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even enthusiastically attached to the great names of antiquity,; hut they never conceived the wild project of assimilating the government of England to that of Athens, of Sparta, or of Rome. They were content with applying to the English constitution, and to the English laws, the spirit of liberty which had animated, and rendered illustrious, the ancient republicks. Their first object was to obtain redress of past grievances with a proper regard to the individuals who had suffered j the next, to prevent the recurrence of such grievances, by the abolition of tyrannical tribunals acting upon arbitrary maxims in criminal ptoceedings, and most improperly denominated courts of justice. They then proceeded to establish that fundamental principle of all free government, the preserving of the purse to the people and their representatives. And though there may be more difference of opinion upon their proposed regulations in regard to the militia, yet surely, when a contest was to be foreseen, they could not, consistently with prudence, leave the power of the sword altogether in the hands of an adverse party.'
In the concluding part of a delicate disquisition, in which the author exercises the full rights of a subject of a free country, and in the passages which follow it, the mind of Mr. Fox strongly displays itself. Referring to the execution of Charles I., he says,
* If we consider the question of example in a more extended view, and look to the general effect produced upon the minds of men, it cannot be doubted but the opportunity thus given to Charles, to display his firmness and piety, lias created more respect for his memory than it could otherwise have obtained. Respect and pity for the sufferer on one hand, and hatred to his enemies on the other, soon produce favour and aversion to their respective causes; and thus, even though it should be admitted, (which is doubtful,) that someadvantage may have been gained to the cause of liberty, by the terror of the example operating upon the minds of princef, such advantage is far outweighed by the zeal which admiration for virtue, and pity for sufferings, the best passions of the human heart, have excited in favour of the royal cause. It has been thought dangerous to the morals of mankind, even in fiction and romance, to make us sympathize with characters whose general conduct is blameable; but how much greater must the effect be, when in real history our feelings arc interested in favour of a monarch with whom, to say the least, his subjects were obliged to contend in arms for their liberty? After all, however, notwithstanding what the more reasonable part of mankind may think upon this question, it is much to be doubted whether this singular proceeding has not, as much as auy other circumstance, served to raise the character of the English nation in the opinion of Europe ia general. He who has read, and still more lie who has heard in conversation, discussions upon this subject by foreigners, must have perceived, that, even in the minds of those who-condemn the act, the impression made by it has been far more that of respect and admiration, than that of disgust and horrour. The truth is, that the guilt of the action, that is to say, the taking away ef the life of
the King, Is what most men in the place of Cromwell and his associates would have incurred; what there is of splendour and of magnanimity in it, I mean the publicity and solemnity of the act, is what few would he capable of displaying. It is a degiading fact to human nature, that even the sending away of the T)uke of Gloucester was an instance of generosity almost unexampled in the history of transactions of this nature.
4 From the execution of the King to the death of Cromwell, the government was, with some variation of forms, in substance monarchical and absolute, as a government established by a military force will almost invariably be, especially when the exertions of such a force are continued for any length of time. If to this general rule our own age, and a people whom their origin and near relation to us would aln-.ost warrant us to call our own nation, have afforded a splendid and perhaps a solitary exception, we must reflect not only, that » character of virtues so happily tempered by one another, ami so wholly unalloyed with any vices, as that of Washington, is hardly to be found in the pages of history, but that even Washington himself might uot have been able to act his most glorious of all parts, without the existence of circumstances uncommonly favourable, and almost peculiar to the country which was to be the theatre of it. Virtue like his depends not indeed upon time or place; but although in no country or time would he have degraded himself into a Pisistratus, or a Cesar, or a Cromwell, he might have shared the fate of a Cato, or a De Witt; or, like Ludlow and Sidney, have mourned in exile the lost liberties of his country.
* With the life of the Protector almost immediately ended the government which he had established. The great talents of this extraordinary person had supported, during his life, a system condemned equally by reason and by prejudice; by reason, as wanting freedom; by prejudice, as an usurpation; and it mint be confessed to be n-> mean testimony to his genius, that, notwithstanding the radical defects of such a system, the splendour of his character and cvjioit* render the sera of the Protectorship one of the most brilliant in English history. It is true his conduct in foreign concerns, is s:t off to advantage, by a comparison of it with that of tho«.c who preceded, and who followed him. If he made a mistake in esponsing the French interest instead of the Spanish, we should recollect, that in examining this question we must divest our minds entirely of all the considerations which the subsequent relative state of those two empires suggest to us, before we can become impartial judges in it; and at any rate, wc must allow his reign, in regard to European concerns, to have been most glorious when contrasted with the pusillanimity of James the First., with the levity of Charles the First, and the mercenary meanness of the two last Princes of the House of Stuart. Upon the whole, the character of Cromwell must ever stand high in the list of those, who raised themselves to supreme power by the force of their genius; and among such, even in respect of moral virtue, it would be found to be one of the least exceptionable, if it had not been tainted with that most odious and degrading of all human vices, Hypocrisy.'
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The warmth of the tribute which Mr. Fox pays to the memory of De Witt shews how highly he estimated patriotism:
* Besides the important consequences produced by this second Dutch war in England, it gave birth to two great events in Holland; the one as favourable, as the other was disastrous, to the cause of general liberty. The catastrophe of De Witt, the wisest, best, and most truly patriotick minister that ever appeared upon the publick stage, as it was an act of the most crying injustice and ingratitude, so likewise is it the most completely discouraging example, that history affords to the lovers of liberty. If Aristides was banished, he was also recalled: if Dion was repaid for his services to the Syracusans by ingratitude, that ingratitude was more than once repented of: if Sidney and Russel died upon the scaffold, they had not the cruel mortification of falling by the hands of the people: ample justice was done to their memory, and the very sound of their names is still animating to every Englishman attached to their glorious cause. But with De Witt fell also his cause and his party; and although a name so respected by all who revere virtue and wisdom, when employed in their noblest sphere, the political service of the publick, must undoubtedly be doubly dear to his countrymen, yet I do not know that, even to this day, any publick honours have been paid by them to his memory.'
The subsequent passage may serve as a specimen of the fairness which pervades the whole of this performance:
• The measures of the prevailing party in the House of Commons, in these time:1, (CharlesII.) appear, (with the exception of their dreadful proceedings in the business of the pretended plot, and of their violence towards those who petitioned and addressed against Parliament,) to have been, in general, highly laudable and meritorious; and yet I am afraid it may be justly suspected, that it was precisely to that part of their conduct whi«h related to the plot, and which is most rcprehensiblef that they were indebted for their power to make the noble, and in some instances successful, struggles for liberty, which do so much honour to their memory. The danger to be apprehended from military force, being always, in the view of wine men, the most urgent, they first voted the disbanding of the army, and the two Houses passed a bill for that pupose, to which the King found himself obliged to consent. But to the bill which followed, for establishing the regular assembling of the militia, and for providing for their being in arms six weeks in the year, he opposed his royal negative; thus making his stand upon the same point on which his father had done; a circumstance which, if events had taken a turn against him, would not have failed of being much noticed by historians. Civil securities for freedom came to be afterwards considered; and it is to be remarked, that to these times of heat and passion, and to one of those parliaments, which so disgraced themselves and the nation, by the countenance given to Oates and Bedloe, and by the persecution of so many innocent victims, we arc indebted for the Habeas Corpus Act, the moit important barrier against tyranny, and best framed protection for the liberty of individuals, that has ever existed in any ancient or modern commonwealth.' m
In no part of this volume, do the reasoning powers of Mr. Fox appear to more advantage than in his reflections on the Exclusion-bill; which, he tells us,
• Being vigorously resisted by the court, by the church, and by the Tories, was lost in the House of Lords. The restrictions offered by the King to be put upon a Popish succcssour are supposed to have been among the most powerful of those means to which he was indebted for his success.
'The dispute was no longer, whether or not the dangers resulting from James's succession were real, and such as ought to be guarded against by parliamentary provisions; but whether the exclusion, or restrictions, furnished the most safe, and eligible mode of compassing the object which both sides pretended to have in view. The argument upon this state of the question is clearly, forcibly, and, I think, convincingly, stated by Rapin, who exposes very ably the extreme folly of trusting to measures, without consideration o fthe men who arc to execute them. Even in Hume's statement of the question, whatever may have been his intention, the arguments in favour of the exclusion appear to me greatly to preponderate. Indeed it is not easy to conceive upon what principles even the Tories could justify their support of the restrictions. Many among them, no doubt, saw the provisions in the same light in which the Whigs represented them, as an expedient, admirably indeed adapted to the real object of upholding the present King's power, by the defeat of the exclusion, but never likely to take effect for their pretended purpose of controuliog that of his succcssour ; and supported them for that very reason. But such a principle of conduct was too fraudulent to be avowed; nor ought it perhaps, in candour, to be imputed to the majority of the party. To those who acted with good faith, and meant that the restrictions should really take place, and be effectual, surely it ought to have occurred, (and to those who most prized the prerogatives of the crown, it ought most forcibly to have occurred,) that in consenting to curtail the powers of the crown, rather than to alter the succession, they were adopting the greater, in order to avoid the lesser evil. The question, what are to be the powers of the crown, is surely of superiour importance to that of, who shall wear it? Those, at least, who consider the royal prerogative as vested in the King, not for his sake, but for that of his subjects, must consider the one of these questions as much above the other in dignity, as the rights of the public are more valuable than those of an individual. In this view the prerogatives of the crown are in substance and effect the rights of the people; and these rights of the people were not to be sacrificed to the purpose of preserving the succession to the most favoured prince, much less to one who, on account of his religious persuasion, was justly feared and suspected. In truth, the question between the exclusion and restrictions seems peculiarly calculated to ascertain the different views in which the different parties in ,this country have seen, and perhaps . O 3 ever ever will see, the prerogatives of the crown. The Whigs, who con« aider them a3 a trust for the people, a doctrine which the Tories themselves, when pushed in argument, wi\l sometimes admit, naturally think it their duty rather to change the manager of the trust, than to impair the subject of it; while others, who consider them as the right or property of the King, will as naturally act as they would, do in the case of any other property, and consent to the loss or annihilation of any part of it, for the purpose of preserving the remainder to him,, whom they style the rightful owner. If the people be the sovereign, and the King the delegate, it is better to change the bailiff than to injure the farm; but if the King be the proprietor, it is better the farm should be impaired, nay, part of it destroyed, than that the whole should pass over to an usurper. The royal prerogative ought, pecordiug to the Whigs, (not in the case of a Popish successour only, but in all cases,) to be reduced to such powers as are in their exercise beneficial to the .people; and of the benefit of these -they will not rashly suffer the people to be deprived, whether the executive power be in the hands of an hereditary, or of an elected king; of a regent, or of any other denomination of magistrate; while on the other hand, they who consider prerogative with reference only to royalty, will, with equal readiness, consent either to the extension or the suspension of its exercise, a3 the occasional interests of the prince may seem to require. The sennless plea of a divine and indefesible tight in James, which even the legifelature was incompetent to set aside, though as inconsistent with the declarations of Parliament in the Statute Book, and with the whole practice of the English Constitution, as it is repugnant to nature and common ser.se, was yet warmly insisted upon by the high-church party. Such an argument, as might naturally be expected, operated rather to provoke the Wh gs to perseverance, than to dissuade them from their measure: it was, in their eyes, an additional merit belonging to the Exclusion Bill, that it strengthened, by one instance more, the authority of former statutes, in reprobating a doctrine wnich seems to imply, that man can have a property in his fellow creatures. By far the best argument in favour of the restrictions, is the practical one, that they could be obtained, and that the exclusion could not; but the value of this argument is chiefly proved by the event. The Exclusionists had a fair prospect of success, and their plan being clearly the best, they were justified in pursuing it.'
We must here pause for the present; recommending it to our young readers to pay particular attention to the earlj part of the chapter now under examination, but which our confined limits have obliged us to pass over. The striking and original views which are there taken of the former periods of our history, if duly impressed on their minds, will qualify them to contemplate its pages with greater profit and advantage ; and will fix their attention on events which they would probably have overlooked, place others in a more cleaf light, and enable thctn to trace their road amid intricacies