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the resistance of assemblies, which were no longer supported by a national force, gradually becoming more and more feeble, and at length altogether ceasing.. The friends and the enemies of liberty perceived with equal clearness the causes of this general decay. It is the favourite theme of Strafford. He advises the king to procure from the judges a recognition of his right to raise an army at his pleasure. "This piece, well fortified." says he, " forever vindicates the monarchy at home from under the conditions and restraints of subjects." We firmly believe that he was in the right. Nay; we believe that, even if no deliberate scheme of arbitrary government had been formed by the sovereign and his ministers, there was great reason to apprehend a natural extinction of the constitution. If, for example, Charles had played the part of Gustavus Adolphtts; if he had carried on a popular war for the defence of the Protestant cause in Germany; if he had gratified the national pride by a series of victories; if he had formed an army of forty or fifty thousand devoted soldiers, we do not see what chance the nation would have had of escaping from despotism. The judges would have given as strong a decision in favour of camp-money as they gave in favour of ship-money. If they had scrupled, it would have made little difference. An indivi'dual who resisted would have been treated as Charles treated Eliot, and as Strafford wished to treat Hampden. The Parliament might have been summoned once in twenty years, to congratulate a king on his accession, or to give solemnity to some great measure'of state. Such had been the fate of legislative assemblies as powerful, as much respected, as highspirited, as the English Lords and Commons.
The two Houses, surrounded by the ruins of so many free constitutions, overthrown or sapped by the new military system, were required to intrust the command of an army, and the conduct of the Irish war, to a king who had proposed to himself the destruction of liberty as the great end of his policy. We are decidedly of opinion that it would have been fatal to comply. Many of those who took the side of the king on this question Would have cursed their own loyalty if they had seen him return from war at the head of twenty thousand troops, accustomed to carnage and free quarters in Ireland.
We think with Mr. Hallam, that many of the royalist nobility and gentry were true friends to the constitution ; and that, but for the solemn protestations by which the king bound himself to govern according to the law for the future, they never would have joined his standard. But surely they underrated the public danger. Falkland is commonly selected as the most respectable specimen of this class. He was indeed a man of great talents, and of great virtues; but, we apprehend, infinitely too fastidious for public life. He did not perceive that in snch times as those on which his lot had fallen, the duty of a statesman is to choose the better cause, and to stand by it, in spite of those excesses by which every cause, however good in itself, will be disgraced. The present evil always seemed to him the worst. He was
always going backward and forward; but it should be remembered to his honour, that it was always from the stronger to the weaker side that he deserted. While Charles was oppressing the people, Falkland was a resolute champion of liberty. He attacked Strafford. He even concurred in strong measures against Episcopacy. But the violence of his party annoyed him, and drove him to the other party, to be equally annoyed there. Dreading the success of the cause which hf nan espoused, sickened by the courtiers of Oxford, as he had been sickened by the patriots of Westminster, yet bound by honour not to abandon them, he pined away, neglected his person, went about moaning for peace, and at last rushed desperately on death as the best refuge in such miserable times. If he had lived through the scenes that followed, we have little doubt that he would have condemned himself to share the exile and beggary of the royal family; that he would then have returned to oppose all their measures ; that he would have been sent to the Tower by the Commons as a disbeliever in the Popish Plot, and by the king as an accomplice in the Rye-House Plot; and that, if he had escaped being hanged, first by Scroggs, and then by Jeffries, he would, after manfully opposing James the Second through his whole reign, have been seized with a lit of compassion at the very moment of the Revolution, have voted for a regency, and died a nonjuror.
We do not dispute that the royal party contained many excellent men and excellent citizens. But this we say—that they did not discern those times. The peculiar glory of the Houses of Parliament is, that, in the great plague and mortality of constitutions, they took their stand between the living and the dead. At the very crisis of our destiny, at the very moment when the fate which had passed on every other nation was about to pas« on England, they arrested th.e danger.
Those who conceive that the parliamentary leaders were desirous merely to maintain the old constitution, and those who represent them as conspiring to subvert it, are equally in error. The old constitution, as we have attempted to show, could not be maintained. The progress of time, the increase of wealth, the diffusion of knowledge, the great change in the European system of war, rendered it impossible that any of the monarchies of the middle ages should continue to exist on the old footing. The prerogative of the crown was constantly advancing. If the privileges of the people were to remain absolutely stationary, they would relatively retrograde. The monarchical and democralical parts of the government were placed in a situation not unlike that of the two brothers in the Fairy Queen, one of whom saw the soil of his inheritance daily washed away by the tide, and joined to that of his rival. The portions had at first been fairly meted out: by a natural and constant transfer, the one had been extended; the other had dwindled to nothing. A new partition or a compensation was necessary to restore the original equality.
It was now absolutely necessary to violate the formal part of the constitution, in order to preserve its spirit. This might have oe>-n
jtetually to interfere in matters of which they were incompetent to judge. This policy secured them against military usurpation, but placed them under great disadvantages in war. The uncontrolled power which the king of France exercised over his troops enabled him to conquer his enemies, but enabled him also to oppress his people. Was there any intermediate course? None, we confess, altogether free from objection. But, on the whole, we conceive that the best measure would have been that which the Parliament over and over proposed; that for a limited time the power of the sword should be left to the two Houses, and that it should revert to the crown when the constitution should be firmly established; when the new securities of freedom should be so far strengthened by prescriplion, that it would be difficult to employ even a standing army for the purpose of subverting them.
Mr. Hallam thinks that the dispute might easily have been compromised, by enacting that the king should have no power to keep a standing army on foot without the consent of Parliament. He reasons as if the question had been merely theoretical—as if at that time no army had been wanted. "The kingdom," he says, "might have well dispensed, in that age, with any military organization." Now, we think that Mr. Hallam overlooks the most important circumstance in the whole case. ' Ireland was at that moment in rebellion; and a great expedition would obviously be necessary to reduce that kingdom to obedience. The Houses had, therefore, to consider, not an abstract question of law, but an urgent practical question, directly involving the safety of the state. They had to consider the expediency of immediately giving a great army to a king, who was at least as desirous to put down the Parliament of England as to conquer the insurgents of Ireland.
Of course, we do not mean to defend all their measures. Far from it. There never was a perfect man; it would, therefore, be the height of absurdity to expect a perfect party or a perfect assembly. For large bodies are far more likely to err than individuals. The passions are inflamed by sympathy; the fear of punishment and the sense of shame are diminished by partition. Every day we see men do for their faction what they would' die rather than do for themselves.
No private quarrel ever happens, in which the right and wrong are so exquisitely divided, that all the right lies on one side, and all Ike wrong on the other. But here was a schism which separated a great nation into two parties. Of these parties, each was composed of many smaller parties. Each contained many members, who differed far less from their moderate opponents than from their violent allies. Each reckoned among its supporters many who were determined in their choice, by some accident of birth, of connection, or of local situation. Each of them attracted to itself in multitudes those fierce and turbid spirits, to whom the clouds and whirlwinds of the political hurricane arc the atmosphere of life. A party, like a camp, has its sutlers and camp-follower*, as well as its soldiers. In its progress it
collects round it a vast retinue, composed of people who thrive by its custom, or arc amused by its display, who may be sometimes reckoned, in an ostentatious enumeration, as forming a part of it, but who give no aid to its operations, and take but a languid interest in its success: who relax its discipline and dishonour its flag, by their irregularities; and who, after a disaster, are perfectly ready to cut the throats and rifle the baggage of their companions.
Thus it is in every great division: and thus it was in our civil war. On both sides there was, undoubtedly, enough of crime and enough of error, to disgust any man who did not reflect that the whole history of the species is nothing but a comparison of crimes and errors. Misanthropy is not the temper which qualifies a man to act in great affairs, or to judge of them.
"Of the Parliament," says Mr. Hallam, " it may be said, I think, with not greater severity than truth, that scarce two or three public acts of justice, humanity, or generosity, and very few of political wisdom or courage, are recorded of them, from their quarrel with the king to their expulsion by Cromwell." Those who may agree with us in the opinion which we have expressed as to the original demands of the Parliament, will scarcely concur in this strong censure. The propositions which the Houses made at Oxford, at Uxbridge, and at Newcastle, were in strict accordance with these demands. In the darkest period of the war, they showed no disposition to concede any vital principle. In the fulness of their success, they showed no disposition to encroach beyond these limits. In this respect we cannot but think that they showed justice and generosity, as well as political wisdom and courage.
The Parliament was certainly far from faultless. We fully agree with Mr. Hallam in reprobating their treatment of Laud. For the individual, indeed, we entertain a more unmitigated contempt than for any other character in our history. The fondness with which a portion of the church regards his memory, can be compared only to that perversity of affection which sometimes leads a mother to select the monster or the idiot of the family as the object of her especial favour. Mr. Hallam haj incidentally observed, that in the correspondence of Laud with Strafford, there are no indications of a sense of duty towards God or man. The admirers of the archbishop have, in consequence, inflicted upon the public a crowd of extracts, designed to prove the contrary. Now, in all those passages, we see nothing which a prelate as wicked as Pope Alexander or Cardinal Dubois might not have written. They indicate no sense of duty to God or man; but simply a strong interest in the prosperity and dignity of the order to which the writer be longed; an interest which, when kept within certain limits, docs not deserve censure, but which can never be considered as a virtue. Laud is anxious to accommodate satisfactorily the disputes in the University of Dublin. He regrets to hear that a church is used as a stable, and that the benefices of Ireland are very poor honest Englishmen for the defence of the public good, of durable tranquillity, of temperate freedom, were buried in the grave of Hampden.
The self-denying ordinance was passed, and the army was remodelled. These measures were undoubtedly full of danger. But all that was left to the Parliament was to take the less of two dangers. And we think that, even if they could have accurately foreseen all that followed, their decision ought to have been the same. Under any circumstances, we should have preferred Cromwell to Charles. But there could be no comparison between Cromwell and Charles victorious—Charles restored, Charles enabled to feed fat all the hungry grudges of his smiling rancour, and his cringing pride. The next visit of his majesty to his faithful Commons would have been more serious than that with which he last honoured them; more serious than that which their own gcnrral paid them some years after. The king would scarce have been content with collaring Marten, and.praying that the Lord would deliver him from Vane. If, by fatal mismanagement, nothing was left to England but a choice of tyrants, the last tyrant whom she should have chosen was Charles.
From the apprehension of this worst evil the Houses were soon delivered by their new leaders. The armies of Charles were everywhere routed; his fastnesses stormed; his party humbled and subjugated. The king himself fell into the hands of the Parliament; and both the king and the Parliament soon fell into the hands of the army. The fate of both the caplives was the same. Both were treated alternately with respect and with insult. At length the natural life of the one, and the political life of the other, were terminated by violence; and the power for which both had struggled was united in a single hand. Men naturally sympathize with the calamities of individuals; bot they are inclined to look on a fallen party with contempt rather than with pity. Thus misfortune turned the greatest of Parliaments into the despised Rump, and the worst of kings into the Blessed Martyr.
Mr. Hallam decidedly condemns the execution of Charles; and in all that he says on that subject, we heartily agree. We fully concur with him in thinking that a great social schism, such as the civil war, is not to be confounded with an ordinary treason; and that the vanquished ought to be treated according to the rules, not of municipal, but of international law. In this case the distinction is of the less importance, because both international and municipal law were in favour of Charles.
He was a prisoner of war by the former, a king by the latter. By neither was he a traitor. If he had been successful, and had put his leading opponents to death, he would have deserved severe censure; and this without re.«rence to the justice or injustice of his cause. Yet the opponents of Charles, it must be admitted were technically guilty of treason. He might have sent them to the scaffold without violating any established principle of-jurisprudence. He would not have been Compelled to overturn tho whole eonsiitulinn in order to
reach them. Here his own case differed widely from theirs. Not only was his condemnation in itself a measure which only the strongest necessity could vindicate, but it could not be procured without taking several previous steps, every one of which would have required the strongest necessity to vindicate it. It could not be procured without dissolving the government by military force, without establishing precedents of the most dangerous description, without creating difficulties which the next ten years were spent in removing, without pulling down institutions which it soon became necessary to reconstruct, and setting up others which almost every man wai soon impatient to destroy. It was necessary to strike the House of Lords out of the constitution, to exclude members of the House of Commons by force, to make a new crime, a new tribunal, a new mode bf procedure. The whole legislative- and judicial systems were trampled down for the purpose of taking a single head. Not only those parts of the constitution which the republicans were desirous to destroy, but those which they wished to retain and exalt, were deeply injured by these transactions. High courts of justice began to usurp the functions of juries. The remaining delegates of the people were soon driven from their seats, by the same military violence which had enabled them to exclude their colleagues.
If Charles had been the last of his line, there would have been an intelligible reason for putting him to death. But the blow which terminated his life, at once transferred the allegiance of every royalist to an heir, and an heir who was at liberty. To kill the individual, was truly, under such circumstances, not to destroy, but to release the king.
We detest the character of Charles; but a man ought not to be removed by a law ex ptnt facto, even constitutionally procured, merely because he is detestable. He must also be very dangerous. We can scarcely conceive that any danger which a state can apprehend from any individual, could justify the violent measures which were necessary to procure a sentence against Charles. But in fact the danger amounted to nothing. There was indeed danger from the attachment of a large party to his office. But this danger, his execution only increased. His personal influencf was little indeed. He had lost the confidence of every party. Churchmen, Catholics, Presbyterians, Independents, his enemies, his friends, his tools, English, Scotch, Irish, all divisions and subdivisions of his people had been deceived by him. His most attached councillor* turned away with shame and anguish from his false and hollow policy; plot intertwined with plot, mine sprung beneath mine, agents disowned, promises evaded, one pledge given in private, another in public.—"Oh, Mr. Secretar ry," says Clarendon, in a letter to Nicholas, "those stratagems have given me more sad hours than all the misfortunes in war which have befallen the king; ana look like the effects of God's anger towards us."
The abilities of Charles were not form'da ble. His taste in the fine arts was mdead e» H