Page images
PDF

And so exeunt Widdrington and Parliament: "Buzz, buzz! Distinct at last!" — and the huge buzzing of the public mind falls silent, that of the Kingship being now ended; — and this Editor and his readers are delivered from a very considerable weariness of the flesh.

"The Protector," says Bulstrode, "was satisfied in his "private judgment that it was fit for him to accept this Title "of King, and matters were prepared in order thereunto. But "afterwards, by solicitation of the Commonwealth's-men," by solicitation, representation and even denunciation from "the Commonwealth's-men" and "many Officers of the Army," he decided "to attend some better season and opportunity in the business, and refused at this time."* With which summary account let us rest satisfied. The secret details of the matter are dark, and are not momentous. The Lawyer-party, as we saw, were all in favour of the measure. Of the Soldier-party, Ex-Major-Generals Whalley, Goffe, Berry are in a dim way understood to have been for it; Desborow and Fleetwood strong against it; to whom Lambert, much intriguing in the interim, had at last openly joined himself. ** Which line of conduct, so soon as it became manifest, procured him from bis Highness a handsome dismissal. Dismissal from all employment; but with a retiring pension of 2,000/.: which mode of treatment passed into a kind of Proverb, that season; and men of wooden wit were wont to say to one another, "I will Lambertiseyou."*** The "greatLordLambert," hitherto a very important man, now "cultivated flowers at Wimbledon;" attempted higher things, on his own footing, in a year or two, with the worst conceivable success; and in fact had at this point, to all reasonable intents, finished his public work in this world.

The rest of the Petition and Advice, so long discussed and conferenced upon, is of course accepted; f a much improved Frame of Government; with a Second House of Parliament; with a Chief Magistrate who is to "nominate his successor;" and be King in all points except the name. News of Blake's victory at Santa Cruz reach us in these same days, * whereupon is Public Thanksgiving, and voting of a Jewel to General Blake: and so: in a general tide of triumphant accordance, and outward and inward prosperity, this Second Protectorate Parliament advances to the end of its First Session.

* Whitlooke, p. 646. ** Godwin, iv. 352, 367. *** Heath's Chronicle.

t Commons Journals, vli. 358 (35th May 1657); Whitlocke, p. 648. — See, in Appendix, No. 32, another Speech of Oliver's on the occasion; forgotten hitherto (Nolc of 1857.)

SPEECH XV., LETTERS CCXVIII.—CCXXIV.J

The Session of Parliament is prosperously reaching its close; and during the recess there will be business enough to do. Selection of our new House of Lords; carrying-.on of the French League Offensive against Spain; and other weighty interests. Of which the following small documents, one short official Speech, and seven short, most official Letters, are all that remain to us.

SPEECH XV.

Parliament has passed some Bills; among the rest, some needful Money-Bills, Assessment of 340,000/. a-month on England, 6,000/. on Scotland, 9,000/. on Ireland;"** to all which his Highness, with some word of thanks for the money, will now signify his assent. Unexceptionable word of thanks, accidentally preserved to us,*** which, with the circumstances attendant thereon, we have to make conscience of reporting.

Tuesday morning, 9th June 1657, Message comes to the Honourable House, That his Highness, in the Painted Chamber, requires their presence. They gather up their Bills; certain Money-Bills "for an assessment towards the Spanish War;" and "divers other Bills, some of public, some of more private concernment," among which latter we notice one for settling Lands in the County of Dublin on Widow Bastwick and her four children, Dr. Bastwick's widow, poor Susannah, who has long been a solicitress in this matter: these Bills the Clerk of the Commons gathers up, the Sergeant shoulders his Mace; and so, Clerk and Sergeant leading off, and Speaker Widdrington and all his Honourable Members following, the whole House in this due order, with its Bills and apparatus, proceeds to the Painted Chamber. There, on his platform, in chair of state sits his Highness, attended by his Council and others. Speaker Widdrington at a table on the common level of the floor "finds a chair set for him, and a form for his clerk." Speaker Widdrington, hardly venturing to sit, makes a "short and pithy Speech" on the general proceedings of Parliament; presents his Bills, with probably some short and pithy words, such as suggest themselves, prefatory to each: "A few slight Bills; they are but as the grapes that precede the full vintage, may it please your Highness." His Highness in due form signifies assent; and then says:

* 28th May (Common) Journals, vii. 54; Burton, ii. 142). ** Parliamentary History, xxi. 151; Commons Journals, vii. 554-7. ••• Commons Journals, vll. 551-2.

Mr. Spearer, I perceive that, among these many Acts of Parliament, there hath been a very great care had by the Parliament to provide for the just and necessary support of the Commonwealth by those Bills for the levying of Money, now brought to me, which I have given my consent unto. Understanding it hath been the practice of those who have been Chief Governors to acknowledge with thanks to the Commons their care and regard of the Public, I do very heartily and thankfully acknowledge their kindness herein. §

The Parliament has still some needful polishing-up of its Petition and Advice, other perfecting of details to accomplish: after which it is understood there will be a new and much more solemn Inauguration of his Highness; and then the First Session will, as in a general peal of joy-bells, harmoniously close.

§ Commons Journals, vii. 552: Reported by Widdrington in the afternoon.

LETTER CCXVIH.

Official Letter of Thanks to Blake, for his [Victory at Santa Cruz on the 20th April last. The "small Jewel" sent herewith is one of 5001. value, gratefully voted him by the Parliament; among whom, as over England generally, there is great rejoicing on account of him. Where Blake received this Letter and Jewel we know not; but guess it may have been in the Bay of Cadiz. Along with it, "Instructions" went out to him to leave a Squadron of Fourteen Ships there, and come home with the rest of the Fleet. He died, as we said above, within sight of Plymouth, on the 7th of August following. i,

'To General Blake, at Sea.'
SlR, Whitehall, 10th June 1657.

I have received yours of 'the 20th of April last;'* and thereby the account of the good success it hath pleased God to give you at the Canaries, in your attempt upon the King of Spain's Ships in the Bay of Santa Cruz.

The mercy therein, to us and this Commonwealth, is very signal; both in the loss the Enemy hath received, and also in the preservation of our 'own' ships and men;** — which indeed was very wonderful; and according to the goodness and lovingkindness of the Lord, wherewith His People hath been followed in all these late revolutions; and doth call on our part, That we should fear before Him, and still hope in His mercy.

We cannot but take notice also how eminently it hath pleased God to make use of you in this service; assisting you with wisdom in the conduct, and courage in the execution 'thereof;' — and have sent you a small Jewel, as a testimony of our own and the Parliament's good acceptance of your carriage in this Action. We are also informed that the Officers' of the Fleet, and the Seamen, carried themselves with much honesty and courage; and we are considering of a way to show our acceptance thereof. In the mean time, we desire you to return our hearty thanks and acknowledgments to them.

* Blank in MS.: see antea, vol. iv. p. 65. ** "50 slain outright, 150 wounded, of ours" (Burton, ii. 142).

Thus, beseeching the Lord to continue His presence with you, I remain,

Your very affectionate friend,

'oliver P.'§

Land-General Reynolds has gone to the French Netherlands , with Six-thousand men, to join Turenne in fighting the Spaniards there; and Sea-General Montague is about hoisting hia flag to co-operate with him from the other element. By sea and land are many things passing; — and here in London is the loudest thing of all: not yet to be entirely omitted by us, though now it has fallen very silent in comparison. Inauguration of the Lord Protector; second and more solemn Installation of him, now that he is fully recognised by Parliament itself. He cannot yet, as it proves, be crowned King; but he shall be installed in his Protectorship with all solemnity befitting such an occasion.

Friday, 26th June 1657. The Parliament and all the world are busy with this grand affair; the labours of the Session being now complete, the last finish being now given to our new Instrument of Government, to our elaborate Petition and Advice, we will add this topstone to the work, and so, amid the shoutings of mankind, disperse for the recess. Friday at two o'clock, "in a place prepared," duly prepared with all manner of "platforms," "cloths of state," and "seats raised one above the other," "at the upper end of Westminster Hall."

i Thurloe, vi. 342. "Instructions to General Blake," of the same date,

« PreviousContinue »