ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Mag.

Parallel bel-xtin Julius Cæsar and Oliver Cromwell.

fanatics, who thought themselves, by the illumination of the spirit, dispensed from observing the rules of grammar and common sense, greatly contributed to corrupt eloquence, by making the obscure jargon of enthusiasm succeed to the beauties of fiyle, and the energy of just reasoning. If we follow Cæsar and Cromwell from the senate to the field, we shall find the resemblance equally striking. It was during his expedition in Gaul that Cæsar gained the hearts of the soldiery, and acquired that power and influence which enabled him to carry on a rivil war rgainst the senate, and all the greattit general? of the commonwealth: «nd it was Cromwell's unparalleled success in Ireland and Scotland that put it in his power to become the sntagonist of that parliament which had invested him with authority, and to supplant a!! the generals who rivalled him in merit, or endeavoured to check, his aspiring. If we consider Caisar and Cromwell, when become the greatest persons in their respective countries, the parallel will still hold: their conduct, when possessed of supreme authority, hetrajsa weakness * hich they were entirely free from whilst they climbed up the steep ascent of ambition to attain it, and struggled through difficulties in its pursuit. In one partisular, the resemblance between them is striking; Cæsar declined the diadem, though the whole tenour of his conduct discovered the most ardent desire to be possessed of it: and Cromwell refused to accept the crown when it was offered him, though his regret at having taken so ill-judged a Itep is supposed to have hastened his death. If we take their temper and disposition into consideration, the Conformity of character will appear

equally striking. They were neither of them sanguinaiy or inhuman, like most of those who, by dint of conquest and superior abilities, have raised themselves to an eminence which they were not intitled to by birth. Antient history cannot afford an instance of a conqueror who Died less blood than Cæsar; nor can modern history Ihew us one less liable to the imputation of cruelty than Cromwell. MaVius, Sylla, and Cinna, were guilty of barbarities which Cæsar's generous foul would have been (hocked at; the history of their bloody proscriptions cannot be read without horror. Cromwell appears to have been equally averse to shedding blood, though he has been verv unjustly charged with the cruelties committed by his soldiers in pillaging some towns in Ireland. It is not difficult to prove that this accusation is groundless. Let a general's authority over his soldiers be ever so great, it has its limirs: there are some occasions on which he entiiely loses all his influence over (hem; and it is apprehended that a siege wherein a town is taken by storm, is one of these. At such a time a general, however willing to prevent the effusion of human blood, and check the fury of the soldiers, who breathe nothing but carnage and (laughter, is under a necessity of conniving at the molt hortid barbarities, rather than expose the weakness of his authority by giving orders which he is sure will not be obeyed. These two great men, as they resembled in their virtues and shining qualities, resembled likewise in their defects. We cannot acquit Cæsar ot some want of policy and discernment; for, living in the midst of enemies bent upon his destruction, and for so much misplacing his confidence as to confer Qji the 116 Parallel litivun Julius Cæ

the most distinguished honours and favours upon Brutus, who afterwards assassinated him. Cromwell seems likewise chargeable with indiscretion in bringing col. Lilburn to a trial for treasonable expressions against his person and government; this was the falsest step he could have taken, as it served only to stiew upon what a weak foundation his kingdom stood. It seems surprising that he stiould not reflect that a people who had just before made such vigorous efforts for the preservation of their liberties, would not immediately become abject and submissive slaves to an usurper, but would seize the first opportunity to express their disapprobation oF his unlimited power, though they were unable to quell it. Had he confined him in prison for life, without bringing him to a trial, he would have acted right; but it was doubtless a great oversight in him to have recourse to law, when he could not but be sensible that his government was founded upon a subversion of all law. Such errors in the conduct of the greatest politicians and statesmen, fully prove the truth of Mr. Pope's observation, that in prudence and conduct they are little superiors to the most giddy and rash.

How little different the grave and wise; All fly, flow tilings with circumspective eyes: Not one looks backward, forward still he goes,

But ne'er looks forward farther than his nose. Men in their loose, unguarded hours they take,

'Tis not that they are wife, but others weak.

Ethic Epift.

It may indeed be objected that there is one essential difference between Caesar and Cromwell, namely, that the former followed the Epicurean sect, and was consequently entirely indifferent with regard to

far and Oliver Cromwell. British religion, or, rather, absolutely disbelieved the existence of a Deity; "whereas the latter attained his exalted station, hy availing himself of the religious enthusiasm of his times. But this objection will vanish if we consider, that as Cæsar was an enthusiast in oratory, Cromwell soon dropped his religious enthusiasm to become an orator: as he became more and more conversant in state affairs, he became indifferent with regard to religion; and if he afterwards conversed with those of his party in the cant of their sect, it was merely through a motive of policy, and not because he continued to be tinctured with the spirit of fanaticism. This he himself acknowledged to Mr. Waller the poet^ who was a distant relation of his, and with whom he lived in the greatest intimacy and friendship. Having fhus conducted these two renowned personages through the most remarkable occurrences of their iives, we sliall compare the circumstances of their deaths, which will not fail to suggest reflections as instructive as those that arise from the consideration of the most glorious events of their lives. In one particular, and that a very uncommon one, the parallel holds even here; the death of both was prfeeded by extraordinary phainomena, and nature itself s.'eined to feel a fliock at the departure of men so illustrious, that they seemed to claim a distinction from the common race of mortals, even in the very article that puts all mortals uppn a level. The prodigies which preceded the death of Julius Cesar are admirably described by Virgil iu the first book of his Gcorgics; and the violent storm which happened when Cromwell was expiring, is spoken of by Mr. Waller, in the

Mag. Parallel between Julius Cæsar and Oliver Cromwell. 117

noblest strains of poetry, in his verses himself to the most imminent dan

to the memory of the Protector.

We must resign, Heaven his great soul does
claim

In storms as loud as his immortal fame,
The sublimity of these lines shew

ger in the field, who had stormed so many towns, routed so many'armies, and who owed his success in, almost every enterprize more to the impetuosity of his courage than to his that the panegyrist was worthy of conduct or experience, furnishes us

with one of the most useful and instructive lessons of morality. It shews the vanity of all pretensions to heroism, and fully evinces the truth of that maxim of the wife

the hero whom he celebrates. With regard to their manner of dying, Caesar has greatly the advantage over Cromwell; he died as he had lived, like a hero. Though he was attacked by a considerable number of man, Pride ivas net made for conspirators, he killed several of ** high heart for him that is born of a them, and fell as bravely in the senate-house as he could have done in the field of battle. Cromwell on his death-bed no longer supported the character of the hero, or the

warrior; the enthusiasm to which he mask which made him appear a lie had devoted himself in his early life, ro to vulgar eyes, and the object of

Indeed, it often happens that the concluding scene of the life of a man renowned for his great exploits, eclipses all the lustre of his former glory. Death pulls off the

once more gained the ascendant over his mind, and he discovered all the timidity of a religionist, who dreads death, even whilst he declares that his only hopes of happiness are in

admiration stands confest a man obnoxious to all the frailties, and subjest to all the degrading circumstances to which human nature is exposed in the lowest of mortals.

another life. The expressions he Those therefore who are disposed to made use of, "1 am not yet to die, envy and admire the great and illu

strious, should contemplate them in the last sad scene of life; that will reconcile them to their lot; they will be no longer dazzled with the glory of those who have acquired the most

My hour is not yet come," and others of the like nature, are striking proofs that the observation of the poet is just;

Whobravely combats is not therefore brave,

He dreads a death bed like the meanest .exalted reputation, but own

The whole amount of that enormous fame Such a close of life in a man who A taie that blends thew glory with their had so often undauntedly exposed stiame.

w

Anecdote of Sir Godfrey Kneller.

HEN Sir Godfrey came into he had just received, desired the alderman to re-pocket them. The latter staring, For nubat did you gi-vena tbofe guineas? said Sir Godfrey— to dranxi my face, to be sure, answers the other. But by G—, replies

very high reputation, a certain alderman came to be painted by this artist, a ed, as usual, paid him down half the price in guineas. Sir podfrey, after several times touching the canvas with the chalk, and rubbing it out, very deliberately laid Wssidt, and pulling cut the guineas

the painter, yta have no face to dra-isi\ get you gone, get you gens,

£ u8 ] Britilh Compendious HISTORY Of FRANCE. [Continued.]

■pHilip was by this meant delivered * from a potent adversary, and believed, as he had reason to believe, that he had nothing to fear from Robert, to w hom his father left the <luchy of Normandy. His ambition, as upon other occasions, outran his prudence ; he published his claim to the realm of England, while his brother William was taking possession of it; which not only frustrated his own designs, but brought William over with an army into Normandy. Robert, suspecting his brother Henry to be secretly embaiked in his design, despoiled him xjf the Cotentin, and then had recourse to Philip for his assistance. The king made great professions, and entered Normandy viiih an army which might have made these good; but William slackened his j>ace by the help of money, and, by the repetition of this argument, detached him from the cause that wanted ir. Robert was forced to consent to a peace; by which William kept what he had conquered, Henry was restored to what he had lost, and the unfortunate prince first mentioned was at the expence of all. The politics of Philip were right for the present, which is the rock that cunning splits on ; true wisdom would have taught him to support Robert, and to have placed his security not in the division of the duchy of Normandy, but in preserving it for the lawful duke, and thereby making him his fiiend. This was one false step; he quickly committed Brother. He was grown weary of his wife, though he had by her two sons and a daughter. He recollected that she was related tp him, though

at a great distance; or, pethaps, his flatterers forged a pedigree to make this probable. However it was, he found churchmen to divorce him, and sent her to Montreuil; where, in process of time, she died of ill treatment and a broken heart. He then demanded in marriage Emma, the daughter of count Roger, brother to the duke of Calabria; who, consenting to it, sent over the lady richly adorned with jewels, and witli a large portion of ready money. The Italian writers fay this was done purely todepiive her of them ; the French historians deny the intention; but, if the fact becertain.it signifies little what' was the design. ^ ^ As to the apparent reason, why the king did not espouse lc91, her, that arose from another slip i:i the king's conduct; which, as it was one of the foulest, so it was also the most fatal he ever made, and the effects of which pursued him to his grave.

Foulques le Rechin, count of Anjou, whose character we mentioned before, though far in years, and though he had two wives already, haviag heard of Bcrtrade de Mcntfort, a young lady esteemed the handsomest in France, was bent on marrying her, and, not without some difficulty, brought it about, her family sacrificing her to their own interest. This woman, tired of an old, gouty, and surly husband, and hearing that the king had parted with his wife, privately invited him to come and fee her. Upon this he framed some pretence for going to Tours, where the count of Anjou received him with all possible duty and respect; in return for which he Jtjg. Compindiout

tduced his wife to elope, and follow him to Orleans. He was not satisfied with the possession of this woman, but he resolved, at all events, to marry her, and, to this end, a divorce was procnred between her and her husband ; but when this bar was removed, none of the bishops of France could be prevailed on to celebrate this marriage, or even to be present at it. He contrived, however, to get it done, with some kind of solemnity, by Eudes, bishop ofBayeaux, brother by the mother's fide to William the Conqueror, in the presence of the bishop of Senlis, and the archbishop of Rouen, all ^ p Normans. This did not "hinder pope Urban the second from causing the whole matter to be closely examined in a council held at Autun, where the king was excommunicated in case he did not part with this woman,whom he stiled his wife. Some have pretended, that his subjects were released from their obedience, and the kingdom put under an interdict; but in this there is no truth, all the effects of the excommunication were, that he did not hear divine service in public, and that he did not wear his crown or robes of state. It is true, the pope threatened to proceed further j but the king, promising to submit, obtained ^ p a stay of the censure. How(" 'ever, as he broke his word, the pope summoned another council at Clermont, in which he *»i excommunicated afresh, the fler£yof France making no manner of opposition.

It was in this council that the first croisade was published for the recoTery of the Holy Land. It was about this time also, or rather a little be

WJlcry ef France. 11 g

fore, that Henry of Burgundy went, with other French lords, to the assistance of the Spaniards against the Infidels, which procured that young prince a marriage suitable to his rank, and the county of Portugal in dowry with his wife ; but these examples wrought nothing on the king. His brother Hugo, indeed, took the cross, and his friend Robert duke of Normandy; but as for Philip, tho' he humbled himself so far to the pope as to procure an absolution, yet wanting alike the fortitude of a prince and the true principle of a penitent, he relapsed into his former scandalous manner of living with the countess of Anjou, and was excommunicated a third time. His conduct, so unworthy of a prince, exposed him justly to the contempt oT the people. Too many of . jy the nobility followed his ex

ample, and at the fame time

1096.

despised his authority; not onlv making war upon each other, but spoiling and robbing his subjects with equal impudence and impunity. All this time Philip was soliciting and cajoling the court of Rome, till at length he prevailed with pope Paschal to cause the whole of his affair to be reviewed in a council held at Poitiers, which, notwithstanding all the efforts that could be made by the populace, excited by his partizans, terminated in a new excommunication. But notwithstanding this, the queen being dead, ^ ^ and the old count of Anjou offering, for a large sum of money, to give whatever assistance might be requisite to procure a papal dispensation for the king's marriage, he renewed his instances at Rome, offering at the fame time to submit to whatever penance should

he

« 前へ次へ »