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The stars, like commons, sullenly obey;
Which yet more glorious triumphs do portend;
Whom nature did like captives treat before ;
Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heard;
And bravely fought where southern stars arise;
And that, which bribed our fathers, made our prize.
* The author seems to allude to the old proverb, “ Sapiens dominabitur astris.” The influence of the stars yielded reluctantly to Cromwell's heroic virtues, as the commons submit sullenly to be taxed.
† Note XIV.
| Note XV.
§ Note XVI.
XXXII. Such was our prince; yet owned a soul above
The highest acts it could produce to show :
But when fresh laurels courted him to live: He seemed but to prevent some new success, As if above what triumphs earth could give.
As near the centre motion doth increase ;
The giant prince of all her watry herd;
But faction now by habit does obey;
His name a great example stands, to show, How strangely high endeavours may be blessed,
Where piety and valour jointly go.
Who would before have borne him to the sky,
St. I. p. 8. Cromwell's disease, a fever and tertian ague, was accompanied by fits of swooning, which occasioned, more than once, a premature report of his death. It was probably this circumstance, which made some of his fanatical chaplains doubt the fact, after it had actually taken place. “Say not he is dead,” exclaimed one of them, like Omar over the corpse of Mahomet; “ for, it ever the Lord heard my prayers, he has assured me of the life of the Protector." The two last lines of the stanza allude to the Roman custom of letting an eagle fly from the funeral pile of a deceased emperor, which represented his spirit soaring to the regions of bliss, or his guardian genius convoying it thither. It is described at length in the fourth book of Herodian, who says, that, after this ceremony of consecration, the deceased emperor was enrolled among the Roman deities.
But to her ancient servants coy and hard,)
St. VIII. p. 9. Cromwell was upwards of forty before he made any remarkable figure; and Pompey, when he had attained the same period of life, was deserted by the good fortune which had accompanied his more early career,
First sought to inflame the parties, then to puise :
St. XI. p. 10. Essex, Manchester, Sir William Waller, and the earlier generals of the Parliament, were all of the Presbyterian party, who, though they had drawn the sword against the king, had no will to throw away the scabbard. They were disposed so to carry on the war, that, neither party being too much weakened, a sound and honourable peace might have been accomplished on equal terms. But the Independants flew at higher game; and, as the more violent party usually prevail during times of civil discord, they attained their object. Cromwell openly accused the Earl of Manchester of having refused to put an end to the war, after the last battle at Newbury, when a single charge upon the King's rear might have dissipated his
for " I offered," he averred, " to perform the work with my own brigade of horse; let Manchester and the rest look on, if they thought fit: but he obstinately refused to permit the attempt, alleging, that, if the king's army was beaten, he would find another; but if that of the Parliament was overthrown, there would be an end of their cause, and they would be all punished as traitors.” This suspicion of the compromising temper of the Presbyterian leaders, led to the famous self-denying ordinance, by which all members of both houses were declared incapable of holding a military command. By this new model, all the power of the army was thrown, nominally, into the hands of Fairfax, but, really and effectually, into that of Cromwell, who was formally excepted from the operation of the act, and of the Independants ; men determined to push the war to extremity, and who at length triumphed over both King and Parliament.
10. This passage, which seems to imply nothing farther than that Cromwell conducted the war so as to push it to a conclusion, was afterwards invidiously interpreted by Dryden's enemies, as containing an explicit approbation of the execution of Charles I.
Thus, in the panegyric quoted in the introductory remarks to
Such wonders have thy powerful raptures shewn,
His souls of heroes and great chiefs expired,
The same accusation is urged in another libel, called “The Laureat:"
Nay, had our Charles, by Heaven's severe decree,
And gave the royal cause a fatal overthrow!
I for the Royal Martyr first declared,
Dialogue in Bedlam between Oliver's Porter, Fidler, and Poet.
These are examples of the inveteracy, with which Dryden's enemies were ready to wrest his expressions from the common interpretation into one more strong and unwarrantable. Dryden, sufficiently embarrassed by the praises he had bestowed on the Usurper, a charge from which he could not vindicate himself, book no notice of the uncandid lengths to which it was carried.
Till by new mups the island might be shewn ;
St. XIV. p. 10.