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Art. VII-History of the Counter-Revolution in England for the Re-establishment of Popery under Charles II. and James II. By Armaud Carrel. History of the Reign of James II. By the Right Hon. Charles James Fox. London: David Bogue.
THIS Volume belongs to Bogue's European Library, and is inferior to none of its predecessors in value or interest. To ourselves it exceeds most of them, and we shall be glad if our notice of it induce our readers, and especially such as are rising into life, to render themselves more familiar with the period to which it refers. It contains two works, of the latter of which it is not our present intention to speak. Fox's History of James II. is well known. It has been before the public for several years, and although far from realizing the expectations which were founded on the parliamentary reputation of its author, must always occupy a respectable rank in our historical literature. The qualities of Mr. Fox's mind, and the habits of his life, were not adapted to insure success in the line of authorship. The senate was his proper arena, the living voice the instrument with which he wrought his wonders. Yet there are passages in his history which no Englishman will be willing to forget, and the effect of the whole is powerfully conducive to a right appreciation of the actors and events of this most memorable period. 'We feel,' says an able and independent critic, how delightful it is to go through an important and confused scene in the company of such an illuminating mind, and how easily we could surrender ourselves to an almost implicit reliance on its judgments.'* The reprint of this history, contained in the present volume, is restricted to Mr. Fox's own composition, and does not therefore contain Lord Holland's Introduction, or the extended Appendix, which were included in the quarto edition of 1808.
The work of Armand Carrel is new to the English public, and we purpose, therefore, dwelling on it more at length. The period to which it refers is one of the most disgraceful, yet at the same time most instructive, in our history. It should be closely studied by all who wish to understand our national character, or to appreciate the cost at which our liberties have been secured. Its opening scenes are unparalleled in our annals, and cannot be understood without an intimate knowledge of what preceded them. We must be familiar with the times of the Commonwealth and of the Protectorate, in order to comprehend those of the Restoration. The great men of the Long Parliament were before their age. They were born out of due time. Their * Foster's Contributions, vol. i. 152.
views were larger, their patriotism was of a higher order than comported with their generation. Their force of intellect and earnestness of purpose carried for a time their object, and produced an effect which could not, however, be sustained. Men felt their power, and, for a season, superstition, intolerance, and tyranny, quailed before them. But the spirit of their age was not equal to their achievements. They could not raise their contemporaries to their own high standard, and were compelled, in the issue, to lean on the questionable power of the sword for the preservation of public liberty. The national will was, therefore, restraine.l. An artificial and unhealthy character was formed. What was seen did not harmonize with what was thought. Englishmen yet loved the baubles, the glitter, the parade of a court. The austerity of puritanism effaced the memory of its noble deeds, whilst the licence and the glitter which the exiled Stuarts promised, made the nation sigh for the restoration of monarchy. That restoration at length came, and the land groaned beneath the irreligion, debauchery, and despotism which prevailed. Produced by the treachery of Monk, the stolid blindness of the Presbyterians, the heroic but impracticable republicanism of Vane, and the legislative incapacity of Desborough, Fleetwood, and Lambert, it proved worse than an Egyptian plague. It was a long night, black and full of terrors, and when, at length, the day dawned, it was found that the standard of public virtue had been lowered, and the spirit of English liberty lay fettered and helpless at the foot of a corrupt aristocracy. We cannot agree with M. Carrel, that this period has been erroneously regarded as a time of degradation.' We believe that it was so: and less of theory, and more of practical truth, than accord with the French character, would have compelled him to do the same. Men of stature were exchanged for dwarfs, patriots for courtiers, and, after a brief interval, the corrupt and feeble Cabal were substituted for such men as Eliot, Pym, Hampden, Vane, and Cromwell. English liberty needs no other vindication than the contrast which is furnished between its leaders, and the men by whom monarchy encircled itself.
M. Carrel has prefaced his history with an introductory chapter, in which he traces the progress of popular freedom from the establishment of the Norman dynasty. To a foreigner this chapter supplies a useful epitome, but to our countrymen its value will be chiefly limited to its earlier portion. It may be read, however, with advantage, though, as a mere outline, it wants the finish and completeness, which the existing state of our historical literature has prepared us to look for. It is specially faulty in its minuter references to the religious element which was so powerfully operative from
the time of the Reformation. This is a point on which foreigners, and especially the French, seem incapable of comprehending us. It is without the circle of their sympathies, and in its earnestness and absorbing power, presents an enigma which they cannot solve. They perpetually misapprehend it, and in consequence, attribute its phenomena to the most questionable causes. Looking at them through the medium of their own views, they assign them to such motives as could alone have produced them amongst themselves, and therefore fall into the most egregious blunders in their estimates of our character and achievements. It needs a firm faith in revelation, a practical acquaintance with its power, a distinct personal recognition of the overwhelming importance of its truth, in order rightly to appreciate the conduct of men, who, whatever their defects, were solemnly in earnest in all matters pertaining to religion. Something of this kind is discernible throughout the pages of M. Carrel, and there are minute inaccuracies in his statements, discreditable to his research. Thus he speaks of Henry VIII. having been outstripped by sectaries, who, with bible in hand, demanded the abolition of episcopacy,' (p. 11.), whereas, it is well known to every tyro in history that nothing of the sort occurred till the reign of Elizabeth, when Cartwright advocated a presbyterian parity. He speaks, also, of the ecclesiastical dissidents during the reign of Edward VI., as persecuted' under the general name of Nonconformists,' (p. 11.), a designation unknown to our history until after the Restoration. An inaccuracy of a
more serious order occurs on page 31, where a belief in the personal reign of Christ is represented as a distinguishing tenet of the Independents, whose 'absurd ideas' on this point are said to have inspired an unconquerable aversion to royalty. A slight attention to the documentary evidence with which he ought to have been familiar, would have exempted him from so gross a blunder as to confound the Independents with the fifth-monarchy men. But enough of such exceptions. We note them with no unfriendly feeling, and certainly with no desire to disparage the work of M. Carrel. It will bear such criticisms, and is therefore worthy of the labour they involve. We have no disposition, however, to pursue them, and therefore proceed to the more agreeable part of our task.
In two sentences the author has happily expressed the great difficulty with which the popular leaders in the Long Parliament had to contend. They found, he says, 'in the ancient constitution wherewith to overthrow and punish the tyranny of Strafford, but not wherewith to prevent the return of that tyranny. Still attached to royalty, and wishing to preserve episcopacy as its necessary support, they yielded, with regret, to the necessity
of seizing upon all the various powers, the only method, according to their view, of examining, at leisure, which of them could be judiciously left to the crown.' In the case of a more truthful man, this difficulty would not have existed; but Charles had forfeited all title to confidence. His duplicity was notorious, and the remorselessness of his temper had been shewn in the incarceration and death of Sir John Eliot. To the insincerity of his father he added the more active and fearless points of his own character. The hollowness of the king was the true source of his ruin. The men of the parliament could not treat with him as a man whose word was to be believed, and Cromwell and Ireton consented, ultimately, to his trial, when they found him still plotting against their lives. Let this fact be kept in mind, and it goes far to justify the extreme demands against which modern constitutionalists as well as Tory writers are accustomed to protest. In their circumstances, the only safety was so to reduce the king de facto as was incompatible with the king de jure. The condition of England under the protectorate is thus described, and the picture is not overwrought :
Never had England displayed such great resources as under the administration of the handful of obscure citizens who might be regarded as having usurped the state. She paid considerable taxes; supported an army of sixty thousand men, and maintained a powerful fleet. She had seen her fields devastated, her towns ruined, her population devoured by civil war; but since the commencement of this war, she no longer had to supply the profusions of the court, nor the immense revenues of the bishops, nor the pensions of the courtiers, nor the venality of the judges, nor the insolence of lacqueys of every class. The severe morals of the presbyterians, followed by those still more rigid of the Independents, had superseded those of the monarchical society. Frivolous entertainments, feasting, theatres, bull fights, cock fighting, even popular rejoicings, had disappeared. The domains of the crown, the lands of the bishops and chapters, the estates of the nobles, had reverted to the nation, and no individual was the richer for them. The citizens had introduced into the government their habits of order and economy, their probity and their industry. Since the commencement of the war, the devouring plague of idleness had no longer exercised its ravages; every one was employed, either in administering public affairs, or in fighting, or in fabricating arms and cultivating the earth for those who fought. Not only were all the evils of war and fanaticism repaired, but all the indications of a great increase of prosperity manifested themselves.'-pp. 40, 41.
The weak protectorate of Richard, whose nomination by Cromwell was a capital error, paved the way for the Restoration, which was brought about by the base dissimulation and
treachery of Monk. The events immediately preceding it are ably sketched by our author :
The old party of the Stuarts bad greatly profited by the troubles which had followed the death of Cromwell; and pursuing those tactics which in civil discords all parties think themselves authorized in adopting, they secretly excited the agitators, spread the most absuid reports, terrified some and seduced others, spoke of reconciliation, of forgetting the past, and actively corresponded with the sons of Charles I, who had taken refuge at Brussels. Ashley Cooper, a man of profound in morality, and with a suppleness of mind which passed for superiority, was the soul of all these intrigues. During the Revolution he had had the address to keep always on the side of the victorious party, and to preserve immense credit with the nation. Having publicly counselled Cromwell to make himself king, he now pretended that he had only given him this advice in order to destroy him, and that he had only served him in order to be in a position to betray him. As he was in thorough possession of all secrets, and a master of all affairs, the princes thought that his mediation could not be too dearly purchased, and by his care their return was urgently hastened on. When the chiefs of the Presbyterian party had made vain efforts to come to an understanding with the Republicans of the Rump Parliament, Ashley Cooper, and others, who intrigued with him, boldly made overtures to them on the part of the princes. They at the same time made overtures to General Monk, formerly a royalist, and who since the death of Cromwell had been on indifferent terms with Fleetwood, Lambert, and Desborough. Monk had thorough command over his army, and was posted in a country whose disposition in favour of Charles II. had undergone no change, despite the memory of Dunbar and Worcester. The result of a lengthened negotiation was the formation of a royalist and Presbyterian league against the Independents and the army. It was arranged that Monk should march upon London with his troops, and that, in the first instance, the intention announced should be that of re-establishing the Rump parliament, over which Lambert and his friends had usurped the authority. The soldiers whom these gene. rals might have otherwise opposed to Monk, if the true project had been revealed, were deceived by this manœuvre, and preferred abandoning their chiefs and submitting to the parliament, to drawing the sword against their old companions in arms. Those under the command of Lambert even marched against him, and delivered him to the Rump parliament, which was thus re-established without a struggle. From this moment Monk was the real generalissimo of the army. He concealed his projects for yet some time, until he had secured the important posts in London, placed his own men, and distributed those of the other generals in such a manner that, when they found out the deception practised on them, they should not be able either to rally or oppose any great resistance. Then, as if by a concerted signal, there were sent from London and the various counties, addresses to Monk, in which he was called upon as