« PreviousContinue »
upon consideration had of my Letter to yourself expressing my consehl to particulars, which 'Letter' Mr. Barton brought to your Counsel Mr. Hales of Lincoln's Inn ;*—upon the reading that which expresseth the way of your settling Hursley, your Kinsman expressed a sense of yours contrary to the Paper in my hand, as also to that under your hand, of the 28th of March, which was the same as mine as to that particular.
Inj that which I myself am to do, I know nothing of doubt, but do agree it all to your Kinsman's satisfaction. Nor is there much material difference 'between us,' save in this,—wherein both my Paper sent by you to your Counsel, and yours of the 28th, do in all literal and all equitable construction agree, viz.: To settle an Estate in fee-simple upon your Daughter, after your decease; which Mr. Barton affirms not to be your meaning,—although he has not (as to me) formerly made this any objection; nor can the words bear it: nor have I anything more considerable in lieu of what I part with than this. And I have appealed to yours or any Counsel in England, whether it be not just and equal that I insist thereupon.
And this misunderstanding,—if it be yours, as it is your Kinsman's, —put a stop to the Business; so that our Counsel could not proceed, until your pleasure herein were known. Wherefore it was thought fit to desire Mr. Barton to have recourse to you to know your mind; he alleging he had no authority to understand that expression so, but the contrary;—which was thought not a little strange, even by your own Counsel.
I confess I did apprehend we should be incident to mistakes, treating at such a distance;—although I may take the boldness to say, there is nothing expected from me but I agree to it to your Kinsman's sense to a tittle.
Sir, I desired to know what commission your Kinsman had to help this doubt by an expedient;—who denied to have any; but did think it were better for you to part with some money, and keep the power in your own hand as to the land, to dispose thereof as you should see cause. Whereupon an overture was made, and himself and your Counsel desired to draw it up; the effect whereof this enclosed Paper contains. And although I should not like change of agreements, yet to show how much I desire the perfecting of this Business, if you like thereof (though this be far the worse bargain), I shall submit thereunto:
* This is the future Judge Hale.
t A mere comma here, instead of a new paragraph ; greatly obscuring tin sense :—' as to that particular, and I know nothing of doubt in that which" am to doe, but doe agree itt all,' &c
your Counsel thinking that things may be settled this way with mora clearness and less intricacy. There is mention made of 9001. per annum to be reserved: but it comes to but about 800Z. ; my lands in Glamorganshire being but little above 400Z. per annum: and the ' other' 4001. per annum out of my Manor in Gloucester- and Monmouth-shire. I wish > a clear understanding may be between us; truly I would not willingly mistake. Desiring to wait upon Providence in this Business, I rest,
Your affectionate friend and servant,
I desire my service may be presented to your Lady and Daughters.
This is the last of the Marriage-treaty. Mr. Barton, whom 'no Counsel in England' could back, was of course disowned in his over-zeal; the match was concluded; solemnised, 1st May, 1649-f
Richard died 12th July, 1712, at Cheshunt, age 66 ;% his Wife died 5th January, 1675-6, at Hursley, and is buried there,— where, ever after Richard's Deposition, and while he travelled on the Continent, she had continued to reside. In pulling down the old Hursley House, above a century since, when the Estate had passed into other hands, there was found in some crevice of the old walls a rusty lump of metal, evidently an antiquity; which was carried to the new proprietor at Winchester; who sold it as a 'Roman weight' for what it would bring. When scoured, it turned out,—or is said by vague Noble, quoting vague ' Vertue,' 'Hughes's Letters,' and 'Ant. Soc.' (Antiquarian Society), to have turned out,—to be the Great Seal of the Commonwealth.§ If the Antiquaries still have it, let them be chary of it.
* Harris, p. 500. t Noble, i., 188. X Ibid., i., 176,188 § Noble, i., 195. Bewildered Biography of the Mayors, * Majors or Maijors,' ibid., ii., 433-40 x VOL. I.
WHile Miss Dorothy Mayor is choosing her wedding-dresses, and Richard Cromwell is looking forward to a life of Arcadian felicity now near at hand, there has turned up for Richard's Father and other parties interested, on the public side of things, a matter of very different complexion, requiring to be instantly dealt with in the interim. The matter of the class called Levellers; concerning which, we must now say a few words.
In 1647, as we saw, there were Army Adjutators; and among some of them wild notions afloat, as to the swift attainability of Perfect Freedom civil and religious, and a practical Millennium on this Earth; notions which required, in the Rendezvous at Corkbushfield, 'Rendezvous of Ware' as they oftenest call it, to be very resolutely trodden out. Eleven chief mutineers were ordered from the ranks in that Rendezvous; were condemned by swift Court Martial to die; and Trooper Arnold, one of them, was accordingly shot there and then; which extinguished the mutiny for that time. War since, and Justice on Delinquents, England made a Free Commonwealth, and such like, have kept the Army busy: but a deep republican leaven, working all along among these men, breaks now again into very formidable development. As the following brief glimpses and excerpts may satisfy an attentive reader who will spread them out to the due expansion in his mind. Take first this glimpse into the civil province; and discern, with amazement, a whole submarine world of Calvinistic Sansculottism, Five-point Charter and the Rights of Man, threatening to emerge almost two centuries before its time!
'The Council of State,' says Whitlocke,* just while Mr. Barton is boggling about the Hursley Marriage-settlements, 'has intelligence of certain Levellers appearing at* St. Margaret's Hill,
* 17 April, p. 384.
near Cobham in Surrey, and at St. George's Hill,' in the same quarter: 'that they were digging the ground, and sowing it with roots and beans. One Everard, once of the Army, who terms himself a Prophet, is the chief of them ;' one Winstanley is another chief. 'They were Thirty men, and said that they should be shortly Four-thousand. They invited all to come in and help them; and promised them meat, drink, and clothes. They threaten to pull down Park-pales, and to lay all open; and threaten the neighbors that they will shortly make them all come up to the hills and work.' These infatuated persons, beginning a new era in this headlong manner on the chalk hills of Surrey, are laid hold of by certain Justices, 'by the country people,' and also by 'two troops of horse and complain loudly of such treatment; appealing to all men whether it be fair.* This is the account they give of themselves when brought before the General some days afterwards:
'April 20th, 1649. Everard and Winstanley, the chief of those that digged at St. George's Hill, in Surrey, came to the General and made a large declaration, to justify their proceedings. Everard said, He was of the race of the Jews,' as most men, called Saxon and other, properly are; 'That all the Liberties of the People were lost by the coming in of William the Conqueror; and that, ever since, the People of God had lived under tyranny and oppression worse than that of our Forefathers under the Egyptians. But now the time of deliverance was at hand; and God would bring His people out of this slavery, and restore them to their freedom in enjoying the fruits and benefits of the Earth. And that there had lately appeared to him, EverardJ a vision; which bade him, Arise and dig and plough the Earth, and receive the fruits thereof. That their intent is to restore the Creation to its former condition. That as God had promised to make the barren land fruitful, so now what they did, was to restore the ancient Community of enjoying the Fruits of the Earth, and to distribute the benefit thereof to the poor and needy, and to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. That they intend not to meddle with any
* King's Pamphlets, small 4to., no. 427, § 6 (Declaration of the bloodj and unchristian Acting of William Star, &c, in opposition to those that dig upon George-Hill in Surrey); ib., no. 418, § 5, &c.
man's property, nor to break down any pales or enclosures,' in spite of reports to the contrary; 'but only to meddle with what is common and unfilled, and to make it fruitful for the use of man. That the time will suddenly be, when all men shall willingly come in and give up their lands and estates, and submit to this Community' of Goods.
These are the principles of Everard, Winstanley, and the poor Brotherhood, seemingly Saxon, but properly of the race of the Jews, who were found dibbling beans on St. George's Hill, under the clear April skies in 1649, and hastily bringing in a new era in that manner. 'And for all such as will come in and work with them, they shall have meat, drink, and clothes, which is all that is necessary to the life of man: and as for money, there was not any need of it; nor of clothes more than to cover nakedness.' For the rest, 'That they will not defend themselves by arms, but will submit unto authority, and wait till the promised opportunity be offered, which they conceive to be at hand. And that as their forefathers lived in tents, so it would be suitable to their condition, now to live in the same.
'While they were before the General they stood with their hats on; and being demanded the reason thereof, they said, Because he was but their fellow-creature. Being asked the meaning of that phrase, Give honor to whom honor is due,—they said, Your mouths shall be stopped that ask such a question.'*
Dull Bulstrode hath 'set down this the more largely because it was the beginning of the appearance' of an extensive levelling doctrine, much to be ' avoided' by judicious persons, seeing it is 'weak persuasion.' The germ of Quakerism and much else is curiously visible here. But let us look now at the military phasis of the matter; where ' a weak persuasion' mounted on cavalry horses, with sabres and fire-arms in its hand, may become a very perilous one.
Friday, 20<ft April, 1649. The Lieutenant-General has con. •ented to go to Ireland; the City also will lend money, and now this Friday the Council of the Army meets at Whitehall to decide what regiments shall go on that service. 'After a solemn seek.
* Whitlocke, p. 384.