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Of A History Of Events Which Have Not Happened
by [?]

For Gospel light first beamed from Bullen’s eyes.

It is, however, a curious fact, that when the fall of Anne Bullen was decided on, Rome eagerly prepared a reunion with the papacy, on terms too flattering for Henry to have resisted. It was only prevented taking place by an incident that no human foresight could have predicted. The day succeeding the decapitation of Anne Bullen witnessed the nuptials of Henry with the protestant Jane Seymour. This changed the whole policy. The despatch from Rome came a day too late! From such a near disaster the English Reformation escaped! The catholic Ward, in his singular Hudibrastic poem of “England’s Reformation,” in some odd rhymes, has characterised it by a naivete, which we are much too delicate to repeat. The catholic writers censure Philip for recalling the Duke of Alva from the Netherlands. According to these humane politicians, the unsparing sword, and the penal fires of this resolute captain, had certainly accomplished the fate of the heretics; for angry lions, however numerous, would find their numerical force diminished by gibbets and pit-holes. We have lately been informed by a curious writer, that protestantism once existed in Spain, and was actually extirpated at the moment by the crushing arm of the Inquisition.[3] According to these catholic politicians, a great event in catholic history did not occur–the spirit of catholicism, predominant in a land of protestants–from the Spanish monarch failing to support Alva in finishing what he had begun! Had the armada of Spain safely landed with the benedictions of Rome, in England, at a moment when our own fleet was short of gunpowder, and at a time when the English catholics formed a powerful party in the nation, we might now be going to mass.

After his immense conquests, had Gustavus Adolphus not perished in the battle of Lutzen, where his genius obtained a glorious victory, unquestionably a wonderful change had operated on the affairs of Europe; the protestant cause had balanced, if not preponderated over, the catholic interest; and Austria, which appeared a sort of universal monarchy, had seen her eagle’s wings clipped. But “the Antichrist,” as Gustavus was called by the priests of Spain and Italy, the saviour of protestantism, as he is called by England and Sweden, whose death occasioned so many bonfires among the catholics, that the Spanish court interfered lest fuel should become too scarce at the approaching winter–Gustavus fell–the fit hero for one of those great events which have never happened!

On the first publication of the “Icon Basilike,” of Charles the First, the instantaneous effect produced on the nation was such, fifty editions, it is said, appearing in one year, that Mr. Malcolm Laing observes, that “had this book,” a sacred volume to those who considered that sovereign as a martyr, “appeared a week sooner, it might have preserved the king,” and possibly have produced a reaction of popular feeling! The chivalrous Dundee made an offer to James the Second, which, had it been acted on, Mr. Laing acknowledges, might have produced another change! What then had become of our “glorious Revolution,” which from its earliest step, throughout the reign of William, was still vacillating amidst the unstable opinions and contending interests of so many of its first movers?

The great political error of Cromwell is acknowledged by all parties to have been the adoption of the French interest in preference to the Spanish; a strict alliance with Spain had preserved the balance of Europe, enriched the commercial industry of England, and, above all, had checked the overgrowing power of the French government. Before Cromwell had contributed to the predominance of the French power, the French Huguenots were of consequence enough to secure an indulgent treatment. The parliament, as Elizabeth herself had formerly done, considered so powerful a party in France as useful allies; and anxious to extend the principles of the Reformation, and to further the suppression of popery, the parliament had once listened to, and had even commenced a treaty with, deputies from Bordeaux, the purport of which was the assistance of the French Huguenots in their scheme of forming themselves into a republic, or independent state; but Cromwell, on his usurpation, not only overthrew the design, but is believed to have betrayed it to Mazarin. What a change in the affairs of Europe had Cromwell adopted the Spanish interest, and assisted the French Huguenots in becoming an independent state! The revocation of the edict of Nantes, and the increase of the French dominion, which so long afterwards disturbed the peace of Europe, were the consequence of this fatal error of Cromwell’s. The independent state of the French Huguenots, and the reduction of ambitious France, perhaps to a secondary European power, had saved Europe from the scourge of the French revolution!