« PreviousContinue »
and the historian of the autonomous Hellenic world, feeling that life has departed from his subject, with sadness and humiliation brings his narrative to a close.'
We have thus endeavoured to convey to such of our readers as are not professed scholars some conception of the leading characteristics of Mr. Grote's History of Greece. It will readily be understood that in a history which fills twelve thick octavo volumes the task of selection has not been easy; and that, while we have pointed out a few of Mr. Grote's most striking views and opinions, they must be regarded only as a sample of the vast stores of learning and knowledge-combined with a wonderful power of appreciating and depicting the Hellenic character and feelings—which are contained in this original work. We have not been using the language of panegyric, but have expressed opinions formed after mature deliberation, and the reasons for which we have laid before our readers. A repeated perusal of the volumes as they appeared, and a long-continued study of their contents, have left so deep an impression upon our minds of the conscientious fidelity and eminent abilities of the historian, that we have thought it our duty to give full expression to our feelings of admiration and respect for a writer who has given such a stimulus to our intellect and enlarged so widely the horizon of our knowledge.
Art. III.-1. Histoire de Charles 1, depuis son avènement jusqu'à
sa mort, 5e édition, précédée d'un Discours sur l'Histoire de la Révolution d'Angleterre. Par M. Guizot. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris,
1854. 2. Histoire de la République d'Angleterre et de Cromwell. Par
M. Guizot. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1854. 3. Histoire du Protectorat de Richard Cromwell, et du Réta
blissement des Stuart. Par M. Guizot. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1856. 4. Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches : with Elucidations.
By Thomas Carlyle. Third Edition, enlarged. 4 vols. 8vo.
London, 1850. 5. The Statesmen of the Commonwealth of England; with a Trea
tise on the Popular Progress in English History. By John Forster, of the Inner Temple. 5 vols. small 8vo. London, 1840. THE most eventful period of English history was the time of
whom the crisis produced. The last few years have afforded important elucidations of his career, and M. Guizot in particular
has unravelled his character with singular skill. No one, in our opinion, has drawn his portrait with equal truth; and the penetration with which the French statesman has discriminated the qualities of the English leader is the more remarkable from the strange and frequently empty jargon in which Cromwell wrote, and which would have prevented a less sagacious foreigner from doing justice to his genius. Previous historians on the Continent have been preserved from this danger by their ignorance of most of the original documents. Their Cromwells have been taken at secondhand. M. Guizot's acquaintance with our annals, language, customs, and polity, is altogether extraordinary. There is nothing to betray that he is not a native statesman, unless it be the independence of his judgment and his superiority to party views. His book is not designed for idle readers, who only care to be amused. He is an earnest and profound writer, who loves to trace events to their causes, and follow them into their consequences; and his commentary will seem most luminous to those who are imbued with the largest portion of his own thoughtful spirit. The third division of the work, which has just appeared, relates the history of Richard Cromwell and the Restoration. The fourth and concluding part will conduct us to the Revolution of 1688. Between the commencement of the narrative with the reign of Charles I., and its completion with the establishment of William III. on the throne, all the leading principles which have animated mankind were in conflict. Despotism wrestled with democracy, republicanism with monarchy, protestantism with popery, puritanism with the church of England. It was in the throes of this wonderful half-century that our constitution was matured. In the struggles and alternate triumphs of the competing parties men acquired a knowledge of the advantages and defects of the rival systems. Many interests were reconciled, many compromises effected, and the ultimate issue of the fierce and turbulent contests for ascendency was to produce a bappy mixture of authority and freedom. Every fact with M. Guizot has its appropriate significance. He sees with a clear eye the origin of the jarring elements, surveys their conflict from an eminence, and shows the results which grew from the confusion. His guidance is the more valuable, that he has threaded the paths which had been the least trodden by our own historians.
The · Letters and Speeches' of Cromwell, which were difficult to reduce to order, have found an acute and laborious editor in Mr. Carlyle. His worst defect is a want of taste. He bas interpolated the speeches with a number of eccentric ejaculations, such as. Hum-m-m- Verily ?-Whitlocke seen blushing !-No; we are not exactly their darlings,'—all of which would unquestionably have provoked a general cry of • Order,' if they had been uttered at the time, and which do not seem more pertinent by being put into type. The majority of them, to say the truth, are exceedingly puerile ; and it is not easy to understand how a man of his talents can indulge in such whims. His connecting narrative is in many parts able, but much of it is enigmatical from his common practice of hinting at views which he does not condescend to express, and the whole is deformed by what must be called the affectation of his style, however natural it may have become, through habit, to himself. His constant repetition of the same disparaging epithet is both childish and repulsive. He rarely mentions Heath, a royalist writer, without speaking of him as Carrion Heath ;' Noble, the pains-taking biographer of Cromwell, he calls “my reverend imbecile friend,' and the same sort of cynical contempt is incessant throughout the work. In compensation, he admires the crimes as well as the virtues of his hero. He seems to think that the highest order of merit is that of the stern, inflexible man, who goes straightforward to his end, and tramples down with an iron heel wbatever stands in his way,-life, justice, mercy, tenderness, all the finest attributes of humanity. Moderation, compassion, scruples of conscience have no advocate in him. His model is the uncompromising usurper who hewed the throne down to a block,' and waded through slaughter to the vacant seat.
The Lives of the Statesmen of the Commonwealth' is one of Mr. Forster's early works, and is full of the fervour of youthful enthusiasm. He earnestly espouses the parliamentary side, and his attachment to the leaders has even led him to uphold them when they subsequently departed from their own principles. To our thinking, indeed, their inconsistency was very early apparent. Nobody who prefers constitutional to despotic government, and therefore no Englishman, will now deny that the cause of the popular party was, at the commencement, the cause of patriotism; but victory speedily begot excess, and a spirit was raised which the wiser and more disinterested men were unable to lay. Pym, at the impeachment of Strafford, pronounced, in condemnation of the government of the king, a fine panegyric upon obedience to the law. The king was vanquished in his turn; and his opponents paid so little regard to their maxims, that he used to press them with passages from this identical flourish, introduced by the phrase, * as Mr. Pym hath well said.' Dissenting entirely from many of the opinions of Mr. Forster, we must confess that he is peculiarly exact in his facts, and that his Lives' contain an immense amount of invaluable information which he was the first to drag into day. His frequent extracts from
the books and speeches of the time render his work unusually satisfactory to the historical inquirer, and bring vividly before us the very form and spirit of the age. There is no other single authority to which M. Guizot refers so often, and a new edition of these able volumes, with the modifications suggested by age and experience, would be a most important contribution to history.
The great-grandfather of the Protector was a person who is designated in legal documents as Richard Cromwell alias Williams,' and the same alias continued in the family down to the time of Oliver, who sometimes made use of it in his younger days. Two letters are extant addressed by Richard Cromwell to the famous Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, the Vicar-General of Henry VIII., and in both of them he subscribes himself your most bounden nephew. In one of these epistles he expresses his devotion to the service of the Earl, adding as nature and also your manifold kindness bindeth.' To account for the alias of Richard Cromwell, and his relationship to his more celebrated namesake, it has been asserted that his father was a Williams who married the sister of the future Vicar-General, and subsequently called himself after the prosperous house with which he had contracted an alliance. Of this marriage there is no trustworthy evidence, and when Bishop Goodman, in a dedication to the Protector, alluded to his connection with the minister of Henry VIII., Cromwell replied, My family has no relation to his.' The denial is countenanced by the circumstance that a Sir William Williams married one of the daughters of the Lord Cromwell who lived in the reign of Henry VI., and was the last heir male of his line. The conjunction of the names of Williams and Cromwell would be thus explained by a real instead of a doubtful marriage; and the Earl of Essex, whose father was a blacksmith, may have been glad to discover a kinsman in a race of higher lineage than his own, while his ' most bounden nephew -a term said not to have been strictly applied in those days to a brother's or sister's son-may, on his part, have welcomed the claim for the sake of the substantial benefits it was to bring. These he enjoyed in an unusual degree. He was knighted by Henry VIII., and on the suppression of the monasteries, which was the great work of his namesake, received enormous grants of church lands. Among other prizes which fell to his share he obtained the estate and nunnery of Hinchinbrook, near Huntingdon, and here his son, Sir Henry, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, built the present mansion. Sir Henry, called for his riches and liberality the Golden Knight,' died in 1603, and Oliver, the uncle aster whom the Protector was named, became Lord of Hinchinbrook. The year in which he inherited his estate was the same in which James I. succeeded to the English crown, and the King was his guest for two days during the royal progress from Scotland to London. The entertainment was reported to be the most sumptuous which a subject had ever given to his sovereign, and even if the new monarch had been as sparing as he was lavish of his honours, he could not have left the hospitable roof without bidding his host rise up Sir Oliver.
In addition to Sir Oliver the Golden Knight' left five sons and five daughters. It is a singular circumstance that from his children should have
the two most famous leaders in the Great Rebellion, for his second daughter was the mother of Hampden, as his second son, Robert, was the father of the Protector. Another curious circumstance is that Robert married a widow, Mrs. Lynne, whose maiden name was Steward, and who came of the royal race. The fact is now established beyond question that Charles I. and Oliver Cromwell were distant cousins. The Protector certainly did not exaggerate his descent when he said, in a speech to his first Parliament, 'I was by birth a gentleman; living neither in any considerable height, nor yet in obscurity.'
Robert Cromwell settled at Huntingdon, where he had an estate and a brewery. The first, which is computed by Mr. Carlyle to have been equivalent to a thousand a year at the present day, he farmed himself, and the second is reported to have been managed by his wife. Oliver, their fifth child, and the only one of their sons who lived to manhood, was born April 25th, 1599. He was educated at the grammar-school of Huntingdon by Dr. Beard, the author of the Theatre of God's Judgments. The traditions of his boyhood are at best of uncertain truth, and of as little importance. He is alleged to have been forward in robbing orchards and dovecots, and to have loved practical jokes. Unless his character changed greatly in after years he was undoubtedly a lad of spirit, and, being possessed of unbounded daring, was likely to have played whatever pranks are usual among boys. On the 23rd of April, 1616, when he was seventeen years of age, he was entered at SidneySussex College, Cambridge. His father died in June, 1617, and Oliver, now his own master, left the University. The royalists who wrote of him after his death asserted that while he remained he neglected study for foot-ball, quarter-staff, and drinking. Either at school, however, or afterwards, he acquired sufficient Latin to speak it during his Protectorship to foreign ambassadors. This he did, Burnet says, 'very viciously and scantily ;' but to have retained the art at all at the close of a life which had