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POLITICAL THEORISTS OF THE ENGLISH COMMONWEALTH.
“ Great men have been among us : hands that penned
And tongues that uttered wisdom, better none :
TO THE LORD-GENERAL CROMWELL.
Of certain of these great names we we must not crowd it with unnecessapropose, in the following paper, to re- ry circumstances. As we have a vive the memory, and attempt a char- good deal to say about Milton's assoacteristic sketch. The era of the Pro- ciates, we must refrain from saying tectorate, perhaps the most exciting more of him; and leave the name of period in English history, may also be the noblest English patriot and greatregarded as an epoch in political writ- est universal poet, after quoting one of ing. The minds of men about that his grandest sonnets, which contains time began to be turned, almost of ne- fine historical painting and more processity, to examining the original of found sagacity than some professed all right, and the abstract principles of statesmen would crowd into a pamgovernment. Speculative philosophers phlet : and active politicians, both exerted their abilities, either in framing ideal commonwealths or in advocating certain political doctrines that were then “ Cromwell, our chief of men, who through hotly discussed. From this active col
a cloud lision of minds were produced the Not of war only, but detractions rude, standard authorities of the statesman, Guided by faith, and matchless fortitude, and the text-books of the philosopher, To peace and trust thy glorious way hath
--the noble popular defences and truly And on the neck of crowned fortune proud democratic addresses of Milton, com
Hast rear'd God's trophies, and his work bining Homeric fire and Socratic wisdom with the stern dignity of Stoicism: While Darwen stream with blood of Scots
pursued, the slighter, but not less patriotic, ap imbued, peals of his friend Marvel: the “ Dis- And Dunbar field resounds thy praises courses” of Algernon Sidney: the loud, “ Oceana” of Harrington. The writ- And Worcester's laureat wreath. Yet much ings of Milton are by much the best remains known of these, owing, in no incon- To conquer still; Peace hath her victories siderable degree, to the fame his poeti- No less renown'd than war; new foes arise cal genius had procured for him. “It is Threat'ning to bind our souls with secular to be lamented, however, that they are
chains: not still more widely known. In this Help us to save free conscience from the country they should be studied with paw zeal by those who remember the noble of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their exertions made by other great English minds and admirable authors, at the MARVELL was Milton's near friend and struggle of our own Revolution-exer- great admirer, his fellow Latin-Secretions of which we have a traditional tary to Cromwell. He was a perfect reverence, and a traditional remem- Aristides, equally eminent as a pabrance, in the speeches of Chatham triot, a partisan, and a politician. The and his noble compeers,—and exertions three characters in him naturally that produced such classic works as merged into one. He loved his counthe great speech of Burke and the try sincerely; he devotedly adhered to caustic pamphlet, “ Common Sense." the popular party; and he was con
Milton is more accessible than the stantly engaged in public affairs. His other republicans we have undertaken poetic reputation, which sank with his to invoke; and as our canvas is limited, political party, has again revived. Re
RETURN FROM IRELAND.
searches into the history of the civil
Nor in the shadows sing half-dozen choice copies of verse, fan
His numbers languishing. ciful, tender and musical; and one fine
'Tis time to leave the books in dust, poem, that we shall extract presently.
And oil the unused armor's rust; Most of his poetical attempts come
Removing from the wall under the general rank of political
The corslet of the hall. squibs, intended to point a rebuke or enliven a piece of scandal; they are So restless Cromwell could not cease local and temporary. Too much of his In the inglorious arts of peace, prose also might be criticised in simi But through adventurous war lar terms, consisting of pamphlets and Urgéd his active star; addresses to his constituents. Marvell, though an inflexible patriot, and one of
And like the three-fork'd lightning, first the purest of men, was no philosopher,
Breaking the clouds wherin it nurst, discovered no new principle, and has
Did through his own side originated no political maxim of last
His fiery way divide. ting importance.
He was more fitted for action than For 'tis all one to courage high, for speculation. For twenty years he
The emulous, or enemy;
And with such to enclose represented the town of Kingston-upon
Is more than to oppose. Hull, and during an active life held several offices of importance. Marvell first became acquainted with Mil
Then burning through the air he went,
And palaces and temples rent; ton in Italy, where the bard of Para
And Cæsar's head at last dise was filling his mind with ideas
Did through his laurels blast. and images for his glorious epic. We believe, by his influence, or at all events
'Tis madness to resist or blame through the mediation of a friend, he
The face of angry Heaven's flame; was appointed tutor to Cromwell's
And, if we would speak true, nephew, which was the stepping-stone
Much to the man is due, to future advancement. But this elegant wit owed less to patronage than to the love of his townsmen. In Hull,
Who from his private gardens, where
He lived reserved and austere, he was an universal favorite, and re
(As if his highest plot ceived many marks of public regard.
To plant the bergamot,) He was the last political pensioner we read of; we mean the last politician who received for his parliamentary
Could hy industrious valor climb
To ruin the great work of time, services an annual acknowledgment
And cast the kingdoms old after retirement from the House. Mar
Into another mould ! vell was the friend of Harrington, and pronounced by Rochester the Cory
Though justice against fate complain, phæus of court wits, a man of true wit
And plead the ancient rights in vainhimself. He was, also, a great favor But those do hold or break, ite with Charles II., gaining that mo As men are strong or weak. narch's heart by his elegant manners and lively conversation. Numerous
Nature, that hateth emptiness, advances were made to him by the
Allows of penetration less, royalists, but he was incorruptible. It And therefore must make room is unnecessary to repeat the famous Where greater spirits come. anecdote, which displays in so strong a light both the systematic bribery of What field of all the civil war, the day, and his perfect integrity. We Where his were not the deepest scar ? take the liberty of inserting instead, And Hampton shows what part Marvell's fine ode upon Cromwell : He had of wiser art;
Nor called the gods, with vulgar spite,
But thou, the war's and fortune's son, To vindicate his helpless right;
March indefatigably on ;
And, for the last effect,
Still keep the sword erect.
Besides the force it has to fright
The spirits of the shady night, The capitol's first line,
The same arts that did gain
A power, must it maintain,"
This is a noble eulogy-equal to And yet in that the state
Cowley's prose flattery; and so nearly Foresaw its happy fate.
equal, that we find it difficult to settle
the point of precedence. When both are, And now the Irish are ashamed
of their kind, equally good, perhaps To see themselves in one year tamed; the diviner character of poetry should So much one man can do,
decide the predominance. The mere That does best act and know.
music of Marvell's ode may alone, perThey can affirm his praises best,
haps, give it a superiority. And have, though overcome, confest
HARRINGTON had a natural feeling for How good he is, how just,
politics, and was a republican in his And fit for highest trust.
very nature. His education refined and
courtly, his natural sympathies were all Nor yet grown stiffer by command,
on the side of the people. The queen But still in the Republic's hand, of Bohemia, a strong admirer of our How fit he is to sway
philosopher, was bred in his father's That can so well obey.
family,-at least, there she was educat
ed during her early years,—but neither He to the Commons' feet presents that circumstance, nor a strong personal A kingdom for his first year's rents, affection for Charles I., would allow him And, what he may, forbears
to change a principle, or quench the His fame to make it theirs.
instinctive bias of his disposition. At And has his sword and spoils ungirt,
the commencement of his career, HarTo lay them at the public's skirt;
rington affected a turn for poetry, but, So when the falcon high
like many others, (Paley is an instance), Falls heavy from the sky,
who have excelled in solid pursuits,
his genius was unfitted for the lighter She, having killed, no more does search departments of composition. Of this he But on the next green bough to perch,
was advised by an intimate friend, who Where when he first does lure,
pointed out the true line of his purThe falconer has her sure.
suit and urged him to adopt it. The
son of a nobleman, his first entrance What may not then our isle presume,
into life was in the character of courWhile victory his crest does plume ? tier. At the age of thirty-five he was What may not others fear,
one of the gentlemen of his Majesty's If thus he crowns each year ?
bed-chamber. He had a sincere affec
tion for the king, who loved his com- the Divines would have it an inch pany, but could not endure to hear of above virtue, we fall an ell below it." Harrington's favorite Commonwealth. The name of ALGERNON SIDNEY is They had, notwithstanding, many one hallowed by the noblest exertions, discussions together of government, ending in martyrdom, in the cause of though we may naturally expect the liberty. Justly and with an honest arbitrary will of the monarch could ill enthusiasm might Wordsworth exstomach the independent notions of his claim, in one of his noble sonnets dedicompanion. On the scaffold, Harring- cated to Liberty, ton attended the king, and grieved greatly at his death.
“ Ungrateful country, if thou e'er forget The “Oceana," which Hume, in a The sons who for thy civil rights have long critical essay, allows to be the bled! most practicable of all imaginary re- How like a Roman, Sidney bowed his head.” publics, and which in many respects resembles our own, is the principal Sidney realizes our idea of Brutus, work of the author. It made many whom he took for his model. The same proselytes, who formed a sort of politi- irascible temper, a similar devotion cal junto, that met regularly at a to liberty, the same contempt of death noted coffee-house kept by one Miles. distinguish the two patriots. Though The conversation was almost wholly most zealous for a commonwealth, he political, as might be expected from must not be confounded with the dethe objects of the society, which includ- voted adherents of Cromwell, for he ed Cyriack Skinner and other leading became a strong enemy of the Protecmen. Representation and rotation are tor on his assumption of supreme powthe main features of Harrington's er. Like the admirers of Napoleon the plan ; the ballot decided all discus. First Consul, but the determined opposions; to remedy the evil of senators nents of Napoleon the Emperor, he for life, he introduced a maxim that left Cromwell, when he thought he no magistrate should hold his office for a saw his ambition predominating over longer period than three years. The his regard to public good. From his whole House was newly organized earliest years Sidney was imbued with once every
years, a third part of republican principles, almost romantic the Senators going out every three in their scope and tendency; and on the years. All England was mapped out scaffold, though denying to the last the into representative districts. Altogether, justice of his sentence, he delighted to his plan was in most respects rational suffer for the“ good old cause.” Though and clear.
appointed one of the judges who conIn 1660, he was confined by his demned Charles I., for some reason or friends, having contracted a peculiar other he was not present, nor did he species of madness, in which he was sign the death-warrant. Shortly after, generally mild and rational, but enter- he was appointed a captain in the tained a strange fancy, that his natural Parliamentary army ; but after the perspiration turned into flies and bees. nomination of Cromwell to the ProIn his political career, he latterly ran tectorate, he threw up his commission, into fanaticism and became a severe and would receive no employment from censurer of Cromwell. He died, 1667. him, or his son Richard. Under the Among his friends he numbered L'Es- Parliament, which assumed the powtrange, who became notorious about ers of the government on the retirethis time by his virulent pamphlets, ment of the Protector's successor, and Marvell, who wrote a fine epi- Sidney was sent as a commissioner to taph upon him. This slight sketch of Sweden, to mediate in a negotiation Harrington, which we abstract from old between that nation and Denmark. Aubrey's entertaining account, could From this he soon after returned, and on not be concluded more fitly, than by the Restoration passed over to France. recalling a celebrated saying of_his, Here he remained until an act of obliv. full of practical wisdom. “Right Rea- ion sheltered him from the royal disson in contemplation, is virtue in ac- pleasure, upon which he returned to his tion, et vice versa. Vivere secundum native country. In England, his active naturam, is to live virtuously; the Di- mind kept him busy in agitating politivines will not have it so; and where cal schemes and discussing points of
policy. At Penshurst, celebrated as the he was made Lord Protector. He had family seat of the Sidneys, he com- studied the history of government in posed his Discourses upon Govern- all its branches, beyond any man I ment. Upon these his reputation as a
ever knew." political writer depends. The senti One author, who was of the same ments they contain are purely republi- cast as Sidney and Harrington, but can, drawn from the most enlightened who, living later, can hardly be classed historical reflections; and as for his as a contemporary and a commonstyle, we have the eulogium of Cole- wealth man, remains to be mentioned-ridge, who speaks of him as disclosing ANDREW FLETCHER of Saltoun, a Scotch the gentleman in every
republican. He is chiefly known to His trial and execution appear with general readers, as the author of that out any sufficient ground of justice, and saying, “Give me the making of a must be ascribed to a desire to crush nation's ballads, and let who pleases one of the noblest spirits of his time; make the laws.” He was singular in and were almost as flagrant as the another respect, as a patriot, hating trial and execution of the admirable the English as much as Dr. Johnson Lord Russell. It is possible, however, did the Scotch; and warmly opposed that mistaken ardor may have led him to the union. His personal character into intrigues, at the consequences of was admirable, with the exception of which his soul would naturally have great irascibility; and this appears a revolted, had he seen them with a defect common to all partizans, of temperate eye. His character has which all the great men we have menbeen drawn by Burnet, with such ac- tioned had a large share, unless, percuracy of coloring, as 10 supersede haps, Marvell be excepted. This heat the necessity, if it did not rebuke the of disposition is fed by the warmth presumption, of a new portrait. “He of discussion, and invariably accomwas,” says the Bishop, “a man of panies that sanguine temper and ardent most extraordinary courage; a steady genius which in the first instance inman even to obstinacy; sincere, but of cline a man to embrace republican a rough and boisterous temper that principles. could not bear contradiction. He In future papers, we meditate an seemed to be a Christian, but in a account of the rise and history of poliparticular form of his own; he thought tical pamphletering in England, which it was to be like a divine philosophy commenced with L'Estrange, and a in the mind: but he was against all catalogue raisonnée' of the most emipublic worship, and everything that nent Poets who have been deeply occulooked like a church. He was stiff to pied in politics. Both topics grow out all republican principles; and such an of the one we have just left, but deenemy to everything that looked like serve more than a mere supplementary monarchy, that he set himself in a notice. high opposition against Cromwell when
WEALTH, FAME, LOVE, AND TRUTH.