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EMINENT CHARACTERS

OF THE

ENGLISH REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD.

CHAPTER 1.

INTRODUCTION.

From the days of the “mighty hunter before the Lord” to those of the effeminate Sardanapalus, the metropolis of the world stood where now the Tigris washes the time-honoured mounds of Kalah and Nimroud. Removed from Nineveh to Babylon, and from Babylon to Persepolis, and thence to Alexandria, where the conquering Macedonian made his name, though not his dominion, immortal, we find the seat of universal empire transferred at last to European soil, and rising, in the genial clime of ancient Italy, on the summit of seven hills by the banks of the Tiber.

Nothing more appropriate can be applied to the empire of Rome, than the similitude suggested by

B

the spirit of inspiration to the dreams of the heathen monarch of old. It was partly iron and partly clay --an amalgamation of elements that it was impossible to combine; of a military despotism fitly likened to iron, with a constitution, which, whilst it possessed all the pliability of clay, retained absolutely nothing of its plastic power. Even after ages of dominion, so heterogeneous an empire afforded no insuperable barrier to the tide of hostile emigration setting in from the north. The suicidal policy of an emperor, who, in founding new institutions, desired to be free from old associations, at length transferred the seat of government from the shores of the Tiber to those of the Bosphorus, and in but a comparatively short period, the very forum that of old had responded to the eloquence of Cicero, bore witness to the barbaric dominion of Theodoric.

It is from the fall of imperial Rome that the history of modern Europe must be dated. The Roman empire is not to be confounded with its continuation in Thrace or its restoration in Germany. Whether at Constantinople or at Frankfort, the imperial purple came to be assumed by the descendants of the very barbarians who had destroyed the supremacy, if not the existence, of the people of Rome. The classic nations of Italy speedily disappeared before their Teutonic supplanters; and Europe, re

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