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I shall need to say no more but this : that the world will admire your excellency's worth ; posterity will ho. nour your name ; and that the whole house of commons, in the name of the commons of England, do return you thanks for your faithful and memorable services. The beginning, continuance, and effect whereof, I must solely attribute to the Almighty, the Lord of Hosts and Victories.
OLIVER CROMWELL. Member for Cambridge, born 1599, died 1658.) I have given the following speeches of his, to shew that he was not se
bad a speaker as is generally imagined. The world will never (if they can help it) allow one man more than one excellence ; and if he possesses any one quality in the highest degree, they then, either to excite a foolish wonder, or to gratify a lurking vanity, endeavour to find out that he is as much below the rest of mankind in every thing else. Thus it has been the fashion to suppose, because Cromwell was a great general and statesman, that therefore he could not utter a sentence that was intelligible, or that had the least connection or even common sense in it. But this is not the fact. His speeches, though not remarkable either for their elegance or clearness, are not remarkable for their contrary qualities. They are pithy and sententious; containing many examples of strong practical reason, (not indeed of that kind which is satisfie ed with itself, and supplies the place of action) but always closely linked, and serving as a prelude to action. His observations are those of a man who does not rely entirely on words, and has some other resource left him besides; but who is neither unwilling nor unable to employ them, when they are necessary to his purpose. If they do not convey any adequate idea of his great abilities, they contain nothing from which one might infer the contrary. They are just such speeches as a man must make with his hand upon
his sword, and who appeals to that as the best decider of controversies. They are full of bustle and impatience, and always go directly to the point in debate, without preparation or circumlo. cution.
General Cromwell's Speech on the Army. That it was now a time to speak, or for ever to hold the tongue, the important occasion being no less than to save a nation out of a bleeding, nay, almost dying condition, which the long continuance of the war had al. ready brought it into; so that without a more speedy, vigorous, and effectual prosecution of the war, casting off all lingering proceedings, like soldiers of fortụne, be. yond sea, to spin out a war, we shall make the kingdom weary of us, and hate the name of a parliament. For what do the enemy say ? nay, what do many say that were friends at the beginning of the parliament? Even this : that the members of both houses have got great places and commands, and the sword into their hands; and what by interest in parliament, and what by power in the army, will perpetually continue themselves in grandeur, and not permit the war speedily to end, lest their own power should determine with it
This I speak here to our own faces; it is but what others do utter abroad behind our backs.
I am far from reflecting on any ; I know the worth of those commanders, members of both houses, who are yet
in power; but if I may speak my conscience, with out reflection upon any, I do conceive, if the army
be not put into another method, and the war more vigor. ously prosecuted, the people can bear the war no lon. ger, and will enforce you to a dishonourable peace. But this I would recommend to your prudence: not to insist upon any complaint or oversight of any commander in chief, upon any occasion whatsoever; for as I must acknowledge myself guilty of oversights, so I know they can rarely be avoided in military affairs ; therefore, waving a strict enquiry into the causes of these things, let us apply ourselves to the remedy which is most necessary. And I hope we have such true English hearts, and zealous affections towards the general weal of our mother-country, as no members of either house will scruple to deny themselves, and their own private interests, for the public good ; nor account it to be a dishonour done to them, whatever the parliament shall resolve upon in this weighty matter,
Another, by the same.
Whatever is the matter, which I list not so much to enquire after, two summers are passed over, and we are not saved. Our victories, (the price of blood invaluable) so gallantly gotten, and which is more pity, so graciously bestowed, seem to have been put into a bag with holes; for what we won one time, we lost at another. The treasure is exhausted; the country is wasted. A summer's victory has proved but a winter's story. The game, however, shut up with autumn, was to be new played again the next spring; as if the blood that has been shed, were only to manure the field of war for a more plentiful crop of contention. Men's hearts have failed them with the observation of these things, the cause whereof the parliament has been tender of ravelling into. But men cannot be hindered from venting their opinions privately, and their fears, which are various, and no less variously expressed; concerning which, I determine nothing, but this I would say: 'tis apparent that the forces being under several great commanders, want of good correspondency amongst the chieftains has often-times hindered the public service.
The following speech displays so much knowledge, and such deep re
search into the imperfect and obscure parts of English history, that though it is long, and from the nature of the subject some. what uninteresting, I thought it right to let it stand as a monument of legal learning in the seventeenth century. A country may be as different from itself at different times, as one country is from another; and one object that I have chiefly had in view in this work, has been to select such examples as might serve to mark the successive changes that have taken place in the minds. and characters of Englishmen within the last 200 years,
The distinctive character of the period of which we are now speak
ing was, I think, that men's minds were stored with facts and images, almost to excess; there was a tenacity and firmness in them that kept fast hold of the impressions of things as they were first stamped on the mind; and “ their ideas seemed to lie like substances in the brain.” Facts and feelings went hand in hand; the one naturally implied the other; and our ideas, not yet exor. cised and squeezed and tortured out of their natural objects, into a subtile essence of pure intellect, did not fly about like ghosts without a body, tossed up and down, or upborne only by the els. GANT FORMS of words, through the vacuum of abstract reasoning, and sentimental refinement. The understanding was invigorated and nourished with its natural and proper food, the knowledge of things without it; and was not left, like an empty stomach, to prey upon itself, or starve on the meagre scraps of an artificial logic, or windy impertinence of inginuity self-begotten. What a difference between the grave, clear, solid, laborious stile of the speech here given, and the crude metaphysics, false glitter, and trifling witticism of a modern legal oration! The truth is, that the affectation of philosophy and fine taste has spoiled every thing; and instead of the honest seriousness and simplicity of old English reasoning in law, in politics, in morality, in all the grave concerns of life, we have nothing left but a mixed spec'es of bastard sophistry, got between ignorance and vanity, and generating nothing.
Mr. Whitlocke's Speech
Speech on a Proposal to have the Old Laws translated from French into English.
Mr. Speaker, The question upon which your present debate ariseth, is of no small moment; nor is it easily or speedily to be determined ; for it comprehends no less than a total alte
! ration of the frame and course of proceedings of our laws, which have been established and continued for so many years.
I should not have troubled you with any of my weak dis- . course,but that I apprehend some mistakes and dishonour to the law of England, if passed by without an answer, that may be of ill consequence ; and having attended
to hear them answered by others, who are not pleased to do it, I held myself the more engaged, in the duty of my profession, to offer to your judgment, to which I shall always submit, what I have met with, and do suppose not to be impertinent, for the rectifying of some mistakes which are amongst us.
A worthy getleman was pleased to affirm, with much confidence, as he brought it in upon this debate, that the laws of England were introduced by William the Conqueror, as (among other arguments he asserted) might appear by their being written in the French tongue.
In his first assertion, that our laws were introduced by William the Conqueror, out of France, I shall acknowledge that he hath several, both foreign and domestic authors, whom he may follow therein : The foreign authors are, Jovius, Æmilius, Bodine, Hottoman, Dy. nothus, Volateran, Berault, Berkley, Choppinus Uspargensis, Malines, and Polydore, who affirm this erroneous piece of doctrine; but the less to be regarded from them, because they were strangers to our laws, and took upon trust what they published in this point.
Of our own countrymen, they have Paris, Malmesbury, Matthew Westminster, Fox, Cosins, Twyne, Hey. ward, Mills, Fulbeck, Cowell, Ridley, Brown, Speed, Martin, and some others.
All of them affirm that the laws of England were introduced by William the Conqueror. But their errors are refuted by Sir Roger Owen, in his manuscript, who saith that Roger Wendover and Matthew Paris, were the first monks that hatched these addled eggs.
I shall endeavour to shew you, that the original of our laws is not from the French ; that they were not introduced by William the Conqueror, out of Normandy; and I shall humbly offer to you my answer to some of their arguments who are of a contrary opinion.
Polydore, Hist. Ang. lib. 9. affirmeth, that William the Conqueror first appointed sheriffs and justices of the