Page images

selves much upon our good clothes! I came into the House one morning' Monday morning, ' well clad; and perceived a gentleman speaking, whom I knew not,—very ordinarily apparelled; for it was a plain cloth suit, which seemed to have been made by an ill country-tailor; his linen was plain, and not very clean; and I remember a speck or two of blood upon his little band, which was not much larger than his collar. His hat was without a hatband. His stature was of a good size; his sword stuck close to his side: his countenance swoln and reddish, his voice sharp ana untuneable, and his eloquence full of fervor. For the subject matter would not bear much of reason; it being on behalf of a servant of Mr. Prynne's who had dispersed Libels—yes, Libels, and had come to Palaceyard for it, as we saw: 'I sincerely pro fess, it lessened much my reverence unto that Great Council, for this gentleman was very much hearkened unto,'*—which was strange, seeing he had no gold lace to his coat, nor frills to his band; and otherwise, to me in my poor featherhead, seemed a some what unhandy gentleman!

The reader may take what of these Warwick traits he can along with him, and omit what he cannot take; for though Warwick's veracity is undoubted, his memory after many years, in such an element as his had been, may be questioned. The ' band,' we may remind our readers, is a linen tippet, properly the shirtcollar of those days, which, when the hair was worn long, needed to fold itself with a good expanse of washable linen over the upperworks of the coat, and defend these and their velvets from harm. The 'specks of blood,' if not fabulous, we, not without genera, sympathy, attribute to bad razors: as for the 'hatband,' one remarks that men did not speak with their hats on; and therefore will, with Sir Philip's leave, omit that. The 'untuneable voice,' or what a poor young gentleman in such circumstances would consider as such, is very significant to us.

Here is the other vague appearance; from Clarendon's Life.f 'He,' Mr. Hyde, afterwards Lord Clarendon, ' was often heard to mention one private Committee, in which he was put accidentally into the chair; upon an Enclosure which had been made of great

[merged small][ocr errors]

wastes, belonging to the Queen's Manors, without the consent of the tenants, the benefit whereof had been given by the Queen to a servant of near trust, who forthwith sold the lands enclosed to the Earl of Manchester, Lord Privy Seal; who together with his Son Mandevil were now most concerned to maintain the Enclosuje ; against which, as well the inhabitants of other manors, who claimed Common in those wastes, as the Queen's tenants of the same, made loud complaints, as a great oppression, carried upon them with a very high hand, and supported by power.

'The Committee sat in the Queen's Court; and Oliver Cromwell being one of them, appeared much concerned ,o countenance the Petitioners, who were numerous together with their Witnesses; the Lord Mandevil being likewise present as a party, and by the direction of the Committee sitting covered. Cromwell, who had never before been heard to speak in the House of Commons,'—at least not by me, though he had often spoken, and was very well known there,—' ordered the Witnesses and the Petitioners in the method of the proceeding; and seconded, and enlarged upon what they said, with great passion; and the Witnesses and persons concerned, who were a very rude kind of people, interrupted the Counsel and Witnesses on the other side, with great clamor, when they said anything that did not please them; so that Mr. Hyde ^ whose office it was to oblige persons of all sorts to keep order) was compelled to use some sharp reproofs, and some threats, to reduce them to such a temper, that the business might be quietly Heard. Cromwell, in great fury, reproached the Chairman for being partial, and that he discountenanced the Witnesses by threatening them: the other appealed to the Committee; which justified him, and declared, that he behaved himself as he ought to do; which more inflamed him,' Cromwell, 'who was already too much angry. When upon any mention of matter-of-fact, or of the proceeding before and at the Enclosure, the Lord Mandevil desired to be heard, and with great modesty related what had been done, or explained what had been said, Mr. Cromwell did answer, and reply upon him with so much indecency and rudeness, and in language so contrary and offensive, that every man would have thought, that as their natures and their manners were as opposite as it is possible, so their interests could never have been ihe same. In the end, his whole carriage was so tempestuous, and his behavior so insolent, that the Chairman found himself obliged to reprehend him ; and to tell him, That if he,' Mr. Crom. well, 'proceeded in the same manner, he' Mr. Hyde 'would presently adjourn the Committee, and the next morning complain to the House of him. Which he never forgave; and took all occasions afterwards to pursue him with the utmost malice and revenge, to Ms death,'—not Mr. Hyde's, happily, but Mr. Cromwell's, who at length did cease to cherish 'malice and revenge' against Mr. Hyde!

Tracking this matter, by faint indications, through various obscure sources, I conclude that it related to the 'Soke of Somersham '* near St. Ives; and that the scene in the Queen's Court probably occurred in the beginning of July, 1641.f Cromwell knew this Soke of Somersham near St. Ives very well; knew these poor rustics, and what treatment they had got; and wished, not in the. imperturbablest manner it would seem, to see justice done them. Here too, subtracting the due subtrahend from Mr. Hyde's Narrative, we have a pleasant visuality of an old summer afternoon 'in the Queen's Court' two hundred years ago.

Cromwell's next Letters present him to us, not debating, or about to debate, concerning Parliamentary Propositions and Scotch 'Eighth Articles,' but with his sword drawn to enforce them; the whole Kingdom divided now into two armed conflicting masses, the argument to be by pike and bullet henceforth.

* Commons Journals, ii., 172.

• Ibid., 87 ; 150; 172 ; 192 ; 215 ; 218; 219 —the dates extend from 17th February to 21st July, 1641.



« PreviousContinue »