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Westminster, to satisfy myself of the truth ; and to take my share of what I should see or learn there. Going by water to VVestmin' ster, I was told that the Parliament-doors were locked up, and guarded with soldiers, and that the Barges were to attend the Protector to the Painted Chamber. As I went, I saw two Barges at the Privy Stairs.’ River and City in considerable emotion. ‘ Being come to the Hall, I was confirmed in what I had heard Nevertheless I did purpose not to take things merely upon trust ; but would receive an actual repulse, to confirm my faith. Ac. cordingly, I attempted up the Parliament stairs ; but a guard of Soldiers was there, who told me, “There was no passage that way; the House was locked up, and command given to give no admittance to any ;--—if I were a Member,I might go into the Painted Chamber, where the Protector would presently be.” The Mace had been taken away by Commissary-General Whalley. The Speaker and all the Members were walking up and down the Hall, the Court of Requests, and the Painted Chamber ; expecting the Protector’s coming. The passages there likewise Were guarded with soldiers.’*
N o doubt about it, therefore, my honorable friend ! Dissolution, or something, is not far. Between nine and ten, the Protector arrived, with due escort of Officers, halberts, Lifeguards ; took his place, covered, under ‘ the state ’ as before, we all sitting bare. headed on our benches as before ; and with fit salutation spake to us ;--as follows. ‘ Speech of an hour and a half long ;’ taken in characters by the former individual who ‘stood near ;’ audible still to modern men. Tuesday morning, 12th September, 1654 ; a week and a day since the last Speech here.
In this remarkable Speech, the occasion of which and the Speaker of which are very extraordinary, an assiduous reader, or ‘ modern hearer,’ will find Historical indications, significant shadowings forth both of the Protectorate and the Protector; which, considering whence they come, he will not fail to regard as documentary in those matters. Nay perhaps, here for the first time, if he read with real industry, there may begin to paint itself for him, on the void Dryasdust abyss, hitherto called History of
Oliver, some dim adumbration of How this business of Assuming the Protectorate may actually have been. It was, many years ago, in reading these Speeches, with a feeling that they must have“ been credible when spoken, and with a strenuous endeavor to find what their meaning was, and try to believe it, that to the present Editor the Commonwealth, and Puritan Rebellion generally, first began to be conceivable. Such was his Experience.—
But certainly the Lord Protector’s place, that September Tuesday, 1654, is not a bed of roses! His painful asseverations, appeals and assurances have made the Modern part of his audience look, more than once, with questioning eyes. On this point, take from a certain Commentator sometimes above cited from, and far oftener suppressed, the following rough words:
‘ “ Divers persons who do know whether I lie in that,” says the Lord Protector. What a position for a hero, to be reduced continually to say he does not lie l—Consider well, nevertheless, what else could Oliver do? To get on with this new Parliament was clearly his one chance of governing peaceably. To wrap himself up in stern pride, and refuse to give any explanation: would that have been the wise plan of dealing with them? Or he stately and not-so.\vise plan? Alas, the wise plan, when all ray yet as an experiment, with so dread issues in it to yourself and the whole World, was not very discoverable. Perhaps not quite reconcilable with the stately plan, even if it had been discovered !’
' And again, with regard to the scheme of the Protectorship, which his Highness says was done by “the Gentlemen that undertook to frame this Government,” after divers days consulting, and'without the least privity of his: ‘You never guessed what they Were doing, your Highness? Alas, his Highness guessed it,-—and yet must not say, or think, he guessed it. There is something sad in a brave man’s being reduced to explain himself from a barrel-head in this manner ! Yet what, on the whole, will he do? Coriolanus curled his lip, and scowled proudly enough on the sweet voices: but Coriolanus had likewise to go over to the Volscians ; Coriolanus had not the slightest chance to govern by a free Parliament in Rome ! Oliver-was not prepared for these extremities ; if less would serve. Perhaps in Oliver there
is something of better than “ silent pride ’P” Oliver will have to explain himself before, God Most High, ere long ;—-and it will not stead him there, that he went wrong because his pride, his “ personal dignity,” his &o., &c., were concerned. — —- Who would govern men! “ Oh, it were better to be a poor fisher,” exoiarmed Danton, “than to meddle with governing of men l” “I would rather keep a flock of sheep l” said Oliver. And who but a Flunkey Would not, if his real trade lay in keeping sheep ?’—— On the whole, concludes our Commentator: ‘As good an explanation as the case admits of,—from a barrel-head, or “ raised platmm under a state.” Where so much that is true cannot'be said; did yet nothing that is false shall be said,—under penalties forgetten in our Time! With regard to those asseverations and reiterated appeals, note this also: An oath was an oath then; not a solemn piece of blasphemous cant, as too often since. No conmnporary that I have met with, who had any opportunity to judge, disbelieved Oliver in these protestations; though many believed that he was unconsciously deceiving himself. Which, of course, we too, where needful, must ever remember that he was liable to do; nay, if you will, that he was continually doing. But to this Commentator, at this stage in the development of things, “Apology” seems not the Word for Oliver Cromwell ;—not that, but a far other word! The Modern part of his Highness’s audience can listen now, I think, across the Time-gulfs, in a different mood ; -with candor, with human brotherhood, with reverence and grateful love. Such as the noble never claim in vain from those that have any nobleness. This of tasking a great soul continually to prove to us that he was not a liar, is t00 unwashed a way of welcoming a Great man ! Scrubby Apprentices of tender years, to them it might seem suitable ;—still more readily to Apes by the Dead Sea !’ Let us have done with it, my friend; and listen to the Speech itself, of date, Painted Chamber, 12th September, 1654, the best we can ! ,
GENTLEMEN, , It is not long since I met you in this place, upon an occasion which gave me much more content and comfort than this doth. That which I have now to say to you will need no preamble, to let me into my discourse: for the occasion of this meeting is plain enough. I could have wished with all my heart there had been no cause for it.
At our former' meeting I did acquaint you What was the first rise of this Government, which hath called you hither, and by the authority of which you have come hither. Among other things which I then told you of, I said, You were a Free Parliament. And ‘truly’ so you are,— whilst you own the Government and Authority which called you hither. But certainly that word ‘ Free Parliament’ implied a reciprocity,* or it implied nothing at all! Indeed there was a reciprocity implied and expressed; and I think your actions and carriages ought to be suitable! But I see it will be necessary for me now a little to magnify my Ofiice. Which I have not been apt to do. Ihave been of this mind,I have been always of this mind, since I first entered upon my Ofiice, If God will not bear it up, let it sink! [Yea I] But if a duty be incumbent upon me to hear my testimony unto it (which in modesty I have hitherto forborne),I am in some measure necessitated thereunto. And therefore that will be, the prologue to my discourse.
I called not myself to this place. I say again, I called not myself to this place ! Of that God is witness :--and I have many witnesses who, I do believe, could lay down their lives bearing witness to the truth of that. Namely, That I called not myself to this place ! [His Highness is growing emphatic] And being in it, I bear not witness to myself ‘ or my office ;’ but God and the People of these Nations have also borne testimony to it ‘ and me.’ If my calling be from God, and my testimony iom the People,—~G0d and the People shall take it from me, else I will not part with it. [Do you mark that, and the air and manner of it, my honorable friends I] I should be false to the trust that God hath placed in me, and to the interest of the People of these Nation, if I did.
“ That I called not myself to this place,” is my first assertion. “ That I bear not witness to myself, but have many witnesses,” is my second. These two things I shall take the liberty to speak more fully to you of. -—To make plain and clear what I have here asserted, I must take liberty to look ‘a little ’ back.
Iwas by birth a Gentleman ; living neitherin any considerable height, nor yet in obscurity. I have been called to several employments in the Nation: To serve in Parliament, ‘ and others ;’ and,—not to be over-tedious,—I did endeavor to discharge the duty of an honest man, in those services, to God and His People’s Interest, and to the Commonwealth; having, when time was, a competent acceptation in the hearts of men,
' ‘ reciprocation ’ in orig.
and some evidences thereof. I resolve, not to recite the times and occasions and opportunities, which have been appointed me by God to serve Him in; nor the presence and blessings of God therein bearing testimony to me. [Well said, and well for-borne to be said !]
Having had some occasions to see, together with my brethren and countrymen, a. happy period put to our sharp Wars and contests with the then common Enemy, I hoped, in a private capacity, to have reapeo the fruit and benefit, together with my brethren, of our hard labors and hazards : the enjoyment, to wit, of Peace and Liberty, and the privileges I of a Christian and a Man, in some equality with others, according as it should please the Lord to dispense unto me. And when, I say, God had put an end to our Wars, or at least brought them to a very hopeful issue, very near an end,—after Worcester Fight,—-I came up to London to pay my service and duty to the Parliament which then sat; hoping that all minds would have been disposed to answer what seemed to be the mind of God, namely, To give peace and rest to His People, and especially to those who had bled more than others in the carrying on of the Military afi'airs,——I was much disappointed of my expectation. For the issue did not prove so. [Suppressed murmurs from Bradshaw and Company] Whatever may be boasted or misrepresented, it was not so, not so 1
I can say, in the simplicity of my soul, I love not, I love not,--I declined it in my former Speech,*-I say, I love not to rake into sores, or to discover nakednesses ! The thing I drive at is this: I say to you, I hoped to have had leave, ‘ for my own part,’ to retire to a. private life. I begged to be dismissed of my charge; I begged it again and again ;and God be Judge between me and all men if I lie in this matter! [Groansfrom .Dryasdust, scarcely audible, in the deep silence] That I lie not in matter of act, is known to very many [“ Hum-m-m !” Look of “Yea!” from the Military .Parly.]: but whether I tell a lie in my heart, as laboring to represent to you what was not upon my heart, I say theLord be Judge.1- Let uncharitable men, who measure others by themselves, judge as they please. As to the matter of fact, I say, It is true. As to the ingenuity and integrity of my heart in that desire, --I do appeal as before upon that also! But I could not obtain “ what I desired,” what my soul longed for. And the plain truth is, I did afterwards apprehend some were of opinion (such the difi'erenée of their judgment from mine),That it could not well be.1
‘ Speech 1., p. 38. 1' He: Believe you about that as you see good 1 That I could not be spared from my PM