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Oxford and Cambridge were constantly re-echoing the fame of the antique republican worthies; but when an Englishman quitted his college and the world that was, for the world that is, he saw the actual operation of a mixed and comparatively free government, he came in contact with practical men familiar with parliaments or municipal councils, and he saw that he himself might one day have a share, more or less prominent, in the government of his country or in some of its municipal administrations. He could then compare the ancient Republics with a modern limited monarchy; the French could only contrast them with their own despotism. What we now call the British Constitution was not really born until five years after Algernon Sidney's death; and, at the time of his birth, the despotic temper of the Tudors, the speculative absolutism of James I. and his scandalous disuse of Parliaments, had certainly made great inroads on the old liberties of the country; but still the municipal freedom -the source of, and the best security for, all constitutional liberty-had scarcely been touched, and Englishmen had the habits of a free people, and much practice in governing themselves.

From whatever cause it may have proceeded, Sidney's republicanism does not appear of English growth; it bears no resemblance to the devout and mystical republicanism of Sir Harry Vane, the vulgar conventicle republicanism of General Harrison, or the camp republicanism of Ludlow-still less does it resemble the adaptive republicanism of Milton-it has an exotic, antique character, hard, unimaginative, and impracticable, having hardly anything in common either with the theory or the practice of any of the remarkable men that made the short-lived English Commonwealth. These men looked at the existing Republics of Holland, Switzerland, Genoa, Venice: Sidney hardly condescended to look lower than Greece and Rome.

His first entrance upon public life was in 1641, when he was about nineteen or twenty years old. The Irish Papists had risen in rebellion and had perpetrated a horrible massacre of the Protestants. The Earl of Lei

cester, Algernon's father, was then Lord-Lieutenant, and Algernon commanded a troop of horse in the Earl's own regiment. Both he and his elder brother, Lord Viscount Lisle, distinguished themselves by their gallantry in the campaigns of 1641 and 1642, during which a fearful retaliation was inflicted upon the Irish. It became a fixed unalterable belief with the adversaries of that unhappy prince, that Charles I. had secretly promoted the insurrection as a means of thwarting the designs of that Parliament, with which he was on the very verge of a civil war.

Returning to England in August, 1643, when the civil war was raging, and when English blood had been shed in torrents at Edgehill, at Chalgrove, at Newbury, and in many other sternly-contested fields, Algernon and his elder brother, who professed to be on their way to join the king, then at Oxford, were seized as they landed in Lancashire, by order of the Parliament. By this incident they lost the favour of Charles, who believed that before quitting Ireland they had made up their minds to join his enemies, and that their capture was of their own contrivance. Similar ruses, common in most civil wars, were not unknown in this.

Both Algernon and his elder brother, Lord Lisle, forthwith joined the Parliamentarians. Algernon became captain of a troop of horse in the regiment of the Presbyterian Earl of Manchester, who, in brief space of time, was driven from his high command by Cromwell and Fairfax, and the self-denying ordinances. In April, 1645, Fairfax, as lord-general, or commander-in-chief for Parliament, raised Algernon to the rank of Colonel, and gave him a regiment; and in 1646, his brother, Lord Lisle, having become lieutenant-general of Ireland, he was made lieutenant-general of the horse in that kingdom, and governor of Dublin. His name, at this period, frequently occurs in the pages of Rushworth and Whitelock, the two great annalists or registrars of the Parliamentarians; and he is generally mentioned as a brave and active officer whose faith and steadiness to Parliament were undoubted. In fact, he was now himself

a member of the Long Parliament, having been returned member for Cardiff at the beginning of the year 1646, before he went to Dublin. In May, 1647, having returned to London, Algernon received the thanks of the House of Commons for his services in Ireland, and was appointed governor of Dover Castle. In 1648, though then only twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, he, as well as his brother, Lord Lisle, acted as one of the judges on the irregular trial of Charles I. It is said that he was not present when the sentence was passed, and he certainly did not sign the warrant for the execution. But he afterwards justified that execution, and thereby, and by other words and acts, he drew down upon himself the implacable resentment of the Royalist party, whose hour of vengeance was coming.

When Cromwell resolved to break up the remnant of the Long Parliament, called the Rump, which was certainly throwing, or threatening to throw, the whole nation into a state of anarchy, he looked upon Algernon Sidney as a very dangerous and obstinate member of it, -as a pragmatical and resolute republican, who would be sure to oppose the trying of his grand political problem or experiment," What if a man should take upon him to be king?”

Algernon was in his place when Oliver arrived in the House to "take away that bauble" (the speaker's mace), to turn out the members, lock up the doors, and carry off the keys in his pocket. And Algernon continued firm in his seat, thinking, mayhap, of the Roman senators in their curule chairs and of the impious Gauls who took them by the beard, when the musqueteers had been called in, and had forcibly thrust out Sir Harry Vane, Wentworth, and Harry Marten. In this attitude of contemplative defiance Algernon attracted the eye of Cromwell, who shouted to Harrison (who was as active in ending this parliament as Colonel Pride had been in purging it), "Put him out! Put that man out!" Harrison told Sidney that he must rise and be gone. Sidney replied that he would not go; and he sate until the lordgeneral shouted again "Put him out!" and until Harri

son and Worsley laid their hands upon his shoulders, as if they would force him. Then the indignant republican rose, and walked towards the door. In a few more seconds the house was entirely cleared-" For," says Whitelock, who was present, 66 among all the parliament, of whom many wore swords, and would sometimes brag high, not one man offered to draw his sword against Cromwell, or to make the least resistance against him, but all of them tamely departed the house."*

Among the one hundred and thirty-nine persons, "Known persons, fearing God and of approved integrity"-whom Cromwell, after his unceremonious dissolution of the Rump, chose to be a parliament or convention, and summoned to Westminster by his own writ, was Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury, and a close political associate of Algernon Sidney.

Upon his expulsion Algernon withdrew into the country. It is said that he would never enter into any compromise with the Cromwellians, or accept of any post, service, or kindness from the Protector; but it does not very clearly appear that the Protector ever tempted him with the offer of such things. In 1658, when Oliver made his new upper house, or House of Lords, or "other house," as it was more commonly called, Algernon's elder brother, Lord Lisle, who appears to have been of an accommodating spirit, was chosen by the Protector to be a member of it. But Algernon remained in retirement during the whole of the protectorate of Cromwell and his son Richard. There is reason to believe that he resided chiefly at the family seat of Penshurst, where, in the midst of quiet, pleasant, pastoral scenery, the gifted Sir Philip Sidney had been born, and where he was thought by some to have written his Arcadia.' The mind of Algernon was much less likely to derive inspiration from those Kentish scenes.

In May, 1659, only nine months after the death of the great Oliver, the members of the Rump restored themselves as a legitimate parliament; or, rather, they were

* Memorials.

restored by the army and Lambert and Fleetwood, as they had been dismissed by the army and Cromwell and Harrison. About one hundred members took their seats “to improve,” as they loudly proclaimed, "the present opportunity, and settle and secure the peace and freedom of the Commonwealth." Their first proceeding was to pass a declaration that there should no longer be any single person, protectorate, kingship, or House of Peers. Algernon Sidney now reappeared in public; and Richard Cromwell, happy to retire into private life, signed his demission, from the protectorate, in form. On the 13th of May, Sidney was nominated, by the Republicans, one of their new Council of State. This council seized all the powers which had been so triumphantly wielded by Oliver Cromwell: it consisted of thirty-one persons, who, though all professing republicanism, differed very widely in their views, aspirations, and interests: Sir Harry Vane, and Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper (Shaftesbury), were members of it, and so also were Fairfax, Lambert, Fleetwood, Desborough, Bradshaw, Haselrig, Ludlow, St. John, and Whitelock. Two of them-Whitelock and Anthony Ashley Cooper—were almost immediately accused of carrying on a secret correspondence" with Charles Stuart and Sir Edward Hyde, beyond seas;" others were set down as visionaries or madmen who would ruin the good old cause, without meaning it; and, while they disagreed among themselves and disgusted all the Cromwellians, they lost the confidence of the downright republicans, whose energy had been great, but whose number had always been very limited.

At this crisis, when his darling republic was falling to pieces, and when General Monk, with a full assurance of success, was preparing to bring in Charles II. without limitations or conditions, Algernon Sidney accepted a diplomatic mission, and went to Denmark, along with Sir Robert Honeywood and Mr. Borne, to help in negotiating a peace between that country and Sweden. And now the catastrophe was precipitated by a quarrel between the Rump and the army, who had restored them.

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