« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
spicuous and animated diction does not always attain the dignity of history; he hardly ever attempts eloquence, except in the noble and deeply-felt conclusion of his work, a portion of which must be cited, although it is no fair example of his ordinary style:
So that by religion I mean, such a sense of divine truth as enters into a man, and becomes a spring of a new nature within him ; reforming his thoughts and designs, purifying his heart, and sanctifying him, and governing his whole deportment, his words as well as his actions; convincing him that it is not enough, not to be scandalously vicious, or to be innocent in his conversation, but that he must be entirely, uniformly, and constantly, pure and virtuous, animating him with a zeal to be still better and better, more eminently good and exemplary, using prayers and all outward devotions, as solemn acts testifying what he is inwardly and at heart, and as methods instituted by God, to be still advancing in the use of them further and further into a more refined and spiritual sense of divine matters. This is true religion, which is the perfection of human nature, and the joy and delight of every one that feels it active and strong within him: it is true, this is not arrived at all at once; and it will have an unhappy alloy, hanging long even about a good man; but, as those ill mixtures are the perpetual grief of his soul, so it is his chief care to watch over and to mortify them; he will be in a continual progress, still gaining ground upon himself; and as he attains to a good degree of purity, he will find a noble flame of life and joy growing upon him. Of this I write with the more concern and emotion, because I have felt this the true, and indeed the only joy which runs through a man's heart and life: it is that which has been for many years my greatest support; I rejoice daily in it: I feel from it the earnest of that supreme joy which I pant and long for; I am sure there is nothing else can afford any true or complete happiness. I have, considering my sphere, seen a great deal of all that is most shining and tempting in this world : the pleasures of sense I did soon nauseate; intrigues of state, and the conduct of affairs, have something in them that is most specious; and I was for some years, deeply immersed in these, but still with hopes of reforming the world, and of making mankind wiser and better: but I have found that which is crooked cannot be made straight. I acquainted myself with knowledge and learning, and that in a great variety, and with more compass than depth : but though wisdom excelleth folly as much as light does darkness, yet as it is a sore travail, so it is so very defective, that what is wanting to complete it cannot be numbered. I have seen that two were better than one, and that a threefold cord is not easily loosed; and have therefore cultivated friendship with much zeal and a disinterested tenderness; but I have found this was also vanity and vexation of spirit, though it be of the best and noblest sort. So that, upon great and long experience, I could enlarge on the preacher's text, “ Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity,” but I must also conclude with himn; Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the all of man, the whole, both of his duty and of his happiness. I do therefore end all in the words of David, of the truth of which, upon great experience and a long observation, I am so fully assured, that I leave these as my last words to posterity : “ Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good ? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”'
Burnet's reputation as an historian also rests in considerable measure upon another important work, his History of the Reformation in England, published in 1679. This great subject, frequently, variously, and never successfully handled, may some day make a first-class reputation for an historian as yet concealed in the future. That a satisfactory history of it should be written in Burnet's day was impossible, and it was equally impossible that his
work should either exhibit the liveliness, or possess the unique value of his History of his Own Times. The theme is one for a graver and more eloquent historian than he, capable of rising to greater heights, and wielding far more absolute command over the resources of language. Nor can his laborious collections from state papers and former historians rival the importance of his narrative of transactions in which he was a busy actor, full of particulars only to be obtained from himself. With all these inevitable imperfections, bis History of the Reformation is still an excellent book, eminently readable, just and accurate in its broad views, however needing correction on points of detail; and, considering that it was the work of a Scotch Protestant writing in the thick of the Popish Plot, surprisingly candid and impartial. It is of course the work of a partisan, but he who does not feel sufficient interest in the Reformation to be a partisan on one side or the other is not likely to write its history at all, and had better not. Probably no history of the English Reformation has since been written that does not exhibit more party feeling than Burnet's, or that can reasonably claim to supersede it.
Burnet’s History of his Times, as we have seen, may be regarded as a connecting link between history and mémoires pour servir. The age of Charles II. was favourable to this latter class of composition, which is, indeed, the form which the narrators of public transactions in which they themselves have borne a leading part, naturally fall. The period was still more fertile in the diary, which
be defined as the autobiographic memoir in a rudimentary stage. One writer of the day, Samuel Pepys, has placed himself for all time at the head of this class of composition, by an achievement little likely to be repeated. Among memoir-writers proper the most important is Edmund Ludlow, the Cato of the Commonwealth (16171692).
Ludlow, the son of a Wiltshire knight of extreme political views, enlisted at the commencement of the Civil War in the bodyguard of the Earl of Essex, and afterwards highly distinguished himself by his obstinate, though unsuccessful defence of Wardour Castle, in his native county. He was made prisoner, exchanged, and took part in several encounters in the West of England. Elected member for Wiltshire, he sided with the more extreme party, and was one of the king's judges. He became a member of the Council of State, and at the beginning of 1651 was sent to Ireland as second in authority to Ireton, whom he assisted in completing the subjugation of the country, and subsequently filled the same position under Fleetwood. Bitterly opposed to Cromwell's Protectorate, he resigned his civil appointment, but contrived to retain his military position until 1655, when, coming over to England, he was arrested and imprisoned in Beaumaris Castle. When at length he was admitted to an audience of Cromwell, · What,' asked the Protector, can you desire more than you have ?' • That which we fought for,' replied Ludlow, 'that the nation might be governed by its own consent'-words which recall Augereau's repartee to Napoleon on the re-establishment of Roman Catholicism in France. Ludlow was kept under surveillance until the death of Cromwell, when he became exceedingly active, and upon the abdication of Richard Cromwell was sent again to Ireland in a position of authority. Returning, he sought in vain to mediate between the Parliament and the army, and distinguished himself in the Convention Parliament by a vain protest against the Restoration. He fled the country to avoid the vengeance of the new government, and took refuge in Switzerland, where he composed his
memoirs, and abode in comfortable circumstances, although occasionally molested by plots against his life or liberty, until his death in 1692. The Revolution of 1688 had brought him back to England for an instant, but the public feeling against regicides was still too strong, and, returning to his refuge at Vevay, he carved over his door :
Omne solum forti patria quia Patris.'
Ludlow was not one of the greatest or wisest characters of his time, but is one of the most estimable in virtue of his sturdy honesty. He was one of that hopelessly inconsistent class of persons, the believers in the divine right of a republic as the sole form of political institution consistent with reason, who in the same breath assert and take away the nation's right to choose its own form of government by forbidding its exercise unless the form has the allowance of a theory impersonated in themselves. On the principle of popular sovereignty, no form of government could be more legitimate than the Restoration monarchy, which, nevertheless, Ludlow was always seeking to overthrow. Cromwell's title was by no means so clear, and Ludlow's firm resistance to the Protector at the height of his power, if proving his inability to • swallow formulas,' and look solely to the public good, is nevertheless most honourable to his courage and fortitude, If inaccessible to reason, he was even more so to selfinterest. The historical value of his memoirs is very great, especially for the troubled interval between Cromwell's death and the Restoration. Carlyle, Guizot, and Firth unite in following him with implicit confidence when he speaks as an eyewitness, when he relies upon others he is frequently inaccurate and confused. The Memoirs virtually commence with the outbreak of the Civil War, and