Nonfiction > William Jennings Bryan, ed. > The World’s Famous Orations > Vol. III. Great Britain: I
See also: Sir Henry Vane Biography
  The World’s Famous Orations.
Great Britain: I. (710–1777).  1906.
I. Against Richard Cromwell
Sir Henry Vane (1613–62)
Born in 1612, died in 1662; came to Massachusetts in 1635; Governor of Massachusetts 1636–1637; returned to England and entered Parliament in 1640; made a Commissioner to negotiate the Solemn League and Covenant with Scotland in 1643; member of Council of State in 1649; imprisoned for an attack on the Protectorate of Cromwell in 1656; arrested and executed on a charge of treason in 1660.
AMONG 1 all the people of the universe, I know none who have shown so much zeal for the liberty of their country as the English at this time have done;—they have, by the help of Divine Providence, overcome all obstacles, and have made themselves free. We have driven away the hereditary tyranny of the house of Stuart, at the expense of much blood and treasure, in hopes of enjoying hereditary liberty, after having shaken off the yoke of kingship; and there is not a man among us who could have imagined that any person would be so bold as to dare to attempt the ravishing from us that freedom which cost us so much blood and so much labor.  1
  But so it happens, I know not by what misfortune, we are fallen into the error of those who poisoned the Emperor Titus to make room for Domitian; who made away Augustus that they might have Tiberius; and changed Claudius for Nero. I am sensible these examples are foreign from my subject, since the Romans in those days were buried in lewdness and luxury, whereas the people of England are now renowned all over the world for their great virtue and discipline; and yet—suffer an idiot, without courage, without sense,—nay, without ambition—to have dominion in a country of liberty!  2
  One could bear a little with Oliver Cromwell, tho, contrary to his oath of fidelity to the Parliament, contrary to his duty to the public, contrary to the respect he owed that venerable body from whom he received his authority, he usurped the government. His merit was so extraordinary, that our judgments, our passions might be blinded by it. He made his way to empire by the most illustrious actions; he had under his command an army that had made him conqueror, and a people that had made him their general. But, as for Richard Cromwell, his son, who is he? What are his titles? We have seen that he had a sword by his side; but did he ever draw it? And what is of more importance in this case, is he fit to get obedience from a mighty nation, who could never make a footman obey him? Yet, we must recognize this man as our king, under the style of protector!—a man without birth, without courage, without conduct! For my part, I declare, sir, it shall never be said that I made such a man my master!  3
Note 1. Richard Cromwell was Oliver’s son and his successor as Protector. Vane’s speech was delivered in Parliament in 1659. [back]


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