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ful at lowest for peace and order, by degrees recognizes; with acquiescence, not without some slow satisfactory feeling. England is in peace at home; stands as the Queen of Protestantism abroad; defies Spain and Antichrist, protects poor Piedmont Protestant^ and servants of Christ;—has taken, all men admit, a nobler attitude than it ever had before.
Nor has the task been easy hitherto; nor is it like to be. No nolyday work, governing such an England as this of Oliver Protector's; with strong Papistry abroad, and a Hydra of Anarchies a} home! The domestic Hydra is not slain; cannot, by the nature of it, be slain; can only be scotched and mowed down, head after head, as it successively protrudes itself;—till, by the aid of Time, it slowly die. As yet on any hint of foreign encouragement, it revives again, requires to be scotched and mowed down again. His exiled Majesty Charles Stuart has got a new lever in hand by means of this War with Spain.
Seven years ago his exiled Majesty's 'Embassy to Spain,' embassy managed by Chancellor Hyde and another, proved rather a hungry affair : and ended, I think, in little,—except the murder of poor Ascham, the then Parliament's Envoy at Madrid ; whom, like Dutch Dorislaus, as ' an accursed regicide or abetter of regicides,' certain cut-throat servants of the said hungry Embassy broke in upon, one afternoon, and slew. For which violent deed no full satisfaction could be got from Spain—the murderers haying taken ' sanctuary,' as was pleaded.* With that rather sorry result, and no other noticeable, Chancellor Hyde's Embassy took itself away again; Spain ordering it to go. But now, this fierce Protestant Protector breathing nothing but war, Spain finds that the English domestic Hydra, if well operated upon by Charles Stuart, might be a useful thing; and grants Charles StuJrt some encouragements for that. His poor Majesty is coming to the seashore again; is to have 'Seven-thousand Spaniards' to invade England,—if the domestic Hydra will stir with effect. The domestic Hydra, I think, had better lie quiet for a while! This Letter to Henry Cromwell is to bid him too, for his part, be awake n Ireland to these things.
* Clarendon, iii., 498-509; Prpcess and Pleadings in the Court of Spain upon the death of Anthony Ascham (in Hart. Miscell, vi., 236-47).
For the Hydra is not dead; and its heads are Legion. Majoi VViUnian, for example, sits safe in Chepstow: but Sexby, the Anabaptist Colonel, whom we could not take on that occasion, is still busy; has been 'trying to seduce the Fleet,' trying to do this and that; is now fairly gone to Spain, to treat with Antichrist himself for the purpose of bringing-in a Reign of Christ,—the truly desperate Anabaptist Colonel !* It is a Hydra like few. Spiritual and Practical: Muggletonians, mad Quakers riding into Bristol, Fifth-Monarchists, Hungry Flunkeys: ever scheming, plotting with or without hope, to ' seduce the Protector's Guard,' 'to Glow up the Protector in his bed-room,' and do "other little fiddling things," as the Protector calls them,—which one cannot waste time in specifying! Only the slow course of Nature can kill that Hydra;: till a Colonel Sexby die, how can you keep him quiet ?—
But what doubtless gives new.vitality to plotting in these weeks, is the fact that a General Election to Parliament is going on. There is to be a new Parliament;—in which may lie who knows what contentions. The Protector lost it last time, by the arithmetical account of heads; will he gain it this time? Account of heads is not exactly the Protector's basis; but he hopes he may now gain it even so. At all events, this wide foreign and domestic Spanish War cannot be carried on without supplies; he will first try it so,—then otherwise if not so.
'To Henry Cromwell, Major-General of the Army in Ireland.'
'Whitehall,' 26th August, 1656.
We are informed, from several hands, that the old Enemy are forming designs to invade Ireland, as well as other parts of the Commonwealth; and that he and Spain have very great correspondence with some chief men in that Nation, for raising a sudden rebellion there.
Therefore we judge it very necessary that you take all possible care to put the Forces into such a condition as may answer anything that may fall out in this kind. And to that end, that you contract the Garrisons in Ireland, as many as may be; and get a considerable marching Army into the field, in two or three bodies, to be left in the most proper and advantageous places for service, as occasion shall require. Taking also,
in all other things, your best care you can to break and prevent the designs and combinations of the Enemy;—and a very particular regard is to be had to the North, where, without question, busy and discontented persons are working towards new disturbances. I do not doubt but you will communicate this thing to Colonel Cowper, to the end he may bo more watchful and diligent in looking to this danger, I rest,
Your loving father,
'Colonel Cowper' commands the Forces in Ulster. Plenty of details about him in Thurloe's Fourth Volume :—our readers can sufficiently conceive him without details. We are more interested to state, from a Letter of Thurloe's which goes along with this, that there are 'Fourteen Spanish ships plying about the Isle of Islay,' doubtless with an eye to Carrickfergus; that we hope, and indeed believe, my Lord Henry will be on the alert. For the rest, the elections are going well; all' for peace and settlement,' as we hear, 'and great friends to the Government.' Ashley Cooper, indeed, has been chosen for Wilts; but, on the other hand, Bradshaw has missed in Cheshire; Sir Henry Vane has tried in three places and missed in all.f This is of date 26th August, 1656; poor England universally sifting itself; trying what the arithmetical account of heads will do for it, once more.
About a fortnight ago, August 13th, learned Bulstrode went with the Swedish Ambassador to dine with a famed Sea-General, Sir George Ayscough; who lives for the present, retired from service, 'at his House in Surrey;' House not known to me; which by the aid of 'ponds, moats,' and hydraulic contrivances, he has made to 'stand environed in water like a ship at sea,'—very charming indeed; and says he has ' cast anchor' here. Our entertainment was superb. The brilliant Swedish Ambassador and Sir George spake much about frigates, their rates of sailing, their capabilities of fighting, and other technical topics; which a learned man might without much tedium listen to. 'After dinner, toe Ambassador came round by Hampton Court, to take his leave
* Sloane Mss., 4157, f. 209; and (with, insignificant variations) Thurloe., ., 348.
f Thurloe to Henry Cromwell,,date 26 Aug. (v., 349.)
of the Lady Claypole and her Sisters ;'*—which latter small fact, in the ancient Autumn afternoon, one rather loves to remember! As for this Swedish Ambassador, he is just about quitting Eng. land, the high-tempered, clear-glancing man; having settled 'copperas,' 'contrabanda,' and many other things, to mutual satisfaction ;—nay it is surmised he has thoughts of inviting Ayssough into Sweden to teach them seamanship there; which, however, shall not concern us on this occasion."!
But the new Parliament is now about assembling; wherefn we shall see what conclusions will be tried! A momentous question for his Highness and the Council of State; who have been, with interest enough, perusing and pondering the List of Names returned. On the whole, a hopeful Parliament, as Thurloe had expected: Official persons, these, and others known as friends tc this Government, are copiously elected: the great body of the Parliament seems to consist of men well-affected to his Highness, and even loyal to him; who, witnessing the course he follows, wish hipi heartily God-speed thereon. Certain others there are, and in considerable number, of stiff Republican ways, or given to turbulence in general, a Haselrig, a Thomas Scott, an Ashley Cooper: these, as a mass of leaven which might leaven the whole , lump, and produce one knows not what in the way of fermentation, are clearly very dangerous. But for these also his Highness and the Council of State, in the present anomalous condition of the Nation, have silently provided an expedient. Which we hope may be of service. On the whole, we hope this Parliament mav prove a better than the last.
At all events, on Wednesday, 17th September, 1656, Parliament, Protector, all in due state, do assemble at the Abbe) Church; and, with reverence and credence, hear Doctor Owen V:.ce-Chancellor of Oxford, very pertinently preach to them fron thsse old words of Isaiah,—old, and yet always new and true' What shall one then answer to the Messengers of the Nation? • Tha the Lord hath founded Zion, and the Poor of His People shall trus in it.* After which, all having removed, still in due state, to tin Painted Chamber, and there adjusted themselves, the Prctector rising in his elevated place and taking off his hat, now speaks