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c HAPTER 11.
THE history of England, during the seventeenth century, is the history of the transformation of a limited monarchy, constituted after the fashion of the middle ages, into a limited monarchy suited to that more advanced state of society in which the public charges can no longer be borne by the estates of the crown, and in which the public defence can no longer be intrusted to a feudal militia. We have seen that the politicians who were at the head of the Long Parliament made, in 1642, a great effort to accomplish this change by transferring, directly and formally, to the Estates of the realm the choice of ministers, the command of the army, and the superintendence of the whole executive administration. This scheme was, perhaps, the best that could then be contrived; but it was completely disconcerted by the course which the civil war took. The Houses triumphed, it is true; but not till after such a struggle as made it necessary for them to call into existence a power which they could not control, and which soon began to domineer over all orders and all parties. For a time, the evils inseparable from military government ` were, in some degree, mitigated by the wisdom and magnanimity of the great man who held the supreme command. But, when the sword which he had wielded, with energy indeed, but with energy always guided by good sense, and generally tempered by good nature, had passed to captains who possessed neither his abilities nor his virtues, it seemed too probable that order and liberty would perish in one ignominious ruln.
That ruin was happily averted. It has been too much the practice of writers zealous for freedom to represent the Res
toration as a disastrous event, and to condemn the folly or
baseness of that Convention which recalled the royal family without exacting new securities against maladministration. Those who hold this language do not comprehend the real nature of the crisis which followed the deposition of Richard Cromwell. England was in imminent danger of sinking under the tyranny of a succession of small men raised up
and pulled-down by military caprice. To deliver the country from the domination of the soldiers was the first object of every enlightened patriot; but it was an object which, while the soldiers were united, the most sanguine could scarcely expect to attain. On a sudden a gleam of hope appeared. General was opposed to general, army to army. On the use which might be made of one auspicious moment depended the future destiny of the nation. Our ancestors used that moment well. They forgot old injuries, waved petty scruples, adjourned to a more convenient season all dispute about the reforms which our institutions needed, and stood together, Cavaliers and Roundheads, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, in firm union, for the old laws of the land against military despotism. The exact partition of power among king, lords, and commons, might well be postponed till it had been decided whether England should be governed by king, lords, and commons, or by cuirassiers and pikemen. Had the statesmen of the Convention taken a different course, had they held long debates on the principles of government, had they drawn up a new constitution and sent it to Charles, had conferences been opened, had couriers been passing and repassing during some weeks between Westminster and the Netherlands, with projects and counterprojects, replies by Hyde and rejoinders by Prynne, the coalition on which the public safety depended would have been dissolved; the Presbyterians and Royalists would certainly have quarrelled; the military factions might possibly have been reconciled; and the misjudging friends of liberty might long have regretted, under a rule worse than that of the worst Stuart, the golden opportunity which had been suffered to escape. The old civil polity was, therefore, by the general consent of both the great parties, reëstablished. It was again exactly what it had been when Charles the First, eighteen years before, withdrew from his capital. All those acts of the Long Parliament which had received the royal assent were admitted to be still in full force. One fresh concession, a concession in which the Cavaliers were even more deeply interested than the Roundheads, was easily obtained from the restored king. The military tenure of land had been originally created as a means of national defence. But in the course of ages whatever was useful in the institution had disappeared ; and mothing was left but ceremonies and grievances. A landed proprietor who held an estate under the crown by knight service,
and it was thus that most of the soil of England was held,— had to pay a large fine on coming to his property. He could not alienate one acre without purchasing a license. When he died, if his domains descended to an infant, the sovereign was guardian, and was not only entitled to great part of the rents during the minority, but could require the ward, under heavy penalties, to marry any person of suitable rank. The chief bait which attracted a needy sycophant to the court was the hope of obtaining, as the reward of servility and flattery, a royal letter to an heiress. These abuses had perished with the monarchy. That they should not revive with it was the wish of every landed gentleman in the kingdom. They were, therefore, solemnly abolished by statute; and no relic of the ancient tenures in chivalry was suffered to remain, except those honorary services which are still, at a coronation, rendeled to the person of the sovereign by some lords of manors. The troops were now to be disbanded. Fifty thousand men, accustomed to the profession of arms, were at once thrown on the world; and experience seemed to warrant the belief that this change would produce much misery and crime, that the discharged veterans would be seen begging in every street, or would be driven by hunger to pillage. But no such result followed. In a few months there remained not a trace indicating that the most formidable army in the world had just been absorbed into the mass of the community. The royalists themselves confessed that, in every department of honest illdustry, the discarded warriors prospered beyond other men, that none was charged with any theft or robbery, that none was heard to ask an alms, and that, if a baker, a mason, or a wagoner, attracted notice by his diligence and sobriety, he was in all probability one of Oliver's old soldiers. The military tyranny had passed away; but it had left deep and enduring traces in the public mind. The name 'of a standing army was long held in abhorrence; and it is remarkable that this feeling was even stronger among the Cavaliers than among the Roundheads. It ought to be considered as a most fortunate circumstance that, when our country was, for the first and last time, ruled by the sword, the sword was in the hands, not of her legitimate princes, but of those rebels who slew the king and demolished the Church. Had a prince, with a title as good as that of Charles, commanded an army as good as that of Cromwell, there would have been little hope indeed for the liberties of England. Happily that instrument by which alone the monarchy could be made absolute became an object of peculiar horror and disgust to the monarchical party, and long continued to be inseparably associated in the imagination of royalists and prelatists with regicide and field preaching. A century after the death of Cromwell, the Tories still continued to clamor against every augmentation of the regular soldiery, and to sound the praise of a national militia. So late as the year 1786, a minister who enjoyed no common measure of their confidence found it impossible to overcome their aversion to his scheme of fortifying the coast; nor did they ever look with entire complacency on the standing army, till the French Revolution gave a new direction to their apprehensions.
The coalition which had restored the king terminated with the danger from which it had sprung; and two hostile parties again appeared ready for conflict. Both indeed were agreed as to the propriety of inflicting punishment on some unhappy men who were, at that moment, objects of almost universal hatred. Cromwell was no more ; and those who had fled before him were forced to content themselves with the miserable satisfaction of digging up, hanging, quartering, and burning the remains of the greatest prince that has ever ruled England. Other objects of vengeance, few indeed, yet too many, were found among the republican chiefs. Soon, however, the conquerors, glutted with the blood of the regicides, turned against each other. The Roundheads, while admitting the virtues of the late king, and while condemning the sentence passed upon him by an illegal tribunal, yet maintained that his administration had been, in many things, unconstitutional, and that the Houses had taken arms against him from good motives and on strong grounds. The monarchy, these politicians conceived, had no worse enemy than the flatterer who exalted the prerogative above the law, who condemned all opposition to regal encroachments, and who reviled, not only Cromwell and Harrison, but Pym and Hampden, as traitors. If the king wished for a quiet and prosperous reign, he must confide in those who, though they had drawn the sword in defence of the invaded privileges of parliament, had yet exposed them. selves to the rage of the soldiers in order to save his father, and had taken the chief part in bringing back the royal family. o
VOL. I. 11
The feeling of the Cavaliers was widely different. Dure's eighteen years they had, through all vicissitudes, been faithful to the crown. Having shared the distress of their prince were they not to share his triumph 2 Was no distinction to be made between them and the disloyal subject who had fought against his rightful sovereign, who had adhered to Richard Cromwell, and who had never concurred in the restoration of the Stuarts, till it appeared that nothing else could save the nation from the tyranny of the army Grant that such a man had, by his recent services, fairly earned his pardon. Yet were his services, rendered at the eleventh hour, to be put in comparison with the toils and sufferings of those who had borne the burden and heat of the day 2 Was he to be ranked with men who had no need of the royal clemency, with men who had, in every part of their lives, merited the royal gratitude 2 Above all, was he to be suffered to retain a fortune raised out of the substance of the ruined defenders of the throne Was it not enough that his head and his patrimonial estate, a hundred times forfeited to justice, were secure, and that he shared, with the rest of the nation, in the blessings of that mild government of which he had long been the foe 2 Was it necessary that he should be rewarded for his treason at the expense of men whose only crime was the fidelity with which they had observed their oath of allegiance 2 And what interest had the king in gorging his old enemies with prey torn from his old friends 2 What confidence could be placed in men who had opposed their sovereign, made war on him, imprisoned him, and who, even now, instead of hanging down their heads in shame and contrition, vindicated all that they had done, and seemed to think that they had given an illustrious proof of loyalty by just stopping short of regicide 2 It was true that they had lately assisted to set up the throne; but it was not less true that they had previously pulled it down, and that they still avowed principles which might impel them to pull it down again. Undoubtedly it might be fit that marks of royal approbation should be bestowed on some converts who had been eminently useful; but policy, as well as justice and gratitude, enjoined the king to give the highest place in his regard to those who, from first to last, through good and evil, had stood by his house. On these grounds the Cavaliers very naturally demanded indemnity for all that they had suffered, and preference in the distribution of the favors of the crown. Some violent members of the