Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing to think well of them, or to be beholding to them. Thus the treaty went on with a fatal slowness: and by the time it was come to some maturity, Cromwell came up with his army, and overturned all .

Upon this I will set down what sir Harbotle Cromwell's Grimstone told me a few weeks before his death: tion. whether it was done at this time, or the year before, I cannot tell: I rather believe the latter. When the house of commons and the army were a quarrelling, at a meeting of the officers it was proposed to purge the army better, that they might know whom to depend on. Cromwell upon that said, he was sure of the army; but there was another body that had more need of purging, naming the house of commons, and he thought the army only could do that. Two officers that were present brought an account of this to Grimstone, who carried them with him to the lobby of the house of commons, they being resolved to justify it to the house. There was another debate then on foot: but Grimstone diverted it, and said, he had a matter of privilege of the highest sort to lay before them: it was about the being and freedom of the house. So he charged Cromwell with the design of putting a force on the house: he had his witnesses at the door, and desired they might be examined: they were brought to the bar, and justified all that they had said to him, and gave a full relation of all that had passed at their meetings. When they withdrew, Cromwell fell down on his knees, and made a solemn prayer to God, attesting his innocence, and his zeal for the service of the house: he submitted himself to the providence of God, who it seems thought fit to ex

ercise him with calumny and slander, but he committed his cause to him: this he did with great vehemence, and with many tears. After this strange and bold preamble, he made so long a speech, justifying both himself and the rest of the officers, except a few that seemed inclined to return back to Egypt, that he wearied out the house, and wrought so much on his party, that what the witnesses had said was so little believed, that had it been moved, Grimstone 46 thought that both he and they would have been sent to the Tower. But whether their guilt made them modest, or that they had no mind to have the matter much talked of, they let it fall: and there was no strength in the other side to carry it farther. To complete the scene, as soon as ever Cromwell got out of the house, he resolved to trust himself no more among them; but went to the army, and in a few days he brought them up, and forced a great many from the house.

I had much discourse on this head with one who knew Cromwell well, and all that set of men; and asked him how they could excuse all the prevarications, and other ill things of which they were visibly guilty in the conduct of their affairs. He told me, they believed there were great occasions in which some men were called to great services, in the doing of which they were excused from the common rules of morality: such were the practices of Ehud and Jael, Samson and David: and by this they fancied they had a privilege from observing the standing rules. It is very obvious how far this principle may be carried, and how all justice and mercy may be laid aside on this pretence by every bold enthusiast. Ludlow, in his memoirs, justifies this force put on the parliament, as much as he condemns the force that Cromwell and the army afterwards put on the house: and he seems to lay this down for a maxim, that the military power ought always to be subject to the civil: and yet, without any sort of resentment for what he had done, he owns the share he had in the force put on the parliament at this time. The plain reconciling of this is, that he thought when the army judged the parliament was in the wrong, they might use violence, but not otherwise: which gives the army a superior authority, and an inspection into the proceedings of the parliament. This shews how impossible it is to set up a commonwealth in England: for that cannot be brought about but by a military force: and they will ever keep the parliament in subjection to them, and so keep up their own authority v.

I wil l leave al l that relates to the king's trial and death to common historians, knowing nothing that is particular of that great transaction, which was certainly one of the most amazing scenes in history 9. Ireton was the person that drove it on: for men

_ . a chiefly en

Cromwel l was al l the while in some suspense about gaged in it. Ireton had the principles and the temper of a the king's Cassius in him: he stuck at nothing that mightllfe' have turned England to a commonwealth: and he found out Cook and Bradshaw, two bold lawyers, as proper instruments for managing it. Fair

t Weak. S. in Cromwell and most of them

i And was most certainly a (with a mixture of enthusiasm)

murder, as his cause, at that for private ends, and security

time, was become the cause of to themselves; and has the jus

the nation, and the sense of it; tification only of an highway

and that of those who put him man, who kills, because he

to death, and were but few, was would not be killed. O.

fax was much distracted in his mind, and changed 47 purposes often every dayr. The presbyterians and the body of the city were much against it, and were every where fasting and praying for the king's preservation. There was not above 8000 of the army about the town: but these were selected out of the whole army, as the most engaged in enthusiasm: and they were kept at prayer in their way almost day and night, except when they were upon duty: so that they were wrought up to a pitch of fury, that struck a terror into all people. On the other hand, the king's party was without spirit: and, as many of themselves have said to me, they could never believe his death was really intended till it was too late. They thought all was a pageantry to strike a terror, and to force the king to such concessions as they had a mind to extort from him. Theking** The king himself shewed a calm and a composed firmness, which amazed all people: and that so much the more, because it was not natural to hims. It was imputed to a very extraordinary measure of supernatural assistance. Bishop Juxon did the duty of his function honestly, but with a dry coldness that could not raise the king's thoughts: so that it was owing wholly to somewhat within himself that he went through so many indignities with so much

r Fairfax had hardly common where I stood by him during

sense. S. his supper; and he told me all

5 Sir Philip Meadows told that had happened to him at me he was at Newmarket when Feversham with as much unthe army brought the king thi- concernedness as if they had ther, and observed that the been the adventures of some king's was the only cheerful other person, and directed a face in the place; which put great deal of his discourse to me in mind of the night king me, though I was but a boy. James returned to Whitehall, D.

true greatness, without disorder or any sort of affectation. Thus he died greater than he had lived; and shewed that which has been often observed of the whole race of the Stewards, that they bore misfortunes better than prosperity. His reign, both in peace and war, was a continual series of errors: so that it does not appear that he had a true judgment of things. He was out of measure set on following his humour, but unreasonably feeble to those whom he trusted, chiefly to the queen. He had too high a notion of the regal power, and thought that every opposition to it was rebellion. He minded Httle things too much, and was more concerned in the drawing of a paper than in fighting a battle. He had a firm aversion to popery, but was much inclined to a middle way between protestants and papists, by which he lost the one, without gaining the other. His engaging the duke of Rohan in the war of Rochelle, and then assisting him so poorly, and forsaking him at last, gave an ill character of him to all the protestants abroad. The earl of Lauderdale told me, the duke of Rohan was at Geneva, where he himself was, when he received a very long letter, or rather a little book, from my father, which gave him a copious account of the beginning of the troubles in Scotland: he translated it to the duke of Rohan, who expressed a vehement indignation at the court of England for their usage of him: of which this was the account he then gave.

The duke of Buckingham had a secret conversa- 48 tion with the queen of France, of which the queen-Jfhi, mother was very jealous, and possessed the king with such a sense of it, that he was ordered immediately to leave the court. Upon his return to

Vol. I. G

« PreviousContinue »