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CHAP. was even issued to confine all the native Irish to the i^f^lL province of Connaught, where they would be shut i656. up by rivers, lakes, and mountains; and could not, it was hoped, be any longer dangerous to the English government: But this barbarous and absurd policy, which, from an impatience of attaining immediate security, must have depopulated all the other provinces, and rendered the English estates of no value, was soon abandoned as impracticable. New par- Cromwel began to hope that, by his adminihament. stration, attended with so much lustre and success abroad, so much order and tranquillity at home, he had now acquired such authority as would enable him to meet the representatives of the nation, and would assure him of their dutiful compliance with his government. He summoned a parliament; but, not trusting altogether to the good-will of the people, he used every art which his new model of representation allowed him to employ, in order to influence the elections, and fill the house with his own creatures. Ireland, being entirely in the hands of the army, chose few but such officers as were most acceptable to him. Scotland shewed a like compliance; and as the nobility and gentry of that kingdom regarded their attendance on English parliaments as an ignominious badge of slavery, it was, on that account, more easy for the officers to prevail in the elections. Notwithstanding all these precautions, the protector still found that the majority Sept. 17. would not be favourable to him. He set guards, therefore, on the door, who permitted none to enter but such as produced a warrant from his council; and the council rejected about a hundred, who either refused a recognition of the protector's government, or were on other accounts obnoxious to him. These protested against so egregious a violence, subversive of all liberty; but every application for redress was neglected both by the council and the parliament.
The majority of the parliament, by means of C H A. P. these arts and violences, was now at last either friendly to the protector, or resolved, by their com- i6M. pliance, to adjust, if possible, this military government to their laws and liberties. They voted a renunciation of all title in Charles Stuart, or any of his family; and this was the first act, dignified with the appearance of national consent, which had ever had that tendency. Colonel Jephson, in order to sound the inclinations of the house, ventured to move, that the parliament should bestow the crown on Cromwel; and no surprise or reluctance was discovered on the occasion. When Cromwel afterwards asked Jephson what induced him to make such a motion; "As long," said Jephson, "as I "have the honour to sit in parliament, I must fol"low the dictates of my own conscience, whatever "offence I may be so unfortunate as to give you." "Get thee gone," said Cromwel, giving him a gentle blow on the shoulder, "get thee gone, for a "mad fellow as thou art."
In order to pave the way to this advancement, for which he so ardently longed, Cromwel resolved to sacrifice his major-generals, whom he knew to be extremely odious to the nation. That measure was also become necessary for his own security. All government, purely military, fluctuates perpetually between a despotic monarchy and a despotic aristocracy, according as the authority of the chief commander prevails, or that of the officers next him in rank and dignity. The major-generals, being possessed of so much distinct jurisdiction, began to establish a separate title to power, and had rendered themselves formidable to the protector himself; and for this inconvenience, though he had not foreseen it, he well knew, before it was too late, to provide a properremedy. Claypole, his son-in-law, who possessed his confidence, abandoned them to the plea- ,sure of the house; and though the name was still rer • - . tained,
Chap. tained, it was agreed to abridge, or rather entirely annihilate, the power of the major-generals. 1656. At length, a motion in form was made by alderman Pack, one of the city members, for investing the protector with the dignity of King. This motion, at first, excited great disorder, and divided the whole house into parties. The chief opposition came from the usual adherents of the protector, the major-generals, and such officers as depended on them. Lambert, a man of deep intrigue, and of great interest in the army, had long entertained the ambition of succeeding Cromwel in the protectorship; and he foresaw, that if the monarchy were restored, hereditary right would also be established, and the crown be transmitted to the posterity of the prince first elected. He pleaded, therefore, conscience; and rousing all those civil and religious jealousies against kingly government, which had been so industriously encouraged among the soldiers, and which served them as a pretence for so many violences he raised a numerous, and still more formidable, party against the motion.
On the other hand, the motion was supported by every one who was more particularly devoted to the protector, and who hoped, by so acceptable a measure, to pay court to the prevailing authority. Many persons also, attached to their country, despaired of ever being able to subvert the present illegal establishment; and were desirous, by fixing it on ancient foundations, to induce the protector, from views of his own safety, to pay a regard to the ancient laws and liberties of the kingdom. Even the royalists imprudently joined in the measure; and hoped that, when the question regarded only persons, not forms of government, no one would any longer balance between the ancient royal family and an ignoble usurper, who, by blood, treason, and peroHeredto fidy, had made his way to the throne. The bill cremwei. voted by a considerable majority; and a committee mittee was appointed to reason with the protector, CHAP. and to overcome those scruples which he pretended ^^.O against accepting so liberal an offer. i657.
The conference lasted for several days. The9thApnl' committee urged, that all the statutes and customs of England were founded on the supposition of regal authority, and could not, without extreme violence, be adjusted to any other form of government: That a protector, except during the minority of a king, was a name utterly unknown to the laws; and no man was acquainted with the extent or limits of his authority: That if it were attempted to define every part of his jurisdiction, many years, if not ages, would be required for the execution of so complicated a work; if the whole power of the king were at once transferred to him, the question was plainly about a name, and the preference was indisputably due to the ancient title: That the English constitution was more anxious concerning the form of government than concerning the birthright of the first magistrate, and had provided, by an express law of Henry VII. for the security of those who act in defence of the king in being, by whatever means he might have acquired possession: That it was extremely the interest of all his highness's friends to seek the shelter of this statute; and even the people in general were desirous of such a settlement, and in all juries were with great difficulty induced to give their verdict in favour of a protector: That the great source of all the late commotions had been the jealousy of liberty; and that a republic, together with a protector, had been established, in order to provide farther securities for the freedom of the constitution; but that by experience the remedy had been found insufficient, even dangerous and pernicious; since every undeterminate power, such as that of a protector, must be arbitrary; and the more arbitrary, as it was contrary to the genius and inclination of the people.
Chap Th E difficulty consisted not in persuading Cromjjj^l/ wel. He was sufficiently convinced of the solidity i«57. of these reasons; and his inclination, as well as judgment, was entirely on the side of the committee. But how to bring over the soldiers to the same way of thinking was the question. The office of king had been painted to them in such horrible colours, that there were no hopes of reconciling them suddenly to it, even though bestowed upon their general, to whom they were so much devoted. A contradiction, open and direct, to all past professions, would make them pass, in the eyes of the whole nation, for the most shameless hypocrites, inlisted, by no other than mercenary motives in the cause of the most perfidious traitor. Principles, such as they were, had been encouraged in them by every consideration, human and divine; and though it was easy, where interest concurred, to deceive them by the thinnest disguises, it might be found dangerous at once to pull off the mask, and to shew them in a full light the whole crime and deformity of their conduct. Suspended between these fears and his own most ardent desires, Cromwel protracted the time, and seemed still to oppose the reasonings of the committee; in hopes that by artifice he might be able to reconcile the refractory minds of the soldiers to his new dignity.
While the protector argued so much in contradiction both to his judgment and inclination, it is no wonder that his elocution, always confused, embarrassed, and unintelligible, should be involved in tenfold darkness, and discover no glimmering of common sense or reason. An exact account of this conference remains, and may be regarded as a great curiosity. The members of the committee, in their reasonings, discover judgment, knowledge, elocution: Lord Broghil, in particular, exerts himself on this memorable occasion. But what a contrast, when we pass to the protector's replies! After so