« ElőzőTovább »
The judgement pronounced by Mr. Fox on the condemnation and execution of Charles I, that it was both unjust and impolitic, was accompanied by some qualifying observations. He said this proceeding was a far less violent measure than that against Lord Strafford,--that there was a certain magnanimity in the publicity of it, which contrasted, favourably for Cromwell and his adherents, with the private assassinations by which deposed princes have generally been taken off, and that, 'notwithstanding what the more reasonable part of mankind may think upon the question,' this singular proceeding has served to raise the character of the English nation in the opinion of Europe in general :' the impression made by it on the minds of foreigners, even those that condemn the act, having been far more that of respect and admiration than that of disgust and horror.' In these observations, Mr. Rose found great cause for censure, and even for astonishment.' That which is to be condemned in the proceedings against Strafford, he says, consisted only in a "breach or abuse of a constitutional law;' while those against Charles involved a 5 total departure from, or overturning of, the constitution itself.' The publicity and solemnity of the proceedings against the King, he says, could not be any alleviation of his misery, nor could on any conceivable ground inspire foreigners with respect. And he asks, If the publicity of the proceeding in the case of Charles deserves so much applause for magnanimity, how would Mr. Fox have found language sufficiently commendatory to express his admiration of the magnanimity of those who brought Louis the XVI. to an open trial.'
With respect to the comparison between the cases of the King and Strafford, the Vindicator insists, in the first place, (not, we think, with his usual simplicity and evidence,) that the Historian meant a comparison, not between the respective degrees of essential injustice in the two cases, but between the cases viewed in that light, in which the wrong in the mode of proceeding against delinquents is distinguished from the excess of the punishment over the demerit. It may well be doubted whether this distinction was in Mr. Fox's contemplation. But in the next place, the Vindicator observes, unanswerably, that as to overturning the constitution, there was no such thing to overturn, the state of things having previously dissolved it: he might have said the King himself had abolished it,-unless it was such a kind of thing as could consist with the monarch's systematic measures for rendering himself absolute. To the charge of extenuating the injustice by ascribing magnanimity to the publicity of the proceeding, it is replied, that it was with this fact of the publicity before him that Mr. Fox did, notwithstanding, condemn the prosecution and execution of the King, and clearly did not, in adverting to it, intend to represent the proceeding as less unjust: that, however, there is from the principles of our nature, and without our leave, i something more horrid in the dark management of a secret assassination than in a public sentence and execution, even when unjust-and that Charles did himself express an extreme apprebension and horror of the former: that, as contrasted with this treacherons and silent expedient usually resorted to by the deposers of monarchs, there was a degree of magnanimity in conducting the whole proceedings in view of the whole world : that even Hume has expressed himself, in still stronger terms to the same effect : and that as to the admiration of foreigners, Mr. Fox asserts it simply as a matter of fact, which no man had ampler means of knowing, but as to which he also appeals to all who have read their books and extensively conversed with them.
The allusion to Louis XVI. calls forth a zealous and prolonged exertion of the Vindicator, giving him at the same time all the advantage of an assailant. He considers the expressions as not only equivalent to an assertion that, on the principles implied in the observations on the case of Charles, Mr. Fox might consistently express the utmust admiration of the proceedings against the King of France, but as directly importing that he actually would have expressed such a sentiment had he spoken on the subject. Mr. Heywood suggests several grounds on which the injustice against Charles might admit of an extenuation, of which that against Louis did not. But not resting any thing on this mode of defence, he goes to the plain fact--that Mr. Fox did repeatedly, in the most explicit and feeling manner, express abhorrence of the injustice and inhumanity committed in the trial and death of the French King; and formal citations, emphatically expressing this judgement on the case, are brought from several of his speeches in Parliament, some or all of which Mr. Rose must actually have heard. The defence in this part has a tone of indignation to which the Vindicator is very rarely excited, and it is concluded thus :
If Mr. Rose should be brought to the remembrance that Mr. Fox did, with great anxiety and feeling, declare his abhorrence, more than once, of the proceedings against Louis the Sixteenth, will he think it a sufficient apology for such a groundless attack, that he wrote his observations carelessly, and in haste, and that he did not recollect the circum in stance? And what then becomes of his boasted claim to accuracy ?'
The character of Monk, in the estimate of which Mr. Fox is charged with having exercised a severity neither supported * by popular belief, nor by the authority of history,' is next
brought under discussion. It is prosecuted to a very great length, with eminent proofs of research and acuteness, and will put an end, we should think, to all serious dispute on the subject. He begins with a pointed reproof to the writer of the Observations, for invidiously seeking and making occasions of fixing on Mr. Fox the imputation of such a partiality to republicanism, as incapacitaied him for a just representation of the events and characters of the period he had chosen. Mr. Fox's plainest expressions are shewn to be gross.. ly misquoted, for this purpose. Nor can be do the mere his.. torical justice of placing Cromwell's character in a fairer light than that of Monk, without drawing on himself such a comment as this : “It will require a great partiality for a republican form of government, to account for this predilection in favour of the destroyer of monarchy, and this prejudice against the restorer of it; -an imputation the convenient operation of which, as affecting the character of an author and his book, in these times, so far as it is believed, Mr. Rose understood perfectly well. Commend him, however, to the Serjeant.
• Mr. Rose here exhibits the same childish partiality for Kings which had been reprobated by Mr. Fox in the writings of Mr. Hume. According to him, the meanest of mankind, if a restorer of monarchy, is to be preferred to the possessor of the greatest mind and talents, if a destroyer of it. Mr. Fox thought more philosophically; he felt neither predilection for the one, nor prejudice against the otber, but, according to the best of his judgement, gave an impartial character of both. If Monk was a base and worthless character, it was giving go opinion of the cause in which he was engaged, to say so; and if Cromwell was a man of a superior class, it was the duty of a historian not to withhold his proper meed of praise.'
The charges made by Mr. Fox against Monk are three :
• In the first place, he reproaches him with having restored the moparch without a single provision in favour of the cause wbich he and others had called the cause of liberty. Mr. Rose at first endeavours to defend this omission by a series of hypothetical arguments, which, by their extreme weakness, afford a convincing proof of the truth of the observation he is combating. He argues first, that though this conduct might be regretted, yet it must be recollected, that there could hardly have been time to settle the boundaries of the regal power; and secondly, that Monk might have been of opinion, that the restoration of the monarchy would have implied all the limitations of its ancient constitution; but what these limitations were, or where to be sought for, Mr. Rose has not informed us. Certainly not in the history of the reigns of the two preceding princes of the house of Stuart; and surely Monk cannot be supposed like Mr. Rose, who has lived the greatest part of his life among records, to have formed any opinion of the limitations which existed du. ring the time of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Thirdly, that Monk might have thought any delay would have been dangerous. Fourthlys
that he might have been less anxious in this respect, from his having been witness of the abuse of liberty. And afterwards Mr. Rose gives what he supposes to be two additional reasons, but which are in fact included in the foregoing ones, viz. that Monk might hav- been so disgusted with the scenes he had been witness to, as to be willing to gives his assistance to bring about any change likely to restore order ; and that he might liave been alarmed lest the army should not have co-operated in his de. signs.' " That Monk might have defended himself by these arguments, is certainly within the sphere of possibility, but is highly improbable. He had complete power over the army ; it was governed by his creatures, and was subservient to his will. If he had proposed that the crown under certain restrictions, should be offered to the King, there was no existing power to oppose it.'
The infamy of Monk is consummated by the last charge, if just, which the Historian makes against him, of having, at the trial of the Marquis of Argyle, produced letters of friendship and confidence to take away the life of a nobleman, the zeal and cordiality of whose co-operation with him, proved by such documents, was the chief ground of bis execution. Mr. Rose observes, that this charge rests on the authority of Bishop Burnet; and then relates the history of a most prodigious research made by himself into all manner of documents and me. morials, the result of which is, he says, that it is hardly possible to conceive that stronger evidence could be found in any case to establish a negative than is here produced to prove the falsehood of the Bishop's charge.' In a very long and argumentative examination of the question, Mr. Heywood has shewn that other authorities support the Bishop in this charge, though it is insisted that his testimony alone would be of great weight. But a coinciding deposition is made by two good evidences, Baillie and Cunningham, the former of whom was contemporary with the event, and writes in a manner that proves him to have been very attentive to its circumstances, and interested in it: the other though he lived after it, was intimate with the Argyle family, and in a situation to obtain the best information on the subject. Baillie says, "When his ' (the Marquis's) libelled crimes appeared not unpar tonable, ' and his son Lord Neil went up to see his brother Lorne at ' London, and spake somewhat liberally of his father's satis' factory answers, Monk wus moved to send down four or five of ' his letters to himself, and others proving his full compliance ' with them, that the King should not reprieve him.' Canningham says, Argyle, conceiving hopes of safety, set out ' for London, and came to court to cast himself upon the " King's clemency. But, through the interference of Monk, ' with whom he had held a long and intimate friendship in • the time of Oliver, he was presently committed to custody,
and sent back for his trial in Scotland. He endeavoured to
• make his defence, but, chiefly by the discoveries of Monk, • was condemned of high treason and lost his head.'--It is an extremely curious circumstance that Mr. Rose did not take the trouble to look into these authors, even after he had read Mr. Laing's reference to them as corroborating the testimony of Burnet. To complete the force of this combination of testimony, the Vindicator proves, by a copious and clear induction, that the situations and employments of Monk and Argyle, in Cromwell's time, were such that it was almost impossible but there must have been confidential epistolary communications between them; and then brings such evidence of baseness in Monk's conduct, after the Restoration, towards other of his recent friends and coadjutors, as to authorize a belief, even on much lighter proof than that adduced, of the particular instance of villainy imputed by Mr. Fox.It is proper to notice, that an additional, and absolutely decisive proof*, has been supplied by a periodical work in commenting on Mr. Heywood's book. ;
The Serjeant next traverses, very minutely, Mr. Rose's statements and reasonings relative to the point of time proper to be fixed on, as that at which our constitution had attained its greatest theoretical perfection. Such a point (aud it was the year 1679, had been named by Judge Blackstone. Mr. Fox named it after him; accepting this precise selection, for the purpose of making a reflection on the inefficacy of good Jaws in the hands of bad administrators, rather than adopting it as any expression of his own deliberate opinion as to the period of theoretical perfection. Our author, however, takes. one by one, those several laws which the Judge and Mr. Fox had specified as constituting the excellence to which the constitution had attained at the period mentioned, and defends, quite successfully in some of the instances, the approbation with which the Historian had marked them.
Mr. Rose contends, also, that the blame of restoring the King without restrictions on his power is not to rest on Monk alone: for, that the King was thus unconditionally recalled by a Parlia. ment freely chosen by the people of England : that the nation was eager for this event, even on these terms,-insomuch that the interest which might be supposed to be created agaiust any restoration by the possession, ainong no less than four hundred thousand families, of the Crown and Bishops' lands, which had been sold during the civil war, had no perceptible operation : that whoever had proposed limitations would have been in
* From “ Mackenzie's Criminals.” This proof is also to be found adduced, with a reference to Mr. Rose's Observations, in a note of M. Howell's, in a recent volume of Cobbett's State Trials.