Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Old Sussex Radical.                 115
educated man—well up in the classics—a good French scholar (I think he must have been a good deal in France in the early days of the Revolution—probably because England was too hot and Pitt too hard for him), and had no small literary talent, which he exercised both in verse and prose. But he was a politician avant tout; and his opinions, like those of so many of the older English Radicals, verged on Republicanism. There was an excuse for it in those days which does not exist now. At the close of the last century and the beginning of the present the Crown and Church and Aristocracy were all-powerful, and the excesses of the French Revolution had created such a strong feeling against popular concessions— concessions now amply made—that men might well be for­given for thinking that liberty could only be secured by a Republic, and that Monarchy was another name for despotism.
Amongst those who so thought was Clio Rickman, and he did not conceal his opinions, either in speech or in writing, or, so far as that could indicate them, in dress. His favourite English heroes were Lord William Russell and Algernon Sidney—his classical ones, Cato, Brutus, and Cassius. The education of men in those days was more classical than it is now; allusions to classical events by public speakers were more frequent, and the names of Greek and Roman patriots were much more common in men's mouths. In fact, there was a strong classical, and that signified Republican, current running through society and politics. We have worked out of that and beyond it in these days—I mean as to the Republicanism. We have known how to erect Republican institutions under the forms of Monarchy, and it is a happy solution, which Sidney and Home Tooke—aye, and a greater than either of these—Cromwell—would have rejoiced at, could they have achieved it.
Well, in Clio's days it was otherwise. A despotic Govern­ment was " on the cards," and, therefore, men were Repub­licans. But Clio's Republicanism, at the time I knew him, was of a very harmless kind. It was more literary than
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