Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Causes of the Corruption Which Followed the Restoration
By Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon (16091674)
From the Life
THIS unhappy temper and constitution of the royal party with whom he had always intended to have made a firm conjunction against all accidents and occurrences which might happen at home or from abroad, did wonderfully displease and trouble the king; and, with the other perplexities, which are mentioned before, did so break his mind, and had that operation upon his spirits, that finding he could not propose any such method to himself, by which he might extricate himself out of those many difficulties and labyrinths in which he was involved, nor expedite those important matters which depended upon the good-will and despatch of the parliament, which would proceed by its own rules, and with its accustomed formalities, he grew more disposed to leave all things to their natural course, and Gods providence; and by degrees unbent his mind from the knotty and ungrateful part of his business, grew more remiss in his application to it, and indulged to his youth and appetite that license and satisfaction that it desired, and for which he had opportunity enough, and could not be without ministers abundant for any such negotiations; the time itself, and the young people thereof of either sex having been educated in all the liberty of vice, without reprehension or restraint. All relations were confounded by the several sects in religion which discountenanced all forms of reverence and respect, as relics and marks of superstition. Children asked not blessing of their parents; nor did they concern themselves in the education of their children; but were well content that they should take any course to maintain themselves, that they might be free from that expense. The young women conversed without any circumspection or modesty, and frequently met at taverns and common eatinghouses; and they who were stricter and more severe in their comportment, became the wives of the seditious preachers, or of officers of the army. The daughters of noble and illustrious families bestowed themselves upon the divines of the time, or other low and unequal matches. Parents had no manner of authority over their children, nor children any obedience or submission to their parents; but every one did that which was good in his own eyes. This unnatural antipathy had its first rise from the beginning of the rebellion, when the fathers and sons engaged themselves in the contrary parties, the one choosing to serve the king, and the other the parliament; which division and contradiction of affections was afterwards improved to mutual animosities and direct malice, by the help of the preachers and the several factions in religion, or by the absence of all religion: so that there were never such examples of impiety between such relations in any age of the world, Christian or heathen, as that wicked time, from the beginning of the rebellion to the kings return; of which the families of Hotham and Vane are sufficient instances; though other more illustrious houses may be named, where the same accursed fruit was too plentifully gathered, and too notorious to the world. The relation between masters and servants had been long since dissolved by the parliament, that their army might be increased by the prentices against their masters consent, and that they might have intelligence of the secret meetings and transactions in those houses and families which were not devoted to them; from whence issued the foulest treacheries and perfidiousness that were ever practised: and the blood of the master was frequently the price of the servants villany.
Cromwell had been most strict and severe in the forming the manners of his army, and in chastising all irregularities; insomuch that sure there was never any such body of men so without rapine, swearing, drinking, or any other debauchery, but the wickedness of their hearts: and all persons cherished by him, were of the same leaven, and to common appearance without the practice of any of those vices which were most infamous to the people, and which drew the public hatred upon those who were notoriously guilty of them. But then he was well pleased with the most scandalous lives of those who pretended to be for the king, and wished that all his were such, and took all the pains he could that they might be generally thought to be such; whereas in truth the greatest part of those who were guilty of those disorders were young men, who had never seen the king, and had been born and bred in those corrupt times, when there was no king of Israel. He was equally delighted with the luxury and voluptuousness of the presbyterians, who, in contempt of the thrift, sordidness, and affected ill-breeding of the independents, thought it became them to live more generously, and were not strict in restraining or mortifying the unruly and inordinate appetite of flesh and blood, but indulged it with too much and too open scandal, from which he reaped no small advantage; and wished all those, who were not his friends, should not only be infected, but given over to the practice of the most odious vices and wickedness.
In a word, the nation was corrupted from that integrity, good nature, and generosity, that had been peculiar to it, and for which it had been signal and celebrated throughout the world; in the room whereof the vilest craft and dissembling had succeeded. The tenderness of the bowels, which is the quintessence of justice and compassion, the very mention of good nature was laughed at and looked upon as the mark and character of a fool; and a roughness of manners, or hardheartedness and cruelty was affected. In the place of generosity, a vile and sordid love of money was entertained as the truest wisdom, and any thing lawful that would contribute towards being rich. There was a total decay, or rather a final expiration of all friendship; and to dissuade a man from any thing he affected, or to reprove him for any thing he had done amiss, or to advise him to do any thing he had no mind to do, was thought an impertinence unworthy a wise man, and received with reproach and contempt. These dilapidations and ruins of the ancient candour and discipline were not taken enough to heart, and repaired with that early care and severity that they might have been; for they were not then incorrigible; but by the remissness of applying remedies to some, and the unwariness in giving a kind of countenance to others, too much of that poison insinuated itself into minds not well fortified against such infection: so that much of the malignity was transplanted, instead of being extinguished, to the corruption of many wholesome bodies, which, being corrupted, spread the diseases more powerfully and more mischievously.