Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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176                Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
where Noble represents them to have spent " 40 years of as great misery and wretchedness as can be paralleled." In a very maudlin strain, Noble proceeds:—"Dreadful as their sin had been, none can read their sufferings without commisera­tion, and the endearing softness—the firm yet gentle constancy of his amiable wife to her parent and her husband, in their years of captivity, must melt any heart that is not impenetrable to pity, and ought to be a lesson written in brass to deter men from enormous vices that have only the wretched alternative of a painful and ignominious death or a life of infamy, dread, and misery, separated from all those connections that render existence desirable, that here have no hopes, that hereafter can have no prospect but of still greater infliction, unless their crimes are redeemed with the severest and sincerest repentance."
Modern history looks at what Noble calls " the enormous vices" of Goffe and Whalley—that is, their opposition to and punishment of regal tyranny—in a different spirit from his: and, whether we approve or disapprove of some of their acts, it is not as men expiating infamous lives that we contemplate them in the forests of North America or their hiding-places in Holland and Switzerland, but rather as political martyrs— the victims of their efforts to carry out principles in advance of their day, but which are recognised in the present age as constituting the very basis of our liberty and our national greatness. The tribute to the "gentle constancy" of Goffe's wife and Whalley's daughter is in better taste; and we shall see by-and-bye that there were other women of the Puritan class who could bring to their cause as many feminine virtues as any Royalist could claim for his. The real life of Goffe and Whalley in North America is not to be found in Noble. Hardships, doubtless, they endured, like other early emigrants to those Colonies—like the Pilgrim Fathers themselves. But they had their freedom of thought and action; and doubtless in that, and in the knowledge of the ultimate overthrow of the Stewarts and their despotic notions of government, they found some solace for the privations which they had to endure.
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