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says, that the " civil war, which may be considered as hereby terminated, was honourably distinguished from every other, by the general benignity of its spirit, and the admirable moderation of the victor, (page 241.)
Among the acts of benignity and moderation which distinguished the righteous parliament who declared war against and defeated their sovereign, might be enumerated the introduction of an arbitrary weekly excise upon all property, the extortion of loans, and the sequestration of at least one half of the goods and chattels in the kingdom.
To these acts of benignity and moderation Dr. Symmons, perhaps, will have no difficuly in adding the treatment which the conscientious and loyal clergy experienced, many hundreds of whom were not only ejected from their livings, but even their private property was taken away, and their families turned out of doors. Numbers of the most learned and exemplary divines in the kingdom, were imprisoned in loathsome jails, and in the holds of ships, without being permitted to see their friends, or to hold any correspondence with them. But republican rapine, oppression, and cruelty are, it seems, to be accounted benignity and moderation, while charges which rest upon very equivocal authority, are brought forth against the King, not only as undoubted facts, but in the most studied and invidious language of exaggeration.
Indeed, what is particularly deserving of censure in this biography, which abounds so much with extravagant praise and intemperate reproach, is the frequent omission of authorities in the most important cases, and a reference to very partial and incorrect sources in others.
The Republican Rushworth and the Puritan Neal are cited with as much confidence, on points which involve many doubtful questions, as if their veracity and candour had never been suspected or disproved. It is not a little remarkable, that writers of the period, and especially those on the Royalists' side, are all along studiously omitted; from which it is not uncharitable to infer, that in the compilation of this volume, more regard has been had to the vindication of Milton, than to the general interests of historical truth,
Dr. Symmons says, that “ Ireton and Cromwell, uncertain of their contest with the Presbyterians, made an offer to Charles, while he was in their power at Hampton-Court, to reinstate him in his royalties on certain conditions, for which they stipulated for themselves Kk2
and their friends. But the infatuated prince, under the influence of weak or interested advisers, and elated by a strange opinion of his own great importance amid this violent conflict of parties, rejected the proffers of his fortune; and even offended those by whom they were made, with his haughtiness, his fluctuation, and his duplicity. When they found by his secret correspondence with the queen that no reliance was to be placed on his good faith, Ireton and Cromwell seem to have determined on his destruction ; and withdrawing their protection, they compelled him for bis immediate preservation to fly from Hampton-Court in quest of another asylum,” (p. 243.)
A general reference is here made to Rushworth, whose character is sufficiently known not to be relied on, except as a collector of public papers, and not always then. But fortunately we have an evidence on this very case, which so far from supporting this calumnious statement, and of reflecting upon the character of Charles, proves that the objects of the doctor's praise, Ireton and Cromwell, were in the whole of this transaction a couple of infamous knaves, who carried on this negociation, not as it is here represented, for the restoration, but the ruin of the King.
These villains, after many fair professions and promises, obtained from Charles an answer to the parliament's proposals, in which they made some alterations, which were adopted by his Majesty, who then sent a fair copy of the same in l.is own hand to the House of Commons. Instead, however, of recommending and supporting in the house this answer, as they had promised to do, Ireton and Cromwell reprobated it in the most virulent manner, and caused it to be rejected. This abominable treachery so irritated Major Huntington, who was Cromwell's principal officer, and had been privy to the wbole of the negociation, that he severely reproached the hypocrite to his face, and immediately threw up his commission*.
In another part of his volume, Dr. Symmons advocates the character of Ireton, as being “one of those honest patriots, who fancied that by the trial and the execution of a guilty king, they could establish a commonwealth on the basis of equal right, and of general advantage,”(p. 245.)
But how is this to be reconciled with the circumstance of his negociating with this guilty king to the disadyantage of the Presbyteriąns? If Treton really thought
• Dugdale's Short View of the Troubles, p. 264. Clarendon's Hist, yol jii. p, 491,
in his conscience, that Charles was so guilty a king, as that it was necessary for the public good to bring him to condign punishment, he ought not to have entered into any measures for the re-establishing him on the throne.
But Ireton is not the only regicide for whom the doctor volunteers his formidable pen. He very generously takes the president of the pretended high court of justice, the inhuman Bradshaw, under his protection. It is rather extraordinary after this, that any of the sanguinary crew should have been exempted from his act of grace, particularly the “illustrious usurper,” as the doctor stiles Cromwell, who was obsequiously courted and servilely flattered by Milton.
But the insolent Bradshaw, the object of the great poet's admiration, becomes a particular favourite with our biographer, who lavishes upon him the following panegyric, which, however, is introduced by a sneaking sort of apology.
“Of Bradshaw, branded and blackened as he has been,” says Dr. Symmons, " by the violence of party, it
may almost be imprudent to hazard a favourable opinion. After an interval, however, of a century and a half the truth may surely be spoken, even of the judge whose office it was to pass sentence upon Charles Stuart: and another age, at some distance from those peculiar circumstances which have unhappily tainted the present with passion and prejudice, wiil do ample justice, as I doubt not, to a man who was mistaken indeed, and placed in an unfortunate situation, but whose radical and vital principle was public virtue; who would have been honoyred in the purest times of Grecian and Roman patriotism, and whose high-souled and consistent independence refused, on more than one occasion, to submit to the will of an imperious and irresistible usurper,” (p. 263.)
The introduction and conclusion of this encomium do not well agree ; for if the doctor be so proud of his acquaintance, and really thinks that Bradshaw was that « high-souled and virtuous character which he represents him," there was no occasion for setting out with an apology for entertaining this “ favourable opinion of him." This testimony to character, however, will hardly be admitted upon the doctor's ipse dirit without some better evidence. That Bradshaw refused on more than one occasion to submit to Cromwell may be true, but if this be the sole proof of bis consistent virtue, it amounts to
nothing. Partners as they were in villainy, Bradshaw could not be well supposed readily to submit to Cromwell's usurpó ation. He undoubtedly conceived his own importance to be greater, he having sat as judge upon his sovereign. In Dr. Symmons's opinions consistency is every thing; and though he seems to admit, that Bradshaw was mistaken, he yet not only apologizes for his conduct, but he exalts that conduct into the purest patriotism. By the same tule he might have undertaken the defence of almost every conspirator in every age. There are errors which are innocent; but if Bradshaw was under an error, or mistaken in the part which he took against his king, he was eriminal, for ignorance of the line of duty cannot, upon any principle of common sense, be admitted as an excuse for the commission of a crime. But Bradshaw it seems was“ placed in an unfortunate situation,” and according to what his advocate would insinuate, he was under the necessity of passing sentence upon the king by virtue of his “office as judge." By what authority was he placed
that so unfortunate situation?” and by what law was he guided in the trial itself, or in the sentence which he presumed to pronounce? Was Bradshaw ignorant of the law of the land? was he ignorant of the common principle of justice, that every man is to have a fair trial by his peers? Here all were judges, and all were the avowed enemies of the unfortunate monarch: the mockery of a trial, therefore, was an additional insult upon humanity, when it was evident from the very circumstance itself, and the tragedy which closed it, that the king's death was predetermined. Bradshaw knew this; he was prepared to pass sentence of death upon the king; he knew that he possessed no legitimate authority for the place which he held; and therefore the cold-blooded villain endeavoured to draw from Charles some acknowlegement of the jurisdiction of the court. The repeated attempts which were made to induce the King to relax in "his opposition to the authority by which he was arraigned, were so many acts of conscious guilt and meanness, mixed with deliberate cruelty and consummate treachery, so that it is impossible to vindicate Bradshaw, or any other of the regicides, upon any fair and equitable principle.
What Lord Clarendon has said of Bradshaw, will I believe have its weight with most readers of judgment, though from the bias of Dr. Symmons, it is not to be ex,
pected that his Lordship is any thing like a favourite with him.
“ When Bradshaw was first nominated," says Clarendon, “ he seemed much surprised, and very resolute to refuse it; which he did in such a manner, and so much enlarging upon his own want of abilities to undergo so important a charge, that it was very evident he had expected to be put to that apology. And when he was pressed with more importunity than could have been used by chance, he required time to consider of it,' and said, he would then give his final answer ;' which he did the next day; and with great humility accepted the office, which he administered with all the pride, impudence, and superciliousness imaginable. He was presently invested in great state, and many officers, and a guard assigned for the security of his person, and the Dean's house at Westminster given to him for ever, for his residence and habitation, and a good sum of money, about five thousand pounds, was appointed to be presently paid to him, to put himself in such an equipage and way of living, as the dignity of the office which he held would require. And now the Lord President of the High Court of Justice, seemed to be the greatest magistrate in England. And though it was not thought seasonable to make any such declaration, yet some of those whose opinions grew quickly to ordinances, upon several occasions declared, that they believed that office wasnot to be looked upon as necessary pro hac vice only, but for continuance; and that he who executed it, deserved to have an ample and a liberal estate conferred upon him for ever:' which sudden mutation and exaltation of fortune, could not but make a great impression upon a vulgar spirit, accustomed to no excesses, and acquainted only with a very moderate fortune*.”
Another well-informed writer of that period informs us, that Bradshaw was rewarded for his crime with Summer Hill, a seat of the Earl of St. Alban’s, valued at one thousand pounds a year. So much for the consistent independence” of this “high-souled patriot,” the friend of Milton and the subject of Dr. Symmons's praiset: It is deserving of remark, that what the doctor professes
• Hist. Rebell. vol. iii. p. 246, 8vo. ed. Walker's History of Independency, part ii. p. 258. The broadbrimmed hat which Bradshaw wore on this occasion, was well guarded with iron, and is now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.