[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vi. 315.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1657. Oct. 10.]
tract, "Killing no Murder;" nor was there, he said, any thing unlawful in these things, for the protectorate had not then been established by any authority of parliament; but, whenever he was interrogated respecting the names and plans of his associates, his answers became wild and incoherent, more calculated to mislead than to inform, to create suspicion of the friends, than to detect the machinations of the enemies, of the government. He was never brought to trial, but died, probably by violence, in the sixth month of his imprisonment.
3. During the winter Blake continued to blockade Cadiz: in spring he learnt that the Plate fleet from Peru had sought an asylum in the harbour of Santa Cruz, in the Island of Teneriffe. There the merchantmen, ten in number, were moored close to the shore, in the form of a crescent; while the six galleons in their front formed a parallel line at anchor in deeper water. The entrance of the bay was commanded by the guns of the castle; seven batteries erected at intervals along the beach protected the rest of the harbour; and these were connected with each other by covered ways lined with musketry. So confident was the governor when he surveyed these preparations, that, in the pride of his heart, he desired a Dutch
[Footnote 1: Clarendon Papers, iii. 322, 338, 357. Merc. Pol. 39. Thurloe, vi. 33, 182, 315, 425, 560, 829. Clarendon assures us that Sexby was an illiterate person, which is a sufficient proof that he was not the real author of the tract, though he acknowledged it for his own in the Tower, probably to deceive the protector. The writer, whoever he was, kept his secret, at least at first; for Clarendon writes to Secretary Nicholas, that he cannot imagine who could write it.—Clar. Papers, iii. 343. By most historians it has been attributed to Captain Titus; nor shall we think this improbable, if we recollect that Titus was, in Holland, constantly in the company of Sexby, till the departure of the latter for England.—Ibid. 331, 335. Evelyn asserts it in his Diary, ii. 210, 8vo.]
captain to inform the English admiral that he was welcome to come whenever he durst. Blake came, examined the defences, and, according to custom, proclaimed a solemn fast. At eight the next morning[a] Stayner took the lead in a frigate; the admiral followed in the larger ships; and the whole fleet availing itself of a favourable wind, entered the harbour under a tremendous shower of balls and shells. Each vessel immediately fell into its allotted station; and, while some engaged the shipping, the rest directed their fire against the batteries. The Spaniards, though fewer in number of ships, were superior in that of men; their hopes were supported by the aid which they received from the land; and during four hours they fought with the most determined bravery. Driven from the galleons, the crews retreated to the second line of merchantmen, and renewed the contest till they were finally compelled to save themselves on the shore. At two in the afternoon every Spanish ship was in possession of the English, and in flames. Still there remained the difficulty of working the fleet out of the harbour in the teeth of the gale. About sunset they were out of reach of the guns from the forts; the wind, by miracle, as Blake persuaded himself, veered to the south-west, and the conquerors proceeded triumphantly out to sea. This gallant action, though it failed of securing the treasure which the protector chiefly sought, raised the reputation of Blake in every part of Europe. Unfortunately the hero himself lived not to receive the congratulations of his country. He had been during a great part of three years at sea; the scurvy and dropsy wasted his constitution; and he expired[b] in his fifty-ninth year,
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1657. April 20.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1657. August 7.]
as his ship, the St. George, entered the harbour of Plymouth.
Blake had served with distinction in the army during the civil war; and the knowledge of his talents and integrity induced the parliamentary leaders to entrust him with the command of the fleet. For maritime tactics he relied on the experience of others; his plans and his daring were exclusively his own. He may claim the peculiar praise of having dispelled an illusion which had hitherto cramped the operations of the British navy—a persuasion that it was little short of madness to expose a ship at sea to the fire from a battery on shore. The victories of Blake at Tunis and Santa Cruz served to establish the contrary doctrine; and the seamen learned from his example to despise the danger which had hitherto been deemed so formidable. Though Cromwell prized his services, he doubted his attachment; and a suspicion existed that the protector did not regret the death of one who professed to fight for his country, not for the government. But he rendered that justice to the dead, which he might perhaps have refused to the living, hero. He publicly acknowledged his merit, honouring his bones with a funeral at the national expense, and ordering them to be interred at Westminster, in Henry the Seventh's chapel. In the next reign the coffin was taken from the vault, and deposited in the church yard.
4. The reader is aware of Cromwell's anxiety to form a more intimate alliance with Louis XIV. For this purpose Lockhart, one of the Scottish judges, who
[Footnote 1: Vaughan, ii. 176. Heath, 391, 402. Echard, 725. Journals, May 28, 29.]
had married his niece, and received knighthood at his hand, proceeded to France. After some discussion, a treaty, to last twelve months, was concluded;[a] and Sir John Reynolds landed at Calais[b] with an auxiliary force of six thousand men, one half in the pay of the king, the other half in that of the protector. But as an associate in the war, Cromwell demanded a share in the spoil, and that share was nothing less than the possession of Mardyke and Dunkirk, as soon as they could be reduced by the allies. To this proposal the strongest opposition had been made in the French cabinet. Louis was reminded of the injuries which the English, the natural enemies of France, had inflicted on the country in the reigns of his predecessors. Dunkirk would prove a second Calais; it would open to a foreign foe the way into the heart of his dominions. But he yielded to the superior wisdom or ascendancy of Mazarin, who replied that, if France refused the offers it would be accepted with a similar sacrifice by Spain; that, supposing the English to be established on that coast at all, it was better that they should be there as friends than as enemies; and that their present co-operation would enable him either to drive the Spaniards out of the Netherlands, or to dictate to them the terms of peace. The combined force
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vi. 63, 86, 115, 124. To avoid disputes, the treaty was written in the Latin language, and the precedency was given to Louis in one copy, to Cromwell in the other. In the diplomatic collection of Dumont, vi. part ii. 178, is published a second treaty, said to have been signed on May 9th, N.S. If it were genuine, it would disclose gigantic projects of aggrandizement on the part of the two powers. But it is clearly a forgery. We have despatches from Lockhart dated on the day of the pretended signature, and other despatches for a year afterward; yet none of them make the remotest allusion to this treaty; several contain particulars inconsistent with it.]
[Footnote 2: Oeuvres de Louis XIV. i. 171.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1657. March 13, May 15.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1657. May 15.]
was placed under the command of the celebrated Turenne, who was opposed by the Spaniards under Don Juan, with the British exiles, commanded by the duke of York, and the French exiles, by the prince of Conde. The English auxiliaries, composed of veteran regiments, supported the reputation of their country by their martial appearance and exemplary discipline; but they had few opportunities of displaying their valour; and the summer was spent in a tedious succession of marches and countermarches, accompanied with no brilliant action nor important result. Cromwell viewed the operations of the army with distrust and impatience. The French ministry seemed in no haste to redeem their pledge with respect to the reduction of Dunkirk, and to his multiplied remonstrances uniformly opposed this unanswerable objection, that, in the opinion of Turenne, the best judge, the attempt in the existing circumstances must prove ruinous to the allies. At last he would brook no longer delay; the army marched into the neighbourhood of the town, and the fort of Mardyke capitulated[a] after a siege of three days. But the Spaniards lay strongly intrenched behind the canal of Bergues, between Mardyke and Dunkirk; and by common consent the design was abandoned, and the siege of Gravelines substituted in its place. Scarcely, however, had the combined army taken[b] a position before it, when the sluices were opened, the country was inundated, and Turenne dismissed his forces into winter quarters. Mardyke received a garrison, partly of English, and partly of French, under the command of Sir John Reynolds; but that officer in a short time incurred the suspicion of the protector. The duke of York, from his former service in the French army, was well known
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1657. Sept. 23.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1657. Sept. 27.]
to some of the French officers. They occasionally met and exchanged compliments in their rides, he from Dunkirk, they from Mardyke. By one of them Reynolds solicited permission to pay his respects to the young prince. He was accompanied by Crew, another officer; and, though he pretended that it was an accidental civility, found the opportunity of whispering an implied offer of his services in the ear of the duke. Within a few days he received an order to wait on the protector in London in company with Colonel White, who had secretly accused him; but both were lost[a] on the Goodwin Sands, through the ignorance or the stupidity of the captain.
At home the public attention was absorbed by a new and most interesting spectacle. The parliament met on the day to which it had been adjourned, but it was now divided according to the ancient form into two houses. Sixty-two individuals had been summoned[b] to the upper house, and the writs, as they were copies of those formerly issued by the sovereign, were held to confer in like manner the privileges of an hereditary peerage, subject to certain exceptions specified in the "petition and advice." The Commons, at the call of the usher of the black rod, proceeded to the House of Lords, where they found his highness seated under a canopy of state. His speech began with the ancient address: "My lords and gentlemen of the House of Commons." It was short, but its brevity was compensated by its piety, and after an exposition of the eighty-fifth psalm, he referred his two houses for other particulars to Fiennes, the lord-keeper, who, in a long and tedious
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vi. 231, 287, 426, 512, 538, 542, 580, 637, 665, 676, 731. Memoirs of James, i. 317-328.]
[Footnote 2: Thurloe, vi. 752.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1657. Dec. 5.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1658. Jan. 20.]
harangue, praised and defended the new institutions. After the departure of the Commons, the Lords spent their time in inquiries into the privileges of their house. Cromwell had summoned his two sons, Richard and Henry, seven peers of royal creation, several members of his council, some gentlemen of fortune and family, with a due proportion of lawyers and officers, and a scanty sprinkling of persons known to be disaffected to his government. Of the ancient peers two only attended, the lords Eure and Falconberg, of whom the latter had recently[a] married Mary, the protector's daughter; and of the other members, nine were absent through business or disinclination. As their journals have not been preserved, we have little knowledge of their proceedings.
In the lower house, the interest of the government had declined by the impolitic removal of the leading members to the House of Lords, and by the introduction of those who, having formerly been excluded by order of Cromwell, now took their seats in virtue of the article which reserved to the house the right of inquiry into the qualifications of its members. The opposition was led by two men of considerable influence and undaunted resolution, Hazlerig and Scot. Both had been excluded at the first meeting of this parliament, and both remembered the affront. To remove Hazlerig
[Footnote 1: Journals, Jan. 7, 20. Whitelock, 666, 668. The speech of Fiennes is reported in the Journals, Jan. 25. See the names and characters of those who attended, in "A Second Narrative of the late Parliament (so called), &c., printed in the fifth year of England's Slavery under its new Monarchy, 1658." "They spent their time in little matters, such as choosing of committees; and among other things, to consider of the privileges and jurisdiction of their house, (good wise souls!) before they knew what their house was, or should be called."—Ibid. 7. The peers who refused to attend, were the earls of Mulgrave, Warwick, and Manchester, the Viscount Say and Sele, and the Lord Wharton.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1657. Nov. 19.]
from a place where his experience and eloquence rendered him a formidable adversary, Cromwell had called him to the upper house; but he refused to obey the writ, and took his seat among the Commons. That a new house was to be called according to the articles of the "petition and advice," no one denied; but who, it was asked, made its members lords? who gave them the privileges of the ancient peerage? who empowered them to negative the acts of that house to which they owed their existence? Was it to be borne that the children should assume the superiority over their parents; that the nominees of the protector should control the representatives of the people, the depositaries of the supreme power of the nation? It was answered that the protector had called them lords; that it was the object of "the petition and advice" to re-establish the "second estate;" and that, if any doubt remained, it were best to amend the "instrument" by giving to the members of the other house the title of lords, and to the protector that of king.[a] Cromwell sought to soothe these angry spirits. He read to them lectures on the benefit, the necessity, of unanimity. Let them look abroad. The papists threatened to swallow up all the Protestants of Europe. England was the only stay, the last hope of religion. Let them look at home: the Cavaliers and the Levellers were combined to overthrow the constitution; Charles Stuart was preparing an invasion; and the Dutch had ungratefully sold him certain vessels for that purpose. Dissension would inevitably draw down ruin on themselves,
[Footnote 1: Hazlerig made no objection to the oath which bound him to be faithful to the protector. But the sense which he attached to it is singular: "I will be faithful," said he, "to the lord-protector's person. I will murder no man."—Burton's Diary, ii. 347.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Jan. 25.]
their liberties, and their religion. For himself. he called God, angels, and men, to witness that he sought not the office which he held. It was forced upon him; but he had sworn to execute its duties, and he would perform what he had sworn, by preserving to every class of men their just rights, whether civil or religious. But his advice, and entreaties, and menaces were useless.[a] The judges repeatedly brought messages from "the Lords to the Commons," and as often were told that "that house would return an answer by messengers of their own."[b] Instead, however, of returning answers, they spent their whole time in debating what title and what rights ought to belong to the other house.
Never, perhaps, during his extraordinary career, was Cromwell involved in difficulties equal to those which surrounded him at this moment. He could raise no money without the consent of parliament, and the pay of the army in England was five, and of that in Ireland seven, months in arrear; the exiled king threatened a descent from the coast of Flanders, and the royalists throughout the
[Footnote 1: Mr. Rutt has added this speech to Burton's Diary, ii. 351-371. I may remark that, 1. The protector now addressed the members by the ambiguous style of "my lords and gentlemen of the two houses of parliament." 2. That he failed in proving the danger which, as he pretended, menaced Protestantism. If, in the north, the two Protestant states of Sweden and Denmark were at war with each other, more to the south the Catholic states of France and Spain were in the same situation. 3. That the vessels sold by the Dutch were six flutes which the English cruisers afterwards destroyed. 4. That from this moment he was constantly asserting with oaths that he sought not his present office. How could he justify such oaths in his own mind? Was it on the fallacious ground that what he in reality sought was the office of king, not of protector?]
[Footnote 2: Journals, Jan. 25, 29, Feb. 1, 3. Burton's Diary, ii. 371-464. Thurloe, i. 766; vi. 767.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Jan. 22.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1658. Feb. 3.]
kingdom were preparing to join his standard; the leaders of opposition in parliament had combined with several officers in the army to re-establish the commonwealth, "without a single person or house of lords;" and a preparatory petition for the purpose of collecting signatures was circulated through the city. Cromwell consulted his most trusty advisers, of whom some suggested a dissolution, others objected the want of money, and the danger of irritating the people. Perhaps he had already taken his resolution, though he kept it a secret within his own breast; perhaps it might be the result of some sudden and momentary impulse; but one morning[a] he unexpectedly threw himself into a carriage with two horses standing at the gates of Whitehall; and, beckoning to six of his guards to follow, ordered the coachman to drive to the parliament house. There he revealed his purpose to Fleetwood, and, when that officer ventured to remonstrate, declared, by the living God that he would dissolve the parliament. Sending for the Commons, he addressed them in an angry and expostulating tone. "They," he said, "had placed him in the high situation in which he stood; he sought it not; there was neither man nor woman treading on English ground who could say he did. God knew that he would rather have lived under a wood side, and have tended a flock of sheep, than have undertaken the government. But, having undertaken it at their request, he had a right to look to them for aid and support. Yet some among them, God was his witness, in violation of their oaths, were attempting to establish a commonwealth
[Footnote 1: "Something happening that morning that put the protector into a rage and passion near unto madness, as those at Whitehall can witness."—Second Narrative, p. 8.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Feb. 4.]
interest in the army; some had received commissions to enlist men for Charles Stuart; and both had their emissaries at that moment seeking to raise a tumult, or rather a rebellion, in the city. But he was bound before God to prevent such disasters; and, therefore," he concluded, "I think it high time that an end be put to your sitting; and I do dissolve this parliament; and let God judge between me and you." "Amen, amen," responded several voices from the ranks of the opposition.
This was the fourth parliament that Cromwell had broken. The republicans indulged their resentment in murmurs, and complaints, and menaces; but the protector, secure of the fidelity of the army, despised the feeble efforts of their vengeance, and encouraged by his vigour the timidity of his counsellors. Strong patrols of infantry and cavalry paraded the streets, dispersing every assemblage of people in the open air, in private houses, and even in conventicles and churches, for the purpose, or under the pretext, of devotion. The colonel-major and several captains of his own regiment were cashiered; many of the Levellers and royalists were arrested and imprisoned, or discharged upon bail; and the lord-mayor, aldermen, and common-council received from Cromwell
[Footnote 1: Journ. Feb. 4. Thurloe, vi. 778, 779, 781, 788. Parl. Hist. iii. 1525. By the oath, which Cromwell reproaches them with violating, they had sworn "to be true and faithful to the lord-protector as chief magistrate, and not to contrive, design, or attempt any thing against his person or lawful authority."]
[Footnote 2: "I," says Hacker, "that had served him fourteen years, and had commanded a regiment seven years, without any trial or appeal, with the breath of his nostrils I was outed, and lost not only my place but a dear friend to boot. Five captains under my command were outed with me, because they could not say that was a house of lords."—Burton's Diary, iii. 166.]
himself an account of the danger which threatened them from the invasion meditated by Charles Stuart, and a charge to watch the haunts of the discontented, and to preserve the tranquillity of the city. At the same time his agents were busy in procuring loyal and affectionate addresses from the army, the counties, and the principal towns; and these, published in the newspapers, served to overawe his enemies, and to display the stability of his power.
The apprehension of invasion, to which Cromwell so frequently alluded, was not entirely groundless. On the return of the winter, the royalists had reminded Charles of his promise in the preceding spring; the king of Spain furnished an aid of one hundred and fifty thousand crowns; the harbour of Ostend was selected for the place of embarkation; and arms, ammunition, and transports were purchased in Holland. The prince himself, mastering for a while his habits of indolence and dissipation, appeared eager to redeem his pledge; but the more prudent of his advisers conjured him not to risk his life on general assurances of support; and the marquess of Ormond, with the most chivalrous loyalty, offered to ascertain on the spot the real objects and resources of his adherents. Pretending to proceed on a mission to the court of the duke of Neuburg, that nobleman, accompanied by O'Neil, crossed the sea,[a] landed in disguise at Westmarch on the coast of Essex, and
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vi. 778, 781, 788; vii. 4, 21, 32, 49, 71. Parl. Hist. iii. 1528.]
[Footnote 2: Still Ormond says to Hyde, "I fear his immoderate delight in empty, effeminate, and vulgar conversations is become an irresistible part of his nature, and will never suffer him to animate his own designs, and others' actions, with that spirit which is requisite for his quality, and much more to his fortune."—27, Jan. 7, 1658. Clar. iii. 387.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. End of January.]
hastened to London. There, continually changing his dress and lodgings, he contrived to elude the suspicion of the spies of government, and had opportunities of conversing with men of different parties; with the royalists, who sought the restoration of the ancient monarchy; with the Levellers, who were willing that the claims of the king and the subject should be adjusted in a free parliament; with the moderate Presbyterians, who, guided by the earls of Manchester and Denbigh, with Rossiter and Sir William Waller, offered to rely on the royal promises; and the more rigid among the same religionists, who, with the lords Say and Robarts at their head, demanded the confirmation of the articles to which the late king had assented in the Isle of Wight. But from none could he procure any satisfactory assurances of support. They were unable to perform what they had promised by their agents. They had not the means, nor the courage, nor the abilities, necessary for the undertaking. The majority refused to declare themselves, till Charles should have actually landed with a respectable force; and the most sanguine required a pledge that he would be ready to sail the moment he heard of their rising, because there was no probability of their being able, without foreign aid, to make head against the protector beyond the short space of a fortnight.
In these conferences Ormond frequently came in contact with Sir Richard Willis, one of the sealed knot, and standing high in the confidence of Charles.
[Footnote 1: Carte's Letters, ii. 118, 124, 130. Clar. iii. 388, 392, 395. Thurloe, i. 718.]
[Footnote 2: The knot consisted of Willis, Colonel Russell, Sir William Compton, Edward Villiers, and Mr. Broderick, according to several letters in Clarendon; according to the duke of York, of the four first, Lord Belasyse, and Lord Loughborough.—James, i. 370.]
Willis uniformly disapproved of the attempt. The king's enemies, he observed, were now ready to unsheath their swords against each other; but let the royal banner be once unfurled, and they would suspend their present quarrel, to combine their efforts against the common enemy. Yet the author of this prudent advice was, if we may believe Clarendon, a traitor, though a traitor of a very singular description. He is said to have contracted with Cromwell, in consideration of an annual stipend, to reveal to him the projects of the king and the royalists; but on condition that he should have no personal communication with the protector, that he should never be compelled to mention any individual whose name he wished to keep secret, and that he should not be called upon to give evidence, or to furnish documents, for the conviction of any prisoner. It is believed that for several years he faithfully complied with this engagement; and when he thought that Ormond had been long enough in London, he informed Cromwell of the presence of the marquess in the capital, but at the same moment conveyed advice to the marquess that orders had been issued for his apprehension. This admonition had its desired effect. Ormond stole away[b] to Shoreham in Sussex, crossed over to Dieppe, concealed himself two months in Paris, and then, travelling
[Footnote 1: This is Clarendon's account. In Thurloe, i. 757, is a paper signed John Foster, supposed to be the original offer made to Thurloe by Willis. He there demands that no one but the protector should be acquainted with his employment; that he should never be brought forward as a witness; that the pardon of one dear friend should be granted to him; and that he should receive fifty pounds with the answer, five hundred pounds on his first interview with Thurloe, and five hundred pounds when he put into their hands any of the conspirators against Cromwell's person.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Feb. 15.]
in disguise through France to Geneva, that he might escape the notice of Lockhart and Mazarin, returned along the Rhine to join his master in Flanders.
There was little in the report of Ormond to give encouragement to Charles; his last hopes were soon afterwards extinguished by the vigilance of Cromwell. The moment the thaw opened the ports of Holland, a squadron of English frigates swept the coast,[a] captured three and drove on shore two flutes destined for the expedition, and closely blockaded the harbour of Ostend. The design was again postponed till the winter;[b] and the king resolved to solicit in person a supply of money at the court of the Spanish monarch. But from this journey he was dissuaded both by Hyde and by the Cardinal de Retz, who pointed out to him the superior advantage of his residence in Flanders, where he was in readiness to seize the first propitious moment which fortune should offer. In the mean time the cardinal, through his agent in Rome, solicited from the pope pecuniary aid for the king, on condition that in the event of his ascending the throne of his fathers, he should release the Catholics of his three kingdoms from the intolerable pressure of the penal laws.
The transactions of this winter, the attempt of Syndercombe, the ascendancy of the opposition in parliament,
[Footnote 1: Clar. Hist. iii. 614-618, 667. Clarendon's narrative is so frequently inaccurate, that it is unsafe to give credit to any charge on his authority alone; but in the present instance he relates the discovery of the treachery of Willis with such circumstantial minuteness, that it requires a considerable share of incredulity to doubt of its being substantially true; and his narrative is confirmed by James II. (Mem. i. 370), and other documents to be noticed hereafter.]
[Footnote 2: Carte's Letters, ii. 126, 135. Clar. Papers, iii. 396.]
[Footnote 3: Carte's Letters, ii. 136-142, 145. Clar. Pap. iii. 401.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. March 15.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1658. April 14.]
and the preparations of the royalists to receive the exiled king, added to habitual indisposition, had soured and irritated the temper of Cromwell. He saw that to bring to trial the men who had been his associates in the cause might prove a dangerous experiment; but there was nothing to deter him from wreaking his vengeance on the royalists, and convincing them of the danger of trespassing any more on his patience by their annual projects of insurrection. In every county all who had been denounced, all who were even suspected, were put under arrest; a new high court of justice was established according to the act of 1656; and Sir Henry Slingsby, Dr. Hewet, and Mr. Mordaunt, were selected for the three first victims. Slingsby, a Catholic gentleman and a prisoner at Hull, had endeavoured to corrupt the fidelity of the officers in the garrison; who, by direction of the governor, amused the credulity of the old man, till he had the imprudence to deliver[a] to them a commission from Charles Stuart. Dr. Hewet was an episcopalian divine, permitted to preach at St. Gregory's, and had long been one of the most active and useful of the royal agents in the vicinity of the capital. Mordaunt, a younger brother of the earl of Peterborough, had also displayed his zeal for the king, by maintaining a constant correspondence with the marquess of Ormond, and distributing royal commissions to those who offered to raise men in favour of Charles. Of the truth of the charges brought against them, there could be no doubt; and, aware of their danger, they strongly protested against the legality of the court, demanded a trial by jury, and appealed to Magna Charta and several acts of parliament. Slingsby at last pleaded, and was condemned; Hewet, under the
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vi. 777, 780, 786, 870; vii. 46, 47, 98.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. April 2.]
pretence that to plead was to betray the liberties of Englishmen, stood mute; and his silence, according to a recent act, was taken for a confession of guilt. Mordaunt was more fortunate. Stapeley, who, to save his own life, swore against him, proved an unwilling witness; and Mallory, who was to have supported the evidence of Stapeley, had four days before been bribed to abscond. This deficiency was gladly laid hold of by the majority of the judges, who gave their opinion[a] that his guilt was not proved; and, for similar reasons, some days later acquitted two other conspirators, Sir Humphrey Bennet and Captain Woodcock. The fact is, they were weary of an office which exposed them to the censure of the public; for the court was viewed with hatred by the people. It abolished the trial by jury; it admitted no inquest or presentment by the oaths of good and faithful men; it deprived the accused of the benefit of challenge; and its proceedings were contrary to the law of treason, the petition of right, and the very oath of government taken by the protector. Cromwell, dissatisfied with these acquittals, yielded to the advice of the council, and sent the rest of the prisoners before the usual courts of law, where several were found guilty, and condemned to suffer the penalties of treason.
Great exertions were made to save the lives of Slingsby and Hewet. In favour of the first, it was urged that he had never been suffered to compound, had never submitted to the commonwealth, and had
[Footnote 1: Whitelock, 673, 674. Thurloe, vii. 159, 164. State Trials, v. 871, 883, 907. These trials are more interesting in Clarendon, but much of his narrative is certainly, and more of it probably, fictitious. It is not true that Slingsby's offence was committed two years before, nor that Hewet was accused of visiting the king in Flanders, nor that Mallory escaped out of the hall on the morning of the trial (See Claren. Hist. iii. 619-624.) Mallory's own account of his escape is in Thurloe, vii. 194-220.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. June 9.]
been for years deprived both of his property and liberty, so that his conduct should be rather considered as the attempt of a prisoner of war to regain his freedom, than of a subject to overturn the government. This reasoning was urged[a] by his nephew, Lord Falconberg, who, by his recent marriage with Mary Cromwell, was believed to possess considerable influence with her father. The interest of Dr. Hewet was espoused by a more powerful advocate—by Elizabeth, the best-beloved of Cromwell's daughters, who at the same time was in a delicate and precarious state of health. But it was in vain that she interceded for the man whose spiritual ministry she employed; Cromwell was inexorable. He resolved[b] that blood should be shed, and that the royalists should learn to fear his resentment, since they had not been won by his forbearance. Both suffered death by decapitation.
During the winter, the gains and losses of the hostile armies in Flanders had been nearly balanced. If, on the one hand, the duke of York was repulsed with loss in his attempt to storm by night the works at Mardyke; on the other, the Marshal D'Aumont was made prisoner with fifteen hundred men by the Spanish governor of Ostend, who, under the pretence of delivering up the place, had decoyed him within the fortifications. In February, the offensive treaty
[Footnote 1: Ludlow, ii. 149. I think there is some reason to question those sentiments of loyalty to the house of Stuart, and that affliction and displeasure on account of the execution of Hewet, which writers attribute to Elizabeth Claypole. In a letter written by her to her sister-in-law, the wife of H. Cromwell, and dated only four days after the death of Hewet, she calls on her to return thanks to God for their deliverence from Hewet's conspiracy: "for sertingly not ondly his (Cromwell's) famely would have bin ruined, but in all probabillyti the hol nation would have his invold in blod."—June 13. Thurloe, vii. 171.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1657. Nov. 19.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1658. June 8.]
between France and England was renewed for another year; three thousand men, drafted from different regiments, were sent by the protector to supply the deficiency in the number of his forces; and the combined army opened the campaign with the siege of Dunkirk. By the Spaniards the intelligence was received with surprise and apprehension. Deceived by false information, they had employed all their efforts to provide for the safety of Cambray. The repeated warnings given by Charles had been neglected; the extensive works at Dunkirk remained in an unfinished state; and the defence of the place had been left to its ordinary garrison of no more than one thousand men, and these but scantily supplied with stores and provisions. To repair his error, Don Juan, with the consent of his mentor, the Marquess Caracena, resolved to hazard a battle; and, collecting a force of six thousand infantry and four thousand cavalry, encamped between the village of Zudcote and the lines of the besiegers. But Turenne, aware of the defective organization of the Spanish armies, resolved to prevent the threatened attack; and the very next morning, before the Spanish cannon and ammunition had reached the camp, the allied force was seen advancing in battle array. Don Juan hastily placed his men along a ridge of sand-hills which extended from the sea coast to the canal, giving the command of the right wing to the duke of York, of the left to the prince of Conde, and reserving the centre to himself. The battle was begun by the English, who found themselves opposed to their countryman, the duke of York. They were led by Major-General Morgan; for Lockhart, who acted both as ambassador and commander-in-chief, was confined by indisposition to his carriage. Their ardour to distinguish themselves in the presence of the two rival nations carried them considerably in advance of their allies; but, having halted to gain breath at the foot of the opposite sand-hill, they mounted with impetuosity, received the fire of the enemy, and, at the point of the pike, drove them from their position. The duke immediately charged at the head of the Spanish cavalry; but one half of his men were mowed down by a well-directed fire of musketry; and James himself owed the preservation of his life to the temper of his armour. The advantage, however, was dearly purchased: in Lockhart's regiment scarcely an officer remained to take the command.
By this time the action had commenced on the left, where the prince of Conde, after some sharp fighting, was compelled to retreat by the bank of the canal. The centre was never engaged; for the regiment, on its extreme left, seeing itself flanked by the French in pursuit of Conde, precipitately abandoned its position, and the example was successively imitated by the whole line. But, in the meanwhile, the duke of York had rallied his broken infantry, and while they faced the English, he charged the latter in flank at the head of his company of horse-guards. Though thrown into disorder, they continued to fight, employing the butt-ends of their muskets against the swords of their adversaries, and in a few minutes several squadrons of French cavalry arrived to their aid. James was surrounded; and, in despair of saving himself by flight, he boldly assumed the character of a French officer; rode at the head of twenty troopers toward the right of their army; and, carefully threading the different corps, arrived without exciting suspicion at the bank of the canal, by which he speedily effected his escape to Furnes. The victory on the part of the allies was complete. The Spanish cavalry made no effort to protect the retreat of their infantry; every regiment of which was successively surrounded by the pursuers, and compelled to surrender. By Turenne and his officers the chief merit of this brilliant success was cheerfully allotted to the courage and steadiness of the English regiments; at Whitehall it was attributed to the prayers of the lord-protector, who, on that very day, observed with his council a solemn fast to implore the blessing of heaven on the operations of the allied army.
Unable to oppose their enemies in the field, the Spanish generals proposed to retard their progress by the most obstinate defence of the different fortresses. The prince de Ligne undertook that of Ipres; the care of Newport, Bruges, and Ostend was committed to the duke of York; and Don Juan returned to Brussels to hasten new levies from the different provinces. Within a fortnight Dunkirk capitulated,[a] and the king of France, having taken possession, delivered the keys with his own hand to the English ambassador. Gravelines was soon afterwards reduced;[b] the prince de Ligne suffered himself to be surprised by the
[Footnote 1: See the account of this battle by James himself, in his Memoirs, i. 338-358; also Thurloe, vii. 155, 156, 159.]
[Footnote 2: "Truly," says Thurloe, "I never was present at any such exercise, where I saw a greater spirit of faith and prayer poured forth."—Ibid. 158. "The Lord," says Fleetwood, "did draw forth his highness's heart, to set apart that day to seek the Lord; and indeed there was a very good spirit appearing. Whilst we were praying, they were fighting; and the Lord hath given a signal answer. And the Lord hath not only owned us in our work there, but in our waiting upon him in our way of prayer, which is indeed our old experienced approved way in all our straits and difficulties."—Ibid. 159.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. June 17.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1658. August 20.]
superior activity of Turenne; Ipres opened its gates, and all the towns on the banks of the Lys successively submitted to the conquerors. Seldom, perhaps, had there occurred a campaign more disastrous to the Spanish arms.
In the eyes of the superficial observer, Cromwell might now appear to have reached the zenith of power and greatness. At home he had discovered, defeated, and punished all the conspiracies against him; abroad, his army had gained laurels in the field; his fleets swept the seas; his friendship was sought by every power; and his mediation was employed in settling the differences between both Portugal and Holland, and the king of Sweden and the elector of Brandenburg. He had recently sent Lord Falconberg to compliment Louis XIV. on his arrival at Calais; and in a few days, was visited by the duke of Crequi, who brought him a magnificent sword as a present from that prince, and by Mancini, with another present of tapestry from his uncle, the Cardinal Mazarin. But, above all, he was now in possession of Dunkirk, the great object of his foreign policy for the last two years, the opening through which he was to accomplish the designs of Providence on the continent. The real fact, however, was that his authority in England never rested on a more precarious footing than at the present moment; while, on the other hand, the cares and anxieties of government, joined to his apprehensions of personal violence, and the pressure of domestic affliction, were
[Footnote 1: James, Memoirs, i. 359. Thurloe, vii. 169, 176, 215. If we may believe Temple (ii. 545), Cromwell now saw his error in aiding the French, and made an offer of uniting his forces with those of Spain, provided the siege of Calais were made the first attempt of the combined army.]
rapidly undermining his constitution, and hurrying him from the gay and glittering visions of ambition to the darkness and silence of the tomb.
1. Cromwell was now reduced to that situation which, to the late unfortunate monarch, had proved the source of so many calamities. His expenditure far outran his income. Though the last parliament had made provision, ample provision, as it was then thought, for the splendour of his establishment, and for all the charges of the war, he had already contracted enormous debts; his exchequer was frequently drained to the last shilling; and his ministers were compelled to go a-begging—such is the expression of the secretary of state—for the temporary loan of a few thousand pounds, with the cheerless anticipation of a refusal. He looked on the army, the greater part of which he had quartered in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, as his chief—his only support against his enemies; and while the soldiers were comfortably clothed and fed, he might with confidence rely on their attachment; but now that their pay was in arrear, he had reason to apprehend that discontent might induce them to listen to the suggestions of those officers who sought to subvert his power. On former occasions, indeed, he had relieved himself from similar embarrassments by the imposition of taxes by his own authority; but this practice was so strongly reprobated in the petition and advice, and he had recently abjured it with so much solemnity, that he dared not repeat the experiment. He attempted to raise a loan among the merchants and capitalists in the city; but his credit and popularity were gone; he had, by plunging into
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vii. 99, 100, 144, 295.]
war with Spain, cut off one of the most plentiful sources of profit, the Spanish trade; and the number of prizes made by the enemy, amounting to more than a thousand, had ruined many opulent houses. The application was eluded by a demand of security on the landed property belonging to country gentlemen. There remained a third expedient,—an application to parliament. But Cromwell, like the first Charles, had learned to dread the very name of a parliament. Three of these assemblies he had moulded according to his own plan, and yet not one of them could he render obsequious to his will. Urged, however, by the ceaseless importunities of Thurloe, he appointed[a] nine councillors to inquire into the means of defeating the intrigues of the republicans in a future parliament; the manner of raising a permanent revenue from the estates of the royalists; and the best method of determining the succession to the protectorate. But among the nine were two who, aware of his increasing infirmities, began to cherish projects of their own aggrandizement, and who, therefore, made it their care to perplex and to prolong the deliberations. The committee sat three weeks. On the two first questions they came to no conclusion; with respect to the third, they voted, on a division, that the choice between an elective and an hereditary succession was a matter of indifference. Suspicious of their motives, Cromwell dissolved[b] the committee. But he substituted no
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vii. 662.]
[Footnote 2: Ibid. 146, 176, 192, 269. The committee consisted, in Thurloe's words, of Lord Fiennes, Lord Fleetwood, Lord Desborow, Lord Chamberlayne, Lord Whalley, Mr. Comptroller, Lord Goffe, Lord Cooper, and himself (p. 192). On this selection Henry Cromwell observes: "The wise men were but seven; it seems you have made them nine. And having heard their names, I think myself better able to guess what they'll do than a much wiser man; for no very wise man can ever imagine it" (p. 217).]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658 June 16.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1658 July 8.]
council in its place; things were allowed to take their course; the embarrassment of the treasury increased; and the irresolution of the protector, joined to the dangers which threatened the government, shook the confidence of Thurloe himself. It was only when he looked up to heaven that he discovered a gleam of hope, in the persuasion that the God who had befriended Cromwell through life, would not desert him at the close of his career.[a]
2. To the cares of government must be added his constant dread of assassination. It is certainly extraordinary that, while so many conspiracies are said to have been formed, no attempt was actually made against his person; but the fact that such designs had existed, and the knowledge that his death was of the first importance to his enemies, convinced him that he could never be secure from danger. He multiplied his precautions. We are told that he wore defensive armour under his clothes; carried loaded pistols in his pockets; sought to remain in privacy; and, when he found it necessary to give audience, sternly watched the eyes and gestures of those who addressed him. He was careful that his own motions should not be known beforehand. His carriage was filled with attendants; a numerous escort accompanied him; and he proceeded at full speed, frequently diverging from the road to the right or left, and generally returning by a different route. In his palace he often inspected the nightly watch, changed his bed-chamber, and was careful that, besides the principal door, there should be some other egress, for the facility
[Footnote 1: Ibid. 153, 282, 295.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. July 27.]
of escape. He had often faced death without flinching in the field; but his spirit broke under the continual fear of unknown and invisible foes. He passed the nights in a state of feverish anxiety; sleep fled from his pillow; and for more than a year before his death we always find the absence of rest assigned as either the cause which produced, or a circumstance which aggravated, his numerous ailments.
3. The selfishness of ambition does not exclude the more kindly feelings of domestic affection. Cromwell was sincerely attached to his children; but, among them, he gave the preference to his daughter Elizabeth Claypole. The meek disposition of the young woman possessed singular charms for the overbearing spirit of her father; and her timid piety readily received lessons on mystical theology from the superior experience of the lord-general. But she was now dying of a most painful and internal complaint, imperfectly understood by her physicians; and her grief for the loss of her infant child added to the poignancy of her sufferings. Cromwell abandoned the business of state that he might hasten to Hampton Court, to
[Footnote 1: So says Clarendon (iii. 646), Bates (Elench. 343), and Welwood (p. 94); but their testimony can prove nothing more than that such reports were current, and obtained credit, among the royalists.]
[Footnote 2: The following passage from one of Cromwell's letters to his daughter Ireton, will perhaps surprise the reader. "Your sister Claypole is (I trust in mercye) exercised with some perplexed thoughts, shee sees her owne vanitye and carnal minde, bewailinge itt, shee seeks after (as I hope alsoe) that w'ch will satisfie, and thus to bee a seeker, is to be of the best sect next a finder, and such an one shall every faythfull humble seeker bee at the end. Happie seeker; happie finder. Who ever tasted that the Lord is gracious, without some sense of self-vanitye and badness? Who ever tasted that graciousnesse of his, and could goe lesse in desier, and lesse than pressinge after full enjoyment? Deere hart presse on: lett not husband, lett not anythinge coole thy affections after Christ," &c. &c. &c.—Harris, iii. App. 515, edit. 1814.]
console his favourite daughter. He frequently visited her, remained long in her apartment, and, whenever he quitted it, seemed to be absorbed in the deepest melancholy. It is not probable that the subject of their private conversation was exposed to the profane ears of strangers. We are, however, told that she expressed to him her doubts of the justice of the good old cause, that she exhorted him to restore the sovereign authority to the rightful owner, and that, occasionally, when her mind was wandering, she alarmed him by uttering cries of "blood," and predictions of vengeance.
4. Elizabeth died.[a] The protector was already confined to his bed with the gout, and, though he had anticipated the event, some days elapsed before he recovered from the shock. A slow fever still remained, which was pronounced a bastard tertian.[b] One of his physicians whispered to another, that his pulse was intermittent;[c] the words caught the ears of the sick man; he turned pale, a cold perspiration covered his face; and, requesting to be placed in bed, he executed his private will. The next morning he had recovered his usual composure; and when he received the visit of his physician,[d] ordering all his attendants to quit the room but his wife, whom he held by the hand, he said to him: "Do not think that I shall die; I am sure of the contrary." Observing the surprise which these words excited, he continued: "Say not that I have lost my reason: I tell you the truth. I know it from better authority than any which you can have from Galen or Hippocrates. It is the answer of God himself to our prayers; not to mine alone, but to those of others who have a more intimate
[Footnote 1: Clar. Hist. iii. 647. Bulstrode, 205. Heath, 408.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. August 6.] [Sidenote b: A.D. 1658. August 17.] [Sidenote c: A.D. 1658. August 24.] [Sidenote d: A.D. 1658. August 25.]
interest in him than I have." The same communication was made to Thurloe, and to the different members of the protector's family; nor did it fail to obtain credit among men who believed that "in other instances he had been favoured with similar assurances, and that they had never deceived him." Hence his chaplain Goodwin exclaimed, "O Lord, we pray not for his recovery; that thou hast granted already; what we now beg is his speedy recovery."
In a few days, however, their confidence was shaken. For change of air he had removed to Whitehall, till the palace of St. James's should be ready for his reception. There his fever became[a] a double tertian, and his strength rapidly wasted away. Who, it was asked, was to succeed him? On the day of his inauguration he had written the name of his successor within a cover sealed with the protectorial arms; but that paper had been lost, or purloined, or destroyed. Thurloe undertook to suggest to him a second nomination; but the condition of the protector, who, if we believe him, was always insensible or delirious, afforded no opportunity. A suspicion, however, existed, that he had private reasons for declining to interfere in so delicate a business.
The 30th of August was a tempestuous day: during the night the violence of the wind increased till it blew a hurricane. Trees were torn from their roots in the park, and houses unroofed in the city. This extraordinary occurrence at a moment when it was thought that the protector was dying, could not fail
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vii. 321, 340, 354, 355. Bates, Elench. 413.]
[Footnote 2: Thurloe, vii. 355, 367, 376.]
[Footnote 3: Ludlow, ii. 151.]
[Footnote 4: Thurloe, 355, 365, 366.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658 August 28.]
of exciting remarks in a superstitious age; and, though the storm reached to the coasts of the Mediterranean, in England it was universally referred to the death-bed of the protector. His friends asserted that God would not remove so great a man from this world without previously warning the nation of its approaching loss; the Cavaliers more maliciously maintained that the devils, "the princes of the air," were congregating over Whitehall, that they might pounce on the protector's soul.
On the third night afterwards,[a] Cromwell had a lucid interval of considerable duration. It might have been expected that a man of his religious disposition would have felt some compunctious visitings, when from the bed of death he looked back on the strange eventful career of his past life. But he had adopted a doctrine admirably calculated to lull and tranquillize the misgivings of conscience. "Tell me," said he to Sterry, one of his chaplains, "Is it possible to fall from grace?" "It is not possible," replied the minister. "Then," exclaimed the dying man, "I am safe; for I know that I was once in grace." Under this impression he prayed, not for himself, but for God's people. "Lord," he said, "though a miserable and wretched creature, I am in covenant with thee through thy grace, and may and will come to thee for thy people. Thou hast made me a mean instrument to do them some good, and thee service. Many of them set too high a value upon me, though others would be glad of my death. Lord, however thou disposest of me, continue, and go on to do good for them. Teach those who look too much upon thy instruments, to depend more upon thyself,
[Footnote 1: Clar. 646. Bulstrode, 207. Heath, 408. Noble, i. 147, note.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Sept. 2.]
and pardon such as desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm, for they are thy people too."
Early in the following morning,[a] he relapsed into a state of insensibility. It was his fortunate day, the 3rd of September, a circumstance from which his sorrowing relatives derived a new source of consolation. It was, they observed, on the 3rd of September that he overcame the Scots at Dunbar; on that day, he also overcame the royalists at Worcester; and on the same day, he was destined to overcome his spiritual enemies, and to receive the crown of victory in heaven. About four in the afternoon he breathed his last, amidst the tears and lamentations of his attendants. "Cease to weep," exclaimed the fanatical Sterry, "you have more reason to rejoice. He was your protector here; he will prove a still more powerful protector, now that he is with Christ at the right hand of the Father." With a similar confidence in Cromwell's sanctity, though in a somewhat lower tone of enthusiasm, the grave and cautious Thurloe announced the event by letter to the deputy of Ireland. "He is gone to heaven, embalmed with the tears of his people, and upon the wings of the prayers of the saints."
Till the commencement of the present century, when that wonderful man arose, who, by the splendour of his victories and the extent of his empire, cast all preceding adventurers into the shade, the name of Cromwell stood without a parallel in the history of civilized Europe. Men looked with a feeling of awe on the
[Footnote 1: Collection of Passages concerning his late Highness in Time of his Sickness, p. 12. The author was Underwood, groom of the bed-chamber. See also a letter of H. Cromwell, Thurloe, vii. 454; Ludlow, ii. 153.]
[Footnote 2: Ludlow, ii. 153. Thurloe, vii. 373.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Sept. 3.]
fortunate individual who, without the aid of birth, or wealth, or connections, was able to seize the government of three powerful kingdoms, and to impose the yoke of servitude on the necks of the very men who had fought in his company to emancipate themselves from the less arbitrary sway of their hereditary sovereign. That he who accomplished this was no ordinary personage, all must admit; and yet, on close investigation, we shall discover little that was sublime or dazzling in his character. Cromwell was not the meteor which surprises and astounds by the rapidity and brilliancy of its course. Cool, cautious, calculating, he stole on with slow and measured pace; and, while with secret pleasure he toiled up the ascent to greatness, laboured to persuade the spectators that he was reluctantly borne forward by an exterior and resistless force, by the march of events, the necessities of the state, the will of the army, and even the decree of the Almighty. He seems to have looked upon dissimulation as the perfection of human wisdom, and to have made it the key-stone of the arch on which he built his fortunes. The aspirations of his ambition were concealed under the pretence of attachment to "the good old cause;" and his secret workings to acquire the sovereignty for himself and his family were represented as endeavours to secure for his former brethren in arms the blessings of civil and religious freedom, the two great objects which originally called them into the field. Thus his whole conduct was made up of artifice and deceit. He laid his plans long beforehand; he studied the views and dispositions of all from whose influence he had any thing to hope or fear; and he
[Footnote 1: See proofs of his dissimulation in Harris, iii. 93-103; Hutchinson, 313.]
employed every expedient to win their affections, to make them the blind unconscious tools of his policy. For this purpose he asked questions, or threw out insinuations in their hearing; now kept them aloof with an air of reserve and dignity; now put them off their guard by condescension, perhaps by buffoonery; at one time, addressed himself to their vanity or avarice; at another, exposed to them with tears (for tears he had at will), the calamities of the nation; and then, when he found them moulded to his purpose, instead of assenting to the advice which he had himself suggested, feigned reluctance, urged objections, and pleaded scruples of conscience. At length he yielded; but it was not till he had acquired by his resistance the praise of moderation, and the right of attributing his acquiescence to the importunity of others instead of his own ambition.
Exposed as he was to the continued machinations of the royalists and Levellers, both equally eager to precipitate him from the height to which he had attained, Cromwell made it his great object to secure to himself the attachment of the army. To it he owed the acquisition, through it alone could he insure the permanence, of his power. Now, fortunately for this purpose, that army, composed as never was army before or since, revered in the lord-protector what it valued mostly in itself, the cant and practice of religious enthusiasm. The superior officers, the subalterns, the privates, all held themselves forth as professors of godliness. Among them every public breach of morality was severely punished; the exercises of religious worship
[Footnote 1: See instances in Bates, Elenc. 344; Cowley, 95; Ludlow, i. 207; Whitelock, 656; State Trials, v. 1131, 1199.]
[Footnote 2: See Ludlow, i. 272; ii. 13, 14, 17.]
were of as frequent recurrence as those of military duty; in council, the officers always opened the proceedings with extemporary prayer; and to implore with due solemnity the protection of the Lord of Hosts, was held an indispensable part of the preparation for battle. Their cause they considered the cause of God; if they fought, it was for his glory; if they conquered, it was by the might of his arm. Among these enthusiasts, Cromwell, as he held the first place in rank, was also pre-eminent in spiritual gifts. The fervour with which he prayed, the unction with which he preached, excited their admiration and tears. They looked on him as the favourite of God, under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit, and honoured with communications from heaven; and he, on his part, was careful, by the piety of his language, by the strict decorum of his court, and by his zeal for the diffusion of godliness, to preserve and strengthen such impressions. In minds thus disposed, it was not difficult to create a persuasion that the final triumph of "their cause" depended on the authority of the general under whom they had conquered; while the full enjoyment of that religious freedom which they so highly prized rendered them less jealous of the arbitrary power which he occasionally
[Footnote 1: "The discipline of the army was such that a man would not be suffered to remain there, of whom we could take notice he was guilty of such practices."—Cromwell's speech to parliament in 1654. It surprised strangers.—Certa singulis diebus tum fundendis Deo precibus, tum audiendis Dei praeconiis erant assignata tempora.—Parallelum Olivae apud Harris, iii. 12. E certo ad ogni modo, che le Truppe vivono con tanta esatezza, come se fossero fraterie de' religiosi.—Sagredo, MS.]
[Footnote 2: Religioso al estremo nell' esteriore, predica con eloquenza ai soldati, li persuade a vivere secondo le legge d' Iddio, e per render piu efficace la persuasione, si serve ben spesso delle lagrime, piangendo piu li peccati altrui, che li proprii.—Ibid. See also Ludlow, iii. 111.]
assumed. In his public speeches, he perpetually reminded them that, if religion was not the original cause of the late civil war, yet, God "soon brought it to that issue;" that amidst the strife of battle, and the difficulties and dangers of war, the reward to which they looked was freedom of conscience; that this freedom to its full extent they enjoyed under his government, though they could never obtain it till they had placed the supreme authority in his hands. The merit which he thus arrogated to himself was admitted to be his due by the great body of the saints; it became the spell by which he rendered them blind to his ambition and obedient to his will; the engine with which he raised, and afterwards secured, the fabric of his greatness.
On the subject of civil freedom, the protector could not assume so bold a tone. He acknowledged, indeed, its importance; it was second only to religious freedom; but if second, then, in the event of competition, it ought to yield to the first. He contended that, under his government, every provision had been made for the preservation of the rights of individuals, so far as was consistent with the safety of the whole nation. He had reformed the Chancery, he had laboured to abolish the abuses of the law, he had placed learned and upright judges on the bench, and he had been careful in all ordinary cases that impartial justice should be administered between the parties. This indeed was true; but it was also true that by his orders men were arrested and committed without lawful cause; that juries were packed; that prisoners, acquitted at their trial, were sent into confinement beyond the
[Footnote 1: See in particular his speech to his second parliament, printed by Henry Hills, 1654.]
jurisdiction of the courts; that taxes had been raised without the authority of parliament; that a most unconstitutional tribunal, the high court of justice, had been established; and that the majors-general had been invested with powers the most arbitrary and oppressive. These acts of despotism put him on his defence; and in apology he pleaded, as every despot will plead, reasons of state, the necessity of sacrificing a part to preserve the whole, and his conviction, that a "people blessed by God, the regenerated ones of several judgments forming the flock and lambs of Christ, would prefer their safety to their passions, and their real security to forms." Nor was this reasoning addressed in vain to men who had surrendered their judgments into his keeping, and who felt little for the wrongs of others, as long as such wrongs were represented necessary for their own welfare.
Some writers have maintained that Cromwell dissembled in religion as well as in politics; and that, when he condescended to act the part of the saint, he assumed for interested purposes a character which he otherwise despised. But this supposition is contradicted by the uniform tenor of his life. Long before he turned his attention to the disputes between the king and the parliament, religious enthusiasm had made a deep impression on his mind; it continually manifested itself during his long career, both in the senate and the field; and it was strikingly displayed in his speeches and prayers on the last evening of his
[Footnote 1: "Judge Rolles," says Challoner, "was shuffled out of his place. Three worthy lawyers were sent to the Tower. It cost them fifty pounds a-piece for pleading a client's cause. One Portman was imprisoned two or three years without cause. Several persons were taken out of their beds, and carried none knows whither."—Burton's Diary, iv. 47.
[Footnote 2: Warwick, 249.]
life. It should, however, be observed, that he made his religion harmonize with his ambition. If he believed that the cause in which he had embarked was the cause of God, he also believed that God had chosen him to be the successful champion of that cause. Thus the honour of God was identified with his own advancement, and the arts, which his policy suggested, were sanctified in his eyes by the ulterior object at which he aimed—the diffusion of godliness, and the establishment of the reign of Christ among mankind.
[Footnote 1: The Venetian ambassador observes that during the protectorate London wore the appearance of a garrison town, where nothing was to be seen but the marching of soldiers, nothing to be heard but the sound of drums and trumpets. Il decoro et grandezza di Londra ha molto cangiato di faccia, la nobilta, che la rendeva conspicua, sta divisa per la campagna, et la delecatezza della corte la piu sontuosa et la piu allegre del mondo, frequentata da principali dame, et abundante nelli piu scelti trattenementi, e cangiata al presente in una perpetua marchia et contramarchia, in un incessante strepito di tamburri, e di trembe, et in stuoio numerosi di soldati et officiali diversi ai posti.—Sagredo. See also an intercepted letter in Thurloe, ii. 670.]
Richard Cromwell Protector—Parliament Called—Dissolved—Military Government—Long Parliament Restored—Expelled Again—Reinstated—Monk In London—Re-Admission Of Secluded Members—Long Parliament Dissolved—The Convention Parliament—Restoration Of Charles II.
By his wife, Elizabeth Bourchier, Cromwell left two sons, Richard and Henry. There was a remarkable contrast in the opening career of these young men. During the civil war, Richard lived in the Temple, frequented the company of the Cavaliers, and spent his time in gaiety and debauchery. Henry repaired to his father's quarters, and so rapid was his promotion, that at the age of twenty he held the commission of captain in the regiment of guards belonging to Fairfax, the lord-general. After the establishment of the commonwealth, Richard married, and, retiring to the house of his father-in-law, at Hursley in Hampshire, devoted himself to the usual pursuits of a country gentleman. Henry accompanied his father in the reduction of Ireland, which country he afterwards governed, first with the rank of major-general, afterwards with that of lord-deputy. It was not till the second year of the protectorate that Cromwell seemed to recollect that he had an elder son. He made him a lord of trade, then chancellor of the university of Oxford, and lastly a member of the new house of peers. As these honours were far inferior to those which he lavished on other persons connected with his family, it was inferred that he entertained a mean opinion of Richard's abilities. A more probable conclusion is, that he feared to alarm the jealousy of his officers, and carefully abstained from doing that which might confirm the general suspicion, that he designed to make the protectorship hereditary in his family.
The moment he expired, the council assembled, and the result of their deliberation was an order to proclaim Richard Cromwell protector, on the ground that he had been declared by his late highness his successor in that dignity. Not a murmur of opposition was heard; the ceremony was performed in all places after the usual manner of announcing the accession of a new sovereign; and addresses of condolence and congratulation poured in from the army and
[Footnote 1: "The Lord knows my desire was for Harry and his brother to have lived private lives in the country, and Harry knows this very well; and how difficultly I was persuaded to give him his commission for Ireland."—Letter to Fleetwood, 22nd June, 1655.]
[Footnote 2: There appears good reason to doubt this assertion. Thurloe indeed (vii. 372) informs Henry Cromwell that his father named Richard to succeed on the preceding Monday. But his letter was written after the proclamation of Richard, and its contents are irreconcilable with the letters written before it. We have one from Lord Falconberg, dated on Monday, saying that no nomination had been made, and that Thurloe had promised to suggest it, but probably would not perform his promise (ibid. 365); and another from Thurloe himself to Henry Cromwell, stating the same thing as to the nomination.—Ibid. 364. It may perhaps be said that Richard was named on the Monday after the letters were written; but there is a second letter from Thurloe, dated on the Tuesday, stating that the protector was still incapable of public business, and that matters would, he feared, remain till the death of his highness in the same state as he described them in his letter of Monday.—Ibid. 366. It was afterwards said that the nomination took place on the night before the protector's death, in the presence of four of the council (Falconberg in Thurloe, 375, and Barwick, ibid. 415); but the latter adds that many doubt whether it ever took place at all.]
navy, from one hundred congregational churches, and from the boroughs, cities, and counties. It seemed as if free-born Britons had been converted into a nation of slaves. These compositions were drawn up in the highest strain of adulation, adorned with forced allusions from Scripture, and with all the extravagance of Oriental hyperbole. "Their sun was set, but no night had followed. They had lost the nursing father, by whose hand the yoke of bondage had been broken from the necks and consciences of the godly. Providence by one sad stroke had taken away the breath from their nostrils, and smitten the head from their shoulders; but had given them in return the noblest branch of that renowned stock, a prince distinguished by the lovely composition of his person, but still more by the eminent qualities of his mind. The late protector had been a Moses to lead God's people out of the land of Egypt; his son would be a Joshua to conduct them into a more full possession of truth and righteousness. Elijah had been taken into heaven: Elisha remained on earth, the inheritor of his mantle and his spirit!"
The royalists, who had persuaded themselves that the whole fabric of the protectorial power would fall in pieces on the death of Cromwell, beheld with amazement the general acquiescence in the succession, of Richard; and the foreign princes, who had deemed it prudent to solicit the friendship of the father, now
[Footnote 1: The Scottish ministers in Edinburgh, instead of joining in these addresses, prayed on the following Sunday, "that the Lord would be merciful to the exiled, and those that were in captivity, and cause them to return with sheaves of joy; that he would deliver all his people from the yoke of Pharaoh, and task-masters of Egypt, and that he would cut off their oppressors, and hasten the time of their deliverance."—Thurloe, vii. 416.]
hastened to offer their congratulations to his son. Yet, fair and tranquil as the prospect appeared, an experienced eye might easily detect the elements of an approaching storm. Meetings were clandestinely held by the officers;[a] doubts were whispered of the nomination of Richard by his father; and an opinion was encouraged among the military that, as the commonwealth was the work of the army, so the chief office in the commonwealth belonged to the commander of the army. On this account the protectorship had been bestowed on Cromwell; but his son was one who had never drawn his sword in the cause; and to suffer the supreme power to devolve on him was to disgrace, to disinherit, the men who had suffered so severely, and bled so profusely, in the contest.
These complaints had probably been suggested, they were certainly fomented, by Fleetwood and his friends, the colonels Cooper, Berry, and Sydenham. Fleetwood was brave in the field, but irresolute in council; eager for the acquisition of power, but continually checked by scruples of conscience; attached by principle to republicanism, but ready to acquiesce in every change, under the pretence of submission to the decrees of Providence. Cromwell, who knew the man, had raised him to the second command in the army, and fed his ambition with distant and delusive hopes of succeeding to the supreme magistracy. The protector died, and Fleetwood, instead of acting, hesitated, prayed, and consulted; the propitious moment was suffered to pass by; he assented to the opinion of the council in favour of Richard; and then, repenting of his weakness, sought to indemnify himself for the loss by confining the
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Sept. 14.]
authority of the protector to the civil administration, and procuring for himself the sole, uncontrolled command of the army. Under the late government, the meetings of military officers had been discountenanced and forbidden; now they were encouraged to meet and consult; and, in a body of more than two hundred individuals, they presented to Richard a petition, by which they demanded that no officer should be deprived, but by sentence of a court-martial, and that the chief command of the forces, and the disposal of commissions, should be conferred on some person whose past services had proved his attachment to the cause. There were not wanting those who advised the protector to extinguish the hopes of the factious at once by arresting and imprisoning the chiefs; but more moderate counsels prevailed, and in a firm but conciliatory speech,[a] the composition of Secretary Thurloe, he replied that, to gratify their wishes, he had appointed his relative, Fleetwood, lieutenant-general of all the forces; but that to divest himself of the chief command, and of the right of giving or resuming commissions, would be to act in defiance of the "petition and advice," the instrument by which he held the supreme authority. For a short time they appeared satisfied; but the chief officers continued to hold meetings in the chapel at St. James's, ostensibly for the purpose of prayer, but in reality for the convenience of deliberation. Fresh jealousies were excited; it was said that another commander (Henry Cromwell was meant) would be placed above Fleetwood; Thurloe, Pierrepoint, and St. John were denounced as evil counsellors; and it became evident to all attentive observers that the two parties must soon come into collision. The protector could depend on the armies
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Oct. 14.]
in Ireland and Scotland. In Ireland, his brother Henry governed without an opponent; in Scotland, Monk, by his judicious separation of the troops, and his vigilance in the enforcement of discipline, had deprived the discontented of the means of holding meetings and of corresponding with each other. In England he was assured of the services of eight colonels, and therefore, as it was erroneously supposed, of their respective regiments, forming one half of the regular force. But his opponents were masters of the other half, constituted the majority in the council, and daily augmented their numbers by the accession of men who secretly leaned to republican principles, or sought to make an interest in that party which they considered the more likely to prevail in the approaching struggle.
From the notice of these intrigues the public attention was withdrawn by the obsequies of the late protector. It was resolved that they should exceed in magnificence those of any former sovereign, and with that view they were conducted according to the ceremonial observed at the interment of Philip II. of Spain. Somerset House was selected for the first part of the exhibition. The spectators, having passed through three rooms hung with black cloth, were admitted[a] into the funereal chamber; where, surrounded with wax-lights, was seen an effigy of Cromwell clothed in royal robes, and lying on a bed of state,
[Footnote 1: For these particulars, see the letters in Thurloe, vii. 386, 406, 413, 415, 424, 426, 427, 428, 447. 450, 452, 453, 454, 463, 490, 491, 492, 493, 495, 496, 497, 498, 500, 510, 511. So great was the jealousy between the parties, that Richard and his brother Henry dared not correspond by letter. "I doubt not all the letters will be opened, which come either to or from your highness, which can be suspected to contain business" (454). For the principle now professed by the Levellers, see note (I).]
[Sidenote b: A.D. 1658. Sept. 26.]
which covered, or was supposed to cover, the coffin. On each side lay different parts of his armour: in one hand was placed the sceptre, in the other the globe; and behind the head an imperial crown rested on a cushion in a chair of state. But, in defiance of every precaution it became necessary to inter the body before the appointed day; and the coffin was secretly deposited at night in a vault at the west end of the middle aisle of Westminster Abbey, under a gorgeous cenotaph which had recently been erected. The effigy was now removed to a more spacious chamber; it rose from a recumbent to an erect posture; and stood before the spectators not only with the emblems of royalty in its hands, but with the crown upon its head. For eight weeks this pageant was exhibited to the public. As the day appointed for the funeral obsequies approached, rumours of an intended insurrection during the ceremony were circulated; but guards from the most trusty regiments lined the streets; the procession consisting of the principal persons in the city and army, the officers of state, the foreign ambassadors, and the members of the protector's family, passed[a] along without interruption; and the effigy, which in lieu of the corpse was borne on a car, was placed, with due solemnity, in the cenotaph already mentioned. Thus did fortune sport with the ambitious prospects of Cromwell. The honours of royalty which she refused to him during his life, she lavished on his remains after death; and then, in the course of a few months, resuming her gifts, exchanged the crown for a halter, and the royal monument in the abbey for an ignominious grave at Tyburn.
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vi. 528, 529. Carrington apud Noble, i. 360-369. The charge for black cloth alone on this occasion was six thousand nine hundred and twenty-nine pounds, six shillings, and fivepence,—Biblioth. Stow. ii. 448. I do not notice the childish stories about stealing of the protector's body.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Nov. 23.]
Before the reader proceeds to the more important transactions at home, he may take a rapid view of the relations existing between England and foreign states. The war which had so long raged between the rival crowns of France and Spain was hastening to its termination; to Louis the aid of England appeared no longer a matter of consequence; and the auxiliary treaty between the two countries, which had been renewed from year to year, was suffered to expire at the appointed[a] time. But in the north of Europe there was much to claim the attention of the new protector; for the king of Sweden, after a short peace, had again unsheathed the sword against his enemy, the king of Denmark. The commercial interests of the maritime states were deeply involved in the issue of this contest; both England and Holland prepared to aid their respective allies; and a Dutch squadron joined the Danish, while an English division, under the command of Ayscue, sailed to the assistance of the Swedish monarch. The severity of the winter forced Ayscue to return; but as soon as the navigation of the Sound was open, two powerful fleets were despatched to the Baltic, one by the protector, the other by the States; and to Montague, the English admiral, was intrusted the delicate and difficult commission, not only of watching the proceedings of the Dutch, but also of compelling them to observe peace towards the Swedes, without giving them occasion to commence hostilities against himself. In this he was successful; but no offer of mediation could reconcile the contending
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. August.]
monarchs; and we shall find Montague still cruising in the Baltic at the time when Richard, from whom he derived his commission, will be forced to abdicate the protectorial dignity.
In a few days after the funeral of his father, to the surprise of the public, the protector summoned[a] a parliament. How, it was asked, could Richard hope to control such an assembly, when the genius and authority of Oliver had proved unequal to the attempt? The difficulty was acknowledged; but the arrears of the army, the exhaustion of the treasury, and the necessity of seeking support against the designs of the officers, compelled him to hazard the experiment, and he flattered himself with the hope of success, by avoiding the rock on which, in the opinion of his advisers, the policy of his father had split. Oliver had adopted the plan of representation prepared by the long parliament before its dissolution, a plan which, by disfranchising the lesser boroughs, and multiplying the members of the counties, had rendered the elections more independent of the government: Richard, under the pretence of a boon to the nation, reverted to the ancient system; and, if we may credit the calculation of his opponents, no fewer than one hundred and sixty members were returned from the boroughs by the interest of the court and its supporters. But to adopt the same plan in the conquered countries of Scotland and Ireland would have been dangerous; thirty representatives were therefore summoned from each; and, as the elections were conducted under the eyes of the
[Footnote 1: Burton's Diary, iii. 576. Thurloe, vol. vii. passim. Carte's Letters, ii. 157-182, Londorp, viii. 635, 708. Dumont, vi. 244, 252, 260.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1658. Nov. 30.]
commanders of the forces, the members, with one solitary exception, proved themselves the obsequious servants of government.
It was, however, taken as no favourable omen, that when the protector, at the opening of parliament, commanded the attendance of the Commons in the House of Lords, nearly one-half of the members refused[a] to obey. They were unwilling to sanction by their presence the existence of an authority, the legality of which they intended to dispute; or to admit the superior rank of the new peers, the representatives of the protector, over themselves, the representatives of the people. As soon as the lower house was constituted, it divided itself into three distinct parties. 1. The protectorists formed about one-half of the members. They had received instructions to adhere inviolably to the provisions of the "humble petition and advice," and to consider the government by a single person, with the aid of two houses, as the unalterable basis of the constitution. 2. The republicans, who did not amount to fifty, but compensated for deficiency in number by their energy and eloquence. Vane, Hazlerig, Lambert, Ludlow, Nevil, Bradshaw, and Scot, were ready debaters, skilled in the forms of the house, and always on the watch to take advantage of the want of knowledge or of experience on the part of their adversaries. With them voted Fairfax, who, after a long retirement, appeared once more on the stage. He constantly sat by the side, and echoed the opinions of Hazlerig; and, so artfully did he act his part, so firmly did he attach their confidence, that, though a royalist at heart, he was designed by them
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, vii. 541, 550. Ludlow, ii. 170. Bethel, Brief Narrative, 340. England's Confusion (p. 4), London, 1659.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1659. Jan. 27]
for the office of lord-general, in the event of the expulsion or the abdication of Richard. 3. The "moderates or neuters" held in number the medium between the protectorists and republicans. Of these, some wavered between the two parties; but many were concealed Cavaliers, who, in obedience to the command of Charles, had obtained seats in the house, or young men who, without any fixed political principles, suffered themselves to be guided by the suggestions of the Cavaliers. To the latter, Hyde had sent instructions that they should embarrass the plans of the protector, by denouncing to the house the illegal acts committed under the late administration; by impeaching Thurloe and the principal officers of state; by fomenting the dissension between the courtiers and the republicans; and by throwing their weight into the scale, sometimes in favour of one, sometimes of the other party, as might appear most conducive to the interests of the royal exile.
The Lords, aware of the insecure footing on which they stood, were careful not to provoke the hostility of the Commons. They sent no messages; they passed no bills; but exchanging matters of state for questions of religion, contrived to spend their time in discussing the form of a national catechism, the sinfulness of theatrical entertainments, and the papal corruptions supposed to exist in the Book of Common
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, i. 766; vii. 562, 604, 605, 609, 615, 616. Clarend. Pap. iii. 423, 424, 425, 428, 432, 434, 436. There were forty-seven republicans; from one hundred to one hundred and forty counterfeit republicans and neuters, seventy-two lawyers, and above one hundred placemen.—Ibid. 440. They began with a day of fasting and humiliation within the house, and four ministers, with praying and preaching, occupied them from nine till six.—Burton's Diary and Journals, Feb. 4.]
Prayer. In the lower house, the first subject which called forth the strength of the different parties was a bill which, under the pretence of recognizing Richard Cromwell for the rightful successor to his father, would have pledged the parliament to an acquiescence in the existing form of government.[a] The men of republican principles instantly took the alarm. To Richard personally they made no objection; they respected his private character, and wished well to the prosperity of his family; but where, they asked, was the proof that the provisions of the "humble petition and advice" had been observed? where the deed of nomination by his father? where the witnesses to the signature?—Then what was the "humble petition and advice" itself? An instrument of no force in a matter of such high concernment, and passed by a very small majority in a house, out of which one hundred members lawfully chosen, had been unlawfully excluded. Lastly, what right had the Commons to admit a negative voice, either in another house or in a single person? Such a voice was destructive of the sovereignty of the people exercised by their representatives. The people had sent them to parliament with power to make laws for the national welfare, but not to annihilate the first and most valuable right of their constituents. Each day the debate grew more animated and personal; charges were made and recriminations followed: the republicans enumerated the acts of misrule and oppression under the government of the late protector; the courtiers balanced the account with similar instances from the proceedings of their adversaries during the sway of the long parliament; the orators, amidst the
[Footnote 1: Thurloe, 559, 609, 615.]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1659. Feb. 1.]
multitude of subjects incidentally introduced, lost sight of the original question; and the speaker, after a debate of eight days, declared that he was bewildered in a labyrinth of confusion, out of which he could discover no issue. Weariness at last induced the combatants to listen to a compromise,[a] that the recognition of Richard as protector should form part of a future bill, but that at the same time, his prerogative should be so limited as to secure the liberties of the people. Each party expressed its satisfaction. The republicans had still the field open for the advocacy of their favourite doctrines; the protectorists had advanced a step, and trusted that it would lead them to the acquisition of greater advantages.
From the office of protector, the members proceeded to inquire into the constitution and powers of the other house; and this question, as it was intimately connected with the former, was debated with equal warmth and pertinacity. The opposition appealed to the "engagement," which many of the members had subscribed; contended that the right of calling a second house had been personal to the late protector, and did not descend to his successors; urged the folly of yielding a negative voice on their proceedings to a body of counsellors of their own creation; and pretended to foretel that a protector with a yearly income of one million three hundred thousand pounds, and a house of lords selected by himself, must inevitably become, in the course of a few years, master of the liberties of the people. When, at the end of nine days, the speaker was going to put the question, Sir
[Footnote 1: Journals, Feb. 1, 14. Thurloe, 603, 609, 610, 615, 617. Clar. Pap. iii. 424, 426, 429. In Burton's Diary the debate occupies almost two hundred pages (iii. 87-287).]
[Sidenote a: A.D. 1659. Feb 14.]
Richard Temple, a concealed royalist, demanded that the sixty members from Scotland and Ireland, all in the interest of the court, should withdraw.[a] It was, he said, doubtful, from the illegality of their election, whether they had any right to sit at all; it was certain that, as the representatives of other nations, they could not claim to vote on a question of such high importance to the people of England. Thus another bone of contention was thrown between the parties; eleven days were consumed before the Scottish and Irish members could obtain permission to vote,[b] and then five more expired before the question respecting the other house was determined.[c] The new lords had little reason to be gratified with the result. They were acknowledged, indeed, as a house of parliament for the present; but there was no admission of their claim of the peerage, or of a negative voice, or of a right to sit in subsequent parliaments. The Commons consented "to transact business with them" (a new phrase of undefined meaning), pending the parliament, but with a saving of the rights of the ancient peers, who had been faithful to the cause; and, in addition, a few days later,[d] they resolved that, in the transaction of business, no superiority should be admitted in the other house, nor message received from it, unless brought by the members themselves.