Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

profeffion it is to maffacre their fellow-crcatures. Cromwell, it must be remembered, was educated to a liberal profeffion, and went through the regular exercises of a claffical fchool, and the univerfity of Cambridge, at a period too when learning was not in neglect. If therefore we compare this with the common routine of court education, there will appear but little reafon for the epithet He was certainly not a man of tafte; but we are affured from the beft authority that he was a proficient in the Latin language, and far from ignorant in thofe branches of knowledge which were at that period held moft in eftimation. But whatever he might be himfelf as a fcholar, he certainly may be confidered as a patron of literature. His liberal encouragement of that great undertaking, the Polyglot Bible, is a fact well known ; and Mr. Hume himfeif acknowledges that Cromwell "was not infent.ble to literary merit. Ufher, notwithstanding his being a bishop, received a penfion from him. Marvel and Milton were in his fervice. Waller, who was his relation, was careffed by him. The poet always faid, that the protector himfelf was not fo wholly illiterate as was commonly imagined. He gave a hundred pounds a year to the divinity profeffor at Oxford; and an hiftorian mentions this bounty as an inftance of his love of literature, He intended to have erected a college at Durham for the benefit of the northern counties."

The learned Pococke and the indefatigable Brian Walton were noticed in our former volume, as among the moft eminent of thofe who in this country have cultivated the oriental languages; yet they were perhaps even excelled by Dr. John Lightfoot, vice-chancellor of Cambridge. He not only aflifted in the edition of the Polyglot, but thofe critical expofitions of fcripture which he published himfelf, have afforded a fund of reference to the best commentators, and are even yet in high reputation. Among thofe who excelled in claffical literature, Gataker must be mentioned with respect. To him the public are indebted for fome valuable annotations on ancient au

thors,

thors, and particularly for a moft valuable and correct edition of Antoninus's Meditations, with a very learned preliminary difcourfe on the philofophy of the ftoics. The ftudent of Roman literature would have caufe to complain, fhould we, on this occafion, omit the name of Adam Littleton, the laborious compiler of the Latin dictionary. He was educated under the celebrated Dr. Bufby at Weftminster fchool, and was himself fecond mafter of that feminary for fome years. Befides his dictionary, he published a confiderable number of other works in Latin and English, including fixty-one fermons; and his erudition was by no means confined to claffical literature, but he was alfo eminently verfed in oriental and rabbinical learning.

1

To the names mentioned in our last as perfons eminent in the study of antiquities, we have now to add those of Leland and of Fuller. The former of thefe has been ftyled the father of English antiquaries; but we think that title more applicable to fome whom we have formerly mentioned. His "Itinerary" is, however, a most elaborate and moft ufeful work; and, befides this, he published a number of tracts on the local antiquities of this country. Fuller is, perhaps, better known as an hiftorian and biographer than as an antiquary; yet a confiderable portion of his "Worthies" comes properly under the latter defcription, as well as his hiftory of Waltham Abbey, and of the univerfity of Cambridge. He was a man who abounded in wit, as every perfon must perceive who looks cafually into his church hiftory; and his memory was fo retentive, that the facts which are related of him in this respect, almost exceed belief.

The unfettled nature of the government at this period' would naturally give rife to much political fpeculation; yet few of the political productions of the times have reached pofterity. The moft voluminous and the most important writer of the age on thefe fubjects, is Harrington; and the character which Mr. Hume has given of him is not unfair. "Harrington's Oceana," fays he, "was

b 4

well

well adapted to that age, when the plans of imaginary republics were the daily fubjects of debate and converfation; and even in our time, it is justly admired as a work of genius and invention. The idea, however, of a perfect and immortal commonwealth will always be found as chimerical as that of a perfect and immortal man. The ftyle of this author wants eafe and fluency; but the good matter, which his work contains, makes compenfation. He died in 1677, aged fixty-fix." Mr. Hume might have added that the work of Harrington was a treasury from which he himself has ftolen much in his political effays. Mr. Hume, in another part of his hiftory, feems fond of reprefenting Harrington as an infidel; but we cannot perceive how this imputation accords with the authority which he seems to annex to the facred hiftory.

Though, however, the political writers of thofe times have, from various caufes, fallen into difrepute, yet there was an immenfe mafs of really valuable political knowledge afloat upon the public mind; and thofe who fpeculate upon political topics, cannot do better than confult the writers of this age. Even the refolves, declarations, and other public papers of committees and corporate bodies, abounded in hiftorical fact, and in judicious reflections. Some of thefe the reader will find referred to by Mrs. Macaulay in her hiftory. The parlia ment which was called by Cromwell in 1653, better known by the name of Barebone's Parliament, from the fingular name of one of its members, was treated with ridicule by the royálift party after the restoration; and Mr. Hume has ignorantly adopted their fneers as wellfounded accufations. His words are thefe:-"This parliament took into confideration the abolition of the clerical function, as favouring of popery; and the taking away of tithes, which they called a relic of Judaifm. Learning alfo and the univerfities were deemed heathenish and unneceffary: the common law was denominated a badge of the conqueft and of Norman flavery; and they threatened the lawyers with a total abrogation of their profeffion. Some steps were even taken towards an abolition of the

chancery,

chancery, the highest court of judicature in the kingdom; and the Mofaical law was intended to be established as the fole fyftem of English jurifprudence." But the fact is, that fcarcely one word of this allegation is true. In regard to the accufation relative to the univertities, it does not appear by the journals of parliament, that there was any motion of fuch a tendency made in the houfe and in regard to the accufation relative to the deftroying of the ecclefiaftical establishment, the intention of parliament, according to the account given by a member of that affembly, went no farther than reformation. "A bill," fays this writer," was offered on the day of the parliament's refignation, for rendering the revenues of the clergy more certain and equal, by reducing benefices of two hundred a year and upwards, and advancing thofe of a fmaller income; and alfo for the making provifion for the widows and children of minifters. This equitable propofal," continues the fame writer, "was refufed a reading. The charge, therefore, against one part of the house, of an intent to destroy the miniftry, was a groundless reproach, caft upon thofe who only endeavoured to take off oppreffions and grievances."

With refpect to a fcheme for reforming the fyftem of jurifprudence, it is most certain that a plan was in agitation to that effect, and a committee was appointed for the revifion of the laws, but by no means to reduce them to the Mofaical ftandard. Mr. Hume's irreligious prejudices probably rendered him abhorrent to any reference whatever to the Hebrew inftitutes; but furely there can be no reafon in the eyes of a chriftian, why thefe laws thould not be confulted, as well as thofe of Solon, Confucius, or any ancient lawgiver, whenever it is in agitation to amend or improve the legal fyftem of a chriftian country.

"In the courfe of the parliamentary debates, it was urged that the court of chancery was the greateft grievance of the nation; that, for dilatorinefs, chargeablenefs, and a faculty of bleeding the people in the purfe-vein, even to their utter perishing and undoing, that court might com

pare

pare, with, if not furpafs, any court in the world. It was confidently affirmed by knowing gentlemen of worth, that there were depending in that court twenty-three thoufand caufes, fome of which had been depending five, fome ten, fome twenty, and fome thirty years, and more; that there had been spent therein many thoufands of pounds, to the ruin, nay utter undoing, of many families; that hardly any fhip which failed in the fea of the law, but who firft or laft put into that port, and if they made any confiderable stay there, they fuffered fo much lofs that the remedy was as bad as the disease. Par. Hift. vol. xx. p. 198."

"When,' writes a member of this parliament, 'the vote was firft carried for a new body or model of law, a committee was chofen to that end, who met often, and had the help of fome gentlemen of worth, who had deferved well of their country, being true patriots, who liked the thing, as very useful and defirable; it being not a deftroyer of the law, or putting it down (as fome fcandaloufly reported), but a reducing the wholefome, juft, and good laws into a body, from them that are ufelefs and out of date.

"The way the committee took in order to their work muft needs be elaborate. It was by reducing the feveral laws to the proper heads to which they did belong, and fo modelling or embodying of them, taking knowledge of the nature of them, and what the law of God faid in the cafe, and how agreeable to right reafon they were; likewife how proportionable the punishment was to the offence or crime; and wherein there feemed any thing either deficient or exceffive, to offer a fupply and remedy, in order to rectifying the whole. The committee began with criminals. Treafon being the higheft, they confidered the kinds thereof, what was meet to be adjudged treafon in a free commonwealth, and what was meet to be the punishment of grand and petty treafon. Then they proceeded to murder, the kinds of it, and what was to be fo adjudged, and the punishment thereof. The like

they

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »