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On no period of English history has so much been written, as on that singular age in which this kingdom acknowledged the sway of the Stuarts. Rife with controversies, which still are alive and strong, its every inch of ground contested, as vehemently almost by modern pens, as when the chivalry of England were met by the only army which could meet their high-born courage the godly soldiers of Cromwell--the party feeling of its civil wars exists still among us. But we fight no longer with rapier and dagger; when death is braved, there is always a certain dignity in the warfare ; but in these days we fail upon a safer mode of carrying on the struggle. We are not called upon to measure swords with the fiery Royalist, or the stern Ironside : so we betake ourselves to more ignoble weapons, which they did not at all times scorn to use-We call names.
And whereas the Royalist forces had decidedly the advantage of their graver antagonists in the use of these offensive weapons, it is perfectly natural, and in keeping, that this superiority should continue ; and that as we find the hosts of epithets applied to the rulers of the Commonwealth and their followers, with all the accumulation of adjectives naturally conjoined to these, met only by the one stern word “malignant,” so by legitimate succession, the inheritors of Royalist opinions bring out the old projectiles still in all their original abundance, while those who represent the Roundheads, and fanatics of those days, not choosing to retain their own epithet of reproach, find little in the ancestral armory to meet these arrows withal. The more pacific mode is, perhaps, in this case the better policy, for there is little profit, and less honor, in maintaining a war of retaliation.
The Cavaliers ! they have retained as advocates and special pleaders, the most gifted of modern writers; high birth, high courage, and the still more potent spell of misfortune has thrown magic over their names. Let us say no evil of the dead
"The knights are dust
We will call them no names; but their honor stands in no need of vindication; they have had ample justice done them. Let the generous world look gently on another
picture, and say to whom belongs the purest renown of chivalry :-to those who fighting for their King's crown, fought also for their own inheritance, and for the dazzling chance of greater rank and riches; or to those, who, following the banners of a higher King, encountered poverty, reproach, and hardship for the sake of One who offered them no tangible reward, nor any visible glory on this side death.
When the reign of Charles II. began, the Church of England, with a fate which seems to pursue her like her shadow, contained within her ample breast the greatest variety of opinions. The High Church clergy were at the head of the greater bulk, which softened down, as it does still, into the indifferent mass who take color and fashion from the times; and on the opposite side were a body of Presbyterians, who, during the reign of the Commonwealth, had been able to set up their peculiar ecclesiastical organization, and to rule themselves in tolerable quietness. A floating background of individuals holding other views, Independents and Baptists, completed the tale; and, singular enough, when we leave the political histories of the time, and come to the story of these separate men, we find a strange amount of good-will and gentleness subsisting among the differing divines. The very noticeable national features
the individuality or sectarianism--for the words come to be nearly identical-which set these men afloat, each on his several voyage, can not fail forcibly to strike any one who studies the history of this great Church in England. A careful student, we should almost fancy, must find himself compelled to conclude, that there is wisdom in the latitude which leaves so wide a space between the "high" and the “low” of English churchmanship, and gives the genius of the people so much room to develop itself, while still within the consecrated bounds.
On the other side of the Border we find divisions enough. Churches separate from each other, and bearing separate names; but all cling with like tenacity to the same standards, the same forms, the same doctrine, and the same discipline. There is nothing in which the national characteristics are more clearly displayed. The intense Scottish mind moves on strongly in one direction--unanimous in all the greater points--aiming always when it marches to march as a nation. The English mind asserts its individuality, and strikes out alone, breaking into sections even in the one Church which professes to be undivided ; and out of that pale, in the freer regions of Dissent, multiplying in constant diversity.
It was thus with the church when the Restoration
intoxicated the kingdoms with its brief joy. Among the best friends of Charles were the Presbyterians. The death of his father had shocked and horrified them, and none had shown themselves more eager to celebrate his return. Holding London as their stronghold, they were scattered in very considerable numbers throughout the whole country, were held in much esteem by the people, and dwelt quietly among their brethren, holding their diverse views in peace and charity, protected, as they thought, by the royal proclamation, and strong in the King's promise of religious liberty to all.
Their dream of safety was destined to have but a short existence. Two years after the memorable Restoration, the Act of Uniformity expelled from the Church two thousand of her most exemplary clergymen; not bigots-not fanatics-not the bold, strong, uncompromising men, who in Scotland denounced their successors as hirelings, and proclaimed themselves lawful pastors still of the parishes from which they had been driven. The English Nonconformists did not so; meekly they laid down their arms, uncomplainingly withdrew themselves, with their last words bidding their parishioners receive in all honor and respect those appointed to succeed them, and retaliating no otherwise than by quiet good works, and an occasional sigh or lament, upon their persecutors.
One almost marvels at the romance of conscientiousness