« AnteriorContinuar »
next day. But Blake having been joined with eighteen fresh ships during the night, the Dutch were completely beaten, and only saved themselves by retiring among the flats and shallows of their own coast. The Dutch now attempted to resume negotiation; and the final defeat and death of their gallant admiral, Van Tromp, in an action with Monk, off the Texel, stimulated them to urge for peace, even at the expense of considerable concessions. At last a treaty was signed in April, 1654, on terms highly honourable to England.
In Cromwell's first parliament, which met in September, 1654, Blake was once more chosen to represent his native town of Bridgewater. But his services could not long be spared from other scenes. In the month of November, he was despatched, with a formidable fleet, to the Mediterranean, for the purpose of enforcing respect towards the English flag from the Barbary powers. In this object he so completely succeeded, that the Algerines released all their English prisoners without ransom, and the Tunisians, after having had their forts battered about their ears, and their shipping entirely destroyed, sued for peace on the most humble terms. Blake next proceeded to call several minor Christian powers to account for injuries inflicted on English commerce by them; among the rest, the knights of Malta were compelled to make reparation, and the duke of Tuscany to pay £60,000, in shape of compensation to English subjects. By such vigorous enterprises at sea, as well as by the consummate policy pursued in all negotiations with foreign states, the protector raised his country to the most enviable political preponderance amongst the states of Europe. On the capture of Jamaica, and the breaking out of the Spanish war, Blake scoured the Mediterranean, and inflicted a severe blow on the commerce of Spain.
The career of this distinguished officer was now drawing to a close. Dropsy and scurvy combined had already made dreadful ravages on his constitution, and, at his own suggestion, Admiral Montague had been appointed his colleague, to take charge of the fleet in the event of his decease at sea. The last service which he rendered his country was the destruction of a Spanish fleet, which had put into Santa Cruz. This was achieved in the face of very formidable obstacles,—so great, indeed, that the action has been censured by professional men as rash in the extreme. An incident which occurred in this engagement affords a fine specimen of the inflexible integrity and genuine patriotism of Blake. During the action, his brother, Captain Humphrey Blake, who commanded a ship for the first time, showed some symptoms of fear, which were observed by or reported to the admiral. The defaulter was immediately cashiered, and sent home, as unfit for fighting his country's battles. But while he thus sacrificed his private feelings to his sense of public duty, he continued to cherish towards his unfortunate brother the most fraternal feelings, and at his death bequeathed to him his paternal estate. After cruising some time before Cadiz, feeling his end approaching, he became anxious to return home, that he might at least expire on the soil which gave him birth. His desire, however, was denied him, for he breathed his last just as the fleet reached Plymouth sound. He died on board the St George, on the 17th of August, 1657. The protector and parliament evinced their high estimation of the man by affording him a magnificent public funeral.
With regard to the public and professional character of Blake, all
authorities are agreed that it was as nearly immaculate as humanity could be. From the moment of his entrance into public life. up to the day of his decease, he stood aloof from every thing like cabal and partyintrigue, and felt and acted as the servant of the commonwealth alone In his own peculiar department he soon made himself without a rival either amongst his foes or his countrymen; he gave a new character to naval warfare, and it may be safely asserted that much of the pasi and present maritime superiority of Britain originated in the skill and bravery of Blake.
BORN A, D. 1618.-DIED A, D. 1657.
A PERSONAGE who occupies a remarkable place in the history of the English common
onwealth, is John Lilburne. He has been happily called "the William Cobbett of the 17th century."! He was descended from an ancient family in the county-palatine of Durham, and was born at his father's seat at Thickney-Purcharden, in 1618. His elder brother, Robert, held a colonel's commission in the army of the parliament, and served with considerable distinction in the civil wars. Another brother, Henry, fell in the campaign of 1648. John, being a younger son, was designed for a trade, and, at the age of twelve years, was apprenticed to a draper in the city of London. His master, we are informed, was attached to the puritan party, and the apprentice enjoyed frequent opportunities of frequenting the sermons of the divines of that class, and perusing the numerous polemical and political publications which emanated from the body. When only nineteen years of age, he was introduced to the two celebrated pamphleteers, Prynne and Bastwick, then suffering imprisonment for the writing of libels. In young Lilburne these two enthusiastic politicians found an apt and ardent pupil. Entering fully into all their views, and especially their anti-prelatic sentiments, the youth volunteered to carry a piece which Bastwick had lately written against the bishops to Holland, for the purpose of getting it printed there. He despatched this commission with great alertness, and returned to England in a short time, bringing with him an edition of the • Merry Liturgy,' as it was called, and several pieces of a similar kind, which he proceeded to disseminate secretly throughout the country. For this offence he was brought before the star-chamber, in 1638, and sentenced to be whipped, pilloried, imprisoned, and fined in £500. Nothing daunted by this sharp dealing, he underwent his sentence with all the spirit and constancy of a martyr. From the pillory he uttered many bold speeches against the bishops, and even dispersed his obnoxious pamphlets among the surrounding crowd. Being at length gagged, and thus prevented from giving audible expression to his sentiments, he manifested his indignation by stamping furiously with his feet. The spirit he showed upon this occasion procured him the nick-name of “free-born John,' from the royalists, while his own party hailed him with the appellation of saint. In prison he was at first load
"Westminster Review, vol. viii. p. 342.
ed with double irons in one of the closest wards, but was afterwards treated with less harshness, and allowed a little more liberty. The first use which he made of this change in situation, was to publish a pamphlet of his own, entitled, The Christian Man's Trial,' which he followed up with Nine Arguments against Episcopacy,' and several • Epistles to the Wardens of the Fleet. Nothing daunted his courage or outwearied his perseverance; and, having the most perfect confidence in himself, and the soundness and justice of his principles, he persisted in the career on which he had entered with an unshrinking firmness of determination, which won for him the sympathy and respect of the more enlightened part of the community, and the applause and confidence of the populace.
In November, 1640, the parliament granted him the liberties of the Fleet; on the 3d of May, next year, he appeared at the head of the mob who demanded the execution of Strafford, and next day he was brought before the bar of the lords for an alleged assault upon Colonel Lumsford, the governor of the Tower. But the temper of the times favoured his acquittal, and, on the very same day, a vote was passed in the house of cominons, declaring his former sentence illegal and tyrannical, and ordering that he should have reparation for his sufferings and losses. In the beginning of the civil wars, he held the commission of a captain of foot, and, being taken prisoner by the king's troops at Brentford, was conducted to Oxford and tried for high treason. He defended his conduct with dauntless intrepidity, but was only saved from execution by a declaration from the parliament, that, in case he suffered, a strict retaliation should be exacted upon the royalist prisoners then in their power. Soon after this, Lilburne attached himself to Cromwell's party, and obtained a majority of foot in King's regiment. King acted either an imbecile or a traitorous part at the siege of Newark, and Lilburne appeared his accuser. In consequence of this, the former was removed from all his employments, while Lilburne was rewarded with a lieutenantcolonelcy in Manchester's own regiment of dragoons, in which charge he conducted himself with singular bravery at Marston-moor.
When the scheme of an agreement of the people for placing the new constitution of England on the firmest basis was presented to parliament, in 1649, by the council of war, Lilburne violently opposed the
His favourite maxim was, that extraordinary cases did not require extraordinary remedies, and that the usual course of law and justice was equal to all emergencies. Hence he stoutly resisted the institution of a high court of justice, and declared that he saw no reason why the king should not be tried in the ordinary way, as well as any other man. The law, he contended, was plain and positive on this point: He that commits murder shall die. It did not say, except the murderer be a king, a queen, or a prince. The king, therefore, was as liable to the operation of the ordinary law as any other man, and ought, accordingly, to be tried by twelve sworn men. It was thought better to soothe the ever-restless demagogue at this critical juncture, and, if possible, to get him removed from the metropolis. Accordingly, the ordinance for granting him the sum of £3,000, by way of compensation for the unjust treatment he had received at the hands of the star-chamber, but which
Legal Fundamental Liberties.
had rather lingered in its progress through the house, was pushed through, and received the final sanction of both houses ; and, imme. diately thereafter, Lilburne set out in pursuit of the compensation thus awarded him, which was to be raised from the estates of three delinquents, in the county of Durham. He, however, soon presented himself again in the metropolis. He had obtained only a small part of the suin awarded him; but money was nothing to him, compared with the delights of agitation and political brawling. His first experiments, on his return, were made upon the army, and such was his influence with them, that Fairfax could only interrupt his intrigues by forbidding all private meetings of officers or soldiers. Baffled in this quarter, the demagogue next presented himself at the bar of the commons with a plan of an agreement of the people, prepared according to his own ideas. Meeting with no encouragement at this hand, he next had recourse to the press, and published his protestation, under the title of
England's New Chains Discovered.' This was soon followed by a • Second Part, which the house of commons voted seditious and scandalous, and, in consequence, Lilburne, and his coadjutors, William Walwyn, Thomas Prince, and Richard Overton, were sent to the Tower. It was much easier, however, to imprison the men themselves than to prevent the dissemination of their sentiments. A spirit of discontent and mutiny soon evidenced itself in the army, which showed that the seed sown by Lilburne had fallen upon congenial soil. To such a height had the spirit of insurrection risen among the soldiery, that one of them who was publicly shot in St Paul's church-yard for refusing to march upon his colonel's orders, received a splendid public funeral. One thousand soldiers went before the corpse, five or six in a file; then followed the corpse itself, with six trumpets sounding a soldier's knell ; next the horse of the deceased, covered with mourning; and the procession was closed with several thousand men, with seagreen and black ribands, and a great number of women. The first open act of rebellion was at Banbury, in Oxfordshire. It was soon put down; but, at Salisbury, matters assumed a darker aspect. The insurgents mustered above a thousand strong, and attempted to form a junction with their associates in Warwick, Oxford, and Gloucestershire. The energies of Cromwell and Fairfax were now roused; by a rapid inarch they came unexpectedly upon the insurgents, who surrendered at discretion. The advantage thus gained was skilfully improved ; the whole affair was buried in oblivion, and, by the union of firmness and leniency on the part of its leaders, the whole army was, in a short space, reduced to their duty. A more difficult and delicate task remained to achieve. The insurrection had been put down, but its manifest author was yet to be dealt with. After much hesitation, it was finally resolved to try Lilburne and his associates before the upper bench. Meanwhile parliament was assailed with petitions on behalf of the prisoners, and even the women of London besieged the doors of the house of commons from day to day, to urge that their favourite should be set at liberty. The government keenly felt its embarrassment, and ultimately resolved to abandon the prosecution. It provided, however, for future emergencies, by getting a bill passed, declaring what offences shall be adjudged to be treason. Soon after, Lilburne was dismissed on bail.
The 'audacious and intrepid sower of sedition,' nothing daunted by the experience of the past, was scarcely clear of the Tower, belore he re-commenced his attacks on the government by the publication of a political discourse, entitled, “The Legal Fundamental Liberties of the People of England, revived, asserted, and vindicated.' In this piece he calls the commons a company of bloody and inhuman butchers;" and, towards the close, he addresses the heads of the government in these terms: “Oh Cromwell, Fairfax, Ireton, Haselrig, I will answer you as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, of old, answered your brothertyrant, Nebuchadnezzar !” This invective was followed up by another, equally bitter, entitled, 'An Impeachment of High Treason against Cromwell and Ireton ;' and, on the back of this, came a still more dan. gerous piece, entitled, “The Outcry of the Apprentices.' In this last, Lilburne renewed his tampering with the soldiery. The government was now driven upon strong measures. A commission of oyer and terminer for the trial of such persons as were concerned in the publication of the • Outcry' was issued, and, three days after, Lilburne was re-conducted to the Tower. He now, for the first time, seems to have become alarmed for himself, and made an offer to withdraw to America on payment of the arrears of compensation-money due to him. Of this offer no notice was taken, and his trial was allowed to proceed. It lasted two days, and terminated with a verdict of acquittal. His defence was bold and ingenious, but the conduct of the judges, in refusing to allow him counsel, and their unjust and overbearing manner towards him, seems to have disgusted the minds of the jury, and to have determined them to acquit the prisoner.
The arch-agitator remained quiet after this for the extraordinary period of two years. At the end of this period, he attacked Sir Arthur Haselrig in a virulent tract, for some proceedings of the committee of sequestration, of which Sir Arthur was chairman. Haselrig was a man highly respected and beloved by the leading republicans ; and a committee being appointed to examine into Lilburne's charges, they pronounced them defamatory. The conclusion of the business was, that Lilburne was sentenced to pay a severe fine, and to be banished for life. This occurred in January, 1652.
The place of retreat which the exiled demagogue made choice of was Holland. Here he found himself surrounded by royalists,—the very men whom of all others he had inost reason to dread. The fear of assassination was now perpetually haunting him, and at last he resolved to sacrifice character to personal safety, and flung himself fairly and at once into the hands of the royalists, by making a proposition to them to overturn the existing government of England, provided the requisite means were furnished him. These means were only £10,000; with this sum, he said, he could get a number of tracts printed at Amsterdam and dispersed over England, before the influence of which, Cromwell and his party would not be able to stand six months. His proposals were not accepted; and he next applied himself to obtain a re. peal of the sentence of banishment by addressing a respectful and conciliatory letter to Cromwell. But his entire character and conduct had disgusted the man who had often before exhibited much generosity of temper towards him, and he treated the application with scornful silence. Disappointed in this, Lilburne resolved to brave all conse