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- The Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon V2 - 1/50 -
THE LIFE OF EDWARD EARL OF CLARENDON LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND VOLUME II
BY SIR HENRY CRAIK, K.C.B., LL.D.
[Illustration: John Hampden from a miniature by Samuel Cooper in the possession of Earl Spencer]
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II
XIV. THE RESTORATION
XV. PROSPECT FOR THE RESTORED MONARCHY
XVI. DIFFICULTIES TO BE MET
XVII. SCOTTISH ADMINISTRATION
XVIII. THE PROBLEMS OF IRELAND
XIX. MARRIAGE TREATY AND RELIGIOUS SETTLEMENT
XX. DOMESTIC DISSENSION AND FOREIGN COMPLICATIONS
XXI. THE DUTCH WAR
XXII. ADMINISTRATIVE FRICTION
XXIII. DECAY OF CLARENDON'S INFLUENCE
XXIV. INCREASING BITTERNESS OF HIS FOES
XXV. THE TRIUMPH OF FACTION
LIST OF PORTRAITS
JOHN HAMPDEN _From a miniature by Samuel Cooper, in the possession of Earl Spencer_
GEORGE MONK, DUKE OF ALBEMARLE _From the original by Sir Peter Lely, in the National Portrait Gallery_
GENERAL LAMBERT _From the original by R. Walker, in the National Portrait Gallery_
SIR HENRY VANE, THE YOUNGER _From the original by William Dobson, in the National Portrait Gallery_
JOHN MAITLAND, DUKE OF LAUDERDALE _From the original by Sir Peter Lely, in the National Portrait Gallery_
GEORGE DIGBY, SECOND EARL OF BRISTOL _From the original by Sir Anthony Vandyke, in the Collection of Earl Spencer_
SIR EDWARD NICHOLAS _From the original by Sir Peter Lely, in the National Portrait Gallery_
ANNE HYDE, DUCHESS OF YORK _From the original by Sir Peter Lely_
JAMES BUTLER, DUKE OF ORMONDE _From the original by Sir Godfrey Kneller_
After the death of Cromwell, on September 3rd, 1658, there ensued for the exiled Court twenty months of constant alternation between hope and despair, in which the gloom greatly preponderated. As the chief pilot of the Royalist ship, Hyde, now titular Lord Chancellor, had to steer his way through tides that were constantly shifting, and with scanty gleam of success to light him on the way. Within the little circle of the Court he was assailed by constant jealousy, none the less irksome because it was contemptible. The policy of Charles, so far as he had any policy apart from Hyde, varied between the encouragement of friendly overtures from supporters of different complexions at home, and a somewhat damaging cultivation of foreign alliances, which were delusive in their proffered help, and might involve dangerous compliance with religious tenets abhorred in England. The friends in England were jealous and suspicious of one another, and their loyalty varied in its strength, and was marked by very wide difference in its ultimate objects. It would have been hard in any case to discern the true position amidst the complicated maze of political parties in England; it was doubly hard for one who had been an exile for a dozen years. To choose between different courses was puzzling. Inaction was apt to breed apathy; but immature action would only lead to further persecution of the loyalists, and to disaster to the most gallant defenders of the rights of the King. With the true instinct of a statesman, Hyde saw that the waiting policy was best; but it was precisely the policy that gave most colour to insinuations of his want of zeal. In spite of his exile, he understood the temper of the nation better than any of the paltry intriguers round him; to study that temper was not a process that commended itself to their impatient ambitions. His pen was unresting: in preparing pamphlets, in writing under various disguises, in carrying on endless correspondence, in drafting constant declarations. But all such work met with little acknowledgment from those who thought that their own intrigues were more likely to benefit the King, and, above all, to advance themselves. They recked nothing of that sound traditional frame of government which it was the aim of Hyde religiously to conserve. Few statesmen have had a task more hard, more thankless, and more hopeless than that which fell to him during these troubled months.
Hyde was saved from despair only by the intense dramatic instinct of the historian that was implanted in him. He could, or--what came to the same thing--he believed that he could, discern the greater issues of the time, and what interested him above all was the vast influence upon those issues of personal forces. When he recalled the events of his time, in the enforced leisure of later years, it was to the action of great personalities that he gave his chief attention, and the passing incidents grouped themselves in his memory as mere accessories to the play of individual character. All through his history it is this which chiefly attracts us, and nowhere is it more striking than when he records the passing of the greatest personal force of the age in Cromwell. It did not occur to Hyde--and, to their credit be it said, it did not occur to any even of the more friendly spectators on the other side--to regard Cromwell as the embodiment of a mighty purifying force in which defects were to be ignored or even justified on account of the heaven-inspired dictates under which he was presumed to have acted. Just as little could Hyde conceive of Cromwell as the great precursor of modern ideas, demanding the obedient homage of every ardent partisan of popular rights. These were eccentricities reserved for later historians under impulses of later origin. Hyde was compelled by all his strongest traditions and most cherished principles to regard Cromwell's work as utterly destructive, and he never pretended to have anything but the bitterest prejudice against him. To his mind, Cromwell was sent as a punishment from Heaven for national defection, and he never concealed his hatred for Cromwell's profound dissimulation or his abhorrence for the tyranny which the Protector succeeded in imposing on the nation. To have assumed an impartial attitude would only have been, to Hyde, an effort of insincerity. It is precisely this which gives its weight to the measured estimate which Hyde forms of his stupendous powers. His appreciation of Cromwell is a pendant to that which he gives of Charles I. The latter is inspired with a clear flame of loyalty; but this does not blind him to the defects of the master for whom he had such a sincere regard. His deadly hatred of Cromwell leaves him equally clear-sighted as to the Protector's supreme ability.
"He was one of those men whom his very enemies could not condemn without commending him at the same time; for he could never have done half that mischief without great parts of courage, industry, and judgment." "He achieved those things in which none but a valiant and great man could have succeeded." "Wickedness as great as his could never have accomplished these trophies without the assistance of a great spirit, an admirable circumspection and sagacity, and a most magnanimous resolution." "When he was to act the part of a great man, he did it without any indecency, notwithstanding the want of custom." "He extorted obedience from those who were not willing to yield it." "In all matters which did not concern the life of his jurisdiction, he seemed to have great reverence for the law." "As he proceeded with indignation and haughtiness with those who were refractory and dared to contend with his greatness, so towards all who complied with his good pleasure and courted his protection, he used a wonderful civility, generosity, and bounty." "His greatness at home was but a shadow of the glory he had abroad." "He was not a man of blood, and totally declined Machiavel's method." When a massacre of Royalists was suggested, "Cromwell would never consent to it; it may be out of too much contempt of his enemies." "In a word, as he had all the wickedness against which damnation is denounced, and for which hell-fire is prepared, so he had some virtues which have caused the memory of some men in all ages to be celebrated; and he will be looked upon by posterity as a brave bad man."
These fierce words are inspired by exceeding hatred. But in spite of that, we can see that Hyde felt himself in the presence of a greatness that compelled respect. He was himself to exercise, in conformity with law, and with a profound respect for it, very considerable power for a few years to come, and was to leave his impress upon a century and a half of English history. But that influence was only to come after a greater and a more forceful spirit had passed away, leaving no one fit to wield the same resistless power. Never has stern denunciation been relieved by a tribute of more dignified admiration of unquestionable greatness. His warmest admirers could not place Cromwell on a higher pedestal of acknowledged grandeur, all untouched by sympathy and all unbending in condemnation though Hyde's verdict is.
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