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atheistical became in the last years of his life an eminent penitent, as he was a man of great parts, with whom I had lived long in great confidence, on his deathbed sent me likewise an account of this matter, which he believed was done in Fontainebleau, before king Charles was sent to Colen. As for king James, it seems he was not reconciled at that time: for he told me, that being in a monastery in Flanders, a nun desired him to pray every day, that if he was not in the right way, God would bring him into it: and he said, the impression these words made on him never left him till he changed.
To return to Cromwell: while he was balancing in his mind what was fit for him to do, Gage, who had been a priest, came over from the West Indies, and gave him such an account of the feebleness, as well as of the wealth of the Spaniards in those parts, as made him conclude that it would be both a great Cromwell's and an easy conquest to seize on their dominions. fi"'west By this he reckoned he would be supplied with suchIndie*' a treasure, that his government would be established before he should need to have any recourse to a parliament for money. Spain would never admit of a peace with England between the tropics: so he was in a state of war with them as to those parts, even before he declared war in Europe. He upon that equipped a fleet with a force sufficient, as he hoped, to have seized Hispaniola and Cuba. And Gage had assured him, that success in that expedition would make all the rest fall into his hands. Stoupe, being on another occasion called to his closet, saw him one day very intent in looking on a map, and in measuring distances. Stoupe saw it was a map of the bay of Mexico, and observed who printed it.
75 So, there being no discourse upon that subject, Stoupe went next day to the printer to buy the map. The printer denied he had printed it. Stoupe affirmed he had seen it. Then, he said, it must be only in Cromwell's hand; for he only had some of the prints, and had given him a strict charge to sell none, till he had leave given him. So Stoupe perceived there was a design that way. And when the time of setting out the fleet came on, all were in a gaze whither it was to go: some fancied it was to rob the church of Loretto, which did occasion a fortification to be drawn round it: others talked of Rome itself; for Cromwell's preachers had this often in their mouths, that if it were not for the divisions at home, he would go and sack Babylon: others talked of Cadiz, though he had not yet broke with the Spaniards. The French could not penetrate into the secret. Cromwell had not finished his alliance with them: so he was not bound to give them an account of the expedition. All he said upon it was, that he sent out the fleet to guard the seas, and to restore England to its dominion on that element. Stoupe happened to say in a company, he believed the design was on the West Indies. The Spanish ambassador, hearing that, sent for him very privately, to ask him upon what ground he said it: and he offered to lay down 10,000/. if he could make any discovery of that. Stoupe owned to me he had a great mind to the money; and fancied he betrayed nothing, if he did discover the grounds of these conjectures, since nothing had been trusted to him: but he expected greater matters from Cromwell, and so kept the secret; and said only, that in a diversity of conjectures, that seemed to him more probable than any others. But the ambassador made no account of that; nor did he think it worth the writing to Don John, then at Bruxells, about it.
Stoupe writ it over as his conjecture to one about the prince of Conde, who at first hearing it was persuaded that must be the design, and went next day to suggest it to Don John: but Don John relied so much on the ambassador, that this made no impression. And indeed all the ministers whom he employed knew that they were not to disturb him with troublesome news: of which king Charles told a pleasant story. One whom Don John was sending to some court in Germany, coming to the king to ask his commands, he desired him only to write him news: the Spaniard asked him, whether he would have true or false news: and, when the king seemed amazed at the question, he added, if he writ him true news the king must be secret, for he knew he must write news to Don John that would be acceptable, true or false: when the ministers of that court shewed that they would be served in such a 76 manner, it is no wonder to see how their affairs have declined. This matter of the fleet continued a great secret. And some months after that, Stoupe being accidentally with Cromwell, one came from the fleet through Ireland with a letter. The bearer looked like one that brought no welcome news. And as soon as Cromwell had read the letter, he dismissed Stoupe, who went immediately to the earl of Leicester, then lord Lisle, and told him what he had seen. He being of Cromwell's council went to Whitehall, and came back, and told Stoupe of the descent made on Hispaniola, and of the misfortune
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that had happened. It was then late, and was the post night for Flanders. So Stoupe writ it as news to his correspondent, some days before the Spanish ambassador knew any thing of it. Don John was amazed at the news, and had never any regard for the ambassador after that; but had a great opinion of Stoupe, and ordered the ambassador to make him theirs at any rate. The ambassador sent for him, and asked him, now that it appeared he had guessed right, what were his grounds: and when he told what they were, the ambassador owned he had reason to conclude as he did upon what he saw. And upon that he made great use of Stoupe: but he himself was never esteemed after that so much as he had been. This deserved to be set down so particularly, since by it, it appears that the greatest design may be discovered by an undue carelessness. The court of France was amazed at the undertaking, and was glad that it had miscarried; for the cardinal said, if he had suspected it, he would have made peace with Spain on any terms, rather than to have given way to that which would have been such an addition to England, as must have brought all the wealth of the world into their hands. The fleet took Jamaica: but that was a small gain, though much magnified to cover the failing of the main design. The war after that broke out, in which Dunkirk was indeed taken, and put in Cromwell's hand: but the trade of England suffered more in that, than in any former war: so he lost the heart of the city of London by that means. His zeal Cromwell had two signal occasions given him to protestant shew his zeal in protecting the protestants abroad.
The duke of Savoy raised a new persecution of the Vaudois: so Cromwell sent to Mazarin, desiring him to put a stop to that; adding, that he knew well they had that duke in their power, and could restrain him as they pleased: and if they did not, he must presently break with them. Mazarin objected to this as unreasonable: he promised to do good offices: but he could not be obliged to answer for the effects they might have. This did not satisfy Cromwell: so they obliged the duke of Savoy to put a 77 stop to that unjust fury: and Cromwell raised a great sum for the Vaudois, and sent over Morland to settle all their concerns, and to supply all their losses. There was also a tumult in Nismes, in which some disorder had been committed by the Huguenots: and they, apprehending severe proceedings upon it, sent one over with great expedition to Cromwell, who sent him back to Paris in an hour's time with a very effectual letter to his ambassador, requiring him either to prevail that the matter might be passed over, or to come away immediately. Mazarin complained of this way of proceeding, as too imperious: but the necessity of their affairs made him yield. These things raised Cromwell's character abroad, and made him be much depended on.
His ambassador in France at this time was Lockhart, a Scotchman, who had married his niece, and was in high favour with him, as he well deserved to be. He was both a wise and a gallant man, calm and virtuous, and one that carried the generosities of friendship very far. He was made governor of Dunkirk and ambassador at the same time. But he told me, that when he was sent afterwards ambassador by king Charles, he found he had nothing