Sunday, September 08, 2013

An Intriguer and a Mischief-Maker

Writing yesterday about Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon, I remarked on the generosity of his understanding: his capacity to see merit in adversaries like William Hampden. But his capaciousness is not universal. Clarendon had no such affection for Hampden's great ally, John Pym. Here is a bit of Clarendon's judgment on Pym:

In the short parliament ..., he spoke much, and appeared to be the most leading man; for besides the exact knowledge of the forms, and orders of that council, which few men had, he had a very comely and grave way of expressing himself, with great volubility of words, natural and proper; and understood the temper and affections of the kingdom as any man; and had observed the errors and mistakes in government; and knew well how to make them appear greater than they were. After the unhappy dissolution of that parliament, he continued for the most part about London, in conversation and great repute amongst those lords who were most strangers to the court, and were believed most averse to it; in whom he improved all imaginable jealousies and discontents towards the state and as soon as this parliament was resolve to be summoned, he was as diligent to procure such persons to be elected as he knew to be most inclined to the way he meant to take. At the first opening of this parliament, he … seemed to all men to have the greatest influence upon the house of commons as of any man; and, in truth, I think he was at this time, and for some months after, the most popular man, and the most able to do hurt, that hath lived in any time.

In short, an intriguer and a natural trouble-maker. There's more, but nothing to alter the tone. Earlier, Clarendon has let himself go: “No man had more to answer for the miseries of his kingdom, or had his hand, or head, deeper in their contrivance.” From Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, excerpted in Clarendon at 245-49, 246-7 (G. Huehns ed. 1978).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

his descendants evolved into the tea party.