Imatges de pÓgina
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ART III.-Acts and Ordinances of the Long Parliament.

In a former number, it was attempted to give a general and comprehensive view of the financial measures adopted by the leaders of the Commonwealth, with reference to the forfeited estates of delinquents; in the present, we will give a few instances of the mode in which these measures were carried into execution by the agents interested in the management of them. In order to this, let us first contemplate the portraiture of one of these agents, by the hands of one, who (in his day) was esteemed a master-painter.

"The character of a Country Committee-man, with the ear-mark of a Sequestrator."

"A Committee-man, by his name, should be one that is possessed; there is number enough in it to make an epithet for Legion; he is persona in concreto; (to borrow the solecism of a modern statesman,) you must translate it by the Red-Bull Phrase, and speak as properly: Enter seven devils solus. It is a well-trussed title, that contains both the Number and the Beast; for a Committee-man is a noun of multitude; he must be spelled with figures, like Antichrist wrapped in a pair-royal of sixes. Thus, the name is as monstrous as the man, a. complex notion, of the same lineage with accumulative treason. For his office it is the heptarchy, or England's fritters; it is the broken meat of a crumbling prince, only the royalty is greater; for it is here, as it is in the miracle of loaves, the voyder exceeds the bill of fare. The pope and he ring the changes; here is the plurality of crowns to one head,-join them together, and there is a harmony in discord. The triple-headed turnkey of heaven, with the triple-headed porter of hell. A Committee-man is the reliques of regal government, but, like holy reliques, he out-bulks the substance whereof he is a remnant. There is a score of kings in a committee, as, in the reliques of the cross, there is the number of twenty. This is the giant with the hundred hands, that wields the sceptre; the tyrannical bead-roll, by which the kingdom prays backward, and at every curse drops a Committee-man. Let Charles be waved, whose condescending clemency aggravates the defection, and makes Nero the question-better a Nero than a Committee. There is less execution by a single bullet than by case-shot.

"Now, a committee-man is a party-coloured officer. He must be drawn like Janus with cross and pile in his countenance; as he relates to the soldiers, or faces about to his fleecing the country. Look upon him martially, and he is a justice of war; one that has bound his Dalton up in buff, and will needs be of the quorum to the best commanders. He is one of Mars his lay-elders, he shares in the govern

* See vol. ix. p. 122.

ment, though a non-conformist to his bleeding Rubrick. He is the like sectary in arms, as the Platonic is in love; keeps a fluttering in discourse, but proves a haggard in the action. He is not of the soldiers, and yet of his flock. He is an emblem of the golden age (and such, indeed, he makes it to him) when so tame a pigeon may converse with vultures. Methinks, a Committee hanging about a governor, and bandileers dangling about a furred alderman, have an anagram resemblance. There is no syntax between a cap of maintenance and a helmet. Who ever knew an enemy routed by a grand jury and a Billa vera? It is a left-handed garrison, where their authority perches; but the more preposterous, the more in fashion; the right-hand fights, while the left rules the reins. The truth is, the soldier and the gentleman are like Don Quixote and Sancho Pancha: one fights at all adventures to purchase the other the government of the island. A Committee-man, properly, should be the governor's mattress to fit his truckle, and to new-string him with sinews of war; for his chief use is to raise assessments in the neighbouring wapentake.

"The country people being like an Irish cow that will not give down her milk, unless she sees her calf before her: hence it is, he is the garrison's dry-nurse, he chews their contribution before he feeds them so the poor soldiers live like Trochilus, by picking the teeth of this sacred crocodile.

"So much for his warlike or ammunition-face, which is so preternatural, that it is rather a vizard than a face; Mars in him hath but a blinking aspect, his face of arms is like his coat, Partie per pale, soldier and gentleman, much of a scantling.

"Now to enter his taxing and deglubing face, a squeezing look, like that of Vespasianus, as if he were bleeding over a close-stool.

"Take him thus, and he is in the inquisition of the purse an authentic gypsie, that nips your bung with a canting ordinance; not a murdered fortune in all the country but bleeds at the touch of this malefactor. He is the spleen of the body politic, that swells itself to the consumption of the whole. At first, indeed, he ferreted for the parliament, but since that he has got off his cope he set up for himself. He lives upon the sins of the people, and that is a good standing dish too. He verifies the axiom, Eisdem nutritur ex quibus componitur his diet is suited to his constitution; I have wondered often, why the plundered countrymen should repair to him for succour: certainly, it is under the same notion, as one whose pockets are picked goes to Moll Cut-purse, as the predominant in that faculty.

"He out-dives a Dutchman; gets a noble of him that was never worth sixpence; for the poorest do not escape, but, Dutch-like, he will be dreyning, even in the driest ground. He aliens a delinquent's estate with as little remorse as his other holiness gives away an heretic's kingdom; and for the truth of the delinquency, both chapmen have as little share of infallibility. Lye is the grand salad of arbitrary government, 'executor to the star-chamber and the high commission; for those courts are not extinct; they survive in him like dollars changed into single money. To speak the truth, he is the universal tribunál : for since the times all causes fall to his cognizance as, in a great in

VOL. XII. PART I.

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fection, all the diseases turn oft to the plague. It concerns our masters (the parliament) to look about them; if he proceedeth at this rate, the jack may come to swallow the pike, as the interest often eats out the principal. As his commands are great, so he looks for a reverence accordingly. He is punctual in exacting your hat, and to say right, is his due; but by the same title as the upper garment is the vails of the executioner. There was a time, when such cattle would hardly have been taken upon suspicion for men in office, unless the old proverb were answered, that the beggars make a free company, and those the wardens. You may see what it is to hang together. Look upon them severally, and you cannot but fumble for some threads of charity. But oh! they are termagants in conjunction ! like fiddlers, who are rogues, when they go single, and, joined in consort, gentlemen musicianers. I care not, if I untwist my Committee-man, and so give him the receipt for this grand catholicon.

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"Take a state-martyr; one that, for his good behaviour, hath paid the excise of his ears, so suffered captivity by the land-piracy of ship-money; next, a primitive freeholder; one that hates the king because he is a gentleman, transgressing the Magna Charta of delving Adam. Add to these, a mortified bankrupt, that helps out his false weights with some scruples of conscience, and with his peremptory scales can doom his prince with a MENE TEKEL. These, with a new blue stocking'd-justice, lately made of a good basket-hilted yeoman, with a short-handed clerk tacked to the rear of him, to carry the knap-sack of his understanding; together with two or three equivocal sirs, whose religion, (like their gentility,) is the extract of their acres; being, therefore, spiritual, because they are earthly; not forgetting the man of the law, whose corruption gives the Hogan to the sincere juncto. These are the simples of this precious compound; a kind of Dutch hotch-potch, the Hogan Mogan Committee-man.

"The Committee-man hath a side-man, or rather a setter, (hight a sequestrator,) of whom you may say, as of the great sultan's horse,where he treads, the grass grows no more. He is the state's cormorant; one that fishes for the public, but feeds himself; the misery is, he fishes without the cormorant's property, a rope to strengthen the gullet, and to make him disgorge. A sequestrator! He is the devil's nut-hook; the sign with him is always in the clutches. There are more monsters retain to him, than to all the limbs in anatomy. It is strange, physicians do not apply him to the soles of the feet in a desperate fever; he draws far beyond pigeons. I hope some mountebank will slice him, and make the experiment. He is a tooth-drawer once removed; here is the difference one applauds the grinder, the other the grist. Never, till now, could I verify the poet's description, that the ravenous harpy had a human visage. Death himself cannot quit scores with him; like the demoniac in the gospel, he lives among tombs; nor is the holy water, shed by widows and orphans, a sufficient exorcism to dispossess him. Thus the cat sucks your breath, and the fiend your blood; nor can the brotherhood of witch-finders, so sagely instituted, with all their terrors, wean the familiars.

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But, once more, to single out my embossed Committee-man ;

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his face (for, I know, you would fain see an end of him) is either a whipping audit, when he is wrung in the withers by a committee of examinations, (and so the spunge weeps out the moisture which he had soaked before) or else he meets his passing-peal in the clamorous meeting of a gut-foundered garrison: for the hedge-sparrow will be feeding with the cuckoo, till he mistake his commons and bites off her head. Whatever it is, it is within his desert: for what is observed of, some creatures, that, at the same time, they trade in productions three stories high, suckling the first, big with the second, and clicketing for the third. A committee-man is the counterpart; his mischief is superfœtation, a certain scale of destruction; for he ruins the father, beggars the son, and strangles the hopes of all posterity."

(Cleveland's Works, 1687, page 72.)

It was after this fashion, that the wits of poor Charles's court amused themselves, and each other, in their little world of Oxford, by laughing at the formidable opponents, who were so shortly to become their masters; and, though we would not undertake to display the hidden meaning of half the evanescent allusions with which the foregoing piece of satire abounds, we find it sufficiently intelligible to justify, in a great degree, the opinion of the day, which placed Cleveland at the head of the poets and pamphleteers of the Cavalier party. His character of a London" Diurnal-maker," which immediately follows, is no less remarkable for point and humour; and his bantering correspondence with the parliament officer, who summoned the garrison of Newark to surrender, (though we doubt whether his antagonist had not rather the advantage of him, even in the use of those bloodless weapons on which he most prided himself) afford a most lively sketch of the manners of the times, which we shall gladly insert in another part of our work.

It is to the brilliancy of imagination displayed by such writers as Cleveland and Butler, succeeded by a host of wits cast in the same mould, who came in after them at the Restoration, no less than to the exalted qualities of an historian, possessed by Clarendon, and revived (after the lapse of a century) in Hume, with the same prepossessions and prejudices, that is mainly to be ascribed the prevalence of false and distorted notions respecting the characters, talents, and motives of the great founders of our English commonwealth, from which their memories ought to have been kept. sacred by the consideration of the vast obligation we lie under to them for the possession of all that is most valuable in our laws and liberties, and of the ties of descent and affinity by which we are most of us, in some way or other, connected with them. It is difficult to say upon what principle the habitual veneration in which we hold the names of our grand-fathers and great grand-fathers, should be

taught to fail us at the moment when we reach the most memorable and eventful period of our domestic annals, even though it burst out again (as from behind a cloud) with redoubled lustre, upon our ascending to the fabled glories of the Elizabethan era. The same blood flowed in the veins of the Long Parliament's champions which had circulated through those of the conquerors at Agincourt and the opposers of the Armada; the same which tinged the waves of Trafalgar, and deluged the plains of Waterloo. Were they not, equally,

―――――

"Those noblest English,
Who fetch'd their blood from fathers of war-proof?"

Are we not equally bound to

"Dishonour not our mothers, and attest

That those whom we call fathers did beget us?"

Or are we permitted, in our zeal for (so-termed) loyalty, and our abhorrence of (so-named) rebellion, to forget that the stiffrumped Puritans, whom we hold up to ridicule, were, nevertheless, (the major part of them,)

"Good yeomen,

Whose limbs were made in England, and who shew'd
The mettle of their pasture?"

Or that, with all the hypocritical grimace which we are so apt (upon the testimony of their sworn enemies) to impute to them,

"There were none so mean and base That had not noble lustre in their eyes?"

"Some historians," says Máy, in his preface to The History of the Parliament, "who seem to abhor direct falsehood, have, notwithstanding, dressed truth in such improper vestments as if they brought her forth to act the same part that falsehood would; and taught her, by rhetorical disguises, partial concealments, and invective expressions, instead of informing, to seduce a reader, and carry the judgment of posterity after that bias which themselves have made." And, in treating of the history of such a period, it seems that we cannot, even at our present distance from it, too carefully keep in mind what the same historian says respecting it. "The subject of this work is a civil war; a war, indeed, as much more than civil, and as full of miracle, both in the causes and

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