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In the prosecution of the attempt contained in the following pages, it has been the general aim of the Writer to illustrate some of those portions of the history of Great Britain which are most worthy of being engraven on the heart and memories of her citizens : to essay the elucidation of a class of particulars, which appear to be peculiarly important in studying the progress of the British Constitution; but which are almost buried under the rubbish of mistake and misrepresentation : and to put the whole subject into as pleasing a dress as he had it in his power to supply;, and thus attain the great end of all literary endeavour-practical utility.
Although it is to be expected, not only that the sentiments promulgated should be somewhat tinged with the appropriate character of the speakers, and that an author should be allowed a certain indulgence in the estimate of his hero; yet, it would be a treatment too unceremonious of the prejudices even of good men, were the following lines allowed to creep into the world without some serious vindication of the view which is there taken of the character of OLIVER CROMWELL. And it is proper to admit, on the threshold, that his life is here estimated more favourably than has hitherto been the
allotment of the most friendly author : although the learned reader will be aware, that the opinion of the public has undergone a partial change of late years, and become unwontedly propitious on this subject. The longer we recede from the perplexity of the times in which this extraordinary man lived, so, proportionally, has the general persuasion concerning him become less inexorable; and, in surveying some portions of his history, the world has at length vouchsafed to wear an aspect almost kindly, and relax into an indulgent smile.
Being somewhat aware of the delicacy of entering upon a subject like this, which has in it the seeds of principles, of which the discussion is calculated to agitate the minds of all parties in the State; it will be in vain for me to plead that I hold sentiments either on that side of national politics which some designate as patriotic, or on that which others consider as the most safe: for my readers, if I have any, will probably determine this point for me.
This much I may admit, that radicalism I dislike, to say the least, in all its branches : at the same time, I have long thought that many who concur with me generally in political views, have erred widely in representing the Cromwells and Hampdens of Charles' days, as of one spirit with the levellers of present times. For it appears manifest that there is a common tendency to confound these extremely different classes in a uniform proscription.
The youth of Great Britain are for the most part taught this salutary lesson, to regard with horror the principles some time ago imported from France; and to look with a little jealousy upon the schemes of those who are prone to consider all innovation as improvement. Upon this footing they are initiated into the history of their country. But in the imprudent delivery of the task, Hume and Clarendon alone are put into their hands; and they are desired to eye with a becoming indignation and ferocity, those wretched hypocrites who withstood the Charleses and the penal acts: when it may be, in a tissue of historical sophistry, the naked truth breaking forth, the young disciple not only begins secretly to suspect that Hampden was not so “mischievous" as he is represented by Clarendon ; but feels an inclination to follow with complacency the footsteps of the Protector in the crusade against ecclesiastical tyranny: and becomes quickened and allured with those parts of Hume's narrative, where at Marston Moor or Naseby, “ the choice troops of the Parliament are conducted to victory, ioured to danger under that determined leader, animated by zeal, and confirmed by the most rigid discipline."
Thus are the youth led to a suspicion of their instructors: and if they chance, in maturer age, to look into Neal's History, or some original Memoir on the Parliament side, being but ill prepared for its reception, by