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O any one who had watched the proud fabric of Cromwellian government tottering to its fall, it must have seemed as if all the work of Naseby and Worcester had been undone without a battle. The Cavalier armies had been smashed to pieces, had ceased to exist, and yet the cause had triumphed more surely than if Rupert had swept aside the trained bands of Turnham Green, and brought his master in triumph to Whitehall. For then the best that
could have happened to the King would have been to have held down an unwilling people by force of arms; nay, the best men on his own side were but half-hearted in his cause. But now, not only did the King enjoy his own again, but he enjoyed it amid the loyalty of a whole nation. From Berwick to the Lizard, from the North Sea to the Irish Channel, men vied with each other in devotion to the restored monarchy. Parliament was packed with Tantivies, eager for revenge; the bishops were set up again; the men who had killed a king were themselves ripped up and quartered, and there were few to pity them. The New Model was disbanded.
However necessary the Puritan discipline had been, it met with scant gratitude from the nation. All the glories of the Protectorate could not atone for the loss of Merrie England, for the tyranny and strain and bankruptcy of those twenty years. Englishmen were weary to death of Ironside generals and Puritan preachers, and were ready
to acclaim, in a tumult of joy, the coming of a libertine, a foreigner, and a knave. Their relief was expressed by Cowley, in a vision of "the late man who made himself to be called Protector." The poet is transported to a hill in Ireland, commanding a prospect of the three kingdoms, and he bursts out into a lament expressive of that horror of civil war, which had now been burnt into the minds of Englishmen. He cries:
Unhappy Isle, no ship of thine at sea
Was ever tossed and torn like thee."
England is a chaos, a confusion, a Babel, a Bedlamhow can she ever mock at French fickleness? She deserves to be overwhelmed, since she has taken not the heavens, but the winds for her guide, but even now God may save her from destruction for the sake of her royal martyr's prayers.
Then, out of the sea, arises a hideous figure, the incarnation of lawless strength and civil war, the spirit who has for twenty years managed the affairs of the country. This monster, or superman, expounds his gospel in a defence of Oliver, to which Cowley replies by enlarging upon the wickedness of one
" Who thinks it brave
Or great his country to enslave."
He goes on to attack the Protector's Cæsarism, not only on the score of its immorality, but of its want of success. The war with Spain was a ruinous folly, brought on by the fiasco of St. Domingo, and the nation had been reduced thereby to the verge of bankruptcy. We must admit that his diagnosis was correct, the cult of strength was as much part of the Cromwellian as it was to be of the Carlylese creed, for by a strange paradox the Puritans at once tended to enslave and to deify the Human Will.
Dryden's "Astræa Redux" breathes the same spirit as Cowley's essay, and gives the reverse of Clarendon's picture of England before the Civil War. Then the whole
of Europe had been at war while England had enjoyed peace; now, as Dryden put it, though without strict accuracy, all Europe was at peace, while England alone was torn by war. Charles had returned, and with him would come the reign of Saturn and peace. And Clarendon himself, he who was to shape the early fortunes of the new regime, tells us how God in one month has bound up the wounds caused by twenty years of horrible rebellion, carried on by the most wicked men in the world," almost to the desolation of two Kingdoms, and the extreme defacing and deforming of the third." So far from foreboding any decline in national prestige, Clarendon boldly asserts that those two great foreign statesmen, Mazarin and Don Louis de Haro, died "within three or four months with the wonder, if not the agony, of this undreamed-of prosperity."
It might now have seemed as if the Stuart ideal was on the eve of a final victory. So strong was the Tory feeling in the country, so fervent the determination to avoid at all costs any repetition of the Rebellion, that the King's position was, for the time at any rate, impregnable. Had Charles II been such a king as Henry VIII, a strong and energetic Englishman, it is more than probable that he might have carried out " Thorough" after all, for even as it was, after all his errors and crimes, he managed at the end of his reign to govern without a Parliament, and amid the loyalty of his people. Devotion to the sovereign's person had never reached such a height, even in the days of Elizabeth. It had inspired all that was best, all that was most endearing, on the Cavalier side. The tradition is as permanent as that of Guy Fawkes. How many artists, journalists, young ladies, have worshipped the gallant gentleman, with plumed hat and flowing locks, who gets his knighthood on the field of battle, or the fair girl who, at the risk of her life, hides the future Merry Monarch from pursuing Ironsides. Nor are these legends altogether
devoid of foundation. No knight of romance was more chivalrously loyal than Montrose or Sir Edmund Verney; no story of fiction is more thrilling than that of the young officer who brought back the Royal Standard out of the enemy's camp, after Edgehill. Many and many a family had squandered blood and treasure, some were ruined, some, like brave Sir Roger Mostyn, were too poor to live in their own mansions, and had to occupy some humble dwelling until their fortunes were gradually repaired. Loyalty to the King was what had inspired so great sacrifices, it had distinguished these gentlemen from the rebels. That such men, or their sons, should ever, under any circumstances, deviate from their allegiance, might well appear a thing unthinkable, for, as the Cavalier poet sings:
"Loyalty is still the same,
Whether it win or lose the game."
Another potent stimulus to loyalty was the memory of the Martyr King. It is strange that Charles, who during his life had been so cold and unsympathetic, who could pass through the streets of loyal Oxford amid stony silence, should, after his death, have been the object of such passionate devotion. But like Samson, his death harmed his enemies more than his life. The "Eikon Basilike " was one of the most widely read and influential books in our literature, and the dead King's faults were forgotten in his sufferings. Nor, worthless as he was, was his heir altogether unfitted to keep the flame alive. He was the most fascinating of mortals. He knew how to speak just the right word to capture and retain a subject's affection; and even the surly veterans of the New Model were not wholly untouched by the charm of their young King, who rode among them distributing small delicacies. He was no icicle of dignity like his father, nor an object of ridicule like his grandfather. He was able to retain his dignity with a perfect absence of stiffness. To a Quaker who
kept on his hat in the Presence, he would doff his own, remarking that it was only customary for one member of the company to remain covered. When some critical debate was proceeding in the Lords, he would sit there by the fire, petting his spaniels, or jesting with those around him. He was a familiar object to his subjects, feeding the ducks in St. James' Park, or perhaps playing Pall Mall, in the place which has preserved the name long after the game has been forgotten. Englishmen are fonder, in ordinary times, of a merry monarch than of a good one.
But all this promise was marred by the fatal defect which was, ere long, to drive the restored House from a naturally devoted nation, and to turn Cavaliers and the very Churchmen into rebels. The seed of ruin had been planted long since by the fumbling hand of James I, and it was to bear sure and bitter fruit. The splendid alliance, which had been the work of James, and to accomplish which Charles I had cheated and embittered his first Parliament, was the curse of the Stuart line. The new King and his brother were Frenchmen, with foreign sympathies and a foreign religion.
The old Tory had often let personal loyalty interfere to a dangerous extent with his love of England. To serve their country under Oliver was a thing few of them. would do, and to plot for Oliver's assassination, one from which some of the best of them did not shrink. But they did sincerely believe that the country was being ruined by the Puritans, and that the King's return was the one thing which could save it. This is the whole gist of Clarendon's History, and he, in his way, loved England very dearly, and was heartbroken when a shameful sentence banished him for a second and last time. On no point was the average English gentleman more sensitive than upon his religion. He hated a canting Dissenter, who was probably a rebel into the bargain, but he joined with the Dissenter in his hatred of the Papacy. This had