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CHAP. time for them to give place to others; and they yj^^ therefore desired them, after settling a council '1653, who might execute the laws during the interval, to summon a new parliament, and establish that free and equal government, which they had so long promised to the people.
The parliament took this remonstrance in ill part, and made a sharp reply to the council of officers. The officers insisted on their advice; and by mutual altercation and opposition the breach became still wider between the army and the common-t April 10. wealth. Gromwel, finding matters ripe for his purpose, called a council of officers, in order to come to a determination with regard to the public settlement. As he had here many friends, so had he also some opponents. Harrison having assured the council that the general sought only to pave the way for the government of Jesus and his saints, major Streator briskly replied, that Jesus ought then to come quickly: For if he delayed it till after Christmas, he would come too late; he would find his place occupied. While the officers were in debate, colonel Ingoldsby informed Cromwel, that the parliament was sitting, and had come to a resolution not to dissolve themselves, but to fill up the house by new elections; and was at that very time engaged in deliberations with regard to this expedient. Cromwel in a rage immediately hastened to the house, and carried a body of 300 soldiers along with him. Some of them he placed at the door, some in the lobby, some on the stairs. He first addressed himself to his friend St. John, and told him that he had come with a purpose of doing what grieved him to the very soul, and what he had earnestly with tears besought the Lord not to impose upon him: But there was a necessity, in order to the glory of God and good of the nation. He sat down for some time and heard the debate. He beckoned Harrison, and told him that he now judged the parliament ripe for a dissolution. "Sir," said Harrison, "the Chap. "work is very great and dangerous: I desire you v^J^.^ "seriously to consider, before you engage in it." 1653. "You say well," replied the general; and thereupon sat still about a quarter of an hour. When the question was ready to be put, he said again to Harrison, "This is the time: I must do it." And suddenly starting up, he loaded the parliament with the vilest reproaches, for their tyranny, ambition, oppression, and robbery of the public. Then stamping with his foot, which was a signal for the soldiers to enter; "For shame," said he to the parliament, "get you gone; give place to honester men; to "those who will more faithfully discharge their "trust. You are no longer a parliament: I tell "you, you are no longer a parliament. The Lord "has done with you: He has chosen other instru"ments for carrying on his work." Sir Harry Vane exclaiming against this proceeding, he cried with a loud voice, "O sir Harry Vane, sir Harry "Vane! The Lord deliver me from sir Harry "Vane!" Taking hold of Martin by the cloke, "Thou art a whoremaster," said he. To another^ "Thou art an adulterer." To a third, "Thou art "a drunkard and a glutton:" "And thou an ex"tortioner," to a fourth. He commanded a soldier to seize the mace. "What shall we do with "this bauble? Here take it away. It is you," said he, addressing himself to the house, " that have "forced me upon this. I have sought the Lord "night and day, that he would rather slay me than "put me upon this work." Having commanded the soldiers to clear the hall, he himself went out the last, and ordering the doors to be locked, departed to his lodgings in Whitehall.
In this furious manner, which so well denotes his genuine character, did Cromwel, without the least opposition, or even murmur, annihilate that
Chap. famous assembly which had filled all Europe with the renown of its actions, and with astonishment at 165s. its crimes, and whose commencement was not more ardently desired by the people than was its final dissolution. All parties now reaped successively the melancholy pleasure of seeing the injuries which they had suffered, revenged on their enemies; and that too by the same arts which had been practised against them. The king, had in some instances, stretched his prerogative beyond its just bounds; and, aided by the church, had well nigh put an end to all the liberties and privileges of the nation. The presbyterians checked the progress of the court and clergy, and excited, by cant and hypocrisy, the populace, first to tumults, then to war, against the king, the peers, and all the royalists. No sooner had they reached the pinnacle of grandeur, than the independents, under the appearance of still greater sanctity, instigated the army against them, and reduced them to subjection. The independents, amidst their empty dreams of liberty, or rather of dominion, were oppressed by the rebellion of their own servants, and found themselves at once exposed to the insults of power and hatred of the people. By recent, as well as all ancient, example, it was become evident that illegal violence, with whatever pretences it may be covered, and whatever object it may pursue, must inevitably end at last in the arbitrary and despotic government of a single person.
Cromwel's birth and private life—Barebones parliament—Cromwel made protector—Peace with Holland—A new parliament—Insurrection of the royalists—State of Europe—War with Spain— Jamaica conquered—Success and death of admiral Blake—Domestic administration of Cromwel— Humble petition and advice—Dunkirk taken— Sickness of the protector—His death and character.
OLIVER CROMWEL, in whose hands theCHAP. dissolution of the parliament had left the whole power, civil and military, of three king- 1653. doms, was born at Huntingdon, the last year ofj^TM']'* the former century, of a good family; though hegnvate himself, being the son of a second brother, inhe- "* rited but a small estate from his father. In the course of his education he had been sent to the university; but his genius was found little fitted for the calm and elegant occupations of learning, and he made small proficiencies in his studies. He even threw himself into a dissolute and disorderly course of life; and he consumed in gaming, drinking, debauchery, and country riots, the more early years of his youth, and dissipated part of his patrimony. All of a sudden the spirit of reformation seized him; he married, affected a grave and composed behaviour, entered into all the zeal and rigour of the puritanical party, and offered to restore to every
c H 'a r. one whatever sums he had formerly gained by vJt?^j garrung' The same vehemence of temper which 1 1653. had transported him into the extremes of pleasure now distinguished his religious habits. His house was the resort of all the zealous clergy of the party; and his hospitality, as well as his liberalities to the silenced and deprived ministers, proved as chargeable as his former debaucheries. Though he had acquired a tolerable fortune by a maternal uncle, he found his affairs so injured by his expences, that he was obliged to take a farm at St. Ives, and apply himself, for some years, to agriculture as a profession. But this expedient served rather to involve him in farther debts and difficulties. The long prayers which he said to his family in the morning, and again in the afternoon, consumed his own time and that of his ploughmen; and he reserved no leisure for the care of his temporal affairs. His active mind, superior to the low occupations to which he was condemned, preyed upon itself; and he indulged his imagination in visions, illuminations, revelations; the great nourishment of that hypocondriacal temper to which he was ever subject. Urged by his wants and his piety, he had made a party with Hambden, his near kinsman, who was pressed only by the latter motive, to transport himself into New England, now become the retreat of the more zealous among the puritanical party; and it was an order of council which obliged them to disembark and remain in England. The earl of Bedford, who possessed a large estate in the Fen Country, near the isle of Ely, having undertaken to drain these morasses, was obliged to apply to the king; and by the powers of the prerogative, he got commissioners appointed, who conducted that work, and divided the new-acquired land among the several proprietors. He met with opposition from many, among whom Cromwel distinguished 5 himself;