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over the sea and shook even the dry land. Weird
lightning flashes, followed by crashing thunder peals,
added to the terrible sublimity of the scene. This wild
war of the elements without symbolized the fiercer con-



CROMWELL. 39

flict which raged in the breast of the Lord Protector.
For months and years he had moved about in hourly
apprehension of assassination. Now that the end was
nigh there was the absence of that imperial repose with
which Caesar confronted the daggers of conspiracy.
Nor was there the slightest token of that exhilaration
of soul which the great Napoleon felt when, from his
dying couch at Longwood, he seemed to watch the
heady surges of some new Leipsic or Austerlitz, and
with his parting breath shouted with the old time
emphasis: "Tete d' atmee !" On the contrary, the
vultures of remorse were preying on his vitals. In this
supreme hour of his destiny his single solace was found
in the Puritan dogma: "Once in grace always in
grace. 1 ' A few spasmodic contortions of the face, and
the once mailed hand was still and stark in death, and
the eagle eye that had so often flashed in the forefront
of the charging squadrons was quenched in the black
ness of darkness forever.

Whatever may be our estimate of Cromwell's states
manship, there can be no room for disagreement as to
the political consequences of his death. Beyond con
troversy that death was the downfall of Puritanism in
all its branches. He was its brain and its muscle, its
blood and its bones. True, he had provided with much
painstaking for the succession of his son Richard. But
between sire and son there was a broader disparity than
between Solomon and Rehoboam. Richard, a well-
mannered gentleman, was a sovereign oi the Merovin
gian type, ill-adapted to the existing emergency. His



4<D HISTORIC ERAS.

resignation was itself compulsory. The interregnum
that followed was marked by the disgraceful rivalry of
such military pretenders as Lambert and Desborough.
Even the Rump Parliament once more resumed its sit
tings, claiming to be the representative of the nation.
So great and so imminent was the national peril that
many of the Roundheads themselves were ready for
revolt.

At this juncture Gen. Monk, who with strict impar
tiality had fought for both king and Parliament, became
the man of destiny, Guy Warwick of the hour. Sup
ported by a well disciplined army, he at once entered
into negotiations with the cavaliers at home and abroad.
The restoration of the Stuarts was decreed, and the
national welfare demanded that it be done quickly.

Nothing can give us a clearer idea of the irremediable
failure of Puritanism than the stirring events of the next
few months. When William of Orange landed at Tor-
bay, he was disheartened by the want of enthusiasm, or
rather the stolid indifference that marked his reception.
Yet he came on the urgent invitation of the Convention
of Westminster, to occupy a throne made vacant by
abdication.

How strikingly different the ovation of Charles II. !
The booming of guns and the blazing of bonfires
announced the joy of the nation that they were at last free
from a curse and a pestilence that sansculottism in poli
tics and Jack Cadeism in literature were thrice dead
plucked up by the roots and buried. Nor does it
weaken our conclusion that this right royal welcome



CROMWELL 41

was extended not to a wise and virtuous prince, who
had been defrauded of his birthright, but to a debauchee,
who afterward converted the palace into a brothel, and
basely consented to become a stipendiary of the French
crown. For all this licentiousness in private life, for all
the cabal and corruption in official station, Puritanism
is justly responsible at the bar of history. Such a reac
tion, ethical and political, was inevitable, nor is it to be
wondered at that it transcended all sober limits. The
nation had sown the wind, and must needs reap the
whirlwind.

For long years there was on every side confusion and
bewilderment as when one is suddenly aroused from
some terrible dream. Nor did the reaction exhaust
itself with the enthronement of William and Mary.
There were still outcroppings of party spleen and some
what disastrous continental wars until the Peace of
Ryswick, in September, 1697. From that date for
ward the English royal succession has never been for a
moment interrupted, nor, indeed, at any time seriously
menaced, either by foreign levy or domestic treason.

It will be observed that in this statement we take no
account of the Scotch rebellions of 1715 and 1745, or
the fabulous adventures of Chevalier St. George in the
heart of London.

These abortive attempts and mysterious plottings
were of less significance than the No Popery riots and
Chartist demonstrations of more recent times. From
the era of the restored monarchy the British dominion
has widened with the processes of the sun until it has



42 HISTORIC ERAS.

reached the proportions of the grandest imperialism of
the world's history.

The England of to-day is the workshop of the nations,
the entrepot of a commerce whose sales whiten every
ocean, the seat of a military power whose "morning
drum beat" is more than a sentiment or a sensation ;
and, what is best of all, the head of a Christian civiliza
tion that is destined to overspread the whole earth.



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK. 43



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK,



THE average American statesman has been slow to
apprehend, or else strangely reluctant to acknowledge
the existence of two widely divergent civilizations on
this continent. Our national coat of arms is emblazoned
by the legend, E Pluribus Unum, but the stupid conceit
is flatly contradicted by almost every page of our
national history. Never, except in the presence of a
common peril, or under the pressure of a common
necessity, has there been more than the faintest sem
blance of national unity. And no sooner was the exter
nal pressure withdrawn than the old antagonisms were
revived. In the laboratory of the chemist there is a
recognized difference between a mechanical mixture as
of water and alcohol, and a chemical combination as of
an acid with a metallic base. The one is the result of
a well-defined law of affinity; the other is the product
of physical contact and commingling. This serves to
illustrate what we mean when we assert that strict
national unity has never been realized in all the years
of our past political history.

It was in somewise formulated in the Articles of
Confederation adopted to meet the exigencies of the
revolutionary period. It was afterwards rendered more
compact in the Federal Constitution of 1787, which, as



44 HISTORIC ERAS.

John Quincy Adams alleged, was "wrung from the
necessities of a reluctant people." It is symbolized in
the starry ensign of the Republic, but as for a veritable
hand and heart union it is utterly unhistorical. Apart
from this truth, the party contests of the last hundred
years have been a selfish scramble for official spoils, and
the late war between the States is stripped of its heroic
aspects, and was the naked outcome of savage blood-
thirstiness. In the earliest Colonial records, as well as
in the latest phases of representative journalism, these
conflicting types of Cavalier and Puritan civilization
may be readily recognized. They not only survived the
seven years' struggle with Great Britain, but they have
outlived the modern era of reconstruction. It is a
palpable blunder to suppose that the abolition of
slavery, still less the enfranchisement of the freedman,
has contributed in any degree to the unification of these
diverse civilizations. On the contrary, these events,
and others of like sort, have widened the gulf of separa
tion. The traditions of a common struggle for inde
pendence have been well-nigh obliterated by the later
asperities of sectional conflict. Henceforth, Independ
ence Day has as little political significance in democratic
America as the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot in
Protestant England. The 4th of July, alike with the
5th of November, has for all practical uses been ex
punged from the calendar. It is the part of wise states
manship to accept these facts and to mold the national
policy in accordance therewith. The great problem of
our government is not to destroy either of the constit-



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK. 45

uent elements of our American civilization, but to co
ordinate them in such a spirit of concession and compro
mise that the blessings of civil and religious liberty may
be transmitted to all generations.

SKETCH OF CROMWELL AND HIS TIMES.

In the foregoing chapter, we considered, with some
fullness of detail, and we trust with judicial fairness, the
chequered fortunes of Puritan and Cavalier through
more than a century of conflict on English soil. We
witnessed the rise and downfall of Puritanism as a polit
ical and religious faction. There is probably a measure
of truth in what Macaulay suggests, that the same con
test has been continued under other party names down
to our own times. So that the recent overthrow of the
Gladstone ministry has a vital relation to the political
controversies of the i/th century. But we are not care
ful to analyze or elaborate this statement. We prefer
to turn away from these old world struggles and to dis
cuss the more interesting conflict of these civilizations
in our Western Hemisphere. The planting of the
Jamestown colony was the earliest permanent English
settlement on the Continent. The spirit of commercial
adventure had mainly to do with this enterprise. There
is but the merest modicum of truth in the statement of
Northern historians that the colony was, in the begin
ning, composed of decayed gentlemen and bankrupt
traders. The leader of the enterprise and the first gov
ernor of the colony, Capt. John Smith, was of highly
respectable descent, and a scholar and writer of no little



46 HISTORIC ERAS.

distinction. Like many a knightly spirit of that age,
he was a soldier of fortune. He greatly distinguished
himself in the war against the infidel Turks, who were
menacing the Christian civilization of the West. His
nautical skill and his administrative ability were inval
uable to the infant colony of Virginia, and because of
his admirable qualifications for leadership, he was after
wards chosen by the Puritans as the Admiral of New
England.

A majority of those who accompanied Smith to Vir
ginia were, like himself, of gentle birth, so that there
was from the outset a predominant element of cavalier-
ism in the Jamestown colony. Some years subsequent,
the adventurous Mayflower set forth from Delft Haven,
in Holland, with its human cargo of one hundred and
odd souls, to find a resting place in the new world.
They had fled from England to escape the hardships
and disabilities imposed on them by the English estab
lishment. For a few years they had sojourned at Ley-
den, but a nomadic freak impelled them to a fresh
adventure. Their objective point was the mouth of the
Hudson river. Owing, however, to contrary winds,
and possibly to a nautical blunder, they were drifted or
driven to a higher latitude. In December, 1620, they
disembarked at Plymouth Rock in the face of hostile
savages and in the midst of a climate only less inhospi
table than the coasts of Labrador. In numbers and
equipment they were a feeble colony. The rigorous
winter, coupled with the want of physical comforts,
occasioned a very great mortality during the first few



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK. 47

months of their settlement. Matthew Arnold has, in a
recent publication, spoken jeeringly of the ignorance
and coarseness of these Pilgrim Fathers. We shall
hardly be accused of undue partiality towards them.
But we confess to a feeling of admiration for men who
were moved to brave the perils of the sea and to con
front the privations of the wilderness, not for gain, but
godliness. They were, indeed, illiterate and intensely
narrow, but they were sincere and courageous. Nor
can it be denied that in that meanly-clad and shivering
congregation there was lodged the germ of a culture and
a civilization which, with all its faults, has, in the person
of some of its representative men, shed imperishable
lustre on American literature and statesmanship. These
earliest immigrants would have inevitably succumbed to
climatic conditions and Indian depredations but for
occasional reinforcements of men and supplies, both
from England and Holland.

Meanwhile, the struggle for existence developed a
toughness of physical and intellectual fibre which has
been of material service to their descendants. The
timely arrival of Endicott at Salem, and the opportune
coming of Winthrop at Charlestown, greatly strength
ened the colony. In point of wealth and refinement,
these later immigrants were vastly superior to their co
religionists of Plymouth. They soon acquired a polit
ical ascendency which they have practically maintained
until the present hour. These two colonies, Virginia
and Massachusetts, were the geographical centers of the
two civilizations that have dominated the religion, liter-



48 HISTORIC ERAS.

ature and politics of the nation for the last hundred
years. These mother colonies were antipodal, however,
in the matter and style of their civilization.

We shall content ourself with barely suggesting these
points of difference, thereby avoiding needless detail and
amplification. They differed widely in their theology
and forms of worship. The Puritans in both hemis
pheres accepted the Genevan theology with but the
slightest admixture of what was styled at a later date
Arminianism. With them divine sovereignty, with its
corelated dogmas, as inculcated in the writings of St.
Augustine, was the corner stone truth of the Christian
system. The latter day modifications of Andover and
Yale would have found little favor with the Mathers and
Edwardses of a former generation. In church polity
they were Congregationalists, regarding each body of
faithful men and women as a distinct unit in the king
dom of God. As to forms of worship, they affected
great simplicity. Their church architecture was rude
and unsightly; their psalmody was the doggerel of
Sternhold and Hopkins' version of the Psalter, and they
were fiercely intolerant of anything that savored of a
liturgical service. They incorporated as far as practi
cable a theocratic element in their civil economy.
Warm advocates in theory of universal suffrage, they
made church membership a condition of the elective
franchise. While they sought in exile freedom to wor
ship God, they were sternly bent on a monopoly of this
priceless privilege. Heresy in doctrine or worldliness
of deportment was a species of treason against the godly



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK. 49

commonwealth that needed to be restrained and pun
ished by the civil magistrate. Not only the ignorant
masses, but their educated leaders were superstitious
and cruel to a degree scarcely credible. The death pen
alty even was inflicted in some instances with unsparing
severity on witches, Quakers, Catholics and Baptists.
It was as though the shadow had gone back on the dial
of Ahaz and professedly Christian men had relapsed
into the barbarism of the twelfth century. Like their
fellow-fanatics, the Roundheads of England, they were
ascetics of the worst type. With them life was not only
real, but it was sternly serious and even morose. The
Sabbath was a fast to be observed with Jewish strict
ness a day to be devoted to sermons, and catechisms,
and devout meditation. The blue laws of Connecticut
reflect the pious sentiment of the times, and while they
are in part apocryphal, they certainly embody the tra
ditional convictions of the Puritan fathers.

It need hardly be said that they were in full sympa
thy with the popular movement in England. They
were jubilant at the victories of Cromwell, and shouted
Te Deum when Charles I. was executed. They were
in good favor with the Lord Protector, and greatly
bewailed his death. When the day of reckoning and
retribution came to the popular leaders of England, they
gladly afforded sanctuary to five of the regicides.

In all of these respects the Cavalier colony was the
exact opposite. As regards religion, they were devoted
adherents of the Church of England. While Massachu
setts divided its territory into school townships, Vir-



5<D HISTORIC ERAS.

ginia distributed her territory into parishes, and the
book of common prayer was ordered to be used in all
religious assemblies. Their churches were fashioned
after English models, and many of the private residences
of the wealthier planters closely resembled the manor
houses of the English gentry. Their homes were the
centers of a hospitality that became proverbial for its
elegance and bountifulness. Nor were they forgetful
of literature and the fine arts. Their homes were fur
nished with libraries and decorated with statuary and
paintings imported from Europe. During the Colonial
period, and afterwards, many of the elder sons of these
rich planters were educated at the best universities of
Europe. In politics they were admirers of the British
Constitution with its three estates of king, lords and
commons. The common law, with its law of primo
geniture, and the feudal system of entails, so favorable
to the accumulation of large landed estates, was part of
its jurisprudence for nearly two centuries. Instead of
manhood suffrage they established freehold suffrage.

They were in hearty accord with the Cavaliers during
the commonwealth era, and after the overthrow of the
monarchy Virginia was the asylum of hundreds of the
persecuted Royalists. Two years before the restoration
Richard Lee visited Charles II. at Breda, and tendered
him the fealty of his Virginia subjects. Indeed, Sir
William Berkley, the Governor of the colony, caused
Charles II. to be proclaimed king of England, Scotland,
Ireland, France and Virginia, when as yet he was a
homeless fugitive. These treasonable doings of the



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK. 51

Virginia Cavaliers did not escape the vigilant eye of
Cromwell. He deemed it a matter sufficiently gra\v to
warrant him in dispatching a war ship to reduce the
rebellious colony. That veteran Cavalier, Sir William
Berkley, organized a body of troops to resist the Lord
Protector. Fortunate 1 ,;/ for the interests of all con
cerned, an honorable settlement was obtained, Virginia
securing for herself the right of self-taxation, and also
exemption from commercial burdens imposed on some
of the other colonies. It is noteworthy that Virginia
was the last to succumb to Puritan ascendency, and the
first to challenge the military authority of the English
government. For the next hundred years the prosper
ity of Virginia was phenomenal. Her resources were
enlarged in all directions. Especially was she benefited
by the influx of an educated and enterprising Scotch-
Irish population, who settled west of the Blue Ridge.
These Valley Virginians were descendants of the men
whose obstinate valor at the siege of Londonderry has
made their memory immortal. At first there was a bit
ter rivalry between these Cohees, as they were called,
and the Tuckahoes, who inhabited the tide-water dis
trict. Commercial intercourse and frequent intermar
riage gradually removed their mutual prejudice. During
the French and Indian wars and the Revolutionary
struggle, they were more thoroughly united, but their
political affiliation was never complete. Stonewall Jack
son was a fair representative of the Valley Virginians,
while Robert E. Lee was*' a Cavalier of the Cavaliers."
Massachusetts and Virginia, although differing on



52 HISTORIC ERAS.

many questions during the Colonial period, v. ere both
jealous of either royal or parliamentary encroachments
on their chartered rights.

When, therefore, the Tory ministry of George III.
inaugurated their scheme of taxation without represen
tation, they were united in opposition to the project.
As early as 1765, the Virginia House Burgesses de
nounced the Stamp Act as unconstitutional and oppres
sive. At a later period they made common cause with
Puritan Massachusetts against the Boston Port bill, and
shipped supplies to their famishing compatriots. To
Patrick Henry besides, beyond all men, belongs the
credit of starting the ball of the revolution. No man,
indeed, did more to arouse the colonists to a just sense
of the impending danger.

When the military contest began with a chance col
lision at Lexington, the Colonies soon became solid.
As yet. however, there were few that contemplated a
permanent separation from the mother country, in the
Colonial Congress, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia,
whose Norman blood was indisputable, moved for the
appointment of a committee to draft a Declaration of
Independence. The motion prevailed, the declaration
was prepared by Thomas Jefferson, submitted to Con
gress and unanimously adopted. It was at the sugges
tion of Virginia that the Articles of Confederation were
adopted. This was a league between sovereign States,
and while it was hardly adequate for the purposes of
the war, it proved utterly insufficient after the treaty of
Versailles. Many of the States failed to pay their quota



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK. 53

towards the support of the Confederation. At times it
was so nearly bankrupt that its treasury was barely able
to purchase stationery and defray the clerk hire. As
stated in the outset, external pressure withdrawn, there
was shown an utter lack of political affinity. Anarchy,
or a group of feeble and independent republics, it
seemed, were the dreadful alternatives. Moreover, the
commercial regulations of the different States were so
variant that they were a source of perpetual discord.
At this juncture Virginia proposed a convention of all
the States, to be held at Annapolis, Maryland, which
should take all these matters relating to commerce
under advisement. So little interest was felt in the
question that only four States were represented. This
convention of delegates asked for an enlargement of
their powers, and adjourned to meet at Philadelphia in
May, 1787. Over this memorable body George Wash
ington presided. The session was prolonged through
wearisome months of debate, and there were times
when the most hopeful despaired of any satisfactory
result. Luther Martin tells us that there were no less
than three parties in the convention whose differences
were radical and apparently irreconcilable. The Con
stitution, as reported to and finally accepted by the
thirteen original States, was the result of a series of
compromises. When submitted to the several State
conventions, it met with fierce opposition. For some-
while North Carolina and Rhode Island withheld their
ratification, and so little desire was felt for wh it the pre
amble styled "a more perfect union," that the leading



54 HISTORIC ERAS.

States of Virginia, New York and Massachusetts adopted
it by beggarly majorities. Not a few of our most illus
trious patriots and statesmen were dissatisfied in a
greater or less degree with the work of the convention.
Hamilton himself was not without painful misgivings.
Patrick Henry did not scruple to stigmatize the Consti
tution as dangerous to public liberty. Mr. Jefferson,
who was absent in Europe during these heated discus
sions, was known to be ill-affected towards the proposed
change. Viewed in the clear light ot subsequent his
tory, some of these men seemed to be endowed with
the spirit of political prophecy, not less so, indeed, than
Edmund Burke when he wrote his " Reflections on the
French Revolution."

They seemed to have an open vision of the rivalry
between the hostile sections foreboding anarchy. On
the other hand no small number feared the gradual
usurpation of the reserved rights of the States by the
Central government with an alarming tendency towards
imperialism. They predicted the rise of a national party
that would seek to obtain by artful construction what
was wanting in specific grant. Nor did these far sighted
statesmen fail to see the probability, if not moral cer
tainty, of a struggle between individual States and the
Federal government, resulting in such deadly strife as
for four years drenched the continent with fraternal
blood. As more than once already intimated, the Con
stitution was at last ratified under a sort of constraint,
and not without a significant if silent protest. This
language will not be adjudged too strong by those who



JAMESTOWN AND PLYMOUTH ROCK. 55

are familiar with the situation of that transition period.


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Online LibraryW. J. (William J.) ScottHistoric eras and Paragraphic pencilings → online text (page 3 of 14)