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three months by Booker's Almanac, and the Zodiac Horologe: March violets have become June roses; and still they debate what “incumbrance" is; - and indeed, I think could never fix it at all; and are perhaps debating it, if so doomed, in some twilight foggy section of Dante's Nether World, to all Eternity, at this hour! - Are not these a set of men likely to reform English Law? Likely these to strip the accumulated owl-droppings and foul guano-mountains from your rockisland, and lay the reality bare, – in the course of Eternities! The wish waxes livelier in Colonel Pride that he could see a certain addition made to the Scots Colours hung in Westminster Hall yonder.
I add only, for the sake of Chronology, that on the fourth day after this appearance of Bulstrode as a Law-reformer, occurred the famous Black Monday; fearfullest eclipse of the Sun ever seen by mankind. Came on about nine in the morning; darker and darker: ploughmen unyoked their teems, stars came out, birds sorrowfully chirping took to roost, men in amazement to prayers: a day of much obscurity; Black Monday, or Mirk Monday, 29th March 1652. * Much noised of by Lilly, Booker, and the buzzard Astrologer tribe. Betokening somewhat? Belike that Bulstrode and this Parliament will, in the way of Law-reform and otherwise, make a Practical Gospel, or real Reign of God, in this England ?
July 9th, 1652. A great external fact which, no doubt, has its effect on all internal movements, is the War with the Dutch. The Dutch, ever since our Death-Warrant to Charles First, have looked askance at this New Commonwealth, which wished to stand well with them; and have accumulated offence on offence against it. Ambassador Dorislaus was assassinated in their country; Charles Second was entertained there; eva. sive slow answers were given to tough St. John, who went over as new Ambassador: to which St. John responding with great directness, in a proud, brief and very emphatic manner, took his leave, and came home again. Came home again; and
passed the celebrated Navigation Act, * forbidding that any goods should be imported into England except either in English ships or in ships of the country where the goods were produced. Thereby terribly maiming the “Carrying Trade of the Dutch;" and indeed, as the issue proved, depressing the Dutch Maritime Interest not a little, and proportionally elevating that of England. Embassies in consequence, from their irritated High Mightinesses; sea-fightings in consequence; and much negotiating, apologising, and bickering mounting ever higher; – which at length, at the date above given, issues in declared War. Dutch War: cannonadings and fierce sea-fights in the narrow seas; land-soldiers drafted to fight on shipboard; and land-officers, Blake, Dean, Monk, who became very famous sea-officers; Blake a thrice-famous one; - poor Dean lost his life in this business. They doggedly beat the Dutch, and again beat them: their best Van Tromps and De Ruyters could not stand these terrible Puritan Sailors and Gunners. The Dutch gradually grew tame. The public mind, occupied with sea-fights and sea-victories, finds again that the New Representative must be patiently waited for; that this is not a time for turning out the old Representative, which has so many affairs on its hands.
But the Dutch War brings another consequence in the train of it: renewed severity against Delinquents. The necessities of cash for this War are great: indeed the grand business of Parliament at present seems to be that of Finance, - finding of sinews for such a War. Any remnants of Royal lands, of Dean-and-Chapter lands, – sell them by rigorous auction; the very lead of the Cathedrals one is tempted to sell; nay almost the Cathedrals themselves, ** if any one would buy them. The necessities of the Finance Department are extreme. Money, money: our Blakes and Monks, in deadly wrestle with the Dutch, must have money!
Estates of Delinquents, one of the readiest resources from
* Introduced, 5th August 1651; passed, 9th October 1651: given in Scobell, ii. 176.
** Parliamentary History, xx. 90.
of old, cannot, in these circumstances, be forgotten. Search out Delinquents: in every County make stringent inquest after them! Many, in past years, have made light settlements with lax Committee-men; neighbours, not without pity for them. Many of minor sort have been overlooked altogether. Bring them up, every Delinquent of them; up hither to the Rhadam manthus-bar of Goldsmiths' Hall and Haberdashers' Hall; sift them, search them; riddle the last due sixpence out of them. The Commons Journals of these months have formidable ell. long Lists of Delinquents; List after List; who shall, on rigorous terms, be ordered to compound. Poor unknown Royalist Squires, from various quarters of England; whose names and surnames excite now no notion in us except that of No, 1 and No. 2: my Lord General has seen them “crowding by thirties and forties in a morning"* about these Haberdasher-Grocer Halls of Doom, with haggard expression of countenance; soliciting, from what austere official person they can get a word of, if not mercy, yet at least swift judgment, In a way which affected my Lord General's feelings. We have now the third year of Peace in our borders: is this what you call Settlement of the Nation?
The following Letter to my honoured Friend Mr. Hungerford the Elder," which at any rate by order of time introduces itself here, has probably some reference to these Committee businesses: -at all events, there hangs by it a little tale.
Some six miles from Bath, in the direction towards Salis, bury, are to be seen, "on the northeast slope of a rocky height called Farley Hill," the ruins of an old Castle, once well known by the name of Farley Montfort, or Farley Hungerford: Mansion once of the honourable Family of Hungerfords, while there was such a Family. The Hungerfords are extinct above a century ago; and their Mansion stands there as a Ruin, knowing little of them any more. But it chanced, long since,
* Speech, postea.
before the Ruin became quite roofless, some Land-Steward or Agent of a new Family, tapping and poking among the melan. choly lumber there, — found "an old loose Chest” shoved loosely “under the old Chapel-altar;" and bethought him of opening the same. Masses of damp dust; unclean accumulation of beetle-and-spider exuviæ, to the conceivable amount: under these certain bundles of rubbish-papers, extinct leaserecords, marriage-contracts, all extinct now, - among which, however, were Two Letters bearing Oliver Cromwell's signature. These Two the Land-Steward carefully copied, thanks to him; - and here, out of Collinson's History of Somersetshire, the first of them now is. Very dark to the Land-Steward, to Collinson, and to us. For the Hungerfords are extinct; their Name and Family, like their old Mansion, a mouldering ruin,
almost our chief light in regard to it, the Two little bits of Paper, rescued from the old Chest under the Chapel-altar, in that romantic manner!
There were three Hungerfords in Parliament; all for Wiltshire constituencies. Sir Edward, “Knight of the Bath,” Puritan original Member for Chippenham; Lord of this Mansion of Farley, as we find :* then Henry, Esq., "recruiter" for Bedwin since 1646; probably a cadet of the House, perhaps heir to it: both these are now “secluded Members;' purged away by Pride; nay it seems Sir Edward was already dead, about the time of Pride's Purge. The third, Anthony Hungerford, original Member for Malmesbury, declared for the King in 1642; was of course disabled, cast into the Tower when caught; - made his composition, by repentance and due fine, “fine of 2,5321.,” in 1646,** when the First Civil War ended; and has lived ever since a quiet repentant man. He is of “Blackbourton in Oxfordshire,” this Anthony; but I judge by his Parliamentary connexion and other circumstances, likewise a cadet of the House of Farley. Of him by and by, when we arrive at the next Letter,
For the present, with regard to Sir Edward, lord of the Farley Mansion, we have to report, by tremulous but authentic lights, that he stood true for the Parliament; had controversies, almost duels, in behalf of it; among other services, lent it 5001. Furthermore, that he is now dead, "died in 1648;” and that his Widow cannot yet get payment of that 5001.; that she is yet only struggling to get a Committee to sit upon it. * One might guess, but nobody can know, that this Note was addressed to Henry Hungerford, in reference to that business of Sir Edward's Widow. Or possibly it may be Anthony Hungerford, the repentant Royalist, that is now the “Elder Hungerford;” a man with whom the Lord General is not without relations? Unimportant to us, either way. A hasty Note, on some "business” now unknown, about which an unknown“gentleman” has been making inquiry and negotiation; for the answer to which an unknown “servant” of some “Mr. Hungerford the Elder" is waiting in the hall of Oliver's House, – the Cockpit, I believe, at this date:- in such faintly luminous state, revealing little save its own existence, must this small Document be left.
* Collinson (iii. 357 n.) gives his Epitaph copied from the old Chapel, but is very dark and even self-contradictory in what he says farther.
** Commons Journals, iv. 565 (5th June 1646); ib. iii. 526, &c.
For my honoured Friend Mr. Hungerford the Elder, at his
“London ', 30th July 1652. I am very sorry my occasions will not permit me to return ** to you as I would. I have not yet fully spoken with the Gentleman I sent to wait upon you; when I shall do it, I shall be enabled to be more particular. Being unwilling to detain your servant any longer, - with my service to your Lady and Family, I take my leave and rest,
Your affectionate servant,
OLIVER CROMWELL. S * Committee got, 18th February 1652-3, “the Lord General" Cromwell in it (Commons Journals, vii. 260): Danger of Duel (ib. ii. 928, 981; iii. 185, January, June 1643). See ib. iv. 161, v. 618, &c.
$ Collinson's History of Somersetshire (Bath, 1791), iii. 357 (Note). — Appendix, No. 27.