Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Lord President in the name of the Court, addressed himself to the Prisoner, acquainting him," That the Commons of England assembled in parliament, being deeply sensible of the evils and calamities that had been brought upon this nation, and of the innocent blood that had been spilt in it, which was fixed upon him as the principal author of it, had resolved to make inquisition for this blood, and according to the debt they did owe to God, to justice, the kingdom, and themselves, and according to that fundamental power that rested, and trust reposed in them by the People, other means failing through his default, had resolved to bring him to tryal and judgment, and had therefore constituted that Court of Justice, before which he was then brought, where he was to hear his charge, upon which the Court would proceed according to justice."

• Hereupon, Mr. Cooke, Sollicitor for the Commonwealth, standing within a bar, with the rest of the Council for the Commonwealth on the right hand of the Prisoner, offered to speak ; but the Prisoner, having a staff in his hand, held it up, and softly laid it upon the said Mr. Cooke's shoulder two or three times, bidding him hold; nevertheless, the Lord President ordering him to go on, Mr. Cooke did according to the order of the Court, to him directed, in the name and on the behalf of the People of England, exhibit a charge of High 'Treason, and other High Crimes, and did there with accuse the said CHARLES Stuart, King of England; praying in the name, and on the behalf aforesaid, that the charge might be accordingly received and read, and due proceedings had thereupon; and accordingly preferred a charge in writing, which being received by the Court, and delivered to the Clerk of the Court, the Lord President, in the name of the Court, ordered it should be read.'--pp. 74, 75.

[blocks in formation]

• The Prisoner, while the charge was reading, sat down in his chair, looking sometimes on the High Court, and sometimes on the galleries, and rose again, and turned about to behold the guards and spectators, and after sate down looking very sternly, and with a countenance not at all moved, till these words, viz. CHARLES STUART to be a tyrant, traytor, etc., were read; at which he laughed as he sate in the face of the Court.

• The charge being read, the Lord President, in the name of the Court, demanded the Prisoner's answer thereto.

* But the Prisoner declining that, fell into a discourse of the late treaty in the Isle of Wight, and demanded, “By what lawful authority he was brought from the isle thither ?” upbraiding the Court with many unlawful authorities in the world, instancing in robbers and takers of purses, pleading his kingship, and thereby a trust committed to him by God, by descent, which he should betray, together with the liberties of the People, in case he should answer to an unlawful power, which he charged the Court to be, and that, “ they were raised by an usurped power ;” and affirmed, that “ He stood more for the liberties of the People, than any of the Judges there sitting,” and again demanded, “by what authority he was brought thither ?”

• To which it was replied by the Court, “ That had he been pleased to have observed what was declared to him by the Court, at his first coming, and the charge which he had heard read unto him, he might have informed himself by what authority he was brought before them; namely, by the authority of the Commons of England, assembled in Parliament, on the behalf of the People of England:” and did therefore again several times advise hiin to consider of a better answer; which he refused to do, but persisted in his contumacy. Whereupon, the Court at length told him, that, “ they did expect from him a positive answer to the charge;" affirming their authority, and giving him to understand, that “they were upon God's and the kingdom's errand, and that the peace stood for, would be better had and kept when justice was done, and that was their present work ;” and advised him seriously to “ consider what he had to do at his next appearance; which was declared should be upon Monday following, and so remanded him to his former custody.

• The Prisoner, all the time having kept on his hat, departed, without shewing any respect to the Court; but, going out of the bar, said, " He did not fear that bill;" pointing to the table where the sword and charge lay.

"The Prisoner being withdrawn, three proclamations were made, and the Court adjourned itself to the Painted Chamber on Monday morning then next, at nine of the clock; declaring, that from thence they intended to adjourn to the same place again.'-pp, 79, 80.

We learn from this Journal a number of particulars in regard to the attendance of the members of the court, which deserve to be noted. The Commissioners, appointed by the House of Commons, amounted to 135; but of these 47 do not appear to have ever been present at any sitting of the court. Only between fifty and sixty can be considered as having given a tolerably regular attendance-among whom may be particularly mentioned Cromwell, Ireton, Lord Grey of Groby, Harrison, and Ludlow. The fullest meeting of the court was on the 23d, the day of the King's third appearance at the bar, when seventy-one Commissioners were present,--seventy having been present on the preceding day. Sixtyeight took their seats on the 27th, the day on which the sentence was pronounced ; and only fifty-nine subscribed the warrant of execution. These facts are sufficient, we suspect, to shew that the business the commission was appointed to perform, was not a popular one, or even very generally acceptable to those to whom it was especially given in charge. If the Revolution of 1648, however, was but the work of a faction, the same may be said of almost every other revolution recorded in history. The great body of the people are, on these occasions, generally disposed in their hearts in favour of things as they are, and seldom lend their aid to the few active and commanding spirits who are the real authors of the new arrangements, in any other way than by a passive acquiescence in what they are too timid or too indolent to oppose. In our own country in particular, had the nation been polled previous to each of the great political changes which have marked our progress as a people, it may be safely affirmed that the question would have been carried, and that by a mighty majority, against one and all of them. The bringing over of the Normans, the Reformation, the Revolution of 1688, the Union with Scot

in

land, the settlement of the succession in the House of Hanover, the Union with Ireland, are all so many memorable events in our annals, each of which may be as truly described to have been the work of faction, as even that extraordinary convulsion which, the middle of the 17th century, brought the monarch to the scaffold, and soon after lifted the boldest and ablest of his subjects to the vacant throne.

The most important document which Mr. Fellowes has reprinted, in relation to the times of the Commonwealth, is entitled, “ A Catalogue of the Lords, Knights, and Gentlemen, that Compounded for their Estates,” (between 1640 and 1659). It was compiled by a person named Thomas Dring, and first published in 1655—but, although it went through more than one edition, has now become a very rare work. It contains above three thousand names—but, probably, does not comprehend nearly the whole number of those who compounded. The sum affixed to each, as taken from the books of the committees of sequestration, is also said to be, in most cases, considerably under the amount actually levied. Among those who appear to have been most heavily mulcted, we observe Lord Cholmondeley ; R. Culm, of Cannon Leigh, Devon, Esq.; Lord Cambden; C. Cockaine, of Rushton, Northumberland, Esq.; Sir Gervas Clifton, of Clifton, Nottinghamshire; Lord Kingston ; and Earl Thanet; each of whom is recorded to have paid from 70001. to 90001. There are no others in the list, however, charged quite so high-and in many cases the sums recorded are exceedingly trifling. The money ascertained to have been raised in this way, amounts altogether to 1,305,2991. 4s. 7d. The whole revenue of the Commonwealth from 1640 to 1659, is stated to have been 96,608,3931. 17s. 8}d.; but the sunimation from which this result is obtained, is one on which, we apprehend, little or no dependance can be placed. Indeed, it appears to us, that Mr. Fellowes has jumbled together, in one account, the different items of both the income and the expenditure of the government, in order to make up his ninety-six millions. Among the items composing this sum, we find such entries as "The Armies,' * For Defence of Parliamentary Counties,' Charge of Justice, Gifts to the Saints,' &c., all of which, we imagine, must refer to expenditure; and yet, he unaccountably includes the sums affixed to them in an account which is, in other respects, a statement of the produce of the different sources of the revenue.

We are confirmed in this view of the matter by the language (as quoted in another part of the volume), of the very authority to whom he seems to have been indebted for the information he gives on the subject, which expressly states the money raised during the period in question to have been, not ninety-six millions, but only about forty-five millions and a half. The subtraction from Mr. Fellowes's account of what seems to come under the head of expenditure, will just leave us about this latter sum.

[ocr errors]

One of the chief attractions of the publication consists in its numerous lithographic embellishments, which are, in general, uncommonly well executed. We would mention, in particular, the heads of Queen Henrietta Maria, Charles I. as seated at his trial, Oliver Cromwell, and the Earl of Strafford, as very successful specimens of the art. The fac-similes of letters and other writings, with which it presents us, are not, however, we suspect, to be always implicitly relied upon, appearing as they do to have been taken by persons ignorant of the language they were copying, and not, therefore, conveying in every case what we may call the expression of the original hand-writing, even when they seem to represent the lines of which it is composed, with a tolerable fidelity. The volume, indeed, which in regard to both its embellishments and its typography, is a Parisian production, betrays its foreign origin throughout, by so many inaccuracies, arising evidently from that circumstance, as to detract very considerably from the value of the reprints for which its meritorious compiler has in other respects entitled himself to so much of our gratitude.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Art. III.-A Comparative View of the Social Life of England and

France, from the Restoration of Charles II. to the French Revolution. By the Editor of Madame Du Deffand's Letters. 8vo. pp. 462.

London: Longman. 1828. It would be difficult to find, in the whole range of subjects on which intellectual ingenuity can be employed, a more interesting one than that introduced by the work before us. The state of society is another expression for the happiness or misery, the morality or vice, of myriads of individuals. It comprehends the characters of thousands in the general idea of humanity, and their interests in that of an entire, undivided commonwealth. The explanation of its meaning, in all its various bearings, carries the mind into a vast field of inquiry; and the full understanding of it, is an introduction to the most important branches of moral and political science. The want of just views upon the different causes which affect the social system, is the most fruitful source of all the errors and follies into which the powerful and influential members of the community fall, when legislating for its various classes. Education is hence perverted in its most necessary operations; wealth is estimated according to a false moral arithmetic, and the force of the community employed on objects which are either unattainable, or if attainable, answer none of the important ends of social life. Let the real causes be studied which, from time to time, agitate to its foundations the fabric of society; let it be discovered to what we are to attribute the existing state of manners in a kingdom; the spirit of learning which imbues all its people with a certain liveliness and inquisitiveness of character; the contrary one of sensuality, which characterises a nation by its

[ocr errors]

unprogressive, but steady, overwhelming force; or the speculative boldness, and irritability of a commercial people ; let the causes which successively give birth to these characteristic qualities of different nations, and different periods, be carefully traced, and data will be discovered for the most comprehensive and the most important propositions in the science of social government.

The difficulties of this study are many and various, and there are not many minds either endowed with sufficient patience, or possessing the logical acuteness which it requires. Though society be an aggregate of individuals, it is not by the means through which we acquire a knowledge of individual character, that its state, or fluctuations, can be discovered. The mineralogist may break a fragment from a large mineral mass, and confidently presume and examine it as a specimen of the whole. Whatever he learns of the fragment, he knows of the mass; and the results of his examination will be as sure as if he had the rock before him from which the specimen was broken. And if mankind, under the general terms which are made use of to designate large assemblies, were as uniformly the same in the properties of their constitution, the same use might be made of individuals in the study of society, as of specimens in the study of mineralogy. But this is not the case, and we are inclined to believe that the imperfect views which are taken of society, result from a radical mistake in the manner of conducting the inquiry. The greater number of reasoners on the subject form their opinions of society from the condition of a few individuals, whereas the general state of society should be learnt, its average prosperity and morality, to give us a probable notion of the condition of individuals, both known and unknown.

There are but a very few men in every nation, whose opinions are strictly their own; and it is these few deep thinkers only, whose minds are not entirely dependent for support on those with whom they are associated. The rest are moulded by their relative position, cut by impulses received entirely from without, and are only intent upon internal objects. They receive impressions from every thing which passes before them, and if the impression be sufficiently strong, it is reflected upon other minds equally susceptible, and subjected to circumstance. It hence results, that not merely what is termed public opinion, but the idea of good, the notions of comfort and enjoyment, the standard of morality and honor are in each man's mind composed of notions which he would, in all probability, never have possessed, had he been left to the independent conclusions of his reason. That this would have been the case, we have good reason to suppose, from seeing that the few who think much, seldom or never place their desires on the objects which the great mass of mankind pursue; and that they as seldom conform to their habits and customs. That which is termed eccentricity, is the mere result of the mind's acting

« AnteriorContinuar »