Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

siastical government of the church, yet most be lieved it rather a dislike of some churchmen, and of some introducements of theirs, which he appre. hended might disquiet the public peace. He was rather of reputation in his own country, than of pubs lic discourse, or fame in the kingdom, before the business of ship-money; but then he grew the argument of all tongues, every man enquiring who and what he was, that durst, at his own charge, support the liberty and property of the kingdom, and rescue his country, as he thought, from being made a prey to the court. His carriage, throughout this agitation, was with that rare temper and modesty, that they who watched him narrowly to find some advantage against his person, to make him less resolute in his cause, were compelled to give him a just testimony. And the judgment that was given against him, infinitely more advanced him, than the service for which it was given. When this parliament begun, (being returned knight of the shire for the county where he lived) the eyes of all men were fixed upon him, as their patriæ pater, and the pilot that must steer the vessel through the tempests and rocks which threatened it. And I am persuaded, his power and interest, at that time, was greater to do good or hurt, than any man's in the kingdom, or than any man of his rank hath had in any time: for his reputation of honesty was universal, and his affections seemed so publicly guided, that no corrupt or private ends could bias them.

He was of, that rare affability and temper in debate, and of that seeming humility and submission of judgment, as if he brought no opinion of his own with him, but a desire of information and instruction ; yet he had so subtle a way of interrogating, and under the notion of doubts, insinuating his objections, that he infused his own opinions into those from whom he pretended to learn and receive them. And even with them who were able to preserve themselves from his infusions, and discerned those - opinions to be fixed in him, with which they could not comply, he always left the character of an ingenious and conscientious person. He was, indeed, a very wise man, and of great parts, and possessed with the most absolute spirit of popularity, and the most absolute faculties to govern the people, of any man I ever knew. For the first year of the parliament, he seemed rather to moderate and soften the violent and distempered humours, than to inflame them. But wise and dispassioned men plainly discerned, that that moderation proceeded from prudence and observation that the season was not ripe, rather than that he approved of the moderation; and that he begot many opinions and motions, the education whereof he'committed to other men; so far disguising his own designs, that he seemed seldom to wish more than was con cluded : and in many gross conclusions, which would hereafter contribute to designs not yet set en foot, when he found them sufficiently backed by majority of voices, he would withdraw himself bco fore the question, that he might seem not to con sent to. so much visible unreasonableness; which produced as great a doubt in some, as it did approbation in others, of his integrity. What combinanation soever had been originally with the Scots for the invasion of England, and what farther was entered into afterward in favour of thein, and to advance any alteration : of the government in parliament, no man doubts was at least with the privity of this gentleman.

After he was among those members accused by the king of high treason, he was much altered ; his nature and carriage seeming much fiercer than it did before. And without question, when he first drew his sword, he threw away the scabbard; for he passionately opposed the overture made by the king for a treaty from Nottingham, and as eminently, all expedients that might have produced any accommodations in this that was at Oxford; and was principally relied on, to prevent any infusions which might be made into the earl of Essex towards peace, or to render them ineffectual, if they were made; and was, indeed, much more relied on by that party, than the general himself. In the first entrance into the troubles, he undertook the command of a regiment of foot, and performed the duty of a colonel, upon all occasions, most punc tually. He was very temperate in diet, and a supreme governor over all his passions and affections, and had thereby a great power over other men's He was of an industry and vigilance not to be tired out, or wearied by the most laborious ; and of parts not to be imposed upon by the subtle or sharp; and of a personal courage equal to his best parts: so that he was an enemy not to be wished, wherever he might have been made a friend; and as much to be apprehended where he was so, as any man could deserve to be. And therefore his death was no less pleasing to the one party, than it was condoled in the other. In a word, what was said of Cinna, might well be applied to him: "He had a head to contrive, and a tongue to persuade, and a hand to execute any mischief;" (or as the historian says elsewhere,] “ any good.”

It must be remembered, that this character of our heroic and venerated champion of free.

dom, was given by one, whom difference of party rendered an enemy to him. Yet even here his unrivalled superiority is unquestioned. A doubt is only cast upon the purity of his motives; though it is at the same time admitted, that no selfish ends could be discerned. On any supposition, he must unquestionably have been one of the most extraordinary men that ever lived. It will be recollected, that he was mortally wounded in a skirmish with prince Rupert, at Chalgrover field in Oxfordshire. He was shot in the shoulder with two musket-balls, on the 18th of June 1643, and died on the 24th in great agony--and as Clarendon says, to as great a consternation of all his party, as if their whole army had been defeated.

&

Character of Lord Falkland, who was slain in the bat

tle of Newbury, between the parliament forces under the earl of Essex, and the royalists commanded by prince Rupert.

In this unhappy battle was slain the lord viscount Falkland; a person of such prodigious parts of learning and knowledge, of that inimitable sweetness and delight in conversation, of so flowing and

« ElőzőTovább »