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where the Protector had gone in his coach with pages, lackeys, lifeguards, in full state. Henry Cromwell and Lambert sat with him bare-headed in the coach, perhaps in their different ways the two most capable of all the men about him. After the sermon they crossed over from the Abbey to the Painted Chamber, and there Oliver addressed them in one of his strange speeches,—not coherent, not smooth, not always even intelligible, but with a strain of high-hearted fervour in them that pierces through rugged and uncouth forms; with the note of a strong man having great things to say, and wrestling with their very greatness in saying them; often rambling, discursive, and overloaded; sometimes little better than rigmarole, even though the rigmarole be lighted now and again with the flash of a noble thought or penetrating phrase; marked by curious admixture of the tone of the statesman's council-chamber with the tone of the ranter's chapel; still impressive by their labouring sincerity, by the weight of their topics, and by that which is the true force of all oratory worth talking about, the momentum of the speaker's history, personality, and purpose.
The Protector opened on a high and characteristic note, by declaring his belief that they represented not only the interests of three great nations, but the interest of all the Christian world. This was no rhetorician's phrase, but a vivid and unchanging ideal in his mind after he had gained a position lofty enough to open to his gaze the prospect beyond the English shores. Here hyperbole ended, and the speech became a protest against the levelling delusions of the saints and the extremists; a vindication of the policy of the government in making peace abroad, and saving treasure and settling religion at home; and an exhortation to a holy and gracious understanding of one another and of their business. The deeply marked difference in Chap, n QUARREL AND PROSCRIPTION 345 that the Protector desired them to meet him in the Painted Chamber. Here Oliver addressed them in language of striking force, winding up with an act of power after the model of Pride's Purge and all the other arbitrary exclusions. His key-note was patient and argumentative remonstrance, but he did not mince his meaning and he took high ground. He reminded them that it was he who by the Instrument was laying down power, not assuming it. The authority he had in his hand, he told them, was boundless. It was only of his own will that on this arbitrary power he accepted limits. His acceptance was approved by a vast body of public opinion: first by the soldiers, who were a very considerable part of these nations, when there was nothing to keep things in order but the sword; second by the capital city of London, and by Yorkshire, the greatest county in England; third by the judges of the land; and last of all by the parliament itself. For had not the members been chosen on a written indenture, with the proviso that they should not have power to alter the government by a single person and a parliament? Some things in the Instrument, he said, were fundamental, others were only circumstantial. The circumstantials they might try to amend as they might think best. But the four fundamentals—government by a single person and a parliament, liberty of conscience as a natural right, the nonperpetuation of parliament, the divided or balanced control of the military forces—these were things not to be parted with and not to be touched. "The wilful throwing away of this government, such as it is, so owned by God, so approved by men, were a thing which, and in reference not to my good, but to the good of these nations and of posterity, I can sooner be willing to be rolled into my grave and buried with infamy, than I can give my consent unto." military forces, the parliament was as much bent upon extending its association in authority with the Protector, as the Protector had in old days been bent upon the same thing in respect of King Charles. The Instrument set the army at thirty thousand, but it was now nearly twice as many. Parliament here called for a reduction to the legal figure, and laid down general principles for the future. During his life parliament was to have a voice in fixing the numbers of the armed force; after his death, it was to decide the disposal of it; and the sum fixed for it was to be reconsidered by parliament five years later. In all this there was nothing unreasonable, if parliament was in reality to be a living organ. Such was the work of revision. It was now that Oliver realised that perhaps he might as well have tried to live with the Rump. We have already seen the words in which he almost said as much. The strange irony of events had brought him within sight of the doctrines of Strafford and of Charles, and showed him to have as little grasp of parliamentary rule and as little love of it as either of them. He was determined not to accept the revised constitution. "Though some may think that it is an hard thing," he said, "to raise money without parliamentary authority upon this nation, yet I have another argument to the good people of this nation, whether they prefer having their will, though it be their destruction, rather than comply with things of Necessity." Then, as to the armed forces, though for the present that the Protector should have in his power the militia seems the hardest thing, "yet, if the power of the militia should be yielded up at such a time as this, when there is as much need of it to keep this cause, as there was to get it for the sake of this cause,what would become of us all?" If he were to yield up at any time the power of the
tone from the language in which he had opened the Little Parliament indicates the growing reaction in the Protector's own mind, and the rapidity with which he was realising the loud call for conservative and governing quality in face of the revolutionary wreckage.
The spectres of old dispute at once rose up. Those who could recall the quarrel between king and parliament found that after all nothing was settled, hardly even so much as that the government of the three kingdoms should be a parliamentary government. The mutual suspicions of parliament and army were as much alive as ever. The members no sooner returned to their own chamber, than they began instantly to consider the constitution under which they existed. In other words, they took themselves seriously. No parliament supposing itself clothed with popular authority could have been expected to accept without criticism a ready-made scheme of government fastened on it by a military junto. If the scheme was to be parliamentary, nothing could be more certain than that parliament itself must make it so. A protector by right of the army was as little tolerable to the new parliament, as a king by divine right had been to the old. They sat there by the authority of the good people of England, and how could it be contended that this authority did not include the right of judging the system on which the good people of England were henceforth to be governed?
That was the very ground on which Oliver had quarrelled with the Rump. He now dealt with the first parliament of the Protectorate as decisively, if not quite so passionately, as with the parliament of the Commonwealth. After constitutional discussion had gone on for less than a fortnight, members one morning found Westminster Hall and its approaches full of soldiers, the door of the House locked in their faces, and only the gruff explanation
Chap, n CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION
Then the stroke fell. As they had slighted the authority that called them, he told them that he had caused a stop to be put to their entrance into the parliament House, until they had signed a promise to be true and faithful to the Lord Protector and the Commonwealth, and not to alter the government as settled in a single person and a parliament. The test was certainly not a narrow nor a rigid one, and within a few days some 300 out of the 460 subscribed. The rest, including Bradshaw, Haselrig, and others of that stalwart group, refused to sign, and went home. Such was the Protector's short way with a parliamentary opposition.
The purge was drastic, but it availed little. By the very law of its being the parliament went on with the interrupted debate. Ample experience has taught us since those days that there is no such favourite battle-ground for party conflict as revision of a constitution. They now passed a resolution making believe that Oliver's test was their own. They affirmed the fundamentals about the double seat of authority, about Oliver's protectorate for life, about a parliament every three years, as gravely as if members had not just signed a solemn promise not to reject them. Then they made their way through the rest of the two-and-forty articles of the Instrument, expanding them into sixty. They fought the question whether the Protectorate should be hereditary, and by a large majority decided that it should not. The province of the Council was narrowed. Protector and parliament were to determine in conjunction what composed the doctrines within the public profession of religion, and what on the other hand were damnable heresies; but, these two things defined, then parliament could pass bills dealing with heresies, or with the teaching and discipline of established ministers, over the head of the Protector. On the all-important chapter of the