SANFORD'S STUDIES AND ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE GREAT REBELLION.
rrijzz are sense historical epochs about which the studious world seems never tired of reading. One of these is the downfall of the Roman republic, from the civil contests of Marius and Syna to the triumph of Augustus. Another is the first French Revolution, from the assembly of the States General in 1789 to the battle of Waterloo. A third, and not the least important in its conse- quences to the world, is the Great Civil War of England ; though tle interest of that period extends more or less through the whole of the Tudor and Stuart reigns and until the Revolution of 1688. One cause of the intellectual craving for these historical dramas is the greatness of the events and persons, as well as their wonderful variety. A greater cause is to be found in their revolutionary cha- racter. Great as the actors and actions were in themselves, they were far greater in their consequences. Had the Roman republic possessed virtue and constitutional strength enough to throw off the disorders which caused its downfall, the whole face of the world must have been changed in a way which we cannot con- ceive. We are too close to the first French Revolution to appre- ciate its full effects upon mankind ; but beyond all doubt they will be very considerable. A similar remark may be made on that great political and social revolution which began on Bos- worth Field and ended at the accession of William and Mary ; but whose culminating point was the Great Rebellion. We can- not yet estimate the entire and disastrous effects upon free- dom and civilization which the triumph of Charles would have produced ; for we cannot read the future of continental Europe. We have only to cast our eyes upon the United States of America, and the British colonies to see the development of mankind that would have been dwarfed, or stopped altogether by his success.
A fuller elucidation of this culminating point of the history of England, as regards the then condition of society, and the cha- racters, motives, and conduct of the leading actors in the con- tests with Charles the First, is the object of Mr. Sanford's book. In the introduction, indeed, he goes further back. He com- mences with noting the influence on the English character pro- duced by the various amalgamations of the English race—Celtic, Roman, Danish and Norman ; and the influence on the English constitution exerted by the policy of the Conqueror, in distribu- ting his grants to his followers through different counties, instead of consolidating the fiefs of one baron into one great territory. The essayist then runs rapidly over the salient points of Eng- land's political history to the accession of the Tudors, more closely investigating the nature of their government, its effects on so- ciety, and the gradual growth of public opinion and popular power, till capable of offering a resistance to the Crown, although the last had been strengthened by the overthrow of the baronial aristocracy in the Wars of the Roses, and of the ecclesiastical power by Henry the Eighth. An Essay on the characteristics and extent of Puritanism both in its religious and social aspects, together with a pretty full notice of James the First's character and modes of government, clears the way for a consideration of the announced subject of the book, "The Great Rebellion." The first "illustration" proper is an Essay " on the antece- dents and first years of King Charles," in which scattered notices of that monarch by contemporaries, and traits under his own hand, are brought forward to prove his utter faithlessness from his earliest appearance in public life till the eve of the Long Par- liament. The author also collects evidence to show that the boasted morality of Charles is questionable in early life ; and that whatever his own conduct might be, he was quite disregardful of the profligacy of others, drawing the inference that the King's Outward decorum was merely the result of a cold and reserved tem- perament. Finally, Mr. Sanford proves from the records of Par- liament under the reign of James, and Charles's own language, that the excuse of ignorance as to the nature of the English con- stitution could not avail him. He perfectly knew the constitu- tional landmarks, and deliberately set himself to remove them by systematic perfidy. The "Early Life of Oliver Cromwell," ex- tending, by the by, to the election of the Long Parliament, when Cromwell was in his forty-second year, comes next to that of Charles. It is chiefly designed to defend his memory from the Slanders of the Royalists, and the mistakes of more impartial bio-
raphers. Under the heads of "Strafford and Pym" and " Par- mentary Royalism," Mr. Sanford presents a gallery of por- traits of members in either House with a fulness proportioned to theirpublic prominence ; and a sketch of the history of the Long Par- liament from its meeting, till the King's violent attempt to seize the five members. From that time, Mr. Sandford considers that a peace- ful conclusion was impossible, and the civil war virtually begun.
public life of "the Earl of Essex" follows, or rather a narra- tive of the events with which he was connected till the triumph of the Parliament was established by the battle of "Long Marston liocr." Of this battle a full account is given from contemporary authorities and a topographical visit of the author to the spot. "Constitutional returns [of Members] to the Long Parliament," With further lists of Peers or Commoners, and a small selection of Cavalier and Roundhead letters of the year 160, complete the topics of the book. Elaborate elucidation, as already intimated, is the leading fea-
oft petite* and Illustrations of the Great Rebellion. By John Langton Sanford, Lan ln's Inn, Barrister-at-Law. Published by Parker and Son. ure of Mr. Sanford's work. Original ideas will be found ; as in that important perception of the Conqueror's policy in sepa- rating the estates of his barons, so as to divide and break the power of any single chief (though a similar practice obtained, if not s3 stematacally, among some of the later Saxon kings.) Still, in the main, the author rather establishes received opinions on new or fuller evidence, than puts forth new discoveries ; that is, dis- coveries newer than Mr. Carlyle's estimate of Cromwell's character, or Mr. Forster's representation of the Long Parliament as promul- gated in his late volume of Historical Essays. This absence of originality in broader views is the result of accident or ill-luck, not of any want of original merit. Mr. Sanford has devoted many years of painstaking research to this period of English his- tory, especially carried on in reference to the character of Crom- well. His inquiries satisfied him that "the theory of Cromwell's hypocrisy and ambition was devoid of all support in the real facts "; but scarcely had he reached this conclusion, when in 1845 Carlyle published his "Cromwell." Some of the " Letters " were new to Mr. Sanford, but he had discovered a considerable num- ber that Carlyle had not found, and these with other materials were placed at the biographer's disposal, and appeared in the Se- cond. edition of 1846. "Professional studies" suspended Mr. Sanford's historical pursuits for a year or two. When he re- turned to them, he thoroughly investigated D'Ewes's manuscript "Journal of the Long Parliament" preserved in the British Museum, and which formed the substratum of one of Mr. Forster's most elaborate Essays. The Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Li- brary, the "forgotten Council books of the Cromwells and. the Commonwealth in the Record Tower of Dublin Castle," and some other depositories in that city were examined; and Jo! the result. "My new materials, however, had so enlarged my original plan, that when in 18-50, I went through the usual ordeal with the London publishers, they shrank from incurring any risk in such a speculation, and my MS. was consign- ed again to the shelves, where it slumbered peacefully for the next five years. I then made another and equally unsuccessful attempt to bring it before the public in a reduced and modified form. I should, perhaps, have accepted this last judgment as final, if the publication of Mr. Forster's Historical _Essays, in the present year, had not called my attention to the fact that I had already lost the credit of historical discoveries in which I had antici- pated that gentleman by several years ; and I accordingly considered that, in justice to myself, I ought no longer to delay placing before the public some portion of my labours, leaving in their hands the decision of the ques- tion whether or not the remainder should follow in due course of time."
Such is the taste of the public or the publishers. An historical work of original research, on an important subject, with a full apprehension of the times treated of, and generally, as it stands before us, of attraction and readableness is barred from the world; while the most abominable trash in some form of "light litera- ture" is month by month, not to say week by week, thrust upon the public.
The opinions of Mr. Sanford on the characters of Charles the First, Cromwell, and the great statesmen of the Commonwealth, are in kind similar to those which many entertain, and towards which the majority of the public are advancing. Perhaps from the stronger proof which the fulness of original evidence impresses upon the mind, beyond what condensed statement, however vigor- ous can attain, Mr. Sanford in degree goes beyond the genera conclusion. In his pages Charles appears not only without a re- deeming virtue, but as a base and contemptible man. Cromwell is a more natural, and it strikes us, a more consistent portrait. We seem to have a living person before us with infirmities of constitutional temperament, and not altogether devoid of that rugged harshness which mostly attends upon great strength of character ; but upon the whole an active, conscientious, and God- fearing man, with tenderness under a rugged exterior. It should also be remembered that we have Charles in his worst period— for he certainly appeared best in his later misfortunes ; while no one except the mere fanatics of right divine, charge evil upon Cromwell till he emerged from a secondary position. Of the great Commonwealth statesman the judgment of Mr. Sanford is very favourable. Of the Royalist Parliamentarians somewhat harsh ; in fact they are brought under the category of knaves or fools, without, we think, sufficient allowance for all the circum- stances. We agree in general with Mr. Sanford, that even after the terrible punishments and great reforms of the session of 1640-'41, neither constitutional freedom nor the men who had en- forced it were safe from the faithless folly and royal prejudices of Charles. It is very likely that Pym and his friends not only knew this as we know it, but had fuller information about the King's plots and intrigues than has come down to us. They might conscientiously feel that both the liberties of the country and their own lives depended upon a wary and hostile progress. But Falkland and even Hyde, to say nothing of lesser men, did not know or feel this. They saw Strafford executed ; many of the inferior instruments of tyranny in prison or in exile ; Parliamentary claims and privileges admitted, and old abuses swept away. We think they might say, without any imputation upon their sense and honesty, "we have gained all we sought for ; to go further will destroy the balance of the constitution ; we will stop where we are." Tested by the event, and our pre- sent knowledge, Pym and his followers were right. We believe the half century of trouble and contest that followed the first ses- sion of the Long Parliament, was to establish our pre- sent constitution and condition : that hadCharles been a more trustworthy man, and had the struggle ended with the autumn of 1641, we should not have been the people we are, or possessed the constitution we have. But the Parliamentary leaders did not know this ; and could they have foreseen the civil war, the execution of
the King, the Protectorate, and the Restoration, with its vices and national degradation, it is probable they would have paused too. And we offer this excuse for Falkland and the royalists of his class (for Mr. Sanford divides Royalism into two classes repre- sented by Hyde and Falkland) with more confidence, because Hallam, with secret information which they had not, and the in- difference of our time towards mere authority which they never could have attained, is of their opinion. On the other hand, it may be said, that the two men who (with Mr. Sanford) have more fully investigated this period in its surviving documents than any other persons—Carlyle and Mr. Forster, have come gene- rally to Mr. Sanford's conclusions. From the illustrative character of the book much of it consists of particulars supporting opinions with which the world is al- ready familiar. The broadest and freshest sections are the intro- ductory survey of English history, and the essay on Puritanism with its influenoes on the civil war. To the Puritans Mr. San- ford is eminently partial, and that on points where current opi- nion from their own day to ours has ever been adverse—their so- cial and gentlemanlike accomplishments compared with the cava- liers. To fully appreciate the evidence for the following picture, it would be necessary to peruse the religious exposition of Puri- ritanism ; but these passages will suffice for an idea of the au- thor's conclusions and style.
"Of course the licentiousness of the majority of the Cavaliers is not to be taken as negativing the decency of the minority. But there is evidence that with most of the latter also this decency was but comparative, as contrasted with the outrageous conduct of their associates ; and that though the out- ward face of the court of Charles was much reformed from hie father's and compared with that, might be called moral and temperate, yet it fell far be- low our standard of ordinary decency and morality. Those individuals among the Cavalier party who attained to something like our notions of a 'gentleman' found themselves sadly out of place among the courtiers of King Charles, and do not appear to have found in that king himself the diffusive centre of refinement and purity which the modern mind conceives him to have been.
"But nit only would the manners and language of the average Cavalier i
of Charles I. have rendered him unendurable n modern general society, but his tastes also would have made him an unseemly and unsuitable companion for the intercourse of daily life. Habits and tastes which have now de- scended to the lowest classes, were considered by the thorough Cavalier quite as much essential parts of the character of a gentleman, as loyalty and reverence for church authority. Not only those refinements which we should call more properly mental, but the ordinary outward characteristics of a gentleman of the present day, would have conveyed a clear title to the epi- thet of Puritan' in the days of King Charles. The few Falklands and Bouthamptons were ever looked upon with dislike and distrust in the royal- ist camp and court as leavened with the spirit of their opponents ; while de- corous persons such as Hyde were just tolerated as men of business' and almost openly scoffed at by the gay courtiers of Henrietta-Maria. That weak, worthless, overbearing royal beauty imparted to the court of her hus- band much of the empty heartlessness and unprincipled levity prevalent in the circles of French society ; and nothing but the more frigid formality of the King himself prevented the court under her auspices from forestalling (in an approximate degree) the licentiousness of their son and successor.
"Incredible indeed as it may appear to some, it is not too much to say that (if we except a few honourable names among the Royalists—such, for in- stance, as the Earl of Derby) the Puritan gentleman alone would be appre- ciated and sympathized with by modern society. Of course it is not meant to affirm that peculiarities of manner and language would not occasionally raise a smile of wondering amusement at his expense ; but the prevalent feeling would be one of sympathizing respect. He might be judged by some over-strict and scrupulous ; but by them also the complete absence of coarse vulgarity in his manners would not be unappreciated. His 'preciseness' even would be in many respects less marked and offensive to the world at large than is the case with 'strict' people of the present day. It would be 'strictness' in comparison with a much laser state of general society, and would, therefore, in many of its once salient features, harmonize with the received canons of propriety of a more advanced age.
"In referring to these and similar characteristics of the Puritan, it has been generally forgotten' that in the reign of Charles I. the great majority of the Puritans were not separatists from the communion of the Church of England, but formed a party within the national church. Although, there- fore, their earnest opinions gave a certain peculiarity to their manners, there was not the broad social difference which (far more than any religious creed) severs the Churchman and Dissenter of the present day. The Puritan was not, as the modern Dissenter, hardly to be found except in the middle and lower classes ; and within these, still more restricted in his social intercourse by the special demarcations of his creed. Ills peculiarities of religious opin- ion did not with society at large imply the probable absence of higher social rank, and of the social influences connected with formal membership of the Established Church. Social disabilities of this kind, (fertile sources of in- fidelity to conscience and silly assumption on one side, and querulous, self- sufficient rudeness on the other,) which are the crying evil of our present religious divisions did not attach necessarily to the Puritan then, and in- deed scarcely existed at all. A considerable minority among the peers and landed gentry were socially as well as politically Puritans.' The wealthier merchants were generally of that cast ; and a strong body of the beneficed clergy, who had their representatives in the national universities, were openly identified with that epithet. There was, therefore, little occasion for that gaucherie often and very naturally resulting from isolation in one small circle of associations; or for the feeling (sometimes unwarranted) of being, beyond the boundaries of that circle a social pariah.' Nor, again, was there the resulting tendency on the part of the excluded to exaggerate their points of difference from the exclusives and to assume an attitude of defiant want of sympathy with society on trifling points of ceremonial observance. Puritanism and Cavalierism ' (if I may coin such a word) were two rival principles, contending for the regulation of social habits as much as for po- litical ascendency, and in both respects on something like equal terms. Puritanism, therefore, was not in the former respect the enforced attitude of a sullen inferiority, any more than it was in the latter the mere reckless desperation of a defeated faction. "But there is one imputed offence, on the part of the Puritan, against the taste of modern society, which perhaps it may not be possible entirely to remove, his alleged moroseness. In the usual sense of the term we may at once deny the charge, so far as concerns the great majority of the Puritans, and certainly nearly the whole of the Puritan gentry. We must plead guilty, however, if it is merely meant to imply the absence of that buoyant gaiety of demeanour which, with all his coarseness and frivolity, forms the undoubtedly attractive feature in the Cavalier. The habitual expression of
the Puritan gentleman was grave and subdued ; and this was the inevitabi
result of a mind constantly occupied with the deepest and most absorbM: questions. It would appear as if the spirit of the religious reformation, from" the intimate connexion which it speedily formed with our political hiator; had penetrated so deeply into the mind of the English nation, as to afrg; permanently the national character, and tinge it with a reserved gra-tit; which up to that time was not its marked characteristic." * * a s,4 " The state of mind thus produced was doubtless an overstrained one which could only be sustained by the closer and more immediate p nceo great events ; but enough of it would seem to have survived the naeo f reaction (or rather the reaction of the highest and lowest classes) to thoulght less licentiousness after the Restoration, to make English gravity ' a Con; mon topic of remark among foreign nations. Those,gaitheertyefwooreu,ldwbehoddoeut4; the moroseness ' of the Puritan should recollect that they are to some e. tent ridiculing that reserve ' upon which modern Englishmen are gene-. rally accustomed to pride themselves. The Cavalier less (if separated from its less pleasing accompaniments) socially welcome on many occasions ; but the general feeling of modern England would equally ' rebel' against its frivolous heartlessnesswhen applied to the more important concerns of life. Place an Englishman of acknowledged high principle and good sense, and at the same time a social favourite of the pre. sent day, among the questions and feelings of the days of Charles I.,
would he in any essential point, differ from the Riots and Hampdens of the Puritan party ? Even now, the presence of great and unwonted eventa exercises an extraordinary influence on the bearing and language of Eng. Hal:linen of all classes ; and the religious expressions which appeared strange if not hypocritical in the mouths of the dead Puritans' have not sounded So unnatural and insincere when proceedig spontaneously from the camp. fires before Sebastopol."
A striking feature of the book is its "characters." They are of all kinds and classes, from the King and Cromwell to men who only occupy a passing place in history. These portraits are, as a whole, one of the most interesting and original parts of the work from the author's thorough study of the men. This estimate of the Duke of Buckingham, the elder Villiers, though confined to one aspect of his character has, we think, novelty and truth.
"The Duke has often been spoken of as a weak man, of no talent; but though it were easy to reconcile with such a character any amount of favour with the old King, he must have possessed other qualities to secure the at- tachment of the Prince. George Villiers was the first and the last when Charles admitted into his entire confidence; and this marked preference (so significant in its bearing on the question of that prince's real character) must have had its origin in some powerful motives. Fear could not have been the actuating cause, for the whole tenour of Charles's conduct towards the favourite shows that the intimacy which the latter enjoyed sprang from a genuine feeling of affection. The bond between them, created by a com-
panionship in early idebaucheries, not at all adequate as an explanation. Whatever his occasional excesses, Charles seems to have been in general nearly as indifferent to such indulgences as he was to the infamy with which they had covered the character of Villiers. He had neither the violent pas. dons which suggest some excuse for these excesses, nor the lively moral sensibility which is deeply wounded by their association with the name of so intimate a friend. He had neither the taste for them, nor (as was appa- rent enough) any keen feeling of disgust at their occurrence in so gross a form. We must seek elsewhere for a solution of his conduct towards the Duke. There was in the Stuarts no more strongly-marked characteristic than excessive self-appreciation, and a jealousy of anything which might seem to imply in others the absence of an equal appreciation of their supe- rior understanding, and a want of due deference to their elevated rank. They only tolerated a man of superior talent under the condition that he never himself placed, or allowed others to place, his genius in favourable comparison with them. They were, as has been already seen in the ease of James, more covetous of the outward appearance of authority than of actual though concealed power. Buckingham knew well how greatly Charles was affected by this feeling ; and when he found it necessary to gain the young Prince, appears to have regulated his conduct carefully by a consideration to it. This man, so overbearing with others, and in his behaviour to the old King at length so rude and so tyrannical, was towards Charles familiar in his manner, but outwardly deferential to his judgment; and gained power by the contrast. Showing him that he possessed the courage to be insolent, he made in favour of Charles a marked difference, which was in itself a tacit compliment to the superior character of the heir to the crown. To grasp, apparently, at the whole power of the state, and then to affect a deference to the wishes of the future King; to stealthily insinuate into the nun' d of his unconscious pupil the ideas to which, when once adopted and brought forward by Charles, he would be prepared to give an implicit assent; to affect a recklessness and extravagance in his public conduct so as to suggest the idea of a deficiency in judgment, and thus lead the Prince to infer the perpetual need of his controlling caution ; to exhibit a willingness to encounter the wrath of the King, or the impeachments of the Commons, in obeying the wishes which he had himself created ; never to affect popu- larity at the expense but always for the apparent advantage of the Prince ; and to seem to owe honours and even life to the protection of Charles, while maintaining, in the face of an angry nation, the so-called interests of his master ; in short, to appear to have no independent footing of his own, and no safety but in the continuance of the Prince's favour ; and to become es- sential to Charles by making it seem that Charles was essential to him : to do all this successfully, as George Villiers did, proves the existence in him of no mean talents. That they did not raise him to a higher position in the history of his country is to be attributed partly to the extent to which they were weakened, and their effects counteracted, by fearful attendant vices, and partly to the necessities of his position, which, from the very nature of the tenure by which his favour with Charles was held, forbade the exhibi- tion of any great or striking genius. It was the inevitable result of the Stuart character that nothing but inferior talent could both serve them zea- lously and preserve their goodwill."
The accumulation of particulars, sometimes minute in them- selves, which Mr. Sanford has collected, prove that Cromwell had acquired as considerable a reputation and influence as a pii- vate gentleman of moderate means could well attain to, before his return to the Long Parliament. Similar evidence shows that he had experience in public business, and some training in government, before he appeared as a leader upon the public scene. See what a call was made upon him in the early days of the Long Parliament.
"It has been ascertained that ;within the first ten months of the Long Parliament, and before the recess, which began on the 9th of September 1641, Cromwell was specially appointed to eighteen committees, exclusir of various appointments amongst the knights and burgesses generally of the
. eastern counties. The most important matters fell within the province of several of these committees, and some of them will come specially before our notice."
The most entirely historical narrative in the book is the ac- count of the battle of Long Marston Moor, though it verges upon special or topographical history. . The action seems to have been as regards tactics .or military science a poor affair. Neither array took up a "position ; and a ditch was a difficulty to both armies. The action was brought on against the intention of either side by the (seemingly spontaneous) advance of a few - oy alists• So far as soldiership determined the battle it was won r by the stubborn determination of Cromwell's ironsides and the vigilant prudence of their commander ; but fortune or Ruperes conclusion had something to do with the defeat—" I am sure my men fought well, anti know no reason of our rout but this, be- cause the devil did help his servants." In his local explorations the author has picked up some traditions of the battle, not equal to "the height of its great argument."
"The village answers literally to its name, consisting of one street of about a mile in length. The villlgers would seem, if their own tradition is to be trusted, to have been previously in a blissful state of ignorance as to the nature of the great conflict going on in their native country. The story
• at Marston is, that a true son of the soil, pacing peacefully over his familiar sods, was accosted by a soldier, who, in the authoritative tone so alarming to civilians, demanded Whom he was for, King or Parliament ? " Whaat ! has them two fallen out, then ? ' is said to have been the naive reply of our Marstonian. Further tradition sayeth not; but my informant was of opin- ion that, excepting a conviction of a battle having taken place there, few of the villagers of Marston in the present day had advanced beyond the know- ledge of the Civil War possessed by the villager of 1644. Although her own ancestor (of the name of Acomb) was constable of Marston at the time of the battle, and she herself had a very accurate traditionary knowledge of the localities of the struggle, all the special knowledge which had descended to her from that important functionary was that his oxen were pressed by one side or the other into the service of dragging the ordnance ; that one Of the cattle was killed by a shot while in the harness ; and that, when they wished to stop to extricate the dying animal, the order came ' Push for- ward !' Such are the incidents which live in memory, while the more im- portant facts of history are buried in hopeless oblivion."
The incidents which live in memory are those which interest the persons who remember ; and the death of Mr. Acomb's ox was more to him than manoeuvres which he could not understand. We are not so sure as to the "naïve," and " blissful " ignorance of the rustic. It looks like a Yorkshire stroke, to achieve a safe neutrality. The Parliamentary army had been besieging York for nearly three months, and the affair must surely have known at Marston.