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ÀRT. XVIII. Memoirs of the Life of Col. Hutchins.
son, Governor of Nottingham Castle and Town, Representative of the County of Nottingham in the Long Perliament and of the Town of Nottingham in the First Parliament of Charles II. &'c. With original Anecdotes of many of the most distinguished of his Cotemporaries, and a Summary Review of Public Affuirs. Written by his Widow Lucy, daughter of Sir Allen Apsicy, Lieutenant of the Tower, &c. Now first published froin the Original Manuscript by the Rev. Julius Hutchinson, &c. &c. To which is prefixed the Life of Mrs. Hutchinson, written by Herself, a Fragment. London. Printed for Longman and Co. 1806. 4to.
This is a book of singular interest and indeed importance, of which, though lately published, yet having been written so many years past, the notice in this work will not be out of place. “Surely," observes the Editor, “we risque little in saying that the history of a period the most remarkable in the British annals, written one hundred and fifty years ago by a lady, of elevated birth, of a most comprehensive and highly cultivated mind, herself a witness of many of the scenes she describes, and active in several of them, is a literary curiosity of no mean sort.”
It is indeed the most impressive of all the books on that side of the question, which I recollect to have read. The character of a man of inflexible virtue, actuated solely by the purest principles of patriotism, opVOL. IV.
posing tyranıy without a taint of the hatred of greatness; seeking the post of difficulty and danger without wish for the vanity of rank and honours; a zealous and energetic supporter of his cause; yet frank and discriminative; and free from the virulence, and rant, and prejudices of party, when party raged in its utmost fury, commands such respect and admiration, that we listen to his opinions, and pursue his actions, with feelings of involuntary inclination towards them!
Under the influence of opinions founded on the experience of a series of various and complicated events which have since occurred, I have hitherto thought that had I lived in those times, I should have been a fixed and undoubting Royalist. But perhaps the principles of Col. Hutchinson, as enforced by the arguments and eloquence of his heroic, virtuous, and highlyaccomplished wife, might then have made me hesitate. No rational man can question that the sentiments and conduct of the Monarch and his Ministry, did actually not only threaten, but intrench upon, the just liberties of the people. Some resistance became necessary: circumstances, in which both parties were perhaps to blame, at length caused the scabbard to be thrown away; and from that moment the purest and wisest patriots might think, and perhaps think rightly, that there was no medium between victory and despotism.
It cannot be denied, that they, who taxed Charles I. with insincerity, had strong appearances on their side. Perbaps it resulted from some of the many amiable traits in his character; from that ductility, and diffidence of his own opinions and resolves, which made him a dupe to artful, yet less wise, advisers; but
whether the origin was amiable or unamiable, the effect was equally to be dreaded. A monarch, against whom his subjects have been once driven to resistance, must go out of the contest with too much, or too little power! Had I therefore engaged in that cause, for which Col. Hutchinson's view of it was at least an honest and a generous justification, I think I should have departed from it, as he scenis to have done, a stern Republican!
If it be pleaded that there were many artifices used to inflame the people, and many leaders engaged, whose views were apparently private and selfish; and that these things, which could not escape the notice of a man of sagacity, and virtue, should in his eyes have damned their cause, it may surely be answered, that in the imperfect condition of human affairs, we are not to refuse to seek a paramount gnod, because, in its progress, there may be mingled with it some evil instruments, whose motives or actions are impure! For the same reason a strict Loyalist might have deserted the defence of the Crown, because he must have observed that there were many on the same side, who were actuated by ambition, or love of power, or desire to retain emoluments extorted from the oppression of the people! There must indeed have been something in the cant of the Puritans, and other Sectarists, extremely disgusting to a liberal spirit. But on the other hand, what noble and indignant mind could bear the seoffs, and insults, and tyranny, and injuries, and follies of profligate and abandoned courtiers, the minions of state, raised from obscurity without merit, and fattening in the spoils of the land? 12
Henry VII. had began systematically to break the power of the Fendal Aobility; and the Constitutional check, which they formed, upon the Crowil, was now nearly extinguished. The families of Vere, and Stafford, and Grey, and Hastings, and Clinton, and Stanley, and Percy, and Howard, and others of that stamp, were in poverty or oppression. New lords, sprung from favouritism, or enriched within half a century from the harvest of the Reformation, or just emerged from North of the Tweed, swarmed both in the metropolis, and in every county: Buckingham, and his brothers, and cousins to the fourth degree, shone in a splendour surpassing royalty! But these, as they had Jarely risen from the hot-bed of the regal prerogative, could neither be any controul upon it, nor have any interests or sentiments in common with the people. Necessity, therefore, operating upon the expansion of mind created by navigation and commerce, raised up a spirit and a power in the people themselves to combat and countervail the growing encroachments of the sceptre. To fan this flame, there was intermingled much false enthusiasm, much horrid hypocrisy, much unjust depreciation of well-acquired rank, and much sophistical and half-witted reasoningon natural equality, and the rights of man.
But the collision of the contest struck out also many important truths; and dissipated inany artful or servile prejudices which had long enchained or overawed the intellects of the Commonalty.
At a period so critical, the cowardly or the imbecile alore could remain neutral. A man of stern virtue, who abominated the luxuries and dissipations of courts, and had a head fond of busying itself in all the severe
ingenuity of abstract politics, was exempt from the force of seductions, which, however amiable, must be admitted to operate by other powers than those of reason. To him the splendour of a palace, the imposing dignity of uitles, and all the outward brilliance which surrounds them, put forth their rays ineffectually, Could not such a man, especially if resident in the country, like Col. Hutchinson, as virtuously have embraced the cause of the Parliament as of the King?
The event proved whither the fury of the mob, once roused, will lead : and late' events in a neighbouring kingdom have too fatally confirmed it. Indeed every man of sagacity must at all times have been aware, how dangerous it is to appeal to the passions of the populace. But this is no reason for forbearing such appeal in extreme cases: otherwise, what can stop despotism, when it is inclined, as it too often is, to extend its encroachments beyond endurance? There are some evils, of which in the pursuit of a remedy, we must incur the chance of other evils. In common cases patience may be a virtue; but there are points, at which it becomes a contemptible weakness.
Charles I. was a monarch of many attractive accomplishments, and many virtuous qualities, as Mrs. Hutchinson herself confesses. He was a man, undoubtedly, whose speculative talents were of no com mon order; he drew around him men of genius and literature, and loved, and understood, and patronized the arts; he possessed therefore, for the most part,*
• I have not forgot the exception of Milion, whose praise of Cromwell is row among the best testimonies in his favour.