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therefore; give us the non-plus-ultra of you. Next Parliament-day we do fix a limit, Three years hence, 30 November 1654; three years of rope still left us: a somewhat wide limit; which, under conceivable contingencies, may perhaps be tightened a little. My honourable friends, you ought really to get on with despatch of this business; and know of a surety that not being, any of you, Kings by birth, nor very indubitably by attainment, you will actually have to go, and even in case of extremity to be shoved and sent!
LETTER CLXXXIV. At this point the law of dates requires that we introduce Letter Hundred and-eighty-fourth; though it is as a mere mathematical point, marking its own whereabouts in Oliver's History; and imparts little or nothing that is new to us.
Reverend John Cotton is a man still held in some remembrance among our New-England friends. He had been Minister of Boston in Lincolnshire; carried the name across the Ocean with him; fixed it upon a new small Home he had found there, - which has become a large one since; the big busy Capital of Massachusetts, Boston, so called. John Cotton his Mark, very curiously stamped on the face of this Planet; likely to continue for some time!-- For the rest, a painful Preacher, oracular of high Gospels to New England; who in his day was well seen to be connected with the Supreme Powers of this Universe, the word of him being as a live.coal to the hearts of many. He died some years afterwards; — was thought, especially on his deathbed, to have manifested gifts even of Prophecy,* - a thing not inconceivable to the human mind that well considers Prophecy and John Cotton.
We should say farther, that the Parliament, that Oliver among and before them, had taken solemn anxious thought concerning Propagating of the Gospel in New England; and, among other measures, passed an Act to that end; ** not un
. * Thurloe, i. 565; – in 1653.
worthy of attention, were our hurry less. In fact, there are traceable various small threads of relation, interesting reciprocities and mutualities, connecting the poor young Infant, New England, with its old Puritan Mother and her affairs, in those years. Which ought to be disentangled, to be made conspicuous and beautiful, by the Infant herself now that she has grown big; the busy old Mother having had to shove them, with so much else of the like, hastily out of her way for the present! – However, it is not in reference to this of Propagating the Gospel in New England; it is in congratulation on the late high Actings, and glorious Appearances of Pro
Oliver: introduced to him, as appears, by some small mediate or direct acquaintanceship, old or new; – founding too on their general relationship as Soldier of the Gospel and Priest of the Gospel, high brother and humble one; appointed, both of them, to fight for it to the death, each with such weapons as were given him. The Letter of Cotton, with due details, is to be seen in Hutchinson's Collection.* The date is “Boston in New England, 28th of Fifth” (Fifth Month, or July), “1651:" the substance, full of piety and loyalty, like that of hundreds of others, must not concern us here, - except these few interesting words, upon certain of our poor old Dunbar friends: “The Scots whom God delivered into your hands at Dunbar," says Cotton, "and whereof sundry were sent hither, - we "have been desirous, as we could to make their yoke easy, "Such as were sick of the scurvy, or other diseases, have not "wanted physic and chirurgery. They have not been sold 6 for Slaves, to perpetual servitude; but for six, or seven, or Weight years, as we do our own. And he that bought the “most of them, I hear, buildeth Houses for them, for every "Four a House; and layeth some acres of ground thereto, "which he giveth them as their own, requiring them three "days in the week to work for him by turns, and four days for "themselves; and promiseth, as soon as they can repay him "the money he laid out for them, he will set them at liberty."
* Papers relative to the History of Massachusetts (Boston, 1769), p. 236.
Which really is a mild arrangement, much preferable to Durham Cathedral and the raw cabbages at Morpeth; and may turn to good for the poor fellows, if they can behave themselves!
For my esteemed Friend Mi. Cotton, Pastor of the Church at
'London,' 20 October 1651. Worthy SIR, AND MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND,
I received yours a few days since. It was welcome to me because signed by you, whom I love and honour in the Lord: but more ‘so' to see some of the same grounds of our Actings stirring in you that are in us, to quiet us to our work, and support us therein. Which hath had the greatest difficulty in our engagement in Scotland; by reason we have had to do with some who were, I verily think, Godly, but, through weakness and the subtlety of Satan, 'were involved in Interests against the Lord and His People.
With what tenderness we have proceeded with such, and that in sincerity, our Papers (which I suppose you have seen) will in part manifest; and I give you some comfortable assurance of the same.' The Lord hath marvellously appeared even against them. * And now again when all the power was devolved into the Scottish King and the Malignant Party, — they invading England, the Lord rained upon them such snares as the Enclosed ** will show. Only the Narrative in short is this, That of their whole Army, when the Narrative was framed, not five men were returned.
* From Preston downward.
** Doubtless the Official Narrative of Worcester Battle; published about a week ago, as Preamble to the Act appointing a Day of Thanksgiving; 26th September 1651; reprinted in Parliamentary History, xx. 59-65.
Surely, Sir, the Lord is greatly to be feared and to be praised! We need your prayers in this as much as ever. How shall we behave ourselves after such mercies? What is the Lord a-doing? What Prophecies are now fulfilling?* Who is a God like ours? To know His will, to do His will are both of Him.
I took this liberty from business, to salute you thus in a word. Truly I am ready to serve you and the rest of our Brethren and the Churches with you. I am a poor weak creature, and not worthy the name of a worm; yet accepted to serve the Lord and His People. Indeed, my dear Friend, between you and me, you know not me, — my weaknesses, my inordinate passions, my unskilfulness, and everyway unfitness to my work. Yet, yet the Lord, who will have mercy on whom He will, does as you see! Pray for me. Salute all Christian friends though unknown.
OLIVER CROMWELL. S About this time, for there is no date to it but an evidently vague and erroneous one, was held the famous Conference of Grandees, called by request of Cromwell; of which Bulstrode has given record. Conference held “one day”' at Speaker Lenthall's house in Chancery Lane, to decide among the leading Grandees of the Parliament and Army, How this Nation is to be settled, – the Long Parliament having now resolved on actually dismissing itself by and by. The question is really complex: one would gladly know what the leading Grandees did think of it; even what they found good to say upon it! Unhappily our learned Bulstrode's report of this Conference is very dim, very languid: nay Bulstrode, as we have found * See Psalm Hundred-and tenth.
Harris, p. 518; Birch's Original, - copied in Additional Ayscough M88. no. 4156,8 70.
elsewhere, has a kind of dramaturgic turn in him, indeed an
potamus should show a tendency to dance; - which painfully deducts from one's confidence in Bulstrode's entire accuracy on such occasions! Here and there the multitudinous Paper Masses of learned Bulstrode do seem to smack a little of the date when he redacted them, - posterior to the Ever-blessed Restoration, not prior to it. We shall, nevertheless, excerpt this dramaturgic Report of Conference: the reader will be willing to examine, with his own eyes, even as in a glass darkly, any feature of that time; and he can remember always that a learned Bulstrode's fat terrene mind, imaging a heroic Cromwell and his affairs, is a very dark glass indeed!
The Speakers in this Conference, - Desborow, Oliver's Brother-in-law; Whalley, Oliver's Cousin; fanatical Harrison, tough St. John, my learned Lord Keeper or Commissioner Whitlocke himself, - are mostly known to us. Learned Widdrington, the mellifluous orator, once Lord Commissioner too, and like to be again, though at present "excused from it owing to scruples,” will by and by become better known to us. A mellifluous, unhealthy, seemingly somewhat scrupulous and timorous man.* He is of the race of that Widdrington whom we still lament in doleful dumps, - but does not fight upon the stumps like him. There were many other Gentlemen” who merely listened.
“Upon the defeat at Worcester,” says Bulstrode vaguely,**
"ment, and some chief Officers of the Army, at the Speaker's "house. And a great many being there, he proposed to them, " That now the old King being dead, and his Son being " defeated, he held it necessary to come to a Settlement of the “Nation. And in order thereunto, had requested this Meeting; " that they together might consider and advise, What was fit "to be done, and to be presented to the Parliament.
* Wood, in voce.
** Whitlocke, p. 491; the date, 10th December 1651, is that of the Paper merely, and as applied to the Conference itself cannot be correct.