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CHAP. I. Charles, might have given to the republic such a de
gree of security as any government ought to be content with. It must be confessed however on the other side, that if the republican government had suffered the King to escape, it would have been an act of justice and generosity wholly unexampled; and to have granted him even his life, would have been one among the more rare efforts of virtue. The short interval between the deposal and death of princes is become proverbial; and though there may be some few examples on the other side, as far as life is concerned, I doubt whether a single instance can be found, where liberty has been granted to a deposed monarch. Among the modes of destroying persons in such a situation, there can be little doubt but that adopted by Cromwell and his adherents is the least dishonourable. Edward the Second, Richard the Second, Henry the Sixth, Edward the Fifth, had none of them long survived their deposal; but this was the first instance, in our history at least, where, of such an act, it could be truly said, that it was not done in a corner.
As to the second question, whether the advantage to be dsrived from the example was such as to justify an act of such violence, it appears to me to be a complete solution of it to observe, that with respect to England, (and I know not upon what ground we are to set examples for other nations, or in other words, to take the criminal justice of the world into our hands,) it was wholly needless, and therefore unjustifiable, to set one for kings, at a time when it was intended the office of King should be abolished, and consequently, that no person should be in the situation to make it the rule of his conduct. Besides, the miseries attendant upon a deposed monarch, seem to be sufficient to deter any prince, who thinks of consequences, from running the risk of being placed in such
a situation; or, if death be the only evil that can de- CHAP. I. ter him, the fate of former tyrants deposed by their subjects, would by no means encourage him to hope he could avoid even that catastrophe. As far as we can judge from the event, the example was certainly not very effectual, since both the sons of Charles, though having their father's fate before their eyes, yet feared not to violate the liberties of the people even more than he had attempted to do.
If we consider the question of example in a more extended view, and look to the general effect produced upon the minds of men, it cannot be doubted but the opportunity thus given to Charles, to display his firmness and piety, has created more respect for his memory than it could otherwise have obtained. Respect and pity for the sufferer on one hand, and hatred to his enemies on the other, soon produce favour and aversion to their respective causes; and thus even though it should be admitted, (which is doubtful,) that some advantage may have been gained to the cause of liberty, by the terror of the example operating upon the minds of princes, such advantage is far outweighed by the zeal which admiration for virtue, and pity for sufferings, the best passions of the human heart, have excited in favour of the royal cause. It has been thought dangerous to the morals. of mankind, even in fiction and romance, to make us sympathize with characters whose general conduct is blameable ; but how much greater must the effect be, when in real history our feelings are interested in favour of a monarch with whom, to say the least, his subjects were obliged to contend in arms for their liberty? After all, however, notwithstanding what the more reasonable pårt of mankind may think upon this question, it is much to be.doubted whether this singular proceeding has not, as much as any other cir
CHAP. I. cumstance, served to raise the character of the Eng
lish nation in the opinion of Europe in general. He who has read, and still more he who has heard in
conversation, discussions upon this subject, by foSentiments reigners, must have perceived, that, even in the minds
ers of those who condemn the act, the impression made on the act.
by it has been far more that of respect and admiration, than that of disgust and horror. The truth is, that the guilt of the action, that is to say, the taking away the life of the King, is what most men in the place of Cromwell and his associates would have incurred; what there is of splendor and of magnanimity in it, I mean the publicity and solemnity of the act, is what few would be capable of displaying. It is a degrading fact to human nature, that even the sending away of the Duke of Gloucester was an instance of generosity almost unexampled in the history of trans
actions of this nature. Cromwell's From the execution of the King to the death of
Cromwell, the government was, with some variation of-forms, in substance monarchical and absolute, as a government established by a military force will almost invariably be, especially when the exertions of such a force are continued for any length of time. If to this general rule our own age, and a people whom their origin and near relation to us would almost warrant us to call our own nation, have afforded a splendid and perhaps a solitary exception, we must reflect not only, that à character of virtues so happily tempered by one another, and so wholly unalloyed with any vices, as that of Washington, is hardly to be found in the pages of history, but that even Washington himself might not have been able to act his most glorious of all parts, without the existence of circumstances uncommonly favourable, and almost peculiar to the country which was to be the theatre of it. Virtue like his depends
not indeed upon time or place; but although in no CHAP. I. country or time would he have degraded himself into a Pisistratus, or a Cæsar, or a Cromwell, he might have shared the fate of a Cato, or a De Witt; or, like Ludlow and Sidney, have mourned in exile the lost liberties of his country.
With the life of the Protector almost immedi. His Characately ended the government which he had estab-" lished. The great talents of this extraordinary person had supported, during his life, a system condemned equally by reason and by prejudice ; by reason, as wanting freedom; by prejudice, as an usurpation; and it must be confessed to be no mean testimony of his genius, that, notwithstanding the radical defects of such a system, the splendor of his character and exploits render the æra of the Protectorship one of the most brilliant in English history. It is true his conduct in foreign concerns, is set off to advantage, by a comparison of it with that of those who preceded, and who followed him. If he made a mistake in espousing the French interest instead of the Spanish, we should recollect, that in examining this question we must divest our minds entirely of all the considerations which the subsequent relative state of those two empires suggest to us, before we can become impartial judges in it; and at any rate, we must allow his reign, in regard to European concerns, to have been most glorious when contrasted with the pusillanimity of James the First, with the levity of Charles the First, and the mercenary meanness of the two last Princes of the House of Stuart. Upon the whole, the character of Cromwell must ever stand high in the list of those, who raised themselves to supreme power by the force of their genius; and among such, even in respect of moral virtue, it would be found to be one of the least exceptionable, if it had
CHAP. I. not been tainted with that most odious and degrading
of all human vices, Hypocrisy. Indifference The short interval between Cromwell's death and respecting forms of so the Restoration, exhibits the picture of a nation either
so wearied with changes as not to feel, or so subdued by military power as not to dare to show, any care or even preference with regard to the form of their government. All was in the army; and that army, by such a concurrence of fortuitous circumstances as history teaches us not to be surprised at, had fallen into the hands of one, than whom a baser could not be
found in its lowest ranks. Personal courage appears Character of to have been Monk's only virtue; reserve and disMonk,
simulation made up the whole stock of his wisdom. But to this man did the nation look up, ready to receive from his orders the form of government he should choose to prescribe. There is reason to believe, that, from the general bias of the Presbyterians, as well as of the Cavaliers, 'monarchy was the prevalent wish: but it is observable, that although the Parliament was, contrary to the principle upon which it was pretended to be called, composed of many avowed royalists, yet none dared to hint at the restoration of the King, till they had Monk's permission, or rather command, to receive and consider his letters. It is impossible, in reviewing the whole of this transaction, not to remark, that a general who had gained his rank, reputation, and station in the service of a republic, and of what he, as well as others, called, however falsely, the cause of liberty, made no scruple to lay the nation prostrate at the feet of a monarch, without a single provision in favour of that cause; and if the promise of indemnity may seem to argue that there was some attention, at least, paid to the safety of his associates in arms, his subsequent conduct gives reason to suppose, that even this provision was owing to any other cause, rather