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Cromwell, under the title of protector, having seized the sovereignty, Sydney, an enemy to tyrants of every name, retired to the Hague, where he became acquainted with De Witt, the celebrated Dutch statesman, in whom he found a kindred spirit. At the restoration of the Long Parliament he returned to England, and accepted an appointment, with two distinguished persons, to mediate a peace between Denmark and Sweden. This gave him an opportunity of displaying his peculiar talents greatly to the honour of his country as well as of · himself. Would that there were now so spirited, upright, and unyielding a champion of justice to mediate peace between Sweden and Denmark's “ better half” (Norway,) recently divorced by the one, and violently wooed by the other ! By the time this negotiation was concluded, Charles II, had been restored to the throne of his father, and Sydney, though strongly urged by General Monk to return, not deeming himself safe, retired to Italy. In a letter to a friend, written at the very commencement of Charles's reign, he sagaciously anticipates its evils and its errors.
• But when that country of mine, which used to be esteemed a paradise, is now like to be made a stage of injury; the liberty which we hoped to establish oppressed ; luxury and lewdness set up in its height, instead of the piety, virtue, sobriety, and modesty, which we hoped, God, by our hands, would have introduced; the best of our nation made a prey to the worst; the parliament, court, and army, corrupted; the people enslaved; all things vendible; no man safe, but by such evil and infamous means, as flattery and bribery; what joy can I have in my own country in this condition? Is it a pleasure to see, that all I love in the world is sold and destroyed? Shall I renounce all my old principles, learn the vile court-arts, and inake my peace by bribing some of them ? Shall their corruption and vice be my safety ? th! no; better is a life among, strangers, than in my own country upon such conditions. Whilst I live, I wiń endeavour to preserve my liberty; or at least not consent to the destroying of it. I hope I shall die in the same principles in which I have lived, and will live no longer than they can preserve me.' pp. 77, 78.
We shall not follow the fugitive patriot in his long wanderings, during which he was a curious and interested spectator of the intrigues and contentions of foreign cabinets. The death of Cardinal Mazarine, prime minister of France, in 1661, caused gteat speculation concerning the person and politics of his successor. Sydney, after mentioning in a letter several who had been talked of as candidates, thus shrewdly develops the character of the French court.
• If the king would take one of the squadrone volante, it wete easy to find a man that would be without exceptions in his person, and perfectly free from any interest prejudicial to that of France.
But nothing is more improbable, than that a man known only by re*putation, should be chosen for so great a work. I speak in this the
fancies of others. I have no other opinion of my own, than that he will be chosen that can find most favour with the ladies, and that can with most dexterity reconcile their interests, and satisfy their passions. : I look upon their thoughts as more important, than those of the king and all his council; and their humour as of more weight than the most considerable interest of France; and those reasons which here appear to be of most force will not be at all regarded.?
In France there has been for ages, a law called tlie Salic Law, by which females are cut off from the inheritance of the throne, yet not only the above quotation, but the whole history of that country proves, that no nation has been more frequently or more flagrantly under female government,--and consequently under the caprice of the most worthless and shameless part of the sex.
But while the governments and manners of foreign lands were subjects of amusement or speculation to Sydney in his exile, his heart was secretly bleeding for the degradation of his own country. During this long period, his circumstances were narrow, the supplies of money which he received from his offended father being few and uncertain. Resigning himself patiently to his hard fortune, he sometimes enjoyed a degree of . happiness, which his persecutors might have envied. He thus beautifully describes his leisure at Belvedere, where Pope Innocent, for a time, allowed him apartments.
• Nature, art, and treasure can hardly make a place more pleasant than this. The description of it would look more like poetry than truth. A Spanish lady, coming not long since to see this house, seated on a large plain, out of the middle of a rock, and a river brought to the top of the mountain, with the walks and fountains, ingeniously desired those that were present, not to pronounce the name of our Saviour, lest it should dissolve this beautiful enchantment. We have passed the solstice, and I have not yet had occasion to complain of heat, which in Rome is very excessive, and hath filled the town with sickness, especially that part of it where I lived. Here is what I look for, health, quiet, and solitude. I am with some eagerness fallen to reading, and find so much satisfaction in it, that though every morning see the sun rise, I never go abroad until six or seven of the clock at night; yet cannot I be so sure of my tem, per, as to know certainly how long this manner of life will please me.
I cannot but rejoice a little to find, that when I wander as a vagabond through the world, forsaken of my friends, and known only to be a broken limb of a shipwrecked faction; I yet find humanity and civility from those who are in the height of fortune and re putation. But I do also well know, I am in a strange land, how far those c vilities do extend, and that they are too airy to feed or clothe man.'p. 129. VOL. II. N. S.
The following passage shews a mind tich in its owo resources, which finds time most precious when it has the greatest portion of it at his own disposal, and of least value when it is shared with company and tumult. Vulgar minds are the most occupied in a crowd,
-great minds when they are alone. • He that is naked, alone, and without help in the open sea, is less unhappy in the night, when he may hope the land is near, than in the day, when he sees it is not, and that there is no possibility of safety. Whilst I was at Rome, I wrote letters without much pain, since I had not so divided my time as to be very sensible of losing an hour or two: now I am alone, time grows much more precious unto me, and I am very unwilling to lose any part of it.'p. 130.
Retiring into the north of Europe, Ite meditated a plan to enter the service of the Emperor of Germany, with a body of troops, which he proposed to raise among his old republican companions at home. For this strange purpose he solicited his father's intercession, to obtain for him an assurance of his being permitted to reside a few months with his family, til he could convey himself, and others who were in the same condition, so far from England, that, to use his own expression, ' those who hate us may give over suspecting us.' The plan was rejected; and being driven to extremity, Sydney, with some of his banished comrades, urged, first the Dutch, and afterwards the French Government, to invade England for the purpose of restoring the Commonwealth. This project also came to nothing, and Sydney was allowed afterwards to live quietly ten years, under the avowed protection of Louis XIV. An anecdote is related of him, strikingly characteristic of his haughty and stubborn independence, at the time when he was enjoying an asylum, and perhaps experiencing the bounty of this self-willed monarch.
• The King of France having taken a fancy to a fine English horse, on which he had seen him mounted at a chace, requested that he would part with it at his own price. On his declining the proposal, the king, determined to take no denial, gave orders to tender him money or to seize the horse. Sydney, on hearing this, instantly took a pistol and shot it, saying, “ that his horse was born a free creature, had served a free man, and should not be mastered by a king of slaves."' p.15l.
During this period of rest from persecution, it is said he composed his Discourses concerning Government, which were not published till after his death, and yet it is understood that they cost him his life; garbled passages from these abstract speculations having been perverted at his trial into substantial treason. From this work, which has been more renowned than read, we shall copy a description of France, under the reign el
its 'most splendid monarch. The picture, drawn by this keen eye-witness is indeed loathsome and horrible, but, on the whole, it is without doubt a faithful delineation.
• Notwithstanding the present pride of France, the numbers and warlike inclinations of that people, the bravery of the nobility, extent of dominion, convenience of situation, and the vast revenues of their king, his greatest advantages have been gained by the mistaken counsels of England, the valour of our soldiers unhappily sent to serve him, and the strangers of whom the strength of his armies con. sists : which is so unsteady a support, that many, who are well versed in affairs of this nature, incline to think, he subsists rather by little arts, and corrupting ministers in foreign courts, than by the power of his own armies; and that some reformation in the counsels of his neighbours, might prove sufficient to overthrow that greatness, which i grown formidable to Europe the same misery to which he has reduced his people, rendering them as unable to defend him, upon any change of fortune, as to defend their own rights against him.'
• We have already said enough to obviate the objections that may be drawn from the prosperity of the French monarchy. The beauty of it is false and painted. There is a rich and hauglity king, who is blessed with such neighbours as are not likely to disturb him, and has nothing to fear from his miserable subjects. But the whole body of that state is full of boils, and wounds, and putrid sores: there is no real strength in it. The people are so unwilling to serve him, that he is said to have put to death, above fourscore thousand of his own sol. diers, within the space of fifteen years, for flying from their colours: and, if he were vigorously attacked, little help could be expected from a discontented nobility, or a starving and despairing people.'
. Notwithstanding the seeming prosperity of France, the warlike temper of that people is so worn out by the frauds and cruelties of corrupt officers, that few men enlist themselves willingly to be sol. diers; and, when they are engaged or forced, they are so little able to endure the miseries to which they are exposed, that they daily run away from their colours, though they know not whither to go, and expect no mercy if they are taken. The king has in vain attempted to correct this humour, by the severity of martial law. But men's minds will not be forced; and though his troops are perfectly well armed, clothed, and exercised, they have given many testimonies of little worth.'
• Though I do not delight to speak of the affairs of our own time, I desire those who know the present state of France to tell me, whether it were possible for the king to keep that nation under servitude, if a vast revenue did not enable him to gain so many to his particular service, as are sufficient to keep the rest in subjection. And,
if this be not enough, let them consider, whether all the dangers, " that now threaten us at home, do not proceed from the madness of
those, who gave such a revenue, as is utterly disproportionable to the riches of the nation, unsuitable to the modest behaviour expected from our kings, and which in time will render parliaments upnecessary to them.'
• France, in outward appearance makes a better shew: but nothing in this world is more miserable than that people, under the fatherly care of their triumphant monarch. The best of their condition is like asses, and mastiff dogs; to work and fight; to be oppressed and killed for him; and those among them, who have any understanding, well know that their industry, courage, and good success, is not only unprofitable, but destructive to them; and that, by increasing the power of their master, they add weight to their own chains' pp 216–221.
In 1677, by the court-interest of the Earl, his father, he obtained permission to visit England for the purpose of arranging his private affairs; but though he avowed his determination to return to France as soon as he had settled a Chancery Suit, this very condition insured him a permanent residence. His father dying soon after his arrival, and having never been cordially reconciled to Algernon's public conduct, bequeathed him legacies to the amount of little more than five thousand pounds, part of which his brother litigated with bim, but it was finally decided in his favour. On this slender provision, with some property of no great value, which he had previously enjoyed, independent on his father, Sydney spent the remainder of his days, as an exile in his native land, his affections being manifestly alienated from it, and fixed on a Utopia, that existed in the creation of his own mind. He repeatedly attempted however to get into Parliament, and though his attempts were as repeatedly frustrated by court-influence and intrigue, he fearlessly raised his voice in public against those measures of the government, which appeared to him most pernicious. Sus. pected, hated, and feared, as he knew himself to be, there was certainly more intrepidity than prudence in this patriotic forwardness; it was like living on a scaffold, and laying his head on the block, in desperate scorn of the executioner's axe, to try how often he could escape the blow, by lifting it up again. Nor did he shrink from meeting his direst enemy, the king, face to face. Ou one occasion,
• Understanding that he had been accused to the king, as engaged in a plot of the non conformi ts, he obtained an audience, and clearly exposed the absurdity o the charge : since nothing, he maintained, could be more repugnant to his feelings, than a measure which must eventually unite the papists and the crown. Yet his enemies persevered in their attacks, and, if the wretched scheme had not miscarrieel
, designed to invol e him in the meal tub plot. And, when he was merely looking ver a balcony, to see what passed at an election of sheriffs, he was indicted for a riot in the city,' p. 171,
Between the time of the Meal Tub Plot,' the lure whick he escaped, and that of the Rye House Plot,' that by which he was betrayed, he made himself conspicuous by opposing, with