Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE SAME SUBJECT.

It is asked, why did not the enemies of Charles I. adopt milder measures? Why, after the King had consented to so many reforms, and renounced so many oppressive prerogatives, did the Parliament continue to rise in their demands at the risk of provoking a civil war? The Shipmoney had been given up. The Star-Chamber had been abolished. Provision had been made for the frequent convocation and secure deliberation of Parliaments. Why not pursue an end confessedly good, by peaceable and regular means?

We recur again to the analogy of the Revolution. Why was James driven from the throne? Why was he not retained upon conditions? He too had offered to call a free Parliament, and to submit to its decision all the matters in dispute. Yet we praise our forefathers, who preferred a revolution, a disputed succession, a dynasty of strangers, twenty years of foreign and intestine war, a standing army, and a national debt, to the rule, however restricted, of a tried and proved tyrant.

The Long Parliament acted on the same principle, and is entitled to the same praise. They could not trust the King. He had no doubt passed salutary laws. But what assurance had they that he would not break them? He had renounced oppressive prerogatives. But where was the security that he would not resume them? They had to deal with a man whom no tie could bind, a man who made and broke promises with equal facility, a man whose honour had been a hundred times pawned-and never redeemed,

Here, indeed, the Long Parliament stands on still stronger ground than the Convention of 1688. No action of James can be compared, for wickedness and impudence, to the conduct of Charles with respect to the Petition of Right. The Lords and Commons present him with a bill in which the constitutional limits of his power are marked out. He hesitates; he evades; at last he bargains to give his assent for five subsidies. The bill receives his solemn assent. The subsidies are voted. But, no sooner is the tyrant relieved, than he returns at once to all the arbitrary measures, which he had bound himself to abandon, and violates all the clauses of the very Act, for which he had been paid to pass.

For more than ten years the people had seen the rights, which were theirs by a double claim, by immemorial inheritance and by recent purchase, infringed by the perfidious King who had recognised them. At length they were compelled to choose, whether they would trust a tyrant or conquer him. We think that they chose wisely and nobly. -The advocates of Charles, like the advocates of other malefactors, against whom overwhelming evidence is produced, generally decline all controversy about the facts, and content themselves with calling testimony to character. He had so many private virtues! And had James II. no private virtues? Was even Oliver Cromwell, (his bitterest enemies themselves being judges,) destitute of private virtues?

And what, after all, are the virtues ascribed to Charles? A religious zeal, not more sincere than that of his son, and fully as weak and narrow-minded, and a few of the ordinary household decencies, which half the tomb-stones in England claim for those who lie beneath them. A good father! A good husband !--Ample apologies, indeed, for fifteen years of persecution, tyranny, and falsehood!

We charge him with having broken his coronation oath —and we are told that he kept his marriage vow! We accuse him of having given up his people to the merciless inflictions of the most hot-headed and hard-hearted of prelates -and the defence is, that he took his little son on his knee and kissed him! We censure him for having violated the articles of the Petition of Right, after having, for good and valuable consideration, promised to observe them--and we are informed, that he was accustomed to hear prayers at six o'clock in the morning! It is to such considerations as these, together with his Vandyke dress, his handsome face, and his peaked beard, that he owes, we verily believe, most of his popularity with the present generation.

For ourselves, we own that we do not understand the common phrase, a good man but a bad king. We can as easily conceive a good man and an unnatural father, or a good man and a treacherous friend. We cannot, in estimating the character of an individual, leave out of our consideration his conduct in the most important of all human relations. And if, in that relation, we find him to have been selfish, cruel, and deceitful, we shall take the liberty to call him a bad man, in spite of all his temperance at table, and all his regularity at chapel.

EXTRACT FROM THE MARQUIS OF LANSDOWNE'S SPEECH IN RELA

TION TO PEACE WITH FRANCE.

My lords, what I in particular desire to press upon your consideration is, that you are now called upon to persevere in the contest, without the means which have so frequently been stated as essential to its success. It is for your lordships to stop and inquire, with what wisdom you are now to open this new career. It is not because our sailors have conquered, and because we have most gloriously demonstrated to all the world the character of our natural strength, that therefore we are provided with the means of carrying on an offensive war against France, without the aid of a continental ally.

Our sailors indeed have maintained the glory of our maritime empire; they have shown the true vis animæ of the British marine, which, like the natural strength of a youth in a casual sickness, resists all the blunders of his physicians; but, great and glorious as our naval exploits have been, what can they do for us in such a contest? They make us masters of the sea, indeed, but where shall we land?

We have the seas of Europe, and France has its ports.

It is necessary to the circuit of commerce, that not merely the seas should be open, but the markets. What then is our relative situation? We have ships that traverse and command the ocean; the French have armies that traverse and command the shores. From Paris to Hamburgh on the one side, from Paris tó Lisbon on the other, they occupy, and will occupy, every point of contact with the main land of Europe. A Duncan and a St. Vincent may sweep them from the seas, and achieve for their country and their own names immortal honour; but what will all this avail us towards offensive war? Are we to have new revolutions are we to look to new schemes of descent? are we so little chastised in the school of adversity as yet to cherish the hopes of invasion of France? How are we to do it? Is it by balloons? I have heard of no recent invention, which is honoured with the approbation of the war office, for the conquest of France.

But, my lords, do you yet talk of a counter-revolution, after all the experience that we have had? are you yet weak

enough to cherish this puerile expectation? If you are, I would refer your lordships to a most able pamphlet, written by a late comptroller-general of France. The authority of this writer, speaking contrary to his wishes, ought to have weight. He states admirably well the situation into which you have driven France, and he exposes and ridicules the nonsense, with which we have been so long duped and deluded, about their inability to continue the struggle;—all the nonsense about assignats and mandates, with which my ears have been stunned in this House; for I profess, my lords, that I have frequently gone from this House so stunned and dumb-founded, that I have not been able to return to my repose.

My lords, I am not come here to give my opinion in the spirit of a Frenchman! I am no Frenchman! I am no Jacobin! But, in this most dreadful crisis, if I could suggest any means that might tend to correct the folly of our system, and to check the fatality of our career, I feel it my duty to do so. I know but one means, one chance for safety: I see but one powerful resource left to the nation, and that is a change of Ministers.

DIALOGUE. .

HAMLET AND HORATIO.-Shakspeare.

Horatio. Hail to your lordship!

Hamlet. I am glad to see you well:'
Horatio-or I do forget myself.

Hor. The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
Ham. Sir, my good friend; I 'll change that name

with you.
And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?

Hor. A truant disposition, good my lord.

Ham. I would not hear your enemy say so;
Nor shall you do mine ear that violence,
To make it trustier of your own report
Against yourself. I know, you are no truant.
But what is your affair in Elsinore?
We'll teach you to drink deep, ere you depart.

Hor. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.

Ham. I pray thee do not mock me, fellow student; I think it was to see my mother's wedding.

Hor. Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon. :

Ham. Thrift, thrift, Horatio; the funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven,
Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
My father-methinks I see my father."

Hor. Where, my lord? :
Ham. In my mind's eye, Horatio.
Hor. I saw him once; he was a goodly 'king.

Ham. He was a man, take him for all in all,“
I shall not look upon his like again.

Hor. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
Ham. Saw! who? :
Hor. My lord, the king; your father.
Ham. The king, my father!

Hor. Season your admiration for awhile,
With an attent ear; till I may deliver
This marvel to you.

Ham. For Heaven's love, let me hear.

Hor. Two nights together, had those gentlemen,
Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch,
In the dead waste and middle of the night,
Been thus encountered: a figure, like your father,
Armed at point exactly, cap-à-pie, .. itä
Appears before them, and, with solemn march,
Goes slow and stately by them thrice he walked
By their oppressed and fear-surprised eyes,
Within his truncheon's length; whilst they distilled
Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
Stand dumb, and speak not to him. This to me, '
In dreadful secrecy, impart they did;
And I with them, the third night, kept the watch:
Where, as they had delivered, both in time, ::
Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
The aparition comes. I knew your father;
These hands are not more like.

Ham. But where was this? :
Hor. My lord, upon the platform, where we watched *
Ham. Did you not speak to it?

H. My lord, I did;
But answer made it none. Yet once, methought,
It lifted up its head, and did address

« PreviousContinue »