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After the defeat of Worcester, it is remarked by Lord Clarendon, all the royal and loyal party lay groveling and prostrate, under desolate apprehensions.*
A glance at the position of the republican leaders will show that never were such apprehensions so justly grounded, or so little overcharged.
Resistance to the great design of a republic was now at an end, in England, Ireland, and Scotland. In England, the avowed hostility of the levellers had become as harmless as the secret machinations of the loyalists. In Ireland, submission and solitude had been substituted, by an awful and unsparing hand, for turbulence and rebellion. In Scotland, the sturdiest presbyterian had at last surrendered to the victorious soldiers of independency even the sectarian loveliness and supremacy of his darling kirk. Scarcely a spot of British ground remained, on which, in right of a triumphant conquest, the banner of the English commonwealth did not stand firmly planted.
Nor had its champions won less considerati for it
in distant lands. Through every country in Europe they had proclaimed their purpose ; and vanquished enemies on all sides bore testimony to their power. The proud Don John of Portugal lay like the humblest vassal at the feet of Blake ; the haughty insolence of Spain had crawled into subservient alliance; the Dutch had surrendered their cherished title of sovereigns of the sea ; and, held down by the vigour and genius of our republican statesmen, the remaining potentates of Europe stood still with aweful eye.
But at the very root of such vast strength there lurked a mortal weakness. The government under which these results had been achieved, and by which alone the frame of things was now kept together, was avowedly a provisional government. It rested on no direct authority from the people. The men who were at the head of affairs had, by sublime talents and unconquerable energy, placed themselves there ; but in continuing to hold to office by no other bond, they seemed to confess that the people were against them. Daring and resolute in all things else, they fell short of their own high souls in this. It was because in other things they held their personal safety to be risked alone ; while in this they saw some peril to that grand design by which, as they fondly hoped, they were destined to secure the happiness of unborn generations of their countrymen. We alone, they reasoned, to whom this glorious republic owes its birth, are fit to watch over its
Our duty cannot be done, till we have taught England the practical blessings of the new system we have wrought. Under a republic she shall find herself greater than under any of her kings. Wealthy and secure, respected and honoured, she will recognise the value and the potency of the government we have formed; and, by her gratitude well repaid, we may then with safety deliver back into the hands of the people the authority we have wielded throughout for their benefit alone.
The reasoning, up to a certain point, must possibly be