government, since the Reformation, had there been so little religious persecution. The unfortunate Roman Catholics, indeed, were held to be scarcely within the pale of Christian charity. But the clergy of the fallen Anglican Church were suffered to celebrate their worship on condition that they would abstain from preaching about politics. Even the Jews, whose public worship had, ever since the thirteenth century, been interdicted, were, in spite of the strong opposition of jealous traders and fanatical theologians, permitted to build a synagogue in London. The Protector's foreign policy at the same time extorted the ingracious approbation of those who most detested him. The Cavaliers could scarcely refrain from wishing that one who had done so much to raise the fame of the nation had been a legitimate king; and the republicans were forced to own that the tyrant suffered none but himself to wrong his country, and that, if he had robbed her of liberty, he had at least given her glory in exchange. After half a century, during which England had been of scarcely more weight in European politics than Venice or Saxony, she at once became the most formidable power in the world, dictated terms of peace to the United Provinces, avenged the common injuries of Christendom on the pirates of Barbary, vanquished the Spaniards by land and sea, seized one of the finest West India islands, and acquired on the Flemish coast a fortress which consoled the national pride for the loss of Calais. She was supreme on the ocean. She was the head of the Protestant interest. All * the reformed churches scattered over Roman Catholic king