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upon the words, and blot them out for ever.” The recording pen of man hath no such prerogative.

In vain shall we collect materials, and accumulate archives, and construct curious safes, and build up costly fire-proof halls, if partiality or prejudice shall be permitted to suppress or mutilate records, in order to suit some ideal standard, whether of perfection or of enormity. Better leave the materials of history to the corrosions of time or the chances of the elements, - to the fire, the mould, or the maggot, – than reserve them for the perversions or mutilations of partisan favor or partisan malignity.

The unities of character and conduct belong to the stage. They are rarely found in real life. He that assumes the pen of history may not dress up his characters as for a drama. He may not rouge them, and powder them, and put them into postures and attitudes, as for a tableau. He should account of himself, rather, as of a sacred interpreter between the past and the present, between the dead and the living, and should cherish all the obligations of a sworn witness to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Thus only can he fulfil his great responsibilities to mankind.*

The example of Bacon, deposed from his splendid position, old, weak, ruined, a supplicant for mercy at the very doors of that proud House of Parliament over which he had but now presided,

is worth a hundred sermons against official corruption. And let Sidney's name be coupled with Bacon's in similar ignominy, if it really deserves it, rather than truth should be suppressed, and all our faith in history be destroyed. This, certainly, is not a day, - this is not a country, - ours are not institutions, - in which such examples can be safely winked out of sight, or a general decree of amnesty and impunity be issued for the misdoings of the gifted or the great.

I rejoice, however, in repeating the belief, that the Barillon despatches may all stand, and Sidney's integrity suffer at most from a suspicion, which was never intimated while he lived, which he had thus no opportunity to clear up, and against which the known and acknowledged integrity of his life ought to be an ample shield. Perhaps no higher authority could possibly have been given for dismissing the whole charge as calumnious and unworthy of credit, than that of Francis Horner, one of the purest and best statesmen that England has produced in any age, - whose admirable Biography has just been republished by Little & Brown of this city, and who, in one of his charming letters, describes himself as having recently paid a visit to Sidney's “ shrine at Penshurst and looked upon his image with the raptures of a pilgrim,” and who, in relation to this story of the French bribe, declares unqualifiedly, and almost indignantly, "I do not believe it." *

* Lord Mahon has some excellent general remarks on this subject in his late letter to Mr. Sparks, though I would by no means be understood to assent to the justice of their application.

The life of Sidney draws rapidly to a close. Prevented from returning to the Continent, he now ventured to offer himself as a candidate for Parliament for the borough of Guildford in Surrey, and was strongly supported by our own illustrious William Penn, among others. But the friends of arbitrary government resisted his appeals, made an unlawful attempt to administer oaths to Penn, compelled him to quit the hustings, and succeeded in defeating Sidney. Parliament having soon afterwards been dissolved, and a new one summoned, Sidney was again a candidate for Bamber in Essex, and was again most earnestly supported by Penn. The poll closed with a double return; and, after some examination, his election was declared void in October, 1680. From that time he continued to be the subject of unceasing hostility and persecution. He was charged with being concerned in all sorts of plots against Government, — sham plots and real plots, nonconformist plots, meal-tub plots, and I know not what all; and was even solemnly indicted for being concerned in a riot, on no other ground than that he was seen looking over a balcony to witness an election of sheriffs. Conceiving that he was no longer safe in England, he resolved to return to the Continent, and even purchased a little estate in France, in the name of one of his friends. But he was not destined to enjoy that retirement.

In 1681, he prepared the original draft of an answer to the King's Declaration, justifying his repeated dissolutions of Par

* The force of Horner's testimony is only increased by his suggestion that Sidney was not quite a hero with him, and that he wanted many of the graces and virtues that are necessary for the full perfection of that character.


liament; which, after being revised by Sir William Jones and Lord Somers, was adopted and published. And now, too, he occupied himself in finishing, so far as they were ever finished, those Discourses on Government which Quincy bequeathed to his

But his ardent love of liberty, and his uncompromising detestation of irresponsible and lawless power, would not permit him to confine himself to mere literary pursuits or political studies. Wherever any thing was to be devised, or any thing to be done, for the promotion of civil freedom, Sidney could never suffer himself to be found wanting. A great crisis was manifestly approaching. The arbitrary and licentious domination of the existing monarch was hard enough to be endured, but the immediate prospect of a Papist successor was far more unbearable. “Present fears were less than horrible imaginings.” By all means, by almost any other man, James, the Duke of York, must be excluded, and the dread result averted. If a republic could not quite yet be realized, - if the Prince of Orange were not quite yet ripe for being brought over, — the Duke of Monmouth, who had a strong hold upon the popular heart, must be taken up. Any thing rather than the overthrow of Protestantism at such a moment. Accordingly the Duke of Monmouth, reluctantly and as a last resort, was taken up by Sidney and his friends, and a secret Council of Six was formed to further the cause of his succession.

That Council consisted of the Duke himself, Earl Essex, Hampden, the grandson of the famous John Hampden, Lord Howard of Escrick, William Lord Russell, and Algernon Sidney. And though three out of the six were afterwards brought to the block, and another committed suicide in a fit of melancholy, and a fifth was a false-hearted traitor to the cause and to the men engaged in it, yet it was well and truly said by Hampden, the sixth, who survived in honor, that “the Association which introduced the Prince of Orange into England, and which finally effected the glorious Reformation of 1688, was only a continuation of the Council of Six.” They were the pioneers in preparing the popular heart for that great change, - Sidney and Russell and Hampden being to the Revolution of 1688, what Quincy and Warren and Otis and Henry and the Adamses were to our still more glorious


Revolution of 1775. Their consultations, however, were brought to an untimely end by the discovery of the Rye-House Plot for assassinating the King and his brother, with which they had not the slightest connection, but which was made the pretext for the arrest and arraignment of any one who might be particularly suspicious or obnoxious to the government.

Russell was seized first, and his fate is familiar to everybody. Sidney's turn came next. He was arrested in the King's name, and by order of the Privy Council, while at his dinner table, on the 26th day of June, 1683; his papers were simultaneously seized and sealed up, and after a brief examination, at which not a particle of evidence was procured against him, he was committed close prisoner to the Tower, on a charge of high treason. Subjected to every degree of rigorous restraint and deprivation for a period of four or five months, he was not brought to trial until the 21st of November, having been arraigned on the 7th.

Upon the infamous mockery of justice which this trial exhibited, and the result of which is everywhere regarded as nothing less than a judicial murder, I have no time left to dwell. The brutal Jeffreys -- who would seem to have been elevated to the chief-justiceship for the perpetration of this precise outrage, and whose best excuse for the savage ferocity of his conduct is that he was generally too drunk to know better-presided on the occasion. His impartiality may be inferred from the fact that he openly declared soon after the trial, and while an appeal to the royal clemency was pending, that “ either Sidney must die, or he must die.” A worthy compeer on the bench, Judge Wythins, gave Sidney the lie direct during the trial. Counsel was refused him. A single day's delay, for advisement on a point of law, was denied him. The jury was packed. The witnesses were perjured. The law was perverted. The craven traitor, Lord Howard of Escrick, was the only witness who testified any thing to the purpose, -- a wretch whom Pope might well have had in his mind in that well-remembered distich,

“What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards."

But the law of treason required two witnesses. And it was in order to get round this requisition, and to supply the place of a second witness, that what was undoubtedly the original study, or preparatory Essay, for his Discourses on Government, and which had been found among his papers, was introduced as testimony against him. In vain was it urged that it had been written twenty or thirty years previously, as the color of the ink and the condition of the manuscript abundantly showed, and written, too, in the way of literary or political composition, without reference or allusion to any existing condition of things. It was enough that Sidney had set forth boldly and unequivocally the great doctrines of civil liberty.

“ The argument runs through the book," said Jeffreys, “fixing the power in the people."

«« The general revolt of a nation from its own magistrates can never be called rebellion,” triumphantly responded the clerk of the crown.

“ The power of calling and dissolving parliaments is not in the


“What want we more ?” said the attorney-general. Nothing more was evidently wanted by the jury, who pronounced him guilty in half an hour's time after they had retired, and on the same day on which the trial commenced. Five days afterwards he was brought up for judgment, and, after a vain protest against the course of proceeding, sentence of death was pronounced upon him, with all the dreadful details of hanging, drawing, cutting down alive, mutilating, burning, quartering, — not forgetting the final recommendation of his soul to the God of mercy. Sidney heard the sentence to the end, and then burst forth into this sublime exclamation:

“ Then, O God, O God, I beseech thee, sanctify these sufferings unto me; sanctify me through thy truth; thy word is truth; impute not my blood to this nation; impute it not unto the great city through which I am to be drawn ; let no inquisition be made for it; but if innocent blood must be expiated, let thy vengeance fall only upon the head of those who knowingly and maliciously persecute me for righteousness' sake!”

Here the chief-justice threw in this brutal interruption : “I pray God work in you a temper fit to go into the other world, for I see you are not fit for this.” Sidney, in reply, held out his

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