« PreviousContinue »
to tell you I would discourse upon a Psalm; and I did it.* Iam not ashamed of it at any time [Why should you, your Highness? A word that does speak to us from the eternal heart of things, “ word of God” as you well call it, is highly worth discoursing 'upon.']—especially when I meet with men of such consideration as you. There you have one verse which I forgot. “ I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints; but let them not turn again to folly.” Dissension, division, destruction, in a poor Nation under a Civil War,-having all the effects of a Civil War upon it! Indeed if we return again to “folly,” let every man consider, If it be not like turning to destruction '1 If God shall unite your hearts and bless you, and give you the blessing of union and love one to another, and tread down everything that riseth up in your hearts and tendeth to deceive Your own souls with pretences of this thing or that, as we have been saying—[ The Sentence began as a positive, “ if God shall ;” but gradually turm'ng on its axis, it has now got quite round into the negative side]— and not prefer the keeping of Peace that we may see the fruit of righteousness in them that love peace and embrace peace,—it will be said of this poor Nation, Actum est de Anglia, ‘It is all over with England!’
But I trust God will never leave it to such a spirit. And while I live, and am able, I shall be ready-—
[Courage, my brave one ! Thou hast but some Seven Months more of it, and then the ugly coil is all over ; and thy part in it manfully done; manfully and fruitfully, to all Eternity! Peppery Scott’s hot head can mount to Temple Bar, whither it is bound; and England, with immense expenditure of liquor and tarbarrels, can call in its Nell Gwyn Defender of the Faith,— and make out a very notable Two Hundred Years under his guidance ; and, finding itself now nearly got to the Devil, may perhaps pause, and recoil, and remember: who knows’.l Nay who cares '! may Oliver say. He is honorably quit of it, he for one; and the Supreme Powers will guide it farther according to their pleasure.]
,,--I shall be ready to stand and fall with you, in this seemingly promising Unionf which God hath wrought among you, which I hope neither the pride nor envy of man shall be able to make void. Ihave taken my
Oath [In W'estminster Hall, Twenty-sixth of June last] to govern “according to the ‘Laws ” that are now made; and I trust I shall fully am swer it. And know, I sought not this place. [Who would have “ sought” it, that could have as nony avoided it." Very scurvy creatures only. The “place ” is no great things, I think ;—with either Heaven 01' else Hell so close upon the rear of it, a man might do without the “place!” Know all men, Oliver Cromwell did not seek this place, but was sought to it, and led and driven to it, by the Necessities, the Divine Providences, the Eternal Laws.] I speak it before God, Angels, and Men: I DID now. You sought me for it, you brought me to it; and I took my Oath to be faithful to the Interests of these Nations, to be faithful to the Government. All those things were implied, in my eye, in the Oath “ to be faithful to this Government ” upon which we have now met. And I trust, by the grace of God, as I have taken my Oath to serve this Commonwealth on such an account, I shall,-—l must !—-see it done, according to the Articles of Government. That every just Interest may be preserved; that a Godly Ministry may be upheld, and not afi'ronted by seducing and seduced spirits ; that all men may be preserved in their just rights, whether civil or spiritual. Upon this account did I take oath, and swear to this Government !—[And mean to continue administering it withaZ]—-And so having declared my heart and mind to you in this, I have nothing more to say, but to pray, God Almighty bless you.*
His Highness, a few days after, on occasion of some Reply to a Message of his ‘ concerning the state of the Public Monies,’-was formally requested by the Commons to furnish them with a Copy of this Speech : 1' he answered that he did not remember four lines of it into. piece, and that he could not furnish a Copy. Some Copy would nevertheless have been got up, bad the Parliament continued sitting. Rushworth, Smythe, and ‘ I ’ (the Writer of Burton’s Diary), we, so soon as the Speech was done, went to York House; Fairfax’s Town-House, where Historical John, brooding over endless Paper-masses, and doing occasional Secretary work, still lodges : here at York House we sat together till late, ‘ comparing Notes of his Highness’s Speech ;’ could not ' finish the business that night, our Notes being a little cramp. It
' Burton, ii., 351—71.
was grown quite dark before his Highness had done ; so that we could hardly see cur pencils go, at the time.*
The Copy given here is from the Pell Papers, and in part from an earlier Original ; first printed by Burton’s Editor ; and now reproduced, with slight alterations of the pointing, &c., such as were necessary here and there to bring out the sense, but not such as could change anything that had the least title to remain unchanged. ’
Hrs Highness’s last noble appeal, the words as of a strong great Captain addressed in the hour of imminent shipwreck, produced no adequate effect. The dreary Debate, supported chiefly by intemperate Haselrig, peppery Scott, and future-renegade Robinson, went on, trailing its slow length day after day; daily widening itself too into new dreariness, new questionability: a kind of pain to read even at this distance, and with view of the intemperate hot heads actually stuck on Temple Bar!' For the man in ‘green oilskin hat with' nightcap under it,’ the Duke of Ormond namely, who lodges at the Papist Chirurgeon’s in Drury Lane, is very busy all this while. And Fifth-Monarchy and other Petitions are getting concocted in the City, to a great length indeed ;—and' there are stirrings in the Army itself ;— and, in brief, the English Hydra, cherished by the Spanish Charles-Stuart Invasion, will shortly hiss sky-high again, if this continue.
As yet, however, there stands one strong Man between us and that issue. The strong Man gone, that issue, we may guess, will be inevitable; but he is not yet gone. For ten days more the dreary Debate has lasted. Various good Bills and Notices of Bills have been introduced: attempts on the part of wellafi'ected Members to do some useful legislation here;1' attempts which could not be accomplished. ' What could be accomplished
' Burton, ii., 351. ' Parliamentary History, xxi., 203 4.
was to open the fountains of constitutional logic, and debate this question day after day. One or two intemperate persons, not excluded at the threshold, are of great moment in a Popular Assembly. The mind of which, if it have any mind, is one of the vaguest entities ; capable, in a very singular degree, of being made to ferment, to freeze, to take fire, to develope itself in this shape or in that l The history of our Second Session, and indeed of these Oliverian Parliaments generally, is not exhilarating to the constitutional mind !—
But now on the tenth day of the Debate, with its noise growing ever noisier, on the 4th of February, 1657-8, ‘ about eleven in the morning,’—while "peppery Scott is just about to attempt yelping out some new second speech, and there are cries of “ Spoken ! spoken !” which Sir Arthur struggles to argue down, —arrives the Black Rod.—“ The Black Rod stays i” cry some, while Sir Arthur is arguing.—“ What care I for the Black Rod 1*” snarls he: “ The Gentleman ” (peppery Scott) “ ought to be heard.”—Black Rod, however, is heard first ; signifies that “ His Highness is in the Lords House, and desires to speak with you.” Under way therefore! “Shall we take our Mace?” By all means,‘ if you consider it likely to be useful for you !*
They take their Mace ; range themselves in due mass, in the “ Other House,” Lords House, or whatever they call it ; and his Highness, with a countenance of unusual earnestness, sorrow. resolution and severity, says:
I had very comfortable expectations that God would make the meeting of this Parliament a blessing; and, the Lord be my witness, I desired the carrying on the Affairs of the Nation to these ends! The blessing which I mean, and which we ever climbed at, was mercy, truth, righteousness and peace,—which I desired might be improved.
That which brought me into the capacityI now stand in was the Petition and Advice given me by you; who, in reference to the ancient Constitution [“ Which had Two Houses and a King,”--though we do not in words mention that !], did draw me to accept the place of Protector. [“I was a kind of Protecdtor already, I always understood; but let
that pass. Certainly you invited me to become the Protector I now am, with Two Houses and other appendages, and there lies the gist of the matter at present.”] There is not a man living can say I sought it; no, not a man nor woman treading upon English ground. But contemplating the sad condition of these Nations, relieved from an intestine War into a six or seven years Peace, I did think the Nation happy therein ! [“ I did think even my first Protectorate was a successful kind of thing 1”] But to be petitioned thereunto, and advised by you to undertake such a Government, a burden too heavy for any creature; and this to be done by the House that then had the Legislative capacity ;_ certainly I did look that the same men who made the Frame should make it good unto me ! I can say in the presence of God, in comparison with whom we are but like poor creeping ants upon the earth,——I would have been glad to have lived under my woodside, to have kept a flock of sheep—[ Yes, your Highness; it had been infinitely quieter, healthier, freer. But it is gone for ever: no woodsides now, and pcacd'ul nibbling sheep, and great still thoughts, and glimpses of God ‘ in the cool qf the evening walking among the trees ;’ nothing but toil and trouble, double, double, till one’s discharge arrive, and the Eternal Portals open! Nay even there by your woodside, you had not been happy; not you,— with thoughts going down. to the Death-kingdoms, and Heaven so near you on this hand, and Hell so near you on that. Nay who would grudge a little temporary Trouble, when he can do a large spell of eternal work? Work that is true, and will last through all Eternity! Complain not, your Highness !—His Highness does not complain. “ To have kept a flock of sheep,” he says]—rather than undertaken such a Government as this. But undertaking it by the Advice and Petition of you, I did look that you who had offered it unto me should make it good.
I did tell you, at a Conference* concerning it, that I would not undertake it, unless there might be some other Persons to interpose be— tween me and the House of Commons, who then had the power, and prevent tumultuary and popular spirits: and it was granted I should name another House. I named it of men who shall meet you wheresoever you go, and shake hands with you; and tell you it is not Titles, nor Lords, nor Parties that they value, but a Christian and an English Interest! Men of your own rank and quality, who will not only be a 7 balance unto you, but a new force added to you,1- while you love England and Religion.
Having proceeded upon these terms ;-—and finding such a spirit as
' One of the Kingship Conferences of which there is no Report. 1' ‘ but to themselves,’ however helplessly, must mean this: and a good reporter would have substituted this. ~