Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

things; as the stars are most visible tions in science, like the same in religion, from the deepest well. But now our must darken insight and divert true worscience is effectually prevented from its ship, we may well be cautious of raising due effects upon reason by a gross mass any inconsiderable outcry against itof mere pedantry and hypothesis. It knowing that our ignorance may hurt may be said of English as it has been our own cause, and that it is the very of German savans, that they possess the nature of error to gather strength from art to render science inaccessible, and the fear of its opposers. that, chiefly by the invention of cum And now, since it is discovered that brous hypotheses, more dull and inexpli- human happiness may reap an unexpect. cable than the mysteries of Isis. No ed harvest in this field, and that here, if sooner is a new law discovered, than a anywhere, are to be sought the means of new hypothesis is thrown over it, as if advancement, it becomes the duty of the to hide it from us. It might be a thing liberal mind to observe the utmost cauof no slight consequence to the world, if tion in checking the growth of knowscience were well rid of her superstitions; ledge in any shape, or of laying weights if by any chance, her“ hard atoms,” elec

even upon its rankness. ric “ fluids," " convulsions of nature," That those who make no investigations Mechanic Physiology, “chemistry of of their beliefs should dread a new fact, thought,” and the like, were all let drop or a new theory, is not indeed a with their “moral consequences," and matter of wonder; but to a perfect “argument cumulative” into mere obli- and well-grounded faith, nothing merevion. Many have manifested great alarm ly natural can bring aught but conat the progress of mechanism in “sys- firmation. As it least becomes a virtems of the world;" as if in fear lest His tuous reputation to exhibit alarm upon a work should be wrested out of God's calumny, it no less ill befits a true behands; but when we see the effect of liever to start at novelties in the way of true science in arousing, while it guides, science; for be is sure that what he the highest faculties of the spirit, and knows to be false may be easily disproved observe that every step it takes is up- without calumny, and that what is true ward, lifting us to our proper contempla- is but so much added confirmation. tions, we may be ready to treat its errors Least of all, though he rejects them, can with mildness, though moved with never be be angry with new attempts to reduce so strong a fear of their consequences. nature to a law-knowing that of all the alThough we are convinced that supersti- tributes, that of lawgiver is the most divine.

OLIVER CROMWELL. *

English historians have been laboring sions from English literature on these for a long time under what theologians call points, will believe a fable and run wide moral inability, in their attempts to give a of the truth in the conclusions he adopts. correct history of Oliver Cromwell. There Cromwell, perhaps, has suffered most are four things, on neither of which, till of all from the hands of his English his. Carlyle appeared, no English writer could torians. Having condemned to death a treat with the least justice or truth. These king, overthrown the established church, are, the American Revolution—the Eng. and put plebeians in all the high places lish and Irish connection-Bonaparte and in the kingdom, and himself sat quietly his career, and Cromwell and the rebel- down on the throne of the British Emlion he represents. He, who relies on pire; he stands, and has stood for ages, a English history, or takes his impres- sort of monster, of such horrid aspect and

Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell with elucidations, by Thomas Carlyle. Wiley & Putnam. New York.

nature that to touch him at all is revolt- made in the nobility and the Church; ing, and to disturb his bones except to while the son was pushed out by royal dig them up for the gallows, a crime. blood—the Hanoverian line took the place Not only has the inveterate preju- of the Stuart line respecting still the estabdice against him kept the light of truth lished order of things, while British blood from his character, but the deep and un- had no stain put upon it. William could paralleled obloquy that fell on him at show kingly drops in his veins-Cromthe restoration of the Stuarts, prevented well those only of a sturdy English farmer. the preservation of papers and records so This simple matter of blood makes Willnecessary to the formation of a correct iam a benefactor and rightful sovereign, judgment. The great Rebellion has been and Cromwell a curse and an usurper ; a sort of indistinguishable chaos, out of though, to us republicans this side the which Cromwell arises in huge and clear water, the grounds of this distinction do ly defined proportions, only to be pelted not seem very rational or just. with falsehoods and covered with scorn. But justice is at last come to Cromwell Liberty, however, has kept her eye on in this collection of his letters and him ; and, amid the struggles for freedom speeches. This book will be a bitter pill which men have since passed through, her for royalists and dainty nobility to swalfinger has pointed back to him in triumph. low. While the commission appointed

Amid so many errors, so much prejudice by Parliament are disputing whether they and falsehood, these “ Letters and shall put Cromwell among the list of Speeches” are the very best things that her great men, this work will place him could be given to the world. Eulogies and beyond the reach of their votes and be a defences would both be disbelieved, for nobler and more enduring monument than English history constantly gives the lie all the parliaments of the world could to them—but here is authentic history rear. against doubtful history-Oliver Crom But before we speak of the subject of well, himself, rising up after this long the book we have one word to say of the silence and appealing to every true man manner in which Mr. Carlyle has treated against his slanderers, and opening his it. All the worst faults of his style are innermost heart to the world. It is found here, joined to a self-conceit that curions to observe the difference English would not be tolerated in any other man. writers make between the great rebellion His familiarity with the German literaand the Revolution of 1688. Charles I. ture has very naturally affected his mode was executed for attempting to destroy of expression. The German language is the constitution of England-James II., our own best Saxon inverted, and as one driven from the throne for his invasion becomes acquainted with the deep and of English liberty-the father is tried and massive flow of its sentences, he unconbeheaded, and the son sent a returnless sciously adapts his thoughts to their moveexile from his kingdom. James is charged ment. Thus we imagine Carlyle's peculiwith no crime of which Charles is not arity of style originated; and what has guilty-the Long Parliament exercised been termed affectation, was the natural reno prerogative the Convention of 1688 sult of Germanizing a strong English mind. did not wield, and yet the Rebellion is He has, however, nursed his oddities till stigmatized as infamous and murderous ; they have grown into deformities, and in the Long Parliament accused of trans- this work have reached, we trust

, their gressing its power, and Cromwell called full maturity. The quaintness of style a usurper, while the revolution of 1688 is we find in Old Burton, Bunyan and many termed the glorious revolution, and Will. of the Puritan fathers, was natural to iam and Mary are hailed monarchs by the them-growing out of their great simgrace of God. Now what lies at the bottom plicity and honesty of heart, and hence of this difference of views and feelings? we love it—but in Mr. Carlyle it is exHere is the father decapitated and the son travagance, premeditated oddity, and exiled--the former more criminal than hence is affectation. Who can tolerate, the latter ; and yet heaven and earth are for instance, such English as the follownot wider apart than English historians ing which we find in the introductory have put the revolutions that overthrew chapter. Speaking of the confusion and them.

chaos into which the historical events of The cause of all this difference is sim- Cromwell's time have been thrown, he le this, the father was superseded by a says, " Behold here the final evanescence

mer, and a thorough reformation of formed human things; they had form,

[graphic]

but they are changing into sheer formless. (somewhat animated your Highness"), ness; ancient human speech itself has (« Poor Oliver.") (style getting hasty sunk into unintelligible maundering: This hoť), (Better not, your Highness”), is the collapse—the etiolation of human (“ Threatening to blaze up again”), features into mouldy, blank dissolution; (" Ends in a kind of a snort”). Someprogress toward utter silence and disap- times he throws in simply (s ah ) pearance; disastrous

ever deepening (“certainly"), (" truly''), (ha!") (" Yes, dusk of gods and men! Why has the you said so, your Highness”). Sometimes living ventured thither, down from the he condemns Cromwell's English in such cheerful light, across the Lethe-swamps parentheses as the following: (" sentence and Tartarean Phlegethons, onward to involving an incurable Irish bull; the those baleful halls of Dis and the three. head of it eating the tail of it), (Damheaded dog? Some destiny drives him.” nable iteration), &c. Sometimes he caIf the history of those times was written resses patronizingly the massive head of in such jargon as this, no wonder it Oliver, as if he were a great English “has sunk into unintelligible maunder- mastiff

, saying, (“ Yes, my brave one”), ing." A thought has tumbled out with (“. Try it again, your Highness), (“ Keep this cart-load of words, no doubt, and hold of them, your Highness”), (Very well worth digging after, but Carlyle has well, your Highness”), (" No, we are not no right to put his readers to that trouble exactly their darlings), (“ Wait till the when a straight-forward, good English axles get warm a little), (“ Try it again, sentence could so easily have expressed your Highness”). These last sound to it.

us very much like “ Go it, your HighThere are also expressions scattered ness!" " Stick to 'em, your Highness.along that bave no place in English lite- &c., and is more becoming the pit of a rature, and should be denounced at once, fourth-rate comic theatre than grave hislest the support of a great name should tory. It is supremely disgusting, not give them permanence there. Mr. Car- only from the raillery it incorporates Tyle tells us of a man who was " no with such earnest, sincere language, but great shakes in rhyme,” speaks of “ Tor- from the infinite self-conceit it exhibits pedo Dilettantism,” and endeavors to by its gross familiarities. Who but Mr. make "

Flunkey” and “ Flunkeyism” Carlyle would presume to interrupt a classical words, and says that the Royal. man with such impertinent ejaculations, ists shed tears enough at the death of now gently twitching His Highness's Charles I. “ to salt the whole herring fish- by the coat tail and now patting him on ery.He is constantly punning while the head, as much as to say, " Ah! my treating of the gravest subjects-makes good fellow, exactly; we think alike." bon-mots as he goes along, and plays Conceive of these phrases thrown into upon words as if his mind was divided speeches addressed to the Parliament of between the thought and the oddity he England, when England was rocking to would couple with it.

and fro like a vessel in the storm, and But the greatest objection of manner you get some idea of the unblushing efin this work is the interjections and frontery of their appearance. Mr. Car. ejaculations with which he peppers all lyle, perhaps, is not aware of the relative of Cromwell's speeches. In these grave position he establishes between himself and solemn addresses of the Protector to and Cromwell by this process. It sounds his parliaments, when England's welfare to the reader very much as if he were hung by a thread, Carlyle acts the part constantly saying, “ Yes, yes; I underof a clown in the circus, keeping up a stand Oliver perfectly, he is a brave fel. running commentary in a sort of half so- low-a little prolix, it is true, and some. liloquy to his master's harangue-laugh times muddy, but I like him nevertheless, able at times it must be confessed, but and am determined to help him through turning both into ridicule. The most -he and I against the world.” What serious words Cromwell ever uttered are we have said does not arise from prejuinterlarded with such phrases as, (“ Yes, dice, for Carlyle has no greater admirer your Highness”), ("* Truly'), (" His than ourselves. We have been enriched Highness gets more emphatic”), (The by the treasures of his exhaustless mind same tailor metaphor again"), (Looks -excited and instructed by his burning over his shoulder in the jungle and be thoughts, and borne away on those sugthinks him), (I did think my first Pro gestions that leap from his brain, like tectorate a successful kind of a thing”), sudden inspirations, and have reverently

ones.

stood and listened as he spoke. Still, engrossed with his character, seems for his greatness does not convert his faults the time to forget the events that preinto virtues, or render them less worthy ceded his appearance on the stage. of condemnation.

The English Revolution was the natuMr. Carlyle is alike above our praise ral product of the growth of civilization, or blame; he has passed through the trial and aimed, like the French Revolution, state, and now occupies a place in Eng- against three distinct things absolute lish literatu where the stroke of even monarchy, a privileged aristocracy, and the English critic cannot harm him. But a haughty and grasping clergy. The the higher his position, and the wider his little liberty which the fifteenth century influence, the more carefully should his shed on man, had well nigh gone out in errors be pointed out and shunned ; for, the beginning of the seventeenth. On while few can imitate his great qual- the continent, royalty had gradually subities, all men can appropriate his bad dued the proud nobility till it reigned

supreme. In England, the feudal arisWe have one other objection to Mr. tocracy had not been conquered, but had Carlyle's part of this work, which we gone to sleep before the throne. Royalty have, also, to all his historical writings no longer set checks on its encroach. he does not give us clearly the philosophy ments, and it no longer interfered with of history. His French Revolution con- royalty in its aggressions on the liberties veys no definite idea of the connected of the people. The clergy, too, blind course of the events he hurries us through. and selfish, sought to retard rather than Huge summits rise out of the chaos, blaz- advance the human mind in its career. ing with light, or equally visible from But the light of the Reformation could their blackness; scenes start into life be- not be put out. The impulse given to fore us, vivid as a passing reality, and free inquiry could not be checked; men great pictures come and go in fearful pro- dared to think and believe without the cession on the vision, while the wizard, church, and we see, even in the time of who is working all these wonders in our Elizabeth, the germs of the rebellion. She, presence, is talking in the mean time in by the crown lands she had sold to country strains of sublime eloquence, till the soul gentlemen to avoid asking for subsidies, stands amazed at the thoughts that waken had gradually passed large wealth into up equally strange thoughts within. the hands of those who were to be the Still, when it is all passed, the mind future members of the House of Comstruggles in vain after the thread which mons; so that when Charles I. assembled connects them together. The principle Parliament, in 1628, the Commons were that lay at the bottom of this move. twice as rich as the House of Lords. ment, is developed clearly enough; but Commerce had also increased, and wealth the causes which set that principle work was every day accumulating in the hands ing, and kept it working so fearfully, are of the common people. This must be invisible or dimly seen. So in this work, secured, and checks erected to preserve it no one, by reading it, would get a de- from the grasping hand of tyranny. finite idea of the English Revolution. The Parliament had no sooner assemPerhaps Mr. Carlyle, as he designs to bled, than it began to search every departwrite a history of that event, purposely ment of government. Past and future subomitted to give us a synopsis of it. But sidies came under its cognizance; the state Oliver Cromwell is nothing without it. of religion, the repression of popery, and True, much of his life is taken up as an the protection of commerce. There were a officer in the army; but the scattered host of complaints preferred, termed grievthreads of that rebellion were finally ances, which the Parliament determined gathered into his mighty hand, and he should be redressed. These being boldly henceforth stands as the representative or presented to the King, he considered it rather embodiment of it. But not only an encroachment on his sovereignty-an does he omit to give us a synopsis of the incipient step towards forcing him to subrevolution itself, but states a palpable mit to all their demands. As he, howerror. He more than once affirms that ever, wanted subsidies to carry on the religion lay entirely at the bottom of it. war in Spain, he swallowed his vexaCromwell, doubtless, had very little idea tion and asked for money. of constitutional liberty, and a religious A small subsidy was voted him, to. feeling was the groundwork of all his gether with the custom duties for one actions; and Mr. Carlyle, being so deeply year. The Lords refused to sanction VOL. III.—NO. IV.

26

this, as it had been the custom heretofore be followed by demands for reform in to vote these duties to a king during his practice ; and two remonstrances were reign. But the Commons, before they drawn up, one against the Duke of Buckwould grant more, demanded a redress of ingham, and the other against having tontheir grievances. The King, indignantnage and poundage levied, except, like at this attempt, as he termed it, to com other taxes, by law. The King saw there pel him to act, thus encroaching on his was no end to this cry about grievances, sovereignty, dissolved the Parliament, and, losing all patience—in June, three determined to govern without it. Suc- months from the time of its assemblingceeding but poorly, however, in his efforts prorogued Parliament. to raise money by loans, he, in February, The second session of Parliament comagain assembled it. The first Parliament menced in January of the next year. asked for redress of grievances; the sec Grievances again appeared on the tapis ond immediately impeached the Duke of till the King could not endure the word. Buckingham, the King's favorite, as the Reforms, both in religious and civil author of their grievances. During the inatters, were loudly demanded; and, at futile efforts to bring him to trial, Charles length, the tonnage and poundage duties had two of the commissioners, appointed came up again. A second remonstrance by the house to support the impeachment, was about to be carried,

when the Speaker arrested and locked up in the Tower for informed the House that the King bad insolence of speech. The Commons, in- ordered him not to put the motion, and dignant at this encroachment upon their rose to retire. “ God's wounds," said the privileges, refused to do anything till fierce Hollis,“ you shall sit till it please they were set at liberty, and the King the House to rise.The King, hearing of yielded. Defeated and baffled on every the outbreak, sent the Sergeant-at-arms side, he summarily dissolved this Parlia- to remove the mace, and thus arrest all ment also. Determined to be an absolute business. But he, too, was kept firmly sovereign, like the monarchs of Europe, seated, and the doors of the House locked. he could not see the spirit that was A second messenger came to dissolve the abroad, and hence rusted blindly on his Parliament, but could not gain admission. own ruin. A general loan was ordered ; Boiling with rage, at being thus defied on the seaports and maratime districts com- hiç very throne, he called the captain of his manded to furnish vessels (the first at- guards and ordered him to force the doors. tempt at ship-money); passive obedience But the vote bad been carried, and the was preached up by direction of the King; House of Commons declared to the world those who refused to grant the money were that the levying of tonnage and poundage thrown into prison; the military were duties was illegal, and those guilty of distributed over the kingdom; the courts high treason who should levy or even of justice were overawed, and Charles pay them.” The Parliament was, of I. seemed resolved to carry his doctrine of course, dissolved. It was a stormy sestyranny by one grand coup de main. But sion, and here Cromwell first appears he only awakened indignation and hos- on the stage, making a fierce speech tility, and nursed the fire be expected to against a priest, whom he terms no better quench. In the mean time defeat had than a papist. attended the armies abroad, and money Charles—now fully resolved to govern must be raised; and another Parliament alone--commenced his arbitrary career by was called, (March 7, 1628,) and a tone imprisoning some of the most daring of great conciliation adopted. But the leaders of the last Parliament. Then friendly aspect with which it opened soon commenced a long succession of illegal changed; the Commons, intent on having acts to raise money-long abolished imtheir liberties secured, and the rights of posts were reëstablished—illegal fines Englishmen defined, drew up the famous levied and rights invaded. The courts “ Petition of Rights.” This was simply were overawed, magistrates remaved, and a bill to guaranty acknowledged liber- tyranny unblushing and open everyties, and check acknowledged abuses; where practiced. The Church, too, but Charles thought his word was better came in for its share of power. It bethan all guaranties, and refused, at first, came concentrated in the hands of the to have anything to do with it.

Bishops--the observance of the liturgy After a stormy time in the House, the and cathedral rites were enforced, and bill passed, and the King was compelled nonconformists turned out of their livings, to sign it. But reform on paper began to and, forbidden to preach, were sent wan

« ElőzőTovább »