« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
not possible for such not to discern it. There was once, in the House of Commons, such a declared acceptation of the good service an eminent member had done to them, and, as they said, to the whole kingdom, that it was moved, he being present, "That the speaker might, in the name of the whole house, give him thanks, and then that every member might, as a testimony of his particular acknowledgment, stir or move his hat towards him; the which (though not ordered) when very many did, the lord Falkland (who believed the service itself not to be of that moment, and that an honourable and generous person could not have stooped to it for any recompence) instead of moving his hat, stretched both his arms out, and clasped his hands together upon the crown of his hat, and held it close down to his head; that all men might see, how odious that flattery was to him, and that very approbation of the person, though at the same time most popular.
When there was any overture, or hope of peace, he would be more erect, and vigorous, and exceedingly solicitous to press any thing which he thought might promote it; and sitting among his friends, often after a deep silence, and frequent sighs, would, with a shrill and sad accent, ingeminate the word Peace, Peace; and would passionately profess," that the very agony of the war, and the view of the cala
mities and desolation the kingdom did and must en dure, took his sleep from him, and would shortly break his heart. This made some think, or pretend to think, "that he was so much enamoured of peace, that he would have been glad the king should have bought it at any price; which was a most unreasonable calumny. As if a man that was himself the most punctual and precise in every circumstance that might reflect upon conscience or honour, could have wished the king to have committed a trespass against either. And yet this senseless scandal made some impression upon him, or at least he used it for an excuse of the daringness of his spirit; for at the leaguer before Gloucester, when his friend passionately reprehended him for exposing his person unnecessarily to danger, (for he delighted to visit the trenches, and nearest approaches, and to discover what the enemy did) as being so much beside the duty of his place, that it might be understood rather to be against it, he would say merrily, "that his office could not take away the privileges of his age; and that a secretary in war might be present at the greatest secret of danger; but withal alledged seriously, "that it concerned him to be more active in enterprises of hazard, than other men; that all might see, that his impatience for peace proceeded not from pusillanimity, or fear to adventure his own person.
In the morning before the battle, as always upon action, he was very cheerful, and put himself into the first rank of the lord Byron's regiment, then advancing upon the enemy, who had lined the hedges on both sides with musketeers; from whence he was shot with a musket, in the lower part of the belly, and in the instant falling from his horse, his body was not found till the next morning; till when, there was some hope he might have been a prisoner; though his nearest friends, who knew his temper, received small comfort from that imagination. Thus fell that incomparable young man, in the four-andthirtieth year of his age, having so much dispatched the true business of life, that the eldest rarely attain to that immense knowledge, and the youngest enter not into the world with more innocency: whosoever leads such a life, needs be the less anxious upon how short warning it is taken from him.
He was one of those men, quos vituperare ne ini-· mici quidem possunt, nisi ut simul laudent; whom his very enemies could not condemn without commend ing him at the same time: for he could never have done half that mischief, without great parts of cou
rage, industry, and judgment. He must have had a wonderful understanding in the natures and humours of men, and as great a dexterity in applying them; who from a private and obscure birth, (though of a good family) without interest or estate, alliance or friendship, could raise himself to such a height, and compound and knead such opposite and contradictory tempers, humours, and interests into a consistthat contributed to his designs, and to their own destruction; whilst himself grew insensibly powerful enough to cut off those by whom he had climbed, in the instant that they projected to demolish their own building. What was said of Cinna may very justly be said of him: Ausum eum quæ nemo auderet bonus, perfecisse quæ à nullo, nisi fortissimo, perfici possent. He attempted those things which no good man durst have ventured on; and atchieved those in which none but a valiant and great man could have succeeded. Without doubt, no man with more wickedness ever attempted any thing, or brought to pass what he desired more wickedly, more in the face and contempt of religion, and moral honesty; yet wickedness as great as his could never have accomplished those designs, without the assistance of a great spirit, an admirable circumspection and sagacity, and a most magnanimous resolution.
When he appeared first in the parliament, he seemed to have a person in no degree gracious, no orna
ment of discourse, none of those talents which use to conciliate the affections of the stander by: yet as he grew into place and authority, his parts seemed to be raised, as if he had had concealed faculties, till he had occasion to use them; and when he was to act the part of a great man, he did it without any in decency, notwithstanding the want of custom.
After he was confirmed and invested protector by the humble petition and advice, he consulted with very few upon any action of importance, nor communicated any enterprise he resolved upon, with more than those who were to have principal parts in the execution of it; nor with them sooner than was absolutely necessary. What he once resolved, in which he was not rash, he would not be dissuaded from, nor endure any contradiction of his power and authority; but extorted obedience from them who were not willing to yield it.
To conclude his character, Cromwell was not so far a man of blood, as to follow Machiavel's method; which prescribes, upon a total alteration of government, as a thing absolutely necessary, to cut off all the heads of those, and extirpate their families, who are friends to the old one. It was confidently reported, that in the council of officers, it was more than once proposed, "That there might be a general massacre of all the royal party, as the only expędient to secure the government, but that Cromwell